Archives for category: Baby Boomer

As I traveled through the middle of northern Oklahoma’s wheat fields into the lush mountains and valleys of northeastern New Mexico to finally stop in the arid terrain of Santa Fe in such a short period of time, is always exciting and underlines why I do what I do…the backroads of our wonderful, diverse country.

As an amateur geologist, I LOVE to see the result of millions of years of erosion which  emphatically defines the dynamics behind the peak formations of mountains…striations of different rocks forced in vertical, instead of horizontal positions. The drive from Albuquerque to Las Vegas is one of the finest areas to experience this natural phenomina.

The driver from Las Vegas to Los Angeles, however, defines a vastly different natural occurrence of underwater ocean beds of the dryest terrain varying from vast salt beds and desert to arid mountains and valleys.

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This what greeted me as I left the desert of Nevada and crossed over into California!

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And this is when I knew LA was near!

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I knew I was getting close to LA when a pack of about thirty motorcycle gangers went whizzing between lanes on the expressway going about 90 MPH! That, and the insane expressway traffic of $200,000 cars pulling Speed Racer tricks in and out of lanes to get five feet closer to an exit lane confirmed (as if there was any doubt) that I was approaching LA.

As I neared my destination (45 miles outside LA), I was abducted by aliens. I’m sure that could be the only reason why my phone stopped working, my Bluetooth didn’t recognize  my phone, my GPS (Tom) sent me around in circles telling me to go in a direction only to have me immediately exit to go back from when I came and never got any closer than that same 45 miles to Rachel (my LA daughter-by-another-mother)! Tom never adjusted the distance to Rachel nor did my gas gauge change from a quarter of a tank during this time warp.

In all fairness to Tom (my GPS) has taken me close to 150,000 miles of backroads and interstates since I started in 2009 and this is a first. Finally, after being on every interstate, state road and street between me and Rachel for over an hour, I called her to find out what roads I needed to take. I admit to surprising the urge to throw Tom (my GPS) out the window. But remembering that he has a 99.9% success rate and I do love Tom, I realized his malfunction wasn’t his fault at all but the result of an alien abduction. After I told on him to Rachel, he straightened right up and got us on the right road.

When I finally got on the right road (I-10 W), Tom kept saying, literally every miles and a half, “stay in the left lane” over and over and over again like I was the one who screwed up! Humph!

I got to Rachel’s and my phone worked but my Bluetooth never recovered but I certainly did the minute I saw my special angel, Rachel. I’ve loved her from the first moment I met her at age eleven. I walked into her home full of angels! Rachel, her wonderful husband and baby are very special people to me. It’s a safe haven of acceptance, love and respect.

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Rachel, Noah and Itty Bit

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A loving daddy!

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My angels! See us in the mirror?

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The three of us!

I am truly blessed! Thank you, my loves, for being you!

Next? I go back to Vegas, Baby to pick up the Queen of Electra Brass (Jenni Lee) to take our annual trip to new and exciting places!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS…YOUR PICK!

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Yesterday, my sister and I met a nice owner (C. G. Higgins) of a confectionary of the same name in Historic Santa Fe who convinced us to come see him for great coffee and quiche. Well, he was right! It gave us the much needed energy to absorb a wonderful permanent exhibit in the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

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Georgia O’Keeffe’s Home in Abiquiu, NM

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At home

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Shown with one of her abstracts

 

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Georgia O’Keeffe Research Center

As we complex women are, we have many shades to our many colors. She was a hardy outdoors woman and a femme fatal; an artist and a horticulturist; a brilliant artist and an adventurer. The parallels between Georgia O’Keeffe and Frida Kahlo were brought more into focus by seeing their exhibits back-to-back! WOW!

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Georgia O’Keeffe on the back!

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Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting “Bella Donna!”

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She loved to study the bones of animals she found in the desert and take those shapes found in them and nature to create her abstract art.

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Georgia O’Keeffe’s “mountain.” She said that if she painted this mountain outside her cabin enough, the it would be her’s forever…and it is here and at Ghost Ranch!

As we meandered along the wonderful, flavorful streets of Historic Santa Fe, we talked of how we really had hoped to find an authentic Mexican restaurant. As luck would have it (or greater Devine intervention), we happened to go down Burro Alley to find just what we were looking for…Los Magueyes! Lovely people and great food!

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We departed Santa Fe to find new adventures along the Turquoise Trail (NM Highway 13) towards Albuquerque, NM.

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Turquoise Trail (NM Hwy 14)

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Turquoise Highway

The first little town on the Turquoise Highway large enough to make a stop to explore was Madrid.

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Of course there’s a cowgirl there!

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Great little village

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Sandia Crest National Park with an elevation at it’s peak of over 10,000 feet is just off the   Turquoise Trail on Highway 536. It’s worth the drive for sure! It has a great little gift shop at the top where we met another transported Atlantan!

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Sandia Crest Nat’l Park (10,000+ feet) off the Turquoise Hwy

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These “fingers” of rain which evaporate before reaching the ground are called “Virgo.”

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First on our agenda was to get the feel of Historic Albuquerque and we, of course, were greeted with lots of red chili peppers!

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Historic Albuquerque (Covered Wagon)

Eat? Heck yeah! Locals recommended Church Street Cafe. Great choice!

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Church Street Cafe

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Inside Church St. Cafe

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Inside Church St. Cafe

We were so very fortunate to meet other southerners, artists and kindred spirits on our “Friend Traveling Sisters Hauling A$$ Great Adventure,” We drove over 3,000 miles in a week and it’s been life altering for us both…something to embrace with laughter and BIG smiles forever. We have so many new friend from this trip who will be in our hearts and prayers forever! We are truly blessed.

I hope to stay in touch with each of you through email, travels, phone or telepathic communications forever! Each of you touched our hearts so there you’ll reside until we meet again.

Tomorrow? VEGAS BABY!

HAPPY TAILS (found Montana hair in the truck today), TALES OR TRIALS! You’re pick!

Last year before I left on that Great Adventure, I’d prayed for healing and to trust in God to show me the path it. It was, from the beginning, an amazing journey of trust and healing. As I contemplated this years Great Adventure, I prayed for Spiritual healing. And it has been just that.

As my sister and I drove through northern Arkansas to get to Branson, Missouri, she kept telling me that she had had a recurring dream of this very drive along the Buffalo River and seeing rock structures. Everywhere we went there were rock houses and buildings. It just kept reaffirming to us how the miracle of her being able to join me on this trip (our first alone in 22 years) that it was going to be cosmic. At every turn, it has been.

We left Bartlesville, OK (in northeastern Oklahoma) yesterday across the entire northern  Oklahoma panhandle about ten hours to get to Eagle Nest, New Mexico! It was worth the sacrifice because of the magnificent views which greeted us and the wonderful people we met upon arriving.

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Thousands of acres of wheat framed by gray clouds and rich green vegetation

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Amber Waves Of Grain in northern Oklahoma

The pictures above pretty much sum up the cross-state adventure of Oklahoma accentuated with rolling hills of enormous pasturelands with cows and horses. We had the best time laughing over childhood stories and other adventures. We’re sitting here still trying to believe that was just yesterday (and not a week ago) when we were in the car that long!

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Cimarron Canyon State Park was the prelude to Eagle Nest.

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These kind of rock outcroppings always make me brake for a photo

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The trees aren’t bad either!

The payoff was Eagle Nest, New Mexico and the incredible Spiritual Healer we met and all the welcoming, lovely citizens of that precious gem of a community we now know we want to visit. Eagle Nest, NM.

This morning, we wandered around this lovely western village meeting new friends and hugging kindred spirits we’d met last night. We hiked down a trail to sit on a picnic table to soak up the vast openness of this valley, inhale the healing peace and air around us and tap into God’s wonders all around us like the beautiful wild flowers.

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Magnificent wildflowers of this kind and delicate purple irises!

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This lake is huge!

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More snow capped mountains surrounding this valley

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Big sky

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More contrasts

We tore ourselves away to head for a light day of driving to Taos, New Mexico. What a beautiful town full of northern New Mexico adobe structures and artistry. We walked around the shops and couldn’t resist capturing some of its magnificent culture in local native music, weavings and garments. We ate at Doc Martin’s. We were immediately informed by our bustling waitress that this Doc Martin had absolutely nothing to do with the TV show or the shoes as she dropped our menus on the table! After we ordered, she then instructed us to read the history of the restaurant’s origins on the back of the menu. She kinda reminded me of my fourth grade no-nonsense teacher I had.

We had put our hotel address into my GPS which promptly took us 12 miles in the opposite direction to find the Rio Grande River Gorge! It wasn’t really my GPS’s fault because this small town has way too many similar names! Anyway, my brave sister walked out onto the overlook in the middle of the bridge to take these pictures!

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North view of Rio Grande River Gorge north of Tao, New Mexico

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South view of Rio Grande River Gorge north of Taos, NM

Tomorrow, we head for Santa Fe, NM to see the Georgia O’keeffe art gallery, a church with a suspended staircase and more!

HAPPY TAILS (in loving memory of Montana, the best Service Dog ever), OR TALES OR TRAILS! Reader’s choice!

 

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I thought it important to reach as many people as possible so I’ve decided to Reblog this to my fromafriend7491 blog site normally used for my traveling adventures. But, as most of you know, I designed and created Ava’s Corner after my daughter took her life to help others going through similar hidden thoughts and confusion and, to that end, I’m sharing it here as well.

Ava's Corner

I’ve turned a corner…a good corner.

After Ava left us, many things happened to me (Ava’s mom). I went insane, I lost vocabulary, I could no longer listen to music because she WAS music, I tortured myself in trying to recollect every minute of that last year…conversation…minute before I passed out from being so tired to that moment of hearing that horrible news. To say that first year was fraught with the most horrific grief, love, pain, joy of remembering, anger, relief that she was no longer in an earthly torture, resentment because I still was…is a GROSS understatement of all the other experiences I had then and since.

The good news? Wait for it. I promise it’s coming!

My 2016 summer trip West to immerse myself in HER Las Vegas and friends helped my healing immensely. After coming home, I was finally able to grieve for my loss of…

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For the whole year of 1982, my 16-year-old son, 5-year-old daughter and I underwent the divorce process. An ugly, painful, gut wrenching, damaging divorce from a person who I thought was my “soul” mate.

In the divorce, I got all the bills, the kids, the sewing machine (a Christmas present) and a 1963 Ford Falcon Futura Convertible which looked more like something waiting for a crusher than for refurbishment.

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The car had been abandoned near Underground Atlanta in the mid-1970′s and my then husband bought it for $25.00. My mom thought he’d overpaid until she saw first hand what I needed it for.  I moved me, kids and car into Mom’s. I put the car up on cinder blocks and pulled off all the tires and chrome. It was when I started beating the dents out with a 2″x2″ board and sledge-hammer instead of killing my husband when Mom “saw the light”.

Yep. I did all the body work with a 2″x2″ and a sledge-hammer. It did wonders for my soul. I played “What’s love got to do with it” by Tina Turner on the boombox full blast singing along with every WHAM of the sledge-hammer. I kept getting more and more empowered with every strike at the SOB… my ex… n0t the car!

Next, I took Naval Jelly to remove the rust and primer to prevent more. I removed the seats, door panels fixing 25 year old problems. I spent every morning before work at the junkyard with Liquid Wrench, screwdriver, hammer and pliers in-hand pulling scuff plates and anything else I needed off the 1963 Ford Falcon Futura pickup truck there. Only problem was my vehicle not only was a convertible but a 1963-1/2 model which made most of the parts unusable and certainly not returnable. I couldn’t afford to buy new ones from J.C. Whitney Catalog and had to make do. It was more fun. I know… that sounds sick.
I joined a Falcon club to talk shop with other Futura owners and to glean some insider information about where to get parts not found in junkyards. Ava and I  proudly drove our topless “in-progress” vehicle to these meetings. Turned out the top I purchased from the catalog wouldn’t fit! Oh well, I still needed to finish the body work, paint job, rebuilding the rear floorboard and whole interior so a topless convertible just felt right.

My dear friend, Bunnie Seignious,  from high school used to ride around Sandy Springs with me to garage sales while the Falcon was in this condition, topless and all. It was on one of these excursions that a huge nest of some kind  (probably squirrel) fell out from under the dash onto her feet! She and I experienced simulcast, spontaneous screaming laughter! Ya’ see, Bunnie was used to riding around in my crazy cars. In the mid-60′s to late, I used to give her a ride to work every morning  in my 1960 Karman Ghia Convertible (“George”). It was on those cold, dark early winter mornings on a curvy road to the Interstate where first, the glovebox door would fall open. About that time, we’d be in full bore right turn mode when her car door would fly open! Every morning was an adventure!      Those cars didn’t have heat unless the engine was warm and moving forward. When you stopped, you had outside air inside. Gosh. I miss her. She went too soon.

So, once finished, who do you think got the first ride? Bunnie. She couldn’t believe the transformation any more than my mom.

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My friends complained that I spent too much time on the car as did my young daughter. It was a necessity. It was therapy.

It was after the car “turned” on me that I became eager to sell it. Yep. It turned on me. Ava and I would be on a nice Sunday drive when it would just come to a dead S-T-O-P, and refuse to crank. I’d push the darn car over to the side of the road when it would then promptly crank. It was “Christine” before Stephen King ever dreamt it up. Actually, maybe it was him who witnessed this event and decided to make millions off my misery. Wish I’d thought of it first!

After all was said and done, I got out of it less than I had in it, monetarily speaking, but I certainly gained some level of sanity over the experience.

HAPPY TAILS!
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Wow! I had to go into hybernati0n to get back up to speed to even write about the last two days of my trip home! I didn’t feel like I was all that exhausted until I stopped! It’s like the old joke about the guy who keeps hitting his head against the wall and won’t stop. A fellow asks him why he doesn’t quit it and his reply is, “It doesn’t hurt until I stop!”

I knew I had a great deal to process once I got home and I understood I’d be tired but what caught me unawares was how mentally wiped out I’d become from all the hard work I’d done in pushing my way to a new level of grief healing. Don’t get me wrong! I loved every minute of my 2016 Great Adventure (except for the Lebanese LA restaurant thang and a couple of others) because I was focused, determined and motivated to my quest of how I wanted to live the rest of my life…or the third chapter. I’m still not sure of all the details as I’m still processing but going west annually is definitely in my future!

As this journey has been about contrasts…before and after Ava’s death; before and after my journey; west vs. east; desert mountains vs. Smokey Mountains; water vs. drought…I thought I’d post a couple of photos that struck me from my last day on the road that focus on the differences between the far west and the near east of US.

On the back roads in the west, I witnessed a great deal of drought; a great deal of wasted water irrigating to artificially stimulate growth with more moisture lost in evaporation than plants benefited in extreme arid climates; dry creek beds; river and lake levels atrociously low (Walker Lake in NV is 181 feet below normal per Wikipedia and Lake Mead is at a record low) yet Las Vegas continues to pump millions of gallons of water into artificial lakes, fountains and entertainment venues causing the drought to worsen; more strip mining than you’d ever think; outrageous heat (triple digits); very dry air; no green vegetation save cacti and succulents; 75 MPH speed limits and California’s aggressive drivers.

Walker Lake, NV

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Outside of Tonapah, NV

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On the back roads in the east, I found Tennessee to have the most aggressive drivers (mostly between Memphis and Nashville); not as much evidence of strip mining as I’d seen before; full rivers, creeks and lakes; moist air and normal temps (high 80’s) and lots of vegetation. I was even glad to see the Kudzu!

NC mountains close to home!

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My father raised us all to be very mindful of the earth and our need to protect it. I’m sad to say that my generation hasn’t appeared to do a very good job of that and it’s only going to get worse because society has moved into the instant gratification mindset and I’m afraid the new generation doesn’t care or understand  about the long term ramifications of such a lifestyle not only on them but on our precious earth.

As my children are gone and I have no grandchildren, it’s really up to those of you who do have them to teach the next generation to love Mother Earth and help resuscitate her back to a healthy normal!

HAPPY TAILS!

 

Today will be short and sweet…well, some not so sweet.

I stayed in a Motel 6 in Albuquerque last night in a very sketchy neighborhood. As I hadn’t eaten anything worth talking about, I needed to find some decent food. I turned right on the main street. Wrong! Even the hair salon had burglar bars on the windows! Really? Like the gangs are stealing hair goop now?

The good news is that I found a place to turn around and found the nicest Denny’s. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. Close call!

As far as New Mexico, there are only two pictures because I’m not in the exploring mode. I’m in the Get’er Done Donna mode. I hope to drive into my own driveway by Friday. That means I have about 1000 miles to go which, by my drive-aholic standards, ain’t all that bad.

Hasta la vista, New Mexico!

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The not-s0-sweet part is when I was sorely reminded of the thousands of wind turbines for about a hundred miles on each side of Amarillo, Texas. Driving out this time, I bailed off I-40 and hit the back roads so I really didn’t see as many then as I saw today.

I couldn’t help but wonder so many things…like the adverse effects on the herds of cattle feeding in those thousands of acres of wind turbines churning and transmitting energy underground. Or exactly how long it will take to make back on the investment  and will it be before the footfall field sized unit is obsolete. Or what is the effect of all this electricity in the ground on us? The questions ticked constantly in my head as I tried to guesstimate how many there were in my field of vision not to mention all the ones not. Or in Kansas, Nebraska, and so on.

I’m not sure I really want to know the answers, but my brain is so geared to ask the hard questions that I can’t stop it. Look at these.

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Tomorrow? Finish Oklahoma, cross Arkansas and get to Memphis or beyond.

HAPPY TAILS!

Traveling from Las Vegas on the end of my healing journey, crossing Arizona and New Mexico will always and forever remind me of Ava. In 2002, Ava and I went on our spiritual ancestral past in the Navajo Nation. We started at Window Rock and climbed Canyon de Chelly, hiked around the Four Corners and Monument Valley, visited the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff (to visit U of A), Sedona and the Petrified Forest in seven days.

In those days, traveling in the Navajo Nation was all back roads. We connected on a new level and she decided to not study at University of Arizona in Flagstaff and continue her opera training at Shorter College in Rome, Georgia (the Julliard of the south).

Staying in Flagstaff last night brought on a flood of memories. I digress here to share my healing journey…because this was/is the purpose of this 2016 Great Adventure. Flagstaff triggered memories of my son-of-another-mother, Mark M. was in school at U of A at the time when Ava and I were there to see if it was a good fit for her. However, it was my Georgia real estate expertise which brought him into my fold. I was the last person in the US to see him alive when he came to see me at the Southern Comfort Cabin in the summer of 2014. He came to tell me he was going to take his life. We talked thirteen hours straight until the wee hours. He said he felt better but I knew it was only a temporary fix because I could see his determination. My heart still breaks over his decision.

Ava decided to go to Shorter College (a Baptist college) which definitely didn’t fit Ava but it was her love of her early mentor, Madame Fiori, who was ninety when she started training eighteen year old Ava’s voice. Madame left everything to Shorter College when she died. It was for that reason Ava decided to go to that alien planet to study. It wasn’t until Ava went to UNLV (U of N, LV) when she found her kindred mentors.

Even though I avoided Flagstaff areas Ava and I had been in 2002, it was when I came across the brown national park sign announcing the Petrified Forest National Park that caused me to regress. I drove blindly into the park hoping to revisit those days to fell my girl and remembering how much fun we had on that trip. It worked.

I recommend taking your time immersing yourself in this beautiful, peaceful, magical geologic anomaly.

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Blue Mesa

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Painted rock

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Petrified Jasper forest

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It was too hot to actually get out of the car and look at Newspaper Rock. Look it up. So very historic and way cool.

 

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The many times I’ve driven the I-40 east and west, I never stopped in Gallup to check out a place my dear friend, Fred (owner of Prairie Trails in Sautee, GA) had traveled for years to buy items for his Native American centered store. The trip is just too hard for him any more and I promised this time to go to Richardson Trading Post in Gallup.

I guess I used up all my camera battery life on the Petrified Forest because it died as I was snapping photos. I couldn’t get a pic of the front of the shop nor the vast array of items for sale…both old and new. Here’s a taste. Beware, however, if you go onto what appears to be their “official” site, McAfee puts up an alert so don’t click on it as I have a feeling they still work with an abacus!

There was so much to take in but the neatest part for me was the stuffed white buffalo! I so would have bought that!

 

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HAPPY TAILS!

As I don’t drive over large dams or bridges, I go around Hoover Dam when I leave Vegas and plan to head east on I-40. Instead, I go South on Hwy 95 and cut across to Kingsland, AZ via Hwy. 153 to pick up either Route 66 or the 40. Today, I chose the historic route…Route 66.

The last time I was on this section of Route 66 (there’s a turn off for the Historic Route 66 Loop west near Kingsland), I was with my daughter, Ava, on s spiritual quest in 2001 or 2002 on the tail end of our trip and headed for the petrified forest. I should have remembered all the photo ops on it. It really should be savored and walked around in to enjoy the ambience of the diners and the early Americana history not to mention the magnificent landscape and geologic sights.

Here are a few that turned out good enough to publish. As the towns are few and far between, I’m posting them all together.

However, one must go through some amazing geologic formations in southwest Nevada along Hwy. 95 etc. before Arizona.

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Enjoy Route 66!

Oops! It looks like some of my best pictures of the historic buildings have disappeared. The scenic landscapes  below are between the historic towns which have survived.

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Dust Devil! Finally caught one!

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If you look closely, you’ll see a snow capped mountain range. Jenni and I kept seeing one similar to this in northern California and I thought, for a moment, this was the same one I called Kilimanjaro!

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The road we took coming from Auburn, CA to cross the state was Hwy. 299 which was gorgeous but had some road construction delays which were 45 minutes to an hour in 97 degree heat. However, the pay off before and after the wait was well worth it as you can see for yourself in my blog from last week.

Leaving started out well…but…

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And please note that after this point, there are no pictures of us on Hwy. 36 because it was a hundred times more challenging than how I started this trip on The Tail of the Dragon, for those of you who have followed me from the beginning. This wonderful, beautiful road turned into a double-fisted, gut wrenching, switchback road from hell with all the familiar names of rivers, etc. on Hwy. 299 but n0ne of the views! There was a house or two, a ranch or two and nothing else for 138 miles but curve after curve to the point we were ALL sick! No joke! Even Montana!

When we reached Auburn, we were most happy to be with a loving friend who took us in, made jokes, gave us great lodgings and helped us recover our humor before going to bed. It was rough and I’ve driven many a back road but this one ain’t driving that one again!

Today was another nine hour driving day. It was hot and tough but we made it back to 113 degrees outside and 96 inside! Jenni’s A/C kicked the bucket while we were gone! Ain’t that just the way it is!

I’ll keep washing and packing; she’ll keep doing all her stuff; Montana will still be Montana; Boo will still be Boo; and there promises to be a Southern Comfort Cabin in my near future and A/C in hers!

HAPPY TAILS!