Archives for category: woman camping alone

This part of my trip is just too good to skip over so I’m dedicating this post just to the beauty and wonderment of Flaming Gorge, Utah located in Ashley National Forest. I was so excited that I took this 14 photo sequence of my journey into the park and going back out. These photos have not been published in this blog before. I hope these images sends to you what I felt as I drove into this wonderland… awe, respect, quiet, wonderment, excitement, joy and about a million other emotions. Enjoy the journey.

#7 of 14 in sequence

#8

#9

#10

#11

#12

#13

and, last but not least, #14:

#14

You can visit other photos taken that day of Sheep Creek, the cabin I stayed in and other great views in my earlier post named “From Wyoming into the arms of Utah” published 5/17/11.

Happy Memories!

We’ve had the best time in this sleepy little mountain town visiting friends and getting to know the quaint town of about 150,000 they call home. Roanoke Virginia is a mixture of mountains, valleys, old buildings and houses with some new blood.

Yesterday, we had breakfast at Thelma’s Chicken & Waffles (www.thelmaschickenandwaffles.biz 540-343-8888) in downtown Roanoke. Not only was the food amazing but the lady who served us made the whole experience that much more wonderful. The sparkle in her eyes and the smile on her face framed her fabulous energy. The cost was reasonable. Because it was Sunday morning, the place was packed and we ended up being there longer than planned but it was all good.

Issac’s Mediterranean Restaurant (theisaacsrestaurant.com) is one of the best of its kind. I haven’t had better Gyro… ever. The meat was fresh,tender, tasty and juicy. The sautéed kale was the best as was the Vegi Plate. Big recommendation.

Next, we stopped at Local Roots (localrootscafe.com) to try their Cherry-Tini martini-type drink made with fresh squeezed cherry juice, vodka and other good stuff.

The last stop was to see “Midnight in Paris”. The theater reminded me of a mini-Fox Theater in Atlanta. Nice atmosphere and a not-t00-complicated movie with great company.

We headed home via the Blue Ridge Mountains down I-81. The lush vegetation was a pleasant relief to all the vast arid areas I’d just been in for the last month. My daughter and I felt like our skin was sucking up all the moisture in the air like a fish gasping for oxygen when it’s outta’ water.

Blue Ridge Mountains I-81

GREEN!

Then you get into North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains come alive!

North Carolina Blue Ridge View

North Carolina

As my home is nestled in northeast Georgia between North and South Carolina, I’m a little partial to the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountain views. Just sayin’!

Happy Trails!

We’ve had the hammer down these last few days trying to finish up our trip to  Atlanta as Ava has music to learn before leaving for Austria, people to see at  home  and I’ve got 6 weeks of accumulated mail to dig through and grass to cut.  I’ll be  glad to be back home but I’m already planning my next trip.

As for this one, last night was scary. We were outside of Memphis by about 70  miles when we noticed quite a “light show” going on. The more east we went,  the  worse the lightning got; I’d never seen cloud to cloud lightning before and  this was  scary stuff. Strangest part of it was the lightening skipped across the  sky like a stone across water… barely hitting briefly down before showing up a  little farther down an imaginary horizontal line. THAT’s what convince me we needed to take action.

Ava, feeling the same way, whipped out her IPhone and went on Weather.com  while I tuned into a  local radio station to see how bad the weather was ahead.  After all, we were still in Arkansas and they’re known for tornadoes and hail.

That horrible ehhhhh ehhhhh alert was coming out of the radio at the same time  Ava found hail and storm warnings on her phone. That was it. The radio told us  to find shelter immediately! I’d remembered there was a Motel 6 in Brinkley,  Arkansas just west of Memphis from my 2009 trip. Ava pulled it up on Google  map and we got there without difficulty. We checked in and went to bed  unscathed. That was a close one.

This morning we drove to Knoxville to visit family and tomorrow we head for  Roanoke to visit a friend and then we head for ATL. Whew! 10,000 in 6 weeks.  I’m ready to go again.

I’m hoping to upgrade to a more unpredictable weather friendly structure to replace the pop-up by summers end and explore western half of Colorado.

In the meantime, Happy Trails to you until we meet again.

Ready for action - 5/13/2011

Ann (part owner of the Thai restaurant where we ate last night, Thai Cafe) had  invited Ava and me to her private 3 year anniversary celebration at Thai Cafe  today from 9:30 to 11:3o. After we broke camp, we drove into town where I  dropped Ava off and went to look for a parking space large enough for Silver (my  truck) with a pop-up attached. Good luck!

This is Old Santa Fe Trail (also Route 66 in some parts)

First of all let me say this about that. There is very little parking in Old Santa Fe,  the streets are very narrow and parking scarce.  It’s like New Orleans that way.  Finding street parking is because the “parking  Gods” are with you or there’s bad  weather! I understand they’re building parking  decks but that doesn’t  accommodate tourists in RV’s or with any kind of  truck/camper setup.

I proceeded to drive around and around. The good news is that Ava and I had  walked most of the area of Old Town that I was in the night before looking for  just the right place to eat (she won’t eat Mexican and I won’t eat Indian so we  settled on Thai). Fortuitously, I ended up at the Visitors Center where I found an  area marked “RV parking only”. Silver plus the pop-up certainly qualified as an  “RV” so I parked there while I went into the Visitors Center to tell them what I  was doing and why.

The woman at the Visitors Center put so many red markings of unsatisfactory  places of where to go on  the Old Town  map that I was totally confused by the  time I was leaving that I  pulled the “I’m a  writer” card. I told her I was going to  write about the parking  issue in my next  blog. She told me I could keep my car  where it was for a couple  of hours. So there it is; but there’s more!

I also told the woman at the Visitors Center that I was glad to have experienced  “dog friendly” merchants in Old Town the night before. She indicated the “dog  friendly” part didn’t extend to any other facilities. Great. Now I realize that I  won’t be able to take experience the two places I came to see: Georgia O’Keefe  Museum or San Miguel  because Ava was busy and I had nowhere to leave  Montana. Oh well. I’ll just have to come back when everyone else is at home (like the middle of the night) and when it’s not 100 degrees (like October) so I can leave Montana in the car and do it all.

San Miguel from the outside :={

They were repairing San Miguel with adobe bricks to match the ones used in  1610.

adobe bricks

Another church I’ll come back to see is Loretto Chapel.

Loretto Chapel

There are at least a million little shops in the old area of Santa Fe selling  traditional southwestern items for exorbitant prices.

Lots of shops selling everything southwestern

and…

rugs, baskets, turquoise jewelry, silver bracelets, etc.

None of the goods for sale were anything I could possibly afford. A young man  who was selling his art in one of the squares encouraged me to come look closer  at his paintings. I said, “Thank you but I can’t afford any of it.” His retort was,  “I haven’t told you any prices.” To which I replied, “When you’re on Social  Security and Congress only voted themselves a raise and not you, and you’re  2000 miles from home, you can’t afford it no matter how much it is.” True dat!

Because Ava needs to get to Atlanta, we decided to skip Albuquerque. Mostly, it  was me because I was going to have to come back to Santa Fe when the weather  gets cooler (a lot cooler) to see what I missed. I’ll enjoy Albuquerque then. And,  as for Ava, she’ll come back on her own as she’s in love with Santa Fe.

San Miguel from the outside :={

So much for the Santa Fe part and now for the I-40 afternoon!

The first part of my trip was cold, snowy and windy until I got right outside of  Las Vegas. Then, it was just windy for about two weeks until right before I left.  Then it got baking hot with only some wind. When I was in Utah and Colorado,  the weather was kinda’ hot during the day but nice and crisp at night.

That’s all gone now that we’ve left the mountainous regions and headed south  for Santa Fe. There? It was HOT! Thank goodness there was enough of a cool  breeze last night to keep the temperature in the pop-up fairly nice. I think that’s  over. I think the Vegas weather pattern is following me 2000 miles to home.  Mom said it was 91 degrees in Atlanta today.

We made it to Amarillo, Texas to camp for the night and it’s HOT! We’re going to do the Trucker Dew routine tomorrow to get as close Memphis as possible without killing each other. Trucker Dew, you ask? Well, you must be a newby. Last year when I was driving back from Vegas, I got hyped up on Mountain Dew and only ate Slim Jims with a side of cheese and drove for 36 hours to get home. I stopped only at truck stops to nap for a few hours before hitting the Dew again. That’s what I call pedal to the metal, trucker style.

Object of the game is to get to Maryville, Tennessee by early Friday afternoon to see my sister and her family and get into cooler weather!

Happy Trails!

Silver does Durango

Leaving Mesa Verde was difficult as we’d had such a wonderful time there and  it’s the longest I’ve camped anywhere so far this year because of inclement  weather, namely strong winds and snow following me all the way to Vegas! We  took Hwy. 160 east toward Durango, Colorado which was only about 50 miles  from Mesa Verde.

Ava and me in Durango Diner

It was there that we discovered the Durango Diner on Main Avenue. Now  THAT’s the way to serve breakfast. I had the best bacon strips I’ve ever had…  ever. The pancake was twelve inches in diameter and the egg cooked just right.  The waitress was wonderful and the whole experience very pleasant and  reasonably priced. Ava and I both fell in love with this little Colorado town.

With bellies full, we headed east for Santa Fe. The countryside was amazingly  gorgeous Colorado style. This is a sample of the views we saw along the way.

on the way to Santa Fe via Hwy 160, 64 and 84

And this one.

mountains, lakes, rolling pastures, cows and horses... oh my!

We didn’t get through setting up camp until after everything was closed in Santa  Fe so we went scouting. We found the two things on the top of my list: Georgia  O’Keefe Museum and the San Miguel church. The bonus was finding a gallery  with has some original photos of Frida Kahlo. What a bonus!

After walking around Old Santa Fe for what seemed a very long time looking for  somewhere to eat that we both wanted, Ava whipped out her IPhone and found  this amazingly authentic Thai restaurant called THAI CAFE at 329 W. San  Francisco St., Santa Fe (www.thaicafesantafenm.com  505-982- 3886). As Ava had traveled to Thailand, she could authenticate the food as  being excellent and traditional. Please visit our new friends Ae and Ann at Thai  Cafe next time you’re in Santa Fe!

Ava, me and Ann (owner of Thai Cafe in Santa Fe, NM)

Not only did Ava and I leave Thai Cafe satisfied with the service, the food and  the atmosphere, we both felt like we’d just made two new friends with Ann and  Ae. A big “Thank you” to them for making our evening so special.

Tomorrow, we go back to Old Town Santa Fe and to Albuquerque to explore it as  well. I was hoping to hit the road hard tomorrow but I have a feeling we’re  going to fall in love with Albuquerque as well.

Happy Trails!

It definitely takes two whole days to see Mesa Verde National Park the right way  especially for the two of us. Ava took three of the more difficult Ranger  guided tours of the Ancestral Puebloan ruins where you hike down the  canyon, across the base of the canyon and up ladders into the ruins. While I, on  the other hand, took the easier tours via Silver (my truck) because  most National Parks are not pet friendly which means Montana would have to  stay in the car or the camper while I hiked. I would only hike short trails if I  could find good shade before it got too hot in the afternoon.  Needless to say,  Montana and I spent a great deal of time in the only areas she was allowed:  campgrounds and parking lots.

While Ava visited was Cliff Palace, Montana and I drove around Cliff Palace Loop and Mesa Top Loop to scout out the other ruins for Ava.

Mesa Verde Cliff Palace Sign - a multi-complex village.

 

Mesa Verde Cliff Palace had several different sections on each side of this main village.

Today, we explored the Chapin Mesa Museum, Cliff Palace Loop (includes the  two Ranger guided tours Ava took today: Cliff  Palace [above] and Balcony House) and  Mesa Top Loop.

The most impressive part of Mesa Top Loop for me was Sun Point View and Sun Temple built around 1250 AD.

Sun Temple sign explaining ruins

Sun Temple community had several "out" structures on each side of this main "village".

 

Sun Temple

window looking into Sun Temple

Navajo Canyon on Mesa Loop

There were so many of these communities in this one area that it was amazing. One right after another. These Ancestral Puebloans (formerly called Anasazi) were the direct ancestors of the cliff dwellers in Canyon de Shelly and Monument Valley south of the Four Corners in Arizona. The last one we looked at was Spruce House.

Spruce House

I have always been interested in the history of indigenous people of the  Americas. A Shaman told Ava and I we had lived as Anasazi in a past life. Who  knows. Maybe that’s why I’ve always been drawn to it. I’ve also been drawn to  European history and South American history and Russian history and so on.

It’s all good. Learning how our ancestors lived helps us be grounded. Go check  out an indigenous people near you.

Happy Trails!