Archives for category: United States

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!

Wow! What a wonderful day packed with beauty, great people, amazing southwestern architecture, shopping, wandering and soaking up one of our country’s most beautiful and exciting cities. In 2011 when Ava and I were here in 2011, we both fell so in love with it so much so that she wanted to intern at the Santa Fe Opera House. I’ve wanted to come back here to create new memories last year but still wasn’t ready. Now I know why. I needed my big sister with me to help me walk through some memories with Ava and create new ones with her! What a great Big Thithter she is!

First on our agenda for the day was the “Mirror, Mirror” Exhibit  at the Museum of Spanish Colonial Art containing personal photos of Frida Kahlo giving us newer insights of a woman my sister and I have admired for years. I believe that she defined surrealism but she said she used art to express what she felt and boy did she ever! As a young child, she had Polio. At the age of eighteen, she was in a tragic trolly accident wherein she suffered a broken pelvis, collarbone, legs and three displaced vertebrae which caused her a lifetime of excruciating pain wherein she had to endure long hospital stays, body casts, bed confinement and approximately thirty operations.

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Frida Kahlo had mirrors all over her house. I can only assume so she could paint her feelings no matter where she might be confined.

In Historic Santa Fe, we visited the San Miguel Chapel thought to be built by the Tlaxcala Indians around 1610. It is thought to be the this nation’s oldest active church!

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San Miguel Chapel built around 1610!

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San Miguel alter.

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Across from San Miguel. What shouldn’t be in this picture? LOL

A few blocks away, we entered the Loretto Chapel made famous by it’s “miraculous Staircase” to the Chapel’s choir loft. The staircase has two 360 degree turns and no visible means of support. An anomous carpenter is said to have fashioned the spiral steps in 1878 by using only wooden pegs; leaving without asking for material reimbursement or compensation.

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Loretto Chapel, Santa Fe Historical District

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Loretto Chapel Miraculous Staircase front view

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Loretto Chapel Miraculous staircase back view

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Loretto Chapel Alter

As we walked through Historic Santa Fe, art of every genre is found in abundance inside and outside the buildings. I’ve never seen so much beautiful art for sale permanently exhibited in courtyards and walkways. It made us wonder how all these high end  stores could possibly stay open without a great deal of tourists.

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And, to top off our day, we found this 1953 restaurant called “The Shed,” touted to have award winning red chile.

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Tomorrow? On the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico via the Turquoise Trail.

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS!

We cranked up our day by visiting the Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in North America. The Red Willow People of Taos Pueblo have been welcoming visitors for over a thousand years to experience their existence which has changed little in their high desert village. (www.taospueblo.com)

Our guide was a volunteer who is going to college studying environmental engineering and was well steeped in his heritage and village.

I’ll apologize right off for these pictures not being the best I’ve taken but I’m working with a brand new camera and still trying to figure out what I can and can’t do. What looks good after I review and modify doesn’t always translate the same here on WordPress. Go figure!

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This wall used to be much higher with sentries guarding the village.

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All of the village buildings are made from mud bricks made from the local dirt, straw and water which are left to dry in the sun. Once building is constructed, a thick mud coating is put over it all, including the mud brick roofs.

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Main buildings of the village.

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What happens when you don’t continue to coat the bricks in mud to protect them from inclement weather.

Our next stop was the famous Ghost Ranch just outside of Abiquiu, New Mexico. A very famous (and infamous) woman artist by the name of Georgia O’Keeffe was living in New York City in the early 1930’s when she heard of a place in New Mexico which was magnificent. Other friends had traveled there and she packed up and went.

She hired a driver to take her to meet the owner of Ghost Ranch, a woman rancher who rented out rooms to visitors, and was told there was only one room available for one night. Georgia O’Keeffe had already fallen in love with sights, sounds and smells of this majestic region and, upon being returned by her driver to Abiquiu, promptly borrowed a car and drove herself back to Ghost Ranch (alone) over the rough roads.

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View on the way to Ghost Ranch from Abiquiu

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Rustic log cabin inhabited by Georgia O’Keeffe when visiting the area.

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The view just outside the cabin.

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View inside the cabin.

Their museums include local art and history as well as a wonderful Paleozoic area of fossils found on the ranch.

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Ancient crocodile

As art was the heart and soul of Georgia O’Keeffe, it is only fitting that Ghost Ranch has a wonderful exhibit of both ancient art (pottery) and current works.

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My favorite, of course, was this horse.

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The last adventure my sister had planned for us was a hike to an area she had visited over a decade ago where water had once been abundant. Sadly no water was found this time but, being a rock-aholics we are, we were saddened by the waters absence but loved being outside with the generous herbal smells of the natural flora and fauna of the area (sage, juniper trees, wild flowers, cacti, etc.) and the vastness of the cliffs, mountains and rock formations.

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Majestic!

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What are the indentations on this boulder?

And, last but not least, ME!

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Oh yeah, and those crazy cloud formations we saw on our way to Santa Fe from Ghost Ranch. My sister said the white swirls below the clouds was the rain evaporating before it had a chance to hit the ground.

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Pretty cool stuff on this leg of our trip. We’re actually going to be in one place for TWO WHOLE DAYS! Santa Fe is ours and it’ll never be the same!

HAPPY TAILS, TRAILS OR TALES!

 

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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It’s the first time EVER on my trips West to have anyone with me at all until I got to Vegas Baby but not this year!

On the first leg of the trip, my sister has joined me. We haven’t made a trip alone together since 1995 and we certainly were overdue because we haven’t shut up talking since we left on 5/31 on our way to Branson, Missouri to see one of Ava’s dearest friends, Elisa Furr, who has performed as a Celine tribute artist all over the world for years. I haven’t been able to catch up with her the last time I was in Vegas Baby because she was in Hawaii performing with the Legends in Concert production there. When I heard she was going to be in Branson performing while I headed West, I nailed her down pretty quickly for a much needed visit.

She not only opened the doors to her home but also treated my sister and I like royalty! She got us front row VIP tickets to see her show twice yesterday and took us backstage to meet all the other performers. My sister and I fell in love with all of the amazing talent in this show!

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Elisa Furr as Celine! Oh yeah, and ME!

Some of the best times I’ve ever had were on this visit with her! We were way overdue for a a visit. Thank you, Elisa for an amazing experience! Give all our buddies at Legends BIG hugs!

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Danced with Brooks & Dunn Tribute artists! Photos of that to follow! LOL

 

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Outstanding, exciting & energetic BLUES BROTHERS Tribute artists. Sang with them! Yeah! Well, kinda!

 

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Fell in love ELIVIS (Travis)! He’s a true blue soul!

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Michael performs Michael’s Moonwalk better than Micheal!

We had the chance to get to know Michael (Michael) and Bruno (Isaiah) better when we all went to have after show drinks with Celine (Elisa). All three of these outstanding performers had literally just driven to Branson from Vegas Baby and had a tiny bit different idea of what their traditional post-performance wind down of food, fun and drinks would be like. The only place in Branson open after 10:00 PM with a bar is an Applebee’s. Yup. You’re not in Vegas Baby any more Toto! We were laughing for hours about this. Isaiah was in shock and had us rolling on the floor with his quick quips and sense of humor. Michael shared his story of how he began performing Michael J’s early as most of these performers did. Michael’s ability to transform himself into Johnny Depp, George Michael and others by showing us his portfolio photos.

Love you guys!

Today, we drove to Bartlesville, Oklahoma from Branson so I could show my sister one of the most incredible examples of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs, the Price Tower which I had discovered in my first solo trip West in 2009. I fell in love with NE Oklahoma and have been looking for an excuse to come back!

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The 1956 Price Tower by Frank Lloyd Wright was a design he had on his desk for 25 years with the NYC Bowery district in mind for multi-purpose use.

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Wright focused his design of this 19 story piece of art to include stores, offices and apartments.

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The theme of copper and naturalistic concepts and materials were to remind one of a giant tree reaching for the skies. It is not only a great story of his genius but of this town’s determination to preserve it for us to see today!

We then drove over to Woolaroc Museum and Wildlife Preserve about 12 miles SW of Bartlesville so I could show my sister another of my great finds from my 2009 trip. This country estate was owned by the oil baron, Frank Phillips, of Phillips 66 (Petroleum) fame. The Woolaroc museum is an amazing collection of antiquities found in this general region from pottery to paintings, guns to planes and trains, and many indigenous peoples artifacts, clothing and more!

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All types and origins of pottery found in this museum covers areas spanning from the midwest to the southwest.

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First Face Jugs!

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First Face Jug info

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Indigenous peoples beaded belts.

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Many amazing paintings of the region

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And beautiful bronze sculptures

Tomorrow? We drive toward Eagles Nest, Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico! I’m so excited for my incredible sister to show me this area of New Mexico which will include Georgia O’Keeffe’s home, Ghost Ranch, and the museum with her art. Santa Fe was Ava’s and my favorite place we visited on our last camping trip in 2011. I can’t wait to go back!

HAPPY TAILS!

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!