Archives for category: United States

Today we said our formal goodbyes to this amazing part of our country. Through it’s majesty, we experienced its magic. In its presence we felt peace. With its life we relived our own and we emerge renewed and reborn in our own ways. These redwoods…here…truly IS where God lives.

We hiked about 2-3 miles today in a grove I’d never before visited. I have been blessed to not only have the best travel buddy (and my daughter’s dearest friend), Jenni, with me to hike trails I’d not gone before in not only in my redwood adventure but where I’d not been able to go in my healing process by speaking openly about Ava. The whole week has been cathartic on many levels.

Here are photos from today’s adventure.

We decided to start our day at The Chart Room after reading their menu online last night. We’d enjoyed our seafood dinner there a few nights ago and it had a view of the bay. This morning, it was action packed with boats, seals, seagulls and great views.

 

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We hiked the Leiffer Grove trail and the Ellsworth Grove trail that branched off from Leiffer. It was , for me, at least, challenging because a great deal of it was some tricky up hill hiking with exposed roots, twists, turns low limbs coupled with great views you didn’t want to miss.

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What do you see in the burl? I see a lion’s head.

 

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A troll…

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What do you see?

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A Fraggle?

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This gives you perspective…Jenni with her trusty companion, Boo. He and Montana are best friends!

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Montana was just over the whole hiking thing at this point and glad for the rest. She was  ready to be in the car with the comforts of her bed, water and a chew bone.

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Tomorrow, we head back toward the desert and 111 degrees.

HAPPY TAILS!

It was one of those spontaneous ideas which happened when we missed the turn in the road. It was then that I realized we were just minutes from the Oregon Coast which Jenni had never seen and I hadn’t seen in twenty years! It was an indicator of how this whole trip has been for us…we’re true compatible travel buddies!

When I asked, “Have you ever seen the Oregon Coast?” and her reply was that she hadn’t, I knew then we needed to just do it so we did! It’s only a few minutes north on Hwy. 101 to get to Harris Beach where Jenni climbed rocks with her pup and Montana and I walked the beach.

If you know me, you know I love the beach, ocean, trees, rocks and art…especially Mother Nature’s!  Here it is! One stop shopping at Harris Beach, Oregon.

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Where’s Montana?

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The best art is Mother Nature’s! I couldn’t make a 3-D picture of this but wish I could have. If you go to this beach, look for this work showing the redwood rising out of the sand like a Sperm Whale and the huge blocks, intricately balanced, which reminds me of the break in the water as the whale surfaces for air!

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And, although these next pictures aren’t from Oregon, they are from a deep forest off road drive we took not far from there. Here again, it was tough getting a good shot of this moss covered mystical tree.

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HAPPY TAILS!

We explored a new section of the Jedediah Smith Redwood Forest today. It’s a one lane dirt road, and at times, barely wide enough for your car to fit between the redwoods! It’s a magnificent old growth area which has obviously withstood fire, pestilence and people for at least a thousand years. Let’s just pray it’ll be around another thousand if we don’t screw it all up with pollution, politics and people!

One of my favorite pictures from today is of course a burl piece resembling an orangutan! Maybe it looks like something else to you! Take a gander!

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Jenni will post the video from today’s drive on FB as WP seems to always give me heartburn when I try to upload it through here…probably because I haven’t upgraded from the “free” version as yet!

Our adventure began at the “Trees of Mystery” shop where we found Sasquatch and an authentic Indigenous Peoples (you may refer to them as Native Americans) museum. It was quite an impressive collection for such a small town!

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Check out this Apache Fiddle!2016-6-22Red92016-6-22Red102016-6-22Red112016-6-22Red12

So, here are the still shots of the redwoods from today!

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Where’s Montana? She’s in the redwood forest!

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Conjoined triplets at the base with a twisted sistah in the middle! LOL

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Rare sighting of the Banana Slug! This one is a baby compared to the one I saw in this forest 20 years ago!

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Looks like an eagle with its wings spread. What does it look like to you?

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Nothing goes unused in the forest! Note that this young redwood germinated and is growing from a fallen one along with all the ferns in the next photo!

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Same fallen tree as the one immediately above!

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HAPPY TAILS!

I’m still speechless from being in the midst in the midst of majestic, mystical, magical wonderment of this Redwood Forest where God lives. I stumbled upon it twenty plus years ago and always wanted to come back with every visit west as I do Flaming Gorge but circumstances always kept me in the Vegas region. Ava was often times too sick for me to have time to wonder too much either before or after so my Vegas destinations became the focus and anything outside of that was pure ice cream with the main entree.

In 2012, Ava was supposed to go camping with Montana and I to this place but she decided to take another trip leaving me to go alone with just a small vial of her ashes. That was the first time I’d been able to get back here since my first visit and it was appropriate for me to take her here. Now, I’m here with her best friend. That’s amazing! We are in equal awe of this place!

Words leave my mouth in a choked throat and tears well in my eyes at this whole journey I’m on…sad, healing, loving, adventuring and a hundred other things all connected.

Here are some of the pictures from yesterday.

SMITH RIVER

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Where’s Montana? Montana is sitting in front of the Smith River in the redwoods!

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Shoals in the Smith River. Wish I could record this sound for my white noise!

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There is a great deal of redwoods with burled wood, caused by a fungus growing in/on the tree. The effect is gorgeous in a piece of furniture or an objet d’art. I’ll have some pictures from today’s post (this is really yesterday’s)!

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Gnarly burl!

 

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Took a break from the forest to have a late lunch at a tasty seafood restaurant on the bay called Chart Room. I’d remembered being told that seals will come lay on a floating dock waiting for the fishermen to come in early evenings and dump the fish refuse. The seals have gotten lazy and sleep on the dock waiting for their dinner to be delivered! Below is what you’re looking at! There’s a HUGE bull seal toward the front. I hope you can click on the photo and enlarge it to get the real view. To say I’m having internet and download issues is an understatement! LOL

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And….back to the redwoods!

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HAPPY TAILS!

So much fun seeing my friend in Auburn and getting caught up with her and her animals! But, we were on a quest to get to Crescent City by early evening and we did! We drove along roads I’ve not been on before and it was magnificent, as always, exploring the back roads of this wonderful country of ours!

As I had some serious two-fisted driving to do over Hwy. 299 most of the afternoon, I can’t remember the names of most of what we saw! LOL I do remember something about Trinity and Shasta, but the best part was just the drive. If you’re a “friend” on FB, you will see a video Jenni posted of a part of the drive. I really wasn’t driving as fast as the video shows! We would have died if I’d been going that fast. Heck, people were passing me!

Enjoy the ride below with us!

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Tomorrow, we get to live the dream of seeing Jedediah Smith Redwood Forest! YAY!

HAPPY TAILS for sure tonight!

 

It was quite an exciting Saturday night! Murray Sawchuck (the Vegas Magician) invited me and two others to see Gordie Brown (impersonator) at the Golden Nugget. It was one of the funniest comedy impersonator shows I’ve ever seen! To say it was irreverent is an understatement because I guffawed so hard through his whole show that he told me he loved hearing my laugh…and that ain’t a bad thang to be known by!

If you love to laugh, you just gotta go see him!

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After the show Murray took us all over the bar across the parking lot from the Rick Harrison’s Gold and Silver Pawn (of Pawn Stars fame) to have drinks with Rick! Going to the Rollin’ Smoke BBQ and Tavern is a MUST if you like to feel like family and have a great time with good people and great music and some of the BEST RIBS I’ve ever tasted! Wow! What a night! Oh…and this time it ain’t a cut out of Rick!

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We partied until 1:00 AM (or later) and still headed for Auburn, CA (east of Sacramento) as planned…just a tad bit later than expected! I chose to drive through Nevada all the way on the back roads through Tonopah, NV and up to Reno, NV and west toward Auburn as the drive has some spectacular surprises!

Jenni Lee (my photo journalist on this trip of Electra Brass fame) took some great pictures with her phone! I hope to be able to download some exciting video footage from today’s wild ride!

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Joshua Trees! Know why they’re called that? Because it reminded the settlers of Joshua raising his hands up toward the Lord! Cool, huh? I love word/saying origins!

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Goldfield, NV Courthouse

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And the contrasting architecture in Goldfield is stunning!

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And, as we got closer to Tonapah, the desert mountain ranges changed into a painted desert landscape. Colors changing with every blink of the eye to add or subtract green foliage, iron deposits, limestone with the brightest, clearest blue blue sky for a backdrop. Magnificent!

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Then BOOM Mother nature throws in some snow peaks seemingly suspended in mid-air over this desert land!

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Drive more in the desert, turn a corner and BAM a HUGE blue lake in the middle of the driest, rockiest desolate area you’ve ever seen! Walker Lake.

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Sleeping babies! So darn cute!

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Then we are past Reno and into California just an hour outside of Auburn!

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It’s a wonderful nine hour drive that really didn’t feel like that long because of all of the wonderful views and surprises along the way on the back roads of this great country of ours!

HAPPY TAILS!

My nights and days are running together with all the excitement of the last days in Vegas Baby, witnessing incredible entertainment and so glad that we have such great venues for all these super talented musicians, singers, dancers, magicians, etc. to do what they love to do. Thanks Las Vegas!

Thursday night, I witnessed some of the finest performers I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Lon Bronson’s All-Star Band is an outstanding combo of talent. Their musicality is impeccable, their love of the music undeniable and ability to infect the whole audience with their magic from the stage!

If you’re in Vegas, make sure you’re here when they are performing! Check out their website: http://lonbronsonband.com

Lon Bronson’s All-Star Band, featuring the finest musicians and vocalists around was performing last night and he gave up the stage to help introduce Electra Brass!

I was BLOWN AWAY! Usually when I hear a song performed so well the first time, I tend to be a bit irritated to hear a different version of that song unless there’s a spin, twist, sound which transports me. I had that experience last night with Tony. You just gotta check out this man’s website and listen to his audios but ESPECIALLY “Tobacco Road!” http://www.tonydavich.com/

It was then that I “met” a performer by the name of Tony Davich who took swagger, Joe Cocker, collard greens and southern fried chicken to sing his version of “Tobacco Road!”

Jenni Lee is my hostess with the mostest while I’m in Vegas Baby. She is/was a very close friend with my daughter, Ava, and it’s been through that common denominator that we’ve  bonded. I’m as proud of her newest endeavors as any Mom would be!

And, last night, her group called ELECTRA BRASS had its debut performance at the Sunset Station Hotel & Casino in Henderson, NV (next door to Vegas Baby). And, although their website isn’t up and running yet, doesn’t mean they aren’t stage ready because…believe you me…I saw them KILL it on stage last night! Watch for these talented women to take you to a whole new level of excitement with their brass!

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HAPPY TAILS!

If you can stand the heat and the desert, Vegas Baby is where you want to be for some of the most diverse, incredible talent anywhere! The Rat Pack should be proud because they set the standard and it’s only gotten better…if possible!
Last night, thanks to Murray SawChuck (Murray the Magician), I was entertained, again, like a rock star by a group called “Human Nature” who performs at the Venetian. Check them out!

They were the No. 1 Boy Bank in Australia! They’re still number one to me after witnessing how they rocked it out last night! Whoa! Complicated choreography coupled with great Jukebox singing and awesome audience participation like I’ve not seen before! They’re energetic, dynamic and a bunch of really nice guys!

Check them out on their website! http://www.humannaturelive.com

Thanks Human Nature for doing what you love and doing it so well! It made a memory I’ll keep enjoying for years to come!

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This past ten plus days has been most awesome! It’s been jam packed with excitement, meltdowns and memories.

My daughter, Ava, lived here in her happiest and saddest days here. She found her tribes (she had no less than four all at once) who gave this amazing woman the love and support she needed to stay with us a little longer. But it was the bullying at work and at home that done her in.

In driving around this town she dearly loved, I have serious brain jerking going on with being here for the first time over three years. It’s a constant arm wrestle in my brain with  trying to stay in the moment and not get triggered into the past…which, I believe, is the cause of PTSD…Post Traumatic Stress Disorder…more aptly named Past Trauma Disorder.

However, this is totally what this whole trip is about…my healing through driving the back roads, soul searching and seeing my Vegas Chirrens!

I’m blessed to have a close, loving relationship with Ava’s BFF, Jenni Lee. She’s not only a master French Horn performer but an entrepreneur who is putting together an all female brass quartet called ELECTRA BRASS! Check them out!

Montana and I are hold up in her lovely home and in our safe place for when things get tough. They got tough the other day at Costco in Summerlin and I won’t be going back to that store. Got way too many looks like that woman in the Lebanese restaurant in LA but Montana took charge as she’s supposed to do and got me right out of there without my having a total meltdown.

In contrast, I’ve had some amazing reconnections with Ava’s friends who are local performers like Penny Wiggins (comedian who performs in Vegas before the Chris Angel Show) and Kelly Vohnn (multi-talented tribute artist and comedian) at a brunch. Saw old friends and made new ones!

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Last night Montana and I got the VIP treatment by Murray SawChuck at his magic show at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Vegas!

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Today, I get to see a newborn baby of another one of Ava’s remarkable, talented BFFs who is the new mommy married to an incredible gentle man. Can’t wait to get some neck sugar from Ellie!

This week? Going to see my Jenni’s ELECTRA BRASS practice tomorrow after lunch with Murray (sounds like a movie) and to their first formal performance on Thursday!

HAPPY TAILS!

Las Vegas is sometimes referred to as a bowl because its location in the center of an ever  circling memory a mountain range of underwater existence tens of thousands of years ago. To my mind, it’s not just a bowl…any bowl…but a myriad of bowls…a fish bowl, a soup bowl and, in some parts, a toilet bowl.

This stark contrast to my own existence in the lush green forests of northeast Georgia where we get more rainfall per year than any other county in the state; where waterfalls, lakes and rivers abound; where rural living is normal (less than five acres is mostly found in the cities…what few we have) makes my mind rumble like thunder with differentiating distinctions.

Why does it remind me of a fish bowl? Think of a clear, round environment where the air, temperature and liquids change only upon some seemingly arbitrary action. You scoop out the fish, pour out the water, put in new water, put back the fish and their environment is changed. Here, the mountains create a bowl where the environment seems only to be changed by drastic acts of Mother Nature herself with intolerable heat (temperatures will be mostly in the 108 degree range this week), winds (which magically appear in the early morning hours) and the occasional flooding…no…deluge of pounding, unforgiving liquid. The humans living in the fish bowl are mostly confined to their homes and routines governed by all these drastic natural occurrences by none other than Mother Nature “changing the water.”

Why a soup bowl? Mainly this comes into play because of all the varying types of people who choose to live in this bowl…from the notorious yesteryear gangster types to the famous performer types; from the starving homeless to the mega rich and famous; from the unheralded geniuses behind the performers (musicians, technicians, producers, etc.) to the incredible talent like the ones I saw at The Wynn in “Show Stoppers.” One of my Chirrens (daughter-by-another mother) performs with the orchestra most nights there and with whom Montana and I are staying hooked me up with a ticket so I could see mah gurl perform front and almost center!

Toilet bowl? Some are going to get incensed, angry, block me, send me hate mail but take a deep breath and think about all the crazy things that go on in Vegas and “stay” in Vegas…so “they” say. Only the locals who work in the heart of the entertainment core of this desert existence know what all the rest don’t know…the nastiness that did stay in Vegas…and probably can only leave with the help of Mother Nature’s drastic measures mentioned above.

However, there’s a lot to say about the magic of the desert. I see clearly why my paternal grandmother was drawn here. Why her daughter followed her west and lived the majority of their lives in this dry, painted dirt they call desert.

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at overlook

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Cliff Dwellers, Arizona (the town) on Hwy. 89 before Hwy. 160

The first time I came west, I immediately fell in love. Mom and Dad traveled west every summer in their RV in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when the it wasn’t as manic as it seems now. They would take my son, Carl, with them so he could experience the wild west and work his “gold mine” in Nevada. Carl had “discovered” gold on the side of the road before I’d met them in Phoenix, Arizona…fools gold. I rode the back roads with them for ten days ending up in the “old” Las Vegas in 1971.

Our first stop was Tonopah, Nevada where my dad owned property. A retired trick rider-turned-miner lived on the property and who had wonderful stories of yesteryear he shared by the campfire which captured Carl’s vivid imagination. That was the year Dad staked a claim called “Monk’s Mine” on his property. It was  Carl’s  (a/k/a Monk) gold mine.

That first night, Carl and I slept on a WWII Army issue cot under the stars. We were all giggly over how VAST the sky was and just how many stars and constellations could be seen in FULL view…totally unobstructed by mountains, hills and trees! We barely slept at all…waking to re-discover a new world with every blink.

Carl got up at the crack of dawn dressed in his cowboy boots and hat with pick ax and shovel ready to find gold every single morning! He was sure it was there and he’d find it. My grandmother salted Carl’s mine one year and I thought the child was going to dig to China trying to find the rest of the “gold.” He made friends with a wild burro so he’d have a way to bring his gold back to the campsite!

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Dad is responsible for my loving the back roads. I traveled with him as a child all over the only roads (now called back roads) of Georgia in his work as  Public Relations photographer for the Governors for about twenty years. So, it was the back roads (the only roads of yesteryear) that we took on this trip. And, much to Mom’s dismay, Dad wanted to drive through Death Valley. My recollection is that we did it in spite of her  protests. It was my first taste of 114 degrees in the shade and a hundred miles of NOTHINGNESS. Along the way, we rescued a sweet  Australian Shepherd, found her a new home, bathed in roadside hot springs respite (now sadly dry) and saw desolate lands.

The starkest contrast of all was of my 1971 home of deep south gloved, primped for church  Atlanta with the bawdy, bright, brash, bustling, colorful, loud, dirty 1971 Fremont Street of Las Vegas. This poor ole southern girl didn’t know what had hit her! Carl caught a glimpse of a man winning the jackpot and was sure THAT was the way to get gold…not by all that hard work digging. Dad tried to explain to Carl that someone had have been feeding that machine for there to even be a jackpot.

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Vegas-Baby circa 1950’s

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What strange looking show girl

And, although I do love my home, I’m drawn back to those I love who live West and to the places which will call me back forever…and I will come as long as this ole girl can drive the back roads!

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Colorado or bust!

HAPPY TAILS!