Archives for posts with tag: California

Living in a sixteen foot travel trailer definitely qualifies as “tiny house” living believe you me! You MUST be comfortable with being organized and well oiled in order to get from one section of it to another as well as packing and rearranging your belongings.

I have always attempted to live in organized chaos. Raising two very challenging children alone made it a necessity because, although Carl, my son, leaned toward neatness, even he had his moments of scattered squirrel syndrome! My daughter, Ava, on the other hand, never had organized chaos. She preferred the purity of chaos out of fear of throwing something away which might be important…even junk mail…which I was to learn was a A.D.D. tendency. Ava’s father had that tendency as did my mother. My A.D.D. takes on other characteristics of the more “squirrel” variety…easily distracted by fast moving or shiny objects! However, living in this small space MAKES me stay focused because I could break my neck if anything is left on the floor or the frustration of never finding my pliers if I’m not diligent about vigilantly watching and putting things back every single time in the same place.

Therefore, I’ve developed a system of plastic removable varying sizes of drawers placed inside the cabinetry for dishes, seasoning, kitchen towels, silverware, etc. Having traveled the back roads of USA for ten years, I’ve learned you can’t predict the weather you’ll face so I’ve also developed the plastic tub way of packing for winter, spring, summer, shoes and miscellaneous needs. I use stacking baskets for immediate food needs combined with under seat storage for food supplies. And, although I got most of my organization right during my initial packing, I found the need to do a little tweaking each time I landed somewhere for more than an overnight stay or where I’d put new items when I bought something. At home, I have the rule that one new thing in means one old thing must go out. Not true here. Yet.

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Well, that rule ain’t working so well for me here as I’ve been lucky enough to hit up on some amazingly talented women here at the RV park in Bullhead City, Arizona who had true art for sale and I ain’t getting rid of nothing at this stage of the game.

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This is a throw that Linda made. She creates beautiful Southwest Art machine quilting!

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I asked her to make this wall hanging for me and she added some embroidery in places!

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I’m so in love this “table cloth” which will never see any table top! I love each of these!

Also be prepared to scale down your needs to just the necessities. I decided not to bring any pots or pans as my cooking, even at home, mostly consists of frozen meat nuked to perfection atop salad. In Utah for a month quickly taught me I’d over packed dishes, glasses and cups and winter clothing. But, in my defense, I’ve hit some pretty crazy weather these last ten years where I wished I had winter clothing handy. Note to self: Don’t pack a whole tub of it!

However, I do insist on making this trailer my home with my favorite things and I’ve done that with prints of Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe, Toulouse and Matisse art on my walls next to pictures of Carl and Ava and their own art hung with those Command hangers. I have adorned my vent hood with Ava’s favorite refrigerator magnets and repurposed my shower to be my closet with sturdy adjustable, spring rods and a plastic hanging clothes organizer, now horizontal, on the shower floor to hold my immediate- needs clothes and shoes.

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And, as this is the first Christmas since 2007 I’ve been excited about decorating, I bought an eighteen inch $5.00 tree complete with decorations at the Family Dollar store when I was in Utah. I added a Wonder Woman skirt which I embellished with glitter glue, made Wonder Woman ornaments from the same fabric and coated local rocks with glitter glue to spank it all up with something local and fun.

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Wonder Woman Christmas Tree

 

As for driving through the Mohave Desert, don’t let the fact that most of it is on Interstate let it lull you into thinking there will be service stations or anything, for that matter, for miles and miles and miles! So, my rules are: watch your MPG average; fill up IF you see an exit with gas and hold on tight! I believe I’ve covered this before, but it’s worth repeating.

Also, don’t let the 70 MPH speed limit on these very straight expressways let you think you can drive any speed you want. If the winds 30-40 MPH winds with 60-80 MPH wind guts don’t slap you back into reality then the police will! The police may just not be where you think they should be! Just sayin’! Also, take plenty of water and food with you in the unlikely event of being stranded in one of those canyon vortexes where cell service just disappears when you need it most. I prefer to play it safe than sorry.

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California Mohave Desert

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I’m seeing, getting to know and meeting so many wonderful Wonder Women on my adventures this whole year! I’m also meeting some amazing Super Men, too! I’ve been trying to put together my story of meeting these Wonder People but their stories are too deeply layered to synopsize. It just wouldn’t do them justice. For starters, I can say I visited a new BFF in Victorville, CA who randomly invited me to join him and a friend of his to attend a grief group meeting. When they started sharing their stories, I was amazed at how diverse their grief was. The woman who started this group did so because she couldn’t find the right group twenty years ago so she created one! Losses were as long ago as decades (like my son’s death) to as recent as six months ago.

It was very special sharing my crazy journey with both Carl and Ava and discussing the subject of “the” book predicted twenty-five years ago which “we” are writing now. As it has always shown me, helping others find hope helps us. Too many were in deep depression and guilt over their grief struggles. I reached out to each with my cards for both this Blog  and Ava’s Corner, Inc. in the hopes they could find encouragement in either website and for them, with this loving reminder, to send me an email to let me know how they’re doing.

And, because I don’t believe in coincidences, the fact that the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” happens to be playing at this moment in time means I need to sign off and watch my all time favorite Christmas movie. When my sister and her daughters came to visit Mom’s, I made them sit down and watch it with me! I hope it’s a warm, fuzzy memory for them as it is for me. Yup. It is a wonderful life and I’m just starting to feel alive again and that ain’t bad. And, to think last year I thought I would never get out of being depressed over all the lost loved ones; the death of Montana, my Service Dog; or my future without all of them but this year I found those voids filled with love from existing and new sources! Praise God!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

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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!

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!

 

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!

 

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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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!