Archives for posts with tag: desert

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

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

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

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

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And this is when I knew LA was near!

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

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

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

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

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

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Rachel, Noah and Itty Bit

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A loving daddy!

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My angels! See us in the mirror?

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The three of us!

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

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

HAPPY TAILS, TALES OR TRAILS…YOUR PICK!

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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!