Archives for posts with tag: family

A very dear friend of my daughter’s, Beauregard, sent me a PM on FB about this event and encouraged me to come have some fun. I’d met the owners of Hatch Camp & Art Farm a couple of years ago when they hosted other musical events where Beau (of Beauregard & The Downright) was performing when Mama & Daddy Hatch were awaiting their blessed event. The timing was perfect as I’d been on the computer in my office for days doing research and working way too hard for a retired woman. So, armed with water, camera and excitement, I jumped in my truck and headed  East toward what promised to be a fun day at Hatch Camp & Art Farm!

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Yes, I cheated. I took a screen shot of their FB page to post what they are doing, who was there and was quite surprised at many things. Firstly, they plan to have one of these monthly! Secondly, they have spaces for booths available for people to share their art! Thirdly, they have a lovely place for exploring on a good sized stream, which I hear is good for fly fishing, where people can camp for the weekend and do the kumbaya thang all weekend long if they want or just hit and run like I did.

As an aside, Mama Hatch was busy with orchestrating the whole event while looking after Baby Hatch who was exploring everything! Turns out that Daddy Hatch is a master fly fisherman who loves creating flies so much so that he explores his creek regularly to see what larvae are in the water so he can mimic just the right fly de jour! He has turned his garage into a shop and fun place for you fly-fisher-persons to explore!

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Another interesting aspect of venturing out in this area is that you never know who you will run into! I saw one of the waiters who always took care of Mom and I when we went for our traditional Sunday Brunch at the Lake Rabun Hotel! But this time, Tolvin Stiles wasn’t waiting on tables, he was sitting at one making the most delicious copper wire jewelry!

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Tolvin’s works of art!

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Tolvin creating new ones!

I meandered around the pathways and byways of this lovely retreat meeting a variety of local artists along the way whilst musicians played folk music. It reminded me of the many times my daughter, Ava of avascorner.org, and I went to events similar to this. Those, however, were much larger. I like the more intimate variety where you actually have a chance to connect with people instead of getting lost in the crowd. This was lovely and I will go back again!

Now, for what I really came for. I could hear Beau getting ready on stage. It was time for me to have some Beauregard! Not only do I love seeing him but also having the chance to  listen to one of my favorite singer, songwriter, musicians who really puts his heart and soul into his music like few do these days of cheating with canned music, tricks and screaming. Bearegard & The Downright are Down Right! Personally, I love his most personal touch to all his ukulele songs. Something very beautiful in his soul is revealed each time he plays it. Don’t get me wrong, when you hear his band, you will be moved…but to the dance floor! I’ve been known to dance the night away the first time I went to see them play a few years back. If he is in your neighborhood, go see him! Follow him on FB! It’s a funky Jamaican Mountain Country City boy sound unique just to Beauregard!

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As he makes his living doing what he loves, he always has hats and albums for sale a his events!

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Beauregard singing solo and so good!

If you are up this way for their next event, maybe I’ll see you there! Y’all come on up, ya’ hear!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

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I do love Atlanta because of its Southernness and history; my history there; varied trees,  plants and flowers; backroads; special places to visit; and Ava memories. I had a blast giving one of Ava’s dearest friends and mentor Phase 1 of Donna’s Atlanta Driving/Some-Walking Tour.

As always, I start in my home area of Sandy Springs which is in Northwest Atlanta which used to be a sleepy little area of farms (including ours) and quiet country living. Now, it’s all that and more. It’s THE place to live! Do those rich people know that a tenement farmer raised pigs on that property and that’s probably why their grass is so green? Or that the multi-million dollar house sits in our cow pasture of yesteryear? It’s definitely hard to recognize and my brain gets all tangled up in reality and my memories of horseback riding over to the Chattahoochee River and riding the old timber roads or milking the cow or playing in the creeks or happily padding along barefooted chasing after someone or something. Awww. The Good Ole Days!

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Me “driving” our tractor I called “The Green Dragon!” Looks like I got stuck!

Anyway, here’s some of which I included in the Phase 1 Driving/SomeWalking Tour for Ava’s friend and one of my Chirrens yesterday. Yeehaw!

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Swan House is in an area we call Buckhead because it was there was a General Store at its old crossroads with a Deer Buck Head over the door. The Swan House is a part of the Atlanta History Center. One Ticket at the History Center gives you access to Center’s fabulous Exhibits, the Swan House, and, in October, to the relocated Cyclorama which used to be at the Atlanta Zoo!

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Fox Theater’s outstanding acoustics have been recognized all over the world!

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When we used to go to the movies here, each side of this area was where the latest, finest lady’s fashions were exhibited. It was saved from demolition in 1976 by locals. YAY!

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I’ve been wondering where they moved the famous CocaCola sign to and there it was in all its glory right over the building at Five Points in the heart of Downtown Atlanta on top of the old Wormser Hats Building!

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Brand new Mercedes-Benz Atlanta Stadium! Quite impressive!

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On to my favorite restaurant – No Mas – in the Castleberry Arts district across the street from the old GE Supply Building where I used to work a hundred years ago!

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Whoever created this place, needs a gold star for doing it right! Plus, the food is amazing!

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Got a hankering for outdoor seating?

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So many interesting things going on inside with the old and new structure being married with Mexican artifacts and art!

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Ohm yeah! I want one of these for my front porch!

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Before you leave, go into their Artisans Market store just to the left of the restaurant patio for more stimulation of the purchasable kind! LOVE this place!

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Our State Capital Building is crowned with none other than Gold from our very own Dahlonega! I remember when they brought the gold to the Capital in wagon trails from there to refurbish it.

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And, last but not least, Ava’s love – Little Five Points. She loved living here and felt safer here than anywhere. Junkman’s Daughter was her favorite place to shop; The Vortex was her favorite restaurant; and the Brew House was where she’d go for libations.

I modify each tour according to the wishes of my passenger, their age, the heat/humidity index and my energy. Most of this was a driving tour but we’ll hit the streets next time she’s in town and do it right! This was just the tip of the iceberg tour!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

Mom’s favorite place for me to take her for any occasion was our very own Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant (www.lakerabunhotel.com)  but especially for Sunday Brunch! So, whenever a newbie comes to the my mountain home (Southern Comfort Cabin) to visit, I  take them for their great Sunday Brunch.

I’m  truly blessed to have many wonderful Chirrens and Grand Chirrens, especially after  my daughter, Ava, passed (avascorner.org). My Chirrens keep in touch with me and visit when possible from all over the country and beyond. I had two of my Chirrens meet for the first time! It’s been so exciting! They really are twins! Mirjana (from Canada) has been with me learning Southern beginning in Jacksonville, Jekyll Island, Savannah, my mountain cabin with Little Five Points being her last stop, of course. Stacey, who I adopted upon meeting fifteen years ago, came up to meet Mirjana (her “sister-by-another-mother”). We’ve easily recognized we’re all of the same Gypsy, Bellydancing Singing blood! How could we not be when Ava brought us all together?

As my Chirrens come up for a visit, the tradition has become for me to take them to Lake Rabun Hotel’s Sunday Brunch. Today was the day! Yum!

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Path entrance Lake Rabun Hotel

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Front View Lake Rabun Hotel

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Lake Rabun Porch Dining

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Lake Rabun Hotel Witham Room

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Local “farm to table” foods

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Always good eats!

For more information, please visit http://www.lakerabunhotel.com or email Josh Addis, their General Manager, at joshaddis@lakerabunhotel.com to make your reservations to stay in one of their newly renovated suites, have dinner or to have one of their signature drinks!

It’s all good and a fabulous way to spend your time up here in the Northeast Georgia Mountains…and make new friends!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

 

Mountain Southern is so different from Savannah Southern in many ways! For starters, there are less gnats, mosquitos, heat, sand and humidity and abundant with rivers, creeks, waterfalls, mountains and cool breezes.

Taking Mirjana to the Southern Comfort Cabin was Phase Two in her learning Southern adventures. I learned two new words used by locals: “Ooshie” (means cold, “It’s ooshie.”) and “Backanow” (means back a while, “I did it backanow.”)

And as before, I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

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Tallulah Falls Overlook

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Tallulah Falls Close up!

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Treasures within the Tallulah Falls Overlook

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Last Rhododendron Bloom of the year! Glad I got to see at least this one!

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Crustacean of the Lobster family! Crawdad talk!

 

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Mountain roads!

 

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

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!

Got a little stir crazy from sitting too long trying to ignore screaming of electric tools from the guy next to me build the next Taj Mahal or totally refurbish his travel trailer so I hit the road. Why oh why are they allowing this? Guess I’ll have to ask but, in the meantime, I took the road less travelled to Zion, Kanab and Jacob’s Lake to revisit some memories.

Plus, I’d had an unrelenting desire to revisit a bit of my last camping trip with Ava from  June, 2011 this past weekend. We’d left Vegas and headed straight for Zion where she spent a couple of days hiking some marvelous trails while Montana and I explored the few paths which allow pets. Our next stop was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where Ava was determined to hike down the North Rim, spend the night at Phantom Ranch and hike back up the next day to the South Rim. Let’s just say it was one of our most eventful camping experiences. We spent that night in a cabin at Jacob’s Lake taking a much needed respite. Ava had hiked most of the way down the North Rim when her knees failed. They were going to helicopter her out of the canyon but she had other plans. She hiked back out escorted by Rangers.

I had just closed up the popup to head toward the South Rim when a stranger called me first saying Ava was fine and wanted him to tell me to stay at the North Rim. She was coming back up because of knee issues. Montana and I paced frantically for hours at the top of the trail asking anyone coming toward us if they’d seen her. Too scary to say what I was thinking that whole time but when I saw her, there wasn’t a happier mother around! We got the last available cabin at Jacob’s Lake and regrouped.

I felt compelled to go back. I think it was because we’d left part of us there and I needed to put it back into my soul before I could write again.

So, it was only natural for me to focus on rocks first. They help me get outta my own head. Plus, they’re strong but vulnerable and, I sure love me some rocks and how the Mothers create and scar them!

The force of the Mothers (Nature and Earth) are never more apparent than at Zion.  These mountains show signs of Mother Nature’s etchings on their surfaces as the winds carve their way through the sandstone mountains. She drops water into their crevices, then quickly freezes it over and over again to weaken that link to its parent in order to loosen huge boulders enough to cause them to crash below creating thunder throughout the canyon and land atop of the eroded soil at her feet.

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Approaching Zion from Hurricane

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Etchings from the Mother

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Amphitheater created by Mother’s determination to break free pieces of the mountain.

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Erosion at the base waiting for more from above

Mother Nature blows her seeds in the wind and sprinkles them like a condiment  into those same crevices. Some germinate and grip for the rest of their lives to the precipices of the rock fighting forever the changing wind, rain, snow, freezing and warming temperatures the Mother sends their way. The larger they grow, the larger the crevice becomes and encourages the huge boulder upon which they cling, along with the Mother’s help, to join the other large boulders below.

The light changes here as rapidly as the temperature and weather. I take a picture one minute and in the next, different hues appear. It’s this marvelous discovery by those artists of yesteryear who fell in love with that very dynamic…the effects sunlight which…Vermeer and Impressionists captured in their paintings and focused on by painting the same scene over and over again in varying light (i.e, Monet’s many paintings of Notre Dame). At some point, the word spread far and wide that Carmel, California held some magic light there. I believe that “magic” light is in the desert here in Utah.

See what you think about my drive to and from Jacob’s Lake.

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Trying to capture the Vermillion Cliffs and the White ones too

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Light changes rapidly especially on cloudy days like yesterday

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These three were literally taken only minutes minutes apart while sitting still.

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Money shot!

The other two parts of this adventure were to visit a place Ava and I had always wanted to visit but never found the time to do so…Best Friends Sanctuary (a non-profit) facility in Kanab, Utah of National Geographic’s “Dogtown” TV show notoriety (https://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/visit-our-utah-sanctuary/places-stay).

For those of you who knew Ava, she rescued cats…and dogs…but mostly cats. Ava rescued   a paraplegic cat, Murmur, from a Vet who was moving and who would no longer keep. Ava took Murmur and lovingly nurtured her until the little animal passed away. Ava  would have loved to have lived and worked at this place (if they could have incorporated opera), so I it was only fitting for me to take their tour while I was in the neighborhood and donate to their wonderful cause in her memory.

Yup. It was hard but it was what Ava wanted me to do yesterday so I did it.

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Best Friends Welcome Center

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Where “Dogtown” was filmed for National Geographic (https://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/explore-sanctuary/dogtown/series)

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New Veterinarian facilities

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Cat  World HQ

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One of many outdoor fun for their Sanctuary Cats looking for their fur-ever homes! 

Then, just for me, I had to go back to Rocking V Cafe (http://www.rockingvcafe.com)  for one of their amazing pork chops. I’d had one of their pork chops this past summer and couldn’t stop thinking about it…so I did what a girl had to do…go back and order it again!

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YEAH, BABY! Pork chop at Rocking V Cafe! Way to end the day!

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Rocking V Cafe, Kanab, Utah

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Cozy Inside with nice art for sale on the walls!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

A dear friend of Ava’s (my daughter) came up to visit me in Hurricane this weekend and it was perfect…but that’s as it always is when we get together! Yesterday, we just couldn’t find that sweet spot about how to spend our day. Somehow, we couldn’t quite settle on whether to hike Zion (which we’d both already done) or revisit Snow Canyon. As neither of those “felt” right, we headed for the one book store we did want to visit which  happened to be in meander the historic part of Hurricane, Utah! We found lovely items from yesteryear lovely shops and great people, too!

Our first visit was in “Mercantile Gifts and Consignments” on State Street near Main Street. It’s a plethora of wonderful items to try, view, explore and purchase! Their “sister” entity is just around the corner called “Gypsy Emporium.” We just had to go in there! I’m so glad we did because I met a young kindred spirit who works there, Sarah Jane! Don’t forget our pinky swear!

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Mercantile Gifts & Consignments on State Street. It’ a great place to explore!

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GYPSY EMPORIUM just around the corner from Mercantile!

 

And found the Hurricane Pioneer Museum where we met this lovely man who had been the voice of some interesting early cartoon characters! His ancestors were part of this towns beginnings and is well versed in its history.

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HURRICANE PIONEER MUSEUM

Our new friend from Gypsy Emporium recommended Main Street Cafe for our lunch and I’m so happy she did! Thanks, Sarah Jane!

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MAIN STREET CAFE on Main Street! Go Figure! Great food!

And along the way, who would have thought we would come across such a magnificent display of roses trailing along the sidewalk of one of the first houses built in Hurricane in 1906? We stuck our noses in every single one of those beautiful roses! I think we were responsible for cross-pollinating some of them!

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Roses in the desert? Yup!

Our new friend at the Pioneer Museum had told us to go see where the canal was built to bring the water to the newly formed town of Hurricane. We decided it might be fun to drive down that main road a little farther and look what we found…and, yes, it did involve a u-turn!

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Convergence Overlook! Several Creeks come together here. It looks like a great hike but not on this day!

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Beautiful canyon and mountain views!

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And, look at those rocks!

We had such a great time making u-turns to find those “right” spots to explore whether it was a shop, canyon or food! I highly recommend finding this historic area and playing there for the day!

Happy Trails…until we meet again.

As a woman who always enjoyed smaller homes, I’m so loving living the rambling’ life in my trailer. It suits me to a “T” for the writing journey I’m on. It began right after Jenni (Ava’s friend) and I visited Snow Canyon State Park in St. George, Utah in the summer. It was that pivotal moment of my remembrance of “soaring” which Jenni caught in a blink of her camera’s eye.

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In that second, I remembered my reoccouring dreams of yesteryear of being an eagle soaring over these lands. It broke me free in a way I’ve been praying for all these years of healing. I’ve continued the metamorphosis over the weeks that followed while I worked to make my return happen with a trailer. My idea was to return to the canyon lands; however, my grandmother won out in the end. She’d “told” me I’d need to go to the desert to write. But, I wanted to be in the canyons…not the desert. However, it turns out that the canyon lands get too cold in the winter months and there was only one RV space available in a warmer climate…yep, the desert. I snapped it up embracing the fact that Grandma always wrote in the desert and to not fight the forces that be.

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Yeah, that grandma!

Over those few months, every place I planned to go visit on my way West got hit by Harvey, Irma, Jose, raging fires, drought or an earthquake! Well, to be honest, there was no way I was going to Mexico City! All else was true. This caused my trip to get accelerated to the point I was able to get to where I am now so I could write sooner than later. Again, don’t fight the forces at work!

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Ready to write! This is one class act RV Park with Cable TV, internet that actually works and clean facilities!

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Facing toward the back with another one of Ava’s belly dancing scarves hanging over the window and the bunk beds on right in the back. 

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Ava’s Belly dancing scarf serves as a privacy screen over my bed. Oh, and that’s the puppy my girls Stacey gave me after Montana passed when I said I wasn’t getting another dog! Yeah. I had to bring it.

It took me about three days to re-organize my trailer from just “get ‘er packed” mode to “get ‘er ready for living.” I hung my prints of Matisse, Georgia, Frida and Toulouse along with my pictures of Montana, Carl and Ava. I’ve made it home. It’s what I do.

I’ve already had a visiter (Jenni) in my digs and she’s coming back soon! And, thanks to Jenni, I now have a Warrior Eagle Donna Mama writing pen! It sits right beside me all day long!

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And, although I got a little writing done while I was Boulder, today was the first real day I’ve written since landing this gypsy caravan in one place for more than a few hours! It felt good to stretch my brain. Tomorrow I want to fit some real physical exercise in and more writing. It’s great to be in the here and now…alone…connecting to those who write through me.

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

 

This past week has been a whirlwind of seeing family with whom I really haven’t been able to have a direct connect with since after Ava’s death in 2012. Yes, I have “seen” them but haven’t had “quality” time to spend with them for a myriad of reasons and this visit has been wonderful!

Gosh, I’m so in love with ALL my Chirrens of blood and by adoption! And, now after this trip to Boulder, I have two more! One of whom I met at the Cork Restaurant in Boulder! Hey there, “G”!

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The Cork Restaurant in Boulder, CO.

I guess I should start by saying that although Boulder isn’t a city I’d visit if it weren’t for my loved ones living there because it’s just too busy, too residential, too many bicycles EVERYWHERE, it is very clean and perfect for raising children in a safe environment. It’s just not my cup o’ jo. I like dirt and lots of it.

However, I do love those snow capped mountains once you escape suburbia and a  little town not terribly dissimilar from my own called Nederland, Colorado. It’s tucked in the Rocky mountains. Like my town, Nederland has a very small residential population but have several festivals every year which can bring tens of thousands of visitors. I had a hard time visualizing where all those people would go…or even stay, for that matter…and still do!

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Yup. Small town, Nederland, CO

But for the festivals, I could, for a moment, see myself living in this little town because of the wonderful people I met there! Here’s a shout out to Winston, Chris and all the other people we met while we were there. It’s worth a trip there but check out their  it’s festival schedules first!

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Of course I had to go into the Renaissance Woman store in Nederland, CO. I told the owner all about our Atlanta Little Five Points area and their annual Halloween Parade!

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When my sister and I were traveling the turquoise trail, we ran into a similar shop like this so it was only fitting for her eldest daughter and I to go into Wings of Lace Boutique, Nederland, CO and do some shopping! Hey, Chris!

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Remember what I said about bicycles being EVERYWHERE! Here’s proof! This is Solta Restaurant, Nederland, CO and the young man behind the counter looks like a young man Mark’s twin. Mark was like a son to me and chose to leave us way too soon and has been on my mind a great deal this month.  Both were from Austin and moved to Colorado! I almost fell out! 

After seeing all the mountainous terrain of I-70 West of Boulder, CO to Green River, UT via I-70 from studying Google, I was quite apprehensive if not anxious about driving it. However, my niece’s husband, who is extremely familiar with this highway, talked me down out of the tree with some good info. And I’m so very glad! The trip West was marvelous! My favorite park was driving through the river gorge, but that is always my favorite part of any drive!

See what you think!

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I-70 West – First snow capped view!

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Mountains galore!

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River Gorge driving just shivers me timbers!

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Golden trees everywhere!

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I be comin’ ’round the bend!

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This just doesn’t do it justice but…

Well, this travelin’ woman is just about done in for today so, Happy Trails…until we meet again!

It’s interesting and pivotal, at this very specific time in my life and in history, for PBS to air the Ken Burns 10-part series on Vietnam.
Donna Woodward Friend SrPic 1965

“Before” – Senior Picture, 1965

Why was watching this series pivotal for me? Well, in 1965, when many of my school chums were being shipped off to fight an unwanted battle on Asian soil, I was fighting my own “Vietnam” battle of being a pregnant 17 year old on the streets to fend for myself, engaged to the wrong man, met the right one who was MIA in Vietnam, married the wrong man and gave birth of my son, Carl. The other layer of the story was my father was so insanely angry at me for getting pregnant he came looking for me with a gun to kill me. Yes. Kill me, my fiancé and my baby.
Early that 1965 magical insane summer, my fiancé, Ray, joined the Army. That bitter sweet last night with him before he left for Bootcamp, held all the images of a tearful teen 1965 movie…pain, love, hurt, joy and mixed messages of a future with a scrambled past. We talked about what would happen if I became pregnant but neither of us truly believing it could/would happen. We, obviously, were delusional.
It was during the months after Ray left, that I started questioning my choice of a future and husband. I had a good job working part-time as a Legal Secretary for two general practice lawyers and going to Georgia State University while living at home. I wanted more independence so my oldest brother co-signed on a loan for me to buy my first car, “George.” It was a black 1960 Karman Ghia convertible. It had no heat if you weren’t moving forward but I sure loved dropping that convertible top on those waning summer days! That’s when I realized I just wanted to be engaged and not married. After all, I was in college,  working and feeling alive.
It was one of those wonderful summer nights when I was driving “George” around with the top down with a friend that I met Dave. Dave was a 6′ 2″ drink of well water who had a loving spirit, was well educated and in the Army. He was the catalyst for my break up with Ray. My time with Dave helped me further realize how I was cutting myself short in a more mature way…like a real future with a career and Dave.
And, although both Dave and Ray were in the Army, only one went to Vietnam.
And, again, I lived yet another, more painful last night…but, this time with Dave. He filled my heart with a future and a terrible sadness of loss later multiplied by my yet unknown pregnancy. It was a during those months that I later had an older friend tell me I might be pregnant. It was such a shock to think I might be! That’s weird, I know, especially knowing I was was raised on a small farm but I truly never connected the dots because I lived in a teen haze of invincibility as most do/did.
My letters to Dave (which numbered many) went unanswered. I was glued to the news to see what was happening 10,000 miles from home.
In the meantime, my first gynecological visit was to find out I was seventeen and pregnant. My life started falling apart at the seams at that moment (and hasn’t stopped in the 50 plus years since).
As soon as I got home from the appointment, I called Ray at the Base and told him of our predicament. We secretly plotted an elopement. He was stationed in North Augusta, South Carolina where one only had to be eighteen to get married without  parental consent. I was one month short of eighteen.
So, armed with a “doctored” birth certificate,  I drove “George” to North Augusta, SC, picked up Ray at the Base and immediately headed to the JP’s office to get married. Well, my fraudulent birth certificate  didn’t pass the muster of the Judge’s secretary. I came home pregnant, sick and worried out of my mind as to what was going to happen next. Ray went back to Ranger training camp.
It was that next weekend when my “Vietnam” started.
The next morning after I came back from my visit to SC, I woke up with sick. Dad guessed I was pregnant and immediately flew into an “Incredible Hulk” kinda’ rage.
Because our failed marriage attempt, Ray had gotten leave again to go to Atlanta so we could plot our next elopement steps. Mom came into my room and sat on my bed next to me and proceeded to tell me Dad was convinced I was pregnant. I broke down and said I was and that Ray and I had tried to get married that weekend but had failed because the the parental consent thingie. We cried and hugged. She asked if I wanted to get an abortion. I told Mom from some outside source, in an out-of-body kinda way, “This child is meant to be born.”
Mom then.told me about Dad’s rage and to pack some things and not come back until she told me it was okay. She said for me to call her later and, if Dad answered the phone, to hang up. She knew Dad and his rages all too well. What she didn’t know was that Dad  was already blowing a gasket much like Vesuvius. When I called, she answered. She said she’d never seen Dad this crazy and that he’d  gone to his arsenal, gotten a gun or guns, and was hunting for me and Ray. He was going to kill us both. Well, all three of us.
We hid all night in “George” in a parking lot behind some buildings on Fourteenth Street. I’ll never forget how scared and cold we were.
With the help of some older “Hippy” types who I’d just met, Ray and I had a place to hide for a few days. Mom, in the meantime, got the parental consent  paper signed I needed for Ray and I to marry.
I drove to SC again; Ray and I married on his nineteenth birthday.
I was seventeen, alone, pregnant, living with those Hippy folks near 14th Street in a run down apartment and working for those lawyers. Those Hippy folks took me in with open arms, fed me, gave me a baby shower and helped me find an apartment I could afford.
And, in all fairness to my siblings, they were living their own stories, living in other cities and/or were caught up in their own lives, nightmares and futures. I know Mom fought hard to keep Dad from killing me. She told him he’d better leave town until he calmed down enough to be a father and grandfather. He headed West and stayed there until right before my son, Carl, was born.
How did I survive the first of My “Vietnam” years? I truly don’t know because my part time job working for two lawyers as a legal secretary typing petitions and handling a two man law office paid me an astonishing rate of $.75/hour. It took every penny to pay the $36.63 car payment and $65.00 rent in my Hippy-ville apartment overlooking Tenth Street near Piedmont Park where I walked my leashed rabbit down to the park after work.
TO BE CONTINUED…