Archives for posts with tag: midlife reinvention
Eagle Nest, New Mexico is so wonderfully peaceful that I drove out of my way for my R&R. The lake is nestled in the bowl of these wonderful mountains. The town is small and quaint and affords one of the activities I enjoy the most about my travels which is meeting and getting to know locals. And, it was this pristine, magical place that helped me prepare for what came next!
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Mountains surround this valley

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This lake is huge!

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Mountains in the background hugging this lake filled valley.

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Cimarron Canyon State Park was the prelude to Eagle Nest.

Driving from Eagle Nest, New Mexico to Boulder, Colorado just about did this ole Road Warrior Eagle in! The wind all along I-25 was as challenging as Texas but instead of 18-wheelers (of which there was NONE), I was faced with getting behind open cattle trailers with every excrement known to a cowhand flying onto the front of my windshield  coupled with crazy California-type drivers jumping lanes. Add to that 30-40 MPH winds slapping me around all the way up to just outside of Denver. 
 
So, I stayed in the far right lane to avoid as many of the Cali-type drivers as possible opting for the cattle excrement!
And then…the 40 MPH crosswinds came. Just like Texas…cattle trailers and all. I fought the whole scene for hours…and then Denver. There are almost as many aggressive, inconsiderate, rubber-necking drivers in Denver as LA based on population ratios. Their rubber-necking would put Georgia’s to shame. FIVE MILES of traffic was backed up going both north and south because of a truck on the side of the road being loaded onto a wrecker! For real!
I thought that, once past the clog, all would start to flow again especially now that the cattle trailer had exited but I was so wrong. It was start/stop, cut in front of me all the way into, in and past Denver. Silly me, I’d forgotten this type of I-25 insanity from my 2016 trip to Boulder or else I would have found another route. Yup. Will remember this one, won’t I! LOL
However, this ain’t the good part yet. This 30-40 MPH crosswind stuff is what makes me a Road Warrior. It was the turn off toward Bounder onto Highway 157 with 60 MPH wind gusts that broke me down. I was tired before I got there, but like the ole barn mule, I could see the barn and smell the feed in the bucket. My family was close now so I fought onward.
That wind was BRUTAL and unrelenting. I thought it was going to flip the trailer over. I’ve driven about 150,000 miles on the backroads and expressways on these trips since 2008 and this was the first time I experienced the “full” monty of white knuckling, gut wrenching, orifice puckering driving. When I pulled up at my niece’s house, tears ran down my cheeks and my whole body was shaking. None of these Chinook-type winds was predicted on any of the three weather websites I checked right before leaving Eagle Nest.
Understandably, I have no new pictures from this last leg of my episode but I’m still standing, I have my truck, my caravan and reservations for the next legs of this amazing trip. So, I’ll repost my own reminder that I’m running with the big dawgs!
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Running with the Big Dawgs!

YEEHAW!

 

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

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To recap how the color of the rivers have changed from Alberta in western Canada to North Bay in the eastern part has gone from very clear green to red and now to brackish (they call it black) rivers. I remember seeing that brackish color in the mountains near Montreal and wondered what was wrong with the water! Apparently, it just is what it is!

Seeing the Great Lakes from the Canadian side is quite impressive much like the difference between seeing Niagara Falls from the US side versus the Canadian side. No contest! Canadians got the better view of both, for sure! So why in the heck are they so aggressive in their driving techniques? They blow the horn for anything and everything and I’ve decided those horn blowing Canadians need to drive in Los Angeles for a week and get this crap outta their systems in the middle of some real aggressive driving traffic! Blow your horn there, suckers!

Today, hopefully my last Canadian driver rant, a young woman blew her horn at me as I slowed down for a red light. I threw my hands up in the air as if to say, “What?” She drove dangerously around me on a sharp curve on the wrong side of the road and tried to get between me and the car in front of me, almost ramming my truck…just to turn right a block away. I think her passenger saw me taking pictures of her tag. Take this!

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Thank goodness that the five hour drive today wasn’t anywhere as bad as yesterdays drive. Yesterday was the “lick that hit Uncle Dick,” as my BFF would say. I was more than ready to get back to the US and I’ve been in so many different driving conditions, circumstances and insanity but nothing like this Canada Trans Highway 17! Done!

I have driven straight through from the cabin to Flagstaff, Arizona in twenty-four hours…about 1800 miles. This cross-Canada 1700 mile trip from Medicine Hat, Alberta to North Bay, Ontario has taken me (driving time only) took twice as long! No joke! So, if you’re interested in driving across Canada on Highway 17, buy Depends, food, gas every single time you see a station as you won’t see many (learned this in my childhood riding the backroads…only roads de jour…with Dad), get some great rock and roll music to push you past those moments when you don’t have radio or cell service (like those last 200 miles yesterday), maybe a good audio book and lots of whatever your non-alcholic stress fix is like dark chocolate, and, finally maybe something to block out the honkers and obnoxious drivers like good meds.

Other than that, lay back and embrace the tsunami of the drive. Lord knows I kept making myself embrace the journey and those of you who know me well know I did because there aren’t any dead bodies along Canada Trans 17…including mine. I’m still trying to recover from yesterday. Thank goodness, my hotel room was ready early and I’m in for the night.

The good news about todays drive is that the farms were back. Second to trains, I love old barns, which like everything else on this drive, appears way to fast to catch much on film. I did get one or two good views of the lakes.

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Old barns! Love ’em!

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River?

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Marshlands?

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Those bright yellow flowers again.

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Farmhouse

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North Bay, Ontario older building

Tomorrow? Kanata, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Last stop before I got to Lake Placid, NY for my R&R before picking up my next co-pilot, Stacey! She and I will explore the northeastern states on the Atlantic coast and Nova Scotia, so keep watching! It’s bound to get real with the two of us in the same car! Talk about “Squirrel!”

HAPPY TAILS, TAIL OR TRAILS…YOUR PICK!

For the whole year of 1982, my 16-year-old son, 5-year-old daughter and I underwent the divorce process. An ugly, painful, gut wrenching, damaging divorce from a person who I thought was my “soul” mate.

In the divorce, I got all the bills, the kids, the sewing machine (a Christmas present) and a 1963 Ford Falcon Futura Convertible which looked more like something waiting for a crusher than for refurbishment.

1963 Ford Falcon Futura-11963 Ford Falcon Futura Convertible – looks pretty good in this photo!

The car had been abandoned near Underground Atlanta in the mid-1970′s and my then husband bought it for $25.00. My mom thought he’d overpaid until she saw first hand what I needed it for.  I moved me, kids and car into Mom’s. I put the car up on cinder blocks and pulled off all the tires and chrome. It was when I started beating the dents out with a 2″x2″ board and sledge-hammer instead of killing my husband when Mom “saw the light”.

Yep. I did all the body work with a 2″x2″ and a sledge-hammer. It did wonders for my soul. I played “What’s love got to do with it” by Tina Turner on the boombox full blast singing along with every WHAM of the sledge-hammer. I kept getting more and more empowered with every strike at the SOB… my ex… n0t the car!

Next, I took Naval Jelly to remove the rust and primer to prevent more. I removed the seats, door panels fixing 25 year old problems. I spent every morning before work at the junkyard with Liquid Wrench, screwdriver, hammer and pliers in-hand pulling scuff plates and anything else I needed off the 1963 Ford Falcon Futura pickup truck there. Only problem was my vehicle not only was a convertible but a 1963-1/2 model which made most of the parts unusable and certainly not returnable. I couldn’t afford to buy new ones from J.C. Whitney Catalog and had to make do. It was more fun. I know… that sounds sick.
I joined a Falcon club to talk shop with other Futura owners and to glean some insider information about where to get parts not found in junkyards. Ava and I  proudly drove our topless “in-progress” vehicle to these meetings. Turned out the top I purchased from the catalog wouldn’t fit! Oh well, I still needed to finish the body work, paint job, rebuilding the rear floorboard and whole interior so a topless convertible just felt right.

My dear friend, Bunnie Seignious,  from high school used to ride around Sandy Springs with me to garage sales while the Falcon was in this condition, topless and all. It was on one of these excursions that a huge nest of some kind  (probably squirrel) fell out from under the dash onto her feet! She and I experienced simulcast, spontaneous screaming laughter! Ya’ see, Bunnie was used to riding around in my crazy cars. In the mid-60′s to late, I used to give her a ride to work every morning  in my 1960 Karman Ghia Convertible (“George”). It was on those cold, dark early winter mornings on a curvy road to the Interstate where first, the glovebox door would fall open. About that time, we’d be in full bore right turn mode when her car door would fly open! Every morning was an adventure!      Those cars didn’t have heat unless the engine was warm and moving forward. When you stopped, you had outside air inside. Gosh. I miss her. She went too soon.

So, once finished, who do you think got the first ride? Bunnie. She couldn’t believe the transformation any more than my mom.

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My friends complained that I spent too much time on the car as did my young daughter. It was a necessity. It was therapy.

It was after the car “turned” on me that I became eager to sell it. Yep. It turned on me. Ava and I would be on a nice Sunday drive when it would just come to a dead S-T-O-P, and refuse to crank. I’d push the darn car over to the side of the road when it would then promptly crank. It was “Christine” before Stephen King ever dreamt it up. Actually, maybe it was him who witnessed this event and decided to make millions off my misery. Wish I’d thought of it first!

After all was said and done, I got out of it less than I had in it, monetarily speaking, but I certainly gained some level of sanity over the experience.

HAPPY TAILS!
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Wow! I had to go into hybernati0n to get back up to speed to even write about the last two days of my trip home! I didn’t feel like I was all that exhausted until I stopped! It’s like the old joke about the guy who keeps hitting his head against the wall and won’t stop. A fellow asks him why he doesn’t quit it and his reply is, “It doesn’t hurt until I stop!”

I knew I had a great deal to process once I got home and I understood I’d be tired but what caught me unawares was how mentally wiped out I’d become from all the hard work I’d done in pushing my way to a new level of grief healing. Don’t get me wrong! I loved every minute of my 2016 Great Adventure (except for the Lebanese LA restaurant thang and a couple of others) because I was focused, determined and motivated to my quest of how I wanted to live the rest of my life…or the third chapter. I’m still not sure of all the details as I’m still processing but going west annually is definitely in my future!

As this journey has been about contrasts…before and after Ava’s death; before and after my journey; west vs. east; desert mountains vs. Smokey Mountains; water vs. drought…I thought I’d post a couple of photos that struck me from my last day on the road that focus on the differences between the far west and the near east of US.

On the back roads in the west, I witnessed a great deal of drought; a great deal of wasted water irrigating to artificially stimulate growth with more moisture lost in evaporation than plants benefited in extreme arid climates; dry creek beds; river and lake levels atrociously low (Walker Lake in NV is 181 feet below normal per Wikipedia and Lake Mead is at a record low) yet Las Vegas continues to pump millions of gallons of water into artificial lakes, fountains and entertainment venues causing the drought to worsen; more strip mining than you’d ever think; outrageous heat (triple digits); very dry air; no green vegetation save cacti and succulents; 75 MPH speed limits and California’s aggressive drivers.

Walker Lake, NV

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Outside of Tonapah, NV

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On the back roads in the east, I found Tennessee to have the most aggressive drivers (mostly between Memphis and Nashville); not as much evidence of strip mining as I’d seen before; full rivers, creeks and lakes; moist air and normal temps (high 80’s) and lots of vegetation. I was even glad to see the Kudzu!

NC mountains close to home!

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My father raised us all to be very mindful of the earth and our need to protect it. I’m sad to say that my generation hasn’t appeared to do a very good job of that and it’s only going to get worse because society has moved into the instant gratification mindset and I’m afraid the new generation doesn’t care or understand  about the long term ramifications of such a lifestyle not only on them but on our precious earth.

As my children are gone and I have no grandchildren, it’s really up to those of you who do have them to teach the next generation to love Mother Earth and help resuscitate her back to a healthy normal!

HAPPY TAILS!

 

Today will be short and sweet…well, some not so sweet.

I stayed in a Motel 6 in Albuquerque last night in a very sketchy neighborhood. As I hadn’t eaten anything worth talking about, I needed to find some decent food. I turned right on the main street. Wrong! Even the hair salon had burglar bars on the windows! Really? Like the gangs are stealing hair goop now?

The good news is that I found a place to turn around and found the nicest Denny’s. Everyone was so nice and welcoming. Close call!

As far as New Mexico, there are only two pictures because I’m not in the exploring mode. I’m in the Get’er Done Donna mode. I hope to drive into my own driveway by Friday. That means I have about 1000 miles to go which, by my drive-aholic standards, ain’t all that bad.

Hasta la vista, New Mexico!

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The not-s0-sweet part is when I was sorely reminded of the thousands of wind turbines for about a hundred miles on each side of Amarillo, Texas. Driving out this time, I bailed off I-40 and hit the back roads so I really didn’t see as many then as I saw today.

I couldn’t help but wonder so many things…like the adverse effects on the herds of cattle feeding in those thousands of acres of wind turbines churning and transmitting energy underground. Or exactly how long it will take to make back on the investment  and will it be before the footfall field sized unit is obsolete. Or what is the effect of all this electricity in the ground on us? The questions ticked constantly in my head as I tried to guesstimate how many there were in my field of vision not to mention all the ones not. Or in Kansas, Nebraska, and so on.

I’m not sure I really want to know the answers, but my brain is so geared to ask the hard questions that I can’t stop it. Look at these.

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Tomorrow? Finish Oklahoma, cross Arkansas and get to Memphis or beyond.

HAPPY TAILS!

Traveling from Las Vegas on the end of my healing journey, crossing Arizona and New Mexico will always and forever remind me of Ava. In 2002, Ava and I went on our spiritual ancestral past in the Navajo Nation. We started at Window Rock and climbed Canyon de Chelly, hiked around the Four Corners and Monument Valley, visited the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff (to visit U of A), Sedona and the Petrified Forest in seven days.

In those days, traveling in the Navajo Nation was all back roads. We connected on a new level and she decided to not study at University of Arizona in Flagstaff and continue her opera training at Shorter College in Rome, Georgia (the Julliard of the south).

Staying in Flagstaff last night brought on a flood of memories. I digress here to share my healing journey…because this was/is the purpose of this 2016 Great Adventure. Flagstaff triggered memories of my son-of-another-mother, Mark M. was in school at U of A at the time when Ava and I were there to see if it was a good fit for her. However, it was my Georgia real estate expertise which brought him into my fold. I was the last person in the US to see him alive when he came to see me at the Southern Comfort Cabin in the summer of 2014. He came to tell me he was going to take his life. We talked thirteen hours straight until the wee hours. He said he felt better but I knew it was only a temporary fix because I could see his determination. My heart still breaks over his decision.

Ava decided to go to Shorter College (a Baptist college) which definitely didn’t fit Ava but it was her love of her early mentor, Madame Fiori, who was ninety when she started training eighteen year old Ava’s voice. Madame left everything to Shorter College when she died. It was for that reason Ava decided to go to that alien planet to study. It wasn’t until Ava went to UNLV (U of N, LV) when she found her kindred mentors.

Even though I avoided Flagstaff areas Ava and I had been in 2002, it was when I came across the brown national park sign announcing the Petrified Forest National Park that caused me to regress. I drove blindly into the park hoping to revisit those days to fell my girl and remembering how much fun we had on that trip. It worked.

I recommend taking your time immersing yourself in this beautiful, peaceful, magical geologic anomaly.

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Blue Mesa

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Painted rock

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Petrified Jasper forest

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It was too hot to actually get out of the car and look at Newspaper Rock. Look it up. So very historic and way cool.

 

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The many times I’ve driven the I-40 east and west, I never stopped in Gallup to check out a place my dear friend, Fred (owner of Prairie Trails in Sautee, GA) had traveled for years to buy items for his Native American centered store. The trip is just too hard for him any more and I promised this time to go to Richardson Trading Post in Gallup.

I guess I used up all my camera battery life on the Petrified Forest because it died as I was snapping photos. I couldn’t get a pic of the front of the shop nor the vast array of items for sale…both old and new. Here’s a taste. Beware, however, if you go onto what appears to be their “official” site, McAfee puts up an alert so don’t click on it as I have a feeling they still work with an abacus!

There was so much to take in but the neatest part for me was the stuffed white buffalo! I so would have bought that!

 

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HAPPY TAILS!

As I don’t drive over large dams or bridges, I go around Hoover Dam when I leave Vegas and plan to head east on I-40. Instead, I go South on Hwy 95 and cut across to Kingsland, AZ via Hwy. 153 to pick up either Route 66 or the 40. Today, I chose the historic route…Route 66.

The last time I was on this section of Route 66 (there’s a turn off for the Historic Route 66 Loop west near Kingsland), I was with my daughter, Ava, on s spiritual quest in 2001 or 2002 on the tail end of our trip and headed for the petrified forest. I should have remembered all the photo ops on it. It really should be savored and walked around in to enjoy the ambience of the diners and the early Americana history not to mention the magnificent landscape and geologic sights.

Here are a few that turned out good enough to publish. As the towns are few and far between, I’m posting them all together.

However, one must go through some amazing geologic formations in southwest Nevada along Hwy. 95 etc. before Arizona.

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Enjoy Route 66!

Oops! It looks like some of my best pictures of the historic buildings have disappeared. The scenic landscapes  below are between the historic towns which have survived.

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Dust Devil! Finally caught one!

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If you look closely, you’ll see a snow capped mountain range. Jenni and I kept seeing one similar to this in northern California and I thought, for a moment, this was the same one I called Kilimanjaro!

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The road we took coming from Auburn, CA to cross the state was Hwy. 299 which was gorgeous but had some road construction delays which were 45 minutes to an hour in 97 degree heat. However, the pay off before and after the wait was well worth it as you can see for yourself in my blog from last week.

Leaving started out well…but…

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And please note that after this point, there are no pictures of us on Hwy. 36 because it was a hundred times more challenging than how I started this trip on The Tail of the Dragon, for those of you who have followed me from the beginning. This wonderful, beautiful road turned into a double-fisted, gut wrenching, switchback road from hell with all the familiar names of rivers, etc. on Hwy. 299 but n0ne of the views! There was a house or two, a ranch or two and nothing else for 138 miles but curve after curve to the point we were ALL sick! No joke! Even Montana!

When we reached Auburn, we were most happy to be with a loving friend who took us in, made jokes, gave us great lodgings and helped us recover our humor before going to bed. It was rough and I’ve driven many a back road but this one ain’t driving that one again!

Today was another nine hour driving day. It was hot and tough but we made it back to 113 degrees outside and 96 inside! Jenni’s A/C kicked the bucket while we were gone! Ain’t that just the way it is!

I’ll keep washing and packing; she’ll keep doing all her stuff; Montana will still be Montana; Boo will still be Boo; and there promises to be a Southern Comfort Cabin in my near future and A/C in hers!

HAPPY TAILS!

 

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!