Archives for posts with tag: Nevada

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!

Talk about sticking your finger into a light socket! I always got amazing electrical charges from Manhattan but nothing is like the energy in Vegas Baby! Part of it is, naturally, because Ava lived, loved and was loved here but even that part has finally tempered into not as many “triggers” for me. They’re not bolts of shock waves as I drive down familiar streets any more but more like little tingles of shock. Praise God and all those who live here who I love and who love me and Ava!

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These next pictures are the views that let me know I’m getting close to Vegas, Baby!

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Can’t get enough!

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Jenni Lee dreamt of this moment where she and other equally talented genius performing multifaceted ELECTRIFYING women came together. She named her group ELECTRA BRASS even before it congealed into this cohesive group of synchronicity and magic! I’m so blessed to have had and now have these women in my life! I’m in love!

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Vegas Babies Rehearsals

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How incredibly talented these Wonder Women are! WOW

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ELECTRA BRASS! YAY!

Tonight? Me, Photo shoot, video promo recording, these powerful women! INCREDIBLE!

More from Vegas, Baby tomorrow!

HAPPY TAILS, TALES and/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!

 

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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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!

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

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

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

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

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If it weren’t for my Georgia BFF who LOVES Pawn Stars, I wouldn’t have driven the entire Strip (Las Vegas Blvd) all the way into town to go there. Not that I can’t or don’t appreciate their niche, I don’t have cable TV so never watch any traditional shows…intentionally…to diminish my exposure to things that trigger my PTSD. Granted, Pawn Stars probably wouldn’t but I don’t watch Antique Roadshow either! She loves that one too. So, this one’s for you, Jackie, thanks to Murray SawChuck The Magician who got me past the line and directly into the store!

Sorry, Rick, but I’m busy tonight. Maybe Saturday?

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Got a Pawn Stars shirt with a picture of Jackie’s favorite Pawn Star!

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Next, we went to Freemont Street. To hose of you who aren’t familiar with Vegas Baby, this is OLD Vegas now under a dome. Old signs (which I love), old casinos (they’re cool too) and some strange entertainers! Just saying. If you go down there, be prepared to see just about anything…and not all of it is entertainment! Some of it is just plain shock factor!

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HAPPY TAILS!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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at overlook

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Vegas-Baby circa 1950’s

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What strange looking show girl

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

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Colorado or bust!

HAPPY TAILS!

 

My life changed forever the minute my son, Carl, disappeared and my then six year old daughter (Ava) told me she thought she was at fault for his disappearance and began talking of suicide. Fifteen years after his disappearance, my son came to me in a dream which lead me to find him. He had been murdered at the time of his disappearance by a Dispatcher for the Sheriff’s Department who investigated the murder! Ava’s suicidal tendencies became more frequent…especially after we found out what had happened to Carl.

Ava was successful in her final attempt, as promised, after her estranged husband told her he had a girlfriend and, even after her pleas for him to help her through the transition and warnings that she was suicidal, he chose to ignore the warnings from me and others.

The night Ava died, I was with my mother in the emergency room with my mom…she was dying…too. I was always the closest one to her (and her to me) so I was the only one to take care of both of them. Ava was 2500 miles away. Mom was 100 miles away. I was awakened at 6:00 A.M. to my new horrible truth. Ava was dead. Mom was sick. I was alone in it all.

When I spoke with my therapist about how I felt, I was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. Some of the symptoms were: I felt like I’d had a stroke and couldn’t remember words; I disassociated; I felt as if  my skin had been removed from my body; I couldn’t leave the house for any reason; and when I did, all I wanted to do was scream out, “DON’T YOU PEOPLE KNOW SHE’S DEAD?”

Montana became my lifeline. Literally. She and I are inseparable. She has traveled with me about 90,000 miles over her eight plus years and has been welcomed in hundreds of facilities since her Service Dog status. I’ve only had slight hick-ups but once told of her status, never refused.

I’m on this trip four years after Ava’s death in the hope that I can move another baby step forward with reconnecting with loved ones who live in the West and to see the places Ava and I had visited together as well as find new ones to hold dear with her in my heart. Plus, driving back roads has always been a healing exercise.

Why do I tell you all this? The groundwork for yesterday’s crescendo.

We went to Venice Beach. I hadn’t been there for at least eight years and I wouldn’t have gone had I known how nasty it had gotten. I wouldn’t have put myself, Montana nor my sweet daughter-by-another mother through it.

So many filthy, doped-up homeless people; crowds; confusion; more filth; a thousand bicycles & skateboards aggressively darting to and fro around us tormenting us all but especially Montana; coupled with great re-b0nding, understanding and love.

To end my visit in LA we decided to visit a middle eastern restaurant…Lebanese to be specific. We all walk in…my daugher-by-another mother, her husband, Montana and me. We were told at the door that they would not serve us because of Montana. I quickly corrected their mistake and a learned waiter seated us. The greeter called the owner (I knew that’s what she was doing) and approached us again as she spoke with the owner telling us  we were not welcome in their establishment even though they understood the ramifications of their actions.

When she told us to leave, I refused and said I wanted to speak directly with the owner at which point she handed me the phone. The woman on the other end of the line immediately started shouting in broken English that she did not have to abide by the laws of this country and other things I couldn’t understand. She rattled on incessantly not allowing me to speak and continued to speak.

The owner came to the restaurant and continued in this manner. I finally really lost it when she said, “This is California and I don’t have to let you stay here. I don’t have to abide by this law!”

I replied over her continued rant, “I don’t know what country you’re from but you’re living in the United States and California was made a state in 1850. This is a FEDERAL law you’re violating. I’ll be lodging a complaint which could result in a $10,000 fine against you.”

The owner’s parting words to me were, “You don’t have a disability! Get out!”

I was so shaken that I couldn’t eat. I was nauseous and horribly upset. All I wanted to do is be in my own home…3000 miles away. I knew this could happen because having PTSD is triggered by several very personal things. Could be loud noises, confusion, arguing, and many other triggers. Thank goodness I’d been proactive regarding the possibility of being confronted by this kind of stupidity and booked myself  to stay in a lovely and friendly AirBnB apartment by the PCH or else I wouldn’t have made it back before collapsing in tears for the whole remainder of the night.

It’s only now, over 24 hours after the fact that I can even write about it. I’m not proofing…just writing…puking, actually…the story because, for some reason, I’ve been chosen to TEACH people that just because you don’t SEE the mental imbalance, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist! DO YOU ALWAYS SEE CANCER? NO!

NONE OF AVA’S FRIENDS KNEW SHE WAS SUICIDAL SO DID THAT MAKE IT UNTRUE? IS SHE REALLY ALIVE SOMEWHERE? OR IS SHE DEAD?

If you want to help support our website avascorner.org  [Ava’s Corner, Inc., a non-profit public charity & 501(c)3] which I stared after Ava’s death to provide one-stop-shopping for education on mental imbalances and creative coping skills, please share this post so others will benefit from this horrific exercise I experienced. I never chose this path. Quite the reverse…I was chosen. But, if it were my choice…I’d chose to have my daughter back.

Email me if you want the name of the restaurant.

TODAY? I shared some of my story with my new friend…the lady who owned the AirBnB apartment where I stayed. Thanks for listening. You and my closest and dearest helped me get okay so I could drive to Vegas Baby today…swollen eyes, headache, broken heart and all.

These pictures are AFTER the LA cluster expressway nightmares and finally got on I-15 North. Temps from 87 all the way up to 113 degrees!

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The good news? I’m staying with another wonderful daughter-by-another mother! I’m safe with her. She made sure of it before I left by telling me she had my room all ready for me and Montana.

Now I can look forward to seeing more of Ava’s friends and my other Chirrens.

HAPPY TAILS!

Pretty much most Nevadans agree that if it weren’t for mining and gambling, Nevada would be an empty state…well that and legal prostitution! Yesterday, I stopped in the middle of nowhere Nevada to get gas and catch the I-80 and was promptly met by a local to tell me that there were two houses of ill repute behind the station. It was a truck stop (duh) and had only one hotel….hmmm. I was tired but decided that one hotel wasn’t for me! LOL I pushed my way on toward Winnemucca.

Who knew that Winnemucca had a great little place for breakfast? It’s called “The Griddle.” It’s a cute 1950’s diner feel with great food. Other than that, there’s just gambling! To be honest, they say there’s some mining done there too but I never could find out what they mined there!

Over the last seven years when I was traveling, I’d traveled most of Nevada but somehow  missed the northwest corner…until today. I’m so glad I had a chance to experience the wonderment of it from prairie lands, to salt flats, to sand flats, to painted rock, and, finally, to an oasis. Enjoy it with me!

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You, literally, can drive a hundred miles without seeing more than a handful of vehicles or an exit. However, I found two exits within my first hundred miles this morning that only had a single dilapidated building at the end of that ramp! One such exit was Jesup, NV.

How did I happen to notice these? I took off from Winnemucca without filling up with gas and there wasn’t so much of an “authorized vehicle” median turn out to go back or anything until I saw a glimmer in the distance which looked like it might be a truck stop of some sort. As I got off the I-80, there was a faded fifty year old wooden sign notifying the weary traveler, “Welcome to Puckerbrush!” As I was solely focused on getting gas and getting on up the road, I didn’t go back for that money shot! I’ll have to get a photo of it next time I’m up there!

This is that exit for Jesup. Look at the cloud patterns in the sky! Looks like airplane patterns but there were no airplanes…or trucks or cars, for that matter!

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Then there were sand flats on the left side of the highway…

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Followed by salt flats on the left side…

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Then both…

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And, all the while, prairie lands on the right side of the road.

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As the left side of the highway evolves into prairie, salt, sand and water!

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Ultimately becoming an oasis!

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And painted rocks on the right side…

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With prairie lands on the left!

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Until, it’s only prairie on both sides of the highway with mountains in the distance.

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And an oasis with running water on the left.

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The contrasts between states has never been more stark in comparison as it was between Nevada and  California when crossing the state line from Reno! BAM! Now it’s all GREEN! And SNOW!

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I didn’t see this much snow at 7000 feet in Glacier National Park! Heck, I didn’t see any snow at Glacier much more than a light dusting on the trees for about 50 feet!

2016-5-23CA4

2016-5-23CA5

2016-5-23CA6

Although I prefer the back roads for my travel joy, I gotta say I-80 wasn’t bad at all. I’d so traverse this route again but West to East next time!

I’ll be in the same place for the next few days so I won’t have much to post but keep tuned in as I’ll be headed to LA next!

HAPPY TAILS!