Sunday, June 27, 2010

Catch up weeks

After being gone for such a long time I have mountains of works to catch up. All the gardens are over grown and I wrecked the house (the part I had left clean anyway) when I unloaded the truck! I'm making headway on both the house and the yard. I have begun some outdoor projects that have been on my list forever by buying the first 30 castle bricks to replace the native rock wall in front. I like the wall but I never really had enough stone and it won't stay together anymore so it must be replaced. I have such a slope in that garden that I need another wall as well. Luckily, I won't have to move may plants and they aren't going to be that tall. When that's done I have three or four other projects in the yard before winter. One of the hardest things about being single again is figuring out how I want to live but on the trip I discovered that I was home. Independence and my house will suit for a long time yet. I have plans for the inside as well but they will have to wait a bit. The Monster "to do" list was revised this morning, not sure if it is longer or shorter but it is better organized. As soon as I dig out my sewing room/ office I'll begin sewing again along with the gardens, organizing and de-cluttering, etc. Projects are going to be finished! On that note I'll begin posting cross-stitch updates on Tuesdays, quilt updates on Thursday and Garden post on Saturday. At kick in my pants to keep me working! Well, time to get started on something else--kitchen cleaning.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


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West Coast Vacation-Day Twenty-three

There was rain and hail in the night, two inches or more. I am pretty sure the Platte rose more than 3 inches. We are up REALLY early and on Interstate 80 about the time I'm usually rolling out of bed! For the first time in a couple of weeks I do not need my jacket to walk Kelsey early, warm. I drive ever eastward at first the land is flat, flatter than western Kansas. The hay has been cut in some fields, the wheat has turned golden (the ground is too wet, I imagine to harvest) the farther east I get the taller the corn gets. I stop for coffee and potty breaks and that's it. I finally cross the Missouri River (also high and living up to it's nickname "Big Muddy") into Iowa! They have had too much rain as well and the areas designed to relieve the Missouri of some water so perhaps there won't be flooding downstream are so full that they have only feet before they are on the highway. Thankfully, Interstate 29 is built a bit higher than the smaller highway I was on! After only a short time I leave Iowa behind and enter Missouri! As I drive south I know more and more of the towns, highways and landmarks: St Joseph, Platte City, Kansas City International Airport, the I-435 loop, I-70, Noland Road, 44th Terrace, my driveway. It is 2pm and I am home! Altogether, Kelsey and I stayed in 15 Motel 6's (they leave the light on and like pets), visited 14 states (Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa) and drove 6,310 miles (I really don't believe that last thing but that's the difference in odometer readings-so unless I wrote it down wrong when I started. . . ) I AM SO GLAD TO BE HOME!

Day 21 photos

Top Left: Crazy Horse Memorial, the rest are of the Badlands.
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West Coast Vacation-Day Twenty-two

Out and about early today, anxious to be home! In spite of that I realize that it's unlikely that I'll be here again (please let that be true I am not in love with South Dakota) so I decide I'll see the sites. I started out at the Crazy Horse Memorial as it was the furthest west then I would work my way east. It sounds like a lovely thing and perhaps it will be when/if they ever finish. Entrance fee is a little steep ($10) for not much of anything. I was disappointed and would not recommend it. Traveling on: Mt. Rushmore is next, only 12 miles away! When I arrived I discovered that the only parking was in a concession parking garage ($10-$25), I was still feeling robbed by Crazy Horse and it irritated me that I had no choice but to pay that to see a National Monument! By definition owned by the American People, urgh. I passed it up, truth is it would look just like every photo I've ever seen of it (probably not as good in person! Photos by pros get attention.) Next stop a drive though Badlands National Park It was a beautiful drive and the badlands are very interesting--while pillars with grass on top! Like tables, some quite small and short, some very large. There are only a few places in the world that have these and it was cool. It is operated by the National Parks Service in cooperation with the Ogalla Sioux as it is partly reservation, party government and partly private. This would especially appeal to Lucas! From there it was south to Wounded Knee, SD, sight of a horrid massacre of Sioux people by US troops-many men, women and children were shot in the back while fleeing, none fought back. I have wanted to visit the site for many years so I drove through the reservation which is beautiful and green ranch and farm country. There isn't a marker (or I couldn't find one) at the actual site but there is a marker at a small church where the killed were buried in a mass grave. The marker has all the names on it, the date, etc. I didn't have the prickly's here I just felt an incredibly heavy air of sadness, more than usual in a cemetery.

From Wounded Knee I went further south into Nebraska. On my way to Valentine, NE (one of those places that post marks love notes every year with a special mark) I began driving through the sand hills. I really thought I had seen every kind of hill possible but not so, the sand hills are one more. The hills each resemble the pile a dump truck leaves behind and each "pile" is very close to but not touching another. Some are taller and some are on the sides of a lower more rounded hill. I don't imagine it would be possible to drive a tractor around these hills so it is ranch country. I see the roads to the ranch houses but rarely the houses themselves, more cows, some sheep. At Valentine I turn south again towards Interstate 80. This whole trip I have commented on how green everything is, I overhear everywhere that they've had so much more rain than usual. The broad expanse of a prairie without trees or houses to break it up is violently green, but then Nebraska is about to float away. Water stands everywhere, even on the highway (it has been there for a while as the Highway department has those portable digital signs posted to warn you, It is high enough that it would stop you if you didn't press hard on the gas.) There has been so much rain in Nebraska, severe storms of hail, microbursts and tornados, the fields of corn have water standing in the rows. My hotel in North Platte is next to the Platte River, Kelsey and I took a walk on their trail along it and looked at the high water. On the news they said it would crest in the night but wasn't expected to raise more than another three inches.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Little Bighorn Battlefield Photos

Top row: Prairie grasses and flowers, markers for the place two warriors fell, markers for the place two troopers fell (the bodies were moved to the ground around the big monument.)
Middle row: First two are of the battlefield from the top of the hill, the third of the First Nations memorial
Bottom row: Headstones for the troopers, center in black is one for Custer but he is really buried at West Point, the monument to the fallen and the battlefield from the bottom near the visitors center
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West Coast Vacation-Day Twenty-one

I left Billings rested (yehaw!) and full of the Uncle's favorite! Got off Interstate 90 at Crow Agency, MT and the Little Bighorn National Monument. I have to say that all the hair on the back of my neck stood up when I got to the entrance and the whole time I was there it felt like every hair on my body was standing! I've only felt this way one other time, at Ft Smith beside the hanging judge's execution stand. Apparently I have allowed my ESP to develop at least far enough to feel the strong emotions left by those dying in terror-or old souls. I even had trouble breathing, finally had to leave. It is beautiful and the signage,etc is nicely divided between Custer's troops and the Cheyene and Lacota Sioux. That's nice to see usually the victor tells the history and while first nations won this battle they lost the war, so.

I then drove The Warrior Trail, Highway 212, through the rest of Montana, a corner of Wyoming and into South Dakota. Three Days in Montana, three states in one day! This is not a designated "Scenic route" but it sure is--I wonder if there is a road in Montana that isn't scenic?

It occured to me as I drove along that the word "Hill" can be used to describe any geological formation from a flat topped butte, to a gently rolling mound. Some are pointed, some are rocky, some have flat tops, some have outcroppings, some are smooth, some are tree covered, some are covered by grass or sage. I saw them all. Today there were prong-horned antelope, cattle and sheep, no one decided to take a walk in front of my truck today--that was good.

Arrived in Rapid City about 4pm after being caught in a hard rain that included hail. Will have to check for damage to the clear coat when I get home. I think it was pea-sized but it sounded HUGE inside the cab!

Now I rest for tomorrow's journey includes another battlefield!

Montana post script

I forgot to mention how green everything is! (a recurring theme for me) There is water standing in every low spot and the rivers are running high, the Yellowstone might even be above it's banks. All you hear on television and when evesdropping ;) is how much rain they've had and when will it stop? Makes for a very pretty sight!

Smith River Valley

Smith River Valley sign, mountains to left are the Castle Mountains
mountains ahead I don't know but could be the Tetons and mountains to right are the Belt Mountains. All are miles away from where I took this photo
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Saturday, June 19, 2010

West Coast Vacation-Day Twenty

Up earlier than usual due to a crummie nights sleep, managed to check out earlier than I have on this trip! After breakfast I attempted to find the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center in Great Falls, after driving up and down the interstate then following the one sign I saw after the highway I finally just gave up and started for Billings. I took a scenic route, I'm always sceptical of those words as I've been on some that are in no way scenic! Today's was quite scenic and cut several miles off the I-90 route Sam picked. Can you see me stick my tongue out? Lots of open spaces, some forested mountains complete with snow in the trees and some fabulous views of snow capped mountains, at one point I had snow caps on three sides of me! I saw lots of mule deer, in fact five of them made the nearly fatal decision to walk onto the road in front of my truck! The last was on I-90, he just sauntered across. A young buck who won't get any older if he keeps doing those kinds of things. I did manage not to hit any of them, I've seen what hitting one can do to a vehicle up close and personal. I have no intention of repeating the experience if I can avoid it! Lots of ground squirrels running across the roads as well. I saw something else I've never seen, I stopped to take some photos with the telephoto on my camera and I was panning the area when I noticed a large moving lump I upped the nearness factor and let's just say that there will be one more calf on the ranch soon!

I wanted to wait to eat until I got to Billings as there is a Cracker Barrel! I got here around 1:30 and ate. I'd been having trouble staying alert and was really tired, couldn't decide on the next leg of the journey so I just decided to stay here. I checked out some quilt shops but didn't buy anything-too tired to decide. Then we went back to the hotel and finished errands later-Kelsey's fan batteries had run out and we have hit hotter temps so I have to be more careful. After naps for both of us new batteries purchased, truck gassed up and ice in the cooler--we're ready for tomorrow. Still don't know which route to take, guess that's next!

Friday, June 18, 2010

West Coast Vacation-Day Nineteen

It seems like I've been gone so long and have been so many places I sometimes think I'm in another state. It's still Montana though. Headed East out of Kalispell pretty late but I was beat from the day before (or should I say from all the talking?) so it was OK. I stopped at the West Glacier Visitor's Center, got my patch and a couple of other things--still haven't found the cookbooks for this state. My Amazon order just gets bigger. It was rainy, cold and cloudy through the park so I couldn't see the high peaks. Big bummer. Also the Road to the Sun wasn't open all the way so I had to come around the south edge. It was really beautiful and I saw an eagle (I'm up to three species!) When I came out of the hills I really came out of the hills--hello high plains! Big rolling hills in all directions. Water standing everywhere, testament to the very wet year they have been having. I did run into a new road sign "livestock roaming on road" Great, now along with antelope and deer I might find cows or horses on the road! There are lots of cows and horses (no antelope or deer) and those dudes are BIG, I can only imagine the damage they'd do to my truck. Fortunately, I can see a loooong way off as there isn't a tree in sight. I only saw a few horses outside the fence and one cow so whew! The road is long and straight, running up and down some pretty steep hills just that way. No twists and turns, I like that. It is restful to the eye as well, so no headache or eye strain. All in all an easy day.

Photo's from Jim and Joanne's

Top row: first two are of "Jim's lake" from their deck- I'm afraid I'd never get anything done, I'd just stare at the lake all day!
The next one is of their home, which was very lovely and thoughtfully planned.
Second row: Another view of the house with Jim, Jim and I on the deck and Jim and Joanne on the deck.
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West Coast Vacation-Day Eighteen

After a leisurely breakfast of coffee and Joanne's wonderful homemade rye bread I loaded the truck for travel. Kelsey was all eyes and getting nervous, I really think she loved being there and was reluctant to leave--or else was hoping for more salmon! I followed them to the Idaho state line as they had a day's worth of shopping to do in Spokane, beginning with Cabella's, of course. Kelsey and I turned north at Coeur D'Alene , ID to take highway 2 towards Glacier national park. It was a beautiful drive through mountain valleys, not too much up, down, round and round or tree tunnels but way too much rain and low clouds. It was cold! I am not used to cold this late in June! Lots of cows and horses in pretty meadows with pretty houses but no wildlife. (So adding the doe with her fawns I saw at Jim's that's only 2 species, urgh.) I reached Kallispel about dinner time, or maybe later as I am now back in Mountain time.

West Coast Vacation-Day Seventeen

Today, I spent at Jim and Joanne's on the lake in the quiet. I'll keep mentioning that because I kept mentioning it to them. Joanne and I have several things in common, we're both quilters for one thing, so it's not odd between us. Jim mostly talks, he has led an interesting life and has many stories to tell. We talk about children, Larry and our joint heritage. I keep getting mixed up with the generation thing, but as a family historian I have some information he wants to know and I talk to my Dad about other things. Dad and I have scheduled a long talk about his uncles and aunt-I will take my recorder so I don't miss anything. Jim has boxes of old papers and photos so there will be treasures there for me, later. Joanne is a terrific cook so they feed my well, enjoyed all the more since I've been eating out for so long! We take a drive around the country, which reminds me of Estes a lot (only quieter.) We are both curious as to the reason for the lack of campers, I have not seen the number of rigs on the highway that I expected either. It's nearly July, campgrounds should be full. Again, we talk until late (nearly 1) as I am leaving in the morning. Their sons and grandchildren are coming, and I'd like to stay but sometime I have to go home.

West Coast Vacation-Day Sixteen

I gave up this morning and gave into Sam re-crossed the Columbia at Portland and picked up the Interstate, can't remember which one! I was really trying to avoid the city but I need a day of driving on 4 lanes of divided highway! This is rugged, dry country along the Columbia river gorge. You wouldn't think that with the great huge Columbia right there, but the land is high above the river itself, all bluffs and deep gorges. Today it was greenish as it is spring but soon enough it will be brown. I saw my first wildlife here, mountain goats! I've seen lots of birds but not so much as a rabbit until now. Oregon is an odd state, you cannot (by law) pump your own gas and the Interstate speed limit is 65-weird. There are three dams on the river (well maybe only two) and a train track on either shore, I did see a couple of river barges and one paraboarder (I don't think that's the right term but they were on a surfboard being pulled around by a small parachute. People do the oddest things.) At great deal of electricity is produced here between the dams and the wind mills. These are the first windmills I've seen since Kansas and there are a lot more! There are also lots of high voltage towers to be seen. At the Tri-cities I again cross the Columbia, this will be the last time as I'm heading north from here. I travel through a high prairie, rolling hills covered with wheat, and tall grass--the hills are higher than in Kansas. I love it there, all the expanse of greens is so restful. My eyes have hurt every day I drove in that green tunnel but here they seem to sigh and relax. I enjoy every mile. I'm headed to a cousins home on Lake Roosevelt, a cousin I haven't seen since 1973. He is actually my father's first cousin (my grandfather being the oldest son, his father the youngest) but he is only a year older than I. For some unknown reason we are connected at the heart. I have only seem him 3 other times in my life as we lived far apart, I have never met his wife. Yet here I am, driving several hours off the track in great anticipation and knowing he is awaiting my arrival just as much. I can't explain it. I phone them from down the road and they meet me in Davenport, Wa--they worry that my GPS will lead me astray as other's have. Open arms, big smiles and big hugs. He's taller than I remember.

We Hickam's love to talk. As children we both waited on parents who always found someone to talk to and we have become them. We talk the rest of the day away as I soak up the silence of his lake. Apparently, Kelsey feels the peace as well. I have never seen her settle in so quickly and accept people so fast. Jim grills me spring caught salmon, just let me say OH MY GOD. I had to close my eyes and have a moment it was so good. (Kelsey liked it, too.) Jim is an outdoors guy, big fisherman (out in his office-read boat) almost daily, master hunter, camper etc and boy does he have stories to tell. So we talk until we can't stay awake--Joanne abandoned us long before! I fell peacefully into bed, in the silence.

Day Fifteen Photos

Fort Clatsop on the left-top: the trail to the water, bottom: the fort itself.
North Head Lighthouse on the right-top: the light house bottom: the Pacific from the lighthouse path
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West Coast Vacation-Day Fifteen

I was lazy this morning and didn't get out of Seaside until about 11:30, it doesn't really matter as I'm on no particular timetable! Seaside is the biggest of the coast towns and is really designed for visitors, lots of shops! It was too cold and windy for me to visit many of them so I hit the highway-again. Drove just a short way to Fort Clatsop-Lewis and Clark's winter quarters on the Pacific. I haven't been doing many museums but having been involved in teaching (and learning) about the Lewis and Clark Expedition for many years at the National Trails Museum I wanted to see this re-construction. It was very nicely done (the National Park Service usually does a good job with interpretation whether it's historical, botanical or geological.) I tramped around a little while, bought some mementos (more patches for this trip.) This was possible because it was cold and Kelsey wouldn't over heat. Then it was off to Astoria, where I took a short break and visited a quilt shop (didn't buy anything) and a little gift shop next door (there I bought a little sign for the shelves in the Living room.) Then over a very high bridge across the Columbia River, bridges never used to bother me but since the Minnesota bridge collapse I can't help being nervous and wondering if THIS bridge I'm on will crash into the ocean/river/lake its above. I think it bothers me more because Larry and I had crossed that bridge just the week before! Anyway, I turned to the west for one last time to see the lighthouse at North Head in Washington state. I walked down to it, said goodbye to lights for a while and to the Pacific as well. Didn't even shed a tear! Fought with Sam (the GPS) until I just turned her off about the route into Vancouver, WA. I wanted to drive along the Washington side, she wanted me to cross that great high bridge and go through Portland--I won. A short day but I had some errands and this was the last Motel 6(always take dogs) for who knows how far and I didn't want to drive that. I needed an oil change having driven well past 3,000 miles so I hunted up a Jiffy Lube (not easy even with GPS) only to be told they were afraid to take the plug out as the last place had siliconed around it to keep it from leaking. It was possible that they wouldn't get it back in--they felt a dealership was my best option, urgh. After a call to my resident mechanic (who did not change the oil) it was decided that I could drive home and let the original folks deal with it. Apparently, I will require a new oil pan. Rob was not happy. Me neither. I won't mention how unhappy Tanya was about it (it was her shop) nor how unhappy the mechanic who did it already IS and I haven't gotten home. Oops, I mentioned it. I also wanted to pick up the Best of the Best cookbooks for Oregon and Washington, thinking Barnes and Noble was a good possibility I drove off there. But, no they didn't have either one--guess I'll be ordering them off Amazon. On my way back to the hotel I stopped in at the Old Spaghetti Factory and picked up some fettuccine alfredo. I really thought Kelsey was coming over the seat to get at it! She had hers before I had mine-is there something wrong with that picture?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Day 14 photos

Top three pics are from the Cape Blanco lighthouse. The next two are of Coquille River. The next is Umpqua River, it's on Coast Guard living quarters! Final row, R to L: Yaquina Bay, Yaquina Head and view from there.
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West Coast Vacation-Day Fourteen

Man, I've been gone two weeks! What have I learned from this trip? 1. NEVER take a driving trip again! Drive to a destination (or better yet fly!) 2. Leave the dog at home. She's a great traveler but I have to be mindful of leaving her in the car too long alone so there are things I can't do. 3. I am not intended to live on the coast. I enjoy the ocean but I feel no connection to it, I will not be sorry to turn east away from it. In future I will get ocean fixes when I visit Steve.

The Oregon coast. What to say, drove down a tunnel of gorgeous green, mixed conifers with meadows from time to time and the ocean peeking through the trees here and there. (Reminds me of driving near Lake Superior.) The road went up, down, around and around, just like the road I've driven on for several days. The highway surface is horrible, so much for Oregon's roads being better! I don't think it was much better than gravel in places. It is windy, again not a news flash! New for today was the constant slowing down for small coastal towns, most designed for tourists. Coos Bay would be the exception as it seems to be a lumber town, rough logs and piles of chipped limbs, (think mulch.) There is a lift Bridge (or two) like the one we saw a Houghton, MI and 8 lighthouses. went to 5. Three were closed (but I got photos), one too long a walk to leave Kelsey (I couldn't get a decent photo of it--Hecta Head--so I bought a post card.) And I went through one. Of the other 3, one would have been invisible due to clouds and mist, the last two I skipped--just too tired for 20 mile round trips to what I knew would be a closed lighthouse. I mostly don't care if they're closed as I've been to so many, while each is unique they all share similar features. There is no amount of money that you could pay me to be a light house keeper!

Day 13 photos

The first and last are the beach at the Redwoods intrepertative center--big warnings here of sneaker waves and rip tides, this would continue all along. It's very windy here as well, when the ocean has white caps you know you're in trouble. The light house is at Cresent City, California
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West Coast Vacation-Day Thirteen

When I woke in at Petaluma I was still undecided as to which route I would take, part of me wanted to finish on the 1 (I am not a quitter) and part of me just wanted the interstate! In the end it was the wind forcast that determined my path. 15-20 miles an hour in the morning and 35+ in the afternoon along the coast, I was just not ready for that. Up the 101 I went. This is inland for about 4 hours, sometimes divided highway sometimes two way but not too bad. Driving through vineyards--many more than I ever thought possible! I remember then that Napa is only one range of hills away on the east, there would be even more grapes there. When the road begins to go up seriously the land changes into a mixed conifer forest and the road gets to be a typical mountain road-up, down, curve to the right, etc but in retrospect it wasn't awful. At Eurika the 101 hits the ocean again, here the beaches are sandy but have driftwood on them and there are huge rocks out in the water. They are more the size of small hills, really. I have been here before as my mother's father lived here for a time. I remember playing on the beach here (and getting drug under) in a DRESS! My mom said she never got the sand out of the hem-serves her right who takes a kid to the beach in a dress? This is the southern gateway to Redwoods National Park and I have memories of this as well. There is a private place called "Trees of Mystery" where we stopped. I didn't remember the name but they had a gigantic Paul Bunyan and his ox Blue which talked to you! I remember my mom said something to me about fixing my hair and Paul said- "Gail, let you mother fix your hair." Freaky! My Dad always talks about this place so it was fun to pass it and learn it's name again. They had a tree cut out so a car could be driven through the trunk, these trees are BIG. I quickly learned how to spot the redwoods, they are much taller than the other trees, have amazingly formed trunks and are a darker green. All along the way today I have passed or met semis loaded with logs, some fir or cedar and some redwood. They are specially made with a U-shaped holder built onto the trailers and when empty they load one onto the other to go back to the cutting. It wasn't like I saw hundreds or anything like you might where they are growing trees for harvesting but it was interesting. After the park I drive into Oregon (at last) and the redwood trees stop. Almost like they followed the state line. I remember thinking that the roads were better in Oregon than California, more on that later. I spent the night in Gold Beach, Oregon, one of hundreds of shore towns along the way. The shore in Oregon is PUBLIC, unlike California where you sometimes have to pay. I knew that soon I would turn away from the ocean so I determined to go to the beach and watch the sunset, so after dinner Kelsey and I did. Let me just say Kelsey does not like the beach but in spite of that she went along. I took beach towels (thanks Beth and Lucas) and a blanket and fixed a spot high on the dune and we sat. I just watched the waves break on the sand and the people who were beach combing. It was so windy I could hear the grains of sand hitting the side of my hood like sleet and we soon had a layer of sand covering us. It got really cold sitting there-even a long sleeved tee, sweatshirt and wind breaking jacket, blanket etc couldn't keep me warm. Kelsey just laid down on the lee side of me, turned her back to the wind and went to sleep. I've tried several times in San Diego to watch the sun go down and the marine layer always comes in and covers it so I wasn't expecting to actually see that but I did.
It was so worth sitting there in the wind and sand and cold just to watch. At one point the waves were backlit so all you saw was a dancing line of sparkling light! No way to capture that on film. I'm so glad I did that, so very glad.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Friday, June 11, 2010

West Coast Vacation-Day Twelve

I was late getting started but in the end it didn't matter. The 1 hit the 101 for a while, four lanes makes for easier driving except traffic is worse, it went inland for a while again then back along the sea. Much lower today thank you. It wasn't any less windy today though, blowing my truck about a bit. Too windy to be on the beach :( I found it somewhat surreal to see cows, farm fields and tractors with the Pacific ocean for a backdrop. Along the farms and towns are between the coastal range and the sea, some places that's a fairly wide area and some are quite narrow. At least today there weren't any places without space between! I finally got to visit a lighthouse (this is kind of silly as I've visited lots of lighthouses on Lake Superior but only one on the Pacific.) The Pigeon Point lighthouse has cottages which are leased to Youth Hosteling USA, I had not seen that before. At the end of a spit of land and perched on a rock high above the sea, it was cold and windy! I had lunch on Pacifica beach, at Taco Bell. I don't usually do Taco Bell but geeze it was ON the beach! Kelsey didn't like this beach any better than the last! Then the 1 takes you into San Franscisco and over the Golden Gate Bridge. It really wasn't as bad as I expected and certainly not as bad as LA. There is a lighthouse, Point Bonita in Golden Gate Park which I tried to get to. I managed to get to the path but the light was closed and the long path down (and then back up) made it iffy, considering Kelsey was in the car. AND the bridge over to the light is often closed due to wind (and it was windy) so I didn't go all the way down, but I did get a photo of the Golden Gate bridge. Truthfully, I was so tired at this point that if I hadn't already told my cousin and his wife that I'd be by their place in Washington I think I'd have hit Interstate-80 and headed home! Samantha (the GPS) said the next lighthouse at Point Reyes was 2 hours or more away and I knew there weren't any Motel 6's over there So I'm in Petaluma, CA. If I decide to go over to the 1, I can do it from here but at the moment I'm leaning towards staying on the 101 and heading north. I've had about all the coast highway I can cope with! the 101 hits the coast again at Eurika. Will see how tired I am tomorrow.

Day 11 photos

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West Coast Vacation-Day Eleven

This post could actually be titled "A day on the Pacific Coast Highway Roller Coaster" and those who know and love me will tell you I DO NOT DO ROLLER COASTERS! At first I was rather disappointed in California Highway No 1 as it follows along with Hwy 101 out of Ventura and then inland away from the sea. (It is known for being right along the ocean.) In fact I thought once that if the hills were flat on top I could be in Kansas in the fall! I drove beside fields of strawberries being picked--really hard work can't imagine doing it all day-also raspberries, blueberries, avocados, artichokes, cherries and grapes-acres and acres of grapes for the vineyards I passed -and at least twice snapdragons planted in strips by color! Before long the highways split and the 1 became the two line highway I expected and returns to the sea at Pismo Beach. There are sand dunes here that I wanted to see but it was so windy the sand was blowing off the beach and into your face (not to mention making it hard to see or stand) so I drove just beyond and took some photos of the sand blowing and the waves. Next up was Morrow Bay. Steve told me to take a photo of their Rock, said I couldn't miss it and boy was he right! It had been an easy drive and I thought I could make it one to Monterey as it was only 4pm and 126 miles, no sweat. Right before I reached the Piedras Blancas lighthouse there is an overlook on a colony of Elephant Seals! It turns out that lighthouse is only open by appointment only (I don't think it said THAT on the website!) Now comes the roller coaster--the road goes up on the side of the mountains and I swear it was hanging on by it's fingernails! High enough over the ocean that my ears popped! You know You're in trouble when the road on your GPS looks like half of a zipper! I know it was beautiful, I caught glimpses of it now and then but mostly I was just busy keeping the truck on the road because there was no place to go. I did laugh a bit, my Mom hated theses kinds of roads! They are quite common in the Rockies and I could just here her telling dad to slow down! Someone passed me at a turnout and I thought, Just don't go off the edge I don't want to be first on scene! (Dad always said that about the highway out of Estes.) Guess parents stay with children more than we think! Finally came down off that ride to take photos of the Point Montara Lighthouse which is only open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays! Just wasn't my day for actually getting close to lighthouses! Although Montara is on a big rock and somewhat difficult to get to. I pulled into Monterey late and very tired only to pull everything out of the truck (almost) and re-pack it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Quilt purchases

After reading about the Fat Quarters Quilt Shop on Libby's blog several times I decided I had to check it out. So on the way to LA I stopped off in Vista and have to say I was impressed! It's a cute little house with fabric and patterns in every nook and crannie! I had to laugh at their parking sign! Then I had to bring some fat quarters and patterns along with me!
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Going through Los Angeles

All I could think while driving through Los Angeles was "will it never end?" and the lines from "Do you know the way to San Jose?" you know-LA is a great big freeway, put a dollar down and buy a car.

Leaving San Diego

San Diego is a city built on mesas. Most businesses are in the valleys between mesas and along rivers and most homes are built on the top. I have seen a few on the sides but it's rare. The sides are unstable and things are likely to slide down, I don't think I'd like that to happen to my house!

We noticed this house which was across the highway from my hotel. We particularly noticed all the stairs! While most people just let the side of the mesa go native, these folks have gardens! I think I might have seen this garden on tv (or one similar) and I really don't want to climb all the stairs at once!
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West Coast Vacation-Days Nine and Ten

I haven't posted in a couple of days, I've been resting-sort of. On Monday I babysat Nora all day, that girl is such a happy sweetie but boy is she strong-willed! I think they may have their hands full when she starts really motoring, which won't be long as she was practicing standing alone. She's so interested in everything and has such an expressive face it's fun to be with her. Poor Kelsey though, Nora really wanted to love up on her and Kelsey's just not sure about these small things that smell rather like people but make sudden unpredictable moves! Nora chased Kelsey from spot to spot until I had to put her in the pack and play. I was given the job of re-ordering the spice drawer, I love this kind of stuff, Candice is a really good cook so she has spices I never heard of. (I thought I had a pretty impressive collection until now!) It was interesting, she has THREE kinds of paprika, and uses them all. I didn't know there were three kinds of paprika! The things you learn. We had Greek food for lunch, again something new for me, and went to Arrividerci (sorry Beth) for dinner-they have great Italian food and it turns out I like Greek food.

I also learned the name of the tree with the pretty blue/purple blossoms on it-Jaccarunda, I have no idea of the spelling, Candice says it's messy and it won't grown in my area but it is in full bloom here and is gorgeous!

Yesterday, I set off to Quilt shop hop and run a couple of errands. Managed the Petco for more canned food (Kelsey hasn't been eating at all well-except for hamburgers etc from fast food places which isn't practical or good for her! She will eat canned food though, at 13 I'll happily feed her whatever she'll eat.) Then we hit Rosie's Calico Cupboard, I often go there when I'm here they have a huge selection, but I didn't buy anything. I was so tired I couldn't shop so we went back to the hotel had a peanut butter sandwich and crashed for two hours. Spent some time dealing with life details and began to pack up.

Today, I'm headed north. More later.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

West Coast Vacation-Day Eight

Wow, I've been gone a week already! To all of you following my little journey and leaving me comments--Thank You, I like knowing you are enjoying it all!

I took Rob and Tanya to the airport this morning, Beth, Lucas and the boys flew out today as well so it will be less frantic with activity now. I will spend more time with Steve, Candice and Nora. In fact tomorrow I'll be babysitting Nora while the kids work. She's a very easy baby but I'll still be tired at night--the nerves of not letting anything happen on my watch!

I've spent the day doing laundry, and getting my room and truck organized, still have to pay bills, but that's next. I had some shopping to do so Kelsey and I ran some errands, and somehow ended up at the dog beach! She's been such a trooper during all this so I took her for a walk along the tide line. I didn't know I was going to end up there so I don't have photos. She was interested but a little spooked by all the dogs playing with each other and their people. Shelties don't really do water, their coats are really heavy when wet, so I expected the look I usually get from her around water that says only too plainly "You want ME to go in there? I'd get my feet wet!" But one wave did get her feet, I think she'd have gone out a little further but some big dog came and sniffed her bum and that was the end of the water and the beach. Not really resting but having it all done is restful.

Wild Animals at the Wild Animal Park!

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West Coast Vacation-Day Seven

We were all tired after Disneyland but we only had one more day together and we really wanted to go to the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park so we loaded up cars, van and truck and headed up to Escondido! Another of my favorites as expect it's the closest I'll ever get to seeing these animals in the wilds of Africa or Asia. It was HOT, but after all we were traveling to Africa, thank goodness for all the misters. As Kolby said "Aahh." The boys played in the children's splash zone and got so wet. Brayden loved it but Kolby is a water baby and just wanted to stay and stay! Next time Beth's going to strip him down to his diaper! (That's why he has on two sets of clothes in the photos--he got a complete set!) As we walked away he turned around to go back, then dried when Aunt Tanya picked him up. The train ride through the part is always a high spot and now they have a "lift," a platform with elevators. The view from up there is amazing, but not having to walk back up the mountain is pretty amazing too! Steve and Candice joined us at lunch time with Nora. We all faded fast in the heat! So many good memories.

After the park closed, we headed for dinner. Some of us had BBQ and some Mexican but then we met at La Jolla Shores beach. I had one of the rare snafus with GPS so we were a little lost (I feel lost every day so what else is new?) Once we were there we watched an amazing thing-a Red Tide. It's really not red but turquoise! A brief flash of blue as the waves break--so cool. It's really cold at the beach after dark but we waded any way and walked along the tide line. The boys had built a hill and Brayden had been making sand angels. Kolby was chasing waves, I think he wanted to get wetter? Need I tell you they were crusted with sand? Nora just takes everything in and smiles.

We were all very tired when we packed up and went back.

Photos from Disney

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West Coast Vacation-Day Six

Oh boy, what a day! We left SD at 7:30am (that means we got up at 5:30am) to drive the 90 miles to LA and Disneyland! Kelsey went along as Disneyland has a kennel, and I was more comfortable with leaving her there than at Steve's house alone all day and most of the night. I did have a bit of worry the night before when I checked her shot record against Disney's requirements as I was unsure if the combo shot she had included Hepatitius. A call to the 24 hour vet assured me that it did, whew! Oh My Goodness, Disneyland has changed since I was last there 28 years ago! I'm not sure I like it, and I really don't like the pricetag. Poor Kelsey had to walk a couple of miles, ride a tram and get carried while being around hundreds of people! Once we got situated (which always seems to take the longest time) and ate we all rode "Wings over California" which was AMAZING! Then we hopped over to Disneyland from California Adventures, the big kids rode some big kid rides (I say the big kids, they took Brayden on Splash mountain) and then we found the little kid rides. These were a big hit-Kolby loved the carosel so much he held onto the pole for dear life and cried when he had to get off, so we took him again! Then we rode our way around to "It's a small world" which was pretty much enjoyed by all except we all have the song stuck in our heads! Beth and I kept Kolby and Nora while they went off to ride the splash ride, it was near parade time so we found a like spot and settled in on the ground. I was holding Nora and Kolby (who really acts very shy around me, he's afraid I'll take him from his Mom) got up off Beth's lap walked over and sat down between my legs and laid back to "chill out." It was as if he said "That's MY Granna and you can't have her!" After that he was going back and forth between us and holding onto me as well as Beth. Too funny that boy! Nora was interested in all the sights and sounds but she just couldn't keep her eyes open so right in the middle of a pretty loud street party she fell asleep. She is such a good baby, at times better than her older cousins. When we hit ToonTown the boys hit their second (or maybe third) wind and just had a ball. I retrieved Kelsy and we packed the boys and her into my truck and I headed back a couple of hours before the rest, Kolby was asleep before we got off our level of the parking garage and Brayden hit the Z's before we hit the interstate, right in the middle of a sentence! It was a very quiet ride back, I carried them into my room and they stayed with me until the next morning. More on that in the next post.

West Coast Vacation-Day Five

Rob and Tanya arrived from Kansas City to join Beth, Lucas, Brayden, Kolby, Steve, Candice, Nora and I for four days. So we hooked up at one of my favorite places in the San Diego(hereafter referred to as SD) area, I try to make it up here every time I come, Old Point Loma lighthouse part of Cabrillo National Monument. On a clear day you can see San Diego harbor and skyline on one side and the open sea on the other, the view is amazing. In the winter you can whale watch from there! We saw fighters taking off from the naval bases in SD, Coast Guard choppers and boats and a Navy ship while we were there along with surfers, sea gulls and pelicans. Part of the group went all the way down to the tide pools and stuck their feet in! Kelsey and I opted for high ground.

San Diego is one of the hardest places to get around I've ever visited (and I thank whomever thought up GPS for we peons every time I get in the car.) I've often heard the expression "You can't get there from here." I wonder if it originated here? There is so much more traffic than I'm used to! For me the hardest thing is finding a parking place! Every place you go it's like Christmas at the Mall and my 1/2 ton pickup is BIG! (Or seems that way).

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Photos from day four

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West Coast Vacation-Day Four

Let me just begin this post with a disclaimer: I have never been a big lover of deserts, high or otherwise. I know many people are in love with them, I think they are dull. Perhaps all the drama of eastern Utah's mesas etc spoiled me or at least made today's sights lacking in comparison.

Left St George Utah pretty early after breakfast at Cracker Barrel, I don't know when that will happen again Cracker Barrels are few and far between out here. Unlike yesterday it was a beautiful cloudless day, I worried that it would get hot but I never had to turn on the ac so it was good. Back to travel. Six miles later I crossed into the Pacific Time Zone (now two hours earlier than at home) and Arizona. Went up and down then through the Virgin River canyon (or maybe they called it a gorge-can't remember.) It was very pretty, bottomed out at 2000 ft (remember Independence Pass at over 10,000 feet, my ears may never stop popping! Especially since I hit 6-7000 feet a couple of times and 2000 feet at least one more time and now I'm at sea level.) Thirty miles after entering Arizona I crossed over into Nevada. All day I drove through territory much like this--a broad basin between two mountain ranges. I use the word basin because it seemed that the land was sort of flat in the middle and curved up onto the mountains. The mountains are sharp, treeless and snow-less, the ground between covered with scrub except for the Joshua Trees (these remind me of Gumby with dreadlocks and pompoms, at least the small ones.) About 50 miles of this and you round a curve to see "sin city," Las Vegas that is. A bright and shinny modern oasis-with a real smog day going on. (Isn't it interesting that Nevada, where pretty much anything goes--I don't think they include major Federal deals here like murder, drugs etc but gambling, prostitution that's ok--is right next door to Utah, heart of Mormonism?) See where my mind wanders when bored? A few miles outside of Vegas you cross into California. There are no big signs or tourist information centers to tell you just a sign showing a seat belt wrapping around the state of California shape and the words "click it-it's the law." Perhaps we are not welcome? The road just touches the north edge of Mojave National Preserve and you can see some dry lake beds--that mirage thing is going on, weird. Then you go up and up, down and down, round curve after curve until you catch Interstate 215 around Los Angeles--I'm really glad I don't have to go into LA because the traffic is horrid even this far out at noon! 30 miles give or take and I'm back on Interstate 15 heading south on the last leg of this 4 day cross-country event. I am in some-what familiar territory now having made the trip up and down the 15 to see sights (and quilt shops) in the past. I am really glad to check into my hotel and unload the truck knowing that for the next week this blog will just be about fun stuff, not driving. Kelsey's glad too!

I do believe I lost my enthusiasm somewhere, hope I find it again soon!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kelsey In Her Den--the backseat

The Reef

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At 40 miles into Utah

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West Coast Vacation-Day Three

At Grand Junction, Colorado the Gunnison River joins the Colorado River and turns south, having driven next to the Colorado for a hundred miles or so yesterday I will miss it. Grand Junction is well known for it's fruit, especially peaches, and apparently it's wine. I can't vouch for that I didn't try any. :( I am only 30 miles from Utah so that drive is quick! The land is very dry and rolling, at a glance it appears green but close up you can see the soil , or rather the sand, between each plant. There are NO trees. Before long the buttes and mesas appear and to the south I can barely make out the spires and rock formations of the National Park I know is near. Distances are misleading though, they could be 100 miles away. While there are signs of human habitation: roads, power lines, exits from the Interstate called Ranch exit, etc. I never see an actual person outside of my fellow travelers. In fact I see no actual life outside of plants. In spite of the hopeful road sign "Caution Eagles on highway" I don't see one of those either. As I travel further into Utah the buttes, and mesas grow more rugged until you reach The Reef, huge slabs of rock set nearly upon end showing their sedimentary layers vertically. This part of Utah is a geology nuts playground! At times you travel the highway up pretty high and on each side of you the land falls away into great basins full of mesa, monuments and amazing rock formations. Silent witnesses to the work of wind and water over eons. There are 4 National Parks just to the south of my route, I haven't time to visit them today but I promise myself that the next "driving to see Steve trip" I will plan to explore them all. The rocks and the ground itself change color often from a deep red to almost white and still there is some green. there are two National forests along the way, not many trees although I would at least call them trees, not bushes like before. There is often a long distance between things like gas stations, one place the highway sign said 106 miles to next services! I filled the tank this morning so I just keep on. Right before that 106 miles is up I see the first ranch house with it's cows deep in grass. It will be a while before I see more. I am spending a lot of time keeping the truck on the highway again today, no cruise-control, just lots of long steep grades both up and down. After a while I run out of Interstate 70 and turn south on Interstate 15. As I drive I try to think about how I will describe the land etc to you but I think it's beyond me or maybe I'm too tired. I stopped early, at St George's UTah. I could have probably made it to Las Vegas but I don't really like Vegas so I didn't try.

Colorado Post-Script

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Long's Peak-14,234 ft
I thought, after I went to bed last night (so tired I could barely see) that I really hadn't said much about going through the Rockies. This photo of the part of the front range was taken just east of Denver. I have stood on the top of this mountain, back when I was young. I don't think I could do it again, shoot I probably wouldn't have made it then but I was hiking with three guys and they wouldn't let me stop!

I love being in the Rockies, especially in Estes Park where my parents had a second home, the reason for all those cross-country trips. We headed for Estes anytime we had a four day weekend and my Mom had a permanent packing area for these trips! Yes, it was a long trip, two days driving-two days there and totally worth it. I saw this mountain out of my bedroom window (a slightly different view but the same mountain!)

It's hard to take photos in Colorado. First, they have lots of scenic views and no safe place to photograph them! Second, I was very busy keeping my pick-up truck(ute) on the winding, climbing, descending road. Third, this part of the state while beautiful is very built up. I saw houses perched so high up the mountain that my thoughts were: Wow, that cost a bundle, the driveway must be a bear in the winter, man what a view they must have. Most towns are strips of condos, shops etc along the highway-that said I didn't have time to stop as I'd over estimated the distance to Grand Junction and I needed to move it. I did learn that the Idaho Springs High School students call themselves the Golddiggers, this is an old mining town so not about money-grubbing (or maybe it is.)

Kansas Photos

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