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Archive for the ‘Cross Country’ Category

That misty photo should look pretty familiar to residents of my new home state. Day nine brings me to my new home town. It has been a long trip, but not nearly long enough. I am ready to do it all again. Maybe next time it wil be across the top of the US instead of the more round about version. I wonder how my Hells Angel friend is doing. Is he still singing to the travellers at that rest stop? Tomorrow, day 10 is the offical arrival at home. I hope you enjoyed revisiting my travel if you followed me before. If this is new to you I hope you enjoyed it for the first time. I look forward to your comments and thoughts either way………

Down and safe is what the characters on the  British sci-fi series Blake’s 7 would say after a successful transport to the planet surface. I am down and safe in Washington after 10 days of driving from Maine. Tomorrow I meet my new roomate with excitement and a little trepidation.

But first I woke up to a misty, cold morning. The top of the mountains were obscured by clouds backlit by the glowing sun. A brooding kind of morning. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest. But that scene did not last long. Soon the sun was in full shine, the sky was bright blue and the clouds were friendly and fluffy. This continued all day.

I stopped at a busy highway rest area to rest my eyes, and take a phone call. There leaning against one of the buildings was this happy man, strumming his guitar and singing a song. I stopped to chat and like others, to leave some money in his guitar case. This man with a happy smile and smooth, wrinkle free skin was a Hell’s Angel with a sad story. He said just because I am an Angel doesn’t mean I do what those others do. He was a Vietnam Vet and had a young child. Because of his association with the bikers his child had been taken from him. In state custody she was left unattended and died from a seizure. This man turned to music and Jesus to soothe his soul. He showed me some news articles from the papers. We chatted a little longer and then I went on my way and he went back to his music.

The evergreen trees are a lot bigger in Washington than in Maine. The grass is already green. Daffodils are popping up in the highway divider. Flowering trees are in bloom.

I arrived in town, checked in to my motel and did a drive around for a little while. I will be just a couple of blocks from the beach and marina. It was a long trip and I have to admit that this last day and a half have done me in. So I am glad to be here at last. I often thought of my friends back home over the last week. I hope you are doing well. Perhaps tomorrow some last thoughts on this adventure and then on to a new one. Thanks for sharing this journey with me.

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Eight days a week…things are still up and down. It is very hilly here. By the way that is not Mt. Shasta pictured further down in case you were wondering, or know better…

In every trip there are bound to be ups and downs. This trip is no exception. Yesterday and today I drove highways I had never driven before. Snaking through the serpentine mountain passes today I was either going up or going down. All day long-up-down-up-down-up-down-up…you get the picture. The area of Lake Shasta was so magical I was disappointed to find it was man made resevoir. As you wound around discovering different views of the mountains and water all I could think of was Lord of the Rings. (photos is by Shawna Scott not me)

In stark contrast was Mount Shasta a totally not man made mountain. Actually it is a collection of volcanos. This photo is by me. Do you remember Johnny Carson talking about Mt. Shasta? I do. The Native American name means white mountain. But all the snow was gone. Quite imposing.

Continuing my up and down journey I took a side road in Dunsmuir to find gas. But instead I found this excellent theater marquee. It was a strange little town that obviously at one time a great little resort town. Very old fashioned and quaint. There were lots of little cottages, an arboretum,boat launches etc. Would be nice to visit in the summer. But indeed a little past its prime.

There were many interesting places to stop and visit, the sundial bridge, Shasta Caverns and many more. But I was like a horse that sensed the stable ahead. I just kept driving.

In this same area was Castle Crags. Ancient, rough and scaly like the back of a venerable dragon. The land became greener and greener. The trees bigger and bigger. The sky turned dark and brooding which seemed only sensible considering the power of the mountains. Eventually it began to drizzle and then rain lightly cleaning the remains of the desert of the car.

I arrived at the night’s destination to a room from the past. Pine panelling and pink ceramic tile. A nod to the 50’s motel past.

Sleep tight.

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Day seven, not a day of rest. I’m back in comfy territory. I was back in California this January to visit friends and visit some favorite places that I didn’t have time for on this trip a year ago. The Pasadena Playhouse is back in business I am happy to say. It is still sunny and warm, not like here in the PNW….

Coming out of the desert as I said was almost culture shock. Here I was on tree lined streets, it was 77 degrees, much warmer than the desert had been. The cars on the freeway glittered in the sun like an Oscar gown. I feel very comfortable in Pasadena. I have been there many times before. I thought I would spend an extra day there. But I said to myself if I do that I just might not leave. There is something about the energy that feels good to me. I did drive by the Pasadena Playhouse and took this picture. They announced recently that they were shutting down due to the economy. But there were still productions announced on banners and the valet parker was setting up his stand. Maybe there will be an angel that saves this cultural jewel. I have enjoyed performances there on several occasions in the past. No time on this trip however.

Next day off to the north. Driving over the mountains through the Angeles Forest I wonderered if my little overloaded car would handle it. You could never consider it overpowered by any means. Then I saw the sign saying turn off your air conditioner to avoid overheating, radiator water in 1 1/2 miles. But there was no problem.

The sandy, sparsely vegetated mountains bore the scars of a forest fire in places. As we reached the top and started downward the mountains turned green and grassy. They reminded me of the Brecon Beacons in Wales, especially when I saw flocks of sheep on the hillside. As I turned one last corner, a large flat terrace of land appeared. It was so different it was almost like driving through a portal into another land. Kern County-how about that?

Pistachio plantations, orangeries, and vinyards went on for miles. Flowering trees were waiting for the bees to emerge from their hives. Now and then a truck rode throught the neat rows checking on progress. Signs for fruit stands started to appear. One farm’s signs were so eye catching I decided to stop and check it out. There were fields of purple flowers with grazing cattle too. But I didn’t see any happy California cows! Dairy council shame on you. The only Holsteins I saw were in large, bare ground lots. Back to Wisconsin you California want to be cows. The fruit stand road was lined with beautiful rose bushes. Red leaves and very bushy with the most amazing red-orange blossoms. What do you think of these?

I was so excited to see billboards for Pea Soup Andersons. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is a restaurant/gift shop/tourist trap. Of course they are famous for their pea soup. I collect restaurant china and I have a fantastic plate from there with their logo on it. They no longer have a logo on their china. Too bad! I suppose people were stealing them all the time and they would be costly to replace. Very few restaurants have logoed china any more.

Isn’t that just too funny? The outside of the building has a big windmill. There is also one of those boards that you stick your head through into the logo so you become the chef and his assistant. I saw a couple looking at it and I could tell they wanted a picture. So I offered to take it for them so they could both be in it.

As we slowly traveled up out of the farm land the mountains completed the circle closing the passage on this enchanted land.

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Sixth day on the road and I am still having a great time. I am starting to feel the end of this trip coming on too fast. I don’t want it to end, despite that straight line on the gps. The end of the trip means getting back to reality and responsibility, ugh….

This is what my gps has looked like for the past three days. Can you imagine? Must be pretty boring, eh? Not at all. If I had stopped to see all the interesting things along the way or just stopped to take pictures I would still be in New York. It has been a long time since I traveled by car for this length of time. Each city and area is different. The light is different, the scent is different, the colors are different, the energy is different.

We don’t have rattlesnakes in Maine. We do have a desert though. Bet you didn’t know that. It’s not as big as the Mohave desert though. For the first time on the trip I saw a few cactus. There were lava fields too.

There were left overs from the days when Route 66 was the only way to get from Chicago to LA. When was the last time you slept in a wigwam the sign says. Aren’t these TeePees not wigwams? Yes this was a motel. There were also plenty of deserted and dilapidated motels, tourist traps and gas stations along the way. They looked like the sort of places the heros in a B movie would hide if they were trying to escape from the aliens. (There are the aliens again) Unfortunately I didn’t get to Roswell.

After days of driving the straight and sometimes narrow it was culture shock to get back to civilization and greeness. There was snow on the mountain tops, flowers by the side of the road and more cars than trucks. I had a feeling of sadness leaving all the peace and quiet behind. But all things must end. The trip from now on will be very different than the past few days.

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Day five of the long way round. Have you seen any of these marvelous sights? If not, you better hit the road yourself. It is well worth the trip. Not as many miles covered on this day, but many miles of wonder…..

There was no time to post last night. I was on the road from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm with a few stops along the way. Starting out in Alburquerque I wanted to mention the fabulous public art. Along the I-40 expressway as well as other locations you can find sculptures, mosaics and paintings. This is an aluminum yucca and I understand it is illuminated by neon at night. Check out their Flickr page at the address at the end of this post.

I set myself a daunting task today. Not just a long drive, but I wanted to stop at several places along the way. The first was the Painted Desert followed by the Pertrified Forest. Since I had sprained my knee the day before I wondered if I should risk it. But I did and I was glad. I have seen both of these parks before but they are worth visiting again. Last time it was late in the day, this time in the morning.  The ranger at the entrance gate asked me if I had any rocks in the car. Of course it is illegal to remove anything from the park. I had to admit that I did. I had brought a small collection of Maine granite with me. He packaged it up and sealed it so I would not get in trouble upon leaving the park. This is part of the formation called the teepees. The colors in the desert are red, brown, pink, yellow, green, blue, white and almost every color in between. Is this where rainbows come from? If you are able to stay long enough you can watch the colors shift. The petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock are fascinating. One vistor exclaimed there are aliens there. And a young boy approaching the rocks asked his father why they called it Newspaper Rock? This friendly raven greeted me in the parking lot and walked right over. When I said goodbye, he grocked twice as if to say goodbye back to me. It is almost impossible to take a picture that looks like anything in the painted desert. It is immense and subtle. And so very quiet there.

Next was the forest. To really get a good look at the petrified trees you have to get out and walk the paths some of which are rough. I thought it was not smart to try them so I settled on what I could see from the turn outs. It is weird to see all these trees scattered over the landscape and know how old they are. Outside the park people sell petrified wood they collect on private lands. At one store they must have had over an acre of samples for sale. Large enough for tables to the small book shelf pieces. I had no idea there was this much of the stuff around.

Off to the next event, Meteor Crater in Winslow Arizona (where you can take your picture with the girl in the flatbed Ford). This is the first certified meteor crater and the best preserved as well. Thank goodness they had elevators as well as an exceptional interpretive center. I couldn’t take the rim tour but I saw plenty. The first big hole of the day. This is another thing a picture doesn’t do justice to. The people are there to give you an idea of the scale. Then it was off to the next big hole in the ground. The Grand Canyon. It was getting late in the day and I wondered if I would get there too late. You can no longer drive through the park but there are free shuttle busess that stop at the viewing spots. True enough it was going to be too late to see both of the viewing routes so I took the one that I and the bus drivers deemed the best.

The whole day had been extremely windy. Have you ever seen a gas pump shaking in the wind? I thought it was going to blow away while I pumped gas. Add the snow on the ground covering many of the paths, it was interesting. 

The clouds were coming in and more snow was predicted so picture taking ended early. I have been fascinated by the canyon ever since I first heard Ferde Grofe’s Grand Canyon Suite . Once again no picture does it justice and the scale is more than you can ever imagine from the pictures or film you have seen.

Was that enough for one day? I think so. Off to Kingman.

Albuquerque Public Art

http://www.flickr.com/photos/abqpublicart/galleries

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Day four of this anniversary celebration-the ring may need polishing but the memory of this trip is still fresh. The winds here can sometimes rival those of the plains. They come unexpected and leave just as swiftly….

Ohhhhhh—klahoma where the wind comes sweeping cross the plain. Across Texas as well. From the red clay earth of Oklahoma to the yellow/gray earth of Texas the winds were amazing. They were so strong that when I stopped at a rest area I had real trouble opening the car door. This rest stop is also a storm shelter. Notice that everything is bigger in Texas. There was quite a nice display of local history, information on wind farms in the area as well as barbeque shelters. How you could keep a fire going in these winds I have no idea. There was also a telescope for getting closer to the immense views.

While driving I also saw the largest cross in the western hemisphere. That is is what the sign said at least. But since I saw an identical one yesterday I have my doubts.

One long straight road today. My uncle called it miles and miles of nothing followed by miles and miles of nothing. Vast stretches of flat land dotted by isolated dark green bubbles or crumbly mesas rising up were my companions most of the day. It was almost dreamlike driving down the highway.

I broke down and purchased a typical trinket at Meramac Cavern yesterday. How do you like my new copper ring?

Albuquerque

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This is day three, a year later. I still do a lot of traveling, but more often by plane than car. I do love a road trip, how about you? Where have your travels taken you?…..

Hold tight, time waits for no man. I broke one of my most important rules today. I took a shower in the middle of a thunderstorm. But there was no time to lose as I had another long day ahead of me. Took off from Terra Haute in the rain but out came the sun and dried up all the rain within the hour. From then on it was smooth sailing except for a spot in St. Louis.

I just couldn’t resist stopping at Meramac Caverns on the way. I have been there several times before and it always makes me smile. The country around there is very beautiful and the cavern is enormous, impressive, beautiful and a little scary all at the same time. It is charmingly low tech with dim lighting and hand rails that provide little safety as they are wet from the dripping ceiling. They are there to remind you to save yourself.

The tour ends in a room called the theater because the formation looks like a stage curtain. In fact there is a seating area where you enjoy a sound and light show. And I say that with a grain of salt. The tour guide flicks various light switches off and to with the music by hand, as Kate Smith sings God Bless America. No computers here. At the end a flag is projected on the curtain.

   

There are the usual exhibits, a gift shop,  and snack bar to complete the experience. All in all, worth taking the time to visit. If you had some extra time you could also visit here.

Tonight in Tulsa.

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