Well, we are at journey’s end. After another marathon drive today from Las Vegas NV to Evanston WY we are all chilling. Tomorrow will be in to Cheyenne and we will have completed the circle as Evan informed me. The kids were terrific to travel with and I am so glad we got to take this time together. Saturday evening and all day Sunday they spent with Grandpa and Grandma in Henderson. They ate at their favorite places and saw “Finding Dory” which they thoroughly enjoyed. We stayed at the historic Boulder Dam Hotel. Built in the 1930s it has been a place where the likes of Bette Davis vacationed after filming “Of Human Bondage.” The rooms have been furnished 1930s style, but it still up-dated and of course, air-conditioned.
As we came in to Boulder City, we took a quick trip over Hoover Dam. It was terribly hot and the water has dropped dangerously low. My brother said about one more foot and the government will take over rationing. Phoenix is likely to be hit the hardest. This week heralded record hot temperatures so we all waited until late in the day to be out and about.
Leaving early this morning we still ran into temps from 93 degrees to 103 degrees, but again air conditioning in the car saved us. I remember traveling in the summer before AC. We opened vents on the floor and the side windows. Sometimes we would picnic in a park until later in the day or travel at night. The first AC dad bought for the car was for his mother when we were taking her to a wedding in Denver Colorado. Unfortunately it really drew down on the power of the vehicle, but it made a real difference for all concerned.
The country from Las Vegas north through Utah was really amazing, Abby and I agreed. We saw a lot through the car windows. Before St. George, Utah, we went through the Virgin River Gorge. Unfortunately we couldn’t get out of the car to take pictures, but the geology of the canyon was magnificent with steep sides. Moving into the area around St. George we saw the red rocks of the desert. When the sun hits them it is as though they are on fire. It was obvious we were traveling through the Great Basin area. The mountains encircled the hot, dry desert floor. The vistas are amazing. Coming up Interstate 15 we saw cactus of various sizes, brush, and wild flowers. As you get into the more settled areas irrigation plays a terrific part in keeping the fields green. Through Cove Fort, Utah, we climbed one of many ranges of mountains, going from 2000 feet above sea level to over 6600 feet which was close to the Grand Canyon. East from Provo we were driving through the Provo River canyon seeing waterfalls, people tubing, kayaking and floating the river. A couple of dams made for jet skis and motorboats.
But I have to complain about the traffic. It really is horrendous with all the trucks on the highway. You can get boxed in as they pass you and each other. Everyone is in a hurry and passing even on the Interstate is in and out. Exhausting, really. Even the kids were tired. Abby drove for awhile but was glad to let me take over the wheel after awhile. She used her GPS service to get us through some construction areas. It was nice to have her along.
Evan decided the water tasted better and the sky was bluer once we got to Wyoming. As one quotation says, “Life is a voyage. Heading home.”
When mom was getting ready to go out somewhere she would inevitably ask dad, “How do I look?” With a peck on her cheek he would answer, “You always look beautiful to me.” Recently a young man preparing to start a ranching life with his young bride was asked when he thought she was the most beautiful. “When she is operating machinery,” he responded quickly. Now both these men were very wise. Their answers were not going to get them in trouble. Even though we know the truth about how we look at any time, we women always respond to a man’s compliment. It was just the same when mom was straightening dad’s tie and giving him an appraising eye before she sent him out the door to teach each morning, with love in her eyes and a peck on his cheek.
Maybe I have been thinking about the line “seeing with the eyes of love” because I’ve been traveling of late in places where the milling throngs are representative of everywhere in the world. I was amazed at how seldom I saw anger or frustration or heard heated words whatever language. People were hot and tired. You could tell by looking at their faces. But even when dealing with tired or fussy children there was an incredible amount of patience.
We took turns standing patiently and quietly in rest room lines and food lines. We offered to take pictures of each other so you had a group shot for your album. If someone dropped something, someone picked it up so you wouldn’t lose it. If you caught someone’s eye you smiled. The day after the Orlando shootings we were sitting in a hotel lobby with many others eating breakfast. All eyes were on the television and the horrific shots from the carnage. People spoke quietly while others read the newspaper headlines that lay scattered around the lobby. As we continued traveling we soon noticed the many flags at half staff and also graffiti comments remembering the fallen. As in other times in America’s history, when tragedies occur, we seemed to be as one.
Seeing “with the eyes of love”. I watched a group of Japanese tourists help one of their own, a disabled young woman. I saw seniors pushed in wheel chairs or walking with children or grand children or with walkers and no one pushed them aside or bumped them if it was possible. The same care was taken of young parents with small children. The watchword seemed to be “No rush.” As I was descending a couple of stairs I stumbled slightly and immediately an older gentleman shot out his hand to grab my arm and let me lean on him for an instant before we both moved on. Chivalry is not dead!
Seeing “with the eyes of love” is a way of living life not just an occasional thing. No one is too old or too young or too poor or too rich. St. Paul says, “There is neither male nor female, slave nor free, Jew nor Greek, but all are one in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Seeing “with the eyes of love” was in evidence all around me. It was seeping into my bones. It was very good.
You will not believe this! Kids and I were stopping for gas at a Union 76 station in Williams AZ. I am fumbling for my credit card and suddenly there is someone washing my car window!! Abby and Evan couldn't believe the way I was freaking out!! It was awesome -- she came out of the service station and cleaned my window until it shone!! Do you remember when that was the way it was always done? I was trying to explain to the kiddos about the young man who would come out of the station, pump your gas, wash your windshield, and check your tires you never got out of the car! Sigh! Those were the 'good old days'.
Well, after that adventure for me, we headed to the Grand Canyon. The kids were totally excited and really awestruck. The mobs of people also made their impression and hearing languages from all over the world. We heard a good lecture on the geology of the park by a park ranger, hit the visitor's center and market plaza where we had some lunch. It was a perfect day. We tried to look for California condors which have been introduced to the canyon. There were some big birds soaring around, but not sure.
The Grand Canyon is truly an amazing place.
Abby drove us back to Williams. I hit the spa and the pool for a bit. From our marathon drive yesterday I ended up with a pulled muscle! No doubt!!
Tonight we walked main street at Williams and had supper. The kids said it reminded them of the movie "Cars" and the little town of Radiator Springs AZ. All the little shops highlight Route 66 which is fun.
Today we followed other intrepid adventurers and pulled the Explorer on to I-25 and I-40 both associated with Route 66. It was fun to see all the references to the iconic highway and tell the kids a little about what it meant, which of course they don't quite grasp, but fun nonetheless.
I drove a long way today and the kids and I are both tired. In fact, Evan, writing in his journal said, "The only thing exciting that happened was I threw up!" We all laughed. I was glad to get stopped before and he said he felt better when he was done. Kids and cars and travel -- goes with the territory.
Another of life's little wonders -- we stopped at a roadside gas station and cafe for gas and a bathroom break. As we were looking through the curios I saw a woman and a man browsing. The minute I saw her I knew I went to high school with her over 50 years ago. She lives in St. George. Her friend was a brother to another guy I went to high school with. She was flabbergasted that I remembered her. She remembered Dad was her teacher and he did as well. Small world. They were both a couple years older than I.
We drove through lots of high desert country, crossed the continental divide, changed time zones and maintained an altitude of over 5000 feet. It is high desert country. Saw some spectacular red buttes as we entered Arizona. My favorite shade of red. I wanted to stop at a native American jewelry shop in Gallup so we did a little nosing around and had lunch while there. We wondered about maiplas which is a lava based soil and black, There was a petrified wood forest, a place to feed ostriches, buy all kinds of souvenirs and lots of "quirky" little shops as Abby called them.
It was a happy crew that climbed to a 7000 foot altitude near Flagstaff and just a few miles further saw the turn-off to Williams AZ. We have a really nice motel and after washing three huge loads of clothes and eating pizza we are settling in for the night. Grand Canyon tomorrow and a slower pace.
Had a very good day. The sun was warm but the breeze cool. I wore my straw hat today and was really glad for it as we walked a lot. Evan spent some time in the pool in the early a.m. before we took off. Nice slow start to our morning.
We walked first to the Loretto chapel where we saw the 'miraculous staircase', built without supports. Lots of tourists walking throughout the area. After a turn through the gift shop we headed out to the San Miguel Mission built in the early days of the Santa Fe community. The historic sign said it is the oldest church in continuous usage in the United States. There was a bell inside which Evan got to ring. The bell was cast in the 1300s in Spain and then eventually ended up in Santa Fe. There were lots of milagros on the bell frame. Milagros comes from the word miracle. There were dozens of tiny figures -- an arm, a leg, an animal, a person -- each one a prayer for a miracle.
Just across the street was the state capitol. It is a lovely building, the entrance in the shape of a kiva. There were many pieces of art work to look at. Abby found an interactive display with seeds. We took various samples and are going to hope we can grow something. The seeds I am really interested in are hollyhock flower seeds. Abby found one called a Marguerite, a flower with her mother's name.
After lunch at "A Bite of Santa Fe", (the kids had huge burgers. I had a great root beer float), we headed back to the plaza. For a bit we sat and just enjoyed some mariachi music. Later Evan was back in the pool, Abby took a nap and I puttered around with my computer.
This evening the kids wanted something cheap and good to eat so we went to a Subway after getting lost and heading south until we reached the Santa Fe city limits and decided we were going the wrong way!!!
This is my fourth time in Santa Fe and although it is really expensive, I find there are always new corners to walk around and something to see. With the kids it was a matter of seeing things through their eyes and I am pleased they seemed enthralled with all of it . I think the Cathedral of St. Francis was particularly breath-taking yesterday. I find myself moved to tears when I am in these places of worship hundreds of years old. Really something the love and dedication the congregations have to these places.
Lots of the shops are upscale. Abby and I are talking about how fun it would be to hit the sales in this area. Could probably get some really awesome clothing and jewelry.
One of the sites at the state capitol was to see the house and senate meeting chambers for the state. Impressive. New Mexico has a woman governor.
Should I return sometime I will do more museums which isn't really the thing for kids this age which is fine.
Williams AZ will be a fun stop. The motel has washing facilities and we are deciding we need some clean clothes. It is also on Route 66 which I think Evan will enjoy. I like the retro stuff because it is my retro stuff.
The bus continues to move along. As we left Taos today we stopped for a time at the gorge of the Rio Grande River. Lot more impressive than I had imagined and I guess it never registered with me that the Rio Grande started that far north, but it does, coming out of the snow fields of the Colorado Rockies before it rolls on to Texas and Mexico. Lots of people rafting the river and many opportunities for hiking and getting into the back country.
In Santa Fe we found our hotel easily enough. We couldn't get in for a few hours so we took off walking as everything for tourists is extremely close. Walked through the Plaza and saw the St. Francis Cathedral started by Bishop Lamy as early missionary in the church. He is the subject of Willa Cather's book, Death comes for the archbishop. The highlight for the kids was eating pizza on a balcony looking directly to the state capitol. Evan thought it was the best pizza he had ever eaten. They were both hungry so it went down fast. A bit more shopping and then back to the hotel to find we had to wait another hour for our room. This time it was poolside which I thought o.k. It is a beautiful outdoor pool. I even defied the odds and put on my bathing suit and paddled around for awhile. Then out for a light supper at KFC, snacks for the evening.
Tomorrow it is more sight-seeing and shopping. The hotel lit a fire in a pit by the pool so that has taken up our interest for a time. Wish I could get the camera to download so you could see it.
Today was our day to visit Taos. After a good night's rest (in which I was informed I snored! Not a great surprise.), breakfast and then Evan took a dip in the pool, we got ourselves rounded up and headed for the plaza. We got there a little early so I found a parking place where I had to plug meters, but it was a good location so no problem. Walked around the plaza and then at 10:45 a.m. boarded our Trolley for a tour. We visited three places -- the Martinez Hacienda, St. Francis de Assisi church, Taos Pueblo and some interesting other spots the guide showed us (i.e., a house made out of aluminum pop cans.).
Back at the plaza the kids went to do a little shopping. I am fighting off an allergy attack of some kind. My right eye burns, hurts, waters until I can hardly see out of it, so I stopped at Wal-Mart and loaded up with eye drops and Claritin. Miserable! The wind was really blowing so I stayed in the car once we got back to the plaza. I think that helped a little.
Now we are back at the motel just chilling a little. Later we will go for supper, Evan wants The Alley Cantina and Abigail is obliging.
Learned a lot of the early history of northern New Mexico and the community of Taos. The Tiwa Indian Pueblo has been around for 1500 years and is the longest continually in habited living quarters in the U.S. UNESCO made it an international site of importance. Today the tribe was holding a dancing festival so people were pouring in to watch. We walked around the grounds of the pueblo and enjoyed Indian fry bread and Frito pie. Of course the Spanish influence is huge. We learned that adobe isn't used much anymore as it takes too much upkeep. The church of St. Francis is adobe, but every year the congregation has to patch and paint and do upkeep. Huge job. They were in the middle of their yearly project when we arrived. Because there is an ordinance that buildings and houses must be built with something that looks like adobe, right now that is concrete covered with stucco.
All in all a good day and its not over yet.
Today was a very good day but a very long day. Leaving Cheyenne WY about 8:30 a.m. we drove 572 miles to Taos NM. For those who care I was getting 24.1 mpg so I was a happy camper. The last hundred miles were the prettiest through canyons and along a stream that had many fly fishermen. Abby has her learner's permit so she drove for about 90 minutes. It was two lane through the canyon so it was slow and minimal traffic, but she did a super job.
Evan forgot his swimming trunks at home so that meant a stop at Wal-Mart in Pueblo CO but there was nothing in the style he wanted that fit him. So we ended up at Wal-Mart in Taos (they truly are everywhere) and he found what he wanted.
Supper was at a fun restaurant on the Plaza de Taos. Tomorrow we will take a trolley tour out to the Taos Pueblo, then to an old church and a third site. After that we will mosey around the plaza. Evan found a Rocky Mountain chocolate factory (now there is a boy after my own heart) so we will have to sample the wares, of course. All the adobe buildings really make for a different setting. Taos is a resort town winter and summer with a beautiful setting.
Everything was green along the way. We drove in a couple of showers and some sharp lightning on the mountain peaks, but that was far away.
The clerk at the front desk of our hotel had spent a couple years at a hotel in Williston ND so he knew Glendive MT. All he said was, "It gets cold up there." I responded, "Yes, it does."
Now we have crashed and are totally done for the night. Tomorrow will be a full day.
Is there something written that says a trip that starts badly ends well?? I certainly hope so. This morning about three blocks from home I heard a horn honking and honking. Looking in my rearview mirror I saw a pickup truck trying to get my attention. My rear door had not closed completely and a suitcase and some other stuff had fallen out of the car onto the street. Yikes!! The guys in the pickup were real 'galahads', picked it up and caught up with me. What a way to start!! But at least there were good folks who made a difference.
When I got to Douglas, I am sure I made a reservation at the hotel I usually stay in, but there wasn't any recorded. The clerk graciously called the other hotel and there was none there either. Fortunately I could get a room but I am still positive I made a reservation -- now I am wondering where I DID make the reservation. As you get older incidents such as this get more and more scary. I am going to check this out when I get home, for sure!
Otherwise the trip was uneventful, thank goodness. Last gas pump I saw in Montana was $2.50 at Broadus, then it was $2.09 in Gillette. Sunshine and blue sky and hot temperatures and green everywhere. Creeks, sloughs, stock dams all looking full.
Gillette was really busy today, but then I drove through about noon. At Wright, Wyoming between Gillette and Douglas I stopped for a break. At a large Exxon service center a big yellow school bus pulled up from Rawlins, Wyoming with a load of high school boys. Evidently they had been to a basketball camp at Black Hills State University in Spearfish and were all sporting similar t-shirts advertising the camp. They were loading up on 'traveling food'. They had probably left Spearfish SD this morning and would be home late tonight. Dad taught at the high school in Rawlins from 1952-54. I started kindergarten there. Fun to see.
Saw antelope (of course), a deer, lots of geese, red-winged blackbird and other birds. Too many prairie dog towns. Seems as though there are a lot more than there used to be.
Super good supper at The Depot in Douglas. All yummy, but then I was hungry!
Absolutely gorgeous day on the prairies. I drove to Circle MT to preach at the Lutheran Church there. I getting to know those folks and the country they live in and I find it very comfortable. The prairies are so green it takes your breath away. As I was visiting with someone the other day, I think we appreciate the green and we “see” the green because so often we have browns all around us. Actually brown is the normal color of this area. I remember a professional artist who lived here for a time who raved about all the shades of brown he could paint and there is truth to that, but for right now we will revel in the greens.
This business of people and the soil is a wonderful relationship. Mom used to tell about her dad walking out in the fields to check the heads on the grain or that there was enough water for the cattle. He did not start ranching until he was nearly 40 years old so he had a lot of catching up to do as did most homesteaders. But you learn to know your land.
Yesterday I was developing a close and personal relationship with my little plot of land, the lot my home sits on. I was weeding my bed of iris and enjoying plucking out the little seedlings that seem to pop out of the ground regardless of what you do to get rid of them. But it was fun to see the clean bed when I was finished. Then I dead-headed my rose bush and cut a couple of wild branches off my little maple tree. I walked around and looked at the flowers that are ready to blossom and enjoyed the red and orange lilies, the yellow and purple iris and the red roses. The next round of blossoms are ready to move in as the early Spring flowers finish up their moment in the sun.
Even mowing and trimming the yard (even though I am very weary of it by August) is a way to examine that brown patch of grass by the fence, or a new weed that has popped up or why are the leaves on the lilacs curling? Must be an insect of some kind. Each year I welcome back old friends and enjoy watching for new growth. A new plant is always a time for excitement as it shows itself in the various stages of growth and development.
I have two bergenia plants that puzzled me for a time. When I planted them they grew full, with big leaves. For two years I looked as though I had two cabbage plants. Big, lovely leaves, but nothing else. I left home for about ten days in April and before I did I had a long visit with those two plants. I told them if there was no activity by the time I got back I was taking them out and planting something else. When I got home each plant had spawned several stalks with white flowers on one and pink ones on the other. I guess once in awhile you have to ‘talk tough’.
The other day my neighbor complimented me and said, “I had the best looking yard on the block.” Oh, no! No pressure there!