Better Late Than Never

“The Road goes ever on and on

Down from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

And I must follow, if I can,

Pursuing it with eager feet,

Until it joins some larger way

Where many paths and errands meet.

And whither then? I cannot say”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

The J.R.R. Tolkien poem above was a constant theme of my travels this summer. I was reminded of it over and over as I drove the seemingly endless miles, but even after I arrived home, then packed up and went camping for a few days in West Virginia, then packing again for the very last part of my trip…after I got home, I had an opportunity to travel to the Atlantic, so on the road again! This time, however, the trip was to see a relative near Myrtle Beach. She is ill, but one of the most beautiful people I have ever known! You see, this trip has been one of multiple benefits to me! I proved to myself that I am the strong, able person that I believed I am, I drove the entire width of this continent and enjoyed the freedom of the road, I stepped into two oceans (which truly are only one body of water) one freezing cold, the other nearly bathwater warm, I saw so many incredible things, I found a part of me that I thought was lost forever (my self-reliance), I visited a very dear woman who I know will be in my heart until I breathe my last, I met so many people that made lasting impressions on my mind and my heart, I saw the power of fire where the lushness we live in isn’t possible this year, and I ended the trip visiting someone with the strength and courage I hope I can have when faced with the serious struggles that life can sometimes bring.

I am truly one of the luckiest people on this planet! I have people around me who love me deeply despite my bullheaded, immovable attitude at times and very deep flaws, I love my career and realise more than ever that I have found my true calling in what I get to do starting at 4:50 every morning. I used to believe that everything that begins does eventually end, I don’t believe that anymore, I know now that the road goes ever on and I’m going to ride it as often as I can!

I hope you’ve enjoyed traveling with me this summer, Please enjoy the following pictures and videos that I could not get into the blog as I traveled, mainly due to connectivity issues! If you travel, I hope you learned through my experiences that you will have the best time ever, but be prepared for the fact that there is still wild in America! There are many, many long miles where cell service is nonexistent and that’s a very, very good thing! Because it is then that you realise your mettle. This blog will end at this point until next summer when I plan to travel again, but this time I will be focused on a place that I will explore thoroughly. Please feel free to follow my next adventure, the new school year on my blog,, I plan to blog classroom happenings, the funny and the challenging, pictures, my ideas and anything else that might come up as I try to transition into a project-based, half flipped environment! Oh yea, and I’m hoping to take my students and their parents with me on this journey!

Before I sign off, I have to thank my cousin Donna, for never failing to leave a comment for me after every post, my family for the incredible support of all kinds before, during and after. My boss,for her kind words and for telling me that she was genuinely happy that I found my way back home and inspired her to do some travelling alone too! All of my colleagues at the high school where I teach at for all their kind words since I’ve returned.

The dancing waters of Kansas City!

Fish at Bass Pro near my hotel in Kansas City, huge tank!

Arizona somewhere along route 40.

The first picture is just entering California the next two are the windmills in California as I traveled.

My feet in the Pacific Ocean!

Smoke from the fire the evening before I left for Yosemite! I was nervous all night!

These last four are all from Myrtle Beach, notice the fish around my feet in the video above, one of them looked just like a baby shark!! But it was cool to see them! Well all, this is the end for this summer! Hope you enjoyed it, I sure did! Until next year, may your road go ever on and may you enjoy every mile of it!

From Missouri to Ohio!

After a humid but restful night in Knob Noster State Park, I awoke the next morning with the sun and packed everything up and into the car. Then I went for a shower! The campground shower, although a little dated, was warm and spacious! It felt great to be clean and not sweaty for about 20 minutes. Then, back in the car and back on the road for another minimum 10-hour drive. The plan, to go to Ohio's Hocking Hills State Park for two more nights in the woods, and it turned out, two nights with NO cell service at all! The drive from western Missouri to central Ohio was long and uneventful, except for one incident very near the end of the ride. I was driving the last 10 miles of the trip when a beat up old pickup truck pulled up in the passing lane beside me. I normally don't pay any attention to cars in that lane, but this one stayed right beside me for an inordinate amount of time. So I glanced over and the three guys in the truck were all staring over at me…weird huh! I thought so too, so I sped up and got in front of them, then they sped up and got in front of me…now I was getting concerned, when the truck suddenly pulled over to the side of the road. I drove past and sped up again, luckily there was another car or two behind me and the truck could not pull out, so I hurried my way down the road and never saw them again. Fifteen minutes later I was at the campground entrance, checking in. Once I got directions to the walk-in campground, I had about 30 minutes to hike in and get set up before dark and a rainstorm was possibly going to hit. I didn't realize that my camp site was a half mile from the parking area until I had grabbed everything I thought I would need for the night and started the hike. Uphill and downhill I trudged until I finally found my campsite. Even in the twilight, I could see that the site was beautiful, wooded, hidden and flat! Another bonus – only 2 other campsites had people in them! I hurriedly set up the tent with the rain fly and another tarp over it to try to stay dry.
I got everything set up just as it was getting too dark to see, and I crawled I. For the night. About 10 minutes after I got into the tent and was starting to read one of the books I had brought along a park officer pulled up to my site (the only vehicles permitted to drive into the walk-in camping area), the officer got out of the SUV he was driving and said, "Are you Margie Reed?" "Yes," I replied. "Is George your father?" He asked, sheepishly and kind of giggling. "No, George is my husband and my son's name." I replied. "Well he called the park office very worried about you because he said that you had been on the phone with him about some guys who made you nervous then you lost service, he wants you to call him." "I can't call, I have no service," I replied. "I have two bars," he said, "You can use my phone." (Verizon is the service to have in Ohio, not A T & T). So I made the call, reassuring that I had arrived fine, and had planned to drive out and call first thing the following morning. It was nice to be worried about! However, I don't like being the cause of stress for anyone!

These were taken the next morning after it had indeed rained during the previous night! Anyone who knows me, knows that I absolutely love the sound of rain on a tarp in the peacefulness of the forest! I was in heaven and slept better than I had during most of the trip!
I got up the next morning drove into the closest town, filled the gas tank and called home again. Once back to the park, I went to see the features that Hocking Hills is famous for.
These were taken on the trail down to Cedar Falls. These rocks and the layering that you see are indicative of this part of Ohio. Caves are very common. The end of the trail brings you to the following beautiful little and unique waterfall.

Such a pretty place! I hung out there for a while,then headed back up the trail to go to Ash Cave, which I was really excited to see, but not before I grabbed a final picture, as I crossed the bridge away from the falls. Who can identify this guy?

Ash Cave was next on my list and it did not disappoint!

First view as I entered the area! The cave is HUGE!

This was the next view. See the waterfall? I could just imagine people living here! Fresh water, a deep cave, sheltered from the weather and easily fortified for the winter…perfect hidden location!
As I walked the perimeter of the cave I noticed carvings. These reminded me of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. I think I might even have a picture with Jacob Raub's name in it from there! I need to look!

This was taken from the staircase that you saw in the picture above the carved names. Amazing place! I truly loved my time among the soft sandstone of Hocking Hills State Park!
That evening I got back to camp and decided I wanted a fire for the evening, so I built my very first solo fire!
I did not sleep well this night at all! At around 7 pm people started to arrive in droves, many of them with children, not elementary school aged children, but infants and toddlers. Well, these cherubs cried and screamed much of the night, making peaceful sleep and quiet an impossibility! I awoke the next morning to the sound of thunder! I was due to leave that day anyway so I quickly began to pack up. I got the tent down, but not packed away yet, when the storm sounded much closer so I decided to try to run the bed sheets, pillow, books and other things that didn't need to get wet, to the car and try to get back to pack up the tent and tarp before the rain hit. I got to within a quarter mile of the parking area when the clouds opened up in a deluge of water! Everything got wet and lightning was crashing around me. I opened the back of the car, threw everything in, and got into the drivers seat to wait it out. It rained hard for about a half hour, the storm was loud and grumpy. Eventually it slackened and I could hike back down for my tent and tarp (the only two things I left behind in my mad dash). When I got back to the camp, everything was as wet as I expected, so I buckled down to pack it up, knowing I would need to unpack and dry everything at the first opportunity I had. I packed it and left Hocking Hills vowing to return some day! I called home again first opportunity I got. George was worried. He had seen the local radar and the storms approaching the park and had read reports that there was a tornado warning in the vicinity. I assured him that nothing had happened at the park other than my soggy everything! Off again, this time headed to my last stop on the trip…Sandusky! I had spent many of my summers in Sandusky visiting my aunt (dad' sister) and going to Cedar Point and Sea World. Other summers I visited my other aunt (mom's sister) who lives in Vermillion, and went to Lake Erie nearly daily.
I got to my hotel and settled in, planning to see my aunt the following day. However, the next morning I woke up, got breakfast, worked on the blog for a bit and decided I needed to head home! So I packed up and hit the road for the six hour ride! The ride home was stressful. The turnpike was a mess of slow moving traffic from Somerset on, and then, when I got to Harrisburg it was raining, hard! By the time I got off the turnpike and down to Middletown, I was faced with flooding roadways and police closing streets! You've got to be kidding! I've driven the entire length across this country and I'm 15 minutes from home and can't get there! I tried four different streets, including going through the Penn State, Harrisburg campus. No luck! Finally I found my way around to Main Street and thought maybe that would work, but Main Street was closed, three blocks from the square. I turned down a side street and began weaving my way along trying to get to Royalton. I saw kids swimming in their backyards, floating sheds, and so much stuff floating along the roads with the current. I made it though! I was on 441 in Royalton! Finally! But I only drove a block when again I encountered water flowing over the street. I drove through it! I know I shouldn't have but much smaller vehicles were getting through so I knew it was safe. Exactly 45 minutes after I got to Middletown, I was finally pulling into my driveway! Home! After this incredible adventure I had taken, I was home…
And darn happy to be here!
The final instalment of this blog will be published before the end of the week. It will include my personal growth, several videos and my final thoughts about adventuring on one's own! Thank you all so very much for following along with my travels, and a special thank you to everyone who made it possible and supported me! Kisses!

A quick revisit for a story from California and then my push for home!

Hey all! I forgot to tell you about an experience I had as I entered California and I really don't want it to fall off the radar without sharing it, so…remember I had gotten up early and left Kingman, AZ so I could get to my campground in California? Well, if you've traveled between any of the states, you know that often the only indication that you've gone from one to another is a sign to let you know you are entering… this is NOT true of California! I was driving along when I started to see signs stating that there was a border inspection station ahead and that all vehicles must stop. Well I never saw anything like that before and I started to wonder if I had made a weirdly wrong turn somewhere! Lol. I pulled up in one of the inspection lanes to a very kind officer who made small talk and expressed surprise that I had driven from Maryland. I told him the rental had Maryland plates, but I was actually from Pennsylvania! We chatted a few minutes about that and then he asked… "Are you carrying any plants or fruit with you?" "No plants," I said, "but I do have an orange and two apples." He told me that he would need to see those, so I fished through my cooler, which I had carried on the floor of the passenger front seat the entire way, keeping water and fresh food in it, until I found the fruits and handed them to the officer. He said, "There are no labels on these." I told him that they had been washed so I could eat them on the road and he then asked if I knew where they had come from. I told him I had bought them at our local grocery store and I figured they were probably from Florida and other east coast locations. He told me that he would have to confiscate them. Confiscate them! Really! I suddenly felt like a criminal, a fruit criminal, trying to smuggle one orange and two apples across the border! I asked the officer if, at the least, the fruit would be eaten and not just tossed in the trash. He was not able to reassure me of that. I had absolutely no idea that you could not cross into California with fruit from elsewhere in the country, so this was quite an experience for me. Being the curious person that I am, I asked a store owner later that day about this policy and he told me that fruit and nuts were huge cash crops in the state and that pests were a huge concern and fruit could not be brought in without quarantine, so I lost my fruit at the border, but I totally understand the reasoning behind it. Just had to share that since it was the most unusual thing that happened to me!

Ok so now back to my travels….
I had spent the night in Ely, NV and was getting ready to to leave when I ran into a couple and their daughter. The husband commented on the Maryland license plates and I went through the story of what I was doing and where I was actually from. We chatted a bit and it came up that I had left California the previous day after I visited Yosemite National Park, and the wife then said, "You are just who I want to talk to." I smiled and she told me that they had driven from Wyoming the day before and were on Route 80 heading to Reno, NV when they had gotten rerouted because of a fire along the highway! I told them about my trip up route 6/50, and we talked about whether Yosemite would even be open since the fire was heading that way. We parted ways, with them heading southwest and me heading east. I later found out that the smoke from the Detweiler fire had gotten to Yosemite that next day and that pictures were hazy and the valley smelled strongly of smoke. I felt bad because I knew that family was traveling into that and I wonder if they got into the park at all. But I was on my way toward home and that was my focus, but not without a few more stops! About two hours outside of Ely, I got to Great Basin National Park. Another beautiful park well worth a visit, with beautiful campgrounds and lots of hiking, a cave system, a very cool tree that grows only there (bristlecone pine), and gorgeous views!

Views that go forever!

Can you find the critter in the picture above?

The original entrance to Lehman Cave in Great Basin.

I have always loved the Utah juniper, its scent is unmistakable and wonderful and the "berries" are dried and used in many western Native American pieces of jewelry.

The current entrance to the cave. Tall people might have an issue, the door is only around six feet tall!

As I was leaving the park I spotted this and just had to stop and take this picture. I think it's a Ford Model A. I wonder how long it's been sitting there?
At this point I settled in for a long drive, I wanted to get past Denver and I was still in Nevada! I drove back to Route 6/50 and pointed my car east. Within two hours I was in Utah and back to one of my favorite states ever!

Shortly after I got back on the highway.

I have seen salt flats in Arizona, but this was the biggest I had ever seen! Miles upon miles miles of salt in Utah. Ok, what follows is definitely interesting!

Has anyone ever seen anything like this? I never had…I was driving along when suddenly to my right a dead tree covered in shoes – yes, hundreds of shoes appeared. I drove by, but went only a quarter mile before I decided I just had to get pictures of this oddity! I have to admit, once again my curiosity got a hold of me so, I got online and found out that "shoe trees" are actually a pretty popular thing in Midwest and western states, and it appears to be moving eastward with new shoe trees showing up in Maine and New York! This link will fill you in! They might have begun because of a newlywed spat and it's gone all urban legend now!

Shortly after passing through Hinkley, UT, I saw this geologic formation and I knew I was in for some of the best scenes of my trip, but I needed to find gas for the car so in Salina, UT I decided to fill it up.

I was pumping gas when suddenly this car hit some decorative antique farming equipment in this yard and flipped! Most bizarre thing I've ever seen! Thank heaven the lady and kids were ok!

Driving up out of Salina and toward the beginning of…

Ferron, UT and Green River, UT scenes…more below

Do you see anything in the picture above, maybe something cold-blooded and slithery? I took a picture of a rattlesnake without even realizing it was there! Look in the foreground, in front of the sage bush!

Utah makes me happy! But not done driving yet! Colorado is next, but Denver is still a long way off!

At first, I thought I would camp near here since I was getting tired and my wonderful at-home navigator was searching places for me to sleep. But alas, the campgrounds near this cool dam was full and their designated tent sites were flooded. The next spot I tried for camping was also full, so tired as I was, with night soon to set in, I pushed on into the Rockies!

I had forgotten about the elevated section of Route 70 and the tunnels! Most of the rest of Colorado, including Denver, was passed through in the dark! I especially enjoyed going through the tunnels, first at Vail Pass (elevation 10,622 feet) and Loveland Pass (elevation 11,991 feet) at night and without my elevation sickness getting the better of me! I also want to tell you that Vail, (which I drove through at twilight) is one of the most beautiful towns I have ever seen in my life! I ended up driving 15 hours this day and ultimately found a rest stop that was off the highway and slept in my car, the only time during the entire trip that I drove at night or slept in the car!
The next morning I woke up and started driving again. At this point I was only about an hour out of Kansas! As I was driving, I was looking for the exit that I took to head south toward Rosemary's home, because I knew at that point I will have made a complete circuit and would be back on the road I had started on over a week earlier! I had no intention of driving so long or sleeping in my car again that night, so once again I turned to my incredible at-home navigator and he suggested Knob Noster State Park in Missouri, about an hour outside of Kansas City. Finally, a place I could get to well before dark and where I could set up my tent and relax. Bonus! It only cost $13 for the night!

My campsite at Knob Noster. Peaceful, lush and much needed!
Ok all, that's it for tonight! Tomorrow I push into Ohio for a couple of days, where I want to visit some people and places from my childhood summers!

From California into Nevada…and beyond.

Once I exited Yosemite National Park, it was time to start my journey back across this amazingly gorgeous country we live in. I knew I had about seven hours of daylight left for driving so I chose to drive Route 6 east. I was torn between this route and the quicker route to Reno where I could have spent the night and hit Route 80 to drive the northern path home, but I really wanted to see Utah and Colorado again, so, Route 6 it was. I have never in my life seen a more stark place! My drive on Route 6 consisted of climbing mountains and entering long valleys. Cell service was nearly nonexistent. But the view, and yes once again extinct volcanoes, were amazing!

Near the middle of the picture above is something that caught my eye from a long distance away! Do you see the bright white spot nearly in the middle of the tallest mountain? It took me until I was nearly at my closest view to figure out that I was seeing a concentrated solar power plant. This one is called Crescent Dunes Solar Power and the link at the end of this paragraph will help you learn more about how these plants work! It's pretty fascinating (I taught about these types of power plants for years when I taught Earth Science and it was something that I always wanted to see and now I have!). If the following link is not active, either copy and paste it or just do a general search for Crescent Dunes Solar Power in Nevada will get you a wealth of information!

My closest view of Crescent Dunes! And I'm still about 10 miles away!

Pictures like the one above always strike me…the view from here along the road is a distance of about 30 or 40 miles and then another valley, and yes, there is yet another mountain range after that. I did that for almost seven hours! However, Every valley hid a new surprise! There was the solar power plant in the valley before this, then this one with small hills and cloud shadows moving across the desert (lots of little marmots here too!) the next valley….extinct volcanoes and lava flows…

The next valley, more lava, but also some giant petrified sand dunes (on the right side of the picture below)!

Finally the scenery started to change…. here is Humboldt National Forest in the picture below! Lol, not an Easterner's idea of a forest huh?

At this point in today's travel I was exhausted and needed to sleep, I had been on the road since 6am (Pacific Time) and it was about 5pm. My awesome at-home navigator found a hotel (a La Quinta) in Ely, NV, so I booked a room, did some laundry and crashed for the night!
Tomorrow, Great Basin National Park, Utah, Colorado and my greatest amount of time driving so far! Good Night, All!

The beach, the fire, and Yosemite!

Once I got to the camp where I would be spending the next two nights, I was thankful that the "Yosemite Country Gold Lodge" had a tent, air mattress, and pillow set up and waiting for me (even though I used the air mattress, I opted for my own blankets and pillow), they even provided me with a lantern and wifi, to use during my time there. The first evening I spent there was mostly spent resting, trying to catch up on some sleep, and planning my trip to the beach the next morning.
Below is the camping area where I spent 2 nights. That little yellow and black tent in the foreground is exactly like the one I stayed in!

My first view of the Pacific! I was so excited to see it, it looks very different than the Atlantic!

Carmel River State Beach. What is known as a steep beach, it is known for rip tides and drownings, the Pacific Ocean is so cold here, I don't know why anyone would want to swim! It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!

My feet in the Pacific Ocean! So cold!
I have 2 videos that I wanted to insert here, but I'm not somewhere with good wifi, so I will include them in a set of pictures and videos at the end of this blog series. I hope you enjoy them!
Below are pictures from the Carmel River lagoon and nature preserve. I hiked one of the trails here but was facetiming with my family so I didn't take any pictures, it's a beautiful location and only about a football fields length from the beach!

Carmel was fantastic and a beautiful place to visit! I enjoyed every minute I was there. I drove on the famous and scenic highway 1 for a while and I see why it is used in so many movies, the scenes are captivating! I really wish I could have driven south a while near Big Sur, but an important bridge is out and a major landslide may keep that portion closed for up to 2 years!
After I left Carmel, I stopped at a restaurant called The Giant Artichoke for lunch, the name intrigued me and the fact that I've never really had artichoke, made me stop. This is a trip of firsts for me and self examination (which I'll get into later) so I wanted to try it!

My fire roasted artichoke! It was delicious, once I figured out how to eat it!

My ride back to my campsite was expected to be longish and familiar, however gps decided on another route for me and because of that I got to see what is being called the Detwiler fire almost from its beginning! This devastating forest fire has grown from what you will see in the next few pictures to have engulfed over 75,000 acres and destroyed more than 45 homes. At the time I write this, the campground I stayed at may no longer be there as the town of Coulterville was evacuated the day after I left and I haven't been able to find out any more since then!

This was my first real view of the smoke from the fire! This picture was taken approximately 20 minutes after the fire was reported. The next few pictures were taken over about 25 minutes time and show how quickly it grew! You can also see flames in a few if you enlarge your view.

This shot was taken along route 132. In the foreground is lake McClure, which I showed you yesterday as I drove in to Coulterville, that evening the fire burned all the way down to the shores of this popular and beautiful recreation area. I arrived back at the campground approximately 15 minutes after this picture was taken. The first thing I did was talk to the campground manager, Brandon, and asked him if he knew about the fire, he had heard, and whether or not we needed to worry at that point. Brandon told me that we would most likely be fine that night as it would take the fire a day or two to wind around the hills to Coulterville. But we could clearly see the smoke and the helicopters as they gathered water to drop on the fire. The last 3 pictures in this series are from the internet, they show the fire as it grows in the next day or two after I left there.

I spent my last night in Coulterville in a nervous sleep, but everything was fine and I got up early the next morning to head toward Yosemite and begin my travels back toward home! I have to admit, at this point I ways more than ready to head home, it had been over a week since I left and I was starting to get tired of 11, 12, and 13 hour driving days! I missed my family, my house and my cats, along with the familiarity of home!

As I drove up into the Sierra mountains out of Coulterville, I could see the smoke from the fire hanging in the valley.
Yosemite!!! Please put it on your bucket List! It is more than worth it!

My first look at Yosemite valley!

Once you get into the valley and step out of your car these are your first sights! Bridal veil falls are an incredible sight! But I discovered you could walk even closer to the falls! On the trail to the falls, you cross a bridge over the waters from the falls. Beautiful huh? Then I walked into an area of Redwoods! I've never seen such large trees before! Amazing! Then the falls as close as you can legally get, and some information about the restoration of the falls!

Once back in the car I continued a short distance to another pullover and walked a short distance to a viewing area where I could see Yosemite Falls! Much larger than Bridal Veil! The sound even from this distance was nearly deafening!

The creek in this picture and the one above show the water from Yosemite Falls. From this pullover I traveled the loop through the rest of Yosemite Valley and back on the road out. But Yosemite was not done with me yet, I headed east through the rest of the park and was met with views like these…
What? I was in Yosemite and no picture of the most famous landform? Oh no, my friends, I have shots of Half Dome, but not from the famous profile that everyone has..(which you can only see from the road on the approach to the valley) I have shots from the backside…and another formation not far from it.
This shot is from Olmsted Point. I thought, at this point that I really was done and there could be nothing better, but…

One of the most beautiful mountain lakes I've ever seen, plus a wetlands! And then…

Lehman Dome! Yep those are full grown trees up there! Now I knew I was not far from the exit from Yosemite at this point and I had seen lots of snow, but not done close to the road until the east entrance to the park…
Now, from what I understand this was the last day that clear pictures were able to be taken in the park as the smoke from the Detwiler fire made its way into the park the next day! I'm not even sure at this point if the park is still open or if the fire has found its way there, I know it was headed that way!
Ok that's all I can do tonight all, tomorrow, leaving California and heading home! Much to come! Thanks all!

And I am here!!!

Ok, when I last posted I was about to leave Colorado, but I can't just leave there without telling you about my last morning with Rosemary! As I was getting my things together, she called me to the kitchen and told me she was going to teach me how to make homemade tortillas in the tradition of her family! Excited is only a minor description of how I felt about that! I can not wait to get home and share it with my family! Breakfast burritos on my first morning home! Anyway, I drove south from Rosemary's home toward Santa Fe. They have the neatest bridges there!

From Santa Fe I got on route 40 west in Albuquerque, and almost immediately hit the painted desert regions. I remember this from the family trips out here and love the geologic features and colors of the high desert.

I drove through New Mexico, into Arizona, the first thing I remembered was meteor crater and our visit there! Meteor crater is in the middle of nowhere and so big that you can't believe it's there without notice! Then, near Flagstaff, I was once again flooded with memories from our visit to this region, I remember Sedona, AZ as being one of my favourite places in the world, but I pushed on, making my way to Kingman, AZ, where I would spend the night before entering California the next morning.

That upstairs room…210 was my bed for the night in Kingman.
The next morning, up early as I had done pretty much the whole trip! On the road by 7:00 am heading to California! My first view of the state was the Mojave desert area around Needles, CA.

The road goes ever on and on…… and yes that white dot in the picture is indeed the moon!

Along the desert I stopped at the Mojave National Preserve in Essex, CA. The temperature was 104 degrees and the rest stop was almost abandoned. But here are some things I saw there…
This is how they have to water the trees at the rest stop! They build moats and fill them up each day! Incredible!

Some things that can be seen in the desert, I only saw ground squirrels as I drove through, but they are cute!
Next, I drove through Newberry Springs and Ludlow. Ludlow was pretty flat with the occasional hill popped up. But Newberry Springs…that was the land of volcanoes! I had already passed through lava flows around Gallop, NM, but the Newberry Springs flows…

The volcano, long since extinct, must have been an incredible sight as it allowed the lava flows to cascade down its sides! Imagine the height this once active giant must have had before the hot spot that caused it moved on….
Finally! To Coulterville, CA my home for the next two nights! Lake McClure can be seen between the trees and through the guide rails in the following pictures.

Next instalment, I set up camp, go to the beach, witness a devastating forest fire from nearly its beginning and visit Yosemite! But that will be when I join you again, tomorrow!

Almost There! 

  Well hello again all! It has been a world of fun, long driving and brand new sites for me as I’ve continued my push to the pacific! Before I tell you where I am, let’s go back to talk about where I’ve been since I posted last…ok so last you heard from me I was heading out of Kansas City toward Colorado! Wow seems so long ago, I can’t believe I’ve only been on the road a week! Well, let’s see the pics along route 70 out of Kansas….

Topeka, Kansas

Who says Kansas is flat? This is the Flint Hills region of Kansas, about half way cross the state..

The Flint Hills of Kansas

Oh yea, Kansas is flat… At least the western side of the state is.

Kansas uses wind energy! Lots of it!
Yes we farm around the windmills in Kansas! Such a cool site!
And from 70 west, we turn south onto 40 at Oakley, Ks and see…

Mile after mile after mile of train…. not even sure what this one is pulling, but so many trains

From route 40, I turned more westward onto route 10 and eventually route 160 into Colorado! 

The foothills!
First view of the mountains! I promise they are in there!
And there they are!

I drove across a pass in the mountains, where I could not take any pictures because it was raining through the entire pass,  toward the San Luis valley and my friends home in Manassa, Co.

Day One with my wonderful friend Rose…. Great Sand Dunes National Park! 

The view from the flats below the dunes! It’s like a day at the beach, minus the waves!
The view from the flats looking up at the dunes. If you look closely you can see people at the top, that’s my goal!!!
The beginning of the climb! At this point I had only climbed about 250 feet above the flats, but remember I started at already around 8,000 ft in elevation! The thin air is tough on my Pennsylvania lungs!
My wonderful friend Rose who graciously opened her home and her life to me for two wonderful days and three terrific nights!
My goal peak!
The view of the valley from about 500 ft above the flats, we walked in our socks so we could dig our toes in better so we didn’t take three steps forward and two steps backward the entire time!
Also approximately 500 ft, looking back toward the flats and the parking area, which is hidden by the trees.
Around 550 ft and 2.5 miles from the flats.
The valley from around 675 ft. See that cloud, it made a lot of noise! But I need to reach the peek!
And success! A shot of the valley from the peak!

We literally ran down the dunes after I grabbed a couple of shots from the peak, we got to the car just in time for rain, and an angry thunderstorm that started a fire on the mountains above the campground. We ate orange slices and talked for a while then headed to dinner. At Rose’s recommendation, my first truly authentic Mexican enchiladas (that is other than Rose’s cooking, which is incredible I might add! Who knew chilli was a breakfast food, but my oh my is it good with eggs and homemade hash browns! 

Day Two…our goal was Taos, New Mexico but I got so much more than that! 

The model Earthship! If you’ve never heard of these, you need to look online! There is no home in the world that is more conservation minded than these!
Earthship constructions materials, among other repurposed materials like glass bottles, cans and and soda bottles!
An Earthship dorm! For the students at Earthship academy where people learn how to build Earthships!
My friend Rose reading about the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge!
From 1,500 ft above the canyon floor! The Rio Grande River looks small, but this is a whitewater Mecca!
Breathtaking and beautiful!
The bridge moves as trucks go over! It’s exhilarating!
Mission church in Taos Pueblo.
The people of the Taos Pueblo village are sweet , kind people! I met many and loved every moment I was there!
I met an incredible artist named Patrick and his puppy, whom the mother disowned, the puppies name is still to be determined as Patrick was planning to take him to his kids!
This picture and all of the following are from the Taos square. We just happened to get there on the evening that a band was playing in the gazebo in the middle of the square!
Rose loves to dance! Lol