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Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Nothing Easter-like today

  Easter Sunday March 31,2013 5:29 PM  Room 230 Comfort Inn and Suites Cumberland (LaVal), Md

Rainy, foggy day--nothing really visible so not a good picture day--even if it wasn't what we've seen many times before. No dressy clothes, no Church, no Easter bunny, no Easter dinner--crappy all in all. To top it off, snow and thick on the ground in both W. Va and Md. As we passed Weston, W. Va, I noticed that they have resumed tours of the old asylum there. It is an eerie place, wonder if they've cleaned it up at all. I could not go through it back in 2004--my skin just crawled and I felt threatened in isolated corners of the place. Also at the same time we realized that the car has accrued 100,000 miles since we acquired it in Tulsa at the demise of our Cobalt--when? Feb, 2009!

I slept between Clarksburg and Martinsburg, W Va--didn't sleep well last night.  Awake at 330 am and didn't fall back to sleep until 745 and then got up at 830.  Really tired tonight. Had a small steak, slaw and sweet potato fries for dinner. Was looking forward to lamb but no restaurants but steak houses around here. Outback has a terrific rack of lamb but no Outback here.

Nice room with whirlpool--that is one thing--this is whirlpool country!  We just don't get them in the West.

Looks as though Binghamton tomorrow night and then a quick stop at Barb's on Tues. Bill won't spend the night--says there is nothing for him to do. So I guess it is home on Tues. Not happy but what can I do?  Guess I'll just hibernate until Spring finally reaches Vermont. I've got to get out of that place!!!  Later KandB

Saturday, March 30, 2013

No More Rambling

Saturday March 30,2013 5:34 PM Room 115 Quality Inn Huntington, WV

WHY are we staying here again--this town is the pits!  But I forgot we were here before until I saw the awful strip with the Strip Club down the street. Gawd!

But we started out in Beria, Ky with its College that is totally tuition free and only admits low income students. What a beautiful campus in a really lovely town--with a huge Boone Tavern where you can only get 1 oz worth of booze!! Hilarious!  Doesn't bother me at all, but don't think Bill would last long here--lol

How do I do these things?  Got us out of town and almost immediately on a two lane road wide enough for one and in the backwoods where the locals drive these curves and hills at 100's of miles per hour on the wrong side of the road!  Good heavens, the gray road yesterday wasn't this bad. Scenery beautiful, cutting through the mountains of eastern Ky, if only I could relax enough to enjoy it. What I did enjoy were the quilt patterns on those structures I could capture on the run--some just not at the right angle to the road, others behind obstructions that I couldn't shoot around while moving. But those I caught are really nice.

After passing through Big Hill on rte 21 we veered off to 499, black to begin with, gray and then black once more on the map. The black portion rode along the boundary of the Blue Grass Army Depot, where they were grazing quite a few cows and later, they were cultivating the fields. Good to see the Army is trying to make the best use of its land during this sequester. Soon we turned away from the depot and lost the yellow lines in the middle of the road but retained the white edge lines. When we became gray on the map, gone were the white lines and hairy became the drive. Bill, of course, wants to still drive 50 even though he doesn't know the roads--he therefore cannot relax when we meet an oncoming car and he has to reluctantly drive at 35-40, which sometimes seems to fast for me even then. LOL Promised myself that once we got back to civilization I would not choose such back roads again in Ky. It just isn't fun. So, once we reached Irvine and rte 52, I opted to take 89 to 82 and Clay City. They were still black roads--but shorter and through valleys to 460--a red road, a primary State road, which, to tell the truth, didn't seem any better than the secondary roads--lol

Wonder if they still have the Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Fest on the 3rd week-end in Sept in Morehead?? Surely, a very old sign, several trees back into the tree line--lol

Came to Frenchburg which had several old buildings on Old Campus Rd. Now, that would seem to indicate the presence of an old campus and the buildings certainly looked like those of an old institution of some type. But,not a historical sign in sight and no info on Google. So, a mystery! Nice building for the county seat but a run down place with no mention of its history. Emailed the mayor's office to ask about the strange buildings--we'll see if I get an answer.

Around Wellington we came to a huge gorge on the left side of the road and then to a pull off for Broke Leg Falls. Bill was going to go down the descending road into the gorge but it seemed eerie to me and then we began to really absorb our surroundings. The trees looked really strange all blown in one direction and then we noticed the ones lying down strangely. We could hear the water but not see it--there seemed to be too much debris. Then we decided a tornado must have gone through the gorge. Here is the gorge before:


and after


On into Ezel and the Kentucky cowboy and a Church that isn't Baptist!

And then into West Liberty!  490 winds and turns through the hills and, if you look at the map, West Liberty is on a direct eastern line with Broke Leg Falls and it doesn't take much to realize that the same tornado tore right through the downtown. I looked it up and the devastation happened on Mar 2 of last year.  We were on a ferry going across Mobile Bay on our way west. But my notes for Mar 3 talks about the devastating tornadoes that had ripped through Indiana, Illinois and Missouri the day before. Nothing about Kentucky but I said etc so I guess I knew about it. Here is a 6 minute video showing it happening. Don't think I could take such a video:


Headed north on Rt 7 out of West Liberty through very interesting strata.  We've been noticing coal deposits for a long time, but it looks like bituminous--soft and sulphur rich and dirty--not the best quality stuff. Also have been seeing pools and streams and rivers of a lovely milky blue or green, like light jade. Supposedly, this water is rich in CaCO 3 or limestone and that is what makes it such great water for bourbon--you know, the stuff that you can't get in most of these Ky counties--lol

As we passed through this last valley--with the dammed up Little Sandy forming Grayson Lake--we noticed lovely barns with painted murals on the sides. Guess artists will use whatever canvas is available. We soon came into Sandy Hook.

According to Wikipedia:  and the signs all along the road:

Sandy Hook is the hometown of country music singer Keith Whitley. A statue of Whitley playing his guitar can be seen in the local cemetery, and a local street was renamed "Keith Whitley Boulevard." Whitley is buried in the Spring Hill Cemetery in Nashville, Tennessee.
Sandy Hook is located in Elliott County, which is dry. Sandy Hook is also the location for the Little Sandy Correctional Complex, a medium security prison operated by the Kentucky Department of Corrections.


Another sad celebrity story. Bill said he was as popular as George Strait and probably a millionaire. I didn't remember him but then played a couple of his utube stuff and actually, I do.


Soon we arrived in Grayson where we picked up I 64,crossed the Big Sandy, entered West Virginia and rolled into the Quality Inn. Just as we did two years ago, we ordered Chinese in and it was good, but as usual we ordered too much--lol

Sated, with March Madness on the tube watching Marquette-Syracuse and Wichita St-Ohio St, another boring TV night. Think I'll watch something on Netflix. Bets called and is upset that we'll be home in two or three days without giving her more warning. How much of a pig sty did this kid make of our house?  But I could smack her--don't need her screaming at me.

She didn't want us home for Easter--said it doesn't mean that much to her--obviously, doesn't matter if it means that much to me--but she can just get her ass in gear and get ready for our arrival. Maybe she'll have to cut her visit to the Whitman's short tomorrow--too bad! 

Oh, well, will try not to let her ruin what has been a really nice trip. The rest of it will now be Interstates we've travelled before. It is just shoot home now, so I probably am finished with pictures and blogs for this year, unless something extraordinary happens. So, if this is the end, I'd like to say thanks for trailing along--it has been great having you with us. I'll let you know when the stage is leaving next year. Tootles, all! KandB

Friday, March 29, 2013

The First Rainy Day

Friday March 29,2013 5:45 EDT !!! Room 315 Comfort Inn and Suites Berea, Ky

Well, it is the first rainy day I can remember--think it rained in Fl on our way out. AND, we are back in the Eastern Time Zone, dammit--though maybe now I'll know what time it is from one day to the next--it was more of a problem this year than usual. Of course, the fact that Bill never adjusts the clock in his car and we kept crossing time zones and yes, daylight savings, no, daylight savings all contributed to my earlier than usual senility. But, I'm trying to be positive  here, so look at these challenges as things to overcome in an effort to forestall Alzheimers. Sigh :(

Left Owensboro, after reading a message from a former student who now lives in Ky and who refurbished a residence hall there. He recommended that we eat at the Moonlite--well, beatcha to it, Andy!  LOL Wished we were on the way to Bowling Green and Porky's as we made our road choice.

 Bill refused to take the car through a car wash and he said the rain would wash the OK red dust off. Not sure if it did, too tired to bother looking--we'll see tomorrow.

Sort of disagreement between pilot and navigator this morning. He wants to hit the nearest Interstate and I do not. Since I had the map, we did not but rather took back roads through terrific little towns and over hills and through farmed valleys. Lots of the burgs in this State are "villes"--Whitesville, Fordsville, etc and we took rte 54 through them all to Leitchfield. Thence rte 62, which paralleled the Western Ky Parkway which is similar to our Taconic Parkway but still too busy for my tastes. Hooked into 84 east at White Mills ( a black road on the map ) and followed it into Hodgenville, the birthplace of Lincoln. We'd been in the neighborhood in the past and I do love the rotary that isn't --just go around the square!

Continued, apprehensively, along 84 which now appeared as a gray road on the map.This designates a rural highway as opposed to a State secondary road. Didn't tell the pilot--figured he'd get it sooner or later. As it turns out it was simply beautiful--though not designated a scenic byway. The road was narrow and went around or over small hills but each perambulation brought us into a mountain surrounded bowl of a valley in which were scattered farms and their fields ready to be plowed or used for grazing. Truly rural and very pastoral.

At Lebanon, things improved roadwise, if not scenery wise. Here we picked up 68--a scenic byway-- into Perryville. We'd been here before--there is a Civil War Battlefield here and we explored it on a particularly cold and blustery day two years ago. Continued on 150 to Danville. Now, that town has more historical signs than I've seen in the whole rest of Ky. Impossible to stop in the busyness of the burg to see any of them. There is Constitutional Square and Centre College etc. Maybe someday we'll come this way and Bill won't be racing to the warmth or racing to home and we'll be able to explore.

Continued on 52 to Lancaster and then another back road to Beria, which lies against I 75  to Lexington.  It was fun to see all the quilt squares on barns along today's route. I think it is like the Underground Railroad--hey, lady, here is found another quilter!!! A comrade in needles.

St Mary's College was interesting especially since the Marion ( referring to the county) adjustment center appeared to be out in the area where the College was. That is a fancy name for a jail that houses 800+ inmates!  LOL


Another aspect of education in America is presented in the history of the Rosenfeld Schools.

Danville is an interesting place :  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danville,_Kentucky

Probably, the most notable thing about Lancaster, Ky is the Garrand Co Courthouse!! LOL

We didn't go out in Berea but instead opted for a Pizza Hut pizza delivery. It is a dry town ( many of the counties are also dry--the home of bourbon, right???) so rather than have Bill go through withdrawal I let him have my saved three bottles of Shock Top and I opened my second bottle of wine--Rex Goliath Merlot. I packed six bottles of wine but really haven't wanted to drink at all so never really touched it. Oh, well. Guess tonight is damned Basketball again and only one TV. Groan.

Haven't a clue where we are headed tomorrow but I'll think about it in the morning. Until tomorrow night--hugs from KandB

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring, At Last, in Kentucky

Thursday March 28,2013 5:50PM CDT Room 228 Sleep Inn Owensboro, Kentucky

What a beautiful, sunny Spring day, finally. 60 degrees, slightly breezy, sunny and cloudless with robins bobbin' all about and birdsong filling the air. Do I sound euphoric?  Trying not to think about what awaits us upon our return to what my friend, Joyce, calls 802-land!

Since I stayed up to watch Jimmy Fallon last night, I slept later than usual. Got the bills together and discovered that someone enjoyed a Chinese dinner in Middlebury on my dime while I was in Nachitoches, La==probably chatting with Sandy in the Country Music Museum. Being Chinese, the meal wasn't exceptionally expensive thank goodness and the credit card company gave me a credit immediately. All the rest being kosher, so to speak, I set up payments and can forget that for another month--sigh!

 Having my own room was truly luxury--no snoring etc and up as late as I wanted without worrying about noise or light annoying my better half. I love Sleep Inns best of all--art deco styling and terrifically large walk in showers. I think I spent a half hour in mine this morning. All in all we never got out until noon. Drove downtown to find the Blue Grass Museum--everything is under construction down there and couldn't find it. Besides, it is moving to a new location so probably wouldn't be terribly organized. Decided to skip it but found English Park, right on the Ohio River. Spent about an hour just enjoying the scene and the sun. My Irish heritage craves at least one dose of water experience a trip. Some day I'd love to take a Showboat on one of these wonderful rivers. Mom always wanted to take the Delta Queen and never made it. Hope I am luckier than she.

Then we went searching for BBQ---went 18 miles down a road that said the Moonlite BBQ was in that direction----I didn't think the Audubon Highway was the answer but the desk clerk told Bill that there were lots of restaurants that way---nope !  Crossed the Green River going West and turned around and crossed it again going East but at least there was a billboard giving the correct directions. So I got a small plate of ribs, slaw and beans, sweet tea and cherry cheesecake. Bill had the buffet and a beer. Though it didn't look like a lot of food when it came, I was stuffed when we left the restaurant.

The BBQ was okay, though supposedly, according to their brochure, they've been raved about by USA Today, Gourmet Mag--isn't that out of business, Southern Living, WSJ and Travelocity. I liked Porky's in Bowling Green last year, much better. This place is too uptown and into selling its rubs etc. Porky was just a shack with a guy over a big stove and picnic tables and the best BBQ and slaw I've ever had. But, again, the meal wasn't terribly expensive and it was good, just not great!

Stuffed to the gills we returned to our room and caught up on our newspapers from the last few days. Including the article about the Mo elementary school, where several teachers are now carrying concealed weapons. Supposedly in response to the Ct shooting. I guess they had many volunteers, used intense background checks and psych profiles to choose the teachers and then gave them in depth ONE WEEK of firearms training. Don't think I'd want to teach in a school where some of my peers were packing. Some parents are not pleased but according to the principal most are supportive of the move and he feels it is an excellent deterrent. To whom, I wonder. Most of these guys appear to be suicidal, except maybe Bozo the Clown in Colorado.

Oh, well, I cannot let myself worry about what my daughter may be walking into by entering the educational profession. For now, it is time for B-ball. Three Fl teams in the sweet 16. Wouldn't it be neat if Fl Gulf took it all? Later, all!  KandB

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Crossing Many Bridges!

Wednesday March 27,2013 7:08 pm Room 228 Sleep Inn Owensboro, Kentucky

Ah, today started with a laugh. Bill has a bumper sticker on the car that says " I miss Ike, hell, I even miss Harry".  A young guy, about twenty or so, asked him what the bumper sticker meant--LOL. Bill told him who the men were, including that Harry Truman was from Missouri. I think the kid's eyes glazed over so Bill said it just meant that he is a really old guy. LOL  I remember Ike and Harry--not really sure Bill does that well!!!

Then we got on the Interstate to go one exit to the road we wanted to take East and in the passing lane, facing us, with his headlights and colored lights flashing, a Statie rolling slowly backwards. We couldn't figure what was going on as we passed the guy but as we exited we saw the traffic in front of us stopping and a long line of trucks and cars backing up to our exit--we just made it--we would have been sitting there trying to get to the exit if we'd been just about two minutes later. Don't know what the problem was but were glad we lucked out.

As we headed toward our next exit that would lead us to the bridge from Bird Point to Cairo ( Kay-row) Illinois we saw the big flashing sign saying the bridge was closed until tomorrow so we stayed on I 57 and crossed over the Mississippi River that way. Then we took 51 south into Cairo. What a mess!  A section of beautiful mansions but for the most part broken down houses and flattened streets. A real dichotomy but obviously a very poor place---elegant houses and churches tooth by jowl to buildings that can only charitably be called shacks. Nowhere any evidence of Capone's affection for it.

South of town we came to the closed bridge we'd had to by-pass and immediately crossed a vintage bridge into Kentucky. These two bridges are the two mentioned in the article that says they contributed to the demise of the city.


We arrived at Wickliffe and decided to grab lunch and look at the map, since our only plan had been to get into Kentucky but had no idea where we were headed once we got there. Paducah was close but too close to stop in so we decided to head to Owensboro.
The Wagon Wheel was most interesting--the waitress was wearing a Christian t-shirt--the front proclaiming that He Gave His Life for You--the back affirming that this is The Promise. The specials board had at the bottom that " we are blessed to be able to serve you"  I just can't get used to this battering all over the country--not just the Baptist South. At least our mugs weren't from the local church as happened last year in Tennessee. I was the only woman in the place, except the two waitresses. Guess they could tell we were Yankees--God save us!

 After lunch we were headed to Owensboro but, first, we thought we'd check out the Wickliffe Mounds. The waitress said they are right next door and indeed they are. They are not open, however. The guy we met from Iowa back in Ponca City said the reason the South lost the war was because they are never open---No one is ever around on Sun or Mon--no one works beyond 330 on Thurs and surely not after 1 on Friday. He isn't far off.

When I saw Joliet and Marquette's menu I felt as though that might have been a better choice than my two bacon, one tomato slice, one thin leaf of iceberg on my BLT. I think I'd have skipped the bear grease though.

Anyway, off we went to run the back roads of Western Kentucky, after first noting that skateboards and skates are not allowed on the Wickcliffe Court House grounds--lol--probably, especially not during court proceedings. On through Barlow, La Center, Kevil and across the Tennessee vintage bridge, complete with very banged up guard rails that I tried to ignore.  The tugs and their  barges were working up and down the river.

Lots of farmland in the river valleys and horses, cows and even a couple of black sows and their adorable piglets. Then another bridge and we crossed the Cumberland. I really liked that bridge and also the bottom lands we entered then. This road follows one of the Trail of Tears trails--since there were several paths used to drive the Cherokee and others to Oklahoma by Jackson's orders. We also came across what was obviously the build up of tailings from a mine---looked just like the Bisbee Az mines--turned out to be a  rock quarry.

Arrived in Marion where we changed routes cutting more eastward before turning northerly once more. The Ohio River really determines the direction of these back roads, except for those obviously headed to river ports. There were many historical signs we could not stop for--either because of location or because I saw them too late to tell Bill to stop. This one for the Deanwood PO was on a huge curve with the sign almost in the middle of the road. So treacherous that I took the pictures without reading the sign until I had it on the computer.

Providence was an interesting town--up a steep hill to the main drag--with another crossing on the 90degree downward slope--and a miner statue standing in the middle of the crossroads! Interesting picture taking--missed the beautiful white marble Providence Bank on the side hill. Another change in route here--41A-and oil rigs tucked in among the trees. A small oil field in the area, obviously.

Into Dixon, and a scenic byway 132 to Sebree. Thought that the roads until now were pretty scenic--but who am I to judge?  I love the old barns and make up stories about the people who lived there and used them before they were left to collapse. Would have loved to have been at the Purple Opry on Sat--bet it is quite a good time--bluegrass music--banjos and fiddles--love it.

At Sebree one picks up 56 into Beech Grove and this one has a sign to say it is a scenic byway. 132 is only designated as such on the official Ky map! The consolidated school in Beech Grove looks like it has seen better days. After several miles of beautiful planted large fields we came over the rise into St Joseph/ Maple Mount and the Ursuline Sisters of St Joseph--The site is beautiful and all the brick buildings stand out on the brow of the hill looking like a Southern military school or a Catholic girls' school--to my discerning eyes. The Ursulines have always had as their mission the training and education of young women and there is a beautiful convent and school in New Orleans on Ursuline Street.


After passing through West Louisville--someone has a real sense of humor--we came to Owensboro and our rest for the night. Once more I asked for an upgrade and once more we have a two room suite with two baths. In this instance it is two bedrooms and I'm thinking of asking for it again tomorrow. There is a bluegrass music museum here and if it is open I'd love to see it. Also an art museum with a collection of old stained glass. Sounds beautiful. Since the wi fi is  good it would give me a chance to do the bill paying for April. So, I'll check the museum and we'll go from there. For now, if you look at the floor plan you will see we have the only suite in the motel!

Will let you all know tomorrow --for now, it is time for Modern Family so I'm off. Goodnight KandB

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Riding Through the Ozarks

Tuesday March 26,2013  Room 105 Comfort Inn and Suites Sikeston, Missouri 5:38 pm

Cold again this morning, only 30 degrees but sunny and the wind had died down, so didn't seem as awful as yesterday. After breakfast we headed South to Ozark, Mo, where our friend Jason was once a policeman. Not a bad little town--typical of Missouri but really small considering its proximity to Springfield. After getting gas we headed East on Rte 14---quite a curvy two lane road but a good road and never terribly high and when it was the drop was gradual into folded valleys so actually quite pretty and not at all terrifying. Lots of horses and cows and churches and stone houses. The ground is very rocky--not good soil for growing much of anything.

Missouri is the State that I call the alphabet state--all of its secondary roads are one or two letters, without any pattern that I can discern. Lots of water here,too. All of the creeks are doing quite well and there are many ponds and puddles and small lakes throughout the mountains. Initially, the elevation was great enough and the temperature low enough that there was still snow from Virgil and the melting water formed icicles on the rocks. As the day progressed, however, we were on the eastern slopes and the temperature had risen so that the snow disappeared and the water was  ice free though I bet those cows and horses had some nice cold water to drink!

It is not necessary to build roundabouts out here--just direct the road around the common as was done in Ava. It is actually nice to slow down--these guys drive like maniacs around the curves in these roads!  And there are VERY few straightaways in them--not even through towns. The drivers here make Mass. drivers look sedate and cautious in comparison. Naturally, when one navigates these curves one does not have to remain on one's own side of the road. Made the ride interesting in many ways.

The views were lovely and the unexpected old bridges and other sights were great fun. Loved coming into a little valley on the other side of one of the bridges and finding a small church, an amphitheatre and picnic area, an old building with a sign offering gas and diesel. Nothing else around but this was
Chapel Grove RV and Music Park. We could imagine it filled with people come summer singing and playing mountain music--I bet it is wonderful even if most of the music is probably Southern Baptist in origin.

At a rise farther down the road we saw a huge pasture with a gigantic herd of Angus spread over the hills covered with odd markings that we could not understand. Eventually, we came to the conclusion, after seeing other cows and calves lying on rows of straw and eating it, that in winter the farmer just takes the hay out and spreads it all over in no particular pattern so that the herd has feed. It sure looks funny when the grass greens up and the underlying snow is gone.

Another time we came upon the Mark Twain National Forest which actually is in about six areas of varying side throughout this part of Missouri. Our area was not particularly forested though it was quite large. As we drove along we started to see mileage signs and one place that did not show up on the map kept appearing on the signs--25mi, 20 mi, 15 mi--Bill said I wonder what this place is like that they rank it so high. Well, its name is Twin Bridges and there are two bridges and between them is one huge building that rents kayaks, canoes, rafts etc. That's it!  If ever there was " Deliverance " in the Ozarks, this would be the place. Isolated, out nowhere and nothing passing by. LOL

Eventually we did reach civilization once more, if for only a short time--West Plains. Huge plant of some sort on one side with very military looking vehicles and on the other side piles of oak--possibly flooring. High piles for several miles. Guess these are the two big employers in this town. We passed through and since rte 14 ended here we embarked on 160 East. According to the map, we were in for 99 miles with no real towns. I wanted to stop in Aldi's but since I only said, oh, there's Aldi's  ( a half hour after I'd said I wished we'd replaced our trisquits etc ) Bill drove right by. When I asked why--well, I didn't specifically say I wanted to stop. But he isn't passive aggressive at all--right!  I had some stuff to eat that he doesn't like--dates etc so I knew I wasn't going to starve. So, I didn't even react.

160 is not as curving as 14--nope--160 is like a roller coaster. Like the Saw Mill River Parkway--ups and downs so close that your stomach rises and tickles at each one. Wasn't sure I was going to make it! If you look at the two pix after the oak flooring piles you will notice that there is no oncoming car visible in the first but in the second it is coming over the rise. Look behind the car in both pix and you'll see they were taken very quickly in sequence. That's what we had for about 20 miles--one time we came over the rise and there before us was a slow moving tractor and no way to pass him. Another time we came over the rise and the road was making a sharp turn to the left--hair-raising. I don't know how these people drive along so fast. And I'm certain sure they don't drink and drive around here--no shrines to show a missed curve or anything.

Despite the indication on the map that the towns were, for the most part, a church and a house or a crossroads, Alton actually was pretty large as these things go. We found Chelsea Dale's Cafe and Bakery ( after passing by Grandmother's Cupboard,also open) and so in we went for some home cooking. Bill got the buffet special--lima beans, green beans and smothered steak ( hamburg with gravy--isn't that Salisbury Steak?) and a salad. I opted for a cheeseburger and slaw with sweet tea. It all smelled good and was delicious--for less than $20 with tip!! I got a brownie covered in chocolate icing for TV tonight, too! Sated and rested we crossed the road and continued on our way.

The warning signs for a hidden bridge had us wondering what to expect--it was just a run of the mill metal bridge just like those on our back roads. Did not let ourselves think about its fragility as we crossed it. The river that it spanned is called the Eleven Points River and it is quite long--it even flows into Arkansas and is designated a National Scenic River. Didn't go down to get a better look but it was very blue-green as we crossed and I wondered if there were limestone dissolved in it.



Soon we reached Poplar Bluff and the end of back roads--67 around the town, 60 east of it, were much like Interstates. Since they are not, they are called turnpikes. All character and flavor are erased but then one gets to see that a semi, which is swerving in front of you, ominously, is actually being TOWED! cab, trailer and all. I think I like curves and hills better.

Approaching Sikeston, our stop for the night, a sign for New Madrid reminded us both of the severe earthquakes that hit this area in 1811. We both taught our students about them in Earth Science classes. Though there were some deaths and certainly damage in the two towns in the area, they were relatively mild--primarily because of the lack of population and settlement of the area at the time. It would be a different story today, I'm afraid.



Within minutes we were checked into the Comfort Inn and Suites and another suite but this one less roomy than last night's. Wish there were two tv's tonight--since it is a good night for me but Bill won't be able to watch sports. Oh, well, he has tomorrow. LOL

He went out for Mexican but I'm still full from lunch plus I have my chocolate brownie and milk--that is a good enough dinner--protein, fat, carbs--it's all there. So, off I go to eat my homemade baked good--see you tomorrow. KandB

Monday, March 25, 2013

Moving Eastward

 Monday March 25,2013 6:55pm CDT  Room 140 Comfort Inn Springfield, Missouri

Arrived in Ponca City, Oklahoma on Friday March 22. Ate in Frazier's Sports Grill in the motel--funny sports grill--March Madness and they didn't have any of the games on--they had the news on. When guys asked for the games,the barmaid said they weren't coming on until 6 and Bill had been watching them in the room!  Then they put on only one game on all seven screens and it wasn't the Oklahoma teams much to a local guy's disgust--lol  Since we were tired and the weather was not promising we decided to stay an additional night. So I spent Saturday reading Letters from Wupatki, which are the ruins we saw north of Flagstaff. The author, who died in 2000, was the wife of the second custodian of the Wupatki Monument and at the time there were no buildings, other than the ruins there, so they lived in the old Indian ruins for several years. The book is okay but the description of the area read just shortly after being there was very interesting.

When we arose on Saturday the car was covered in snow and the weather was even worse--snow north and east, thunderstorms and possible tornadoes south and east, so we extended our stay for yet a third night. It was interesting to see our car covered in red dust once the snow melted. An inversion? The snow carried the dust out of the air?  Who knows? 

Anyway, today the sun came out, though the temperature was 30 degrees and the wind made it feel even colder. Nevertheless, we decided to leave the GeoKinetics and the Black Coal guys behind and head east. We were unable to visit Paul and Jean Gross in Corder, since it is a very busy week on the pig farm and the weather was terrible up there. The pigs were being shipped out today and then a crew was coming in to clean up the barns etc. Paul just wouldn't have a minute to visit and though school was already canceled for today, Jean would be going to school later in the week. So, all in all, the timing just simply wasn't right!

Oklahoma is divided among the five Nations of Native Americans and the first Nation we entered was the Osage. Pawhuska was a rather interesting town with many stone buildings and a Main Street lined with lovely old street lamps. I like that about some of these Western towns--the street lamps.  We continued on a narrow country road and enjoyed looking at all the cattle and horses. I'm always amazed when I see a horse lying so flat on the ground--I think the animal is dead--so flat and still.

We eventually reached Bartlesville--guess what its claim to fame is!  Phillips 66, Conoco-Phillips. The buildings, the streets ect --all Phillips in one way or another. Lots of money spent on the Performing Arts Center etc.

We took a brief side trip to Dewey,where the Tom Mix Museum is located. Well, closed for Jan and Feb and open only three days a week from 1-3 in March and today was not one of those days. Add it to the list of" I want to go back there again, some day".  Cute town, though and I forgot to take a picture of its centerpiece--The Dewey Hotel--opening in April and being painted as we speak.



As we continued along more narrow back roads it was evident that Saturday and early Sunday there was not only snow but a pretty strong north wind. Much of the snow melted in yesterday afternoon's sunshine but the tree trunks bore stripes of snow that were pounded onto them by the wind. I would imagine visibility was bad and the wind, even today, made handling the car a mental  and physical stress.  All in all, we felt our decision to remain three nights in Ponca City was the right one. Today's sky became ever more ominous as we traveled east and the temperature never rose above 35 degrees.

After passing through the Eastern Shawnee Nation we entered Missouri south of Joplin. We had stayed in Joplin a couple of times but have not been back since the terrible tornado that destroyed half of the city. The devastation is still quite evident four or so years later, though there are rows and rows of flimsy looking new houses in the area. We continued east on old Route 66. I didn't take pictures this time, having been in Carthage several times and really not wanting to document the multitudinous Bible quotes etc on billboards the entire way to Springfield.

After getting our room we headed out to Olive Garden and used Bill's last gift card from his friends in Price Chopper. Had a terrific dinner--Sausage and Pepper Rustico, salad, breadsticks, limoncello and coffee. Bill had salad, breadsticks and spaghetti with meat sauce and sausages. Very full.

Came back and discovered that Nicole, the desk clerk, had upgraded us to a two room, two bath suite. How nice that would have been in Ponca City!  As we pulled in for the night, it began spitting snow.

How depressing--I want to go back to Arizona. Our waiter at OG was nice and tanned. He'd been to Padre Island Texas for Spring Break--he, too,is depressed, coming home to snow. Oh, well, all things must end, I guess.

Just watched Bones, The Following is on now--think I'll skip it--too weird for me. But Castle comes on soon and I enjoy that. Think we'll head toward Kentucky tomorrow or maybe Branson, who knows. Until tomorrow--take care. KandB

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Letters from Wupatki by Courtney Reeder Jones, edited by Lisa Rappoport

We are on our winter trip to the Southwest and have been to Sunset Crater and Wupatki,north of Flagstaff, on our way to Tuba City,Kayenta and Monument Valley. I purchased this book at Wupatki National Monument. These are letters written by the wife of the second custodian of the Monument to friends and family during the "40's.  While it was interesting to read about the roads and surrounding area that I'd just seen, I was disappointed not to have a more in depth description of the Navajos with whom Corky and Davy lived. Actually, most of the letters are rather lacking in full depth--but they have been severely edited by Corky herself, I suspect, and further edited by Lisa Rappoport in order to fulfill her stated objective:" to convey the quality of Courtney's daily life in this unique situation." The unique situation being life in one of the ruins, Wupatki, found on the Monument. All this editing has created a rather unfullfilling reading experience. Everything is rather two dimensional and leads to lots of unanswered questions.

If you are looking for comparative descriptions of the past and present in this area--this book is perfect. If you want any kind of understanding of the humans involved in the story, I'd give this book a pass.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Finally, Oklahoma and Today

Friday March 22, 2013 Quality Inn Room 127 Ponca City, OK 10:38 PM CST

Ah, at last a really good night's sleep in a long time. Went to bed at 9:30 pm CST which meant 8:30 the way it has been in NM. Slept until 8:10 am CST with a couple of slight awakenings but not many. How many hours? Who knows, just know I woke refreshed and rested. Got on the road by 9:30 but must say it was a bit demoralizing to have to sit in the car and wait for the windshield to defrost. I don't want to deal with that but know that I will have to face snow and cold now that we are headed back--:(  I always hate when we leave NM--friends, warm weather, sunshine, wide open spaces. I get homesick for the Southwest but never for the Northeast--only for my daughter and my Misty. And my sister and nephew and aunt also.

As we traveled eastward it was interesting to notice the things that are so symbolic of Oklahoma: grain elevators, oil rigs, feed yards, cattle, fields for wheat as far as the eye can see--but then these are the symbols of all of the Midwest. And, of course, the windmills and empty deserted houses, too. Small towns without much in them, dry river beds--the Beaver and the Cimarron are shown on the map as such huge rivers and they are dry as a bone!  All of the trees, what few there are, are bent grotesquely toward the north--misshapen by the strong and ever present wind.

It was fun to come to Forgan--we have almost all the episodes of Hank the Cowdog--I love his voice. A teacher from OK who was in a class with Bill on entrepreneurship at Hilton Head many, many years ago told Bill and me and Betsy who was in grade school about the adventures of Hank the Cowdog--we became hooked. He's quite the character. And here was his home. Neat-o!

As we progressed farther east--for a minute the terrain changed and became almost interesting--hilly with eroded gullies and alcoves--could almost understand the lyrics to " The Oklahoma Hills Where I Was Born"  but it didn't last. Soon we were transversing the same old same flat landscape. I couldn't live here--flat, windy, desolate--nope and tornadoes?? UH,UH--not me.

There are so few trees here, except what have been planted as thick wind breaks, that old tires are used on fence posts to alert the hunter to posted land and inform the locals of upcoming events--Oklahoma billboards!  LOL

Loved the town called Jet--nothing there to speak of--and then at the east end of town--A JET!!!! How do these towns get these things?--I know old jets go into mothballs and sit and rot but how does one wind up in the middle of nowhere and where does the money come from to get it there, set it up and maintain it??? Crazy!

Beginning to see the PO cutbacks--in Nash the PO closed at 11:30 am and in the next town, where we mailed a letter at 2:30, we just made it, since they were closing at 3!  And this is Friday--guess Thetford with its FIVE PO's three miles apart each--cannot complain, huh?

By 4:30 we arrived in Ponca City--everything is here--a restaurant, laundry, coffee and cookies etc. Staying here tonight and maybe tomorrow. Met a guy in the lounge who is from Iowa--big oil boom going on here and he is selling rock to the drillers--not sure why but was interesting chatting with him about Iowa, March Madness, his experiences here. Then back to the room. Nothing on but March Madness so will head to bed and figure out tomorrow what we will do next. Motel is full up--not sure we'll get a room for tomorrow at all. We'll see--sleep tight KandB

Catching Up to Oklahoma Continued

Friday, March 22, 2013 10:10 PM Room 127 Quality Inn Ponca City, Oklahoma

When we got on the road in Las Vegas, New Mexico the clouds over the mountains to the West looked rather ominous but the skies to the East were sunny and clear. As we gassed up we saw a cowboy, spiffy in his well creased jeans, perfectly tailored shirt, impeccably blocked hat and pretty clean boots mount his American Van Lines semi and head off to the south.

We continued north to Springer and then east toward Clayton. Helicopters headed directly our way and I thought sure they'd blow us off the road as I took pictures--LOL  Not much for clouds but one formation looked like a sky jumper to me.Left the mountains behind as we traveled east towards Oklahoma and were surely on the plains once more. The iconic symbol of the whole Midwest is, for me, the windmill. ND, SD, Neb, Ks, OK, Iowa, even parts of Indiana and Illinois--flat, flat, flat!

There is a stretch of the Oklahoma panhandle that no State claimed in the original division of land among the territories and the Native Americans. This was No Man's Land and since there was no official governance it was a terrific place for outlaws and other desirables. It is part of OK now but is still called by its old name. And in that place we found a terrific maker of jerky. We got ourselves a pound of the stuff--half a pound hot, half a pound mild. All wonderful. Nice guy, too. Miss Kitty, the cat, was amusing herself by hanging out with a young boy on the bench on the porch in the sun. He petted her, she purred. Pretty nice arrangement!

On we went over the Plains to Guymon, where we stayed last year and to Eddie's Steakhouse, where Eddie himself is there to greet you. He sits at the head of the bar and is happy to chat. He is 77, been running the place for 32 years, loves golf , wants to retire but neither son wants anything to do with the business. One, an orthodontist, makes more in one year, according to Eddie, than Eddie has made in his lifetime--an exaggeration but the point is made. The other is in Real Estate in Dallas and doesn't want to come back to OK.  Oh, well.  The steaks are to die for--thick, tender,juicy and delicious. Who has room for sides or rolls?? Who wants to eat sides or rolls. And the beer is cheap. We'll miss him if he goes.  One can surely see we have a good time there. KandB

Catching Up From New Mexico to Oklahoma!

 Friday,March 22, 2013 5:56 pm Room 127 Quality Inn Ponca City, Oklahoma

Well, we are in colder climes now, folks and areas in which the wi fi once more gives me headaches. I was totally unable to get the computer to follow my mouse directions on link bars on Snapfish the night before last and last night in Guymon, Ok the computer wouldn't recognize the hotel's network at all so I could not connect to the Internet, though I was connected to the network. Gee, I wish I could figure out how to get these things to work--I can fix my car more easily, I swear.

Anyway, on March 20, whenever that was, Wednesday, I guess, We left Grants, New Mexico and headed Northeast to Las Vegas, New Mexico for the night. Having traveled I 40 between Gallup and Los something or other more times than I could count I refrained from taking pictures until we were approaching Albuquerque. Usually, we leave the Interstate and head down to Belen to see Gloria and Bud but this time we did not return. It is always hard to pass that turn-off since we have such a wonderful time there and eat like kings, since Gloria is a superb cook. But, reluctantly, we moved on--not that they aren't always glad to have us.

As we were driving through the worst possible traffic around the city--watching a semi move from the left lane to ours while a car was simultaneously moving from the right lane into ours--car swerved back first but the truck driver saw the car at the same time so he swerved into his own lane again, with a little snaking around for good measure. Just a joy to watch!  Anyway, Betsy called and I described the scene, not making her very happy at all. She may have a full time position at TA for the remainder of the year and is very excited.

Just past the city we picked up the Turquoise Trail. Gloria and Bud had recommended it and we looked forward to it though were a bit worried that it might be one boutique filled town after another. We were pleasantly surprised to find that it is truly a scenic route through about three very old mining towns, each with its own very distinct character.

Tierjas is basically the first town and we don't really go through it, though if we had wanted to scale Scandia Peak by gondola we would have seen more of it. Interestingly, there was a Statie at both entrance and exit of I 40 with lights flashing. Have no idea what that was all about!

The first town to which we came was Golden. Originally called San Francisco when NM became a State it was found that there were lots of San Francisco's and since this place was also founded because of the Gold discovered there, it was decided to rename it Golden. Not much left there, though there is the old Catholic Church, well gated and locked up, a few broken down places and a neat bohemian looking domicile surrounded by a bottle fence. I took lots of pix and close-ups since I've saved lots of colored wine bottles to make something that will catch the sunlight and this fence looks like the trick. Obviously, this artist tried a couple of approaches and didn't restrict him/herself to wine bottles--LOL  Like the strung bottles between top and bottom rails. Hope we can get it started this summer.

Continued along the top of our ridge and were thrilled by vistas as far as the eye could see--just beautiful. Eventually, we reached Madrid--this is the artist colony--boutiques, studios, galleries, an amusement park and an ancient ball field, the first in the State to have night-time lights!  I real place to explore but I needed my sister or Gloria or both--Bill just isn't the art colony prowler type. I could have made a day of it. Very bohemian--probably filled with old hippies --that's fun sometimes. Reminded me alot of Oatman, Az on Rt 66

So one we went to Cerrillos, a whole different kind of mining town--almost a Ghost Town -though quite a lovely Church. This town reminded me of Chloride, Az. Both Oatman and Chloride are outside Kingman. And like Santa Fe, Kingman is doing just fine, thank you.

Continued on to Santa Fe and resumed travel on I 25 until we reached the Glorieta exit and a turn down to the Pecos National Historical Park. As we were coming down the Turquoise Trail, Bill mentioned that the area had been full of Pueblos--he learned this from the Pueblo Revolt book he read. Sure enough, the NHP had the ruins of one such Pueblo and a fantastic museum about the evolution of the Anasazis and the Spanish influx, the Revolt, the Pioneers etc. One of my Mother's favorite actresses, Greer Garson, and her husband have been very influential in developing the museum and she narrates the film shown in the visitors' center.  A beautiful day for a walk around the ruins and since we were alone, also quite peaceful.

Then, we were back on I 25 once more to Las Vegas, where we ate at the Hilltop and then retired for the night. Nothing on TV so we finished the first season of Kevin Spacey's House of Cards on Netflix--all threads left hanging --waiting for season two to tie them up--or not!  LOL 

Time for a dinner break--will resume with yesterday and today's adventures shortly. KandB

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Giving Mesa Verde a Pass

March 19,2003 4:48 pm Room 119 Comfort Inn Grants, New Mexico

As you all know by now, I am terrified of height and hate deep drop offs or the apparent disappearance of a road that seems to fall off the face of the Earth.  Having looked up at the access road from the Visitors' Center yesterday and assessing the switchbacks visible from there, I decided that there was no way I wanted to go 22 miles up and worse 22 miles down before ever seeing any of the ruins on the ledges of this Mesa. Told Bill this morning that I just couldn't put myself through that torture but that I'd happily make myself comfortable with a book in the lovely VC and wait for him to explore this National Park. He said, no, he'd skip it.  Then I was wracked with guilt until he assured me that he'd seen plenty of Anasazi ruins, Sky City and Canyon de Chelley and wasn't feeling cheated. I probably should have gone up but don't think I'll miss it, especially since I bought a CD-Rom on which I'll see things that we would not have seen since one of the mesas was still winter off-limits.

So off we went back toward the Four Corners and into New Mexico once more. We continued on 491 rather than 160 and headed to Shiprock. The day was so overcast--cold--40 degrees and looked and felt like snow--that the rock looked like a ship in rough and foggy seas. Kind of neat. Then we turned East on 64 to Farmington. We had planned on going to Cuba and past Chaco Canyon, however, there is no easy way to Grants from there--all dirt roads--and we did not want to go as far as Bernalillo, near Albuquerque--too many miles. So, at Farmington we took 351 straight South to Thoreau and then I 40 to Grants. We've explored this area so much that it was hard to find a new route to travel but 351 is one. Rough, rough,rough--bounced all the way to Crown Point--hard to focus the camera and rough on shocks that are already a bit old, automotive as well as human.

Before getting on 351 we could see that we had high pressure today--when the plumes of smoke stacks flatten out and travel horizontally across the sky you know that it is. The downside is that you can also see how far the pollution from these stacks travel. Also, since breakfast at the EconoLodge was almost non-existent--coffee with powdered creamer--yuck!--we stopped at a local diner. Vernon was our cute Navajo waiter--the meal was huge and the coffee terrific. There was no way I could eat that short stack of two pancakes but I gave it the old college try. Wish I'd known how huge the serving was--I'd have asked for only one. I hate wasting food.

On 351, the first thing we saw were beautiful emerald green fields and others just starting to green up and others being prepared for planting. Just wonderful--Spring really is on its way, though not at home, apparently--you've gotten battered with yet another foot, I hear!

Once more, forms and topography unique to this area. and 106 miles of almost no habitation. Incredible how much open land there is in this country. Oh, yes, that reminds me--as I look at the fenced in cows--in Utah/Arizona there is, as you know, all open range. Richard says the cows are free so there are no mad cows in Arizona!  LOL

About 30 miles outside Crown Point we came to Lake Valley--the ground was like tan beach sand and it is obvious that there has been ,and maybe still is at times, a lake here.  Laughed as I saw the mileage sign 8 miles from Crown Point to see that the name had changed to Crow Point!! But I guess I am wrong to make it two words in either case.

Before too long, there it was--on the horizon--Mt Taylor. Full circle once more. Down and round through a Mesa pass, over the Continental Divide and into Thoreau we sailed. On to I 40 and arrived at Grants as my sister called to tell me that our cousin, Harry, has passed away. I'd gotten an email several days ago from his daughter saying he was in the hospital. I sent him and his wife a note just two days ago. I was afraid Annabelle would receive it and Harry would have died. So sad. Late 70's--too close in age--makes one nervous.

Mount Taylor looks a bit different than 10 or so days ago--less snowy. Decided to use the Comfort Inn instead of the Quality Inn this time--a bit of variety in a place that is almost as familiar as home. The laundry is done--so now, if I want to get back in time for NCIS, I'd better dress and head out for dinner. Hopefully, I'll have good wi fi tomorrow so I can tell you about the Turquoise Trail and up Santa Fe way. 'Til then take care and be safe those in the snow belt. KandB

Travelling In and Around Four States in One Day!

March 19 ( notes on Mar 18 ),2013 4:05 pm Comfort Inn Room 119 Grants, New Mexico

Got up early yesterday morning and went to check out and make sure that the Tour Company charge was billed to our room. May I say that though the Hampton Inn was nice enough and the meals at the Restaurant were delicious and plentiful and extra, I would not rave about them. The room was fairly small, over-heated and the A/C worked poorly. There was no refrigerator or microwave or a channel guide for a very limited selection of channels and the wi-fi was quite poor. On top of this the coordination of tour arrangement and billing was totally lacking and then I found that I was unable to obtain a receipt for my stay. Let us begin with the receipt--the desk clerk claims that Expedia has phished, is that the term?, the HI's website and logo so that when you hit the link for reservations you are taken to Expedia though nowhere is there any evidence of this. She claims that my reservation was made by Expedia and that she is unable to get into the system for a receipt. She further claims that this is a hacking situation and that the HI does not have an agreement with Expedia and that they charge less than Expedia does for the room. She says the whole hotel industry is up in arms that Expedia is allowed to do this and that there have been overbookings and problems with customers who arrive with a " reservation" only to find they have no room.Strange-when I checked in my reservation was in the system and I never used Expedia--certainly not knowingly. So, I'll have to wait and see what my credit card gets charged and hope I don't have to have a battle about it--with whom I don't know!  Bernie Sanders may hear from me soon!

In the meantime, though I made the reservation for the tour with Richard and we went on it, there was no evidence that my room had been charged for it. I insisted that they charge me since Richard said that is how it is done. I did get a receipt for that and hope I don't get billed twice. Never have I had such a horrible experience with a lack of communication among the desk clerks and the system with tour providers. But that is a worry for home.

Having gotten that straightened out, sort of, we had breakfast and finally hit the road at 11. We continued on rte 160 north toward the Four Corners. Almost immediately outside Kayenta we came across the Church Rock formation and a bit farther along the Baby Rocks, which do look like rank and file of infant upon infant. The road was, as all of them out here seem to be, filled with an ever changing vista. Turn a corner, the world has changed into another universe totally unlike what went before. At one point, we looked down into the Chinle Wash, filled with trees and green though the wash itself was not visibly moist.

I remember my parents mentioning Mexican Water and Mexican Hat--we didn't see Mexican Hat but I bet it wasn't much more than the two buildings that comprise Mexican Water!!

Eventually we reached the creatively named town of Red Mesa where the name of the school's teams are the Redskins--we found that very funny and ironic. Good-bye Dartmouth Indians--LOL

Arrived at the crossroads--Four Corners Monument--to be visited immediately--Cortez, our night's stop and Shiprock, on the route out tomorrow.  The Four Corners Monument is a hoot--Richard called us real tourists when I said we were going there. LOL  There was no way I was going down on all fours--either back or stomach up--I'd still be there!  So I aligned my heels and toes to cover all four States--my right toes are in Arizona, the heels in Utah--my left toes are in New Mexico, the heels in Colorado. Fun. Bill said his ass was big enough to cover four States so he sat on the cross hairs. Another guy jogged around the disc about five times and said he broke the record for covering four States in 60 seconds. The disc is surrounded by two arms of masonry in which small cubicles are located for Natives to sell souvenirs of all types. We stopped at the one right on the pathway--bought Bets two simple bracelets for $3 each and a silver charm for my bracelet for $10. Did NOT walk around browsing.

Continued on to Colorado and snow covered mountains. Entered the Mountain Ute Reservation, watched jet races across the sky as well as jets racing in opposite directions. Even entered into a race with a jet ourselves but he left us in his dust or contrail. Passed through monuments of different composition until we came to Ute Mountain--very interesting shape and covered with snow. At its base, a Casino, of course.  Very impressed by the talus littering every crevice in the mesas and wondered how many homes and people get hit by falling rock. At the Eye, Richard pointed out a rock that had not been there the day before. It was right next to my foot and was a good sized rock--would have done a job if it hit someone on the head.

Here at the outskirts of Cortez we began to see the first real signs of Spring--leaves and catkins breaking out on the trees and the ground a bit greener. Checked into the EconoLodge--not a favorite in the Choice chain but a bit better than their Rodeway. That being said, there was a fridge, microwave, a zillion channels, good wifi and a channel guide. For half the price of the Hampton Inn. A bigger room, too, though not as tastefully appointed. AND, the A/C and heat worked perfectly!  One never knows what you're going to get for the price--there is no consistency.

Drove up to Mesa Verde's new visitors' center--it opened last Fall. Very nice and very helpful ranger on duty. Picked up some info and other things--headed back to the motel and ordered in Pizza Hut and washed it down with Shock Top. Watched The Following, though I don't know why--it is sick,sick,sick. Then I watched a CSI--haven't watched that in a long, long while. Not too bad. Then to sleep for the exploration of Mesa Verde tomorrow, though the 22 mile entrance road has me a bit leery and scared.

A Majestic Landscape--Spiritual and Haunting

March 17, 2013 7:47 pm Hampton Inn Room 330 Kayenta, Az

Happy St Patrick's Day!  I wore the green of my Irish ancestors today but, so impressed with my surroundings, totally forgot to have a picture taken. Even Bill wore a green shirt, which surprised me but made me smile.

The motel is extremely hot and the window is jammed so it cannot be opened. The A/C barely makes a difference. As a result, neither of us slept very well last night. As a matter of fact, I got up at midnight, after having gone to bed at 10:30, and read until 1:30, when I fell asleep. Got up at 6:30, dressed quickly, ate breakfast and were on the road before 8.  Once we were riding toward the Valley and the sun was breaking through the heavy cloud cover, bringing the colors of the Earth to life, we forgot any fatigue we might feel.

Our tour began at The View Motel at 9. We were there by 8:15 so I had plenty of time to explore the grounds and lobby. Every room faces the Valley with a balcony and the Mittens are so close it feels as though you could touch them. I think I'll make this my extravagance if we ever return.

At 8:50 a short, stocky Navajo appeared and asked for Katherine--he introduced himself as Richard, our guide. Turns out we were the only two on the tour!!! A private tour is almost twice the cost of a group tour--so we lucked out!  We rode in a van, which was Bill's only complaint, since it inhibited his view as we rode. I, of course, had shotgun! Driving out into the Valley, Richard introduced himself in Navajo traditional manner and in the Navajo tongue, which he had to translate, of course. One begins by naming one's Mother's clan, since this is a maternal system of belonging, then his father's clan, followed by the clans of both of his grandparents--remembering that there are only two--his maternal grandmother's clan and his paternal grandmother's clan since that grandfather was now of her clan. He said both of his grandparents are of the same clan and that this is most unusual, since marriage among close relatives is not allowed and this idiosyncrasy has sometimes caused him problems.

Having chosen the first trip of the day, we experienced a wonderful change in color as we were introduced to the various forms and their names. I may have to upload the photos again to Snapfish, since I have labeled the names of the one's I could remember from the tour. Several worth mentioning are the Thunderbird Mesa which didn't record as well as I'd like, but the desert varnish or black coloration on the rock, seems to have formed the large figure of a Thunderbird on its face.

Another formation, which became my favorite, is the king on his throne. Showing his humor, Richard said that it is of him, King Richard!  Forever in my mind it will remain King Richard on his throne.

There is also The Hub since it looks like a wheel lying on the ground with its hub elevated above the spokes.

One of the first of the holes in the rocks we were shown was The Eye. It is found in a depressed area of the Valley where water gathers forming a huge lake when the rains come in Spring. Here, too, are the petroglyphs of mountain goats that are so mysterious and interesting and a small Anasazi home --actually, it just looks small--all of the surrounding forms are so huge they dwarf everything.

Another opening is called the Ear of the Wind. Reminds Richard of Elvis for some reason. I didn't see it, myself.

Probably the most memorable stop was the Big Hogan. A large domed formation into which we walked. I noticed Richard was carrying a back pack but just thought he didn't want to leave any valuables in the van. When we reached the back wall he told me and Bill to sit or lie on it and look up through the hole above us--a perfect window to the pure blue sky. We got comfortable and relaxed into the beauty when Richard began to chant--the acoustics were so perfect--his voice a rich baritone. All was silent but for this other worldly sound. As his voice died away, he began to play a Navajo flute. So haunting--so unexpected. I felt myself totally transported by the beauty and silence of the surroundings but for the lilt and chirp of the music. As the last notes died away, he brought us back by breaking into Amazing Grace, complete with the sound of chanter. It was though we had been meditating. It took a few minutes to resume normal breathing and thought. I could have stayed there forever.

Out we came and before  us, back lit, were the Three Sisters and The Totem Pole. Apparently, Clint Eastwood and Gene Hackman were photographed on the Totem. Since then,no one has been allowed to ascend that structure. No explanation given.

Then we came to the area known as John Ford's Point. This is the area that he most loved to shoot in his movies and is probably the mental image everyone in the whole world  carries around as the appearance of all of the American West--or at least those in the world who ever think about the American West.

Another formation is The Rooster.

Grey Whiskers is named for Richard's grandfather, Levy Black, a medicine man. He said when I wore my black Levis I would remember!

The conversation with Richard ranged from discussion of Navajo customs, the language ( similarities with Japanese language though not alot, hence the success of the Code Talkers),the system of government in the Navajo Nation and the presence of nepotism which is rampant, the education of the children ( BIA schools that did not challenge the kids,boarding schools in which the culture and customs and language of the Dine are taught and the consolidated State schools in which the kids are taught the same curriculum as none Dine) whether people live on the Valley (yes), which is a Tribal Park and is not part of the National Parks System, where various movies and some of the specific scenes in them were filmed, Richard's career as a computer systems developer in Mesa and his return home, etc, etc, etc. He also showed me how to better use my camera, since photography is a hobby of his, too. His taste in music--KISS--and movies. He is funny--as we approached a young woman dropped her camera--he said to us with a chuckle --that's a goner--then opened his window as we passed and asked her if the camera was for sale now! 

As our tour drew to a close Richard showed us a shot on his iPhone of the highway coming right into the Valley and its Monuments. He told us to head farther into Utah to mile marker 13 and take the shot.  He also told me that the Navajos call the rock that I think looks like a Basset Hound or a Bear, depending on the light, Dolly Parton. I said I hadn't seen that but probably was looking at a different part of the formation. Well, on the way back to Kayenta, I saw that at a certain angle it looks like the Owl Rock, that it is called, but certainly from another angle it DOES resemble Dolly!  LOL

Having reached the Kayenta end of the scenic route we retired to our room for a nap and then later in the evening went once more to the Reuben Heflin Restaurant and I had a lovely poached salmon with lemonade and Bill had the rosemary chicken I'd had the night before. Didn't think to photograph either meal but they were plentiful and delicious.

As a final note, for the linguists among you or the simply those with curiosity about an incredible historical footnote to WW II. As a student in grade school my Dad told me about the Navajo Code Talkers and their importance in the Pacific Theatre. It was only this year that I finally understood just exactly how the code worked.

A Navajo word was chosen for a particular letter of the English language. For example, for the letter "a", the word chosen might be "wolachee" meaning ant, or belasana meaning apple, or "tsenill" meaning axe.

So here is the possible string of Navajo words that could be transmitted and have as their meaning the word Navy. "tsah (needle) wol-la-chee ( ant ) ah-keh-di-glini ( victor ) tsah-ah-dzoh ( yucca) " Even if the Japanese listening in knew the meaning of these words, a sentence that says "needle ant victor yucca" wouldn't make a great deal of sense!  But the Navajo code talker getting this message would know to take the first letter of each English word and make a word and then a sentence from it. I took this example from the publication " Discover Beautiful Navajo".  This code became particularly important when an English speaking Japanese, and they had many, broke into our communications system and ordered an artillery assault on our men. There were Code Talkers among them and they transmitted a cease fire order letting our artillery know that they were attacking their own men.

You might want to check back on an earlier note in which I stated the years in which Native Americans received the right to vote. And we worry about the mistreatment of our former slaves, only. Sigh!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

An Easy Day to Kayenta and the Edge of Monument Valley

March 16, 2013 Room 330 Hampton Inn Kayenta,Az 4:41 Pm

Up around 8 and breakfast in the Hogan Restaurant. Couldn't take pictures very well, surrounded by Natives as we were. But the servings were huge--Bill ordered toast, home fries, easy over eggs and ham steak. The ham steak came on a different plate and was the size and thickness of a ham steak we buy for dinner for the three of us at home!  I had an English muffin, bacon,OJ and coffee--good and strong--best I've had so far. We decided not to tour at all today but to just drive the 73 miles or so to Kayenta and check out tours of Monument Valley for tomorrow. Passed through the mesa region of this huge Plateau on which all of this part of Arizona lies. When we arrived in Kayenta we checked in at the Hampton Inn and arranged for a tour --our room wasn't ready since it was before noon and check in is 4 PM The young lady was willing to contact housekeeping to get our room ready but we said,oh, no --we didn't expect to get our room now---we just wanted to scout out the area. Said we'd be back around 2ish and Estonia said she'd have it ready then.

Scheduled a tour for tomorrow and she faxed the info over to the Valley--well, the visitors' center which is 25 miles away--Kayenta is certainly in among the Monuments. LOL  Black Mesa across the road is snow covered but the sky was patchy with blue and the temperature around 70.  We took a drive through the center of the Tribal Park to the View Motel--which is super expensive but not noticeably more lux than ours and the views aren't that much better, though closer to the rocks.

Drove back and arrived by 2:30. Got our luggage up to the room and I got blogging, uploading pix and otherwise played catch up. Now, we will be headed out to the Reuben Heflin Restaurant here in the hotel. Tonight's special is chicken fried chicken--think I'll pass. Tomorrow is salmon, however and that is on my menu!  LOL  Just looked out the window--the distant sky is yellow and it is raining in the distance. Will try to capture it but not sure it will show up.

After dinner, we'll get an early sleep--our tour is at 9 am and we have about a 25 mi drive over.  We want to be on the road by 8 so we get there and get checked in etc with time to spare.

Today's pictures are pretty self explanatory and nothing exciting happened but for the French Canadians, Muslims of some country--not English speaking, and Poles or Czechs who were all totally obnoxious in the gift shop. I just found a corner to read and let them get out of there--though I did shock the Canadians by excusing myself in Quebecois in a annoyed  tone of voice--they were totally Pardoning all around...LOL

Will talk about the Code Talkers Code tomorrow. Til then, take care!  KandB

Driving To Tuba City and The Navajo Nation

March 16, 2013 Room 330 Hampton Inn Kayenta, Az 2:54 pm ( Back to the loss of an hour--I'm going crazy with this constant change--I haven't a clue what time it really is, anymore!)

This is a catch -up on yesterday's activities. The days have been so full lately, warm, oxygen deprived and active. As a result, I've been a bit tired at the end of them. Hopefully, with the slight respite we've planned for today and tomorrow, I'll be up to date after tomorrow.

At any rate, we slept in a bit yesterday and had a late breakfast just as the morning's train was departing for the rim. So, we became part of the professional waver contingent and sent them on their way. Bill had an freshly made omelet, but since I don't care for eggs I stuck with my bacon, muffin, OJ and coffee--I also found a small danish which I hate at breakfast and a wonderful spice muffin that I ate mid morning on our drive. While Bill got the car I zipped into the Depot Gift Shop to pick up the book Rails to Rim, which AR had recommended when I asked more info about the Miller's Wash accident. She said the author used to stand on the platform when the train arrived back from the Rim, about ten years ago, waving the book and saying " Only $10!".  Amazingly, it is still $9.99!

We stopped at the ATM once more where we came across a young man driving a eye-pleasing 1969 Chevy truck painted pale blue and white. Complimented the young man on it and he said he's been saving to do some more work on it. He said he had an '84 Chevy at home, too. I kind of chuckled to myself since I'm sure he considers them very old, as the young girl at Poncho's considered Midnight Runner " VERY old"!  It was made in 1988, about the time she was born. Wonder if she considers herself " VERY old"?  LOL

We took a last spin around Williams to take pictures of some of the old Rte 66 buildings and the statue of Old Bill Williams, the mountain man who settled the area. I love the Grand Canyon Hotel--rooms $3.50 and up. Indeed! Hop Sing Chinese Restaurant--who remembers Hop Sing????

After crossing the tracks and joining I 40 once more we have turned Eastward. Williams our most westward point on this trip. Once more the San Francisco Peaks--four peaks --fractured from one by violent volcanic activity. These ever present monumental mountains are one more of the four sacred mountains of the Navajo--the Dine as the prefer to be called--along with Mt Taylor. At Flagstaff we headed north toward Page. The road is closed above our turn off to Tuba City as the result of a large mud slide three days ago. After passing a rather curious accident and another interesting well protected tree--do you see what it is?--we came to the turnoff for Sunset Crater Volcano and Wupatki  National Monument.

We took the 34 mile loop through the two areas back to 89. At the start the road circles Sunset cinder cone and the various others that formed during this massive volcanic event about 1,000 years ago. ( Amy, did you take the sunset cruise to see the lava flow into the ocean in Hawaii? ) Here we transversed massive lava flows and cinder fields. Little can grow in this soil. The visitors' center had several pieces of lava in which there are fossils of ears of corn. It is thought that the Natives in the area tried to appease the gods with corn offerings. Bill has been reading the Pueblo Revolt and in that book it is told that the Indians from further south gave up their gods and adopted those of this northern region, since they seemed far more powerful.

This country is so unpredictable--turn a corner and the view totally changes. This area was no different--after descending through an incredibly large lava area we took a turn and there laid out before us--The Painted Desert! As we drew nearer we entered the Wupatki portion of the loop. Here dwelled the Dine in stone houses that are now in ruins. The story told in the Visitors' center of their removal from this area breaks my heart. We are so superior about Hitler and Mussolini and their persecution of the Jews etc and our own history teems with the destruction of the culture and homes of our Native People. I won't even go into the eugenics movement at UVM that sterilized Abneki females considered to be simple minded or the syphilis testing on the black people of Tuskegee. Hitler had nothing on us--his horror was masses destroyed at one stroke--we did it more slowly, fewer at a time. Hateful! Not much taught about these things in our schools---but we are all aware of the treatment of our Black Americans--even a holiday for MLK--where is a National holiday to commemorate these people? Look at the dates on the removal of them from their native homes and the reasons why they were forced across the Little Colorado and then note the ranch run by the Bobbitt Bros and its location. Ah, white and monied, the Bobbitt's. I get really upset about the treatment of these people--but I'll get off the soap box now.

When I was in Yuma several years ago, you may remember that a lady at the old territorial penitentiary recommended a book called Vanishing Arizona by a Boston lady who married a cavalry officer and was stationed in Yuma in the late 19th-early 20th C. I loved the book and here, I found another of similar ilk. This is by the wife of the second NP ranger to be stationed here in the '40's. His name, Davy Jones and he was single when he arrived. He sent Corky a sketch of the floor plan of the Wupatki building, the second floor of which was his quarters, along with a marriage proposal. She accepted and came to live here with him for many years. The young ranger who checked me out now lives in the Ranger quarters next to the ruins. I said she should write a book about current conditions and she laughed and said that amazingly, it really hadn't changed all that much. Now, I really can't wait to read the book! After passing several more ruins we were back to Rte 89 and on our way to Cameron, the first town on the Navajo Nation.

After Cameron we found ourselves in the Painted Desert--I was amazed to discover just how much territory this desert covers.  160 is the Tuba City cut over and this also is the detour to Page, hence the influx of traffic. After ten more miles through the PD we arrived at out destination--Tuba City, Az

I stayed in while Bill went to dinner at the Hogan Restaurant. Opened the first of the six bottles of wine I'd packed in Vt and had a glass with cheese and apple slices for dinner. Followed by an O Henry. Totally fit my needs and mood. A little Hawaii Five-0 and Blue Bloods and I was ready for bed!!!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Choo-Choo to the Canyon

March 15, 2013 5:15 pm Room 102 Quality Inn Tuba City, Az ( The Navajo Nation )

So, more rested, I will catch you all up on yesterday's busy adventure!  Up at 7:30 and at the Cafe for breakfast by 8 am. Waitress immediately came for our drink order--coffee and OJ for us both--and then we went to the buffet. Extensive as the evening before, but again, since it was the first breakfast in the refurbished cafe there were a couple of glitches--the bacon was overcooked and clumped together, though tasty. That was the only one that had any impact on us. As we left the cafe to go to the depot we heard the Coke man on his cell phone telling someone that they ran out of butter, bacon, OJ and coffee!  Oh, dear, for some other guests. Our breakfast was good and plentiful.

While eating the tables around us filled with KIDS! One table, definitely the nerds, another, little girls very grown up and obviously not impressed by the ruffian boys at the next table,and yet another of the cheerleader types with a mother-type parent chaperone playing best friend. Bill guessed 6th grade, I guessed 7th and when I asked the girls it turns out he was correct but they did say the boys acted like 3rd graders--LOL  I must say there was one boy--looked like Cliff Fahey, acted like Cliff did years ago and I was tempted to give him a call to see if he sent a son out West for Spring break. Those of you who don't know Cliff---he's one of Bill's Ag kids--a good kid but rambunctious to say the least. Grew up to be a great guy --we taught him and all his brothers--the Fabulous Fahey Boys!  Good kids! I did say to Bill that I hoped the pseudo-Cliff wasn't in our car but of course....

At the depot we were greeted by Marshall Tucker--really, he even waited a beat and then said, get it out of your system now--so we laughed. He is retired Navy--20 yrs--lived 30yrs in San Diego. We met a couple while chatting with Tucker--from Northern Ca. The guy born in Germany--around our age--he and Bill talked baseball and hockey. His wife and I just basked in the morning sun. Marshall Tucker urged us to walk down the station to see the Wild West Show and  Shoot-Out. We opted not--besides I've been to the OK Corral--nothing could top that!  LOL

Before long we heard the whistle as our train came across the road from the train yard ready for boarding.  I took several pictures of the logo because I want to duplicate it on the train ride layout in my photo album. Each car has a Personal Service Aide or PSA and ours was Amber Rose--a jolly young blond originally from Las Vegas. Each of them is dressed in black trousers or skirt, white shirt, black vest, black tie and white gloves--very classy.

After boarding Marshall Tucker passed through the train to welcome us once more and then Amber Rose gave us some info about the train and do's and don't's,  water and rest room location etc. Then the engineer came on the intercom to welcome us and repeat some of the same info. By this time we'd passed out of the depot area and everyone from the Cafe and on the platform waved us off--as we passed through the train yard the workers all stopped what they were doing and waved. We were urged to return the favor for, in Amber Rose's words-it is tough to get professional wavers at minimum  wage.

Amber Rose talked almost incessantly though on occasion an entertainer would arrive. The first was a banjo player who was quite good and had a clear rich baritone voice. Sang railroad songs and played a number of traditional banjo tunes before passing through to the next car. Amber Rose continued with jokes and info about the various activities and areas at the Canyon, where to get lunch, where the buses would be for those of us taking a bus tour etc, etc. With all the activity and a chat with the young couple sitting in front of us about Antelope Canyon near Page, Az, the 65 mile, 2 1/2 hour ride was soon over. But, the enjoyment of the scenery was seriously compromised. And, in addition, pseudo-Cliff and his classmates were in the back of our car, giving Amber Rose palpitations at times and chanting Christian chants at others. Fortunately, I was looking at pictures of Antelope Canyon and so missed the chants. I find things like that so offensive. Pray if you'd like but do it in silence, please. At least in public!

At any rate, we were now at the old Grand Canyon Depot and out bus was waiting. Out we went for 1 1/2 hours. They took us to two locations along the South Rim and we had 25 minutes at each one. Bill walked all around but I opted to stay near the buses and met a lady, Anita, from Cape Breton who did the same. She, apparently, had almost taken a header into a gorge in South Africa and her hand and arm hitting a boulder was all that saved her from falling to the bottom. She was bruised and cut all along her right side. She developed a true respect for canyons ever after. Bill and I chatted with her, her husband Joe, her friend, Peg and her husband, Harry, at each of the stops. We talked Cape Breton music and musicians, Scottsdale where the four of them go each winter and the Grapefruit League, which Bill and I have often said we'd like to explore, and smoking--LOL  Quite the gamut. Nice people and we really enjoyed them.

The Canyon, was, of course, the star. Bill was glad to have seen it but found it too big, too deep( he isn't fond of height either) and too crowded. He said he wouldn't come back and I don't think I would either. It is far too commercialized and crowded. It is Spring break also so there were lots of kids of all ages which can be quite stressful with the broad range of parental and chaperonal attitudes in regard to appropriate child behavior and latitude in acceptable impositions on other members of the public.

The bus returned us to the historic depot--and I cannot believe I didn't take a picture of it--and we then had to climb 48  steps and intervening ramps to the height of the rim.... I took my time but it was warm --77 degrees and the altitude was giving me a bit of a breathing problem--so when we reached the top I was very dry and warm. We found a nice bench on the porch of El Tovar, the original Fred Harvey hotel, got a Gatorade and rested. I was content to sit there for the hour we had remaining. Bill walked over to the visitor center and stamped my National Parks Passport--right next to the one from Oct 17, 2000 when I'd been here with my sister. I went into the El Tovar gift shop and picked up a book about the Harvey Girls with stories from some of them and another book about ALL of the known fatalities at the Canyon. I read Death in Yellowstone and figured since I probably wouldn't return here, that I could read them now. While waiting for Bill to return I started the Harvey Girls and could imagine myself sitting on this wide, cool porch at the turn of the 20th century, fleeing the heat and enjoying a book.

When Bill returned we realized that we were sitting next to the couple we'd met in the early morning--the fellow from Germany. They come to the Canyon several times a year--they've seen it at all times of day and at different seasons and just love it. I suppose, if I lived closer I'd do that, too. It is majestic. I know when I was here in the Fall it was far less crowded.  Soon, it was time to head back down the ramps and steps to the depot below. We bid our California friends adieu and ambled downhill, always a much easier direction. And who should we encounter arriving on a shuttle cart but our Cape Breton friends. Anita said she'd seen me making my way up the hill earlier and Harry said the shuttle was only a call away--apparently there is a phone in the depot and they will take you up --how you get them for down I don't know. While I sort of envied them their observational skills, I was glad I'd used Shank's Mare--there was a sense of satisfaction in that--LOL

Before you know it the call for boarding was heard and we parted ways, we to car C and they to one of the dome cars. The kids from Christian Academy were staying at the Canyon as were several others who'd ridden up with us and though we picked up a couple of returnees from the night before's stay the car was half empty. So Bill and I moved to the back of the car, where it was a bit quieter and took seats with large viewing windows and so had a more peaceful return trip and one during which we could look out the window more.

Eventually, Ramblin' Rose, with incredible electric blue eyes, Paul Newman eyes, arrived with her accordion. She had a lovely soprano and serenaded us with You Are My Sunshine, I've Been Workin' on the Railroad, etc and we happily sang along.

Amber Rose was busy chatting away and so missed a long trailer like building without a roof, but when she saw it out of the corner of her eye, she remembered to tell us its history-seems it was an extension of the hotel and was used to house guys working on the track or staff who wanted to stay out in the wilds. When the new people bought the property they decided they didn't need the buildings anymore and so tore them all down because, though not used, they still would be required to pay taxes on them. It wasn't until almost all were destroyed that they were told if they just removed the roof so the building was unusable there would be no tax!  By then, this was the only one of the wooden structures left but there was one of the oldest, made of stone still around so they got rid of the roof and left it.

We then came to Miller's Wash, the site of the only accident on the line. Seems there had been a horrible storm with ice, hail, rain etc and the fireman on the train was worried that the trestle in the wash--the tracks ran right down the middle of it ( brown cinders show the original track bed )---might be a bit weakened. He told the engineer to go down to the lowest possible speed, 25 mph, even so the trestle gave out, the engine and another car folded in on each other, the fireman was between them and was severely scalded by steam. A couple of guys hoofed it the 35 miles into Williams to get help but by the time they returned Fred had died. The tracks were rebuilt five feet higher above the wash but in memory of Fred the trains still go at 25 mph through the wash.

Amber Rose also pointed out the telegraph line running alongside the train--I'd commented to Bill about it on the way up to the Canyon. For the most part the line is intact but in places where the wire and the insulators were easily accessible they have been stolen. Discussion of the loss of the copper wire led to the 5C's of Arizona:Copper, cattle, cotton, citrus and climate. These were considered to be the big economic draws of Arizona when it was applying for Statehood. Cotton? Citrus?  Not what I'd think about in relation to the State--but copper, cattle, climate--yeah, those I can see.  Amber Rose said Cowboy doesn't cut it is you mean horse and hat. More likely pick-up truck or ATV than a horse and a baseball cap rather than a ten gallon. Oh, the romance of the Wild West, shot to hell!  LOL


I had noticed an interesting formation on the way up and now AR pointed out the sleeping Indian, who she felt looked remarkably like Jay Leno. The girl just doesn't show the proper deference for these traditional things. LOL  Around five o'clock, about half an hour out from the station, there appeared to our East several dangerous looking horseman. One of the little girls on the train yelled out:  Cowboys!  And there it was, the last of the entertainment for the trip-- a train robbery. Four desperadoes--once more AR's humor: little girl "Don't stop the train!"  AR: " We have to, honey, these guys aren't paid enough to jump onto a moving one!"

As we started moving once more, one of the robbers was left behind with the horses.  AR--don't worry--he will drive that truck and horse trailer hidden behind that bush over there and probably beat us back to the station!  Anyway,in they came. Bill told them I had all the money--the guy told him to man up and get himself a job. I said I'd hidden the dough and the guy told me:  Good woman! 

Johnny come lately, Marshall Tucker showed up after they had left the train ( hidden out in the closed club car--LOL ).  He said they'd been the Wit Brothers--Half, Dim and Nit. Old joke, brought a chuckle.

So, as the shadows grew long, the official wavers appeared once more to welcome us home, we departed the train, watched Marshall Tucker walk off into the sunset and headed to dinner.  This evening's main meat--roast pork with rum berry sauce. It was very good and there were other things: I took a small spoon of beef stroganoff which was delicious, too. I don't know if I made it clear last night but the buffet is all you can eat. I really made an effort to eat a regular meal of starch, protein and veggies and not to take some of everything. And rather than have seconds I opted for dessert which I don't usually bother with, either out or at home. I'm more likely to have cake and coffee as a snack or treat with guests than to eat it at a meal. The carrot cake, here, was just terrific. Bill wanted a replay of his pumpkin pie but tonight they didn't have it--so he got his first choice from last night, cheese cake.

After that--home to our room. No blog--too tired. But it was also a wonderful CBS night--Big Bang, Person of Interest and Elementary--so it was easy to veg, though I struggled to stay up for the end of Elementary, which was 10 pm. Was out like a light the minute my head hit the pillow, let me tell you.

So, would we do this Grand Canyon Railway package again?  Yes, for the train, although this American need for constant entertainment is not pleasant for us. I find it difficult to understand why kids have to be constantly amused--the train, the scenery and the Canyon should be entertainment enough. The young couple in front of us certainly used only those things to keep their young daughter's interest as did the couple across the aisle. I like quiet and AR's chatter became irritating though she was a terrific girl and took time with each group individually which was nice.

No, for the bus, Walking up to the rim and along the rim at the depot would have been totally sufficient and more enjoyable for viewing the Canyon.

Stay at the Hotel in Williams, definitely. The room was private, large and inviting though the TV reception wasn't the best. The lounge looked very inviting and Bill did have a beer when we got back to the hotel from dinner. The meals in the Cafe were wonderful--plentiful with anything imaginable, the drinks are extra, but we didn't want anything the first evening and last night's beer and wine cost about $10 which included tax--very high in AZ, BTW.

The gift shops are small and varied in merchandise and as souvenirs go--not as souvenir-y as most--quality and not an arm and a leg. I didn't buy much--mostly books, but that was primarily because I don't need jewelry, pottery, sweatshirts, toys or Christmas ornaments--have tons of them already and did buy things when I was here the first time.

Bill was more disturbed by the constant entertainment than I and he really wasn't crazy about the Canyon--glad he saw it--doesn't care to come back. Don't get me wrong--we had a great time and don't regret it--but it is now in the been there, done that column.

Now, to today's fun--next installment coming up. Time for a commercial break!! LOL  KandB

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ruth Can Just Stop Laughing Right Now!!! LOL

March 13, 2013 6:54 PM Grand Canyon Railway Hotel Room 2378 Williams, Az

Got up around 7 and took our time reorganizing luggage so as not to have to take too much into the Hotel tonight or leave much in the room tomorrow while we ride the rails. Yet, even lingering, we were on the road by 9:45 on a sunny, 50 degree day. Headed back toward Flagstaff in order to pick up 82A which appeared to be a scenic route to Sedona. Scenic it was--at least that part that I saw. We started out at 6000 ft. I should have realized the road might be a bit iffy--there were signs denying trucks longer than 15 ft using it--but I just figured it would be narrow and twisty. What I didn't think about was HEIGHT---so I did it again--chose a path that scared the s**t out of me and contained wide open vistas, pictures of which I did not take since I would not look at them--LOL  Ruth, you knew and you didn't warn me!!!!!

But, I must say, that part of the trip which I did see was magnificent. The colors of the red rocks and the formations are unbelieveable. While Bill used the rest room at the Indian Garden I started playing with the modes on my camera and discovered that these colorful rocks photograph best using the sunset mode. I wish I'd discovered that before. I didn't time the descent but we went from a high of 6000ft and a temperature of 58 degrees to a low of 4000 ft at Sedona and 77 degrees. Just beautiful. We did not stop in Sedona--crazy crowded and filled with all kinds of gift shops. That wasn't my interest--I wanted to see the red rocks and red buildings that people have told me about and we did see that. We stopped in Oak Creek Village which is probably considered a part of Sedona. After an okay Taco Salad and a BLTA for Bill we cruised through the five or six roundabouts that allowed us to head south on 179 to I 17 and back to Flagstaff. No way did I want to go back up Oak Creek Canyon--been there, done that. Probably easier going up but nope--drop offs would have been on my side.

I 17 ascended back to 7000 ft but in much wider curves on a much wider road, with the lanes for opposite travel well away from us. In one half hour we ascended 1000ft and lost 10 degrees. Back to snow and pine trees after red rocks, bare ground, prickly pear cactus. Connected with I 40 and over the Arizona divide to Williams. We were back too early to check into the hotel so we stopped at Poncho McGillicuddy's and had a couple of mugs of Grand Canyon beer--brewed right here in Williams. Apparently, if that end of the bar looks familiar to you, it is not unusual--Robert DeNiro was right there filming Midnight Run. Not sure I've seen that movie but will check it out.

Came over to the hotel and checked in by 4....then to the Depot to pick up our dinner, breakfast vouchers, train tickets and bus tour tickets. Then to the Cafe for dinner. They had just opened their doors and everyone including the general manager greeted us like royalty--LOL  Apparently, even the ticketmaster wasn't sure if the Cafe or the Saloon in the Hotel was the dinner venue. They had their final inspection after refurbishment a half hour before we arrived. Guess they passed with flying colors. We got the first cuts off the roast beef --there was a true smorgasbord of delectable looking food. I opted for a few roast potatoes, green beans and two slices of very lean roast beef. Bill had several veggies, a salad. We could have added pasta, soup, chicken and other things I didn't even check out. Our drinks were served at the table as was coffee and desert. Alcoholic beverages are extra and are paid for as you enter the cafe. We didn't want anything alcoholic with dinner tonight. I asked our server, Sandy, what the practice is for gratuities--she was very appreciative that I asked--said leave whatever you would like on the table. I had carrot cake for desert, with iced tea, Bill had pumpkin pie since they didn't have cheesecake for whatever reason--but for just setting up, things were remarkably smooth and organized.

I stopped in the gift shop since I felt when the return train from the Canyon arrived it would be a zoo and trying to do it before breakfast when we need to make a train or when we return from the Canyon with a mob scene would be very hard. Again, I was the second customer. One register was having problems with credit cards--not using one but the gal in front of me was and had tons of stuff. The other register had a hard drive die. So even though there was one group of about six people, only one purchasing ( they were all buyers for Xeterra which runs the concession ), it took a good half hour to purchase a shot glass,a spoon and two post cards. But, having gotten fed, checked in for tomorrow and ready for rest and TV it didn't matter. Actually, fun to chat with them.

Got a cart,the luggage and arrived at our lovely room--it will take an hour to find my way back to the lobby but we are safely ensconsed and quite happy with our day. Looking forward to tomorrow and its multi-adventures. Until we return--sweet dreams, all!  KandB

PS Apparently, spell check isn't working on blogger tonight, so forgive any typos tonight--too tired to edit. K