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Friday, February 28, 2014

Our Lady of Guadalupe and Georgia O’Keeffe

Friday February 28,2014 Quality Inn Santa Fe, New Mexico 5:03 PM MST  Suite 108

Boy, oh Boy, did the wind howl last night!  Some rain and the far mountains this morning showed there was a bit of snow, too. Today was beautiful, however, starting with temps in the 50’s and warming up to the 60’s by noon. Had done my nails last night and was pleased to see they needed just a bit of refining around the edges but the colors perfect for the Southwest—a bit of terra cotta with some spring green.

We have many things we’d like to see in Santa Fe, Holy Faith, but among altitude, hot sun without many clouds and age, we are going to not overdo. Today we chose two of the places, close to each other and both time consuming with walking. So after breakfast we started out to the Sanctuaria ( Shrine ) of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I remember receiving a holy card of  this incarnation of Mary, the Mother of Christ, as a prize for winning a spelling bee. The aura around her was a metallic gold and the stars on her dress and veil were also. I always loved the card and think it may still be around somewhere, unless it was in my St Joseph’s Missal which my father gave away after I moved out on my own. At any rate, the history of this Church, its simplicity and its many representations of Mary was very interesting. There was no one there, to speak of. A local lady who took home one of the poinsettia plants in the nave with a sign to take one home. A couple of men, who came and prayed for a short time and lit candles. Other than those few people, the place was ours and it was so serene and soothing. We walked around the whole square block—enjoying the quiet neighborhood with its high walled homes and carved wooden doors for entry into their private courtyards.

Drove over a few blocks and parked on Grant St to explore the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum which is a small, intimate space with simple exhibit space. The museum owns 3000 pieces of her works as well as Ghost Ranch and her home in Abiququi. The exhibits are changed fairly frequently and though not all are of GOK’s work ( the museum is the OK ) those that are of her things usually include the works of another artist with whom she was familiar and whose work mirrors hers in location and focus. Today’s was a small retrospective of her paintings done in Hawaii when she was hired to illustrate Dole Pineapple Company’s Pineapple Juice ad campaign. (Interesting that Rockwell is considered an illustrator because of his work with the Sat. Evening Post but she is considered an artist despite this work for Dole—ah, artistic airs and snobbery!) Her works were interspersed with Ansel Adams photographs of Hawaii on a different trip and for different reasons. These I could not photograph.

I found her change in colors and heaviness of strokes and tools through the years very interesting. It is so interesting to me that her early NYC and pre-NYC work has been largely forgotten—even her Lake George work –across the Lake from our camp—is relatively unknown except to real fans. Her flowers are probably best known of her work and yet she spent so much of her life painting the Southwest, in particular the landscape around her homes in New Mexico. Indeed, she had been coming here for winters since the 20’s and moved here permanently in 1949. She died in 1986 so 36 years of her output, not counting the sojourns to escape Lake George and NYC, had as its focus the scenes of New Mexico. My first introduction to her work were sun-bleached cattle skulls on sand under a bright blue sky with impossibly white clouds. To this day, those are my favorite of her works.

Leaving the museum it was amusing to see a modern day Georgia or George has one of those skulls bound to the grill of a car, parked in a compact car zone, which was hardly compact. We took a spin around the Plaza to scout out parking and location of other sights in preparation for tomorrow. Then we found an Applebees for an early dinner. What fun we had, on our left, four clean-cut Anglo boys—around 30, since they were in town from Los Alamos, Atlanta and other out of town places to attend a surprise party for a fellow here in town whose 30th birthday is today. Bantered and chatted with them on and off and also chatted with the group of Native blue-collar workmen, also in their mid-30s. One fellow just arrived back from Eagle’s Nest where he was working. Another man works in the Santa Fe Sewers and another was a carpenter. This was as much fun and as interesting as the Shrine and the museum.

Came back to the motel and relaxing with the news—a life-long farmer declared dead at the hospital, in the body bag, ready to be embalmed when he moved and it was discovered he is very much alive. Where is that bell string when you need it?  Scary!

Don’t know what is on the agenda tomorrow but looking forward to it. Will let you know all about it tomorrow night. Take care and don’t let the bedbugs bite. Hugs, KandB

Thursday, February 27, 2014

High Road to Santa Fe

Thursday February 27, 2014 Quality Inn Room 108 Santa Fe, New Mexico 3:46 PM MST

Today dawned with a beautiful sunrise but within an hour or so the sky began to fill with huge clouds that completely blocked out the blue sky and most of the sun, Temperatures stayed in the 50’s except for the Nambe Pueblo just north of Santa Fe, when it rose to the low 60’s for awhile. It seemed so strange to know that we weren’t going to return to the Roadway tonight after four nights. Still, it seemed time to move on, since we’d pretty much seen all we wanted to see. We decided against Los Alamos because the only thing that seemed interesting is the Science Museum. For us, after teaching science for so long, and because physics, particularly nuclear physics wasn’t my favorite subject, we decided to skip it. We may, on a future trip, venture out toward Ghost Ranch and Bandelier National Monument but it just felt like time to move on.

We did have some little things to finish up before leaving Espanola—such as seeing its Plaza which turned out to be quite large, modern and clean.  Also, we needed to eat—chose La Cochina, which serves New Mexican food, not Mexican, as our waitress was quick to correct. I wasn’t sure what the soup was—thought it was Menuto but it was Pistole—hominy and pork. Did not care for it. I also had no idea what the puffy pillow was or how to eat it. It is sort of a fried bread that gets cut open and is coated with honey and eaten as a sort of dessert. It was really different and quite yummy—sopapilla! Have to find a recipe!

As you can see the meal was huge-all I expected was the three tacos as the taco plate was listed! I opted for shredded beef rather than ground beef or chicken. Bill ordered a Cochina burger which was a huge bacon burger and included a large salad as well as the veggies on the burger.

Lastly, a bank run for cash and the sign about the Okhay  Owingeh  Pueblo through which we’d driven each day. There is a very large Native presence in this part of New Mexico. Many pueblos which were involved in the ill-fated Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish around 1680. I also wanted to visit the little Chapel of the Holy Boy of Atocha. Of course, it is padlocked but even on the outside it is a lovely little building.

We then headed back to Chimayo to take the remainder of the High Road to Santa Fe, since it begins there and ends in Taos. I also wanted to quickly check the gift shop to see if there were any post cards of the interior of the Church. ( Our waitress at Chili’s last night grew up in the area and she bemoaned the fact that the Santuario where she attended Mass so often as a child has become so commercial and such a tourist attraction. It is truly touristy although I’m sure there are many who come to pray and to attend Mass while in the area but there are many who’ve just come to, as my Dad used to say, rubberneck.) As it turns out, I was able to get some interior shots as well as one of the grotesque scourged Christ. In walking around another side of the Shrine I found a couple of more details, missed yesterday. I particularly like the statue of St Francis with the birds. Although I was not supposed to do it, I could not resist taking one picture in the Church—the encoffined Christ that so startled me yesterday. Walking in from a darkened vestibule to an illuminated life-size corpse gave me a bit of a start.

Continuing South on SR 98 we passed through badlands and in the distance saw so much virga it made me sad—the area could use rain so much and this teasing by nature is so unfair. 98 is a relatively short road and soon we t-ed into 508 which led us to the Nambe Pueblo. The Plaza is a small cul-de-sac the center of which is the San Francis of Assisi Church the ladies raised the money to repair but we were unable to photograph it. It was open, however, and I asked a young man sitting, with his phone!, in his car if I might go in. He said yes. ( I loved his huge earring in his ear lobe which was basically gone—I know there is a name for these big plugs but I never can remember. ) When I entered the Church I was surprised to see a casket lying in state and three men speaking softly at its side. I quickly sat and said a prayer and left without looking around. I apologized to the young man, but he said it was okay, he was meeting many new relatives. I said I’m not a relative and didn’t mean to intrude but said a prayer for the deceased. He said it was perfectly fine and thanked me for the prayer. How distressing but I know I was respectful and I’m sure did not upset the people.

Just outside the main Pueblo was a rather new looking and affluent looking church, Sacred Heart.  As with all these churches, the back faces the road and presents the same type of geometric apse. Continued to the Southern terminus of the High Road and entered 84/285 once more. Arrived at the Quality Inn fairly early—3 PM but wanted to get blogging and pix done early. Haven’t been sleeping well past 230 am and need to get some rest before tackling the sights of Santa Fe tomorrow and Saturday. We’ve reserved the room until Sunday morning—should be enough time to see a number of things—what we don’t get to will wait for a return trip. We always come to New Mexico and love exploring. Thinking we may do Chaco this year—we keep putting it off. Can’t wait to get to the Palace of the Governers tomorrow. Til then, take care!  KandB

High Road to Taos; Low Road to Espanola

Thursday February 27, 2014 Roadway Inn Espanola, New Mexico 8:17 AM MST Suite 202

Good morning, all!  Yes, we are still in Espanola! We planned on staying on Tuesday so that I could take care of March bills and then heading to Santa Fe yesterday. Tuesday, however, turned out to be a traumatic day—at least in the morning. After breakfast I got all the paperwork etc out of my case and set up the desk. I then went to get the checkbook out of my purse and it wasn’t there!!! Didn’t panic at first—just double checked the computer case and emptied the purse which has multitudinous compartments. No dice! Began to panic a little, knowing it couldn’t be anywhere else but went along with Bill and emptied the suitcase—not there. He brought two more bags from the car and I unpacked them—nope. Now, I was crying and panicky. He went back to the car and took everything out of the console, my door pocket, under the seats, checked the map bag and the book bag. Nowhere. By this time at least two hours had passed and I was hysterical. Had no idea when I’d had it last, all our trip money is in that account etc—how would we access it if we moved it. The account was still intact so that was good.

Decided I’d go ahead and pay the bills and then we’d figure something out. By the time I got through that and put everything away, I went into my purse to get out the bank cards so we could figure out how to change the system. I noticed a zipper that I hadn’t seen earlier—opened the compartment and there it was—I’d moved it to give myself more room in the main compartment and totally forgotten about that zipper. I guess it is a safe place, since Bill had gone through the bag also and hadn’t noticed this little pouch. Won’t forget where it is again but by now I was exhausted.

Took a nap and then finished The American Heiress—good book, Gloria! Had spareribs from the Chinese restaurant next door and watched the NCIS shows and Person of Interest and went to bed.

    Yesterday was heavenly and I wanted a beautiful drive. There are two roads to Taos from here—I discovered that on Tuesday also, when I looked over the travel guides I’d picked up in Taos on Monday. It seems the road we took through the Rio Grande Valley is known as the Low Road but there is another that goes through several small old villages. It is called the High Road. I looked at the map—didn’t look too choppy –checked out the topo map on line and it didn’t look too high—googled it and the description didn’t make it sound too steep and the u-tube slide show posted by some guy looked okay. So, I said to Bill, let’s stay one more day and go back up to Taos on the High Road and return on the Low Road. He thought that sounded good and so off we went.

The road actually begins south of here in Pajoaque but we picked it up at Chimayo and began by touring the Sanctuaria de Chimayo, which is quite an elaborate shrine that dates back to around 1811-1816. When I looked at the pictures I discovered that we missed part of the complex but what we saw was beautiful. Something I don’t understand in these Hispanic/Native churches is that pictures are forbidden. I am a Catholic and have taken pictures and been allowed to do so in any church I’ve ever attended, including St Peter’s, Notre Dame, St Patrick’s etc. It is a shame, since there are some lovely primitive art in these churches. I must admit however, that walking into the sanctuary from the vestibule caused me to jump in fright. To the left of the nave was a full sized coffin in which lies a very realistic body of Christ recently taken from the cross.This was the first thing my eyes rested upon. Once I’d reclaimed my breathe I looked to the right where stood another realistic effigy. This of a 6 foot tall Christ, stripped to the waist, hands bound, bloody back and bleeding head bearing the crown of thorns. Between the two, I quickly repented whatever sins I may still have staining my soul. Boy, I’ve never been anywhere with such depictions of the sufferings of Christ. Even the most grotesque crucifixes I’ve seen don’t come close. If you’d like to see more pictures, including one of the interior, and some more history of the shrine this link is pretty good.


After strolling the grounds we went to the parking lot where Bill had left the car and discovered we should have entered there. Since he had left me at the entrance to the Church, I hadn’t gone to the gift shop—so this was an inexpensive visit—though the only things I would have bought would have been post cards for my album, if there’d been interior shots.

Off we went through Cordova, which is apparently known for wood carvers of santos or saints, in the Cordova way. Chimayo, by the way, is filled with weaving shops. Eventually, we came to Truchas, the sight of the filming of The Milagro Beanfield Wars, a movie I haven’t seen. The main road turns to the left but we went into the town—mistake—the road, though a numbered State road peters out to a trail on the edge of the cliff overlooking the plowed fields. We somehow managed to turn around, when a car, going the same way, pulled up next to us and the lady passenger asked with a laugh, if we were lost. We said, no, not really. Then she really laughed and said well, we’re from New Jersey and WE are lost! We laughed, too, waved and we both returned to the main road and headed toward Las Trampas. They soon lost us in their dust and I wondered where they went by the end of their day.

This portion of the road took us through some beautiful pines of the Carson National Forest. In Las Trampas it was a bit demoralizing to see the historical sign in such a remote place had been vandalized almost to the point of illegibility. It brought home with sadness, the reason why Catholic Churches, and probably others, are no longer unlocked when not in use. It was traditional that churches were always open and available to anyone who wanted to stop and rest and or pray—day and night. No longer the case and here, in Las Trampas founded in 1751, San Jose de Gracia was locked tightly. This is another of the churches that both Ansel Adams and Georgia O’Keeffe immortalized in their work. The church was founded in 1776----we never think about what was happening in the rest of the continent while in the colonies—our colonies—the British colonies—Revolution and Independence filled the air. Here Spanish governors were subduing the Native peoples as the Catholic priests attempted to convert them to the true faith. Of course, several revolts and attempts at independence had failed in this area, already.

In Chamisal the website I used told us to look for signs to the old plaza and church—no signs and no sign of either so we breezed through. Through high llanas we arrived at Picuris Pueblo. There is supposed to be a buffalo herd here, but they were not in evidence nor were we able to find San Lorenzo de Picaris which had collapsed in 1989 from water damage. Apparently, residents of the Pueblo came together and using the old methods rebuilt the church by hand. We did see the gate to the Picaris cemetery which has inscribed on it “Mi Senor es mi Pastor”  The Lord is my Shepard. Unfortunately, my camera choose to act up and so the image is just a blur.

After passing through Vadito we came to Sipapic and the intersection with SR 518. A hairpin curve had us ascending back into the Carson Forest. At this height of the High Road we encountered the first snow we’ve seen in ages and also the only real drop offs on the road. Being forested they were not as frightening as their height warranted. Also the were relatively few switchbacks and they weren’t tight.

After awhile we descended into Talpa, which had been a Native village from 1100-1300. And then we arrived at Ranchos de Taos,which is considered the end of the High Road, though it traditionally ends at San Francisco di Asis. And so we began our return to Espanola across the Llano Quemado and along the Rio Grande on the Low Road.

In Velarde we made a visit to Black Mesa Winery for tasting and visiting with the warehouse cat, who joins tasters at the bar for awhile. Another couple, from Colorado, were there. He has just retired—four days ago—as a county sheriff so they were taking a small trip to celebrate. Tasted a couple of dry whites and bought one of the rieslings. Also tasted Black Beauty—a chocolate dessert wine—out of this world, And a chocolate sauce made with one of their red wines—good bye Hershey’s!

Back to Espanola where the clouds had a sub-level of dust raised by the quickening wind. This part of the country is going through such a draught—a slight breeze lifts clouds of dust high into the sky. Had a quick dinner of chicken wings and a Dos Equis and back to the room. Uploaded and shared the day’s pictures, streamed another episode of House of Cards and lights out at 10.

Today, we really are leaving, by way of the lower part of the High Road and staying in Santa Fe for a bit. If you’d like a more detailed description of the High Road this is a good link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Road_to_Taos,_New_Mexico

We’ve never been to this part of New Mexico before so it has been fun exploring a new area. It is truly interesting and beautiful. On to the 2nd Spanish capital of the territory—Taos having been the original choice. It I getting late so have to make our reservation, pack up and get on the road. Have a wonderful day—see you tonight. KandB

Monday, February 24, 2014

Espanola to Taos and Back

Monday February 24, 2014 Roadway Inn Suite 202 Espanola, NM 6 PM MST

Long, tiring day today but simply beautiful. The motel in which we are staying was, until recently, a Comfort Inn but has been downgraded to a Roadway. It is smaller than the current Comfort Inns and the Suite is also smaller. No newspaper and when the girl told us yesterday that there would be coffee and toast in the breakfast room this morning that is what was on offer—though there were also some good danish. Cannot really complain, small is nice. Only three rooms were taken last night, the motel is on a quiet street and I have the window open, almost unheard of in any these days. The room is quite homey and clean and we are really using the living room space, which we don’t usually get to do. We are staying here several days in order to travel out and about and return to a central area. The price is unheard of—$48 plus tax!!

Today we began by stopping at a bank so Bill could get some nickels for his nickel searching hobby and then we decided to get a bite to eat to augment the skimpy coffee and toast continental breakfast!  LOL As we started down main road we came to a four car crash—did not look good. These drivers are crazy and they are not courteous. As a matter of fact the road narrowed just before the accident and we needed to merge right—not a soul would let us in—yet the traffic stopped and none of them got anywhere farther than we. Rush, rush to nowhere—going to be late—well, those people in those four cars will be very late.

Soon, however, we kicked the dust of Espanola from our tires and headed north through the Rio Grande River Gorge to Taos. The scenery is spectacular, the river sparkling and rushing and the little towns tucked into niches and crannies of the terrain. Bud had assured me that there were no drop-offs or switchbacks to frighten me and he did not lie. Sometimes on a curve when it looked like the edge of the world I was a bit apprehensive but once into the curve it was easy to see that the road did go on and the drop was not great.

Our first stop was the visitors’ center where I gathered all kinds of books and brochures not just on Taos but also Santa Fe and Los Alamos ( the aspens ). The altitude tires me out since we haven’t really acclimated yet so we decided to drive out to the Pueblo but not walk around it—I think I’d like to come back another year and do it. The drive out to the base of Taos Peak was wonderful---across this high mountain plain on which Taos is situated. Actually, geologic websites say that two very different formations come together here abruptly and delineated by high almost vertical cliffs. Guess that says it all.

Taos itself was a surprise—I expected the tourist vibe of Stowe or Sedona but there is such a large year round indigenous population that feeling is that of a very old, small, Spanish/Native town. There are lots of art galleries and shops and restaurants for sure but they are very subdued and the town is beautiful. We decided to tour the home of Kit Carson, his third wife and their six children. She was 14 and he 33 when they met. He waited until she was 15 to marry her and in the next 23 years or so they had seven children. His wife died of complications after the birth of the last child and he followed several days later. The house and its furnishings were sold and the children dispersed to friends and family to be raised. As often happens the house fell into disrepair and was rescued by the local Masons who continue to operate it as a small museum.

We then took a spin around the central plaza to see the statue of Fray Mendoza, prominent family’s son who became an influential priest--- arguing with the French bishop in order to keep the Hispanic customs of New Mexican Catholicism intact. Lastly, we visited San Francisco de Asis, the apse or rear section of which will look very familiar to Ansel Adams and Georgia OKeeffe aficionados, since both of them used it over and  over in their works.

Speaking of Georgia—her two homes are due west of Taos. Ghost Ranch is not open to the public and Abiquiu may as well not be. In winter tours are by appointment only and cost $100 per person. In season, tours are by reservation only –are offered only a few days a week and at few times on those days and run either $35 or $45 per person. You meet the bus at the Inn in town and are taken to the home. No food or drink except water—that’s fine. No cameras, no note-taking, no taping. No back packs or purses. There are other restrictions that escape me right now but the bottom line is: no Kathy and Bill Pond, either.

Having walked around the Church, which was locked, we headed back to Espanola through the gorge once more. Stopped at Chili’s for early dinner and back to our room—Bill to watch the Syracuse game, me to peruse the tour books and read The American Heiress which I’ve almost finished!

Tomorrow Los Alamos for sure and who knows what else. For now, I’m going to get comfy and plan—lol  Nighty-night all.  KandB

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Visit in Belen and On to the Mountains

February 23, 2014 Espanola, NM Rodeway Inn Suite 202 @ 10:13 PM MST

After our wonderful morning at the Bosque and lunch in Socorro we continued north to Belen and the home of our friends, Gloria and Bud. What to say about a day and a half with friends?  We talked and caught up since last we were together—family, health, hobbies, books, movies and TV, what’s going on back in New England. Just a myriad of topics and lots of time to almost exhaust them. Gloria and I share an interest in scrapbooking, which is how we met, so naturally we sat in her workroom, exploring new techniques, tools and websites. She is so incredibly talented, I always learn new things from her. I so enjoy looking at the albums that she has done for her grand-daughters and I know she enjoys sharing them with me and explaining how she’s done different things in them.

I cannot talk about our visit without praising our meals—Gloria is one of the world’s best cooks and we gain at least ten pounds each time we visit : wonderful ham dinner with scalloped potatoes and fresh steamed green beans; meatloaf dinner, steamed red potatoes, her incredible salad and fresh baked bread. She gave me the recipe for this easy loaf and I cannot wait to try baking it myself. She’s changed our way of preparing salad and Italian sausage for sauce and now she’s introduced me to a simple recipe for the most incredible crusty bread.

I had forgotten a book I wanted to share with her—The Lost Sisterhood—and will send it out when I get home. In the meantime, she has passed on The American Heiress to me—not sure it’s the right name but it is about a girl, much like Cora on Downton Abbey. An American heiress who marries an impoverished British aristocrat. A common practice post WWI—Churchill’s mother was such a woman. Money for a title—a win-win situation—how modern!

We, all four, thoroughly enjoyed Netflix’s House of Cards last year and since neither one of us had yet started the new season, we watched several episodes each evening—with Bud’s popcorn. Such fun—like going to the movies but all comfortably ensconced in their living room with a big TV and the opportunity to comment and talk whenever we wanted.

This morning after a big breakfast of leftover ham and red potatoes, toasted crusty bread, orange juice and coffee, we packed the car and hugged each other good-bye until next time. That may be again this year, depending on our perambulations or same time next year. It is always hard to move on but the getting together is always just such a joy.

Off we went  through Albuquerque and up the Turquoise Trail and some of the art galleries in Madrid, which is south of Santa Fe. Bought a few things, including a wonderful copper snake and continued through Santa Fe to Espanola. Had dinner at Chili’s. Met a guy from Long Island—Hampton- who now lives in Colorado and works for DOE. We talked about the cost of the houses we grew up in which our father’s had built for 14,000 and 10,000 dollars back in 1957-1959, which are now, without very much change selling for 200,000-300.000 dollars. His cousin was a NYC fireman who died in the second tower—such an awful event—but even more so to those of us who still think of NYC as home, as the place we grew up and became the people we are.

Then we raced back to catch the Downton Abbey finale only to find they were first repeating last week’s episode. Good ending, just hate having to wait another year for the next season.

Tomorrow, we are going to Taos and Los Alamos. We’ve never been to this part of the State. There has often been a great deal of snow here in the Northern mountains. This year there is nothing on the ground at all and the road we’ve taken is running through the Rio Grande valley and so there are no drop offs or switch backs so far. We still have another 43 miles or so to go—hopefully, the terrain will remain unfrightening. Time will tell. Going to see what’s on TV now and then off to sleep. Until tomorrow—sleep tight. KandB

Bosque del Apache in San Antonio, NM

February 23, 2014 Espanola, New Mexico 7:20 PM MST Rodeway Inn Suite 202

Hi all, This is a delayed blog but two days ago we were in Socorro, NM by design. The wildlife refuge known as Bosque del Apache is one of our most favorite places in the US. We discovered it on our first trip and were here in January on that trip. The refuge was filled with whooping cranes that year as well as with waterfowl, Canadian geese and snow geese. It was so incredibly filled with birds and the sounds of birds. We’ve come back every year since and though it has been in February and the crane have always migrated already we’ve loved the 12 mile tour road and have discovered many different creatures through the years. In recent times we’ve gone to Belen first and returned to the refuge with our dear friends, Gloria and Bud, who love it as much as we. We’ve driven down together and discovered peccaries and other new creatures. Then we’ve tried new lunch places to refresh ourselves after a long day reveling in nature.

This year, since we had entered NM at a more southerly location in a long time I asked Bill if we could get to the refuge as early as we had in our first visit. I wanted to see it come alive at the very first light of day again. I messaged Gloria of our plans and wanted her to know that we would have no problem returning with them if they’d put off their late winter visit until we arrived. As it turned out, Gloria was suffering from a pretty aggravating head cold and was not at all upset by our going to the Bosque without them. I must admit, it felt different doing it, just the two of us, but had every intention of coming back if Gloria and Bud wanted to do so.

Now, as certain people reading this know, getting up at what Betsy calls the ass –crack of dawn ( so lady-like , my princess—lol ) is not one of my strengths. I must say that when I traveled as a child with my parents we were always on the road before daylight and to this day, if I’m going to a specific destination or have a desire to get somewhere early for whatever reason I am up as early as and sometimes before my husband who rises at 4:30 and snores at 8:15 each night! Unless, it is worth rising, however, I am a night owl—I watch Jimmy Fallon before he replaced Leno ( I watch him now in Leno’s time slot, too) and make no apologies for rising between 8 and 9 am. If we are at the ocean or near the Bosque, however, sunrise is irresistible to me and I’m up in the dark. Give me a good reason and I’m right there and STILL stay up for late night without a nap!

This was one of these times. There is nothing more to say—the pictures tell the story. This is a magical place. We arrived at 6:45 after breakfasting at the motel at 6. The town was still on neon and the half-moon was the brightest thing in the sky. As we headed to San Antonio the sky just blossomed into the most magnificent palette of colors. By the time we left the refuge at 9:45, the sun was high and bright in the sky. Returned to the motel for a shower and to wash my hair. Grabbed the remainder of our luggage.  Lingered for  lunch at the El Camino Family Restaurant in Socorro and then headed, on I 25, to Belen and a lovely stay at Gloria and Bud’s!

I hope you can get just a small sense of the serenity and peace we find in this place. We met only two other vehicles on the road. It is just an oasis and inspiring place. We never know what we’ll see or what the weather will bring. Enjoy

Thursday, February 20, 2014

White Sands and Malpais

Thursday February 20,2014 Comfort Inn Socorro New Mexico Rm 203 7PM MST

Today we started by removing everything from the car, since for the first time since Tupelo we were staying in a motel with outside entrance to the room. The project was two-fold: try to find the Geek Squad folder and reorganize the trunk and back seat by consolidating where possible and replacing items in their original spots. I then called every motel we’ve stayed in since Lafayette to see if my folder has surfaced in any of them. So far, no luck. If only I could remember precisely what is in that folder besides the receipt for my computer and the code for the Office Software that has been loaded onto it.

Oh, well, got a late start but since Socorro was only a short drive away it was okay. If you remember some of yesterday’s pictures you may have noticed the haze at the foot of the San Andres mountains being created by the blowing white sands of Alamogordo. Well,what goes up must come down and the car was covered in white dust this morning. Headed out to the National Monument and as you can see from the flag the wind was pretty strong.

First stop the visitors’ center where we bought a calendar that was 75% off and a book on the Lincoln Wars as well as another called Billy the Kid : Beyond the Grave by W.C. Jameson. The fellow at the register, Toby, said it is very interesting and he thought pretty convincing that Garrett did not kill Bill and that they may have split the reward. Toby said he’s love to know what we thought about it and I said I’d email him. Billy the husband is starting to read it tonight. Got some post cards too—mostly for my photo album but a couple to send.

The people before us were checking out and Toby asked if they were teachers or retired teachers. They were: lady had taught special ed and now supervises student teachers; her husband had taught high school art. With them was another lady, the woman’s mother, also a retired teacher and the couple’s daughter is studying to be a teacher. They were from Minnesota. Of course, we shared the information of our teaching assignments, that Betsy is also becoming a teacher and we were from Vt. By the time they left Toby had rung us up and gave us the 15% educational discount that National Parks give and which I always forget to request. He and Bill laughed when it seems Bill paid 47 cents for the calendar since it was on sale at 75% off and with the additional 15% discount it was 90% off!

There is nothing to say about the White Sands—this is my fourth and Bill’s third visit. He doesn’t care one way or the other about revisiting it but I just love the place—it is so amazing and beautiful to me. It is like nothing else I’ve ever seen before and you forget you aren’t surrounded by snow. But it is gypsum—hydrous calcium sulfate—dissolved out of the surrounding mountains years ago and still. Deposited in an ancient lake long since dried up and now just blowing along, engulfing everything in its path—making it really hard for any creature to survive without adaptations found nowhere else. Fascinating.

To by pass downtown Alamogordo one takes the Relief Route!!!! to Tularosa, past St Francis De Paula which I’ve photographed a zillion times through the years. Then we went with God past pecan and pistachio orchards and the Tularosa Speedway to Carrizozo, 53 miles away and lunch at the 4 Winds Family Restaurant which looks exactly like the picture on the menu. I had the senior two beef taco plate and coffee since the temperature was nippy 50’s. Bill had Salisbury steak and sweet tea. Only place in town to eat and we’ve stopped there before –hasn’t changed a bit over the years, except the metal roof was intact this time, having been partially blown off five years ago.

Turned Westward once more across the Valley of Fire with its huge lave beds. There are lava beds out near Gallup also and north of Flagstaff Arizona there is a huge volcanic area.

The road twists, turns and climbs and then twists, turns and falls into several wide valleys before finally arriving at the Rio Grande valley  and the town of San Antonio. At one of the heights the temperature dropped to 48 and then on the wide valley floor rose to 54, neither of which were terribly warm though the sun shone brightly. 20 miles outside of Socorro we passed Trinity Site. The government used to open it to the public twice a year, once in fall and once in spring. Toby said that they’ve reduced that to once a year—the first Saturday in April. We are always long back into Vermont by then. I’m not sure there is much more to see than the desert along the road that runs perpendicular to the access road.

Arrived at the motel early to find that while all the white sands had blown off the car, my rooftop graffiti remains. I stayed in to wash my hair and blog. Bill went down to K-Bob’s for dinner. He brought me back a salad an hour ago and a chocolate lava cake for dessert. The Pepsi is warm and I’m starved. Chatted with Bets somewhere along the line since arriving. Now it is dark, and I’m starved so it is so long for now from The Land of Enchantment.

Tomorrow we are getting up at 530 to go to the Bosque del Apache. It will probably take us at least two hours to drive through it slowly –looking at the wildlife, the mountains, and watching the changing light. Then it is up to Belen to visit with our good friends, Bud and Gloria, transplants from New Hampshire. Not sure when I’ll get the chance to blog again or even where we are heading next. Taos, Santa Fe, Gallup , all three???? Until next time—take care all of you. Hugs KandB

Wildlife, History and Pistachios

Thursday February 20, 2014 Socorro, NM Comfort Inn Room 203  5 PM MST

Hi all, this blog goes with yesterday’s adventures. I was just too tired to blog last night; as a matter of fact, went to sleep at 9pm without staying up to watch the ladies’ short program, which I love. Also didn’t catch Fallon but I hear his rap on the news was hysterical. Maybe I can find it on UTube.

Got up fairly early in Roswell and retraced our steps about 13 miles or so to visit the Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge. Both of us love wildlife refuges, especially those with driving routes—in early morning or early evening they are so restful, serene and beautiful. We had been here before several years ago on our way home in March and so the refuge was pretty devoid of birds, which had already departed for points North. Actually, they will soon be doing that again but we lucked out and there were many snow geese still in residence along with several species of duck and at least one crane. Made us optimistic that we may see birds, yet,in San Antonio’s Bosque del Apache on Friday.Having decided to go there before heading to Belen and our friends, Bud and Gloria’s we left Roswell and  continued West to Alamogordo. The route takes us through the Apache reservation and San Patricio, the home of the Peter Hurd museum. But it also took his past the turn-off to Lincoln, NM

Among the things I inherited from my parents were some of the brochures and postcards of places they visited on their many cross-country trips. There is one old glossy four page brochure with a blue and white picture of an old building in Lincoln. I don’t have it with me, since I don’t want to damage it , but I believe it says something about New Mexico State Historical Site. Always curious, I’ve wanted to visit Lincoln but we’ve always been on our way home and the ground has been covered in snow and it has been rather chilly so we’ve never climbed up the ten miles to the site. Yesterday, it was sunny, warm, very windy, with no snow on the ground and we weren’t hurrying home. With the stars so perfectly aligned the time had come.

Both of us were familiar with the Lincoln County Wars—rustlers and cattle barons and hired guns. Billy the Kid and Lew Wallace. We were not prepared for the amount of information presented here. We began in the Museum, the entry of which contains a huge charcoal and paper work by the fellow down the road, Peter Hurd. It depicts the death of DeVargas, who I gather was an influential Spanish settler in New Mexico and who lived in the early 18th Century—considerably earlier than the Lincoln County Wars! I imagine the work is there because the area was settled first by these Spaniards and because the artist lived in San Patricio. No other connection comes to mind, although I have since bought a book about the Wars and may find there is a greater connection of which I am not aware.

The museum traces the history of the area, the arrival of the army and then the white settlers who became rich supplying the army with food, particularly beef. I think most of the pictures from the museum are pretty self explanatory. Fort Stanton is farther up the mountain and was established there because it was close to the “ headquarters “ of the Apache tribes who inhabited the area. The role of the Buffalo Soldiers stationed there was to, with the assistance of Apache scouts, subdue the Apache and confine them to a reservation. I was absolutely amazed at the helmet like dress uniform headgear of the Army officers of the time. I’ve always associated such head dress with British Lancers and Prussian soldiers of the time. They are horrible and I’m pleased the uniform, which has gone through many permutations through the years, was improved by their removal. There is one parade ground photo of the troops at Fort Stanton which is quite amusing if you look closely at rifles and sabers.

The next exhibit featured the Hispanic influence of the area before the white settlers and business men, following the Army or otherwise moving West to seek their fortunes, arrived. Juana looks like she was a woman who would definitely be someone with whom the white women would have had to contend.

Soon, Lincoln County would be invaded by men other than the sheriff , who, by the way, was the only law in an area of Southeast New Mexico that covered as much territory as the whole of Ireland. Needless to say, what that basically meant was that there was no law of the land. When Chisum discovered the Pecos River Valley was a wet, relatively grassy path to the markets of Wyoming and Montana and to the army camps along the way, he hired a thousand Texans to drive the cattle through the valley. Lincoln is not very far off that beaten trail and so many of the cowboys made there way into town.

With a community already established, a Fort with many mouths to feed and ready access to beef and farm goods it did not take long for three enterprising young Irishmen to establish a store. Lawrence Murphy was a major in the Army. He and another soldier, Col. Fritz ran the sutlers at the Fort. They eventually established the first store in Lincoln. With his army connections, Murphy and another Irishman named Dolan, who became his partner upon the early death of Fritz, became the powers commercially and politically in the town, having no real competition even from the several smaller Spanish  grocers.

Within several years, however, a young Englishman, John Henry Tunstall, arrived in town and with the financial backing of his affluent father in England, started up a rival store. He aligned himself with a Scot, Alexander McSween, an attorney and with Mr Chisum, the cattle driving man. John Henry also established a bank, through which local farmers could get low interest loans, which they quickly defaulted on , allowing the new British faction to acquire a great deal of the land in the area.

The two factions each hired enforcers, guns, to protect their cattle and lands – often, with the easy access to firearms and firewater, there would be fatal contact between the members of the two factions but when Tunstall was murdered by the Sheriff led Posse of Murphy sympathizers, all hell broke loose. After five days of intense battle the home of McSween was burnt to the ground and he was shot to death. Some records say he was skulking in a corner others say he was shot while trying to surrender. At any rate, Billy the Kid, who worked for the Tunstall faction escaped the flames as did McSween’s wife.  The fighting,nevertheless, continued, with people being shot as they walked down the street simply because of their support for one faction or the other.

Eventually, word of the lawless conditions in Lincoln reached the ears of the President, Rutherford B Hayes , and he sent Lew Wallace, most recently a distinguished Union General during the Civil War and popular author of Ben-Hur, out to Lincoln to clean up the situation. Sheriff Brady was immediately relieved and murderers were rounded up. A meeting was arranged between Wallace and Billy during which Billy agreed to testify against some of his fellow cowboys. Supposedly, it was arranged that he would be arrested and sent to Fort Sumner for his protection but that the arrest was purely for show and he would be freed and exempt from all charges. It appears that Wallace got testimony from Billy and then promptly forgot all about their arrangement,forcing Billy to escape and thereby getting him killed by Pat Garrett with whom he’d once worked and who was now the new law in Lincoln County. There are all kinds of theories about whether or not Billy died and what his relationship to Garrett was. I also bought a book today about that.

After exploring the museum we watched a video which elaborated on the conflicts in the area: The Government attempt to subdue the Mescalero Apaches, the Spanish settlers’ resentment of the new comers who tried and successfully took control of the legal, political and commercial life of the community and the final brutal conflict among the men who then struggled among themselves to monopolize the entire life of the town. In this lawless, vast land that was Lincoln County New Mexico Territory there were fortunes to be made if one were lucky enough to survive.

By this time, we’d spent almost two hours absorbing the history of this fascinating chapter in American western expansion. Having bought a brochure with a map of the buildings of the town and their history we drove up the East side of the street and down the West side taking pictures of them in the order of the brochure. All of them existed prior to and during the Lincoln Wars except the 1932 WPA school, which I did not photograph and which is for sale. Nothing in the town is newer than that. It is now a designated Historic District with all the regulations that entails as to maintenance and change to any of the existing buildings and the area.

We returned to the main road and passed through the Mescalero Apache Reservation with the lovely murals on the retaining walls and over Apache Peak, over 7000 feet, where there were smaller patches of snow than there has ever been when we’ve passed this may before. With that we arrived in Alamogordo and headed to Eagle Ranch/Heart of the Desert Pistachios. One of our favorite places, we purchased three bottles of their new red wine and several flavors of pistachios--red chile with lime, green chile and onion-garlic. Ate at the first Applebee’s in a long time. Our Quality Inn was right across the street, so we checked in and as I already mentioned had an early night.

Stay tuned: today’s blog is on its way. Much shorter though just as interesting and very beautiful!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Land of Enchantment

Tuesday February 18,2014 Roswell, New Mexico 6PM MST Comfort Inn and Suites Suite 220

Got up earlier than usual today and actually ate a leisurely breakfast in the dining room—ham, home fries, orange juice and coffee. Reserved tonight’s room and while Bill went to check out I washed up. When I returned to the desk to pick up my credit card and pocket book the card was not there. I called the lobby to speak to Bill but he’d already gone to the car. I decided to wait in the room, hoping he’d come to check on me—which he did 20 minutes later. He didn’t have the card but I somehow closed my computer on it—as I discovered when he brought the computer bag back to the room. Tonight I discover that I’ve somehow lost the large black and orange Geek Squad folder that I keep in the computer bag in the compartment with the computer. Where the heck is it?  I never take it out of the bag—it has my receipt and who knows what else in it! Don’t remember when I saw it last but I slide my computer in and out every night—there is no way I’d pull it out without knowing—it is too big to miss. I’d see it if it fell to the floor or desk—and I thoroughly check the room every morning before departing. Some days this senility drives me mad. What I need is a ladies’ maid like they have on Downton Abbey—then I wouldn’t have to keep track of everything. Maybe in my next life.

Other than the fact we got off almost an hour later than usual today was another fabulous day. Sunny though hazy and a high of 83. Headed up to Snyder and then followed 84 to Sweetwater and on to 180 which took us all the way to Hobbs, New Mexico. It was interesting to see the fields in East Texas with their contrasting colors of harvested crops and the soil—sometimes yellow and farther west deep dark red.

Sweetwater’s welcome sign is a wind turbine blade and as we entered town we passed through one of the largest turbine farms we can remember seeing in our travels. Got a kick out of the couple of oil wells and the line of tanker cars at their feet. What a juxtapositioning of energy sources.

180 is a two lane highway with no traffic and very few towns. We came to the tiny town of Gail with The Blue Paw Café, another café across the street out of business for quite a while by its appearance and yet a third café and gas station down the street. The Blue Paw was it –had a gigantic bacon cheeseburger, Bill had the jalapeno burger, we shared an order of fries we couldn’t finish and each had a jar of sweet tea, also unfinished. Best food I’ve eaten in a long time. I was the only woman in the place but for the waitresses. A table full of oil men, a corner table with seven real cowboys—the first I’ve ever seen—and several lone wolves. A busy place. Oilmen noisy and cowboys very soft spoken. Their spurs do jingle jangle when they walk. Bill said they had two trailers of horses, actually I saw one going down the road toward the east. Wonder where they were going and whether it is round-up already.

Next town Lamesa and it is on top of the mesa. Lots of cotton fields here and I saw two John Deere pieces of equipment in town that I recognized as cotton harvesters from our day in Alabama watching cotton harvest last November. The Alabamians do a cleaner job of harvesting,however. It was around this time that we hit our highest temperature of the day: 83!  Too hot for me. The last of the Texas towns before entering New Mexico was Seminole. We’ve been here before though we entered from a different direction going to a different destination! Passed by the same clock, which on this face is always telling the correct time—cannot say that for the two side clocks. West of Seminole and on into New Mexico is oil country. While I like the oil wells—the pumps—I think they look like rocking horses,but the smell of the area is horrible. The fumes cannot be healthy. I wish some of those tree huggers  in Essex Co Vt, who are so adamantly against the turbines on the ridges because they destroy the view, kill the birds or make too much noise, could see and smell the oil fields in the West. Or for that matter,see the coal mines in Appalachia and the dirt of those areas. They are lucky there is neither coal nor oil of any quantity in Vermont—the result would be far more harmful than the beauty of a few white pinwheels on their ridge-line.  There was not one sound coming from the twirling farm turbines as we rode right through the middle of it.

About thirty miles farther West we entered New Mexico at Hobbs. Cut up to Lovington and then swung west out of town to pick up a little used range road along which we saw some interesting gloves mounted on the fence posts. I’ve seen cowboy boots on fence posts before but never gloves. Have no idea what either signifies! Periodically, a sign would appear with a cow on it and before us would be open range and cattle guards in the road. If you look closely at the shot of the two lovely ladies along the way, you will see the edge of Bill’s window. Madam white-face had grudgingly stepped off the pavement to allow us to pass. I can’t imagine driving this curving narrow road at night with cows wandering about freely. It may be like dodging deer in Vermont but she looks a bit bigger to me—maybe like watching out for moose at night.

As we moved along I began to notice that on one side of the road the cactus had been pulled and stacked. Those pastures looked nice and grassy but those that had not recently had the cactus removed were definitely getting overgrown with them. It would appear that if one wants to maintain pasture here, then the cactus have to be culled periodically.

When we reached 380 and turned toward Roswell we both remembered Tatum where all the street signs are made of carved metal letters. Really very beautiful and unique in a really tiny town. In time we descended into the Pecos River Valley from the Llana Escondida—the barricaded plain. Before us lay Roswell and just outside it the Bitter Lake Wildlife Refuge which we will visit tomorrow morning. I love Roswell’s courthouse with its pale green blue dome but I hate the main street and its garish shops and pseudo museums about aliens. We’ve never stopped in them.

Arrived at the Comfort Inn at 5, which was really 6 for us but we gained an hour at Hobbs when we entered the Mountain Time Zone.  The lady had a three room suite available for us ( 89.00) which was an upgrade at the same price as the standard room we reserved. There is no elevator here and it is on the second floor but since we didn’t have much that needed carting upstairs that was not a problem. Bill went next door to the Mexican restaurant which I loved last time we were here but lunch was pretty filling so I had some saltines, cheese, apple and water for dinner. Very satisfying.

Betsy called—another four inches of snow today—she thinks there is at least  feet of snow on the fields where they haven’t been disturbed around the house. She is going to go out with a yardstick tomorrow to check it out. Just glad we aren’t there. Now, since nothing is on TV tonight except the Olympics think I’ll stream something for an hour and then hit the sack.

BTW, I need to edit a bit of yesterday’s blog. My friend Glen brought it to my attention this morning that my comment about the jams at San Saba was probably not what I wanted to say and he is correct. Here is his exact comment:

If each jar of jelly tasted "better than the next," wouldn't that mean that the flavors got progressively worse as you moved through the line-up? Maybe you meant "better than the last."

Yup, that’s what I meant, Glen. Thank you for catching it. So, with that, I think I shall close and hope I was more awake tonight. As I told him, I spell check but don’t reread—so there may be more head scratching comments along the way. Enjoy!  Night all KandB

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Absolutely Perfect Day!

Monday February 17,2014 Sleep Inn Suite 230 Abilene, Texas 6:12 PM CST

A short blog today since basically we drove back to San Saba and visited the San Saba River Pecan Company. As we drove out of Early I decided to call them to make sure they were open today, since it is President’s Day and banks and Post Offices are closed. The lady said yes they were and when I told her we’d stopped yesterday and continued to Early and were headed back down and then proceeding to Abilene which is Northwest of Early she was amazed. She said that there is a store in Early which carries some of their products but I said, no, I’d like to come to the store and she said they’d be happy to have us.

After I hung up, Bill said it doesn’t matter but if we shop in Early we can then visit the train depot which has one of the Harvey restaurants restored in it. I’ve always wanted to visit the depot and this is the second time we’ve been in Early without stopping. I especially want to see it now that I’ve read the book The Harvey Girls. BUT, my sister wants a particular item and I wasn’t sure they’d have it locally and the shipping and handling is so much to order online. He laughed and said yup, it is so much cheaper to drive two hours out of our way to get it. Let my sister-in-law do it—lol. Another lesson in math and practicality. But he really didn’t care—it was a glorious day today and we really don’t have any special destination on any particular day—at least not a time when we need to be anywhere. Since this was a repeat performance I didn’t take any pictures on the way.

Once there I only took shots of the orchard, the orchard store which was open and the adorable red truck filled with burlap bags, most likely not containing pecans since the harvest was over in January. As a matter of fact, had we come during harvest we could have caned the trees for our own nuts. The store did not have all of the items on the website but I imagine during harvest it does, when there are many visitors. Even so, I managed to find plenty of jam to buy as well as a bottle of Annie Oakley perfume. I have a small amount of Annie perfume by them which I bought in the Mercantile in Virginia City,Mt the same year I bought my fringed red leather gloves. How long ago was that?  This time I bought the musk—a little bit goes a very long way—I think the spray on my wrist will probably last til Easter!  LOL

While there we asked about pecan trees—how long before a tree is mature enough to bear nuts—can be up to 15 years—so, we were told, it is better to buy a mature orchard than to start from scratch. Or, as Bill says, ask your kid when its about ten if it would like to go into the pecan business and then plant if the answer is yes. By the time the kid is ready to go, so will the trees.  We also asked about the orchard up by the Colorado River—many dead trees—the Colorado was dry during drought and the trees died. The San Saba River along which this orchard lies is spring fed and continued to support their trees. The other outfit lost about 2000 trees!

The discussion of drought brought me to ask about the goat market—it appears there is a real demand for the meat around here. Of course, as I mentioned that over the years we’ve seen a decline in cattle and an increase in goats, she pointed out the fact that goats eat less, require less water and aren’t as fussy as cattle. The drought caused a lot of sell outs of the herds and now the cost of rebuilding them is prohibitive for many former ranchers. Many have turned to goats or other stock. In Brady there is a weekly goat sale and in San Saba a weekly cattle sale. She said that while the cities create some markets for goat cheese and goat milk they aren’t really a big source of income. Locally, the cheese isn’t well liked—I surely understand that –it smells like goat and tastes just as it smells—gross. Betsy likes goat cheese which doesn’t surprise me since she loves Cabot’s Hunters’ Cheese. I’ve never tasted the milk but know that some children who have allergies to cow milk are able to tolerate goat milk and she agreed that there is some of that locally, too.

If you are interested in the products from this company—here is the link:


I tasted almost all the jams and each one is more delicious than the last—although I’m not in love with the peach, pecan and amoretto. They didn’t have any baked goods but Bill had a turtle and said it was wonderful. I bought a pecan log but haven’t tasted it yet. As for the toppings—I only use pure Vt maple syrup on pancakes, waffles, bacon and ham—have no interest in broadening my horizons there.

We decided to head to Abilene without going through Early and since the terrain was pretty uniform the whole way, I didn’t take many pictures there either. Noted as we passed through Coleman I noted a very large billboard announcing the 46th annual goat BBQ cook – off but Bill was driving too fast for me to catch the dates so I guess goat BBQ is not on my immediate menu.

One thing we came across were some “ mountains “ through which was a cut we could see from a long way off. Bill said I bet that pass is going to have a historical sign and sure enough, at the top, there it was. As we drove over the pass and onward across the plains it was not difficult to imagine huge herds of cattle being driven to railheads and markets in the Midwest. In our fast moving, air conditioned car it really brought home what a long, hot,dusty ordeal a cattle drive must have been. Brownsville, Tx is as far down the Gulf coast as you can go without being in Mexico—thousands of miles from Kansas City. Not too much water along the way that we could see, either. I would not have wanted to walk a mile today in 73 degree heat—on horseback for hours in considerably hotter weather. No wonder those guys wanted some whiskey, and a bath among other things when they arrived to the end of the drive and their paychecks! As for those beef steer they must have been tough as leather to eat. Skinny, too, though I’m sure they were fattened up in feed yards at the end of it all. Still, what a grueling experience for men and beasts.

Arrived in Abilene around 3 –unloaded some stuff and headed out to Logans for some steak, cole slaw and broccoli and some Dos Equis. Think I’ll watch Downton from last night and then the ice dancing—unfortunately, I already know who won gold—darn MSN newsfeed. Got to get rid of it as homepage.

Not sure where we’ll be tomorrow but it will be somewhere in NM—Texas seems to have been very small this time! For now, may I share a tip from the Sleep InnIMGP5922

Sweet Dreams! KandB

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weather’s Fine in the Hill Country

Sunday February 16,2014 Comfort Inn Early, Texas Rm 214 6:48PM CST

I cannot believe I’ve been trying to get this internet connection to work for almost two hours!  But then, it has been one of those days. Slept poorly last night despite a really comfortable bed. It would get hot under the covers and so I’d kick them off but because the A/C was on low, then I’d get chilled. Around 3 am I detected what smelled like insecticide—I’m sure it wasn’t—where would it come from?—but that kept me awake awhile. Probably exhaust from some truck idling in the lot.

Finally I just got up. It was around 8am and I was groggy—go to the bathroom and the toilet seat gives way—one of the hinges was broken and we hadn’t noticed—almost hit the deck!—woke me up for sure. THEN, I pull the toilet paper, which amazingly was on the roller even though I finished the paper last night and had not put the new roll on the roller. ONCE in our whole time married Bill must have done it and he did it wrong-SPRANGGGGGGG—off goes the paper under the sink but I had the end so it lay against the wall as I reeled in what I needed. I’m laughing now as I write this but let me tell you——WE WERE NOT AMUSED!!! Told Bill I feel like going back to bed—this is not going to be a good day.

So, then he tells me about his experience in the parking lot last night while having a cigarette. Guy comes out of the lobby and seems to be walking in Bill’s direction so he made way for the guy to pass but then notices that the guy is headed right for him. As he approaches Bill he thrusts his hand out and says ” Hi, I’m Justin!”  An older, white guy, rather fidgety making Bill leery but he shook his hand and said “ I’m Bill.” The other goy then says “ Oops, I’ve got the wrong guy. I’m supposed to meet someone out here.” and goes back into the lobby. Bill continues with his cigarette and as he is coming back in the guy asks if he’s seen anyone in the lot. Bill said no. Then this morning as he was taking stuff to the car, he notices a syringe on the ground!  This was a nice hotel in a really nice neighborhood. Good thing he didn’t tell me last night, I would not have slept at all.

Eventually, we get on the road—the plan –to head toward San Marcos , that is go south of Austin and then cut west and then north on farm and ranch roads.  One of the very first things we encountered was the intersection with 130 toll road. Gloria, one of my friends who is following this blog, told me yesterday about this road and I could not place it at all. Barb, you should see it—brand new and runs alongside I35  but without all that traffic and car jams we experienced when visiting Round Rock. It’s not on my Texas map which is a 2010 map so it has been built between then and now—not even on the map as a dotted under-construction road. It is a beauty though we did not use it since we never go to cities. Instead we picked up Ranch Road 150 into Kyle. The police department was established in 1975 and that part of town we entered was wall to wall sub-divisions because there is an I-35 exit here. Once by the Interstate we came to the old town which looked really sad in comparison to all the spiffy malls and houses and roads at entry. But then , it is now a thriving bedroom community for Austin and maybe even for San Antonio which isn’t really that far away as Western distances go.

As we got farther from the North-South axis parallel to the Austin axis we began to see fewer homes though these hills are very well populated and it is an affluent area. It was a relief, as we headed West, to see that the Hill Country ,which we had not explored before, continues rural farther away and that there are lots of ranches. Lots of goats—what do they do with them? How much goat cheese and goat milk is there a market for?  And is there really a big market for goat meat? I know Middle Europeans, Greeks etc use goat in much of their cuisine but have we enough of them to need such a supply?

The views in some areas were beautiful, though it was hazy in the morning and actually had been foggy earlier. Some of the terrain reminded us of the area around Santa Fe in New Mexico and sometimes the Nevada area around the Lake Meade National Refuge. The soil is very thin and though there is plenty of water, the growth is scrubby. In one picnic area, however,  I noticed wild geranium. The soil is very rocky and it is yellow and orange. Many of the buildings use the stone from the area and they are so clean and sparkling looking—when the sun came out, they were particularly beautiful.

As we headed toward Luckenbach the rivers and streams started to be dry washes. The Pedernales in the area had no water at all. We didn’t find the town which bummed me out—wanted to see where Willy and Waylon and the Boys were Getting Back to the Basics of Life. We just didn’t feel like looking for it since we had a way to go to San Saba and then another 43 miles to Early.

As often happens in hilly and mountainous country things periodically open up into wide valleys and this one led us into Fredericksburg. Now, this part of Texas was settled by Germans and throughout the drive we’d seen Gernberg and Lindemann and Haas ect but Fredericksburg does it up huge.They do not say welcome on their town sign but rather willkommen! This is the home of Admiral Nimitz and the old Nimitz Hotel is now the National Museum of the Pacific War. There were lots of people roaming the main street and window shopping in the little shoppes and a few headed into the museum. By now the sun was out and, if you can believe it, we were too hot to be bothered to tour the museum since it was now 82 degrees under a cloudless sky. Too dramatic a climate change for us!

When we reached Rt 16 it was a straight shot through Llano to San Saba. Though we’d seen prickly pear since arriving in Texas this area had fields and fields of it. Bill picked an ear, avoiding the large thorns only to find that the whole margin is lined with fine hair-like thorns very closely packed so that his fingers, without him feeling it, became totally coated with fine prickles embedded in his skin. I chose not to touch it, though it is a pretty plant and is eaten by Native Americans and Mexicans alike. There also were our first Yucca growing in great bunches of green spears. The mistletoe is greening up to get a head start on photosynthesis before the trees leaf out. Of course, the trees will feed them and so actually they are feeding themselves until the trees can take over feeding them.

I had researched the San Saba River Pecan Company on line yesterday—looked at every page but could not find hours posted anywhere. We made a special trip here, knowing that we’d have to go about 43 miles more for a motel. Entrance 700ft—with a chain across it and no where an indication of when the place is open except to say open all year. I was so bummed. But what to do—nothing had really gone right this morning so why would this?  Decided that it was time to do my one Sonic fix and so I had a bacon cheeseburger and a Butterfinger Blast. Then I felt over-full, tired and hot. With 43 more miles to go. Well, I tried, Barb!

After taking some pictures of the town we headed to Early –my camera battery had died—actually all three were charging and the scenery was the same as the last time we were here. I recognized the Church the picture of which I took in Goldthwaite, knew which farm roads we’d followed, the school in Zephyr. Checked into the motel—changed immediately and tried to upload pictures to Snapfish. Twice! Very slow.

Watched the internet bars go up and down two up to five back down to three down to none back up—so I tried Ethernet connection—it was worse. Now I seem to have it  going for the time being. We’ll see if I manage to post this to my blog and send it by copying it to an email.

Doing the laundry and reading. No PBS channel here so unless I find it not listed no Downton again tonight. I may watch the ice dancers anyway and watch Downton on the computer later in the week—so please, fellow watchers—no spoilers!!!! Bill and I still haven’t started the new season of House of Cards either but will soon. Right now, I think I’ll make a sandwich and read for a bit.

Feeling tired but after looking again at the website to get San Saba’s phone number, I found the hours have been posted : Mon-Sat. Bill says we’ll go back tomorrow and then stay in Abilene tomorrow night—so I’ve made reservations—they’d better be open or I’ll never buy any of their products again. Like I ever do—can’t find them anywhere and won’t pay Shipping and Handling to have them send them to me in Vt.

I must admit, the one really positive note is that, though I’d rather the temperatures be in the 70’s—we have finally found the Snowbirds’ South.

Until tomorrow—‘night all!  KandB



Saturday, February 15, 2014

Texas Two-Step

Saturday February 15, 2014 Sleep Inn Bastrop, Texas 6 PM CST

I forgot to mention several things about yesterday in Louisiana. First of all, as we were getting into the car to leave the motel the fellow in the car next to us asked where in Vermont we were from. He then said that his great grandparents and other relatives were from Addison County and from Enosburg—last name Watkins. Bill said my folks come from  that part of the State, too. They had a good laugh deciding they were probably related. Bill said Vermont is just like West Virginia except for the accent—everyone is related. I said that’s why Bill married me, from New York, to bring in new genes into the gene pool. We all had a good laugh. He’s from Idaho and said he wasn’t too upset being in La at the moment.

Another thing I wanted to mention, if you didn’t recognize them, the pools with the little caps on their surfaces are crayfish pools and the covered boat on one of them has a device in the back which was turning and lifting crayfish out of the pool. Crawdads are also raised in the rice paddies.

Lastly, most of the original people and many of the present inhabitants of the marshlands along the Gulf are Acadians or their descendents, rather than Creoles. The Creoles were sugar planters and became quite affluent and influent –eventually, they pretty much forced the Acadians into the marshes, where they raise cattle. This is something the Acadians have always done and the ranger at the Evangeline site mentioned that beef is a money crop and Acadian cuisine does not use it. That is true—seafood, pork sausages,chicken but no beef in traditional Acadian culinary history. You don’t eat what you can sell.

Also the couple who owned the deceased cat were living in a small decrepit trailer on Holly Beach—he is a commercial fisherman and they are obviously not affluent. He said that all the new stilted houses we saw all around him are owned by week-enders==their vacation homes and all were built with FEMA money, none of which he qualified for. One guy had his home replaced by FEMA after Ike and then when Rita hit got enough FEMA funds that he built a second house that he uses as a rental property. Nothing has changed in La since the Kingfisher!

So, today—well, basically we drove along back roads north and then westward in East Texas. I had done my nails last night in a color that I thought was sunny and Southwestern in spirit. Then, I dug out my sandals and. though feet are ugly things, my tootsies are happier in something open and cool and light. I really hate sneakers—uglier than feet, heavy and hot. At first we were in the Piney Woods of the East Texas slice—passed a stand with wonderful tangerines, strawberries, jerky etc but Bill wouldn’t stop—what I’d give for a delicious tangerine—don’t think I’ve had a really good one in years. Clementines just don’t cut it for me. Then in Beaumont I saw a Market Basket supermarket and thought maybe I could find the ham that my NM friend, Gloria, hoped I could find but he said, no, it isn’t the same chain—sure looked like it. Soon, we did stop at a gas station and he used the men’s room after filling the tank so I guess he had an excuse for not stopping.

Eventually, we came across a lady selling local honey, which I don’t need. But she had jerky and a myriad selection of jams and jellies. I debated about a fig jam but decided on elderberry and we got some beef jerky –one hot and one peppered. The hot was unbearable for me but the peppered one was okay-so we continued down the road chawing in jerky and drinking cold water.  I got a kick out of the trailer PO in Cut and Shoot, Tx—which has its own zip code!

Conroe is a huge sprawl primarily along a large lake which is hidden by the MacMansions and businesses and marinas that clog it. Montgomery is a relief, small as it is. We had moved out of the piney woods and out on a flatish plain with many herds of cattle. Lots of brahmin and brahmin mixed cows and bulls. The Brahmin which come from India are able to handle draught and heat better than most of the other breeds in this country. They are good beef but are better as breeding stock to improve the heat and draught tolerance in other breeds. At Bernham we headed toward Austin on Texas 21. We will not be going into Austin but will explore the hill country which is about the only part of Texas we haven’t wandered on Farm Roads. Arrived in Bastrop around 3, checked in and got situated. l emailed back and forth with Gloria and did some research on the Saba River Pecan Specialty Company in San Saba. The Farm store there is on our itinerary tomorrow, I think. Have already made reservations for our room, because if the weather holds, sun and 72, we’ll be hitting farm roads for sure. Pizza Hut delivery tonight

Will let you know how it goes, tomorrow night, if we get in early enough. Good night for now. KandB

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine’s Day/ On to Texas


Friday February 14, 2014 Sleep Inn and Suites Ste. 116 Orange, Texas 6 PM CST

Woke up this morning and Bill presented me with a great card that plays “ What I Like About You” in the most raucous way! Then he followed up with a heart-shaped box of chocolates. I regret to say, I had nothing for him but our first stop after checking out was Keller’s Bakery to stock up on coconut cream whoopee pies and praline brownies—so there is plenty of sugar to go round.

Left the town of Lafayette and headed south to Abbeville and brunch at Shucks. OMG—we thought the oysters on the half shell were great at Bojangles—these were incredible. We learned how to make our own cocktail sauce. In a small bowl, put in some horse radish, some Worcestershire sauce, some Cajun garlic sauce, a squeeze of lemon and a shot of Tabasco. How much of each depends on whether you want it mild, medium or hot. Then you add a huge amount of ketchup. Using the spoon and the seafood fork together you mix it all together . The waitress made mine ( medium) to show us how and then left Bill to make his own—much hotter than mine though I did add a bit more horseradish.

The gentleman who seated us and chatted with us about where we are from etc said that we had to have at least a cup of his mother’s crawfish etouffe. So I asked it Shucks was his place and he said yes, with a partner, his name is Dave. We shook hands and I asked if I could take his picture and he said why don’t we have one of the two of us. So there it is, BTW, the etouffe was to die for—Bill said this is the best place we’ve eaten here so far and I must admit I agree. It may be that Bojangles will remain a favorite because of the bookstore but Riverside may go by the wayside. I think in Lafayette itself, Lagnieux may be the winner.

The rest of the day was spent driving along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana to Texas. Over drawbridges, over high curved hurricane bridges and even on a ferry. Cameron has come a long way since we were here about 7 years ago although there are still many remnants of Rita’s devastation. Some people didn’t rebuild, some rebuilt huge new houses, more elevated double-wides or trailers to replace their homes and several just moved in a small travel trailer. I imagine it depended on what they had in savings and insurance and what they may have received from Fema. Even the PO is in a trailer and three towns and their zip codes have been consolidated into it. This covers at least 35 miles, with quite a few people—particularly in Grand Chenier. Yet the office is in Cameron—about 20 miles away. Yet, Thetford has five offices. The hours have been cut here as well as at home. The Postmistress commented to Bill—yes, they save money in the postal service to waste somewhere else.

Of course, as we moved along we saw interesting things like the big fish in front of a school—turned out to be S. Cameron HS and the fish is a tarpon. Lots of birds, pelicans, ducks, egrets, herons, spoon-billed something or others with pink feathers like a flamingo ! The entire day was perfect—sunny, no traffic, warm in the mid to high sixties. And then we came to Holly Beach which was totally gone the last time we were here—not one building of any sort—wiped out. As we arrived we were amazed at the number and size of the houses that have been built. Just then we noticed a beautiful young cat with strawberry fur. It was headed to the canal but at the very last moment shot out our way—Bill swerved and slammed on the brakes but we heard the sickening  sounds as both our wheels went over and tossed the cat about. Bill saw it rolling across the road and get up and limp under the truck parked in front of a trailer. Bill almost started to cry as we pulled over to turn around and tell the people what happened. He went to the door and as I watched the man pick up the limp body I just started to sob.  Thank goodness, the man and his wife were very forgiving—they said they have more cats than they can count and that they’ve tried to keep them off the road, which is quite busy but how does one keep cats from hunting and roaming. They told us it wasn’t our fault and it wasn’t but that doesn’t make us feel any better. One second we were looking at a pretty young cat walking across a field and the next second we saw it crawling away and dying. I’m not sure we said very much until we got to the outskirts of Lake Charles and I 10 which we took across the Sabine to Orange, Texas where we are spending tonight.

I’m eating in and Bill went out and grabbed a burger. I have to admit I felt somewhat cheered when I saw that the temperature is 72 degrees at sunset. I can take that and so can Bill. Maybe we haven’t wasted our money after all. Bets sent pix this morning of the storm at home—glad we missed it. back door after Feb 13-14 storm 2014She must have had a job getting that door open!  Don’t miss it at all. Now I’m off to a ham and cheese sandwich with a whoopee for desert. Take care, all! KandB

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ramblin’ Around Acadiana

Thursday February 13, 2014 Lafayette, La 7:25 PM CST

Hooray—sun! 56 degrees!  Time to check out Dynell’s map of Lafayette. Her directions were right on—of course, she grew up here and used to take the bus with her friends from their homes on Pinhook to Jefferson Blvd which is Lafayette’s main drag. I cannot believe how many times we’ve been here and have never known where downtown Lafayette was located. We saw Guidry’s Hardware, where, she assured us, we’d find things we haven’t seen in years. Not wanting any hardware we continued to Keller’s Bakery—where, Dynell said, we’d find all kinds of goodies. Spice cookies, oatmeal cookies, praline brownies!, whoopie pies with coconut cream, glazed donuts—that’s what we chose but oh, there was so much more, even though we were rather late for a bakery and much had been sold already. Would love a King cake but Bill wouldn’t like it and it is too big for just me. We drove all the way through town and then came back to Johnson—which is what Dynell said and wrote on the map, but which is actually Johnston. We passed up on Borden’s since it wasn’t really hot and we’ll save it for the next time we come when it may be ice cream weather. Apparently, it is  just like an old ice cream parlor with black and white tile floor and red seated wire chairs. For today, however, our goal was oyster lunch.

So we drove past LSU-Lafayette, and the Ragin’ Cajun dome to Lagnieux Seafood House. Heath was our waiter and was as cute as he looks—buzzing about and neat come-backs to make you laugh. Bill had a po’boy and I had the oyster plate—we both drank two huge glasses of sweet tea—such good stuff. Went next door to the meat market and purchased some more seasonings including file gumbo. Then back past LSU and out into the country.

Just outside St Martinville we noticed the Longfellow-Evangeline State Park—the oldest in La—established in 1934. The first family to own the property started out raising plants for indigo but eventually turned to cane and reached the most prosperous point in its history. During the Civil War, the Yankee army burnt the cane mill and the family was never able to recover financially. Finally, by the ‘30’s the building that was used as the business office for the cane operation and then converted into a home, was about the fall into disrepair. The State acquired it and established the park. Eventually, the Feds designated it a National Historical Site and so it is totally protected. Since none of the furniture was family pieces, since 8 families lived there after the original family. I didn’t take any inside pictures. I did, however, love seeing trees that are over 350 years old—witnesses to all that happened here and all who lived on this land. There was one piece of unusual furniture that I thought would still be a nice piece to have. It is a rocking chair with wings and closed seat area—it is a lady’s chair and was meant to be placed facing the fire. The sides would then keep the heat from the fire around the lady. When she finished her sewing or knitting or tatting etc there is a little drawer in which to stow her needles etc. So practical!

Out through the village to Brossard and back to Evangeline and our motel for a few hours. Around 5:30 we headed over to Poor Boy’s Riverside Restaurant to which I’ve been going since Linda and I came to New Orleans in 2004 or so. I’m amazed how Mardi Gras had now become a season rather than a day—it extends from the New Year to Ash Wednesday. I imagine the culmination of the season is impressive in some places but many have already had their parade—or will have several parades. Kind of takes away from the uniqueness in my opinion.

Another serving of fried oysters with a glass of Riesling and a wonderful sweet potato, finishing with a delicious cup of coffee. And then, back home under an almost full moon. Tomorrow we are going to ride the coast across the Sabine into Texas. So, from two people who will soon morph into oysters—good night and good luck. KandB

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dreary, Rainy and Cold


Wednesday, February 12,2014 Lafayette, La 2:30pm CST

What a day—started at 5:30 am our time, when the cell phone rang with Betsy’s calypso ring. Bill was not in the room and it was dark but I managed to get across the room and grab the phone before it went to voice mail. Bets woke up at 2 am freezing cold. She felt all the registers—barely warm. Temperature in the house had dropped to about 40 degrees—it was –19 outside. Feeling it was too early to call Dave Wurtz, she went about getting some heat—built a wood fire, turned on the space heater, turned on the oven, hung sheets across all the windows and between the mudroom and kitchen, emailed me and then waited until she thought it was an appropriate time to call him—6 am. He told her he’d be by after his first job but then called her back and said he’d be over in a few minutes. By this time she’d gotten the downstairs to 60 degrees. I’m proud of that kid.

When Dave got there she called us back and Bill and Dave talked. Dave said the motor had gone and he wasn’t sure where to get another. We had Roger Carpenter put it in but Roger is retired now and I’m not sure he stays in Vt in Winter, either. At any rate, Dave said he’d get something going—so Bets headed off to school and left him to it.

By this time it was 6 am here and I was wide awake so grabbed my loaf of pumpernickel bread and headed to the breakfast room for toast, coffee, juice and sausage. Came back to the room and looked out at the rain and the wind blowing the trees and the railroad guys showing up for class bundled up like Eskimoes and I asked Bill if he minded if I stayed in today. Read for awhile, took a nap and read some more. Wrote some postcards. Bill goes crazy just reading so he took a spin to Wal-Mart's—says it’s a big one. Brought back some chicken wings and cole slaw for lunch. And told me to go to Derek Jeter’s FB page—I didn’t even know that Derek had a FB page!!! lol

When I booted the computer up the first thing I saw was the MSN news feed! http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/in-kentucky-sinkhole-swallows-cars-at-corvette-museum/2014/02/12/883f4468-93fe-11e3-84e1-27626c5ef5fb_story.html  We have stood in that very spot—as a matter of fact, Smoky Pig is just down the road from the museum! Thank God, no one was in the showroom!

Then I went to Derek’s page and read his letter—he is so well spoken and the letter is beautiful. I’m glad he’s staying one more season but he’ll be missed. His skills are slipping so better he leave now than to have people talk about how bad he’s become. Nevertheless, he was always so level-headed and polite—a true gentleman on and off the field. I hope whatever he chooses to do next will bring him the same satisfaction as the last 20 years with the Yankees have and I’d like to see him get another ring as a going away present. I bet his team-mates will do their best to get it for him. No A-Rod garbage to detract from the Captain’s farewell—thank goodness.

So, no pictures today—back to my book. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and in the 50’s and Friday in the 60’s with sun. We’ll go out and explore then and get some more oysters!!!

Hoping the weather is better where you are and that you are keeping safe and warm. KandB

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

New Iberia, Louisiana

Tuesday February 11,2014  Second day at the Clarion Inn in Lafayette 4PM CST

Ohhhhhhhhh, cold and rainy!  38 degees and it poured all night. Today there were periods of drizzle and periods of deluge. Simply not a great day for tooling around but we have some favorite stops in New Iberia and decided to hit them, at least. Weather is supposed to improve tomorrow and we’ve got a few new places to check out. So, we’ll be spending another night. I do realize that complaining about rain and cold when some of you are getting buried in snow and below zero temps is a bit insulting, but we traveled a great distance to leave that behind and so far I’m not warm! Have to get the sweaters back out soon,

Our first stop –Konriko—which is the product name and the name of the company store. The rice mill, however, is still called Conrad Rice Mill because of its historical standing. It is the oldest continuous operating rice mill and it uses the belt driven power system that was installed in 1912.  We took a tour a few years back and it is fascinating. This visit had the same objective of our visit two years ago—to replenish the spices and sauces that we’ve depleted.

In addition, we picked up several shot glasses for our friend who collects them. I liked a pair of Mardi Gras Fleur de Lis earrings and two small porcelain dolls in Mardi Gras regalia. I also gathered up a selection of post cards—mostly for my photo albums –but also to send my sister and aunt. Betsy never picks up the mail—or rarely, so I don’t send them to her. I’ve sent Valentine’s Day cards that she has picked up in March along with her St Patrick’s Day card!

When we were checking out, we met and talked with Dynell La Biche—who told me how her first name was spelled and let me struggle with the surname—she was impressed when I asked if the Biche was capitalized. She also thanked me for asking before I opened a packet of a post cards that was labeled “50” with a date. It appeared to be part of their inventory system so I asked if she wanted me to take off the rubber band and the label if I removed a card. Seemed commonsensical to me! In addition, she explained the derivation of the Konriko name. Kon for Conrad, ri the first two letters of rice and ko for company. Mr Conrad named the brand before selling the mill to the Daniels, who own it now, he just changed the “C”’s to “K”’s.

Our conversation, Dynell, Bill and I,began with our sadness that it was so cold that we weren’t going to go out with Butch this year on the swamp. Not only is it cold but wet and damp and we know that the alligators don’t like it any better than we, so there’d be little to see. She agreed and said many tourists come and are very angry that they don’t see any alligators in La, but they don’t move and neither do crawfish when it is cold.

She then told us that she and her husband used to raise crayfish. She told us that some people raise them in the rice fields and others in ponds. They had a pond. She said that small alligators get into the ponds so you have to be careful when you put your hand in to get the traps. She also told us that her husband rigged up a PVC pipe gadget with holes in it, into which he’d dump the trap. The smaller crayfish would go through the holes and back into the pond and he’s toss the larger ones into the boat. One day she’s gathering traps with him and he tosses the bugs behind her and she looks back and there  is a snake. You wish you could have seen her tell us how she kept moving forward while looking backward to get away without tipping the boat. Moccasin, which is poisonous, though she said she could care less—she likes no snake. I caught her picture as she was telling another snake story—standing in the yard looking up at her sister in the window when she heard hisssssss. She looked down and there right next to her a big snake. Her sister asked what was wrong and she didn’t want to talk—didn’t want to attract that guy—he slithered under the garage and –here is where I got her—she said—a snake!!!!!

It was about this time I asked her name and she said that her husband is related to Evangeline—she was a La Biche. Dynell is related to many of the old Cajun families—she said she is Cajun through and through—Guidry, Thibodeau ( pronounced the French way –Tibodeau ), and DuFresne. She complimented us on getting the whole tradition of Arcadia in the shot glasses: one with the seafood, one with the Fleur de Lis, one with Konriko and one with a gator. I think Jeff will like them. She also told me that my earrings were new—they just came into the store yesterday.

She asked if we’d ever come to Mardi Gras and I said no, though I have no interest in New Orleans Mardi Gras, I’d really like to see the Courir de Gras of Arcadia. She said she thought Moumou might still do it. With that she got a brochure with all the Mardi Gras events in the area. My goodness, they start right after Christmas—no more just the day before Lent begins. As a matter of fact, when we stayed in Slidell they’d had a parade already.

( Watching the weather report—snow, sleet and freezing rain in the Carolinas and Atlanta again tomorrow. They are predicting power outages that could last for days. There will be freezing rain tonight in Opelousas which is just north of Lafayette—25 miles maybe. This is crazy stuff!)

By this time, we were old friends and Dynell whipped out a notepad and pen and started to tell us where to go in Lafayette to see the main drags. She grew up on Pinhook and said when she has oysters she goes to Shucks in Abbeville, which the bookstore man told us several years back. When she goes out to eat she goes to Ligneaux. I told her that we’d been told about Shucks before but not Ligneaux. Told her we go to Poor Boy’s—she nodded but didn’t comment. Not sure what that means but she says she goes to Ligneaux so I’m thinking we are going to try it tomorrow. She also mentioned Randol’s which I’ve never gone to—thinking it was like Mulate’s –lots of locals but lots of tourists too. The fact that she didn’t mention Mulate’s for Cajun music and dance makes me think we may have to check out Don’t know if we’ll do both this trip but one or the other. Bill wants to see the Syracuse game tomorrow so it will be hard to listen and watch at Randol’s at 6:30 when the game begins at 7! Borden’s Ice Cream Parlor, Keller’s Bakery, Guidry’s Hardware, museums—so many things and I want to go to Bayou Teche Brewery, too. May have to stay here for a week!!

What an absolute delight is Dynell. We bid her a reluctant farewell and headed up the main drag to Bojangles but not before stopping along the way and taking pictures of the Steamboat house, which is for sale—sigh—it’s neighbor on the Teche and a couple of cottages across the street. Then on the main street the Evangeline theatre and on the corner, Bojangles sushi bar where we each had a dozen oysters on the half shell. Our waitress, who is a local has never eaten either oysters or clams. He boyfriend loves oysters—told her to start with a fried oyster po’boy with the mayo and lettuce etc. She can progress to the raw ones.

Our final stop—Books on the Teche—I always buy a James Lee Burke here where he lived and wrote. The book lady told me that the Burke’s are in their 70’s and decided to stop keeping two homes, so they’ve sold their New Iberia home and moved to Missoula full-time. They have a daughter and grand children there and wanted to be closer. As she said, they never lack for a place to stay when they do visit Louisiana.  I love this store because it carries many Louisiana authors and I love finding books about the area by people familiar with it. As a matter of fact, Elizabeth Nell Dubus is James’ first cousin and is also in her 70’s. Apparently, as the lady put it, Elizabeth is putting things aside now. That includes writing. Books on the Teche has copies of the other two books in the trilogy and if I like her work they would be happy to send them to me. There was also another book, this one brand new, Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile. She will be at the store next week—I would go to see her but know we won’t be here. It sounds like an interesting book, in that it goes into the growing and processing of cane in addition telling a story of some of the families who grow it in a novel form. Will wait for the paperback but won’t forget since there is a note in my purse notebook.

By the end of our visit, the sky had opened up once again and we decided to head back to the motel—where it is warm. We crossed the street in front of Victor’s where I’ve never eaten. Linda and I back in 2007, I think it was,were looking desperately for someplace to lunch in New Iberia—nothing was open since it was past lunch and too early for dinner. A sign in Victor’s window said Dave Robicheaux eats here. I said, who the heck is Dave Robicheaux?  Had never read Burke at that point—heck,  hadn’t heard of James Lee Burke any more than I had of ole Dave! As for closing, even Bojangles is open 11-2 and then 5-10 so if you want late lunch you’d better pack a lunch at home.

We don’t live far from the airport where there is a huge fleet of helicopters which are used to shuttle the men and women out to the Gulf oil rigs. It appears to be a cargo airport—not much traffic and what I’ve seen has been cargo flights including Fed-Ex ships. Returned to our room, but kept the patio door closed though I pushed the curtains way back to enjoy the daylight. It is dusk now and the rain has stopped once more, but it isn’t over until tomorrow afternoon. Oh, well, NCIS, NCIS-LA and Person of Interest are on tonight so we’ll be happy. Well, I will be anyway—Bill won’t make it all the way through them.

So, on that note, I’ll close once more wishing you all a safe and warm evening—KandB