How Was It?

This is what people have been asking since Jim and I got back from our trip. In early November, we took a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida for a 4 day Smooth Jazz Concert and then drove to Miami for an 8 day trip to Italy. There was apprehension about both aspects of the trip. Going into Florida scared the bejeezus out of me.

The concert took place in a resort and was indoors. All meals and accommodations were included. Meals were buffet-style with large round tables set up for eating. So between the concert seating ( assigned seats) and meals, we had a lot of close interaction with strangers. Mask wearing was required. Ha! This was Florida and I would assume the majority of people attending were from somewhere in the state, based on my conversations with others. So that meant clearly half of the people wore no masks. Ever! While I enjoyed the concerts, there was always this nagging thought that one of the thoughtless people around us, laughing and talking, would pass the virus onto us. So, I just kept my fingers crossed.

Prior to leaving Daytona, we had made an appointment to get Covid tests in order to get on the airplane (you had to have a negative result) and to be allowed to enter Italy. Most people that live here don’t realize the U.S. is considered by the world as a high-risk country. AND they don’t really want us visiting unless we can prove we won’t harm them. So I stressed over the fact that one of those mask-less people infected one of us and our test would come back positive. We got the test on Sunday and were flying out Tuesday evening and arriving in Italy Wednesday morning. We had to have negative results no more than 72 hours before arriving. I kept doing math in my head. Did I do it right?

Yippee! Our results were negative! We were also required to fill out and submit a “locator form” so the authorities there could keep track of us should we become positive while there. I must say that I was so impressed that everyone we saw in Miami had a mask on. What a difference from the concert. A highlight of our time there was a visit to the Holocaust Memorial. I’ll leave that for another post.

We boarded our flight after showing our passport, Covid vaccination card, our negative test result, and our locator form. Jim sprung for upgrades to business class so we were able to have the seat turn into beds for sleeping. You gotta love that guy! But, we had to have our masks on the entire time. Asleep or not. If it fell down, you would get a shake from the attendant to pull up your mask. Also, it was announced that alcohol would be limited to one drink a meal. Judging from the news we hear, good idea!

Once we landed in Milan, we fully expected to go through passport control and customs. But … I don’t know what happened. They all took a break at the same time but we just kept walking and discovered we were out in the public area and never showed anyone anything.

In Italy, everyone wore a mask. Everyone! You had to have a mask on in the hotel and show your covid card. You had to wear masks to get the train, go into a restaurant, museum, everywhere. And you had to show proof of vaccination. It might seem like a bother, but it made you feel safer. I mentioned to the bartender in our hotel that everyone had masks on. He told me they lost a lot of people, but were 90% vaccinated now.

We had a good time while there and made some new friends, most notably, Oscar and Nellie from El Paso. But in the back of my mind, I was still concerned about all those mask-less people at the concert. Would either one of us be positive for our test to get back in the U.S? The morning we were heading back to Milan, we walked down the block to the pharmacy to get tested. It was a rapid test and we got the results in 10 minutes. $15 Euros… not bad.

We had a final evening and dinner with our friends and boarded our separate planes the next day to head home. It was a fun trip.

After all the worrying I did about tests, etc. I decided it wasn’t that big a deal. And once doing something, the next time is a piece of cake, right? Enter, Omicron. Just in time for a cruise we’re taking on January 2nd and a trip to Switzerland I’m doing at the end of January. More worry. will the cruise be safe or will it be like the concert? Will the trip to Switzerland be postponed or canceled? Will things ever become normal? Or even a new normal?

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

I grew up in Pittsburgh, an ethnic city. I miss that…the ethnicity. I think of the restaurants my husband and I loved. Too many Italian restaurants to single out. A Middle-Eastern one, Samreny’s that had the best food. Then there was a Jewish deli that I visited after every obstetrician visit after having starved myself since the previous appointment.

My friends ran the spectrum of ethnicities. Some I knew their backgrounds, some I didn’t. It didn’t matter; they were friends.

My father had a lot of dislikes. He didn’t like Italians, Irish, English, German and the Serbians. He was Croatian. My Uncle Mike was that damned Serbian. If I mentioned a new friend, his first question would be, “What nationality is he/she?”. I was absolutely forbidden to date Italians. (My aunt had gotten pregnant by an Italian and in those days it was such a disgrace. She got an abortion from a back-alley butcher and was never able to have children). I dated them anyway, but had to meet them up the road. I had thought all that died with his generation. I was wrong. It appears to have resurfaced stronger than ever. Really as vocal as my dad was at home about other nationalities, I believe he would be saddened by what we see and hear now. I don’t believe in his heart he really hated any of those people from long ago.

Last week, my family got together for a picnic to celebrate birthdays at a park that has a sunflower field. A two or three acre one, I believe. We were sitting at a picnic table by the sunflowers and near a large swing set. It was pretty busy with all the kids swinging. My 12 year old grandson went over to join in the fun. The boys his age were all black. It didn’t matter to him nor them. They had a good time together. I felt there was hope for our country after all.

And then on Tuesday I watched the House Committee on the January 6 attack on our Democracy. And I listened to the stories the policemen told about their experiences with the hate and violence that occurred. I didn’t actually cry. It was more like my eyes kept leaking. What have we become?

Afterward, I went onto the Fox News Facebook page to see if they were covering it. I could be very mistaken, but as I recalled, when the riots were occurring, they weren’t covering it much. I don’t have cable, so the Facebook page was my only source. I was surprised, although I shouldn’t have been, that the only comments people were making were sarcastic remarks about no one wearing masks. Really? Nothing about the testimonies at all? Nope.

Today on my news page, I listened to the voicemail Officer Fanone got from an absolutely hateful person. Hateful. How angry and hateful must someone be to take the time to leave such a vile message? What a menace someone like that is! And he probably has multiple guns. I hope they are able to track that call and take his guns away before he harms innocent people.

So my optimism of last week has just blown up. I hate to think of the world we are leaving for my grandchildren. Does anyone have any hope that this will change? Boy, do I ever need hope. Do you have any suggestions on where I might find some?

How I’ve Spent This Past Year

We’ve gotten this far, we can’t blow it now! Can you believe it? March 2020 when I got off the plane from Morocco, I never expected I’d be looking May 2021 in the face with us still not having defeated this virus.

It brings me great happiness every time I read of any requirement for a vaccine certificate or passport for travel … or any kind of fun, really. And I do have to admit this ugly truth about myself, every time someone referred to me as “sheeple” or stated that if I wanted to live in fear I could stay home, but they were going to live their lives … I wished the virus on them. Not to the point of death, but to make them sick enough to bargain with God. I’m a live and let live person, except when someone else feels it’s their right to infringe on my right to live a happy, healthy life. Then my benevolence ends real quick.

Okay, confession over. So what exactly did I do all those days and months. Not much, really. I’m sure you can relate. For the first number of months, I didn’t see my kids and grandkids. We live 5-30 minutes apart, but we didn’t want to chance it. So little was known about this virus that it wasn’t worth endangering any of us. But, eventually, we relaxed a little and got together for picnics wearing our masks. And Jim and I continued to travel the Interstate to hang with each other. He knew I wasn’t around anyone (other than my kids, who weren’t around anyone) and I knew he wasn’t either. He’s about as much of a hermit as I am.

We lamented all our planned trips, cruises, and concerts getting canceled. We spent a lot of time daydreaming about when we’d be able to do those things again. A real lifesaver for me was the live streams from some of my favorite musicians. If I missed them live, I could catch them on YouTube. Daryl Hall and Cee Lo Green doing “I Can’t Go For That”.

Live from Daryl's house episode 52 with Cee-Lo Green - Bright Lights Bigger City

I watched that one too many times to count. Then there was Brian Culbertson’s “Colors of Love” concert live from Las Vegas.

Once again, too many times to count. I still watch Brian every Friday night for The Hang. It’s a one hour concert he does from his home.

So much for the fun. In August, Jim bought a mobile home to rehab. It was in his neighborhood and the second time he did this particular one. After money changed hands and the title transferred, they had two days to move out. This is how it looked after they vacated.


To say we wanted to turn around and run is putting it mildly. I guess they didn’t want to take everything with them. Some stuff we sold, some we gave away, some we kept, but most was taken to the dump. We came to realize that in our late 70s, we couldn’t work like we did in our earlier 70s. So it took us a whole lot longer to get it all done. But we prevailed. It got done and unless the sale falls through, it’s sold. It took us six months, but we didn’t have anything else to do and nowhere to go. Pandemic activity. Unless Jim develops amnesia about this project, he says it’s his last. Back to refurbishing and repairing golf carts. Woo … makes me a happy camper.

In June we will head up to Connecticut and Cape Cod to get together with Jim’s kids. He hasn’t been with them since 2019. I know he’s very excited. I’ve never been to Cape Cod and I’m anxious to see it. It’s one of the places I’ve always wanted to visit.

Provincetown, Cape Cod, Wharf, Sunset

Last but not least, last night I got to see my grandson pitch in his baseball game. I missed his first one and the second one got rained out.

It’s great being a grandparent! You get to attend the games but don’t have life all disrupted by practices and so forth like when your kids were young. Then again, when I look back on my life, those were some of the best times. Life is getting better by the day.

Waa … I want to travel!

I’m a three-quarter hermit. While the pandemic has really affected many, it hasn’t been a problem for me as regards being stuck in the house. I just really don’t go outdoors much. I even joined a gym because I can exercise indoors. Not that I even go there much. And not at all while it was closed because of covid-19. And actually, truth be told … I haven’t been there since it opened.

What do I really miss? Travel! Big time. Since my last post, you know that I was a participant in the Pfizer clinical trial for the vaccine. They notified me in February that I had, indeed, received the vaccine and not the placebo. I went in March for them to draw blood looking for antibodies, I suppose. Jim became fully vaccinated in March, so we’re ready. But, I still don’t feel comfortable going to any of the hotspots … Florida, Georgia, Texas, Michigan, etc. Too many people feel no responsibility to help keep others safe. Don’t want their personal rights infringed upon.

We have reserved a weekend in Daytona Beach for a 4 day Smooth Jazz concert in November. Since I got my shots in July/August 2020, I hope I will still be protected with antibodies. I do feel comfortable that if my blood draw in March shows my antibodies weakening, I will be notified to get a booster. Fingers crossed.

We just booked a Smooth Jazz cruise out of Amsterdam next May 2022. So far off! I want to go now! I keep telling myself a year isn’t sooo far off.

The travel company we have used for our travels the past number of years, Gate 1, has started booking tours again but the prices are so high! Much higher than we’ve paid before. And Europe is such a virus hotspot that I’m not comfortable even considering it. Being crammed into a plane for all the hours it takes to get across the ocean with people who may or may not be carriers is darn right scary. Getting a temperature check doesn’t insure that in an hour you won’t become sick.

This brings me to a comment I heard David Brooks make on the PBS News Hour. He is a Republican conservative writer for the New York Times. For all you who believe PBS only promotes far-left liberal ideology … well, you are wrong. He’s on a segment on the Friday broadcasts and I hate to miss it. On this particular one, they were discussing the vaccine passports. Should we have them … should we not. He was all for having them. His reasoning was that if people are taking the virus seriously and doing what is needed to be done to get this pandemic under control, they should get perks … rewards. We should be the ones allowed on planes. We should be the ones to go to sporting events. We should be the ones to eat out in restaurants, etc. Those who don’t want to do their part should have to stay home and miss out. Right on, David! I’m tired of people who feel my rights don’t equal theirs. That I should respect their right to infect everyone, but I should just stay home if I’m afraid of getting sick. Afraid of getting a needle stuck in your arm? SUCK IT UP. It’s not going to kill you, but the virus might.

I’ll fill you in on what fun I’ve had this past year. It wasn’t rollicking, but it did use up time! Till then ……

This was unexpected … the emotion, I mean

Back in July, I received an email from a clinical research company I had registered with back around 2003. This time they were looking for participants in a study for a vaccine for Covid-19. I thought about it for a few days. I’m in the high-risk group, having turned 77 with diabetes, high blood pressure (under control, generally), overweight, allergies, etc.Could this cause me some serious side effects? Could I die?

After my deliberation, I responded to the email. My appointment was set for early August. A four-hour appointment! I was interviewed and given a physical exam. My questions were answered as regards: the safety of it. Operation Warp Speed had me worried. I didn’t want any shortcuts taken with the study. My well-being was at stake.

It was explained to me that unlike normal procedures for approving a vaccine, this one was being handled differently. Generally, the drug company waits until they are all done with the study, then turns everything over to the FDA. With this study, the FDA would know on a daily basis what was happening. That was where the Warp Speed was coming into play. The FDA was always aware of what was happening so when the study basically finished, the FDA didn’t have to start at the beginning. Okay … No shortcuts!

With the thought in mind that people were dying or becoming horribly sick, some with lasting health issues, I decided if we were going to win this battle, people needed to step up and I might as well be one of them. So I agreed to move forward. It was explained to me that I would either receive the vaccine or the placebo. The only people who knew who got what was the person sitting at a computer assigning to a participant’s number the vaccine or placebo and the nurse giving the shot. (Evidently, the vaccine in the vial looks a little different than the placebo).I got the shot with faith that I would come out of this experiment just fine.

I went back for the second shot about three weeks later. Both times, I got a sore arm and a slight fever. The fever lasted a day. My arm took a few more.

The following month, October, I went in for them to draw blood, only. I go back in March for more blood draws.Through all of this, I have read and listened to all the people declaring why they couldn’t or wouldn’t wear masks. And all the people whining about the businesses being closed and how they couldn’t get their hair and nails done, go to restaurants or bars, movies, gyms, and vacations. Waaaa, waaaa. Me, me, me. Now, what am I hearing? “I don’t think I’m going to get the vaccine.” It’s safe. I took a chance when there were questions. And people don’t think they’ll get it!

So on the news this morning when I saw the FedEx truck pulling away from the loading dock with the vaccine, I bawled … for me and all those who caught it before help was on the way. I’m still crying. I took part in something worthwhile. I’m sorry if you don’t get it. I’m sorry you don’t take it seriously.

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?

So today I did a little something different. I volunteered for the first time with Activate Good. I signed up for the 1:00-3:30 shift at A Place at the Table; a restaurant in downtown Raleigh. They serve meals to people who pay, as well as those who are a little down on their luck. There is paid staff who do the cooking, baking and taking the orders and money. The rest of us are volunteers doing things like bussing tables, delivering orders to the tables, wrapping silverware in napkins and then the mopping, etc. I was very impressed with the concept and everyone I interacted with today.

I plan to do this more often. But, yikes! What I went through today getting there. From my house, it is a straight shot to downtown…15-20 minutes. Well, there was major road reconstruction downtown which necessitated a detour, which was very backed up. I wasn’t stressed at that point as I left home in plenty of time. And I found the restaurant with Vno problem. The issue? Parking!

There is no longer on street parking that is free. That still wasn’t an issue. But …there were no empty spaces — anywhere. Up this street, down that street, no luck. Now normally when I go downtown, it’s to protest in front of my Senator’s office. You might have heard of him, Thom Tillis. His office is in the Federal Building on the other side of town and beyond all the hubbub. So this parking issue today was new to me.

As I made my fourth pass around the area of the restaurant, I saw a parking lot! I pulled in only to discover you had to go online and follow the directions on the sign. It didn’t appear that they were that easy to follow because there was quite a crowd there who didn’t seem to be having much success.

At this point, being stressed and late, I pulled back out and began driving around some more. Wait! There was a parking garage and luckily there was no one behind me since I had to back up to get in the entrance. Parked my car and headed to the stairs only to see a sign on the door to take your ticket. Back to the car to get the ticket. Back at the stairs, I read further and realized I would need my credit card to pay. Back to my trunk to get the card out of my purse. Oh my gosh, l was so late at this point.

The restaurant wasn’t that far away and after apologizing profusely, I got to work. I met some nice people and left feeling that I would definitely do this again. Back at the parking garage, I was unable to locate the lobby the sign referenced. Now I began my journey up and down in the elevator. If there was a lobby, I sure couldn’t find it. Throwing up my hands, I decided I would just create a situation when I tried to get out. I didn’t care how many people I might hold up. I would just play the confused old lady role. I’ve actually gotten good at that … one of the perks of old age.

I got to the exit and there was a man taking the ticket and card. You know, the kind of machine you use to exit many parking garages and lots. The do it yourself type? I don’t know why he was there, but I am glad he found employment. It cost me an extra hour of parking for 4 minutes! Next time I’ll know.

Boy, I Wish I Had Your Life!

This is something I imagine those of you who love to travel hear quite often.  Or at least. those of you who will spend more than your last dollar on a trip.  This line was said to me on our return from a trip to Italy in February. It was the same one we took last year.  We did some different things and some of the same things. And I learned what I did wrong when I tried to duplicate the anchovy and capers pizza. You shouldn’t use the whole can of anchovies!

Prior to leaving, I was having some health issues. After seeing a specialist, I was given a regimen to follow and an appointment to come back in a few months.  The day before we left, the office called to set up an appointment ASAP. Well, heck, I wasn’t going to cancel the trip.  So I went and assumed it would be my last trip … ever.  I’m a terrible patient and was convinced I probably only had a few months to live. So I drank a lot of wine!

I went to the doctor the day after we got back and got scheduled for additional tests.  Then two days later, came down with the flu. Kind of got over that and went for the new test.  The result? Nothing major wrong.  Go enjoy your life!  Yea! Well, I guess I can stop writing my eulogy and get back to my blog post.

Enter a teenage granddaughter and all the angst, trouble, worry and bad attitude only they seem to be able to create. So now I find myself on a new set of worries.  Am I having fun yet? Not quite, but I’m trying. Really trying. I must remember — I was never promised a rose garden.

So back to the Italy trip. Our first night in town, Montecatini Terme, we went to the pizza place where I got hooked on the anchovy-capers pizza. Had it again and studied it fully.  I haven’t tried it at home yet, but I have my can of anchovies and the cheese. I had it again in another restaurant for our Valentine’s dinner. Romantic, huh? I saw it on quite a few menus, so I guess this is a common pizza in Italy, much like Hawaiian pizza is here in the U.S.  Not the most popular, but on most menus.

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We did a day trip to Florence again. I love that city but this time I wanted to wander around and shop, which caused a lot of whining from Jim. We didn’t wander so much as we were lost. We had a little map we bought, but it was obviously beyond our ability to follow it. We’d go straight when we should have gone left. Went left when we should have gone right.  You get the picture. We were trying to find a particular open air market.  It might have been easier if I hadn’t left the tour book I borrowed from the library in the seat pocket on the plane. I couldn’t remember the name of the market or exactly where it was located. I had to try to rely on my memory. Yeah, that worked out real well for us. 

Finding ourselves almost back where we began, we decided we needed to have some wine and maybe some food.  We happened upon a place on the back side of the Duomo. We were able to people watch and a group of musicians set up shop and entertained everyone for a while. Bet you think they were playing Italian songs! Nope. Irish!

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After our consumption of food and drink we decided to head back to the train station feeling sorry for the fact we were unable to locate the market. We got up and after a little discussion … should we go left , right, up or down, we chose up and left.   Lo and behold, there was the market. Finding a really cute purse, I talked the guy down to a really good deal and was pleased with my crack bartering skills.  I plan to use the purse sometime before I leave this Earth. I just am not one of those women who change their purse much.  I pretty much carry the same one until it falls apart. As I was putting it in my closet back at home, I decided I probably could have bought it at Kohl’s for the same price! Haha! Let’s just think of it as a souvenir.

We made a return trip to Lucca, having liked it when we were there before during a rain storm. Since it was a nice day, we figured we could enjoy walking around without getting soaked.  And walk we did.  Stumbling on our way out of the old walled city, we happened upon an outdoor cafe and decided to once again, have some wine and food. Something felt familiar about the place and then I realized we had eaten at the same place the last time, except we ate inside because of the rain!

The next day, we took a taxi to Montecatini Alto, which sits high on the hill above Montecatini Terme.  There is a funicular (incline) that runs up to it, but it didn’t operate in February. We had heard some good things about it and it was well worth the afternoon visit. We walked around the little streets and found the ambiance enjoyable.

Once again, time for libations. And some food. And I must say, the proprietors were always very charming.

That night we were attending a dinner, olive oil presentation and wine tasting at a local farm.  There were about 40 of us.  We might have had too good of a time because regardless of the amount of wine consumed there, we met back at our hotel and had more until 2:30 a.m. Our immature behavior caused us to have to forgo our plans to go to Sienna the next day.  Irene couldn’t get out of bed early enough to get the train for the 3 hour trip there and then back again.  No Problem. We decided to go to Pisa, which was much closer.

Rick Steves said Pisa was just too touristy, but we didn’t find that to be so.  We really liked it. On our last trip a number of people told us they liked it, so we figured maybe Rick was wrong.  We were glad we went. It was quite a walk from the central train station to the Leaning Tower, but we really liked the shopping area we passed through. Lots of shops and cafes. I stepped into a little shop to get a pin for my visor (a Leaning Tower) and the gentleman in the store was so charming.  He had a million questions about the U.S.  It was his dream to some day come for a visit. How can you not love these people? We continued on our way and there was the Tower in the distance.  Very impressive.  It sat right next to a huge church. The whole complex is called Campo dei Miracoli. It was getting a little late and the crowds were pretty great, so we chose not to go to the top.  Not that we would have even if there was no crowd.  Our stair climbing days to that extent, are definitely over! I don’t know why I was surprised, it is true in most places nowadays around any monuments, but the guards with their guns highlighted the fact that it’s a different world, sadly.

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I knew we had seen it in the distance as we were coming on the train, so rather than walk back to the central station, we made our way to the station I had seen it from on our way there. Well, as we are wont to do, we disagreed on whether there was a train station that way.  But being the very adamant person I tend to be, we pushed on and there the station was. Not being sure what train to take we asked a couple and the fellow looked it up on his phone and told us to take the same one they were taking, which necessitated changing trains in Lucca.  Meh. Well, we saw a train going to Florence and chose to take that one. Don’t ask me why … remember I was hung over. We got on the train heading in the wrong direction. We ended up back in the main central Pisa station. Jim insisted we were going the right way while I insisted it was the wrong way. It wasn’t too long before he agreed. Too late!

The stations we were stopping at didn’t look very nice and we didn’t want to get off and wait around for a train to take us back where we came from, so we decided to just stay on and once we got to Florence we’d just get a train back to Montecatini. Boy how I wish we had taken the train to Lucca. It got dark and the train got crowded. And I began to worry about a conductor coming through.  We very seldom saw them on the trains checking tickets, but they do pop up every so often.  I knew we didn’t have a ticket to Florence and I didn’t know what the repercussion might be. Well — he came by! The tickets we originally bought to get from Pisa to Montecatini cost $12, I believe. Well, he told us there would be a little adjustment to the price to Florence. Ha! It was $24 more dollars. Damn! But, what the heck, we eventually got back home.  Our only regret was that it was dark and we couldn’t see the countryside!

The next day, we made our way on the train to Milan to catch the plane back to JFK. Four of our favorite drinking buddies were staying in the same hotel, the Ibis Milano Malpensa Aeroporto. We had a good last night partying with them and the restaurant, which didn’t open until later, turned out to have great food.  Jim said his lasagna was the best he ever had!  Who would have thought?  Both couples were flying out in the morning … one to Nashville, TN and the other to Santa Barbara, CA.  We weren’t flying out until late afternoon, so we didn’t get to fly with them. Maybe, we’ll catch up with them on another Gate 1 trip.

Back home, fun and games were over.  Back to reality!

It’s the Small Things, Really

It was just after Christmas and my son, grandson and I decided to tour Historic Oakwood near downtown Raleigh to see some of the decorated historic houses. We’re so used to developments where all the houses are one of a choice of a few models, it was so interesting to see variety in architecture like these house styles.

It was still daylight, so if any had elaborate lighting, I was not privy to it. The simplicity of the exterior decorations were delightful.

But first, I had to meet them in the Historic Oakwood Cemetery. I know … my grandson wanted to go there. Go figure. It isn’t the kind of place you think a nine year old would want to go. It was my first time there and it was huge. And I think I drove every inch of it looking for my family. Finally, I made the decision to text them to get a clue. “Where are you?” I still wasn’t sure where to go, but luckily I happened upon them. Since they weren’t near their car, they jumped in the back seat. Once we exited the cemetery, I parked the car and we began our exploration.

I must say, I enjoyed it more than I expected. Some of the houses had no decorations, while others were noteworthy. One even was over the top … one my grandson said was inappropriate for Christmas. It had a huge dinosaur about 10 feet tall, with a reindeer in it’s mouth. I had to agree. I didn’t take a picture of it. Dang.

As it began to get colder, we made the decision to head toward my son’s car. My grandson was cold and tired of walking around. So as I left them, I refused the offer of a ride back to my car. After all the goodies I had eaten over the previous few days, I needed the exercise. As I was heading back, it dawned on me that I had no clue where I had parked. Now what do I do? At this point, I knew my son would already be out of downtown. And it being the end of the business day, I didn’t want him to have to turn around to get me, so I just forged on. Down this street, over onto that street. Dang, where the heck was I?  I knew if I could find the dinosaur house, I’d be able to find my car. Unfortunately, nothing looked familiar. I began to have visions of calling 911.  Do they send help to senior citizens who have managed to get themselves lost? When what to my wondering eyes should appear? The house with the dinosaur eating the reindeer! Ho! Ho! Ho! I turned left and voila! This was the street. I’d seen these houses before. Heading down the block, I felt the urge to give my car a hug. Or at least a pat. After getting in my car and driving off, believe it or not … I got lost. But this time, I had GPS. Whew!


And the trip goes on …

You might think when we arrived in Laguna Beach, CA we chose to spend our time sitting on the beach, jumping in the waves, etc. But, you would be wrong. When I moved to San Diego in 1980, I entered the Pacific Ocean and my feet and ankles froze. The water was frigid! In July, no less. How did they film all those movies with Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon cavorting in the ocean?  Needless to say, I never went back in again. So, on this trip, I held to my conviction.  No, I did not go in the water.  Jim did attempt to convince himself that he was mistaken on our last trip out there that the water wasn’t as cold as he remembered.  He was wrong.  It was.

So, we wandered around town, did laundry, went shopping and mostly sat on our deck and watched the goings on at the gas station across the street. 0930181558[3053]If you think that last part was boring, it was not. Actually, there were two gas stations … one on each corner. One was much busier than the other, both on the same side of the street, and both had the same prices. The one that had been renovated and had a newer convenience store was the busier one, even though many of the people did not enter the store. We even watched one man wash his entire car from the bucket that holds the windshield scrubber brush, with the brush!

After a week of rest and with clean laundry, we packed up the car and headed north along the coast. We chose to take the Pacific Coast Highway up to San Francisco, rather than the interstate. Our first stop, Santa Barbara.  When I lived out there, I had a hard time liking this city.  I have no idea why, but it took me years to decide that I did, in fact, like it. And it is a great city.  Having been disappointed at how Santa Fe, and Taos, NM had changed, I was worried about how we would find Santa Barbara.  Would it be filled with all the chain stores and restaurants?  Would the wharf still have its character? It did!1004181525a1004181525c1004181523a[3051]The chains were around, I suppose.  But, not in the downtown historic area. Since it sits on a hill, facing the ocean, it wasn’t surrounded by 2018 sameness. We loved it and enjoyed the wharf. If we hadn’t had so much territory to cover before we got back home, we would have stayed here some additional nights.

Much as we hated to leave, we knew if we didn’t continue on we would still be on this trip at Christmas. We wound our way along the coast and then … Big Sur! IMG_0996You absolutely cannot visit California without driving Big Sur. It’s a must see/do. I happened to be the driver which gave Jim the opportunity to take pictures and say, “Wow!” A lot! I had always been the passenger in previous trips. This was an experience for me too! All those curves and narrow turns. Enough to make me car sick! Even so, I felt disappointed when we got to the end of this stretch of Coast Highway. I’ve read recently that it’s most fun and scary to drive north to south because then you are actually driving with the cliff on your side.  For us, we were on the inside lane, against the hill. I didn’t have to worry about falling off the cliff, just scraping the side of the car on the dirt and rocks.1005181136b

As we came into Carmel-by-the-Sea, I didn’t recognize it. I still can’t figure out where I had wandered around before.  Nothing looked familiar. We didn’t really stay long. Lots of traffic and parking was difficult.  And … lots of tourists. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know I dislike places that are filled with tourists. Yes, I know I am one. I’m not really into shopping, which was a good part of the activity in town. I think when I was younger I liked shopping much more.  Now I think of where am I going to put it?  Or will I really wear it? Really takes the fun out of it. And I’ve never been into window shopping.  Online retailers love me! So we looked around for a bit and then headed out. It’s a very scenic place and if you’re ever in the area, I encourage you to visit it. Don’t let my issues dissuade you.  It was actually a very lovely, charming place.

On to the Bay area.  We decided to call ahead to reserve a room in San Francisco.  The image of us being able to just pull up to the hotel front door and get a room, as we had been doing, was unrealistic.  My son lived up there for years and I knew that wasn’t going to happen. Wow!  Most all of the chains we called were either booked up or only had rooms in the high $300 to low $400 range. No, thank you. So we reserved a room in the East Bay on the BART line, which is the rapid transit train system to get around the area. We decided it would be easier to take the train into the city instead of trying to find and pay to park.  Boy were we ever glad we did! What a breeze! I didn’t have any trouble buying our tickets at the kiosk, but I did have a bit of difficulty figuring out how to get the turnstile to open.  Luckily, Jim was watching other people while I was being thoroughly confused and holding up the progress. Voila! Once he showed me what to do, no problem.  I’m a quick learner!

When we came up out of the train station, we were shocked! What a crowd of humanity! Why were there so many people there?  Then we found out.  It was a 3 day weekend–who knew?  When you’re retired, you don’t pay attention to things like that. And it was Fleet Week and the Blue Angels were performing that afternoon. We can really pick our times to visit, can’t we?  Could anything else have been going on then? And it was hot! Too hot!  As I remember, the Bay Area was seldom hot. We found ourselves walking in unison up the street with the millions of others who were doing the same. Jim hates walking and I hate walking in a crowd. So, we decided to catch a bus to take us up to Fisherman’s Wharf, but every one that came by was full.  Eventually, one came by that had room. Thank you, Jesus!  As we were waiting, three latter elementary – middle school age children were sitting on the only bench at the stop — in some shade.  I kept thinking their dad would use that moment as a “teaching courtesy moment” and offer the bench to the senior citizens.  But, no dice. If that had been my son, I would have smacked him upside the head and told him he was brought up better.  Hah!

We went into a restaurant and had beers while we waited for the Blue Angels to start their performance.  We threaded our way to the front of the crowd (pays to travel overseas where you learn to push and shove) and were rewarded with a spectacular view of a wonderful performance. They never cease to impress.  Absolutely remarkable!  None of our pictures turned out because they flew by too fast.

We decided to take a Hop-on-Hop-off bus (knockoff) to have an easier time getting around the city.  Wrong!  There was so much traffic that the bus couldn’t move. And couldn’t move. Suddenly, we heard our driver say, “What the f**k is that M***f***r doing?”, at a car blocking our path.  We surmised that he had forgotten he was mic’d or maybe he just didn’t think it mattered.  Actually, he did a fair bit of yelling out his window at people. But, I can tell you it was the funniest part of our trip.  I still laugh when I think of it. It was a good day despite the crowds. We got back to our hotel late; tired but happy, but not before I scared the bejesus out of the bus driver.  We weren’t sure what stop we needed to get off.  Things looked different at night and reversed. So … I walked up to ask her to tell us when to get off and when she felt me beside her, she jumped out of her seat.  We had a good laugh then, with me apologizing profusely. We still had some money left on our transit passes and didn’t want it to go to waste, so I handed them to a lady to use.  She didn’t speak much English and I didn’t understand Portuguese or whatever, so I did my best to pantomime.  I wonder if she ever got what I was saying and did she use the passes.

Revising our route, we headed back south to Yosemite National Park.  If we had kept to  our original plan, we would have encountered snow along our original route. And that I did not want. This turned into a long day. Once again, crowds. On the roads! Hey, this was off-season.  What must it have been like during the summer?  We drove along in a line of cars and were rewarded with some spectacular scenery and views.

I watched an interview later with a park ranger who said fewer people were taking multi-day trips. Now they were visiting on day trips. And they were! We stopped at a gas staion so I could use the bathroom.  As I was walking back to the car, an Asian woman was trying to get Jim to understand what she wanted.  When I got there, she rushed over to me with her park map.  She wanted to know which direction to go to see the sights in the big pictures at the top of the page.  I didn’t have the heart or the language skill to tell her she’d never get there before dark. She didn’t understand a word of English. I hope she asked someone else after we left.

As we made our way out of the park, I realized there wasn’t a large enough town neaby that would have a hotel for us to stay in for the night. So we had to drive a little longer than we wanted and spent the night in Mammoth Springs. It was dark, a Sunday, and a lot of places were closed so we didn’t have many choices for dinner.  We found a sports bar and had what turned out to be a more expensive meal than I imagined sports bar fare to be. When I think about it, most of our dinners were costly. Maybe it was the scotch and wine that contributed to the bill.  Haha!

Our plan was to go to Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon National Park.  In studying my beloved maps, I couldn’t find a route that wasn’t on those really skinny black lines that showed a road, but you just knew you didn’t want to go on any of them.  I’m sure you know the ones I mean.  So we let the Garmin map the route. We had to go further south, which bothered me because Zion and Bryce were north.  But, hey, we threw caution to the wind! Sometimes you just have to give up control!

South of Bishop, CA we turned east at Big Pine onto Ancient Bristlecone Pine Road.  This took us through the Inyo National Forest.  There is a tree called Methuselah that is 4850 years old.  It isn’t marked so as to prevent vandalism.  Sad, isn’t it that we need to protect things like this from vandals? At any rate, we weren’t high enough to encounter it.  1008181127[3023]If we weren’t kissing our butt on the curves or slowly navigating through one lane blind curves, we were on flat, far as you could see straight ahead, roads.  Jim loved it!  I think I let him get up to 90 mph, but I wouldn’t agree to 100 mph.  It’s all he talked about for days. I guess in hindsight, I should have let him do 100.

After heading south to Las Vegas and then north again, we spent the night in St. George, Utah in a brand new Hampton Inn. We drove to a Walmart where I stocked up on heavier clothing. I’m glad I did because I sure needed them as the days progressed. The hotel was serving complementary snacks when we got back from our shopping expedition, so that was our dinner. This was a good thing because there wasn’t any other option nearby. I think it was Jim’s night to pay for dinner.  Dang!

Next morning, Zion!  If you have never been there, it’s a must see! Just beautiful! I must say, we have such a diverse country. IMG_1194 (1)There were several tunnels we had to drive through.  The first one we encountered, I was driving.  The Park Ranger who was directing traffic, made me stop. I was first in the new line.  There was a crosswalk on the pavement and I stopped too far forward … about a foot.  She made me back up that foot.  There weren’t any people walking around because there was a cliff on one side and a hill on the other. But, I backed up the foot … or 6 inches.  Hey, she was in charge.  The only reason we could see for traffic to have to stop was that it appeared to be one way going through the tunnel when a large RV needed to come through.  The tunnel opening wasn’t so high or wide, so the RV would have needed all the space. Interesting. 1009181326[3019]1009181224a[3021]The scenery was various shades of red, as were the roads. Just beautiful! 1009181217We weren’t into hiking (see above) so other than stopping to snap some pictures, we just worked our way through it.

Onward, James, to Bryce Canyon National Park. Obviously, tourism had discovered this park, big time. So many more places to stay than I remember and now you could take a shuttle bus through the park instead of driving yourself around. I was there last when my brother helped me drive across country when I moved from California to North Carolina in 2002. There were nice lookouts built that I don’t remember having been there before.  I remember climbing up dirt hills, etc.10091815571009181622b[3014]1009181555a

I was shocked to see the hoodoos. When we were in Cappadocia, Turkey we marveled at the fairy chimneys, which were hoodoos, really. I hadn’t recalled the similarities. But, there they were in all their colorful glory! Another beautiful park that is well worth a visit.

After consulting my map, we decided to head up to I-70 to spend the night in Richfield, Utah.  Once again, I was driving.  The speed limit was 75 or 80.  Jim wanted me to take it up to 100.  Are you kidding me?  Why would I want to do that?  So I could say I did!  No thanks. Maybe I did 75 or 80 tops! Jim was disappointed in my lack of adventure. Sorry!

When we checked into our hotel, the front desk clerk suggested a steak house right down the road that had very good food.  I’ve gotten a little leery of suggestions from people who have grown up eating fast food as to what constitutes good food. But, it was. And to our surprise, they were playing smooth jazz! So after some good food, good wine and good music, we paused on our way out to take a few dance steps. Life isn’t all about national parks, you know.

Making our way toward Colorado the next day found us driving some very curvy roads, once again, as we made our way through Bears Ears National Monument.  A fair amount of it looked like Zion and Bryce Canyon.  IMG_1253[3067]IMG_1243 (2)Utah sure is colorful. We stopped at the Colorado River to take some pictures and hit the port-a-potties. We met a couple from California, and we swapped picture taking with them. Soon, we entered Colorado.

This turned out to be dicey because there weren’t places out in the boondocks to stay.  We had been driving through forests etc. most of the day and it appeared we would have more of the same for hours yet. As we came to the end of a road and had to choose left or right, I made the decision to go right to Ouray, CO.  It looked like a shorter distance than going left to Montrose.  Wrong decision. Ouray was a very nice town, known for it’s natural hot springs, but it had been raining and we got there after dark.  In desperation, I chose a hotel off of or just so we’d know we’d have a place rather than stopping here and there. The place I chose was adequate. Period. And the only place in town still open was a bar.  So, that’s where we ate.  I ordered beef stew because it sounded good, but it tasted like Dinty Moore’s beef stew.  You get the idea.

The next morning in a cold drizzly rain, we headed north to Montrose and as we were heading out of Ouray, I happened to look to the side and there it was … a pot shop.  Jim made a u-turn so fast I almost toppled out of the car.  As you entered, you stepped into a locked anteroom and had to show your ID to get buzzed in.  Whew!  It was smelly!  I didn’t know marijuana smelled so strong.  I mentioned to the girl that it really smelled and she replied, “I know.  Doesn’t it smell great?” Hmmm … not so much. We explained we knew nothing about marijuana or what to do with it.  Did we want to smoke it, bake with it or vape it?  Who knew? I thought you could do anything you wanted with it.  Guess not. Then she gave us instructions which I knew we’d forget.  Don’t they have printed instructions? I can’t rely on memory so much anymore. There was no one in the place when we walked in, but by the time we left there were about eight people in line Jim happily danced out of the place. Success!  I just walked. We continued on our merry way in the drizzle.1011181206 (2)

When we got to Montrose, I realized this was where we should have spent the night.  Nice town. Lots of options. As we headed east, Jim decided to take a nap. As I was driving, I saw a sign … the kind that lights up and flashes.  ICY ROADS. DRIVE WITH CAUTION. Are you kidding me? Why me? I haven’t driven on icy roads since I left Ohio in 1980! Up to that point there had been some snow on the tops of mountains off in the distance. 1010181120[3012]I guess we had arrived. So I immediately started sweating and talking to myself.  Jim was still sleeping. I started watching the temperature gauge.  Outside it was 47 degrees.  Okay, if it doesn’t get much colder, we’d be okay.  Correct that, I’d be okay.  As we began to climb, the temperature started to drop. Oh Dear. Then it kind of leveled off. All right!  No problem.  I got this. Then we began climbing again. Cars were blowing by me.  I rationalized that they were Colorado drivers and were comfortable with this stuff. The temperature was now down to 39 degrees. And the snow outside was a little deeper on the side of the road. We kept climbing and the temperature kept dropping.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and announced to Jim that he was missing everything. He was sure surprised when he opened his eyes and I’m sure, quite nervous with me doing the driving. We kept climbing and eventually the temperature dropped to 28 degrees.  I noticed a little way back that the road had been salted and sanded. As we reached the crest, with snow blowing around us, I saw the salt trucks.  Now we had to get down the other side. Yikes!  What if we slide off the side of the mountain? There was a pickup truck from Texas pulling a small trailer in front of me going rather slowly, so I just stayed behind him. Some cars were passing both of us on those curvy roads, but we just kept our speed.  Let them pass, the fools! The temperature started rising and the road became a little drier and we began to breathe a little easier. Finally, we were down.  YOU GO, GIRL. Damn I’m good!

We spent the night in Pueblo, Colorado where Colorado became flat. Hooray! Once more we could drive 70-75 on flat secondary roads, having the road to ourselves.  While passing through a town, we came upon these trailers for sale.  I want the pink one. 1012181411a[3007]We eventually got back on I-70 to Kansas City, Missouri where we spent a few nights with some of Jim’s family. Homeward bound!

The morning we left them, I plugged in an address in Nashville, Tennessee.  I don’t know what the Garmin or whatever the navigation system is called in a Honda Oddyssey, but it drove us from Kansas City, Missouri to Kansas City, Kansas back to Kansas City, Missouri where I recognized a street his daughter had driven us on one day sightseeing. Slightly over an hour and we were finally out-of-town.  Whew!  That was hell! Nashville here we come.

Once again, I was driving while Jim was sleeping.  We were on State route 50 … a very nice divided road.  The Garmin changed the route just before Jefferson City because of congestion.  Really? And then the fun began.  We were going on small country roads and through towns so small if you blinked you missed them. We’re losing time here, folks. Once Jim took over driving I was able to get out my beloved map and see where the hell we were.  In the middle of nowhere, that’s where! Going to nowhere. Dusk was settling in and in a panic, I was leafing through my AAA tourbook looking for someplace for a town that might have a place for us to stay. Finally, I found a Comfort Inn in Willow Springs, quite a drive away. Once we got there, the Garmin was directing us to this rundown strip type motel or office building.  WTH?  We couldn’t find it.  We drove all through the town, which wasn’t very big.  Deciding we had nothing to lose, we drove out the original way figuring there was a large divided highway that way and we might find something along there, when lo and behold, there was the Comfort Inn. The waypoints from the satellites were wrong.  It was pretty new and very nice.  The desk clerk recommended a Mexican restaurant back in town … or the four corners as she called it … and had a good meal, but no margaritas.  No liquor license.  Bummer. We needed a drink after that stressful day.

The next morning we decided to get ourselves onto I-40 to Knoxville, Tennessee.  Nashville would have made the drive for our last day too long. Things were not too bad until we came to a point where I-75 merged with I-40.  It started to rain and it was getting dark.  And here came the trucks.  There were trucks before that, but now it was multiplied by 10. And once again, I was driving.  Why me? There were probably six or seven lanes (or so it seemed to me) and I  couldn’t see the lines delineating the lanes with tractor trailers throwing water all over the windshield. It was quite dark. Jim was looking for an exit that had hotels on it that we could get off on. I wanted off this road, right now! Traffic opened up enough that we were able to get off, but the hotel chain we were wanting, we couldn’t locate.  We could see it, but couldn’t find our way to it.  There was a place called Baymont Inn that looked really nice right next to a Carrabas. And it wasn’t as expensive as some of the places we had stayed.  I was never so happy to get out of the driver’s seat as I was then. I recommend you try this place if you’re going to be in the area..

Our last day.  The only issue we had that day was getting through Boone, NC.  There was some construction in town that had traffic down to one lane.  But, eventually we got through it and got home.

This trip took 29 days and 6,000 miles on Jim’s car. We decided the next trip like this we’d do northern U.S and southern Canada. We’ll see if it happens.  It was fun and we’d do it again in a minute. We had a great adventure. But, there are still so many places we haven’t seen. Like the Amazon!

Go West, Golden Oldies, Go West

It all began with Hurricane Florence.  Jim and I had planned to take a road trip out west for my timeshare week in Laguna Beach, California at the end of September. Then Florence hit town.  Jim had to evacuate from SC, so he came to NC to my house.  After moving all my furniture off my deck and anything that could become a flying object, we awaited Florence’s wrath.  There were a few other evacuees from the coast of NC staying with friends in the neighborhood, so we all had an impromptu party. And we placed our trip on hold or cancel, depending on how things turned out.

After several days of rain, it began to settle down with no problems in my ‘hood. Jim had no problems in his ‘hood either. But roads between here and there were flooded or washed out. He couldn’t get back home. While worrying about how his house survived, his neighbor called to assure him that his home was fine.

Ultimately, to get south and east, he would need to go west … way west.  Like Tennessee west. North Carolina was closed.  So we did what any self-respecting retired couple would do,  we figured if we had to go west, we’d go way west.  But first, clothes.  Jim needed clothes.  Off to the store we went.  Once back home, we threw things in the suitcases and off we went.

Now, I had been planning and mapping the route for a few weeks, but Jim doesn’t like planning, so we loosely followed a route. Sort of. Well … not at all. This was a definite fly by the seat of our pants. IMG_20180908_073544_690Our first stop was south of Atlanta.  We had encountered heavy traffic in Atlanta at rush hour, so we lost a bit of time. I won’t mention the Arnold’s bread truck that ran us of the road. After that and a wreck we saw the next day whereby one car was in pieces, really, we decided interstates weren’t any fun.  We took secondary roads as much as we could. Which was most of our trip, actually. Surprisingly, you could drive just as fast on most of those roads, as they had little traffic. Many times we had the roads to ourselves.

Our first deviation from our loosely held plan was to head to Biloxi, MS.  This because Jim likes the Beau Rivage and he got comped a room.  This might have ended up being a long trip if I hadn’t been able to get him away from the tables and machines. But, he was a good boy. Alleluia! From there we made our way to New Orleans, through many of the places devastated from Katrina. They had been rebuilt and looked to have rebounded.

I know I’m going against the grain here, but I did not like New Orleans.  I never felt inclined to go there and wish we hadn’t this time either.  It was dirty, crowded and too touristy. We left town after lunch, but not before Jim got a parking ticket. Double hate. Not much else to say.

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Street performers in New Orleans. They were good.


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I liked the guy in the cowboy hat with the skirt and vest. I think the lady did too.

We progressed on to Austin, TX.  I love Austin and I was not going to miss this city, no matter what.  Silently, I was hoping it wasn’t going to disappoint and would be pretty much as I remembered it. After getting lost (even with the GPS), we found the hotel and got checked in. Anxious to get in the action, we made our way to 6th Street or Avenue, whatever it is.  It was football Saturday and Texas Christian University fans were everywhere.  The street was closed off with vendor tents down the middle for several blocks. It had a real carnival atmosphere! We had a beer here and a beer there and then wandered past a club with good sounds emanating from it. We were sure glad we squeezed in because we had so much fun at that club called “Friends”.  We were the chaperones of the place, I believe.  No one else had white hair. We tried to blend in but I don’t think we fooled anyone. The band was really good and I gave the beat a 9.  The house was packed, but eventually we seniors had to squeeze our way back out and head back to our room.  Seniors can only handle so much fun in one night with people less than half their ages.


On our way the next day through Hill Country, we happened upon the neatest town … Llano, Texas.  It’s about 65 miles NW of Austin. We just had to stop and wander around a bit.  We drove across the river and found a great park … a really great park … where we stopped for our lunch.  Two women were there with their children and we got to talking.  Turned out one was from Rock Hill, SC., originally. What a wonderful little town! As a side note, it was recently reported on the news that the Llano River flooded.  I sure hope that town made it through okay. I would go back there again.


After leaving Texas, we passed through Roswell, NM. We stopped to see if we could find any UFOs, but we only found aliens.


We continued on our journey and stopped at Big Springs, NM for the night. It was a bigger town than we thought, but not big enough for a good restaurant; at least not at the exit we chose.  I think if we had gotten off the previous one , it would have been a different story. Our hotel room had some issues and the next day the manager called to say she comped the room. I don’t think I’ll keep that town on my map, regardless.

On to Santa Fe, NM.  One of my favorite cities.  Oh no! It was taken over by the major chains. Malls. And interstates. It was so changed. I was disappointed to see that civilization had encroached upon such a great place. I know the people who live there have to shop, but … I wasn’t sorry to leave.  And I did so with a head cold. It didn’t have that ethereal feeling it used to have. The historic plaza area didn’t even feel the same.  But, then again, I was comparing it to a 30 year old memory. Now I know how my friend, Paul, always felt when he went to the beach in SC and it wasn’t the same.  He would always comment, “They ruined it.” Yep, now I know the feeling. On a positive note, we had a great dinner at a place called “The Shed”.

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On to Taos, N.M. — my other favorite town. After checking into our hotel, we headed to the drugstore for some cough drops and Sudafed. As we drove into town, it was another, No! Not this place too? Tuesday Morning? Now that’s going too far. Okay … so far we liked Austin and Llano.  This trip better stop surprising me.

On our way out of town, we stopped at the Taos Pueblo. We had a good time talking to some of the residents who turned out to be Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers fans.  Well, more North Carolina University at Chapel Hill, than Carolina Panthers. Who would have guessed? I bought this pine cone thing from them but I forget what it’s purpose was.  The car smelled like pine for most of the trip. It doesn’t any longer.


While we were wandering around the Pueblo, there was a group of men repairing the adobe.  So I walked over and asked how they did it and got a very nice demo.

We passed over the Rio Grande Gorge on our way out of town.  I hope the Rio Grande is larger in Texas.


With me sneezing, coughing and blowing my nose, we proceeded on towards Mesa Verde National Park, with an overnight stop in Durango, Colorado. I’m not sure about the whole city, but the part we were in was as I remembered it. It was most enjoyable. As we were walking from our hotel, we passed a “smokehouse”.  Jim was convinced that since we were in Colorado and pot was legal, we should go in and buy some. I had the hardest time convincing him that it was just a BBQ place.  All through dinner, he wasn’t accepting my take on it.  As we were walking back, the smoker was going behind the place and he was finally convinced. But, he never got the legal pot out of his mind. If I went into a store to buy water or something he’d always tell me to ask where we could buy marijuana. Are you serious? I’m not asking anybody where we can buy pot. You ask. Bear in mind, he’s 77 and I’m 75 and we had never tried it. He guess he realized there was something he missed out on in life!

On to Mesa Verde! This park was established in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt and is the largest archaeological preserve in North America.  The Ancient Puebloans called it home for more than 700 years from 500 A.D. to 1300 A.D. During that time, they built over 4,400 sites including 600 cliff dwellings before suddenly leaving the land. In looking at these dwellings, it was hard to imagine how they were able to climb into them. Even with the ladders. Very impressive and worth stopping to see.


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We stayed in Flagstaff, Arizona that night. Lest anyone think that Sudafed and cough drops rid one of a cold … nope.  I was miserable and my eyes were killing me. There was a Sizzler across the parking lot where we had dinner. I had soup in the hope that chicken soup did have magical properties. When we got back to our room, I sent Jim down to the lobby for some tea bags.  I had heard tea bags made irritated eyes feel better.  Well, they did for a little while. While they were on my eyes.


You gotta admit, this is pretty funny!

We realized that night that if we hoped to make it to Laguna Beach, CA before my timeshare week was up, we needed to get a move on. The next day, we made the decision to interstate it again, which can be no small feat in CA. We made it to Laguna that evening and felt staying in one place for the better part of a week was going to be heaven.

To be continued………