Week One – Apple Valley, CA – along Route 66

Looking for Roy Rogers…

Roy Rogers & Dale Evans

Gravestones for Roy and Dale

It's Trigger! Roy Roger's faithful sidekick - this is the statue from the now defunct Roy Rogers & Dale Evans museum, now gracing the hillside on the edge of the cemetery where they are buried. I was sorta surprised because Trigger is not a gelding - hmmmm...

It’s Trigger! Roy Roger’s faithful sidekick – this is the statue from the now defunct Roy Rogers & Dale Evans museum, now gracing the hillside on the edge of the cemetery where they are buried. I was sorta surprised because Trigger is not a gelding! Holy cojones!

It’s not a far drive from Victorville to the cemetery and through subdivisions of typical desert homes – with zero greenery – their landscaping consisting of raked sand, maybe a cactus or two, a wagon or other western themed object. One home had a whimsical feel that only PeeWee Herman might enjoy: the front sand canvas of a lawn had two large rock tortoises, a tacky birdbath, a large bathtub painted like a spotted black & white cow, various wind chimes, a giant hummingbird and an 8′ tall verdigris replica of the Statue of Liberty, complete with a lit torch. Yikes!

On to the matter at hand, finding the graves of our famed Victorville residents, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans – (AKA Leonard and Frances) I’m led there by the young caretaker at the cemetery – she might be all of 21 years old – lovely but a bit sad. She seems fascinated that I am traveling solo on a roadtrip.  She tells me she started working here after her beloved grandma died, just to be near her. Oh my. So, I asked her “Why would you want to work out here with all these dead and grieving people? It’s a lovely cemetery, but make sure you don’t let it get you down – go out and be grateful for your life!”  She shows me their graves and I note on Dale’s there is a book with an inscription – “Angels unawares”. I smile and ask her if she knows what that means…blank stare. “It’s from the bible, I explain –  meaning there may be angels living among us – in body but not really. Sometimes you will meet them in life for just a moment, for a message, for a bit of help or for a brief encounter, unaware that they are angels.” I’ve met a few in my life. She’s intrigued and will no doubt Google it when she’s back at her desk. While leaving, I remind her that her grandma would say the same thing I am saying – “Get out and enjoy your life!” Who knows, I tell her –  maybe I am an angel unaware in your life, here just now to bring you this message!GSWA_034_AppleValley

GSWA_029_AppleValleyThere is a really cool vintage hearse onsite, that’s been totally restored and is still used at the cemetery but only for war veterans, as a special offer of respect for their passing. The memorial plaques near the chapel are wonderful, too. Many are for Roy and Dale, but for others buried here too. It’s a fun visit – I’m glad I took the time. Happy Trails to you, till we meet again!

Week One – Victorville, CA – Route 66





Groovy, Baby…

Just 30 miles south of Barstow the Bust is Victorville – still on Route 66 but on the way to San Bernadino. Their Route 66 museum is OPEN and awesome! Walls covered with classic signage, a 50’s diner booth, loads of ephemera along the famous Mother Road. I spend over an hour in here, marveling at the collection of bits and bobs from all over along this famous U.S. roadtrip route. The guest book has posts from visitors from all over this planet – MANY from Europe! I think of the “mystique” of Route 66 that my European buddies would talk about – so here I am to drive a nice chunk of it. I hope my buds are enjoying it vicariously through me!


Who remembers Big Boy?


Victorville is a sleepy western town and has a famous couple that were from here – Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. Yep, they were before my time, but old movie reruns and their legacy keeps them alive. They were both from here and I asked the volunteer Mike where they were buried. He said “Right near here in Apple Valley. Go see it, they even have a large statue Roy’s horse Trigger at the cemetery!” Oh my…it might be worth the route diversion…


A classic diner booth complete with metal flake vinyl seats and a countertop jukebox

Week One – Barstow, CA – Rt. 66

GSWA_009_Barstow2GSWA_010_Barstow3Barstow, California – off I go to the Visitors Center which is by the Route 66 museum and also the Railroad museum – but alas, the building is huge but looks deserted. A sign on a tucked away door confirms it – they are only open on the weekends! Argh…

Well, the Visitors Center at the historic Harvey House (a former trackside restaurant and rooming house) is open and the gal there (Sheila) is really helpful. Barstow’s sort of a bust, she concurs. Many vacant buildings, not a lot of town energy. However, there are some cool wall murals GSWA_024_VictorvilleMap2about town and I catch a photo of my trusty chariot, my Scion tC in front of a mural at Rosita’s.

Sheila advises Victorville as the place to go, about 30 minutes south of here on Route 66, the museum there is great! I look about for something else to do in Barstow, but am amazed that nearly an entire city block is taken up by a large thrift shop collective – The Treasure Chest. Well, I spend a few hours browsing and emerge with a few goodies. I always marvel at how much STUFF people accumulate. This is like a large tribute to hoarding! Keepin’ it lean…

The Grand Southwest Adventure


First day to hit the road on the Grand Southwest Adventure! I’ve chosen to head to Barstow, about 325 miles away – the hotel prices are low and there are some museums and Route 66 things to do for Wednesday and Thursday morning, then I’ll leave to head to Las Vegas…then, on to the southwest for the Grand Southwest Adventure! I’ll keep you posted… 

Heading out from San Francisco through the farmlands – near Gilroy and Watsonville. The hills are alive – with poofy plastic poly tunnels covering strawberries and raspberries. Like a puff quilt of plastic, they follow the hillside’s terrain on either side of the highway. There are large farms ringed with cars and trucks, transportation for the many hunched over workers picking the berries in the open fields. Gilroy is known for garlic – hence, the annual Gilroy Garlic festival. One of the many delights of traveling solo is that I get to stop wherever I wish, without comment or discussion. The many fruit stands and produce markets along the roadside beckon and I hold out until I see…

The Casa de Fruta! It has a grand complex, filled with tourists and school groups and KIDS – a tipi, farm tractors, a merry go round, hay bales, animals and of course, a largGSWA_004e open market with fruit (naturally), nuts, grand bulbs and wreaths of Gilroy garlic, classic junk food treats and bins of salty & sweet goodies. Unbelievably, I resist the sweets and settle for some lovely fruit, some GGSWA_005ilroy garlic and a bag or two of seasoned almonds. I’d be tempted to get a big pumpkin to take to Las Vegas to carve – but I imagine with their temperatures, it’d look like a shriveled raisin in days.

Not too far down the road is a more rustic mom & pop fruit stand and while getting gas, I pop in there, too. There’s a vast selection of seasoned almonds, pistachios, dried fruits, pomegranates and other seasonal fruits. Deciding between tequila pistachios and garlic almonds – well, I went for the garlic and some rosemary pistachios. I’m stocked for the season! Spending the night on Route 66, in Barstow, California. More on that tomorrow!



Movie Review: Life Itself

life-itself-posterThere’s another movie I’d wanted to see about the life of Roger Ebert, the Chicago Sun Times movie critic and part of the Sneak Previews duo with Gene Siskel from the Chicago Tribune. Their syndicated movie review show ran for years and I always enjoyed their insights and recommendations. Their combative style and adversarial natures were fun to watch, both cocky and sure that their opinion was the absolute right one; each jockeying to get in the LAST WORD! As a movie buff, I have them to thank for many of the movies I’ve seen and have been alerted to – always knowing that a “two thumbs up” meant GO and SEE it!

It was sad seeing Roger’s debilitated state at the end, losing nearly his whole throat and jaw to cancer, his lower face almost tragically comical in expression. Gene died a decade before of cancer, in his early 50s. Through it all, Roger’s mind was certainly unimpaired and with a keyboard to communicate, he lasted through a lot – more than I think I would have. He found love late in live (at 50) and had nearly 20 years with his darling (Chaz), who he had met at A.A. – and he reminded us all to enjoy every moment. “See you at the movies!” was one of his final missives. Indeed. The final words from Chaz about the moment of his passing were quite heartfelt and touching – the pain and helplessness and final release of someone beloved to you. To the haunting sounds of Dave Brubeck, surrounded by hands joined in love, they let him go. Death is still jarring and shocking and surprising! But, it was nice to see it portrayed with such grace, dignity and LOVE.

How far the cinema has progressed since his first foray at review writing in the 60s – amazing! I’m reminded of how powerful and long lasting and touching creatives can be – whether it’s through the movies, through art, through writing. I’ll probably never be in a movie – but writing or creating art? I can do that. This has inspired me to start writing/blogging again. Things that last long after you’re gone and make someone’s life a bit happier, it’s all good. Make it so.

In Memory of Agnes

Agnes Birthday

Agnes lived a beautiful life

Today a dear friend and kind lady, Agnes of Clausevignes in Valady, France –  who hosted both myself and countless others via has passed on. She affected so many lives with her love for art, music, culture and her graceful elegance was an inspiration to all aspiring artistas! Happy trails to you, my friend.

“It is not what you gather, but what you scatter,

that tells what kind of life you have lived.” – Anonymous

Agnes heads the dinner table - a family of friends!

Agnes heads the dinner table – a family of friends!

HOLI – the Indian Celebration Day of Color


Holi, the Indian Celebration of Color!

Holi commemorates the victory of good over evil, brought about by the burning and destruction of the demoness named Holika. This was enabled through unwavering devotion to the Hindu god of preservation, Lord Vishnu. Holi got its name as the “Festival of Colors” from Lord Krishna, a re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who liked to play pranks on the village girls by drenching them in water and colors. The festival marks the end of winter and the abundance of the upcoming spring harvest season.

Citizen of the World

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” St. Augustine

Who Am I? by Natalia Sarro

When I ask expatriates how they are adapting to their new life in Argentina, I often hear a subtle message hidden behind their words. When they complain, I can tell that it’s not about the bureaucracy of local government. And it´s not the dirty streets of Buenos Aires or the over-emotional demeanor of Argentines that creates all that frustration. There is actually a powerful, unsaid feeling that creates all the fear, anger and uncertainty. Can you guess what it is?

Bingo. It’s about identity. It’s those invisible roots, that make you know exactly who you are, where you are and where you’re going next along a path of time and space.

When you move to a new country, far from loved ones, transitioning from the known to the unknown, the journey is longer than you think. It’s more than a couple of thousands kilometers that you are leaving behind. Rather, you are creating an endless distance between you and your sense of belonging. You feel homeless. Detached. In between worlds. Did you ever hear that popular saying in Spanish “No soy de aquí ni soy de allá”? (“I don´t belong here nor there”)… Well, I guess that says it all.

You may be asking, “is there a way out of this feeling?” I would say yes. The common belief behind this sense of rootlessness is thinking of identity as a fixed, rigid structure that we were given when we were children: your hobbies, your possessions, your family traditions and habits, your neighborhood, etc. From this perspective, we get only one precious identity in life, so we can’t afford to lose it.

Now… What if you could think of identity and home as concepts under construction? What if your identity was something you create and re-create every single day of your life, and it is up to you to decide how it’s going to be? If it was up to you to choose the pieces of your identity every morning, treating it as a work of art that lasts a lifetime, then there would be no need to miss home anymore.

Because home is simply where you are.

When you start to believe your identity is in continuous evolution and it transforms as you grow and make decisions, then the big monster of rootlessness doesn´t make sense anymore.

Rather than a physical place, I invite you to perceive home as something you do (by yourself and with others), and therefore it can change because you are doing new things all the time.

You are not the same person you used to be yesterday, but you forget.

You can change jobs, but you think it is impossible.

You can move to a new country, learn a new language, wake up in a different place every day, but it is too scary for a well-established adult like you.

You can give up old activities that you don´t enjoy anymore. You can start a new career or live in a different way, but your family and friends say you are crazy, so you better stick to your routine.


What new possibilities would you give to yourself if you dared to think of home as an action, rather than a noun? What if your life in a new country was the perfect excuse to take on that forgotten hobby of your childhood? Then, maybe the dusty dream of becoming a writer, an artist or a musician could become reality. Maybe, then the freedom to reinvent yourself during your experience abroad would be present in every step of the journey.

So… what underlying beliefs and old stories are preventing you from having the type of experience abroad you would like to have? What fixed identity is making it impossible to experience the new YOU that you want to become?

If George Eliot was right, then you could start to believe that
“It is never too late to become what you might have been.” 

Contact Email:


Parisian Time Capsule

A Parisian apartment, left untouched for 70 years – intriguing!

Lakota Prayer

Lakota Prayer

Wakan Tanka (Great Spirit),
teach me how to trust
my heart,
my mind,
my intuition,
my inner knowing,
the senses of my body,
the blessings of my spirit.

Teach me to trust these things
so that I may enter my Sacred Space
and love beyond my fear,
and thus Walk in Balance
with the passing of each glorious Sun.

The Sacred Space is the space within you
Where the mind, heart and spirit are one
To Walk in Balance is to have Heaven (spirituality)
and Earth (physicality) in Harmony.

Buy your copy today! Cuba for Mama: A Daughter’s Journey 2016

Like what you see? Subscribe by entering your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Pen2Paint Portfolio

Art Prints