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Week One – Victorville, CA – Route 66

 

 

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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!

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Who remembers Big Boy?

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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…

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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

ThelmaLouiseCar

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 HelpX.net 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

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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.

Source: http://shop.holstee.com/pages/about

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: natalia_sarro@yahoo.com.ar

 

Parisian Time Capsule

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

http://www.messynessychic.com/2012/05/09/the-paris-time-capsule-apartment/

Lakota Prayer

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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.

California Avenue of the Giants

Massive Redwood Giants!

Avenue of the Giants Day Trip
Giant Redwoods – Wine & Cheese Tasting – Victorian Architecture – Museums – Tourist Kitsch!
http://avenueofthegiants.net/Zoom/map.htm

Get an early start around 8 a.m. if you can! Heading north on highway 101 from Fort Bragg, California we hug the dramatic Pacific coastline and pull over a few times to marvel at the crashing waves. About 10 miles north of Fort Bragg is Ten Mile Beach, which during low tide is a great place to hike around.

A day long drive up the coast

Mendocino county coastline

A few miles more and we pass Pacific Star Winery on the left, a great spot for enjoying a wine tasting or just to take your binoculars and look for migrating whales. It was a bit early for a wine tasting, but we went on another day and saw gray whales in the distance.

Wine Tasting at Pacific Star Winery

We follow Highway 1 a bit longer and turn northwest towards Leggett, the home of the Chandelier Tree, a drive-through Redwood, a classic tourist stop. For $5 a carload, you can experience the thrill of driving THROUGH a grand old Redwood tree. The tree above seems healthy and unaffected, but it does seem rather awful to imagine someone hollowing out a living tree for our amusement, but indeed they did.

Drive-through Redwood tree

So, we slowly drove through and the path (of course!) leads right to the gift shop parking lot. Here is where I teach our international visitors a new word for their American vocabulary: “Tacky”. There are goofy hats, toys, souvenirs galore including candy Squirrel droppings, Big Foot postcards, even a fake Raccoon skin cap complete with the tail!

Move over Davy Crockett!

Back to Leggett, we head north up highway 101 toward the Avenue of the Giants. Just south of Garberville, look for the Benbow Inn, a beautiful old resort which sponsors an afternoon tea, should you be back by here later in the afternoon. Near Phillipsville, look for the signs for the Avenue of the Giants; which was the old highway before they rerouted highway 101 away from the Big Trees. There are several groves of giant Redwoods along this 31 mile stretch so pull over and point your camera UP. While you´re at it, just try to hug a tree – all five of us could barely cover the front of the trunk, fingertip to fingertip.
In Myers Flat there is another drive-through tree, look for the signs. Signs touting the Amazing Eternal Treehouse peaked our interest, so Redcrest was out next stop. Tucked behind a dinky café on the left was a little parking lot in front of the tree. It was just a tree that had been hollowed out at its base! The tree had managed to survive and you can walk down a few steps and stand in the center of the trunk base. I don´t think this was the kind of tree house we had all imagined, but it was a nice stop to stretch our legs!

Eternal Treehouse

Just another few miles and you´ll find the Immortal Tree, 33 feet in girth! Hug this big boy…
Exiting the Avenue of the Giants, we head further north on highway 101 towards Fortuna. About 4 miles south of Fortuna on the left side of the road is another great stop – Chapman´s Rock & Gem Shop and museum. The museum itself is really outstanding (free) – with gorgeous redwood and rock carvings, jewelry and other area memorabilia. Don´t miss it!

A rock for your finger

Just past Fortuna, we head west to the Victorian village of Ferndale. The setting for several Hollywood movies through the years including The Majestic with Jim Carrey, this little town is a wonderful place to eat, browse and shop. This town is so cute you just want to pinch it!

Ferndale Victorian

A walk down Main street isn´t complete without stopping at the Golden Gait Mercantile, full of reasonably priced gadgets and goodies from years past. If you have a hankering for a cowboy hat, classic candies, regional sweets and savories – here´s the place. They also have the displays done to resemble an old time mercantile, the packaging all a part of the charm. Upstairs, they have whole glassed-in rooms with the real deal – shop displays set up with turn-of-the-century goods including a Millinery shop, a Grocery, a Hardware store and more. There are also some good values up there in antique furniture to be had, including board games from days past.

Ferndale Mercantile

Another great shop is the Blacksmith Shop – (www.ferndaleblacksmith.com) which is a unique gallery of hand-forged delights including sculptures, lighting, furniture and anything else you can imagine.
If you have time, stop in Loleta – a tiny town on the way back towards Eureka. There is little to do in town but one thing – CHEESE. The Loleta Cheese factory is the only place in town to go – samples of a wondrous selection of cheeses await you! www.loletacheese.com

Mike´s Garlic Fries – Eureka, CA

North again on Highway 101 towards Eureka now, we pass an unlikely stop, but if you have the munchies, STOP at Mike´s Garlic Fries. It´s a little divey, but it´s been in business since the 1940´s . The Garlic Fries and chocolate malts are to-die-for. However, suffice it to say that the whole carload should indulge because of the lingering fragrance! The inside is worth a peek also as the owners are die-hard Republicans and proudly post classic Republican paraphernalia on the walls, including a Palin-McCain calendar front and center.

Republican Fervor

Drive by the Carson mansion, (M and Second street) probably one of the most elaborate and notable examples of Victorian architecture in these parts. The neighborhood surrounding it also has more homes to admire – most now B&B´s or owned by businesses or groups.

Carson Mansion – Eureka, CA

If you still have some walking in you, a trip to the Clarke historical museum in the old downtown district features displays from the Victorian period and a great Native American wing with collections of baskets, stoneware and other regalia. It is open until 5 p.m. daily. www.clarkemuseum.org
One final stop for us was the American Indian Art & Gift shop, downtown Eureka at 241 F Street. They have the real deal – jewelry, gifts, paintings, baskets and other goodies made by the area Natives. www.americanindianonline.com
If you have any time left, stop for a nightcap at the Benbow Inn before heading south back down the coast. www.benbowinn.com
Here are a few good guides for activities, maps, attractions and events –
So there you have it – a taste of Humboldt county and the Big Trees!

Just a Taste of Humboldt County, California!

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