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Keep Walking!

If you were steering a large barge and decided you wanted to change directions, you’d begin turning the wheel. However, because of the momentum of the barge’s movement and the sheer size of it, the boat wouldn’t immediately shift direction. You’d need to keep turning and turning that wheel. Eventually, the barge will turn. Likewise, if you keep feeding attention to the direction you want to go, your life will change.

“If we are facing in the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking. ”
    Buddhist Proverb

To Hear a Mockingbird

To Hear a Mockingbird

I’ve had a nightly visitor serenading me in my garden the past few weeks. I’ve recorded his song and put some words to it. Enjoy!

 

The Train

The Skunk Train runs from Fort Bragg east an hour or two through the Redwood forest, a classic steam train that is a familiar sound and sight in this sleepy little town.

“THE TRAIN”
At birth we boarded the train and met our parents, and we believe they will always travel on our side. However, at some station our parents will step down from the train, leaving us on this journey alone.  As time goes by, other people will board the train; and they will be significant i.e. our siblings, friends, children, and even the love(s) of your life. Many will step down and leave a permanent vacuum. Others will go so unnoticed that we don’t realize that they vacated their seats. This train ride will be full of joy, sorrow, fantasy, expectations, hellos, goodbyes, and farewells. Success consists of having a good relationship with all passengers requiring that we give the best of ourselves.

The mystery to everyone is: We do not know at which station we ourselves will step down. So, we must live in the best way, love, forgive, and offer the best of who we are. It is important to do this because when the time comes for us to step down and leave our seat empty we should leave behind beautiful memories for those who will continue to travel on the train of life.

I wish you a joyful journey on the train of life. Reap success and give lots of love. More importantly, thank God for the journey.

Lastly, I thank you for being one of the passengers on my train.

 

A Great San Diego view – FREE

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The beautiful and FREE view from atop the 40th floor of the Hyatt in downtown San Diego! I always look for great places to look out on a new city, I am a map nerd and need to “get my bearings”.
The Hyatt has a cocktail lounge at the top (of course) but there are plenty of windows all around the 40th floor. Usually, if you look like you know where you’re going and aren’t dressed poorly – nearly any hotel will let you up! The Coronado island bridge in the distance. Beautiful!

Back to Route 66! – Holbrook, Arizona

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Back down through Navajo country to the eastern edge of Arizona’s Route 66. Arizona has the largest stretches of the original highway and it’s fun to drive off highway 40 for the telltale brown “Historic Route 66” signs.

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Cowboy Monkey graffiti

First stop is Holbrook – a wonderful Main Street town with lots of charm and character. There are leather stores, pubs, old diners and of course, souvenir shops galore! I especially enjoyed finding an enoteca, a region

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Holbrook Jail Cell

nal wine tasting spot on the main drag. The wine was pretty good, too! The town museum had a great old jail house, (third photo) used as recent as 1976.  If you look on the walls, you can see where bored inmates drew – a few of the paintings and drawings are really good! Yikes, imagine being cooped up in here! ;-}

 

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The Wigwam Motel

Leaving town is the iconic Wigwam Hotel – actually motel rooms shaped like teepees. They have classic cars parked throughout the motel, as well. I stayed at the Lodge on Main street. Newly remodeled with lots of luxurious touches and a great outdoor fireplace lounge. Yep, it was cold, but the fireplace was on and the overhead heaters made my time there wonderful! Off season this is an affordable place to stay but in season, it might test your budget. Hence, travel in the “shoulder season” – after Labor day! The weather’s a little cooler, but not too cold until mid-October and the hotel owners and attraction workers are happy to see you, too!

 

 

 

 

 

Week Three: Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ

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WOW…truly the most AMAZING geological formation I have ever seen! Antelope Canyon is in northern Arizona, not far from Page Arizona, home of Lake Powell. As it is Native land, small groups are brought in by Navajo guides in truckloads. While driving there in the open bed of a large pickup truck – the wind blowing in my face, I felt like a big dog with his tongue hanging out of the window, excited to be in the car.

Our guide Irene led us through the “slot canyon”, so named because it looks like a slotted opening in the rock, just wide enough for a powerful force of nature like water to enter and sculpt the soft sandstone to this incredible formation. The canyon is only about 1/4 mile long but winds around beautifully striated walls of stone and every upward gaze is a photographic moment.

If you are ever in northern Arizona, do NOT miss this.

Week Two: Bryce Canyon Nat’l Park, Utah

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Bryce Canyon is sort of tucked away, you must stop and get out and peer over the edge to see it – but WOW, when you do…
Behind the Bryce Canyon lodge are short hiking trails along the rim of the “Ampitheatre”, a vast circular congregation of stone columns called “hoo-doos”. Native legend says that Coyote wanted to punish the people for not doing what he wanted so he turned them all into stone. If you look hard enough and with enough imagination – indeed, the grouped columns do start to resemble clusters of people with heads and shoulders – some in pairs, some alone.

I arrived late afternoon when the sun was going down, it was a sunny 71 degree day, so I decided to pitch my tent and camp in the campground. However, not long after sundown the temperatures dropped fast and I huddled in my tent wrapped in my sleeping bag and piled with blankets. By the wee hours of the morning just before dawn (5 a.m.) the temperatures had plummeted to 28 degrees. Finally, I bravely put on my shoes and made a mad dash for my car! Off to the nearby Bryce Canyon lodge and to it’s cozy fireplace and comfy chairs to thaw out. What a delight! So much for camping in fall…

The up side is that by getting up REALLY early, I was wide awake and able to explore the park before the tourists got up. All the viewpoints were virtually empty, just me and my thoughts and maybe a stray Park Ranger or two. It was not until about 9 a.m. when I reached my final viewpoint that the tourists descended on the park. The early morning sunrise lit the tops of the rock formations nicely and I’m pleased with the photos I took. What do you think?

 

Week Two: Seque to southern Utah – Zion National Park

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First stop on this leg was Hurricane, Utah – my first venture into an AirBandB lodging listing. The B&B where I stayed was GREAT! I had a first floor room and first class service – cool room, great bed and sheets, a BIG welcome from my host Marla with wine & cheese and fun conversation, all at a very reasonable price. Isn’t this what travel is all about? Greetings, connections, laughs and crazy life stories… If you’re Zion park bound – go here! https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4135571

It’s only a short drive to nearby Zion Nat’l Park – but stop at the River Rock Coffee house on the way and get a great coffee, a yummy spinach & tomato quiche and a VIEW! Their back patio overlooks a wonderful Utah-esque canyon. GSWA_053http://www.riverrockroasters.com/index.html

First major hike in the park is the Watchman Tower hike – a 2.7 mile hillside hike – which was amazing! Between the blooming wildflowers (oh, how I love Indian Paintbrush flowers!) to the endless vistas – WOW. Wear your sunscreen, though!

As I walk, I generally look about for cool stuff – and find a collection of heart-shaped stones on my path. I collected them in my pocket and left them on a large stone next to the trail entrance – I hope someone sees them and smiles. Pay it forward!

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Week One – Route 66 – between Victorville and Barstow, CA

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Right outside of Victorville, just 2 miles north on Route 66 is Emma Jean’s, home of the “Holland Burger” and “Brian Burger”. Since I endeavor to be a veggie, neither appealed – but the classic diner café beckoned, and I gave in and vowed to see what they had. Breakfast fare worked, a cheese and mushroom omelette, perfectly browned home fried potatoes – even homemade biscuits and gravy, all topped off with a chocolate milkshake complete with whipped cream and the extra in the metal mixing tin just for me! I filled up quickly, polishing off about half of the food and totally savored the milkshake and the home fries – two of my weaknesses! Typical American café meal – WAY TOO MUCH FOOD! Yep, I know it’s not the healthiest choice, but OH…it was tasty.

The café ambience was classic, as well.  A tourist family of five from Canada sat at the diner bar, snapping photos of everything from the waitress to the food. A few truckers and some disheveled locals graced the other stools and all were very well fed and happy. When first confronted with the grand menu, I asked the waitress “What’s good here?” to which she replied: “All the food’s good, but I can’t guarantee the quality of the service!” Hahaha…

I ordered my milkshake and her booming voice hollered out “SHAKE!” across the bar to the kitchen. Oh my…reminiscent of John Belushi and “Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger!”

It was a fun meal – Emma Jean’s looks like a total dive but the food is plentiful and good. A classic 50s diner, so stop in and indulge. I did!

Week One – Apple Valley, CA – along Route 66

Looking for Roy Rogers…

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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!
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