Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Did you hear that?

 When I was contemplating putting this trip together I had a lot of songs going through my head. While driving I would listen to music or an app called Autio or HearHere. It was begun by Kevin Costner of all people and connects via GPS to tell you historical, geological, curious facts of the area you are driving through. One of the most memorable was near Lincoln New Mexico. That's Billy the Kid land. This section of the country is preserved (luckily) so as you drive, and listen to the wild west stories you can practically see the outlaws come out of the woods. Anyway, I digress. 

In no particular order-

Picking up on some songs I thought I would check the places out- 

All come to look for America....It took me four days to hitchhike from Saginaw....(Paul Simon). I stopped in Saginaw Michigan and it was a disappointment. It could have been anywhere USA. There was a small historic downtown- very small. We staying in a hotel, for some reason I can't remember. ANyway, forgettable. I could see why he wanted to leave. Sorry, Saginaw. No pictures from here- nope.

Tucumcari, AZ- Well, I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari....- a Little Feat song, probably others

have done it. It was along Route 66 which is off and on amusing in itself. I stayed in an RV park because there was not much else. It had a lot of cats, much to Gina's delight and I got laundry done. BUT- besides the main street of town being funky Western Americana there was a super Mexican restaurant (Gina stayed in the car) I felt a bit out of place. It was a locals spot. Everyone knew the waitress but I had a Tacos Carbon that was the best Mex meal EVER. So Tucumcari has a soft spot in my heart.

Luchenbach, TX- Every time I think of Luchenbach there is a song attached. Let's go to Luchenbach, Texas, Waylon and Willie and the boys...- Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson. In my Texas rambling chapter with BFF Molly Tew we had the opportunity to go to Luchenbach. I expected a little Texas town but turns out it is solely a music venue with a colorful history. There are a couple stages in wooded groves, a small camping area, dance hall, big parking lot and a couple of friendly souvenir shops- that's it. Super charming though and very
good vibes. It was one of my favorite pauses.

Somewhere near Salinas, Lord I let him slip away, he's looking for his home and I hope he finds it....- Me and Bobby McGhee -Janis Joplin version. So I went to

Salinas after visiting cousins in Napa. What I didn't realize at the time is that Salinas is also the homeplace of John Steinbeck (Travels with Charley, Grapes of Wrath, etc). It is a 50/50 town, 50 percent interesting, 50% industrial and dreary. I found the main drag which was all about Steinbeck but staying there in a sleezy little hotel that would take dogs was not particularly fun. It was rainy, rainy, rainy so that may have affected my mood. Probably spring is better.

Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the River- Tina Turner. Hannibal Missouri. The birthplace and stage setting for Mark Twain. I thought I would come into this terrific little American town

and stroll around, looking at the shops, drink coffee with the literati. Another hope dashed. It is a town that sadly has seen it's heyday. I felt like the town council is really letting these folks down. There are terrific houses, old architecture from a riverboat heyday.  Most are in serious states of disrepair. There were token nods to Twain/Samuel Clemens but, sigh. So we took a "steamboat" ride on the Mississippi River. Gina seemed to like it just fine although there was nothing to chase she was nonplussed about the rumble of the engines. I did cover her ears for the departure toots!

Hey, Mr. Spaceman, won't you please take me along, I won't do anything wrong-

The Byrds. It's not the reason I went to Roswell but it kept running through my head there. Roswell is highly amusing. They are capitalizing on their space "experience" and it is thriving. The tourist center has a selfie op and all through town there were space memorabilia, museums, statues and such. Funny. We stayed at a campground outside of town and I was disappointed not to have ET visitors.

We did stand on the corner in Winslow Arizona- The Eagles/ Jackson Browne. It was amazing how lively the town was next to the town I stayed at the night before which seemed to be struggling as a truck pass by. I can only attribute it to the Frey/Browne song and the fact that some town council had the foresight to say, hey

people will come here to stand on the corner and see a girl in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at me. so they made the corner, painted a mural and it is a destination. I heard folks talking and one guy had brought his family en route to Norfolk, VA. He was talking to a vet from CA, making friends. The power of music. Is your town faltering? Get a good songwriter.

I had playlists for road songs, blues, country, I tried to fit the surroundings. Listened to a few podcasts on the way home but music made the miles roll on.

Music makes everything roll on. Symphonies are especially nice in the majestic National Parks of Arches, Bryce and Zion.

Here are some more of those places-

The general store
Ready for a boat ride on the Mississippi


A Route 66 motel in Tucumcari


In reviewing the trip it still seems pretty awesome that I had the opportunity to do this for miles and miles. 13,387 miles to be sort of exact. What an amazing country we live in, so diverse, so beautiful. Now that I have been home for a couple of weeks I am thinking of where to go next. Who knows? At the moment I am researching to see what will work out best.
If you would like the trip as an overview, go to the beginning first- scroll down to October 15 when it all began and work your way up. SO many memories to cast back on! I went to 19 states, plus Canada. I stayed at 32 campsites, 18 hotels, 5 friendly houses (relatives and friends) 3 Airbnb's. Learned a lot of history via my Autio App. I crossed the
Chisholm Trail,
The Great Cattle Trail
The Continental Divide
the Erie Canal
saw Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Ontario
The Mississippi
The Ohio River, many other state rivers
Lake Meade, the Salton Sea
National parks, state parks, county parks, Canadian parks
went through many indigenous lands
went through Alien Country
saw the border wall
traveled Route 66
and so many more views, vignettes, experiences, contemplation...

Here are some more pictures that I just liked-

Sandhill Crane on the shore of Lake Michigan- Bay State Park

Gina enjoys fall colors in Battle Creek, Michigan

Gina gets a better view when riding on country roads

Route 66 runs through Pontiac, IL and has a museum

Bygone grandeur along the Mississippi

Mural in Cuba, MO along Route 66

Bryce Canyon was chilly and beautiful

Capitol Reef National Park, UT

Arches National Park is not just arches...

Winslow AZ was brought back to life through song.

The best taco in the world

The funky restaurant in Tucumcari that served the best taco in the world

Palo Duro Canyon in northern TX

A terrific sculpture in Oklahoma City about land grabs

My favorite park- Pomme de Terre, Missouri

There will be more......

Monday, March 6, 2023



 Texas is

a big big state. 
a world of it's own
diverse and interesting

I drove from cold Carlsbad through Western Texas. It has to be the ugliest area of the country, perhaps of any country. Fracking, Oil rigs, blowing trash unhindered by anything, miles of nothing but scrub and low income housing for the miners/rig workers. There were many miles just to slog through and not a lot to see or do. I will not venture there again. And you might not want to either.

I made it to Corpus Christi to meet up with an old dear friend who would spend the next ten days with me. We had hopes that CC would be more interesting and warmer. I had thought of spending time on the beach soaking up some sun but it was quite cold- like the rest of the trip. We put Gina in a doggie caretakers house for a couple days and went to a variety of spots to catch the famous Texas coast. The cold rain put a damper on our excursions. We found a couple of interesting places but nothing that invited us to spend time relaxing. We took a ferry and say dozens of dolphins, fed the grackles from our hand as we waiting and explored the coastal towns northeast of CC. 

One highlight of our time in Christi was the King Ranch, 45 minutes from CC where we had scheduled a Nature Expedition. A small van took our group of 8 over miles of this huge territory (The King Ranch is bigger than Rhode Island). We saw many different birds, javelinas (similar to a wild pig) an armadillo, deer, their specialty cows- which were quite lovely. It was many hours of stopping and seeing, my favorite kind of excursion. In Corpus Christi we had fair barbeque and some Mexican food. (high on the list).

     After picking up Gina and tending to some minor fixings to the van we headed to San Antonio. Molly, my friend, had gotten a hotel right in town - The Crockett, which we enjoyed very much. It was convenient to the Riverwalk, the Alamo,  and we visited a historical mission,  visited an architectural part of town,a botanical garden. Ate more barbeque. One night we went to the rodeo. It was quite the affair! In a stadium setting with lots of cowboys, families and decked out couples- fringes, cowboy boots and hats. A real slice of Americana. 

The following day we walked along the Riverwalk and had an outdoor breakfast with Gina enjoying the
folks walking by. She was very into being part of the group and enjoyed being included in activities. As it was Valentines Day there were many courthouse weddings going on in the central square. Nice to feel the love. Heading to Austin, Molly was a good sport to travel with Gina on her lap as we traveled.

As we did not spend days on the coast we headed for Fredericksburg, Northwest of Austin which had a fair amount of history and a large beginning of German heritage. It was a nice little town, busy as it was a three day weekend for Presidents Day. We found a funky hotel and spent a day walking the streets and eating and wandering in and out of shops.

We were right near Luchenbach, known far and wide from the Willie Nelson/ Waylon Jennings song  ( so we deviated a bit and it ended up being one of my favorite spots. It is not a town as was expected but a music venue with some weathered buildings and stages scattered among the trees. It was a spot I could have settled into one of the live concerts which are frequent and regrettably not playing when we were there but we partook of the local color and bought souvenirs. 

Austin, a young, vibrant city is chock full of 20/30 somethings. We were the oldest ones wherever we went. Walked around the town, visiting parks, hip streets, had a pleasant evening with some good jazz. A woman singer, a guitar player and a fine bass player. We visited cowboy boot stores, ate local ice cream, and walked, walked. Molly flew home from there  and I began the long trek home.