Saturday, November 10, 2012


Being "on the road" is wonderful, exciting and joy-filled, but can also take you away and bring you to, family.  This trip has brought us to family back east that we haven't been able to see for years, and taken us away from family we were used to seeing every few months.

Family.  We've all had some - some good and some not so much.  Jack and I are very lucky in that we really like all of our family, getting along with each one, so seeing them is a joy.

My family in Washington is one that I have only gotten to see every few years.  One would think that with California only a couple of states away, it would have been more often, but traveling around "vacation time" from work, limited us.,  Now that we are retired, it will be different!  The latest pictures I have to share, were taken over three years ago at my sister's birthday.  I'm sure to see many changes.

This year we will be spending Thanksgiving together, along with some extra time for catching up.  I am so looking forward to it!  My two sisters have lots of kids and grand & great-grand kids that will be fun to see and spend time together. 

Our holidays have always been about family gatherings.  All the grown women sharing the cooking and baking - hanging together in the kitchen talking and laughing, sharing stories.  The guys in another room playing cards or watching tv talking and laughing.  All the youngsters running in and out, grabbing a snack, playing games, laughing, sharing.  Huge tables laden with way to much food.  Joy.

There's nothing I love more than to be surrounded by loved ones.  That's something to be thankful for.

...kicking back in Tacoma (for a couple of weeks!),  Marie

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A new look at an old favorite...

I'm  way behind in getting these out, so please forgive me...

In our quest to quickly get out of the storm's way, we headed across into Colorado.  Both of us have already been through various areas of Colorado over the years.  Some I've been without Jack because my son Nathan used to live outside of Denver and I would not only travel to see him, but he would also take me out and about.  Jack and I have traveled through together on various car trips - but - we had never been through the south-east corner of the state before.

Colorado is a favorite of ours, it's a beautiful state with so much to see and do.  It shows itself off with almost every color in a crayon box.  Every kind of terrain, from flat to hilly to jutting rocks and mountains sprinkled with snow.  Lakes and streams and creeks begging to be swam or fished in.

On a stop over, we stayed a couple of extra days to rest from long driving times and decided to go check out a "local attraction", the Colorado National Monument.  As with times past, we weren't disappointed. 

The Monument embraces 32 miles of rugged, up-and-down terrain.  Glorious views that stretch to distant horizons.  There were about 19 areas to stop and get out, take a deep breath and try and take it all in.  Of course I snaped many, many pictures - but they don't do it justice.  It took little encouragement from the trails and stairs to get me to climb, hike and perch myself on one of it's gigantic boulders to just stare out at it's magnificent views.  We've seen Bryce and the Grand Canyon, but this place, although part of the same system that created them, is different still. 

Geological wonders like these captivate me.  There is something about their majesty that speaks to my soul.  I want to slow down, gaze out, and breathe it all in.  The sounds of the wind through the canyons and around the sculpted rock along with the birds overhead singing out, create it's own kind of music.  Looking around and seeing all the various colors of greens, reds, oranges, purples, the blue of the sky, shadow and's like an artist has busy painting it all.

We've never actually been through Colorado in the spring, it always seems to be the fall that leads us there, so we've never seen the flowers in bloom, but can only imagine how that must add to it all.

We traveled much to quickly through these last few states (Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Montana) and need to see more of the gifts that they have to offer, so we will return...maybe in the spring.

...on the road,  Marie

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dream come true

Have you ever had a dream to see something "in person", one that you had for many, many years?  I have, and it was to see Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorials in person.  I've read about them, seen special television presentations on them, and seen other people's pictures of them.  I wondered, more than once, if I would ever get there. 

So, when Jack and I started planning our year and the places that were "a must" on our list, I said that these two places in South Dakota were ones that we just had to visit!  As we left California, we headed "towards the sun", so the route started in Arizona and just kept going towards Texas, Florida, etc.  It was only logical to head on up the East Coast through the summer, so routing ourselves back down towards South Dakota was going to have to wait until the Fall.  As we stayed longer and longer in some areas, it cut our timing to get back to the West.  Entering South Dakota we were watching the weather like hawks.  Right on our heels, appearing to come our way, was quite a bad winter storm, one we didn't want to get caught in!

As with this whole trip, we were blessed with good weather,  giving us just enough time to head to Keystone, and have at least one full day to see my two special monuments.  The day greeted us with sunshine with cool temperatures, so we headed up the mountain as early as we could.  Driving up the Black Hills mountain road was a joy in of itself.  Absolutely beautiful.  We even came across a section where rose quartz was exposed through the surrounding sandstone, granite boulders, shale and gypsum beds.  Trees growing out of the boulders.  Color everywhere...

But nothing compared to seeing the monument for the first time!  We were advised by our camp hosts to go up the mountain the longer, more scenic way than the signs send you, and that as we drive through the first tunnel we will see the monument as we exit.  My heart really started beating excitedly as we entered this first tunnel, knowing that I was going to get my first glimpse of the monument.  The little kid in me came out as I had Jack pull over to the side so I could jump out, camera in hand, and just stand there for a moment to take it in.  Pictures taken, now I was anxious to get up to the Visitor Center and see it closer, and in all it's glory!

As we drove closer and closer, I couldn't take my eyes off of magnificent.  When we arrived at the Visitor Center, I was amazed at how big, how beautiful, how large it was!  I had this image in my mind that it would just be a big carved out area where people stood to see the monument.  I thought there would be some gift shops and snack shops, but nothing in compared to what greeted us that day!  Once you park, and head towards the center, you are greeted with wide steps that lead you up to, and through the "Avenue of Flags" to enter the Information Center and Lincoln Borglum Visitor CenterFlags of each state hang overhead as you walk through, creating goose bumps for all that they stand for.  We made a brief stop at the Ranger Station, but enough of all that, I wanted to get as close as I could to see the monument! As I stood there and viewed the monument, I realized I was holding my breath; there's really nothing to compare to having your dream come true.

Afterward, we spent hours going through all the various exhibits & movies, with a stop for lunch.  Even as we ate, our view was of the monument...pure bliss.

We knew that we really only had this one day, so we needed to head to the Crazy Horse Memorial before the day got completely away from us.  Again, I expected something very simple - not the many, many rooms of exhibits, art, stories and memorabilia they share.  But before we went through all that, we "upgraded" our ticket to take a small bus ride up the mountain to get to the actual base of the sculpture.  Wow, what a great treat!  We could see and hear men actually working on the mountain as we stood there.  Cool, really cool.

I thought the sculpture would be further along than it was, but after learning that for the first 8 years the Sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski worked on it all by himself!  Even now, they only have 8 workers (6 from his family).  Ziolkowski was so committed to what this sculpture is all about, that he (and the Indians) don't want any government monies.  Every bit has come from donations and ticket sales.  At this rate, it won't be completed until my great-grandchildren come to visit!  One thing in their favor, is now there are more advanced ways to work through the rock, than in the early 1940's.  It was really interesting to walk through his studios, their family home and all the various memorabilia. I learned a lot.  A truly wonderful visit.

Dreams do come true.

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

One the road, Marie

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Quick Trip Through Nebraska!

On our quest to head west before the snow "catches" us, we traveled through the state of Nebraska, medium fast.  "Medium fast" is stopping here and there for something interesting, but not spending days at one place (just in case you didn't know!).  We had enough time to spend a few hours here and there, but didn't want to take the chance of taking to much time to put us behind.

One stop was a fascinating stop -  at Bailey Railroad Yard and Golden Spike Tower in North Platte.  Anyone who loves trains (the way we do) just had to make a stop here!  The Tower is 8 stories high that gives you a birds-eye view of the Bailey Yard.  The "Yard" is
where 10,000 cars are handled each day on 2,850 acres of land stretching out eight miles.  That's HUGE!!  It was hard for me to comprehend how big that is and how complicated a system it was.  Cars are moving in and out constantly, going east & west, in and out of the repair shop, and being fueled.  A 23-state rail system!  Lucky for us, there was a volunteer there to answer all our questions!  An "extra view" from this great tower, was a huge corn maze that was set up next door!  Pretty cool to see it from "above"! 

 One stop included a beautiful surprise -  at the Holiday RV Park in North Platte.  We stopped for the night, but got more than "rest".  Driving into the park we immediately saw that the park was surrounded with big, beautiful Cottonwood Trees, all painted in their fall colors of the various shades of yellow.  This was our first real taste of autumn.  Tons of leaves on the ground to crunch under our footsteps, cool fresh air to take deeps breaths of and then it added one more "beauty" - a gorgeous sunset!
One stop was a funny stop - at Carhenge in Alliance NE.  Carhenge is supposed to be a replica of Stonehenge made from 38 old cars, all painted gray and stuck deep into the ground.  It's one of those sites that you just have to "see it to believe it", so it was a must for us!  And well worth it, if for nothing else than a great chuckle for the day!  The story goes, that the sculpture, or more accurate the organizer,  Jim Reinders built it as a memorial to his father who used to have a farm on this site.  He and his relatives (35 of them!) got together and put the whole thing together with a big celebration on the summer solstice of 1987.  People like us stop and view it daily.  They have a souvineer shop with a snack shop on site (of course), but closed the day we stopped.  Darn, I could have gotten a T Shirt!  Oh, well, guess not this trip!  ha ha

And last but not least, one long view - of Prairies and Plains. They both looked pretty much the same to me, and I think that as we drove they would run one into the other and back again. Either way, it was different.  Long, low rolling hills (Prairies?) covered with what looked like sand and little Christmas trees (?) coupled with long, flat (as far as the eye could see) fields (Plains?) of harvested corn, hay or other crops.  Miles and miles and miles of them!

I think Nebraska is one of those states that we can consider viewed and enjoyed!

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...on the road through Nebraska,  Marie