Sunday, July 31, 2011


After a white knuckle drive to Salt Lake City Airport (road construction, accidents), I picked up my hub and headed north. We finally broke through the traffic and stopped in the city of Brigham Young in order to catch our breath. There were several fruit stands along the road and my hub told me when he was a boy.....this whole area was covered with orchards and was known for fruit.

We bought a bag of Rainier cherries and it's a good thing the stand was closing because I would have turned around and bought them out. Incredible...fresh sweet fruit....which helped calm my nerves from this nasty drive through Salt Lake.

We hit Idaho....and the hills and sunlight immediately became softer and incredible as this sound....we shut off the AC and opened the windows. Idaho evenings are known for their soft breezes and coolness and it was fabulous after so much heat to drive down the interstate with natural air.

I found a new thing to obsess about today and that was the crack in my window shield. Yep, a rock must have struck the corner of the window shield and slowly a wonderful arching crack is developing.....I put a band aid over the crack....not to fix it....but to track how far it was spreading......because there is not a fricking thing I can do about this.....

Today we visited a friend in Idaho.......and headed through Montana to visit another friend in Bozeman. The valleys were delightful......and even though it was overcast it didn't rain till we reached our destination.

After a tense few days of driving it is wonderful to have a traveling companion.

Tomorrow we head towards Glacier....with a good weather forecast....and excitement about staying in the "Big Tree" National Park Lodge.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


At 545am, I was up and dressed and headed to the state park. I took the advice of the Ranger I met who told me to get there at dawn.....before the heat and the crowds.

Although the Park was only 5 miles away.....I found myself getting more and more anxious as I drove to it. I've been to multiple cities by myself...NYC....Zurich...Singapore.....but I rarely go hiking or into nature solo. It seems I'm a bit afraid of the unknown.....either that my car will break down and I will be stranded or there would be some type of trail boogeyman to accost me.

I kept telling myself that if the car breaks about an hour more folks would arrive and in a couple of hours I would be surrounded by hordes of really there was only inconvenience awaiting me. As far as the trail boogeyman.....I didn't know what to tell myself....of course there could be one....but at this time of the morning it meant he had waiting all night by a trail waiting just for me....which I think was illogical.

As I climbed upwards on the road.....the sky was beginning to lightened up and I could start seeing the silhouettes of formations and the valleys and petrified dunes on each side of me. The light actually turned pinkish....and so the surrounding desert was a mixture of purple and pink. I finally did start to relax as I could see now....(and I could see no trail boogeymen waiting around) and the signage help me get my bearings.

I decided to watch the sun go up near Delicate Arch, the famed Arch, the symbolizes the park. I was the first car in the parking lot....and for a few seconds my heart beat hard but I parked and hit the trail. In a few minutes, the absolute quiet calmed me down.....a bird cheeped....and since this was an uphill trail in a few short minutes I had a clear vista of the desert for miles. It was a gorgeous..and I felt so privileged to share it in this quiet moment and intimate moment. Soon hordes of tourist would be here....but right was me and this beautiful desert with soft red sands and a surprising amount of low green shrubs and broken short junipers. I climbed with new confidence. Scram you trail was Gina and the desert now.

I huffed and puffed and got quite high on the trail.....and the higher I got....the more incentive I had to keep moving because if I stopped.....I was surrounded by a swarm of mosquitoes. Mosquitoes....what the heck are mosquitoes doing in the desert????? But this was not your typical desert right here......the sand was soft and felt moist and I actually came across a tiny puddle or two from a rainstorm the night before. Apparently there were enough crevices or nooks around here to hold water and hence the mosquitoes. I sprinted up the rest of the trail. After taking pictures and just being......I heard something rustling on the trail......mules? sheep?...aahh....a couple of cheerful German tourists.....hiking vigorously and shouting, "Gud Murning." I realized I had nothing to fear from trail boogeymen any longer and scrambled down the mountain to my next hike.

I hiked and visited most of the trail heads....that were easily accessible.....but by 1030 it was getting hot.....already 90 degrees and I was pooped....since I had been walking around since I headed out of the park...putting up the windows and enjoying the aircon. I was sort of smug heading on the exit car after car and RV and bus kept swooping by me. These people were nuts to head out so late to these there wasn't much cover and the sun was merciless.

I granted myself a rest for the remainder of the day.....I went swimming......sunnned a bit.....walked a little downtown......then curled up in bed with the air conditioner blasting.....and read a little. After driving 1300 miles.....avoiding a car crash.......and fighting off a GI virus.....I figured I earned the right to do nothing.

This morning I am packed and watching the a short time.....I'll hit the road and head to Salt Lake City......where I should rendevous with my hub.....and then head off to Idaho and Montana. Yippeeee!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Illness, Beauty and Almost....Sudden Death....

Well, I am in Moab, Utah.....perched 5 miles from Arches National Park which I will drive to tomorrow morning at 5:15 am to see the sunrise.

I feel like I've been traveling for weeks but it's only been two days.

Tuesday night I was all packed ....sat back and watched some TV....and went to bed ready to rise and pack and hit the road.

At stomach woke me up. It felt like it was wiggling inside was making awful noises. I got up took an antacid but had to do the ol' sudden dash back to the bathroom....where I quickly genuflected to the toilet bowl.....and hugged it for the next 10 minutes or so....violently vomiting.

What hit me? Was it the trail mix I snacked on before bed? Did I get food poisoning from something I ate during the day. I didn't have much time to think.....because wave after of wave of stomach trouble hit me....and the toilet bowl and I became best friends. Finally around 5am....just 90 minutes before I was supposed to rise....I feel asleep.

I woke when my hub's alarm clock rang....and he advised me to sleep in and change my plans. No one should expect to drive 780 miles on two hours sleep and an uncertain stomach. But what could I do? Our whole vacation plan.....rested on me being in Salt Lake City in a few days to pick him up.....and how was I supposed to magically transport myself from here to there?

So I gingerly grabbed a Dr. Pepper....and a banana and a coke.....and took a deep breath and hoisted myself into the big rental SUV. It is a big ol' thing with very comfortable I turned on the A/C into the frigid zone.....and headed down to the interstate and turned West.

I tried not to think about my stomach.....or if I needed to go to the bathroom....and then decided....hell I crossed the Sahara desert and pee-ed and shit in the desert....if need be I could pull over onto some off road and relief myself.....if it came down to it.

Comforted that I had the worse case scenario taken care of.....I drove all the way into New Mexico.....very tired....but I was where I was supposed to be.....I got the room key....opened the door....crawled into bed and went to sleep till the next morning.

This morning I felt good.....I took a few bites of food....a tiny sip of coffee.....and hit the road in New Mexico headed for Moab. Google gave me two choices and I decided to go through Albuquerque and then north and then northwest.

It was a wonderful choice....the road I was on....was traveled enough so I didn't feel alone or anxious....and isolated enough that I could enjoy the spectacular sites of the back side of the Santa Fe mountains. I never turned on the radio......or plugged an audio book in.....or distracted myself in any way from the wonder of this road......headed through the high desert at 7000 feet.

And then with little warning.....the desert turned industrial.....oil rigs, trucks, tanks of all sorts sprouting up from the floor and some mining off in the distance.....from beauty to work horse and not a pretty animal either. For some reason, I felt a little uncomfortable....going through these towns. I realized it was silly.....I have traveled thousands of miles solo....but the massive trucks and equipment and the feel of being in a male industrialized environment had me wishing I had a sidekick.

I stopped for gas in a town called Farmington....and used my IPhone to check my said turn and go up the next road.....which I wasn't until I hit the sign which said welcome to Colorado.....that I flinched....what the hell was I doing in Colorado? I was supposed to be in New Mexico and Utah? I pulled over and realized my IPhone map had taken me up a road that was east of where I wanted to be......but it was salvageable....I could turn up ahead and only be off 20 miles or so.

So I relaxed....and I was so rewarded but some of the most gorgeous country I had ever driven through.....a combination of mountains and desert and sage and ranch and pine land. The road went up and down and curved this way and that....hugged a valley bottom and emerged in high country again. It was amazing......and all the time I was driving I kept wondering who lived in these ranches that dotted the landscape....who lived in the trailers....the tidy houses....the dilapidated dumps scattered here and there? Where were they from? How did they get out such a remote area? Did they live and die here? Where did men meet the women to marry and bring out here? The number of geraniums and flower planters surely indicated this was an area populated by men and women.

There was no clue.

I wondered too.....if you lived out here.....were you worried about the debt ceiling? Did you care what was going on in Washington?.....Did the war in Iraq or Afghanistan mean anything to you? Because every morning when you walked out your front had a stunning vista of plains and mountains and could see for a 100 miles.....and in so doing....did any of these Nightly News Things worry or bother you? Or was the landscape so big....that you became big.....and your soul expanded and the trifles that city people worried about....seemed quaint but not important.

Again there was no answer.......there were just men and women passing me by in pickups and SUVs and trucks.

By late afternoon...I was back on my original road.....and overjoyed that I was only 30 miles from neck was butt felt shoulder hurt and I had put on 1300 miles in two days. I smiled when I saw the first sandstone formation and pulled off the road with all the other take a picture of the "Cupcake/Tit."

I was disappointed my camera battery was not holding out.....and had to use my cell phone instead of my camera. I was enjoying the about 2o miles to Moab....when all of a sudden a white car in the opposite lane.....moving fast....(the speed limit was 70) quickly drifted into my lane and was now headed straight towards me. There was a second of disbelief....and then I looked right....thinking I would drive off the road.....and gasped because in this section of the highway there was a drop off of a couple of feet after the shoulder.

The car was headed straight for me....a truck was ahead of her and blocked my exit off to the left.....I hit the brakes.....and turned into the shoulder trying not to go off the edge....I also hit my horn......the woman must of fallen asleep and woke up.....because she turned her car and passed by side mirror by inches. I could see she was an elderly women, in a white blouse, wearing bifocals....that's how close she was.

My heart was in my throat.....and I turned back onto the highway.....the car behind me was a log way off. I couldn't believe I escaped the crash......I couldn't believe how in seconds....this car drifted and then sped right towards me.....I couldn't believe how the flat desert changed in this particular section to a place with a drop off.... which meant I would have rolled instead of sailed across land beyond the shoulder.

About 15 minutes later I sat down in front of the information center in Moab and started to cry. I don't know why....I was alright.....things had worked out well...but I was all teary eyed....and drained.

I drove down the street to my hotel.....feeling a bit alien.....wondering what the hell I was doing in Utah. Every car coming towards me looked menacing.....a big truck driving a bit over the line....made me swerve towards the right.

Steady girl....I could have happened but it didn't.

Move on. Tomorrow.....a drive into the National Park....with small hikes....and lots of picture taking.

Move on.

Gender Vision.....

This was the first sandstone formation I saw near Arches National Park in I pulled over and took a picture and texted it to my husband.

"Look at cupcake in desert"

He texted back that the formation looked more like....a tit than a cupcake.

Ah the difference between men and women.

Monday, July 25, 2011

One Trip Down ....One very Intersting one to go.......

I have been home a few days.....and I'm getting ready for the next big trip which starts Wednesday.

My 1992 mile trip.....was a wedding trip.....on to Ohio to work with my daughter on wedding arrangements and then on to Chicago to get wedding stuff.

Ohio was as hot as the south.....and gruesome in the temperature department.

We sweated and phewed our way through making payments for some of services and checking out one or two hotels to recommend for guests.

My daughter's house has a basement which turned into a spot of bliss. Cool cool and was a relief to sit there for a spell. It was so comfortable, we decided to work on the special wedding tables down there...the Heritage table, with all the old family pictures, and the Sweets table with assorted places for treats. I was happy.....she liked everything I brought up for the wedding....and we were in total sync until we got to the mock up of the dinner table.

We bought beautiful lanterns and some votives.....and I placed a few artificial roses in the lantern....scattered the votives and said....viola honey.

Rejoicing because it was easy and we would be done.

She turned to me and started to pout. The lantern idea came from a wedding magazine but the lantern in the pic was surround by various vases of flowers, bowls of rocks and foliage and other little trinkets. She wanted to copy it.

Before I could even lip puffed out too. I couldn't comprehend the fuss and the expense of the arrangement she wanted to seemed too high.....if you sat down at the table you couldn't see your seatmate across the way because of the centerpieces...a definite no no in my book of conversation.

I walked away ....kept quiet and just asked her to make up her mind before I left the next day.

The next day arrived and she handed me the artificial roses and said she wanted the table to match the picture. I didn't say a word.....that's just fine I thought.....she could purchase the vases and price the flowers and accessories and decide if it was worth the cost......especially if she was paying for perceptions change when you are footing the bill.

Chicago was just a blur of stores and obligations and I was back on the road in less than 24 hours.

I had saved an audio book for the long drive home that turned out great.

When I was on Long Island I visited Sagamore Hill, the home of Teddy Roosevelt. I arrived too early for tour and decided to wait for the next tour in one of the rocking chairs on the veranda. Since there weren't too many tourists that day....I had the porch all to myself....and I tried to imagine myself sitting with the Roosevelt family on their porch way back when.....asking for a lemonade....rocking and chatting.

It was so enchanting to look out over the large expanse of lawn and just rock....I missed the next tour and just rocked back and forth.

Finally, I pulled myself out of the chair and viewed the rest of the house which was fascinating....filled with trophies and exotica from all over the world. I made a promise to myself to read up on Roosevelt.....and learn more about this eccentric and intelligent man.

So now, a couple of years later, the audio book took me through his early life up to the day he became President. Although I got a few names and political intrigues mixed up, (I did have to pay some attention to my interstate driving), it was a splendid book to drive home with....and I often flashed back to my memories of the land, the house and of course the rocking chair on the porch. two of the trilogy was available from the library and heads off West with me on Wednesday.

Now even I have to admit...this is one big trip coming I best go pack what's on my to-do list today: reading material, audio books, electronics and shoes.....lots of shoes...and get ready for all the stuff I have to do tomorrow before I leave.