Archives for posts with tag: travel

The first wildflowers I noticed along the highway were Indian Paintbrush, which started small12986938_10208256409264599_7286732991570888144_nand then grew taller and fuller until they blanketed hills along the way.DSC_0009As the weeks have gone by, other wildflowers have appeared. There are patches or whole fields of one color and then there are the mixed fields. Driving along, you spot the colors sometimes paired with native grasses as you whiz by.DSC_0102This week, I stopped on a beautiful bright breezy day because the flowers are so different up close. First there were large vistas of purples that appeared over the last week. DSC_0019Look how pretty these flowers are up close. Nothing like you would think from the road.DSC_0023Then there were white flowers, some standing tall above the other plants, waving in the wind.DSC_0065Up close, they are little bouquets.DSC_0033Or these other small flowers for a doll size bouquet.DSC_0060The yellows are in bloom, swaying in the background.DSC_0087These are probably something that irritates those with allergies, but they are so pretty.DSC_0092And smaller yellow babies are bright along the ground.DSC_0101More tiny flowers for the doll tea party…DSC_0074Or flowers as bright as the sun that day.DSC_0095A random flower to accent the field.DSC_0100And more fields of orangey red blazed beside the road.DSC_0070And more and more orangeDSC_0069Indian paintbrush…DSC_0006mixed with Indian Blanket, Oklahoma’s state wildflower.DSC_0045As I was getting in my car on one of the gravel or dirt roads where I pulled off to wade in the flowers, a pickup stopped and a scruffy resident smiled a somewhat toothless grin and asked if I was stuck. I laughed and said I had stopped to see the wildflowers. He laughed back, waved and drove away. I can’t imagine that people who live in the middle of all this color don’t love it as much as I do, but maybe some take it for granted.

If you don’t stop to smell the flowers, you miss so much. If I hadn’t stopped, I’d have missed this fellow fan of the flowers. And that would have been my great loss that day.DSC_0043

I’m on the road again for a short trip.  I’m not that young, but I still get around pretty well, love driving trips, love exploring new things.  I can keep up pretty well with my grandkids, which is my goal.

You’ve all seen them when you travel, the bus loads of old people on tour,  you’ve probably tried to avoid them when you can, along with bus loads of noisy kids.  They’re both a nuisance, you may think.

This week I was in Hannibal, Missouri.  If I have to tell you the main reason people travel there, then you need to look it up.  At the hotel where I was staying, there was a bus load of Geezers, Geezers from Kentucky.  I need to remind you that these are my people, I am one of them, some are younger than I am, I can actually relate to them.  I watched them, wearing their name-badges around their necks, waiting to go to their next meal or  their next tour, visiting with each other, laughing and telling stories.

My thoughts on the Geezers on the bus was “Good for them!!!”  They don’t feel safe driving anymore, they don’t want to deal with reservations and bags, but they want to be out seeing and doing.  Some of them had canes or creaked along, but they were out there doing it!  They weren’t sitting around thinking about their lives, they were out there experiencing it.  And laughing and learning and enjoying friends and making new ones.  Thank you for these tours, for the bus drivers who take care of them, for the people who take them.

The other Geezers I watched in Hannibal on a Monday in July were the ones who were traveling with family. A few had brought a young grandchild along.  I watched a boy about 8 rolling his eyes while his grandfather explained about Mark Twain and Tom Sawyer as we stood near the famous whitewashed fence.  Someday, that boy may bring his grandson here, too.  Hopefully, the memories will be strong when he looks back.  The grandparents were loving watching their grandchildren ride on a riverboat for the first time, taking pictures, a gift for all generations.

As I travel around, I’m grateful I can still get there on my own, but I’m happy for my contemporaries and my elders, because there are still a lot of people older than I am, who are out there.

On a Monday night, visitors gathered to listen to a band play old tunes in front of an ice cream parlor.  Many were older, sitting on benches, humming along.  Lovely.image

As Willie Nelson, a Geezer if there ever was one, sings “I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

Driving trips are my favorite, but sometimes you must fly.  I’m fascinated by the landscapes below and the patterns from above.  I click shots, trying to place what I’m seeing from a high perspective.  Flying west in America is a constant study of geology, geography, and art.  What cataclysmic events caused this upheaval of the planet, what up thrusts of rock, what cutting by glaciers left such jagged marks, which change so abruptly?

From Denver to Burbank, I was crossing territory I had driven several times. The beauty that mesmerized me on the ground created artistic designs from an airplane window.  My iPhone and iPad clicked away.

The snow covered Rocky Mountains in April…



The change from mountains to flatter, dryer lands with canyons carved through eons…image

And more ore canyons, winding in such tight twists that they form circles from above…


The projections of Lake Powell…

imageEdges of canyons…the Grand Canyon was on the other side of the plane…

imageEerie lights somewhere near Las Vegas and agricultural patterns are signs of people below


So many patterns through deserts and then the San Bernadino Mountains…image

And I end our bird’s eye view with patterns of civilization.  From wide open spaces to masses of people.

imageMy feet are back on the ground.

I’m told that the first years of retirement are for travel, before your body or your mind gets too weak and you just don’t feel like making the effort any more. Before I get depressed by that thought, I’m thinking back over the wonderful places I’ve been in my life and wondering which way to go this year with almost an entire year stretched before me.

One thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to go far to find beauty, history, and interesting people and stories. Last year, way back in 2013, I explored some areas of my home state of Oklahoma that I’d never passed through in my 68 years here. I also travelled to the northwest and the southeast. Maybe this year, I’ll go northeast and southwest. Or all of them. I’ve travelled to other countries in my lifetime and have plenty of places to add to my global wish list. Right now I’m loving our country, which I can never get enough of, so I spend my cold evenings with my iPad in hand, searching maps and places, trying to narrow down where to go, knowing that new opportunities will be there as the days progress.

For your winter dreams, here are sunrises and sunsets in various places. . .

Oklahoma sunset

Scan 7

Naples, Florida sunrise


Pass Christian, Mississippi sunset


Smokey sunrise over the Grand Canyon


Texas sunset


Sunrise over Depoe Bay, Oregon


Sunset over San Francisco Bay from Oakland


Sunset over the Grand Tetons, Wyoming


Sunset over Nye Beach, Oregon


And, another Oklahoma sunset to top it off. . .


May your 2014 be filled with sunrises and sunsets in all the places you dream of.

A friend once commented that the only thing we can really give our children is memories. That’s a pretty important statement because it covers a lot of ground. Memories can be of lessons learned, like my mother teaching me manners or how to make a bed, or they can be painful, like hurt feelings or physical injuries or loss of loved ones. He was referring to the good ones, the fun ones, the special ones.

Watching my four year old granddaughter, who has already lost her Daddy and her other grandmother in her short life, I am amazed once again at how much little ones observe and remember. She’s at the age where she says “remember when…” a lot, already placing her memories in her ever so short past. But they are definitely stored there and who knows when she will bring them back into a conversation or how they will ultimately affect her life.

For Christmas, I gave my family a trip, a long weekend together, to Austin and San Antonio. The weekend after Christmas was the first time we could find that their schedules weren’t bogged down with sports or school or work, almost an impossibility to bring four families, 16 people together. But we did it. We spent four days traveling in four cars to two cities with eight adults and eight kids ranging from 12-16 with one four year old.

The gift for me was watching them all together, enjoying each other. We all live in the same city but it’s hard to find time to just relax and enjoy each other. The bigger kids go to school together and are close friends, so there was no teenage drama, no teen rolling his or her eyes at the parents. The little one was silly and the older ones were amused and helped with her antics. The parents all parented all the kids. I just got to sit and watch. And love them all.

Looking back at my own life, I have every kind of memory, good, bad, sad, funny. In all our lives, there are things that can’t be avoided, things that hurt, events and people we would like to forget. At best, we can learn and grow from them and put them in perspective. But, it’s important to have good memories, sweet memories, funny memories, to help balance it all out. My obsession with photos helps me with that. Not every memory has to be as elaborate as the trip we took, but it was great. We have many memories that cost us nothing and happened right at home. And, when we gather, whether it’s all of us or with some absent, all those memories are part of the conversation.

The gift for me is that my family has grown into a loud, laughing, loving bunch where there are no awkward silences, no sulking members, no hateful scenes and lots of the very best kind of memories. My resolution for 2014 is to make more of the good kind for everyone I know, family or friend. Happy New Year!


Will Rogers is about as Oklahoman as you can get. Part Cherokee, Oklahoma born, a state and national treasure. I grew up knowing about Will Rogers, visiting the memorial in Claremore several times. Later I worked in Claremore for a short time and visited it whenever I could. I even worked with some of Will’s descendants, many still living in the area. I had also been to his birthplace and have read several biographies, the best ones, in my opinion, being “Our Will Rogers,” by Homer Croy, an old friend, and “Will Rogers,” by Betty Rogers, his wife. In California, I visited his home with the polo fields and the comfortable house that I’d seen in photos.

Yesterday, I happened to be in Oologah and stopped by his birthplace for a random visit. The house was moved from its original location when Lake Oologah was developed, flooding the original 60,000 acre ranch owned by the Rogers family. Today, it is a beautiful 400 acre location high on the shores of the lake and lovingly cared for. It’s so unassuming for something so special. You barely see the sign on Hwy 169 in Oologah that tells you to turn and cross the railroad tracks, heading down a country road. The entrance to the Dog Iron Ranch is simple.



The house was called The White House of the Verdigris, the river that became the lake. It stood proud on the prairie, a testament to the hard work of Clem Rogers and his wife, Mary.


When you read the biographies, you know that Will lived a wonderful life in that home. Standing by the room where he was born, peeking into the parlor where his parents entertained visiting politicians, family friends and the young people of the area as his mother played the piano and they sang in front of the fireplace, I could feel them all. I pictured the dances in the dining room when they rolled up the rug or pulled taffy in front of the stove. It was as good a life as you could have in those times. Hard work, clean living, loving family, fun times together.

Listening to the love in the video narrated by Will Rogers, Jr., you have to feel proud of this family who contributed so much to our state and to the youngest child, the son who became the pride of a nation.

This happened to be a beautiful fall day, gorgeous to walk and enjoy the fall colors around the grounds and the lake. The barn was built in 1960 by Amish carpenters who used the techniques of the original barn. There were horses saddled and ready to ride, chickens running around and a couple of longhorn steers in the corrals. There are only fifty of them now rather than the 10,000 that Will worked with in his cowboy days on the ranch.





The guestbook recorded visitors from around the world who know of Will Rogers and came to see where he had his beginnings. Oklahomans continue to visit, remembering his life into the next generations. That was comforting to me, because it would be a sad world that didn’t remember the wisdom of this man who touched so many. In the end, it was a lovely stop on a gorgeous day.





Well worth a stop if you’re ever near Oolgah, Oklahoma. Here’s a favorite Will Rogers quote for today…

“Do the best you can and don’t take life too serious.”

OK – I can’t be the only person who brings home a carload of souvenirs from a road trip…can I? It’s not like I can’t remember the place or person, but I do tend to forget after a time and the things I pick up along the trails of my life make me smile as I walk by them or dust them and shake up a memory from a wonderful experience. My home is packed with such memories and I’m old enough to know I’ll never be a minimalist in any way. So, here’s what I brought home from my travels through the South this past two weeks…think what you will.

First are the general, sometimes tacky, souvenirs: hats, t-shirts, magnets, lapel/hat pins and a few books, including a Cajun Little Red Riding Hood, “Petite Rouge,” because I have other Cajun children’s stories and love to read them out loud. You can’t help but sound a little Cajun…DSC_1059


I’ve collected the pins since I was in Vienna way back in the 1970s and saw a man with pins on his hat in European fashion. I used to be somewhat casual about it, but ended up with quite a few and now always look for them. I have them on a little bulletin board in my laundry room that I pass by every day.DSC_0001


The refrigerator magnets are a new deal and I have to promise to stop…DSC_0002


I just bought a hat and t-shirt in the town where my father was born because that’s all they had. I bought a ball cap in Savannah to wear out on the water and a cute painted t-shirt in Charleston because I liked the artist.

Then there’s the food category, which really can get out of hand in the South…


After all, I can’t get boiled peanuts and okra chips at home and who could pass up the Peach or Cherry cider and the Sweet Potato anything? And I wanted to see what was in red rice, so I bought a package, and then we went to Avery Island where they make Tabasco sauce and had to buy some of the new flavors. This is nothing compared to the souvenirs that didn’t make it home because they were eaten along the way…another blog. I did buy a cookbook from one restaurant to get the recipe for the best sweet potato soufflé I’ve ever eaten.

And we had to have things from the nature part of the trip, so I have seashells from the Katrina-wrecked beaches of the Gulf and puppets of animals from the National Parks we visited, Mammoth Cave and the Great Smokey Mountains.DSC_1067


Finally, there were the antiques and art I had to have. I’ve always liked to support local artists, especially when they have pieces that represent what I’ve come to love in their home. So that is why I came home with a ceramic mug and platter from potters in Fairhope, Alabama, a painting from the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans, and antique tobacco basket from Thomasville, Georgia (what am I going to do with this huge piece even though I love it and got quite a deal on it) and an antique framed book plate by a well known artist of the Charleston Renaissance period (I learned about that). Each piece of art came with a story to make it even more special.DSC_1068


Maybe because I’ve owned a gift shop and know what it’s like to have people wander in and not buy anything, maybe because I’ve worked with artists for years and want them to be appreciated, maybe it’s the things my mother taught me, but I never, NEVER come home empty handed. The end result is that my home is a warehouse for some pretty exciting travels that I love to remember. I can only hope my children will smile and laugh a bit when they have to clean this stuff out when I’m gone! I can feel their eyes rolling…

Some of my fondest memories of my trip through the southern states will always be the people. I loved to sit still to hear their sweet southern drawls, which varied from region to region. Here are a few of my favorites…DSC_0304


Bonita was our first guide at The Hermitage, Andrew Jackson’s home outside of Nashville. All the guides dressed in period costume and this was her appropriate garb. I wondered how she felt about having to be the slave, but she was a gracious and wonderful guide, even posing when she saw me lift my camera. One of our other guides was asked if Jackson was a good slave owner and she answered that there was no such thing as a good slave owner. Bonita was a tribute to new attitudes in the south.GalleryToys


In Charleston, I saw an interesting antique shop while walking one evening and returned the next day on a whim. The sign said not to ring unless you were a serious buyer, which I always am. What a treat! The owner was Fred Le Clercq, who turned out to be a true southern gentleman. He is a retired law professor who has collected art and antiques for many, many years. The shop was actually his home, on the third floor at least, and it was filled from floor to ceiling with beautiful objects. I walked around taking it all in for awhile, tempted by so many things, and then started asking questions. He told me about many of the artists of the area and graciously took me around. He has another gallery at his lake home and I regretted not meeting his wife, who is the daughter of the famous Mrs. Whaley and has written garden books and other books. I decided on a small book plate by Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, one of the Charleston Renaissance artists of the early 20th century. I realized I had no checks with me, but Fred told me to just send a check when I got home. After he wrapped my purchase, he took me to their living quarters and showed me the original painting they own by this artist, as well as others. I glanced around their home, which was furnished in beautiful antiques and art. When I left, Fred took my hand, leaned down and blew gently across it, speaking in French. He asked me if I knew what that meant. I was so charmed that all my French lessons left me. He translated it as “until your return” or something close to that. Who wouldn’t love that? A lovely hour that reflected all you would dream of in Charleston.DSC_0656


In Savannah, we met Captain Dan and Penny. Dan was the old friend of an old friend of my friend, which is how we were introduced. They met us for dinner on the riverfront in Savannah soon after we arrived. It’s always such a treat when you have no idea what to expect, kind of like a blind date, and then it turns out to be something special. Dan is a musician and actor and had lived in Hollywood and Nashville before returning to his hometown near Scarboro, Georgia. Penny is a true Georgia girl with the best drawl in the world and loving, open arms for all. They live in Dan’s family home, a house built in the 1700s on 5,000 acres along the Ogeechee River. Penny works in Statesboro and they spend their weekends at their apartment on Middleton Island, close to Savannah and their boats docked at Thunderbolt Marina. On the weekends, Cap’n Dan takes charters for visitors from Tybee Island to fish or tour the islands. I told them at dinner that I was very interested in the islands and they invited us to join them the next day. They picked us up and drove us to Fort Pulanski for a great historical tour, complete with a cannon demonstration, out to Tybee Island, where I could have kicked back all day at the beach, back for a boat ride around the islands and to lunch at their favorite place on the water, a yacht club with a Jimmy Buffett atmosphere (Cap’n Dan’s description), and then for a tour of Bonaventure Cemetery. It was one of those days where you feel like you’ve been with friends you’ve known all your life and you know you will remain friends because the more you know about them, the more you like them.DSC_0794 - Version 2


In Fairhope, Alabama, across the bay from Mobile, we stayed with my traveling buddy’s friend, Graham. Fairhope is a beautiful town, full of artists and creative people of all sorts with an interesting and unique history. Graham attended the local Organic School as a child and his wife, Maggi, is now the director of the school’s museum. I knew Graham, but it was my first time to meet Maggi and she was a delight. We met for breakfast in the oldest cafe in the county, which didn’t disappoint. We walked over to her museum for a tour and she gifted us with books about the school’s founder, a book about Fairhope, and a novel, the last two written by Graham’s sister. We toured the very impressive museum of Fairhope History and met the director, another graduate of the Organic School. Maggi and I took a driving tour of the town and went to two pottery artists’ studios, since I expressed interest, especially since there is much history of pottery in the area. Again, I have a new friend, a lovely woman, I hope to see again very soon.DSC_0981


My last person I’ll tell you about is L’il John, our guide on a tour of the swamps in southern Louisiana, near Gibson, which is near Houma. I picked this tour because it was on private property and there would be no other boats. It turned out that the property had not been hunted or fished in 30 years, so the swamp was pretty pure. L’il John was Cajun and I loved listening to him talk about dem and dat, dropping any hard consonants at the end of words. I love listening to Cajuns talking anytime, but it was very appropriate while cruising through a swamp. L’il John has traveled a lot, but he was born in the area and told us he’s done everything legal and illegal back in those swamps. I believe him. There were only the two of us with him on the boat, so he didn’t have to fill the time with stories for the tourists. He said that most people don’t understand the lifestyle down there, haven’t had to live off the land. This was a man at home in this environment, which is so beautiful and so threatening. He tried to get us close to a 13′ and 16′ alligator, wanting them to come to the boat, but they swam off into their dens and hid under the water. I was fine with all the smaller ones that did get close. Alligators are not to be messed with, in my opinion. I held out meat for a smaller one, who jumped up to get it, making the pole I was holding snap. That’s close enough. He obviously knows every inch of the tour area and every critter living there. He told us that he usually shoots an alligator, showing us the hook that is used on the popular television shows. He said that using a hook to bring them in causes great pain to the alligators as it twists inside them, deeming it a stunt for the cameras. In a conversation a few states back, someone had told us that only the tail of the alligator was used for food. I asked L’il John about that and he said that the whole gator was good. I knew he’d tell me that. People who depend upon hunting for food don’t usually waste any of it. We had a good morning in the swamps and I’d like to think he was as sorry to see it end as we were.

Those are some of the people I met in the southern states that I bring back as special memories and special friends. You can tour and read and take pictures, but you can’t really understand an area until you meet the people who love it as much as you love your own place on earth. One of the joys of travel…

I am a tree-hugger. Whenever I meet one that I love, I really do want to wrap my arms around the trunk and feel that immense strength, hoping to absorb some of it.

I’ve visited the giant Cedars in remote western Montana…last year it was giant Sequoias in the west…this year it’s Live Oaks in the south. When I read about the Angel Tree, I had to visit…

The Angel Tree is in a park owned by the city of Charleston, even though it’s on John’s Island, a bit out of town. The tree has a very sacred feel, but it is named after the Angel family who used to own the property. The tree is estimated to be 400-500 years old, which means it was here when only Native Americans lived in the area, before the Europeans arrived. In 2012, developers proposed a giant condo complex nearby that would have possibly altered the environment in the area, but other lovers of this tree prevailed…Thank You!

Looking for the Angel Tree takes you on the highway out of Charleston, on the way to Kiawah Island. There is only a small sign to mark the tree and you turn onto a very rough dirt road that might discourage you from going further if this weren’t your destination. You drive through what could be a spooky forest of oaks draped in Spanish Moss until you see a clearing on your left. There is a small sign on the right and before you reach the drive, you see the tree and you are in shock at the size. The park is fenced in with a small log building, a couple of portable toilets and a few picnic tables. The cabin has souvenirs and a couple of women selling sweetgrass baskets on the back screened in porch. But, you’re here to see the tree.

You can’t get it all in one photo. It’s 65 feet tall and spreads over 17,000 square feet. The limbs are so heavy they’ve drooped to the ground. Ferns grow along limbs. You need to see people beside it to comprehend its size. After that intro, the tree speaks for itself, different from any side. There are abundant signs reminding visitors not to climb the tree, which is tempting, and not to carve it. Horrors!!!

imageDSC_0568DSC_0574On one side, the limbs on the ground look like individual trees until you see what they are…DSC_0577


I gave the tree several pats and hugs and left with a wonderful feeling of having shared a treasure of the earth back in the South Carolina forest. See if you can find me in the picture. I’m the tiny human, realizing her place in the universe is all relative…DSC_0573


I’m trying to plan a vacation, a meandering trip through several states. A leisurely look at our beautiful country. I’ve decided which way I’m headed…now to get ready. What the heck? Getting ready to leave is a trip of a different kind.

So, I need to clean the house. That’s for the house sitter or whoever takes care of the pets, picks up the mail, etc. Heaven help me if they have to experience the level of mess I overlook in my day-to-day living. I need to make sure I have my long list of what to stick in the car updated. When I drive, I pack for most every emergency, so there are first aid kits, flashlights, snacks and water, radios…not to mention clothes, maps (well, iPad), etc. I’ve learned to take a power strip to plug in all my electronics.

I’m taking another trip this fall by plane, so the packing will be very different, especially with the weight rules. To see the difference in travel packing, I always think of the time my in-laws traveled by car to see us. They were going to stop along the way, so they had fishing poles and tackle boxes, lots of bags, and coolers. On the way, they had a wreck that totaled their car and put them in the hospital. When they recovered, they flew home and my husband went with them. This was way back in the 90s, before all the travel restrictions we have today. He had to wrestle them (in wheelchairs) along with all of their car gear through the airports…a nightmare at the least. In spite of it, we treasured the mental picture of him getting them home along with his version of the trip. I still smile as I remember him telling me.

As you can see, I’m not cleaning the house or packing…I’m writing. That’s another thing…as organized as I am, as much reading and researching as I’ve done to make sure to not miss anything of interest on the trip, I’m still procrastinating on getting life at home ship-shape. Oh well, I know I’ll get everything on my list checked off…even if it’s midnight the night before I leave. It all gets done somehow…or not. And, it’s all ok.