Week 299 December 21, 2019

This week has been a week highlighted with driving. Loren and I began it with a three nights’ stay at an AirBnB in Hot Springs National Park, in Arkansas. It gave us a full down-day after the two previous drive days from Washington DC to Tennessee then on to arrive in Hot Springs, Arkansas. While there we took two hikes in the park,

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and, spent time at one of the spas. The historic bath houses have been restored from yesteryear. Our AirBnB host recommended one in particular along Bathhouse Row where we soaked in the naturally hot mineral waters. It was interesting to learn here how, historically, combining a soak with “trail walking” was what the doctors ordered back in the day. For us, it was a good respite, one we would recommend.

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It was fun to find the town gaily decorated for the holidays. On our last evening, we attended the local Pocket Community Theater‘s irreverent comedy of “Radio TBS” (for Trailer Park Broadcasting Scandals), where our AirBnB host ran sound for the show.


The next day we marveled at how huge the state of Texas is to navigate. We stopped partway to stay overnight along the interstate, at Big Spring, Texas. I was surprised to discover a similarly named city – Big Springs, Texas, also exists. That one is further off the route we were taking. The one notable experience here was the sound I heard through our motel room doorway near dusk. It sounded familiar and seemed like the unique calls of Sand Hill Cranes. I stepped outside and confirmed several flocks of them were indeed flying overhead. In the morning, Loren enjoyed his first-ever Texan shaped waffle in the included breakfast.

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The next day, after driving by miles and miles of open land dotted with small settlements and cotton fields, we found simply going the city of El Paso, Texas, to be a long haul. At one point when we stopped for gas, I received a text from our mobile services provider, offering information for Mexico. I had to take a screenshot of it to convince myself that we actually might have unknowingly crossed the border, though our credit card company did not block that particular charge for gas. 


Finally, we arrived in New Mexico to stay two nights in Truth or Consequences. They too were brightly decorated for the holidays.


There’s an interesting story about how this town changed its name from Hot Springs, New Mexico. In part it was to distinguish itself from other Hot Springs in the states of Arkansas, California and Montana, when an opportunity came in the form of a contest offered by an historic radio show of the same name — which by the way turned into a television show from Loren’s and my youth. If you are interested in the full story, you can read more about it here:


What was more important to Loren however was to take in another couple of soaks. Truth or Consequences offers a spa on the banks of the Rio Grande River that we visited twice. Once we soaked in their several common pools during the day, the other time we indulged in a private hot bath in the evening, in a room named Sky in Italian.

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In between soaks we went on another “trail walk” to take in the dramatic landscape along the “Big River.” I especially delighted in the path’s name: Truth or Consequences Healing Waters Trail.

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Then our itinerary was to drive, drive, drive through western New Mexico, on through Arizona, and into southern California. All along the way we were warned about how to drive through dust storms by a variety of road signs. I learned the gist of it is to:

   1. Pull off the road
   2. Turn off the engine
   3. Turn off the lights
   4. Keep feet off the brakes, and, 
   5. Stay buckled, until the dust settles.

I am grateful that we did not experience any need to exercise these rules.

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When we arrived at the border of Arizona and California — where we had planned to spend the night, it was early and the sun was still out. We decided to drive further to have a shorter drive the next day. It took us several more hours though to drive through Los Angeles, but we stayed in a bedroom memorably named, “Van Gogh,” in Santa Clarita.


Our efforts to continue the drive had made it worthwhile, as the commute direction would have likely impeded our progress. Instead the next day’s drive was most pleasant mainly through California’s agricultural Central Valley. We have now arrived in northern California, just in time for Christmas. We wish you and yours all the best of the holidays!

Week 146 January 14, 2017

We were in Austin at the beginning of this week. As it is the Capitol city of Texas, and as we were in the downtown area, we paid a visit to the Capitol building. Here we learned a little more about the history of Texas. After it was part of Spain, it was part of France, then part of Mexico, then – yes there’s more – it was an independent colony of Mexico, before it became the 28th state to join the Union. Being an independent colony explains further what an AirBnB host had told us: since Texas was once its own country – a Republic – Texans are allowed to fly the state flag at the same height as the US flag. Texas was also part of the Confederate states after joining the union, but we learned that Governor Sam Houston was resistant to both sides of the Civil War, which then cost him his job. With all that history, the Capital proudly displays all 6 state seals.
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We again enjoyed eating – here we had various tacos, a BBQ dinner, sushi… It was still quite unusually cold for in Texas winter – that is frost on our windshield one morning. We stayed one night at a hostel that was opened by a travel blogger who Loren follows. Unfortunately he was not in town. We attended a UU Sunday service, and, we had a little more exercise this week with daily Bikram yoga classes. I had the delight to catch up with a Bikram Yoga Teacher Training Littermate, here! And, we enjoyed an evening walk at Zilker park where we captured the skyline in the nearing of twilight.
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It is true, Texans do things BIG… aside from the state itself being second only to Alaska in size, our first AirBnB in Fort Worth was in a big HOUSE, our AirBnB in Austin had big bed PILLOWS and big fluffy TOWELS, and, we saw big trailer loads of COTTON being harvested west of Austin, – in my photo, that is one “bale” with a huge tarp over it; and *at least* tens of square miles of WINDMILL farms, for example. I just had to stop by the side of the road to touch a puff of escaped cotton, many of which could be seen all over – there is a little seed inside, surrounded by soft cotton. On further thought, Loren and I might be more Texan than we thought – after all, we are on on a big 146 WEEKS of journeying, so far!
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Along our 12 hour drive to Santa Fe, New Mexico from Texas, we saw a few more than the usual number of hawks. Their flying closer to our car allowed us to see them better. Then there was the beautiful male pheasant right beside the road. And, we can attest that Canadian geese end up in the south, as we saw so many here, with one pond absolutely teeming with them as we drove by. Unfortunately we were unable to capture snapshots of any of these. Please take my word, the images are indelibly anchored in my memory.
[Update from a week later: I was able to make a couple of photos of hawks in the desert near Tecopa Hot Springs.}
To sum up Santa Fe for us in a word? It would have to be smitten! For example, we were thoroughly inspired at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Her life story is impressive – she too was smitten with New Mexico. We learned that her style of art is known as “imaginative… grounded in personal expression and harmonious design” leading “to an interpretation of the natural world, not a representation of it,” as she learned from studying art at the University of Virginia.
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Santa Fe happens to be the Capitol of New Mexico. Similar to how we visited the Capitol building in Austin, we stopped in at the one in Santa Fe too. Inside the building, most of its hallway walls are covered with impressive and inspiring galleries of art. Additionally most of the homes and buildings around Santa Fe are of the one story adobe style architecture, and some of them are gaily painted or decorated as well. Fun!
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We enjoyed taking more daily Bikram Yoga classes here, and, we found a couple of meaningful weekday activities in which to participate at the local Unitarian Universalist Congregation too. It is wonderful when we find a place that is home to a Bikram Yoga studio and a UU congregation. But we only had time to just whet our appetites for the locale – wide open spaces with fringe mountains nearby… Ahh!
We also hiked at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Kasha-Katuwe, translated from the Native American name, means White Cliffs. The only other place in the world where you can find such similar geological formations is in Cappadocia, Turkey. In a word, they are gorgeous!
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[Another update from a week later: I think these unique formations highly influenced the Sufi meditative dance practice of Whirling Dervishes, especially based on this image I found at the small public Library in Tecopa Hot Springs. What do you think?]
Today we will be driving 10 hours to stay a couple of nights in southern California… When we had first arrived at our AirBnB in Santa Fe, we found a pair of fun eyewear. I believe it is still a fine time to wish you a Happy, Healthy, and Most Meaningful 2017!

Week 145 January 7, 2017

Happy New Year! We rang in 2017 with cousins on their farm in Nebraska. We aimed for playing cards all night! Well, we nearly did. Loren and I went to bed after 2:30 am, the latest we have stayed up on a New Year’s Eve for several years now. It was a very fun evening!
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It was so good to be with these precious people again. Our weekend visit included going along to do a few farm chores…
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to Loren playing basketball and throwing the baseball with one cousin and his teens. It also included time to play with the dogs, attend church, visit other family farmhouses, and, play more cards.
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We were lucky in that the Nebraska winter was mild, until after we left! So driving to and from the farm was easy. Our next drive day took us from Nebraska, through Kansas and Oklahoma, to Texas, and we were again lucky with the winter weather for driving.
Starting in Fort Worth, we had a lovely dinner visit with more cousins. It was too short a time, yet most memorable, and for that I am thankful. That is my Mom, second from the left as an attendant in the wedding photo, and, the photo of four generations including my great-grandmother looks so very similar to another one that was taken of her, my grandmother, my Mom, and me. These are only some of the four generation relationships that my great-grandmother was a part of during her 100 years of life.
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The Arctic cold snap that was predicted in Nebraska arrived in Texas too. Karen told us that they had been wearing shorts the day before, but for now it has turned bone chilling cold. In Dallas, Loren and I went to see the George W. Bush Presidential Center located at Southern Methodist University. It was very cold here too, nothing like Loren had envisioned of Texas.
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The next day, in the city called College Station we toured the George H.W. Bush Presidential Museum at Texas A&M University. It was still very cold.
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Now we are in Austin and have seen the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library at the University of Texas. As LBJ was in office when we were both quite young, Loren and I learned a lot about what life in the world was like during his Presidency.
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Still in Austin we have taken a Bikram Yoga class, and plan to do so on each of the next few days. It is also cold here, but, the yoga studio staff assured us, even if the weather is predicted to be bad, it is always good weather on Sundays in Austin. We will see…
In the meantime, Loren and I wish you a wonderful, happy, healthy, healing year, 2017!

REPOSTING in Progress: Weeks 2 to 109

This place holder is for the entries from our original blog to be added, eventually. Please check back – this re-creation is a labor of Love and will take a bit of  t-i-m-e- which, while still traveling, we do not always have a lot available to devote to this.