( THAT'S MY WORLD click to visit photoblogs from all over. )
This is a Flashback post -- just to last week, when we were getting to the end of our RoadTrip.
We loved rural Louisiana when we were here five years ago, so even though we were eager to get to our new home in Ft Myers, we just had to take a day to lose ourselves on the backroads of Cajun Country.
We both think we might have been from here in a previous life. We love the friendly people, the slow pace, the birds and wildlife, and the climate. AND, not incidentally, and oh my gosh, THE FOOD!! Who knows, If we ever stayed here long enough, maybe I'd even learn to dance.
We stayed off of the freeway for just this one day, ending up in Houma where we went out to dinner (at left) and spent the night.
Our RV Park host recommended this place and she knew her town. We love it when that happens. Bill had something called a seafood steak and I had jambalaya -- both made with crawfish. Everything was perfect -- just the right spiciness, great service -- lots of fun.
On the way to Houma, we saw a bunch of rice paddys, with these little traps lined up in them. These are crawfish traps. We had learned when we were here before that the rice fields do double duty. Before the rice is ready to harvest, traps are set in the shallow waters, but we didn't have a chance then to watch the harvest.
So on this day, as we drove along, Bill spotted this guy working on one of the boats used to harvest the crop and we pulled over to watch. They were really nice guys and explained about a part that had broken. The welder was just about finished with his work, so we stayed to watch. Pretty soon, they were ready to launch.
There were three other men standing around while the welder worked, but when they launched it, only the youngest guy went out to empty the traps. One of the remaining guys was the land owner and the other was one of those nice guys who just likes to help when something needs to be fixed.
Some people call crawfish "mudbugs". They burrow into the mud on the bottom of the rice paddy when the water level goes down.
We always love to watch people work. And this is a job that we didn't know anything about (except that we really enjoy the results of their work).
So it was fun to watch and listen and learn.
And when we had dinner that night, we were grateful to crawfisherman as we enjoyed the fruits of their labors. (But we ordered ours prepared already.)
We are reflecting on how fortunate we are on this weekend as we hear about earthquakes and snowstorms and other examples of climate change. It has been raining off and on since we arrived on Friday, but we do not complain. Not at all.
There are some lovely reflective photoblog posts here WEEKEND REFLECTIONS. GO. SEE. ADD YOUR OWN REFLECTION.
We are travelers and we love to GO and we love to explore. But that doesn't mean that LEAVING is easy! Anytime we love a place, it is a little bit hard when it's time to leave, because there are always thngs you wanted to do and see that you didn't have time for and often new friends that you wish you could spend more time with.
And when you leave places where your family is, it is even harder. It doesn't matter whether it is a few months -- like when we left Oregon a couple of weeks ago -- or a few days -- like when we left San Antonio this week. It is never easy. And I am usually not a very happy camper for the first few hours after we get back on the road.
Leaving San Antonio (last view at left) was not made one bit better by the fact that as we got farther away from it and closer to Houston the air got smoggier and smoggier, the traffic got heavier and heavier, and the roadside view was mostly oilrigs and industrial scenes with a few ugly generic strip malls thrown in for contrast. It was not beautiful. I think I'd rather have the miles of nothing back there on the desert.
So, really, lovely San Antonio was kind of an oasis in between two different kinds of deserts! Of course, if we had kids who lived in Houston, we would love being there because they were there -- but it sure is a wonderful bonus that they live in a beautiful area instead.
We did make it into Louisiana on the first night after we left though and as soon as we got there, my mood improved considerably.
We spent time in the beautiful and historic city of San Antonio on one of our first RV trips. We celebrated the new Millenium on January 1 2000 at the city-wide party. We really enjoyed our stay then and loved the area, but now we love it more because we have a grandchild (and his parents)here!
We got to see the kids and their new home. And we spent some Saturday time together on San Antonio's historic and beautiful River Walk and in one of the nearby artisan neighborhoods.
Ryan is the grandson who spent a couple of weeks with us at Fern Ridge Shores last August while his mom and dad were finishing up their preparations for moving here from Tacoma, Washington. Here he is at his new Texas home with one member of his reptile and amphibian menagerie. (It is a leopard lizard, which is native to Afghanistan and Iraq. Because its habitat is being destroyed by the war there, Ryan explained to us, it is now an endangered species.)
It was a great visit. Not long enough, but we'll be back!
Here are a few more of Ryan's animals: (Click to enlarge)
Between our stop at Joshua Tree in California and our stop in San Antonio Texas, we covered a lot of miles of, well... as Bill said "there sure is a lot of nothin' out there." We wanted to get to San Antonio on the weekend, so we stayed right straight on I-10 through overnight stops at Quartzsite Arizona, Deming New Mexico, and Fort Stockton Texas.
There are some pretty cactus hillsides just past Tucson (bordering Saguero National Park), but before and after that, it is just scrub desert like the picture, except sometimes without even the mountains in the background.
At El Paso, we took a trans-mountain road around the city, happily missing the stop-and-go city freeway traffic and instead getting this view -- looking down on El Paso and beyond it, across the Rio Grande into the dangerous territory of Ciudad Juarez Mexico. We recently read that El Paso has a very low crime rate, in spite of it's proximity to the most dangerous city in Mexico. Probably true, but we still aren't tempted to spend much time in El Paso.
So this part of the journey was really just a road-trip. Traveling along for miles and miles and reflecting on the acres and acres of this big country where nobody at all lives.
We were happy to get into the Texas Hill Country and then into San Antonio, which is a beautiful city -- and especially so because we have family there now.
We lived in Washington State until our kids were aged around 12 down to 6. In those days (before all the birthdays were combined into one President's Day), February 22 was celebrated as Washington's Birthday -- both our first President's and the State's, because it was the date Washington was admitted to the Union.
FEBRUARY 22 is also our daughter's birthday!
One year on her birthday -- she was about four or five -- I heard her tell her brothers, in all seriousness: "They fly flags on MY birthday. But not on yours." Well yes. You can't argue with the truth. I don't know if they still fly flags on this date in Washington, but we still always think about flags flying on this red-letter day!
So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Cyndi. (It's the big _0 one).
May banners fly high on your birthday and all year long -- because you deserve it -- and may all your wishes come true.
THAT'S MY WORLD for beautiful photos from all over our world.
One of the great advantages of the RoadTrek over the truck and Fifth-Wheel is that we can take little side trips if there is something we'd like to see -- or visit scenic attractions off the main road -- without finding out in advance whether there is adequate parking or turn-around space.
Between Redlands and our next overnight stop (which was Quartzsite Arizona) we exited the freeway to spend a short while at the Cottonwood Springs area of Joshua Tree National Park. We've visited JOSHUA TREE several times in the past and neither of us quite understands why we love this Park so much since we're usually drawn to watery places. There's just a peacefulness to the place and something about those trees growing in this unlikeliest of places that appeals to us.
We thought there might be more water than usual in Cottonwood Spring because of the recent rains on the desert, but it was almost completely dry. Bill spied a little trickle of water after looking very hard. Still, the sky was blue and clear and it was a very pleasant place to take a break from the freeway.
One different thing about traveling with the RoadTrek instead of the Fifth-Wheel and truck is how easy it is to park. With the fifth-wheel, when we pulled into our spot for the night it always took time to jockey our longer house into our spot. Then Bill would plug in our electricity, water, and sewer connections while I went into the "house" to put out the slides and straighten up a bit. When Bill came in from his work, we were home for the evening -- two or three hundred miles down the road, but at home, just like we were the night before. With all the conveniences of any home, albeit on a smaller scale, we didn't really feel like we were on the road while we were in our traveling house.
But with the RoadTrek there is no separation between the vehicle we drive and the home we're sleleping in. Getting into our night's spot is no more difficult than parking a car -- and voila -- we are home, without even having to open the car door. It still takes a few minutes to hook up the connections, but it feels funny to me for a few minutes since I really have no chores to do at all. We usually go for a walk around the RV Park (as we did when we pulled the Fifth-Wheel) and by the time we return from that my head is in the right place. After all, although we are still living a Full-Time Life, we are only traveling through part of it in the Road-Trek!
Here's another highlight or two from last week.
Picking oranges at Orange Grove RV Resort, Bakersfield CA. Bakersfield isn't the most lovely city in California, but this is a great RV park -- built in an old orange grove and they kept the trees. -- the orange pickers are provided free in season. And in season is right now -- these oranges are SWEEET!!! Sadly, since we have limited storage space in the RoadTrek, our harvest is gone already. A great place to stop.
From Bakersfield, we drove to Long Beach to visit my Aunt Sally Roberta (who is 102) and my cousins. We had a wonderful day talking politics and hearing old family stories. We had hoped to stay in Long Beach and have breakfast the next day with family before moving on, but there was no room anywhere in the area. Next time, we will make reservations in advance. Sadly, as usual when I'm with family, I forgot to take pictures. Too busy listening and talking (not necessarily in that order). We had a great day before moving on to Redlands, where we found a nice RV Park.
We took some oranges to Sally Roberta. When she moved to the area in the 1940s, she could visit orange groves near her home, but those days are long past as housing developments have covered over all of the groves. So people in the LA area buy pretty much the same oranges as you get at Safeway in Oregon or Idaho or Texas. The fresh-picked ones are so sweet they're almost an entirely different fruit.
After quite a few late-night hours of work "we" have fixed our Verizon connection and are back on line. And by "we" I mean Bill, completely alone and unassisted. Computers seem to me to have minds of their own that I don't understand. I'm glad Bill does!
We are doing fine in our new little rolling home and adjusting to the small space. We are putting in more miles each day because the RoadTrek drives like a car -- we can actually drive in the fast lane sometimes.
Here are some highlights from the first couple of days of the current roadtrip:
We stayed the first night out at Seven Feathers Casino in southern Oregon. The casino is owned by the Cow Creek Band of the Umpqua Indian Tribe. This is way closer to our Oregon headquarters than we'd usually stop, but we didn't get out of Fern Ridge and Eugene until about 5 p.m. This is a beautiful RV Park, clean and modern. We didn't use any of the amenities the resort offered, but they are many (beautiful indoor pool, game room, spa plus everything in the Casino). As usual with Casinos, if you used the facility there were second night discounts offered -- but we were in a hurry to get on the road so we didn't take advantage of that. We walked along this Creek to go out to breakfast the next day. The Tribe is using Casino funds to restore it for fish habitat.
In November, when we first learned that we wouldn't be leaving on our roadtrip until February, we knew that if the weather was bad then we could take the slower Coast route south so that we wouldn't have to drive over any Mountain passes.
Fortunately for us, but unfortunately for Oregon and Northern California, there was almost no snow to contend with. The Siskyou Pass in Oregon was completely bare and there was very little on Mt. Shasta.
Unlike the rest of the country that is getting dumped on, the West has had little snow and this is probably going to mean a drought this summer.
Here is Mt. Shasta in the distance.
Both of these pictures were taken through the car windshield as we drove. They didn't turn out too badly. It is a good thing the camera has that little shaky hand icon.
Everything is straight out of the camera, because I really want to try to post as we go along and I don't have much time to edit.
We are alive and well and staying in San Antonio. Our Verizon connection isn't working at all and the RV Park's Wy-Fi is iffy, so this may be all the posts I do for the few days we're here.
Our 11-year old grandson (and his parents) live nearby and so of course we are very happy to be here.
We'll catch up with posting and blog reading as soon as we can.
HAPPY MARDI GRAS (FAT TUESDAY) and RUBY TUESDAY (Red Tuesday)!
These pictures are from the Mobile Alabama Mardi Gras celebration in 2005. In the Pacific Northwest, we had Lent but we never got to celebrate for weeks leading up to it! We loved the parades. It really is a wonderful community-wide party and more family-friendly than the better-known one in New Orleans. Mobile says that they celebrated it first and New Orleans stole the idea.
Please click on the blue link in the first line to see more ruby red pictures. Or post your own favorite post featuring RED. And thank you to Mary at Work of the Poet for hosting this meme.
WATERY WEDNESDAY for more water views.
We had some out-of-town company the last weekend we were at Fern Ridge Shores. They were headed to the Washington Coast, so we decided that we'd drive to Florence (about 40 miles west of FRS) Saturday and spend the day with them on the Oregon Coast. Of course, it poured down rain the entire time they were here. Typical for Oregon -- just when you'd like to show it off, it does nothing but rain. Since it was too wet to walk on the beach, we decided to tour the Sea Lion Caves -- just 11 miles North of Florence
Sea Lion Caves, said to be the world's largest sea cave, has been a privately owned attraction on the Oregon Coast for over 60 years. We haven't been there for many many years, because it's really one of those spots that, when you live nearby, becomes just another tourist trap. On our many trips to the Coast, we learned where to find sea lions by ourselves without paying an admission price. But it is a fun place to take guests who haven't seen sea lions in natural habitat. The Caves were busy -- there were about 500 of the creatures there that day. Apparently the ones who used to hang out at the San Francisco piers have migrated up the coast from California, so they are there in addition to the ones that always have lived in Oregon. Nobody seemed to know why they left California. There were a lot of jokes about it though.
You need sound and smell to get the full effect of these caves. Bill said they smell "like a bad fishmarket." And with this many of them, the roars in the cave were loud! But we had fun looking and at least it wasn't raining inside the caves.
And we had a great excuse to visit the beautiful Oregon Coast one more time before our roadtrip.Here is the link to Sea Lion Cave's official webpage:Click here
There is a pretty good view of Cape Perpetua Lighthouse from the viewpoint at the top of the elevator to the Cave, even though it was overcast and raining on and off.
We've been full-time RVers for ten years -- traveling around the country in our fifth-wheel trailer pulled by a Freightliner truck. Click here to read about why we're now traveling in this RoadTrek instead.
SCROLL DOWN to read our latest posts. Click on any of the pages or categories listed on the right to read older posts about some of the places where we've traveled. All pictures can be clicked to enlarge. You can leave comments on any post, even an older one, and we will see it.
Thanks for visiting -- come again!
This is a post for REMEMBER WHENSDAY . Visit it to read other memories -- or post your own! Thanks to Sally in Washington who gives us this meme.
When we were first married, one of Bill's jobs (while he was going to college) was working for the local daily newspaper as a professional news photographer. It was a complicated and technical job. Even snapshot photography was expensive enough that taking pictures was kind of a special occasion thing -- holidays, vacations and the like.
We have talked a lot lately about how easy photography is now for amateurs. Our digital cameras make it easy to take pictures -- a lot of them -- and blogging and digital frames make it fun to enjoy and share the results, without digging out those photo albums.In the late 1960s, my dad (who was sort of semi-retired by then) got interested in taking slide photos. He was proud of his camera, which he thought was the ultimate in modern technology -- and it was back then. He got pretty good at it. In fact, many of the everyday snapshots we have of our four kids are from slides taken by him. (Who back then had the time or the money to take a lot of pictures of their own kids?) I'm forever grateful that he made prints of those pictures for us.
I don't have very many snapshots of Dad, because he would usually have been behind the camera, but I guess once in a while he let somebody else snap the picture. (Here he is at the Spokane World's Fair in 1974.)
In those years, Mom and Dad were able to do some traveling and from every trip they brought back a slide show of their adventures.* It was pretty much mandatory for all the kids and grandkids to watch the show the next time we were at their house.
I know my Dad would have loved taking pictures with a digital camera. But I can't imagine that he would have approved of blogging and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have enjoyed displaying his pictures in a digital frame as much as he did running the slide projector and narrating those trips for us.Well, we are not into mandatory viewings at our house, so the digital frame works great for us. Visitors can look at the pictures if they are interested, but they don't have to. For us, it is really fun have our own album right there on the wall.
I wish though that my dad were still here so we could share our photography tips! The picture above is my parents walking on the Snake River Path near our hometown of Clarkston Washington. It is dated 1977 and Bill snapped it when we were there on a visit -- by that time we had moved to Oregon.)
*We still have boxes and boxes of mom and dad's travel slides stored away in our daughter's barn; after all these years, I still can't quite bring myself to dispose of them.
For RUBY TUESDAY here are a couple more pictures from the archives. We went to London to celebrate our Golden Wedding Anniversary, so that kind of fits into the Valentine's Day Theme that most people will probably share this week. (Awww!)
We planned to see as many historic palaces as we could while we were staying there, but it was a wonderful surprise to find so many beautiful gardens everywhere we went. We loved them.
This is Hampton Court Palace and part of the formal gardens there.
WHAT WE SAID ABOUT IT THEN (Click here to read our blog post about Hampton Court.)
Below: KEW PALACE, LONDON. This is the smallest one of the Royal Palaces and was once the home of King George III. It is on the Thames up from London. Both palaces are part of trusts now and are open to the public.
CLICK ON THE BLUE LINK IN THE FIRST LINE TO SEE MORE RUBY TUESDAY POSTS at Work of the Poet. Or to add your own.
THIS IS A SUNDAY REPEAT ABOUT A PLACE WE LOVED VISITING. We were last at Crazy Horse in June of 2008; there is a link in the original post that takes you to the monument's official home page where you can read what is happening there today.
Here is our original post.
We are a little obsessed with this monument. It's kind of odd to feel that way, because when you think about it, carving up mountains doesn't seem like something nature lovers would necessarily applaud. (I hope this admission doesn't get me on the Patriot Act list of suspicious persons, but Mount Rushmore, which is nearby, kind of left us cold. We went to see it the first time we were in South Dakota. We were glad we saw it, but it looks better in the movies or on stamps or license plates than it does "in person" and we don't especially want to go to see it again.)
On the other hand, this was our third visit to Crazy Horse and we'd definitely go again whenever we're in our adopted home state.
There are so many facets to the amazing story of this monument. It isn't hard to see why it is so fascinating. One of the main reasons it's so interesting is that you are seeing a work in progress. This is a current picture of the unfinished monument from the viewing veranda in the visitor center. In the foreground is a 1/34 scale model. Chief Crazy Horse is pointing to the lands that once belonged to his tribe. He said "My lands are where my dead lie buried."
Millions of tons of rock have been removed from the mountain. The face of Chief Crazy Horse is nine-stories high. Right now, the work is on the horse's head, which is 22 stories. The whole sculpture is being built in the round. This poster (click on it to enlarge) gives the actual measurements.
The statue's creator was Korzak Ziolkowski. A respected marble sculptor, he had assisted Gutzon Borglum in creating Mount Rushmore. Some time after that monument was dedicated, Lakota Chief Standing Bear asked Korzak to the Black Hills to carve Crazy Horse. He said: "My fellow chiefs and I would like the white man to know that the red man has great heroes, too." Korzak (he is always referred to by his first name) accepted the challenge and began to design a monument that he knew would take generations to complete. He began work in 1948, without much money and without very good working tools.
I think the monument does a good job of honoring the Native Americans who inhabited this area. Korzak's family has established the Indian Museum of North America on the grounds of the monument. In the Visitor Center, there is a huge collection of Native American artifacts, a collection of Edward Curtis photos of Native Americans, and a cultural center for Native Americans of all tribes.
In this picture, you can see where they are going to blast out the horse's head.
The Ziolkowski family story is fascinating. Korzak married Ruth after he began work on the monument. They had ten children who were raised with the project. Korzak died in 1982. Work continues from detailed plans that he left, because he always knew that it would take more than a lifetime. His widow, Ruth, heads the foundation. Seven of their children, as well as some grandchildren, have an active role working on the monument. You can tour part of their original home.
The Mountain is a private foundation and they have never accepted any public funding. At the beginning, Korzak supported the family by running a lumber mill and a dairy farm at the same time as he worked on the carving. His motto was "Never forget your dreams."
The visitor center was established pretty early in the process and it is very active now. Of course these days they get private donations. All of the buildings were built made from stone fragments blasted off the mountain.
On a previous visit to the Monument, we got to see a night blast. These take place twice a year, on Korzak's birthday (which date he shares with Chief Crazy Horse) and on Ruth's birthday. We just arrived by chance on the right day that time.
Here is a link to the Crazy Horse website: http://www.crazyhorse.org . Never forget your dreams!
Hunting season ended last weekend and so the Canada geese are flying lower and louder and this is our alarm clock. I wish there were sound effects!
One hour later, the sky looked like this:
MANY BEAUTIFUL SKIES are here at Skywatch Friday. The hosts of this meme have added a feature so that you can see thumbnails of each participant's sky shots. Very cool!
I've been posting a lot of old favorite photos recently and this is because we've been spending time searching our "archives" for pictures to load into our digital frame. This meant some enforced photo-file sorting and cleaning up. It was good to have an incentive to do this job!
We decided to use at least one picture from each state where we've "lived" as RVers as well as a few from our stay in London.
Now that the frame is loaded, I sometimes find myself mesmerized watching as one favorite place fades into another. (Yes, I am easily amused.)
Many of our favorite places and pictures are of watery scenes. The pictures below are sort of how three of them look in the digital frame.
CLICK HERE to view WATERY WEDNESDAY blog posts from all over.