Thursday, December 31, 2015

born to drive

Driven.  This describes me very well and in many ways.  Right now, however, I'm referring to my  love of driving.  I especially like the long distance drives I have taken over the years.  I've taken the family on cross country trips for vacations, for college tours and just for fun.  I have driven many miles to attend weddings, reunions and spur of the moment activities.  This past year I drove across the country from Florida to California and back (twice!) and traveled from southern California to British Columbia and back again.  I've driven on interstates and rural roads.  I've traveled on state highways that were at one time grand highways running coast to coast before being replaced by newer, grander highways. My atlas has the markings of all the road trips I've taken this year carefully recorded in highlighter with each leg of the trip marked in a different color so I can see how far I drove each day.  I've kept the car "greased and oiled", as my Dad would say, and that, plus some other work, has kept the car in good running order.  I've run over plenty of road trash on my journeys and amazingly come through the experiences in one piece.  I've done a lot of sightseeing along the way and visited with friends and family.  But mostly I just like the drive.  I can listen to music with the volume pumped up and I can choose what I want to hear.  Sometimes I play Christmas music in the summer.  Sometimes it's gospel music that draws my attention.  Sometimes it's a local talk show with a call-in swap meet that I find interesting.  And then there are the "dead spots" where there is nothing--I mean NOTHING-- coming over the air waves.  Actually, these are the good times.  It's quiet.  No sound.  Just me and my thoughts.  Just me and my thoughts and my car.  Going somewhere.  Peace.  Exhilaration.  Freedom.  Seeing.  Experiencing.  Just driving around.  Just driving.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Van Horn, Texas

I've passed through Van Horn, Texas many times and I always make this a stop for the night on my way east or west along I-10.  It sits between Ft. Stockton and El Paso with each of these cities being one hundred plus miles in the opposing direction from Van Horn.  I always stop at Chuey's for dinner, drop by the Dollar General store and then I catch a peaceful nights rest while listening to the sound of the freight trains as they move along the rails parallel to the main down town street.  Rise early and bask in the glory of a sunrise over west Texas.  Spectacular.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Yuma Territorial Prison

I visited the old territorial prison in Yuma, Arizona while on my way across Interstate 8.  The name Yuma stands out in my mind as a notorious town in wild west history.  This prison was in active use during the later 1800's and closed as a prison in the early part of the 20th century.  This prison housed both men and women and most of the prisoners served terms from a few months to five or six years.  Most of the prisoners survived to be released but there are others that landed in boot hill just outside the prison gates.  On the day that I visited this site the outside temperature was 105 degrees.  It made me wonder how the inmates survived the extreme heat.  The cells were made of adobe, which keeps a building cool and the cells were open on both ends so there was a cross breeze.  The dark cell (solitary confinement) was pitch black and very scary.  Apparently a stay in the dark cell "cured" many an inmate who went on to become a model prisoner and then a good citizen after their release.  The prison grounds are part of the Arizona State Park system but are locally operated and funded by the people of Yuma.  If you are interested in the history of the old west, put the Yuma Territorial Prison on your list.  The tours are self guided and the museum is full of history.

The above picture shows the entry gate to the prison and the lower picture shows the cell block.

historic downtown Yuma

I have passed through Yuma, Arizona several times on my way east and west between San Antonio and San Diego.  I have stayed overnight occasionally.  This time I added an extra day onto my agenda so I could do some sightseeing.  Let's start with the historical downtown area.  It is a working downtown with old historical buildings and storefronts that are filled on a seasonal basis.  For a great meal please stop by Lutz Casino restaurant on the main street.  It may have been a casino at one time but it is exclusively an eatery now.  I recommend the potato filled taquitos served with shredded cabbage, mayo and cotija cheese.  yum, yum   Their homemade salsa is served on the side.  I have never tasted anything like it.  I hope to be back again someday.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

the Balboa Park Botanical Gardens

I have had the opportunity to visit the Botanical Gardens in San Diego's Balboa Park several times over the years and they never fail to impress me.  The flower displays are magnificent.  Their orchid collection is outstanding.  The building is a wooden lath structure (one of the largest of its kind) and it looks (sort of) like a giant bird cage.  Walking through the gardens always brings on a feeling of peace and tranquility.  For me it is a must see.

interesting plant

I just thought this plant looked so interesting.  I don't know what it is.  It's at Balboa Park.  Go see it.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Balboa Park in San Diego

Balboa Park in San Diego is an urban cultural park with buildings, ponds and gardens covering over 1200 acres.  The architectural detailing of these grand buildings is magnificent.  The historical exposition buildings house museums, art galleries and eateries.  The landscaping and the coy ponds are beautiful.  There are always new exhibits to view and festivals to enjoy.  Take a day and stroll through the grounds.  You will surely enjoy your visit to this remarkable park.

The Spreckels Organ

This is a must see in Balboa Park.  The Spreckels pipe organ is an outdoor organ housed in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.  It is the second largest outdoor pipe organ in the world and this year it is one hundred years old.  It was built in Balboa Park for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition.  Free concerts are held every Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m.  The concerts are wonderful.  Don't miss it if you are in the area.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mission San Diego de Alcala

I found it.  Yes, I did.  I wanted to visit this historic mission on previous trips to San Diego but I didn't.  This time while I was in SD I took the opportunity to see the mission.  Mission San Diego de Alcala  is the first mission established in California by Father Junipero Serra.  Many of the mission buildings fell into disrepair during the beginning of the 20th century but the mission and surrounding gardens and bell tower were reconstructed in the 1930's with the help of early sketches.

There is an archeological dig site on the property and many artifacts, including original foundations and building materials have been uncovered.  The self guided tour gave me plenty of opportunities to linger a while in the gardens and the sanctuary.  It's very peaceful here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Wells Fargo Museum

Down in historic Old Town San Diego is the Wells Fargo Museum.  There you can learn about the history of the Wells Fargo mail delivery along the Butterfield Overland Route.  The museum is small but packed with info.  Worth a stop!!

Mt. Soledad

Overlooking the busy I-5 in San Diego stands the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial.  All branches of the military services are honored here.  The brick pathway leading to the top of the monument is lined with plaques honoring individuals who served our country in the military.  The cross sits high on the ridge and is visible for quite a distance.  It is a beautiful and peaceful site.

Monday, October 12, 2015

fun at the zoo

                We went to the SD ZOO on Friday and had a super duper time.  We saw the pandas

and big elephants

and flamingoes

and giraffes

and koalas

and this scary skeletal thing.  What a great day!!!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

the Coronado bridge

This is the Coronado Bridge and it connects San Diego to Coronado/North island.  It is certainly noticeable with the curve.  And the reason for the curve is what??, you ask.  Well, in order to qualify for government funding for the construction, the bridge had to be at least two miles long.  The distance from the mainland to the island was less than the required two miles so the engineers were able to increase the length of the bridge to 2.1 miles by "stretching" the bridge around a curve.  Clever.  Now, stay classy, S. D.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

the pelican

Look at what I saw resting on top of a roof at the end of the San Diego pier the other day.  A pelican, of course.  I noticed a crowd of people taking a picture of something and I turned around to look at what it was...and this is what it was!!  How cool.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

sd bay

This is what San Diego Bay looks like from the cliffs of Cabrillo National Monument.  Breathtaking.

iris in bloom

Isn't this a lovely flower?  It has special meaning for us.  The iris honors a beautiful little angel.  The blooms appear from time to time, unexpectedly.  It's a reminder that angels are always with us.

Monday, September 21, 2015

cabrillo national monument

Overlooking San Diego Bay is the Cabrillo National Monument.  The monument is dedicated to the explorer that is associated with the discovery of this area.  There is a museum on the grounds with very good informational displays and the overall view of San Diego Bay is amazing.  Hiking paths are offered for those that want to visit the tidal pools or just take a walk along the rocky cliffs.  The park is operated by the National Park Service and various admission discounts apply.  Come and enjoy!  You will be glad you did.

point loma lighthouse

There is a beautiful old lighthouse on a high point overlooking San Diego Bay.  It is part of the Cabrillo National Monument and it is filled with the history of the discovery and early navigation of the bay.  On one side of the high cliff you can see all of the bay and the city of San Diego.  The other side of the cliff overlooks the Pacific Ocean.  The view is magnificent.  There are benches lined up along the walkway on the ocean side of the lighthouse.  It is a great place to sit and reflect.  The beauty is there.  It is a very peaceful place to be.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

interstate 5

Earlier this year I drove along state highway 80 from Tybee Island, Georgia to Dallas, Texas.  It took me through five states along the local route (not the interstate) and gave me the opportunity to see the smaller towns and rural areas along the way.  This summer I drove almost the entire length of Interstate 5 from the Canadian border with Washington state to San Diego, California.  It wasn't intentional.  It just happened.  My sister and I had plans to drive from Seattle to Vancouver, B.C. and we travelled along the I-5 to the border.  Of course we reversed the drive on the way back and after dropping my sister off in Seattle I continued on to Salem, Oregon and then I began the long drive from Salem to San Diego.  The scenery changed dramatically the further south I drove.  In Washington I was surrounded by green trees and forests.  It was that way through most of Oregon but I noticed a change in southern Oregon as I approached the California border.  I left the lush Willamette Valley behind.  The trees thinned out and I could see more sandy features along the roadways and even with the mountains.  Then the mountains disappeared and the terrain became flat and very dry with sand being the ground cover of choice.  Northern California along the I-5 corridor is rather desolate.  It has it's beauty, of course.  It is part of the diverse geographical make-up of this country.  However, it IS desolate and it is a good thing to keep an eye on the gas gauge while driving on this route because the towns are far apart.  I was able to pass through the Sacramento area just before the rush hour started and thereby I was able to avoid a lot of the heavy traffic.  I was nervous about the traffic in the Los Angeles area so I woke up early and started my drive through LA county at 4 a.m.  It was dark so I didn't see any of the city.  There was traffic on the road so I wasn't alone.  It took me a couple of hours to go around the city and when I noticed signs for cities that I knew were on the south side of Los Angeles  I was relieved.  The drive to San Diego went smoothly.  Glimpses of the Pacific Ocean were refreshing to see.  San Diego is a large city but I was able to navigate the roadways and find my destination.  I haven't driven the last fifteen miles or so down I-5 to the border with Mexico.  That is all there is left of the trip down the highway.  I will complete the drive someday.  I'm good for now.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

lovely trees

I just marvel at the majesty of trees.  I like looking at the different shapes and colors.  I like being amongst them.  They are just beautiful.  This stand of trees is located at a rest stop in Washington state.  The pictures are of the same trees but I used the artistic feature on my camera to get the two different looks.  I can just smell the pines!  So soothing.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

the Locks at Ballard

We visited the Locks and salmon ladder in Ballard, Washington on a hot summer day.  The boats are all lined up awaiting the opportunity to sail out into deep water for some fishing and fun.  The salmon ladder is very interesting to see.  Although there were no fish swimming up the ladder during the time we were here, it was still very interesting and informative.  And fun!  Enjoy the artwork.

the UP house

While in Seattle we visited a local landmark known as the UP house.  Although the house is not actually the inspiration for the movie by the same name, there are similarities with their respective stories, thus the name UP house.  This house was owned by one person for many decades and when urban development encroached by way of a new shopping mall, the owner refused to sell.  So, the mall was built around her house.  The owner was able to stay in her house for as long as she lived.  Unlike the house in the movie that flew away with the help of balloons, this house appears to have a different ending and it will be moved to a new location.  Three cheers for the little (wo)man.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Point No Point Lighthouse

We visited the Point No Point lighthouse in early July.  It sits at the very northern edge of Bainbridge Island on the shipping channel leading to Seattle.  There is a narrow beach and lots of people were out enjoying the sunny afternoon.  A twig and some waves are all that is needed for some delightful entertainment.  Letters written in the sand come and go with each wave.  A beautiful old lighthouse and keeper's quarters grace the grounds.  Beautiful and picturesque.  And refreshing.

Poulsbo Bakery

Look where I was on the Second of July.  I was in Poulsbo, Washington.  It is a Norwegian town on Bainbridge Island.  And, these goodies were on display in Sluys Bakery.  Very patriotic, don't you think?  We got one of these delicious cupcakes to share.  ummm.....delightful.  It was a very hot day so we also stopped for ice cream.  Excellent.  Yummies all around!!  And a nice way to celebrate the Second.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Seattle's Space Needle

         Just a nice picture of the Space Needle in Seattle, Washington.  Very iconic landmark!!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Snoqualmie Falls

I took a trip to Snoqualmie Falls in Washington recently.  It is in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle and is a very beautiful area to visit.  The above picture was taken with the artistic feature on my camera.  Below is the color version.  Natural beauty at it's best!!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

pancake puppies

My sister and I ate at a well known restaurant while in Vancouver and I saw this on the menu.  Pancake puppies look like a combination of hush puppies and drop doughnuts but taste like pancakes.  They are made from pancake batter and these were sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.  They were served hot with a side bowl of syrup and they are as tasty as ever!!  Yum-m-m-m-m!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Queen Elizabeth Gardens

We visited the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Vancouver, B.C.   The sculptured gardens are amazing.  Small artichoke plants are used to create patterns and borders.  I have not seen this done before.  The gardens cover several acres and include two sunken quarry gardens.

The garden is also the home of the Bloedel Floral Conservatory.  I think it looks like a space ship.

The gardens sit at a high point above the city and offer a panoramic view of Vancouver.