Thursday, October 29, 2015

What a Wonderful World

     This afternoon, my sis and her hubby and I biked the Patuxent Branch Trail near Columbia, Maryland. We started at the historic Savage Mill Manor and biked to Lake Elkhorn and back again, total of about nine gorgeous miles.
     While biking with this huge grin on my face, I was thinking about Louis Armstrong's huge grin on his face when he sang "What a Wonderful World." Here are my words with the melody made famous by Louis (click here) and scroll along with my photos . . . . .

I see leaves of red, orange leaves, too
I see them fall, for me and you

And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue, and paths of color,
The bright blessed day, the babbling rocky creek.

And I think to myself
What a wonderful world.

The colors of the rainbow, so pretty on the trail,
Are also on the faces of people going by.

I see folks and dogs smiling, sayin', "How do you do?"
They're really sayin', "I love you."

I hear leaves rustling. I watch them fall.
They'll disappear to where I'll never know

And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Lickety-split across the USA

     When I left Montana on October 8th, I had just 13 days to enjoy my travels east across the USA. I had an appointment in Towson, Maryland which I couldn't cancel so I metered out my required daily mileage to 250 miles. Instead of programming "faster routes" on my GPS, I programmed it for "shorter routes" so I could drive through alot of small towns. I'm a happy camper going 50 mph on two-lane hilly roads between towns with 35 mph speed limits. Those routes give me plenty of opportunities for rubber-necking and head-bobbing . . . and U-turns.

     I saw alot of funny Halloween decorations on alot of front porches and yards, as well as alot of historic well-kept homes and old homes with lots of potential. And I saw cornfields in all shades of yellow being harvested from Wyoming to Ohio. I also spent quite a few camping spots next to a farm like this one . . . .

     I took a "spa day" and stopped at the Casper, Wyoming Recreation Center to swim a mile and shower (plus use the jacuzzi). I stopped at the Ayres Natural Bridge Park for a free night of camping . . . . you can see La Lair under the bridge.

     Also took a quicky bike ride the next morning; temps were under 40 degrees!

The campground is too small for anything longer than 30 feet.

     I love chicory in my coffee, so I stopped at Chicory USA, the only processing plant that roasts chicory roots in the entire USA. Chicory roots look like misshapen turnips and are grown and harvested much like sugar beets.

     The plant is located in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, and the processing folks (unlike the sales-lady) are very friendly. They gave me a tour of the facilities. That mound of brown behind the sign are freshly harvested chicory roots (soil-covered chicory root which is actually a white color).

Huge sorting, cleaning, drying, and roasting machines . . .

     For an interesting story behind why folks couldn't afford coffee and began drinking chicory, click here. And for other sites about chicory as a dietary supplement, click here. I used to order roasted chicory from Community Coffee which sells the famed Orleans Coffee and Chicory blends, but since their chicory is roasted overseas, it's not as fresh-tasting as Nebraska's roasted chicory.

     This cattle auction caught my eyes while passing through Torrington, Wyoming. Little heifers are going for about $50 each now-a-days.

     And since the capitol building of Illinois was just two blocks from my lickety-split route, I stopped for a quick tour that lasted as long as my last quarter for one-half hour meter parking nearby. Yes, my friends who know me well, I really should learn to carry cash and coins with me . . . .

And when a local flea market attracted hords of campers for a weekend (no campsite vacancies for miles around, long lines of traffic in the opposing lanes), I found myself in need of ANY campground with electricity. Finally settled down at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, thanks again to the helpful downloaded GPS database by Ultimate Campgrounds.

     A cold front was moving throughout the midwest that weekend, so the next night I found myself at another fairground (in Ohio) with electricity of course. I'm a fairweather camper. I don't do frost. This is my bicycle cover I brought inside La Lair to drip-dry the next morning . . . .

I found time to stop at Seneca Rocks in West Virginia. There's a pleasant trail to an overlook near the rocks.

This is the second time I've done this trail . . .

Lichen on many large and small rocks . . .

     I also stopped in Virginia to walk a very small section of the Appalachian Trail. I met another solo woman there and we chatted it up for quite awhile. It's amazing to me, as during my travels I've run into quite a few solo women travelers/hikers who are super-friendly. It's very encouraging and affirming.

     Although lickety-split travels are not my thing, this one was good enuf! Made most memorable because of waking up in Wyoming to the Teton Mountain of Gold. I'm still in awe of that sunrise . . . .

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Golden Leaves and a Golden Sunrise

     As I left Libby, Montana last week, being back on the road after three months, I realized it was autumn! I love road travels in October. Doesn't matter which state or highway it is, October is always gorgeous. This photo is the Cabinet Mountains near Libby, Montana.

     Just south of Libby is the Ross Creek Cedar Grove of giant cedar trees. My plan was to hike the one-mile loop. As I walked, I ran into a woman with three dogs on a leash TWICE from the same opposite directions. She asked me which path led back to the parking lot. I asked her how long she had been walking, because I too was expecting to finish this loop and see the parking lot soon. She told me she had been walking "a couple of hours" and I told her 30 minutes max was one mile!! So, she and I back-tracked the direction I had started from, and miraculously, we found ourselves back at the parking lot. Minimal signage there . . . . but a very pleasant walk.

     The next day I was in Idaho, and bare with me, long story here. I was driving on a lonely beautiful road and saw a sign about the county dump/trash site down this other road. I had trash to dump, so I did a U-turn and proceeded down this narrow paved road. Turns out the site was only for construction debris, but I decided to continue on this narrow paved road with beautiful scenery. Soon enough I passed a crowded trailhead parking lot and a large group of folks returning to their cars. A sign said it was the North Menan Butte trail which sounded interesting. I did another U-turn and took a parking spot someone had just fortuitously left. One of the nice things about a ProMaster, it can be parked in any parking lot with normal-size cars. There's no way a travel trailer or motorhome could park at trailhead parking lots which are typically small. And so, it took all of one minute to park, and another minute to gather my hiking gear -- my boots and camelback of water, corn nuts/dried peas munchies, SPOT unit and hiking poles -- and I was on my way up to the top of this butte. 

     As I climbed, a friendly woman returning from the top began a conversation with me, encouraging me to endure the climb. She explained that most of the folks had done this morning group hike as a fund-raiser event for Uganda women. It was a fun hike; a bit on the arduous side sometimes.

But once at the top, I could see in the distance the Teton Mountains.

     Later that day, I stopped on the road for lunch at the Teton River with the Teton Mountains in view from the west side (Idaho). Little did I realize I'd be camping that night on the east side of those mountains just north of Jackson, Wyoming.

     That afternoon as I approached the busy touristy town of Jackson, I queried a wonderful database that I had downloaded on my GPS unit to locate a camping spot near Jackson, Wyoming. There was a federal forest free dispersed location (translation, no-services off-road) located directly on the eastern side of the Teton Mountains. I settled in there with two other campers a respectable distance away. It wasn't a spectacular sunset, in fact, the mountains looked black and dark. I wasn't too impressed with the camping site, and went to sleep early.

      The next morning about 7 AM was very windy and cloudy. I hurried to pack and get out of there because I thought a storm was approaching. It was about 7:15 AM when I decided the view was worthy of a photo . . . .

About 7:18 AM the view changed and I became increasingly impressed.

About 7:20 AM, I was misty-eyed with a lump in my throat as I had forgotten to breathe in my moment of being stunned by such unexpected beauty . . . . a spectacularly golden moment!

It lasted all of two or three minutes . . .

And as I drove away, I had a wonderful grand finale of that sunrise.

A camping spot to remember forever!