Home is wherever I’m with you…

12/8/13

I woke up at about 3:30am to use the restroom and realized that I had slept for 6 and half hours.  This was normal for me, so with renewed and revived energy I set out for home.

I was driving towards the mountains and over the ridge I could see there was an extremely long line semi trucks pulled over.  I passed a sign that said something about snow and closed roads, but went by the sign before I could read the information and comprehend it.  As I pulled up to the semis I realized that the highway was closed going through the South end of the Sierras.  Cars were slowly pulling up and then eventually parking in the middle of the highway.  I sat there for a minute trying to figure out my next move.  Of course, I had a plan…so, it had to work out another way.

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I sat in the van for about 20 minutes. It was literally freezing out so I didn’t want to shut the car off.  I started looking at the satellite map of my location so that I can figure a way around this weather as I had no idea when this highway would open up again.  I was on a highway, so…one way.  Then I noticed it,  about 200 feet ahead was a spot to cross the median.  I went for it.  I drove along the edge of the road until reaching the median crossing with the sign that says no U-turn.  I laughed and got to the other side and started driving back to the nearest highway that would lead me to towards L.A. and up through central California.    Good thing too, since shortly after getting back on the highway my gas light went on.  I ended up at a gas station just in time.

I started back on my way.  It was a beautiful sight having the sun rise behind me in California.

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I had to pull over and take a little nap.  After 20 minutes I was feeling ready to get home.  As it became light out I could see the cold that surrounded me.

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I made it through the mountains and was headed up through central California towards the Salinas Valley.  I was very anxious to get home, but a bit apprehensive to end the adventure.  I turned off the music and used the last couple of hours for some silent contemplation about the trip, about life.  Through the anxiousness and apprehension I also recognized pride.  I was proud of the accomplishment of a solo trip around the country.  The trip lasted just shy of 15,000 miles and would have easily surpassed it had I gone through Utah, Colorado, and the deserts of California.

I took my final exit towards Monterey onto 68.  The sign there spoke to me, reassuring and reenforcing my notion of pride in my accomplishment.  It said you must have “Coles Grande” to do what you just spent the last three months doing.  In other words…

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BIG CABBAGES!

 

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London Bridge Ain’t Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down…

12/7/13

I woke up and hung out for bit in the morning with Jeff and Jenn.  I took a rather Hot/COLD shower as Jeff started a new load of laundry.  No worries as it woke me up and prepared me for the cold weather that had been sweeping across the desert for the past few days.

I loaded the van and we met up at Freddy’s, a fast food burger place.  We ate our meal and said our good byes.  I enjoyed my time with the family, but it was time to move on.

Before I left I decided to get an oil change at a Jiffy Lube.  This took about an hour.  Not as Jiffy as I thought it would be, but I was on the road again and heading for London…The London Bridge that is…The London Bridge that was rebuilt in Lake Havasu, AZ.

I enjoyed the drive through the desert.

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It was getting dark and I was a little disappointed that I would be there in the dark, but I did see a great sunset on the way.

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When I arrived I was shocked at the number of people there.  When I found a parking place I got out and noticed tons of people on the banks of the river with fire pits, grills, lots of food, and Christmas music.  I just so happened to arrive the night they were to do the Christmas Light Boat Parade.  I stuck around and took some pictures.  It was quite a festive family event.  I took off right before the end knowing that I would get stuck in traffic if I stayed.  I started heading towards Needles, CA.  I gained another hour crossing the border, but it didn’t feel like it.  I decided to stop in Needles at a Cafe on historic route 66.  I realized that Michelle and I had eaten here before.  That’s when it really hit me…

It’s been cold, there’s supposed to be a snow storm through parts of California I was planning on going to.  I couldn’t see any other option but to go home.  The plan was to surprise Michelle and arrive on Sunday so that we could spend the day together.  After eating I felt a bit revived and drove until I reached a rest stop outside of Barstow.  It was only 9pm on my newly changed clock, but I was tired so I slept.

 

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Family III

Family III

12/6/13

Uncle Dale was holding a dinner party for his bible study group.  He had a chef make Chicken Marsala and cater the event.  I was pleased to eat so I thought I should help prepare the house.  We moved some furniture.  I vacuumed the entire house…I thought why stop at just the living rooms and kitchen.  We shopped for some last minute things.  Dale mentioned white chocolate covered Oreos. I asked if he had ever had homemade ones,and he said no, so I decided I wanted to make some chocolate covered Oreos.

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Dale (Hands on hips) and Jeanette (hands giving game show display) both prepared for the upcoming event.

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Penny helped with vacuum duty.

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Oh look, Jeremy showed up just in time to eat…how convenient.

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More Wine???

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The food was fabulous, the company was fantastic, and the conversations was fulfilling.  I was sure to get a group picture.

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We all had a great time, but the night wasn’t over.  After guests left, Jeanette, Jeremy, and Jeffery went shopping.  Dale and I stayed up and I interviewed him about teacher/student connections.  We always have some good conversations and we surely enjoyed our time.

I went to sleep knowing that I would be leaving sometime after noon towards California.

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Family II

Family II

12/5/13

I spent the day doing school work again…oh, and napping.  It seems that when I stop moving and am in a comfortable place all my lost hours of sleep start to catch up with me.  I went for a short walk to get outside and breath some fresh air.

Since we were holding a dinner party on Friday, Thursday was the only night to get together with Jason and Jenine.  I was pleased to meet them at a pizza place where I shared many stories ( I think I talked too much, as I was the last to finish eating) and caught up on our lives.  Sounds like they know what they want in life and I wish them all the best in their life together.

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Family I

Family I

12/4/13

I was able to hang out with Paisley and Rylan in the morning.

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Jeremy and I took Paisley to school and I had some of the day to myself as everyone else was working.  I got some school work done, spent some time with Jeff and Jenn…

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I was able to see them every day and get updated on their lives.

When they left I found myself taking naps.  Not because they bored me, but when it was quiet I slept.

Dale, Jeanette, and I ate dinner together and spent the rest of the night chatting.

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A Day of Rocks and People…Rockin’ People

A Day of Rocks and People…Rockin’ People

12/3/13

I woke up at the Baby Quail Inn and proceeded to the continental breakfast.  I was greeted by friendly faces.  One in particular lit up the room instantly.  He asked about my travels, and of course I was glad to accommodate.  As is the custom, I proceeded to ask about his travels and what he did before the hotel business in Sedona, AZ.  He said, “Why don’t I just show you.”  I followed him  into the breakfast room.  The walls were completely covered in memorabilia.  It turns out that Dick Curtis, owner of the Baby Quail Inn was a war veteran, a marathon runner, and most importantly…an actor, director, producer, and overall entertainer.  He had photos of himself with all sorts of stars; John Wayne, Dick Van Dyke, Mary Tyler Moore, Jonathan Winters, and Barbara Eden to give just a tiny sample of his experiences.

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Read this 5 part interview with him to really get a sense of who he is, then go to his Inn and talk to him yourself.

This is the perfect job for him as he probably has more than one story to connect to every person that walks through his doors.  The Inn was quaint and at a nice location in West Sedona.  The hot tub was perfect after a day of hiking.  It was close to many restaurants including Picazzo’s, a great place for organic and gluten free choices of Italian food.  It was across the street from a “Whole Foods” type grocery store with healthy and organic choices.  The bed was comfortable and the company was…entertaining.

From breakfast I finished a lot of school work and then left to explore the vortex locations of Sedona.  There are a lot of stories behind these vortexes.  Somesaythey have felt it, some say it’s a load of lies.

I wanted to see for myself.  I drove to the first one I wanted to see off of Airport Rd.  It was nice, though I did not experience some of the things that others had told me about or that I had read about, but I can say that I did feel a bit of a tight chest…could be from a number of factors though it’s fun to say I felt the vortex.

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I was a little turned off by some of the younger people being loud and cliched hippies.  I left and headed to the next stop.

I moved on to Cathedral Rock to find another of the main vortexes.  Before I hiked up I met Steve who wanted to chat with me about my Eurovan.  He has had many VWs in his lifetime and a story for each of them.  He was in the area visiting from Albuquerque,NM and had visited the vortex.   He gave me a card and informed me that I have a place to stay when going through NM again. It turns out he’s an artist and I was impressed with his work when I checked it out online. Beautiful, intricate art that is hands on as a puzzle.

I headed up the rockface along the trail and towards the vortex.  I made it to the top and saw some great vistas.

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On my way down I saw a woman looking for a trail, looking for her way.  I offered to walk with her to find the trail she was on, then I offered to give her a ride back to her vehicle.  I assured her that I had no timetable and was willing to help even if it meant adding 40 minutes of driving.  I have learned on this trip to go with it and see where the situation leads.  Her name was Aloe, which I think is a beautiful name.  Her name had significance because it is a natural plant, one of physical and spiritual healing.  This trip was for those reasons and I found it only fitting.  We had some great conversations.  It so happens that she is also on a journey by herself to find direction. Even though we were in different points of our lives, our purpose was very similar.  We had some uplifting conversations that were needed at the moment…I’d like to think for both of us.  I dropped her off at a park where her van was and I went off to take some more photos of the sunset.

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While taking photographs of the sunset at the park I dropped Aloe off at, I met a retired couple from Quebec, Gerry and Louise.  They had sailed the Caribbean together going from port to port.  Now they have an RV and are traveling all over the U.S.  They had a great sense of adventure, and I was able to give them a little advice about California.  We exchanged cards and may meet for a meal when they make it up to the Monterey area.

After it got dark it was time to head down to Glendale to spend some time with my family.

Turning the corner, like an airport runway, it was clear which house I was going to.  Uncle Dale loves his Christmas, and has created a “Christmas Vacation” house to show his love.

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I arrived a little later than I originally planned, but I was able to see Paisley and Rylan and spend some time with other members of the Slocum family before sleeping hard.

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A Little Fog, A Little Flying, A Little Fright

A Little Fog, A Little Flying, A Little Fright

12/2/13

I woke up a bit warmer and more comfortable, which was bad. I say this because I didn’t want to get out of bed.  I did however, and I made some tea and got going.  I headed out to Hermit’s Rest, the last stop on the road out to the west of the Grand Canyon.  Again, this time of year is the only time that cars can drive it.  Most of the year you can only take a shuttle bus.  I drove down to the end of the road and took some pictures of the  canyon.  It was foggy again, but the fog was much lower than the previous days.

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I stopped at another Mary Colter creation at Hermit’s Rest…

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 I was able to pick up “The Glory” again, the rainbow phenomena in the fog. 

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I also spent some time on a new self-portrait I like to call… Levitating Glory!

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From the satisfaction of finally pulling it off, I headed back to Grand Canyon Village and got myself a sandwich.  I ate and then drove from there to Sedona.  Of course, I took the longer and more scenic route that took me past Humphreys Peak.  This mountain is the highest point in the state of Arizona at 12,637 ft.  I was surprised by this as I always associate the state with desert.

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I made it to Sedona, AZ and went to “The Official” Visitor Center.  I talked to a retired gentleman who gave me a few hikes to do.  The first was a bit longer than he said and it may have been a while since he was on it because there were telephone poles and lines in the way of many photos.  I finally got to a place to get some shots.  I hiked about 2.8 miles.

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Then I was trying to head to the hike that he told me would be good for sunset.  I was a little later in arriving, but I still had a good hour before the sun went down. I headed up a trail and a couple stopped me and told me that I should take the 4 wheel drive road because this trail would take me 30 minutes longer.  I thanked them and headed to the road.  It was rocky and “dippy” but I made it to the trailhead for Devil’s Bridge.  Once there it said it would be another .7 miles.  The distance from the day was starting to add up, but I was determined to get to this natural bridge.  After a number of inclines and stone steps I made it.  While there I noticed that the sun actually set behind the rock face I was on.  This was disappointing, but more importantly it was getting dark fast.  I took my pictures, which were difficult with the lighting I had left. 

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Check out the balancing boulder.  The thing was enormous as I zoomed in, and you could barely see where it touched the mountain side.

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Lucky for me, My Shell reminded me to take a flashlight because last time I went looking for a sunset I had to come back on a road in the complete dark.  The flashlight was good, but I still slipped and jammed up my ankle a couple times.  It was a very difficult hike back through the desert. I was real happy that I was somewhat prepared with a sweatshirt, hat, and flashlight.  It got cold and dark real fast.  I was a little concerned a few times as the flashlight was failing, my phone dead, and the black night fright started creeping in.  I finally made it back to the van and headed back to the hotel I booked.  It had a hot tub, and that is where I spent the next half hour.  I got out and headed off to dinner at a pizza place.  I returned to the hotel exhausted.  The plan is to check out some more hikes and the famous vortexes of Sedona. Then, I will head down to Glendale (near Phoenix) and stay with family for a few days.  Not too many more stops before this adventure comes to a close.  I have plenty of school work to do in the meantime.   

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Your Fog Keeps Lifting Me Higher…

Your Fog Keeps Lifting Me Higher…

12/1/13

I woke up at 6, was cold, and couldn’t imagine going back to sleep. I could have run the heater, but I didn’t want to waste the day away staying warm.  I was excited to see what the day may bring, hoping for the fog to lift.  I made some tea and got going…It was more foggy in the morning that it was the night before.  The park tends to put its directional signs on the other side of intersections so you can see it at the moment you stop.  The problem was you couldn’t see that far ahead, so I was guessing.  I took a wrong turn down a one way so I had to continue on until I had another chance at the right turn.  I missed it again and had to do the same thing over.  On the second attempt I went slower, but the fog was ridiculous and I missed it third time.  At 6 in the morning and complete fog, it didn’t matter as far as time went, so I laughed and went around again.  All I could think of was…Look kids Big Ben, Parliament

I finally made it the right direction and cheered aloud in the van.  I laughed and headed to the visitor center parking lot to hang out a bit and see what I could see.  The weather forecast called for dense fog until about 11.  I overheard a ranger tell someone that the forecast for yesterday was the same, but it never broke. 

I took a different perspective as I knew that I would be coming back, and that I had been here before.  I enjoyed the uniqueness of the day. I overheard and spoke to many workers and locals that had not seen this weather in quite a while. I found it quite special that I would be here on this day.  I sat and watched the fog as a living, breathing entity.  It would lover about ten feet, then within minutes it would rise up far above everyone’s heads, to the point where you couldn’t see ten feet in front of you.  Then, it would slowly lower again, back to it’s original resting place.  It gave me the sense that the fog was alive or maybe the canyon was simply breathing.  The fog was low enough that I could stand out on a couple overlooks and take some pictures. 

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I was also able to see the saint that I am.  The sun behind me, and the fog ahead of me created a phenomena called “glory.”  Check me out in all my angelic “glory.”

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I hung with a raven for a bit.  We chatted…it kept saying, “forevermore.”  I got confused…

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I decided to hike as far as I could west on the south rim.  I figured I could just take a shuttle bus back wherever I got too tired to continue.  I took pictures along the way of the amazing frost called hoar frost (special note to the spelling).  A worker in the bookstore explained it to me. 

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 I went to the Hopi House, one of the many beautiful buildings designed by Mary Colter, to check out the art gallery. The watchtower, from the previous post, was another.  Here is the Hopi House.

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I was allowed to shoot some photos so I focused on the intricate designs of pottery, some paintings, and masks.

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Through the view finder you’ll see… FOG!

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As I was hiking the rim the fog finally broke and I was treated to some beautiful scenes of broken clouds floating through the canyon.  After about an hour it was all gone and the canyon was clear. 

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More Glory!

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After walking about 6 miles I saw a family that I had seen previously.  They were surprised that I didn’t start heading back yet.  I told them I would just take a bus. They regretted to inform me that the buses were not running the routes out to that area.  I was shocked, but they were nice enough to give me a ride back.  I made it back in time for sunset, but I wasn’t in a great location.  I’ll take what I get.

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I decided to stay in the park for one more night, but this time I would stay in the RV section so I could plug in and not worry about my battery or disturbing people by starting the car at random times of the night.  In the morning I was to get up and drive the way I was hiking and go beyond the place I hiked back.  Apparently they open this area up to cars only from December to February, so I thought I should take advantage before I leave.  Next stop Sedona area…Red Rocks here I come!

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Stoned Wood and a Cloudy Canyon

11/30/13

Stoned Wood and a Cloudy Canyon

I woke up in the thick, misty fog of Arizona in Holbrook at the KOA.  I had my propane filled, hopefully for the last time on the trip.  I talked to the KOA manager and he was a bit surprised by the fog, but thought it would burn off by afternoon.  I headed to the Petrified Forest to actually see the stoned wood.  The science behind it is amazing.  The beautiful pieces of petrified wood were concentrated in a few places.  I went to those places and got some photos to try to capture the general area, as well as the beauty of each piece…

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I also talked to a huge Raven for a bit.  It was all puffed out…

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The ranger at Petrified Forest was a little confused by the fog as well.  He told a story of living and working there for 20 years.  Yet, the other night he missed the signs because of the fog and drove 6 miles past his turn.

I headed to Grand Canyon National Park next.  The fog was thick most of the way.  The farther North I went, the more snow there was.  I stopped at a rock shop and was stunned by this guy’s collection of fossils.  Some for sale, others personal collection.  The petrified wood was done in some beautiful forms and I wish I could have bought it all.  Nonetheless I bought a tiny souvenir.  I drove a little bit more on Route 66 and found this…

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By the time I reached the park the fog was so thick that everyone had their emergency flashers on and drove very slow.  I found it quite comical.  As I went to the first view at the watchtower, a place I had been before, I laughed and took pictures because the “Grand View” was white.  I moved on to the village to find a camping site. There was one patch of blue sky that I drove through. I got my site and went back to the blue sky.  It was amazing how much the canyon looked like some mythical bottomless pit….Does it end?

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I saw some elk grazing and almost hit one on the way back to my site. 

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I went to the general store for some provisions.The cashier was a local and amazed by this fog, calling it a “trip.”  So this tells me it doesn’t happen often.  I got back to my site to make some food and try to stay warm.  The nighttime low is around 20 degrees. Good thing I filled up on my propane so I can run the heater.

I went to bed looking forward to a better view tomorrow…I hoped.

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Strange Sightings

Major additions to Strange sightings…starting with “Diesel Fumes Make Me Horny”

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