Posts Tagged ‘travel’

We didn’t stay in the Hotel de Coronado, but we had a grand time walking around outside and admiring the grounds as well as the stately building itself. Palm trees are iconically California (and Arizona), but they do a lot of shedding and take a great deal of work, work you have to pay someone else to do. I’ll stick with just admiring them on someone else’s property. ๐Ÿ™‚

Past Squares: trees

After most of our errands, our minds turned to lunch at Smith Alley Brewing Company where we’d had good beer and food a few years ago. We were happy to see they’d survived Covid. As we sat outside, I was excited to see the vertical growing platforms used to divide the eating area from the walkway of the alley with a variety of fruit, vegetables, and flowers growing on the five what? Trellises? Re-reading the information below, I see they’re called walls.

In the water at the bottom of each wall are fish. Our server informed us that the fertilizer provided by the fish is then taken by the water to each part of the wall. No fishing, of course, and any fish served here do NOT come from these!

I don’t want to forget to mention that Smith Alley has great beer (I had Black Pegasus, robust with heavy notes of coffee and chocolate.) What’s not to like?? The fries were hand cut, the French dip delicious. My husband once again had a peculiarly Wyoming dish: chili with a cinnamon roll meant to be dipped or put into the chili. We were told last time that this was served in school cafeterias. My husband loved it, although I personally would never do that to a cinnamon roll. It was the perfect way and place to relax and rejuvenate before finishing our errands and heading back up the mountain. The next day we’d be closing up the cabin for another year.

If you’re a mathaphobe, you’ll be sad to know that geometry is everywhere in nature. ๐Ÿ™‚ But as the Scots might say, “Dinna fash”, there’ll be no test. Just enjoy.

Ah, water drops!

This is my sort of abandoned home.

In the second week, the smoke cleared, allowing us the usual views with the usual clarity. Although riding is for me one of the main draws, I also love the mountains and time to relax without house chores hanging over my head. Let’s face it. When you’re at home, if you take time off, you almost always could be doing something more “worthwhile.” But when I’m at the cabin, even though there are things to do, there’s still plenty of time to sit on the porch, reading, sipping tea, thinking, a/o just relaxing and looking. “Just looking” is well worth it, as you can see.

My husband had a red metal Coleman cooler before we met that’s still going strong. You’ve heard of some men being called “babe magnets?” That cooler is a hummingbird magnet, also functioning perfectly as the perfect place to set my mug of tea (although it’s impossible to grab a photo when a hummingbird is 8″ from your nose, something that’s happened to me more than once! It’s quite a noisy and cool experience.

Reminder to self: don’t forget to take the Nikon with telephoto outside and set it on the cooler table because you never know what sort of animals or birds might come into view. Out here, these little guys are cute; in my garden, when I had one in the Midwest, they fell into the category of pest! It’s hilarious to see them racing around the front “yard” on these logs that serve as basic fences to keep the horses out or to see several of the small squirrels in this area chasing each other at lightning speed on the same logs while chittering loudly.

Late every afternoon the horses are taken out to pasture to spend the night and if it’s Thursday, their day off, the entire day. But at some point they’re let out in and around the cabins. Eventually they tend to drift toward the area in front of our cabin. It can also be disconcerting during the night to wake to horse noise right on the other side of your cabin wall!

When there’s smoke blurring/covering the distant views, look down! The close views were still beautiful as these bejeweled flowers perfectly demonstrate. After almost a year and a half in Arizona, I appreciate water drops on flowers (or anything) even more, although while we were gone, Arizona got quite a lot of rain. We did get some rain in the first week at the cabin. It’s quite lovely to sit on the deck/porch while it rains, reading, relaxing, and sipping tea or a beer.

โ€œRainy days should be spent at home with a cup of tea and a good book.โ€
โ€• Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book

Despite the smoke dulling things a bit and the fact that it was August, the flowers were still prolifically colorful.

โ€œI will be the gladdest thing under the sun! I will touch a hundred flowers and not pick one.โ€
โ€• Edna St. Vincent Millay

Always a beautiful view from the opposite end of the lake looking back at one of the cabins (not ours.)

โ€œA little tranquil lake is more significant to my life than any big city in the worldโ€
โ€• Munia Khan

In the mid-seventies the Sanford-Townsend Band came out with a hit song whose title works perfectly for our first week in Wyoming’s Bighorns: “Smoke from a distant fire.” Normally we have clear views of the mountains farther back but this year smoke from distant fires made them either disappear or turned them hazy. It’s impossible to know which fires caused this, and there were lots of them burning, but considering smoke has been reaching the east coast, it’s no wonder it was worse here.

A shot of the ducks I inadvertently flushed when walking towards the lake would normally look like the photo on the left. This year, however, it looked like the one on the right. There was no smell of smoke except for one day, but it made itself seen throughout week one.

Didnโ€™t seem to bother the horsesโ€™ making the morning trip to the corral from the night pasture.

We’re on the road in the dark again, over Raton Pass when we’re unable to see the beauty and my eyes are as wide as they go watching through the dark for possible deer or elk on the road. We have to driving the length of Colorado and right through downtown Denver. There’s so much smoke from fires that we can’t even see the Rockies and can barely see them in Colorado Springs where they’re almost next to the highway. Not much to say about driving through Colorado except that it’s great to leave. I-70 through Glenwood Canyon, a major east-west highway, is closed due to mudslides caused by rain in an area burned in 2020.

We see a few more interesting animals in Wyoming: a herd of bison (AKA buffalo, although incorrectly) which are in on someone’s ranch and oddly two camels, also not wild and in a large fenced area. But still–camels!

We stop at another interesting rest area, this one using passive solar. I love this!

On one side of the rest area is a sign celebrating the necessity of keeping cottonwood trees and we saw quite a few as we drove along.

Our original plan, going to the cabin and then back down in the morning to drive to Billings, Montana to pick up our older daughter for a week’s visit, changed to driving straight to Billings, an extra two hours, and then staying overnight, picking her up, and shopping at Costco before heading back to Sheridan for more shopping and then the drive up the mountain. You have to understand that although the distance from Sheridan up the mountain to the cabin isn’t too far but the road up the mountain is not only not paved, it’s in no way smooth, more suitable for four-wheel drive vehicles than our Toyota Sienna, although the Sienna goes up well. It turned out to be a good choice as the road was particularly rough and rocky this year, forcing me to ascend in first gear almost the entire way. Going down necessitates first gear until the bottom while trying not to ride the brakes. So we go up and down as little as possible. Besides, going to town isn’t nearly as much fun as staying up. ๐Ÿ™‚

At any rate, we were tootling along at 80 mph through Montana and only about half an hour from Billings when the phone rang and plans were thrown into momentary disarray when we found out our daughter’s flight had been cancelled and there wouldn’t be another until Friday (this was Sunday and she would have arrived on Monday), leaving not enough time for her trip. After a bit of dithering, we decided to stay in Billings anyway, have a leisurely morning (i.e. not get up a 3:30 am), and then head back to Wyoming. We had a major, annoying glitch when our confirmed reservation through Hotels.com turned out to have been viewed by someone at the motel but not entered and our king room wasn’t available. The less-then-helpful woman at the desk said all she could offer us was a double bed…at basically the same price. No thanks and can you say “Poor customer service?”. But we did have a nice time before that in a nearby park where the trees weren’t cottonwoods but were huge and beautiful and older lovely homes surrounded the park.

After a frustrating time of sitting in parking lot trying to find another (and more expensive) motel, make the reservation, drive there, and check in, we were more than ready for the outdoor patio, smooth dark beer, and tasty food at The Montana Brewing Company! If you’re ever in Billings, we highly recommend it. The BBQ shrimp salad and the pork belly sliders with homemade fries were both delicious, although the online menu appears not to be current.

In his infinite wisdom, my husband decided we needed dessert, which we asked to have halved in the kitchen. They went over and above, halving the cookie but giving us each a full measure of local (and awesome) ice cream. We couldn’t even finish but the entire experience made the hassles of earlier fade into stuffed oblivion.

My alarm was set for 4 am but I woke earlier, packed the coolers, loaded the last things in the van, and we were off on our two-day drive to Wyoming, the second time on this route for me and the first for my husband. Since we were married in 1984, we’d taken a different route, first from the east side of Cleveland and then an almost identical route from the Chicago area. Now our views and attractions were completely different.

We chose the scenic route, taking the Bush Highway to the Beeline Highway en route to I-40 east, confounding our GPS for some time before it gave up and went where I wanted it to go. Through the Tonto Forest, it was still night but we caught sight of two coyotes making their way next to the road.

After Payson, the two-lane highway 87 took us toward Winslow, Arizona (taking it easy but seeing no one standing on the corner when we arrived or any females in flat-bed Fords) and were enjoying the scenery when we were astonished and excited to see a large but young black bear run across the road a short distance ahead of us. He was really moving. What a great start to our trip! But it was about to get even better.

Just outside of Pine, right next to the road were three elk, animals you rarely see during the daylight at least in Wyoming. We found out later that there’s a herd in that area but this was quite a treat. Because there was no one coming, I stopped the van, rolled down the window and took a few shots. This fellow looked quite handsome.

The morning and road both went smoothly as we traveled east on I-25 on the way to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Here’s a joke for you. A couple died, went to heaven, and met St. Peter at the gates. “You have to spell the name of a city before you can enter”, he said. “Fine”, they replied. St. Peter turned to the woman and said, “Spell Omaha”, which she did rapidly and correctly. Turning to the husband, he said, “Spell Albuquerque.”

New Mexico is home to 19 pueblos. Visiting pueblos is on my list of things to do once Covid retreats. If you look at this map, you’ll see the Acoma and Laguna pueblos near I-40 and when we turned north on I-25 from Albuquerque, we passed through or were near a number of other pueblos which, as far as I can ascertain, are not just the pueblo buildings themselves but also the area where that tribe of Indians live. For more information about the pueblos, click here. (As far as the use of “Native American” vs “Indian”, I’ve read that many prefer to be called Indians so that’s what I’m going with.)

At this rest stop we saw signs telling us a bit about the Laguna and Acoma pueblos.

Our stopping point for the evening was Raton, New Mexico which, if you remember from last year’s post, is home to the coolest retro gas station. While looking for a place to eat, we went into The Ice House, which serves BBQ and makes their own BBQ sauce. The food must have been good because the place was packed, but with Delta around, we weren’t in the mood for crowds, so we decided to try elsewhere. But I did like this wall art outside and the cool seating in the lobby.

Couldn’t you just see Marilyn Monroe sitting here?

The alarm was set for another early morning to get us through Colorado and its traffic before it got too bad, even though it would be Sunday. Although I often take time to fall asleep, the combination of the early morning departure and the day of driving put me out quickly. Yes, I did all the driving because a) I enjoy it (driving is my super power, I think) and b) my husband works so much that I wanted him to have time to relax. Good night for now.

I had big plans to do a Monday walk post but time and friends got away with me and it’s now bedtime so not time for more. ๐Ÿ™‚ I walked in “my” park right away on Friday morning, a delightful time with a bit of forest bathing in some sections. This is more (and of course different) trees than in many blocks surrounding our house in Arizona and nary a cactus in sight. So much beautiful variety in the world. Happy Monday!

Hurrah! It’s time for another road trip. Today I’m starting the 27 hours of driving time to go from our house to that of friends back in Naperville, where I’ll spend a week and a half visiting people and places. Thankfully the gas shortages aren’t in the area through which I’ll be traveling. Since it’s a travel day, here’s a photo from a trip going the opposite direction on a night I stopped in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the sunset view from my room.

As usual when I’m traveling, I’ll respond to comments but probably won’t be doing much online visiting. I might even update you periodically and who knows, I might come across some purples along the way. ๐Ÿ™‚

for Life in Colour: purple