Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bringing it all Back Home



Always on these trips, we bring back home souvenirs. Who doesn’t? The theme this year has been seems to have been, “where are we gonna put that?” So we did not buy as much, or at least as many large acquisitions. Still we got some goodies.

Before Image: you can see all our loot, plus clothes and whatever piled in the back seat of the coupe. Our suitcases and supplies filled the trunk. (It’s a small car.)




Below you see our stuff spread out on our bed.  From top left clockwise four pieces of pottery from the Blue Ridge Pottery of Virginia. Below that a couple of bags of South Carolina Gold Rice. A cookbook from New Orleans, not sure where the other Southern cookbook was in that image. Then the Pepper Palace in New Orleans. I actually madeit onto their Wall of Flames. Stationery, those of you who have purchased from The PENguin know that I write notes. Toys for young friends and candle and preserves. A rolled print. A model submarine. And finally Anna’s red bag of goodies.





Anna models her Union kepi, we could not bring ourselves to buy a Confederate cap even though we were in the south.



Two knives and a pen for me and a couple of semi-useful leather clip pouches for knives.

In the next day or two I will try to sum it all up and run a gallery of my favorite images from the trip

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

True West: Salt Flats, Mountains and Horses




The title pretty much says it. On this next but last day of this year’s trip we went from just outside Salt Lake City to Winnemucca, Nevada with a couple of stops for the salt flats and in particular Bonneville.

The day was gorgeous and the only disappointment was the fact that a rainstorm the week before hadleft the flats too wet to be driven over. Otherwise Sharon would have gotten to sit out a few minutes while I took the car over 130 for the first time. But, alas, it was not to be.

We did have a nice visit with a BLM “ranger” about the ecology of the flats.

The last time we drove this portion of road there was all kinds of art across the flats. Only this one remains.

Someone just couldn't resist
But for the standing water, you do not usually get this view




The car was ready, I was ready,  the salt less so
 And later, after we crossed to Nevada, I was able to stop and get some nice shots of the mountains.

This mare was curious about what I was doing and the shutter noise





Saturday took us up to and over the Sierras and home.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The West



If Wednesday saw us moving from the the Great Plains toward the West, Thursday put us into firmly Western territory as we approached the Front Range of the Rockies went into the mountains, onto the high plains, ending up on the shores of the Great Salt Lake.

Sweetcakes, our trusty GPS system, gave us an interesting option, taking us off the Interstate in  western Wyoming and onto a route used by Oregon-and-California-bound emigrants as well as the Mormons and Pony Express riders. It was more historical than visually interesting but it broke things up and we found a nice Mexican restaurant along the route.

But the main thing is that we are now back in the West. Now, don’t get me wrong, we both enjoyed the South (me a bit moreso than Sharon), but the West is where we grew up and live. And while the West of Wyoming and Utah could not be more different than that of the Pacific Coast, it’s the West.

This part of the trip is not about images and touring but here are a few scenes from the West
We were not aware that the route traced that of the Oregon and California trails, but there we were.
Just before I took this we came across a small herd of pronghorn antelope and I did not have my camera ready with the telephoto, so I set it up. The rest of the afternoon all we saw were cattle and sheep. Note the mine tailings in the middle distance. The land here is too arid for agriculture, but you can practice extraction and animal husbandry. The route is dotted with old mines and modern quarries.


For those of you who are not Westerners, this is purple sage, yes, it's real

There is water, in contrast to areas to the west, just not much of it

More purple sage, see above
Unlike the compact farms east of the Mississippi, these ranches are huge and sprawling
After we rejoined I-80, we crossed the high plains and began a descent into the valley of the salt lake and once again the geography changed. Because we were on the interstate and it was mid-afternoon these were shot by Sharon with the iPhone


Rosa, as tired as we are


The owner of the hotel we are in also is a privateer, racing Porsches with some success

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

A Glancing Glimpse of Colorado (not much, really)


A long travel day on Wednesday carried us from the Great Plains to the front range of the Rockies, just a tad under 400 miles.

On travel days like these we don’t plan stops, if they happen they happen and around mid-day we found ourselves in Fort Collins, Colorado, home of the Colorado State University. Why does that matter? Our daughter attended CSU and graduated almost a decade ago, so we know the town and like it and we knew where we could have a good lunch, which we did at the Chéba Hut.

First glimpse of the front range of the Rockies means that we are back in the west.

One of Anna's favorite spots when she was an undergrad at CSU


Elk Mountain


Random windshield shots



Moreover, after lunch ‘Cakes (our GPS) suggested one of our favorite drives in the area, Highway 287 from Fort Collins to Laramie. From there it was pretty much a straight shot into Rawlins, Wyoming where we stay for the night. Thursday will take us from Rawlins to Tooele, Utah, just outside Salt Lake City.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

In Kansas



On Monday, we went from Arkansas through Oklahoma and into Kansas, pretty much non-stop, leaving the eastern woodlands for the prairie to spend the night in Wichita.

Tuesday, we slowed down a bit and our GPS (aka Sweetcakes or Cakes) having learned our methods actually took us off the interstate all on her own and led us along a scenic route between I-135 and I-70 that I could not recreate if at gunpoint. So, given the opportunity, I took some pictures to break the tedium of the drive.


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Our first stop was Lindsborg, a neat, prosperous looking town which seemed half community center and half charming tourist trap. We stopped and even shopped.
 
In the 19th century the town ran on the work of blacksmiths and wagoners, today coffee.


Yup, tourist shops


The horse Sharon bought was a bit smaller

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Then came something different, a prairie ghost town. Carneiro began as a sheep stating in the late 19th cntury, but by the mid 20th it began to be abandoned. Today it is described as a “tidy little ghost town,” which neatly sums it up.

These homes are so neat and tidy it's hard to believe they are abandoned


The church is still used for worship by a few families, no pastor is listed on the marquee/

According to an online history of the town, this school, built in 2016, has been closed since the 1960s and seemingly there is no use for this substantial building

Nature, about to reclaim this house


We even found a great little diner in Wilson where we had lunch. Everything was good, the pie was great. No dinner needed for us.


Town Hall

Made From Scratch, the name sums it up. They are serious about smoked meats and pies

But no more agricultural processing
This abandoned house must have stories to tell, or not, perhaps.
Across the road a prosperous farm.

Interestingly, this morning I read in Inside Higher Education how the governor of Kansas, Sam Brownbeck, has responded to the state’s economic distress by cutting taxes and, essentially, defunding government; the promise being that with no taxes wealth would flood the state. Apparently it has not worked out that way.

It was interesting to see signs of distress as we drove along. Not all the state stands in ruins, of course, but Brownback’s scheme seems to have failed and the state legislature has gone home and is allowing the governor to rule by fiat. Hmmmm.

Wednesday will take us from Burlington to Rawlins, Wyoming.