Friday, April 15, 2011

Knit one, Purl two

I am currently a knit addict. It started in California and it carries on now that I'm back home! I picked up some yarn for a sweater when I was out there. So far I've finished the back & both front pieces. Now I'm working on the sleeves. It's that wonderful Noro yarn; it's so yummy!

I'm probably an intermediate knitter but have found some great vids on youtube to help me along when I'm confused.

Hmm....seems there is a pattern here. I seem to be making lots of parts but no "wholes". Well! I'll fix that soon!!

Happy knitting!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thursday - Mobile AL to Jacksonville, FL

And I'm home! What an adventure it's been, but home sure does feel good. The car is unloaded (but I'm definitely not unpacked) and I've done enough to crash tonight without remorse for not doing x-y-z.

I had forgotten that the panhandle part of Florida is hilly. Not high, mind you! The highest spot in Florida is only 500 feet. But hilly just the same. All green, lush, hot & humid - that's Florida! It was 85 degrees when I got home :-) (Yea, we cut the grass here all year round.)

The drive across Florida starts in Pensacola, home of the Blue Angels. Some of the overpasses had Blue Angel planes in formation on the supports - it was way cool! You cross over beautiful Escambia Bay (where I dove for scallops when I was but a wee one). Drive some more then get to the state capitol, Tallahassee, which is home to Florida State and Florida A & M Universities. Drive a little more through the Osceola National Forest, then just a little bit further and you're at the east coast :-).

So now I have made the trip from the right coast to the left and back to the right. I've driven I-40, a tiny bit of Route 66, and the length of I-10. I drove a total of 5707 miles. Trusty Steed handled the drive beautifully & will be rewarded with a nice long bath and oil change tomorrow. Leroy the Decoy slept the whole way but did his duty. Lawrence the ever-annoyed navi system did a good job in spite of the couple of times he was totally confused. And I must say - having the nav system gave me the confidence to wander around California without fear of getting lost.

Would I do it again? You bet! And I probably will. I'll go in the warm months so I can go the northern route, see Yellowstone, Glacier, Mount Rushmore etc, without worrying about weather. I'll visit California again, too. I enjoyed it so very much!! I'd like to spend a few weeks just wandering around, seeing more.

Turns out taking the southern route was a good choice. Flagstaff got lots more snow than was forecast, the Grand Canyon got snow, roads were closed in northern Texas because of the fires, and northern Mississippi & Alabama had tornadoes. The southern route was indeed the best option! So now I'll unpack from this trip & pack up for 2 weeks on the beach doing not much of anything. Ah, retirement! Thanks so much for taking the trip with me! It was nice to know you were following along!!!!! And ....

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wednesday - Houston TX to Mobile AL

The landscape is green and flat. Familiar. YAY! I must be close to home!

I passed mile marker 880 in Texas then shouted with joy at the "Welcome to Louisiana / Bienvenue en Louisiane" sign. Not that Texas was awful (although parts of it were); just that I'm sure i-10 is the longest route possible across that state! My trip is 2700 miles - that means Texas is 1/3 of the trip!!! Holy cow! That says something, doesn't it?

It was an uneventful day except for the traffic. Started with a wreck on I10 in Houston - right off the bat! There was a hotel fire in ... New Orleans? ... that caused a back up, forest fires in southern Mississippi. Driving home through these southern states looks just like home. Lots of green. What's interesting, though, is how my eyes get tired here, but not in the western states. I think it's because in the western states, I can see for miles (so my eyes are constantly adjusting to different differences) but here it's tunnel vision (with the trees making the road a tunnel). I have to stop more often now to readjust my eyeballs. Ah well... it's good to stop & walk around & recirculate the blood parts. :-)

Again I crossed the Mighty Mississippi and had the same feeling of "definition". Big Muddy is certainly an appropriate nickname for this river!

I went to the Marriott site last night to book a room for tonight. I never know what the place will look like, so I sure was surprised at the elegance and class of this hotel! The reservation dude tried to talk me out of it but I picked it because it's right off I-10. I think it's perfectly appropo that I landed in this room tonight! I used my Marriott points so I'm staying for free. Downtown Mobile, overlooking lots of water (Mobile River and Mobile Bay, if I've googled correctly!!). The room is awesome! Not quite as awesome as the Encore in Vegas, but close. Fitting for my last night on the road, don't you think? :-) Here's the view:

(Mobile convention center, across the street)

That's more water out past those white buildings

Soooo glad I didn't listen to the reservation dude!

So tomorrow I should make it home. It's been terrific but .... click... click ... there's no place like home!!!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tuesday - Fort Stockton TX to Houston TX

I am at mile marker 751 and am STILL 100 miles from leaving the Lone Star State. Jeezoman!

Just as I thought I would just wilt from seeing so much brown, Texas turned green. The first 500 miles of I-10 from the west are nothing but brown and desolation, wildfires, carrion, buzzards, and lots and lots of mountains. I almost started singing Marty Robbins songs!

Down in the west texas town of El Pasooooo......

I've decided that if Arizona was the Badlands, Texas is the WorseLands. Then it seems to "suddenly" change to green and civilization. Oh I have never been so happy to see traffic!!!!! (and green).

The fires are very sad, though. Many many fires burning through all of Texas right now. I couldn't help but wonder if that's why there are so many dead animals on the roads (running from the fires). I saw at least 30 dead deer today, and countless other animal species (skunks, of course). You know, the buzzards hanging on the road/ground having a little snack don't bother me, but when they're standing on top of the carcass....eww... it creeps me out.

I don't know how high up I was at various times today (cars should come with altimeters!!), but I know I could see for miles and miles and miles.

(I didn't capture the view very well in this pic).

It's interesting how the tops of the mountains here are flat instead of craggy. I'll have to read about that & see if there's a theory as to why. I recall that the trip from Dallas to Amarillo was hilly, but the part of Texas I've been through on the return trip is DEFINITELY mountainous!!

Another first today - real live road runners! And yes, they were running beside the road. How cool is that??

I passed through Pecos County today but never did see ol' Pecos Bill.

I got tired about 90 minutes from Houston so made a reservation and parked for the night. I hope to be home Thursday evening, but have no looming deadlines. It's been a heck of a trip!!

Thanks for stopping by!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday - Willcox, AZ to Fort Stockton, TX

Leaping time zones, Lizzie! I began the day in Pacific time and am ending it in Central.

Let me tell you about the southern route (I-10) home: don't do it. Yeow it is desolate! Very mountainous in a desert sort of way. Brown and dry. Makes me think how hot it must be if you made that trip in the summer months. Ugh! The good thing is that the speed limit was 75 in AZ and NM, then 80 in TX; I was able to go 460 miles today. (Told you that homing beacon kicked in!!)

I did take some pics of Las Cruces NM, from the rest stop - great view! - but the camera is in the car (oops) and I'm in my PJs. I'll update the blog with pics tomorrow night.

(Updated: the view of Las Cruces from the rest stop)

Dang! AGAIN!!! ... or .... are they referring to the truck drivers??????

Not much to say today - vast, brown, nothingness. I was excited to see power lines! I thought maybe I was finally reaching civilization again! (I was). OH! I did get harassed by some guy on the highway today. Not sure what his issue was - just crazy I think. He harassed me - stopping me from passing, beeping his horn, flashing lights, windshield wipers, giving me multiple birds. Finally I called the cops. I think since I totally ignored him, he picked another victim. I stayed close to a service truck, and the other person he was harassing just floored it to about 100 and let the harasser eat dust. Shortly thereafter we all got stopped by the border patrol so who knows what happened to the jerk? What a nut job.

I was real glad to get away from the border with Mexico, considering all that goes on these days. I was a little creeped out being so close! Also - El Paso is one ugly city! EEEEE yuck! Hopefully tomorrow I'll see something green!!!

Updated: this dude overlooks Las Cruces all the time. He's kinda awesome.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday - Barstow CA to Willcox AZ

View Larger Map

Snow in Flagstaff. Snow at the Grand Canyon. I'm heading south!!!!!! I decided to head toward I-10 to avoid the snow. The route took me through bee-u-tee-ful Palm Springs, CA. Snow on the mountains, beautiful weather on the road. No wonder people want to live there. (Palm Springs makes me think of Johnny Carson). The mountains are much browner now; not the lush green that was prevalent toward the coast. Right outside of Palm Springs is another ginormous windmill farm (I think the proper term is wind turbine??). They are really something! We should have them in Florida!

Finally I get to I-10, but it still takes awhile to get out of California. I was beginning to wonder if I'd make it out today! I crossed into Arizona and felt like I was in the badlands. Brown, rocky, sandy mountains. Crags everywhere. I'm just sure the sands were full of scorpions and gila monsters!! BUT!!!! ... I finally saw saguaro cacti! Every shape, size, and stage of life (a dead saguaro looks quite odd, actually!) And then I saw more .... and more ... and more. It was kinda cool, actually, but definitely felt like THE BADLANDS. :-)

I drove and drove and drove till I felt like I should stop, driving almost 600 miles today. It seems that once I hit I-10, the homing beacon switched on! Suddenly, now that I'm not playing tourista on the trip home, I'm anxious to get back. I've been gone a long, long time and I miss my friends! So here I am in Willcox (wherever the hell that is) AZ, settled for the night and ready to do a little knitting. Who knows where I'll land tomorrow!!!!!!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday - Paso Robles to Barstow (still in CA)

Finally I've left the left coast & headed inland toward my planned route home. The early part of my route was through more wine country - in the clouds! They were so low in the morning, and the vineyards were striking! They're so lovely! (and delightfully small - someday I'll come back & taste wine at every one of them.) Then I was in almond country again, and back on "the 5" (by the way, I think 98% of the Priuses sold in the US are here in California!!)

Driving through all these mountains, I'm struck by the courage of the pioneers to have faced mountain after mountain, conquer it, and keep on going. What daring persons they were! At least I knew there was a road on the other side! The pioneers had no idea what would be over the next peak. Such bravery!

There simply is no way to describe driving thru Tehachapi. If you are ever in that part of California, make the drive (US58) through this lovely place. It's like driving through a post card. Or maybe a fantasy. (Harry Potter fans: think "Hogwarts" grounds) I had driven west through there on the way out, so was excited to see my route would take me back through heading east. I was totally unprepared for the change! It had snowed the night before. Tehachapi is in the midst of rolling green mountains, so ground level had no snow, but the mountains were capped, then dusted further down .... it was breathtaking! Every curve had a new view that seemed too beautiful to be real. Three different times I had tears spring to my eyes just from the sheer magnificence rolling out in front of me. It was amazing!!!! (But I had to hurry to clear my eyeballs so I could see to drive!! :-) No camera could ever convey the beauty.

When leaving Tehachapi, there's the windmill farm again but this time the windmills had their feet in snow. It was quite a site! Then up over the mountain, down the hill and .... awaaaaaaaaay we go! Joshua trees abound and I'm in the Mojave - just like that!

I stayed overnight in Barstow in a hotel on Route 66. There's a great museum (Route 66) in that little town - and it's free. The road itself ... well ... the old girl is in a sad state of disrepair! The speed limit is 40 but I wouldn't go more than about 30. Much too bumpy and old! Still, nostalgia overtakes you as you see some of the places that have been around for 50+ years. I ate at a recommended place - Bun Boy - that's been around since 1949. The booths are all covered in Route 66 fabric, and the waitress was so cute! She was young - maybe 25 - with her hair all done up on 50's style and wearing a Route 66 apron. She made the experience fun! (The food was passable, but wouldn't get my recommendation!!)

My plan was to head only to Kingman AZ in the morning - only about 2.5 hours from Barstow - and wait out the storm, but .... the weather didn't cooperate. Check the next post for where I ended up on Sunday night.

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 8, 2011

On the Road Again

(me and Willie)

Today I waved goodbye to Pacific Grove, Asilomar, the quilters, the beautiful grounds and the deer. I took one last spin around Pacific Grove, then through Monterey then hit the road for California points-south. I didn't travel far - just a couple of hours to Paso Robles.

Since I left Pacific Grove so early, I passed by Paso Robles and went a little further south to San Luis (please pronounce the "s") Obispo. Wow. Again with the beautiful scenery!!!! I have to admit that, for my personal eye-candy appeal, I will be hard-pressed to find anything more beautiful than California. I easily understand why people flock here. The issue, of course, is the price of housing. Yeow! The tiny (TINY!! maybe 700 sq. feet) houses in Pacific Grove go for about $800,000. But there's nothing like the natural landscape I've seen here.

Today I was driving through farms - tomatoes, asparagus, and artichokes. Here are all these (flat) farms - acres and acres and acres! - with mountains on either side. It's eerie! Flat land, then up crops a mountain. I'm still in lush mountains - their color is unbelievable! Like a well-groomed golf course, only natural. Everything looks almost manicured, yet it's just .... there. Sooo beautiful!!!

I also went through lots of vineyards, and am in the midst of vineyard country here. Lots of places to stop and taste wine, but .... I'm the designated driver! :-) Instead I stopped at a charming little cheese shop in Paso Robles and got dinner - some brie, some salami, and a hunk of bread. (There was a bakery attached but I resisted.)

I stopped at " the Adobe" in San Luis Obispo. WONDERFUL stuff! There goes more on the credit card! I got some yarn that is local (to SLO) - beautiful stuff! It doesn't have a purpose yet - but it's in my car, ready for it's road trip to F.L.A. I also stopped at Birch - a quilt shop in Paso Robles. Only 2 pieces HAD to come home with me. I think I might be done shopping now. (Just kidding)

I'm sort of laying back here in California for an extra day. Turns out I can miss the snow and take Route 66 home if I just lag back a day; I can do that! I'm looking forward to those kicks!!

So, I'm back on the road, headed back to where the sun rises over the ocean - and where it's probably 30 - 40 degrees warmer. I'm taking my time and will fill you in each day at the end of my travels. I'm really going to miss Pacific Grove.

Thanks for stopping by!