Monday, June 18, 2007

I wish I'd thought of that.....

I love words. Words are fun. Where would we be without words? (I was so tempted to end this right here.)

Which is why I love Word Imperfect. What a great idea! The author posts a new, obscure word each day, then ..... and this is the fun part ....... readers are invited to make up their own definitions of the word and post them as comments. Some of these are brilliant and very funny. (Some are boring, but they go by fast.) Readers can vote on which invented meaning they like best. The correct definition of the word is then revealed. An altogether excellent idea for a blog and I am sooooo jealous that I didn't come up with it first.

Wouldn't it be funny if Noah Webster put all the wrong definitions in when he wrote the first dictionary and we've now gotten used to all the incorrect meanings? Maybe a "sink" is a large over-stuffed chair. Makes more sense, doesn't it?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Coming Home

Yes, we are back home in Salem, Oregon safe and sound. Domesticity has set in again. Today we planted an herb garden and some lettuce plants, both of which Malcolm wants badly to destroy. He is plotting, I can tell. By the way, he was very glad to have his people back, and he's been repaying us for leaving him behind ever since we got home. Soon I will sell him on eBay.

Before going further, here's a short description of the final days of our journey.

Las Vegas was hot, the traffic was terrible, but it was all worth it to spend a couple of days with Dusty's sister, April. I wish I could put April's giggle in this blog - it would brighten up everyone's day. Oh, and that's Murphy the cat on the table between them.

After leaving Las Vegas, we had our most interesting travel day (if you're into panic and thoughts of old horror movies). Having once visited Pyramid lake, near Reno, I suggested that we drive that way instead of staying on the main roads. It was, after all, Memorial Day weekend and neither of us were too keen on maneuvering through heavy traffic.

There are very few towns between Las Vegas and Pyramid Lake. More out of boredom than a craving for chewy meat, I excitedly yelled "fresh jerky" when I saw a small store along the road advertising this treat. We went inside, picked up a bag of jerky and a big jar of cactus honey (for my mother), then spent ten minutes or so listening to the grizzled owner (of course in the Nevada desert, the owner would have to be "grizzled") give us directions on the best way to get to Salem. He talked and talked, and we understood some of it; he drew involved maps on a brown paper bag that we later couldn't decipher. Finally, we tore ourselves away. I don't think he gets many visitors. Many miles down the road we realized we had left the jerky behind. Oh well -on to Pyramid Lake.

Pyramid Lake is quite an unexpected sight when you've been driving for several hours through the barren sagebrush desert of Nevada. It's quite large with lots of interesting pyramid shaped rock formations around it. We congratulated ourselves on taking the road less traveled and finding such a refreshing spot. Right up to the time that the paved road ended and we found ourselves going about 20 mph on gravel and kicking up dust like crazy.

At this point I realized I had misread the map. What I thought was a "scenic route" was in fact an "unpaved road". But I wasn't concerned - it didn't look like a very long stretch of road. An hour (and maybe 25 miles) later, I began to get concerned. Dusty had been concerned for quite a long time and was nearing hysteria by this point. Just before her head would have exploded, we saw a pickup pulling a horse trailer approaching from the other direction. This was the first sign of life we'd seen since hitting the gravel road. The driver and his two dogs all spoke in a slightly German accent. We were told that we'd get to some town we'd never heard of if we just kept on the way we were going. On we went to someplace.

Half an hour later, still on the gravel road, we saw another pickup truck, this time behind us. We were encouraged that someone actually wanted to go wherever it was that we were going. We let the pickup truck pass us and we waved the driver down. He told us to follow him and he'd get us to the paved road, which he did. We then discovered we were in California, considerably south of where we had intended to cross the border. But we didn't care. We were off that stupid gravel road and we hadn't run out of gas and we hadn't pulled over an ax murderer to ask for directions, and we were never going to Pyramid Lake again.

So, another trip is history. It was definitely a success but we were very glad to get home.

Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Arches National Park, Utah

Here are some photos from Arches National Park that were taken on Thursday. Friday night we stayed in Mesquite, Nevada and had no Internet access. Last night was our first night in Las Vegas and I should have blogged, but I pooped out. So, I'll catch you up on our last day in Utah for a start.

We got into the park quite early in the morning so we had very little company at first. It's easy to walk around out there and feel like you're the only person for miles around. By the time we left it was getting a lot busier.

And then there's Las Vegas...... quite a culture shock after all our quiet days in the mountains. And who the heck controls the thermostat here?

Dusty and I have decided we have had enough of life on the road for a while, so we're heading back to Oregon when we leave Las Vegas in the morning. We have about 1,000 miles ahead of us. We'll be avoiding the interstates, so we will probably have a couple more motel nights before we reach Salem.

We are curious to see if Malcolm completely ignores us when we get home, or if he will be all over us. (We suspect the former.) We will also be coming home to new kitchen cabinets that my brother Jeff installed while we were gone. As you can tell, the travelers are getting a little homesick!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Canyonlands National Park, Utah

Lots of pictures tonight from Canyonlands National Park hear Moab, Utah.

The road into the park.

Dusty with two rock formations called the Merrimac and the Monitor in the background.

Beautiful country, this.

A rare sighting of the elusive Kate-person.

No matter what direction you look, there's a photo to be taken.

Blooming prickly pear cactus.

You don't realize how noisy your life normally is until you come to a place like this and can hear nothing but silence.

More prickly pears in bloom.


What can I say? Big rock.

See why they call it Canyonlands?

There is a how-to blogging book called "No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog". Having read the title, although not the book, I've avoided detailing our meals. Besides, what we've eaten on this trip is far less interesting than what we could have eaten, but didn't. In Colorado, we didn't eat buffalo jerky, buffalo burgers, or buffalo meat loaf (with black gravy). Fortunately, the wonderful chocolate shop in Estes Park has not joined the buffalo trend; I don't think I could have handled Double Buffalo Fudge.

In Utah, we haven't eaten Duck Raviolis (or is that Duck!!! Raviolis!!!), Lamb Tacos, Rabbit Sausage with Goat Cheese, Smoked Elk Tenderloin, Pan-seared Caribou medallions with plum, whiskey & habanero demi-glace, or the ever-popular breakfast dish, Pigs in a Pancho. I'll let you know soon what we don't eat in Nevada.

The plan for tomorrow is to go through Arches National Park, then head to Las Vegas for a visit with Dusty's sister, April. Get ready, April!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

In my last blog entry, I completely left out an important part of our trip yesterday: our visit to Mesa Verde National Park. Dusty had always wanted to see the Anasazi cliff dwellings.

You have to drive up about 20 miles of twisty mountain roads to get to where you can view the cliff dwellings. This is Dusty's very favorite type of road to drive on. I think her knuckles are still white.

One of the canyons in the park.

A pit house. Looks cozy, huh?

One of the cliff dwellings, from a distance. Dusty put a deposit on this one for next summer's vacation rental.

A tour group viewing one of the dwellings.

Back down in the valley.

Catching Up

If you're ever in Cortez, Colorado and want to connect to the Internet, do not stay at the Comfort Inn.

I settled in last night, all set for a nice long blogfest, but found that although I could connect to the wireless network, I couldn't actually do anything beyond that. My call to the motel's front desk got me nowhere ("Gee, I really don't know what to tell you.") Next step: calling the wireless company's customer support. I got a very nice young woman in India with whom I chatted amiably for way too long. We tried changing many settings on my laptop, then changed them back. Many questions were asked and answered. My face began visibly aging in the mirror in front of me.

Finally, when all solutions had been tried, I was told that the wireless company has an incompatibility issue with Intel network cards. Hmmm...... sounds like maybe they should go into sheep farming or something. The young Indian woman apologized for not being able to help me, then offered to give me a "case number" so that I could call them back if I wanted to. I felt like screaming "WHY ON EARTH WOULD I WANT TO CALL YOU BACK???". Anyway, no blog last night.

Tonight we are in Moab, Utah, with a wireless connection that works - hallelujah. So time to post yesterday's pictures and a few from today.

The last picture from the cabin in Estes Park. I had to show you the lighted snowshoes. If there's someone on your Christmas list who is hard to buy for, this is the answer.

An old stone church on a mountainside south of Estes Park.

The drive between Montrose and Durango, Colorado was great. The mountains are the San Juans.

More San Juan mountains.

This pictures was taken in the Uncompahgre National Forest in Colorado. Dusty and I just loved saying this word, so we said it over and over for hours. Occasionally we even pronounced it correctly. We also practiced saying Ouray (a town we drove through in Colorado, pronounced you-RAY). So it was "Uncompahgre, you-RAY" all the way down the road. Driving does not have to be dull.

I'm sure there's a good caption for this picture, but I don't know what it is. Dusty looks like she's trying to sell someone a river.

The trip from Montrose to Durango involved ascending several times to just under 12,000 feet, where it was still a little wintry.

This morning we drove through the Four Corners region (where the states of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona all meet at one point) then through Arizona a ways and up to Utah through Monument Valley. Unfortunately, it was very rainy all morning, so all the fantastic geological formations in Monument Valley were shrouded in clouds. As we got a little further north, it started clearing up. Above is Mexican Hat Rock.

Along the road driving up to Moab, Utah.

A mini-arch. Tomorrow we'll see the BIG arches in Arches National Park.

Dusty and the mini-arch.

We are staying two nights here in Moab, since we want to see both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National park.

For those of you who are leaving comments, first of all, thanks! Secondly, the comments don't show up on the blog until I "publish" them, which I do as soon as I know about them - but that might be the next day. This is to prevent comments showing up that I don't like, such as "What a stupid blog!", or "I can't believe I wasted my time reading this.". All extremely positive comments are encouraged though.