Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Chasing Petroglyphs: Dinosaur National Monument

I love it when I underestimate an attraction. This is the day we visit the Carnegie Quarry/ Douglass Quarry. I am going to quote from the Dinosaur National Monument Day Trip 5 folder now: The Visitor Center contains a fine bookstore, exhibits explaining the fossils, petroglyphs, and other park features, and information about how to see fossils in the park. The Carnegie Quarry . . . is one of the best Jurassic Period dinosaur finds in the world. Between 1909 and 1924, Paleontologist Earl Douglass discovered 10 species of dinosaurs, twenty complete skeletons and skulls. The Carnegie Quarry and other fossil quarries in the park have greatly advanced the study of dinosaurs. Current research in the park is focused on understanding the ecosystems the dinosaurs lived in, which has resulted in the discovery of new species of dinosaur, salamander, frog, lizard, mammal and plants. By protecting fossils, we can better understand the past. By understanding the past we can better understand the present.

The Quarry offers the public an opportunity to put your hands on a real dinosaur bone

There is so much I find both impressive and moving about this site. First, Douglass discovers this amazing site where an ancient river regularly flooded, killing local species in an early version of climate crisis, the bodies would be stuck in the mud, the mud baked hard, like concrete, and the cycle continues, layer on layer of bones, many with skeletons relatively intact, piled up in this location.

He had the genius to know it was a paleontological gold mine. Workers extracted skeletons that are now in the finest paleontology museums in the world. To me, here is where true vision comes in – Douglass had the vision to preserve an entire partially excavated wall of fossils, to create a beautiful, light-filled building to protect the wall, and to open this wall of fossils to the public, at no charge.

What better way to build public understanding and public support?

We drove to the visitor center, and caught a shuttle, which makes the circuit every 15 minutes. Soon we arrived at the Wall of Bones.

On the upper level, there are interactive stations which will help you identify exactly whose bones you are looking at. It’s amazing stuff.

All kinds of informational displays help you understand exactly what you are seeing.

I had never heard of Dinosaur National Monument. I saw it on the map and thought it would be an interesting stop on our way to Moab. I had no idea I would be so blown away by the Fremont Petroglyphs at McConkie Ranch or this Wall of Bones at the Dinosaur National Monument. Life remains a great adventure.

June 11, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Circle of Life and Death, Climate Change, Environment, Fund Raising, Living Conditions, Local Lore, Road Trips, Spiritual, Technical Issue, Travel, Values | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs, the McConkie Ranch

Imagine a ranch at the bottom of a huge long red cliff, a private ranch, which allocates land to public parking and has created a path about a half a mile to the cliffs and then up the cliff itself, to the shelves where the petroglyphs are.

I hope they had volunteers helping, as there were steps and a well-cleared path to help us make the climb. To top it all off, there is no charge. There is a donation box in the parking lot. There is signage, there are marked trails. This is the generosity of the human spirit in action, making these petroglyphs available to those of us who take an interest in them. Not charging us anything, trusting we will donate. Creating paths and a place to park. God bless the McConkies.

We are delighted we can still make this sort of trek. While the path zigzagged, it felt like we were going straight up. In places, we needed to climb up rocks. We were both panting when we reached the top, but oh, it was so worth it. These petroglyphs, were Fremont people petroglyphs, some very simple and dramatic, but many glyphs of people with elaborate necklaces, headdresses (or else they were aliens), and clothing. It was worth every minute of the climb. These are some of the loveliest petroglyphs I have ever seen.

We were very conscious as we climbed that it was dangerous. There were slippery spots, and other places which required some climbing. It isn’t just a matter of fitness, it is also a matter of acclimation to the altitude – AdventureMan and I were both very aware of how vulnerable we are, making these climbs. And we are so exultant when we make it to the top. We can still do this!

What does it mean that there is a circle around so many of the figures? Does it mean they are living? Does it mean they have moved on to the next life? Is it some kind of ancient hula-hoop? What I love are the bodies, the way these figures are more modern, with wide shoulders narrowing to a smaller waist.

Culturally, we tend to think of people wearing earrings and necklaces as female – are these female? No sign of breasts. Are they warriors? Priests? We don’t know.

A purse? A warrior decoration? A metaphor for seeds and falling rain? This is a fertile field for speculation.

Circles. Ear decorations. Necklace. Eyes and Mouth!

I am fascinated by the creature to the left. Some kind of skirt – corn husks? What would constitute a lower covering with separate strands? Gives a masculine feeling, but shoulders not so broad as the others. (Can you see why we chase petroglyphs? So much mystery!)

Parts are lost as rock cleaves and sheds . . . this head appears square, but what is this decorated halo-like circle around the top of the head? What is in his hand – is that a bell of some kind, with a clapper? The head of an enemy? A space suit helmet?

Look – horns! AdventureMan, who loves to yank my chain, says this is clear proof of aliens among us from earliest times, with their space suit and buttons and elaborate decorations.

So many questions. Feathers? What is he holding? What are the extra lines from shoulder to waist? Is that a helmet on his head?

AdventureMan would say that this is proof of jet-propulsion suits. I think it may have more to do with procreation . . . But what about this guy in the lower right, his head is more rounded and he looks like he has antannae?

These crack me up. It looks like a scratch-pad to me, practice for something else. But wait – see below – an entire section appears to have been cut away! Where is it? What is missing? I don’t even begin to know where to start looking for answers.

For me, this interlude, at the McConkie Ranch, physically challenging, in the heat of the late afternoon (but what great light for photos!) was one of the highlights of our trip. I look at this work by an ancient people and I marvel.

We have chased petroglyphs in Botswana and Namibia, in Saudi Arabia, in France, and in the United States. None have enchanted me the way these have.

June 11, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Botswana, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Public Art, Random Musings, Road Trips, Saudi Arabia, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: A Ride Down Flaming Gorge

This was not the day I expected. I only put Vernal on the map as a halfway to Moab, or sort of, and there was the Dinosaur National Monument, which I had never heard of but knew AdventureMan would love.

The night before, we looked at the map and found Hgwy 530, going south from Green River, WY to Manila, UT, a scenic highway paralleling Flaming Gorge. It was designated a scenic highway, and with a look at the map, we thought we would see more water. All in all, it’s just a way to get to our next stop.

The ride to Manila was uneventful. We stopped a couple times, the scenery was nice but nothing to really write about.

We stopped for gas just across the border from Wyoming into Utah, and got a little bit of sticker shock, and a little bit of humor – Cowboy Gas!

Out of Manila, however, oh holy wow. Utah has great signage, so while the rocks and hills were full of color, we also knew exactly what we were looking at. There were frequent turn-outs with informative and readable and illustrated scripts. The colors and the views were phenomenal.

We stopped for lunch at the Flaming Gorge Resort, not at all what you think of in terms of a resort. There were some nicer-looking log cabins and a whole lot of RV parking and camping facilities. The Restaurant/Gift shop was very down-home; the gift shop stocked with every kind of fishing equipment you can imagine a fisherperson would covet; clothing, lures, rods/reels, things I don’t even know what they were.

The restaurant was family-oriented, we both broke the rules and had hamburgers, the Flaming Gorge hamburger, with jalapeños. In truth, we barely noticed what we were eating because we had received an e-mail with airline reservations for our November trip that we don’t like at all. It has us routed through three plane changes before we get to our destination. I cannot imagine a more sure way to have a piece of luggage go missing.

Our trip manager had warned us we would receive it and NOT TO CONFIRM, NOT TO EVEN RESPOND the day before we left on the trip, but it was still unsettling.

We soon forgot our jangled nerves as we departed Manila and experienced some of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes we can remember. Geological upheavals everywhere, from all different periods. Places full of sea fossils and fish scales. Bands of iron-red deposits stretching for miles, lighting up the landscapes. A 30-minute drive took us about an hour and a half as we stopped at every outlook and gasped with delight. It never got old. 

Coming into Vernal, we were exhausted, and our room at the Springhill Suites was waiting for us! We had gotten confirmation via text that our room was ready at 0830 before we had even left the Outlaw inn, a first for us. We rested, and then headed out in search of more petroglyphs, on the McConkie Ranch, about 13 miles out of Vernal.

June 11, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Local Lore, Road Trips, Travel | , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: White Mountain, Eden and the Pilot Butte Ponies

Route for May 22, 2022

This morning, we slept in. Well, 0830 is sleeping in for us, it’s 9:30 in Pensacola and we are up and ready to hit the day. It is a quiet Sunday morning. We have a quick breakfast at the Outlaw Inn, and head out with our friend Google Maps to find White Mountain, and our first petroglyphs of the trip.

It’s an easy drive, just turn right outside the Outlaw Inn and then turn right onto a pretty good County Road. It’s a dirt road, but well maintained. Then we turn onto another county road, a road less travelled. And then Google tells us we’ve missed our exit to White Mountain. What?? There was not a sign of an exit! Not a road sign, not a track, not a visible indicator of a way. We back up. We get out. Oh. There. Faint tire marks turning off the road. AdventureMan goes further on foot to make sure the road continues.

The tracks are more visible once you are actually out in the field. We have an AWD vehicle, we have experience – so we decide to continue on the track. We continue for about half a mile, and the ground is softer. We have visions of being rescued, elderly, dehydrated, because we’ve bogged down out of sight of any road . . . we turn back and decide to follow the county road.

We are so glad we do. Just a couple miles further, we see signs for White Mountain Petroglyphs, and then come to a legitimate turn-off, a marked turn-off. Part way to White Mountain we see those tracks join the road, and we are glad we are not still out there in the field, worried about getting stuck in the sand, no shovels, no cardboard, nothing to help us free ourselves.

Although remote, there is a parking lot, a long-drop toilet, and a clear trail to the base of the mountain, and a clear trail – straight up.

Although Rock Springs is not as high up as Denver, we are still adjusting to the altitude and the dryness of the air. It is still cold, we are glad of it, because the hike heats us up and we take it at a comfortable pace because the air is so dry and our lips and faces are chapping.

Totally worth the hike. While these are not the best-preserved petroglyphs we’ve ever seen, they are original and intriguing. There is also a lot of modern-day petrographic activity of the high school demographic.

Elk

Bear Eating Deer?

The standard rule with petroglyphs (carved into rock) and petrographs (drawn onto rock) is NO TOUCHING. No rubbing, no outlining with chalk, nothing which might degrade the incision or erode the lines. Someone has used chalk, probably a guide, to help viewers understand what they are seeing. If you know anything about petroglyphs, you know that we can speculate, we can ask modern-day First Nation people, and in the end, it is all speculation. Are they celebrating a triumphal hunt? Are they imploring the spirits to be available for the hunt? Are these incised bear claws a tribute to the bear’s strength? A brag about a bear-clan strength? We can only guess.

Is this a birth petroglyh? Is it celebrating a real event or is it a metaphor? So many questions!

An idea of hands? Bear claws?

Impressive. Deep bear claw impressions – how long did it take to make these?

The zigzag – is that for long life? A direction to go for game?

Some are really hard to see on the rock faces, depending on the light and angle

View from White Mountain of Boars Tusk and Killpecker Sand Dunes, the largest living sand dunes in the USA

Boars Tusk is the remnant of an ancient volcano thrust 400 feed above the plain; an instantly recognizable landmark for hikers (and people looking for White Mountain.)

Boars Tusk with Killpecker Sand Dunes in background

We are pumped. We’ve spent a couple hours traipsing around the mountain, seeking out these obscure petroglyphs, trying to decipher what they were meant to communicate. Bottom line – we don’t know, but we are exhilarated and delighted to have found this site.

The county road loops back around to the main road to Farson, and we know that just short of Farson is the Sweet Water Smoke, a barbecue restaurant we’d like to try. We are famished. Hiking and cold fresh air will do that to you!

We find Sweet Water Smoke and are delighted. It is small, and four of the five tables are taken, which leaves one for us. The entire time we were there, people were coming and going, take out orders rolling out the door, this place is humming with activity.

And no wonder! This is not ordinary barbecue! Their cole slaw is Sriracha cole slaw. They offer roasted brussel sprouts as a side, along with more traditional baked beans, macaroni and cheese, etc. I was just blown away to find roasted brussel sprouts as a side in a small Wyoming town. We remember one time traveling through Wyoming when we felt desperate for vegetables and were told to go to this “wonderful restaurant with a salad bar.” The steak was delicious. The salad bar had potato salad, cottage cheese, jello salad, and macaroni salad.

Sweet Water Smoke changes out two additional entrees every week and features a goat-cheese cheesecake with chocolate ganache. Who could resist?

There is a route we want to follow next, the Pilot Butte Road, which is supposed to be challenging, but I think they may have improved the road since we read the warnings because it was easy with our AWD. Having said that, we passed another group busy changing a tire; the road was dirt and gravel and some potholes. Not what we would consider challenging, but a road where we took care.

We were looking for the herds of wild ponies.

Petrified log alongside the guide sign

No wild horses in sight, but some mind-blowing expanses of scenery along the track. There were inescapable signs of wild horses, piles and piles of signs of wild horses, but we never saw a single wild horse.

Pilot Butte, after which the trail is named

In front of us is a valley where Interstate 80, the old Lincoln Highway, runs. It is also where the Pony Express trail ran before the coast-to-coast railroad took over prompt mail delivery. It makes me sad to see that prompt delivery of mail is no longer a priority for the US Mail system. Here also ran several of the migratory trails as America moved westward. What courage and initiative it took – blasting away hills, bridging canyons and rivers, tunneling through mountains and building across swamps – feats of imagination and engineering. We are in awe of the minds that solved these problems.

June 11, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Building, Bureaucracy, Cultural, Geography / Maps, Restaurant, Road Trips, Survival, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: Joe Pickett Guides Us Through the Red Desert, Wamsutter and the Lincoln Highway to Rock Springs, Wyoming

The sun wakes us early the next morning, streaming in our window. The temperature is 22°F and there is a light frost on the ground. All we brought in are our backpacks, so we grab a quick breakfast from our supplies and head out.

It’s a beautiful day at 22°F

“Why would you want to go to Rock Springs, Wyoming?” asked my new brother-in-law with genuine bewilderment, at the end of our trip as we were spending time with him and my sister.

I didn’t know he had been born there, and still has family there. No, we had chosen this obscure route because of a series by C.J. Box about a game warden named Joe Pickett, a series we have both read from book one to book 22. In Off the Grid, Joe is tracking a crazy bear into the Red Desert when he finds a bunch of terrorists and naive young people putting together a magnetic pulse bomb to create havoc in the civilized western world. (Honestly, I don’t even know how to describe the plot to you, sometimes it doesn’t have to make a lot of sense, you just sort of have to roll with it.)

I had never heard of The Red Desert before, and I had driven that stretch of Highway 80, the old Lincoln Highway, several times. It was always just a place to get through, but this time we would be looking at it with different eyes.

It all started in Qaqortoq, on our Wake of the Vikings trip (just type in Wake of the Vikings in the search window of this blog if you want to more about that trip). In Qaqortoq, AdventureMan asked me what I would do if I lived there and I told him I would learn to spin wool, something I’ve always wanted to do. He said “If I had to live here, I would kill myself or drink myself to death.”

On this trip, we passed through several towns about which he felt the same. We like being remote on trips. He doesn’t like the idea of living remote.

The field irrigators are on, and the spray etches patches of fairy ice onto the grass.

It is a beautiful day, and we stop often, just because we can. It is cold, but it is also beautiful. These rocks, we learn, are called fortification rocks, because in territorial wars people could use them to strategic advantage.

note the bullet holes. Bullet holes were everywhere.

There were mountains in the distance capped with white snow. We began seeing pronghorns, and at one point, when we stopped to take a photo, I almost stepped on a dead elk, probably hit by a car. There was no smell, probably because it was still so cold.

Pronghorn

Baggs, Wyoming, is at the border between Colorado and Wyoming and is at the southeastern tip of The Red Desert. Baggs was where AdventureMan said he would kill himself if he had to live in a town with 411 people.

AdventureMan mentions there are routes into the Red Desert coming up, and I counter saying that they are tracks, not routes, and if we were to go in, and get into some trouble, it is very remote and we might be those tragic elderly people who foolishly thought they could survive, but couldn’t. Honestly, I would love to see the Red Desert AND I know we are not the people we once were. I think we could survive a lot, being who we are, and I also know it is not wise, at our age, to tempt the fates. I can’t really tell whether he is disappointed or relieved by my response. My best guess would be – both.

That’s the tip end of The Red Desert in the background. If you look at the Google Map of today’s journey, you will see a big empty space in the middle, a biblical “trackless waste.”

Just around lunchtime, we enter Wamsutter, a boom-and-bust town with several past lives. AdventureMan finds the Hacienda Mendez, where we have our first taste of cactus salad – it is delicious.

Dining area
Bar
Crispy chips and tasty salsa

Cactus Salad – Nopal Salad
Mexican Burger

Shrimp Tostadas

And on we go, down the Lincoln Highway toward Rock Springs, the Red Desert to our left with high tabletop plateaus guarding the tracks leading to the interior, and the Great Divide Basin to our right, along with the Killpecker Sand Dunes (Wikipedia calls them the largest living dune system in the United States. I didn’t know that – did you know that?)

We head into Rock Springs and find our home for the next couple of nights, The Outlaw Inn. I could not resist the name.

They gave us a really great room, with two bathrooms, one with a toilet and shower, one with a toilet and tub. Just pure luck.

Calamity Jane in one of the party rooms

Dropping our gear, we headed out to explore Rock Springs. We wanted to find the college museum, but when we found it, nothing was open. In Joe Pickett’s world, this was where his daughter April went to university, a rodeo college. What we did find was a wonderful museum, the Rock Springs Historical Museum, and a wonderful docent who was willing to answer all our questions. This museum was wonderful. It included a full jail, and a padded cell as well as well-curated exhibits of communications, health care, etc. through the earliest history of the county.

I am eager for tomorrow, when we have a real adventure, searching for the White Mountain Petroglyphs!

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Beauty, Cultural, Living Conditions, Marriage, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Safety, Social Issues, Survival, Travel, Wildlife | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: A Day for Blizzards En Route to the Elk Hunting Capitol of the World

From time to time, we have a moment of reckoning. We love adventure. We always have. It is wired into our beings. And every now and then, we catch a glimpse of who we might also be, people in their seventies, “elderly” and vulnerable. We realize that today is risky. The weather forecasts are dire. Should we cancel?

We load up the car and head for Snooze, a popular breakfast stop, where I stoke my engine with an oatmeal covered with fruit, and AdventureMan has an omelette with cheese and bacon and hash browns. We stop at Trader Joe’s for an empty liquor box which serves for the rest of the trip as “The Food Box” and keeps our things from rolling around.

Google Maps gets us out of town, on to I-70 and we begin to see little specks of something that might be snow, but we agree that as long as the roads are clear, we are good to go. We do forego the very track-like road for an exit with a more used road, and head north, to Craig, Colorado, The Elk Hunting Capitol of the World.

The higher we got, the colder it got, but lucky for us, it just stayed that way until we left I-70 for highway 40 going north and west through Steamboat Springs to Craig. Here, on the two-lane highway, things slowly got a little dicey. Cars coming toward us were covered with snow. The sleet had turned into a light snow, and the temperatures had now dropped down into the 20’s.

We went through several mountain passes, the snow getting heavier, and beginning to accumulate on the highway. We slowed down. Fortunately, most of the other drivers were also slowing down; you can’t always tell where the ice patches are forming just by looking. We knew we had come through the worst of it when, after the last pass (where I almost felt like I was having trouble breathing) we saw trucks pulling over and taking off their chains, a really good sign.

We were so glad to get to Steamboat Springs. Our short drive had taken four hours, crawling along with low vizibility.

Steamboat Springs is a ski town, with high-end gift shops. This one had a full dinosaur skeleton leg for sale. I could see it in some nouveau-timber-lodge with high ceilings, but I shudder at the thought. We grab sandwiches, enjoy a walk around the town, and head off the few remaining miles to Craig. For a this leg of the drive, we even see some blue sky.

“Why are we going to Craig?” AdventureMan asked, “even though it is the ‘Elk hunting capital of the world?” 

About five years ago, we made a change in our travel habits. I grew up in a family that got up early, drove hell-bent-for-leather as far as we could go, sometimes 12 or 14 hours straight, a habit my husband never loved nor developed. Finally, I figured out there were other options, and we decided on “shorter days and longer stays.” Now, we are much happier travelers, and our adventures have fewer cross moments. 

“Craig is about halfway to Rock Springs,” I responded. “I knew we could drive the whole distance in one day but it would kill us. So I broke the day up, and Craig had these interesting cabins, Wild Skies Cabins. I’m interested to see what they are like.”

I often take a chance on something a little out of our lane, just to see how it works out. Then, I worry that it isn’t going to be a good thing. We found the cabins, and just as we started to unload our bags, we were hit with a furious flurry of snow.

The cabin was simple, and warm. We bundled the minimum necessary inside and AdventureMan just grinned. It’s just what we like. It isn’t large, but it is cozy, it has wood carved furniture, wood-paneled walls, a refrigerator, a microwave, and wi-fi. He loved that the comforters and sheets had fish and bear and canoes; he says it reminds him of boy scout camp. It is not fancy, but it is very private. From our deck we can see a herd of pronghorn deer settling in for the night. By the way, not a single elk in sight.

Don’t you love those sheets and comforters? The sheets are flannel! AND, we have some of the best Chinese food, still chilled and plentiful, to warm in the microwave, so we don’t even have to go out into the snow.

It’s always exhilarating to survive an adventure 🙂

View of our cabin as we leave the next day.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Aging, Climate Change, Geography / Maps, Road Trips, Survival, Travel, Wildlife | , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: Outfitting and Play in Denver

Even sleeping in, we are up early, due to the one hour difference in our body time from Denver time. We need a little breakfast, and head over to La Fillette for coffee and breakfast rolls.

Next stop, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, one of our favorite places in Denver. AdventureMan wanted to see the visiting Egypt exhibit (and said it was a total WOW) and I wanted to visit the nature exhibits and see the visit to the Solar System, so we split up with an agreement to meet up for lunch.

Everlasting Storm on Jupiter

Rings of Saturn
Colorado Wildlife

There are several school groups in the museum, which I suppose I could count as Colorado Wildlife, but they were all so good, and I love to see children enjoying museums.

Sale of Egyptian Glass bottles as part of the Egyptian Exhibit

AdventureMan has had a spiritual adventure, viewing the Egypt exhibit, so he is ready to indulge me – I want to drive back downtown to the Union Station area and have Chinese noodles.

I grew up eating good Chinese food, in Seattle. When we were moving to Pensacola, our son sat us down and told us he had some bad news for us – there is no good Chinese restaurant in Pensacola. Nor in New Orleans. I am guessing that the deep south is not ready for the exotic tastes of real Chinese food.

But Denver is another story. We find our way downtown, and search the Union Square area, where a concierge tells us how to find it – just next door to Union Station.

Union Station Front Entrance

Union Station Interior – lots of restaurants, and a hotel, too.
Union Station tracks going to other places in the USA

ZoMama Interior
ZoMama Ordering
ZoMama Dan Noodles

ZoMama Cool Sesame Noodles

This is living! The noodles are house-made, the tastes are fresh and delicious. My noodles are cooked, but cold, perfect on a hot summer’s day. We eat outside, because although it is hot, it is so dry we can manage the heat and we like eating outdoors. AdventureMan strikes up a conversation with another vet, a security guard, making sure the homeless do not intrude on the meals of the customers.

We find our way back to the parking lot, which is really expensive, and it takes us so long to figure out how to get out that our charge goes up again.

We are off to outfit for our trip – hitting our favorite Denver Target, we pick up our car staples – water, apples, oranges, crackers, peanut butter, and AdventureMan’s specialty, two kinds of snacks, a box of thick, chewy brownie bits and another box of lemony madeleines. He chose well; having only one or two a day, they lasted right up to the last day. We also invested in insect repellent and sun screen, which we never used. Our clerk mentioned the incoming blizzard.

Blizzard? We hadn’t heard of it. We headed back to the VRBO and our hosts were busy moving pots and pots, concerned that their lushly blooming garden will take a bad hit from freezing temperatures and snow and hail, the alder branches can break from the weight of the snow, all the blooms will freeze, and who knows what will survive?

We sort, we repack, and we take a nap. We have a great conversation with our hostess and say goodbye in advance; we have decided to leave early the next morning hoping to escape the worst of the storm. That night AdventureMan indulges me for a second time – this time we go to Q’s House on Colfax, get an outside table and oh-my the menu is short but fabulous. I have the Chong Qing Chicken and AdventureMan has Duck Lo Mein. We both have way too much, no matter how delicious it is. We decide to take a chance – we have a refrigerator and tomorrow should be really cold – so we pack it up and take it with us.

Chong Qing Chicken
Duck Lo Mein

A perfect ending to an excellent first day.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Climate Change, Cultural, Food, Living Conditions, Quality of Life Issues, Restaurant, Road Trips, Shopping, Survival, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Chasing Petroglyphs: Mostly Remote

Arrival in Denver

How often in life do you get to say “Best Trip Ever!” I can think of two or three trips we have taken which qualify, even though on two of them one of us ended up sick a couple days. This trip, no one got sick, and there were no bad surprises.

You’ve seen this map before, when we were in the planning stages; nothing changed. We flew to Denver with American Airlines. Because we believe COVID is contagious, we chose to fly Business Class and to wear masks. The unpublished contagion rate in Florida hit almost 20% this week, so we are trying to eliminate as many opportunities to catch COVID as possible.

As AdventureMan says, “On a good flight, the number of landings is equal to the number of take-offs.” Our standards are low, but exacting. We had a great ride to the airport (our son) and plenty of time to get through TSA. We had two segments, plenty of time in Dallas-Fort Worth to connect for Denver, and while the food was negligible, there were no fights on board that we know of, we boarded and deplaned quickly; we have no complaints.

Denver was easy. When we got to the car rental lot, they did not have our reservation but with some work, were able to find it and gave AdventureMan his choice of cars, so he chose a sporty Nissan Rogue with ski racks on top. It’s 90 degrees F in Denver, but so dry we have to apply Vaseline to our lips every fifteen minutes or so.

LOL, notice the Florida license plates. We can run, but we can’t hide.

We chose to go VRBO in Denver; we wanted to be near to Little Diamond, who used to come visit us in Germany, in Doha and in Kuwait. We wanted to have time where we could catch up, and we wanted to have some time with her two beautiful children.

The VRBO was lovely, cool and spacious, and surrounded by a gorgeous garden that smelled good! The lilacs – so many lilacs! – were in full bloom, the iris were in full bloom, Spring was springing forth with exuberance!

We were hungry. We had landed around lunch time; by the time we rounded up the car and found the VRBO, we were really hungry, so we headed for Colfax Street, full of eating opportunities. We laughed that we would end up at YaYa’s, but it was so much fun. YaYa is Turkish, his wife is Nepalese, and his employees are Saudi Arabian, Tunisian and Yemini. It’s like a mini-UN, and they all work together and get along. The food was also delicious.

Yaya in cap

We started with the lentil soup, and shared a hummus. AdventureMan chose a felafel sandwich and I chose a lamb kebab.

Storefront
Addas
Hummos

As we finished, a man was washing the front window, so we got to walk through the kitchen, really fun for us to go behind the scenes. Yaya told us he had served both the Royals and the Cowboys that day, a very busy day, but that it was really wonderful to have customers IN the restaurant again. This was a lovely way to start our time in Denver.

We took Colfax into downtown Denver, loving the vibe. Downtown is alive, people really live there, it is full of businesses – and high cost parking. Lots of public art, a feeling of energy and optimism in Denver.

We headed back, stopped by Little Diamond’s house and took her dog for a walk, headed over to our VRBO for a little late afternoon snooze. As the VRBO was close to Little Diamond’s house, she popped by and we all went to dinner at the True Food Kitchen in nearby Cherry Creek. As usual with her, once we start talking, it never stops. We had so much catching up to do, and her life is so busy, complex and satisfying. We hated for the evening to end.

At the VRBO, I am noticing the internet works great. In fact, almost every place we stayed, the internet worked great. So great that I am forced to think I need to commit to confronting my behemoth provider in Pensacola about how often my service drops connection, even after they provided me with something they said would blow my mind with its speed and connection. I am not blown away, and using the speedy, reliable internet along this trip has brought that to my attention in a way I can’t ignore.

June 9, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, Family Issues, Food, Geography / Maps, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Public Art, Road Trips, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Born Every Minute

air COOLER

One of my neighbors on NextDoor had seen these advertised around, and it was surprisingly inexpensive. He ordered, and, very chagrined, posted when it arrived, that it is just a box with a fan in the back and a tray for water. It is, indeed, a “cooler,” not an air conditioner, and has minimal effect.

I laughed, but occasionally I have also bought things which sounded too good to be true, and truly were – not what they were hyped up to be. Glad I’m not the only one.

May 16, 2022 Posted by | Home Improvements, Humor, Marketing, Shopping | , , | Leave a comment

The Paradox of Cool

Months ago, after yet another trip out West, a friend asked me if Portland was as “hip” as its reputation. I didn’t know what to say. Yes, Portland is hip.

I’ve been thinking about “hip” and “cool” ever since.

I know what cool is to me. I’ve seen it. Cool was the Episcopal and Anglican priests I met serving overseas; Tunis, Jordan, Doha, and Kuwait – priests who lived their faiths with joy and confidence, and priests who also loved their Moslem brothers and sisters.

In my own neighborhood, cool is the two retired civil servants who love to cook, and who organize a weekly dinner for the homeless, also providing to the best of their ability for other needs; toiletries, clothing, insect repellent, water to go, toys for the homeless children. They are committed to their work, and their joy in what they do attracts others who serve with them. In their own quiet way, they have created acceptance for their same-sex marriage, just by being exactly who they are: people who care about others.

Cool was ambassadors in the foreign countries in which we served, those accused of going a little bit native, those who were open to learning other ways of thinking and valuing cultures in addition to the one they represented, those who were less concerned with dignity than with creating understanding and brotherhood between our cultures.

Cool was the Kuwaiti bloggers who initiated me into the art and craft, and who often led the way with their courageous evaluations of their own society and societal follies. I learned so much from them. And from Kuwaiti quilters, who welcomed fellow crafters from many traditions, and created space for us to learn from one another.

The paradox of cool, to me, is that it comes to those who do not seek it. The paradox of cool is that if you want to be it, you exclude yourself from it. Cool comes from within, from knowing who you are, from an inner clarity as to what your purpose of existence might be, and from a willingness to risk and to explore.

So I would like to ask – how do YOU define cool? Who do you think is cool? Help me widen my perspective.

May 12, 2022 Posted by | Adventure, Blogging, Character, Charity, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Faith, Interconnected, Quality of Life Issues, Relationships, Values | Leave a comment