Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Museum Tour in Seneca Falls

On Sunday, August 30th, I decided to attend church in Greene. I checked the signage and the answering machine message (good thing I did, since they were different) and at 9:30 I joined the congregation at the church I went to as a child growing up there.

My first marriage was performed in the chapel,
and my first two sons were baptized there. Where I live now, I attend a pocket sized version of this lovely church.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Class Reunion

In August of 2008 I attended my 50th High School class reunion in Greene, NY. Greene is a little town midway between Binghamton, and Norwich on the Chenango River. Its in the Southern Tier, which means its along the southern edge of the state where it borders Pennsylvania. Greene, when I lived there, was a village of about 1500 people the incorporated size 1 mile square.

My graduating class had a total of 66members and 33 of us started Kindergarten together. In the 50 years since our graduation, 11 members of the class have died. About half of the class still lives in Greene, or within about 30 - 40 miles of it. Most of those that stayed in the area married other Greene Central graduates. Those that left are living all over the country from the west coast to the Pacific Northwest. From Florida to Maine, and about everywhere in between.

Most of my classmates never went to college, or attended for only a short time. In spite of the fact that Greene is a farming community, very few are farming. Most of the women did not work outside the home; or if they did, it was in low skilled and often part time jobs. Ours was the last generation in which the girls were raised to become someones wife and someones mother. We were programmed to marry and stay home to take care of our home and our children. If we went to college, it was so there would be something we could fall back on if something happened to our husbands. The 'professional' jobs open to women at that time were nurse, teacher, secretary, etc. The Business courses in high school were Typing and Shorthand.

I decided to go to the reunion because I had been unable to attend any of the earlier ones. My husband chose not to come with me, so I made the trip by myself. I had no expectations going in. I was not particularly popular in school, and dated very little. Many of those still living in the area were the most popular ones when in school, so I thought I might encounter a cliqueiness left over from the past, and enhanced by the fact that they'd been friends for the past 50 years too. What I found there was a welcome that was warm and genuine. There were only a few who did not voluntarily come up to greet me. There were hugs, and real interest in who I'd turned out to be. The women were more friendly than the men, but that didn't surprise me at all.

My sister and Brother-in-law also came up. The school is small enough that the reunions are for all years. Ours was highlighted because it was our 50th, but the banquet was open to all.

When I arrived at my hotel in Binghamton, after checking in, I started to go find some dinner. When I got into my car, I found a message on my cell phone from my sister saying they were near Binghamton. I called, and they were just pulling into the Applebees which I could see from my hotel. So we had dinner together. Saturday I met one of my friends from school for lunch. The banquet was Saturday night. On Sunday morning I met my classmates fro breakfast at 8:00, then I went to church at Zion Episcopal where I had grown up. Afterwards, I met Judy & Herm for brunch. There was a picnic in the afternoon, so I was able to visit with my classmates again. I carried my camera faithfully every place I went, and never took a picture. But I bought the class pictures, so when I receive them, I'll post them here.

Monday was Labor Day. I drove north to Hamilton, NY to visit the cemetery where my parents are buried. I stopped in Norwich and bought a purple hardy mum and a trowel; and planted it on the grave. Judy has planted a number of things there over the years. There are peonies behind the stone, and goldenrod in bloom there. Lillies have been planted on the left side, and petunias and geraniums have reseeded themselves in front. I cleaned up dead leaves and debris, and poured my water bottle on the mum. It all looked very pretty when I left.

My goal for Monday night was Canastota, NY, and Graziano's Inn. Canastota is further north in the Finger Lakes Region. I drove through pretty country and little towns. Stopped at a couple of antique shops along the way. I arrived at the Inn and checked in around 4:30. At about 5:30, I called Denise, and she and her fiance came over and treated me to dinner. Nice evening. I knew Denise only through Elizabeth Stewart Clark's Sewing Academy Forum, but we had arranged to meet ahead of time. We'll be meeting a couple of othr forum members in the next couple of days.

I'll continue this another day.

The trip continued

Tuesday, May 6, Day 8
Today we drive to Yosemite. The roads up into the mountains are curvy and narrow. No guardrails, and lots of blind curves. I pretty much white knuckled all the way up! Fortunately Vince was driving, not Jeff! We found a lodge just before the entrance to the park in a beautiful setting. Nice place with a restaurant next door. The room was $125 a night! Well appointed, and very clean with 2 queen beds, so we all shared a room. We’d had a substantial late lunch, so we skipped dinner and simply snacked on nuts and things.

Wednesday, May 7 Day 9
After a nice breakfast we headed on into Yosemite at Touolomne on the west side of the park. We purchased a $10 Sr. Citizen’s Pass which is good at any Federal Park for the rest of our lives, and it’s good for the whole car, so we are good for Olympic and Glacier in WA too.

We met some people who recommended that we go to Glacier Point, so we planned that into the day. Several of the roads inside the park were still closed for the winter. As we drove through, we often saw snow banks along the road. Some were higher than the top of the car, and we could see how much the snow had melted away from the road because there were small branches sticking out of the snow banks which had been broken off by the plows. We stopped along the way for lunch. Jeff had brought along some Pumalos (sweet white grapefruit) and Mandarin oranges from his trees, so we ate citrus fruit and cheese & cracker for lunch with nuts for dessert.

Bridal Veil Falls is one of the places we stopped. The falls are beautiful, and you can feel the fine mist even all the way down on the road. From the parking area we could see Half Dome rising up several thousand feet. There’s a path through the woods to the foot of the falls; so we walked up. I took lots of pictures and some video with my new camera as I went. The stream below the falls spreads out around rocks and trees; in short, around anything in its way. At the bottom of the falls the spray was very much like rain, and the temperature must have been 10 degrees cooler than down on the road.

Then we drove up to Glacier Point. At the top it is 7200 feet up, and the road is narrow and winding with spectacular views. At the summit, there are various viewing points. Again I took lots of pictures, and some video. Across the valley were two waterfalls, one above the other. Jeff thought that one was Bridal Veil, but we discovered that the upper falls were the Nevada Falls, and the lower, the California Falls. From the peak we also could look across and see Half Dome in front of us.

We stayed up at Glacier Point for about an hour; simply enjoying the incredible view; but we did eventually have to leave. After driving back down the road, we exited the park at Wawona on the south end, and headed back towards Sacramento. Arrived at our motel at about midnight.

Thursday, May 8 Day 10
Downtown to Old Sacramento and the CA Railway Museum. This is a museum that we visited 3 years ago when we first came out; so it was very familiar, but interesting none the less. Afterwards we walked down to the Delta King. It is the sister ship to the Delta Queen which is part of the fleet owned by the Delta Queen Steamboat Co. They own the Mississippi Queen that we took our Cruise on in ’03. The King is moored, and used as a hotel and banquet Hall.

We stopped for lunch in one of the numerous restaurants in Old Sac. We had Pizza in a franchise place, owned by Indians. Seemed odd to me. After lunch we wandered around some more, and left town before rush hour and went back to Jeff’s for the evening.

Friday, May 9, Day 11
Today we left to go to Benicia, CA, which is in the South Bay area. Kay had been there in February at a Civil War Conference where she’d been invited to speak, and was told of a store downtown with vintage ribbons & trims, so I had to go check it out. We traveled on I5 south and a bit west to get there. It’s one of the several sites that were used as the California State Capitol. After picking up a city map at the Chamber of Commerce office, we walked our the door, and I turned my ankle on the edge of a brick in the sidewalk, and landed on my knee. Got a little road rash on my knee, and the ankle was sore and swelled up. Nevertheless, we toured the old Capital building, which ended up being used as the county seat after the State Capital moved on. Lovely old two-storey building built with hand made brick.

We wandered about after that; checking out the various antique shops, had lunch and coffee at one of the four Starbuck’s in this little town; and finally found the shop I was looking for. She did have some lovely ribbons, fringes and trims, so I spent a fair amount of money there. I also found some nice lace and buttons at a different shop.

I’d made arrangements with another Evergreen club member (Jennifer & Alan Deal) for accommodations, and when we arrived, our hostess offered us tea. A proper English tea, with hot milk and a choice of shortbread, fruitcake, and little bite sized brownies. Jenny is English. They recommended a couple of restaurants downtown for dinner, s we found the 1st St. Café, and ate a light dinner. Breakfast was cereal first, then 1 egg, and 1 pc. of toast. She served Lemon Curd and home made orange Marmalade for the toast. Yum!

Saturday, May 10 Day 12
From Benicia, we headed back north a bit, and then east to the Western Railway Museum. We got there before the museum opened, but some of the volunteers arrived about the same time we did. One of them noticed Vince’s IRM volunteer hat, and invited us to come inside the visitor’s center to wait, and locked the door behind us so no one else could get in early. Shortly before the official opening, we were given 2 Guest passes. We took both of the rides offered, and then had some lunch. More of Jeff’s citrus. After lunch, I went back to the car to work on my Journal while Vince got an insider tour of the shops. I had twisted my ankle the day before in Benicia, so I wanted to rest it as much as possible.

From the museum, we continued east and then took local highway113 straight north to pick up I5 again and back to Jeff’s for dinner and the evening.

Sunday, May 11 – Mother’s Day Day 13
Jeff made brunch for Jamie & Jonathan, Tia, and us; and we spent much of the day just talking and enjoying each other’s company and playing with Zoey until she got cranky. More baby pictures. ;-) The kids left to take Zoey home for her nap., and Jeff got some plants into pots for us to take to Kurt & Boe since we’ll leave tomorrow.

Around 2:00, we and Jeff left to meet my cousin Jill, her husband Jack & Chaz, their 12 yr old, at Joe’s Crab Shack in Old Sac. Our wait was nearly 2 hours, so we had plenty of time to visit before dinner.

Monday, May 12, day 14
We’re leaving Jeff’s today. We packed up, checked out of the motel and went over to Jeff’s for breakfast. After saying our goodbyes, we left there about 10:00 or so heading north toward Ft. Bragg. It was an uneventful drive through the country and out towards the coast. We arrived in Ft. Bragg early enough so we had time to walk around town for a while. Before finding a place to eat dinner. After looking over the literature for the Skunk Train, I decided that I needed to make reservations for the train ride. Of course, by the time I realized that, it was 5 minutes too late to call, so I would need to do it in the morning.

Tuesday, May 13, day 15
The motel we stayed in came with a breakfast after all, so we ate at their restaurant. They had a nice selection of real breakfast food (no plastic muffins, or Froot Loops). Back at our room, I called to make reservations as soon as the office opened. No problem being this early in their season.

The train ride was very nice. It’s about a 3 ½ - 4 hour round trip through redwood forests and so the scenery was great. The conductor pointed out various things, and was willing to answer questions; so it was an interesting ride. That’s where I found out the name of the bushes with the bright yellow flowers. They are Gorse; also called Irish broom or Scotch broom.

After the train ride, we continued to drive north on rte 101 along the coast of California. The road was winding and 2 lane, and the scenery was lovely. We stopped at one of the beaches and walked out onto the sand. Vince picked up rocks and I took several pictures.

I called Tia’s nephew Nathan to verify arrival time, and stopped to have dinner before we went to his house. He’s another Mac person, so he hooked me into his internet router so I could check emails, etc. He’s a student at a local college, and is living in the house his parents bought as a retirement home. They live down in the central valley fairly near Jeff & Tia, but plan to move up there after they retire. It’s a nice ranch on a hillside that has a pretty back yard that backs up to a park of some sort; so it can’t be developed. Nathan suggested we stop at a local landmark in town before we left. There is a Victorian house there that is supposedly the most photographed house in the country. It’s a gorgeous one, and the original owner had a pretty, smaller house built across the street for his son when he married.

Wednesday, May 14, day 16
We ate a couple of our bagels for breakfast there, and packed up to move on. Forgot the bagels, and our icepack in Nathan’s freezer. Oh Well… we’ll buy another when we shop for lunch stuff.

We headed towards Portland. I wanted to get close enough so I can get to the stores basically when they open for fabric shopping, so we drove nearly all of the way there.

Thursday May 15, day 17
We’ll arrive at Kurt’s today; but first I have to shop at the Pendleton outlet. We finally found it (in spite of Yahoo Maps!). I was a bit disappointed in the prices. Nothing was particularly cheap there. I did find a good quantity of nice wide twill tapes in various colors for 35 & 45 cents a yard in the bargain room, and finally got to the annex and found wool remnants at $7.50/ yard. I did buy some nice wools; one of which is large enough for an adult dress in a lovely mauve color. The others will make children’s clothing. I also bought a length of lavender silk for a parasol that I’ve procrastinated over for 18 months or so.

When we arrived at Kurt’s we found that we’d be sleeping upstairs. Steep narrow stairs, and an upstairs bathroom is somewhere in the future. They went out and bought a nice Arts & Crafts double bed, and a wonderful box spring & mattress for up there. It’s screened from their ‘theater’ room by the big screen TV.

Friday May 16, day 18
Kind of hung around doing nothing most of the day. I did some laundry in the morning and hung the jeans out on the line to dry. It was pretty hot – in the 80’s. Boe had to work so Kurt took us to some local antique shops.

Saturday May 17, day 19
Today is the day I’ll do my “presentation” at Fort Nisqually We left the house in plenty of time to make it up to the park. Fortunate, since we missed the entrance to Nisqually and had to drive around again. Barbara Smith met us and walked us into the park and to the place where I’d be for the talk.

It was fun to meet her, and some of the other volunteers there that I ‘chat’ with on the ESC Forum. In a way it was like being back home at the first event of the season and seeing all of our friends whom we have not seen all winter. It’s a nice site, and we spent most of the day there in spite of the fact that it was in the upper 80’s.

Kurt is a great cook. He prefers cooking on the grill (as does Jeff), so many of our dinners are cooked outside.

Sunday, May 18, day 20
Heading for Olympic Nat’l Park. Today we will stay at the Indian Motel and eat at Gramma’s. The closest town was Port Angeles. Kurt & Boe have stayed here before; and warned us that the beds weren’t too good. Soft mattresses! We’ll explore Hurricane Ridge today. There’s about a 16 mile drive up to the top, and a nice .8 of a mile trail to a lovely waterfall through the cedar woods. Kurt and I took lots of pictures of mosses, forest flowers and other interesting flora, plus a bug or two.

Monday, May 19 day 21
Headed for the Hoh Rain Forest. It rained. The day was cold (40’s) and very gloomy, but we laughed and joked while in the car. Kurt, Boe & Vince took a short tail up into the rainforest, but I stayed behind. It was not the kind of weather I enjoy walking around in.

After they came back, we drove into town to pick up the rest of the foods we’d need for the two dinners and breakfasts we’ll spend at the cabin in the Hoh. The cabin was difficult to find. The directions were that it was two miles and 447 ft from an intersection. We drove down the road 4 times; and back, trying to find the driveway; but there was no driveway at or near that mile spot. We even stopped at another cabin rental place to ask, and he had no idea where it might be. Boe finally called her, and she told us the address was 2447 Mora rd. 2447 turned out to be 3 miles and 447 ft down the road! We finally got there, and the cabin was gorgeous.

It was a log cabin with a large open great room and kitchen/dining area. One bedroom and full bath downstairs. Upstairs was a loft with a half bath and a queen and 1 twin beds.

The cabin had a wood burning stove in the great room, and a full modern kitchen with dishwasher. A lovely warm and comfortable place. We spent the evening comfortably sitting around the fire, reading and talking. The beds were quite comfortable and we all slept very well.

Tuesday, May 20 day 22
Our second day in the Hoh. Still raining. We kind of wandered around some, but since the weather was so miserable, we went back to the cabin early and enjoyed the warmth. It was great fun to hang out with Kurt & Boe. We laughed and laughed!

Wednesday, May 21 day 23
Drove around the west end of Olympic, in the rain to get back to Tacoma.

Thursday, May 22, day 24
We took in the Tacoma History Museum today. Got downtown in time for lunch, and spent the rest of the afternoon at the museum. There was an exhibit on the railroads going west, and a very nice display on the indigenous Indian tribes.

Friday, May 23 day 25
A lazy day. Our last in Tacoma with Kurt & Boe. We decided to spend the afternoon antiquing in Puyallup (Kurt & Boet call it pileup ;-)). We didn’t find anything to buy except another waffle iron. This one is probably older than the one we bought before. We had smoothies at a little local coffee shop, and went back to the house. I did up our laundry so we’d have enough clean clothes to get home.

Barbara Smith came by so I could give her copies of the parasols, kids, clothes and fashion print PPT’s to share with her volunteers at Nisqually. Then Kurt left to play D&D with his friends in Seattle. We and Boe went to Herman’s diner for dinner, and sat around and talked for the rest of the evening

Saturday, May 24 day 26
It probably was not a very good idea to head for a National Park on Memorial Day weekend; but I called Yosemite and found that there was room at the Old Faithful Inn on Sunday night, so we will be ok. Leaving Seattle area we were in quite a lot of traffic; but it seems that most of that was going into the mountains just east of Seattle, not further east; so once we were out of the mountains, the traffic died off drastically. We left Kurt’s at about 9:00, and by noon we were in the high desert east of the mountains. The drive from Seattle through the mountains was beautiful! I90 is the only interstate designated as a scenic route; and it certainly is that.

The high desert looks a lot like Nebraska! But as we work our way east, the land flattens out, and where it’s irrigated, it could be IL or IN out there. Flat with green fields. No trees, however. Nearing Spokane there is more traffic again, and we begin to see farms and beef cattle grazing. Without irrigation, this area is too dry to support much else.

We’ll stopped near Spokane at a store to buy lunch food for today and tomorrow.

Our lunch spot turned out to be a small city park called Treaty Rock Park. Nice short walk around the rock where a treaty was signed between the Indians and a man named Post for 200 acres of land on which to build a mill.

May 25, day 27
We stopped last night at Missoula, MT. The trip to Yellowstone will be about 300 miles. We opted for a less scenic route south from I90 to Yellowstone. But it was definitely quite scenic anyway; without huge elevation changes and winding roads. The road (US 287) runs through wide valleys with ranches and small towns. Mountains surround the valleys, and rivers full of snow melt race through the narrow places.

Occasionally we would enter a narrow canyon or climb to a higher elevation to get to the next valley.

About noon we reached the West gate of Yellowstone. The drive down south from West Gate was about 16 miles at 45mph. Along the way we saw Roosevelt Elk, and Buffalo along the river. Lots of people were fishing in the Madison and Gibbon Rivers, and the various creeks along the way. We stopped at Lower Geyser Basin and took a bunch of pictures, and saw buffalo there as well. Then as we were driving toward Old Faithful Inn, we saw a half dozen adult buffalo and three calves walking down the road. Sometimes walking in the middle of the road. The cars in front of us all stopped, so it took forever until we got close enough to actually take pictures; but I hung out of the car window and got some video of them walking in the road.

Once we arrived at Old Faithful Inn, we were able to check into our room. Afterwards we walked up to the geyser, but it was not due to go off for another 30 – 40 minutes, so we went on to Snow lodge to the gift shop there. I bought postcards for the kids.

Then we walked back down to Old Faithful. It erupts about every 80 minutes, so we sat on a bench and waited. And waited… and waited. The sun had disappeared behind the clouds, and the breeze had picked up and it was 47 degrees with a wind chill! My hands were freezing. Then, of course, my camera decided the battery was not strong enough to take video and kept shutting itself off! We did see it erupt, and I did get some shots, but I need to charge it up before I do any more.

The geothermal fields here are the most interesting scenery I think I’ve ever seen. Very other-worldly.

We had to make reservations for dinner at the lodge, and all that was available was 5:00 or 8:45, so, since we’d eaten lunch at 2:30, we took the later time. We walked around looking at other geysers and hot springs, and then went back to our room at about 5:30 to rest a bit. We’ll go back up to Snow Lodge and get a T shirt for Vince, and see Old Faithful go off again before dinner. It’s been spitting rain this afternoon.

Left the room again around 7:15 to go up to the gift shop. Vince found his T shirt and I got a coffee mug. Took the excess stuff out to the car so we’d only have 1 trip in the morning, and went in for dinner. I had a lovely fresh Idaho trout. Yum! After dinner, I downloaded the pics from my camera to the laptop. I wanted to make sure that the camera was fully charged for tomorrow

Monday, May 26, 2008 Memorial Day; day 28.
Woke up to sunshine! We drove back north past the west gate to Norris; Canyon, and across to Fishing Bridge and the east gate. At Canyon we took a scenic drive up to the canyon. It is called the Grand Canyon of the north; and there are two Falls in the Yosemite river there. We got to see both of them and take pictures before going on to the East Gate.

The road became a rollercoaster ride down along a mountain or three, following the Yosemite River. We dropped in elevation from 8900+ feet to 695 feet! There was rain and snow falling all of the way down the mountains; and temps hovered around 36.

We then headed east across the north end of Yosemite Lake. In some areas along the shore, the ice on the lake has melted where the warm runoff from the geysers and hot springs come into the lake. Otherwise the lake is still covered with ice. There is still a lot of snow on the ground in some places.

There is a visitor’s center and museum at east Gate, so we stopped there for a while, and
(Just a note here about gas mileage. My HHR is rated at 26-30mpg. On the trip so far, the lowest we’ve had was something over 28mph, and the highest is 31.3! Not bad!)

We stopped in a little town called Cody (as in Buffalo Bill Cody) and had lunch at a little local place. It had been raining steadily, and temps in the upper 30’s. Soup sounded like a good idea! After lunch as we continued east, the sun came out and the temp climbed to the low 50’s.

However, the sun was a tease. Pretty soon it began to rain hard, and we drove in steady rain for the rest of the day. We stopped for the night in Sturgis SD. The only restaurants open were bars, but we had a nice meal anyway. We got the last room at the motel. 4 middleaged, cleancut guys on Harley’s had pulled in just ahead of us, and they all looked pretty much like drowned rats. They were probably there to see the Motorcycle museum. Sturgis is sort of a Mecca for bikers.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008 Day 29
It’s still raining, and is supposed to continue all day. Today we’ll drive as far as possible, as we need to be home tomorrow. I called Candi (house sitter) and left a message that we’d arrive home on Wednesday so we’d feed the cats that night. She’ll stop over Thursday after work and I’ll write her a check for the balance we owe her.

We stopped at Wall Drug in Wall, WY. I guess it’s one of those places where one must stop. It’s a huge tourist trap! We had a piece of pie and a cup of 5 cent coffee – which was about all it was worth. Brown water. Walked around a little. Vince bought a small Mt. Rushmore model to put on the layout at the club, and a Wall Drug thimble.

Back on the road again. Again we stopped for a hot lunch because the weather was lousy. It never got above 45 degrees. We made it into Minnesota by about 70 miles before stopping for the night in Fairmount

Wednesday, May 28, day 30
On the last leg home. The weather had cleared over night, so we’ll get a nice day – finally! We’ve barely seen the sun in the past 10 days. I’m much more cheerful today. It’s amazing what a little sunshine can do!

We stopped for lunch at a rest area just barely west of Madison and got back on the highway. We should be home by 3:00 or so.

HOME! As much as we enjoyed this trip; it is so nice to come home to our own ‘place’. I look forward to sleeping in my own bed for the first time in a month.

It has been a wonderful trip – one that holds memories that will be part of my life forever. Seeing my sons in their environment. Holding my great Granddaughter, watching her attempts to crawl and pull herself up to stand, and getting to know Jamie better. Spending good quiet time with my loved ones, and spending a lot of time with my husband; some of it quiet while driving, but also time when we talked about our children and grandchildren, our plans and hopes, and things we’ll do when we get home.

Often in the rush and schedules of our day-to-day lives, we end up not spending time when there are no interruptions, no outside influences; just two people who really like each other (and love each other) in a car together.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

...and more

We found Virginia City with no problems. The road up to the town has 63 or 64 (the number is debated) hairpin turns on the way up and around the mountain. It’s a 2 lane road with no guardrails and no shoulder; and I have issues with edges, so at least part of the drive up I tried very hard to concentrate on the double yellow line in the middle of the road. The scenery was spectacular. I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

We found our way to the V&T depot so we know where to go tomorrow, and then spent some time wandering around Virginia City itself. The whole town is one of those ‘tourist trap’ communities, where the whole main street is made up of shops selling T shirts & collectibles, so we didn’t stay terribly long.

Driving back down was a little less hair raising then the trip up. Not that the road was less curvy, just that there were fewer of them. Again, no guard rails. I think that the floor on the passenger side will have permanent footprints in the floor from my attempts to apply the brakes.

We found the home of our hosts, Michael and Jacki in Carson City, and visited with them for a while. They gave us some choices for food, so we picked a pizza place for dinner. The room we’ll sleep in is about a 9X12 with a double sized futon for a bed. But since it only costs $15 and includes breakfast, it’ll do fine.

Tomorrow morning after breakfast, we plan to go to the Nevada State Railroad museum. It houses the cars of the V&T railroad that are not used for the excursions. There is also a trolley that runs excursions, so we’ll find out the schedule, and may ride it also. The V&T is only running one trip tomorrow. Their regular schedule does not start until Memorial Day WE, but a phone call verified that they’d be operating this Saturday, so we slowed down a bit to take advantage of the operating day.

Saturday May 3, Day 5

For breakfast, Michael made French Toast and bacon. After leaving their home we went to the museum and rode their trolley. It only runs around their museum property, so by the third circuit, it was pretty boring. Then drove up to the V&T in time to wander around a bit, before the train came out. The ride was nice, the scenery lovely, but the track noise was so loud we could barely here the narrator as he pointed out the sites along the way. I took quite a few pictures.

After the V&T ride, we drove back down the mountain and followed rte 50 down the east side of Lake Tahoe. We found a State Park, (not yet open for the season) and parked along the road – with lots of others with the same idea – and walked in to the picnic area to eat our lunch.

When we got to the CA border, we had to stop for an agriculture inspection. I declared the Gala apples purchased at a grocery store, and the orange picked up at a motel a couple of days before. The warden apologetically took my orange because it had no sticker on it, and let us keep the apples, which did. I now have an official State of CA agricultural confiscation certificate for the orange.

After that we drove the 100 or so miles to Carmichael, and arrived at Jeff and Tia’s at about 4:30 in the afternoon. Jamie and Zoey were there, so we got to meet the baby right away. She scoots herself around, and pulls herself up in the stairs now. Her legs are still pretty wobbly, but she’s pretty determined. She can get up the two stairs from the living room to the kitchen level.

Jeff made dinner, and we sat around and talked until nearly midnight before he guided us to our hotel.

Sunday May 4, Day 6

Tia wanted to take us to Old Fair Oaks to a festival there, so we went there about 11:30 or so. We walked through the antique car exhibits, and then walked about a half mile downhill to the river. The weather has been phenomenally good, so walking was nice! Walking back up the hill, however, was not quite as easy, and it had gotten warmer! Back at the top, Jeff & Vince went to get us something to drink, and Tia and I waited in the shade. When they got back, as we were talking, suddenly Jeff walked over to a young woman, and hugged her. It was my cousin Nan’s daughter Denise. I have not seen her since Jeff was 5 and Karl 3. She was 1 ½ at the time. So we chatted a bit, and then she and her boyfriend and his dad (with his antique car) had to leave.

Back to Jeff’s for dinner, and on to the motel.

Monday May 5, Day 7

Today we went to Sacramento with Jeff to visit Sutter’s Fort. Unfortunately the volunteers that I ‘know’ thru the Sewing Academy were not there as they only can work on weekends; but we had a really nice time. The fort is a State Historic location, so Park Rangers and paid employees are there. We chatted with several of them, and thoroughly enjoyed the day. I took pictures of a couple of period rope beds so Vince can attempt to make more historically correct head and foot boards.Sutters Fort rope bed

Sutters Fort rope bedAfter leaving the fort, we had lunch downtown, and then back to the house. Tomorrow we leave for Yosemite. It’ll give Tia a break.

Friday, July 18, 2008

May 2 Day 4
We both slept really well last night. Interesting motel. Probably built in the ‘60’s. No cups, no clock and a real key for the door. Also, no breakfast. But it was cheap, the other option was $79/night – and no breakfast. We ate at the Cowpoke Café.

After crossing another desert area – this time probably Alkali. We’re back into mountains. These are lower, rounded and no snow, and we’re very close to Reno here. We plan to go on down to Virginia City so we know how to find it tomorrow. There will be one excursion trip at about noon. Then I hope to go on up to Lake Tahoe and check out some of the sights there. We’ll be staying in Carson City at the home of an Evergreen Club member. They have a dog named Henry. ;-)

A note of explanation

I mentioned that we would stay with an Evergreen Club member, and I think I need to explain what that is. The Evergreen Club is a travel club open to people 50 and over. The requirements to join are that you have a space for a guest to sleep, are willing to feed them breakfast in the morning, and enjoy meeting new people. There is a worldwide network of members, though most of them are in the US. When you stay at the home of a member, the nights sleep and breakfast cost $15 for a couple.

I had planned to use the club fairly often as we crossed the country, but in fact only did so twice. There were very few nights for which I could predict arrival date and time, and one must give advance notice of your wish to stay.

...and more trip

April 30 Day 2

The eastern half of Nebraska is very much like IL & IA,. Green with rolling hills and farms. But as we moved west, the state becomes flatter, and more barren. As the elevation begins to get higher, the vegetation thins out and becomes scrubby. The trees are mostly evergreens. We followed the Platte River for miles. Along the river on both sides of the highway, were small manmade ponds of various sizes. I wondered if they were from strip mining or quarrying (sand and gravel are plentiful out here) Vince thought they might have been the result of building the highway. Lots of people fishing in them.

It was another beautiful day, and the temp got up into the high 70’s. Nebraska is an extremely long state. It seemed we’d never get to the end of it. As the elevation rose, we drove through the high plains. We saw thousands of head of black angus, many of which were in feed lots getting fattened up for market.

Just west of North Platte, NE, we entered the Mountain Time Zone. No mountains in sight yet though.

Along the way we saw a huge wind farm with perhaps a hundred wind turbines. Many of the exits off of the highway were simply to unpaved roads. The ramps were paved, and once at road level, the paving ended, and the road often went off into nowhere.

Finally out of Nebraska and into Wyoming. We keep going up into the high desert. Here there are no trees at all. Sandy soil and scrub. The cattle are free ranging. No neat pens, and not much in the way of civilization is visible. I saw a herd of pronghorn antelope which spread out over a couple of miles. Jeff said it may have been more than one herd, since I probably saw more that a hundred and they don’t usually travel in herds that large. The weather forecast is for rain & snow tonight and tomorrow, so we will push on west. Had planned to stop in Laramie; but it was too early to stop, and in view of the forecast, we opted to push on to Rock Springs, another 188 miles. We drove through a little rain a snow showers going across the high plains, but not enough to slow us down. So we were pretty tired by the time we got there.

May 1,Day 3 We woke up with our internal clocks still on Central time in Rock Springs, WY and we were on the road by 8:15 MT heading toward SLC, UT.

We are traveling through the high desert. It’s pretty barren lots of scrub, but no trees. The soil seems to be very sandy, and about all that can live out here are grazing animals and their predators. This is Wyoming cattle country.

An hour into the drive _ Ft. Bridger – we see lots of snow capped peaks to the south and west of us. The hills around us are layers of limestone topped with sandstone. All badly eroded into interesting shapes.

Near Ft Bridger is a large Wind Farm. A long line of wind turbines high on a ridge, positioned to add electric power into the grid.

We are also suddenly back below the tree line. Scrubby dwarf evergreens dot the hillsides, and a few deciduous trees show up too. We also ran into some snow west of Ft. Bridger.

We have encountered mostly truck traffic all on the way since leaving Omaha. It’s not really tourist season yet, so not many 4 wheelers along this route. We’ve also seen many signs along the highway saying that if the lights on the sign are flashing, that traffic should get off the highway at the next exit. I don’t think I’d want to get caught out here if the highway was closed due to snow. There is NOTHING out here! Not even many rest areas.

Suddenly, we crest a ridge and begin the descent into Salt Lake City. The road has between 3% and 6% grades and S curves all the way down speed limits 75mph. A few white knuckle curves, and we’re down.

The weather today has been cold, and trying very hard to rain and/or snow and visibility is poor, so we decided not to go to Salt Lake Park, but kept on driving. As we drove west along the south end of the Great Salt Lake, we were able to find a parking area where we could stop and take pictures of the lake. Later this afternoon we also found a rest area where we could walk out onto the Great Salt Lake desert. It was incredible to actually find myself walking on rock hard salt! The desert is white, and is made up of mostly salt with a little sand mixed in. The only place that anything grows is where the DOT brought in dirt for the rest area, and for the roadbed. And even there the vegetation is scrubby and brown.

After passing the desert, we again drove up into higher elevations and then we spent most of the rest of the day above the tree line. Utah is a very narrow state, E/W so shortly we entered Nevada. Throughout NE, WY, UT and now in NV, towns are very sparse, so we’ve had to be a bit careful about planning our gas and motel stops. We did stop at a small town in NV to shop for lunch food so we could avoid having to stop and buy a meal. Our cooler lunches have been a good idea. They keep us moving, and mean we only buy one meal a day in restaurants.

Tonight we made it to Lovelock, NV and found a mom & pop motel to stay in. I’ve called ahead to Carson City to arrange a room with an Evergreen club member, so tomorrow night will cost us $15, and include breakfast. From here to there is about 115 miles, and we will be able to ride on the Virginia & Truckee RR in Saturday noon. Then it’s only about 100 miles to Jeff’s.

Jeff has called us on Tuesday and Wednesday nights; and Kurt called tonight. They are both anxious to know when we will arrive.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

West Coast trip Journal

April 29 Day 1
Left home about 8:15 a.m heading west on I88 towards the Mississippi River. Picked up I80 on the IL side of the river, and kept going. There’s not much to see through here that we’ve not been past before. But once we got west of Des Moines, we were in new territory. We’ve never driven this part of I80 before. The scenery, though, was no different that what we see at home. We did see two communities in IA that each had 1 wind turbine. What a good way to save money for the community’s electric power needs!

We had packed a small cooler with cheese and fruit, and brought along nuts, granola bars and other munchies so we could eat lunches along the way figuring on saving money.

We stopped in Omaha to see the UP display that overlooks the city and the MS River bridges. The weather was lovely, and getting out to walk was a treat. Got pictures of the “Big Boy” steam engine there.

The eastern half of Nebraska is very much like IL & IA,. Green with rolling hills and farms. But as we moved west, the state becomes flatter, and more barren. As the elevation begins to get higher, the vegetation thins out and becomes scrubby. The trees are mostly evergreens. We followed the Platte River for miles. Along the river on both sides of the highway, were small manmade ponds of various sizes. I wondered if they were from strip mining or quarrying (sand and gravel are plentiful out here) Vince thought they might have been the result of building the highway. Lots of people fishing in them.

It was another beautiful day, and the temp got up into the high 70’s. Nebraska is an extremely long state. It seemed we’d never get to the end of it. As the elevation rose, we drove through the high plains. We saw thousands of head of black angus, many of which were in feed lots getting fattened up for market.

Just west of North Platte, NE, we entered the Mountain Time Zone. No mountains in sight yet though.

The Beginning - July, 16, 2008

My first post, ever... anywhere! My son said I should blog my travels and so I decided it was a good idea.

In May of this year, my husband and I traveled from our home in IL to visit my sons. Jeff lives in Carmichael, CA, and Kurt lives in Tacoma,WA; so we chose to take a month-long drive to see them and some of the more interesting sites along the way.

My husband is a true train nut; so some of our stops had to include rail museums, and rides. But both of us are interested in history - and specifically the time surrounding the American Civil War. We are reenactors, and I am a self employed seamstress making reproduction clothing for women and children; so you will find, as I go along, stuff that has to do with that era in history.

But let's start with The Trip! While on the road, I journaled on my laptop, so I have tons of words I can simply drop into this space. I also have all of the photos (including some video) that I took, plus everything my son Jeff took while we were together.
One of the main reasons for taking the trip this particular spring, was that Jeff's stepdaughter, Jamie, had a baby last fall, and I figured that at 7 months, she'd be fun! And she is!

We spent 8 days with Jeff & Tia, and 8 with Kurt & Boe. I will post the trip Journal and a picture of Zoey when I start up the Laptop.