Saturday, January 31, 2009

Boating Soon



The reality is our van and boat are down at the bottom of the driveway in snowy and cold upstate NY, waiting to go.

But, as you can see, we are ready to navigate the waters.

Depending on the weather, leaving for FL next weekend.
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

HOME and Baby, it's cold outside!

Well, what did we expect? As all you northeasterners know...that thermometer hovers around the single digits.

We arrived home on Saturday night. Our house cozy, clean, uncluttered, inviting (thanks, R) and BIG -- compared to living in a 21-foot van for most of our trip.
Sometimes I seem to be wandering from room-to-room.

I digress but -- we did stay a number of nights with friends and family in their lovely spacious houses...and this past Friday night was the only night we stayed in a motel. The vehicle had already been winterized because of the low temps -- and a motel provided more heat and hot showers.

We are really fine -- except for those who might question our mental health for returning at this time of year.
Although our decision seemed abrupt -- and it was spontaneous, like most of our traveling decisions this trip -- it was planned in the larger scheme of things.

We never had a specific date planned to return but we knew that after 6 - 7 months we planned to return home, stay a week or two, and then tow our boat to FL for the next part of the trip...boating in FL and up the ICW (Intracoastal Waterway).
And we have been on the road for over 7 months! Our departure date was way back on June 16.

There seems to be a weather window today for Alan and a friend to try to pull the boat out of its temporary garage before we get more snow.

Be in touch...we'll be here. Either here on the blog, via email (use regular format: BHpurple -- at -- aol -- dot -- com), or if you call the home/Afton office number, you'll get our cell number to reach us.

I'll be spending alot of time indoors -- unpacking and repacking, reading, stretching out while we have the space, visiting with friends, and sitting by the wood fire.

Hugs to all.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Driving Along...on Friday -Revised

Travelin along, singing a song, side-by-side....on the Music Highway between Memphis and Nashville.

At least we are listening to our IPOD and radio as we wend eastwards.
Billboards proclaiming Jesus' Love across ones advertising Adult Bookstores.
I wonder what we missed, having passed the signs for: Mousetail Landing State Park, the town of Bucksnort, and Miss Marble's Tea Room Antiques.

As I was driving a shift, I thought....hmmm, about this time yesterday I was getting a massage, and now I am part of the trucker traffic on I40. After 11 am with over 1100 miles to go.

The landscape is more similar now to home...barren deciduous trees and evergreens and clouds in the sky. Even when it has been cold during the last couple of weeks, the sky was clear blue with bright sun. Today it morphed to "partly sunny" then "cloudy" and now grey, lifeless drained grey --- guess I'll have to tolerate it for awhile.
The van is winterized and I hope we are too! Retrieved our boots and down jackets from storage. ETA -- probably sunday afternoon.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggety-jog?


Although it's not the moon over's sundown driving towards (yet bypassing) Graceland
and wending our way east.

We know, the weather isn't great and some friends will be away...but ending this part of our journey feels right. Close to our estimate although we had never decided on an end date, we have been on the road over seven months now. In a few days, we'll be home. Planning to spend a couple of weeks and then tow our boat down to FL. for the next part of the "Dream Year."

Maybe we'll see you soon...

Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas


Yes, the photos in the entry below and these chronicle the bathhouse experience preserved in the traditional way in Hot Springs National Park. A number of rich mineral springs provide the town with 143 degree water which is then cooled for soothing and healing modalities -- bathing and drinking.

An interesting history -- with questions about whether it is the smallest National Park (probably) and if it is the oldest of the parks (maybe -- it was one of the first federally protected lands but its official designation changed years later when it became the 14th National Park.) Along bathhouse row, there are a couple of traditional bathhouses -- like the one pictured -- on contract with the park service to provide services. On the other side of the street are shops and restaurants and more contemporary spas.

I "took to the waters" and had the traditional bath treatment -- soaking in a whirlpool bath, a sitz bath, a steam, hot packs, followed by a "needle-shower" (the weird piped shower in photo) and a massage. All for the sake of research...what a hard life!!
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A National Park??




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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Big Bend - Lost Mine Trail


Big Bend is one of the largest yet least visited of the National Parks. Over 800,000 acres. Going there for a day seems like visiting a european city on a city-a-day tour. But that's what we did. Arrived one night and took a short walk from the campground. And then took two different trails the next day -- the Hot Springs Trail (described/pictured the last entry) and the Lost Mine Trail. Two and a half miles each way, steep but gradual (elevation gain of 1100 feet), with some uneven path and stone steps. Rewarded with wonderful views and the feel of a summer day.
Got the shot of the roadrunner on the trail; also saw javelina while driving around the park.
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Big Bend -- Hot Springs


The drive in and out was on a narrow, winding road. The sign in the parking lot (about frequent thefts) was not inviting. But during the day, this sunny site of an abandoned hotel/spa, is wonderful. The group of men soaking with Alan included a guy from Montreal, one from Minnesota, another from Alaska.
And this was all on the bank of the Rio Grande. Just across, wading distance, is Mexico.

The story is that a mexican had a snack shack for years on the mexican side...and that he drove there on his mule eight miles each way, each day. But since the big floods that washed through Big Bend this past September, when the Rio rose more than five feet above flood level, and his shack floated off, he hasn't been seen. Yet there is a little set-up of goods on the american side...honor system; a necklace, some rocks, walking sticks, and scorpions crafted from red wire and beads along with a money jar. No one has spied the shack man but the items are replenished and the handprinted sign with pricing renewed.
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

This Is Texas




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Quick Hello from Texas

Inaguration day...and I am just going over to the campground cafe to watch all on the TV there.

Very spotty internet and less cell (and none for a few days before), if you haven't heard from us, that's why.

Spent a couple of great days in Big Bend National Park (one of the largest and least visited) -- I'll write more about it and post photos soon.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Carlsbad Caverns, NM

Another National Park -- with wonderful large caves. Spent a couple of days exploring...a few different ways.
The first day we went on a guided hike to the deepest part of the cave open to the public (King's Palace)-- with incredible formations. We took an elevator down 750 feet to begin the walk. Followed by a one-mile stroll around the perimeter of the largest room in the caverns.

This morning we took a more advanced tour -- from where all the photos from the last two entries were taken.
Quite a "field trip." Had to drive 23 miles past the Visitor's Center to get to the trail head -- and then up a steep hill to the cave entrance. (the sign explains it -- one-half mile, 500 feet of elevation. On uneven stone pathway.)

And here is the park description:

"The Slaughter Canyon Cave tour takes the adventurous visitor into an undeveloped cave without electricity or paved trails."

Strange formations and slippery walkways and the usual "blackout."
If you take cave tours, there are always extra flashlights and the rangers usually carry a couple a piece. When they get you in a small cave room and everyone is seated -- they ask everyone to turn out their lights. You really can't see your hand in front of our face.

But the formations, the minerals (calcite and gypsum), the enormous hardened piles of bat guano, the pictographs in this cave and the quirky history is what interests me.

A Cave is a Strange Place To Be

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Carlsbad Caverns, NM Part 1




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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Where Are We? -- UPDATE

Left AZ last week and into New Mexico...with a no-nothing stop in Lordsburg (because it was time to find a place for the night) and a rest-and-chore stop in Truth or Consequences (named after the game show).

Now visiting Sharon and Pat at their home in Albuquerque. Hanging out with a visit to Old Town, some movies and some Scrabble, Trader Joe's, the local library, etc.
Alan and Pat are collaborating on some house and van projects. A few electrical problems got figured out and our GPS/GyPSy got fixed. Maybe we can again find our way...

It has been cold -- but sunny. Enjoying our time together.

Hoping to make it to Santa Fe and then Alan and I will be off...probably to Carlsbad Caverns next.

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Magical Day in Bisbee

Two days ago...woke in the campground above the Queen Mine in Bisbee, AZ.
I was having a slow morning and thought we'd walk down for the 10:30 am tour but realized that Alan preferred the earlier one, so we got ready and went there. And...

At the ticket booth, a male tourist and I started to chat with the usual openers including...Where are you from? When I responded he said -- Oh, my wife used to live in Binghamton.
Turns out that couple and us were the only ones on the first tour of the day AND the woman Debbie B., worked at probation when Alan worked at the Alcoholism Center (we're talking over twenty years ago) and they had professional contact! We had a good time catching up.

Yes, I wrote previously about enjoying Tombstone. Cute and hokey Tombstone. This was different. Bisbee was a copper mining town and the tour we were taking was in one of the mines that closed in the mid-1970s:

"In almost 100 years of continuous production before the Bisbee mines closed in 1975, the local mines produced metals valued at $6.1 billion (at 1975 price) one of the largest production valuations of all the mining districts in the world. This staggering amount of wealth came from the estimated production of 8,032,352,000 lbs of copper, 2,871,786 ounces of gold, 77,162,986 ounces of silver, 304,627,600 lbs of lead and 371,945,900 lbs of zinc!"

The guide was a former miner, as are all the he knew what he was talking about and inserted some personal anecdotes, like the time -- the scattering of the white cockroaches presaged a cave-in.

Check out the Queen Mine tour at this site -- you can even watch the video

A lovely artsy town -- some Woodstock of old mixed with a slice of Jerome, AZ -- but locals will say Bisbee is all of itself. Forbes lauded it as one of the 20 "Prettiest Towns in the Country."

See the weird photos last entry -- I loved the house with the orange stuff. Did you notice that there were a bunch of Etch-A-Sketch's hanging?

Drawn to the open artist studio through the glass, I walked into Uptown Tribal, the glass bead and jewelry store of Kate Drew-Wilkinson. A fun interaction with her...a character, an inspirational woman, artist, former thespian, and world traveler. Her and her store manager had me engaged in conversation, the three of us laughing and chatting excitedly.

And I bought a necklace of magic beads. The necklace was fashioned by Kate but the beads were made by another woman artist, out of acrylic. Very hard to describe and the description will only undermine the specialness...but, what the heck; the closest thing to it is the mood rings of the 1960's. The beads turn colors, based on temperature and supposedly, "body chemistry." But the changes are subtle and slow and the variations beautiful. Didn't I write -- it is Magical?!

A friend of Kate's walked in and when the conversation was over, it was decided that I would walk with this new woman over to her gallery, PanTerra, a few blocks away.
Of course we got to talking and I learned that she and her partner moved to Bisbee four years ago and that she used to be a clothes designer. It wasn't until we were looking at some clothes she carried in her gallery that I realized that I owned a jacket she designed -- she is Maralyce Ferree and I own a purple (no surprise) fleece Ferree jacket purchased in the Sweetheart Gallery of Woodstock.

One Side of Bisbee




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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chiricahua Natl Monument


We had never heard of it either! Chiricahua National Monument in AZ. But since we were told about it twice in a week, decided to spend a night there.
And a cold night it was...woke to 27 degrees out (not much different than at home) but we were cozy in the van.

Prepared to take a hike in this "Wonderland of Rocks" -- and dressed accordingly. Put on many layers including hats and gloves. And so we were shedding layers as the trail progressed. The sun was out but in some tree filled areas there were patches of snow and ice to walk over. Elevation of 4500 feet and on an up-and-down uneven surface. With beautiful views and awesome rock formations. (photos in first two entries).

We were the only car in the parking lot and the only ones on the trail when we started out and there were six more cars in the lot when we left.
This is not a crowded park even in season...Probably 100,000 visitors a year and only 4000 of us in January.

There are advantages to touring in off-season. A major one is feeling like we are alone in the wilderness. Quiet and open.

Later we took the tour of Faraway Ranch which was settled in the late 1800's which, in addition to a working ranch and farm, became a guest resort. (photos of the tour this entry).
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Chiricahua Natl., AZ more



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Chiricahua Natl Monment, AZ



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