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The Road is Life

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There’s a tiny farmer’s market on the east side of Tucson on Saturday that includes a food truck worth standing in line to be served from. And I did for at least half an hour. No idea really it was so pleasant with children, grandparents, vendors, gem cutters and locals to eavesdrop on.

Time enough to read the menu and the specials and make a perfect choice, the southwestern grilled cheese sandwich with tomato and peppers. Gooey delicious and mildly spicy, generous and inexpensive. As Kerouac says we are all on the road. Let’s make it worth how hard farmers, merchants, musicians, writers and the rest work to support us, including a long wait for slow food.

Fungi Fungi Everywhere

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This member of the Amanita family, Concorra, was seen in abundance on the weekly walk at Big Basin Redwoods State Park outside of Santa Cruz, CA., the week before Thanksgiving. I was lucky enough to be camping there that day and on a small group hike of seven hours with three docents from the area. We had the joy of spying so many fungi up after a recent and unusual rain in the coastal redwoods. Sometimes on the road you just hit it right.

Simple Joy of a Camper Kitchen

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A tasty sandwich like this with snappy pretzels and real mayonnaise is whipped up in a few minutes without the hassle of cruising for a place to eat, a menu selection and the down time between decision and delivery. Bonus: price is about $2.00 a plate with fresh greens and a pickle. This is liberating!

Getting into Wren

It took me a few thousand miles perhaps to figure out how to remember which foot to step up first when entering from driver’s side or from navigator’s side of the van. Great relief to discover that all it takes is putting the foot closer to the van up first, then the other foot naturally goes on second step and one’s feet do not wind up entangled and the rest of me unbalanced when I try to sit down. Who knew?

Getting There the Same Day

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There is a lot of map gazing when it’s all new territory. We picked up maps of the states at Triple A before leaving Vermont and find them handy to get an overview if nothing else. Also, there are occasions when our devices can’t get online although mostly the IPhone 6 does the trick.

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These photos were taken over a week ago before the breakdown in communication outside of Chimle, AZ. We were looking for the campground that is part of the Canyon de Challes National Monument. Spent too long at The Four Corners that day talking to the Navajo vendors and doing some shopping. We do better if we are on the campsite by 4 PM, not so well when we’re still looking for it closer to 5.

The new practice is if we’re looking for something, Jerry drives, I navigate, the dog pretends she’s asleep. This is working much better although sometimes spats between driver and navigator arise. Safety first is our motto so if we’ve missed the turn, we keep going and make a U-turn at some point. This is getting us there the same day we had hoped to arrive.

Elk, Elk, where are you?

Glenwood Hot Springs, CO

Glenwood Hot Springs, CO

Overheard in the pool

“The elk are out there. Saw a bull elk today grazing by the fence along the highway. On private property though. It’s said that the elk are staying at higher elevations this fall. They think it’s September.”

While this may not be literally true, it says something about the change in the way things used to be climate-wise.

Notes on the Midwest

From the pov of an easterner visiting the Midwest, a few things stood out. Drivers seem content to travel at the speed limit and will stay behind our big van from Vermont, with a driver clearly unfamiliar with the territory, for miles and miles even though the van is going the speed limit or less. My experience traveling up and down the east coast in a Prius with VT plates was that every car and truck was eager to pass me with or without the broken center line. Nice change.

To my surprise, the yards, porches and doors of houses and apartments along our way were not overloaded with Halloween decorations. I would see just an occasional gesture, one much more like decades ago, before the blow-up ghouls and witches were available. A pumpkin or two and bunches of Indian corn could be seen occasionally. A friend in CO confirmed that the craze has not reached her yet. I don’t

Earlier travelers in the Midwest mostly passed through this land.

Earlier travelers in the Midwest mostly passed through this land.

miss the shrubbery strewn with fake cobwebs or the lawn that includes a rep from every conceivable Halloween theme.

I’m Back

So busy being a tourist, no time to write about what we are doing.

We had a great time with Kate and David Johnson in Blaine, MN.  They treated us very well, but Lady Bess even better.  They were constantly giving her a snack or a select piece of steak or fish.  We had some good meals with them, with the local fish, one of Dave’s walleye as the standout, and they shared some of the cooking duties.

We watched the second debate together, men in one room and women in the other.  We will keep our opinions to ourselves. David was very helpful in getting me to a tire store for a tire rotation and to check out one slow leak. No solution- more about that later. We also tried to top off the propane tank. I’m still learning how all this works.

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It’s All About the Sky

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Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The day we arrived, the sky was blue with puffy Georgia-O’keeffe clouds floating about. This photo is from the next morning from Wren. Is that rain? Skies cleared on our way from there west 40 miles to The Black Hills and Mt. Rushmore. The day delivered sunshine, snow, rain, cloud cover and finally a red sunset as we headed back to Cedar Pass Campground where 4 sites remained open after official closing. It had poured there and was pitch dark when we arrived. First thing we did was step out and into sloppy, sticky mud. The sandstone Badlands are eroding rapidly due to rain, wind, snow, and visitors’ footsteps. No one had to convince us after we could see the sediment in every puddle under clear skies.

It was a beautiful place to stay. While I was told camping would be dry this late in the year, the restrooms were open, and heated, as were the showers.  Dogs are not allowed on any of the trails or boardwalks.

Old Friends Come in Occasionally

PBS Newshour

PBS Newshour

We’ve missed the week-night news with Judy and Gwen, but finally Jerry figured out using cell phone’s signal at a campsite to get a signal to Wren’s small screen tv. Hope to see the program more regularly as we travel NW to The Badlands and then Colorado and New Mexico this month.

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