Along the Trail

Spring is cooperating this year.  Paul and I are wending our way easterly from deep in the southwest.  For the 9th year, we are following spring’s pathway home.  This year is exquisite.  In my opinion, the red buds win this year followed by the brilliant white dogwoods, rich azaleas, blue and purple wildflowers and once in awhile we spot magnificent Magnolias.  Rochester’s Oxford Street is famous for it’s Magnolia row.  We hope to return in time for this splendorific array of blossoms. 

Taking stock of all of the places we visit on our journey gives us goose-bumps, they are so numerous, so varied and unexpected.  Two days ago, we finished our tour of Berea, KY a pretty college town just south of Lexington, known for it’s nurturing of artisans and the arts and crafts that they create.  Finishing the tour of the artisan heritage trail in the mid afternoon, we chose, spontaneously, to drive to a remote area to hike our way up a rocky trail to Anglin Falls     

Anglin falls3663   white bloom3673

The trailhead lies at the end of a half mile drive up a dirt road to a parking lot.  Much to our surprise, the lot was full at 4:45 PM but lucky us, we didn’t have to wait long for a parking place.  The park is dedicated to a former president of Berea college and what a tribute it is indeed.  The trail ascends steeply up a rocky trail.  The reward is a cliff seemingly suspended in the air.  From the cliff, fine streams of water pour into the glen below.  There are plenty of rocks to climb filling a rock climbers every desire to hop from one view to another of the falls.  The wildflowers are at their peak here, the biggest treat being several Jack in the Pulpit plants just showing their “hoods” still green, before they turn a beautiful purple of the mature plant.

What a memory.IMG_3671

Do a Doubletake

What if you drove through a small town in Missouri in a big rig motor home, through the narrow streets with one lane for driving and the curb lane for parking, speed limit 25, the bank, real estate office, hardware store, local haberdashery, pharmacy and corner grocery store housed in buildings some probably dating from the 1930’s and 40’s.  What if you continued through this town boasting ties to Abe Lincoln as do so many towns in Missouri and Illinois.  What if, while approaching the Springfield, MO town hall you observe a crowd on the lawn in front of the building and see a chorus of men standing on the steps of the town hall.  What if the chorus (of 50 men I was to learn later) are all Abe Lincoln look-alikes in black top hats and tails.  What if, because you had no warning or expectations, you did not have your camera ready to catch this scene and there was no place to stop in a big rig to snap a shot of this phenomenon. 

That happened to me, on a sunny Sunday in April.  A photo op missed, it just exists in my head.  I searched on the Springfield Sun web site, the newspaper in Springfield.  There were no photos showing the chorus of 50, only a photo of one of the Lincoln impersonator and his wife, playing Mary Todd Lincoln, the first lady.  It was a moment of humor, frustration and acceptance of circumstance. What a memory!

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Getting on the Map

You could say I get jealous of all you folks who are prolific at putting out numerous blogs with what seems like an effort-free manner while I publish my Message in a Minute after intense editing, re-writing and heavy sweat.  I do the same with my images, intense care and editing.  I intend to still do that obsessive thing when I get that creative bug bite, but  I now intend to send spontaneous pieces that I will call Memory in a Minute, to highlight some wonderful little happening to share. How I cherish your feedback and responses to my Message in a Minute and I repeat, these are sent with the understanding that all of you are busy and that you will read them only if you are truly interested.

Memory #1;  Paul and I had set up in a US Army Core of Engineer RV Park on Rend Lake, Illinois.  What a treat this place is, in the woods, large sites, miles of hiking and biking trails, large dam projects and plenty to see. IMG_3603

The weather was beautiful–sunny and hot.  The day’s drive had been long, we were hot and ready to slow down for a minute or two, something we don’t do easily.  In fact, we had something to celebrate. The entry door of our rig sports a map of the USA and Canada, with plastic patches for each state or province.  Unbelievably, we had not fulfilled our self-inflicted directive to only fill in a state if we have camped overnight in this rig, something we had not done in Illinois.  it seems we have driven through this state several times without stopping to camp. 

Here we are, finally camping in Illinois.  We dug out the map set, selected the green patch for Illinois and ceremoniously rubbed it into place on the door map.  Our neighbor’s adorable little boy, 13 month old Brody started wandering in our direction.  Being typical grandparent types, we started talking to Brody and to his parents as they came out to intercept his wanderings.  With Brody happily in his dad’s arms, we talked as dusk descended.  I saw Paul’s gaze lift from Brody’s dad to the trees in the nearby forest, and then I saw what had caught his eye; a large wise Owl, perhaps of the screech variety.  It had taken flight from a low tree branch to the ground and then up to another tree branch, finally disappearing into the forest.  What a treat that was, what a memory. 

Blizzard of Sand

The winds had been wicked for four or five days in a row, gusts to 50 or 60 MPH.  Our heading via motor home is easterly towards Rochester by early May.  We have been driving long distances each day, the high winds tiring us out with the effort of staying centered in the lane.  Our location, Interstate 40 through Flagstaff, Arizona heading east scheduled to reach the Flying J gas station in Winslow, AZ with an assumed 1/4 tank of gas upon arrival. 

The winds continued with  such vengeance, whipping at our awnings, rocking us almost boat fashion, blowing sand in swirls and sweeps,  tumbling tumbleweed brushing across the highway in our path.  We were 21 minutes from Winslow, mid afternoon and Paul had just taken the wheel.  In the distance the sky was filled with sand, reducing the sunshine to a misty light.  The traffic ahead was congealing, red brake lights flashing.  We came to a full stop.  We could see flashing emergency lights ahead of us and the signs for the coming rest area, now closed in Arizona’s desperate response to the economic downturn.   

Time passed, we tried to shelter ourselves along side large trucks in the right lane, but our awnings continued their threat to come undone in the high winds and we rocked and swayed, as one trucker on the CB declared, he was “going to be seasick.”  An official in a truck drove down the left side of the highway updating everyone that there was indeed a multi car/truck accident and that the road was closed due to the accumulation of sand.  It could mean many hours of waiting.

NPR  reported the forecast  that the winds were due to cease in a couple of  hours, that officials had been escorting travelers through the sandstorm, but they ceased that operation and completely closed the  sand-filled road.  17 miles of Interstate 40 were closed from Winslow westward and traffic was being diverted from the highway.  Some 4 wheelers drove over the median heading westerly, but we are indeed in the “boondocks” near Meteor Crater and Two Guns, locations without services available.  Rumors passed up and down that we’d be here until 8:00PM, 10:00PM, Midnight. 

Ironically, in the sky ahead were two contrails “marking” an X over the rest area, the trouble spot ahead. XMarksthespot 

Stuck on the road in a motor home offers many advantages, a rest room, kitchen and room to get up and stretch the legs.  Many 4 wheeler drivers risked the winds to stretch or walk or walk into the desert to “pee.”  3 hours after stopping, I made a simple dinner—the end of Pesach, matzah and omelets, not the planned finishing meal.  More waiting, more rumors.  At 8:15, red tail lights were lighting.  We were being escorted down the road, picking up speed, the winds still blowing, but at a lesser speed. 

Traffic moved on its own after a few miles and we arrived in the Flying J.  We filled the gas tank, not desperate for gas but happy to be here and then parked for the night.  We shared stories with other travelers, heard the tale of ripped awnings and other adventures and settled down for the night.  We were packed tight together, but the swaying in the wind had stopped.  The blizzard of sand provided yet another adventure to impact our dreams.