Gypsy's Travels

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I'm "IT"?

ABW at Army Blogger Wife has tagged me. I am supposed to reveal seven things that most people don't know about me. I have an aversion to revealing personal information, especially over the internet, even though I don't have many, if any, deep, dark secrets. Well, there are some, but I don't tell those to anyone. Hmmmm, guess those could be points 1 & 2.

3. I have four children born on 3 different continents. Guess that information depends on where you were born. Son was born in South America and they are taught that North and South America are one continent, but in the U.S.A. we are taught they are two separate continents.

4. I wish I could just "sit & relax." I need to have busy hands...needlework, reading, crossword puzzle, writing.....don't seem to be able to just "sit."

5. I went to 3 different HS my Senior year. Went to four in all, but really started moving in my Senior Year....Robert E. Lee HS in Baytown, Texas; Kubasaki American Dependent HS in Okinawa; Lompoc Union HS in California.

6. I went to 8 different colleges.....but I DID finally get that elusive degree.... from Texas Woman's University.

7. I love acting and was involved in theater in HS and in Little Theater for several years after HS. When I was a teen, I sent a letter asking to be considered for the role of Anne Frank in an upcoming movie about her life.

Okay, there are, more or less, seven things about me. Now I am supposed to "tag" someone. Since very few people I know blog, I will tag some of the blogs I enjoy....

Life With My Soldier

The Life and Times of a Butterfly Wife

The House Next Door

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Flying High

People have been trying to fly for centuries. Early crafts tried to imitate the flapping wings of birds. They were called ornithopters. In 1903, the Wright Brothers succeeded in the first sustained, controlled, powered flight, and just a little over a decade later during WWI, the airplane was a deciding force in battle. Rapid strides had been made in a relatively short period.

Browsing a new sight for genealogical information, I was surprised by the notice from
"The Dillon Herald," in South Carolina on September 7, 1916

An Aeroplane Sighted!
Aircraft seen Passing Southward over Cumberland County
Fayetteville, NC Sept 2
An aeroplane passed over the plantation of J H McIlwinnen in Seventy-First township yesterday afternoon about 5 o’clock, says "The Observer" today. Mr McIlwinnen’s family saw it and report that there was one person in it. It was going south.

What a surprise for that family. Chances are, not one of them ever flew on a commercial flight. I wonder if they ever even thought flight would be possible for the average citizen.

Several years ago I watched in awe as the shuttle returned from space, flying right over my house. It was not some bright star-like apparition in the sky. I could see the shuttle. I could hear the noise it made as it swooshed by. As soon as it was out of sight, I ran in to listen to the news report. Five minutes after it flew over my house in Texas, it landed in Florida!

I wonder which is the greater surprise - putting a metal machine in the air for sustained flight for the first time or sending it into space then landing it on earth safe and sound. I doubt that I, nor my children, will ever take a commercial flight into space, but I will treasure the memory of seeing the shuttle in flight.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Memoir Writing

Today was my first class in Memoir Writing for the fall semester of Senior University 2007. I have been teaching now for about 4 years along with a neighbor. We teach a beginning class and a continuing class each semester, switching duties each term. We have covered Techniques, Military, Good Ole Days, and others, but I have the beginning class this semester. I LOVE the beginners! There is such enthusiasm and they are always surprised they can accomplish so much in such a short time.

Memoir writing as a literary genre, forms a subclass of autobiography. It is a process of taking one small portion / memory / bite out of time, and writing in-depth about it. The result is a slice of life examined like a frozen moment in time. The video watch that Dick Tracy wore in early comic strips is close to present day reality. We gathered around the radio to listen to well-loved programs much as families gather around the TV now. We saw the advent of TV dinners, McDonald's, transatlantic jet travel, Interstate Highways, space shuttles, and a man walking on the moon. Even if we did not experience the Great Depression ourselves, our parents and grandparents did and it has had an effect on our lives. We have a responsibility to record our history, share our spiritual values, and let our loved ones know what we stand for and how we feel we have made a difference in this world.

I will be sprinkling some memoir writing in my blog. I hope you are writing too.

Update on Troy Methvin

This is from late last night -

Troy continues to improve, however he lost a significant amount of blood, and his
systems are taxed. His lungs remain the most critical issue and the threat of pneumonia and infection are still there. Meanwhile, he was very lucid today, cranky (a good sign for me),and charming at the same time. He is such a witty, bright boy who always makes me smile.

Tomorrow morning he faces another surgery, a skin graft for his hand where he suffered 3rd degree burns.The good news is they feel he is strong enough to face it. We are hoping they will try to step him down from ICU tomorrow, which would be a wonderful thing. He still is not out of the woods due to the threat of pneumonia, and still remains with chest tubes and drains in place.

I believe the power of prayer that is going for this boy is so strong. Thanks for keeping the faith. Please keep his family in your prayers as well, for strength and
hope. The family has been through so much and they need the support.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

An Opportunity for a RAOK

Have you done a RAOK (Random Act of Kindness) today? If not, or even if you have, consider saying a prayer and sending a card to this young man:
Troy Methvin
Allen, Tx, 75002

This is the story as I received it. The link above confirms the story.

My cousin's best friends little boy was hit by a car, then run over yet again.. He's 14, was riding his bike and that was that...he's in critical condition but is expecected to make it with a very long recovery..he will need plastic surgery as well and other surgery..he has head injuries, he has internal injuries...broken ribs, broken leg, arm, just about every place is a mess... IF you can find it in your heart to send a card, note, drawing or ?? to help him through this long painful adventure I know they'd so appreciate it ...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Border Patrol

Leaving Pancho Villa SP in New Mexico, I decided to follow Hwy 9 east towards El Paso. This road appeared to run right along the US / Mexico border and I was very curious about the problem of illegal immigration in that area.

As I traveled, I wondered about the various stones stacked one on another. I recall that we did a similar exercise in Scouting as signals on the trail. These stones appeared at intervals along the fence line. Were they signals to other illegals seeking to cross into the US?
It was hard to imagine anyone could hide in the scrubby brush that covered miles and miles of land in the area. Not only is the brush sparse, the bushes are full of spikes and stickers. Nevertheless, I saw plenty of white trucks patrolling along the road, some even pulled off and out checking in those patches of scrubby brush. I watched the roadside very carefully but never did see anyone sneaking over.

It is easy to talk about illegal immigrants as a "problem," but talking about them as people brings on a whole new set of feelings. I dealt with many of these people in my years as an ER nurse in an inner city hospital. They were faces instead of numbers, struggling family members instead of intruders. I don't support illegal immigration, but were I in the same circumstances I would probably be trying to get into the U.S. any way I could.

I was thinking and driving when I noticed a small mud hole, but it was too late to stop. Since I wasn't in that much of a hurry, I made a U-turn and headed back for a closer look and a photo. I thought I might have seen tracks leading to and from the mud hole.
I took photos and even stopped for photos a couple more times before I continued my journey with some speed.

There are infrequent side roads on Hwy 9, apparently leading to border crossings just a brief distance away. As I passed one small side road, a Border Patrol truck pulled out and continued east behind me. I immediately checked my speed and kept it below the posted 65 just to be sure. I wondered why he didn't pass me or turn around.

Suddenly, Border Patrol Truck #2 appeared on my left, headed west. Truck #1 flashed his lights, Truck #2 turned around, and Truck #1 turned on his "I want you to stop now!" lights behind me. I pulled over and waited, noting there was a 3rd truck behind #1. Now, it was just me on the side of a little traveled road, surrounded by three Border Patrol Trucks.

A handsome, young man in uniform approached my vehicle, making it a point to stay about two feet away. He kept his hand lightly on his gun.
"I wasn't speeding," I assured him.
"I know, ma'am," he answered politely. "We are just checking things out."
I waited, knowing what he had in mind.
"There was a report of a white sedan that turned around and headed West a while ago," he said.
"Oh, that was probably me," I answered, embarrassed that I was trying to remain cool and hoping he was only Border Patrol and not the grammar police.
"What was the problem?" he prompted.
"No, problem. I just wanted to take a picture,"
"Of the overturned truck?"
"No, it was before that. I thought I saw something interesting at the mud hole a ways back." I was sure he was wondering how a mud hole could be more interesting than an overturned truck. He asked a few more probing questions and wanted to look at my ID before he was finally satisfied I was nothing more than a curious tourist, and sent me on my way.

The Border Patrol works hard in the dry heat of the U.S. / Mexico border. I wish I had asked him about the stacks of rocks.

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More Photos

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City of Rocks Photos

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Friday, September 21, 2007

New Mexico State Parks

With only a couple of days to go on my trip, I traveled south on US 180, through Silver City towards Deming, NM. Stopped at City of the Rocks, still searching for a spot DH and I had visited years ago, but this was not the site. It was a very interesting place though, sparsely populated and quiet. I climbed amongst the rock forms for a while, mentally marking it for a nice place to camp some day.

The next stop was Rockhound State Park and a short drive away, Spring Canyon. I spent about two hours exploring the ledges and trails of Rockhound State Park. I had bought a small shovel, a "scratcher", and some leather gloves, so I would be prepared and could handle the rocks. Each visitor is allowed 15 pounds of rock. There is an amazing variety of semi-precious stones, thunder eggs, and geodes. I was wishing I had DH's old rock hammer and that he was there to tell me what I was seeing because, despite my sudden preparation, they all looked just like plain old rocks to me. I picked up about 15 pounds of them anyway.

The rock ledges were quite high and I got excellent cell phone connections for a while. I noticed a thunderstorm approaching and figured I would be a prime candidate for being the highest point around. I decided to leave.

Since my $5.00 pass was good all day for the State Parks in NM, I decided to venture down to Pancho Villa S.P. which was even further south on US 180. Even thought about visiting across the border in Mexico because it was so close, but didn't have time.

Pancho Villa SP was named in deference to "our good relations with Mexico" now. Panch Villa raided the area in 1916 and General "Black Jack" Pershing was sent to take care of the situation. Villa was not impressed.

Being down that far in N.M., I decided to travel toward El Paso via Highway 9. Look for that story under "Border Patrol."

Lessons Learned

In view of my disturbing experience at the motel the other night, I thought it only fair to revisit the subject after my experience the next night. Probably much to "Anonymous'" distress, I did stay in a Motel 6 last night. It was the ONLY motel in Ft. Stockton, TX, with available rooms and I felt lucky to get one.

A very young-looking girl checked me in as a line formed behind me. Some of us had met previously coming and going at the same places without success. The girl took all my identifying information from my driver's license, asked me to write my car info on paper, and presented me with a receipt that gave my room number in small enough numbers that it could not be read by the others waiting in line. HOORAY!

I ventured into the office the next morning and spoke with the manager. I praised the girl's handling of the check-in and asked if they were trained to proceed like that or if she were just an extraordinarily astute young woman.
"Every hotel / motel is supposed to train their employees , but the employees do not always follow the rules," she told me. Apparently, several years ago a woman's room number was given verbally at the desk and someone accosted her when she opened the door, forced her into the room, and attacked her. Big lawsuit....big bucks...

I will write a letter to Motel 6 Company Office as well as the other chain.

Of course, it would be too good to be true that everything went perfectly...
After I had settled into the room and was relaxing, my door suddenly burst open , as far as the clamp thing would allow, and a very embarrassed young man stood there looking puzzled.
"I am so sorry," he said. "My key fit!"

Guess there was a mixup on the computer room I put a chair in front of my door.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On the Road

Things look better this morning and I will plan to attack last night's problems in a constructive way.

Meanwhile, I am headed from Holbrook, AZ, a gateway to the Grand Canyon, to wards Deming, N.M. There are a couple of sights in the area I hope to explore. Maybe I can keep the photos this time......

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"One" can be such a lonely number

I am a female traveling alone. Although I am somewhat of a rarity, an increasing number of women are taking advantage of the opportunity to see the world even when no one can accompany them. I believe this number will increase. Of course, there is always the option of tours or going with someone, even if you are not compatible traveling companions, but seeing things on your own has some definite pros and cons. This evening was especially notable.

Maybe I was just tired, picky, vulnerable, or especially conscious of my particular situation. It was not a problem earlier in the day, though, so I take note of it here.

After arriving at my hotel tonight, I was checked in in front of several other people. I believe it would have been better for anyone, but especially a female traveling alone, to have written the information down on a card and handed it to the clerk. Instead, I was asked to give my name, address, phone number, car license plate number & make, in front of several strangers. The clerk then announced my room number and told me the best way to enter. I have stayed in places where I was asked to write the pertinent information and then given my room number in writing and carefully, but tactfully, screened from the view of other guests. It is a small thing, but in view of the way people are disappearing without a trace, it is advisable.

When I went to the AAA recommended restaurant tonight, I was very aware of the treatment I received. i was placed at a large table, alone, in full view of all restaurant guests. I probably shouldn't complain since it was not by the bathroom door or the swinging kitchen door. No one approached me or offered a glass of water for 12 minutes while I sat there. I had decided that after 15 minutes, I would just leave. I would have to suppose that everyone received a hard roll and cold meat, but I was too hungry to complain. I wandered around my, fairly empty, end of the room and procured my own fork and salt shaker rather than get the attention of, or even find, the server. I waited for 5 minutes for my check after I was noticed to have finished. After receiving my check, I waited for another 10 minutes for the waitress, who had time to visit with other guests very congenially, to take my credit card. I finally took it to the register myself.

Yes, I am probably tired, too self-conscious, and a little depressed. The whole situation has made me acutely aware of the problems facing a female traveling alone. Hmmmm, opens up a whole new area of thinking.....

Comments and ideas appreciated. This could well be a series of magazine articles (Thank you M.E.!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Chance Meeting

Many years ago I was traveling with DH and our two very young children to DH's assignment in Australia. Since airline flights did not always coincide with our children's sleep schedules, the children were not always agreeable about making the trips. Such was the case this day, or was it night, one can never tell in an airport. Anyway, the children were letting the world know they were unhappy - voicing their situation at the top of their lungs. Suddenly a tall, young man appeared with a smile on his handsome face and began appealing to the children. He chatted with them, patted them on their heads, and conversed amiably with us, before hurrying away to his flight.

The children settled down, we boarded our flight, and DH began perusing the newspaper.
"Look," he said, pointing to an article with a photo in the paper, "the man who talked to us is one of the football players here for a Bowl Game!"
Sure enough, there was the smiling face of O.J. Simpson in the photo.

Reconciling the O.J. Simpson we met that night with the person of recent years has been very difficult for me. I doubt he remembers that meeting. I wonder if he remembers that man.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Family Time

It was a good day for family. We met with my niece and her 13 year-old daughter, then on to view niece's DH's classroom. There were many observations to make during this time.

Niece has grown into a lovely young woman and very competemt teacher. She is excited about her job which challenges her and empowers growth. She was prepared to teach 6th graders, but was quite surprised when the principal asked her to teach digital photography in addition to her other subjects. She is rising to the occasion.

Uncle Dan's wife, M.E., maintains the center of the whirlwind around her. She is a writer, well-disciplined and focused. We have lengthy discussions on the subject of writing and its nuances. Her latest book is Science Fast Facts

Uncle Dan and M.E.'s GD, C8, has matured into a lively young teenager while retaining a touch of happy childhood. She bounces around like Tigger, hugging & chatting, cajoling and promising, while discussing her studies, chess club, and sports. I wish we could bottle her energy and enthusiasm.

In the midst of this group of women, Uncle Dan maintains his vigil and offers his counsel. While M.E. and I were shopping in different parts of the department store today, Uncle Dan drifted back and forth keeping us both in sight until he had finally herded us into a small line. He remained at the rear, moving us toward the check-out register, much as a shepherd maneuvers his sheep.

We met with one more family member, much to my delight, niece's DH. Rick is a personable addition to the family with a penchant for looking at things from different viewpoints and challenging others to do the same. He is teaching Language Arts to 7th graders this year and his classroom is embued with the same vitality as his personality and his outlook on life. It is not just "poetry", it is looking at the words from another point of view, examining why you have this point of view, questioning what can be derived from the exercise, and putting it all into context in another exercise. THEN, put all the information into perspective in your life! How I wish I had had such a teacher in my life.

We all have family members with lessons to share. It is up to us to explore people's attitudes, accept the good from them, support and them on their journey, and live life to the best of our abilities.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

County Fair Time

It seems to be the season for County Fairs. When I stopped in Watsonville, California (DH's hometown), on my way to Uncle Dan's, I took the opportunity to visit the Santa Cruz County Fair. It was so relaxed and entertaining, I wish I could have stayed for the evening and enjoyed all that was offered.

I did take time to visit the handwork / needlearts displays. There is an amazing amount of talent - photographs, paintings, needle work, canning, cooking - in all the area. I took a few photos of the quilts......

This was one of the demonstrations offered and manned by a delightful lady willing to answer questions.

This one, by Susan Roach, covers the pillows and the sides of the bed.

A simple, but carefully planned, quilt block is very effectively executed by Jo Bridges. I LOVE "scrappy quilts" and especially love the bright colors in this one.

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The Secret Tomato Stash

In the midst of all the beautiful California landscaping here at Uncle Dan's place, there is a tomato plant. Now, everyone knows you can just put a stick in the ground in this State and it will grow, but no one knows from whence this tomato plant came. Nevertheless, Uncle Dan and one neighbor have spotted the plant and reap its harvest at intervals. There is no rivalry about it, although I did pick one lonely one yesterday and immediately devoured the tasty morsel (after washing it of course). Last night the neighbor appeared at the door and presented us with a small bowl of vine-ripened cherry tomatoes.
"Your portion of today's harvest," he announced.
I wonder how many people walk past that plant every day and never take time to notice.

I have been promised a trip to "Tony's" today. Great Mexican food, not Tex-Mex, it is the California version.

Uncle Dan took this photo is of a goup of mariachis at Quail Gardens. "Si", they are living plants!

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Looking Through the Lens

Having traveled down the coast of California after deleting all my previous photos. I can only offer this view of the coastline. Wild, treacherous, dangerous, yet at the same time the scene stirs a calm in the midst of constant change. One only has to wait for the sunset to experience a feeling of pending renewal for a new day.

This blooming cactus is right outside Uncle Dan's back door.
"Blooms every year," he says. It fades in the sun nd heat of the day.
There is a stability about this place that leads their GD C8 to call it "home." I always find a sense of love and acceptance here.

We visited "Quail Gardens" today and there was not a quail in sight! The arboretum abounds with bright colored flora and little creatures such as this lizard sunning on a convenient rock.

Yellow canes of bamboo glisten through the dark coolness of the arboretum path. I can't complain about the heat when it is 20 degrees cooler than home and a lot less humidity. Besides, there is so little concern about having plans spoiled by rain!

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Notes from Utah on Thursday

I had only planned a short hike in "The Valley of the Goblins" in this Utah State PArk, but they keep luring me in further and further. Walking in the midst of the earthen formations, overseen by the Henry Mountains, out of cell phone contact, and no one else in sight, it seems I am alone in the world. I am, for a short while anyway. I am not sure if there is the noise of small insects around me, or if it is just the silence. Silence, it seems, does have some sound. I wonder what you hear in a sound-proof room.

I started this particular journey, through the formations, about 9 a.m. and it is now beginning to heat up. I wish I had know they were open until 10 p.m. last night or at 6 a.m. this morning. I could have come at sunset or before sunrise for the phot-ops. I did have the foresight to bring a backpack, water, a camera, and of course, paper & pen.

My footsteps beat a hollow rythym on the firm, packed earth. Each rain washes away all the imprints left by our feet. I wonder if it washes away our thoughts, or do they linger in the netherland of another time. It is rather like hiking through a Rohrsharch (sp?)Test. I see mushrooms; turtles resting atop flat stones; one on top of a lion's head; a huge arm, carved and ready to place on an unseen statue; a huge nose, for the same statue perhaps; and various other animals. It is easy to see how how some might interpret the formations as giant phallic symbols and Freud would have a field day with that.

There are many beautiful places to stop here, but I must content myself with only a few and a promise to return and spend more time.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Blog Withdrawals

I have been having computer withdrawal symptoms.....unable to get proper computer time....all photos from trip until now inadvertantently, I am on a computer as a "guest" at the library in Watsonville and it is so slow that I will not be able to write my blog up-to-date. At least I got on this time. Seems everyone has discovered the library acess.

Oh well, maybe at Uncle Dan's when I finally get there....

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Colorado or Bust!

Colorado is, as always, beautiful!
The contrast of blue, blue sky with the varying shades of green in the pines is breathtaking. The quaking Aspen and intermittent stormy skies add enough variety to keep me from getting too complacent.
I stopped for a pinic lunch in the midst of all this. Simple fare - an apple and Gouda cheese (I discovered there is no lactose in Gouda or Edam cheese) - eaten while I sat on the back bumper of the car. I was enveloped by the beauty and silence of the mountains. Only an occasional rash of passing vehicles disturbed the quiet, making the silence even more profound when the noise was gone.

I visited some of the places associated with the family name in Buena Vista and Salida, Colorado. The places were not new to me, DH and I had visited them a couple of times before. Sadly, the old school building that DH's father had attended, looked very bad. The bricks are extremely deteriorated all around the base of the building. It appears that it will fall in the near future. The trees that provided climbing joys for several generations, are overgrown and will surely show the wear after this winter's snow and ice. The land (and building?) were donated and reverted to the owners when the place was no longer used for a school.
I passed many deteriorating buildings in the area. I understand the extreme cost of restoring them but what a shame no one documents them.

One of the things I was really looking forward to was dinner at "The Laughing Ladies" in Salida. Unfortunately, they are closed on Tuesday and Wednesday, so I missed out! Actually, i missed out on two good restaurants because I passed up the one in Buena Vista that serves elk and caribou steaks, thinking I would have dinner at "The Laughing Ladies."
Live and learn. Be sure to stop in if you are ever in the neighborhood.

I spent some time at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison today. It was certainly worth the stop! It might be more impressive arriving from the West but I took a short hike and stood in awe at the majesty of this place. Was tempted to walk down to the creek which is supposed to take only about an hour, but the return is quite arduous and takes about two hours. I had to content myself with the view from above. Sorry I can't post photos from the computer at the hotel.
I headed across the beautiful mountains, moving from mountains, trees, waterfalls, and greenery, across Monarch Pass and the through the tree line, to the red rock formations and desert of Utah. Over all, the same gorgeous blue sky.

I am stopping a little early tonight because the next services are two hours away and because I want to visit "The Valley of the Goblins" tomorrow morning. Somewhere along the way, I missed the "rare freshwater geyser." I can see that I should spend a lot more time in Utah some day. Hmmm.....seems to me I have said that before.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

On the Road....

I am on the road and a rather lonely business it is. I have been passing through areas DH and I traveled, sorting through my memories, and will keep on moving. I just make myself get out and take advantage of the areas I pass through.

The GPS system in the new car is great! I still don't always trust it, but am learning how to use it to my advantage. There is always a learning curve. The good news is that I get about 27 MPG on the road, about 400 miles to a tank, and the traffic has been light.

I am in Pueblo, CO, headed for a visit to the old home family stomping grounds. Have a little more info to look up, then will head over the mountains toward San Jose.

I will be looking for more computers along the way. There was one at the hotel the other night but an elderly gentleman spent the evening and the morning on it. I wonder if he spent the night at the computer?
Hugs to all......