The ranch gate at our friends’ place in cutting-horse country near Fort Worth, Texas.
Since leaving the Hill Country we have encountered the good, the bad, and the ugly of life on the road. Let me assure you dear followers that we are both fine. All of the wheels are back on the wagon and we are winding our way due east out of Texas and into Arkansas. Here is the story.
The Good. Visiting friends on the road is one of life’s delights. From the Hill Country near Austin, we wandered up toward Fort Worth, visiting friends we met in the 1990s during our days in the art furniture business. We haven’t seen them in years and it was a happy weekend reunion at their lovely ranch home. These are two of the most artistically creative people we know. Buckeye, a painter and sculptor in the traditional Western style, and Tona, who explores jewelry making and decorative arts, live in a custom home/barn that is beautiful and joyful. Continue reading →
Bluebonnets in the Hill Country. The wildflowers were spectacular.
We came to the Hill Country of Texas because we were on a mission. We were intent on uncovering the clues that would help us piece together a more thoughtful understanding of our 36th president, Lyndon Baines Johnson. After visiting the Johnson Presidential Library in Austin in 2016, we realized that our memories of him, formed in the turmoil and passion of the 1960s, were narrower than the historical record. The filter of our 20-year old lenses acted like a microscope, zeroing in on the details of just two things – the assassination of JFK and the Vietnam War. While both were hugely formative in our young lives, the lens created a blind spot when it came to an awareness of the deeper contributions of his presidency, of the man himself. Continue reading →
Witnessing the sunrise on Easter morning was an unexpected gift. After two visits to the McDonald Observatory, I thought I had exhausted my quota of celestial events. Maybe they all prepared me for this one?
In any event, I woke up Easter morning before dawn and spotted Venus, the morning star, just above the horizon. I realized that it might be clear enough to drive up Skyline Road at Davis Mountains State Park for sunrise. From that vantage point, one can view the wide open valley that includes three counties (Jeff Davis, Brewster, Presidio) with 30% more area than the state of Vermont and a total population of 20,000. This is sparsely populated west Texas. Continue reading →
Sunset at White Tanks from our beautiful campsite.
We both experienced the poverty of heart leaving dear friends in California. We sailed along in silence, towing our Flying Cloud. Shortly after crossing into Arizona, we re-entered the Sonoran desert and after spotting the first towering saguaro, with their open arms lifting skyward, we felt welcomed. Returning to places that we love is one of the treasures of this pilgrimage so pulling into White Tank Mountains Regional Park in the golden late afternoon light refreshed us. The cholla are in bloom now and plump buds adorn the top of the saguaro, like tiaras. The desert marigolds continue their endless blooming, palo verde are fragrant with their yellow flowers, now buzzing with busy honey bees. Continue reading →
Our first bookend campground was Anthony Chabot State Park in the east bay.
After leaving Death Valley, we headed north toward the Central Coast of California. We had to re-route ourselves as a result of the slides that have closed the section of Highway 1 south of Big Sur and north of Gorda. A new slide occurred just as we were leaving Death Valley, confirming the closure of the national forest campground at Kirk Creek, where we have camped the past two years, gloriously perched over the Pacific. Our return will have to wait for another year. Continue reading →
The logo of the 2017 Mars Fest at Death Valley National Park.
We were in Death Valley the weekend of Mars Fest. We hadn’t planned this but the wonder of our pilgrimage to here lies in discovering the synchronicity of life. Last year, it was the wildflowers super bloom and this year, it’s Mars Fest.
What, you might be asking is Mars Fest? It’s an annual collaboration among an alphabet-soup of organizations: NPS (National Park Service), NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), and a couple of other organizations who gather for keynote evening presentations, daytime guided hikes, and afternoon talks, centered on the general theme of the exploration of Mars. Continue reading →
Last year, we both fell in love with the monzogranite boulders at Joshua Tree National Park. Peter is a serious rock hound but I was equally smitten when we first came to this campground (Indian Cove) last year. And so we are back. In one way, we are conventional because we reserved the same impossibly un-level site (#36) simply because of its primo backyard.
We took our site for five nights of dry camping, excited to try out our new Zamp solar panels. Learning the ins and outs of dry camping started with the purchase of our Honda 2000 generator last year. National parks have strict hours for generator use, which we completely understand.
After our stay at Usery Mountain Regional Park, we headed to the west side of Phoenix to another Maricopa County Park, White Tank Mountain. Before leaving Usery Mountain, we made a day trip up into the Superstition Mountains to the Boyce Thompson Arboretum. It was as lovely as our friends had mentioned.
There are a series of individual gardens here, including desert, legumes, cactus, butterfly and hummingbirds, a rose garden, succulents, and so many more. Tucked into the valley below a formation called Magma Ridge, the arboretum is a peaceful and inspiriting place.
At the Musical Instrument Museum, MIM, in Phoenix.
Day 10 and 11. Usery Mountain. We had read numerous positive reviews about the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix. Neither Peter, nor Davis, nor I are musicians and couldn’t grasp the idea of an entire museum dedicated to musical instruments but we gave it a go. OK, in one word, “Wow”. It was so amazing we went back a second day and still didn’t get through the museum.
I think the best way to describe this experience is to imagine a museum that in video, audio, and physical exhibits gives you a view from 30,000 feet of world cultures and the vast human spiritual connection to making music. Continue reading →
The outdoor fountains at the Heard Museum in Phoenix are stunning, even in the rain.
Day 9. The Heard Museum in Phoenix is one of our favorite places. The permanent exhibits about the native people of the southwest are stunning and as often as we have been, we learn more every visit. This year, there were two special exhibits Peter, Davis and I wanted to see. The first was about the Fred Harvey Company, named for the original founder, Fred Harvey. The second was an art installation by Arizona artist, Steven Yazzie. Continue reading →