Gumtrees and Galaxies, an Australian blog, encourages reading on environmental issues and experiences (https://gumtreesandgalaxies.com/2022/01/16/wombats-and-wonder/). In the interest of sharing a book I enjoyed (to where I didn’t put it down and go to sleep until I couldn’t focus on the words any more!), which I found in my local library. R. Glendon Brunk spent years in Alaska, homesteading, raising a daughter, running sled dogs, working in the woods, hunting and guiding – any thing that would get him out in the wilderness and on the land. I’m not sure I like him as a person; he was so wrapped up in himself that his marriage and family suffered, although he seems to have retained good relations with his former wife, and his daughter – or he’s rebuilt them. The word pictures of the wilderness of Alaska – and Africa, Asia, and other wild places to which he’s traveled – are really well done. He was close enough to the environment of Alaska to see the harm done by the pipeline (one of his jobs was monitoring the caribou) and rampant greed. This book was published in 2002, so it’s certainly not new, but the issues have not changed. He’s a good writer, and doesn’t gloss over his shortcomings, or the difficulties of life around the Arctic Circle. Having no idea how available this book is, I’m not going to tell you to go hunt it down, but I’m really glad I stumbled across it.
I drove north through Vermont yesterday to spend the holiday with my family. I wish I’d had someone else to either drive, or take photos – the Agency of Transportation has really come through with some laugh-worthy signs on their digital lighted sign boards.
Drive the Vermont way ………. Avoid hitting reindeer
Santa has his eyes on you ………. When you speed
Deck the halls ………. With hands-free calls
Rudolph is the only one ………. Who should drive lit (my personal favorite)
There were a couple of others I couldn’t remember. Oh, well –
And a photo of our table at dinner – one end cluttered with computer and Christmas cards, one side with knitting – but there are only three of us, using one end of the table for eating, and enjoying the candles and flowers to enhance our food.
Ah, yes. Life has been full, and I never put together the promised summary of my recent trip – even though I’ve been back for weeks!
Miles traveled: about 6277
Days away: 46
Money spent on camping: $10!! (Most camping was in National Forests, and free; otherwise I was mostly in driveways.)
Money spent on 313 gallons of fuel: $987 (Not counting the last fill up after I returned, because I didn’t record it.)
Average: 19.9 MPG – better then my usual 15 by quite a bit! I’m pleased with my van.
Meals eaten out: 2 (the advantage of having my kitchen with me!)
States visited: VT, NH, MA, CT, NY, PA, MD, WV, VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MS, LA, TX, NM, OK, KS, MO, IN, IL, OH, then back through WV, PA, NY, VT. Not quite half the states in the US! And I was only gone six weeks…
There should be some photo on this page – but nothing jumps out at me. I’ll make up for that as I post about what I’ve been doing since my return! I had a great time kayaking, visiting family, knitting, visiting family, kayaking, visiting friends, knitting, visiting family, camping in some beautiful places.
Sunday, December 5: I parked in a Cracker Barrel parking lot last night, as the campgrounds I wanted closed for the season two weeks ago. Grumble. I’m not sure why – it’s hunting season, hunters camp. And they don’t have running water anyway, so the possibility of it freezing is not an excuse. And there’s no snow yet, around there. But it was flat, and quiet, and dark enough. I treated myself to breakfast before I left, and still was on the road at 8:25. My route alternated between secondary highways and pieces of interstates, a good balance between speed (not that I cruise as fast as the speed limit, usually!) and interest.
This sculpture is probably by Anna Radocchia, of Bennington, Vermont. I’ve not seen a lot of her work, but this one I really like – even just leaning against a barn, not displayed to advantage. I bet when the sun hits it right, it casts really interesting shadows.
Tomorrow I’ll try to do a summary of the trip; the cat is demanding attention!
The household I’m visiting here does amazing gardens – but what caught my eye were the squirrels. The first three here pretty much ignored me; the fourth one in the tree scolded me loudly for daring to come out of the house and stand on the deck! And then there’s the metal one…
Thursday, December 2: I took only one photo yesterday – and that didn’t come out well, so you miss the scenery from Missouri and Illinois. That’s the problem when I know the driving day is going to be too long – I don’t stop for photos I know I’d like, like the St. Louis Arch, the rolling hills of Missouri, the flatness of Illinois farmland. I spent Wednesday night at Blackwell Horse Camp, south of Bloomington, Indiana in Hoosier National Forest – dark, quiet, level, and free. Getting in well after dark, I didn’t do much besides heat some supper, read a bit, and sleep. In the morning, here I was – and there were riders heading out.
The first part of my drive today was through the National Forest and rural Indiana – hilly, and not always paved, but the scenery was worth it. Having missed a turn that wasn’t labeled the way I was expecting, I turned around, stopping in Houston at the old schoolhouse – no, not the Houston in Texas!
I didn’t write down where this amazing mural was:
The sun was setting when I stopped in Waterford, Ohio, about 20 miles from Marietta, where I am visiting friends. It got to be truly spectacular – but by then I was on narrow, winding roads with no place to pull off for photos.
Monday, November 29: My Roadtrek and my cousins’ Pleasureway said goodbye to each other – and I said goodbye to the family remaining in the house, and I and the Roadtrek headed east and north. My first stop was for fuel in Las Vegas – no, not the one famous for casinos!
Then on across the eastern part of the state, leaving the Rockies (some of which were showing snow) and out onto the high plains.
Then it was on into
And then Kansas – although there was no marking of that state line; for a while there seemed to be equal numbers of license plates from Oklahoma and Kansas, and then they were mostly Kansas. I was back in cotton country, and then back to wind farms.
I ended the evening at Ford State Fishing Lake
just north of Dodge City, Kansas. Kansas State Fishing Lakes are a reason to visit Kansas all on their own – free camping, on water, usually quiet and dark, with level spaces, and the chance to kayak if time permits. Yes, it does say self-pay station – but there isn’t one, and from previous experience, and their web site, I didn’t expect to pay. Although I would have been willing to; this is a great value. I got in too late – it was already dusk, and the sun had set – so I ate dinner, knitted several rows, and went to bed.
Tuesday, November 30: Up before the sun, I went down to the water, taking photos before the sun got above the trees.
Then I got the kayak back in the camper, and drove and drove and drove; it clouded over, and I didn’t make many stops – and they weren’t scenic. I ended in Warrensburg, Missouri, to visit friends. There was a good sunset, but no good place to get its photo.
This was a day to get things done. My tasks for the day: get all the good napkins ironed after laundering,
get some knitting done, make a baby blanket for the incipient great grandson,
get some knitting done, start packing, get some knitting done, plot my route for the next couple of days, make the chocolate mousse for dessert. I would have taken a photo of the seven mousses, but it was time to eat, and I didn’t want to delay that! And I would be knitting now, but there are eight people between me and my knitting, watching a sci fi spoof movie (Galaxy Quest); I’d hate to get in the middle of that.
Saturday, November 27: Two carloads of us headed off to Shidoni. This compound includes a sculpture park, a gallery, a glass studio and shop, the foundry out back, and an interactive museum (closed today). It’s been years since I’ve been able to wander here – it’s been closed the last couple of times I’ve been to Santa Fe. Outdoors, sculpture is spread over several acres.
Here are some of the sculptures that caught my eye this time:
Then it was home for a while, for food and naps and recuperation. In the evening some of us took the long way to pick up pizza – going around downtown to see the lights. The Plaza lights are something you’d see in any over the top decoration, going for density rather than style; what makes the Southwest special is their farolitos (luminaria). These are plastic, now, except when people put the old style paper bag with candle inside ones out on Christmas Eve.
At least one part of my family has been on this continent for about 400 years. As far as I know, none of the ancestors were documented immigrants, or people indigenous to this land. I have a deep appreciation for the arts and cultures of the native peoples of this land, and my cousin has a nice collection of local indigenous pottery. I give thanks that my ancestors were tolerated by the people in the east who first lived in this place, and thanks that there is a deep tradition of beautiful pottery in the pueblo communities here.