All Categories - NM&AZ 2011
A = Chambersburgh, PA; B = Lexington, MA

A=Boone, NC; B=Chambersburg, PA
This year we were away from our boys on both Mother’s and Father’s Day.   They were great about calling on both occasions.    

It was raining heavily this morning so we decided that driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway in a downpour would just not be fun.

We headed for the interstate and started thinking thoughts of home.

We drove NORTH enjoying the North Carolina and Virginia countryside and before we knew it the sign said Welcome to West Virginia.   Another sign saying Welcome to Maryland appeared scarcely a half hour later.   We are now just over the Pennsylvania border snugly in our hotel room for the night in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  

We figure we can probably make it home by tomorrow.

We have travelled through 20 states in 51 days.

         Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey,

         Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado,

         New Mexico, Arizona, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas,

         Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, and


Fifty of those days were terrific.   That other day is a conglomerate of the half-day lost to the accident on June 9th and the half-day lost to extreme grumpiness a few days ago.

There will be more reflections to come.  

View from the Blue Ridge Parkway
Nice day for a drive.   It was 67 degrees with a slight breeze.   We rolled the windows down and opened the sunroof and tried to pretend we were driving a convertible.   Our speed was down to 40 mph to negotiate the twists and turns of the parkway.   The slower speed also allowed us to really take in the scene.

There was also a stop to see and buy crafts and one just to sit at a picnic table and have a hot cup of coffee.

We stopped and walked a mile to Linville Falls.   Then sat and just enjoyed the sight and sounds of the water spilling over and swirling among the rocks.   After a month in the Southwest all this water was a welcome sight.  

Tonight we are in Boone, North Carolina.

Nice dinner out at a place called the Hob Knob Farm Café.   Whenever we end up in a new town we check Trip Advisor on line for recommended restaurants.   They haven’t failed us yet.   It was a very eclectic menu with everything from Pasta, to Sushi to Burritos.    The waitress then recommended a nearby Frozen Custard shop called Custard Depot. The owner steered us toward ordering the plain vanilla as there was a fresh batch just coming out of the machine.    He was right.   Really good stuff.

Photos of Blue Ridge Parkway (placeholder)

Grumpy Day.   We were both tired and grumpy and took it out on each other.   Not a good thing.   We did manage to get the wash done and straightened up and rearranged the car.

Southern Highland Craft Center

By mid-afternoon we were back on a more even keel and went to the Southern Highland Craft Center.   First watching craftsmen do demonstrations of Block Printing and Paper Marbling.  Then we looked at the exhibits of student’s work as well as master craftsmen.
After that we checked out the happening scene in downtown Asheville.   Checking out the interesting shops and then had a very good tapas dinner in the charming outside courtyard of Zambra.  

Photos of Asheville and Craft Sites (placeholder)

Marsha sizing up the competition
First, we took Will to the airport for his 10 am flight. That flight left on time but was diverted to Grand Rapids to take on more fuel before heading to its original Detroit destination. Which, of course, meant he missed his connection and didn’t leave Detroit until 5 pm.   It was a very long day for him.   He kept us posted all day via texts and phone calls.

Before leaving Nashville visited President Andrew Jackson’s Home – The Hermitage.   1,000 acres of the original plantation has been preserved.    The mansion house took 17 years to build.  The Ladies Hermitage Association saved it from ruin in 1889 and they still operate the property today.   As a soldier and politician Old Hickory, did some good and unfortunately a great deal of bad.

He fought to present the advancement of a few at the expense of the many but unfortunately that applied to WHITE MEN.    His treatment of the Cherokee Indians in particular is tragic.    The house was bigger than Harry expected with large rooms and grand furnishings and wallpapers.  

Then we drove from Nashville and Asheville and had dinner at a TripAdvisor recommended Jamaican Restaurant called Nine Mile.  This place has really good food.   We were, however, probably the oldest people in the place.

Will and Sarah at the Parthenon
After a 6-hour drive we arrived in Nashville to dark storm clouds and some impressive flashes of lightning.  A quick downpour followed the lightning, which was the first rain we had seen in 6 ½ weeks.

After some quick photo ops at the local sports stadiums for Will we arrive at Sarah and John’s home (Marsha’s niece and her fiancé) a bit before our expected 4pm arrival time.   They are renting a very cute, well maintained and updated two-bedroom ranch in a nice neighborhood.  

Since the Boston Bruins were scheduled to play in the Stanley Cup Championship game at 7pm (Nashville time) we went out for an early dinner.  John was able to join us before his 6pm to 6am shift at the hospital.   They really do work interns hard.  

While driving to the restaurant it started to rain heavily and then to everyone’s surprise we experienced a mid-June hailstorm.   After some discussion about the proper way to describe the size of the hail we settled on Peanut M&Ms sized. 

The sky cleared by the time we arrived at the restaurant.   Sarah’s favorite the “Smiling Elephant”.   We had a great Thai dinner and John left for work.   We proceeded to Las Paletas, a Nashville Institution for Gourmet Popsicles.   It was quite yummy and the flavors are very unusual flavors.   I had the chocolate with peppers (hot that is).   

Sarah then took us to the Nashville Parthenon.   This copy of the Greek temple was originally built for the 1897 Nashville centennial celebration.   We made it back to her house in time for the game. While Harry and Will watched the game Sarah and I talked about their wedding plans and had a nice chat.

About an hours drive east of Oklahoma City we began to see green grass and trees.   This, for us, was interesting because it was something we hadn’t seen in great quantity for the 5 weeks. 

Then there were lakes.   We had been seeing lakes but they were the variety created by dams.   All these things were welcome sights.  The humidity and the flies and mosquitoes were not.

Fort Smith National Historic Site

The half-waypoint of our drive today was Fort Smith, Arkansas.  Since the Fort Smith National Historic Site is there we decided to stop for an hour.   The first fort on this site on the Arkansas River was built in 1817 to assist in quieting hostilities between the Cherokee and Osage nations.   In 1830 the Fort served as a stopping point on the forced migration of additional native tribes now known as the “Trail of Tears”.   Later the U.S. Government set up a federal courthouse at Fort Smith.   U.S. Marshalls were dispatched to arrest and bring to trial the outlaws who had been terrorizing the Indian territories.  

Photos of Fort Smith National Historic Site (placeholder)

William J . Clinton Presidential Library and Museum

We continued out drive to Little Rock and arrived in time to have Will spend the hour (before they closed) at the William J . Clinton Presidential Library and Museum.   Harry and I had been there before but still found it to be inspirational.   Will found much of interest including the special exhibit, which has items from the Smithsonian Collection relating to Elvis.  

We finished the day with an appropriate dinner at Little Rock’s award winning bar-b-q restaurant Whole Hog Café the #2 best restaurant in Little Rock, according to TripAdvisor.

Oklahoma City Memorial to those killed on April 19, 1995
Hot Hotter Hottest -  triple digit temperatures.

We had been in 100 + degree heat in Phoenix but now we were starting to experience a bit of humidity along with it.  

When we cross over the border in Oklahoma City I burst into song.

Ok – la – ho – ma . . .Oklahoma . . .OK    etc.    Then I wondered just how many other people in other cars crossing the border were being shushed by their travelling companions.   The answer is, of course, all of them.  

Somewhere along the road I saw a sign for one of the many Route 66 Museums in this part of the country and decided to pull off the Interstate and check it out.   So we headed into Elk City, Oklahoma to check it out.   The National (self named) Route 66 Museum paid tribute to Route 66 with a variety of exhibits.   The museum site also had many buildings moved there from other sites and arranged on the grounds like a small town.   It was pleasant to walk around and few the artifacts of days gone by despite the unbearable heat.

Back into the air conditioned car and we continued the trip to OKC.  After a short photo op for Will at the local stadium we went to the Oklahoma City Memorial at the site of the Murrah  Federal Building.  The outdoor memorial is simple and striking.   A simple reflecting pool with large stone gates at either end and the grassy slope where the building once stood.  One empty brass and glass chair for each life lost.   A building adjoining the site now contains a museum.   With great dignity and respect it tells the story of the site before 9:03 am that April morning and then the aftermath.  The hope is that those visiting will go away with the conviction to fight the ignorance that led to the bombing.

We made it to our hotel in time to order takeout and hunker down to watch the Bruins even up the Stanley Cup game tally at 3-3.

Marsha at Cadillac Ranch
We had an uneventful drive from Albuquerque to Amarillo.   After checking into our hotel we proceeded on to our planned events for the day.  A half hour drive brought us to Canyon, Texas and the Panhandle Plains Historical Museum PPHM.   Canyon is a small town with the big museum.   The museum has exhibits that range from the paleontology and geology of the area to those that center on transportation and western themes.   There is also, of course, a large exhibit on petroleum.  

Then we drove another half hour to the Palo Duro Canyon State Park for a real Texas event.   This was an evening of surprises. Discovering that the second largest canyon in the country is in the Texas Panhandle?

The volunteer greeters were at the gate to answer questions.   One older gentleman all decked out in his mock cowboy finery approach me and put his arm around me.  In his Texas drawl he noted that he thought I just might need the light jacket I had brought with me since the temperature probably would go down to 90 degrees by 10pm.    

Harry had read about this Musical on the net but really hadn’t shared much with the rest of us.   Everything was done in true Texas style – the setting, the story, the presentation.   The amphitheater is set is a natural basin with the Canyon.   The show is in its 46th season and grows bigger and more spectacular every year.   The cast has 60 actors, singers and dancers.   There are mounted horsemen, stagecoaches, and covered wagons.  There are fireworks and lots of special effects.    The story line is about the early settlers of the panhandle.  A real Texas outdoor extravaganza. 

Heading EAST today on Interstate 40.   Driving out the Albuquerque this morning the sun was filtering down through the clouds to create Jacob’s Ladders in front of Sandia peak.

Half way to Albuquerque we stopped at El Morro National Monument.   Twice before on our travels we had passed the sign on Interstate that indicated the turnoff to El Morro.   This was just something I could not do for a third time.   El Morro is a sandstone bluff (a headland) that has had for hundreds of years a reliable waterhole at its base.   Given the scarcity of surface water in this part of New Mexico this has made El Morro a popular campsite for hundreds of years.  Over the years the Puebloans, Spanish and American travelers carved petroglyphs, signatures, messages, and dates into the sandstone.  They all felt the need to in some way make a record of their presence at that place.   Its neat to walk along the cliff face and see the names of Spanish Conquistadors next to those of a settlers heading west.   The simple carving made by a native next to the names of the surveyors for the Union Pacific Railroad.  

After reaching Albuquerque we took Will to dinner at Sadie’s (see entry for May 22nd).   It wasn’t as good as the first time – we will hope that was because this time it was a busy Saturday night.