Its one of those days!

I’m busy the last three days of this week taking care of my grandson in Phoenix. Because of his autism issues he is not able to stay at the daycare he had been in for this school year. But his mom still needs to work so I am splitting caregiver duties with a woman my daughter met through her church until the end of the school year. Miss Diane has Monday and Tuesday, I have Wednesday through Friday.

But this leaves hubby on his own for three days! Oh my, the trouble that man could get into. 😱

It was a perfect storm of injury making reactions. Charlie and I were getting ready to run to the store yesterday afternoon to snag some ice cream and were in the garage when the garage door started to lift! Whoa, that surprised both of us. I was opening my car door to throw my purse in the seat, at the same time I called out “Charlie, it’s mommy!” He rushed past me and slammed into the inside of my open car door and ping ponged between the side of the car and the door, then fell back on the floor!! I was horrified and he was hurt and screaming. I gathered him up against me as his mom pulled into her spot. He finally calmed but was not a happy guy.

But he did want to get ice cream. 😊🍦

Fortunately. after a trip to the Walmart for ice cream, a discounted Easter basket and some nutellla snacks he was feeling pretty good. This morning he has a knot on his head, a scratch on his ear, and a scrape on his cheek, but he says he is fine.

Life with a busy four year old.

Cheers!

-N

 

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Nerdy travel things

Most families who do road trips have the nerdy things they do, things kid remember when they are older and may incorporate into their own road trips as grownups.

Ours is signs! continental divide sign

Not just any signs but signs that tell a story about our trip. We try to catch the state signs as we cross the border. Most times it works, but occasionally, especially on bumpy roads or at night, the picture is blurry.

There are some signs we always try to get like the continental divide or time zones, or the one that makes you wonder “huh?” Bat cave

 

During our trip across country we saw a lot of interesting things, but the most startling were in the panhandle area of Florida, and the surprising evidence that remained of Hurricane Michael from last October. I just read this morning that this hurricane was upgraded to a category 5 and after our drive through its damage path I am not surprised.

The huge stumps of massive trees ripped from the ground, the ripped and tossed interstate signs, and houses and barns that looked like they exploded gave hubby and I pause at the power of nature’s fury. Interstate 10 was closed for quite a while due to downed trees and storm debris. Huge swaths of land were cleared where trees had been uprooted.

I’ve enjoyed road trips, mostly, especially when I go places I’ve never been and this trip took us through areas of our country that are the polar opposite of southern Arizona. I dug it!! Especially when we have plenty of time for side trips. We hit several places indicated in our National Parks Passport. This really gives us an even more diverse travel experience.

So now I have memories from which to compose, what I hope are interesting narratives, and photos of locations that might make you curious to go see for yourself.

So here we go…

Cheers!

-N

 

I’m Back!!

Well fantastic followers, after two weeks and nearly 4,000 road miles later I am finally back online and ready to blog. I have a ton of photos and stories to share with everyone. Still getting the pics downloaded and sorted so it will probably be a series of blogs.

Hubby and I had fun visiting (in order round trip from Arizona) New Mexico, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, ending back home in Arizona of course.

Our sweet little 15 foot travel trailer we have fondly named “Daisy” performed exceptionally well. She is a vintage 1982 Sport and we look forward to sprucing her up. We got a lot of attention and great comments about her.

We spent a week with Aaron and Chelsea. Hubby and son working on some RV repairs, going to Epcot, Magic Kingdom, and Animal Kingdom at DisneyWorld, watching Chelsea be excellent in a production of Beauty and the Beast, and eating way too many donuts!

Our place and our pets were well cared for by Heather Herman, with help from Kristopher and Trinity. It was such a relief not to have to worry about anything. Millie was crazy to see us again, and Cleo was mildly interested that we returned.

I finished the laundry, we’ve got most of everything put away, Daisy is cleaned out and now it’s the getting back to normal.

More to come!

Cheers!

-N

Hungry While Passing Through Catalina AZ?

Catalina is a rural village, just north of Tucson on Hwy 79. We have a beautiful view of the Santa Catalina mountains and are far enough from Tucson that the only signs are the bedroom community aspects of traffic and new construction. As is usual in communities like ours we don’t have all the dining options a metropolitan area would have.

However…

We do have a little gem called It’s Greek to Me. It is the best. The food is fresh, and prepared with love. The atmosphere is like sitting in the dining room of a Greek family home, with wonderful smells, laughter, children’s voices, and people enjoying the music. It is a place where you can sit at your table for however long you want, no rushing your meal. The wait staff, which can include the couple who own it, are super friendly and accommodating. 

Hubby and I we there last Friday for a late lunch. It is like visiting with friends. The owners David and Kaitlyn are hands on, cooking, serving, and going out of their way to  make the best dining experience possible. Their toddler son, was asleep in his playpen while his pregnant mom cooked – this is the way it goes in this family oriented place. She is due in June.

Kaitlyn had told me, whenever I came in, to ask if they had mussels, which I did. I was thrilled to hear an affirmative response! Yep, I ordered them in red sauce, along with a glass of a dry Greek (Skouras Saint George) red wine. Perfect!!

The lovely Rebecca was an attentive and friendly server. She enjoyed how much we loved our food, which feels wonderful to a customer.

Hubby had the Gyro Platter, always a favorite, for his meal. We started off with the hummus (so good) and warm pita bread, cheese and olives. They don’t scrimp on the portions so I had to go easy to make room for my mussels.  

We dug in and had a wonderful and extremely filling meal. I highly recommend the honey yogurt cake😋. It was my mother’s favorite. A side note, they have very fresh and wonderful vegan/vegetarian options as well.

This place is worth making a special stop in Catalina. Check out their website to see a menu, and don’t blame me if you get hungry.  https://itsgreektomecatalina.com/

Cheers!

-N

(no compensation was received for post)

Looking for Cochise

I love historical research. I love history – that’s probably why I enjoy writing historical fiction. This past weekend hubby and I spent two days scouring the southern Chiricahua mountains for the site of a firefight between the US Army and Cochise’s Chiricahua Apaches in 1869.

My fictional Army officer will be engaged in this event. I had questions about the location, and after searching through books and historical papers I managed to pinpoint the place I needed to see. To put myself in my character’s mind, explore his emotions, and find out who he would be after this was over, seeing the location was important for the story.

Much to her great pleasure Millie came along on the road trip, riding comfortably on her bed in the back seat. 

There was so much for her to see and smell, so much to experience. She was so good, and when we stopped for pictures or to explore she was happy to do her own research of the area. 🙂 

Rucker Canyon was where we were heading. It runs between the Chiricahua Mountains to the north and the Pedregosa Mountains to the south west. The creeks were running thanks to snow melt, and the dirt roads were well maintained, with a few places I wouldn’t want to drive on if they were wet.

  My driver did a good job getting me where I wanted to go, and he loved exploring those crude trails disguised as roads. I’m not so fond of the bouncing around on these, but he was having a great time.

Considering we were very close to the international border we saw this sign going either direction. Gave me pause. 

Using our topo map and the references, we were able to pin point the bluff where the Apache warriors held off the US Army. This series of fights lasted for a month beginning in October, and resulted in both sides suffering injuries and loss of life. It also prompted Cochise to examine the cost to his people of the continued fight against the whites.  He was dead five years later.

Walking the area where these two groups struggled to control the land was profound for me. The area is a pristine, rugged, and beautiful wilderness area of oaks and junipers. The bluff was found by us, and we spent time examining it and imagining the humans surrounding it, climbing, it, hiding behind its peaks, and moving in a strategic dance of combat. I was thrilled.

Left – from the south, right – from the north.

The south view was a steeper approach the Army attempted but were pushed back by the well entrenched Apaches.

The Army circled around to the north side which was a gentler slope, but still unapproachable. It was this activity that leads to my character’s encounter with a warrior and a crisis moment for him and his life going forward. After a bit more driving and a bit of hiking hubby suddenly stopped and said, “Here, it happens here.” He found a perfect place for the confrontation. In this area there were signs of human presence at least 100 years old. Nancy was in her happy place!!

Down this slope my character will struggle and his life will change. At the bottom is a creek, and beyond that a meadow lined with trees that are good cover for the warrior.

Boy did Millie like this place. She could wander and discover, glancing back at us to make sure we were near.

It was getting late, so we headed out for Douglas, Arizona and to the ranch home of old family friends of hubby. When I say old friends, I’m talking before marriages and kids, my father-in-law and Mr. Christiansen were BFF’s.

This ranch house was built in early 1960, and is one of the most comfortable, and welcoming homes I’ve visited. We chatted, laughed, looked at books and photos, walked around the land, and hubby’s memories were tickled. Millie loved this as well. She had plenty of room to run, sniff, and do her business. Our beautiful hostess, Mrs. Ursula Christiansen, made us comfy, fed us, and loved Millie. Ursula, born in Germany, married an American military man, and moved to this country. I asked her what she thought of southern Arizona when she arrived and she said she wanted to see Indians, she didn’t realize they were on reservations.

The two German girls got on pretty well. They’d had German Shepherds on the ranch, and she missed them. I think Millie sensed that. After a good nights sleep, Ursula wanted to take us to her favorite Mexican restaurant – El Pato (The Duck.) Chuck and I loved it, fresh and delicious Sonoran food.

Ursula was greeted warmly by the lovely owner Alba, she introduced us, and we ordered. If you ever get to Douglas, AZ go see Alba at El Pato.

 After our wonderful meal, and full bellies we headed back to the mountain for a few hours, then home.

My mind was racing with ideas, scenes, and plots. I can give the writing an authentic feel, and take the reader into the action with authority.

The best part was the chance to be there, on the spot, in the location, walking the same paths, seeing the same landscape, being in history, and becoming my character.

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

 

Memphis, Yeah I’ve Been There😎 part 2

Memphis…music, people, food, music. It is a remarkable place. Yes the Mississippi River is muddy, broad, and moves forcefully past this amazing city.

But it is the inside of the town. The guts, the brain, the voice of a place filled with the passage of people and time that grabs you. I really dug it.

The sidewalks were well worn. The stores and club fronts showed the appearance of years of bodies leaning against them to get out of the heat or rain and watch humanity pass by. Beale Street had the character and style of an old railroad car with a fresh coat of paint. While we were there part of the street was cordoned off for a mass of bikers, a bikers meet and greet if you will. 

There were dozens of bikes, with riders milling around, laughing, drinking, smoking, and calling out to people passing by. It was friendly and fun.

I was raised by a man who loved motorcycles, and when I see one, especially a Harley, I am warmed by memories of riding with my dad. I wanted to get right down in the middle of them. 😍

Beale St is full of music.

Passing clubs, pubs, and bars the music pours out, drenching the sidewalk with jazz, blues, rock, and country. The first three are the ones I wanted to hear. I craved sittingt near the stage listening to live musicians give it their all. We popped into several establishments on our way to the place I wanted to be.

BB Kings House of Blues. Yeah dog! I did that. That’s me and BB Kings guitar. The food was good, we took our time, and then Corey Osborn and his band took the stage. It was a religious experience.

Corey was a teenage prodigal guitarist when BB King discovered him. We sat through two or three hours of food and music. Hubby and I were loving it. We met him and his band, bought a CD and had it autographed by them all. Looking back it was a special moment in time because only a few years later Corey was killed in a car accident. It’s hard to find his music now. That CD is really special.

Elvis was there too, in music, and memorabilia.

Even a musical note on the sidewalk bears his name. We left BB Kings and walked around in the evening, lots of lights shining and people milling around, such atmosphere in this city by the Mississippi River.

We asked for a random guy to take our picture together, he laughed and told hubby to cozy up to that woman!

He did and it was a wonderful memory of the park across the street from the House of Blues.

I would love to go back and spend more time there. The food, music, and history of this city is compelling, exciting, and covers you in mood. That mood is up to you.

 

Cheers!

-N

 

Memphis, Yeah I’ve Been There 😎 part 1

When we realized how close we were and that we had enough time, hubby and I took off for Memphis from Tulsa. We were in Tulsa, Oklahoma for a family reunion, so in our rental car we started east. This trip was full of some amazing and interesting places along the round trip. I had never been to the Ozarks or Little Rock. Never been to Arkansas. We got to Memphis, having spent a lot of time deciding what we would want to see. I had two places that were must see for me: Graceland and Beale Street. Fortunately hubby was with me on those. We also wanted to get some Memphis BBQ.

Graceland, what can I say. My parents were huge Elvis fans, they took us to every movie, listened to his music and we loved to hear the story dad told about meeting him in Paris while he was stationed in Germany. I had to go and I was so glad I did. It was great.

The business of Elvis is vast. When we arrived we parked, bought our tickets and waited for the shuttle to Graceland. Elvis Presley Blvd is a tree lined, busy road with the Elvis complex – a huge museum across the street from Graceland, and his private aircraft parked there, available for tours.

My favorite was the mansion itself, and I was a bit surprised at it’s size. It appears larger in photos, but it was still majestic. It is a time capsule, a trip into the late 1970’s. The carpet, the furnishings, the TV’s, it was so special. As we walked in, our tour group, a chatty group of humans suddenly hushed, gasped, and sighed. Almost in an orchestrated manner. We stood, heads turning, mouths open and we took in this place, this shrine, this home.

It sparkled and shone, the glass free of prints, nary a speck of dust, nothing out of place. Yes, we all felt the fortune of being one of thousands who have passed through the columns flanking the open door.

The first thought I had was my favorite Elvis song “Return to Sender.” I started humming it as we passed though the house. The kitchen had appliances, counters, and arrangements were typical of the Brady Bunch house!😉 Then we were at the jungle room. OMG, I loved it!!

The TV room was also so cool, with yellow and blue,

TV’s banked the walls.

I could picture Elvis and his “mafia” gathered on the long couches.

Part of the grounds are a museum filled with movies, costumes, photos and his gold and platinum records.

We used devices that narrated the displays. I enjoyed it. Those costumes blew me away.

When we came out I saw the pool, then realized we were at

his grave.

He was flanked by his parents and as you can see it was filled with flowers and mementos from visitors. The thing I noticed was the murmuring of the crowds. It wasn’t noisy.

The museum had cars, ones of his videos running, and his music filling the cavernous museum.

We also went out to where his plane, the “Lisa Marie” was parked. It was set up for comfort and as his home, very colorful. When I was living in Texas, I saw it parked at Meacham Field in north Fort Worth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We spent a wonderful day in a magic place, then that evening found a fun diner where we enjoyed their memorabilia and in Elvis’ favorite fried pickles.

Next is Beale Street.

Cheers!

-N

 

Really? A Winery Here?

That’s what I exclaimed as hubby and I were driving back through Arkansas toward Tulsa from Memphis. We tend to travel the back roads when possible because you never know what and who you will find. If we like something we will grab a bottle or two to bring home, and if they sell them a couple of wine glasses.

We drove west out of Clarksville, AR on old hwy 64, crossed I-40, passed through Hartman and Coal Hill, and unbeknownst to us were entering Arkansas wine country. I will admit it was simply beautiful. The green hills along the Arkansas River running south of the Ozarks blew me away. After passing a couple of signs for wine tasting I said lets stop at one of them. He was onboard, so we stopped at the Post Familie Winery in Altus, AR. It was a very friendly tasting room, rustic and comfortable. They had a couple of good dry wines. A Seyval (similar to a savignon blanc) that I liked (rare for me,) and a red I had never tried but enjoyed, a Chambourcin.  We bought a couple of bottles.

FYI, I am a dry red wine fan. I love a really good Cabernet Savignon.

Another time I said the same thing was on the southern tip of the Big Island, HI. We drove south out of Kailua-Kona where we had been staying for seven days and heading to a B&B in Volcano for a couple of nights. The two-lane highway wound and twisted through the most brilliantly colored flora and vivid green trees and ferns I had ever seen. This desert girl was enraptured. We saw a sign for Volcano Winery! We had enjoyed the best coffee and now a winery. I was ready to toss my return ticket in the lava. The wines in Hawaii have amazing fruits blended into the grapes, very floral. They packaged very nicely for us the three bottles we brought back.

Hubby and I had a great trip with our destination actually in the middle of the whole vacation. We headed to Red Lodge, MT for a family reunion which took us through Arizona, Utah, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and New Mexico. We used our National Parks Passports to find places to visit on our travels. We were pulling a fifth wheel so we could stop in RV parks or road side rest areas, and the occasional Walmart boon-dock. On our way through Nebraska (on a back road) we found an RV park and a winery in a small town near Scotts Bluff in western Nebraska. The winery has since closed and I don’t remember the name. I will admit these were not the best overall wines, but there were a couple we liked and brought some bottles back with us.

The Arizona wine country has some award winning bottles, and the area is in the rolling hills of Southeastern Arizona. Many of the vineyards were started with vines from Napa, Sonoma, and Europe. You drive south out of Tucson to Sonoita, AZ on AZ-83. In Sonoita you will find some retailers who can provide maps to the area wineries. There are also a few in the Willcox area. I really like Coronado Winery, Flying Leap, and Kief-Joshua the best. Many of these have their own vineyards and supplement with area grown grapes from different vineyards. If you are in Southern Arizona and have the time it is worth the trip through the area.

With a road trip coming up in a few months we are looking forward to finding new wines to try and fill our Passport to the National Parks book with some new stickers and cancellations!

Cheers!

-N

 

 

 

A Guide to Adventure

You are sitting in the break room, cafeteria or a common area at work, your personalized cup of coffee with stevia and cream in hand, waiting. You know that one person will be back today with another stunning vacation story and unbelievable photos. They never fail to deliver an amazing narrative of an over the top adventure. We are jealous of them, envy them, and want to go with them on the next trip! They usually bring back fun and interesting tokens to hand out: chocolates from Belgium, Kona coffee from the Big Island, a colorful silk scarf from Morocco, a crocheted bookmark from Venice, a cartouche with your name in hieroglyphics from Egypt.

There is always that one human blessed by the adventure fairy. 🚵‍♀️

Most of us, however, have also experienced that annoying person who believes everyone is jonesing to see their 789 personal photos of the trip to Uncle Georges’ funeral. 😜 We avoid them, or say we are in the middle of project, or sorry just leaving, or as one guy I knew would say, “pick out the best ten and come back.” I could never do that. 🤦‍♀️

Hubby and I discovered an easy way to make our trips more interesting, memorable, and entertaining. We use our Passport to the National Parks to find never discovered or our “long to visit” locations.

If you have never heard of it I’m gonna give you the 411. We started our Passport journey with the small book on the right. Once the adventures started, we filled so many pages completely, we upgraded to the binder on the left.

Inside are guides to the wonderful, informative, and historic locations in our great nation. At each of these locations is a place where you can get your book stamped with the date and place, just like a travel passport! Also at these locations you can purchase beautifully made stickers for the location you visited. Hubby and I check the Passport when we plan a trip, to see what is along the route and in the area of our destination. This enhances our trips.

Another thing that hubby loves are collectible pins which you can be purchased. You learn history and geography as you meet others while visiting these fantastic locales.

These are great wedding and baby shower gifts too. We helped start several friends on their Passport journeys this way. You can purchase the books at gift shops and visitor centers at the various locations.

On one trip hubby and I made to Chiricahua National Forest, we had just pulled into the visitor center parking lot, when out of another car two boys jumped and raced each other to the stamp kiosk, excited to get their books stamped.  Another time we visited Niobrara National Scenic River in Nebraska, a place we had never heard of and would have not found without our books. It had been months since someone had been to the visitor center, so they had to change the date on the stamp, and re-ink the pad.

The link below will take you to a page with lots of information and descriptions so you can start your adventure.

Cheers!

-N

https://www.eparks.com/store/department/30/Passport-Program/

(No compensation was received for this post.)

 

 

The New Year is Here!

Today Christmas left the building. One thing I really wanted to do was organize all of my Christmas decorations into better groupings of items and themes. It was fun, and hubby helped, with no arguments!! His help made it go so fast I can honestly say we whittled it down significantly in the number of Christmas storage tubs. Also the tree ornaments were separated by type, and packed by theme. Next year I want to have a small real tree to compliment our big artificial one. The small one will be angels, stars, and snowflakes. The big tree will be all of the rest of them. I may get a small table top artificial one for the non-sparkly decorations. I am considering it.

Charlie spent Christmas with us, then he came back for New Years so his mother could finish last minute stuff without him underfoot (you can imagine the havoc an almost four year old can wreak) and also get a break before the school year starts.

Christmas was fun with Charlie. He was very patient while waiting to open his presents. When we said it was time to open gifts he celebrated. He did pretty well this Christmas and then when he came back to our house for second time it snowed on New Years day. And he loved it!

He discovered he could eat snow, and throwing a snowball at me makes me jump. (Insert him laughing hysterically.)

So, we are four days into 2019 and the best I can say is it feels like winter here in southern Arizona, and my house is Christmas free 😁👍 .

I hope to upgrade my blog by the end of the month. My Twitter and Instagram pages will stay the sames. Facebook will have a big change for my current author page. It is connected to my personal page and I cannot separate it. Instead I will set up a whole new one and move everything over to that page. This will take some fancy footwork on my part but it is part of making a more professional footprint of my internet presence.

Good luck all and I hope 2019 will be stellar for all!

Cheers!

-N