6280 miles later…

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…the Rogue pulled into its parking spot at home.  Before I wax philosophical about the magic of this journey, I want to share a couple of shots from my last day on the road. I stopped for gas in some little town in West Virginia and this view greeted me next to the station. Talk about a good omen for the day’s travels.


One of my last random stops was at a scenic overlook near the West Virginia / Maryland border.  There are a lot of pictures from that stop (yes, I promise, I’ll be adding the links to the Flickr albums soon!) but these are just a taste of the beauty I got to soak in.


There do not seem to be enough superlatives to describe this experience.  I saw awe-inspiring sights. I experienced the pain and joy of time spent just with myself and my own thoughts. I saw family and friends that I don’t see often enough. I worked every day. Most of all, I observed and I learned and I grew and I shrank. Yes, I know that is a confusing statement, but it is an accurate description.

I observed the majesty, beauty and quirkiness of getting off the beaten path and out of my comfort zone.

I learned about places in this great country that I did not know about. I learned about cultures and customs that I don’t interact with every day. I learned that we, as Americans, have way more in common than we have different and we need to start embracing that commonness and pushing away the forces that try to divide us through politics, ideology, religion, race, geography or other arbitrary metrics.

I learned that my way, my view and my beliefs should be challenged – regularly.  So should yours.

I observed the convenience, privilege and loneliness of wealth and the heart-breaking sadness and immense pride of poverty. Urban poverty is something most of us in the Northeast see or experience regularly, but seeing the poverty of a ramshackle RV, not even a home, but a travel trailer just parked in the middle of the desert, that houses a large family of Native Americans and is surrounded by the family’s herd of goats will give you a whole other view of poverty. And a whole other view of why it is so important that we start addressing some of the issues with compassion and respect instead of derision, annoyance and cruelty.

I learned that we will never be complete until we stop doing things the same way and seeing things through the same lens. Opening ourselves to tolerance, compassion and understanding means being willing to try to see things differently and requires getting off the highways and onto back roads; taking the time to talk to a stranger; searching for the beauty in everything; learning patience and most importantly, being willing to get both into and out of our own heads for a while.

Along with the beauty I saw, I took the time to talk to people – servers in local restaurants, the man or woman getting gas next to me, clerks in convenience stores, the woman washing her hands in the sink next to me at the rest stop. It is amazing what a simple smile, holding a door for someone or just general chit-chat will do for you and for someone else. I bought ice cream for kids whose mother was clearly having a rough day, had breakfast bought for me by a cowboy who was clearly flirting, and had a 95 year old woman give me the sweetest smile and say “God Bless You” when I helped her up a curb and held the door for her to enter the chapel. It really is about the little things in life.

I turned off the technology for large stretches of time (other than Waze – I love Waze! – go download it now!) and listened to the radio – music and talk. Hearing the farm report as the sun rises over Kansas is a great reminder that my life is not the same life everyone else has and I need to understand their lives too. I listened to local radio stations, including Sunday morning preachers, conservative talk shows and local NPR stations. I listened to the local news and weather. All of this exposure to things outside of my norm helped me see the gorgeous views through a new lens. Those tree-covered mountains took on new meaning when I heard about the wildfires close by. Those fields and farms took on new meaning when I listened to the grain price reports or saw the billboards and advertisements with the cost of farm machinery. Heck, even the wide range of gas prices ($1.85 to $2.65) was eye-opening to how others experience life.

Simple opening lines like “did you drive from Alaska?” to the family whose car had Alaska license plates and Trump bumper stickers create an opening for a fascinating discussion over a cup of coffee about their trip – yes they drove to New Mexico from Alaska! – and that the current rancor in politics was what prompted them to bring their kids down to see the lower 48. They are spending 4 months traveling the US with their final stop being Washington, D.C. and a visit with their Congressperson to share their views on what the President and Congress is doing right and wrong. We could not have been further apart on political positions, but they were thoughtful, articulate and clearly held their views with strong resolve. It was just a short chat, but they were willing to listen and discuss, not argue, and so was I. I believe we all, including their children (ages 10 and 12) whom they insisted participate in the discussion, learned something from each other. Getting a different perspective is always beneficial. To quote the father (I never did get their names) ” talking with someone who thinks different, does not mean you have to embrace or believe what they believe, it means you are smart enough to know that you are not always right”.  Wise words, indeed.

I grew by embracing my curiosity, instead of my fear. I shrank my perception of myself as the center of the universe. I grew my wonder. I shrank my anxiety. I grew my patience and tolerance. I shrank my limited viewpoints.

I shrank my willingness to accept intolerance, bigotry, racism and sexism.

I grew my love for this country and the wonderful people, of all shapes, sizes, colors, races, ideologies, religions, cultures, and beliefs who call this home.

This trip has come to a close but Rogue Tripping has not. There are many more adventures in my future, both near and far. I will be documenting them here.

I have one wish for all of you – experience something new, go some place new, meet someone new – Just get out of your comfort zone!


OKC to Louisville

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After rising to a stunning sunrise over Oklahoma, it was time to be on the road again. 

The journey included a stop in Louisville, KY to visit with family and I squeezed in a little sight-seeing.
One of the most fun things about this trip has been stopping at the historic, the beautiful, and the kitschy places along the way.  Fun places like this gift shop in the mountains of Missouri

Or the slightly odd, but oddly touching (and unfortunately closed) landmarks like Larry Baggett’s Trail of Tears Memorial. I would have completely missed this one had it not been for a chat with a local man while filling my gas tank.  Read the story in the link – it is fascinating!  Sadly this place is currently closed and in significant disrepair, but rumors are that someone has bought it and will be restoring it. Fingers crossed! We must keep these unique pieces of Americana – no matter how odd. These unique pieces of our history are part of what makes us who we are.

I only had a day in Louisville, but I made a couple of quick stops and drive-bys. I picked up a bottle of bourbon at one of Louisville’s craft distilleries for my son. There were many to choose from, but who can resist bourbon aged in port wine casks and a name like Angel’s Envy?

I live the painted city animals trend and was thrilled to find some in Louisville – horses, of course!

Louisville has beautiful old homes and everyone who knows me knows I love old architecture. A drive through Old Louisville gave me a satisfying view of many beautiful old homes like this one.

Of course, no trip to Louisville is complete without at least a drive-by of Churchhill Downs

The visit with my dad, step-mother and step siblings was short but full of love and fun. Before I knew it, it was time to get back on the road and head home.

Dodge City, KS & Oklahoma City, OK

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Fortunately the next phase of my drive was uneventful weather-wise. It was sunny and warm as I made my way through Kansas and Oklahoma.

The 1st stop of the day was in Dodge City. I was hoping to be at the Boot Hill Museum while there was a gun fight. I was a few hours early, so I passed on going through the museum and walked around taking photos instead. 

Dodge City has a historic strip where they have maintained a bit of the Old West charm – with a covered boardwalk running across the storefronts.  That walkway also has their walk of fame where I found this cool marker

I’m going to have to do some research and see if we are related.

Dodge City also had some really interesting street/pole signage. Where other cities might put up flags, they have these metal cut-outs and wood carved signs. Each one is a different scene. 

The other landmark in Dodge City is the 100th Meridian marker.  I was officially heading “back east”.

My 2nd stop of the day was an unplanned one. As I was traveling the back highways, I passed a sign for the Coronado Cross park. I was intrigued so I swung right in.

The cross marks the spot where Coronado’s exploration party celebrated Mass after crossing safely the Arkansas River. Beyond the size of the cross and the view, it was intriguing because of the history.  We all learned about Coronado’s explorations, but we think of him as being in Mexico and the American Southwest.  To contemplate that he actually explored the interior of the American continent as far north as Kansas and beyond, 100+ years before the Pilgrims landed, was eye-opening and thought-provoking.

After a little contemplation and prayer, I was back on the road to Yukon, Oklahoma – just outside of Oklahoma City. I was having dinner with my cousin and spending the night there.

Read the next post for my adventures in Oklahoma.


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Please tell me that you read that title with the song running through your head!

This was my first time back in Oklahoma in many years. Since most of my family lives in Texas, I make it there more often than its neighbor to the north. One of my cousins still lives here, about an hour from Duncan, Oklahoma, where we were both born. This stop was to visit with her.

Susie, her daughter, Isabella and I had some adventures yesterday. My cousin is a garden/landscape architect so we drove by one of her client’s house so I could see her work. (Gorgeous!)

Then we headed to the Oklahoma City bombing memorial. That was sobering. The memorial has a portion of the blasted wall at one end and a reflecting pool with the times etched on stone at both ends. The primary focus of the memorial is an open space with a chair for each of the victims. Their names are etched on a glass block under the chair. It is hard holding back tears when you realize there are several smaller chairs for the children who perished.  We also said a prayer at the smaller park across from the memorial. A parsonage had stood on that corner. That memorial has a statute of Jesus turning away from the blast surrounded by short black posts. A park ranger told us that the 21 posts stand for the 18 children and 3 unborn children killed in the bombing.  Tears flowed at that one.  The one uplifting part of the memorial is the Survivor Tree. It was the only tree that survived in the blast radius. It stands as a living, growing memorial to those gone and the strength of the human spirit.  If you ever find yourself in Oklahoma, go to the memorial – pay your respects and strengthen your resolve to fight intolerance and evil in our world.

Our rambling for the day wasn’t done though! Susie and I were both reminiscing about family visits to Bill’s Catfish in Waurika. I’ve eaten a lot of places, but no where has better fried catfish and hush puppies. So we made the 4 hour round trip to Bill’s and stuffed ourselves silly on catfish and hush puppies. Yes, you read that right – 2 hours down and 2 hours back. It is that good!!

On our way down to Bill’s, we had to drive through our hometown – Duncan, Oklahoma. Since we were there, we made a quick side trip to her old house (miss you Aunt Mary!), the elementary school Susie attended and where I went to 1st grade and just meandered through the town. We got to share our memories of being kids in a small town. It was pretty great.

It was a long day, but worth every minute and every memory.  Today, I was supposed to drive to my Dad and step-Mom’s house in Louisville, KY, but Tropical Storm Cindy’s after effects are covering almost all of my travel route. I’m letting Cindy move on her way and will be back in the car tomorrow headed to Kentucky.

Oklahoma is my birth state and where my mother’s family is from. I am part Choctaw Indian, along with a mix of other things. I’m proud to say that my name and birth date are recorded on the official rolls of the Choctaw Tribe. Being here is special. As much as being in Texas does, it  connects me with my roots, my heritage, the core of who I am. So I memorialized it with a gift to myself – a new pair of boots. 😊

Mountains, Fields & Thunderstorms – Oh My! 

Photo album –  Colorado / Photo album – Kansas & Oklahoma

Yes, that is Pike’s Peak in the background.  The nice thing about offering to take photos for other people is they will also take one of you. 😊

Yesterday, before I headed out of Colorado Springs, I spent a few hours exploring the Manitou Cliff Dwellings and the Garden of the Gods. 

The cliff dwellings are very well preserved and an interesting look at the homes of the Anasazi and Pueblo Indians. One tidbit I learned is that the dwellings are not in their original location. They were originally located in the Four Corners (where Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico meet) and were moved to this spot in Colorado. Despite the small lack of authenticity, they were still interesting to see and to photograph.  (again, I have a ton – I think I have taken 800+ so far – photographs that will be uploaded and links added to these posts)

My next stop was the Garden of the Gods Park. I was fascinated to learn that this is a city park, not a national or state park. There is no charge to enter the park and it has a driving route with lots of scenic pull-offs, as well as several hiking trails.  I spent some time on both. The rock formations, most of which have names, were massive, intimidating and exhilarating.  Along the way I chatted with other photographers (including 1 who was doing a lingerie photo shoot amongst all the tourists!), hikers, tourists, scout groups and even a real rock climber. I didn’t realize until she had walked off that I didn’t get a photo. I should have, her climbing gear was impressive!

The photo at the top of this post was taken at the Siamese Twins formation. The hole in the center has a perfect view of Pike’s Peak.  It was amazing to see the snow still on the top of the mountain! I wanted to take the cog railway to the top, but it is a minimum 3 hour trip and I needed to get on the road.

Colorado, you are beautiful! From your majestic mountains to the plains in the eastern part of the state.  The cloud formations over the fields were massive and looked so fluffy.  I knew that clouds like that had to be leading to something weather-wise.

Once I crossed over into Kansas, I found out!

Thunderstorms, strong winds and golf ball sized hail finally encouraged me to pull over in the first parking lot I came to. Fortunately, that lot was right next to a hotel. I had planned on car camping last night, but didn’t think it was wise in that weather, so I hopped online (Hotels.com – I love you!) and made a quick reservation.

A few hours of work, some time snuggled in bed with a book and a good night’s sleep has me raring and ready for today.

1st stop – Dodge City, KS for some siteseeing and then on to Oklahoma City to see my cousin.

Happy Trails all! I hope you are all planning your adventure.

Pro tip – get off the main highways. Take the smaller roads, drive through some small towns, stop at local restaurants and turn off the podcasts and videos and listen to the local radio stations and sing along. It will be good for your mind and your soul. Both will expand exponentially  with each mile that passes


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I have heard for years that Colorado was beautiful and some place not to be missed. Everyone who raved about the breathtaking beauty of Colorado was right!

Yesterday morning, I drove from the New Mexico border up to Denver. It is hard to find enough adjectives to describe the views of wide open plateaus, many full of grazing cows, being dramatically interrupted by the majestic Rockies.

There was even a bit of excitement. Driving up I-25, I started seeing work zone, reduce speeds signs. Given the ups & downs and twists & turns, it was no surprise that the signs and speed reductions started a few miles before the work zone. The next set of signs advised us to turn off two-way radios and cell phones that it was a blasting zone.  Shortly after the northbound lanes crossed over into the southbound lanes, creating one lane in each direction, they were stopping every vehicle to ensure that we turned off radios and cell phones because they were actively blasting! There was a rockslide the size of a house covering the northbound lanes. I wish I could have gotten a picture but there was nowhere to pull over and stop. Fortunately the rest of the drive was uneventful.

The majority of the day I was in meetings in Denver, so I didn’t really do any sight-seeing there, but I am looking forward to being back in October for the Women in Tech Summit and seeing more.

After the meetings, I drove back down to Colorado Springs to make a quick visit to the Air Force Academy and to do some sight-seeing this morning before I head off to see my cousin in Oklahoma City.  My next post will be from my birth state!

Good morning from Colorado!

This lunch at Kachina in Denver was photo-worthy – Pretty and delicious! Green Chili, Chicken Frybread Taco and Grilled Cactus Salad with grilled cherry tomatoes and avocado.

The views at the Air Force Academy are stunning and the architecture of the Cadet Chapel is inspired.

The Land of Enchantment – New Mexico

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For all the times I have driven through southern New Mexico, this was my first time actually spending time in Santa Fe. Can someone please tell me what took me so long?  More on my afternoon in Santa Fe in a moment. First a few observations about New Mexico in general.

It really is the Land of Enchantment. I started the morning in the oil fields and desert of Artesia. Then a quick stop for a photo in Roswell. Unfortunately my route didn’t take me by the unique haunts of the UFO enthusiasts, but hopefully next time!  The middle of the day was in the forested mountains in Santa Fe and I closed the day driving the grassy flatlands of northern New Mexico. I’m spending the night in Raton surrounded by mountains about 20 miles from the Colorado border. So many different landscapes and views. It was awe-inspiring.

Santa Fe was everything I could have imagined and more. Quaint, beautiful, artsy, historic and a place I need to spend much more time. I probably saw 5% of everything I would want to see. I window-shopped the streets till I was at the Plaza and the Palace of the Governors. Since it was a Sunday, the Plaza was full of people just relaxing, tourists like myself wandering and Native American vendors selling handmade crafts. I got to sit in the Cathedral Basilica of St Francis Assisi and listen to a choir, see old adobe houses and visit an old Spanish mission. I also had a very pleasant surprise. Some of you may have heard the story of the miracle staircase in Loretto Chapel. It turns out Loretto Chapel is in Santa Fe! It was a beautiful chapel and a fascinating architectural achievement.  There was so much more to see and experience, but it was time to get back on the road and get ready for tomorrow’s meetings in Denver.

Enjoy these photos. More later after I have uploaded them. New Mexico, you were beautiful and intriguing. I will be back!

Welcome to Roswell! From the Roswell Chamber of Commerce.

I can’t wait to come back and spend time in the museums on Museum Hill in Santa Fe.

Loretto Chapel is beautiful.

Mountains and grasslands (and cows!)

Texas – Part 3 & New Mexico! 

Photo album – Texas /  Photo album – New Mexico

I have a plea, or a challenge, whichever will most motivate you. Get out of your comfort zone. Go places you have never been. Do things you have never done.  Get a paper map open it, close your eyes, pick a spot and go there.  Want to reconnect with your faith? See the diverse majesty of this world of ours.  Want to really learn? Explore – see new places, things and people.  Get out of your neighborhood / city / state / same old places you go to vacation or shop.  Even a visit to the next town over that you just drive through will change your perspective on the world. Better yet, go a few hundred (or a few thousand!) miles!

What prompted this plea? As of this morning, not including the cruise, I have driven ~2700 miles. I am just over half of the way through this journey.  I have watched vegetation, landscapes, architecture and accents change. I met people from all walks of life. I’ve chatted with gas station employees, store clerks, waiters and other shoppers, diners, truckers  and travelers.  It has been exciting, relaxing and exhilarating.

So what have I learned? We are all pretty much the same and fantastically, wildly different. This country and world of ours is breathtakingly beautiful – whether it is tall trees and mountains, fields, or deserts, buttes and scrub brush.

If you will just take the time to see it, it will enrich your view and your life. It will change you in the most wonderful ways.

Yesterday, was spent driving from San Antonio, through the hills of central Texas into the desert of West Texas and southern New Mexico.  The only words for it are big and breathtaking.  It was quiet and peaceful, yet has a wild vibrancy that touches the soul.

There are pictures on my camera, but not as many as I had planned.  At once particularly scenic point, I pulled off the highway to capture the beauty. As I was taking pictures, I heard the tell-tale rattle of my worst nightmares (I HATE snakes!). Fortunately, I didn’t see him, but I jumped back in my car and took off so fast, I probably looked like a cartoon character. That was the end of roadside pictures for the day!

So enjoy these few for now and there will be more later.  Today, I am off to explore Santa Fe!

Yes, it gets a little warm in West Texas…

Winds of change 

The best part about this road trip is with only a few exceptions for work or family obligations, I don’t have to be in any specific place on a specific day.  

My original plans were to head from San Antonio out to the Grand Canyon. But…while sitting in a lot of traffic yesterday, I got to thinking.  I have seen the Grand Canyon, more than once, but what have I not really seen much of out this way. 

I have to go to Denver for work, but other than that, I can head anywhere that sends me in that general direction. 

So, instead of going to the Grand Canyon, I am heading to New Mexico, specifically Santa Fe.  

I also made some other adjustments to the rest of the trip. 

Here is roughly the new route. But just like the wind and weather can change, so can my mind and the direction I decide to go! 

Texas – Part 2

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Quick side note – yes, my new camera as been getting a lot of use. Between visiting, working & trying to relax a little, I have not gotten time to pull and the 600+ pictures currently on the camera card. As soon as I do that, they will he posted in albums on Flickr and I will update each post with a link to the relevant album.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Yesterday was a whirlwind. I drove from my cousin’s in Las Colinas (for those not familiar with Dallas, it is on the northwest corner) down to San Antonio. It is approximately 300 miles.  I told you Texas is BIG!

Along the way I made a few stops (and am kicking myself for not taking pictures at some of them!).

1st stop was in West, Texas for kolaches! Stop 2 was for my soon-to-be daughter-in-law. She is a big fan of “Fixer Upper” so I stopped in Waco and took some photos at Joanna and Chip Gaines’ store, Magnolia. Unfortunately I was there before it opened, but I was able to get Ashley a beautiful coffee mug from the bakery.  And with great willpower and a belly full of kolaches managed not to walk out with boxes of yummy looking cupcakes.

The next two stops are the ones I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures! I stopped in Belton/Temple and visited with my step-sister and her family. Next stop was in Austin for a quick visit with my niece and her kids.

Here is one fun thing I did snap a quick photo of – because only in Texas do they sell grills in the shape of cows – at the grocery store!! Yes, they are metal and yes, they are real grills.

Then it was on to San Antonio for dinner and an overnight stay with friends from high school. I still can’t believe it has been almost 35 years since I graduated! When I get to see these ladies, it feels like no time has passed. Thanks Michelle, Kim and everyone else who joined us for dinner for the fabulous time. Thanks Michelle for the hospitality! And yes, that photo is a flight of margaritas!

After a relaxing and fun night, it is Onward with the adventures!