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!


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I know the Rogue has been quiet this week, but she has been BUSY! After some fun exploring and some very productive meetings in New Orleans (can’t wait till I can tell you more about that!), we headed off to Texas. Most of you know Texas is home for me and the vast majority of my family lives there.

After driving across Louisiana in some horrible rain storms – think 20 mph on the highway with everyone’s flashers on and wipers at full speed because you can’t see the cars in front or in back of you – those kind of storms. I finally gave up & stopped in Jennings, LA for the night. 30 minutes later, the storms stopped. Oh well! I got a good night’s sleep at least.

The next morning, it was on to Houston for an overnight visit with my aunt & uncle and my dad & stepmom.  Then I was on my way to the Dallas metroplex to see the rest of the family.  I spent a fun 3 days driving all over Dallas and seeing aunts and cousins. Of course, this Cowboys fan got herself a new tshirt while she was there!

Next post is Texas – Part 2.  It is a big state and I have lots of family and friends there!

Cruisin & boozin…

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Well, cruising and a little boozing.  I spent the last 5 days on the Carnival Triumph out of New Orleans to Cozumel and Progreso.  Lots of great food, lots of laughs with my nieces, nephews, brother and sister-in-law, lots of pictures taken and, unfortunately, a LOT of motion sickness meds. I am back in NOLA combining a little work and play for the next couple of days. Bonus: a amazingly low rate at my favorite hotel – The French Market Inn.  This is the 6th time in the last 20 years I have stayed at this hotel.  Quaint, historic, right in the Quarter, but far enough off Bourbon to not be too crazy.

More on the cruise and New Orleans later. Right now, I’m off to find some gumbo and red beans and rice! I worked up quite an appetite exploring the Garden District (my favorite spot in NOLA).

Enjoy these few pictures from my phone and I’ll add more when I download them from my camera.

Every trip to New Orleans has to start with beignets & cafe au lait.

This was a sort-of honeymoon for my Dad and new stepmom, Sue, so we made sure their cabin was appropriately decorated.

Once we were out of the Mississippi River, the water was soooo blue.  I want to live where it looks like this all the time!

We spent our day in Cozumel at Mr Sancho’s – a really cool, all-inclusive beach resort. All you could eat and all you could drink – we made sure we got our monies worth!

My brother’s three kids always make me laugh and smile. Hannah is my mini-me; Jared is the entertainer; Ethan, the oldest celebrated his 20th Birthday on-board with a surprise cake set up by his girlfriend, Amanda. 

We were trivia and bingo champs!

The best part was spending time with my amazing brother and his family. 

Now, will someone please buy me one of these houses so I never have to leave New Orleans! 😊

Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, TN 

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Forgive the slightly out of order post!

How often are you driving down the highway, headed from point A to point B, when you see a sign for some place that sounds interesting? You think “that sounds cool, maybe, I’ll stop there one day”.  But that day rarely comes.   We really have to stop doing that! Take the few minutes and the slight detour. You never know when you might get the chance again.

Yesterday, when I saw the sign for Bristol Motor Speedway, I took the detour. The speedway was closed, but it was exciting just to stop and look.

A little farther down the road, the signs for Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls and Rock City started appearing. The adventurer in me, said, Why Not!

After the winding drive up the mountain, I decided to skip the lines at Ruby Falls and Rock City. Instead I stopped at Point Park – the Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park.  I have to give a big shout-out to the National Park Service.  This park is beautiful and educational. The period appropriately dressed guides are engaging and informative. I even got to see and hear a musket and cannon being fired!

I have a bunch of photos to download from my camera that I will add to this post later, but here are a few that are on my phone.

The view from Lookout Mountain is stunning.  What struck me as much as the view was listening to the park rangers tell the stories of the Civil War battles that happened in the area. Looking down the mountain and imaging battalions of soldiers scaling that steep face.  It left me awestruck.

It also set the tone for much of the rest of yesterday and today’s drives. Imaging our forefathers and mothers crossing the harsh, unforgiving, early beauty of this country with only their feet, horses or wagons to carry them. Certainly puts our first-world problems into perspective.

Mississippi & Louisiana

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Day 3 was a short drive – Mobile, AL, through Mississippi, to New Orleans.

Or more accurately, the south shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Other then a couple of quick rain storms, it was an easy, uneventful drive over the bayous.

Best part is the RV park I am staying at – Ponchartrain Landing.  It a gorgeous park with tons of amenities & a great restaurant.  Yay, for a hot shower and this amazing meal.  Pssst…that is sangria made with honey bourbon.  

Not only do they have fully equipped RV sites, but also a hotel and villas.  Great spot! I highly recommend it.

Even if my “camper” is dwarfed by the campsite.  LOL!

Virginia, Tennessee & Alabama – Day 2

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Day 2 was looong! From Bristol, VA to just north of Mobile, AL with a great side trip. (See the Lookout Mountain post for details).

The 1st half of the day was beautiful. The 2nd, not so much.  Heavy rain made for slow driving so I didn’t get to my stopping point till late. A quick “camp” set up (hanging the curtains over the windows) and I was out for the count.

Things I discovered on Day 2’s drive –

Reveling in the wonder of nature is a glorious thing.

I still have a near paralyzingly, irrational fear of driving over bodies of water in the dark – even worse in blinding rain in the dark. It was mid-day today before my knuckles were no longer white.

This journey is amazing already.

Photos from Day 2 –

Yes, driving a car on this track is a bucket list item!

Of course, I had breakfast at Waffle House!  Pecan waffles!!!!

The view from Lookout Mountain was stunning.  (See that post for more photos)

What was even more amazing was listening to the park rangers talk about the battles that were fought there. Imaging battalions of soldiers scaling that mountain – mind-blowing.

Car camping! Night 1

Day 1 is in the books. Made it over 500 miles to Bristol, VA. Other than remembering that big trucks & mountains make for slow going on 2 lane highways, it was an uneventful drive. Uneventful is good! 

I am camping in my car tonight. Did you know you can park RVs (or in my case, a Rogue) overnight in Walmart parking lots? As long as it is just 1 night and you park at the far parts of the lot, you are good to go. 

I have a small camp lantern and a small fan that should let me be comfortable.  Worst case scenario is it gets a little warm and I need to slightly crack the windows.  Doors are all locked and I am settling in for the night. By the way, did you see my other travel companions in the front window? 😉

Sweet dreams all. Onward to Birmingham, AL tomorrow.