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grand-tetons-barn-2wtmkThe purpose of this weekly meme is to share some of the places we’ve been. They are places that stay with us for one reason or another. Join us. Post a picture on your blog, go to the comment section here and leave your link. Visit others who share their Favorite Places. Feel free to borrow the button.

And here is this week’s Favorite Place: Bennett Spring, Missouri

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If we weren’t enjoying the winter out here in California this is where we would be this coming weekend – Bennett Spring State Park. March 1st is the traditional start of trout season at this park. My husband is a fisherman down to the inside of his waders. (To see his monster salmon go here.)  Bennett Springs is where fly fishermen go for their first ‘fishing-fix’ of the season. Of course, this time of the year it’s not for your nice-weather type fisher-person. Most years it’s very cold, often with snow on the ground. 

If you are looking for Bennett Spring on the map , look at the center of Missouri, a little to the south and west. It’s near the town of Lebanon. There’s a good campgrounds in the park plus plenty of motels, cabins and other RV parks near by. There are some very nice hiking trails plus a fish hatchery as well as the spring. It’s very beautiful in warmer weather when the trees are in bloom. Keep this in mind for those people you know who love to fish. This is on our lifetime list of Favorite Places.

*Note on this picture: All of our pictures of Bennett Spring are in storage so I found a vintage postcard to share with you. It still looks pretty much the same way it did when my husband first took me here in the 1960’s.

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The purpose of this weekly meme is to share some of the places we’ve been. They are places that stay with us for one reason or another. Join us. Post a picture on your blog, go to the comment section here and leave your link. Visit others who share their Favorite Places. Feel free to borrow the button.

Here’s this week’s Favorite Place: Devil’s Tower.

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Devil’s Tower can be seen for miles before you get to it. It is quite weird to look at as you are driving across this empty section of northeast Wyoming. It’s considered part of the Badlands. In my opinion the best part of this area is how it fires the imagination. First I think about what it would be like to come upon this thing in slow motion as if you were traveling on a horse or a covered wagon or even on foot.

It’s no wonder the Indians had many legends about the place. It’s also called Bear Lodge and considered a sacred site by American Indians. Once you are up close it is quite a spectacular sight. The base of the tower is a mile around and there is a nice hiking trail visitors can take. If you are planning a road trip out west this should be on your list of Favorite Places.

What is one of your Favorite Places?

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I’d like to introduce you to my first button.*  I feel like a new mom. I’m so proud. (It’s the longest labor I’ve been through.)

This button is the label for my new weekly meme about places that are special. I hope you will join in each Monday and share your favorite places. Feel free to adopt my new baby button for use on your blog. Leave a comment with your blog address and we will all come and take a look at your pictures. For more information see last Monday’s post here.

This week I’d like to share a picture from one of our favorite areas – north west Oregon. This picture was taken from the top of the Astoria Column. You are looking down at the town of Astoria, located north and west of Portland, Oregon.

astoriaYou see both the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean from Astoria and the 4.1 mile bridge leading to the state of Washington. There is a terrific Maritime Museum in town and some fantastic local restaurants featuring fresh fish. Lots of people like to come and take the Hollywood tour. Astoria has proven to be a popular place to make movies. Some movies filmed here are Kindergarten Cop, Free Willy, The Goonies, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and many more.

We’ve spent a lot of time not too far from Astoria camping at the Fort Stevens State Park, one of the nicest camping areas in the country. It all makes for a great vacation destination or a nice day trip out from Portland. It’s definitely one of my favorite places.

*Thanks to Beth at Beth Fish Reads for her brilliant how-to-make-a-button post. See it here.

I’ve decided to make Favorite Places a regular weekly feature on my blog. As we travel around there are so many spots that we simply stop and enjoy. I snap some pictures and write a few words so I’ll remember the uniqueness of that place.

The fun is in sharing that time with others. Perhaps you have some favorite places and would like to join in. Here are some suggestions to jog your memory. I’m sure there are many more.

  • Favorite Places at Home: a comfy chair, a spot in the kitchen, a desk,your workshop or sewing room, or outside in the garden, the porch swing.
  • Favorite Places while on Vacation or at Leisure: the lake, picnic spot, playground, amusement park, a national park, a campground, a hiking trail, a mountain, a waterfall, a golf course or soccer field.
  • Favorite Places that Feed Your Obsession: bookstores or library, knit shops, fabric shops, craft stores, boutiques or shoe stores or malls.
  • Favorite Places at Work: your cubbie or desk, the lunchroom, a co-worker’s area, a conference room.

Let’s do this every Monday. Grab your camera, take some photos and upload them to your blog. Write a bit about why this place is special. Tell us something about the place – how it makes you feel, what it tastes or smells like – how it affects your senses. Come back and post your link in the comment section. We’ll all come and visit and share your Favorite Place with you. 

Here’s one of my Favorite Places. I feel the need to show this to my daughter back in Indiana. She’s just been through a miserable ice storm. This is Saguaro National Park devoted to native cactus in Arizona. It’s located just east of Tucson. About this time of year the cactus are blooming. I hope you warm up a bit.

saguaroWhere are your Favorite Places? Come and join in the fun.

 

100_1767Solvang, California is a small town founded by Danish immigrants and built to preserve their Danish culture. My folks “discovered” this little town in the 60’s and would take us here for day trips. None of us have ever been to Denmark but we like to believe it looks like this.

The architecture is a definite attraction. All of the buildings are built in the Danish style with blue-green copper roofs and lots of windmills. There are also many storks on tops of roofs – a symbol of good luck.

Another attraction: walking from shop to shop purchasing all kinds of fun things. My favorite purchases have been unusual kitchen gadgets, linens, yarn and, of course, books. The most popular purchase by all family members are those made at the Danish Bakeries. Although this is a small town, there are five bakeries here. We usually buy pastries and an onion-cheese bread. Solvang is where we first learned to eat Abelskivers – pancakes in the form of a ball. My dad became very good at making these.100_1770

We were here the first week of January and noticed that Solvang has changed some. Although still true to it’s Danish architecture, it’s now definitely a town built around tourism. I noticed more high-end gift shops and several new wine tasting rooms. The movie “Sideways” was filmed here which is probably bringing in more visitors. But in spite of the changes it’s still one of my favorite places.

If you’re interested in visiting, Solvang is located about 30 miles north of Santa Barbara. Take highway 101 and exit at Buellton (home of Andersen Pea Soup) and go east about 3 miles.

 

pacocnI like the ocean almost as much as I like the mountains. All of my senses are on alert as we come driving over the canyon road. First I spot the water and then I can smell it. As we pull up and roll down the window I can hear it and feel it and, if the wind is right, I can taste the salt. All that before we get out of the car! A couple of hours at the ocean and my body and spirit are totally at peace.

I have lots of experience with the Pacific Ocean, not so much with the others. Here is a shot taken at the end of December. This is along the Pacific Coast Highway just north of Malibu. It was about 65 degrees on this day, no clouds, with just a light breeze. Beautiful.

amtrakWhen I was a kid in the ’40s, riding a train was glamorous. To me it wasn’t tuxedos and cocktail dresses in the lounge car. It was the hobos who hopped on and rode off to unknown but exciting places. They were the ones who saw new places while living with only what they could carry. That was my idea of creative travel.

I never had the chance to ride a real train until I was in college. I took a couple of trips from Springfield, Missouri up to the majestic Union Station in Kansas City. Not exactly the hobo adventure I’d dreamed of but, it was a train. 

After I married and the children came along, if we were going to go anywhere, it would be by car. In later years it would be by air for business and to see our grown children who have scattered themselves all over the country. 

Now that I’ve come to the “slow down” phase of my life, I’m back to a little bit of train travel. My mom still has the yen to travel and about three years ago she and I took a trip from Philadelphia to New York City and then up to Boston.  Last year my husband and I took a longer trip from Portland, Oregon down the west coast to southern California and back again. These two trips brought back the old hobo dream. 

So, a few weeks ago I took Amtrak’s Starlite Coach from Martinez, California down to Simi Valley, California. What a great way to travel! 

Here are some things I saw on the trip:

  •    The busy harbor south of Oakland
  •    Neon art work (some call it graffiti) on fences, buildings, boxcars – much of it quite beautiful
  •    Castorville – home of an annual Artichoke Festival. First queen of the festival? Norma Jean Baker/Marilyn Monroe
  •    Acorn Slough – home to thousands of migratory birds and two seals lounging on their backs
  •    Miles and miles of vineyards, some with green leaves, some brown and some with no leaves
  •    Old fashioned (late nineteenth century) train depots that have been refurbished
  •    Acres of green fields planted with broccoli and tomatoes
  •    The Pacific Ocean right outside the window, closer than any road

Inside the car you’ll find roomy seats equal to the size of first class air travel with plenty of leg room. Two levels of travel – upper level if you want a better viewing vista, lower level if you don’t want to climb the stairs. They have a snack bar (sandwiches, etc.) and a dining car (full breakfast, lunch and dinner). 

I think Amtrak has done a good job of customer service training because we have yet to encounter a grumpy employee, even during last year’s very busy holiday season. The porter on this last trip was fun and friendly, made sure people were awake and got off at the right station, offered to get things from the snack bar, helped with luggage, and all without the expectation of being tipped. He was genuinely surprised when I tipped him.

I’ve read and heard complaints about Amtrak. Maybe I’ve just been lucky. I studied my fellow passengers to see if this was a travel mode for the desperate who couldn’t afford anything else. I saw nicely dressed people with good quality luggage. Most were in their twenties/thirties or sixties/seventies. There were some families and a few businessmen and women. 

I think that to be a successful train traveler you have to not be in a hurry. They do not always keep to a tight schedule. Freight trains have the right-of-way so passenger trains have to wait for them. If you have the time, and most of us retirees do, this is a fun way to see all or part of the country. Did I mention that the trip through California cost me $44.20? I wouldn’t have been able to drive it for that. So if you too have that yen for a rhythmic ride on the rails, check out the Amtrak schedule and routes at Amtrak.com. Happy travels.     

yos1Every time I think of Yosemite I think of my dad. Since today is the ninety-second anniversary of his birth, it seems appropriate to show some shots of the place. We first saw Yosemite in 1955, just six months after moving to California from Wisconsin. My dad loved his new home state and was eager for all of us to see the best the state had to offer. 

One weekend trip and we all were hooked. It was a five hour drive from home (one way) but we went there as often as possible, often just for a simple weekend. 

We became familiar with all the landmark mountains, with John Muir and Ansel Adams, the Big Trees, and many of the trails and waterfalls. We never camped in the Valley, however. We always camped up at Wawona. We had our favorite spots near the river that we always tried to get. (No reservations in those days.) Back in those old days we could easily gather fire wood along the tree line and have great campfires at both morning and night. Back then it was also easy to spot arrow heads in the woods.

All of the grandchildren were introduced to Yosemite at an early age and almost all are still very passionate about the place. My dad died in early December, 1989 and on the 27th of that month we piled as many of the adults and kids as possible into a huge van and drove up to Yosemite. Even though he was no longer with us we felt it was a fitting way to say happy birthday.

yos2The pictures here were taken by my son Christopher three years ago when he and my husband, Jay, climbed Half Dome. It was something my dad was never able to do but I’m sure he would have been proud of their accomplishment. (If you look closely, you’ll see Jay across the way holding out his arms.)

If you’ve never had a chance to see Yosemite, I hope you’ll put in on your list of “must-see-someday”.

100_1035In August of 2007 we were about 15 miles outside of Fairbanks, Alaska and what did we discover? The North Pole. Really. The Real North Pole. There is a U.S. Post Office, houses where real people live, a church, stores and so on. 

We saw a sign that said “Santa’s House Straight Ahead”. Wow – maybe we could see Santa or Mrs. Claus! There were only a few cars parked outside the house and a couple of motorcycles (the big fancy ones) were just leaving the parking lot. After we parked,there were some ladies walking by from the grocery store and they said it was okay to go on into the house. They told us that if Santa and Mrs. Claus were home they would be glad to talk with us. So we went on in. 

The house was beautifully decorated with with evergreen garland and trees and lots of Christmas lights. There was a nice little lady that greeted us, although she was not Santa’s wife. She invited us to look all around and come back if we had any questions.

We wandered into room after room. It was just what I expected Santa’s house to look like: Christmas decorations every day of the year. There was one room that had a huge Christmas tree and two very comfy chairs. Unfortunately, the chairs were empty. We walked back to the front and asked the nice lady where Santa was. She said, I’m sorry. You missed him. He left on his Harley about 15 minutes ago. We must have passed him in the parking lot!

We were so disappointed but, we bought some snow globes and postcards for our granddaughters. I guess we’ll have to come back again.

True story – honest. Here’s our picture outside the house to prove it.northpole1

One of the top perks about the Fulltime RV Lifestyle is that we can live anywhere – well, as long as there is a road to get there. We are currently in Windsor, California where our son, Cx, lives. He and his girlfriend/life partner, Gx, have just purchased a house on nearly an acre of land. The favorite phrase used by everyone to describe this property is “it has potential“. Most people would run away from a place like this. Not these two. This is exactly what they want. For my husband, Jay, this is just up his alley, too – a handyman’s heaven! So we’ve come to Windsor to help them out. I’ll share their progress and some before and after pictures in upcoming posts.100_1638

Today I want to show you the simple beauty of Windsor. This is a town of about 25,000 people north of San Francisco. I don’t know the exact miles. This is California so people talk in terms of how long it take to get somewhere. Windsor is somewhere between 90 minutes and two hours from the big city. If you are looking at a map, it is on highway 101 just 15 minutes north of Santa Rosa. 

The center of town has been established as a village green. They allowed plenty of room. You’ll see people walking, playing frisbee or just sitting and reading a book. The library is on one of the adjacent streets along with the other city offices. The green sets just the right tone for the town.  

100_1643The business buildings surrounding the green have that old traditional Village Green look although they are really quite new. There are no mega-businesses that attract people to work here. It is more like an excellent place to just live. There are some gourmet-level restaurants, a few fast food places, small shops and no major department stores.

The major attraction here is that this is wine country. Windsor is in Sonoma County so that means any spare acre is turned into a vineyard. In addition to all the beautiful vineyards, Windsor is surrounded by low hills covered  with stately oak trees. All of that plus the usually bright blue sky makes this a great place to live, and to visit.

Welcome To My Blog

me2 Hi and Welcome. I'm retired, joyfully, and now have the time to indulge myself in books, family, travel, food or whatever. This blog is my way of sharing the things I'm doing - places I visit, books I read and all the other things that make up this new retired life. For more about me visit my About page.

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