Thursday, August 22, 2013


Yogurt and berries

With an ambitious journey planned for the day we noshed on yogurt and berries before starting our day.  Boo still fell for the bacon routine.

Missouri vineyard
We weren't too far out of Rolla when we started seeing signs for wine tastings. Wine! Of course, I'd heard that every state in the union grew wines but I didn't expect advertisements. For fun, we jumped off the highway to take a look see (not a sip see, mind you, it was way too early) then headed back on the road.

Somewhere around Effingham, Illinois we hit the 2000 mile mark and it became clear, our butts were numb.

Off roading

With our successful detour into Oklahoma City under our belts we decided to venture off into Mooresville for a little Cajun déjeuner. Mike had found a recommendation on a travel website the night before for what sounded like a great find.

The road into Mooresville was charming. Suburb melted into rural and back as we drove through alfalfa fields and past flowering dogwoods.

We pulled into town and found ourselves parked right in front of Zydeco's, our destination, which was quite fortuitous. Unfortunately, it was closed for lunch on Tuesdays.

I did a little shopping therapy to try to recoup then we found an unremarkable little restaurant where we watched Rachel Ray on the big screen while we ate. Rachel was discussing nail salon hygiene, complete with guests who described their fungal infections. Nice.

Hooray for Ohio

The chicken survives to see rain
It didn't take long to get back onto the highway. A word about Indiana drivers: they suck. (Sorry Indiana. I realize that once again, I'm being uncharitable.) They tailgate, they don't let you in if you need to get over and it seemed that everyone was on their phone. For once, I was glad I wasn't the one driving. Ohio was a welcomed site. Everyone seems to have settled down there.

Two momentous things happened in Ohio: the chicken took its first dive (amazing that it didn't happen before, it survived) and we saw our first rain.

Next... Home in sight

Monday, August 12, 2013


Still Lovin' Oklahoma

Saturated fats from our Oklahoma rib-eyes lingered in our guts long after we woke. We passed on breakfast and got on the road.

Let me put one myth to rest. Not everything in Texas is bigger. Oklahoma has the largest crosses and flags in the universe. You can see them coming for miles. Photos do not do them justice, though we tried time and again.


We decided to take a detour to the Oklahoma City National Memorial that morning. The last time I drove cross country the Murrah Building was still smoldering and we'd contemplated a visit, but there was no GPS and no highway signs to lead us to the site. I didn't want to pass up this opportunity, cat notwithstanding. Luckily it was a lovely cool day. We found a shady place to park and rolled down the windows a bit.

There isn't much you can do to prepare for the impact of the memorial. We entered through the North Robinson Avenue gate, the reflecting pool lay before us and the iconic chairs were to our left. Time literally stands still on the site. A landscaping crew manicured the already pristine lawn as a few visitors wandered past their roaring mowers.

On the north side of the site sits the Survivor Tree.
A place of reflection and recollection. Beautiful. If you have the chance to stop by you'll never regret the visit.

We had a wonderful lunch at a place called Kitchen No. 324. Yum, nutty fresh baked bread and home made soup. We wished we could linger watching Oklahoma City pass by the restaurant window but there was a cat in our car and miles yet to log.

Missouri yielded yet a new landscape: horizontal sedimentary outcrops and armadillo road kill. After the Elk City Motel 6 we opted to step it up a couple of notches to a new level of pet-friendly motels and pulled into a Super 8. Living large! It was quite nice. Boo loved the place.

Craving some spice we fell for the "best Mexican food north of the border" advert. They did have margaritas. A bright moment.

Another bright moment; I'm no longer homeless. My home purchase closed! Little did I know that a few days after we'd passed through Oklahoma so many, many homes would have been lost to an epic tornado. I am so fortunate to have a home that still sits on its foundation.

Next... Numb

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Pushing 1000

Just Desserts

Driving through Albuquerque
We woke early to a small hangover. We had an ambitious mileage goal that day. Perhaps sharing two bottles of wine wasn't such a great idea the night before, though it seemed capital at the time. I'm sure our dinner of pistachios, goat cheese and crackers didn't help much to absorb the alcohol. 

Undaunted we lured Boo from under the bed with bacon and headed off, hoping to find some greasy food on the road. A Denny's sign outside of Grants beckoned so we pulled off the road.

There isn't much near the Denny's on the outskirts of Grants. Lots of dusty roads but none of them seem to lead us anywhere. Just dead ends, empty buildings and tumbleweeds. We had a hard time finding the right dead end. Perhaps handicapped by our indiscretion the night before? Eventually we limped in. 

After all that the place stunk. Literally, the sewer had backed up. Desperate for food, we ate and ran.


Texas. Pretty much says it all. My apologies to all Texans.
I'm sure you're very nice and love your state.
We just didn't see that part.
After Grants, New Mexico was beginning to disappoint. Then came Albuquerque. Glorious highway art. Beautiful skies. Courteous drivers! 

At mile 875 we saw our first Stuckey's sign. We passed mile 1000 in San Jon, NM.

We briefly crossed a dog ear corner of northwest Texas. Thankfully, we weren't there long. It was memorable only for its scorched earth and battered signage.

Crossing over into Oklahoma we felt like Dorothy landing in Oz. Suddenly there was color. Farms looked prosperous, cows looked plump and the highways were well tended. What a difference a border makes! We pushed on to our destination: Elk City, OK.

Beef, It's What's For Dinner

Oklahoma's OK!
Having been in Oklahoma before, I knew it was THE place to eat beef in this country so I asked the desk clerk at the Motel 6 about the best place to get a steak. She recommended a place across the road. Probably the only place open on Sunday, she added. 

It was an Italian place. We ignored the pizza and pasta entrees and ordered the only slab of meat we saw on the menu, a rib eye steak, and asked for a glass of wine. They apparently don't sell wine on Sundays in Elk City, but, inexplicably, beer is okay. We ordered beers. 

The beef did not disappoint and we stuffed ourselves silly. Even the heavily buttered mixed vegetables were extraordinary. Probably because of the beef fat that had oozed in. So good. I can still taste it all.

What wasn't so fun was the fabulous Motel 6. Our last Motel 6, I might add. Most of its clientele appeared to be oilmen, as in guys who worked on the rigs. There was a washer and dryer set up in the lobby and muddy boots lined the hallways, though I'm pretty sure they wore them in the rooms too. The people in the room above us started clonking around at about midnight and continued until 3 when I finally drifted off. Sounded like dance lessons. In oilman boots.

Next: Memorials

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Desert


Morning in the Mojave
The desert was beautiful, as it always is in the morning. The air cool and dry. Endless horizons, hypnotic. Unlike the past few days in New England. Hot, sticky. On Monday it was forecast to be 92° and 92% humidity. People who were complaining two weeks ago that summer would never come are complaining now that it's here. Everyone with a convertible has it down. Unlike the desert which was lovely in the 70s.

There were few cars on the road and the speed limit was 75mph. What's not to love?

Every rest stop we frequented we seemed to come to just as the cleaning crews left. We caught up with these folks, "Opportunity Crew" emblazoned across their red shirts, happily unstopping sinks clogged with paper towels (why do people do this?) and making the place spic 'n span.

There were dogs and weary drivers at these stops. Older folks, mainly. (I don't say "old" folks any more. I'm one of them.) A young couple parked next to us near the "pet rest" area stood out. Not just because they were young but because they were giving their turtles (not desert tortoises) a rest, searching for warm fresh water for their enclosures. They were from New Jersey, presumably all four of them.

Grand Canyon Exits

Boo ponders his options
Boo had taken to meowing loudly from his crate as soon as we got into the car. He knew we'd let him out once we were on the freeway. Not sure of the reason behind my logic but it felt prudent to me not to have him footloose while on city streets. That and his meowing made us nuts so we had to relent.

Sometimes he hung out on top of his crate. Sometimes he found a nook to curl up in to sleep. Cats sure sleep a lot. We were pleased, believe it or not, that he wasn't shy about using the litter box. Who knows what happens when one's cat becomes severely constipated. Can't be good.

As Boo surveyed the landscape I was crushed each time we passed an exit for the Grand Canyon, one of my favorite places in the world. We had to push on but decided to drive into Flagstaff, find someplace to buy some grub to supplement our own disparate grub and have a picnic. The best I can say about Flagstaff's "Farmer's Market" is that the bathrooms were clean and they had goat cheese. Not much "farm" at the FFM. That and it's not a Sizzler or a Chile's, our other options.

We did eventually find a park to sit down in. Took Boo with us and fed him bacon in his crate. We all seemed to need that respite.

New Mexico

Go out and find this wine. Buy it.
Seriously. Do it now.
The chicken concurs.
As we crossed into New Mexico we were welcomed by such beautiful geological formations. Each state has its own character. We learned that is certainly true. As we plunged through the gorge, a train raced along next to us. A bullet shooting trough the wilderness.

Gallup was less enchanting. A beggar approached our car as we left the Motel 6 reception area. We entertained ourselves with a game of Scrabble and two bottles of amazing pinot noir from our last trip up to Portland.  I heartily recommend the Illahe Reserve 2010.

About the chicken

Her name is not Waldo but you might just see her now and then in my photos. She is the only living remnant from my glorious California garden. When my sister Becky came to take what plants she could back to her home in Phoenix she encouraged, insisted...that I take the chicken along for the ride. She has no name except "the chicken." Look for her now and then as she had the best seat in the house, on the dashboard.

Next...a small hangover.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Big Changes

New Beginnings

Why have I changed the tag line to this blog from “Exploring Creativity” to “Living Creatively”? Because I’ve made a major shift into unknown territory. I’ve shrugged off the confines of a 9 to 5 job, sold my home in California and moved across the continent to Massachusetts. Muddle along with me as I find my way in this brave new life. Creativity? I’ll need it!

What I left behind
Packing up and leaving my home of 17 years, a 1908 craftsman that I’d lovingly restored wasn’t easy. On that hot afternoon I opened my arms wide as I stood in my backyard and told my trees and flowers and herbs goodbye. I sobbed in Mike’s arms as I stood in the dining room devoid of anything tangible of mine.  

As Mike wrote  recently, “The room screamed empty, nothing here, not yours, go.”  And go we did.

On the Road



We (Boo, my somewhat reluctant feline companion, Mike, my brave human companion, and I) drove across the valley headed to Barstow. Being rush hour we crept along, slowly leaving life as I knew it behind me.  

There was little time to feel nostalgic when at mile 8.2 something smelling suspiciously like tuna began to waft forward from the back seat.  Boo had been meowing incessantly but had recently gone silent in his crate.  After disposing of his issue, we plugged along through the Cajon Pass as the sun set behind us, still grimy from a day of high emotion and frenetic house packing and cleaning.

The Motel 6 in Barstow was a welcome sight. Even more so the Motel 6 shower. We lugged in our gear and had brought what was left of my wine cellar with us, thank God. Not being a wine enthusiast, Boo was less pleased with our landing but eventually settled in. Mike and I, on the other hand, rewarded ourselves with a bottle of pinot  and leftovers from the previous night before losing ourselves to sleep on the hard bed.


Barstow morning
In the morning we woke to a fabulous view of parking lots and tractor trailers from our room. But as soon as the bags started to be gathered, Boo went MIA. In my last days in Pasadena I had been cooking from my pantry and freezer, trying my best to use up what I had and not buy more food, only to have to dispose of it. One thing I had thought to cook up was a mess of bacon. Thinking it might be good finger food that wouldn't take up too much room in the cooler, I stuck it in there.  

Boo, who has been known to snag a strip or three from the kitchen counter, is a sucker for the stuff and it took little time to lure him out from under the bed and into his crate and then the car.  It became a precious commodity as the trip continued.

Next... Jersey turtles in Arizona.