Sunday, June 09, 2013

Utah and Colorado

I can't believe how much beauty I missed when I drove through Colorado from Golden on through Utah in the dark a week ago.  Today, I spent so much time looking that I didn't get nearly as far as I expected to.  I'm in Eagle, Colorado, staying again in a motel - I guess I have spoiled myself.  I wanted to stop early tonight so I can prop my feet up to cure the swelling that doesn't want to go away. 

The best way I can describe today is to post photos - but I haven't downloaded the camera yet.  I traveled through all kinds of mountains and strange terrain and tried to take pictures of everything.  I stopped a lot, stopped in all of the rest stops and in several towns.  I had lunch in a very Mexican restaurant - wonderful chimichanga - the waitress and most of the other 5 customers spoke Spanish.  I haven't been able to practice my Spanish, I apparently put two cd's into the same slot and wrecked my cd player.  The town the restaurant was in must have been successful at one time, but now it was pretty much a ghost town.  There were many vacant houses and all businesses on the main street, except the restaurant, were vacant and looked like they had been that way for a very long time.

I stopped in a couple more towns, both in Utah and Colorado, where there were modern chain businesses near the freeway, but a mile down the road was completely different.  Lots of shacks similar to the deserted buildings in the Mojave Desert.  I couldn't figure out where the people who worked in those modern businesses could be living.

The rest stops in Utah had Native Americans selling jewelry and pottery, and one had a little Chihuahua that looked just like the one I took photos of last year.  He was chasing a lizard that scared the owner - I never saw the lizard, but I heard it hiss when the lady screamed and jumped into her truck- I never heard a lizard hiss before.  Anyway, to be polite,  I bought some earrings.

I did some more shopping miles further east.  There was a funny low log-style shop surrounded by pieces of driftwood with a name something like "The WOW Store".  The inside was filled with beautiful artwork - handmade pool tables, bedroom furniture, walking sticks and all sorts of things made from wood, even including a coffin.  The proprietor looked, with his Hemmingway-ish white beard, like a movie character.  He started talking about what he could do with some old hay hooks making them into towel racks, and then showed off a great yard sale find.  At first glance, it could have been a kerosene lantern, but it was very big, more than a couple feet high, with a metal bowl on top - filled with lead.  A closer look proved it to be a stove for melting lead for bullets - probably dating to the Civil War era and probably used by the army.  The man took it apart to show me how it worked and it was fascinating.  Then he started telling me about a woman he yard sales with - she has an 8th grade education (and is younger than I am - how did anyone in this country in this age miss out on high school?) and is a self-taught artist.  Her wood carvings and paintings were amazing - she is one of those people who can look at a piece of wood and see the things in it waiting to be carved out.  I wish I could have met her.

Well, I'm off to prop my feet up for a while...

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Traveling on home...

I posted this message on Rughookers, realized it's too long for a message, so I copied it over here onto my blog.

I am in Colorado, taking an early afternoon of rest from driving.  I left Cambria yesterday after spending part of the morning watching the ocean waves at Moonstone Beach.  There were a few people in wetsuits getting knocked off of their surfboards by fairly big waves - I took a lot of photos that I might be able to use for painting or rug patterns - then I headed for the desert.
Every time I have crossed the Mohave Desert, I have been curious about all of the small deserted old buildings.  I couldn't imagine living in some of those locations, baking in the hot sun in those tiny little houses.  My camp roommate, Grace K., cleared up the mystery for me - those were places that were homesteaded a long time ago.  The people had to leave when their wells dried up or when the federal government took over the land.

I drove to Las Vegas, stopped on the west side of the city to get a hamburger, and promptly got lost.  My gps deserted me, wouldn't even tell me to "turn left, turn left now, make a U-turn".  So I lost about a hour, hoping to find a police car to ask for help, finally stopped at a gas station and asked a customer for directions - picked the best looking guy in the area and he was very helpful. When I was once again on the highway, I started looking for a motel, since it was a hundred and four degrees - too hot to sleep in the car. Then, I was suddenly stopped by a cop car.  The elusive car I needed an hour earlier.  I was sure I had only been going 70 and being passed by cars going much faster, so I waited to hear what law I had broken.  They stopped me only to see if I was okay, because I was going slower than the rest of the traffic and kind of wavering in my driving lane (must have been when I was reaching for fudge and pistachios - or my giant water bottle.)  Later, I remembered that about the same thing happened in about the same place last year - Las Vegas police must be on the look-out for white-haired old folks.  Anyway, they told me the motels were all about an hour ahead - so I moved on, stopped in a funny little old motel run by a lady who was making cats out of yarn - and teaching a younger woman how to make one.  Fiber artists everywhere.

So today, I drove through the beautiful Utah landscape that I missed seeing on the way out when I drove through the whole state in the pitch dark.  Once again, it's too hot to sleep in the car, although I took a power nap that was only supposed to be 15 minutes and turned into a hour when I found some shade under a tree near a gas station.  Now, in a nice motel, I've rested for a while and am debating about going to dinner or going swimming - and then maybe bringing my hooking into the motel for a couple hours of hooking - or, maybe painting.

I promise I'll post photos soon...

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Traveling on...

Finally able to make an internet connection - frustrated all day because my mifi (wifi card) wouldn't work and the tech who promised to call me back didn't.  However, I am now connected to Cambria Pines Lodge wifi and am much happier.

Today was a full hooking day - three meals, and every other minute  hooking from 9AM until 9PM.  I finished one flower and one cherry on my six foot long "Big Momma" (a Gene Shepherd pattern).  Gene was a huge help with the color planning - my flowers will all be bright colors made with Gene's beautiful wool - my background will be five different almost black recycled wool from my stash (my stash of dark, drab Michigan colors),

Since I only told about the beginning of my trip in my last blog, I'll fill in the rest of the trip.  Saturday, I started the morning in Colorado, driving from the northeast corner where the land is open rolling hills with some cattle and scattered homesteads.  The sky was a clear bright blue with a variety of white clouds that I wanted to remember for painting, so I took a number of photos while I was driving along (at 85mph).  One photo was especially interesting because there were great large billowing clouds at the top, but unusual lacy clouds at the bottom of the sky.  Another 50 or so miles further on, I realized the lacy clouds were really the tops of snow-capped mountains. Lots more snow than I remember seeing before.  When I got into the mountains, I thought I deserved a little touristy break, so I decided to make a fast trip up to Lookout Mountain.  Driving up the mountain was easy and exciting because the road was shared with many bicyclists and hikers - it was like driving into a huge party of very active healthy young people all wearing spandex.  The top of the mountain offers interesting views and a really nice nature center.  I didn't think I should take much time, so I did a fast survey of the displays, saw some great coyote paintings, and started driving back down the mountain.  I was driving very slowly with a bicyclist following me and when I came to a stop, he rode up beside my window and told me I had a seriously wobbly rear wheel.  That must have been what the fellow on the expressway the day before was waving at me about - I had fixed the wrong tire (but it was a good thing I did since it had a hole on the inside and was losing ten pounds of air per day).  So I had to drive down the mountain, through dozens of hairpin turns, think my wheel might fall off at any moment.  I was pretty sure the wheel was going to fall off, the car was going to go into a flip that would take me right off the mountain and I was not going to make it to rug camp.  Also, I had forgotten that I have trouble breathing in thin mountain air, so add the wheel worry to my oxygen anxiety and I can tell you I was very happy to get down to flat ground.

Then I had to backtrack to the city of Golden to try to find a tire repair facility - which turned out to be very difficult since all of the tire repair people were riding bicycles and hiking in the mountains and not working on Saturdays.  I had to drive miles looking for a Pepboys that someone told me might be open, but couldn't find it.  I accidently drove past a truck stop - the kind of place where I usually feel safe spending the night - so I did a fast U turn and drove around back to the truck repair section and literally begged for help.  Three men went to work to figure out the wobble cause, which finally was eliminated down to the wheel nuts not being tightened properly.  My mechanic at home had repaired a flat for me and not cleaned the road dirt out of the wheel.  It took a long time to chip away the hard packed clay, even after a power washing, but with the afternoon completely gone, my wheel was finally back in place - and the mechanics wouldn't even let me pay them. I think they were going to tell their friends they spent the afternoon helping a hooker.

So, starting about six o'clock, I drove through the rest of Colorado, past all of the beautiful mountains without stopping again, then into and across Utah which never seemed like such a big state before.  It was pitch dark out when I was going through the beautiful sandstone mountains and bluffs, but I couldn't see them at all - for 500 miles I felt like I was driving through a very long tunnel.  The only good thing about driving like that is there wasn't much other traffic at all and I could go as fast as I dared.  I finally reached my turn that would take me south into Nevada and toward Las Vegas, and I decided I would have to get at least a little sleep - even though that meant leaving at least a thousand miles to go on Sunday.  I found a rest stop provided by a Chevron gas station, and pulled in where there were a couple pick-ups pulling U-Haul trailers - it seemed safe enough and I parked right next to the building where it was well lit.  What I didn't think about until I crawled into the middle seat with my pillow was 1) the car was parked on a hillside so laying down I was practically standing up, and 2) it was very cold (about 40 degrees) and I didn't have a blanket.  I ended up sleeping under some of the recycled wool that just happened to be left in the car from my last trip to Nova Scotia.

I awoke a few hours later after the U-Hauls left and began the last leg of the journey, through a little of Arizona, past Las Vegas, through the Mojave Desert into California, past beautiful vineyards in wine country, and finally to Cambria.  My gps took me on a longer route than necessary and then turned me around in circles around Cambria so it took me an extra chunk of time to finally find the lodge - and, even though the tire and wheel problems took away a lot of my travel time, I arrived just in time to register, get my hooking stuff unloaded in my classroom, find my room and take a shower before dinner.  Eventually I'll post my photos of the trip and you'll get to see how great cloud formations look when photographed at high speed through a bug splattered windshield.

Last year, I did the same trip in two and a half days and got here early enough to spend some time seeing the ocean.  This year, if I add Thursday night to Sunday to count as one day, the trip took three days and I still haven't been to the beach.