Reminiscing can be so much fun.  As the organizing and purging continues around our household, I come across all my photo albums.  I love my photo albums….they make me happy.  I’m suppose to be boxing them for storage, but can’t resist sitting down and looking through a few of them.

OMG, I come across the photo album from my first trip across the Rocky Mountains.  I can’t help but smile as the memories flood over me.  I was in my early twenties and Al and I had been dating only a few months.  Al had previously lived in the San Francisco Bay area, long before moi, and would frequent the Sierra Mountains.  Since our relationship was relatively new, Al was excited to share some of his past with me.

We both worked in the Airline Industry and could fly just about anywhere free of charge. So do we fly?  Oh no, we decide a break from planes and hotels would be fun and choose to drive.  We’ll camp once we reach the Sierras.  We loaded up the car with all the camping gear and drove from Chicago to California.  We’ll hotel it until we reach Lake Tahoe; our first camping destination.

Lake Tahoe
Camping near Lake Tahoe… 1981

We took Interstate 80 through the prairie states of Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.  I thought the flat farmland of Nebraska would never end.  It wasn’t until we drove west of Cheyenne, Wyoming, that the terrain finally started to change.  It was also somewhere in this part of Wyoming that I learned about a cattle guard and free ranging cattle.  You see, in the Midwest cattle are kept fenced on private land.

cattle guard
cattle guard

As we exited the interstate to stop at a rest area, we drove over a metal grate. Initially I didn’t give it a thought.  As we were leaving the rest area, we were greeted by cows along the side of the road.  My response to Al, “Oh no, someone’s cows got out.  Should we let someone know?”  Laughing, Al points out the cattle guard and the purpose behind it.  “Since the cattle won’t walk over the metal grate, it acts as a fence.  So, its okay for the cows to graze around here….they did not get loose.”free ranging cattle

If you’d like to know a bit more about free ranging cattle on public lands click here.cows

Night two on the road was spent in a hotel in Utah.  We got up early the next morning to hit the road.  While checking out, the hotel clerk asked whether we were heading east or west and promptly informed us we may want to wait a little longer before heading west.  It snowed over night and the interstate had been closed westbound.  He wasn’t sure if it had reopened.

Al and I went to grab a cup of coffee and I whispered, “Yeah right!  It’s the middle of September and he’s trying to convince us it snowed and the interstate is closed.  I was born at night, but not last night.  Who’s he trying to kid?”  Amused, Al shakes his head and says, “Well, we’ll give it a try”.

As we approached the on ramp to the interstate, Al points out the gate that had just been lifted.  A service vehicle was sitting on the side of the road.  A guy sporting an orange vest was walking from the gate to the parked vehicle.  Ok, the interstate had been closed and just now opened and it did snow.  I guess I had a thing or two to learn about altitude, mountains, and passes.ColoradoWe continued our trek west and I was in awe with the beautiful snow-covered mountains.  I sure wasn’t expecting snow in September.  Late on day three, we arrived at the Sugar Pine Point State Park just outside of Lake Tahoe.  We proceeded to set up the tent in freezing rain.  Although I grew up camping, it was always during warm, summer weather.  I didn’t sign up for freezing rain and temperatures.  I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  Hmm, and we were the only ones in the campground.  It appears some folks are a tad bit wiser than ourselves.

We awake the following morning after a very cold, restless night to an inch of snow on the now sagging tent.  It was a wonder the tent did not collapse on us during the night.  Come on, it’s mid September and we were here to see the fall colors.

We quickly changed out of the layers of clothing we slept in into fresh clothing and went into town for breakfast.  This has been such a romantic trip thus far for this new relationship….sarcasm indeed.  At the restaurant, the waitress informed us more snow was expected and there’s a mandatory chain restriction for the passes.  Hey, I now know what a “pass” is.

The snow was three weeks early and temps were far below normal for this time of year.  I hear the word chains…..chains are illegal.  Oh, Ingrid’s education continues.  Al explains how chains may be illegal on the roads in Illinois, but mountain driving is quite different and chains are necessary for traction.  We do not have chains or snow tires for our vehicle and with more bad weather on the way, we decided it’s best to avoid trouble and head home.  So much for seeing fall colors in the Sierra Mountains!highway 50

Instead of returning the way we came on Interstate 80, we opted to head east on Highway 50 through some of the most remote land I had ever seen.  Highway 50 through the middle of Nevada is known as “America’s loneliest road“.

free ranging cattle
in the middle of Nevada; free ranging cattle

What an adventure…. We saw wild horses, free ranging cattle standing in the middle of the road, no services for over 100 miles, and rarely another vehicle.  For this city slicker, my comfort level had been challenged by the terrain and remoteness.  Seeing a herd of wild horses left me speechless…, how cool.   Utah

Once in Utah, we picked up Interstate 70 and continued east through Colorado.  I was amazed by the amount of raw and untapped beauty this trip exposed me to.   Never in a million years, did I think when I took this trip over thirty years ago that I would later in life call the “west” home.  An environment that once made me feel uncomfortable, is now quite normal.  This seven-day road trip was definitely enlightening.  It was just the first of many adventures Al and I would embark on.

phone booth
the era of the pay phone

Life is Short

Just as I was ready to walk out the door to go on I hike, I received a text with some devastating news.  I’ll share more on this in a minute.  When Al and I returned home

scrapbook/photo album

from our six-week adventure, we started notifying friends….”we’re back in town”.  We were like a couple of little kids with a new toy (our adventure) who couldn’t wait to show all our friends.  We were on an adrenaline rush and felt so alive.  We wanted to share this new-found excitement with anyone who would listen.

For five days I scrapped from morning till evening.  The table was covered with photos, stickers, notes, brochures, etc.  Fortunately, Al has never complained about eating meals on the coach.  I love his easy-going nature. I compiled info, reviewed, corrected and printed photos.  And sixty-four pages later, a scrapbook/photo album was born.  Each blog posting was printed and placed in the album with corresponding photos. We now have a hard copy documenting our adventure…..our own book so to speak.


With the exuberance of children,  Al and I made calls to invite friends over.  Oh my, one friend just got out of the hospital after a twenty-four day stay.  Obviously this was a life threatening experience.  Another friend had lost her seven-year old chihuahua to cancer….unexpected.  Another friend was diagnosed with breast cancer.  And today, the worst news yet….one of the couples we got together with in Mesquite, the wife passed from an aneurism.  This was the message I received just as I was getting ready to walk out the door for a hike.

This couple were friends of my folks.  They all met during their RVing days.  The couple had recently purchased a small travel trailer specifically for an Alaskan trip this July.  Al and I socialized with them several times during our stay in Mesquite and both of them were very active and healthy.  So too say the least, this is a shock.

Life is short.  All the more reason to live it to its fullest each day.  This weekend we will share our travel tales with the friend who had the long hospital stay.  This was a wake-up call for he and his wife, and they now think they’d like to join us next winter on an excursion.

live, laugh, love……… travels!


Education Questioned…

As I admire my handy work, I also question my writing abilities.  You see, I just spent the last five days working on a scrapbook.  A scrapbook about our six-week journey.  A scrapbook on this blog.  By printing out or retyping my posts, it required me to reread all postings.  Eek!

I’ve never felt I had exceptional writing skills, and after reading these posts, not only have my feelings been confirmed, I now question my education.  I am appalled, embarrassed, mortified…..shall I continue…..  I detect typos, misspellings, improper sentence structure, overuse of punctuation, etc. etc.  I always read and reread prior to publishing.  Perhaps I should sleep on a posting before publishing.  Perhaps, the next day I’ll catch the error of my way.

I wonder…. should I go back,correct all mistakes, and update each posting?  I ask Al.  His response, “Why did you start a blog to begin with?”  Hum, why did I start this blog?  I started this blog as a form of journal, documenting our travels for our children.  My mom journaled, but her handwriting was almost illegible and in another language.  Therefore, we (her children) are unable to read them.  Oh, how I wish they were more legible.  Al and I visited several areas my folks stayed at during their RVing days. I would love to know more details of their travels.  I would love to visit the very spots they visited. And their photos?  Well most are in boxes.  I wish the photos were with a corresponding journal entry.  Thus, my blog was born!

So since my motivation is for personal reasons and not for monetary or notoriety reasons, I’ll leave the mistakes.  Yes, a flawed individual capable of butchering the English language.  We won’t mention my Chicago accent  …..da bears!

The embarrassment has passed.  I’ll continue to blog.  I’ll write as I speak, as improper as that may be.  It is what it is….flaws and all!