Image #252 – Redwoods

Redwood Collage

Today, dear readers, I present another collage because sometimes just one picture isn’t enough. We are also re-visiting the redwoods in northern California. I’ve been sorting pictures from my recent trip and today I found myself lingering on these images from the redwood forests. They are so majestic and they are also great teachers.  No matter how mighty or grand,  everything on this earth, in the immortal words of George Malley, “is on its way to something else.”  Redwoods fall, as these pictures clearly show. In the upper left-hand corner you can see the roots of a redwood, as big as a man’s thigh and ripped from the earth by the sheer mass of the tree. Yes, when this tree fell I believe there was a sound, even if no one was present to hear it.  In the lower left picture you can see how the fallen redwood has become a new home for ferns and other plants. It is a new world, a new ecosystem. It is all part of the circle of life.  ❧

Image #250 – Bravery

Image #250

Hello dear readers. I apologize for being “off the grid” for a while. My absence generated some concern owing to the fact that I was in the final leg of my epic seven-week tour of the U.S.A.  But fear not, Tango and I are well, safely arrived in North Carolina.

For those who are new to my blog here is a quick recap: I set out from Western North Carolina on April 24th. My goal was Portland, Oregon where I was scheduled to speak at a conference. I also stopped in Columbia, Missouri and addressed the Show Me Cannabis statewide conference.  I spent a week in Denver before heading to Portland. The it was nearly a week in Oregon before heading south to Trinidad, California where I stayed with friends for almost three weeks. It was great R&R. At the end of May I started back East, again via Denver. There is a lot happening in Denver and part of my trip was a “fact-finding” journey. For those interested in my life as a cannabis activist I invite you to visit my writing blog, Aliceolearyrandall.

In Denver I linked up with a friend and we traveled to South Dakota with a side trip to Wyoming. Then it was eastward again with a stop in Madison, Wisconsin and then back to Western NC.  It was 52 days and 7,866 miles of wonderful wandering. It will take some time to absorb it all.

Whenever I would tell someone that I was driving across country they would invariably respond, “Wow, you’re brave!”  It was a statement that constantly befuddled me. I was, after all, driving a very comfortable and safe van with all the modern conveniences. The majority of travel was on interstate highways which are well patrolled. The motels I stayed in were always hospitable and safe. I fail to understand where the bravery was in undertaking such a trip. There is, of course, always the unexpected which can happen at any place and any time. And I suppose I am a bit of a fatalist in thinking that when your time is up it really won’t matter where you are–recliner or interstate, you’re out of here.

But during my travel I was constantly reminded of the truly brave ones who made the journey I have just completed. The American pioneers, in their Conestoga wagons, really deserve every bit of praise that has ever been heaped upon them.  Today’s image was taken in Wyoming and shows the Overland Trail. Those wheel-ruts that extend into the distant horizon were made by the thousands of covered wagons that crossed the U.S.A. So many wagons passed along the trail that the ruts remain to this day. The wagons held men and women seeking better lives. They traveled at the unbelievable speed of 7 miles a day!  Of course they only had two horses pulling them. (Today’s cars have an average of 110 horsepower.)  The pioneers faced environmental hardships and attacks from animals and indians.  Those people were truly brave.

Our U.S.A. is so extraordinary and it is good to get out and experience  the diversity and wonder that makes this nation so great. While you are out there think about those brave pioneers who were seeking a better life and then compare that to some of the immigrants who are coming to the U.S.A. under the same harsh conditions that our ancestors encountered on the Overland Trail.  Bravery is a big part of what drives these individuals but there is something more. How awful their lives must be to surrender everything and set out into the desert looking for the promised land.  In the 1800s, at least, there was no one on the other end to send the pioneers back. ❧

Image #249 – The Badlands


One of the first pieces of art that I bought was a woodwork-reduction painting of the Badlands by Gordon Mortenson  entitled “Cattle Country.”  I have loved that piece of art and yearned to visit that exotic part of the world. Today I got my wish. It was a spectacularly beautiful day and the Badlands were all I had hoped for. The area has received a lot of rain this year and the grasslands that surround these unusual geological formations were lush and verdant. Wildflowers were everywhere and, just for fun, prairie dogs and buffalos.  All in all one of the best days ever.  ❧

Image #248 – South Dakota

Downtown Deadwood today
Downtown Deadwood today

Okay, quick! What’s the first thing you think of when someone says, “South Dakota”?  Deadwood?  Well, maybe so if you are an HBO enthusiast… or a weekend gambler … or part of a motorcycle club.

As fate would have it I have been staying in Deadwood for the past three nights, using it as a base to visit Devil’s Tower (in NE Wyoming) and the Mount Rushmore area.  I am a fan of the “Deadwood” series on HBO and while I did not purposefully set out to stay in Deadwood because of that, it was kind of fun to see the site of the Gem Saloon, the Bullock Hardware store and more. The “Deadwood” series was, sadly, short-lived. It ran three seasons and portrayed, at least somewhat accurately, the founding and early years of Deadwood, the town. Surely Deadwood’s greatest claim to fame is the fact that Wild Bill Hickcock was murdered here, shot in the back while playing cards.  It is commemorated to this day and referenced throughout the town.


For anyone who followed the series “Deadwood” you will undoubtedly remember the raw portrayal of a wild west town. The street scenes were particularly vivid with dozens of extras who all seemed to have some commonality — a sad sense of urgency, a mild degree of paranoia, and a taste for the “earthier” things in life.  Remarkably many of those characters still seem to be here, dressed in more modern clothing but with the same look.  Deadwood is mainly a gambling town, with casinos in every storefront.  We arrived on Saturday and the town was in full swing. It was packed and while many did seem to be enjoying themselves there were many others who were exceptionally sad. Sunday morning brought an exodus and new peace.  Families replaced the gamblers and the town resembled a Disney theme park.  All in all a curious place to be…another part of the adventure.  ❧

Image #247 – Off the Grid — Drifting in Clouds

Image #247
Highway 130 near Laramie, WY. Thunderheads form over the Wyoming hills.

I’ve been off the grid for a while.  The past sixteen days were spent in Trinidad, California (thank you Bunny and Ed!).  Remarkably laid-back, Trinidad is a seductive kind of place. The ambiance of Trinidad/Arcata/Eureka just sucks you in and soon the rest of the world slips away. The ocean, the redwoods and sequoia, the wild bursts of wildflowers and ocean fogs all contribute to its mystery.  I have a backlog of photos to share.  Stay tuned.

I’ve been on the road for about six weeks and turned back eastwards on May 29th. I passed through Lassen Volcanic N.P. in California, across the Nevada desert, back up into the Rockies and across the Snowy Mountain Range highway, which was closed under six feet of snow when I passed by in early May.  Now all the snow is melting and the rivers are swollen downstream. In Saratoga, Wyoming the town was sandbagged against the rising North Platte River.

Image #247(1)
North Platte River rising in Saratoga, Wyoming. The river crested at the top of the sandbags and then receded.

I stopped and spoke with some National Guard troops who had been helping the community fill and pile sandbags. The told me the worst was over and the town was spared.  I thanked them for their good work and wished I had added, “It’s good to have you home.”

As we came out of the Snowy Range and down into the town of Laramie I watched thunderheads form, great huge thunderheads that made the great huge hills in front of them seem very small.  They were forming in the north and would  move on to pummel north Wyoming and the Dakotas but my trip back into Denver was sunny and smooth.  All is well with Tango and Alice. ❧

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