Road Trip – This is the Wrap

 

Alice’s Route 4/23/17 – 6/4/17  — 8,710 miles, 42 days

The odyssey is over. Tango and I are safely arrived in Franklin, NC, where we will quietly enjoy the summer.  No road trips anticipated.  😀

Zeke, Kelli, me, Taryn, Orion, Skylar and Erin… Mother’s Day in Long Beach, CA

Brenann, Evan, Mike, Alice and Stacy..the O’Learys in Hailey, ID.

Tango in the Turnbull N.W.R. near Spokane, WA.

We traveled 8,710 miles! Honestly, I never expected that.  Side trips got added and the end result was many more miles than I anticipated. But those detours allowed me to visit with family, some of whom I had not seen in a long while.  That was grand.

We made a completely unexpected trip to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and met a family who I felt that I knew but had never met.  I wrote about that in my blog, “On the Road — Memories and Magic.”

There were three conferences–two on medical cannabis where I learned so much my head is still spinning.  This issue, that has consumed forty years of my life (see aliceolearyrandall.com), is simply exploding with new knowledge. The discovery of the endogenous cannabinoid system is a blessing for us all.  Lives will be better in coming years thanks to the tireless work of so many activists, healthcare practitioners and researchers.

To those shaking their heads and asking why a 69 year-old woman, and her faithful companion Tango, would undertake such an adventure I can only shake my head in return and ask, “Why not?”  Perhaps it was growing up with the weekly Dinah Shore Show in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Sponsored by a U.S. carmaker, the singing star would always sign-off with her catchy jingle,  “See the USA, in your Chevrolet/America is asking you to call/See the USA in your Chevrolet/America’s the greatest land of all.”  Darn right Dinah!  It is a wonder of a land and those who don’t take the time to visit its wonder are squandering their own wealth. And I can add this, if any of my fellow baby boomers are looking for those wide-open roads of our youth they still exist in the vast Western states of Montana, the Dakotas, and Idaho. (P.S. Stick to the secondary roads, they are the greatest.)

To my faithful readers – thanks. Your comments and observations made things all the more enjoyable. I’ll try to post some pictures from the trip in coming weeks.

Happy trails! ❧

On the Road – The Dakotas

Alice and Tango at Painted Canyon

If you enter North Dakota from the west, traveling from Montana along Interstate 94, one of the first things you will see is a billboard which simply says, “Be Polite.” I knew I was going to love ND.

The state has been on my radar for years but, let’s be honest, it is not exactly on the way to anything, with the possible exception of Canada. According to Wikipedia, “North Dakota is the 19th most extensive but the 4th least populous and the 4th least densely populated of the 50 United States.”  That translates into “big and empty.” I can confirm this to be true.

I wanted to visit North Dakota in order to see the Theodore Roosevelt National Park (TRNP), which is located in the western part of ND.  Even the TRNP is huge, with two sections, north and south, that are separated by nearly eighty miles.  The parks began to intrigue me three years ago, after I visited the Badlands N.P. in South Dakota. To a certain extent, the TRNP is an extension of those fabulous lands in SD. I knew I had to go there.

Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th president, actually lived in ND for several years following the deaths of  his wife and mother on the same day (just twelve hours apart).  He credits the land with revitalizing his spirit and I have no doubt that is true.  I found nature to wonderfully healing after the death of my husband in 2001 and during my work as a grief counselor I would often advise my clients to “get out doors.”

In Teddy’s case, not surprisingly, he had a “bully” outdoors to get into. The parklands where he once lived and raised cattle are as bold and dramatic as the man for which they are named. The rock formations, left by complex and dramatic geologic events many thousands of years ago, have created a colorful and magical land filled with canyons, hoodoos, concretions, and vistas. The Little Missouri River, a central character in the creation of this park, meanders peacefully through both parks.  Bison are plentiful in both units, as are wild horses and prairie dogs. The northern unit has, IMHO, the best vistas.  The scene from Riverbend Overlook (the most photographed spot in all of ND I was assured)  is breathtaking.

Riverbend Overlook in the north unit of TRNP.

I had hoped to spend two full days at the park but the weather turned hot overnight, changing the days from delightful temperatures in the high 70s to readings in the low 90s.  This posed a problem: dogs are not allowed on the hiking trails and it was too hot to leave Tango in the van.  Even the shortest of hikes was out of the question.  So we visited every overlook and sat enjoying the views.  Tango, being an absolute people magnet, brought some delightful people our way and we enjoyed short conversations with folks from all over the U.S. and some Asians.  All of us agreed that TRNP is spectacular, well worth the journey.

My epic journey is winding down. We settled for a day and a half at TRNP and this morning we turned the van east and headed for Fawn Hill in North Carolina. It was a long driving day and we are still in the Dakotas. It’s big out here, folks, but worth the effort.❧

 

On the Road – Four Great Days in Idaho

Tango and our van on Idaho Rt. 33.

Today Tango and I turned the van eastward and began our journey home. The magnificent Western mountain ranges that have filled my windshield for nearly four weeks — the Rockies, Sierra Nevadas, Cascades, Pioneers — are sadly becoming relegated to my rearview mirror, growing smaller with each mile.

Our weekend was spent in Hailey, a charming town located in the Sun Valley of Idaho. My nephew and his family–four decidedly South Californians (Michael, his wife Stacy and children Evan and Brenann)–moved to Hailey last summer.  Unusual?  Not at all. Californians appear to be moving to Idaho in droves. Michael explained it is a topic that often came up when they would get together with friends in Fallbrook but it was always a “some day” conversation.  For the Fallbrook O’Learys that “some day” was last July.

Idaho is beautiful.  Not being a winter person I can’t say that I would want to live there year-round.  This past winter gave my nephew’s family a baptism by snow.  All records were shattered. In Ketchum, just a few miles up the road from Hailey, they recorded 112″ of snow. For the math-challenged readers, that’s just 8 inches shy of 10 feet.  TEN FEET OF SNOW!  But at the present time it is gorgeous with mild temperatures and long days.

I had not seen my nephew in fifteen years. A shocking admission in today’s age I suppose but there has been a continent between us for all those years. As I drove today I reflected on communicating with far-flung family. I passed Goodale’s Cutoff, a place where emigrants drove their wagons across the high desert, trying to get around the massive lava flows that now make up the Craters of the Moon N.P.  For those hearty souls there was little hope that they would ever hear from the loved ones left behind, much less have a visit.  As I cruise along in my well-appointed van my mind often drifts to those extraordinary people who risked it all to find a better life.  Much has changed in the intervening 150 years but the quest for a better life remains and leads some to Hailey. I think they have the right idea and I wish them well. ❧

Brenann, Evan, Mike, Alice and Stacy..the O’Learys in Hailey.

On the Road – What a Difference A Day Makes

Dashboard thermometer from 5/22/2017

Ah dear readers, what a difference a day makes.  Yesterday Tango and I navigated California’s hot and crowded Interstate 5.  Today we traveled secondary roads in Oregon and life was much better.

We started early and headed for Crater Lake National Park, an hour up the road from Klamath Falls. The day was perfect. Bright blue sky and mild temperatures.  There was just one problem.  Snow ….and lots of it.

Crater Lake, it seems, naturally has one of the highest snowfalls in the U.S. According to the park brochure:

The average annual snowfall at Park Headquarters is 43 feet! The greatest cumulative snowfall for one season was 879 inches (73 feet) the winter of 1932-33. The greatest depth on the ground at one time was 258 inches (21½ feet) the winter of 1983. Most of the snow usually melts by the beginning of August, although after particularly heavy seasons, there are drifts that fail to melt before the snows return again in the fall. (emphasis mine)

This year, according to a quick Google search, was a banner year. In January a massive snowstorm hit the area which already had received 134% of its normal snowfall. So here is what we found at Crater Lake.

 

 

For a while I wondered if we would even see the Lake! All around us were mountains and walls of snow.  The roads were beautifully cleared but how to see the Lake?

Well, the U.S. Park Service is among the unheralded of our government agencies. From the pleasant young man who was at the gate before 8 a.m., to the men working to clear the roads, and the fresh young faces at the visitor center there was nothing but pride and an obvious desire to help and answer questions. We found a bit of beautifully cleared road and one magnificent vista. Oh how I love this country. ❧

On the Road – Time for Fun

A very warm Tango (it was 96 degrees) with Mt. Shasta peaking over his head.

Today Tango and I set off from Berkeley after spending four days at the Doubletree Hotel at the Berkeley Marina.  It was a wonderful place to stay, with a gorgeous park just across the street where Tango could run free in some tall grass and sniff every varmint hole on the acreage.  He was a happy boy.

We were in Berkeley for the Patients Out of Time Conference which was excellent, but very tiring. It was my third conference in four weeks and by the end of the day on Saturday I was nearly ecstatic to know there are no more conferences in the near future.  Tango and I spent Sunday engaged in R&R&R-rest, relaxation and re-organization.  The van was a minor disaster area so things came out and went back in more neatly.  The business clothes have all been moved to the bottom suitcase and the next two weeks should be just fun.

Tonight we are in Klamath Falls, Oregon, on our way to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.  We were on the road for close to eight hours, often inching our way up the middle of California on Interstate 5.  There were many delays and the horrible California traffic that I thought was an urban problem seems to pervade the State.

And such a State it is. There has been talk for decades about splitting California in two, always along some median that would run east to west. Some have even gone so far as to declare the north part of California should secede and join with part of southern Oregon into a new state called Jefferson.  There are many reasons but invariably it comes down to people in the north are different from those in the south.  But as I drove today I was struck (once again) with California’s enormous central valley and its vast agriculture bounty. It occurred to me that it might make more sense to split the state length-wise, separating the agricultural eastern section from the coastal west.  The people I saw working the fields, driving the tractors and collecting in neighborly groups in small towns were incredibly different than those I left behind in Berkeley.  Once again I wondered how this country holds together.  We are wonderfully and remarkably tolerant although one wonders how that can last in the current political climate.

But those are problems for another day. Today we started the homeward leg with stops in Idaho and North Dakota. We drove through northern California and for many, many miles  we could see Mount Shasta with a bright, white topping of snow.  It was in stark contrast to the upper 90-degree weather outside our van which was markedly different from the air-conditioned city called Berkeley.  Such an incredible place, the State of California. ❧

 

 

On the Road – God Bless the U.S.A.

Map for blog

Alice & Tango’s route so far – 4/23 to 5/14

I am just shy of three weeks on the road, about halfway through the trip. It has been great fun.  I think everyone should leave the safety of their home cocoon and get out in the world.  Despite the rather spooky presence of nearly identical shopping malls in every fair–sized hamlet, you can still catch the regional flavors that make this land a wonderful smorgasbord of ideas, ambitions, and realities.  How have we ever managed to hold it together for all these years?  Will we manage to keep it together in this current time?

Here in California you frequently hear a joking reference to seceding from the Union. With the seventh largest economy in the world, it could certainly survive on its own. No doubt the comments are similar to those uttered in the South 150 years ago, remarks  that ultimately led to the siege of Vicksburg, Mississippi where Tango and I stopped just a few weeks ago.

AOL_1388

Oklahoma City Memorial

And in Oklahoma City, Timothy McVeigh so hated the federation of the United States that he was willing to destroy hundreds of innocent lives in the name of some warped concept of a “white only” world that would rise up in answer to his atrocious act.

Make no mistake, there are problems in the U.S. of A.  Big ones. Poverty, both economic and spiritual, tops the list.  You can see the poverty, especially in the South. And even though our poorest souls have much more than many in the world at large they are still suffering. Telling them to give up their cell phones to buy health insurance really isn’t the answer.  And to be told that “no one dies from not having health insurance” is insulting. People will tolerate such treatment for only so long.

We have entered one of those phases in history where the people must guide the democracy because, obviously, there is no leadership at the top.  The corruption is mammoth in scale and must be removed.  It is our job, as citizens, to set the ship of state right again. And from what I have seen on this trip and in the news, the people are ready. ❧

On the Road, Day 5 -Windy West

 

Tango, I have decided, does not really like the constant wind of the Western plains.  My theory is that it simply overwhelms his senses, which, as we know, are so much more acute than our own.  Who knows what multitude of odors are carried by a constant 15-30 mph wind.  Too much to process.  His hearing is excellent but the wind just deafens hims, kind of like a constantly blowing hair dryer.  So, he jumps out of the van, does his job and looks at me woefully when I try to encourage him to walk with me. But he is enjoying the trip and jumps around like a puppy sometimes, mainly in the hotel rooms.  There is a major weather front moving through tomorrow and tomorrow night. Snow is forecast! Perhaps when that is event is over things will quiet down for Tango.