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 – 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. ❧

Squirrel Buster, Yes! Bear Buster, No!

 

 

IMG_0727Back in North Carolina, getting a late start on the summer season but better late than never.

This return to our summer place was made extra easy because my sister arrived the day before I did and had the house open, the refrigerator stocked, and my bed made.  How cool is that!

As I got settled into things I realized that the large Squirrel Buster bird feeder I had bought last summer was missing.  I also had a very bent hanging rod.  These two things were a mystery because I knew I had put away all my feeders.  And the I remembered getting a text from my neighbor who thought I was arriving in late April and told me she had checked the house and filled the bird feeder for me.

It occurred to me that something took the feeder…something big!

IMG_0726I found the feeder down the hill in the woods and if a squirrel did this to my feeder it may be time to head south again!  🙂

No, the answer is clearly a bear.  One that saw an opportunity and, literally, grabbed it.  With no people, lights or dogs the feeder was easy pickings, just pull it off that pesky hook and away he went.

The feeder is repairable and, yes, I will continue to feed my fine feathered friends.  But feeders will be locked up tight as long as the house is empty.  Sorry bears.  ❧

New Zealand Memories

Too long between posts here.  My bad.  I love posting on Alice’s Wanderland and have been annoyed with myself for not getting here more often.  But that’s a waste of time. Best to move on and get my life re-adjusted so that I have time again for this labor of love.

For a while I tried to post some new image or video every time.  But the fact is, I have a lot of old photos and videos that also deserve posting.  And I have come to realize that blogs give us a chance, paraphrasing Paul Simon, to preserve our memories because, increasingly, they are all that is left.  Like most people these days I have so many pictures and tapes.  I can’t post them all but this discipline of a blog forces me to choose the best.  I can share AND have a spot where I know my memories are safe from cluttered hard drives and paper stacks.

Today’s post is one of my all time favorites.  It is a short video (5 minutes) that I put together following my trip to New Zealand in 2006.  The pictures are all mine.  The music is from an electronic group called AeTopus.  On their website it is said, “With subtle, pastoral elegance, AeTopus reveals a world that is simultaneously foreign and familiar – an aural mosaic rich in spiritual contemplation, seasonal variance, and ancient ritual.”  That is a perfect description of their song “Psychic Slumber.”  It is also a perfect description of New Zealand.

October in New Zealand is equivalent to April in the Northern Hemisphere.  It is spring.  So we saw flowers and snow, waterfalls galore and lots of baby lambs.  And we saw penguins, in the wild, following a rather harrowing hike through trees and streams…in the pouring rain.  It was cold.  I have rarely been so ecstatic.  When you see the final image of the video you might understand what I mean.❧

 

 

Down Under Again

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The Southern Hemisphere Night Sky With Moon Setting

The night time sky of the Southern Hemisphere is really spectacular.  Last night it was finally clear enough to shoot some stars.  I’m not sure that you’ll be able to see it very well.  I recommend clicking on the image.  It will open in a separate window and you should be able to see it better.  My friends home has little ambient light and once the moon set (visible above in the bottom part of the picture) the stars just popped out of the sky.  The Milky Way was gorgeous and the Southern Cross presented itself in a stellar way.

I’m in Australia for a symposium that convenes on Saturday.  I’m looking forward to speaking and meeting with my medical cannabis colleagues in this fabulous country.  I’m sure I will bring home many memories.  But the Southern Hemisphere night time sky was a wonderful treat that will stay with me for a long while. ❧

Orchids!

Here in Florida spring has sprung and we are already having hints of summer weather.  But nothing too bad as yet and everything is using this time to bloom and be happy.  Mary’s friend Bob Milner maintains a beautiful orchid garden under the oak trees.  Here are some spring blooms.  If you wish a bigger and closer look just click on the image. ❧

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#314 – Return to the earth that which it creates

Dale View Collage

 

My primary reason for journeying to Australia was to visit with my dear friends Craig Hosmer and Daryl Reinke. We met some forty years ago in Washington, DC.  They have been the most constant and generous friends.

In 1994 they retired to Australia, Daryl’s birth place.  For years they had dreamed of a bigger garden and, by gum, they got one!  They purchased 40 acres of cleared land on the Sunshine Coast. It had been cow pasture for decades but it was previously rain forest and they set out to return the land to its original state.  Their success has been spectacular.  In the two pictures above you can see their land from my first trip in August 2001 and the same land fourteen years later.

Lots can happen in fourteen years, obviously.  Things change. Friends and family pass away. New babies are born, so are new countries.  But amidst all the swirl and chaos there is, as Paul Simon so eloquently put it, “the automatic earth.”  Treat it tenderly and it is your friend for life…literally.

In 2001 we planted a tree in honor of Robert, my late husband, who had been gone for just three months. We planted it along the left edge of that pond you can see in the top photo. And just below you can see what a difference fourteen years can make.

Craig and Daryl in front of Robert's tree, November 2015.

Craig and Daryl in front of Robert’s tree, November 2015.

Planting Robert's tree on Sept. 4, 2001

Planting Robert’s tree on Sept. 4, 2001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in Australia I learned about the Butchulla people, an Aboriginal tribe that lives on Fraser Island. Their tribe has few laws but the first is, “Whatever is good for the land comes first.”   Part of Robert’s ashes are in that magnificent tree and it is good.  ❧