Monday, October 26, 2015


Dearest Readers,
Coming into Portland on I-84 on the old Oregon Train merged with the Lewis and Clark Trail
Attendant Alex pumps my gas_self-serve is against the law in Oregon!
Ta-Da! After a final fill-up in Pendleton Oregon, I arrived in Portland at last, driving yesterday into town in a driving rain. I'm still in bed today at 10:30....I need the rest.

Here are two final photos. one of  me with my daughter, Ayla (Joel is taking the picture) and one of my grandson Henry and I in my new apartment...a former 2-car garage converted beautifully into my new place.
Ayla, Cecelia and traveling frog, Wai, in my apt. in Portland OR
Cecelia and Henry in Portland Oregon on Sunday afternoon_10.25.2015

Thanks to all for coming along for the ride!

Sunday, October 25, 2015


8 am Pacific Time. Pendleton OR

I’m in Oregon people! Due to reach Portland and my loving daughter and her family this afternoon!
Snake River crossing from Idaho to OREGON!
Yesterday I crossed the Snake River from Idaho to Oregon, like the nearly 50,000 pioneers who travelled the old Oregon Trail in the mid-1800s. I transitioned to Pacific Time and made a mental note per a road sign, that Etta and I had crossed the 45th Parallel, meaning we were situated half way between the Equator and the North Pole. 

The landscape changed as well, morphing from the beef cattle and corn agriculture of the flatland desert around Boise, to treeless hills, and gradually to fully forested tall pine peaks as we drove further into the state, hugging the Washington border along I-84. 
Flat desert out of Boise becomes hilly

A steep treeless mountain pass in Huntington Oregon near the Snake River
Another steep pass with blobs of naked mountains (except for sagebrush)
At last tall evergreens and Fall-yellow tamaracks on the Scenic Blue Mtn corridor of I-84 near La Grande OR

Deadman Pass was a slow climb for me and a steep descent, but the valley below in the basin of the Rockies opened up like the Promised Land. I can only imagine what those early emigrants felt at the sight, after so much struggle for a better life.
Good coffee at last!
This is Paula, first day barista at the Starbucks inside the Safeway supermarket in Baker City OR. I was so delighted to get a good cup of coffee! The brew on my journey was generally terrible…weak, tepid, tasteless or non- existent. (I admit to being a coffee snob!)

I’d also like to introduce you to Alexander the Great on the right, and his partner (I did not get his name) at their Chocolate Shop in downtown Pendleton. A bicyclist saw me staring in the shop window and said, ”Believe me, that place is the best”. All the chocolate treats on sale were made on site, organic and yummy. I tried a cold creamy chocolate drink, and bought a can of the ingredients with his homemade recipe.

What an amazing place-Pendleton Oregon with it's revitalized downtown!

It has statues to rodeo riders and pioneers, like George Fletcher above, African-American 2nd place Champion Bronco Rider of the World_1911.

a bronze statue commemorating Stella Darby, a madam of the “Cozy Rooms” in the first half of the last century:
Etta james and Madam Stella Darby
and a statue to Kathleen McClintock, the Roundup Rodeo pageant queen in 1929 for being the face of all the women who supported those cowboy events:

Well, it’s time to head out for the final 210 miles to Portland. This will be a bittersweet end to the journey. I’ve had fun, not drudgery along the way. 

Only bad part...I slammed my thumb in the car door trying to feed Etta quickly in a Utah parking lot squeezed next to a pickup trying to exit his space...not bad!

Saturday, October 24, 2015


Dearest Readers,

At the Great Salt Lake
This is Wai again, the hairy green frog creature temporarily loaned to me by Becky Jensen at the Peacham Library. Wai means water in the Maori language of New Zealand, I’m told, where he began his traveling life. He and my arm are stretched out by a northern bay of the Great Salt Lake near Willard, UT. Promontory Point juts out in the far distance behind us, blocking the larger view of the lake.

Great Ogden Mtn with a suburb nestled below

Goodbye to the great Ogden Mountain God with a frost in the morning air. 

Hello to more desert landscapes:

mountain passes with no services:

Descending Rattlesnake Pass-still in Utah

and a scary slew of caution signs today near the Idaho border, warning of the following disasters in these words:
“Frequent High Winds. Occasional Blinding Dust Storms”. “Wildfire Alert: Cellular #FIRE”. Moderate Fire Danger Today (on a sign-gauge with a moveable arrow), and Deer Migration Crossing Area–10 miles.
Deer migration crossing and various possible disasters area

Luckily there were no deer yesterday and the day was sunny and mild.
Moving right along at 65 mph into Idaho
Idaho has its own Hulk of a Mountain Being flaunting its size and beauty on the desert floor:
Lovely desert Rocky Mtn. near Holbrook, Idaho

but the dry surroundings flattened out again, and were planted with corn and crops with the help of lots of irrigation I’m sure:
Desert agriculture in Heyburn in southern Idaho
My friends the Rocky Mountains rose again on the horizon as I pulled into Boise:

On to Pendleton, Oregon today, my last 300 mile stopping point before the final jaunt to Portland tomorrow on Sunday, October 25th.  Is it possible that this inspirational trip is nearly over?

Friday, October 23, 2015


Dearest Readers,

8 am Mountain Time. Beautiful Ogden Utah
Approaching Ogden Utah
Spectacular desert journey yesterday from Rawlins Wyoming to Ogden Utah.  I’m in the thick of the Rockies in all their stark awesome beauty now. The mountains rise up like giants erupting right behind the city. The desert terrain adds to the rocky alien splendor for me. I’m used to thick stands of mountain-loving hardwoods and tall pines . There are almost no “normal-sized” trees in the desert I passed through. 
Sagebrush and gnarly bushes at a rest stop along I-80 in Coalville UT
At a rest stop a nature sign described the sagebrush as “Mama Sage”.  There are 13 varieties of this hardy plant that can survive on less than 6 inches of annual precipitation. It provides food and shelter for 150 desert species from wild horses to antelope, jackrabbits, tiny rodents, reptiles, birds, and insects.
Etta inspects little creature holes 

Wyoming's Great Continental Divide Basin
I crossed the Continental Divide twice in Wyoming at 7,000 and 6,900 feet elevations, then dove down into the wide open desert basin with its infinite stretches of earth and sky. I decided to enjoy the ride, and the imposing mountains up ahead along the horizon. I gave up trying to do the 80 mph official speed limit. The Scion toaster car was struggling to get up the mountains loaded like she is. I rolled along at 60-65 mph letting the trucks and cars sail past me.There wasn't much traffic.

Utah, and Wyoming near the Utah border provided the most dramatic mountain scenery. Buttes, bluffs, sand dunes, clay formations, mesas (table-tops), red clay striated mounds, and lovely pastel striped geological sedimentation.
Here's a sampling:

I left old man I-80 West around Ogden and will continue west and north on I-84.
My cross-country trip has been a delightful process of dramatizing a new phase of my life.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Dearest Readers,

8 am Mountain Time.  32 degrees and foggy in Rawlins WY. I-80 rolls on outside my hotel window, with its armadas of 18-wheelers.
Crossing the Rockies from Cheyenne to Laramie_red rock and pine bluffs
Yesterday I started my trek through the Rockies at 80 mph (the state speed limit)! No more Great Plains. 
Dense fog at 8,650 feet heading towards Laramie
Elk Mtn. near Rawlins with snow on top

View of Rawlins from my hotel

I’m in Rawlins, a mining town (Uranium and red iron ore) and petroleum. 

Lots of engineers and mechanical men in white pickups with painted company signs on the doors are staying here at the Pronghorn Inn. I asked one man this morning what work they do, and he said “in the oil fields”. These guys are ruddy faced and mostly burly…some with longish hair. They carried hard hats and wore jackets and boots smeared with dried mud. They are called roustabouts I think. Their work looks hard and very physical. No one smiled during the free breakfast, but they talked a lot.

Downtown Rawlins seems's been revitalized against the usual sprawl of fast food, chain stores and hotels near I-80. Etta and I checked it out.
Etta James looking for food and a place to pee (no grass or dirt anywhere downtown)

The main shopping street

Freestanding mural by Ray J. '03
The Strand_Rawlins WY

Rawlins is located in a wide valley called the Continental Divide Basin. Sagebrush, western terrain, bluffs, big sky, horse and cattle ranches and rock outcroppings say “Forever West”–according to the Welcome-to-Wyoming sign on I-80.
Rock outcroppings in weird pile-ups of stone on I-80 west

sagebrush, scruffy pines and dusty terain

Beautiful sky and wide open land

I found this bejeweled skull earring INSIDE my car yesterday when leaving Ogallala, Nebraska. How in the world? Perhaps outside Marguerita’s Mexican restaurant someone had the urge to toss it on my driver’s seat. I had the windows open a bit while Etta sat inside, probably wagging her tail at the intruder. I’ll consider it "a her" who will be my ironic good omen.
The mysterious, magical skull found inside my car!