Friday, February 09, 2018

January roundup

January gave us such a nice introduction to the new year. The transition from vacation back to life on the road can throw me for a loop sometimes, but there were so many pleasant things throughout the whole month, and our re-entry felt very easy.

We had jobs in both San Antonio and Austin, two places we always wanted to visit when we actually lived in Texas. Besides exploring, we were able to get together with an old friend of Jan Michael's (who brought us pineapple turnovers!) as well as friends from high school (who cooked us dinner and let us love on their pit bull Daisy!). We are fans of real life, face-to-face connections, homemade dessert, and snuggling sweet dogs - all things we're rarely able to do out here - so both evenings were wonderful treats.

We also spent two weekends in hotels with Targets nearby, and I took full advantage of the proximity. The way I prefer to spend an early Saturday morning is this: rising before the sun, drinking a bunch of coffee, and then going to Target (or Hobby Lobby or Old Navy etc etc) right when it opens and meandering around without having to fight crowds or worrying about where in the world I will park our behemoth of a truck. The Targets I visited each had fully stocked Dollar Spots and I found darling bits and bobs to mail out for Valentine's Day. I also found a fantastic Def Leppard t-shirt and an equally fantastic Montana sweatshirt, neither of which were the correct size, so too bad for me. I will look again at the next Target we come across 😊

What else? We found a few local holes-in-the-wall in several of the towns we stayed in, with really good food (spinach enchiladas! fried pickles! vanilla malts!). And we spent a good bit of time outside on the weekends, which always makes us happy. 

Jan Michael knew some of the story behind the Alamo and the battle that was fought there, while I knew nothing, and our visit was very interesting. I feel like we gained some insight as to why Texans are so enthusiastic about Texas 😊 Admission is also free, which was astonishing, especially considering the $120 we paid across the street for entry into Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium and the Guinness World Record Museum. (What a colossal waste of money; I'm the one who made that decision and I had buyer's remorse two seconds after I handed over the credit card.) 

At the River Walk, so much of the flora and fauna was dead, but there wasn't a horde of people to fight through, either - the pros and cons of visiting in the winter.

The capitol building in Austin is gigantic and stately, and that spindly spiral staircase at the top of the cupola makes me nervous. The figure on top of the dome is the Goddess of Liberty; the original was installed in 1888 and then replaced by a replica in 1986. Evidently lots of men have boasted about their lady loves being the model for the original, although no women have ever made such a claim, at least on the historical record 😊

We also spent part of a Saturday morning at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. There are 15 presidential libraries across the country; they are fascinating and we'd like to visit as many as we can. Besides such a huge amount of information about LBJ and his administration, we were able to see an exhibit called Read My Pins: The Madeleine Albright Collection. It was one of my favorite parts of the whole library and I'll add a link so you can read about it yourself. 

As for the outdoors, Barton Springs Pool is filled with water from a nearby spring. It's deep (18 feet at its maximum) and fairly warm (between 68 and 74 degrees), and is used no matter the season - as evidenced by the guy swimming laps at the beginning of January (while we walked around in our winter coats, ha!). It was fun to see Austin's skyline in the distance; I bet the city lights on hot summer nights look really neat. 

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Spring into summer

The last time I gave our little space here any attention, it was February and I mentioned time flying so quickly that the 4th of July would be upon us before we knew it, and now... it's the 4th of July. Yikes.

Without making any official reference to Thanksgiving being around the bend - because I know what's bound to happen if I do :) - I'll share some highlights from the spring, when we bounced back and forth between Indiana and Michigan.

The Meyer May House by Frank Lloyd Wright - Grand Rapids, MI:
As we've traveled around, we've been on the lookout for Frank Lloyd Wright houses; we've both been fans of his work since college. There's a lot out there, most of which are private residences, but a few are open for public tours, and the Meyer May House is our favorite so far. Look at those windows and the light coming through them! :) 

Purdue University - Lafayette, IN: 
I remember very clearly that the day we visited Purdue was the first day it really felt and looked like spring. It was lovely and wonderful evidence that winter is not forever :) 

The Canal Walk - Indianapolis, IN: 
Along with Chattanooga, Indianapolis is at the top of our list of big(ger) cities that don't feel like big cities and have tons of fun things to do. If we ever find ourselves living there, it will be right on the canal :) 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Catching up in the new year

Before Valentine's Day has come and gone (or, based on the speed at which time is flying, the 4th of July), just a few of my favorite pictures from December and January...

Metropolis in southern Illinois has a bit of a theme ;)

Graceland is something else all the way around, but the pool room is particularly...loud. No qualms regarding color and texture for Mr. Elvis Presley :) 

We were in an area of Tennessee towards the end of January that was surrounded by waterfalls. Yay, hooray, and yippee for hiking around in the rain and the green; it was like a little shot of WA on the other side of the country. 

Jan Michael made a friend at the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga :) 

And then, the grand finale of the month (of our entire life on the road so far, actually) was the morning we spent at Rock City in Lookout Mountain, GA. These pictures are a very inadequate representation of what we saw and felt while we were there; if fairies and elves and mermaids and gnomes live anywhere, it's here :) 

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Fall!

Sometime in the middle of November, the weather took a turn for the better - because 80-some degrees anytime after the end of September is inappropriate - and everything started to look and feel like fall in our little corner of the southern states. Tennessee is a beautiful place to freeze your fingers and toes while you watch the leaves change and flutter to the ground; I'm glad we're here to experience it :)

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Big Hill Pond State Park

My poor husband is still under the weather. (We have tested just under 1000 people over the last ten days, a good portion of whom have been hacking and coughing, sniffling and sneezing, all over our trailer. It is difficult to withstand this kind of assault to the immune system, even with a gallon-sized jug of hand sanitizer and dozens of containers of Lysol wipes.) Anyway, this will be another quiet weekend spent at 'home.' I am going to spend part of today scouring Pinterest for Thanksgiving recipes using the Instant Pot as well as starting to figure out this year's Christmas card. And I'm going to drink iced pumpkin spice coffee while I do it, too. 

Big Hill Pond State Park is in Pocohontas, TN and we took ourselves there one afternoon about three weeks ago. There are lots of riding trails, both for horses and mountain bikes, but we had neither, so we just used our feet :)
There is a mile-long boardwalk winding through part of the park that is (inappropriately, we think) called Dismal Swamp...
There is also a 70-foot tall observation tower...
...and a big pond :) 

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tennessee

We had our very first job in our very own trailer at the end of September in Memphis, and have been traveling around the western part of the state ever since, which means we've been Tennesseans for just under a month. And...we like it here! Our schedule says we'll be keep meandering between Memphis and Nashville at least through the end of November, and we're glad for more time to explore.

Yesterday we'd planned to visit Graceland and the National Civil Rights Museum, but we both seem to be fighting off the creeping crud, so decided to lie low instead. We're keeping quiet again today, so I will use the time to plunk myself down with vitamin C and share some pictures.

I mentioned a few posts ago that it's been a neat experience to see fields and fields of new-to-us things growing everywhere, and in Tennessee that means cotton. This might be our favorite field yet :)
We have a friend who grew up in Memphis and told us that picking cotton by hand is tricky business. Now we've seen for ourselves what she meant; yikes!

The Hatchie National Wildlife Refuge is an area of swampy bottomland covering thousands of acres, and we spent an early morning there while staying in Brownsville. We were so taken with the perfect reflections on the water; I told Jan Michael it made up for the absence of alligators :)
We enjoyed it so much that later in the evening we went back to a different area of the refuge for more peace & quiet and oohing & ahhing. 

The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center was across the parking lot from our motel - we could see it from our window, even - and somehow we didn't figure this out until the afternoon before we were set to leave Brownsville. It was closed for the day by the time we made our way over, so all we managed was a quick look at the outside of Tina Turner's old elementary school building, which now houses a collection of her memorabilia. The center also houses museums about the Hatchie River, cotton production and the music of west Tennessee; we'd like to visit all of it if we're ever in the area again. (Bonus: it's free!)

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Louisiana and Mississippi

First of all, on this, the first day of October, I would like to express my delight in the fact that I wore a sweatshirt today. Fall comes to the south, y'all!

But back to September, when we spent a day in Louisiana and then a few more in Mississippi with Derek and Sara while we worked at a shipbuilding company. (I've not really mentioned the actual work portion of this new gig of ours, but there is work, yes indeed.)

Derek and Sara have recently traded hotel living for RV dwelling, and as such, they are able to stay in some really incredible state parks. In Louisiana this means being surrounded by swamps and alligators.
We were tooling around on Derek and Sara's bikes when we rounded the bend to see Derek standing on a bank, motioning for us to pipe down because...
Meeting an alligator in the wild is not something that happens in the PNW, and watching him sit in the sun was my favorite experience yet. BUT THEN. Jan Michael and Derek had wandered across the road and I turned back around to admire him one more time when he stood up, slipped into the water, AND SWAM STRAIGHT AT THE BANK. I nearly collapsed in excitement, and it was no easy feat to scream silently in order to alert my husband and brother as to what was happening, but I managed it. And then the three of us stood together while he floated three feet away. Amazing.

And then in Pascagoula, MS there is a road (Beach Blvd) that runs right along the water, with beautiful houses. I know very little about architectural style, but these seem like a (fun!) mix between southern plantation, farm and beach house. 

While we were in MS, Derek and Sara stayed at a campground in the Gulf Islands National Seashore and this was the view not long before the sun said goodnight. I am certain there were gators in this water, but they must have been too shy to come say hello :)