travel


You might think I am fixated on bathrooms. Not really, but I do appreciate a nice one, and especially a clean one, so here is another My World Tuesday post that is basically about a bathroom!

I live in New Mexico, and New Mexico has lousy rest stops. Honestly, do not stop at one unless you are dying. I would rather go behind a tree (which is a problem because there are not a lot of those along the highways in New Mexico) than stop at a rest stop in this state. I have more than one horror story relating to rest stops in New Mexico.

But Texas is different. Now it is quite a large state, so I cannot speak to every rest stop on every highway. But in the panhandle, the rest stops are nice–extremely nice. There are not many of them, but the panhandle is small. My favorite one is on the east side of  Amarillo at Exit 76 on I-40.

This rest stop is spacious and clean and just a nice place to stop. On our trips to and from Missouri, we always get gas in Amarillo (and often food), but we go to the rest stop additionally because it is cleaner, and we used to have a dog with us, so it was a better place to let him out.

Take a look.

This row of flags greets us upon entering. We think (but I was too lazy to research it) they are for all of the countries that have owned Texas.

The front entrance.

When walking into the building from the front, one crosses a bridge over this ornamental, dry riverbed. (My kids beg to play in it. I don't let them.)

A giant open field with rusted western ornaments surrounds the building on three sides. I let my kids run here. And the dog. But beware. Goatsheads may be prevalent at certain times of the year. Shoes and socks required, and you might have to take a spike out of a tender dog paw.

This is the back entrance. I just love that it is almost as nice as the front entrance.

When first entering the restroom, I am always taken by the cleanliness and nice smell. I kind of like the ceiling in there, too!

This is the floor of the bathroom stall. I think one would be hard-pressed to find a stray hair or even a spec of dust on it, let alone paper scraps and other debris!

The row of sinks. Rarely a drop of water on the counter do I find. I have never seen a janitor or worker in the bathroom. Maybe they are just so nice they inspire passers-through to keep them clean and dry.

This corridor leads from the restrooms to the front door. I like all the light.

I call this "the library." I have never seen such a large and tidy display of area information and brochures. The people working there are friendly. It is just a lovely place that makes me wish I had more time to stay.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

This was some of the holiday décor at the outdoor shopping complex, Branson Landing.

To see LOTS more terrific sky pictures or to find out how to participate in this meme, head to the SkyWatch blog.

When we were in Branson, we went to the Shoji Tabuchi Theater. Shoji is a violinist from Japan than arrived in Branson some twenty years ago. I will admit to never having visited his show (or most of the shows in Branson) until I moved away and returned as a tourist.

Over Thanksgiving we went to the Christmas show (really, REALLY nice), and I decided you needed to see the bathroom. I had seen in once before, but decked out for Christmas was even better. It won the most extreme bathroom (along with some others) in a Travel Channel Survey/Contest. The photos are not stellar as lighting was pretty and soft, and I really do not like using a flash. And I did not have a tripod, but you will get the idea.

Upon entering was this display on a sidebar-type piece of furniture.

This bright tree greeted my eyes right away as well.

This is sort of the "town square" for the bathroom stalls. Those oak doors you can see in the background are the stalls. This santa was the display in the middle for the holidays. Each stall had a wreath or something decorative in it as well.

This was the fireplace. Sorry for the flash, but it was just too dark for a non-flash photo. I loved Santa's purple suit.

Fresh orchids are placed at each sink weekly.

Fresh orchids are placed onto each sink weekly.

This is a view of the row of sinks with their pretty lights decorated for Christmas.

A chandalier dressed for the holidays. The ceiling is also purple.

The "Lotion Cart." We got there very early, so the "Lotion Lady" was not on duty yet. When you are there later, a nice lady squirts scented lotion onto your hands for you.

Leaving the restroom.

Apparently the men’s restroom is just as elaborate, but less frilly. There is a pool table (not a cheap one) in it. I am not brave enough to go in there to take pictures, but enough women are that there is a sign on the door that women should not be in there.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

Let’s be clear. My family is a city family. I am the least “citified” of all of us, but we are pretty much city folks.

When we visit Missouri, I revel in being in the country and having space. My girls love it, too, and this time they were so lucky to visit two farms during the trip. I have pictures of only one visit (I was not along for the other one), and here are a few that you  might like, too.

This is a really blurry picture (it was nearly dark, actually), but Chicklet was going for a little tractor ride, and in the background, one of her farm friends was playing on the choicest playground of all: "The Poo Pile." (My girls may be city girls, but they're not sissies. They were climbing on the pile with everyone else. Prince Charming was more concerned than anyone else about it.)

This was the reason for our farm invitation--a 1-week-old minature donkey. He is standing next to Chicklet who MIGHT be 3-1/2 feet tall.

This baby was so small, he was a little lap donkey. I think I want a lap donkey! (I heard from the person holidng him yesterday, a week later, and he barely fits in a lap now.)

Really, how many things are cuter than this? If they didn't grow up, I'd housebreak one and keep it myself!

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

Some of you will think I do nothing but travel. It is not true, but I know it seems that way. (Some of my friends think I travel ALL the time.) The past two years have had a little more than usual, I will admit.

Anyway, we are heading out for Thanksgiving. And at our destination, internet access is quite limited. I can see my e-mail periodically, but no blog visiting unless I go someplace that has wireless, which I usually do not have time for. We will be visiting Grandpa M and Grandma D. A year ago Grandma D was very sick, and she has not fully recovered. I will be cooking and such while we are there.

Chic and Chicklet are excited beyond belief. They LOVE visiting there. Grandpa M’s yard is 3 acres. That’s just the part he mows. They are not used to so much space and revel in it. (So do I.) They also get to see friends they love more than anyone. It will be a nice time.

I am slowly working through all the very heartfelt and nice comments from my two “tolerance” posts. But if I do not reply to your comment right away, know that I appreciate it. I was hoping to have more on this series by now, but life is busy, and the story has many facets. I do want to say that those posts were more of a background. The tolerance issue has bothered me for a long time, but how it applies to our family is the background for the much bigger story. I promise to get to it; it consumes my mind a lot these days.

So I will not be here for My World Tuesday or SkyWatch Friday, so I’ll leave you a couple of pictures and a recipe.

What I saw when feeding the birds a couple of chilly mornings ago.

A new bread I tried last week. I think it was called Armenian Peda bread. I have no idea if it is authentic, but it was really good, and actually quicker than most yeast breads I make.

I apologize I do not have a picture of the following recipe. I only make it on Thanksgiving, and last year I got sick that day so did not care much about taking pictures. It is my very favorite Thanksgiving food. (I turned it into Thanksgiving food.) Prince Charming does not like it (he has a few vegetable hang-ups), so I triple the recipe and eat the leftovers for a few days.

Company Brussels Sprouts

4 bacon strips, diced (I use soy “bacon”)
1 dozen Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 medium onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons snipped, fresh chives,
1 carrot, thinly sliced
10 stuffed green olives, sliced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon olive oil
pinch of salt

In a skillet fry bacon until just cooked. Drain, reserving 2 tablesppons of drippings. Add remaining ingredients; cook and stir over medium-high heat for 10-15 minutes or until Brussels sprouts are crisp-tender. Yield: 4 servings.

That’s the official version. Since I do not use “real” bacon, and I try to be healthy when it does not impair flavor, I do the soy bacon in the microwave, then saute everything in the wine for a while (leaving out the olive oil), then add the bacon at the end.  I LOVE this stuff!

Have a Happy Thanksgiving if you live where it is celebrated. If not, just have a wonderful two weekends and a terrific week in between!

This week I am taking you to Merrill Cemetery in Maanchesta, New Haampsha (Manchester, New Hampshire) for My World Tuesday. I was there about a month ago and found a letterbox . As I said in an earlier post, I decided to find letterboxes all I could so I would not be tempted to miss out on adventure.

This was at the very end of my New England trip. I had awakened that morning in Portland, Maine, then driven to Vermont (finding myself in heavy-at-times snow), then back to Manchester where I spent the night to fly out early the next morning. I was sooooo tired, and it was cold and rainy. But the letterbox called. Just one more. And I found it!

And as always, I am so glad I looked. This was the most charming cemetery in the middle of town. I hopped the stone fence from a Lowe’s parking lot on one side. The other sides were all city streets. But inside it was a completely different place. I was transported back in time and place.

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This is what I saw upon entering the quiet place. Lovely.

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Most of the tombstones were quite old. Many had the same last names on them.

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Someday I really need to show you a typical cemetery from here (New Mexico) which is so unlike this one.

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I wanted to take home some pretty leaves, but this was the best I could do.

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This is the little open space where I went over the stone fence to get in and out. It is almost as if the place is a secret, a little gem tucked into the city, and I had to find just the right place to get in.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

When I went to Maine, the official purpose was business, a stamping seminar. But the reason I chose that particular seminar was because I had never been to Maine. And my favorite airline did not fly there, so I had to fly into New Hampshire, where I had also never been.  Add Vermont to that list, and it was just too tempting to not go.

I never dreamed in all my life I would be in that part of New England during peak leaf-peeping weekend, but I was. But I am not the type to wander around aimlessly, so for the Vermont portion of the trip, I decided to look for a couple of letterboxes that might lead me somewhat off the beaten path. (Many letterboxes tend to do that.)

So early Sunday morning, I checked out of my hotel in Portland, and headed to Vermont in search of two letterboxes. This took me to Wilmington, Vermont, by way of Brattleboro, and these are a few of the pictures.

The hillsides were a riot of color, but this picture might explain why there have not been and will not be any SkyWatch pictures from Vermont. That whole day was "November Grey," a color I coined when living in Missouri when the whole month of November looked like this.

The hillsides were vibrant with colors, but this photo shows why there has not been and will not be a SkyWatch picture from Vermont (or New Hampshire, for that matter.) I call this "November Grey," a color I coined when living in Missouri and the whole month of November looked like this.

I was still having camera problems.  For those of you kind people who expressed concern last week, the problems seem to be resolved now, but I am not exactly sure how. I never change my lens, so I did not know how it could be foggy inside, but I decided to open it up and give it a look. It did not seem to be, but that process fixed the problem I was having of it not wanting to take pictures unless fully manual, so I apologize that many of these are from the car. I did not have time to stop for everything. My time was limited anyway, and the weather was bad and getting worse. I did not want to get stuck alone in a place completely foreign to me and not know what I could do to get back. So please excuse the odd angles, etc. Be grateful I was not looking through the lens most of the time while I was driving!

Upon entering both Maine and Vermont from New Hampshire, I crossed these large bridges. I liked them, and it made me realize how much water there was. Water does not divide states around here!

Upon entering both Maine and Vermont from New Hampshire, I crossed large bridges. I thought they were pretty, but it made me realize just how much water is there. In the area where I live, states are not divided by water!

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This is where I stopped to look for my first letterbox. The snow was just starting to get somewhat heavy. While I was there, the ground started to be covered. My sensible nature told me to head back, but when on an adventure of sorts, I might not always be sensible, so I went to the second letterbox.

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This was the location of the second letterbox. I cannot even imagine the view from this place when there is visibility.

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Back at lower altitudes, the snow changed back to rain. This was so typical of the houses I saw. I love the leaves in the yard and the pumpkins. Everything just looks so warm and cozy. (Because it was definitely not warm and cozy outside!)

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This was the only covered bridge I saw. But I was happy for at least one.

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Letterboxing does not use a GPS, but I had one, and after I found myself deep in the middle of nowhere, I just entered my hotel address in New Hampshire so I could find my way out. It did not take me out the regular direction, but through some remote back roads. I was so happy because I saw scenes like this.

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Many of the blogs I visit get exquisite pictures of frost on autumn leaves and flowers. That would never happen in my part of New Mexico (too dry for much frost to form, even when that cold), so I couldn't resist the snow on the autumn leaves.

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Again back in a lower altitude. I was so happy I was on back roads to see this view that is so stereotypical of New England in the fall. But what a wonderful stereotype!

Next week is Vermont, too. There was one thing I saw that I thought merited its own post.

My World is a weekly meme in which participants are virtual tour guides. Go check it out and see the worlds of others. Or better yet, take a look at the guidelines, and do your own My World Post!

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