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!

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I'll admit to shamelessly looking like a tourist while taking pictures on this trip!

I'll admit to shamelessly looking like a tourist while taking pictures on this trip!

Last month after my semi-annual sojourn to Missouri, we took a “side trip” to North Dakota. (Prince Charming is from North Dakota.) But on the way to North Dakota from Missouri is South Dakota. And South  Dakota boasts De Smet which was one of the places Laura Ingalls Wilder lived. Like many American girls, I became smitten with Laura when my elementary school teacher read the “Little House” books to us during rainy recess periods. I related to Laura because I had mud-brown hair as did she (and all the charmed people had golden hair), and I was born in Mansfield, Missouri, where she lived a great deal of her married life.

DeSmet was full of these giant locust trees whose blossoms had a most pleasing scent.

DeSmet was full of these giant locust trees whose blossoms had a most pleasing scent.

Her house in Mansfield has been turned into a museum, but I have not taken my children there, even though we visit so often.  We took many field trips there when I was in elementary school, an I must admit I was a bit bored with it. Touring houses full of antiques does not hold the attention the average 5- and 7-year-old, so I decided long ago to wait until my girls were older to do that. Plus we are near there twice a year, so we can do that any time.

The surveyor's house where Laura lived when her family first moved to South Dakota. This house has been moved from its original site.

The surveyor's house where Laura lived when her family first moved to South Dakota. This house has been moved from its original site.

But DeSmet is different.  There are two areas devoted to Laura Ingalls Wilder. One is mostly in the town of DeSmet, and one is at the old homestead. The Laura Ingalls Wilder Memorial Society runs the town portion, and they have some very fun things to do.  They have collected several original buildings, or point out where you can see them, and made replicas of others. We did not tour houses and schools for the same reason we have not visited Mansfield (though I personally REALLY wanted to–but we’ll be back there again), but they had a fun scavenger hunt that was just perfect for our girls. They got to ride in a “covered wagon” all over town while Prince Charming pulled them. At various stops (landmarks from Laura’s books), they found postcards to put in a mini scrapbook. They had a blast. They were Laura and Mary, I was Ma, Prince Charming was Pa, and our dog was Jack. (This  happens quite often, but they were really in the spirit of it there.)

What is better than being in a "covered wagon" pulled all over town?

What is better than being in a "covered wagon" pulled all over town?

This post includes  a few stops we made in the above wagon. Next week I will take you to the Homestead.

At the depot we found a letterbox AND a scavenger hunt postcard. We were lucky enough to get there when a train was coming through. The girls were mesmerized.

At the depot we found a letterbox AND a scavenger hunt postcard. We were lucky enough to get there when a train was coming through. The girls were mesmerized.

At the site of the memorial society is a replica of the school where Laura taught. My girls honest could have spent at least a couple of hours there pretending to be teachers and students.

At the site of the memorial society is a replica of the school where Laura taught. My girls honestly could have spent at least a couple of hours there pretending to be teachers and students.

This was the house the Ingalls family had in town. It was, however, too far away from the town center (a very few blocks) during "The Long Winter," so they moved to the a place on Main Street during winter. This house offers tours. Hopefully next time...

This was the house the Ingalls family had in town after Laura married. This house offers tours. Hopefully next time...

"Pa" helped build the frames for the stained glass windows in this church. The Ingalls family would probably flip if they saw the VBS program they were doing this summer.  (The same one my church did which nearly made me flip.)

"Pa" helped build the frames for the stained glass windows in this church. The Ingalls family would probably flip if they saw the VBS program they were doing this summer. (The same one my church did which nearly made me flip.)

This was a replica of the school Laura and her sisters attended. Inside was a hands-on discovery area. In this photo, Chic is writing her name in braille by gluing split peas to paper.

This was a replica of the school Laura and her sisters attended. Inside was a hands-on discovery area. In this photo, Chic is writing her name in braille by gluing split peas to paper.

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!

Two days ago it was my “Blogiversary.” There was another post scheduled for that day, and I do not get terribly wrapped up in these things, so I did not say anything. But I want to say something now because I will do a giveaway, and I LOVE to do giveaways!

But first, you must endure some of my chatter mostly about our trip. It will be a hodgepodge as this blog has seemed to be over the past year. (Or you can skip to the giveaway stuff at the end!)

Chic~Turtle

Chic found a turtle just as we were headed to church. Since turtles are not common in our world, I HAD to let her play with it a few minutes. (We were late to church.)

We were almost 2 weeks in Missouri. (It WAS two weeks if we count the travel days.) When I make these trips, the purpose for them is for my business, but that only takes a day. The rest of the time I visit family and friends, shop (I hate shopping and rarely do it here, but there are necessities so I do it in Missouri where I have more time, and the stores I like are closer) and maybe spend a day or two in Branson. (My dad loves to take us to Branson.) But this trip was a little different.

Remember Grandma D and on her birthday she was in the hospital after a botched surgery? Well, that has not gone well. She almost died three separate times since that surgery. (Needless to say, they are not paying any of the medical bills.) I realized right away that it was going to be a burden for us to be there so long, so I decided to do the cooking and some cleaning. Prince Charming scanned some of my recipes, e-mailed them to me and that’s what I did most of the time. I did not cook EVERY day, but quite a bit, and made enough that they should have had plenty for at least a week after we left. We did not go shopping the entire time. That was fine, but there were a few things I needed.

Scissortail Flycatcher on wire--click photo to enlarge

Scissortail Flycatcher on wire--click photo to enlarge

The girls and I drove to Missouri not long after school was out, then Prince Charming flew in after two weeks. He was there one full day, but we had lunch with a former professor of his that day and planted two letterboxes. One is in honor of the Scissortail Flycatcher that we always used to see on a road on which we lived. I took my bike on this trip in hopes for some exercise (moderately successful) and found the bird in two other areas I had never seen before. My camera lens is not made to get good bird shots, but these are not bad. I like the still one, and the other one is a bit blurry, but you can at least see the tail action. It is so interesting to watch them fly.

Scissortail Flycatcher in flight -- click photo to enlarge.

Scissortail Flycatcher in flight -- click photo to enlarge.

It also must be noted that I have wonderful friends in Missouri. During the two weeks I was there, my children were whisked away from me four times (in addition to the two times I needed babysitting), and three of those times included overnight stays. (It gives a parent pause to think about the advantages of moving back to the land of heat and humidity–and no job for my husband!)

My brother and his wife also live there. His wife is who went to Silver Dollar City with us. We could not have survived the day without her! But since my girls are never in Missouri on their birthdays, they decided to have a birthday party for them. The girls were so excited, and it turned out to be a surprise for yours truly as well, since MY birthday is never when we visit! Wasn’t that thoughtful?

BirthdayCake~Candles

During all the cooking I sliced my finger with a very. sharp. vegetable peeler. I am no wimp, but this was a bad cut. WARNING! GORY PHOTO AHEAD. I’LL LEAVE SOME SPACE SO YOU CAN SKIP IT IF YOU WANT. It was about 3/4″ long, 3/16″ wide and 1/8″ deep. It bled like crazy. I finally managed a bandage and antibiotic cream, and the picture is of it after two days of this. There was barely any healing at this point.

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The reason I am even telling you this is because Grandma D had a liquid bandage which I put applied on the 3rd day. I did not take pictures of the healing progression (I really am not a very good blogger, but I will say that I have other things going on all of the time), but in ONE day the cut had reduced in size by more than half. Three days later, it was all but healed. Now I can just barely see where it was, and I do not even think it is going to leave an ugly scar. (Bump. I really don’t care about scars, but I have a bump on a finger from a childhood cut.) This blog is NOT about product endorsements, but if you have never tried this stuff, it is SO worth it! I made Prince Charming buy some. I think it will also be great in our dry, dry winters when our fingers have big, ugly cracks in them. Oh, it hurts like the dickens to put it on if the wound is as bad as mine was, but if you do a little Lamaze breathing, you can survive, and it will be well in no time. (I know this is not a new item, and I had heard of it but never tried it because I had no idea how well it worked.)

LiquidBandage

Time for the giveaway information!

First, I do not like to do this to get more traffic or comments, so you are required to E-MAIL ME if you want to be entered! Just e-mail louisestamps at aol dot com and let me know you want to enter. (Please put “giveaway” in the subject line.)  There will be two winners. Prince Charming will draw names, and the first one has first choice of what s/he wants.  The other person will get what is left. (But I do not make slouchy things, so I think that is OK, and it is free, OK?)

Here is an idea of the prizes:

1) Handmade cards. There will be these four, but I will probably throw in a couple of others for which I did not immediately have samples.

4Cards

2) A Banner. But not this one or one even like it, but you get the idea. I have not made it yet, and I decided to wait because the winner can pick the colors (within reason). It will be a “SUMMER” banner (NOT “MERRY”). It is a home decor item–large enough to fit over a double window or in a hallway. Each pennant is about 6″ wide and 9″ long. (I did not measure, but am doing this from a memory. I am too lazy at the moment to get out something to measure.)

MerryBanner

You have a week, through Wednesday, July 1, to e-mail me. If these things do not interest you, but you think they might interest someone you know, consider entering to give as a gift.

I am also thinking of adding a third prize, but you can tell me if you would be interested. I am not a great photographer. I take some very good pictures, but I do not edit them (other than occasional cropping when I am not too lazy) and I have still not figured out all the manual settings on my camera. I hesitate to do this one because I am so small in a big photography world. But I know a few have really liked some of my pictures. So I could also make a set of cards from my pictures. If you want to enter and that interests you, let me know. It could be a “Louise’s choice” thing, or the winner could choose from pictures I have posted.

OK, I think that’s it for today. But I forgot to tell you THANK YOU for hanging with me for a year. I went back and read a few of my first posts, and many of my readers are the same. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that you come and read the drivel things I write and look at my photos. If it were not for you, I know I would have quit blogging entirely the couple of times I have had to take extended breaks due to my crazy schedule. YOU keep me coming back! Thank you.

This is the week-long (ish) tale of where I was a year ago today, which was on a Bermuda cruise with Prince Charming.

For Part 1,  go here.

For Part 2, go here.

For Part 3, go here.

For Part 4, go here.

For Part 5, go here.

For Part 6, go here.

We woke up when it was barely dawn I looked out the door to the outside of our cabin, and I could see some of the New York skyline. We were already going very slowy in the river.

2008-04-05darkcity

The first picture is fuzzy because it was too dark (at least for me) to make it any other way.

I went out on the balcony to take the photo and was greeted with an unpleasant odor. I do not know if it was the river or just air that was not fresh and clean. It was not the best welcome back to the mainland, but we were so ready to go home and see our girls.  We were supposed to arrive around noon Albuquerque time.

The next photo is right before we turned the corner to dock.

2008-04-05lightercity

click photo to enlarge (it's lots better, really!)

We decided we ought to shower and get ready at this point, but we were not to disembark until around 9, so we cleared out and went to wait in one of the common areas with my friend.  It had been a lovely time–one of the loveliest of my life. But that was important because the rest of the day turned out to not be so lovely.

I will not bore you with the details because everyone has airline horror stories. I will just say that we had a canceled flight and were met with incompetence at every turn. The only intelligent people we dealt with the rest of the day (which lasted until 1 a.m. the next morning for us, and we were still not home) were the flight crew of the plane on which we finally flew out of New York–around 8 p.m.–after standing in the galley for two hours because we did not actually HAVE seats on that plane. It was really amazing. And don’t even THINK our luggage arrived with us! We got home around noon the next day–10 days after we left our daughters. They had been troopers, but they were finished, too! We were  lucky and grateful for some wonderful friends that took care of them while we were away.

So I will end with the rest of the towel animals since several of you asked about them!  The last two were my favorites.

towelcollage1

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towelcollage2

This is the week-long (ish) tale of where I was a year ago today, which was on a Bermuda cruise with Prince Charming.

For Part 1,  go here.

For Part 2, go here.

For Part 3, go here.

For Part 4, go here.

For Part 5, go here.

This was a sea day. I only took 6 photos that day as the sea was rough and pretty much looked the same. So you get two of the six. (Had I even had an idea about the possibility of blogging then, I probably would have taken all kinds of pictures of things on the ship just for the sake of telling a story, but that was not the case.)

2008-04-04roughsea

We were so finished with our “honeymoon” by this time. We had been eight days away from our kids–the longest ever. (Previously, the longest from both kids had been three days, but we were away from Chic for six days once, when she was six months old, because SHE went on vacation without us!)

This day we went to the lecture about how to leave the ship. Had we known it would be playing on the television continually after that, we would not have gone. We also went to another art auction which we had decided was fun. It must be noted, however, that nearly everyone on the ship was there without paying for their passage. Remember I earned this cruise through my St@mpin’ Up! business, and I did not pay for the trip for either myself or Prince Charming. That was the case of most people. St@mpin’ Up! charters a whole ship and what cabins people do not earn they either sell at unbelievably cheap rates to their employees, give away to charity for auctions (those are probably the only people who really paid a reasonable rate) or give away to other people. This cruise had 85 National Guard families on it courtesy of St@mpin’ Up! The point here is that the art auctions were quiet (according to the auctioneers) because the crowd was so different than a regular cruise .  It probably would have been more exciting with lots of people who like to buy art there, spending money and bidding higher, but that was not the case. But we had a great time looking at everything anyway.

We took a nap that day, too. We never went to the pool at all. It seems as if we were on the ship, we just needed a nap.

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That evening after dinner we returned to our cabin to find the least elaborate towel animal of the trip. It was still cute, but I think the staff was tired, too, although we would have never known it by their constant smiles and helpfulness.

Tomorrow, New York again.

The post below this one is for SkyWatch.

This is the week-long (ish) tale of where I was a year ago today, which was on a Bermuda cruise with Prince Charming.

For Part 1,  go here.

For Part 2, go here.

For Part 3, go here.

For Part 4, go here.

click photo to enlarge

click photo to enlarge

The sunrise was wonderful our last morning in Bermuda. (Mind you we had been to the midnight buffet the night before, so I was wishing I was not the type to be awake when the sun rises, but I am that type, so might as well take a few photos.  We did not stay at the midnight buffet; it was far too crowded. I only elbowed my way in for two pictures; we did not eat even one delicacy. But in our short time there, two Dean Martin songs were played on the sound system: “Mambo Italiano” and “Sway.” It was great because those are both two of the favorite songs of  Chic and Chicklet. Had I been able to, I would have called them and awakened them from their slumber just to tell them. I am sure they would not have been impressed, but the purpose of Moms is not to impress children, then, is it?)

Our goal for our last day (partial day at that because we had to return our scooters around 2 p.m.) was to find a beach so yours truly could really get IN the ocean–not just get her feet wet. This turned out to be not such a good day for it, but even though cold-blooded, I can be a hardy sort when it comes to doing something I really want to do.

We found one beach that we did not like, so we checked the map and tried another. It was a goldmine! There was a really nice old fort there that we checked out before making our way to the water.

2008-04-032fort

After that we tried to find a path to the beach, of which there seemed to be no evidence. So we climbed down over some rocks.

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At first this is all I could do with getting wet. The temperature was probably between 50 and 55 degrees (Fahrenheit). It was not only cloudy, but foggy (as you can see in many of the photos). My how dedicated I can be about the ocean!

2008-04-033looking

The beach was small, but fun to explore for tiny shells and other marine life. I waded to another tiny beach away from where we climbed down the rocks. This one was made just for two, but alas, Prince Charming is not as enamored by the ocean as is his wife, so he did not even take off his shoes that day.

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I eventually adjusted to the coldness and started gradually jumping waves to get farther and farther out.

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If you go here (scroll down when you get there) you can see a picture of when a wave (painfully) smacked the back of my head. Prince Charming obviously knew it was coming but did not bother to warn me. He instead pretended to be doing a photo shoot and got a pretty good picture of it.

Eventually I made it out far enough to swim, but it was so very cold. Maybe I lasted fifteen minutes, but it was not a day for swimming. The fun part (imagine all sarcasm in my voice) was getting on the scooter all wet, but what else are adventures for?

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When we were leaving, we found quite a different path than when we arrived. It was a much nicer exit.

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Our ship left port around 4 or 5 in the evening. I got a couple of pictures, then took a nap.

It was the last formal  night.

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I took this dessert delivery photo for my girls. This probably would have been the highlight for them had they joined us. At this point we were missing them a lot.

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There was nothing but a day at sea and day in airports left, so we were finished and wanted to see our girls. But lucky for you, there are still those day to cover in this story, so stay tuned tomorrow and Sunday!

For Part 1,  go here.

For Part 2, go here.

For Part 3, go here.

Today it is just a sky picture. We were letterboxing AND shopping this day (just a few loose ends in St. George). This was taken from the back of the scooter while crossing a causeway near St. George.

Blue is not my favorite color; in fact, it might fall into my least-favorite category. But THIS kind of blue in the water and sky is just happiness itself to me.

near St. George, Bermuda. Click photo to enlarge.

near St. George, Bermuda. Click photo to enlarge.

By the way, it SNOWED here yesterday (In Albuquerque, not Bermuda. The Bermuda picture was a year ago today.) Yes, snowed. OK, only flurries where I live, but it has not been warm here since I was complaining about it being cold last week.

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