Autumn Road Trip

Saturday we hit the road with a load of 720 fresh Douglas Fir Christmas Trees – final seedestination San Antonio, TX. Imagine all that Christmas joy packed into a 52 foot trailer!

Our route is taking us through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Western Texas. On day 2 we drove on one of the most beautiful highways in the Southwestern U.S. – U.S. Highway 191 in Utah. We drove past the entrance to Arches National Park, and Moab. There was not time to stop, but we promised ourselves to return when we have more time.

Just down the road we decided to take our mandatory 30 minute rest break at the Kane Springs Rest Area (just the other side of The Hole in the Wall). What an amazing 30 minutes! I kid you not, this was one of the most scenic, beautiful rest areas I have been in. (And we have seen more than our share). I practically flew out of the truck to walk around and take these photos for you.

Thinking about these photos later, I realized how fortunate we were to be here in the fall. Love the play of the light thru the lacy tree branches and how the color of the trees matches the red rocks. We walked around with the pup and climbed on the rocks. 

These trips are all about seeing this beautiful country we live in, and making memories together. This short 30 minute stop is now a beautiful memory to be replayed over and over again.

A bit later we paused one more time for these snapshots. It was a Sunday afternoon, with many people out enjoying the day – climbing on the rocks in the sun.

We have traveled down the road now, and will be delivering those Christmas Trees tomorrow. We are looking forward to making new memories as we make our way down the road.

See you again soon.

*click the a photo to view individually.

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US Capitol Christmas Tree – 2018

The National Christmas Tree – the one they decorate and put up on the west lawn of the US Capitol – is coming from the Willamette National Forest.  The tree was cut from the Sweet Home Ranger District and is 70 feet tall with a 24 inch diameter trunk, weighs 8,300 pounds and is 35-years-old.  For the first time, a noble fir (Abies procera) has been selected.  The last time the Capitol Tree was selected from Oregon was in 2002.  This was a Douglas Fir from the Umpqua National Forest.

The tree is following the Oregon Trail  in reverse on its way to D.C.  We caught up with the Tree and its considerable entourage when they visited the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Oregon City.

(click the photos in each mosaic to view them larger)

Capitol Christmas Tree postcard

Capitol Christmas Tree postcard

We arrived at just about 4:00, so it was still daylight.  Hubby and I had a great time talking to the forest rangers and truck drivers hauling the tree.  The full length of the set-up including the truck and trailer is about 105 feet!  The trailer was custom made, and the new Kenworth tractor was wrapped with a really cool design.  There is a team of drivers from Central Oregon Trucking here in Oregon driving the rig.

The sides of the trailer are covered in a canvas that everyone was invited to sign with well wishes for the tree and crew.  Of course I took my turn signing – twice!

As 5:00 approached the crowds began to grow, and some friends of mine came by.  We had a great time visiting, talking to the drivers and the park rangers.  I even visited with the official photographer!

The trailer has a window in the rear so we can see the decorated top of the tree.  The lights are on as they go down the road.  We were told they get quite a bit of attention running down the highway!

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By the time we left the moon was beginning to set over the roofline of the wagons at the museum.  What a unique and memorable way to begin the holiday season!

 From here the tree will travel along the trail to St. Louis where they will be part of the Thanksgiving Day parade. I sure wish we could be there.  We leave on Saturday heading east and then south to Texas with a load of Christmas Trees ourselves.  They won’t all be celebrities though.  Hubby thinks we may see the truck again before we head south. I know I will be keeping an eye out.

The lighting ceremony at the capitol is set to happen on Wednesday, December 5 at 5 pm.  To read more about the tree, some history about the program,  and the journey ahead visit  https://www.capitolchristmastree.org/tree.html or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/USCapitolChristmasTree/   and Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/uscapitolchristmastree/ 

Summertime Car Shows – an American Tradition

 

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Car enthusiasts in small towns all over the county come together under clear summer skies to marvel at autos from years gone by.  Our little town is no different.  Last weekend the center of town was filled to the brim with cars, trucks, motorcycles and even a boat!

We love walking around with the pup, looking at auto models we owned in days gone by, and those that pre-date our memories.  We can remember when the streets were filled with the style and color of decades worth of cars – from the 50’s to the 70’s as teens.  Large and small, convertibles, station wagons, campers ….  they were everywhere!

 

 

For me, much of the beauty is in the details.  How the light plays on the chrome, what I see reflected in the back of a mirror, or a polished hubcap.  And the colors!  From a  turquoise Mustang to a rose pink Chevrolet – and the matte blue pain on the low rider above – it was a beautiful rainbow of cars.

 

Of course most of the entries for car shows are already completed works of art.  But my eye landed on this old ford truck – with all the dents, rust and broken glass.  I love the texture and contrasting colors that the patina of age reveals.  And that hood ornament!  I won’t lie – I took several photos of her. ( Showing restraint, I have only published two here!)

 

The owners of these cars seem to have so much fun decorating them!  This VW van was outfitted with all the necessities, including a brownie camera.  From the diminutive Thunderbird with the porthole windows, to the classic pickup truck, they are all beautiful.  And we love taking that trip down memory lane whenever we get the chance.

*click on a photo in each mosaic to open a carousel gallery for viewing.

 

Exploring London Part II – via the Thames

Because there was so much we wanted to see in the UK we were only able to spend six days in London.

After riding around in the busses we took a river cruise,  giving a different perspective on the city.

 

 

We sailed beneath the Tower Bridge, saw the scaffolding shrouding Big Ben tower, the Tower of London, the London Eye, the HMS Belfast and a unique view of the city skyline.

We arrived in Greenwich (last photo, above) just as the light entered the golden hour.

 

Greenwich is home to the worlds fastest Tea clipper, the Cutty Sark. You can also find the Royal Observatory at the top of the hill. The 24 hour clock dates back to 1852. The red ball on the top of the Observatory is dropped at 1300 (1:00) every day. This signals all the ships in the area of the correct time – and this is where the phrase ‘on the ball’ comes from.  The most amazing thing to me was the International Date Line. I mean this is literally where time begins! Note the markings in the last photo – western hemisphere and eastern hemisphere.

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My next post will explore historic buildings and places in London – we chose just a few to tour for their stories, and were blown away by one on particular. Stay tuned!

Exploring London Part I – on a double decker bus

I find myself playing the tourist again – this time we headed to the UK. The first leg of our trip is London, England. When I booked this trip we were looking forward to a vacay in cooler climates than Italy or Central America as in past years. Who knew we would visit in the middle of a record breaking heat wave! It’s been beautiful blue skies for our touring – much better than the expected showery weather.

We basically hit the ground running when we arrived. After a five hour power nap we took a little stroll to figure out the lay of the land.

Of course we found ourselves in front of the most famous address in the city …. Buckingham palace.

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With the city before us, we decided to take a bus tour the next day for a different viewpoint, and an overview of what London is all about. What we saw was a lot of traffic! But I did manage to get some interesting photos.

The Tower Bridge, the London Eye over the skyline, Big Ben shrouded in scaffolding, the Marble Arch relocated from Buckinham palace by Queen Victoria and intersting artwork just about everywhere.

In the next few days we visited many more landmarks – Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, several gardens and the place where time begins. (Greenwich). Our trip has just begun – stay tuned for more photos and commentary as time and Wi-Fi permit!

*S.

Ladybug, Ladybug

Ladybug!  Ladybug!
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.

All except one,
And that’s little Anne,
For she crept under
The frying pan.

This nursery rhyme always reminds me of my Mom. ♥  And my sister too.

I photographed these ladybug photos at the End of the Oregon Trail Pioneer Garden.  They hang out in the Hop vine this time of year, munching on the aphids.

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Ladybug with eggs

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Ladybug larvae (babies)

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Ladybug

 

The first photo was taken with an LG G5 cell phone camera, and the last two with my new LG G7 cell phone camera.  

 

Panama Canal Crossing

It all began with a report for school. My subject was the Panama Canal.  Somehow that  report stuck with me, and became the first place outside my little Michigan world that I wanted to go.  (I guess my first bucket list item?)  Fast forward 30 plus years, and that dream was finally realized in October, 2017.  Granted, we never actually set foot in Panama, but we did have the unique view of passing through this engineering marvel.

We sailed from Miami for two days, had a port day in Cartagena, Columbia and on that 4th day we experienced The Main Event- a full 8 hour day crossing through the canal.  Of course we had lots of time before the crossing for homework – the ships staff did a wonderful job filling us in with the history of the canal, and what it is today.  The photos that follow represent my experience.

We entered the canal from the Atlantic side.  While in the canal the ship will sail through the Gatun Locks with three chambers, and on to Gatun Lake – once the largest man-made lake in the world.

 

Looking behind us (below) we had a good view of the Atlantic Bridge under construction.  We sailed past quite a few lighthouses during the day, but didn’t really see much in the way of wildlife or birds.  The photo below was an exception. The tugboats you see in some of the photos were our constant companions, and the train in the fourth photo is one of a pair used while in the canal to keep the ship centered in the locks.

 

The trains are all electric, and have been in use since the canal opened in 1914.  They were developed by General Electric in the early 1900’s for the canal.  In the photo below you can see two trains tied to the freighter next to us in the Gatun Locks.  One is next to the lighthouse, the other on the lower right of the photo with just the front in the photo.

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Below is our view of the locks closing from the rear of the ship.  After the gates close the chamber fills with water from the lake, and we sail to the next chamber.

 

The ships are raised to 85 feet above sea level, the same level as the Gatun Lake.  We had a lot of workers admiring the ship, waving and taking photos. I even saw families on the bank watching us sail through.  Most of the traffic in the canals is commercial freighters – a cruise ship is a beautiful sight sailing by.

 

Gatun Lake is below.  It took a few hours for us to make our way across.  We sailed by barges dredging the lake for the silt that constantly forms.  We sailed by numerous lighthouses, and even saw roads and freight trains running along the bank.  The ship sailed beneath the Centennial Bridge (Pan-American Highway, via Panama City) which opened in 2004.

The crossing was one of the most interesting days I can remember. It truly was an engineering marvel.  Below you can see just how close our ship was to the sides of the locks.  It’s amazing how something conceived in the 1800’s still serves us today. We had been carried down 85 feet between the Pedro Miguel and Miraflores Locks to the level of the Pacific Ocean. By the time we completed that last lock the sun was low in the sky, the day almost done.

After leaving the locks, we sailed past the Port of Balboa with a peek at the Panama City skyline, underneath the Bridge of the America’s, past buoy’s numbering from 20 to 2 out to our familiar Pacific Ocean.

As the sun sank into the Ocean that night, we went about our evening enjoying everything that our ship had to offer, and eventually we arrived home with another travel experience behind us.  But this one, this one I will remember because of the history and the purpose and how one small canal changed our world over 100 years ago.

*for a closer look click on a photo to open in a gallery setting.