Category Archives: Travel

What I did on my summer vacation.

Bonneville Dam, on the mighty Columbia, that's Terry and a turbine screw. Firefly is in the background.

okay, who handles fish?
fish hatchery architecture

fish hatcher architecture

The annual voyage of the good vehicle whose name is Firefly is underway. I love traveling in a Mini Cooper Convertible. It goes fast, it handles well and you wouldn’t believe how much I can shove into this car along with two people. Its a scientific wonder, I have packed everything to spend two weeks camping–comfortably–in the Mini. My exposure to camping with the hubs and his buds on our motorcycles opened my eyes to what misery in a sleeping bag means. I choose to go the other way, Miniature does not mean miserable.

This year the dogs are home with our house sitter, who is also excavating a chunk of my yard for a new terrace. We are out in the world for two weeks which includes my conference speaking engagement in Salt Lake City at an educational conference and then on to Colorado for a few days with my son and his fabulous family. As always I am carrying a giant camera and a few lenses and I am sure I will take way too many photos before its all over.

A rainbow trout, aka looks like dinner in a pond at the Bonneville park, its a beautiful place to stop, wander and stretch your legs on the way down the dry valley.

I have decided this year to replicate those wonderful vacation photos from the 60s that are supersaturated and seem completely random in what they caught, but I love them. So this is Installment One of what I did on my summer vacation.

Three modes of transport, water, train and car. One shot, cool, no?

From the car, windmills and a barge way up the river.


Summr Sunshine, the name of a rose and my state of mind.


How perfect is the tag on this rose? I had to go play the song on my Ipod immediately.


You start seeing mills and silos as the land gets flatter and more farm friendly. this one is near Pendleton,OR.


I love windmills.very weird and wonderful from a moving car.


peekaboo windmills


farm country. I am crazy about the hard metal juxtaposition with the organic landscape.

More shiny metal things

like these a lot

falling down farm

Installment number one done.

canyon head

Nine Mile Canyon Photographs: Part Deux

That's Pam's head and hat and the arrow shows the relative size of a glyph.

In which we discover stage stops, climb cliffs and generally have our minds blown by the surroundings in Nine Mile Canyon Utah….

Lots of shots of pictographs and petroglyphs along with pictures of the valley. Harper is a town that grew up from nothing and went back the same way. The cool thing is that as a stage stop with a boarding house, eating place, post office, ‘hotel’ and store, Butch and Sundance were even visitors here. The old barns still exist and everything else is mostly foundations.

Throughout the canyons there were hallmarks of ranchers and farmers, dead metal, rusting ancient trucks and falling down buildings. The historical peoples built better 100o years ago I’m thinking….

Click on any thumbnail to see each image full size, use your back arrow to go back to the entry.



Petroglyphs, Paula and Pam: Nine Mile Canyon, Utah

Pam was stuck in the back seat for the first part of the trip into 9 Mile, but we spent lots of time outside too!Before we entered the canyon, our fearless blonde with a perfect manicure no less, aired down her own tires. What a woman!

May 28, 2011. Today the Prairie Dogs headed to Nine Mile Canyon, Utah, the world’s longest art gallery. The prairie dog posse, aka Paula, Pam and me, jumped off for Nine Mile in Pam’s jeep. It was exhilarating, astonishing and exhausting and I’d like to go back tomorrow. Guaranteed, you will be sick of this entry before I’m all done. I highly recommend sticking it out to the end though.

Before we entered the canyon, our fearless blonde with a perfect manicure no less, aired down her own tires. What a woman!

This may be one of your last chances to enjoy these petroglyphs. Sadly, massive deposits of natural gas have been discovered on the Tavaputs Plateau, and now gigantic 16 wheelers roll in and out on roads never meant for them as the Bill Barrett Corporation extracts the gas. They are throwing magnesium chloride down to keep the dust down and it is thought the chemicals will destroy the rock art if the dust doesn’t.

The first thing we saw in the canyons was a corral full of unhappy cows, all bawling their heads off. There have been ranchers in the canyons with cows for well over 100 years.

Right now, a big chunk of the canyon is on the radar of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. They are the feds who try to to protect America’s most endangered places. Let’s hope the need for the gas doesn’t eclipse our need to preserve these astonishing images.

Photo Op! Me taking a picture of you taking a picture of me. Old sheepherder's cabin in the background behind Pam.

The ranchers who settled there because of the year round access to water destroyed all the signs of the Fremont and Anasazi people who lived in the canyon from AD 950-1250 at best guess. Their irrigation ditches and earthen lodges are long gone but there are still metates (grinding holes), granaries and the amazing petroglyphs and pictographs.

Some are chipped in and a few are painted on, along with the occaisonal white boy graffiti. the Utes were relative late comers and some of my favor petroglyphs were Ute. How do I know? No horses until after 1680, so if it had horsies, it was Ute.

Early idiot leaving his mark on the canyon walls.

The first graffiti from a not-native American was good old Charles Grosbeck back in 1867. I found this guy myself, from 1881. There are over 10,000 images chipped, incised, carved and painted into the sandstone walls at over 1000 sites through the 40 miles of canyons.

Nine Mile Road was  built by the black Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry of Fort Duchesne, Utah. This was the first major road from Ft Duchesne to Price, Utah. The valley had water, the magic ingredient. Not a lot, but enough for travelers and ranchers to make Nine Mile the main highway through some pretty dry land.

Ute carvings of a hunt. Horses don't show up until after 1680

A moment of definition before we proceed: Petroglyphs are carvings in rock faces that are incised, chipped or abraded. Pictographs are images that are painted on rock faces. Nine Mile has both, but pictographs are much rarer and more fragile.

You can still see traces of the early people in the canyons because their granaries, pit houses and a few shelters are still evident in spots in the canyon. We were so excited to spot a granary way the hell and gone high up on a cliff! We spent an hour trying to puzzle out how they got the corn into it and then back out.

An early Fremont granary still in existence high on a cliff.

And here it is close up.

We started hitting site after site and three women with three cameras spent more time out of the jeep than in it!

Medicene man and big horn sheep

Wonderful hunter with bow and arrow

The canyons were beautiful, walls, scenery and all, so much to see!

Nine Mile Canyon

I will continue this post as a photo essay–make sure to view Part Deux!


Rabbit Goes the Long Way Home

Strange view of the Space Needle in Seattle, buried behind buildings, get us outta here!

In Western Washington we have ONE north-south freeway, Interstate 5. As more and more people discover Washington is wonderful and most of them decide to travel one human to a car, the freeway is more and more like something Hieronymous Bosch would dream up. In other words a grotesque trip to hell and back any time of day or night.

Terry behind the wheel looking for the exit to the big city.

My son Tor lives and works in Seattle so occaisonally I am forced to partake of the nightmare and scurry north if I want to see him. July 31st, a Sunday, we had another reason to go north,  celebrating our friends’ recent wedding. Jamie and Brian own the amazing Hunger Restaurant in the Fremont district and that is also where Tor works, a twofer: party and see the kid.

You would think leaving at 2:45 p.m. to be someplace an hour away on a Sunday would have been enough time. Nope. We got there at 5:30 after another Bosch debacle on the freeway. Stop and go all the way, mostly stop.

Under a freeway bridge on the way out of town.

I was happy to arrive in one piece and grab a glass of ice cold Sauvignon Blanc wine and slug it down, at which point I gave Terry the keys to the Mini. We enjoyed the party for and hour or so, and knowing the traffic would be heinous going home, made our farewells and headed back south. Ugh.



The bridge was up which slowed us down, time to decide to do it differently!

We started home by heading across the Fremont bridge which was up to let a boat pass. How cool was that?  We had to turn off the engine and wait at which point we decided it was a beautiful drop top evening and we weren’t going to waste it. We got our  jackets and hats out of the trunk and togged up, dropped the top and prepared to go home the backest way possible.

Struggling up and down the freeway its easy to forget we are bordered to the West by water from Seattle to Olympia. If you are married to a biker who has explored every back road in the state, count your blessings. This means you can wend your way along the water and enjoy the drive instead of wanting to get out of the car and smack some idiot upside the head with a bowling pin. I-phones are wonderful things and they take some strange pix from a moving car but I think these pretty much capture the spirit of the evening drive.

Down the hill to Redondo, Washington Redondo Beach, strange. I grew up the Cali version.


We nipped off  the interstate in Burien, a little ways south of the big city and headed for a more leisurely waterside drive through Redondo, which looks like a Southern Cali beach town with houses on the hills and people strolling on the boardwalk. The water is so close a wave splashed two girls as they walked in the sunshine.

Redondo Beach as we flew past in the car




We left Redondo and drove through Brown’s Point and then headed over to Commencement Bay as it runs through Tacoma and on to Dupont and Steilacoom.



The new Tacoma Narrows Bridges full of folks coming home from the weekend. Nice to see it in the distance only.









BIG SHIPS at the Port of Tacoma. So odd to see them docked in what feels like downtown.

The USS Norwalk and a bunch of boxcars in Tacoma

This looks so strange, just bobbing in the water next to the road.







It took two hours to get home but we were sooo relaxed when we got here after a gorgeous drive. I love Washington. We have English weather and August sunshine, which means we can have drives like this one and lots more because summer finally got here!

I phone self portrait, love my hands show on my glasses holding the camera, sort of full circle oddness.


Rabbit Loves Lavender

Theda Bara is thinking purple thoughts with her kitty companion.

I adore lavender. I love the way it smells, the way it looks, I even love the way it cooks.

Shastas and lavenders, summer beauty

Lavender-lemon shortbread, lavender iced tea and lavender ice cream are all mahvelous dahling. Of course, if you go at it with a heavy hand you might as well nosh on a cake of soap taste-wise. It’s  about balance, like all the best things in life.

I love painting lavender and photographing lavender. My bucket list contains another visit to France, when the lavender is blooming in Grasse, but until I make it back I’m lucky to live in Washington State.

Purple Scent Lavender farm on a cool cloudy day.

Sequim is the lavender capital up here in Washington with its own festival in July. This year with our crappy weather the lavender didn’t cooperate and bloom in time so I’ll be going up after we get a few sunny days to wallow in purple smells and sights.

Meanwhile, I discovered a gorgeous little farm much closer to home this past weekend. Purple Scent Lavender Farm is breathtaking! It’s in Bremerton with an amazing view of Dyes Inlet, who could ask for more? Lavender And a water view.

Suzanne Powers, owner of farm and boutique is delightful and knows her stuff.  I wound up buying two Royal Velvet lavenders to replace the ones that got destroyed last winter and I can’t wait to see them in their full glory.

They served lovely lavender ice cream and even a very French seafood lunch. Sadly, after being on an MG rally in the Mini all day we missed that gorgeous meal.

Royal Velvet ready to plant


I did get to meet adorable scrappy Zoe and managed to get a few pictures of that happy bundle of energy. I had to paint her, I love doing dog pieces and this one is perfect!

Zoe on the farm

 Miss Zoe is done on recycled wood, I have gone green and almost all of my work is based on repurposed materials. The loft is full of blank canvases but wood seems to inspire me more than canvas does. The piece is around 18X24″ ( I have to measure it to frame it, what was I thinking?) and will retail for around $275.00 after framing.

Zoe is in good company, here’s a painting, on seflf-framing canvas, of  a lavender farm cat who charmed me last year.

Lavender Farm Cat

The next  ‘painting’ here is big, it’s in a beautiful frame  under glass. The piece is oil pastel is on Canson Paper, I knew I had to paint it when I saw this lonely little chair in this huge purple field. 




I took the photographs I worked from for this piece on the last trip I took with Terry on our bikes just before his accident. It’s hard  to believe that was five years ago now, and its nice to know he’s fine and riding again.

Chair in the lavender field

Except for Zoe, who is too new to be there yet, my work including exact sizes and prices can be found at

I’m off to plant my lavender and if you would like to visit Purple Scent Farm in Bremerton here is a link to their website which includes directions and hours, I highly recommend it for a relaxing afternoon.



Price is Right and So Are Petroglyphs

  May 27th, Salt Lake City and South!

Train headed for Soldier Summit

 After a successful airport extraction and stashing Pam’s paraphenalia we joyously hit the road to Price and petroglyphs in Nine Mile Canyon.Then it dawns on me it is Friday at 5:00 p.m. on a three-day weekend. Oh my lord, what was I thinking? Traffic is inching along at about ten miles an hour and time is slipping by. We want to get to Price before dark and our thoughts turn to poor Paula. She has to fight this crappy traffic all the way from Logan, well north of Salt Lake City to join us with the Wonder Jeep for our run to the canyons tomorrow.

 Still, Pam and I are deliriously happy to be starting out on our vacation.  Make that  mostly happy. Finally, when I’m ready to get out of the car and slap a few lousy drivers we get to American Fork and I know Spanish Fork is just ahead, along with our turn off the interstate onto highway 89 and south to Price. Bad jokes ensue regarding forks in the road but we make the turn to the two lane and say toodles to the worst of the traffic. Of course I have to pass a few trailers the size of brontosauruses, or is that brontosauri? Who cares, we are headed up to Soldier Summit and Helper and right after that, Price.

The railyard at Soldier Summit, where the helper engines live

We get the Moon Guide out and Navigator Pam satisfies our curiousity. Helper is a railroad town and it got its moniker because of the fact that heavily laden coal trains couldn’t make the pass at Soldier Summit without a helper engine. We get off the highway to drive through Helper because we can and we’re curious.

Mid-century modern, eternally ugly library and auditorium in Helper

Finding the main drag, I am enchanted. There is a big-assed black statue of a miner in front of the really ugly 1940’s style library. The statue is one of those giant tire guys you used to see advertising what else?  Tires. I have seen them done up as Paul Bunyan, cowboys, cooks and tire guys, but this one is a coal miner complete with a six foot long pick axe.  Photo op!

Giant Miner with Pam, fill in the rest of the caption yourself, preferably with something slightly smutty.

We cruise the rest of the town finding the old Rainbow Bar whose front is covered with cobalt blue glass tiles. Pam takes about 20 shots, and we are both sad that this is Utah and the bar is not open. 

Pam trying to get the perfect shot of the blue glass front of the Rainbow

It would be cool to slug down a beer there, but we keep going and find the rest of the town is really rather charming with a lot of empty stores. The guide book tells us the town is trying to reinvent itself and has a lot of art galleries.  we’ll be back to investigate the “ghost galleries.”

Beautiful downtown helper with the Fyr Fly

On to Price! We find our motel. Such a deal, I found it on line. I never heard of the National Nine chain before but its clean, simple and the price is right. You know how you can determine you are in a cheap motel? No hairdryer, ever. Luckily, I can stuff my mop into a ponytail and a baseball cap and so can Pam. Pam and I are campers from way back. We are outdoorsy girls with evil senses of humor who don’t mind getting dirty and looking like hell when we go baying after fun.

This is as grubby as Paula ever gets, the jeep gets dirty but not Ms. P.

Then there is Paula. She drives a jeep and she drives it well off road and on. Her  jeep is jacked up for off road, it has a winch on one end and a compressor on the other and she knows how to use them. She is a talented artist and photographer and she is passionate about petroglyphs and rock art. She loves to go exploring off road and she doesn’t mind getting dirty, much. Paula loves pink, she’s an adorable blond with nice hair, fingernails, a great tan, and really cute clothes.  We know she will be traveling with a hairdryer, make up and product for her own mop. We will probably have to tie her down to convince her this is a NO MAKEUP weekend. This girl who jeeps with a bunch of rough tough guys has never slept in a tent, a fact that just boggles our minds.

Walmart, Price Utah

We settle in at the motel, eat fast food for dinner and consider it heavenly not to cook. Paula arrives and its just like being 17 all over again, clothes and crap everywhere. Pam is getting over sickiness so she passes out early and the last two of the Posse yap all night.

 Next morning, we request that the poor housekeepers not even bother with our room, all the 500 pieces from the Mini and Paula’s stuff and us in general. They are so sweet and give us a ton of towels and toilet paper, probably just glad to not have to deal with That Room. We gather ourselves up and make the list of things we need to pick up.

KMart, across from the motel, so handy.

Price has a KMart and a WalMart, and I cannot believe I visited both of them the same day. I took pictures as proof. Hey, I needed a shovel and gloves okay? I have ghost town scrounging plans and this is the best place to top off the supply stash.

Fascinating fact: If you want to go shopping in a store that is EMPTY, go on Sunday. The Mormon folk are spending the day with family and they generally don’t go shopping.  It was great, our own ghost towns full of imported from China Crap. 

Best instagram shot ever. The ball was there and Walmart was empty. I love this!

 I took my all time favorite instagram shot in Walmart. I didn’t stage it either. I saw it and snapped it in situ.

We did Sunday brunch at McDonald’s, Pam and I made a pact to avoid cooking even if it meant junk food. Utah doesn’t have tons of organic stores in small towns, so we’ll take what we get if the price is right. And now, finally to the gas station and jumping off to Nine Mile Canyon!

Next: We find Nine Mile Canyon is 40 Miles of fabulousity and the roughest road ever!




Artful Rabbit Hits Utah, Let’s Get this Party Started!

Accoutrements that all fit neatly into the Fyr Fly

May 26, day two, on to to Salt Lake. After a good night’s sleep, I packed up the Mini with all 500 pieces of assorted luggage and accoutrements, snugged it down, dropped the top and headed out of Ontario, Oregon. I headed straight across Interstate 84 and the bleakness of Southern Idaho, dropping south into Utah and on into Salt Lake City.

I was speaking at at the UASLA conference, that’s the Utah Association of Student Loan Administrators, which got me launched on this proposed  5000 mile expedition in the first place.

Almost there! walking around break, too hot to drop the top. My rule is 85 degrees and air conditioning!

Really, if you are driving to Salt Lake City why not just  keep on going? The best parts of the state are all south of here anyway, am I right? Of course I am.

I had to make Salt Lake, drive through the heart of the city and find the campus guest house at the University. Get there, check in, drag a comb through my hair, round up the usual suspects and head for a baseball game by 6:00 p.m. I made it with time to spare, I drive fast, quel surprise eh?

The Salt Lake Bees are a home town fave, they are the Triple A team for the Anaheim Angels. I love minor league ball.

The Bee's Knees, Salt Lake Bees Ballpark. Perfect evening!

The fans are always great and the atmosphere is just plain fun. These guys have a great ballpark too, the Apiary is its nickname. Bees=apiary, cuteness abounds. I digress, the conference had gotten a skybox with dinner included. Oh boy! Hotdogs and foul balls. The highlight of the evening was almost having my head removed by a foul ball that whacked the plexiglass window behind me. Okay, enough baseball.

Our tricky chef at work.

The next night our big dinner was at Benihana and we just about filled the place. Our chef was fun and the food was great. I went for the Ahi seared tuna, so good I had to take a picture, knowing I would want to remember it when I hit the back country and chili in cans.

I have died and gone to heaven. Ahi tuna, barely grilled and so yummy.


Outside the restaurant was a fantastic art installation, what a great find to stumble on. An empty lot full of wiggly poles. I loved it!

Art installation, loved stumbling on this, it was really dramatic and fun at the same time

The next day, my speaking chores finished and an excellent conference over I said good bye to all my Utah buddies and packed up the fyrfly again. I lit out to kill some time before I picked up my partner in crime, Pam, at the airport. She flew in to meet me to maximize her vacation. Accidental retirement (me) does have its good side, I no longer have to worry about how many days off I can take. I only have to worry about paying for my hijinx.

Utah capitol building

I adore Utah and have spent days and days exploring the state but this was my first time spending time in Salt Lake City. What a cool town. I had just enough time to go wandering around their capital campus. I have my own state capital at my doorstep living in Olympia so its always fun to compare Capitol buildings.

The dome of the state capitol

This was cool! The place was EMPTY, in summer the government apparently shuts down on Fridays and the building was empty except for some arab tourists, an organized group with a guide and little old me and my big old camera.

The inside of the dome is painted with Sea Gulls! I wonder if there was trompe l'oeil poop on the floor underneath?

Gorgeous murals, probably from the 20's or so, on panels around the ceiling showing Utah history.

and tucked up in the corners were adorable griffons with flamingo pink wings! How strangely gay is this?

Heroic sculpture abounded, this is Brigham Young's hand. The whole statue must have been ten feet high.


The top floor was laced with beautiful stone sculptures, like this native American chief's head.

Bonneville Salt Flats anyone? I didn't write this gent's name down, but he was a native son who broke speed records up the wazoo back in the day. Gorgeous bronze sculpture too.

I went to the gift store across the street, fighting off ten thousand Chinese tourists on the way, and found a wonderful Utah map and a book about petroglyphs.  In the next few days I planned to see finally see enough petroglyphs and rock art to make me happy, and I was looking forward to making the trip in the company of Pam and Paula and the magic jeep.

Oops, four o’clock, time to hit the road to the airport and scoop up Pam and her suitcases, figure out where to stash them and head to Price, jumping off point for petroglyphic pleasure. Have you met the Prairie Dog Posse yet? Stay tuned….

The Posse Rides...


Silver Streak Makes Some Miles: Oregon to Idaho

Chapter 2: Shakedown  and Signage

Roll on Columbia! Bonneville dam shows just how powerful the river is. I had to wait to enter the park because a huge fishing boat was going through the locks and the road to the park was closed.

The first day is always getting used to traveling, the shakedown what-did-I-forget phase? After about 200 miles I get used to driving and settle in to the adventure.

I love cruising along the Columbia River, some people think the drive is boring and Oregon is empty and dry but I beg to differ, with the river and the boats I am always entertained.  The Bonneville dam is  a great place to stop for a break, it’s in the perfect spot, about  two hours to Portland from Olympia and another hour or so to Bonneville, depending on weather, traffic and the number of cops spotted along the way.

Mini me, parked and out for a stroll through the fishery and park.

The Columbia River is a monster river and I am always amazed at seeing huge boats and barges way up river past the Cascade Locks and the big Bonneville dam. It’s very odd to see a grain silo in the middle of an empty expanse of prairie and then turn your head the other way and there’s a big old boat chugging by.

The engine is really noisy but all I can see on the other side of the salmon ponds is the very top of this enormous boat going by. Very odd to hear it and just see the wheelhouse.

The Columbia also has sturgeon, a sturgeon habitat and a famous fish named “Herman”. When I think of sturgeon, I think of caviar and lick my chops, but Herman is big enough so I’m not going to argue with him or his buddies in the tank about edibility.

Herman the sturgeon, these suckers are HUGE. They make hungry and they make me wonder how the hell you catch one?

The fish hatchery was in full swing getting salmon ready for their voyage out to sea and the poor harried rangers were herding both salmon and packs of rowdy kids ready for the end of the school year.

Salmon ready for the sea

Ranger overheard telling at least ten kids to stop touching things including this turbine prop, good luck with that Mr. Ranger!

The same pack of brats is still following Ranger Rick as he tries to restrain himself from throwing them into the fish ladder for the sturgeon to eat. I would have...

I watched over the world from my rooftop view being serenaded by this charming sparrow, soothing the savage beast and all that.

It semed to be a day of signs. Remember the movie with Tom Hanks and all the signs? Sleepless in Seattle? I can’t remember. The Universe kept sending signs to him and on this day it was sending me propitious signs too. Omens of a fair voyage, no doubt. Except for the one about biting squirrels, I still haven’t figured out what that one augured except don’t feed the damned squirrels.


Can I resist a beautiful Japanese iris? This sign is from Mother Nature!

The Universe sent me this stack of signs, okay, the gift shop had them on display but still, I'll take a sign when I can find it!

This sign says it all. Yes, I know its from a rose bush, but still...

The best sign of the day, POWER. I'll take it! Loved this shot.

I polished off my coffee and the Columbia and headed south on I-84 through Pendleton of Woolen Mills and Round Up fame, on to La Grande and past  Baker City. Baker City is adorable by the way, full of Victorian houses and cute shops, none of which got me to stop this time. I  kept on trucking or carring as it were, on to my goal for the night of Ontario, Oregon.  

By the time you hit Ontario you are hitting the Ugly Part of both Oregon and Southern Idaho. I’m pretty sure most of the south end of Idaho  along I-84 is seriously ugly and lives to be endured and gotten through as fast as possible. Yes, there are exceptions to seriously ugly including the Snake River canyon and the coolest “ghost town” on the planet, Silver City. It’s a nice drive south of Boise and a ways up into the mountains on a two lane dirt road, well worth a visit if you ever get the chance.

Before my day ended I discovered Ontario has the most insane road naming and numbering system in the world. Yes, every stree appears to be repeated and you can’t tell where you are even with a GPS. Not one but two East Fourth Streets, running two different directions. The same with every other street. EEEEEK! Luckily, I had been to the el cheapo but very clean motel I had booked before.  I recognized it when I made a loop in the general direction and spotted it to my right. I launched myself at that driveway like Shamu doing tricks for tuna. Mission accomplished.

Happy me, found the motel, got through the first day fine and now for some dinner.

 I unbungied, unraveled and unpacked the Fyr Fly 2, and slid down to Subway for a sandwich and in line, a story from a guy who had a Mini in Italy during the early 60’s. It was fun to listen to him talk about trying to get it into the country back in the day, but it was even more fun to get back to the motel and fall down for the night.

Next: On to Salt Lake  a surprisingly beautiful city.


A sign from Salt Lake City....


Nine States, Twenty-one Days, 700 Pictures

 The Silver Streak Begins!

Fyr Fly and Fyr Fly 2 side by side

Chapter 1.

My need to go places and see things must be in my DNA.  When I was a kid my family took off at the drop of a hat and explored the world. That’s how I saw Europe and most of this country, in a tent for weeks on end. Before I knew it I was all grown up and settled in Washington State. The itch to travel the world was put on the sidelines, and then my husband  of five years, Terry, almost died in a motorcycle accident. Amazing how your priorities change when you get a second chance.

Terry recovered almost completely after a grueling year that changed us all.  Part of my positive change was a convertible and the determination not to waste my life sitting on my rear end and wishing I could go places and see things. I am no stranger to topless cars and the red Mini was my third or is it fourth  convertible? At any rate that shiny little car was my own second chance launching pad and every year for the past few years I have headed out to visit America, usually alone and perfectly comfortable with that.

Bungied and ready to roll

This year was different. Tor, the baby of the family has grown up and gone. He lives in Seattle, works and goes to school there and my nest is empty for the first time since 1969. I didn’t realize how hard it would be for me to have everyone flown and in the world. My friend Pam felt the same way when her ‘baby’ headed for Reed College in Portland last year. We decided this summer we would roam the world together rediscovering the joy in being just us. 

A month before the trip I made the hard decision to trade in the original Fyr Fly, my beautiful red Mini. I found a sweet silver Mini in her place, who inherited the license plates, and by default the title of Fire Fly 2. The decision made sense before a long trip because a clutch and very expensive tires were in my immediate future. I got an amazing trade in deal and the 3 year bumper to bumper warranty that makes me a Mini/BMW believer. 

 I began the preparations for camping in a teeny tiny vehicle when I got an itsby bitsy stove for my birthday, it’s about the size of a pack of playing cards. Then on a day trip to Edmonds, I found a perfectly adorable tiny picnic set with dishes and silverware for two, and two big quick dry towels. I rounded up the rest of our gear, in miniature, and finished up by investing in Moon Guides and maps for every state I didn’t already have in my travel stash. I love Moon Guides, they are my favorite souvenir and Road Trip Warrior book. Moon has the best tid bits and information of any travel book out there. 

Taken the minute before I left the driveway, wondering what I forgot. It was the binoculars...

I was speaking at the Utah campus based student lending conference in Salt Lake so it made perfect sense to launch our trip at the end of the conference, picking Pam up Friday night at the Salt Lake City airport and heading out. That gave me a few days traveling on my own and at the conference to shake down the packing and preparations.  I’m always wound up and jittery before a long driving trip for some reason. I spend time worrying and trying not to forget anything, expecting the worst and just wanting to get started. It all goes away when I get about 300 miles from home and the trip really begins.

Couldn't use cruise control on the long straight road until 1250 miles, by then it was worth a picture.

I love Windmills. Headed south through Portland, Or and then due east, along the Columbia river and miles of farmland.

Mills, wheat, sun and open road


First stop at the big dam on the Columbia, leg stretching and photos.


I think the Universe sends me signs, this one says choose: upstream or downstream? Then GO!

 I’m writing this after returning home and being swamped with photographs and memories. Some of the statistics: 21 days, 5165 miles, 9 states, 2 off road vehicles that really went off road. One amazing traveling companion for 14 of those days, one amazing new friend and Prairie Dog Posse member,  3 families that let us come in and use their showers and  sleep in real  beds—and even better– shared special parts of their world with us.  One Mini Cooper convertible S model that took us everywhere we wanted to go and see and do. Two wash jobs for poor old filthy Fyr Fly along the way. More spectacular scenery than I can list and over 700 photographs of our amazing voyage—and that’s just the pictures I took! Pam and Paula took their fair share too.  I’m hoping we can get them all on Flickr before we forget how fab the whole thing was.

Next: Chapter 2, Show me a SIGN and Utah’s awesome capitol building.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

5165.4 miles. One Mini Cooper S convertible. Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California and back through Oregon the other way. Across first and up last.  Four jeep trips to explore Nine Mile Canyon, the back end of Arches National Park, Leadville, and Death Valley.

One friend and boon companion for two weeks of the journey, joined me in Salt Lake and flew home from Nevada. One special Prairie Dog Posse member (Paula) joined us for a rollicking trip through Utah with her jeep. One lovely cousin (Jewel), one wonderful son and his family (Joel and Grace), one bosom buddy (Sherry) and so many wonderful people we met along the way. Then we add one toxic, dysfunctional, literally crazy family (mine).

I am still trying to understand what the hell happened over those three days. My own Fellini movie with bad actors. I escaped, quite literally, intact. On to writing down the adventure including the night at hippie hostel and Abe’s bar, and editing more than 500 photographs of:

Salt Lake City, Petroglyphs in utah, miles of them. Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Leadville and Nederland, and Garden of the Gods in Colorado. Taos and the Taos Pueblo, a world heritage site. Santa Fe and its antique Spanish glory. Vermillion Cliffs and the Book Cliffs, Jacobs Lake and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. San Diego Old Town and various and sundry wonders seen along the way.

This could take a while. Stay tuned…