Ponderings From the Road

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What is home?  Long drives leave one with little more to do than ponder such things.  To visit with myriads of emotions.  Scenery passes swiftly as we zoom down the corridor to Utah.  The scenery is very much the same among New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah, only slight variances arise.  The rocks become more ornate as we drive on.

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We pass dilapidated homesteads that have seen pioneer faces and harsh winters, wood fires in the hearth and babies born on spring mornings.  Shelters falling into the earth from whence they came. We want not much more than a one room homestead, a large open fireplace and wood cook stove, animals near the barn.  Nothing expansive.  Oil lamps will do.  A cat curled up by my feet.  A stew in the open hearth in the Dutch Oven.  Such a simple dream and as attainable as a mansion in Hawaii.  Did I bring such visions of how life could be from a past life?  Does it even exist anymore?

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Rodney plays swing music and jazz.  Pat rests her head on the seat in front of me. Doug looks out the window. Silent reverie among friends.  I am lulled in and out of slumber.

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The railways run for miles and I imagine cowboys riding alongside the Iron Horse of old.  Parties arriving in the unchartered prairie with packages and children in tow.  Long skirts stirring dust in the wind.

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The wind farms we left behind have found us in Wyoming.  Miles and miles and hundreds across the prairie. More wind farms coming than food farms and I am suddenly alarmed.  I must have a place to push in a seed, to pull up strangling weeds, and to water soft earth.

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I am homeless this week.  Not for lack of working, friends.  When I return Monday I must empty the house of all my belongings either by sale or give away.  We will put our cats in carriers and head to a new location.  What is homeless?  Our hotel is gorgeous.  A new Embassy Suites in Salt Lake City.  We walked back from dinner and was passed by a homeless man.  Shatteringly dirty, mix matched, and focused on his tasks.  Will that be us?

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We worked so hard and helped so many giving of our time and thousands and thousands of dollars of medicine to those that needed it and could not afford it.  We have not been complacent or sloth.  What keeps us from the streets?

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It is humbling to be in position to ask for help.  Our upbringing frowned on being a nuisance to others or for requiring help.  I would never dream of asking for money.  My pride is some bruised.  To write at the bottom of the well, a place we never imagined to be, is embarrassing.  But what good would it be if I only wrote of rainbows and sunshine and how to plant collard greens if the real stuff in life were not intertwined.  A heartbreaking story I hope ends in redemption.

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drinks

The mountains rise up all around us here.  We sit on the patio of the hotel with cold drinks and comfortable silence with our oldest friends.  Strength and lessons to be sought.  I cannot let this consume me.  I cannot become bitter and angry.  I trusted and it stung us to the extreme.  Perhaps losing everything will get us to where we were trying to go.  The sheep on the beer bottle makes me cry.

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We go through shops and I cannot buy a thing.  There is no home to decorate.  How strange this is.  What is home?  Dear readers, what is home to you?

A Day in Laramie, Wyoming (travels, microphones, and jail cells)

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A road trip is always a fun adventure and we were happy to be headed out on one!

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The scenery was beautiful as we drove two hours from Aurora to Wyoming.  The beautiful red dirt, ornate rock formations, and green grassy hills set against the mountains were heavenly.

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Laramie was there before we knew it.  One night at the Best Western was reserved.  We quickly dropped our things off in our rooms and headed back to the car!

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First stop was Roxie’s for lunch.  They had a terrific menu, and though a little pricey, the food was great.  Our server was from Elizabeth, knew our daughter, Shyanne, and grew up next door to Shyanne’s boyfriend, Jake.  It was definitely a small world moment!

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We walked around downtown and admired the buildings from the western 1800’s and turn of the century.

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I wonder if I will ever stop shopping for wood cook stoves.  I wonder if we will ever get a homestead again.

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We stopped in this lovely apothecary.  I love that everywhere we go more and more apothecaries are coming up.

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Next stop was the Laramie Plains Museum.

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A residence for a small family, then a boarding school for girls, this mansion is an impressive collection of period furnishings and décor.

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These wide pianos were throughout the house.

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One can tell that music was a big part of entertainment back them.

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I bet they threw some lively parties!

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So much pride and detail went into building and design.  These old houses and museums that Doug and I visit are masterpieces in art.  The quickly built, same as the next houses of today will never come close to the loveliness of even the most simple home from these time periods.

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I wonder if Bill Nye, the science guy, named himself after the real Bill Nye?

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This style was in both museums we visited yesterday.  The wall paper design ends a foot from the ceiling, a similar pattern is carried to the ceiling, and a slightly contrasting paper covers the ceiling.

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This was our lovely guide, Skylar.  She is a middle school honor student that volunteers her time to lead folks through this beautiful place.

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Built in shelves and hutches always catch my eye!

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Another wood cook stove….

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The sink is original to the house.  One could do a lot of dishes or wash a baby comfortably in this sink!

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30 pounds of butter, anyone?  I have seen butter churns but not one in a barrel form.  I thought this piece was very interesting.

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The refrigerator was a built in hutch with a screened bottom.  Ice was placed below the hutch and it kept everything in the cupboard cold.  Here, Skylar models the lined flour bins that held a hundred pounds or more of flour!

The house looks just as it did.

The house looks just as it did.

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This staircase is like the one in Santa Fe that was built without nails or supports.  It is a gorgeous staircase and one that we had to come down dramatically.

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A collection of dresses from the 1950’s boarding school era.  I wore my grandmother’s pink dress to prom that looked very similar to the green one!

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The desk is the oldest piece in the house. It is from the 1700’s.

Of course, one must have  fainting couch.

Of course, one must have fainting couch.

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This shower cost the equivalent of $10,000 but was only used twice due to the very poor water pressure!

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I love this ornate tile.

I love this ornate tile.

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Upstairs held a collection of this and that.  Old remedies, a barber chair, large paintings, and more history…

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These paintings inspire me to paint.

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The borders on them are painted.

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Skylar then took us outdoors to see a very old schoolhouse that was moved to the property.

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This is a painting of what it looked like in its original place.

This is a painting of what it looked like in its original place.

Then I am afraid we went behind bars…

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We went and toured the Territorial Prison where the likes of Butch Cassidy spent time.

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This was the law enforcer’s office.

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The large kitchen that fed the inmates was light and beautiful.

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Doug inquiring on rental rates.

Doug inquiring on rental rates.

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Minnie’s story struck me as quite sad.  A young woman and her husband were ambushed and framed for murder by their neighbor who wanted their land.  She spent five years in prison, and her husband was there for ten years.  All because of a horrible neighbor!

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This young man’s story struck me as well for how young he looks.  He was twenty-one and was caught forging a check.  Was his family hungry?  Was he an outlaw?  He was released after three years.

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The prison was restored but the ghosts of the past still wander the halls.

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Outside our car awaited…

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But we couldn’t find our horses.

It was then that Doug and Rodney joined up with a local gang.

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We ended the action filled day with karaoke and went to bed rather late!

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Now, off to Salt Lake City….

Plans, God’s Laughter, and Ghosts in Utah

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I really need to stop making plans.  For some reason the universe has something magnificent planned for us and apparently none of my plans are fitting into that scheme.  I must follow my gut feeling.  That I have learned.  I must listen to Doug’s too.  There aren’t really any details to share, just that at the end of next week we will officially be vagabonds (aka homeless).  I forgot what plan we were on…plan M or something?  I just know plan A, B, C, D and so on fell treacherously to fate.  Doug always says the old phrase, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.”  My school will still be alive and well as it follows me.  But I hate to utter that for fear the universe hears I have a plan!

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We are grateful, for it could be much worse.  Neither of us are ill, no cancers, no injuries.  Our children are great and healthy and alive.  We will be able to keep our cats for the time being.  And we are blessed with many, many great friends.  We are just going to have to take this one day at a time.  There will be many delightful adventures to write about!

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It has been awhile since we have gone on a field trip!  And you readers are going with us!  Our dear, dear friends that you either know or have read about here, Rodney and Pat, offered us a nearly free vacation this weekend.  We are all hitting the road tomorrow for Salt Lake City and you are coming with us!  So pack your bags, we have eating, window shopping, ghost hunting, and sight seeing through northern Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah to do.

We’ll move on to the next great adventure when we get back but this weekend is just for rest, play, and celebration of life and friends!