Southwest Trip Recap

Well now.  I finally documented all the statistics and other info for this trip in my Moleskin book (thanks Lyndy).  And am now ready to recap it here to memorialize it for purposes of this travel blog.  So here goes.

  •  5,707 total miles.  540 – highest mileage in a single day; first day, Chagrin Falls to Davenport, Iowa.  41 – lowest mileage in a single day, on seeing the Alamo and San Antonio’s River Walk.
  • 22 days traveling.  21 overnight stays.  All but one in Choice Brand motels.  5 freebies on Choice Privileges.  16 paid stays at an average of $90.23 each, with tax.
  • States traveled: Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky.
  • Managed by the National Park Service: Petrified Forest NP / Painted Desert; Saguaro NP; The Alamo, a National Historical Landmark.
  • Attractions.  Dead Horse State Park (UT), Horseshoe Bend (AZ), Antelope Canyon (AZ), Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (AZ), Prasek’s Hillje Smokehouse (TX), Don’s Meats for Boudin and Cracklin (LA), Cajun Music at Rodale’s in Lafayette and Fred’s Lounge in Mamou (LA), Cajun Fiddlers: Terry Huval, Lee Benoit (Lafayette), Mississippi River Festival (MS).
  • String of perfect days.  May 6, starting in Denver to May 23. the last day of the trip, driving home from Kentucky.  19 perfect days.  This might best the string I had going two years ago on the five-week trip to Utah and the Southern States.  See my post of April 13, 2016; A Two-Week Itinerary of a Lifetime.
  • Blog stats during trip.  Visitors – 187.  Views – 736.  Average Views/Visitor – 4.  Posts – 28.  Comments – 110.

Wow, what a trip.  So happy, comforting really to have each of you riding with me in shotgun.  Loved your comments and appreciated your kind thoughts and Godspeeds.  Thanks for that.  I’d like to, next trip, get out to the northwestern states.  Northern California, Oregon, Washington  Maybe this fall after the turistas are back to work and school.  Or perhaps next spring.  Headed to Hilton Head in July for another Ruts family beach vacation.  Last year only did a post on Fort Sumter while there; this year hopefully will do better.  Also trying to organize a Canadian fishing trip for July, 2019 like we used to do every year.  That project: tentative for now, TBA, to be continued.

Anyway here’s more of my favorite pix from the trip.

Til next time.  Next trip.  C’est tout.  Adios Amigos.  Au Revoir.

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Petunias

 

Today is Wednesday, May 30, 2018.  On Saturday the 26th and after cutting the lawn, I got kind of excited about planting a few things off our deck.  Got some great advice from my neighbor John and I’m off to the nursery to get some goodies.  One thing I bought – a colorful hanging basket of petunias – I was then checking out how to take care of it.  Louise skeptical that it will lose its brilliance and dwindle to nothing in a few weeks.  Well, not so for my determination.  For me I went to the internet and looked.  The ultimate adviser on things planted: The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

https://www.almanac.com/content/about-us

I love this site.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac.  Us elders remember it.  Younger folks may not be aware.  Kind of stodgy as I remember, but with a lot of info about planting seasons, when to plant, that stuff.  Well here’s the modern version.  Whatever you want to know about farming and certainly gardening.  Available at your fingertips.

Everything is on the internet.  Just about.  Want a floor drain cover?  Amazon.  Want advice on bird seed?  Google.  Want to know what a Rozanne Geranium looks like in all its glory?  Google images of it.  Want to get to heaven?  Well maybe you should seek out a religion of your choice.

I mean really.  All of a sudden, dilettante or expert.  It’s pretty much all here.  Videos.  Images.  Just key-in your need and get a response.

Anyway, enjoy the Old Farmer’s Almanac.  At the moment, I’m getting educated on the care and maintenance of a basket of hanging petunias that I bought a couple days ago.  I’m on it and will predict that they will look just as good in August and September as they do this May 30.  I’m sure that this glorious pink basket of lively color will be just as splendorous in late August and September as is does at the moment.  In fact Louise and I have $10 bet on the outcome.  If I’m successfully, I’ll be glad to be your personal consultant on petunias.  Hint: water, sunshine, nutrition, grooming.  Please see the below, and above for what these pink flowers look like at the moment.

Unusual for me, Facebook (Pete Ruts) will see this post as well.  If you like all this info and detail, please leave a comment.  With enough favorable response, I can certainly be encouraged to do more.

Recap of trip is still forthcoming.  Catching up in baby steps.

 

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And so proceed ad infinitum

Today is Monday, Memorial Day, May 28, 2018.  The last post recounted the trip into Elizabeth, Kentucky (with a lot of digression going on) and wound up saying that the Thursday leg would be a long one, going from E-town to Chagrin Falls, Ohio.  And indeed it was a long drive, kind of empty-headed.  400 miles; it took me 8 1/2 hours but it was stress-free.  Finally arrived at home sweet home at 5:30PM.  Whew!

One thing I must mention before getting to the theme of this post.  At the outset of yesterday’s Blossom Time Parade and standing in the center of Washington Street at Triangle Park (sort of like a main grandstand but without bleachers, judging tables only and a lively Jaycees Master of Ceremonies) is our granddaughter Susannah, now a high school freshman, ready to sing acappella our National Anthem.  And what nice work she made of it; the patriotic words and music along with Susannah’s perfect delivery had me in tears.

Sorry I do not have a still photo of Sus, only did a three-minute video, the uploading of which WordPress does not permit.  So a photo of one of the many fire trucks will have to do.

I’ll do a recap of the entire trip later but while driving home on the last day of the trip, I had made a note of a certain phrase that relates to the need I now have to express my feelings of not wanting this trip to end.  I love being home again and was heartily greeted by my entire wonderful family over the Sunday parade and festivities at home.  21 peeps here, all welcome and each one special.  

But the trip!  One of the best three-week periods of a roadtrip that I’ve experienced.  One other such is documented in my post of April 13, 2016 entitled ‘A Two-Week Itinerary of a Lifetime’.  Please see:

A Two-Week Itinerary of a Lifetime

What I’m trying to say is that I didn’t want the trip to end.  I’d like for it to go on and on.  Ad infinitum.

So what is ‘ad infinitum’?  It’s a Latin phrase meaning ‘to infinity’ or ‘forevermore’.  Widipedia says this about it.

In context, it usually means “continue forever, without limit” and this can be used to describe a non-terminating process, a non-terminating repeating process, or a set of instructions to be repeated “forever,” among other uses. It may also be used in a manner similar to the Latin phrase ‘et cetera’ to denote written words or a concept that continues for a lengthy period beyond what is shown. An example is the following.  
The 17th-century writer Jonathan Swift incorporated the phrase in the following lines from his satirical poem On Poetry: a Rhapsody (1733):

The vermin only teaze and pinch
Their foes superior by an inch.
So, naturalists observe, a flea
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite ’em,
And so proceed ad infinitum.

 

Like the above?  If you do and would like to see more, please go to my essay blog, at:

therutsweeklystandard.wordpress.com

And scroll to two of my posts that, for me at least, the above thought is sort of related to.  The posts are:

The Large and the Small.  April 16, 2014

Time’s Winged Chariot, June 19, 2014

 

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Benton, Kentucky to Elizabethtown, Kentucky

Here I am about five miles off track, oblivious at this point as to where I am,  but I’ve got a tankful of gas at historic Hanson.  Seems that here in historic Hanson, there’s a race for Jailer.

I headed up I-69 not realizing I should be on the Kentucky Parkway.  I had the impression that I-69 went to Lexington all the way.  Not so, didn’t listen to Lady Garmin.  U-turn back to the Parkway to Elizabethtown.  When there I’m flying blind again.  Garmin checked out, won’t start again so I turn on Waze on my smartphone.  It leads me backwards and I do another u-turn and look to get to I-65m /Exit 94.  Without Garmin and Waze gone weird, again flying blind.  I did the right thing; stopped at a convenience store.  A Good Samaritan sees my plight and guides me to my motel.  He does and I check into another Quality Inn where I have a reservation for a freebie night.  Finally here, I know I have an Arby’s gyro in the cooler.  Sick of driving aimlessly, I am STOPPED by intention for the night.  Sometimes the electronics and the AAA info, it works.  This was not one of those sometimes.  I am relieved to get here.   Only about 225 miles, it’s late in the afternoon and again, I’m glad to arrive.

Well the clouds were good to follow.  Not as big and well-formed as yesterday, but not shabby.

The drive is empty-headed.  Not too much to enjoy, just AIS, clouds and thoughts.  The landscape DOES change from flat to hilly and then very hilly.  Vistas go out miles, especially at the end, approaching the destination at the moment, Elizabethtown.. Not as far as I wanted.  Will make the last leg home a little more challenging but still doable.  Lexington is still about 90 miles away and from there to Cleveland is a good drive.  Hoping you can see it on the horizon, the far distance, hills way far away.  See it?

Alright then.  End of trip tomorrow.  Lexington, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland.  And then home, tomorrow.  I promise to do a recap, maybe not after arriving home late in the day, but in a day or two.  Loved having you in shotgun with me; a pleasure, joy and comfort.  Hope you had as I did, a great trip.

Welcome home to see my gorgeous wife, Louise and my family is the goal for tomorrow.  As the natives say in Africa, I see you, my loves, and my friends.

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Grenada, Mississippi to Benton, Kentucky via Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri

It’s Tuesday, May 22.  I drive for me, recently a good long way.  Grenada, Mississippi to Benton, Kentucky; 307 miles all told.  Almost now have 70,000 miles on this two-seater, 54,500 put on by me when I bought it from Joe.  This Mazda Miata Special Edition is a 2001, Number 2655 of 3,000 SEs made that year.  British Racing Green with with a tan top and inside trim.  Wood Nardi steering wheel and shift knob,  chrome entry door panel and wheels and an SE medallion on the side.  Here’s a photo of the car and the key fob (Roger, I bought the sailor’s knot fob at the ship museum we visited in Savannah.  Do you remember?).

I bought it out of his North Olmsted Honda dealership after it came in on a trade for a pre-owned Corvette.  There were two previous owners who drove this then-ten-year-old for an average of 1,500 miles per year.  I bought it in 2011 and started out with it in the fall to Lake Placid.  I got to the Smoky Mountains National Park and the entire Blue Ridge Parkway in 2012 and started blogging thereafter.  As an aside, I had the pleasure of driving for a week a Porsche Boxster, the complimentary use of which was extended to Matt and Lyndy for six months in a charitable auction.  Thanks for that , Matt and Lyndy.  I drove that Boxster, not as aggressively than Matt doing donuts, starting at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and half the Blue Ridge Parkway to I-77.  From that point on, I knew I needed a two-seater convertible and it was Joe that found this prize for me.  The dealership Sales Manager wanted it and so did the General Manager (Ron?).  Their wives put the kibosh on that and it became available to sell to the general public.   Joe jumped on it for me and in 24 hours, it was mine.

Thanks again, Joe!  I’ll never sell it.  I hope after I’m gone, it’ll be in my family for years.  I’ll be looking down from heaven and I, along with St. Christopher will be laughing out loud and singing along with Cash, Nelson and Kristofferson to the music and lyrics of The Highwayman.  Talking about being in heaven, not sure about Willie Nelson.  If he makes it there, he’ll have done it the hard way.  I’m hoping he’ll say a perfect Act of Contrition just before he gives up the ghost, which should be soon.  He’s old, this guy.  Advisory to Willie Nelson.  Someone tell him.  Willie, it’s not to late.  You’ve got soul, my man; your music says it and I want to see you up there with me, you singing and me fiddling, with Jesus looking on and smiling.  Willie . . . Repent!

Oh my.  I digress.  But some more.

Then, in August, 2113 I got to the National Parks in the west for our first big trip, documented in: peeweesbigadventure.wordpress.com, the first post of that trip in August, 2013 just after Dan and Megan’s wedding.  Please see: the first post at the address above for August 9, 2013.  You’ll have to click on August, 2013 and scroll down to August 9 to see it.  One thing.  I first named the blog Peewees Big Adventure.  Got tired of explaining to folks that I wan not ‘bad boy Peewee’ so changed the name to Pete’s Big Adventure.  Same blog/different address, same Pete Ruts.  My five-week trip to Alaska is on that latter blog site.

I was looking for a photo of the above wedding but it’s not on this computer.  DID find an archive photo from our 25th wedding anniversary trip to Maui.  I caught this 390 lb., 10.5 foot-long blue marlin.  Never heard that story?  Tell me you have not and I’ll tell it.

Okay enough background.  Digression alert.  Back to the drive  from Grenada to Benton, 310 miles.  At the moment while posting this, I’m into the Golden State / Houston game.  GS came out very strong but now at almost 9PM CDT, they’re tied.  Go Houston!  And at 10:15PM, Houston prevails.  2 and 2 Houston/Golden State.

Well, I’ll tell you it’s a good thing I got off on impassioned rants, because there’s not much to see.  Prayers help to calm me and get me to a spiritual level.  I take that back about not much to see.

Before departing, I was sure that I-55 would get me through Memphis, Tennessee and the into Kentucky but never imagined that I’d be driving through a bit of Arkansas, Missouri, and then back into Tennessee and finally into Kentucky.  Surprisingly I-55 goes through it all, back and forth through state borders.  I had no idea.  Larry at Solon AAA kept me on the straight and narrow, and got me into Kentucky the best way.  Thank you, Larry.  And BTW Larry, the AAA Tour Books and regional and state maps were indispensable.  Each one was useful and saved me time and frustration.  AAA’s Larry and St. Christopher, my patrons.

I cross the Mississippi again at the Missouri/Kentucky border and get onto a short drive named for Vice President Al Gore.  You remember him, he invented the internet.  And made global warming a household word.

The cumulus clouds are well-defined and they are enormous as well as very high. Mountains in the sky.  I’m taking photos all the way.

 

Just the border into Arkansas and near Jericho, there’s agriculture and lots of it .  All under water.  Is this rice being recently planted here?  Rice plants love being in water and I can’t imagine what other crop this might be.

Indeed.  Here’s what Wikipedia says.

Rice cultivation in Arkansas

Long grain American rice variety, USDA Agricultural Research Service Photo Library.[Large scale rice production in the state of Arkansas became a significant industry in the late 19th/early 20th century with its wide scale propagation within the state by entrepreneur W.H. Fuller around 1896.  Arkansas has historically been the largest rice producer in the entire United States, and accounted for nearly 45% of U.S. rice production in 2001, as well as just less than half of the total number of acres of rice harvested nationwide.  Much of Arkansas’ rice is grown in the east-central portion of the state, where it requires nearly three times more the amount of irrigation water than the average eleven inches the region receives during the growing season.  In the areas of lowest precipitation, or where weedy red rice is a significant problem, farmers follow a three year, three phase “old rotation” of rice-soybean-soybean. However, most Arkansas rice producers follow a two year, two phase crop rotation of rice following soybeans.

 

Clouds again.  It’s the very flat-as-a-pancake boring acreage, there’s some HUGE clouds, nicely formed that are with me all the way.  I talk a lot of pix of these and I’ll now analyze and award which can best convey the beauty, enormity and the power to amaze.  Most all are framed by the highway corridors of high pines on both sides of the roadway.  How utterly charming these views are.  Pure white as the sun shines upon them, light gray in the parts that the sun sparkles and then darker toward the bottom.  These must be 25 to 30,000 feet high.  It takes me a long time to get under the biggest (yes, biggest is a word) and to enjoy a cooling, but not dangerous shower.  It’s 83F.

Finally after a looong time AIS, I arrive at Benton, call Louise and head across the street to my favorite fast food.  I was thinking a triple-beef sandwich but I see the Gyros on the menu.  Two for $6.  With tax $6.36 but with my military veteran card, the 10$ discount gets the net down to $5.72.   One goes in the refer for tomorrow, the other goes down the hatch.  Washed down with three cups of yogurt for dessert.

After dinner, the laundry I washed this morning needs to be dried.  I’m not going to feed more quarter in the dryer (don’t have enough anyway), so here’s how to do it, just like how I do it at home and the way my grandparents did it while I listened as a young boy.  morning.  Well almost; they used a clothesline in the basement while I hang it all over the room, scattered about on lamps and doors and in the closet hanging properly.

Outside to get stuff out of the trunk, I’m charmed by the plantings.  So I grab my camera and take a few photos, just to remember the moment.

I watch Houston best Golden State and now it’s time for this cowboy to dream.  I play Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson singing at the jail with John Wayne and Walter Brennan looking on.  Rio Bravo.  1959.  A classic.  Here’s the link to the video and the lyrics.  Sing along!

Please note.  If the link below doesn’t work, just Google ‘Dean Martin singing My Rifle, My Pony, And Me’.

“My Rifle, My Pony And Me”

The sun is sinking in the west
The cattle go down to the stream
The redwing settles in her nest
It’s time for a cowboy to dream
Purple light in the canyons
That’s where I long to be
With my three good companions
Just my rifle, pony and me
Gonna hang my sombrero
On the limb of a tree
Coming home sweetheart darling
Just my rifle, pony and me
Just my rifle, my pony and me
Whippoorwill in the willow
Sings a sweet melody
Riding to Amarillo
Just my rifle, pony and me
No more cows (no more cows) to be roping (to be roping)
No more strays (no more strays) will I see
Round the bend (round the bend) she’ll be waiting (she’ll be waiting)
For my rifle, pony and me
For my rifle, my pony and me
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Goodbye Louisiana, Hello Mississippi

Driving today, Monday May 21 from Baton Rouge, I’m crossing the Louisiana/Mississippi going north on I-55.  There are virtually endless corridors of long-needle pines.  The enormous clouds, bedizened pure white and juxtaposed on the vivid blue sky, are nicely formed.  With a little imagination, they are mountains in the sky.  A brilliant sun shines through.

Then, a cloud makes the shadows go away and suddenly, surprisingly, a rain shower.  I’m reminded of my days at Bird Technologies Group when I often drove I-90 from Cleveland to Buffalo and back, winter and summer and through all kinds of weather.  We used to say that if you don’t like the weather or the road conditions, just drive a bit more, it’ll change.  John Muir said it better.  Here’s his version.

“This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”

The landscape here is gently rolling and the vistas are green, much unlike the Sonoran Desert landscape where landforms being eroded are everywhere.  Again John Muir says it the best.

“Standing here, with facts so fresh and telling and held up so vividly before us, every seeing observer, not to say geologist, must readily apprehend the earth-sculpturing, landscape-making action of flowing ice. And here, too, one learns that the world, though made, is yet being made; that this is still the morning of creation; that mountains long conceived are now being born, channels traced for coming rivers, basins hollowed for lakes; that moraine soil is being ground and outspread for coming plants,–coarse boulders and gravel for forests, finer soil for grasses and flowers,–while the finest part of the grist, seen hastening out to sea in the draining streams, is being stored away in darkness and builded particle on particle, cementing and crystallizing, to make the mountains and valleys and plains of other predestined landscapes, to be followed by still others in endless rhythm and beauty.”

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Baton Rouge

After a one-hour drive from Lafayette to Baton Rouge, I’m up for a day of rest.  After all it’s Sunday, the Lord’s Day.  I get to my reseved stay at the Comfort Inn here.  Arriving early in the day, at noon, I meet the front desk young lady.  Her name is Porsche. A gracious welcome and smile delivered with a vibrant personality.  I’m charmed.  She tells me of a Mississippi riverfront festival going on only minutes away, recommending that I visit while I wait for a room.  I decline, instead setting up shop in the lobby just like I did yesterday at my second stay in Lafayette.  Next photo: on the way out of Lafayette, it’s the Henderson Swamp, seen from the highway between eue-friendly and environmentally-friendly guard rails.

I ask Porsche if I could take a photo of her, being sure to tell her not to hesitate to say no.  She obliges.  Ca c’est Porsche.

Shortly, much sooner than I expected, Porsche tells me there’s a room ready.  She’s upgrading me to a suite (please note this is not a Comfort Inn and Suites, it’s a Comfort Inn).  So I’m in the room  for a look and whoa,  it’s the second best suite I’ve ever been in in all of my young life (the first is the suite at the Juliet in Lafayette two years ago).  This is indeed a suite and I presume it’s the only one in this five-story motel.  Here’s pix.

 

I’m quite impressed and out to thank Porsche for the favor.  I ask her (as if to say, why me?), if it was my personal charm and winning smile?  She confirms it.  I get a cart to bring in my baggage.  I’m not just pushing the cart; I’m walking on air.  Porsche, we’re buddies.

After settling in and getting a post done, I’m off to the festival downtown.  Here’s what I find on the ‘Visit Baton Rouge’ website.

“SOUL FOOD FESTIVAL – MAY 19-20, 2018

If there’s one thing we know down south, it’s our way around a kitchen. Dishes from here are known for sticking to the bone and bringing family and friends together. If you’re someone who enjoys everything smothered and buttered, make your way to the Soul Food Festival in Baton Rouge. This two-day festival will be held the weekend after Mother’s Day every year and is sure to please the taste buds and the soul.”

This is on the modern, re-done riverfront which one of the local folk here tells me was revitalized from a former crime-ridden area.  It’s indeed quite nice now, set on this well-landscaped Louisiana Memorial Park.  It is bedizened by a well- manicured-lawn.

Walking from the parking lot to the festival is, across Constitution Avenue, the Old Louisiana State Capitol.  See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Louisiana_State_Capitol

It was replaced by the highest state capitol in the USA.  Here it is in all its tall glory.

Then the Cane’s Riverside Park and the Festival.  There’s a U.S. Navy destroyer at the wharf.  And a band with the guitarist singing about how he loves his soul food.  Pix.

 

C’est tout.  Back to the hotel after a frustrating search for boiled crawdads.  Tomorrow, driving north on I-55 to Jackson, Mississippi and beyond.  Allons.

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