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Family meetup before the Bluegrass

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  1. A bluegrass music festival in Placerville, California brought son Chris and his girlfriend Gail from West Virginia to Sacramento for a day. Sue and I drove from Oregon and Brad came from Chico for a day of walking, eating, and even showing our skills at a shooting gallery. We wrapped it up with drinks at a K Street bar. Sue and I opted out of the weekend campout, but Brad and girlfriend Ashley returned the next day for the weekend festival.

 

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Backroads across America: Our sun sets in Hawthorne

Reg did an phenomenal job of driving today, putting far more miles behind us than we had planned for and delivering us to the perfect roadside stop.


Considering this is our first trip of the year, and a long one at that, we set up our site in what seemed like record time.  We poured a quick glass of wine and sat back to enjoy the setting sun!


Are the sunsets always this beautiful in Nevada?

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Alas, spring arrives in Rogue Valley

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A warm spring day welcomed us to Upper Table Rock, a U-shaped mesa overlooking the Rogue River near Medford, Oregon. Friends Jeff and Lan hiked with us on the 2.8-mile loop that climbs 720 feet. Wildflowers, vernal pools as well as views of Mount McLaughlin and the Siskiyou Mountains made the trip well worth every step.

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The best dam burger is in Redding

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A stop in Redding, California for a walk across the unique Sundial Bridge and along the raging Sacramento River left us looking for lunch downtown. We stumbled upon Damburger, which opened in 1938 at the construction site of Shasta Dam. It is a classic burger, fries and shake place that offers indoor and patio seating. Is it worth the short trip off I-5? Dam(n) right it is!

 

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Sierra Nevada: Good times, as usual

 

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An evening of beer tasting and dinner at Sierra Nevada Brewery in Chico was a highlight of our weekend visit with son Brad and his girlfriend Ashley.

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Three days to Texas

With just three days to cover 2,200 miles, we had our work cut out for us. I know your asking yourself, “What in the world were they thinking?” Well, truth is, we probably didn't have our thinking caps on when we cooked up this adventure, but it sounded good at the time…and as it turned out, we did have a pretty good time!
Reg and I crawled out of bed in the wee small hours of the morning with plans to drive straight down Inerstate 5 – as far south as we could. Our destination: Austin, Texas…a state neither Reg nor I had ever been to. Our goal: To deliver our Subaru to our son Brad who was visiting a friend in Austin. Ultimately, the car will find a new home in West Virginia with our son Chris and his girlfriend, Gail. Brad is on his way there as I write this.

Another early morning on day two as we left Blythe and California behind. No time for sightseeing, so I snapped this shot of the Arizona desert as we sped along the interstate.

We stopped for breakfast in Gila Bend, Arizona where this sign captured our attention. Not only was it the best breakfast in town, but it was the only breakfast in town!

Another window shot as we speed past mile after mile of the iconic Saguaro Cactus that cover southern Arizona.

Day two draws to an end and we seek lodging in Van Horn, Texas. A wide spot in the road you might think, and you'd be right. But this little town has a claim to fame and it's not just the Friday night Karaoke.

 

Chuy's, we learned, is home to The John Madden Haul of Fame, where there is an abundance of memorabilia on display. It is well documented that former NFL player and television commentator John Madden doesn't like to fly, and during his TV career he preferred to travel in his private coach, watching football games along the way. In 1987, reception was not great while traveling by coach along this stretch of Interstate 8, so Madden had his driver pull over at Chuy's Restaurant, where he sent his assistant in to search for a clear picture. The rest, as they say, is history. Madden was able to watch the game while enjoying Chuy's delicious Mexican cuisine, a combination that proved so successful that he returned year after year.

We said good bye to Van Horn, Texas well before daybreak and were rewarded with a beautiful sunrise as we drove east.

We reached Austin right on schedule, a little road-weary but eager to see downtown.

Here's Brad getting ready to devour The Notorius Pig, a macaroni and cheese covered hot dog offered at Franks Restaurant in Downtown Austin.

 

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Monument Valley provides iconic views

We took a short side trip yesterday as we continued across Arizona. Anyone who has ever watched a western will recognize the soaring buttes and mesas of Monument Valley. This landscape has provided a backdrop for movies, TV shows and commercials since the 1930s.

The formations all have names. These are Left Mitten, Right Mitten and Merrick Butte.

The valley is situated on Navajo Reservation land so access is somewhat limited. For a fee, there is a 17-mile drive along a dirt road that will get you a view from down below. Navajo guides are also available for tours. Personally, I think horseback would be the way to explore!

We say goodbye to Monument Valley and head east.

 

 

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The Huts of the White Mountains

This post about the Appalachian Trail makes me consider accessibility. Why can’t more trails like this one become more accessible to trekkers of various abilities and needs? America has a chance to make some of its treks emulate some of the qualities of long-distance walks like the Camino de Santiago in Spain, with a variety of accommodations for trekkers.

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Earlier today, the Appalachian Mountain Club tweeted photos from their Huts, which set me reminiscing about my perception of the Huts over the last few years.  I suppose, like many hikers, I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with the Huts.

In fact, I think it’s fair to say that  the existence of the AMC Huts in New Hampshire is one of the most contentious topics among thru-hikers.  It ranks somewhere above whether it’s more important to shower or do laundry and somewhere below whether to bring a stove, use a pack cover, and sleep in a tent or hammock.

The High Huts serve as places to escape from the wind and cold of the White Mountains.  They are often staffed by friendly croos, each of which is generally comprised of four young hikers, some of whom (like Sunbeam and Gluten Puff) have thru-hiked before.  During the…

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We Say Goodbye Again: Camino de Santiago

Sadly, we've learned that our great friends Ian and Marion will not be meeting us in Santiago. Although they sped ahead of us about a week ago, injuries have cut their trip short and we hear they are headed home. This will not be the end…we hope to see them again, perhaps in California or their home in England. Cheers to you both. We will miss you and wish you the best!

We joined Ian and Marion for a drink at their Hostal in the town of Belorado. The warm fire provided a refuge from the drizzle that night.

 

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Rustic Charm-Foncebadon: Camino de Santiago

Much of the village is in ruins, but we are thankful for a warm place to lay our heads tonight!

It's hard to believe, but Reg and I found a beautiful, private room with bath in this tiny (nearly 5,000 ft. high) mountaintop village. The photo top left shows our Albergue…our window is tucked off to the left on the second floor. As you can see, Foncebadon has seen better days, but the steady stream of Pilgrims keep the four Albergues full; so much so that we had to make dinner reservations!

 

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