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Certified organic poultry farmer in SE Mass

Trip, Continued
Our lifetime passes allowed us to free entrance to the Petrified Forest, Giant Sequoia National Park and Custer's National Cemetery. The $10.00 I spent on this pass is a lifetime pass. It saved us at least $60.00 on entrance fees. It is only good at National Parks, not State Parks and the person who the pass is issued to must be in the group and show a picture ID. Another wonderful thing we had with us was my Handicapped Placket for parking in Handicapped areas. This was what A needed but for some reason, she has never applied for one. I got mine since my doctor's diagnosis was adequate, altho' I did have to bother her for a letter to the RMV. But it was worth the trouble!

It wasn't often I needed to use the placket, but when I do, it surely comes in handy! There are days when my hip or back is bothering me so, I can't walk far. I have actually used the electric shopping carts available to customers at the entrance to stores. 

Back to the trip...July 9, we drove north through CA. Alongside the highway you could easily see the burnt hills from recent wildfires. Once again, the contrast between the blackened hills and the golden of the dry grass was very obvious. Some of the fires had licked the edge of the highway, the emergency trucks had left their tire tracks etched in the burnt ground. 

As we traveled north through CA towards the Giant Sequoias, I saw numerous (and I mean NUMEROUS) orange groves with irrigation lines set up at the bases of the trees. Some of the ends of the lines had popped off and water was puddling in the sandy aisles, left to water nothing. At one point, there was an adobe castle in the middle of nowhere. It was a huge, Spanish affair in the middle of brown grass. It seemed to be ridiculous, there in the middle of nowhere, huge and forlorn. 

A was driving that morning. We had looked at the map and she knew that there would be a turn that said "Sequoia National Park" We had noted the mileage to the turn off. I had my ear plugs in since she had her music on...louder than I could stand. I was sending pix on my iPhone and was busy for about 20 minutes when she shouted out. She said she saw a car hit a dog right in front of us. I didn't see it because I was looking at the mile markers on the side of the road...and it seemed to me we had missed our turn-off...again. 

I don't recall if I mentioned how many times A said she knew the way, could read maps, could read directions. Altho' she bragged about her abilities, her inability to actually read road maps and road signs was poor, at best. When we were headed to the Petrified Forest, she cost us over 60 miles of back-tracking b/c she couldn't understand the directions in the AAA road guide. I must say, their directions left a LOT TO BE DESIRED. But north is not south and east is not west. And she mis-directed us on several other occasions. Seems she doesn't pay attention to her surroundings or to the written directions. I believe she cost us over 250 miles of back-tracking. Frustrating when we were so tight for gas money!

We saw a gas station with a convenience store, so I went inside to ask for directions. The gal at the counter gave excellent directions and we had lost only about 30 miles. A continued to say there was no sign for the turn-off, but I knew better. She had her music on, was dancing around in her seat and wasn't paying attention...again.

We arrived at the Giant Sequoia National Park. The line was long at the gate, but there was one lane for "prepaid passes". We had no wait there! We drove up to one of the larger parking areas and used the Handicapped placket to park. A wasn't very "social" at that time. I'm sure she was feeling the sting of my words about her not looking for the turn off and what her lack of attention had cost us. 

I got out with BB the dog and we walked around the area. There were busses taking people on tours up to Morro Rock and other places in the Park. Right off the parking area, there was a paved road, leading up into the forest. BB and I took a walk up there. A stayed in the parking area with Angel. As I walked up the paved road up the hill, I saw a cabin. Probably a two room cabin with a porch. It was dwarfed by several Giants. In my picture, it looks to be the size of a fairy house next to the trees. 

BB and I went back to the parking lot, met up with A and Angel. We walked to one of the Giants and A took my picture with BB & Angel. She declined to have her picture taken...

At the entrance of the parking area, there was a Park Ranger, a young woman who had a wonderful sense of humor. I saw this when I watched her repeat the same directions over and over to passing cars & pedestrians. I asked her if we might be able to drive up the paved road and she said it was for handicapped only. I mentioned my Handicapped placket and she told me to "Go right up"...so we did. Morro Rock was at the top of the road. There were emergency vehicles up there, taking someone out who had either a heart attack or heat exhaustion while climbing the 900+ steps up to access the top of Morro Rock. It was very hot and close that day, so I could see how this could happen. I decided I wasn't going to climb up the steps and used the toilet. They were of the rustic type, probably pumped on a daily basis...and no running water. A declined, she didn't like those kinds of bathrooms. I thought that was amusing since she shit in a plastic bag at her home...and thought that was OK!

We left Morro Rock behind and headed north towards Oregon. I don't remember where we stayed that night...late in, early out.

July 10, we headed up through north CA and came across Diablo State Park. It was a Monday and there weren't any attendants at the gate. We drove through and up into the mountains. The hills were brown from drought, some green trees were struggling to live. Most were scrub trees. We stopped at a turn-out and we could see the valley to the south. The hills were brown as far as you could see! Drought was here. I drove up into the state park and pulled into a parking area, heading for shade. A asked me why we parked there...I told her we could park in the sun and roast, but I chose the shade. 

I suggested she should take one of her folding chairs out and have a rest, I was going to scout out a place to pee. And off I went, leaving her with the dogs. I found a private place to relieve myself and then had a look around. I discovered some interesting rock formations above the parking area. Some were "grinding stones"", holes made in the huge rocks by the early natives. They used the holes in the rocks to grind acorns into flour. There were also some huge holes made by water and stones stuck in the holes. As the water churned, the stones turned in the rocks and made huge indentations. Some large enough to fit a person should they need shelter from rain or wind.

I went back to the car. A was just standing around...so we packed it in and left. I drove out of the state park...seems she now understood how much her driving scared me and didn't argue when I asked to drive. Several times, cars passed us as we took our time (and observed the speed limit) driving out of the state park. 

We headed north...towards Oregon. 

July 13, we saw the Monticello Dam, built by the Dept of the Interior in 1957. It was a spectacular dam, closing up a gorge formed by a river. The water was aqua green, there must be copper minerals in the gorge to color the water in that way. 

As we headed towards Oregon, we saw the Solar Living Institute sponsored by Real Goods. I had to stop for a visit. Real Goods got their start up in the Burlington, VT area many years ago but moved out west due to better customer base. The place was expansive and wonderfully designed. There was a visitor's area with picnic tables and benches and a play area for kids. All was shaded by grape vines and the grapes were very obviously ripening on the vine. In all the travels through CA, I had not seen one grape on any of the vines we passed!  Yet, here they hung in the shade of their own vines, creating a haven from the sun! I visited the ladies room, constructed from recycled materials. Composting toilets, water from collection barrels provided washing water. It was a wonderful visit. However, I had little money to spend on anything, so I left with a few post cards in hand. A stayed in the car with the AC on.

We got to the Oregon Coast just at sunset. I parked and got out to take some pix. I think A stayed in the car. She wasn't happy to stop since we were now trying to make up time lost in Santa Fe due to the car's AC repair. We drove until very late that night, traveling through the Redwoods on a narrow, two lane road. I drove...and pulled off to take some night time pix of the Redwoods. I was sad that we missed the splendor of a day light viewing, but this is the way things went with A. No plan, just by the seat of our pants. 

I will close for now. I harvested many Chicken of the Woods mushrooms yesterday and want to clean and cook them this afternoon. You will forgive me for wanting to harvest & preserve food for winter. More later...

Trip, Continued
The Grand Canyon was one of splendor and grandiose, beyond anything I had seen before. Pictures do not do it justice, it is magnificent beyond belief. The one thing I saw in the "man made" part of the visitor's center was a cement circle in the middle of many tiles with decoration from native tribes, the inscription said, "Tribes Call The Canyon Home" with a hand print included in the circle. It was touching. Around that man-made area were large stone formations. They were like thrones for giants. There were many visitors that day, I heard it wasn't so busy since it was overcast and rain threatened. I was glad for that weather forecast! It was so crowded, I didn't go into the visitor's center, but I did use the ladies restroom. The line was only about 12 deep for all the stalls. The restroom was clean, even though the toilets were not modern...seems there is no sewer service in the middle of the Grand Canyon! 

That night, we stayed in Arizona, at the border. The next day, we headed into CA, through the southern part of the state. We stopped in Fresno, CA for gas and a break at a park. It was obvious that irrigation was used, since there was green grass at the park where the local students played ball games. It was very hot, 106 degrees at about 7 PM. I saw to the south many wind turbines on the hills behind us. The hills were all brown...and nothing much grew on them. A wonderful place to put so many wind turbines! There were hundreds of them, on the peaks of the hills and in the foothills. All were turning in the wind. 

That night, we stayed in a roach motel...the room was OK...we snuck the dogs in and out again. The fridge in one corner of the room was sending out a lot of heat...I looked at it and saw the door was open and the entire inside freezer area was coated with inches of frost. I took two towels, put one inside the bottom of the fridge, one on the floor in front of the fridge and pulled the plug. I turned the AC on (they never turn the AC on for you) and we went out to find something to do for an hour or so. We found another park for the dogs to walk, but it was still hot. 

When we got back to the room, the fridge had defrosted (how could it not? it was soooo hot in that corner!). I cleaned up any water from the defrosted freezer, closed the door and plugged the fridge back in. During that process, I moved the fridge and a plethora of roaches came scurrying out from under the fridge. I did the Mexican Hat Dance again...as I did in Flagstaff, AZ when I cleaned out A's car in the morning before we left Flagstaff. 

We slept, ate breakfast (A normally goes to the provided breakfast at the motels, I don't). The way the motels store the food makes me uneasy. Cereal is in large dispensers, all available to insects. Fruit is not put into any kind of bins, but left in baskets for the night. If there are roaches on the rooms, there will be roaches in the food storage areas, too! Besides, there wasn't a decent cup of coffee in the whole southwestern area! While she had her breakfast, I would pack up the room and get things ready.

Some time beforehand, we had decided since she didn't know how to ready anything to travel, her job would be to put ice into the coolers for the days travel. I discovered her ability to do this also lacked in quality. She didn't seem to know how to close a zip lock bag and the ice melted into the cooler anyway! So, I always checked the bags (ice was double bagged) after she got the ice into the bags. She was insulted, but by this time, I didn't care about her feelings. Seemed she was completely ignorant of what she was doing most of the time and how it influenced my safety. 

Sneaking the dogs out of a motel room would be easy if they were both BB's size. I could carry him and easily conceal him. Angel was another matter. She was a mixed-breed Border Collie and weighed about 48#. We were careful and never got caught. But I was always so nervous when we were doing this. Especially concerned they had our (or my) debit card on file for extra fees to be added on later. 

We traveled north through CA that day, headed towards the Giant Sequoias. 

More later...
Trip, Continued
Here I am to continue this saga. But seems the  Arial font is not working, but I will continue since today is very stormy and windy. BB the dog won't go out to do his business, so I will write instead.

As far as the financial situation, A has paid back almost all the money she "borrowed" and used during the trip. The lack of my regular funding has caused me some strain since I had to pay my car insurance the first of August or there would be added fees (monthly fees as well as loosing the discount for paying the total when due). In order to avoid these fees, I pay all my auto insurance at once.

Now that I have started working on this blog, BB the dog has woken up and is asking to go out. I know he will change his mind as soon as I open the door, but I will sign out for now and come back later. It is just too stormy outside to do anything else but blog!

Well, I just typed for two hours and when I set the post to be visible to the public, the internet connection wasn't connected...so I lost all the story I had written. Tired now, need to have lunch and take a break. If I feel up to it later, I will re-write and try to post.