Sunday, August 28, 2011

Road Trip: The Home Stretch!

We made it home today!  The Holiday Inn Express Breakfast bar did not look too appealing to us after eating there for about 7 days straight!  So we opted to get on the road- we both were anxious to get home and we thought we'd get stopped at the Agricultural Inspection Station coming back into California.  We had breezed through the last two states Port of Entries so the Ag Inspection was one last worry to get through.  But first we had to get to California!

It was nice to see the familiarity of the Sierras!
The pine scent in the air told us home was not too far away!

We crossed over the California State line about 9 am and were at the Ag Inspection Station about 15 minutes later.  The attendant asked, "Is that your equipment?"  We replied, "Yes"  Then he asked, "Where did you get it from?"  Mike replied, "Illinois".  Then he said "OK - go ahead!"  Whew!

Mike had worried all along the way that we may be stopped because there was dirt on the tracks we picked up and we would have to pay for the tracks to be cleaned before entering the state.  He had the Dowson's pressure wash them before we picked them up and at each stop, I would catch him brushing any dirt or rocks that loosened up from our load, so that worry was gone!

 Starbucks was just off the road in Colfax. We hadn't had much good coffee on the whole trip and we were really hungry by this time, so the familiar green and white logo was a welcome site! 

 Starbuck's Sausage Muffin Sandwich tasted superb and was a treat compared to our other breakfasts!  Mike swooned when he took that first sip of the dark roast he ordered.

It wasn't long before we were passing by our rice fields!  The heads have come out on the rice and are starting to get heavy and tip - soon we we'll be turning off the water and then harvest not too long after that!

About 11 am we pulled into our farm shop yard to unhook the trailer with the tracks on it, before heading home!  It was a great feeling to have that trailer unhitched!! We had driven 4,300 miles with that load attached and it felt as if we were free!  We then got the fork lift to get my "treasure box" off the trailer, and into the bed of the pickup to go home.

And that's when our last adventure of the trip started!  When moving the 'box' Mike got his left pinky finger stuck between the bottom of the box and one of the tines of the fork lift!  He yanked it out but not before he sliced the tip of his finger in two!  I said, "Let me see it!"  and he said, "You don't want to see it!"  But I did - here is what it looked like when I wiped away the blood!
Yes - we were back on the road to the urgent care!  I thought the urgent care doctor was going to faint when he saw it!  He ordered xrays which came back confirming that Mike had fractured the tip of the finger and it was obvious the nail had been severed!  The Urgent Care doctor then sent us over to the next building to the Orthopedic Surgeon to stitch him up.

(Maybe a fracture pinky caused this guy to be Dr. Evil!!)

The Orthopedic Doc first injected his whole hand with Novocaine.
We both thought - What a way to end our trip!
 We waited a few minutes for his hand to numb and then he went to work. My camera battery died at this point so you were saved from seeing the procedure! He cleaned the wound and then put the iodine around the perimeter of the wound.  He pulled the top half of the nail off and then took some surgical scissors and cut the remaining nail so there was a clean break.  He then quickly stitched up the nail bed with five sutures.  The medical assistant then wrapped his finger up using a whole roll of gauze.  His pinky now looked like a light bulb!  We thanked the doc and left . . .

to get to the pharmacy to pick up his antibiotic prescription and a pain killer so he could sleep at night.  The doctor said he would feel some constant throbbing when that Novocaine wore off!
So about 3:30 pm we finally made it home!
Both of us are exhausted and Mike's nerves were shot after driving with a 24,000 pound load behind him for so many miles.  He decided he did NOT want to be a Big Rig Hauler when he retires!  We had a great time on the trip, met many fun people, and didn't have too many disagreements along the way! But one of the goals was for us to see parts of our country we had never seen and that was a mission accomplished!  

 We are so lucky to live in an country like ours -
the amber waves of grain, the purple mountains and their majesty, were all sites we will cherish and never forget!  Thanks for sharing our journey with me! 

Look for my post "Opening the Treasure Box" soon!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Road Trip: Red Rocks and Salt Flats

After traveling over 750 miles today, we passed some great landscapes of our beautiful country. 
The rock formations in Wyoming were amazing!

 I'd love to know what was living in all the little holes within the cliffs!

Driving through this pass . . .

 We passed into Utah.

  Utah has more of the infamous red rocks of the west!
 Interstate 80 is this close to them!

I tried to get a picture of Salt Lake City from the car window. . .
but got a little too much guard rail!

Just outside of Salt Lake City we saw a sign that said "Bad Air - Drive Less" - we could see some haze in the distance but nothing like the San Fernando Valley!

 The Great Salt Lake in just that . . .

Really salty!

We drove by miles and miles of salt flats. We saw a Morton Salt Plant - if you look really close at the yellow building in this picture you can see the Morton Salt girl!

This strange looking sculpture stands out high above the Bonneville Salt Flats right along the edge of Interstate 80.  I shot this picture out the window and didn't quite get it centered!! We didn't know what is was so we googled it!

 Entitled Metaphor: Tree of Utah - Swedish artist Karl Momen created the 87-foot high tree between 1982-1986. He financed the project himself to bring bold color and beauty to the stark, flat, salty landscape. The sculpture is made of 225 tons of cement, almost 2,000 ceramic tiles and five tons of welding rod, and tons of minerals and rocks native to Utah.  It is called the "Tree of Life" sometimes as well.

We saw more amazing rock formations in Nevada, but after about 50 miles that looked almost the same, I started reading the book "The Help" aloud.  I wanted to read the book before seeing the movie so I was Mike's personal Book on Tape!  Nevada scenery is not the most interesting so I kept of reading and we got hooked! 

I read until Chapter 13 and then my eyes had had it and it was getting dark - time to turn in for the day! We got on the road about 9 am this morning and didn't get off the road until 9:30 pm!  And we even gained an hour due to a time change! Not one stop for shopping but we made up for our other shopping trips and caught up on our miles! So we were on the road for 13 hours straight traveling from Rock Springs, Wyoming to Sparks, Nevada in one day!  Tomorrow - Homeward bound!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Road Trip: Through the Rockies

Last night when we got to the hotel, to top off the day we had, we found two crickets in our room - that were still alive!  We thought if a cricket on the hearth is good luck then one (or two!) in your hotel room must mean your luck is going to change.  Mike rolled up a towel and laid it by the crack under the door because he figured they were coming in from outside.  It worked because we never found anymore in our room - and we had a much better day today! We packed up to go load the truck and as we were walking out the door, we noticed lots of dead crickets on the ground outside the door and around the base of the building.  It got colder than it had been the previous nights, according to a worker we talked to, so he thought they died because of that.  We thought maybe the hotel management hired the Orkin man because of complaints by the hotel guests!  
 Just next door to the hotel was a Goodwill store.  So before we hit the road for the day, I had to hit the Goodwill!  Nothing like looking for stuff when you are fresh - I scanned the shelves and was out of the store in one half hour - Mike was so proud!!  (Note the sarcasm!)  I actually found some wonderful things at great prices!  Just a note: the internet in the hotel went down half way through downloading my pics so a few are missing until I can get more service!
(picture of Goodwill finds)
A vintage medicine cabinet with glass shelves for, a two tiered metal serving piece, a David Frykman Santa, a light green depression glass egg dish, a Scarlett O'Hara figurine, a vintage cut glass honey pot, and a cute seahorse brooch - total cost: $24.78!  Feeling successful, I packed the treasure box with all the goodies and we hit the road.
We passed field after field of corn in Nebraska - the fields are planted right on the rolling hills and amazing to see - corn grows so fast the weeds can't compete so the fields look really clean! No wonder Cornhuskers are so proud of their state!
We also passed a few fields of alfalfa hay.  In our neighborhood, the hay is cut, dried and then baled.  Here, it is rolled into huge rolls.  The rolls sit in the field until time to load and deliver.  If there is a surplus of rolls, the farmer rolls them to the side of the field so he can harvest his next cutting.
(picture of Sweet BBQ Lays chips)
Hay is not the only thing that is a bit different.  During one of our stops, we noticed a few snack foods we have never seen before in California - but it could be because we don't eat chips often! First, we saw this one in Missouri - Sweet Southern Heat Barbeque.  We bought a bag to taste - too hot for me, but Mike loved them!
Then we saw these Ruffles Hot Wing Potato Chips in Nebraska.  Again - too hot for me, but Mike loves the heat.  I wondered if these were the same chips the call 'chipotle' in California and 'Cajun' in Louisiana! That would be pretty smart marketing - same chips, but different regional packaging! Maybe these small towns are test markets . . .
It wasn't long until we were over the Wyoming State Line.  Again we had to stop at a truck scale, but this time, we had a seasoned scale officer.  He checked out paperwork and we were on our way in minutes!
Just into Wyoming, we saw these traditional haystacks!  Being a first grade teacher for years, they reminded me of the story of Little Boy Blue, asleep in the hay!
The terrain started to change and things started looking a little drier again.  We had been driving through so many lush corn and soybean fields it was a pretty stark contrast.
The skies were full of fluffy white clouds - and there is a lot of sky in this part of the country!  I could take picture after picture of beautiful cloud formations but one will have to do here!
We made it to the capital of Wyoming, Cheyenne.  We chose not to stop because we needed to catch up after the challenges we had yesterday.
(picture of rocky mountains)
The hills turned to mountains as we traveled along, and again we were seeing some gorgeous rock formations.  It was a steady climb in elevation out of Cheyenne along Interstate 80.  We are only getting about 10 miles per gallon now with our 25,400 lb load!
When we reached the summit at one side of the Continental Divide, we saw this 13 1/3 foot tall statue of Abraham Lincoln.  It was made by an University of Wyoming Art professor Robert Russin out of 10 tons of clay and 11 months of work to create. Passing it by as we moved over the backbone of our country gave me a sense of pride.
The elevation at the summit was 8,640 feet - and what goes up, must come down! Mike was concerned about what downward grades lay ahead for us as we had never driven this road!  The road started with a gradual grade down and then we reached a part with a 5% grade and the truck started making scary grinding noises - was our transmission going out?!  Westopped the truck and got out the owner's manual and Mike re-read the "Tow/Haul Package" section.

Having read the specifics about how the electric tow/haul package works part on steep downward grades, since we live in the flatland, we felt a little better and continued down the road.  Luckily, it was a gradual grade all the way down to Laramie, and we needed a break after driving 250 miles!

Laramie is one of my favorite towns I visited so far on this trip!  It is a college town and the University of Wyoming students had just come back to school this Monday so the town was hopping.
 This is picture of main street - it looks like a typical western town out of the movies like Gunsmoke!  And it has lots of cowboy bars as well!
Before we got to Laramie, I had checked my GPS for 'Antiques'.  We forgot to update our GPS before we left and it only offered one store - Ann's Antiques and Pawn.  We drove into town and found it immediately since it was on the main drag.
But the sign only indicated 'Pawn'.
My curiousity told me I had to check it out. The front of the store was classic western - wagon wheels, a front porch, vintage signs, an Adirondack style bench out front and the running horse weather vane on top!

I walked in and this was clearly a pawn shop - behind the counter were rows of guns, the glass case contained knives, and watches.  Another glass case contained vintage china, tea cups, depression glass, and some jewelry.  Not seeing any sales people, I stepped up to the counter and got a fright!
This is Huck! According to Anne, the store owner, he is the 'greeter'!  He 'paws up' to the counter to welcome guests as they step up to the counter - and he gives high fives on command! He was a sweetheart but we all know why he is really there!
Anne was great and gave me some suggestions for stores to visit in town with antiques.  I thanked her, gave Huck a pat, and was on my way.
As I walked around downtown, I saw numerous painted murals.  This is one on the side of a Cycling Shop building!  I love  how the bike hangs out like a sign - definitely eye catching!
Anne had suggested I find the store called Mimi's. 
 I walked around a few blocks at all the cute little shop but couldn't find it so I went into this store "Back of the Wagon Antiques".  As soon as I walked in I could tell they dealt in vintage western antiques.  I had so much fun walking around the store and seeing vintage Roy Rogers bedspreads and Dale Evans dolls!  
Beautiful antique furniture from the old west anchored every vignette.  This chest of drawers was one of my favorites!  I just love the grape motif pulls - but I wasn't in the market for a chest of drawers!
They also had lot of vintage kitchen tools and tools you would use around the campfire, and lots of vintage and antique tools.  This stove was in perfect shape and anchored the kitchen tool section!
(picture of tiny glass bottles and vanity tray)
I talked to the girl working, who was a third year U of Wyoming student.  She was a business major from Iowa and she did lots of the displays - I told her they were beautiful!  I bought some tiny glass bottles for a client, and a vintage vanity tray.  She gave me a map of downtown Laramie, showed me where Mimi's was and told me she loved Mimi's - the anticipation was killing me!
I found it and it did not disappoint!  The store was a lot like Melange, the store I am a vendor in.   Look for my complete post on the store in about a week! But, as always, here is a sneek peek!
 Mimi's is a consignment store that specializes in vintage dresses and hats - and oh the hats she had! Absolutely funky and gorgeous! They are also in perfect condition! Anyone who loves vintage hats and dresses needs to go visit Mimi's!  She carries lots of other consignment items as well. 
(picture of china plates)
I found a mid century tea cart and a set of 9 vintage china dinner plates I could not leave behind!  As soon as I get home I will add pictures since the hotel internet is down again!  I just don't think big sky country is big internet country!!

Mike had been reading up more about the Tow Package on his truck, checking the straps and chains on our load, and surfing the internet for hotels on the road ahead.  We both we starving since we had nothing to eat since breakfast, except to taste the bag of chips and it was 5:30 pm.  I had passed some cafes when I had been walking around to find Mimi's, so we chose Lovejoys' Bar and Grill.
We ordered the asiago cheese and artichoke dip to appease our growls right away. It was delicious! I thought to myself, "pretty smart appetizer for college town - carrot and celery sticks for the girl on a date and the focaccia bread and bowl - great for a guy - and girl to share!"  We both ordered sandwiches after our appetizer and gobbled them so fast I didn't get a picture - but his Ruben and my Patty Melt were both delicious - I recommend this place if you are ever in Laramie!!
Back in the truck again with full bellies, we were prepared to spend another 2 hours on the road. We made up a lot of miles today and had some great stops.  I'll leave you with a Wyoming sunset until tomorrow - I've got to get some sleep!