Road Trip

There’s something to be said for seeing the country the old fashioned way.  I’ve been in the mood to take a road trip for quite some time and was fortunate enough to both get some time off to do so, and to have a friend willing to give me a destination point. There’s a connected-ness that happens when you put wheels on the road.  Very distinct, and much much different from air travel.  I’m always a little off balance when I arrive in a city by air ; and that’s not just due to my inner ear pressure being scrambled.  Travel by car allows me to experience the places I travel through directly; and allow my mind and body to acclimate.

Let me talk for a minute about the interstate highways.  Arguably, one of the most significant achievements of the Eisenhower Administration.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act on June 29, 1956.   American lives have not been the same since.  At this point our future as the United States was about to become a reality. (Coincidentally for you trivia buffs – Marilyn Monroe married Arthur Miller in White Plains, New York on that very evening)   There’s not an item you have that has not traveled on an interstate highway to get to you – thanks to the truck drivers of America.

As a child of the 60’s and 70’s I can’t remember a time when one was not able to travel on the interstate. My mom can tell you stories of literally all day drives to get from southwestern MA to upstate Vermont taking what we now call “the back roads” all the way. You can still take back roads anywhere but with the interstate, why bother? You can get there much quicker on the highway.  That said, there’s something very pleasurable to me in driving myself somewhere; and experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of each region.  My car wheels roll and hum on the roadway; the tires softly thudding at predictable intervals as they cross the thin lines dividing each section of pavement.  My navigator and sidekick for this adventure – my fourteen year old daughter.  Our destination:  The Blue Ridge Mountains and the Shenandoah Valley – Virginia.

Our GPS guided path took us south through Connecticut and into New York City on the I-95. A hot concrete and chrome fast/slow crush – smelling of exhaust fumes and faintly, low tide.  The City Proper – hazily visible to our left under thundery skies.  The Freedom Tower a beautiful soft focus exclamation point on the mid-afternoon skyline. Next, the crowded hustle and bustle of Newark NJ and the Garden State Parkway.  Everything’s close together and moving fast.

Things slow down and spread out as we reach Pennsylvania on I-78.  Farm country, the Lehigh Valley. Rolling hills divided by neat white fences that  enclose single and twin siloed red barns. Barns with stone foundations that seem to come straight up from the ground itself.  White farmhouses with wraparound porches. Everything neat – spic and span; as the saying goes. The first haying has come and gone, the second, now rolled up and drying on the fields. Horses and cows graze contentedly in green gold pastures.  Closer to the road, fence lines are covered with fuzzy, dusty pink flowers,

Some of those dusty pink fuzzy flowers along the roadside.

Some of those dusty pink fuzzy flowers along the roadside.

wild roses, and creeping vines.  Thunderstorms are coming in from west to east and it rains on us sporadically. It also creates splendid cloudscapes as the afternoon sun  lowers behind them.  We stop for a break, and I’m struck  by how similar things are on and around the interstate.  Mile-high signs announcing food, fuel, and lodging. Restaurant and Hotel chains providing the same services all up and down the road.  There’s a standard level of service on the interstate; which gives the traveler a sense of stability as they go along their merry ways.

We resume after refueling ourselves – and the car, and as we leave Pennsylvania behind crossing the Delaware and the Mighty Susquehanna, I am suddenly aware of a difference in the air quality. It’s become softer.  The thunderstorms have now tracked well to our east, but continue to provide a spectacular sky show to my left – as the late afternoon sun turns the line of massive thunderhead tops berry-pink with alpen-glow; with bruised purple foundations underneath. A dramatic, stunning backdrop for the farms dotting the low hills.  On I-81 now, we arrive in Virginia where the air seems even softer and smells sweeter.  I later discover that the scent is a luscious, heavenly combination of honeysuckle and sweet pea.  The Blue Ridge Mountains live up to their name as the sun sets behind the last ridge in Virginia in a purple, gold, and peach blaze of glory. Getting off the highway, we now take the back road directly to my friend’s house. On the way, a white tailed deer is grazing by the side of the road. We slow down to take a look and startle her into bounding off – back into the woods.  It was a nice “a-ha” moment to appreciate.

After arriving at  TL’s house, we settle in and relax, chatting up a storm with her and her son Ceej.  Getting to know the rest of the family – the cats: Miss Katie Scarlett, Paul Newman, Jack Sparrow, and Gandalf. And the dogs: Ruby Thewes and Miss Daisy. (TL has an affinity for literary characters). Mayhem and I felt welcome and at home; bonding with the entire cast of characters instantly.   I  doubt TL and I stopped talking the whole time we visited.  It was great fun.  Next post will be about our profoundly affecting trip to the Civil War Battlefield of New Market  – with pictures – and then later, our trip home.

To end this particular post, I thought I would leave you with a list of my favorite “Road/Road Trip” movies.  What are some of yours? And, do you have a favorite recollection of a road trip you might like to share?

  • Duel (1971)
  • Easy Rider (1969)
  • Electra Glide in Blue (1973)
  • To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything. Julie Newmar (1995)
  • The Gumball Rally (1976)
  • Thelma and Louise (1991)
  • Psycho (1961)
  • It Happened One Night (1934)
  • The Wild One (1954)
  • The Long, Long Trailer (1954)
  • Smokey and The Bandit (1977)
  • Speed (1994)
  • From Dusk to Dawn (1996)

Lavender Blue

My  English Lavender has finally established itself after two years and is taking over from the day lilies next to my deck and patio. Instead of cutting it back last year I left it completely alone, and this spring it ran amok!  Amok! Amok! Amok! 😉  IMG_8923 watermarked IMG_8937 watermarked IMG_8953 watermarked IMG_8974 watermarked I actually was able to smell it the other afternoon when my allergies were giving me a break. It was divine! And the bees love it.  They go about their business busily while I snap pictures. Unfortunately, they are too quick for me to get a good picture of them, but I’ll figure it out someday….. laughing!

And Just for Fun:  Both of my grandmothers used to sing this to me and my sister when we were little – its derived from a very old English Nursery Rhyme – that has MUCH bawdier origins. This version won Burl Ives an Academy Award in 1948, and was his first major chart topper.  Here’s the song reference:

 

Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree

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Heres the song reference, a little before my time but good music NEVER goes out of style,  does it?

The air smells divine this evening.  Yes, I can actually smell the apple blossoms this year – albeit faintly.  Its FINALLY May in New England.  Wedding Season.   I should head up to Stanley Park soon as things should be in  full flower up there by now.  But my side yard beckoned this afternoon.  I like the play of light and shadow on the leaves and blossoms.  There was quite a breeze but the blossoms held on strong.  Its sure been a lovely day today.  We could use some rain – which I understand is finally in the forecast this week thankfully.  Not much else to say.  I’m gonna let the pictures do the talking.  I hope you all  like them!  HUGS!

Autumn Kalaidescope

Gallery

This gallery contains 12 photos.

Here are some more pictures I took on our trip to New Hampshire with my Canon EOS Rebel, in the order they were shot. We made quite a few stops on the way up to get many of  these shots. … Continue reading

Sweet Summer Vintage

Sunday was a lovely day for a bbq picnic with friends. While attempting to capture the fast paced action of a scratch whiffle ball game, I managed to find some wild grapes in the outfield by a fence. The fruit smelled strong and sweet. Warm and musty in the dappled, mid-afternoon sunshine.

Flora and Fauna: A Pledge of Paradise

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Pink Bee Balm, and a Bumble. I love how you can see the delicate veining and transparency of the bumble’s wings, the yellow fuzziness of the torso ( I have no idea what the proper anatomical term is. Emma – help me out on this one please and thanks!) – and how the wings function as a transparent screen for the edge of the flower blossoms. I’ve never seen pink bee balm before. It was everywhere along one section of the Harbor Walk in Gloucester. All sorts of bees were landing and taking off – creating a lovely background hum as we strolled along.

Floral Fireworks. I think these are some sort of daisy or brown eyed Susan, or maybe some type of coneflower. Flower Salsa! Very spicy! Red and Orange Rocket Flowers – Yeah, that!

I have no idea what the name of these flowers is – but they grow on the side of the road and in fields everywhere around here in July and August. They’re the prettiest shade of periwinkle blue.

Another view of the spicy firework flowers. I applied a “soft and faded” photoshop action – and also managed to catch a couple of honeybees hard at work. In this photo particularly the blossoms are shaking their petal skirts in a gentle breeze – swaying to a rhythm only they can feel.

Just some of the vibrant beauty to be found – right in front of me. If you have a favorite of these, please comment and let me know. Thanks.

“If a man could pass through Paradise in a dream, and have a flower presented to him as a pledge that his soul had really been there, and if he found that flower in his hand when he awake – Aye, what then? ” ~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge

English: Reproduced signature of poet Samuel T...

. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Update: The Great Floral Identification Adventure: the bee balm is in fact bee balm; the red and orange rocket flowers – they also remind me of badminton shuttlecocks-are echinacea; the blue flowers are chicory. Thanks everyone!! 🙂

Unlikely Places

Sometimes Beauty can be found in the most unlikely places, if one remembers to look closely enough. I took these in a parking lot in the middle of Springfield MA this afternoon. The area had been devastated by the tornado last June. And yet….there is this surprising beauty amid the urban decay.

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