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)
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Selena’s Peonies

These were Selena Jacques Lahue (my Great- Grandmother)’s peonies.  My Grandpa dug them up and brought them to his front garden when she passed away, and my mother brought them to her backyard when Grandpa left us. Peonies also happen to be my sister Susan’s  favorite flower.  I went over to my Mom’s this morning and together we managed to get these photographs. Mom held up the blooms with a stick since they are so darn top- heavy.  It was great to share this time with her, and listen to a couple of the family stories while I snapped away.  I’m normally not a fan of white flowers per se, but these have a spattering of red to boost the visual interest; kind of like an artist lined the center whorls with crimson.  Nature, gotta love her  -even when she’s off her HRT. 😉IMG_8551 watermarked IMG_8566 watermarked IMG_8570 watermarked IMG_8558 watermarkedI hope you enjoy these!  Thanks for stopping by.

 

…And Whiskers on Kittens….

IMG_8391 watermarkedIMG_8383 watermarkedIMG_8403 watermarkedThese are a few of my Favorite Things….

I got absolutely drenched getting these shots, but what FUN!  I hope you all like the photographs as much as I liked the process of taking them.

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!

Afternoon Meanderings

IMG_7940 copy2 watermarkedEarly Spring Water Meadow along Rte 23  Blandford, MA

IMG_7953 copywatermarkedView from the Blandford Country Club. North Street Blandford MA  Looking down into Springfield….

IMG_7983 watermarkedSpring Stream. Algerie Road, North Blandford MA

IMG_8093watermarked IMG_8098 copywatermarkedStone Walls along the Roadway near Long Pond Conservation Area.  Algerie Road North Blandford MA

IMG_8028 watermarkedIMG_8040 watermarkedCanadian Goose in its element, and Remnants of a Beaver Dam, Long Pond Conservation Area.  Algerie Road North Blandford, MA

And last but by no means least, my traveling companion and chauffeur for the afternoon – The Viking – patiently waiting pondside while I trekked in and got pictures. And no, I didn’t fall in, or get muddy!

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It was really wonderful to meander those back roads today. I grew up there and nostalgia waxed large as I noted how much had changed – and how much had stayed the same.  The afternoon light is becoming more and more spring-like even though there’s still plenty of snow on the ground up in the hills.  The sounds of water cascading over the rocky stream beds, the wind rushing through the pines and dry reed beds, the honking chatter of the geese and ducks – all made for a peaceful backdrop to my self-imposed photo assignment.  Hell, I’ll call it what it was -THERAPY.    I came home with numb fingers and ears, but quite contented. Best of all, I got to spend the afternoon with my guy!

 

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

Autumn Ascendant

Crystal waters breathe icy smoke towards a blue morning sky.

The sun kisses a colorful October quilt.

Autumn ascendant.

Just what is it I love so much about the Fall? “What’s not to love”? is my only response. Autumn has always been my favorite season. If it could be October all year long with a week “off” for Christmas I would be so happy. I can breathe again, once a good frost hits. The air is pure, fresh and sparkling- not steely grey and soupy.

There are crystal shards of frost on the grass that glint like diamonds in the morning sunshine; and squeak under your boot-heels before they melt away. The dry, musty – but awesome – scent of the leaves on the ground and the rustling crackle as you shuffle through them on the sidewalks. The louder crunching if you indulge your inner child and jump into that leafpile That sour zing of that first bite of a Granny Smith or Cortland apple, fresh picked. The sweet and sassy taste of fresh pressed apple cider. The amazing blueness of the October New England sky – a color to be found nowhere else on earth at any time of the year. And the foliage…. Nature’s wrapping up in her patchwork quilt as she gets ready for the dark cold.
Autumn brings out a sense of nostalgia in me – of days gone past – of home, safety, comfort, and love. Take a stroll down golden, seldom traveled back-roads. To see what we can see, and spend some hard-won time together. I remember those who have passed on – friends, parents, grandparents, and hold dear my friends and family today.

To me, Autumn is about the senses. The sight of golds, reds, oranges, rusts, and browns – scattered across the hilltops like drops from Jack Frost’s paintbrush. The banners of golden late afternoon sunlight against the bruised purple after-storm sky, and how the sugar maples glow in that unearthly light. The sounds of the Canadian geese honking, coming in low and slow to land in the cornfield behind the house. The laughter and murmur of conversation in the kitchen – always the best place in the house to be! The texture of the nubby jackets, and softly prickly wool sweaters we dig out of the cedar chest to wear at the turning of the season.The pleasant burn of heat on my cold face when I walk in from outdoors. The glorious taste of the made-from-scratch hot apple pie topped with Granville cheddar cheese or better still, some vanilla bean ice cream. Apple spice melt-y wonderful creaminess! But mostly, autumn is about scents. To come home in the long twilight to a house full of the scent of a pork roast with applesauce, or chicken and dumplings, or a Yankee Pot Roast dinner. The great seasonal coffee flavors and how the cinnamon or pumpkin scent envelops me as I warm my fingers around the mug. The morning hot cocoa that “warms the cockles” of my heart, and my tummy. The smell of herbs and baking spices, and scented candle wax. Above all, the feeling of peace in the time of plenty.
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Chilly outdoor bonfires. The flames dance, and the pine pitch creates sparks as the smoke rises. The smoky scent permeates my clothes and hair. Marshmallows are toasted, hot dogs roasted. Wine is imbibed. Conversation is lively. Friendly faces are illuminated and framed by the light. Its hypnotic…. Life is good!


Autumn Leaves

original lyrics by Johnny Mercer, performed by Nat King Cole
The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold
I see your face, the summer kisses
the sun-burned hands I used to hold
Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song
But I miss you most my dearest dad
When autumn leaves start to fall

1968

Joseph Albert Hoyt November 8, 1927 – June 7, 2007