Home Again Indeed Road Trip Days 13 and 14

 Iowa City, Iowa to Canton, Ohio

Nebraska goes on forever, and then we arrived again, two weeks later, at the Graduate Hotel in Iowa City. There was one subtle change in our room. You can compare the previous shot here with this one. An ear has been added and a quote:

We put on our athletic shoes and walked out onto the mall, but it was Sunday, and a lot, including the bookstore was closed. The restaurant we ate at was open, but so was the one next door, Bastawith a happy crowd of pizza eaters on the sidewalk. We went in, and the place was really really really busy, but the manager was great, sent us to the bar to order our pizza to go, and the uber-busy bartender served us two drinks while we waited. Put this place on your list!

We had pizza and salad back in the room, went to bed early, and drove all the next day, when we ran into two driving near-disasters. The first involved a sudden right lane closing on I-80 in Ohio. We were in the middle lane, and the driver on the right moved right onto us while a driver in the left lane was moving 90 miles an hour. In an instant, he moved onto the berm just enough for Paul to ease over half a lane, and we all made it through but it was very scarey, and ODAG needs to get earlier warning and people in a closing lane need to not wait till the last second and drivers should not be driving 20 miles over the speed limit.

The second involved our car stalling out about 9 times on the way home. Paul babied it and shifted and restarted, and we were able to get a green light at the corner of 12th Street and Perry and just sort of each on down that last mile to our driveway. 

Home again, Jiggedy Jig. Our 12 tomato plants survived our absence. The peonies bloomed without me, but I had saved four buds in the refrigerator and set them to bloom for our homecoming. 

Great to be home!

Home Again Indeed, Road Trip Day 12 and 13

 Rock Springs and Rawlins WY to Sydney, NE

Days 11, 12, and 13 were primarily driving days that can be depicted as mountains to  the Salt Lake Desert, then mountains, then the plains of Nebraska, on and on for hours and hours. Paul drove. I finished listening to Cather's One of Ours.

We did nothing in Cold Springs except sleep, get up and head out to get to Rawlins in order to get the Wyoming Pioneer Prison tour. A whole staff of young people showed up, jazzed from having joined several crews in cleaning up downtown Rawlins that morning.

Our tour guide, Lauren, recited a prison's story  typical of others at Alcatraz, Eastern Penitentiary, and the Wyoming Territorial Prison: tales of the good and the bad: of the baseball team that was tops till their star player was executed for murder. (His name was Seng, and his crime sounds very contemporary: he murdered his boss to revenge him for his firing.) We learned of executions and escapes, lockdowns and lockups. So much remains the same, terms like "fish" and weapons called "shanks" made of pens, toothbrushes, and worse. 
The usual extracurriculars of crafts and art (lots of murals), writing, schooling, and music, lots of bands.

We got the story of Annie Bruce, the "woman" (age 14) who went to prison for murdering her father with a poisoned pie. Relatives believe her mother was the real culprit. She eventually got her sprung, and she went on to be married, have kids and live to 86.

I bought a book by one of the inmates titled The Sweet Smell of Sagebrush which has some lovely phrases but otherwise is unreadable. . I should have bought the Annie Bruce t-shirt.


Sandra Dent
Told the best coffee was at Mukwana, downtown, we drove downtown and parked and looked and found no coffee. But 
we found two city officials 
Sheep Wagon
finishing up the Rawlins clean-up day. Like many places along our route, towns were trying to come alive after a year of, uh, pandemic lockdown, and the clean-up marked Rawlins's start: clean up and open up. Marketing and Project Co-ordinator of Rawlins, Sandra Dent, took us to her office and gave us brochures and a lesson in the famous Rawlins Red Rock, which for decades provided a base for red paint, including the original paint on the Brooklyn Bridge. She told us about the Sheep Wagons, purportedly invented in Rawlins, and these days, it looks like they are providing small homes for Nomadland retirees. She also told us about an app called "There's a Story Here" that provides podcasts for self-tours of many cities, including Rawlins. They have a big block party coming up July 9th & 10th. Looks like a hoot!

But we still hadn't found coffee, and Sandra gave us directions to Mukwana, 

where Taya and Sarah sold us coffee, and talked us into the very light scrumptious donuts they had just made. 
Taya Morrell and Sarah

Two women sat at a table and chatted with us about Canton (one had a sister who had lived there) and gave us advice for our route the next day. I stood there, maskless, marveling at a conversation with strangers. 

We got directions to the grocery store, got lost, asked directions from a friendly young woman tending her yard, her kids and her dog, and found The Market, where we gassed up the car and stocked up our provisions for the last days of driving after we'd stay the night in Sydney, Nebraska. We did absolutely nothing in Sydney but sleep. Nice.


Home Again Indeed: Road Trip Day 11

Tioga Road to Tonopah 

This was an amazing day, driving Tioga Road out, making stops that Susan had suggested to catch the view from Olmsted Point, picnic at Tenaya Lake, and walk through the Giant Sequoias in the Tuolumne Grove. And THEN, to go on to the carnival that is Tonopah, Nevada. 

A lot of people stumble into Yosemite for a day or a few days, and this is a tough time to be doing it as a lot of places are shut down and there are no shuttle buses. (Still functioning and regularly clean, clean, cleaned were the restrooms.) So Paul and I passed along many of Susan's lessons and, as we were leaving, our maps and brochures which weren't much available either. 


Then a three hour drive -- have I mentioned the heat all week? Often in the 90's, and certainly that hot on this day as we headed to Nevada.

TONOPAH, Queen of Mining Towns

Paul knew the town from the Little Feet song:

And I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonopah 

but a lotta people have sung about the town. Silver was discovered in mines here, and the history of that is pretty grim, with Chinese brought in to mine, race wars following, the wealthy finders leaving the town for Reno, with all their wealth. But the town is trying to put on a new modern tourist face and promote

which we only got around to half of. I really regret not getting out to the Star Watch held at the edge of town, as I was really tired. But we did 
walk the downtown, stopped in the Clown Motel, which definitely made me think of how Peter Farranto would love this town. We

had dinner at the Tonopah Brewing Company, which wasn't brewing much but my smoked turkey salad and Paul's basket of fried stuff were both huge and fed us for two more days, pulled from the cooler.

Then, wildest of all, we stayed at the MIZPAH HOTEL. built in 1907 and recently restored to former glory by the Cline family of Cline vineyards. In addition, it has been voted Most Haunted by USA Today readers in a town that prides itself on many haunted sites. The hotel is haunted by "The Woman in Red," whom we never saw, but we checked out the bar and the back room, a sort of hotel museum, and the restaurant where next morning for breakfast, Paul had Boston Creme Pie.

Home Again Indeed: Road Trip Days 8, 9, 10


We followed Susan out of Aptos on the five hour trip east to Yosemite, stopping for gas, a picnic lunch, and "bio breaks," though one restroom was locked, so Susan and I, uh, broke out in the brush. Her unhappy cats, in carriers in the backseat, with temperatures climbing toward 90, got aired out best we could.

We arrived at the office of The Redwoods of Yosemite. Susan claimed the cabin she has stayed in 14 times previously, while Paul and I claimed one down the road. 

Our Cabin, "Arnett's"

I would love to give you a tour of each of our days in the park, but as I am realizing, it all washed over me: Yosemite Falls, Bridal Fall, Glacier Point. I remain agog at what we saw but unable to repeat the many lessons and specifics that Susan pointed out. People started seeking her out, saying, "Wow, you know more than the rangers." And in some cases and places, she does. Paul absorbed all the specifics and is reporting them in his concise descriptions on Facebook.

Meanwhile, below are photos of our visit to Yosemite, May 31-2nd. (I'll pick up on our last day in the  next blog.) 

Before that, I have to note that on June 2nd, I received word that my dear dear friend from Findlay days and beyond, Lu Capra had died a few hours before.  And I will post my memories of her here. 

We took photos of us and falls, all of Yosemite Falls (the three of them). I loved Bridal Fall but don't seem to have a photo.

Susan tries to teach me topography

Susan's vegetarian t-shirt 

We stopped in the historic  Ahwahnee Hotel, looked around 
A lounge in the Ahwahnee

A view of the Ahwahnee Hotell obby from above

and had lunch, greatly reduced in presentation (plastic boxes) but not in the dining room views.
A view out of the Ahwahneed

Susan pointed out the three parts of Yosemite Falls, the three falls, and we took a meadow walk, hoping to see wildflowers, but they were all gone early this year because of the heat and lack of rain. It was hot everywhere every day we were there, the very beginning of June. 

The last night in the cabins, we ate on Susan's deck, finishing up the vegetables and babaganouj and pita and cheese we'd lived on most of the week, except one night when I made mushroom risotto and our Ahwahnee lunch, and we said good-bye, thinking it was for the last time before we meet up this year, probably on the opposite coast.

Our cabin had a notebook for visitors to record their impressions. I left with this: 

We came to accompany a dear friend who has been visiting here for 50 years. So for us, this was not so much about Yosemite as it is, as we age, about previous moments together, from the heights of Glacial Point and El Capitan or the foot of Bridal Fall, dinners and lunches catching up on all the books and movies and experiences of the past year. 

At every stop, we and some of the strangers we meet pause to comment on the year we have been through, shaking hands, even sometimes hugging. It's been a very hard year for the folks, especially for those who live alone and those who lost loved ones without a last hug. So it was the time here that was as precious as the setting. We hold tight to the memory of this time and place.