Cadillac Ranch and Other Roadside Attractions

July 16, 2014 at 3:35 pm (Art, Freedom, Letting go, Travel) (, , , , )

As I roll across the Southwest with the cruise control on I see incredible vistas and postcard colors all unfurl before me like a movie about my life I am starring in.

My first day driving alone finds me heading east on the 40 towards Amarillo Texas across the New Mexico sands. Beautiful reds, pinks and oranges abound in the deserts and cliffs under the hot sun.

Passing signs for Indian fry bread, moccasins and other assorted native American offerings I see a cliff with an assortment of tepees spread over the edge looking down on the gift shops below…Tepees I think? They were on the plains, shouldn’t there be a wigwam or a pueblo like the ones some families still lived in when I crossed this desert as a child?  Maybe some still do but certainly not a tepee in this climate.

I speed on down the road and finally cross into Texas with a feeling of accomplishment. I am now further away from California and closer to Pennsylvania my destination on this journey. This sense of freedom, of being alone with my own thoughts is very intoxicating.

20140520_165525Entrance onto the “ranch”.

Meanwhile at the Cadillac Ranch…20140520_165534This art installation was commissioned by an oil heir and produced by the art group Ant Farm in the 1970’s. It has stood the test of time as people flock to see and unusual sculpture and write their own message or paint their colors on the many layers. When I was there most of the tourists were French and enjoyed getting their pictures taken with the oddity.20140520_170238My message. After this I head to my host’s home for some country music as his band rehearses in the living room before a supper of grass grown local beef and spaghetti.Cal Worthington has some Caddies It really is quite beautiful to behold and sparks some interesting conversations.

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The Southwest and Traveling Companions

July 5, 2014 at 5:04 pm (Freedom, Letting go, Life skills or hacks, Relationships, Travel) (, , , , , , )

As the time to head out on my epic journey through mountains and deserts looms I am still scrambling to complete my Couchsurfing stays. I had a last minute reschedule in Albuquerque and Lexington so I am flexible in the fact that I may be visiting a La Quinta Inn at some point or other.

I get a notice with an invite to stay in Albuquerque and breathe a sigh of relief. Early next morning I meet my rideshare companion at the Chevron station in my neighborhood for the trip to Phoenix. I offered a ride to Phoenix since I knew exactly when I was leaving and the whole car is going so at least I can assuage my fossil fuel guilt by bringing someone along. He is a nice young man who was visiting family here due to a death and needed a ride back to a Phoenix ‘burb nearby my cousin.

20140518_125758 I drop him at his home and head over to my cousin’s for some lunch before he heads off to work.

20140518_121133This is his glorious keychain collection…well a part of it anyhow.  Next morning after a lovely visit with more cousins I head of to Albuquerque and man is it warming up! I head over to another Couchsurfer’s house to pick him up for a rideshare to Albuquerque to pick up a car. He had offered me a place to stay and we even met for coffee the day before but I was staying at my cousin’s. He mentioned going to Albuqueque sharing a ride with a 90 year old man the next day so I offered to give him a lift. Sharing took a six hour drive and made it feel like three! We shared snacks and funny stories and I promised to visit on my return route. Again, half my gas paid and a delightful companion.

20140519_132636Welcome to New Mexico!

Next episode I start driving alone on to Texas the lone star state.

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Couchsurfing, the New American Dream

July 4, 2014 at 8:41 pm (Freedom, Letting go, Life skills or hacks, Relationships, Travel) (, , , )

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When I was in the planning stages of my trip east to check on the vacant (not) lot I was faced with many decisions. Do I fly and rent a car? Do I get an extended stay hotel? Do I get in my neighbor’s hot tub time machine and never bid on the property. Scratch the flying…about the hot tub? No no that’s ridiculous no one uses a hot tub in summer!

I run the numbers and decide that I would rather drive and enjoy all the hours with myself on the open highways and byways of America aka ‘Murika. Land of my people. Now hotels and motels are pricey and we’ve all had the Facebook friend post Oprah’s warnings on bed bugs and worse at even the finest establishment. This leaves one obvious option…couchsurfing.

I have been a member since 2008 and only started hosting mid 2013 and I loved the interesting people it brought right into our sitting room. I have never actually couchsurfed up to this time.

I start planning my trip and itinerary based on miles per day. I want to get across within a week but not become big rig wrangler. Capiche? So I decide 5 to 6 hours a day of driving is the range I’m looking at and choose cities I want to visit.

First stop out of California. Phoenix. I glom onto my thoughtful, fun, generous, and did I mention fun cousin Doug. Hey Doug I’m coming your way for the first night! He quickly reminds me the epic saga of Trail of Two Brothers is about to commence in Cleveland so I have only a very small window of days. Okay okay I can do this I tell myself. This is the same self who told me to buy the vacant lot.

On the Couchsurfing.org website I begin to plot out my trip by searching for hosts with an available couch, have high response rates, positive ratings and sound like my definition of cool people I’d want to hang with before retiring after my long day. I’m also hoping they have hot water for showers! Great profiles and interesting people on here I think as I scroll through the myriad choices in big cities,  and much smaller group of hosts to choose from in places like Albuquerque and Lexington. I begin by writing why I will be in that town and then another essay on why I want to stay with a particular host. I send off several for each town with a flexible date range. and wait for the responses to come in…

Next up… (cue music here) Heading out on the open road.

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