From Newberg, Oregon to Paso Robles, California

I never expected to see some of the places I’ve seen these last couple of days. Has it only been a couple of days? The vistas along Highway 101 truly inspire. The rugged coast of Oregon gave way to the giant trees of Northern California. Our breath was suspended around nearly every turn. The batteries in my camera kept running out. Wish I was a better photographer!

Then we met Highway 1 and it almost stopped us in our tracks. If you ever choose to go that way, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful vistas and quaint little seaside towns, but be warned: take Dramamine or load up on ginger PRIOR to your trip. And bathrooms are few and far between.

Back on the 101, we stopped for the night in Healdsburg, California, in a lovely hotel that resembled a Tuscan villa. The next morning, after a pitstop at a French bakery, we headed to San Francisco, across the Golden Gate bridge to the marina. Once again, awe-inspiring views awaited. A regatta was underway in the bay. Yes, the America’s Cup! The sailboats were vividly colored and beautiful. Foreign voices sounded in the crowds around us, which is probably not all that unusual for San Francisco. Driving through the city will not soon be forgotten and not just because of the crazy traffic. All the places I’ve only seen on film danced before my eyes. I would love to return here and spend several days exploring.

After leaving San Francisco, we passed through San Jose and headed back to Highway 1 and Monterey Bay, which led us to Carmel-by-the-Sea. One of the loveliest places on earth. Very dog-friendly as well. A little shopping, a little walking on the beach, and we headed to wine country.

We passed through America’s salad bowl, Salinas, California, an expansive valley surrounded by mountains. It was interesting to see how these farmers grow in raised rows with ample irrigation. I noticed cole crops, artichokes, garlic, onions, and abundant lettuces being harvested by migrant workers.

The flat valley crops graduated to grapevines in the hills as we drew near our day’s destination: Paso Robles. Here, we spent a very comfortable night snug in the hillside vineyards.

Day seven of our journey awaits as we head out this morning for Bakersfield, California, then on to Flagstaff. Thanks so much for stopping by. May your day be richly blessed!

Louisville to Seattle to Newberg, Oregon

Three thirty in the morning is early. But I had a six a.m. flight. It’s not so busy at Louisville International Airport at four thirty in the morning. My journey would begin on a United Airlines Embraer Jet. Yeah, the dinky one. Chicago, here I come!

Got lost in O’Hare, looking for Alaska Airlines. Made the flight, with only minutes to spare. At least I didn’t have to sit around and wait.

Very smooth flight on an Alaska Airlines 737. Window seat! When I see the snowcapped mountains far below us, I know we’re close. We begin our descent to Seattle. Arrived in Seattle at ten thirty Pacific Time.  When I changed airlines in Chicago, apparently my luggage did not. No luggage.

Seattle is beautiful. Blue skies and pleasantly cool at 68 degrees. I need my suitcase! Alyssa meets me at the airport and we lunch at WildFin while meanwhile back in Louisville, my son wrangles with the airlines via telephone. He’s good at that. Alyssa and I have a full day planned that includes a pedicure and dinner with my Seattle cousins.

Leaving my cousins’ home in Eastwood, our view of Mt. Rainier is glorious and so is the extraordinarily large moon! Love Seattle when it’s like this. We pick up Gusto the wonder dog and proceed to our pet-friendly hotel room.

Good news! My suitcase has arrived in Seattle via United Airlines. I don’t want to wait for them to deliver, so we swing by the airport and pick it up. Happy, happy, happy! After being awake for nearly twenty-four hours, I’m finally going to sleep.

Day Two: Snoqualmie Falls Our last day in Seattle is bittersweet. After a wonderful breakfast with Alyssa’s mom, Lynn, and

nephew, Jayden, we take off for Snoqualmie Falls. From there, we return to downtown Seattle and on to Golden Gardens Park. I don’t think I’ve ever sat on a beach and looked at mountains. I like it.

After dinner, we say goodbye to Alyssa’s family and leave Seattle. Arrive in Newberg, Oregon at two a.m., well past my bedtime!

Hope you enjoy the pictures. We’ll be sightseeing in the Newberg & Portland area of Oregon over the next couple of days. The adventure continues!

From the Bluegrass to the Pacific (There and Back Again)

Today, I’m flying to Seattle for a short visit with friends and family. I was born in Seattle and some of my mother’s family still live there. My son married a Seattle girl and that was a double blessing, because I’ve had an excuse to return to the region and visit one of the most beautiful areas in the continental U.S.

My son and his wife are relocating to Kentucky, thus the reason for this trip. I get to make the journey, too. We plan to take full advantage of this opportunity to see places we’ve never seen. And we’ll be looking for dog-friendly places, since Gusto will be with us. As you can see, he’s happy to be included.

After we leave Seattle, we’ll head to Oregon, where we’ll stay a couple of days then head down the Pacific Coast, hoping to visit some new places we’ve never seen. I plan to post pictures and thoughts here and on Facebook, documenting this trip so my friends and family can see these places with us. Not like being there, I know. But hopefully it won’t be as bad as sitting through a long slide show of vacay pics with the neighbors. After all, if it’s boring, you can leave. I’ll try not to be boring and in any case, it’ll be short. Usually.

So thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll drop back in during this series of blogposts. You can follow this blog or friend me on Facebook or like my Facebook author page to keep up with what I hope will be an interesting trip. In any case, I’d love to hear from you regarding your favorite Western or Midwestern stops, especially if you know of any dog-friendly places along the way.

Chalk Messages from God?

Most of us who believe in God believe He still speaks. Many times, He speaks through others around us. Especially when we need encouragement.

A friend of mine is going through a very painful divorce. She’s improving daily, but still has emotional ups and downs. The other morning she was walking in the park, which she often does. But on this day, she decided to take a different path.

She was walking along, struggling with her emotions when she caught sight of this:

You are perfect (so love yourself).

 Ok, writing on pavement. A message for someone in particular. But in her heart, my friend knew this message was for her. She walked a bit further and found another:

You are strong.

Once again, exactly what she needed. She walked on, praising God and feeling physically stronger. She could do this. She could overcome.

Shine bright like a diamond

Her day was getting better and better. If I know my friend, by now she was bouncing along and throwing her fists into the air, a big smile on her face.

Never give up.

Never give up. No matter what life throws at you, never give up. This has practically been my mantra the past few months and to see it written here for someone is proof I’m on the right track. My friend felt the same. She couldn’t wait to share it with her friends. Her heart overflowed with love and gratitude. Her difficult road just got easier because she knew God cared enough about her to include her in this message.

Yes, it was written for someone specific. A biker, perhaps. Someone pushing beyond their limits to improve his or her life. But these simple messages were in a public place where they’d be seen by many. It’s a message that’s meant to be shared. How many others received it?

I hope you receive the message. God does care. He sees what you’re going through and He wants you to make it. He wants you to overcome. He wants you strong so you can reach back and help others.

Thanks for stopping by!

An Unexpected Detour

Yesterday, while my son and I were out driving, we passed a road neither of us knew. We weren’t in a hurry, so he decided to turn and find out what was down that road. My dad used to do that. We’d be out driving somewhere and he’d say, “Wonder where that road goes?”

We’d sit up on our knees and peer out the windows, waiting for the first glimpse of the unknown. Yesterday’s road was narrow, sometimes only one lane. It dipped down into a valley and followed the winding path of a creek. Houses sat on large, verdant lots, banked by rolling and sometimes rocky hills. Often the dark woods shaded the road so heavily, we could barely see.

Around one turn in the road, we happened upon a doe, standing on the edge of the road. My son thought she might be scouting for danger before she allowed her fawn to follow. She hesitated when she saw our car, then turned back to run into the woods, before we’d had a chance to snap a picture.

Kentucky boasts many beautiful spots and we found several yesterday. We had no idea where we’d end up, but when the road ended and we recognized the area, we were surprised at how far we’d gone. Life can be like that. You take an unexpected detour, sometimes fighting fear and uncertainty, but the road always leads back to the familiar. Or else, you grow accustomed to the new road.

We’re on a new road here at my house. At times, it’s hard to see what lies ahead, but we get up every morning and push on. We know the roads all lead to the same place. Our trust is in the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, and He will never let us down. His word promises that.

Thanks for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again sometime.