About Mary Ames Mitchell

Writer, Graphic Designer and recent RVer. Check out my website at www.MaryAmesMitchell.com.

Holiday Closet Sorting

HopkinsChestVideo-prt2-Cover

Hi there. A few months ago, I reorganized my blogs so that this blog, Rambling in Ramsey, is just about my travels in my campervan and other RV-related thoughts, while my other blog, Peach Plum Press (the name of my publishing company), is about my writing projects. Since nearly all of my writing projects have to do with genealogy, I am now posting genealogy-related subjects on Peach Plum Press. For those of you would like to follow along, here is the link to Peach Plum Press.

https://peachplumpress.wordpress.com/

Happy Holidays

Last Leg of the Henry Knox Trail

Hi. I hope everyone had a fun Thanksgiving. Lucky me, I got to be with all three of my grandsons and their families. Meanwhile, I was able to finish this video compilation of my trip in September 2018 through southern Massachusetts following the Henry Knox Trail (West Springfield to Cambridge). I also visited some amazing libraries. I sorta screwed up on my video labeling. This is Part 2 of following the trail but actually, Part 4 of my series on being in New England doing Henry Knox related things.

As I noted in the comments section on YouTube:

For a copy of my sing-along children’s history book about the trail, Henry’s Big Kaboom, go to the Fort Ticonderoga Museum Store at http://www.fortticonderoga.org and click the ‘shop’ tab. You can also order it on Amazon. You can view the animated video (same title – Henry’s Big Kaboom) on YouTube.

To view my video about following the first part of the Henry Knox Trail go to https://youtu.be/aD9fu4BeTzI.

For a written guide (pdf) to following the Henry Knox Trail, check out the Hudson River Valley Foundation website at http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/themes/knoxtrail.html. They updated the guide a year ago.

That’s it for now. Keep on Rambling.

USA Swing Videos – Pasadena to Vermont to Maryland to Pasadena

Brochures for the National Parks I saw on my westward leg of my USA Swing

Traveling westward, I visited 5 National Parks, 3 National Historic Sites, 5 National Monuments, 1 National Recreation Site and 1 National Historical Park as well as county and state parks.

I’ve just posted on to YouTube my video’s of my August to September USA Swing. In the second video, I included a clip about how I found free or inexpensive campsites using an app called AllStays.

Here are the links. The video for the trip eastward takes about 12 minutes and the video for the trip home is 33 minutes. I love it when people leave comments on YouTube and subscribe to my channel.

I feel so lucky to have been able to see our spectacular county this way. Next time I take this trip, I will make it in October and November when it is cooler.

Back to California

 

A map of my 2018 swing around the USA.

Green dots indicate destinations that are part of the National Parks system. Red dots indicate cities I visited for family reasons.

It’s great to be back to the land of In-n-Out Burger, though I haven’t had one yet. From Pasadena to Pasadena, my Swing Around the USA took 38 days and 37 nights. If you count San Rafael to San Rafael, I will have been away from home 48 days and 47 nights. For the purposes of this blog, here are some statistics from the Pasadena to Pasadena loop:

The number of miles driven: 8733
The number of gallons of gas burned: 475
The cost of 475 gallons of gas: $1421
The cheapest gas was in Texas at 2.39/gallon.
The most expensive gas was in Blythe, California at 3.89/gallon
The average amount spent on campgrounds: $16/night
The number of animals I saw as roadkill: 3 beaver, 1 snake, 1 deer, and 6 armadillos —I got the impression that armadillos move slowly — plus countless opossums, raccoons, and squirrels.
I saw only 1 bear. He/she was alive.
The amount spent on propane: $6.95
The number of cans of iced Arizona Green Tea I drank: 15
The average amount spent on food per day: $16

My last set of tours included the ancient American native sites in Arizona. There are a lot of them. I only saw the National Monuments of Wupatki, Walnut Canyon, and Montezuma’s Castle.

American Indians in the Four Corners region

American Indians in the Four Corners region

The Wupatki lived north of today’s Flagstaff, elevation 7000 feet, surrounded by volcanos.

Here is a rendering of what archaeologists think the place looked like 900 years ago.

Their civilization was nearly wiped out when the Sunset Crater volcano erupted. The volcano is its own national monument (i.e. another stamp on my National Parks Passport).

The photo above is of some of the hills still covered in cinders.

Within the city limits of Flagstaff, I arrived at a narrow, deep gorge called Walnut Canyon, where from as far back as a thousand years ago people lived in caves.

My final stop was Montezuma’s Castle.

I remember seeing it when my parents took my two brothers and me on a road trip to Santa Fe in 1964. My family was allowed to walk around the ancient ruins, which have since been closed off to the public because they were being worn away. The park built a model of a cross section showing what the castle might have looked like.

Annie was allowed on the quarter-mile path to see the castle. Fortunately, the path was shaded with sequoia trees. It was 100 degrees out and I had more desert to drive through to get back to Pasadena. When my family drove to Santa Fe back in 1964, we followed Route 66. There are many remains of the old route along today’s Interstate 40. I wanted to spend my last night in Quartzsite, Arizona, which I had heard about. But I couldn’t reach it before dark. Instead, I watched my last desert sunrise from a Rest Stop.

My final drive through the desert the next morning was lovely.

The entomologists at the Smithsonian would envy Ramsey’s bug collection. There are bug splats from 28 states. Now I get the challenge of washing them off.

 

 

 

 

Indian Territory

Back to having fun. Near Santa Fe, New Mexico, I came to Pecos National Historic Site, where stands the foundations of a pueblo and a Spanish church built in 1690. Underneath those structures, and in surrounding excavations, archaeologists have unearthed evidence of people living in this key geographic area for over 9000 years — hence the site’s preservation by the National Parks and why Santa Fe grew up near by.

With my brain packed with the area’s history, I drove on to the charming Santa Fe itself. I’ve been there before, but it’s amazing how different the experience is driving to a place knowing its historical and geographical significance versus arriving by train or plane.

I walked around the plaza looking for a coffee shop (my jewelry box is already stuffed with silver jewelry, so shopping was of no interest) and settled for a cookies and cream ice cream cone. Annie was allowed in the shop. She’s great at meeting people for me. While slurping, I chatted with the couple sitting next to me. They were also from the San Francisco Bay Area.

There was still enough time to head south again to Albuquerque to see the Petroglyph National Monument. The Visitor Center is in the center of the park, but not within walking distance of the petroglyphs. Since it was still too hot to leave Annie in the car, I decided to check into the nearby High Desert RV Park and tour the old Route 66. I would return to the trails when it cooled. Then some dark clouds arrived and suddenly it was pouring rain out.

I realized I loved my dog more than I loved petroglyphs. I will return to see the petroglyphs when I’m dogless.

Next was a second badlands National Park known by the Spanish word El Malpais. The park is basically a huge sea of lava (3.5 million years old) surrounded by sandstone cliffs (150 million years old). I drove down one side then the other, which took about two hours.

Gorgeous.

Then I backtracked ten miles to see the Indian Pueblo called Sky City. As its name implies, it sits on top of a bluff. The drive up to the pueblo was worth the trip, but the museum was worthless. To see the actual pueblo, I needed to pay a large fee and leave Annie in a strange kennel for a couple hours. I contented myself with viewing the pueblo via a YouTube video.

Thank goodness the site is being preserved for history sake. The Sky City Casino helps pay the renovation bills. What counts is what was.

Heading back west again, and only 30 minutes down the road from the east side of El Malpais, and across the Continental Divide,

I reached El Morro National Monument. I loved this place. The rock “headland” creates a gate on the south side of the centuries-old east-west trail.

It also serves as a landmark for a water pool that collects at the base of the cliff.

The pool has been the drinking fountain for travelers since forever. It is 150 miles from any other water source. Indians left petroglyphs on the wall of the cliff by the pool. The Spanish explorers signed their names with the message, “passed by here.” So did the pioneers. Dates range from 1607 through the 1800s.

The National Park ranger gave me a guide that explained the history behind each inscription. For example, two pioneer sisters who signed their names continued on through the Mohave, survived a bloody Indian raid, and ended up settling in Fresno, California. One of the Spanish explorers, General Don Diego de Vargas “was here” in 1692.

You’ve got to see this place for yourself.

Moving on, I ate lunch in the Zuni Village. Roasted corn. Yum.

Crossing into Arizona, I spent the afternoon driving the 28 miles north to south through Petrified National Forest.

First the Painted Desert.

Then the petrified logs. My photos don’t do justice to any of this. The colors and the expansive vistas must be experienced in person.

I’m going to visit more ancient pueblos tomorrow. I’ve been on the road for 40 days. I’m ready to head home.

Scorpions, Spikes, Black Flies, and a Dead Phone

Scorpions from National Parks Exhibit. The one in Annie’s bowl was a medium sized one.

The Texas Panhandle gets my Least Favorite Part of the Trip Award. I woke up overlooking Greenbelt Lake. That bit was lovely. Then I realized my phone was dead. No amount of plugging it in to various sockets and using different cords helped. Not a glint of life. There went my GPS, my phone, my Google, my camp-site-finding app (AllStays), and the photos for the previous three days (now posted, so you know this story had a happy ending).

I packed up and drove the 300 feet to the little Marina. The man running the general store/marina/license office/bait shop welcomed me with his friendly Texas drawl. After a brief conversation about the raccoon I scared from under my van when Annie and I opened the door to get out first thing that morning, I asked if he had Internet access. (Since my phone wasn’t working then, I can’t show you what he or the low-tech shop looked like.) The closest thing he had was a Yellow Pages book for Amarillo (closest city) from 2006. I was not surprised there were no listings for Apple or T-Mobile.

Good news, as I reached the outskirts of Amarillo, I found a visitor center that had enough Internet access to let me send emails to my kids not to worry that I was out of touch. But not enough access to allow me to use a search engine to find an Apple Store. The lady at the Tourist Desk found the T-Mobile office in Amarillo. Thankfully, the young woman at T-Mobile was able to jump-start my phone because the nearest Apple Store, my son informed me, was in Albuquerque.

Re-armed with my iPhone’s most valuable tools, I drove to the next National Monument on my map, Alibates Flint Quarry NM , which is right by a National Recreation Area, Lake Meredith (where, theoretically, I could have camped).

All my photos of these parks are on my Fuji camera because my iPhone was still charging. I’m glad the National Parks are preserving this quarry where the American natives have been mining a unique and high quality flint for arrows, scrapers, knives, and drills for 9,000-plus years. And they offer a short trail. But go there without a dog or children and when it isn’t 98 degrees out.

Sprinkled along the path are these horrible Sputnik-like stickers. Annie yelped in pain when a giant one (four times the size of this one from another park) punctured her paw and caused a lot of bleeding. I got one in my hand trying to get the dozens off her. The spikes are hard to pull out. Soon we were both bleeding and I hobbled back to the van and high-tailed it out of there.

We skipped looking at the lake.

I made it as far west as Santa Rosa, New Mexico, where I found a nice State Park overlooking Santa Rosa Lake, which is actually a reservoir.

It was a beautiful place, but the black flies and ants prevented us from sitting outside. There were rattle snake warnings everywhere. We ran into none of those, but somehow a scorpion found its way into my van. It drowned itself in Annie’s water bowl, which is where I found it. I didn’t think to take a photo before throwing the water and scorpion out the door of the van. Needless to say, I kept a sharp lookout when I walked anywhere from then on.

Good news is that the campground provided electricity needed for the air conditioner since it was still horribly hot. Bad news is that the shower was cold.

We are heading toward Pecos National Park near Sante Fe hoping the higher elevation will provide cooler air and fewer creepy animals.

Rambling Westward

When I last wrote, I was camped by the J. Percy Priest Lake in Tennessee. Not long after posting, the sky turned orange and I was able to capture this magnificent sunset on the lake. Some of you have already saw it on Facebook.

The following day I drove to Memphis to stay with my good friends Shelly and Kevin.

Besides letting me do my laundry and enjoy their very nice shower, they gave me a tour of Memphis and took me to their favorite barbecue place. Who woulda thunk that barbecue spaghetti is absolutely delicious. (I forgot to take my camera with me, but I grabbed these shots on my way out of town the next day.) I was able to see the tail end of one of the famous ducks at the Peabody Hotel as he was getting onto the elevator.

We walked around the Bass Pro Shop so I could see the four live alligators.

We also saw the studio where Elvis made his first million-copies record.

Heading to Little Rock, Arkansas, to visit Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, I took the M bridge over the mighty Mississippi.

(“Mississippi” is as much fun to type out with my thumbs as it is to spell out loud.)

Little Rock is as much about celebrating the 42nd President (streets, parks and government centers are all named after Clinton) as it is about honoring the civil rights movement and desegregation. The exhibit transported me to my senior year at Pasadena High School.

Continuing through central Arkansas, I reached Hot Springs National Park early enough to obtain a campsite in their campground.

Once I had the ticket attached to the post, I was free to drive away and into the town of Hot Springs ten minutes away. The whole tourist street is one block long. I could walk up the “Row” with Annie in tow.

Neither of us were able to enjoy the baths, but strolling up the Magnolia tree-lined street was delightful.

The old bath houses that have been preserved as the National Park line the east side of the street. Commercial store fronts and restaurants line the west side.

This is the fountain where people can still fill up their water jugs with mineral water.

There is also a drive to the top of a hill.

Crossing into Oklahoma, I made it to Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Plenty of camping spots were available near its Lake of the Arbuckles for the night.

It was actually better to be slightly away from the children screaming in the lake, but close enough for Annie and me to take a nice walk the next morning.

It took only a couple hours to drive through the park. The main point of interest is the Bromide Pavilion. (Forgot to take a photo using my iPhone.) Once upon a time, in the early 1900s, trains brought health seekers to enjoy these mineral-rich waters. According to the ranger, the park had more visitors during those days than Yellowstone.

There was also a great nature center.

While in the town of Sulphur, where the park is, I was able to find a mechanic to check Ramsey’s fluids before facing the deserty stretch ahead of me through New Mexico and Arizona. SHE found everything in order and told me where to fill up on propane, which I also needed to do.

Thank goodness, because the tiny towns I have been driving through today would not have had what I needed. I’ve crossed onto Texas, where I plan to visit the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument near Amarillo.

Needing a place to stay on the way, I used my trusty app, AllStays, to find the only camping place around, Lake GreenBelt. It is another reservoir. It took me several dead end roads to find the Marina, where for $5, I purchased a license to park Ramsey “anywhere I liked.” So here I am perched atop a little mound overlooking the lake. I’ve had my cheese and tomato quesadilla and an ice cream that I also purchased at the marina store. I can’t post this blog entry until tomorrow because I only have one bar of cell service, which won’t download my photos.

Back to rambling.