ORI remember the day Kay and I stood in the cold mist on the rim of fog-shrouded Crater Lake disappointed that there would be no view of bright blue waters, at least on that day.  We had torn through the woods at high speeds to try in vain to see it, unsuspecting, since, in the lower elevations, all was bright and clear as we glided through one evergreen forest after another.    We did have our day, though, returning another year for that breathtaking view of vivid, royal blue waters, the deepest of all American lakes, Wizard Island placed right in the middle.

  

with Wizard Island showing (above) and with Gary posing (below)

Crater Lake at its best: with Wizard Island showing (above) and with Gary posing (below)

  Gary at Crater Lake

 

One of the times we made our approach to Crater Lake, we’d come from California and passed through logging centers of Grants Pass and Medford, while another time we had come down from Idaho through central Oregon foothills towns of Redmond and Bend.

 

It was a gorgeous weekend for travel as we took that slow drive up along the Oregon coast on 101, eyeing seagulls and huge whitecap waves roaring up against driftwood-strewn beaches.  On a little cove in the shoreline is nestled Coos Bay where we spent the night in the cool coastal mist.  Farther up we drove through Tillamook and the little resort village of Seaside, before hitting the last Oregon town of Astoria, on the 5-mile-wide mouth of the Columbia River.

Kay drives through Portland, Oregon

Kay drives through Portland, Oregon

If Kay and I were headed to the West Coast coming from back east we took that golden opportunity to start out at where the river bends at Hermiston and follow the massive Columbia River.  That route is actually one of the top scenic drives in the country – through the amazing Columbia River Gorge.  It’s over a hundred miles of can’t-take-your-eyes-off-it scenery, as you watch the soothing blue-green waters of the Columbia winding its way through the canyon walls eventually to the sea.  If we crossed our fingers and were really lucky, we might see this scene before us…but with an additional treat of snow-covered Mt. Hood rising above the river’s horizon.  That route through the gorge takes us through The Dalles, where the Bridge of the Gods crosses the river at the most gorgeous, adorable location I’ve ever known in a bridge crossing.  The road – and the river – weaves through Hood River and Troutdale, and many cascading waterfalls dropping from atop the canyon, including unbelievable Bridal Vail Falls, before it kind of loses your attention in the fast pace of the City of Roses, Portland.

Kay at the Columbia River Gorge, on the Oregon side

Kay at the Columbia River Gorge, on the Oregon side

Kay and I did a lot of different things in Portland, relating to both recreation and work, and more than one kind of work.  Looks like the Willamette River is one of the Columbia’s tributaries, and that confluence happens right in downtown Portland.

 

I remember the night we crossed the Columbia but didn’t go through the gorge; instead, we headed down into Madras (Yeah I know – where’s Madras?) where we found the county fairgrounds and camped out there.

 

A few times we drove the length of the state on the freeway without stopping.  On I-5, that would take us through the southern Oregon logging towns up to Eugene and Salem, before coming into the metropolis.  And on I-84, that would start us out at arid Ontario, on the Idaho line, and through Pendleton and the gorge.

 

Gary at Independence Hall

Gary at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall

 

PAIn the greater Philadelphia area, Kay and I have taken a glorious spring day with trees in bud, flowers in blossom and birds chirping and turned it into a fine Sunday drive that took us to the charming little canalled village of New Hope and around and around the spectacular Pennsylvania countryside to Revolutionary Valley Forge, where we picnicked on the spring-green grass and daydreamed about fighting the British and perhaps, even, fighting that Philadelphia traffic later in the day.                

                                                                    

 

Kay and I have meandered around southern Pennsylvania in Amish country around York, Lancaster and Lebanon, and have walked the fields at the Gettysburg battlefield, where more people lost their lives than anywhere in the Western Hemisphere.

 

 

Gary holds a Hersey’s chocolate bar on the streets of Hershey, Pa

Gary holds a Hersey’s chocolate bar on the streets of Hershey, Pa

A little to the north, Kay and I have made our way a couple of times through Harrisburg and watched the mighty Susquehanna River on its way to creating the Chesapeake Bay, across the Mason-Dixon Line down in Maryland.   And we’ve exchanged sweet kisses at the little confectionery town of Hershey, where even the street lamps are the shape of Hershey’s Kisses.

 

In the coal-mining country of Pennsylvania’s Appalachian Mountains, we’ve stopped to revisit a former 80s home of mine in the sleepy little town of Pottsville, and we’ve climbed into the Poconos after passing through rusty old Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.  We once were custodians of a storage unit in Reading.

 

We’ve gone over to New York City via the steel cities of Allentown and Bethlehem, and on 80 near Stroudsburg and the Delaware Water Gap.

 

In hilly central Pennsylvania, we’ve seen our shadow on a warm spring day at Punxsutawney, weeks after the ground hog had seen his.  We were even in Somerset the day after the alleged hijacked plane supposedly went down on 9/11.

Kay sees her shadow in Punxsutawney, Pa.

Kay sees her shadow in Punxsutawney, Pa.

 

In western Pennsylvania, we’ve navigated the densely wooded area in and around Pittsburgh, where the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers come together to form the Ohio River.  We’ve also worked our way through Erie, up on the lake of the same name, and smaller towns of Mercer and Dubois.

  

PEIPossibly described as one big “garden by the sea”, Prince Edward Island had a Storybook feel to it from the minute Kay and I came across the brand-new Confederation Bridge on the Northumberland Strait and laid eyes on “the fairest land ’tis possible to see”, as one 17th Century explorer described it.

 

Etched out of bright red clay that contrasts nicely with deep blue Atlantic waters, Prince Edward Island is small, amazingly manicured and ever-so-cozy. In our short time there, Kay and I saw mostly fertile, gently rolling farmland that fit comfortably between pristine North Atlantic beaches all around the island.

 

When we first arrived, we pitched camp at cute little Malpeque on the Gulf of St. Lawrence.  From our vantage point, we looked out across green pastures strewn with bright golden rolls of hay beside a red barn with the sparkling blue waters of the sea just below the hill. Oh, what a perfect setting it was.

 

Gary stands where rolling farmland meets the sea in Malpeque, Prince Edward Island.

Gary stands where rolling farmland meets the sea in Malpeque, Prince Edward Island.

At historic Charlottetown we encountered Prince Edward Island’s only city. Having never been in England, I nevertheless felt as if we were as close as we’d ever been to the British Isles while driving the streets of Charlottetown, or even driving through the English countryside, er, make that Prince Edward Island countryside.

 

At Cavendish, our Storybook feeling was confirmed when we visited Green Gables, the idyllic little farmhouse setting for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s world famous novel, Anne of Green Gables.

Kay stands at the enchanting storybook scene of Green Gables in Cavendish on Canada's Prince Edward Island.

Kay of Green Gables: Kay stands at the enchanting storybook scene of Green Gables in Cavendish on Canada's Prince Edward Island.

And at Summerside, we grabbed some fresh seafood from a market so we could savor the little fishing village – and Prince Edward Island on the whole – a little longer over an open grill that evening.

 

PQI won’t forget the first time that Kay and I visited Canada’s largest city, cosmopolitan, bilingual Montréal for the first time together, on a frozen January day, on the banks of an icy St. Lawrence River. I remember well the very first time Kay saw the sprawling lights of the enormous city from way atop Mont Royal – a spectacle I think I can safely say is unparalleled by anything I’ve ever seen. Totally impressive, it is. I do remember returning to Montréal a couple of times in the more tolerable summertime warmth, once alone with Kay, and once with my 12-year-old daughter in tow.

 

After the latter Montreal journey, the three of us trekked northeast to the walled city of Québec. The European-styled city is a history buff’s dream, as it’s the only walled city in North America, built by the French as a fortress to guard against an American invasion. All over the city, 18th century military remnants abound, including a couple of Martello towers that Kay and I thought looked pretty cool set against the backdrop of the broad St. Lawrence. Québec City, as well as the surrounding rural part of the province, is predominately French-speaking, which added to the foreign intrigue of our Québec venture.

Kay poses in downtown Montréal

French romance in the city: Kay poses in downtown Montréal

Another time, when it was back to just Kay and I, we took a day excursion to Québec’s Gaspé Peninsula, jutting out into the Gulf of St. Lawrence. From our starting point in northern New Brunswick, we cut through the interior peninsula, which we discovered to be full of unspoiled natural beauty consisting of pristine mountain forests and clear rushing rivers, and all kinds of mountain wildflowers and other flora all around us.

 

Once we reached the point where the St. Lawrence River widens to an incredible 40 miles across, our route took us completely around the perimeter of the peninsula, where beautiful overlooks of the bay or the sea met us around almost every curve, from Ste.-Anne-des-Monts all the way to the tip at Forillion National Park, where the mighty Appalachian chain finally ends abruptly at the ocean, having run the spine of Eastern North America all the way from northern Alabama. The last half of our Gaspé Peninsula circle tour was memorable, as we rolled down from the coastal mountains into the little seaside town of Gaspé at just about dusk, where the scene of soft glowing harbor lights below ranked as one of the prettiest spectacles Kay and I had seen on the road. This was followed by one of nature’s more fabulous light shows, as we witnessed a dazzling display of lightning in the dark skies over the ocean as we made our way through Perce and Grande-Riviere and on back to our original starting point of Campbellton, New Brunswick.

 

RISince Kay and I worked on multiple projects in nearby Massachusetts, we got to spend some incidental time in the Ocean state.

 

In fact, while staying in one part of Massachusetts and commuting to another, our route took us numerous times, believe it or not, right through the heart of Rhode Island’s largest city of Providence.  And then there was the time we were en route from Maine to southern Massachusetts when our route took us along some of the quaintest winding stretches of country roads – in the fall foliage time of autumn, no less – in northern Rhode Island that we’ve ever seen.

Kay in downtown Newport, R.I.

Kay in downtown Newport, R.I.

There was one premeditated Rhode Island sightseeing trip, however.  That one saw Kay and me come in from Fall River on the Massachusetts line and wind all around picturesque Narraganset Bay, hopping from island to island and passing through Newport on the ocean before seeing even more of the Narragansett before heading up to Providence.

  

SLPKay and I did pass through, and even spent the night, in this Old Mexico town of San Luis Potosi.  Hola and Adios!

 

 

SKKay and I passed through this Canadian province but once, as it lies on the TransCanada Highway as we traveled west from Winnipeg in Manitoba to Edmonton in Alberta.

 

In SaskatchewanWe crossed the frosted wheat field prairies of Saskatchewan in early December, where the cool autumn air had long given way to chilled winter winds. The only thing breaking the monotony of a long straight drive across this cold and lonely landscape was when we made an overland stop on the little crossroads city of Saskatoon.

We encountered a freak May snowstorm in Moose Jaw, rolled by Swift Current in the amber summer evening light and one fall on a campground on our way to Regina, looked up and saw curtains of rainbow-colored lights – red, blue, green, orange, yellow – rippling across the starry sky, for several minutes.  It was our only sighting together of the aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, and boy did it put on a show that night.

 

Gary in cold Saskatchewan road

Gary in cold Saskatchewan road

 

SIGary at Tropic of CancerSinaloa was the focal point of our trip to go a thousand miles deep into Mexico.  Although we visited a smattering of other cities in our only real penetration of this country South of the Border, the Pacific resort town of Mazatlan was our stated main reason for going.  Mazatlan was at once tropical, scenic and reasonably priced.  And sitting right there on the big Pacific Ocean.

 

  

Gary and Kay in Mazatlan, Mexico, on the Pacific

Gary and Kay in Mazatlan, Mexico, on the Pacific

Gary and Kay in Mazatlan

 

 

Sinaloa was where we first saw jungle, ever.  I remember our driving along through the country and coming upon the “town” of Culiacan – only to realize that, holy crap, this city is huge, over a million in population.  And we’d never heard of it previously.  Traffic was insane in that city.

 

SOThe Mexican state of Sonora was our first taste of a deeper penetration beyond border towns in Mexico.  Just past the Arizona border, it continues through the Sonoran Desert, and hot and dusty.

 

The first major hub we made it to was the city of Hermosillo, where we spent our first-ever night in Mexico.

 

We first noticed those roadside taquerias that sold those yummy tacos and quesadillas, in Los Mochis.

 

Kay and I took an out of the way trip a little higher in elevation and to the east off the main highway to Alamos a small foothills town with an enormous plaza and Colonial Spanish architecture.  It was at an open air café there that we had desayuna, de huevos y café con leche y frijoles refritos de maize tortillas.

 

 

Gary, having desayuna (breakfast) of eggs, refried beans, tortillas and coffee.  Alamos, Sonora, Mexico

Gary, having desayuna (breakfast) of eggs, refried beans, tortillas and coffee. Alamos, Sonora, Mexico

 

SCIn the Palmetto state, Kay and I discovered a pretty green, wooded and hilly land form with a lot of southern charm, even though we didn’t make too many pass throughs.

 

The first one, I remember, was pretty nondescript as we rushed from Atlanta to Charlotte and on to Washington, D.C., barely getting a chance to see the towns of Greenville and Spartanburg that we were passing through.

 

The second trip through happened when we stole out of North Carolina in the middle of the night bound for sunny warm Florida, just before Christmas.  We sailed through on Interstate 95, hardly noticing we were passing by Florence or across Lake Marion or the South of the Border attraction at tiny Dillon.

 

The third trip through South Carolina, took us from near Savannah, Ga., on the coast, to near Charlotte, N.C., in the Blue Ridge plateau. That trip saw up pitch a tent on a quiet little lake back in the woods on a warm starry night in April, only to have us awaken to drenching spring rains soaking our tent, our bedding and ourselves. We wasted no time getting our swishing wet bodies in the car and driving onward to Columbia as the early morning drizzle continued well into the day.

Gary at Charleston, S.C.

Gary at Charleston, S.C.

The fourth and most memorable trip took us up from coastal Georgia up to Charleston, where we looked out over Charleston Harbor at Ft. Sumter and contemplated firing the first shots at federal forces, lobbing those big, black cannonballs sent soaring with lit gunpowder.  We had a flat tire rolling through Francis Marion National Forest, but we were in a camping area, for heaven’s sake, so we just pitched the tent and “slept on it” – waited till morning to worry about our deflation problems.  We had our flat fixed in Georgetown and then headed up to Myrtle Beach, that party city that’s probably the premier beach on all the East Coast.

Gary poses on a stretch of sand at Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Gary poses on a stretch of sand at Myrtle Beach, S.C.

 

 Kay in Mazatlan

 

  

 

SDKay and I waited a long time to see what the heck Wall Drug was all about. It started with the billboards in Minnesota, and continued even after we saw the Corn Palace in Mitchell.  The suspense mounted as we stopped off Interstate 90 at Chamberlain to survey the expansive waters of the Missouri River winding its way through the plains of South Dakota.  By the time we got to the nifty sand and rock formations that exemplified Badlands National Park, we were chomping at the bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kay at Badlands National Park in South Dakota

Kay at Badlands National Park in South Dakota

 

  

Then, we nonchalantly toured the little drugstore in the one-horse little town of Wall before we headed for the hills. 

 

 

Kay at Wall Drug in Wall, S.D.

Kay at Wall Drug in Wall, S.D.

Under hyped was the precious Black Hills where South Dakota’s truly fine scenery actually began.  I can remember looking up at the impressive sculpture at Mt. Rushmore just before sundown, then reluctantly driving back to our motel room at Rapid City to get ready for more Black Hills sightseeing the next day. This would include not only miles of great-looking forests, hills, rocks and streams, but an historic pit stop in the Wild West town of Deadwood.  We ate breakfast at the very same hotel/saloon where Wild Bill Hickock was shot playing a hand of poker.  We did some tooling around in the fun-resort town of Keystone, on our way to see our client in nearby Hermosa.  Still in the Black Hills area, we saw those hordes of motorcycles swarming east out of Sturgis, and we worked our way through Spearfish and Belle Fourche en route to Montana and points west.

 

Kay stands beneath monumental Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota's Black Hills.

Kay stands beneath monumental Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota's Black Hills.

 

 

We spent some time working on a project for a few days in Pierre, in the center of the state.  But also on the eastern edge at Sioux Falls, S.D.’s largest city in Minnehaha County, and way down in Yankton.

 TPThis state was our swan song for our only deep Mexico penetration together.  After transversing the arid country coming up from San Luis Potosi, we found ourselves in the greener mountains when we rolled into Victoria. 

 

What goes up must come down, it is said, so our inevitable drop in elevation took us down into the coastal lowlands and into Matamoros, on the border with Texas.

 

iTNI remember the time Kay and I did our little tour of Music City down in Nashville. We walked through the Country Music Hall of Fame and a couple of smaller museums and drove alongside the record shops and recording studios of Music Row.  I even remember Kay and me cutting our own demo in a downtown Nashville studio.  And I’ll always cherish that last time in Nashville together when it was Thanksgiving evening and we went downtown to well-known Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge to hear up-and-coming young country music hopefuls belt out their tunes.

 

Gary does his thing in Nashville, Tenn.

Jammin' in Music City: Gary does his thing in Nashville, Tenn.

 

 

 

I remember seeing the Cumberland Plateau turn into delta lowlands as we got into western Tennessee and closer to the Mississippi River and the crowded city of Memphis, the largest in the Volunteer state.

 

In the other direction the Cumberland Plateau of central Tennessee gives way to the mountainous east, the prettiest area of the state. In our early days on the road, Kay and I rambled into the Smoky Mountains area, which we fell in love with on first sight.  Coming from Knoxville we headed southeast and stopped in the hillbilly haven of Pigeon Forge, where we supped on catfish and hushpuppies at Huck Finn’s restaurant and stayed overnight.  In Gatlinburg, at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we took an aerial tramway to one of the highest summits and looked down on all the gloriful beauty of the Smokies.

 

Gary rocks in front of the Log Cabin restaurant after a hillbilly breakfast (above) while Kay encourages an aerial view over Gatlinburg (below)

Enjoying the Smoky Mountains: Gary rocks in front of the Log Cabin restaurant after a hillbilly breakfast (above) while Kay encourages an aerial view over Gatlinburg (below)

Gary rocks in front of the Log Cabin restaurant after a hillbilly breakfast (above) while Kay encourages an aerial view over Gatlinburg (below)

In Chattanooga, right on the Tennessee River, we viewed all kinds of fish at the Tennessee Aquarium.  In Sweetwater we rode on an underground lake in a pontoon boat at an attraction called “Lost Sea”.  And at Cumberland Gap at the intersections of Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia, we had a chance to take some of the best aerial photographs we’ve ever snapped.

 

But perhaps we’ll most remember Tennessee for the time we were driving through the mountainous east on Interstate 81 when we got caught in the heaviest downpour we’ve ever seen (before and since) that combined with a minor tornado to stop us dead in our tracks.

 

TXThe first time Kay and I came to Texas together, we logged over 800 miles of driving from the time we entered at the Arkansas line in the east to the time we exited at the New Mexico line in the west. Now that’s a big state. So since I figure it might be impossible to color the Lone Star State with one stroke of the brush, I think I’ll have to divide Texas into 5 separate regions for descriptive purposes.  Also note the big postcard.

 

Aside from the time Kay and I have spent time visiting family in the state where I was born and where I grew up, which consisted mostly of briefs stopovers in my hometown of Moran and my daughter Jenny’s usual domicile of Brownwood in the west-central part of Texas, we’ve done our best to see all there was to see in those 5 primary regions of Texas: Central Texas, West Texas, South Texas, East Texas and the Panhandle.

 

In Central Texas, Kay and I are reminded of the time we flew down on a business trip to the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, giving us a chance to see tall, Texas-sized skyscrapers hovering over Texas Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys and Elm Street in downtown Big D where Kennedy’s motorcade passed through in November of ’63.

 

 

Texas Stadium, home of Dallas Cowboys – Gary’s favorite team

Texas Stadium, home of Dallas Cowboys – Gary’s favorite team

 

 

 

South of Dallas, we crossed the Brazos at Waco had the pleasure of driving central Texas highways in the springtime, past miles of roadside wildflowers and fields of bluebonnets all the way through Killeen, where I was born over 47 years ago, and through Temple and all the way down to Austin, where Kay and I once were treated to a big, Texas-sized steak.

 

No doubt the most scenic area of the entire state is the Texas Hill Country west of Austin, where we once custom mapped out our auto trek to make sure we knew we were deep in the heart of Texas, as we drove past longhorns grazing in the pastures and ducked into a small-town cafe in the middle of the day for a piping hot bowl of genuine Lone Star chili.

 

Kay strikes a pretty pose in front of the Alamo in San Antonio

Deep in the Heart of Texas: Kay strikes a pretty pose in front of the Alamo in San Antonio

In South Texas, I surely can’t forget that balmy moonlit night in San Antonio when Kay and I sat one story below the city streets and sipped drinks in the ultimate in Tex-Mex ambience on San Antonio’s charming River walk, then rode around the streets of old San Antone in a horse-drawn carriage and snuggled as we slowly got around to seeing all the sights that included the Alamo and the Hemisfair Tower.

 

I also reminisce about the time we left San Antonio and made the two and a half hour drive south to subtropical Corpus Christi, where we searched out a couple of my childhood homes from the late 60s and early 70s before heading across the causeway to check out the rolling white sand dunes and deep blue Gulf waters at Padre Island.  Padre Island stretches pretty far south, so much so that there’s another name for it on the other end – South Padre Island.  Well, what did you expect?  Everything’s bigger in Texas.  Brownsville is the stone’s throw from Matamoros border city that’s the gateway to South Padre, which – and it might be my imagination, I don’t know – has bluer water and whiter sands than up-island.  Throw that same stone in another direction, and there’s the whole steamy lowlands of the Rio Grande Valley, which I entered for the very first time in my life, I’m ashamed to say, when I went through McAllen, Donna and Mission on the river road leading back to points north and west.  Sometimes, I swear I know other states better than my own home state!

 

Kay stands near rental car on Padre Island near Corpus Christi, Tex.

Kay stands near rental car on Padre Island near Corpus Christi, Tex.

Kay and I have plotted a few courses through West Texas, although the scenery isn’t what I’d consider topnotch. There’s interesting pockets, however, as we found out when we gasped at the pack of wild javelinas crossing the road in front of us at Big Bend National Park, and the other neat little national park, those heights being too barren to be real, at Guadalupe Mountains National Park.  The area where I grew up and finished high school could be considered where West Texas starts, and from Abilene on the terrain gets flat, arid and dust blown until many, many miles beyond the flat, bland (even unsightly) landscape scattered with oil fields that characterize the Midland/Odessa area.  Farther west, the landscape turns to desert adorned only with distant barren peaks ascending from the horizon, which is about all we saw until we arrived and saw the twinkling lights of El Paso, on the Rio Grande River next to the Mexican border.  Down river, we dabbled a little bit the dusty border towns of Del Rio and Laredo.

 

 

Kay at Guadalupe Mountains NP (above) and in Big Bend (below) in remote West Texas

Texas Parks: Kay at Guadalupe Mountains NP (above) and in Big Bend (below) in remote West Texas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Kay at Big Bend

 

What Kay and I recall most about the Texas Panhandle was the perfect table top flatness of the area around Lubbock, with Amarillo not being much different. We rolled by that area of Texas with literally no scenery at all for hundreds of miles.

 

Our journeys through East Texas are more reminiscent of trips we’ve taken through the South, with its tall pine forests, bayous and wetlands and hot, humid climate. Between Dallas and Texarkana, we saw mostly green, wooded rolling hills and farms. At Houston, we saw the USA’s fourth-largest city on a ship channel surrounded by high-rise buildings. Following the ship channel, we navigated our way down alongside Galveston Bay to the old buccaneer hideaway of Galveston on the Texas Gulf Coast. And east of the Houston area, we wandered into the Big Thicket area, where the thick piney woods dominate the landscape. This thick, forested area extended all the way from about the Houston city limits across big Sam Rayburn Lake, as well as Toledo Bend Reservoir on the Louisiana line.

 

 

Turn the page:

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/libertarian-crusader-diary/archived-back-issues/special-wish-you-were-here-postcards-from-all-50-states/page-seven/

 

 

 

 

 

 

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