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Another reason for visiting Southwest Oklahoma, rather than some more direct route to Colorado, is my Comanche Ancestry. Despite my ancestors being from Northern New Mexico, I wanted to see the Wichita Mountains, and in particular, this lake and dam, named for Quanah Parker, the last Comanche Chief, who was born nearby. I wanted to see where the Nation, though much diminished from the Empire of the 19th Century, exists today.

First in-the-wild tarantula sighting. Pretty cool!

This country is so spectacularly beautiful.

A drum, that were I the owner, would likely find too beautiful to play.

Comanche Indian Veterans Association Regalia. At the rear is a Princess Crown – the bead work is so fine!

Traditional Woman’s Dress, made of deerskin, I believe, with more fine bead work.

I also wanted to visit the Comanche Museum in Lawton, which exhibits the traditional ways and dress while also celebrating current events, like dancing and the Native American Church, and historical achievements. For instance, I had only ever heard of Navajo (Dine) Code Talkers. But, did you know that there were Comanche Code Talkers, as well? There is always so much to learn.

Though my connection to the Comanche is through a single woman, born nearly two hundred years ago, I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to pay my respects for this indelible thread of my being.

After our morning at the museum, it was time for the long haul home, and as was typical for this trip, the rain to commence.

Brief encounters

It stopped, but only for a bit.

After ages of saying we would visit Mt. Capulin, the tallest cinder cone in northern New Mexico, we parted from Oklahoma with high hopes. Today is THE day! Then, the rain started to fall, and we thought, it’s still hours away. Then, despite a brief clearing in the rain as we approached, we saw lightning. I don’t know about you, but standing at an elevation of 8,720 ft seems imprudent under these circumstances. Another time.

To turn the misery of traveling in driving rain into luscious lemonade, how about these views, made even more alluring with the scrim of cloud?

Fisher’s Peak – the gateway to home and a most welcome sight.

Another great vacation, thanks for tagging along…


Greg makes friends at the Lodge Factory Store in South Pittsburg (no H), Tennessee. We bought fun assorted cast iron items: a present for Michael, a wee pot for warming, a small pan with a lid, and nifty scrubbers. Shopping can be fun, y’all.

Rockets in Huntsville, Alabama! We were just passing through but will definitely include space travel adjacent activities on a future excursion.

One of those “if you know you know” situations in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, but even if you don’t, I’ll tell you! Muscle Shoals Sound Studio is world famous for the likes of Cher, Boz Skaggs, the Rolling Stones, Paul Simon, Canned Heat, Bob Seger, Cat Stevens, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bob Dylan, George Michael, and the Black Keys, to name a few.

Muscle Shoals is also the birthplace of Helen Keller, which is a fascinating juxtaposition of sound and message.

Are we there, yet?

Memphis!! You know why.

Sun Studio!

Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich, Chris Isaak, Conway Twitty, Howlin’ Wolf, Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Buffet, Melissa Etheridge, Merle Haggard, Roy Orbison, and many more…

A. Schwab, since 1876, though it moved around a little on Beale Street, retains the vintage charm. We bought taffy (banana and walnut) and a t-shirt.

Waiting on a Friend…

Seen while waiting…

Unlike Broadway in Nashville, Beale Street, at least near lunch time, was downright sleepy: no music pumping, no crowds thumping. Since we are mostly daytime people, we didn’t return to hear any after dark blues. But goll-ee, is their neon fantastic!

W.C. Handy – the Father of the Blues and quite the snappy dresser.

Gardenia in bloom on the street, like it ain’t no thang! I caught the scent from a block away. Heaven.

Heartbreak of heartbreaks at the Lorraine Motel, which is now part of the National Civil Rights Museum. This is where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 while staying in room 306. It is still such a stunning loss.

Dr. King was in Memphis to support the Sanitation Strike, which the I AM A MAN Plaza honors.

Walking in front of this building with Juniper, a man hollered at us from across the street. “I had a dog like that! She was so good!” Ours is, too.

E L V I S ! !

Another of my must do in the South eating experiences – fried green tomato! It was even better than it looks.

We stayed a few blocks from Overton Park and this most fabulous mural.

We expected, as it was all over the news, a massive cicada symphony on our journey, but I guess we were a tad late, as they were not nearly as boisterous as expected. We did see a fair number being hounded by birds earnestly looking for a juicy meal. The fella above was the only one we witnessed in stillness. Those eyes!

Our journey from Nashville to Chattanooga took an extra two hours as a result of the aforementioned downpours, plus a couple of car crashes. As a result, we were quite famished upon our arrival and made lunch the first order of business. I am delighted to report that Uncle Larry’s made me a convert to catfish. Well, fried, at least. It definitely smacked me!

Johann Nicholas Sohn, my Great Grand-Father times two, was the reason I landed on Chattanooga for our second stop in Tennessee. At the age of twenty-one, he enlisted in the Union Army on May 12th 1861, in Pendleton, Ohio, and mustered into the 2nd Kentucky Infantry Company B, on June 3rd 1861.

He was present in Cruft’s Brigade at Chickamauga (in Georgia, just south of Chattanooga) on September 19th 1863, when he was bayoneted and shot in the leg. He recovered at the Union Hospital in Chattanooga before mustering out in Kentucky a year later.

Initially, I was happy to visit the battlefield and get the general feel for the terrain. Then, upon further searches, I learned I could find the exact location of his company. What a great privilege it was to stand on on the same ground where my Grandfather fought.

As it was at Gettysburg, I was struck by the beauty and serenity of a place with such a history. The land bore no visible wounds, but the cannons and markers make clear the horror of the Campaign. Chickamauga was second to Gettysburg in the number of casualties.

The marker indicating Grandpa Nicholas and the 2nd Kentucky is just to the right of the cannon.

It reads:

The Brigade as the left of Palmer’s Division was formed on this ground during the night of September 19th, with the Battery on the right of the first line, the 31st Indiana on its left, the 2nd Kentucky being the left of the front line. The second line, which relieved the regiments in front about 11 a.m. consisted of the 90th Ohio and the 1st Kentucky.

The Brigade was so strongly protected by log works that not an enlisted man was killed and but few wounded while occupying them. The attacks made by the enemy up to the time of the general withdrawal were repulsed. About 3 o’clock, Hazen’s Brigade on its right was sent to Snodgrass Hill, and the second line of Cruft’s Brigade tool its place. At 5:12 p.m. it was ordered to withdraw across the Kelly Field.

The Brigade moved in column of regiments at long intervals, encountering a very severe artillery fire from both flanks, but suffering little loss. Upon crossing the LaFayette Road the Brigade proceeded to Rossville. Strength in action September 19th, 1,408 officers and men. Casualties: Killed 24; Wounded 213; Captured or Missing 53; Total 290. Percentage of Loss, 20.58.

Such early birds! This place was packed when we left.

At Stir now, in the old Chattanooga Train Station, which is glorious! Stir is famous for their cocktails and even more so for their penchant for fine ice making. They have a special filter process and freeze water in 300 pound blocks, before making cubes in every shape. As you can see above, I was most interested in the sphere. The process is a whiz-bang affair and how pretty and perfectly clear! Another fine dining and drinking experience. I also recommend the lobster and shrimp mac and cheese and chocolate cake. Mmmm…

This reminds me, I am not much of a drinker, maybe partaking in one cocktail a month, but with the heat, humidity, and sheer number of tempting beverages on offer, I drank in ten days what I normally consume in a year. Quite the trip!

Do you know the Glenn Miller song?

After dinner, and while the Juper-dog was happily ensconced in her crate, we ventured up Lookout Mountain to visit Rock City Gardens. How to describe? A garden, to be sure, for there are lovely trees, shrubs, and plants everywhere, but it is really more about the experience of walking through them, with all the crevices, caves, and bridges to cross. Then there are the fanciful decorations, stunning views, and birds galore. It is truly unique!

Extra, super bouncy bridge. Not for the faint of heart.

Worth the view!

I see you…

Chickamauga is behind me!

Small, with a mighty voice!

What you can’t really see here is a wonderfully cooling mist rolling down. We came at the right hour, both for the temperature and the sparse crowd.

Rock City Gardens was one of the first places to play with paint and black lights. This space was neat, but it gets even better!

This was a very small fraction of the cool cavern scenes (literally and figuratively). What a truly magical place! Greg and I were surprised and delighted. If ever you are in the neighborhood, please do visit.


Eastern Colorado Electrical Bonanza, May 31st at 5 a.m.


Abundant butterfly weed on the Konza Prairie in Kansas. I’ll admit to a little plant jeaousy, as I have tried growing this both in Oregon and Colorado with zero success.


We took a scenic detour on our way to Kansas City, lush and green and peaceful in its splendor. As a result, we stumbled upon Aggieville Brewing just as the lunchtime rumblies were peaking. They have delicious BBQ, very fine sour beer, and kindly service. Worth a detour, to be sure.

Kansas City – our stay was brief but lovely…

Certainly better than having our touristy plans ruined by rain, but a bit terrifying to drive in, nearly every major day of travel included at least one torrential downpour, several lasting hours. This is the misty final hurrah of our journey to Nashville. Very easy on the eyes…

Yes, definitely.

Hattie B’s Hot Chicken provided two of our most favorite meals in Tennessee, once in Nashville, the other in Memphis. Chicken perfection! Baked beans and grits and pimento mac and cheese! Banana pudding!

I have always wondered how people in the South tolerated the punishing humidity. Despite our trip being rather pleasant, all things considered, I did learn a valuable bit of intel on the matter. The more sultry, the better a slushy drink satisfies. As a result, I enjoyed a veritable rainbow, virgin and heady with booze. Highly recommended!

Suffragette City

Nashville Parthenon

Vanderbilt University

Yes, ma’am!!

I bought a hat here…

Hawkers Asian Street Food was a culinary and visual highlight. As we were in the South, of course we had more fried chicken, this time in a steamed bun. Gah, so good! Equally good vibes and friendly folk.

It’s Pride Month, y’all! Happy, happy…

Since Nashville is all about music and honky-tonkin’, we made certain to get our fill. This is Dylan Smucker and Friends (friend?) on stage. I just have to say, WOW. How lucky the people of Nashville are to have such fabulous music available literally every day.

This was at Jane’s Hideaway, in East Nashville, another terrific spot for a cocktail, appetizers, and really great service.

Even the losers get lucky sometimes…

South Broadway in Downtown Nashville is THE spot for Honky Tonks, so for the loud and crowd averse like us, we made the bright decision to arrive before the madness of nightfall, despite my love for full regalia neon.

Even at this early hour, the sidewalks were chockablock with jostling bodies, many already liquored up and ready to roll. We strolled up and down, ears peeled for the best voice and guitar and found it with Smitty and the Quick Triggers at Rippy’s. What a diversity of sound and songs, the Beatles to Lynyrd Skynyrd, with a sprinkling of fine original tunes. We stayed a long while and were quite impressed. My goodness, the talent in this town!


Artichoke Dip-like Soup, with chicken

Hello, fellow eaters! If, like me, you had a grandparent who could not get up when they fell or witnessed the same in others you care about, strength becomes more center of mind as the body makes more trips around the sun. As a result, I have done a bit of reading on healthy aging and been concerned with staying strong over the long haul.

Greg and I have had a steady routine for years, always with some weight lifting, but never anything terribly heavy. I thought I need only continue this workout, and I was good to go for life, barring some horrible event, of course. But, but, but, after reading Next Level, by Stacy Sims, and Outlive, by Peter Attia, I learned how terribly wrong this assumption was. We lose muscle mass, just by living, even if we do exercise and lift weights. So we are gradually increasing how many pounds we lift and will take it as far as our bodies allow, within reason and available equipment.

I also learned, as someone who likes to travel, if I want to be able to lift a 25 pound suitcase into the overhead compartment of an airplane or train when I’m 70 years old, I need to be able to lift a 35 pound weight right now (I’m so close!). That’s how much muscle strength we lose over time! Isn’t that bananas?

It gets even worse if our bodies don’t have adequate protein. I’m meant to get 100 grams per day, which meant nothing to me until I started paying attention. It is a lot! As a result, I have been mildly obsessed with the protein content of my meals, and eating accordingly. Every day, getting it any way I can: whey protein, eggs, legumes, grains, nuts, Greek yogurt, meat, fish. I leave no stone unturned and still rarely meet my target. Wah. But I remain earnest and creative!

Seafood chowder and gluten-free English muffin

Which brings me , finally, to today’s photos. Take, for instance, the creamy soups above. Both have some dairy (plain whey protein the usual source) but really derive their velvety texture from white beans! I pop them, along with broths and cauliflower, for even more of a health boost, into the Vitamix and whir until smooth. Dead easy, and with the right seasonings, no one seems to notice or care, well, at least until we start farting. Facts.

pork chop with apple gravy
Korean Fire Chicken
Curried chicken and chickpeas

Despite it being a major concern, I obviously don’t want to make soup every day, only because I am very much a variety is the spice of life type and crave just about everything under the sun, like a homey chop and deliciously spicy Korean or Indian. My food choices are as adventurous as my personality!

Here’s to health and hoping I can keep the variety going while figuring out more clever ways to maximize.

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