Traveling

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Hello from our digs in Chattanooga! Since our travels always include Juniper, it is wonderful when we can find a place with a yard, so she can get her wiggles, wees, and poos out unencumbered by a leash. Huzzah!

This place was pretty stellar, as it was rather spacious and had a record player, too. The selection of music was limited to what was on hand, but it was quite eclectic and mostly suited our tastes. Very fun!

There was a beautiful trail about a block from our rental that led to a view of Chattanooga. If you look carefully near the center, you can spy the blue pedestrian bridge we cross down yonder. Cool, cool, cool.

Kinda like Lombard Street in San Francisco but for human powered traffic.

Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing…

The Tennessee Aquarium

The Tennessee River

Someone tell me why this scene makes me think of Logan’s Run.

Our first visit to an aquarium! The Tennessee Aquarium is pretty cool, and, as you can see, includes some non-aquatic species, as well. It is divided in two, one for the River Journey, one for the Ocean, with a pretty spectacular stop with fabulous butterflies!

If you click on the explore section of their website, you can see live streams of action in the various areas. Greg and I are especially fond of watching the otters.

We learned the geographical area surrounding Chattanooga has the highest density of species of all kinds in the United States. Pretty cool, considering how few we actually saw while out and about. Nature and her secrets! That said, there was abundant birdsong everywhere on our trip, with Cardinals the loudest (most catchy?) singers of them all.

Made from trash recovered from the ocean. Please don’t litter…

The butterfly room also had a lily pond, complete with eye-popping lotus. I had never seen that color combination before. Truly stunning.

A quiet spell of porch sitting, for a quintessential Southern experience: heat and shade and the gentlest of breezes.

When I asked Juniper to smile after the first photo, that was what she did. So cute. Plus, her handsome bearded pal! ALL LOVE…

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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.

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

Topeka!

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.

Beautiful…

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!

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Moody light over Taos, so beautiful!

Taos Mountain enveloped in snow

Picuris Peak

Sangre de Christos

For our return trip home, we found a cool casita just a “block” away from our Taos land. We know the neighborhood, but this was the first time we actually set foot on the property, having bought it at the height of the pandemic, and walked the gorgeous views.

We also had a wonderful breakfast (how excited I am to have New Mexican style food I won’t have to make myself!) with our delightful realtor and equally kindly person, Yvonne Trujillo and her husband David, talking land and concrete and wells and everything in between. How real this is all becoming, thrilling and frightening, too. Please think good thoughts for us!

I am ridiculously content, sitting in the wood stove warmth of the Sugar Nymphs Bistro in Penasco. We love this place, as the service (our sweet server was named Colleen!!), all the food, and especially the desserts, are top notch. This is my absolute favorite seat in the house, right by the stove and with a great view of the art lined walls.

We also, for the first time, made a couple of wine and cider tasting stops at Black Mesa and La Chiripada. Both were marvelous, with super friendly staff. We bought quite a bit for two people who don’t drink on the regular!

Taos Mountain from Picuris Peak and zoomed from our neighborhood. We’ll have a view of this stunner from our back porch. Huzzah!

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Hi! I’m listening to a super chatty tour guide. Completely unrelated, my very cool necklace charms are Gemini and Cancer constellations (for me and my star crossed love) from the delightful Kayla at Fox and the Fawn. They have the most wonderful jingle! I am also wearing her rings. Here’s to supporting hard working metal smiths.

Greetings from Taliesin West, stop number two on places of architectural interest in Arizona. As you know, if you’ve been with me for a while, I am rather fond of Frank Lloyd Wright structures, and this is no exception. We visited Phoenix in part to see this great place, all stunning angles and sublime views, unlike the hordes of suitcase rollers we encountered post Super Bowl. We didn’t know it was even happening, which gave Cynthia (see below) a good chuckle! The pair of us are impossibly out of touch when it comes to sports and absolutely without apology.

No visit to the Phoenix area would be complete without a visit with Greg’s awesome cousin, Cynthia, who picked up her Texas stakes for Arizona at the beginning of the pandemic. We enjoyed tacos on an eye wateringly hot heated patio, walked in the rain, and caught up on stellar, in-person conversation. We are super proud of all she has accomplished and what is happening next. All the things, indeed.

She and Greg are not only looking good (seriously!) in the wee slice of afternoon sun, but standing in front of one of her multiple citrus trees in her beautiful back garden. She gave us a bag of fruit, and I made marmalade, no surprise. It is all the more delicious knowing the origin.

bird of prey and ocotillo

Fun Valentine lunch at Tonto!

Our final full day in Cave Creek was a cold one, rife with mist and fog, with our cozy Valentine lunch sandwiched midway. It was as delicious at it looks.

Juniper and I cozied up with sweaters and books while Greg did some fast typing. Have I ever told you about this? He is the fastest typist I know. So much so, I often call it fake because he sounds like a child hammering willy-nilly at the keys. He absolutely is not.

Boy howdy, the photos, save maybe the last one, absolutely do not display the horror of being on the roads of northern Arizona on February 15, 2023. We have never seen so many smashed vehicles: lying on their side, heading the wrong direction, upside down. We found, quite literally, the one artery to I-40 that was not closed and inched along at 20 miles per hour. The final photo is a mere smidgen of the at least three-mile long chain of vehicles stopped overnight and hoping to get moving westbound to Flagstaff. Yikes!

Our friend Mary said we must be living right to have such good fortune. Thanks for saying so and big hug.

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