Author Archives: Type-A Gypsy

About Type-A Gypsy

A modern renaissance woman, I don't believe in zeroing in on one aspect of myself as the whole is a sum of the parts. Read on to find out more...

Can’t we all just get along…


I just finished watching a TED Talk with Simone Giertz about making useless things.  I have an engineering degree and I enjoy making useless things.  So this talk really appealed to me. I’d never encountered her on YouTube before but she earned a new follower.  And she said something that stood out, making a joke about “being a millennial and expecting the universe to revolve around me”.  It was a cute self-deprecating joke but it made me think it’s time to give Millennials a break. #givemillennialsabreak I mean, they’re adults now. And as far as I can see, some of them are doing great things.

Meanwhile back at the ranch…..

The reason this thought occurred to me is that hours earlier I had called my mother to wish her a happy birthday.  My mother is always proud to announce she is the 1st year of the Baby Boomers.  THE BABY BOOMERS!!! The generation of promise, of ambition, of wealth. WTF happened to the Baby Boomers???? A huge portion of problems happening right now can be directly credited to them.  Look who is in charge? Look who has been manning the ship for the last 40 years.  You can’t blame a generation for working with what you have created for them. But the truly sad part is that at the end of their lives the Baby Boomers have created a very polarized and offensive environment around them. Families are being torn apart. My own mother and I have less and less we can talk about without discourse. It seems a tragic end to a generation so full of promise. So let’s stop putting down Millennials and calling them self-absorbed. But what do I know?  I’m just a Gen X-er stuck in the middle.

#millennials #babyboomers #genxers #simonegiertz


Summing up the last week; Exploring Big Sky Country & avoiding Big RV’s


So, here I am in the final week of my cross country extravaganza.   I can’t believe it’s coming to a close.  Despite the raindrops falling outside I’m resolved to enjoy the final stretch.  And here’s the wrap-up of the past week.

After a jam-packed time in Washington state I made my way over to Idaho, into Montana and back into Idaho.  Montana truly is big sky country as they say.  Big sky, big mountains, big trucks with big dogs.  I’ve never felt so odd (wo)man out.  I was also completely exhausted from all the activity in Washington so I decided to chill with the ‘rents on their ranch somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Idaho.  I’d heard it was beautiful and I’d heard it was in the middle of nowhere.  Nowhere as in, no cell reception and directions that included mile markers and ‘look for the mail boxes on the left’.  In fact they did end up having to chase me down when I still couldn’t find it, but they found me. LOL!  “Put a city girl in the back country…” they joked.  It was exactly what I needed.  A warm cozy bed, hot showers, home cooked meals…  Hummingbirds the size of a bonbon buzzed around.  I saw a white-tail bunny rabbit and 2 cyotes running outside.  Nature au-natural for sure.  The Salmon river was just a few hundred yards away with fly-fishermen dotting the landscape.  The Sawtooth Mountains also framed the horizon.  Geez!  Who knew Idaho was such a gem!  Ssshh!!

After 2 days of much needed respite it was time to hit the road again and I headed off to Yellowstone Park.  I was SO excited to finally see ‘America’s National Park’.  And I have to say my experience there has left me perplexed.  For sure the wildlife was amazing!!  I saw more Bison than I can count.  Elk, Antelope & even a Grizzly Bear.  I also saw Old Faithful erupt.  Although after seeing geysers in New Zealand and Iceland…well sorry old lady, but you don’t quite rival their steam.  However the anticipation of waiting for her does.  How many times did I hear “What time is she scheduled to erupt?” or “Do you know how much longer?” or “What time was the last eruption”.  After hearing that over and over for half an hour….well you get the picture.  The funny thing is as she erupted the wind direction changed and we all got sprayed with steam and sulfur.  No the thing about Yellowstone that will stick with me is how stupid, obnoxious, annoying, etc….people can be!!  Honestly I’ve never seen such a concentration of stupid annoying people.  #1 I noticed; The max speed limit in Yellowstone is 45 mph.  Yet I saw countless people in BIG Diesel engine trucks and SUV’s speed around other vehicles.  HELLO! This is a nature reserve.  Wild animals live here and cross the street at any given time.  It’s not a free way. WTF?! #2; once again people, these are wild animals.  So why were people walking off the path, with their small children, to get up close & personal with the Bison. #3; There are people in this country that had NO BUSINESS driving RV’s!!!  I saw things that absolutely astounded me.  An RV, in the car section that had no business being there, side-swiped a car and then spend several minutes trying to dis-lodge the 2 vehicles.  In another parking lot an RV towing a car couldn’t quite fit it all in 3 parking spaces, so he just left the car hanging out in the middle of the lane.  Really?!?!  One of the gift shop guys made the assessment that to get a trucker’s license you have to take several tests and go thru an intensive training program.  But to get an RV all you need is $80,000!  And most of the drivers are over 60! #4; anyone that knows me well knows there are certain things I can’t keep my mouth shut about.  And not being nice to animals is one of them.  As sun was beginning to set the Elk were coming out to feed on the bank on the other side of the river.  I stopped to take pictures.  There was a family a few hundred yards down from me and a 10 yr. old girl took a big rock and threw it in the river just across from them.  I couldn’t believe it and after a long day being surrounded by stupid tourists it just jumped out of me…”Don’t be a jerk to the animals!!” I shouted.  Obviously everyone was taken by surprise at my outburst.  Then the mom responded “She wasn’t trying to hurt the animals”.  Well obviously not since they were not close enough to hit, but still.  “It’s just obnoxious!” I said. “Would you want someone throwing rocks at you while you were trying to eat?!?!”  Well no one had a response to that and the stalemate ended.  I continued taking pictures and not long after the baby started screeching and the Elk ran off.  I don’t blame them.

After that exhausting experience the next day I decided I couldn’t take another day of it and instead headed south to the Grand Tetons.  It wasn’t on my itinerary, but I’m so glad I went.  I got a much better campground, the weather was better, it was much less congested and there were lots of hiking trails.  All that driving made me anxious to get out and get moving.  The mountain range is absolutely stunning!  Over a course of 2 days I hiked two 5 hour hikes.  I really enjoyed this, but not the dozens of mosquito bites I received.  On my second hike, which I might add was pretty heavily trafficked, I was pretty shocked to see 30 yards in front of me a mama black bear and her 2 cubs.  I completely froze.  I know enough to know nothing is more dangerous than being close to a mama bear.  So I waited patiently until they made their way down the other side of the trail.  I spent the rest of the hike clapping my hands.  My only other wildlife encounter was a Marmont.  He came waddling around a rock and seemed as surprised to see me as I was him.  I waited for him to decide which way to go and moved on.  The day had started off picture perfect, but half way along the hike a torrential storm blew in.  Just as I was reaching the peak point high winds surged in, along with the largest raindrops I have ever seen!  What could I do?  I saw a lot of people crouching under trees and rocks for cover but my mantra is I’d just rather keep going and get to the end.  And when I did get to the end there was no sign of rain there.

2 days in the Tetons was amazing, even with all the itchy bites and an aggravated knee injury.  But like I said, now it’s the big push.  Yesterday was a long day of driving through Wyoming and into South Dakota.  I saw remnants of the Grand Canyon up here.  And then vast open spaces of nothing and all I could think was about those pioneers back from the days of Manifest Destiny.  Looking at these wide open spaces of nothing I wondered, who decided THIS was the place to stop?  If they had known what lay a few hundred miles ahead would they still have stopped there?  What a time that must’ve been.  I’m here in Spearfish, South Dakota ready to see Mt. Rushmore and explore the Badlands.  But there’s nothing but grey sky and raindrops outside…so instead I’m here with you, telling my tale and hoping when I’m back at home in NYC next week she will have recovered from Irene and I will have survived the next 1,000 miles!

Exploring the Pacific Northwest & learning to travel solo (again)


Hello once again dear readers.

So I actually did it, I actually left Sausalito.  Exactly one week ago tonight.  I have to admit I felt a bit dizzy and short of breathe when I pulled out.  A mile down the road I allowed myself one tear and then dried it off.  I made the drive up to Ashland for the second time, but it wasn’t quite the same this time.  Still, I adore Ashland!  I challenge you to find a lovelier city.  And I’m not just saying that because it has TWO bead stores. 🙂  I went out for a few drinks that night before I  called it a night and was engaged in a conversation with a local guy.  We were talking about how great Oregon is. And specifically Ashland.  After more than an hour of talking I just had to ask, because of what I had heard, ‘What do you do for work here?’  His response was classic…’Oh we don’t talk about work/jobs here’. ROFL! I’d heard the job market was bad there, even if the quality of life was really good.

After putzing around a little too much the next morning (and of course paying another visit to the Bead Store) I finally made my way up to Portland via the Oregon coastline.  I’ve heard how stunning the Oregon coast is and it’s definitely true.  Steep cliffs and crashing drops with giant rocks in the sea.  It reminded me a lot of Ireland.  And onto Portland.  Oh yeah, I’d been trying to make it up to Portland for quite a while.  And because I putzed so much I got there right at evening rush hour!  I was actually a bit surprised that a city that is known for it’s environmental progressiveness would have such a horrible rush hour…and such inconvenient interchanges, and roads and layout!  Or maybe it’s just me but I found it to be a complete clusterf&*k getting into.  I also hadn’t done enough research about where to stay.  I mean there was camping, but it wasn’t convenient.  So I had to resort to something I haven’t done in forever!!!  Stay in a hostel.  And not just a hostel but a dorm room. UGH!  It’s true what they say, you get to a certain point in life where a little extra is worth having your own space.  However I am no longer in that position and I do still like to scrimp on accommodation.  So I sucked it up and payed the $30.  The hostel, I discovered, has won an award from the city for the most creative water solution.  They have a rain collection bin on the roof that collects all that fantastic Portland rain water and they use it to flush the toilets.  I have to admit it is clever since they get so much rain, even if it does have a lingering odor in the bowl.  Still, great idea.

One of the funny/interesting things about this trip has been seeing things and going to towns that I’ve been hearing about for years…and finally seeing them first-hand.  Portland is one such place and unfortunately it did not exceed, but rather feel short of my expectations.  I will preface this by saying that I didn’t have a buddy to show me around or lend a couch and that I do believe it’s the kind of town you need to get to know in order to fully appreciate.  That being said, Portland and I did not hit it off the way I had thought.  12 years ago I had actually considered moving there because I had heard it was the only other city in the states besides New York where you could live without a car.  I’d also heard it was very progressive, hippy friendly and had a good quality of life.  Hmmm….well the reason you don’t need a car is because there is a bicycle mafia over-taking the city.  OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh.  I myself am an avid bike rider and think it is a great way to get around.  However all this “Share the Road” shit is just that!  There is no sharing of the road when the bikes are completely in the car lane and not allowing traffic to pass them!  Hippy friendly?  More like hipster.  I lost count of all the “posers” I encountered.  Quality of life?  Portland is quickly becoming the Meth capitol of the states and has more titty bars per capita than any other city.  Oh calm down!  I’m not hating on Portland, I’m just saying it seems to have a bit of an identity crisis.  I did go out for a drink with a mutual friend who was in town and kept picking up on that weird vibe I just couldn’t place.

The next day I was walking around downtown enjoying the fabulous August sunshine, trying to redeem my image of Portland when I got a text from my friend Andrew.  I originally met Andrew last year when I was in Iceland.  We were both at the Blue Lagoon wading thru soothing hot water when I overheard him talking to another group about the Gili Islands….a TINY island chain way out Indonesia.  That was the start of our extensive conversation about world travel, which lasted a good few hours all the way to the airport. He was returning to Seattle after 2 years of being away traveling, and I knew exactly how he felt.  We exchanged information and stayed in touch.  He ended up moving out to the DC area and I got to visit him at the beginning of my trip.  But he told me if I ever made it to Seattle to hit him up and he would set me up with some peeps.  Which is exactly what he did.  ‘Quick and call my friend Christy. She’s gonna take you out tonight’.  Sweet!  So I got in touch with her and ditched Portland.  Maybe another time…

On the drive from Portland to Tacoma I took a little detour…up to Mt. St. Helens.  Honestly I never really thought I would get to see it in person.  I vaguely remember when it happened and when I was at the Visitor Center I overheard the information lady and a guy talking about it.  “Yeah I remember when that happened” he said. “I was 7”.  I really should’ve kept my mouth shut, but he was just so….well…old looking!  No, I didn’t say that I just said ‘Wow, yeah I remember that too. I was 8’.  Yeah I really should’ve kept my mouth shut on that one.  Driving up to the top to see it was really cool though.  She is incredibly beautiful! But as you get to the top there are still (31 years later) remnants of that day back in ’80 when she blew her top.  I’d like to think that she was unhappy about the Reagan era beginning 🙂

Back on the road I went to head to Tacoma to meet up with Christy.  We decided to meet up at a coffee shop in downtown Tacoma.  Here’s the really funny part!  Andrew had called her up that morning saying that “his friend from Iceland was coming to town and needed a place to stay.”  So she’s totally expecting this intriguing Icelandic woman to meet her….and it’s just me!  haha, this was the running joke of the week; that Icelandic women look and sound just like ‘us’. hahaha! After that we then headed over to the bay where she told me she had a friend with a boat that we could go out on for sunset.  It sounded like a great way to spend the evening.  So we parked at a little restaurant there in the harbor to have a drink or 2 before we met up with him.  That’s when we started getting to know each other better and she told me that the friend was actually a guy she had recently started dating and she wasn’t really sure where it was going or if he was her type.  But that’s really all.  She was curious on my reading of him and them together.  An hour or so later we finally met up with him and headed over to his boat.  At first all I could think was that he was wearing way too much cologne and had a bit of a Jersey Shore look going.  Strange for the west coast but what ev.  His boat was really cool, and luckily enclosed cos it was getting pretty cold.  The sunset was amazing!  We went around the Gig Harbor area taking it all in.  I will say that she and he definitely had very different communicating styles and I didn’t think it was so necessary for him to constantly try making out with her right in front of me.  Cue insecurity perhaps.  So we headed over to The Tides, which is a local favorite restaurant.  Almost from the start there were problems.  They couldn’t decide on what to eat.  He wanted to order shots that she didn’t want.  Then she was calling her best friend Pat to come over and meet up with us and he was talking over her conversation on the phone.  She had already warned me that there were jealousy issues from the guy about her friendship with Pat and I could definitely see that he was controlling.  So they continued to fight and then she said they should take it outside because it was very uncomfortable sitting right there with it.  When they went outside to “discuss” things further the waiter came over to talk to me about what was going on and we both decided to laugh it off.  Not long later Pat and his friend  Chris arrived, excited to meet the “Icelandic Girl”.  While we were chatting and getting to know each other Christy and the guy were continuing to fight and then I heard her say “I can’t take this anymore!” and stormed off to the bathroom.  Pat and I noticed this and then sort of talked about it.   The guy walked off, but what we didn’t know was that he was trying to get into the ladies restroom where Christy was.  After 2 times I think, the waiter reprimanded him about it.  Christy calls Pat, who is sitting next to me, telling him this and that she has asked him repeatedly to leave and he won’t.  When Christy is on the phone with Pat, the guy is totally hovering over him, with his chest all puffed up like a peacock…which was really bizarre but unfortunately I have seen this behavior before too many times.  When Pat gets off the phone, the guy had walked over to the bar to talk to the waiter, Pat turns to his friend Chris and says ‘We need to take care of this’.  I remain at the table and watch the 2 of them walk over to where the guy is.  Chris was sort of standing in front of the bathroom and Pat is at the end of the bar and says to the guy “Dude she doesn’t want you here”.  The guy turns like he’s going to leave and then just lunges right at Pat and goes nuts!  I couldn’t believe it.  It happened so fast and cudos to the waiter that he went right after the guy and took him down to the ground.  But the guy continued to fight him and 2 other patrons jumped in to help.  I mean, this is a restaurant!  Not some sleezy bar where fights happen regularly.  It was very fast, but very rough.  I sent Christy a text telling her there was a fight outside and when it seemed safe I went in to check on her.  When we came out of the bathroom poor Pat’s face was covered in blood!!  In fact there was so much blood that I checked his mouth to make sure all his teeth were still there.  Somehow in that 30 sec brawl the guy managed to completely split poor Pat’s lip.  The restaurant called the cops who soon came.  Taking pictures, taking statements, etc etc…  The guy had taken off on his boat so the Harbor patrol went after him and within an hour I was asked to go outside and identify him.  Seriously?!?!  How do I get involved in these situations?!  Several of us had to write down witness accounts.  The FD paramedics came and everyone told Pat he needed stitches.  I felt his pain when he explained he didn’t have insurance, but in this case he could totally sue and after 2 hours when his lip started to swell and separate I told him he was way too young to have a screwed up lip for the rest of his life.  The restaurant was very helpful and we finally headed off to the ER.  Yay I just love going to ER’s in the middle of the night.  At least this time it wasn’t me!  But if I ever were going to go to an ER at 2am, the one in Gig Harbor is where I’d want to be.  An hour and a half later we walked out, with Pat having 8 stitches put in his lip.  For sure we spent the rest of the night hashing it out.  Luckily the next morning we checked online to see that he was still in jail, cos all of us had worried about that.  And I started to wonder what the hell I had gotten myself into!

After finally getting my car, which was all the way on the other side of the harbor, we headed over to Patty’s house.  Patty is my friend Andrew’s godmother and one of the coolest women I’ve ever met.  Originally from New York she moved out here 40 years ago and built up a really sweet spot right on the water.  We picked berries from her garden and told funny stories.  I absolutely adored her!!

Then I was off to Seattle to meet up with another woman named Susan.  Susan is a good friend of my friend’s Jim & CJ and I had hung out with her one night back in college, 17 years ago!!  They had said if I made it to Seattle I should meet up with her.  And so I did.  It’s so funny to meet someone once, spend a night partying together, and then meet up again nearly 2 decades later on the other side of the country.  But it was totally cool!  Susan has a sweet place in West Seattle with a deck that overlooks the sound and affords fantastic sunset views.  We had a fun night hanging out in Capital Hill (which looks just like San Fran to me).  And for the second time on this trip my hostess said “I think I’ll call in sick tomorrow”.  Yay!!  A play buddy 🙂  I know Seattle is known for it’s dreary rain, but in August it could not have been a more picture perfect day!  We decided to take the bus into the city and explore.  True Pike’s Place Market can be touristy, but I still loved it.  It sort of reminded me of some of the Asian markets I’ve been to, only different.  I had no idea what she was talking about when she said ‘this is where they throw the fish’. But I soon found out.  That is where they throw the fish, and somehow they make fish throwing entertaining.  We ate and grazed our way thru the entire market and when that was done we headed over to Bell Town for happy hour.  Funny, it was also Hemp fest in Seattle and all the cops seemed to be cashing in on that.  I’ve never seen so many cop cars whiz around for no reason.  That being said, I really enjoyed Seattle…far more than I ever would have imagined.  I guess I didn’t expect to find it so, well ‘European’.  And of course all the sunshine didn’t hurt either.  After a full day we headed back because we both had early mornings ahead of us.

Hard to believe, but I agreed to meet up again with Pat and Christy.  I think they were just as surprised as me that I agreed to meet up with them on Saturday in Ellensburg…but the offer was too good to refuse.  A day of river floating down the Yakama River and then a concert that night at The Gorge.  I’ve been hearing for years what a great venue The Gorge is and even though country music is not my thing, I just really felt I had to do this.  So I had to get up really early Sat. morning to make the 2 hour drive to meet  them in time for river floating.  There were probably about 20 of us.  The river was flowing fast and it was damn cold!!  But wow was it fun!  So much better than any of the floating I’ve done on the east coast.  Several hours later we overshot our dismount point and had to hitch back to where the cars were.  We got to the concert about 10 mins too late for that ‘perfect’ sunset moment but I still got the full effect.  It is a gorgeous ampitheatre I have to say.  Toby Keith was the performer and I have to say his ‘patriotism’ goes way over the top and borders on obnoxious ‘nationalism’.  The constant Ford advertisments in the background were beyond obnoxious.  So I just laid back and watched all the beautiful stars and ‘thought’ about things for a while.  I was really glad I came out and gave them a second chance.  They were good kids and I had an amazing time with them.  The next morning it was time to say goodbye and move on.

As lush and beautiful as Western Washington is, Eastern Washington is the exact opposite.  Dry desert grasslands.  There is nothing for the eye to see.  Then you get into Idaho and all of the sudden it starts getting pretty again.  Idaho into Montana, even better…which is where I am writing you from now.   And now I must plan out the final push.  I can’t believe that in 2 weeks I’ll be driving over the George Washington Bridge…:(

Catching Up; the last 3 weeks!!!


Well hello hello! Look who it is.  Re-emerging from the abyss here I am to recount my adventures.

When last we spoke I was headed to Telluride.  OMG! If you ever take the drive from Santa Fe to Telly on Route 84, can I just tell you that it was by far one of the most scenically beautiful and yet stressful drives I’ve ever made.  A windy road climbing up and up and up and around and around and around. My 4-cylinder car was more often in 3rd gear. But oh it was amazing! Unfortunately I encountered a few GPS errors and got to Telly later than I planned.  I drove into a campsite about 10 miles outside of the resort and was told by Bruce, the manager of the campground, that he had just given away his last campsite an hour ago. GREAT! Ugh! I was not happy because the GPS error cost me nearly 2 hours.   But he said, he just couldn’t turn a woman away and had a weakness for blondes, so he let me set my little tent up on his plot…and wouldn’t even accept any money.  That was music to my ears.  After setting up camp and sharing a glass of wine with him and another friend I decided to head into Telly and check out the place I’ve been wanting to see for ages.  Shame I had to check it out in the dark. 😦  This old mining town turned ski resort is a small one-street town but it offers FREE gondola rides over the town to the resort and back again.  For sure I would have preferred to do it at 10 AM instead of PM but whatev.  The other thing that also stood out to me was that for the first time on this trip I was COLD! Which was a nice change of pace in July.  There was another female camper next to me.  Since turning 62 she had traded in her corporate life for life on the road in her car.  “Where will you head next?”  I asked.  ‘Oh I just go with the wind and the weather’ she replied.  I loved it.

The next morning I was up early to prepare to pick up my special travel guest in Grand Junction.  Unfortunately I was ou in the middle of the mountains with no reception and didn’t get the message until I was ten mins away from the airport that he had missed his flight…and now I had to pick him up in Denver…at 6pm, not 11am.  This was not music to my ears! Funny how after 3 months of separation an extra 6 hours can feel like an eternity.  Especially when you have to drive to the other side of the state, and then back where you came from.  So I did finally pick him up at Denver Airport, which is 30 mins outside of Denver (on the other side).  The reunion was sweet but I had no idea what was in store for me.

It’s overwhelming enough to start a new relationship long distance.  It’s even more overwhelming to have a reunion while being surrounded by a whole crew of his guy friends.  And I don’t mean just guy friends, I mean fishing guide friends.  There was a big party that night, a sort of  fishing guides reunion and it was full on.  The next day yours truly went fly fishing down the Colorado River with my man and 6 of  his fishing buddies.  Oh yeah! It was a full-on testosterone fling…with me…who has never gone fly-fishing.  Yeah it was indeed overwhelming!  That being said, all of the guys were super nice and went out of their way to make me feel comfortable and give me fishing tips.  The river was flowing full and it was a perfect day.  Interestingly enough, I was the first one to hook a fish, though he was small and I lost him, I still hooked one 🙂 It was a good first day and good to see him so happy being reunited with his best friends in his favorite place on earth.

The next morning we headed off for Flaming Gorge Utah.  It was a beautiful drive.  Thru Colorado, Utah, into Wyoming, out of Wyoming and back into Utah.  We ended up camping in a place so far out of the way and removed from everything that I would have never even known it was a campsite. $5 a night for tenting, you can’t beat it.  The man and I actually quickly fell into a camping routine that we used again and again and worked.  As soon as we would arrive at a campsite he would start building the fire and I would start building the tent.  This spot in particular was amazing because we were the only ones out there….us and a few hundred mosquitoes!  Luckily the fire kept them away while we ate dinner.  Mosie’s weren’t the only wildlife out there.  We passed hundreds of Pronghorns out there.  I still can’t figure out if there are an elk, an antelope or what…but they are stunning.  I still can’t figure out why I didn’t pull my camera out when there were 3 within 10 feet of us, I think I was just really in the moment since we almost hit one of them.

As much as it was a great camping experience being out in the absolute middle of nowhere, it was also hardcore camping…for those same reasons.  I didn’t get the best night’s sleep and there were no amenities to freshen up the next morning.  We drove out and headed west thru Utah.

There are parts of Utah that are absolutely beautiful, and then there are other parts that….well are just worth driving thru.  This day ended up being alot of driving.  But the most interesting part of the drive was going thru the Bonnerville Salt Flats.  Wow!!!  So weird and so interesting!  We stopped off and had a look.  It’s surreal. Very quiet but very windy.

We pushed thru the salts of Utah and finally arrived in Elko, Nevada.  Boy oh boy!  What a strange and funny town!  Elko was pretty much put on the map as a mining town.  Gold mostly.  But I also heard one of the waitresses talking about the pipeline bringing in a lot of work as well.  For sure a trip to Elko was like a step back in time.  It is most definitely an old Western style town.  After a long day in the car we decided to search out a little bar for a beer and a shot and we found exactly that.  An old wooden bar with an old, surly female bar-tender.  It matched the rows of neon-signed motels on the (only) strip.  The next morning we searched out a good local spot for breakfast….Oh yeah, it was the diner…inside of the Casino.  There’s nothing like walking into cigarette smoke with fat asses in lycra playing slot machines.   It really was one of the weirdest breakfast experiences I’ve ever had.  I mean honestly, the ugly stick just set up camp in that town and left a permanent mark!

After a sub-par breakfast (how can you screw up eggs?) we decided it was time to get the hell out of dodge and hit the road.  The man had done some research on Black Opal Mines up in Northwestern Nevada so we were making our way in that direction.  We took Route 80 over to Winnemucca and then the real adventure began.  From major interstates, to paved county roads and eventually to a dirt road.  We were once again in the middle of nowhere and not completely sure of where we were going.  But the company was good and we had road trip goodies to snack on along the way.  After several hours of driving and seeing nothing we arrived at a junction in the middle of nothing.  And like an oasis, at this junction there was a building.  We weren’t sure what we would find, but I was desperate for a pee break.  When we walked in we truly did find an oasis!  The diviest of dive bars that you could find in the west.  You could practically expect to see Sam Elliot walk through the door.  An old oak bar with  big stools and elk heads adorning the walls. Yeah, not my favorite thing to see but I am traveling with a hunter,  so it’s not like I can ignore them.  This oasis dive bar had the coldest beer I’ve ever had, and a surprise…Strawberry Blonde Ale.  It was the perfectly refreshing beverage after a long, hot drive.  It’s so strange but that little dive bar in the middle of nowhere is one of my favorite memories of this trip.  Too bad I didn’t take a photo. 😦

The lady behind the bar had given us directions to the opal mines and we made our way over there.  Too bad we didn’t do more research….all the mines close at 4:00 pm, and it was 4:20!  We hopped on one of the dryest, roughest dirt road I have ever been on in the states.  It took us over an hour to go 35 miles and the car was completely covered in dust.  When we finally crossed into California it was cause for celebration! 🙂  We ended up camping just outside of Burney.  While the company was great as usual, and the dinner he cooked for me superb, the campgrounds itself was yuppy-ville!  Ugh! You know, those campgrounds where you’re right on top of each other.  I mean, it was beautiful, but way to cramped.  And seeing as how we had gotten used to being out in wide open spaces, it was a tough adjustment.  In fact we almost got kicked out for being too loud…at 10 pm. (cue multiple flashlights being pointed in our direction).

The next morning we got up as soon as possible and made our way down the 5 and into Sausalito.  This is where the next phase of the trip began…life on the houseboat at Yellow Ferry Dock.  It felt good to have a place to settle into for a bit after not having more than 2 nights in a row at the same place for the last 3.5 weeks.  It felt good.  That was 2 weeks ago and it’s been a special time of learning and growing.

In that time we also had another little road trip that involved a drive up to Southern Oregon where I met the parents.  They live on a beautiful 4 acre spread just outside of Ashland.  Asparagus, lavender, berry patches you can eat off.  It was just beautiful.  Something was pointed out to me in the back yard. “What the hell is that?”  I asked.  Oh it’s their pet Llama that hangs out in the pasture with the cows.  The parents were very nice and we enjoyed a relaxed dinner out on the back deck while we watched a stunning sunset reflection on the mountain.  It truly was a piece of paradise.  The next day, after a late start we made our way over to the coast, which truly is as beautiful as I’ve heard.  The next morning we made our way down the coast back into California into the Redwoods.  I could’ve spent the whole day there. Humboldt County, truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve been.  We walked mesmerized through the Avenue of the Giants, smelling the smells, hearing the sounds and feeling the energy of the trees.

Like I said,  I could’ve stayed there all day, but we were on a time limit.  So we made our way down towards Ukiah to go camping near Clear Lake.  Chris and I have said that we are ‘futzers’.  We truly can futz better than anyone.  But because of this we seem to always end up setting up camp right at dark.  Oh well, good thing we have our system down.  Another excellent campfire dinner, it was a great night.

So here I am, at the end of 3 weeks together.  I’ve stayed a week to 3 days longer than I planned.   But tomorrow I will get back in the travel groove and make the most of the next 3.5 weeks I have left to explore this country.

Days 18, 19, 20 & 21; Dusting off the knees after getting knocked down


Up until the whole Houston debacle I had been quite happy and pleased that I had managed to stay on schedule!  However I ended up not getting delayed just one day, but two! Because my bank card didn’t arrive until too late in the afternoon to start out on a 7 hour drive.  Oh well, if I was going to get stuck somewhere Austin was the place to do it.  I had a free place to crash with some of my favorite people in the world, so it wasn’t all bad.

Wednesday morning I set off way too early considering the activities I had been up to the night before.  As usual Ms. Garmin took me through all back County Roads. Although in retrospect after looking at the map it was really the most direct route and unlike the rest of the country, the CR in Texas have a 70 mph speed limit.  What I drove through was most definitely what I picture as Texas. Giant ranches with big fence posts and huge Texas state flags.  The night before I had learned what makes Texas (& Texans) different from the rest of the country.  Unlike the other states in the Union, Texas was not annexed in but rather made a state by a special treaty.  And because of this it is the only state flag that can fly at the same level as the Stars & Stripes.  It also explains why Texans are the most pompous and bodacious.  As one guy said, you never have to ask a Texan where they’re from because within the first few minutes they’ll tell you.

Driving for hundreds of miles through Western Texas I couldn’t help having flashbacks to Eastern Africa.  Many sections looked a lot like Mozambique where I used to live.  Other sections, the drier ones, took me back to that fateful drive in Zambia where I almost got raped. Yeah, that didn’t bring back good memories!  On this drive I also saw something I had been keeping a look out for and knew I would eventually see; Hydro-fracking!  ARGH!!!! It made my skin crawl.  For those of you not familiar with fracking may I suggest you check out  It seemed strangely ironic that there were wind turbines right next to them.

There were wind gusts and dust spouts along the side of the road.  No wonder since they haven’t gotten rain in several months.  But some of those gusts were pretty well, gusty!  A deer ran out 300 feet in front of me and I added ‘no hitting of large animals that can harm me or the car’ to my intention list.

After many many hours of rolling hills and constantly changing topography, I finally made it into New Mexico and a few hours later I finally made it to Carlsbad Caverns.  Unfortunately I got there at the end of the day so I decided then to stay til the morning to check it out somewhere.  When I entered the Big Room my jaw simply dropped in awe.  Honestly, I’ve been to caves all over the world and never seen anything quite so spectacular.  Just beautiful!  To call it a spiritual experience would not even cover it.  I camped out at the base of the park and headed back early the next morning…and was reminded of why I hate group tours so much!!! Oy! I abhor them, but sometimes it’s the only way to see things.  I took far too many pictures and non of them do it justice, but atleast I got some good exercise hiking down 800 feet to the main floor.

After I was done with Carlsbad I got back on the road to head up to Santa Fe.  I’ve been looking forward to Santa Fe the whole trip.  and now I only had half a day to spend with it! 😦  Oh well…another trip I guess.  The drive from Carlsbad to Santa Fe is sheer torture!!!!  Honestly, a person could absolutely die of boredom driving on the route.  There is absolutely NOTHING to look at.  I started noticing that my mind had gone into a trance state and started doing mental exercises to keep myself alert.  Look at the speedometer, look at the odometer (just crossed 8,000 miles), change the music, turn up the AC.   Anything to keep myself from turning into a zombie!  As I was approaching Santa Fe I saw a dark block of rain.  I know they desperately need the rain, but I absolutely hate camping in the rain.  Did it have to be this one day???

I loved what little of Santa Fe I saw as much as I knew I would.  These are by far the nicest, most polite and most friendly people I’ve come across.  Not that sacchariny sweetness of the south, but just cool chilled out friendliness.  Oh yeah, I will definitely be coming back here.  I’ve officially left the south and am coming into the portion of the country I feel so in tuned with, even though I’ve never lived here or even barely visited.

As I give a short and sweet love ’em and leave ’em visit to Santa Fe I am making my way up to Telluride.  Always wanted to go there!  Tomorrow I’ll be picking up a VERY special travel partner….So, don’t expect any blogs for the next several days! 😉

Have a great weekend everyone and thanks for reading!!!

Suz xo

Days 15, 16 & 17; Reuniting with old friends, it does the soul good.


After the nightmare of Houston, it was a most welcome event to meet up with longtime friends.  I was originally planning to head straight to Austin and spend the weekend there.  But it turns out the my friends were both going to surrounding areas for the weekend.  So I left Houston and headed to Galveston Island to meet up with my friend Michael and his girls.  I originally met Michael and the Smith clan 16 years ago back in Casselberry FL when we were next door neighbors.  If one good thing ever came out of me owning that house it was this friendship.  Kaley was barely walking and talking when I first met them, now she is about to enter her Senior year of highschool.  And Hope wasn’t even born yet when I moved to New York.  But inspite of the distances and the moves, we have remained close friends over the years.  So of all people to meet up with after my break in, this was the best medicine I could get.

Galveston Texas is a major weekend beach get away for Houston area residents since it’s only an hour away.  But it’s not the Hamptons.  I would put it somewhere between Panama City Beach and Daytona, with a little more charm and personality….but not much.  Still, when you’re with good friends it doesn’t really matter.  There is some interesting architecture there and the best thing we did was drive around and look at the wood carvings.  Back in ’08 hurricane Ike tore through Galveston destroying homes, downing power for over a week and uprooting hundred year old Live Oaks.  It left ugly rotting stumps behind.  One of the local women came up with the idea of getting area artists to carve sculptures into them instead as a way to create beauty and promote tourism.  It most definitely worked we spent several hours driving around searching them out.  The tin man was carved infront of the house that one of the directors of the Wizard of Oz was actually born in.  There were owls, dolphins, frogs, sponge bob, and my personal favorite Mermaids!  It was such a good time and good to hang out with Mike and the girls.

After lunch it was time for me to head over to San Antonio to meet up with their mother.  Can you believe, I had to drive back thru Houston to get there and I got lost twice!!!  Not only are the highways completely confusing, but the driver’s are total assholes as well!!!  They all drive BIG trucks or Suburbans and drive VERY aggressively.  My little 4-cylinder car wasn’t quite up taking them on.  So yeah, I got lost twice getting in the wrong lane and then not being able to change.  UGH!!!!  Just get me as far away from Houston as possible!!! I finally made it to San Antonia an hour behind schedule due to I-10 being shut down for 2 miles, with no notice! When I got to the hotel parking was a big challenge and I had to resort to the hotel’s valet service.  I explained to the guy that I was basically living out of my car and would need more stuff out of it but he said that wasn’t a problem.  The hotel we stayed in was super cool!  It was an old bank that still had all the original vaults and molding and wow it was super beautiful!

Margaret and I had been to San Antonio together once before when I got a cheaper fare to fly there instead of Austin. The river walk in down town San Antonio is super cool and unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else in the states.  It goes on and on and on and has one bar and restaurant after another.  We had such a fun night bouncing here and there until the exhaustion of my ‘event’ finally caught up with me and we called it a night.  The next day we had lunch a top the Spindle Top, Towers of the Americas. Which was built for the 1968 world’s fair.  Who doesn’t love a good spindle top?!?  Though this was definitely one of the more slow moving ones.  I recommend it if you’re ever in the area. Also check out the super cool waterfall fountains down below.

After lunch we headed over the see The Alamo.  Even though we’ve all heard the name, I didn’t really know the full story.  The first thing is what evidently most people say after they see it, which is wow it’s really small!  But I suppose since only a few hundred people were staying there it wouldn’t need to be large.  Pretty unbelievable that an army of 6,500 stormed them for 6 months!  After the Alamo, well it was just too damn hot!!!  Walk more than 2 blocks in that heat and you will absolutely melt.  We jumped in our A/C cars and drove back to Austin where I’ve been hanging out with the girls waiting for my bank card to arrive so I can get back on the road.

Day 14 & 15; The Good, The Bad, The Ugly & Then The Beautiful


It’s taken me several days to be able to write about what happened in Houston.  But the more I think and talk about it the more I realize that I do have to tell the full story so all can understand what really evolved.

On Thursday, July 14th I made the long drive from Natchez, MS to Houston, TX.  I was originally supposed to meet up with a girlfriend who is currently living there. But due to a death in the family she wasn’t going to be in town.  I didn’t really have any major interest in seeing Houston and visiting her had been my main reason for going.  However I was also enroute to Austin so I had to stop somewhere in Texas!  I had absolutely no interest in going to Dallas so I decided to just use the Houston stop over as a ‘me’ day…which translates to a spa/maintenance day.  So I got another priceline room reserved at the Marriott and headed out.

I don’t know why but Ms. Garmin took me on every stupid 2-lane, windy county road thru Louisiana and Texas. And of course I ended up behind every logging truck out there.  You know what there is to see through LA and TX…??? Absolutely nothing. It was beyond boring!!!  And there was 6 hours of it!

I finally arrived in Houston just in time for rush hour traffic. Yay! Just what I wanted.  I had done a little research on the town to find out what there was to do, neighborhoods that might interest me and other tid bits.  From what I read Montrose was my kind of place so I headed over there for some dinner.  Even though Houston, like much of the Southeast, had been going through some severe heat waves that evening was actually quite pleasant as there was a hint of rain in the air.  So after dinner I decided that since I had been cooped up in the car all day I didn’t really want to go straight back to the hotel.  So instead I decided to go to a nearby park for an evening walk.  NO. It wasn’t Memorial Park as many people have asked me.  It was Tinsely Ellis Park just off of Allen Pkwy. for those familiar with the neighborhood.  There were loads of people out running, biking, walking their dogs and other normal park activities.  The park really was quite large with a small canal or lake in the middle of it.  As I was power walking my way around I looked up and noticed there was a rainbow arching right over the skyline.  It really was quite beautiful.  The air felt really pleasant with random sprinkles flirting that it may, or may not rain.  I saw several photography students out with their tripods taking pictures of the skyline and I wondered if they had caught that amazing rainbow.  As I walked the opposite side of the loop I looked over and saw my car and inspected it.  At first it looked to me like someone was looking inside of my car.  But then i realized it was just the garbage can beside it.  However it was starting to get dark so I picked up the pace feeling a sudden desire to be back inside my car.

The loop never seemed to end and I finally made my way back to where the car was parked.  Many of the cars that had been there when I arrived were gone, but there was still a handful remaining.  I can’t quite describe it, but when I was walking up to the car hitting the unlock button I did feel an anxious knot in my stomach.  I got in the car and looked to my right.  What I saw didn’t quite register with my brain. A giant hole in the window. Glass everywhere.  The last time I had a car broken into there was a gaping hole in the dashboard with wires dangling out.  But this time everything was still there.  I turned again looking at the window and then suddenly looked down in the floorboard….where my purse had been.  I looked again at the hole and the glass and suddenly the reality of the situation sank in and the strangest piercing scream came out of my body!  Not my mouth…my entire body screamed!  The kind of scream you feel come out your head, your eyes, out through your hands and shake through your legs.  I started pounding the steering wheel stammering “No no no no no no no no no no no!!!!!!!!!”  This was MY roadtrip!  The one I’ve been saving and planning for a year.  And this was my mother’s brand new car.  This was NOT happening!!

All of this probably took place over the span of 30 secs. but it felt like ages.  I saw headlights coming in my rear view window and bolted out of the car frantically waving them down.  The car pulled over and a window came down.  “My car’s just been broken into” I spat out.  I don’t quite remember what happened next. I know they pulled over and were instantly on the phone calling the police.  I think I paced around the car, still trying to grasp what was happening.  I got back in the car trying to take inventory of what happened, and that’s when things got weird for me.  I had put my purse in the floorboard, but covered it up with the hand towel down there like I always did for the Garmin.  That’s what was weird!  The Garmin was still there.  My ipod was still there. My camera was still covered up in the seat.  The only thing they had taken was my purse.  And then I thought what a stupid thing it was that I hadn’t taken my cell phone with me on the walk like I normally would have.

After we called the police I was talking with the couple and realized I should call the bank.  Luckily the woman also banked with Chase so she had the number.  They were telling me how they often came to this park and had never seen this happen there, but that there were quite a few hobos and it was probably one of them.  I had passed one on the way back to my car so I ran after him asking if he had seen anything but of course he was unhelpful.  After answering a million security questions from the bank I finally got access to my account.  She asked me what the last transaction was and I told her.  Then she asked me if I had been at the Exxon, or the Chevron, or another Chevron. Um, NO!  These were definitely NOT hobos.  The couple and I searched nearby garbage cans thinking they may have dumped the purse. Cos let’s be honest, it’s all the personal stuff in the purse that really sucks to lose.  All of my essential oils, my lip glosses.  The business card holder that had my name engraved on it, it was a graduation present from dear friends.  But more than anything it was the cell phone, with all of my private clients, long time friends & new friends stored inside.  And all of those favorite texts I had save, that made my heart melt and put a smile on my face.  It was my little day planner with so much information inside.  UGH!!  All of that!  This indeed really sucked!!!

The couple was so sweet.  They sat and sat with me and talked and tried to take my mind off things.  But how could I?  I felt so violated!  Someone had broken into ‘my’ car and touched my stuff!  And now they were running around town racking up hundreds of dollars at gas stations on my card.  UGH! My brand new driver’s license that I worked so hard to get.  Now once again I didn’t have one.  Then I started to worry about the fact that my check book was in there.  Or the fact that my hotel room key was in there.  Oh god! what if they when back to my room to steal more stuff.  But obviously they were lazy thieves or they could have gotten off with much more.  As I sat there waiting for the cops I started thinking about how lucky it was that I had taken my passport out of my purse after I got my license.  Anyone who knows me knows my p.p. is my most prized possession, with all those stamps and such.  And thank goodness this time they didn’t take my camera.  In fact my small point and shoot would’ve been in there except I had been taking pictures from the road that day.  So at least there was that.

We kept waiting and waiting for over an hour.  The woman commented on how the police station was only a few blocks away and how ridiculous it was that there wasn’t even a police car patrolling the park!  I felt bad that they were having to wait so long with me and only then started to notice that they had a young child in the back seat and that she was 6 months pregnant.  But they assured me that they would just be home watching t.v.  That was really sweet.  Millasenth (sp?) and Tecumsah.  I noted in the back of my head how ironic it seemed that a black man from the south would be named after the General of the Union Army that defeated them, he was just impressed that I was the first person who could actually pronounce it.  After nearly an hour and a half and still no police we called once again, told it hadn’t even been dispatched and asked if we could just drive over to the station ourselves.  Oh sure they said.  Well why didn’t they tell us that sooner we all wondered.  They said they would show me the way and I gave them both a huge hug.  As we drove out of the park Tecumsah saw more glass and pointed it out to me.

When we got to the police station the whole intake took about 5 minutes.  The police officer jotted my information down on a scrap piece of paper!  It felt so casual for something that to me was not!  But atleast I got my police report for insurance purposes.  Or rather I should say, I got a piece of paper with an incident number on it.  When we walked back to the car my angels gave me garbage bags to cover up the window with.  The drive back to the hotel was awful.  Glass kept falling and the sound pierced my heart each time.  The air and the sound of the highway being right inside the car with me was awful.  When I got back to the hotel I faced yet another challenge.  What in the world was I going to do with a car full of stuff with no window!  I spoke to the front desk about the situation and they called the security guy who helped me tape the garbage bag over the window and he told me I could leave the car right at the front door entrance so they could keep any eye on it.  That was something, but of course I still felt uneasy.  The hotel had free wifi in the lobby so I brought my laptop down there to e-mail everyone and keep an eye on the car.  Luckily I had taken my lap top out at the hotel right when I got there, so at least I had that.  I e-mailed everyone requesting phone numbers and quite frankly a little moral support.  I had called my mom twice from Milli’s phone but never been able to get a hold of her.  That was my number one concern.  Then I was anxiously thinking about all the other things I had to take care of in the morning.  The security guard told me there was a Chase bank only 2 blocks away that I could go to.  And that cell phones and these things can be replaced.  I knew he was right.  I was ok.  The car was basically ok.  That’s when I remembered the spare key my mom had given me and thought ‘WOW!’ I’m really glad I didn’t keep that key in my purse!!!  Yup, if I came back to find the car gone that most definitely would have been the end of the roadtrip!  One more thing to be thankful for.  I stayed downstairs until 2 AM  and then decided that I really should try to get atleast some sleep.  I slept with the lights on and ended up going downstairs to check on the car atleast 2 more times.  And finally at 7 AM I got up to face the challenges of the day.

First thing I had to take care of was the phone.  We got it turned off and ordered a new one.  Luckily I am visiting several good friends on this trip so I had addresses for things to be shipped.  “How would you like to pay for this?”  she asked me.  Well um, all my stuff was stolen and I no longer have any cards.  Can’t you just charge it to my account?  After talking with her supervisor she said they could since it was an ‘extenuating’ circumstance!  Well I should say so.  I had to wait until 9:00 to go to the bank and I was there at 8:55.  I walked into Judith’s office mainly because my car was parked right behind her and I could keep an eye on my window.  But honestly I believe there was some divine guidance because she turned out to be an absolute angel!  She had only been living in Houston for a month and told me she didn’t see herself living there long because of these sort of things.  She completely understood how I felt and printed out all my recent transactions so we could go thru it together.  She closed down my old account and opened a new one.  She made copies of my police report, She helped me fill out all of the credit bureau fraud reports. She let me use the phone to make calls.  And on and on and on.  “I want to make this as easy as possible for you” she told me.  Honestly, after going through a traumatic and violating experience, she was exactly what I needed.  She spent over an hour and a half with me getting all the in’s and out’s taken care of so that atleast I had peace of mind that my money and credit would be protected.  I will be forever grateful for her kindness and helpfulness.

After I finished up at the bank it was time to get the window replaced.  While sitting with the couple the night before I had asked them if they knew of a glass repair shop and in fact they had and gave me the name and address.  Luckily it wasn’t far and a guy at the bank had told me that that was the area to go to to get a good deal.  I drove up to Juan’s Autoglass and explained my situation and he said ‘no problem’.  An hour and a half later I had a new passenger’s window and it only cost $75!!  I couldn’t get over the price, or the quickness of it.  They had vacuumed up most of the glass, though I think I’ll be finding pieces for quite a while, but atleast it no longer had that fresh crime feel to it.

I stopped by the bank one last time to thank Judith once again and let her know I got my window fixed….and that I would never come back to Houston again!  I was on the road to Galveston to meet up with some long time friends and extremely grateful for it.

As awful as the situation was, it could have been SO much worse!!!  And I met some incredibly kind and helpful people along the way.  Let’s hope that’s as bad as it gets!!