Category Archives: Travels

My Travel Blog


Walking through the Norris Geyser at Yellowstone National Park, found selfie-snappers more interesting than bubbling springs.

Instead of geysers, I snapped selfie snappers. Here’s my favorite- ‘millenial with tiny bear’. Didn’t want to look like a creep or stalker (using my big, loud Nikon), so no time for proper focus.

What are they thinking?  More snaps of selfies coming.


Never expected this.  Camping tonight, accidentally, at a campground especially for ‘sand’ jockeys. This was a surprising introduction to an American sub-culture I had no idea existed.  Some of these dune buggies cost $35,000+ (but used ones- probably for sale after their previous owner broke his back– can be had for just a couple thousand).
Got into a conversation with these two guys.  When I admitted I’d never been on a ride, they insisted I try it.  In my younger years I would have relished it.  This time, I hesitated, but said yes– for art’s sake.

The amazing location is St. Anthony’s Sand Dunes Nat Park in St. Anthony, ID. It has about 11,000 acres with some dunes rising 400 feet at 80+ degree angles.  The folks have souped up dune buggies, noisy as hell. Reminds me of Saudi Arabia– but in the middle of Idaho? There are drivers in their 60s and pre-teens, running up and down the hills like demons. Harley riders and NASCAR drivers frequent the place. You have to love the sound of screaming internal combustion engines to handle the place.   Ends at 10 pm thank god. Some carry buggies for kids and adults– 4 in a huge trailer pulled by their huge RV.

I didn’t expect to sleep much, but it had been a long day to the middle of nowhere, but I had no idea.   It was one of the most insane, scariest thing’s I’d ever done.  No video or photo will capture it.

I think I was the highlight of these two fellows trip.  As I screamed like a little girl with a spider in her hair, while holding on for dear life, sure I’d only get out of there in an ambulance, they laughed so hard they could have pissed themselves.  Was happy to make their day, I think.  I’m not in a rush to do it again, but appreciated their friendliness and generosity.  While I was still shaking after the ride, they assured me mine was a baby ride, and I should try the big boy’s ride next.  Maybe later.

Welcome to the USA!!


Stumbled on this scene outside Batesville, in northern Mississippi. Batesville, you probably already know is the namesake and home of the Batesville Casket Company, America’s largest coffin producer– for more than 100 years!  I’ve seen their delivery trucks across the USA.   Sadly, they don’t offer factory tours– I asked.

This inspiring piece of sculpture is found on old US 278 between Tupelo (Elvis’ birthplace) and Clarksdale, MS (Clapton’s ‘Crossroads’), two notable towns located in the AMERICANA MUSIC TRIANGLE. — bet you didn’t know about that either!



I don’t know what this was all about, at the top of Beartooth Mountain, in Montana, just over the Wyoming border.


Homemade donut shops are a big thing in the rural West. If a deteriorating town along the back roads has any business, it’s probably a donut shop. And not a squeaky clean and bright national chain like Krispy Kreme or Dunkin’ Donuts, but usually in an abandoned laundromat or ex-burger joint. I’d been driving past them for a week.

After my night camping in Goodlett, Texas, I stopped at my first—for coffee. It was dark and empty of people except the clerk. Surprisingly, he was a Cambodian. He explained to me, in a still thick Asian accent that his aunt in New Orleans owned the shop, and he managed it. His one employee came in at 2am to make the donuts, then left by 9am. He came in at 6am to run the counter. He could make the donuts, but didn’t like it, and certainly did not like coming in at 2am. Most Western donut shops close at 2pm, his favorite thing about the job.

I wondered how he felt, being in this lost place, so different from his home. He told me there were maybe 4 Cambodians in the town, and he missed home. He urged me to visit Cambodia because it was so lush and beautiful. Quite unlike the dry and barren Texas panhandle.

A car beeped at the drive-up window. It must have been a regular customer, because the manager handed her a ready-made box, the size of a giant pizza, with at least 2 dozen donuts of different colors, toppings, stuffings and shapes. I asked him if he ate donuts.

“No, they’re very unhealthy. Asians eat fresh vegetables; healthy food. Americans eat the wrong things, they only eat food from cans, no fresh vegetables. So they’re fat and sick.”

“Well, I’d say you’re contributing to that aren’t you?” I asked.
“I don’t care, they eat what they want, but they should know better.”

I paid for my coffee, and he handed me a neatly folded paper bag. “Something for your trip,” he said with a smile.

It was six glazed donut holes. I thanked him with a smile and wished him the best. Out in the van, I tasted one. Greasy, sickly sweet, gummy. I pulled into the Walmart at the edge of town—the one that had obliterated most of the local businesses on Main St. I needed a bottle of super-strength bug remover for my windshield—a necessity after a couple days of deep South driving. The donut holes, despite the kindness of the donut man, I  slipped quietly into the trash bin out front.



Childress, Texas again. I pulled into Walmart, for extra-strength bug scrub. Walmart was the whole ball game for Childress, judging from all the sad and empty storefronts on Main Street—the is the brave new world of America. My normal windshield washer fluid barely got me through the buggy tropics of Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Now in the dry Texas desert scrub lands, it was time for a deep scrub with the right stuff.

I try to park the van far out in big box parking lots– with the work trucks. This time I spotted a pooch next to me.   Where I come from, you don’t tie up a dog and ride around with it on a flatbed truck.   Suburban dog lovers would pitch a fit, and call the cops.  This fella had sweet eyes, wagged its tail, didn’t bark. It looked right into my eyes, hoping to make a friend.  Damn it.

Should I open the side door to the van, grab a kitchen knife, cut the rope, and let it jump in? It was just five feet. It could be done in seconds. I’d give it a dish of cool water, and a ham slice from the fridge. It could be my travelling companion,  seeing the country from a soft van seat. It could hike with me in the cool Carolina mountains, chase squirrels up actual trees and splash in creeks to its heart’s content. No more hot deserts, rattlesnakes, or prickly cactus. I’d be a hero and have a loyal pal for the rest of the trip.

But Texans have guns, and some unshakable convictions. This fellow’s owner might not agree with Eastern ideas of animal liberation—or in his cowboy view, rustling.

I might at least toss my new friend one of the donut holes I’d recently acquired as a gift from the local donut shop—but no, not even that.

This was a working dog. It must be fine on its bed of leather straps and dusty ropes. Its life was on the ranch with his master, setting out cow licks and feed and such. In the mornings, it probably couldn’t wait to jump in the truck for whatever desert adventure might come that day.  So, I just took a picture to share a view of the different country of Texas. Damn it.



Salmon Lake Primitive Campground, Rogerson, Idaho

This is a typical view from a ‘primitive’ campground on Salmon Creek Lake, just outside the tiny, mostly abandoned crossroads town of Rogerson, Southern Idaho, a very lonely place.

Primitive campgrounds are very spare– sometimes not even a level parking pad, usually a common water spigot and pit toilet.  It never has electric.  For these reasons, you won’t find the herds of  bus-sized RVs that populate average brightly-lit commercial campgrounds that require hookups for electric, water, and sewer, as well as 75 ft. long paved pads that don’t require backing up.  Luxury and primitive don’t mix.  I prefer primitive.

Road to Salmon Lake Primitive Campground– kind of quiet.

Because of the quiet, primitive campgrounds generally have wildlife.  Small groups of deer are common, so are foxes, coyotes, and raccoons.  I stepped on my first snake in the West here. It was a little rattler, maybe a foot long. I jumped 2 ft in the air, and it scurried away.

I didn’t worry about it, but friends told me young snakes are more dangerous, because they shoot more venom when they bite.  It made me watch my step very carefully for the rest of the trip.   The biggest commotion was swallows diving and soaring on the shore. A pair of robins fussed at me, because their nests were under the picnic table shelter.

I didn’t see a structure or street light for at least 20 miles.  The only sounds were the wind and the birds. Nearing sunset, the temperature dropped into the 60s. Unbelievable clean air. Time to put on a jacket and contemplate the universe.

There was not a cloud in the sky, very new moon– my best chance yet on the trip to see stars. I woke up at about 3:3o AM and stepped outside. It was astonishing.

I’d never seen the entire Milky Way before.  It etched a path from horizon to horizon. It looked like a consciously built, detailed structure, and was actually unsettling, like I was in a cage, a tiny, forgotten thing in the universe.  And this was still just a small portion of the Milky Way.

The earth feels so insignificant under that sky.  More insignificant are it’s petty squabbles, which  are the product of an  ”intelligent” species that has evolved to live in the delusion that it is important under this staggering sky.

 Human civilization has been around for 10,000 years.  It developed the ability to destroy itself, and most living things less than 100 years ago.  Difficult to conceive how it will sustain in this 5 billion year old universe.  With those disturbing thoughts, I went back to sleep in the comfy van.

In the morning, after a walk through the scrub,  I headed out for more Idaho.
In Rogerson, there was a convenience store with gas pumps and little diner, so I stopped in for breakfast.  I had very nice chats with the proprietor/cook and a local resident who had traveled much of the world,  but returned here for the peace and quiet.  This was the only business for 50 miles in either direction, so there you go.  The proprietor gave me a book about the spirituality of travel– she had traveled much.

Rogerson Cafe, during breakfast rush. Plenty of time to chat.

As usual, the goodbyes were brief.  I knew we were just passing through, and didn’t even bother giving each other our names.  No point.  Just living in the moment, which is a wonderful thing about living on the road.

Cafe breakfast– local bacon and egg. Homemade sour dough toast. The best.



Nights on the road:

1 Tues 5/23
Davidson, NC-
Lebannon, TN Cedars of Lebanon SP

2 Wed 5/24
Mussel Shoals, AL
Belden, MS Deer Run Eagle Ridge Trace State Park

3 Thu 5/25
Clarksdale, MS Natchez, MS NATCHEZ State Park

4 Fri5/26
L’Acadie Inn &RV Park  Eunice, LA

5 Sat 5/27
Eunice, LA L’Acadie Inn

6 Sun 5/28
Denton, Texas Fairmont Suites Hotel
Outside Dallas; Parks way too hot for camping

7 Mon 5/29
Goodlett, Texas Old Cotton Gin RV Park

8  Tu 5/30
Amarillo, TX La Quinta Hotel
Instead of Capulet and Paulo Duro State Parks-
too hot, crowded, and attacking ants!

9 Wed 5/31
Raton, NM Sugarite Canyon SP

10 Thur 6/1
Trinidad, CO  Trinidad Lake SP

11 Fri 6/2 Louisville, CO

12 Sa 6/3 Louisville, CO

13 Su 6/4
Louisville, CO
AM – grocery supplies – Alfalfa’s
PM – drive to Glenwood Springs, CO



Drove today from the Black Hills of South Dakota to the Pine Ridge Lakota Sioux Reservation, via the Bandlands Nat. Park. My van parked for the evening in a field behind a Lakota-owned restaurant and motel in the middle of the reservation.

Prairie thunderstorm raging outside. I’m on high ground, but a ranger today said yesterday, several trucks were blown over in the Interstate. Not much wind. The photo below is of a ruined building is in the ghost town (real) of Scenic, SD., a few miles from the reservation border.

Alcohol is forbidden on the reservation, so little places like this can still be found in a few places near the reservation border– luring natives over for just one little drinkie. White Clay Nebraska, just over the SD line is a thorn in the side of the reservation, but the tribal government can do nothing.  Nebraska enjoys substantial tax revenue from alcohol sales to native-Americans. When implored to close that store. the Nebraska legislature says, no… ‘it’s a free country- don’t tell us what to do!’

US history is filled with hatred of the native populations.  Many immigrants thought the native peoples were savages and vermin that needed total extermination to allow Christian European theft, exploitation, and ultimately destruction of the pristine lands where natives had lived  and prospered 6,000 years.  There are still numerous signs of friction, bitterness, and exploitation between white immigrants and natives  today.  But all the natives I met were friendly, helpful, open, and easy-going.

I’d like to go back.  And they asked me to.