My World and Welcome to It!

These are my thoughts and opinions about life in general. I also get daily prompts from DSP which inspire me to write. If I throw in some scrapbook pages I've done, photos I've taken, and stories about me, you will have an idea about my loony life!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Racism is Not Dead

On my travels, I found out that racism is alive and well at the Super 8 in Malvern, Arkansas. I have to admit that this embarrassed and infuriated me because I had hoped in this day and time that society has gotten past this behavior. There have been some little instances in the past that I felt this way but nothing I could say was as blatant as this situation. I was discriminated against at the Super 8 in Malvern, Arkansas one evening when we tried to get a room. I checked the price of the room by phone and on the website and the room was available for $59.99. We decided to just go in person since we were right there but when I walked in, the desk clerk saw me and said it would be $69.99. When I told her about the phone and online price, she told me that the price for the room was $69.99 and that was it. I went back to my car and checked by phone and online again, and the price from both sources was still $59.99. I guess when the clerk saw I was a minority, the price went up.

I sent an email letter of complaint to the Super 8 home offices and they responded to me by email stating that "Super 8 does not own or operate or control this facility" but since they let them use their name I guess they condone discrimination. The motel did call me after they received my complaint and left a message saying that it had been Memorial Day weekend and that is why the rate was higher because the rates were subject to change (I guess she meant after she saw whether I was a minority or not) but if I booked it online or by phone, they were not subject to change. I could still book it at a lower rate by phone or online but I guess the lower rate applied because they didn't see that I was a minority. There could be no other excuse other than flat out discrimination. I was afraid to book it online or by phone at that time because of retribution by the clerk when she found out I got it at a lower price so we left. I felt so degraded and disgusted.

I feel that Super 8 should ensure that customers are not discriminated against by all facilities bearing their name and if that facility does indeed discriminate against minorities, make them remove the Super 8 name. I hope you will keep this in mind when you are considering where you want to spend the night when you are traveling.

Photo credit: racism by roger g1

Friday, May 30, 2008

Favorite Historical Monument

Blog Prompt: On May 30, 1922, The Lincoln Memorial is dedicated today in Washington, D C, by Chief Justice William Howard Taft. What is your favorite historical monument and why?

We go to Washington DC about 3 times a year for meetings and love seeing all the monuments and Smithsonian museums but I think my favorite monument is the Korean War Memorial. The bronze figures are so lifelike and I can feel the pain, the exhaustion, and the determination when I walk through this. I like all the other monuments too but I think the figures get the message across to me better in this monument than the others. We are getting ready to go back to DC next week and I can’t wait to see what new exhibits will be there because I will have one day free before my meetings start.

Photo credit: Korean War Memorial In Washington DC by japi14

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Space Shuttle Travel

Blog Prompt: On May 29, 1996, Space Shuttle STS 77 (Endeavour 11), lands. Would you want to take a ride on the Space Shuttle? Why or why not?

No, I would not like to go into space. I’m okay with looking at space and watching the stars but I don’t have any desire to strap my body in a vessel that goes faster than the speed of anything and could blow me up into smithereens to go somewhere I know does not have enough oxygen for me to breathe without a machine. I’m not an explorer and do not want to go where “no man has gone before.” I have no problem letting other people go and do this for many years before I would even think about doing this. I guess I’m glad planes have been flying for many years before I ever got one. If I die before I ever get to ride in one I will be okay with that.

Photo credit: Space Shuttle Discovery approaches ISS for docking [1680x1050] by Top Tech Writer. US.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Fashion Ban

DSP blog prompt: On May 28 1923, the Attorney General says it is legal for women to wear trousers anywhere. Describe a certain fashion that you wished would be illegal to wear.

This was an easy one for me: The Whale’s Tail. For those of you who haven’t taught high school girls or been around some of them lately, I have seen the girls in school with this fashion and it is not pretty. The girls wear a bright colored thong (underwear) under pants that are usually low on the hips (we used to call them hip huggers years ago). Many times these pants are usually lighter color than the thongs so the thongs can be seen totally. Since the waistband is so low, the thongs stick up in the back so it looks like a “whale’s tail.” And the girls think this is sexy. I think it is about as sexy as sagging pants look sexy on guys.

Photo credit: killer whale 3 by andybvrs

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I'm the First Person...

DSP blog prompt: On May 27, 1997, the first all female (20 British women) team reaches North Pole. If you could be the first person to reach somewhere, where would it be? What would it be like?

I would want to be the first person to reach an ideal forest at the top of a mountain. In this forest there are no poisonous insects or snakes. It would be full of blooming wildflowers of all different colors, especially lady slippers (because my husband really likes them!). Surrounding the base of the trees would be beautiful green feathery ferns. I would be able to hear the birds flitting through the trees and singing happily as they travel from branch to branch. All year long the sun would be shining and the temperature would be cool but not cold. There would be a hiking trail that wanders through the wildflowers so you could get close to them to get good pictures and to smell them. This closeness would also enable you to see the hummingbirds as the move from flower to flower.

Photo credit: hemlock forest by wade franklin

Monday, May 26, 2008

Four States in One Day 5/25/08

Yesterday we went through Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. I’m kind of excited because I can tell we are getting closer to home. I’m having a great time but there is something great about feeling that things are more familiar even if it is the humidity and the heat.

Up early this morning to get to Graceland by the time they opened at 9am. We paid $8 to park in Graceland parking only to find out later that we could have parked in the parking lot next door where the Private Presley museum was for free. We followed the blue awnings to the ticket booth and bought our tickets for the Platinum tour ($32 and then we got a AAA discount). This got us into the Mansion, the Car Museum, The Jumpsuit Museum, the Planes, and the Private Presley museum. All of this took us about 3 hours and by then I had enough of Elvis. I was really surprised that the mansion wasn’t more glitzy and opulent than it was. The clips of interviews, movies, and shows were really entertaining and brought back great memories so I really enjoyed this trip and would recommend others to go to Graceland but my husband disagrees and wouldn’t recommend it.

We looked for a barbecue place but they were so out of the way from where we are going that we gave up and saved it for another time. We ended up eating at a Taco Bell for lunch which wasn’t bad since our whole meal came to under $10.

We were headed to Atlanta through Birmingham and planned on spending the night in Atlanta. We hoped to visit the Jimmy Carter library but when we got to Atlanta, we both looked at each other and agreed that we wanted to go home. We only live 2 hours away from Atlanta and can go there on a day trip so we decided to save it for another day. We finally arrived home around midnight and it felt so good to sleep in my own bed!

Memorial Day 5/26/08

DSP Blog prompt: Today we celebrate Memorial Day in the US. Did you have any family members who served our country in the Armed Forces. Let us know so we can remember them.

My father served in World War II and talks about being in Africa and Italy. My husband, cousin and brother in law served during the Vietnam War. All the ones listed above are still living.

My husband’s father served during WWII. My husband’s uncle served in Korean War and Vietnam War and retired from the Navy after many years. Both of them have passed away.

Photo credit: US Flag by Howdy, I’m H. Michael Karshis

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Arkansas/Tennessee 5/24/08

This morning we went to the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock. It only cost $7 and we spent about 4 hours there. I was amazed how much I learned about the Clintons and how it has changed my feelings towards them. I think this library humanized them and I got to learn about them on a more personal level. The museum store was not at the library and we took a shuttle to the store in the pouring rain. In fact, it was raining so hard, we stopped under the underpass until the rain let up. I ended up buying a DVD showing the Clinton’s humor and some skits they did that practically had me rolling on the floor. I don’t know any other president that felt as comfortable laughing at themselves. We had lunch in the Café 42 which was a buffet that cost about $10 per person.

We left there to go to Memphis, TN and didn’t seem to have good luck. We tried a few hotels only to find out that they were sold out. We finally tried a Motel 6 on Pauline St. that didn’t feel very safe. In fact, we both had that gut feeling that it wasn’t a safe place to stay so I got a refund and we left about 5 minutes after checking in. We decided that we weren’t meant to visit Memphis when we passed a Scottish Inn on the way out of town and decided to try one last time. We got a room for $60 and the room was pretty big and nice…and safe feeling. When I asked where we should go to eat, the desk clerk immediately stressed that we should go to Beale St. He even drew a map and showed us where to park (on Union St, pass the “Lit” store and go into King Scott Parking Lot for $10) only the lot was full. So we turned the corner and got the next lot for the same price. It so happens that the lot was right at the start of Beale St. so we were in a perfect spot.

We walked down Beale St. and listened to music when I decided I was hungry. We found the Rendezvous restaurant which was an alley off Union near the Peabody hotel but the line was so long (hours wait) that we ended up at Hooters. After 20 wings and a pitcher of beer, we went and listened to more music. All in all, it turned out to be a fun night!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Arkansas 5/23/08

We decided in the morning to go on the train ride out of Van Buren. Since we had to wait an hour before leaving we strolled around the antique stores downtown which was a lot of fun and people were quite friendly. The train ride actually turned out better than I expected even though it cost us $30 per person. Before the train arrived I actually met a principal of an elementary school in Texas who going on the same trip as us and we had a great talk before we left. The ride took 3 hours round trip and went up to Winslow, which looked like a ghost town. The best part of the trip was the conductor who was quite entertaining. Hardly anyone was in our car so he was able to spend some time talking to all of us individually. When my husband asked about where the cars came from and what kind of shape they were in, the conductor took us to another car to see the photos of what it looked like before they were restored.

When we left there we headed towards Hot Springs along the scenic route that the welcome center lady suggested (I-40 to Exit 35 to 23 to 309 to 10 to 7 to Hot Springs). It was an okay route but if I had to get to Hot Springs, I would just take the interstate or major highway instead of this scenic route. Of course it took us over Mt. Magazine which is Arkansas’s highest point and was socked in fog when we drove through there.

I’m glad we got to Hot Springs National Park because we can mark it off our list of national parks to visit but I wouldn’t go out of the way to visit there. The town looked like a Gatlinburg, TN kind of tourist area. There was a 3 1/2/ mile one way loop road that lead to the top of the mountain to a tower. There were also some overlooks to admire the scenery and look down on the area. After driving around the park and looking at the sites, we headed towards Malvern, Arkansas to find a place to sleep.

Before arriving, I checked online for Super 8 rates and availability at the Malvern, Arkansas location and the website said $59.99. When I walked into the lobby at 8pm on 5/23/08, the woman there tells me that it is $69.99. When I asked if there were any AAA or AARP rates, she said that was those rates. I feel that she said this because she looked at me and saw that I was Asian and she was discriminating against me. I went back out to the car and called the toll free number to check the rates at this location and I was told that there was a room available and it was $59.99. Obviously the phone operator could not tell what race I was so the rate did not change. When I asked if there was an AAA or AARP rate, the operator said it would be around $54. After being discriminated against, we drove across the street to an America's Best Value Inn and was thrilled to find that the same room we were asking for at Super 8 was actually cheaper than Super 8’s online rate and only cost us $55. When we got in our room, I connected to the internet and sent Super 8 a complaint giving them the date, time, location and the whole story and I felt much better. So, it was a happy ending after all!

My Favorite Bread

Blog prompt: This week is National Bread Week. Describe your favorite bread.

I have never really been fond of bread at all. If there is mayonnaise on it, it tends to stick to the roof of my mouth when I eat a sandwich and I hate that feeling. I don’t like hard bread like hard rolls or French bread. If I get soup in a sourdough bowl, I eat the insides but not the outside. I guess if I had to choose bread I would eat yeast rolls but only if they are soft and hot. My husband has convinced me to eat wheat bread when I order toast with breakfast and I will make sandwiches at home out of wheat bread because that is all we have. If I order a hamburger from someplace that is not fast food, I usually take it off the bun and eat the meat. I used to try to order the hamburger without the bun, but they usually mess up the order. I think I’m not a bread eater because I grew up eating rice ever day and not bread unless it was to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Photo credit: easter-bread-3 by dolescum

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Oklahoma and Arkansas 5/22/08

Today was better than yesterday. We went to the Oklahoma City Memorial and it was a heart wrenching place to see. The empty chairs which represent all of the 168 people who died in the bombing really got me choked up. The smaller chairs represented the children that died. Each chair was positioned to represent the floor that they were on when they died plus five chairs for the people that died outside. There was a reflecting pool where the street used to be in front of the federal building and 2 gates on each side with the minute before the bomb and the minute after the bomb. If you ever get to see it, it is pretty moving. We didn’t go into the museum because I just didn’t think I could handle any more depressing thoughts after seeing the memorial so we moved on east.

We did stop in a cute town called Checotah, OK with antique stores and Don was happy finding postcards. I finally bought a couple of books and sat outside on a bench reading and listening to my Ipod. We ate at a cute restaurant called Junes and the waitresses’ shirts read: Love, Peace, and Chicken Grease – June’s restaurant. I had a steak fingers plate which included fries, corn and a salad. Don had something called cowboy stew which he really enjoyed.

After stopping at the Arkansas visitor center, the lady talked us into taking a 3 hr. train ride in Van Buren, then shopping at antique stores in Ft. Smith so we got a hotel room in Ft. Smith. After driving around, we realized that we had made a big mistake. We never did find any antique stores in Ft. Smith and the train ride is $30 per person so we will get up in the morning and head out of town. I’m not sure I trust anything that lady said any more. We did end up going to Ft. Smith National Historic Site which I had never heard of before. It became a famous place about Judge Parker (called the Hanging Judge) in the 1800s and he brought law and order to the west (according to the signs). He sentenced over 160 people to hang here. Here is a picture of the gallows.

I think we will head down a scenic highway towards Hot Springs National Park which I don’t think will take a lot of time. I hope to get some good pictures though. Then we will head towards Little Rock and the Clinton Presidential Library. We have been averaging about 3 hours in each of the Presidential libraries so far so I’m interested in seeing how long this will take.


Blog prompt: On May 22, 1892 Dr Washington Sheffield invents toothpaste tube. What is your favorite toothpaste and why? Do you just squeeze the tube or do you roll up the bottom?

I like using Crest mint gel and I definitely roll up the bottom of the tube. My husband likes to use the toothpaste that is actually paste but I hate that. I also hate when my hubby borrows my toothpaste and then squeezes it in the middle. Of course I should be glad that he uses it! lol

photo credit: dollar store toothpaste by rollerboogie

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Texas/Oklahoma 5/21/08

We had a bad start to a day today. After breakfast, we were headed out of Amarillo about 20 miles when I realized my cell phone was missing. We drove all the way back to find it in our hotel room (thank goodness for the honesty of the maid!). Of course we were both in a bad mood after that.
The only pictures I took were the Leaning Water Tower in Groom, TX (mentioned in the Route 66 book). We did make a stop for almost 2 hours at an antique store before we got to Oklahoma City and Don found some antique postcards. There was a lot of neat stuff but their prices were high. I don’t even know what town we were in.

About 4:30 we arrived in Oklahoma City because I had a 6:00 conference call for Council for Exceptional Children. While I was on that 90 minute phone call, Don washed 2 loads of wash at the hotel laundry. Now we are just relaxing and hope that tomorrow will be a better day.

My Favorite Shoes and a Blackout

Tuesday’s Blog prompt: On May 20, 1310, shoes were made for both right & left feet (and we thank you)! Describe your favorite pair of shoes.

I used to always wear my Reebok tennis shoes (princess) but for the past few times, they have been falling apart soon after wearing them so now I switched to these Easy Spirit tennis shoes and I love them. Now that I’m no longer working, I wear them every day when it is cool outside or I will be doing a lot of walking. I’m glad I bought 2 pair when they were “buy 2 get 1 half price” at the time. In the summer I usually wear my Teva sandals that are probably over 10 years old. They are wearing down too and I will probably need a new pair soon.

Wednesday’s Blog prompt: On May 21, 1996, there was a blackout in many areas of Queens NY. Tell what activities you would do if we had a blackout tonight.

Since I couldn’t read or crochet, I would use my laptop until the battery gave out. Then I would probably listen to my Ipod until I fell asleep. I really hate the dark so I would make sure my husband was close by the entire time and as soon as I could, I would go to sleep and hope that morning comes soon along with the daylight.

Arizona-New Mexico-Texas 5/20/08

We left early this morning because Don woke up pretty sick and he couldn’t sleep or breathe. We didn’t know if it was the air quality or if he was coming down with something so he used his inhaler. He hates to use this because it makes him jittery and irritable. I drove for the first half of the day because he fell asleep in the car which I think helped.

We stopped in Winslow, Arizona because I wanted to see the “Standing On the Corner” park that I missed when we came through the first time. The song by the Eagles made this corner famous and I can’t believe I missed it (because I didn’t know about it until my Twitter friends told me about it).

The next stop we made was right before the New Mexico line near Lupton, AZ at a store called Cheez. Don found a bunch of old postcards he liked and I bought 2 turquoise rings set in sterling silver for under $35. I had been looking for a ring but never found one that I liked so I’m glad we stopped here.

Then we finally made it to Amarillo and I found out that it was 2 hours later than what I thought it was because I forgot about the time change. We got to the Big Texan restaurant around 9:30 and we had great prime rib. Our meal came to about $50.

Monday, May 19, 2008

California/Arizona 5/19/08

We left Visalia, CA this morning and had a hard time deciding what to do next. We could either go east to Universal Studios or go west towards Las Vegas. After much thought, we ended up doing neither and decided to head towards home. We remembered that we wanted to stop in some towns on the way home and couldn’t on the way west because we had to be at the Grand Canyon at a certain time. This time I hope we stop in Oklahoma City to see the memorial and then Amarillo, TX to eat at this famous steak restaurant, and then Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas.

So, we get in the car and head east across the Mojave Desert and the outside temperature got up to 117 degrees. We stopped in Boron, CA for lunch and it was so hot that it took your breath away. It was so hot that we didn’t even want to stop anywhere or do anything so we ended up in Flagstaff, AZ for the night. I hope tomorrow is cooler.
Blog prompt: On May 19, 1896, the fiirst automobile (Benz) arrived in Netherlands. Describe the first automobile you ever owned.

My sister bought a brand new 1970 Chevy Malibu that was red and I inherited it when she passed away. I was only in tenth grade so at the time I didn’t even have a license. My father drove the car until I got my license and then we shared the car. As a high school senior, I was allowed to drive to school but I really didn’t have the money for gas so I usually didn’t drive. When I went away to college, we weren’t allowed to have cars as a freshman so my father drove the car that year too. The next year we drove 2 cars from New York to South Carolina and I had my car with me. By now the car is 8 years old. I drove the car the entire time I was in college and even after I got married in 1982. We had the car for another 5 years after that before we finally sold it and bought a new car. They don’t make cars like that anymore because this was built like a tank. At one time a man backed into the front of my car and there wasn’t a scratch on my car but really messed up his station wagon.

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks 5/18/08

What wonderful parks Kings Canyon and Sequoia are! I love these because they are so much less congested than Yosemite and have awesome views too. At the first Visitor Center (I think Grant Village), they said there were campsites available but I was afraid we would be at the other end of the park when night time came and it would take us 3 hours to get back to our campsite. We first hiked to General Grant which is a huge sequoia.

Then we drove towards the Roads End. The Kings River looked angry and mean but I guess it is because of the raging melting waters from the snow. I wanted to pull off at every wide spot to look at the river and I know Don was probably getting aggravated with me, but he never complained. Then we got to Cedar Grove only to find out the snack bar was closed even though it was 12:00 and the newspaper we got from the entrance station said they were open until 2:00 for lunch. We drove to Grizzly Falls and had lunch which consisted of Triscuits and canned squeeze cheese and fresh cherries and strawberries we bought off the side of the road this morning.

Next we drove down to Hume’s Lake and headed towards Lodgepole Visitor Center. We also saw a movie about Bears in Sequoia. While we were there, I overhead a man tell the lady at the desk he saw a mother bear and 2 cubs so I had to ask where. I was surprised that they were right out behind the Visitor Center so we went to look. The girl said she wasn’t supposed to say anything so I kept it quiet too. They just ignored us and we were far enough away not to pose a threat.

Then we left there and headed to General Sherman (the largest living tree). That was pretty neat too except it was downhill pretty far and then back uphill to the car. Next we went to Tunnel Log where you can drive your car through a log. Thanks to my wonderful husband, he spots a bear right on the side of the road. I took lots of neat photos of him and hope my little video comes out so I can post it on YouTube when I get home. Last we went to Morro Rock and that was awesome! I walked the 400 steps to the stop but Don only made it halfway. The views were fantastic!

By now the sun is preparing to set and we have to hunt for a place to stay. We get to the town of Visalia, CA when we spot a place to rest our heads. Now it is time to rest before another day of adventures. My husband says that after this “epic journey” he is going on vacation and take a cruise! lol

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Yosemite National Park 5/17/08

We had a glorious day in Yosemite National Park today! We did some hikes to Bridal Veil Falls and Lower Yosemite Falls. We also rode the shuttle around the whole route to see the whole park and that is a good deal since the shuttle is free. The weather was quite warm and perfect for hiking in this area. The waterfalls were so fall from all the snow that is melting that they were just so awesome to see. We also got to go to Glacier Point and that was my favorite place in the whole park. We could see up the whole valley and the waterfalls that we hiked to today. I also saw Half Dome which is a 17 mile round trip hike involving cables so I know this is something that I will probably never do. We also went to see the Ahwahnee and Wawona hotels. They were a little too fancy for my taste. The BBQ dinner at Wawona was about $21 per person and I know that I couldn’t eat that much. The rooms were around $190 if you wanted to have your own bathroom.

Incident at Yosemite

Yesterday while in Yosemite National Park, we drove into a parking space only to have this woman jump in front of our car, put her hand up to tell us to stop because she wanted this space. Now, keep in mind that we are halfway in the space now. In order to move to another space, we would have to back out. Of course the stubbornness in us now has taken over like an alien possessing our bodies. We totally refuse to move. Then she calls over her two small children about 8 and 5 to come to her and then she sits them in front of our front bumper of the car. My husband turns off the car because we are afraid it will lurch (even if we tried to back out) and injure the children. Her husband arrives in his car and asks if there is a problem so my husband says yes, this lady is in front of our car. Then the man asks if we own that space! The lady says she has all the time in the world and my husband tells her that we are retired and probably have more time than she does. Finally, they move away and we finish parking.

Now I know that we probably could have handled it a different way but I see this a form of bullying and refused to give in. I felt like others probably had and that is why she thought she could do this. What an example she set for her children! Plus I felt she endangered them by sitting them in front of a car that was still running. It is no wonder that children are growing up to think bullying is okay if they see their parents doing this. What will happen when her children decide they want something that someone else has? Does this given them the right to say, "Stop! I want that so I should get it!"?

You know how you think later of all the things you should have/could have done? I wish I had taken a movie of it and told her that I would put it on youtube! I also wish I had told the husband that possession was 9/10ths of the law and we had possession of the space! Maybe we should just have backed out and moved on. I don't know but it was a messy unfortunate incident for all.

Nevada/California 5/16/08

I am writing this as we prepare for bed in our teepee. Yes, I said teepee. We are staying in Groveland, CA outside of Yosemite National Park in a teepee. What an adventure!

We left Reno this morning and stopped at the Nevada Train Museum (I’m not sure what town that was) and then continued on to South Lake Tahoe which was beautiful scenery. Only the homes there looked very expensive. We continued on to Yosemite National Park when we passed this place and decided to book a home for the night before we went into the park. I’m glad we did because when we came back this way, everything pretty much had “no vacancy” signs up. We ate dinner at the little pizza joint across the street. I can’t believe how warm and humid it feels because I expected to be colder. It is about 80 degrees right now at 9:30pm.

We went to Yosemite and saw the waterfalls all around as the snow begins the great meltdown. This is the perfect time for seeing the waterfalls. There was some construction going on where 140 and 120 meet but the 30 minute delay gave me time to take lots of photos. It was pretty congested most of the way so I can’t imagine what it is like during the peak part of the season.
Well, it is time for me to say an Indian goodnight and go to sleep in my teepee!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Nevada 5/15/08

Today was an easy going day. We got up early and drove to Virginia City. Of course since we are early birds, nothing was open yet and we walked around until the stores opened at 10am. This reminded me of a smaller “Gatlinburg” or “Chimney Rock” that we go to on the east coast. It sure looks a lot different than it did 17 years ago. The most exciting/awful thing happened when a little old lady fell from the sidewalk and stopped herself with her face into a car. Her nose looked broken and I felt so bad for her. The boardwalk through town was uneven and tough for elderly so I don’t know if she tripped on a board or slid off the side but at least she didn’t break an arm, leg, or hip. The other lady with her got her into the passenger seat of the car and they left. Then we found out there was a train ride at 11:20 and it was the only ride for the day so we went on a 35 minute train ride on the Virginia & Truckee Railroad for $8 per person.

When we left Virginia City, we headed to Carson City. Before we left this morning I downloaded podcasts called Talking Houses that told about historical places in Carson City. Then we went to a casino to eat a buffet lunch. We aren’t big gamblers so we just looked at the casinos and didn’t spend anything there. When we left there, we headed back to Reno and walked around the casinos. Finally we went to the Copper Ledge in Cal-Neva Casino to eat a prime rib dinner for $8.95 and it was delicious!

The Credit Card and the New Teacher

Tuesday’s blog prompt: On May 13, 1950 Diner's Club issues its first credit cards. How do you feel about credit cards?

After I graduated college I got my first credit card. As a first year teacher I had very little money so I used my credit card which had a $5000 limit to help pay my bills. I was so proud of myself for paying the minimum payment and felt I was creating a great credit history for myself. No one taught me about credit cards because my parents never had one so the 21% interest meant nothing to me. I was just a good little consumer paying that minimum $10 or something like that each month on my $5000 bill. About a year later, I was getting married so I sat down with my future husband to figure out finances. I thought he was going to fall out of the chair when he saw that bill. That was one of our first major arguments because he couldn’t figure out how a smart college graduate who was a teacher had no clue about credit cards and I was highly offended at his attitude! After we were married we took out a loan from the credit union at 7% interest to pay off that credit card and the credit union took the monthly payments out of my paycheck which was much higher than the monthly minimum payment. It took awhile but we finally got it paid off and didn’t have another credit card for about 10 years. We paid cash for everything. Finally we got a credit card with the agreement that we would pay it off in full each month so we don’t pay any interest. If we don’t have the cash to make the payment, then we don’t buy anything on credit. We have gotten frequent flyer miles this way and have taken many free airline trips to great places. Now I have a Carnival credit card and will hopefully take a free cruise somewhere soon.

3 States in One Day

We spent the night in Klamath Falls, Oregon, hiked at Lava Beds National Monument in California, and then ended up in Reno Nevada. I think we have covered a lot of ground for one day.

For most of the morning and mid afternoon, we spent the day at Lava Beds National Monument. First we hiked up to the fire tower before it got too hot and that was beautiful to look at and see evidence of the lava flows. We also had a great view of Mt. Shasta from the fire tower. It was so awesome to walk around the inside of lava tubes. First of all, it was really dark in the caves. In fact, at one point, we turned off our flashlights just to get a feel for how dark the caves are without light. Then we tried to imagine what it would have been like when the first person explored these caves. One cave we went to was the only one with two entrances so we walked from one side of the tube to the other entrance. The ground was very hard to walk on and full of boulder like rocks so I’m glad I had my two hiking sticks with me. The last cave we went to was the Valentine Cave and it had choices that you had to make which made me kind of nervous. We were afraid of getting lost in the caves so we didn’t go too far in but we stuck to the right wall all the way. A couple of spots caused us to double over in order to get through the passageways.

When we left there we headed to Reno, Nevada. Our original thought was to go to Lassen Volcanic National Park but the most of the roads are still closed due to snow so we decided to head towards Reno. I haven’t been to Reno in over 15 years so I was excited about seeing it again. We arrived into town, got a hotel room, and then went downtown for dinner. We ate at the Cal-Neva casino and had a prime rib dinner for $9.95. Then we stopped for some ice cream before finally returning to the hotel. I was amazed at how empty the casinos and streets are. I don’t know if it is because it’s the middle of the week or if the economy is that bad.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Where Everybody Knew My Name...

Monday’s Blog Prompt: May 12 1993 was the last broadcast of "Cheers" on NBC-TV. Do you go to any place where “everyone knows your name?” Describe it.

When I first moved to my little town, there was a small café down the street from my house. I would go in to get a cup of coffee and toast every day before work. The regulars invited me to the round table where they sat every day and then I became one of the “family.” I ate there so much that the owner started to call me at home when she was sick and wouldn’t open up early enough for my breakfast. Two of the elderly gentlemen were brothers and when I asked them where to buy the best garden hoses and tomato plants, they gave me advice. But that afternoon when I arrived home, there were 2 new garden hoses and some tomato plants for me. The spring I decided to rent a tiller and make a 100 x 20 foot flower bed, one of the brothers and a friend showed up at my house with a huge tiller on a trailer and proceeded to till my flower bed for me. I loved to eat there every morning and share gossip, news, and opinions with my friends. We would fill up our own coffee cups and then float around the café and fill up everyone else’s too. Both of the brothers have passed away now and the owner died of cancer a few years ago. The other regulars have moved on to other places and so have I. The place has been sold a few times and it hasn’t been the same. I really miss that place.

Photo credit: Cafe by leandro marco

Oregon/California 5/13/08

On the way to Crater Lake National Park, we were a little concerned as we saw the snow increase along the sides of the road. We also saw signs that mention chains on tires and snow areas so we turned around to go to the ranger station and check on the road conditions. The ranger told us there were no problems and that we didn’t need chains so we continued on to the park. I was amazed at the height of the snow and took lots of snow photos. In fact, the buildings were almost covered with snow and you had to enter through these snow tunnels from the parking lots. One lady told me that they have gotten 45 feet of snow since October and all of it won’t be gone until July. The view of the lake was awesome and one I have never seen before. No river or stream feeds the lake and all of the water is from rain and snow.

We left there and headed to Lava Beds National Monument and had to go through a town called Klamath Falls, Oregon. I didn’t know until we saw all the law enforcement and heard on the radio that Bill Clinton was speaking at the college right as we passed by. That was a kind of neat moment because I don’t recall ever being in the same place as the President or the former president other than in Washington DC.

Since it was so late in the afternoon, we didn’t go exploring the caves but we did do a hike around Captain Jack’s Stronghold. This is an area where the Indians in 1872 refused to go to back to a reservation. The 60 Indians held off 600 soldiers for a long time at this place. The caves were really neat to look at and imagine the Indians hiding there. We will return in the morning and explore some of the caves.

Monday, May 12, 2008

California/Oregon 5/12/08

This morning we headed up the coast of California to the Redwoods National and State Parks. We did a few hikes and were amazed at the size of the redwoods. We even got to walk through a few of the big trees. On our travels we have enjoyed the deserts and the Pacific coast but I can’t tell you the feeling I had when we hiked into the forest. My husband describes it as a feeling of “ahhhhhhhhhh.” I guess I am more of a forest person than I really thought. Even though we are on the west coast and the trees are much bigger and more different, I loved the forest. I loved hiking in the forest and seeing the trees, the wildflowers, and just the general feeling of being in a forest. It made me think of the Smokies (which I love!). I believe that we hiked a total of 6 miles today which is the most we have done in a week so I really enjoyed that too.

Then we crossed the border into Oregon and the scenery was beautiful there too. I was surprised to see snow on the mountain tops. On the spur of the moment, we decided to go to Oregon Caves National Monument even though we heard they stop giving tours at 4pm. We drove into the parking lot at 3:58 and I saw a ranger who told me the next tour would be at 10am tomorrow. Since I get up at 5am and we usually are on the road by 7am, I knew that we wouldn’t get to see the caves so I was kind of disappointed. Then, the wonderful ranger offered to take us into the caves to see the first two rooms as a sneak preview. It was wonderful! It reminded me a lot of Mammoth Cave, only smaller and more active.

We finally arrived in Grants Pass, OR for the night. Hopefully tomorrow we will head for Crater Lake since the weather is so beautiful. When we arrived here, it was 65 degrees which seemed warmer than we expected. Oregon Caves still has snow all around. It is hard for me to imagine snow in May.

California 5/11/08

Today we drove up along the coast of Hwy 1 towards the Avenue of the Giants which features giant redwood trees. We got out and did a few hikes which really helped me appreciate the size of these trees. The roads were lined with redwoods as we drove along the curvy road and it was a magnificent drive. We both even got to walk through one of the trees but we didn’t pay to drive through any of the trees. The visitor center in the middle had some great displays and worth looking at and seeing the history of the redwoods.

After that we ended up in Eureka and drove across the bridge to the Samoa Cookhouse which has been serving food for 115 years. I would recommend anyone going near Eureka to eat a meal at this place. It cost us $11.50 per person and it was family style with one menu. We had a drink (coffee, tea, or iced tea), salad, soup, ham, baked potatoes, corn, baked beans, homemade bread, and apple pie for lunch. Plus it was all you could eat, but we never asked for more because what we got was more than enough. Not only was the food plentiful but it was good tasting too.

Next we drove up to Trinidad Bay to visit with a couple of friends that we met on a cruise last December. Steve and Karen own the Trinidad Bay Eatery and Gallery. The restaurant is in a neat location with a lighthouse down the street and a beautiful view of the ocean around the corner. It looks like a magical place to visit! Unfortunately we were still stuffed from our lunch so we couldn’t eat anything there but it was jammed pack when we showed up. Everyone seemed happy so obviously the food must be good. Since you might have to wait for a table to open up, you could look through the gallery and buy some of the neat stuff for sale (artwork, pottery, tshirts, and lots of other neat stuff!). We will have to make a return trip here for a meal in the future.