Chillin’ at Tahoe

Tahoe. Those in the in crowd can drop the Lake. Even though the lake is the whole point. Unless, of course, you’re there to ski, or hobnob with the rich and famous. “Sorry, I can’t go to your fundraiser, darling. I’ll be in Tahoe. But here’s a check. Ta ta.”

Despite my raging imposter syndrome, I was really looking forward to this day, because the ultimate form of conspicuous consumption while in Lake Tahoe is to do absolutely nothing at all. Tahoe gives you the impression that money is constantly flowing like sand through an hourglass. Standing still implies waste.

So I slept in after having been awakened briefly by a pack of howling coyotes, which made me smile. But yeah, I slept way, way in. And then I grabbed a book and took a long, hot, luxurious bath. And then I went back to bed and read some more. And then I fell asleep. It was heavenly.

But then, of course, I was in Tahoe after all, so I decided to ride around and enjoy the view. I went to Inspiration Point, which has stunning views, and a rock as big as the restroom. But Inspiration Point made me think of an episode of Happy Days.

From there I went to Emerald Bay State Park, which has absolutely gorgeous views of a tiny, intriguing little island that has a really interesting story that I will tell in a separate post. For now, just know that I really enjoyed the view.

I saw a plaque that expresses it really well. “I am bewildered by the magnificence of your beauty and wish to see you with a hundred eyes.”

I viewed, I breathed the fresh air, I contemplated what to blog. I rode back and forth between Nevada and California as I was staying at Stateline. I got to see the gas prices double as I crossed into California. I’m amazed that any Stateline, California gas stations make a go of it.

But I wasn’t there for gas or even the view. I was extravagantly chilling. So I went back to the room and watched the presidential debate. (That’s a few hours I’ll never get back.) But then I went back to reading and chilling and napping, and it was, without a doubt, the best Tahoe day I’ve ever spent.

Enjoy my pictures, below.

There are a lot more tales to tell about this trip, but I’ll try not to post them daily, so as not to put off those who aren’t interested in travel blogs. So brace yourself for a good month of every other day adventures! I’ll try to link them together, so that you can start at the beginning if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. Here’s a link to the first post in the series. And here’s a link to the next day’s adventure!

Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book!

Mono Lake to Lake Tahoe

On day ten of our road trip, we got an early (for us) start. Before heading to Lake Tahoe, we wanted to explore Lee Vining and Mono Lake. I must say, for such a tiny town, there was a lot of delightful public art. There’s also a place called the upside down house, pictured below. It wasn’t as exciting as I’d hoped.

The lake itself was pretty, and had unique rock formations, but hey, we were about to go to Lake Tahoe. Dear husband had picked up a fall colors map, so we decided to take the leisurely scenic route today and enjoy all the lovely yellows and golds.

Random things we saw on our route: A hot pink poodle, a fascinating mud dauber nest, a rock formation that looked like a plumber’s butt, and lots and lots of cows. Don’t believe me? Check out our pictures below.

When we reached Lake Tahoe, I was blown away by how clear the water was. If California and Nevada can do that, anyone should be able to. We all need to.

My first introduction to the lake was a lovely place called Sand Harbor. It was full of winding trails and little rocky coves. It would be a delightful place to bring a book and just read, while watching people play in the water.

We then went to dinner at Lone Eagle Grill. If you’re ever in the area and are in the mood for a bit of a splurge, I highly recommend this place. I had salmon topped with crab cake, and it was the best salmon I’ve ever had in my entire life.

Before you leave the restaurant, be sure and get your parking validated. We made the mistake of not doing this (it’s not spelled out clearly), and almost got charged $45 for less than 2 hours parking. Oh heck no! For that price I could get more salmon to go! We went back inside and cleared that up, believe you me. Crisis averted.

Feeling well satisfied and very content, we went to our time share, which was high above the lake, and so fancy that they even folded the kitchen towels for us. I was suffering from severe impostor syndrome.

It had been a lovely, leisurely day, and the next day was to be all about relaxing. I was thrilled. I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it.

Enjoy the photos!

There are a lot more tales to tell about this trip, but I’ll try not to post them daily, so as not to put off those who aren’t interested in travel blogs. So brace yourself for a good month of every other day adventures! I’ll try to link them together, so that you can start at the beginning if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. Here’s a link to the first post in the series. And here’s a link to the next day’s adventure!

Check this out, y’all. I wrote a book!

Vegas Chill

On Day 7 of my Western ramble, I was really looking forward to not driving much at all. I slept in, relaxed, and then explored the Bellagio. I was particularly interested in this casino/hotel because I knew they had a display of Chihuly art glass. I’ve blogged about Chihuly before. But calling what is in the reception area of the Bellagio a “display” is like calling the Olympics a high school track meet. This was gigantic.

One of the things that irks me about Vegas is there’s virtually no place to sit down unless you’re gambling. That’s by design, of course. But I longed to sit down and stare at this glass for hours. I was sorely tempted to stretch out on the carpet and just gaze upward, but I suspected security would be called.

After I had my fill of trying to remain balanced while staring straight up with my mouth stupidly hanging open, I decided to explore Paris. And why not? I’d been in Vegas Venice already. May as well walk across the street to France, too!

I had dinner at a place called Mon Ami Gabi, and it really brought me back to some of the places I’ve eaten at in the real Paris. A wall of windows that completely open out to the street when the weather is nice. Honeycomb tiles on the floor. Waiters in black pants and white shirts. And pomme frites in a cup. Ah, the memories.

The place also had a stunning view across the street to the fountains of Bellagio, which dance to music every 15 minutes at night, so I got to see a lot of watery performances during the meal and after. Here’s a video I took of one of them.

Pretty cool, no?

Unfortunately, I also saw panel trucks drive by every few minutes, advertising women on demand. Like they were groceries, or something. Strippers and prostitutes. Free delivery. I’ve never been comfortable with the hyper-sexualization of women in Vegas. The topless showgirls, the voluptuous cartoons on the slot machines, and now this blatant sex trafficking right on the street. And a certain percentage of the female tourists feel compelled to dress in ways they’d never dress elsewhere. It just makes me sad, how easily we are willing to give away our human dignity.

On a lighter note, during the course of the day I met a really good dog. I was allowed to give him a hug. I wanted to hug the stuffing right out of him. I needed that. By this point I was really beginning to miss my dogs terribly.

I didn’t stay up very late. I was going to need my strength for the next day! Enjoy some of my photos.

There are a lot more tales to tell about this trip, but I’ll try not to post them daily, so as not to put off those who aren’t interested in travel blogs. So brace yourself for a good month of every other day adventures! I’ll try to link them together, so that you can start at the beginning if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. Here’s a link to the first post in the series. And here’s a link to the next day’s adventure.

I wrote an actual book, and you can own it! How cool is that?

Sedona Back to Vegas

Leaving Sedona on day 6 of my trip was the hardest thing I’ve done in a long time. And I’ve recently had a root canal. No joke.

I longed to stay in this town, explore each of its shops and enjoy all of its restaurants. I wanted to hike its trails. Mostly, though, I just wanted to sit and take in the view. I would like to let Sedona wash over me like a cool blast of air conditioning on a hot day.

There’s just never enough time, is there?

I did make the time to visit the Church of the Red Rocks, thinking it was the iconic, must-see church in Sedona, but I was wrong (and besides, it was closed due to the pandemic). The must-see church is the very unique Chapel of the Holy Cross. I didn’t realize that until I was already out of town. But I’ll take any excuse to go back.

I did stop in and visit Son Silver West. I was drawn in by its unique metal sculptures, Western-themed art and vintage signs. It’s one of those eclectic stores that you can visit every day and encounter something new. I’ll include a few pictures below so you can get the idea, but this store definitely deserves a post all its own.

On the way back to Vegas, I tried to see Hoover Dam again. Not only was it closed, but also there were a number of grim-faced men, dressed in black, who were more than happy to make sure you got the message and turned around. No explanation given. I’m pretty sure they would have wrestled me to the ground if I had tried to get past them. Later I discovered that the president was visiting Vegas, so it probably had something to do with that. I was disappointed, but I’m sure I’ll be in the area again someday. I did enjoy seeing Lake Mead.

I also crossed over Peacock Wash and Rattlesnake Wash, and mused about people’s need for such things. I mean, save your money and wash your rattlesnake at home, I say. Then I crossed over Frees Wash. Okay, maybe I would let someone else do it in that case. 😊

I picked up some food at an In-n-Out Burger. I’d never eaten at one before. It was pretty good for fast food. I’d recommend them, but I learned that they tend to sneak religious quotes into their packaging. There’s nothing I hate more than being proselytized, especially by a for profit company.

Entering Vegas by day is a completely different vibe. It’s every bit as overwhelming and crowded, but it doesn’t have the excitement factor without all the lights piercing the darkness. But I was excited nonetheless, because that night I was scheduled to go zoom-lining at Slotzilla on Fremont Street! Zoom-lining is a lot like ziplining, except you’re flying through the air like superman. I had been wanting to do this for ages.

Just for you, dear reader, I had my adventure recorded on a Go Pro. What do you think? Would you do it? I wasn’t nervous until they strapped me down and opened the doors and I got my first look at what 110 feet in the air was going to be like. (My apologies for the “Oh, F***” that you hear me utter at the beginning. I think I had a valid excuse. And no, I do not have a mullet. They required that you put on a glasses strap, and I stupidly didn’t pull my hair over the top of it.)

But I have to say, what a rush! Zooming 5 blocks, beneath a lighted, psychedelic canopy, and above the massive crowd as they took pictures and cheered, was amazing. I’d do it again and again if given the chance!

The downside, of course, was that I had to walk the 5 blocks back, through that massive crowd of people. Most wore masks, but the whole social distancing concept was impossible. People were rubbing shoulders with me whether I wanted to or not. It felt like the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done, and I started wondering if this little caper was worth my life, and berated myself for being so stupid. I wanted to boil myself in bleach.

But during that walk, I’m fairly certain that I locked eyes with Chaz Bono. He looked right at me, and then quickly looked away when he saw recognition. I didn’t bother him. He clearly did not want to be bothered.

I stopped at a store and picked up a frozen pizza, and when I got back to the room I changed clothes, showered, and practically washed my hands raw. I don’t think Vegas will be on my radar again until there’s a reliable vaccine. But I have to say, zoom-lining is AWESOME!!!

Enjoy our random pictures of my day!

There are a lot more tales to tell about this trip, but I’ll try not to post them daily, so as not to put off those who aren’t interested in travel blogs. So brace yourself for a good month of every other day adventures! I’ll try to link them together, so that you can start at the beginning if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. Here’s a link to the first post in the series. And here’s a link to my next day’s adventure!

I’m proud to say that my book is available in paperback, kindle, and deluxe color edition!

Vegas to Sedona

On Day 4 of our Great Western Ramble, we woke up in Vegas, and since one of the best things about this town is its food (in my opinion), we decided that our one eat out meal of the day would be breakfast. Walking through the casino, everything seemed very subdued compared to the night before. I suspect we were the only people in the entire town who weren’t hung over. But subdued is good. This introvert likes subdued.

We went to the Lux Café, and the breakfasts were so huge we had enough to box up for lunch, too. I have to say, they sure know how to make hash browns. Just the right amount of crunch. I was in fried food heaven. In truth, we made very healthy choices for the most part on this trip. But this was Vegas. You’re supposed to walk on the wild side there. So we got our hash brown on, and I have no regrets. I’m such a rebel.

After that we packed up and headed out. Just outside of Vegas is Lake Mead, and of course Hoover Dam. But somehow we missed the turn off for the dam. (Damn.) But we knew we were coming back through this area in a few days, so we figured we’d catch it then.

We left Nevada and drove through the tiny town of Twin Arrows, Arizona, which is right next door (relatively speaking) to Two Guns, Arizona, both on Route 66. I thought that there had to be a story there. In fact, there is. But it’s enough of a story to rate a post of its own, so watch this space.

We also took a side trip to Meteor Crater. I’ve been to this impressive hole in the ground before, and knew my husband would be fascinated by it. He was. (I love being married to a fellow nerd. It’s the best.) Meteor Crater, too, merits its own blog post, so bear with me. There’s just so much to say about this trip!

From there we headed to our final destination of the evening: Sedona, Arizona. We decided to take the scenic route through Oak Creek Canyon to get there. Between that canyon and Sedona itself, something really serious happened to me.

I fell in love with the most gorgeous place I’ve ever seen in this entire country. The switchbacks, the lush greenery interspersed with the red and white striped cliffs and rock formations left me speechless. I mean, my heart hurt from all the beauty.

Sedona is now my heart place. I’d love to retire there, but suspect it will be just out of reach. But I guarantee you that I’ll be going back. Many times. I just felt like I was home.

We checked into our wonderful condo, and headed out to Whole Foods to pick up something easy for dinner. We were going around a corner, and as if it was the most natural thing in the world, this javelina trotted casually across the road. In the crosswalk! How polite. Javelinas can be really aggressive, but you could practically hear this one humming to itself. “Dooo do dooo… I’m walkin’ here…” It was amazing. Sorry, I was too stunned to even think about a photograph.

It was also hot. My husband loves hot. After 40 years in Florida, I’m kind of over it. Okay, so maybe I’d need two retirement homes. Sedona from October to May, and elsewhere from June to September. A girl can dream.

We enjoyed our dinner, and then I went to another beautiful place. The condo had a double wide bathtub. I was in heaven, within heaven. I floated in the cool water, again feeling guilty for wasting water in a desert, but I also remember thinking that there is no place on earth I’d rather be, and no one on earth I’d rather be sharing it with.

Life is good. Enjoy our photos from the day!

There are a lot more tales to tell about this trip, but I’ll try not to post them daily, so as not to put off those who aren’t interested in travel blogs. So brace yourself for a good month of every other day adventures! I’ll try to link them together, so that you can start at the beginning if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. Here’s a link to the first post in the series. And here’s a link to the next day’s adventure!

The ultimate form of recycling: Buy my book, read it, and then donate it to your local public library or your neighborhood little free library!

Sun Valley to Vegas

It was time to leave the beautiful Sun Valley and continue on our journey. The leaving part of travel is always bittersweet for me, because there’s so much of this world to explore that I rarely get a chance to do repeat visits. But Sun Valley, Idaho is a lovely place. I knew I’d miss it.

But we were on our way to Las Vegas, to stay at the Venetian! We figured, since our trip to Italy was cancelled in May, why not splurge on one night in virtual Venice on our way to our next stop? So off we went.

En route, we crossed the immense Snake River Canyon. If you’re at least my age, you may remember that Evel Knievel attempted to jump this canyon in a rocket in 1974. (You can check out the youtube video here.) The man was an expert at publicity, I’ll say that. But standing there and seeing how unbelievably wide this canyon is, I could have told him that of COURSE he wasn’t going to make it. I’d have said it was foolish to try. But I remember watching at the time with bated breath. What can I say? It was the 70’s. You had to be there.

The ramp is still there. We could see it in the distance. A monument to foolishness.

Onward. We went through Shoshone, Idaho, and passed a mountain of potatoes that must have been 20 feet high. I wish I had gotten a picture, but it kind of snuck up on me, and then I was too busy picking my jaw up off the ground to think of my camera. That’s a lot of French fries right there.

Our trip on this day was 580 miles, and much of that was farmland. We saw lots and lots and lots of corn fields. And it was a really windy day, so the corn was dancing, just for us.

We were driving the length of Eastern Nevada, and when we entered that state, we made a quick stop at Cactus Pete’s Casino in the town of Jackpot. Gambling really isn’t my bag, but it was my husband’s vacation, too. And seeing all the colorful flashing lights was kind of cool.

On the highway south of Jackpot, we saw a sign that said, “Report shooting from highway. Operation Game Thief.” Oh, joy.

And as we entered the great basin, a desert area that looks devoid of life, we saw a rusted old water tank in the middle of nowhere, and painted on the side of it were the words, “Everything has a price.” Again, I didn’t have time for a picture. But it made me think.

We also went through Rock Canyon, which was cool and unexpected. It’s amazing how many varieties of rock are out there. It’s astounding how quickly the terrain can change. Nature is fascinating.

The sun went down, and I was grateful, because it had been in my eyes for hours. And then suddenly, there it was. Las Vegas. The entire valley lit up like Christmas on steroids. It was beautiful and otherworldly.

I’ve always found it a bit ironic that Las Vegas has this particular name, because in Spanish, Vega means fertile lowlands. Vegas is far from fertile, in my opinion. It’s a dry, sun-blasted desert, and this city is completely dependent on water from elsewhere, for all its extravagant use thereof. It’s a city that thrives on being wasteful, and we were about to plunge into it headfirst.

We drove the strip. I hadn’t been there in at least 25 years, and it has quadrupled in size. It was a festival of lights, indeed. You can’t help but be impressed with how much man is capable of creating, if you can get past the fact that none of it is natural.

Can you tell that I have a love/hate relationship with this city? My late sister and my late mother haunt me here. They lived here when my sister was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base. I came to visit a few times, and it was here that I witnessed my mother begin her long, hard, brutal battle with cancer. The BRCA1 genetic anomaly is a rot in the heart of my family tree, and it took them both. Fortunately I do not have it.

It’s strange to think I’m the only one left of the three of us. Life is so precious and fleeting. But that’s not Vegas’ fault.

These are weird times in this weird city. It was less crowded than usual, and yet it was still very crowded by any other city’s standards. And a lot of the people on the street were not wearing face masks, except, oddly, for the people standing in a block-long line for food from a taco stand.

This was to be, by far, the most people I’ve been around since March, and it felt really strange. Vegas, a city that thrives on risk, was taking a lot of precautions. Every casino was doing temperature checks before you could enter. There was Purell everywhere. There was plexiglass between each seat at the tables. Every other slot machine was off, and every other chair was missing. The number of people allowed on elevators was limited. More people were mask compliant indoors than out on the street, but there were some diehard smokers and gamblers who didn’t care about themselves any more than they cared about anyone else. I washed my hands a lot. A whole lot.

We checked into the Venetian, and I have to say the suite was luxurious. I felt like a queen.

We then went out to explore. We decided to have dinner at Yardbird Southern Food, right on site, mainly because the Italian restaurant we had planned to eat at was closing, but it turned out to be a good choice, because we had Lobster Mac n’ Cheese, and it nearly made me swoon. They even knew how to cook collard greens properly, which is something I haven’t experienced since living in Florida. What a treat.

Then we window shopped, and watched people riding the gondolas. I’d rather wait for the real thing. I’m bound and determined that we’ll go to Venice one of these days.

It was hot. 90 degrees, after dark. I don’t miss that. It’s really hard to wear a mask when the heat is already making you feel like you’re suffocating. But we soldiered on.

Then we went back to the suite, because I had spotted my biggest weakness: A bathtub that I could actually lie flat in. So I had a nice long introverted soak, trying not to feel guilty about wasting water in the desert, while my extroverted husband got his Vegas on. Everybody happy, that’s the goal! We slept like royalty, looking forward to the following day.

Here are some of our pictures from this leg of the trip. Enjoy!

There are a lot more tales to tell about this trip, but I’ll try not to post them daily, so as not to put off those who aren’t interested in travel blogs. So brace yourself for a good month of every other day adventures! I’ll try to link them together, so that you can start at the beginning if you find yourself in the middle and want to read the whole saga. Here’s a link to the first post in the series. And here’s a link to the next day’s adventure!

Like this quirky little blog? Then you’ll love this book!

Sovereign Citizens: The Tip of the Tassel on the Lunatic Fringe

None of us like to pay taxes. But most of us are rational human beings who realize that the nation’s infrastructure can’t be provided for free. If we are stupid enough to break a law, we may not like getting arrested, but we sure appreciate it when an operator is at the other end of the line when we feel the need to dial 911. The vast majority of us use the nation’s highways and bridges, and are grateful that traffic lights function, fire departments respond, libraries are available, tainted food is recalled, and 12 year olds can’t buy cocaine at the local Stop n’ Shop.

But there is a group out there that seems to think that they can have their cake and eat it, too. They feel that they are above the law and do not recognize the authority of federal and state governments. They live within this country, take advantage of what it has to offer, but refuse to contribute to it in any way, and in fact believe they get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore. If they didn’t resort to violence and hate speech and frivolous law suits to clog up our courts, their selfishness and irrationality would be laughable, but they are waaaaaay out there in nut-job land, and it’s kind of scary, knowing that these people walk among us.

Here is a short list of lunatics who are considered Sovereign Citizens, according to the website Hatewatch, by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • Eddie Jones, the candidate expected to win a county commissioner seat in Memphis, Tennessee, was fired as a Memphis Police officer for his use of cocaine 18 years ago. Recently he stopped paying his mortgage to protest changes in where to send the payments. He only had three years to go before the house was paid off. Naturally the bank started foreclosure procedures, so he sued them, calling himself “a living man created in the image of God, with indefeasible title to our land,” ordering the bank’s agents “to immediately CEASE and DESIST any further actions.” The man is in cloud cuckoo land.
  • Israel Rondon fatally lost a gunfight with the sheriffs in Ohio in March. They had come to arrest him for probation violations. His rap sheet included illegal weapons charges and assaulting an officer, and driving without a license. He has filed multiple rambling and incoherent lawsuits seeking millions of dollars in damages against various government agencies and banks.
  • Mark Kulis, another Ohio Sovereign Citizen, caused his entire neighborhood to be evacuated in January when the police found bombs in his foreclosed home during an eviction process. The walls and ceilings of his house were covered with anti-government graffiti, and the tree in his front yard had been covered with strange, incomprehensible messages. He once told a neighbor that someone had drilled a hole in his home’s foundation and inserted termite larva.
  • In Arkansas, police officers pulled over Jerry Kane and his 16 year old son Joseph for a routine investigation of some unusual Ohio (what is it about Ohio???) license plates. Jerry got out of the car and started arguing with the officers, and Joseph then got out of the car with an AK-47 and shot one of the cops and pinned the other down with gunfire. After chasing the second cop and killing him, he returned to the first cop and shot him in the back of the head. The Kanes then drove away. After a chase and another shoot out where two more officers were wounded, the Kanes were both killed. They had been traveling the country as Sovereign Citizens, giving sparsely attended seminars on avoiding foreclosure. This comprehensive article on the Kanes will give you some amazing details on this lunatic fringe movement.
  • David Carroll Stephenson, of Washington State, was convicted of filing false liens against federal officials, plus one count of harboring federal fugitives and being a felon in possession of firearms. He conspired with Kenneth Wayne Leaming, who has a record of depositing 1 million dollars in false promissory notes and operating an aircraft without a pilot’s license, as well as founding the County Rangers, an armed enforcement wing of the Sovereign Citizens.
  • Convicted sex offender David Allen Brutsche and Devon Campbell Newman were arrested in Nevada for allegedly planning to kidnap, jail, torture and kill police officers. Brutsche said, “I will kill anyone that tries to stop the cause of liberty.” They planned to use acid and plastic bags to dispose of the officers’ bodies.
  • Christopher Lacy, a bipolar man from California, shot and killed a highway patrol officer at point blank range last fall. He was then shot and killed by another officer. The officer stopped him for having an obstructed license plate.
  • Phillip Monroe Ballard was in jail, awaiting trial for filing fraudulent tax returns. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Texas for attempting to have the federal judge in his case assassinated.
  • Lewis Pollard, a Navy veteran from Colorado, pointed a handgun at a police officer after a routine traffic stop and was then shot to death. On his Facebook page, Pollard stated, “I have renounced my citizenship to the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA which is a corperation and clamed my individual rights as an american who upholds the freedom as an individual who lives under the laws of the constition the United States and as a free man I revoke all clames on me and my children grand children and great grand children so say I Lewis Be Pollard American living on the Colorado Republic near [81521-9998]”
  • David Russell Myrland of Washington state filed a civil suit accusing the government and its agents of using poor grammar and writing at a second-grade level. He has been illegally practicing law for 20 years, yet he still felt the need to get help with the suit from David Wynn Miller, who claims to have become the king of Hawaii in 1996 after turning the state’s name into a verb. He also believes that if he adds a hyphen and a colon to his name, he can escape the grasp of government taxation. Miller claims to have an IQ of 200.

There are hundreds of thousands of people who claim to be Sovereign Citizens in America. The members of the group have been classified as domestic terrorists by the FBI. Seven law enforcement officers have been killed by them since 2000.

Even Jerry Kane’s widow is nutty. For those of you getting this blog by e-mail, you can see the video here.


The most profound silence I have ever experienced was in Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. Miles from civilization, the quiet takes on a character one does not usually experience, to the point where the flapping of a raven’s wings startles you.

The best thing I have ever eaten was a seafood pasta dish called “frutas del mar”, while sitting on the banks of the grand canal in Venice.

My biggest regret was transferring from Warren Wilson College instead of graduating there, just so I could be closer to a boyfriend whom I broke up with a month later. Warren Wilson is the most amazing place on earth in which to get an education. I’ve left my soul there, on Dogwood Ridge, and have been trying to relocate to the area ever since.

The loudest noise I ever heard was 1200 of my fellow middle-schoolers screaming at the top of their lungs at a pep rally, just before both of my eardrums burst.

The most beautiful thing I have ever seen was the view of the mountain range from Craggy Gardens on the Blue Ridge Parkway. That’s where I want my ashes scattered.


The coldest I’ve ever been was the time that I had to walk to my car in the pouring rain and 40 mile per hour winds because my employer refused to shut down the drawbridge during a hurricane, and I needed the money too much to get fired by taking a stand. When I got home, after driving past fallen trees and downed power lines, my lips were blue.

The ugliest thing I’ve ever seen was the look on a coworker’s face when he was delighting in another coworker’s loss of his livelihood.

The drunkest I’ve ever been was the time I woke up in the trunk of my car and couldn’t remember how I’d gotten there. Which is why I haven’t had a drink in 28 years.

The happiest I have ever been is any time I’ve traveled and arrived at my destination safely, with all my luggage, and am about to concentrate on simply experiencing my new location. That “brink of adventure” feeling simply cannot be beaten.

The strongest I’ve ever been was the summer I was in the Youth Conservation Corps and had spent those months doing construction work. That experience also went a long way toward teaching me that I’m capable of anything. One of the stupidest things the government has ever done was to stop funding that program.

The proudest I’ve ever felt was when I went days without sleep to help a friend raise money for the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

The most darkness I’ve ever experienced was deep in the catacombs under the city of Paris, surrounded by miles of skulls, when the lights suddenly went out.

The brightest light I’ve ever seen was when I defied all advice and looked directly at a solar eclipse. That split second was also the most profound pain I’ve ever felt, and I was certain, as I fell to my knees, that my skull had been pierced clean through. They aren’t kidding. Don’t look directly at a solar eclipse.

The most awe I’ve ever felt was when I looked, for the first time, at the Grand Canyon.

The hottest I’ve ever been was in Nevada, but I didn’t know it. As a Florida girl, I’m used to gauging heat by how much I sweat, but this was a dry heat, so I didn’t realize it was 120 degrees out until I passed out.

The worst taste I’ve ever had in my mouth was the time I chugged some liquid Maalox which turned out to be several years old, and the ingredients had separated, leaving the medicine unmasked by flavoring. I think I vomited for about an hour.

The best smell I’ve ever experienced was smoked ham in a Virginia barn when I was already ravenously hungry.

The worst smell, by far, was Jacksonville, Florida before they closed the paper mills. I honestly don’t know how anyone could live here before that. It was sickening. Now it smells wonderful, thanks to the Maxwell House Coffee plant.