Christmas · family · Gratitude · Memoirs · My Thoughts · Travel

A Christmas Memory–Sad & Precious!

My sick brother cut wood to sell!

It was in the late 1960’s. My Mom, Dad, teenage brother and I arrived in Poway, California for a special Christmas celebration. My brother-in-law had recently been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and the future was bleak. This was only the second time we’d traversed to California for Christmas, and this trip had such a mixture of emotion.

As newlyweds, my sister and her new husband and two stepchildren came to Colorado a couple years before and we had a enjoyable time getting acquainted with my sister’s new family. Being from the city, the children delighted in a trip to our ranch to cut down our Christmas tree, and they enjoyed a truly country Christmas with snow.

My new brother-in-law immediately started picking on me, and we bonded deeply even though he forced me to try cranberries–I had never tried this dish before. With his humor and persistent influence, I grew to love cranberries!

My sister knitted beautiful Christmas presents!

Sunny California appeared gloomy and heavy. The festive atmosphere of Christmas felt tinged with a deep sadness and fear. My sister greeted us warmly, knitting like a crazy woman–she shared with me that all of their gifts this year were knitted.

The man we saw on arrival was a shadow of the man we met a few short years ago. The disease had ravaged his body, and he had lost so much weight, his clothes hung loose and limp on his frame.

But his spirit of love and laughter prevailed. Mom tried her hand at making homemade pie crusts, forgetting the affect of being at sea level on a recipe usually done at 6100 feet above sea level. She clamored about the gooey mess she kept trying to roll out, and my brother-in-law teased unmercifully. As he ducked out of the kitchen with his latest quip, she slung the ball of dough at him, hitting him in the eye–a magnificent bull’s eye. Our laughter filled the kitchen with joy in the ridiculous.

Christmas Eve morning came, and my brother-in-law slipped into our bedroom and whispered his plan for the day to Mom and me, “I’m going to go sell some wood so I can buy my loving wife some Christmas presents. Don’t let her know where I’ve gone. Can you help me wrap the presents when I get home?”

Mom and I both choked back tears, nodding our heads.

The impact of my brother-in-law’s health had destroyed their finances. He hadn’t worked regularly in months; my sister had a good job, but she was so busy and overwhelmed being a caregiver, too. Living in the wooded area of Poway, he did cut wood whenever he could and sell it to make some extra money and to keep active–this was not his nature.

Christmas Eve day went by uneventful except for my sister’s repeated refrain, “Where is my husband? What is he doing?” Her distress weighed on me during the day, but I couldn’t ruin his surprise. She continued to knit on the last project she was trying to finish.

Daylight slowly faded into darkness. Mom and I exchanged worried glances all day–Dad, my sister and brother kept wondering about the where-about’s of my brother-in-law.

Mom and I went to the bedroom to talk about what we should do–it was dark. He had been gone for hours. What if something went wrong? Quietly he opened the door of our bedroom with a couple bags of gifts in hand. He looked exhausted but pleased with himself. 

We wrapped the small collection of gifts–all kitchen utensils for my sister. We placed the gifts under the tree, and my sister was contrite in her reaction to her husband’s day-long absence.

I  knew deep in my heart that this was the most precious exhibition of love and gifting I’d ever seen. His generosity and spirit graced the rest of that holiday.

Forty-some years ago, and it still bring a smile to my heart as I remember his mission of love and the true spirit of Christmas.

Have you had a Christmas like this–sweet and bittersweet at the same time? I’d love to hear your experiences!

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM ME TO YOU! I have posted something from my 3 books. Download a free Christmas story or poem from my web site: https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Blogging · Life Lessons · My Thoughts · Travel

Do You Love An Adventure?

adventure asphalt california country
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I love any kind of an adventure, but travel adventures and a great road trip are my specialty; however, I was a little apprehensive about this trip because I have some eye problems going on right now, and I worried about it–for weeks. As so often happens, my worries were unwarranted and I had a delightful trip.

My day started with a flight out of the Albuquerque airport at Thursday morning at 6:20 am heading to Walla Walla, Washington. Lin doesn’t like leaving as early as I do. I stepped up to my place in line at the gate just as the Southwest attendant called our group–whew!! My flight west veered off via Denver, Colorado with a short turn-around time. We arrived in Denver early so I arrived at the gate with plenty of time.

Often on flights, I have no conversation with the people near me. On this flight I worked on my Keynote presentation (Apple’s version of PowerPoint), and the woman seated at the window asked if I was a writer–she had read my presentation over my shoulder.

“Yes, I’m doing a presentation at a writer’s conference.”

“My nine year old daughter told me this week she wants to be a writer.”

I encouraged her and told her about some writing apps–a future writer. Those are the kinds of airplane conversation I enjoy.

When I arrived in Seattle, Washington, I had to jockey three bags on the shuttle to get the rental car–one of them transformed into a backpack, so that helped.

Getting the car was the easy part! These new fangled cars stumped me because I regularly drive a 2004 Saturn. To start, I couldn’t get the trunk open to put my suitcases away, but an attendant helped me with a smile. I could start it, but the GPS wouldn’t load because I was in a parking garage. I had to leave the garage and park somewhere to load the maps and away I went.

Now I had a four and one half hour drive to Walla Walla. My goal was to get out of the congestion of Seattle before I stopped. With a dry mouth and my stomach rumbling, I stopped at Snowqualmie resort area for water and a Lunchable. I sat in the parking lot of the gas station and ate, and away I went on I-90 through Snowqualmie pass. I never did figure out how to use the cruise control.

I had no idea I would be driving through the Cascade Range–pine, fir and spruce trees, standing tall and regal along the side of the road. At times, I felt I was driving through a tree tunnel.

Finally, I breathed a sigh of relief and truly enjoyed the drive through the fall colors, but it rained almost the whole way. At times, I had to slow down surrounded by trucks vooming by. I crossed the Yakima River several times and the Snake and Colombia Rivers–water everywhere it seemed to this dry land, desert dweller.

I couldn’t connect with my husband, Lin, because his phone was dead, so I felt I was on my own, but all was right. I wasn’t sure when I needed to arrive at the hotel, and the heavy rain stopped me from taking pictures of the majestic fall colors.

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Photo by Skitterphoto on Pexels.com

The conference last three days.

On Sunday morning I arose at 5:30 am because I had that four and one half hour drive back to Seattle and was told by the rental car clerk to arrive at the airport two and a half hours early because of the security lines. I had passed the crowd when I left the terminal for the rental car shuttle and saw the long lines, so I knew what she meant.

As I pulled out of the Marcus Whitman Hotel parking lot, I saw a gas station close, so I grabbed a coffee and another Lunchable, this time for breakfast. The dark morning made it hard to see, and I dealt with fog off and on the whole trip. I experienced a little rain but mostly fog.

I did stop to take the following pictures as I viewed a valley full of fog and a surprising rainbow.

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On my drive, coming down into a valley of fog & a rainblow!

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Valley full of fog!

I loved the fall foliage–an amplified collection of bright orange and yellow!

This leg of the trip, I phoned with Lin–to let him know I was on the road, then he texted me vital information–his football team, the Eagles were playing in London and the game started at 7:30 am, our time, so he was up and about.

The fall colors were the brightest along the river by Cle Elum, a gorgeous city by the Cle Elum river–orange and yellow leafed trees lined the river.

As I neared Seattle, I stressed over the amount of gas in the car. I bought the rental package where they would fill it up when I returned it, so my job was to bring it back as empty as possible. This new car’s gas meter chimed “Low Fuel” when it was on a quarter of a tank and I was 70 miles from Seattle–that was shocking! Then the needle moved slowly. I kept trying to figure out the cruise control and found a button that told me how many miles left to fill up, but I didn’t trust it, so I stopped and added $5 worth of gas and the gas gauge needle didn’t move at all.

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Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

The gas gauge needle moved. I sweated out the last twenty miles to the airport because the needle hovered almost at empty, and wouldn’t you know it–a horrible car accident happened one and a half miles before the Seattle/Tacoma Airport exit. I inched my way by thinking, “I didn’t figure this possibility in. I hope I don’t run out of gas.”

When I pulled into the Dollar rental return space, I breathed finally–my mind had imagined all kinds of horror stories of running out of gas a few miles away.

Before catching the shuttle, I found the bathroom to relieve myself in preparation for the long wait in line. I caught the shuttle back to the airport, checked my bags and printed my boarding pass. I started to get in the long line to go through security and thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if I was TSA Pre boarding?”

I looked my ticket over and I was! I backtracked out of the long line and went down to check in at gate 4. One passenger stood ahead of me, and I saw no bins to put my laptop, iPad and my shoes in.

“Where’s the bins?”

The TSA agent smiled and said, “No need. Keep your shoes on and you don’t have to unpack your backpack.”

So what I feared all day–a two and one half hours wait in the line only took five minutes. That freed me to buy a Starbucks, call my husband and relax. I grabbed a quick lunch and had a enjoyable visit with an airport worker from North Africa. I was listening to the Bronco game on my iPad with my AirPods, and he thoroughly enjoyed my enthusiasm.

I slept on the first leg of my return trip home. I sat in the Oakland airport writing the first draft of this blog. When I finished, I had tomato basil soup for dinner and then on to Albuquerque. I read and played games on my iPad on the Albuquerque leg. My husband picked me up at the airport, and the long travel day was done.

I have traveled a lot in my life–I flew all over the USA to meet my ex-husband for dancing. I taught for Lesley College and flew by myself for two years. Lin and I have traveled a lot too. Every trip has its memories. This one makes me chuckle when I think about all the worrying I did. Would I have trouble seeing and driving? Would I get to the Seattle airport early enough?

Once again, I did fine and enjoyed the serendipities of a trip!



Do you like to travel? Have you had an adventure flying? driving? Share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you.


The holidays are coming!

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My Thoughts · Travel · Writing

I’m Disappointed!

woman looking at sunset
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Normally I’m a very positive optimistic person and try not to admit disappointment–look for the sunny, bright side, am a Pollyanna, etc. ad nauseam. Yesterday, at the airport, I wrote a celebratory post highlighting the conference I attended over the weekend, void of my complete experience. Yes, I loved some of the conference’s offerings, but this morning, I decided to be honest.

I left disappointment and discouraged as a writer. I want to tell you why–maybe you’ve had a conference experience like mine.

I have self-published four books and three cookbooks in the last five years. No best sellers but I’ve enjoyed my “retirement job.” I’m also a genre-jumper. I’ve written two memoirs, a historical fiction and a nonfiction about the West. My next project is a biography, and the one after that is woman’s fiction. I write poetry; I write prose. Many writers pledge their allegiance to one genre, one topic–I don’t, but I am a writer–clear fact! This conference challenged that fact to my core.

Every year in October a group of writers who celebrate the west, women and girls through their writing converge on a city west of the Mississippi, connect and reconnect for three days. Last year was my first experience in Tucson, Arizona and was easy for Lin and I to drive to from Albuquerque. I felt this group was “My Tribe.” This year’s event was in Walla Walla,  which is in the southeastern corner of Washington state–not easy to get to from New Mexico. The conference paperwork suggested flying in to Seattle, so I did, but then it was a four and a half hour drive to Walla Walla. That added to the stress for sure.

I looked forward to this conference more so than my first year, because I submitted a proposal to do a workshop, my Memoir Workshop, and it was accepted! I had presented it several times at Albuquerque libraries and felt it was a strong presentation. I imagined selling all of my books–I lugged a second suitcase full of fifteen books and my handouts there and back! My expectations played a big part in my disappointment!

Thursday night, each of the winners and finalists of the Willa awards read a five minute snippet of their work–what an enjoyable evening. The Willa awards are given in memory of Willa Cather and has seven categories: Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction. Original Soft Cover Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Scholarly Nonfiction, Poetry and Children’s/Young Adult Fiction & Nonfiction. Each of the winners and finalists’ work stood out as strong literary achievements.

I had submitted my latest memoir, A Time to Grow Up, in the Creative Nonfiction category, and it was not selected. I especially listened to those entries to compare them to mine–I understood the selection to a point but still wondered?

I sat next to the president of the organization at that reading. She was friendly and welcoming.

Friday afternoon I attended an agent panel and an editor panel to help the attendees become better acquainted with these powerful people in the publishing world. The sessions helped us decide which ones to pitch our work to during the scheduled pitch sessions. I had scheduled a pitch session with one of the editors, but many attendees wait until the conference to hear from the agent or editor personally at these panels before selecting.

After the panels, I hurried upstairs to the pitch rooms and surprisingly saw lots of openings with all the agents and editors on the schedule, so I signed up with everyone except one agent I met last year. To my credit, I did six pitches in about 1 and 1/2 hours to no avail.

I have self-published all my books, so there was little interest in my published work, and no one was interested in a biography about a 91 year old world famous square dance caller. One agent did give me a great slant to take on this book and then suggested a PBS project to consider.

The most startling rejection was a fiction story I wrote two years ago about two women friends, incest and their healing–an agent and an editor both told me that the publishing work isn’t accepting any work on incest! REALLY! The agent refused matter-of-factly; the editor vehemently refused. Her face flushed and she repeated several times she never accepts work on that topic. I walked away stunned and angry!

Yes, I now understand I was at a conference for writing about the west and women and girls, but the reaction shut me out. Afterwards I realized why there were so few writers signing up to pitch their work. Four of the seven did not do fiction and many of attendees are fiction writers.

This conferenced scheduled three banquets: Friday evening’s banquet celebrated the Laura winners, a short story contest named after Laura Ingalls. Again each author read a short section to give the audience a test of the story–delightful experience!

My Memoir workshop on Saturday afternoon went well even though I had some technical difficulties. The attendees participated, thanked me and seemed appreciative. I had thought that the attendees would buy my books because of me being a presenter–I did not sell one book.

Then add insult to injury, they have a Book Signing time Saturday from 5:00 – 6:00 pm. Supposedly shoppers could still buy books, but no one bought mine. I looked around the room and mostly the winners and finalists of the Willa awards sold books. The rest of us authors–the majority in the room–sat and watched the action happening away from us!

Then the evening ended with another banquet to celebrate the Willa winners–the third banquet of the weekend. Saturday noon’s banquet celebrated the finalists in the Willa awards. I was “banqueted” out.

Today I realize the conference is about celebrating the twenty-one winners and finalists of the Willa awards and the five winners of the Laura awards. I get that now, but it was an expensive lesson. In writing this blog, healing happened: I also realize I’m a successful writer because I write–pure and simple!

I always have to look at the positives in every experience: I met some wonderful, friendly people at the conference. I always learn something helpful at any workshop I attend. I made some connections which could possibly help me on the biography I’m writing. I will continue my membership in this organization and continue to submit entries into their contests because it stretches me.

The drives to and from Walla Walla were breathtaking and stressful. I will tell you about my adventure in my next blog.


Have you ever had an experience like this at a conference? If so, what did you do? Share your comment below.


Check out my books at my web site:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

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My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

The Huntsman World Senior Games–A Life Changing Experience!

Every year in October, thousands of seniors descend on St. George, Utah for the Huntsman World Senior Games. All athletes must be 50 years old by December 31, 2018. This year 11,300 athletes from 32 countries will compete in 30 events, and we competed  in square dancing.

Our week started off on Monday with practice sessions all day to prepare for the square dance competition Tuesday morning. We had a set square with another couple from Albuquerque, New Mexico–Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath–and two couples from St. George, Utah. That evening we had a square dance with Gary Shoemake and Ken Bower calling the squares and Steve and Lori Harris doing the rounds. We danced the whole evening with our square to practice.

Tuesday morning we competed in three categories of square dancing: Mainstream, Plus and Random. We competed in our set square in Mainstream and Plus. In the Random category, couples put their names in and the square is formed randomly.

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Our Square Danced in Red, White & Blue for Competition Day

Each square had two judges watching to see if the square broke down. When the square broke down, the timer started, and it stopped when the square formed facing lines at the head position–that’s what down time is on the scoring.

Each competition has three tips that are five minutes long with each tip progressively getting harder and harder. Whew! When it was over, I was exhausted. I wanted to do as well as the previous the year, so I felt the pressure.

Last year we took a square from Albuquerque for our first time, and we brought home Gold medals for Mainstream and Plus and one of our couples won a Gold medal for the Random square.

Tuesday evening was the Opening Ceremony at Trailblazer Stadium at Dixie State University. We marched onto the field with our square dance banner waving. We each carried a flag and I felt like a real athlete in a world competition.

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The evening program was outstanding with entertainment by a local youth troop, the Diamond Talent Dancers. We were welcomed by the mayor of St. George, John Pike, and the lieutenant governor, Spencer Cox. Mr. Cox’s storytelling ability captured my heart. The guest speaker for the evening was Dan Clark, a renown author and speaker that held our attention with his motivational stories and humor.

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The 32 Country Flags Represented

Each competing country was honored with a person dressed in a flag of that country, then each country was recognized during the evening. The delightful evening ended with the lighting of the torch and a magnificent fireworks display.

Running concurrently throughout the week was our own Cribbage tournament with Lin and Jerry against Mary Beth and me. We played whenever we had free time and ended up playing about 22 games. The guys won with 14 wins to our 11, but they double skunked us Tuesday night after the Open Ceremony and that counted as 3 wins. We laughed and enjoyed the competition and the fun.

Wednesday morning we danced and enjoyed the awesome dancers in attendance, then we were free for the afternoon for a variety of health screenings, provided by the Senior Games. We danced Wednesday night again. One of the perks of attending the Senior Games is all the dancing.

That evening Steve and Lori Harris, the cuers and dear friends of ours, were inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Senior Games–so deserving!

Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame Recipients

Thursday morning was the celebratory brunch and medal ceremony–I was so nervous this year because the pressure was on after our first year’s performance.

It’s been hilarious over this past year as Lin and I have traveled to festival across the country because dancers knew we won and some solicited to join our square, if we needed someone!

The 2018 results are in: our square won a Gold medal for Mainstream with a down time of .32 seconds. Our square won a Silver medal for Plus with a down time of 8.75 seconds. And Lin and I won a Gold medal for the Random square with a down time of 8.73 seconds. We had dancers in our Random square from California, Washington, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

My Medals
My Three Medals – Yahoooooo!

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Whew! How exciting! A big thank you goes out to Dave and Rose Marie Chapman for organizing the square dance competition!

More than anything, this event is about the people–the dancers–and the fun!

 


Are you 50 or older and would like to compete in the Senior Games? What sport do you play? Leave a comment below.


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Visit the Senior Games web site: https://seniorgames.net

 

My Thoughts · square dance · Travel

How Do You Handle a Change of Plans?

Lin Driving In Front of Me Through Zion National Park

Today was an unusual day in the desert Southwest–rain and more rain. Heading towards St. George, Utah from Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Huntsman Senior Games,  we attempted to drive through Zion National Park in two 37-foot Class A motorhomes, each towing a car. Notice I said, “Attempted!”

Lin and I followed Jerry and Mary Beth Gilbreath all day yesterday and today. Up until this point, the trip had been uneventful–the way any veteran RVer likes. After our successful trip here last year and winning two gold medals in the square dance competition, we were jazzed to get our destination and sign in.

Driving along this morning, I was shocked when I saw the “Zion National Park” sign pass by because years ago I had driven through Zion with my ex in a smaller motorhome and it was tight fit–how could we do it today with these monstrosities and towing cars?

No warning signs said, “No big RV’s,” so I thought they must have changed the route–it had been over ten years ago. Things do change!

When we pulled up to the checkin station, the ranger curtly laid out the plan, “You have to unhitch the car, and someone drive it through. There are two tunnels. The first one, drive through as normal. At the second one, a ranger will stop the oncoming traffic, make it a one-way lane and you can drive safely down the middle. Do you understand the instructions?”

Lin took it all in and nodded his head. Our travel companions in the RV ahead of us had already pulled into a lot to unhitch, so we did the same. Talk about a change in plans–I now had to drive through Zion National Park with its winding roads, cars parked along the road and people walking from the cliffs back to their cars. Wow! What an adventure!

Jerry led the parade through Zion with Mary Beth following in their tow vehicle. Then Lin followed her and I brought up the rear.

Jerry in the Lead, Mary Beth in the Middle and then Lin

 

Lin Going Through the First Tunnel

 

Lin Making A Corner

What a gorgeous drive we had, winding our way through the red rocks, but I was sure that Lin and Jerry weren’t in agreement with me. I took pictures a long the way–our speed was extra slow so I had time.

The tight curves made you slow down. The road was lined with cars parked wherever they could and tourists walked back to their cars with cameras bouncing with each step. Families, singles and couples relished the view of the majesty of this canyon–smiles and satisfied faces everywhere.

I felt my God in this adventure–I have had a strong attraction to the Colorado Plateau for years and all of its expression of grandeur from Zion to Capitol Reef and the Grand Canyon–breathtaking vistas of hoodoos at Bryce Canyon and the curvatures of Arches and Bridges. So this was a respite for me in the midst of the chaotic world of today.

God often touches my life like this–an event that could be stressful and negative turned into a peaceful time of admiring His handiwork. I guess the years have tempered me to not react with a gasp and screech, “Oh, no” when there’s a sudden change like this. As a smile crept slowly across my lips and heart, I bowed my head thankfully and said, “OK, God! I’m ready for another adventure.”


Being flexible helps when you travel. Share one of your travel plans that suddenly changed.


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My Thoughts · Travel

What Did You Do For the 4th of July?

The Horner family had a change in plans. Because of the Spring fire in southeastern Colorado, all the roads into Cuchara, CO were closed–Cuchara has been our Independence Day destination for years.

So I remembered I got an email about WestFest in Red River, NM and Michael Martin Murphey would be there–doing a concert/dance at the MotherLode Bar the evening of July 4. I checked it out and there would be lots going on in that little mountain town—-that sounded like a great alternative.

One sad part for me was that Lin, my husband, was sick and couldn’t join us, so I updated our shenanigans to him with photos and texts all day and evening.

The morning of July 4, 2018, my brother, niece, her husband, their two sons and I left Branson, CO about 9:00 am, making sure we had our holiday wares to wear with us. My niece and her two boys and I love to dress up in our patriotic outfits!

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My Niece and I All Lit for the 4th of July!

We stopped in Raton, NM for gas and refreshments. Our hearts broke as we drove through the fire-ravaged mountains above Cimarron, NM because of the fire there earlier in the year. It came really close to the city and destroyed so much of the natural beauty in the mountains near Cimarron, but the town was spared.

We stopped in Eagle Nest, NM at my favorite jewelry store, Eye of the Eagle, and I added a T. C. (Tommy or Thomas Charlie) necklace to my collection of earrings and bracelet. People already lined the streets already at 11:00 am for the 2:00 pm parade–talk about anticipation!

We arrived in Red River, NM about noon and walked around the vendors in the park–seeing some unique handmade articles. We had a delicious late lunch at Texas Red’s Steak House.

Then we had fun shopping the stores and timed it to see the Cowboy Shoot Out at Frye’s Old Town. I loved the Native dancers from the Taos pueblo–I participated with the dancers and many others in the Friendship dance.

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Eagle Dancer from the Taos Pueblo

From that point, our afternoon became an adventure. During the Shoot Out and Native dancing, my brother spied the ski lift operating, so we headed that direction. We wanted to ride it up the mountain, but it closed just as we arrived. Change of plans again–we saw the Zip Ride and investigated that.

Four of us rode the ZipRide–my niece wasn’t too sure about it, but she did it anyway. She and I rode together, and her husband and oldest son rode together besides us in a separate ride. At the beginning, we screamed moving backwards up an incline, then it was full force forward with more screams and laughter. At the end, I felt like we were crashing through the building, but it stopped abruptly–whew! I loved it!! The price was reasonable at $10 each.

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The Zip Ride in Red River, NM–what a blast!

The two boys–one about eight years old and the other one about twelve-thirteen–were so patient with our shopping, so we turned the rest of the afternoon over to them at the Go Kart place. They had a blast there, and I got some really great photos.

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My Two Nephews Waiting to Ride!

We kicked back for a little while, and I had funnel cake and a corn dog–what a combination. We moved the truck closer to the MotherLode in case the kids wanted to crash early and investigated whether our two youngsters could go in–yes, they could. The bouncer at the door said, “It’s first come, first served,” but they had reserved almost all the tables around the dance floor for the VIP customers, people who paid more for the tickets. How disappointing! We ended up sitting on stools at the bar all night.

They had a bigger crowd than they anticipated, so they had to put 4 – 5 rows of chairs on the dance floor which made the dancing crowded.

Michael Martin Murphey and his band entertained us with old country and western songs and new ones–we enjoyed the old ones more. He had a Native flutist that resonated with my soul. Also a young singer sang and yodeled, “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart,” doing a fantastic job of the old standby.

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Michael Martin Murphey at the MotheLode in Red River, NM 

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A Close Up of Michael Martin Murphey 

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My Brother and Niece Doing the Horner Thing–DANCE!

 

We danced; we laughed; we celebrated the fourth of July like it should be–with family doing something you love!

And who knows–will it be Cuchara, CO next year or back to Red River?

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Photo by Sharefaith on Pexels.com

What did you do for the fourth of July this year? I’d be interested. Do you have annual traditions on this holiday?

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Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 23 Twenty-six Hour Trip Home

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Lin’s sad face as we wait for our flight at Heathrow

Travel lovers! This is the last blog about our Ireland/England trip. I hope you have enjoyed it.

We were up twenty-six hours coming home–why I did that I’ll never know. It was the only way to travel without a lay over in New York City or Chicago and then losing two days of our trip. As long as it was, it didn’t match our first day on this trip at all.

We ran into another storm in Chicago that delayed us out of La Guardia and Midway. We got home about midnight, so we were delayed about one hour.

Our connection at Heathrow went smoothly. We got up at 5:00 am, showered and dressed. We ate our last big traditional English breakfast in the hotel. We went back to our room, gathered our suitcases and waited for the taxi.

Lin was convinced my suitcase was over fifty pounds–it was only 46! So I could have bought more souvenirs. We weighed it at the Concierge’s booth at the hotel so I could repack in a second bag if need be.

The taxi came early at 7:00 am, so we left & that We gave us ample time to get through security. We boarded one hour early–Lin went to the bathroom right then, so we were some of the last to board, but we had assigned seats, so it didn’t matter.

I had someone sitting next to me that drank alcohol the whole way. I watched two movies: Hacksaw Ridge and Collateral Beauty–two movies I wanted to see. I couldn’t sleep, so I read, journaled about the trip and played games on my iPad.

Somehow at Midway airport in Chicago, we got confused and ended up running to our gate which ended up being the farthest away. We came sailing to our gate and passengers there stopped us–there was a delay.

We boarded but sat for nearly an hour on the runway because of a storm. I did sleep on this flight.

We were beyond exhausted when we got home, and driving on the right side of the road seemed strange now.

I wore a St. Christopher medal the whole trip and I’m sure we received his care along the way.

My husband, Lin, is a blast to travel with anywhere we go. This trip will go down as one of the best.

I didn’t write or read once on our three week trip–usually I do three pages each morning of “Morning Pages” suggested by Julia Cameron in The Artist Way, but I did write this summary of the travel events of that long day home from my Morning Pages.

We’re now planning our next trip back to England and Ireland–our hearts were captured by the people, the scenery and the history.

Have you ever had a travel day like this? What happened?

Visit my web site for more information:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Visit my Etsy Shop for specials: Larada’s Reading Loft

Ireland & England · Travel

Day 22 Moyses Museum & Back to London–Oh, no!

After a hearty English breakfast once more, we checked out of the hotel and spent the morning enjoying some last moments in Bury St. Edmunds. We walked through the Street Market one last time savoring the colorful variety of the wares.

We took pictures in the St. Edmundsbury cathedral where they were renovating it.

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St. Edmundsbury Cathedral During Renovation

Interestingly enough, the Moyses Museum in Bury St. Edmunds is not on wikipedia, but I did find this:

This beautiful medieval museum in the heart of Bury St Edmunds houses rich and eclectic collections and changing exhibitions, and hosts events ranging from themed craft workshops for all the family to historical talks and lectures.

Steeped in history, Moyse’s Hall has looked out over Bury St Edmunds market place for almost 900 years.

The landmark 12th century building rich and varied past has included serving as the town Bridewell, workhouse and police station, first opening as a museum in 1899.

Today the museum offers a fascinating view into the past with collections that document the foundation of the early town – from the creation and dissolution of the Abbey of St Edmund to prison paraphernalia, plus remarkable collections relating to the notorious Red Barn Murder and fascinating insights into local superstitions and witchcraft.

https://www.visit-burystedmunds.co.uk/directory/moyses-hall-museum

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We continued our last morning tour around Bury St. Edmunds by going through this fascinating museum on the square. We had passed it several times in our trek around Bury—I’m so glad we spent the morning there.

Early in our stay at Bury St. Edmunds, we did a tour of the Abbey, and the guide told us about a book we needed to read: Suffolk Summer written by John T. Appleby who was an American Serviceman who toured Suffolk County during World War II on a bicycle. The royalties from this book were devoted  to maintaining the Old English Rose Garden on the Abbey grounds.

We looked for this book in the local bookstore and all around but could not find it. In fact, many of the townsmen knew nothing about it. Someone told us it might be in the museum and that’s where we found it.

This ended our stay here and we headed for London on a rainy afternoon to turn in our rental car and spend our last night in England–both us of sad to see this fantastic holiday come to an end.

We ate a delicious dinner at the hotel, exhausted from our 3 week trip but so satisfied with all that we had seen.

We repacked to make sure that all the souvenirs would fit–my suitcase was bulging at the seams.

Sleep was easy that night because we were so tired, but we both dreaded the next day.

Have you ever been to England? If so, what did you enjoy the most?

Visit my web site for more information:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

Visit my Etsy Shop for specials: Larada’s Reading Loft

Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 21 Lavenham

Back to the last three days of our magical trip to Ireland and England.

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At Meghan and Mike’s wedding, we were asking locals about sights to see around Bury St. Edmunds, and someone suggested Lavenham, “noted for its 15th-century church, half-timbered medieval cottages and circular walk. In the medieval period it was among the 20 wealthiest settlements in England.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavenham

They also said it’s only about twenty minutes away, so we took a winding road from Bury St. Edmunds to Lavenham–what a delightful time we had.

The looming architectural presence on arrival was St. Peter and Paul’s Church.

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St. Peter and St. Paul’s Church – Lavenham

The grounds are covered with crosses and graves. A sign greets you at the door: “Welcome to this Holy Place where people have worshipped and prayed for over 600 years.” The inside was massive and beautiful. I loved the stained glass windows and handcrafted cushions on the pews. The grandeur of the place was overwhelming and took my breath away.

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In the corner by the front door, Lin and I were surprised to see an American flag. This plaque explains its presence there:

IMG_4708.JPGAfter parking the car, we walked through this amazing town with medieval buildings and modern cars side-by-side.

IMG_4721.JPGOur next stop was the Guildhall of Corpus Christi – “By the late 15th century, Lavenham was at the centre of the East Anglian wool trade and had become one of the richest towns in England. To reflect this prosperity, four guilds were established in the town by the local merchant families. The most important of these was the wool guild, which founded the Guildhall of Corpus Christi in 1529.[2] Given the dominance of the cloth and wool trade, the guildhall soon came to function as Lavenham’s principal meeting place and centre of business, situated on the town’s thriving market place.

With the decline of the wool trade and Lavenham’s prosperity, the guildhall’s role changed. By 1689, and until 1787, the guildhall was in use as the Bridewell (a prison for petty offenders such as a reform school), and was then used as the workhouse.

It was restored by Sir William Quilter around 1911 and in 1946 given to the people of Lavenham. In 1951 it became the property of the National Trust for England and is today open to the public.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lavenham_Guildhall

Here we saw our first preserved cat–the British have a belief about cats.

Afterwards, we went to the plaza and found a hidden tea room, the Lavenham Blue Vintage Tea Rooms, for a full British Tea and scones. We relaxed on the patio and enjoyed the respite.

Our next stop was the Little Hall – “One of the oldest buildings in the best preserved of the Suffolk wool towns, this 14th century house was built for the Causton family of clothiers and its subsequent development has mirrored the changing fortunes of Lavenham.

Little Hall was restored by the Gayer-Anderson brothers who filled the house with art and artefacts collected during their extensive travels.”

http://suffolkmuseums.org/museums/Museums/little-hall-museum/

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Lavenham Little Hall was an Evacuation Centre for children being moved during World War II, and the children slept in the dormitory. Here are two portraits of children saved there.

The end the day we did a walking tour of Lavenham, seeing many examples of medieval architecture–the most notable to me was the Crooked house.

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Crooked House – Lavenham

We so enjoyed this step back in history.

Have you ever visited a medieval village? Do you like history? Let me know your thoughts.

My web site : https://www.laradasbooks.com

My Etsy shop for Father’s Day Specials : Larada’s Reading Loft

Ireland & England · Travel

Day 20 Train Trip to Cambridge

Our family met at the train station in Bury St. Edmund’s and rode the train to Cambridge–about a 45 minute trip. I loved looking at the lush green countryside as we whizzed by.

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Train Station in Bury St. Edmund’s

On the train ride, we passed by Newmarket, famous for “Newmarket has over fifty horse training stables, two large racetracks, the Rowley Mile and the July Course and one of the most extensive and prestigious horse training grounds in the world.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newmarket,_Suffolk

This was exciting for me to see–a country girl at heart!

After we arrived in Cambridge, a group of us walked to the main part of Cambridge and others rode the bus. Seeing all the beautiful buildings as we walked was awesome. Again as in Oxford, there were bikes everywhere.

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Bikes–The Preferred Means of Transportation

Look at how narrow the streets are!

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Narrow Streets

Cambridge is made up of several colleges, like Oxford.

Here’s Trinity College:

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We continued our walk and saw other colleges along the way. Then part of our group decided go “punting.”

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Our Group Punting

“A punt is a flat-bottomed boat with a square-cut bow, designed for use in small rivers or other shallow water. Punting refers to boating in a punt. The punter generally propels the punt by pushing against the river bed with a pole. A punt should not be confused with a gondola, a shallow draft vessel that is structurally different, and which is propelled by an oar rather than a pole.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Punt_(boat)

“The River Cam runs through the heart of Cambridge enabling you to enjoy fantastic views of the world famous Cambridge College ‘Backs’ from the comfort of a traditional Cambridge Punt.”

https://www.visitcambridge.org/things-to-do/punting-bus-and-bike-tours/punting-tours

While the group was punting, Lin, my cousin Meghan and I roamed around Cambridge and had a delicious lunch.

When the group got back together, part of us did a walking tour of Cambridge and saw more of the colleges: King’s College, Corpus Christi College, and Christ’s Church College. We were across the river from Christ’s Church College–what a spectacular view!

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Christ’s Church College

The tour guide told us that Steve Hawkings was often seen around Cambridge, and I would have loved to see him, but we didn’t. We did see Claire College and Trinity College a second time.  We also saw St. John’s College. We ended the tour with the historic Church of the Holy Sepulchre, known as the Round Church, and was built in 1130.

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The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

After a stop at a pub along the way for refreshment and relaxation, we walked back to the train station and made it back to Bury St. Edmund’s safely. What a memorable day in Cambridge!

My web site at https://www.laradasbooks.com

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Have you ever been to Cambridge? If so, what was your experience? I would love to hear about your experience there!