Sunday, September 9, 2012


Travel~ "to follow a course or path as if by traveling". This definition of travel in the Webster dictionary brought to mind my daughter Tess and her most recent path that she has chosen to pursue. Travels, as I have talked about many times in previous blogs, can be followed near and far, and often the dreams that we have of traveling, can be part of our adventure. 

Tess is a beautiful, creative and loving 21 year old, who has chosen to live her life to the fullest. She, after 3 years tumultuous years as a college student in Chico, Ca, has finally decided to pursue her dream as a professional photographer.  What she has learned in the process of her very full life, is that she needs a college education (she's good, but wants to be the best) in order to get where she wants to go. 

So off she went a few weeks ago, on her newest and biggest adventure yet. As a new student at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara, Ca, she will learn what it takes to be the best.  She is excited about this  prospect; about living and working with people and professionals who think and see the world as she does. In her own words, "Mom, I am living my dream". 

As I mentioned earlier, Tess has been gone from home for 3 years now. But this time, as she left home, it was different for me.  She has been my traveling partner on countless adventures; our biggest and certainly not the last was London when she graduated from high school.  But this time when she left, I knew she was serious, I felt it. I know my girl is a lot like me in many ways, and I know for sure that the Wanderlust gene is set deep in her soul. 

This is a note I wrote to friends the night Tess moved to Santa Barbara. Since then, I got back out on the road again, cruising the 5 hours south on Hwy 101 to see my girl, where, as I pulled up to see Tess standing at her door, her smile said it all~

Miss Tess moved on to her next adventure this evening.

She is off to Santa Barbara and will start school on the 4th. I have loved having her here, although she has been a "whirlwind" in my house and has left reminders of her carefree ways. 

It is really the first time in several years that she has called my home her "home", and it has been. We have shared wonderful, long summer days, talked many hours about what it all means, and shared sadness about life and death. She is deeply saddened to hear about Jeanne (a very ill family friend), and remembers talking with her in their brief encounter about their shared love of horses. 

We laughed and giggled. Drank beer together and argued about right and wrong. I marveled that she actually made many attempts at keeping herself organized and tidy. She listened patiently to my constant urging to stay on top of things. There were many opportunities for her to listen, and she did with interest, to my many stories of laughter and tears and worry and heartache and joy of years past. We laughed at the stories I told her of our girlie adventures, and she was always willing to listen when I felt like talking. 

She loves that I have 2 friends that mean the world to me. I have been amazed and grateful for the advise she has offered when I needed a gentle ear.  Yesterday, when I replied to her question about my day at work, she said, "well Mom, I think you should do whatever you can to help those kids while you're there". Well ok then.  

Tess showed me something about herself that I really already knew, but wasn't sure she could handle...she is a free spirit. A perfect combination of the brave, adventurous, kind hearted. creative and spirited people that her genes are made up of.

She is my beautiful girl and when I walked in to an empty house tonight, I felt her absence immediately. We said goodbye before I went out, but realized that I will miss my girl like crazy. I have never felt the loss of her like I do right now, despite all the times she's left. I felt like she was really happy to be here this time, and we made the best of it. 

Today I asked her a question. What do you do if you want something in life? ..she said "you manifest it, you believe in it".  That's my girl. 

...I wish you many days traveling the world, my sweet Tess, finding new adventures along the way to fill your life with Infinite Love and Gratitude...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Return to Bodie

Many years ago, as a young girl, I traveled a long and dusty road to the ghost town of Bodie. I believe it hadn't been my first trip, but this particular one is clearly still there in my memory.  So strong is that memory, that as my husband and I pulled up to the top of the hillside above Bodie on a hot August day last year, I found that young girl again. There I was, from the back seat of my dad's Galaxy 500, viewing this strange vast desert, dotted with the remnants of a once-booming mining town, this place called Bodie.  Back in 1964, the road to Bodie had been long and dusty...10 miles long to be exact.  Now, it is still long and dusty, but 3 of the 10 miles are paved. I found myself slightly annoyed that this new, paved road was interfering with the memory of my sister, my cousin and I bouncing through the dust. pushing strands of hair from our sweaty faces, and wishing desperately to get to this place called Bodie, a real ghost town. Peeking through windows, stepping into worn wooden buildings, and standing alongside an old bathtub once used, but now resting amidst the tumbleweeds.  I had the hint of remembrance and familiarity of these places, etched in black and white much like the landscape and the weathered structures.  But then I began to see the place in a much different light than I had seen as a 7 year old. It saddened me a bit to think of this town once full of life and people and promise which has bravely stood for over a hundred years, daring the elements to destroy what is now left, but here Bodie still stands.  When I was here last, we ran from place to place looking in windows and bravely standing in front of headstones in the tiny cemetery on the hillside, my sister and cousin daring me to go in to the jailhouse (from my experience as the youngest and and easiest to tease, I dared not). Back then, the 6 of us (my dad, aunt and uncle and us girls) were lone visitors, maybe another family or two that made the long dusty drive from Hwy 395. Now Bodie has become a tourist attraction and a California State Park. We walked along and chatted with visitors from Germany (Germans love U.S. ghost towns), Spain and several visiting from our east coast. I suppose that is a good thing, sharing this treasure and our state history with those curious enough to make the trek, and lovingly under the care of several hearty State Park Rangers who watch over the place, braving the weather these Sierra Nevada's have to offer.

 To me, this old ghost town is like no other. It's real. At least it was real, back before every single man, woman and child high-tailed it out of there after the mining boom ended. A small community of houses, church, a school and everything else a new town had to offer back in the late 1800's. These buildings hold secrets that we can only create in our imaginations, here one day, and gone the next.  Belongings left as they if the occupants had just gone to church for Sunday service.  There was the old wagon, sitting very likely in the same spot it had been in when we climbed up on it, 3 young girls, smiling at my dad as he snapped a photo with his old Kodak so many years ago.  I found that photo a while back, the image of us, waving to my dad, and a much older me...the same worn buildings and exquisite landscape, faded with time and standing quietly behind our smiling faces. 

The land is unforgiving in this high desert.  Extreme heat every summer, and snow that covers already tired buildings each winter. I guess I'll be back to Bodie. It holds for me memories I occasionally bring out to linger on... of long dusty roads, running hand in hand and hearing that familiar "thud-thud" from our keds, bringing up little puffs as they hit the dirt. 

...And somewhere, out there off in the distance, turning my head to the wind, I hear my dad calling out to us in the echo of this old place.

(Click on images to see larger)

Peering through a lonely old house, what were the chances I might capture the image of a long lost soul?...notice the image in the left corner!

For you Dad

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Big Trees

 Our cabin sits near a grove of centuries old sierra redwoods. I often walk up an old road with my dog and when I get to a place as that road narrows, I am surrounded by some of the "younger" redwoods.  I will stand there, just the dog and I and close my eyes and listen to the silence. It is deafening. It is magnificent.  I will look up, I am surrounded. I am happy.

This is a walk we took with our dog, who runs and runs and smells the earth and life renewing itself with each passing moment.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

From Farm to Table...A Bucket Full of Blueberries

My last stop on my most recent road trip to Malibu, was Santa Barbara Blueberry Farm right on Hwy 101 in Gaviota. This is my second visit to this charming U-pick, with 22 acres of plump, juicy blueberry's literally right at your finger tips for the picking. An absolute gem, the farm has a season that runs from Memorial Day until the berry bush's have been picked clean. So with pail in hand, we were instructed by the young gal working the stand to walk about a 1/4 mile up the road to the yellow flag and start your picking there, and off we went. We stopped to say hi and coo at the cutest baby piglet we've ever seen, a couple of sweet as can be goats, and chickens pecking in the dirt. Past a lovely pond under an ancient giant oak and well worn picnic table and on to the row of bushes with the yellow flag.  I wandered up rows of bushes chock full of berries, and easily finding perfectly ripe and ready for picking berries in no time...lost in thought on this perfect warm summer day, the only sounds I heard were my own humming and the hungry moo of the cows in the barns behind us.  An hour and half later, our buckets were full (just about 3 pounds) and back down the little dirt road we walked in happy silence.  Forking over $15 for each pail (an amazing bargain for these no spray blue's) we were on the road again way too soon.

Find out what I came out of the oven on my other to cook love to bake...


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Load Up, Brown Dog"

Brody's our dog.  He's three now..a chocolate lab that sometimes chases his tail, the squirrel on the fence and anything we throw past him. You would think that since he's a labrador retriever, he'd bring those balls, sticks and (the occasional) pinecone back to us so we could fling it past him again and again.  But Brody loves to go get it... he just won't bring it back to us. Sure, he comes running back at full speed, so proud that he's got whatever we threw to him in his mouth, but give it up? No sir. 

But despite Big Brown's lack of retrieving skills (or our lack of teaching him), he's turned out to be a darn good dog.  He's a great traveler, and in his three years , Brody's gone on the road with us whenever we've been able to load him up in the truck.  In Ireland, "Brody" means "from the muddy place", and little did I know that when we brought him home, he would do his best to find and tromp through any mud everywhere he goes. During the rainy season, which has gone on and on, I see him from the kitchen window trotting to the back door after roaming our small hillside... mud caked on his big old paws.  With all the rain we've had this year, here and in our mountain cabin, I taught Big Brown (just as I did my children on entering the house) to wipe his feet.  Yes, he does. On command, before as I open the door, I say "wipe your feet"...he turns in a circle on the outside mat, then comes in, turns another circle and waits patiently for his favorite treat in the world, an apple. Not bad for a dog, I'd say. 

Some in our family call him a "kitchen dog". Hey, he's a lab. He knows where the goods are. He'll hang out with me as I cook and bake, hoping for a morsel to fall from grace.  If he's lucky enough, I keep him busy as I tell him, "get it!" 

I thought I'd feature our dog because not only is he a good dog, but he's also a good lookin' boy, and since I write about our traveling adventures, I thought he deserved some notice. So here he is in some old and new adventures.  Our good dog Brody.

Official name?  Sonic's Red Brody 

Lover of water and balls

...and did I mention running and running and running....

How's that for "expressive"? 

Running in snow gets him good and tired
A favorite frisbee he claimed in the lake
Snow dog

"Oh boy, another adventure"!!