Day -22 – The Big Easy

angelI think this was my fourth trip to New Orleans over the years; a couple times for business, once as part of the 30 day Road Trip and now a trip with my husband.  I love my husband, he has become new favorite place.  Because, quite honestly, wherever he is, life is good!

There were a couple of things I’ve always wanted to do in the Big Easy, this was the trip that I finally got to do them.  First stop was the Metairie Cemetery.  The cemeteries in the area are famous, because they just aren’t like any others.  Because the water tables are so low here (hence why the hurricane damage is so severe) the bodies are stored in mausoleums.  Many of the structures are over 150 years old, others hold generations upon generations of bodies.  I found one mausoleum that held someone born in 1787; that was a little trippy for me.

The Weeping Angel is a famous sculpture in the Metairie Cemetery.  With the help of the internet, we found the Hymas tomb with the angel inside, I had pictured a sitting angel shedding tears; what I found instead was a fully prone angel weeping.  The natural lighting in the tomb, together with lurking sadness brought tears to my eyes.

Next stop was the Garden District, classic architecture, huge, well-kept homes, it was beautiful.  Everywhere you turned were gorgeous homes, when I found one for sale, Rich just laughed at me.  He didn’t even let me check the price, probably a good thing!

We took the mandatory walk around the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street, but our timing was bad.  It was just getting dark and it was Halloween weekend, we discovered in Las Vegas a couple of years ago that I am just not designed for big, scary crowds.  We beat a fast track out of there.  We hiked the rest a couple days later; down to Jackson Square, through the Financial District, along the Waterfront.  Our consensus is that New Orleans is an old, smelly, dirty city.  Great for partying if you have low standards, but otherwise, just another busy place with way too many tourists, without a specific reason, I doubt we will go back.


Day -20 – Leaf Peepin’

octoberI first heard the term “leaf peepers” just last month, talking with some New England friends.  They were getting ready for the traffic, etc. that comes with an influx of tourists, you know, leaf peepers, those that come to see the change in the fall colors.

For days, we’ve been driving through the upper Midwest; Minnesota to Wisconsin to Ohio to Pennsylvania to West Virginia.  The farther we went, the more color we saw.  The leaves are beautiful this time of year, I finally get it.  I know why people travel north in the fall to see the scenery.  There are so many trees covering the mountains, and to see the variety of colors is pretty awe-inspiring.  Now if only the sun would come out and shine on them!

Often, when asked what my favorite color is, my answer has been Sunset.  Not the Crayola color sunset, but the sky color, that light-infused color that only nature makes.  The fall leaves have that same inspired color.  I guess it is a toss up now, what is my favorite color?  Sunset or October?

Day -18 – Cleveland Rocks!

IMAG0431We totally had a conundrum today, we were cruising through Ohio on our way to Pennsylvania, and we had a choice to make:  Pro Football Hall of Fame or Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?  It was a tough choice, but today, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland won out.

We had been told that we only needed a couple of hours, that was far from the truth!  The Rock Hall is huge, there are six stories and so much to see and do.  Videos, music, mementos, instruments, great displays, it was sensory overload for me.

My music education is not quite as poor as my movie education, but it is still pretty limited.  For the first twenty years, I heard most everything except anything that would be considered “hard.”  My mom had her favorites:  Boots Randolph, The Kingston Trio; my sister was more in to Three Dog Night, The Moody Blues; I listened to oldies and watched American Bandstand.

I can still sing the words to every 50’s; 60’s 70’s pop song, and then I had kids and no longer controlled the media in my house.  For a few years (in my car) I listened to country, some more years with pop music, Journey and Foreigner are still my two favorite bands, although I can belt out some SuperTramp and Little River Band too.

The difference in music styles between my husband and I was never so evident as it was at the Rock Hall.  One of the coolest things they have is a video montage of all the people that have been inducted in to the Hall of Fame, by year.  As we sat through the video, I would sing along to all the songs I knew, if a song came on I didn’t know, invariably, Rich did know it and was singing along to it.  He keeps trying to introduce me to the magic that is a Jimi Hendrix guitar riff, I just don’t get it.

We didn’t manage to see all of the Hall before we had to hit the road again, so next time, we are staying longer and incorporating the Pro Football Hall of Fame in to the mix.  I suppose I can spend a week in Ohio?!?

Day -17 – The Big House

crandonIn off roading there are some places that call us home.  Moab, Utah.  Rubicon Springs, California.  Baja, Mexico.  Crandon, Wisconsin.  There are many others we love to spend time at, but if you are chasing mecca, these are the top four.

Moab offers a four wheel drive friendly environment, all the way around.  From the hotels and restaurants to the folks who live there, we may not all enjoy the same things, but we all want to be outdoors enjoying the beautiful red rocks of the area.  Easter Jeep Safari is my one, for sure, event there…and then we steal any other time we can get.

Rubicon Springs is a four wheel drive trail that has been around for a century, there is a way in and a way out.  Neither is easy, but if you have some skills, you can make the trail without breaking.  Each year in July we try to attend Jeepers Jamboree there and enjoy our time away from cell phones and all the other stresses of daily life.  It is really hard to stress when someone else if providing your meals and entertainment.  Great trail.

Baja is one of my favorite places, twice a year we find our way across the border to the streets of Ensenada and often times further south.  SCORE International hosts two races we enjoy, the 1000 in November and the 250 in early March.  It is awesome to be part of a race team in the wilds of Mexico, and the food!  I just can’t say enough about the fresh food we get to eat when we go.

Enter Crandon, a small northern town in Wisconsin, in the offroad race scene, it is referred to as The Big House.  2014 marks the 45th year of the Crandon race course, started and managed by a committee, we got to spend the day with them today.  These are the movers and shakers in this small town, they showed us everything.  I am so looking forward to going back there for a race day, what a trip that will be to finally make it to the Big House.

Day -16 – Minneapolis on Speed

IMAG0419Speed touring should be an Olympic sport, we are getting very good at it.  It’s what you do when you don’t have a lot of time and want to get a feel for a city.  My son lives in Minneapolis, been here a little over a year and this is our first visit.  When asked what he wanted to show us about “his” city, he kind of shrugged.  So our first action was to google “Top 10 things to do” and then the goal was to do what we could in an afternoon.

First stop was Matt’s Bar, just after noon to taste a “Jucy Lucy”  misspelled by accident back in the day, the Lucy is a hamburger with the cheese on the inside.  There is a dispute as to where it originated, but Matt’s is the front runner for the title.  We learned there is a technique to eating a Jucy Lucy, it’s kind of a bite/slurp move, if you don’t do that, you will end up with cheese all over your shirt.  Of course, it took us a few bites to figure out the method, so we were all cheesed before we got it right.

Next stop was the Mill City Museum, and here was where it was time to slow down.  This is a must see for anyone stopping in to Minneapolis.  The museum celebrates the history of the city as the world’s largest flour milling community.  Back when the city was being formed, the water from the Mississippi was used to run the mills; the predecessors to General Mills were the first to build the mills, explosions, labor issues, the Depression, the recovery, all played a part in the history of flour milling.  The building was abandoned in 1965; destroyed by fire in 1991 and reclaimed in the early 2000’s for the purpose of the museum.  It was awesome!  Truly one of the best museums we have been to, I would recommend it to anyone.  The architecture, the displays, even the movie, all well worth it.

From here we went on over to Minnehaha Park and walked the greenbelt.  The park is huge, there are stairs down to the water; the falls and the autumn leaves were beautiful in the rain today.  Next stop, back to Uptown to the Sculpture Garden.

The Sculpture Garden is all installation art, combining the big open spaces and greenness of the city with the cultural scene.  A beautiful area to just walk and explore.

By five o’clock, we were pooped, we had checked off several of the “to-do’s” on the Top 10 lists; criss-crossed the city and thoroughly enjoyed our day of speed touring one of the coolest cities in America, AND got to spend the day with my son.  I can’t wait to come back.


Day -12 – Civil War Continued

fortscottYay, the government shutdown is over, that means we can go to another National Park.  Today it was Wilson’s Creek in Missouri.  The site of another Civil War skirmish, only six and a half hours long, but involving over 20,000 soldiers.  Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield is actually done pretty well.  An extended museum is in the works, the staff is friendly (maybe because they just got two weeks paid vacation), the grounds are pretty awesome.  Lots of trails for both foot and horse traffic.  I really enjoyed our visit and the completion of another Junior Ranger badge.

Next day’s visit is Fort Scott in Kansas.  We were busy touring off-road parks all day, so didn’t get an early start to our National Park tour, and this was one place we needed it.  Sometimes you can gather all the info you need in a little more than an hour.  Fort Scott is not one of those kinds of parks.

We are going to have to go back, we were able to see the movie, part of the museum and an overview of the buildings, but there is a lot of history here.  The fort was built in 1842 for the purpose of keeping the Indians on the west side of the Mississippi, away from what they thought was “civilization” at the time.  Throughout the next couple of decades, times changed and the Indians were displaced again, the Civil War and the slavery debate created many conflicts in which the Fort participated.  The army sold the property and had to lease it back more than once.  It wasn’t until 1873 that the army left for good.  The city grew up around the Fort, creating a frontiersland home from a wide, open prairie.

It was a good visit, not near long enough to see everything, or get my Junior Ranger badge, that will take more work.  The best part, again today, was the staff, just ask a couple of questions and they will keep you way past quitting time to share what they know.  I love that.

Day -10 – Gratitude

gratitudeOur lives have been non-stop since the first of February, the start of our “season.”  I don’t expect it to slow down any now that we are in the off-season, but it will definitely change.

Today, I am incredibly grateful for all that I have been given in this life.  The people, the action, the attitudes, the lifestyle, the combination of all of it.  I love my life.  Over the weekend, we had 80 entries in our final event of the season.  We ended our Dirt Riot series with a fantastic weekend in Bridgeport, Texas.  Two weeks ago, we ended our WE Rock season with a competition among all the best rockcrawlers of the nation in Cortez, Colorado.  We threw Off-Road Expo in Pomona, California in the middle of those.  It has been a whirlwind, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

The people are the best, every where we go, I think “These are my favorite.” And then we go to the next place and I think, “no, these are my favorite.” And then we get them all together and I know, “Yep, these are my FAVORITE!”  These folks are incredible, there are some who step in no matter what needs done; others you can take a minute to catch up and feel like you’ve not been apart at all.  There are dogs that know us, there are kids that high-five us; when the teams get to the podium they are always good to thank us.  I wish they understood that it is us who are grateful; us who should be thanking them.  Without this great family of racers, wives, kids and dogs; without them, we’ve got nothing.  Everyday we strive to do our best so that they can enjoy their race experience.  We are so  thankful for all of them.


Day -4 Starting Over

dreamsMy birthday weekend was epic; for me at least: I got to dress fancy; be part of something bigger than myself; see 100+ friends; laugh loud and often; remember some folks I haven’t heard from in awhile; celebrate the 10/4 birthday club.  It was awesome!

Now, I have a few days under my belt and I’ve spent them thinking about what comes next.  I am 50 now, no more fifty in 365, I’m on the downhill side (as my sister so eloquently put it.)  So how do I continue 50 in 365??  About a month ago I wrote down a dozen plus ideas, now it is time to narrow them.

One of the best parts of the past year was learning new things, I didn’t master any of them, but I got to try a bunch.  Being introduced to new skills, new ideas has always been one of my favorite things.  So Goal #1 – Try 50 new things – the difference this year is that I’m going to try to master at least five of them.  No more just testing the waters, let’s find some new things to try that we can actually get good at.

Second best part of last year was going to new places.  Our world is so big and bold; Goal #2, Go to and Explore 50 new places.  I’ve already started making a list of places I’d like to go, this truly is one of the best things about our lifestyle!

New goal for the year is to do 50 new projects; I would expect these will turn mostly in to craft projects, but I’m ok with that.  I love to craft, I would love to be an artist, but I am not inventive enough to start from scratch.  So crafting it will have to be. In addition, I’ve got some big ideas I want to pursue…it’s time to go confidently in the direction of my dreams.

Goal #4 is also similar to something I’ve done for the last six years, to read 50 books, only this year, it’s going to be 50 new authors.  New to me at least, I have a habit of reading the same authors repeatedly, and while I am not going to turn my back on my favorites, my goal is to read 50 new authors in addition to the ones I follow.

A couple of other things on my list include writing 50 chapters in a book; sending 50 cards; and continuing to write in my blog.  I’m hoping to introduce you to a life well-lived, a family well-loved and a writer well-humbled by the folks who read her.  Here’s to LIVING 50 in 365!

  • Send 50 cards
  • Read 50 books and 50 new authors
  • Write 50*4 blogs
  • Do 50 new projects
  • Visit 50 new places
  • Try 50 new things
  • Write 50 chapters in a book

Day 0 – It’s My Birthday!!!

imagesI’ve always been of the belief that you shouldn’t set people up to fail…I want my husband and friends to know when my birthday is, no subtly, no game playing.  It’s MY BIRTHDAY, let me shout it from the rooftop.  Today, I am 50, half a century, five decades, 18,263 days….I have a girlfriend who told me once that our lives are too important to celebrate on just a single day.  But today is the day, the one I have been working toward all year, the culmination of my year of blogging.

365 days ago, I started, with a list of goals I wanted to complete, did I make them all?  No, but I put a serious dent in them.  I love setting goals, they help me to always keep striving for new things.  Years ago, when I was part of the Jaycees, we had a saying that “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.”  The same is true for all of us.  Each of us needs to challenge ourselves daily, set goals, live life….be the person YOU want to be, Create the Life that YOU Imagine.  It’s time to set up your year, your life, don’t wait, don’t just go through the motions, find your passion, set your date to begin and start.  I mean really start living.

My 50th year was awesome, I watched 8 classic movies I had never seen before; I read 53 books; I went to 36 new places; I tried 33 new things.  I love my life, I’m excited to start this new decade with all the great people that are in it.  Tomorrow I get to start all over again, I get to set new goals, I get to try new things, I get to set the standards for the next 365 days, I can’t wait for my life to start…or, rather continue, it’s awesome!


    • Goal:  Watch 50 classic movies – completed 8
      • Shane
      • Sunset Boulevard
    • Forrest Gump
    • Amadeus
    • The Manchurian Candidate
    • The Philadelphia Story
    • Yankee Doodle Dandy
    • A Place in the Sun
  • Goal:  Read 50 books – completed 53
    • Heroes of Olympus – Son of Neptune – Rick Riordan
    • Raising Jake – Charlie Carillo
    • The Rosetti Letter – Christi Phillips
    • A Fistful of Collars – Spencer Quinn
    • Plum Wine – Angela Davis-Gardner
    • The Shoe Queen – Anna Davis
    • Little Bee – Chris Cleave
    • Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – Jamie Ford
    • The Big Nap – Ayelet Waldman
    • Wicked Business – Janet Evanovich
    • The Last Dragonslayer – Jasper Fforde
    • The Woman who Died A lot – Jasper Fforde
    • Death Gets a Timeout – Ayelet Waldman
    • Track of the Cat – Nevada Barr
    • Blind Descent – Nevada Barr
    • The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag – Alan Bradley
    • Zero Day – David Baldacci
    • A Red Herring Without Mustard – Alan Bradley
    • The Last Runaway – Tracy Chevalier
    • Men and Dogs – Katie Crouch
    • Dreamfever – Karen Marie Moning
    • Viola in the Spotlight – Adriana Trigiani
    • Dreams of Joy – Lisa See
    • I am Half-Sick of Shadows – Alan Bradley
    • Speaking from Among the Bones – Alan Bradley
    • The Noticer – Andy Andrews
    • Artifacts of Death – Rich Curtin
    • The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Steven Chbosky
    • The Widow of the South – Robert Hicks
    • The Scent of Rain and Lightening – Nancy Pickard
    • Big Fish – Daniel Wallace
    • February’s Files – Rich Curtin
    • The Brightest Star in the Sky – Marian Keyes
    • The Kitchen House – Kathleen Grissom
    • Italian for Beginners – Kristen Harmel
    • Backseat saints – Joshilyn Jackson
    • The Art Forger – BA Shapiro
    • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – JK Rowling
    • Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen
    • Affairs of Steak – Julie Hyzy
    • The Map of True places – Brunonia Barry
    • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – JK Rowling
    • Life Studies – Susan Vreeland
    • The Confession – John Grisham
    • Wrapped in Rain – Charles Martin
    • The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival – Ken Wheaton
    • Montana 1948 – Larry Watson
    • The Little Giant of AberdeenCounty – Tiffany Baker
    • $1000 and a Good Idea – Sam Wyly
    • Full of Grace – Dorothea Benton Frank
    • Cash Out – Greg Bardsley
    • If You Lived Here I’d Know Your Name – Heather Lende
    • March – Geraldine Brooks
  • Goal:  Write 50*7 blogs – completed 165
  • Goal:  Visit 50 new places – completed 34
    • The Big Texan
    • The Sandia Tramway
    • Bryce Canyon
    • Zions National Park
    • Scorpion Bay
    • Lethbridge, Canada
    • Carnival Splendor Mexican Riviera Cruise
    • Cabo San Lucas
    • Puerto Vallarta
    • Tucson Jewelry Show
    • Guadalupe Mountain National Park
    • Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns
    • Birmingham
    • Sloss Furnaces
    • Civil Rights Museum
    • Civil War battleground
    • National Cemetery
    • Capitol Reef National Park
    • The Missions of San Antonio
    • Great Sand Dunes National Park
    • George Rogers Clark Memorial
    • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
    • Notre Dame University
    • Indianapolis Motor Speedway
    • Rubicon Springs
    • Dayton Courthouse – Scopes Trial
    • The First National Military Park – Chickamauga and Chattanooga
    • Fort Donelson
    • Mammoth Caves
    • International Motorsports Hall of Fame
    • Sea Life Center
    • Homer, AK
    • Kenai Fjords National Park
    • Whittier, AK
    • US Olympic Training Center
    • Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame
  • Goal:  Try 50 new things – completed 33
    • Dremel
    • Wheeling from behind the wheel
    • Junior Ranger
    • Melting Crayon Art
    • Civil War Re-enactment
    • Stung by Stingray
    • Spent a whole day in bed
    • Curling Match
    • Get Married again
    • Played on a Game Show (on the cruise)
    • Acupuncture
    • Take a bus in Mexico
    • Thriller Dance
    • Letter punching
    • Lit Chinese Lantern
    • TIG welding
    • Senior Ranger
    • Walk the Race Course
    • Monster Party
    • Wheeling in Moab
    • Broke on the trail
    • Tour a micro-brew
    • Fly in an experimental plane
    • Opened new food truck
    • Junior Civil War Historian
    • Halibut fishing
    • Skipping Rocks
    • Darts
    • Sisterhood badge
    • Zumba
    • Color Run
    • Disc Golf
    • Eyebrow Threading

I can’t wait to see what happens next, what’s on your list???

Day 1 – Embarrassing Moments

threadingI’ve always had a furry face; I come by it naturally – inherited from my mother.  I remember when I was a child finding her at the dining room table in the full sunlight, the Kleenex box turned upside down with the magnifying mirror perched on top and tweezers in her hand.  Years later, it was electrolysis for her.  She always blamed some medication she was on, but looking around at my aunts, I’m pretty sure she inherited it too.  Like the Wyns’ waddle under our chins and the Jarka thighs handed down to every female in my dad’s family.

The first time I realized that hair grew in odd places was one of my most embarrassing moments ever, I’m not sure I’ve ever told anyone.  So, I was in my early 20’s and we were out with a number of couples that were my parents’ age, one of the men reached up to wipe a hair away from my neck and said, “Oh! It’s attached.”  I was mortified, the hair was almost two inches long and I had never seen it.  Mostly because I had never looked for it, hair on my face was something I hadn’t expected at that age.

From that moment forward I have been diligent in looking for those errant dark hairs, not always keeping up with them, but I try. I have also promptly ignored all the blonde ones, after all, there are so many.

Last month in Alaska, my daughter-in-law, Brittany cut and colored my hair, she did an awesome job.  I have always had my eyebrows waxed at the same time, but her salon was out of supplies.  She casually suggested that I should try eyebrow threading, if I could find it.

So today, I did another new thing in my 50th year, I had my eyebrows threaded…and then she did the rest of my face – the whole damn thing.  It didn’t start out that way, just ended up like that.  Now, I kind of like the result, although I am afraid of what happens next, but I will deal with that when it happens.  In case you are wondering, yes, it hurt.  In fact, initially it was like someone flicking a rubberband against my face over and over again.  By the time she was done, it felt more like razorwire.  Be forewarned!

P.S.  Tomorrow is Day 0…my 50th birthday, I can’t wait!