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Eastern & Southern USA

Road Trip - 2003

If I were to describe this year's trip I could sum it up in one word - LOST. It didn't seem to matter where we were or what we were doing, from laundry to the White House, we were constantly getting lost.

This was our third road trip. Other than a visit with Karen's mother in Hanover, Ontario, and me wanting to see Niagara Falls again, we had no real destination. We briefly discussed 'perhaps' heading to Nova Scotia. It was a pretty big undertaking to head entirely across the continent but we were totally thrilled with the idea.

2003 Eastern & Southern USA Road Trip Photo Album

International Peace Gardens

Devoted to World Peace

The International Peace Garden is a 2,339 acre Botanical Garden along the world's longest unfortified border - Canada and the United States. It is between the state of North Dakota and the province of Manitoba.

Dedication of the International Peace Garden took place on July 14, 1932, with 50,000 people present. The simple boundary marker was a cairn built of stones gathered from both sides. On the face of the Cairn it states:

To God in His Glory. We two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live we will not take up arms against one another.

Karen wasn't able to leave until the Monday after she did payroll. I wanted to visit the International Peace Gardens so I headed out alone on Saturday morning, drove through Estevan into the states and across North Dakota. I toured the Peace Garden then stayed Sunday night in Portage LaPraire. I picked Karen up at the Winnipeg airport on Monday about noon and we were on our way.

Richer, Manitoba

We were barely half an hour east of Winnipeg on the #1 highway, when we came upon a unique roadside store full of wood carvings, lawn furniture, cement statues that came in every size and price range. Once again the best laid plans for speed and urgency went out the window and we just had to stop.

Geppetto's, Richer, Manitoba

Karen was really trying to figure out how to fit patio furniture in the trunk of the car and ended up buying a toilet paper holder - carved like a toilet of all things. Geppetto Land

Of course, there's always time for a snack - ice cream cones were just perfect. Then we were on our way.

Kenora, Ontario

Our first stop was at an old but perfectly charming log cabin motel right on the shore of Lake of the Woods. Karen brought a crib board with her and tried desperately to get me to play cards - not likely. This, by the way, was the last time she packed cards. We spent a relaxing night wandering around the docks and sitting on our deck.

We crossed into the states at International Falls. The border patrol asked us (what we thought was a strange question) "Where did you two meet?" Our answer was "playing pool in Calgary". It wasn't until later that we figured out his question was because I had been traveling alone from Calgary, into the States, back into Canada at International Peace Gardens, then mysteriously, at International Falls, I had a passenger.

We continued south on highway 53 through Duluth and then turned east on highway 2 and spent the night at Bad River Casino Resort in Ashland, Wisconsin. We gambled until our $20.00 was gone and got ourselves off to bed.

The next day we headed east and crossed back into Canada at Soo/Sault Ste. Marie. We had some time to make up, so we were pushing it a bit. We needed to get as close as possible to catch the South Baymouth Ferry from Manitoulin Island to Tobermory in the morning. We stayed at Espanola and caught the Chi-chiman ferry early in the morning.

Hanover, Ontario

From Tobermory, we traveled south to surprise Karen's sister, Sherry, at their Dreamaker Campground just east of Southampton. While there, we had Sherry call Birdie (Karen's mom) to make sure she would be home since she had no idea we were coming. Karen wanted to surprise her, too.

After a brief visit with Sherry and her husband Jim, we took off on a quick tour of Sauble Beach and French Bay Road where Karen had spent most of her summers as a teenager (oh so many years ago).

Dreamaker Campground, Southampton
Jim - Owner and Brother-in-Law

We continued south again to Hanover where her mom lives - and headed straight for the Legion where we found her mother relaxing and sipping on a beer after serving over 300 people at a banquet.  Needless to say the surprise was effective and the expletive was heard throughout the room.

We spent a couple of days visiting with Birdie, touring the town and visiting all of Karen's teenage haunts. (For a price, I have stories to tell.)

St Jacobs, Ontario

Our next destination was Niagara Falls but along the way we "shopped" at the villages of Neustadt for antiques and St. Jacobs for Mennonite wares.

Hamel Brooms

St. Jacobs is the home community of many old order Mennonites, who come to town via horse and buggy. The Mennonite culture is also reflected in many of the craft and gift items for sale in the shops. There is interpretive centre "The Mennonite Story" at the Visitor Centre.

The village is filled with shops of all kinds. The Quilt Gallery showcases exciting examples of quilting excellence. This region has become known as "the quilt capital of Canada".

We toured all the unique shops on main street and visited Hamel Brooms where they still make hand-made corn brooms. This being the age of "Harry Potter", Karen bought 3 kid-sized brooms for her grandchildren. I bought two antique oil lamps - one for myself and one for my mom and maple syrup gifts for everyone back home.

It was 4 in the afternoon before we hit the road. We had a hard time leaving this quaint little town behind but we still had to make it to Niagara Falls before night.

St. Jacobs Website

Niagara Falls

The only thing I really wanted to do at Niagara was ride the Maid of the Mist. I was there a few years before but didn't get a chance. The first night we just drove around town and toured main street.

At breakfast the first morning we booked an all inclusive tour for the Maid of the Mist, Botanical Garden, Butterfly Conservatory, Whirlpools, dinner in the Tower, and Journey Behind the Falls. It was well worth the price.

We met two other ladies from California on the tour who were traveling somewhat like we do, so we had a good time exchanging stories. They were heading to the Smoky Mountains and Graceland. At this stage, we were heading for Nova Scotia, so we bid them farewell at the end of the day. We have always regretted not getting their contact information so we could visit them again on our travels.

Late that afternoon it had started to rain and continued through the night. We were in the middle of two storms - one heading east from the midwest tornados and the second a storm coming up the eastern seaboard. It wasn't looking too promising weatherwise.

In the morning we did a walking tour of the downtown area, wandering through the shops, and had lunch at the Rainforest before heading out of town - or should I say - attempting. We weren't lost here but definitely ended up in the wrong places at the wrong time.

Why getting Health Insurance is hard on your nerves!!

Being very clever, we crossed into the States at the less busy border crossing, the Whirlpool Bridge, fully expecting that there would be a duty free shop where Karen could buy travel health insurance. We were half-way over the bridge before we realized there was no duty free shop. At the point of no return, we had to explain to the (nice) customs officer that we were sorry but we had to do a u-turn and go back to Canada. Wrong. There was no place to turn around. We would have to drive 5 miles down the road to the Rainbow Bridge crossing (remember - the busy one we tried to avoid) and the (not so nice) customs officer interrogated us because we had only been in the states 10 minutes. Our story about having to return to get health insurance was, for some reason - suspicious? Made perfect sense to us.

We finally found the duty free shop, drove in, parked, and went inside to get insurance. Wrong again lizard lips. The only place we could get travel insurance was at AAA on the other side of town. At this point Karen was saying "forget it" but I insisted we were not going into the states without insurance. Did I mention that the only exit from the duty free shop is back into the states? After considerable explanation about why we couldn't do that, the (sweet) parking attendant stood on the spikes so we could drive OUT the IN ramp without ripping our tires to shreds.

Niagara Falls Website

Finally, two hours later, with insurance in hand we headed into New York State.

Old Fort Niagara

The history of Old Fort Niagara spans more than 300 years. During the colonial wars in North America a fort at the mouth of the Niagara River was vital, for it controlled access to the Great Lakes and the westward route to the heartland of the continent. It remained an active military post well into the 20th century.

The three flags flown daily above the parade ground - American, British and French (early white) - symbolize the nations which have held Fort Niagara. Each competed for the support of a fourth nation: the powerful Iroquois Confederacy.

The French established the first post here, Fort Conti, in 1679. Its successor, Fort Denonville (1687-88,) was equally short-lived. In 1726, France finally erected a permanent fortification with the construction of the impressive "French Castle."

Britain gained control in 1759, during the French & Indian War and held the post throughout the American Revolution. In 1796, Britain was forced, by treaty, to yield it to the United States. Fort Niagara was recaptured by the British in 1813. It was ceded to the United States a second time in 1815 at the end of the War of 1812.

Fort Niagara was a barracks and training station for American soldiers throughout both World Wars. The last army units were withdrawn in 1963.

Old Fort Niagara

We took Hwy 18, which parallels Lake Ontario and came upon an old cemetery that caught my eye because of all the flowers and red, white and blue ribbons from the recent American Decoration Day. The weather had cleared a bit so we stopped and for a brief while, wandered amongst the headstones, some of which dated back to the early 1700's. This is another unusual commonality Karen and I share - we like to walk through cemeteries and read the writings and epitaphs.

Canandaigua, New York

We stopped at Canandaigua for the night. While watching the weather report, we realized if we continued with our original plan to go to Nova Scotia, we would be heading right into the storm coming up the east coast. Nova Scotia in the rain wouldn't be much fun.

It was at this point we decided to head south towards Graceland, with a side trip to the east coast so we could at least say we made it. We were up early the next morning - heading south now instead of east and ran right into a Walmart. My car went out of control and pulled into the parking lot. That was good for about two hours of shopping. We stuffed everything into the car (somewhere between the corn brooms and maple syrup) and we were off again.

Lost in New Cumberland, PA
What do Police Cars & Laundry have in Common?

New Cumberland, a borough in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, was incorporated on March 21, 1831. It is noted for it's yearly Apple Festival. For us, it is also noted for having great cops that will escort old ladies to the laundromat - flashing lights and all. Yes, there's IS a story behind this one.

My mother always told me if I was in trouble to ask a policeman for help. I'm sure that asking for directions to a laundromat wasn't what she had in mind. Nevertheless, that's exactly what we did.

We saw a policeman hiding in a parking lot behind a building - obviously a speed trap. We pulled in beside him. He looked at us suspiciously, checked us over, and must have decided we were harmless. When he rolled down the window, we asked him for directions. He asked why we wanted to go there which we thought was a strange question - why else would we want to go to a laundromat? Regardless, he proceeded to give us directions. "Turn right from the parking lot, through this intersection turn left - the road jogs - take the right side - go through two intersections because the first dead ends - cut through.....oh, never mind - follow me". With that he proceeded to escort us. I'm sure he heard us laughing the whole way. When we arrived at the laundromat, he flashed the red lights, gave a quick whoop of the siren, and waved us goodbye.

It wasn't until we were inside the laundromat that we figured out his question about why we wanted to go there. Apparently, we were in a "same sex" laundromat - and we were the wrong sex. No matter, laundry is laundry and we managed to get ours done. While we waited, we went next door to a pizza joint and had our first "stromboli".

We packed up the car and headed back to the hotel. Oops, lost again!!

After driving up and down some streets, backtracking, and turning a few circles, we finally stopped at a convenience store and asked for directions. Once again, we were found and managed to get ourselves back to the hotel.

Lost in Lancaster, PA

Somewhere in Lancaster County we took a short cut into Amish country where we found an old cemetery, church and schoolhouse. It turned out this shortcut was a never ending road, that continually crisscrossed and circled. The map didn't even show the small intersecting roads. When we crossed a small bridge for the second time or possibly the third, it was clear - we were lost.

We asked one motorist how to get to the highway and even he didn't know. We saw a UPS truck. I flagged him down and asked "Do you know where we are?" With a chuckle, he gave us explicit instructions and we were unlost and on our way. Another parcel safely delivered.

Along the way, we stumbled into a small town where the entire main street had been turned into gift shops - even the Churches. They were all packed full of unique homemade crafts. We spent a delightful hour wandering through these shops. At some point we realized that most of the shops didn't even have staff and the same lady was looking after several of them. It was like stepping back in time.

We also toured several cemeteries. Of special interest to us was the war memorials dating back to the 1700's. Decoration Day having just past, the cemeteries were beautifully decorated with flowers. Many of the homes along the route had wreaths and yellow ribbons on their doors and in their yards - something we just don't see at home.

Washington, D.C. - Lost Again

The Three H's - Hell, Hate, Horrible

It wasn't until I got home and looked at the road map where we mark our route that I saw H's that Karen had marked around Washington. Her note at the bottom of the map says City from Hell - Hate this City - Horrible".

I don't think we have ever been anywhere we didn't enjoy but truthfully, we really didn't like Washington, D.C. We found it to be very unfriendly and way too hectic for our liking. Navigation through and around it just doesn't lend itself to tourists.

Our first mistake was to ask for directions. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the person who gave us directions sent us smack dab into the heart of a district we had no business being in. We found our way out of that mess and landed in downtown Washington during 5 o'clock rush hour. With horns honking at me for being stopped at a red light, traffic circles, and roads and lanes that ended abruptly, I was totally exasperated. Karen was trying desperately to read the maps and watch for road signs. Finally nerves popped and she yelled "STOP! RIGHT HERE! RIGHT NOW!"

I pulled immediately into a parking area and stopped. Well, God must have been watching over us because we were in the parking lot of a Church. To my surprise Karen said "Let's go in." We soon discovered we had entered into one of the most famous Churches in the States. The relaxing, self directed tour took us through the history of the Church intertwined with the history of the United States. As it turns out, this was the most interesting thing we did in Washington - albeit the only thing we did. Refreshed, we ventured into the maize of roads and found our way to Arlington.

After getting settled into our hotel, we headed out to see Arlington Cemetery where we encountered a "sorry closed" sign. No matter, we can come back tomorrow.

Then we hit the maze again in search of the White House. This time all roads seemed the be one way and definitely not the way we wanted to go. We could see the White House but couldn't get to it.

We picked up on the tail of tour bus thinking they would lead us there. Wrong. He entered a "busses only" road and we were left on the one way roads going nowhere again.

Finally, we gave up and somehow navigated our way back to Arlington. It was about this point that a torrential downpour hit. We were still in the path of the storm coming up the east coast. The windshield wipers just couldn't go fast enough and it was impossible to see. I had to pull over on the side of the road which triggered a whole new symphony of horn honking!!

We pulled into a restaurant, sopping wet, and totally fed up. We determined we had two choices 1) find a tour bus, or 2) get the hell out of Dodge! It took us about two seconds flat to decide we had seen enough. We saw the White House from a distance and we saw the Arlington Cemetery from the 'sorry closed' gate. The thought of tranquil Graceland sounded perfect. We wished, then, that we had followed our two friends from Niagara to the Smoky Mountains. We were on our way to Tennessee.

It all looks pretty simple here!

I can think of a few more H's - haggard, hail storm, hairsplitting, harassing, harrowing, harsh, headache, hopeless, hostile, hyper and finally 'Humorous and Hasty' (for our exit).

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee

The Smoky Mountains are 95% forest and named for the smoke like blue-mist haze that surrounds them. The further west we got, the better was the weather. By the time we got to Tennessee, we had left the storms and memories of Washington behind. It was definitely more relaxing and we started to enjoy ourselves again.


Just before Knoxville, We decided to take a small side trip to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge. Dollywood is like a small town made up of amusement rides and attractions; it's theme - music. Karen and I walked the main strip that night and wandered through the boutiques and gift shops. I could tell Karen was itching to get on the roller coaster, but I was having nothing to do with it.

The park first opened in 1961 as a small tourist attraction named "Rebel Railroad", featuring a steam train, general store, blacksmith shop, and saloon. In 1966, Rebel Railroad was renamed "Goldrush Junction" and in 1970, the Cleveland Browns football team purchased the attraction.

In 1976, Jack and Pete Herschend bought Goldrush Junction, and in 1977, renamed it "Silver Dollar City Tennessee" as a sister park to their original Silver Dollar City, near Branson, Missouri. In 1986, Dolly Parton became a co-owner, and the park was renamed "Dollywood".

Dollywood Website

Nashville, Tennessee

We arrived in Nashville late in the afternoon and found our way to the Grand Ole Opry relatively easily. I was surprised (and a little disappointed) as it wasn't until we were there that I realized the Grand Old Opry wasn't at the Ryman Auditorium anymore. We were too late for any tours but the attendant did allow us to peek inside the auditorium just to be able to say we saw it.

The Opry Entertainment Complex consists of four unique entertainment venues: the Grand Ole Opry House, the Acuff Theatre, the Opry Museum, and the Opry Plaza. The courtyard is absolutely beautiful. The magnolias were in full bloom while we were there and we marveled at these beautiful trees - something neither one of us had seen before.

We debated staying the night in Nashville so we could do the tours and take in a show but finally opted to leave and headed out to Memphis. Nashville is definitely on our plans for another year. Although our stay in Nashville was very short, just seeing the Grand Ole Opry was definitely a highlight of the trip for me.

The Grand Ole Opry began in 1925, a broadcast from the radio station WSM. A month after going on air, one of the nation's most popular announcers, George D. Hay, was hired as WSM's first program director. Hay's weekly broadcasts proved enormously popular. In 1927 he renamed the show the Grand Ole Opry.

Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl

The Opry went through a number of homes in several parts of Nashville before settling, On June 5, 1943, at the Ryman Auditorium, a former religious meeting house built in 1892. The Opry stayed at the Ryman for nearly 31 years.

On October 2, 1954, a teenage Elvis Presley made his first (and only) performance there. Although the public reacted politely to his revolutionary brand of rockabilly music, after the show he was told by one of the organizers (Opry manager Jim Denny) that he ought to return to Memphis to resume his truck-driving career.

The Ryman was home to the Opry until March 16, 1974, when the show moved to the Grand Ole Opry House located nine miles to the east of downtown Nashville.

The original six-foot circle of dark, oak wood was cut from the stage of the Ryman Auditorium ensuring that future Opry stars will one day take their place inside that famed round piece of stage. They will enter the circle that remains unbroken, and they will feel the presence of the hundreds who've come before.

Opry Website

Memphis, Tennessee


Graceland is the name of the 13.8 acre estate and large white-columned mansion that belonged to Elvis Presley. At the age of 22, on March 26th, 1957, he purchased the home located at 3734 Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, Tennessee, for $100,000.00. Opened to the public in 1982, it currently serves as a museum.

Graceland was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1991 and declared a National Historic Landmark on March 27, 2006.

By the time we arrived in Memphis, we were out of the cold and wet entirely and totally melting with the heat. We booked the tour of Graceland and they had huge air conditioners blowing on us in the lineup. They bussed us to Graceland and we then proceeded through the self guided tour with headsets to explain the various exhibits.

The second floor containing Elvis' private bedroom, wardrobe room, bath and office are not part of the tour.

Elvis changed the color schemes in the living/music room through the years and redecorated and remodeled the kitchen several times. The kitchen was not added to the tour until his Aunt Delta passed away in 1993. Today, it remains as Elvis last decorated it in the mid-1970's, complete with harvest gold and avocado colored appliances.

The pool room was draped from ceiling to floor with 400 yards of fabric. The decor mixes European, Asian, and American styles of various eras.

The Hall of Gold is an 80 foot long room lined with gold and platinum albums and singles. There are many display cases of trophies, Grammy awards, posters, memorabilia, guitars, clothing, and jewelry.

The back yard is a tranquil place with horses still kept in the paddock. His palomino, Rising Sun, died in 1986. The golden palomino, Sun's Reflection, now at Graceland, is a distant relative to Rising Sun.

The Meditation Garden was built in the mid-1960's as a place of refuge and peace. Elvis loved his home and the Meditation Garden was a special part of it. It is fitting that this Garden became his final resting place.

Elvis Aaron Presley, was born in a two-room house in Tupelo, Mississippi on January 8th, 1935. His twin brother, Jessie Garon, was stillborn. His first guitar, purchased at the Tupelo Hardware Company, cost $12.95 . He and his parents moved to Memphis, Tennessee in 1948, and Elvis graduated from Humes High School on June 3rd, 1953.

In 1954, he began his singing career with Sun Records in Memphis. He starred in 33 movies, won 3 Grammys and, globally, sold over one billion records. On September 9, 1956, Elvis made his first appearance Ed Sullivan Show drawing an unprecedented 80% of the National Viewing Audience - the highest ratings ever for any television variety show.

His talent, good looks, sensuality, charisma, and good humor endeared him to millions, as did the humility and human kindness he demonstrated throughout his life. Elvis died at his Memphis home, Graceland, on August 16, 1977.

Elvis Website

It's hard to describe the feelings Karen and I had in Graceland. We both grew up in the 50's and 60's and knew first hand the Elvis history and how we felt about him and his music during those years. I don't think there is anyone our age that doesn't have some memories or what we were doing when Elvis did something.

I know where I was when he was on the Ed Sullivan Show - watching my babysitter (Marilyn) swoon in front of the TV. I know who my boyfriend was when he sang Can't Help Falling in Love (Norman). I know what movie theater I was at when I watched Girls Girls Girls (Capitol) and exactly where I was living the first time I played the album Elvis as Recorded at Madison Square Garden (Okotoks).

I know precisely where I was and how I felt when I heard he had died. In the hearts and memories of every baby boomer, Elvis will live forever.

Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, Texas

We left Memphis right after the Graceland tour and headed west on I-40 into Arkansas. The countryside was beautiful, so thick and lush and we had a chuckle or two over the "creek" names. "Daddy's Creek" in one area, Momma's Creek" in another - we said if "Bubba's Creek" comes up - we are not stopping.

We spent the night just outside Fort Smith, Arkansas did our laundry and the next morning, continued on bright and early. We'd done quite a bit of sight-seeing in the past couple of weeks and were now pressed for time so the trip through Oklahoma and Texas was pretty much a blur. Except for one site!!

Signs for the Cadillac Ranch were popping up and suddenly there it was.  Imagine our surprise when we found out this tourist attraction was a bunch of cadillacs buried nose-deep in the ground and not a "house of ill-repute". I think we were linking it with the Mustang Ranch in Nevada. In any case, we had a good laugh at our stupidity and booted it for New Mexico.

Tucumcari, New Mexico

We stayed at Tucumcari for the night. I don't know why this little town in the middle of nowhere sticks in my mind but it does. I was reading some history tidbits while I was there so perhaps this is why. Tucumcari was once nicknamed “Six-Shooter Siding,” because it was rough railway camp complete with saloons and outlaws. It began in 1901 when the Rock Island Railroad was being built.

There wasn't much at Tucumcari but it used to be a flourishing town in the Route 66 days - a halfway point between Amarillo and Albuquerque - the gateway to New Mexico - THE place to stay along the way. Old U.S. Route 66 still runs through the heart of Tucumcari. Numerous businesses, including gasoline service stations, restaurants and motels, were constructed to accommodate tourists as they traveled through on the Mother Road. Many are still operating today.

More skeptical and less romantic historians believe the word Tucumcari is a derivation from the Comanche word tukanukaru, which means to lie in wait for something. There's historical veracity to this explanation, since the mountain (actually a mesa) was known to be a Comanche lookout many years ago. I like the folklore version better.

The Legend of Tucumcari

Legend has it that Apache Chief Wautonomah was nearing the end of his time on earth and was troubled by the question of who would succeed him as ruler of the tribe. In a classic portrait of love and competition, his two finest braves, Tonopah and Tocom, were not only rivals and sworn enemies of one another, but were both vying for the hand of Kari, Chief Wantonomah's daughter. Kari knew her heart belonged to Tocom. Chief Wautonomah beckoned Tonopah and Tocom to his side and announced, "Soon I must die and one of you must succeed me as chief. Tonight you must take your long knives and meet in combat to settle the matter between you. He who survives shall be the Chief and have for his squaw, Kari, my daughter."

As ordered, the two braves met, with knives outstretched, in mortal combat. Unknown to either brave was the fact that Kari was hiding nearby. When Tonopah's knife found the heart of Tocom, the young squaw rushed from her hiding place and used a knife to take Tonopah's life, as well as her own.

When Chief Wautonomah was shown this tragic scene, heartbreak enveloped him and he buried his daughter's knife deep into his own heart, crying out in agony, "Tocom-Kari"!

A slight variation of the Chief's dying words live on today as Tucumcari, and the mountain which bares this name stands as a stark reminder of unfulfilled love.


We continued pushing west on I-40 until Gallup the cut north to connect with Utah highway 191. We were heading to Kayenta. We stayed there in 2001, liked the area, and wanted to visit it again. At Many Farms, while we gassed up, Karen asked a clerk if there was a road cutting across to Kayenta and, yes, there was - a brand new road not even on the maps yet. We took that road which cut off a considerable distance - not to mention there virtually no one else using it.

We arrived in Kayenta late afternoon, got settled into the hotel - did some shopping in a small boutique in the hotel - then Karen took sick. She was doubled over with stomach pain. I inquired at the desk where there was a doctor I could get her to. There is only one clinic/hospital in Kayenta and they gave me directions.

She wasn't being very cooperative though. She didn't want to go to the doctor and insisted that she would be fine. Well, she wasn't fine. She got worse and worse. Finally I helped her into the car and we headed to the clinic. We dealt with her medical insurance details. (Thank goodness we had the travel insurance we bought in Niagara Falls). We waited a very, very long time (hours). She was laying across a group of chairs in excruciating pain in the waiting room. By the time they actually took Karen into the emergency room, the clinic had long since closed, all reception staff gone, and she and I were the only ones in the waiting room.

The doctors and nurses were very unhappy and dragged. They apologized and explained that they had just finished dealing with a multiple fatality traffic accident. Apparently some people, entering illegally from Mexico, were driving down the road with no headlights, and had had a head on collision.

They did several tests, checked her thoroughly, and gave her something to ease the pain. Karen's orderly was from the central states and she enjoyed discussing his move to Kayenta and living in the area. He had been there 8 years and had no intention of leaving. Once the pain killer clicked in, she started to feel quite witty and had the doctors laughing in no time. While she was "bed ridden", her orderly held the side door open for me and waited (chuckling the whole time) until I got the camera. Karen was too doped up to do anything about me taking a picture or two. She could barely sit up, let alone chase me, tackle me, and wrestle the camera away. Ha! Feel the power? If I remember correctly, though, she could still curse pretty good.

Finally, they determined that she was not having a heart attack, appendicitis or anything fatal. Probable cause - gall bladder having an adverse reaction to the multitudes of pistachio nuts she had eaten on the drive that afternoon. She was so bloated up that I swore if she ever let go she would whiz around the room like a balloon deflating. They gave her some medicine to take for the next day or so and discharged her. On the way out the doctor and orderly gave her a hug and thanked her for making their otherwise horrible night a little brighter.

Monument Valley

We still have it on our agenda to take the time to tour the valley but not this year. We stopped briefly at Monument Valley to eat and wander around. Karen was still not feeling 100% but managed to enjoy the meal. We toured through the museum and gift shop where I bought the video "The Duke and The General", a 1971 documentary tribute to John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Then we were off to Highway 261 and Valley of the Gods.

The Mittens
Mileage to Monument Valley
Cameron, Arizona 134 Page, Arizona
Chinle, Arizona 150 Phoenix, Arizona
Farmington, New Mexico 169 Shiprock, New Mexico
Flagstaff, Arizona 187 Tuba City, Arizona
Gallup, New Mexico 233 Tucson, Arizona
Kayenta, Arizona 23 Window Rock, Arizona

Hwy 261 & Valley of the Gods

We reached Valley of the Gods from the west side.  We didn't drive through Valley of the Gods this year - just pulled off and drove a little way in to look around and headed for the base of Hwy 261.

We had to make sure our route included hwy 261 so we could drive "up" it. It was just as much a thrill as the drive down - except the "straight down 1100 foot cliff" was now on my side of the car. Thanks goodness we were driving hugged up to the mountain side this time. If I had been hanging near the edge I don't think I could have driven it without having a heart attack - or at least wetting my pants!!

We met a group of five traveling bikers at the top who were equally as thrilled as us. We took some pictures of them. Unfortunately the pictures were on their cameras and we neglected to get emails so they could send us some.

Moab & Highway 128

We finally saw it.

We spent the night in Moab so that we could head out in the morning on highway 128. We were pretty excited as we had tried the year before and missed it. Much to our surprise the road wasn't at the top of a cliff as we had imagined. Oh well, the story of the "great abyss" was good while it lasted.

Actually highway 128, it is at the bottom of the valley and winds along the Colorado River.  The huge red cliffs rising high above the valley are absolutely breathtaking. There are several dude ranches and campgrounds along this route.

We decided then and there that this was an area we definitely had to come back and explore.

2006 Moab

We connected to I-70 and then highway 6 to Provo.& Karen was anxious to get home to do month-end payroll. We traveled as far as Brigham then home to Calgary the next day. In just over two weeks, we put on nearly 14,000 kilometers (8400 miles) but it never did feel like we were pushed - and once again, before we were even home, we started planning our next trip

Next - 2005 West Coast & Redwood Forest


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