Thursday, September 11, 2008

What is a Piccadilly?

I am lucky enough to have amazing family in Mission, TX that took me in during my time in Southern Texas and doubled as the best tour guides in town. One of the many things that they said I absolutely had to experience was the Piccadilly. Anyone who knows me or listens to the show know that I will try any food put before me with glee.
I guess an explanation of the PICCADILLY is in order. Imagine your basic snow cone. Now load the middle of it with chopped dill pickle and top it with a chili salt \ sugar concoction and vuala you have a Piccadilly. You can choose any flavor snow cone syrup you wish...I chose the most popular...CHERRY.
I have to say that this strange combo is brilliant. I absolutely loved it. I have to admit that a small is more than enough or that fantastic taste sensation can become too much. Next time you are in Southern Texas or happen across a Piccadilly; don't shrug it off as too bizarre to try.Five snow cone rating!

Antique Bread Knife by Jersey Lily Flour Empire Milling CO.

I first met this strange type of knife while road tripping in Southern Texas in May. My Aunt would always have a junky looking knife with her for cutting bread. I asked her about it as I couldn't imagine that a knife with a wave like blade could possibly work well. She said that the knife was a prized possession that she picked up years before at a flea market.It is true that these bizarre blades cut bread like no other knife I have ever seen. No matter how expensive and high end your serrated bread knife is; it is no match for this baby. It will cut through any loaf of bread without smashing or tearing. My aunt informed me that in all the years she has had it that her knife has never been sharpened and is used every day.Well, I went to an antique mall the other day and found one of these beauties for $20, actually I found two. Now my mother and I are both proud owners of whatever kind of bread knife this is. I have searched all other the internet and can't find anything out. All I know is that I am totally off pre-cut bread and slice any loaf put before me with pride.

Chester, Illinois

Home of Popeye
Chester is a small town with a big character...Popeye was born here. American cartoonist, Elzie Crisler Segar, created the beloved character Popeye from recollections of Frank 'Rocky' Fiegel, a local scrapper. Popeye made his first appearance in 1929 in the newspaper comic strip 'Thimble Theater. The friendly residence of Chester were preparing for the annual Popeye Picnic (September). Looked like a big deal and I was quite bummed to miss out on the festivities. There are a number of state parks and historic sites if you are not the spinach loving type. If you are lucky enough to do the Great River Road make sure to give yourself a few hours to enjoy Chester and the surrounding area.

Kincaid Mound \ Ohio River Scenic Byway

The mounds are raised platforms on which the Native American chiefs and other elite leaders lived or ruled from, and on which thatched-roofed homes, ceremonial buildings, and temples were constructed.The mounds were built in stages over a 350 year period by stacking basket loads of selected soil and clay material one on top of another. The mounds remain much as they did 700 years ago.
The Native Americas who created these mounds were ruled by a chief who inherited his position. Corn and maize farmers in the lowland along the Ohio River from Hamletsburg to Brookport paid tribute to the chief by constructing the mounds.
The Kincaid site was excavated by the University of Chicago archaeologists from 1934-44. The work done at the Kincaid site set a new standard for archaeological excavations in the United States. In fact, the methods used are the basis for much of today's archeological practices in America.

Sage Valley \ Golden, CO

As a Pet Car Professional, I have never had need to take my pup to a kennel. Ah, the joy of cheap in home pet care. This past weekend (March 08') I did take the Bean Dog to a kennel for the first time.My family has used Sage Valley for as long as I can remember and always raved about the amazing staff and how great the service is. The first call to Sage Valley put me at ease...the owner Tom, answered and told me that he likes newbies to come in for a few hours...a bit of a test drive. This is great advice as it let's you pet know you will be coming back for them.I also found out that all the staff at Sage Valley are full timers. Tom, the owner, hires full time staff so the pets get familiar with a few, well trained pet loving staff members. I met a number of the staff and they are all kind, gentle, and completely in touch with animal needs.On top of the great staff is the facility itself. The dog runs have heated floors and the animals are bedded down with blankets. The blankets were the clincher for me as Bean Dog is a burrower and is put at lease when under cover. If you are staying anywhere in the Denver area and need to kennel your pet, it is worth the drive to Sage Valley. The staff will take amazing care of your best friend, in fact, some of the regular try to stay with the staff when they are picked up. That is always a good indicator that you have found a keeper.

Additional Information
Dogs: $16-19
playtime: $7
cats: $10
playtime: $5
check out the website for additions services including grooming, daycare, training.

Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park is one of the most recognizable names in the National Park system. It is the jewel of Montana and on most folks must see list. Glacier encompasses 1,600 square miles with 130 lakes and over 700 miles of hiking trails. There is even a mile and a half trail that allows dogs, which is unusually in the National Parks system.
One of the highlights in Glacier National Park is the Drive to the Sun, a 53 mile scenic drive across the park. The road is a National Historic Landmark and a Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The Drive to the Sun is closed in winter, only opening after six or more weeks of plowing in the spring. In fact, when I did the drive in mid June only 16 miles on the west end of the park where open. It sounds like a lot of time to plow a mere 53 miles but up to 80 feet of snow accumulates on Logan Pass during the winter. Typically the Drive to the Sun is open June-October.

Additional Information Fees: $25 per vehicle (good for 7 days)
13 campgrounds
730 miles of hiking trails
established in 1910 (10th National Park created)

Flathead Lake, Montana

Lake is one of the cooler lakes have have visited in my years of travel. The real selling point of the beauty is the fact that you can do so much in and around the lake. Spend a lazy day picnicking in one of the many State Parks along the lake or take advantage of the many water sports. Swimming, sailing, kayaking, fishing are just a few of the good times waiting at Flathead Lake.Flathead Lake is the largest lake in the western U.S. and the largest lake in Montana. Set against the backdrop of Glacier National Park, this picturesque lake is one of the cleanest in the world. Anyone who sets eyes on Flathead will agree that one could spend weeks or the rest of their life in the Flathead Valley of Montana.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Custer State Park \ Wildlife Loop

Custer State Park has become one of my favorite scenic drives. I know it isn't listed anywhere as a scenic drive which is just wrong. The scenery doesn't compare to the Badlands, the Rockies or many other parks but the variety of wildlife one encounters makes it a must go location. What's great is there are so many other things to do within a couple hours of Custer State Park that you can make a week of it easy.
The main thing everyone does here is the Wildlife Loop; an 18-mile loop around the park. Some of the critters you will encounter along the way are Bison, prairie dogs, 'begging burros', pronghorns and if you are lucky you may also run across mountain goats, bighorn sheep and elk. On our 'road trip' around the loop we saw more bison than we could count, in fact, we were stopped more than once by bison crossing the road. The pronghorns were one of my favorites and I would find them all throughout South Dakota and Montana. Actually we came across so many that I got in the habit of flashing my headlights to cars in the other lane so they had time to slow down....always trying to avoid 'road kill'
I actually decided not to camp here because I thought the number of animals might have been just too much for the Bean Dog to handle.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Badlands Region

Well, I got side tracked. I didn't realize just how close to The Badlands, Deadwood, and the Black Hills I was. I turned off my route to Montana for a couple days in South Dakota and I am so happy I did. I have been in the region of SD before but years ago. This part of the country is probably my number one recommendation for those that want a cheap outdoorzy vacation. Insane landscapes, historic towns, camping and so much more.

Started my tour of South Dakota with a scenic drive through The Badlands National Park. I had been there years ago and had forgotten how amazing the Badlands are. This is also where Bella encountered her first buffalo. She thought it was about the coolest thing she had ever seen. For the rest of my Badlands journey I had to roll up the windows whenever we encountered a buffalo. What's funny is that in the coming days and weeks we crossed paths with so many buffalo that Bella could care less. I really think I could have let her out of the car and she would have ignored them.
The horizon where incredibly stormy that day and make for some fantastic photos. Click here to check it out! The Badlands are an incredible sight to see on a clear day but with a storm brewing above it give it a whole different feel and I was thrilled to be there that day.

Additional Information
Entrance Fee: $15 (seven day pass) \ Free with a National Parks Pass ($80 a year)
Pet: only on paved roads and developed areas (strictly enforced)

Guernsey State Park \ Wyoming (June)

Well been touring about like a mad woman. Left Golden six days ago and began heading towards Montana. Spent a day at Guernsey State Park in Eastern Wyoming. Growing up in Colorado I have heard of how amazing Guernsey State Park is and finally had the opportunity to test it out. The water at Guernsey was mirror smooth and the cliffs surrounding it are the perfect backdrop. Even if you only have a few hours extra as you pass through this area I would recommend driving through the park as I consider it a top scenic drive.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Eastern Texas \ Huntsville SP & Lake Livingstone SP

Have spent the past several days checking out the State Parks of Eastern Texas. Wow, what beautiful country this is. Texas is one big ass state so I did take the freeway from San Antonio to Sealy where I got off and took country roads the rest of the way to Huntsville. This area is peppered with a number of State Parks and National Forests including Huntsville State Park, Lake Livingston State Park, Sam Houston National Forest. Not far off you will also find Crockett National Forest.
Once off the freeway I was driving along quaint country roads with giant trees shading my drive much of the time. In fact the tree canopy was so intense that my XM Radio lost it's signal. Cool!
I have become very good friends with my AAA map of fact, it is looking more a great novel passed around for years. My new favorite thing to do is to take a turn then look at the map for my whereabouts.
The first day out from San Antonio I ended up in Huntsville. Not knowing anything about Huntsville my first impression, driving through the old town, was a tranquil old west town set against a forested backdrop. Bean Dog and I spent the day in Huntsville State Park which was absolutely beautiful. There is plenty of camping, fishing, boating and much more. One could definitely spent days reading books and hiking here.
Back to my first impression as someone who only decided to go to Huntsville cuz there was lots of green on the map (green=State parks, National Parks). I spoke with my Uncle (from TX) the day I left Huntsville and he informed me that to Texans Huntsville equal big bad prison. Apparently Huntsville Prison is the number one execution prison in the country. Funny how people have differing views on a place.
While in Huntsville there were two, count em' two festivals going on. The first was the General Sam Houston Festival. The namesake of this festival is General Sam Houston who led the fight for Texas Independence. He served as President of the Republic of Texas, United States Senator and Governor of Texas. He moved to Huntsville in 1847 and you can't miss the massive statue of Mr. Houston right off the I-59.
The second festival was the Airing of the Quilts. The history of this festival goes back to the pioneer days. Women brought their quilts across to Texas in covered wagons. These quilts were cherished possessions. Each spring, the quilts were brought out to 'air' in the sunshine following a long winter of use. The Airing of the Quilts Festival takes place on the Square in Historic Downtown Huntsville.
If you are passing though Eastern Texas take time out to check out Huntsville and Huntsville State Park.

After spending a couple days in Huntsville I just took off driving with no particular place to go. After just a couple hours wandering the countryside I ended up in Livingstone. Livingstone is only 45 minutes east of Huntsville but I took my own way. This is another quaint country town with a State Park just a few miles down the road.
Bean Dog and I had a good time at Lake Livingstone State Park. Grabbed some goodies at H-E-B, local chain grocery store, and took off for a day at the lake. Another gorgeous park with tons to do. Plenty of camping, hiking trails, boating, biking and even horseback riding. Like all the State Parks in Texas; Lake Livingstone is quiet during the week and packs out on the weekends. Bean and I had no trouble finding a fantastic spot with a lake view for a picnic. After exhausting Bean Dog out with a long hike I did the Road Trip Junkie Radio Show right from the park....what a great background for a radio show.

Other Stuff
If you plan to camp in Texas on the weekends make reservations
Both Huntsville State Park and Lake Livingston State Park have stores if you forget something
Boat rentals available at both Parks
Dogs can go anywhere except building and water

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Just a quickie....Someone I met recently (no names in order to protect the computer illiterate) told me a little story about a WiFi experience they had. It goes something like this....they walked into a McDonald's to grab a bite to eat. While placing there order they noticed a 'Free WiFi' sign. They asked the employee "what is Wi Fi (pronounced weefee). Cute.
I have to admit I now call WiFi weefee.

Current Location: Rest Stop

I still have to catch up on some blogs from the past week or so. This blog is out of order....sorry. On my way from Beeville, TX back up to San Antonio to pick up my mom and sisters for a visit back down in the Mission, TX area. Running early so I pulled off at a rest stop about 60 miles south of San Antonio and lookie there....they have wifi. I will give the GPS coordinates on the website for all those geocashers out there that may need to nip to the loo and catch up on some internet at the same time.
The weather out here is pleasantly cool, especially since I have been dealing with 95+ temps the past week. Crazy to me that Southern Texas it saucy hot from March-November.
Anyway, better take the Bean Dog for a spin around this high class rest stop. Miss. Bean has been eating strange bones that she finds the past day or two and spent the am puking in front of Best Value Inn. Bet y'all wanted to know that eh.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Three Rivers and Choke Canyon State Park (TEXAS)

After busting out of Pecos we kept rolling south past San Antonio and into Three Rivers. Three Rivers is a small town that wouldn't have a motel if not for Choke Canyon Recreation Area in fact, the area often fills up on weekends because of the great fishing.

Bean Dog and I did hit up the park for a bit of exercise. There is loads of camping here and the ranger said that it's empty during the week but fills up on weekends. Very strange concept for a girl from Colorado and Southern California where you have to book well in advance to camp during the summer months. Looking forward to camping here when my sister arrives.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Roswell, New Mexico to Pecos, Texas

I forgot to mention in my last post that when I drove into Roswell my XM was playing "The Freaks Come Out at Night" by Whodini. I thought it quite fitting while rolling into Roswell.

Anywho. Only drove a handful of hours down to Pecos, Texas....'Home of the First Rodeo'.

There was actually a bit to do in this agricultural town off the 285. They have a museum showing the history of the area. There is of course the rodeo each year in June and a zoo that I never did see. Apparently the zoo is home to two dozen types of the way....the leaflet of Pecos shows a long horn for the pic of the zoo.

If you do find yourself passing through this sleeping little town make sure you stop at La Nortena. La Nortena is housed in an old warehouse building and makes a damn tasty tamale. There is a menu and you can either dine in or take out your food. The staff informed me that the tamales are made from scratch. They weren't kidding....they even grind there our corn in the back. To date this is the best tamale I have ever had.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Golden to Roswell 04/08

Tried to leave Golden on Monday but the snow decided I should stay. Actually it wasn't enough to stop me from leaving but lunch happened then a big home cooked meal was dangled in front of me. I must say that meal was worth leaving a day later.

I pushed it down to Roswell, only about 7-8 hours if you don't go by map quest. My gut and then my GPS told me the directions I got where wrong. Had to do a bit of a 45 minute back big deal. The turn off to head on down to Roswell was at Santa Rosa, a Route 66 classic. I was very tempted to stay and wish I would have. It would have only been a two hour drive the next morning and there were adorable little Route 66 motels for only $25.00 and free wi-fi.

Finally got down to Roswell around 8:30PM and just about all the rooms in town where gone. Made the rounds of about five motels with no luck. Finally got a room at Motel 6, don't get me wrong, I am a fan of Motel 6 but this one was not my bag and no wi-fi. All Motel 6's take pets without charge (cool) but this was a three story enter through the main lobby motel. They only let pets on the third floor. Took a few trips to get my gear up and I wasn't a fan of the room to boot.

Woke up the next day and the aliens where a callin'. Before heading out of town I of course had to check out the UFO Museum and Research Center. It was pretty cool and It is a must if you are in the hood'. Check out the photos! After my 'out of this world' experience at the museum I was in need of a cup of coffee, so I headed over to the 'Out of this World Coffee Shop' and had a latte and a yummy bagel with eggs, ham, and green chilies. Soooo good. Bean Dog and I hung out at the cafe for a while before taking a driving tour of Roswell and finally heading out of town.
Oh, I bought a bumper sticker that says: Buckle Up! It makes it harder for the aliens to suck you out!
Off to Texas. Yeeeehaa!!!!!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Quick Thoughts on Golden, CO

Finally made it to Golden, CO after quite the long drive. Golden is such a great little town to hang out in. It was the first capital of Colorado and with Coors as a major player in the town it is kept up quite well. Plenty of locally owned shops to check out. You can grab a cup of joe and one of several local coffee shops, grab a pizza and beer at Woody's Woodfired Pizza, and finish off at one of several bars (from a wine bar to a biker bar).

My family lives here so accommodation has been a breeze. I try and get up early and head down to central Golden to walk Bean Dog along the creek. On our walks this week we have been checking out the bulldozers in the creek getting ready for the summer rush to Golden. The creek area and all of Golden come alive with tourists and outdoor enthusiasts every summer. At any given time you can watch kayakers navigating the creek (designed for kayaking). On weekends the Farmer's Market is a buzz with amazing local goodies. I always shoot down and grab a breakfast burrito before heading to either Noah Noah's or Higher Grounds for my coffee fix.

I will try and write an article on all there is to do in Golden in the next week or so.

Don't miss Golden next time you visit Denver!

Colorado Springs & Manitou Springs

Spent an amazing weekend in Colorado Spring. It was a bit of a last minute decision but a good one....any side trip is a good one...what was I thinking. Anywho! We had thought about doing the Broadmoor (famous five star resort), but room were starting at $375 and that's the off season. Decided to check out the next best...still a five star resort and with a room rate of $119 we couldn't say no. The Cheyenne Mountain Resort was crazy cheap. Honestly it can be hard to find a three star for that price. Click here to read more about the resort on

I plan to write an article on the side trip to Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs in the next week so I will give a few must sees that we managed to get to. All of us (including two little kids) loved the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings. Not a big site but right in the middle of the action, affordable, and well maintained. My sister and I did the Cave of the Winds tour as well. I hadn't been there since I was a kid...still an amazing site to see. This is an absolute if you are in Colorado Springs. We also spent a few hours in crazy, whacked out Manitou Springs. This is one of the stranger little towns I have been to in quite some time. A little hippy, a little art community, a bit of punk throw will just have to go and experience it for yourself.

Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas have so much to offer that a week will give you a good feel of just how fantastic this little gem is. Instead of a day in Denver then a week in the mountains; on your next vacation head for the Springs....I promise you will have a great time.

more photos of Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs

PS Detailed article on Colorado Springs and Surrounds coming soon!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Route Change \ Mother Nature says NO to 285!

Ok. I was going 160 through the Navajo Reservation to Four Corner then through the mountains of Colorado on 285. Well, Mother Nature has decided that isn't such as good idea. Living at the beach, you forget that the rest of the World isn't 75 and sunny year round. The southern mountains of CO have gotten like 50 feet of snow this year and parts of my route require chains on all cars. Now I will back track to CO this summer and do a two week camping trip on this route with the family. That should be amazing. Anywho, it's the highway for me today. Since I am stuck doing the big, bad highways, I may just busted it out and drive straight through to CO. Sad for me.

Day 2 Blythe,CA to Flagstaff, AZ

Again, at the moment I am still on a bit of a schedule to get to Colorado by Monday. Once there, the concept of getting somewhere on a specific day should be a thing of the past.

Today, I did jump on the I-10 for a 1/2 a mile to get myself to the 95 north. There are actually two is a principle road the other a through road. I took the principle for about fifty miles then jumped on the 62 east as I thought it might be nice to check out Lake Havasu. Don't really know how they decide how different routes are categorized by the through 95 was better maintained. This was a fantastic drive...hard to drive over 50 as the scenery need a look.

Back in Blythe, the Bean Dog only got a short walk so I decided to pull off at one of the many camping areas along this route. We just happened to stop off at Shoreline along Lake Havasu. Camping is $20 and it looks like it is $10 to chill for the day (I assume this is because most folks are there with boats etc). When I told the ranger that I just wanted to exercise my dog, she gave me a permit for $2. As it turns out this site has a mile and a half trail to a Dog cool is that. After our hike, the Bean passed out for hours...almost forgot she was back there.

Pet Travel Tip: stop and take your beast for a long, long walk. It is good for you and will give you a sleeping, furry lump in the back of your car.

The remainder of this day is uneventful. Again with the get to CO timeline I decided to jump on the I-40 to Flagstaff. What I would suggest and have done in the past is to take old Route 66. This is a must do drive and if you have been on the I-40 for hours what a great break. You can jump on Route 66 at Topock and at Kingman. It is well marked in Arizona, just keep a look out for the brown Route 66 signs along the I-40.

Day 1 Encinitas,CA to Blythe, CA

Well, the Bean and I left the beach a couple days ago. I hope to stay off the major highways as much as possible and it has worked so far. Leaving Encinitas, CA we took the back way to the 78 (the is a highway for about twenty miles but we went through the hills to avoid this portion).

Had to stop in Escondido, CA (only fifteen minutes from my pad) on the way out of top to pick up an Italian Antipasto salad at Rockin' Jenny's. If you find yourself in San Diego and are heading for a day out at the Wild Animal Park (in Escondido) make a point to find Rockin' Jenny's. They are known for their subs but this salad is once of my must have foods. Can't pass through the area without picking one up.

In the Dido' we jumped on the 78 and headed out. The 78 winds you through the hills up to Julian and on through the Anaza-Borrego Desert State Park. Julian is an adorable little mountain community known for it's apple pies. On the weekends Julian fills with folks from San Diego looking for some fresh air and a tasty bite. Bean Dog and I stopped off for a walk around town and of course I grabbed an apple pie from the road. Anyone who listens to Travel Hub Radio or has checked out the site knows I love my food and take load of food such luck here...the beauty of an apple pie found itself in my tummy before a camera could be found.

The ride from San Diego to Julian was green and lush, absolutley gorgeous. There are plenty of places to stay in Julian wether it be camping out or snuggling up in a B & B.

Once we headed down from Julian the landscape changed quickly from lush moutains to dry desert. Anaza-Borrego Desert State Park is a favorite location for many San Deigians. The camping here is pleniful and cheap. In fact, it is only $5 to camp in official camp site and free to camp anywhere else in Borrego. March is the start of the desert wildflowers to come into bloom...check the web for where the best views are.

We didn't stay and camp here as I do have to get to Colorado by Monday (have to sign taxes...suck). Now that I have had a taste of this beauty I have every intention on doing some great trips out there when I return to CA.

On we moved on, still on the 78 up to Blythe, CA. This was just a good stopping point for me, used it for a good night sleep and free wireless. Stayed at the Dunes Motel on the main drag. The Dunes Motel has large, clean, basic rooms with a fridge, microwave and like I said free wireless. The free breakfast is worth a pass (tiny, dried-out muffins).

Example motel prices: Days Inn $70 and $5 for pet. Dunes Motel: $50 and $5 for pet. (10% AAA discount). Smaller motels were running $29.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Why a year on the road?

I have had the travel bug in me as long as I can remember. I did a bit of traveling in college but the real wandering began when I moved to New Zealand in 1998'. I was lucky enough to score a great job that allowed me six months off a year. I took full advantage of this time off and traveled like a mad woman.

For five years I spent six months a year traveling around Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and the South Pacific. Check out photos of these travels at Travel Hub Radio. In 2002 I was traveling around China, Mongolia, and Russia when I found out that my mother was adopting from China. I couldn't stand the tough of my sister (now two adopted sisters) only hearing my voice once a month and seeing me once a year. I decided to move back stateside for awhile.

Well, in December of 2006 I bought a Subaru Outback (my dream car). It didn't take long to start pondering the idea of a road trip. Blah, Blah, Blah....I leave in about six weeks on a year long odyssey across the USA. Yep, I am loading up my dog in my Outback and we are hitting the open road in search of America.