Our summer travels this year took us to Orange County (4 times), Colorado, New Mexico, and Chicago. Here are some of my observations:
Some deserts (the Sonora, for example) are really beautiful. The Mojave is not one of them.
We stopped for lunch in Las Vegas - met some wonderful friends (who live in Henderson, NV) - at a restaurant in a casino. The burger was great - in fact, the sandwiches were all stacked so tall that they put a steak knife into them to keep them from falling over until they were delivered to the table. Throughout the whole meal, I kept thinking I could smell a brush fire, and wondered where it was....turns out it was just all of the cigarette smoke.
Things seen along the I-70: Galloway or "Dutch Belted" cattle - one of my favorites, they are the black ones with the white stripe around the middle. Upon crossing into Utah, a "Speed Limit 80 mph" sign - it brought joy to my Mario-cart-loving soul. In Vail, at over 8000 feet, in July, snow. Sadly, along Wolf Creek Pass, thousands of dead pine trees (victims of some kind of bark beetle, I was told), but at the same time, hundreds and hundreds of new, baby pine trees, growing up under the brown ones (surely there is some kind of lesson to be learned there, at another time, when I have a moment to think....). Also sadly, one 2-liter bottle full of a yellow liquid, discarded along the highway (yuck!).
Needles, California might just be the worst place in the country, and that is hard for me to admit, because I have been to places like Nevada, El Paso, and New Jersey, and because I have a soft spot for Route 66 towns. If you don't believe me, you should check out the reviews on Yelp. Let me just say that our feet got dirty from the carpet in the hotel room.
There is a spot on the 101, just north of Los Olivos, that can make me teary almost every time I drive it. It is Steinbeckian in its grandeur, and makes me grateful I live here every time I see it (rolling hills, stands of oaks, a great old barn, and a pond).
There truly is no place like our neighborhood - which I would like to prove with this photo of our dinner a few days ago, minus the steaks that were on the grill. All of this food was from either our garden or our neighborhood farmer's market, including the amazing goat cheese made by my neighbor, that we devoured.
Something in the human heart is just always longing for home, I think.