Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!

Words to live by in 2011... enjoy!

Driving from Vegas to Pioneertown, CA

What awesome beauty - these small photographs can't do it justice.

Vegas Slots - I never win

Yeah, we gambled just a little while in Vegas. Some slots and some roulette. Unlike my parents, who are lucky and always seem to make their money last and then actually win, my money just bleeds out fast and furious.

Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia)

The Joshua tree is beautiful. Eerie, weird and beautiful. The trees only grow here in the southwest US in California, Nevada, Arizona and Utah, and at higher elevations from 400 to 1,800 meters. Joshua trees can live for 100s of years and many live for thousands.

The name Joshua Tree came from a group of Mormons in the mid-19th century. The tree's shape reminded them of Joshua reaching his hands to the sky in prayer.

These photos were all shot from the car yesterday driving through the Mojave Desert Preserve on our way from Las Vegas to Yucca Valley, CA. Paul's land is full of Joshua Trees. We will be going to Joshua Tree National Park on Sunday - my first time to see the park. More scenes from the California desert coming soon...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

We Should Dance

I like this quote I found on a friend's email today...

"Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we're here we should dance."

I never heard that one before, but I like it. 
It is an example of the positive attitude I am trying to practice in my life. 

Look at that beautiful sky! Shot from my hotel window in Vegas.

Cirque du Soleil - Mystere

In addition to gambling and other naughty behavior, Vegas is about shows. Lots and lots of performances. All kinds. On the byway here in Vegas last night I saw my very first Cirque du Soleil (CdS) show. My first! I remember when CdS used to travel and have shows in big tents - back in the 90s. Remember that? They used to come to Washington DC where I lived, but I never really wanted to see the shows. Back then I was poking fun at it (do you recall the very old South Park episode totally dissing CdS?). I had friends who saw some of the shows and raved about them, but I guess it was the circus element of it that didn't interest me at the time. I am not a big fan of circuses (see my post about clowns), although I liked them as kids - for the animals only. However, as the years have passed and I have heard more and more rave reviews from friends, it was time for me to finally experience this phenomenon.

For those of you living in a cave, Cirque du Soleil is a Canadian entertainment company founded in 1984 by street performers. The performances are circus like and incorporate music, dance, acrobatics, gymnastics, elaborate sets and costumes. The company has taken a hold of Vegas and there are now seven (!) different shows based there full time: Mystere, O, Zumanity, Ka, Love (Beatles), Chriss Angel Believe, Viva Elvis - and other shows that travel. The show we saw is Mystere - the first and oldest show to be based in Vegas. Mystere started showing at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in 1993. Wow it only took me 17 years to see it! To give you an idea of the scale of this operation, Mystere runs two nights a week, two shows each night, with room for an audience of 1600 people. And I believe the shows are typically sold out. And the tickets are not cheap. And its been running for 17 years! The other ones are newer, so they haven't had as long a run. But still, multiply that by 7, give or take. Quite a business! Quite a lot of entertainment. Think about how many people visit Las Vegas every year. Think about how many of them see one or more CdS shows while visiting. One reference says that 9 million people have seen Mystere alone. NINE MILLION. That is crazy! And I am now part of that 9 million. Are you?? What did you think?

Overall I liked it. I could do without some of the silly comedy clearly aimed at family viewers with young kids, but the acrobatics are very impressive and make up for the schmaltz. I don't see how anyone could resist being impressed by the strength, flexibility, balance and moves of these performers. I can't stop thinking about how strong and in shape these performers need to be to carry out this show. I don't think I've seen that much defined cut muscle ever. This is definitely a show for families with kids and anyone who is interested in gymnastics and acrobatics. There is not a storyline to follow. Just pure performance.

It was a good introduction to CdS. I've been told the other shows are more adult. We are going to see "O"at the Bellagio in a few days. This is the show they do in water. O - eau - water. Can't wait.

Have you seen any Cirque du Soleil? What did you think?

Clowns are Creepy

Clowns creep me out. So seeing that giant clown from the Circus Circus hotel and casino on the skyline here in Vegas is like a really bad nightmare.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Back at the Gas Station Petting Zoo

Driving from Salt Lake City to Vegas yesterday, down Route 15 S, we got to stop at my favorite gas station petting zoo. It was cold, but a few of my friends were out enjoying the brisk December air...

Emus scare me

Who doesn't love a lama?

Driving from SLC to Vegas (part 2)

The sky was amazing. Photos from Vegas to come...
I love the road.

Shiny road - amazing light play.
Route 15 South
Vegas Skyline from a distance - look at those clouds!
Driving into Vegas

Driving from SLC to Vegas (Part 1)

It was a beautiful drive yesterday...from snowy Utah to warmer Nevada.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Pioneertown, CA Bound (via Vegas)

Today we head on the scenic byway to Las Vegas. Vegas is only about a 6-7 hour drive straight down I-15 from Salt Lake. Along the way we will stop at my favorite gas station petting zoo! We are leaving a day early in the hope of missing a big snowstorm about to hit Salt Lake. Vegas is just a stopping point on our trip. We are going to spend two nights there, take my parents to a show, then do the same thing on the way back home to Salt Lake next week. The real purpose of this journey is to visit Paul's land outside of Joshua Tree, and to show my parents. I am excited because it has been a year since I've been down there. This will only be my second visit to a place that is a very important part of my husband's life. He spent a lot of time there over the last twenty years and it is a place where we hope to spend a lot more of our time in the future.

Credit to Wikipedia - not my photo.
The land sits near Pioneertown, CA. According to Wikipedia (and I heard this from Paul too), Pioneertown, CA started as an Old West motion picture set in the 1940s. The movie set was constructed so that actors could live on set and the homes could be used as part of the movie set. Westerns and early tv shows were filmed there including The Cisco Kid and Judge Roy Bean. Roy Rogers was was of the original developers and investors. According to IMDb (my fave) there have been 35 movies or tv series shot in Pioneertown. According to the sign outside the post office (see below) that figure would be more than 200.

My one and only time visiting there I did walk through the downtown - it looks and feels like a movie set, because it was. Check out my photos from last year, below. There are a few businesses and a few people live there in that downtown movie set. I am excited to finally go to Pappy and Harriets Palace in Pioneertown - dubbed (by them) as best honky tonk west of the Mississippi. I've heard a lot about this place from Paul and have been dying to get there and check it out. It is a bar with food and music - apparently well known for its music. Just check out the link for their schedule. There have been some great shows there. It looks like an awesome place.

Check out Pioneertown on Google Maps. Pretty cool location, huh? Towns nearby include Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree, Morongo Valley, Twentynine Palms and the famous Palm Springs. It is close to Joshua Tree National Park (sorry, the official government site is so boring, I decided to link to the wikipedia page instead - far more interesting a read), San Bernadino National Forest and Mojave National Preserve. The roads in and near Pioneertown have great "western" sounding names such as: Annie Oakley Road, Stagecoach Road, Bullwhip Lane, Rimrock Road, Tumbleweed Trail, Ox Yoke Road, Apache Pass, Tonto Rim Lane, Saddle Lane, Roadrunner Rut, Old Woman Springs Road, Twentynine Palms Highway, and my favorite, Gods Way Love.

I will be blogging more about my travels here in the coming days, including photos, so stay tuned...

Outside Pioneertown Post Office. Can you read it?

They say it is one of the most photographed post offices in the US, so I had to take a photograph.

Pioneertown, CA

Monday, December 27, 2010

Last Week on My Scenic Byway: Dec 20-26

Scenes: Christmas shopping. Vet visits. Beautiful snow. Lunar eclipse on the Winter Solstice (once in a lifetime!). Celebrating Christmas eve and day with family. Opening presents. Hiking Neff's Canyon alone.
Ingesting: Leftovers. Way too many holiday sweets and food in general. More holiday music on Pandora and XM radio. 
Loving: My family. The Christmas tree ornaments my talented cousin Jyl made me from our grandparents' old dining room chandelier - thanks Jyl, you rock! A History of Rap (Jimmy Fallon & Justin Timberlake)Joke product reviews on Amazon - this opens up a whole new world of funny to me. More end of the year lists reporting on cool things in 2010. Nortec - Tengo La Voz (thanks Virginia :)

Memories: My wonderful grandparents. I miss them at Christmas and always. My Nana's cookies and her laugh and her touch. My wild west trip at this time last year with Paul, including my first Christmas with his beautiful family and my first trip to visit his Pioneertown desert world and our beautiful desert land.
Intrigues: What is going to happen at this time in 2012? What is in store for the Sundance Film Festival this year?
Desires: To go skiing soon. A vacation next year to visit friends in Jerusalem (Brian) and Beirut (Sam). For 2011 to be a better year for all, but especially for a few friends who have had a really, really tough and painful (let's just come right out and say it - shitty) year. I won't put the spotlight on you - you all know who you are - xoxo. I KNOW next year is going to be better.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Snowy Walk in the Woods Alone

Today I went for a hike. Alone. Because no one wanted to go but me. And I had to go. I felt like I would go crazy if I did not leave the house and move my muscles. I did not want to walk around the neighborhood. I wanted to be in the woods. I wanted to see trees and be away from people and breathe the cold air. I realized that no one was going to get me to those woods but me, and no one was going to stop me but me. So I went to Neff's Canyon, which is only a 5 minute drive away. I haven't been there since the summer.

It was snowing as soon as I pulled into the parking area. But it was not that cold and it felt great. There were a few people with dogs. I was the only one hiking alone and without a dog. I did not care. But it did make me wish I had a big dog that I could take hiking with me.

Walking in the woods is so therapeutic to me. It washes everything bad away. This hike is all up hill so it is tough, but that is part of the beauty and the therapy. You start out huffing and puffing, but eventually you get into a rhythm of movement and breathing and you the earlier effort dissipates.

It snowed and snowed, and I kept hiking up and up, and there were no more people, but I did not care. Hiking up there doesn't feel scary at all to be alone. It was quiet and beautiful. I wondered about the last time I went hiking alone. I wondered about the last time I went hiking in a big snowfall. I thought a lot about how much I love walking in the woods and how I do not do it enough and that has to change.

I thought about a lot of things in that sweet snowy silence. It made me feel alive. It made me feel.

Strange Buildings of the World

On a website called Village of Joy (one of a number of those websites that post wacky lists and photos of everything under the sun), I found a cool posting on 50 Strange Buildings of the World. There are actually 100 buildings listed in two postings. I haven't seen many of these buildings. I drove by #19 as a kid. I visited #28. I stayed in #37. I've seen #43 from a distance. Have you seen any of these?

Some cool sites to look out for during travels on the byway.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Driving from Pioneertown to San Diego in Late December

The last week of December, a year ago. Dusk. My first drive from Pioneertown, CA to San Diego, CA. We had just spent the day visiting Paul's 40 acres in the desert near Joshua Tree. A place that has been home to him on and off for 20 years. It was my first visit to see this world that I will share. We found a beautiful twig from the desert ground and placed it on our dashboard for the drive to San Diego. You can see it in these shots I took, along with the head lights from the cars up ahead. I have always loved these shots - there are many more - and I wanted to share them now because they feel very festive and Christmas-y. And it was just about this time last year when I experienced this scene on the byway.

Friday, December 24, 2010



Thursday, December 23, 2010

Family and Love

Maybe this is not a Christmas-y topic...but actually, maybe it is. This is about family, which to me is very much what Christmas is all about. For me this time of year has always been about spending time with family. With the coming new year, it is also a time to reflect on the past year and prepare for the new one. A time to reflect on what is good and what is bad and what needs to change. I have always felt it to be a time of promise and opportunity. A time to think about how fortunate I am and all the goodness and good people in my life. It is a happy time. But this year it is also a little unsettling because it has been a rough year for some of my family and friends.

Today I am attending a funeral. A friend's mother passed away a few days ago. She suffered from a very debilitating disease, but still - death is never really welcome or easy. No one wants to see their loved ones pass on, even if they are suffering. And this friend has also suffered through other very recent tragedies. I ache for her.

Another dear friend's mother is in the hospital, having recently had major surgery which thankfully was successful, but now she needs another operation. I am sending prayers and good energy that all will be good here.

A dear friend, a mother, has struggled with loss and terrible illness this year. I am so happy that she is on the road to recovery.

An old friend, a father, has struggled, and still does, with a long illness of his son. They keep fighting.

We are still reeling from the unexpected death of Paul's mother a few months ago. I did not know her for very long, or very well, which saddens me. But I am so grateful that I did know her and that I was allowed the time I did have with her. It seems strange to say this as I did not know her for that long, but I miss her a lot. I miss the person that I know she was.

My parents are visiting us for the holidays and it is wonderful. I feel very fortunate that my parents can spend time with us and that they are healthy right now. But 'right now' is the key. I worry.

I do not like this. I have hit 'that' age. The age where suddenly you realize that you and your friends' parents have somehow suddenly aged. And more and more are suffering from health problems and in some cases dying. It is a painful, but important reminder to act now, live now, appreciate and enjoy your parents, your family, the people in your life, and the time that you have with them. I am so happy that all of the friends and family noted above were or are wise enough to spend a lot of time with their parents and families. There may be sadness and loss there, but man oh man there has also been so, so much love. So, as I reflect on this year and prepare for next, I am very, very grateful for my life, my love, my family, my friends, and I am sending a whole lot of love, good energy and prayers out there for all of you, especially those of you who have had a rough year.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Signs on the Byway

I like to collect photos from my travels, of signs and graffiti and mannequins... These usually aren't great photos...many of them are captured from my iPhone, and many as we go walking or driving by a place, but they amuse me and bring back memories of my travels.

South central Pennsylvania - found this up in the mountains...was afraid to go down the dirt road and check it out as memories of Deliverance sifted through my mind

Oregon coast - i do not know

Southern Utah - great sign, great shadow, not such a great photo

somewhere in rural Oregon - love it

Utah - we ate there on a road trip home from Bryce Canyon

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Adrien Brody and the Bed Bug Registry

I think it is really funny that besides the people I know who find out about my blog from me or via Facebook, the most people who randomly find my blog are those doing internet searches for either Adrien Brody or the bed bug registry.

Welcome those of you from far away places in search of more information about Mr. Brody or the Bed Bug Registry. Stay awhile on my scenic byway and explore more of my blog. You might find some useful information, some funny things, and some beautiful photos of beautiful places. I hope it makes you smile.

Yosemite - Winter Wonderland

A year ago I was living in Takoma Park, MD (DC area) and I traveled out west with Paul over the holidays. We flew into San Francisco and visited some friends, then drove up to Muir Woods. In fact a year ago today we were in Muir Woods. It was chilly and drizzly, but beautiful, and I was crying because it was that beautiful. It was my first visit. I shared a little of that experience in an earlier entry entitled 14. A few days later we headed east to visit another friend who lives outside of Yosemite National Park. That was again my first visit. I had always wanted to see Yosemite - one of our great National parks - thank you John Muir (who by the way was also the man behind Muir Woods).

Yosemite had just received a beautiful snow. We put chains on the tires of our rental and we were able to drive into part of the park - much of it is closed down by this time of the year with no access. It was a beautiful scene - like a winter wonderland. Much like it is here today in Salt Lake with a beautiful snowfall that started overnight.

Here are some of my favorite scenes from that visit to Yosemite a year ago. Paul took most of these photos, but I think I took a few of them. That was the trip where I first started borrowing Paul's camera to take photos (before I got my own earlier this year - birthday present from Paul).

Have you ever visited Yosemite? What did you think?

Happy Winter!