Friday, October 14, 2016

Ghost Ranch . . . and My Future Town?

A few hours outside of Santa Fe is a small town called Abiquiu. People I respect told me I needed to go there to visit Ghost Ranch while I was in the area. Artist Georgia O'Keeffe lived on the ranch for three years and in the area for many more. Ghost Ranch is now an education and retreat center owned by the Presbyterian Church and you should check out their website because they've got a lot of cool stuff going on there.

A cottage at the Ghost Ranch looking all New Mexico.
Dirt Road looking from Ghost Ranch to Pedernal, Georgia O'Keeffe's mountain.
Now, one of the reasons I came out to these parts is because I'm in the (very) early stages of looking for a place to retire. New Mexico -- specifically the Santa Fe area -- has made my short list. I fell in love with Santa Fe on Day 1, but then the unexpected happened . . .

I fell in love with a small town that wasn't on my radar. At all.

Awesome view along the Santa Fe - Los Alamos route.
I am now officially in love with Los Alamos, New Mexico, population approximately 15,000, home of the Los Alamos Research Laboratories and my friend T, who recently moved back there with her family after living East for several years.

Los Alamos has trees. And extremely clean air. And a high percentage of PhDs. And beautiful homes, such as these:

I want so badly to live there. In an adobe home. Like one of these.

And Los Alamos (which means "the Cottonwoods" - as in trees) was recently named one of the best small towns in America with its smart citizens and high quality of life. There are way more than 8 Reasons to Move to Los Alamos if you ask me.

What's not to love? I'm ready to move there RIGHT NOW.

In my next entry, I'll share some of the highlights of taking "the long way" from Santa Fe through Taos, Angel Fire, and Eagle Nest over to I-25. Until then...


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Santa Fe

I recently returned from this year's highly anticipated vacation to New Mexico. This destination was selected in early summer, and I seriously couldn't wait to go. It was my third time in the Land of Enchantment, and my second time in Santa Fe, and it was AWESOME! Seriously, if you haven't been, put it on your list. Especially if you like 1) good food; and 2) art. Here are some of my favorite photos from The City Different . . .

I love the adobe buildings!
My first meal in Santa Fe was at Pantry Restaurant. This is "Christmas" chili (both red and green). De-LISH!

Tacos breakfast at Palacio. Green chilies, which turned out to be my favorite.

One of the many art galleries in Santa Fe.

Ristras - dried chilies! I wanted to buy a wreath, but didn't have room in my luggage to bring it back.

Next blog post . . . Outside Santa Fe, the Ghost Ranch, and I find what might be my perfect retirement city! Come back again soon.


Tuesday, September 13, 2016


International Civil Rights Center & Museum and the F.W. Woolworth store
We went to Greensboro last weekend for the National Folk Festival and while we were there, we decided to tour the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which includes the Woolworth's store where the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins took place. The museum has several wonderful exhibits, including the actual diner where the "Greensboro Four" along with local college and high school students and other supporters changed history.

We met up with my Greensboro cousins and set out in search of music. And we found plenty of it! I wasn't familiar with most of the artists at the Festival, but that just made it more fun to check them out. Some of the ones I enjoyed most were:
Yeah, I like all kinds of music, for sure.

The Festival will be in Greensboro for one more year, so y'all need to get to it in 2017!


Friday, August 26, 2016


Ocean Isle Beach from the Pier, 20AUG16

That song that says "the living's easy" in summer certainly hasn't applied to me this year! This has been the busiest, most intense summer I've had in a very long time. I haven't taken any time off work (because in my new company, you have to earn it before you can take it). I'm loving the new job, but I've never in my life worked so hard for so many hours. This has been a summer of work, eat, and sleep and not much else, but I'm not complaining.

The biggest 'distraction' of my summer has been Postcrossing. It's a web site where you can register to send postcards around the world, and in return you get postcards from other users. So far I've sent 38 cards and received 26. The top three countries I've received from are Russia, Japan, and Germany and the top ones I've sent to are Germany, Netherlands, and Russia. It's a pretty cool hobby and it only takes a few minutes to write a postcard.

I have two pen pals. You know, as in old-fashioned letter writing. I got one of my pen pals through the Letter Writers Alliance and the other one I "met" on Twitter. One lives in a small town in Oklahoma, the other in a city in Wisconsin. We write each other about once a week. So another hobby of late has been to find pretty stationery, which isn't nearly as easy as it used to be.

These are hobbies I can pursue at home in the evenings that don't take too long and yet the reward is thrilling. I love getting snail mail! It makes my day to get a letter or postcard. 

In other news, my parents recently celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. (Hard to imagine that two people could stand each other for that long, LOL!) On my visit to The Farm last weekend, I told them I wanted to take them out to dinner to celebrate and asked where they wanted to go. I was thinking they'd probably want to go to the local steak house or Italian place, but they said they wanted go to Calabash. (Calabash is a small town on the southern North Carolina coast that's known for seafood restaurants and "Calabash-style" -- um, deep fried -- seafood.)

I hadn't taken them on a road trip in a while, so wasn't expecting this request, but I'm always ready to go somewhere. So we piled into the car and made the 90-minute drive. After our meal, we decided to go to one of the beaches. We ended up at Ocean Isle Beach and took a walk on the pier. I could have sat on the pier for hours -- it was so relaxing.

Enjoy the rest of your summer, Northern Hemisphere peeps. For those of you South of the Equator, summer's on it's way! Cheers!


Monday, May 30, 2016

Blowing Rock

Raven Rocks Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway
Just got back from a nice weekend in Blowing Rock, a town in northwestern North Carolina that's famous for a nearby rock formation called The Blowing Rock. A tourist attraction since way back in the day, the Blowing Rock overlooks a scenic gorge on the Eastern Continental Divide, and it's totally worth the $7 adult admission fee (it's on private property) to see.

The Blowing Rock on the left, and the lovely view
Old school sign
We stayed at the Green Park Inn, an historic in built in the 1880s. The Green Park's walls are covered with photos of famous people who stayed there back in the day (Eleanor Roosevelt and Annie Oakley, to name a few), antiques, creaky floors, and the requisite old hotel ghost. I loved it. By the way, the bartender in the Divide knows how to make an awesome Bay Breeze, and perfect after-dinner coffee cordials. And I'd go back again just to have another slice of the most delicious apple pie ever and vanilla ice cream that's made right there in the kitchen.

Green Park Inn and rhododendrons in bloom
On Sunday, we wandered the Town of Blowing Rock's cute Main Street, found an awesome coffee shop and hung out there for a while, then headed over to the Blue Ridge Parkway for a short drive to Moses H. Cone Memorial Park. Moses H. Cone was a wealthy textile businessman and philanthropist of the Gilded Age, and the park was once his beloved summer home. In addition to the 13K square-foot house, called Flat Top Manor, the grounds include some twenty-five miles of hiking and biking trails. We took advantage of those, even in the misty rain and cool temps that rolled in on Sunday.

Flat Top Manor on a rainy day
We topped off the trip with a visit to Tweetsie Railroad, the "Wild West theme park" between Blowing Rock and college-town Boone, home of Appalachian State University. Tweetsie, named for the sound made by the steam locomotives (there are two of them) that wind around the park's perimeter, has been open since 1957. Both S and I went there when we were kids. (Somewhere out there are photos of my three-year-old self riding the helicopter ride and posing with the Can-Can girls.)

One of the steam trains at Tweetsie Railroad
Just like when we were kids, we rode the Ferris wheel, the Tilt-a-Whirl (twice!), and the Tweetsie Twister (known as Merry Mixer back in the day). We rode the odd-looking little gas-engine cars, too . . . the exact same cars, I'm sure, that were used in the park in 1970.

It was a fun weekend, and I really needed a getaway!


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tiny houses

I've never been a big "stuff" person, but the older I get, the less "stuff" I want. When we moved to Charlotte almost six (yes, six!) years ago, we downsized significantly from a 4500 square foot home to a two-bedroom urban apartment before finally settling into a small suburban bungalow of about 1500 square feet. Most people thought we were crazy, but I felt nothing but relief. Especially when it came time to clean!

I remember the first time I heard about the so-called tiny house movement. At first I was like: Why would anyone want to live in a dollhouse? [Back in the 70s, my little sister had a "playhouse" bigger than most of today's tiny houses.] But the more I thought about tiny house living, the more it began to make sense.

I know from experience (from living in a tiny studio apartment in Europe several years ago) that I don't need much space. I'm a minimalist at heart. Give me a comfortable bed, a basic kitchen and bathroom, and a place to sit to eat and work on my laptop and I'm just fine. I don't feel the need to entertain at home. I'd rather meet my friends out somewhere!

I could absolutely live in a tiny house like the ones in these photos from a tiny house community near Asheville. The thing is, not everyone in my family is on board with the tiny house idea. Some people like their stuff. They like having space, like being able to spread out. They're not keen on getting rid of items they've taken a lifetime to collect, or inherited from parents and grandparents.

I respect that, I guess. Everyone is different.

But imagine being able to live more fully. Imagine having more free time. Imagine being able to clean your house in an hour, rather than the three-quarters of a day it takes me now or the entire weekend it used to take me when I had a much larger home.

It just seems so freeing to me.

And the older I get, the more I want to feel free.


Saturday, April 30, 2016


The Keeper of the Plains

We traveled to Wichita, Kansas last weekend to witness the wedding of S's nephew and his lovely bride. The wedding was perfect (of course!) and after the festivities concluded, we took some time to walk around the downtown area, including Old Town Wichita. After having dinner at Bite Me BBQ, we headed over to the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers to see the sunset and the lighting of the Keeper of the Plains. 

A glorious sunset over the Little Arkansas
Unfortunately, it was too windy for all of the flames to be lit. Regardless of the partial lighting, it was cool to see, and after the 15 minute "show" we walked back to the hotel on Wichita's very nice River Walk. As we approached the hotel, we realized a concert was taking place at a stadium on the other side of the river. Although the wind made the music sound slightly distorted, we recognized the song and artist -- The Band Perry was singing "If I Die Young." We hung out by the river for a while so we could listen to the (slightly distorted but free to us) concert. Pretty cool!