What makes me jealous.

I have a friend who has recently been out of state on vacation. If you have just lived through March's first smack-down, then you may appreciate my envy. Here. Read for yourself (printed with permission):

Day 1. When we got to Moon Twp. Beaver Co. PA, the snow began with a vengeance. S and I checked in curbside at the airport and there were no lines, always a plus in travel. All flights were on time. About 10 minutes before we boarded, the sun came out and stayed until after we took off and then W. PA got SNOW. The flight was a good one and we saw nothing but clouds till we got across the Mississippi River somewhere south west. The pilot said nothing about where we were even when we could see the ground. Dallas-Fort Worth is built like a 4-leaf clover and has a shuttle 2-stories up to move people from one area to another. It was fairly easy to find our way and a simple question to someone with ID got us where we needed to be. From the plane westward, we saw a whole lot of land that looked very dry although we could see shinning patches of water that reflected the western sun and looked like bug footprints across the terrain and some places where that bug must have laid down to rest. They didn't feed us on the plane, they did give us .5 oz. of stale pretzels.

A and J met us at the airport in El Paso and took us to the Sorrento Italian Restaurant in El Paso for dinner. We all ordered something different + salad. All was good. I had manicotti and S had another cheese stuffed pasta. I like to order something I have never eaten before when I travel. I don't want something I fix at home and by our arrival, I was hungry.

We drove the Trans-mountain road across the Franklin Range to where A and J live. We missed the sunset. The Franklin Range looks like the back of a dinosaur frozen in place. The speed limit here is 75 mph.

Day 2. J fixed a "smoothie" for us for breakfast and we had an Italian raisin cake they had frozen since Christmas, saved just for our trip. It was good. This was our day to go to Carlsbad Caverns. We ate at a Chili's there. I had a Cob Salad. They seem to be different everywhere you go. It was a beautiful cloudless day. We stopped at the Guadalupe Mt. rest area. I enjoyed looking at all the different trees and cacti. Carlsbad Caverns is one of those places that is hard to describe because of the immenseness of the place. It covers 47,000 acres and it is necessary to take an elevator down to the starting point 704 feet below the surface. There is a walk way for the young and the courageous, but I am an old hen, and was happy with the elevator.

You could hear the water dripping into the cavern. Some dropped onto other rocks, some into small pools and I don't really know where the rest went, sometimes on my glasses. You could put a skyscraper in the big room and from the way it appeared, there are more unexplored caverns beneath the ones we walked through. The colors ranged from gypsum white to black and through all shades of grays. Some of the forms looked like little family groups; some looked like the pillars on a building; some were like domes either above or off to the side. They had lighting that had been arranged by a movie director and he knew how to make the most of what he was looking at. The bats don't return for another month...that didn't hurt my feelings. There was very little smell down there, just a bit damp and the smell of dampness. It is necessary to speak quietly...it is a built in broadcasting system in there. We had been given "individual tour guides," a 14 inch long gadget that looked like an overgrown remote and when the correct buttons were pressed (there were signs around with a number) and the top held to one's ear, a description of what we were looking at was right there in our ear. It is necessary to go east from El Paso to get to Carlsbad Caverns...that messes with my head.

We returned to El Paso and had dinner at Famous Dave's TX Bar-B-Que. That was the best meal I have had in years. In TX, it is always beef that is Bar-B-Qued, not pork as in the South further East. In TX, they just slow cook the meat and it is rubbed with seasoning, but not with sauce. The sauces, all 5 of them plus ketchup, are on the table and you can add them if you like. but Dave's is fine just as it comes.

At sunset in El Paso, the mountains turn orange in the setting sun instead of the normal brown or gray. It is a visual picnic.

There is a type of yucca that grows here that reminds me of an ostrich. It has a stem like legs, the spiny parts are like a feathered body and the bloom with it's stem looks like the neck and head. In some places there were flocks of them. There were acres of prickly pear cactus, both green and purple. The cactus came in green, yellow, purple, red. The dry lake beds are white...probably alkaline. Most of the river beds were dry also. I saw 3 deer. They were not mule deer nor white tail, so I am not sure of the variety, but they are certainly hardy to eke a living out of that area. It was 80 degrees in El Paso that day, and 3 degrees at home. If I had a choice..........guess what?

Day 3. It was an incredible warm clear day in El Paso. We had a day of rest. We sat out on the patio with J and she filled us in on her history growing up in a Pentecostal family in Georgia not far from Plains. About 3 PM, we went to Hobby Lobby and walked around looking at "stuff." We decided A could eat leftovers and we went to a little restaurant called "The Magic Pan," and ate our dinner "al fresco." It even had a gray cat walking on the roof, probably looking for handouts. We ordered appetizers. S had a southwest hot dip and chips, I had blue crab cake and J ordered a Mediterranean plate. We shared so that we could all taste what the other had. All of it was good.

Day 4. J and A have traveled the world in the past few years and they showed us some of their pictures from the recent trips, Viet Nam and Egypt mostly; but they are places I don't really ever expect to see, so watching theirs was a good thing. It was a bright beautiful day and we headed out in late morning for Mesilla, NM; it is a "Southwest version of Volant" type place. We drove through Pecan and Walnut groves and it was interesting to see the irrigations systems necessary to make them grow, no leaves or fruit this time of year. And we crossed the Rio Grand. Mesilla is an old town square with St. Albino's catholic church at one end. It is famous because Billy "the Kid" was in jail there at one time. There are two restaurants in the town and A and J decided this was the day to eat at "La Posta." The original building was built there in 1859 and they have tried to keep as much of the original building as possible, though it has been enlarged and repaired. We ordered a Tex-Mex platter there and ate about half of it. The servings are set for teenage boys that are hollow to their knees. I bought a pair of earrings that matched a ring I had at home and a fridge magnet shaped like a cactus. We took the scenic route to Mesilla and the interstate on the return trip. We passed a dairy farm....for 2 or 3 miles we passed a dairy farm. I never saw so many cows in one place in my life.

We were a bit early for sunset, so we stopped at a huge mall that had every wall painted a bright, but different color...purple, orange, green, yellow, red. I got a battery for my watch and a pair of pizza pans...am I the last of the big time spenders, or what? We went up the mountains in the Franklin range to watch the sunset. It brings new meaning to "purple mountain's majesty."

Day 5. We went to Christ The King Presbyterian Church this morning with J for church and Sunday school. A decided he needed a day of rest. They were inducting new deacons on this morning and served cake, ice-cream and coffee after the service to celebrate. It is a storefront church, but looks churchy inside. We went to Pei Wei for lunch, a local Chinese restaurant in El Paso. Again we all had different dishes. I had ginger chicken & broccoli with rice. The food was good there, too. That evening the church had a talent show. That church has a lot of talented musicians of all ages and they did a great job. J is a "story teller." She shared 3 short stories from her experience. More cake, cookies, ice-cream and coffee afterwards.

Day 6. Another beautiful day in our Southwest is upon us, but we do need a jacket. It is 65 at home today, that should melt the snow there. A made asparagus omelets for breakfast and he is a good cook. We are going to Juarez, Mexico today on a shuttle from downtown El Paso. It began in the theater district there. The trolley reminded me of an old school bus...the kind with square wheels. The seats were like oak park benches bolted to the floor. If I had been thinking, I would have folded my coat and used it for a pillow to sit on. We went to the Old Market. What a hoot! Monday is a slow day and they were anxious to sell any and everything. We weren't anxious to buy, so it was a good trip for us. I bought some turquoise and S got some silver/turquoise pieces. It is easy to get into Mexico, getting out is another thing. Every person has to be identified on their way into the USA. It wasn't difficult for us because we look like our drivers license photos. Now that's scary! It took about an hour to get across the bridge over the Rio Grand. Incidentally, you could wade across the Rio Grand if it wasn't for the fences that make getting near it very difficult. At that crossing, it is very shallow and has a lot of litter floating in it.

From El Paso's center, we went to Wyler's Tram and took it up to the mountain top 5,600+ altitude. From there you can see and incredible distance...2 countries, 7,000 miles (maybe square miles). The ride is a similar type to the one that goes over the whirlpool at Niagara falls if you have ever been there, but this one is almost straight up. Fort Bliss is located in El Paso and it was plainly visible from the top. They have a military hospital there. It was the end of the work day for the Tram folks so we didn't stay long. We went from there to Cafe Central in the Theater district in El Paso. That was a tablecloth linen napkin kind of place where they hid the price of the meal. It is there, but spelled out. I could have ordered a salad easily, but A wanted us to order a meat/fish meal. I had never eaten prawns (giant shrimp sort of), so this was the time to try it. They were grilled and wrapped in bacon with peppers and rice and white and green asparagus. It was very good but half of it was more than enough and we were running out of daylight on this trip, so not much point in taking the leftovers with us. S ordered pork chops with a red cabbage and sauce of some kind with apples. J had duck breast with something and A had calamari (squid) with pepper sauce. When we got home, we through the last of our things into the suitcase so we would be ready for our 8:30 MST plane.

Day 7. A took us to the airport, another beautiful bright sunny morning. He took us in the truck and was headed from here to the repair shop. All of our flights were on time and that is always a good thing. We grabbed a pizza at D/FW because we expected to get home about 7 PM EST and that is a long time between meals. Again the sky was fairly clear to the Mississippi River and about there, the clouds moved in and got thicker and thicker. I found out later the area of gray cloud tops we flew over had dropped 13 in of snow over TN or KY somewhere.

We arrived on time and R already had my luggage, but he didn't know what S's luggage looked like. Her luggage showed up shortly and we were on our way. Pgh was cold and dreary and it was raining slightly, better than snow for the trip home, I guess. There was a landslide on Rt. 60, so we took an alternate to get around it. We both enjoyed the trip very much. A and J are special people. Their two children are between my two children in age. Please remember J in your prayers. She may have Pick's Disease which is a decreased blood flow to the part of the brain that takes care of short term memory. She can remember childhood, but maybe not breakfast or yesterday. The doctors have eliminated some of the possible diseases, but they haven't really decided what the problem is.

It is good to be home and the first think I did was make beef vegetable soup. I can't seem to get warm. Hopefully by the time I get adjusted to the cold, it will be spring.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have your facts a bit wrong about Pick's disease. Pick's is the behavioral version of fronto temporal dementia, and most sufferers don't have memory problems for a while. It is marked by a lack of empathy, loss of introspection, and abrupt personality change. It is a terrible disease, and I pray your friend's wife doesn't have it.