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The Sisterhood of Sisters

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If you have a sister you know what I’m talking about – there is a bond between us that makes us all stronger together. I have two older sisters. Both at the top of the birth order of five siblings. I finish the list as child number five, sister number three.

Life has a way of reminding us how fragile our existence on the earth really is – it often takes loss to get our attention. Once we realize life has one guarantee – you will die- you start seeing the world differently.

When our Mom passed away, we vowed to spend more time together as sisters celebrating life. And we did. It became our mission, and sometimes even a chore, to get the sisters together at least once a month. From salt spas in Williamsburg to seashells in Sanibel, we found time for each other. As the years pass, our photos tell our story, we age a little and smile a lot.

But our sister story took an unexpected turn when my oldest sister Deb died suddenly. There was no warning and nothing to prepare us for this tremendous loss. It was devastating to our family, especially for me and my sister Geri. Our partner in crime was gone. Her lively essence was extinguished. But how could that be? We were just together laughing and joking. Geri and I were numb.

The overwhelming support of our friends and the community brought us comfort. But the void left from loss is a strange and awkward emotion. How does one deal with this grief? It’s been a year since Deb passed. My sister Geri and I have spent the last 12 months making sense of it all only to realize life is short.

Debs favorite saying was, YOLO – You Only Live Once. But I’ve come to realize the opposite is true- you only die once, but you live everyday. And my sister Deb did just that. She lived everyday with an enthusiasm for life and a heart full of love.

My sister Geri and I celebrate Deb’s life and legacy everyday. We hold tight to our memories and all the things that made Deb a one-of-a-kind person. Like her crazy-assed stories ( you were never sure if she was kidding or serious) were entertaining to say the least. But one thing for sure, Deb was generous with her time, money, and love.

The one thing I’ve learned from this experience, is that you are not guaranteed tomorrow so make the best of today.

Relatively Speaking

As Deb would always say, “We are family, I got all my sisters with me.”

Chincoteague Virginia

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There aren’t many beach towns left in America that celebrate time honored traditions like that of Chincoteague,  VA. Off the coast of Virginia, Chincoteague Island is a historic village where wild ponies are the talk of the town.  If you remember the book “Misty of Chincoteague” you’ll fall in love with this seaside town dedicated to the preservation of the wild ponies of Assateague and Chincoteague.  In addition to the famed ponies, there are the people and businesses of Chincoteague that make this beach town unforgettable.

We went to Chincoteague for a visit with “Aunt Jean and Uncle Joe” who took the liberty of showing us a great time on the island. With any visit to the shore, there is always seafood involved. Luckily, we were with the two island experts who knew all the best local spots.  

Our visit started with steamed claims, soft shell crabs and a tomato pie. If you’ve never had a tomato pie, stop by Church Street Produce and order one. Filled with tomatoes, mozzarella, and herbs in a delightful pie crust, the pies are made to order and fresh out of the oven when you pick them up.  With oysters on the menu, we went where the locals shop, Sea Best Seafood in the heart of Chincoteague for the freshest catch and everything you need to make it delicious – be sure to tell them Jean and Joe sent you!  No beach trip would be complete without ice cream! The Island Creamery makes hand-made small batch ice cream with free tastes of any flavor. My coffee ice cream in a waffle cone was a splendid mid-day treat.  Eric had Birthday Cake ice cream and it was like a celebration in a cone!  

Of course, the local brewery is always a point of interest with us.  New to Chincoteague, the Black Narrows Brewing Company is the only brewery on the island.  With the mainstay beer, Salts, a tasty tart oyster wheat with a briny hint of lemon, we were intrigued with the creativity here. Other offerings included a delicious Mosquito Magnet IPA, Lishe, a wild fennel stout with hints of licorice and roasted coffee, and Take in the Sky, a melon, shortbread, and black pepper concoction.  The beers here are created with locally sourced ingredients and they are big on giving back to the community.  I can’t wait to go back here to see whats new on tap!

Our discovery of the island continued with a trip to the Wildlife Nature Reserve, a habitat for the modern-day descendants of domestic horses left on the island three centuries ago to fend for themselves, and they did. They have adapted to the hardships of living near the ocean and continue to evolve into beautiful specimens of survival. In addition to the ponies, there is an abundance of wildlife, aquatic life, and plants that are unique to this delicate ecosystem.

If you love the sky, Chincoteague will not disappoint. Feed your curiosity with a visit to Wallop Island NASA Visitors Center. We didn’t get to see a rocket launch but we did get to see an amazing display of skill as US Navy Pilots performed “touch and go” maneuvers where they land briefly, touch the runway and take off again. This was a spectacular show of discipline, adroitness, and coordination in the skies overhead. Sunsets are spectacular and the night sky is bright with constellations and planets easily visible with the naked eye. 

And there is still more…we were able to ride our bikes around the entire island. As a history nerd, I found a special place on the island, Chincoteague’s oldest standing structure. The home was owned by Captain Timothy Hill and built sometime around 1800. This rare home was discovered beneath a dilapidated structure in 2009 and restored to its former architectural glory, complete with a wooden chimney. There are two ships carved into the exterior logs, however, the artist remains a mystery. Legend has it, the house is haunted by Timothy Hill’s daughter Jenny. She was killed by her long time love Tom Freeman, when her father denied permission for them to marry. The house was moved from its original location and is open to the public on weekends.  

Chincoteague is a nature lovers dream come true. There is just something about the beach that brings balance to one’s life. Eric and I both agree, we are drawn to the ocean and feel at peace there. We are grateful for the opportunity to spend quality time with our beloved Aunt Jean and Uncle Joe in their “happy place.”  We felt welcome, comfortable, and loved. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Until next time,
The Humbleweeds
Eric and Lori

@islandcreamery1

@churchstreetproduce

@BlackNarrows

@localtechchic

High Times in Colorado

Have you ever been so high you thought you could touch the sky? Hey now, I’m talking mountain climbing…If you’ve ever climbed a 14er (a mountain summit that is at 14,000 feet above sea level or higher) you understand the euphoric moment when you reach the top. It’s like sitting on top of the world. Colorado is home to 58 fourteeners that bring droves of hikers and outdoor enthusiast to the trails. The Humbleweeds have crossed off yet another item on the bucket list.
It all started with a drive to Mt Evans, located near Idaho Springs, CO at an elevation of 14,271. Known as the highest paved road in North America, the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway winds to the top of the summit passing breathtakingly beautiful Echo and Summit Lakes. With snow still visible and the hillside blanketed with summer wild flowers, curious white mountain goats and bighorn sheep looked on as thousands of tourists make their way to the top of the sky-scraping peak. Looking out at the endless sea of mountain tops, feeling a sense of peace and wonder, one truly gets lost in the moment. As John Muir once said, “the mountains are calling and I must go;” so we began planning our next 14er outing, this time on foot.
Being novice climbers and maybe a little more “aged” than most on the trail, the Humbleweeds set out for Mt. Bierstadt, standing at 14,060 ft above sea level, just outside the town of Georgetown, CO. The parking lot was situated around 11,600 feet and from there the hike was a sharp 2,392 ft climb to the rocky summit. On July 4, starting at 7:00 a.m., we joined hundreds of other hikers making their way to the top. The round trip was a seven mile hike, but certainly not for the faint of heart. While passing through willow marshes and wadding across the rushing Scott Gomer Creek, it took almost 4 hours to reach Bierstadt’s western slope. The rocky trail made several switchbacks while progressing up the mountain. On the talus upper regions of the mountain, the route was no longer a recognizable path but a series of cairns, marking the way to the summit. The last 300 yards was certainly the most difficult while crossing the scree (broken rock fragments) while maneuvering the jagged boulders to the peak. As the air became thinner, it was evident the altitude affected our attitude, that’s right, the euphoria set in! We made it! Another Humbleweeds first…a real emotional high!

Once at the top, we claimed a spot on the peak to sit and bask in the glory of our accomplishment. We shared the peak with others who also made the successful trek to the top. Some even celebrated with a festive “keg stand” at 14,060 ft, oh yes…(see photo.) We were amazed to see so many well behaved dogs made the trip with their human companions. From the peak, we could see Mt. Evans, the mountain that inspired us to make the journey just a week before. One hiker told us he’d been hiking on Mt. Bierstadt more than twenty years and had never seen the weather on the mountain more perfect; certainly a a perfect way to spend July 4th in America.

We’ve only just begun.

The Humbleweeds,

Eric and Lori

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The inspiration! Mt. Evans Summit Lake  – Elevation 12,836 ft

Mt. Evans Residents

The hike to Mt. Bierstadt, looking back at our progress.

Meet Cairn, our tour guide atop Mt. Bierstadt.

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Humbleweeds sitting on top of the world!  Mt. Bierstadt- 07/04/2016

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Celebrations (keg stand top left), reflection, and rest! 

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The decent back to reality. Mt. Bierstadt in the distance.

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We’ve only just begun…

Tiny Towns of the Western Slope

With a western slope trifecta, the paltry towns of Crawford, Hotchkiss, and Paonia, with a combined population of just under 3,000, are communities with kind hearts and a big ambition to stay small.  Located within the North Fork Valley region of Delta county, the area has a unique charm and simplicity that continues to attract homesteaders and of course, tourism. We were invited back to the area to housesit on a llama ranch and didn’t hesitate to accept! It’s the kind of place where time slows and a neighborly wave can be expected from just about everyone you pass along the way.

The region has a unique semi-arid high desert climate with a view of the West Elk Mountains to the east and Grand Mesa to the north, but my favorite landmark is Needle Rock, located in Crawford; the remnant of an extinct volcanic plug that forced its way through the earths crust, 800 ft up straight up about two million years ago.  Just over the ridge of Needle Rock stands the MadDog Ranch, once home to singer Joe Cocker (1944-2014).  I can certainly see why Joe found this place so appealing.

No matter where you drive in Delta county, the views are captivating from any direction, even along the roadside. There are nine wineries, one craft beer brewer, a brandy distillery, and the largest collection of organic farmers in Colorado.  The glorious sight of blooming fruit trees and grape vines winding their way to the sun, while fields are spotted with white wooly lambs gives one the sense of purpose on our beautiful planet.  Along the way is Hotchkiss, a quaint place with a mid-town gem,  Mary Hockenbery’s Church of Art, a funky approach to spotlighting local artists of the Western Slope.

We visited the Paonia local brewery, #RevolutionBrewing, a one room tiny house tucked along Grand Avenue, the main drag through town.  The minute we stepped foot in the door we could feel the heartbeat of Paonia was gathered in one room.  We were immediately welcomed with a tasty brew, The Hair of the Three Dog Night, a special batch brew that seemed to be a local favorite. The vibe was incredible, like a village instead of a town; there were moms, dads, kids, grandmas, grandpas, fathers, brothers, sisters, neighbors, local politicians, and us…the curious tourist, all congregated for a common goal, a home brew.  Paonia was indeed a true gem; with it’s own film festival and local performing artist #JeneveRoseMitchell (who appeared on American Idol), culture and art are very much a part of this small town’s charm.

We’ve decided the western slope of Colorado is certainly high on our list of favorite places.  It’s rough and rugged landscape is intoxicating and invigorating, just like the people who call it home.

Where the west was one…

The Humbleweeds

Eric and Lori

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How Pet Sitting Changed Everything

Are you looking for a change of pace, maybe slow things down? That question weighed heavy on my mind for 25 years, I knew there had to be a better way to spend more time enjoying life away from work. I once heard a European say, “Americans work too much” and I’m beginning to believe it. According to a CNN Money report, nearly four in 10 workers report logging 50+ hours weekly and the average American worker clocked 47 hours; that’s a lot of hours away from home and family. I decided to change career paths for the third time, but this time in search of something totally different from the thankless positions of my past. So, I turned to house and pet sitting.

What is house-pet sitting, you ask? Just what the title implies, you care for someone’s home and pets while they are away. If you’ve ever had to board a pet, you know it can be expensive and stressful for both owner and pet. Same thing with your home; when you go away on vacation do you worry about your home sitting empty and being vulnerable to severe weather or even criminal activity? A House-pet sitter stays in your home, cares for your pets, and maintains the house and other chores needed. Imagine the peace of mind traveling knowing your pet and home are in loving and caring hands around the clock. That’s my new job.

After 18 months of travel and 17 housesits later, I’ve been humbled by the generosity of others and uplifted by the love of their devoted pets.  From llamas to kittens, and everything in between, I’ve been forever changed by the sweetness of a wet nose.  With each sit, I learn something new-whether it’s how to care for an aging pet or prepare a home for a hurricane–it all contributes to my repertoire of life experience.

What does it take to be a trusted house-pet sitter and travel to exotic places? It’s easier than you think. Visit trustedhousesitters.com and look around first. If you like what you see, a minimal annual subscription connects you to amazing places, pets, and people.

I travel, therefore I am ….happy!

The Happy Humbleweed-Lori

Cultural Enrichment in Las Vegas

neonmuseaumYes, it’s true! You can have a culturally enriching experience in Las Vegas. It was a sign, a neon sign that convinced us.  Las Vegas is known for its bright lights and glitz. Without it, Las Vegas is just another dry desert town.  Well the folks at the Neon Museum in Las Vega have a real class act. They’ve taken on the responsibility to tell the real story of Las Vegas by way of iconic lighting fixtures and the signs of days gone by. The museum docent was amazing and obviously had a passion for her job and the Vegas story.  The tour took us through the “Boneyard”, the largest outdoor collection of vintage signs.

The museum lobby and visitors center is housed inside the former La Concha Motel  (moved from its original location) designed by architect Paul Williams in 1961 to create a futuristic feel to the Vegas Blvd. The motel closed its doors in 2003 as the landscape of the desert city was evolving.  In 2006, the structure was moved to the Neon Sign Museum and restored to its former glory as the visitors center of the museum.  A must see during your next  visit to Las Vegas.

Kudos to the Neon Museum for sharing tales of light that may have otherwise faded into the dust.

We’ve seen the light!
The Humbleweeds

Meadow Makes Her Way West!

Meadow’s road trip to Colorado! #humbleweeds (at Colorado/Kansas Border)

Kansas City’s Blue October

Kansas City….We had the privledge of visiting Kansas City during Blue October, the KC Royals run for the pennant. The city was alive and connected with excitement of their beloved hometown team. We connected with friends in a suburb of KC on Lake Tapowingo. We were treated to a weekend of all things KC. We began with the Boulevard Brewery tour in Kansas City. Not only did we get tasty beer samples, but we were throughly entertained and educated by our tour guide Adam with a mix of humor and hops.

Then there’s the food…Porky’s BBQ is a foodie treasure trove. The place is only open Friday-Sunday from lunch time until the meat is are all gone, which is usually only a few hours. The food is extraordinary and the concept simple, do what you do best and specialize in it!
Further in the city, there’s The Flea. A quirky historic flea market turned restaurant, provides a glimpse into the past of old downtown KC. Boasting their award winning chicken panini, The folks at The Flea were fun and engaging. The restaurant still saves room for a few flea market bargains, so shopping is part of the experience.

We love the spirit of Kansas City and their championship attitude! Thanks Mark and Jacque for sharing your great city with us.

Heading west,
The Humbleweeds
Eric and Lori

Fargo, Just North of Normal

There may be other reasons to go to Fargo ND, but for us there is only one reason to go…to see the infamous wood chipper used in the Coen brothers cult classic film, Fargo. The welcome center hosts two wood-chippers, a replica outside and the original movie prop is inside. The friendly folks at the Welcome Center will provide you with additional movie props for fun photo opportunities. “The Woodchipper “has its own Facebook page and website. Just south of Fargo is town called Normal. Of course, we had to see what Normal looks like…simplicity at its core.

Geez,
The Humbleweeds
Eric and Lori

Minnesota Folks Sure Are Friendly!

Minnesota folks are so nice! We had the most delightful time in Minneapolis, don’t ya know. We had dinner at a local Culvers, a local fast food chain. We ordered burgers, fries and cokes and found our way to a table. In the corner of the dining room was a gathering of musicians (all senior citizens) delivering a classical bluegrass gospel sound that was merry and bright. I think we may have stumbled upon a senior’s local hang out…but we were welcomed just the same, don’t ya know.

Nice matters!

The Humbleweeds
Eric and Lori

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