Author Archives: queenbookworm

About queenbookworm

I am a mature female adventure junkie often traveling solo. I want to encourage other women to fulfill their dreams even if they have to step out of their comfort zones and go it alone. Do not wait for someone else to make your dreams come true - ever day is an adventure.

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 6

I ended Day 5 at Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area.  Camping at a recreation area is very different from camping in a state or national park.  You pay admittance ($10 in this instance) and just drive to wherever you want to overnight.  Lake Ogallala is gorgeous.  I parked right on the beach under the trees and prepared for the night. After unloading my kayak, chair, cooler and other items I drove to the only restaurant in the rec area.  It was 4:00 but I  thought I would treat myself to a cocktail and a hot meal.  The sign read that the kitchen didn’t open until 5:00.  OK, I’ll sit at the bar and enjoy a glass of wine until it opens.  I ordered my wine and told the bartender I’d just sit and keep her company for an hour until I could order dinner.  She said, “Nope, that’ll be two hours”.  Well, I had crossed into another time zone and it was actually 3:00.  So, now I’m two zones away from home and I’m a little confused because I don’t know how to re-set my fit bit watch and I’ve been deducting an hour every time I glance at it.  OK, so now I’ll deduct two hours.  But I’m still hungry.  I bought a bag of Doritos and a bag of Cheetos (actually the first junk food since I began my trip – hooray for me!) and returned to the lake.

I inflated my kayak and had a wonderful paddle on Lake Ogallala.  I decided I’d do an early morning paddle so I left the kayak inflated, sat down to write, read, drink some wine (I always carry a bottle for happy hour), plan the next day’s route, munch on junk food  and watch the sun set.  Stunning.

There’s one problem with camping in a recreation area – no facilities. Well, there was a vault toilet but yuck, no.  I used my female urination device for the first time and it worked great although my sister-in-law’s method of outdoor peeing worked even better.  Thank you, Lisa. Contact me if you want her method.  I don’t mean to be offensive but these are things girls must think about when camping. I had a very comfortable night except that my eye started draining. After cleaning it with a washcloth and water, it began to feel better and by morning the pain was gone and the swelling under control.  Whew!

No kayaking in the morning.  The lake was shrouded in mist.  I sat on the dock dangling my feet in the icy water while making some phone calls. The setting was quiet and mysterious and I started thinking about Stephen King’s, “The Mist”.  I got extra spooked when I heard a splash and promptly pulled my feet out of the water and up into a lotus position but reminded myself that there are no sharks or alligators in Lake Ogallala.  It still creeped me out until I saw a large fish jump, wiggle and splash.  It was a trout or a bass maybe and would explain why I saw a bunch of people fishing yesterday.

I had a heck of a time deflating the kayak and getting it back up into the rooftop carrier.  I brought a one step stool but I still wasn’t tall enough to position it, zip the carrier and tie it down.  There was no one around to help so I just did a half-assed job and went on my merry way. I stopped at the Visitor Center to clean up, change clothes, a little makeup (hopeless since I didn’t want anything applied around my eyes), comb and style(?) my hair, etc. The hell with it.  I was anxious to find Wyoming.

The rest of Day 6 was glorious.  I entered Wyoming early and was so enthralled with the scenery I passed right through Cheyenne and Laramie without really noticing. My plan was to stop and explore some cowboy stuff but I decided I was more interested in the countryside than tourist attractions so I kept driving west on Interstate 80 until I discovered a byway through the Medicine Bow Mountains.  It took me two hours off my route but was so worth it.

 

I then got desperately lost but eventually found Rawlins, WY and decided that I would boondock for the first time at the local WalMart.  Many of the camping blogs I read recommend staying at the WalMart lots because they’re safe and convenient.  There are security cameras and lights and I was encouraged that there were at least 20 RVs, campers and trucks parked in the overnight parking area.  I know it sounds odd to boondock in a WalMart lot but if it’s good enough for the big boys with quarter million $ RVs, it’s good enough for me.  WalMart loves overnight campers because they buy their supplies from the store, buy gas, etc.  Whatever you may think about WalMart, they are cordial and supportive of their overnight campers.

I stopped for dinner at the Days Inn restaurant next door because I was exhausted and didn’t have the energy to look for any other restaurants.  I had one of the most delicious cheeseburgers I’ve ever eaten.  Perhaps I was just extremely hungry having only eaten leftover Cheetos and a couple of energy bars all day.  I parked between two huge RVs and in the morning the lot looked like a regular campground. I felt secure and had a comfortable night.  I can’t wait for Day 7 – Grand Teton National Park.

 

 

Categories: Camping, Kayaking, Life, Retirement, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 5

Oh boy.  I woke up at 3:30 with a lot of itching and pain in my eye.  I almost vomited when I saw the monster in my mirror.  My eye was mostly swollen shut and my cheek was red and puffy.  Uh oh.  What to do?  I have a well-stocked first aid kit but nothing for this.  (Note to self: add antibiotic eye drops to kit.)  I’m in the middle of nowhere – York, Nebraska without a clue.   At 5 a.m.  I called the front desk to ask about a walk-in clinic or an ER but the clerk didn’t know anything so I tried to imagine what a pioneer woman would do.  I’m never sure whether to use heat or cold for swelling so I used both alternating a warm compress with ice. I took a hot shower and let the water drum against the swelling.  It felt better but without makeup I looked like hell.  If it’s not better by the afternoon I thought, I’ll track down a pharmacy or a clinic wherever I happen to be.   Although I felt and looked like Quasimodo I’ll probably never see anyone I run into today again.  So, as long as I don’t scare any small children or animals I’m just going to enjoy my day and forget about my appearance.

OK, first stop Fort Kearny.  I was disappointed.  The fort was an outpost for travelers heading west on the Oregon Trail, where they could stop and re-supply.  There were no battles fought there.  There are a few outbuildings standing and the wooden palisades surrounding the fort.  The clerk in the Visitor Center was a young man who didn’t know the history of the fort or the surrounding area so I left after buying a couple of postcards for the grandkids.

Then I headed to Gothenburg, the Pony Express Capital of Nebraska. The station in the park was used as a fur trading post along the Oregon Trail before becoming a Pony Express station.  It’s hard to imagine in todays world of cell phones, internet, email and text messaging that the only way to communicate in the early days of the country was through brave young men riding relay, galloping between stations picking up and dropping off saddlebags full of mail.  Hostile Indians, brutal weather, robbers – Pony Express riders were tough, courageous and resourceful.  The station is now a museum.  I bought postcards for the kids and placed them in an original mailbag attached to the front door.  My imagination was  deliciously satisfied.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hit the jackpot at the Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park in North Platte, Nebraska. Buffalo Bill Cody’s Scout’s Rest Ranch was fascinating; the mansion, the grounds, the barn and all the artifacts from his long life as an Army scout and buffalo hunter and then as a world reknown showman traveling with his Wild West Show throughout the US and Europe.  It was a gorgeous day and I spent a happy couple of hours looking around and plugging the holes in my memory with details of the life and times of Buffalo Bill Cody, a bigger than life icon of the wild west. I imagined living in those rooms that look so small by today’s standards but was a mansion in the 19th century.  The rooms are furnished with elegance and style.  Bill’s wife and daughters were women of culture and intelligence and strength but it was still a difficult life.  Two of his children died from scarlet fever in that house so although it is a beautiful place it is filled with ghosts.   The spring house and a small cabin were interesting.  The huge barn holds a collection of the posters from Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and many of of his wagons, tools and rifles.   I saw my first buffalo. My eye still hurts and I’m still in the middle of who knows where? But, I had a great day and I’m very happy.

 

 

I regretfully left Scout’s Rest Ranch but still needed to find a place to spend the night.  Ogalalla.  I love saying that.  So I decided I would try to camp at  Ogalalla State Recreation Area   More about that tomorrow.

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Life, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 4

I woke up excited knowing I would be entering Nebraska today.  Up til now I’ve been traveling through states I’ve already visited.  My real wild west adventure begins when I cross the border into Nebraska.

At 12:15 I was in Iowa.  Iowa? And 25 minutes later I crossed into Nebraska.  I guess I just clipped the corner of Iowa.  The land undulates;  not hills and valleys but  waves and the crops are healthy and green and beautiful.  Planted in checkerboard patterns, the fields are tidy and neat.  I have no idea what kinds of trees I’m seeing.  There are  varieties of firs I’ve never seen before – some are fluffy and lacy and some spikey and dangerous looking.   I never imagined so many shades of green.  From lime to almost black.    I drove through miles and miles of wide open country, blue skies and green fields and woods.  We live in an amazing country and I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to see it.

My first stop was at the Lewis and Clark Center in Nebraska City.  I’ve always been amazed at the bravery of the men and women who trail blazed the west and when I was a kid daydreamed of running away to be a pioneer.  I know now it wasn’t nearly as glamorous “Wagon Train” made it appear.

I had lunch at a cute little restaurant in Nebraska City and took a doggy bag with me for dinner. My eye was itching and sore. Back in the car I decided to just head toward Fort Kearney and stop at a motel mid-afternoon to reorganize, blog, relax and take a long, hot shower.  What I didn’t realize is that in Nebraska there are long stretches of highway with no exits and the exits that exist do not have the convenient gas stations, restaurants, etc. that I take for granted.  So I’m very cautious about keeping my gas tank filled and peeing whenever and wherever I can, even if I don’t have to “go”.  I drove and drove and drove and finally located a motel in York, Nebraska and had a very comfortable night. I took some aspirin for my itchy, sore eye and swore I would not allow any physical ailments to slow me down.  I’m anticipating great things tomorrow.

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Life, Retirement, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 3

Leaving Tennessee on a beautiful morning, the woods were so lush and moist they looked edible.  I drove narrow winding back roads to get to the highway leading to Missouri.  I wanted to get past St. Louis by the end of the day, about 300 miles.

I was listening to a really good audiobook mystery and must have zoned out.  I looked up and saw a sign for Paducah.  Wait a minute.  Paducah?  Hell, I didn’t even know I was in Kentucky.  Well, one of the most famous quilt stores in the country is in Paducah as well as the National Quilt Museum but I’ve already visited both so once I confirmed that I was indeed supposed to travel through a little tip of Kentucky to get to St. Louis, I decided to just keep driving. But then something very strange happened.

I must have gone into a fugue state because I regained consciousness standing at the check-out register at Hancock’s of Paducah with several yards of Kaffe Fassett fabric in my arms.  Hmmm.  How’d that happen?

Back on the road I continued listening to my mystery and wondering why I wasn’t hungry.  Driving a car probably doesn’t qualify as a high energy workout so I was grateful that I wasn’t junk food bingeing as I usually do when I’m driving.  Normally I convince myself that if I’m vacationing so are my fat cells and Doritos, BBQ Fritos, popcorn & beef jerky calories don’t count.

I jerked out of my food-related reverie when I noticed a sign telling me I was in Indiana. That can’t be right. By the time I found an exit to pull over to check with Siri on my GPS I was in Missouri. I began to believe that my car has an automatic pilot.  I also believe in guardian angels.

I was a little intimidated anticipating driving through St. Louis but it was a piece of cake. I stopped for coffee to figure out where I was going to spend the night.  I located Graham Cave State Park near Danville, MO and decided to camp there.  I actually drove down a dirt road to find the park and was getting a little spooked but finally found the ranger station.  This campground is on the honor system.  You pick up an envelope, locate a site you like, put your $$ in the envelope and drop it off when you leave.  It’s a very pretty little campground with confusing shower and bath facilities.  There are two separate rooms – one for the toilets and one for the showers.  Naturally I kept walking into the wrong one to meet my needs but met some really nice women in both   All in all, another comfortable night and I was packed up and ready to go by 6:15 a.m. because I wanted to check out the prehistoric cave before leaving the park.

The cave was occupied 8,000 – 10,000 years ago but do you think I could find it?  No.  At 6:30 in the morning there was no one around to ask.  I tried three times to follow the signs to the cave but the only trail I could locate was through the woods for 1/4 mile and I just didn’t feel comfortable trekking through the woods alone.  So exploring the cave will have to wait for another visit.

I’ll be in Nebraska tomorrow.

 

 

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Life, Quilting, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 2

My brother and his family are visiting from Israel and staying in Spring Hill, TN near Nashville. It’s about a four-hour drive from Atlanta so we piled all the toys my grandson Max (7 years old) wants to give to his Seattle cousin, Lou (2 years old) onto the passenger seat of my car.  This limited my space up front a bit but it was just too hard to open the rooftop carrier and load all 40 pounds of  wooden Thomas the Train engines and tracks.  I now have Thomas and his train friends traveling as passengers in the front seat with the seatbelt engaged to keep the alarm from “dinging” due to their weight.

I’ve always enjoyed the drive from Atlanta to Nashville.  Wendy’s has a terrific chicken and mango salad that I enjoyed at a rest stop overlooking a lake along the way.  It’s a beautiful drive with the elevation changing from flatlands to low mountains.  There’s a downhill section of highway where I like to measure how far I can “coast” without using the gas pedal.  I’m easily amused.

I spent a couple of hours visiting my brother and his family before heading to Montgomery Bell State Park for my first overnight SUV camping experience. I enjoyed the beauty of the drive as well as the fun of driving through lushly green winding roads from Spring Hill to Burns, Tennessee.  The park is 4,000 acres of forests, trails, campgrounds, lakes, a golf course, villas, an inn and restaurant. I paid $13 for my campsite, set everything up and hopped back in the car to locate the restaurant.  The food was just OK, the staff inexperienced but friendly and the view was terrific. You know what?  Who cares.  I was hungry, tired, the flatbread pizza was edible and with a glass Cabernet, I enjoyed just being there.

 

My first night sleeping in the SUV was great.  All  my plans came to fruition.  My window shades worked, my little rechargeable fan kept me so cool that I had to pull up my blanket and my 4-inch memory foam mattress was super comfortable.  I slept like a rock until 4 am and then just had to wait until it started to get light because I won’t roam around a campground alone in the dark.  First light I lit my propane stove to boil some water for coffee in my French press, made up my bed and got everything organized for the day.

Montgomery Bell is such a beautiful state park but I was disappointed that the bath/shower rooms have been neglected and need updating badly.  Nevertheless, I had a nice hot shower, got my makeup and hair done and dressed for the day without melting in the humid shower room.  I relaxed with a cup of coffee while I planned my route for the day.  I wanted to get a little west of St. Louis before stopping for the night.  I’m trying to limit my driving to about 300-350 miles/day so that I have time to enjoy wherever I stay and take my time visiting any locations along the way.

I was very proud and pleased that my SUV bedroom was comfortable and private and everything worked as planned.

Day 2 was a success.  I loved being with my family and enjoyed a comfortable night camping but tomorrow begins the real adventure into parts unknown.  Well, OK, I took a road trip to Missouri Star Quilt Company in Hamilton, MO last with my daughter so I’m not counting Missouri as a complete unknown but I expect there will be an adventure of some sort tomorrow.

Stay tuned.

 

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Family, Life, Retirement, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America – Day 1

  • Twin size mattress/bed in back of car – check
  • Two plastic containers for kitchen supplies and miscellaneous stuff – check
  • Duffel bag with travel clothes – check
  • Bath supplies/makeup – check
  • Lotions/potions/pills, etc. – check
  • Afghan, pillows, rechargeable fan – check
  • Gallon bag of home made travel mix – check
  • Gallon of water and Tervis tumbler – check
  • Breakfast supplies/French press/coffee/creamer & energy bars – check
  • Computer/Kindle/iPhone and cords – check
  • Shoes/hiking boots – check
  • Maps, Atlas, brochures, planner, notebooks, pens – check
  • Money, credit cards – check
  • Cold weather clothes & bedding in rooftop carrier – check
  • Inflatable kayak in rooftop carrier – check
  • Extra folding chair & tent in rooftop carrier – check
  • New tires and oil change – check

 

 

OK – I’m ready to boogie.

My first day on the road was the usual mundane drive from Port Charlotte, FL to Atlanta, Georgia that I’ve made so many times to visit my daughter and her family.  Just getting out of Florida is a major accomplishment and boring.  But, since this is MY roadtrip and MY adventure and MY journey of discovery, I stopped to explore a sign I’ve passed a hundred times near Bushnell, Florida,  “Dade Battlefield Historic State Park”.  I’m a bit of a Civil War buff and always thought this was the site of a Civil War battle.  No, it’s the site of a battle fought during the Second Seminole War.

When you drive through the gates you enter a beautiful,  dark green canopied landscape.  Serene. Mysterious.  In December 1835, 108 US troops and officers were marching from Tampa to reinforce Fort King in Ocala when they were attacked by 180 Seminole warriors.  All but three of the soldiers were killed. The Visitor Center is small but provides a 12-minute video explaining the history of the war and the battle, with artifacts, exhibits, weapons and a gift shop.  You can also walk the trail that features interpretive signs and monuments.  Well worth a stop if you’re traveling on I-75 near Bushnell.  I’m a native Floridian and found it fascinating.

I arrived in Atlanta two hours later than expected but was welcomed by my joyous grandson, a wonderful New York strip dinner and a comfortable bed.

Not bad for day 1 of my Great Escape.

 

 

 

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Family, Life, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Am I There Yet? A vintage girl’s journey across America

Don’t lie.  Tell the truth.  At some point in your life you’ve wanted to run away. When you were a kid maybe you wanted to run away from school or siblings or parents. As an adult perhaps you wanted to disappear from responsibilities or relationships.  I think we’ve all dreamed of running away to be free of some challenge we don’t want to face.

Personally, I wanted to run away to be a cowboy.  Not a cowgirl because I didn’t want to wear a stupid cowgirl skirt like Dale Evans.  7bb1c95f5b52b94d7d3a68f0dcc759f9--cowgirl-images-dale-evans

Get lost Tonto!  I wanted to be the Lone Ranger’s sidekick.  I wanted to gamble with Maverick, ride with the Cartwrights, fly with Sky King, shoot with the Rifleman, right wrongs with Cheyenne and Sugarfoot, Johnny Yuma, Wyatt Earp,  Bat Masterson, et al.

bonanza

Well, after all these years I’m finally doing it.  I’m running toward my childhood dreams of the Wild West.  I’ve packed my car and will be taking the ultimate roadtrip solo.  From Port Charlotte, FL to Seattle, WA.  I will be SUV camping in state and national parks along the way with only myself and my audio books for company, my travel apps and Atlas to guide me and 50 years of imagining, dreaming and planning.

Many of my friends and family are appalled that I’m driving across the country by myself, flying by the seat of my pants, following my nose, drifting with the wind. I’ve made no reservations for campsites or hotel rooms because I don’t know how far I will drive each day or how long I will tarry at various locations.  What they don’t realize is that I have spent months poring over my maps and brochures from state tourism bureaus and Chambers of Commerce and have made this trip numerous times in my mind.  I want no schedules or appointments, no time limits or responsibilities.

So, if you’ve ever dreamed of running away you’re welcome to join me. I will describe what I see and feel along the way – – Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, a little bit of Illinois, Missouri, a tiny bit of Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

Hi, ho Silver, away!

lone ranger

 

 

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Camping, Life, road trip, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

I Gained Half a Pound

Daily Prompt:  Later

This morning I weighed myself and found that I’d gained half a pound.  Later I stepped on the scale but this time I sucked in my stomach.  I was still up half a pound.

scale

 

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Daily Prompt, Humor, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Body Parts that Jiggle

Daily Prompt – Jiggle

So you get to a certain age and body parts don’t stay where they’re supposed to:

  • You raise your arms to style your hair and your underarms jiggle like batwings.
  • You swing your legs out of bed in the morning and your thighs keep swinging.
  • You shake your head “no” and your neck starts gobbling.
  • You wake up on your back and wonder why there are pillows under your arms … they’re your boobs.
  • You turn over in bed and you have to wait a nanosecond for your tummy to follow.
  • You don’t dare jog because your gazongas could knock you out.
  • You think you’re being followed but it’s only your ass slapping against the back of your legs.

And then you realize that your belly shakes “like a bowl full of jelly.” Merry Christmas.

Image result for images of maxine

Categories: Aging Gracefully, Daily Prompt, Humor, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My Baby Wants to be an 18-Wheeler

baby-casita-2

Categories: Camping, Daily Prompt, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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