redefining wanderlust

a life blog by Bekka

Posts for ontheroad1014

VIP Access to Petroglyphs

We seriously had VIP Access to some of the best petroglyphs in Utah, along with the amazing views of Natural Bridges.

I have a friend who is a park ranger. She is still at the start of her career, so she will jump from site to site until finding a permanent position. But the year Dan and I were driving around the country, she was working at Natural Bridges National Monument. I’d never heard of the place, but as I love nature and free lodging, we decided to spend a few nights with her.

Hiking is fun, but hiking with a park ranger is a flipping bad ass adventure! Without my friend, we would have hiked around the park following designated trails and such, seeing the sites but never going deep in the canyons. With my friend, we were opened up to a whole new world of Ancient Puebloans architecture and petroglyphs. My imagination swirls drawing up scenes of the Puebloan people carving their stories into the stone, messages for their community. We picked up two small books on deciphering the symbols, that I have tucked away somewhere, so well hidden I’m not sure where they are located. Perhaps I should have made a petroglyph map to them on my bedroom wall. (oh, the jokes!)

We seriously had VIP Access to some of the best petroglyphs in Utah, along with the amazing views of Natural Bridges. I’d love to return and explore more, this time in better shape. When we went I was way less fit than I am now. When I bemoaned I was in pain, my park ranger friend asked what I had hurt very concerned, I informed her oh nothing – I’m just severely out of shape.  This trip also inspired Dan and I’s New Year Morning hike tradition. We were so inspired by the beautiful scenery and burn from the hike, we really felt alive.  We feel the rush is the best way to start a new year.

Here are the photos from our awesome VIP hike.

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The above image is the view from the ground of where the large collection of petroglyphs are hidden.

 

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Road Trip Adventure: Santa Fe My Old Friend

I love Santa Fe and I long for it in the golden hours of the morning, Santa Fe my old friend.

When I woke up in Santa Fe, I gazed out our hotel window on the desert scenery and watched the sun heat the earth. It was a soft blue morning and I could feel Santa Fe’s unique peaceful energy. From the moment we arrived the people were sassy but kind, everyone had an approachable vibe about them.  One of my favorite moments was when the cashier at Whole Foods remarked that the residents of Santa Fe are all a bit kookie. A city filled with kookie people like myself. I daydream about returning for a sabbatical spending my days writing, painting, going to yoga and enjoying the delicious food.

Santa Fe was one of the most delicious cities I’ve ever been too. I can’t recall the specifics of the amazing meals we had, but I was never disappointed in any dish. Each restaurant we went to offered a red sauce or green sauce that would make an atheist believe in a god.

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We spent one of our afternoons exploring every inch of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. At the gift shop I picked up Joan of Arc and St. Christopher medallions, discussing road trips and desert adventures with the nuns. One sister shared how in her youth, she and a friend traveled along the same journey she had read about in one of her favorite books. Her tale seemed to have been before she was called to the cloth and that only increased the intrigue. Seriously, one of my favorite things about traveling is meeting new people and hearing their stories. I hope when I leave this earth, I’m not just filled with my own story but bits of pieces of hundreds of stories.

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My only disappointment from our entire time in Santa Fe was that I never had the opportunity to check out the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts. Every time we tried to go, the doors were closed, bad timing. I did, however, take as many pictures from the outside as possible, yet it doesn’t heal the pain from missing out on the exhibition they had at the time.

Driving through Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, and parts of Colorado helped to open my eyes to the circumstances that Native Americans have been put into as a consequence of historic decisions.

As I’m sharing about Santa Fe and with Thanksgiving this week, I can’t help but remark on the double edge sword this national holiday has. After hundreds of years, this holiday has been watered down to represent family and gratitude. In grade school, it’s an opportunity to introduce the history of Native Americans to young children. It’s to honor the coming together of the pilgrims and indigenous people, but we all know life wasn’t all kumbaya for the Native Americans afterward. So with that said, hindsight twenty-twenty of course the English shouldn’t have come over to America raping, pillaging, and stealing land from Native Americans. Yet, at that time of the world – unfortunately, that’s how things functioned. Countries and tribes either fought with each other or traded with each other, it seems now a days the only reason we aren’t all fighting is because we’re trading, but I digress. This Thanksgiving as we do surround ourselves with our loved ones and reflect on the blessings in our lives, let us acknowledge that although we can’t change the past, we should try to rectify the sins of our forefathers by not committing the same arrogant atrocities again.

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New Orleans : An Unresolved Adventure

New Orleans haunts me. My experience there was good, yet I feel my time there is unresolved. I left a piece of me in New Orleans, and I want to return in order to explore and understand the city better. New Orleans is a living breathing city, it possesses a strong spirit. I came to a deeper understanding of my spiritual self while on the road, and in New Orleans it was challenged. The empath in me was beaten down and I’d like to return stronger. I believe New Orleans is one of the darkest and most vibrant cities I’ve ever been too.  New Orleans (not Nashville) is music city, rhythm and melody flows out of the people there, from the man sweeping up trash on the sidewalk to a brass band in the middle of Jackson square. Jazz music rides on the wind in the French quarter and there is someone humming not too far from you.

Sadly, I wasn’t very good at taking pictures while in New Orleans – probably another reason  why I’d like to return,  but we did all the touristy things! We went on an alligator tour and fell in love with the scaly cuddly reptiles. Ate our way through the French Quarter ordering a little something here and there. Explored the St. Louis Cathedral, where I prayed and through some holy water on Dan. Stopped by Café Du Monde to enjoy fresh beignets and coffee before taking a long nap at our hotel the Maison Dupuy. At Dan’s request, we went on a ghost tour, Lord Chaz’s ghost and vampire tour to be exact and it pierced my soul. The stories we heard left me mourning for the sad souls of the past, and when Dan talked in his sleep that night – I ignored him and pretended I was asleep. On the bright side, our tour guide Alexander was amazing and we enjoyed talking with him post tour. My favorite part of traveling is meeting new people, so getting to know him and his Native American history was one of my favorite aspects of visiting New Orleans.  The next day we went to the St. Louis Cemetery (1) in the morning and had lunch in the Garden District so I could see Anne Rice’s old home. I’ve been a fan of Anne Rice since I was in the first grade and fascinated with vampires until Twilight killed the allure.

In our last few hours in New Orleans, we roamed around Frenchman street waiting for The Spotted Cat to open. We’d been told that was the place to go for good music and we didn’t want to miss out on it. We had to leave New Orleans for Houston by 6pm, and the bars on Frenchman didn’t open til 5pm.  I enjoyed a delicious bowl of jambalaya at The Praline Connection as an early dinner and then we killed some time at the Louisiana Music Factory record store.  I was so thankful that we had waited till The Spotted Cat opened because the moving and powerful voice of Sarah McCoy washed away the sadness within me, and her band The Oopsie Daisies filled me up with the bright light that comes from unadulterated passion and art.

We drove away from New Orleans on an incredible high, headed for Texas where I finally felt a real peace within me. Texas is where the seed to who I am now was planted, but New Orleans was where the soil was tilled.

Most of my photos are from the alligator swamp tour.

I think I was too captivated by the city to remember to look like a tourist.  

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New Orleans Jackson Square

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Anne Rice House New Orleans

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A Stop in Spectre

The movie Big Fish is my favorite Tim Burton movie, Edward Scissorhands being my second favorite, and when I was first planning our road trip across the south I had come across the fact you could visit Spectre. The magical town in Big Fish where Ewan McGregors’s character Edward Bloom stops in for just awhile, until he remembers the life he needs to return to.    I had forgotten about Spectre until we were driving through Alabama on our way to New Orleans and Dan was looking at Roadtrippers. It’s a fantastic app for those that love detours. It tells you anything from points of interests to places to eat along your route, if you’re planning a road trip you must download the app.

Anyways,  Dan had said there is this place called Spectre we could visit, and I lit up! I started to tell him all the things I had learned about the place beforehand and that we had to ask a little old lady for the passcode to get through the gate.  He was up for the adventure and off we went to explore Spectre. It’s a solid 15 mins from the major highway and very secluded. We had no idea what to expect and after crossing over some train tracks we were in this little area with a few houses and a gate that clearly separated us from Spectre. Since the direction on Roadtrippers also confirmed the need to talk to a little old lady, we searched for one and found a woman who was muttering to her dog and picking up her mail. I walked up to her kindly and said that there is a rumor that she was the one who had a code to see Spectre. She asked me, “what?” and I explained to her what the app said and she confirmed she could give us the code. She told us the town was really run down since it’s just a movie set, and that they had to demolish a few buildings. That the church was still standing, but mostly everything else was sad looking. We didn’t care, we wanted to see Spectre.

After a friendly chat, we got the code and followed the one dirt road to Spectre. As we followed the road for a sign of the old set, we saw other trucks and people there fishing and enjoying a beautiful sunny day. Spectre is in the center of this private peninsula and once we spotted the church steeple,  Dan and I pulled over and got out to walk around the dilapidated set. We didn’t go inside any of the building as there was a lot of overgrown plants and honestly, I was chicken, afraid of getting hurt. But still I was just thrilled to say I had made a stop in Spectre.  I went to YouTube to find a clip of Spectre in all it’s glory and saw a few recent vlogs of people visiting the set, it seems like it has been cleaned up a little since we went 2 years ago. Makes me wonder if you still have to talk to a little old lady to get the code.

Spectre Big Fish Road Trip

Spectre Big Fish Road Trip

more photos after the jump…

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GA: A Half Day in Athens

Athens, GA – October 19, 2014 / DAY 20 of #ontheroad1014

Our road trip had already been steeped in music history, having gone to the Grand Ol Opry in Nashville and Muscle Shoals in Alabama, so it’s to be expected we hit up Athens, GA as well (or at least that’s what Bowerbird felt). The day we visited Athens, we grabbed an awesome breakfast in Atlanta at the Rosebud café. When we picked the restaurant it was unbeknownst to us that the owner, Ron Eyester, was a contestant on Top Chef Season 12.  After our yummy breakfast I dropped off a few of my postcards, that invited people to tweet me while we were on the road, by the door and Ron was one of the awesome people that said hello!

Rosebud Breakfas

From Rosebud we drove over to the Martin Luther King Memorial Center also in Atlanta, it was extremely important to me that we explore the history of the civil rights movement while on our trip. We were going to go to Montgomery, AL before we went to New Orleans but my Atlanta friends told me it was better to experience the Martin Luther King historical sites instead. I’m glad they had suggested the memorial center; I was filled with sadness, joy and humility as I walked through the center seeing relics of segregation and reading Dr. Kings story. Next to the memorial center is Ebenezer Church, the spiritual home to Martin Luther King where he was baptized and was a minister till his passing. Inside the church, they play his speeches and sermons, Bowerbird and I sat for a while in a pew listening to his powerful words until it was time for us to head to Athens.

MLK Memorial Center

Now, I was completely oblivious to the Athens roots many of my favorite musical acts had come from, like the B-52’s, REM, Of Montreal, and Drive by Truckers. But Bowerbird knew about that Athens’ sound and wanted to see the city that gave birth to it. I made my own Athens artists playlist that’s below and there is definitely a common note. Seeing Drive by Truckers or Lucero while in the South was another goal of the trip, but their tour schedule never synched with our road scheduled. To add insult to injury, when we drove into Downtown Athens and found a parking spot, it happened to be right across a music venue advertising Drive by Truckers would be playing October 31.

Georgia Theater Athens GA

Athens is about an hour and a half away from Atlanta. We arrived just around the same time our breakfast was wearing off, 1:00 pm. We didn’t know where we were going, only that we wanted to explore, so we just started walking in a general direction down one of the streets. In our aimless wandering I spotted a sign saying “This Is It”, since at the moment I needed a restroom in my life, I took the sign as a sign that this was the place to go. Eventually, we came across an interesting area on Washington, where Low Yo Yo Record store and Clocked diner are located. First we grabbed a quick snack at Clocked, a colorful retro dinner that looks like it could be the post-party destination for a Love Shack rager. Then it was on to crate digging at Low Yo Yo, Bowerbird found a lot of records he wanted to purchase but because we were on a road trip we were afraid of buying vinyl and then leaving it in the car. The potential damage of goods just left in the car to be warmed up by the sun prevented us from many wine and vinyl purchases.

Clocked Cafe and Diner

Bowerbird and the shop owner geeked out over a few obscure bands. I picked up a silly bookmarker at the worlds tiniest art gallery located in a closet at the back of the store. We bought a few CDs as we didn’t bring any of our own music on the road; a bad idea for one’s data plan. And after about an hour and a half worth of record window shopping, we continued on to wander the streets of downtown Athens.

Low Yo Yo records in Athens, GA

We hopped into a few other vintage and record stores before settling into a pub/coffee shop that was located across from the college. There were a lot of students in there and since I had my backpack on me, I felt like blending in with the locals and busting out my laptop. While on the road I had every intention of blogging on a regular basis, little did I know that isn’t exactly easy when one’s sleeping arrangements doesn’t have wifi or my only downtime is right before bed at midnight (brain dead). So with our bit of downtime, I ordered a hard cider and wrote a blog post, TN:  Johnny Cash & Nashville.

Shopping in Athens GA

We headed back to Atlanta around 6:00pm and had every intention of grabbing dinner in the city, until an accident caused the highway to shut down and our hour and half drive turned into three and half hours. I felt terrible as our ETA kept changing and we had friends waiting for us in Atlanta. We got to our friends place around 10:00pm where they fed us Trader Joes quinoa stir-fry, we watched The Walking Dead, and went to bed.

If you’re visiting Atlanta, I highly suggest taking a day trip to Athens. It has a small town feel but a lot of unique shops and character. If it wasn’t a Sunday, Bowerbird and I might have tried to find a college rager to crash.

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NO MORE VLOGS for #ONTHEROAD1014

When Bowerbird and I headed out for our month long road trip across the country in October of 2014, I had purchased a new camera and was all excited to start vlogging. Vlogging is a form of blogging, but using video. Basically, home movies for the whole internet to view. Unfortunately, after our first week on the road, I thought the camera was broken, although it wasn’t, and only recorded clips on my cell phone. But that’s the thing, they are just clips – there isn’t enough material for me to create actual vlogs/ video diaries of the day. Sadly, I will have to keep the odds and ends of footage just to myself and family. Since I really don’t know how else to share it, if you have any idea’s feel free to comment below.

But like all failures, it opened the door to a great learning experience. Vlogging for the first time, while going on one of the biggest adventures of my life, helped me to build up the courage to vlog more. Over this last year, I’ve filmed and edited 25 vlogs. I’ve become comfortable walking around and talking into a little handheld camera, it might seem strange, but then this is my life and vlogging is fun for me!

I love to share my life, my story, and selfishly (as long as the internet doesn’t crash) in the future I get to look back at all this documentation of my life and just smile! Dementia isn’t an urban legend, especially in my family, so how wonderful would it be to have a collection of stories for my brain to return too. Reference points to jog a lost thought back into place.

Here is the playlist of videos I’ve made thus far covering the October 2014 road trip. Don’t worry though! Lots of blog posts are still coming, I have tons of photos. I’m a total dork, because I only thought the video recording portion of my camera was broken.

 

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SC : Charleston Pit Stop at Magnolia Gardens

October 17, 2014 | Day 16 of #ontheroad1014

With belly’s aching from the delicious meal we indulged in the night before at Husk, we rolled out of our Charleston hotel bed around 10 am and leisurely headed straight for Atlanta. We were planning on getting to Atlanta by 5:00pm, but as we drove down the freeway, I spotted a sign for Magnolia Gardens. A running joke with Bowerbird is the fact that if he hadn’t come along, my mother and I would end up in a Grey Gardens situation. The fact this historic landmark of Magnolia Gardens had ‘gardens’ in the name, made me chuckle and want to visit this place. So with no previous knowledge of this plantation, we just followed signs leading to the home.

Magnolia Gardens Road Trip

A ticket into the property included access to their petting zoo and a tour of the home. An authentic Southern plantation, whose original building was burned down during the Civil War, was steeped with a fascinating history. The tour guides were very descriptive in explaining the family from their financial history to romantic entanglements. Known for its stunning gardens on the property, the owner John Drayton planted the romantic gardens in order to please his wife. What a romantic! Also, I’m not sure if it was John Drayton’s sisters or daughters, but two women associated with the property were prolific abolitionists.

Magnolia Gardens Road Trip

Although we were visiting the plantation during October, the grounds felt like a forever Spring. Beautiful flowers were in bloom, Spanish moss hung down from strong tall trees, and the property was slow enough that at times it felt like Bowerbird and I were the only ones there. Bowerbird and I spent a lot of time in the petting zoo, playing with deer, petting pigs, and chatting up the onsite zoologist who explained how this petting zoo was a rescue. Many of the animals onsite were wounded at one point and are now unable to go back into the wild. We had planned on Magnolia Gardens only being a quick stop but ended up exploring the grounds and petting zoo till closing time. There was a wedding being set up for the evening and can’t lie, I’m jealous of those that have Magnolia Gardens as a wedding venue option. We left Charleston around 5:00pm, picked up coffee at a local place, and then OFFICIALLY headed out to Atlanta; arriving in the city around 10:00pm. It was really cool too because the local college radio station was playing a band Bowerbird had recently opened for back in LA, Xeno & Oaklander.

Magnolia Gardens Road Trip

I miss the cute animals and the beautiful grounds of Magnolia Gardens, and am so thankful to be introduced to this gem without even looking.

Magnolia Gardens Road Trip

more photos after the jump

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GA : Little 5 Points Halloween Parade

little 5 points parade

October 18, 2014 | Day 17  – #ontheroad1014

One of the fun things about traveling during October is seeing all the different Halloween festivities. Last year, we got to see how Halloween was celebrated across the country from Kentucky to Lousiana. Luckily, when we were in Atlanta we got to experience their annual Little 5 Points Halloween parade. It’s a pretty big deal for that part of town, it seems like everyone dresses up and goes out to see it. A middle school friend of mine, who now lives in Los Angeles, at the time lived in Atlanta and turned us on to the event.

Earlier in the afternoon we had parked our car near an Urban Outfitters to explore the cool hipster shops nearby. We discovered the gnarliest antique shop, it seriously deserves its own post. But anyways, where we were was only a thirty-minute walk to the parade and I knew it would be foolish to try and find parking closer. We weren’t the only ones walking to the parade either,  the streets were filled with people! A mixture of characters in personality and costume, most of the time we were walking behind a “Robin Sparkles“.  When we arrived at the parade’s main street, there was no doubt we were in the right place,  people were sitting on top of buildings and holding themselves up on street signs. Every inch of sidewalk was taken up by a spectator.

Thankfully, we had a local to meet up with because I think I would have been insanely overwhelmed if I was on my own. We met her and her friends up on a hill for a great view of crazy floats. Trucks with trailers were decked out with riders in DIY costumes. My friend even gave me the lowdown on different floats, the small business that were behind it or who it was in memory of. You could really tell this was an event for a fun thriving community. As tomorrow is Halloween I figured this would be the perfect time to share my photos from the parade.

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NC : Carolina Cotton Detour

Carolina Cotton Detour Road Trip

On our way to Husk, Google Maps directed us to a very out of the way detour that saved us hours on drive time. Apparently there was a terrible accident that backed up the highway for miles and miles. This detour was a complete blessing, I loved being off the interstate and driving through cotton fields. They were everywhere, right up to the road. As this was our adventure of a lifetime and the cotton just called out to me; I told Bowerbird to pull over. It was time to pick some cotton. I felt like a child stealing a cookie from a school bake sale. I pictured a man with a shotgun coming out from the field yelling at me to get off his land. So I quickly pulled a piece of cotton that was practically falling off the boll. Soft and white, apart from the seeds inside, my fresh piece of cotton was exactly like the little balls I’d buy at the drug store.

carolina cotton detour

Carolina Cotton Detour

Carolina Cotton Detour

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VA : Red Dot Richmond

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Andrew Hem’s Mural

OCTOBER 16, 2014 | DAY 15 of #ONTHEROAD1014

In the gallery world when a piece of artwork is sold it is marked with a red dot. Knowing I would be visiting some major murals in Richmond, I had to bring a red dot with me! Our time in Richmond was short due to the reservation at Husk that night, a 6-hour drive from Richmond, VA to Charleston, SC. So Bowerbird and I woke up early, showered, grabbed a cup of coffee from a vending machine in our couch surfer’s apartment building and went mural hunting. Luckily, a handful of the murals from the Richmond Mural Project curated by Art Whino were right around the apartment. So we didn’t even have to move our car to find murals. We walked the streets of Richmond, putting the address of the ROA’s turtle tower in my gps as our initial destination. On the way to ROA we found the Angry Woebots mural. And the rest of the mural hunting was very similar, just stumbling on them while walking down this street and the next. It was really fun just discovering the murals. I was super excited to find Andrew Hem’s mural!

Time was ticking and our stomachs were grumbling. So after about an hour of searching for murals we looked on Yelp for a breakfast spot next to my bank. I had to finally get a cashiers check for the speeding ticket I received back in Colorado. We found a delicious spot in the downtown/business area of Richmond and fortunately a mail person was right in front of the building! I didn’t even have to look for a mailbox to send out the speeding ticket. I really appreciate the little things that make life magical.

Here are the murals I red dotted in Richmond, Virginia.

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Pixel Pancho Mural

Pixel Pancho Richamon VA
Pixel Pancho Mural

Roa Turtles Richamond VA
ROA Mural

Angry Woebots Richmond VA
Angry Woebots Mural

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I’m not sure who this is…but i love the mural! 

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