Our Lady of the Blue Highways

Our Lady of the Blue Highways
Portrait in oils by Jackie Poutasse

Monday, June 28, 2010

Just rambling

1. The hill I finally mastered after 3 attempts.
2. Monkey Face Rock
3. View from the top

I’m just going to do some rambling through this blog – mostly about me and my thoughts.

When I arrived in Chico, about 10:45 on a Friday nite, Carol had pizza waiting for me. Little was I to know that was the last I would see of “junk” food. I told her I was staying until I lost 20#.
She took me very seriously. The next morning, she picked up a copy of “Belly Fat Cure” and we all started on it. We’re not following it to a “T”, because it’s a lifestyle change – not a diet.

Basically, it restricts sugar to 15 grams (1 banana will do it!) a day and about 6 servings of “good” carbs a day, then throw in some protein. She started us off each day with oatmeal with chopped pecans, raisens, and frozen blueberries, with an egg stirred in at the end for protein. We’ve moved on to Cherrios and/or shredded wheat with the blueberries. I’ve also given up all sugar substitutes, also - If I really need something sweetened – a bit of Stevia will do it. (My oldest has been trying to get me to switch to Stevia for years!) (Raisens aren’t on the good list, but Carol says we need the iron) I also went through my "camp kitchen" pulled out everything with sugar or sugar substitutes and gave it to the food bank - 20# of it!!!

I’m loving it. I don’t get hungry between meals, but if I do – I get a few pecans or almonds and that satisfies the hunger.

Then we started the exercise. We are about 2 blocks from a big city park – it is beautiful – not manicured, but left natural with bike and horse trails, walking and running paths. They took me on a route that has become my morning routine. The route is like a long, narrow rectangle.
We measured the route with Carol’s bike. 1.3 miles and I did that every morning for nearly 2 weeks, then it became too easy, and I have increased it by either walking it twice, or by doubling or tripling the park path part – so it’s a little over 2.5 miles each day, now I have extended it by walking to the end of the park, and back – 4 miles. I stay on the same route because I’m usually up and out before anyone else so I walk alone – by staying on the route, Carol knows where to find me, if she needs to!

1.3 miles – my first bike ride since arriving, and I struggled. At one point there is a hill, I worked so hard to get up that hill! The downside was steep, but I managed it well enough. The next morning I walked the route in reverse – up the downside of the hill - then started looking for the part I struggled up the day before. Har-umph!!! It was such a slight rise in the path, I almost missed it!!!! What a wuss I am. It wasn’t a hill, It wasn’t a hillock, it was hardly noticible! Boy am I out of shape.

I continue to walk every morning. One day Carol said “let’s take a ride” So out came the bikes. This time, down the streets outside the park to the freeway (Understand, these are sleepy residential streets with trees, and beautiful yards to look at), then into the park, and picked up the paved road. When we arrived home, we had done 7 miles. 7 MILES- people! I couldn’t believe it.

I’ve been feeling so good – getting into shape, and getting healthy. My blood pressure has dropped from border-line high to low normal in 3 weeks. (yesterday was 106/74) I’ve also dropped nearly 18#. The first week I was here, I bought a couple more pair of scrub pants, but hadn’t tried to wear them until this weekend – I have to “un-shop” them. They are too big. How wonderful those 2 little words sound in my ears – Too Big!!!!

Saturday, Carol says “Let’s go for a ride” Well I was all ready to go the 7 miles again not to be.
She comes out in her bike shorts (padded) and fancy bike shirt with back pockets. She is concerned I’ll get rubbed raw. Well, a little insight. Carol’s little butt and little butt bike seat are suited to each other, and she needs the padded shorts. But…… I have a big butt and a big butt bike seat with lots of padding, so I’m fine – except for one thing, I need to adjust the nose of my seat up a little, cause I keep sliding off the front and having to scoot back up on the seat.

She took me out into the county. I had to conquer cattle guards, which were fun once I got over the fear of my bike throwing me. We rode along farm roads, in and out of trees and residential neighborhoods. She says there are 3 loops we’ll take. Now, she is a much faster, stronger rider than I am, and when I came out of the first loop, she was no where to be seen. I yelled her name, I even tried to call her on my cell – but I couldn’t get through. Finally, I just picked a road and started peddling, it was the correct way, and we met up at the end of it.

Then we retraced that part of the road, and she said – just go up the hill on the other side of the bridge. I’m peddling along, enjoying the breeze, and shade, and the murmer of the creek, thinking I had to turn right on the other side of the bridge - getting ready to turn, I looked up and there it was, straight ahead!

THE HILL! Up the hill? UP THE HILL??? I specifically ordered level and down hill for this ride!!! By the time I saw the hill, I didn’t have enough time to build up enough speed to make it – probably wouldn’t have anyway - it was a short hill, but it was steep!!!! I had to walk my bike partway. Anyway, we made it home – after a total of 11.6 miles – my 3rd bike ride, people!
Am I proud? You bet I am.

We’ve also gone walking several times in Upper Bidwell park – which is out in the county, but still a part of the city park. Upper Bidwell has a fishing lake, hiking and biking trails, a golf course (the only manicured part) and a planetarium. We started by walking around the lake – it’s quite a small lake stocked with catfish. All was fine til Carol cut from the main trail, to a narrow path through the grass - “Watch for snakes, “ she says. Great, could have gone all day without hearing that. When we got back to the car, I was still moving, so we started up one of the hills. Big Hill. We got up about 1/3, then walked back down. This walk was a spur of the moment decision, and I was wearing rubber garden clogs. First step downward, I slipped – kept my feet, but was very, very careful the rest of the way down.

It took two more tries, but I finally made it to the top of that hill.

If I’m ever going to get this posted, I need to do it now!
Until next time,
Bear Hugs

Monday, June 14, 2010

Point Lobo and Carmel Valley


1. Pt Lobo
2. Another beautiful view from Pt. Lobo
3. Where I sat while talking to Holly
4. Lone Cypress - 17 mile drive - Pebble Beach

I woke up at 8 a.m. refreshed and ready to go. Over night, I recharged my computer, phone, and cd player, so I am all set!

I check the mileage to Chico and it is less than 300 miles, so I’m happy, and I decided to wander around the area for the morning to touch base with different places I’ve been before. I met a lady walking her dog in the parking lot this a.m. – She commented upon seeing my license plates that I had come a long way, She was on her way to Laguna Seca for the race. She was a volunteer and in charge of the beer concession – what fun!!!

I headed back south to the Point Lobo Reserve, about 5 miles from here. This place is incredible. I took a trail along the shore, saw a 4 legged speed demon – a lizard skittering across the path ahead of me. The coast is very rugged and rocking along here. The Pacific is absolutely gorgeous. I can’t even describe the shade of blue it is.

I stopped to chat with a couple that were just as amazed as I was at the beauty of this place, and learned that they were from Blacksburg, Virginia! Small World ! We all wondered why the Atlantic doesn’t look this beautiful. Especially since the east coast of the Atlantic – Africa – is just as beautiful a blue as this, but without the rocks Africa’s coast is white sand beaches – at least the part I saw!!!

I then finally found a parking spot near the Cypress trail, (still in Point Lobo Reserve) and started walking. I could stay here all day – OMG is it beautiful. I could hear seals barking – they must have been over on those rocks. (at about this point, the batteries in my recorder went dead – so I’ll have to rely on my memory for the rest of the day) I found a particularly beautiful spot to sit – watching the waves crash on the rocks, and called Holly to share my excitement, and to tell her she and Jackie just had to come out here – and bring lots of batteries for their cameras. The cypress trees are twisted from the wind, and the dead trees are beautiful too. I guess I spent at least an hour on this short trail. It was hard to leave, but I needed to make Chico before bedtime. I had a couple more stops to make, though.

Mom and Dad lived in Carmel Valley some years ago. Dad spent a lot of time walking around Pt. Lobo, and Mom worked with a volunteer group that made Christmas Ornaments to support a small art museum. One of Dad’s favorite spots was overlooking the “Lone Cypress Tree” I thought it was in Pt. Lobo, but learned it was on the 17 mile drive. So, I headed there. It’s a 17 mile drive through Pebble Beach. Not all of it is on the beach – most of it is through hills on winding roads where the “Big Bucks” live. Beautiful homes – the ones you can see.

One day when Dad was visiting the Lone Cypress, he started talking with a young artist sketching the tree. Some weeks later, Dad received a call, inviting him to pick up a print of the pen and ink he had done of the tree. It’s a favorite of mine too. The decades of Pacific Storms have not been kind to the tree – it is about 200 years old, and has been re-shaped by the wind since the picture was done.

Upon finishing the 17 mile drive, I headed up Carmel Valley Road to look over the Folks old place. What a change. What was once bare acreage with a ranch style house on it is now a vineyard. You can hardly see the house for the trees around it, and there are other structures there now. I took some photos, then headed toward Salinas over the Las Loralles Grade. But, first something to eat. I stopped to get a croissant to eat with my ham and cheese – my olive rolls now getting stale.

It was now about 4:30 p.m., and I had 283 miles ahead of me.

Until Next Time,
Bear Hugs,

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hwy 1 Pacific Coast

1. The Mighty Pacific
2. Sea Elephants
3. Hearst Castle
4. Kayacs at the ready
5. Morro Bay

After leaving Solvang, I drove through miles and miles of vinyards. Then it changed to truck farm produce. Then back to orderly row upon row of grapevines.

I was passed at one point by a Ladybug – a red VW beetle with black spots painted on it – really cute.

At San Luis Obispo, I joined Hwy 1, and at first opportunity, headed for Morro Bay state park. This is really a nice park. It’s got a golf course, beaches, campground, marina, and restaurant – very heavily wooded. It’s just gorgeous. I mean, all these beautiful places. The wildflowers are so pretty (I have to find more adjectives) I woke up this morning in a hot tent, but here along the coast, it is breezy and cool.

I can see the big Morro Bay Rock from here, I think I’ll get closer. I found something I don’t see in Virginia Beach – a parking space right off the bay. I walked around the little village of Morro Bay – Interesting little place. Not very big, just comfortable to walk up and down the street. Breeze is still blowing. I’m headed back to Hwy 1, but not before I admit to buying another chunk of fudge – this time dark chocolate with coconut crème center. (Oops, do I have to admit to the bag of salt water taffy I got, too? )

There is a lot of kayaking here by the looks of all the rental signs. Unknown to me – the day before, Carol and Ken were kayaking in this very spot!!!

I pulled off at another beach to watch some guys doing what I learned later was Kite Boarding. Standing on a short surf board, being pulled along with a kite. One kite looked like it had broken loose, it was so far out, but by n’ by, I saw the surfer riding in-shore, until he up-ended.

Hearst Castle: I got here too late to take a tour. Well, I guess I have to save something for next time. I really wasn’t pushing it cause I know how expensive it is to tour Biltmore in NC – but I learned you can take a tour of Hearst Castle for as little as $20. But that’s OK, cause next weekend, when I am long gone to Chico, they are opening a winery on the grounds, and a wine tasting room, and all that good stuff…… Definitely next time! At least I got some post cards and could actually see the castle way up there on it’s mountain perch.

I stopped at an Elephant Seal viewing area. OMG they are huge. The females get to 1500#, and the males up to 5000#. They are fairly new to this area, or rather returned to this area and are highly protected. You can’t get down on the beach with them, but who’d want to???? The first group I stood above, I thought were dead and washed up on the beach, but upon watching for a few minutes, there was a twitch here, a wiggle there, and I realized they were just sleeping. One looked as though it’s head had been chewed off, leaving just a red stump (you know my eyesight is getting worse) But it was a male with his great red proboscis (Nose, people, nose!)

Oh-oh, it’s 5:30, and I’ve got to find a campground! I’m not even going to make it to Carmel today (another short 200 mile jaunt from Solvang) I drove along Hwy 1 north – passing a sign that warns of high surf – caution – another that said “floods during storms”, It’s hard to believe, but I can imagine the storms that would cause them.

Well, I kept climbing and climbing up this raggedy road, and while trying to steer and record, I nearly hit the mountainside – lucky it wasn’t the Ocean side. It’s at the point where the road is just above the surf, so all the vista turn-offs are on the mountain side. It is so beautiful!!!

This snaking, winding, up and down road – we’ve come about 650 feet from sea level – no – we were up to 740 something. It is hard to believe my sister-in-law, Carol – took a bike ride down hwy 1 last year – and saying “down” doesn’t make it easier – what goes up must come down. Up and down these hills, my God. I can’t imagine it. It, If I remember correctly, was a 100 mile ride. I cannot even imagine it.

Well, there were no spaces at the first campground I stopped at. It was a National campground, so with my “America the Beautiful” I could have stayed for half price - $11.00.

The second campground slipped by before I caught sight of the drive, and I was on a high curve, and in traffic – so I missed it, but it would have been great! Colorful tents on the ocean side, covering the “cliff” and hills – like mushrooms sprouting.

I couldn’t get back to it without travelling quite away to the next available turning possibility. The third campground, Limekiln, which is the one I had planned to stay at, was closed. Structures and roads unsafe. They must have had a slide or something. So, on I went - it was 6:50 and I hadn’t found a place to pitch my tent.

Must have been quite a few rockslides along here, I’m now down to 1 lane of traffic - for both directions. I’ve seen a lot of road construction – repairs along here. I guess it’s been a pretty rough winter.

I spotted the sun setting just above the horizon. I tried to get to a view point for a photo, but by the time I found a stopping place, it was below the water - it only took about 3 minutes!! Well, I’ll be back on the coast in Northern California later.

I stopped at another campground – Big Sur – I’d love to stay here – the smell of wood smoke, the river flowing nearby, but they want $50 for a tent site. They have some $35 sites, but they are all reserved. I decided to start looking for a motel, cause it was too dark to pitch a tent without difficulty.

I finally found a Motel 6 in Monterrey – It was $70 – only $20 more than a tent site – and had internet service – so I posted my San Bernardino post, and had a good nights sleep.

Until next time,
Bear Hugs

Saturday, June 5, 2010


I uploaded the Solvang Post this morning.

The important news is: This morning Carol's e-mail was hacked - at about 6 this a.m., all her e-mails were diverted, and her entire address book disappeared.

In addition, the hacker accessed her facebook account, and her friend's list is gone.

When I checked my facebook, my friends list is also gone, so not only did the hacker mine her e-mail addresses, but friends list - which may mean that the same thing happened to the lists of all those from Carols FB, then all mine - then it might go on to connect with all those I had on my list, and took their information, too???

So, if you are on my "friends" list - check your facebook page and see if your list is intact.


Solvang, California

1. Farmer's Market Solvang
2. Farmer's Market - Carrots and Onions
3. Farmer's market - Flowers
4. Danish Style Buildings
5. Danish style buildings

I left San Bernardino about 10 a.m. to avoid rush hour traffic, headed to Solang, CA about 200 miles away.

I followed directions given by an Uncle of Margie’s – took Hwy 126 off Hwy 5, headed for Ventura, CA. I saw signs for avocados for 25c each. Wow!!! Where? Then I saw a sign for avocados and tomatoes at 10c each. Where? Where? I never did spot a stand selling them.

I drove through orchards – Oranges – Valencia I assume, since I drove through Valencia, Ca along the way.

I decided to take a short cut (read: detour) to Ojai – which added an hour or so to my trip, but was a beautiful drive through winding mountainous roads. I ended up nearly in Ventura, so the short-cut was just a very enjoyable interlude.

I travelled through Santa Barbara and finally arrived at Solvang, at about 4:30 p.m. – so much for a short, 200 mile ride.

First thing I did was locate the visitor’s center, a bathroom, and a campground. I called a campground recommended by the visitor’s center, and made reservations, and started exploring.

Solvang was settled in 1911 by a group of Danish educators, and it has retained it’s Danish heritage, in food, architecture and even souveniers. It boasts 5 windmills, 5 Danish bakeries, numerous parks, and a couple of museums.

The small town has about 150 shops, and I swear every 3rd one is a wine tasting establishment. We are in the midst of California vineyards. Since I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, the next thing I did was visit the Farmer’s Market, which was only held on Wednesday, fortunately, that was the day I arrived there. I browsed all the beautiful fruits and vegetables. This was
Strictly a food market. Fresh brown eggs, shiny red tomatoes, sweet smelling corn, home-made bread, Oh, pardon me – they also had fresh cut flowers for sale. Oh, gosh, look at those strawberries and cherries. I ended up buying some homemade olive bread rolls, some garlickly cheese curds (Oh, yum, I don’t have to wait til I get to Wisconsin to taste fresh cheese curds!!!)

I supplemented my purchase with some sliced ham and provolone, and a small bottle (2 glasses worth) of wine! I wandered along until I located a bakery, and had a wonderful Danish pastry, and a coke (bad habits die hard)

I stopped in a quilt shop – they only sold quilts – no fabric – so I asked about a quilt fabric store. The lady said it was quite away from here – nearly 3 miles! I had to bite my tongue to keep from giggling. 3 miles – far away?????

I found one quilt / yarn shop that carried Nordic table runners by the yard. Really interesting, but I have no need for table runners now.

It was getting close to 6 p.m., and time to set up the tent. I found the campground, and a space and set it up. Once finished, I sat down to dinner of Olive rolls, ham, cheese and wine. Not bad!!!! It was quite pleasant weather-wise. With the sun going down, it became quite cool, and I crawled into bed about 8:30. About 3:30, I woke up – cold. Had to unfold another blanket (I’ve gotten smart – I bring all the bedding into the tent so I don’t have to dig in the car for it in the middle of the nite.) By then, I was wide awake, so started typing up my San Bernardino post.

I finally settled down about 4:30 and went back to sleep. I don’t feel a bit alone here – I feel like I’m sleeping on the shoulder of the freeway though, which is very close by. When I fell asleep, I had a really weird dream – not a nightmare – more like Keystone Kops. I wonder out of which depths of my mind this came from????!!!

I awoke feeling like I’d was in an oven. I had chosen a shady spot the evening before, but it was in full morning sun now. Hot, Hot, Hot. I got up, had a breakfast of what else – olive rolls, ham and provolone. Then I dismantled the tent. It seemed to take forever. I thought putting it up in breezy conditions was a pain, taking it down – without leaving in a couple of stakes is also a pain. But, finally finished, I packed up Madame and headed back to Solvang.

But, first a visit the that quilt store. A really nice store, but nothing unique or calling my name, except---- the bathroom! It was so cool!!!! It had three walls of murals, and a motion activated frog who croaked at me as I placed myself on the throne. On the back of the door was a poem about hidden objects in the murals. I found the dragonfly, certain flowers, butterflys, catapillars, but not the row of ants, and a few other things, too.

I had visited Solvang with my parents about 35 years ago. I remembered it as being inland – but it’s quite close to the coast. I realized later that they must have driven down Hwy 101 when we were there, way, back then.

Hey, check this out!!! A fabric store with 99c fabric! Buttons for pennies, trim for 3 yds for 99c. Looks intriguing. Unfortunately, it’s only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and today is Thursday. There is a T-shirt in the window that says: “My husband lets me have as much fabric as I can hide!!”

I wandered in and out of shops, picked up some more pastries, a slice of dark chocolate, raspberry fudge (for research, you understand) Stopped in a shop full of Danish lace curtains and linens. (Caught my eye cause I have a Royal Danish linen tablecloth, from an Aunt – who’s friend smuggled it out of Denmark decades ago. At the time, this particular design was not allowed to be removed from Denmark)

I must have pushed a wrong button on the recorder cause all I can hear is my footsteps and crinkling and crunching of my bag as it swings against me.

I wanted to see the Elverhoj museum which showcases an 18th century Danish farm, but it won’t open for over an hour, and I have to get on the road. I’m anxious to see the Pacific.
That’s OK – I have to save something for my next visit.

I’m looking at a tablelamp about 2’ tall. It has a shade covered with peacock feathers, the stand of the lamp is a manikin shape with a skirt of peacock feathers. Cool! Not that I’d ever own one, but cool, anyway. I like peacock feathers. Especially when softly brushed along my bare *****Oh never-mind. We won’t go there!!! Not now, anyway – if ever!!!

I left Solvang about 12:30, stopped to get gas and ice, and headed up Hwy 101 toward San Luis Obispo.

Until Next Time,
Bear Hugs

*****Foot, Fool. My bare foot! What did you think I meant?