Christmas in Albuquerque

I have a daughter, Janet, with whom I’ve been mostly out of touch for the last five or six years. It is a long and painful story, which is now in the past and I feel as though a huge weight has been lifted. Feelings of guilt and inadequacy have plagued me (and her too, it turns out), and this holiday season, we made our amends and spent some time together. It was intense, emotional, and very special, to say the least. The best part of it all, is that I saw my six year old grandson, Shane, who I had only met once.

Janet lives in Albuquerque, so it was fun to travel around a new city, take Shane to some parks and museums, and do a little roadtripping on the way there and back, while I was at it.

Shane’s favorite place by far was the American International Rattlesnake Museum. It wasn’t his first time there either. Apparently it’s a popular spot among the six year old boys… though, I must say, less so with the 60 year old women…eek! I also took him to the Explora! Science Center and Children’s Museum, which was much more my speed.

Probably the highlight of our trip was riding the Galaxi Roller Coaster at Cliff’s Amusement Park. I’ve never been so scared in all my life, but seeing Shane’s excitement made it all worth it.

Janet is a historian, so found a babysitter one day for Shane and took me to some of her favorite sites, including the Pueblo Cultural Center and the Turquoise Museum (which I LOVED), and had lunch at a nearby reservation where she’s got a few friends.

It all went by so fast, like a dream. There were certain moments, like when Janet and I stayed up late talking over a cup of tea, one single woman to the other, where I literally had to pinch myself. We’ve all made mistakes in the past, and this Christmas we each gave each other the gift of forgiveness and family.

I wish the same to all of you and a wonderful holiday season,
Martha
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Next stop: Vermont and Maine Fall Foliage!

I know I said the Massachusetts fall foliage was the best of the best, but that’s because I hadn’t been thinking about Vermont’s rich, colorful, fall landscape. Think of it as a lightshow as you zoom down the highway and see a blur of colors surrounding you. One great way to see the length of the state is to take State Road 100, from Wilmington to Troy, scenic all the way. Side roads will lead you to Mt. Mansfield (you can hike or take the gondola), to Lake Champlain (gorgeous!), and Green Mountain National Forest. You can take the vintage railroad between White River Junction and Norwich (weekends only) for great views of the White Mountain foothills.

Head back over to the coast for Maine’s plush foliage scene. Peak time is mid-October. The rugged coastline makes for different scenery from the rest of the northeast, and the richly forested areas just scream for attention with their bold reds, oranges, and yellows. Check out Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park and Bradbury Mountains State Park (keep your eyes peeled for hawks), both north of Portland. (Make sure you stop at the L.L. Bean Flagship Shore Freeport—open 24 hours a day!) Go inland a bit to find the Sebago Lake region—climb Douglas Mountain to see the ocean in one direction and the White Mountains in the other. Southern Maine offers boat excursions from Bath, some to Casco Bay and some to Kennebec River. A ferry service also runs to the islands in Casco Bay. Camden is a perfect place to stop, for dinner or for lodging, and also offers gorgeous ocean and mountain views, all surrounded by to-die-for foliage. Don’t forget Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island, in addition to the quaint and historic town of Bar Harbor.

Oh, and one more thing: whenever you’re in Vermont, make sure you stop by the Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory in Waterbury. It truly is the greatest place on earth.

Happy Fall!


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Fall Foliage in New York City, (part 2)

Another (see my post on New York Fall Foliage) great way to appreciate the changing colors of New York City is by going as high up as possible in one of New York’s grand skyscrapers. From there you can see the parks, the rivers, and the vibrant colors of NYC’s people and changing landscape. Here are a few of the biggies:

A few more pretty places to go are Washington Square Park, walk up and down Fifth Avenue, or take the Circle Line Sightseeing Cruise – a great way to take in the whole city!
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Returning to Zion

Howdy, peeps! Hows it hangin? How are the bones?

I’m broadcasting to you from (a little too) sunny Bryce Canyon National Park. Known as one of the most beautiful places on earth (especially now that I’m a part of its scenery –I jest!), I am GLAD that I went out of my way to get here. because really, what does “out of one’s way” really mean? its not like I was actually going anywhere to begin with.

Seriously though, I spent another day in Salt Lake City and then went to Zion National Park and after a few days there, I didn’t think it’d be possible to be in awe again. I’ve been around, y’know? I’ve seen rock formations in my day. But, man, there are rock formations, and then there are ROCK FORMATIONS. (And Zion National Park had the latter, obviously.) I went on the most fantastic three day hike, probably of my life. I met some cool people along the way, which was good b/c after one stupid snapshot, the batteries in my camera died and I realized I had forgotten more, so these guys will (hopefully) be emailing me some shots of me in front of an arch, you know to prove that I was there. I think they also got me canyoneering (I met them as part of an organized climb).

So from there I went to Bryce Canyon National Park and I’ve actually barely been in yet. Went for a day hike as soon as I got here and then went to “town” to get batteries, Dr. Pepper, rations, and check my email. But tomorrow I’m heading back in to get a better look around. I don’t wantto put to much pressure on this experience, but I think this may end up being the highlight of my journey. I’ve been feeling a little zany lately, lack of sleep, lack of food, but thinking of what I saw today subdues me a little, grounds me a bit, puts me in place, and makes me realize how small I am in this magnificent world—yeah, it does all those things.

Though that does bring me to my next point: I’m getting tired, bro. When I headed out for this adventure, I had the strength of 10 lions and the persistence of 10 mules. now I’m at like 6 and 5, respectively. At what point do I go home? Ahh, home, such a sweet word, packed with memories and a thick mattress…

Well, I still want to get to…where? I don’t even remember! I had a list as long as my leg of places I wanted to visit. And by now I’ve probably only hit mid-calf (starting from my toes and working my way up). Well, my new goal is to hit my knee—see what I mean about being zany? I have no idea what I’m talking about anymore.
Before I go, I just thought I’d wiki Zion National Park – did you know that it’s been inhabited by humans for 8,000 years? Did you know that some of the rock formations date back 13 million years? Did you know that Zion is a Hebrew word referring to a place of safety and peace? wow there are fantastic pictures here—those guys better follow through and send some to me…


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Elmira, I Think I’ll Stay For A While

The title says it all. Its really nice here. Well most people would find it tough, but there’s something about sticking around the city where Mark Twain wrote most of his books. Something else. The Chemung River flows down the center and provides a nice walk. I feel rested and calm here after my night in a hotel room. I think I’ll check out some of the historical sites here. Maybe even sit in Mark Twain’s office. My travel planner insists its a great tourist site! Will write more later.
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The Roscoe Diner

The Roscoe diner is a traveler’s paradise. It has Greek specialties and a great pot of coffee. I’ve been here all through the night and now its ten in the morning and I think its time to go. I got a hitch out of Ellenville with an old man in a pick up truck heading west on 17. He was a skinny man with gray hair who must of smoked about 8 cigarettes in an hour’s time. He dropped me off here. Its been fun here, eating and relaxing. I’ve seen old me chatting for a few hours and young teenagers obviously out without their parents’ knowledge. The flow of life continues on at Roscoe. Its a small town, a transient place where truckers stop and simple people live. Roscoe is at the foot of the Catskills in Sullivan county and its those mountains I want to head to next. I’m ready to check my trip planner to see the best spots for hiking and viewing the world out here. I am ready, but I’m not sure my body is. Oh well maybe I’ll take a snooze somewhere along the way ore just order another coffee before I leave.


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Traveling the Crags

There is a hike on the Mohonk Preserve that I used to be scared to do when I was younger. The Crags are series of of whitish-gray limestone rocks jutting out in all directions, running the length of Mohonk Lake. I used to think it was the hardest hike in the world, but today even after my 9 or 10 mile hike from New Paltz passed the Adair winery and up the slopes of Mohonk, the Crags were a bitter sweet experience. I guess my imagination as a child has given way to an adult perception.

I’m sitting writing this in the hotel lobby of the Mohonk Mountain House, a structure built around a century previous that offers luxurous rooms to the wealthy. Mohonk is a beautiful preserve, with horse back riding and hiking and boating on the beautiful mountain lake. The Shawangunks or rather they are known simply in these parts as The Gunks are home to many mountain top lakes, all are beautiful and serene.

Up here I feel at peace and at home. Its a sort of inner feeling where you know there can be no harm at the end of the journey, because the journey is inside. Boy am I tired, and I need to get some sleep. Soon I’ll be traveling on.