Circus Trip 2018: Historic Toilet Edition

I have wanted to go to Bodie State Historic Park for such a long time.  It is in mid-eastern California, northeast of Yosemite National Park.  It is pretty remote, and the road closes in winter, so it has been a long time coming.  But, finally, I got to go!!!

Here’s a sneak peak, as a nod to my mom, who celebrated her birthday last week.  She loves historic toilets!


Circus Trip 2018: The Mighty 5

Utah has five National Parks – Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands.  As of this morning I have been to all five!

Yesterday I went to Capitol Reef National Park.  In the rain.  It was muddy – that red clay mud really sticks to everything.  I wasn’t in the mood to hike in the rain, so I did the scenic drive, went to the historic area of Fruita, and bought a personal sized apple pie, made locally.  Capitol Reef maintains and manages the historic orchards that were owned by the Mormon settlers in the region at the turn of the last century.  The pie was amazing!

Mormon Settler Cabin at Capitol Reef

Unfortunately the weather got me a bit down; I headed south on Highway 12 after a grilled cheese sandwich lunch.  Highway 12 is gorgeous!  I did hit snow at the higher elevations of the pass but fortunately it wasn’t sticking to the road.

Today I explored Bryce Canyon National Park.  It was still raining, and even colder than it had been at Capitol Reef.

The misty view at Bryce Canyon

The rain was more a misty rain/snow mix though, and I was determined to hike.  I hiked down into the canyon among the hoodoos and the juniper and pine forest and loved it!  This park is so amazingly beautiful!  Bryce Canyon was really what I needed to get out of my rainy funk.


I spent some time checking out the viewpoints in the afternoon, and the little bit of snow didn’t stop me.  Bryce Canyon is certainly a place I will go back to!

Me at the Natural Bridge Viewpoint

Circus Trip 2018: Rain rain go away

I thought Utah was a desert??? But noooo… I got into Utah on Friday afternoon, with a late in the day visit to Hovenweep National Monument.

Hovenweep is remote. And incredible. The two and a half mile easy loop walk takes you past a dozen or so ancient Puebloan structures. You can stand right next to them!

I camped at the campground there and shortly after I arrived, Carol texted to say she was there too! We met at Mesa Verde that morning and she was planning to head to Monument Valley but decided to come to Hovenweep first!!

We shared a bottle of wine in the dark and sat at the picnic table staring at the most incredible dark starry sky I have ever seen. The Milky Way, Mars, dying stars – they were all close and bright in a way I have never experienced. There was no moon visible to mute the brightness of the stars. I was in awe of the beauty on this Earth – I wonder what those people 800 years ago thought when they looked at those same stars.

Today I headed north, stopping at Natural Bridges National Monument and doing some short hikes because the rain was threatening. Shortly after I got back in my car the thunderstorm struck, with a clap of lightning so close that it I could feel the electricity!

I continued my drive through Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in intermittent rain to Capitol Reef National Park. I am camped in my car listening to the rain on the roof. I am hoping it clears for my explorations tomorrow.

Please go away rain!!


4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: On to Portland

Day 6, Saturday, March 31, 2018

A good chunk of the day was spent driving… I drove, Lelani drove, Laura drove…  Bleh…

Mount Shasta from the viewpoint

We did stop in Roseburg for lunch at the McMenamin’s Station Pub and Brewery.  It is located in a 1912 Southern Pacific Railroad depot, which ironically, had a “no booze” policy.  The depot is quite pretty inside, but we sat outside so we could have our lunch without worrying about Shaka.  I had the Chipotle Salad that was delicious, although a little spicy (I knew that going in, given the name…).  I also had the Ruby Ale – this is one of my favorite beers ever!!!

We still had a bit of driving to go before arriving in Portland and dropping off Laura, Brenna and Shaka at a friend’s house where they were going to stay the night.  I noticed that we were right near the Kennedy School, which is another of McMenamin’s properties, so I suggested we go there and see if they had a room.

McMenamin’s is a local Oregon company that purchases historic properties and renovates them for use as breweries, restaurants, and hotels.  They maintain the historic character of the property while making a fun, lively atmosphere for guests.  They brew their own beer, make their own wine, and even distill their own spirits.  They have several properties in Oregon and a couple now in Washington, and their business model seems to be working really well.  If you have a chance to visit one, you won’t be disappointed!

The Kennedy School is a 1915 elementary school that operated until 1976.

We inquired about a room and were delighted when we were told they had one room left!  It was a queen room in what used to be a classroom in the room.  It was so incredibly cool!  Although I have visited several of the McMenamin’s properties, including the Kennedy School, this is the first time I have had the chance to stay at one!

Our room at the Kennedy School


The bed at the Kennedy School

Lelani and I spent our evening having dinner at the restaurant, which was fabulous, and wandering around the school with cocktails.  The Kennedy School has 3 bars, and you don’t have to stay in the bar with your drink; you can wander the school at your leisure.  It also has a soaking pool (we were sad that we didn’t bring our swimsuits!), and a movie theater too.

In the morning we had breakfast, and I had a delicious mimosa.  I loved our stay at the Kennedy School!  Then we picked up two very hungover young ladies, and a happy dog and drove home…

It was such an amazing ending to a fantastic road trip!  Well, at least for Lelani and me – Laura and Brenna probably had a different opinion…  😉


4 Chicks and a Little Bitch: Northward

Day 5, Friday, March 30, 2018

We had such a good time in San Francisco, but it was time to head northward towards home.  We got showered, packed up, tetrised the car, and got on our way…

Me with the Golden Gate Bridge

We stopped in Sausalito to poke around in some shops and walk along the water.  What a cute, peaceful little town!  Then we met up with Lelani’s friend Susi for lunch in Tiburon at Sam’s Café.  It is dog friendly and we sat outside on the patio to enjoy our meal.  I had fish and chips and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, but I was so hungry I forgot to take a photo.  The weather was amazing once again, sunny and much warmer than a typical March day!

Me after lunch in Tiburon

Our next destination was Santa Rosa for some wine tasting.  We stopped at Matanzas Creek Winery.  I did a tasting while the rest of the girls bought a bottle and sat out on the patio to share; I joined them when I was finished with my tasting.  They had some really good wine, but it was pricey.  It was really nice hanging out on the patio soaking up the sunshine!

Sharing a bottle


Selfie at Matanzas Creek!

Next we headed over to Muscardini.  They had some really good wines but I felt like the service could have been better…  They were dog friendly both inside and out though so Shaka loved it; she found a bone that another dog had left behind and was in heaven.


Our last stop in Santa Rosa was at Palooza for dinner.  There was a bit of a wait, but they had a waiting area where you could play a giant game of Jenga, so we didn’t mind the wait!  The girls shared pizza, but I wasn’t in the mood for more pizza so I had a Mushroom Alfredo that was to die for!  Another of Lelani’s friends had dinner with us, and she enjoyed catching up with him!


My mushroom alfredo and calamari appetizer at Palooza

By the time we left Santa Rosa the sun was setting, and we weren’t sure how far north we were going to get.  We had originally planned on camping on the Oregon Coast again, but after the misjudged distance on the way down earlier in the week, we decided that it would be better to just head back up I-5.  Laura and Brenna drove, and they are able to stay up way later than Lelani and me, so we made it all the way to Redding before deciding to turn in for the night.

We stayed at the Super 8 there; it was supposed to be dog friendly but they didn’t have any dog friendly rooms available for the night.  We were bad; we snuck Shaka in instead of making her sleep in the car.  She let out one big woof and a few quiet ones when some guys walked past the room on the way to theirs, but after that she was quiet.  Whew!

What a long, fun day!


Circus Trip 2018: Reset

After leaving Michigan last Wednesday, I decided to make my way west along Interstate 70, to see some sites in states further south than the ones I saw on my way out.  I made my down through Indiana and Illinois, visited St. Louis for a day, and continued west through Missouri and Kansas.

The last couple of days have been cold and rainy, so I drove some pretty long distances. I am more interested in seeing more of Colorado and Utah than I was in hanging around in Missouri and Kansas.

This afternoon I hit Colorado, and the skies cleared up and the temperature warmed up to 70 degrees!  I was able to stop for a hike at Paint Mines Interpretive Park in Calhan, Colorado.  There are hoodoos and other formations made from the slowly eroding clay soil.  The oxidized iron in the soil causes amazing colors in the clay!

It has been awhile since I had some hiking time on this trip, and the hike and the sun did some good for my soul!


Circus Trip 2018: Westward

I was with family in Michigan for over a week, but it was time to get back on the road and start making my way westward.  As I said before, I did travel east more slowly than I was expecting, and with the hurricane’s aftermath in the Carolinas, I have made some changes to my path.

From Michigan I will drop south into Missouri, and start making my way west, loosely following Interstate 70.  I still have so many things along the way that I want to see, and I am sure that more will continue popping up on my radar.  That’s the problem with any trip; there are so many places to see and so little time, realistically.  There is so much that I have to skip.  Unless someone wants to volunteer to be my benefactor, so I can just stay out on the road! Just sayin’…

I’ve gone a bit soft, having spent close to two weeks in real beds, in real houses (and one night in a hotel).  I have been spoiled by my parents, aunts and uncles, and have loved seeing them and many of my cousins.  It is interesting to be back in the car and alone again!

Yesterday I did some organizing; pulling things out of the car and rearranging to make better use of my available space. I had pulled my sheets out to wash them, and yesterday I pulled my mattress out to rebind it, then put it back in and made the bed.  It felt good to get things neat and organized again – it is hard to stay on top of it in such a tiny space!

Today I visited Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and enjoyed the crashing of the waves on the beautiful sand beach. I hope you are all happy and well!