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mountains

Mountain Snow, Deer, and Anxiety


Last week while night driving through the western part of Idaho there was a range of mountains ahead of us that was covered in snow.  It was later in the afternoon, closer to early evening.  The sun hadn't quite set yet, so the sky had that bluish haze of dusk that makes things seem magical and surreal.  While my picture doesn't do justice to the actual site I saw ahead of me, hopefully you can get a little bit of an idea.  We have all heard about mountains being blanketed in snow.  Indeed these appeared that way, blanketed in a shimmery layer of whitish/bluish satin.

Of course cooler weather and snow at these elevations brings creatures of all sorts down from the mountain tops.  This created an up-close encounter that was slightly less exhilarating than the Bald Eagles from the other day.  Rounding a curve there straddling the center line was a mule deer.

A giant female mule deer.

The top of her head must have come at least as high as the hood of our big truck.  There was no where to go, and she was in no hurry to go anywhere.  Thank goodness he was driving because my brain froze.  The only thing I could do was put my feet on the dash (don't laugh) and say “Baby! Baby! Baby! Baby!” over and over again like a record with a scratch stuck in repeat.  With his many years experience of driving his reaction was much calmer and productive.  Thankfully, he was able to slow enough to give the mammoth doe time to make up her mind that yes, she did want to get out of the road.  I watched as she casually trotted off to the snowy grass on the other side and he went around her.

Heart pounding, stomach churning, I spent the rest of the night curled up in the sleeper.  I will never forget that deer, her eyes, her size, and the fear of hitting her or sliding off the side of the mountain.  Thankfully, I will also never forget the beauty seen just a little while before of the satiny mountaintops.  And I am so very thankful for his calm handling of our fully-loaded, nearly 80,000lb truck in that sticky situation.

If anyone ever thinks driving a big truck is a skill-less trade that anyone can do better think again!  It takes a calm mind, quick thinking, rational though, quick and steady reflexes. And lots of road, equipment, land, and animal knowledge to successfully survive out here across America's highways.

~sierra

Daily View: The Oregon Trail


[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]

Early morning fog along the Columbia River Gorge.
I am not a morning person, not by a long shot.  But on this particular morning the view outside our truck windows was well worth the waking up for.  Coffee in hand I climbed into the front seat early (for me) as we started our trek across Oregon.  We were on I-84 across the top of Oregon which follows the Colombia River and Gorge area – The Oregon Trail.

To the left of us was thousands of acres of mountains and evergreen trees rising high into the sky.  To the right was the Columbia river in all its glory.  There were rock cliffs, deep water, white water rapids, and old trails.  The far side of the river was the state of Washington, mountains and hills rising and falling to meet the water.  Some peaks snow-capped, others rocky, and still others covered in thick evergreen forests.

Washington State side of the Columbia River.
Around each bend there was another view that made me gasp in wonder and point, “See that baby!?”  Unbelievably lush green and thriving vegetation, especially for this time of the year.  Ancient railroad tracks still in use.  Rocky gorges and waterfalls.  And OH the waterfalls!  Pure and clean mountain water escaping from the mountain tops, some in little trickles, a few in massive gushing cascades.

Then, rounding a bend, right there in a tree on the side of the road sat the most majestic creature alive, the Bald Eagle.  It was so close I could almost reach out and touch it!  I nearly came out of my seat in excitement.  I've seen a few of these beautiful birds from a distance as they were flying high in search of prey, but never one so close and sitting still.  When I say these birds are beyond description, I mean it.  No words or pictures can do them justice.  They are huge, powerful, regal, and just.... wow!  But my excitement didn't end there, a few miles up, on the same side of the road, my side, the passenger side, was yet ANOTHER Bald Eagle perched on a tree branch, not even 20 yards from my window.  If I never see another one of these birds again in my lifetime, I will never forget their strength and beauty, those eyes ever watchful as they sit above the world keeping eye on all that is below.  I finally understand why this bird represents our nation.

Grassy cliff along the Columbia River
where we went "hiking".
Finding a rest area along the river, he stopped so we could stretch our legs.  And stretch them we did!  A  trail near the back led to some rocky cliffs, then down to the river.  What morning isn't complete without a little trail hiking and mountain climbing?  The cool crisp air filled our lungs and the landscape dazzled our eyes.  We spent about an hour hiking, not long, but long enough to get a little exercise and fresh air.  And definitely long enough to create a morning to remember for a lifetime in my mind.

There were many of these little island
in the river. The native indians used
them as burial grounds and were
called "memaloose", literally
'Island of the Dead'.







~sierra



Majestic Flagstaff

[For daily updates, more pictures, and humor follow me on Facebook and Twitterer (different content posted to each)  https://m.facebook.com/sierra.sugar ]


When I was in the 5th grade my parents and I went on a two-week trip from Florida to Albuquerque, NM, with a short trip over to Flagstaff, Arizona.  I don't remember much from that entire trip except the backseat of the Oldsmobile car my parents had at the time.  You see, the morning we left they woke me up to leave, I took two steps into the garage to get in the car and threw up.  And that was pretty much my entire trip.  I spent it sick in the backseat.

I vaguely remember stops in Texas, in New Mexico at the Carlsbad Caverns, the Grand Canyon, and even one day when my dad tried to take me snow skiing at Flagstaff, the mountain for which the city is named.  The only thing I remember about that morning is vomiting copious amounts of orange juice.  It seemed more than any 9 year old little girl's body could ever possibly hold.  My dad turned around and took me back to the hotel to stay with my mother.  I don't even remember seeing the mountain, or snow, or anything.

The other morning Allen woke me up with hot coffee and kisses.  “Baby time to get up, we're near Flagstaff and I want you to see everything.”  There at the truck stop I could see the mountain rising out of the flatland, sitting there like a snow-capped crown on a pillow of brown and green velvet.  I took some pictures but it was still so far away.


 As we drove, I kept taking pictures.  And driving and taking pictures.


And more driving and taking more pictures.  Distance is deceiving when you're out in the middle of desert land.  We drove for 80 miles with the mountain ever creeping closer yet still out of reach.


When we finally got to the base of Flagstaff it was more breathtaking than I could have imagined.


I tried to remember anything from my childhood, but sadly no images could be recalled.  I tried to imagine my dad skiing down the snow covered lanes towering so high above me.  I remember dad telling me his ski instructor looked just like John Denver.  As we drove around the mountain all I could do was smile and watch in wonder, my heart swelling with love for this man I share my life with.  One amazing experience after another, day by day, mile by mile, he is showing me the world.  I may not have many childhood memories but I am making uncountable new ones with him.  And that is what love, life, and happiness is all about.

~sierra

The best part of waking up...


The year was 1993. I was barely 21 and getting ready for my first day at a new job and what turned out to be the start of a new career.  Mornings were hard for me.  I was lucky to get my clothes on right-side in and forward most days.  There I was standing in the tiny kitchen of my rented house trying to figure out if I had everything before walking out the door when suddenly there was a knock.

Anxiously I peeked out and there he was, all smiling and full of energy.  He came by to wish me good luck on my first day. I remember him straightening my scrub top and fixing the hem of my pants so they were properly tucked into my socks, hey it was the 90s.  He made sure I had my purse, my lunch, my keys, a big hug and loving kiss, then sent me on my way.

It is now 21 years later, mornings haven't gotten any easier, and he is still always thinking of me.

This morning I woke up and the truck wasn't moving.  He usually wakes up before me and drives for an hour or two before I wake up. Then we stop to get coffee or breakfast. But, this morning we were already stopped.  I poked my messy bed head out of the sleeper and was greeted with "Good morning my beautiful!"  A groggy, I-haven't-had-coffee-yet smile and I manage to ask why we were stopped.

There is a pass in North Carolina on I-40 heading up to Tennessee.  It is a gorge that follows the Pigeon River for 20 some miles.  He told me he didn't want me to miss it, so he stopped and waited so I could see it.  Always thinking of me.  Always taking care of me.  After getting dressed and getting a hot cup of coffee, made right here in the truck, he took me on a leisurely drive through the gorge.  As I sipped my coffee I got to see the mountain fall colors in all their magesty.  Ambers, golds, coppers,  and ruby reds, mixed in with the vibrant evergreens.  It was a gorgeous morning driving through God's garden all decked out in Christmas colors.
Morning in the mountains, 11/07/2014


And there he sat in the driver's seat pointing trees and mountains out to me, all the while with a smile of amusement on his handsome face. The road was narrow and curvy, and there weren't any scenic pull offs to stop and take pictures. While I managed to snap a few from the moving truck, the memory of this serene mountain morning will always remain.  And every day I hope I make him as happy and feel as loved as he does me.

~sierra


A small town morning in Wall, South Dakota



This morning we woke up at the foot of the Black Hills, in South Dakota in a little town called Wall. There isn't much in Wall besides an Ace Hardware, a small local grocery store, a few small hotels, and of course the historical Main Street with Wall Drug. Wall Drug was started by a young couple in 1931. A family run drug store complete with soda fountain. After struggling for 5 years they came up with a sales gimmick to draw in weary travelers.... free ice water. And it worked. Wall Drug today takes up a full city block filled with memorabilia, trinkets, gifts, and an incredible collection of authentic photos and paintings chronoling the settlement of the Badlands and Midwest. Ice water is still free. A cup of coffee is only 5cents. Plus they serve delicious homemade old fashioned cake style donuts. Yum!!!

After a brisk walk down 4 blocks in the chilly morning winds, he and I rambled around Wall Drug enjoying the walk through history, the beautiful arts and crafts, stunning black hills gold jewlery, and yes even hokey tourist displays and gifts. We sat and enjoyed a hot cup of coffee and a donut before walking hand in hand back up Main Street. Ahhh, such is life in a peaceful small town. A brief stop a the little grocery for dinner provisions, then back to the truck and modern day.

It was a nice relaxing break from the road. And now on to what is sure to be more breath taking views of the Badlands and Black Hills. Hopeefully next time I will have pictures to share of the scenery.

~sierra

Living Small in Wide Open Spaces

The past couple of days we've traveled through Kansas, Wyoming, and down in to Utah. Looking out on the plains to a horizon many miles away is a lot looking out across the ocean. It's harvest time, and the lyrics "amber waves of grain" come to life before my eyes. Then later, some nearly 9000 feet above sea level in Wyoming looking out from the top of a mountain and seeing the beauty of the world below spread out in
uncountable miles of glorious beauty was a moment I will never forget.





Born and raised in Florida I am used to trees hugging the roads. You can't see too far off in the distance unless you're at the beach. Out in the midwest with rolling hills, farm land, and mountains there is lots of wide open spaces in every direction. I imagine due to the more airid climate and high winds trees don't grow nearly as tall and they tend to be more spaced out; oasises of green nestled in fields of gold. The open space is refreshing, especially as I gaze out from behind the glass of our International 73" sleeper.

While it is wide open spaces on the outside, inside we are learning to live in a total space that is about half the size of our bedroom back home. Clutter adds up quickly if you're not careful. Having such limited space makes you really think and prioritize all your "stuff". It is more important than ever to have a place for everything and to keep everything in its place. Clothes are rolled, not folded, to save space. Each category of clothing is in its own bag to keep everything from getting jumbled up. Plastic store bags, the kind you get from the grocery store or walmart, become small trash bags that are thrown away daily. We took the top bunk out to allow more head room when standing. It makes the sleeper feel less crowded. In the relatively near future he plans to build some small cabinets snd shelves with netting to better utilize the verticle space. Especially since we will remove one of the small cabinets on the floor to put in a refrigerator and microwave.

Of course the mind needs a personal space to be cluttered, messy orgaization. The cubbies above the driver and passenger seats are for each of us to keep how ever we wish. While I straighten up the sleeper and cab daily and keep on top of any trash or clutter, his cubbie is left alone. That is his personal, hands off space. The same with the cubbie on my side. It gives us each a sence of personal space in such small confinement. Being in such close quarters basically 24/7 it's important to have that little bit of personal space no matter how small or perceived.

I am looking forward to both the interior and exterior upgrades to our extremely mobile and tiny home. And I am still beyond excited about seeing this amazing country.

~sierra

posted from Bloggeroid

Beyond Pictures

It was early morning, the sun barely in the sky. As we came around the curve and up over the hill, I couldn't believe my eyes. Through the mist and rain, clouds rested against the mountain sides. The wind rustled the multi-colored leaves and the clouds stretched like pulled cotton clinging to the tree tops. Down into a valley another curve in the road was balanced between a steep drop to our right and sheer rock cliffs to our left. Every few yards cool mountain water raced from rock creavaces cascading onto an old railcar resting on its iron tracks which hugged the rugged curves of this Tennessee mountain.

And there was no place to pull over to capture this picturesque scene which seemed straight from some old Hollywood movie. Even if there had been the slanting rain would have made digital capture near impossible. But the memory will forever be burned in my mind.

And of course his smile at watching my excitement and reactions.

Breath caught finally and conversation ensued. We were going by Lookout Mountain, the top of which allows a spectacular view over multiple states. I vaguely remember going with my parents when I was young, 9 or 10 maybe. The last time he was there was with grandparents when he was around 13.

....

We both visited Lookout Mountain as kids at the same time! Was he that rambuctious boy my parents scowled at? We'll never know, but it makes my heart race to think about the many near misses we had through the years. The almost meeting here or there. We have many of those, and today was the discovery of yet another.

I can't wait to see what new adventures every tomorrow brings.

~sierra
posted from Bloggeroid