The Great Road Trip 2019 – Reno, Tahoe, and Virginia City

Picking this little travel log up after I left off, we ate breakfast at a lovely diner in Fallon, then we went to Younger Son’s house to drop off his tool box from home. He showed us around, packed a bag and we took off for Reno.

Let me pause here for a few minutes and talk about family dynamics.

Good grief, my kids are 26 and 24 years old…you’d think they’d have learned how to get along by now. Or, at least, suck it up for the short time we’d be together. It was unbelievable to me that they were arguing within an hour of being together in the same space. By the time we got to Reno, I had to have a chat with Older Son in particular, and then the two of them together.

Just a quick note for any of you Faithful Readers getting ready to travel with family. Family dynamics don’t change just because time goes by. I fell into the trap of thinking things would be just “fine”, and I should have known better. For reason’s I can’t begin to fathom, my kids have nothing in common, and just could care less for each other’s company. Next time, I will know better.

On with visiting Reno…

We stayed two nights at the Nugget, which was a huge step up from the Budget Inn, but no more expensive. The first day we visited the National Auto Museum, which was neat, and then we just hung out at the hotel for the evening.

Oddly enough, Younger and Older decided to go down to Bourbon Street and bar hop for a bit. The Flirt and I had supper at the buffet in the casino and then went swimming. We needed a nice slow evening to rest and recharge, and it was nice.

The next day we at breakfast at the hotel and the began the trip to Lake Tahoe. Holy cow, was that a little bit of torture. Getting up to Lake Tahoe require driving up the mountain, with lots of switchbacks and hairpin curves.

Luckily, I was able to hold it together and not lose my breakfast. The drive was worth it. Lake Tahoe was so beautiful. In North Dakota, it’s hard to find water so clear that you can see to the bottom like this. There was just enough of a breeze to keep the heat down, and a clear blue sky. I could have sat there all day looking at the scenery.

After walking around the shore a little, we got back in the truck and drove around the other side of the lake to the city of Tahoe, in the California side. We shopped at an outlet mall, and were going to take a gondola up the mountain, but it was undergoing maintenance.

After Tahoe, we continued on to Virginia City, which is an old mining town with all kinds of great cultural tours and lots of good shopping, which we did a lot of. I wish we’d have had time to do the tours, because Virginia City is really old, and has a very interesting history. Make sure you eat in a restaurant with an overlook of the canyon. There are several to choose from, and the view will be worth it.

If you go to Virginia City, make sure to plan to spend all day, and also be prepared for the twists and turns up the mountain and back down again. The terrifying ride was worth being there, but I will definitely check this permanently off of my bucket list until teleportation is invented.

Last night I was lucky enough to hook up with an old friend who lives in the area, and that was awesome.

So ends these adventures in Nevada. Next stop, California!

Safe and happy travels to all you who are on the road… blessings all!

The Great Road Trip of 2019 Begins

Today will be jam packed, Faithful Readers.

I finally made it to my two week vacation. I didn’t talk about it previous posts much because it always seemed so far away. Well, all of a sudden here it is!

All day will be about laundry, final house work, packing, and shopping for last minute things. Right now I’m sitting at Broadway Bean and Bagel having a lovely breakfast sandwich and coffee, and getting my mind organized for the day’s activities. This is a comfortable place to hang out and have breakfast. The food is good, and they play good music. Unfortunately, it’s become a little too peopley. Time to slurp up the last of my coffee and get on with what needs doing.

Tomorrow The Flirt, Older Son, and I head out for Deadwood, SD. The next day we push on to Grand Junction, CO. The third day will be the last leg of our main destination, Younger Son’s new home town in NV.

You guys, I’m so excited I can just barely stand it. I’m also a nervous wreck. Older Son and The Flirt haven’t been crammed into a small space together for a prolonged period of time before. They get along just fine, but I imagine by the time we get home the two of them will be glad to go their separate ways for awhile.

We will be meeting friends and family along the way, and checking all kinds items off of bucket lists. If we are lucky we will make it all the way to the Pacific. If not, that’s ok.

This trip is primarily about visiting Younger Son, and everything we see and do on top of that is just delicious gravy. Things are going to spontaneously appear on my bucket list, and I’m going to love taking pictures of all of it. More to come on that.

So begins The Great Road Trip of 2019. Here’s hoping you all have a lovely day, resting, packing for a road trip, reading a book, or whatever makes you the happiest. Blessings all!

Turning 50 is a joyful thing… No joking!


On this bright, sunshiny, frigid North Dakota morning, I sit here and count my blessings. My house is warm, I can hear my washer chugging away in the basement so I know I will have clean clothes to wear tomorrow, and I have just consumed a scone from a newer business in Minot called Prairie Sky Breads. Who could ask for a better start to the day?

I turned 50 recently, and with that comes a lot of things to be joyful about. Yes, you read that correctly. Turning 50 years old is worth celebrating!

What?! Crazy talk, you say? No, not at all. So many women get hung up on aging as though it were the worst thing in the world. Maybe some ladies have relied on their youth and beauty to get by in life, and seeing that change over the years bothers them. Being rather average that way, my looks are nothing that bothers me to see change, in large part.

To be honest, reaching this milestone age has allowed me to shed a whole lot of care for what people think of me. What others think is their business, let them wrangle with it if they need to waste time and energy on useless thoughts.

Being 50 brings a lot of freedom. Behold just a few of the reasons this is so:

I am so lucky to be an empty-nester, having successfully launched my two boys, who are amazing young men, and productive citizens in each their own right. I am not responsible for anyone but myself at the moment, and I really enjoy the freedom.

I own my house, and can change it however I want. Last year was the “Year of Decrappify and Spiff”. I did a lot of that, and continue those efforts into 2019. I took a week off recently and had work done to my house, which I will elaborate on later, and it has helped me get further along in my goal of being happy where I live. The freedom to fix things up to suit my tastes, my interests, and my needs is a lovely thing.

I have almost reached the 10 year mark of when I learned I was getting divorced. I just realized this yesterday, sitting with the afghan I made myself when I turned 40. It’s been used a lot over the last 10 years, and that wear shows. It still keeps me warm, and fits me just right. It makes me happy to know that my handiwork held up through bad times, and carried me right into the good ones too. It’s a 98E9519E-C564-449F-93D9-87B908EEC906reminder to me that good times come and go, but you can do things for yourself that get you through the bad times. The bad times never really last forever, and that is something I’m always grateful for.

This week, Older Son came to visit, and had supper with me.  While he sat in my new rocker-recliner groaning for having eaten too much spaghetti, I threw my afghan on top of him, and he grabbed it and pulled it up around his chin. I think I got a bigger kick out of that than his having missed my cooking so much he over did it. I hope that little blanket keeps generations of my family warm after I am gone.

I am constantly reminded that there are all kinds of things, large and small to be grateful for every day. I’m grateful to have made it to 50, and am looking forward to what the future brings.

Here’s hoping you find even the tiniest thing to be grateful about at whatever age you occupy now. Gratefulness really is the key to being happy. Blessings all!



Shredding my way to a happier space

As discussed yesterday, I have a very long “to-do” list. There is so much to do that it’s difficult to know even where to start.

This weekend was supposed to be about getting my ceilings painted with a nice fresh coat of bright white paint. I also need to get a start on painting my basement floor in preparation to re-engineer what used to be the Man Cave, into my personal craft/project space.

I’m starting to understand that my “to-do” list needs to be more like my bucket list.

My bucket list is populated by some long term ideas, but also has plenty of space for things which appear in the moment. It’s very flexible, though for the moment somewhat dormant.

Yesterday, I began to move some things around in the basement, and discovered I have quite a lot of old paperwork stored, some of it going back to 2001. Good grief… there’s at least two large totes full, plus some other smaller containers. This is in the basement, on top of the tote I have stored in my living room.


So. I guess it’s time to shred. Not only does it free up space, but it frees up totes I can use to store other things.

I also found that in order to move things around to paint, I need to downsize. “Less is more” will be my mantra going forward. Getting rid of anything that doesn’t serve me comes first, and I feel like it will make the difference for all that comes later.

I so badly wanted to get the painting done, but decided to be flexible and put dealing with these needs before everything else. I cleared out a bunch of books and craft supplies, which I will donate to a local charity tomorrow. When Older Son was here yesterday, I was happy to gift him with several items I don’t use that he will find handy in his new apartment. He also helped me move some cupboards from the kitchen to the basement. Better storage downstairs, more room upstairs.

I’m not just making more room for things to be rearranged. I’m eliminating a whole lot of what I call pots of poison… old paperwork with my ex’s name on it. Just a lot of dusty old stuff from sadder days that no one needs anymore.

I’m making more room for me. I want to remake myself and expand into my newly rejuvenated space, at whatever pace I feel like.

As for the shredding, no time like the present. Last night I shredded until one tote was completely empty. One down, several more to go. It’s agonizingly slow, as I need to go through everything in case there might be something I need to keep. I’ve run into a few things, and thankfully they are just a few.

Baby steps… I’ll get there eventually, but it’s so hard to be patient.

Here’s hoping you all find ways to reorganize, and expand into your space, in whatever time you choose. It’s very cathartic, and highly recommended. Blessings all!

Blowing off productivity

Today I have many, many things to get done. The “To Do” list is more than a little overwhelming, quite frankly.

So, what do I do in the face of this daunting chore list? I baked banana muffins.

That’s right, this slacker chose to goof off in her kitchen rather than clean her house. I didn’t even bother to multitask by making sure I had laundry going at the same time. That’s what my programming tells me I did.

What really happened is that I used up some really ripe bananas before they went bad, and baked for me and my family. I also managed to clean up the kitchen in the process. And, no laundry got done because I’m leaving that open for Older Son to do his laundry when he stops by today. This is the truth that gets overshadowed by societal programming: productivity at all costs. If you aren’t producing something someone else thinks is worthwhile, what good are you?

Well… to Hell with that.

Now I’m sitting here in the sunshine blogging with my belly full of warm banana muffins and coffee. My depraved rebellion knows no bounds, it seems. So there, Society…stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

I have a three day weekend to do as I please, and I’m going to do the best I can to get things done in my own way, as I feel like it. And, I have banana muffins made from my Grandmother’s recipe to snack on and share with my family while doing so.

Speaking of my Grandma, I got to use something of hers today that hardly ever comes out of the drawer – her potato masher. It only gets used for two activities: mashing potatoes and bananas.

I love the things that I inherited from her and her sister, Aunty B. I have a lot of good memories of them, and I’m so grateful to use their things and be able to pass them down to my kids.

One of my many tasks this weekend is to make some hard choices about some of the crap I have laying around my house, and cull a bunch of it. There are going to be a LOT of things donated next week.

When Older Son stops by today, he and I will go through a bunch of stuff and clear out his old room. It will be storage and staging for stuff that I keep while getting other spaces squared away. It’s going to be a good weekend.

Here’s wishing you all the grace and space to do what you feel like doing, in your own time, rather that what society deems necessary. Banana muffin blessings all!

A good beer, an emergency, and a new job…oh my!

Well, it certainly has been an eventful autumn, and I’ve had a nasty case of writer’s block. Tonight, I decided to venture out to see if I could find a way to articulate what’s been rolling around my brain pan. 

In September, Older Son moved out of this house and in with some friends. It was time. He will be 25 soon, and it’s long past time for him to get out into life and live it. He just recently he adopted a cat, and seems to be settled and content with life. It was a little strange becoming an empty nester, but it’s good. I am slowly going through things and getting rid of everything I don’t use. Once I get done thinning out, I will be going forward with a project to turn the basement Man Cave into a Girl Cave. It will be nice to have a space to put up my sewing machine, and have a space to do projects in.  More to come on that as things progress. 

In November, Younger Son came home for Thanksgiving. It was the first proper Thanksgiving we’d had in quite a few years, and a good time was had by all. 

As sometimes happens, work got really strange over the Summer and Fall, and it got pretty awful. Everything was on fire all the time and was so stressful, I decided to get a new job. So, I applied for a new job within my company and got it. I miss the people in my old department, but I don’t miss the constant fire stomping or the politics. My new department is bright and happy, I have good people to work with,  and good work to do. A person can’t ask for much more. 

Well, except for good health. Especially when it comes to your loved ones. 

My Mom has experienced some memory issues in recent years, and I wasn’t sure if the medication she’d been taking was causing it, or if she was having onset of dementia. In the middle of December I got a text from my Dad in the middle of the day letting me know that Mom was in the ER after having a stroke. 

Mom had a stroke…. !

I quickly finished up what I was doing  at work and rushed to the ER. She was awake and alert, and luckily it was a small stroke. The bad news is that it affected her dominant side. Long story short, she was admitted to the hospital for several days, then to rehab to get therapy for her affected limbs so she would be able to come home. She is home now, and after three weeks of being home, she is still having trouble with the one hand and foot, but her speech is cleared up, and she uses the walker less. I am really grateful that she is doing better, because that could have been a whole lot worse. 

All that transpired between the time she went in and the time she came home was quite a ride, and I’ll write more about that later. 

At this moment, I’m curled up in my awesome bed, in between its smooth warm sheets, and I’m sipping a beer. Yes, it’s a strange place to be imbibing in such a beverage, but I just didn’t feel like hanging out anywhere else in the house late at night.  If you like dark beer, especially beer that has been aged in bourbon barrels, you will love Founders Backwoods Bastard. It’s rich, and has a good deep flavor. It’s got my stamp of approval! 

Here’s wishing you all good work, healthy families, and amazing beverages! Blessing all!

Finding myself in my junk

Today I am finally making time to unpack some things that have been put away for so long that I have forgotten what all I have. It just an hour I was able to clean off  and reorganize a large metal shelf, and go through a few totes. I was lucky enough to find many things that just need washing up and donating, and bunch of derelict things that just needed to be thrown away. Good thing tomorrow is garbage day.

I also found a few things that took me down a strange memory lane. These are things I have hung on to solely for sentimental reasons. I have always said that I will find something to do with these objects, but I never really do. Now that I am really cleaning out, I really do need to find a place for these things in my home that is worthy of them.

First is a group of really old, really soft pillow cases, which have been embroidered on. I am not sure who did the embroidery, but I know that it was by my Grandmother, her sister (the famous Aunty B.), or their mother, Great Grandma L. img_3434.jpgI have always thought that to use them would be the best thing to do, but I can’t bring myself to do so them for fear that they will wear away and the stitching  will come out, causing these beautiful pieces of antique handwork to be destroyed.

I find it appalling that I have left them in a tote, or some other such container, for so many years. Having dug through Pinterest, I think I have found a solution. It seems I am not alone in my wish to find a use for these without harming them. Many people are hanging them up as artwork, and I think I will so the same. My spare room will be the perfect place to hang them up until I have access to my Older Son’s room. He is looking to move in with friends, and I’ll miss him but it’s long past time for him to move on with his life.

Speaking of Older Son, I found pieces of a baby blanket I was making when I was pregnant with him. It was the first time I attempted a corner granny square pattern, and IMG_3436didn’t do a very good job at it. Those pieces have been in a zippered plastic bag for longer than he has been alive, and he is now 24. After he was born,  I just all of a sudden hated the colors, and so it went into the bag unfinished.

Now I look at it and wonder if these can be salvaged. It occurs to me that perhaps I could make a shawl out of them just to wear around the house. Or, I could finish the actual blanket and keep it for when Older Son may have his own kids.  I’ll need to block the pieces so they aren’t so misshapen, and hopefully I can make something usable out of them. It should make a quick winter project. I may just have to say goodbye to these crooked little shapes, and move on. More to come on that.

I wonder what else I will find in the next hour of rummaging through my very voluminous pile of dust collecting things stashed in my basement? It will be an adventure for sure. I know I am guaranteed to find more of what I call “pots of poison”, which are things that belonged to my ex husband, but I will just gather those up and send them to his house when Older Son goes to visit. Easy enough to get rid of, and so I should stop referring to them as poison, which mostly will kill a person.

Here’s hoping you find treasures in your homes that make you smile, and feel nostalgia for times and people who are no longer around, and not so much stuff that brings back bad memories. Either way, it’s just stuff and stuff that brings bad memories can be disposed of in many ways. Blessings all!


Day 22 – Back in the saddle

I’ve been away for a few days, and now it’s time to get back in the saddle with the exercise and blogging. I missed the blogging, but not so much the exercise. As it happens I got a lot of walking in by default while I was away, which was a bonus. Exercising is so much easier when it just happens as a part of what you are doing.  I won’t count those days here since I didn’t stop to document them, but I will resume the count.

It had been my intention to blog while I was away, but the weekend was so jam-packed with all kinds of activities that there was barely time to breathe. So, I will try to do double duty and get a couple of Travel Blogs done this week as well. I have a boat load of pictures, and tales of adventures by a Bumpkin and her Flirt visiting a foreign land. But, more about that later.

On today’s list of things to do are several things. This afternoon involves lots of housework, and laundry. It’s my last day of vacation, and I need to catch up with everything that went neglected while I was away. Tonight I need to go grocery shopping. Older Son was kind enough to clear out the fridge while I was gone, and now there’s a lot of empty space that needs filling. He even cleaned and organized the inside. Big brownie point score for Older Son!

Before I dive into all of that, this morning I will go help my Mom shave her dog.  My parents recently adopted an older dog who has some health issues. Her last owner lavished her with things like pork chops, eggs and ice cream. Needless to say she’s much larger than she needs to be, but since living with my parents her weight has come down and she’s much more active. Her former diet also caused some rotten teeth, and those will be addressed at an upcoming vet visit. She’s a hairy little beastie, and needs a little help cleaning away some of the excess.  This poor poochie (let’s call her Furry Schnitzel) has got mats and all kinds of issues with hair around her eyes, legs and mouth. Hopefully today we’ll be able to help her get rid of some of that so she can be more comfortable.

There’s a little hitch in my morning plan. In my old age I have developed a few allergies, and cats and dogs are on the list of things that make my nose run now, when they didn’t before. I don’t know why that is the case, but I love dogs and won’t let a little runny nose stop me from lavishing attention on any available and willing canine. Life is too short not to.

Here’s hoping you have a lovely day, and it finds you doing something that will give you much joy and no regrets. Blessings all!

Day 14 – Writing when my brain is empty

Some days I get out of bed with my head almost bursting full of things I want to write about. Other days, like today, I’ve got nothing. Absolutely nothing upstairs to write about.

I could tell you all sorts of things about what my house sounds like today, and that it’s surprising to see Older Son up so early. Now he is sitting across the room looking at me and asking questions. It’s hard to write meaningfully when someone’s looking at you, and you know they wish you’d put down what you’re doing and talk to them.

Clock is ticking, kiddo… Tick, Tock…gotta get this blog written, run through the shower, throw on some clothes and get down the road to work.

When I started this 100 day challenge, it not only meant 100 straight days of exercise, but also 100 straight days of blogging. I love to blog, and so that was the stick and carrot in front of my face to get me going on this 100 day challenge. So that means I have to write something, and on days when my brain is absolutely devoid of anything really meaningful, I will have to resort to blathering.

Yes, that’s my big weapon in my blogging arsenal – Blather. And now you all know the ancient North Dakota Norwegian secret to life and small talk. I’m not doing too badly today, as I haven’t resorted to talking about the weather.

Older Son ventured into the kitchen to make some coffee, and is now back in the living room asking me questions about my blog, and talking about the new King Kong movie. I think the lesson here for today is that it’s a better thing to pay attention to a person than a screen, so I will go do that.

Here’s hoping that you all have someone close by who is really interested in conversing with you. No matter how interesting blogging might be, life is too short to ignore the people in it. Blessings all!


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