Ventura Highway. And other famous stuff.

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“Ventura highway

in the sunshine

Where the days are longer

The nights are stronger

Than moonshine

You’re gonna go

I know”

-America

If you remember that song, well, you’re old. It was released in 1972, but I can still sing most of the lyrics.

So I felt a sort of thrill, and a connection, when we drove down Ventura Highway (in the sunshine). This feeling happened to us a lot in Los Angeles. So many iconic towns, streets, and sights are here that you’re almost constantly casting about for the connection: “Is this from a song? A movie? Why is this famous?”

Century City. Sunset Boulevard. Marina Del Ray. Wilshire Boulevard. Santa Monica. Malibu. Burbank. It goes on and on.

But nothing is more iconic than the Hollywood sign. There are many places to go for a view of the sign, but we chose the Griffith Observatory and a hike. Totally worth it.

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Food trends for 2015

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By Saimi Rote Bergmann

As we travel across the country, we purposely taste and sip local specialties. We will also be on the lookout for these trends (reported in USA Today):

CULINARY CANNABIS. That’s right, cooking with marijuana twill be all the rage in 2015. Pot brownies anyone? I wonder when we will see our first marijuana cookbook!

SUPER FRUIT du jour.  Pomegranate, you are out. What’s in? Baobab, a fruit from Africa high in calcium and fiber.

KID’S MEALS UPGRADE. It’s about time. I mean really, why are kids so often limited to a choice of mac & cheese or hot dogs? Experts predict kiddie meals will include soup and salad and other healthful choice.

Lights! Camera! Action!

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What do Star Wars (1977), Spartacus (1960) and The Twilight Zone (1959) have in common?

Parts of all three were filmed in Death Valley.

It’s easy to understand why a filmmaker would be drawn to this 5,000 square mile national park on the eastern edge of California.

We were completely taken by surprise at the variety of sights here.  From huge sand dunes

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IMG_3841 it was almost too much to absorb. Our original plan was to stay overnight and head out. We stayed three nights and wished we could have stayed a couple more.

Perhaps most memorable was the sunrise our second morning.  It filled the entire dome of the sky, with hues Crayola would envy. Sleepy and bedazzled, neither of us thought to grab a camera.  We did catch the sunset that night.

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The Grand Canyon. Still grand.

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by Saimi Bergmann
Not much I can say about the Grand Canyon that you haven’t heard before. Still there. Still big.
We were awed, of course. And we took some great photos (she said immodestly). I could show you some of those, but instead, you get to see these.
Feel free to write your own captions.

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Aaaannnnnnd we’re back! Officially fulltimers now.

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Sing it with me – “On the road again … can’t wait to get on the road again.”

We had to take a break from our travels to return to Ohio to sell our home of 20 years.  I won’t lie, packing was a nightmare. And now our belongings are scattered between storage units in Canton, a friend’s attic in Alliance, our daughter’s home in Chicago, my parent’s home in Utah, and the RV.

But the house is sold, so we are officially fulltimers now. Or, as hubby says, officially homeless now!

Sing it Willie –

On the road again,

like a band of gypsies we go down the highway,

We’re the best of friends

Insisting the world be running our way.

 

 

What’s your specialty, Flagstaff?

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Well, duh. If you are traveling near Flagstaff, you don’t want to miss the big hole in the ground.

Like many of the world’s natural wonders, the Grand Canyon challenges amateur photographers. We are stunned by the colors, the scope, the play of light and shadow, but when we reduce it to  two dimensions… well, if ever there was a time to say, “You have to see it for yourself,” this is it.

This stop illustrates part of the reason why we sold most of our stuff, put the rest in storage, and hit the road. If our country was best enjoyed by flipping through coffee table books, then we wouldn’t be out here, first person-ing it.

Balloons Everywhere

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By Mark Bergmann

Balloons, balloons and then more balloons. It seemed the balloons might blot out the sun in Albuquerque. In addition to the traditional round balloons, there were hundreds of special shapes. My favorites were the Darth Vader and Yoda balloons.IMG_3436

You can pay to watch from the launch field, which is worth the price of admission because you can get so close to the action. Watching the traffic controllers (dressed like referees) give the okay to launch was something not to miss. All morning long new balloons kept taking off. I actually lost track of how many were airborne.IMG_3441

 

Anywhere in Albuquerque is good for viewing but we were fortunate to have a ring side seat in the RV park. The target drop was right in front of us. Many balloonists slowly approach the ground target, judging wind speed and direction. A Smokey the Bear balloonist tossed the bean bag closest to the target the day we watched. One note about camping – make sure to bring in enough water and any time you leave the grounds try to use the public rest rooms. Sewer trucks drive around the RV park and will take your dirty water for $25. Now that is what I call, “pay to go.”

Getting up early to watch the Dawn Patrol was beautiful.  You can watch four balloons go up to check out the wind conditions in the still dark sky. When the balloonist fires up, the entire balloon glows like a Chinese lantern. When the all clear is given, balloon after balloon rises out of the valley and drifts away.

I am sure glad this balloon festival was on Saimi’s bucket list.

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