Tag Archives: Travel

Road Trip~Celestial Seasonings

25 May

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Days 16 September 23, 2017

 

If you read the beginning of our road trip story on September 7, 2018, you will remember that we started out as Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida and I had mixed emotions about driving further away from our daughter living in Florida. It took us a week to arrive in Denver for our meet up with our friend, Pam and our daughter, Rebekah. The week we spent with them in Pagosa Springs, Colorado flew past and this morning we were up early to drive them to the airport.  Fortunately, they both had their electricity restored and now it was a matter of putting away their hurricane prep. We were sad for them to go, they were fun travel companions.

One place Rebekah had really wanted to visit was the Celestial Seasonings headquarters in Boulder, Colorado. Unfortunately, a visit there couldn’t be worked into our schedule. I guess a kinder mom would have chosen to not visit the tea headquarters without her, but I really wanted to visit it too. Rebekah enjoys flying, I hate flying, so she can fly in for a weekend. So after dropping the “girls” off, husband and I headed north to Boulder.

Except for getting some basic information, I didn’t know anything about the facility and what to expect, except that we would learn how tea is processed.  As we followed the map on my phone, I began to worry when it directed us to turn into a residential area. Surely the phone app had led us astray…again.  We decided to continue following the map app as we had no idea where we were and knew if we were in the wrong place, we could program it to bring us back to a main road.

To our surprise right there in the residential area, we saw the a street sign reading SleepyTime Drive. We were in the right place! Not far down the road, we came to the entrance.

 

 

By this time I couldn’t wait to get inside, and I was hoping we would not have long to wait for a tour.

 

As we approached the headquarters entrance, I had no idea what to expect. The front window was covered in their signature picture.

 

 

Once inside we discovered tea heaven! I can not believe I didn’t take pictures. The first thing we did was sign up for a tour that would be starting in about 20 minutes.  The room had a long counter set with a variety of teas.

 

Photo credit Yelp by Jeff Boyardee T

 

After signing up, we were invited to sample not only those prepared but any tea in their inventory!

 

I was in my element…..free samples!! Take that winerys! We sampled both cold and hot teas until it was time to go into the theatre and begin our tour.

 

 

There is a slight downside. We were touring on Saturday and the processing lines were not running. That didn’t stop us from enjoying the tour as our guide explained what activities we would be seeing if the machines were running.  They process their teas except peppermint from air drying to packaging.  I looked at each variety of tea from all over the globe, while my imagination roamed wild, imagining the places where the tea was grown as well as the people who spend their days hand picking the best leaves.

After we finished our tour, I asked if we could return to the tasting area. I wanted to try out more blends to decide which I wanted to buy. They laughed and said, “you can taste until we close!”  The people at Celestial Seasonings are friendly and seem to love their jobs.  We tasted several more blends, then headed to the Tea shop. As we entered the shop I was delighted with the huge assortment.

I told my husband to buckle up, I would be doing some serious damage to our charge card!

Celestial Seasonings teas are bulk packaged in signature designed boxes. My husband prefers individual pack and we were pleased to note they had a selection of boxed individual tea bags and scooped up several in flavors we can’t get locally. (Reminder to self….order some more of these online.) It was fun browsing the different blends and deciding which ones had to come home with us. It turns out quite a few hopped into our bag!

 

 

The facility also has a cafe and I was hoping to have lunch there, but it was closed. As I am writing this story, I am beginning to think I might need to join Rebekah and Pam when they fly out to visit Celestial Seasonings. Surely the two of them can keep me from embarrassing myself on the plane.

It has taken me way too long to tell the story of our road trip and this is the final episode. My interstate hating husband decided we should abandon back roads for the return trip and drive the interstates. I still don’t know why, but if I understand everything he did, what fun would that be?  Thank you for reading the posts. I have enjoyed remembering the journey. We are undecided about where we will visit on our Fall vacation this year. I do know that a short beach adventure and a tour of a historical city is in the works.

 

Oh the irony. As I am finishing this series, a sub-tropical storm is advancing on Florida.

 

Road Trip~Pagosa Springs, Colorado to Denver, Colorado.

10 May

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Days 15 September 21, 2017

Packing up day. Sad, but leaving with precious memories. I grew fond of the townhouse at Wyndham, Pagosa Springs. It was a perfect harbor after a day of touring. I am thankful for our friend, Pam, who made this trip possible by sharing not only  her time share with us, but also her bright and sunny personality.  I will miss our morning coffee times.

 

 

Our plan for the return trip to Denver was to visit Pike’s Peak. We didn’t have time to visit the peak on a previous vacation.   Unfortunately, husband’s breathing episode at Lobo Overlook caused us to scratch it once again.  The  275 mile journey would be a combination route of our trip a week earlier to pick up Rebekah and Pam at the Denver airport which would be new to them, as well as retracing some of the route we took south from Rocky Mountain National Park.

We of course, were planning to have a picnic lunch along the way and were looking for the park we found on the trip south.We should have done a GPS drop pin on the location, because we couldn’t find it. Finally, an urgent need for “facilities” drove us to find anyplace to stop!  We spotted a smallish parking area with facilities and pulled in. The facilities were adequate, but the scenery was fantastic. It turned out there was another lower level to the parking area and the river was a prime kayaking area. I guess it was a little too windy cool for them to be out that day as we didn’t see any. There were also picnic tables so we had our lunch there.

 

 

The Aspen trees on the drive north gave us a grand display of color.

We arrived in Denver and checked in to the hotel where we had stayed the previous week. We made it in time for their free supper buffet and it was nice to stay in after the long day. When we checked out after our previous stay, I left a bottle of wine in a room drawer. I had purchased it at a winery near Jefferson, North Carolina for Rebekah and Pam to enjoy at Pagosa and lugged that bottle across the country.  When we checked in, I asked if it had been turned in to lost and found. ! They said they would check and let me know. I’m still waiting…..Silly me, of course not!

 

 

 

Road Trip~ Mesa Verde National Park

12 Apr

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

 

Day 13, September 19, 2017

Another beautiful morning at the condo in Pagossa Springs. After a day of feeling wonky, I felt better and ready for another day of exploring. Today our plan was to visit Mesa Verde National Park. A nice check off on my husband’s bucket list. But first, I need my coffee and quiet time.

 

Coffee at Mesa Verde

 

The drive to Mesa Verde took around an hour, maybe a little more. We weren’t in a hurry and I enjoyed the drive through Durango. I let my imagination roam to cowboys and the wild west. But the people of Mesa Verde pre-date the cowboys by multiple centuries.

From the National Park Service website:

Ancestral Pueblo People of Mesa Verde

About 1,400 years ago, long before Europeans explored North America, a group of people living in the Four Corners region chose Mesa Verde for their home. For more than 700 years they and their descendants lived and flourished here, eventually building elaborate stone communities in the sheltered alcoves of the canyon walls. Then, in the late A.D. 1200s, in the span of a generation or two, they left their homes and moved away. Mesa Verde National Park preserves a spectacular reminder of this ancient culture.

Once we arrived at the entrance to the park, it was another 2o miles to the museum which is a must stop. There you can pick up literature describing the drives and if you have an inclination to take a ranger guided tour, you can pay for your tickets there.

 

Before we made it to the museum, we made a comfort stop. The husband is an experienced outdoors facility judge, so we take a picture of the ones he rates. LOL.

 

Pam and I stayed in the truck!

 

Rebekah and her ever-present camera.

 

Along with picking up brochures and maps at the museum, we stopped in the cafeteria to pick up a necessary adventure supply, I had forgotten to pack.

 

I’ll leave it to you to imagine which one represents me!

 

The park contains over 5000 archeological sites across 40+ miles of roads. After leaving the museum, we chose one of the easy drives through the park. We were there in off peak season so places to pull over were readily available.  There were a lot of Pit houses preserved under shelters.

 

 

Eventually they moved from the Pit houses to tree houses, built into the overhang of cliffs. It must have been exhausting climbing up and down and dangerous as well. I couldn’t imagine a mother trying to keep her children safe. Then for unknown reasons around 1200 A.D. the people let, just disappeared.

Rebekah and her dad. They share a love of photography.

 

 

On a previous trip west we had planned to visit Mesa Verde but the park was hit with a serious forest fire.

 

 

It was a nice walk out to the fire observation tower.

As we were driving slowly along the Navajo Overlook, we felt as if we were being followed. Pam’s sharp eyes found our stalker.

 

 

 

Tree Houses

 

 

 

 

Pam and I taking a break while Mike and Rebekah snapped photos

 

Spruce Tree House

 

Spruce Tree House is a favorite ruin to explore as there is an easy walking trail for closer viewing. Unfortunately, the trail was under repair so we had to view it from this building, which in my opinion was more pleasant than walking!

 

 

We didn’t see all of the sites as we drove through the park. Dusk was approaching and we didn’t want to be driving on unfamiliar roads after dark. We enjoyed a quick meal back at the museum before driving down the mountain. Sunset would be a magical time to drive down, but we were a bit too early.

 

My shadow stalking me!

 

I found Mesa Verde a fascinating place. Echoes of ancient times seemed to whisper in the air. Why did they move into the cliffs and why did they abandon them in a mere hundred years? Where did they go?  The park website has some incredible photos and videos. I encourage you to visit it at NPS.gov

America’s North Country Trip~ Part 16

3 Jan

A Slice of Life
 Bill Lites

 

 

Day 16 (Saturday)

This morning’s activities centered on getting ready for my flight home. After a great complimentary hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage links, a biscuit & gravy and orange juice, there at the motel, I took my remaining snack items out of my cooler, and left it with a note for housekeeping that the cooler and everything in it were for them. I finished packing, checked out of the motel and headed for the Eppley International Airport, there in Omaha, to turn in my rental car.

 

 

The rental car return went like a breeze, and now I had 1½ hours to kill until my flight left. I ate a granola bar and my last banana before I headed for security. At security I discovered that I not only didn’t have to remove my shoes (over 75 years of age) but when I told them I had an electronic device wired to my back for pain ( a tens unit), I didn’t have to remove that either. They did an individual body scan and that made the process a lot quicker and much easier for me.

 

 

My 2-hour non-stop Southwest flight to Orlando was very restful, and here again the peanuts and pretzels were fresh. DiVoran picked me up at the airport, and we had dinner just north of the airport at Sonny’s BBQ, right there on SR-436.

 

 

Then we made the short trip home to Titusville. Boy did it feel good to pull into our driveway and know I was going to be sleeping in my own bed tonight. I love going on these trips, and getting to see all the different parts of our wonderful country, but it is always nice to get home where everything is familiar and I don’t have to live out of a suitcase.

 

 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this trip as much as I have writing about it. I invite you to join me to read about my next trip to new and different places, and where I may even meet some new and exciting people.

 

“Take me on your next trip Daddy”

—–The End—–

One of the many sites I was looking forward to seeing were the large herds of Buffalo that I had seen portrayed on TV documentaries in recent years. As it turned out, after driving almost 4000 miles through these six states, I never saw the first live Buffalo. Not even when I visited the National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, ND! I saw a lot of stuffed Buffalo in museums along the way, but not a single live one. What a bummer!

Road Trip~Denver, Colorado to Rocky Mountain National Park

21 Dec

On the Porch

Onisha Ellis

 

Day 8 September 14, 2017

We got up early, excited to pick up our daughter and family friend, Pam at the airport and begin this portion of our trip. Our daughter’s home was still without electricity in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma so Rebekah had made arrangements for her cat, Mia, to stay with Pam’ daughter until the power came back on. She had managed to shift the food in her freezer to another friend’s home that had electricity and room for the food.

 

 

Arriving flights at the Denver airport was frustrating as they would not let us stop the car long enough for our party to get their luggage and walk to our meet us. I feel like they were going to arrest me for asking for an extra minute! However, we finally connected and headed off to find some breakfast and coffee for the travelers who had to be at the Orlando airport at 3 am.

Once we were caffeinated we set our GPS for Rocky Mountain National Park and began our Colorado adventure .The drive to Estes Park situated at the entrance to the park would take somewhere between one and one half to two hours.

 

A cute town, but enjoying nature was our goal today. Attribution: Frans-Banja Mulder

 

From the National Park website:

Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect spectacular mountain environments. Enjoy Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet including many overlooks to experience the subalpine and alpine worlds – along with over 300 miles of hiking trails, wildflowers, wildlife, starry nights, and fun times. In a world of superlatives, Rocky is on top!

At one stop we saw this gorgeous bird in a tree. Rebekah took a few shots of it. Does anyone know what type of bird it is? It looks like a type of Jay to me.

 

That smile won’t last long on this trip!

 

One of our first stops was to explore a boardwalk. As Rebekah, Pam and I strolled down the walk, Rebekah began to feel queasy. It seems the combination of altitude change from sea level to over 10.000 feet was not settling well. It is possible the day and nights of Florida heat with no air conditioning weakened her body’s ability to adjust.

 

Looking a little pale

 

I thought maybe lunch would perk her up so we began to look for a picnic area. Every time we found one, it was full. Finally we turned down a side road that lead to a horse camp. It was closed for the season and we had the whole area to ourselves!

 

 

As we drove higher in the mountains, we reached a tundra like area. Pretty even in its bareness. The views from there were lovely.

 

 

Rebekah was too nauseous to leave the car and spent the rest of the drive with her head down, resting her forehead on the back of the front seat. She gave me her camera and asked me to video the scenery she was missing.  Pam was a trooper. It can’t have been fun to ride next to someone who was being sick.

Colorado fall is famous for its Aspen trees. We assumed we were too early for the color but there were several patches scattered across the mountains.

 

 

 

It had been a long day for our Florida folks, so we decided to skip one of the other drives in the park. We made it back to our hotel in Denver in time to have supper at the welcome buffet. Rebekah  retired to her room with tea and crackers.

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 14

20 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

 

 

Day 14 (Thursday)

 

Today I started off heading east on I-80 to visit the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles located in Lexington, NE. This museum has an amazing collection of over 100 beautifully restored military vehicles, of all types from all military services, housed in a huge hanger and outside.  There is also a large number of displays of weapons, uniforms, engines, and other military equipment.

 

 

Next on the list today as I continued east on I-80 was a visit to the Chevyland USA Museum located in the middle of a cornfield just south of Elm Creek, NE. This is a one-man classic car and motorcycle museum, collected, owned, and operated by Monte Hollertz. Monte says he started collecting his cars in 1972 after he read the book titled “60 Years of Chevys” and just kept on collecting. The problem is, he has collected some 100 cars and motorcycles, and parked them and that is all. They are mostly in the same condition they were when he parked them in his museum building. Also, the lighting is poor, which is not good for taking photos.

 

 

Just 15 miles east on US-30, I visited the Classic Car Collection located on the east side of Kearney, NE. WOW! What a difference over the last museum! This collection of over 200 beautifully restored and displayed classic cars, dating from the early 1900’s to the present, is one of the best of its type I’ve seen. The displays are well positioned and well lighted so the visitor has a chance to get good photos of the collection. It’s hard to leave a collection or museum that is so well presented.

 

 

While I was in Kearney, I decided to visit the Trails & Rails Railroad Museum located just to the west of SR-44, on the south edge of town. This museum is situated in the restored 1898 Shelton Union Pacific Railroad Depot, and consists of artifacts and memorabilia related to the history of the great transportation routes that passed thru the local area over the years. The museum also has a restored 1903 Baldwin Steam Engine #481 with flat car and caboose.

 

 

Back on I-80, I headed east again to visit the Pioneer Village Museum located just north of Minden, NE at the intersection of US-34 & SR-10. This 20 acre museum complex consists of 28 buildings that display over 50,000 item dating from the 1830’s to the present. As part of the Village Complex, there are also restored frontier buildings, early automobiles, airplanes, tractors and a variety of other farm equipment, a motel and campground. Way too much to see all at one time.

 

 

I got back on I-80, heading east and got off at exit 312, and north on US-34/281 to visit the Stuhr Pioneer Village located in Grand Island, NE. This is another frontier village type museum, located on 207 acres, with several areas of interest. There is a pioneer settlement consisting of eight 1850’s log structures. There is also a Railroad Town where living historians. dressed in period costumes, tell you all about how it was to live and work there in 1897. There is also a 38-foot diameter replica of a 1830’s Pawnee earthen lodge showing where as many as 50 people would have lived. Here again, this was another case where there was just too much to see in such a spread out area, so this museum got a “hit and miss” visit from me today.

 

 

Next I stopped by to check out the Nebraska National Guard Museum in Seward, NE to see if they had any airplane displays, but they were closed. So, while I was there in Seward, even though it was getting late in the day, I looked up Whisler Aviation located at the Seward Municipal Airport, but their hanger was also closed.

 

 

I thought I would try the Lincoln Airport to see if I could catch a glimpse of at least one airplane today, before I headed for my motel for the night. The Lincoln Air National Guard Base shares the airport facilities, but Greta couldn’t find their address for me. However, God was good to me, allowing me to see one of the most unusual airplanes I would ever have expected. It was located at the entrance to the Lincoln Airport. I couldn’t believe my eyes! But there it was, perched on its pedestal, in all its simplistic beauty. I just had to stop and take a photo. I’m sure you can see why.

 

 

After getting checked into my motel for the evening, I sat back, relaxed and tried to watch TV while I enjoyed leftover El Paraiso Mexican food. Of course there was nothing on the TV worth watching, but the leftovers were a treat.

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

 

 

 

 

 

 

America’s North Country Trip~Part 13

13 Dec

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

 

 

 

Day 13 (Wednesday)

 

This morning I headed east on I-80,across the border into Nebraska, to visit my first museum, the Mansion on the Hill Museum located in Ogallala, NE. This is the restored 1887 Victorian residence of former Opallala banker, H. L. Williams, and his family. The museum is beautifully furnished with original period furnishings, and includes a servant quarters. Other buildings on the premises include a 1902 one-room school house and an early 1900 homestead dwelling.

 

 

Just around the corner and up the street, I checked out the Boot Hill Cemetery there in Ogallala. Buried there are people from all walks of life, who found themselves in Ogallala, NE (Cowboy Capital) at the end of their life for whatever reason. RIP.

 

 

Now I headed east on I-80 again, and was hoping that Greta could help me find the Buffalo Bill Ranch located on the west side of North Platte, NE. The original Second Empire style home was built in 1886, and resides on what is now the 25 acre Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Park (also known as Scout’s Rest Ranch) adjacent to Scout Creek. The house is furnished with period furnishings, and includes servant’s quarters, an ice house, and a large barn.

 

 

As I headed toward North Platte, I stopped to visit the Lincoln County Historical Museum & Village, located just south of the North Platte River. This was another frontier village type museum, located on 8-acres, with a main building displaying local central Nebraska historical artifacts and memorabilia. There is also a restored early 1800’s “Main Street” town with several period buildings including; general store, schoolhouse church, blacksmith shop, and barn.

 

 

While I was in the area, just south a couple of miles, I visited the Golden Spike Museum & Baily Yard. The museum was an unusually shaped 8-story structure that gave the visitor a grand view of the huge “Baily Yard” operated by the Union Pacific Railroad. I had seen many very long coal trains during this trip, and I asked the tour guide how long the trains were. He said, “From 125 to 145 cars. We have a length restriction of 8-miles.” I was stunned, and asked him why 8-miles and he said, “Because the sidings are only 9-miles long, and the train has to fit on the siding.” Then I asked him how much coal each car could carry, and said, “Each car can carry 100 tons of coal, and each coal car weighs 20 tons.”  I did the math. WOW! What a load!   What did you get? I guess that’s why there are two diesel engines pulling and two diesel engines pushing those long coal trains across the open plains.

 

 

 

Now I headed across the north part of North Platte to visit the Cody Park Railroad Museum located just north of the North Platte River. This is a small museum with local Union Pacific artifacts and memorabilia in the restored train depot, and the only Challenger 3900 series steam locomotive on public display. The museum also has several nicely restored items of rolling stock attached to the locomotive.

 

 

Greta took me on U.S.83 south thru the city, across the South Platte River back toward I-80 to visit the Fort Cody Trading Post. This looked to me like nothing more than a big tourist trap, so I took a couple of photos and was on my way east on I-80.

 

 

I had picked up a brochure for a Pony Express station museum somewhere along the way on this trip, and planned to stop and check it out now if time permitted. I took the #211 exit off I-80, turned north across the North Platte River, into the city of Gothenburg, NE. I found the Pony Express Station Museum on the south edge of Ehmen Park in the middle of town. The museum was a restored one-room log cabin that had originally been used as a fur trading post and ranch house before being used as a Pony Express Station in 1860 – 1861.

 

 

The curator gave me a lot of information about the Pony Express that I had never known. First of all, I had no idea that the Pony Express was only in operation for 19 months in 1860-1861. Started by three business men in 1860, it was initially called the Leavenworth & Pike’s Peak Express Company, and provided “fast” (10 days) mail service between St. Joseph Missouri and Sacramento, California. The approximately 1900 mile route consisted of 120 riders, 157 Pony Express stations (spaced every 10 miles), 400 horses, and was manned by several hundred men. The express rider would stop at each station, change to a fresh horse, taking only the mail pouch called a mochila (Spanish for pouch) with him. The mochila was thrown over the saddle and held in place by the weight of the rider sitting on it.  The mochila could carry 20 lbs. of mail in four pockets (two on each side) that would be padlocked.

 

 

The initial price was $5.00 per ½ ounce to send mail by the Pony Express route. The transcontinental telegraph (Telegraph Act, authorized by congress in 1860) completed in 1861, put an end to the Pony Express, and it is said the investors lost over $200,000 (1860 dollars) during the short period of time their mail service system was in operation.

 

 

After that informative stop, I told Greta it was time to find my motel for the night, located down the road a ways in Cozad, NE. She did a good job, and before I knew it, I was there and checked in. The desk clerk informed me that there were very few restaurants in town that he could recommend, and directed me toward the ones he thought best. I looked them over and selected the El Paraiso Mexican Restaurant, where I had one of the best combination plates of chili relleno, enchilada and taco dinner I’ve had in a long time. Yummm!

 

 

—–To Be Continued—–

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