The test of an adventure is that when you are in the middle of it, you say to yourself, "Oh, now I've got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home." And the sign that something is wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure.-Thornton Wilder
The nice thing about being confused is you get a chance to notice things a lot better than if you knew where you were going.
There were a couple of preserved Pony Express stations along Route 30, the Lincoln Highway. It just made sense that what once was old Indian trails that eventually became pioneer and pony express routes would eventually become a main two lane road linking towns along the way and then ultimately Interstate Highway 80.
The pony express station in Codaz was locked. I guess it was there just to look at.
But I was happy to find the one in Gothenburg was open and full of all types of memorabilia and collectibles from the pioneering and pony express days. The pony express lasted only 18 months when the telegraph and then railroads took over. There were 184 stations along the 1900 mile route from St. Joesph, Missouri to San Francisco, California and each rider did about 75 miles a day, earning $100 a month. Comparable earnings of the time for labor was about a dollar a day.
Unfortunately I got to talking with the curator and completely forgot to take any pictures inside except for this one. I did not know that there were locked compartments on the saddles for the mail. I just thought they used saddle bags for the mail. Only the postmasters in St. Joseph and San Francisco had keys to the locks. It cost $5 for a half ounce letter which equates to about $55 plus dollars today. Amazingly the price dropped to a $1 per half ounce toward the end of the pony express existence.
The man on the right is the curator, a retired school teacher from Gothenburg high school. A very nice man who was passionate about the history to his town and the pony express station.
I had this on my list of things to see and wasn't expecting much. But when I found it, it truly became one of my all time gems of the unusual things I seek out in America. This may not be a mural in the true sense but I wanted to share it with you anyway.
The girl stands 16 feet tall and is made from plywood by artist John Cerney in 1999.
Unfortunately I was there in the early morning hours and the sun was behind here. I had to really brighten up the image a lot at the cost of the overall scenery just so you could see her facial expression. That is her shredded Teddy Bear she is holding up to inspection of her Dalmatian.
After leaving the mosquitoes behind me I settled down to a more leisurely pace for the return hike out. Going in I was like a little boy in a toy store so excited to be someplace new that I tended to rush through it. Coming back I was able to calm down and enjoy things I did not take the time to on the way in.
I think this is the same plant I photographed going in only now it is from the other side.
Amazing how these bromeliads are able to take hold and live on a branch like this.
Hey pal, there's a hoard of mosquitoes for you about a mile back up the trail.
And then there was this guy making the best out of the unfortunate situation he was placed in.
One day we took a dirt road that looped through Everglades National Park and came upon a trailhead. Wow, I'll never get an opportunity like this again I thought. There was no indecision. I pulled over and parked, got my hiking gear together, said good-bye to Sinbad and took off.
No other cars were parked there so I knew I would be in it all by myself. I was really excited about exploring an environment totally new to me, but I did have this lingering thought of alligators, cottonmouth and water moccasin snakes and there were Florida Panthers too, oh my!
Let's see I have water, some trail food, my hat and long sleeve shirt for sun protection...oops, no insect repellent. Oh, I'll be fine. Gee, I have no friends either. Travel itinerary? I don't even know where I am going. Oh well...I'm off (but not by much).
The first portion of the trail was like this. That is hard limestone.
This could be a real ankle twister.
Then it changed into this with these pointy stumps sticking up all over. This was fine here but when the growth became real dense with no sunlight coming through well yeah, I tripped a few times.
I was fascinated with these air plants.
This was one of the better specimens to photograph as it was in the sun and had more flowers to it.
Another open in-the-sun space where you can see these bromeliads all over on the trees.
I guess in the wet season this trail can really be interesting to hike on.
Think alligators and water moccasins. Yep, real interesting.
This section of trail was about as swampy as it got for as far as I went in. You can see how the logs to the left are arranged so one can walk on them and stay out of the goop. Yep, a hiking stick like the lady above has would have come in handy here.
Around a mile and a half in I finally found an alligator and not right away either. It was in a real dark section and I was goofing around looking at something overhead when I eventually saw him about 20 feet away. Good grief! If he were right by the trail I probably still would not have seen him until I was missing a leg. So I thought this a great opportunity to get a selfie using the iPhone with the alligator right off from my shoulder. Try as I did I couldn't get the darn camera to set the exposure open enough for how dark it was in there and none of the pictures turned out. So with my point and shoot I got this, and even it had trouble with the darkness as it is blurry from camera shake. I think maybe my heart was still pumping at above normal pace.
All I had to show for my efforts while trying to get the selfie were numerous mosquito bites. The skeeters descended upon me like a plague once I stopped moving. That was it! I ran back up the trail a ways hoping to leave the mosquitoes behind (I did...kind of) and decided to head on back.
There is a little story behind this photo. We had stayed the night at a very nice campground named Buccaneer State Park. In no hurry to leave in the morning I took advantage of the nice facilities they had taking another shower in the morning before pulling out. I also checked the oil in The Little House on the Highway before leaving. I was quite surprised that it took two quarts. I must be more aware of that for the rest of the trip. We left and I was driving real slow along the beachfront when an engine warning light suddenly came on...an oil can symbol. Huh? I'd not seen this before and pulled over to check the owners manual as to what this symbol meant. Too much oil in engine. Damage to engine may occur. Egads, how can this be? I checked the dip stick - yep, way too much!
Oh I could write pages as to what was going through my mind at the time as to how this could have happened and just how was I going to get this excess oil out of the motor. I drove inland a couple miles praying the motor wouldn't self-destruct and found an vacant lot in a sketchy neighborhood. I dug a Styrofoam Chinese take-out container out from a trash can (dumping out the left over chow mein) and very carefully loosened the oil drain plug yet leaving it in place so as the oil could dribble out into the take-out container. I filled the container three times. The first time all went well. The next two times not so. As careful as I tried to be with the hot motor oil, the Mississippi soil this day has a small oil spill in it. The oil drain plug got too hot to hold, it slipped and I had too warm for comfort motor oil running down my arm. So much for that morning shower. Finally I had the oil level correct, put tools and rug to lay on away, and a half roll of oily paper towels and rags into the trash can. I then tried to clean myself up the best I could after discovering my shop hand cleaner had long since dried up with only a thin film on the bottom of the tub remaining. I still felt dirty not to mention being thoroughly soaked with sweat from the humid Mississippi air.
I then had the bright idea to drive back the ten or so miles back to the campground and take another shower. Being at it was still well before check-out time they let me right on in thinking this California Boy just went out for a little morning drive to enjoy the coast. Yeah right. So the above photo is me later having lunch along the Mississippi beach front, by myself, thinking what a stupid thing I had just done and how I barely got away with it. What next?
A 6.0 earthquake hit at 3:20 am this morning, centered 20 miles east of us in Napa. Having been through a couple of these in my life my first words were "This is bad" thinking it may be centered in San Francisco. Instead it was north of San Francisco Bay.
Pictures on the walls are askew with one leaping to the floor. A few cabinet doors opened and some books on shelves decided to lie down. Sinbad was in bed with me and he bolted - to where, I don't know. The shaking stop after what I suspect about 5 seconds (time moves real slow during an earthquake, believe me) and he soon returned for some consolation.
An early report with pictures of damage in downtown historical district of Napa can be seen here.
So, on with my day. I am off to go watch the Santa Rosa Marathon runners this morning. Just another day in California.
Oh, and in case you are wondering, I'll still take our earthquakes any day over your tornadoes and hurricanes, no question about it. I've seen up close the effects of what tornadoes and hurricanes do. No thanks!
This was a nice campground just north of the Mexico border. The mountains in the distance is Mexico.
I kind of wanted to stay an extra day but then I was antsy about moving on too. I get that way early on in a road trip; always excited to see what is around the bend in the road and over the next hill. If we are ever in the bottom of New Mexico again, I'll make a point of staying here.
Can you spot The Little House on the Highway?
My first post at the time using the iPhone and an app while on the road.