The writer in me is always on the lookout for clever phrases and names as we travel, and I added quite a few to my list on our recent trip. But I didn't see anything that topped these two favorites, which are both close to home, and both dog-related:
  • Dog training business near Poulsbo: Teacher's Pet
  • Dog grooming shop in Kent: Soggy Doggy


Truck farms

We're heading to the lake this morning, on what promises to be the hottest weekend of the summer. First thing on the agenda was breakfast at one of Kent's landmark (albeit out-of-the-way) restaurants, Mom's Kitchen. Mom's was once in downtown Kent, but is now on the south end of town, just before you cross the Green River into Auburn. The river makes a huge bend right here, contorting itself into a future oxbow (and oxbow lake), but unless you look at a map, you'd never know it. The road doesn't follow the river here, but heads straight south through fields of lettuce and corn. Dairy cows graze here, too... one of the last remaining commercial dairies is just on the other side of the valley.

Our route to the freeway took us past one of the last remaining truck farms in the valley, and it was a busy place this morning. The Mountain was out, the skies were blue, the irrigation was pumping, workers were cutting lettuce to load into waiting trucks, and a lone tractor was working the rows.

Everything was perfect for taking photos, so we couldn't resist turning around. Dave dropped me off on the side of the road, then found a tiny driveway to put the truck into. He walked one way, and I walked the other, and we spent a half hour photographing the farm in the midst of harvest.


Mt. Holly's Head Start

We're glad we took our time getting down the length of Mississippi. Old cemeteries, plantation houses, historical markers everywhere. Not being a student of the War Between the States, except for knowing that I have ancestors who fought in the war, I never realized that Mississippi was the site of many battles, because of its location on the river.

Today we turned onto a road simply because of its name: Lake Washington. I grew up above the large Lake Washington in Washington state, and had a view of it for much of my life. So we just had to turn and see what this lake Washington looked like, and got our second pleasant surprise of the day: antebellum homes.

We stopped dead in the road when we spotted this huge brick house, then pulled into the overgrown driveway and we walked up for a closer look. It had a brass plaque with the original plantation name and a bit of history; the house was built in 1856, just a few years before the war began.

The house has fallen into ruin, but there are signs of work being done here. Maybe just to shore it up and keep it from getting worse, or is it the start of a true restoration? Either way, the house has a huge head start on the owner… Will he ever catch up?

This really was a fabulous house, in spite of the condition. I wish we could have seen inside. Most of the glass was gone from the sunroom, and we could see glimpses of the room behind the 9-foot tall french doors that opened out onto the brick floor. There were still drapes hanging in the windows. The brickwork was beautiful, so was the wrought iron filigree detailing.


Geocaching road trips

Geocaching's been a pretty good excuse for traveling the past couple of years, and it's been a blast. We've seen the Georgia and Carolina coast. We've visited the Southwest, and the Rocky Mountains and the Great Plains.

This summer, we traveled throughout the Appalachians and the Deep South. We've visited family and friends, and we're looking forward to seeing more of this beautiful country of ours, and adding more states to our geocaching statistics!

Great Spangled Fritillary

After our brush with the butterfly hatch in Tennessee and North Carolina, wherever I spotted them I tried to capture them on film. We stopped at a neat park that highlighted logging and cooperage history of Missouri, and also had spectacular perennial gardens. And where there are flowers, there are butterflies. We didn't see this variety anywhere else, but they were sure common in Missouri. Gorgeous, isn't it?

Big Spring, Missouri

I smile every time I write this, or show someone the photos I took at this enormous spring, because the name is such an understatement.

It's the largest spring in Missouri, and one of the largest springs in the world. On average, it gushes forth 278 million gallons each day from three outlets along the base of a dolomite cliff. For those who don't want to pull out a calculator, that's 11.6 million gal/hour, and 193,000 gal/sec. The river it spawns is turquoise blue in color, and crystal clear. We came here to do an earthcache, but it was also an excuse to get away from the main highways and explore some back roads in the mountains, on our way through southern Missouri into Arkansas.

Like every day so far, today was hot and humid. So it was nice to be next to the river and spring, and in the shade of the trees.

Filling up the geocaching map

As we left Sikeston Missouri, heading west to the Ozarks, I browsed through what I've written so far on this trip, thinking about what I'll post on my blog once we get home. This is our second long road trip this year, and between the two trips we've managed to see quite a bit of America: on our Miata roadtrip to the Southwest in May, we traveled through Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho (plus Washington). This trip unfortunately not in a Miata) we'll see Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama. Dave can add Florida to the list.

I'm glad I decided to take vacation and go with him to conferences. It's been loads of fun, and something I haven't done for a decade or more. Last year the conference was in Denver, and we did a 9-state road trip afterwards and saw Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wyoming. There's no better way to see our country than from an automobile. I love road trips.

Happy birthday, Anna!


Bell's Tavern - Cave City, Kentucky

We had a few hours to kill before our tour of Mammoth Cave, so we went exploring. We drove back to the highway, and found a cool pre-Civil War tavern in nearby Cave City. All that's left are the rock walls and foundation; the building burned at least twice in its history.

We have a friend in our Miata club who's from this part of the country. He carries the Bell name, and is fascinated by his family history. We think he's probably related to the Bells who lived here. It will cool to find out!

The ruins were beautiful. With the fragile parts destroyed by the fire, you can really see how the building was constructed, the building blocks they used, from huge shaped stones like the lintel over the doorway, to the tiniest bits used to fill in between the larger stones.

Pyramidal Arborvitae

I figured these had to be native somewhere, and today I was very surprised to find out where. As we drove south from Elizabethtown to Mammoth Dave (Central Kentucky), the fields were ringed with beautiful mountain ash trees growing together with pyramidal arborvitae. The two looked good together, the dark dense arborvitae made a good backdrop for the brighter green, lacy leaves of the ash. But to someone used to seeing them grown as hedges (usually overgrown and out of control, as mine always become), they look very odd growing out in the wild.