California Adventures

From Sea to Shining Sea!

We returned from our Southeast Asia trip on November 12, 2018. While traveling, David accepted a job with the Terra Nova Technology Company based in San Diego, CA. We knew that we would not have long at home…just about enough time to get organized to drive across the country so David could begin his job after the first of the new year.

We were in Maine for a month which was long enough to buy a used 2015 Honda CR-V to drive to CA. We decided that although our Honda Accord has really great trunk space, it still wasn’t big enough for the 3 large duffle bags and two small suitcases we were planning to bring. Plus, I wanted to leave the car in Maine so we would have a vehicle when we went home.

Tuesday, December 11th was the departure day. We packed the car and headed out. It was a blue-sky-kind-of-day! In Worcester, MA, the traffic came to a complete standstill on I-495. Fortunately, we were close enough to see why we had stopped…it was for the “Wreaths Across America” convoy that was heading to Arlington National Cemetery to place wreaths, made by the Worcester Wreath Company in Harrington, Maine.

This truck was part of several that were heading to Washington DC. Traffic was stopped to allow the convoy to enter the interstate. Although I am not certain, I believe that they had stopped in Worcester to place wreaths on the veteran’s graves before continuing onto Arlington National Cemetery.

Coming from Maine, I am very proud of the efforts made by the Worcester Wreath Company to honor veterans, over the holidays, by placing wreaths on their graves.

This tradition has been going on since 1992 when Morrill Worcester, owner of the Worcester Wreath Company, had a surplus of wreaths. As a young boy, he delivered the Bangor Daily News and through a contest, won a trip to Washington DC. That trip left an impression on the 12 year old. As he grew into a successful businessman, he always remembered that the success of his business was due to the sacrifices veterans had made.

When he had the surplus of wreaths, he decided it was time to honor the country’s veterans and made arrangements to place the wreaths on the graves at Arlington National Cemetery.

For about 13 years, this tribute quietly happened. In 2005, this photo started circulating the internet.

After the photo went viral, people started writing to Mr. Worcester to thank him, share their stories, make a donation, request to help with the Arlington National Cemetery project, or inquire how they might be able to get wreaths laid at their State or National cemeteries. Slowly, the project took on a new life. In 2006, wreaths were sent to 150 different locations throughout the states to be laid in simultaneous wreath ceremonies. In 2007, the Wreaths Across America non-profit was formed. By 2014, the goal to lay a wreath at the 226,252 graves in Arlington was reached.

What we saw on December 11 was the tradition continuing. The “Veteran’s Honor Parade” happens every year down the east coast with stops along the way in different communities, veterans homes, schools and monuments to remind people how important it is to Remember, Honor and Teach, which is the mission of the non-profit. I have only touched on some of this organization’s accomplishments, I encourage you to visit the Wreaths Across America webpage – to learn more.

Back when we were first married, taking road trips throughout the United States was part of David’s job. The minute we said “I do,” we were transferred to Atlanta, GA. Our honeymoon was spent driving from Maine to Georgia. This trip reminded us of that time in our lives but to be honest with you, we were a little rusty on the navigating…..even with our GPS. Early in the trip, we made a couple of wrong turns but as time went on, we got better.

Passing through Pennsylvania, we passed by Amish communities and saw the children playing in a schoolyard. Also in Pennsylvania, I was sadly reminded of the abundance of deer that state has as we passed by the dead deer lying on the side of the road.

After driving 438 miles, we spent our first night in Hazelton, PA. Day 2, December 12, we were on the road around 8:00. This must have been a fairly nondescript day as I didn’t make any notes or take any pictures. I did take this one…

I thought it would be fun to take the “Welcome” sign as we passed into each state. If it wasn’t for the name of the governor on the sign, I never would have known what state it was for….Governor Kasich is from Ohio…so this was leaving Pennsylvania and going into Ohio.

This was the sunset that greeted us in the Hampton Inn parking lot on our second night. We traveled 548 miles and stayed in Richmond, Indiana.

Day 3, Thursday, December 13, was dreary and rainy as you can see when I snapped the picture of the Gateway Arch in St Louis, MO.

The Gateway Arch is part of the National Park Service and is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson for opening up the West and for the pioneers who braved the unknown to shape our country.

With the weather as it was, it was a long day of traveling and after driving 530 miles, we stopped in Springfield, MO.

Friday, December 14, was our fourth day of traveling and we stopped to see a long-time friend of mine, Jim Parrish who lives outside of Joplin, MO. We arranged to meet him at the Denny’s in Joplin and have breakfast together.

Jim and I worked together in the Dominican Republic in the 1980s and have kept in touch over the years. When David and I lived in Beatrice, NE we had a visit with Jim in 2005. It was good to see him after such a long time. I just hope it isn’t another 13 years before we have another visit.

After we left Jim and Missouri, we crossed into Oklahoma. It was there that we started seeing signs for the historic Rt 66. I don’t quite know why we didn’t see signs before Oklahoma as we were actually following it from St Louis.

There were a couple of other signs on the interstate that piqued my interest. One said, “Hitchhikers might be escaped convicts.” Hmmmmm!!! The other said, “Don’t drive through smoke.” I still don’t quite understand that one unless they have severe grass fires and don’t want people to attempt to drive through the smoke with zero visibility.

I had forgotten how long the trains are out west. They go on forever and ever! It had been 12 years since we left Nebraska and since then, we really haven’t been anywhere out West.

As we continued along, Oklahoma, we started to see more wind farms. I imagine that the flat plains are a good place for wind turbines as there is little to interrupt the flow of the wind.

This was our sunset view with the wind farm along the interstate. Our goal for this day was Amarillo, TX. We made it after driving 545 miles.

Day 5 – Saturday morning, December 15, was going to be a long day. We really wanted to make good time so we could arrive in San Diego on Sunday afternoon and not late in the day. We got on the road around 7:30…I think, and headed west on I-40 straight across New Mexico to Flagstaff and then took Rt 17 south to Phoenix. Passing through New Mexico, we saw a Christmas tree decorated on the side of the interstate. A nice reminder that Christmas was right around the corner.

Flying C Ranch Truck Stop, Encino, NM

It was pretty desolate across New Mexico. This truck stop was in Encino which is about 75 miles east of Albuquerque. It was an interesting place with lots of Mexican and Native American art, taxidermied animals like a grizzly bear, buffalo and a Dairy Queen if you are hungry. We took a break to wander around and stretch our legs.

I believe it was in Albuquerque that we saw the snowman made out of tumbleweed….a first for us! Then we made it to the Arizona border…

The scenery wasn’t much to look at until we got to Flagstaff. The landscape in Arizona is diverse. Flagstaff is in the San Francisco Peaks Mountain Range. The highest mountain is Humphrey’s Mountain at 12,633 ft high. We saw snow and pine trees while passing through this area.

San Francisco Peak in Flagstaff with snow.

When we started south, towards Phoenix, it was all downhill and the sun was setting.

After driving 722 miles, we made it to Anthem, AZ which is just on the outskirts of Phoenix. It was good to stop driving and get out of the car. I cannot remember the exact time we arrived but I think it was between 7:30 and 8:00.

Sunday morning, December 16 we were excited! We were only 5 1/2 hours from our destination of Ocean Beach, San Diego. After driving all week, this seemed like a hop, skip and a jump!

Oh my! How the scenery had changed since the mountains of Flagstaff. We were back in the desert again. The saguaro cacti that Arizona is known for were everywhere. Heading out of Anthem we saw 6 hot air balloons. They were very pretty against the bright blue sky!

California!!! The Gila Mountains near Yuma, CA just as you cross over the border from Arizona.

We were very happy to finally reach California but the next second, we were kind of bummed as a rock came flying into our windshield and cracked it 😐! Welcome to California! Fortunately, it wasn’t too deep and we were able to repair it and not have to replace the whole windshield. (The glass is always half-full, right πŸ˜‰.)

Continuing along, we passed massive sand dunes and……
real rocky terrain!!
Passing the Lake Moreno area, we saw several paraglider. It reminded us of the time we did it in Lima, Peru!

At around 2:30, we arrived at our destination…Ocean Beach, California. We had made it and arrived it safely!

Ocean Beach and the pier, San Diego, California

3 thoughts on “California Adventures

  1. You two *never* lack for adventure, Sharalyn! Enjoyed your illustrated narrative, as always. David and I took photos of the welcome sign in each state as we drove from NH to FL. A fun way to record the journey. Hope you are enjoying San Diego! Xo

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