Priceless Products and Packaging: Truck Stop Treasures

Nebraska. This flatland is actually quite pretty.

Nebraska. This flatland is anything but plain.

Eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Southern Minnesota, USA:  December 2014

One may think that driving through the flat land of Eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Southern Minnesota could be a mind and butt numbing prospect, I’m not going to lie. There are some stretches that certainly induce a conscious coma. However, someone dreading this drive in a minivan with the family during winter around the holidays simply isn’t looking at the positives.

Positive One: Reading! Kurt, my husband, decided to drive the entire route on Day 1, so I caught up on my reading, Marco Polo Didn’t Go There by Rolf Potts. It was quite pleasant, actually, at least for me. Additionally, I tweaked my knee after falling while skiing two days before our road trip (more to come on that in another post), so I had no choice but to stay off it while in a car.

The snow blizzard ghosts can be quite hypnotic.

The snow blizzard ghosts can be quite hypnotic.

Positive Two: Ground Blizzard Ghosts.  Also, when driving through Nebraska, you can enjoy the swirling of mini ground blizzards. The light snow churns up in whirls and patterns, and as a nerdy English teacher, I can’t help but think of Henry David Thoreau and a passage from Walden:

For the first week, whenever I looked out on the pond it impressed me like a tarn high up on the side of a mountain, its bottom far above the surface of other lakes, and, as the sun arose, I saw it throwing off its nightly clothing of mist, and here and there, by degrees, its soft ripples or its smooth reflecting surface was revealed, while the mists, like ghosts, were stealthily withdrawing in every direction into the woods, as at the breaking up of some nocturnal conventicle.

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Travel Ahh….Lakes

A pine tree hides Lake Minerva in Danbury, Wisconsin.

A pine tree hides Lake Minerva in Danbury, Wisconsin.

Hailing originally from Minnesota — the Land of 10,000 Lakes — I have a thing for water, especially lakes. There’s nothing like zenning out while sitting on the dock of a still lake and listening to the occasional waves lap the side of a pontoon boat.

This is a collection of lake photos I’ve take in the past year. Some of the shots are of reservoirs, which are not the same, in my opinion, but they are still bodies of beautiful water.

Sand Lake at dusk in Salida, CO

Sand Lake at dusk in Salida, CO

Sand Lake, Salida, Colorado, USA.

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The Travel Ahh…Bridges

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser 2011

I love bridges. They are artistic, functional and symbolic.  Just the idea of connecting two places along with a way to further travel is enough reason for me to appreciate bridges. It must have started for me at an early age because grew up in Eden Prairie, MN, USA. It was the town with the Graffiti Bridge, after which rocker Prince named his 1990 movie and album. The following are photos from my travels, and the majority are pictures of structures found in the United States, Europe and Australia. One of my travel goals is to take photos of bridges in Africa, South America and more from Asia.

Above is the Hood River Bridge that spans over the Columbia River from Hood River Oregon and White Salmon, Washington.

© Edward Schuck

© Edward Schuck 2004

Prague, Czech Republic. Prague has the bridges — here’s the Charles Bridge, which is sort of sandwiched in between two other bridges. It is a very recognizable landmark.

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Friday Funny Sign — You gotta stop for “The World’s Largest Hand Dug Well”

© Edward Schuck 1993

Greensburg, Kansas. The marketing department of “Big Well” has done their job (do I dare say they’ve done it “well?”) Signs indicating and promoting “The World’s Largest Hand Dug Well” line US Route 54 in Kansas. Of course, there is not much to compete with along that stretch of highway.

In 1993, my dad, Ed, and I were roadtripping to California from Minnesota and kept seeing these signs. Finally, we had to stop. Why not? It’s the World’s Largest Hand Dug Well!! (Actually, there are wells in Egypt and Italy that really vie for that title.)  Dug in the 1880’s, “Big Well” is 109 feet deep, and in 2008, was named one of the “Eight Wonders of Kansas” (www.bigwell.org). And, also at the SAME site, you can see a meteorite on display.

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Gimme Shelter — Colorful Colorado Mountain Community

© Stephanie Glaser

Crested Butte, CO. Although the silver and coal miners didn’t pick the pretty colors, they built some cute buildings back in the day. (And, surely, they referred to them as “cute.”) Colorado mining towns make me smile. Their historic districts, many of which have been restored, offer nostalgia and postcard ready photos.

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The Friday Funny Sign: South Park is a Real Place and Cartman Doesn’t Live Here

© Stephanie Glaser

I can’t imagine why Fairplay, Colorado would want to clarify that this area is the REAL South Park. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the animated Comedy Central show “South Park,” based the setting of the show on the town of Fairplay and some of the other small communities in Park County, CO.

Despite the success of the show and the cult-like following, it doesn’t seem like some of the Fairplay rresidents are avid fans. It’s not all that surprising since the show features some biting satire about small town mountain living. Consequently, this sign above is prominently displayed at one of the main junctions off of Highway 285.

The Travel Ahh…A pink bike

© Stephanie Glaser

St. Maarten. Kurt and I were wandering around the island and saw this father teaching his daughter how to ride a pink bike. There is something universally cute and heartwarming about seeing a kid learning how to ride a bike. I even took this photo before I became truly sappy since having my own kids.

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The Friday Funny Sign — Everlasting “Ever Green” Directions

© Stephanie Glaser

Portland, Oregon. I am totally in favor of recycling and reducing our carbon footprints. At the Portland Farmers Market, I was trying very hard not to be an “eco terrorist,” but in the end, I couldn’t figure out where to put a toothpick (from the food samples). Is it compostable? Is it recyclable? Is it rubbish? I could not find “toothpick” listed anywhere. After five minutes reviewing this sign, I basically, just put the source of confusion into my pocket.

The Travel Ahh….

© Stephanie Glaser

As anyone who travels knows, there are missteps, mishaps and misadventures, but then there are those perfect moments when we say: “Yeah, this is why I travel.” A Travel Ahh…

These photos are of aspen trees outside of Aspen, Colorado. Fall colors come early in the mountains of Colorado, and Kurt, the kids and I usually go on a drive to see the trees in their glory. I remember when I first moved to CO, I kept thinking, “This is pretty, but really, is this it? Where are all the other vibrant colors like the bright oranges and reds?” 

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Hiking the “Mountain Goat Gauntlet” in Colorado

The trail meant only for hooves.
© Stephanie Glaser

As I looked back at the mountainside “trail” I had just clung to and shimmied along, I decided that it was meant only for hooves — either hooves of mountain goats or hooves of some demonic creature. This was the “Hike to Hell.” At certain points, the path just blended in with the crags and ridges of the mountain and appeared to be completely sheer.

While making my way, I hugged any jutting rock cluster, trying to ignore the fact that when small rocks became dislodged and fell, you did not hear them land. Occasionally, you would hear one skitter down the side for a few feet and then there was nothing but silence.

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