2 Doors Down

How about some excellent food while in Cheyenne, Wyoming?  The 2 Doors Down restaurant in downtown has a local hospitality combined with atmosphere and taste that rivals any five-star eatery. 

We sampled some of the popular items such as the burger, hotdogs and onion rings.  Delicious. 

Oh!  Try the cinnamon rolls too.  They are popular and mouth-watering. 

Management at 2 Doors Down says they are serious about making burgers just the way we like it.  Any burger on the menu can be made with “hand-cut, never frozen, specially seasoned beef, grilled or breaded chicken breast, tender salmon fillet, or a surprisingly tasty, carnivore-approved 100% vegetarian burger.”

The serving team takes pride in checking on the tables for anything needed. 

More information is available on their website at http://www.2doorsdown.net/, including why they are called 2 Doors Down. 

Sanford’s Grub & Pub is across the street from 2 Doors Down. They caught my attention with this truck bed hanging from the entrance. I’m sure it’s a great place to enjoy as well.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Iron Horse

Locomotive on display in Wyoming Welcome Center

Wheels roll, full steam ahead, though not too fast

Metal clanging, chugging, pulling struggles behind

The iron moves, clinging to track unfurled, whistles with blast

Past the horse, natural worker, attached by family, farm and beauty.

Now is beauty full of metal – stronger, no need to eat or rest

Only controlled by owner, feeding water, fuel and direction

Iron horse arrives, relieving hooves that tracked the countryside

Antique work wagon at Dubois, WY museum

It pulls its load, no complaint, no holding back, no need to force the struggle

I’m thankful for the iron horse, the progress through life, achievements to ease the burdens.

I’m thankful for the horse, its beauty, natural flow of free spirit and life, its willingness to carry the load.

Horses and stable at Grand Tetons, WY

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Journey west

Example of conveniences developed for western travelers. (Display at Wyoming Welcome Center)

Can you imagine the journey west as the pioneers and settlers traveled thousands of miles from the eastern U.S. to explore the west, looking for further freedom to claim land, pursue their dreams and establish homes with families?

Native American lives were impacted greatly as the frontier was being explored by those seeking better lives. Let’s not forget their struggles and desires to live peacefully and pursue their dreams as well.

Tipi at the Wyoming Welcome Center

Imagine the hardships, rocky terrain, streams, wildlife and challenges along the way. Many lost their lives. Many fell short of their dreams. Many arrived. Many fulfilled their dreams.

Persevere!

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Settling or camping?

Wagon on display at Wyoming Welcome Center

Isn’t it interesting how years ago when the western part of the United States was being settled, they had their share of camping. Do early settlers compare with modern campers?

Settlers must have been mobile campers for sure. Wagons filled with commodities, sleeping in the open wild; exploring ever-changing terrain, using gifts of strong and mild.

Camping display at Wyoming Welcome Center

Campers may come and go, explore on foot, motor – through heat and snow.

One is necessary to begin new life, the other for pleasure, to ease the strife.

Explore if we will, love the land, embrace life around, protect life with a zeal.

These thoughts were generated from visiting the Wyoming Welcome Center during a recent visit there.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Fort Morgan along the way

While traveling into Colorado on Interstate 76, one of the stops for the night was at Fort Morgan.  We had dinner at Cables Pub & Grill.

I usually have to work around the menu due to staying on a gluten-free and yeast-free eating regimen.  It’s a challenge sometimes but one has to be creative.  Cables was a pleasant restaurant with ample variety. 

Trip Advisor has good reviews at https://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g33427-Fort_Morgan_Colorado-Vacations.html

I always like to search for something unique wherever I travel.  We didn’t have much time to stay in Fort Morgan so I researched on Wikipedia. 

Fort Morgan began as Camp Wardwell, and was established in 1865 along the Overland Trail to protect emigrants and supplies going to and from Denver, and the mining districts.

The fort was renamed in 1866 by General John Pope for one of his staff, Colonel Christopher A. Morgan, who died earlier that year. 

During our stay I noticed a unique smell in the hotel during the night and wondered what it was.  I discovered we were across the street from the sugar factory.  I didn’t even notice the plant beforehand.  

Naturally, I had to research a little on the factory.  The “Great Western Sugar Factory” was built in 1906.  An early photo and more information is at https://www.cityoffortmorgan.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=2185

I was confused a little as I read about the sugar factory; and then read about sugar beets.  So, does sugar come from beets?  According to Quora.com and Michael Shaw, a plant person, 😊 the typical red beet is certainly different from the white-colored sugar beet. 

Sugar beets are processed to make sugar.  They are not intended to be eaten as a vegetable.  However, they are the same species as garden beets.  More information can be found at https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-difference-between-Beta-vulgaris-and-Sugar-beet

While leaving Fort Morgan, I just had to have a couple of photos of the processing plant.  I would have been interested in taking a tour if I had time along the way.  Still, it’s amazing what we can learn if we take a little time to check things out. 

Also, this I didn’t know: “Today, sugar beets account for HALF of all refined sugar production in the United States, and around 20% of all sugar in the world! Cane sugar and beet sugar are the two processed sweeteners that most of the world’s processed food industries are built upon, ” according to Healthy Home Economist.

The Healthy Home Economist website has additional information about sugar beets.  https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/beet-sugar/.  Do you have any further insight? 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Columbus’ southern culture

Columbus, Mississippi, ever been there?  How about old antebellum houses, downtown stores still preserved over time, some older, some newer; tucked away with rich historical heritage and classic southern architecture, food and hospitality?

Antebellum home in Columbus, Mississippi

Columbus was voted number six in the Best Small Town Cultural Scene category of USA TODAY’s  10 Best Readers’ Choice travel award contest, according to http://www.visitcolumbusms.org/

The Luxapallila and Tombigbee flow effortlessly, picking up the soil saturated beside; many times swelling with the onslaught of rain and outlets that drain.  The bridge sometimes over trouble waters, or with peace below; it often matters. They move beyond, constraints no more, spreading their power, looking for new shore.

Tombigbee River walkway bridge and scenic path in Columbus, MS

The big ditch flows just the same, sometimes low with often overflow.  So peaceful at times, then raging through the vines.

“Big ditch” flooding in Columbus, MS

The 82 and 45 move us along, meandering around, looking for that which wets the mouth; ahh, we found it, not much to see driving swiftly by, but just a little place, wood design, no time to waste.

Old Hickory Steak House on Highway 45 in Columbus, MS

It may not entice you to stop, just looking at the décor; come evening you can tell – it’s special as many come through the door.

The best steak all around, some of the best – tender, juice, tasty and right. Chef prides over coals so hot, sizzling – to the perfection of each one.  While traveling through Columbus on Highway 45, don’t forget to stop by Old Hickory – in the evening it comes alive. 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Reach en pointe

Ballet en pointe demonstrates dedication, hard work, strength and grace to achieve to the highest point. (Ballet Cinderella and Fairy Godmother)

Dance recitals are upon us,

Behold the beauty, grace and flow

Of the rhythm, steady movement,

Labor of love, satisfaction, persistence that only family may know.

Reach above – focus, draw strength from the one who loves.

En pointe desired by one

Who yearns, grows, prepares to reach,

Upward toward the highest,

Rise up, reach for the dream, achieve – I beseech. 

(Images from 2019 “Cinderella” production by Heather Loveland Dance Academy portraying “Cinderella” and the “Fairy Godmother.”)

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

“Our Place” to eat

Half Volkswagon at Our Place, Ozark, Alabama

If you’re traveling through Alabama, U.S.A., near Dothan I think it would be worth a stop at “Our Place” in Ozark, AL, for some good food, nice atmosphere and friendly service.

The pink Volkswagon half is a good eye-catcher as you travel along Highway U.S. 231 in Ozark.

The burgers, hotdogs and onion rings are delightful and tickle the taste buds. Apparently folks in Alabama really like the burgers too as they voted the “Big Bopper” burger as number one in 2018.

https://www.facebook.com/OurPlaceDinerOzark/

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Monarch struggles

Maybe I haven’t taken time to notice but it seems like the butterflies are not as plenteous this year.  I enjoy seeing these graceful forms of creation, and their struggles to become what they were destined to become. 

I’m thinking of what we did for the monarch butterflies during the past two years to help them populate. I prepared a little information and gathered some of our photos as well as video clips. 

Since the lizards enjoy the caterpillars so much I built a crude little vertical, rectangular, screened-in house for the monarchs to munch on milkweed. And, WOW, did they munch. It was amazing how they multiplied. I had a challenge keeping sufficient milkweed plants in their house.

I stopped by Ace Hardware one day and happened to notice this nice, larger, butterfly house. They weren’t selling it but it sure posed some ideas of expansion. Well, back to the growth process.

I think you’ll get a laugh out of the video piece as one monarch can’t get a little piece of leaf off its antennae (tentacles), and the challenge of finding a place to “hang out.” 

We can learn from the butterfly – to not give up but persevere through the challenges.  That’s what I thought when I looked back over my photos and video clips.

The monarchs really enjoy feasting on the milkweed plants, and then they mate.  Females lay their eggs . Caterpillars hatch, feast, chrysalize, and metamorphose into new butterflies, which set off northward toward yet new breeding grounds.

Come fall, the great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren of the original migrants head south, returning to trees that neither their parents nor even their grandparents ever knew.  https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/06/monarch-butterflies/590908/

Apparently many believe the monarch butterflies are the most beautiful of all butterflies, and are considered the “king” of the butterflies, hence the name “monarch.”

Monarch butterflies go through four stages during one life cycle, and through four generations in one year.

The four generations are actually four different butterflies going through these four stages during the year until it is time to start over again with stage one and generation one.

Here is some neat information from https://www.monarch-butterfly.com/.  In March and April the eggs are laid on milkweed plants. They hatch into baby caterpillars, also called larvae. It takes about four days for the eggs to hatch. Then the baby caterpillar doesn’t do much more than eat the milkweed in order to grow.

After about two weeks, the caterpillar will be fully-grown and find a place to attach itself so it can start the process of metamorphosis. It will attach itself to a stem or a leaf using silk and transform into a chrysalis. Although, from the outside, the 10 days of the chrysalis phase seems to be a time when nothing is happening, it is really a time of rapid change.

Within the chrysalis the old body parts of the caterpillar are undergoing a remarkable transformation, called metamorphosis, to become the beautiful parts that make up the butterfly that will emerge.

The monarch butterfly will emerge from the pupa and fly away, feeding on flowers and just enjoying the short life it has left, which is only about two to six weeks. This first generation monarch butterfly will then die after laying eggs for generation number two.

The second generation of monarch butterflies is born in May and June, and then the third generation will be born in July and August. These monarch butterflies will go through exactly the same four-stage life cycle as the first generation did, dying two to six weeks after it becomes a beautiful monarch butterfly.

Let’s enjoy life all around us and take time to think about the butterfly.  They can help us relate to life a little better.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

New Express Lanes – Northeast Florida

I-295 West Beltway express lanes sign reminds travelers southbound to be in the left lanes once they travel over the Buckman Bridge at the St. Johns River.

Northeast Florida has its first “Express Lanes” that opened recently on Interstate 295 (I-295) West Beltway in Jacksonville. Travelers will encounter the new restricted lanes on part of the south side of town near Orange Park.

General purpose lanes with no tolls will remain while tolls for the two Express Lanes in each direction will fluctuate depending on traffic volume. The tolls are designed to help balance traffic while allowing travelers a more predictable travel speed, at a minimum of 45 m.p.h.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Express Lanes will use time-of-day pricing. “Customers choosing to travel in the express lanes will only be charged during rush hour travel periods. A $0.50 static toll will be implemented Monday through Friday from 6:00 AM–10:00 AM and from 3:00 PM–7:00 PM. Customers will not be charged a toll to use the express lanes during all other times.”

Depending on the volume of vehicles, the toll may increase during peak traffic.

Video ride in the new express lanes in Jacksonville, Florida

Toll roads are not popular in northeast Florida and were removed years ago. At least travelers have a choice with the Express Lanes, while the effort helps with traffic congestion.

Northbound on I-295 toward St. Johns River

Jacksonville is one of the major locations for travelers entering and leaving Florida, especially on the east coast. Travelers will notice construction on major highways in and around Jacksonville, including work for additional Express Lanes. It’s best to check your routes beforehand, and have a map handy, as GPS directions may not be updated as frequently as the highway patterns change.

Southbound from St. Johns River toward I-95

Apps like Florida 511 (FL511) and WAZE provide fairly up-to-date information; but you may still need a map to navigate construction and by-pass routes in case of an emergency on the major highways.

More information about Florida’s Express Lanes is located at http://floridaexpresslanes.com/northeastfl/ .

If you need a SunPass during your visit to Florida, which could give you a discount on certain tolls, you may obtain one at a welcome center as you enter the state. Certain retailers have them too. I suggest checking the SunPass website for more information, including where the SunPass may be used in other states. https://sunpass.com

Safe travels in Florida!

Blessings along the Way!

Ron