Cross Country Road Trip – Virginia Beach to Paradise

Paradise California

I believe this to be my twelfth cross country road trip in the last year and a half and it is difficult to believe. Nearly two years non stop on the road to date.

Why am I heading cross country yet again? Because my son and his girlfriend are sick of watching my cat. The cat eats plastic bags then runs through the house barfing and they are pretty sick of it and rightly so.

Not that I need much of an excuse to  hit the road. I love to travel and am particularly fond of long haul drives.

Pretty much any excuse to go out on any sort of road trip is good enough for me.

Need help selling your house in Seattle? Have a cool place to stay in Madrid New Mexico? Wanna have drinks in Denver?

Festival in Arizona? I’m on my way. Hiking in Maine? Castle in Scotland? Daring bridge crossing in Norway… I’ll be there.

I do not need a specific reason or destination, the drive alone is pleasure enough. A desolate and beautiful drive in the Scottish Highlands? I’ll do it numerous times. (Lately it seems I’ll do anything in Scotland, any chance I get.)

I do love to venture out and explore on foot. Yet driving to and around any destination is one of the best parts of travel for me. Be it cross country or a road trip to the next town, even in its simplest form,  such travel it is my bliss.

Routes of the Rootless Cross Country

At about noon I headed west on I 64 from Virginia Beach, bound for Lexington Kentucky. Amazingly I made it as far as Dale Indiana, where I spent my first night.

Having done similar cross country road trip sojourns so readily this past year, I opted to take a new route, staying as close as I could to the middle of the country.

I planned not to go too far north due to bad weather. Not that driving in snow bothers me. In fact I quite enjoy driving in the snow, and did so on a similar trip nearly a year ago

Dead Man Pass near Pendleton Oregon 2017

Fog and snow covered Dead Man Pass Oregon
Deadman Pass Pendleton Oregon 2017 Cross Country Road Trip i the snow

being that my plan this time was to get to my destination as quickly as possible, it made sense to avoid possible snow.

Dew the Cat

More commonly when I drive cross country routes I base them on things I wish to see and do. Yet this trip is more focused on quickly releasing my cat Dew, from my sons care.

Dew the barfing cat.
Dew the Cat

Dew the Cat

A sweet cat, Dew is clean, goofy and funny but skittish and sort of… well… dumb. That she does not get along with female cats (of which there are 2 in my sons house) was an issue. As a barf driven in general and has little understanding of boundaries. She also is not fond of the road trip lifestyle, but she is mine, and I love her. So off we go.

My son has been caring for her far longer than ever anticipated. An outrageous amount of unexpected circumstances held me up, including a broken leg that laid me up for over 5 months.

America, the Beautiful Toll Free

The stretch through the West Virginia and Kentucky mountains is phenomenal.

An aesthetically pleasing, as well as enjoyable drive. Rolling pavement brings you up and around beautiful countryside, with steep inclines and descends.

On this cross country passage, I mapped the trip via google maps. For the first time I chose the option to avoid tolls. In result, I ended up on wonderful local small town roads that winded me around the turnpikes and other toll roads. It worked out wonderfully.

Google directed me off of the highway just prior to the toll booth and took me on a few off the beaten path sojourns. Each detour was truly spectacular scenically and roadway wise.

This unexpected bonus only added a few minutes to the entire trip in the end. At on point, I was amused to see myself pull out right in front of the truck with whom I’d been sharing the road for hours, just beyond the clutches of the “pay your toll” booth.

Resting at Rest Stops

I created a cozy little sleeping nook in the back of my Lincoln Aviator.

Rest Stop on my Cross Country Road Trip
Sleeping in the SUV at rest stops on my cross country road trip

It was pretty comfy once I got the sun shade thing situated.

I slept at 3 rest stops along this road trip. Not only did it save me money, but it allowed me to hop back onto the road with little wasted time. I think I prefer this to motels when on a cross country route focused on expediency. over sightseeing.

Cross Country Road Trip Rest Stop Dale Indiana
Dale Indiana Rest Stop

This one in Dale, Indiana was not the most picturesque, but nicely maintained and I felt safe sleeping there.

This strip of highway has quite a few decent rest stops normally, but many were closed on this particular trip. I was extremely glad to find this one open.

Cross Country Road Rest Stop Ogallala Nebraska
Ogallala Nebraska Rest Stop

Good morning Indiana From there I hit a Denny’s for a power breakfast then headed out towards I70 making it as far as Oglala Nebraska.

The Nebraska rest stop was fantastic. Clean with lots of parking. Wide open spaces and lovely views.

Ogallala Nebraska Rest Stop
Good Morning Nebraska

Good morning Nebraska!

For some reason google gps routed me through Nebraska instead of my previously designated plan to follow straight through Kansas and Colorado, yet I enjoyed the I-80 drive passing miles and miles of cattle ranches.

Riding High on Audio Books

As much of this particular drive offers such exquisite views, I tend to revel in the scenery without distraction.

But on long hauls like this, driven alone, various forms of distraction are necessary to staying alert, even if that sounds a bit oxymoronic.

One way I pass time is of course my music. When I’m feeling tired I at times rely on talk radio to keep me going. Yet one of my best allies is Audible.

Listening to lectures or books or whatever wets your noodle, is one the most valuable tools when in the more long haul type of journey. Just make sure you download ahead of time.

Your in Reno? I’m in Reno.

Nevada Humane Society
Dropping campfire cats off to be adopted from Nevada Humane Society with FieldHaven Feline Center

Before picking up my cat from my sons house in Portland, I will visit with FieldHaven Feline Center, the group with which I volunteer from afar.

FieldHaven, a long standing cat rescue and shelter in Lincoln California has been working hard to help the thousands of cats affected by the campfire.

Along with the support of Alley Cat Allies, FieldHaven opened 2 temporary shelters; Alley Cat Allies Recovery Center in Marysville and Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station in Paradise. These additional shelters were necessary for the unprecedented amount of cats let injured, lost, homeless or without shelter and food across the burn zone.

Having been invited to stay with Joy Smith, the head of FieldHaven, I remained in touch with her as I headed West. When I told Joy I’d be in Lincoln Friday, she mentioned that she would not return from Reno (where many of the unclaimed campfire are being sent for adoption) and ot back home until 5pm.

Checking my itinerary, it occurred to me that I’d be in Reno by about noon on Friday. In the same time my friend Christine, who I hadn’t seen in years texted me, asking me to stop by when passing through Reno. (Is totally forgotten that she’d moved there)

In the end, I got to stop in Reno, take a much needed shower as well as visit with my good friend Christine, then meet Joy & Rog of FieldHaven, as well as a bunch of campfire cats at Nevada Humane Society then follow them back to Lincoln.

Landing in Paradise

I made it across the US, practically from coast to coast in 4 nights easily.

The expense of the trip was purely gas, breakfast and drinks in the end and it was yet again another fantastic road trip across the US. I GoPro’d every light day of it and will share it, along with my many other recorded journeys, as soon as I am able.

Saturday I was able to visit Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station as well as drive around Paradise to see the devastation first hand. It may seem a grim thing to do. Yet certainly I am not a catastrophe tourist. I’d ridden this area on my motorcycle many years before.  The strange familiarity felt by the awareness of knowledge of this place I had rarely ever been. I felt a unique and intimate understanding of the tragedy that affected so many.

The stories of loss, heartache and then the ultimate satisfaction of reuniting someone with a cat they were sure had perished in the fire. Cognizant of the feeding station and trapping locations as well as if I’d lived there and physically helped. To know the addresses and stories of human, animal and material loss as if it had happened to my friends and neighbors. It is difficult to put into words the sheer devastation of it all and how keenly I was touched by experiencing it first hand, after all of this time.

And am keenly aware of all hard work and dedication that FieldHaven and the many trappers, feeders, rescuers and shelters have put in just to help give a small bit of relief to the people and animals that have lost so very much.

Sadness and Loss

I GoPro’d the devastation but I’m unsure if I shall share it or not. It was heart wrenching to see the depth loss exhibited by these utterly charred neighborhood’s. Businesses mostly gone. Hearth and home obliterated along with the foliage and trees.

The overwhelming emptiness of the place, bereft in its losses it is tangible as if a solid entity.

Paradise California 2019
Rainbow over Paradise

But the cats… so many survived. They escaped locked down burned out houses like little Houdini’s. Thousands of cats so far recovered. More found and trapped every day. Their ability to survive in a burned out world of nothingness is remarkable. This place so long considered a paradise for so many, as in name then to ashes.

It was a magical experience and an added bonus to this cross country drive. If it actually meant anything beyond a rainbow happened to cross my path at the most opportune moment or not, I’ll let you decide that. What I will state, is that my expeditious drive across the US, for me was well worth it if just for that moment.

Hell, I live driving and exploring so much, it was worth it just for the drive alone.

Next Stop Portland

Soon I leave for Portland to pick up Dew. Then I will head out with my friend Laurie, her chihuahua Rudy and my cat to cross the country once more, this time via the most northern route heading from Portland to Rhode Island.

First stop Yellowstone Park.

My Endless US Road Trip

Hells Canyon
Hells Canyon
Road to Hells Canyon

After a year of countless US Road Trip expeditions, on October 2018 I set out to Austin to help out my 93 year old mother.

Mom had fallen and broken her pelvis, so in response to her need, I headed to Austin, Texas to help. This would be my ninth US Road Trip in a single year.

I took a small blogging break through Thanksgiving intending to record my journey back to Virginia and begin writing again.

leg cast 2019
my broken leg after the cast was removed

Three days before I left Austin for my next US Road Trip, I fell and broke my leg. Sadly, I have been nearly silent ever since.

That Road Trip; from Virginia Beach to Austin. This was my 11th drive across the US, that covered over 1000 miles in the last year (2018) (so I am excluding quite a few 600 mile excursions in that number). Since that time, (and after 4 months of healing stuck in Austin on my Mothers couch) I have driven a moving truck from Austin to Raleigh North Carolina, flew back to Austin and drove my SUV back to Raleigh and then onto Virginia Beach. My next US Road Trip adventure starts today.

I have traveled from thousands of drive miles from coast to coast, to coast in the United States (East, West, South). Through deserts, up mountains, across cities, to seashores.

I have flown thousands of miles, then driven thousands of miles beyond these shores of ours.

US Road Trip et al

The 6 month delay created by my broken leg, caused quite a few challenges. Hurdles that I am yet attempting to overcome. One of the key issues was that my son (and his girlfriend) have been stuck with my cat for far longer than ever intended and she’s been causing a bit of havok.  At

Today, I began a US Road Trip sojourn once again. I will cross the US to pick up Dew the cat. leaving Virginia Beach heading to Portland in an hour.  Travel plans are to begin via the middle route and back again through the northern route, then heading West via the Southern route once more, if all goes as planned (and I utilize the road plan loosely, for I am greatly open to enjoyable deviations (even those nt so enjoyable)

On this new US Road Trip, I will be stopping in Butte County so that I may visit those with whom I have been remotely volunteering, FieldHaven since the Campfire. Once retrieving my cat, I shall pick up my friend Laurie and her chihuahua, and together we shall head to Yellowstone Park.

The plan is to US Road Trip across the Northern route ending at Camp Anarchy to attend the festival. From there we head to Rhode Island to try and sell off all of my things. Then we shall pick up my trailer and head West again via the Southern route.

I plan to once again share my travel stories with you. I hope you will follow along my 12th US Road Trip in a year

Check back again to see how far I have gotten.

First stop, Lexington Kentucky.

 

 

Madrid New Mexico | Ghost Town Hippie Village | Turquoise Trail

Madrid New Mexico houses 2018 RootlessRoutes

Madrid New Mexico. An influential mining town steeped in America’s Wild West.

The name may come from Roque Madrid who had interest in lead mining the area in the 17th century. Madrid later abandoned the area with little trace.

Santa Fe railway courtesy of Wikipedia
Santa Fe railway linked to Madrid New Mexico in the 1930s

It wasn’t until 1835 that mining of anthracite coal found in Madrid and Cerrillos New Mexico, drew renewed interest to the area, especially by the railroad.

Anthracite coal was particularly important for use in passenger trains, leading to the building of a spur line to the area.

But New Mexico was still a rather rugged territory, torn between the strained relations of Mexico and the US. It was not until 1880 that The Cerrillos Coal Bank came to pass.

Cerrillos Coal & Iron Co designed the layout of Madrid, they built a railroad station known as Waldo Junction then transported most of the inhabitants to to the town.

This “company town” of Madrid, thrived through this heyday. The innovative and forward thinking leader, Oscar John Huber was instrumental to the towns success and with his nourishing hand the train stop and rich with coal, the town of Madrid boomed.

Waldo Mesa Rd Madrid New Mexico, RootlessRoutes 2018
Waldo Mesa Rd Madrid New Mexico, RootlessRoutes 2018

What You Don’t Know About the Wild West

Wild West Cowboy RootlessRoutes
Wild West style cowboy from Wikipedia

When imagining the Wild West, visions of swaggering cowboys and marauding “Indians” come to mind. In truth, clashes between settlers and the local inhabitants were not the norm in the Wild West. The settlers and the local natives lived in a strained peace predominantly.

Of course, a land full of opportunity appeals to entrepreneurs, pioneers, opportunists and outlaws alike. But in general, the Wild West was never quite as raucous or chaotic as we’ve been led to believe. And Madrid New Mexico was at the very heart of this new frontier.

Madrid’s interesting history offers a glimpse into the reality of what later became known as the Wild West. It is a story of reinvention, innovation and strife, all while living in the middle of an arid desert.

American Frontier Not The Wild West

Buffalo Bills Wild West
Buffalo Bill’s Wild West

New Mexico was one of the last holdout states to join the Union.

This new American Frontier showed great promise for opportunity, offering the possibility of great wealth. Yet it long remained far more rustic than its more mature and populated brethren to the East & West.

Once New Mexico joined the Union in January 1912, Arizona followed close behind, making them the last states to join until Alaska and Hawaii joined in the late 1950s. (I am leaving out a Hell of a lot of history here including the Mexican / American war).

As a territory, New Mexico had little to offer to those not tribally connected to the land until coal was discovered. But when coal was found in a streak from Cerrillos to Madrid, the mining began and the people started to come.

Houses were broken down in Kansas where the mines were drying up, then transported via rail to New Mexico, and rebuilt in Madrid. A “company town” was born. Madrid New Mexico.

Oscar Joseph Huber’s Madrid

Oscar Joseph Huber, superintendent of the Albuquerque and Cerrillos Coal Company, encouraged the community to thrive through his progressive management style in Madrid. His innovative and forward thinking ideals demanded the community to pitch in for schools, a hospital and the things needed for a society to be healthy and flourish and it worked.

Membership to the Company Store and an Employee’s Club, offered members discounts and perks in exchange for their monthly financial contribution and their promised community involvement.

Huber set the standard for coal mining communities and the idea of those that could afford it, contributing to the communities needs.

This created a new standard for such communities.
Madrid stood as a shining light and a healthy and happy town and populace. Well as healthy and happy as coal miners, living in the wake of the toxins and dangers spewed above and dug below could be.

Celebration & Demise

Madrid New Mexico coal miners 1930s RootlessRoutes
Madrid New Mexico coal miners 1930s courtesy of Pinterest

By the 1920s, Madrid became known for their holiday events. Thousands of lights illuminated the town via coal power, during Christmas. Elaborate firework displays lit up the sky for the 4th of July, subsequently bringing in visitors from far and wide.

When the popularity of dirty burning coal died out to cleaner fuels such as natural gas, coal mining died out. Madrid’s population dwindled. When wartime came to pass, the result made Madrid a veritable ghost town down to 30.

Madrid languished. Classic western store fronts, the mining shaft and miner shacks, sat deteriorating under sun drenched skies.

For more than a decade most of Madrid lay dormant, snuggled between rolling pink hills and azure skies. Not quite a ghost town, but from the 1950s through the 1970s Madrid was practically forgotten. Laying dormant, the near ghost town of Madrid stood as a testament of time.

Rebirth | Joe Huber’s Madrid

Then in the early 70’s Madrid New Mexico came to life once more. Transformed by the son of its originator Oscar Huber.

With the same innovative thinking, Joe Huber invited artists to come rent housing for cheap. The rumour goes, they came to visit and never left.

Madrid New Mexico neighborhood RootlessRoutes 2018
Madrid New Mexico neighborhood homes 2018

Madrid was reborn, bustling to life as a vivacious, counter culture haven and remains such to this very day.  Joe, a visionary, opened up his beloved town to the frontiersmen (and women) of the time, creating a community of artists, and counter-culturists.

Joe remained dedicated to his home town until his death in the late 1980’s. Some of those who shared Joe Huber’s original vision remain in Madrid today.

Visiting Madrid New Mexico

I had a Hell of time when I got to Madrid.  My struggles made so much easier by the beauty of the location and the friendliness of the people. It did not hurt that my AirBnB was divine.

Luckily the town of Madrid is protected from most types of development due to water regulations. So the sleepy little hippy town remains pretty much intact.

Driving The Turquoise Trail / NM 14, found between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, Madrid, remains a slow moving and quiet artist community, albeit with a large community of dogs. Although the population is only about 200, colorful pubs, restaurants, shops, galleries and museums are enticing enough to spend an entire day there.

Lots of live music, good food, unique art and the friendly people draw an eclectic spattering of tourists. From bikers to family outings, the area offers a little of everything for everyone.

The Mine Shaft Tavern offers scrumptious fresh food. Yummy good &drink at The Mine Shaft Tavern

Yummy food & drink. Mine Shaft Tavern Madrid New Mexico 2018

Since I travel alone, I take note of how warm, welcoming and friendly places might be for someone alone and they score high on the list of comfort.

Madrid New Mexico RootlessRoutes 2018
Madrid New Mexico RootlessRoutes 2018

The residential area is made up of a patchwork of houses, cabins, yurts and adobes, along largely unpaved and gravel strewn drives. The main road is part of the Turquoise Trail

Madrid New Mexico, as a destination, is funky and unique place to visit. Truly an outlaw town that created itself and has held onto its counter culture roots.

A lovely little village, well worthy of the stop, offering food, entertainment, places to stay, shops and more, in a gorgeous location along a breathtaking drive.

Just remember to slow down to 20 MPH as you come upon Madrid on NM 14. It’s one of the only rules you may find there.