The adventures of Pioneer Girl travelling with enthusiastic Camper Barn Owl Guy

Started as a blog about my trip from Pittsburgh to California in a Ford Pickup, hauling a 30' refurbed trailer/camper. Ah, California Dreaming, 'n all that. Found that adventures can be long distance or in your own neighborhood... I look for my own twist on local sites, don't take the known for granted...and always find something new. It's easy, just open your eyes..

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Barn Owls and Butcher Birds

Good Morning, Pioneer Spirits...  Saturday, October 30, 2010, GPS coordinates track us in Elk Grove, California at It's a Grind Coffee Shop, where we have finally found free WIFI.  yayyy!

Got the trailer into the vineyard down dirt roads and creek crossings, next to a huge old barn that has barn owls galore.  We are situated next to a plot of merlot grapes and the vineyard manager took us on a tour of the entire vineyard where there are patches of chardonnay, patches of pinot, and others.  This vineyard in the Lodi wine growing area grows various types of grapes and sells them to major wineries, such as Mondavi and other wineries. 

Butcher Bird
The area where we are parked is very remote. We enter through a gate that is locked both before and after we pass through. Last night was so quite except for barn owl screeches in the middle of the night.  We had the windows and curtains open to soak in the atmosphere as we slept.  We are anxious to hear the coyotes at night, and we understand there are bobcats and also a mountain lion.  There are signs of butcher birds along the barbed wire fences.  The butcher bird is a loggerhead shrike, and they impale their victims (little birds or insects, like grasshoppers) on thorns and barbed wire. They leave them there as a cache to save for eating later, now and thens.  I thought this was pretty fascinating.

For Barn Owl Camper Guy and myself , life is good, and so is merlot.  I have two remaining nights here, until Pioneer Girl becomes Airline Girl for 7 hours on my return we intend to make the most of it.  Will post another update as to what is happening.  Will be seeing my little bro, Jeff, and bee-utiful Bee today or tomorrow.  Can't wait!

Thank you to all my friends who came with me along this trip.  Ciao.. PG, xoxo

Cowabunga California

Good Morning, all Pioneers!  October 29, 2010 -  WE MADE IT!  GPS coordinates track us…uh huh…in, NewBerry Springs California!  Sitting at the camper kitchen table blogging and looking out at desert, traffic, trains, and blue skies and a pond with one duck splashing around.  California dreaming has become a reality.  
BTW, I hope Willa Cather didn’t mind my using her book, O Pioneers, as my opening greeting for my travel blog.  I think she won’t.  Great classic book by the way, in fact it’s on my reading list after I finally finish The Girl Who Kicked Hornets Nests.
Today, we are heading towards Bakersfield, where we plan to stop to do some hiking in Kern Canyon. 

Best made plans?  Nixed Kern Canyon,  and headed north on Route 15 to Calico Mining Ghost Town in Yermo, California.  It was an old silver mining town that was prosperous for a while in it’s time but was abandoned in 1904.  Built in the absolutely most beautiful area, nestled in amongst the brown and tan hills.  Personally as a Pioneer Girl, I loved it.  Some of it was schmaltzy but looking past that you can see how the folks lived their lives, and a lot of it was in the silver mines.  Barn Owl Camper Guy got kinda restless after a while…not his thing, but I was having so much fun.  BOCG guy said that when I am having fun, I’m kinda wagging my tail.  I thought that was pretty funny.
Took 58 West towards Barstow, passing Edwards Air Force Base, passing arms of reaching Joshua Tree Cactus and low creosote bushes.  There is an old creosote bush in Lucerne Valley, CA that is 11,700 years old!
Bakersfield was a disaster for us, our first big squabble.  California is not so great with highway signs, and long story short, I had him jig instead of jag.  I ended up having a bit of a breakdown, high tension and emotional uncertainty once we finally reached California and our trip/adventure was almost over.  Guess I am a sensitive pioneer afterall.
Here we are in Pixley, California, having some margarita’s, steaks, and zucchini.  You know, I think there is pioneer spirit in all of us at times, and I’m so happy that I got to be a pioneer girl for a while.  I used to be an Annie Oakley girl, but that’s a whole  ‘nother story.
Until tomorrow…guess who, Pioneer Girl  xoxo

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Twin Arrows and Two Guns

Greetings, my Pioneer friends - October 28, 2010.  Leaving Grants, New Mexico and setting our sights on Arizona and beyond.

We have been experiencing such varied topography in northern Arizona.  I wish we could have stopped at Phoenix to see a friend and also Sedona, as it's been about 10 years since I've been there, but we are anxious to put down our feet in California and do some HIKING, and WINE TASTING. 

The first half of Arizona were the tremendous red rock formations everywhere, and the BNSF trains delivering goods both east and west.  Such a fine sight to see.  We did a lot of climbing and the Barn Owl Express was like the little train that could.  chug chug chug up the hills at maybe 45 mph. 

Then we hit the Great Continental Divide.  So of course I had to look it up again on the net (I did that with so many places and things along the way, thank God for my Blackberry and the Internet).  For instance I learned again that The Continental Divide divides the water drainage across the America's from precipitation that drains to the Atlantic Ocean from the precipatation that drains to the Pacific...I forgot all about that.  See what a learning experience this has been for me.  Any question, any tree, any park we have a question about, God, here's the answer!  got us out of a near empty gasoline situation also.  GPS  location..nearest gas station!  Oh yes, the old pioneers would be amazed.

Flagstaff was high!  The San Francisco range off to the north,  As we were climbing up about 1,00 feet through the Cococino National Forest, we drove past my two favorite towns' names in Airzona which seemed fitting to me.  Twin Arrows, AZ and Two Guns, AZ.  Wish we could have visited.  Sounds all get-out western.  My Baby Loves the Western Movies.... Pchoo pcihoo  boinnggg!

Okay, so here was my attempt at being artzy, came up with a lot of creative things to do in a truck cab!  Forgot it came out backwards...haha, it may be too dark to see that I'm doing in the rear view mirror, and if it is,  aww forget it. 

So we were taking it easy and driving Winslow Arizona in a Ford Pickup Truck and having a blast.  Our country is beautifiul.

Until then... Pioneer Girl xoxo

Whiskey and Water

  Greeting, fellow O Pioneers.  October 27, 2010.  GPS coordinates track us at Grants, New Mexico and the Lavaland RV Park.

One may wonder I why I called myself Pioneer Girl.  I know I'm a little stsrange, but I've always  been fascinated with stories of wagons loaded with women, children, and promises of gold and a prosperous future in the west.  And their endurance as they traveled west over the plains, prairies, and mountains and settled in various locations therein.  So when we hitched up the Barn Owl Express wagon to the back of the Ford pickup, I was jokingly likening myself to the pioneer days.  So anyway, just a fun take on a trip I myself had never done. BTW, modern pioneer women do not wear the day bonnets of past, as you can see.

Anyway, we landed in Grants NM which really does have a lot of large patches of lava laying around.  Barn Owl Camper Guy got the trailer all hooked up, and as we ate our leftover Mexican food from the Lizard Lounge we heard a strange sound coming from the bathroom.  Being so tired and hungry, we continued eating until we realized that the clamps on hose in the bathroom had had burst because the water pressure was so high.  Can you say FLOOD?  Yep, flooded the bathroom and all the carpet and padding that BOCG had just put in.  What a mess!   So we did what anyone would do in this situation...  had a few schnookers of whiskey, and tomorrow is another day.  The whiskey really helped....

In the morning, we cut out the wet padding and layed it in the truck bed anchored down and let mother nature's air and sun dry it.  So we turned a bad situation into an okay situation.  All is well now,

Onward into Arizona, and then the big C.  See ya next stop, Pioneer Girl xoxo

The Road To Tucumcari

Greetings! O Pioneers.  October 26, 2010 ..  We left Lamar, Colorado and the Island of Dreams Triple J RV Park at 7:30am anxious to leave all of our tire troubles behind us.  We had to go to the Ace Tire Service for new tires that was 4 new tires, and a rotation for safety for our continued journey south.  Tires played a major role in our inconvenience thus far.  The road to Tucumcari was part deja vu for the first 30 miles until we passed the windmill farms where were spent a lot of the prior evening sitting on the side of the road.

We are heading towards Oklahoma, Boise City to be exact.  Just a small portion, and then through the panhandle of Texas, Dalhart. The road due south to Texas was beautiful and smooth, desolute and stark, hundreds of horned larks flitting about on the berms of the road.  I know they were horned larks because Barn Owl Camper Guy made sure we stopped and identified them.  Also saw herds of prong horned antelope , which I had never seen before.  All good.

Dalhart Texas is a cattle farm and livestock auction area.  Seemed like thousands of cattle on both sides of the road in pens awaiting their fate.  Upset me a  lot.  The cow poop smell was all so overwhelming.

On to Tucumcari, New Mexico, new terrain, and the groovy Pow Wow Restaurant and Lizard Lounge.  Kind of schmaltzy but fun and great Mexican food and a long awaited for MARGARITA! 

Leaving Tucumcari behind, we headed due west through Albuquerque and next stop Grants, New Mexico, and Lavaland. 

Sincerely, PG   xoxo

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Arrived Flagstaff 2;30pm at 7,000 ft. Can't wait to blog tonight!
Blog update later today, El Morro Monument hiking.
Oct Grants NM. Water hose in trailer broke last night so we r at walmart getting parts n such. No WIFI at camp last night. More delays! Need more time!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tuesday October 26 - No WIFI at campsite. In Grants, New Mexico. Tomorrow Flagstaff and on to Calif. Details to follow! Good Night <3
Rolling into Boise City, Oklahoma. Someone from PENNDOT must work on the roads here.
10:30am - Welcome to Oklahoma!

Windfarms and Tire Trouble

Pioneer Girl again...  So at Kit Carson, Colorado, we took 287 South towards Lamar, Colorado. 

Barn Owl Camper Guy started to note that we were not getting much power and it felt like the tranny was pushing too hard.  Granted we were at a high elevation on the Buttes even though it did not feel like we were high up we were at an elevation of about 3800 ft.  Having a hard time getting above 45 mph for a while, what the heck!   Then it happened...yes it happened about 30 miles south of Lamar, Colorado, we blew our first tire, and it was a tire on the trailer.  Called AAA, got a guy out here and changed the tire, problem onward we go. 

Such a beautiful area, dramatic skies and miles of windfarms and as we were marveling at beautiful skies, plunk....wobble...What the heck!  Stop again and here 2 more tires blown.  Called state police as it was nightfall by then on a narrow 2 lane road, with trucks barreling by, a little scary.  And damn cold. 

Well as I marvelled at the windmills and became transfixed on them, the state police and tire guy and barn owl guy were out there and $500 later, we are all fixed up, but had to turn around and go back to Lamar to the campsite we saw there...and here we are.....and now we go.

Pioneer Girl outta here.

Tumbleweeds and Tornado Alley

Good Morning, O Pioneers!  Tuesday October 26, 2010, GPS coordinates track us in Lamar, Colorado.

Yesterday was quite an eventful day.  We had to make a decision to go due west from our location in Kansas and to Denver and over the Rockies, or take the southern route.  We were told snow storms in Rockies so South we went at Oakley, Kansas.

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Wow, it was Tornado Alley,  Wind gusts up to 50 mph.   I spoke to state troopers before we went south on 40 and they said be sure to gas up as there are no stations for 100 miles, and it's 2 lane and desolate.  Not kidding!  Wind storm was dramatic, Barn Owl Camper guy had white knuckles, keep the entire truck and trailer ensemble on the road.  Only us and trucks barreling at us and passing us at a WHOOSH!  Nothing but grasslands and tumbleweeds, quietly stricking us from the right (my side, so winds were from the west).  It was quite scary for miles but also beautiful.  I could imagine being a tornado chaser flying down the highway chasing a twister.  or a twister chasing us..    I'll tell you what, if you stop, which we did, I could not get out my side of the truck, the wind said no way...  The wind also ripped off the canvas porch and one of the arms off and blew it clean away, we didn't even see it.

One little town, we stopped at the Green Chile Cafe for coffee and to lick our wounds.  I spoke with one local woman who was a rancher there, said she was born and raised there, had a ranch and grew milo (sorgham).  Used for feed and also in bird seed.  She raised her eyebrows when I said we came down 40 hauling a trailer... wow, girlee, be careful out there!  BTW they served no green chile at the Green Chile Cafe..  disappointed. 

More to come,  xoxo... Pioneer Girl

Monday, October 25, 2010

Taking southern route to avoid snow. Oakley, KS heading south on 40 to Tucumcari, NM. Rawhide filmed in Tucmcari. Old Rt 66 goes strait thru heart of Tucumcari
Left Russell KS at 10am, really seeing the land promised by OZ today. Last night it was nightfall and all we could see was ghostly arms of windfarms spinning

Plaines and Prairies

Good Morning, O Pioneers!  Today is Monday, October 25, 2010.  GPS coordinates track at Russell, Kansas.We had a hell of a time with time zones yesterday as we travelled wended our way across the rolling, rolling prairies of Indiana through Terre Haute (which means High Land)  across flat and monotonous Illinois,

Missouri and the plateaus of the Ozark Mountains was interesting.  As we entered Missouri (means River of the Big Canoes) and crossed the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri , our conversation went to Mark Twain and Steamboats. I missed a good photo of the Mississippi, darn it.  Then we crossed the Missouri River.  The confluence of the Missisisippi and the Missouri is near there somewhere, wish I had seen it. 

I was alwa;ys fascinated with that area and the Lousiana Purchase period in history for some strange reason.  I used to liken myself to either Lewis or Clark, or both.  Just the whole fur trapping thing (which I am against now anyway but that is neither here nor there), just what happened then.  Oh, Did not get to see the arches of St. Louis, we passed north of them.

Beelined straight to Kansas, Baby, and here is my picture of amazing Kansas.  I call this picture (in the spirit of my double titles, Windows and Windows.  Know why?!!  It was taken from the WINDOW of the truck and it looks like the startup screen for WINDOWS operating system.  haha  Kansas City through Topeka and killed ourselves to get this far, set up camp at night.  Always fun.

Having coffee in our little home in a darling campsite here in Russell, watching the little wild feral cats run around outside the window, and Barn Owl Camper Guy is out getting us ready to go.  He's going to be pushing me soon, and I need a shower bad!  Heading across the western Plaines (Great Plaines?) of Kansas soon.   We need to decide if we are going the Northern or Southern route now as heard there may be some snow in Colorado mountains. 

I really wanted to camp in Wyoming tonight, was hoping to hang out in a saloon  somewhere and actually talk to the locals, which I always loved to do.  so far, we've just been highway driving.   Been thinking bout a pair of red cowboy boots I saw a billboard for along 70West at Boot City. THAT would make an impression on those locals!

So once again, today my life is a highway.....but i am walking on sunshine.!   HAHA.  Barn Owl Camper Guy thinks i'm corny.

Over and out, xoxo  Pioneer Girl.    oh, saw a sign (okay another corny highway sign),says Peace on the Highway, friends.   (and thanks for reading my ramblings, if you are:)  The Prairies await.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Crimson and Cloverdale

Good morning, O Pioneers!  GPS coordinates track us in Cloverdale, Indiana at  7:49am.  We are heading due west to Illinois.  Beautiful sunset over the prairie lands yesterday evening, like the gates of heaven and it changed constantly forr about 20 minutes or so, culminating in a huge crimson red sun on the horizon.  Cloverdale is about 1/2 hour outside of Indianapolis.  rl

Yesterday was a learning curve for both Barn owl guy and myself.  Nerves a little rattled.  But westward towards Terre Haute and points west.  First night camping and exhaustion and some rain on the roof made for a good nights sleep.

Have to go, will update the post later when I find another WIFI spot,  I have a picture of the sun I'm anxious to post.

Bye, Pioneer Girl

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Freedom and Compartments

Good morning from Pioneer Girl!  GPS shows we are stil in Pittsburgh, PA.

Yes, our skeedaddle was skeedonkled by the Ford having some issues which got fixed late last night.  After the initial frustration, we decided to postpone until Saturday morning and here we are.  Ready to git On The Road.  We are currently in the process of locating, identifying, and sorting various required medications and sundry vitamins, etc.  Pioneer Girl is already organized in the little weekly container, S-M-T-W-TH-F-S, very organized as usual.  Mr Camper Guy, heretofore known as Barn Owl Guy which is more appropriate, Barn Owl Guy with some camper experience. Barn Own Guy had to run over to his house to try to locate a particular prescription, hopefully he has found it.  I hesitated about my blood pressure prescriptions but decided to drop it in the container anyway.  I'm thinking if my blood pressure is elevated because of work situation, then maybe being out in the open road with certain freedoms may improve my condition.  Afterall, I do work out, do yoga and pilates, (packed the yoga mat for early am yoga) am mostly a vegetarian with superduper green juicing skills.  (that is a whole nother story cause the food on the trip is not conducive to much vegetarianism, and i can't pack my juicer so this in itself may be stressful).  We furnished the trailer with ample canned items, tuna, a few steaks and yep turkey kolbassi.  We have it all organized...the entire living arrangement in the trailer is compartmentalized, literally.  Everything is little and tiny.

We are excited about getting the first leg out of town, the freedom on the road, hauling all shtuff in the little compartments in the house, and finding our next GPS location.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Leftover Wine

Camper Guy got some bad news at the mechanic this morning as he was getting the Ford inspected...uh huh, we're still in Pittsburgh.  Our skeedadle came to a screeching halt because of a bad muffler.   Here's the glitch though, Camper Guy left Barn Owl Express wagon locked.   I could have loaded all the the groceries and other sundry items  but alas our trip west is postponed most likely until very early in the am.    In the spirit of freedom and going with the flow, I await his return enjoying the golden sunshine with my sleeping Miss BBB by my side,  finishing up some leftover wine.   Tomorrow is another day, and should be a hard push to make up for the delay.    It's all cool..... but thank goodness for leftover wine to smooth out any leftover crankiness.
My home for the next 10 days..The Barn Owl Express...when we are all done with this, I'd like to turn it into a Martini Bar, but first things first....the Camper Guy must provide for the barn owls in wine country  He is doing a study on barn owl habitat effects on vineyards for organic rodent control.  The Camper Guy's website:

Full Moon and Broken Mirrors

Pioneer Girl and enthusiastic barn owl Camper Guy are bout to hit the open highway, California bound.  We driving a Ford Pickup, hauling a 30' camper/trailer from Pittsburgh to California through points unknown to me anyway.  Mr. Camper Guy has it all figured out.  I may be a bit apprehensive and may be a nervous nellie, but am anxious to get the adventure underway.  Today we leave, and on a good full moon event.  One strange occurrence this morning that was a bit disconcerting<  as I picked up my hand-held mirror to examine the back of my traveling hairdo, the mirror was majorly cracked...had silently self-combusted over night.  I've never blogged before so if I do this wrong please forgive me, I hope to be documenting the trip as I go cause I may never pass that way again.