Kicking the Bucket List


I had never even heard of the term “Bucket List” until the movie came out. Maybe its a good list to have if someone just gave you the news that you time is limited. We all have expiration dates we just don’t know when or how. The way I view my life I have done amazing things, gone amazing places, met and heard amazing people and experienced much more than most can imagine. I have no need for a bucket list.


I have traveled and toured 45 states, toured and/or worked in 9 countries outside the US. To get to these places I took cars, trains, airplanes, bus and boats (mostly ferries). Among my favorite places: Ireland, Mexico, San Francisco, CA, St. Augustine, FL, Portland, OR, Taos, NM and Natchez, MS. I haven’t taken count of the Museums I have been to but no matter where I visit if there is a museum I go.

Name Dropping

I’ve seen near 100 live performances by some of the most famous bands and bands that would become famous like Elton John when he was the warm band. I have been present during readings by extraordinary writers, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Toni Morrison, Alice Walk and Scott Momaday. I took in two Broadway plays in NYC, “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” and “Sunday in the Park with George”. Being an illustrator I have the opportunity to meet and or talk to renowned artists, Tom Wilson (Ziggy) was my boss, Garfield creator Jim Davis, visited Laurel Burch,  Debbie Mumm and Mary Englebreit in their Studios. Lest I should forget was the chance talk given by Jacques Cousteau. FYI: Coincidently we share a birth date.


I’ve ran down the center of Medicine Park dressed as Little Britches the outlaw. Performed Western reenactments for the likes of NATO visitors. Given demonstrations and talk before audiences of all ages and size of groups. Concepted and graphically illustrated characters for cards and licensing including Strawberry Shortcake and Friends, Care Bears and Get-Along-Gang. Slid down a 60ft concrete slide in the historic Castro district of San Francisco.

As you can surmise by my life experiences are more like a book of lists. I am 70, more Travel, Performances, People, Action will be added not because it is a goal because the opportunity presents itself.


Part IV Capulin Volcano NM

Capulin Volcano

To cushion our disappointment about not being able to go to Fort Collins we  discovered that on the way home there was Capulin Volcano, a prehistoric site.  It had rained all the way off and on but we were glad that when we got to the volcano the rain had stopped and we were able to drive to the top and looked down to where lava once spewed. The walking path continued to the very top however we were already at 7000+ feet and I did need to challenge my asthmatic condition. Having forgotten to bring a jacket or sweater I did  fortunately pick up a hoodie  in Amarillo.   On the top of the volcano was the one place I was glad I had it. We had been to the bottom of a canyon and a gorge it was now wonderful to be looking down at yet another awesome spectacle. 

Our midway stop was Amarillo, staying in town this time we found Leal’s Mexican Restaurant to have a little Tex-Mex before moving on.

We actually finished our touring at Altus Oklahoma, we stopped in to browse a few antique shops. The Mercantile on Main Street was the kind of antique store appreciated, lots of stuff to rummage through yet not the import junk that so often takes up rooms of so-called Antique Malls. There I purchased antique c1890’s Whiting & Davis purse. Although not perfect (what is at that age) it is charming.

We arrived home and turned on the news, sadly the flooding in New Mexico and Colorado was front story. Our relatives escaped the worst of it although our nephews business has suffered great losses. We visited some beautiful places in those two states, our hopes are they will be fully restored so others can experience them.

All photos were taken by either Muriel or Michael Fahrion. Video by Muriel Fahrion. “Coming Home” by Chuck Cheesman check out his music and buy a song or two


Part III Royal Gorge RR, Canon City & Pueblo CO

Royal Gorge Railroad & Pueblo Colorado We had booked a room in what turned out to be a fabulous Victorian mansion in Pueblo Colorado, The Rusted Poppy Inn. A rain cloud hung all were us all the way from Albuquerque to Pueblo causing a slight delay in us arriving at the B&B. No one was there to sign this into our room. A call to the owner solves the problem. She gave us the key code to the back door and we signed ourselves in. Although originally relegated to once again on 3rd floor room we were subsequently upgraded since for the 2 days were going to stay we were the only guests there. Our room was amazing, it looked over their expansive garden and was appointed with an iron and brass bed and a original clawfoot tub  Which was very deep and wide over which was a super-sized showerhead. We had chosen the perfect place to be for the next 2 nights. Once checked in we went about roaming the town  and photographing its Victorian and arts and craft era buildings. Referring to urban spoon and also asking the innkeeper (who arrived shortly after we had found our way in) we decided to dine at DC On B  Street, a small locally own bistro with an eclectic decor  consisting of mismatched tables chairs and lamps from the 1st half of the 20th century. Excellent! After dining we once again walked around outside and serendipitously experienced an outdoor ballet set to coincide with the weekend Oktoberfest.  The next morning we were greeted by a beautifully  prepared omelette consisting of vegetables  freshly picked that morning by our chef. Traveling down to Canon City Colorado, another town dipped in the turn-of-the-century, we waited with great anticipation for a ride on the railroad through the Royal Gorge. This was the beginning of the massive rains that were about to inundate Colorado. Our train was late coming in but we busied ourselves talking to the other passengers and buying Michael his 1 souvenir from our trip, our Royal Gorge T-shirt. Although pretty cloudy the rain looked as if it might hold off for our train trip.  we paid a little extra for our Vista Car service. This included a product to you lunch and as the car was named a great place to look up at the Cliffs.  After showing her lunch we headed to the cars to the open observation car where we could experience being outside and seeing the river rush by and being awe-struct by the walls of the gorge. Observation was ended by rain but not until we had a half hour in the open car. Back at the bed-and-breakfast we decided that after a pretty filling late lunch on the train we would want to just go out for may be some appetizers that night. We ended up at the  Wine in Cup Bistro for a cheese plate and a bottle of dark beer. No room inside so we sat outside. It began raining so we moved to an umbrella table where we invited the other outside people to join us. After all for us meeting people on our vacations is something we always look forward to.  The morning of September 11th it was becoming very apparent that the rain and flooding in Colorado was going to affect what our next travel decision would be. The highway between Pueblo and Fort Collins being shut down because of flooding made the decision for us.

Next Part IV Capulin Volcano and Homeward

Music by The National and Northwoods Chuck Cheesman visit their site listen and/or buy their music

Part II Alburquerque, NM

Jane’s Alburquerque

My sister-in-law Jane and her husband have only lived in Alburquerque for one year having spent their lifetime in the Ohio Valley it was a major change for them. They are bicycle enthusiasts and actively participate in the local biking community. The funny thing is that Jane had a little difficulty finding her way around Alburquerque by car. Landing at Jane’s mid afternoon she took us over to Boca Negra Canyon  (practically in her backyard). (We opted not to go to Petroglyphs Nation Park this time but will save that for next visit.) Such a different look and feel from what we know. The black rocks with the fabulous etched petroglyphs are amazing to see. We were a little tentative about straying off the paths because of fear of snakes (oh my!) not having the right hiking shoes on. For a break we stopped by Marble Brewery to lift a beer and toast to our adventure out West. We returned to Jane’s place for homemade green chili stew. So delicious! She served it up with the best tortillas that can be had in Alburquerque, with heirloom tomatoes on the side.

The next day it rained off and on all day. Pretty amazing since Alburquerque only gets about 9 to 10 inches a rain a year. But we forged ahead between raindrops. We got to drive through the city itself and to its neighborhoods as well venture out to the country side towns. We visited the Museum to see the Titanic Exhibition as a sampling of the many museums there. Being lifelong antiquers Jane made sure we got to stop at a new favorite shop of hers, Cowboys & Indians Antiques. They had an exceptional array of Pueblo pottery, baskets, jewelry and paintings. Jane scarfed up the real bargain, an original oil painting, what she later named Navajo Mona Lisa. And somewhere in the middle of all this we did a wine tasting at Casa Ronderia Winery, a hacienda-like winery with choice wines.. and we brought home a bottle of 2012 Viognier to prove it.  We stopped The Seasons in Old Town for a tasty lunch. I opted for the seared Hawaiian Ono Fish Tacos with fresh mango salsa, lemon aioli, mixed greens. To get more of a feel for the countryside she took us out to Los Poblanos Lavender Farm.

Meanwhile back at Jane’s adobe she had dinner ready which she had prepared before we woke up. Michael’s favorite PEROGIS! along with spareribs and of course a birthday cake.

I really felt as if Jane had treated us to a great sampling platter of what Alburquerque had to offer. We will be back for a second helping for sure but it  might not be until next year. PS: Love you Jane.  (Visit Part I Palo Duro Canyon)

Soundtrack “Highways” is by Joe Purdy to listen to more/and or purchase click here.


Our Own Personal Portland


It was a trip I have been thinking about for years, a journey to Portland and Oregon. Not for any reason in particular but for the fact that I have never been to the corner of the U.S. The last few years have been traumatic what with the ice storm, wildfire, my husband’s cancer, death of family members and all. Along with that we hadn’t seen our son for over a year and half. My grown children make me happy. So the trip was planned months in advance to squeeze between Michael’s scan and his chemo and naturally to mesh with our son Colin’s vacation time. It looked like things we were going to be perfect but then… The storm hit and we had 8 inches of rain in one night and were struck by nearby lightening, not once but twice. It took out 11 appliances and flooded our newly completed room. It was a bit of scramble but we set up repair people, order replacement small appliances and parts and talked to the insurance adjuster. We left the rest in the hands in our capable daughter to deal with and we headed off to Portland.


Our son Colin and his girlfriend Tess traveled by car up from San Francisco and met us at the airport. We had rented a precious house in Hillsboro a short drive from Portland in an amazing flowered neighborhood. We chose (or rather were persuaded by our son to chose it) based on the fact that they had egg laying chickens, a hot tub, two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen. We experienced unusually lovely weather  with 6 days of mild temperatures and only one day of cold drizzle.

The Vintage Shops: All the great vintage clothing shops are too numerous to mention. We probably hit 5 of them. Well managed and laid out. Prices are reasonable.  The Bins of Goodwill where you buy clothes by the pound. Wash your hands afterwards but we found some pretty fab stuff there.

2013-04-23 12.02.42

Pittock Mansion: Most fabulous view of Portland EVER! You can view the mountains and the city. The mansion is beautiful outside and in with marvelous interior details.

The Museum of Contemporary Crafts: The focus on the day we went was Bowls. It is a small museum but sometimes small is better.

Japanese Garden: Tranquil beauty, a meditation while walking through it.

Leach Botanical Garden: We arrived at the blossoming of the Magnolias. Who knew there was so many varieties?

Our Friend’s High-rise Condo: Seeing Portland from the 25 floor with a 270 degree view was awesome. If you don’t have a friend that lives in a highrise in Portland try one of these recommended restaurants for the view.

Portland is REALLY bicycle friendly so if you have one use it but it is also walker friendly. Our friend took us on an 4 1/2 mile walk that took us through the Portland State campus where we got to see the Benson House, stopping at the Keller Fountain Park (now my favorite city fountain ever!)  over an array of bridges crossing Williamette River.

2013-04-22 11.39.05

Powell’s Books: The rooms are arranged by colors. There are 3 floors and seemingly endless number of books. A book lover’s paradise. I bought a couple of poetry books. Everyone walked out with books.


The Hat Museum: Yes, you must see it. The only way to see it is to reserve a tour. It is $15 a person but if you love hats it is a have to. Our tour lasted 2 hours. You will be thoroughly dipped in the history and etiquette of hats. It is the prettiest neighborhoods of Portland, the Ladd district. One amazing bungalow after another.

Cannon Beach: We grabbed a bite at Sweet Basils in the town for some fabulous fresh crab and headed toward the beach. It was the only cold and drizzly day we had but one MUST walk on Canon Beach or you can’t call it a trip to Oregon. We did our best but then headed down the coast and stop at a friend of a friends rented cottage on the ocean for cocktails. Colin carried all you needed to mix up a variation of great drinks. The folks were extraordinary and amazing to chat with.

Stumptown Comic Fest: I thought this is not going to be my cup of tea. The coolest thing I discovered was all the talented indie comic/ graphic novel artists. Many of them were drawing right on the spot. Who doesn’t love artists?


Where we ate…. Portland is renowned for excellent cuisine. Today with the help of sites like “Yelp” you can find top rated independent local places. You have to love the industrial look that some restaurants take on. One example was The Pizza Research Institute in Eugene, OR where we met for the first time my cousin and his family. I believe it was a converted auto body shop. You order from a menu with a quirky assortment of pizza toppings. My choice was the apple, smoked gouda and walnut pizza. Loved it!  In mid-city Portland is Abby’s Table an open kitchen format that features cooking classes. You eat at large stainless steel tables. If you are vegan, dairy or gluten challenged this is your nirvana. I am none of these but still found the food to be very tasty.


On our way to Eugene we stopped in Corvallis where we ate at Nearly Normals fresh, healthy menu. I loved loved the pumpkin tacos!

When you are in Oregon drink Oregon Beer! Its the terrific. We stopped at Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene and bought a sample tasting.

2013-04-24 16.12.59

A note about Voodoo Donuts. We went to the one in Eugene just to say we stopped in. I did NOT eat a donuts but Michael & Colin did. I just don’t eat donuts. So if you LOVE donuts go there or just go there because it like going to Chicago and eating Chicago style pizza. In Portland you could wait hours to get in unless, as my sister tells it, you go at 3 in the morning.

I’ve talked to a lot of people since we returned home. Many said, like I had, that wanted to go to Portland someday. I say enough talk just DO IT!