new thriller

My First Road Trip


Welcome back. I hope you enjoy reading about my first road trip with my new parents. It has been a little over a year since I’ve been in my forever home, and everything is going great. I love my new parents even though they tend to gush over me sometimes.

In August, we left the Texas heat behind and I went on my first road trip. When my parents loaded me into my 4Runner, I expected to go to the park, maybe Starbuck’s, or lunch at an outdoor café, but something was different about this trip. They had spent a day packing my SUV, and that seemed odd. The last long drive I had been on was when Grandma Jane rescued me in Madisonville, Texas, and drove me to her home. I thought she planned to keep me, but four days later she put me in her SUV and drove me to my forever home.

Are we there yet?

Back to the road trip. I was getting worried when we rode for a really long time and it didn’t look like they planned to stop anywhere. Then I saw a sign for a town called Decatur. I had never been in this part of Texas and I felt a bit nervous, especially after they pulled into a rest stop. But my dad patted me on the head and my mom filled my water bowl, while I hopped out to sniff the freshly mowed grass and to leave a few scents of my own.

A short time later, I jumped back into the hatch of my 4Runner, and off we went to continue our journey—and a very long one it would be. I dozed as mile after mile of grasslands, cotton fields, and milo flitted past the windows. Along the way, we took a few more potty breaks, and every time they put me back in my 4Runner and we kept going. By now, I had come to the conclusion that they didn’t plan to leave me anywhere, so I was feeling pretty good when we filled our gas tank at Clines Corners and Mom sped up on US-285 toward Santa Fe.

Mom loves this stretch of highway, and I could see why. I sat up to take in the view—a sea of green dotted with cholla cacti, and on the horizon the landscape butted to an orange mesa, the flattop scraping a turquoise sky. No wonder Mom surrounds herself with coral-colored and teal-colored stuff. Must remind her of New Mexico. “It has been a wet winter,” said my dad, which was why the trees were so green.

Just beyond the subdivision of El Dorado, Mom jetted up the on-ramp to I-25, and we motored up the freeway to the St. Francis Drive exit. We cruised through Santa Fe, blew by the Opera House, and began our ascent toward Española, headed north on NM-68. Leaving Velarde, we entered a narrow canyon with a two-lane road—the mountains to our right and the fast-moving waters of the Rio Grande River to our left. “Good snows and rains this year,” said my dad.

“Horseshoe coming up,” Mom alerted us as we climbed and climbed, then dropped into a wide U-shaped canyon and almost immediately crested the rise for a breathtaking view of the Taos Plateau and the Rio Grande Gorge. I stuck my nose to the open window and sniffed the dry air. I wanted to hang my entire head out the window, but they wouldn’t let me. Ten minutes later, road weary and hungry for dinner, Mom parked in the garage and the unpacking began. But they fed me first.

Dusk fell, and soon darkness enveloped the house. In the distance, I heard a strange yelping. “Coyotes,” said Dad. But I was too tired to care, more interested in curling up on the sofa, and wondering what tomorrow would bring. More adventures, I hoped.

I was a big hit in Taos on my first visit. Almost every day, Mom and Dad took me to the plaza to walk around or to the local park. People of all ages stopped to pet or hug me, and I socialized with other dogs. I even ate at restaurants with Mom and Dad. Everyone commented on how well behaved I was, so I guess they were happy to have me there. They always gave me fresh water and treats. And when we showed up for a table at our favorite eatery, they made sure we had a big one, giving me plenty of room to stretch out without anyone stepping over me.I sure am looking forward to my next Taos visit.

Next time I post, and I’m not sure when that will be, I’ll write about my second road trip. But for now, we plan to take a break from posting and will be back soon with a new series starting with Pat’s Canadian rail-train trip. Sounds like fun, so watch for updates on her website and on Facebook and Twitter.



Sharing is caring!

Europe 2013: Belém Tower – Lisbon, Portugal

Belém Tower, Lisbon

On our last day in Monte Carlo, we were packing when I heard a low rumble, which grew louder and louder. Having experienced my share of earthquakes, I paused to listen but felt no movement, so I slid open the glass door in our room and stepped onto the balcony. In a few seconds, Dave joined me. The steady vibration intensified and seemed to be coming from the Formula 1 pits near the harbor. We assumed the drivers were test-firing their engines until the noise became almost deafening. Then to our delight, one race car after the other came roaring down Princess Grace Avenue in front of our hotel. Hearing and seeing the Formula 1 cars in action…now I was hooked on Grand Prix racing. I was sorry we weren’t staying for the race, but we had a plane to catch.

Formula 1 race car driving down Princess Grace Avenue, Monte Carlo.

Leaving Nice, we flew over the Mediterranean, the best part of the uneventful two-and-a-half-hour flight. We had arranged for a driver to take us to our hotel in Lisbon. When we greeted him outside the terminal, he appeared sheepish. “There’s a slight problem,” he said. Evidently, the room we had reserved at the Altis Avenida Hotel in town wasn’t available for the night. While on a business trip, the prior guest had suffered a heart attack and been hospitalized. His wife was en route from Spain to pack up his luggage, which was still in the room, and the hotel was completely booked. However, the Altis had accommodations at one of their other locations “just for the night.” We weren’t thrilled about this news, as the other Altis was miles from any tourist attraction and we had already mapped out our plans for the afternoon, but we went with the flow.


The 25 de Abril Bridge and view of Lisbon.

On the drive into Belém, we crossed a bridge that looked remarkably like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and I commented on this to our driver. The 25 de Abril Bridge, which connects Lisbon to Alamada, was built by the American Bridge Company, the same firm that constructed the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, but not the Golden Gate Bridge. The upper deck has six car lanes, while the lower deck carries two electric trains. The name “25 de Abril” commemorates the Carnation Revolution, a military coup that overthrew the regime of Estado Novo on April 25, 1974. The “Carnation” in the name refers to no shots being fired during the unrest.


As it turned out, the change in accommodations was a pleasant one. The Altis Belém Hotel overlooks the Tagus River, and the minute I saw the contemporary design I was curious about the decor of our room. The choice didn’t disappoint. The ultramodern room was decorated in red, black, and white, a color combination I’ve always loved—clean and cheerful. The walls behind the bed and to the right were white, while the opposite one, which ran the length of the room, was a deep red with a pattern of circular white lines etched into the ruby color. The other wall was glass, and it faced a small marina. The furniture was black and white with a red sofa and a plush red accent rug. The bathroom shower had black granite walls and countertops. The tub was white Corian, a solid surface material manufactured by DuPont. The acrylic polymer can be molded into just about anything and comes in a myriad of colors. My first thought when I saw the bathroom? I loved the look, but I know from experience that black surfaces are a nightmare to keep clean because of water spots.


White metal shutters in our room at the Altis Belém.

As a waning sun sneaked into our room, I found the button for the electronic curtains as well as a remote control for a series of white metal shutters. Not only were the shutters an architectural feature, but they also served a purpose: filtering the bright sunlight. They ran along the outside of the entire building, anywhere a window was located. Quite intrigued by this design, I paused from unpacking to play with the system. During the day, it afforded enough privacy to forgo the curtains.


On the coffee table next to the red sofa sat a tray with a bottle of chilled chardonnay, wineglasses, appetizers, and a note from the manager apologizing for the change in hotels. We finished the appetizers, then left to explore the closest attraction, the Belém Tower.


Belém Tower. The banner photo shows one of the terraces on the tower.

The tower was built on the Tagus as part of a larger defense bulwark and completed in 1521. The architectural style is referred to as

Manueline, named for King Manuel I, and is a Portuguese variant of the high Gothic style found in northern Europe, but with more exuberant decoration and nautical-themed ornaments. The style reflected Portugal’s self-confidence and wealth, a result of the Age of Discovery, when explorers created new trade routes that brought riches from India and other faraway destinations to Lisbon.


The exterior is rather ornate for a tower, with beautifully sculpted balconies and limestone ornaments. It has Moorish-style turrets at each corner, where a battery of cannons was housed to defend the waterway. At one point, the tower basement was used as a prison. The terrace above the basement is decorated with a statue of Mary and child meant to protect seafarers, for it was from here that many of the great Portuguese explorers embarked on their voyages. And Christopher Columbus stopped at the tower after discovering the New World. The second floor contained the royal residences, and on the upper floors were the armory and private rooms. On the top floor is another terrace with pretty views of Belém and the Tagus River, and a beautiful loggia with intricate carvings and several balconies. We spent over an hour exploring the tower, then returned to our hotel for dinner.


Still feeling rundown from our colds, we ordered room service and relaxed for the evening, as we had a busy agenda planned for the following day. To accompany the chardonnay left by the hotel management, we chose a selection of cold and hot starters rather than mains: marinated tuna with a wasabi cream, sautéed Algarve shrimp with a fresh cucumber salad, pan-seared lobster ravioli and mizuna with lemon, a small cheese sampler, and a basket of freshly baked breads.


Sharing is caring!

Europe 2013: Monte Carlo, Monaco

Author Pat Krapf Visits Monte CarloMonday morning the sun appeared as we jumped on the A8 and motored toward the Nice airport. There, we would drop off the rental car and catch a ride to our hotel in Monte Carlo. As we exited the subterranean parking lot in Avignon, we misjudged the distance from the car to the wall of the underground garage. I winced as we made the tight, sharp angle, not surprised to hear the grind of metal against stone, and wondered how much repairs would cost. But a little over two hours later, when we turned in the car, the Avis representative seemed nonplussed as he looked at the damage. “That’s nothing. Happens a lot,” he said and told us to have a safe trip down to Monaco. read more…

Sharing is caring!

Follow by Email