On my way --

Off tomorrow on a solo trip -- mostly just fun with a little genealogy thrown in.

My first goal is Phoenix, but since I can't drive all the way to Phoenix in one day (I tried it to Las Vegas once and it about killed me), I'll be stopping over in lovely Pasadena for one night.  I've learned there's a "shabu-shabu" restaurant right across the street from the motel and so might give that a try.

Then off the next morning to my first genealogy stop:  the National Cemetery in Riverside, California.  This is my first trip to a cemetery to pay respects to a relative, in this case Joseph Bernard Ortmann, my father's cousin (whom my father never met).  Joseph was the son of my grandfather's brother, and by virtue of his having been a Navy WWII veteran, was laid to rest in a National Cemetery.  Because he was a man with no siblings who never married or had children that I have been able to discover, I'm guessing that he hasn't had any visitors in a while, maybe never.  He's a man I'm very curious about, and while I'm not expecting to gain any new insights from the visit, I'm looking forward to the stop.

Oh, why did my dad never know his cousin?  Because his father was estranged from his family, which meant that my father never knew his grandparents on that side, any of his eight uncles and aunts, or any of their children.  And also that he had a half-sister on the other side of the tree.  Family secrets, people.

From there I head to Phoenix, for the second big genealogical experience of the trip -- a visit with my cousin (my ONLY first cousin) to catch up, of course, but also to see what treasures she might have.  I'm bringing my scanner!  I'm hoping against all hope that she might have a couple of pictures that I don't have -- of our mutual great-grandparents, in particular.  Since her father was a pretty good family historian, I'm hoping that he wrote names on the backs of the pictures, as he did with me once when he visited us.

After two nights in Phoenix, I hit the road at 5 AM to make it to the Albuquerque airport by noon to pick up my New Mexico traveling companion, my apartment-mate from college days.  While it's not meeting up with an ancestor or relative, it is meeting up with someone who's such an important friend of my heart.  You know how it is when you meet up with someone you knew when you were young and not quite formed?  The years just fall away -- I'm really looking forward to seeing her.

From Albuquerque, we head up to Taos, where neither of us has been.

We spend four nights at El Monte Sagrado hotel, which looks just beautiful, and probably will take a day to drive to Santa Fe and other interesting places.

Then I retrace my route back home, with one happy coincidence -- as I go through Pasadena again, I'll be able to say hello to my watercolor teacher from Tuscany two years ago, who lives in Pasadena and will be at an art show that weekend.  Here's a link to her website:  Brenda Swenson.  You'll see some beautiful paintings there.

So . . . so much left to do today.  I'll be taking plenty of pictures and, I hope, doing a little painting or at least drawing along the way.  Stay tuned!


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