Goin’ to Mt. Pilot, Paw!

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Mount Airy, the home of the Andy Griffith show, lies in the shadow of Pilot Mountain. In fact, I understand that little Opie said at least once to his paw, that he was headed to Mt. Pilot.

This mountain is unique in that it has a big ol’ nub that sticks out, and you can see it for miles. In fact, coming South on I-77, you can see Pilot Mountain from Virginia – about an hour away!

From the top of Pilot Mountain, you can see a gorgeous view of Winston-Salem and the farmland surroundings. Pilot Mountain is one of the most notable views in the state of North Carolina.

Spooky!

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On this fine October Sunday morning, the air smells of fall, which in many cases, reminds people of Halloween. It is in that spirit (see what I did there?) that I chose this creepy picture. On the outskirts of true blue ghost town Rhyolite, NV , lies two spine-tingling items of note: the Goldwell Open Air Art Museum, and the town cemetery.

The beauty of art is a powerful emotion. Here, set in the backdrop of a deserted ghost town, the art especially takes on an air of eeriness. The piece “Ghost Rider”, shown here, was created by artist Albert Szukalski. Szukalski has a few pieces in this strange collection, including the amazing “Last Supper”.

Rhyolite sits right on the edge of Death Valley. It was founded in 1904, and grew exponentially for the next two years. In 1907, however, the city began to falter, and it “died” in 1916.

A few people decided to stick around for their lifetimes, and many were buried in the dusty, gritty cemetery outside of town. During daylight, the town, cemetery, and art installations all seem safe enough, but the harsh desert air feels like it is hiding secrets of the past – secrets we probably don’t want to know anything about!

Guardians of the Mojave

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The Mojave Desert is a strange animal. Somewhat equi-distant from Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and San Diego, the Mojave is similar to Death Valley, but has a completely different vibe and personality. It is the dusty, miserable home of 29 Palms – the U.S. Marine installation. It also houses the often-mysterious Edwards AFB and the U2-inspiring Joshua Tree National Park.

The original Route 66 also runs through this area, so you can imagine what might have been there 50 years ago. Roy’s Gas Station and Motel is there, as is one of Roadside America’s grand oddities, “The Shoe Tree”. Which, sadly, has fallen due to its own popularity.

As with many views of the Southwest, one can see for miles – and travel miles before seeing another car or person. One can almost envision Jim Morrison and the Doors dropping acid and dancing with the snake.

And there, in the middle of the desert, not far from a crater of celestial origin, sits two imperial Chinese guardians, marking a non-existent gate, perhaps a quarter mile in length. What they are guarding, exactly, is a mystery. How long have they been there? What is their purpose? Why there? The questions are as endless as the desert itself.

The only thing known for sure is that mysteries abound in the beautiful, magical desert. I often found myself wondering how many skeletons lie in and upon the desert dirt, and what stories could they tell?

Amitabha Stupa

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The Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park, located in Sedona, Arizona, sits in a quiet corner of a neighborhood at the base of thunder mountain. I am a big fan of Buddhist beliefs, so it was a joy to visit on our last trip to Sedona.

The park provides a few short hiking trails, which are lined with Buddhist statues and prayer flags. You can also find crystals and rosaries hanging from trees.

As visitors reach the Stupa, they make their intentions, and meditate on those intentions as they make three trips around the Stupa in a clockwise direction.

This photo is from the rear of the Stupa, and in the background, you can see some of the amazing and beautiful rock formations that the West is known for. If you look closely, you can also see a woman in white meditating in the sun as the Stupa’s shadow makes its way towards her.

This picture was taken on Thanksgiving weekend, 2014. It was a rushed trip, but we did have the opportunity to take a great four-hour train ride into a canyon, where the leaves were starting to change.

Hola, mi Hermano!

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For a hundred miles along I-95, the weary traveler can keep up on the antics of “Pedro”, the mascot of South of the Border.

South of the Border is nothing more than a tourist trap, created to give families someplace to stop, stretch their legs and exercise their wallets along the road from Maine to Florida (or Florida to Maine, depending how you look at it!).

The half-mile stretch of road just off I-95, at the Northernmost exit in South Carolina – just South of the North Carolina/South Carolina border – is lined with multi-colored Pedros, such as the one in this picture. From this angle, I like to think that the red-hatted little Pedro is looking up to his big brother, Pedro, thinking that someday, he will be able to follow in his brother’s sombrero, and hold the sign that welcomes pilgrims to the holy land of chatchki, funky hats, kooky mugs, and lousy t-shirts.

As trite as it may sound, there is one truth of South of the Border – you truly never sausage a place!