I have been working on some videos from our recent Excellent Adventure. I use iMovie, which is quite good once you get the hang of it. It has a good library of sounds, including music, but they really do not fit my style.
At the same time, I have been hunting for a good audio source to accompany my drumming. I can produce drone-like sounds typical of the Didgeridoo on my electronic drums. I like that it provides a backdrop without forcing me into a set rhythm or tempo.
Finally, I have been sleeping with white noise for many years now. I found that playing the background noise in the house adds a very pleasant yet non-intrusive touch.
Along comes myNoise. It was developed by a Dutch guy who is really crazy about sounds. Travels all over the world, recording and collaborating with other like-minded people. The result is like the answer to my dreams.
There is a catalog of hundreds of different titles. Each title can be manipulated to add, remove, or change the level of different components of the sound with slider controls. The slider controls can be animated to change levels over time cyclically. Pitch can be accurately controlled. You can play multiple titles together to create combined sounds. It is truly a remarkable piece of programming.
Despite the heavy rain, we left Memphis and headed for Nashville. An overnight there, and we were on our way to North Carolina.
The drive from Knoxville to Scaly Mountains through the Smokey Mountains was very scenic. We probably stopped at the trip’s most excellent rest stop, near the Blue Ridge Parkway.
We enjoyed three nights with Dave, Lisa, and the Girls. We got a couple of great hikes in and enjoyed Lisa’s most excellent culinary delights! Jake got to say hi to his cousins Elly and Bonnie. And I finally made it up late enough to see the sunset!
We had a torrential downpour on the first afternoon! Lightning cracking all around! Poor Elly Mae was not a happy pupper!
The only thing left to do now is make it home. Wow. It’s hard to believe our nearly three months on the road are at an end. What a fantastic time it has been.
My parents were not fans of Elvis Presley. Although he was only ten years younger than they were, I never heard either one of them express any interest in his music. It was impossible to grow up in the 60s and not know of him. Then in the 70s, he seemed to lose it ala Michael Jackson and Prince.
The one thing I always remembered more than anything about Elvis was Graceland. And the only thing I knew about Graceland was the Jungle Room. Can you even imagine? And apparently, girls were everywhere. A young boy’s fantasies come true!
Then Paul Simon came along and made it famous again in the 90s. One of my favorite albums where every song – including this one – is memorable. I guess it was always meant to be that I would make it here one day.
Driving up the parking lot to the entrance was a bit of a disappointment. That’s what Simon’s first impression was. It looked like a giant strip mall. Once inside, I learned the Mansion was across the street. I secured a 10:30 AM tour and toured the museums.
When he started to become famous, somebody decided to keep everything he ever had, every photo taken of him – every bit of him. There were about half a dozen significant themes – his toys, movies, and even a tribute to other rockers that acknowledged his greatness (just to keep him relevant!).
Between each one was a gift shop nearly the size of the exhibit!
You name it, it was there, including this $4,025 replica of the outfit he wore in his Hawaii special.
The tour lets you walk through the first floor of the mansion. It was stunning – I loved his bohemian style.
The trophy room had more personal stuff of his, like his student discount card. But it was this stuff, like the slot car, that I related to because I played with these growing up.
Finally, the pool and meditation garden served as the graves of Elvis and his family. Quite moving.
I am glad I came. The most expensive thing I’ve done so far on the trip. Not even in the same category as Yosemite or the Redwoods. But it’s a unique piece of Americana.
And as the man says: Poor boys and pilgrims with families, And we are going to Graceland.
We woke up the next morning to a downpour with bolts of lightning flying about! Great way to wrap up the tour!
East to Nashville and then to the mountains of North Carolina for a visit to Browns Mountian.
Three days to cross Texas and get to Memphis. Elvis awaits!
We left Carlsbad and drove through the land of the dead oil wells for most of the morning. Very few wells were pumping. In some places, you could see them to the horizon. The towns we went through looked deserted for the most part. Later in the drive, we started hitting the ones that were operating.
We got to the RV Park to discover they had a hot tub! The scenery on the drive into the area left me underwhelmed, as did the stuff I read about Lubbock. So I passed in favor of sitting in the hot tub that afternoon and left early the following day.
The second day’s drive started in the grasslands. A lot of water, and everything was green as usual. Eventually, I got into some very pretty hills with smaller mesas and buttes off in the distance.
The were a lot of large cattle ranches with cool names. That leads into Wichita Falls through several large wind farms. I love driving through these monsters!
I discovered you can see a map of all installations in the US. On average, a single turbine can power about 1000 homes. Blades are about 100 feet long.
I listened to Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls on the way in. It was the number-one Jazz LP in 1981. I love It’s For You – the perfect nostalgia song.
They were so young, and their music was so fresh. I started listening to them in the late 1970s. Now, Pat is my age, has three kids still in school, and tours all the time. Probably the most successful jazz guitarist ever. Lyle died early several years ago after stepping back from music to become an IT consultant. And here I am 40+ years later – finally there 😎.
It turns out the original falls that the city was named after were destroyed in a flood in the early 1800s. It wasn’t until the 1980s that another one was built. They pump river water out to make it work.
I have to say I was a little disappointed when I saw it. Like the fountain in your backyard – only bigger 🤣. It looks like a giant chocolate fountain to me 🤩. Slightly more brown than my toxic waste spill in New Mexico 🤮.
The Chamber of Commerce must be proud – you can see it from the fucking freeway. So Falls Wichita Falls – indeed!
Back on the road. Lots of cattle ranches. Lots of trucks too. I got the impression there are a lot of second homes for the urban folks here. Primarily it was just grazing farmland. They have a lot of pull-outs with picnic tables which make for nice places to stop.
This is one end of a train line established in 1874 originating in St Louis. It has twin cities in Texas and Arkansas. We are just barely on the Texas side.
The state line runs right down the middle of the fucking freeway here. There is a sign somewhere. It’s rated a 4-star tourist attraction on Google!
I’ll pass again and get an early start. It will be good to get out of Texas again. Bad vibes all around for the most part, although I didn’t see too much of the Fuck Biden stuff on this leg of the trip.
So here we go!
I’m going to Graceland For reasons I cannot explain There’s some part of me wants to see Graceland And I may be obliged to defend Every love, every ending Or maybe there’s no obligations now Maybe I’ve a reason to believe We all will be received In Graceland
Last stop of the New Mexico portion of the journey before heading home. I visited Carlsbad in 1978 on my gross country trip before graduate school. I remember it was a welcome relief to the hot weather I had been traveling through! And the Bashful Elephant.
The drive from Roswell was short, hot, and flat. We passed through the biggest dairy farm I had ever seen – the were thousands of cows, and the stench nearly gave me a headache! We arrived and watched an enormous thunderhead threaten us with rain.
I made a reservation for an 8:30 AM tour. Jake got to stay home this morning. Interestingly, the park has a kennel – the first I have seen so far on our journeys. The drive took me about an hour. The canyon leading to the caves was very scenic.
The caverns were initially explored around 1900. Local ranchers used to collect the batshit (aka guano) for fertilizer. Eventually, it was turned into a National Park. Elevators were installed in the 1950s, and Rangers would lead tour groups through the caverns. The elevator shaft was one of the tallest at the time, going some 750 feet down. You can also hike the original entrance, adding about 1 1/2 hours each way.
One person on my trip commented it was the most fantastic thing they had ever seen. I felt the same level of awe that I did when visiting the Redwoods earlier in the trip.
It was an epic experience, with every turn opening up to a more incredible vista than the last. I applauded the lighting design – it really made the caverns come alive.
The whole loop took me about 1 1/2 hours. One of the highlights of the trip!
Alas – the Bashfull Elephant was nowhere to be found.
Guadalupe Mountains National Park
This was our last stop on the Big Kahuna as originally planned. This came on the list later in the trip after seeing the mountain range from Las Cruces some two months earlier!
I knew there was not much there to see – but hey – it is a National Park. As an official National Park Geek Club member, I needed to check it off my list! And wouldn’t you know – it was the only stop where it rained the whole time we were there.
We learned that this whole mountain range, including Carlsbad Caverns, was, at one point in time, a vast ocean reef. They call these fossil mountains because they are built on ancient sea creatures’ fossils. Amazing!
It was actually quite cool – cooling, that is! We managed to get on a quick hike and watch the thunderstorm! I tried to get some shots with lighting – but the weather just wouldn’t cooperate. Hah 🤣!