Two Lane Gems, Vol. 1

Two Lane Gems, Vol. 1

Two Lane Gems is a love letter to America. It's a collection of stories and vignettes, inspiration and information, designed to showcase the beauty of this country. It's taking the exit and entering a world of pride and change and survival. It's a tale of kindness and indomitable spirit.

It's also a dream come true.

Ever since I was a little girl I've wanted to travel the country and tell its stories in prose and photos. I'm making that dream a reality with an epic road trip covering nearly 6,500+ miles from Elgin, IL, to San Diego, CA, and back. My (amazingly supportive) husband and I left the Chicago area February 17 and returned on March 19, and along the way we collected stories, experiencing as many places as possible, and captured it all in words and images.

Now that we've returned the real work begins. I'm taking all of those experiences and sharing the stories here and - here comes the big dream - I'm writing a book about the journey. This culmination will showcase the people we've met and the places we've seen. 

You can see bits and pieces of what the finished product will be on this website. Hopefully, that will inspire you to sign up to be the first notified when "Two Lane Gems, Vol. 1" is available.

Things you'll learn about when you read Two Lane Gems, Vol. 1:

*the most important archaeological site in North America
*a town with no right angles
*saving wild cats from stupid people
*how bison from Texas ended up in Oklahoma by way of New York
*turkeys are jerks
*why Albuquerque is called Duke City
*what it's like to talk to a World War II vet
*riding a vintage train with a singing engineer
*what's a schneck
*why you should always talk to the locals
*how to grow a date
*not getting blown up by unexploded ordnance
*a love story at a motel (not *that* kind of love story)
*why a high school is filled with criminals
*how a children's book became the center of the world


Thanks for your support, and I hope you enjoy these Two Lane Gems!

Verde Canyon Railroad

Ever since I heard there was an abandoned Mountain Lion Zoo on Route 66 - which we’d missed the first time we passed through - it was on our itinerary.

Jim and Theresa at Joshua Tree overlooking the Salton Sea

Our night in Winslow was gloriously uneventful. We booked a cheap motel instead of camping as originally planned, found a local pizza buffet, and by 8 o’clock I was in bed. GLORIOUS, I tell you.

Petroglyph National Monument and more stuff carved into rocks

When a couple has driven more than 2100 miles and spent a day and a half of the past eight in the car, what could possibly make that couple turn around and go the opposite direction?

Red Horse Vineyard Bed and Breakfast in Albuquerque New Mexico

Before I introduce you to Red Horse Vineyard Bed & Breakfast I have to warn you: I am going to be so blatantly over-the-top and my prose so filled with hyperbole that you’ll think I’ve gone on

Rio Bravo Brewing Company in Albuquerque, New Mexico

Beer is big in Albuquerque. It’s so big they have a Brewery District. Capital B. Capital D.

The past is present at the Jemez Historic Site in New Mexico

The Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites in New Mexico are a step back in time, but they also help illustrate the Pueblo Indians of today.

Bottger Mansion in Old Town Albuquerque

What’s the #1 reason you don’t want to stay in a bed and breakfast? Come on. You can say it. You’re in a safe place.

It’s the breakfast part, isn’t it.

San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town Albuquerque

You might expect a tourist destination to be filled with tourist traps.

I-40 in New Mexico

The drive into Albuquerque was an endless stream of giant yellow billboards extolling the many virtues of the Flying C R


As we got back on I-40 for the short drive, relatively speaking, to Albuquerque, I thought about everything we’d seen an

Blue Hole of Santa Rosa

There are no two ways around it: I-40 through the Texas panhandle is a beast. That’s primarily because there are no two ways around it.

Palo Duro Canyon - Prairie Dog Town Fork

Selecting Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge and Palo Duro Canyon State Park as destinations for this road trip was based on geography, geology, and convenience.

Bison in the distance at Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

We’d driven under an overcast sky all morning and into the afternoon, but by the time we entered the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge in Western Oklahoma all was clear and blue except for one orph

Sign for Thomas Ranch in Oklahoma

You know how you feel when you’ve been going non-stop, pushing yourself and getting no sleep and eating everything you’r

Cherokee Hills Byway, taken on the Two Lane Gems Tour

As we left Bentonville I was a touch trepidatious about the next leg of our journey. It was Sunday. We left Friday. We were already getting a little loopy and taking bets on when I’d forget what day it was, and now we were headed to the middle of southern Oklahoma and another more-than-packed exhaustion-inducing schedule.

If you were to tell me that Alice Walton, the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, and I had anything in common besides our gender, nationality, and race, I would scoff and think you were a litt

Tiger at Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge

This should go without saying: tigers don’t make good pets. Nor do leopards, or lions, or bobcats.

Red truck on an open road

One of the biggest expenses of any road trip is gas.

Mardi Gras Parade in Eureka Springs, Arkansas

I have no idea what the rest of Arkansas is like, but I get the feeling it's not like Eureka Springs.

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My husband and I traveled 6,479 miles to find places that are unique, changed the course of history, made the world a better place, showcased survival, or were just plain cool. I’m sharing our journey in “Two Lane Gems, Vol. 1.”