Category Archives: Travel

Back To The Rock Shop?

by Kimberly A. Cook                     (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

A great joy of my recent vacation was sharing the Richardson Rock Shop and Ranch with my Mom. She’d heard the stories and seen some pictures, but it’s not the same as being there. It was our second stop after driving over Mt. Hood; had to fuel up with pancakes at the Black Bear Diner in Madras first, before heading to the rock shop. Another excuse to carbo load!


Enough to make a girl swoon, the geode rock pile!


Upon arrival at the rock shop what to my wondering eyes appeared ? A virtual mountain of Moroccan geodes, mine for the picking. Before there had been a small pile of these uncut beauties at the end of the rock slab shopping table. Now it was a virtual mountain. Be still my little geode lov’in heart.

After a tour of the premises to show Mom all the great rock areas, it was time to get on with the geode shopping. Ever helpful handsome cutter guy told me the best geodes were lightweight. With his help I then proceeded to hand weigh and compare about half that rock pile. Almost. My Mom enjoyed the serious nature of this geode picking business from the shop.


Cutter Guy with the pick of the pile. 


Cutter guy tried to get me to break protocol by peeking into some of the geodes which had small broken holes so you could look inside. Told him there were no peeking guidelines when it came to picking the perfect geode. Finally decided on three to try for cutting after deciding only one would not do.


Fabulous geodes on the half shell! And now for the rock glue geode puzzle to put together. 


Ended up with three great specimens, except when the largest one was cut in half, part of the geode broke on the final cut. Sweet sea biscuits! I gathered up the pieces anyway so now I have TWO geode halves to try and piece back together with the special rock glue. Which means when Gate Girl and I head back this Fall to do some serious digging, I’m going to have to go for another large geode to cut. Good thing we’re taking her truck next time. I may need to load up the back with geodes.


Guard rooster defending the petrified wood block. Notice the committed look in his eye.   


Orlando: Hugs and prayers to all the families, friends, law enforcement personnel, emergency responders and medical staff in Orlando, Florida and across the United States affected by this tragedy. Let’s all hug our families and friends and make memories today.


Making rock shopping memories with Mom. Priceless. And she puts up with me!




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Got Commute Crazies?

by Kimberly A. Cook               (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Is everybody out driving today possessed by demons or is this just commuting? Everyday I head for the day job I see all sorts of bizarre and dangerous driving tricks. My hope is to get to work and back in one piece.


And we’re off into the slowdown! I always feel like a dragster at these ramp lights. But I never get very far in rush hour. Yes, I took the pic when the light was red and before I accelerated. Don’t try this at home campers, I’m a professional photographer. 


I don’t text, talk on a phone or even sing to myself in order to keep track of everyone who thinks they are in a video game. With a long weekend coming up I wanted to list a few of my pet peeves and see if I can get some cooperation out there on the roads.

Turn Signals – These are not an accessory, they are driving tools. The goal is to use the tool BEFORE you make a move. Pulling into the left turn lane and then signaling means you must think I’m psychic. In the military when we marched cadence we had two commands to listen for: the prepatory command and the command of execution. Like RIGHT…… FACE. When a dril sergeant yelled RIGHT, we all knew in a breath to get ready to turn, then when FACE came, we pivoted and turned right together. Most of the time. Turn signals are the same. Put on the turn signal as the preparatory command, then execute a move. Simple.

Bumper Stickers: To amuse myself while stuck in traffic jams or driving I like to catch up on the latest bumper stickers. Favs include “Bark Less, Wag More,” “Cowgirl Mafia” and “Silly Cowboy, Trucks Are For Girls.” So imagine my consternation on a recent drive to work when I spotted a Grumpy Cat bumper sticker that said, “Grumpy Cat Doesn’t Care” and I couldn’t read the rest of it because the type got smaller! So I tried to cuddle up to this person’s bumper at the four way Stop sign, but they took off. I had to Google the darn thing and it turns out “Grumpy Cat Doesn’t Care About Your Stick Figure Family.” Great. Bigger type please.

Off Road: You cannot be too careful when you are out of the car also. A recent shopping trip to Home Depot found me almost getting t-boned in my shopping cart when a dude on an electric cart shot out from a potted palms display and almost took me broad side. It was like being attacked by a tiger popping out of the jungle. Not the best for ones nerves.

So be careful out there in the traffic and keep alert. That includes watching out around palm tree displays. Stay safe out there!



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Got Your 2016 Vacations Planned?

by Kimberly A. Cook              (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

It’s a dark and stormy day here in Oregon with heavy rain and high wind warnings. So what better time to daydream about where and when to take vacations this year? I’ve already requested time off from the day job and I’m looking forward to playing in Oregon.


Suttle Lake outside of Sisters, Oregon – one of my top favorite lakes to visit. Priceless!


The 2015 vacations were all about flying to places and one staycation at home. This year is all about not flying anywhere and motoring around my home state. Places on the travel list are my favorites; Sisters, Depoe Bay, Madras, Sisters again and maybe a surprise or two.

One of the best parts about vacations is the planning and anticipation. A vacation bonus is spending time and making memories with family and friends. There is nothing like a vacation road trip to bring out the nutty and bizarre. This has been true whether travelling with family, friends or in the military. Really wacko things happened in the military. And with my family and friends too, come to think of it.

After my bag dragging days in the Army and Air Force, I now specialize in princess travel as I like to call it; full mosey mode with no aircraft to load, tents to pitch or screaming Drill Sergeants.

It’s always good to get away from home and explore the beautiful sights and sounds of my very own state. Even a quick day trip up the Columbia River Gorge to Hood River seems like a long vacation break. It doesn’t take an overnight trip to get that vacation bounce back in your step.

Got rain? Got vacation plans? Where are you going to venture this year?



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Is It Time For A Swim?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

It’s been wet and windy here in Oregon and the last thing I’ve thought about is taking a dive in the pool. But the folks at the Oregon Zoo thought yesterday was the perfect time to open the new elephant pool!

And guess who is acting like a little submarine? Baby Lily! With the rest of us human creatures running around getting ready for the holidays and trying to finish our to do lists, Lily shows us what is really important; play time!

The Oregon Zoo’s new pachyderm pool is 12 feet deep and 80 feet wide and the water level can be adjusted to be deep enough for big boy Packy or make it shallow for baby Lily. Amazing stuff.

So while we humans are thinking about gray days and rain, the Portland pachyderms are having a blast on the beach at their new swimming hole. Maybe that’s a good lesson for all of us these days. Take time out to play in the puddles.

Know a good place to swim in December?


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Las Vegas Education?

by Kimberly A. Cook           (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Still processing all the things I saw in Las Vegas, but I’ve come up with some lessons learned that might be helpful to others.

Did not see any books in Las Vegas on the Strip. Okay, I saw a couple children’s books at the Siegfried and Roy Dolphin and Tiger Sanctuary, but the only other books I saw were in the Elvis exhibit from what he had on his nightstand. Elvis loved to read. Yes!

White tigers and lions are amazing; tiger cubs even cuter! Tigers are bigger than lions. I had no idea. Cubs make the cutest growly noises when they play.


McDonald’s has some killer oatmeal and it’s way cheaper than $7.99 for a bowl of room service oatmeal. McDonald’s is also smoke free, which cannot be said about any other place on the Strip practically, except Denny’s.

I gamble very little, bet a buck and cashed out at $1.11. Don’t drink much and didn’t go to a show. I wasn’t there for a convention, bachelor or bachelorette party. So I am not their target demographic. I’m good with that. Las Vegas hosts 22,000 conventions a year. That is NOT a typo.

The street performers are everywhere. Personally ran into KISS, Chewbacca, Mickey and Minnie, Hello Kitty, Catwoman, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, multiple Minions, the snowman from Frozen, show girls, dominatrixes (how do you make that plural?) some guy in cowboy boots, cape and red, white and blue underwear who must have been freezing and Darth Vader. To name a few. All I did was walk outside.

Took in the night lights bus tour of the casinos and when everyone was taking pictures of The Mirage volcano erupting, I was taking pictures of them and the rest of the Strip. Another rule from photojournalism; when everybody is looking in one direction, look the other way!


Highlights were seeing the dolphins, lions and tigers and learning about the conservation program to save them all. Enjoyed the Elvis exhibit from Graceland very much. Got to see his actual Army uniform too. The end of the exhibit had a 26-minute film of Elvis performing from 1956 to 1973. You can only see it at this exhibit and it is amazing.

One song in particular he sang hit me pretty hard and I wasn’t the only one tearing up. I’ve thought of it many times since returning home.

In these days before Thanksgiving, I am so glad to live in the USA and be grateful for all I have. Because no matter what happens, America was built by dreamers for dreamers. We have to keep dreaming big.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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Baby Alpacas, Socks And Pink Bears?

by Kimberly A. Cook                 (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

It seems I’ve developed a serious alpaca addiction. While on our girls road trip a couple of weekends ago we drove by a herd of alpacas we hadn’t seen before and I almost slammed on the brakes. This would have happened if we hadn’t had an appointment with some thundereggs and had traffic up my tailpipe.

How cute is this sleeping baby alpaca in the sun? Cuddles!

How cute is this sleeping baby alpaca in the sun? Cuddles!

I looked the ranch up online and found out they were open seven days a week and had the Alpaca Boutique so there was no stopping us from shopping.

On our way home we took a detour to make sure we had to drive by and stop at the Alpaca Boutique at the Crescent Moon Ranch Alpacas in Terrebonne, Oregon.

The babies close by the shop were enjoying a fabulous sunny Sunday afternoon doing what we all wish, dozing in the sun. Such cuties!

Seems they had around 600 alpacas, then downsized and moved the herd to this location with around 175 or so alpacas.

One of the reasons I had to come visit, besides all the alpacas, was a picture online of the fabulous sock wall. Now, I love my alpaca socks, but I’d never seen so many different alpaca socks in my life.

Alpaca sock wall of my dreams!

Alpaca sock wall of my dreams!

When I noticed the pink ones on their web site, you can bet I bagged two pair at the shop.

Not only were we met by one farm cat who was trying to get into the boutique, but upon entering we were greeted by Cash the wonderdog. Obviously his domain is inside since the cats had to stay outside. Some sort of détente arrangement I guess.

Outside farm cat trying to figure out how to break into the boutique.
Outside farm cat trying to break in.

The boutique has a wide selection of clothing from Peru, alpaca wool and socks plus even fabulous stuffed toys like the baby alpacas and the pink teddy bear. So soft and cuddly.

These little alpacas can fit in your apartment. Really.  No feed required.

These little alpacas can fit in your apartment. Really. No feed required.

There was also alpaca feed, so of course I had to buy some and feed my first alpacas. Soft noses, very polite manners and efficient food hoovering.

Feeding Elite his alpaca snacks. A true import from Peru, he is a major award winner and all around star at the ranch. He has excellent manners and a very soft nose.
Feeding Elite his alpaca snacks. A true import from Peru, he is a major award winner and all around star at the ranch. He has excellent manners and a very soft nose.

If you’re out by Bend, Oregon, don’t hesitate to stop at the Crescent Moon Ranch run by Debbie and Scott Miller.

Part of the Alpaca Boutique at the Crescent Moon Ranch in Terrebonne, Oregon
Part of the Alpaca Boutique at the Crescent Moon Ranch in Terrebonne, Oregon

They also have an online store to shop.

Now all I have to do is convince Gate Girl to get an alpaca to keep me in yarn. Cross your fingers!

Got alpacas?

Seriously, doesn't everyone need a pink alpaca teddy bear?

Seriously, doesn’t everyone need a pink alpaca teddy bear?


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Getting Dirty, Thundereggs And Following Your Bliss?

by Kimberly A. Cook                   (Twitter@   WarriorTales)

I never get tired of playing in the dirt, especially when there are treasures to discover. Weekend before last I snatched my rock buddy Joann from her husband and we went on a four-day girl’s shop and rock trip to Sisters, Oregon.

Heading out on the road again to the thunderegg beds! Luckily I'd just put new tires on Subie. Gorgeous scenery.
Heading out to the thunderegg beds! Luckily I’d just put new tires on Subie. 

Stayed at our favorite place, the Best Western Ponderosa Lodge, complete with a killer outdoor hot tub, free breakfast and llamas to feed. Liv’in the dream.

We packed up our gear, filled the gas tank then headed eleven miles North of Madras to the Richardson’s Rock Ranch to hunt thundereggs. I’ve never dug for thundereggs before and this ranch is the mother lode. We also love to buy pretty rocks and geodes here.

Signed our waiver, got our map to the digs and we were off on the gravel road eight miles to the beds at a not-speedy five miles per hour. Takes about 30 minutes to get out there with the gravel road and opening three gates along the way. Since I was driving Subie, Joann became gate girl.

The weather was perfect, 84 degrees with a slight breeze and we were alone at the dig beds. Heaven. It was so quiet. I’ve been living in a neighborhood construction zone the past several months and this was a treat. Complete silence except for a little wind, an occasional bird and my digging.

Happy me sitting in the dirt digging thundereggs.  Priceless!

Happy me sitting in the dirt digging thundereggs. Priceless!

We only had an hour to hunt before we had to hightail it back to the shop, since they close at 5 p.m. We’d moseyed into the day and ended up getting to the ranch later than we expected, so we had to dig fast.

The thundereggs cut in half with the agate showing in the middle. Treasures!

The thundereggs cut in half with the agate showing in the middle. Treasures!

Thundereggs look like clumps of dirt or stone. I followed the directions from the “cutter” at the shop and went two feet out from the cut wall. A girl in the dirt. Happy.

Came across several I wasn’t sure if they were dirt clods or thundereggs, so I tapped them with my garden weed puller. Ended up with about 20 or so round orbs.

Back we tore to the shop, just in time to get several of the thundereggs cut. I picked the large one I dug out of the ground, one that looked like a double and a medium-sized orb. Mr. “Cutter” took them in the back and brought them out wet in the sun for us to see. Fabulous.

It’s like finding gifts inside a plastic Easter egg but better; these natural agate gifts are made by Mother Nature. We ran out of time to have more thundereggs cut, so I may need to find someone here with the skills. Or maybe we need another girl’s road trip to Richardson’s Rock Ranch? Yes!

Close-up view. So exciting. Buried treasures. Must learn how to polish them.

Close-up view. So exciting. Buried agate. 

And I need to wet polish them. Another craft project, I do believe.

Story of the thunderegg

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