ARE WE THERE YET?

The age old question of travel, are we there yet?   We’re at one of the “theres” right now, with lots more to go . . . want to see what we’ve seen?  Oh yes, we could write a book!  MUSICA.

This is life on the road.  Not elegant, but functional. Which is saying something.

Our daily in, looks just like our daily out, only pointing in the opposite direction.

The long and winding road.  If you ever feel crowded where you are, just know there’s plenty space left in this beautiful wide-open country . . .

. . . amongst waves of grass and wild Black-eyed Susans, where clouds drain down the sky and graze the tops of mountain ranges, with views so wide, and an infrastructure so encompassing, all your “proud to be an American” buttons get pressed.  Words like, “purple mountains majesty” and “fruited plain” come to mind. . .

Unfortunately, we are efficient bug killers out here.

And did you know that Lake Michigan is so big it has waves and looks just like the ocean?  I think you could surf Lake Michigan!

It’s a lovely place to catch the sunset and the last of the summer evening breezes.

There are a lot of happy people in this world . . . you see it everywhere you go.

We found this at a blues music festival in Iowa City . . . . we walked through it to get to the bookstore (Prairie Lights) there and this was my favorite thing . . .

A public bucket list!  Make a difference! ~ Be Happy! ~ Jam with Kiss! ~ Change the World! 

Motorcycles are a big part of road life!  Motorcyclists are a very festive bunch of people!  This is Goshen, Indiana and this huge group has joined together to honor the fallen heroes and first responders now and on Sept. 11.

And history, plenty of colorful American history out there.  Here we are in cowboy country, Dodge City, Kansas at Boot Hill.

Joe finds me working on the car in the parking lot and is wondering what I am doing since the car is HIS department.

But I’m in charge of decorating.

. . . for the Fine Romance Van.

Which fits in everywhere we go . . . especially here in Hog Wild country, we wiggle our butt in between all the other piglets, we make this grouping into a party — then we go inside and buy Kansas-Barbecued everything to eat in the car!

This is the visor on my side of the car.  I know you recognize Girl and Jack, but who is that third kitty?  It belongs to one of our Girlfriends who sent this photo to me just before we left ~ I brought it along.  It fit in so perfectly.

On we go, munching beef brisket, ribs, and powak bah-ba-cue, under a sky wide as forever.

Then, in New Mexico, no doubt about it, we found us some weather.

Even while a corner of the sun was still peeking through the clouds, the rain began and the van was blown sideways, rocked by the wind . . .

It got a little wild with the water flying up; passing a truck was like being on the inside of a car wash . . . clouds churned into blackness and we moved toward it.

But we came out of it as we went in, with blue skies and beautiful wildflower-strewn Arizona waiting on the other side . . .

And suddenly, there’s that sign again, we see it every time we drive across country.  “Meteor Crater” just rings every one of Joe’s bells, he wants to go there so much and we’ve never have time before.  But this time, we hit the breaks and off we go, six miles down the flat road to nowhere . . .

And at the end, a museum on the side of a hill, where we buy tickets to see a crater that was formed by a meteor 50,000 years ago.

And it’s a crater alright.  No doubt about it.  I recognized it immediately.  Flat desert, but all around this hole in the ground is a steep hill.  When the meteor hit, it pushed all the dirt up and around it in a perfect circle, like the well you make with flour to drop the egg in when you are making pasta (if you know what I mean).

It has a platform a ways down you reach by a steep stairway where people go to get extra close to take pictures.

People like Joe.  But not people like me who stay up top, not on a dangling platform, and take pictures of the people who do.

Inside the museum you can stand in front of a photo that makes you look like you are down in the crater, but of course, you aren’t!

And then we’re on the road again, for more wildflower roadside of Arizona . . .

So pretty we have to stop and take pictures, along with other fellow travelers and admirers of beauty.

Smells of pine and sage, in the high desert south of Flagstaff.

Closeup and personal with the flora and fauna . . .

And views that go forever . . .

Wild asters and all the rest of it  . . .

And then, we arrive, at destination ground zero.  Cottonwood Arizona, at home with the Blog Daddy,

. . . and about to have one of our very favorite dinners in the world . . .

And that’s it for today Girlfriends.  Yes, all those new things in the last post that we ran out of already?  More are coming!  More Peter Rabbit Emma cups, more Charms, more Bobeche, and you know, more A FINE ROMANCE books too, it’s all on the way!  Tea too, end of this month, and Tea Tins!  Also, for you California Girls I posted new information for our EVENT on the Central Coast in San Luis Obispo, and added another bookstore, famous old Independent Bookstore, Vroman’s in Pasadena.  Be sure to check those events every so often!  OK, I’ll give the Blog Daddy a big hug from you!  XOXO

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644 Responses to ARE WE THERE YET?

  1. Dee Dee Osborne says:

    Susan, I’m really looking forward to Remnants of the Past in San Luis Obispo. I just entered the contest for dinner with you! My daughter lives in Paso Robles, so I will be able to spend the weekend with her. The owners of Vroman’s are friends of ours and I did email them about trying to get you to their book store. Hope I had a little influence, but probably not. Anyway, happy you are going to be there. Jill Sheldon and I went to high school together in Santa Barbara. You will enjoy meeting her. Since I enjoy your blog so much, thought it was only fair of me to respond once in awhile to all that you share with us. Your cheerfulness is a real tonic in my life! I am on my second reading of your book and look forward to being able to buy your other books.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh you probably did Dee Dee, I’m sure they listen to the Girlfriends! Plus, you’re high school friends! Love hearing from you … see you at Remnants!

  2. Ann Y in PA says:

    What a journey, what a ride…what a trip to take together ! Hello to Blog Daddy and keep us posted in a PA spot turns up in events on the way back….would just LOVE it !

  3. Kathy Phenix says:

    Another great post! Your pictures are wonderful, especially the “squeeze between the hog vans”. Do you get much reaction to your van as you drive down the highways?? I think I’d be falling out of my car if I saw your van next to me!
    We do live in a beautiful country and it never seems soooo big until you drive across it. When my brother left for Vietnam, I flew from CT to CA to help my new sister in law drive his GTO back home. What a drive!! We were only 20 and 21 and after one night in the desert in the dark, we never drove after sundown again. All we could see were animal eyes reflecting our headlights and then in the middle of nowhere a Best Western motel appeared. I’ve been fond of Best Western ever since. Enjoy your visit with dad. Hope to catch you signing books in FL sometime this winter.

    • sbranch says:

      We kind of forget as we’re driving along and don’t really think to look for reaction. But we’ve had several people talk to us about it, and every time we get out of it, we say to ourselves, “Isn’t our van just darling?” So maybe no one notices, but for sure, we are having fun with it!

      LOL, I was down near Palm Springs in the dessert, driving under the stars in a convertible with my girlfriend when we were about 19 and for some odd reason the entire car turned off. Just off. We came to a slow, very quiet, gravelly stop, in the total dark on a very lonely road. Looking for a space ship to come get us! We turned the key and it started right back up. What a moment!

  4. Andrea from Ithaca, NY says:

    What a gorgeous country we have! (Thanks for sharing the photos.) Glad you’re safe and sound. Keep on blogging-I’m such a fan. Give your dad lots of love from us. He’s such a rock-star! 🙂 Shine on, girlfriend. Love you lots! Xxxoxox

  5. Mary Pat says:

    Thank you, Susan for another great visit! We called across the country about 42 years ago along route 80 from Massachusetts to Maine and then to California and back! Hope to repeat the cross country part next summer, but in our camper! No more tents for me! Your trip just make me smile thinking of our long ago trip and all the fun things that you just can not plan ( like Meteor Crater)! Give your Dad hugs. You are so lucky to still have your parents!

    Finished”A Fine Romance”, even though O tried to make it last forever! Loved every minute! Now I’ll have to read it all over again!

    Safe travels.

  6. bobbie says:

    Susan, I’ve followed you the whole trip… all the while wondering if you’d be stopping in Arizona! I couldn’t believe it when I read that your Daddy lives in Cottonwood! Altho I currently live in Prescott, Cottonwood has always been home. Wishing there’d been a bookstore close for you to do a signing – altho, there wouldn’t have been any books left for sure by the time you got to AZ…. Glad you’re enjoying your trip!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you! Wonderful weather we’re having Bobbie!

      • Jo Gemmill says:

        Hi Susan…we have the kettle on, scones in the oven and are keeping everything crossed that you manage a “drive-by” off of Carefree Highway and can squeeze in a trip to the English Rose Tea Room! We are on summer hours but will open extra early in the hopes of a right Royal visit :-).

        Jo & the Tea Room Girls xxxx

        • sbranch says:

          Trying . . . haven’t left Cottonwood yet, will probably be on the road by 10-10:30 . . .

          • Beverly Brewer says:

            Hi Susan and Joe—if it works out that you have time to stop at the English Rose Tea Room, we’ll be tickled pink!. I am just leaving to go there myself, so if we pass each other on the Carefree Hwy, I’ll be in a silver Jeep Wrangler and will probably be the one driving off the road if I see your van! I heard that our Carefree Hwy was the actual road that inspired the song by Gordon Lightfoot.

          • sbranch says:

            We missed you by a slim margin … but finally gave up because we needed to be in Indio when the twins got home from school, and we knew it would tack on an extra hour which we just didn’t have. We’re going to try again on the way home in November! Sorry to miss you ~ those hot scones were calling my name!

        • Arline in LA says:

          Hi Jo, soooo glad to hear about you! My husband and I are in Arizona every spring for days and days of Dodger Spring training games. Your tea room looks so cute! Now I’ll actually have a reason to look forward to next year’s pre-season. Cheers! Arline in LA

  7. MaryAnn says:

    Susan, it is so nice to catch up with your blog. Our computer was down for quite a while, but now we have new, more efficient one, so it is nice to “be back”. The computer bit the dust right after I received our new book, and I had started it but had to put it aside for a while. I am starting it again from page one! I have been going to write (and if I already did, pardon the repetition!), but things have been sort of upside down in our world. The week after the computer quit, a windstorm blew through our valley in southeastern Washington state and a tree fell on our vehicle and totaled it. It was a big old silver maple and just crushed our sturdy Suburban! And then the next week, my precious 91 year old dad died. We were so blessed to have him for so long, but it is a bittersweet time-glad that he no longer suffers, but we miss him so. Lots of sweet remembering, family gathered, a really special time. And, we have the new computer and a newer vehicle ( another sturdy rig to haul grandsons around!)-lots of new and different things in life to get accustomed to. It has been good to pull familiar Autumn things out of boxes and put them in place. So glad you got all your things out before you left. And I’m especially happy that you are able to spend time with your dad. It made me smile when I read today that you are there with him. Enjoy this special time!

    • sbranch says:

      So much going on for you! But balance, a bit wobbly, does seem to be returning . . . happy autumn to you and yours, I’m so sorry for your loss, but I understand about the bittersweetness of it. I had that with my Grandma.

      • MaryAnn says:

        Thank you, Susan, for your kind thoughts. Yes, balance is returning. My two sisters and I and our husbands are going to a beautiful lake in northeastern Oregon this weekend. It is Wallowa Lake, and we are staying at the lodge there. It is the weekend of their Alpenfest. Lots to do–arts and craft and antique fair, a gondola ride up the mountain, polka, bratwurst, ales– and no big plans to have to do anything but relax! The best kind of plans. I am taking “A Fine Romance” along, for reading by the fire in the lodge! I am enjoying every page.

  8. Cheyenne Renard says:

    So thrilled u make it to Cottonwood AZ and to ur daddys home . Hello to Jake or blog daddy. I sure wished u would come by Las Vegas even with out books . Will there be books in Pasadena or in San Luis ? I would love to get to come to one of those book stores. I would hope they will have books. i know u said that new ed will be shipped in Oct my BD is Oct 6th maybe by then ha. Where is it that u love to eat when u n your dad n Joe go out there in Cottonwood ? Where does u mother live? i wish u all the best , i bet u miss ur kitties i know they miss u next time set up a video camera so u can see them , n they can see u both. Hope to see u while in Ca love to you all .Blessings and God watch over u all XXX love Cheyenne XXX ur dad looks so cute wished mine were here i miss them both XXX

  9. Rebecca says:

    Oh – you’re only 1 hour away from me in Anthem, AZ! I remember looking up your book signing schedule to see if you’d be anywhere near and didn’t see a thing. Had I known you’d be having dinner so close, I would have met you personally :-). Maybe my little Molly & I can meet you in Cottonwood tomorrow evening!??!! But seriously, if you are passing through, it would be jolly fun to have a cup of tea with you & Joe!!!

    Glad you’re enjoying my neck of the woods!!! Your AZ photos are just lovely – you’ve really captured the beauty of Arizona well.
    Happy Travels,
    Rebecca

    • sbranch says:

      Wish we could, but I would have to leave Blog Daddy who might have a perterbance if we started wandering around in a social way (although he would tell me, go ahead, have fun!)! 🙂

  10. Sandi Barre' says:

    Susan,I’m always in awe of your artistic talent,writing abiltiy,fabulous receipes,decorating skills and the warmess of your heart,but now I’m sure you are the Queen of All athleticness…you are squatting to put the bumper sticker on the van! Just the other day, I said how I wish I could squat like when I was a kid….hats off to you!

    • sbranch says:

      ha ha ha Queen of all atheleticness, this is definitely a first! You should see my mom! She’s the Queen of atheleticness! Sit on the floor everyday with your legs out, bend and touch your toes. Keep doing it until you can actually touch your toes. Then never stop doing it. I think that will fix it so you too can be the Queen of all atheleticness! 🙂

  11. Cheyenne Renard says:

    Oh Sue n Joe n Blog Daddy, i always loved ur kitties , our mama cat was like ur Girl kitty well i loved seeing pic of ur boy Jack well i used to think id love to have one like him , well some one left off a cute tux cat she look n acts like Jack. I have to take a picture of it but Babbette actually packs her self i said to my hubby Robert well we can now send her to see and play with Jack , she actually packs her self so when i can i will post a pic for u to laugh at , its so funny to see her she becomes so compact she is not small she is long and tall id guess almost 1 yr old she was about 5-6 mo old when we resqued her , So when i can i will send a pic of Babs packed for Marthas Vineyard % Jack Branch-Hall ok love u Cheyenne

  12. Nancy B says:

    What a happy surprise I had today. When I checked my email I noticed my order had shipped from Susan Branch. Then while I was reading your blog, the doorbell rang….and it was the package! I took your advice and ordered a 2014 calendar before they were gone. I also ordered a Heart of the Home cookie cutter. It will come in handy because I get to help make cookies for your visit here. 🙂 It won’t be long now. I enjoyed your post today. I really must make those ribs for my hubby! Loved the picture of your dad in Levi’s. He looks quite happy to have you there at last. Maybe while you are visiting your mom, you can talk her into getting an I-pad. She really needs to follow her daughter’s blog; in between tennis matches, that is.

    Wishing you safe travels the rest of the way!
    Nancy (from Bakersfield)

    • sbranch says:

      We are going to try with my mom. She is SUCH a communicator, but always with letters — even tho she’s a whiz at typing. I would sure like to share photos with her … not to mention an email every morning would make me very happy!

  13. Nettie says:

    Ok I just have to see that van up close and personal!!!! It looks like you and Joe are having a wonderful time. What a beautiful country we live in and just think you went to England to gather memories to take all across our big beautiful USA.
    I love the photo of your Dad, my husband sits in his big blue chair that way and it used to annoy me; but now I think it is cute!

  14. Alison from RI says:

    Hi Ms. Branch,

    I love your pictures! I’ve never been to the west, and it just looks so vast! I’ve grown up here in New England, and have lived in the same little state, same little town, and same house my whole life, (which I love) but I’m just not used to seeing sky like that! There’s always trees in the way! And though I do live in the ocean state, there’s always SOME island or inlet in view, so I’ve never seen something so clear! The weather looks as beautiful there as it is here. The trees are beginning to turn, and everywhere people are picking apples and pulling out rugs. We had our first “sea smoke” last week, which was beautiful.
    Thanks for taking everyone on your journey, and have a fun rest of your trip! I wish the tour had come to RI!

    — Alison from Little Rhody (Age 19)

    • sbranch says:

      It will Alison, a little later, after we get home. Hope I can meet you there. Love “Little Rhody!” The first time Joe came out west with me, the phrase for that trip was, “Ahhhh, the vistas!” He felt the same as you, how big the sky was. He had tears in his eyes when we came through the tunnel at Yosemite and he saw the entire Yosemite Valley for the first time — it’s so different from the east where he’s lived all his life. You’re only 19, I see plenty of road trips in your future!

      • Alison from RI says:

        Yay! I will most definitely come!!! I know a LOT of people that love your work around here! (Including me!) I certainly hope there are road trips! Thanks! 🙂

        – Alison

    • Karen C says:

      Alison,
      What is sea smoke? Just wondering.
      Karen C from NC

      • Alison from RI says:

        Hi Karen!
        Sea smoke is the phenomenon on really cold mornings when the air is far colder than the water, which results in what looks like the ocean is producing steam, but it is really just a hazy cloud over the ocean. I’ve only ever seen it here in NE and the Canadian Maritimes up towards PEI. But it is beautiful, especially with the sunrise! (Usually it disappears as the sun burns it off.) And when it happens, we know Autumn has arrived! 🙂

        • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

          Thanks for the “morning science” Alison! It sounds just beautiful…..especially to the landlocked.

  15. Jeanette says:

    Helloooo Susan!!!
    So glad you’ve arrived safe & sound to your Dad’s, I feel much better! And, thanks sharing your travel pics! Wonderful!

    I was showing my sweetienthe crater pics and he said, “i’ve always wanted to go ther!”. He’s my 6’4″, Leo! :). What a coincidence! I too would be perched exactly where you were and he’d be on the platform just like Joe!

    Please send my heartfelt condolences to your Dad for his loss of Daisy. They really do leave pawprints on our hearts, Forever! I know all too well!

    Sade travels to California! Can’t wait for the re-stock I was able to get a few goodies, want the bobeches and some other treats! I’m staying tuned! Sherri was fabulous to work with!

    Warms hugs and oodles of love from the bitty bottom of my heart!
    XooX,
    Jeanette

  16. Jeanette says:

    Apologies for the typos, I think a gremlin hit my Ipad tonight!?!

  17. A Girlfriend from Southwest Missouri says:

    Yay!! Dad!! Glad you arrived safe and sound. Have fun! oxo

  18. Jacquie says:

    I have been yearning for the Southwest lately and these picture remind why! I noticed here you have a star pillow case(?). Several years back I had a set of flannel star sheets, similar to what I see peeking out of your tote. I LOVED those sheets – super soft, and cozy and I had a thing for stars at the time. (I think they came from LL Bean). I have been looking for them for years without luck…may I ask where you got yours?

    • sbranch says:

      They did have them in flannel too, I think I got them at Garnet Hill (Kids) … but I’ve looked and looked for more from them, and never have luck. I still have one surviving set. Maybe we should write letters and beg?

  19. Carolyn Chism says:

    It’s Ralston my grandkitty! You know, Ralston had a rough start in life — he and his litter were tossed out in a paper bag on the highway and his head hit the cement divider wall. “They” said he would never amount to much due to brain damage. Thank God his mom, who grew up to be a veterinarian, didn’t listen to everyone and brought him home. He has grown up to be a very loving and wonderful cat. When he lived with us for a while this year he would sit at my computer while I showed him the adventures of Jack and Girl. And now he is sharing new adventures with them (his current home is in Boston). How wonderful! Thanks Susan for letting Ralston tag along for the ride! I did the happy Grandma dance when I saw his picture!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Ralston! I was hoping you would write, Carolyn, I wasn’t sure who’d sent the photo, but I wanted to put a name to this cutie! He’s been a very good boy on the trip, I want you to know, and fits right in. Your daughter definitely found her calling! xoxo

      • Carolyn Chism says:

        I’ll share another wonderful Ralston story — maybe someone else can use the idea. The one “person” who was with Rochelle in California while she was going to vet school was her one and only Ralston. Since we couldn’t sneak him into her graduation ceremony, I took pictures of Ralson and put them on big buttons and wrote, “We did it Mom,” “I knew you could do it Mom,” and “I love you Mom.” We wore the buttons so they would show up in all of the pictures. The minute her classmates and professors saw them they all said, “Ralston made it to graduation!” Rochelle was so surprised and pleased!

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Hi Carolyn!
      We stood in line together in Hudson. How cool that Susan has your picture of your grand-kitty! And what a wonderful thing your family did to take him in…special needs and all! They aren’t damaged. They just have special needs! One of my barn kitties lost and eye and moved into the house this summer. She is turning out to be a great house cat and sleeps with us on the bed at night, just like she has always been there!
      It was lovely meeting you and maybe next year when I’m in Ohio we can go to lunch. We are are all kindred spirits with so much in common…..brought together by Susan!
      Have a lovely Fall. I sure miss Ohio Octobers! Enjoy it!
      Chris

      • Carolyn Chism says:

        Hi Chris!

        So good to hear from you! I had to much fun meeting you! I have some great pictures of your husband sitting in the chair not flinching an inch while Joe was parking the van. It would be fabulous getting together next year. The leaves are beginning to turn and that wondeful aroma is in the air of leaves and cider and …

    • Tawni urrutia says:

      Oh Carolyn, I thought to myself…
      Wow, that cat looks like he would be a veteran maitrê d in the most upscale Kitty Restaurant in the world! So dashing!!

      • Carolyn Chism says:

        Last Christmas I met a wonderful artist who did the most beautiful watercolor of Ralston. It was him looking through a pane of glass — I entitled it, “Waiting for Rochelle to come home.”

  20. Paula says:

    So glad you made it to your Dad’s OK! My parents live in the same park in Cottonwood and my Mom (Donna) came hustling up to visit as soon as she spotted the van. She sent two pictures (one of the van and one of the two of you) just to make me insanely jealous!!! I live in lil’ ol’ Goldendale, WA, a mere 1200 miles away. Alas, I missed yet another of your visits to Cottonwood. Keeping an eye on your events page to see if you ever make it to the Northwest (hint, hint!). Have a great visit!

  21. Pat Johnson from Paso Robles, CA says:

    Well, for pete’s sake, what in the heck am I doing sitting here while you are out there seeing all the sites????? Now I am really jealous!! Loved the stop at the crater – and, yes, isn’t it true that every once in a while we just have to stop and make that turn to see something new!! And then the trip is really complete when you see DAD! What a treat!! Thanks for all the pics and the weather pics!!! But I do believe that you are just a little bit homesick right about now. Enjoy and I’ll see you in California!! Hugs……..Pat

    • sbranch says:

      Somewhat too busy to think about it, and having such a nice time. Weather has been so wonderful … we sit out until 9 at night, on my dad’s deck, under the stars, it’s soft and warm, with the crickets and the cicadas (and a visiting praying mantis to the table). Like the Valley where we grow up, that same Hide-and-Go-Seek kind of weather. Like where you live Pat!

  22. judi says:

    Thanks for the great pictures of the SW. I have never been in that part of the beautiful U.S. Hey, Jack, YOU look great!!! Thanks for the picture Sue and I am sure you have had a wonderful time visiting. Did you find a few treasures at the antique stores??? 🙂 A BIG hug to you Jack. Safe, fun adventures Sue & Joe. judi

    • sbranch says:

      I found treasures — a gorgeous platter that would look really good either hanging on a wall, or with a Thanksgiving turkey on it…I found some good things for the vintage part of our store… Thank you Judi!

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        Oh, I’m going to check there right now. I’m looking for a ceramic bowl like the wonderful teal blue “Bauer” bowl I got last Spring in the webstore. I LOVE that bowl. It’s been in constant use since I got it. ❤

    • Jack says:

      Me too — I got a magnificent wooden salad bowl — big – dark wood – holds enough green salad for 6-8 people – and when my kids are around, we need it !

      • Jack says:

        Sue and Joe took us out to lunch –It’s 5:00 now and I’m still stuffed –they were thinking of getting some Mexican Fish Tacos for dinner and we said, “No.” If we get hungry later sitting out on the deck we can make some toasted sour dough muffins/w peanut butter and Peaah Cidah –(now she’s got me doin’ it) —
        Warm soul food, perfect for a sitting-out snack !

        • Deborah Heater (Indiana) says:

          Hello Jack, I’m so happy for you that you are enjoying your daughter and she and Joe are both having a great time. Your home (deck) sounds so lovely and I think your “snack” sounds just divine. I just want to tell you how wonderful I think it is that you are so “tech” savvy and are a very important part of Susan’s Blog. I know you are tagged with the name Blog Daddy and this is so true; but, for all the girls who do not have their Dads around anymore I hope you do not mind being their surrogate Dad? I wish you good health, vitality, continued zest for life, and most of all happiness. Blessings

        • Joy Pence from Ohio says:

          so glad you are having a good visit with your sweet Sue and Joe!

        • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

          Sitting on the deck in Northern AZ sounds fantastic!!!

  23. Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    Hi Susan,
    The Southwest really has a wonderful raw beauty, doesn’t it? I have never been farther than New Mexico, but the views look very similar. And Lake Michigan, what can I say. We spent a week last summer in Suttons Bay and I fell in love. Hope to visit there again.
    We are so lucky to live in this wonderful country. Whatever you love…we have a place for you!
    Laughing at our British Sheep….I think she looks a little nervous parked between the pigs at The Hog Wild BBQ!!
    Our weather in West Texas is beginning to moderate, summer is over and Fall is just around the corner. I am loving it, and feel so much more energized.
    Give your dad a hug, we all love him! He is doing so well on the IPad. I am still working with Jim trying to get him to use ours. I think I will show him this picture of your dad! 🙂
    Love you and enjoy your family time!
    Chris

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I do think the sheep was glad when we came back with the food and got out of there! 🙂 xoxo Enjoy your day Chris, hello to Jim!

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Hey there, Girlfriend!
      I was scrolling down Susan’s events section and then–lo and behold–i saw a picture of YOU!! I was so excited! I looked carefully at you and then I thought, “Yes!! She looks like a Girlfriend!” (don’t ask me what a girlfriend looks like–you just are definitely one!) I do hope and trust that one day we will connect in person.

      By the way, who are the others in the picture? Could one be a grand daughter you have written about?
      Love,
      Linda

  24. Suzanne says:

    I am so enjoying your trip across the country, and what a beautiful country we live in. So many things to see and do. I never knew about the meteor crater; it is just amazing! So glad you are sharing, honestly it feels like I’m right along with you! Enjoy your visit with your family, can’t wait for your return home! ~ East Longmeadow, MA

  25. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    Great pictures!! Good to see Blog Daddy! The boys and I need to get up to the Flagstaff area next time I go to see them. I LOVE the wildflowers.
    Yes you can surf Lake Michigan, AND the Milwaukee area has its own Surfrider Association Chapter!!! Sad to say the Dairyland Surfing Championships had its last year in 2012. Sheboygan is sticking to the bratwurst I guess.
    We call Door County, WI the East Coast of the Mid-West. LOL

    • sbranch says:

      Dairyland Surfing Championships should survive forever on the name alone!

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        LOL…
        We even have an Alice in Dairyland competition. I had no desire for that except that I think she gets free ice cream!?!

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          ~I remember eating and shopping at Dutchland Dairy as a kid~ did you ever?

          • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

            No. Is that in Racine area? We ate at Kaap’s (sp?) in Brookfield. Then there is Leon’s in Milwaukee and Oshkosh. And let’s not forget the Pig and Whistle (not much ice cream there), which is what Arnold’s from Happy Days was based on. LOL

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        Hi~ Dutchland Dairy is long gone but Kopp’s (sp) is still there I believe in Brookfield~ I’m dating myself but …….when I was a kid my dad bet me a quarter that I could not eat an entire hamburger ~ which with my little kid eyes appeared to be the size of a salad plate~ I ate the whole thing~ my little competitive self!…maybe I could have had a career as a competitive eater…kidding….. I don’t eat red meat anymore so I wouldn’t take that bet again~ especially for a quarter!~

  26. Dinahsoar says:

    I haven’t been out west since the 1970’s–seeing those wide open spaces makes me long to go. You and Joe must be having a blast! Love all the pics and updates.

    So glad you are safe and sound and and enjoying the journey. LOVED the musica w/ this post–perfect. It was lovely to catch up w/ you two. And your daddy looks great…makes me miss mine all the more..mamma too–she died last year, daddy’s been gone since 1990. Be safe! Continue to have fun: today you are the oldest you’ve ever been yet the youngest you will ever be…from the hills of TN.

  27. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Lovin’ “our” trip GF! Don walked in a minute ago & said “Gene Autry”, & handed me coffee! I couldn’t get it myself because I’m glued to this blog! Blog Daddy looks great! Hope your brother in N.M. is doing good. Wonderful, you get to see this beautiful country & your family, & your kajillions of girlfriends too! Happy Trails To You & Joe!

  28. patti says:

    Hi Susan, Love your pics. I saw you when you came to Downer’s Grove, Il. I was with the granddaughter. I got all moved in to our new house. Still doesn’t feel like home but your tea cup made it safely and so did your rooster. Good thing the tea cup made it b/c I needed tea as I got sick and the tea w/honey really helped the throat 🙂 Still trying to figure out how to write and make normal things look so good. The way you do !!! Safe travels!!! <3

  29. elmina says:

    HI Susan,
    I loved looking at this blog post.(I love all of them) The reason I loved this one most was because were both in Goshen, Indiana on the same day. I rode a train From Delaware(hometown) to Salem, OR(current home). Too bad we missed each other.
    I totally understand what you mean by feeling very American and Patriotic once you view the American countryside. I also got a heart full of love for the beautiful American country and what God created on land.
    Thanks for posting,
    elmina

  30. Wendy Noble-Sidelinger says:

    I’m lucky enough to live on the shores of another Great Lake…..Lake Erie. It’s always felt like an actual seashore to me; and I’ve had out-of-towners ask me what ocean it is! They have a hard time believing me when I say it’s a lake, because you can’t see the other shore (which is Canada) at all. But that’s one of the many Great aspects of the Great Lakes!

    Here in Erie, PA we are also blessed with Presque Isle State Park, which is a twelve mile peninsula stretching out into Lake Erie (named for the Eries Indians who were at one time part of the League of Iroquois Nations). The sound of crashing waves, boating, kayaking, beaches, cycling, fishing, bird-watching and mind-blowing sunsets are just a few of our joys here.

    I can tell from your writing how much you love your spot in the world at Martha’s Vineyard; and I feel the same way about “my” Great Lake. To love and completely belong to the place in which your life is planted is a great blessing. While I love other places, I’m never sad to return home. Hopefully you can come see for yourself sometime!

    • sbranch says:

      It is a blessing, so true Wendy. We would love to see that part of the country, and will likely do that someday. Thank you for the lovely description.

    • sondra fox says:

      Hi Wendy! Just reading your mail this morning made me feel so lonesome for good old Lake Erie. We moved to LA when in our twenties. Never could get used to the ocean after playing in the fresh water of Lake Erie all summer. After all these years (sixty), I still long for Lake Erie. My husband & I grew up spending summers at Conneaut, OH. Family cottage is still there, right on the lake. I’m planning on renting a cottage in Conneaut this next summer. I enjoy the Pacific ocean, but give me Lake Erie any day. Sorry west coasters. Spent our first Thanksgiving on the west coast, in our small boat, going up & down over the waves, eating turkey sandwiches. Family was all back in OH & PA. Felt pretty darn lonely, but I did have the love of my life with me which made that Thanksgiving special. Treasure Lake Erie Wendy, like I know you do. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      I spent some summers in Lake Erie too, when I visited Grandpa (My dad’s father.) I loved the stones that looked like pancakes along the shoreline at the Presque Isle.
      Margot (from WI now in VA)

  31. jan says:

    This has got to be my favorite entry ever!!! I took a road trip with my little sister
    (who is bigger than me, I’m the runt)early this summer and saw many of the same sights. We had such a great time and captured a lot of attention with her airstream and our two little dogs. Isn’t this big country of ours beautiful? You took some great pictures!
    “A Fine Romance” is arriving today. I didn’t pre order so had one shipped from Schulers Books. Can’t wait to get started reading. The days here in Kentucky are cooler and I can sit in the swing with my little dog, suzie, and read away. I’m rambling, so I’ll say bye and have a good day, Susan. (and Joe).

  32. Judy says:

    Oh Susan, I have been waiting for the glass bead to appear ever since you mentioned it back in the spring. I just went on your blog this morning and saw that last week they were for sale and now the “girlfriend” bead is out of stock. Are you going to get anymore of those back in stock for sale?

    • sbranch says:

      Yes we sure are, very soon we will have more (maybe even by the end of the month if all goes as planned). Of course we ran out! I never seem to figure out the part of how many to order, but I keep trying.

  33. Michele says:

    Oh, Susan, it looks like so much fun! We are so, SO sorry we missed you when you were here. Boo Hoo!

    So glad you loved Lake Michigan, though, we love it too! We say all the time, it’s like the ocean! :0)

    Everything looks so pretty, so glad you and Joe are enjoying it! (and “sharing” it with us!)

  34. Pamela C Betz says:

    Dear Susan–I love traveling with you, thanks so much for blogging.

  35. NANCY JO says:

    Hi “THERE”,
    JUST FINISHED “THE UNLIKELY PILGRRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY”. Really liked it, nice story. Are you beginning to feel like Harold??? Well I’m with you all the way so keep going until you get home.
    Nancy Jo

  36. Marysol says:

    Speaking of a ‘Fine Romance,’ even your toothbrushes are dancing cheek to cheek.

    Be safe in your travels, but mostly, enjoy. And keep the camera fully-charged.

  37. Linda Petersen says:

    Hi Happy Travelers! The pictures are great & you dear Susan~~look fabulous:0). Joe doesn’t seem to mind all the baggage. He’s mastered a good system! Love the kitty pics also~~~need those to keep you smiling more. Have a wonderful time visiting your Dad & his wife~~~I know you will:0). Can’t wait for more goodies to arrive in the Shop!! It’s like Christmas before Christmas!
    XOXO,
    Linda, Chino Valley, AZ

  38. liz samlow says:

    I saw your photo of the smiley face water tower…I live in fruitport, michigan…were you that close? So sad i missed you…

  39. Jeanne Hedin says:

    Such a fun post! I had to smile about “Meteor Crater” . . . we, too, have always passed by without stopping during our travels from MN to AZ. My hubby, Bob, could hardly stand to keep driving without investigating. Now I can show him your pictures and satisfy his curiosity! 🙂 Love the rib recipe, too, (including the young girl with braids and drips on her shirt). Safe travels, Susan and Joe!

  40. Pigeon's Mom says:

    We lived in NW Indiana for a few years. I grew up 20 minutes from Boston (just an hour and a quarter from my favorite Maine beaches). When we first moved to the Midwest, I was depressed about being so landlocked. No easy drives to the ocean! My husband (who grew up in NW IN) took the 20 minute drive up to the dunes at Lake Michigan after we moved and I couldn’t believe the size of the waves! Still no salt air, and you could look across and see Chicago instead of the edge of the earth, as with the open sea; but it was better than nothing, and much better than I expected. God provides. He knows I love water, and gave a us a house with a little pond out back when we moved a little ways south and had our first baby. Of course we just moved-again!-to the Southwest; I am curious to see what streams in the desert he has in store for us now…

  41. Barb from Ohio says:

    Hi Susan, Love the pictures from out west and your further travels. It’s probably a blessing in disguise you are waiting on the next printing to come out before resuming your signing tour and you can have some down time. Glad you made it to your Daddy’s and are enjoying time with him. Mine’s been gone since ’96 and Mom since ’98 and I miss them very much still. I’m enjoying all the travel pictures and updates on how and what you and Joe are doing. Your van with the sheep between the two piggie vans made me laugh out loud and talking about the ribs made me hungry. Next time I have ribs I’m trying your recipe; sounds so delicious. Thanks for the updates, keep them coming when you can.

    • sbranch says:

      Definitely a blessing, we see it now. So much more time to be with my family, and it’s been two years since we’ve been west, much too long! Have a great day Barb!

  42. Peggy Mayfield says:

    Miss Susan,

    So enjoying being a backseat visitor to your cross-country jaunt! And loved your bits about BBQ today.
    I don’t usually volunteer recipes online, but if you would like to try them, I’d love send you my baby back ribs recipe. It’s more Texas style BBQ than KC or NC BBQ, but a gal has to be well-rounded, right? I put the recipe together for my daughter’s 16th birthday, which was 5 years ago last week (Sept 20).
    Safe travels,

    Peggy

    • sbranch says:

      Can you put it here in comments, because I know the Girlfriends would love a tried and true recipe from you!

  43. Susan in SC says:

    Lots to love about this post, but most of all . . . “Our Blog Daddy!” Surely, it is one of the greatest gifts ever to have parents with us from our diaper days to retirement age!

  44. Lorrie Rockwell from AZ says:

    You’re here!!! You’re here!!! I atempted a few times to contact The English Rose Tea Room for your visit as we spoke about back in April, but have not heard or seen anything posted. Thank you again for making time at least to talk with me while I was in MV! Were you still planing to come through Cave Creek/Phoenix? Chance to meet up at all?! Am willing to travel too 🙂
    Been loving every minute of your journey!! It is going beautifully! Tell Joe I said hi!!

    Lorrie

    • sbranch says:

      We stayed an extra day here with my dad, being just so hard to go, and my sister is tapping her foot now near Palm Springs, so I think we are on our way this morning after one more dad-hug … but if we can we want to stop at the English Rose Tea Room, I’m dying to see it. Hopefully it will be open as we are going through.

  45. Joy Pence from Ohio says:

    Now I want to go the Lake Michigan! Crazy how places are right in your back yard and you never go there. We just need to take the time and go, like you and Joe to see the crater. The bug covered windshield made me laugh out loud 🙂 So happy you are with your papa now. I am sure he is glad to see his little girl. Have a wonderful visit!

  46. Elaine says:

    So glad you stopped at Meteor Crater! I always hate to have to pass up interesting things! Enjoy your visit with your Dad and continue to have safe and interesting travels with Joe!
    And Susan, I must tell you that yesterday my hubby surprised me with a First Edition of A Fine Romance for my birthday. He really listened! So Romantic!
    I read about 80 pages and made myself stop! I want to linger in the story.

    • sbranch says:

      What a sweetheart . . . he had to go work a little bit to get that for you! xoxo

      • Elaine says:

        It made me cry; I couldn’t believe I was holding your book!
        He said he ordered it right away when I mentioned the book was being released.
        I don’t think I have ever paced myself through a wonderful book before. I think it helps that I went along in your suitcase the first time 🙂 and now I’m looking through “our” scrapbook and listening to you tell the story all over again. So satisfying!

  47. Sylvia in Seattle says:

    Oh my, the Ralston story has me weeping. Such a lucky kitty being rescued by a wonderful vet Mama and now riding along with Jack and Girl. SWEET! I’m going back for another look at him. 🙂

  48. Well, this is a crazy coincidence. I was just in Sedona (all the way from Montreal) at the exact same time you were driving around. Not only that, I bought a meteorite from the very crater you were wandering around in! There’s a very cool fossil store in Sedona, and I had seen this meteorite a few months ago. I told my husband I’d rather have that for Christmas than a piece of jewelry so he said go get it. How cool that you were there and posted photos! Cheers, Pamela

  49. Frances Fowler says:

    These pictures remind me of some lines from on of my very favorite Appalachian children’s books, “My Great Aunt Arizona” — “My great-aunt Arizona was born in a log cabin her papa built in the meadow on Henson Creek in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When she was born, the mailman rode across the bridge on his big bay horse with a letter. The letter was from her brother, Galen, who was in the cavalry, far away in the West. The letter said, ‘If the baby is a girl, please name her Arizona, and she will be beautiful, like this land.'”

    Looks like y’all are having a fabulous road trip. Have you ever had a book that was so much fun (embedded in a whooooole lotta work!)?

  50. Georgie says:

    Oh Susan! I am just loving Blog Daddy!!! I can hear the squeals of happiness and feel all the love in the air when A Fine Romance van pulled into the driveway! There’s just something SPECIAL between Daddies and their little girl! xoxo

    Enjoy your stay!

    I am loving traveling cross country with you! That crator was awesome. You might just be able to fit all the girlfriends in there 😉

    xoxo Georgie NJ

  51. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! So happy to see you and Joe had great travels to your Dad’s! The photos are outstanding, and so glad you loved our Lake Michigan! There are so many cool lighthouses along the shoreline, so if you ever return, they are spectaculer to photograph and visit and some you can even climb!!!! I am curious what you serve as side dishes with the yummy pork chops? Just might make them this Sunday for my hubby Ken. Take care of yourself and enjoy your father, he seems so young-at-heart, sitting there with his tablet!!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      We just had a big green salad the other night, but at home I make it with this recipe for ONION PUDDING and it’s just the perfect thing. My dad is your basic 47 year old!

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        onion pudding, hmmm never heard of it before. may have to try that. sounds almost like my grandma’s recipe for vinegar pie.

  52. Beverly Brewer says:

    Glad you had that precious time with your Dad! Of the times you have visited him, I’m assuming you’ve been to Sedona, AZ, since it is so close to Cottonwood. To me, Sedona is the absolute “jewel” of our state and I always encourage customers who are visiting to be sure they don’t miss it. The scenery is spectacular! Safe travels to you both as you continue your journey!

    • sbranch says:

      Oh yes, we’ve gone there many times, and also up to Jerome, a completely different kind of town, but interesting too!

      • Mary in Phoenix says:

        Next time you’ll have to trek over the hill from Jerome to Prescott … “Everybody’s Hometown”. You would love the old Victorian homes (yes, Arizona really has Painted Ladies from the wild, wild west!) and the antique shops around Courthouse Square 🙂

  53. Susan ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

    I loved your pictures from the crater – we stopped on impulse on our road trip from OH back to CA and were glad we took that little detour. Sure does take a person’s breath away. I had wondered too if any of the girlfriends have spotted your van somewhere during your travels. Seems like it would be inevitable. I haven’t read all of the comments, so maybe someone has. Hope you have some time to enjoy a good book during your leisure time, in between enjoying your dad and answering our comments. Enjoy!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m reading Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott right now, almost done with it, and my next one is lined up and waiting! I ride an exercise machine most days and read while doing it. Makes it so much easier!

  54. Christie Ray says:

    Dear fellow Daddy’s girl;))
    You are bound to be hugging and catching up and eating and enjoying being with your Dad..but I just had to tell you, my packages came today! After reading some of these posts, I’m incredibly grateful I hopped on and ordered when I did! Sophia thought all the stickers were for her;)) Yes…I shared… but the pink mushroom eraser is mine!..LOL!!…and she knew the Peter Rabbit mug was for Grammy’s coffee, and I Just LOVE the charms! Those girls of yours are the best (Kellee let me talk to her like family…she’s a sweetheart…and we decided your books selling to the point of selling out, is a blessing!) Look at all the ladies you are reaching…who needed a Susan Branch in their life. You’re inspiring them to find that little girl inside who needs to remember how to giggle and dance to great old music and be thankful for all the little things that wind up being the most important things…and to DREAM, not little…but BIG!
    Girlfriends, Rock ON…
    As always,
    Christie Ray from Franklin, TN

  55. Debs OBrien says:

    So sad, this morning, to hear that the UK Girlfriends who ordered via Much Ado Books aren’t going to get our signed copies. Happy for you that this is because they’ve sold out in the States, but sad for us Across The Pond gals all the same. Still, when you come to Stourbridge, hopefully you will bring a pen!

    Otherwise, it is a lovely day in The Shire in west Wales~~bit breezy, but that will take care of the cobwebs!

    Waving {handkerchief dabbing eyes} from Across The Pond
    Debs xo

    • sbranch says:

      Oh! I’m so sorry! I didn’t think they would give up! I did send them lots of signed bookplates, but the books did not arrive as they’d been promised, I guess the source ran out before provision could be made. Hopefully when the books do arrive they can begin again. Boo hoo Debs!

  56. Deborah Winter says:

    Dear Susan,

    Thank you for going to the meteor crater! We wanted to stop on our way up to the Grand Canyon and started but it was taking too long and we ran out of time. Also, have you been on a particular diet–you look like you lost quite a bit of weight!!! Like most women, I am working on doing the same!

    • sbranch says:

      I started just after turning in the book, last May … I think I even did a post about it. It’s really not special, I’m eating more fruit and vegetables, and exercising. I also read about how to give my body a better PH by eating more alkaline foods, and having a cup of hot water with lime juice in it first thing every day. You can Google all that. It’s what they mean when they say, “balanced.” Good luck with it! I’m not going to be 22 again (tender mercies) but I feel so much better and can get into most of my clothes again!

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        Hi~ I have been doing the apple cider vinegar in hot tea and “shots” of it too!~ feel better for sure and cutting out processed and GMO food~
        Have you seen or read about the movie GMO~OMG? ~ Looks interesting and scary at the same time

        • sbranch says:

          I’m so against GMO. I even put a phone number in my Autumn book where we can call our representatives. Whenever I hear about them cutting back on Government Oversight of big business, I think of our food and water and how craven some people are about money before health. They’ve managed now to make an upper class and a lower class food supply: upper class, of course more expensive, organic, happy healthy chickens, raised in a good way. Lower class supply: cheaper, filled with pesticides and hormones. Ridiculous. Remember when we all ate the same things?

          • Janet in Rochester says:

            Yes indeed. This country now has an UPPER CLASS food supply and a LOWER CLASS food supply. Too bad most business owners and marketing types are not bright enough to realize that it’s those of us in the MIDDLE who do most of the buying… Personally I think we all need to grow as much of our own food as we possibly can – but for obvious reasons that’s not very feasible for many people. So until the American consumer flat-out REJECTS what the supermarkets are offering, agri-business is unlikely to make any changes. This country needs a “Ralph Nader” for food, like we had for car safety. My two cents… :>)

          • sbranch says:

            I know, I want a bumper sticker that says, “save the middle class.” Talking to my dad about WWII and the expansion of Middle Class based on GI bill, education, housing, building of infrastructure and how brilliant it was for “country-strengthening.” Seems we should just look at what worked in the past and do that!

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            Yes I remember when all food was REAL food!~ I have become such a label reader~ letter writer ~ who would have thought we’d have to do that? ~ local food is also an option but you have to be careful there too that it is organic~that’s pretty much the only way you know there is no GMOs~ it takes me a couple of hours to shop~ isn’t that crazy!~
            My husband once said the celery “tastes funny” ~ I say most people probably don’t even know celery HAS a taste! It’s supposed to! ~ everything else is labeled ~ but there is no profit in labeling food is there?~ when 3rd world countries won’t except it why do we?~ okay of the soapbox~ thanks Susan!

          • sbranch says:

            I’m not even 100% sure I trust when they say, “organic” because of lack of oversight, but it’s the best hope we have. Besides of course, buying locally from organic farmers, which is the REAL best hope we have. 🙂 Thank goodness for the small farmers.

          • Lynn McMahon says:

            ~ Michael Pollan is a “food activist” ~ I love his books especially ” Food Rules” ~Another useful book is ” Eat This Not That Supermarket Survial Guide” by David Zinczenko~ it’s probably most practical for most people~especially those who are just starting out “trying to eat better”~ I meant to say off my soapbox~ Sometimes I get too passionate!~ I like your post Janet!

          • sbranch says:

            Me too, I’m passionate. It’s the “fairness” gene, I have it.

          • Lee Rose says:

            I couldn’t agree more, Susan. They talk about the obesity epidemic in the U.S. but most people can’t afford good, fresh food. Have you ever read, “This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader” by Joan Dye Gussow? It is a very entertaining and informative book.

            Happy trails and safe travels!!!

          • sbranch says:

            I haven’t read that. What did you learn from it? Anything stand out?

          • Lee Rose says:

            About 10 years ago, before sustainable and local were the buzz words they are today. I was eating a sandwich in a NYC diner, midsummer, and noticed the tomato was pale, hard, and flavorless. It is prime tomato season in the Northeast, I thought. Why am I eating this tomato? Why is anyone eating this tomato? I thought about the incredibly expensive heirloom, organic tomatoes I had just seen at the Union Square Farmers’ Market and wondered why it couldn’t be just commonplace to have a wonderful tomato midsummer in the Northeast. (I had a crazy idea to buy all the defunct dairy farms in upstate NY and turn them into produce farms, but I would need to win the lottery to do that.)

            A few weeks later, walking through B&N, I saw “This Organic Life” on an end cap. I read the back of the book and thought, hmmm, that is kind of what I was just thinking about. The book taught me how much more there was to the food we eat. Money (of course), politics (of course) big business and small minds.

            What stands out in my mind is how the government (taxpayers) subsidize the water used to grow tomatoes in the California desert, the fuel to fly them across the country, so we can buy them year round, at artificially low prices, making the local produce look like it is expensive.

            Oh, you’ve got me going, Susan. There is so much more I learned. More than that it made me think about everything I buy differently. I do not eat exclusively local or organic, but the book has made me so much more aware. The information in the book is easy to digest because it is told through the author’s memoir. There are even recipes.

          • sbranch says:

            I’m like you, I don’t eat anything exclusively, although I do wish we were ONLY offered healthy fresh organic in-season foods (shouldn’t that be the rule?). Your second to the last paragraph was perfect and shows just how complicated the whole thing is. I remember old cowboy TV shows … like Bonanza, where there was always a “snake oil” salesman showing up to sell his elixir that could “cure anything that ails you” to the unsuspecting audience that gathered around his wagon to hear his spiel. It’s just like that, nothing has really changed, only today, it’s trickier!

          • Lee Rose says:

            Snake oil salesman is exactly right!!!

      • Gert~Iowa says:

        Yes, you do look absolutely amazing and definitely not your age! I’m so proud of you doing this and taking care of yourself!

        • sbranch says:

          Oh Gert, xoxo thank you! I feel the same way about you.

          • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

            I honestly think they have taken the “organic” label a tad too far and use it as an advertising tool to get you to buy the product. I sell eggs, fresh brown eggs to folks, they are good sized, clean and no cracks or holes and yes they are fresh, usually laid that day or the day before. I once had a lady ask me if the eggs were organic. now this lady was from California and they were camping here on vacation, but organic eggs??? at first I was a bit puzzled, after all ” organic” means grown from the earth, no pesticides. so told her I guess they were considering they came out of the chicken’s rear end!!! organic eggs…good grief.

          • sbranch says:

            I think she was probably wondering if you fed the chickens organic feed, basically is their food pesticide-free? Like with beef, when we wonder if they are being fed hormones. You’re so lucky to live such a wonderful country life Pat!

  57. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Thank-you for so many lovely photos along your recent journey to Arizona! I especially loved the Bucket list in Iowa and the big crater park. Fantastic!! It is so amazing to drive through the states and see the vastness and beauty of the US. We are so blessed to have so much diversity !! And Love, Love, Love the kitty photos to stay connected to your furry loves back home. I have a screen saver of mine on my iPhone which gives me such a happy feeling when I am not home. Enjoy your visit with Blog Daddy! What a trip this all is!!!

  58. pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

    good Fall morning everyone, Susan and girlfriends. its been raining here this week and we even got snow… yes snow at Crater Lake about 8 inches. no snow here though, not yet anyway. its cold here this morning, 39 degrees. perfect excuse to have a nice warm fire in the woodstove and have my warm slippers on. its stopped raining yesterday but it looks like another storm is moving in today, oh well we need the rain. the barnyard crowd is happy this morning, worm hunt in the yard. they love hunting down those worms the rains bring up. time to get out the D-con mouse trays and get the rodents out of the shed and barn, I don’t need anymore mice in there. finally won the battle over storing the feed for chickens in plastic garbage cans instead of leaving the feed sacks out for the mice to gnaw through. my husband would not listen to me and get the cans, so I finally went Wal-Mart and got them and mixed the feed for the chickens, ducks and turkeys and put them in the barrels so there are fewer mice in there, and now its time for the D-con to get rid of them and keep others out. since the mice cannot gnaw through the cans to get to the feed, they go for the feed left on the floor, I sweep as much as I can but I can’t get to all of it, so I use the D-con to get rid of the pests. it took me 3 years of hollering and arguing to convince dear hubby to store the feed in the garbage cans, i’m glad he finally admitted I was right 😉 !!!! love the travbel pictures, never been to that place in Arizona, may have to check it out sometime. enjoy your visit with your dad, and bundle up, we are in for a long cold winter here. safe trip. and tell your kitty Jack that our rooster Jack is doing fine, he’s finally figured out how to crow properly!!! LOL!!!! take care now and have a great day. Happy Fall everyone. hugs…….. 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      Happy fall Pat! I would think your cat population would have a field day in your barn! No mice come near our house, it’s just no fun for them and the message seems to have been passed down through the island mice. We keep our bird feed in trash cans in our barn and it does the trick, no skunks, and no mice!

      • pat addison (cave junction,OR) says:

        Hello Susan, Hello Girlfriends!!! one would think he would listen, common sense tells you its safer to keep to the grains and corn in plastic garbage cans to keep rodents out, but he thinks he knows better. guess I should be grateful he finally admitted I was right. yes my cats would have a field day in the barn, but we have a barn cat and I think the mice were a bit overwhelming even for him. the mice stay out of the house, they know there are cats there, guess they didn’t get the notice about the new barn cat. but with the D-con and the barn cat working, our mouse problem is slowly coming to an end. I go in and check for dead mice and remove them immediately, so far over 12 mice. I just hope this is it, and there will be no more mouse infestations like that again. we have all the feed stored in trash cans, and the feed sacks are thrown out into the burn barrel and disposed of, no need to supply the varmints with nesting material. today its very windy here and pouring down rain which is most welcome here. its most definitely feeling like Fall and its such a pleasure to have a warm fire in the morning in the woodstove, and one again in the evening to enjoy. I love this time of year. Happy Fall to everyone and many Fall Blessings everyone. hugs….. 🙂

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        We keep our birdseed in a metal garbage can in the garage as we know about mice chewing through plastic. Pat, aren’t you worried about the cats or other good critters getting into the D-con? A friend’s dog got into it and died a terrible death…

        • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

          good morning pat!! no we aren’t worried about as 4 of the cats are total housecats and the barn cats stays out of the feed area where the infestation was the worst, plus its shut off from the rest of the barn. so mice in there get the D-con and the mice in the barn get to deal with the barn cat. and we are very good about disposing of the dead mice as we don’t want the chickens pecking at them and getting sick nor do we want the barn cat getting sick. so we are being very careful where we put the D-con. and the cans I got are metal…they had a big Fall sale going on at the local hardware store and I used my “egg money” to get 5 cans. thanks for being concerned.

        • judi says:

          I’m with Pat. When we moved to the “country” 50 miles NE of Mpls. we put our 50# sack of sunflower seeds in a new plastic garbage can. The very next day a red squirrel had chewed thru the lid and was having a banquet. Went to the feed store and bought a metal one – did the job:)

          • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

            judi, I had to laugh. We had the same experience at first. And those metal garbage cans are not exactly easy to find, either! (unfortunately!) 🙂

          • pat addison ( cave junction,OR) says:

            oh dear, I didn’t explain that very well, ok the major mouse problem is in the food storage shed, right next to the barn, its part tool shed and part food storage for the feed for the chickens, ducks, and turkeys. the mice have been in the barn, and the barn cat can get those mice, but we don’t allow the cat in the shed and that where we are using the D-con to get rid of the mice. now that we have 4 new trash cans for feed, cracked corn and hen scratch storage, and have swept that shed out completely so no feed is on the ground to attract the mice, but that is where we put the D-con, not in the barn where the all the poultry are, no way!!! I would not put D-con out in the barn, the fool chickens would eat it all in seconds, I don’t need sick or dying birds right now. the barn cat can handle what few mice go in the barn, but the storage shed was overrun with mice and that was because my hubby, Ed, would not get trash cans to store the food in. well 3 years later, he finally admitted I was right. I kind of figured he listened to his mom on that subject and she insists that 1 mouse trap will solve the problem. well I don’t think so, she has 1 mouse trap and a pretty bad mouse problem in her garage ( where she stores grains and cracked corn for the geese and deer in feed sacks) and unfortunately the mice have invaded her home as well, especially in the pantry and laundry room. and we have seen them in the living room and family room. so I don’t think her 1 trap theory is doing the job she thinks it is. but then that’s her problem, but I think Ed finally woke up and realized she is not the person to ask for advice concerning a mouse infestation, and he finally heard what I was saying all along about the trash cans. okay I hope that clears up the problem, and I apologize for not explaining it any better than I did. Happy Fall everyone, many Harvest blessings to you all. hugs…. 🙂

  59. Julia says:

    I’m enjoying all of your photos, especially the whimsical ones.
    So nice. Also must say that our Blog Dad is a very handsome
    man and I can surely see Roy Rogers. Having my big “to-do”
    tomorrow night and can’t wait to try the S and GNs. Tell your
    mom how much we all admire her. I feel like I know her through
    your writings. I hope she will go for the laptop. I’m the joke
    of the family about how I was so adamant and now don’t know
    what I’d do without it. I’m always looking things up and watching
    movies propped up in bed and I can get in touch with my children
    so much faster now. Good luck on that and Godspeed!

    • sbranch says:

      Saved your comment to read to my mom! 🙂 Every little nudge helps!

      • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

        Here’s a little nudge–I wish I had a laptop! Norm tells me it is not on the priority list but I would LOVE to get the computer out of the living room and be able to sit anywhere to email and read favorite blogs! Tell your mother that once she tried emailing, she would love it! and then she could look at your pictures and read your blog… 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          Oh I do. But she still doesn’t listen to me! 🙂 (hope Santa was reading over your shoulder!)

          • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

            Ha. I laughed at your comment about Santa. Unfortunately, Santa doesn’t and has never brought “pricey” items at Christmas time to our house…did I tell you our two schnauzers, Fanny and Betti, gave me a Nook reader for Mother’s Day a couple of years ago? I think I will drop a couple of hints to them–maybe more effective than writing a letter to Santa! LOL!!! 🙂

          • sbranch says:

            Brilliant!

  60. Sharon from So. Calif. says:

    Hi Susan and Joe, just had to say thank you for letting me (and all the Girlfriends) back into your suitcases, only this time here in the good ole’ USA! I love all the pictures you are posting, makes me feel like I’m really there. Since I don’t get to travel, it is really special to me to get to see all these wonderful places. Say Hi to your Dad for me, he seems like quite the character! I made your Spareribs in Juice and Onion Pudding last year and I just got out the recipe’s again this morning, seems like every fall I want these sooo much. They are both to die for recipe’s. Thank you for sharing them! Loved Girl and Jack and their new friend Ralston’s pictures on your visor, so darn cute. Couldn’t believe the glass bead is already sold out!! I will order one ASAP when the new shipment comes in. Also can’t wait for your tea to arrive. Safe and Happy travels to you xoxoxoxo

  61. Mecky says:

    Oh Susan, I am sorry that I missed you while you were in Wichita. It looks like you have had a nice trip seeing this big country! If you enjoyed Dodge City, you would of loved Cowtown in Wichita.
    Have a safe trip!

  62. Faith rose says:

    Susan you are so beautiful! I love the look on your face in your fake crater picture!It reminds me of my family on trips, just smile and wave! I love your Dad! Thank you for giving us some fun pictures, I defiantly laughed!

  63. Sara McKeefer says:

    Well, thank you, Jesus! it’s Susan and Joe making another appearance on my tablet… I was beginning to think you were just a figment of my imagination that showed up at Better World Books and then disappeared into the great blue yonder with nary a peep! Well, there was that one peep. I know, I know… I’m being dramatic again, but I sure have been hankerin’ (western-speak) to see you and Joe again.

    So glad you’re having such fun and that Joe got to see his crater at long last! (Every man should be so lucky!) You two sure do seem to be having a capital time crossing this grand country of ours, and all of us SBGs (Susan Branch Groupies) sure do love catching the occasional glimpse of your happy faces. Well, gotta go take my honey wheat bread out of the oven. Wish you were here to have a warm slice with a big dollop of my blueberry-lime jam on it with me. 🙂 Be safe, kids!

    Sara

    • sbranch says:

      Off to lunch in the desert and by night time we will be seeing the Pacific Ocean for the first time in two years!

  64. Kirsten from So. Cal. says:

    Oh, I’m so excited that you’re getting closer, Susan! I’m planning on seeing you in Pasadena on Nov. 5th. My daughter is coming with me to Remnants of the Past (as a birthday gift!) Nov. 9th-10th. Road trip!!! Fun, fun, fun! I just cannot wait! Look for me……I’ll be the girlfriend wearing the lamb name tag!!!

  65. Carol C says:

    Hi Susan! We’re back today from our 5 wk. motorhome trip out west. Spectacular! but the green hills of East TN are so beautiful and restful to the eye. Had a fantastic time but am glad to be home and ready to decorate for Fall. Here’s what I’ve been wondering as I read your blog…. How did they get the pictures on your cute van? Can’t figure it out, they don’t look hand painted on. So neat! Thinking it would be fun to design your own car!

    • sbranch says:

      We sent them the art in high resolution, and they did what they call a “wrap” and that process is a bit of a mystery to me, but you can probably Google it and find out. The place that did ours is called Calvert’s and it’s in Mashpee, MA.

      • Carol C says:

        They did a great job on your car. Thanks for the info, I will google it. Just can figure out how the picture gets in the paint.

        • sbranch says:

          It’s like a giant piece of printed saran wrap they glue to the car. The roughest definition in the world, but I think you can see what I mean.

  66. Maureen says:

    Susan
    Yes I know that people have surfed in Lake Michigan.
    There are a lot of waves and there has been rip tides out there this year too.
    When the weather changes and goes up and down like it has of late is when this usually happens.
    Enjoy your time with your father.

  67. Rae Ann R...back in Michigan...forever... says:

    SEEEEE!!!…I knew you and Joe would LOVE Lake Michigan…that’s why I want you to come and visit the northern part of Lake Michigan where we live!!!…you would love our two locally owned book stores…I just wish you could have done a booksigning at one of them or at the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island…maybe someday…safe travels…xoxo…and Yes…people do surf on Lake Superior…and on Lake Michigan…

  68. Gert~Iowa says:

    Hi Susan…Oh, what an amazing trip you had! Such a fun time seeing so much of America! I’m with you on the crater..there is “no way” I would or could get out on that ledge! Ha..ha!
    The best photo was of your dad (Jack)! Looks like he really loves his iPad!! (Precious!)

    Enjoy this time with your family!! Nothing better in this world than that!

    • sbranch says:

      He loves the Girlfriends … so he loves his iPad! Thank you Gert … watching cartoons with the twins now!

      • Gert~Iowa says:

        What fun…can’t wait for the day when we can do that with our Great granddaughters!! They are all a double blessing aren’t they?

        • sbranch says:

          It is Gert. These boys are all knees and elbows now, especially when mooshed together in one chair playing a game on their mom’s iPhone.

          • Gert~Iowa says:

            Ha..ha, I can just see that! Isn’t this a new way of life? All ages, with our/there iPhones, iPods & iPads etc…lol (new generation….) join them or be left behind…smile…

  69. Sharon from So. Calif. says:

    Hi Susan me again. I forgot to tell you that Bath & Body Works has Honeycrisp Apple hand soap, and it smells divine. I think of you whenever I see anything Honeycrisp!! lol

  70. Sandy Richmond says:

    Hi Susan and girlfriends,
    I almost hesitate to write this because this blog is so lighthearted and fun,, But I want to ask for prayers and positive thoughts AGAIN… It has been one year since I had my breast cancer, and this week I was diagnosed with brain cancer!!! I will find out all of the specifics on Monday. My tumor is small (good!), but is in a delicate place in my brain where they didn’t want to remove it (not so good).. They think it is a new brain cancer and not my breast cancer. I feel fortunate to be treated at Mass General. I have to admit this time I am having a little bit of the “why me”… I am a woman that is overweight, but not too bad, have never smoked a cigarette ever, never eats artificial anything, etc.. Well, I am a fighter and have a grand baby, (my first) coming in March, and want to see him or her grow up! So, bottom line, would appreciate prayers and positive thoughts! Enjoying a perfect fall day.. Sandy in Attleboro, MA

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Sandy, thank you for being brave enough to share with us. That alone takes guts. You already know you have what it takes to face adversity and win. You Go Girl. Plus, you have the best hospital in the world on your side. And the best girlfriends too. My prayers are with you today and always. The way you ended your comment, with “enjoying a perfect fall day” ~ that is so you. xoxo

      • Deborah Heater (Indiana) says:

        Sandy, it is perfectly ok to ask the “why me” I have done that several times myself over the years. I have come to the conclusion that DNA determines what health crises arise in each person over their lifetime…plain and simple. You are a very strong, optimistic woman and once the shock wears off the instinct to live and survive this “bump” will take over. You are having your first Grandchild CONGRATS…there is ALWAYS a light that comes out of darkness I truly believe this. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I’m wishing you good results and the strength to do whatever it is you need to do to become healthy. Enjoy your perfect fall day and all the days to come. Blessings

    • Sharon from Ab, Canada says:

      Praying for you, Sandy.

      • Lynn McMahon says:

        ~ I’m praying too Sandy~ being a fighter is a good thing!! ~ my mom bet cancer 5 times~ that new grand baby will surely give you even more inspiration to fight!

        • Dawn (Elmhurst, IL) says:

          Sandy, you have our love and thoughts right there with you! Thank you for telling us. Please keep in touch, so we know how you are feeling. ♡♡
          Hugs and prayers,
          Dawn and all the Girlfriends

        • Tawni urrutia says:

          Oh Sandy! I certainly will hold you in prayer for strength and peace while you tackle this next hurdle.
          You’ve already shown cancer what a champion you are! Congratulations on your new grandbaby…what an inspiration you will be to him or her.
          Best wishes and a big hug (((❤)))
          Tawni Urrutia

        • Lynn McMahon says:

          I meant BEAT!

      • Elaine in Toronto says:

        Me, too. Grab onto hope and never let go.

    • Carol C says:

      Sandy, you are in my prayers! I have had breast, ovarian (twice) and melanoma. Just remember that a positive attitude is the best medicine. A friend gave me this Bible verse that helped me through everything- Phil. 4:6-7. Please keep us all posted on your progress and let us know how we can pray for you and your family! Please don’t lose faith and remember to laugh!

    • Debbie P ~ Weedsport, NY says:

      Hi, Sandy ~

      It’s got to be so hard to face this again! But you will…with all the grace and strength that you handled it before. It’s who you are…I saw that this past year as I admired your determination to stay positive and to enjoy each day as it came.
      You have a well of inner strength to draw on, Sandy, as well as the support of family and friends who love you. And, you KNOW the power of prayer is great! I pray that God will bless you and give you glimpses of hope each day to see you through this.
      One day at a time…and before you know it, March will be here and that beautiful grandbaby! You’ve got this, Sandy!
      xoDebbie

      • Carol Maurer, formally Eureka, Ca.... now Kennewick, WA says:

        Sandy ~~~ I concure with all the other girlfriends. You are a very strong and positive person. That alone is great medicine! You are in my prayers. Congratulations on the new grand baby!! You will enjoy him or her to the fullest. Becoming a grandparent is very special indeed! Take one day at a time and soon you will have won a victory. Yes keep connected with all of us so that we can know how you are.

        xoxo,
        Carol M

        • Pat Mofjeld from St. Paul, Minnesota says:

          See, Sandy–you have so many girlfriends praying for you and we both know the power of prayer!!! Besides all they have said, remember how we’ve always planned to end up in the same nursing home when we are ancient–sitting on the porch in our rocking chairs yakking? Well, you HAVE to beat it again to make that scenario happen someday in the FAR future!!! 🙂

    • judi says:

      Dear Sandy, So sorry to hear that. Feel the circle of women around you sending their prayers and uplifting you. I was just working/playing with some cards and one of my favorite sayings to send to one who is ill or in pain is – “No matter what makes us laugh, it is the closest thing to exercise when it comes to working the abs. It releases serotonin and dopamine that enhance our sense of well-being and optimism. Laughter is an antidote to chronic pain and helps people heal faster”. Another stamp I have says, Laughter lengthens life. I guess I am trying to say, focus on the positive and try to have at least one good laugh a day. Hugs, judi

    • Janet in Rochester says:

      Sandy, no need to ask – EVER. Consider it done – and done again and again until you get the All-Clear! God bless you, my friend. Big virtual squeeze!! ❤

    • Martha Ellen of VA says:

      Sandy, please know you are in my prayers. Thinking of you and all the doctors and nurses that will be taking care of you. You have many girlfriends praying and sending positive thoughts for your speedy recovery! xoxo ♥

    • Chris Wells in Knickerbocker, W TX says:

      Dear Sandy,
      You have the power of prayer from the FOSB! We are an awesome lot! So pleased you chose to share this with us and not carry the load alone. We are here for you in prayer and spirit!
      You can do this and you won’t be alone!
      Keep letting us know….and please check in to the Caring Bridge site…it is how I keep informed and in touch with a dear friend and her battles with cancer and also another SBF whose son has cancer.
      Love, Chris

      • sbranch says:

        We are an AWESOME lot. Never underestimate the power of good for good. xoxo

        • Rhonda D. says:

          Sandy, I will definitely keep you in my thoughts and prayers. I have a cancer list that I pray for everyday. One thing I can tell you is that the girlfriends of Susan Branch have been one of the major factors in keeping me healed. Your mind will go to that and know that you are being prayed for by some of the best prayer warriors on this planet…you will feel those prayers and be comforted. I’ve learned a lot on this cancer journey and if you’d like to connect with me, have Susan send me your email address. I’d be more than glad to share with you. God is faithful and His promises are ironclad. “For I will restore health to you and heal you of your wounds.” Jeremiah 30:17. One of my motives for wanting to be healed was to be here for my new granddaughter. She will be a year old on Oct. 8th. So happy for you to have a new grandchild on the way. With God’s help and worldwide prayer (thank you Susan), I have come through 3 of 4 big tests and passed with flying colors. One more on Oct. 1st. and hopefully this will be the last. God is good and He is seeing me through, one step and one day at a time. Stay strong Sandy…you are in all of our hearts, minds and prayers. Connect with me if you like and I will send you anything and everything that has gotten me through. Sending love and hugs! xo

        • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

          sending lots of hugs, prayers and positive thoughts your way Sandy. you can beat this, and you WILL see that new grandbaby grow up. hugs girlfriend. 🙂

        • Julia says:

          Me too Sandy, with you in thought and prayer.
          We’ve just learned that one of “our gang” has
          to go on this same journey and we are going
          to carry her, drag her, annoy her, and cheer
          for her when she comes out well on the other
          side, just as you will. We’ll do the same for you!!!

          • Carrie says:

            Dear Sandy,

            Sending you love, prayers and an abundance of whatever it is you may need, at each moment in your recovery. We are here, in masses, cheering you on and knowing you are going to redirect that tumor in no uncertain terms-you go Girl!!!!!!

    • Wendy Louise says:

      Wow Sandy, You are in the best care for sure, MGH is where I went and they do take great care of you ! You are gonna beat this and having a grandchild is a very powerful pull ! You are reminding us all to enjoy each and every blessed day, we are having a fantastic Autumn here in Massachusetts! Get out everyone and take a walk there are gifts all around us. OX to you Sandy, you go girl!

      • Wendy Louise says:

        I am praying for you Sandy and you will get the best care and loving prayers from all your girlfriends. Keep positive ! oxox Wendy ☺️

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      We are praying for you Girlfriend Sandy!!! Mass General is a great hospital!
      I BELIEVE you will see that first grandchild. Keep the faith. OOO (Lots of hugs)

    • Marsha MacLean says:

      Dear Sandy,
      With so many prayers lifted up to heaven for your peace and health, I speak for many when I say YOU are not alone!
      May you be given many, many more perfect days, autumn, winter, spring and summer! And may that grand baby always be inspired by your courage and strength, just as we are…
      Blessings, Marsha

      • DEBORAH NORLING says:

        Sandy !! Please count me in with all the others adding my prayers for you and looking forward to hearing you tell us all about your first grandbaby in March !!

    • Cindy Tuning says:

      Sandy, sorry to hear about your news and I can’t say anything more beautifully than what other Girlfriends have already said. I have a feeling you’ll be just fine. Look at Valerie Harper..devastating news but now she feels good enough to be dancing!! I know you’ll come out of this ok. And, how can you not when you have so many people that you have never even met pulling for you. I can just imagine how many people you DO know that are also praying and helping you. <<<<<>>>> to you and all the positive energy we can muster being sent your way.

    • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

      Dearest Sandy,
      I just read your message right now and I want you to know that I was one of your Girlfriends who prayed you through the last one and I will be praying you through this time as well.

      So glad you shared this with all of us. You know what the Bible says about the power of two or more joined in prayer together. Well, you’ve got a whole ARMY of pray-ers who love you and won’t give up!!

      You’ve got so much to look forward to and you’ve got a great attitude. When you’re feeling down, make sure you watch a funny movie! And remember that our great God will be with you through it all.
      Love you!
      Linda

      • Linda from Lancaster Co. PA says:

        oh, Sandy,
        One more thing–
        ((*hug-hug-hug*))
        I wish I could give you a hug in real life, but this will have to do for now.
        Linda

  71. janice says:

    Love seeing my beloved Kansas, anyone that says it is flat and uninteresting obviously has not been in the many different parts of it.

  72. Holly says:

    Hello everyone! All this talk (and the great pics) of the big sky, the Southwest, and California is really making me homesick! Growing up we lived in CA. But every summer my Mom would load all of us up in the station wagon, and we would head down the coast, across the Golden Gate, and start visiting cousins, grandparents, gg’s, aunts & uncles all the way through AZ, NM, TX, OK, AR, then take the northern route back home again for visiting those we missed on the southern route. Oh how we hated those trips, so hot, no A/C in those days. We often drove at night so it wouldn’t be so hot. I remember lots of “MOM, he’s touching me”, and plenty of bickering over the front seat! Now I’m old enough to know how fortunate we were that our mom took us to meet our family, and have memories of those now passed on. Enjoy the remainder of your trip!

  73. Jack says:

    Jeanie commented about how empty the house seems now with you guys gone …..we loooooved your visit with us and are looking forward to your return — on your way back home ……we will be having very cool nights then , but with a nice warm up in the middle of the day— maybe you’d like to go for Coconut Shrimp on this pass through . Hope you get a handle on managing these pallets of books and their storage- don’t forget to look into Drop-
    Shipping those really large orders , directly from off-loading on the dock ,,,,Someone will have to coordinate the timing and plan to only involve full pallets , but I think it can be done. Hope all is cool at the studio ….

    • sbranch says:

      Missing you too Daddio … Give Jeanie a big kiss for me. It wasn’t goodbye, just a fare thee well for the moment. xoxo

  74. Carol Maurer, formally Eureka, Ca.... now Kennewick, WA says:

    Good evening to you Susan and to all the Girlfriends out there in Susan Blog land. So fun to see all the photos that you took on your way to your dads. Loved to see the meteor sight. I didn’t realize it was so large. Looks as though you are running into all sorts of weather. Makes traveling much more interesting doesn’t it? Just be safe in your travels. Am looking forward to buying one of the Tea Tins. Perhaps I’ll get a couple more and like you, fill them with goodies for Christmas.

    We are basically settled into our new home now. Frank is going to build me a curio cabinet for all my tea dishes and good serving dishes. We didn’t bring the antique china hutch with us…. ooops! My craft room is just about ready for me to start making greeting cards once again. Hope I can remember how to make them, LOL.

    Keeping tract of the places you’ve been and still are going to for the book signings. How fun it is to be with you in spirit, but sad that I won’t be able to meet you in person. Perhaps your next book, you’ll go to the states that you are missing this time around 🙂

    Later,
    xoxo,
    Carol M

  75. Barbara from Wolverine Lake MI says:

    Love hearing all about your trip, and yes, I knew all about the size of Lake Michigan! grew up in Milwaukee/then Green Bay (the west side of the lake) then Dad and Mom moved us to Michigan and we lived in Grand Haven, then Grand Rapids, now metro-Detroit. we had a cottage on Lk Mich and yes Susan, people DO surf on the lake. the west side of the lake is all rocky and the east side is all sandy (wave action breaking up those rocks). When we went to Florida for the first time, we drove to Daytona Beach, got out of the car, ran to the water and I said: It looks just like Lake Michigan! My dad was soooooo mad and said: I drove all this way for 2 days to hear you say it looks like Lake Michigan!! (well it did! exactly the same.)

    • sbranch says:

      Exactly the same! What a surprise. We loved Grand Haven, only got to drive through a bit of it, but it’s wonderful up there!

  76. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Welcome to California Dear Sweet Sue & Joe! If I see your van, I’ll honk!!! Happy family & friend visiting. Hi to your amazing athletic Mom (loved the pic. of all her trophies!!!)!! And, prayers go out to our very brave GF Sandy. March is a beautiful month for a grandbaby’s birth!XOXO

  77. Beverly Brewer says:

    Hi Susan and Joe from the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree—we’ll hope for another try at a visit in Nov! Our wonderful Janie bakes those “beyond scrumpie” scones daily and they are so bouffant and delicious that many English customers say they taste like “home”. Years ago, I wrote a report on the Meteor Crater for an astronomy class and, as I recall, there were only 200
    known meteor craters in the entire world at that time (that was many moons ago, just to keep it celestial!) It was very windy, but so interesting and the crater was vast—that must have been a huge meteor, but I don’t recall how big the measurement was estimated before it broke apart on landing. I have read that meteorite rocks have healing properties, but that is another unknown issue to me.

    • sbranch says:

      I felt healed just standing out there with the whistling wind over the desert as far as the eye could see! Really hope to get down there on our way back Beverly . . .

  78. Julia says:

    I think I got caught in the moderation donut hole! I’ll try again.
    Just want you to know how much I’m enjoying the trip. Especially the
    whimsical photos. Also, tell your mother how much the girlfriends
    admire her. We feel as though we know her through your writings.
    Hope she will allow the laptop. Everybody laughs at me because
    I was so dead set against one and now don’t know what I’d do
    without it. I watch movies on it propped up in bed. I look things
    up all the time and I never have to ever use the pesky phone book
    anymore. Also, I can get in touch with my children faster with it.
    Anyway, good luck with that and Godspeed in your travels.

  79. Jackie P says:

    Hi Sue, been checking the blog every day and thought it was time to say “hi”. I enjoyed all the wonderful photos you shared of our beautiful country. Glorious!

    Am halfway through AFR — for the second time — now savoring each page anew. Hope both of you are getting some R & R before your next soiree!

  80. Sally says:

    Oh SOOO Excited! So glad you will be at Vroman’s in Pasadena. No grown woman should be this excited about a book signing except perhaps if she is the author. But I am thrilled about it. See you there.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m excited because for one thing, Vroman’s was my Grandma’s favorite bookstore. I have a French cookbook she gave me in the 1970’s that has a Vroman’s sticker in it! It has a soft spot in my heart for that, and just for being so special. So, as two grown women, let’s try not to jump up and down when we get there! 🙂

      • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

        Oh~go ahead and jump up and down! We are young at heart!!! Say “Hi” to your mom if you are still there.

  81. Jack says:

    I’m with Deborah too — and “with” all the Girlfriends as a surrogate guy in their
    blog-life …. kinda dad to relate to or lean on across the miles ….in a small way in Sue’s big ole Blog — I really enjoy the river of communication going on here and let me put my oar in Gods water in pulling for Sandy on her zapping that little tumor into complete remission !
    You can do it Sandy ! … And you are not alone in this fight — We Are AAALL With You ,so knock it out of the park — You CAN do it ! Your dad too…..

    • sbranch says:

      XOXO

    • Becky Maggio says:

      Oh be still my heart! Of all the things to be found, and had, in blog land, I never ever expected to find a “blog Daddy”! Seems Susan is a chip off the old block….good caring/sharing people, who truly do care about others…even though we don’t personally know it each other. No one will ever fill the void in my life, after losing our Dad to cancer 7 years ago, but Papa Jack just makes me smile and I get that “warm Daddy feeling” reading his words. Isn’t it amazing what has come about from one book?! A Fine Romance will remain a cherished book for the rest of my life…for Soooo many reasons!! Too many to even put into words at the moment because it has brought me to tears…and joy 🙂

      We are all so blessed to be a part of this journey! Thank you Sue, Joe, and Papa Jack. Our love and continued blessings to all of you and your family.

  82. Barb from Ohio says:

    Just received package today from your store, with 2014 calender, angel candle chimes and red and green dotted tea cup! Love it all but I’m giving cup to my daughter as she loves loose tea and it has the little tea strainer that just fits perfectly. Really cute! Can’t wait to use angel chimes at Christmas. Have a wonderful time out there in California with your Mom, Tomorrow is Oct. 1st, love that month. Leaves changing here more every day and temps are cooler.

    • Barb from Ohio says:

      P.S. So daughter was feeling down like she was getting a cold so I gave her the polka dot mug after supper tonight (her birthday was just too weeks ago and Christmas is still far off). She perked up and washed the mug and made her some black tea. She loves the mug with it’s saucer, lid and strainer. Really a good size too. Thanks for having it in your store!

    • sbranch says:

      LOVE angel chimes!

  83. Joan says:

    Prayers and good wishes for Sandy!

  84. Carrie says:

    Good Morning and Welcome to the Gold Coast!So is it a coincidence that the people of CA seem to be sporting bigger grins, walking with a bit of sass in their step and speaking with a lilt in their voice just when you cross the border into CA? I think not 🙂

    You’ve brought the joy and the people of CA are doing the happy dance because you’re back in good ole’ Cal-i-for-ni-a. Yes indeed, we are Branch Believers and are waiting to catch a glimpse of the Fine Romance Van Romancing the West Coast! Found this wonderful manifesto written by the blogger from “Make Me Joyful” and the “Joyful Revolution” and thought you may enjoy it: emejoyful.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/MMJ-Manifesto-V3.pdf P.S. The Johnson Brothers arrived at their California sister’s doorstep after a long trip from Gristmill Antiques. They are lovely.

  85. Margot in Virginia Beach says:

    I recieved the beads, along with some other useful items from your store. I have to tell you, that the beads are the same great quality as everything you do!!! It warms a German Swiss girls heart. I swear quality of work was pounded into my head while growing up!

    • Margot in Virginia Beach says:

      I meant (girl’s). I see the tea tins are in!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Me too. I try really hard — starting with my first books … thinking “what good is a cookbook that’s really cute if the recipes don’t work?”

  86. Lynn McMahon says:

    ~ Rabbit Rabbit!~

  87. Marsha MacLean says:

    Dear Susan and Joe,
    Welcome to California! Hope you’re getting the chance to enjoy our lovely warm days and cool nights. I’ll bet you’re planning tea with your mom somewhere special. I wish you happy moments these next weeks, while we are all patiently waiting for Remnants!
    Have you dipped your toe in our icy Pacific yet? I am always surprised that it isn’t warmer water…
    I’m busy planning a supper club event with a Country French theme for next week. I am using up some of the lavender I bought for the lemon polenta cake to make little sachets for everyone to take home. In planning decor, I am wishing The Remnants event came first. I was looking at some of the darling French linens from a few vendors who’ll be there…
    What a treat!
    Can’t wait. 🙂
    (Are we there yet?)
    Truly, though, anticipation is such a pleasant part of it all, isn’t it?
    Hope you’re having fun,
    Marsha

  88. N. Jean says:

    I am so missing your blog posts. I know you have been very busy and you are trying to rest. Hope all is well with family.

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve been busy just hanging out with my mom, but also I’m beginning to think there’s a band of anti-computer kryptonite wrapped around her house because the service is soooooo slow here. I finally gave up, and right now I am sitting in our Fine Romance Van trying to update the blog, but even here it takes years to upload a photo. I started this post three days ago and do it when everyone’s asleep, but when they get up, they say, “come on let’s go,” and so it’s just taking forever. So sorry!

      • N. Jean says:

        I am sorry you are having “technical difficulties”. It can be so frustrating. You take care and don’t worry about us, we girls are doing just fine. Enjoy time with your family, pretty soon you will be back home enjoying the late fall and early winter season. Careful travels.

      • Jack says:

        We don’t want excuses — we want results! It’s been too long … us “girlfriends” want a new blog now! Not only that, I worked like a dog cutting big ole pine tree branches — up the front walk … so I rewarded myself with a pear cider for lunch — cleared my head and brightened my spirits immediately! Someone should send a boxcar full of this Pear Cider to Congress! Those people need some head clearing too! Government Shutown – my big toe …

  89. Cyndee Randall says:

    Yay! I just ordered my tea tin! I have been watching almost daily because I am sure they will sell out quickly. I also ordered one for a friend. Mmmmm, Earl Grey! Safe travels, Susan and Joe!

  90. Teresa in Sister Lakes says:

    Hello!

    I was sitting here listening to ‘Sioux City Sue’& reading your latest blog post with the wonderful smell of brownies baking, and just had to pop in! I made the recipe from the Sept. page of the 2013 small calendar- using Ghirardelli baking chocolate and Diamond hazelnuts. You see- I was born & raised in Northern California and nothing but Ghirardelli & Diamond will do! 😉 My mouth is watering, waiting for them to ‘cool completely’!

    I missed your visit to Grand Rapids, MI so I’m hoping you come somewhere near SW Michigan on the way home!

    Have a lovely Winter!!

  91. carmel says:

    I’m with Deborah too. Sandy, you take Jack’s advice. And yes we’re all with you. So appreciative of having a surrogate Dad – thanks Jack. Jack, you’re a very generous soul. Grateful to you Susan for sharing your mom and dad with us. I had a wonderful mom too. The Vineyard bead and my California table cloth arrived today. Love the bead (will get the girlfriends bead when it comes in) and the table cloth is so much fun. Brings back memories of growing up in California. Love to all.

  92. Joan says:

    I live in West Garden Grove near Los Alamitos and Seal Beach and keep looking for the Fine Romance Van driving around – no luck so far, but still hoping!!!! Welcome to CA. 🙂

  93. Audrianne Hill says:

    Here in Michigan you can surf; we have two clubs of surfers, one in Holland and one nineteen miles up the road in Grand Haven. They wear wet suits in the winter time but are known for going out well into January.

  94. Janie Kilby says:

    Hi Susan! I am enjoying your blog & pictures & book so much! I live in Camp Verde, Az, very close to the town your dad lives in. I hoped to catch a glimpse of your van, or a chance to say hi & thank you while you were in Arizona. I feel like you are one of my girlfriends! Thanks again for sharing your wonderful life & art with us!

    • sbranch says:

      We’ll be slipping right by again on our way home, so look for the van in a parking lot near you! 🙂 Thank you Janie!

  95. Darla Glibbery says:

    Wow:). Today was really bad, and I was totally stressed out and everything, and to calm myself down, I started reading about your book tour. I feel SO MUCH better. Thank You for sharing your life with the rest of us. You are one of my favorite people:). I feel just like I did when I was a single mom and the one nice splurge that I got all YEAR was to buy your calendar for my kitchen on my birthday. If I was going through a horrible time, I would stand in front of that calendar and think of nothing but the fine lines and perfect blend of words and colors and phrasing and recipes and “hominess” and remember that just because today is bad, it doesn’t mean that EVERY day from here on out will be bad:)>. Thank You, Jesus for Susan Branch:).

    • sbranch says:

      It’s true, nothing ever stays the same — that’s the good news, and sometimes, it’s the bad news!

  96. Pine and sage…two of my most favorite smells in the entire world. Dave and I went to that crater…totally amazing!

  97. Diane Daez says:

    Hi Susan! I know this is a 2 year old post but I am new to your site so I am going through each and every post since you started and have not been disappointed! . I am Diane from Wisconsin AND the Philippines, by the way (I posted a comment on you Jan 14 ’15 post and you replied!!). I am so blessed be living along the banks/beach of majestic Lake Michigan (here we call it living on the lake) and yes, people do surf on it! I love watching surfers rise and fall. Winter is beautiful, too. Waves crash on mini “icebergs” formed on the beach. But I love it best when the lake is still and quiet. Do icebergs form on your beach, too?

    • sbranch says:

      Tiny ones sometimes, but we have salty ocean and it takes quite a bit for it to freeze. It happens sometimes and our ferry boat gets trapped by ice — but it’s rare. Thank you Diane, nice to hear from you, even from 2 years past!

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