My Skywatch post. See more skies from around the world at the Skywatch site:

Once I get behind the wheel of Old Paint, it seems it’s hard for me to take my foot off the gas. So I’m already thinking about what my next roadtrip will be. Several things are going to govern the choice of my next destination:

1) The economy. After the blow-out at the Hotel Bel Air, I probably should concentrate on a trip where maybe I can camp or stay in a Motel 6.  That might preclude Andy. Too much business travel has left him unequipped for KOA.

2) Time. We’re coming up on planting time and, before you know it, I’ll be back at harvest time. Long-time readers will remember what happened then. Because we’d planted five different varietals that all had their own ripening schedules, I ended up living at the ranch with two terriers for more than six weeks. Andy was starting to sound like one of those suspicious husbands who vaguely puts off friends with the old, “Uh, she’s on a long trip.” Some people were ready to examine his Range Rover for bloodstains.

3) Commitment to California. After more than twenty years of living in this state, I’m embarrassed at the number of areas I HAVEN’T seen. The Year 2009 will be The Year of Traveling Californian.

So then, using the above criteria, my top choices for roadtrips are:

1) The Santa Barbara wine country. Somehow, I never seem to get to this part of the coast. I’ve been down to Hearst Castle and up from San Diego as far as LA. But Santa Barbara always seems to get skipped. Added Bonus: FOUR Missions to check off my list. Those would be San Luis Obispo, Santa Inez, La Purísima Concepción and Santa Barbara. I’m not sure how practical it would be to drag Andy to more than one Mission. He doesn’t share this obsession to see all of them. We’ll see. I may have to leave him at a winery or two while I get in touch with my inner Padre.

2) Lassen Volcano Park. Did you know we had loads of volcanos here and not just of the extinct variety? I’ve heard of it, but, as I’m embarrassed to say, I’ve never been further north in California than Mendocino, so I haven’t seen them with my own eyes. Apparently even further north, we have lava beds.

3) Yosemite. I’ve been there, once twenty years ago for a weekend and I did a quick drive-through with my niece as we ended our cross-country roadtrip. Time to give this place the time and attention it deserves.

4) Channel Islands. Did you know we have a herd of wild buffalo? Apparently a movie company once let loose a few for a movie shoot, then left them to their own devices. I want to see them. Apparently, the sea life is fascinating around there. Andy, as a diver, will love it. Me, I’ll stick above the waves with the buffalo.

5) Joshua Tree National Park. Somehow I always missed this, even when I went down to Palm Springs. Plus there’s the morbid desire to see where Gram Parsons’ manager performed that botched cremation on the the singer.

Anyone else got any good suggestions? Because my window of opportunity is closing fast. Not too many months from now and my only roadtrip option will be heading up from the barn to the wine processing area with two yapping terriers.

swfNOTE: The photo at the top of the post is actually of the road leading into Texas’s Palo Duro Canyon taken during a cross-country roadtrip two years ago. It’s my entry to Skywatch. See more fabulous pictures of the sky posted by participants around the world at the site: