Something on your mind? ? ? :-)

If you would like to leave a comment to tell me what you like or if you would like to share an experience you have had, have suggestions for new adventures, or would just like to share what's on your mind, please feel free to do so! I would really, really love to hear any feedback you would care to offer!

When you click on the comments link at the bottom of the post, you will be presented with choices for logins, if you do not already have one of the accounts listed, or you do not choose to login with that account, you can always choose the anonymous option, in which case your name would come up as Anonymous! If you choose to use one of the other log in options, your name would appear as the public name you list for that account. For example, mine would appear as Willow's Quiet Corner, and, of course, your email would not show!

Thanks! And, again, thanks for stopping by! I really hope to hear from you and to see you again soon! Let me know how you think I am doing! :-)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Garden Update

What is this? ? ?
It's been a while since I have done a garden update.  Some of these pictures are even a few weeks old now!  Ooops!  :) 

Raised bed "kinda square" foot garden - before planting

So, here is a picture of my raised bed planter before I started getting things in.  You may remember it from a previous post.

I have been battling Keeled Treehoppers.  Little buggers are nasty and hard to get rid of.  They have already completely decimated one tomato plant.  I had to pull it out and get rid of it.  And with it . . . a few million of the nymphs.

I don't want to spray anything unless I absolutely have to.  I don't want to kill any of the good guys.  I have a lot of ladybugs, spiders, birds and a few lizards around.  I think I saw a green lacewing around recently also!  Go, team!  :)  The increased bird traffic has created a big decrease in my grasshopper population!  Yayyy!

My poor Sweet Peas are starting to get powdery mildew.  I think it is too early for that.  We really haven't been getting the heat yet!  I hope that doesn't mean this is going to be a bad year for it again!  :(  But, for now, they still smell heavenly!  

I think I am making headway now . . . but we'll see!  I'm definitely not out of the woods yet.  They are on my tomatoes, my peppers and my eggplants.  I am not sure how many of them I will be able to save!

A few years ago my mom got me an Argentine Giant cactus.  They get such big, pretty blooms.  

As big as they are, you would expect a scent to match, but alas . . . they just have a slight grassy scent to them.

This one reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors . . . I can just hear him saying, "Feed me!"  What do you think?

How about an alien?  Some strange martian, perhaps?

These cherry tomatoes have soooooo much flavor!  When you bite into them, you get a big burst of flavor!  Sooooo good!  I love them.  I should have taken a pic of the ripe ones!

I can't wait to start harvesting some of the Roma tomatoes.  I don't know what I am doing wrong with the tomatoes I plant in pots.  I see other people growing big, healthy plants in pots, but mine always look a little sad and scraggly.  For those of you who successfully grow in pots, please let me in on your secret!  I am not showing you the potted ones . . . they are just too sad!

Fava Beans
I planted my fava beans a little too late, but we had a little stretch of a little cooler than usual weather, so I got an ok harvest from them.  I need to remember to plant more of them and to plant them a little earlier next time so I get more beans on the darn things.  (Pssst, hey, Jules, see those leaves in the lower left hand side?  Those are my sweet taters!  THANKS! ! !)

For now, I am hoping to be able to save enough for seed next year.

I have 3 strawberry pots, but they don't really produce enough to give me any more than 2 or 3 berries at a time.  But, they are not quite fully planted either (I have some empty pockets! :), so maybe I will be able to change that one of these days!

I nearly killed my blueberries a couple of years ago and they are starting to recover, so I am hoping to get an even better harvest next year.  This year was MUCH better than last year, but the poor things have a ways to go to be their most productive!  I got a big handful of them this weekend and had them over ice cream.  YUMMMM!  :)

My lilacs  . . . well . . .  one of my lilacs did a little better this year.  Again, the unseasonably cool weather I'm sure helped quite a bit.  They are finished for the season now, but I had them for a few weeks.

And my tarragon is doing fairly well!  But, does anyone have any idea what this . . . bee(?) is?  He was just kind of lazily buzzing about and really seemed to like my tarragon!  I have never seen one like this and hadn't seen him around here before.

So, what have you all been up to lately? ? ?  :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

To all the fathers out there, I hope you are doing everything you want to do today!

Thanks for everything you have done for us!

You're our fixers . . .

Our answer guys . . .

Our lawn care experts . . .

Our travel guides . . .

Our protectors . . .

And we appreciate all you've done!

(oh yes, . . . and one more thing . . . Da-Da . . . don't forget to give that button back to mom! ! !  ;)

Happy Father's Day!

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Keys Creek Lavender Farm and Urban Barn Trip!

So . . . a few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Keys Creek Lavender Farm in Valley Center, California.  I had been searching online for lavender farms in the area because I thought the fields would make for lovely photo ops for this little blog and found them.  Then the wait was on for bloom season.  I was happy when my trusty ol' iCal popped up the reminder it was time to check bloom status.

While perusing their site, I noticed in addition to demonstrations of distilling essential oils and walking tours of their farm, they offered High Teas.  Since I had never been to one, I decided to make a reservation.  

The day of my visit was perfect.  I treated myself to a nice coffee and croissant for breakfast.  I had a ticket to get my car washed by a local high school wrestling team trying to raise funds for their team, so I headed over there while sipping my morning coffee.  One of my colleague's son was one of the washers.  It was a hoot to watch them clowning around.  They even managed to do a pretty good job of it also!  Then I was on the road on my way to the Urban Barn down in Escondido.  I had stumbled across their site at some point and was also looking forward to seeing what treasures I might find there!

I saw a set of 4 garden/patio chairs that I would have loved to have had, they were so pretty and sooooo comfy, but they wouldn't have fit in my poor little vehicle.  And, even if I had magically been able to spirit them home . . . I have no idea where I could have put them!  So, I had to bid a sad farewell to them.  But, I did pick up a pretty little tea cup display cupboard and a couple of pitchers.  And then it was time to get going to make it to Keys Creek Lavender Farm for my High Tea experience.

I saw some areas of the state I had never seen before on my way there.  It was a very pretty drive through a rural area.  A bit of a treat from the non-stop city/pavement I usually see.  And, then . . . on to dirt roads.  Whaaaat? ? ? ?  I didn't even realize there were any dirt roads anywhere near this area! ! !  Heck, they even put the rivers in concrete out here!  (I have been out here many, many years now and that still bothers me!  I know why they do it, but it just seems . . . . well, wrong!)  Who'd have thought they would allow dirt roads? ? ?  :)  Remember my second stop of the day  . . .  getting my car washed?  *sigh*  Oh well . . . it's only dirt, right?  ;)

It was worth it!  I finally got there and wandered up the road from the parking lot.  One of the owners, Chris Kurisu (that's him up there), met everyone on the porch to the little store they have there.  I was busy snapping pics of all the little vignettes they had set up . . . and the lavender, of course.  I finally realized he was talking about the essential oil distilling process, which was one of the things I was really interested in finding out more about.  They had a little distillation machine all set up and he described how it worked.  I would like to try my hand at it, but it would be a little too pricey to buy one of the machines they have for sale for just a casual interest in trying my hand at it!

Then it was time for our walking tour.  I was surprised that the part we saw seemed so small.  I am assuming there are a lot more fields on the backside of the hill that we didn't see.  If not, it is a very small farm!  :)  Cute, but small!  The lavender smelled lovely and there were thousands of bees busily tending all those blossoms.

Once we got to the top of the little hill, just outside the residence area, Chris bid those of us with High Tea reservations adieu and took the others on the rest of the tour back down to the shop.

There was a nice sized patio area that was set up with tables, nice tablecloths, and mis-matched tea cups and saucers.  There were lavender centerpieces and lovely little plates of sugar cubes and little ceramic creamers.  Once everyone was seated, they began bringing out plates of sweets, little sandwiches and assortments of fruits.  And the tea.  They offered a few different types from which to choose.  I started with a peach tea that was oh, so very yummy, I couldn't resist it.  I should have at least tried a bit of the others, but I was already hooked on the peach!  I think I must have drank about a gallon of it!

There were so many little delicious nibbles I just couldn't resist!

I must say I really enjoyed it!  The cucumber mint sandwiches looked like they had been cut with little cookie cutters.  They were quite sweet looking, like little flowers or something!  They also had little triangles of egg salad sandwiches and tuna salad as well.  The sweets were soooooo very tempting, I'm afraid I made a little pig of myself!  Scones with devonshire cream, madelines, little chocolate yummy cookie-ish type things, strawberries, blueberries and oh goodness, everything was just delish!  It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon!  Grab some friends and get your reservations made!  But, remember, they are not offered all year long . . . it gets blazing hot out there in the summers!

See, didn't I tell you there were some super yummy looking desserts?  ;)

My most pleasant surprise of the day was the Rose Geraniums.  Ohhhhhh, mmmmmmmmmm, I really like the scent!  They distill the essential oils from those plants as well, but apparently, it takes soooooo much plant material to make the oil it is quite expensive to produce, so they don't sell just the Rose Geranium essential oil.  They mix it with the lavender essential oils.  I couldn't resist picking up some room sprays and some hand lotion.  (And a baby, fledgling Rose Geranium and a couple of lavender plants.)

Oh, I mustn't forget to show you some little piccies of the lavender fields . . . afterall, that was what started me on this little hunt!  ;)

They have several different varieties of lavender, some of which are in bloom at a little different times.

Isn't it pretty? ? ?  I wonder how many lavender wands you could make?  :)

Another surprise of the day . . . I apparently do have some allergies!  While shopping in their little store, I began sneezing.  And sneezing.  And sneezing.  And Sneezing.  I couldn't stop.  I was getting pretty uncomfortable.  Once I got outside, it subsided.  It was a small shop.  It was very warm.  There was a LOT of scent in there.  Wow!

There were so many little corners to explore, and a tiny little meditation maze walk tucked behind the bougainvillea covered arch. You can see a little peek of it in one of the photos above. 

It was such a pleasant day, I think it would be a really nice treat to go back again!  Perhaps you'll join me there!

Well, sit back and relax . . . until next time!  See ya' around! ! !  Later, gators!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Travel Alert: Colorado - Don't Drive the E-470, in fact . . . Just avoid Colorado altogether! ! !

Crater Lake - Oregon

(NOTE: See my previous post here.)

* * Updated 6-5-12 --- see bottom of post * *

Oh, lordy, lordy, lordy . . . . where to begin? ? ?  I suppose I should start with a warning that this will most likely end up as another long-winded rant . . . 

Teton Range - Reflections at Schwabachers by Smaldone
If you want to just skip to the end main idea . . . here it is . . . stay away from toll roads, most specifically the one(s) in Colorado.  And, based on how the people in charge in Colorado seem to be doing nothing about the deceptive and shady billing practices of the toll road operators even though there have been numerous exposes about their billing practices on all the TV stations and major newspapers in the Denver area, and other practices that seem aimed at making tourists lives there as difficult as possible, I'd even go so far as to recommend boycotting the state entirely.

Arrowleaf Balsamroot Flowers Grand Tetons - by David Smaldone
You want mountains, do yourself a favor and go see the Sierra Nevadas in California, or perhaps the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho, Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming or Glacier National Monument in Montana would sate your craving for the rugged majesty of the mountains in the lower 48 instead.  And, don't forget about the Appalachias on the eastern side of the continent.

Glacier National Park - Alice Lake Sawtooth 
You want skiing, try Park City, UT, or Killington, VT, Sun Valley, ID, or Lake Tahoe or Mammoth Mountain in California.

Grand Tetons - Jackson Lake by Kimberly Finch
These places embrace and welcome tourists.  They do not scheme and deceive and hide the things you need as a tourist (food, gas, lodging) and they certainly don't try to destroy your credit over ridiculous toll bills.

Glacier National Park - Reflection on Lake McDonald by David Restivo
So, here is the story . . . I am STILL fighting this nightmare.  Well, wait . . .  I am going to switch gears a bit and back up a little and first tell you about the other problems I had in that state.  Normally I would have considered those issues as just minor inconveniences, but when added all up . . . it created an experience that tells me tourists are not welcome in Colorado except to be deceived and robbed, apparently with the state government's blessing.

September 29, 2011 - morning:  I entered Colorado on the I-70 and stopped in Fruita for a late coffee and breakfast.  I got off the interstate and grabbed a coffee and croissant and tried to get back on the interstate.  Not being familiar with the area I was in the wrong lane and couldn't get over to get on the freeway because of the other traffic entering the circle, so I ended up missing the entrance and had to drive about a mile down the road to circle back.  No left hand or U turns allowed!  Then, on my second try, although I knew where I needed to go now, again, could not get over to that lane because of all the traffic entering the circle just before the spot I needed to get over to.  Another mile down and another mile back for a third try.  This time, I decided to just drive through the circle and come back from the other side so I didn't have to try to get over with all the traffic coming through right at that spot.  I am used to driving in extremely busy LA traffic, this shouldn't have been so difficult.  It was as if they worked really, really hard to come up with something to make life as difficult as they possibly could for travelers unfamiliar with the area.

September 29, 2011 - Later that afternoon I was passing through Vail.  I needed gas and the sign said gas next exit, so I got off and drove up and down and around . . . no further signs and no sign of a gas station in sight.  So, I got back on the freeway and thought I'd try the next one.  Next exit, another sign on the interstate that says gas next exit, so again, I get off and start driving all around looking for the promised gas.  Again, no luck finding it.  Good thing I try not to get very far below a half tank before I top off.  Third exit . . . again, a sign promising gas next exit and again . . . no gas station in sight.   Up, down, around, back and forth.  No sign of gas in sight.  I finally find a road crew and ask one of the workers where in the world they hide all the gas stations in that town.  As luck would have it, the worker was not only not from the area, she wasn't even from Colorado, she was from Utah, working on the crew for the season.  But . . . she said she thought if I drove down the road about a mile and a half and started looking down over the left side of the road and watched closely, there would be a little restaurant and they had gas there.

So, off I went, and she was right.  But by golly, you did have to watch very carefully . . . even knowing to watch for it, I still nearly missed it.  There were no signs.  The embankment was very steep and very deep.  The restaurant was just a tiny little cafe with a couple of pumps outside it.  By the time I got there, I was below a quarter of a tank, it took quite a bit of the gas I had left just to find a gas station.  I was beginning to think I was going to run out of gas before I found a station. 

I can understand not wanting to clutter up scenic areas with massive billboards and signs everywhere, but come on, Colorado . . . if you are promoting tourism and want people to visit, they are going to be needing things like food, gas and lodging on their journeys.  If you are going to hide them and not put any signs up to make it easier to find these things, we get the impression you don't really want us there.

October 4, 2011 - I re-entered Colorado on my return trip home.  I made the fateful decision to take the toll road as a short cut from the 76 over to the scenic road to go up to Rocky Mountain National Park.  I somehow missed getting on it from the 76 and got off at the next exit and had to drive FOR-E.V.E.R. to try to find a way onto the toll road.  I was beginning to think I would never find it when all of the sudden, I noticed a comparatively small sign (maybe 8" by 20") that said toll road.  So, I got on and started looking for the toll booth.  I have taken a few toll roads in my life.  I don't mind paying the fees, so I was expecting to pay and be done with it.  But, there was not one toll booth in sight.  Nowhere.  So, I thought perhaps there would be one at the end when I got off.  There was no signage, nothing that gave any indication as to how to pay the toll or even how much it would end up being.

When I got to the end of the road, there was still no toll booth.  Still no signage giving any indication as to how to pay.  Not being from the area, I thought maybe the road may have been decommissioned as a toll road or something.  It was odd being on the road.  Here was a nice, big road in a metropolitan area, about midday during a work week, but there was almost no traffic on it.  I'm not sure I even saw a dozen cars the whole time I was on it.  I guess that should have been a warning sign that something was very wrong with that road.  I have since found out why the locals know to stay away from this nightmare.

Anyway, I got to the end of the road and continued on my journey, up and around through Rocky Mountain National Park and finally back to interstate 70 and on my way back home.

Now fast forward a few weeks.  A letter arrives, but it looks like junk mail, so it gets set aside.  A couple of weeks later, another arrives.  I realize it is a bill for the toll road and pay it.  It was dated 11-12-11, but there was another date in the upper right hand corner of 11-15-11 and I didn't receive it until about a week later.  Apparently, they take a photo of your license plate and then bill you that way.  It would be nice if they would at least post signs that tell you that is what is going to happen.  

Then, a few days later, another bill arrives, dated 11-14-11.  Since I had already paid it, I just figured it had crossed in the mail with my payment.  Then a few weeks later, another bill with an additional late fee arrives, dated 12-12-11 and another date in the upper tight hand corner of 12-14-11and again it arrived about a week after that.  So, I sent a note with a copy of my cancelled check.  Then, another bill arrives with additional late fees also dated 12-14-11.  And yet another bill with an additional $25 civil penalty dated 1-14-12.

Then I get a letter from the toll company dated 1-18-12 saying they would waive the $5 late fee just this one time only.  It was worded like they thought I was some deadbeat and needed a bit of scolding.  Could they not see they were sending the bill to California and I would not likely be using their precious road again?  But, it didn't say anything about the other $25 penalty and other late fees they had tacked on.  

So, I googled "toll road ripoff" and the E470 came right to the top of the search.  And the stuff I was reading was incredible.  Absolutely unbelievable.  I couldn't believe what I was reading.  Story after story about the nightmares people have been put through for the sin of having taken that road.  People's credit is being ruined over these piddly $3 and $4 toll fees.  Apparently, the toll road operators assume everyone will just know they should go online and google how to pay the toll.  Seriously?  After reading what everyone else has been put through, I wouldn't want to give them my credit card number, they would probably try to charge me for the entire cost of building the road.

The toll road operators initially weren't even sending the bills out to people until they had already been sent to collections and billed hundreds and even thousands of dollars in penalties and fines.  They claimed the post office lost all the bills or that the person did not keep their address current with the DMV, even though many of the persons involved had not moved in years.  Funny how the collections notices all seemed to have gotten through when none of the other bills they claimed they sent did.  In some cases, people from other states received collection notices in the hundreds of dollars range when they had never even been to Colorado and were basically told too bad, they had to pay anyway.  One woman was fined thousands of dollars and sent to collections over a CREDIT the toll road owed her.  Here are some of the links:

All the local TV stations and newspapers had done stories about the abuses heaped on unsuspecting motorists.  I got a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that I was just the latest victim of this unscrupulous toll management company.  So, 1-23-12 I started writing letters.  To the governor, to the TV stations, to the newspaper reporters, to the toll company, to senators, etc.

For a while, I didn't hear anything.  Then, I get a notice dated 2-21-12 that I had been sent to collections.  For a bill I had already paid and had been sending copies of the cancelled check to prove it.  Needless to say, I was very angry and frustrated.

So, I sent more letters to the governor, a couple of senators, the toll road, the collection agency on 2-26-12.

Next I got a generic form letter dated 3-23-12 back from the governor's office thanking me for my input and directing me to contact Gina Talmadge with the Colorado Department of Transportation.  I hadn't heard anything more, so I was hopeful someone finally actually read one of my letters and realized they had made a mistake and fixed it.

Then I finally got a response from the toll company dated 4-18-12.  They said there was "one long toll road circling the Denver metro area, it is made up of two separate parts - E470 and the Northwest Parkway." And that neither of them knows what the other is doing.  And that "a driver can use the toll road system one time and receive two separate bills . . . which understandably can be very confusing."  Really?  They know it can be confusing, but they do nothing to make it less so?  Why don't the two companies just state right on the bills they send out that a person could be billed by multiple agencies for one trip on the road?    

Why didn't they tell me that there were two bills with my first letter and copy of cancelled check?  Why did they wait until after they had safely sent me on to collections to begin ruining my credit over a stupid $3.95 toll?  I'll tell you why . . . it would appear they are purposely making it confusing in order to drive the fees, fines and penalties up as far as they possibly can for each person who unknowingly falls into their little trap.  For some reason, they apparently aren't getting enough traffic on the road to be able to pay for it, so they are fleecing those unwary travelers who haven't been warned of their unscrupulous billing practices.  

Then they go on to say there is nothing they can do for me now because it has already been sent to collections.  How convenient for them.

So, since the nightmare was continuing I decided to take the governors office's suggestion to contact Gina Talmadge regarding this situation.  I offered to pay the toll and requested they remove the other late fees and penalties because of the way this has been handled and the apparently purposefully deceptive billing practices.  I spent $1.10 in postage just to send her copies of all the bills and correspondence back and forth regarding this situation.  Only to find the letter back in my mail box a few weeks later with a hand written "Return to Sender" on it.  No explanation as to why it was returned.

In the meantime, after I had sent the letter to her, with copies to the governor, a couple senators, the toll road and the collection agency, I received another notice from the collection agency dated 5-1-12 stating that they were now billing me a total of $50.75 for the original $3.95 toll fee, with the threat of adding an additional $250 to it if it isn't paid within 10 days of the date of the letter.  There are threats of liens against my property, garnishment of wages, etc.  ALL OVER A $3.95 TOLL FEE! ! ! !  SERIOUSLY? ? ? ?   Again, it took a while to reach me, and I feel that it is unconscionable that they are doing this to me.  

The bill should never have been forwarded to collections while I was trying to prove they had cashed my check.  It wasn't like I was ignoring them.  They never told me there were actually two different bills involved until after the damage to my credit was done.  I have spent quite a bit on postage, not to mention the HOURS I had spent composing letters and getting copies made, etc.  I have spent more time on this now than the time it took for the entire drive through their state.  Oh, that I could go back in time . . . I would gladly have driven a hundred miles out of my way to avoid that whole mess!  Actually, knowing what I know now . . . I would have avoided Colorado entirely.  Drive north of it, drive south of it, but never through it again.

The whole time I was sending them letters, copies of the bills I had been sent and copies of the cancelled check they NEVER told me there were two separate bills involved.  If they had, I would have paid the other bill.  I just thought it was all one bill that they couldn't get straight.  Honestly, how many people out there would expect to receive multiple bills for a single drive on one road?  And they didn't tell me that there were two separate bills until April! ! ! !

So, 5-8-12 I send more letters out to Gina Talmadge (Department of Transportation), Al White (Department of Tourism), Evie Hudak (Transportation Commission), the governor, the toll road and the collection agency.  I included the payment for the original billed amount in Ms. Talmadge's letter.  I sent this second letter before the first letter was returned unopened and with no explanation, so I am not sure she will receive the payment.  Still waiting to see what fresh hell they are going to unleash on me next.

Every time I think I have heard the last of them . . . another bombshell is dropped in my mailbox.  Perhaps they will take away my home and extradite me and put me in prison with all the other hardened criminals who also didn't pay their $3.95 toll bills because they also didn't know there were two separate companies involved.  I have read that some people have had some luck contacting the State's Attorney General's office, so if the saga has to continue . . . that will be my next step.  I will also be asking a friend who is an attorney for some assistance.  I think it is absolutely ridiculous that it has come to this.  If they just had some way to pay while I was on the stupid road, it would have been over and done with in 2 minutes and I wouldn't have to be tortured over and over like this.

If I can even help one person avoid the nightmare of Colorado's ripoff toll road . . . these posts will be worth it.  And, if I can keep someone from going to Colorado, it would actually make me happy!  They do not deserve our tourist dollars if they are going to treat us like common criminals after they purposefully make their toll road payment process so confusing.

. . . .  I'll keep you posted . . . .

* * * * * * * * * *  UPDATE!   UPDATE!   UPDATE! * * * * * * * * * *

I received a letter from Gina Talmadge's office today.  She informed me that CDOT "does not have jurisdiction on the toll roads" (again, I was only on 1 road - they are the ones that allow two different agencies to operate different sections of it).   She also said that they "are separate public highway authorities enabled by law to build and operate their own toll roads.  They are not part of the State-owned highway system."  

She apologized that I had been misinformed by the governor's office that I should contact the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT - her office) and she has notified them about that.

She also said she had forwarded my letter and check to Northwest Parkway and that she had called and spoke to a supervisor there who told her that once they received my letter and check (I had already copied them in and had noted that at the bottom of the letter I sent to Ms. Talmadge, but I guess they didn't notice that), they will close out my account.  No mention was made about whether they will repair any damage they may have already done to my credit.

Also she mentioned that "CDOT had no influence on the decision to settle the dispute; rather it was Northwest Parkway who decided to make a very rare decision in your favor to settle the matter after it had already gone to collections."

I don't want to seem ungrateful that this nightmare appears to be coming to a close for me.  I will believe it is over when I don't receive any further threats from their collection agency and I can see they have not destroyed my credit, but based on how things have gone . . . I am not going to hold my breath and will now also have to run checks on my credit in a few months to be sure they haven't destroyed it over this stupid $3.95 toll.  But, for now anyway, they seem to have come to their senses.  However, all correspondence I have received has been rather . . . lacking in my opinion.  Every letter has basically claimed no one is responsible for or has any control over some aspect of this process and has contained some element of treating me like a criminal.  It is extremely annoying and frustrating.

If I had been able to pay when I was on the road, NONE of this would be happening now.  I was not trying to get out of paying.  I thought I had paid.  I kept sending copies of the cancelled check.  I wasn't going to keep paying the same bill over and over.  If, in the first place, they had simply noted on the bills that a person could receive multiple bills and why, I could and would have been able to take care of them before they escalated them.  As billed, though, again . . . I thought I had paid it and they were having billing problems.  Even the toll road operator said their processes were confusing.  Again, if they know their processes are confusing, they have a duty to make them less so.

This took a HUGE amount of time and effort to try to get resolved.  It should have been resolved a very long time ago when they were receiving the first letters I had sent them.  I copied in EVERYONE! Postage and copies alone totaled well over $20-$30, I didn't think to keep track of it all when this started.  And time . . . OMG . . . lots of long letters took a long time to compose.  

Then there was all the time and effort in writing these long posts  . . . hoping to help others who might be unfortunate enough to end up in a similar nightmare.  And, if you are seeing this BEFORE a trip to Colorado . . . please consider yourself forewarned . . . and if you are going to be renting a car there as well . . . well . . . don't go ANYWHERE near those toll roads unless you have hundreds to spare to donate to the toll authorities!

So, bottom line is, it would appear no one has any jurisdiction or control over what these toll road operators choose to do to the unwary travelers who end up on their roads.  They are apparently free to make things as confusing as they possibly can to run the fees and penalties up at an astonishing rate with impunity!  None of the offices seem to care what they are doing to the tourists who visit and who are unfamiliar with their practices.  

So, I say: TRAVELERS BEWARE! ! ! !  

. . . I truly hope this will be the end of this story . . . but, we'll see what happens . . .  as before . . . I'll keep you posted!