Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sedona photos

We had been to Sedona before but it was worth another visit. The color and rock formations are grand. After viewing the end of a sunset high on a mesa at the airport we had dinner at a terrific vegetarian restaurant, and then went to a Christmas light show. A day of maximum fun units as Lisa would say.
Bonney and Beth, I wish you could have seen the quilts in one of the Sedona shops -- vibrant colors. No yarn though!

The lure of the Southwest

Well, we've been in the Phoenix area for 2 weeks now and loving it! We've spent most of our time at Susa's Serendipity Ranch and it's a great place for us. There are walking trails, a labyrinth, guest units and 2 RV hookups so there's of room. Corrals but no horses at the moment -- lots of dogs though and Molly has been all over the open range. It's quiet and we've been able to work -- and yes, our satellite is pointed in the right direction and we're connected.We like being in one place for a while and settling in a bit. The women at the ranch are so nice and it's quite comfortable. We watch the wondrous sunsets over Superstition Mountain.

Our friend Lisa was with us for a couple of days following business in Phoenix and we had a grand time!We had lunch at the Phoenician, shopped in Old Scottsdale, visited "fabulous" Glendale, went to Montezuma's Castle and Sedona.

We hadn't really planned anything for Thanksgiving; some women at the ranch asked if we wanted to celebrate with them but we wanted to be with ourselves and be outdoors. So we decided to drive the Apache Trail -- 40 miles of mostly unpaved scenic, winding roads from Apaphe Junction to Globe through Tonto National Forest and Roosevelt Lake. Magnificent scenery! We need some new exclamations and adjectives because wow! look! and Good Lord! just don't cut it anymore. It's all so breathtaking. Like all good English majors we had a respectful moment at Tortilla Flat. We stopped at Tonto National Monument and walked up to the lower cliff dwelling; you can actually walk inside the ruins. The view of the lake below is outstanding.

Aliens on the 3:10 to Yuma

We arrived in Yuma from Kingman AZ on November 9. Kingman is a destination for many Grand Canyon visitors; it’s also the site of many historical spots on the old Route 66. Molly ran and ran at the local dog park and we got a good tip for a breakfast spot. Our single sightseeing stop on the drive to Yuma was in Lake Havasu to see the London Bridge – yes the REAL London Bridge built in the 1800’s, was purchased by some guy – I’ve forgotten his name -- and he rebuilt it in AZ in the 1970’s (at a cost of about 8 million dollars.) Today, it’s the second most visited spot in the state. I thought it fairly unremarkable and rather silly; clearly I just didn’t get it. Lake Havasu seemed tacky.

On to Yuma. After miles of desert, we saw acres of salad growing along the highway. I don’t know if this is big agribusiness or what but why are they spending money to irrigate all this land?

We’re in Yuma to pick up our internet satellite dish and get trained in setting it up, and our “lessons” take all day Saturday. It’s very technical and complicated, but very cool too – our very own spot on satellite T7. See how BIG it is? Now we don’t need to search out wireless hot spots or pay for wireless access at campgrounds or wherever else we stay – we’re always connected. We’re staying with the people we bought the satellite from – Barb and Joe who own a business called RV Networking and specialize in getting mobile people connected with Starband or HugesNet. Nice people and good instructors. They have an extra hookup on their lot. This is an unusual neighborhood because RV lots and homes are all mixed together – a landscaped adobe might be next to a gravel lot with RV hookups. That’s an extreme example – actually many of the RV lots are landscaped too with garages and rooftop patios. But I love the southwest look; the adobe and stonework, iron detail and adornments, the cactus and cottonwood trees, the bright flowers.

We stopped at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area for a picnic and a short walk. The cutest chipmunk conned us into giving him some seeds from our bread, and we saw our first Gambel's Quail, recognized by their curled headpiece. We were searched before crossing Hoover Dam -- border patrol searched the inside of the RV which caused Molly a lot of concern. The dam is magnificent and amazing and deserves a place on the modern engineering wonders list. Click here for more info. The winged figures, the star map, the art deco styling, the pride of such an accomplishment.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

more Death Valley photos

more pics --

Death Valley Days

Death Valley NP has the distinction of being the first national park we visit on this journey, we hope to visit as many as possible. On our way here we drive through the Hawthorne Army Depot, one of the largest munitions storage facilities in the world.It's chilling -- acres of bunkers, some camouflaged, more underground. We're on the "other" 95.

The park is huge, over 3 million acres, the largest NP outside of Alaska. We walk some but don't do any real hiking. We drive miles and miles, coming in at Death Valley Junction and beginning at Zabrinski Point. We view Dante's Inferno, 287 ft. below sea level,the whitish cast at the bottom is dried minerals. At Furnace Creek there is a GOLF COURSE! the green is surreal in the middle of the desert. in a few days the 49ers reunion will begin and some folks have arrived early. The landscape changes as we drive through -- it's not at all boring. There are ruins of old mines, and some still mining borax. Just before sunset we get to Scotty's castle, built in the 1920's in the style of an old Spanish Hacienda for Albert and Bessie Johnson. It's like a bit of southern California in the mountains; the presence of a spring allows for growth of palms, cedar, flowers; there's a pool and guest house, chimes tower and courtyard. Painted tiles are everywhere. It all seems lovely and gracious. Scotty was a friend of Albert Johnson and quite a character. Bobbie has a long chat with the rangers, we're the only visitors by now. A tour guide couple impersonating the Johnsons tells us about their 15 years as RVers; for the past 5 years they've worked in the NP during the winter. On our way out of the parking lot we see a coyote and wonder why Molly doesn't seem to notice!

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe was one of my favorite places; our first trip was just to the southern part and the next day we went back and drove around the entire lake -- 76 miles I think. The clarity and blueness are incredible! The photos speak for themselves. The photo with the sign in the foreground is Inspiration Point; the tablecloth is from the Log Cabin Caffe where we had lunch.

Rocky Mountain High

We stayed in Golden, outside of Denver for longer than we expected because of bad weather in the mountains west. We had a great day trip to Boulder.
We were a little anxious about our drive through the Rockies because of possible quick changes in weather, many hills and steep grades – all problematic as hauling newbies. But Bobbie did fine, following her brother Mike’s advice, going slow and taking deep breaths. The ooh and ahh factor was very high as we crossed through the Rockies – magnificent, grand. My head was whipping from side to side trying to see the better view. The elevation of the Eisenhower Tunnel is 11,013 feet! Tall narrow pines, snow covered mountains; a lift carrying skiers up a perpendicular slope. Great names of old mining towns like Silver Plume, contrasted with Silverthorne which sounds like the title of a bad fantasy novel. The views were stunning at Glenwood Canyon as the Colorado runs through. We saw 3 bighorn sheep right on the side of the road – 10 feet away!!! Impossible to photograph though. We drove through the White River National Forest and passed by Glenwood Springs where we had hoped to stay. Next time we'll stop for a hot soak. We continued on to Green River State Park where we spent the night. The sky was so dark and there was an abundance of stars – still there the next morning when we rose at 6am to get an early start. As we drove a landscape of rock formations and low green brush pine was revealed. We crossed the Utah border and saw Navajo sandstone 190 million years old at the Canyons of San Raphael; red stone changing to tan and gray, all changed by wind water & time. We stopped in Salt Lake City. It’s now October.

Scene on the road
Big horn sheep
A tumbleweed!
Herbie the Lovebug
Adopt a Highway sign supported by the Colorado Friends of John Denver
Mesas, Monuments and Memories sign
Sign of black steer on gold background = open range

Those chiseled features, the blue eyes, that golden mop . . .

A long time ago I had a crush on Robert Redford. But that’s not why I wanted to go to Sundance -- I wanted to see where the Sundance catalog originated! No, really -- I heard it was a beautiful place but I was unprepared for just how beautiful. And how simple and rustic; all of the buildings are second to the natural beauty of the place and are harmonious with it. The air was full of the scent of pine and pure oxygen. It was sunny, snow-covered patches of ground, aspens, and the rushing creek. We walked all over and decided next time we want to stay River Lower in the Pines cabin.

Earlier in the day, we had been in Park City. Ski lifts come right into the center of town. Cool shops and eateries. Breathtaking setting.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

What Happens in Vegas...

Well, we ARE in Vegas but not much is happening...we stopped here to catch up on some work, found an RV park with a good internet connection. Although we did visit the Strip last night and won $40 on our new favorite slot machine - Reel Winners. (Dad, tell Mom that our win makes up for your $6 loss in 1965).

We got hooked on Reel Winners back in Reno, where we did manage to arrive in time for our conference on October 24th...four days of "trade show black hole" later, we moved to an RV park in Carson City. Sally was here for the conference and her birthday, so the three of us worked in the mornings and did the tourist thing in the afternoon. We went to Virginia City, Lake Tahoe and discovered the fantastic dinner buffet at the Atlantis Casino - we went three times! Sally had a lucky week and won almost $400 total at her favorite - draw poker.

After Sally went home, Laurina and I drove south. We passed what must be the Western division of Solid Masonry - Rock Chuck!

We drove to Death Valley and spent a day there - what a gigantic, beautiful park. No internet access, though, or even phone access, which explains why we're parked in Vegas. I'm loving this site because the Thunderbirds are based 5 minutes away and they are
practicing their routines right outside my window...it's like a free airshow!!! Kind of noisy, and distracting, but great. Wish you were here, Dad.

And here's a picture we took for Dad - the back of this big RV had a jet painted on it - guess the owner is a pilot!

More, when we catch up on work!