Sunday, July 31, 2011

Waterfalls in the High Desert?

Although we are about 28 miles from Kennewick, WA, there are three other similar sized cities with about the same population as Kennewick, about 50,000. The Tri-Cities consist of Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, and West Richland. (I know, I know, that's four, but they count West Richland as part of Richland. There is a LOT of history here with the Lewis and Clark expeditions along the Snake River, and the Columbia where they meet, at the confluence of these two rivers. (I learned a new word today!) There is Sacajawea State Park in Pasco that has some interesting artwork by Maya Lin, a famous artist, some engraved basalt Story Circles that we might check out this week. She reinterprets the history of Lewis and Clark's expedition from a Native American viewpoint.  Here is a link to the park's history and the story circles...Sacajawea State Park.  There is a 23 mile continuous bike trail along the Columbia River that connects the tri-cities that I'm going to try and see if Eldy will check it out with me. The heat is just so debilitating that neither one of us feels much like venturing out in the hot sun...

The Columbia River Valley shares the same latitude as the Burgundy and Bordeaux regions of France, so great wines are being made here. We heard that Walla Walla has tons of wine tasting storefronts and that's something else to check out if you are in this area. You can visit more than 160 wineries within a one hour's drive from here! Holey Moley! We'd never make it back home! (Hmmmmm....maybe an overnight stay in a hotel is called for here!)

There are also ten golf courses in the Tri-Cities area, but we haven't checked out prices---too hot!
Hanford Reach
OK, if it's too hot to ride bikes, too hot to hike, too hot to play golf,  and too hot to go play, (Geez, sounds like a Dr. Seuss book!) we could just check out any one of EIGHT National Wildlife Refuges and Reserves that have nature trails and shoreline viewpoints in the tri-cities area. The area's best known wildlife viewing area is Hanford Reach National Monument, north of the tri-cities. This was designated as a national monument in 2000, by President Bill Clinton. It is the only free-flowing non-tidal stretch of the Columbia River unaffected by the hydroelectric dam system. It's a 51 mile stretch of unspoiled river.....check out this stock photo of the Hanford Reach Monument....

After some deliberation and being a little bored after laying low for a couple of days, we decided to take a road trip today....Highway 395 north to highway 260 east to highway 261, off to Palouse State Park where we heard there were some unusual geological formations of basalt and a pretty big falls, Palouse Falls which are 185 feet tall....The drive was there was through high desert country--barren and sparsely populated. The drive into the state park was more of the same. At the end of the destination, you come into a beautiful little park with hiking trails from the top of the trail down to the canyon valley and the bottom of the falls. And there are some spectacular formations of basalt rock which have been deeply carved out by previous ice age river floods. We had a nice picnic lunch there, then explored the canyon walls at the top. This was a beautiful little gem of a park in the middle of high desert country! Being high desert country, it's snake country as well, but we didn't see any! (Thank goodness! exclaims E. What is it with this woman wanting to see rattlesnakes!????)  The park's unique basalt faults and basins and river were formed by ice age floods that roared through the canyons eons ago......They water the park picnic areas so it was like a little oasis in the middle of the desert......

We did a loop drive so on the way back, we headed back from Palouse Falls State Park through Walla Walla by way of highway 12, then highway 730 back home. We heard a LOT about all the wineries in Walla Walla Valley, but the grapevines were harder to spot than the wineries! We didn't stop in Walla Walla although there are plenty of tasting cellars to be found there....Instead, we just continued to meander through small towns and little burgs and wheat fields after wheat fields after wheat fields. I swear, it was like the Sahara Desert---amber waves of grain a plenty! Washington must be a huge wheat producer from the miles and miles of wheat fields we saw on the way back...

We passed through the little town of Dayton, Washington, which has a historical train depot there. It was closed, but it looked very interesting!  Then, as we were driving through town, we saw three deer at the very side of the road, a doe and two fawns. They boogied as we pulled up along side the road to try and catch them in a photo. As we were pulling out, something caught my eye on the other side of the street--some silhouetted signs pointing to something. I told Eldy, "Let's go check that out! I seem to remember reading something about a whole field of silhouetted figures and I think it's here in this town." He patiently does a 360 turn and back we go down a country road...I'm thinking, oh, boy...maybe this is  nothing and I've just led him on a wild goosechase for nothing..." (Wouldn't be the first time Sparky has done THAT! says E.) And here we come to a historical marker.....and this is what we saw......

Sculptural silhouette representations of Lewis and Clark's encampment at Patit Creek in 1806.....with a plaque that tells who the actual 33 people were and what they were doing the night of the encampment, according to Lewis and Clark's notes, right down to details like "resting his sore back".

Very interesting! Dayton also had some interesting small town about this lawn bike? I saw this right next to a tiny little general store where I bought some sweet Walla Walla onions. Heckuva way to get some exercise!

Had to take a photo of the railroad car slots while Eldy got gas for the car........

We also saw a couple of mountain goats on the way back, too! I couldn't help thinking about the Billy Goats Gruff story we learned as little kids when I saw these two high up on the rocky mountainside....Eldy did his fast stop on a curve---then backed up at the side of the road to a safer spot so I could get my photos--what a guy!

We went from high desert barren country, to basalt rocks, canyons and waterfalls to the Columbia River all in one day!  Whew! Never a dull moment on a road trip with Eldo! Tomorrow the Gorge!
Sailing on the river

Saturday, July 30, 2011

An Awesome Air Show And More!

When we came to town a couple of days ago, one of our first stops after settling in was a trip to the local visitor's center in Kennewick, WA, the closest major town. We picked up our usual tourist guides, magazines for the area, and local newspapers and settled in for an afternoon of reading to get the feel for the area. We found out that there was an unlimited hydroplane race at Columbia Park in Kennewick this weekend, called the 41st Annual Tri-Cities Water Follies, which features the Columbia Cup unlimited hydroplane event AND an air show and Friday was "free Friday"--no admission, and something about free french fries from a local company. (FREE and FREE french fries? I'm IN! says E.) He's a big french fry nut.....

We headed out to Kennewick late this morning, about 28 miles away, and we ended up spending the rest of the day there. It was really fun! Although it was hot, there were shady spots and Friday was a great day to go, 'cuz it was FREE!

Today we got to see a terrific air show first to start off the afternoon...Restored Huey helicopters doing a flyby, F-15 fighter jets, and the craziest stunt pilots in small planes doing the most incredible aeronautic acrobatics we have ever seen!

The stunt pilots stalled their planes to a virtual stop, they did all kinds of rolls, dives and wiggling and whipping their planes back and forth, flipflopping around to the extent that it looked effortless to make their planes do whatever they wanted them to---almost like a little kid with a remote control airplane doing the most impossible twists, turns, corkscrews and dives, only these were real planes. We've never seen anything like that! It was amazing and jaw dropping. We had no idea you could make a plane do all the sorts of tricks they did. They seemed to defy every aeronautic law in the books while they were up in the skies...... How about an F-15 doing a fly by right in front of you just skimming over the water, flying upside down then climbing 3 miles straight up, then diving straight back down? The announcer spewed lots of facts right and left about the jets, the stunt planes, the G forces, facts about the Hueys, but it was hard to remember all that while your jaw dropped open taking photos......WOW! and "LOOK AT THAT!!" was about all we could manage during the air portion of the show....But it failed to impress this guy--guess he just wanted to work on his tan....
This little miss was on a very serious mission....she had to follow her daddy and not lose him in the crowd. She passed by us at least twice in her pink jeep. (Bet she'd love the pink jeep tours in Sedona, AZ!)

Then, the qualifying started for the hydroplanes....Those boats are FAST!  We had a great view in front of us.....late in the day, they ran a "Dash for Cash" race and we got to see as many as six boats all racing at the same time....I guess this race is on the main racing circuit, so it's a big deal!  We were lucky to find out about it, and get to get a taste of what it was like without having to pay the 15.00 a person one day's admission.

There was lots of good food there as always with a festival/show and Sparky never fails to find good food when there's good food to be had.....It was hot but a nice breeze came in off the river and after sitting in the sun for awhile, we backed up into the shade, that and two snowcones helped cool me down....A fun day and it was FREE! We almost thought about coming back again for the races Saturday or Sunday, but after talking to the gal sitting next to us, who had been here before, she told us the crowds would be ridiculous and you'd have to come hours early to get a seat for the race. She said it would be difficult to even see the boats. After talking to her a little more, she turned out to be a full time RVer just starting out, so we traded stories about where we'd been and exchanged phone numbers and email. It was nice meeting you, Karen!
serious shade, these folks had the right idea!
It should be a rather calm weekend, we don't have any plans as of right now for Saturday and Sunday...BUT, you never know with Eldo! We'll see what the day brings tomorrow.....

Friday, July 29, 2011

Corps of Engineer Parks-Plymouth Park

We traveled about 320 miles today from Mountain Home, Idaho, to Plymouth, Washington. Really, folks, we are not going to continue this feverish pace to get to Washington...well, duh, Sparky, we ARE here in Washington now! We have about ten days until my brother's wedding in Easton, WA, and Eldo just decided to hurry up and get here and wait....which is fine with Sparky, too! We're are going to sit and recoup from eating our way through Sedona and doing the tourist things, and staying in a park that was above our 30.00 a night budget. The park in Sedona, Rancho Sedona, was very nice, very shady, had its own swimming hole by a creek, laundry, etc. and it was 51.00 a night, but it WAS within walking distance of town. Since we are in the middle of nowhere at the moment, (not even a grocery store too close) we'll have to really plan to eat at home....wa-a-a-a-nh! (That Sparky can be a whiner sometimes! sighs Eldy) Eldy wants to know if I'm gonna fire up the grill tonight, ha ha! Maybe I'll have him do it! (see yesterday's blog)

He got on the website this morning and found a Core of Engineers park here in Plymouth, WA. Where is THAT? you ask. Plymouth, a VERY small town, is west of Walla Walla, WA and south of Kennewick, WA, and it appears to sort of be in the middle of nowhere...except it's close to the mighty Columbia River, and it's right off highway 82. It's called Plymouth Campground and it's on Lake Umatilla. The Columbia River is just a hop, skip, and a jump past the lake. Unfortunately, there is no way to go down to the river at the park. However, there is a "day use" area at this park with a little beach and swimming section. These out of the way spots are rather common to Corps of Engineer parks. They usually have something to do with a dam or waterway, and every C.O.E. park we have stayed in has been exceptionally well thought out and the facilities have been excellent. This park is no exception and it's incredible! First of all, it's laid out totally different than your normal RV park. The sites are set up in horizontal, parallel positions down each side of the main road in the park. Almost every site is a pull through. You pull off the road and into a little mini lane parallel to the main road. The sites are HUGE, the park is heavily shaded, but trees are NOT a problem with big rigs. We have a huge metal picnic table, a fire pit, and a large cement pad that the picnic table sits on, then a large graveled area so campfires can be had in the fire pit without worrying about starting a fire in the grass or trees. There is a TON of room to spread out your camp chairs, lounge chairs, and anything else you want to put out. Hammock, anyone? There is even a tiny little laundry since towns are few and far between here.  With the Golden Age Senior Pass, we are paying 12.00 a night for FULL hookups and this huge, green living space for the next week. The area around the park is high desert, and the nearest major town is Kennewick, WA, about 24 miles away. But the park itself is a little green oasis in the desert. They water the grounds and it's really green. And, it's level and flat so I can ride my bike around. Gotta keep trying to keep some semblance of fitness around here, or my body is going to start complaining!

There is a nice breeze blowing every day so far and the humidity is low here, even though it's in the nineties. (Now, if I can just get Sparky to sit still for awhile!)

We are a little far from the Columbia Gorge area, but we'll probably hop in the car after a day or two of rest and go exploring!  See you somewhere tomorrow......We just heard there is a big boat race in Kennewick this weekend, an unlimited hydroplane race--think Miss Budweiser in the good ole days....sounds like fun and Friday is FREE admission, always a good thing to go explore when stuff is free! See you on the Columbia River tomorrow.....

Thursday, July 28, 2011

One of THOSE Days...

The drive to Washington today was uneventful...the tire pressure monitor didn't go off, we didn't have any problems with the rig, we got fairly decent gas mileage, 9.4, going from Mountain Home Idaho to Plymouth, WA., a distance of about 328 miles traversing highway 84, then highway 82....Eldy is going to slow down for the next few days, in fact, he's not even going to be driving the rig! (WHOOPEE!) Eldy's over here doing the "Happy Dance" right now....We're going to sit tight for a whole WEEK. (E. says, IF Sparky can sit that long!)

Well, it was one of those days, because.....when we pulled into the pull through lane at the park (more about the park tomorrow) which was horizontal to the main road we came down on, Sparky didn't notice that the lane was just a teeny bit narrower than the normal pull throughs at most parks. So I got Eldy situated to what I thought was a great position for the utilities...Put down the wooden block pads, put down the levelers, hook up the water, hook up the sewer and the electric...(And Sparky, says E., I want you to stand outside the living room slide and make sure we have enough room that when the slides come out, we won't bump the electrical box)...No worries, mate! We've got PLENTY of room for the big slide to come out...Actually, I didn't say so, but I was not so sure we were going to be able to get the slide all the way out...Eldy starts the slide...Further and further out it came, and about five inches short of being all the way out, I yelled, "STOP!!!!" The slide was going to hit the box. RATS! We had to pull in the slides, disconnect the electric, water and sewer, and start all over again. I pulled out the wooden pads and Eldy backed up the motorhome. He relocated it so we would not hit the electric meter.  He let the air out, (the air bags in a diesel pusher) and the levelers started their noise to come down....Oh, NO! I forgot to put the wooden block pads under the levelers! I'm sure I looked like  a one-man Keystone Cops show, you know, those goofy silent antics, fast paced movies (from the twenties-- for you younger kids)...I was running around the rig with my fire poker that we use to position the leveling blocks, jabbing at the blocks, running to the next one, trying to get all four in place before the levelers started coming down. I'd run to one, bend over, look under, poke and push, and run to the next one. I ran so fast I ran around the rig twice! The neighbors across the street were laughing their butts off, I'm sure. They must have thought we were newbies! We got everything straightened out, and settled in....

Next, it was dinner time, time to fire up the grill for baked potatoes and marinated flat iron steak...(Yep, you heard that right, Sparky is actually cooking us dinner tonight! says, E., flabbergasted.) I was a little bit in a hurry to get the fire lit and work a load of laundry down at the laundry room at the same time, riding my bike back and forth between our site and the laundry room. (Note to self: don't try to multitask when you are tired!) (And-- doesn't this sound like an ADD adult to you? asks Eldy.) I struck the match too close to my shirt, a pretty pink one, a NEW one--and darned if I didn't singe the shirt with the match head, and I honestly thought it was going to start burning!--a fluke, for sure! I ran into the RV and splashed water on myself.  Arrrrrrgghhh!  Ok, we get through dinner, I'm gonna sit down under the tree where there is some shade and relax...maybe catch up on some blogs....SPLAT!!!!

A bird SHIT on my shirt!   UGH!  EWWWWWW! I ran into the house to change...Eldo is looking bewildered. His beloved is upset, cranky, and fussing about her shirt. He tries to tell me it doesn't look so bad, but the burn mark is not repairable. Let's see, did anything else go wrong today? Oh, yeah! I hit my head on the slide, hard, looking for the matches to start the fire with! But, no blood..I'm ok.....just frustrated! and tired....time to call it a night....

What, no photos?! Well, Eldy would have gotten mad if I had whipped out my camera to show how close we came to hitting the electrical box....and I would have grossed myself out to take a photo of my shirt with the bloody bird poop on it and the nasty burn mark, so geez, what else can I show you? How about a nice photo of Eldy and my sister, Lyle from Sedona?  Yeah, that's the ticket...OK, Sparky,  now breathe deep....and SLOW DOWN.....Everything's going to be ok...soothes E. (He's good for me, says Sparky. He helps me keep my blood pressure down when I get wound up!) Tomorrow will be a better day......It's beautiful at this park we are at...wait till you see it! And it's 12.00 a day!
Eldy and my sister, Lyle in Sedona

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Traveling to Plymouth, Washington

Eldo gets around, doesn't he? We debated staying another day at Mountain Home. One of our readers told us about the dunes, and although they are very cool to see, we just weren't up for a hot day on hot sand, even if they ARE 300 feet high! There were some other things to see in Mountain Home, so if we ever stay here again, we'd go:
     To the Bruneau Dunes Public Observatory, the Bruneau Canyon Overlook (1200 foot deep gorge)--dang! Sorry to have missed that one! Play golf at the Desert Canyon Municipa Golf Course in Mountain Home, and check out the Carmela Winery at Glen's Ferry and eat at the great restaurant there...
Restaurant in Jerome

We decided to head west on highway 84...heading towards Washington....While we are driving today, I thought I'd post just a couple more photos from Jerome, an interesting town that has reinvented itself to attract tourists and some thoughts about other stuff, too...Being that it's a mile high, Jerome has an interesting history behind it---town buildings have slid off the mountain into oblivion, there are remnants of old ghost town shenanigans, and some great old west history behind it. Like "Husband's Alley", where the prostitutes kept a lower profile so their customers could come see them.. There seemed to be quite a few "psychic readings" kind of places--that's always fun!  And places with names that kind of stopped you in your tracks to wonder....."Belgian Jennie's Bordello Bistro and Pizzeria" !!! Is that the west's version of a Hooter's? We didn't try it but we did try the Mexican restaurant called "Quinze" ("15") ...excellent southwest style food...My entire family of 8 that were there that day loved it!

We saw a lot of interesting figurines that were skeletons dressed in all kinds of outfits and finery in the shops...coasters with "Day of the Dead" figures on them, and books written about this particular event. First, I thought that was kind of macabre, but once you gain knowledge about another culture's traditions, you develop an appreciation for that culture and understand how they handle a very difficult life transition.

My daughter explained to me the Day of the Dead is like a holiday in Mexico. It occurs during the last days of October and the first few days of November. It's a festive and friendly observance that lasts for a few days for departed family members. November 1st is set aside for children who have passed, and November 2 for adults. People in Mexico (and in other countries as well)  celebrate death with color and costumes on these days and honor the memory of their deceased loved by making shrines in their homes, telling funny remembrances and stories about their loved ones, and serving their favorite foods and beverages. They celebrate with dancing, skull masks and other specially shaped masks. Skull shaped sugar candy, is a popular sweet at this time, too. Flowers predominate along with skull faced costumed dolls and figurines. We saw many, many of these skull faced dolls in the shops. Ah-h-h-h...Now I understand what this is all about!

I know before my mom passed away a couple of years ago, she told us she would not want us to be sad, that we should have a party and celebrate her life, and we did! It was wonderful! I made a large tall photo book with stories about her life from the very beginning to the very end of her 96 years, and everyone came to my sister's house instead of going to the funeral home, and we laughed and shared many, many great stories about Mom. I know she was looking down on us and laughing and partying with us. It was our way for our family to find some joy in a very sad and difficult time for us.....Not everyone feels this way or would choose to handle a passing in this way, I just know this was a very healing way for our family to handle our loss.

And so....back to the road again we go.....We'll catch up with you later!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Where's Eldo Today?

We pulled into Scipio, Utah last night at the Flying J. off highway 15. It was a smaller one, there appeared to be only truckers lanes for overnight parking. When I called on the phone beforehand, the attendant said, "Just park around back." We looked the parking over and it was quite full of truckers only. We could have parked among the Big Boys (Whaddya mean Big Boys? We're one of them counting the tow car! protests E.) He's absolutely right, but it still didn't feel right. There weren't that many lanes left and what if some overtired truck driver pulled in for the night and saw us sitting in the truckers' lane and he/she couldn't get in? So off we went a little farther. We knew there was another Flying J about 30 miles up the road in Nehi, and there was plenty of room for us and our car without unhooking. We covered 478 miles today, unintentionally! It was relatively quiet for a truck stop..we were so pooped that we slept pretty darn well. I was pooped from knitting all day, and Eldy was pooped from driving. He had the hard part!

We set off this morning from Nephi, drove along highways 15 and 84, and ended up in Mountain Home, Utah, traveling about 368 miles today. We were going to stop at the Carmela RV Park in Glen's Ferry, but there were questions about only having 30 amp power at that park. There's a winery across the street and a four star restaurant there. (Whew! I'm glad we continued on, we would have broke the budget all the way around if we had stayed there, sighs E.)

Mountain Home is about 40 miles southwest of Boise, ID. We found a great park, Mountain Home RV Park, a little over budget, (33.00 a night with Good Sam's discount) but after spending the night in the Flying J last night for free, Eldy deserves a nice spot for the night. We're not sure if we are going to stay one night or two. This is high desert country, and there is LOTS of wind, about 20-35 miles an hour right now....however, VERY pleasant! Temperatures in the daytime were about 90 degrees today while we were traveling and they are going to get down to the mid fifties tonight in Mountain Home. Sparky likes that! Great sleeping weather!

This would be a nice stay for more than just one night. It's a relatively new park, about 6 years old. Sides are concrete pads, all pull throughs, full hookups. There are some sites that have more mature trees than others, so there is some shade. As you come in the entrance, it's beautifully landscaped with rose bushes, stone and mature trees. No pool, but that's wifi, air card works FAST. The office staff was super friendly and guided us to our site. There are lots of scenic byways in the area, but we're kind of all traveled out at the moment, so we're probably not going to go driving in the car any time soon.

It's kind of a winding down time for a bit after all the hubbub of the family coming and going, so the blog is a bit boring today. An uneventful drive today, the part of Idaho we were in was flat, sandy looking and drab. Idaho is anything BUT! when you see the guides they put out. We'll have to check it out this evening and see if there's something nearby we want to see before heading to Oregon. We are hoping to get to Oregon soon as we want to explore the Columbia Gorge a bit before heading to my youngest brother's wedding in Easton, WA on Aug. 6th. What's our destination tomorrow? North and west, that's all we know! Or maybe right here still at our site at Mountain Home. See you again soon!

Here's a photo leftover from visiting Jerome...this guy has lots to say! I don't know about you, but having been a teenager in the sixties, I LOVE seeing the VW bus still running around. My daughter and I didn't stop to read all the bumper stickers but it's a flashback from the past! I'd love to see who's driving this thing.....

Monday, July 25, 2011

What? No Plans? No Itinerary?

Yep, you heard it straight from the horse's mouth--wait a minute, that was a couple of days ago on the trail ride! Ok, you heard it straight from Sparky's mouth. My brother Rich and his wife and daughter came over last night for the last time before we left and they asked, so, where are you guys headed? We just shook our heads and said we didn't know. We got up this morning, and I said to Eldy, do you know how far you want to go today? And he says, no, let's just get out of the heat, I'm ready to get out of here....I said, me, too! And you gotta have trust in your partner that this is going to be an adventure, because we don't know where the he** we are going today!

So we did something we haven't done in such a long time I can't remember...we set off with NO PLANS, NO KNOWN DESTINATION, except we decided we're heading north. We have decided to head back to Washington for my brother's wedding August 6th. We're going to do Flying J's, Walmarts, and a few other cheapies to save on the gas costs of heading 1300 miles back there to the Leavenworth area. I know, we're crazy, WE JUST CAME FROM THERE! but Charlie couldn't be at the family reunion. So we're heading back to Leavenworth. He's my baby brother, and I've just GOT to be at his wedding! And to take photos, of course! And make him and Kris a scrapbooked wedding album for their wedding present...(I get it, I get it...I knew you'd want to be there, says E.) He's such a sweetie....we are really stretching our budget to go back to Washington, but he knows how much this means to me to be able to go to the we are on the road again....

Here's the adventure part, besides  no plan, no known mileage for the day...we just thought we'd keep driving, and when the urge to stop and rest for the night strikes, we'll stop. There's just one problem with that...sometimes the parks can be full when you are stopping on the spur of the moment. Sparky wanted to stop in Page, Arizona to see the Antelope Canyons and take the Navajo tour (20.00 a person). The only decent parks in Page were FULL...We called while on the road....OK, we kept going...Next stop, Glen Canyon Dam...I've never seen a big dam before so when Eldy knew I was crushed at not being able to do Antelope Canyon, he stopped at the dam so I could get some cool photos of the dam and the Glen Canyon Recreation Area, knowing that that would push us arriving at who-knows-where later than who-knows-when!.. But that was a neat stop!    Onward, Eldo!

Next stop near Bryce...the city of Panguitch--campgrounds were full, even the KOA...and we were too big for them!  Onward, Eldo...How about Beaver, Utah! We were too big for the campgrounds in Beaver. At that point, Eldo said, "THE HECK WITH THEM!" Actually, he used stronger words, but I'm trying to clean up my act and watch the language in the blog. "WE'RE TRUCKIN' ON!" Eldo is a marathon driver when he's had a good night's sleep the night before!  So here we are, it's 8:30 tonight, we're still driving, but we're stopping in Scipio, UT at the Flying J.  I cooked dinner for Eldy tonight on the propane stove and made cheeseburgers while he kept driving...that was fun! What else made our adventure fun today and not stressful? The beautiful scenery, AND a photo opp I missed--a dad standing on the top of his RV at the side of the road while Junior traipsed across the highway to a big red rock boulder carrying a big blue, blowup alien doll. His dad was going to get the perfect vacation photo, I presume!  Too funny! We saw some beautiful scenery traveling leaving Sedona traveling through Utah on highway 89. We saw the Vermillion Cliffs, and some spectacular geological formations traveling at heights up to 7000 feet. Utah is a very beautiful state, even if you are just driving through it!
Vermillion Cliffs looking out the motorhome window
See you on the road tomorrow. I think today's long drive and adventure will be followed by a little more meticulous planning by Eldo for tomorrow. Unless he's up for another day full of surprises! Who knows where Eldo goes tomorrow? Not even Sparky knows!
another part of Utah
Time to say goodnite.......
At dusk, driving down highway 15

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Cast of Characters

Everybody's family reunion has lots of photos of people standing around, eating, laughing, doing stuff...I took some individual photos of my family in addition to the other types...I love closing in and trying to catch people when I think they are not looking!  Here's my big family...

There are a couple people missing, youngest daughter, Kerry...she was unable to come out to Arizona..she's working very hard at her schooling to become a teacher...We sure hope she will be able to come next time with her fiance. Here's a photo of my daughter, Kerry...Also, my brother, Bill and his wife, Linda and their family. They were not able to make it either. I don't have good recent photos of them to post...They were missed, too!

My goofy nephew
Here are a couple of "action" shots and a couple of my favorite ones from the last few days...
A young boy on our trail ride fell in love with his horse

My little cousin Katie, who I made a knitted doll for

Cowgirl Sparky
off the beaten path in Jerome
So there we are....heading our different ways's been a busy few days, but we have had a wonderful time catching up with everyone. We came together for a great "closing" dinner last night at a wonderful Italian restaurant called Cucina Rustica. It was wonderful to get everybody together for one final meal. We sat outside and laughed and talked till the skies got dark and the stars came out. It's always hard to say goodbye to family, especially when they are all spread out like we are---Washington state, Michigan, California, Massachusetts, and Indiana...We are very lucky that we were able to do this and have almost everyone come in. It's always sad to say goodbye, but we know we will plan another reunion a few years out from now...My mother, who's passed away, always felt that it was important that we get together as a family even when we are far apart. She made us promise we would do that after she was gone.. Love you Mom...We had a wonderful time!

Safe travels everyone!  Love, Jeannie and Eldy

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The GRAND Canyon

You can't stay in Sedona without a trip to the Grand Canyon. I've never been except to fly over it, ditto, Eldy, and Kelly has never seen it. Yesterday morning, we attempted to get four different families coordinated together as far as leaving, who's picking up whom, when are we going to eat lunch, what time...It all fell apart in a general good natured way, cell phones were inconsistent...We got confused about what part of what scenic drive who was going when, we just decided to come into the park and take the eastern rim drive.

What was amazing to us was there was NO TRAFFIC to speak of at the entrance to the park! We didn't have to wait in any lines to get through the gates, the pullouts had plenty of parking for us to stop and take in the majestic sights, and we were able to see everything we wanted to see and this was on a Friday during a top vacation month. Some of the family managed to squeak in at the El Tolivar Lodge for lunch right before the 2:00 lunch closing, (they open back up for dinner) but we had brought snacks thinking we weren't going to be able to get in for lunch, and so we headed down the eastern Desert View drive first. Here is a description link to the Desert View Drive.

Everybody knows that photos just don't quite capture the spectacular, breathtaking views...We got a kick out of my brother Rich's viewpoint--he's been there three or four times--"The canyon never fails to disappoint." He meant just the opposite! Speaking of my brother, Rich....He walked across the street against the light and a cop pulled right up along side him and gave him a warning. "You don't want to be doing that in this town. There are some crazy people living here!" Speaking of crazy people, we did hear of the New Age followers of somebody, who came to town in 2007(?), and camped out on Bell Rock in town for two days, wearing the white togas garb. They were there to be "saved" by a spaceship coming to "deliver" them...They weren't very prepared, they had no food or water. When the spaceship didn't show up after two days, they gave up. Their leader told them the spaceship couldn't find them because the town was too dark! Sedona has a low light policy at night and the town IS really dark, so you can see the stars. At any rate, they are supposed to return in 2012 with flashlights. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Grand Canyon? What can I say? If you haven't seen it, it's one of the most magnificent views you'll ever get to see in the United States. Judging from the number of foreign languages spoken at the rim viewpoints, more people come from other countries to see this grand place than Americans do! I had no idea so many foreigners come over in the summer months to see our terrific landmarks.
We LOVED the Watchtower....360 degrees views of the canyon all the way around...amazing! We climbed the 85 steps to the top and took some great photos..The Watchtower is a replica of a prehistoric Indian tower. It's at the eastern end of the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon. It looks like an Anasazi tower which it is meant to replicate. It was designed by Mary Coulter. How she designed the structure with its varying texture is an interesting Google search or if you'd like to know more about it, here's a link to the Watchtower. There are trapezoid glass windows that you can look out of as you climb to the tower's observation point. The stair rails are wrapped in rawhide, and there are replica Indian paintings all around the ceiling and walls. The main ones were painted by a Hopi artist, Fred Kabotie. A unique gift shop is on the ground floor and it was wonderful! The multiple levels, the circular staircase, all the murals and petroglyphs really add to a mystical cave like atmosphere. It was VERY cool!

We had fun stopping at each viewpoint and trying to decide which view topped the last one. Kelly and Eldy and I really enjoyed ourselves today. If you haven't gotten to see the Grand Canyon, it needs to go on your bucket list of things to do...and if you have, hope we didn't bore you with the views today! I'm sure everybody's canyon shots look very similar unless you have a) National Geographic photography skill knowledge, b) a fantastic camera with a fantastic lens, c) a super duper photo editing program or all three!

The family's last day is tomorrow for everybody....It will be sad to say goodbye but it's time for everyone to hit the road, including us! We hit the road on Monday for destinations unknown...Actually, we know where Eldo is'll see...It's kind of a surprise! Tomorrow I'll post some of my favorite family photos just so you know they really WERE here!

Happy Trails to You!

While 3/4 of the family went off on pink jeep tour, which was "great", (the family didn't provide too many details) the remainder (Eldy, Sparky and Kelly) went to a cowboy trail ride and cookout at the M Diamond Ranch, a working ranch that provides the "cowboy experience"/trail ride/singalong/cookout at a reasonable price. It was 129.00 a person for the transportation out to the ranch, the trail ride, wagon ride and fantastic steak dinner cookout with dessert.

We got picked up at our RV park in a van, rode about 20 miles out to the ranch, and saddled up. they ask you what your riding experience is, then they match that with a horse's personality.  My experience is practically nada, sole riding experience was at age 13, and they gave me a horse that was supposed to be as tame and calm and obedient as could be. All I remember was I was scared, and the horse knew it, so he kept going wherever he wanted to, was uncooperative despite my best kicks and pulls on the reins. And the people at THAT ranch kept saying, "I don't know WHY Mickie is not cooperating today, he's never acted like that before!" So I wasn't really sure I was going to enjoy this. Eldy had his own troubles. He has very limited flexibility in his hips, so he wasn't sure he was going to be able to swing his leg over the saddle. And--he almost didn't. There were steps for people who had these very same kind of problems. Eldy went up the steps and as he tried to swing his leg over the saddle, he pulled on the pommel(?) saddlehorn? and almost slid the blanket under the saddle sideways. I looked to see the ranch hand, saying quite firmly, "Now you don't want to do that, you're going to pull the saddle right off. DON'T DO THAT!" But he finally got on...whew! Kelly got up ok, I got up OK....and Eldy kept saying several times on the trail, "I need a smaller horse!" His legs were being stretched beyond normal usage. To add insult to injury, his horse, Patti, was on her own timetable! Eldy was bringing up the rear, wa-a-a-a-y in the back. They told us they often see rattlesnakes on the trails, but Sparky didn't see one, and Eldo and Kelly didn't want to see one.
Lonesome Eldo
After the hour trail ride, we rode up a hill on a hay wagon to the staging area for the steak dinner cookout. Each person got a 16 ounce mouth watering steak, baked beans, homemade coleslaw, rolls, and   apple cobbler with ice cream for dessert. While we were eating, we were serenaded by a great cowboy, Alvie Self, who had a very mellow singing voice. He accommodated our requests and did a wonderful job.

We practiced our roping skills and got some tips from a young cowboy....that was fun! I roped myself a couple of times which had Eldy laughing his sox off, but then I started to get the hang of it. Kelly enjoyed practicing her skills, too! We had a wonderful relaxing time...great food and the gal who drove us out there (I'm sorry, I don't remember her name) gave us a taste of some of her homemade prickly pear cactus mead honey wine...wonderful!

The cook did a great job of cooking our Black Angus steaks. I asked for mine to be extra rare, and that met the approval of the cowboys I got it extra rare!

It was a perfect ending to a great day...sit outside, listen to a cowboy sing classic old country songs, have a nice meal cooked by someone else, (lol) watch the sunset over the mountains and kick back....