Monday, April 24, 2017

Racing Regattas and Rain

When we climb aboard the PW, there usually are no hard plans.  This time, when we left home at 9:00 am on Thursday, April 20th, we were headed to the J Percy Priest campground just east of Nashville.  We like the National Park campgrounds because our Senior Passport allows us to only pay half the cost of a camping spot.  We are always trying to find the best stopping spots for our trips to North Carolina to see our family.  This stop is close to I40 and, at 9 to 10 hours, a good first half.  Our spot was quiet which allowed us a good night’s sleep.

As it turns out, it was good we had this stop because the second half of our trip to High Point North Carolina to see Aaron and Adam row in the NC State meet was mostly rainy and filled with slowdowns associated with accidents and construction.  When we left Friday morning, the GPS said we would arrive at the regatta lake at 5:30pm.  In reality it was 8:00. 

The campground near the regatta  was full due to our late arrival.  The gate to the regatta site was locked so no chance to park near there.  Plan C WalMart nearly always works.  We slept fine and arrived at the Regatta site in a timely manner.  Thankfully, the rain stayed at bay but not the wind.  Finally, due to the choppy lake, they cut the regatta rowing lengths short. 

Here is a picture of Aaron in his boat that shows what the boys were dealing with.


The boys did great in their race.  I will upload more pictures of the High Point Regatta along with the Dogwood Regatta this coming weekend at Oak Ridge Tennessee as a slide show later. 

After the regatta we drove an hour up to  Virginia to ride the New River Rail to Trail.  That was after eating at the Foothills Brewpub in Winston Salam NC.  Foothills is a rated as a top brewery in the area.  Food was delicious too.  The drive to Virginia was wet—a hint of things to come.  More about that next time.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park

Our favorite scenic drive into the Phoenix area follows  Hwy 60 to Show Low then on to Globe.  The scenery along this route is amazing.  At the bottom of the descent off the “rim” and just before arriving in all the suburbs of the Phoenix area is the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park.

The land was set aside for the park in the 1920s by Col. Boyce Thompson.  He was a wealthy mining magnate who used his great wealth to “…improve the use of plant resources.”  The 323 acre Arboretum is the oldest in the state of Arizona.


We spent around three hours at the park and could find even more to look at on a return visit.  Below are pictures that I hope tell a small part about our visit.  I was not good about identifying plants as I took pictures so I have tried to do that after the fact.   If anyone viewing the slideshow notes that I have made a mistake, please let me know in the comments.  . Click here or on the picture then on the “play button” on the upper right hand of the picture.  If you want to pause the pictures, click in the lower left hand corner


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Riparian Perserve at Water Ranch and Eastern Canal Trail

There are no rails to trails here in the Mesa/Apache Junction area—really none in the entire Phoenix area.  However, there are very well groomed bike trails along the numerous canals that bring the precious water into the region.  Our favorite is the Eastern Canal Bike Trail that can be accessed from the Riparian Perserve at Water Ranch in Gilbert AZ, only about 15 minutes from where we are staying. 

We have visited the Water Ranch before and I wrote about it here.   There is also another blogger calling herself the Dragonfly Woman who also visited and wrote an interesting article about it here.  Here is a screen shot of how the Ranch looks on a map. 


The lines between the water are bike and walking trails.  Not all the ponds are full at the same time.  All the water is reclaimed except the water in the fishing pond, which is filled with fresh, clean water pumped up from the natural resevoir below the other ponds.  It is an interesting concept.

To the right of the picture is the Eastern Canal trail.  We rode ten miles total with probably eight on the canal trail.  We took our time and enjoyed the beautiful day.

Here are three birds of interest spotted on various ponds. 






Wilson Snipe

This place fascinates us because it seems so out  of place in this urban desert setting.  There are always lots of  things to watch including birders with sophisticated listening devices and cameras along with young mothers with children in tow watching for the numerous bunnies.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sedona: Chapel of the Holy Cross and Verde Canyon Railroad


Click here or on the picture  for a slideshow  of our visit to the Sedona area.

Sedona is about a three hour drive from our location in Apache Junction so we were up and on the road by 8:30.  There is only one road north and it was busy on Sunday, March 26, 2017. 

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is located just outside of Sedona.  The red rock formations are beautiful which is why local rancher and sculptor Marguerite Brunswig Staude decided to build the Chapel in Sedona when, due to WWII, she was unable to build it in Budapest Hungary. 

Staude was inspired to build the Chapel by the 1932 newly constructed Empire State Building.  She was helped in her project at different times  by Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright and Senator Barry Goldwater who helped her get permission to build on government held ground. 

It is written that Staude flew over the area and the spot where it is constructed just come to her as the place  the chapel should be built.  There are  stones in the background of the pictures in the slideshow that some think look like the three wise men or perhaps nuns kneeling.

I’ll just say at the beginning that, for me,  the Verde Canyon Railroad excursion is well worth the time (four hours) and money.  The cost approaches $90 a piece for 1st class, which included a light meal.  Drinks were offered and were not overpriced.  As you will see from the pictures, there is an outdoor car as well as comfortable indoor seating. 

The railroad began as a way to get the rich copper discovered in Jerome Arizona out to the rest of the world.   At first the ore was carried out by wagon load over the rugged terrain.  Over the years rail transportation came into the area which enabled the copper to be transported more readily and made the area even more profitable  After several owners and an up and down copper market,  Mr. John Bell eventually purchased the line.  When he rode the first time, he felt the beautiful scenery should be shared and eventually it became the popular tourist attraction of today. 

As a side note, as the train leaves the station at Clarksville, it passes through the old slag dump.  Slag is part of the wast material from the copper smelter built to service the Jerome mine.  It is now a hard mass that covers 40 acres and is 40 feet deep.  A company has purchased this slag mass for millions and we were told the gold and other precious minerals that will eventually be removed will be worth billions.

The entire train excursion is exciting for its scenery along the Verde River and also for the history which is shared by the help aboard the train.  When we arrived at Perkinsville, the engine is unhitched from the front and moved to the caboose end.  During this 20 minute change, we learned even more history of the area including the fact that scenes from the movie “How the West Was Won” was filmed  at Perkinsville. Our day was filled with  western history and gorgeous sights.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Petrified Forest National Park & Happy Hours

Gallup NM to our destination in Mesa Arizona looked to be a short five or so hour trip.  With only a little encouragement to check a couple geocaches in the Petrified Forest National Park, Dan exited I40.  Then, we decided to drive the road through the park and connect with an alternate route southwest.  It was a good decision.  Even though we had visited the park before, we hadn’t taken the time to drive the 24 mile loop. 

First a visit here


There are temptations at every turn at this visitors center.  Jewelry, pottery, and everything else petrified or otherwise.  The one thing I am now very excited about are the new tokens available from National Parks, Monuments and Memorials.  There are little rectangle metal tokens costing only $1.  The Token Album costs $6 but still affordable and only a one-time purchase, little inexpensive collectables alleviating the temtation to buy National Park bling.

Just to say upfront, we found two geocaches and left two travel bugs.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you probably could care less about geocachingWinking smile

Our first stop on the loop were several pullouts for the Painted Desert.  I took pictures but it is only truly appreciated by just taking it in visually.  It is beautiful in its own rugged way for sure.  We stopped by the Painted Desert Inn.  It is an adobe National Landmark hotel now turned museum.


The Newspaper Rock stop was historically informative by happening to be there the same time as two elders like us who knew a whole lot more about the 650 petroglyphs (some over 2,000 years old) then we could ever hope to have learned by just reading the signs.  Notice the obvious man and woman!


The other side of the rock was equally covered.


From there we moved on to the petrified wood “forest”


We wanted to get to Kay & Lynn’s for Happy Hour, so we moved on.  Next time I will hike to the Agate House Trail—a two mile round trip to a seven-room pueblo of petrified wood.

The trip through the canyons and peaks south from Show Low to Globe and on to Apache Junction/Mesa is breathtaking.  Not the fastest route but definitely beautiful. 


Yes, we did make it and we were happy for more than just an hour because Lynn had some Cerveza Modelo Especial—a Mexican beer that is very much to our liking. 

As just a side note to this Tuesday March 21st post that I am writing on Wednesday, March 22, we are staying in Lynn & Kay’s park model in Roadhaven Resort in Apache Junction.  They used to live here before moving to a home in Mesa.  They now rent it for the winter.  We are here because their renters decided to go home early.  Lucky us--we have lots of room, air conditioning (temps are in the 90s) and access to a swimming pool, etc.  This is not our usual off-the-grid experience at Lost Dutchman State park, but we are liking it—liking it a lot!

Monday, March 20, 2017

South by Southwest

We said goodbye to most of the family last night because they are up and out of the house before we even open our eyes.  Coffee, Drue’s french toast and out the door by 8:30 am is good for us.

Our destination is Apache Junction AZ.  We decided to cut cross country because, why not… Our first stop was Canon City CO to check out the Bristol Brewing Company.  Unfortunately it was closed but it is a testiment to repurposing old schools. The kids say there is also good beer being made in that school house.


Next it is on to Salida to eat at Amicus restaurant.  We have heard so much about this brewery/restaurant so decided to stop by.  I called in our pizza order because we didn’t have a lot of time.  It was definitely delicious—especially the inhouse crust.  Was sorry we didn’t try the salad and calzones because they are supposed to be superior as well.

As we menandered south we could not escape going through Wolf Creek Pass.  Snow melt is beginning which made the Treasure Falls beautiful.  We didn’t hike up because the path was snow covered but it looked fun.


Shiprock is a small town in New Mexico and it gets its name honestly. 


Since we went right through Pagosa Springs, we stopped by one of Doug’s current projects—an addition on to the hospital. P1000261-1

We usually are roadtripping in the PW, but this time we are moteling it.  That means we have slipped a couple extra into our room here on old highway 66 in Gallup NM—here are two


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Colorado, Basketball and Sunshine

Another beautiful day.  There is some adjustment to dry air, but the weather is almost perfect in Colorado on days like today. I think the high was in the 70s.

 We watched a little basketball again today including Kansas University who we were all cheering for but especially Drue.  We are glad to see Baylor win.  I am sure it upset a lot of brackets, but we were glad to see Frank Martin on the sideline again and then pull off the upset.

Carly and I went to the best Goodwill ever near Monument.  We found some stuff!

These are pictures I took the past few days.  The first is of Carly's Guinea Pigs.  Notice the dogs in the background at the door.  These little animals are about all the dogs can take.

We took a quick run out to Fox Run to let the dogs run and find a couple geocaches.


Carly and her clarinet jointed two flute players for a music competition today.  They received a 1 rating.  We were proud of them.because they are just 6th graders and there were very talented seniors in high school right before.

The competition was at Cheyenne Mountain High School.  Since we were in the area, we stopped by a local brewery named Cerberus.  Not sure how they came up with the name but it means three-headed dog that guarded the gates to the underworld!  The chef used to work at the Broadmoor Hotel so the food was awesome as was the beer.

We managed to watch a couple NCAA games--sadly Iowa State lost to Purdue after a fantastic comeback.  Doug and I got into a little game by taking a drink each time the name Swanigan was said.  He is the Big Ten player of the year and the announcers couldn't say his name enough.  We had to quit because I think a person could have gone through a six pack.

Drue and I found time to do a little geocaching over at Palmer Lake.  We found three thanks to Drue's sharp eye. Yes, it was on that light pole.

Monday, March 06, 2017


Our kids always like to say we "made" them pick up rocks.  It is true, they did pick up rocks, as did our grandkids.  The reason is each year the neighbor who farms our small acreage goes through with his implement and rolls out more rocks.  Maybe the new machinery is built to farm over the rocks, but we feel it is good stewardship of the crop land to keep working to clear it.  

Thank goodness we don't have to cover the entire field, it is just the part that drops off to the south where the rock ridge begins to surface.  This is the second week we've been working on the project.  We don't exactly tear it up out there--four loads of our little trailer a day.  Today we dug up some big ones.

 A big storm came through this evening, but mostly north of us.  There were wildfires west of Topeka as well.  The Wildlife & Parks have done a lot of burning in the valley, but they are ultri careful. Dan has been wanting to do some burning, but its very dry in addition to the wind.  It's early so we will wait.  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Hiking in the Valley

These early warm days of winter when ticks are hiding are perfect times to hike around in the valley behind our house. 

Valentines Day was a little cooler than some we’ve had lately and a light coat felt good.  We started at a point that we look at daily from our window.  It seemed odd to look back.


First, down over the valley ridge to the well.  We always check it out when we are hiking in the area.   It is a mystery why this old well has been left open like this.  When the farmsteads were being dismantled for the lake, it was a big deal that all wells be sealed. 


Then we headed cross the floor of the valley and back up the ridge to the old farmstead.  The trees are taking over and it’s getting harder to figure out just where the house was located.


There is the hint of a foundation for a pole shed with a small pen where Dan is standing.  In 1978 when the dam had just been closed and this upper flood easement land was not regulated, we would ride horses down around and through this area.  I think I’ve written before about how, in this corral area,  k pot weeds were higher than we were on top of our horses.  Times have changed—no pot, unless you find an old cooking pot in a dump and no horses, atvs or vehicles allowed off road in this Wildlife & Parks land.  Probably just as well.

We circled around back to our starting place, passing two hunter’s lawn chairs, one with a big hole shot through the back (yikes). 

This is always an interesting walk because there are  ghosts of time past.  We also feel that even though this is public land, there are few that make their way through here.  I think that is why those lawn chairs seemed  out-of-place and a bit unsettling. 

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Birthday Spiraling Away

I have always liked birthdays.  It is an excuse for a party—always a good idea.  But I have to admit I am somewhat embarrassed about celebrating mine when I am not in charge.  (That probably says a lot about me).  Anyway, February 4th was actually quiet.  Dan and I were invited to Paul and Janice’s for supper.  A perfect celebration.  But, the next day I got too much attention at church and then several friends wanted to go out to Texas Roadhouse for lunch.  I  think I would have refused had I known they were going to make me sit on a saddle and then bring a whole bunch of staff to sing a loud and rollicking song.  I can guarantee there are no pictures of that going on this blog.

I did get a Spiralizer for my birthday though.  Here’s the picture on the box…


These little gadgets are really fun.

I can’t wait to do a potato like is in the bottom right corner and put it on the grill with a little oil and seasonings on it.  Kind of like a grilled potato chip on a skewer.

Here is what I did today.  I spiralized with that left hand blade one big russet potato, one big sweet potato and one big carrot.  Then I threw them in a pan with olive oil, seasonings and enough basil flavored vinegar from our neighbors who make their own to provide enough liquid to steam the whole thing.  I didn’t cook it until it was all mush but still done.  Dan said it was like eating candy.  It was good.  I have a zucchini, and yellow squash in the frig so am going to try making a vegetable soup we enjoy with spirals tomorrow.  

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Thin Wall

It hardly seemed like winter today with upper sixty degree temperatures.  It makes me almost miss my days on the rural mail route when driving around with the window down was almost perfect.  The customers would be out for a little visit and the wildlife as well. 

We had a warm day like this last week.  Dan and I took that opportunity to replace our sliding door in the living room with a double french door.  We were way overdue to get this done.

When we removed the old door, this is what it looked like:


Something about seeing this big hole in the wall made me think how close we actually live to the outside.  Just the width of a wall.  It doesn’t seem like much compared with a log or stone wall.  Definitely modern insulation and air tight construction helps to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures year around. 

Our house should be air tight now.  We actually had an expert on that sort of thing check the house several years ago.  We had small drafts around several electrical plugins and light switches which we worked on.  And he told us then the sliding door needed to be replaced. 

Sometimes when we try to light a fire in our downstairs stove, we have to open the exterior basement door a crack to get a good draft.  I can hardly imagine the draft that flowed through the old log cabins with those huge fireplaces.  At least those old drafty houses had fresh air.  These warm days, I’m opening up the house to let some of the fresh air in.  But sure am glad we can keep it out when the cold air blows.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Eagles etc

We were up at the church to help with the monthly Harvesters distribution this week.  It was a blustery day Thursday but we loaded potatoes, carrots, blueberries and several ready made meal kits into cars for nearly 100 families.  The November and December distribution families were down.  Maybe food was available in other places.  We jumped back in full force this month.  (Just as a side note about the food we receive for distribution from Harvesters.  I know there are sources for this food that I don’t know about, but I do know that a lot is donated by WalMart.)  

We were only a mile from home when I received a text from our neighbor Brenna telling us there were Eagles in a field nearby.  We immediately flipped a U-turn and headed back.  Turns out it was an Eagle family working on something dead, possibly a dead coyote.



We know of a huge Eagle nest over by Clinton Lake but don’t know if this family calls it home.  It is always a treat to catch a glimpse of these majestic birds.

A little later in the day, I walk into the bedroom to see a possum helping itself to some of Dan’s treats out by the windbreak. These lowly, relatively ugly animals don’t have the reputation of Eagles, but just as equally share our neighborhood.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Landscaping Phase 4

Bet many thought I was just dreaming about doing a little something more to the front of the house.  Rightfully so, because we are not ones to change what we like in decorating—think orange countertop that is obvious in so many of my pictures.

However, just in passing, Kim saw something on Fixer-Upper that she thought would look good on our house.  In fact, it almost had to be a pause in the program to really take note of the detail.

I’m talking about shutters on the front of the house.  Like I said earlier, we’ve always thought the landscaping was enough to finish the front “look.”  However, our kids are usually right on their assessment and the consensus was that we needed more.

Dan is always able to come up with the solution.  So, here are our shutters made with fence panels with simple crosspieces.  The color was our choice.  We like that it isn’t too much contrast but yet looks good with the color of paint on siding and roof shingles. 



Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Turkey catchup

I did not fix a turkey the entire Holiday season.  Our North Carolina kids fixed turkey for  Thanksgiving.  It was delicious and I thankfully let them take care of that part of the meal.   By the time the Colorado kids got here on New Years Eve day, turkey was not on any of my meal planning lists.

We were in Topeka the other day and I needed to stop in for a few groceries.  The Walmart near 29th and California is an easy store to run in for a few things.  (I seem to spend way too much time looking for items in the Dillon’s store nearby).  I walked by the meat counter and this caught my eye.


Here we have a nearly 15 pound turkey for $7.44—50 cents per pound.  A Grade A hen turkey at that.  Notice also the “Best If Used By” at 6-08-18.  Amazing good deal!

If I had a growing family, I think I would have had a couple of these in my cart.  Probably should have anyway—June of 2018 is a long way off.  I’m sure our neighbor would have his smoking wagon fired up at some point and we could throw one in.

  As it is, we  have some friends coming for a meal this weekend.  So, turkey it is. 

Friday, January 13, 2017

Flowers in the Winter

I took these pictures last week when there was snow on the ground.  Since that time, we’ve had a 70 degree day.  Now, by this time tomorrow night we are forecast to have ice.  So, we are thankful for the flowers in our home right now:


Poinsettia flowers are at the center of the leaves—but then everyone knows that. 


I brought the geraniums in this fall.  As long as they get lots of sun, they continue to bloom. 


I have two violets that are so happy where they are located that they continually show us these beautiful flowers.  I started two by sticking leaves in a pot and gave them away at Christmas.  I think it is time to do that again.


I bought this Amaryllis after it was marked down.  So, it did not bloom for Christmas.  What a joy it has been to watch it grow.


There are several other flowers on my Lemon tree, but this lemon is much more interesting.  Right now there are three lemons.  I probably should pick all the other blooms off so this small plant can make my lemons!



The Christmas cactus has been blooming since mid November.  It too just loves where it is sitting and if I continue to put water on it, I think it will bloom all winter.


I was going to “let this Peace Lily go” last fall.  It had gotten so big.  However, I brought it in and cut the leaves all.  It is sitting here in my office in front of a north window.  Three months later and here you go.  It wants to stay with us!

Any other year, we would have a Yucca bloom by now.  However, my huge Yucca plant took a dive last summer.  It fell out of the pot and was just too unwieldy to replant.  I’ve got another nice plant going, but it won’t bloom for a while.  I still think the whole Yucca plant “falling” out of its pot was some kind of conspiracy between Dan and the kids.  They all said it was ugly.  Don’t believe them—it had beautiful curves.

So, that is our mid winter blooms.  They make us happy!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Happy Couple

One thing that can be counted on is that a wedding will be a happy occasion.  And, it held true for Cameron and Alexa.

The ceremony was in the Church of the Resurrection, downtown.  It looks to be an old movie theater, but the pastor mentioned in his sermon that it was a bar.  At any rate, I don’t know when I’ve been to a wedding ceremony where the pastor took as much care in the bride and groom. The highlight was the reading of the letters the couple wrote to each other. 

This picture was taken in the church.   The children are cousins.  Notice the musicians in the background.  This was taken before the wedding started.  We didn’t take any during the service.


The reception was on the third floor of the Bauer at the Crossroads in downtown Kansas City Missouri.  It is a historic warehouse turned art studios and event space.  Janice’s decorations were the perfect combination of rustic/classy for the space.  There were lanterns, candles and greenery added as well.


Instead of a cake, there was this wonderful assortment of yumminess.



I guess this must the way a brother and sister dance!



Alexa Wedding

Friday, January 06, 2017

Welcome Visitors!


This year we celebrated Christmas quietly, but the New Years brought our Colorado family.  Needless to say, we always enjoy having them—and all of our family—here.  Thankfully, the temperature cooperated for a couple days so there could be ATV rides and other outdoor activities. 

Then snow and cold temperatures arrived so that called for a taffy pull (it turned out delicious—I’ll post the recipe later)



We are probably in trouble with this picture.  At the time it was taken, their family was visiting other grandparents.   Just as it is with grandkids, grandparents spoil the pets too.  We did “encourage” them to get off the furniture after this picture was taken.  They slept in the warm livingroom all night.  As far as we know, it was on their pillows….