Friday, March 30, 2012

Home, Spring and new beginnings!

"Road Trip 2012" is in the books.  We arrived in Oakdale Thursday evening, in the midst of a good ol' fashioned rainstorm.  This year's stats: 5,532 miles, 8 states, 36 days. Once again we enjoyed great weather, good driving conditions and some of this country's most spectacular scenery.

We've been  home for a week already - I don't know where the time as gone.  I will share some of the last pictures from the trip. We drove to Albuquerque to visit our good friends Peg and Dave. Only one night, but with good friends it's a treat anyway.  The next morning we headed up through Colorado and Nebraska. On Thursday we sawsome of the hundreds of thousands of Sandhill Cranes that migrate through Nebraska and stopped for a few pictures :-)

Since we've been home, we've had a chance to spend time with the kids and grandkids and just got back from the cabin.   Most of you know that we are building a new cabin on the site of our old one.  Things are moving along quickly and we will have a spectacular summer up there!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Dallying in the Desert

dal·ly/ˈdalē/ - To act or move slowly

 Today is Monday, March 19.  We have been traveling for 33 days and put 3660 miles on our car so far.  It's about time to head back to Minnesota - we have had a fabulous trip.  

Over the past week we've hiked, lounged in the pool, participated in several happy hours, went to a wedding in Yuma and took a quick side trip into Mexico!

The cacti are just beginning to bloom, in another week it should be spectacular here in the desert.  I'll try to get a few more images today.
A couple more "travel observations":*Meeting new people is such a treat! I'll never get tired of it. And it's so interesting to see where paths have crossed. Last fall we made are first trip through Astoria, OR - at the wedding we sat with a couple who live there.  Pete's nephew is married to a young woman who worked at Metro Deaf School when I was working in NSP - we attended at least a few conferences together!

*We sometimes complain about the newscasters in MN, but oh my! We talked about this in San Diego with Dan and Mickey too - after a reporter started his story about a robbery hiding in the trees behind a house.  I thought Phoenix would have been a bigger market and better writers, not so much.  The other day they reported an accident victim was "taken to the hospital in pretty bad shape."  And that a particular councilman (or something) had "lawyered up" and was no longer talking to the media.  Really??  I miss Frank and Amelia!!

Today is laundry, repacking the truck and trying to figure out how the heck to get to Albuquerque to see Peg and Dave and maybe one more happy  hour!!
There is a foot or 18" of snow up by Flagstaff, they are predicting more snow and rain and part of the freeway is closed already.  That route would also mean driving thru Phoenix rush hour.  We could cut through the mountains by Payson, but that means two lane "scenic" roads through the mountains.  Looks like we may opt for the extra 100 miles and head down to Tucson and Las Cruces....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

Wednesday, March 14
Today is my Mom's birthday! When I grow up I hope to be as beautiful, active and talented as she is, you're my hero, Mom. The Feine's are visiting Harlingen this week, so in addition to the bike ride, quilt meeting, an extended and active swim time, and visiting friends (i.e. showing off the grandkids) in the park, there are probably some birthday activites planned as well? South Padre and lunch at Dirty Al's perhaps? Enjoy a wonderful day, whatever you do!! Love you Mom!!
Our pace here in Casa Grande has slowed down a bit. The weather has been great, in the 80s most days, altho it cools off at night considerably. I think it was 43 degrees when I got up this morning. We've done a bit of shopping, at the Mesa Market and the outlet center. The Mesa Market is a covered flea market with something like 1600 vendors. It has 4 aisles that total a mile and a half. We generally get a good walk in each day. I need to bring my camera one of these days. The desert critters are all over the place, lizards and quail and birds galore. But they are all kind of skittish.
We spent a nice afternoon with Aunt Kathy and Uncle Ron in Surprise, northwest of Phoenix. Kathy makes the best gin and tonics! That night Bob, Lowell and I stayed with Bob's niece Kathy in New River and yesterday the boys went prospecting and I drove back down to CG and went shopping with Jean. The shopping was more successful than the prospecting. When you shop down here, many stores give you a discount for being old! Just another perk.
This weekend we'll head down to Yuma for Pete and Ed's wedding celebration and are looking forward to that.  The desert is just beginning to bloom - I am hoping that another week will give me the opportunity to get some good blooming cacti images. 

We'll head to Albuequerque next week, probably on Tuesday, spend some time with Peg and Dave, and then head home.  We are missing the grandkids (and the cabin activity!) and it sure sounds like spring has arrived in MN!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

From Apple Pie to the Zoo and everything in between!

It's been a week since I've posted and we have been busy every day so this time you'll get a lengthy slideshow and some random thoughts while exploring all that the San Diego area has to offer.
In between all of our sightseeing, we compared iPad apps with Dan and Mickey and did some Facetime and Skyping with our grandkids, kids and Mom and Dad.  Technology is an amazing thing!!
One of the apps Dan shared is called "1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die" in addition to some amazing photography, it was fun to see many places we've actually visited.  One of the places listed is the San Diego Zoo -- what a fabulous zoo!  We spent the day checking things out. It is a pretty traditional zoo, but they have some very unique animals - the oryx and okapi, for instance!  Two new words for "Words with Friends!"  Next time we'll do the Wild Animal Park, which is more like the Minnesota Zoo.
San Diego has a fascinating early history - we toured Old Town, the site of the first settlement, and the Gaslamp district, which was notorious for entertaining sailors back in the day.  This was kind of a story telling walk - I've included pictures of many of the buildings, the architecture is so cool!  Check out the Yuma Building.  The story goes that it was a thriving brothel, and was the target of the first raid when the city decided to get tough on that industry. This is what the Frommer's guide has to say, "The striking edifice was built in 1888 and was one of the first brick buildings downtown. The brothel at the Yuma was the first to be closed during the infamous 1912 cleanup of the area. In the end, 138 women (and no men) were arrested. They were given a choice: Join the Door of Hope charity and reform or take a one-way train ride to Los Angeles. One hundred thirty-six went to L.A. (many were back within days), one woman was pronounced insane, and the last became San Diego's first telephone operator."
On a beautiful Saturday morning, the hills east of Poway provided some geocaching and the route to the little town of Julian - where we had the most delicious pie!! The Twin Peaks trails took us through some great ($$$$) neighborhoods in the Poway hills and gave us enough of a workout to justify all the great food we have been eating. 
We also took this opportunity to reconnect with Lowell's cousin Jimmy, who has been out here in the Escondido for 40 years!  We had dinner with Jimmy and his wife Linda, it was so much fun to catch up and reminisce!!   We really do need to stay in touch.
Sunday (3/4) was our last day in San Diego - and the weather couldn't have been better!!  A trip to Cabrillo National Monument on Point Lomas provided spectacular views of the city. Dan and Mickey said it was one of the clearest days they had seen from that viewpoint.  We did a bit of tide pool exploring and had a picnic on the beach to complete the day.
When we arrived, Mickey showed of a list of Things to Do  - this is the list and what we did in our 12 days here:

San Diego - walking tours of different areas, each with it's own history and architecture 
Old Town - original settlement
Gaslamp Quarter - late 1800’s to early 1900’s
Balboa Park - late 1800’s to present
The Embarcadero - the waterfront
Hotel Del Coronado and Coronado Island
Drive the coast, see all the beach towns, stop in La Jolla 
Birch Aquarium
Hiking through Torrey Pines State Park and along the coast
Cabrillo National Monument - Point Loma, 
Explore the tide pools on Point Loma
Mount Soledad
Torrey Pines Gliderport -  watch hanggliders &  paragliders jump off the cliffs and fly over the ocean
Seaport Village - shops & restaurants, good souvenir shopping
Leo Carrillo Ranch - a 1930’s ranch get-a-way for a Hollywood actor
Visiting vineyards with wine tasting
San Diego Zoo 
San Diego de Alcala - 1st Mission of California
The Midway (tour a decommissioned aircraft carrier in the harbor) 
These are the things we DIDN'T do (this time!)
Maritime Museum (tour 7 ships)
Sea World
Wild Animal Park
Whale watching
Harbor tour

Yesterday (Monday 3/5) we drove from San Diego to Casa Grande with a quick stop at Pete and Ed's place in Yuma for a salmon salad lunch (they were our hosts on the Kenai in Alaska last summer).  We arrived and got settled into our little park model here is Casa Grande.  This little spot is a 12' x 40' mobile, with a little living room, kitchen, bath, one bedroom and a nice little deck.  It will be comfy for a couple of weeks!

Grab a cup of coffee or glass of wine and enjoy a loooong slide show this time!
(if you are looking at this on an iPad, you won't see the slideshow, sorry!  I need to find a different website to post to get the slideshow and just haven't gotten that figured out yet! Sorry)