Friday, February 28, 2014


It sure is tough to write this blog after the trip! We arrived safe and sound back in Oakdale on Monday afternoon (2/24). Yes, there is a LOT of snow. Yes, it is very cold and windy. Yes, we are happy to be home! No new baby - yet.

I really wish I had more than a passing knowledge of geology. Driving through northern Arizona, Utah and Colorado is just amazing.  There are new rocks to look at around every bend in the road!

Our first stop after leaving Buckeye and the Phoenix area was the kitschy little town of Jerome, AZ. It was a wild mining town in the 1800's - Jerome AZ.
Today it is a small town artist colony, with great old buildings in various states of renovation - and some great stories preserved on plaques throughout the town. 
Most of the shops were not open yet - we drove in about 8:30 AM.  We took a walk and did some Nellie Bly.    The entire store is kaleidoscopes!!  Big kaleidoscopes, little kaleidoscopes, cheap kaleidoscopes, very expensive kaleidoscopes!  And it was open, so we spent some time looking through (and touching) some beautiful $9000 toys!! 
window shopping. Our favorite shop was 
Next we headed up the hill to the Gold King Mine Ghost Town.  Talk about lots of STUFF -- It was crazy!! Of course there was a gift shop and a spot to "pan for gold", but there was also a woodshop where they use plane large trees  into table tops and counter tops, etc.  GORGEOUS wood! And I can't remember the name of the tree.... It grows in the mountains of Arizona and part of New Mexico.
Jerome Gold King Mine and Ghost Town -
(*for some unknown reason the Sedona slideshow is here twice - #1 an #3)

Sedona - a beautiful but somewhat expensive tourist town.  We spent the afternoon walking and driving to some of the great viewpoints.

Next on the map is the border between Arizona and Utah. And  Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park - Navajo Parks & Recreation
I'm guessing we should have driven into the valley for some additional spectacular-ness, but even driving by on the highway was pretty amazing.  Utah is just such a different topography!  The variety of formations and rock types is just so different, and then the mountains by Salt Lake are another world!  I would love to spend more time there.  By now however, we've been gone for almost 6 weeks and "home" is in sight! So we we ended the day in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
The next day, Sunday, we drove through Vail and Denver and all the way to Lincoln, Nebraska. I was worried about driving through the mountains in February, but it wasn't awful - until we got to Denver! Pea soup fog all the way through the city! Yuk.  Then the snow started and the highway from just east of Fort Morgan, CO to just west of Ogallala, NE was brutal.  It was snowing and blowing and there were no plows in sight, so the roads were covered with snow and slush and then we had some freezing rain too.  Almost as suddenly, the roads were dry and clear and we made good time into Lincoln.

If you are looking at this on a mobile device, click on the pictures below to be taken to the Picasa album.


Utah and the rest:

Monday was the final leg of this winter's long journey. Many of the pictures from these last days were taken with my iPhone - through the window - while we were moving!  Don't expect much, they are story-telling shots.
We arrived in Oakdale about 2:30 PM.
5,757 miles - 10 states (11 if you count the 20 minutes we stopped in California by the Parker Dam)

So, we are back to "normal", whatever that is!  Anxiously awaiting the arrival of Grandbaby #8, looking forward to see family at Jeff and Sarah's wedding this weekend, getting to see some great high school hockey the next weekend and probably heading up to the cabin after that!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Buh-bye Buckeye!

This year's Arizona Adventure is coming to a close, tomorrow will leave the shadow of the White Tank Mountains and begin the trek back to Minnesota.  Although the cold, ice, wind and winter weather are waiting - so is our family, it will be good to get home. I've also been watching all the pictures of snowy owls, the Lake Superior ice caves and now the aurora!  Maybe I can get to experience one or two of those when we get back too.  I know that winter will not be over.

These past weeks have been a good combination of soaking up the sunshine and visiting some new places.

We visited friends in Casa Grande - I have no pictures!! We must have been too busy chatting - and eating and drinking!  We also spent a night in Yuma with our good friends Pete and Ed - they were our hosts in Alaska a couple of years ago.  We left Yuma with some new quilting ideas, a few treasures from the Arizona Market (the Yuma Flea Market) and a cooler full of salmon!!

We spent a Saturday traveling to The Desert Bar and Parker Dam, on the Colorado River, just across the border from California.  The bar is one of the most unique I've been too.  Each year new features are added, there's always live music and good food! It's at the end of 5 miles of desert dirt road.  The new addition this year was a bigger kitchen with the "hugest, gamoungous" platter of nachos I've ever seen.  Seriously, I think it would be a meal for 4!

The Desert Bar - Parker

The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is hosting an exhibition of Chihuly glass.  Dale Chihuly is from Tacoma and has been doing these beautiful sculptures and displaying them in this kind of setting for several years.  He actually has a team doing the actual glass blowing now and he coordinates the sculptures.  The garden show here in Phoenix is beautiful - day or night!
Dale Chihuly - Artist - Home

I've split the slideshow into two sections, one  specifically for the Chihuly Exhibit.
If you are on a mobile devise, click on the picture and you will be taken to the Picasa Album on the web.

Buckeye Part 2

Buckeye Part 2


Chihuly in the Garden - I've labeled those sculputres that I can remember... I expected to find all the names in the field guide, so looked, but didn't take notes as we walked through the gardens.  Then when we got home, realized the titles were not specified!

Chihuly in the Garden

We'll head north in the morning, hopefully have a few adventures on the way home.  We are not looking forward to all the snow, but getting home always feels good! 


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Week in the Desert

We've been here in Buckeye for just over a week now, it's feeling pretty dang comfy!  We are renting a house in Del Webb's Festival.  It's an "Active Senior" community (hehe) with tons of amenities.  Going to the pool or hot tub feels like a resort in Mexico! Most of the week has been spent settling in. Bob and Lowell have done some prospecting and hiking, We've all been for walks and done a bit of geocaching in the desert around here.  We spend evenings,out on the patio, playing cards and enjoying the hot tub. The hummingbirds are here every night splashing in the fountain.  Jean and I have done some sewing and hit the Quilt Show in Phoenix as well.

This part of Buckeye sits on the north side of the White Tank Mountains.  It is literally in the desert, 12 miles to groceries, gas, etc.  17 miles to Target!!   Well, there is a gas station here in the development, and a nice restaurant at the community center as well.  Happy Hour from 3-6 Monday through Friday :-)

I'll share a few pictures, but it has been a pretty quiet week.  We'll get out and do more hiking and exploring in the next few weeks.
On your mobile device - click on this picture to go directly to the album -

Buckeye, AZ

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park
When we left Harlingen, we decided to take some extra time to visit Big Bend National Park on the way to Arizona. Big Bend was established in 1944 and is located in that bump on the map is west Texas - on the north side of the Rio Grande.  The park is known for its rich geology, over 150 miles of hiking trails and its diverse climates where over 450 bird species can be found.
  Big Bend Nat'l Park

Since we only had one day to explore the park, we took the advice of the entry ranger and chose to hike the Window View Trail.  2.2 miles each way with an extra quarter mile spur to a plateau with amazing vistas. The trail descends gradually about 1000'.   We took our time on the trail, stopping to listen to and watch for birds and critters and to simply soak in the beauty of this desert gem.  While we didn't see many people, apparently it was a work day, because there seemed to be rest stops and benches around every corner on our way in, but on the way out they were few and far between! On the return it
ascends 1000'. 

After a couple of delicious sandwiches at the Starlight Cafe, we drove the Ross Scenic  through the park to the Santa Elena Canyon.  At this point the Rio Grande River has eroded a 300 foot deep canyon - it is beautiful!  Unfortunately we didn't arrive early enough to hike into the canyon, next time we will put this at the top of the list. 

We ended out day about 3 miles outside the park in a old mining town of Terlingua.  It was home to the Chisos Mining company in the early 1900's. Now it's big claim to fame (other than cabins and park adventures) is a big Chili Cook-off.

If you can't see the slideshow in your mobile device, click on this link to go directly to the album:
Big Bend Nat'l Park

Slideshow  is here :

On Thursday morning we headed toward Tucson, hoping to get there early enough to hike at Sabino Canyon. Unfortunately, the canyon park closed at 4:30 - we drove through at 4:15.  So, on to New River, AZ, north of Phoenix - to meet Jean and Bob.  On Friday we headed out into the desert to Buckeye, were we have rented at house in Sun City Festival.  It is LOVELY!!  It feels good to stop and know we are in one spot for nearly a month.  We'll be exploring some new hiking trails, gold prospecting (Bob is the master), visiting friends and hit the Mesa Market at least once.  Meantime, there are hummingbirds visiting the backyard every afternoon and we are happy with our decision to spend this winter "not in Minnesota".
Talk at ya later!

South Texas - Family and Friends

Our short week in south Texas was all about relaxing and reconnecting.  The list of things we didn't do (Mexico, the flea market, Bass Pro Shop, Laguna Atascosa) is probably longer than the things we did.  But that's fine, we had a great visit with Mom and Dad and other friends in the Park, and we did make a trip to the beaches on South Padre - followed by shrimp at Pelican Landing.
Today's post is told mostly by the captions in the slideshow.

If you are on a mobile device, Click on the picture/ link below to get to the pictures and slideshow.

Road Trip 2014 #2

Friday, January 17, 2014

On the Road Again----

The Schumacher 2014 Road Trip is under way! This year we are heading to Buckeye, AZ, via Harlingen, TX, Big Bend National Park, Tucson, and Casa Grande.  We are looking forward to seeing some new areas of this great land as well as visiting family and friends.
Day 1 - We drove through Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma - 850+ miles.   Another 625 miles -- all of them in Texas! Not the most exciting landscape, but traffic was easy and we made good time.
We traveled on the east side of Kansas City to Joplin, Missouri and then into Oklahoma on the Will Rogers Turnpike.  An interesting set up on this particular roadway, after driving 26 miles on the turnpike you need to stop at a toll booth and pay $4.  We got off at the very next exit - 2 miles later - stopped at the tollbooth again and are given a $2 refund!
The next section of the drive was through Muskogee, OK and a bunch of other small towns.   Interestingly, much of this drive is through the Choctaw reservation and the only radio station that we could get was Mexican Polka music!!! Yes, Mexican Polka Music!!  Stopped in Durant, OK for the night.
Day 2 - was a rather short driving day, only about 300 miles from Durant to San Antonio - The toughest part of the day was getting around the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex. That is one big, busy area!

We spent a relaxing afternoon and evening in San Antonio, strolling the River Walk, a river cruise, with lots of architectural and historic information and a great dinner on the River Walk.  It was warm even for San Antonio so we were able to eat at a sidewalk table.

Day 3 was a quick 250 mile drive from San Antonio into Harlingen - through lots of wide open prairie.  The hawks were having a field day - I'm not very good at hawk ID, so you'll have to take my word for it,  I think most of them were red tail hawks. 
So we are here in the Valley of the Palms - enjoying the (much) warmer than Minnesota weather. Visiting with Mom and Dad, cousins Jim, Judy & Don, Aunt Lorraine and lots of other friends.  I'm sure we'll have a few more pictures and adventures to share by the time we leave next week.

The link below will take you to an online album.  I need to figure out the slideshow link, but it isn't working the way it used to, so I'll need to check that out tomorrow!

2014 Road Trip Part 1

I think the slideshow is working now - you won't be able to see it on mobile devices tho - you'll need to click on the album above to see the pictures on your mobile device.
Slideshow for the pics above: