Sunday Stills: Holiday #Lights and Beyond

SS light banner

When I selected the theme of lights, I thought about the traditional holiday lights we all enjoy seeing this time of year. But as usual, the theme morphed into other interpretations, as it should.

Join me this week from my temporary home in Spokane, Washington.

Lights on the Road

We drove out of the driveway for the last time, early last Sunday morning, a day later than planned. Of course, I cried as we left but soon my spirits were buoyed by thoughts of our new adventures to come. My husband drove his truck with our dogs in the back seat while I followed behind in my Rav4. Both vehicles were fully loaded, and our POD container was packed and ready to be shipped two days later.

We drove from Sacramento to Portland, Oregon, taking long 10 hours, driving half of this in pouring rain along Highway 5. By the time we reached Salem, the rain had stopped. Within 45 minutes we checked in to our motel and recovered. We were up and out the door at 7am.

We drove along Highway 84 along the Columbia River Gorge and this sunrise greeted us.

OR morning light

Yes, I took the photo while driving but I can say “shoot” and the phone snaps the pic. The morning light was incredible, and I managed to also get the reflection from the hood of the car. We drove in record time arriving at our destination in five and a half hours!

The map shows you where Spokane, Washington is compared to Sacramento, California. The one-way trip from Sacramento is about 840 miles.

Light at the End of the Tunnel

We arrived to snow on the ground but not on the roads. We unpacked, rested, and visited with my brother-in-law who is hosting us in his home for the next few weeks while we wait for our manufactured home to be built.

After a few messages we learned the home would be delivered to our property this week. On Thursday, after running a few errands and taking advantage of dry streets, we headed up to Nine Mile Falls, 20 minutes north of Spokane, where we will live. We turned the corner of our street expecting to look at the foundation and what had been completed on the property, and lo and behold…this!

manufactured home
Placing the home

Tears sprang to our eyes as we saw our home for the first time.

We were told the house was delivered just the day before. It is set temporarily on wheels and in a few days a crane will arrive to lift it onto the foundation and join the two sides. In the meantime, we walked through the mud and snow and peeked inside where we could. Once it is properly placed, the company finishes the inside, with carpet, flooring, etc. Soon the contractor will hook up septic, water and power.

In this 15-parcel subdivision, 5 other homes are in the process of being built. We were the very first buyers.

In case you are wondering, this home is 30 x 68 feet (2040 sq feet), almost 800 SF larger than my former home. Sharp eyes may see that I chose the same exterior paint color as my former house, which, in an interesting twist, officially closed that same day.

Indeed, seeing the home for ourselves tells us there is a light at the end of this year-long tunnel through which we have travelled.

Northern Holiday Lights

For now, we are enjoying holiday lights in others’ homes. My sister-in-law always has gorgeous displays full of light, indoors and out.

The lighted deer in her front yard were aglow in what was left of the snow.

Reindeer lights

Her Christmas Village is inspiring.

Christmas Village

While packing for the move, I discovered several boxes of holiday decorations, including a box with lighted deer. I can’t wait to put the lights up in 2021 on our new home!

I hope you enjoyed my various interpretations of lights. For your post, you can share images of lights or interpret the overall concept of light.

A huge shout-out to fellow Washingtonian, Susanne at Cats and Trails and Garden Tales for hosting Sunday Stills last week while we moved.

There will be no Sunday Stills challenge for December 27 as many of us take a break and enjoy our holidays. Have a wonderful but safe holiday week and let’s begin the new year with faith, hope, love and peace. Check back soon to my Sunday Stills Challenge page for January’s themes.

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Sunday Stills: City #Sidewalks

sunday stills sidewalks

In a few days, I am trading my city/suburban sidewalks for rural ones, as we make our way north to the Spokane, Washington area.

This week’s Sunday Stills theme is sidewalks, walkways, rural paths, etc! Join me for a walk down memory lane as I share some of my favorite walks.

One of my favorite views as I walk my dogs is this one below of a suburban street a few blocks from my current house of 32 years.

fall in the neighborhood
Last look at neighborhood street

My brother-in-law shot this of the first snow in October on his suburban street in Spokane Valley. Image credit to him. I’m asking for snowshoes this Christmas!

snowy suburban sidewalk

Luckily I don’t need them to “walk” in this miniature Christmas street display.

Christmas Village

The theme of City Sidewalks reminds me of Christmas and the beautiful Christmas song, Silver Bells. My favorite rendition of the song is by Anne Murray.

“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style
In the air, there’s a feeling of Christmas”

Last Sunday, hubby and I had to leave the house so the inspector could do his thing, and parked on the street that leads to the American River Bike Trail. A beautiful Autumn day in Sacramento!

Road to Bike Trail

Taking a more general approach to the theme, I’m sharing galleries of sidewalks, paths, and walkways I’ve collected on my walks.

Campus Memories

Last Wednesday was my last time to walk on the university campus where I have taught for the last 10 years. I met our department chair to turn in my building and office keys. Having not been on campus for months due to Covid, I felt slightly cheated for missing these views this semester.

Memories of Sidewalks and Pathways Gone By

This is one of my favorite photographs taken in 2014 in Lake Tahoe. We walked down this stairway to the beach on the north shore. I turned and looked back and caught this image. I believe this was a defining moment when I became a photographer.

a long walk up from Lake Tahoe shore
Long Walk Up

Here is another gallery of previous photos taken on walks in San Diego, the Sacramento River Delta, Sedona, Spokane, and Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include this image of my hubby in his green bike helmet looking toward Yosemite Falls. Have I mentioned I have been to Yosemite National Park 26 times so far?

walking path to Yosemite Falls
Path to Yosemite Falls

“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

John Muir

On my walks, I see many types of birds. Frequently seen in my own neighborhood are mockingbirds, mourning doves, and robins. Bluejays are also everywhere as pictured below (on my backyard feeder). Shared for Lisa’s Bird Weekly: Birds beginning with “B.”

Blue jay contorts to get some yummy treats!
Blue jay contorts to get some yummy treats!

One day this week, we took a break from packing the POD to visit my dad and step-mom 45 miles away in the Sierra foothills. A long dirt road to my dad’s house up the hill. I’m not sure when I will be back to see this again.

Western States trail
Walking up Turkey Hill Road in Foresthill, CA

As winter sets in, we drive north to Washington in a few days.

Winter Scene Spokane

For this California native, I will enjoy and embrace my new paths in the Pacific Northwest.

Thank you for walking down memory lane with me this week. Images in this post are submitted for the following photo challenges:

I look forward to your interpretations of City Sidewalks this week!

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Sunday Stills: We Are #Thankful Through it All

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As folks prepare for Thanksgiving in the US this week, it will be a completely different holiday this year. As we navigate through a pandemic that has sickened millions and taken the lives of loved ones, we stand in fear of continuing the spread of the Covid virus by reducing our time spent with family and friends. Some have found it difficult to be truly thankful.

For Sunday Stills, this week, let us all reflect upon the things for which we can truly be thankful.

Our road trip to San Diego this past week was emotionally and somewhat physically taxing. We needed to bring some boxes of items to our children and grandchildren while picking up a few things to take back with us. Our plans were not just to visit with our families, but for me to say goodbye to our family home that was recently sold and to visit my mom’s commemorative brick placed in a local city park.

While driving, we had phone conversations with family. I have two younger brothers; one still lives in the San Diego area and the other recently moved to Arizona. When I mentioned that a few of us were going to visit my dad next week in his rural town in Northern California, the oldest brother chastised me pretty good by stating, “if Dad gets Covid, he’ll die! Do you want to lose both parents in 2020?”

“Umm, no,” I answered contritely (my mom passed in March of this year). Sadly, many rural areas of California are seeing a rise in Covid cases as new people merge with locals, who haven’t practiced good social distancing.

To protect my 84-year old father who has COPD, I had to be the one to tell the family over the course of days that we were not going to converge at his home for Thanksgiving.

Despite the disappointment, it is better to miss one Thanksgiving in order to enjoy many more in the future.

Thanks for the Memories, San Diego

I was born and raised in the San Diego area in southern California. I moved north to Sacramento when I was 20 and never moved back. I am thankful many family members still live there and I can visit most any time.

My brother and his family want nothing to do with COVID-19 and to see them, we stayed behind their driveway gate while they sat on the other side a few feet away. I brought some books and other goodies for them. No doubt my brother will spray everything with sanitizer, but we enjoyed family time. Better than Zoom for sure!

No covid allowed here!
Thankful for family!

It was time to say goodbye to the family home I had lived in since I was 10 years old. Once my mom entered the nursing home in 2010, my brother moved in and lived there for a while. We eventually rented it to my stepson and his family, and once Mom passed this year, we opted to sell it earlier this Fall. We drove over to the house and the owners had not moved in yet, so I was grateful to get this pic of me hugging the house goodbye.

House hug
Hugging my family home goodbye

The next day, I met my childhood friend in the park to visit my mom’s brick and we shared a few memories of days gone by. This image was set up by my daughter and shared in an earlier post.

Mom's Brick

Thankful for Home

The week prior to us leaving for San Diego, we listed our house in Sacramento and potential buyers visited Saturday through Monday, while we were away. By Tuesday we had several offers and decided to go with one, in particular, that was solid and over the asking price!

After signing several online disclosures, my husband and I are grateful that a young couple is excited about the house and wants to start a family in it, just like I did 32 years ago.

Before the family home in San Diego was sold last summer, my daughter transplanted my mom’s favorite roses into two pots for me to take. My mom would be happy knowing her roses will continue to bloom in another state.

Mom's last rose

I dropped off my beloved plumeria plants to my daughter since they will not grow well in the cold North (Spokane, WA). I had just planted four plumerias from stalks in 2019 and one flowered. I will ever be grateful I got to see these plumeria grow. For some reason, the same plant did not produce in 2020. Here is one shot from 2019.

Unexpected Plumeria blooms

Autumn is finally in full swing in Sacramento. My Japanese maple frames one of the last looks at the front of my house, soon to be occupied by a new family.

Japanese Maple Fall

This is submitted for Dawn’s Festival of Leaves. Flowers and leaves are shared for Cee’s Flower of the Day.

My daughters are visiting over Thanksgiving to eat a small meal and say goodbye to their childhood home. We are keeping it simple and ordered a turkey dinner from a nearby grocery store. Trust me, with few dishes left in the house, I’m thankful someone else is doing the cooking!

And I’m sure this suburban turkey is grateful it escaped this year’s Thanksgiving table and my Boykin Spaniel’s greedy jaws. Submitted for Lisa’s Bird Weekly Challenge.

suburban turkey
Turkey in my front yard

Thank You to My Fellow Bloggers

I want to thank you all who continue to support Sunday Stills and share images every week, and those who continue to read my ramblings.

I have a long list of loyal bloggers who post every week for Sunday Stills, but I also want to acknowledge bloggers who took a break and are back to share their talents!

And a hearty shout-out to Joe at Easin’ Along and Hugh Roberts of Hugh’s Views and News who often share their photos of the themes in the comments! Not that easy to do!

Please show us what you are thankful for in 2020. There is more than you might think. We’ve all had our ups and downs, but we will prevail!

Have a wonderful week and if you celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday, please stay safe and make the best of these unprecedented times in which we live.

© 2020 Copyright-All rights reserved-secondwindleisure.com

Winter Road Trip Preview: Walking in the Desert Light

South Rim of the Grand Canyon in snow

Join me today as I share a preview of my winter road trip and where some of my walks took me. With a camera and phone in hand, I took loads of photos on my daily walks. I managed to walk over 10,000 steps a day as recorded by my Fitbit. I needed to with all the good food I ate!

We spent 18 days traveling to Southern California, Northern Arizona, and Las Vegas, Nevada during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Christmas in San Diego

After an eleven-hour drive to San Diego where we would spend our first week of the trip, we enjoyed time with my daughter and her boyfriend. They graciously let us park our trailer in their driveway and hook up to electricity. We loved having our own sleeping space in our trailer and it made a temporary escape space once the whole family arrived at her house for Christmas day.

We spent Christmas Eve at my stepdaughter’s new apartment in Pacific Beach. Even the kite surfers were out enjoying a cold but sunny afternoon as we walked along Sail Bay.

Kite Surfer Pacific Beach
Kite Surfer in Sail Bay, Pacific Beach

Arizona Walks

We traveled on to North Phoenix, Arizona where we met up with Ingrid and her husband at the Pioneer RV Park. This time we stayed six nights and enjoyed a lot more of what Phoenix has to offer. Ah, those sunny winter days! Later in the week, Ingrid and I visited the Desert Botanical Garden and walked the gorgeous trails.

Cactus Light in Botanical Garden
Cactus Backlight in Botanical Garden

“Wild Rising” was the theme with more than 1000 sculptures adorning the park.

Desert Botanical Gardens
Walking through the Botanical Gardens

A Check Off the Ole’ Bucket List

While staying in North Phoenix, early Monday, December 28, we drove three hours one way to … drum roll please…the Grand Canyon!

Yes, I shed a tear as I walked the short distance to the magnificent sight of the canyon! The light from the snow provided amazing contrasts to the warm red and orange rocks. This was one of my first images!

South Rim of the Grand Canyon in snow
South Rim of the Grand Canyon

Unlike last year’s US government shutdown of national parks, the park was alive and well with a few brave tourists bundled up for the cold, wintery conditions. Even our dogs got their walk in on the South Rim trail.

Winter in South Rim of Grand Canyon
Cold Winter’s Day in South Rim of Grand Canyon

On our drive back to North Phoenix, there was snow on the ground, but thankfully no ice on the roads.

If you are new to my blog, you can read more about our crazy 2019 Winter Road Trip.

For the rest of January, I will share more of my photos from the road trip.

That just about does it for this post, which is inspired in part by Jo’s Monday Walk, Cee’s New On the Hunt for Joy Challenge and Becky B’s January Squares Photo Challenge.

A hearty shout-out and thanks to Hugh for hosting Sunday Stills while I took my break.

Sunday Stills resumes right here next week! I hope to see you back with your creative ideas and images.

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Sunday Stills: Holiday #Décor with Optional Red and Green

As we near Christmas and other traditional holidays, no doubt you have managed to decorate your home or yard.

Yard decor for Winter Wonders
Neighbor’s Christmas Scene

I adjusted my holiday travel plans a bit which means I combined this week’s theme, Holiday Decor, with what would have been next week’s theme, Something Red or Green. See end of the post for more details.

Since being with my husband for the last 10 Christmases, I don’t decorate much since we travel to Southern California to spend time with our family, including our combined five children; four who now live there. We also travel for another two weeks since we both can easily take time off from our jobs in January. Taking down Christmas decorations in mid-January is just wrong, although I know many folks who keep their holiday décor up through epiphany 12 days after Christmas and beyond.

Even my university campus decks its halls with holiday décor. Ginkgo trees adorn many areas of campus, and I’m told their small, fan-shaped leaves fall in big batches. The campus groundskeepers and interested alumni team up to rake the leaves into interesting patterns. A red Jump bike and festive flag add to the festive scene.

Campus Decor For Fall

This year, with Thanksgiving arriving later in November, many holiday decorations were already up and gracing the homes of friends and family. My sister-in-law hosted Thanksgiving and had a house full of people, so she put hers up early.

I took some photos of her wonderful décor to share. She has room to display her whimsical miniature villages. The key to capturing these creatively is to get very close with your lens to get the sense of being inside the village. I applied the Painnt filter to the first and third images.

Christmas Village
Inside a Christmas Village
Christmas Village
Nostalgic, snowy scene

These miniature toys decorated a friend’s house last Christmas. Doesn’t it remind you of the Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer TV Christmas special and the island of misfit toys?

Miniature Christmas Toys
The island of misfit toys?

Then, of course, there are the lights!

Lights2

Please welcome a new blogger to Sunday Stills, Life is Great!

I don’t often get to link with Weekly Lens-Artist Challenge; “display” seems to fit the theme this week!

This week, show us your creative holiday decor with optional red and green!

Christmas red berries

Due to our Winter Road Trip Do-Over, today is the last Sunday Stills post of 2019. I will be taking a blogging break beginning this week through January 17, resuming Sunday Stills on my blog on January 19. Thank you to all who have contributed to the Sunday Stills Photo Challenge in 2019!

Fellow blogger Hugh Roberts is graciously hosting Sunday Stills on January 5 and 12, so be sure to visit. January themes are posted here.

I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a glorious start to 2020!

Terri_holly

© 2019-2020 Copyright-All rights reserved-secondwindleisure.com

Sunday Stills: Reflections of #Peace at 60

graphic Sunday Stills
festive birthday table
Festive birthday table

Well, I did it, I turned 60 last Wednesday. And yes, I feel peaceful about this slightly scary event! I admire and have many friends and relatives who are 60 and older, and most don’t look like the traditional perception of “60.” Whether it is their smooth but slightly weathered skin, graying hair, still-active lifestyle or young-at-heart attitude, 60 as a chronological age is not our grandmothers’ 60.

My grandmother died at age 64 of uterine cancer. She was young-looking as well; at least as young one can look in those fabulous 1960s-style clothes women that age wore back in the 1970s.

This week’s Sunday Stills theme is PEACE.

Whatever we believe about age, I am happy to be any age. After all, what is the alternative? We spent a lovely Thanksgiving week in Spokane, Washington with my husband’s family. They threw us another birthday celebration. You can see the amazing festive table in the above image.

celebrating a birthday

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know I am active and strive to live a leisure lifestyle. Yes, I still work part-time as adjunct faculty, but after 35 years of working at my day job, teaching university students what I’ve learned is NOT work. In fact, just walking around campus brings me peace. There is something about walking amongst the students and feeling their energy that brings me peace that feeds my own energy if that is possible. I guess it is the peace about being satisfied with my life as an educator.

peaceful campus
Peaceful campus during the end of finals week

I restarted my blog in September 2014, a few months before I retired. That alone makes my jaw drop to think I have been “retired” for five years. Talk about feeling peace! It is lovely to not spend my days dealing with stress.

Through blogging, I have met countless men and women who are writers, self-published authors, photographers, fitness experts, and artists. All inspiring folks whom I respect and admire. Photographers challenge me to grow and stretch my skills with the lens; writers and authors churn out amazing books, which pushes me to take stock of my own writing skills. I follow many bloggers who share their experiences in leisure, fitness, health, and travel, and I am continually inspired by their expertise and stories.

As I peacefully reflect on my good fortune to know you all, I wholeheartedly look forward to embracing a new decade in my sixth decade.

sunset on Klamath Lake
Sunset on Upper Klamath Falls Lake, OR
graphic Sunday Stills

Tell me, what brings you peace? Share your ideas in an original image, poem, music, short story and more!

Special shout out to Hugh Roberts for his post on how to center image captions! You can see it works!

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Sunday Stills: Walking Through the #Calm Before the Storm

Walking Along Pacific Beach Bayfront
Calming Autumn Scenery
One View of My Weekly Walk

Despite the cliché post title, this week for me is seriously the calm before the storm!

Not only are we making the 15-hour drive in one day up to Spokane Washington this Friday, but I also have 80 final papers to grade to the tune of 135,000 words, over the next 10 days.

My students used to submit hard copies of their papers in which I could read while my hubby drove, but in the classes I teach these days, students submit their assignments online through the university portal. So much for multi-tasking.

Other frenetic moments looming include food shopping, packing for the road trip and waking up at 3:00 am to begin the drive. Not to mention, enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with 35 other people occupying multiple generations. And the threat of Black Friday deals, the stress of overeating, then the inevitable long drive back home.

Winter Scene Spokane
Last November’s walk in Spokane, WA

For the Thanksgiving holidays, we are staying in a dog-friendly hotel which should help with the feeling of calm. Usually, we stay with family, but other family members beat us to the available guest rooms. Believe me, I am thankful for our large family and we have loads of fun, but daily walks and hikes (weather permitting) and some downtime are the only ways I can cope with most holiday gatherings.

A Leafy Path

Autumn is my favorite time of year and enjoying the fall leaves and colors brings me peace. Hiking in the woods with my dogs provides a calm respite from the craziness of the holidays and helps me work off that extra piece of pumpkin pie. Unlike many, when walking outdoors, I choose to unplug any tech and just listen to nature and the wind in the trees. Breathing in the cold, crisp air is also calming.

leaves red riot
Calming effect of nature’s beauty

Walking along the water is another way to calm my spirit when stress is nigh. Before we traveled home from San Diego in October, we took a walk on the bayside of Pacific Beach near where my step-daughter lives.

Walking Along Pacific Beach Bayfront
Walking Along Pacific Beach Bayfront

I am blessed to live in a decent suburban neighborhood where it is safe to walk my dogs. I’m linking with Restless Jo’s Morning Walk this week and sharing why walking in nature brings me calm!

I am also linking with Dawn’s Festival of Leaves.

As I seek some calm this week, I hope you can share your version of “calm” in your creative ways through images, poetry, music, and stories.

© 2019 Copyright-All rights reserved-secondwindleisure.com

Travel Travails of Our Winter Road Trip: Part 1, Phoenix Fun

Phoenix Fun Graphic
Phoenix Fun Graphic

Although I am on a blogging break from my photo challenge feature, Sunday Stills, and now that I am back from my Arizona road trip, I couldn’t wait to post about it! This saga will continue in three parts.

You notice the word “travails.” Where do I start?

If I start at the beginning, I admit to planning this road trip in my head 20 years ago after reading author Tony Hillerman’s Navajo crime-mystery novels. His detailed descriptions of the American Southwest intrigued and inspired me. Who could resist the call of the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Monument Valley and countless other places along the way?

I couldn’t. So, when we bought our new travel trailer and finally my hubby’s new Ford F-150 in 2018, the dream became a reality.

Truck and Trailer

With the help of real maps (from Triple AAA), several bloggers and my own research, I crafted together an epic road trip that began in Sacramento and ended in Las Vegas. I booked several reservations for three different RV parks and a hike through Antelope Canyon for early January.

Have you ever pulled a 27-foot trailer? There is a lot to it, so my husband, Hans, did all the driving. You need to buy gas every 200 miles (or less) since the gas mileage the truck gets averages 8 mpg. You also need to plan at which gas station you will stop because RVs can’t just whip into any station.

Normally we drive my Toyota Rav4 which gets great gas mileage and gets us to Southern California in 9 hours or less. We knew pulling the trailer with the truck would lengthen our trip and we prepared to take slower routes once in Southern California.

We also had our two dogs with us, Aero and Brodie, who are accustomed to road trips and love the trailer after spending summer weekends in it at the delta.

Off to San Diego!

Our first leg of the trip involved driving from Sacramento to San Diego, about 600 miles. We travel each year to spend the holidays with our adult children and the rest of our families. We chose to drive on the Saturday before Christmas thinking the traffic would be better than on a weekday.

Our second fuel stop was in Tehachapi, a long slow climb up a mountainous, windy grade. This route is better than groaning up the “Grapevine,” the traditional gateway to Southern California. Thinking we had enough gas for the Loves Travel Stop, we estimated to stop there for our next gas.

Travel Travail #1. Fueling Up the Gas Tank. Don’t wait until you have 2 miles to go to “empty” before you arrive at the next gas station. So much for planning! The Ford F-150 has that nice feature that tells you exactly how much fuel you have left.

We coasted in on fumes to the first fuel stop available. Hans put in $20 worth and off we went to the travel stop two more miles down the road. Insert eye-roll here!

We knew it would be a long day. I didn’t want to sweat bullets just getting gas!

Travel Travail #2. Holiday Traffic. Expect Delays! We hit two big traffic snags. The first one was in, of all places, Kramer Junction, where Highways 58 and 395 intersect in the Mojave Desert.

It took an hour to drive 6 miles through the intersection. We just knew there must have been a terrible accident, but no, it was just a lot of company all at once heading toward Las Vegas for the holidays. Meanwhile members of my family were calling and texting asking about our ETA.

Once we got on the I-15 South, we hit another traffic jam in San Bernardino.

12 hours later from when we pulled out of our driveway, we arrived at my daughter’s home in San Diego, exhausted, hungry and excited.

The Christmas holidays came and went with the usual family fun and drama.

Fun in Phoenix

Saguaro cactus

Friday, December 28, we pulled out of San Diego and on the road to Phoenix, Arizona. We were to join Ingrid, fellow blogger from Live, Laugh, RV and her husband for happy hour upon our arrival. 7 hours later, we pulled into the Pioneer RV Park and joined our new friends, right next door to their RV! Ingrid and Al are amazing and live the retired RV life. We had some great laughs bonding over margaritas and nachos!

Saturday, Al took Hans shooting at the nearby gun range, while Ingrid took me to several spots in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area to go shooting with our cameras.

We toured a Farmer’s market, shopped at boutiques and stopped at two trailheads to take in the desert sights before stopping for lunch in Cave Creek. Near there we hiked about an hour and took loads of photos.

Desert Beauty
Beautiful Cave Creek
Cactus Flower among the Saguaros

We enjoyed our last night with Al and Ingrid and will have fond memories of their generosity! Meeting other bloggers in person is such a thrill, and you bet we talked about blogging!

Travel Travail #3. Stay a day or two longer if your itinerary allows! We had such a blast with these two the next day, that we should have stayed another couple of days. North Phoenix was “warm” and sunny at 50+ degrees, although the nights were cold.

Ingrid
Fab Photographer Ingrid

I want to thank blogger Ingrid from Live, Laugh, RV, who, when I commented on one of her posts, offered to share information with me about Arizona. If you haven’t met her yet, stop by her blog!

I will leave Part One on a positive note because, like many trilogies, the sequel can be full of strife. Join me as we travel to Sedona, Arizona and experience unusual winter weather!

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About Sunday Stills Photo Challenge–Please Read!

SundayStills Graphic

Sunday Stills is moving in January!

SundayStills Graphic

 

But don’t fret!

While I take an extended travel break, the Sunday Stills photo challenge is being temporarily hosted by bloggers Carol Carlisle and Hugh Roberts. Please follow their blogs to keep up with the weekly challenge!

Carol is hosting January 6 and 13, find her blog here.

Hugh is hosting January 20 and 27, find his blog here.

Visit my Sunday Stills page for the list of themes.

Reminder there is no Sunday Stills challenge for Dec. 30th.

I am spending Christmas with family in the San Diego area. If my schedule is on track, I should be on the road to Phoenix, Arizona at the time this post publishes.

This is my official blogging break for the entire month of January, while my husband and dogs travel to Northern Arizona on a 10-day road trip. Since we are traveling with our trailer and camping, Internet access may be unavailable.

Upon my return, I will have lots of new photos to edit, as well as to plan February’s Sunday Stills’ themes. The university’s spring semester begins the third week, so I will be prepping for that. But don’t be surprised if I stop by and visit your blogs when I can!

Happy New Year and best wishes to all for a fabulous 2019!

Terri_sig_palm2

 

 

 

Sunday Stills: Something #Red

Sunday Stills Red Graphic

During the holiday season, it is nearly impossible to find something red to photograph, right?

Wrong!

While I prefer green, the reds of the season lend a dramatic contrast to white snow, lush evergreens, and cold, dreamy blues!

I had planned my usual macros (see below), which are always fun to photograph and edit!

But by kismet and luck, my featured image below (also shared for Becky B’s timesquare) is my attempt at a wedding photo of our dear, next door neighbors who held their wedding in their backyard last week! My hubby thought I should take a couple of photos of them and have the image printed on canvas as a wedding gift.

Wedding photo

Instead of purchasing other artists’ prints, I found this website to print my own images onto canvas or acrylic. In addition to this wedding photo, I had three of my favorites made into canvas prints to be framed (or not) and hung on my own walls. I use CanvasDiscount (no affiliate here, just a satisfied customer!).

It is doubtful I would explore wedding photography as a profession, but I am more than pleased at how this one turned out. At the time of this post, they have not yet received their surprise gift! They chose not to have a dedicated photographer at the wedding, so I was so glad to make this portrait of them!

Now for more reds!

Whether or not your image is holiday-themed, show us something red for Sunday Stills!

Sunday Stills Red Graphic


This post is my last Sunday Stills post of 2018! There is no challenge on December 30.


As I will be traveling extensively during the last week in December and first two weeks in January, Sunday Stills will be hosted by Hugh and Carol. More details on my Sunday Stills Page.

Thank you for a fabulous 2018 with Sunday Stills! I wish you Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

Terri_holly

 

Sunday Stills: #Festive!

Festive Graphic

Nothing is more festive than the decorations and lights people use for their holiday celebrations!

That is our theme for this week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge!

Last week we looked at traditions as we explored Christmas light displays in some of the neighborhoods with my darling Japanese exchange student! Here are some images.

Festive Purple Lights

Quick selfie with Ayaka! There were a lot of people enjoying the lights!

Seeing the Lights

A festive wreath adorns Pacific Beach’s Crystal Pier at Christmas time, even as surfers hit the waves.

Wreath on Pier

A festive pic of Aero from a couple of years ago! He thinks he is a gift (and he is!).

Aero thinks he is a gift...he is!

What puts you in a festive mood?

 

treesignatureholidays

Sunday Stills: #Traditions

Japanese Tea Ceremony Graphic

December is the time of year when we experience a variety of traditions. Some are long-standing, while others may be brand-new.

patiently waiting for Christmas in San Diego

Many families celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or other traditional events that may not be related to spiritual expression during the holidays.

Of course, celebrating holiday traditions means spending time with loved ones. I caught my little nieces gazing at the ocean during our traditional week’s stay in San Diego. With (usually) good weather, a Christmas Day trip to the beaches is a long-standing tradition in our family.

I love this image of my sis-in-law cuddling with one of her adoptive daughters as they open presents.

A young mother's embrace

Decor (or lack of)

Preparations for Christmas and our annual road-trip south to San Diego where most of our families live find us busy. Because we are away from home for 2-3 weeks, I decorate minimally and don’t put up a traditional Christmas tree. Instead we enjoy the Christmas trees of our families. Included in my minimal traditional decor is my 3-foot  wooden tree adorned with yellow lights.

Music

I am all about music during the holidays! I will happily start listening exclusively to Christmas music right after Thanksgiving.

These are two of my old favorites that simply aren’t Christmas unless I hear them: (Click to listen)

Linus and Lucy from Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas Like a Lullaby by John Denver

Something New

For the first time in years, my husband and I attended a concert. For the last four years, thanks to fellow blogger Doug Warren, I’ve been listening to Spotify. In 2018 I signed up for a premium account and started following artists. Spotify notified me of a concert by new-to-me, multi-talented electric-violinist Lindsey Stirling. After Thanksgiving we attended her concert in downtown Sacramento.

New Favorite: I Wonder as I Wander Lindsey Stirling

Going to a winter concert may be a new tradition for us!

A Surprise Event

To add to our busy-ness, a friend convinced us to host a high school student from Japan during the first weekend in December (Thursday-Tuesday).  At first I was reluctant, but she sent me the itinerary and it was do-able.

Cultural Homestay International is a program that provides cultural and educational experiences for high school students.

Cultural Homestay International (CHI) is a nonprofit educational organization founded in 1980 with the aim of promoting international understanding and goodwill through people-to-people exchanges. To live, study, or work together leads to a transformational experience of acceptance and genuine affection. 

This experience ran in conjunction with a local Christian high School and provided activities that included two days of school, excursions and other evening events. A group of 30 students from Ibaraki (north of Tokyo) stayed in the Sacramento area.

Our sweet student was 17 years old and had a good command of English. She loved our dogs. I discovered one of her hobbies (besides shopping) was Tea Ceremony Club. I did not have any photos of her, but the featured image with the graphic may give you an idea of this ancient Japanese tradition.

She celebrates Christmas with her family but only the retail stores have decorations up for all to enjoy. She got a kick out of seeing the Christmas lights and hearing Christmas music.

More photos next week for “festive!”

 

Your Turn

What traditions, new or old, do you observe or cannot live without during the holiday season? Please link back to this post for Sunday Stills, or simply comment!

treesignatureholidays

Friday’s Frosted Festival of #Leaves

Fallen frosted leaves

As Autumn begins to wane in most places, I wanted to share two photos of what was left of Autumn in Spokane, Washington, from our visit last weekend.

Fallen frosted leaves

In the featured image above, the last of the leaves abruptly fell overnight after the snow.

Before the snow fell, it was a brisk 29 degrees when we went for our morning walk.

frosted leaves

Here in Northern California, Fall is alive and well, but the smoke from the Camp Fire continues to fill the Central Valley with extremely unhealthy air. College campuses and schools have been closed all week due to the incredibly unhealthy air.

The extreme conditions make it difficult to get out and take photos of the peak of Autumn here. My prayers go out to the victims of the wildfires and to the brave men and women firefighters continuing to battle the fires.

Festival of Leaves

Cee’s Flower of the Day (FOTD)

Autumn SIGNature

On the #Road for Sunday Stills

Spokane's Urban Forest

I enjoy road trips. I love to drive and see the countryside as I travel.

This Veteran’s Day holiday weekend finds me “on the road.” Well, in the air, actually, as I fly home from the Eastern Washington state. Believe it or not, when I planned this theme, I did not know I would be taking this short trip to visit our family in the Pacific Northwest.

While enjoying our time there, we get out and walk along the stunning suburban forest roads.

Spokane's Urban Forest

My husband’s brothers live in Spokane, and his mother is also there in an Assisted Living care situation. She turned 87 years old in October and we haven’t seen her in 18 months!

I posted about “Time” for last week’s Sunday Stills challenge, and as they say, “life is short!” Hubby recently found out his auntie passed away at age 92. She lived in Germany and he only met her once. She was his deceased father’s sister.

Two weeks ago, we hurriedly made plane reservations for this short trip north to be with Mama Hella…because we never know… Time is not on our side.

Last year on this very weekend I had the absolute pleasure of hanging out with fellow bloggers in Palm Desert. This was truly a road trip, with a 9-hour drive from Sacramento to San Diego, then from there, north two hours to Palm Desert (just outside of Palm Springs).

Travel Trailer

Now that we have our wonderful 27-foot Jayco travel trailer, and hubby finally got his new truck, being on the road will be a pleasure. Especially when we can take our dogs along for the ride.

As I hinted in my last post, we have a major road trip planned for late December into the second week of January. I have always wanted to visit the American Southwest (Arizona, New Mexico, Southern Utah) but never had the opportunity to do so.

This trip is inspired by author Tony Hillerman, whose works include the fabulous mystery series featuring two Navajo tribal policemen set in the Navajo region of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Covering thousands of miles of territory, the characters often found themselves on the road, driving from one area to another as they chased suspects and solved crimes.

As I read, I could imagine the sun setting behind the iconic monoliths of Monument Valley and feel the heat of the summer monsoons.

Although I have driven through Arizona on the Hwy 10 over the years, I have never been to the Grand Circle area known for National Parks like the Grand Canyon, Antelope Valley, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon and Zion. Other areas of interest include Sedona and the Hopi and Navajo Reservations.

With the help of Pinterest and some blog posts I’ve read, I am creating a customized road trip with a drive that starts in San Diego and eventually ends back in Northern California via (or should I say viva) Las Vegas. If the predicted El Nino weather pattern has its way, there should be more sun than rain.

What sights have you enjoyed on your road trips? Here are a few of mine!

As we enjoy our holiday weekend, please remember the Veterans who served in the military whose sacrifices made our country (and perhaps yours) great!

I can’t wait to read what you have in store for Sunday Stills this week! Link up here or ping-back to this post!

Autumn SIGNature

Sunday Stills: #Orange You Glad?

Great pumpkins

Yes, I know it’s a silly blog title, but aren’t you? Glad, I mean, now that with Halloween almost upon us the holiday season is officially here?

I’m not sure if I’m particularly glad about the hustle and bustle with shopping and more traffic, but I’m very much looking forward to the road trips to visit family.

Whatever your feelings about the holiday season, I love the color orange because it seems like such a happy color!

According to an online source:
“Orange combines the energy of red and the happiness of yellow. It is associated with joy, sunshine, and the tropics. Orange represents enthusiasm, fascination, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, encouragement, and stimulation.

Although I personally don’t wear bright orange because my redhead complexion couldn’t take it, I do wear muted shades of orange like peach, salmon, and rust.

Fellow blogger and over-50 fashion guru Jodie shares her ideas on orange as a fashion statement.

I naturally have surrounded myself with the color orange. My home has two pumpkin-colored accent walls in the kitchen and dining room. My updated white brick fireplace now sports some Autumn decor on the mantle.

hello fall

When we got married 5 years ago, I chose a non-traditional wedding ring that boasts an orange sapphire!

wedding ring

Does the color orange make you happy? Here are a few more of mine to get you started:

An end of summer delta sunset from September. Everything was orange!

delta sunset

Of course, a post with the theme of orange would be incomplete without some Fall colors.

Autumn leaves and palm

I call this “California Autumn” because of the juxtaposition of fall leaves against the back drop of a palm tree.

This last image is also submitted for the following photo challenges:

Festival of Leaves

Sunday Trees

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Show us your versions of orange with your images! Link up below and see what other bloggers are posting this week! Or ping-back to this post so I can share your orange images on Facebook, Twitter and Mix!

November’s Sunday Stills themes are now available on my page.

Autumn SIGNature