Sunday Stills: Favorite #Vacation Spot

Sunday Still banner vacation

To wrap up the month of May at Sunday Stills, let’s share our favorite vacation spots. As more of the world gets vaccinated against Covid-19, masks are coming off and the world is opening up! Hallelujah!

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

John Muir

This week, I am sharing my favorite vacation images from my archives. Now, some of you world travelers, like Sarah, will have to choose your favorites, (aren’t they all though?).

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.”


While you think of your favorite vacation spots, remember why we take vacations. In my retired world, every day seems like Saturday and I’ve been on a perpetual vacation for a few months. But think of a vacation in broader terms, like leisure and travel, and how they are all connected. My point (finally) is this: How do the concepts of leisure, vacation, and travel make you feel? Would you say that these words invoke healing when you experience their manifestation?

According to Marsha at Always Write, her newest WQWWW (Writer’s Quote Wednesday) is “healing” and I suggest this is what time off does for us in the form of a vacation, leisure time in a hobby or physical activity, or travel! This quote speaks volumes:

“In matters of healing the body or the mind, vacation is a true genius!”

Mehmet Murat Ildan

Join me as I share my galleries of trips down memory lane and hum along to the song titles. I apologize in advance for any earworms created. You will notice how many of my favorite vacation spots feature the colors blue and green, which ties in nicely to Tina’s Lens-Artists challenge this week!

I Left My Heart in … a US National Park

“Within National Parks is room–glorious room–room in which to find ourselves, in which to think and hope, to dream and plan, to rest and resolve.”

Enos Mills

My family spent a LOT of time visiting national parks, notably Yosemite and Sequoia, since they were in California. Last July, I spent a couple of hours in Sequoia with Marsha, when she lived 30 minutes away in Central California.

Down In Mexico

“Never underestimate the healing power of these three things – music, the ocean and the stars.”


My windsurfing husband dragged me to Baja, Mexico three times to the La Paz area. In nearby La Ventana is incredible windsurfing and kite boarding. I took my turns windsurfing in the Sea of Cortez as well as some stand-up paddling. A great vacation spot!

California Dreamin’

“Nature itself is the best physician.”


Because I lived in California most of my life, I spent the first 20 years in San Diego and the rest in Sacramento (Northern California). On two San Diego vacations, I met fellow blogger, Janis, for lunch twice, and one lunch there with Liesbet, who I met in Sacramento! Since 2009, my vacations consisted of summer weekends at the Sacramento River Delta, with occasional visits to Yosemite. It has been my goal to stand-up paddle on every significant body of water on vacations!

By the Time I Get to Phoenix

“Walk in nature and feel the healing power of the trees.“

Anthony William

Arizona was and still is a winter vacation choice. Not only did we meet fellow blogger, Ingrid and her husband in North Phoenix two years in a row, my brother and recently my stepdaughter now live in the Phoenix area. Winter roadtrip 2022 is in the works!

Blue Hawaii

“Leisure, some degree of it, is necessary to the health of every man’s spirit.”

Harriet Martineau

I’ve been lucky to travel to the Big Island of Hawaii in 2018 and 2019 with the goal to fix up and sell my husband’s house on the Hilo side. The house is dilapidated and needs work that we just cannot do at this time in our lives. This year we will make final arrangements for its sale. During these weeks, we did manage to do a bit of relaxing and exploring after taking care of the home. Hilo is not the tourist mecca like Kona is, but it serves as the county seat where most of the government infrastructure is housed. Hilo is also the wettest city in the US. In 2018 we visited Volcanoes National Park before the last eruption took place. In 2019, I got to visit the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve and Gardens with fellow blogger, Graham. We had a blast taking tons of photos!

Viva Las Vegas

“Life’s short. Eat dessert first, work less and vacation MORE!!”

Lia Mishell

Las Vegas, Nevada is known for its casinos and nightlife. It’s also a great place for winter RV camping. In 2018, our winter roadtrip to the Southwest was cut short by unseasonable cold and snow, so we high-tailed it to Las Vegas as our last stop and enjoyed a pleasant week. Unable to visit Antelope Canyon that borders southern Utah and northern Arizona, we stumbled on the Valley of Fire State Park just an hour northeast of Las Vegas. I still got my slot canyon fix and plenty of hiking! In 2018, we met up with fellow blogger Maria, formerly of Sagittarius Viking, still on Instagram.

I sum up my vacation experience thus far with this meme I created when I was teaching leisure education and management at Sacramento State University. These surfboards were situated at a windsurf resort. I took the picture and added this thought to help make the point about taking time off of work or other obligations and enjoying leisure time!

Sorry, couldn’t make it…had a mandatory board meeting.

You Are My Home

“Come to the woods for here is rest.“

John Muir

One year ago almost to the day (May 2020), my husband and I stood together on our property for the first time.

Happy on our half acre

We’ve come a long way in one year, figuratively and literally! We are moved in and enjoying everything that goes along with building! All during a pandemic, no less.

New mfg home

Our vacation of choice in 2021 will be a “staycation” since we are new to our home and hoping people visit us as we continually move in. Will the unpacking and getting everything just right never end?

If camping in an RV counts as a vacation, then our 2-month stay in North Spokane RV Park was quite lovely despite winter/early spring-living while we waited for our home to be ready.

Like this Canada Goose family enjoying their home near a local lake, we expect to enjoy all the area has to offer. Submitted for Lisa’s Bird Weekly.

Canada Geese Family

We plan to take some local overnight and weekend trips to the German/Bavarian town of Leavenworth; the Columbia River Gorge near Mt Hood, Oregon—motivated by windsports; and Sandpoint, Idaho; and beyond.

I know several bloggers who live near these areas, so lets meet up when the time is right!

Sunday Stills Photo Challenge Reminders

  • Please create a new post for the theme or link a recent one.
  • Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
  • Don’t forget to create a pingback to this post so that other participants can read your post. I also recommend adding your post’s URL into the comments.
  • Entries for this theme can be posted all week.
  • Use hashtag #SundayStills for sharing on social media.

June Themes are on my Sunday Stills Photography Page

Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Each week I share the links from the previous post so you can continue to meet and support each other. And with that…

Good Gray Matter in these Blogger’s Links

I am looking forward to seeing your favorite places where you vacation and relax! Speaking of relaxing, Sunday Stills is taking a break next Sunday as my family celebrates a long Memorial Day weekend. See you in June and have a great week!


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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.

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!


Weekend Coffee Share: The Phoenix Shall Fly


“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,

And you ask, ‘What if I fall?’
Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” 

–Erin Hanson

If you are like me, you may have spent part of your weekend at a graduation ceremony. If we were having coffee I would have handed you a to-go cup and tell you all about it while driving to the weekend festivities.

My youngest daughter, LAM (initials), graduated from her university early Saturday morning. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation Therapy. She will start her fall internship at an Oregon hospital as a recreation therapist working with patients who have psychological problems. Read more about this profession here.

What I have just described is the end (and beginning) of a long, circuitous route for LAM. Her first job in high school was as a lifeguard working indirectly for me (poor thing). Even with several years in aquatics working with children, teens, and adults, she wanted to pursue a college degree in physical therapy or nutrition science. Both noble professions.

She was lucky to play collegiate volleyball for two years, earning her AA degree at a community college. But that is where the road took the turn. Once she started at a four-year university her focus changed. Sadly she did not continue, but left school and moved to San Diego.

If we were having coffee, this is where I would tell you how frustrating it was as her mom to feel so helpless. We want to help our kids and smooth the way for them, but this was not going to happen.

Although LAM was surrounded by other family members in San Diego, she became depressed and out of sorts. 15 months later she came back home. Within one month of being home, she and her car were involved in a rear-end collision. Adding to the stress was a mild injury and me having to find her another vehicle. (I sold her mine, and bought me a new one).

Moving back home was the balm LAM needed to get back on her feet. But, watching her best friends graduating, buying homes and getting jobs, was not helping her self-esteem or depression. She needed a fresh start.

Like other times before when I gave her some advice (although she was stubborn about taking it), we discussed the Recreation and Parks major (where I got my two degrees), with the concentration in Recreation Therapy. She already had some exposure to this working as a lifeguard, where she helped people of all ages with disabilities in the aquatics setting.

The light-bulb came on.Phoenixed-Mortarboard

Like the proverbial Phoenix, rising up out of the ashes, albeit, one feather at a time, she started down a new and refocused path. This road included going back to community college, taking classes and holding a higher grade point average so she could be reinstated to her university.

Only 12% of students who end up on academic expulsion return to graduate.

If we were having coffee, this is where I would pause to take a deep breath so I don’t cry. The road led her to this moment, when she walked across the stage yesterday, then, ceremoniously, turned her mortarboard tassel to the left. I lost it when she tossed the mortarboard into the air symbolically releasing the Phoenix!

Yes, my darling daughter, you certainly did fly!

Update three years later, LAM (Lauren) has worked successfully as a Recreation Therapist in the California State Department of Psychiatric hospitals and is currently back in San Diego with the Department of Corrections working in a State prison.

She is still flying!