Sunday Stills: December #Chill is in the Air

Frozen Autumn Leaf

Today we welcome the first day of the last month of this decade! Traveling back from our Thanksgiving holiday road trip to Spokane Washington, we certainly got our fill of chilly weather!

road to Spokane
Wintery frost along Hwy 84 in Northern Oregon

Chill December brings the sleet, blazing fire and Christmas treat.

Sara Coleridge
icy twigs

The icy twigs you see in the above image demonstrates the chill of a foggy, icy morning. Frozen fog…”frog”?

I am used to “cold” Northern California weather this time of year with average daytime temperatures holding at 50 degrees. Although it does not snow in Sacramento, the night-time temps easily drop to freezing for most of the month. I know many of you scoff at such warm winter temps, and you should!

Fewer than 90 miles away in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the ski season got off to a slow start. With an unusually warm fall and little rain, the slopes are just now singing their siren song after a winter storm hit the west.

snowy bough
Fresh snow graces this lovely bough

Technically, it is still Autumn until the Winter Solstice on December 21, but this poor leaf experienced the December chill a little early.

Frozen Autumn Leaf

Welcome and please visit five bloggers who were new to Sunday Stills in November. Travel with Tech Blog; The Platinum Line, Sharing Thoughts, The Photography of David and Victoria Slotto, and Sharon McConnel Redux.

Please visit the Sunday Stills page for December’s themes. There will be no challenge on Sunday, December 29.

I am looking forward to your chilly images. If you reside in the warm southern hemisphere, please share one from your archives.

Until next week,

© 2019 Copyright-All rights

Sunday Stills: The People’s National #Parks

Half Dome View from Glacier Point

Did you know that today, Sunday, August 25th is the National Park Service Anniversary? So what, right? The NPS celebrates this day along with two other days with FREE entrance to all US national parks!

“For the first time in human history, land—great sections of our national landscape—was set aside, not for kings or noblemen or the very rich, but for everyone, for all time.”

From the National Parks: America’s Best Idea by Dayton Duncan, Ken Burns

The last time I was near a national park was during our winter road trip to Southern California, Arizona, and Nevada. We were thisclose to the Grand Canyon, but icy roads, unexpected snow, AND the US government shut-down prevented us from getting to it safely.

One of these days! But we did visit Nevada’s Valley of Fire State Park and I got my photography fix.

Slot Canyon Hike
Almost Antelope Canyon

Here are a few photos of the National Parks I have visited. After 25 separate visits in my lifetime to Yosemite National Park, I may have a few pics! Here are some of my favorites.

A view of Mono Lake (National Monument) in the Eastern Sierra Nevada along Hwy 395. You can just make out the road in the bottom right that winds through the town of Lee Vining and connects with Hwy 120, the gateway to Yosemite through the Tioga Pass entrance.

View of Mono Lake

As much as I thrill to the iconic image of Yosemite’s Half Dome located in the Valley…

Half Dome View from Glacier Point
Half Dome View from Glacier Point

…my heart belongs to Tuolumne Meadows in the high country a few miles in from the Tioga Pass entrance. At almost 10,000 feet in elevation, the air is crisp, the water insanely blue, and the tourists are few!

Dana Fork of the Tuolumne River runs near the campground (Yosemite National Park)

For more on National Parks, consider visiting my previous post NPS Celebrates 100 Years.

Moving away from the North American continent, Hawaii boasts several national parks and recreation areas.

In January 2018, before the Kilauea crater and nearby vents erupted again, we spent a day walking around Hawaii Volcanoes National Park near Hilo on the Big Island.

Kilauea Crater
Steam rises from the very active Kilauea Crater (Painnt filter applied)

On an earlier trip to Oahu in 2006, I also was fortunate to visit Pearl Harbor National Memorial and see the sunken remains of the USS Arizona. Within this structure is the huge memorial plaque with the names of those who perished.

I have been fortunate to visit a variety of national parks, monuments and recreation areas, mostly in California, all US public lands. I never will forget my parents’ insistence on visiting these locations during my life.

  • Alcatraz Island in San Francisco
  • Cabrillo National Monument (Point Loma, San Diego)
  • Death Valley
  • Devil’s Postpile Nat’l Monument in Mammoth Lakes
  • Fort Point Presidio and Presidio of San Francisco, Golden Gate park
  • Lassen Volcanic
  • Mojave Nat’l Preserve
  • Muir Woods Nat’l Monument North San Francisco Bay
  • Pony Express Trail (came through Old Sacramento),
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
  • Yosemite National Park

Even if you miss the free admission day, paying the entrance fee for a day or a week is worth more to you in the long term than paying your HMO’s co-pay when you must visit the doctor for effects of lack of exercise!

Have you heard of ParkRx? Doctors in South Dakota get these prescriptions through a new program run by the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks and the state‘s Department of Health. For me, I would love to get a prescription to visit a park rather than drugs to lower my cholesterol!

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”

John Muir, Our National Parks

Whether you live in the US or another country, why is it so important to visit our national lands? Because someone with vision understood the vital importance of setting aside public lands for all of us to enjoy and for future generations.

Next time you visit a National Park, a public playground or any other public leisure space, say a quick thank you to those visionaries: Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir, Jane Addams, Steven T Mather, among many.

I dearly love this image of my brother-in-law’s posture as he takes in his first view of Tuolumne Meadows.

Yosemite is the People's Park

This post is partially inspired by Snow’s Friendly Friday Photo Challenge: Tourism.

I am taking a short break to get caught up with school prep and other exciting things, so there is NO photo challenge for September 1, Labor Day weekend. Thank you to all who participate each week!

Sunday Stills resumes September 8. September themes are up on my Sunday Stills Photography page

Which national parks, monuments or public lands have you visited so far?

VIVA Las Vegas: A Positive End to the Winter Road Trip

VIva Las VEgas Graphic
VIva Las VEgas Graphic

This is the final installment of our Winter Road Trip to Arizona and Nevada. To read how it began, click Part One and Part Two .

Once I cancelled the rest of our reservations on New Year’s Day while still in Sedona, and we agreed on the decision to end our road trip with a few days’ stay in Las Vegas, I caught myself humming that Elvis Presley tune “Viva Las Vegas.” I felt a load off my mind as we waited for the sun to melt the snow so we could leave Rancho Sedona RV park. There was still significant snow through which to drive.

View of Rancho Sedona Campground
Pink arrow marks our trailer/truck

Afternoon Arrival to Sam’s Town RV Park

After a six-hour drive from Sedona to Las Vegas, we pulled into Sam’s Town RV Park at about 3pm. Check in was swift and we received a free night’s stay for booking 5 nights. We also got casino discounts for Sam’s Town Casino a few steps away from the RV park. Although we missed happy hour due to unhooking and setting up, we ate dinner at the food court using some of the discounts. Of course, we played a little at the casino and I managed to break even.

Sams Town RV Park
A nice spot on the corner!

The next day, Thursday, we mostly did nothing but acquaint ourselves with the park amenities, which included two dog runs, three restrooms with free showers, clubhouse, pool and a hot tub. We then shopped for a variety of items, visiting Wal-Mart (ugh), Costco and Sportsman’s Warehouse.

Note to self: Don’t shop at Wal-mart during the holidays, especially in the afternoon. Need I say more?? The place was so crowded I actually got hit by another shopper’s cart! We attempted to buy tire chains, but the genius cashier informed us they only had one box left which contained one chain. “Don’t you buy them that way?” she asked, then her snarky comment after, “we don’t need chains in the desert.” Had I cared at that point I would have showed her a photo of snowy Sedona, but I believe she wouldn’t have known where Sedona was anyway.

What to Do in Las Vegas

Other than gambling, what else is there to do in Las Vegas?

On my list was a trip to the Hoover Dam and maybe nearby Lake Mead. I also wanted to shop for some turquoise jewelry. I still wanted to try to drive back to the Grand Canyon, but the roads were still iffy and the holiday crowds were still around. I also had wanted to visit Red Rock National Monument just west of Vegas.

A funny thing happened when I looked on Google. I found Valley of Fire State Park just 60 miles north-east! It looked very similar to Antelope Canyon with its twisted and striated red sandstone rock formations! And a slot canyon to boot!

The Valley of Fire

Friday was the day we planned to drive to Valley of Fire State Park. What a relief to drive on dry roads!

When we arrived, we stopped at the Visitor Center and then drove along the suggested route. The red sandstone formations are incredible in both size, variety and colors.

Posing in Valley of Fire Arch

Nevada State Parks have few restrictions on bringing dogs on the hikes with us (unlike many trails in the National Parks). Someone along the sandy, winding trail described Aero as agile!

Red Rocks and Dogs
Hans with Brodie and agile Aero!

Since I didn’t get to tour Antelope Canyon in Northern Arizona, we headed for the White Domes area which boasts its own slot canyon! It did not disappoint. In the photo below, you get the idea of the sheer size by looking at the tiny hikers in the lower right corner.

Red Cliffs
Immensity of the slot canyon

The holidays crowds were soon out and about, and we ended our sightseeing in the early afternoon. There was still so much to see! Check out the website here.

It was a bright sunny day and the temperature rose to 66 degrees! What a difference from just two days before in Sedona! Isn’t that how winter weather in the Southwest desert is supposed to be?

We got back in time to enjoy the Friday night steak and seafood buffet. We raced over thinking the lines would be ridiculous, but no one was in line! The weekend after a major holiday like Christmas and New Year’s sees more people staying home. Lucky for us!

The food was great. I noticed our waitress wearing turquoise rings and she told me she bought them in Boulder City, near Hoover Dam. I added that spot to my list!

Another Blogger Meet-Up

Terri and Maria
Lunch with Maria in Las Vegas

We met Maria and her cute daughter for lunch on Saturday and had a great time chatting about how she liked living in Las Vegas. Maria had recently moved there from Northern California, a couple of hours north of Sacramento. In case you’re wondering, Maria is Ms Zen from Sagittarius Viking! Check out her recent visit to Valley of Fire State Park.

After lunch and still on my quest to find turquoise jewelry, we attempted to drive to a couple of pawn shops and GPS sent us right through the Vegas strip! Just as crowded as I remembered!

Of course, sticking to our theme of winter weather, it rained Saturday afternoon and evening. It even snowed on Mt Charleston!

The Dam People in Boulder City

Boulder Dam Hotel

Sunday, our last full day, was spent driving about 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas to a town called Boulder City. This town was originally built in the 1920s to house the workers and their families who built the Hoover Dam. Boulder City is one of two Nevada Cities that does not allow gambling!

Hans loves antique shopping and found a bonanza of goodies in the local antique shops. I found some beautiful sterling silver turquoise rings at an antique store and at a jewelry specialty store. The store owners were so helpful, honest and friendly!

Turquoise Ring Collection

It was a cold sunny day with a bit of wind. We thought we might drive over to Hoover Dam, but we simply ran out of time.

Saying Goodbye

Once we got back, I started packing the non-essentials while we still had daylight to get ready for Monday’s long drive back to Sacramento.

Our last evening was spent warming up leftovers for dinner in the microwave and utilizing the hot tub at the clubhouse. A fun and fitting end to our 12-day Arizona/Nevada road trip.

Sam's Town Sign

Our drive home took 11 hours. We drove home the same way we came, through I-15, back up through Kramer Junction and Tehachapi Pass with no incidents. This was our view of the Sierra Nevadas at a rest stop on Hwy 99 in California’s Central Valley, a few hours from home.

Snowy mountains
A look at the snowy Sierras on the drive home.

As I reflected on this road trip, I was extremely disappointed that I missed out on seeing Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks, as well as camping at Lake Powell, which was the gateway for visiting Monument Valley, Navajo Nation and Antelope Canyon.

We learned to be flexible and to go with the flow. Arizona is not very far from where we live in Northern California, and we intend to go back and try again, whether we pull the trailer, or drive and stay in hotels.

The Positives of Our Road Trip?

  • Enjoying the Arizona desert area and appreciating its beauty
  • Spending time with two bloggers and their families
  • Getting and taking advice from folks who have traveled there
  • Learning about the trailer and its features
  • Becoming a better traveler by paying attention to surroundings and using technology for fuel stops
  • Feeling a sense of peace as hard decisions had to be made to change the itinerary
  • Discovering more about the Las Vegas area with its surrounding desert beauty and points of interest
  • Learning to expect the unexpected!

The Sunday Stills Photo Challenge is hosted by Hugh this week. Sunday Stills will be back in my hands beginning Feb 3. More Valley of Fire photos!

Sharing today’s photos for Snow’s Friendly Friday photo challenge!

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Has anything beyond your expectations ever happened to you while traveling?

Travel Travails of Our Winter Road Trip: Part 2, Snowed-in Sedona

Travel Travails Sedona
Travel Travails Sedona

Those of you who pay attention to my blog see that I am posting on a Sunday, but not for Sunday Stills! I’ve left that in the capable hands of Hugh this week. I will be back to officially posting for Sunday Stills on February 3rd!

As I continue to share my thoughts on my Arizona Road Trip, here is Part Two as we travel to Sedona, Arizona. In case you missed Part One, click here to see how it all began!

Sedona Sunday

Sedona Red Rocks
Welcome to Sedona!

Late Sunday morning, we left our new friends in Phoenix and were on the road again; next stop Sedona, Arizona. This was only a two-hour trip and we pulled in about 1:30pm. We had a great campsite at Rancho Sedona RV Park.

Truck and Trailer
Campsite First Day in Sedona

As we sat in our lounge chairs in the warm-ish sunshine sipping our favorite beverages, we eventually strolled over to the nearby galleries and restaurants less than a mile away. Chatting with folks we discovered there was to be a bit of snow the following day, which was New Year’s Eve day. Locals assured us that occasionally 1-2 inches of snow falls but melts quickly.

What to do for New Year’s Eve?

Monday morning, we woke up to gray, overcast skies. We needed to drive into the nearby town center of Sedona to pick up groceries, some propane and buy more gas.

We left the RV campground in the truck at 9:30am aware of the beginnings of snowflakes gently falling. 90 minutes later, the one main road out of Sedona with all its round-abouts was covered in at least three inches of snow and snarled traffic.

As New Year’s tourists’ cars slid all over the roads, we inched along as best we could. It took us one hour to travel one mile. By then the snow was practically in white-out conditions. I told my hubby we could have just stayed home and driven to Lake Tahoe and had the same experience!

By the way, my husband is an excellent driver, is very careful and does not take chances, staying far away from other drivers when possible. I can’t understand drivers who tailgate in the snow. Do they not see the huge hitch on the back of our truck?

The road to our RV park was uphill and covered in snow. Try as we might, we couldn’t drive safely up the hill to turn into the road to the park. Hans carefully backed the truck down onto the street near the Art galleries and parked.

While we were attempting to carefully back down the street, a huge bus-like RV was stopped just above us on the same road near the RV park entrance. He and his wife were stuck as well. In his attempt to back down the hill, his RV slid uncontrollably to the left side of the narrow road and was thankfully stopped from tumbling over the five-foot embankment by the trees lining the road.

RV and person
RV slid to the wrong side of the road! That is me walking up the hill later in the day.

Sidenote here: I’m linking this post to the new Friendly Friday Photo Challenge hosted by Something to Ponder About. This week’s theme is pathways. Quite a perplexing pathway in this photo, indeed!

To get back to our trailer, I had to hoof it back with one dog and two bags of groceries. Yes, I trudged through a snowy field, while snow stuck to my glasses. As I prepared to walk back to pick up the rest of our stuff, Hans came walking in with a large propane tank on one shoulder and Brodie on the leash in his free hand. That dog LOVED the snow.

Snow was expected to continue all day. At least 6-7 inches accumulated, stranding us for two more days. Other campers were stuck as well, and the roads were closed into Sedona. Even the RV park office staff couldn’t drive home.

Locals say that it hadn’t snowed like this in 30 years.

In case you think I’m making this up, here is proof:

“It may freeze at night in Sedona in the winter, but NEVER during the day. Snow is rare, but breathtaking when it happens. And pictures must be taken quickly because the bright Arizona sun usually melts it away by day’s end. Almost no resident of Sedona owns a snow shovel.” Quote from google about Sedona

Here is another link: It’s Snowing in Arizona

Trailer in Snow
Snowed in!

Travel Travail #4. Winter Storms Happen! Although I checked the weather conditions religiously before our trip and every day thereafter, the entire West and Southwest were in the beginnings of a cold winter storm.

Travel Travail #5. Buy chains for the vehicle! If we had suspected any type of snow on this trip, we would have bought chains for the truck in Sacramento. The Ford truck pulls the trailer like a champ in ordinary conditions, but it is not a 4-wheel drive. Oh, and pick up chains for the trailer wheels, too! Try buying chains in the desert.

What did we do for New Year’s Eve? The office had shelves of DVDs to borrow free, so we got into our PJs, made dinner and snuggled up on our sofa bed with the dogs and watched old movies! Happy New Year 2019!

Decisions, Decisions

There was no possible way for us to leave Sedona on January 1st with so much snow still on the ground, especially in our RV park and on roads leading in and out.

We had reservations to camp at Lake Powell along the Arizona/Utah border, near Page, Arizona beginning January 1st. This leg of the trip was intended to keep us there for five days, where we could drive over to Monument Valley, see sights in the Navajo Nation, and hike the Antelope Canyon (where I also had reservations for Jan 4).

After checking the weather conditions again, we saw the temperatures would stay between 10-30 degrees for those days in Lake Powell. We were already tired of the cold and snow, and Hans was worried about black ice on the roads. A lot of this next leg involved driving and I did not want to keep feeling anxiety every time we got into the truck.

I still had a short window to cancel the current reservations with full refunds. Tearfully, I cancelled our Antelope Canyon Tours, then called to cancel the RV park reservation at Lake Powell. I felt like a huge failure, but a sense of relief washed over us, and the decision was made to end our trip a few days early and just head straight to Las Vegas as soon as we could leave Sedona.

View this post here by Ingrid and you can see what I missed!

The second to last leg of the road trip was to include staying in an RV park near the Grand Canyon. From Sedona, the Grand Canyon is about a two-hour drive. Office staff at Rancho Sedona cautioned us about the conditions at the Grand Canyon.

Travel Travail #6. Road Closures. The US government shutdown was in full swing, closing many national parks, including roads and limiting services.

Although we could have parked the trailer along the route and tried to drive to the Grand Canyon, even if just for a few hours, we were told the roads were clogged with holiday travelers and bathrooms were not being serviced. Once in the national park, and still having to shell out the $30 entry fee, we were not interested in navigating through the confused holiday traffic and potentially unsafe road conditions.

I even texted Ingrid and mentioned we might head back to Phoenix for a couple of days!

Talented Travel Trailer

As it is my habit to make lemonade out of life’s “lemons,” we were delighted to discover the ease of which our trailer kept us comfortable and secure. Our 27-foot Jayco Jayflight boasts 24 feet of living space with a dining area slide out. We had plenty of room to relax, even with the dogs, while being stuck inside as it continued to snow outside. I’m glad I brought lots of blankets for our bed!

The propane tanks were easy to fill allowing for unlimited heat during the cold nights. So far, both RV parks had full hookups, although the wi-fi connections were slow. Using the trailer commode during the night with full flush functions was amazing. Trudging to restrooms at night is not fun in snowy, icy conditions. We opted not to use our shower, as it made a good area to hold our wet shoes and coats. The RV park restrooms came equipped with hot showers and we took full advantage!

During our summer weekends at the Sacramento Delta, we basically “boondock” or dry camp, as there are no hook-ups on Sherman Island, so we had limited prior experience as to how talented our trailer is! That is where the 100-watt solar panel comes in handy to power up our mobile devices and operate the lights.

Sedona Surrounds Us in Red

Despite the difficulties with the weather, I managed to get some spectacular shots of some of the red rock formations. A beautiful rock formation towers near the entrance to the RV park.

Sedona Red Rocks
Rock formation on Friday
Snowy Red Rocks
Same rock formation on Saturday
The snow really makes the red pop!

We had originally planned to end our trip with two nights’ stay in Las Vegas then head home to Sacramento. As I cancelled the remaining reservations, I called the Sam’s Town RV park and made reservations for four nights.

Snow on Red Rock of Sedona
Snow on Red Rocks of Sedona

We finally left Sedona on Wednesday, January 2. The roads were clear, but a few icy patches remained. We drove back to I-17 then connected to the I-40 at Flagstaff (elevation 7000 feet). Flagstaff was another spot I had wanted to explore…maybe next time! Although we worried about the roads, the main highways were mostly dry and well maintained, and we pulled into Las Vegas around 3:00pm.

Travel Travail #7. Expect the unexpected and go to your Plan B. Stuff happens, weather is unpredictable, and safety is number 1.

Again, 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.

Guess what? Las Vegas was wonderful!

Since the travel travails end here, I will save our Vegas experience in part three of my next post!

Until then, as they say, Safe Travels!

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!


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!





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

Weekend Coffee Share: Road Trip North


Morning glow on I-5

If we were having coffee this morning, you would have to ride in the passenger seat of my car as we travel north to Oregon, from California. Shall we stop at Starbucks or maybe 7-11 to get you a cup?

I love road trips and I love to drive. The drive from Sacramento to Portland, Oregon is about 8 to 9 hours. I am alone this trip (except for you, my phantom coffee-share riders).

My daughter is moving to Salem for a few months to participate in her recreation therapy internship at a psychiatric hospital. She will move back home with me in late December. Once she completes the internship, she officially ends her college career. Soon after, she sits for the CTRS (Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist) exam.

A late Fall view of Mt Shasta see from I-5 heading north toward Oregon.

So I am driving along with her (she has her own car), to help her move, and to visit some family for a few days before I drive back home.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the last two weeks have been busy. Don’t we all write this? I guess we’re all busy! My busy-ness has been in traveling to Spokane for a family wedding two weeks ago, then last week, to San Diego for the premier of Above-Time, my “brother-in-law’s” fashion accessory line. He hired me to be his official blogger, so it was a business trip. Here is the link to “Bowties Against Bullies.”

Other than the weather being HOT in both locations, visiting family and experiencing a change of scenery was delightful!

Most of the month of August, I have limited my blogging to photo challenges, some leisure quotes and a few coffee shares. I still have managed to follow several new blogs and get over 50 followers! So much for me taking a blogging break  that I wrote about a few weeks ago. I do faithfully follow over 80 blogs via e-mail and I enjoy reading each one. In WordPress I check out the reader and catch up with other bloggers.

Do you tweet? Many bloggers, including myself use TwitterFeed. I recently started using this app that autotweets selected bloggers using your RSS feed. Check it out if you are interested in growing your blog or website.

What is that exactly? I have heard of it and…oh yes, I did retire. If we were having coffee I would tell you that my eight short months of being retired will be over soon. Most of you know that I retired from public service (recreation and parks) after 32 years. You can read more about “Why I Had to Retire.”

I was able to retire from my full-time day job because I am a part-time lecturer at a university in Northern California, teaching in the recreation and parks major. When you retire from public service from CalPERS (public employees retirement system) there are rules governing part-time work in the public sector. Teaching at a state university is still within the public sector, therefore I had to take a six-month break. I go back into the university classroom beginning August 31.

I guess my Baby Boomer generation workaholic tendencies have surfaced. I mentioned that I wrote some sponsored posts, for which I got paid. As part of my consulting business Windigen Consulting, I was hired to facilitate a workshop for a management group on “How to Communicate with the Other three Generations.” This all happened this past week. Here is an example of some of the information I presented: “Workplace Comparisons: How To Say It.”

Life at Home
I almost forgot what home was about this month! My suitcase and I are having a very intimate relationship. It’s been living at the foot of the bed half full for three weeks, as I pack and unpack.

The room addition is coming along just fine. More on that soon!

I just celebrated my two year wedding anniversary. Poor hubby has to stay home and work today and all this week. This trip now and the one to San Diego last week had to be taken without him. And I haven’t been to the delta since August 1st.

I sure enjoyed my weekly coffee share with you. I hope your days are filled with fun and excitement and perhaps a few moments of quiet. I will be surrounded by my large family of cousins from Washington and Oregon this week, so I’m thinking my next round of quiet time will be on the drive home later in the week. I look forward to listening to my new audiobooks!

Have a fabulous week!

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