September’s Sunday Stills color challenge is harvest gold.
“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
JRR Tolkein, The Fellowship of the Ring
As I enjoy an Eastern Washington Autumn with all the golden colors so typical in September, I recall countless years spent in Sacramento enjoying Autumn’s much slower start. Late August boasts field of sunflowers a few miles from our new home in Washington.
In Sacramento, September was the month to experience that golden sunlight that warmed the land. Sadly, I believe that golden light was caused by smoke from wildfires, and late summer dry conditions.
Citrine is also another choice for this week’s color challenge. The color of Citrine can range from a pale pastel yellow to a strong orangey-yellow.My sapphire wedding ring is an example of the citrine color.
While you contemplate your harvest gold and citrine images to share, please enjoy this gallery of images to get you started.
In a few weeks, the northern hemisphere falls back into standard time and the nights will get Llooonnger! The first day of Autumn is September 22. Folks in the southern hemisphere–I’ll bet you are looking forward to your spring! For now enjoy this gallery of sunrises and sunsets showing off shades golds and citrines.
Golden Moments of a Sedona Wedding
Thank you so much for your thoughts and comments last week as I shared some preview wedding photos of my step-daughter’s wedding in Sedona, Arizona. As promised, I’m sharing more images from the wedding that took place on Monday, August 23.
The bride and groom shared their vows, then signed the wedding forms in front of the iconic, golden-hued peaks of Sedona.
Golden moments at dinner. The bride contemplates her array of special beverages.
Golden hues of the L’Auberge de Sedona Resort lobby. Citrine Sedona rocks and me!
Please create a new post for the theme or link to a recent one.
Title your blog post a little differently than mine.
Include Sunday Stills tag in your post.
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.
I look forward to your gold and citrine images for this month’s color challenge. Next week’s theme is “Signs of Autumn (or Spring). Dawn’s Festival of Leaves prompt begins September 23, another great place to share your Autumn posts!
Bloggers Who Dared to Go Back
Sunday Stills is a wonderful community of bloggers and photographers who desire to connect with one another. Below are the last week’s links from bloggers who shared their favorite “going back” photos.
I’m back…as this week’s title might suggest. I can’t thank Natalie enough for hosting Sunday Stills in my absence and with her amazing themes, no less! Thank you to all my fellow bloggers who continued to participate in Sunday Stills and support Natalie while I was on my three-week break. That is if you can call two-out-of-three whirlwind weekends a break!
Subconsciously, I chose this theme a few weeks ago based on some random thought, but as we traveled the first week between August 20-24, I realized how perfect the theme is to highlight our whirlwind weekend.
Before I launch into my photos, “Going Back…” implies going back to something, whether a place you’ve visited before, going back “in time” as you view your photo archives, or how about going back “to the future?” Use any preposition to add to going back that suits you…going back …in, on, to, out, under, over, through, between, by, as far as, across, etc. I’m certain all you clever bloggers will come up with some spectacular ideas and images to match!
Why did I take a blogging break?
As summer progressed, I found myself getting way too busy at the end of August into early September. My gorgeous step-daughter decided on having her wedding sooner than later and she was gracious enough to ask us when we would be available. I mentioned that Hans had a high school football celebration on August 20 where he would be in San Diego for the event. Vanessa is a detail-oriented, highly organized, long-range planner like her step-mom (she refers to me as her “bonus mom”), so she did some checking for a wedding venue. She chose Sedona for a small parents-only wedding on Monday, August 23. I’m sure she and her groom saved scads of dollars by choosing a Monday in the low-season. Sedona is in the high desert of Arizona, two hours north of Phoenix, so yep, it’s hot there especially this time of year.
Between the football event, our wedding anniversary on August 22 (spent in Prescott and in Sedona), and the wedding, this was a crazy weekend that involved me planning three one-way flights and a rental car, securing five nights in the Pet Lodge for the pups and 15 other things that had to happen. Not to mention, I haven’t traveled by air for almost 2 years, which usually makes me a little anxious.
Since my buddy Marsha makes an appearance in this post today, I again was inspired by her Writers’ Quotes Wednesday challenge which is Writer’s Choice or Order. At first, I didn’t think I could combine “order” with “going back,” but, welp, I managed to (thanks, Google).
In order to move forward, you have to look back.
So let’s go back and take a partial look at our whirlwind weekends.
Going Back out on the Field for…High School Sports
My husband and I met at our high school near San Diego as 14-year-olds in 1974. We did not date but we were friends. Both of us were prominent athletes in our respective sports, me in swimming and track-and-field, he in football and soccer. Helix High School began its football program in 1951, and several former players organized a 70-year celebration honoring players from 7 decades and the coaches who inspired them.
Encouraged by friends on Facebook, we decided to make the trip for this one-of-a kind event.
These “old guys” from the 70s decade enjoyed going back onto the field and eventually watching the varsity football game after the celebration. Hans is front and center!
I’d love to go back to when we played as kids, but things change. And that’s the way it is.
Not only were there over 200 players there to receive honors, but alumni Bill Walton, of NBA-fame (playing for Portland Trailblazers and Boston Celtics), was also there to support his fellow Helix athletes.
For you American football buffs, two famous Helix alumni, Alex Smith and Reggie Bush, played football at Helix High school in the early 2000s and went on to become stars in the NFL.
According to Wikipedia, “While at Helix, Reggie played with the 2004 Heisman Trophy finalist and first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft Alex Smith. During his prep career with the Helix Highlanders, he won the prestigious Silver Pigskin trophy awarded by KUSI’s Prep Pigskin Report. Smith and Bush were later finalists for the 2004 Heisman Trophy, making it the first time a high school had two finalists at the same ceremony.”
Due to their busy schedules they were unable to attend, but how cool, huh?
My lovely daughter housed us overnight at her place and we enjoyed a fun but brief visit with her before we headed out Saturday morning to fly to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
Going Back to… Celebrating Friendships
We arrived in Phoenix and drove two hours to Prescott, AZ to stay with Marsha and her husband in their lovely new home! They treated us to a nice dinner downtown, then we strolled through the quaint streets in the warm summer evening.
We spent Sunday morning checking out Watson Lake and folks enjoying their kayaks and paddleboards. Marsha and her husband decided to drive along with us to Sedona to eat lunch at Butterfly Grill for our wedding anniversary. Such a fun day!
Speaking of friendships, long-time friend, Marcie, and her husband drove from Sacramento area to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho (one hour drive from our home), to attend a family wedding over the Labor Day holiday weekend. They joined us at our home for dinner and was the first time they had seen our new place! I miss this bestie—we have been friends since 1980, our kids are the same age and we played years of recreational softball together.
Going Back to a Place…Sedona, Arizona
After saying goodbye to Marsha and her husband, we headed for the L’Auberge de Sedona Spa and Resort, where the wedding would take place the next day, and where we would spend two nights. At 7pm, we met the wedding party to shuttle to Mariposa Latin Inspired Grill. A wonderful way to spend our 8th wedding anniversary!
We were quite excited to be able to go back and see Sedona again, after our snowy winter road trip in 2018-19. The Instagram post below gives you an idea of the spectacular views that awaited us this time around.
The road was new to me, as roads always are, going back.
Sarah Orne Jewett
In late December 2018, we pulled into the Rancho Sedona RV campground with high hopes of seeing the sights around Sedona for a couple of days. Little did we know how much snow would fall our second day, on December 31, with thousands of visitors driving into the area.
Our views went from this to this in less than 24 hours!
I was told that the rock formation was Snoopy Rock, but, scratching my head, I didn’t see it.
Because we were snowed in, we couldn’t even walk the main street through town that affords all the iconic views. Going back to Sedona, on the morning of the wedding, we strolled the street that boasted views and signage!
Turns out, from the campground, Snoopy Rock was hidden. Going back this time, I finally saw Snoopy from a higher vantage point, and boy was I excited! Do you see Snoopy as if he is laying on top of his doghouse?
For more about that winter road trip, you can check it our here.
A Sedona Wedding, Part 1
Many of you saw my post on Instagram and Facebook where I shared many images of my step-daughter’s wedding. On the morning of the wedding we enjoyed breakfast by the creek with the bride and groom, then did some shopping and sightseeing. My step-dot Vanessa’s mom was also there and helped her get ready.
Some fun facts about the wedding:
Vanessa and her new hubby live in Tempe, AZ. Sedona was the perfect venue for the wedding.
The groom’s parents live near Toronto, Canada, and travel restrictions were lifted in the nick of time.
Vanessa’s dog, Nala, a Shiba-Inu, was the ring bearer.
There were only 8 guests at the wedding: 5 parents and 3 special friends of the groom. A reception will be held next year in San Diego where most of the family lives.
The bride’s dress was an extra small and did not have to be altered in any way.
And yes, I cried when she was escorted down the steps and the aisle with her handsome papa.
Today I will share just a few photos of the wedding.
I had the pleasure of taking a bunch of photos of the wedding with my Samsung Galaxy Note 10+. I shared dozens of them with Vanessa. Next week, I will share more that happily coincide with the monthly color challenge Harvest Gold!
The small reception went late into the night. Thankfully the wedding venue was close to our room. However, all good times must come to an end, as the next morning, we were out the door at 4:45am to drive 2 hours back to Phoenix, turn in the rental car, and shuttle to the gate to fly home.
This map shows our itinerary, flying from Spokane, WA on Friday to San Diego. Saturday, from San Diego we flew to Phoenix, then drove to Prescott and Sedona. Our return trip on Tuesday, was back to Spokane with a short stop in Seattle.
Join me next week for Part 2 of this post which highlights the wedding, which in turn shows off the colors for next week’s monthly color challenge Harvest gold! I will share more about the rest of the two weeks. Quite a bit happened so please stay tuned.
I am pleased to be a guest on Denyse Whelan’s blog this week in her series, “Women of Courage.”
Denyse and I “met online” through blogging when she discovered my Sunday Stills photo challenge that I have hosted for over three years. Denyse is a resident of Eastern Australia and survivor of head and neck cancer. Like me, Denyse is a retired fellow educator and we hit it off with our interests in blogging and photography.
The following is an excerpt from her post.
What have you faced in your life where you have had to be courageous?
I’ve never really been afraid of anything, being raised in nature and the outdoors. My temperament requires that I exist without uncertainty and a lot of structure, so you can imagine how 2020 has treated me (and the rest of us)!
Before I begin, I want to acknowledge that everyone of us has shown immense courage and faith simply by existing in a world-wide pandemic, the likes none of us has ever seen.
But if I could define “courage,” I would describe that over the years, I have taken several life-changing leaps of faith, most recently:
At 55, having given 32 years of service to my long-term job, I retired with a decent pension while continuing to teach at the university and take on more classes. Have you ever retired? It takes a bit getting used to, even though I considered myself “semi-retired” at the time.
But more notably, my biggest act of courage was to buy property in another state, build a new home there and completely retire. Imagine leaving a successful teaching job after 10 years? Imagine packing up belongings in a house you’ve lived in for 32 years? And doing it all during a pandemic where uncertainty was the operative word of the year.
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.”
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.”
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!
“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.“
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!
“Leisure, some degree of it, is necessary to the health of every man’s spirit.”
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!!”
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!
You Are My Home
“Come to the woods for here is rest.“
One year ago almost to the day (May 2020), my husband and I stood together on our property for the first time.
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.
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.
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…
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!
I am pleased to be back to hosting the Sunday Stills Photo Challenge and appreciate everyone who took part in Hugh’s themes over the last two weeks!
We are back with what I thought was a difficult theme: Yin-Yang.
So difficult, I had to google it for definitions and hunt up some example images! I have had this on my theme list for over two years and I’m happy to finally use it.
“The yin, the dark swirl, is associated with shadows, femininity, and the trough of a wave; the yang, the light swirl, represents brightness, passion and growth.”
Above is the symbol commonly associated with Yin-Yang. Image from Pixabay.
In ancient Chinese philosophy, yin-yang is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
Dog brothers Aero and Gideon happened to flop down into this position after a busy day running on the beach. Gideon, the blonde one, is 6 months older than Aero, but belongs to my daughter and now lives with her in San Diego. Both dogs have the same parents, believe it or not.
Yin-Yang is also the balance between two opposites. Gideon is mellow and sweet, while Aero is a guardian personality, whose sharp, staccato warning bark can curl your hair.
But they love each other and I know they miss being together.
While visiting the Grand Canyon earlier this month, I swept my lens over the South Rim. I thought this photo had a yin-yang quality to it showing the lights and darks in nature.
My Lumix FZ300 has a 600-zoom travel lens and I captured what appears to be twins posing above a rocky outcrop over the canyon. Upon closer inspection, they wore opposite colors. Hint: these girls can barely be seen in the upper left quadrant of the above image. Love that zoom!
I shared these images a couple of years ago and thought they each have that yin-yang feeling.
With the holidays upon us, I thought I would make it easy for all of us at Sunday Stills this week to share a few of our favorite photos or some oldie-but-goodies. If you have a new favorite to share, well, go right ahead!
I went to Instagram and looked at past posts from 2019 to see which ones seemed to generate more likes than others.
I loved capturing this shot our first day back on the Big Island of Hawaii. The waves were big and the light was amazing. My cousin remarked that it reminded her of an old pic of our grandfather fishing off the rocks on the Northern California coast years ago. No wonder it caught my attention!
Dog and Butterfly
This is one of the first captures of my dog Brodie using my camera, Panasonic Lumix FZ300. The picture was taken from afar but I was able to crop it enough for a quality close-up. I was very pleased with the crispness of the water droplets suspended in time.
This pink lady’s image was captured on the side of the road in the Sierra Nevada foothills. I hadn’t yet played a lot with the macro setting on my camera and it didn’t disappoint. All this while still hopping around in my cast last July!
The heading “Dog and Butterfly” is in reference to one of my favorite songs by Heart’s Ann and Nancy Wilson.
Wild Road Trip
A rare sight to see snow covering the red rocks of Sedona. This amount of snow had not fallen in several years, (impeccable timing?) and the experience changed the trajectory of my entire trip earlier this year.
Because of the necessary detour, I was able to visit Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas, and still get my slot canyon experience as we walked through the “Narrows.”
I am happy to share a couple of my favorites, from my “Bucket-List Photos” in 2018. Whenever a photographer captures “the one” (or more) iconic image, it is worth crowing about!
Moon captured with the camera in the manual setting.
My best live-action sports picture taken at full zoom in 40mph winds.
After our winter road trip last January, driving home from dropping off the trailer, we stopped for a few minutes in Walnut Grove, a small, quaint Sacramento River Delta town. With the fog and still water, the dock appears to float in space!
All images in this post were taken with the Lumix camera instead of my trusty Samsung cell phone. It is probably why these are among my favorites, because of the high quality only a “real” camera can provide.
Show us your favorite photos from 2019 or before. Share your other creative ideas in the form of your favorite poem, song, or story, too.
I’m traveling in the Pacific Northwest as you read this post, so please be patient as I may be a little slow to read, share and comment on your posts.
Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating this week!
This week’s Sunday Stills photo challenge is all about showcasing your favorite sports and/or hobbies. Your images of sports might show others participating or yourself engaged in one. The same is true for your hobbies. Please share any image depicting doing what you love and engaging in leisure!
I will start you off with some of my examples.
Hobby 1: Gardening
Most of my summer was confined to my backyard due to foot surgery and lack of mobility afterward. Many of my photos featured my new-ish hobby of gardening, with great success in growing (yes, and bragging about) my two favorite flowers: plumeria and sunflowers.
I was so excited to grow the Tall Sungold or Teddy Bear from seeds this season, shown in the above image.
My sunflowers are just about done, but even as they go to seed there is still beauty and hope for the next season!
My hearty little plumeria plant is still blooming and I hope by next season that the other three plants will reveal their blooms.
Hobby 2: Photography
I take at least 200 photos a week and perhaps like you, I share a few on my blog and on Instagram and Facebook.
Since I am not yet interested in trying to sell my photos, freely sharing through these creative outlets simply makes me happy. I have enjoyed much positive feedback and encouragement about my photography (and I am sure you have, too)!
One day, I may print images on canvases and sell them in local craft fairs. But for now, these are a fun and creative outlets to help me enjoy my hobby.
I enjoy seeing the astounding photographic talents on Instagram and on WordPress from the fellow bloggers who link with Sunday Stills Photo Challenge each week.
Hobby 3: Writing
I have mostly finished the first draft of my next book, No Excuses Fitness. My daughter, an aerospace engineer and CrossFit enthusiast, is reading it with a critical eye and has already made some excellent suggestions and edits!
I would have never thought about self-publishing if it not been for my blog. I have met many self-published authors through blogging and am now a fan of their published works.
Hobby 4: Caring for my Dogs
I don’t know if caring for my fur-babies counts as a hobby since I consider Aero and Brodie part of the family, but they do provide us with endless shenanigans and smiles!
At the Sacramento River Delta a few weekends ago, I enjoyed photographing Aero chasing a ball on the beach, while making sure Brodie chased sticks in the river. They know the word “delta” and stop in their tracks when I utter the word.
Sport 1 & 2: SUP and Windsurfing
When I met my husband 10 years ago, I had no idea my life would have ever been this exciting! His passion for windsurfing has opened unexpected doors to leisure pastimes I had never considered. He remembered I was athletic in high school, so it was natural for me to jump into windsurfing and stand-up paddling.
I have not windsurfed at all this summer and I’m told there were many non-windy days. I prefer SUPing anyway!
The next evolution of board sports is foiling, giving board sports enthusiasts another way to enjoy these sports. Riding on this foil lifts the board out of the water and creates a smooth ride even on a light-wind day.
Here, you can get an idea of the special board and the size of the foil.
Brodie keeps a watchful eye as his “dad” prepares to launch!
Hobby 5: Weekend Camping and Beyond
We have had our travel trailer since spring 2018 and have made excellent use of it, by camping two summers in the delta at our windsurf club’s campground. Alas, the season ends this month and we move our trailer back to storage. However, we hope to camp with the trailer a couple of weekends this fall, perhaps driving north to Lake Siskiyou or to Lake Tahoe before it gets too cold.
We are repeating our winter road trip in late December into January as we head south to San Diego and into Arizona and Nevada. If you are new to my blog, you can read more about our travel travails from earlier this year!
Today I am catching up with my own Sunday Stills photo challenge. I missed the first two weeks in June due to travel and foot surgery, while Hugh graciously hosted.
If you recall, the first two June themes were “edge” and “unusual.”
I wanted to take this opportunity to share a little about the beginning of June as I offer my interpretations of edge and unusual for Sunday Stills.
The first weekend in June, on the edge of my foot surgery, scheduled for June 4th, I traveled to San Diego to celebrate my youngest brother’s 50th birthday.
The day before the party, my daughter and I had lunch at the Bali Hai restaurant in San Diego’s Shelter Island. The last time I was here I was 4 years old attending my great-grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.
During the entire weekend, my thoughts and subsequent anxiety drifted toward my pending surgery in a few days. My daughter captured this rare moment of contentment as I enjoyed the ambiance and adult beverage.
After my brother’s birthday celebration, he hosted a small after-party at a nearby hotel in the San Diego harbor. After scurrying around with my daughters and their boyfriends, we found a place to park.
We stopped a moment to take a few pictures and I caught this unusual sight with my cell phone of a dark figure fishing off the edge of the jetty framed against the San Diego night-time skyline. Unusual because it was nearly 10:00 pm, but even more so when the fisherman walked by me and took off HER hoodie!
Once back home from San Diego, I enjoyed a quiet Monday, slightly on edge as I contemplated the next day’s surgery. As I settled on my sofa with my coffee, I caught this sight of water vapor streaming off our fence in the backyard. The morning sun caught everything just right. Rather unusual.
To say the least, June has proven to be an unusual month that has kept me on the edge.
Join me this Sunday for June’s final theme, the Great Outdoors!
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!
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
During the holiday season, it is nearly impossible to find something red to photograph, right?
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.
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!
Macro red light
Red Piggies in a row
Whether or not your image is holiday-themed, show us something red for Sunday Stills!
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!
December is the time of year when we experience a variety of traditions. Some are long-standing, while others may be brand-new.
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.
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.
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
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!”
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!
This week I have much to be thankful for as I prepare for Thanksgiving.
While we were on the road over the Veteran’s Day holiday weekend visiting family in Eastern Washington, I learned from Facebook about the devastating wildfires raging in northern and southern California.
We experienced the first snow of the season in Spokane while we read about the fire’s devastation 90 miles north of where we live in California. As some friends marked themselves safe, others posted about friends and family members evacuating and losing their homes.
The young woman who stayed at our house to dog sit at the last minute texted to tell me that her extended family evacuated from Chico area and lost their homes to the wildfires.
Within minutes of reading this news and responding to inquiries about our safety, I read about the passing of my favorite high school teacher Mrs Lee, with whom I celebrated her 90th birthday party in 2016. Read my previous post here.
Shaken at all this distressing news, I simply sat and quietly wept.
We flew to Spokane to visit my mother-in-law we call Mama Hella. My husband recently heard of the passing of his Aunt (father’s sister) who lived in Germany. He felt compelled to fly up for a visit to see his mom and the rest of this family.
Mama Hella is 87 and lives in a care home. Her health has declined dramatically since my husband saw her a year ago. He visited her every day while we were there, and all three brothers got together for photo ops with her, perhaps the last ones.
It is so easy to take our everyday lives for granted.
I’m thankful to our family for hosting us on this hastily planned trip north.
I’m thankful for the last-minute dog sitter.
I’m thankful for the teacher who dedicated her life to educating and inspiring generations of students.
I am thankful for being able to see my mother-in-law, and soon my father at Thanksgiving and my own mother at Christmas time.
I’m thankful to God for my own life and the time He has given me to spend these last days, weeks, months, years with our parents.
As you share the theme “thankful” for Sunday Stills this week, what are you thankful for?
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.
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).
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!
Wintery frost along Hwy 84 in Northern Oregon
Crazy clouds along Route 66 near Victorville CA
Morning glow on the I-5
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!