Wednesday, October 31, 2007

SURVIVORMAN OR MAN VS WILD

Take your choice of Survivorman or Man vs Wild. We absolutely felt we were being put through some kind of survival test today when we visited the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. It is the largest NWR in the lower 48 states at 1.5 million acres, but small in comparison to the ANWR (Arctic NWR) in Alaska which is 19 million acres.


The DNWR is only about 25 miles north of Las Vegas. It is real desert, cactus, yucca, Joshua Trees, sage, and not much more. The temps were in the upper 70's when we headed out towards these mountains on the horizon.
The information we read said it was dirt roads. Huge misnomer! These are rocks, not dirt. And the road only got worse along the 47 miles that we drove across the area. Which, by the way, took almost 5 hours!

About half way into the trip we topped out at about 6,600 feet. The vegetation changed dramatically from the shoulder high yucca and Joshua Trees to the huge Ponderosa Pines. The temps were down to 60 fresh, cool degrees. There was a campground up here with an outhouse. We were thinking that it would be fun to spend a night way back here in the wilderness, but no RV could make it up here, and I don't tent anymore, so guess we won't find out!
The road down the other side was actually rougher and narrower as it wound through the juniper and pinion pines. Rocks, rocks, and more rocks.
The scenery was beautiful, but we were disappointed that we were in a wildlife refuge and we saw no wildlife. Unless you count one roadrunner and about 8 little black birds that we couldn't identify.
Looking back down the road we had traveled, we realized we had started on the backside of those far mountains. It was quite the adventure and I'm hoping we didn't do any damage to the brand new tires on the truck!

23RD PSALM

This video is precious. Check it out for a little uplift to your day. Who says little kids can't memorize!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

HOOVER DAM

This was not my idea. I am scared of heights, I don't trust man made things, and after I heard the FOX NEWS report about all the unsafe dams in the US, I said I would never go across this or any other large dam. We drove over to Hoover Dam this afternoon, only about 30 miles from where we are, and my thought was that I would walk around the Visitor Center while Ernie took the tour. We parked in the ramp, walked down the steps and across the street and into the big double doors, right into the line to buy tour tickets! I said I didn't want to do it, but Ernie, as he always does, said "it will be fine!" He says that about everything and it drives me crazy.

The first part was fine, just a movie about the making of the dam. It was actually quite interesting, but was over too soon and we were herded out of the theatre and unto 2 huge elevators by the dam guide. (Hey, that's what they called her!) Thirty-five or more people, squeezed into an elevator, heading 500 feet straight down into the bowels of the earth is not my idea of a party and I was close to losing it. We exited the elevator into one of the four tunnels that had been blasted into the canyon walls to divert the water while they were building the dam. I could feel the pathway trembling beneath my feet and thoughts of the dam busting or an earthquake ran through my mind. The dam guide said it was just the Colorado River rushing through the tunnel below our feet. Just the Colorado River! Real comforting.

Back into the elevators and up 25 feet to the level where the generators were. This was a big, open, airy room, and my claustrophobia eased some as I looked at the huge machinery and at the beautiful Art Deco tiles on the floor. But this, too, was over too soon and it was back into the elevator for a trip to the top. Yes! The top, fresh air, blue sky.......and the blue Colorado River 753 feet below me!

We walked part of the way across the dam in the hot sun, and after taking a couple of pictures we returned to the safety of the rock solid canyon walls and the parking ramp where we had parked the truck. Remember. This was not my idea of how to spend a Tuesday afternoon!
It's an incredibly long way from top to bottom.
Lake Mead, formed by the damming of the river, is quite low this year.
The flow emerging from the other side looks quite peaceful as it returns to it's journey down toward Arizona.

FOR GRANDSON JACOB

Happy Halloween! Paris is appearing tomorrow night.....scary!
A little shop with advertisements that Elton John is appearing soon.
The sign in front of a watch shop. I do need a new watch.....buy me one?
And then we can shop at Gucci, Giorgio Armani, Prada, Tiffany, and all the other high end shops in this shopping area. I didn't even dare walk through the doors of those shops!

WALKING THE STRIP IN SIN CITY

I think the Mandalay Bay is a classy tasteful looking building, by day or by night.

The Sphinx at the Luxor.
New York New York. I was disappointed with the night view of New York. I thought it would be more "New York" looking than it was.

The beautiful dancing waters display.
One of my favorites, the Bellagio.
The Eiffel Tower Restaurant at Paris.
The magical look of Excalibur.

We walked and explored about half of one side of The Strip. I am not impressed with the casino portions of the hotels. I just cannot imagine throwing my hard earned money away. And they are loud and smoky. Las Vegas Blvd at night is interesting however, and a lot of fun to see. The traffic and noise is too much, and though it's fun to visit, I would never want to live here.


Monday, October 29, 2007

GET THAT LAUNDRY FOLDED, GIRLS!


video

This is titled How to Fold a Shirt. Is this how you do it? I'm going to try it because it sure involves less steps than I go through.

FEELING BETTER

It's a bright sunny day (again!) and I am feeling a bit better. I had two gifts from grandkids yesterday that helped me shape up. Adam did a little concert for me on his newly acquired guitar, and Anna's supper prayer at Claudia's house cracked me up! Those precious kids, plus the fact that we were able to go to church yesterday, have given me a little push to get off the pity pot and enjoy life. So, as of now, I am going to strive to keep things happier here.

The sermon yesterday was titled "Thanking Jesus is Trusting Jesus" and was based on Luke 17:11-19, the story of the ten men with leprosy who were healed, and only one of them returned to thank God. And Jesus said to him that his faith had made him well. His faith.....his trust. And we sang I Am Trusting You Lord Jesus, a wonderful hymn.

The church is not a large church, only about 240 souls, but they are an active and enthusiastic group of caring Christians. They have a Christian Day School of 90 students with 5 teachers, which is quite the undertaking for a church of that size. As of yesterday, there is one more member, as there was a baptism. Little Mitchell Wyatt became a child of God, and an heir of His salvation. He cried through the whole baptism, quite a vocal little Christian! I love watching moms and dads when they have a brand new baby. The love and care in each and every word and action brings tears to my eyes.

And there was a scene being played out in the seats right behind us that also brought tears to my eyes. Sitting right behind me was an old, tiny, bent in half lady, flanked on each side by what I took to be a daughter and son-in-law. The woman mumbled unintelligible sounds, each one met with a "what's that, mother? Are you cold?" And the daughter would tuck the older woman's jacket around her shoulders, and ask "is that better?" When the woman got a little loud in her mumbling, the daughter lovingly said "we're in church, mother. Did you forget that we are quiet in church. There, that's better." When the choir got up to sing, the woman made a small movement and the son-in-law said "oh, did you want to sing with the choir, mom? Should we go sing with the choir? Oh, let's just sit here and listen." The love and respect and concern for the older woman was appparent in every word and action of the daughter and son-in-law. How easy it would be to just leave the old woman at home and to be able to worship in peace. But just like the young man and woman brought their baby to worship services, this couple were bringing mother to worship services, and love was so apparent in every word and action. No embarrassment in mother's mumblings, and no embarrassment in the baby's cries. Just love.

It brought tears to my eyes, and made my worship much more meaningful. Thank you tiny baby Christian, and thank you bent over old woman Christian. You are both beautiful children of God.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

FEELING SORRY FOR MYSELF

I've spent the day wallowing in self pity. I am lonesome for my kids and grandkids, my mom and my siblings. And my friends. I don't like heat and can't be out in the sun, so I am having a hard time adjusting to the 88 degrees and hot sunny days. I have really itchy skin and 12 % humidity doesn't agree with me much. Ernie went on a hike with the outdoor rec group, and he was gone from 7 am until 3 pm. Meanwhile, back at the RV, we had no water and no electricity for the whole day. I tried cleaning a cupboard but found some pictures to make me more lonely. I washed out some hand laundry, and had to put the clothes drying rack in my little kitchen because you aren't allowed to put that kind of junk outside the RV in this park. I talked to Kari, but couldn't call anyone else because my cell battery was low and I had no electricity to charge it. The wireless connection was down so I couldn't even be on my computer. Whine, whine, whine.

I am trying to get a handle on things and am going to make chicken and a salad for supper. My clothes are almost dry, so I can take the rack down, iron the shirts, and get that out of the way. The wireless connection is now working, so I read my mail and some blogs, and the electricity is back on so I can watch the news in a few minutes. Ernie had a great hike, and I may post a couple of his pictures.

And, we found a church to attend tomorrow morning, so things should start looking up! I hope so, as I don't like being such a grouch.

Friday, October 26, 2007

AIR QUALITY ADVISORY

This is a picture taken towards the west at the end of sunset tonight. The winds have changed direction and the smoke from the California fires is starting to arrive in the valley. The air quality tomorrow will only be moderate. At this point we can't smell anything because the smoke is quite high in the atmosphere, but by morning they say we will probably notice it.

Today we located the church we plan to attend while we are here. We met the pastor and found his father had been born and raised within 50 miles of our home. And he is pretty sure his brother was a good friend of our nephew who is a pastor in Wisconsin. We look forward to services on Sunday and the pastor seems like he will be a good speaker.

The weather is certainly a big change from Minnesota, and I'm not too sure I like it. It seems weird to have 85 degrees when it's almost November. And there is no humidity. The sun is so bright it hurts my eyes, but it sure feels good on my sore shoulders and neck. I guess I have to give it a little more time to grow on me. After all, we haven't even been here a week yet.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

YOU CAN TAKE THE GIRL FROM THE COUNTRY BUT.......

....you can't make her feel comfortable in this bustling city! We drove down Las Vegas Blvd. this afternoon, all the way through The Strip area. It was so busy, with so much traffic, and everyone else knowing where they're going, and us not having a clue.........I was petrified! Of course I always am scared in traffic so that's nothing new. I was amazed at the buildings, some of them quite beautiful. It will be a long while before I'll be brave enough to go down at night when the lights are supposed to be incredible.
I am not much for spending money on this kind of entertainment, but this is one show I would like to see. Phantom at the Venetian. We have a lot of information on things in the area to do, and we did see there is a military discount of $20 for this show. I've seen prices listed from $200 down to $75. The lowest price being the back of the third balcony, I believe. So I may consider that one. They say just seeing the theatre, built especially for Phantom, is worth the price of admission. We'll think about it.
And we have a grandson who likes the Beatles, so maybe we should check this out. I haven't seen the prices for Cirque du Soleil, but I imagine they're up there, too. I don't waste my hard earned money on gambling, but we will check out some of these places just to see what it's like inside. Most places have a show or some entertainment that is free so we can do those things when I get brave enough to venture down to The Strip again. Remember, I'm just a country girl from small town Minnesota! Can you read the sideways sign? It ways: Condominiums for sale. For the ultimate address call.........and then the number. The building looks like it's covered in gold. Maybe it is!

Monday, October 22, 2007

LIVE TO YOU FROM VEGAS

Just a couple of shots on the way to Las Vegas. The scenery wasn't much....
just dry sand, a few cactus (cacti?) and some rocks.
We arrived about 4:30 and by the time we got everything set up, it was time to make dinner. And this morning I am lounging. We've spent a lot of time sitting in the truck lately, and I needed to unwind and unstiffen. We are parked at Nellis AFB for a month, waiting to hear if friends are joining us. The plan is to go to San Diego also, but with all the fires in that area, I'm not too certain we'll do that. They probably don't need anymore people out there to worry about if they need to evacuate some areas. We'll see what develops between now and then.

I have pictures from our train trip to the Grand Canyon on Saturday, but it was cold, cloudy and windy so I'm not too pleased with them. And I have a few from Mesa Verde that I wanted to share too. So now that we're in one place for awhile, and I have a steady connection, I will get to that real soon.

Friday, October 19, 2007

THE GRAND CANYON ON FRIDAY

This is what the Navajo Nation's land looks like. It sure isn't good for much....no farming on this land!
We entered the east gate of Grand Canyon National Park and stopped at the first viewing spot, Desert View. It's a good thing we stopped there, as when we left there and drove west to the south entrance, we were not able to stop at any of the pull offs because of the amount of traffic. Our truck and RV make such a large vehicle that there is never any room for us. We got to the south entrance where there is a campground that allows larger trailers and drove to the gate to register. As we approached the gate we saw the sign...FULL. No room for us in the campground. And no place to park and look around. So we headed south to the exit and were thinking that the few pictures we took at Desert View were all we would have to remember this stop. Then we found a campground right outside of Williams, about 58 miles down the road. And we had read about a train trip that takes you right to the park where you can catch a shuttle bus to different attractions in that section of the park. We checked into it, and booked it! So tomorrow we will catch the train at 9 and will return about 5:15, a whole day in the park with no worries about parking. (6000 private vehicles a day visit the park with about 2000 parking spaces.)
These are some native paintings from the inside of a tower at Desert View. Very beautiful.
This town, Williams, is on the historic U.S. Route 66. There are many motels, cafes and souvenir shops that display the sign.
We went out to dinner tonight, at a cowboy type cafe, to celebrate our 43rd anniversary yesterday and to celebrate Kari and Mike's 23rd anniversary today. We ordered a piece of carrot cake to share and took it home with us. I had to take a picture of it because it was at least 5 inches high before the gal stuffed it in the take home carton. They had pies in their showcase that were at least 6 inches high!
Sorry Kari and Mike. We didn't save you any. It was sure good!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

TUBA CITY, ARIZONA

We are in Tuba city, Arizona. I've never heard of it before, and probably will never hear of it again!

This part of the country is very strange. There are weird rock formations sitting on the level ground. Really a different kind of beauty.
But there was constant evidence, along the over 200 miles that we drove today, of a very sad thing. Ernie wouldn't stop so I could get a good picture, so I took this out the window. But this was the edge of the roadway for the whole way today. I almost cried as I thought about all the little kids who are the victims of this abuse.
I'd like to think there is just no recycling here, but I know better. And I'll bet the incidence of FASD would prove I was right.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

THE MILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY

These pictures are not the clearest because they are taken through the truck windows. And they are all straight ahead, through the dirty windshield, because there is no way I was going to look out the side window and down that scary drop off! The sun was out half of the time, and the other half it was cloudy and snowy. Typical mountain weather, I think.
This house was perched on top of a rock outcropping, probably at about 10,000 feet.


I felt safer with trees or rocks or hillsides on the edges of the road.

A sleepy little mountain town sitting at 9,000 feet. There was a campground listed for this town, Silverton, but it was closed. Bet it would have been cold up there anyhow!

WEDNESDAY

We followed our plan yesterday, and were able to pick up the truck at noon. It was fixed, works great, and cost nothing because it is under warranty. We were getting ready to head out and I noticed a bubble in one of the tires on the RV. I mentioned it to Ernie, and while he was checking it out, I looked at the other tires. Found a second one with a bubble. So he decided we'd best go tire shopping before we left town. So two hours and $400 later we headed out of Gunnison, heading in the direction of Mesa Verde, with 3 new tires on the RV. We had replaced the fourth tire in Maine in August.

To get there we had to go over a road called "The Million Dollar Highway." Well, let me tell you. This is not the highway for a person who is afraid of heights. It's a narrow winding road with no guard rails that goes between Montrose and Durango. And I was petrified! Maybe the trip in a car would have been okay, but in a pickup pulling a 34 foot RV, I knew I would never see my kids and grand kids again! I knew we would never make it! Ernie is an excellent driver, and in addition to his driving duties, he had to soothe a petrified woman who was gripping the door handle, leaning way to the left to avoid falling off the edge, and who was crying and acting like an idiot.

It was a beautiful trip when I could force myself to look around and enjoy the scenery! Above 10,000 feet there was snow on the rocks and trees, and it looked like a wonderland of cotton balls pasted on the green spruce for decorations. I was amazed to find a few cabins in these mountain heights, and though most were probably summer homes as they were dark and empty looking, I saw a few cabins that had welcoming lights shining in the windows. I could never imagine driving that highway more than once, and these folks actually live up there!

We arrived in Durango quite late, almost 8:00. We had picked out 3 other campgrounds, and after locating them and getting off the highway, we found each of them closed, contrary to the open dates that were listed in our campground directory. So we ended up in a more expensive place than we usually stay at, but it was time to stop for the night. I was stiff and sore from tensing my shoulders and neck for the last 3 hours, and we needed food and sleep. It is a nice place, and they do have wireless.

Tomorrow morning we head out for the Grand Canyon. We feel so blessed to have the opportunity to see so much of God's beautiful world, and we thank Him daily for being with us on our travels.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

21 DEGREES!

The temperature this morning is 21 degrees! Are we using the gas furnace in the RV? Nope. Of course not. We have the electric fireplace and the small electric heater going as the electricity is included in the site rent. Our gas isn't.

The plan is to check with the garage this morning to make sure all is on schedule. If it is, we should be able to pick the truck up about noon, return the rental car to the airport, and ride off into the hills. Our destination is Mesa Verde. I have never been there, so I am looking forward to going there.

We have said a prayer of thanks for the truck breaking down in Gunnison. Our original plan was to breeze right on through this little cowboy town, and if we had done so, we would have missed the incredible sights we have been blessed to see these past three days. We have gone north to Crested Butte, west to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, and south (pictures coming soon) to Lake City. We had arrived in town from the east, so we have covered all directions.

I have always listed my favorite spot as northern Minnesota, especially the Boundary Waters Area, and we return often. Fifteen years ago after our first trip to Alaska, I had to add that destination to the list of favorites, and with a son living there, we do make that trip again and again. My short trip to Italy, a couple of years ago, certainly put that country on the list, but I know for certain that I'll never have that opportunity again. Then, on our trip this summer, New Foundland easily made my list with it's stark and simple beauty. Now I am adding the Gunnison area of Colorado to my favorites. And the wonderful thing is that when we give up the traveling life and settle down back in Minnesota, we would easily be able to return to this area.

We thank God for the blessings we have been given: His Son so Heaven is ours. His beautiful creation for our enjoyment. Family and love. Our health. The health insurance through Air Force retirement so we are able to do this. And for keeping us safe on our travels. God is indeed good. Praise Him!

Monday, October 15, 2007

BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON

Our surroundings were of the wildest possible description. The roar of the water.....was constantly in our ears, and the walls of the canyon, towering half mile in height above us were seemingly vertical. Occasionally a rock would fall from one side or the other, with a roar and crash, exploding like a ton of dynamite when it struck bottom, making us think our last day had come.

These are the words of explorer and surveyor, Abraham Lincoln Fellows, written in 1901.

We approached the rail fence with cautious steps. knowing the canyon floor was a long drop of over 2,000 feet below us, and the rock steps were slick from the recent rain. As we gingerly peeked over the fence protecting us from the deep abyss, we saw below us
NOTHING! The fog completely hid the canyon from us. Disappointed? You bet we were. But my fear of heights didn't kick in as much as it usually does, because there was no way to know how deep it was. We went to another spot
and it wasn't any better. The plants and rocks framing the drop off were colorful though, even in the fog.
The pinks of the rocks, and the bronze gold of the tiny flowers added beauty to the misty white air.
And the foliage along the path, tucked in between the rocks, was very beautiful.
As we left, we did get one little glimpse of what may lay below in the depths. The little white blob and thin ribbon below it, are proof that there is a river with mighty rapids crashing through the canyon. No, we didn't get to see the black canyon, but the white canyon left much more to the imagination, and I can envision for myself the perils and dangers that the explorers faced. However, from what I've read, the reality of their exploration was probably much rougher than anything I could imagine.