Fairhope, Alabama 12/20/10

My sister and B-i-L, Nannie and Bubba, drove from Baton Rouge to Daphne for an abbreviated early Christmas visit and, as usual, we all had a great time together. Love my sister! Thanx for coming over.

My sister and me striking a "nice" pose in front of our tree before we started cutting up and laughing ourselves silly. I didn't post the goofy ones (and you are welcome!). The four of us spent part of Monday at Fairhope, walking out on the pier and milling around the bayside park. Weather was cool, but sunny - quite acceptable. We ate Jimmy's yummy seafood gumbo Sunday evening, and on Monday we had reservations at The Wash House in Fairhope, where we enjoyed a leisurely, delicious dinner at a table in front of the fireplace. Cozy. Great food. They had to return home on Tuesday, but better short visit than none at all.
Merry Christmas to all. God bless us everyone!


Happy Holidays!

From the two of us to all of you: Good advice for the new year!

    (enlarge to read)


West to East 11/9 thru 11/17

From Canyon de Chelly AZ, we drove to Albuquerque, but cut our stay short due to storm and wind forecasts, and continued on to Palo Duro Canyon south of Amarillo TX. We tried to outrun bad weather, but thunderstorms caught up to us in Palo Duro (great place to hike around on fine days)... and when we awoke and opened the shades on Friday morning (11/12), we were astounded to see wet SNOW falling! Like migrating birds, we knew it was TIME to head south.


Balloons rising on a chilly Albuquerque morning.


Snow dusting the roadsides out of Palo Duro.

And so, after one more night in Texas, we arrived at my sister and brother-in-law’s house near Baton Rouge on Saturday night, Nov 13th, six months to the day after setting out on our trip to Cape Cod! We spent three easy days with them, playing at the river, shopping, eating… always a fun time. 

A calm Amite River and sandbar behind my sister's house near Baton Rouge LA.


Nannie and I lazing away an afternoon searching for fossils in the rocks at the Amite River.


The Wilkinsons and Underwoods celebrating Jimmy's birthday dinner at PF Chang's in Baton Rouge. 

Lyn, Nannie and I enjoying lunch in Denham Springs. Lyn and I spent a day together in Anaheim on November 1st!!

Finally, on Wednesday, Nov 17th, we drove east a couple hundred more miles to our condo in Daphne, AL. Two kinda tired people, yet thrilled to have gone where we did, saw sights we never dreamed we’d see, experiencing a wonderful vagabond life for six solid months from our Lazy Daze RV. Truly, a trip of a lifetime – something many dream about, but we were fortunate enough to LIVE it. Take a gander thru the blog archive from May 2010 up to the present... we put 13,800 miles on the RV from Daphne to Labrador to Livingston, Montana and down to Los Angeles, with countless stops in between to sight-see, hike the glorious land, take in a sunset, eat a freshly-caught codfish, shiver near icebergs, pedal our bikes on fantastic paths, feel the wind on our faces as we rode the seas on ferry boats, and spend time with family and friends. We met many fine people along the way. This trip is finished, and a final happy note is that we're not only still talking to each other, we still like each other - wow! 

Next up: Unpacking… ugh!

And after the holidays? Creating our next trip - oboy!


Canyon de Chelly Nat'l Monument -- 11/8/10

In the Heart of the Navajo Nation -- the fantastic Canyon de Chelly.

Every once in a while you land in a place that strikes you right in the heart, or maybe the solar plexus, and Canyon de Chelly (d'SHAY) was one of those.  I know we came at a time when autumnal colors were at their finest, but it was more than that.  Call it a spiritual experience if you will, but this national monument literally took our breath away.  We took a bit of a detour to visit this magnificent place, and we were so glad we did. 

Wanting to see a ruin up close, we hiked the 2.5-mile R/T White House Trail, which descends 600' to the canyon floor on the most fantastic winding path. Across Chinle Wash, we gazed upward at the White House Ruin (named for the long wall in the upper dwelling that's covered with white plaster). Like everyone else, we wondered why and how ...?  And, of course, no concrete answer came.


White House Ruin (below check mark) from on high ...


... closer,

 ... and up close. 

Archaeological evidence shows that people have lived in the canyon for nearly 5,000 years -- longer than anyone has lived uninterrupted on the Colorado Plateau. Established in 1931 to preserve the record of human history, the monument is now home to the Navajo people. Canyon de Chelly isn't the deepest or the widest or the longest canyon in the southwest, but its striking beauty is unrivaled in our opinion!

Here you can see a part of the serpentine trail to the ruin.
Cottonwoods, wearing their autumn cloaks of yellow, line Chinle Wash.

This was a crazy trail.  It's all about what's called crossbedded sandstone, warm and smooth.  Hiking down the wonderful, but somewhat daunting, wind-sculpted sandstone trail, surrounded by intricate swirls and towering plateaus, we were awed by the reddish-hued rock. The trail was carved from and into sandstone -- there are no handrails, presenting some scary moments!  Watch your step.  (Walking sticks helped a lot.)    

At the junction of Canyon de Chelly and Monument Canyon, the red sandstone spire known as Spider Rock rises dramatically 800' from the canyon floor.  It's quite a stirring, almost theatrical sight.  The mythical Spider Woman chose this pinnacle as her home; she was an important deity in the Navajo culture.

 Looking toward Canyon de Chelly from the south rim.

Tergel and Smartie parked under the brilliant golden cottonwoods at Cottonwood Campground, where -- wowee -- no fee was charged!

Jimmy and I took a billion photos, each one as good as the next, and it was hard to choose.  The pics I've posted are just a sampling.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit this quiet and peaceful canyon... DO IT.  It's a gem.


Grand Canyon National Park! Nov 5-6

Click on any photo to enlarge. First six photos are of the South Kaibab Trail.

(L) Jimmy trekking up and (M) up (center of photo) and one photo (R) of me on the trail switchbacks.

(L) Hard to see, but there are people on those switchbacks. (M) A steep section of the trail. (R) Blue arrow at the Ooh Aah Point.

Contemplating the immensity (and the drop-off). Sweeties at the Canyon! Can you see the nutty people on the rock outcrop?

We didn't want to take I-10 from Los Angeles, opting instead for I-40... which took us right close to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. So, since Jimmy had never been, we elected to take a couple of days to check out "The Big Ditch!" We stayed two nights in "Trailer Village," (geez, what a name) which boasts full hookups, but is operated as a concession at full price.

Thanks to The Guide from Park personnel, we learned of day hikes we could do and picked the South Kaibab Trail ("steep with expansive views"). We set off Saturday morning with Ooh Aah Point as our goal (honest, that's the name), 600' down from the 7,200' rim and a 1.8 mile R/T hike. It was challenging, but worth every step - we felt like we'd conquered Everest or something! The River is still far below, but "hiking to the river and back in one day is not recommended." Not a problem for us day-trippers....

Following our return to the top, we set out on the Rim Trail, which is easy walking with large views of the Canyon. We hiked all the way to Bright Angel Trailhead and even walked a few paces on it, but the day was waning and getting quite chilly. The shuttle bus returned us to our RV Park. A warm RV and warm dinner, and shoes OFF rounded out our day. We put many miles on our feet this day, and fell into bed like dead people! Another absolutely wonderful national park.


Los Angeles, California!! 10/27 - 11/4

At Disneyland with Lyn and Alan. Dinner with Matt and Jen, Melissa and Evan at Umami. Me and Matt with Maggie & Sophie.

Surfers at Laguna. Sparkling day on the ocean. With friends, Karen and Welton.

California Adventure. The Disney camera shot of Matt, me, Jimmy plunging down Splash Mtn at the end of the ride in Disneyland - Jimmy got soaked. Look at those faces! (enlarge photo)

Oh, we made the rounds in LA/Orange County – Had a blast at Disneyland two days in a row (yeow, on the feet!), shopped at The Grove and Beverly Center, dinners out with friends, dinner in (very delish meatloaf, Matt), visits with long-time friends, Whole Foods and the Farmer’s Mkt across from Park La Brea, even historic Olvera Street, plus another long bike ride on the beach path toward Santa Monica, and a short ocean-front walk at Heisler Park in lovely Laguna Beach. Like Energizer bunnies, we kept on going! Above all, we hung out with #1 son, Matt, and enjoyed his company. Wish we could’ve seen more of Jen, but she is 100% involved in nursing school (you go, girl!). Weather was sunny, tho 90+ a couple of the days (whew!), but better that than a chill rain. Loved it all, didn’t even mind the freeways much. Love You, Matt! Till next time….

Now it’s time to point our RV toward the East and head for home.


Los Angeles, California! 10/27 - 11/4

On the 28th, Matt, Jimmy and I hopped on the beach bike path directly behind the RV camped at Dockweiler St Beach and rode a marathon - 26 miles for the uninitiated - from El Segundo to Santa Monica and back. We had a great ride... and it's always a trip to ride thru Venice Beach. I love being with my two favorite guys. Heck, being with them is a trip in itself! FUN day!! By the way, in the photo of the muscle men above, my husband is the guy on the left and my son is the guy on the right... just so there's no confusion...!


Death Valley Nat'l Park, Oct 25-26

What could be more discombobulating to the body than to travel from 8,000+ foot elevation at Mt Whitney Portal one day to -190 feet at Furnace Creek the next? Not much, I'd wager. Kind of a last minute decision to visit the valley, but since we were that close... we thought it behooved us to give it a go. We stayed in a nice, tree-shaded site at Furnace Creek C/G (no hookups) for two nights, and made the best of our short stay. The first afternoon we toured Artist's Drive, a scenic 9-mile loop that showcases the multi-hued volcanic hills. What a place! Took lotsa pictures (3 below)!





The red arrow high above my head points to the -282 elevation!

The next morning we drove to Badwater Basin, which is 282 feet below sea level and the lowest point in North America. It is truly a surreal landscape of vast salt flats that, from a distance, looks like prairie snow. We hiked out onto the flats maybe a half mile and still couldn't see the far side. Enlarge the middle photo and look carefully -- near the top you can see the red arrow I made pointing to the "sea level" plaque on the side of the hill above Badwater Basin parking lot!




Next stop was an uphill one-mile hike into Natural Bridge Canyon, which involved lots of climbing and was a lot of fun. Plus nobody got hurt, always a good thing! Amazing that the mile return hike (downhill) always takes so much less time. The natural bridge (photo above) is huge. The trail ends at an impassable dry waterfall, so we had to quit. We followed that with another mile hike up into Golden Canyon, which had many "slot" canyons ripe for rock climbing -- we are becoming pretty good at this climbing business! This canyon was supposed to have interpretive trail guides available, but they were out - too bad. Our last stop was the Harmony Borax Works where we wandered between the remains of buildings, machinery, tanks & piping from the mining operation that dates back more than 120 years. (20-Mule Team Borax - poor ol' mules!) By now our feet were gone-gone-gone, but we located the Furnace Creek Warm-Spring-Fed Pool, a wonderful Olympic-sized pool - we dove in and stayed in! Ahhhh........Great day!