Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Settling In

I realized that I haven’t posted anything in the week that we have been home. I have intended to keep the blog up-dated from time to time, but, life at home does not have the day-to-day excitement that traveling does. Even so, for those of you who like to keep up, I will try to write a bit each week.

The weather has been quite nice since we’ve gotten home, with lows in the 40’s and highs in the 80’s and we are beginning to see some  Fall color in the leaves. But – we desperately need some rain! We came home to draught. Louisiana has had a very hot and dry Summer, and the Fall rains have not arrived, yet. Everything is dry – and the grass is mostly brown. However, most of the new trees and bushes that I had planted last Spring made it, with the exception of a few azaleas. My philosophy has always been that the landscaping at the cabin had to be able to take care of itself. I just plant, and let nature take care of things. Though, while we were away, nature (in the form of some very hungry deer) ate some of my landscaping down to bare branches. I guess I need to investigate more deer resistant plantings.



The garden, surprisingly, had a number of sweet peppers still growing, and the basil was thriving – this, without any watering while we were gone!

I don’t know if it is this way for everyone…..but for me, coming back home after such a long trip takes a bit of adjustment. And the emotions! …..from a sense of having neglected our beloved home, to needing to just take a bit of time to get re-acquainted with everything……from wanting to run away again, or wanting to never leave. Thank goodness for family and friends, familiar routines…..and lunches at Gram’s……

For the time being, before we begin planning the next trip (or at least seriously planning), we are looking forward to tackling a few projects around here.

And we have so many thoughts on what we learned about travel….and ourselves…..on this trip. I am making a list so I won’t forget. But, that will be another post……

Monday, October 11, 2010



Mon Oct 11th – 75 days – 13,325 miles later -  We are HOME! 

What an adventure this has been…….

Things at home don’t look much worse for the neglect – the grass is a bit high, but, thanks to Mom who came by faithfully to refill the feeders, our hummingbirds are still around, busily preparing to head south in a week or two. And, speaking of  being fed……thanks, Mom, for the wonderful soup and French bread…….How nice, not to have to worry about supper.

We are just settling in this evening……unpacking, laundry, grass cutting and other chores will wait for tomorrow…….

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Midland, TX – Visiting Good Friends

Oct 8 –10 – As we passed through Midland, TX on our way home, we spent the weekend visiting with our good friends, Jim and Juanice. Fred and Jim had been good friends and college roommates at LSU, and though the years have gone by, when we get together, it is just like yesterday. We love to have a chance to visit whenever we are passing through. Thank you both, for the wonderful meals and the comfortable place to stay…….and for lovely visit and the gift of enduring friendship.

Driving I 20 towards Dallas – the road is so familiar – and the end of this trip is approaching with each mile we drive. Mixed feelings……eagerness to be home, yet a certain sadness in having reached the end (of THIS trip -  I know that we have many adventures ahead). We talk in the car, going over the details of our trip…..what worked, what didn’t…… reliving memories (good and bad)……planning, without really acknowledging it, the next trip.

Tonight, we will stay in Dallas. Perhaps, not wanting the trip to end just yet……..

Friday, October 8, 2010

Phoenix, AZ – Visiting with Sarah and Jason (and Lucky)

Fri Oct 1st – Thurs Oct 7th -  We arrived in Phoenix, AZ (actually Goodyear, a suburb west of Phoenix) to visit our daughter, Sarah, and her boyfriend, Jason. Sarah and Jason had just recently moved from Dallas, TX, back to Phoenix.  Sarah had graduated from ASU in May 2009 with a degree in Accounting and is currently looking for a job in the Phoenix area (fingers crossed for those job leads)    : )   Jason will be transferring from UTA to ASU and is studying engineering with a special interest in Robotics.

We had visited with Sarah and Jason in Dallas before we took off on this adventure and we were looking forward to spending a week just “hanging out” and visiting with them on our way back home. We enjoyed the simple things that we have missed while “on the road”…….like checking out the local specialty grocery store,  making chocolate chip cookies, catching up on a favorite TV series, and playing several “rousing” games of cards…….as well as doing a few chores (laundry, cleaning out the car, etc) ….and, of course, playing with Lucky.



Lucky is the cutest little dog (but don’t tell him, he thinks that he is a “big” dog)   : )


Sarah and Jason fixed a special dinner, complete with fondue appetizers and delicious dipping sauces, using the fondue set that Gram had passed on to them. This brought back fond (and rather hectic) memories when we were kids – sitting around the table with skewers in the pot – much less commotion with only the 4 of us!

On Monday Oct 4th – Fred and Sarah and I drove done to Tucson to visit our niece Katie and her husband Nick and their family.


I spent some really good “quality time” holding Jack. I do miss holding little babies………DSC02851


And Emma played “tea party” while Sarah helped Katie in the kitchen……..learning all about making bread in a bread machine. Yumm, was it good!

We spent Monday night at Katie’s ( Thanks, again, for the hospitality, and for the wonderful soup and homemade bread)      : )

Tues, as we were driving back to Phoenix, we drove through a bit of rain. It seems that our streak of bringing rain along with us brought a much needed rain to this area - though maybe a bit too much - as some areas of Phoenix had some flooding!  As we walked out of the house in the afternoon, we noticed this rainbow………beautiful!


Wednesday evening, we had a nice visit over dinner with Jason’s parents, Jim and Becky, then spent the evening getting thoroughly whipped by Sarah in a game of Hearts.  Way to go, Sarah!

We had a good visit over the week – catching up with the details of each other’s lives.  I want to send out a special thanks, again, to Sarah and Jason for all the wonderful meals and the hospitality.

Thursday morning….….came time to say our “goodbyes”……. it is always so hard to leave………..  thank goodness for telephones!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Joshua Tree NP – Desert Beauty

Wednesday Sept 29th - After leaving Sequoia NP, we headed south and west towards Arizona (looking forward to visiting with our second daughter, Sarah and her boyfriend Jason). We planned on stopping through Joshua Tree NP, CA. We checked the weather and the temp there was supposed to reach 104 degrees and not cooling down much at night (way too hot for the camper!) so we opted to stay in a hotel in Twenty-Nine Palms, CA, just at the north entrance to Joshua Tree. We planned to tour the park on Thurs, then spend Thurs night just past Joshua Tree at Blythe, CA.

Thurs Sept 30th -  Our guide book suggested a full day to drive the park and do several short hikes, and this worked out to be just about right for us. To be honest, the desert landscape has not ever really “inspired” me, but we found Joshua Tree NP to be beautiful and unique in its own way. This desert park has two distinct climates, the high Mojave desert (above 3,000 feet), which is wetter and more vegetated, and the lower Colorado desert. Each area of the park has a distinct look and plants that are specific to each region.

Joshua Tree NP was named for the abundance of “Joshua Trees” that grow in the high desert area. This plant is neither tree, nor cactus, but a giant branching Yucca. They were given the name “Joshua Tree” by the Mormon pioneers who thought they looked like the biblical figure, Joshua, with his arms out-stretched to God.


One brochure from the park noted that “…..people are intrigued by the Joshua Tree’s ‘grotesque’ shape”. "  ’Grotesque’ would not be a word that I would ever have used to describe this plant. Each was unique…branching out, over the years, based on winter freezes which would stunt the growth buds and force branching and flowering.


At the Oasis Visitor’s Center, we learned about one of the principal advocates for the formation of Joshua Tree NP, Minerva Hamilton Hoyt, She was a new York socialite and gardening enthusiast, who moved to Pasadena, CA with her husband in the 1920’s. She became intrigued with the desert plants and advocated for the conservation of the desert areas.


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I admired this woman……for where I would have seen desolate, dry, nothingness…….


She saw beauty………

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So….as we drove through the park and walked among the boulders and desert plants…….we kept our eyes (and hearts and minds) open to the unique beauty of the desert.


The northern, high desert area of Joshua Tree NP has many, massive piles of  granite rock.


Some of these jumbled piles of rock evoked  a visceral reaction -  almost an anxiety…….certainly a sort of “dislike” of this state of disorder.


Others, had a softness and a ‘flow’…..



Some, beckoned one (at least Fred) to climb…….  : )


This desert has several Oasis……


The Oasis of Mara……


And Lost Palms Oasis. These Oasis were most recognizable by the presence of Fan Palms and Cottonwoods, which grow where there is water. Whatever water there was, was not visible from the surface…..one only saw the result …..the plants that will only grow where they find enough water.


The southern, low desert area had an abundance of Cholla Catus. These plants had an almost velvety look…….


But they came with the warning…..that these “jumping” Cholla can inflict a very painful injury with their sharp needles!


We drove up to the overlook  where you can see the San Andreas Fault line.


This area, with Palm Springs, CA in the valley, is very beautiful. The sign noted that the place where we were standing moves 2 inches to the southwest each year!


This wind sculpture at the visitor center really caught our attention. It moves continuously with even the slightest breeze –and is meant to represent the delicate balance and the ever changing nature of all relationships.

As we left Joshua Tree NP and continued our drive on towards Phoenix …….. I pondered the desert landscape…….maybe, the beauty of the desert lies in the unseen…….. the potential…….in the tenacity of life…….. and in that dynamic tension that exists in all of nature.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sequoia NP – Moro Rock

Tues Sept 27th – after touring around the General Sherman tree, we headed over to Moro Rock, which was supposed to have a wonderful panoramic vista from the top. But, of course, first you have to climb…..In this case, 400 steps going up 300 feet. The design and craftsmanship of the staircase going up to the top of Moro Rock is so impressive, that it is listed on the Register of Historic Places.


As many of you know, I am not a fan of heights, but  with real steps and a hand railing…..I figured that it wouldn’t be that bad……and besides, I didn’t want to miss the view! So……up we climbed……


This is the view looking down the stairs. Going up was challenging…..not in the physical effort….. but a bit challenging to my fear of heights.


But – the view from the top was definitely worth it!




Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP – The General Sherman Tree

Tues. Sept 28th -  We continued our tour of the giant Sequoias and visited the General Sherman tree.The General Sherman tree is 275 feet tall and a little over 102 feet in circumference and weighs almost 1400 tons. It is the largest tree by volume in the world, and is 2,200 years old.

We really had to pause to take this in……and to fully appreciate the size and age of this tree. This tree was a sizable tree when Jesus was born…..and one can only wonder what all this tree has “seen” in the 2,200 years that it has been here. It kind of makes one step back and appreciate our relatively small place in the universe.





Fred is standing next to a fallen branch from General Sherman.



This brick pattern in the walk represents the “footprint” of the General Sherman tree.


As we strolled around the walks through the giant Sequoias, we tried to head the sign to “slow down and enjoy ourselves”.


One last picture to help appreciate the giant Sequoias….this is our car as we drove through “tunnel log”.