Friday, September 28, 2012

Visiting in Tucson

Tuesday, Sept 18th – We left Lost Dutchman State Park this morning, having said our ‘goodbyes’ the night before. It was difficult to leave, knowing that it would be a while (though not too long) before we would be back for a visit. We were not heading far today, just down to Tucson to visit our niece, Katie, and then some friends

We had a good visit with Katie and 4 year old Emma, and little Jack. It is always good to see family……and Katie and her little ones are dear to us.

We then headed over to visit with Don and Dee, some friends from Fred’s work, who moved to the Tucson / Vail area four years ago, when Don retired.


Don and Dee have a beautiful home right close to Saguaro National Park. The weather was perfect for enjoying the outdoor patio…


And pool area. Jade loved being able to wander about in the yard….something that she has not been able to do for these past 6 months of traveling. Jade was a well behaved guest….with only one mishap…..Darn if that pool cover didn’t look like a solid surface!   Oops!



Don and Dee had arranged a sunset trail ride with a BBQ afterwards for us. Don is quite the horseman, though Dee opted not to go riding this time.


My horse, Newt, was a tall, and spirited, but well mannered horse. It was fun to ride a horse that I did not have to encourage (kick) all the way on the ride like I have had to do with the horse that I road out by Lost Dutchman


The trail ride was beautiful…..


And the sunset……spectacular!


After the ride, Don, Fred and I joined up with Dee and Sarah, the outfitter, who had fixed a wonderful dinner of steak, baked potatoes, beans, and her famous peach cobbler. It was a very fun evening spent in wonderful company and conversation.


The next morning, Dee outdid herself with breakfast served on the patio.

We had miles to go….so, after breakfast, we reluctantly said our goodbyes…..and drove on down the road.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Say ‘Yes’ to the Dress…..

Saturday, Sept 15th – OK….the main reason for the visit….Wedding dress shopping!


On Saturday, Sarah and her friend Ashley, and Fred and I spent the day looking at wedding dresses. Yes, we let Fred go with us, he was nice enough to volunteer to be our chauffeur.   : )


Sooo many dresses to look at!


And try on…..


Dress after dress……


Hey, did you know that they use these big red clamps to make the dress fit……A tuck here and there and a size 14 becomes a size 2.


We had made appointments for try-ons at 3 different stores. As we waited, Sarah and Ashley studied the wedding planner guide.


It helped to have different opinions as Sarah looked for that perfect dress.


It was fun to watch and wonderful to be able to be a part of this whole process.


So, which dress did she say “Yes” to……

You will have to wait until December to see! Hint, it is NOT any one of these……..

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Visiting Sarah and Jason - Wedding Planning–Chandler, AZ

Sept 11 – 17th – A wonderful week spent visiting with Sarah and Jason……Since Sarah works and Jason is busy with school and projects, on the week days, we would catch up with them in the evenings.


We did a lot of just ‘visiting’ and ‘wedding talk’ and were able to help with a few of the details.


Including a bit of help with the invitations. Many hands make short work…..   : )


We got to see and walk through the wedding venue… will be just perfect!

And one of our days, we met Sarah at her office for lunch…….

sarah at office

And, of course,  admired that hard earned CPA certificate.


We all enjoyed the break from the road and made ourselves right at home, including Jade……who enjoyed being back with Sarah and Jason who had looked after her in April, while we were at the Grand Canyon.

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Jade really LOVES the apartment’s dog park!

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Southwest……Revisited

Tuesday Sept 11th, 2012 –We had awaked to ….rain! A rarity in Arizona. It rained, off and on, as we drove…..clearing just enough to get a picture or two….

From Kanab, Utah we dropped down into Arizona on Hwy 89 alt. This was a route that we had driven so many years before (was it 1993?) when we pulled a pop-up camper and took the kids ‘out west’. It was as we remembered…….


Wide open vistas with those pastel colors that are unique to the Southwest.


We stopped at the ‘Cliff Dwellings’….


Not Native dwellings, but the remnants of a house built in the 1930’s by a woman whose car broke down at this spot and she just liked the location.


We drove on just a bit to the Navaho Bridge overlook near Lees Ferry…


And marveled at the Colorado River…..just below Lake Powell …and above the Grand Canyon. It would be here that a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon would start…….Hmmm.

Driving on…..We had a familiar, coming back full circle feeling…..coming back to where we began this trip in March….has it been that long?……

We talked about the scenery. When we left the Southwest in May, after having spent 2 months sightseeing around Arizona and southern Utah, we were a bit ‘burnt out’ on the scenery, the red rocks, and the desert climate. Now, we looked at it all with fresh eyes and felt, once again, drawn to it…..amazed by it.


Back to Lost Dutchman State Park, in Apache Junction, just east of Chandler, AZ……a very familiar spot and our ‘home away from home’ when we visit Sarah and Jason. Here we have hook-ups and can run the air conditioner.    : )    The weather promised to be a bit milder…..highs only 90 degrees, with lows in the 70’s or high 60’s…..very ‘do-able’. 

We will be back and forth to Sarah’s for a week of visiting and wedding planning…..

Monday, September 24, 2012

“Take Me Home, Country Roads……”

Saturday Sept 8th – Early start this morning….eager to get on the road. “Cruising Down the Interstate”  to some country music……Heading home……It is good to remember that we are  ”Southern born….and Southern bred.”


Through Calgary and on through the US border and into northern Montana……


Hay fields and farms……..


Give way to the rocky hills of Montana…..

We spent Saturday night at the Lincoln Rd RV park in Helena, Montana.

Sunday Sept 9th – Good day of driving…….about 350 miles. Landscape is mostly fields and stacks and stacks of hay bales. Stopped for the night at the Cowboy RV park in Pocatello, Idaho.

Monday Sept 10th – left Idaho and cruising through Utah. I 15 through Salt Lake City and Provo. Last time through Salt Lake City we were going east-west and the city just did not seem that big.. This time, driving north –south……. we were surprised at how far we had to drive in non-stop city and high traffic……Ugg!

We drove I 15 south, then, we cut over on 20 to Hwy 89. This was the way that we had come up at the beginning of this trip, and it felt a lot like we had come full circle.

We stopped for the night at the Kanab, Utah, RV Corral.

These three days of driving have been mostly about the miles and about getting closer to home (actually, to Sarah’s in Chandler, AZ). Our conversations have centered around the things that we had seen and done……and about things we will do once we are home. Our stops have been utilitarian…..good hook-ups, clean, convenient. We were not looking for anything more…….

The mood has been reflective…..We talked of plans realized. 

When we started this trip, everything was bright and shiny and new. We saw everything with fresh eyes. We had talked about what we would do and how things would be. The possibilities seemed endless……

This trip has been wonderful and most of it had gone without a hitch. Our plans were well thought out and included, just about everything that one could fit into the time and place. We had spent about two months touring around the Arizona/southern Utah area, and had hiked a number of wonderful hikes, including the Grand Canyon in two different places. We had spent a month driving the California/ Oregon/ Washington coast and had done a fair bit of sightseeing on our way to California, and on up through Canada. We had some terrific visits with two of our three children, and had joined my sister on some of her travels. We had spent just over two months touring around Alaska, and had done everything that we had not had the time to do on our first visit to Alaska two years before. As a bonus, we had shared some of that experience with our oldest daughter and her husband.

Nearing the end of this trip….and, looking back from the vantage point of plans realized…..there was a sense of satisfaction…… but also a sadness. We had seen the sights and now looked at them with the assessing eyes of familiarity. No longer were there plans with limitless possibilities. We have, instead, the memories…..

I think that life is always like that….So much time is spent in dreaming, then planning…….in the anticipation of an event. As the event is going on, you try to be very present…..wanting to soak up all that you can. Then, looking back on the event…no matter how wonderful it had been, there is only the reality of what was……no longer what could be. The paths had been chosen and the possibilities realized. And, there are always things that you might do differently.

Like finishing a good book……you slowly, reluctantly, read the last lines of the last chapter, not wanting to know how it ends.  And, closing the book, you already miss the cast of characters, and wonder…what happened after that? Wishing that it could go on….knowing that it can’t, and wondering how you might have written the storyline differently. Books ending and plans realized are always bitter/sweet.

I know that, just as there are other books to read, there are other chapters in our lives yet to come. I am just not in a hurry to begin anew…….I think that I need a bit of time to just savor the memories.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Finding Civilization In Grande Prairie, AB

Wednesday, Sept 5th – Driving slowly, it took us over 1 1/2 hours to drive the 30 miles of gravel. We made it back out and managed to not tear anything else up. We are having  a feeling of just ‘driving home’…… Fred is ready to get back into the lower 48 and back to more familiar territory. I just wanted a bit of civilization…..a Hampton Inn, a Starbucks, a little Mexican food, maybe an IHOP for breakfast……

We settled on spending two nights in Grande Prairie, Alberta, a nice sized town with a population of 50,000. As we drove through town I spotted……stores….and hotels and restaurants! Civilization!  A hotel was not really feasible with the dog…..nor necessary. But, dinner out at a Mexican Restaurant, was.

We parked the camper in the Corn Maze RV Park just outside of town. Yes….corn. The landscape had morphed into the prairies and farms of the Midwest.  We unhitched and, after settling in, drove to the Mucho Burrito (sort of like the Chipotle Grill that we like) for dinner. I found myself sitting in the truck in the shopping center parking lot, looking at   Staples, and PetCo and similar stores and breathing a sigh of contentment.

Thurs. Sept 6th- A stay-put and putter day – Fred drove into town to the Home Depot to pick up screws and wood glue to fix the kitchen cabinet that had been ‘shook loose’ by the rough roads. I spent the day working on my blogs and just ‘puttering around the house’ or, at least as much as one can in a camper.  ;- )

Dinner out at Boston pizza, and a movie! I can’t remember the last time we went to a movie……

Friday Sept 7th -  Today’s drive was definitely a shift. Four lane roads and wide open landscapes. Farms….fields….fences. It reminds me of Iowa, only not as hilly. We have shifted in our minds, also, away from our sightseeing mode,and onto just rolling down the road…..It feels good to be heading south. Conversations turn to projects at home and visiting with the kids (Sarah, on our way home).

We drove until 5 pm and spent the night at Red Lodge Provincial Park, just south of Red Deer.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge Loop, and Monkman Provincial Park

Tuesday Sept 4th -  Last year, while driving back down on the Alaskan Hwy, we stopped at the Ft. St. John visitor’s center. The  lady there told us that we should drive the Tumbler Ridge Loop and spend some time there because it was so beautiful. We planned to take a short detour through this area….

Just north of Ft. St. John you turn off on Hwy 29 to go through Chetwynd. I had picked up  a brochure that talked about the famous Chetwynd chainsaw carvings….


It all started with this one in 1992…..


Now there are more than 70 of them, each getting more and more elaborate over the years.


We stopped to view these carvings on display at the visitor’s center.



It is amazing what one can do with a chainsaw and a little imagination………

We continued driving the loop through Tumbler Ridge and then down to Monkman Provincial Park, where we planned to spend the night.

We had read that the drive to Monkman was beautiful and well worth the 30 miles of gravel road……You know…. it wasn’t. The road was washboard rough and took us 1 1/2 hours to drive. When we arrived,  we found that the camper had been ‘shook to pieces’. These gravel roads are taking their toll on things. The campground was OK, but with no services and not even potable water available it just had an unkempt feeling.

The weather looked threatening, with dark sky overhead. We decided to take advantage of the fact that it wasn’t raining yet to drive out to the Kinuseo Falls that were supposed to be spectacular. They were…….


Water cascaded over multiple layers of rock……


Before cascading down 197 feet (that is taller than Niagara Falls).



We were intrigued by the rock formations on the sides of this canyon. The rock swirled and plunged diagonally across the wall.

We had read about several trails in Monkman Park which led to other waterfalls. We looked for the trail heads, but the only trails that we saw were very overgrown and poorly maintained. They were not enough to entice us to hike.

Going to bed that night, we both felt that this place just did not feel right. Though we had planned to spend two nights at Monkman and do some hiking the next day, we decided to head on down the road the next day. So we would hook up and drive back out that terrible gravel road, eager to just get it behind us.

Friday, September 21, 2012

A Long Ways To Home –Takhini Hot Springs, Coal River, Pink Mt.

Friday Aug 31 – Sat. Sept 1 – From Dawson City we traveled Hwy 2 down to Takhini Hot Springs, just north of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. We had stayed at Takhini two years before on our first visit to Alaska and remembered how nice the springs were, and what a wonderful meal we had there.

Maybe it was hitting the springs at the end of their season,…and at the end of our trip…..But, the springs were only luke-warm, and the facility looked run down. The restaurant was only serving burgers, and they did not even look appetizing. The campground was OK, and it was nice to take the extra day here…..But, we were disappointed. Or maybe just ready to get home….

Sunday Sept 2nd – Monday Sept 3rd – These days were just driving days…..putting some miles under our tires and getting down the road, driving on the Al-Can Hwy. We stopped Sunday night at Coal River Campground, in British Columbia, south of Watson Lake. Monday night, we stopped at Pink Mountain Campground, BC, between Ft. Nelson and Ft. St. John.

Along the road, we saw more wildlife than we had seen on any of our other roads.


Bison are BIG! We passed this entire herd that was grazing along the roadside.


A mom nurses her calf.


Bison always strike me as sort of ‘beady-eyed’.IMG_0571

Stone sheep….




And beautiful, beautiful scenery.


We are enjoying the beautiful days, and good driving….but I think that the urge to head towards home is driving us….