|January - March||We left California the first week in January and made our now annual
trip to Arizona. We first visited family in Tucson then arrived in
Mesa by mid January to square dance through the end of March. We
are getting as much dancing time as we can, plus we are taking some additional
lessons at the C2 level. Old friends and newly made ones abound in
this surreal world where we can square dance morning, afternoon and evening.
One day was spent at the Renaissance Festival which opened here in February. We had a great time. We also managed to get to the movies to see Chicago--great flick!
Dancing will wind down here the end of March. Many “winter visitors” have already returned to their Northern homes in Canada and the Midwest. We’ll visit with Ray’s family before we leave Arizona--the temperatures are rising here already so that means we’ll soon be on our way.
|April - May||When square dancing was winding down in Arizona, we decided to make
some decisions. We had been looking at homes in the Mesa area and
finally decided to build a winter home in adjacent Gilbert, AZ. We
chose an "active adult community."
So that maneuver took quite a bit of time.
We've never built a new home before, so we weren't familiar with the drill. But, we got it done and look forward to its completion at the end of 2003. We'll let everyone know the address and hope folks come visit us in the winter sunshine. If you're looking to visit after April or before October, we'll leave a key!
The month of May meant Gail's wedding in the Gold Country of California. She and Tom were married on May 10, 2003 at an Historic Homestead in Fair Play, California in a lovely gazebo bedecked with flowers, ivy and tulle. It was a lovely wedding with our granddaughter, Monica, and Tom's daughters, Shelley and Nicole, as attendants.
Following the wedding we spent a week with our younger grandchildren, Selina (6) and Rico (2) while their parents enjoyed a long overdue vacation in Costa Rica. The next week we moved to Gail and Tom's home for the remainder of their honeymoon time in Figi to be with the teenagers.
We have taken care of several business items while here in California and are once more ready to roll.
Colorado Natl Monu-ment
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
|Most folks are probably aware that we love the “life on the road”
that we gypsies have chosen; however, if anyone had asked us on about June
11th if we would like to give it all up and live in a shack next to a railroad
track, we might have said yes. When we left the Bay Area on June 1st we
had to go to a nearby RV Resort for a couple of days, because the registration
sticker for our tow car had not yet arrived at daughter, Bev’s. We
are licensed in Nevada, the sticker arrived at our mail service who sent
it Priority Mail to Bev’s house, but it didn’t arrive on time. So
we relaxed over the weekend and returned to pick it up on Monday, which
pushed back our exit to Tuesday.
Carson City, Nevada was our next stop where we stayed for a few days, then decided to move on Saturday. Ray always checks the air in the tires and in our “air bag springs” before leaving. The little spring that looks like a 10" pot-bellied stove on the driver side registered zero pounds of air pressure. So, on a Saturday we had to find somewhere to have this done. Monday morning we found an RV service in town who not only could do the replacement, but also had the part in stock. One more night in Carson City, and we were on our way.
Tuesday morning about 110 miles down the road there was a huge bang–the passenger side dual tire had blown. This was our fourth blow out since July 2002, and we were not happy campers. The tire company had found the last one blown defective and replaced it, but we hadn’t requested anything for the first two blowouts, since they weren’t suspicious yet.
Our cell phone was not in a service area, but luckily we have a dual band phone, so we used our analog service and called our insurer. After about five hours and several visits with various police officers, we were on the road with our spare tire firmly in place and the mutilated one in our storage compartment.
Approximately 60 miles down the road, another BANG. The front passenger side tire blew out its sidewall. Same thing with the cell phone and police visits. Finally the AAA tow truck driver arrives ready to change our tire. We had explained that we no longer had a spare when we called, but that didn’t get relayed to him. We made a reservation for the night at an RV park in town, told the tow driver where it was (he said he knew it well), and we followed him into town in our car. He whipped into the RV park and passed up the #2 spot where he was supposed to stop almost immediately and got stuck at the end of a row unable to make the turn with his truck and our RV in tow. With a little bit of maneuvering he was able to get our motorhome’s right rear side about four inches from the protruding front of a parked 5th wheeler. With a little more maneuvering he managed to get it about 1/4 inch from the 5th wheeler. He called another tow truck, and they hooked onto our tow bar in the rear and pulled our home away from the other vehicle. When the second tow driver was leaving, he drove over the water and electrical connection boxes on an RV site. The water looked like Old Faithful, and the electrical sparks ignited into flames. About midnight we were in our parking space with our stabilizers holding up our damaged rig and exhausted.
The outcome was the tire company gave us three new tires, we got everything replaced and hit the road for Salt Lake City. On the third day in Salt Lake Ray decided to stay home while I drove to the library. Exiting the freeway, I felt the car was slowing down, and moving along the surface streets things got worse. Approximately two blocks from the library I was sure the transmission had gone as I could only move in first gear. Ray drove the motorhome in and picked me and our errant car up. The mechanic informed us that the fluid in the new rear brake cylinders (which we replaced in May) was the wrong kind and had caused the brakes to lock up–so much for my knowledge of what is wrong with a car when I’m driving it. So, now we needed to replace the new rear brake cylinders, plus the master cylinder. Fortunately, the company in Concord, California which did the work is going to refund our money (The check’s in the mail?).
So that’s our tale of woe for this month. With all the down time I did manage to get the harddrive on my computer reformatted, programs reloaded, web pages updated and photographs in order. We have reservations for two weeks in Yellowstone at the end of July, so we plan to tour Colorado and Wyoming until then. We possibly won’t have much telephone and/or internet service for the remainder of the summer.
We are just down the road from the Colorado National Monument, 32 square miles of plateaus and canyons, which was first protected by the National Park Service in 1911. The rim drive around the canyon was built between 1931 and 1950 and is a beautiful, winding drive around the soaring canyon walls. We saw two eagles dipping and soaring and screeching just above us, and the scenery is stunning. From many angles the Bookcliff range of Utah forms the backdrop for viewing the canyon. The spectacularly colored formations in the National Monument are a vivid contrast to the solid grey of the Bookcliffs.
Between the campground and the Colorado National Monument was a roadside marker designating “Dinosaur Hill,” so one morning instead of going for a walk near the campground, we went to Dinosaur Hill. It turns out that this place played a very special part in our personal history. On this simple looking hillside in 1900, Elmer S. Riggs, Assistant Curator of Paleontology at the Field Museum in Chicago, excavated the remains of an Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) excelsus. This was the dinosaur exhibited on the Field Museum main floor and visible each time we entered there, which was possibly hundreds of times. The Field Museum was one of the places you went in the winter when the weather kept you inside, and the inside was too confining. It was the place you went on a rainy Sunday afternoon in spring or fall, when other plans had to be canceled. And, if you were at the beach in summer when the weather turned ugly, the Planetarium, the Aquarium or the Field Museum were your choices of refuge. Anyway, now Dinosaur Sue holds the place of honor once occupied by Riggs’ Brontosaurus, but it is still there in another location. So, that’s how our past is connected to a hill in Colorado, and we very much enjoyed our morning stroll there.
SILVERTON, CO AND THE MILLION DOLLAR HIGHWAY
We especially enjoyed the purple Grand Imperial Hotel which opened in 1882. The lobby features a larger than life-size portrait of Lillian Russell painted by Joseph Imhoff, an ornate iron staircase, a mirror-backed reception desk, a tin ceiling, and a wonderful Remington bronze. The Painted Lady Saloon is the place Sheriff Bat Masterson snagged outlaw gangs, and Bat left a bullet hole in the 100 year old carved back bar. Looks to me like old Bat was a pretty bad shot though, since the bullet hole is almost at the ceiling.
BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON NATIONAL PARK
Royal Gorge, CO
Colorado Springs, CO
Yellowstone NP, WY
.....Old Faithful Inn
On the other side of the mountain from Silverton is the ski resort of Telluride. Silverton’s brochure is obviously referring to Telluride when it states, “Silverton has not yet suffered the fate of some of her neighbors and been developed to unaffordability, yuppified to death with trendy chain shops, pricey cafes and high dollar condos.” Telluride is a delightful town, but the statement certainly rings true. We were walking along a trail next to the river in town, and Ray picked up a brochure for a penthouse condo–three bedrooms and 3.5 baths. He asked me how much I thought it was, and I took a wild guess at $1.2 million. Well, I wasn’t even half right. It is $2.75 million.
So now that we had the lay of the land, we proceeded to take the gondolas up the mountain to enjoy the mountain ski village and the sights from on high. We returned to town to enjoy main street, and some of its history. The town surged with a mining boom beginning in 1875. Butch Cassidy and his “Wild Bunch” began their bank-robbing career at the San Miguel National Bank in 1889. William Jennings Bryan delivered a version of his “Cross of Gold” speech in front of the Sheridan Hotel. By the 1960's Telluride was practically a ghost town with less than 600 residents. The 2000 population today is still less than half of what it was during the mining boom, but there is possibly more money there now. Looks like a great place to ski, so if that’s your avocation, try it.
The weekend of Independence Day, Montrose hosted a hot air balloon festival. So on the 4th, we got up at the crack of dawn and drove to the field to see the thirty balloons take off. Too windy, so no go. Ever confident, we repeated our efforts the following morning and were rewarded with the thrill of our first balloon festival. Watching them inflate en masse and then rising into the sky was fabulous. Now I’m ready to head to Albuquerque’s Festival, which folks have been talking about for years. We took over 100 photos and have to narrow that down a bit to conserve some hard drive space. In the evening we went over for the “Glow,” which takes place after dark and the flames in the inflated balloons makes them glow from the inside. Sort of like big luminaries.
ROYAL GORGE, CO
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO
While at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, we attended a lecture about Sacajawea given by her great-great-great-niece, Rose Ann Abrahamson. In case you’re scratching your brain’s grey matter to recall why the name Sacajawea sounds familiar, it is because you undoubtedly studied about her in seventh grade history class. She was the native guide that accompanied Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition. Abrahamson (I’m assuming this is her married name) gave some history of the Lemhi Shoshone tribe of which she and Sacajawea are both members. Her tale of Sacajawea is a little different than in the history books. Seems Sacajawea was an abused wife who traveled with her young child and abusive husband until she couldn’t take it any longer. She then left the expedition and returned to her Idaho tribe.
Lunch one day at the hotel Buffalo Bill built and named for his daughter, The Irma, afforded us a closeup look at the cherrywood bar that Queen Victoria (of all people) gave to Buffalo Bill. We didn’t attend the nightly rodeo held in Cody this time through. We intended to, but put it off and a huge windstorm the night we planned to go made us reconsider, c’est la vie!
NATIONAL PARK, WY (click here for photos)
The trapper, Jim Bridger, told outlandish stories of the park, and mountain men bragged, “A fellow can catch a fish in an icy river, pull it into a boiling pool and cook his fish without ever taking it off the hook.” Post Civil War adventurers Folsom, Cook and Peterson took off their hats and “yelled with all our might” when they saw Old Faithful erupt, but they only confided this to their closest friends for fear of being laughed at. Finally, in 1871 the director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Ferdinand Hayden, took a party to explore the region in June 1871. He was wise enough to include a landscape painter and a photographer in his group, so finally their artwork and a 500 page report convinced Congress this place was not a hoax. Yellowstone became the first national park (in the world) in 1872. The rest, as we say, is history.
OLD FAITHFUL INN
It was also just outside the inn that we encountered a bison family. The mother and calf were grazing contentedly with hundreds of people streaming by. The park rules state you must keep a distance of 25 yards from all wild animals but there was no such distance observed here. However, just a few feet away a ranger closed off the trail and was routing people around it because Poppa was grazing there. He said the cow and the calf were pretty safe, but the bull was not to be messed with. We took him at his word and made a wide berth around the bull.
At our sunset visit to Old Faithful a coyote was making a nuisance of himself in the parking lot scrounging food that careless visitors had spilled. A ranger would shoo him away, and he would retreat to another spot out of the ranger’s view. Earlier we had spotted a couple of coyotes along a road, but they we quite skittish, unlike the street-wise one in the parking lot.
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Mammoth Hot Springs
Grand Teton NP
Craters of the Moon
|GRAND CANYON OF THE YELLOWSTONE AND FALLS
Canyon Country is home to this breathtaking place. The view from Artist’s Point looks like a Hollywood set, because there couldn’t be anything that spectacular for real. Plunging 109 feet from Yellowstone Lake, Upper and Lower Falls bring the Yellowstone River through the golden and white cliffs of the 24 mile grand canyon. On a Ranger nature hike we walked the South Canyon Rim and saw the tremendous power of the falls close up while gaining information on the plants and animals in the park. An interesting note, bark missing from trees is caused by three kinds of animals. We had already observed bison scratching themselves against trees, so concluded they caused some of it. But, the Ranger pointed out rings of missing bark higher up on trees are from porcupines. Seems lots of porcupines make their home there, but because they are nocturnal and very shy, they are seldom seen. Bear marks are distinctive also, more like claws.
"The Yellowstone Park is something absolutely unique in the world. . .This Park was created and is now administered for the benefit and enjoyment of the people. . .it is the property of Uncle Sam and therefore of us all."
MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS
While the geological features of Yellowstone hold your attention most of the time in the park, there are other things of interest. The 19th century history of the flight of the Nez Perce Indians with Chief Joseph through the park in 1877 is a haunting story of a people trying to maintain their freedom. The amazing herds of buffalo which were once almost extinct, the elk and deer grazing in meadows at sundown, and the coyotes are merely a part of the wildlife in the park. While we did not see any of the bears or wolves that live in the park, they apparently are flourishing. In 1995 fourteen wolves from Canada were released, and the latest count in the park was 271 living there. Yellowstone is truly an amazing place, and we feel fortunate to have visited there.
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WY
Once again, the history of the place is fascinating. Archeologists have determined that Paleo-Indians made summer camps in the Teton valley following the last ice age, about 9000 B.C. until they left between 1000 and 1600 A.D. This is about when the tribes of Shoshone, Crow, Gros Ventre and Blackfeet made summer camps here. Spain included the Rockies in their ownership, but the Spanish explorers who visited the southwest in the 1500's didn’t come this far north. France claimed ownership of this part of the Rockies until the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the Russians extended their ownership of Alaska south, and in the early 1800's the English and Canadians argued over ownership with the U.S. A treaty with the British in 1846 finally made American control official.
An explorer from Lewis and Clark’s 1806 expedition returned and did some trapping here, and the beaver trapping explosion began. The fur trade brought the likes of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the mountain men. Indians and white men shared in the beaver business, and also in the white man’s smallpox. About 1840 when beaver hats were no longer fashionable, interest in the Tetons faded.
Mountain man, Jim Bridger, collected information about the valley in 1840, and the Homestead Act of 1862 brought settlers to a difficult life the valley. In 1929 the peaks and some lakes became Grand Teton National Park. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. bought 35,000 acres over a period of years for $1.4 million with the intention of donating it to the national park, but for 15 years, congressional and local opposition kept them from accepting the gift. He forced their hand, and in 1943 FDR created a national monument with the land, which didn’t require congressional approval. Today’s park was finally created in 1950 by merging the two areas. Since then tourism has surpassed cattle ranching, and Jackson Hole to the south has a year-round thriving economy.
CRATERS OF THE MOON NATIONAL MONUMENT, ID
MC CLOUD, CA
|September||MACKINAC ISLAND, MI
With little time to spare, we rushed back to the Bay Area (yes, again), visited with the grandkids over the Labor Day weekend, then caught a plane to Michigan for our son’s wedding on Mackinac Island. On a clear but windy day in the presence of his and her parents, Paul and his fiancè, Robyn were joined in matrimony on a Mackinac Island veranda overlooking the Straits of Mackinac. A buggy ride around the non-motorized island followed the ceremony, then dinner, champagne and cake. They honeymooned in Ireland. Wedding photos here!
COOS BAY, OR
Next back to the Bay Area to prepare for the California wedding reception in October and movers when our Arizona home is complete in November.
|October||We boxed and repackaged various items which we had rummaged through
in storage over the last few years and finally got everything shipshape
for the movers to come when needed. Next we turned our attention
to getting the party for Paul and Robyn’s Wedding Celebration underway.
Everything came together nicely, and we celebrated with them and friends
on the 18th at Gail and Tom’s home. The weather cooperated, and the
evening was cloaked in candlelight, white lights, friendship, good food
and good friends.
We managed to visit some more with family and friends before heading off to Nevada where I had to report for jury duty on November 3rd.
|Arriving on Sunday before I had to report for jury duty, we attended
church in Las Vegas, and Ray remarked how each time we have been to church
there, the song leaders are so good. I just figure they are retired
lounge singers. The one we had this time was certainly animated.
Fortunately, I wasn’t picked for a jury and had to spend only the one day
there, so we left for Arizona early. We visited our new home shortly
after arriving in Arizona, even though it wasn’t quite finished.
Everything was coming along nicely, and we were thrilled with the outcome
of all our choices in the building. We closed escrow on the 13th,
the movers delivered our stored belongings a week later, and we have been
unpacking since then..
Unpacking was truly an adventure, even more so after not seeing our things for over four years. I would open one box and think, “Oh, look at that, isn’t that nice.” Then the next one and say, “Why on earth did we keep that?” Then frequently, “What WAS I thinking when I bought this?” I reminisced over old photographs, mourned when I found articles made by a dear friend who died last year, and cried when I opened the box with the note from my mother identifying items of hers and bidding us farewell with love.
We did some necessary shopping––a dining room set (gave our old one to an offspring), sofas, and garage cabinets went in to give us room to store the things we possibly shouldn't have moved at all. We have no landscaping or window coverings yet, but all things in good time.
Social activities have been limited. We attended a wine and cheese party and saw the Rockettes when they were in town. Square dancing has been infrequent so far, but we plan to change that as soon as the bulk of this work gets finished.
By Christmas when Pam and Mark came to visit a few decorations were in place, all boxes were unpacked, and everything that had a place had been put away. Of course, many things still didn't have a place, but, like I said before, all things in good time. We had a great visit with two of our children and visited on the phone with the others.