Category Archives: 2014 Roadtrip

Southern Oregon Coast

We left Klamath, California on Friday morning and headed north toward Oregon.  Our first stop was the Klamath Overlook where the Klamath River meets the Pacific Ocean.


We crossed the border into Oregon and stopped at the Gold Beach Visitor’s Center.  We met a very friendly and helpful lady there who gave us loads of good information about the Oregon coast.  We got our first look at the coast at Gold Beach.  It was chilly but beautiful.


Our next stop was Port Orford Heads.  The ocean was totally wild and we were totally mesmerized.


Cape Blanco was next.  The lighthouse was closed but the surrounding coast was amazing.


We then made a mad dash to Bandon Dunes Golf Resort where Bill’s niece Rosemary works as a cook at the Pacific Grill restaurant. We had reservations for dinner and it was scrumptious!  Rosemary surprised us with desserts, a lavender cake with a yogurt topping and blueberries as well as a warm chocolate chip cookie with ice cream and caramel sauce.  They looked great and they tasted fantastic.

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Here’s Rosemary in her kitchen at the restaurant.


After dinner we had what seemed like a long 25 mile drive to Coos Bay in the pitch dark with fog.  We made it unscathed and had a restful night.

We woke up to a foggy Saturday morning in Coos Bay.  We were meeting Rosemary in Bandon at around noon for lunch so we had some extra time in the morning.  We decided to go to the Face Rock Creamery and check out the handmade cheeses since the fog wouldn’t matter indoors.

After the Creamery, the fog had cleared and we went into old town Bandon.  We were looking around their waterfront and saw what appeared to be the entrance to the harbor and went to take a closer look.  There were ten foot waves at the harbor entrance!  I’m not sure how anyone would ever get in or out with their lives.  This picture was taken standing on the jetty on the south side of the harbor entrance.


We met up with Rosemary for lunch and then went looking around the cute little shops in Bandon.


Our next stop was Coquille Point on the Bandon Beach Loop.  We  seem to have replaced our tree pictures with ocean and wave pictures.  We just can’t help ourselves, the coast is stunning!


Cape Arago was the next stop.  Again the ocean was wild with rocks everywhere.  What an amazing sight.


A final stop at Shores Acres State Park showed even more of the wild coast.


We then headed into Florence where we will be spending the next two nights.  We had to go over this bridge to get into Florence.


We checked into our lodgings and went out to dinner at Homegrown, a restaurant Rosemary had recommended.  We had another great meal along with some good musical entertainment.

After we got home, I went through the information we got at the visitor’s center and came up with a bunch of stuff to do in the Florence area tomorrow.  We should have plenty of time to see the sights and have some time to relax as well.



Coastal Redwoods

We left Manteca on Wednesday morning and drove to Ukiah, California without incident.  We stopped for lunch in Santa Rosa at a Chick-fil-A and took this picture.

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That’s about all that happened on our way to Ukiah.  We stayed in a really nice, new hotel and the room was great.

We left Ukiah on Thursday morning under cloudy skies!  It’s been ages since we’ve seen clouds.  We drove on the ‘Avenue of the Giants’ and saw lots of big coastal redwoods.  They practically grew right on the road.

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When we got to the Redwoods National Park we also arrived at the Pacific Ocean once again.

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We walked on the beach a bit, it was a little cooler than we’ve been used to lately.

As we continued on our way, traffic was stopped for some elk on the road.  There were a bunch of them including a couple of really big ones.  I would have never guessed we would see something like this in California.

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We went for a little hike in the Lady Bird Johnson grove of coastal redwoods.  Again, the trees were amazing.   You’d think we’d get tired of looking at them but they continue to amaze.

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The tree bark is really interesting.

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The terrain is really different here, so green and lush compared to the desert like conditions of the sequoias.  It’s really beautiful and reminds us of home.

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This evening, we checked in to a new hotel in Klamath, California.  It’s about the only thing in Klamath, California.  We had a great meal in an odd place recommended by the lady at the front desk.  It was a 7-11 type market with some tables in the back where we had yummy homemade chicken and dumplings.

Tomorrow we’re heading to Coos Bay, Oregon by way of Gold Beach.  It’s supposed to be rainy so we’ll have to wait and see how much sightseeing we do.  Like I said, it’s beginning to remind us of home.


Monday morning we left Exeter for the Fresno airport where we said goodbye to my mom.  She went home to Anchorage with its freezing temperatures and snow.  I’m glad we didn’t have to go home quite yet.

Bill and I were headed to Yosemite but we didn’t have a place to stay and needed to get that figured out before we left.  We decided to go to a restaurant where they had wifi, get some lunch and make some plans.  We had a great lunch but they didn’t have wifi so we didn’t find a place to stay.  We also needed some sort of a cooler to keep our grapes cool so we went shopping and found a cheap cooler and some ice.  When we went to put it in the back of the car, we found that the top had come off a container of oatmeal and spilled.  Next stop, a car wash with vacuums.  After we got the mess cleaned up, we decided to go to the library for wifi.  While at the library, we found a condo in Yosemite West that was available for the night and were finally able to get started on our journey around 2pm.

Our first stop in the park was the Mariposa Grove of giant redwood trees.  Again, they were magnificent.  We only took a couple pictures since we’ve got lots of tree pictures already.  Here we are in a tunnel tree that was used for horse and buggy travel.

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And here is Bill by the roots of a fallen tree.

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After checking out the trees, it was getting late and we had no idea where we were going to find dinner.  We knew there wasn’t any food available close to the condo and yet we didn’t bring much with us, go figure.  We checked in and I asked the manager about places to eat.  She indicated, in her broken English, that we would have to go into the Village, something I was hoping to put off until the next day.

We drove into Yosemite Village where it was pitch dark and we had no idea where we were going.  They don’t waste a lot of money on lighting in Yosemite.  We finally found the Lodge and then had a 40 minute wait for dinner.  Bill wasn’t pleased.  😦  When we did get dinner, it was very good and the drive back home was much easier than expected.  Upon arriving home, I found a flyer on top of the microwave oven advertising pizza delivery to the condos.  Really???  That would have been perfect.  Oh well, If we ever come back we’ll know.  We were so tired at this point,  we just fell into bed.

Tuesday morning, we got up and got going to see the rest of the park.  We started off by driving to Glacier Point, where there was a great view of Half Dome, one of the iconic rock features of Yosemite.

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We had our picture taken with Half Dome in the background.

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There were lots of other rock features, I believe this one is called the Three Arches.

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After Glacier Point, we drove into Yosemite Valley.  After driving through a tunnel,

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the other side held an amazing view of the valley with the other iconic Yosemite rock feature, El Capitan, with Half Dome in the background.

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Here is El Capitan on it’s own.

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And here it is from the other side.  It was a gorgeous day with gorgeous views from every direction.

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We continued our drive through the Valley and stopped at the Merced River where Bill couldn’t get over the awesome views in all directions.2014-10-27 Yosemite (68 of 119)This is a rock formation that I really liked.

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There was something amazing to look at every way you turned!

After making a loop through the Valley, it was time to move on.  We left the area on a different road than when we entered the park which gave us even more varied vistas.  After leaving Yosemite Valley, we saw some interesting country that had recently been ravaged by fire.

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What an amazing place!

We had to drive for a while to get cell service and when we did, we called a bunch of hotels in the Stockton area only to find them all full for the night.  We finally found a place that had two rooms left but they were right under the air handling unit for the building so could be noisy.  We took a room, in Manteca, California, and since Bill is already sound asleep, I don’t think the noise is going to be a problem.

Now that I’m finally caught up on my posting, I need to figure out where we’re going to go and stay for the next couple of days.  My detailed pre-planning for this trip stopped at Yosemite and I never got around to going any further, oops.

Our next destination is Redwoods National Park on the North coast of California where the tallest redwood trees are located.  I think it will take a couple of days to get there but it should be well worth the trip and will put us on the coast for going into Oregon.

Big Trees and Wine

We left Ventura on Thursday afternoon after my mom and I had lunch with a bunch of her friends from high school and grammar school.   Here we are with Uncle Andy and his friend Chris.

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It was another lovely day and another pleasant drive.  We arrived in Exeter at our cousin Jim’s house just in time for dinner.  We seem to have a knack for that.

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We met his daughter Judy and her family at a local – you guessed it – Mexican restaurant and had a very nice dinner and chat.

Jim, who is 80 and soon to be 81, had to work on Friday.  He’s an entomologist and does pest control work for some of the local farmers.  So, Bill, my mom and I went to Sequoia National Park for the day and were WOWED by the big trees.

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It’s impossible to put into words how amazing these trees were.  It was difficult to take pictures because they didn’t fit in one shot.

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Bill got a few with the panoramic setting on his phone that turned out well.

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We went for a walk through a grove of sequoia’s at the visitor center.  Here we are by the roots of a fallen tree.

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Here I am inside a different fallen tree.

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After the walk through the big trees, we climbed the 350 steps to the top of Moro Rock.  We had seen the rock from the road on our way up to the park.

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Here we are climbing up to the top.

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When we made it to the top, the views were spectacular.  The mountain ranges in the background,

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and the valley in the foreground.

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We were even able to smile a little after the climb.

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After we descended back to terra firma, we saw the General Sherman tree, the largest tree by volume in the world, as well as the General Grant tree, America’s Christmas Tree.  We also drove through the tunnel log.

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It was a great day.

On Saturday, we went wine tasting in Paso Robles.  There are over 140 wineries in the area and there were grapes everywhere!  Here are Bill and Jim doing some tasting.

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While my mom and I waited.  It wasn’t bad since most of the wineries had gift shops attached.

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Saturday evening, Jim’s daughter Judy and her husband John had us over for dinner.  John grilled some amazing beef and we had a wonderful dinner with the family.

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Sunday, we went to breakfast with some friends of Jim’s at a great little restaurant, The Whistle Stop.  After breakfast we walked around Exeter looking at the murals that have been painted on many of the downtown buildings depicting Exeter’s history.  They were very well done and most of them had some hidden objects in them that we tried to find.

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Later in the afternoon, Jim took us to one of his growers’ farms and we picked some grapes and tangerines.  It was really fun and they tasted amazing.

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Sunday night we went to In and Out Burger, one of Jim’s favorites and had an early night since we had to get my mom to the airport in the morning.  Another amazing day!

Big Bear

Monday morning arrived sunny, of course, and we went to the zoo.  The San Diego Zoo is one of my most favorite places.  Here are my mom and I going into the zoo.

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It was a perfect day, not too hot and not too cold.  Matthew, Jenna and Caleb were just leaving the zoo when we arrived so we were on our own.

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Emily was there too, she can’t get enough of Caleb.  She had just finished work and was on her way home.

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Once inside the zoo, we spent some time in the reptile house while we awaited Mike’s arrival.  I had never spent much time there before but it was actually quite interesting.  As long as the plexiglass stays put, many of the creepy crawlies are really colorful.

After the reptiles, we saw a bunch of really cool animals.  Most of them were out and active which made it even more fun.  The lions were crunching on big bones.

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The mountain lion was enjoying the shade.

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While the leopard was enjoying the sun.

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There were giraffe’s,

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and koalas.

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As well as apes and

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Animals everywhere!  We stayed until they closed the zoo and could have stayed longer.

After the zoo, we went into Old Town San Diego for dinner.  We found a really good Mexican restaurant and, you guessed it, ate too much.  A great end to an even greater day.

Tuesday morning we headed up to Doris and Mike’s cabin at Big Bear.  It was about a three hour drive through the mountains and it was beautiful.

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Once we got to the cabin we had a really relaxing evening playing pool and watching a movie.  What a gorgeous place.

Wednesday morning we spent a little time on the front porch enjoying the sunshine.

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Doris was definitely enjoying her cabin time.

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Later on, we went around Big Bear City and Big Bear Lake to see the sights.

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It was a really quaint village.  I would like to see it in winter when there’s snow.  It would be fun to go tubing and skiing all day and then go back to the cabin for some rest and relaxation.  What a perfect winter getaway.

We stopped for lunch at a little café in Fawnskin, a small community on other side of Big Bear Lake from the cabin.  Mike got a Portobello mushroom burger and it was a big one.

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He thoroughly enjoyed his lunch as did the rest of us.  It was a great place to eat.

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After lunch we had to take off for Ventura, California so we said our goodbyes to the Gilson’s and got back on the road.

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The trip took a little longer than expected due to traffic but it wasn’t too bad considering we had to traverse LA.  We arrived at my Uncle’s house just before dinner time.  He took us to a cute little Mexican restaurant (there are lots of these in California) where we had another good meal and now we’re watching the end of the 2nd game of the World Series.

Tomorrow afternoon we’re off to Exeter, California and wine country.

So Cal, So Cool

Saturday morning dawned sunny and warm – what else?  We’re in Southern California!  We spent a leisurely morning visiting and then had our yummy Italian leftovers for lunch.  Somehow Italian food seems just as good or better the second time around.

After lunch Bill and Mike went for a bike ride while Doris and I went shopping.  The variety of shopping available here is astounding.

We arrived back home in the early evening.  Mike had gone to work at the church which was having its inaugural Saturday evening service.   Doris, Bill and I went to pick him up after the service and we all made a mad dash to the San Diego Chicken Pie Shop, one of my all time favorites.  The place is nothing special to look at but the chicken pies are heaven with a crust.  We ate way too much (again), it’s just so good you can’t help yourself.

Mike had DVR’d the Oregon v Washington college football game which we watched when we got home before going to bed.  Go Ducks, they beat Washington handily for the 11th time in a row.

Sunday morning we got up and went to church.  We started at ‘The Venue’ a coffee shop/café style service with good music.


After the service we checked out the High School group where Doris does a lot of work and then went to the start of the second service in the sanctuary so that we could hear Emily, Doris’ daughter-in-law, sing.  She was amazing and it was a really enjoyable morning.

On our way home from church, Bill and I took the car through a car wash.  It didn’t get completely clean, that’s going to take some scrubbing, but it looks much better.  Because of the drought in California we can’t just wash the car in the yard with a hose so we’ll have to wait until we get to a wetter part of the world to do that.

We were able to get almost all of the Gilson family together for dinner on Sunday evening.   Before we left the house we got this picture of three of the Gilson women.  Starting from the left, Doris, Emily and Jenna.

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Here are Peter and I working on booking flights to Anchorage over the Christmas holidays.  The entire Gilson clan is making the trek to Anchorage for a wedding/vacation at the end of December.

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Matthew had to work so he wasn’t able to join us, but the rest of us had a great dinner at  Phil’s BBQ.

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Here are Jenna and baby Caleb.

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After dinner, Doris and I left to go pick my mom up from the airport.  We made our getaway through the window at the restaurant, it was a much more direct path to the car.

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My mom is joining us for the next week during the California portion of the trip.  We spent the rest of the evening visiting and looking at pictures and generally enjoying each others company.

Tomorrow we’re going to the zoo!  I can hardly wait.

San Diego

We survived the night at the Yucca Motel although we later found that we had left a pillow behind.  Hopefully we’ll get it back somewhere down the road.  The drive from Gila Bend, Arizona to San Diego, California was really easy with some amazing moonscape scenery.  There was desert,

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sand dunes,

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and mountains of rocks.

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We got to the Gilson house in the early afternoon and spent a pleasant afternoon catching up with Doris.  Later on, her son Matthew and his wife Jenna brought their 2 month old son, Caleb, over for us to watch while they went out to dinner for Jenna’s birthday.  He was a real cutie pie and when he was happy he was a charmer.


Doris made us a ‘San Diegan’ dinner of fish tacos, beans, guacamole and chips.  It was really yummy and made us feel like we were at the beach once again.

This morning we woke up to sunny skies and an early trip to Pacific Beach for breakfast at Konos.  We were able to sit on a deck overlooking the beach and enjoy the morning.  Jenna, Matthew, Caleb and Amy were able to join us and it was a good time for all.



After breakfast, Mike, Doris, Bill and I continued on with a day of fun in the sun in San Diego.  First, we went for a walk on the pier at Pacific Beach.

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We then got in the car and went around Mission Bay looking at the various marinas and beaches in the area.  We stopped at a waterfront park and played a round of bocce ball.  It was the boys against the girls and the boys won this first round.

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Next was a trip to Point Loma Nazarene University, the school that both Matthew and Peter attended.  We had a look around the campus and wondered how anyone ever got their school work done. The next stop was a scenic overlook at the Rosecrans National Cemetery towards North Island Naval Air Station and downtown San Diego.

north island naval air stn

We then made a pit stop at a cafe, Con Pane, where we  had some really good bread with dips for a snack along with coffee and iced tea for refreshment.

Next we went into downtown San Diego for a quick look around and another round of bocce ball in the park behind the convention center.  The boys won once again.

There were a bunch of really big yachts moored up right next to us.

fancy boats

Coronado Island was our next stop and we went to the Hotel Del Coronado.


We checked out the hotel lobby and shops and then went down the beach to dip our toes in the Pacific Ocean.  It was pretty cold but refreshing.


Balboa Park was our next destination and before stopping for another round of bocce ball, Mike showed us around the different areas of the park including a number of museums and an organ pavillion .  The boys won the bocce ball for the third time.  Doris and I are going to have to get serious for our next competition.

The next stop was dinner and Bill chose Little Italy as the place to go.


We decided on a long-time San Diego restaurant called Filippis.  We couldn’t find any on-street parking so we finally gave in to the valet parking and after a short wait, we were seated and had really good Italian dinner.

We got home around 9pm and I really needed to do some laundry and work on this post so that’s what I’m doing.  Tomorrow we’re going to work on being tourists for yet another day.  I love San Diego!

Desert Vistas

We woke up Monday morning to more cool, cloudy weather.  Were we really in Texas?  Actually, it was okay since we were planning to drive all day.  We left Plano around 10am and took Alan to the airport so he could go to work and then we were off to Odessa, Texas.  We hadn’t heard anything good about west Texas but the drive was rather scenic and included; wide loads,

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Wind farms,


oil fields and

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lots of desert.


We stayed in a brand new hotel, open less than a month, and it was outstanding .  We ate in a restaurant right across the street called the Cork & Pig Tavern where we got great food and had a short walk home.  All in all, we found Odessa to be quite nice.

Tuesday morning was sunny and warm.  We left Odessa on our way to Deming, New Mexico where we stayed with a good friend from Juneau, Sandy Adams.  She is taking care of her 91 year old mother who lives with her in this southwest style house.

deming house

She has two lovable dogs, Velvet a black pug and Blondie a tan and white pit bull who watch out for her while her husband is away driving his truck.

sandy dogs

We had a very nice evening catching up on what we’ve each been doing for the past few years.  Sandy made us a hearty, home cooked meal of pork chops, mashed potatoes, gravy and fresh asparagus.

After dinner we made a dash for a special place in the mountains near her home to see the sunset.  We missed the actual sunset but it was still beautiful to see the valley as it lit up at night.


We’ll have to spend more time investigating the area with Sandy next time we’re here.


This morning we set off for Gila Bend, Arizona and had a nice ride.  The car is really starting to get dirty.  With all the bugs, dust and dirt,  we’re due for a good wash and vacuum.

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The landscape throughout New Mexico and Arizona has been really interesting.  We’ve never seen anything quite like it.  I’m not sure I ‘get’ the desert but it’s a really beautiful place in its own way.

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Most of it has been really green since there’s been lots of rain lately.

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That probably makes a big difference in what we’ve seen.

We’re staying in an old fashioned motel tonight.


I’m not sure Bill is very happy with my choice but we’ll be fine.

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Tomorrow we’ll drive to our next destination, beautiful San Diego, California.  One of my best friends and her family live in Santee and we’re going to spend a few days visiting with all of them.  Oh, what fun this road trip is.

Big Tex

We got up to cloudy skies and  mild temps this morning.  As soon as everyone was ready, we went to the Texas State Fair.  We took the light rail from a station really close to the house and it saved a lot of time and aggravation in the car.  I think I was the only person wearing a sleeveless shirt at the fair and luckily it was really pleasant and we had a wonderful day.  We took lots of pictures, so here goes:

Here’s Big Tex, he welcomes all who enter the fairgrounds.  If you haven’t heard by now, everything is bigger in Texas.


Horse sculptures made from 3000 pounds of butter???

IMG_0770We went up in the Top O’ Texas Tower that rose 500 feet in the air and then rotated (not fast) so that you could see in all directions. Here’s the Dallas skyline.


The Texas Star ferris wheel at the fairground.


And the fairgrounds from above.  There were just a few people here!


Then there was the fair food.  You name it, they fry it!  Here is a strawberry waffle that Alan had bragged about.


I had to give it a taste.


It was a bit messy but really good.


Allison found a big dill pickle to her liking.


And, last but not least there were animals.  They included baby chicks,


baby pigs,

IMG_0786and cows.

IMG_0791We also saw the judging of some cows.  This cow was way bigger than his handler.  The cow got 3rd place and they were both really cute.


What a day!  It was great fun.

When we got home Allison had to take off for Tulsa, Oklahoma and a job interview tomorrow.  Good luck Allison!  Before she left, we got a group picture on the front porch.

gang front door

Later, we went out to the backyard and there were bunches of butterflies in the flowers.  They’re really fun to watch.  Can you see the butterflies?


I also have some pictures from last night out by the pool with shimmery water.

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And the group by the tree.

group  treeWhen Scruffy heard that we were leaving tomorrow, this was his reaction.


Now, we’re going to get some dinner and spend a relaxing final evening in Plano.  Since Texas is such a BIG state, it’s going to take us a couple of days to get across it.  Tomorrow we are heading for Odessa, Texas and an overnight stop before reaching Deming, New Mexico and a day with a good friend from Juneau on Tuesday.



Deep in the heart of Texas

We left Tennessee fairly early on Thursday morning stocked up with yummy pickles and pickled beets.  I got a shot of Tim’s swimming medals in the foreground, I couldn’t get him to pose.


We drove to Little Rock, Arkansas with nary a problem.  We had an okay dinner at Macaroni Grill and then went back to the hotel to sleep.  Not a terribly exciting day.

We left early again Friday morning on our way to Texas .  We arrived in Plano in the late afternoon to sun and 93 degrees.  It was another long but easy drive.

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After getting settled at casa Samuels, I made my way out to the pool. The forecast was for thunder showers and much cooler weather so I had to get my pool time in quick.  The water was a little chilly to start with but I had an enjoyable float.


When the bugs started eating us up, we moved the party inside and I started some much needed laundry.  After putting the clothes in the dryer, we went to dinner at a really good mexican place, El Norte, where we ate way too much.  On arriving home, we discovered that the dryer wasn’t getting hot, it was just going round and round. So, repairman Alan went to work.


After taking the dryer totally apart, we finally made it to the couch and watched the ALCS baseball game.  I was disappointed that Baltimore lost but Allison, who went to college in Missouri was pleased with the outcome.

Saturday morning dawned cool and cloudy and the Texans among us were happy.  Bill and Alan went to the store first thing and got the parts to finish fixing the dryer.  Bill and Allison went to the gym while Alan got everything put back together without a single extra screw and best of all, it worked.  It’s amazing what one can figure out how to do on the internet.

We went to lunch at a great BBQ place and after lunch stopped by a farmer’s market where they had lots of pumpkins.  It’s definitely that time of year.


Allison bought this pretty, little pumpkin.


Billy liked the big ones but we didn’t buy one, there’s not room in the car.


When we got home we went out to survey the backyard and check out the pool temp.  It was a bit too cold for swimming today, maybe tomorrow.


We stayed inside for the rest of the afternoon and watched a variety of football and baseball games with some napping interspersed.  Allison and I went to Target to do some shopping and later we went out for pizza and it was delicious.

When we got  home Alan made a fire in the fire pit and we sat around and relaxed and enjoyed it.


Now it’s time for bed.  If the weather cooperates, we’re going to the fair tomorrow. 🙂