Two Different Ways to Spend January 1, 2014

21 01 2014

I can’t really tell you a lot about this next adventure.  Truthfully, when Nathan said, ‘do you want to go hike up that mountain to the flag pole?  It’s about a 5 hour return trip,’ I thought to myself…..I could go on a hike and start this New Year off right by hiking on January 1st OR I could enjoy the last day of Arizona sunshine and soak up some sun while I’m reading a book in the backyard…… Tough choice, kind of….but not really.

So, I opted to spend a day reading in the sun and getting tan lines on January 1, 2014.

Nathan and Jonathan went hiking up this:

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There’s not exactly a path – just old waterfall trails where they had to scale up large boulders and skid down slippery shale rocks.  But the views were worth it.

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Every year a group of Hillcrest Bay folks take on the challenge of the hike and put a new flag up.  I have to say, seeing the flag whipping in the wind from down below, it looks a lot more professional than the reality of the flag pole from the top.  They hadn’t gotten to the 2014 trip yet…

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They almost made it through unscathed.  But then came the attack of the prickly pear.

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It took them 4 hours to climb up and walk a round-about way back down.  In that time, I read a book, ate Christmas leftovers and soaked up the sun to get a shade or two darker.  Who had the better day?





Hitting the Dirt

18 01 2014

Apparently we have an All Wheel Drive vehicle.  Well, Nathan was determined to put it to the test.  Where else but in the desert landscape of Arizona (technically we were on the California side, but it doesn’t seem like CA), where you can pretty much take to the dirt anywhere you want and drive through the cacti, donkey droppings and joshua trees.  Just make sure you follow a trail, don’t get stuck in the sand, roll your vehicle, or back over a bush…(whoops Jerry…..) and leave some bread crumbs to find your way home.

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The Subaru XV made it through and held its own next to the Toyota FJ.  Not too bad…not too bad at all.

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Cloudless blue skies and dust bunnies being kicked up by off road vehicles, ATV’s and possibly a few people wandering around chasing donkeys and bribing them with carrots and tasty green apples.

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Father/Son Bonding

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Momma and Baby were a little skittish

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The Triplets

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Felt like we were back in time in an Old Western





From Beach to Desert to Bright Lights

17 01 2014

Good Morning Sunshine!

After 3 days of (almost) non-stop driving with most mornings spent waking up hours before the sun decided to show its face, it was heavenly to wake up after the sun came up.  And better than that – this was the view from our hotel room at Mandalay Beach in Oxnard, CA.

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Breakfast with the locals, a walk on the beach chasing sand pipers and skirting the waves.  It may look warm and balmy but that water is still shockingly cold on the toes.

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An afternoon soaking in the hot tub, an after-soak nap and watching the sun ease its way down beyond the horizon after the end of a relaxing day.  Can’t get better than that.

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From sand and surf to desert and burros – and it only took 5 hours!

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Check out those fuzzy bangs!

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Mom & Baby # 2

Two days after strolling the beach – Vegas….

From the Vdara Hotel – a view of the Vegas Strip and the Bellagio Fountain Show

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And to enjoy the different side of Vegas – Old Vegas….and the Fremont Street Experience.

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Just like Rules…Routines are Meant to be Broken!

2 04 2013

There is something comforting and familiar about routine.  I’ve spent the last few weeks establishing a pretty good rhythm of learning spanish, working out, knocking out puzzle after puzzle, doing a little bit of work, and of course…. stalking seal pups.  But just like rules, routines are meant to be broken.  And it was definitely time to shake up the grey, drizzly weather of Seattle.

So off to Vegas I go, for sunshine and Vitamin D, and some much needed quality time with Nathan.  As I landed in Vegas, seeing the sun glinting off the Mandalay Bay, I thought, ‘finally.  Some sunshine.  I can’t wait to feel that warmth on my face!’.  But as we’re used to in the Pacific NW – sunshine does not mean warm!  It was still cold with the wind whipping my hair around me.  And, I took a look at the weather forecast in Seattle, and wouldn’t you know – sunshine….every day and 60+ degrees, which in Seattle terms = heat wave.

Well nothing knocks out the routine like landing in Vegas and seeing a car hauler driving down the road, and knowing that that’s your ride.  A strange thing to see a big truck and know that that type of vehicle is your most familiar mode of transportation criss crossing around the country.

Nothing normal about the week that we just had.  We spent the weekend hanging out with some of the feistiest, sassiest women I have ever met.  Yes, they were in their 70′s but you would think you were watching the antics of the best of friends in the early years of university (before that last year when you start panicking that you need to figure out what you’re doing with your life).  It was so great to see all that energy and craziness.

We started the week drinking Landshark and soaking up some rays puttering around Lake Havasu.

Landshark Spokeman

Landshark Spokesman

But once we hit the road it was a blur of saguaro cacti reaching out their arms in strange angles in the desert as we passed through Arizona.  On a side note:  I just started reading ‘The Host’ by Stephanie Meyers and we drove past Picacho Peak – what a coincidence!

Wednesday morning was a 2am wake up call in Deming, New Mexico and watching the sun come up over the hillside early in the long drive through Texas.

Texas Sunrise in 'the middle of nowhere TX'

Texas Sunrise in ‘the middle of nowhere TX’

It seems crazy that you can drive all day and still be in the same state.  Aside from the sparse sightings of Texas Blue Bonnets, the highlight of my day – I swear I saw a zebra eating hay in the Texas hill country.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

And just when you think that you’ll never, ever, get out of Texas, we hit the bayous in Louisiana, crossed over the 16 mile bridge over Lake Pontchartrain and made our way into Alabama.

Finally…finally, we found ourselves driving through the dark outskirts of Jacksonville, FL and wound our way to the oceanside at Jacksonville (Jax) Beach.  Three days and 2200 miles later, we finally found our landing spot for some much needed R&R.

Such a different week than the ones I’ve spent the last few months, but strangely enough, I can’t say that it’s a week that I haven’t had before, or one that I’m sure to have again.  Funny to see what becomes ‘normal’ over the years.





Tired of Being a Raisin

16 01 2013

As tough as it is to leave the constant (and guaranteed) sunshine of the desert in Parker, Arizona, I’m a little bit excited to have a little moisture in the air.  To be honest, I’m a little weary of drying up like a raisin in the desert air.  And surprisingly I miss falling asleep to the raindrops falling outside my window.  I don’t know how long that will last, but fingers crossed the clear skys and high pressure system that’s hanging out in Seattle will stick around for a little while, or at least the skies don’t try to drown me out too quickly.

A couple last images of the clear desert skies, sun-kissed mountains and the Bill Williams River.

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Brrrr…It’s Cold in Here….

14 01 2013

Here I thought we were heading to the warmth of the desert in Parker (Lake Havasu City), AZ.  Well there’s definitely sunshine, but where’s the warm kiss of the sunshine on my face?  Highs of 45 degrees and Lows of 25 degrees?  What is that all about????

The orange tree that we just planted is struggling.  It may actually be holding onto dear life as it shivers in the wind at night.  We’ve done our best by putting blankets over it and taping cardboard around its trunk when the sun goes down – hey it’s definitely not pretty, but hopefully it’s providing some protection.

And with all the buzz about the flu epidemic?  Well, this part of the desert has not been exempt.  I think everyone I have come in contact with the last few weeks has been hacking away and by some miracle, despite the fact that the three other people in my household have taken their turn as a self-designated ‘sickie’,  (Well, maybe not so much as self designated, but that’s what I’ve been calling them), I have still remained unscathed.  I like to think it’s because of my superhuman immune system and strength of mind, but who we kidding, I’m usually the first one sick and give in to it like a little baby. So, I guess I have to thank the round of immunizations that I had to have during the process of getting my green card.  I resisted them at first, but looks like I won out in the end.

Well I can’t say I have any advice for dealing with the cold temperatures (besides looking at the views from inside the cocoon of warm blankets while sitting by the fire) or battling the germs in the area other than unexpectantly planning ahead with a full round of vaccinations.  But I do recommend healthy doses of Vitamin C and if you’re ever in the area of Mesa, AZ, you’ve got to stop by B & B Citrus Farm, because they have got some tasty fruit on their trees!

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The Grass IS Greener on the Other Side

26 03 2012

Amidst the craziness of Spring Break in Lake Havasu City, AZ, you can still find some peace and quiet.

But you need to head to the other side of the London Bridge and make your way to Topock Gorge.





Spring Break Spectators

31 03 2010

Five years after I’ve finished up my university experience I can now finally say that I have experienced Spring Break.  A week of crazy fun in the sun.  Where anything goes.  And whatever happens during Spring Break, stays at Spring Break, with the exception of all those spring breakers that saw what happened, and all of their friends that they tell, and the photos posted on facebook, and….. well let’s just say it’s a lot more complicated for spring breakers now a days in the world of social media.

All of this had been a mythological idea to me because I went to school in a place where “Spring Break” was called “Reading Break” and it lasted 4 days instead of 9 and you actually had to read because you had a whole list of midterms and papers due on the other side of this “Spring Break” and so, instead of leaving you just stayed on campus to study.

Now I should point out that in order to take these photos, I was actually on the other side of the channel.  The side of the channel that instead of housing the party boats and the drunken masses, held the Spring Break Spectators.  We like to call ourselves the “SBS” Crew.  It was me and Nathan in our boat, a pontoon that was decked out to look like a tiki bar, a handful of Norwegian girls, and a boat which could have held a younger (but not by much), more tanned version of the “grumpy old men” who sat in their boat with their shades on (or “cheaters” as some call them), drinking their Labatt Blue watching the parade of Spring Break festivities.

So now the truth comes out!  I didn’t partake in the Spring Break Festivities.  I only watched them.  And I’m kidding about calling ourselves the “SBS” Crew.  Really I am.

But this is really quite lucky for you.  Because if I was involved in the festivities on the other side of the channel, I wouldn’t be in any shape to give you this commentary of how things went.

You know how when there’s a big crowd  of people that you don’t know and to make sense of what’s happening you start to give people nicknames?  Well in this crowd of people there were quite a few characters who stood out.  There was Pastie Girl #1 and Pastie Girl # 2.  These were the two girls on the beach that were wearing pasties instead of bikini tops (since these are allowed during spring break as an alternative to running around topless).  When they are together we called them “The Pastie Girls”, but when they separated from each other they lost all of their charm and just became “Pastie Girl #1 and #2″.

Then, there was “The Guy with the Box on his Head”.   Don’t ask me why he had a box on his head, cause I have no idea, and to be honest, I don’t think he had any idea either.  It didn’t do him any good because he was bouncing around in the water, lost his balance and fell head first into the side of a boat.  Once he finally removed the box from his head he realized that he had a cut gushing blood above his eye.  But not to worry, he just dunked his head in the water and carried on his with Box Activities.

His close competition to most memorable character was “The Crooked Swimmer” who swam crookedly from one side of the channel to another, holding his breath the entire way as he crawled along the bottom and popping up with a bloody nose.  Although we saw him under the water with his red shorts, the two ducks that were floating in the water were mighty surprised when he popped up under them and they nearly flew into our boat.

The grand prize winner, and most talked about person of the day, was none other than “Senior Citizen in a Thong”.  He walked up and down the boardwalk shaking his money maker.  Let’s just say, if someone was walking beside him wearing nothing but “tighty whities”, they would be overdressed.  As he passed by, everyone took a second look and I’m sure he heard the telltale “click” of the camera.

My personal favourite was “Booty-Shake Girl” who held court on top of the wall above all of the boats.  She danced like she actually had ‘junk in the trunk” and the guys loved it.  That is, until she started throwing beer on everyone.

There was “The Guy with the Cowboy Hat made out of a Coors Light Box” that joined the party late in the day but soon hooked up with “Pastie Girl #2″.

A boat filled with “The Smart Kids” rolled past the scene in a bright and shiny new pontoon, dressed in crisp white short sleeved collared shirts and modest bathing suits, rolling their eyes at the slowly deteriorating scene on the beach.

And then there was “The Guy with the Band that Chased Everyone Away”.  Just as the ‘breakers’ were getting a second wind and the music was pumping, the booties were shaking and couples were pairing off like rabbits, we see a bass drum, a high hat…. no wait, a whole drum set, complete with stool being unloaded from a boat onto the side wall.  Then there’s a mic stand.  Finally “The Guy with the Band….” gets on the mic (telling the boat to shut off their music) because he came all the way from The OC (4 hours away) and he’s here to shoot a music video, etc etc.  With his silver bikini-clad hype girl by his side, he starts a song, that no ones knows and no one cares to know.  Soon, the party boat (with all the good music) leaves.  Then one by one, all of the “SBS” boats head out.  Even the younger, tanned “Grumpy Old Men” leave!  Finally, with a last plea to the crowd “The Guy with the Band that Chased Everyone Away” yells out, ‘Everyone who stays gets a free CD!

And that, is the end of Spring Break 2010 in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.





Nathan and Traci… Or is it?

31 03 2010

One afternoon Nathan and I took the boat out on the water to find a little cove to listen to music, sunbathe, and really just to enjoy the fact that we are on vacation.

We were soon joined by visitors.  A pair of ducks came by looking for snacks.  A brightly coloured “2 curl” Mallard and his sweet looking girl duck mate.  I named them Nathan and Traci.

While Nathan and I (the people) sat in the bow of the boat, Nathan said, “What’s flapping over there”, as he looked towards the back of the boat.  When I looked I saw the end of the towel flip over, and said, “It’s just the towel”.  Nathan didn’t believe me and I went to check it out and what did I see?  Little “Traci” had jumped up onto our boat and was flapping her wings.  I freaked out and then little “Traci” freaked out and flew off the boat.

I can’t believe it!  Do birds actually board boats here?  As I sat at the end of the boat talking to the ducks I could tell that she was going to do it again.  First “Traci” jumped up and when Nathan told me to leave her alone, little “Nathan” saw that they were welcome and what did he do?  He jumped right up on the boat as well.  Enough!  I yelled at them and they both dove off the boat.

But they circled the boat, like sharks circling their prey.  Soon little “Traci” had jumped back on the boat, and Nathan (the person) starts talking to her.  “Come on up then.  Come see what’s happening.  There’s nothing up here for you.”  As he extends a hand out to her he says, “Don’t slip”, as she waddles further and further into the boat.

As I watch all of this unfold (and take photos), I told Nathan, “She CANNOT jump down on the seat.  That’s too much for me, because then what if she can’t get back up and needs help, who’s going to help her get up….” So Nathan proceeds to tell her that we have commitment  issues and neither he nor she wants to commit to her jumping down on the seat.

Meanwhile, “Nathan” the Mallard, starts quacking up a storm and little “Traci” jumps off, joining him in the water.  And as they quack at each other and swim off into the distance it leads me to wonder what they are saying to each other.

And in my mind it goes something like this:

I bet I could get on that boat”

“You wouldn’t dare”

“Dare me!”

“Okay.  I Dare you”

“Excuse me, is this seat taken…:

If this doesn’t sound familiar, then go back and read a couple posts back, “Closing Down the Place” and you’ll see an almost identical conversation.  So it makes me wonder if these ducks aren’t “Nathan and Traci” Companions but “Nathan and Vanessa” Best Buds!





Scenes from the Desert

31 03 2010

After walking through the neighbourhood in Parker, AZ we’ve come to realize that in the desert – Anything Goes.  And when I mean “Anything” I mean the most random things you can think of can be considered “yard art”.  It’s really quite amazing that walking past no more than 20 houses you can see little stone piglets rooting around in the garden, a trio of stone coyotes howling at the cactuses, and a submerged hippo, serpent and other unlikely animals in the desert.  There are native inspired wall hangings of the sun, the mythical creature Kokopelli and weird Native American head statues siting on top of a hill.  I think I even saw a rooster at one house.

The one thing that brought the most enjoyment and was the least bit surprising to see were the various types of cactuses (or is it cacti?)  For being a barren desert, this place is full of blooms (a result of so much spring rain this year).  Everywhere you look are bright pink cactus blooms.  The pink is so intense that even the camera can’t capture the full colour of the flowers.  The mountains are covered in new green growth and sage bushes and there are yellow and purple wildflowers sprinkled around the dessert.  This doesn’t even include the bright green paddle cactuses and pink barrel cactuses that are soaking up the sun.

And as the sun sets on the mountains and the daytime scenes fade away into the shadows, there’s a new scenery as the stars come our twinkling.  Every night I get a kink in my neck because I’m constantly looking up at all of the stars and watching the Easter Bunny appear in the full moon.








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