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:


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.




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



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.




Father/Son Bonding


Momma and Baby were a little skittish


The Triplets


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.


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.





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.



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


Check out those fuzzy bangs!


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




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





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.









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!



A Difference in Surroundings

3 01 2013

It’s funny what a difference a change in scenery has on your mentality.

While trying to stay dry during a very soggy November and December in Seattle, you get used to constant cloud cover.  It’s expected really.  You start to make distinctions between heavy clouds, light cloud cover, and of course, rain clouds.  It could be misting outside, or it could be drizzling, sprinkling, light rain, and this Fall we saw constant consecutive downpour days.  This winter I was introduced to ‘Lumpy Rain’ as well, as the temperature fell and the rain clouds rolled in, it was just not cold enough to snow and instead produced raindrops with just a little bit of ice, making those raindrops fall just that much heavier.

Anyway, my point is that with so much weather that you’re trying to dodge throughout the day, it makes it difficult to get outside for that vitamin D your body craves, especially if you hate to walk around in the rain.  You become obsessive about the hourly weather forecast, trying to time your outdoor activities in between the 1 – 2 hour breaks from the rain during the day.  A glimpse of blue sky makes you giddy, and full out sunshine, well you barely have time to get your shoes on before your body is jumping outside and heading to the waterfront.  In Seattle, you take advantage of any non-rainy weather.  Period.

But what do you do when you find yourself in constant sunshine?  A place where the norm is sunshine and when a couple clouds find their way in the horizon, it’s a hot topic of conversation.  You find yourself indoors, that’s what!  You take that sunshine for granted and when you look outside and see bright sunshine and moonscape views, you think, ‘oh – another sunny day. It looks a little cool and breezy out though.  Maybe an inside day….’.  And when there are a couple clouds in the sky and surprisingly a few raindrops, well, it’s a HIBERNATION DAY.  Turn the fire on, grab the blankets and let’s watch a movie.  Where in one place the raindrops are the norm and their absence is an opportunity you take advantage of, in the desert, a few drops are cause for hibernation.

Well, today we made a trek out into the desert in the front yard.  A path of crumbling rock, sprouting cacti (and their skeletons) and the panoramic views from up above.