Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Saguaro National Park

What a beautiful place to see. We got up early and spent about 3 hours in the desert. We went to the Park west of Tucson. There is a very nice little visitor's centre there. They have a slide presentation that is shown and it is well done - worth seeing- and after the show the curtains behind the screen open and there are these huge window's and this beautiful view of the desert. Very well done. This is somewhere we will need to go back and see again. I bought some Prickly Pear Cactus Syrup at the gift shop -- we have a few recipes in our new cookbooks that call for this.

Some of the Cactus were in bloom. This is the Saguaro Cactus.

We walked up the Signal Hill trail where we saw the Petroglyphs. There are quite a few up there. It was a lovely - not too hot morning. We saw a rabbit and quite a few little lizards and the air was just buzzing with bugs - it was amazing to hear the buzzing so steady and loud. We neve saw many bugs and we never got bit by any. Unlike Death Valley where the black flies were the size of helicopters and they bit!
I took about 120 pictures at the Park. It really is worth the drive - at first it seemed a long way to drive - from Sedona to Tucson just to see a few cactus - or cacti. But I am really glad that we did go see it.

Arizona is just a stunning place to visit. Every 20 miles it looks completely different. Tucson is a nice city from the little we saw. It is huge - spread out -- everything is miles from everything. Houses are so far apart that I think people must have to drive everywhere - and with the heat! Although it was not that hot - by Tucson standards - the day we were there, only about 96 F. It is a nice dry heat and not really uncomfortable. Of course we are used to very mild weather, in the summer the average temp. here is probably in the mid 80's ( 25-26 C). Posted by Picasa

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Ring Bearer Pillow

I thought I would take a brief break from the trip and post a few pictures of the little pillow I made last night for Jessica's wedding. She asked if I could make a pillow for the ring bearer. Of course -- out I went and with the help of Andrew - who I ran into at the mall. We chose the fabric and lace at Fabricland - and then I went off to Walmart and bought more lace and tassels and ribbon. I made the pillow last night. It measures about 8 inches square. And as you can see I have enought left over lace to make about 10 more!! I bought 1 metre of the satin fabric - talk about over kill!! But I think it's a lovely little pillow and I think Jessica will love it.
Jessica's theme for the wedding is Red and White and Roses and Hearts -- so I made this table runner for her a couple of months back. I posted a picture of it quite awhile ago when it still was not finished but I thought I would post a picture of it finished.
The wedding date of June 24th is getting closer and we are starting to get busier. We spent all day today in the garden putting in some annuals and weeding the various beds. We still have quite abit of outside work to do and lots of things to prepare. Jim has brewed the beer so that's done. The next month will be very busy. I just hope it gets sunny because the wedding is supposed to be outside in a little park up the street. The reception is in the Village hall -- so if it rains I guess the wedding will be in the hall as well. We will say a little prayer every night for a sunny day on June 24th. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 26, 2006

Leaving Sedona -- finally - on to Tucson

We made another stop before we drove straight through to Tucson. We stopped at Montezuma Castle National Monument. It is one of the largest and oldest cliff dwellings in the area. Once occupied by the Sinague people. It was quite hot and hard to imagine what it would have been like living in the stone house built into the cliffs in the heat. Another free stop thanks to our National Parks pass.
Here is a picture of Phoenix from the car. It was a beautiful sunny day - but not too hot. We basically drove right down through Phoenix and on to Tucson on the I10, except for a quick stop at an outlet mall in Casa Grande so Jim could buy a new pair of running shoes. His were in pretty bad shape and really needed to be replaced. He brought 6 pairs of shoes with him - I have no idea why -- a pair of duckie boot -- just in case it rained and the car got stuck and he needed to push it out??-- so he said. I brought 1 pair of shoes and 1 pair of sandals. Anyway - he bought another pair of shoes in Casa Grande and then on we went. We got to Tucson quite late in the day - it is about 225 miles from Sedona to Tucson. We stayed at a Day's Inn at Cortaro. The woman gave us a good deal because when she asked if we were eligible for any discounts Jim said "no, but I come from the home town of Steve Nash" -- so she was a big Phoenix Suns fan. We had dinner that night at a resturaunt right by the hotel -- Cracker Barrel, Jim had catfish and I had "chicken fried chicken" which I have never had before and it was very good. (Still haven't been to Jack in the Box) The place if full of things from the past. Bought the kids some things -- Double bubble, harmonica, and a few games. Bought a little game with a wooden board and golf tees -- "jump one and remove" for Eric. Anyway --- long day and the next day we were going off to see the Saguaro National Park. Posted by Picasa

Sedona to Tucson

I had to add a few more Sedona pictures. Sedona is just full of beautiful red rock hills and cliffs and apparently it is also famous for it's Vortex's and the Mystic people who live there. You can see many signs around advertising Psychic readings, etc. It is a beautiful --- eclectic place.
This is a church that was built into the rock just outside the town. The chapel of the Holy Cross.
Beautiful red rock and cactus. We saw two deer in the bushes around the chapel. We took a couple of red rocks from a pile of rocks at the Sedona High School to put in our garden at home.
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Some more pictures from Tlaquepaque. Posted by Picasa


We went back into Sedona the next morning around 9:30 - the shops were just starting to open and the streets were quiet. There is quite an artistic community in Sedona and the streets are full of beautiful little statues and figures. I just loved these little pigs. There are quite a few art galleries and craft shops. I saw a quilt shop but it was too early and a Sunday morning so it was not open.
Another statue on the street in Sedona.

We also went to a little craft village that is just off Highway 179 in Sedona. It was called Tlaquepaque - it is quite hidden and you could miss it if you weren't looking for it. It has lots of little crafts and gift shops, galleries and restuarants. It is beside a little stream and in the shade of many deciduous trees. Nice place to spend time. We found a little Kitchen shop and bought two books "Real Women Eat Chiles" and the "Sonoran Grill" Both full of great recipes with all kinds of Chiles that can not be found in Canada! But we had a plan!!
One of the courtyards at Tlaquepaque.
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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Grand Canyon to Sedona

We went back to the Grand Canyon in the morning and Jim walked down the Bright Angel trail for an hour and I took the little shuttle bus out to some of the view points along Hermit Road. I just hopped on the bus and was quite away down the road when I found out that there were quite a few stops along the way and then entire trip to Hermits Head (where there was a gift shop/snack bar and bathrooms) was 1 1/2 hours. So I did not go all the way -- but I really need to go back and do the entire trip along the shuttle - there are stops and viewpoints and it is incredible to see the canyon from the viewpoints along this road. This is a picture of the Koib Studio. It is a small gift shop and art gallery that sits right at the edge of the canyon. It is in the small village that is there. There are some beautiful painting on display - some for sale and some just to look at. I took lots and lots of pictures, but none really do the Canyon justice.

I really liked the to see the Park Rangers all dressed up with the Hats. It was like seeing them when I would see them on TV back in the 60's. It is amazing to see those hats. And the signs for the National Parks is the exact sign I remember from TV as a child. We didn't have American channel but we must have seen Park Rangers and National Park signs on "Wonderful World of Disney"

We stopped just down the road at a little camp ground and had our lunch in the shade. Nice little park full of Ponderosa Pines. The drive south on Highway 64 and 180 was through the Kaibab National Forest. Lots of trees and lovely and cool and green. I took lots of pictures -- again. There was a large snow covered mountain off in the distance -- Mount Humphreys - highest point in Arizona -- 12,633 feet -- that is high.

Coming south of Flagstaff into Sedona the road descended quite a lot. Sedona sits in quite a valley surrounded by large cliffs of red rock. It is a beautiful area - very different from the Flagstaff/Grand Canyon area.
Sedona is also FULL of tourists -- tons and tons of people - we were quite surprised to see so many people. But is was a Saturday and the weather was beautiful and hot. The town was so full of people that the traffic slowed to a crawl about 2 miles before the town. This is a picture taken on a bridge about 5 miles before Sedona. You can see all the people on the rocks at the edge of the river.
We did not even attempt to find a room in Sedona. We drove on to a town about 25 miles south, Cottonwood. We got a nice room at a new Quality Inn there.

The area around Cottonwood is really nice - it is a wide open valley (unlike Sedona which is quite closed in). It was very hot there. We wandered into Walmart and attempted to buy a few items with the self serve checkout. I very nice young girl helped us out. I'm sure she thought we were a couple of morons. We don't have the self serve checkouts in Canada and Jim thought it would be quicker -- it took three times longer we double entered stuff and couldn't figure out how to delete stuff - a bit of a production.

We had a great Mexican dinner there, and we wandered around a great food store called "Food City" that was just stuffed with Mexican food - I have never seen so many corn tortilla's in my entire life. Impressive. It was a good day. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Eagle Eye Cam - Powered By Infotec Business Systems

Eagle Eye Cam - Powered By Infotec Business Systems

I am trying the Blog this on my tool bar. This is a website that has a live camera on an Eagle's nest. The nest is on Vancouver Island near Victoria. I have been watching the two little eaglets. It is quite amazing to see - I have seen the parent Eagle come and feed them and the parent seems to settle for the night in the nest and the babies snuggle up under the parent. I think the mum and dad take turns.

Anyway I will continue to post about our trip - I am posting mostly for my own benefit so I will remember the trip --- 10 years from now or so - as we did so much I need to have it written down somewhere or I will never rememeber the details - like where we stayed and what day we saw what place etc. I really think we need to go back to Arizona - and I hear New Mexico is the same.

Anyway if anyone is interested in watching some great live video of baby eagles -- enjoy!

The Grand Canyon

We arrived at the Grand Canyon around 2:30 in the afternoon. It is an amazing place. The most amazing thing about it - beside how large and beautiful it is - it's amazing that there is just flat land and small pine trees as you drive up to the canyon, you don't even have any idea it is there until you are right at the edge of it. There really aren't words or pictures that can describe it - ever. You must experience it yourself. It was quite a cloudy day with some rain off in the distance. So there are a lot of cloud shadows on most of my pictures that afternoon.
This is Jim looking over the edge. Jim and a friend had made a trip to the Canyon 25 years ago. When he went then he walked the Bright Angel trail to the bottom - Phantom Ranch and back in one day. Now there are signs all over the trail to warn people not to attempt to walk to the bottom of the canyon and back in a day!
We got a room at the Red Feather Lodge just 2 miles south of the Park gate. The cost to get into the Park is $25.00 - we had just been to the Death Valley National Park and realized on getting to Grand Canyon we should have bought a National Park Pass for $50.00, so we purchased the pass at the Grand Canyon and the Park Ranger gave us credit for the $20.00 we had already spent at Death Valley when Jim showed him the receipt. That was a great purchase - we went into alot of National Parks after that and never had to pay again.

We had dinner and then went back to the Canyon to watch the sunset. It was a beautiful evening. It really is a special place. We then went to the IMAX Grand Canyon movie, it was very good. Watching the movie of the people going down the Colorado River in the rafts through the Canyon - now that would be a great trip to do -- maybe one day!! Posted by Picasa

The old Cars in Seligman

I thought I would put in a few pictures of the old cars in the town of Seligman.

This is the sign for the Road Kill Cafe. The pictures are not quite ending up in the order I would like them but this will be okay. I will post the Grand Canyon next. Posted by Picasa

Los Vegas to the Grand Canyon

We left Los Vegas first thing in the morning and this is the Hoover Dam. We drove along the Interstate most of the way but then we left the Interstate briefly for a lunch stop. We had a nice lunch packed in the cooler and when we pulled off the road by chance we ended up in this little town called Seligman. Which happens to be a bit of an historical site on the old Route 66 highway -- and there was a antique car show going on that weekend.
We ended up having a lunch of ribs at this little tent instead of our packed lunch. The Road Kill Cafe was right next door. Years ago when Andrew was about 10 he had this Road Kill Cafe T-Shirt, I can't even remember where he got it - so of course we decide he needed a new one - and his new one glows in the dark!! Not sure what he thinks of that!
The town was quite busy with people and cars. Great to accidently stop in to the place.
I had uploaded a few more pictures but it seems that four was all the program would take. It is a bit of a challenge at times - this blogger. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 19, 2006

An RV park at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley.
Jim inspecting the creek for Pupp Fish.
Our lunch stop at Death Valley Junction.
The fountains at Bellagio's with Caesars Palace in the background. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Ridgecrest to Los Vegas

We got up not too early and headed out northeast on Highway 178 towards Death Valley. There were just a couple of little towns along the road (Trona being the main town) boy did Trona look desolate, out in the middle of nowhere.

Death Valley is really quite beautiful, it was hot and dry - about 98 degrees F. We first stopped at the summit (4956 ft. in elevation) and took a few pictures. There is a washroom at the summit and the honey bees have invaded the men's urinal! Looking for any water they could find I guess. We stopped at Stovepipe Wells for a bit - there is a couple of shops there and a little resort and RV Park. Not a tree for a thousand miles. It is hard to imagine camping in an RV in the middle of Death Valley.

The lowest point in Death Valley is 263 feet below sea level. We went to the visitors centre around Furnace Creek and then drove back toward where we had been to see the Pupp fish that swim around in a very tiny little bit of hot desert water ( husband is a biologist - need I say more) There were thousands of Pupp fish and Thousands of Black flies - the biggest Black flies I have ever seen in my life. And I have seen big Black flies - I lived in Winnipeg Manitoba once!

Onward to Los Vegas - our planned stop for the night. We had lunch at Desert Valley Junction under the shade of an old building in the centre of town. Interesting places these desert towns.

We got to Los Vegas around the usual 4 p.m. time. Didn't seem to matter what time we left somewhere or how far we were driving we always seemed to get in sometime in the late afternoon. We drove around Los Vegas for awhile. I had never been there before. Quite the site all the Hotels that you see from the TV etc. Caesars Palace, Circus Circus, MGM Grand etc. Both Donald and Ivana Trump are building hotels there. We didn't want to stay at a big hotel as we had lots of bags and a cooler etc to haul up and down elevators so we decided to stay at the Howard Johnson. What a dump!!!!! The lobby was nice - our room was terrible - I got to experience my first cockroach laying on it's back in the bathroom. (I should have taken a picture) Fortunately that was the only one and we were too tired to find something else so we stayed the night.

We took the bus (which took forever) to the main area of Hotels etc. While we were sitting on the bus in front of Caesars Palace we saw all these crowds of people standing around - and right then some guy on a motorcycle did a jump and flip on his motorbike over the fountain at Caesars Palace. We saw the landing only from the bus.

We had Dinner at Bellagio's. Nice meal. Walked around Los Vegas a bit - it really does look wonderful at night with all the lights everywhere. Bellagio has these fountains and lights that go off to music. Some hotel had fire and fountains. Everything is HUGE!! We went into Caesars Palace and put some money $1.00 into a slot machine - with the assistance of someone who works there. Neither one of us has ever gambled but I really felt I should try since we were in Vegas after all. But all the codes on the slot machines and what they mean after they spin -- anyway in the end I won $3.00. So I took my money and we ran! Taking the bus back to the hotel - it was more crowded and slower at 11 PM than it was at 6PM. As we were waiting in line for the bus another tourist was looking for change for a $5.00 bill to get on the bus - but no one had the change - so I gave her $2.00 - my entire profit of winnings. And that was Los Vegas - it was a long and tiring day.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Carmel to Ridgecrest California

Blackwells Corner - the last place James Dean stopped before he crashed his car and died.

Kern Canyon, California along Highway 178

I am now back home and after a few days of feeling very tired I think I am recovering from all that driving. Altogether we drove 7600 kms. I will post the rest of the trip over the next few days or so. I will add the pictures from the lap top because the pictures are still there. I will be a bit of a complicated process.

We left Carmel and headed west. The goal was to get as close as we could to Death Valley so we could go stay the night somewhere and head into Death Valley early in the morning. We drove south down the 101 to Pasa Robles where we then headed east along the 46. The is a little town along highway 46 that we drove right past - Cholame - which is apparently where James Dean crashed his car and died. We stopped at a little gas station in Blackwells Corner to eat lunch in the shade and that is apparently the last place James Dean stopped into before he died. That is how we found out that the crashed his car at Cholame. There are pistachio and almond trees all along the road and the gas station in Blackwells Corner sold all kinds and flavours of these nuts. We bought 3 bags, had lunch and continues onwards.

After driving through Bakersfield we headed along highway 178 through the Kern Canyon and past Lake Isabella. A lovely little canyon set in the Sequoia National Forest. It was getting quite dry and hot compared to the cool foggy air around Carmel. We saw Joshua Trees as the countryside was getting quite desert like after Lake Isabella - which is a man made lake. We got into Ridgecrest around 4 p.m. or so. We stay the night at an Econo Lodge - okay place. We ate supper at a nice Mexican restaurant. The food was good. The air was hot and dry and there was a real hot wind in the evening. I really loved the wind. I stood out on the balcony of the motel late that night with the hot wind blowing. I couldn't help thinking about the book "The White Oleander" with the "Santa Ana Winds" Lots of different climate zones as we drove from west to east in California. From the cool ocean air to the hot desert.
The sunset from the hotel room in Ridgecrest. It was a lovely night.