Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Heaven On Earth

Oh what a beautiful day! Grandpa and I were there to pick up the grands at school. They had early dismissal today and here they are...
Do you think they're happy to see us? Or just happy that they are out of school early? Dylan is behind Shelby and there is Jackson behind the boy in the white shirt.

We saw Sandee at her work early this morning and after picking up the grands we went to their house and got to see Shawn for a bit. Then we all came to our new little home. The grands love our new place and were so excited that we were able to bring the girls with us in the RV!

There should always be chocolate chip cookies at Grandma & Grandpa's house...

And the girls get treats too!
Lovin' Life ~~ And My Own Heaven On Earth!

We're a Stone's Throw Away!

I have enough space left on my mobile broadband, which expires tomorrow, to post one more movie of today's drive through Arizona. This was taken soon after the last one I posted and this is in the same Apache Sitgreaves National Forest. As we drive throughout this magnificent country of ours, I continue to be awestruck by how quicky the terrain can dramatically change! Nature is so very [time to insert your own adjectives again]!

For those who may not have the interest or the patience to watch another movie of Rich and I driving around the country (although for the life of me I can't imagine what you could be doing that would be more important! teehee) here are a few, very few of today's shots.

From the Continental Divide in New Mexico yesterday at an elevation of 7,275 feet, we dropped more than 5,000 feet to arrive here in Apache Junction, AZ although it sure didn't seem like it to Rich as he drove through the Mazatzal Mtns just north of here. Neither of us had ever heard of that range but it is huge! There were 6 or 8 passes of 6% grade up and then 6% grade down but somehow we did end up at a much lower elevation at the end of the day. We drove into Mesa, AZ from the Usery Mountain Park which is where all the fabulous cacti photos were taken.

As we dropped into the land of cacti, I took photos of some favorites and will start with mine, ocotillo...

This next one is Rich's favorite, the jumping (or silver) cholla...
And finally, this is Mom's favorite cactus, the mighty saguaro...

Now, I bid you all a good night! There's nothing more important than a good night's rest for Grandpa and I because tomorrow we get to see the kids!!! And tonight we sleep a mere stone's throw away from them...
Lovin' Life ~~ Anticipating Tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We're In Arizona!!!

It's a very short drive from Gallup, NM into Arizona. We made a brief stop at the Petrified Forest National Park, just to get some information for a future stop, and got great advice on a different route to where the kids live.
Driving through the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest, just before Heber, AZ I took this video. You might be surprised to see plants like this in's not all desert!

We pulled off just past Heber for lunch and a driving break; soon after we got back on the road we were driving through pine forests and rock canyons! Maybe I'll post another movie.

The surprising and varied terrain today has given me something to focus on when I'm so excited to be getting closer and closer to the kids!

Lovin' Life ~~ and Scenic Surprises

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Mexico...Cool!

I'm glad we took yesterday off because today was another long one of driving broken up by some very cool sights. While getting ready to leave the RV Park this morning, we watched this Osprey take off from the airport behind us, fly in a large circle, and land. I had never seen one of these. The Osprey is a tilt-rotor aircraft that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter and flies like a plane by tilting its wing-mounted rotors to function as propellers...combining a helicopter's operational flexibility with the greater speed, range, and efficiency of fixed-wing aircraft-Wikipedia The propellers are in a horizontal position in this photo enabling it to perform like a helicopter. In flight, the propellers are rotated into a vertical position like the props on other!

Here's one last look at Cadillac Ranch as we left Amarillo this!

Seen along the interstate was this Horse Motel which was a first for me; it even has individual pens outside the!

This may be the best and most welcoming state line sign we've seen this!

Rich has gotten into the habit of giving the girls a handful of small treats after we eat lunch. Now Bella sits at attention and stares intently at us until treat time. Dora lies on the couch waiting for him to throw them to her there. Focused on their goal and SPOILED but!

We stopped at a Walmart in Albuquerque for our afternoon break and I went in to get a few things. On skids inside the doors were large burlap bags filled with ? When I checked out, the folks in front of me were buying four of these large burlap bags. I asked the cashier about it and turns out this is harvest season for Hatch Chiles which are grown only in the Hatch valley of New Mexico and are considered by many to be the best chiles in the world. Each burlap bag contains 30 pounds of chiles and costs $16.99; you can buy red, green, mild, medium, and hot. Most folks try to buy enough chiles to last until next year's harvest. That price includes roasting them. Oh yeah, outside the store there is an area with several gas fired roasters that have cylindrical metal mesh baskets that turn constantly tumbling the chiles so they roast evenly. After purchasing your bags of Hatch chiles, the Walmart employees dump a bag into an open flame roaster and cook them until they are tender and the skin blackens and falls off. They are then removed, cooled and you bag them in whatever containers you brought for that purpose. This is not something we would see at our local Walmart! Here are some photos of the guys roasting some very hot!

Confession ~~ from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque I dozed off from time to time and was dreading the rest of the drive through New Mexico because there was nothing to see, nothing to cows, no hills, no rocks...boring. But did that ever change west of Albuquerque!

I'm going to post just a few photos but let me tell you...if you have always heard about the awesomely beautiful red rock formations at Sedona, Arizona but have never been able to go, just meander along I-40, which parallels Historic Route 66, all the way across western New Mexico. There are seemingly endless miles of the most beautiful red rock formations I have ever seen...and yes, we have been to Sedona...and yes, it is beautiful. But, Sedona is also frightfully expensive. Saving a few travel bucks is!

Lovin' Life ~~ It's Cool!

Cadillac Ranch - Amarillo

West of Amarillo, on the road leading to our next stop after Palo Duro Canyon yesterday, we checked out a cotton field; the fluffy cotton is the purest white.

Next to the field, I also captured this great bokeh shot of wildflowers...

Not all of our sightseeing yesterday was natural beauty though. Our next stop was the famed Cadillac Ranch. I love installation art or, more to the point, that glimpse it gives us into the minds of some fascinating artists. How do they come up with these ideas AND get someone to fund them? Ten Cadillacs, from the years 1949 to 1963 representing the evolution of  that automobile, make up the installation called Cadillac Ranch which was originally created in 1974. The creation continues to this day because writing graffiti on or otherwise spray-painting the vehicles is encouraged and several people there today knew to bring cans of spray paint. Alas, we did not know.
The first photo below may be familiar to some who recognize it from a movie mentioned here a couple of days ago. A tribute to the Cadillac Ranch was featured in the Walt Disney and Pixar film Cars. The fictional town of Radiator Springs sits at the edge of an area referenced on a map as the "Cadillac Range", and throughout the movie, rock formations shaped like the upended cars can be seen as a horizon backdrop. ~ source, Wikipedia  What an incredibly cool coincidence! Cars of our family's favorite movies.

Lovin' Life ~~ Especially Those Cool Coincidences!

P.S. Yikes! So much nature and art in one day must have sent Bella into sensory overload. Here she had just dribbled pee on my toes...gee whiz...definitely time to call it a day and head for home!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Grand Canyon of Texas

Have you ever heard of "The Grand Canyon of Texas"? Neither had we until we saw signs for it as we drove along. It is Palo Duro Canyon, they claim it is the second largest canyon in the United States, and it's located 27 miles southeast of Amarillo. Taking the girls with us, we headed out this morning, convinced that we would be underwhelmed after seeing so much incredible scenery in our travels this year. After all, isn't all of Texas flat?

Quite the contrary. The canyon is huge and beautiful and all the reds, tans, golds, grays, etc of the many rock formations are heavily dotted with the green of the mesquite, cottonwoods, and juniper...overwhelmingly awesome!

Doesn't this next photo make you want to lace up your hiking boots and climb up there to explore that cave? What? You don't think so, huh? Not me either...

We drove through a running stream which reminded me of country roads when I was a kid; it was so exciting then (and now) to drive through flowing water.

Blooming cacti...

Flowing streams throughout the canyon...

A hoodoo is a tall, thin, protruding spire of rock...

MOAO & The Girls...

There are five resident Texas Longhorn Steers, part of the Official State Longhorn Herd, in the Palo Duro Canyon State Park. They feed them treats at 1:30 every afternoon to entice them up to the gate for visitors to see. Today, the three six year old youngsters never did show but we saw the two oldest steers. Biscuits is 29 years old and Gravy is 24 years old. Their horns are something to see, and to avoid. The Interpreter who was there today had his nose broken by Biscuits a couple years ago when the steer swing his head to the side to swat flies and the guy was standing too close. The steers are all named by local first graders.

This is Biscuits...

And here is Gravy...
Lovin' Life ~~ and Its Continual Surprises!