Friday, November 29, 2013

Thirty Days of Thankful - Week Four

I'm participating in Cathy Zielske's "30 Days of Thankful" during the month of November.  I'll be using the Friday link-up day to post my pages.  

For these pages, I used Cathy's templates (available at Designer Digitals) along with papers and elements from Gobble On and Autumn Days (available at Sweet Shoppe Designs). I'll be using this same group through-out the month.

With the rush this week to host a Thanksgiving Dinner for fifteen, I got a little bit behind on creating my gratitude pages, but here is what IS done:

 On the version that will be printed, I actually changed this to Day 16 (the day we went to Ocean City to pick up furniture) and moved my car to Day 22.

 I had journaled "12" because that is the number I was working with. The day before Thanksgiving my brother Jason called to let me know that his entire family would be attending and the number I was serving jumped to 15. Luckily, I had already bought enough food! But I did have to purchase plastic plates and silverware... I don't own enough dishes to serve 15!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

October Travels - Part Three

On the last day of my short visit with Deb, we started the day with the happy reappearance of her tiny turtle Casper from it's little hole. So it isn't quite hibernation time yet!

We met Carrie for breakfast at a restaurant called T.C. Eggington's where I had the most amazing omelette with Havarti cheese, bacon, pear slices and almond slivers. I've attempted to duplicate it a few times at home with okay results using baby Swiss cheese (what I had on hand) but I really think I need to find some Havarti cheese to do it right. We got to hear all about Carrie's meeting with one of her favorite motivational authors - Todd Henry.

After breakfast, we headed for downtown Phoenix. First stop, Tovrea Castle:

I had already packed my Canon in my suitcase for my trip later that day to Los Angeles, so all of these photos are from my iPhone. Sorry about the quality on some of them - I am still learning!
Saguaro Cactus
Prickly Pear Cactus - complete with fruit!

To me, the cacti are the most quintessentially "Arizona" thing I've ever seen.

Our next stop was a part of town well-known for it's graffiti artists - and I was blown away:

Couldn't really even tell you what this was - it was some sort of sculpture in the same area with all the graffiti art. 
Here we actually caught an artist at work. Deb got much better photos than I did because she was willing to get out of the car and get up close. I, on the other hand, was having a difficult time with the brutal Arizona sun and preferred the comfort of the air-conditioned car. I'm sure I must have sounded a lot like Wendy Whiner that day.  I was okay in the shade, but the heat of the full sun was literally unbearable for me. Gives me a new admiration for the people who are able to live and thrive in that climate! Still, I loved driving around to see all the painted murals. 
  This one was my favorite of all! That's some talent to be able to do that with cans of spray paint!

From graffiti, we did a 180 and went to the Biltmore Fashion Park - an outdoor mall of some very high end stores - where we walked around a bit and grabbed some ice cream before heading to the airport. It was a lovely visit!

Then it was a short plane ride to my next destination:
Los Angeles. Where I spent four nights at the J.W. Marriott hotel (only on the 4th floor) and spent three days in sun-up to sun-down sessions getting all my continuing legal education requirements for the year. Not exactly exciting or glamorous but I did learn a few new things, so worthwhile in the end.  This photo was taken from the Los Angeles Convention Center which was just a short walk from the hotel.

And I arrived home so late on October 31st that I completely missed Halloween! 

And that concludes my October travels. It has been nice to be back home in my own bed for longer than two weeks! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

October Travels - Part Two

My second trip in October took me to Phoenix where I visited with Deb prior to heading to Los Angeles for another business conference.  I thought I could post my entire visit with Deb in one post, but when I started editing photos, there were just too many that I wanted to share! Rather than make this post a mile long, I decided to break it up over two posts.

When I arrived in Phoenix, Deb met me at baggage claim. So sweet of her! She was, as you would imagine, the perfect hostess. She had cleared out part of her craft room to make room for a bed for me and had left the sweetest little basket of toiletries and goodies in my room. There were small arrangements of fresh flowers everywhere. And her home is beautiful! I just kept walking around staring at all the little groupings of photos and things - she has such a flair for decorating in tiny collections. As a bonus I got to meet Doug and Carrie too! And Deb made sure I had plenty of paleo-friendly choices to eat!

The next morning, we left early and headed for Sedona. Deb wanted to show me her favorite places in Arizona.

Our first stop was the Chapel of the Holy Cross. This church is built right into the mountain. It is small inside but beautiful. You can light a candle in memory of loved ones, which I did, and I found the experience very moving and a bit unsettling. Definitely worth the drive to see this!
I also took photos of the local wildflowers

and this is Bell Rock as taken from the car on the drive to the chapel.
 After visiting the chapel, we drove to a shopping area where we had lunch at an authentic Mexican restaurant (that's a first for me... my idea of Mexican is "Chili's") and then walked around and visited a lot of shops. I definitely enjoyed the shopping because Deb likes to look at crystals and jewelry as much (or at least almost as much) as I do! And we had no men along making us feel rushed. Among my purchases - a pair of turquoise drop earrings and a small etched vase created by a Navajo artist.

 Our next stop was Crescent Moon Ranch. Here we got out and took a leisurely hike along a dirt path. Isn't that old water wheel cool? And the backdrop of the leaves in their autumnal glory was perfect!

Deb likes taking pictures as much as I do (you all know that already) and there was certainly plenty to photograph on this hike.
The path leading through the wooded area.
which ran along a creek
Can you see it? This is not something I would see hanging off a tree in Pennsylvania!
 At one turn on the path we suddenly came upon an area with these small cairns piled everywhere. As we walked further along the path there were more and more of them. It was very cool, but also somewhat mystical.
People got very creative with where they built the cairns, placing them along tree branches...

... and even in the creek!  Don't you wonder how that stays put with all the water splashing by?

And I was reminded just how adaptive and tenacious nature can be.  Check out this tree - with roots growing right into (out of?) the rock!
On our walk back to the car, we happened upon this elderly gentleman set up for painting. Isn't it just postcard material?

I realized as I was editing the photos that the only pictures taken of Deb & I together were on this walk - on her camera or phone - and I hadn't remembered to get copies of them from Deb. No doubt you've seen it on her post though!

Stay tuned for Part Two of my visit with Deb!

Friday, November 22, 2013

30 Days of Thankful - Week Three

I'm participating in Cathy Zielske's "30 Days of Thankful" during the month of November.  I'll be using the Friday link-up day to post my pages.  

For these pages, I used Cathy's templates (available at Designer Digitals) along with papers and elements from Gobble On and Autumn Days (available at Sweet Shoppe Designs). I'll be using this same group through-out the month.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

October Travels - Part One

As many of you know, I spent more of October "on the road" than at home.  My first trip was to Boise ID, Kingman AZ, and Las Vegas NV.

 My trip to Boise was work related. I spent three days in meetings and presentations in a Convention Center. I didn't see much of the town except the two-block area between my hotel and the Convention Center, hence no photos. But here's one of the Boise airport at 4:30 a.m. as I was arriving to make my very early flight to meet Jay in Vegas. Really hoppin' place!
 Jay and I met up at the Vegas airport, rented a car, and hit the road. First stop, the Hoover Dam. You can't get the whole thing in one photo. We did the tour - it really is a marvel of engineering and a LOT of hard labor. After the Hoover Dam, we made the drive to Kingman where we were spending the night. A whole lot of nothing to see on the way there. Day Two we were up early and headed to the Grand Canyon West Rim.
 On the way there we saw a LOT of these trees. I instagrammed a photo captioned "weird scrubby cactus trees."  Deb was able to correct me and let me know that these are in fact called Joshua Trees. And apparently they are a form of cacti.

The landscape other than the primitive looking Joshua trees was very barren and desolate. For miles and miles and miles. And I have to tell you that honestly, Jay and I were wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. Because of the U.S. Government shut down, the National Parks were closed. So our planned trip to the Grand Canyon National Park was quickly changed to a trip to the West Rim, land owned by the Hualapai Indians.

But as we learned, sometimes the best trips are the ones that aren't planned out to the smallest detail in advance.
 Can you imagine our surprise when we saw this wild coyote just standing at the side of the road? We pulled over to take photos (from the safety of the car, on the other side of the road) and the coyote just looked at us as if to say "what's up dudes?" It didn't run, just stood it's ground and pretty much ignored us. We also saw free range cattle. But not much else.
 We finally made it to the West Rim and hopped the tour bus to the first stop - Eagle Point. And this was the view. It is called Eagle point because the rock formation from about 1/3 in on the left to the halfway point of the photo looks like an eagle with outstretched wings. The Hualapai consider this ground sacred. After miles and miles of open scrubby flat desert, the first view of the Canyon was really something else.
 The Canyon at the West Rim is not the "big hole in the ground" I was expecting to see. Rather it is a series of sheer cliff faces with a valley running through them carved out by years and years of erosion from the Colorado River running through. And it is like nothing I've ever seen before.
 The highlight of our day was when we decided at the last minute (literally - we got one of the last helicopters of the day) to take a helicopter tour. After swooping along the sides of the cliffs, we (along with two other people) were dropped off at this landing site. From which we walked down a very steep path and lot of stairs to reach the river.
 Where we hopped a boat and took a ride down the Colorado River.  See that bit of brown to the left of the photo? That shows where the level of the Colorado River has dropped 14 feet in the last 20 years. A combination of not enough snow/rain coming down the mountain and the people of California, Nevada, and Arizona pumping the river for water for drinking, irrigation, and basic needs. I wonder how much longer that can last?
You can see the water level drop in this photo as well, on the right.

We thought we would be at West Rim a couple of hours. We were there ALL day! It was beautiful and I'm glad we had the opportunity to go.

The next day our plans were to drive "Highway 66" - we made from Kingman to Peach Springs before we were bored out of our minds. Seriously nothing to see in that area. So we turned around and headed to an abandoned mine town called Chloride that we had seen advertised in a number of brochures.  Well, Chloride was a total bust too! Everything was closed. The saloon style restaurant, the antique shop, the artist shop ... all CLOSED. The only thing in town that was open was the general store. Very touristy junky stuff.

So we gave up and headed back to Las Vegas.
 Pulling into the Las Vegas area, you could see the town enveloped in a yellowish cloud - dust? smog? Not sure. But it wasn't pretty!
 One of the casinos - New York, New York from the outside - made to look like a bit of the city (it totally doesn't). Las Vegas is one casino after another, all themed, mostly gaudy. And lots and lots and lots of people. The lights, the press of humanity, the blinking, dinging, smoky casino floors... as we walked around, Jay and I agreed that we just didn't get the attraction.
 While in Vegas, we saw two shows - first up was the Blue Man Group. Awesome! Loved every minute and would highly recommend anyone to see this if they ever have the opportunity.
And David Copperfield. The magician. The show was really well done - but Jay and I have watched way too many documentaries on how the magicians do this stuff. So I found myself spending the whole time trying to analyze how the tricks were done rather than suspending disbelief and just enjoying the show. Sometimes too much pragmatism isn't a good thing! :)

All in all, Jay and I very much enjoyed our little getaway and are looking forward to the opportunity to travel together again. We loved Grand Canyon West Rim and would still like to see the Grand Canyon National Park again someday. We thoroughly enjoyed the shows, but agree that neither of us needs to visit Vegas again.

I hope to be back tomorrow with Part Two of my October travels.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thirty Days of Thankful - Week Two

I'm participating in Cathy Zielske's "30 Days of Thankful" during the month of November.  I'll be using the Friday link-up day to post my pages.  

For these pages, I used Cathy's templates (available at Designer Digitals) along with papers and elements from Gobble On and Autumn Days (available at Sweet Shoppe Designs). I'll be using this same group through-out the month.

caught and fixed the typo, but Blogger won't let me upload the new version! argh.