"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity."
– Gilda Radner
That quote is so perfect for Steve and I right now. We have gone through so many changes in the last couple of years: retirement, selling our primary residence, giving away all of our personal possessions, being on the road and moving every week, and for me, being in school and preparing for a new career in ministry. We have no idea where God is calling us, but we are ready and willing to go where He sends.
This week's blog is not going to be long as I was in Chicago for school and Steve stayed in San Diego with our son Stevie and his wife, Aime. While in Chicago, however, I got to spend the week with our son Terry, his girlfriend Jill and their dog, Rooney. It was a blessed time for me as we do not get to see Terry and Jill often. They are moving to North Carolina soon so please keep them in your prayers.
I am now back in San Diego and hanging with Stevie and Aime too. My mother-in-law, Connie, is flying in on Monday and we are then headed to Los Angeles to visit her brother Frank and his wife Kiki. We will be attending Dr. David Jeremiah's church for Easter service and I am super excited as I am a huge fan of his ministry. Friday our oldest grandson, Jeremiah, will be flying in and joining us for a week too. So, you can imagine that it will be a busy week with family and Easter and all, but I am looking forward to another couple of weeks with familiar faces.
God has blessed us so tremendously with this trip. Two couples in this campground that we are staying at in San Diego stopped by yesterday to chat and ask about being a full-time traveler and it is in discussing our lifestyle that our blessing really hits home for me. But while I am grateful, I really do miss my family and friends so very much. Skype is nice, but it just doesn't replace a real hug. Especially from the grandkids!
Take care peeps and have a great week. For those of you in the Midwest, I am sorry that you are getting more snow this week. I am so grateful that I will not be in Chicago when it hits. Whew!!!!
Viva Las Vegas
"Happiness is a butterfly, which, when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you sit down quietly, may alight upon you."
– Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hello everybody. At the present time, I am in Sunny Chicago (NOT!) where it is a balmy 32 degrees and snowing. YAHOO! You gotta know how much I love this weather. I will be here for a week for a class called "Spirituality and the Family". Looking forward to it.
Anyway, let me get back to our Vegas adventure. We continued the week by visiting Ethel M Chocolatiers, which oddly enough, has an absolutely gorgeous cactus garden. It had every make and model of cactus you can imagine - - some very oddly shaped and some with funny names. Steve did a nice job capturing the name tags so you can see what I am talking about. This chocolatier is in the middle of an industrial park so it's not something you would ever put on the tourist guide, but it was fun and I am glad that we got to see it.
Another cool place that we visited was the Neon Sign Museum with our friends Chris and Bob Perrine. What a fun place. This museum is made up of all the old signs from the early days of Las Vegas and the stories behind them were a hoot. We also learned a bit about neon sign design - - if you want a letter to look brighter, put the neon on the inside of the letter. If you want it to be bigger, put the neon on the outside. (Hey, it was news to me!) We also learned that neon is very special to the city of Las Vegas and any establishment on the strip must have 75% of its signage in neon. Our tour guide was a riot and we baked in the sun there (it was 85 degrees that day) but we had a blast. From there we visited Ricks' Restoration (from the show on the History Channel). We didn't stick around for the tour but it was interesting to see him in person. He's a very nice guy and his wife/girlfriend, Kelly, was the photographer for the tourists who wanted their picture taken with Rick. Man, these guys really know how to exploit their fame. T-shirts, key chains, bobble head dolls, pictures with Rick, and a tour of his shop - - all available for a price. I wonder if he even does any restoration any more of is the tourist dollar his main source of income now? Who knows, but I wouldn't want to deal with that life, no matter how much it paid.
The next day we traveled over to the Hoover Dam with Chris and Bob. Our first stop, however, was the Mike O'Callaghan/Pat Tillman Bridge that was built to make traffic flow away from the Hoover Dam instead of across it. From this bridge, however, you get an awesome view of the dam. I am not sure why these two gentlemen are coupled and honored with the name of this bridge because from what I can tell, they had no interaction. Mike O'Callaghan was a former Governor of Nevada. Pat Tillman was a star college and pro football player who was killed in Afghanistan while on a tour of duty that he left the NFL to assume. No matter, the bridge is cool and the view was spectacular. The dam itself, originally named the Boulder Dam, was built in the 30's and provides electric power to 5 states: California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. It straddles the Nevada and Arizona border and created Lake Mead. The water level of the lake is roughly 30 feet below levels seen when it was first built and with the lack of snowfall on the western face of the Rockies this winter, the water level is expected to be another 18 feet lower this summer. We toured the inner workings of this dam and it was really cool to stand right over the intake pipe (30 feet in diameter) that was providing the water for the generators. It's kinda creepy down in that dam and a little claustrophobic in some areas, but we had a great time. Steve and Bob were tempted to kick the earthquake sensor box just for laughs, but we talked them out of that. After that tour, we took a long drive down a very rough dirt road to get to the back country of Lake Mead. On the way, we passed bunches of these absolutely gorgeous orange flowers that looked like Gerber daisies. There were other desert flowers that I admired on the route - - purples, oranges, yellows - - SO BEAUTIFUL.
So, a trip to Vegas would not be complete without a visit to Fremont Street and a walk down the strip. We stopped to see the pirate show at Treasure Island (excuse me, TI as it is called now) as well as the talking statues at Caesars. Neither of these impressed Steve in the least. We were going to do the Bellagio fountains and the volcano at The Mirage, but it was late and we were tired so we decided to save that for another trip. Lastly, we cruised past The Pawn Stars' shop, which had a line to get in down the block and around the corner. Apparently, it was a filming day.
We said goodbye to Chris and Bob and headed west to San Diego, where we hooked up with Stevie and Aime (our youngest son and his wie). Steve and I were commenting on how we finally made it to California. Just 5 months ago we were in Homestead, Florida at the Nascar race, and now we are all the way across the country as far west as we could go. Yet another milestone of this trip has been achieved and we are clearly on the downside of our journey. Both of us are starting to get a little anxious and excited about our future and realize that in 7 short months, our travels will be over. But between now and then, we have Yosemite, Reno/Tahoe, Utah, Colorado, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Idado, Montana, Minnesota and possibly Nebraska to visit. The remaining states (Oregon, Seattle, Oklahoma and Kansas) will have to wait for another adventure, possibly when we do Alaska (potentially in 2014).
Alrighty folks. Gotta get ready for class. Have a nice week. Keep warm!
Williams AZ to Las Vegas
"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."
– Virginia Satir
Hello from VIVA LAS VEGAS!!!
Yes, we are in Sin City for a few days and having a great time so far. But before I get to Vegas, let me finish our time in WIlliams, AZ.
As I mentioned in our last post, Williams Arizona is an adorable town just west of Flagstaff. It was an important stop on the old Route 66 and you can see from the pictures that we took, it still clings to this accomplishment. What a cute town and so touristy!! We had a nice time just wandering around town doing a little shopping. One store had a whole wall of hot sauces, some of which had 1,000,000 units on the Scoville scale (as a point of reference, one jalapeno is, on average, 5,000 units). We bought a collection of those for our grandsons who claim to be hot sauce aficionados. Yeah, we'll see. The town, itself, is home to about 3,000 people full-time but in the spring-fall months, the place gets packed. It is perfectly situated between the Grand Canyon and Sedona and near a ton of nice geological and scientific stuff like the Meteor Crater, Sunset Crater (which is the aftermath of a volcano), the Petrified Forest, Wupatki and Elden Pueblo Indian ruins, etc.
Speaking of Indian ruins, Steve and I visited Walnut Creek National Monument, which are 800 year old cliff dwellings of the Sinagua people. They were different from the Gila dwellings that we saw in New Mexico in that they were individual units and not a community of rooms. They also were built into what is called an "island" in the middle of the canyon and followed the canyon wall all the way around the island. I am not sure how these indians were able to get to these cliff dwellings - - they must have used a lot of ropes and ladders - - because the cliff faces are fairly straight down to the ground. As you can see from the pictures, we had to descend 240 steps to reach these dwellings, which was fine, until we had to make the journey back. You may be thinking that 240 steps is NBD (no big deal), but let me tell you, at 6900 feet the air is a bit thin and breathing is quite labored. It took us only 20 minutes to reach the caves but 40 to return to the visitor's center. I was breathing like I had just run a marathon or something! We were looking down at birds flying around 6500 feet, which was kind of funny.
We also visited Sedona while we were in the area. If you've never been there, I suggest a visit. It's one of the more "spiritual" places in the world - - and I put that word in quotes because this is the place where people come to have their auras read and to get crystals and visit vortexes. I don't know what any of that means, but it's a thriving business in this area. Anyway, we visited Red Rock State Park and did some hiking. What a view from the top of the trail we took. The pictures don't really capture the red of the rocks but man oh man, beauty abounded. The winter snows were melting and the river that runs through the park was over its banks, which was interesting to see as well. Even the drive from Williams to Sedona was breathtaking. We drove right past the Junipine Lodge where Terry, my mom and dad and I stayed when we came down here back in 1997. WOW that was a long time ago!
Our last adventure in Williams was a trip to Bearizona, which was a zoo that was part drive-thru and part walking. LOVED IT!!!!! We drove through the park and saw Rocky Mountain goats, burros, bison, Alaskan Tundra wolves and Arctic wolves, Dall sheep, Bighorn sheep (or "rock sheep" as I like to call them) and lastly black bears. When we went into the walking part of this zoo, we stopped in the gift shop to see the three bear cubs that were just born. They will be hanging out in their incubator for about a month and then taken to another pen until they are a year old. They will stay in the larger enclosure until they are 3 years old and then they are allowed to roam free in the drive-through part of the park. We saw lots of other cool animals while we were there and had a great time. My favorite, I have to say, was the peacock. What a gorgeous bird that is. The colors take my breath away.
Ok, that was all we did in Williams and again, if you are thinking of a place to come for a family vacation, give Williams a chance. It has a ton to offer and is an adorable little town. Besides all the things that I mentioned above, there is abundant hiking and fishing available as there are a number of lakes nearby. There is a golf course 2 miles from the city as well. Nice place to visit. Steve and I really enjoyed being there and plan to come back again.
Ok, off to Vegas. I must say the drive from Williams to Vegas was one of the most beautiful we have had on this journey. The landscape really changes and the mountains are spectacular. Our first night we cruised down the strip so Steve could see that (he's never been to Vegas) and then headed for Fremont Street. People-watching in Vegas could be an actual sport and we had a great time. We will walk the strip later this week so Steve can experience all the cool stuff like the pirate ships at Treasure Island, the talking statues at Caesars, the water fountains at the Bellagio, etc.
Our really big adventure was our trip to Death Valley. HOLY CRAP WAS THAT A MIND BLOWER. I think we were expecting a flat plain that was dry and sandy and Death Valley is anything but. It is mountainous (Telescope Mountain is 11,000+ feet) and the rocks are so colorful. The pictures cannot really capture the beauty that this park offers at all. You have to see it to believe it, trust me. Anyway, we visited Badwater which is the lowest point in the United States at 282 feet below sea level. That was cool because at the bottom is a salt lake that, when dry, leaves a crust of salt all over the land. Again, pictures do not do this justice at all but we tried to capture it for you. We also visited Devil's Golf Course which is an extension of the salt lake, only very rugged. In the spring and summer, the salt forms all kinds of crystaline shapes on the rocks that looks really cool. This park is so huge we could not possibly experience all of it in the one day that we had. I wish we were able to spend more time there because it really was quite spectacular.
Near Death Valley is Ash Meadows Wildlife Preserve which is an oasis in the middle of the Mojave Desert. There is a natural spring there that contains the endangered pup fish. This fish is found only here and at Devil's Hole. Nowhere else in the world. Speaking of Devil's Hole, this is an underground aquifer that is also located in the desert. The water in this hole is a constant 93 degrees all year round. USGS has been studying this aquifer for quite some time because, aside from the fact that it's in the middle of a desert, they have not been successful in their attempts to map the cavern. The deepest they have recorded is 500 feet and they know that it is not anywhere near the bottom. The really cool part of this hole is that when there is an earthquake anywhere in the world, the water in this hole is affected. Follow this link to a video that will talk about it more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y96KfyyzsWM. How cool is that?
Our last stop was to a ghost town called Rhyolite. It was founded in 1905 and dead by 1920 but in it's heydey, it was home to more than 3,000 people. What was really cool about this little town was that a bunch of artists from Belgium decided to make this place their personal canvasses. One artist, Albert Szukalski, made a sculpture of ghost-like characters called "The Last Supper". We loved that and some of the other artwork out there. But back to the town. The town was originally founded to mine Rhyolite and also gold. The speculators of the gold overstated the lode there, which is why the town was empty in 15 years. Most of the houses were moved to the nearby town of Beatty, but what is left was pretty cool. The bottle house was especially neat. It was built by Tom Kelly in 1905 and he used 30,000 bottles to do it. Pretty neat, huh?
Okay, that's it for now. We are headed to Rick's Restoration and the Neon Sign museum with our friends from Toledo - - Chris and Bob Perrine. We will talk to you soon. Take care and love you all so much.
"Experience is not what happens to a man. It is what a man does with what happens to him."
– Aldous Huxley
Hello from the Andersons. Sorry that you didn't hear from us last week, but I have been swamped with school and just could not take the time to write. But we have some updates this week, so here goes:
If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know that Steve and I thoroughly enjoy visiting military museums, especially ones that have vintage aircraft. This week's trip was to the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tuscon, AZ. This was a wonderful place to visit and HUGE!!!! There are about 300 different airplanes there and we had a great time running around trying to see them all. Steve's favorite was the B377-SG, the "Super Guppy" which was used to bring back sections of the Saturn 5 (Apollo) rockets. That thing was GINORMOUS (if I could make up a word)! My favorite is the AV-8C, otherwise known as the Harrier. I have seen that jet in action and it is pretty darn cool. One of the best parts of this museum was the movie they did about making a giant paper airplane. This museum sponsors a contest for kids to design paper airplanes. The winner of the contest then gets to help professionals build an almost life-sized version of his model. When construction is complete, they attach the airplane to a helicopter and take it airborne and let it go. The movie showed this young boy's designed airplane soaring over the desert. The look of pride on the kid's face made me cry. He looked like he felt he was 10 feet tall. Awesome! I highly recommend this museum if you are in the Tucson area. It's a lot of fun.
Next, we paid a visit to the Saguaro National Park to visit some truly majestic cacti. The first picture in this gallery is Steve standing next to one of them. Now, my beloved is 5' 10" tall, so you can see what I mean when I say they are tall! And not only are they tall, but they can weigh up to 8 tons. Who knew? The park is huge and has a lot of nice hiking trails which take you on paths through every make and model of cacti available: cholla, prickly pear, barrel, hedgehog, fishhook, ocotillo, to name a few, and not just the saguaro (pronounced, by the way, sa-warr-o). The desert is a beautiful place even though it is extremely dry. I am sure that in about a month when the cacti are in full bloom, the desert will take my breath away.
From Tucson, Steve and I went up to Maricopa for a few days with the Christian Fellowship group that we are a part of through our membership with Escapees RV club. We had a blast with these people just fellowshipping and eating, but there was also learning involved. We studied a book called "The Circle Maker" by Mark Batterson, which is about praying for God's promises.. We learned a lot and really enjoyed our time with these people: Bob and Mary Shuey from North Carolina, Barbara and Richard from Arizona, Linda from British Columbia, and Dave and Gail from Montana. It was great to hang out with fellow believers and Steve and I look forward to our next rally with this group in Campo, California in late March/April.
From Maricopa, we headed north to Williams, AZ. This town is absolutely adorable and was once a busy stop on the old Route 66. Next week's update will provide you more information about Williams because we have not explored it much. We just got here the other day so we've only managed to visit the Grand Canyon so far. Steve and I have both been here before, but the last time we were here (Steve's first visit, my second), it was rainy and overcast and Steve was not able to really get a feel for the grandeur of this wonder of God's creation. This time, he was blown away. Pictures really do not do it justice folks. For those of you who have been here, you are knodding your head in agreement on that statement. For those of you who haven't -- DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO VISIT. It is absolutely breathtaking. The enormity of this canyon cannot be described. It just goes on and on as far as the eye can see. And the colors are so vibrant, again not able to capture with pictures. I especially liked the bits of snow that were still evident in places. There are an absolute ton of trails to hike - - some along the rim and a good number that will take you down inside the canyon. We hiked the Trail of Time which explained the geological features of the canyon and described the types of rock layers, etc. We tried to capture that but gave up because there were just so many. We were also blessed with some wildlife sightings - - deer and elk. That was fun because Steve and I hardly ever get to see wildlife.
So this week we plan to visit Flagstaff and Sedona. Steve is going to do some exploring on his own as I spend a day in the library of Northern Arizona University (research for a study that I am working on). We will also explore the town of Williams as well because it is just the coolest little town. One thing, though, the altitude is killing both of us. We are about 7000+ feet up and both of us struggle to breathe at times. I am sure by the time we are ready to leave we will have adjusted. Funny story though - - in church today we met a woman from Swanton, Ohio. She is moving here soon and is in the process of selling her house on Route 295, right near where we used to live. Small world!!!!!
Ok peeps. Talk to you next week.