Saturday, October 11, 2008


Friday, October 10th

On the road about 7am, actually 8 as we lost an hour late yesterday when we crossed the time zone back into Pacific Time. Our journey on the two lane highway continued taking us along the southern boarder of Vermillion Cliffs National Monument and Marble Canyon. We crossed the Navajo Bridge and stopped for a great view of the Colorado River snaking it's way far below in the base of the canyon.

Soon we were at Jacob's Lake and heading down the 44 mile road south into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We'd seen some of the damage from the forest fire in 2007 along the road before making our turn south; then we really began to see the damage. At one point we drove at least five miles with nothing but burnt out forest on both sides of the road. So sad but understand that fire is part of the regenerative system of the forest. Just before entering a pristine meadow I saw a group of six deers scampering into the forest; it appeared that they'd just crossed the road in front of us minutes before! Glad we didn't see them on the road as I'm not sure we could have stopped in time; deers and cows are a hazard when traveling in this part of the country. Inside of the park we again saw where fingers of fire had come into the park but not nearly as much as outside. As we drove along the golden aspen were mingled in with the green pines; hard to resist photo moments.

Soon we'd arrived at the North Rim. Beautiful area that neither of us had seen before. Cold and windy with a haze that prevented the deep colors from photographing as well as I'd liked; but can't have everything.

Back down the road to Jacob's Lake and then on to Zion National Park. We decided not to go to Bryce Canyon on this trip as it would have required a good deal of back tracking again. We saw cars stopping along the road and finally realized that those were not cows they were photographing but a huge herd of Buffalo.

Arrived at Zion about 2pm and again used our "Senior Pass" for a free entry into the park. It's now $25.00 for a car to enter so we've saved lots of money on this trip with our $10.00 lifetime pass. Jim had been to Zion when he was eighteen and delighted in seeing it again and also showing it to me. He remembered the tunnels with windows as he'd never seen anything like that before when he was young.

Stopped at the Visitor Center at the west end of the Park; while there I suggested we might just drive on past St. George, Utah and head for home. We'd been considering Las Vegas as an overnight also but agreed that it was a good thought to drive on as the dust storms were kicking up and the radio said that they would be worst tomorrow. Arrived at Interstate 15 and put the peddle to the metal and hang the gas milage goals. The traffic was heavy heading into Las Vegas after we passed the sin city of the west; it's a three day weekend and they're headed for fun. Heading west was a breeze after two days of two lane highways!

We decided to head for our vacation home in Big Bear City; we took the back road up the mountain from the desert and arrived about 9pm. Long day but nice to be "almost" home for the night. We woke to a light snow on the ground so we'll cut the grass and turn off the sprinkler system before beginning the final two hour drive to Yorba Linda. It's been a fun trip and I hope that you've enjoyed traveling with us on our Southwest Adventure. Here is a selection of 36 from the 200+ photos that I took yesterday.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Thursday, October 9th

By 9am we were headed west out of Grand Junction and our eight hour journey through the vast southwest began. We stayed on Interstate 70 for about an hour. During that time we received a call from friends Leo & Sandra who had left Santa Fe and headed back to Albuquerque to pick up I40 for their trip home; they called to tell us they were getting another balloon experience as they entered the northern part of the city; the sky was again filled with balloons!

When we arrived at Highway 191 we headed dead south towards Moab and several of the National Parks. Our first park was Canyonland National Park. You'll see photos of two rock formations named after the Monitor & Merrimac. Our next park was Arches National Park. Some of our favorite rock formations: The gossips, sheep's head, balanced rock and of course the many natural arches.

From there we headed further south enjoying the views of the snow capped La Sal Mountains. We enjoyed views of the famous Monument Valley for many miles before finally arriving. While in the area we visited the Goulding Trading Post; famous for encouraging the movie industry to make their western movies among these unique natural creations. Did I mention that we're driving on a two lane highway? Jim's enjoying passing as I try not to watch! Our gas mileage has gone astray...we're having trouble keeping it at 40 mpg. Something to do with setting the cruise control at 70 mph most of the time. Gas prices are good so that helps. The weather is beautiful, sun is hot, very few clouds and it's windy.

Arrived about 5pm in Tuba City in a dust storm. Everyone seemed to be going about their business as normal; the fair is in town and the rides were spinning. You couldn't pay me to be outside tonight! We're tucked into a small motel called Dine Inn along the highway and amazingly they have WiFi! Decided to give it a try and when I found the Network, Jim walked over to the office and they provided him a code. So, here I am again.

Tomorrow we're headed for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and possibly Bryce Canyon.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


Wednesday, Oct. 8th

Our great little Alpine Inn in Gunnison was delightful and provided a very large breakfast for us before we headed west again. This morning's drive for the first hour followed a lake/reservoir that ran for miles and miles along the base of a canyon with soaring walls on both sides. Fall colors abound in the merging of golden Aspens among the green firs soaring together up the mountainsides. Tipped in red and some already bare the Aspens added another dimension to the scenery.

By 11am we'd arrived at our destination in Grand Junction; dropped the luggage at the hotel and headed for Roger & Carol's home. We've all been friends since 1957 so there was lots of reminiscing during the day. We headed out into the local wine country for tasting the fruits of the vine; and here we also had wine made from honey and fruit in addition to the grape! We sampled the favorites at six different Wineries and purchased custom made fudge at another one. Jim found a stemless glass that he hopes will fit into his holder on our little boat at home; preventing future spills. Yes, we also purchased a number of excellents bottles to take home with us!

Carol and Roger treated us to dinner at one of their favorite restaurants and then back to their home for a taste of a special chocolate wine over ice cream. Later, at the hotel, we had time for a stroll down Main Street to view the Art on the Corner; an on going program in downtown Grand Junction that features metal sculptures, usually bronzes, that are also for sale. When one is sold a percentage of the sale goes to the program and another piece is installed.

Below is a selection of photos taken on our journey today. Tomorrow we're headed west again towards Utah.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Tuesday, Oct. 7th

On the road by 8am; we headed north on I25 towards Colorado Springs. Jim was stationed at Fort Carson Army Base in 1955 and looked forward to "going home" to see the changes; his first since 1962. Oh my, very little was familiar...progress has made major changes everywhere.

We headed north of the city to explore the Air Force Academy. No trouble getting on site and immediately headed for the Sports Arena so that I could show Jim the mammoth facility where our grandson Josh had played a Ice Hockey game in February 2006. I was there for the game during my cross country drive.

From there we drove to the Cadet Chapel. A soaring structure that reminds one of a series of delta-winged jets set on end and stacked light dominoes. The upper chapel is for all the various protestant faiths, the lower chapel is for the Catholics and then there are also Buddhist and Jewish Chapels. A very impressive structure. We found the gas station and were delighted when we were allowed to fill the tank; saving a few pennies over the stations in town.

Our next adventure was in the Garden of the Gods located back towards Colorado Springs. Very impressive, easy to see by driving the circular drives. See a selection of several of the massive sandstone rocks in the photos. The best was the balance rock. Then continuing southwest we reached Manitou Springs. A town we could have spent two days in easily; very quaint with lots of shops and things to do. Drove the main street and then headed for the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. They moved the entire structure here in the late 1800's from Mesa Verde in the Four Corners area and opened to the public in 1907.

It was nearly 3pm by the time we hit the road west for our nights lodging in Gunnison; an old west town that has managed to stay alive and has continue to modernize and still maintains enough of it's old lore to be interesting. It was a three hour plus drive of twisting two lane mountain roads. Arriving after dark; the elk/deer crossing signs kept us alert and nervous having once hit one in North Dakota years ago until we entered the town. Our old eyes don't do well at night either! Tomorrow its a bit over 100 miles to Grand Junction where we'll visit their "wine country" and college friends who moved there several years ago from Anaheim. See you then.

Monday, October 6, 2008


Monday, Oct 6th

Up and down to breakfast by 7:30 am. Jim had gone back to the room and the rest of our group were enjoying our coffee when Jim called on the cell phone to tell me that he'd spotted balloons heading towards the hotel. Jup...the wind was blowing in our direction and they'd decided to hold an unscheduled launch this morning.

By the time we climbed to the third floor there were less than ten balloons in the air...within half an hour there were well over one hundred...all heading our way. Our hotel has three floors with walkways around the outside of each floor. Everyone was running from place to place to get the best photos. Some were landing before they reached us, others went past and some landed in the Cracker Barrell Restaurant parking lot. That's where we had dinner the first night; only a block from our hotel. The last ones passed us by 9 am.

So as the stock market plunged we watch balloons rise to the sky and float over our hotel; one final surprise event at the Balloon Festival before we each went our separate ways. Donna & Ray are headed home, Sandra & Leo are headed for three days in Santa Fe and we're on our way north towards Colorado.

A few of the special ones were up including the cathedral; one balloon had only one person who was in a chair instead of the basket. Enjoy the best of the photos...

Finally finished packing and checked out. On the road again, we headed north on Interstate 25 towards Santa Fe. Arrived around noon the place was packed; parking was very difficult. We've been here before so only planned to see a few things. Enjoyed the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum; Jim said it was the best Exhibit of her works that he'd ever seen. Being Monday, most of the other museums were closed but we enjoyed walking the plaza and visiting the Cathedral. After a quick lunch at The Burrito Co., we found the car and headed north. Originally we'd planned to drive to Colorado Springs but decided to stop just south of Colorado border in the small town of Raton. Tonight we're at the Best Western and plan to start very early tomorrow are a few photos from Santa Fe.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Sat & Sunday
Our glorious Saturday morning turned windy and overcast by the afternoon and balloon activities were cancelled for the afternoon and Sunday morning. Fireworks went off as scheduled Saturday night but that was all. We enjoyed the afternoon in Old Town and then met back in Old Town with our group for a celebration dinner on Sunday afternoon.

Sunday Evening

The weather cleared in the late afternoon and Twilight Glow was held. We almost didn't go because it was touch and go as to whether or not it would occur. We heard it was on and headed for the field. Hope you enjoy the was another magical time with a field full of fully inflated tethered balloons that were constantly being lit by gas jets every few minutes. The field would start to count down from five to one to encourage the balloonists to all light at the same time. It was a great show and lasted for about an hour. Then the balloons were removed from the field and another fireworks show that lasted over half an hour. Well worth the trip to New Mexico! Tomorrow we head north after breakfast with our friends.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Saturday, October 4th

Up at 4 am, breakfast downstairs by 5:15 and we were on the road to the park & ride. Thousands of people had the same ideal but we finally arrived just before dawn about 6 am. What a marvelous experience we had for the next three hours. Rumors are that there were between 700 to 1000 balloons lifting off this morning. We were constantly marveling at the scenes surrounding us. Hope you enjoy the photos.
Also added a few from our afternoon visit to Old Town.

Route 66

Friday, Oct. 3rd...slept in...sort of...the Grand Canyon train that leaves from the Williams Depot started their whistle blows about 5 am. But we managed to continue sleeping between blows and didn't get back on the road until 8:15 am.

Moving between Route 66 and Interstate 40 we had so many opportunities to visit wonderful God Made sites but the lure of Alburquerque kept us on the road east most of the time. We did take time to visit Meteor Crater and also a very short stop to see a few petrefied trees on the edge of the painted desert in Geronimo. We decided we needed a week in Arizona in the future to really see the wonders of this state.

Passing Joseph City gave us cause to wonder why as huge smoke stacks belching smoke from the burning of coal to create power created polution in this scenic area. They were very tall smoke stacks but would rather have seen wind machines.

Arrived in Gallup about 1:30 pm and topped off the gas tank; yes we're still averaging between 50 and 60 miles per gallon. Gas prices are ok at $3.40 per gallon. We've lost an hour as we entered Mountain Time after passing over the Continental Divide; but still managed to arrive in Alburquerque by 5 pm. Just ahead of our friends who'd stayed overrnight in Flagstaff. Checked in; got the "lay of the land" before going to dinner together at Cracker Barrell located just across the highway from Hampton Inn. Ray & Donna headed out to purchase chairs that they forgotten to put in for our adventure tomorrow. We decided to purchase the park & ride tickets online instead of attempting to drive to the Balloon Park. After several turns around the hotel to work off some of our delicious dinner, we were off to bed with alarms set for 4 am.

From Alburquerque

From Alburquerque

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Jim and I left home about 9 am this morning, October 2nd, heading towards New Mexico in our Prius. It was fun to pack everything we wanted as space was not a concern on this trip. We're meeting two other couples in Alburquque tomorrow; both neighbors in Eastlake.

Today we averaged about 65 mph to conserve gas...yes, we're getting about 50 miles to each gallon! We headed towards Needles and then after Kingman we traveled the slower but more historic Route 66. Bypassed by Interstate 40; motels and gas stations are only shadows along the highway slowly decaying into their memories. Towns are ghost towns and the biggest industry now seems to be the promotion of "Route 66" memoribilia. Tonight we're staying in a small hotel in Williams, just west of Flagstaff, and the whole town is dedicated to the prevailing theme of Route 66. This was the final town that Interstate 40 bypassed in the late 1980's where Route 66 ran through the center of town. Enjoyed walking through the town after checking in for the night. Tonight we're watching the Vice Presidential Debates.