J: As you'll read in Wendy's last entry below, the last week of vacation was spent visiting friends. Now, the following photo isn't meant to freak anyone out, but the people, sights, smells, and good times I experience every time I visit Maine make me feel at "home." I saw this t-shirt in a store in Freeport and had to pick one up.
J: Below are a few pictures I did not have a chance to upload while on the road. They are from various points of the vacation.
A double mimosa from Sunday brunch at "Sea Dog's."
Our trusty Prius. 8,350 miles total for the trip. Averaged 50 mpg the whole way. $82 in gas to Michigan and $142 in gas from Maine to Arizona.
The old paper mill in Brunswick. These days it is home to a variety of businesses, including a pretty good Thai restaurant.
Now this is how you enjoy vacation!
W: After returning from Jackman, we had a pretty full week. Much of our time in Maine was spent with our good friends Mark and Rob (far right in the picture below). Though neither Joel nor I tend to drink very often (or very much), Mark kept the margaritas flowing whenever we were at his house. On this particular evening, we were joined by my high school classmate, Ron (second from the left), and his husband, Ken. Rounding out the party was Diane, a hilarious and wonderful woman we met through Mark. The evening was filled with laughter and I'm sure we will be talking about "the book" for years to come ("Are you mad?", "Wait, let me get a picture for the book..."). I'm amused by this picture because Rob and Joel were looking right at me, while everyone else was oblivious as they focused on whatever story Mark was telling.
W: On another night, we had a second dinner with John and Dee. John was also a classmate of mine in high school (first love, really, but that was 35+ *cough* years ago). John and Dee are engaged to be married next year, and I'm so happy for their happiness!
W: On a side note, at our dinner with John and Dee I had the prettiest sushi I've ever eaten (and yes, it was good).
W: It was a busy last week for sure. On this night I met up with three classmates. Patti lived on my street and we shared a bus stop from the time we were five until I moved to a different school as a sophomore. She and her husband Barry, along with Peter and Mike and Mike's wife, Vicki, joined me and Joel for dinner. I really enjoyed spending time with all of them and catching up.
W: We spent another of our final days in Maine with my friend Ron (and his animals, haha). Joel tried out Ron's inversion chair, with Molly's assistance, but wasn't a fan of the feeling of having his blood rush into his head. Chapps (Chapperdoo) the cat had a much more relaxing effect.
Ron lives on a lake, a gorgeous spot on a point, and as we walked around the property enjoying the weather and the views, he took Molly out in the canoe so we could see that she's not only a perfect passenger in the car, but in the boat as well.
W: I took a ridiculous amount of foliage pictures (and a few other sights) and rather than boring everyone with them, I've decided to post them all last so you can browse as few or as many as you'd like to see. Some of them are pretty spectacular.
On October 5th, we left the Brunswick/Topsham area and headed north. We got to Bar Harbor in the afternoon and spent the evening checking out the downtown area. The weather was once again perfect! Sunny and not too warm. People were laying out on the grass, watching the boats and cruise ships in the harbor - the place was packed! I guess that's a downside of Bar Harbor, and one reason why I've always preferred Boothbay Harbor. Boothbay is a little less crowded, and they have my favorite shop of all, Enchantments!
W: Every time we pass one of those big wooden pictures with the faces cut out I ask Joel to take a picture in it (see blog from our previous trip to Maine :-) ) and this time I couldn't get him to do that, but at least he was a good sport and sat for a picture with this lobster in Bar Harbor.
J: Now, the Patriots played on Thursday night so one of the things we had to do was find a local bar to camp out at so we could watch the game. We found one and hunkered down. At the bar, I had some awesome Downeast Cider, which I plan on ordering once I get back to Arizona. We stayed through halftime, then decided to watch the rest of the game from the comfort of our hotel room. Better news this week - we won! Hurray.
J: The next day, which sadly was the most gray day we've had, we drove up Cadillac Mountain. The views were awesome and we enjoyed our time on the mountain that is the first to see the sunrise in the United States!
J: After coming down the mountain and driving around the island for a bit, we headed even more north. We were headed to Jackman, Maine, which is near the Canadian border, although not at very top of the state. Now here we saw some color! Beautiful reds, oranges, yellows, dark reds, purples, and greens were everywhere! This area wasn't quite at its peak, but it was pretty darn close.
W: We took so many pictures of the colors that we're going to make them their own blog post. Stay tuned for that.
J: The night we arrived in Jackman we took a drive at dusk in search for a moose. In all my trips to Maine, I've never seen a moose in the wild. Sure, you see all the signs: "Moose Crossing!", "Break for Moose!" ... yeah, yeah, well I've never seen one so they don't exist! Finally, I was proven wrong. We were headed down the highway and we noticed a car pulled over. If a car is pulled over in New England, there's a good chance the car has stopped for deer or moose. We thought what the heck, we'll pull over too, and sure enough there was a female moose munching on a snack on the side of the road! We watched if for a few minutes, then I turned my head to the other side of the highway and there was a male moose eyeing the female moose! I'm told it is rutting season after all... We warned approaching drivers of the moose in the area until the male moose was able to safely cross the road to the female. They disappeared into the grass and we heard.......... moose sounds.......... I'm not gonna ask, we'll just keep driving...
So, yes, I can now confirm that moose do indeed reside in Maine.
W: Please forgive the video quality - it was dusk and that proved challenging for my cell phone camera.
J: The next morning we drove 35 miles east to Moosehead Lake/Greenville. The first thing we did when we got there was drive 8 miles down a dirt road to a B-52 memorial site. On January 24th, 1963 a B-52C bomber crashed. There were three people aboard, one was killed and the other two survived. At the memorial site, which was a .5 mile hike in the woods, we saw wreckage from the plane all over the place. They say that the wreckage was picked up but eventually returned to the site, so we weren't sure if the pieces in the trees and on the ground really landed there, or if they were scattered in the general area after the fact. In any case, it was still cool to see, and the 8 mile drive to the site had some of the best colors we've seen!
W: On our second night in Jackman we took another drive to see if we could find more moose. We were so lucky on this trip! First we saw two females (or a female and a young one, first two photos below), and then a bit further up the road we saw another bull moose. He was practically right next to our car. If that wasn't enough, we also saw a doe and a buck, and the doe (video below) was very curious about our car and approached very closely.
J: Tomorrow, we'll head south back to Brunswick. This time, we won't be staying in a hotel because we got a cabin between Brunswick and Freeport. Should be great!
Our time in Maine has been wonderful! The colors are really starting to come alive, although still not fully. Soon we'll drive up to northern Maine where we think the colors will be more vibrant right now. However, there are still spots in southern Maine where I just say "WOW!"
J: We've gone on three shopping sprees in Freeport, mostly at L. L. Bean. I learned that L. L. Bean stands for Leon Leonwood Bean, who I assume is the creator of Beans. I have never found a pair of jeans that fit me better than the ones I found at Beans, so I bought a few pairs. Also got some shirts and a new pair of shoes. Woohoo! Spending money like I have it...
J: On October 1st we went to the Patriots vs. Panthers game. Sadly, they lost :-( Boohoo. The whole experience, however, was great! We got to the stadium early so we had sushi and looked around the ProShop where I bought a few things (money really does grow on trees here!!!). We were sitting in great seats, view-wise. Right on the 50 yard line, up high, on the home side (also the sunny side!). However, we were sitting next to some guys who've had season tickets for 35 years... man, I thought I was upset when the Pats lost. We got to see and hear some authentic Boston charm from those guys.
W: I took the picture of Joel in the stands to give an idea of how far up we were. Just a few more rows and we'd be at the very top. The next picture, looking across, gives perspective - imagine us just a few rows down from the very top. At least we were center field.
J: We had a nice hike with Ron and his dog Molly the other day. A short hike, but pretty steep. We could see way out over the water, which was surrounded by trees... just beautiful!
W: Patriots logos are everywhere in Maine, as Joel has already mentioned, but I was still pleased to have it on my Dunkin Donuts cup. :-) Ron is my very good friend from high school. He lives in a house right on the point of a lake, which he has named "Camp 365" and for good reason. It's a beautiful spot. We had to choose to kayak or hike on this particular day, but there weren't enough life jackets to go on the lake so we opted for the hike. Molly, his dog, is one of the coolest dogs I've ever met. She always rides perfectly in the car, and she's so pretty! She loved Joel. :-)
J: Evenings and nights at Mark's and Rob's are so much fun! Swimming (yes, I went in twice while here), eating, drinking, Will and Grace, chatting.... it's all been great! They recommended that we try this place downtown called "Portland Pie", which is a pizza place. We did, and we took them along with us! The pizza was good, but my taste buds were not working properly :( :( :( I didn't get the full blown flavor of it all, but what I could taste was really good.
W: I really can't believe how great the weather has been here. It's been sunny and warm(ish) every day, which means we feel compelled to go outside and see things. One day we went to Fort Popham and Popham beach. The fort is really cool to explore (and free), and so is the beach. Last time we were here there were seals in the water, but not this time. Some people were in the water but it was too cold for Joel to do more than dip his feet in briefly. We found the little crab "sunning" on a rock - but it turned out he wasn't sunning, he was dead. :-(. In the picture with the fort below, you can see a house on the right side. It actually sits on an island completely inaccessible except by water. Wouldn't that be awesome?!
W: Heather and I grew up across the street from each other and were BFFs as kids. We met up with her at The Depot (a popular local bar in Gardiner) for a fantastic visit. All of these visits with friends make me aware of how much I miss everyone here.
The last few days in Michigan were great! Well, except for the heat and humidity combination. We helped out with an event in Ortonville and it was above 90 degrees with lots of humidity! I was dripping with sweat just standing in the sun. Others weren't, so I'm thinking I haven't totally adjusted to the climate! The event was called "Septemberfest" and it was in downtown Ortonville, which is very small. The dog rescue had a booth set up and they were selling jewelry, pillows, stickers, candles, and other things that people could buy and support the rescue. They even had some of the puppies at the event.
On Sunday, we went to the local Petco where the rescue sets up shop every week and does adoptions. This is when I hooked up my phone to the internet and watched the Patriots vs. Texans game. I watched it for the entire event and even on the way home because the game still wasn't over. It was a nail-biter and super uncomfortable to watch, but it had a great ending. Pats win at the last second! Woohoo!
After the Pecto event, we went to Mr. B's for a volunteer appreciation dinner. I had some rum and cokes and watched the Sunday night games at the bar while the volunteers did their mingling and visiting.
W: This was a really special night for me - well, a really special visit overall. I was one of the founders of this group (Canine Companions Rescue Center) in 2004 (in the photo below are several of the other original members) and spending time with the people who have helped build it over the past 13 years, as well as newer volunteers I hadn't personally met before, was a real treat. I was amazed at the people we have brought together to do this good thing - at how much they genuinely like each other and take care of each other while helping the dogs.
J: While in Michigan, I had access to a Steinway grand piano. Since it's Fall, I decided to learn Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin. I haven't figured out how to put the video on here yet, but as soon as I do I'll put it up!
W: One of my only regrets from this visit was that I didn't get a photo of me and Joel with Erica and Courtney (or Court-in-eee, sung in a singsong voice, as done by Lindsay's twin girls). Erica is the Operations Manager of the rescue, and Courtney is her right hand lady. They are both such wonderful people, and a lot of fun! They are the ones we hung out with at the pub and I think I will miss them most of all.
J: It was an early morning on Monday because we had a long drive ahead of us. It was about a 13 hour drive from Michigan to Maine, and we did 'er in one day! Again, no huge traffic problems accept there was a little hold up in Canada, and another wait to get back into the States. I told Wendy, "Well I guess we're not wanted in Canada or the U.S., otherwise they'd have taken us away right on the spot." Not that I've done anything to be wanted by any government... Anywho, we got to Maine late at night and booked our usual hotel in the area for the next ten days. After booking the hotel, we went into town to get gelato at Gelato Fiasco (they are open really late) with our friends Mark and Rob. Gelato Fiasco is known for creating it's own unique flavors based on what's going on in the town. Still waiting for the Lobster flavor..... not.
By the way, we spent more in tolls going across New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine than we did in gas for the day. Welcome to New England, that'll be $100!
Our first day in Maine was great. I was up early and running along my favorite path that follows the Androscoggin river. It was especially nice because the mornings here are very misty and cool! It's like running in a cool sauna! Woohoo!
We also had our first Lobster roll of the trip! Yum. Just because I'm a freak, I took pictures of beer and chips with the Patriots logo on them.
J: Later in the day we visited Mark and Rob at their new house which is awesome! They just put in a pool so of course I had to go swimming. Yes, in September. Actually, they have a heater, so the pool was 81 degrees. Seriously though, the days have been *HOT* so far and the pool felt nice. Also went for a swim when it got dark, because it's a totally different experience with the rainbow lights, you see.
Mark asked me to bring my rodeo rope on the trip, and I was nice and agreed, even though I haven't been practicing! I did my routine for them and Wendy and I even gave them a short lesson on how to twirl the rope in a circle.
Now, everything above was done after a few margaritas, so imagine that. Although, maybe it was just me... it always hits me harder than others.
W: Mark is my friend from high school, so around 35 years now. He and Joel became friends during our previous visits so we always have a lot of fun with him and Rob when we're in town. Although - Mark is a lot like my grandmother, but instead of "eat! eat!" it's "drink! drink!" lol. I've got to admit he makes a good margarita. :-)
W: One of our most perfect days so far was partially spend in Harpswell, visiting the ocean and eating wonderful food. We sat outside Estes Lobster House, eating our haddock tacos, steamers, and lobster stew, watching the tide come in while enjoying a light breeze, full sun, and 75 degrees. It was pretty much perfect.
J: Just a few more pics I took because I was amused!
J: In the picture below, look for the giant pine cones in the tree. They are different colors! This was taken at L.L. Bean.
At 7:00 a.m. it's still pretty dark here. That's going to take some getting used to! My deer friends were back in the yard this morning. It's becoming a normal thing for them to show up in the evenings and mornings, and I'm more than OK with that! This morning, there were even some babies out there.
W: This has become Joel's perch each morning. He sits out in nature (humidity) and communes with the deer and the squirrels (and Facebook).
J: It's nice and cool in the mornings, and the deer always show up in the evening around 7 p.m.
W: I did not drive 2000 miles to sit in 90 degree heat with humidity, but that's what we're getting. Michigan is being cruel, and I can only hope Maine will treat us better! Thank goodness I packed a few pairs of capri pants.
W: My family has been pretty much obsessed with Fudge Du Locke fudge since I was born. The company, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (aka "the Soo", where I was born) has been around since 1964 and it defines fudge as far as my taste buds are concerned. Back when I still lived in Michigan, I was absolutely tickled to discover that the same fudge was being sold right down the road from my house at the Frankenmuth Fudge Kitchen in the Yates Cider Mill. Since Joel could not recall having been to a cider mill, that went on our to-do list. In addition to hot cider (which was wonderful even though it was over 80 degrees that day) and donuts, we just had to pick up some fudge. As I chatted with the man at the counter, I explained how this fudge was "a thing" for my family, and had been for my entire life, that I was born in the Soo and originally discovered it there. The man, who turned out to be Zak McClellan, told me he was born in the Soo as well, and that Fudge Du Locke and this fudge shop are owned by his family. Well, knowing that I just had to get his picture! He was the nicest guy, all smiles, and said it made him so happy to hear what I had said to him. My mom, aunt, and cousins are going to be SO jealous! I'm buddies with *the* Fudge Du Locke guy!
J: I'm sure I went to a cider mill when I was younger, I just don't remember it! Actually, I remember not really even liking cider as a child. Well, as an adult I can say it's pretty awesome. The perfect way to taste the fall season (sorry people, it ain't pumpkin spice anything!). Cider and donuts... MMMmmm.
J: The fudge guy was nice, but he reminded me of Will Farrell, whose comedy I don't really care for... except maybe in the movie Elf. Speaking of Elf, after the cider mill, we went to a place called Old Canterbury, which is basically like Trail Dust Town in Tucson but it has a King Arthur/Castle-y vibe. The place was dead, but they have this shop called "Always Christmas." I love Christmas and I listen to Christmas music pretty much year-round, so this place was perfect for me. When Wendy and I travel, we try to pick up an ornament from wherever we visit. Well, this seemed like a pretty good place to pick up an ornament!
W: After the cider mill I had to go to a local high school to film an episode of "Pet Flix", our dog rescue's local TV show. I was being interviewed as the founder/director of the group, which was very cool for me. I was ready for it, I swear, but some questions were asked out of order and at some point my mind couldn't keep track of it all and completely shut down. I recovered quickly, and thank goodness for editing (I hope, anyway), but it was harder than I thought! From there we had to go to a board meeting for the rescue. It was at the home of one of the board members, who happens to have three young kids. In no time at all, the shy little ones were swarming all over Joel, showing him their toys, bringing him plastic food, and sharing all of their stories. It was so cute, but I totally failed to get a picture! The dad is a hard-core Patriots fan, like Joel, so they had some bonding time while I attended the meeting. We ended the day at a pub with the two ladies who work for the rescue, and stayed were there until 1 a.m.! I am not a night person, but my brain is still on AZ time (and we were having a great time) so I managed to stay awake.
I finished my postlude on Sunday, September 17th then we were outta town! Wendy and I were on the road to Michigan at 12:17 p.m. in my new(ish) Prius. Although it's smaller, we were able to fit everything into it and averaged 48 mpg all the way to Michigan ($82 in gas total!). Jazz, my German Shepherd, is staying with Chelsea.
The first day of travel (which was only a half-day since we left in the afternoon) took us to Amarillo, Texas. We went through New Mexico and drove through a beautiful pine area called Ruidoso. The rest of New Mexico looked just like Arizona, although we did see a few alien-themed items on the side of the road as we approached Roswell. No U.F.O. sightings this time. Darn!
Wendy: There was lightning happening inside some clouds over Roswell as we passed through, so we can't totally rule out the lack of UFO sightings...
Also, while there's no point in spending a lot of money to crash somewhere for just a few hours, is it so much to ask that a place not have paper thin walls, extremely weak water pressure, and sticky, fake hardwood floors?
J: On the second day of travel, we were able to get to Effingham, Illinois. Traffic was actually really great the whole way to Michigan. No major holdups or accidents to be seen! When we entered Missouri we could tell the leaves on the trees were just beginning to turn. The hotel in Effingham was terrible.
W: "Terrible" is an understatement. Rock hard beds, a half-empty water bottle on the nightstand left from either a maid or previous occupant, again with the water pressure being non-existent, and this time, a curved shower curtain rod that tilted downward, forcing the curtain to fall away from the walls on both sides throughout the shower, soaking my clothing in a humid state, thick with fog (see below) as we left the room. Oh, and I can't forget the musty, smoke smell. Ugh.
W: On a completely different note, the people of Missouri have a very odd sense of humor. I'm sure this is old news to many who have traveled Route 66, but I swear it's the first time in my 50 years I've seen the billboards for the Uranus Fudge Factory. I took the first photo as proof, but grabbed the rest from online as I wasn't quick enough with my camera to catch them all on the roadside. I promise they were all there in some form or other, with more besides.
J: On the third day, we reached the house where we are staying in Michigan. It's between Flint and Detroit and it's in a lovely little area. In Michigan, the tree colors are a little further along, although still in their color-changing beginnings. Wow!!! I haven't seen a true fall season in almost 20 years and I was blown away by the colors! All down the freeway were reds, yellows, greens, oranges, and purples. I think the purples were really just a darker red, but I call them purple. Few pictures were taken during our travel days because nothing was really *that* interesting. As vacation hums along, I'll post some pictures of the colors and things we are doing. We'll be staying in Michigan through Sunday, then we'll drive across Canada, enter the States again in Buffalo, and make our way to Maine through New York, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
W: Things that make Wendy cranky: Humidity, being cold, and driving in traffic. Please pray for Joel as he is stuck in my immediate presence pretty much non-stop for the next 30 days, under constant and various combinations of these conditions.
Part 3: Sedona
Joel: The last part of our trip was Sedona. If you know me, you know it's no secret that I don't prefer Arizona's landscape to other places back east, but I do love Sedona.
Right now Wendy and I are obsessed with acai bowls, and we make them all the time at home. There are two places in Sedona that only serve acai bowls, so we've been hitting those up each morning. We came to Sedona for less than 24 hours very recently and we did not get to see much, although we did go on one awesome hike. This time, we were able to see more of the town and shopping areas and still get one hike in. It was a shorter hike, but still very beautiful. Thankfully, the weather in Sedona was not as bad as our weather apps kept telling us. We were expecting rain, but as you can see from the pictures, the sun was out.
Wendy: We hiked to the end of the maintained trail and then Joel and Kendra decided to explore a bit further. The first picture below is taken at the end of the trail, and shows Joel and Kendra coming back down from their extended hike. The second picture was taken by Kendra further up.
Joel: When we first got into town, we immediately went to lunch at the "Creekside" restaurant. Probably one of the best lunches I've ever had. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture so I'll just have to explain it: Filet Mignon - Caprese Salad - Green Salad with Pomegranate seeds. Yum. Right after lunch we went to this awesome shop where I bought a singing bowl. You can see me use it and hear it in the video below. At home, I have a collection of musical instruments and this will be a nice addition to that collection. I also bought two awesome rainbow candles for the house!
Last time we were here, I also had an amazing jalapeño margarita. We went back to the same restaurant (Cowboy Club) to get it, but they didn't have it that day. This is one of the main reasons I was looking forward to coming back to Sedona! However, the nice cowboy waiter was able to get me a pretty close knock-off of what I had before. Still excellent, although much more spicy!
Wendy: The same store with the singing bowl also had the item below, which I was desperate to own. However, the $33,000 price tag was just over my budget for this vacation. The macaws are made entirely from various stones, and they are beautiful! There were smaller versions, but even the smallest was several hundred dollars. They are on my wish list if any of my super-wealthy friends are ever in Sedona around my birthday in August. ;-)
Joel and Kendra were great sports about having their picture taken while we were shopping downtown.
We are now on our last day in Sedona and our only plan is to visit the chapel in the rocks and grab lunch before heading back down to Phoenix to put mom on her plane. On the way up, I brought a foster dog to potentially get adopted by someone near Flagstaff. That was a success (Chloe is in the first three photos below - on our way up, at her new home, and hiking with her new fur-brother) so on the way home we'll be picking up a VERY pregnant dog to foster until the pups are ready for adoption (last photo below).
Part 2: Page, Arizona
Joel: The second part of our trip was Page, AZ. Page is very near the Utah border. In fact, we drove very briefly to Utah when we were first exploring the area. We are staying in a pretty sweet VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner). The house is huge and has a sun room that overlooks Lake Powell and the dam. The dam provides local businesses here with funny, but overused, business names. For example, "The dam deli", "The dam plaza", etc. The house is also right up against a golf course with a nice trail for walking/running, which I've done almost everyday since being here. Here is the view from the sun room.
One of the first things we did in Page was go see Horseshoe Bend, which is a bend in the Colorado river that looks like a horseshoe. If you google "Horseshoe bend" and look at the images, you'll probably find that you've actually seen pictures of horseshoe bend before.
Wendy: Since Horseshoe Bend has no railings and it's a 1000 foot drop straight down, the entire edge is one, big "nope spot." Kendra, with complete disregard to her mother's and my anxiety levels, sat on the edge for some pictures. This is where we got our second, full-group shot. I wish I had taken a photo of the trail to get there. It was short, but I'm not kidding when I say it was "uphill both ways.". Big climb up from the parking lot, then down to the rim, then back up from the rim, and down to the parking lot.
Joel: Along those same lines, google "Antelope Canyon". This is where we went the second day. Apparently, Microsoft uses a popular image from Antelope Canyon as a default screen saver. We learned from the tour guide (you can only see Antelope Canyon with a tour guide) that the image was sold to Microsoft for 1.6 million dollars. The canyon walls are shaped by the running water that comes through when the dry river floods. This happens fairly often, and it can be very dangerous to anyone in the canyon. That's why they close the canyon when in rains, even if the rainfall is a few miles away. The canyon was, at times, very narrow and cold. We were constantly being told to press up against the walls so a group that was leaving could pass. We learned that the fine for writing anything on the walls of the canyon is $5,000.
The last thing we did in Page was a boat ride on Lake Powell. There were 31 people on our boat and the whole adventure took about an hour. We went out on the big part of the lake, then sailed through one of the 96 canyons. The canyon was narrow and people were kayaking and using their jet skis right next to our boat! Apparently, the lake is only filled up 46% of the way right now, and when it's totally full, the water comes most of the way up the canyon walls. The black streaks on the side of the canyon walls (shown in the picture below) are created by waterfalls. On our way back into the Marina, we saw some house boats. Our tour guide told us they start at $900.00/day to rent. Some had jet skis attached, 2 - 6 bedrooms, living space, hot tubs, pools, and more. One day I'll own one... right after I switch my career path!
For our last evening in Page we played many games of dominoes, and yes, we broke into the "groceries" we picked up before the trip began. :-) Tomorrow...Sedona!
Event: 2017 Arizona mini-vacation
Culprits: Joel, Wendy, Pat, Chelsea, Linda, Wayne, Jaimie, Kendra, Ella (dog)
I was finally able to take some time off this month! Our plans are to go to the Grand Canyon (I've lived in Arizona for almost 20 years and have never seen it!), Page (near the Utah border), and Sedona.
Part 1: The Grand Canyon
Joel: We left Tucson early to go pick up Wendy's mom from the airport in Phoenix. After picking her up we stayed in Phoenix and we all went to this great brunch place called Fame (pronounced fah-mey... it's french). I judge breakfast places by their mimosas, and this one had a great one. Not as good as my favorite, Prep and Pastry, but pretty darn close. Let's just say it did the job and I didn't get stuck with the driving... at least at first.
On the second day, we were able to see more of the canyon, but it was freezing outside. At times it snowed and the wind was pretty intense. Still, it was the Grand Canyon, so we forged on. At the end of the day we had dinner at the El Tavor dining room. It was super fancy and super expensive, but also super good. I ate quail for the first time. Now when I see quail on the road, I'll think of how delicious they taste with a balsamic glaze and a side of baby carrots. :-)
We bothered one other tourist long enough to get this one-and-only, whole-group shot at the grand canyon. L to R: Jaimie (cousin), Joel, Kendra (cousin), me!, Chelsea (daughter), Pat (mom), Uncle Wayne, and Aunt Linda (mom's sister).
I keep trying to put my finger on what it is I love about Ojai. It's the climate, it's the views, it's the feel, and it's the smell - I wish I could blog the smell. Fresh, floral, and clean. Trees and plants are in bloom everywhere., but even the dirt smells good here. This is the jasmine hedge in front of the house where we park the car. Our guest house is behind this house (not at all visible) so we walk past this hedge many times each day and the smell is AMAZING.
We spent one afternoon in Ventura, which frequently made me think of Valley Presbyterian Church (where Joel and I work). This large cross stands high on the hills overlooking the town. It's described in the plaque, and I wrote out the text because it's hard to read.
The views up by that cross were amazing.
Afterward, we came down from the hills and walked around downtown. The arrow in the center of the picture below points to a circle that contains the Mission Cross pictured above, as viewed from the main street in Ventura.
Again with the reminders of Valley Pres. This time we were walking to breakfast one morning and passed by the home of the "Duck Lady of Signal Street". Anyone who knows Valley Pres knows about Carla and the ducks. Carla works in the office and has about a million rubber ducks, and each week in the e-blast she uses some to create cute and creative photos. I couldn't help but think of her when I saw this house.
Joel wanted to take a drive to Malibu this trip since we'd never visited before. We started with lunch at a restaurant on the beach, then went for a short walk, then just sat and watched and listened to the waves for awhile - and saw some VERY cool stuff. We had our area of the beach mostly to ourselves, and it though it was overcast when we arrived, the sun came out and made it a perfect weather day.
This is what happens when Joel has free time.. He piled so much sand on his feet and legs that his feet went numb. In the photo on the right, we first thought we were seeing a shark. However, it was much cuter than that. Watch the 30-second video compilation to see not only what was coming there, but another creature that swam by shortly after.
Prior to leaving Tucson we wrote up an offer on a house, intending to submit it right before we head home. However, shortly after arriving in Cali the price on the home dropped so we made the offer early. It's been an interesting journey of doing business long distance, but we came to an agreement and have a contract on the house. I don't want to jinx us by getting ahead of ourselves, but if all goes as planned we'll be moving shortly after we get home!
Back to Ojai - we ate more than once at Boccali's because of their amazing strawberry shortcake, and visited Hakan Sushi another time or two. We went back to the park for the Wednesday evening concert and then enjoyed ice cream and sorbet at Ojai Ice Cream on our way back to our cottage. Much of what we love about this town is the town itself, so many of our days are spent walking around it, or up on Shelf Road overlooking the valley.