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Head Over Heels in Oregon – Sister Trip + 1 – Sept. 2020

20 Sep

A friend at the gym told me about his rental on the Oregon Coast and since we wanted something different this year, we made a fortunate decision to go there.  The house offered privacy, social distancing, a beautiful beach and access to many places to hike/visit.  Jolee joined us this year and she added much to the frivolity.  We were lucky all the way around. (Click on a photo if you wish to see more detail)

An Ashland, OR park.  We didn’t know that Ashland had been hit very hard by a fire just a day or two before, but we learned that as we left town.  Entire neighborhoods had been burned to the ground.  Fire were still burning in the Cascades and other places that caused us to be diverted from our original route.  Jolee and her trusty phone rerouted us and we arrived at our house not much later than originally planned.

This road sign (on the street) is in Port Orford).  It greatly amused us.

Of course, we had to drive over the hill and check the view.  I’m sure the view is generally beautiful but, on this day, it was filled with smoke.

The landmark for our house.

The Tale of the Whale gate to the house.  (These photos were taken at different times and the smoke is more apparent in some than others)

View of the house from the gate.

Berries growing right beside the driveway.  They were tasty!

This house was so nice and comfy.

Our first tourist stop was the bookstore in Gold Beach.  Wow!  It gives Powell’s in Portland a run for its money.

J & elvis

Jerri & Elvis

The Gleesome Threesome in Bandon, OR posing with a sculpture made from ocean trash. We had fun visiting many cute shops.  Pretty smoky that day.

Jolee wondered if this farm actually raised dragonflies and turned off the highway to check it out.

We were met by the next sign shortly after our turn.  This was great cause for hilarity.

Eerie fog creeping over the highway.

Our visit to the Prehistoric Gardens was fun and a bit mysterious.

Jerri and Jolee are quite unaware of danger in the background.

All the little kids we saw were enthralled by these sculptured critters.

2 triceratops hatchlings

Jolee is too close to the mama triceratops!

3 serious folks waiting for a streetcar.

Wouldn’t want to meet this guy on a dark trail.

Our favorite place was Otter Point to see critters; otters, seals, dolphins, seabirds and some we hadn’t expected to see…a colony of giant slugs!

Shades of UC Santa Cruz – a banana slug!

A vulture (but we like to call them buzzards) flew over me but this was best shot available.  (Gracias, RDS)

An osprey having a fish dinner

Otter Point arch – The otters, seals and dolphins were just too far away and weren’t posing for us.

We even found a Jolee peeking out.

Beach view of our house. Sadly, we didn’t think to take one when it was sunny.

Jerri’s driftwood that Jolee hauled up to the house.

Pelicans flying along our beach. I love seeing then skim along the water surface.

Rogue River Bridge

Near the bridge is the Mary D. Hume, a steamer built in Gold Beach in 1881. She was retired in 1977 and then sank in the Rogue River in 1985 where she remains today.

We hiked to see the Thomas Creek Bridge, the highest bridge in all of Oregon…345′ tall. I was disappointed that this is all we could see without going down to the bottom of the canyon. My knees won’t do that any more.

Part of the trail was rough.

Three on the trail.

Jolee took a 4-hour hike on a steep trail on Humbug Mountain.

She said it was pretty along the trail along with obstacles to get around, such as this giant fallen tree.  Jerri and I stayed home, walked on the beach, read our books and worked on a jigsaw puzzle.

Back on our beach – the first sunny morning.

Looking north from the house

A beach plant surviving in the sand

Jolee enjoying a taste of the grape

3 weirdos on the deck

We had to go south to McKinleyville, CA on Hwy 101 in order to avoid the Oregon fires.  We were very excited to see 6 elk along the way.   Here is a grazing elk bull.

We took a detour on the way home to see a cousin we hadn’t seen in many years.  This was in Nubieber, CA.  Most folks don’t know about that town, but it’s east of Redding.  Cousin Lee took great pride in showing us his wood projects.  I must say they are really amazing.  These are working models, by the way.

Lee is holding his model of the metamorphosis of a tomato worm.  This is significant because his dad grew many varieties of tomatoes and, of course, had to deal with these pests.


Yes, this is a long blog with probably too many pictures.  But I’m hoping you have enjoyed reading and seeing photos of our Oregon trip.  It was great fun to see territory we haven’t seen before.  At the same time, I sort of felt guilty having a good time while many Oregonians were/are suffering huge losses from the many fires.  May God bless them and help them to recover from this tragedy.





























  The Potholes & Silver Lake – September, 2020

6 Sep

One of the cool things about living in northern Nevada is that even during a pandemic, we can get outside to work in the yard, hike, kayak and maybe even explore our territory.  (Don’t forget to click on a photo if you want an enlargement)

Jerri and I have been doing this off and on this summer.  Hiking and kayaking, that is.  Last week, on a fairly clear of smoke day, we zoomed out Hwy. 88 into the Sierra Nevada where we hiked to “The Potholes.”   You’ll see why it’s called that name soon.  This is an area of huge boulders along with forested area.

A nice path going through a shady, cool forest

Our path led us by a stream with fallen trees

And by some Dino poop…just kidding.  It’s really a pile of ancient lava.

After trekking about a mile or so, we found the potholes.  Sorry about the exposure.  I was looking pretty much into the sun.

A pothole is a circular or cylindrical hole in the riverbed which is produced by force of water and abrasion. A pothole is formed when a circular current of water carrying small pebbles and sediment begins to wear away a rock surface.

This is a fun place to take a dip. But one must be careful because just past that big rock in the background is a long waterfall and a huge drop to even bigger rocks. No bueno to slip over the edge. We were able to to enjoy all this in solitude for about 20 minutes before people began to join us. Good thing we like to get out early.

“To infinity and beyond!”  This view is just to the right and above where the potholes are.  Another long drop into the abyss just beyond those trees on the rock if one is not careful.

The Potholes trailhead is just across the highway (more or less) from Silver Lake and that is where we kayaked twice last week.  We love this place!  This is Silver Lake about 9 am.  It’s so much fun to get out there with no wind (as we have experienced at Caples Lake many times).

“Our” lagoon.  You can see why we love this place.

Paddling into a little arm of the lake.  A fun place to play and swim.

The water in our little cove is fairly warm and enjoyable on a very hot day like it was in this photo.  We just need to be careful of rocks.

Don’t take my picture!
(Check out the rugged mountain in the background.  Smoke from forest fires to the south of us was creeping in and making it hazy)

I swear the fish was this big!

This varmint visited us and wondered if we had any Grey Poupon or crackers. He was quite close to our chairs.  (I think this is a golden mantle squirrel)

Time to skidaddle.  These little guys are quite brazen.  Another time, Jerri heard rustling in my backpack and it was one of these squirrels trying to find food.

Even though it takes close to an hour to get to Silver Lake, it’s the best place for us right now.  Not many people during the week and plenty of social distancing (a term I’d never heard of until 6 months ago).  We love the peace and quiet and the ability to get out and exercise without the crowds.




Discovering Caples Lake – July, 2020

17 Jul

We have been kayaking at Round Hill beach on the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe for a couple of years.  Recently, Jerri decided we should branch out as Round Hill is getting too crowded and we know just about every rock on our kayaking routes.

There are many lakes around Lake Tahoe and in the Sierras and we did a bit of research on how far we’d have to carry the kayaks, where to park, and time to get to our new playground.  She wanted to try Caples Lake and we headed out to the Caples Resort.  As we neared the resort, we noticed a public boat launch sign and turned in there.  What a treasure!  Only $5 for day use;  easy parking and a small distance to carry our gear;  several little beaches where we can socially isolate.  It was quiet and very few people.  This was the best!  Please remember to double click on the photos to enlarge them.

Yes, the beach is rocky, but we have chairs to sit on and we love the solitude.  We can hear water lapping on the shore and the birds in the area.

There are many trees and even a few redwoods.

We are even treated to a few flowers still in bloom.  Here is a small lupine.

There was a wind blowing when we arrived but it was not as cold as the winds generally are at Lake Tahoe.  We were still cautious with the kayaks and didn’t go out in the middle of the lake, but we were able to paddle about a mile without turning around and that was on just one side of the lake.  We were excited to spot what we originally thought was a bald eagle, but it turned out to be an osprey in a dead tree.  It’s not as big as a bald eagle, but it’s still a large bird.  We even got to see it fly and try for a fish, their primary food.  Photo: Audubon field guide

Caples is much smaller than Tahoe and not as deep and I think that is why even though its elevation is higher, it was warmer.  We were comfortable to wade and even play with the Boogie boards.

We knew the weather forecast called for winds and possible thunderstorms and were on the watch for thunderheads building around the mountain peaks.  This is the only rabbit we saw that day. 🙂

We watched this “donut” build and when the wind built up speed and the donut blocked out the sun in a relatively short time, we quickly packed up and left.  One does not mess around with lightning in the mountains and on lakes.

A sweet picture of my grand-niece watching the lake.

Dean was waiting for me when I got home and wanted to relax together a bit before I took a shower.

Jerri and I were so excited about Caples Lake that we went two days in a row.  So much fun and it’s worth the extra few miles to drive to get to this treasure of the Sierra Nevada.

P.S.  Don’t tell folks about how cool this lake is.  We love its solitude and beauty unmarred by crowds.

What I’ve Been Doing for the Past 10 Or So Days

10 Jul

My niece, Jolee, spent many days on her hands and knees moving rocks, laying down weed prevention materials and then replacing the rocks.  A backbreaking, fatiguing job to say the least.  As I took a tour of my own back yard, I decided there was too much ugly Bermuda type grass around my trees and I could fix that.  Jolee was my inspiration, plus I wanted to see if I could do it.  (Be sure to click on the images if you wish to enlarge them)

I moved these rocks front the front yard and placed them around the trees when I first moved to Minden in 2013.  Obviously, I didn’t do a very good job taking care of the grass.  This is a before shot.   The area beyond the fence is open space that was originally supposed to be a gold course.  Now it’s full of sagebrush and other plants that provide shelter and some food for many critters and birds.  Just this side of the fence are the many iris that I planted last fall.  I hope, eventually, they will provide a green/colorful vista along the fence.

It seemed like it took forever to move the rocks and prepare the soil for the weed guard material.  It also involved replacing some of the drip system because some of it was at least 20 years old.  It was such a dirty, sweaty job that I usually took off my clothes in the laundry room and then went for a shower.  Yes, I was drinking a lot of Gatorade to stay hydrated.

This little 3” long creature charged at me while I was trying to move his rock home.  Luckily, I saw him moving out of the corner of my eye and didn’t get stung.  Touch up (to highlight him to be easier to see) courtesy of the Matt Rivers Touch-up & Redo Service.

Along the way, I decided to not return the small rocks around the trees as I thought it would look neater.  So, I moved quite a few via wheelbarrow to another section of the yard.  This is just the beginning.

After placing the weed guard material around the trees, I moved some large rocks from another area of the yard to form a circle around the tree.  Then red “bark” was put around the trees.  Jerri helped me do some of this.  Still, it’s a long tedious job.  This is a “finished” tree.  Piles of smallish rocks are still to be moved.  I broke my wheelbarrow just as I dumped my last load this morning.  RATS!  I need to go out and repair it before Jerri comes over to help me move more rocks tomorrow.  No rest for the wicked as my mom used to say.





A Floral, Horsey Adventure May whatever, 2020

19 May

Yesterday, my sister and I took a jaunt about 35-40 miles northeast of Carson Valley to visit the Campies Lavender Patch to purchase some lavender plants and products.    I’m including the link to the farm because I forgot I had the camera until after we visited the Lavender Patch.

The owners, Mike and Diane, own a few acres out near Stagecoach, Nevada, and offer up to 40 varieties of lavender.  Some of those varieties have been bred by Mike himself.  The best thing about these plants is that they are acclimated to the Nevada climate, can stand up to our weather extremes and they won’t die as have most of my other lavender plants.  Good friends at the Jacobs Family Berry Farm  have many of the Campie plants and they are beautiful!

Stagecoach in Lyon County, Nevada, United States, located east of Reno. Its name is likely derived from its place as the Overland Stagecoach station at Desert Well.  The 2010 population was 1874 and I don’t think it’s grown much since then. The Lavender Patch is a few miles north of US Hwy. 50 located on an upslope of a hilly valley.

It was rather stormy here in Minden, but was just windy out near the Patch.  Mike met us outside the house and then showed us the buildings where the smaller plants are kept.  He described the plants and what they look like (they were mostly all alike to us) and then showed us the gallon plants.  We chose our plants and then purchased our lavender products that we had ordered ahead of time.  (Remember, technically, Campies Patch is still closed.  So, our orders were “to go.”)   We had a pleasant visit and then hopped in the car to go home with our treasures.

Nevada is home to many herds of wild horses and the area we were in is famous for its herds.  We happened to see the largest herd we’ve ever seen before we got back to Hwy. 50.  We counted them from afar (between 50-54) and then I was able to find a road/gravel path to get closer.  We could see horses of all ages and they all looked pretty healthy.  It was then I remembered my camera and took a few photos of them engaging in several activities and two were doing what comes naturally.  If you wish to see that picture, please contact me as this is a family blog.    Jerri and I were pretty excited to see this herd because if we are lucky enough to see any wild horses, they are in groups of maybe 5-6 or so.

You can see the terrain and the desert foliage.  It must be difficult for the herd to sustain itself as I don’t think sagebrush is all that tasty. I think the brown roofed house on the left side is close to where the Lavender Patch is.  Please click on the image to enlarge it.







Dean Johnson Moves In!

11 May

Basically all my volunteer activities and most of my social life were kaput when the corona virus hit Nevada and then the ensuing shutdown occurred.  The family and a few friends became concerned that I might get depressed or something and suggested that I get a cat.  I thought I was doing fine, but kept the cat idea in mind.  The seed was planted and soon I was looking on line for pets at the local shelters.  It seems many senior folks had the same idea and the nearest short-haired cats I could find were almost 30 miles away in Incline Village (on the north shore of Lake Tahoe).

So, on April 6, I brought home Lulu and Dean, two kitties I wanted to foster with an option to adopt.  I thought two cats would be good because they could be buddies when I resumed my normal museum and other volunteer activities, but hadn’t considered these two hadn’t met each other before I brought them home.

Lulu had been the shelter thrift store cat for about a year and was quite independent.  Within 15 minutes of arriving at my house, she had explored the house, had a snack and used the litter box.  She became the instant queen of the house. Lulu is 8 years old.

Poor 2 year old Dean had been in the shelter for only a week and was quite shy when he was let out of the box at my house.  In fact, Lulu bullied him and he hid under a recliner for several days.  There was a lot of growling and carrying on, especially at night when Dean would venture out from the recliner.

This is Dean’s first eating station in my bedroom. Lulu wouldn’t let him into the kitchen.

Lulu was unrelenting and, after a week, I took her back to the shelter.  Within a couple of days of Lulu’s departure, Dean was a new cat.  You will see what he has morphed into when you see the ensuing pictures.

Catching some rays early in the morning.

Using his ramp scratch board. It’s just about wrecked from so much use.

Loves to play with his mouse on a string.  Here he’s waiting for the mouse to fall off the cat tree. He strategizes and doesn’t waste much energy.

Catching his mouse.  He loves this toy and even plays with it on his own. He’ll get a new one next week as the feathers are
all off now and the stuffing is falling out.

On his tower.  He loves to take naps here and scratch the daylights out of the left hand post.

He’s quite a talker and we have conversations several times a day.  His official description is that he’s a domestic short-hair mixed.  He’s definitely a mix and I believe one of his forebearers was a Siamese.  His voice is like a Siamese and his eyes are a handsome blue.

Dean is an athlete and he stretches a lot.  Here he’s reaching for a bird decal that is supposed to deter birds from flying into the window.  It works most of the time.  I marvel at his agility when he’s leaping for his mouse on a string.  He can jump higher than my couch and change direction in mid-air while catching his mouse.  I’ve tried for photos/videos, but with no success.

Bird watching.  He’s very well behaved and never tries to get out after the birds.

Making sure the printer doesn’t jam.

Walt Disney is one of his favorites to watch.  After all, Walt created a mouse!

Dean’s made friends with Jolee, but he doesn’t practice any social distancing.

His curiosity is insatiable. He loves to go where no other cat goes.  He’s even shut himself in the guest bathroom when he tried to get a towel on the rack, somehow hit the door and shut it.  He’s been accidentally shut in my closet and the hall closet.  His cries soon alert me that he’s in trouble.

Guess I should have gotten a bigger bed.

Dean chose this bed under my bed, which I put there because he chose to sleep there with no bed.  You can see he likes it and curls up in it.

Dean ventures into this little house on occasion but it’s really too small for him. He’d rather play with his paper sacks and mouse on a string.

Here is Dean working out with one of my exercise items.  Those black handles are no longer in one piece.

Dean is a very clean cat and tends to that duty anytime, anyplace…even when playing on my bed.

Skyping with friends on Dean’s official adoption day, April 30, 2020

Dean works and plays hard and is tired when I go to bed.  Recently, he decided he would like to sleep with me.  He’s a very long cat and when he stretches across the bed, he takes up about two thirds of it.

Dean Johnson has indeed moved into my house and heart.  He makes me laugh and is good company.  I think he likes it here too.
















Death Valley – February 2020

1 Mar

The family’s annual trek to Death Valley began on Valentine’s Day when the Biddles and Tristaos headed toward Death Valley after school was released.  They camped in Beatty and Goldfield respectively before heading into the Valley Saturday morning.  I drove down to the Valley as soon as I finished making my selections in the early Nevada caucus.

After one goes south on US 95 from Hawthorne, the view is pretty much the same for several hours.  Desert and sagebrush along with a few wild burros and horses, free range cattle and a solar farm or two are the highlights to see.  Still, I find it calming as it gives me lots of time to listen to music, radio classics (The Whistler, Boston Blackie and other programs I listened to when I was a kid) and just time to contemplate the world.  Many folks listen to audio books but I find that they make me sleepy.

I arrived just in time for dinner and was glad that Jerri had everything in hand and all I had to do was sit and chow down.   This was the first sunset I saw in Death Valley.  Jerri and I love to see the different cloud formations and the colors therein.

We checked out the pool the next morning and were somewhat disappointed in it.  The pool seemed cooler even though it’s fed by a warm spring.  Ever since we’ve been going there, the water has been changed out every 24 hours (then the water is recycled onto the golf course) and it’s always warm and fresh.  But this year, Xanterra, the company that has the concession for Furnace Creek has opted to chlorinate the pool.  This is not good for Megan and Jolee as they get rashes from the chlorine.  Xanterra should have used the chlorine and tons of bleach to clean the shower facilities as they were not clean.  But that’s another issue.  Here we are relaxing by the pool before we found out about the showers.

It is a nice-looking pool and fun to swim in unless you’re allergic to chlorine.

Scott, Jason and I hit the golf course that afternoon and ended up doing four rounds during the week.  The three of us have a lot of fun with lots of kidding and laughing as well as saying some bad things when we blow a shot.

We were amazed at the coyotes that like to roam the course in search of coots and other wildlife.  These coyotes are beautiful and well fed as they eat quite often unlike their cousins who live in the wilds of the valley.  They look like Wiley Coyote from the Roadrunner cartoons.  We saw quite a few and they didn’t seem afraid of us.

Megan’s friend, Jesslyn, had never been to Death Valley, so we took her to see Badwater.

The next stop was Artist’s Palette.  We would have seen more vibrant colors had we visited in early morning or at dusk.

We also hiked to the Natural Bridge.

Megan is taking a picture of Jesslyn posing in front of a chimney type erosion.  I don’t know what the official name is, but I think it’s cool.

Of course, the dogs need to be walked several times a day.

Gus, Jerri’s new black dog, isn’t a year old yet and he’s just full of energy.  This is during one of his non-hyper moments. All I can say is that it’s a good thing he has a big yard in which to run.

Max is always on duty

Who’s there?

Bia, Jolee’s dog, is so special that she has her own chair much to the chagrin of Megan who thinks Bia has a better chair than she does.

Living the good life!

Back on the golf course, Scott’s teeing off.

Cora made the green on this par 3.

Sometimes golf isn’t always what happens on the golf course.  

Jerri preparing dinner.

Allan cooking some pretty good steaks.  We all enjoyed dinner a lot that night.

Allan wasn’t able to get reservations for the entire week at the same site.  We began our week with no hookups (which means no showers and why we had a pool pass to get to use the showers and why we were not happy with the dirty showers)  He moved our camp three times and set up everything just right.

I visited the Visitor’s Center that has some good displays on why Death Valley is like it is and why people originally came there.

We have visited the Wonder mine in DV as well as most of the other sites.  The gold, borax and talc mines are amazing to me when I think of the hardships the miners and their animals had to endure.

Jerri, Allan and I visited the Furnace Creek Inn at dusk one evening.  It’s always fun to go there to watch the sunset even if it’s not very colorful.

Sunset looking toward Badwater from the Furnace Creek Inn.

One more pose from Jason, the golf stud of our threesome (although, Scott and I each had some good shots and even made some pars).

It was raining the morning we left.  Max doesn’t look very happy.  Death Valley had more rain in February than we did in Northern Nevada… a sad state of affairs.

I was the first to leave and almost literally ran into a herd of 7 feral burros in Beatty.  This was a mama and youngin’.

The little one walked across the highway and poked his nose into my car. I couldn’t get the camera focused fast enough to get that shot. He walked away when I didn’t give him any food.

Death Valley is always fun and a great get away to disconnect somewhat.  It’s ALWAYS great to be with family and enjoy each other.

Carson Valley After the Storm January 17, 2020

19 Jan

The day dawned as a very pretty one, albeit somewhat chilly.  I thought it would be good to get out and see if I could spot any eagles or anything else that would be fun to watch.  So, after doing some errands, I hopped back in the car to check out some of my favorite sites in the Carson Valley.  (Don’t forget to click on an image if you want more detail)

Just a few miles from home, I spotted a bald eagle in a tree near a cow pasture.  The cows are having their babies now (even in bitter cold) and the eagles come to feast on the afterbirth.  That sounds gross, but nature takes care of many things.  The picture is poor because I had to crop it so much.  But, trust me, it is an eagle.

Apparently, I got to close for comfort and he took off. Another poor photo, but I was lucky to get him at all.

If you look in the center of the picture, he’s still in flight against the snowy Carson Range.  You can see those white tail feathers.

My next stop was downtown Genoa (Nevada’s oldest settlement) in search of the many deer who live in the area.  The only one I found were resting in someone’s yard.  I found it amusing that they were very calm while on the other side of the person’s house, the owner was using a snow blower to clear his driveway.  Clearly, the deer didn’t care.

A panorama of Carson Valley from above Genoa.  Notice the contrails in the sky.  Seeing them in the sky always make me think of my mom.  She was pretty blind with macular degeneration, but somehow, she could see them.

An early Genoa mover and shaker was Lillian Virgin Finnegan.  When she decided Genoa needed some street lights, she organized the Candy Dance (a dance and midnight super featuring her candy) to raise money for the town.  This is still an annual event a century later.  AND the town of Genoa still uses that money to help run the town’s affairs.  Her signature candy was fudge, but here she might be serving divinity or white chocolate fudge.

From Genoa, I went over to the Dangberg Ranch, an historic ranch where I volunteer during the summer.  H.F. Dangberg was one of the first pioneers in the Valley who had huge holdings and founded the town of Minden. if you’re interested in learning more about H.F. and the ranch.
You have to traverse a long dirt road through a pasture to get to the Dangberg Home Ranch and along the way you might be greeted by an attentive bossy.

A juvenile eagle was in a Dangberg cottonwood.

I think everyone in Carson Valley who fancies themselves any kind of a photographer has taken many pictures of Job’s Peak, one of the highest peaks seen from the valley at 10,633’.  Note another contrail.

I turned around and took this picture of the barn and a slaughter house built in 1918.  To the left is some equipment that was used to during the time the Dangberg was a working ranch.

The Dangberg Ranch house began as a small cabin and evolved into this house as H.F. Dangberg married and had a family.  I love being out here, especially at dusk, imagining what is was like when Mrs. Dangberg looked out and saw this view of the mountains.  I wonder if she ever had the time to stand and contemplate the wonder of it all.


One little side note about Margaret Gale Ferris Dangberg.  She was 16 when she married 35 year old Heinrich Friedrich (Fred) Dangberg.  She was the sister of George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. who invented the Ferris Wheel first put on display in Chicago in 1893.

You’re probably getting tired of how much I love this and that in the Carson Valley.   But I find it has so much to offer along with its varying beauty.  It has captivated me.



Our First Good Winter Storm – January 16, 2020

16 Jan
It blew hard last night and reminded me a bit of the Santa Ana winds in So Cal with its gustiness and energy, but this was very COLD and the harbinger of the storm to come.  The wind continued into early afternoon, sometimes gusting to 66 mph (as registered on my wind monitor, which hasn’t blown away yet).  All of a sudden, I looked up from reading the paper and could see small flakes of snow flitting around and could also see my barbecue had left its station and traveled over to the brink of my sunken fire pit.  By the time I could get outside to secure it in proper fashion, huge snowflakes were swirling around me.  The wind soon abated and a steady snowfall began.  I’ve been relishing the snow ever since.
To those of you who live in snow country, this is probably not a big deal and perhaps you might even dread it.  But since I know I’m not going to be dealing with 10′ drifts and probably won’t be snowed in, I love to watch and enjoy the serenity and beauty of the storm.   (Just like my dad did years ago) However, I might have to forego the gym tomorrow morning to shovel off the driveway.  The lecture I was going to attend tonight has been canceled, so I’m set for the evening.

My quail, goldfinches and other avian fans of the Johnson Buffet brave the elements to dine.  The blurry spots are melted snowflakes on the window (panes are warmer than the snow)

I love how the snow stacks up on tree limbs as if to add an elegant coat of ermine to embrace each limb and twig

Me?  While enjoying the view, I’m also enjoying my pellet stove that is emitting comfy, delectable warmth.  Elliot, the dragon on top, is filled with water and will get hot enough to spew out steam to help the humidity in the room.  Pellet stoves can be dehydrating.

This is another reason why I love being here.  So many different aspects to the weather that add to the splendor (some would just call it desert views) and variety of this area.  You can’t stop the storm so why not sit back and delight in what nature offers you?


Sister Trip 10 – The Upstate New York Adventure September, 2019

30 Sep

We still love Nevada dearly but we surely did enjoy our sister trip to upstate New York. This is the NY Capitol in Albany from the Gov. Nelson Rockefeller Empire State Plaza. More about this later. Please click on an image to enlarge it.

We began our adventure in Buffalo.  We shuffled our way to the observation deck of the Buffalo City Hall for an extraordinary bird’s eye view of the city, Lake Erie, Niagara River and a small portion of Canada.  As we walked around the deck, we got a good sense of Buffalo’s layout.

Lobby of the majestic 1931 Art Deco city hall

We visited the Buffalo History Museum that is the only building from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition still standing.  It’s a beautiful, well done museum with many exhibits about the city’s past.

Our next stop was the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military park. One of the three ships we toured was the U.S.S. The Sullivans named after the five brothers killed on a ship during WWII.

Our last tour of the day was at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.  He was inaugurated at the house of Ansley Wilcox, a friend of his after President McKinley was assassinated at the Pan-American Exposition.  The tour was interactive and was fun. Jerri is at his Presidential desk.

The next day saw us heading up to Niagara Falls.  Wow!  We spent a good part of the day at this magical place…on both the U.S. and Canadian sides.  I say it’s magical because we even had our picture taken with fireworks.

This is the Maid of the Mist boat taking tourists into the awesome mist and splash of the Horseshoe Falls near where the first commercial hydroelectric plant was.

Then, you know us. We have to get into some mischief. It wouldn’t be a sister trip if we didn’t.

Built in 1829, the Biddle staircase allowed visitors access to the gorge.  Luckily it’s not there now or we might have had to try it. (P.S. In case you didn’t know, Jerri’s last name is Biddle)

Seagull on the brink

Our next stop was Lockport where we took a short cruise on the Erie Canal. We went into the space on the left, went through another lock above this one and were “locked up” (raised) 50 feet by this method.

Filling the lock. It took maybe 5 minutes to lift us up to the next lock

Lake Erie is 570’ higher than the Hudson River.  Eighty-three locks were originally used to lift the boats up and down the canal.  Today, with reconstruction, 57 are used.

Our next adventure in Lockport involved exploring a 2100+ foot water tunnel blasted out of solid rock.  The tunnel was the invention of Birdsill Holly (who also invented the fire hydrant).  His Hydraulic Race Company provided water power to three industries in Lockport. Ironically, Holly’s nearby factory burned down. Guess there weren’t enough fire hydrants yet.

Entering the tunnel. sorry about the picture quality. We had enough light to see, but it was still pretty dim.

This photo allows you to see how big the tunnel is.  At one time, water gushed through here at 45 mph.

The rock is quite porous that allows rainwater to enter the tunnel.  We actually rode a boat for a distance in the tunnel.  It was quite exciting.  One of the fun stories about tunnel is that there is quite a bit of gypsum in it.  Miners’ wives would gather up some of it and then sell it as petrified Niagara Falls mist to naïve tourists.

Our treat for walking those many steps and finishing the tour was to visit the Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream store.  We read about this place in Buffalo and determined that we had to samples its wares.  It exceeded all our expectations.  No, Jerri didn’t eat both of those cones.

The next day were drove to Palmyra, NY and passed through a lot of farm country.  Lots of silage and what looked like a type of bean plant.  I loved how the fields mesh with the surrounding woods.

We got an idea of how much work it was to clear those forests/woods when we visited the early home of Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It took his family 12 years to transform their 100 acres of forest into a successful farm.  This is looking out the back door of their cabin to part of the farm and the Sacred Grove.

We stayed the night in Schenectady and ate at Johnny’s, an Italian place. You can rest assured that peach gelato cheesecake didn’t last long.

This mosaic is on the floor of the Franklin D. Roosevelt home and presidential library visitor center.

Our one rainy day made for a dim picture in front of FDR’s home.  The 1826 house remains almost exactly as it was at the time of Roosevelt’s death.

I liked FDR & ER’s wedding pictures.  The library was filled with many interactive activities as well as photos, political cartoons, and artifacts.

Jerri’s getting ready to give her inauguration speech.

Just two miles north of FDR’s home was the 1898 Vanderbilt Mansion.  It is truly a tribute to the Gilded Age with its 50 rooms, tapestries and original French and Italian furnishings.  It was used primarily as a spring and fall country estate.

Dasson annular clock in the huge entry room

Staircase railings had velvet covers that you can still see and feel.

The Hudson River Valley saw many Revolutionary War battles and Washington soon realized West Point was a very strategic place on the river.  Fortifications were constructed in 1778 and Jefferson signed legislation establishing the U.S. Military Academy on the site in 1802.  West Point is the oldest continuously occupied military post in the United States.

The West Point Museum where we spent hours here after our official tour.

West Point parade ground with dorms behind it and the main chapel is on the hill in the background.  We were told approximately 4400 cadets are fed in the mess hall in about 20 minutes.  Amazing!

West Point is strategic because it sits above the narrow part of the Hudson River.  If you click on this photo, you will see a line stretching across the narrowest part.  That was a huge chain across the river to prevent the British from sailing up and down the river to transport troops and supplies

Some of the surviving links on display at West Point.  Each link weighed more than 100 pounds. The links were attached to sharpened logs that were floated down the river.  What a tough job that must have been in that day and age.

We arrived in Albany, the capital, on a Monday and found the big, primary museum and several other attractions were closed on Mondays.  Bummer. But we always make the best of a situation.  We first went to the 44 story Corning Tower to get a birds’ eye view of the city. (Erastus Corning was Albany’s longest serving mayor).

Aerial view of the Governor’s Mansion

Click on the photo and you’ll be able to read a bit of early history of Albany.

The NY capitol is huge!  Construction began in 1871 and finally ended in 1899 when T. Roosevelt declared it finished.  5 different architects with different ideas caused it to have several different architectural styles.

The Capitol is beautiful but the stairs reminded me of M.C. Escher’s stairs pictures.  We were so glad to have a tour guide as we would have been lost in the first two minutes.

More Escher-like stairs

Non-functional fireplaces in the Senate allow Senators to step into the good-sized recess for private conversations.

We decided to go to Lake George in the Adirondacks.  What a gorgeous, relaxing place!

Testing the lake water

Fort Ticonderoga and Lake Champlain.  Vermont and its Green Mountains are in the background.

Fort Ticonderoga was originally established by the French to control the narrow shipping point on Lake Champlain.  The British took it over in 1759 and then Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys took it over in 1775.

The cannons were taken to Boston by Col. Henry Knox where they were used to persuade the British to evacuate the city in 1777.

We took a cruise from Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain and then went back to the little town of Ticonderoga where we found this little covered bridge.

We were just a couple of weeks ahead of the magnificent fall colors.  But Jerri managed to find a hint of what is to come.

We were jumping for joy that we were able to see a part of the Adirondacks and enjoy a few days there.

We visited the New York State Museum in Albany on our last day in New York.  What a treasure this museum is with its focus on the Adirondacks, the New York City metropolis, and the state’s Native Americans.  History, art, science and technology also have participatory activities.  We enjoyed each and every display.

Inside a full size Iroquois longhouse.

Hangin’ in the A Train

There is an impressive 911 display.  That part made us sad.

A free ride on an antique carousel was uplifting!  We were told it took $3 million and several years to restore it and then rebuild it on the museum’s top floor.

Our New York trip amused and enriched us and it exceeded all of our expectations.  The people were delightful and we had fun chatting with them.  We have many more stories and trivia to tell you but this saga has gone on long enough.





Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

Scott’s signature pose