Colorado College Summer Music Festival and other activities – June 2019

29 Jun

For years, Connie has been raving about the annual music festival and how fantastic and creative the faculty and students are. “You’d love it! You need to come out to see it.” I thought she might be exaggerating a tad, but I decided to join her for a week of the three-week festival. We talked to our other buddy, Shirley Porter, (We were cohorts at Fremont Junior High, our first school in Anaheim) and she joined us for the last week of the festival. Connie was NOT exaggerating. It was stimulating, intense, exciting and a bit exhausting. In four days, we attended seven concerts, counting one pre-concert lecture

The “Colorado College Summer Music Festival is dedicated to educating pre-professional musicians, uniting the foremost classical and contemporary faculty and fellows to provide a vibrant concert series developing an inclusive community around chamber music.” (SMF program). It is a well-structured program and I cannot imagine all the hours the students learned, practiced, and rehearsed to present such wonderful concerts.

Getting to Colorado Springs was a bit of a chore for both Shirley and me. I was supposed to have a layover in Denver before flying to Colorado Springs, but the weather shut down Denver and after circling for a while, we had to land in Colorado Springs to refill the fuel tanks. They weren’t going to let me off the plane (along with 9 other people) but then relented when they realized there was no sure eta back to Denver. Shirley’s issues involved heavy rain and poor visibility coming over the Divide from Grand Junction. We were both fatigued before we even got to the fun part of the adventure.

Before Shirley arrived, Connie and
I hiked in the Garden of the Gods, a beautiful, spiritual area near her house.

The twins between the Siamese Twins.

Due to a wet spring, there were many wild flowers out in the area.

A young yucca getting started in the Garden of the Gods.

Goat’s Beard

Pinyon pine blossoms/pine cones

Many people throughout the ages have had their picture taken by the Balanced Rock in the Garden of the Gods.

The Symphony Babes – Connie’s dear friend, Marti, joined us for the concerts. What a delight she is. 91 years young and sharp as a tack. She helped me to learn more about the ins and outs of the music we heard and saw performed.

We also attended the “Music at Midday,” lunchtime concerts each day we were in Colorado Springs.

Many different orchestral instruments were featured that had rich texture and created different moods.

An after concert luncheon. Marti, Connie, Cora, Shirley, Mark

Between concerts, we zoomed around Colorado Springs to see several sights. One was the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Such fun there!

The peacocks love to get up in trees and make their harsh calls.

Meerkats are one of my faves.

I could watch them for hours as they could us, I suppose.

Shirley and her giraffe

They love to get up close and personal

Connie doesn’t care where she takes a nap.

Porcupine taking a stroll

it’s easy to get pictures of a sloth.

The sloth crawled into his hammock and now all you can see are two toenails.

A wallaby

“You can see clear to Kansas!” from the Zoo Tram.

We had never seen blue spruce cones so blue and growing upright rather than hanging down

We celebrated Connie’s birthday at the Taverne Restaurant at the Broadmoor. An excellent dinner!

The fire brigade

The shoes discussion

Show off

Laughter in the twilight

We also visited the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum.
I wish we could have spent more time there as it had lots of history that I would have liked to explore.

Entering a very old Otis elevator

At one time, the museum was a courthouse. Shirley is in a restored courtroom.

We also found time to hike on some of Richard’s trails that he built in the first decade of the 21st century.


Shirley on the trail

Connie took us to the bench she had made in memory of her husband, Richard.

Where’s a tripod when you need one?

Goddesses on the bench

Shirley and Cora on the trail

Petite Symphonie in B-flat Major, an opus during the last concert we attended.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the music and the performers were amazing and epic. I found the performances to be so superlative that I cannot think of enough adjectives to describe my feelings. Suffice to say that I would like to go back next year to learn more and enjoy more of these performances.

The performances were but a part of Shirley, Connie’s and my time together. It was a continuation of a great friendship formed so many years ago at Fremont Junior High. It was fun to meet new friends like Marti and Mark who also enrich our lives. Life is good and it is great to have friends like these folks.

Prime Time at the Jacobs Family Berry Farm May, 2019

20 May

What a grand time this was, even if the weather didn’t fully cooperate. The point was to gather in friendship…to share, discuss, laugh and, most of all, enjoy and celebrate each other’s company. This rare and treasured friendship has lasted more than 60 years for some of us and at least 57 for the entire group. (How did that happen? Wasn’t high school just a few years ago?) It is difficult for me to express in eloquent words what this friendship means to me, but I know that if I needed help in some sort of way, I could call upon each and every one of these folks and they would come to my aid. How could anyone ask for more?

Susan arriving (Don’t forget to click on the image to enlarge it)

Mike, Dot, Bill

Most of us arrived on Tuesday. We began to set up shop with wine and treats. Lynda made her world famous pizza for our first dinner.

Even though there was a breeze, it was warm enough to eat outside on the deck.

I forgot to mention that this gathering included the spouses. It’s so cool that they also enjoy each other’s company. We were missing a few of our group and we hope they will all be able to attend the next time we gather.

The house with the mother lilacs that have helped create other lilacs around the farm.

The barn with the swing in front.

Diana explains house the barn was built and what it’s used for today.

Checking out the bunkhouse

The Eleanor – a nice privy for field workers across the US.*

Susan loved the berries and the views of the mountains in the background

Iris abound at the Farm. They are incredible and so beautiful!

I gave a tour of the Nevada State Capitol. Here we are in the old Assembly Room. We even got a glimpse of Governor Sisolak announcing he’d signed a bill to NOT exclude pre-existing conditions for health insurance.

Susan volunteered to make gorditas for brunch the next morning. This is the assembly line to begin the prep work.

La Patrona with the gordita prep.

Dinner for the second night

Second night overflow

Sadly, Elizabeth had to leave the next morning. She had to miss eating those delicious gorditas with fun condiments like salsa, bacon, beans, chorizo, eggs and other things with which we stuffed ourselves.  Lynda had to go home later that day due to obligations at home.

Later, we zoomed up to Markleeville and a ways past to Grover Hot Springs California State Park to take a hike to some waterfalls.

The mountains just above us.

The calm creek flowing perhaps to a meadow in the park or to the raging creek that you’ll see later.

We saw 7 snow plants. It has no chlorophyll; it derives nutrition from fungi underneath the soil, and for this reason, the plant is called “mycotrophic”. These fungi are the mycorrhizae (“fungus-roots”) of conifers. They are edible but are protected.

Bill and Jack improved several of our fording places to stabilize them.

The calm creek became deeper and we had to ford it with the help of many people. It was too cold to run around with wet feet. That is, except Mike, who rolled up her pants and waded across one time. The rest of us were chicken.

Mike and Jack at a rest stop.

Getting ready for the shot

You can tell it was cold. We’d been walking through some light snow and a cold wind for some time.

Alan. You might be able to see some snow on his jacket.

Bill. He slipped on the way down the rocks and tore a tendon in his shoulder. OWWWW!

Jack, the third of our intrepid warriors. He also slipped on the way down and bonked his head. But he seemed to be ok.

Bolander’s Monkey Flowers? I’m not sure but I thought they were pretty growing out of the cracks in the granite.

It was snowing to beat the band up there…the last barrier to get to the big waterfall. It was quite a rocky path to get there and I opted out quickly. So did the guys. This raging creek is a tributary to the Carson River

The waterfall we did see.

Susan seems to be saying, “What the heck is that?” We stopped in Markleeville at a deli to have some ice cream and/or hot chocolate/coffee.

Saying adieu

Lucy will miss some of the pets and love she got while we were there.

It seems as though these gatherings end too soon and we never get to talk about as many things as we wish. Part of the issue is that many of us need to go to bed early and don’t stay up all night like we used to. But it was still a lot of fun. I’m so glad that we’re still able to do this and enjoy every minute.

For more information about the Farm:

Outdoor Nevada (PBS) also has a video you can see about the Farm:

For information about The Eleanor:



Prime Time @ Murrieta November 13-16, 2018

23 Nov

The Orange High Panther crew met at Dot’s house for a second time. Some of us flew and others drove to Murrieta. This is Diana and Trish on the airport bus.

A side note here:  Some of the photos are cell phone shots and don’t always enlarge, for some reason.  Likewise, some of the photos are a bit blurry, maybe even ethereal, but I thought they added character to this epistle.  Most of the photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Dot, our gracious hostess, and Rocky met us at the door.

Lexi was there, too.

It wasn’t long before we were settled in the living room, testing a glass of wine or two and chatting like we saw each other yesterday.

You’ll notice Rocky in several pictures. He is very social and loves to have someone hold his bone while he gnaws on it.

Our first dinner of delicious pasta, homemade bread, salad and brownies. Dot’s an excellent cook!

Mike prepared a delicious bath of waffles for our first breakfast.

Chatting before breakfast.

We went out the next morning to look around downtown Temecula and do a bit of shopping.

Shoo is exploring one the many shops we visited. This shop has quite an array of goods, both practical and impractical.

After all that shopping, we felt it was important to be nourished in a healthy; grand style at Soro’s, a Mediterranean grill. That was an adventure also because there was some construction going just outside of where we were sitting. It was tough to hear conversation once in a while.

It’s time to take off the shoes and relax. It’s hard work shopping and having lunch!

Hard to believe, but we needed more snacks and a tad of wine. Trader Joe’s was our shop of choice.

Time for more conversation & vittles.

Dot is an accomplished quilter who has several of her quilts on display in the house. This one was inspired by a display at the Mission San Miguel, just north of Paso Robles. She and I visited the mission one year while on our way to Pajaro where we had some fine adventures during Prime Time.

Susan won the long distance trip, coming from Virginia.

Our house gift to Dot was a set of Thanksgiving placemats…enough (we hope) to have a place for each member of her visiting family for the holiday. Thanks to you, Dot, for all your preparation and work to get ready for us. You are the hostess with the mostess!

The Crew just before Shoo had to leave. We were minus Mike who had to leave prior to the photo. We missed her as well as those who were not able to be with us.

Our time in Murrieta was filled with lots of chatting, opinions, discussions and laughter (I won’t mention the funniest moment…at least in my opinion). The visit came to an end much too soon, but we’re all busy folks who have many obligations. It is such a privilege to be with these ladies who have meant so much to me for, lo, these many years. They have taught me so much and contributed to my life and helped make me who I am.  I continue to learn from you and hope to for many years to come.  Thanks you all for being who you are. I love you all!

Welcome to Colorado! Oct. 29 – Nov 1, 2018

5 Nov

Jolee, Jerri and I flew to Denver/Aurora to visit with our Uncle Bev and his wife Nancy. Boy! Did we ever feel welcome! Food, entertainment, visiting, lots of laughter, seeing sights and generally having a great time with them.  (Please remember to click on a photo to enlarge it)

We loved being with you both!

We drove out to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, a 15,000 -acre expanse of short and mixed grass prairie located northeast of Denver. More than 300 species of wildlife live there. This is the closest I got to a bison. We did see some, though.

This prairie dog greeted us as we drove by him. You can see how he blends into the background and how we had hard time seeing them in the camera viewfinder.

Black-footed ferrets are supposed to help keep the prairie dogs under control, but I think they have fallen down on the job.

We drove around a designated road and were able to get out to walk up Rattlesnake Hill. Jerri is using the telescope to espy a distant herd of bison.  Check out how flat the prairie is in the background.  It goes on for miles!

We headed out the next morning to try to see some fossilized Sequoia tree stumps with a stop off at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

The Visitors’ Center has wonderful photo opportunities depicting past and present critters with whom to pose. We don’t look too scared do we?

We had a lot of fun at the Center and by the time we got out to drive through the Garden of the Gods, it had begun to snow a bit.

The Garden features a massive 700-ton balanced rock that Jerri and Jolee supported very well! It was snowing more heavily when we headed up into the higher elevations to see the Sequoias, so we elected to turn around and have lunch in Manitou, a cute little city with springs and any cute shops.

It snowed a bit in Aurora that night and was our view the next morning. The snow was a light dusting and had partially disappeared by the time we began the day.

Uncle Bev had hurt his hip and needed to see a doctor about his pain. With their urging, Jolee, Jerri and I went to the History of Colorado Center while they went to the doctor. We felt guilty leaving them to do the doctor’s appointment.

They had a fun exhibit on baseball and we each had our picture taken for a baseball card.

We had so much fun with this that the security man was laughing with us.


Zoom In was my favorite exhibit depicting 100 artifacts of Colorado history from beginning to present.

This 35 star flag because it was carried in 1862 by the 1st Regiment of Colorado Volunteers. It is displayed in a backward manner because to remove the backing would have destroyed the remaining fragments of the remaining fabric. The flag was torn by Confederate grapeshot during a battle at Glorietta Pass. Nevada became a state in 1864. Thus, giving the U.S. flag 36 stars.

Peach crates from Mesa County where farmers began developing irrigation systems and successfully growing peaches around the town of Palisade and the Redlands of Grand Junction in the 1880s. They have and continue to win prizes at state and national fairs.

Mining is a part of Colorado’s history and the Center has a mine with several displays. One of them is interactive that allows you to set explosives in a certain pattern to blow up a certain area. Click on this picture to see how Jolee and Jerri did.

Jerri and Jolee in an old car crossing the prairie.

While sitting in the car, we watched a movie that showed us that these cars could go just about anyplace!

Click on the picture to see what this little house is and what an oldtimer had to say about it.

The Center even has a cow where you can learn to milk it. Jolee was the fastest and got her pail to light up first.

The Bear Trap

There is never a dull moment on our trips.

Those who watch pro football might remember the Denver guy who wore a barrel to the Broncos’ games. We learned that apparently he didn’t wear much under that barrel…even in the winter!

Colorado’s Capitol is just a block or so from the History Center.

The engraving on the step shows that Denver is really the mile high city!

The next morning a stag with his does (a harem?) were in the same area where the snow picture was. Uncle Bev and Nancy told us they have seen does give birth in the same area.

What a great time we had with Uncle Bev and Nancy. We are happy to report that his hip was some sort of muscular problem with no hint of a fracture. That might be why he’s smiling but it’s probably because of those babes around him. 🙂

Thank you, Uncle Bev and Nancy, for having us to your house and putting up with our shenanigans. You two are so gracious and loving. It’s no wonder that you are loved by so many, especially your nieces!

P.S.  Many thanks to RDS for help with some of the photos.

Aloha, Maui September 2018 Sister Trip 9

18 Oct

This adventure was a first for Jerri and me. You say, what? You went to Maui last year. We did and this is the first time we’ve ever repeated a destination. We stayed in the same condo as last year and visited some of the same places as well as several new sights. This is what it looked like the day we arrived…bright and sunny with clouds off in the distance over Molokai. (photo credit to RD Schmidt). It was very hot and humid unlike the more perfect weather we had last year.

*Please remember to click on a picture if you wish to enlarge it to see more detail

Our first dinner was at Leilani’s at Kananapali Beach. We were delighted they honored a coupon that Bob and I received some 40 years ago and, thus, received a free Hula Pie. Jerri is ready to dig in!

Our first sunset was gorgeous and we took this picture from our condo’s lanai.

We went snorkeling the next morning and were a bit disappointed as the water was murky making it difficult to find our quarry. But we did see one green back turtle (honu) and several varieties of fish.

We had to return to Kahului that afternoon and decided to visit Ho’okipa Beach. It’s a superb place to see turtles from the shore as well as be able to watch wind surfers.

We tried snorkeling at Oneloa Beach and found it to be much more fun than the day before.

The big treat was to espy a honu. Jerri was the best as spotting them. She has a sixth sense about where to find them.

That evening, Jerri said she thought it felt like rain and I thought it was just the humidity. But it was an omen. Clouds did begin to form and we saw another superb sunset.

A bit later, we could see rain in distant clouds.

Jerri was right. We were awakened that night to rain blowing in our bedroom window. This was our view the next morning. Quite a difference from the first day’s view

It rained and rained with a lot of thunder. I’ve never heard thunder that rumbled as loudly and as long as that did. I could feel it affect my insides a couple of times. I was glad we had a roof over our heads. This peaceful guy was a visitor during the storm.

Eventually, we saw a rainbow (after all, Hawaii is the Rainbow State!) and the day improved from that point on at least in our area. We found out that the main road to Kahului was closed due to flooding.

We went back to Oneloa Beach in hopes to snorkel but neglected to think about the possibility of the surf being up because of the storm. It was too rough to snorkel so we tried boogie boarding and that didn’t work. Body surfing was also unsuccessful. There were too many currents and rocks to worry about. It might not look rough but it was.

So we sat on the beach and read a bit. It’s a pleasant beach without hoards of people.

A boardwalk above Oneloa Beach is surrounded by some ultra green plants that houses many geckos and large garden spiders. I just wanted to show you two great pictures that Jerri took.

This shot shows a very successful spider that is just biding his time to go get that little green fly/bug in the upper left corner.

We took a ride through Kihei and Wailea to the end of the road at La Pérouse Bay. You can see it was still cloudy on this day. We had hoped to see a pod of dolphins that lives in the area. You can see it’s still a bit cloudy over the ocean.

We didn’t see dolphins but we did see a lot of chunky lava. It’s called a’a lava because it cools quickly and moves fast so that it tears into clunky pieces. It would hurt to fall down in it. Luckily, neither one of us knows this from experience. That is a cinder cone in the distance.

From there, we went to the treat of the day…Mama’s Fish House, the place that all tour books say is ONO (the best). The daily menu always gives credit to the fisherman who caught the fish and where it was caught. It’s amazing! You can tell we’re happy to be here! Mama’s beach is in the background.

We were so hungry and excited to eat our entrees that we forgot to take a picture of them. BUT here is a picture of our dessert…the Black Pearl. It’s as good as it looks!

Our next jaunt was the trek up to Haleakala. It’s a deceiving drive as you think the entire is shrouded with clouds, but you drive through them and voila! You’re in a clear area.

Earlier, I was complaining about it being so hot and here we have donned windbreakers. It’s because the summit is over 10,000’ and it’s quite a bit cooler than the 85-90º we were used to. Here you can see into the crater. There are hiking trails into the crater and out the other side to Kipahulu.

The sign shows where we are in this picture. If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see Lahaina, a town a bit south of where we were staying. It’s a long jaunt up the volcano. A few days later, we drove completely around the large part of Maui while seeing the road to Hana.

This tells the Haleakala story much better than I could.

Halakala is home to a host of living things that arrived and thrived, against all odds, in the most isolated islands on the planet. Today, Haleakala protects the last or only home for plants and animals found nowhere else on earth. The silver, round, spiky plant in the background is a growing silver sword. It will grow a tall blooming spike and then die. The spike beside Cora has run its course.

A sword plant in bloom. They grow only on Haleakala.

Sneaky clouds coming into the crater

Ferns are often the first to grow in volcanic areas. I find that amazing!

The road to Hana is quite often narrow, one lane and sometimes down right scary. Tourist lit. says it has over 600 turns. I don’t know that for a fact, but the road is NEVER straight!

Waves on the Ke’anae Peninsula.

Taro fields on the Ke’anae Peninsula. We got some good banana bread and sandwiches at Auntie Sandy’s. No taro though.

The road to Hana is famous for many waterfalls. Guidebooks have waterfall alerts!

Wai’anapanapa Black Sand State Beach

‘Alau Island. If you enlarge this, you might be able to see coconut trees on the peak of the island. Local boys are said to have swum out to the island and planted them.

Us at the mouth of the ‘Ohe’o Gulch

Highway bridge over one of the falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch (aka Seven Sacred Pools that are not really sacred)

We drove all the way around past Hana to get back to near Kahului with the intention of stopping at Charles Lindbergh’s grave. By the time I realized I’d missed the turn, we were too far past it. Jerri took this nice picture of the backside of Halakala. Just a few days earlier we’d been above those clouds.

Pokowai Sea Arch

Built in 1862, St. Joseph’s Church is in a remote and sparely populated Kaupa. Services are held only if there is a fifth Sunday in a month.

I’ve mentioned geckos and thought you might like to see one. This little guy somehow got on the hood of a car in Lahaina. The ladies inside the car were quite indignant that I was taking pictures of their car.

We finally got a good snorkeling day and got to see some fun critters. We saw honu both swimming and settled in the coral.

A trumpet fish

Some jacks (ulua) with what I believe is a variety of black tang. The snorkeling was fun but as we were resting on the beach, people just kept coming and coming and pretty soon we were just inches from the people who surrounded us. The beach wasn’t like that last year.

We had an excellent dinner for our last night in Maui. As we left the restaurant, we saw this egret that Jerri named George. He was walking along a row of plants and every so often would sort of wave his neck in a sort of hypnotizing manner. We found out he was hunting for lizards (probably geckos).

The surf was up during our last day, so it was probably a good thing the trip was at an end. There was no way we could have snorkeled that day anyway.

I didn’t mention that one day Jerri put her driver’s license in my backpack one day when she was driving. We couldn’t find it when we got back to our room. Yes, it was an awful feeling. We searched everywhere and retraced out steps several times. She was able to get on the plane using her Costco card (has a photo) and a couple credit cards plus a thorough pat down and scanning. Twice she had to do that. It was during a wait at the Oakland airport, I was rummaging around in my backpack and found her license. It seems a camera folded over part of a partition in the backpack and covered it up. Yes, we both searched the backpack several times and I thought I had emptied it. I’m so sorry that she had to endure the thorough searches at the airports, but at least she didn’t have to sit at our DMV all day waiting to get a new license. We are both grateful for that. All’s well that ends well, I guess.

Jerri and I are always excited to go on our sister trip and this time we might have anticipated it a bit too much. We dreamed about swimming almost every day with the honu and its fellow creatures of the deep. Perhaps we dreamed too much and were a bit disappointed in the weather and the relatively poor snorkeling. Another factor was the seemingly large increase in people and traffic since just a year ago. We did get to see new sights, experience new things and meet some fun people with Aloha spirit, so the trip was fun and the food was great! We’ve decided, though, that we’ll not repeat an adventure again as that might bring bad ju ju. With that in mind, we bid aloha to Maui.  We are very thankful, however, that we are able to travel and enjoy each other’s company.



September 14, 2018 A day filled with visual treats

15 Sep

The day began with a normal trip to the gym to work out to do my regular cardio and stretching routine and josh with fellow gym advocates. Dawn was approaching as I wended my way home on Hwy. 395 and I could tell that it might be a nice sunrise.

This is what I saw as I was putting out seed and fresh water for my birds and the other critters that wander into my yard. (Don’t forget to click on the image to enlarge it)

I especially like this one taken a few minutes later because it reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of lava streams going downhill on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Later that day the wind was blowing at a good clip when I went to get my mail and these are the scenes I saw of some big lenticular clouds.

Usually these clouds remind me of humongous UFOs or the USS Enterprise from Star Trek, but these were a bit different.

The funniest visual treat that afternoon was when Sid Squirrel came to visit the feeding station. He is named Sid because my good buddy, Shirley Porter in Grand Junction, knew a guy who was actually named Sid Squirrel. This Sid is a regular ground squirrel who frequents my property (along with his buddies and family). They are not my favorite because they are food hogs and eat way more than their share whereas the smaller squirrels and the birds eat a normal amount of their treats.

So here is Sid below the actual feeder feasting on a peach that had fallen from my peach tree (way too wormy for me to eat). (Yes, the pole leans like that because I didn’t get it into the ground very straight and the wind is also a factor in that slant)

I watched him look up to see the actual bird feeder and then shinny up the pole like he is a cross-fit advocate. Here he is stretched from the pole to the feeder. Sid is quite an acrobat!

Then Sid jumped to the actual feeder to begin stuffing himself. His cheeks looked like he had a terrible case of mumps. I told Sid in explicit terms that he knows he’s not supposed to be there and with that, he jumped back to the pole, slid down it like a fireman and ran off to the sagebrush in back of my fence.

I know I enable Sid and his cohorts with the buffet I put out for the “birds” and that I sort of ask for them to be invaders. But the entertainment factor far outweighs the bad parts. I wish you could see the male quail chest bumping chests and sparring with each other. One evening I was watching about 10 of the quail eating and scratching around a 12 pound seed block when all of a sudden several of the males began chasing each other back and forth like Keystone Kops in a classic chase scene. A cottontail rabbit was also with the birds at the block and finally he climbed up on the seed block and watched them. I could see his head moving from side to side as these quail put on quite a show. Sometimes I just laugh out loud at the antics of my critters.

There are many visual treats available here in the Carson Valley and even in my back yard…one just has to be patient and watch for them.

Adventure around the Corner – Never a Dull Moment

20 Jun

This morning I was doing some computer work and kept hearing weird noises…like a loud flame thrower or maybe a low hot air balloon. They drift over us frequently in our hot valley. Curiosity got the best of me and I went outside to investigate. Yup. There was a balloon very close to my house…in fact it had just landed on the cul de sac one block over from me.

One of guys hollered at me to come on over and take more pictures. What he really wanted was some help to dismantle the thing and pack it away.  Zoe, the owner, is turning on the gas to give a spectacular background.

Hot air balloons are huge up close and personal. This is a view looking up into the interior before it’s deflated.

The beginning of the deflation process. The gondola (basket) was tipped on its side at this point.

It’s been deflated and some of the neighbors, the crew and I were gathering it together.

I’m using a velcro strap to help bundle it together.

That huge balloon is now stuffed inside  into that blue bag.

Learning about the buns-in process.

This is buns-in. We all turned around and sat down on the big bag to help take the air out of the bag to make it more manageable. You can tell that was a fun part.

The neighbors and I went home after the buns-in part and Zoe was left to have her crew help her with the gondola.

This just goes to show you that sometimes adventure and new experiences are literally around the corner.  You just have to listen, look and jump at opportunities.







A Journey through Time – Grand Canyon Rafting Trip May, 2018

5 Jun

In 2011, my niece, Jolee, went with me on a rafting trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. That trip has wonderful memories. So I was thrilled when she and her husband, Jason, asked me if I would like to go with them on another Grand Canyon rafting trip to celebrate their 40th birthdays. Jason’s sister, Kristi, and her husband, Mark, were on board to take the trip also. Please double click if you wish to enlarge a photo.

Jolee booked us for an eight-day trip that was primarily focused on the geology of the Canyon. Dr. Paul Knauth, geology professor emeritus at Arizona State University, was our esteemed leader who kept us well informed about all things in the Canyon. Paul is an amazing man about whom I’ll tell you more later. We had a wide variety of people and occupations on the trip and they were all interesting.

Just a few miles into the trip we went under the Navajo Bridge, 470’ above the River. This is the last car crossing of the River until Hoover Dam, 342 miles downstream.

As we descended into the Canyon, Paul told us what to look for and what geological unit we were seeing.

Fossilized paw prints of some ancient creature

Lots of plants/cacti were in bloom:
Grizzly-bear prickly pear

Cholla cactus blossom

Jimsonweed, a strong hallucinogenic

Whiptail lizard found at our first lunch site. A biologist who specialized in reptiles was on the trip. Dave was a great guy. We had a lot of fun with him and his main squeeze, Merry.

We saw more than 30 bighorn sheep on the trip.

But the baby on a giant boulder was the cutest of all.

The first night’s loo with a view. We took this photo for Scott (Jolee’s youngest brother) using his patented pose.

Our first night’s campsite at Lots of boulders in the way if one had to get up in the middle of the night, which of course, I did. One has to pee in the river for several ecological reasons.

The view looking back up-stream on our second morning on the River. I love how the sun lights up canyon walls a bit at a time.

Ravens waiting for us to leave the campsite. This photo is weird because my lens cover wasn’t retracting correctly. Must have been due to the fact I got sand in it. Eventually, it died because it got wet. Luckily I had my underwater camera to finish the journey.

Jason doing some beard grooming. He took a lot of ribbing about sand and food in his beard.

The 5 of us posing in the Redwall Cavern.

Jolee and Kristi are posing this time. Redwall is so big that about 3 other boat tours were there as well as us and there was no crowding. People were throwing footballs and Frisbees while others were reading, eating or exploring.

Kristi and a view of the Canyon

Bridge of Sighs. Many of those holes that look like caves were formed by ancient aquifers. Often, one can see a matching hole on the other side of the canyon.

There was no campfire but we had a nightly circle where we’d eat dinner, converse and find out what we would be doing the next day.

One of our night visitors. This scorpion was found and kept in a pan until we left the next morning. Two of our people were stung by a scorpion during our last night in camp. Luckily, they didn’t suffer any lasting effects.

Another nightly visitor was ringtail cats. It seemed like we saw their prints every morning going very close to our cots. They eat berries and prickly pears but also like to raid campsites to get whatever they can find.

I never saw a ringtail but here is an image from the internet

At every campsite, we had to help unload and load the rafts. This was called the fireline. An orange bag contained our sleeping bag and our duffle that was not supposed to weigh over 25 pounds. Some did.

During one lunch stop, we saw this desert spiny lizard. His blue throat told us he was looking for a mate. We did see him go to another tree and try to meet another lizard. But she rejected him for another. Too bad.

One of the bighorn rams that we saw.

The Little Colorado is a tributary to the regular Colorado River. High alkaline content and minerals give it a distinctive turquoise hue. It is great fun to play in as it’s quite a bit warmer than the 48º River. This is Kristi enjoying a tube ride.

There aren’t enough toys for everyone, so we were instructed to use our lifejackets. Jason and Jolee are showing us the proper attire for the Little Colorado.

At 84, Austin was in on every activity. He and his wife were great to talk to.

Jason and Jolee at the Little Colorado

One of our treats was to hike a creek bed and see a waterfall. It was pretty, cool and refreshing. We all took sort of showers in it.

There were other falls to shower, but I liked this one best.

Paul telling us about some fossilized bacteria…”the same green stuff you find in your dog dish.” He had so many fascinating things to tell us.

Diamonds in the bottom of the Grand Canyon! They were huge mineral deposits that looked like diamonds.

Cockeyed spires

Mark on the pontoon

After one particular hot, dry day on the River, Kristi, our new friend, Merry, and Jolee used moisturizing masks and wine to rehydrate. It was fun!

The narrowest part of the River is 76’. Tanner and JP, our boat drivers pulled our rafts together so that we almost spanned the River, too.

Elves’ Chasm is a delightful place to take a dip and jump off the ledge above the water fall. This is the one thing I wanted to do on this trip. My fear of heights got to me as I froze when it was my turn to leap. Consequently, I didn’t jump out far enough and hit a rock in the pool. Yes, it hurt and I was embarrassed.

I had to be helped back to the raft and my activities were curtailed for a time. Luckily, it was toward the end of the trip and I missed only one hike. It was not broken and the best thing was that I got a pee can and didn’t have to trundle to the river on my nightly excursions.

Deer Creek Falls is 180’ tall and creates a wind when it hits the pond below. There is a beautiful area above the falls and back toward the mountain. Most of our crew went there but I stayed below and soaked in the pond.

Havasu Creek is another tributary that is mineral laden and shows off a pretty turquoise color. Here are dories moored at the mouth of the creek.

Jolee and Jason helped me hike up to the area where people can swim and sun. It is a great place for photographers(of which there was an entire tour there with their tripods and cameras)

The rapids in the Grand Canyon are rated from 1 to 10, unlike other rivers that are fro 1 to 5. We had some pretty good rides on several rapids and our last 10 was Lava Falls. It’s a lot of fun but dangerous and the drivers must be very careful traversing the Upper and Lower Falls.  We were excited to go through the Lower Lava Rapid three times.  Hoorah!

We stayed to watch a tour of small oar driven rafts go through Lava and also to make sure they all got through without mishap. You can see that they can get turned around and seemingly become engulfed with the waves. Everyone cheered when each small raft went through successfully. It was a good day.

This truly was a journey through time. We traveled through many geologic ages beginning with the Kaibab formation (about 250 million years old) down to the Vishnu Schist and Zoroaster Granite (1700 to 2000 million years old).

I can understand the above diagram, but when I see the real deal, it becomes a puzzle to me. However, when we got into the Vishnu Schist, it’s rather distinctive and everybody remembers it because of all the puns that are made.

Then we got to the Great Unconformity. This non-layer indicates an age in which no sediments can be found. It is indicative of a time when an advancing sea eroded away the sediments that should be here. The lady in the bluish shirt is actually touching the Unconformity

This is where we had some good laughs. Paul was explaining all this to us when another boat tour walked through our group on their way to the end of the slot canyon we were in. Paul told us, “You are now at a revival.” He began quoting many scriptures and we were hollering “Amen, Brother” while the people walked through in a timid way As soon as the folks passed by, Paul immediately went back to his talk and never missed a beat. He is an amazing man who is world renown in geology circles and can quote Shakespeare at length as well as the Bible and other literary masterpieces at will.

Some out takes


Duct tape works for banged up feet

Mark and Kristi

Cots make a nice temporary shade

We survived!

It was a great trip and I’d go again in a heartbeat!

                                THE ENDS!















































A Carson Valley Spring – April 2018

12 Apr

Spring is fun here in the Carson Valley.  The weather can change in what seems like an instant and temperatures vary by sometimes 30, 40 or 50 degrees.  Since spring officially arrived, we’ve experienced rain, wind, a lot of snow in the mountains, more wind plus some really nice, sunny days.  I would like to share some images of this spring from my area and the Jacobs Berry Family Berry Farm in Gardnerville.

(Don’t forget to click on images to enlarge them)

This semi-flood was caused by our March rains. I just found out this area is part of a natural channel for the Johnson Lane Wash to the Carson River that has been blocked by the main street into the area where I live. Water was here for months last year. If you want to buy this, I also have a bridge to sell you.

Daffodils love the spring and will pop their heads up even in the snow.

Daffodils in the front yard

The Jacobs Family Berry Farm starts its spring with MANY daffodils. These are part of the flowers that surround a 150 year old cottonwood tree.

These hyacinths are also in area around the cottonwood. Soon there will be many different types of flowers in bloom almost appearing as loyal subjects of King Cottonwood.

These daffodils lining the driveway look out on the Sierras just a few miles away.

You can see the berry field in back of the fence and daffodils. The berry canes will be tied up to their wire frames getting them ready to begin their journey to producing the tasty berries.  They are usually ready by mid-July.

The beginning of this year’s beautiful iris in front of the old blacksmith shop and next to the berry field.

These rhizomes from which the iris grow are at least 100 years old. They continue to provide a radiant accent to the farm. Diana has taught me to use a variety of plants that will bloom in stages throughout the spring and summer, thus giving resplendent color throughout the summer.

A peach tree just beginning to bloom.

Peach blossoms. Our winds have been up to 50 mph the past two days and I hope the blossoms don’t get blown off the trees.

Pretty pink blossoms on a tree next to the yard where weddings and other celebrations are held. will give you a history and splendid photos of the Farm if you would care to learn more about it.  The Farm has quite a history and you can still walk around and into structures that are close to 150 years old.  Diana Jacobs is a dear friend who I’ve known since kindergarten.

Spring also brings some different birds. One yellow-headed blackbird arrived last week. Maybe he was a scout. This morning there were at least 25 of them flocking to the feeding area.

Red-winged blackbirds have also arrived. They and their yellow-headed cousins love to thrash the bird seed all over the place and soon empty the feeders every morning now.

A pair mallard ducks has arrived also. They were here last year, too.  I don’t know if they are resting while on migration or they just decided to come here for a couple weeks before they move to a breeding ground. I heard a canyon wren yesterday and that’s exciting to me. I’ve never seen one, but I know the call. Soon tiny puff balls will be scurrying with their quail parents.

See what I mean about weather changing quickly? Howling wind last night and snow this morning that took even the weathermen by surprise.

See the snow in the raised garden behind the tree? This is why it’s not wise to plant anytime before Mother’s Day even though the stores are already tempting us with beautiful plants. Spring is truly a delightful time that brings all kinds of entertainment, activities and surprises.

Ravin’ Lunch – March 2018

22 Mar

We haven’t had very much snow this winter, but we did have a nice storm a week ago.  Again, I have a little story to tell about my birds.  This time, ravens are the stars. (Don’t forget to click on an image to enlarge it and see more detail if you wish)

Some nice snow looking very pristine in the backyard

I love how the snow fall in clumps on the trees. Of course I wouldn’t like it if these same heavy limbs were breaking power lines.

My backyard birds are always hungry and a snowy day is no exception. Ravens and tri-colored blackbirds are the primary birds here. The quail, sparrows and finches slept in, but they don’t enjoy being with the ravens very much.

It’s snowing and the ravens are roosting in the tree waiting to swoop down for lunch.  READY…

SET… He’ll go after the suet feeder in the middle of the trunk


ATTACKING THE SUET…The ravens wait their turn to try to get at the suet as if they realize it’s fruitless to bicker about who is first.

HANGING IN THERE.   Actually, ravens don’t normally hang on to a tree as woodpeckers do. But if they are hungry enough and like the food, they will try anything. Then, too, their beaks are thick and it’s difficult for them to get through the smaller mesh in the suet feeder. They keep trying and eventually do get a few bites. Starlings are better at this same trick because their beaks are smaller.  Quail usually hang out below and eat up the fallen suet crumbs when starlings are chowing down.

Sunrise after the storm. This was taken about 6:15 AM looking west to the Sierras. The sun has to rise over the Pine Nuts to the east and that is why the Sierras get lit up from the top down.

Isn’t it amazing how much a scene can change in ten minutes?