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.

http://www.jacobsberries.com 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?

The Boys – Buddy and Max +Bia, the girl cousin

1 Mar

The Boys are Jerri and Allan’s dogs, Buddy and Max. We don’t take dogs for a walk. It’s take The Boys for a walk; Time to feed The Boys; The Boys have been bums today. And so on.

The Boys went with them to Death Valley and consequently with me since I was bunking on their sofa in the motor home. Both of them are kind and gentle and love their family and I suspect both would protect the family as best they could. The following is a photo chronicle of The Boys in Death Valley.

Buddy – aka Budweiser or Eeyore. He is a rescue from Utah and is suspected to be from a puppy mill. A lab thoroughbred with a bad back and in need of some orthodontic work. Sometimes he reminds us of Eeyore because he looks sad or woebegone. But he’s a sweet boy and so loveable. He’s 13 and had a stem cell transplant two years ago that made him seem like a puppy. He was running with Max and was able to get on the couch to sit with Jerri until just recently. Sadly, the transplant seems to be wearing off and it’s becoming more difficult for him to get around.

This is Max – aka Maxwell von Biddle or Maxwell for short when he begins to do something he shouldn’t. He’s a rescue from the Pyramid Lake Reservation and is a lab/black mouth cur combination. Max is a big boy who thinks he’s much smaller than he is. He is five and has lots of energy. He loves to run and is fast enough to catch squirrels and sometimes pigeons. Chasing birds to watch them fly gives him kicks. He loves the horses that live next door and runs out to greet them, rub noses with them or run with them.

You can see that Max is a lot bigger than Buddy. Technically, all dogs must be on a leash when outside, but Buddy is so docile that he just sits while Max is always on duty, checking out things.

Always on patrol

Buddy know he needs to stay hydrated in Death Valley

Is it morning already? Sometimes Max sneaks up on the bed and crowds Jerri and Allan so much they can hardly move.

Poor Buddy sleeps at the foot of the bed.

This isn’t one of Buddy’s best Eeyore looks, but it’s close.

The Boys like to be near the family at all times and choose a great place to take a nap right where we walk between the sofa and table.

Sometimes Buddy gets into a small place where Max can’t bug him. He loves to sleep under the desk in the computer room at home. Note: this is in front of where Buddy and Max were napping in the previous picture.

When Max needs to take care of an itch, everyone knows it. His tags rattle and a big foot goes after that itch with a great production. You should see when he cleans his feet. He puts the entire foot in his mouth and gnaws on it.  Truly a weird sound.

Then there is Bia (aka Beezie), Buddy and Max’s little girl cousin. Bia is also a rescue that is three-quarters lab and one-quarter pit bull. She has a lab personality and loves her family and people to no end. She is just a year old and is still learning the ropes. Bia’s energy is boundless and wants to play with every dog or critter she finds. Her tail is like a whip with no nerves. It whacks anything nearby (your leg, a wall, a tree,  a chair, ad infinitum) and without having any effect. But your leg feels it! She is so happy to see you and practically wags her fanny off trying to greet you.  Bia belongs to Jolee and her family.

One of Bia’s favorite positions to rest or contemplate what she’s going to do next.

Bia wants so much to play with Buddy and Max, but they don’t seem to want to. I think she moves way too fast for Buddy and he’s not able to run and jump with her anyway. Max, as big as he is (100+ pounds vs. 50 pounds) seems to be a bit intimidated by her.

Is that you, Max?

A wistful plea…Won’t you play with me, Max? I’m hoping when Bia gets a bit older that Max will play with her a bit.

The Boys and Bia are back home in their familiar environs and have settled back into their daily routines. It’s such a kick to go over to their houses and be greeted by them. Unconditional love…that’s what The Boys and the little girl give 24/7.


Death Valley Adventure February 2018

26 Feb

Following is the chronicle of our family’s annual pilgrimage to Death Valley during the Douglas County High School Presidents’ Day/Week break. This annual gathering began several years ago when Carson City firemen and other firefighters would gather there for a week long rite of golf, hiking, horseshoes, and other activities that would fit the Death Valley location.

Jerri and Allan drove their motor home to DV on Valentine’s Day and I followed a day later due to obligations at the Nevada State Museum. Many don’t like the long drive through what seems to be desolate desert, but I rather enjoy it. Granted, the sagebrush views don’t vary much but, there is always a chance of seeing wild burros, wild horses, bighorn sheep, deer and large birds of prey.  Don’t forget to click on the images if you wish to see more detail.

I always get a thrill when I see this huge flag flying in Hawthorne near the Hawthorne Army Depot.

The next stop was Goldfield, NV, a tiny town (pop. Less than 300) with a rich mining history in the early 1900s when the population was more than 20,000.

The Equipment Display is beside the local library that was the elementary school in 1908 and morphed into other uses throughout the years.

WWII practice bombs recovered outside Goldfield and Tonopah.

A mid-1930s highway maintenance truck that was still used 30 years later. Nevada likes to get its money’s worth.

A few miles before dropping into Death Valley proper, I visited Rhyolite, NV, another rich mining town during the early 1900s.

It was a booming place and some buildings had electricity and indoor plumbing.  Quite modern for 1908.

A three room bottle house that was built in 1906 and was raffled off. The house served as a residence for the winning family for many years.

Rhyolite today…school building, Overbury Building (bank and business), depot in background

Rhyolite Emporium – the Porter Brothers’ store ruins with a two-room cabin in the distance (thought to have been a brothel, though it was originally built as a residence)

Las Vegas and Tonopah Depot

The town symbol was a penguin. It represented the enigma of gold mining. “As much chance of finding gold in the desert as finding a penguin.” (BLM pamphlet) Mining tailings can be seen in the background.

Someone has built a small museum along with some strange sculptures outside of the actual townsite.  See https://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/12538 for more info on this and the pink lady Lego sculpture.

I wanted to walk around this area more but the wind was so darned cold and biting that I left in hopes to find warmer weather in DV.

The boys (Buddy and Max) needed to be walked shortly after I arrived. Jerri and Allan’s motor home is directly behind Jerri.

Jerri, Allan and I played nine holes of golf the next morning. It was fun and the weather was perfect!

Panamint daisies were the only flowers in bloom. I suspect the wildflowers will not be as profuse as last year due to little to no rain in DV.

This is a view from Artist’s Palette looking toward Badwater. I like it but don’t know how Jerri got it in her camera. She doesn’t either.

This is what the colors really were.

The road through Artist’s Palette displays many colors creating a vast array of raw elements and minerals. Some of these are iron, aluminum, magnesium, titanium, red hematite and green chlorite.

The Warm Spring-fed Pool where we sunned a bit and took showers in the pool house. I love this pool because it’s always warm (except when there is a wind) and the water is changed daily, thus not requiring chlorine (or at least as much as a normal public pool uses)  The water leaving the pool is used to water the golf course.

Catching up on reading

Jerri, Allan and I visited the Keane Wonder Mine that is just off the road to Beatty, NV, but still in CA. Over a million dollars of gold were produced from 1904 to 1917.

The Keane Mine had a mile long tram to haul ore to a 20-stamp processing mill.

Then ore was then transported to Rhyolite, more than 20 miles away. This is a view of the three mile long dirt road from the mine to the highway. The dust clouds you see are cars on the dirt road.

A piece of quartz from some tailings. Allan told me gold is generally found with quartz.

A grackle liked to perch in the tree near our campsite.

A pair of doves in the same tree. The one on the left was taking care of an itch.

Jason and Scott get ready for a game of horseshoes. They weren’t always this gentlemanly 🙂

Another game the two intrepid nephews played was called Beersbie (or something like that). There were many rules, but a primary rule was to always have a can of beer in one hand while trying to catch the Frisbee, throw it, or try to catch the beer bottle if it’s knocked off the pole.

Another game was cornhole where one tosses the beanbag to a platform with the intention of getting the bag into the hole. Kylie is really concentrating.

Megan must have made a score with the bag.

The foursome on the golf course. We didn’t shoot the scores we had hoped for, but we had fun and a lot of laughs.

A view of the Furnace Creek Course with the Panamint Mountains in the background.

Jolee, Jerri, Dalan, Megan, Kiley and I went out to the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes. These dunes sprawl 14 square miles across the widest part of Death Valley.

People are free to walk wherever they wish. We were at the most easily accessed dunes where it’s fun to watch the kids play as well as the adults.

A neat thing is there will be no footprints in the sand come morning. The wind blows and reshapes the dunes.

Jerri and Jolee

I espied these tracks and wondered what made them.

It was pretty easy to follow the tracks and discovered this large stinkbug hustling across the sand to another plant so as to have some shelter.

The sunset wasn’t very spectacular but the setting sun’s reflection creates some pretty colors as people come back across the dunes to get to their cars.

The next late afternoon, we went to Zabriskie Point to see colors and maybe a sunset. The reflected colors are beautiful and I enjoy going there to see all the people as well as the sights. There is a large raven in this photo. See if you can spot it.

The kids like to hike around the area and Megan and Kylie zipped out to an area in front of the actual Zabriskie Point. Dalan went out to points unknown to take pictures.

The sunset didn’t have extraordinary colors but the reflections were fabulous. I thought it was a nice ending to the last day in Death Valley. I’m already looking forward to going there next year…especially to be with the family.

P.S.  On the way home, we saw six bighorn sheep beside the highway that goes by Walker Lake.  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen bighorns in Nevada.

Ag, Birds and Critters in Carson Valley January 2018

19 Jan


 It is Eagles and Ag Week in the Carson Valley during which people flock to the valley to see bald eagles and other species of raptors along with the herds of cows giving birth. It is not uncommon to see 10 or more cars stopped alongside Highway 395 to watch this phenomenon. My car is sometimes one of those. Buzzard Notes has covered this before but this will be a bit different version. (Please remember to click on a photo to enlarge it and see it better)(Thanks to Jerri for loaning me her camera with a greater zoom quality than mine)

I was on my way back from Woodford’s, a tiny settlement that is the first place in California to buy Lotto tickets when I saw these “raincows” and a rainbow announcing that the pot o’ gold is in that house and all is right with the world.

A day later when we had another beautiful sky. I love how the clouds and winds interact with the light and we get beautiful sunrises, sunsets and days.

I get excited about the birthing and the eagles, so I took a little field trip in hopes of seeing a lot of eagles. Sometimes I think it’s a snipe hunt, as I have never had spectacular eagle photo opportunities. But I did meet a local prize winning photog at the Settlemeyer Ranch and he showed me some wonderful pictures he had taken the day before. I settled for some mom and baby pictures.

I did see two eagles that day but they were at least 500 yards away and the camera doesn’t have the capability to take those photos.

I moved on to the East Fork Nature Conservancy because I know there is an eagle nest in a distant tree in that area. Alas, no eagles seemed to be there, but I did get a rather mystical picture of the Carson River and Job’s Peak, a Douglas County sentinel that is photographed literally hundreds of times each year.

I drove on the Genoa, home of the oldest thirst parlor in Nevada. No, I didn’t visit it. I was in search of the suicidal deer that reside there. (I’ve mentioned before that the deer wander all over town with no thought to traffic, hence their tag of being suicidal). Maybe you could call her a Street Doe.

Note the white horse under his blanket in the background and another deer in the back left.

Genoa deer have it down pat. They just cross from one property to another. Maybe this is another type of crossin’ the bar?

Did you notice how dry it is? No snow in the valley so far this winter and it’s a bummer. Not quite a year ago I took this picture just a yards from where I took this year’s pictures.

Obviously, there were no eagles in Genoa, so I headed over to the Dangberg Ranch where I had seen one perched last year. No eagles did I see this year, but I did see what I think is a female Northern harrier, another raptor.  (Sorry about the photo not being sharp)

Harriers generally do not soar (except in migration and courtship) but fly close to the ground looking for prey.

While at the Dangberg, I met another local photo guru who told me this is a prairie falcon. I love meeting these guys, as they aren’t shy about sharing their knowledge of birds and photography.

On the way out of the Dangberg Home Ranch, I was met by these two ladies that might have been waiting for a ride, for Godot or who knows? These cattle are Park Ranch cows and have not calved yet. They will in another week or so.

Three days later I stopped by the Settlemeyer Ranch again to see what was happening. More babies had been born. The cow lying down with the babies had given birth maybe the day before, as her baby was quite small.

One cow needed a scritch and used what was available. Note her friend, Bossy, moving in.

Bossy saw a good thing and took over.

As you can see, life goes on in the Carson Valley with a lot of birthin’ and, sometimes the opposite. I came home a couple of days ago and looked out in back to see this Cooper’s hawk with a kill. I took a bunch of pictures and then did some other tasks. When I looked out about half an hour later, there was nothing left on the ground except feathers. I don’t know if he ate it all or flew away with part of it.

Several varieties of hawks fly over my feeding area for smaller birds. Sometimes they are successful. I don’t like to see it happen, but realize that these critters are doing what comes naturally.

We had pretty good winds yesterday, topping 50 mph and 70 near Lake Tahoe. The mountains got some snow and we got a spritz. It was snowing a tad when I went to the gym this morning, but nothing stuck. This was the scene looking west this morning. The mountains look so close but the foothills are actually 6 or more miles away. I never tire of this view.















Sister Trip 8 – Oahu & Maui – September 26 to October 5, 2017

23 Oct

Alaska had such a good deal that we were able to fly first class. Such fun and good food! We were doubly glad we were in the comfy seats because just before we reached the halfway point, we had to return to Oakland due to two medical emergencies. (if you wish to enlarge the photos, please click on them)

Our first must-see was Pearl Harbor. The Arizona Memorial and the USS Missouri represent the beginning and end of World War II

WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument is the the official name of where visitors see the Arizona Memorial.  One of the ships you can tour is the submarine, USS Bowfin. This is looking toward the stern from the conning tower.

Those WWII submariners were special people to be in these tight quarters. There were bunks even in the aft torpedo room.

Pearl Harbor and Honolulu are truly at the Crossroads of the Pacific.

I was impressed with the logistics of moving people out to see and board the Arizona Memorial. Upon arrival, one receives a ticket with a time to see a very well done film about the attack. After seeing the film, you leave the building and board a navy boat that takes you out to the Memorial. Everyone gets about 10 or 15 minutes to look around and then you get in line to wait while the next navy boat lets people off and then you board. It’s very efficient and done very respectfully.

The memorial wall with the names of the men who are entombed in the Arizona and their shipmates who did not survive the attack. The bench-like boxes on the left and right list the names of survivors who chose to be interred with their shipmates.

This map shows the ships’ positions just prior to the attack and what happened to them. I was incensed when I saw what I thought indicated the USS Nevada was also sunk. It was anchored in front of the Arizona and was the only battleship to get underway that day. It was heavily damaged but was repaired and fired one of the first salvos on D-Day. I even wrote a letter to the Park Service explaining what I thought was an error. Not until I saw Jerri’s picture here that I realized the colors were different shades and the Park Service really did have it right. So then I had to write a letter of apology. I still think the colors should be completely different so as not to confuse folks like me.

As we were leaving Valor in the Pacific Monument, Jerri spotted this moa (a feral chicken). He was just pecking his way around the Monument grounds. His cousins are all over the Islands.

The USS Oklahoma Memorial: The marble standards symbolize the “manning of the rails” – the crew in dress uniforms standing at attention along a ship’s rails in a display of honor and respect. I think this is a unique and poignant memorial for the 429 men lost on that fateful day.

We are on board the USS Missouri. Those guns behind us weigh, literally, tons.

The exact spot on the USS Missouri deck where the instrument of formal surrender of Japan was signed to bring a close to WWII.

We were able to tour a good part of the Missouri above and below deck. It was like a confusing city below deck where the men slept, ate, went to the dentist, saw the doctor, wrote letters and lived their lives. We were glad to get back to the main deck away from (again) those tight quarters.

Perhaps the most famous photo of the end of WWII.

Our tour bus took us from the Missouri to the Pacific Aviation Museum. It is housed in pre-WWII aircraft hangars and displays aircraft from WWII on. The lobby floor is very unique in that it is an aerial photo of Pearl Harbor as it is today. It is tiled but you can hardly see the seams. This portion is looking down on the USS Missouri, the Arizona Memorial and the two white spots above the Arizona mark where the USS Nevada was moored.

These Hangar 79 windows still have bullet holes from the December 7, 1941 attack. The Navy continued to use the hangar as a repair facility but never repaired the holes to remind the sailors they were working in a combat zone.

Our bus then headed toward downtown Honolulu and the National Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl Crater). Due to previous issues with tour buses, we were not allowed to wander around the cemetery but we did drive around the grounds and did see Ernie Pyle’s grave between two unknown soldiers. We got to stop just outside the cemetery grounds and take pictures of a pretty rainbow that seemed so close that we could almost touch it.

As I took this picture, I wondered what the ancient Hawaiians would say about this jungle of massive buildings beside their beloved Diamond Head.

The next morning, Jerri and I visited the Ali’iolani Hale, home of Hawaii’s Supreme Court and the King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center. It was originally designed to be a palace but King Kamehameha V decided that the need for a government building was greater. Finished in 1874, the building was one of the first of its kind to use pre-cast concrete. You might recognize the building as a backdrop for “Hawaii 50.”

We walked across the street to visit the Iolani Palace, the only royal palace on US soil and the only place where the Hawaiian flag flies alone. The ʻIolani Palace was the royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii beginning with Kamehameha III under the Kamehameha Dynasty (1845) and ending with Queen Liliʻuokalani (1893) under the Kalākaua Dynasty, founded by her brother, King David Kalākaua.

The entry hall staircase to the living quarters. It is made from native Hawaiian koa wood.

The throne room

The dining room

The ‘Iolani Palace had telephone service, electricity and indoor plumbing before much of mainland USA did.

The royal john

We flew over to Maui to begin the VERY relaxing portion of our Sister Trip. Our very first Maui sunset was taken from Leilani’s at Kaanapali. Jerri was hooked right then and there with Hawaii. She loves clouds and sunsets.

View from our condo at Kaleialoha (courtesy RDS)

Our first Maui morning found us at Kapalua Beach fighting for a parking spot in the very small public lot. We finally had to walk the equivalent of a city block after finding one. Soon we were in the water and very quickly, Jerri became an ace at finding the honu (sea turtles).

A green sea turtle.

It was so awesome to swim with them.

On the bluff above Slaughterhouse Beach.  No one was murdered there.  A slaughterhouse used to be a distance away to the right of this photo.

We drove around the north side of Maui, not a well traveled, very skinny (one lane in some cases) road that sometimes hangs on a cliff. It’s a challenge and Jerri did a great job of traversing that stretch of road. Here we are above Honolua Bay.

We drove a bit farther and looked back at much of the development that has occurred in the last 30 years on the west side of Maui. It makes me sad but I understand why it’s being done.

North of the development, the landscape returns to a natural setting with tiny settlements along the way. We stopped at the Nakalele Blowhole. The surf and tide weren’t just right to make it blow a giant spume. But it was big enough for us.

The “path” going back up to the car after seeing the Nakalele Blowhole. We had to rest a bit before getting back up to the top.

Rock surfing

Kahakuloa Head (636’ straight out of the ocean) towers over the tiny village of Kahakuloa. The quite narrow one lane road finally ends here. The road then passes through the valley between the two peaks in the picture.

Julia’s in the ”tree house” as she calls it is THE highlight of Kahakuloa. She bakes marvelously tasty banana bread that we sampled and then, of course bought a loaf. It was so good for breakfast!

We really enjoyed the road around the north side of Maui as there was so much beauty to be seen that is much different than the highway that most people take. It was a much slower pace (although the top speed limit in Maui is 55 mph) that we liked. Our final destination was Mama’s Fish House in the little town of Pa’ia (still living in the Age of Aquarius…it’s a fascinating place). Mama’s is famous and we were lucky to get reservations on a Sunday afternoon. We’re waiting for our table at the edge of this beautiful little beach. If you look closely to the left of our palm tree, there are two wind surfers in the ocean. This area is famous for great wind surfing.

Our dinners were just served. Every bite was a gourmet’s delight. Jerri said it was the best lobster she’d ever eaten. My fish was no slouch either.

The Black Pearl was our luscious, out of this world dessert. One just can’t beat Mama’s for a superb meal!

After we visited every ABC Store (the go to place for souvenirs and anything else you can think of) in Lahaina (and other towns in Hawaii), we visited its world famous banyan tree. Believe it or not, this tree is all one tree even though it looks like many.

Since snorkeling was our favorite activity on this trip, we spent our last day seeing as many honu as possible at Kapalua. It was early on a weekday and we still had to fight for a parking space.

We saw many fish, but no sharks, porpoises, octopi or whales. This is a domino damselfish, about 3” long.

An elegant Moorish Idol

All these fish were feeding on coral and rocks. There is a coronetfish (the long, skinny one in back), a yellow tang, zebra surgeonfish, and black surgeonfish. There are probably more, but they are not clear. (Don’t forget to click on the photo to enlarge it if you can’t see it clearly)

Then we hit the jackpot! A large (we called him Grandpa) honu swam under Jerri and went over to a large rock with coral on it. We had discovered they like to rest/sleep in divots in the sand at the edge of these rocks. Pretty soon, Grandpa tried to get a much smaller honu out of the place he wanted to sleep in. You can see Mama is in the picture also.

Baby didn’t like that but got out. He nipped Grandpa on the flipper and after some nudging and sparring, decided discretion was the better part of valor.

Baby surfaced for some air. They can stay underwater for 20 minutes to more than an hour.

He dove back down to try to get his place under the rock again.

Grandpa would have nothing to do with Baby and chased him away again. Baby finally decided to rest under another rock.

We watched this drama for probably 10 or more minutes. The beach was crowded and lots of snorkelers were in the water, but no one joined us or even came close our personal show. This happened several times, which made us happy but shows a lack awareness of many folks.

We went to Duke’s Beach House for dinner and to enjoy one last piece of Hula Pie. Dinner was good but Hula Pie is the best. Thirty years ago, I used to eat one whole piece by myself (I justified it by swimming several hours every day while we were there.) OMG! Times have changed.

Jerri practicing for her sunset picture. 🙂

A gorgeous sunset for our last evening on Maui. Perhaps it’s two sunny searchlights beckoning us to come back?

























Prime Time at the Jacobs Family Berry Farm September 19 to 22, 2017

9 Oct

Our first afternoon together began with the traditional gathering for catching up, discussion, laughs and wine. Funny how that works. (Don’t forget to click on the picture to see more details)

The next morning found us in the garden harvesting all the fruit and veggies that could be found. We did this because a good freeze was forecast for the next day and we wanted to save as much of the produce as possible. Diana and Dot are picking string beans.

Bill with a good zucchini he found.

The men were not being straw bosses while we picked. They were planning where to pound poles in the ground that would become the supports for tarps that would cover some of the produce too green to pick. The hope was to save the green fruit from the freeze.

Jack and his stake pounder. I’m sure there is a proper name for the tool but it escapes me right now.

Tying down the tarps.  After all that work, the the freeze was too severe and none of the plants or produce survived.  That was a big disappointment.  None of the berries survived either.  That was a bigger disappointment.

The bountiful harvest

Dot getting ready to carry the zucchini into the creamery where produce is stored.

Trish and Diana discussing the finer points of preparing French toast.

Lynda and Dot sharing pictures

Jack and Evert

Lucy, the ever faithful ranch dog, guarded us very well while trying to get some love and attention.  She’s good at that.

The 2017 Prime Time group getting ready to partake of a gourmet breakfast.

We really should have taken our group picture by Bobula’s Septic Service truck as it came to save us from zooming out to the porta potties that were still in place from the wedding season. The overflow was discovered just a bit before bedtime. So there we all were…putting on shoes and jackets to go out to the very nice porta potties all night long. They actually are very nice with no smells and motion detector lights that go on to help you see to do your business. I kind of looked at it as another validation of “It is what it is.”

Jack is finding out the bad news that parts of the more than 50 year- old septic tank were broken and probably couldn’t be repaired. The upshot is that now the Jacobs’ have a new bigger and better septic tank.

We had planned to go on a hike, but that plan was thwarted when snow began to fall while we were having lunch at Sorensen’s. At times, the light was just right and that area began to shine almost like a Thomas Kinkade painting.

Our time together at the Berry Farm was a lot of fun but we missed those who were not able to join us this time. We all hope we can have the entire group with us when we get together the next time.

A Lakely Birthday August 10, 2017

14 Aug

About a month ago, Alexis and Connie, two college friends, were visiting me and the Carson Valley and we decided to take a cruise on Lake Tahoe. It’s about a two-hour cruise and it’s a neat way to see part of the lake from Zephyr Cove to Emerald Bay. I’m guessing it’s about 10 miles across the lake at that point and it allows beautiful vistas of not only the lake but the Sierras and the Carson Range as well.  (Please click on the pictures to enlarge them and get more detail)

Here is a view from the boat of Emerald Bay. You can see part of CA Highway 89 as a line a little way above the water. It goes around the bay and makes its sharpest curve at those two white spots toward right center. Those white spots are Eagle Falls that were absolutely gushing that day. Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to go up there to see them in person. August 10 was the first opportunity that I had to do just that.

Summer is winding down (in terms of kids going back to school) and I thought it might not be so crowded. WRONG!!! I ended up parking about a mile from the trailhead I wanted to use, adding a couple of miles to my proposed hike. But… I was afforded a great view of Emerald Bay and Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe.

My first stop was to see Eagle Falls. Its flow has ebbed during the last month but it’s still a dangerous place to be fooling around. I sat down while taking this picture so as not to slip.

Then I turned around and took this picture of people wading in a flat part about 15 feet in back of the first picture. It would have been all over for them if they had slipped.

Eagle Falls a short distance away… I think I was sitting on the flat rock when I took the first falls picture. You can see how steep it is.

The trail down to Vikingsholm is about a mile long, all down hill. You know what that means when you want to go back up the hill. The surrounding area is very pretty, lots of trees, rocks, flowers and even ferns. I was surprised to see such beautiful ferns in what can be a very cold and snowy climate in the winter.

Crimson or Western Columbine

I’m not positive about some of these flowers so I’ll put a question mark after the names I think they are. If you know what they really are, please let me know.

Cow Parsnip?

White yarrow (?) with wasp

Many small falls were at the side of the trail.

Great Mountain Larkspur or some type of Penstemon??

A view of Vikingsholm from the MS Dixie in July.
If you would like to learn more about it and its impressive history, please check this link.

People are able to take a tour of Vikingsholm. I am waiting for another opportunity…perhaps after Labor Day when there aren’t so many people there.

The MS Dixie II paddled into Emerald Bay while I was there.

Lora J. Knight wanted her summer home to be very authentically Scandinavian and had one wing built with a thatched roof.

A small pond is formed by one of the creeks near the Vikingsholm and someone planted some beautiful iris.

Some goldenrod is next to the pond. Many people are allergic to it and I pull it up every time I see it in my backyard.

This burned out tree (still alive) was one of a couple of hollowed out trees I saw. The fire must have been years ago as everything else looked fresh and green.

I saw more flowers on the way back up the hill such as this lupine.

Mountain Monkey Flower?

Rangers’ Buttons

I can’t resist including this beautiful photo taken by good friend, RD Schmidt.  You can see the little tea house on Fannette island.

My hike was fun and then I had a very nice dinner with Jerri and Allan. Yep, it was a Lakely good birthday!














Prime Time at Murrieta – May 22 – 25, 2017

30 May

The new Prime Time* location this year was at Dot’s house in Murrieta, CA. For those of you unfamiliar with Murrieta, it is inland, south of Riverside and straddles the I-15 highway. It was a wide spot in the road (along with Temecula) when I was a kid but is now a beautiful, thriving community in an area commonly called The Inland Empire.  (*Prime Time = the annual gathering of good friends from Orange High School) (Don’t forget to click on a picture to enlarge it)

Dot, Cora, Lynda at the bottom of Dot’s driveway. Pretty matilija poppies are in the background with Dot’s house at the top of the photo

Dot lives on hillside that overlooks the valley and this is one view from her house. In the distance, one can see Mt. Palomar along with its famous Palomar Observatory. It’s a tiny, tiny white dot sort of in the right center of the mountain.

Dawn looking toward Mt. San Jacinto from Dot’s house

Almost the same view later in the morning with Dot’s house in the foreground. You might notice some haze/fog in the distance. It’s normal in this area and for that reason, the next town south is called Temecula, “Valley of the Mist.”

Of course we had to do some shopping (that’s a tradition with us) and we trekked off the Temecula.

There are many fine and some funky shops (ye olde shoppes?) in Temecula and we only visited a few. Ironically, we met two Orange High alumni in one of the shops.  It’s indeed a small world.

Trish found some good stuff!

Because we shopped so hard and worked up an appetite, we had to do lunch. Temecula has many nice wineries and we elected to have lunch at the Wilson Creek Winery. No, this was not the bottle we had at lunch!

It was a good lunch with some good vino

Elizabeth arrived later that evening.

Most of us had a first time experience the next morning. We got to visit an alpaca ranch and actually touch, feed, pet and talk to them. It was such fun for all of us!

The girls were waiting for our arrival because that was the signal that they got to go into the pasture and have some food.

Running to get dibs on the best spot in the pasture. This little one was so ecstatic that she romped and jumped for several minutes. She was a real kick (no pun intended).

Alpacas certainly aren’t camera shy. Sherry has a new friend!

I look a bit hesitant here but they were very gentle with us and each other.

This llama is known as the baby sitter. She protects the other girls and makes sure everyone is cared for. She reminds me a bit of the “push-me-pull-you” from “Dr. Dolittle.”

The other guard/caretakers are two big Great Pyrenees dogs. They are also used in North America as livestock guardians. I wouldn’t mess with these dogs but they were pretty mellow while we were around. The alpacas were recently sheared and that’s why it looks like little waves in their coats.

Just restin’, Mom.

Nancy, Shiloh Springs co-owner, showed us some fiber and items she has made.

One of the things she does with the wool is called felting. She makes a design with the different colors of wool and then lays it out on a piece of silk and the wool/yarn strands somehow hook onto the silk. One doesn’t need any glue to make this work. This picture shows the outside (the farthest away) and the inside (nearest).

A vest made with the felting method.

Not only did we get to see the alpaca products but we got a tour of the other ranch areas, such as their veterinary facilities and a work place to make more products. Nancy was a foster mom to a pregnant cat and Diana is holding one of the offspring. You can see some of the many prize winning ribbons on the wall behind Diana.

Elizabeth has found a new alpaca buddy.

The girls like the tasty leaves on the trees in the pasture and reach up to get them.

Multiple photos were taken of us in this pose with the girls and not one of them has everybody looking in one direction. We all had such fun with these animals that were a bit shy with us at first but they allowed us to pet as well as feed them. Maybe we were all alpaca whisperers.

I loved the cute faces of these animals. Personally, I could have spent a few more hours with them as it seemed that all of them were curious and wanted to be friends at one time or another.

We zoomed off to another Temecula winery to have lunch and proceeded to get a selfie of the entire group just as a tiny breeze came up to toss the hair.

We missed those who were not able to join us and hope you will be able to come next year to frolic in Murrieta/Temecula. Dot is a gracious hostess and we truly appreciate all she did to prepare for us.  Thanks to those of you who sent pictures.  It’s great to see other people’s photo views.  Just one more thing.  We have known each other for more than 55 years and have been getting together as adults for many years.  I think it’s marvelous and extraordinary to have this unconditional friendship and still be able to get together to chat, share, laugh and enjoy each other’s company.