Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Long Road Home

Sorry, folks, I meant for this post to appear beneath the post below ("More in Missouri") so they would be in chronological order, but Blogspot tricked me and I can't find a way to reverse them.  Sigh...

Saturday, July 21:

Despite Ed's determination, he finally had to stop at a truck stop somewhere in Nebraska around 4am.  We slept in the trailer for about 2 hours before waking and getting back on the road.

Dying corn along the highway in Nebraska.

Nebraska is a very wide state, so we spent quite a long time driving across it.  I would have taken more pictures, but my camera battery decided to die not long after the sun came up.  Since this was the first time I'd ever been in Nebraska, that was very disappointing.

Dead corn along the highway in Nebraska.

Our long road trip was very instructive about the United States.  I had no idea how much agriculture there was in each of the states we passed through until I saw it with my own eyes.  I'd always pictured Nebraska as kind of barren, but we drove past mile after mile of crops, especially corn.
Unfortunately, as Ed the farmer's son pointed out, most of the crops we passed in every state were suffering from a nation-wide drought.  It was sad to see the corn stalks yellowing and drying, and heartbreaking to see the weakened soy plants' leaves turning over in an attempt to avoid the burning sun.  We also saw few herds of cattle in places where they should have been plentiful.  Not enough water and not enough feed corn available. 
Somewhere in Missouri, the radio announcer told us that 57% of the U.S. was under drought conditions.  We will all pay for it with higher prices for both vegetables and meats.  

Saturday, July 21 to Wednesday, July 25:
Wyoming and Colorado

An antelope alongside the highway in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Wyoming is also a very wide state, but it was still afternoon when we reached Cheyenne.  We stopped for gas and Ed took the truck through a car wash before we drove on to Caryl's house in Carr, Colorado, about 30 minutes south of Cheyenne.
We unloaded our stuff and enjoyed sleeping in actual beds in actual rooms for the next 4 nights.  During the days we traveled back and forth between Carr and Cheyenne, as well as Fort Collins and Wellington, Colorado.  Ed took care of some business in town and around the house and he visited with friends, including his old high school buddy Lance, while Caryl shopped and lunched with her friends from the Carr area.  Dylan helped out with mowing Caryl's property, went along on some of our visits, and entertained himself the best he could while anxiously looking forward to getting home.  Me, I blogged at every opportunity, which were far too few!

The skyline of downtown Denver, Colorado.

On Wednesday we finally turned toward home.  After stopping for lunch at Jimmy John's (sub sandwiches) in Fort Collins, we were on our way by 1:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 26:
In Our Own Beds!

Ed drove straight through from far north Colorado to our little mountain home in eastern Arizona.  It was 1:30 a.m. Arizona time when we arrived, meaning we made the trip in about 13 hours, which is record time hauling a fifth-wheel trailer!
We dropped off Caryl and her bags at her apartment, and when we arrived at our house we unloaded only the most basic necessities from the truck and trailer.  We were all in bed by 2am, and we relished being in our own comfortable beds at last.  It was heavenly to be home!

More in Missouri

Okay, here I am at last with the final photos from our New York trip back in July.  When I last posted about it, we had visited Carthage Jail in Illinois, and Adam-ondi-Ahman and Far West in Missouri on Thursday, July 19...

Friday, July 20:
The Liberty Jail

We weren't in a huge hurry to leave the Basswood Campground/RV Resort in Platte City, just north of Kansas City, Missouri.  They had a nice laundry facility and really great showers that were part of bathrooms just like the ones at home, so we spent a leisurely morning doing laundry and showering and putting on makeup.  Okay, that last one was just me. 

A cutaway view of the reconstructed Liberty Jail,
where Joseph Smith and his companions were kept below ground.

It was just a bit after noon when we left and headed to Liberty, Missouri, to see another jail where the Prophet Joseph Smith spent some time, from 1 Dec 1838 to 6 April 1839.  It was here that he received several revelations which are recorded as LDS scripture in Sections 121, 122, and 123 in the Doctrine and Covenants.  (Section 121 is one of my particular favorites.)

Mannequins portray the men held in the "dungeon" jail cell.
On 27 Oct 1838, Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs had signed the infamous "Mormon Extermination Order," saying, "The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace."  Then General Samuel Lucas, leading a militia of 2,500 men, warned the saints in Far West that they would "massacre every man, woman, and child" if Joseph Smith did not give himself up.
Joseph Smith, Parley Pratt, Sidney Rigdon, Lyman Wight, and George Robinson surrendered themselves on Nov. 1st.  General Lucas immediately held a secret (and illegal) court martial, after which he issued an order to General Alexander Doniphan to "take Joseph Smith and the other prisoners into the public square at Far West, and shoot them at 9 o'clock tomorrow morning."
General Doniphan's response: "It is cold-blooded murder. I will not obey your order. My brigade shall march for Liberty [township] tomorrow morning at 8 o'clock; and if you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God."
This  heavy, double-thick jail door was built to be impenetrable!

Ultimately, the Mormons in Missouri were stripped of their homes and property and forced to leave the state under threat of death.  Joseph and his friends were allowed to escape and join the saints in Illinois, with the help of one of their guards.

Still Friday, July 20:
Independence, Missouri

20 July 2012: Dylan (age 15) with a display of the Nauvoo Temple
 in the Visitors Center. 

From the Liberty Jail, we headed to Independence, Missouri, another site where land was dedicated for a future temple.  There is a Visitors Center there, which we toured briefly because we wanted to get to the Kansas City Temple in time for their final session of the day. 
It was here that we suddenly realized it was Caryl's 77th birthday!  We had all lost track of the date by then, until I saw it on a calendar in the Visitors Center!

The Community of Christ temple in Independence,
where their church headquarters are located.
Right across the street from the LDS Visitors Center is the temple of the Community of Christ church, formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (RLDS).  It's beautiful in its unusual sort of way.

And still Friday, July 20:
Kansas City, Missouri

The beautiful new temple in Kansas City, Missouri,
which had only been in operation for 2 months!

By the time we finally reached the Kansas City Temple, it was about 6pm.  We parked at the far end of the parking lot and made ourselves a snack before dressing up in our Sunday-go-to-meetin' clothes.  Ed, Caryl, and I attended the very last session of the day, at 7:40, while Dylan participated in baptisms in another part of the temple.

It was dark by the time we came out of the temple sometime after 9:30.
It was fun to attend a temple that was still so new.  There was such a sense of excitement among the patrons and the temple workers, who were still a bit nervous about performing the temple ordinances properly.  The interior of the temple was gorgeous and, as always, serenely peaceful.
After we left the temple, we took Caryl out to a late dinner to celebrate her birthday.  We toyed briefly with the idea of finding a place to spend the night, but by now we were quite anxious to reach our next destination--Caryl's house in Colorado--and enjoy a few days of rest before the final leg of the journey.  Ed decided he was up for a full night of driving, so we turned away from Kansas City and headed north to Nebraska.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


Light rye toast with fried eggs over easy for Ed; 7-grain toast with scrambled eggs for Mary.

On Monday, our final day at the resort near Tucson, Ed used up the last of the eggs, juice, and sausage to make us a lovely breakfast.  For lunch, we packed delicious smoked turkey, black forest ham, and provolone sandwiches to eat on the road after we checked out of our condo at noon.

The little laundry room found in most WorldMark condos.

After breakfast, I gathered up all of our dirty laundry from the weekend and did 2 loads of wash in the little washer and dryer in our condo.  I love going home with clean clothes to unpack and put away instead of laundry to be done!  (Yep, definitely a resort kind of gal...)

The packing process proceeds on our resort bed.  I always pack on a bed. 
It's easier for me to see at a glance what's done and what still needs to be packed.

While the laundry was going through its cycles, I worked on getting all our stuff packed back up and ready for the 3.5-hour trip home.  As the laundry finished, it was quick work to fold it and pack it.

The view from our bedroom window in the condo.

Finally, while Ed loaded all of our stuff into the car, I took a long last look around.  Travel always evokes such mixed feelings in me.  I love traveling and seeing new places and I'm always sad to leave, yet I'm also anxious to return home to the people I miss and the bed that fits me like no other.

The hens were busy while we were gone.

We were on the road around 12:30, so we arrived at home a little after 4:00.  The first thing Ed wanted to do was check on his chickens and his garden.  Sarah and Chris came over to care for the chickens everyday while we were gone, so they were in fine shape.
I don't think I ever reported on our hatchlings.  Back on June 29th I did a post about the 7 Easter Egger chicken eggs Ed was incubating, which were due to hatch the day after we left on our New York vacation.  He gave them to Leevi, the neighbor boy who took care of our garden and chickens while we were gone for most of the month.
Six of the seven eggs did hatch successfully on July 3rd, as expected.  Leevi took good care of them and still has four of them.  Unfortunately, a few weeks ago some kind of animal got into their coop, killing two and injuring one.  Luckily, although Ed has seen these chicks, I've never laid eyes on them, so it's a bit easier to handle the news of their deaths.  I'm just glad we have our rooster, Percy, who aggressively challenges all threats to our flock.
Meanwhile, Leevi started another batch of 7 eggs incubating for us, and they should have hatched soon after our return from New York.  For some reason, none of the eggs hatched.  So Ed waited a couple of weeks and started incubating yet another batch.  However, again, not one of them hatched. 
We aren't sure why we had such good success with the first set of eggs and none since then.  It's now too late in the season to start another batch incubating.  The chicks would still be too small to handle the cold next month when the chill weather hits.  We will try again in the spring.

3 Sept 2012: Ed with his giant zucchinis!

Ed found that his garden had also been busy in our absence.  He found 3 zucchinis about the size of baseball bats!  They were fed to the chickens, who made short work of them!

Normal-sized zucchini, sentenced to the grater.

I prefer regular-sized zucchini to saute in butter and top with melted cheddar cheese.  And nowadays a lot of zucchini is getting shredded and packed in quart-size freezer bags to await Jacob's homecoming.

Grated zucchini, one frozen and one headed to the freezer.
We have about 16 cups of frozen, shredded zucchini now.

In an email last month, Jacob said the first two things he plans to do when he gets home are do some baking and watch a movie with the family.  He especially wants to bake some of his famous zucchini bread to share with us and friends he misses, and he asked me to put aside some zucchini for him.  It won't be in season by the time he returns on November 12th.
He said he actually baked some zucchini bread in August.  He left the room, and when he returned he discovered his companion had almost finished it off!

You can probably tell, the cherry tomato plant is the one on the left.

Upon our return home on Monday, we also found the tomato plants had kicked their production into high gear!  We are now eating tomatoes in salads, on sandwiches and burgers, topped with melted blue cheese, added to sauces and soups, as toppings on omelets and burritos, and as snacks.

On the left is one small regular cucumber and six lemon cucumbers.

One new surprise is the lemon cucumber.  When a frost killed off most of our garden in May, only one of the cucumber plants survived.  When we went to replace the dead plants, the nursery had only one kind available: the lemon cucumber.
We gave it a try, since we were out of options.  It turned out the lemon cukes were more hardy and prolific than the regular ones.  On the outside they are quite odd, with tough, prickly skins.  Inside, though, they are exactly like a usual cucumber, except shorter and wider.  The flavor and texture are just the same.  Very good in salads, and Ed enjoys just peeling and eating them.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Another Birthday in Tucson

Entrance to the WorldMark Rancho Vistoso Resort in Oro Valley, AZ.
The resort is about 8 miles north of the northernmost border of Tucson.

Last year Ed and I celebrated our mutual birthday (September first) by spending Labor Day weekend at a resort near Tucson.  We had such a nice time there that we decided to do it again this year.  There's always plenty to do in the Tucson area, so we weren't worried about boredom!

My little red car parked just outside our 1-bedroom condo on the ground floor.

As always, our condo is comfortable and lovely.  After 24 days in a fifth-wheel trailer during our New York trip in July, this condo is downright luxurious!  I find I truly am more of a resort kind of gal!

The back patio and grill of our condo.

It's a little ironic to leave our cool mountain home and come to the hot southern Arizona desert at this time of year.  We were almost the only car on the road heading south as we drove here on Friday evening.  On the other hand, we passed long, long lines of vehicles heading north toward the White Mountains, hundreds of flatlanders wanting to get out of the heat for the holiday weekend. 
I think the temperature topped out at 111 degrees for our birthday yesterday, with a touch of humidity.  It was bearable, though.  Most of the time we were in air conditioned buildings, but by 4:30 we were outdoors for most of the evening and it wasn't bad.  Fortunately, a huge bank of clouds had sailed in and mostly hid the sun, keeping it from crisping us.

The living room and the patio door inside our condo.

The fireplace, dining room, and front door inside our condo.

Our efficient little kitchen, with a full stove, fridge, and dishwasher.
We don't even have a dishwasher at home.

The bedroom has a king-size bed and a flat-screen TV.

1 Sept 2012: Ed enjoys his birthday breakfast at Jerry Bobs.

One thing we enjoy on our vacations is eating out.  The staff at the resort recommended 3 different places for breakfast, with an emphasis on 2 in particular.  Ed chose Jerry Bobs.  We knew it would be good when we walked in and found the place packed!

The WalMart in Oro Valley has a southwestern facade.
After breakfast, we headed over to the nearest WalMart to stock up for the weekend.  For food and drink, all we'd brought with us from home was some water.

These two water tanks near WalMart were painted to look like barrel cactus.

After shopping, we returned to the condo to load up the fridge and cupboards with supplies.

The Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures

Our first sightseeing activity of the day was a museum filled with tiny things.  I have been fascinated with miniatures since I was a child peeping into a little white box my mom used to have filled with tiny coke bottles, miniature animal figures, and other itty-bitty things.  I would collect them myself if I had anywhere to keep and display them.

The entrance is designed to make you feel like you're shrinking
as you approach the four-times-the-normal-size entrance door.

We were stunned when we arrived and found a big sign stating that the parking lot was full.  The place was crawling with people.  I'd expected a sleepy little place with a few people moving quietly among the dollhouses, but I was wrong.

A tiny fairy scene.

As it turned out, September first is not just Ed's and my birthdays.  Yesterday was also the third birthday of the museum, and they were commemorating the day with free admission.  That's why they were so much busier than usual.  It was great to get in for free on our birthday (admission is normally $9 per adult), but we did have to go elbow-to-elbow with the crowds.

The fourth floor in a miniature 4-story department store.
Notice the hanging light fixture, the ice cream bar and stools, and on the right
the glass display case and shelves filled with tiny cakes, cookies, candies, and donuts.

I was afraid Ed would find this extremely boring, more of a girl thing, but he was as fascinated with it as I was.  Although, of course, his interest was more on the technical end, considering the exacting work and dedicated hours that go into such detailed recreations.

A cozy bedroom and living room scene.

A closeup of the bedroom scene.  Notice the tiny makeup tubes, lotion bottles,
nail polish, and tissue box on the desk, and the pantyhose on the stool. 
Also notice the scary giant with the enormous camera reflected in the mirror.

1 Sept 2012: Mary and Ed on their birthday (Mary's 58th and Ed's 52nd)
in the Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures.

Another bedroom scene.  At times the work was so realistic that I felt like a Peeping-Tom
gazing into someone's home rather than looking at a simple dollhouse scene.

A makeup table is nestled into a recessed area of the room.  The tiny furniture is the star of the show,
but the architecture of the buildings and rooms is just as incredible.

I took more than 60 pictures of these miniature scenes, which was challenging since they were all behind glass and had to be shot without a flash.  I hope these few can convey how amazing it all was.

A modern living room scene.  Most of the miniatures I enjoyed best were empty of dolls.
Somehow the miniature people in the scenes evoked that unnatural "dollhouse" feeling.

In the final room of the museum, the "Enchanted Realm," this "Snow Village Under Glass"
was built under the floor where we could look down on it from above.  Very cool!

Trail Dust Town: A Museum and Good Eatin'

Ed sits outside the "train depot," which is actually The Chocolate Depot.
When we first arrived, we enjoyed orange cream sodas,
chocolate dipped Oreo cookies (him) and pecan fudge (me).

From the museum, we drove just a few miles to Trail Dust Town, sort of a miniature western town that's about two square blocks in size.  In the 1950s, the buildings of Trail Dust Town were part of a movie set for a Glenn Ford film that was never finished.  When the set was abandoned, it was converted into a little shopping mall.
A gazebo in the center of "town."

Now Trail Dust Town has a little train ride, a historical 1920s carousel and small ferris wheel (with covered wagons for the seats), a museum, a wild west stunt show, and a couple of restaurants.

The streets and shops of Trail Dust Town.
After we refreshed ourselves with some sweets that are not compatible with our diets, we wandered around to see the different shops, snap some pictures, and have some fun.  We even bought each other birthday gifts from the little shops.  Ed got me a beautiful necklace I admired in the Rita Watters Art Gallery (seen in a photo below, it was crafted by Rita herself), and I bought Ed a jar of jalapeno jelly in the Wild West Hot Sauce shop.
Ed lands in lock-up.

How do I look as the Annie Oakley type?

Ed's kind of car...not!
Museum of the Horse Soldier

Ed is interested in all things military, so we took a 30-minute tour through a small museum in Trail Dust Town, the Museum of the Horse Soldier.  This museum houses a substantial collection of artifacts related to the cavalry, both the soldiers and the horses.  There were uniforms worn by the men and the horses, including the branding irons used to label the horse "US" or "IC" (inspected and condemned, meaning not good enough for government service).

Ed with cavalry unifroms from World Wars I and II.

They also had military veterinarian supplies and artillery and assorted horse gear on display.  It was a small museum, but very interesting to see these wars from a whole different perspective.

Mary gets to know one of the museum's horses.  Okay, he wasn't really real,
but you thought he was for a minute there, didn't you?
Pinnacle Peak

Also in Trail Dust Town is a steak house called Pinnacle Peak.  Although I'd never eaten here before, I have many wonderful memories of Pinnacle Peak.  You see, there is a Pinnacle Peak in Garden Grove, California, and it was an annual tradition to eat there during the 8 years my family lived in nearby Yorba Linda, CA.

1 Sept 2012: Ed sits among the cut-off ties while we await our meal at Pinnacle Peak.

Every spring, as soon as our parents got their income tax returns, they treated our family of seven out to enjoy the delicious T-bone steaks and cowboy beans served up at Pinnacle Peak.  One of the highlights of a visit to this restaurant was their practice of cutting off the tie of anyone who had the nerve to wear one to this cowboy-style establishment!

1 Sept 2012: Mary (age 58) and her new necklace at Pinnacle Peak.
Apparently this restaurant in Tucson is the original Pinnacle Peak, and I was delighted to learn that it continues the old tradition of tie-cuttin'.  I felt very much at home among those thousands of dangling tie parts!
A cowboy leads our fellow diners in an off-key rendition of "Happy Birthday to You."

Ed mentioned to our waiter that he and I were celebrating our mutual birthday, and as we finished our meal the waiter showed up with a cowboy friend, who announced to the restaurant that we were both celebrating our 19th birthdays that day.  Soon they had the whole place singing to us.

The cowboy (a performer in the later Wild West show) and our waiter.

Not only did we get a song, but they also brought us free bowls of ice cream drizzled with chocolate syrup, candles and all.

Our free birthday ice cream.

Inside the restaurant they had the actual costume worn by John Wayne in the movie Big Jake.

Wild West Stunt Show

We ended the evening by watching a wild west show that was filled with gunfire, dynamite blasts, spraying water, and slapstick silliness.  It was good fun and a great way to end the evening.

We were safely back in our air conditioned condo by 8:30, tired but happy with a full day's worth of fun memories together.  It was another great birthday in Tucson.  I'm so glad we came!