Monday, March 31, 2014

Memory Tees

My newest souvenir tee-shirt, from Kartchner Caverns in 2014.
And this was my souvenir tee from Kartchner Caverns in 2005
It has long been my tradition to buy tee-shirts for myself and my children as souvenirs any time we travel. I didn't realize until a few months ago how many tees I had accumulated in this manner over the years!
And so I thought I would share these little pieces of vacations past . . .
TUCSON, Arizona
Tucson 2005
Funny story about this tee, which I got during the same trip as the 2005 Kartchner Caverns tee-shirt above:
I'd been really sick for months before this trip, pretty much "out of it." When we arrived at the resort I discovered I'd left ALL my clothes at home, hanging on a door frame in our bedroom. So we shopped at a local Ross store and I bought a couple of outfits (including this tee) to get me through the 5-day trip. The tee-shirt says "California," but I'll always remember it from Tucson, when I arrived there with nothing but the clothes on my back!
DISNEYLAND - Anaheim, California
Disneyland 1994
Mark and I took Sarah (age 4) and Jacob (almost 3) to Disneyland
after attending the Butler Family Reunion in Visalia, California.
Then we spent a few days in San Diego with my cousin Rick and his sweet wife Leslie.
Disneyland 2004
I was at Disneyland when it opened in 1955! I was 11 months old
when my parents took me there in August of 1955.
Mark and I took Sarah (age15), Jacob (age 13), and Dylan (age 7)
to Disneyland and a resort on the beach in Oceanside during Christmas Break 2003-04.
Disneyland 2007
This was our first family trip with me as a single mom, after my 2006 divorce from Mark.
It was July 2007, with me (age 52), Sarah (age 17), Jacob (age 16), and Dylan (age 10).
Las Vegas 2003
Before Siegfried and Roy's deadly tiger attack . . .
Las Vegas 2006
This well-loved tee-shirt was worn out, fell apart, and then was thrown out long ago.
Thus, there is no current close-up.
Las Vegas 2013
Our most recent family vacation!
BRANSON, Missouri
Silver Dollar City theme park in Branson 2009
 The kids and I drove all the way to Branson and spent a week there,
then drove to the Aurora, MO, home of my brother and sis-in-law, Darryl and Tamera.
We spent 6 days with them before traveling to Wichita Falls, Texas, for 2 days
to see my nephew D.J. who was at the Air Force base there.
That was a 17-day vacation road trip!
HONEYMOON - Alaskan Cruise and Oregon
Ketchikan, Alaska, 2010
Ed and I took an 8-day Alaskan cruise up the Inside Passage 5 weeks after we got married,
June 27 to July 4, 2010. It was a magical honeymoon and I'll treasure the memories always.
We stopped at Ketchikan, Juneau, and Skagway, as well as Sawyer Glacier.
I believe Ed and I got our tees in Ketchikan, and I got souvenir tees for my kids in Juneau.
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 2010
On our way back to Seattle, Washington, our ship made a final stop at Victoria,
the capital city of British Columbia. Ed and I spent a great day there.
Tillamook, Oregon, 2010
From Seattle, Ed and I drove to Portland, Oregon, where he'd lived 1999-2007.
From July 4-7, I saw the places he'd lived and ate and worked and played,
and I met his friends, and we attended a music festival on the Willamette River.
One day we drove down the Oregon coast, and we stopped at the cheese factory
in Tillamook to take the cheese-making tour. The ice cream at the end was amazing. Fun!
Cheyenne 2010
After our marriage, Ed and I drove back and forth between Arizona and Wyoming
for many months to gradually move all his belongings from his home in Cheyenne.
On one trip we were shopping at his favorite hunters' store in Cheyenne,
 and he bought me this cute tee-shirt.
Wyoming is known for its great hunting, and Ed is an avid huntsman.
ESTES PARK, Colorado
Estes Park 2010
The summer before I met Ed, the kids and I planned a family vacation to Colorado.
We'd never been there before, and Jacob's friend had moved there and wanted him to visit.
We decided on the little town of Estes Park at the foot of the Rocky Mountains.
Ed and I were still newlyweds, so he joined us on this July 2010 vacation.
It came to be known fondly as the "Family Vacation from Hell."
Ed did not find traveling with teens to his liking, and he made his feelings clear.
That's why he didn't join us on our 2013 trip to Las Vegas.
Estes Park 2010
I actually bought both these tees in a little shop in downtown Estes Park.
It was a two-for-one sale. The kids and Ed got multiple tees, too!
Manhattan 2012
In 2012, we spent the entire month of July on the road, traveling to New York and back.
Ed's mom paid for the trip so we could meet her family and see where she grew up.
Caryl, Ed, Dylan, and I made the trip in Ed's new truck, hauling our tiny fifth-wheel trailer.
It was a VERY long drive, both ways, with 4 people sharing a very small space.
There was a lot of friction and some unpleasantness, but I'd do it again.
We saw great places, had great experiences, and learned a lot.
Staten Island 2012
We spent a week in Canandaigua, upstate New York, where Caryl grew up.
We met her two sisters and little brother and their families.
We aso met her spry, 97-year-old mother!
Coney Island 2012
Ed, Dylan, and I left Caryl with her family and drove to New York City.
We spent 3 days there, riding the subway; seeing the Manhattan Temple;
riding the Staten Island Ferry past Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty,
and eating lunch on Staten Island. We also drove to Coney Island,
where I was able to wade in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in my life!
Palmyra 2012
The day before we left Canandaigua, we took the 20-minute drive north
from Canandaigua to Palmyra, New York, and saw the sights there,
including the Palmyra Temple and the Sacred Grove.
Palmyra is very important in the early history of the Mormon Church.
That night we saw the huge Hill Cumorah Pageant, which was impressive.
Niagara Falls 2012
From Canandaigua, we headed west again and stopped to see Niagara Falls.
I couldn't be in New York state and miss that! What power!
And we could see Canada right across the river.
From the falls, we headed south to the town of Franklinville
and saw the huge farm and rolling hills where Ed grew up. I loved that.
Nauvoo, Illinois 2012
On our way home, we visited all the Church historical sites along our route. 
We stopped in Kirtland, Ohio; and Nauvoo, Illinois (with a session in the Nauvoo Temple);
and Carthage, Illinois; and Adam-ondi-Ahman, Missouri; and Liberty, Missouri; 
and Far West, Missouri; and Independence, Missouri.
We also attended a session in the brand-new Kansas City Missouri Temple.
For all the places we visited, I only bought a tee-shirt in Nauvoo.
We spent 4 days there, and it was incredible despite the awful humidity.
I don't know how the early Saints did it!

ATLANTA, Georgia
Atlanta 2013
Last summer, Ed wanted to attend the big Primerica Convention in Atlanta.
I'd never been to Georgia, or any state in the South for that matter.
We had a good 6 days together there. We were able to spend some time sightseeing,
including a trip to the theme park at Stone Mountain.
I really never imagined it would be the last vacation Ed and I ever had together.
Atlanta 2013
Our Primerica group went out to dinner at Hard Rock Cafe one night.
That was great fun, and I got this tee to commemorate it.

GIFTS from My Husband
Bear Lake, Utah 2010
In August 2010, when Ed and I had been married for less than 3 months,
he returned to Cheyenne, Wyoming, without me.
Before our marriage, he was assistant Scoutmaster to a Scout troop in Cheyenne.
I had just returned to work with the start of the new school year,
and he wanted to go with his Boy Scouts to their week-long Scout Camp
in Bear lake, Utah, so I sent him with my blessing.
Ed was gone for 17 days, but when he returned he brought me this tee.
I was so touched by his thoughfulness.

Scottsdale, Arizona 2013
One last, miscellaneous tee-shirt. Not really from a vacation, but
we got it at the Scottsdale resort where we were attending a Primerica conference.
I do love my bling! Ed bought me matching earrings, too.
It's too bad our financial opportunities with this company
have been washed away in the tsunami of our divorce.

Now you know why my big closet is so stuffed!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Along the Homeward Road

Sunday, March 23, 2014: Jacob, Danielle, and Dylan kick back
before repacking on our final morning at the resort.

At last, the final post about our Tucson trip. We made the most of our final leg of the journey, doing some sightseeing on the way home.

The placement of our condo at the resort brought me bittersweet memories.
Our balcony overlooked this studio condo, which happens to be where
Ed and I stayed during our first visit to this resort together in 2011.
Since we share the same birthdate, September 1st, we always went away together
for Labor Day weekend. I do miss the good times we shared, just the two of us.

We stopped for lunch at this rest stop about 12 miles south of Globe, AZ.

On our final morning, I prepared an enormous breakfast of scrambled eggs and chorizo, hash browns, and English muffins. That meant we weren't even close to being hungry for lunch when we had to check out of the resort at noon.

Dylan, Sarah, Danielle, and Jacob after arriving at the rest stop.

So, before we left, we made ourselves huge sandwiches on nutty whole-grain bread, with sliced roast beef, buffalo chicken, and provolone from the deli, and topped with my beloved alfalfa sprouts! Then we placed them in storage containers I'd brought along and put them in the ice chest. We also mixed up some toasted onion dip in a carton of sour cream.

Doing lunch as a preplanned picnic also meant we didn't have to stop anywhere to shop on the Sabbath.

Danielle and Jacob get ready to chow down.

Then we looked for a good place to stop and picnic on the road home. Since we were driving across a windswept, dry, inhospitable desert under an unforgiving sun, it took a while before we were able to stop, around 2pm. I had noticed this rest stop with covered picnic tables on our way to Tucson, so at least I knew it was coming as we passed several unprotected areas.

Danielle, Jacob, and Dylan enjoy the shade.

We enjoyed a nice, long break while visiting and eating our sandwiches, chips and dip, and leftover potato salad. Even under the canopy, we wrestled with the wind, which kept sweeping our bags and containers off the table.

Dylan, Danielle, Jacob, and Sarah prepare to start eating.

This area is high desert and the start of the transition between the deserts of the Tucson area and the forests we call home. The surrounding scenery of distant hills and mountains covered with short, bushy trees and shrubs was pleasant.

Check out the scenery beyond Dylan!

This picture is deceptive. It looks like a nearby hill covered by little bushes.
That's actually on the other side of a canyon, and those are trees taller than a man.

This is the edge of our rest stop, where there's a steep drop to the canyon below.

Looking down into the canyon from the ledge at the top.

Dylan was looking over the edge and suddenly exclaimed, "Oh my gosh! There's a car wreck down there." We all hurried to have a look. There was indeed something large, rectangular, and metal toward the bottom of the canyon, which could have been a car.

Since Dylan took my camera, I had to use my cell phone camera for this shot.
Not too clear, but you can see his head and black-shirted shoulders
above the tall grass just right of the center.
(Remember, you can always double-click photos in this blog to enlarge any picture.)
Dylan grabbed my camera and announced his intention to climb down to the canyon floor and check out the car. I think he was half-hoping there would be rotting corpses inside. I was more worried about him running into rattlesnakes and scorpions.

In the end, Dylan decided not to go all the way to the bottom, but he did get close enough to snap the picture above and confirm that it was indeed a car that was resting on its roof. This car wreck obviously happened a very long time ago. There wasn't much left but the rusting hull.

A view of the Salt River at the bottom of Salt River Canyon.

After packing away our lunch leftovers, we drove on to Globe and stopped for a short, much-needed bathroom break (no facilities at the rest stop). Then we jumped back in our cars and started the final part of our journey, which would lead us down into the bottom of Salt River Canyon and then up and out the other side.

The old, unused bridge over the Salt River, alongside the new bridge.
At far left, you can see Danielle walking along the short wall toward the defunct restrooms.

Salt River Canyon is roughly half-way between Globe and home. We were almost there when Jacob called my cell and asked if we'd mind stopping at the old rest stop at the bottom of the canyon. We were glad to do so. We have traveled this old road many, many times since my children were babies, and this stop holds many memories for us. We have lots of pictures of the kids there as little tykes.
For an example from 13 years ago, click on the link below:
Danielle, Dylan, Jacob, and Sarah at the river's edge.
It's a long, tiring stair climb of hundreds of steps to the bottom and back up,
so this old gal opted to stay topside and click pictures from above.

The Salt River is the division between two Apache reservations: San Carlos to the south, and Fort Apache to the north. This rest stop is in San Carlos territory. Then we cross the bridge into Fort Apache and drive through their extensive lands until we almost reach Show Low, not too far from our own community.

Sarah, Danielle, Jacob, and Dylan wave to the camera.
After I yelled, "Wave to your mom!"

I don't recall what year they built the restrooms here at the bottom of the canyon, but we loved it. It was the perfect place to stop for a bathroom break, especially when you were traveling with three young children.
Unfortunately, the facility was closed and locked up several years ago when federal and state funding was severely cut. We had to find our way around the blockades to get in. There are no "No Trespassing" or "Keep Out" signs, thankfully.

Some dainty little flowers among the wild grasses.

From the bluff where we parked our cars, we could see
what appeared to be a white-water rescue training exercise going on,
over on the Fort Apache side of the Salt River.

After this final adventure, we completed our trip, arriving at home around 5:30. We dropped Sarah off at her house so she could pick up Chris, and then they came over to join us all for our traditional Sunday dinner. Ryan and Shera had prepared a meal for us of--you guessed it-deli sub sandwiches with chips and dip! (As for me, I finished off the last bit of leftover potato salad, but I couldn't eat one bite more for the rest of the night!)

A beautiful shot of the walls of Salt River Canyon, where we still had to drive up and out.

Then we enjoyed watching Sarah's DVD of the new Disney film "Frozen." The perfect way to unwind and conclude a wonderful weekend together!

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Friday, March 28, 2014: Chris's mom, Brenda, makes such creatively cute cakes
for Chris's birthday every year! This year Chris is very into fishing.
Love how she put Chris's face on the little fisherman!

We'll take a break from the Tucson story today, to share instead some pictures from the birthday celebration of my son-in-law, Chris, who turned 36 yesterday. Last night we were invited over to the home of Chris's parents, Fred and Brenda, for a barbecue and family party. We had a great time, along with Chris's aunts and uncles and cousin Brandi.

I tried to take this shot without the flash so the candles would be brighter.

The burgers were juicily yummy, and I swear Brenda makes the best coleslaw in all the world! I didn't sample the cake and ice cream, though. After stuffing myself until it hurt to even think of food during our Tucson trip last week, I went back to my controlled-carb way of eating on Monday. I lost 6 lbs in the first 3 days and felt less bloated and achy right away.

My hand-dipped chocolate-covered strawberries (before the shells hardened).
They didn't turn out very pretty, but they're awfully tasty!

To avoid the temptation to eat cake and ice cream, I brought my own sugar-free dessert. I enjoyed 8 large, juicy strawberries dipped in sugar-free chocolate made from melted Ross dark chocolate bars. Delicious! So I didn't feel like I was missing out.

Sarah and Mary with the birthday boy.
Chris got lots of fun gifts. Most of it was related to fishing, but he also got lots of candy and toys. As for me, I shopped the Easter aisles at Walmart and got him a water pistol full of jelly beans, and a walking chicken that poops gum. He loved them. Chris may be 36 now, but he's still a big kid at heart.

Ryan and Shera with Chris and their gift to him,
a very nice tackle box and some fishing knives.

Jacob and Danielle made it for the first 45 minutes of the party, just long enough to have dinner with us, but they had to leave early so Jacob could get to work. I wish I'd remembered to get their pictures before they left!

I was also proud of Dylan, who remembered to call Chris from San Diego and wish his brother-in-law a happy birthday. I didn't even have to remind him! (Dylan is traveling in California with the high school orchestra and choirs for 5 days, and will return tomorrow night.)
Happy birthday to my favorite (and only) son-in-law! Hope it was an amazing day!