The Movers Cometh

Sunday morning we went to church at Bethany Presbyterian Church whose pastor is Sarah Wiles, @sarahwinsett, an old friend from Twitter. It’s a nice little church with a lot of energy and seems to be outwardly focused. It’s very different from Preston Hollow, but still is identifiable as Presbyterian – not that I’m looking to recreate PHPC here. Several of the members invited us to go to lunch with them and we had an enjoyable time at BJ’s. The rest of the day was spent resting up for the arrival of our furniture on Monday morning.
The truck arrived right on time at 9:00 o’clock. And three and a half hours later we were covered up with boxes and furniture.




I was able to get the bedroom cleared out enough to be able to find the beds.



My dresser sans mirror is in the entry hall because that’s the only wall long enough for it.



Big Al is working like a Trojan to get the kitchen unpacked so we can at least eat breakfast and supper.


We ordered Papa John’s for supper, so we’re settling in.


There’s not enough room to cuss a cat without getting fur in your mouth, but it should be better once we get all the boxes unpacked.
This may be the last post for a while, since all our waking hours are going to be devoted to finding the floor.

Limenal Space

I think I last wrote on Wednesday morning and here it is – Saturday afternoon. We’ve had an interesting three days, meeting lots of folks and beginning to get acclimated to the area. I may have said that we bought beds on Tuesday. On Wednesday, we found Target and bought sheets, pillowcases and comforters. We got moved out of the guest quarters and into our apartment as soon as the beds were delivered on Thursday morning. We borrowed two straight chairs from the storage room and an old card table, so we’re back to living with a minimum of stuff. Happily there are lots of public sitting rooms and garden rooms and sun rooms in this building, so we can always find a comfortable place to sit. There is also a big flat-screen TV in one of those rooms, so we can sit there and watch the news and Rachel Maddow every evening.

The main lobby.

The sunroom. On a nice day you can see the water.


Sitting room/parlor.

The library.


Game room/TV room/bar.
Apparently my plaintive cries about not being allowed to see the water were heard, and Thursday for lunch we went to Harbor Lights for lunch on the recommendation of Anna Carr.

We ate looking out over the bay. I had some of the most wonderful clam stew I’ve ever tasted. They make their clam chowder in the Manhattan style with a clear broth and lots of vegetables. But their clam stew is creamy with crisp bacon slices, red-skinned potatoes, leeks, and whole clams that you have to disinter from their shells. I have no idea what seasonings they used, but whatever it was, it was wonderful.

If you look very carefully in this next picture, behind the tallest building on the hill in the distance, you can see the top of Mt Rainier peeping out. It was beautifully clear and we could see it bathed in sunlight.

I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of watching the water with the cloud shadows moving over it.

Friday was a very social day. They have a continental breakfast every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the lobby sitting room, and because we were new, many of the residents came out to greet us and to sit and visit a while.


I hope I can start to learn and remember their names quickly, but they seem very forgiving when we forget.
For lunch we went to El Toro, the local Mexican Restaurant. I’m pretty sure we’ll miss good Mexican food more than anything else. This was edible, but VERY bland. Not what we’re used to at all.
Friday afternoon they had Happy Hour, again in the main lobby/sitting room. There was a special treat because they invited the folks from the duplexes to come, too. Apparently they have Happy Hour every Friday up in the Game room/bar, but this week they moved it downstairs to accommodate the additional people.




There were some men there, so Al was able to talk to several of them, and I think they were happy to spread the biddy drool around.
It’s very quiet around here on weekends, it seems, but Al and I went exploring down the peninsula as far as Lakewood and found the Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I got another set of sheets for my bed and we got a soap dish for the shower and some coat hangers. Apparently nobody has wire coat hangers around here, so we got some nice plastic ones, over protests from Al. He says his pants slide off of the plastic ones, but he’s going to just have to suck it up.
We found my twitter friend’s little Presbyterian Church, so we’ll probably go tomorrow if we get up in time. It rained all day yesterday, and all morning, but it looks like it’s trying to clear up now. Not sure what I have with me to wear to church if it is in the 50s at church time, but I guess they’ll have to be so glad to see us they won’t worry about what we’re wearing.

Into Tacoma

Monday morning we got up early and got on the road with a gentle rain falling. It was the first rain we had seen on the whole trip. Here I thought I was moving to the rainy part of the country, but I guess we weren’t there yet.
Although they say the central part of Washington is desert, we found it to be very green and fertile, with lots of irrigation and fields of grain. We stopped briefly at the overlook of the Columbia River Gorge, where there is not only hydroelectric power from the dams on the river, but also a lot of harvesting of wind power and experiments in solar generation.



With the dams, the Columbia River is more like a series of lakes than a river.

We drove over the Snoqualmie pass in the rain, with the temperature hovering in the 40s being thankful that it was not a little colder. The traffic on I-5 made me thankful that I wasn’t driving, and I immediately started plotting out how to avoid the highway. We’re beginning to find some ways to get around without getting into traffic.
Yesterday we got a look at our little one-bedroom temporary home. It’s pretty small, but, hopefully we won’t be there too long.

We have a nice gas log fireplace with room on the mantle to put the TV.

The kitchen is lovely with modern appliances, including a flat-top stove and refrigerator with ice maker. There’s also room in the corner of the kitchen to put our little table and chairs.

We have an over-under washer and dryer in the apartment.


The bedroom is pretty small, and the worse part is there is very little closet room, but can surely make do for a little while. There is a nice sized storage unit in the basement where we can put boxes until we’re ready to unpack them, so there is that.


The bathroom has a walk-in shower, so there’s no more crawling over the side of tubs. HOORAY!
We bought two beds yesterday afternoon, and opened a small checking account at a local bank so we could get a safe deposit box. As soon as we can get our furniture delivered, we’ll start the unpacking and settling in process.
I haven’t been down the hill to see the sound, yet, although we catch glimpses of it whenever we drive just about anywhere. The sun is out and birds are singing, and things are taking shape. I’m content.

Father’s Day

We took a day off (almost) today and just stayed in Spokane for an extra day. We didn’t want to arrive in Tacoma on a Sunday afternoon – we figured it wouldn’t be very convenient for the staff to have us arrive on their day off.
We also took advantage of the fact that there is considerably less traffic on a Sunday for us to drive around the old part of Spokane looking for addresses. I was able to look up the addresses where Papa and his family lived through the years because has the City Directories from 1900-1935 on line. They lived in about 10 different places between 1908 and 1925 – apparently apartments and small rent houses that aren’t there any more. In 1926 they moved to 928 W 17th Ave, and, lo and behold, the house is still there.

It’s a charming bungalow, and the lady who lives there now was out in the yard and saw me taking the picture. She said it was built in 1908, and there was one family that had lived there from 1940 through 1995. They bought it then and had raised their children there. She was entranced to learn some more of the history of her house and I was pleased to learn that many people had had happy lives there.

She also told us where Lewis and Clark High School was, and I remembered seeing Papa’s diploma from Lewis and Clark.

The lady told us they had just recently rehabbed and refurbished the school and it looked really good. It looked like they had been very true to the original design.

Unfortunately, the interstate runs right by its front door, so I wasn’t able to get a really good picture of the front, but there is a lovely green lawn at the side.


We also found the First Presbyterian Church, although I didn’t remember whether he was a Methodist or a Presbyterian when he was growing up.



After that, we went back to the motel and spent the afternoon resting up. We went to dinner at a very good steak place about 4:30 (we still haven’t gotten our stomachs acclimated to the new time zone), and we’re lucky we went then, because by the time we finished, there was a long wait.
Tomorrow we press on to Tacoma. The next issue of the blog should be pictures of our new home!

Moving right along…

Goodness gracious, I didn’t get a blog written on either Thursday or Friday, and here it is Saturday evening. I guess the reason I didn’t write anything is because we spent most of the last three days in the car.
Thursday we left St George and kept going north. There’s not much to look at until you get to Salt Lake City, and then there’s so much traffic it’s hard to look at anything except the other cars. We decided to press on to Pocatello, ID, for the night, and we got in there about 6 pm. That’s a long day for us.
We planned to get to Boise for Friday night, and while it’s not really that far, we also planned to stop and see the Craters of the Moon National Monument. There have been 13 separate volcanic events in the last 25,000 years – that’s right – about one every 2000 years. The last one was about 2000 years ago, so we can expect one any time. In fact, the ranger told us they are predicting one any time between the next 24 hours and 1000 years.
The Craters of the Moon is located on a Great Rift – an area of the earth’s crust that is weak enough to allow a series of eruptions and volcanic events periodically. This one is basalt based, so it throws out cinders like the volcanos in Hawaii. The active volcanos in Washington and Oregon are rhyolite based and throw out ash.


Looking across a cinder field. The big boulders are part of the cone that was blown off when the last eruption occurred.


You can see a cave or vent near the top of this spatter cone.

There’s an amazing amount of wildlife, even on this desolate landscape. You should be able to see a tiny ground squirrel on the path. There was a whole colony living in the crevices of the lava and foraging in the low-growing bushes.

There are also many plants that have taken up residence in the cinders. It’s amazing how life can restart in this burnt-out topography.









This cinder cone was almost completely covered with these tiny, low-growing white flowers. I was reminded of the little growing things that Frodo and Sam found just outside the gates to Mordor.







This little cone is called the Snow Cone because you can look down its throat and there always snow at the bottom of it.



This lava flow looked just like someone had dumped truckloads of black clay out and then run monster trucks through it. I’ve seen water soaked fields in Georgia or Alabama that looked just like this after a concert. You could get stuck in it up to your ankles. The only thing about this stuff was, it was hard, not viscous.




After spending a couple of hours in the lava beds, we pressed on to Boise. Funniest thing – the grass isn’t really blue there – it’s green like everywhere else.
Today we spent in the car all day driving to Spokane. I’m of the firm opinion that the engineers for the Department of Transportation in Oregon need to have their heads examined. They seem to think that it’s fun to go straight down a mountain, and then take a right-angle turn at the bottom. There was one three mile section that was so steep that they recommended the big trucks go between 30 and 16 miles per hour. Big Al took us down it standing on the brakes and trying desperately to keep the car under 85 miles per hour. We made it, but not without a few extra gray hairs.
I was able to visit the genealogy section at the Spokane Public Library. Spokane is where Papa was born and went through high school. We’ll drive around tomorrow and see if we can find the addresses where he lived as a boy. They are probably all gone by this time. Maybe I’ll get on the train after we get settled and come over here and spend a couple of days, particularly on the days when the Genealogy Society is meeting.

Zion Canyon National Park

Today we headed out to Zion Canyon. I didn’t mention in yesterday’s edition that we have already seen Zion. One of the ways to get back to St George from Bryce leads through Zion. It was after 5 pm yesterday when we left Bryce,and I asked Big Al which way he wanted to come back – the shorter in distance or the shorter in time? He chose the shorter in distance, based on the fact that there would probably be less traffic, and he would be able to go slower on any curvy, hilly parts of the road. I warned him that the road through Zion looked like it would be pretty curvy, but, that way was 25 miles shorter, so he chose that way. The first part of the journey was through a lovely green valley with farms and herds of cattle munching on knee-deep grass beside a meandering stream on US 89. Then in Mt Carmel we turned onto Utah state road 9, which turns into a federal highway as it traverses Zion, and then turns back into state road 9 on the other side of the park.
Everything was fine until we actually got into the canyon when Big Al claims the road was laid out by a two-year-old with a crayon.

It twists and turns in a descending series of hairpin curves with no guardrail in most places. And it might not have been so bad except we were there about 6:30 in the evening, and the windshield hadn’t been cleaned after driving all day, and we kept going out of bright, nay, even to say blinding, sun into deep shade. He did okay with all the curves, but when they threw in a mile long tunnel that had been blasted out of solid rock back in the thirties, with no lighting, except for occasional “windows” blasted in the walls, he almost lost it. He wasn’t sure whether it would be better to meet a happy camper with no lights in the tunnel, or on the road with no guard rail and a sheer drop of 100 feet into a rushing, boulder-strewn riverbed.
By the time we got out of the park and back on the sedate state road, I wasn’t sure whether I would get him to go back today or not. Only the promise that we would ride the shuttle bus in the canyon and he wouldn’t have to drive it convinced him to go back. That and the fact that we hadn’t taken any pictures yesterday, and he didn’t have any way to prove that he had been already!
Anyway, he agreed to go back today and we had a really good time until the heat hit us. By 11:30 the temperature was in the upper 90s and we were ready to come back to our nice, cool air conditioned motel room and wash clothes for probably the last time before we get to Tacoma.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We rode the shuttle up the canyon all the way to the end before we started taking pictures. Once again, the canyon is beautiful, but there’s too much of it to really be able to appreciate it. And there’s no way pictures can begin to convey the shear size and scope of the thing.











Proof that Big Al did agree to go up the canyon with me.





Blue, blue sky – red, red sandstone rocks – green, green cottonwood trees.



There were hikers walking along on top of the white part. I don’t even want to think about how they got up there.




The Virgin River that caused all of this.





Wonderful, cool spring water was available at this shuttle stop. And we drank plenty.





At the court of the patriarchs. In the next two pictures, the first two peaks are named Abraham, and Moses, and in the second picture you can just see Jacob (the white peak) peeping out from behind Maroni (the red mountain in front) named for one of the Mormon prophets.






On the way home, we passed through several lava fields, but we had forgotten to ask when in the timeline of the park the volcanic activity had occurred. If anyone knows, I’d love to hear from you. To our amateur geologist eyes it looked like the volcanic activity was on top of the Navajo sandstone that comprises the topology of the canyon, but there was no evidence of anything volcanic in the park.

Bryce National Park

After an in-depth look at distances and driving times, we decided it would be almost impossible to do both Bryce and Zion in the same day, so we extended our stay in St George by an extra day. We also decided that since Bryce was further away it would be best to go there first. That way we could do Zion on Wednesday and (hopefully) have time in the afternoon to get the wash done.
So, after a good breakfast we took off to Bryce. We decided to take the guided bus tour, rather than just use the park shuttles, so I called and made a reservation for the 3 1/2 hour tour that left at 1:30. It was a nice drive up there with some interesting views and not too bad driving.

Sorry for the poor color on this picture, but I took it from inside the car.
We went through a couple of tunnels after we turned off the main road.



After we got on the bus, we learned that today we could see at least 120 miles! The first stop was at the far south end of the park, and the elevation was over 9100 ft. Let me tell you, the air is rare at almost 2 miles high.


I found this fellow taking movies with his iPad.

The topography was caused by both wind and water erosion. The main rocks are red because of the iron oxide in the water as the sediments were being laid down. This is mostly sandstone held together with dissolved limestone sediments.





The Indians said that all their ancestors had gone into the canyon and had been turned into rocks. They called the statuesque rocks “Hoodoos”





Some say this one looks like Mayan Warrior.


This is an arch, not a bridge. Natural bridges are caused by the erosion of water. Arches are caused by the erosion of wind.





On the way home we still saw lots of formations that deserved to be photographed.



I’ve realized that my allergy to the tall pines in East Texas is readily transferable to the Ponderosa Pines in Utah. I’ve been fighting sneezing and coughing. I’ve identified the Ponderosas as the culprits because I could see their pollen stalks.
Tomorrow is Zion.

47th Anniversary

Busy day today. Lots of pictures to share with you all, gentle readers. We left Flagstaff about 10 this morning and took the scenic route through the national forest to the Grand Canyon.

Above 6500 ft the pinion pines and junipers begin to give way to the ponderosa pines. This ride through the forest was good for my soul after days and days of desert.

We also say some really interesting rock formations and this place where the whole side of the mountain had just slid down.

We entered the park a little before noon. If you get tired of looking at pictures of the Grand Canyon, sorry. We just couldn’t stop taking its picture.




Who do you suppose that is?

Look there she is again!







This next group was taken at Grandview, one of the original hotel sites in the late 19th century.








Farther along the south rim.

We finally spotted the river, far in the distance, at the bottom of the canyon.








If you look really close you can see the rapids on the river, just to the left of the sign.

We went out the east gate and turned north on the highway through the Painted Desert.



The colors don’t show up really well in the photos, but there were a lot of gradations of color from grey to pink to red to orange to white to palest blue.



We all know that I hate, abhor, and despise the desert in all its various forms. So why on earth did I take so many pictures of it.
Because once I get to Tacoma I don’t EVER have to go to or through the desert again. And if I do go through the desert again, I sincerely hope it will be on a lovely air conditioned train, preferably at night when I don’t have to look at it.

Say good bye to the desert!
In Page, AZ, we saw a little of Lake Powell. There was quite a controversy about the creation of the lake because of the incredible geological formations that are now submerged, and possibly lost forever.


We celebrated our 47th anniversary at the Olive Garden in St. George, Utah.
Tomorrow we see Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. I hope I can figure out what time zone I’m in, because we’ve been in and out and in and out again of Arizona that is really in Mountain time but it doesn’t observe Daylight Savings, so it’s with Pacific time. We’re in Utah, and (I hope) we’ll stay in Mountain time until we go into Pacific time in Washington.


Friday, we left Las Cruces and made our way west into Arizona. Just a few miles into Arizona I spotted a brown sign that said Ft Bowie National Historic Monument. We were making good time, so I turned off the Interstate to see what that was. The sign after we got off the interstate said 15 miles to Ft Bowie, so we decided to run on over there and look at it. We were directed down this little road to the south that wasn’t even on the map, across a couple of cattle guards and dry washes with warning signs to look for loose cows. Sure enough we came across a couple of cows and lots of dust and sagebrush. The signs kept telling us that the Fort was up ahead. About 10 miles into the trek the pavement ended and after another couple of miles the road had deteriorated into stones and gravel.

We finally came to a wide space in the road and found a sign saying “Trail to Ft Bowie – 1 1/2 miles”


There was a nice informational sign with facts about the area, but there was no way we were going to try to hike 1 1/2 miles in 100 deg heat.

We turned the car around and went back down the little dirt road, and when we came out on the flat we noticed another sign pointing off to the right saying “Handicapped Access to Ft Bowie”. We figured we had taken an hour out of our day already, and we maybe ought to make one more try at it. I have never known the Park Service to steer me wrong anyway, so we turned up another dirt road around the other side of the canyon. 3 miles later we found the Ranger station, and got the Ranger to open the gate so we could drive the rest of the way up to the fort. He advised us to be very careful as the road went right over some of the remaining foundations.

There wasn’t too much to see – mostly foundation stones. The walls of the buildings had been made out of adobe, so of course they hadn’t weathered well.

There were a lot of exhibits of things they had found there, including playing cards, poker chips, beer bottles, etc. This fort guarded the Apache pass – think John Wayne at Ft Apache. There were wives and families there. Cochise raided the mail riders passing through the pass and Geronimo later made the soldiers’ lives miserable.

The way the soldiers finally chased Cochise back into Mexico was by the use of the heavy artillery.

They have two wells on the property, so there isn’t any need to bring water from town.

After looking around for a while we headed back down the dusty road.

There were these little rock piles marking the edges of the road.

We finished descending the pass and got back on the interstate and got to Tucson to Debbie Charles’ house (Big Al’s safety friend) by 4 pm.
Saturday we spent with Debbie, watching birds in the morning before it got too hot, and then I went and got my toenails done. We were back in the house by noon, and spent the rest of the day watching movies in DVD and staying out of the 104 degree heat. We went out to supper to a neat little Thai restaurant and then hit the bed in preparation for an early start on Sunday.
Sunday we got on the road by 9:00 am (hey, that’s early for old retired people) and met Deb Avery and her family in Phoenix for brunch. Deb is one of my UNCO friends, and we had an enjoyable couple of hours visiting with her, her husband, and her son.
Back on the road to Flagstaff we were about 40 miles north of Phoenix when we were stopped because of a brush fire.

That holdup didn’t last too long, and we made it to Flagstaff before 5 pm.
Tomorrow we have the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park, and the following day we have Bryce Canyon. Where will we go from there? Who knows?

Santa Fe to Las Cruces

Not too much to report today. The scenery through the east central part of New Mexico is hardly exciting.

Finally, after four hours with the only excitement when we got to some road construction and had to wait while the traffic in the other direction cleared the one lane road, we passed through Alamagordo and saw the white sands.
We tired off to the National Monument, maintained by the park service.

I can’t say enough good about the National Park Service. We have found every time we’ve taken advantage their services that they have been friendly, helpful and informative. It’s a shame that more people don’t take advantage of the wonderful educational and interesting information that is available in our National Parks. If the congress tries to cut the Park Service budget any more, we all ought to rise up in horror.

The white sands are gypsum where most sand is silica based. The newer dunes are really bright, bright white.

The dunes move when the winds deposit new sand on the back side, and then the sand eventually over-balances and slides down the front side.



The road has to be bulldozed out periodically because it completely drifts over.
After leaving the monument we spotted the signs to the Missile Test range.

But we didn’t see any missiles.
The only other interesting sight was the Organ Mountains guard the pass that took us over the San Andres mountains and down into Las Cruces.