Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Thanks!!!!!!!!

Ace here --- well dear friends and family we arrived home approx. 1:30 PM 5/27 on a mostly cloudy but nice Sammamish day. We have had a great trip topped off by a round of golf at Canyon Lakes in kenniwick, Wa with temps close to 80. We are happy to be home with so many great memories. We will do a final posting in a few days - until then Keep Smiling!!!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Twin Falls - At Last!!!!

Sunday May 25, 2008

After getting ourselves ‘fueled’ up (car and Starbuck’s), we headed to Kemmerer to visit Ace’s cousin’s husband who is very ill in the hospital there. It was good to visit. We stopped to have breakfast in the Busy B café, which only serves breakfast on Sundays. It was good old fashioned café food, you know, the kind no one is supposed to eat anymore. Velveeta cheese melted on the omelet – bacon in the omelet, hash browns, whole wheat toast with butter (?) on it. Like I said, ‘good food’…. When we get back home, we’re going to have to eat nothing but salad and grilled fish / chicken.

After lunch (breakfast) we drove over to the Kemmerer cemetery where we placed flowers on Ace’s grandparents’ graves (both the Evans’ and Dallezotte’s), on his Uncle George and Aunt Onnie Roletto’s graves, Uncle Ernest’s grave, and Anthony Koran (his Dad’s best friend, whom Ace was named for).

Then, Fossil Butte National Monument…and the Road to Nowhere. Hrumpf! >: (- Ace Here – I admit it I cjhoose the road as it looked like it went somewhere!!! I was wrong AND heard about it…..
Fossil Butte was fascinating, the Road to Nowhere was not. The very narrow muddy dirt road was almost washed out in one place, so that we squeaked by. Only to drive straight up to the railroad tracks, and a sign that read, No Trespassing. Hmmm. Of course the road did continue across the RR tracks, but then, there was that No Trespassing sign…..so after a few chosen words on my part, Ace turned around. We’re back on the highway.

The fossils at Fossil Butte are among the most perfectly preserved remains of ancient plant and animal life in the world! There are a couple of hikes one could take, but they also warn of ticks. When we were having dinner with Donny Marincic, he said he was bit by 3 ticks once on a wagon trail (he’s been on 3 different trail drives, 4000 miles on these wagon trains). Well, he got pretty sick and lost his hair due to ticks. So, for all you would-be hikers in the Rocky Mt area and Canyons – know what to do about ticks! They can be very dangerous to your health. (Ignorance is bliss, tain’t it?)

Taking a stop at Eden, Utah this afternoon. We wanted to check out the motel where we’ll be having the Evans – Little Reunion this summer. Oh yes, and we’ll pass by a Monastery on the way to Eden – may check that out too. Ace here at 2:53 pm. Route 39 to Eden is closed. Evidently 39 goes over a Mtn pass and is not open yet. Backtrack to Sage Junction then to Garden City on the Bear Lake and Logan. We are heading straight down a wild canyou into the Bear Lake. – Buffe is doing her best to imitate Danica Patrick. Safely down!!!!Gas 4:21 a gallon – lucky we don’t need it. O Yeah – forget Eden we will email them when we get home!

Ace (5/25 @ 2:57 pm

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Friday and then The Road!!

Friday May 23, 2008

Ace and I got up and played golf at the Airport Golf Club. The weather report was saying another blast of tornado like storm was coming in the afternoon. We were behind a slow foursome, and only finished 17 holes before the storm hit. The hail hurt as it pelted down on us. We were in a golf cart, so we raced back to the club house; dropped our clubs off at the car, and then into to the club house for a beer. We sat with 2 ladies we had played the back 9 with; had a nice conversation. As we were sitting there, the sirens began blowing all over Cheyenne, which meant another tornado was on its way, and then we heard on the news it had just touched down near the community college in town. They do have a basement / lower level to the club house, but there were several people out on the deck watching the path of the tornado / storm. We never did have to take ‘basement shelter’. There was a break in the hail, so we raced home, just making it as the rain and more hail began hurling itself at us and our brand new Volvo!! We got the car in Beth and Joe’s garage, slammed the garage door shut, and felt much better.

Later that night we went over to Dave and Becky’s for dinner, and then off to the Indiana Jones and the Lost Crystal Heads (or whatever it’s called). May not be the best of the series of Indie movies, but I sure liked it. Marion ( Karen Allen) is back in it!!! Yes!!!! As David put it, “well, we’re glad we could show you a good time, a little bit of excitement as well”…ha! Tornado excitement, they can keep it! We all laughed, made our ‘so long’s for now’, and headed home. Tomorrow: head home.

Saturday May 24, 2008

West to Laramie. Breakfast with Ann and Lee; visited, and then left for Saratoga where we will visit with Ace’s cousin Kathy and Doug Campbell. They own an historic hotel, Hotel Wolf. Hey! After 30 some odd years, it’s for sale, so if anyone is interested, let us know and we’ll put you in touch with the Campbells. Our intention is to spend a few hours with Kathy and Doug and then head to Rock Springs where we will meet up with Donny Marincic, have dinner. Ace used to work at the Marincic Ranch (in Big Piney) for about 3 summers doing what cowboys do. ;)

Ace here! After a deliteful visit and breakfast with Ann & Lee we headed foe Saratoga via the Snowy Range hiway. Needless to say its about 10000 feet at the top so we had blowing snow and low visability foe a while. Snow 5 feet high on side of hiway. A We had a great visit with Doug and Kathy. She had some foot surgery the day before so was on some strong pain killers - not sure what Doug was on, just joking! Doug is incoming President of the Cowboy Joe club so expect a little pressure to join. If you are truly a Cowboy fan I don't see how you can say no!

Meeting old pal Donnie Marincic in a few minutes so so long.... Ace

Friday, May 23, 2008

Tornados!!!!

Thursday May 22, 2008

Update Friday May 23 @ 2:54pm. Left the golf course at hole 17 due to rain & hail. While hunkered down in the course bar the tornado alarms sounded. After a few beers and G&Ts we dashed for the safety of Joe & Beth. Needed to garage the Volvo out of the hail. We are all safe now.!!!

Ace left to visit Mom this morning, with a large bag of various sweaters and a couple of tops, but first stopped in at the Starbuck’s. Saw an old grade school / high school friend and they sat and chatted for over an hour. So Ace decided not to drive down to Windsor because he had to be back in an hour for lunch with Spud Murphy, and brother David. We were also to drive over to Laramie to spend the evening with Ann and Lee, Leif and Kelli. THEN: Tornados were all over the place and touching down!


Ace Here: As you may know Mom is at a Care Facility in Windsor, co. Yesterday a tornado hit Windsor and did quite a bit of damage. Happily Mom’s place was not hit and all is well there. The tornado passed close by and lots of damage elsewhere. I would have been there but I ran into a old friend at the Starbuck’s in Cheyenne as I was leaving and spent an hour then went back to Joe & Beth’s. There were a series of tornado’s that approached Cheyenne, a few touched down but little damage. Buffe and I spent the afternoon in the basement level of Joe & Beth’s – happily it’s the TV room. It was a strange day but we are all fine.

Tornado’s also hit Laramie with considerable damage. Ann & Lee, Leif & Kelli are all ok. Ann had to hunker down with 350 grade schoolers for 3 hours so she needed a drink when she got home.

Here is a plug for "Diggin Food" by the one and only Willi Galloway - OK she is related to me. Interested in gardening, food and whatever give this a try! http://www.digginfood.com/

Another plug for a cousin Ed Pinto's Blog - Yes THE Ed Pinto hosts "Accross The Board." In Ed's unique way he covers a lot of ground. Give Ed a try!!! http://acrosstheboard.podhoster.com/

That's it! Buffe & I think we will hit the links!!!

Ace

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Tuesday May 20, 2008

Headed out in the morning to visit Mom, then back to Cheyenne for a 1pm golf game with Bill Richards at the Cheyenne Airport Golf Club. Big huge bomber type aircraft rumble overhead, and helicopters practicing with water (?) buckets hanging by a long cord, they would dip into the lake and get water and then fly off. After the game we headed over to Bill’s for dinner with Mike and Rebecca Barrett and of course our hosts: Bill and Kit Richards). Steak, salad, homemade french fries, drinks, good conversation -- great evening. Not a very busy day, but busy enough for “we who are on vacation”…. ;)

Wednesday May 21, 2008

Another visit with Mom this morning; lunch with brother David; shop for tops and sweaters for Mom; read a little, and then over to brother David and Becky’s home for dinner and then off to see Gabe go through an award ceremony (graduation from high school). We're starting to clean up the car for the ride home. It took a beating in those National Parks!
Ciao for Niao!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sunday May 18, 2008

Golf at the Taos Country Club was great! Buffe shot an 88, Ace a 95. The course was in pretty good shape, the views fantastic. All the houses (not too many) around the course are built in adobe style. Some look to have either a studio or perhaps a grandmother cottage connected to the main adobe by an artistically covered walk-way. Very pretty.

Today we were going to Santa Fe with Gay and Glenn and their 2 horses, to watch them compete in a sorting event (sort specific cattle out from a small herd and get them to a pen, one person holds them until all the specified cattle are in the pen. They take turns with the ‘sorting’ and the ‘holding’). They must do this in 75 seconds. It should be quite a sight and we are sorry to miss it but we have decided to leave for Cheyenne today. We figure this road trip will take us about 8 hours.

We’re stopped at the Vietnam Memorial here in Angel Fire. I am sure all of you readers are familiar with all the hundreds of bikers converging on the Washington D.C. Vietnam Memorial on Memorial Day, yes? Well, they start in California, bike up here to Angel Fire to this memorial, and then head East, eventually arriving in Washington D.C. It is quite a sight to see 400 to 500 bikers with flags flying, riding around the streets of this tiny little resort town.

Boy the sun is hot! And it’s only 7:40am…I told Gay her summer had finally arrived.

The ride was quite beautiful through Eagle’s Nest and into Cimarron. We of course stopped at every historical marker, until we said, we have seen enough. I guess we’re now thinking we’re on the homeward bound part of the journey, having seen much of the same scenery before, we can skip these roadside markers. Ha!

Monday May 19, 2008

It is so good to see Ace’s family. We do so enjoy them. Ace will make Carne Adavado (large chunks of pork marinated in red chili sauce, slow baked..mmmm) for everyone tonight with the red chili powder we picked up in Santa Fe. Beth and I will get the black beans and rice ready, Ace will mix up Aguave Wine Margaritas (stuff from New Mexico), and Joe will make Ceviche to start the evening out. This should be good, and hot perhaps!

We’re off to Windsor, Colorado to visit Mom (Inez). We stopped in yesterday on the way to Cheyenne, but she was sleeping, so we tip-toed out. Today’s visit was pleasant. Mom could not finish or articulate any sentence, but she smiled every once in awhile, and watched with rapt attention whilst Buffe repaired her ‘summer handbag’. It has been fairly warm here, the clouds seem to keep the heat in and close to the ground. Blue skys, sunny, all in all, quite nice.

Tomorrow we’ll visit long time grade school friends of Ace’s that live here in town and have dinner together (after a game of golf with one of the friends). Steaks, salad, beer, good friends, what more could one ask for? (more exercise…)..
Ciao!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sundance Cafe

Ace here picking up where Buffe left you on Thursday. Yup we got lost on the "high road to Taos" but recovered and found our way. It was very pretty. Friday was much nicer with decent weather. We teed off at the Angel Fire Resort course at 1pm with Gay and Glenn. A beautiful course set into the mountain pines with beautiful views. Sun and clouds were the order of the day until about the 16th hole when the wind started blowing from the north - it got a little chilly. I shot a 90 and was most pleased.
That night Gay and Glenn took us to dinner at the Sundance Cafe in Red River. It served up some delicious New Mexican food and the best margaritas around (so says Gay). And they were very good. It seems to be served with a red sauce from NM chillis or a green sauce from NM chillis. Definitely not like the Mexican restaurents in Seattle or any Tex-Mex I ever had. I am bringing some red and green powders and chillis home so stay tuned for dinner. Just a note Red River has a annual high temperature ave of 38 degrees. Its situated a the neck of a narrow canyon anfd only gets a few hours of direct sun even in the summer. Brave and hardy souls that live there!!!

Today, Saturday, we play golf at the Taos CC with temps in the 70's. We are looking forward to some warmer days.

Our best to you all!!

Ace

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Later in the day Thursday May 15, 2008

Santa Fe is a charming town! We walked all around the Plaza area, into shops, into galleries, and of course we ate at the Shed. Known for its red chili sauce. It was a very good restaurant. The waiting line to get in gave rise to its being famous.

We dropped Bev off at the Hilton Hotel (where she will pick up the shuttle to Albuquerque, from there a flight home), we headed back to Angel Fire. We took a little road called the High Road to Taos (highway 76, runs right along the Sangre de Cristos Mts). We of course got lost. Our little paved road got smaller and smaller, and then turned to dirt. We knew we were no longer on Highway 76…..hm, we were not. A nice man in a pickup truck told us to go back to Truchas and take a right on the paved road. Yeah, that’s right. There was only one paved road going right. We were so busy looking at the scenery, we missed that turn….

Ah yes. Now the 2 travelers are cruisin’ down the road. 

Gay is cookin’ Santa Fe Chili with rice and a pumpkin cake for dessert. Gotta go cuz it’s ready!!

Life in the Pines!!!

That's what they say up here when stuff happens. Like this morning when we wake up to 2 inches of snow! Quite beautiful looking out thru the pines!We have been having a great time at Gay's. Yesterday Buffe and I mucked the stalls of her horses, Friday & Sport. Gay and her friend Glen are riders. They have a Living Quarters/Horse trailer they travel about in. Very nice. Sunday we go to Santa Fe with them to watch them compete in a Team sorting event where they have to sort specific cows from the hear and pen them. Buffe and I are quite excited (esp. since reports say it will be in the 80"s.

Today we take the lovely Bev to Santa Fe as we part ways after 13 deliteful days. We have had a Grand adventure and will miss her.

Well so long from Ace. Hope your days go well!!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mesa Verde - Last Days

Tuesday May 13, 2008

If you feel a shortage of air, they tell you to eat carbs, candy bars, salty snacks, drink lots of water, also / and sleep. So. Our breakfast consisted of carbs. I for one (Buffe here) needed the carbs as I could feel the tiny lack of air. After breakfast, I was A-OK. No lack of air here now.
Our waitress last night and this morning was from Durban, South Africa. Very sweet and pretty. She has a Visa that allows her to travel and work in the U.S. She was recently in Florida and for the summer, she is up here in Mesa Verde. A lot of the help come from all over the world. The barista was from New Zealand, one of the Rangers came from Switzerland (he lives here now).

There is one item I would like mention, the Ranger that took on our tour yesterday has visited 5 pueblos a year for the past 20 years, and is still learning. All these Rangers visit the pueblos; there are 26 left in the U.S. that trace their roots back to the Ancestral Puebloans. The Rangers also said although no one really knows why the Ancestral Puebloans left Mesa Verde, they all have somewhat the same theory, and experts seem to agree with. Overpopulation, drought, food shortage, and the “haves and have nots”. The period before the drought, was a good cycle for these people, the bean was introduced, the corn and squash was growing well, they had invented the bow and the arrow recently, so they were hunting big animals. They over-hunted the area and were reduced to rabbit and small animals like the rabbit. There’s not much meat on a rabbit. So overpopulation, drought, food shortage, and the ‘haves and have nots’ all played their part in the exodus. The people began thinking: how do I live and help my family / clan live? Move.

There was a severe drought lasting from 1276 to 1299 (using tree dating – you can tell whether the tree was suffering from drought and what years that happened). So that would be 23 years of drought. This is very dry country anyways, so the 23 years of drought probably played a very big part. Overpopulation was a big player, and then there also seemed to be a shift of the ‘haves and the have nots’. As crops started to fail due to the drought, the ‘haves’ seemed to have all the stored food, and as one Ranger said, they likely revolted against each other. There were probably many clans in the Mesa Verde area, so they were killing each other. Something that is not widely known, but has been discovered recently in a letter from Richard Wetherill late in his life is when he and the other cowboys that worked for them, found the cliff dwellings and they got down into them, they found hundreds of dead bodies looking like they had been in a war; massacred.

Also, when the Wetherill’s were helping archeologists, they wrote everything down. What stone laid where, ectera. The Smithsonian sent in Jesse Fuchs (spel?) never wrote down anything, but thank goodness the graduate students working for him did. And, one site Jesse went after to dig for pots (shall we say; as his pay was quite minimal) was the Sun House. He removed all the stones down to the ground, then proceeded to build the Sun House the way he wanted. You can’t get into the Sun House, rooms have no doors. So, the Sun House in Mesa Verde does not look anything like the original, except for the very bottom stones. The Rangers know this because of the writings the graduate students left. Jesse went after the Cliff Palace, but the Superintendent of Mesa Verde beat him up (so the Rangers say) and Jesse left Cliff Palace (and other sites) alone. It appears Jesse Fuchs was a loose cannon; and to think he was sent out by the Smithsonian!

Back to current Time: se snaked our way back down the mountain (twisty, turny, steep) about 15 miles, got on the freeway to Durango. Cute town; we stopped there, Ace bought himself a belt, Buffe and Bev bought Rocky Mtn chocolates (mmmm), and Ethan his very own Teddy Bear! It is a black bear and soft and cuddly. He will get used to it we’re thinkin’ even if he doesn’t know what it is right at the moment.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Saturday and Sunday

Saturday May 10, 2008

Sunny and warm here. Stayed in the Red Feather hotel which is like a Holiday Inn, Quality Inn, etc, so it was really nice after our $79 special….(did I mention the door to that motel was a sliding door, and when we pulled the ‘curtain’ across, all we saw was light coming through all the holes, rips, etc. Sink didn’t drain that well, toilet was ‘temperamental’, Bev said there was mildew growing somewhere…but no smell, thank goodness….that room gave us a chuckle).

Stopped at an espresso place, got our ‘usuals’ and headed to the Park Visitor Center. The Park Ranger said the top of the Grand Canyon was 7000 feet, and the bottom was about a 3600 foot drop. Whoa. AND, let’s say the top of the canyon is 80 degrees, for every 1000 feet down, it is 5 to 8 degrees hotter, so that by the time you get to the bottom it’s 100 to 120 degrees. It is recommended to hike before 9am or after 4pm due to the heat. Unless you are just hiking along the Rim, but again, you wouldn’t want to do this in the heat of the day. The Rangers do not want anyone hiking below the Rim between the hours of 9am to 4pm. They say you must be an experienced desert hiker, carry enough water for drink ½ to 1 quart of water for every hour or 2 hours (?) you hike, and to eat salty snacks every time you drink water. The body needs salt as well as water to keep your inner temperature in balance. There are places to stop and wait out the heat below the Rim. Becky Evans could provide us with details on this because for one of her birthdays, she went down to Phantom Ranch from the Rim on a mule!
There is haze in the morning and late afternoon, so the best viewing time from the Rim is about 11am to 2 / 2:15pm. But even with the haze, the Grand Canyon is, well, Grand.

So, for all you budding geologists, as far as the rock / dirt goes: the top of Grand Canyon is the bottom at Zion; the top of Zion is the bottom at Bryce Canyon. This little fandango is called the Grand Staircase. The rock at the Grand Canyon is a million and a half years old, but the canyon itself is much younger than that. Well, you all can “Live Search” at MSN, the Grand Canyon and read all about it. J

We stopped at our Holiday Inn in Kayenta, had lunch, then headed out to Monument Valley where we paid $68 each for a jeep drive out into the valley with a Navajo Guide. This is WELL WORTH THE MONEY. You can drive yourself around Monument Valley, 17 miles, but it’s a circle going around one of the huge mesas. You do have a little pamphlet to read, but all the tales, stories, how the valley monuments got their names, where Stagecoach was actually filmed, and going onto the private parts of Monument Valley, is what you get if you go out with a Native American tour. Also, the road is unpaved, deep red sand, pot holes, rough going.
We left our purses in the car and so could not purchase anything at this one woman’s Hogan (she is Susie something or other, was in all the westerns made out here, and is 96 now), we got to stop at her Hogan (oh, yes, there are some families that still live in Monument Valley, they have no running water, no electricity) and see her weave, she had some beautiful jewelry, both Bev and I were cursing the fact our wallets were somewhere else! Sorry Melissa and Andi, you missed out on some lovely trinkets. BOO HOO! ‘cuz I would have gotten something for myself as well. L

We stopped at one place in the private area, our guide did a war whoop or a yell, and the sound echoed off of 4 different mesas and a pinnacle so the sound seemed to come from somewhere else. He said the sound was his ‘brothers’. Then he laughed. It was pretty cool. Then he took us to the Sun’s Eye. Picture yourself in a large cave like rock indentation (made by wind and water), but very open on one side with a hole up at the ‘ceiling’ (the Sun’s Eye). We lay on the sandstone (cold to the touch – like marble) and our guide played his flute: a traditional Navajo song, then he sang another traditional song, and then for his ‘finale’, he played his own composition on his flute. The sandstone was terracotta colored, the desert sand the same, the sky was brilliant blue, the sun beating down on the desert outside of the Sun’s Eye, and nothing else but perhaps the sound of the wind gently blowing in. Oh gosh, it was really cool! (Of course I had red hair, a red face and my clothes were all reddish too when we got back…).. we were sure glad we didn’t drive our car into this place….

Someone is currently building a 300 + room hotel / motel right at the Visitor Center, to be open sometime at the end of this year or maybe early 2009. It looks like a Holiday Inn or something. Our guide said most of the Native Americans did not want the motel but apparently there are some political disagreements going on between the Clans, and the motel is being built. So you could book yourself right there and have the most photographed view of Monument Valley right at out your window.

You don’t feel a lot of ‘hope’ coming up out of the ground when you drive through the reservation. They do look poor. Bev and I went to the Laundromat last night, and my, wasn’t that an experience. All the Native American women were there washing the week’s clothes. Children, 2 men, mostly women. Eventually, a young boy and then an older woman came in with jewelry to sell to Bev and I because we were the only non-Native Americans in the place. Several washers and dryers were out of order, 4 or 5 of the dryers had no doors. But most everyone smiled at us, and were helpful. They all had turquoise on and one Ancient One had some honkin’ big turquoise bracelets on. Geez, makes you think, there for the grace of God, or chance, go I. And I don’t mean having big turquoise bracelets, but the poverty.

Sunday, May 11, 2008
We are taking a side trip to Canyon de Chelly, and then up to Mesa Verde in Colorado. Canyon de Chelly is, well, go check it out. . This canyon is free. We were surprised because they could charge and people would pay. So Canyon de Chelly and Canyon de Muerto are very cool and worth the side trip we took. There is only one hike you can take without a Native American guide, it is the White House trail. About 3 miles (1.5 down) and supposed to take 2 hours at a leisure pace. You will drop down 600 – 700 feet in 1.5 miles. As you go to these overlooks, the canyon is beautiful, quiet; although we did hear cattle bawling at Spider Rock. But not much else at any of the other overlooks. There are Navajo living down in the canyon, looks like crops growing, some cattle, and the Chinle Wash running through the canyon is absolutely lovely. Green and fertile. There are guided jeep tours into the canyons and would be well worth the cost. We shall return!

We are heading to Mesa Verde now, for 2 nights, then onto Angel Fire (near Taos) to our friend Gay’s home. Seems strange to be halfway through out trip, we can hardly believe we have seen so many Canyon Nat’l Parks, and done so much already.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mommy’s out there!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mesa Verde – wow. Our little car climbed higher and higher, and yet higher. We are on top of the world. The known world from 550 to 1300 AD. It is amazing up here. This is where the Cliff Dwellings are – the Rangers say is a misnomer. These cliffs are really cliff storage places. Yes. The Ancestral Publeoans could live in the cliff dwellings and did at times, but they mainly lived up on the Mesa. They grew their corn, squash, and beans up on the mesa too.
Our dinner was very good, the drinks great, we slept like logs. Breakfast was very good as well. We had purchased a ranger guided tour when we booked ourselves into the Far View Lodge, so we met the Ranger at 8am for our tour of several sites, views of cliff dwellings, and then the climb down to Cliff Palace. You must take a Ranger guided tour, it costs $49 and is well worth it. You get so much information that you would not get if you visited it on your own. (you can pay $3 and a Ranger will take people down through Cliff Palace, but you do not get all the info, all the history of the Ancestral Publeoans (from 550 to 1300) that we did. At each stop, there is so much info only the Ranger can provide, that one would definitely miss out on what they were actually seeing. After our tour, we had lunch and then walked down to Spruce House (no fee) just behind the Museum, is the only cliff house you can ‘tour’ on your own. There is a Ranger at the site to answer any questions. And you do get to go down in a Kiva. BUT. The piece de resistance is Balcony House (we think). This is $3, you drive your car out to the parking place by Balcony House, meet the Ranger, and they take you down into Balcony House. It is breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking. You climb up a steep 32 foot ladder (3 stories high), you listen to the Ranger, you walk around inside Balcony House, you climb up a small ladder, walk in carved out footsteps on a small slope, continue with your history lesson from the Ranger, then you crawl through a tunnel (about 12 feet long, and it even had a light source from above coming in) it was not bad at all. More history, then you go up 3 ladders, walk in carved out footsteps holding onto metal chains, up up up up up. Finally you are at the top. The Ranger said they have specialists test the safety (?) of the ladders, so they know when to build new ones.

We are waiting to get into the dining room (which has an incredible view by the way). Tomorrow we leave for Gay’s house in Angel Fire.
Til Later!

Friday, May 9, 2008

The GRAND Canyon!!!!!!!

Friday May 9, 2008

Got ourselves lattes at the Mean Coffee Bean coffee shop in Springdale, UT. The town just out the south gate to Zion Nat’l Park.

Headed South-west on Hwy 9 and then turned South-east to drive through Colorado City. Yes. We just had to see a whole town of FLDS (Federated (?) Latter Day Saints), an off-shoot of the Mormon Church. They are a part of the Texas FLDS that has been in the news lately; they believe in polygamy. All the women had long dresses, bonnets, long sleeves..you’d see one woman doing yard work and another woman on the other side of the house watch the children. A the boys wore pale yellow long sleeved shirts and blue jeans, oh, and brown sturdy shoes. They all seemed to be blond….It was like being in another universe. We drove around town (it’s not a very big), I for one was glad to leave. Ace and Bev were thinking there might be a café diner they could eat at….I did see a large shed called the bulk food annex. Curtains were drawn (perhaps for the heat of day?), glad I’m out of there.

We continued our way Southeast and rode along the Vermillion Cliffs (Nat’l Monument) – pretty amazing. We stopped at Marble Canyon for lunch, and also at this place there is a Interpretive Center about the Navajo Bridge. This bridge across the Grand Canyon opened up this part of the country in the 20” and 30’s. At this point the Grand Canyon is only a regular canyon and the bridge spanned about 800 feet. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navajo_Bridge The original bridge is now a walkway and we walked out onto the bridge and looked down onto a green Colorado river – very refreshing looking. We saw 2 float boats coming down. Lee’s Ferry is about 6 miles upriver. Very famous crossing.

We are now about 100 miles from the Grand Canyon, travelling Southeast alongside the Echo Cliffs.

Thanks to Zac, we have stopped at 3 Historical Markers: we have learned how the town of Hurricane was formed and got water, about Spanish Padres trying to find a route through this territory and onto Monterey, CA., and another stop we’ve forgotten now what it was about….

Ace here. So the Grand Canyon is just that GRAND!!!!! We arrived about 2 pm and stopped at 7 overlooks. Each offers a different view into the Canyon. We took lots of pictures, panoramic and movies! I finally figured out the purpose of the trip – visit every Lodge in each Park. These Lodges have all been pretty special. Ususally built in the early 1900 – El Tovar 1902 – by a railroad for wealthy tourists. Bryce, Zion, and Grand Canyon have Lodges that go back that far. El Tovar was considered one of the great hotels of its time. Had steak, cowboy beans, etc. for dinner at a sawdust on the floor kind of place. Spent time talking with 4 Danes from Bornholm Island a place with 45000 people. We have chatted with very interesting people – 4 Dutch guys who rented Harley and are touring the southwest, a solitary Dutch women bicyclist, two older women from Germany, a father & son from the Netherlands, a guy and his girlfriend from the Netherlands. What a lot of people. We have named Bev the Ambassador since she starts most of these conversations.

So now our toilet is not working and need the tank replaced. I guess they will do it in 20 minutes or move us. We will see!!!

Bye for now from Ace!!!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Zion

Well before I get going on what we did today, I have to say, Buffe got a little altitude sickness. Headache (a bad one) and some nausea. Couldn’t eat dinner, went to bed, woke up feeling new again. Thank goodness! One must realize we were at 9100 feet at Rainbow Point and hiked approx. 4 miles at 8000 feet.

Had breakfast at the Bryce Canyon Pines Motel restaurant; there was a woman having breakfast all alone, we knew she was from Europe, and we had seen her on the trail at Bryce the day before, so Ace invited her to eat her breakfast at our table. She did and we had the best conversation – she was bicycling by herself (her husband had passed away 6 months earlier, they used to bicycle all over together), anyways, she was a photographer, and went everywhere in the world. – Bicycling! Her name was Illona from the Netherlands.

The drive to Zion was about an hour. The rock is so different from Bryce, or, well you know – any previous park! It is majestic in the extreme. You park at the Visitor Center and these shuttle busses take you into Zion. They run every 6 minutes about, so if you get off at one stop, do whatever, hike, eat, whatever, a buss comes along and you hop on and head further into the Park. The lodge setting is absolutely beautiful. Just what you think a lodge in these canyons should be. We hiked on the Riverside walk half way because the Virgin River had too much water coming through the Narrows. Which normally one could ‘hike’ (in water shoes, cuz the water could come up to your calves or mid-thighs….yes, the trail is right smack in the river. Whoa. In the Narrows, the canyon walls come to within 20 feet of each other. Too bad we missed that. However, we would have missed that anyways because we do not have the appropriate shoes.

We then hopped on the bus and headed back to the center of the park, getting off at Grotto stop. We hiked 1 mile on the Kayenta trail to the middle Emerald Falls / Pools. Ace then hiked up to Upper Emerald Pool (.5 one way), then we hiked down to Lower Emerald Pool and then onto the Lodge (1 mile). Had a great late lunch on the deck of the lodge and had the most awesome view of canyon walls. Takes your breath away. Then, downstairs to the café where we all got disgustingly large chocolate ice cream cones (Ace had a boysenberry ice cream).

We headed to the Park’s museum, and listened to a Ranger talk about petroglyphs. We called her Rock Girl. It was very interesting.

From there, to our $79 laughable motel in Springdale just outside the Park’s South entrance. Well, you have to stay in a couple of places like this to be able to “motel it” for almost a month. It’s not bad really – just no ambiance. ;) Our beds almost touch!

Walked around the little town – tourist-y, but had a great pizza had Pizza and Noodles. Of course Ace had to stop in at the Chocolate Candy store just across the street (everyone in town must stop there after dinner)….

We’re here in the motel, writing blog stuff, reading, catching up on emails, and Buffe and Bev figuring out the money. The night is very pleasant, the rocks are right out our door, the birds are chirping away, the cool canyon air is filtering into our room. Life is good and we are very lucky to be able to take a trip like this. We have met more foreigners than ever, and everyone is nice and having a good time marveling at Nature’s Wonders.

Ciao for Niao!
P.S. let me add a little post script...it can get mighty cold at night, and we have all been saying we're sure glad we're not camping. Yes we had re-thought that idea, and decided not to camp; would have meant bringing a lot more stuff, all camping gear. So a note to all you would-be canyon-campers: bring your winter camping sleeping bags, blankets,etc, because you'll need it!!! Remember, in Bryce, we had snow-y rain come down on us twice. And the temp can range 50 degrees in a day. These storms come in every afternoon and pass through quickly, but whether it's a 45 degreed storm or a 28 degree storm is just a whim of the gods....love!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

We stayed in the cutest little cabin last night in Torrey, and had dinner in a very good restaurant called the Cafe Diablo – 5 Star, presentation super and food delicious! We had rattlesnake cakes (2 patties of free range desert rattler with ancho-rosemary aioli)…hm, what does ‘range free rattler’ actually mean we wondered….so we ordered them. Pretty good. But the Empinadas (cornflower pillows filled with Cojita cheese and sweet potatoes and served on cilantro black bean sauce and desert onions) was tremendously tasty and melted in our mouths. We also had a citrus salad and then the Mayan Tamale (eggplant, poblano peppers, roasted tomatoes, mas and casera cheese steamed in a banana leaf, with char grilled veggies and brandied corn custard). Whoa. Excellente!

Stuffed to the gills, we trundled home to our little cabin and fell fast asleep.
Next morning we walked over to the little store (all these motels seem to have little restaurants and / or stores attached), and had fresh coffee, croissants, shared a small container of cottage cheese (no yoghurt left) and had the lady make us sandwiches to go. We purchased a couple of apples, water and headed out to Bryce Canyon. We stopped at the Anazazi State Park which is very very interesting and well done. The exhibit is very good. Then Bryce Canyon.

The drive was up and up and up, and windy (not the wind), and around canyon edges, and up into Bryce territory.
We found our little motel about 3 miles further West on Highway 12 past the entrance to Bryce Canyon and on mile post 10…..Dropped all the usual stuff off in the room and headed to Bryce Canyon Visitor Center. We had determined to hike the next morning (Wed) a combination of 2 trails: the Navajo Trail and the Queens Garden trail. There were signs ALL OVER: WEAR HIKING BOOTS, DRINK AND TAKE WATER (1 QT PER 2-3 HRS OF HIKING), so we begin to think we might not have the correct shoes for our canyon trip. Ha! Next time we will bring our hiking boots, but as the Ranger said, many people just head out on the trails with no more than tennis shoes. So my Pumas would do. And really? One can hike in tennis shoes. However, the Ranger did say the top 3 injuries here in Bryce was: broken ankle, broken ankle, and broken ankle.

But for the rest of Tuesday afternoon, we decided to drive out to Rainbow Gate and take an easy hike called the Bristlecone Loop of 1 mile. Ha ha ha ha….when we got there, it was getting quite cold (it is 9115 feet elevation) with dark clouds looming rather close…, and as we started on the trail, we got exactly 2 steps and ran into almost 1 foot of snow. Even with hiking boots we would not have done it because of the drop in temp and the clouds – we could see rain coming from way over East, and it was a wall of black….Sun would come out, and the colors, the views, the canyon ridges and fins, and then the far-off snow-capped mountains would seem to float above the Earth. It was unbelievable to see. This is a most amazing park.

We stopped at all the view points, each view was dramatic and different from the previous one. We ended up at Bryce Lodge (we tried to get in there – all full. Probably with Europeans because there are so many here, the Euro is really making the U.S. a great place to vacation this year..)….
Dinner was quite good. We had rainbow grilled trout. Yum!

Wed we got up and wasted no time to hit the Navajo – Queen’s Garden Trails. We were heading down into Wall Street (a must see on this planet) at 8:31am. It was tough to take more than 10 steps without taking a picture. It is really a spectacular trail. Once down in the canyon, it opened out, and was quite a pleasant walk with the Bryce Hoodoos rising all around us.
The legend is Paiute: Legend People lived here in Bryce Canyon and were bad people (no one knows why they were bad exactly), and there were all kinds of animals living here, however, Coyote turned them all into Stone. They are called Hoodoos. You can still see the Hoodoos (Legend People and animals), they are standing together, or alone, they are clinging to one another, some are sitting, some are only painted faces, you can see that too.
The picture most people see of Bryce Canyon is Bryce’s Amphitheatre and that is all Hoodoos. When you are at one viewpoint looking back at another, it is like looking at an ancient, ancient city in the clouds, crumbling away. It is amazing.
Ace and I shall return to hike more in the canyons.

We had lunch here at our motel and then went for another short hike to Mossy Cave and Waterfall. Pretty. We then drove back to Bryce’s Point and true to the weather forecast, the wall of rain, wind, drop in temp, thunder, was all heading this-a-way. We hurried to Bryce’s Point to get a picture, then hurried back to the car. As we started the car up, the snow and rain fell. We drove no more than a few miles and the sun came out. The weather fronts move through here pretty fast. Of course there is another one coming along shortly. I have heard thunder again…..

Tonight we will go up to Bryce Lodge and hear a 90 year old man talk about the stars. Bryce Canyon is the 3rd darkest place on the planet, so the star gazing here is supposed to be incredible. Then, if the clouds get out of the way, we can walk over to where the Rangers have telescopes set up for star viewing. J

Tomorrow: Zion.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo – not many festivals out here in Canyonlands.

Breakfast was Huevos Rancheros including homemade tortillas, by the chef. It was good say Ace and Bev.
Buffe found her left leg calf to be in a little more pain than just an ‘ache’….as a result Buffe could not hike and has had trouble walking. However, she is “cowgirl up-ing” and hopes the ice, the salon pas, and time will work its magic and she will be able to get back to walking and then hiking.

The day is of course, sunny and hot. We all climbed down to a view point of Sipapu, the 2nd largest natural bridge in the U.S. (the largest is Rainbow Bridge in Lake Powell). Sipapu is 220 feet high and 268 feet span. It is spectacular. We had to climb down a couple of metal ladders and one wooden ladder (think Cliff Dwellings), then along a narrow rim with one huge canyon wall jutting over us and disappearing up into the sky on one side, and sheer cliff on the other side. The rim we were walking along went out about 500 feet; from there, one can get another view of Sipapu (which means “emerging” in Hopi). It was very cool clambering down the ladder and along the rim.

Buffe did not climb out to view points of the other 2 natural bridges, only Ace and Bev did. There are several hikes / trails you can take, but since Buffe’s leg calf wasn’t in the best shape, and we weren’t really prepared to hike, we said we would have to come back some day.

We then drove to Capitol Reef Nat’l Park stopping for lunch in Hanksville. My goodness, I think Hanksville is a dying town. Seems like only tourists stop there for food. The little grocery store was not much either. Got to Capitol Reef and all I can say is how different this park and it’s rock formation is from say Arches or Canyonlands. There are similarities, but this one is different. You see geologic formations of the Waterpocket Fold that goes for about 100 miles. Amazing! There is Cathedral Valley (rock that looks like a cathedral), the multi-hued rock layers make this very different from the 1st 2 parks we have seen. The geologists called this a Capitol Reef because the huge rock walls that rise up so terribly high reminded them of a reef protecting a harbor / port type area. I think you get my drift…..

As we drove into the park aways, there was a nice wooden platform walkway with railings (about 150 yards) that you could walk along the canyon wall and view petroglyphs. It was VERY COOL. Trees shaded you as you walked along, those petroglyphs were amazing. Some of huge slabs of rock that had fallen down and lay in the grass. There was a small herd of deer grazing that seemed skittish, but used to humans. Cute. These petroglyphs were created by the Fremont Indians, which were pre-coursers to the Utes, and the other tribes currently in the area.

There is a little historic town called Fruita, homesteaded by Mormans (no more than 10 families lived there at any one time – til 1941 when it closed up WWII). Anyways, it is a little narrow valley of fruit trees (apples, pears, peaches, cherries, apricots) that sustained the town. We dashed off to the Gifford House for cherry pie (small one) and ice cream. Yum!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Delicate Arch 2 Deadhorse

Another great day in Canyonlands!!! Bev, Buffe, & I hiked up to Delicate Arch 1st thing in the morning - about 9am. Its a beautiful hike - about 3 miles round trip. Lots of it over a giant slab of rock that climbs up about 400 feet. Delicate Arch is with Landscape the most famous in the park. We also did a 2 mile loop to see the Windows Arches and Turret Arch. We feasted on pork leftover from the dinner Bev fed us Friday night and a laof of Tuscan bread Buffe found in Moab. Then we drove off to the Shaffer Overlook in Canyonland National Park. It drops off about 6000 feet to the Colorado River. Its almost straight down. What an experience. Then off to the Green River Overlook. Similar but different. This overlooka a huge flat area with giant cuts into it by the Green River. The area is very large you overlook. What a wonder. Finally off to Deadhorse Overlook in Deadhorse State Park. Again about 4000 feet down looking direcly into the Colorado River. On one of the flatlands far below they filmed the final journey of Thelma and Louise.

We finished off with beers and Thai food in Moab then 60 miles to our $59 motel on Monticello.

We have had a lot of fun and look forward to some interesting country tomorrow.

Ace

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Arches National Park

Headed out of Park City after stopping at Starbucks for ‘fuel’….and drove through Heber Valley (very beautiful), 5 golf courses that look fabulous, and then we headed through a canyon up to Daniel Summit, it was unbelievable this canyon. Something else. It is 40 miles long and ½ mile wide, so Narrow! Cattle grazing, canyons walls rising up on either side of the little road, ramshackle buildings falling into disrepair, but there was one ranch that looked good. Picturesque I might even say!

Finally began to see rock formations that I’m sure I saw in some movie … like Stagecoach with John Wayne….ok, we’re not quite to Monument Valley.

Got to Moab and Arches Nat’l Park. Whoa! The deep red / terracotta colored rocks, sometimes with large turquoise streaks, it was breath taking. We entered the park – you drive through it (takes about 40 minutes if you do not stop at all the places to stop)….and we headed to Devil’s Garden, which is at the far end of the park. From there we hiked 4.2 miles passing Landscape Arch, the Wall Arch, and on to Double O Arch. It was a great hike, quite warm, we had plenty of water, and silent as we hiked along. When we saw Wall Arch, it was such a surprise. I mean, it just appeared right next to you as you climbed up through 2 canyon walls, and BAM! It’s right there. You have to be so careful, watching where you are hiking, that you can miss some of the natural wonders that are silently seeping along the trail with you. Oooooh. I cannot imagine what the first white man thought when he saw this area.

Tomorrow we will hike 3 miles up to Delicate Arch. Landscape Arch and Delicate Arch are the 2 most photographed arches; you most likely have seen these 2 arches more than any other arches. And Dead Horse Point – 2 very beautiful view points. And then on to Bryce Canyon. Phew. Just makes me sweat to think of the hikes we’ll be on in the next few days. !!!

Ace Here – the place – Arches – is way cool!!! The colors and formations are out of this world. The 4 mile round trip hike was fairly difficult but we saw so many beautiful things!! Great trip and a great start. Note At the highest point on the park along the Double O Arch trail in the middle of nowheresville Utah I get a cell call from brother David reporting on the outcome (not pretty) of son Joe’s Rugby game in Denver. Thanks and praise to my Dave, Becky, Jordan, And Joe for making the trip. Much love to all!!! Ace

Friday, May 2, 2008

Granola

Day 2 ~

Up and on the road a little after 7am. Had Greek yoghurt and Granola, and homemade Date Oat Scone (we brought). The coffee was unmentionable. Found a delightful coffee / bakery shop in Le Grande about 1.5 hrs from the Wild Horse Casino & Resort. Ahhh, now that got the morning off right! Ace couldn’t resist the lady’s homemade Black Forest Muffin, about the size of a large grapefruit. It was tasty, I had 2 small (small mind you) bites. ;)

Sun is shining, sky is blue, temp is hovering around 55 degrees. And we are heading East. We stopped in Baker City to find rooms for our August Adventure (drive back to a family reunion), but the whole town is booked up due to a Shriner’s Convention on the day we would stop there. Some of you might know there is an Oregon Trail Interpretive Center up on a hill / mountain at Baker City that is exceptional. You can still see the ruts in the ground where the Conestoga’s headed West. So we continue East in search of a motel for our trip in August….We are stopping in Ontario, Oregon to check it out. We need a swimming pool for the little ones, a weight room for the big ones. We have our rooms!! Ontario, Ore.

We passed through Idaho, climbing up, up, up, the mountains. Currently, we are about 4300 elevation – must be on some plateau that will stretch oh shoot, forever. At least til we get to Nebraska, eh Ace? Saw plenty of cows – little calves following their Mommys, and Mommy Cows following their little calves. There’s something so soothing and pleasant watching domesticated animals, like cows graze. Well, some people may think paint drying would be similar…however, they were so pretty – little baby brown dots, little baby black dots sprinkled across the fields that seemed to stretch back up to the foothills.

We’re in Utah now, dust being churned up as the farmers plow the fields getting ready for the planting of crops. Land sweeps away from us to the mountains on either side of the freeway. We are passing the Golden Spike National Park, where America was united East to West by the railroad. We will by-pass this site on this particular trip. ….. I’m beginning to feel like that guy (Thomas Lowell? Lowell Thomas?) who used to do travel logs that played in between movie features in the cinemas back in the 40’s and 50’s…(not that I saw any, I’ve just see a few on TNT….)…

Snow-capped Wasatch Mtns coming into view. Man! Look at that vista! Pretty little valley we’re coming down into – green fields, little ranch / farm houses, not sure what little hamlet this is, but I’m sure it’s got a name. I can’t imagine what it will be like to see the National Parks like Arches, Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, and Monument to name a few of the ones we’re going to see. It will be just grand I think.

We’re close to Ogden, so that means close to Salt Lake City, close to Park City.
We stopped at a hospital in SLC to see Ace’s cousin who is doing poorly. We’ll then head to Bev’s in Park City.
Tomorrow: Arches National Park!!
Ciao for Niao!

Well Dear People, Buffe did a nice job with this as I drove. Now comfortable in my cousin Bev's space and with a little Irish whiskey under my belt this is what you get from me. Take care of you friends & family, and your wireless!!! A dear friend has cancer and its touch and go what will happen! A cousin-in-law has too many ills to describe and who knows what will happen!!!! My son has Diabeticts and aorta blocks and well prognosis is good health who knows what will happen!!! sO TAKE CARE OF YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS! As to wireless one of my cousin's neighbors has not secured their wireless network so I am 'borrowing'it! SECURE YOUR NETWORK!!! Love to all! Ace

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Drool!!!

Hello Friends and Family, we’re on the road, right at the top of Manastash Ridge, overlooking the Yakima Army area where Zac did all his Marine weekends. Yes, vast tracks of uninhabitable land….

On our last night in the cul de sac, the Hossmans threw us a Bon Voyage party. So what if it happened to coincide with Irma’s 60th birthday party….what a wonderful cul de sac, lots of good friends and neighbors. Except for “she who would be young” who claims she’ll be wiping drool from the rest of us when she turns 60….hrumpf!

We’ve left the clouds and rain behind us and it’s blue sky all the way to Pendleton! WOO HOO!! We’ve got a 1pm tee time at Wild Horse Mesa Golf Course and Casino.

Oh yes, we have received sweet words: the replacement credit cards are awaiting us at cousin Bev’s house in Park City.
Ciao for Niao.

Ace here inspired by the wonders of the Palouse and the voice of Gene Autry! As Gene heads for the “Last Round-up” we head for the Umatilla Bridge. Birds are flying high as we fly by Lost Locust exit. Old mines, plenty of Peterbilt's & Kenworth's, giant Wind mills making electricity. The plains are spots of green intermixed with the sagebrush covered plains. Gene is now “drifting with the tumbling tumbleweed” as I watch the dust devils rise. Well I could wax on but you get the idea! Till next we meet! Ace

Just got off the WildHorse course in Pendleton. Blue sky, 60 degrees, forward tees, Great time!!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Getting the Credit Cards Ready!

Dear Friends - the trip starts Thursday May 1st but today I lost the CREDIT CARD. So after an hour searching the golf bag and car I drove back to the golf course to check out the parking lot! O Yeah - I know what you are thinking but I didn't find the card. So both of us lose the Visa until hopefully the new one meets us at Bev's place in Park City. Another hour on the phone and we are set to travel with a BOA Debit card, AMEX card, and a Master card so we should be good to go!

Have to go pack! Ace