Monday, May 26, 2008

Santa Fe

We spent Saturday in downtown Santa Fe, walking through the old part of the city, sitting in the plaza and buying tamales from a stand.

While I can't say I found the people particularly friendly, I have very fond feelings about the city. The architecture and the plaza strongly remind me of my time as an adolescent in Mexico. I remember sitting in the plazas in Queretaro or other cities. The flat-roofed houses with the walls around them remind me of our home in San Luis Potosi.

I will add pictures later. PRM

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Happy Birthday

to Aunt H. Bis a hunert and zwanzig yohr. PRM and crew

Grand Canyon

We are back in the land of WiFi. I researched the weather of the places we were going so we would pack appropriately but, in seeing the monthly averages of 70, I guess I overlooked the possibility of days that could be 20 degrees less than average. And sleet and snow. We had snow on the rim of the Grand Canyon Wednesday morning. Then Thursday was a long travel day with intermittent rain, sleet and snow. We set up for the night in the the dark with a cold mixture of the three pelting us. And late yesterday, after a very few bouts of light rain but a high temperature of 55, we were pelted by snow and sleet as we put up camp again. Enough, already. We are out of clean warm clothing and lucky if we have dry stinky clothing. JP had a fire Wednesday night and I keep smelling it every time I put on my hoodie.

This was my 3rd visit to the Grand Canyon but it was no less majestic for the familiarity. When I first walked up to the rim, I had a momentary sensation that the view was a backdrop. Then my eyes adjusted to the depth and width of the scene. We took a million pictures but when I look at them, it is hard to see the depth of beauty, the true awesomeness.The canyon is 277 miles long, ranges in width from 4 to 18 miles and attains a depth of more than a mile. It's hard to do it justice with a camera. The last 2 pictures were taken at dusk. PRM

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

No Dogs Allowed

Day 10 Shoshie breaks federal law

On Tuesday, we went to Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. This was created about a 1000 years ago from a series of violent eruptions. It is illegal to go off the trails or to remove any volcanic material.

The lava flows and cinders can still be seen.

Yakov and Shoshie walked the trails.

Then Shoshie fell on the trail, embedding some of the lava under her skin. We tried to wash as much as possible out and we hope the rest will work its way out over time.

We move to the Grand Canyon later today. There will be no WiFi there so "talk" to you in a few days. PRM

Monday, May 19, 2008

Southwestern beauty

Some scenes from the road that just take your breath away. That's about 7 miles of road.
Do you just get accustomed to the majesty if you see it every day? And what is this? There is one close to our home and I have wondered what it is.

Tomorrow, the Grand Canyon. PRM

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Day 8 Western New Mexico

We spent Saturday touring from Gallup, NM. We drove south to Zuni and toured the reservation. Hidden Southwest described a drive to old Zuni ruins on a dirt road out of the village so we tried to find the ruins. We drove around for about an hour without success but that doesn't mean we didn't have fun. Pictures cannot be taken on the reservation so no photos.

Continuing east on Hwy 53, we came to El Morro National Monument. This is a waterhole at the base of a sandstone bluff that was visited by passers-by for centuries, some of whom inscribed their names in the rock.

Some of the earliest petroglyphs are 700 to 1000 years old.

Then there are inscriptions from Spanish conquering officials. Don Juan de Onate established the first Spanish colony in what is now New Mexico. On the 16th of April 1605, his name was engraved in the sandstone. William Shakespeare was still alive and Elizabeth I had been dead for 2 years. To see these inscriptions provides such a connection to the past and the people of the past. I know that the Spanish were here long before the English were on the east coast but it always seems surprising to see the actual evidence.

We planned to go to El Malpais National Monument and the Ice Cave but the time was getting late so we will have to save that for the next trip.PRM

Shoshie and Yakov's Wild West Adventure

Day 7 was a long, 230 mile trip across New Mexico to Gallup. We arrived about 7pm and Shoshie and Yakov decided to take a walk through the desert area around the campgrounds.

First they came upon a prairie dog village. They watched the busy little creatures for awhile.

Then they wandered across a field until they came to a cow skull wired to a gate. They wisely turned back.

While walking down the road they heard a rattling sound and saw this fellow. I'm not sure if it was smart to stay long enough to take a picture but they did.

So what adventure is left to them in the West? PRM

Friday, May 16, 2008

Caddies and Canyons

We arrived in Amarillo, Tx, Wednesday about 7pm after a very long drive. The Fort Amarillo RV Resort was our fortuitous choice of campgrounds. It may be the best campground we have ever used. The bathrooms are clean and the showers wonderful. There is an indoor pool and workout room with new equipment. The WiFi works. Shoshie caught 37 fish in the catch and release pond yesterday. It was too good to leave so we looked for some sights to see.I had previously noted Cadillac Ranch as a roadside stop on old Route 66 but didn't know if we could get there with the trailer. Now it was only about a mile away from the campground so we headed over. This was created in 1974 by local eccentric millionaire Stanley Marsh 3. Apparently graffiti is tolerated if not encouraged. Two young men gave my kids spray paint and they contributed. Someone had recently pelted one of the cars with bullets. Where the bullets did not fully go through the metal, they caused lumps of paint to fall from the backside. These lumps were like geological specimens, strata of paint applications. Cars, guns, old Route 66, I40 noise, cow hoof prints and graffiti - ah, America.

Then we headed to the second largest canyon in the US, Palo Duro Canyon. The kids, who have not seen the Grand Canyon yet, were suitably impressed. Yakov and Shoshie hiked along some of the trails. We were not very well prepared for some reason so we ran out of battery power for the cameras we had and don't have any really good pictures. This one is from the state park website. It was beautiful. And some real geological strata. PRM

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Days 4 and 5

Day 4 was a long, 260 mile trip from West Memphis, Arkansas to Alma, Arkansas in wind and rain. The fact that it was largely uneventful is a good thing.

Day 5 was an even longer, 450 mile trip across Oklahoma to Amarillo, Texas. The day was lovely, at least after lunch. Oklahoma is the only state on this trip that I have never visited and it looked much like I thought it would. Yakov provided a musical background with Big Sky Country by Chris Whitley. We saw wind farms and the "world's largest cross", possibly in Texas. JP took this picture and I don't remember which state we were in.

We decided to spend a day in Amarillo. We need a respite and there are some things here that sound like fun. Cadillac Ranch? Pictures and details later.PRM

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

I suspect it is illegal to gamble in an interstate rest area.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Quick update, Days 1, 2 and 3

WiFi has been unreliable in the places that promised WiFi. That was our experience last year when traveling, as well. I am doing pretty good this morning because it is still early and I guess not a lot of people are online yet.

Day 1 We left mid-day and had an uneventful day.

Day 2, Mother's Day Well, I always have a good day on the road. The trailer was decorated with a beautiful flowers and vase sent to me Friday by the Big E, my oldest son, and his family. We spent the afternoon with my mom and dad. My mom fixed a delicious lunch which did not seem appropriate for Mother's Day but that didn't stop our eating it. The kids mostly cleaned up the dishes for her. The weather was bad for traveling, the wind 25 - 30 mph, making that trailer twist and turn so we did not travel far after leaving my parent's house.

Day 3 We left with a plan to have lunch with my MIL, SIL and nephew. But about 70 miles into the trip, we had a problem. We spent 5 hours in a rest area on I40 waiting for a repairman to come out from Nashville to fix the trailer. Fortunately it was a lovely day. We played cards at a picnic table, rode bicycles, listened to music and enjoyed the day. When we finally were back on the road, we stopped just past my in-laws' city and met them for dinner. That was a lot of fun.

Day 4 plan Drive across Arkansas, hoping for no problems.

Pictures when I have good WiFi. PRM

Friday, May 9, 2008

Savoring the comforts of home

While I am very excited to be embarking on our trip tomorrow, I plan to enjoy one last warm shower in my own full-size shower and a sleep in my king-size bed tonight. PRM

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Nuthatch at a new feeder

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Landmark day for Yakov

Here he is being instructed on how to use the voting machine.Here he is thoughtfully considering his choices.And finally, here he is blindly choosing, like so many of us. Note that he appears so happy in his ignorance.

Our polling place, in a probably heavily Republican district, was NOT busy. The mostly elderly pollworkers were very excited to have a new voter. They shook his hand. They posed for pictures.

We all reminded ourselves how lucky we are to be free. PRM

Monday, May 5, 2008

Testing, voting, and packing week

It will be a busy week here as we finish the school year and pack up to travel for a few weeks.

Noach needs to complete state-mandated standardized testing. Actually my kids have always, except for that one time, enjoyed testing. Perhaps it is because we always test in the morning and then go to the movies or some other fun activity in the afternoon. This year testing week will not be as much fun as there is too much other stuff to do.

Shoshie is the one who had an unpleasant testing experience. It was our first homeschooling year and she was in the 2nd grade. I could not imagine doing standardized testing at home. That sounded like professionals needed to be involved, so we did testing through the local, "inclusive" homeschooling group. It was inclusive in that any Christains could join, but we were just realizing this. I don't know what Shoshie said, and anyone who knows Shoshie could imagine that she might say almost anything. But some little girl told Shoshie she was going to hell because she didn't believe in Jesus. Needless to say, that disrupted her testing experience for the year. We began testing at home the next year. And found a truly inclusive group.

Shoshie needs to finish OSU Spanish this week so she can start Spanish 2 in August. She needs to finish her Geometry chapter.

Yakov has finished all his community college courses. He needs to spend some time on OSU German. And work on Algebra 2.

Jasper needs to go to the vet for a manicure before he spends the next month in the trailer or car with the rest of us.

I need to ..., well, the list is too long.

BUT tomorrow, Yakov and I will vote. It will be his first time. My secret hope is that someday I will be voting FOR Yakov, who I think would make an excellent politician. Then sometimes I think that is like saying your beautiful daughter would make a great hooker. PRM

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ready to travel

When I was 13 or so, my parents, a friend and I headed west from our Tennessee home on a family trip. We traveled through the flat cotton fields with shotgun shacks in rows by the road, through Arkansas and into Texas. Somewhere in Texas we stopped and decided where we would go next, Mexico or Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon. In the previous 2 years, we had spent a total of several months in central Mexico, so we chose to do something different and go to Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada. It was a wonderful trip.

That was the kind of traveling I grew up with, somewhat spontaneous, and that is how I like to travel now. It is a little tougher to do with the trailer since we have to plan our next stops to make sure we can find a campground. But I have gambled a bit on this upcoming trip. We have reservations for the Grand Canyon, Memorial Day weekend and the night before JP has to fly home. The rest of the time we can plan as we go.

I love to travel. The last few hours before we leave on any trip tend to be tense. I'm ready and JP just thought of something else to do. We never leave on time. The first trip we ever took together we had to stop at the car radio shop and get a new radio before we could leave town. JP hasn't changed but I have gotten better at keeping myself busy on the day we are leaving.

But when we pull out of the driveway, I could not be happier. Any anger or tension just melts away with the first mile.

Only 7 more days. PRM

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Daytime visitor

I was working on the trailer yesterday afternoon when I saw what I first thought was a rat crawling under the deck. I quickly realized that it was actually a young opossum.

Shoshie and I watched him for quite awhile. She initially wanted to keep him for a pet but appropriately changed her mind. This may be somewhat related to his hissing at her when she got too close.He did like some carrot bits.

I read that most opossums never grow to adulthood because of predators. I just hope our cats don't find him.

He looked so cute, soft and fuzzy.PRM