Sunday, March 13, 2011

3-13-2011 637 miles to drive before we get home!

We are coming home today!

We arrived in Dorchester around 6:15PM today.  Matt, Shelly, Emily, Hayden, and Wyatt were at the house waiting for us. They had brought a "Welcome Home" balloon and had a beautiful bouquet of flowers sitting on the dining room table.  Shelly made 2 pans of lasagna and a wilted salad (just like the kind grandma Johnson use to make).  Crystal arrived shortly afterwards and had brought a oreo dessert along and then Mike, Roxann, Rachael, and Elizabeth arrived with garlic bread and a vegetable.  We had a wonderful dinner with our family.  The only thing that would have made it more complete was if Nicole and Brook could have been there (they were out shopping for a prom dress for Brook).

It was so good to see everyone and so special that they put a welcome home dinner together for us.  It was great to walk into the house and have it all lit up with a delicious meal in the oven and everyone here to welcome us home.  John and I are so blessed to have our wonderful family!

After they left we unloaded the car (ugh) and put most of the items away before I hopped in the tub for a nice warm bubbly bath.  It felt good to be home and to crawl into our own bed.  We both slept wonderful - it is good to be home.  As they say "THERE IS NO PLACE LIKE HOME"!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

3-11-2011 & 3-12-2011 Woolaroc in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and then on to Branson, Missouri to Sedalia, Missouri to bike Katy Trail

We got up and headed to Bartlesville to go to the Woolaroc Museum.  Several years ago we attended the Southwest Tandem Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  After the rally we went with a number of couples on a post ride and one of the stops we made was at the Woolaroc Museum.  We didn't have a whole lot of time to spend there at that time so we always thought we'd go back someday.  So today was the day!  We spent about 3 hours going thru the museum - it is really an amazing museum of cowboy and indian history with amazing artifacts, bronze sculptures, paintings, huge gun display and many other interesting items to see.  To find out more about it you can go to

Afterwards we headed to Branson, Missouri - we initially thought about going there and going to some shows over the weekend.  We came in the backway to Branson and drove on miles and miles of winding curves and up and down hills driving thru farm land.  It was really a beautiful drive.  We arrived around 7:30 in Branson and went to Ruby Tuesday's for their salad bar and then checked into a hotel for the evening.  We checked out the shows that were available and after talking it over we decided that we would rather go and do some biking on the Katy trail which is in Missouri. 

3-12-2011 On Saturday morning we loaded up the car and drove to Sedalia, Missouri and unloaded the bike and biked 15 miles out and then came back on the same limestone trail.  It was very nice biking and about 59 degrees with the birds singing and the frogs croaking in the ponds alongside the trail.  We had the trail pretty well to ourselves so that was even nicer.

This evening we went to Sacred Heart Catholic church for mass - what a beautiful church!  It has just been refinished and it is absolutely gorgeous with beautiful teal marble pillers and an amazing altar with fresh painted statues behind it.  Also the 2nd graders did a beautiful job of singing during the mass so it was a very enjoyable service.

Afterwards we went out to eat and then got back to the hotel about 7:30.  It is going to be a long day driving tomorrow as we have 637 miles to go to get home but we are  looking forward to seeing our family and friends!

The last 2-1/2 months have been wonderful but we are anxious to get back to our life, family, and friends in Wisconsin!

See you all soon!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

3-10-2011 Texas to Oklahoma City - Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum

The pond at the Oklahoma City Memorial!

Each person who lost their life on April 19th, 1995 is pictured in this room!

Oklahoma City National Memorial - the world changed on April 19th, 1995!

Children from all over the world sent in pennies - they received over 45,000 million pennies and created this walkway path with some of the pennies!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

3-9-2011 Albuquerque to Tucumcari, New Mexico

Today we had a full day of things to do and traveling.  We got up and ate breakfast at the continental breakfast at the Super 8 and then headed out to drive the Turquoise Trail out of Albuquerque which passes the little town of Madrid (this is the town that was used for the movie "Wild Hogs").  Once we got to Madrid we stopped in front of the diner (this diner was built specifically for the movie and is not used now but still standing).  John unloaded the bike and we took a couple of pictures in front of Maggie's Diner and then rode the bike for a couple of miles.  We have never ridden the bike in New Mexico so we wanted to make sure and ride it so we can say that we have not biked in New Mexico.  So far we have biked in 20 states in the USA.  We will also bike in Texas tomorrow to make it 21.

From Madrid we went to Abiquiu, New Mexico and we drove back in the canyon to the little cabin that we stayed at several years ago just to see if we could find it.  From there we headed to the Christ in the Desert Monestary to attend their 1:00PM prayer service where the Monks all come in the little chapel and do chants.  It is amazing and as you sit in the little Chapel you see three crosses on top of the mountain behind the chapel.  It is just a beautiful serene place and we were so happy to be able to go there on Ash Wednesday.  To get to the Christ in the Desert Monestary you drive off of the main road and drive 13 miles back on a gravel road that follows the Chama River with bluffs on each side of the road.  It is a beautiful place.

We then drove to Espanola and had a late lunch and then continued on to Tucumcari where we are staying at a Rodeway Inn which is really nice.  We paid $45.00 plus tax for a king size bed and there is a refrigerator and microwave in the room and it is spotless.  Very nice - when traveling you just don't know what kind of room you are going to get but this one is one of the nicest we have been in so far.

Tomorrow we will leave New Mexico and head to Texas and then on to Oklahoma!

What a great day!

3-8-2011 Scottsdale to Albuquerque, New Mexico

We said our goodbye's to Pat & Sharon and headed towards New Mexico.  We drove a couple of hours or more before we stopped at a little restaurant and had a mexican breakfast and then headed towards New Mexico.  We made several stops during the day to enjoy the scenic views but spent a good share of the time driving.

Wonderful sunny day!

3-7-2011 - Surprise to Scottsdale to visit Sharon & Pat

We left Dana and Bill's home this morning and headed off to meet up with my sister and her husband, Pat.  They are in Scottsdale this week on vacation so it was so great to be able to meet up with them and spend the afternoon and evening with them.  Once we got to their Marriot hotel we got in the car and headed to a ball game where the Colorado Rockies were playing the Los Angelos Dodgers at a training game at the brand new Salt River Field.  It was a beautiful afternoon and we sat out on a blanket on the lawn and had a very nice time.  Afterwards we headed back to the hotel and played the game "Spinner" in the lobby and then had dinner before calling it a night.  It was a very nice day and so wonderful to be able to spend some time with my sister and her husband.  Thank you Pat & Sharon!

Great day with great people!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday, March 6th, 2011 - Biking and horseback riding in Surprise, AZ

This morning we got up and put on biking clothes and the 4 of us headed out for a breakfast bike ride.  It is a beautiful day with blue skies and clouds and very little wind.  We biked 10 miles or so and stopped at a very good restaurant for breakfast.  From there we headed out and biked all around the Surprise area and just really enjoyed the biking and the few cars on the route that Bill & Dana took us biking on.  Before we knew it was had over 30 miles on and headed back to Happy Trail's for dinner.  Dana made sweet potato fries, asparagus, and delicious salmon.  What a great meal!

John and I had wanted to stop over at White Tanks Stable to visit our niece, Eve and her husband Chad.  Eve and Chad are managing the White Tanks Stable for Mary Ann and Hugh and we were only about 10 miles from them.  I gave Eve a call and Dana, John, and I went to visit.  Eve took Dana and I out horseback riding while John and Chad visited.  What a great place and it was so nice to ride through the desert area (everything is quite green because they have had a lot of moisture in the area).

When we got back to Dana and Bill's we showed them our DVD of our bicycle trip last fall while we enjoyed a wonderful salad and then said goodnight!

Tomorrow morning we will leave Bill & Dana's and head to Scottsdale to spend the day and evening with my sister, Sharon and her husband Pat who are vacationing in the area.

Great day!  Life is good!

Saturday, March 5th, 2011 - 6 mile hike and saying goodbye to Lynn & Dick and heading to Surprise, AZ

We got up and had breakfast and then we went out on a hike with Lynn & Dick.  Dick had asked how long of a hike that we wanted to go on and we said 4 miles.  He said okay good - well if anyone knows Dick they know that if you say 4 miles you are probably going to go on a 6 or so mile hike.  Sure enough he managed to take us up and down a few hills with beautiful cactus's and desert scenery all around and by the time we got back we had hiked 6 miles - we loved it and we enjoyed every step of it Dick.

We said our goodbye's and headed to Surprise, AZ to meet up with Dana and Bill Brown.  Our plans were to go to a Seafood/Oriental Restaurant in Phoenix and then go to the Botantical Gardens before headed to Mesa to see the Dutten Family show.  The food was excellent and the gardens were beautiful but we were in for a real treat seeing this talented family perform on stage.  They played fiddle, guitar, banjo's, and all kinds of instruments while singing and some even did clog dancing.  We totally enjoyed the show - thank you very much Bill & Dana!

A great day with more good friends!

Friday, Friday, March 4th, 2011 - Mesa Flea Market with Lynn - John and Dick went hiking

Lynn and I left Wickenberg this morning to drive to Mesa to go to the flea market.  I couldn't believe all the cars that were at the flea market when we got there at 11:00 - this obviously is a very poplar place to do some shopping.  After driving around a bit (I thought I was going to have to get out and direct traffic) we finally found a place to park.  There are 4 huge buildings and each building was full of vendors on each side - we had some serious shopping to do. lol  We shopped a while and then sat and enjoyed a chef salad while listening to a gal sing karokee.  Both Lynn and I made a few purchases before we headed back to meet up with John and Dick. 

Dick had made a Mexican casserole along with garlic bread and salad - great meal with good company.  Then John and I had a new experience.  We got to play bowling and golf on a WII game.  We had never done that before and it was quite fun.

Thanks for another great day Lynn & Dick!

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 - Williams to Jerome to Wickenberg to visit with Lynn & Dick

We slept in a little this morning and went down to the continental breakfast at the Howard Johnson's around 8:30 this morning before we packed up the car to head to Wickenberg.  On our way to Lynn & Dick's we decided to drive up to Jerome to do some sightseeing and touring of this very interesting old mining town.The following link tells a little bit about Jerome and different things you can see and do in Jerome:

From there we headed to Wickenberg to spend two nights with Lynn & Dick.  We arrived about 4:45 and visited with Lynn until Dick got home around 6:00.  We had a outstanding delicious dinner of grilled turkey, delicious salad, vegetables, and dessert!  Great meal - no one walked away from the table hungry.  Afterwards we played the domino's game called Spinner before we called it a night. 

Great day with good friends!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

3-2-2011 Hiking from the Bright Angel Trailhead to Plateau Point and back in one day

We spent the evening at the Grand Canyon Park Lodge which is 1/4 mile away from the Bright Angel Lodge where we had a good breakfast and started our hike.  We woke up at 6:00AM and in the restaurant by 6:35AM to eat breakfast. We had a great breakfast before heading out. 

We started out on our hike at 7:35AM.  It was a beautiful day for the hike overcast skies and comfortable temperatures - about 45 degrees starting out and soon warmed up to 50's on the hike down.  Right at the top we put on our crampons because the trail was snow and ice covered for the first two miles (thank god for crampons or Kathi wouldn't of even started the hike).  We met a mule train about 1 1/2 hours in to the hike.  There were a number of mules lead by one wrangler who said he had been doing this for 7 days a week for 7 years.  Either he spent his night at Phantom Ranch or he would of had to of started out from the rim about 4:00AM in the morning.  We are not sure which! He said he carried luggage for guest on the way down and some luggage and garbage, etc on the way back up to the Bright Angel Trailhead.

We arrived at Indian Gardens about 10:15 and took a couple of breaks along the way.  We made it a point to take our time so we wouldn't burn ourselves out because we knew we had 6 miles to get back up the Bright Angel Trailhead (3,100 feet of elevation to climb).  We continued on from Indian Garden to Plateau Point which is another 1-1/2 miles and arrived there around 10:50.  We sat down and enjoyed our lunch and took a few pictures before we headed back up.  At Plateau Point a hiker is still 1500 feet above the muddy and murky Colorado River.  The water level was high and the rapids are running wild and the water is very muddy from spring run off.  We only spent about 1/2 hour at Plateau Point and then headed out for the long and grueling climb back up Bright Angel Trail.  We stopped numerous times to catch our breath and eat some snacks and arrived at the top at 3:15.  The last 1-1/2 miles was really tough as we had already hiked 10-1/2 miles and still had that last 1-1/2 miles to go and about 1000 feet to climb..

It felt so good to walk on level terrain once we got to the top and walked to our car.  After changing our boots (felt good to put on tennis) we hopped in the car and drove to Williams where we are staying at a Howard Johnson's with a HOT TUB!  Boy, did that feel good!

Life is still good but we are really tired!  (We can't believe we call beating ourselves half to death fun)

Good night!

John is excited and ready to hike!  Plateau Point trail is in the background only 6 miles away!

Bright Angel Trail!  Snowcovered for the first couple of miles and then we hiked a mile or so in real muddy conditions!

It's a long way down!  You can see the trail in the back ground of exactly where we went!

We are ready for a long day of hiking!  Thank god for crampons (you can see them on John's shoes)

Rest Stop on the way down!

Wrangler coming up from Phantom Ranch!

On our way down Bright Angel Trail - next stop is Indian Garden!

Leaving Indian Gardens and heading to Plateau Point!  We were on this trail 10 years ago with Deb & Greg Stoiber!

View from the trail!

Looking from the Trail at Plateau Point up to where we have to hike to get to Bright Angel Trailhead!

John standing at the edge on Plateau Point

Plateau Point - Muddy Murky Colorado River 1500 feet below Plateau Point

Only 1/2 mile to go to the top - it was a long 1/2 mile!

3-1-2011 - Saying goodbye to St. George and driving to the Grand Canyon

We packed up our car and headed out of St. George around 9:00AM this morning.  We went up thru Zion National Park and drove to Fredonia.  Fredonia is where we had stopped at a gas station on our way to Antelope Canyon with Lynn, Dick, Larry, Paula, and John.  When I went into go to the restroom here was a picture of a gal that looked so much like me or like my friend Celeste.  So I wanted to stop back there and see if I could find out any thing on this gal.  Well, here it happened to be her Uncle that was working at the gas station and he said her name was Mindy Kessler and she lives in Beaver, Utah now.  The other surprising thing is that she is adopted.  Hmmmmm - has to make us wonder.  Anyway, it was interesting finding out a little bit about her.

From there we drove to Marble Canyon and Lee's Ferry.  Lee's Ferry is the spot that several years ago we got on a raft with Jerri and Patti Brecke and other's and rafted 185 miles of the Grand Canyon.  We stayed the night before the rafting trip in Marble Canyon.  So that was kind of fun to go back and see the area again.  From there we went to the Grand Canyon and did a lot of sight seeing on the way and got a hotel about a 1/4 of a mile from the Bright Angel Trailhead.

Tomorrow we plan on doing the 12 mile hike (round trip) to Plateau Point and then back up Bright Angel Trail.  That will be 4-1/2 miles of switchbacks going down to Indian Garden and then another 1-1/2 miles to Plateau Point.  We hope to have lunch there and then head back up the Bright Angel Trail.

I am sure we will be tired tomorrow night!

Life is good!
On our way to Marble Canyon!

Colorado River - down by Lee's Ferry - there were actually rafts being loaded for a rafting trip!  We wanted to hop on!

Colorado River!

Rafter and Kayaker - taken from the Marble Canyon Bridge!

Marble Canyon Bridge!  There are two bridges - old one you can walk across and then a new one for vehicles!

Awesome Grand Canyon and beautiful Colorado River!

Pictures taken along the way to the Grand Canyon Lodge area!  We stopped at numerous scenic sights!

Monday, February 28, 2011

2-28-2011 - last day in St. George

John and I got up this morning and ate breakfast and then went out to hike the Bear Claw Poppy Trail for the last time.  We hiked up to the cairn's and then back down under blue skies and Signal Mountain in the background with clouds hanging low on the mountain.  What a beautiful view and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Afterwards we came back to the condo and finished up packing as we will leave tomorrow morning for the Grand Canyon.  John has decided that we will go through Page, Arizona to get to the south rim of the Grand Canyon as it is really a pretty drive.

After we got done packing everything up I went swimming and enjoyed some time in the hot tub.  Our two months in St. George has been wonderful and I am certain that we will be back.  This area has everything that we could possibly want.  There is hiking trails all over, bike trails (hopefully they will all be repaired when we come back next time) and just about anything else we could ask for. 

Life is good!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

2-27-2011 - Going to mass and then taking a ride to Pine Valley

We got up this morning and went to Mass in St. George and then decided to take a ride up to Pine Valley.  As soon as we got north of Snow Canyon we were surrounded by freshly fallen snow from the night before.    It is about a 30 mile drive up to Pine Valley with mountains and valleys all around us.  We first drove through a little town of Veyo (it is known for there fantastic pie shop) and then turned off of highway 18 to head towards Pine Valley.  What a beautiful drive and with fresh snow from last night it was absolutely gorgeous with the sun shining on the snow.  My understanding is that Pine Valley was discovered in 1855 when Gunlock Bill and Isaac Riddle were caring for some cattle and one of the cows strayed.  When they went looking for that cow they found Pine Valley.  It really is a peaceful looking little village up in the mountains. 

Now we are going to start packing up in hopes that the sun will be out tomorrow and we can spend our last day hiking in the St. George area before we leave on Tuesday!

Have a great day everyone!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

2-25 & 2-26-2011 Paradie of Homes

The weather forecast for today and the next several days is predicted to be cloudy and rainy.  John and I decided that being we wouldn't be going out hiking we bought tickets and went to the Parade of Homes in St. George and surrounding areas.  There are 26 homes ranging from $165,000 on up to $4.3 Million dollars (yikes).  All of the homes were well decorated and just breathtaking with some incredible views of the St. George area.  It is unbelievable the amount of money that is spent on the homes out here.  We did enjoy ourselves and got to see some amazing decorating and designs with backyards with infinity pools, hot tubs, amazing barbeque grills and even some have fridges built right into their grill bars!  Of course most of the homes have the desert landscape but a few have small lawns to mow.  John said that it would hardly pay to even start a lawnmower.

When we got back to the Sports Village we saw that there was an open house on a condo that is for sale in the Sports Village so we decided to take a look at it.  It is a large two bedroom/2 bathroom condo with a large livingroom/dining room area and a very nice kitchen that overlooks the lap pool and hot tub.  It also has a very large wood deck.   Very interesting!

Only two more days and we will leave St. George and head to the Grand Canyon and then on to Wickenburg and Surprise to visit with friends before we head back to Wisconsin.  I sure hope the weather warms up in Wisconsin before we get there.

Pictures below are just a few pictures I took of some of the homes that we toured.  Obviously, a lot of people have way to much money! lol

Thursday, February 24, 2011

2-23-2011 Hiking Bear Claw

This morning John and I decided to hike up to the Cairn on Bear Claw Poppy Trail.  It was a beautiful morning but you could see as you looked at Signal Mountain that a storm is coming in.  We are suppose to have bad weather starting tomorrow afternoon and Saturday in the St. George area.  Once we got up to the top we sat and just enjoyed the view of all the canyons, bluffs, Signal Mountain, and St. George.  It is hard to believe that our two months of being in St. George is coming to an end.  We have so enjoyed it here and I am certain we will be back.  St. George has so much to offer as far as hiking and biking goes and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking in all directions.

This afternoon we decided to just go for a drive and we went out to Santa Clara and drove around a little admiring the incredibly huge and gorgeous homes in that area.  From there we went out to Kayenta and then up to Snow Canyon.  Afterwards, we came home and John grilled some chicken and I made a salad and a butternut squash.  We are emptying out our refrig. and trying to use up everything before we leave on Tuesday.

We have made plans to go to the Grand Canyon on Tuesday and hiking down to Plateau Point on Wednesday and then going to Lynn and Dick's on Thursday and Friday.  On Saturday morning we will leave and go to Surprise, Arizona to spend a few days with Dana and Bill Brown.  Hopefully, we will also get time to stop and see Eve and Chad at White Tanks (we may even bike up there as I don't think it is very far from where Dana and Bill are staying).  Our plans are to stop in and visit my sister, Sharon and her hubby in Scottsdale, Arizona.  They are going to be there from March 5th to the 12th.

Another great day!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2-22-2011 Biking in Zion Canyon

We left the condo around 9:00AM this morning and headed to Zion to bike along the corridor.  When we first started out it was very chilly as the sun had not risen above the rim of the canyon.  We parked the car at the Grotto Parking lot and unloaded the bike.  We decided to bike to the east end of the canyon at the entry to the narrows and then decided to bike out of the corridor and into Springdale to get some hot drinks.  We sat outside the Pioneer Lodge and I drank hot chocolate while John enjoyed a hot cup of coffee as we read the paper.  When we started back biking an hour later it had warmed up and made for a beautiful bike ride.  We ended up biking and then stopping at our car to pick up our picnic lunch and biked down to where the climbers were out climbing along the rock.  We sat on a rock and ate lunch while watching the climbers.  I can't even imagine being able to do that - of course, John would love it.  In fact, we had stopped in to Zion Adventure to see what they would charge to take John out climbing and it was $250.00 for a half of a day.  No thank you!

After biking to Springdale for coffee and hot chocolate we had to stop and show our National Park Pass to get back into the park.  The ranger was curious about our bike and asked several questions and we told him that we had 16,000 miles on the bike and that we had biked from Wisconsin to Washington last summer.  His comment was "have the two of you thought about seeking counseling for this problem".  Then he laughed and we laughed with him.  It is amazing the different responses that we have heard from people that we meet when we are on our bike. 

We had a wonderful day biking and then loaded up the bike and drove up the switchbacks and thru the tunnel before heading back to St. George.  Tonight we are having a delicious salad, sweet potatoes, and grilled chicken for supper.  Yum Yum Yum!

Another great day!
Getting ready to ride in Zion - what an amazing place to bike!

Yes, we are biking and there is snow in Zion!

Virgin River running along the road into the corridor in Zion!

Entrance to Zion National Park

Virgin River - can't you just hear it running!

Majestic Views everywhere you look!

We love the blue skies!

Angels Landing!  One of John's favorite places to hike in Zion (Observation Point is his 1st place to hike)

Deer along side the road in Zion - they are not afraid of people or the cars - they know they are safe here!

What a wonderful bike ride!