Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Val and I want to wish all our friends and family a very merry Christmas.  Our trip to Virginia started Tuesday with a flight from California to DC where we spent the night with Chris and Nancy and celebrated Matt's  29th birthday.  Then it was up to Fenwick Island where Val and I put up a tree and did a lot of baking.  On Christmas eve we traveled to Richmond where we spent time  with family and friends. 
Our Christmas day was in Richmond, first at my brother Franklin's house and then at Beth's house (Val's sister).  We were able to get my parents to Franklin's house which was very nice.  And seeing Joanie and everyone else at Beth's was wonderful.
Of course the day started a little rough as I woke up Christmas morning at the Omni Hotel with a bad case of vertigo with my eyes moving rapidly back and forth.  It took a quick visit to the ER at MCV to get some medicine so that I could function.   And when I say quick, I'm talking about 33 minutes from the time I walked in to the time I left.  Amazing.  And as of this morning ( the 26th) I am feeling much better thank goodness.  What an odd thing to happen.

Matt, Uliana, Emily, Mariam Val and I all drove to Fenwick Island last night where we opened our presents this morning.  It was beautiful to see our tree with the ocean view behind.  It was a nice extension of Christmas.

We will be here in Fenwick until Saturday when Val and I will head back to Richmond for three days to do some visiting.  Then we head back to the west coast on the 4th.  Quite a quick trip.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Our Foray into Mexico for Drugs.

Oh, I get it, you thought I meant illegal drugs.  Shame on you...
I guess it does sounds more risky and exciting than it actually was.  After trying to get an asthma prescription refilled through my primary care physician who unfortunately just retired (and whose replacement wouldn't give me a refill until I saw him in Richmond, just a little hard to do) we decided to do what so many other Americans and Canadians do and take a trip into Mexico.  We went with Barb and Joe who have done it before, and the trip went without a hitch.  We parked the car on the US side and walked into the town of Algedones which boasts (within its four block area) the highest number of dentists, optometrists and pharmacies in the world.  And I believe it.  Mixed in with all the shops were hundreds of sidewalk vendors selling their wares, most of it jewelry. It took some time for Val to realize that she should keep her hands in her pockets since the vendors would literally put their products in your hand as you walked buy.  They were polite but very persistent.  "No, gracias" were the words of the day.
After exploring the area for a while, I finally located a pharmacy that had what I wanted (several places had it back-ordered).  While there we also picked up a couple of other prescriptions that we might need before we can return to Richmond and get an appointment.  Joe and Barb also found what they needed and we headed back to the border where we encountered a short 20 minute wait.  The officer there peeked in my bags of drugs and sent me through with a "have a nice day."  Painless.
Oh, and I almost forgot.  We also bought some 1921 Tequila Crema on the advice of a guy I met playing pickleball at the Nationals.  It was about half the cost of buying it in the US (if you can even find it).  It's like Bailey's with a touch of coffee.  We had some as soon as we returned to the rig.  Excellent!

Here's a picture Val took on a walk in Yuma while I was helping fix our Bigfoot levelers in Yuma.

And then yesterday we headed back to Menifee, California for a few days before we fly to Virginia for the holidays. The drive can only be described as diverse.  We left Yuma  where it was partly cloudy and 50 degrees.  About two hours into the trip, we headed up over the mountains and at 3500 feet hit a snowstorm. The ground was white and the windshield was caked with snow.  It wasn't what we had expected on our trip.  But just as fast as it had started, we descended the western side of the mountains with rainbows in front of us much of the way and then found sunny skies and temperatures in the 60's.  Definitely an oddly beautiful trip.
A little hard to capture the rainbow through the truck window, but you can make it out.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Let it snow, let it snow...

Well, we did get some snow here yesterday in the park, and the trees were ice covered this morning.  I know.  I know.  You thought we'd be following the warm weather in our travels.
Um, so did we.  But it was beautiful, and it melted fast at our level (3200 feet).

Scene by our rig.  Fog is hiding the mountains.

Pictures Val took on her walk .  The sun was melting the snow in the mountains.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Spotted from our rear windows.

We've seen an eagle poised on the rocks above the river several times since we arrived.  But yesterday we saw two, so it was time to take a walk along the riverbank to get a closer look.  I wish my telephoto lens was of better quality (the view through our small Canon image stabilized binoculars was awesome) so that I could have gotten better pictures, but these will have to do.  At least you get the idea.

Meanwhile, it may snow on us tonight.  It brings back memories of Virginia two years ago before we escaped to Florida!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Baby, it's cold outside.

What a change.  We're sitting here in the RV after quickly stowing the grill, chairs and table.  The fireplace is on, and we're listening to Christmas music by way of Spotify, my new favorite music program that seems to have practically every album/CD ever recorded.  I few days ago I went to several lists of the top Christmas CD's for 2010/2011 and added them to my Christmas music playlist.  All but one was on Spotify, so we're listening to all the new music.  Cool.
But back to the "Baby, it's cold outside" title.  It's been chilly at night here near Cottonwood, but days have been beautiful with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70's. Today starts several days of temps in the low 50's (hopefully!) and nights in the 30's and maybe dipping into the 20's. There is even a chance of snow  for the next two days.  I guess we waited a little too long to move further south.  We leave next Thursday for Yuma.
Actually the cold weather will let us do some housekeeping and pre-Christmas prep that we need to get done.  We're flying back to VA on the 20th and have some plans to finish.

Meanwhile, we went to Jerome with Russ and Jodi a few days ago and had a wonderful day.  We started with breakfast at a little place called the Mile High Cafe (since Jerome is right at a mile high) and then spent several hours exploring the town with all its shops and views.  (Margie and Dee:  you will love it there!)

One of the views as we walked through Jerome.

And just to remind us of how much we miss Lola, we saw this shop.

And to remind Dean of what I told him when they got Lola...

On another day, Val and I took the bike up through Jerome and over the mountains to Prescott.  It was a beautiful ride on a warm day.  And two days ago we took the bike on 89 north through Sedona to Flagstaff.  The ride was amazing with the red rock formations all around and great mountain views.  We plan to go back to Sedona to explore if the weather breaks before we have to leave.  Let's hope it does.  Otherwise, we'll be back here in a couple of months.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A pleasant surprise

Dean and Margie have flown to New Jersey to visit family and see their new GREAT grandbaby.  Rich and Dee headed back to southern California to meet their daughter for Thanksgiving.  And as for us, we headed north to Verde Valley near Cottonwood.  And what a pleasant surprise.  The campground and surrounding area is beautiful; so much so that we will probably extend our stay here for a third week.
Here are a few pictures from a walk we took today.

The river that flows along the edge of the campground.

A bit further upstream as the sun was setting.

In the campground as we walked back to our rig.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Nationals: the good, the bad and the lessons learned

What an experience we've had at the Nationals!  Dean and I started on Monday in the our age bracket in men's doubles, and we found out right away what the caliber of play is out here.  And it is phenomenal.  We lost in two straight games, were sent to the lower bracket and lost handily to the next team.  It was comforting to know that the first team that beat us advanced 6 rounds and the second team advanced 5 rounds so they were excellent players.  But still.  Whew...

On Wednesday, Dee and I started the mixed doubles in the 50+ age bracket and although Dee (like Dean as well) was having trouble with her serve, we made a good show of it, but lost two straight matches.  Argh.  Out again.

Thursday brought singles for me, something I've only played maybe 15 times.  I faced a 5.0 (the top level) player(and last years gold winner) and started strong with an 11-9 win in the first game.  Unfortunately, my forehand let me down in the last two games as I rushed points and though the 3rd game was close, I lost.  That sent me to the lower bracket where I faced a 4.5 player and won.  Hooray!  Finally a win at the Nationals!  Unfortunately that good feeling was short-lived as I lost the next match.  I was down 13-3 before I relaxed, but after fighting back to 13-10, I made two errors and it was over.  At least I was learning.

And finally, Dean and I entered the Open Men's doubles on Friday with the idea that we should play our best and take it as a learning experience.  This group included 59 teams including all of the top players in the country.  We won our first match against two young players and advanced to meet two well-known 5.0 players.  We started strong with a 7-1 lead, but they came back to tie it at 7.  Despite having a chance at 11-10 and 12-11, we lost that game 14-12.  The next game was not as close unfortunately, but we gave it our all.  It was disappointing, but we enjoyed watching this team advance through several rounds against great players.  In our third match, we faced two older players with many, many years of experience and they beat us in a game that we felt we should have won.  It was not our best effort.

The toll that the matches (especially singles) took on my repaired knee made me rethink my entry in the Open Singles and I erred on the side of caution and withdrew.  It was the right move.  The intensity of play was far beyond what we have ever seen with every point being contested.  It was a pleasure playing against the best and we now know what we need to do to get to the next level.  But most important was the chance to meet new players and make new friends.  Pickleball players, even at this top level, are like family (the good side).  They are friendly and helpful.  We got the chance to learn from the best, people like Jim Wright from the Villages who offered to help me with my game (and someone I aspire to be like).  He was a true gentleman on the court and it was an honor to spend time with him.  And there were so many others that we met that we look forward to seeing again down the road.

And finally, a thank you to all our friends (15 in all) that traveled to see us play.  Sorry we didn't win more matches so that your trip was more worthwhile.  Maybe next year...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Southern California & Arizona

Our time in sunny southern California (and now Arizona) has been occupied with preparation for the USAPA nationals starting next Monday.  Dean and I have been playing our best pickleball of late and have high hopes that we will do well in the tournament.  The top players in the sport will be there so we are also prepared to have it be a learning experience.  Wish us luck.

Here are a few pics from thee past couple of weeks.  This is a morning view from our site near (you probably guessed) Palm Springs.

A young black crested night heron that waited patiently outside our rig each morning.  The lady that had our site before us had fed it.

Our first time seeing a road-runner.  A curious fellow as well.

The newest addition to our our RV family.  This is Lola, Dean and Margie's 4 month old Maltese.

As we arrived in Palm Desert, the clouds were rolling over the mountains from the west.  

And finally, the sunrise from our campground in Buckeye, Arizona this morning.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Yosemite (part 3)

Our last trip into Yosemite took us 22 miles up Tioga Pass Road to the trail-head for North Dome, supposedly a fairly strenuous 10 mile hike (with the requisite side trips).  As it turned out, the information was right.  Much of the hike was through beautiful woods with occasional glimpses of what was to come.  The start was a bit slippery as the snow was on the trail.

After a couple of miles we stopped for some water and a snack (Pop-Tarts).  

As we sat on a log to rest, I noticed a round marker embedded in a large rock by the trail.  We got up to read the marker which was a geological survey marker from 1905.  

As we looked back, the remainder of our Pop-Tart had fallen off of the log.  Or so we thought.
This little fellow had evidently had been waiting to make his move.  He seemed to enjoy his prize.

We took a detour at about 3.5 miles to see Indian Rock Arch, a thirty story climb in a short distance.  It was well worth the effort.

As we hiked on, we got occasional glimpses of what we thought was North Dome.  But we were wrong, and when we arrived at a huge outcropping of rock we could see that we had a long hike down and back up to actually get to our destination. 

 It took some scrambling down a granite wall (thankfully with two huge spikes in the rock in case you needed them) and then a final climb up the dome to get the views we wanted of Half-Dome.

Notice the backward lean I have.  It gave us a strange feeling to look through the camera near the edge.

Looking down to the valley.

And a few parting shots from this hike.

Our stay in this area of California was one of our best.  We have seen so many wonderful parks in our travels and each one was special.  But we both agreed that Yosemite was the most strikingly beautiful of all of them.

We've now landed in southern California for a couple of weeks before heading to Arizona for November.  It was sad to leave Yosemite with its clear cool air.  It hit 94 today and it's smoggy here in Menifee.  Quite a change.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Yosemite (part 2)

This is a couple of days late as we are in one of only two places we've been where our Verizon coverage is next to nothing.  But here goes.
We took a short trip to see a small grove of Sequoias at Merced Grove and it was worth the trip.  Although we have been to Sequoia National Park, the size and beauty of the trees never ceases to amaze us.

Our next trip was a double hike with an anti-climactic finish at Glacier Point, one of the most visited views in the park. We started at the Sentinel Dome trail-head and were treated to beautiful views along the way.  The ascent to the top of the dome was not too tough and we got to see a 360 degree view of Yosemite.  

This is all that remains of the Jeffrey Pine made famous in an Ansel Adams photo.  The tree died in the seventies during a long drought despite volunteers hauling buckets of water to the top of the dome.  It finally fell in 2003.

After leaving Sentinel, we took the back route to Taft Point, known as one of the scariest overlooks in the park with just a small metal railing to keep you from falling.  In the warning we read, it's listed as "not just a fall, but a squish you like a bug fall".  And when we peaked over the edge, we knew why.

Along the way to Taft, we took a little excursion to this overlook.  

Here's Val getting a picture of the drop.

And the view over the edge.

Here's a look as we approached Taft.  Notice the small railing (upper left).

Over the edge.

View of Yosemite Falls from Taft Point.

A closer view showing the color.

Before we left, we were visited by two ravens.

And this little fellow.

After hiking back to the bike, we went up to Glacier Point and walked to the overlook.  Despite being a wonderful view, there were a lot of people there, and it couldn't match what we had experienced earlier. 

As we headed home, Val and I both agreed that this day's hike was the most beautiful we've ever done.

Next on the list: North Dome.