Monday, August 31, 2009

Drives of a Lifetime (part 2)

O.k. let's finish reviewing this list of National Geographic Traveler magazine's "50 Drives of a Lifetime". Or at least we'll take a peek at the next 4 of them that we've had a chance to enjoy. Of course, I could do several posts on each and every stop, but won't take the time here. Let me know if you'd like to hear more about any of these and I'd be happy to oblige.

Warning - this is going to make you want to go on a road trip!

1. Olympic Peninsula, Washington - We've done a pretty good chunk of this one just a few years ago. I think this was one of our first driving vacations without the kids with us and with my new camera. I drove Terry crazy asking him to stop so I could take pictures. It was fun, but definitely quiet without Amy & Kevin. We would absolutely go back to this area again!

Here are a few highlights:
Crescent Lake is gorgeous!
Sol Duc Hot Springs is pretty cool but a little smelly from the sulpher in the springs.
Hoh Rain forest was amazing, but probably the most humid place I've ever been.
Here are just a few photos that I took:

Crescent Lake and the cottages at Crescent Lake - Don't they just take you back about 50+ years?

The one at the top is a photo of Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.

2. California's Pacific Coast Highway - Since we lived in southern Cal for 18 years we had the privilege of driving PCH and the central coast many times. It is truly one of the most gorgeous places in the world and explains why the cost of living is out of this world. Of the places listed here, my top pics would probably be:

Monterey Bay Aquarium - You have to go at least once. It is so much fun to watch the sea otters and see all the crazy creatures that live under our seas.

San Simeon - Hearst Castle is just unbelievable! Especially considering it was built during the Great Depression. I want to go around Christmas sometime when they have it decorated for the holidays.

Carmel-by-the-Sea - storybook town, perfect weather and oh so quaint. Would have loved to go much more often. This is a little sliver of the Carmel Mission. There are old Spanish missions all up and down the Cal coast. Well worth visiting too!

Cambria - great little town for a romantic getaway.

3. Rocky Mountains - Although we have done just a sliver of this drive, I thought I'd mention it because we just got back from visiting Rocky Mountain National Park (one of our favorites) last week. We saw tranquil lakes, amazing wildlife, and drove Trail Ridge Road. It's the highest continuous paved road in the United States, reaching an elevation of 12,183 feet (That's above the tree line).

4. Santa Barbara Loop - This is another area that we're quite familiar with, since it was less than 2 hours from our house so an easy day trip or lovely weekend. Also a gorgeous area in So Cal! Hard to list favorites. We have lots of stories from these parts.

- A fun place to visit with lots of shopping, bakeries, outdoor theater in the summer and much more.

Santa Barbara - A wonderful respite from the heat in the summer with an awesome arts and crafts fair every Sunday. Nice restaurants too. If you ever have a chance, attend an outdoor concert with a view of the ocean at the Santa Barbara Bowl. We discovered it just before we moved away and are sad that we didn't know about it sooner.

Santa Ynez Valley - Made semi-famous by the movie, Sideways. The NGT magazine failed to mention one of our favorite stops for lunch. The Cold Springs Tavern, which used to be a stage coach stop. It's well worth the short diversion off the highway on the way to Solvang. Be sure to check it out for a meal or some afternoon refreshment. And don't let the bikers intimidate you. Most of them are dentists or podiatrists from Orange County.

Even though we've skimmed the edges of some of the other Southwestern drives, I don't feel like we've done enough to mention them, so I'll leave it at that. It's been so much fun reliving some of those unforgettable trips. I would love to do them all again anytime.

In looking at the remaining drives, I think it would be nearly impossible to decide which one I would want to do next, if I could choose any of them. I will definitely keep this list as reference for when we're planning trips in the future. Let me know which of them you've had a chance to see. Travel is such a gift! I would do it full time if I had the chance...o.k., maybe not full time, but at least half time. I'm so blessed that I've had the chance to go as much as I have, considering I had only gone on 1 vacation before I was 16 years old.

If you want to continue to hear about our Colorado trip, stay tuned and come back soon.

Happy Trails! I look forward to hearing from you.
Drives of a Lifetime!
If you have any interest in traveling, please bookmark the National Geographic Traveler Drives of a Lifetime web page, then start saving your pennies and your vacation days and make plans to visit as many of these as possible.

My friend, Linda mentioned the list to me the other day and I couldn't wait to get home and check it out. Terry and I have subscribed to NG Traveler since the very first magazine was published. It's one that we save and refer to over and over again. An absolute wealth of information! Even if you've never seen it, you can imagine the quality, since it comes from the same publisher as its wonderful yellow-trimmed predecessor National Geographic magazine.

So, now that we've established the quality of the resource, let's take a peek at the list of 50 drives that NGT considers "not to be missed". Since you can obviously read the list for yourself, I'll just highlight a few of the drives that we've had the privilege of enjoying to give you my personal perspective.

British Columbia Drive -
(pictured above) Terry and I have covered a fair amount of this drive and would definitely rate it in our top 10. Whistler and Victoria were a couple of the highlights of our trip. We would jump at the chance to return again to the beauty of this area.

Hallowed Ground Virginia - Another area where we've experienced portions of the drive described. I would say that Gettysburg was the highlight of our time in that area. Even if you're not a history buff, this is an amazing place to relive a pivotal point in our nation's history.

Hana Highway - We were thrilled to be able to visit this location just last December and the photo in my header was taken on our helicopter ride of that very highway. It's a gorgeous, lush green slice of Maui with amazing Rainbow Eucalyptus trees, wild roosters and so much more. Here's a link to my post about our Hana Highway trip, although in looking at it again, it really doesn't do it justice at all. Maybe I'll go back sometime and post more pics and details.

Mount Hood, Oregon - We've enjoyed bits and pieces of this drive and can confirm that there is some beautiful countryside to be seen. Even if you only have a small slice of your day, Multnomah Falls (shown here) is well worth a visit any time of year. Here's a link to my post about the time we spent in that area.

New Old West Arizona - Of the places we've visited on this drive, I would say that Bisbee is definitely worth the trip. This eclectic little town is a wonderful variety of history, art, and fun. I was going to link to my post about our visit there in December a few years ago, but I can't believe that I didn't post any pics of the town itself and I have some really fun ones. I'm realizing that my best intentions of posting are often thwarted by the reality of life and limits of time.

Personally, I'd pass on Tombstone, since it's quite touristy, but it all depends on what you're looking for. Kartchner Caverns has been high on our list of places to visit since we moved back to AZ, so someday we'll get there, I'm sure.

O.k., so I've listed 5 of the 50 drives. In looking at the list there are at least 5 more that we've been able to travel, so I'll save those for another day. What a blessing to be able to see so much of God's awesome creation! I look forward to checking a few more of these off our list in the coming years as well. Do you want to come along? We're always looking for traveling companions to enjoy the journey with us.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Scenic Photos from Vacation

I am slowly but surely getting thru my photos from vacation and will continue to post about the activities and people that we shared our time with. I was working on putting together some scenery slides for another purpose, so thought I'd share those with you now.

There aren't any people in these shots, so if that's what you're looking for you'll need to wait a little longer. Hopefully you'll enjoy these for the simple beauty of God's creation, which is absolutely amazing.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Our Last Day in Steamboat Springs - Day 9 (Part 1)

Just a warning...these posts may not end up to be in chronological order, but it doesn't really matter. You'll get the idea anyway. Our last day in SS was Saturday, the 22nd. There were just 4 things on my list of to-do's before we left town.
  1. Pack the car and don't forget anything
  2. Have breakfast at Winona's
  3. Say goodbye to Kevin
  4. Go to the Saturday Farmer's Market in downtown Steamboat Springs
We dropped off our keys right about 10 am and headed downtown to Winona's. The only reason I wanted to go there was the tiny little ad that I saw in the local tourist paper touting their famous cinnamon rolls. The ad said that their cinn rolls had been mentioned in Gourmet, Sunset and a few other national magazines. My thinking was that if they were that good, they were worth investigating.

Winona's was a tiny cafe with a few extra tables outside. Even though it was starting to get warm (80's) we opted to sit outside, so we didn't have to wait too long to eat. They had umbrellas over the tables, so the temps were fine. The pic here is our view of the mountain from our table.

After perusing the menu I decided on a single order of Crab Eggs Benedict with a cinnamon roll instead of toast. There was no way I would pass up the roll and miss the opportunity for a special treat.

The waitress brought our drinks, then while we were waiting for the rest of our food she set down the cinnamon roll in front of me. I couldn't help but say, "Oh my gosh!!!" when I saw it and the lady at the next table laughed at me. Take a look at this thing compared to the size of the coffee cup! It was HUGE! Not only huge, but delicious too. The roll was warm from the oven and the frosting must have been ladled from a warmer because it was fresh, sweet, warm with a little touch of lemon flavor. Perfect topping for the sweet roll! Terry, Kevin and I all got to share it and we still had about half of it left to take on the road with us.
A little later our meals came. The guy's food looked good, but mine was the best, I'm sure. The Crab Eggs Benedict was awesome with big chunks of crab throughout and the fried potatoes were seasoned just right. Of course, I couldn't finish everything, but what I had was delicious and filling to prepare us for our road trip home.

After breakfast we said our goodbyes to Kevin. He had a 10 hour drive back to Omaha and wanted to get there that night. This is his new car, if you haven't seen it yet. Pretty spiffy huh?

After he drove away, Terry and I walked across the street to the Farmer's Market to pick up a few treats to take home.

First off, we wanted to get some more Palisades peaches to bring home. We had picked a few up on our way into town and they were the best I've had in years! It turns out that we're not the only fans of these peaches. The presidential family made a stop in Palisades to tour the orchard the week before as well. We bought a bag of them at the first booth, then later saw these flats of huge perfect peaches and had to buy another flat as well. They were just that good and we knew we wouldn't have any trouble sharing them!

We also picked up a couple of other treats while we were there: rhubarb preserves, homemade soap and Olathe corn. Next time we'll try to get to the market when we arrive so we can buy food for the week. Everything looked great, but we weren't sure how it would keep during our 2-day drive home so didn't want to take the chance.

I immediately thought of Linda and her love of all things aqua when I saw this little aqua trailer in the middle of the market. Isn't it sweet?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today is Ketchup Day...

Oh wait, let's call that Catch Up Day

We got back into town last Sunday evening after our 10-day vacation and today is my first full day at home to catch up on all my chores.

You'll be happy to know that since I got up this morning I'm on my 3rd cup of coffee and 3rd load of laundry. The grocery list is nearly done, half the mail is sorted, the bed is made, and dishwasher is unloaded and reloaded, there's meat thawing for dinner and the cat box is clean (is that last one TMI?).

I really LOVE having Fridays off. It's a great day to catch up on everything around the house so I can relax and have more free time with family and friends when the weekend comes around. Thanks God for allowing me to have a job where I get to have Fridays off. It really is an answer to prayer.

Oh, and on a related note...about ketchup, not my schedule.

When we were on vacation we went to a restaurant that served their ketchup in a shorter, wider-mouthed jar than the standard one shown here. It wasn't a squeeze bottle and it wasn't the little mini bottle like you get on airplanes. It was a shorter glass bottle, but the wider opening at the top made it SO much easier to pour. I thought it was GENIUS! Strangely, I can't find a picture of it online. Not even on the Heinz website and I'm pretty sure it was Heinz ketchup. Now, I'm not a huge ketchup fan. I only use it for french fries, nothing else. But just thought I'd share that little tidbit to brighten your day. Isn't it nice to know that after so many decades of making ketchup, they can still come up with improvements to make your life easier?

Also, I promise to post more pics from vacation VERY soon. Hopefully by tonight, but definitely before the end of the weekend, so stay tuned. Now I need to get to the grocery store and finish up the laundry so I can truly relax this weekend. We're looking forward to catching up with a few friends. Can't wait!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Are you looking for more about our vacation? Sorry, that's coming soon. While we're waiting, check this out. It looks like a worthwhile event to add to your calendar.

5th Annual Certified Local Fall Festival!
Local First's Biggest and Best Fall Festival Yet5th Annual Fall Festival

Saturday, November 7
10am - 4pm
Duck & Decanter
1651 E Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85016

Now in its 5th year, the Certified Local Fall Festival celebrates Arizona's locally owned businesses with a bang this November! This family-friendly street festival drew over 4,200 attendees last year with over 45 members participating. This year, a record setting 5,000 are expected to attend and we'll have about 60 great local vendors!

Here's a rundown of what's on tap so far:

- Participating members returning from last year include:
Bookmans (a great sponsor this year!), Practical Art, Community Tire, Changing Hands, Salon Estique, SeeSaw Design, Holistic Earth Remedies, and Kidstop Toys - many more to come!

- Local food purveyors include:
Spinato's Pizza, La Grande Orange, Bruce Brown Catering, Urban Cookies and Schreiner's Sausage

- Entertainment is provided by some of Arizona's best musicians & bands

- Local breweries and vineyards provide drinks in the Beer & Wine Garden; Souvia Tea and Pop The Soda Shop will be offering non-alcoholic drinks

- A raffle and silent auction raise funds for Local First and the first 500 attendees receive gift bags! Please contact Helene to donate items and promote your business and help Local First!

- A Bouncing Castle will keep the young ones entertained while kids of all ages can scale the Rock Climbing Wall

- A craft booth will be provided by Arizona Art Supply and Cloud 9 Design will be creating business cards for children who are future entrepreneurs

If you are interested in participating in this year's Fall Festival, please contact Russ at

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Rocky Mountain National Park -

We're sitting in the Courtyard Marriott in Farmington, New Mexico. Should be home later today.

Here's just a glimpse of the last few days when I didn't have time to post anything. We went to Rocky Mountain National Park on Friday and this is a peek at Sprague Lake.

We saw tons of wildlife at the park, so lots more pics to come!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Not much time to post today...

We're headed out to Rocky Mountain National Park, one of my favorite places in all the world - hoping to see some wildlife.

Here's a shot that I took yesterday on our hike near Mad Creek, just outside of town. The water was so cool and refreshing!

Just a few minutes ago I looked out the window and saw a beautiful red fox crossing the lawn at our timeshare! It was gone before I could get a picture though.

Today is our last day to be out and about. I may not be able to post much until we're home, but we'll see. Tommorrow we start the drive home.

Have a wonderful day! More to come.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 5 - Gondola, Dinner and Music
Tuesday turned out to be the perfect day to venture to the top of Mt. Werner. The high temperature in town was 72 degrees and they said it was less than 8 degrees cooler at the top. We were concerned about it being windy, so we wore several layers to be sure we were well insulated if there was a lot of wind. Fortunately there was none to speak of. Whatever breeze there was, was welcome to offset the warm sun beating down on us. We rode the gondola to a little over 9000 ft then took several trails to enjoy the views and the mountain. It was such a treat to have such awesome weather and gorgeous scenery to enjoy.

You'll notice that you hardly see Kevin with a straight face. He's decided that he wants to look goofy in all of his pictures, so I have to try to sneak up on him to get him without a strang
When we got off the gondola, I saw this sign with the names of some of the runs. I thought it was funny that one was named Ted's Ridge. We all know that Terry's brother, Ted is NOT a skier and that the ridge should more appropriately be named Tim's Ridge after his other brother that loves to ski. Oh well, what do they know.

Later in the day we drove downtown to have dinner at Mazzola's, an Italian restaurant in town.

While we were there, Randy tried Calamari for the first time. Before he tried it, he didn't seem to mind too much knowing that it was little baby squid with tentacles and all, but afterward, he didn't seem too keen on having more. It was brave of him to try though.

Generally the food was pretty good. They brought Terry the wrong order and he had to wait a while for the right item while all of us were eating, but they made up for it by comping his item. I really liked my Lemon Scallops with linguini and the others liked their pizzas. It was a nice treat to eat out! After being a waitress for many years, I have to admit that I always enjoy being waited on.

When we got back to the condo the guys broke out the guitars and had some fun playing oldies from this huge binder of songs that Randy got from his brother. Funny thing was that his brother had inserted the wrong words in several of the songs and we had a good laugh at the words that he assumed were part of some of these songs.

I LOVE just sitting and listening to live music and singing, sometimes singing along. I am so thankful that our family and so many friends are musically inclined. It's a gift to me whenever I get to have a night like this.

Day 4 - Enjoying our little vacation town
So Sunday night we all enjoyed a good night's sleep, then decided to explore the little town of Steamboat Springs (population around 10,000). We headed down to the path that follows the Yampa River as well as the main highway that runs thru town.

Except for the fact that we enjoyed a nice walk in the refreshing mountain air, it was relatively uneventful. Afterward we came back, had lunch then took a drive downtown to check out the shops.

As soon as we got there, the guys thought Linda and I were taking too long in the first store so they ditched us to go find a music store. Kevin needed buy some guitar strings for later when the guys are gonna play together. We didn't see them again for a long time.

Linda and I had a great time exploring all around town. We found some very unique and beautiful jewelry, but didn't buy anything yet. We also went into a kitchen store and I found this awesome 3 tiered metal stand. It can be used for almost anything! Cupcakes, cookies, fruit, craft supplies, breads, etc. I can also thread ribbon thru the wire or add colored paper or doilies or whatever. I'm very excited about it!
When we were about halfway thru town the guys called us and were ready to meet up again. They had walked the length of town about 3 times and were getting tired. This is them coming down the street. Aren't my boys silly.

We decided to get an ice cream treat in a nearby candy store too! Sweet - literally. Fun coincidence that Terry was wearing an ice cream T-shirt from Tillamook, Oregon.

Linda and I had found an old fashioned black & white photo booth in the local drug store and went back with the guys to do a couple of photo shoots. Randy & Linda did one together, then Terry, Kevin and I did one. The strips of pics came out pretty dark, but I'm hoping I can scan them and lighten them when we get home. I'll post them if we can get them to look good. The expressions are priceless!

Check out this awesome retro gas station sign. Love it!

After we got back home, Linda was inspired to take some photos of these gorgeous peaches that we bought in Meeker. They are delicious! And the wine bottle that they brought coordinated so well in the color scheme that she just couldn't resist the combination. Lovin' this still life.

Later in the evening we spent time catching up online, loading and editing photos, etc.

We also gathered around the laptop to watch Miranda and Phoebe's latest video release, which was so much fun! Thanks girls for sharing all the joy of your trip with the rest of the world. We wish we could have been there with you!