Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Christmas CARD 2017

            It was 13 last night, but it is sunny and glorious today.  No snow in town and only a foot or two so far in the mountains. 
            We are home now until March, after being on the road for 9 weeks this fall (and another 9+ this spring!)  We worked with Habitat for Humanity in Rexburg, ID for three weeks before exploring south-central Montana, Priest Lake, Idaho, and the North Cascade Highway through northern Washington.  After spending two weeks at home wrapping up summer chores and preparing for winter, we loaded up our Prius for a trip encompassing Albuquerque, Sacramento, Bandon, and all points (and parks) in between.  We crested a 9000’ pass and bottomed out in Death Valley!  A wonder inspiring fall! 
            Our visit to Albuquerque not only included a visit with Mom R and Rick’s brother Randy, but also with Luke!  In February Luke accepted the position of site coordinator for the new Young Adult Volunteer program located in Albuquerque.  He also has some duties scheduling youth programs for the Presbytery of Santa Fe.  He spent the spring and summer firming up placement opportunities and scouting the general lay of the area.  Then, in September, he welcomed five young ladies for their year of service.  He is very happy with the job and area.  Needless to say, G’ma Rembold is thrilled to have another grandson in the area.  Luke is hiking and exploring the southwest, while planning a February trip back to Indonesia to visit girlfriend Kady, who is teaching there. 
            Jed is halfway through his third year as a visiting professor of physics at Willamette University in Salem, OR.  He greatly enjoys the teaching and setting, but is keeping an eye out for a tenure track position.  He’d like to stay in the northwest at a small college.   His research still involves meteors and asteroids. 
Rick suggested I take some of my old
Christmas block prints and digitalize them! 
            When not on the road, we seem to keep very busy!  Ginger has published 5 devotional books this year featuring her prayer drawings. (blurb.com/bookstore  search Rembold)  She is always happy to get back to her kitchen, baking and church work.  We had a tough spring after Ginger’s mom fell in early March and broke her hip.  Multiple trips back and forth to Portland where she was recovering, but ultimately she passed away on May 22.  We feel a big hole, but rejoice for her 97 years of love. We gathered nearly 30 family members together in Bandon for a service in July.
            Rick is thrilled to be back to his mountains, getting out to hike or snowshoe at least once a week.  He drives medical transport a couple times a week for our local Community Connections, and works on remodel projects at home and church. 
            We plan to volunteer in Tucson in March and with Habitat in Kalispell this coming May.  Our big plans for 2018 involve a trip to Switzerland and Northern Italy in September to celebrate our 35th anniversary.  It will be our first trip abroad – exciting and big mountains to explore! 
            Both boys will be home for Christmas.  We thank God constantly for the blessings in our lives, one of which is our many friends and family.  We delight in your cards and letters this time of year!   We are grateful for our health and the ability to  serve and experience God’s incredible creation. 

            May your holidays be joyous and your new year blessed.

PS.  Our contact information is unchanged, but leave a comment here or a return email if you need updating!

For anyone interested....Ginger's Blogs:

JANUARY:  Jed with Grandma Mac before she heads back over to Bandon. 
Mid-Winter Snowshoe trip south of Baker City
Early March:  Luke begins his new job in Albuquerque
MARCH:  Tucson CHRPA work - Ginger prepares to tile a shower

MARCH: Tucson CHRPA work ... Rick reseals a roof
Late MARCH: A stop at Horseshoe Bend, AZ enroute home. 

APRIL:  Kalispell Habitat Build...Rick with two special homeowner kids

APRIL: Kalispell Habitat....Rick up on the roof - he spends ALOT of time there! 
APRIL: Kalispell Habitat... Ginger spent time on the scaffolding! 

Early MAY:  Time out for a pre-season bike ride along the Glacier NP 'Road to the Sun'

Late MAY:  Family gathered at my sister's in Portland

JULY:  Family gathering in Bandon for Mom's Memorial Service

SEPTEMBER: Rexburg, ID Habitat...Rick is back on the upper floors! 

SEPTEMBER: Rexburg Habitat...Ginger nailguns hurricane clips! 

SEPTEMBER:  From the top of Grand Targhee Ski Area

Late OCTOBER: A hike in the Pecos Wilderness with Luke

(And congrats if you scrolled this far down through the pictures!)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

New Mexico-California-Bandon Trek Fall 2017

SATURDAY, October 22
Baker City to Brigham City, UT
404 miles

       We left Baker as a cold wave came in and it looked like it very well scatter some snow showers in the morning! Brrr! We drove to the sunshine during the day! Clouds were awesome across the southern part of Idaho.
       Rick drove us to the rest area past Boise, and then I drove to Snowville (one of my longer driving stretches!) We stopped in Burley at a Denny’s for our main meal of the day.
       Gas in Snowville and then Rick drove us the remaining hour into Brigham City. We stayed at the Howard Johnsons down on Main St. Mistake. OLD motel in disrepair. Not particularly clean, in general unkempt.
       Took a walk upon arrival and then Rick got the tires checked in the Priusl They were low, so maybe tomorrow will grant us better mileage. The car is heavy, we had headwinds, and we were driving 75+ mph!! None of that helps!

SUNDAY, October 23
Brigham City, UT to Cortez, CO
496 miles

       Today’s drive was obviously part of our leisurely pace south for this trip. We are taking three days to drive it. We avoided Salt Lake City today and added at least 40 miles by taking the roads out of Ogden to Heber City, then to Duquesene and back to Price. It was beautiful. The aspen trees have all passed, so just solid groves of white at the tops of the hills. The backside of the Wasatch were snow covered and bright in the morning sun. Not the most direct route, nor the flattest, as we had to go over the 9100’ pass between Dusquesene and Price!
       Rick drove to Price while I took pictures! We stopped at a Subway for lunch/dinner and then I drove down to Arches. We figured this was the time of year to explore a place that we last visited in 1994 on a 108 degree day in the summer time! Ouch! We didn’t have a lot of time, but we took two hours and hiked the shorter hike out to Delicate Arch viewpoint, and then another short hike to Tunnel and PineTree Arches. We saw several others from the road. What we had forgotten about Arches were the pillars and hoodoo formations. It was beautiful in the late afternoon sunshine.
       By the time we drove back out of Arches, gassed up in Moab, ate another bite of our sandwiches from Subway, it was 4:45 as we headed the last two hours down to Cortez. I drove to Monticello and then Rick to Cortez. We arrived just as the sun had set, but it quickly got dark as we went to three places to find some wine for Rick! Third time was the charm! (Colorado doesn’t sell anything but low alcohol beer in stores, but in state run liquor stores – the first one we went to wasn’t open!)
       Econolodge in Cortez and MUCH nicer (and cheaper).

MONDAY, October 23
Cortez, CO to Albuquerque, NM
265 miles (about)

       What a beautiful morning in Cortez! Sunshine, brisk, but not cold! We pulled away at a leisurely 9am. This was a MUCH nicer motel and the lobby was busy with the breakfast crowd.
       Rick drove us through the mountains to Durango. The cottonwoods trees were gorgeous along the hillsides. Aspens pretty well done on the higher ridges. We MUCH prefer this route to Shiprock and across and it only adds 5 miles to the trip. High on a plateau above the Animas River we head south toward Aztec and Bloomfield, NM.
   I start driving in Bloomfield and head up the hill to the top of the mesa and the long gradual pull to the top of the Continental Divide, which we pass at 7300’ just west of Cuba. The NW corner of NM is fairly barren, high desert scrub brush. In places, however, the side of the road is lined with the dried white fluff of the rabbitbrush and some sort of reddish grass that also has white seedhead plumes. We see Angel Peak in the distance.
       A stop in Cuba at a Subway for a bite to eat and then Rick drives the final hour plus on in to Albuquerque. Luke has called and said he will be later (the hike took longer) and Grandma is playing cards from 1-3. No rush then, so we pull off at the Coronado Mall to walk around abit and stretch our legs. We end up finding two pairs of New Balance shoes for me at the Penny’s store, the second pair half price. I am set in shoes for awhile!! Yea!

       To Mom’s apartment by 3:30 to visit and chat until 5:30 when we meet Luke at Super Salads for dinner. It is 7:15 by the time we are ready to leave there. We drop Mom off and then follow Luke the 12 minutes back up Wyoming to Montgomery and his condo near Carlisle. Get set up with a parking place, parking pass, and wind our way to his third floor condo overlooking the rec center and pool with a peak to the east and the Sandias. The balcony actually faces north. (Covered with his array of baskets, etc. filled with soil and kale, tomatoes, etc.)
We will unload the car in the morning!!

TUESDAY, October 24

       Somewhat a day of rest and relaxation! Folks slept in (well, I was up by 6:30a!) and we eventually got the car unloaded of Luke’s treasures. Only took two trips! Then Luke had fun remembering what he had put away to bring down from Moms! I did forget to bring the camera stuff, but we’ll look at it at Christmas time more. We scavenged for lunch and then Luke took off for the office.
       Rick and I stopped at Walmart to pick up groceries for Luke’s and dinner at Moms, so we didn’t actually get to Mom’s until 3pm! She was tired as she had spent the morning doing her laundry. Chit chat and TV time (I worked on NP angels!) and stir fry dinner using the last of the veggies I had brought down from the garden. Luke arrived right around 6 for dinner. Watched World Series game until 8 (I was happy, they were not as the Dodgers were winning!)
       Learned two things today. 1. Grandma does not have a functioning can opener. The three of them spent 10 minutes trying to open a can of cranberry sauce. Put it on the list. 2. If you are buying alcohol in NM, everyone in the checkout must show ID. Bizarre rule. We were getting me a bottle of wine and naturally my wallet was in the car. She ID’d Rick and then turned to me asking for mine. I said it was in the car, but Rick was purchasing. Didn’t matter. Had to run to car and get it.
       Today wasn’t as warm – high 60’s, but it sure felt pleasant. Warming up again, and then turning MUCH cooler for a few days. I think we will try for the botanical gardens on Thursday.

WEDNESDAY, October 25

       Not a very exciting day….We hung out with Luke in the am, Rick went to exercise room. Left around 11:30 to pick up Mom and take her to Walmart for a haircut. Then Village Inn for lunch/dinner since it was PIE Day!! Free pie! Lazy afternoon at Mom’s before heading back to Luke’s at 6. Had to meet him before he left for volleyball. He only has one key to the apartment building, so we have to coordinate!!
       Watched Dodgers lose in 11 innings. Good game.

THURSDAY, October 26
Albuquerque Botanical Garden and Aquarium

       Another beautiful perfect fall weather day! (The last for several from what the forecasts say!) We pick Mom up around 10 and meet Luke down at the Botanical Park at 10:30. He had gone in a little early to work for a bit at his office, which is close to downtown.
 The zoo is also at this location, but we don’t have time today for an all-inclusive pass – too much to see at once! We spend three hours wandering the various niches of the gardens, beginning with the Fantasy Garden designed especially for kids. Wow! Dragons and giant rakes, flower pots, a mini ‘Fiery Furnace’ maze of hoodoos, etc. Fun area. The summer blossoms are past, but there is still plenty of color, especially with the autumn changing of the leaves.
       We visit rose gardens and Japanese gardens, memorial gardens, and an arbor ready for weddings. There is an heirloom farm with beautiful windmills and animals, squash gardens and vineyards. An enclosure houses Mediterranean gardens and SW cacti gardens. There is a Bugarium filled with leaf cutter ants and tarantulas….and all sorts of other creepy crawly critters. UGH! Rick pushes Mom in the wheelchair while Luke and I flit from here to there taking pictures! Near the Bugarium (the Butterfly house was closed for the season) is a huge model railroad that winds through the trees. Lights surround trees, animated lit figures lurk in the woods – they are preparing for ZooBoo this weekend! Luke and I walked out to the cottonwood grove near the river.

       Lunch was in the Shark Reef Cafe, watching the sharks and other fish swim in the giant aquarium. Then we wandered through the Aquarium with its coral reef fish (brightly colored), ocean fish, turtles, and jellyfish. Well done and growing. I was amazed to see what looked like a Washed Ashore sculpture down near the exit with a display of ocean plastics. (But in research, I can’t find where Washed Ashore made it!)
       All in all, a fun day together! We left at 3 so Luke could work and go to a meeting, and Rick had a 3:45 appointment with Toyota for an oil change. After dropping Mom off, I walked over to Walmart, Dollar Tree, and JoAnn’s for some shopping time!!
       Evening back at Luke’s. They watched football, I edited pictures!

FRIDAY, October 27
Hiking the Holy Ghost Creek Trail, Pecos Wilderness Area

       A whole beautiful ‘cool’ day to spend with Luke in the mountains! Luke drove his car up past Santa Fe to the turnoff for the town of Pecos, population 6500, located about 5 miles north of I-25 in the Pecos Valley. We then drove about 20 miles up the valley to the Holy Ghost Campground, the trailhead for our forest meandering up the creek.
       This was not a hike for far-expanding views, but a great intro into the wilderness along a musical flow of water which we must have crossed 6-7 times during the course of our 3 miles up it. We were in forest – of ponderosa pine, doug fir, juniper, and aspens – multiple aspen thickets of white trunks, nearly all devoid of leaves. In places the yellow leaves left a ‘yellow brick road’ along the trail. Some of the aspens were the largest I’ve ever seen in regards to trunk diameter. The bark of the biggest ones had shifted from white to a gray green.
Not many flowers (a couple dandelions, one aster, and the remains of a yellow goldenrod), but the trail seemed to be lined with red flowers – the red palmate leaves of the larkspur seemed to be scattered along the way. Some aspen leaves were caught in the pine needles of ponderosa pine seedings.
       Except for a couple stretches away from the creek along a ridge, the water with its constant mini-falls gurgled its music as we walked – ever present. Holy Ghost – always with us. The source of this creek is a tiny lake high up called Spirit Lake. So appropriate.
       We encountered an older couple hiking down near the end of the main trail. Surprise! They told us there were no views up on the ridge of the trail junction, but we would come to an overlook with the best view possible in about 10 minutes. Good enough! Technically the trail ‘ended’ at the final creek crossing according to the book, but we found the overlook just beyond (after starting the tedious switchbacks of uphill to gain the ridge). We stopped for our snacks and water, built some inuks (mine was a bit spastic, so Luke had to construct another smaller one!), took a selfie, and enjoyed the view overlooking the tree covered valley.
       As we hiked back out, the sun was lowering enough to filter light through the trees as it approached the ridgetop. Pretty.

       Into Pecos around 4:20 hoping to visit the Pecos National Monument south of town. I feared it would have closed at 4 remembering the winter hours of everything in Arches. And….it did! We arrived right at 4:30 as the rangers were preparing to leave for the day. They did tell us we could drive up to the church ruins briefly and then warned us how to exit from the automatic gate. The ruins were from early mission/native periods and quite extensive, especially the main building. We took a couple quick pictures, but didn’t explore as it was really closed.
       Then to find a restaurant open! The first two appeared closed, so when we came to Mayelas we stopped! We were hungry! We were the only ones there, but the food was good (fairly simple Mexican fare, but filling!) and we didn’t have to wait long to get it!
       Forgot to mention an adrenaline-producing event enroute up to the trailhead this morning. As Luke went to turn a corner on the narrow hwy 63 north out of Pecos, a truck approached from the opposite direction, but the trailer broke loose right in front of us and went careening across the road and into the ditch on the right side. No safety chains there! It was an empty flatbed trailer about 15 long probably, not huge. Still scary! It was gone when we came back in the afternoon, so the driver must have stopped and gone back for it. 
     Drive home to Albuquerque by the light of the setting sun (beautiful, but not easy driving for Luke!) and at the condo by 7ish. Load of laundry and ball game for the evening.

SATURDAY, October 28

A definite day of relaxation! For all parties! I was up at my usual 6:30ish, but I don’t think we saw Luke until nearly 10!! Laundry, house cleaning (prep work to be ready for Kate’s arrival), football, etc. We didn’t get to Mom’s until 3pm!! Luke came over at 5:30 and we had Taco Salad together! Back to condo to watch the Dodgers WIN game four! Hurray!

SUNDAY, October 29

     A LONG day!! Or so it seemed! Up early and then went to church with Luke at 9 – Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church west of here on Montana – about 10 minute drive. Larger church than Baker City, so more on the LaGrande, Pendleton lines. New sanctuary with windows that face east to the Sandias. Nice. Still had a really neat Pentecost hanger of flames in front. Good Praise Band and a great organist. I enjoyed the service, and especially enjoyed hearing the words of praise from the new Presbytery Moderator about Luke’s role last week at the Presbytery meeting. Words that would have made his Grandma and Grandpa Mac proud! (And made his mom cry!)
     After church we soon left to pick up Mom and meet Randy, Patty, and Rachael at the Golden Pride restaurant on Central. Luke drove separately as he had a ecumenical Reformation celebration to attend at 2:30. Good time together as Randy just flew back from Norway yesterday and leaves again for Washington DC on Wednesday! Does he ever have a chance to stay home??? We chilled with Mom after leaving the restaurant until Luke called to say he was home. Then hustle back as the YAVS were arriving at 5 for Tie Dye Party!!
     And what a good time! I met Audrey from Oregon (who is pre-med), Ana from Wisconsin (youngest of group just a year out of high school), Taylor from Ohio (with family ties to the Greenville, PA Presby church!), Bethany, education from the Virginias, and Claire, marketing from Texas. A really good group of YAVs! Since our pizza arrived sooner than anticipated, we ate first….which prove to make life a little more complicated as it got DARK outside before we finished tie dying! Oh well. The girls all got their stuff soaking, including a set of sheets from Claire, we ate, and then moved everything out to the concrete tables in the sandy playground area just outside of Luke’s building.
     Luke warned me that we might pick up a few ‘onlookers’ and we surely did! Three grade school kids joined us, the little girl most actively wanting to participate. Luke interacted with the boys mostly, who just wanted a lot of attention and told a litany of riddles and stories! The YAVS were incredibly generous in allowing others to help dye their projects. I was so impressed. I had to run back upstairs once to mix a little more dye, but overall everything went well. The YAVs took all their projects home (plus hopefully two of Luke’s shirts...we aren’t sure who really ending up dying them!) and will wash them out Monday night after returning from their Community Day up at Chimayo (north of Santa Fe).
     Once all was cleaned up from Tie Dye, we washed the Dodger-Astro game until 11:45!! It was an incredibly long game with multiple lead changes and homeruns all over the place. But, unfortunately, the Dodgers ended up losing in the 10th inning, 13-12.

MONDAY, October 30
Old Town

     The garbage truck comes at 6:30 here!! And it isn’t real quiet (especially since the backup beeps sound!) So,...I am up soon thereafter! Luke had to get up early today and be down at Menaul at 8 to pick up the YAVs for their adventure at Chimayo. Rick and I left a little before 10 to pick up Mom for our day down in Old Town.
     We parked next to the BackStreet Grill and discovered you can get free parking vouchers from the restaurant (even if you don’t end up eating there!) We then wandered the shops for nearly two hours. Picked up a few gifts, a new nativity laser cut, etc. Rick was hoping to get the Sunshine Water cup to give to Steve, but we couldn’t find another one. The pan flute group was playing the plaza area, we enjoyed looking for some specific ideas for Luke (unsuccessfully), and, of course, I enjoyed my visit to the Christmas shop and the nativity scenes found there.
     The wind was picking up and it was definitely cooling off by the time we got back to Backstreet for lunch (1pm!) Ate inside this time around! A good meal.

     Then off to the Coronado Mall to take Mom to Penny’s for a little clothing shopping. Successfully. Back to Mom’s to await Luke’s call that he was back from his day. We got back to his place around 7. - Just in time to rinse out the tie dye and carve a pumpkin with kokopelli figures and the Zia Symbol! A real New Mexico Halloween pumpkin!!  

TUESDAY, October 31
Happy Halloween!

Well, I couldn’t get into my journal entry on the laptop for a few days, so this will be short and sweet….and what I can remember! Luke had a full day of meetings, etc., so Rick and I got a few things done around his place and then picked up Mom to meet Randy at Costco at 1pm. Mom needed a few things for her hearing aids before she leaves for Pennsylvania next week. I picked up a few things as well. Then a trip over to Barnes and Noble so Mom could get her Nook reset. She hasn’t been able to read anything because she ‘lost’ her library. The nice Nook people at B&N found it, plus loaded one of her gift cards onto her account for her.
We stayed at mom’s for dinner, cooking up some soup and grilled cheese sandwiches! Tasted so good!! Back to Luke’s around 7pm to watch the ball game, draw some pictures, and visit.

WEDNESDAY, November 1
Kate arrives; Goodbyes!

Wow! Luke’s schedule changed over and over today! He was supposed to have a dentist appointment this morning, but a call from the office canceled that (malfunction of equipment). Then his scheduled meeting with the man who directs the agency Kate is working for called in sick with the flu today, so that was also nixed. We did laundry in the am and then got to Mom’s around noon, ready to meet Kate and Luke at Olive Garden for lunch at 1.
Enjoyed a nice visit and meal at OG. I love their lunchtime soup and salad unlimited. We went back to Mom’s for the afternoon and did a few final chores (Rick scrubbed the bathtub and fixed her doorbell.) We brought her two plants back with us to Luke’s as he will be plant sitting while Mom is in PA. We did some packing, and watched Game 7 of the World Series while Luke and Kate went to play volleyball.

THURSDAY, November 2
Albuquerque to Boulder City, NV

     What a good day of travel! We left Luke’s in Albuquerque at 7:30am, found heavy traffic on I-25 south, so we kept going on Montana. Rick had looked at the map and we could hit Rio Grande south to I-40. But….we missed that turn and cross the river and went south on Coors. THAT was NOT such a great idea….probably more traffic than we would have encountered on the interstate and more stop lights! But….we pulled on to I-40 westbound at 8am and then set sail for Las Vegas!
     In spite of a head wind, we made good time passing through the red cliffs and broad vistas enroute to Gallup. We stopped in Grants for some coffee, then again at the border rest area to switch drivers. I drove from the border to Williams, west of Flagstaff – or about 190 miles. We stopped in Winslow at a Subway to grab some sandwiches. No snow on the mountains of Flagstaff. We waved at Pam Vanderweele who is working at Petrified Forest National Park. Hoped to make connections, but she was working at the south end of the park, so not easily accessible on an otherwise long day of driving.
     Enjoyed the vistas between Flagstaff and Kingman, but not the road conditions nor the constant construction to counteract the poor roads! Then north on 93 toward Hoover Dam and Boulder City, just 30 miles south of Vegas. I had booked The Sands Motel online, hoping for better luck than we had in Brigham City! We scored! Found the place – obviously an older model motel – we still had an actual room key! But the owner has totally remodeled the rooms and I walked in to towels folded like love swans on the bed! A modern, somewhat Asian, décor and all the electric plugs you could possibly want! Microwave, fridge, mini-kerig coffee machines. And I found it comforting to be checked in by the owner’s mom! (Who was struggling with the technology involved, but very nice and helpful!) Super cute laser cute gourds in the reception area cut like pumpkins.
     We walked about a mile wandering the main street of Historic Boulder City, “The City That Built Hoover Dam”. A very quaint downtown area, lined with well kept palm trees, tons of antique shops, restaurants, etc. We were impressed! Much nicer than staying in Las Vegas!
     Later we walked the half block to a Mexican Cafe recommended by ‘Check-in Mom’. We had decided to save the other half of our Sub sandwiches for lunch tomorrow while we are in Death Valley.
Downtime and good night. BTW….the moon is just two days from full and it was beautiful as we walked home from dinner!!

FRIDAY, November 3
Boulder City, NV to Bishop, CA
323 miles

     Up and down. Up and down. Repeat. Again. That would sum up today pretty well!! We didn’t pick the road most traveled and worked the little Prius hard, but it was worth every minute! Our goal today was to take some roads that we wouldn’t otherwise take when pulling the trailer!
     We began by pulling out of Boulder City around 7:30 and skirting the south side of Las Vegas (heavy traffic in a few places, but otherwise not too bad…) and heading west on US Hwy 160 toward Pahrump. Rick had seen this road previously, but there is a 5,000’ pass and we were pulling the trailer. No need for unnecessary passes at that point. We headed out of the Vegas basin and climbed steadily through vibrant colored cliffs of grays, oranges, and reds. Little vegetation (in fact, we didn’t see trees on mountains all day long, unless you count joshua trees and a few junipers!) Up to Mountain Springs summit at 4950’ and then DOWN to Pahrump, a town of 36,500 at an elevation of 2700’ - large city based on land coverage! We gassed up the car (Pahrump has lower gas prices than Vegas) and I checked with the clerk about a cutoff road we saw on the map that went directly from Pahrump to the entrance road to Death Valley. This cutoff can save us about 40 miles.
     We dropped down into Death Valley, stopping at Zabrinski Point to walk out to the viewpoint. The multitude of colors and layers, canyons and washouts is pretty amazing. You can see the salt flats on the valley floor in the distance and the Panamint Mountains across the way. The sky is hazy, but seems to be clearing. It is much warmer at Zabrinski Point than it was in Pahrump (windy there!)
     Down to Furnace Creek and the Visitor Center. We are amazed by the line up huge motorhomes all along the road. Later find out that a group called the 49ers comes every year at this time and they can’t get into the campground until noon! By the time we leave, the last of the lineup is turning into the campground road! The VC is well done and answers some of our questions about the whys of this lowest spot and highest temps. The record temp recorded on earth was in 1913 at Death Valley – 134 in the shade! Ouch!

     A ‘tailgate’ lunch of our Subway sandwiches and then we head down the road toward Badwater (the lowest point in the US at -282’) but we don’t plan to go that far. We hit the southern end of the Artist Drive and then wind the 9 miles back north through the narrow canyons the one lane road affords. Such an array of colors – all blended and mixed by waters coursing through the rocks and pulling out various minerals. What I was sure was copper based green, however, was green calcite. Rhyolite purples, oranges, reds, whites, etc. And always the black of random volcanic rocks. Even on Artist Drive we drove UP into the hills and then wound our way DOWN again to the valley floor.
     Past Furnace Creek again and north toward Stovepipe Wells (not much there!) and then west to another 5000’ pass out of the valley. I told Rick I was amazed that we never got to tree line, but then joshua trees dotted the landscape forawhile. He said I just didn’t say what KIND of trees!! (Yes, I was thinking more on the lines of pines!) The multiple north-south mountain ranges just keep holding back less and less rainfall, so by the time the storms reach the valley, they are spent. No water, few trees! The valley floor gets about 2” a year, mostly during the winter months.
     From the pass we drop DOWN 4000’ to the floor of the Panamint Valley and then climb 5000’ to the top of a large plateau. Eventually we drop DOWN again to Lone Pine which sits at about 2800’. Mount Whitney, the highest point on the continental US at 14494’ lies almost directly west of Lone Pine. We were trying to figure out which peak we could see as we descended was Whitney, and then Rick saw the East Sierra Visitor Center next to the road. We pulled in and got our answers! I marked a couple of my pictures!
     From Lone Pine it is 55 miles up the east side of the Sierras to Bishop and our final destination for the day. We arrive at a Super 8 around 4 and check in. Nothing as fancy as last night, altho more expensive since it is a Friday night.
     We drive down to the other end of town, find a grocery store and pick up some BBQ Pork, artichoke dip, and crackers for dinner! Healthy! Microwave the pork and wrap it up in tortillas. Chips and dip round out our meal! Quiet evening.

SATURDAY, November 4
Bishop to Carmichael, CA
276 miles

     Well, today was another day of passes….7 of them over 7,000’! We had some major concerns about weather as a wet storm was rolling in from the west and major snowfall was predicted for the Sierras. But as we left shortly after 7am, all we saw in Bishop were clear skies and a giant full moon just starting to slip down behind the jagged ridge of the Sierras. It was beautiful!
     It was hard to believe the weather forecast as we headed up the east side of the mountains. But then again, I guess it was proof of the east/west rain shadow concept. Wet on the west, dry on the east! We enjoyed the rising sun casting a redden glow on the peaks and ponderosas. The clouds were racing across the sky in places in all types of formations. We went up and down FOUR times just between Bishop and Walker, all summits a bit more gradual and less extreme than the drama of Death Valley! Mostly I just enjoyed reminiscing about the canyons and openings that I remembered from trails hikes with Dad in my youth….Lundy Canyon, Virginia Lakes, Hoover Wilderness.
     We stopped in Bridgeport (High Sierra Bakery and rounds of sourdough bread memory) for a refill of coffee (expensive, but then again gas was $4.49!). Forty miles further after winding through Walker River canyon we turned to climb up Monitor Pass at 8314’. The sign said open and the skies were still sunny (mostly!) but we could see cloud banks to the west!
     Monitor Pass is a trip! We began winding through a little narrow canyon and then climbed up and up through a RECENT (end of Aug) fire. I felt like we were going to the top of the mountain rather than a pass through it! It was pretty amazing. From the top we dropped down again, eventually into the town of Markleeville (rope black licorice from the General Store for 10 cents memory) with its population of 200, and to Luther Pass at 7700’. We were up and over Luther before we realized it, but we did encounter our first flakes of snow drifting into the window there….while the sun was shining as well! That was the ONLY snow we saw, other than the obvious fresh stuff on the hills above us as we dropped down US 50.

     But rain? That we did encounter in full force as we completely crossed to the west side and descended into the Sacramento Valley. At times light, other times hard with thick foggy clouds and mists.
     We arrived at Margaret’s around 12:30, much to her relief. (I think she had been more worried about the forecast than we were!) We say it went well because Rick was pro-active….before we left Bishop he transferred the winter clothes and tire chains to the back seat of the car….ready!! If you are prepared, you won’t need it!!
     Quiet afternoon chatting with Marg, Rick watched football games. Jen came over for a couple hours before she headed out to a Dia de los Muertos event in Old Town. Marg made Rick’s day with stuffing and chicken for dinner!
     We get an extra hour of sleep with the time change tonight! BTW….despite the forecast, it didn’t rain at all once we arrived in Sacramento. In fact, we had a gorgeous sunset and a stumpy rainbow!

SUNDAY, November 5
Church and Tea Party at Tom and Heather’s

     Hey! It was lighter this morning when 6:30 rolled around! Marg was up and making coffee cake for breakfast. What a gal! Rick will enjoy it. Rick was opting to skip church (he doesn’t know anyone anyway!) and take a nice walk. Marg left just before 9 and I took off around 9:20. Drove down past the old house and along Country Club Lane because it is such a pretty street in the fall with the big trees. I was greeted immediately by Lynne Cunningham with an amazed face and a hug! I wondered around the church a little, noting changes and familiar sights, and then went in to sit down where I thought Ron would be showing up with his mom. But, Alice Pyers and others joined me instead, which was JUST FINE! Had a good visit with Alice, and then after the service with Shirley Duncan. All wanted to know about the boys, our Habitat endeavors, etc. Marg had bell rehearsal (or was it choir?) after church so I drove home to pick up Rick.
     A quick bite to eat (just in case we weren’t eating much at the Tea Party!), pick up Marg at the church, and we head out to Tom and Heather’s place. I had only been there once before, and Rick never, so we used Marg for our navigator.
     Heather had invited us, her sister Kristy and niece Mila, her grandmother, and fellow PE teacher Darcie to the Tea Party. (Ron and Kenny stayed home.) Evidently Matty had been talking about the upcoming visit of Grandpa Ring all week and had worked himself up to quite the expectations! First on the agenda? Blocks! He marched right past Rick into the playroom and pulled out the blocks! Rick very obediently followed!!
     We had a wonderful time! Five different kinds of teas, scones, pumpkin cookies, quiche, artichoke dip, rice pudding, smoked salmon and cucumber appetizers (Jen’s doings!), apple cake. Everyone brought something except….us! :( Heather had mini pumpkins the kids had decorated with our names on them, huge pumpkins scattered around the house for décor, all the good china out, as well as serving pieces. Matty and Mila had their own little treats (PB&J mini rollups!) and pretend tea cups. Dani was taking a short nap. Rick joined the ‘girls’ at the table briefly and then returned to Matty and Mila. Eventually everyone ended up outside in the yard and I monster chased Matty around (on a very full stomach!) After her nap, Dani was much more responsive to the strangers in the house! And she is walking so it was a fun time.
     Marg went back to the church with Jen for another rehearsal, while Rick and I managed to find our way home by ourselves. We stopped and filled the gas tank with some 2.79 gas, which we thought was a good price, considering the average in California is around $3.10. Rick turned in early, while I stayed and visited with Marg some about the finances and house after she got home at 8:45pm.

MONDAY, November 6
Carmichael, CA to Eureka, CA
318 miles

     We are up early! It’s not so dark! And therefore on our way out the door BEFORE 7am!! We stop at the gas station at the corner of Watt and Whitney to grab some coffee (Marg’s coffee maker didn’t work this morning after functioning fine yesterday!) No frills...no cappachino machine, just coffee. But then again, it was only 50¢ a cup! I drove the first few hours from Sacramento up to Redding – all freeway!! I can’t say it was overly scenic, but we sure did see plenty of nut and olive orchards! A few quick glimpses of patches of snow on a high peak to the west, and the Sutter Buttes rose sharply in the distance to the east. We never saw Lassen, but Shasta was clearly visible to the north as we neared Redding.
     We opted to go all the way north to Hwy 299 out of Redding rather than Clear Lake or Route 36. New road. Probably SHOULD have checked road reports first as 299 was closed earlier in September for a wildfire, Clear Lake road had portions of the Napa Valley fires, and Route 36 was to be closed much of the week due to extensive construction improvement projects! So I guess the two or three times we had to stop for construction on 299 was the best choice!
     However, I think both of us expected to see more of the Trinity Alps Wilderness area from this route as it was directly north of us. But other than a short view of some snow ridges right near Weaver Lake, we were along rivers or over passes that were mostly scrub oak, madrone, and pines. It wasn’t until we neared the coast that I saw truly GREEN tree covered slopes.
     An August 30 wildfire (amazingly the same day the Monitor Pass fire started!) burned over 6000 acres on both sides of the highway near F…..., just south of Trinity Lake. The highway was closed for several days, and it was obvious that considerable work has been done already to control erosion along the road.
     We went over 3 summits, but at 2800 to 3000’, none of them were THAT noteworthy considering what we have driven over heading north so far! The last one brought us down to hillsides COVERED with wild pampas grass. Obviously some seeds have gotten started and continue to spread rapidly!
     We arrived at the Days Inn in Eureka around 1:30pm, too early to check in as the room wasn’t ready yet. So we parked and took off on a walk along the Boardwalk and around the historic area of Eureka (in which the motel is located!) Since neither of us had overly eaten breakfast, we found the Lost Coast Restaurant, which had come highly recommended by Tom and Heather. (Heather went to college at Humbolt State in Arcata, just north of here). We enjoyed halibut sliders (Rick) and shrimp tacos (Ginger)! More wandering to walk it off abit and then we are able to get into our room and relax! I’ll hope for no fires in town tonight, because we are right next to the fire station….those sirens could be loud!

TUESDAY, November 7
Eureka, CA to Bandon, OR
196 miles, Redwoods National Park

     It WAS a quiet night! We are up and raring to go early, so finished with breakfast (one of the better ones we have encountered – hot oatmeal and not a mix!) and on the road by 7:20am. We find gas as we leave Arcata at a little 76 station – coffee is under a dollar! Expensive gas, but Rick only puts 2 ½ gallons into the tank – enough to get us up to Oregon and cheaper prices.
     North of Trinidad, we come to our first views of the coastline and then meander on up toward the Redwoods National and State Parks. Pampas grass continues to line the road and cover the hillsides. Amazing.
Rick pulls off at Lady Bird Johnson Grove and we drive the 2 ½ miles UP the hillside to the parking area and a 1 ½ mile interpretive loop trail through a thick grove of redwood trees. We were the only ones in the forest, it was cool and damp and quiet, and quite inspiring. You could get a crink in your neck from looking UP so much!
     We stopped again at Prairie City Campground and State Park – I figured I could get my stamp and a pin here. Well, I got my stamp, but the gift shop was closed – they were having a planned power outage. Couldn’t even pay cash. She said I could order online, but when I later checked, it would cost me more in shipping than the price of the pin! Rats, as the visitor center at the north end of the park is also closed on Tuesdays, and I wasn’t driving back south to the one 15 minutes away which we had already passed!
     We then drove an alternate bypass through multiple groves of trees before rejoining 101 and continuing on up to Crescent City, Smith River, and the Oregon border! Whew! It took up four hours to travel 100 miles this morning….with a few stops along the way!

     Stopped in Brookings at the Fred Meyer for gas and a bite to eat. Found a cafe inside with hot soups. Since I drained the clam chowder bucket, Rick had chili. He also bought a baguet of French bread which we devoured half of along with our soups. A good stop!
     On up the coast and then into Bandon. We found the house in good order, glad Marg had given me the keys from the safe deposit box so I didn’t have to worry about finding the hidden one! (I had forgotten to bring my Bandon key!) One of my missions this week is to send Marg a complete set of keys and label the ones I have accurately!
     We unload, do a load of washing, I take a walk on the beach now as the forecast is for heavy rain much of the week. Sabra has left muffins and some cookies on the counter for us. That woman is amazing. I feel so welcome and wanted!

     I spend most of the evening getting caught up on photographs and journaling from the trip. Whew. In the am I shall catch up on my Picasso prayers and wrap that book up. Good night!!  

WEDNESDAY, November 8

     I spent most of today getting caught up with computer work, but by 9pm I had both blogs up to date, all pictures for Picasso done, contact made with Morgan and Sabra (Friday night and Saturday dates!), and groceries in the fridge.
Both Rick and I took a walk this morning, he on road, I on beach, before the rain REALLY began to fall around 11am. It rained HARD all afternoon, but then stopped just before sunset.
We still haven’t found the button for the garage opener.
     Dinner tonight uses up two boxes from the cupboard, plus some fresh snapper. Also made cookies from mix in cupboard and made rice pudding with the opened box of white rice.
Bandon sunset vistas from the house.  

THURSDAY, November 9
Lazier Day?

     I would say today was more laid back than yesterday since we didn’t even drive anywhere, but Rick did complete a few chores around the place, and I investigated some of the book shelves in the living room. It was a beautiful morning on the beach and I got in a good walk clear down to Coquille Point.  I read the entire John Branston book on Katy when I first got up this morning.  Sabra came over for a visit during the afternoon. We ate leftovers for dinner. That’s all! Oh...and found the garage door opener!  

FRIDAY, November 10
Dinner date with Kachleins

Strider's paper ornament! 
     A blustery day, but we managed to get in walks….barely avoiding the rain and wind, but able! I went downtown to pick up some groceries for dinner, make key copies and get new batteries for smoke alarms. Ended up at the Farmer’s Market for a few trinkets. We are depositing our garbage a small grocery bag sack at a time in various public cans...but by separating out the food garbage (it can go down into the pit) and the paper (we can burn it!) from the rest, there isn’t much to throw away over a four day period. Maybe two bags total. I’ll take everything recycling nature to the dropoff tomorrow here in town.
     Mark, Sabra, and Strider came over around 5:15 and stayed until nearly 9:45! Sabra brought french apple cake and homemade cinnamon ice cream for dessert, plus a bottle of wine. I had made fresh bread, salad, and spaghetti. We had a wonderful evening! After dinner craft time to make some rolled paper ornaments. Sabra made a star and Strider created his own gingerbread man masterpiece. Mark opted to watch football and kibbutz with Rick. We then played a round of Spite and Malice and Quiddler, just for Mom! A good time, although Strider won BOTH games!

SATURDAY, November 11
Morgan Visits!

     It is a beautiful morning out, and promises to be perfect for a beach walk when Morgan arrives around 11:30! Low tide even! I spend the morning drawing my first devotion in the new book of Christmas carols, and then head for the recycling center and fish market at 10am. Everything recycled and a quart of clam chowder purchased for our lunch (to go with bread and salad leftovers!)
     Morgan and I walked the beach from 11:45 to 12:45 – the south wind was blowing pretty strong, but it was still beautiful. Morgan has only been in Coos Bay for about 10 days, so she hadn’t gotten to the beach yet! Enjoyed it! We came back and had our lunch, and then headed down to Old Town for an hour/half or so – taking in The Farmer’s Market, Wheelhouse, Cranberry Sweets, Washed Ashore, and Creamery (cheese). Morgan just enjoyed seeing familiar faces!
     Dinner of leftovers, conversation with Kirsty, and puttering around getting ready to leave tomorrow.

SUNDAY, November 12
Bandon to Troutdale, via stop in Eugene
Circa 250 miles

     It was probably a good thing that Rick and I made the decision Friday night (?) to get a hotel reservation in Troutdale. We were making sure the homing pidgeon, ‘horse to the barn’ mentality wouldn’t kick in and we would stupidly decide to drive ALL the way home Sunday, even with stops for church and Kirsty. It would have been a dark, rainy drive!
     So….we didn’t have to worry if church went a little late (and in Bandon it ALWAYS does!) or that we spent 2 ½ hours at Kirsty’s….we knew we only had to get to Troutdale, where we would leave all the traffic in the morning!
     It was a misty morning, with patches of sunshine. Waves were beautiful as always as we shut down the house, locked it up tight, and made our way to church with a few minutes to spare, so I had time to greet a few people before the service. Sabra kindly acknowledged our presence during the introductions. We were on our way north by 11:40am.
     I drove until Florence, where we swapped drivers, got a drink and a bathroom at the Safeway store and headed east on 126 to Eugene. Got cell LTE service just outside Eugene so I could figure out the best way to get to Kirsty’s house! We arrived just fine at 2:40! Kaila had selected our options for dinner, but we got a tour of the house, a little chat time, a walk to see the wild turkeys, and then a fabulous pasta dinner with sausage, zucchini, onion, and wild mushrooms …. and plenty of mozzarella cheese!
     It was dark and wet when we left at 5:15….and rained all the way up I-5, with plenty of truck traffic. Glad Rick was driving. Stopped in Donald to gas up the Prius and then head over 205 to 84 and our hotel in
Gresham – the Quality Inn. We signed up for Choice Hotels when we made the reservation. Ready to pay an extra $10-$15 dollars for a nicer stay. You know you are in a nicer hotel when your room is on the third floor, the fireplace is blazing in the lobby, and you have a “real” hotel desk. (However, Kirsty told us about their AirBnB BUS while in Astoria which was way cool. We still have to try AirBnB!)
     Relaxing evening. Home tomorrow noonish, so we can give blood at 3pm!

MONDAY, November 13
Troutdale to Baker City, OR
290 miles

     Home at 12:15. Wet drive. Rick drove in rain until Celilo. I drove dry until Stanfield (more or less). Rick drove rain until LaGrande and then it was WINDY!! Otherwise smooth trip. Just glad to BE HOME!!!!

BTW….The Quality Inn in Gresham was high class….all the aforementioned merits but also  a full HOT breakfast (including eggs, sausage and bacon, etc.!!)  in what seemed like a cafe setting.  NICE! 
     Blood given, car unloaded, mail retrieved.  A fun trip to explore roads we don't take with trailer.  A good visit with family and friends.  But it is time to stay home for awhile!