Tag Archives: Vacation

Flying Home alongside a Blood Red Sunset

 On the way back home and the sun is beginning to set, painting the skies and the clouds in a soft array of colors. There is a man sitting in the seat in front of me that at first I thought he was scratching his head at a concerning level.  After a while, I realized he was pulling this bit of hair at the top of his head and twirling it, over and over and over and then pressing it into place.  Sometimes the quirky behaviors of people are quite fascinating.  I keep thinking as I watch him that as tightly as he is twisting that piece of hair, it must hurt.I so enjoyed the time I got to spend with Mikki, seeing all the kids and the fun and celebrations, but seeing the mountains of home reaching up below me bathed in such joyous colors feels like a welcome home celebration.
 And here is a new and unique experience! To watch the sun set from 30,000 feet! The clouds embracing it as it makes its exit. A farewell embrace before welcoming the coming night.
 And the sun, flamboyant creature that it is, must first take a glowing bow before it gives up the heavens it ruled for the day.And still he continues to twist that strand of hair.  I’m guessing it would be considered rude if I took a picture of it.
 Softly sinking ever lower. Golden glows infusing everything they touch, setting the pre-night skies afire with their touch.
 Okay, I admit, I just couldn’t get enough of this fiery vista! It was just too beautiful not to capture as much of it as I could. And still the man in front of me keeps twirling those little strands of hair! Has he even noticed the beauty outside the window?
 As it makes its final dip, he explodes in a fiery tornado blasting the sky with a molten lava display.
 And the sun has finally given up the fight for the rule of the day, his bed is made and the clouds wrap him in their soft blanket and kiss him good night.
 In the dying light of the day, the Mother mountain reaches up past the lake of clouds, bathed in pastel lights, the monument that testifies that you know means you are home.
 And as we drop lower, the lights of the city. Not evenly laid out as they are in Phoenix. But, spatterings and drops strewn across the landscape like a farmer casting seeds. The lights like a Christmas tree laid out to cover the entirety of the landscape. Back home among my trees!
 

Let the Party and the Gifts Begin!

 Back in Phoenix and time to get ready for the party! But, firsto spend a short bit of time with Mikki’s roommate, Gilly. We got just a bit more of a close up than was intended, but I think its rather cute.
 And another one of her. This time she didn’t try and rush the camera. Her owner thinks she’s German Shepard and Terrier, but I think she’s Border Collie and Terrier. At any rate, she is just a sweetheart and gently nudges you for pets and scratches. Very well behaved and quite entertaining!


 First Bling of the night. Sparkly bracelet that actually fits Mikki’s small wrists. Quite a present for a 12 year old! We have such fun with her being a leap year baby. I try very hard to remember on the off years to set my alarm for midnight to call her and wish her a very merry unbirthday!
So appropriate for Mikki! Lots of pink! And its cute and quirky.  
I’m thinking that she likes it! And maybe someday she will forgive me for this shot! Well, what fun is there in taking posed pictures of people? Its far more fun to catch them in unexpected moments! And at least I remembered to take pictures of people on this trip!

I’m thinking she doesn’t look please with someone. I didn’t do it! I have an alibi! I was holding the camera. Oh wait! Maybe that was it!
Fire!!!! I do so love fire!
Wasn’t sure if I was going to catch the sparks shooting out, but I got lucky. I’m not too fond of the delay on the camera. Well, that’s what I get for having to take the little one instead of the good one.
More sparks and sputters!! Wheee!!! I could spend all night here by the fire!
Pretty flame!
 Mikki and the boys. From left to right, Justin (one of Mikki’s adopted boys and soon to be father), Mikki, Jimmy and Nyle. Justin went off earlier in the evening to drag Jimmy and Nyle over. I could have smacked them for needing someone to drag them to their mother’s 12th birthday. Its not like she gets one every year like the rest of us.
All of them again, same order. You’d think they could have mixed it up a bit!
And the birthday serenade by Angela! That woman has quite the voice on her!
And the passing of the flaming cake. At least you save on the candle expense with the leap years! grin
I guess it was necessary for me to be at the receiving end of at least one of the pictures, if for no other reason than to show that I really was there!
Here we have Mikki with her love, Jerry. I think she made a good choice in this one. I like him!
Back to the fire! Kinda knew I couldn’t stay away from it for long. And it did get me away from the guy who seemed to be under the delusion that I was just “playing” coy and if he tried harder, he could wear me down and I would succumb to his self-perceived “charms”. Yeah, Mikki tried to warn him. And he thought I was kidding when I told him I BITE!
But, doesn’t the flame on this fire look like an Indian in full garb doing a ceremonial dance?
And he turned to face his partner here!  Oh, wait!  That’ a square dance.  Never mind!
And the Griffon overlord!!!
And as a finale for the night, Mikki asked Angela to sing her On a Broken Wing. Thought she could sing before, but this was so very impressive!
 

The trip back from Mojave

Bit of a rough night at the casino hotel, so sleep was not well received.  The air conditioner in the room had been possessed by a wailing Banshee and kept getting louder each time it started up.  It took a while for me to find the culprit, but I turned it off and hoped the room wouldn’t get too hot.  But, half the night was gone by then.  Oh well, who needs sleep on a vacation?  And we start the long drive back through the Mojave. And I just realized I did these out of order. Oh well! But, we have clean windows and the sky is still filled with beautiful clouds. And the temperature is in the 60’s, so I am quite comfortable!

 

 Sometimes the surreal look of the clouds in the sky almost make you question if it is a picture or a painting. Just breathtaking seeing them hover over the tops of the mountains. And the mountains got a spattering of snow while we slept.  
 Now, you know you have done something seriously wrong when the mountain flips you off! Wasn’t us! Nope!
 Just breathtaking!
 The stark walls shooting forth from the desert floor, riddled with small hidden caves hiding treasures and maybe even bats!

 

 

Just spatterings of snow, soft clouds and a wonderful drive.

 More snow, more mountains, more clouds. Can it get any better for a long drive?
 Oh yeah, and great company. And the radio was even complying by playing good music to go along with the trip.
 And the beauty of the sun attempting to break through the clouds for a little peek at the Lady’s nightly artistry.
 As we journey along, the clouds eventually begin to break apart, luminescent in the bathing warmth of the sun above, lords and ladies in waiting on the majestic mountains below.
 It’s quite amazing to look upon such start differences in the vista before you. The soft billowing clouds over the snow speckled mountains with the forefront of the harsh desert floor with its sagebrush offerings.
 Again, the amazing giant cairns dotting the roadside. Lonely Gods teaching the lessons of patience to the busy humans rushing past.
 Trees! Yes, they really and truly are. Not nature’s plantings. For she knows better than to put such things in so arid a place. Only humans would try to make a home in such an alien land. I do hope they have the resources to provide for them where the land cannot.
 

Over the Hills and Down the road to Grandaughter’s House we Go!


 And the sun is beginning a slow descent in the sky as we continue to travel on the forever road to Laughlin. But, the colors of the clouds are changing and taking on the softest pastel shades. Quite lovely!

The lavender haze to the sky settles in and brings you to the realization that no matter how skilled the hand, no artist can compete with the brush of the Divine.

 The road is long, with many a winding turn!! Oh wait, not so many turns, but it is quite long.
And I am quite certain that the strokes of the brush Lady Mother Nature applied here was her way of wishing a most happy 12th to Mikki. She even painted most of it in her favorite color, pink. Though I still wonder how I wound up with a best friend whose favorite color is pink!
 And we have arrived! And in time to spend a bit of time with Mikki’s daughter Heather. She is such a beautiful young lady!
 Yeah, I would have a look like that on my face as well if I was under an electric dunce cap! snicker
 Okay, fine. I’ll smile.  Kinda.
 And as we go to breakfast the next morning, we make our way past the “feed me” fish. I’m thinking the guests indulge them just a wee bit. They’re pretty though.
 At granddaughter’s house we have now arrived. And like any good Grandmother, Mikki came bearing offerings. Bubbles!!! Evalyn was a bit shy when we first got there. That is, until she discovered the bubbles. Then we became her playtoys.
 It took her a little while to figure it out, but she got the bubble blowing down like a champ in no time. There’s a child after my own heart. Just give her bubbles and she’s happy!
 
This was the first time I got to meet Evalyn. She is just precious! I love the look on her face in this one.  Only children are capable of that level of pure joy!  We had such fun with her. Was worth the 3+ hour drive each way to see her. Well, the casino was fun too.
 

Phoenix – The City of the Grid


Coming into Phoenix, the thing that struck first was “Its so BROWN!”  Okay, coming from someone who makes their home in the Pacific NorthWest, most places would probably look a bit on the dingy side.  But, this was just “brown”.  Brown hills, beige tinge to the skyline, everything in various shades of brown and tan.  And my rainforest dweller mind wondering how I was going to survive for days without the sight of a tree!


The city comes into view!  And all I can think is blocks and lines everywhere.  And its so flat!  Seattle, from the air looks like a cacophony of hills and trees and skyscrapers and waterways.  This was something just alien to me to look upon.  Everything is laid out in these near identical blocks.


And the image that came to my mind is that Phoenix looks like a giant circuit board!  And it just went on and on for miles!!  I am not sure I could imagine living in such a place.  Every block the same as the last.  Just flat land that goes on as far as the eye can see.


And then what to my eyes should appear?  One small area at the edge of the city where they had built what looks like a housing area with a fabricated waterway.  So, I am sitting there scratching my head and thinking that this is proof that living in this kind of heat and dryness cannot be good for humans.  It has made them deranged.  There’s not enough water to run a boat through, so whatever is the purpose?  The city’s largest swimming hole?


Arrival at Phoenix and first stop off the plane is a quick dash to the nearest bathroom to shed layers.  Nothing like leaving home with the weather being in the high 20?s and arriving at destination where the weather is in the 70”s.  It’s still February!!!  My body doesn’t expect such temperatures for many months in the future.  Oh dear, oh my!

Mikki is waiting for me, thinking I got lost till I tell her that I desperately needed to drop to a tank top for what was outside those doors!  I think she is having too much fun with this.  She actually thinks this is wonderful winter weather!   The bear was safely delivered into her arms and YES!!!  I scored!  She is in love with her!

First stop is to have lunch with mom.  Mexican restaurant!!!  Okay, this is one thing I have to give credit to a place like Phoenix for.  They have good Mexican food!  Not an easy thing to find in Seattle.  You would think that being one of the culinary hot spots of the country, that wouldn’t be the case.  But, we had a lovely time at lunch,, chatting and laughing and catching up on everything under the sun.

A couple of stops to meet her new love, Jerry and then to her work where I get to meet a few of her co-workers, then a quick fly by her house so she can pack a bag and we are off again.  Seems we are going to Laughlin for the night so we can see her daughter Heather and meet her granddaughter, Evalyn.

And so begins the trek across the Mojave desert.  My reservations about things quickly faded as I looked out the window at the beautiful clouds floating across the sky.  Yes, it was warm, but not so warm that it was miserable.  And out here, the skies were a most incredible shade of blue!

Though not the green I am used to, nor the plants and trees, the desert had its own offering of amazing plants.  The sagebrush and Joshua trees dotting the landscape as we left the city behind us.  Soft clouds crowning the landscape moving slowly through shapes to amuse and entertain me.

The clouds, at times, grew denser and filled the sky.  The road just seemed to stretch on forever.  Catching shots was not easy.  I think this is the first time I have tried to go shutterbug in a moving vehicle and being in the car with little miss speed demon didn’t help.  Nor did the fact that she didn’t clean her windows first!  *grin*  We did fix that one before we headed back though.

I have always had a thing about clouds.  They are just so beautiful.  Shifting monuments of the skies, forming and breaking apart and reforming yet again.  This spot just really caught my eye as the clouds broke apart into a circle of celebration of the skies above.

And the race to the summit!  You can almost see the features of the bottom of the tortoise as he catches his jet stream to catch up with his opponent on the other side.  The whisper of clouds above raising their hands in celebration of the win to come.

The clouds clear for a while and you begin to see the rock eruptions jutting up from the land.  Mammoth structures carved by the harsh winds and rains of the desert.  I was looking at the caves in the sides of the rocks and thinking about the creatures that sought refuge within their depths.

Another “forest” of the saguaro cactus!  It says that the woodpeckers will burrow holes in their side which then become the homes for small animals and owls.  Alas, I was not able to see any of these small creatures.  Not that it probably would have done me any good travelling at the speed of Mikki-light!


And the we come to the sandstone walls, carved deeply by the winds, citadels of the desert.  The towering castles of the sand people, hiding deep within the crevices from the harsh sunlight standing watch over their city of sand and brush

The grand sand fort standing in its power atop the hill of rock and sand defying any to take it in its solitude.  Soft clouds bathing it in softness waterwashed with a hint of the blue from the skies peeking through.

And the road goes on even further, deeper into the desert.  The mountains looming off into the distance, clouds casting their shadows across the ground below.  

 

A surreal scenery bathed in alien colors and textures.  Yes, the desert does have its own beauty.  Indeed.


 

Arizona – The Adventure Begins

February 27th, and I am off to the airport.  Seems I have made it ahead of the rush hour, as there is not much of a line to get through security.  One would think that the lines being smaller would be a good thing.  But, enter TSA.  I would assume with all the attacks they have been under (the fact that is is justified seems to be irrelevant) must mean that they find they have to show that they are being useful members of society and are checking almost every other person going through.  I got particularly singled out for the offense of wearing a long skirt.  I am sure there is an absolute plethora of things one can conceal under a long skirt.

Though, I was lucky in the agent they sent to give me the pat down.  She must not have been working for them long, for she actually had a personality!  After having me extend one leg forward and the other leg back and then asking me to switch, which of course I couldn’t resist not doing without jumping to make the switch, I told her I felt like I was getting a dance lesson.  She told me that she used to teach ballroom dance.  I told her that at least she stayed involved in contact sports, but I would think the previous occupation would have been more fun.  We both had a bit of a laugh over that one.  But, the rest of them proved true to their creed and looked on with the glowers of professional lemon suckers.

That was probably why they found it necessary to question my bag.  After telling the man 3 times that the mini tripod was in my backpack, not my bag, he insisted on looking through it a bit.  Personally, I think they do that just so they can see what kind of underwear each female passenger wears.  I finally figured out what the issue was with my bag.  My makeup brushes were what was setting off their x-ray.  Note to self, Victorian reproduction makeup brushes can be deemed a threat to national security!

Lucky me!  There is no one in the center seat.  So the man in the aisle

seat and I get to use the center seat for our stuff.  Mikki’s bear got her own seat!  And yes, I did buckle her in!  This was Mikki’s birthday present.  I spent over a year on this figuring out all of the different outfit pieces.  I’ve never made a hat before, so I don’t think I did too bad on my first attempt.  The “fur” was a fabric I found that has the weight and feel of real sheepskin, right down to the backing on it.  I had to use a sailor’s palm while working on it and use a glover’s needle.  That was fun!

There was a lady that came up to me just before I got on the plane that kept insisting that she had seen the bear before.  That she knew this bear.  I told her that wasn’t possible, since I had made it and there wasn’t another one like it.  Not sure if she was trying to pull something or what.  But, one of the flight attendants kept coming over and commenting on it as well.  So, I think I did pretty good!

 

 

And we are off!  Just a light spattering of clouds floating across the sky as we head off.  I wave goodbye to my lovely city hoping deary for mellow weather when I reach my destination.  Now comes the wait for them to ever so s-l-o-w-l-y make their way down the aisle to offer us beverages.  They are telling us that they are now serving Starbuck’s coffee, so I am a bit jazzed.  Decent coffee.  Woops!  Forgot to take into consideration that it still relies on how they make the coffee.  Properly made coffee should not be clear!  It should be dark and thick and hot.  At least it had a bit more color than tea, but not much.

 

It does take your breath away when you see your mountains from so high above them.  Especially this early in the year when they are still coated with the snow icing of the winter storms, snowy rivulets running down the creases of the canyons and the stray clouds kissing their peaks.

 

 

 

As we travel further south, I see the expanse of the snow crusted mountain range.  Just glorious to look at from this vantage point.  The beauty of being surrounded by glacial mountains never ceases to fill me with awe.  Its a place where one can tramp through the snow at any time in the year.  One only needs to go to the right altitude.

 

 

 

And this just looks like a lovely pastry.  A chocolate eclair drizzled with sparkling white frosting.  Time to say goodbye to the frosty peaks, the green hills and the clean air.