Saturday, July 2, 2011

It's been a long while....

Funny thing about writing a journal is that once you get out of the habit, it is hard to get back in to it! So, here it is, almost the 4th of July and the Grand Tetons National Park has been the lastest excursion. Quite probably the most beautiful place we have been, displacing Acadia National Park and the Porcupine Islands that has long held that title for us.

Grand Teton viewed from Menor's Crossing on the Snake River
The winter spent in Yuma was almost perfect; the weather was really nice, warm and sunny ALL the time. There were many folks wintering there and lots of fun happy hours most days.

Leaving Yuma, we spent the month of April in Congress, AZ, just north of the cowboy town of Wickenburg. This Escapees Rainbow Park is really delightful and the folks there make it even more so. The weather was pure springtime...except for one Saturday when we awoke to rain and there was 5" of snow on the mountaintop of along with TS and Harrell and Denny and Susie, we drove up and had breakfast at the RanchHouse Restaurant and watched the white fluffy stuff fall all around us...a little winter wonderland in the midst of the high desert!

Mountain top Yarnell, snow covered in May

The little town of Wickenburg is a true 'uptown' old west town and we found several little cafes to share lots of great meals and explored the cowboy legend and lore there.

Along about the first of May we flew back to Virginia for Mother's Day and it was the most special Mother's Day ever for me, as we got news that I am going to be a GRANDMOTHER! Words cannot tell you how exciting this is and I just can't wait...I'm quite out of practice, but just know that it is going to be amazing. I think my name will be Nan...but whatever I am called will be just perfect! December 26th is the time and Catonsville, MD is the place... I will be there!!

The rest of May was spent in Cottonwood, AZ where we spent much time with Bob's brother, Ronnie, who had most of his foot amputated (diabetes) and we cooked many meals and shared lots of days together.

One fascinating event while in Cottonwood was the annual sheep drive that comes thru the Verde Valley Preserve. Each year, since the late 1880's, a herd of about 1200 sheep are driven north from Casa Grande to the Flagstaff area for summer grazing.

Sheeps crossing Verde Valley, AZ

The shepherds drive them down the Verde Valley and cross the Verde River a few hundred yards from our site. It was a sight to see!! Complete with sheep dogs, donkeys and shepherds, it was like a step back in time!

Visiting Sedona,Prescott, Jerome and the Red Rock Coconino National Forest to explore early Indian petroglyph sites and ruins, we learned much about early Indian farming and survival techniques and gained a new appreciation for these heritage sites and natural beauty of the red rock formations that grace the area.

Bell Rock in Sedona Red Rock country

V-Bar-V Heritage site petroglyphs illustrate planting,harvesting, and the passing of years in Indian life in central Arizona

Leaving Cottonwood near the end of May, we traveled north to Flagstaff, crossing I 40and traversing the Navajo Reservation on Route 89. This high plains desert area was virgin territory for us and the stark beauty was a most pleasant surprise.

The road never ends...towards the Vermillion Cliffs

The road stretched endlessly before us and the landscape was almost moon like. The Painted Desert lies just to the east and Grand Canyon to the west of this route. Along the way were tiny Indian huts where the Navajos sold jewelry made of mostly imported beads. There were a few creations made from the cedar berries gathered on the plateau tops, strung and dried. A cedar-strand eye glass chain looked like a good choice so that I won't be leaving the glasses behind so often now!
Climbing the mountain to Jacobs Lake, near the north rim of the Grand Canyon brought us into the ponderosa pine area and lovely cool weather. We had learned of Sharlot Hall, early 1900's champion of Arizona and southwest culture, and following her footsteps along this trail brought the history to life as we viewed her beloved Vermillion Cliffs along the Utah/Arizona border.
Arriving in southern Utah in the town of St. George around the end of May, we found lots more sunshine, warmth, a rich history to explore and many friendly folks. Keith and Donna joined us in St. George, Utah for a couple of weeks and we all managed to gain a pound or two trying out all the cafes in town. We also shared some nice meals with Paul and Mary who were also there to visit Zion National Park.

Zion, Cedar Breaks and Bryce National Parks and the Mormon Trail were the highlights for June....and highlights they were, indeed! It was a great month spent with good friends and amazing sights...then it just kept getting better as we traveled further north thru Salt Lake City and into Idaho and Wyoming.....Jackson Hole, Tetons, Yellowstone are yet to come!

Forgive me for not writing regularly; Hugs and love to all!