San Diego

Every good thing you have ever heard about San Diego is true, I can testify.  They were having an odd cold snap while we were visiting, but the days turned out to be warm with sunshine.  Only the nights and early mornings were cold.


Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre urban cultural park in San Diego. In addition to open space areas, natural vegetation zones, green belts, gardens, and walking paths, it contains museums, several theaters, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. There are also many recreational facilities and several gift shops and restaurants within the boundaries of the park. Placed in reserve in 1835, the park’s site is one of the oldest in the United States dedicated to public recreational use.  Naturally, we went to the art museum.

balboaFirst day in San Diego was Christmas eve.  We had planned to be in the zoo from opening bell to closing bell.  Unfortunately, the zoo closed at 5pm because it was Christmas eve (naturally).  Sweet husband was upset because the website said it closed at 9pm.  However, by 4:30 p.m. he was ready to call it a day.  The zoo is a combination zoo and botanical garden.  There is a bus tour and an overhead gondola lift to move you from one end of the park to another, quickly.  It is truly wonderful.

DSC02390 DSC02397 DSC02404 DSC02418 DSC02423 DSC02448

I was most impressed that the zoo had a Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species (CRES).  This was founded in 1975 at the urging of Kurt Benirschke, who became its first director. CRES was renamed the division of Conservation and Research for Endangered Species in 2005 to better reflect its mission.

The day after Christmas we drove out to del Coronado Hotel on Coronado island.  Hotel del Coronado (also known as The Del and Hotel Del) is a beachfront luxury hotel.  It is one of the few surviving examples of an American architectural genre: the wooden Victorian beach resort. It is the second largest wooden structure in the United States and was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977 and a California Historical Landmark in 1970.  It opened in 1888, and at the time was the largest resort hotel in the world. It has hosted presidents, royalty, and celebrities through the years. The hotel has been featured in numerous movies and books.

DSC02410 - Copy hotel del coronado

Christmas day we went for Christmas services at a nice Methodist church near our hotel.  It was a sweet, sacred celebration complete with a wonderful Christmas choir and communion.  This was the event that made me KNOW, beyond a shadow of a doubt, we were in California – they had communion with gluten free bread.  Enough said.  That afternoon we went for the first day release of Unbroken.  The movie based on the book by the same name about Louis Zamperini and directed by Angelia Jolie.  The book and the movie were both excellent.

That week we also received news of the loss of our sweet friend, Lexie.  She was a faithful companion, friend and playmate for 15 wonderful years.  That day I stayed alone at the hotel while Sweet husband, sister-in-law and brother-in-law went back to Balboa Park for the day.

Picture_060 IMG_2979


In our travels this year we have been to two oceans, a gulf, and many hundreds of miles through the heart of this wonderful country.  In each place we have seen hundreds of thousands of these being transported on trucks, trains (double stacked) and waiting in port to be picked up and transported.

There was a time in my life time that imports were rare…not the case in this time of our lives.

I believe things are more than a bit out of balance.

We have made people like Sam Walton and international designers and a hand full of Chinese rich.
We have closed our paper mills, our textile plants, our steel factories, our shoe factories for CHEAP goods.  We must start to reverse this, good people.  I know, we will no longer have lots and lots of cheap, disposable stuff, but many of our fellow Americans will have jobs.

Count The Cost

    Things I have learned

  • People everywhere are warm and wonderful.
  • California is fabulous.  My opinion has changed, If I could afford it, I would live there…this what I used to believe (home of the fruits and nuts – I couldn’t resist taking this picture of the truck farmer north of San Francisco), But now, it is the most magical and wonderful of all.


  • Seasonal clothing should be packed in separate boxes, so you can pull out only what you will need the next day…unless you are staying several days, then you bring in two full suitcases.  We have encountered very hot to very cold since May, 2014.
  • Shoes should have their own box.  (these first two bullet points all go in the very back of the van with the cooler – easily accessible)
  • In the single suitcase pack the daily essentials: under garments, makeup & shave kit, meds, jewelry, PJs, socks and clothing for the next day.
  • One LARGE purse is needed for quick access to items that are needed during the day.  SUCH AS:  WALLET/CELL PHONE CASE [can be purchased at Walmart for $5.00], COUGH DROPS, CAMERA, CHARGER CORDS, EMORY BOARD, PENS, SMALL NOTE BOOK, CHAPSTICK, SALINE SPRAY, TYLENOL, BANDAIDS, ETC.  My wallet/cell phone case can be pulled out with my camera when needed, leaving the balance in the car…because darn, it is heavy!


  • It is not necessary to have a perfect hairdo if you are going to be in the car all day touring about.  Nice hair is for a few events…a very few – like nice dinner out or church.
  • This does not have to be expensive.  Thanks to friends and family and Groupon/LivingSocial we have stayed really inexpensively.  Plus we have slept in the car when necessary (at a camp ground) – really very comfortable with an air mattress.
  • One not so sweet friend of sweet husband commented, “I sure hope the money holds out.”  Frankly, we are doing this on a very small monthly income.  If it were not for genuine friends and family (you know who you are) a lot of this would not have happened.  We do not over stay our welcome.  We communicate with these friends/family via email and phone and they actually ask when we will be near enough to visit.
  • A computer is necessary.
  • Someone to help with mail is necessary.
  • A (mostly) national pharmacy is necessary.  We have been using Walgreens.  Fortunately, we don’t take a lot of prescriptions.
  • A (mostly) national bank.
  • Good credit and some cash.
  • Patience with your companion and with yourself.
  • A good laundry bag with a ziplock package of laundry pods (I use TIDE)
  • A portable WiFi so you can search for a lodging groupon when you know where you will be stopping for the night. (we use Verizon’s MiFI – just bear in mind, if there is no cell coverage, there is no internet)
  • Most bills can be received and paid online, however, a small supply of checks, envelopes and stamps are needed.
  • An up-to-date, national road atlas/book.
  • An up-to-date passport.
  • I am now, officially a TREE HUGGER after experiencing the great Redwood, Pacific Cedar, Eucalyptus and the Sequoia.

IMG_1467 IMG_1465 IMG_1347 IMG_1294 IMG_1247 IMG_1245

The Tournament of Roses Parade

Sweet husband and his sweet sister planned this trip for us at least two years ago. We joined an educational tour group called Road Scholar so we could get the full-meal-deal out of the trip. Believe me we did. I am not a parade person, I am, however, a hands-on person and that is exactly what I got. The group price was really reasonable, we all stayed together in a hotel near Pasadena, transportation to all events were provided as well as all meals. Just show up when and where they tell you…EASY!

DSC02482 DSC02495

The theme this year was, “Inspiring Stories”. Local son and hero, Louis Zamperini was asked to be the Grand Marshall. Unfortunately he passed away this past summer, but his family represented him along with a horse without a rider. His inspiring story was told by Laura Hillenbrand in her book, “Unbroken”, which was made into a movie, directed by Angelina Jolie. I highly recommend the book, it is one of the best I have read in years.

DSC02546 DSC02547

Speaking of horses, they have been a constant companion to the parade from the first year and they presented some magnificent horses and riders for this year’s event.

DSC02543 DSC02554 DSC02565 DSC02575

First day we were taken to this enormous warehouse facility owned by Phoenix (a company who actually designs and builds some of the corporate floats). The volunteers are all managed by The Kiwanis Club. Here we received our work orders for the day. We were assigned to decorate the Princess Cruise Line Float in the morning and cut roses all afternoon.

DSC02503 DSC02508


  • 55 million watch this parade worldwide
  • The cost of a float is between $50,000 and $200,000
  • They paint a pink line in the middle of the street, all the way down the 5 mile route so the drivers (who are inside) can see where to go.  There is someone on the float or walking beside it telling the driver when to stop and when to go forward.
  • All the bands are high school bands with the exception of the Pasadena Community College Band and the two college bands representing the two teams planning in the Rose Bowl.
  • The royal court is chosen from among the exceptional young women from the local high schools.
  • There are only three judges and 24 prizes.
  • There are between 2 and 3 million roses grown for and flown in for this parade.
  • There is nothing dyed and every item on the float is organic:  flowers, dried flowers, fruit, grains, bark, vegetables, sea weed, etc.

Besides decorating the float we had the opportunity to attend classes lead by people who have held different positions for this event. We went to Pasadena Community College to hear the marching bands. We were also taken to the Getty Museum for one afternoon. The weather was spectacular as were the building and grounds. Naturally the art was spectacular, as well.  We have seen many art museums over the past several months and I am always impressed by the architure; the Getty was no exception.  It is perched on a mountain overlooking Los Angeles on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.

DSC02514 DSC02523 DSC02525 DSC02533

We learned that the bands had to raise their own money to attend and perform. Plus, they actually played songs during the full five mile route. I have seen many bands in parades and they just mostly marched and beat the drums to the time of the march. These kids worked very hard…makes you proud.

We were taken to see the floats on display the day after the parade (we were allowed in before the general public went in) Pictures of finished floats below.  I hope you can see the details.

I was skeptical about this event going in, but I would do it again and recommend it to any Rose Parade lovers. The only negative was the weather on the day we viewed the bands (rain, lots of it). California needs it so we didn’t gripe. It was also the coldest Parade on record – who would have guessed in sunny California.

DSC02655 DSC02661 DSC02664 DSC02668 DSC02670 DSC02675 DSC02692 DSC02721

Drivng Up Highway 1 In California: Part 1b

San Simeon, CA the Castle built by William Randolph Hearst, a man addicted to creating.

We recently toured the William Randolph Hearst Castle.  What struck me almost immediately about this beautiful place was his love of doing it.  He was a world-class antique collector (today we might call him a hoarder).  He was a serial builder.  He built publishing businesses, one of the most productive film studios of the time and homes.  He had between 30-40 homes all over the world.  He loved the creative act of building.  He was daily, actively involved in the act of creating.  He inherited a fortune, but created his own over and above that.

DSC02780 DSC02777

Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Roman Bath, Hearst Castle

Roman Bath, Hearst Castle

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27 NASB)

To be creative is part of who we are because we are created in the image of the original creator.  We are a unique and personal creation.  I have found and many researchers concur that there is a deep and abiding satisfaction in the act of creating.  There is great satisfaction in the doing of a project, not just the accomplishment of the project.  Some find it in their professional life, or in the act of building a business or raising children and making a home.  It is different from recreation, community service or social activities, but it can become a part of these activities.  Some sing, write and play music, some are artists and crafters, some cook and bake, some garden, some decorate, some sew or knit, there are woodworkers/builders, some write….some enjoy the doing of several of these.  Just for the pure joy and (sometime) frustration of the act.

It is okay to be afraid, in fact it is required.  No one has ever created anything worthwhile they didn’t fear would not work.  Once we understand and accept it, we can only then finally live with our fears and create our best work. I’ve heard it said, “If you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.”  I am discovering many people who really live this way.

I have a cousin (June McClary) who has turned, “Lunch With Friends” into an event.  She and they make the most wonderful hats and dress accordingly for these festivals on a regular basis.

June1 June2

Another cousin (Frances Peterson) who gardens, cans, bakes and cooks; then lays down at night to have the energy to get up and do it all over again.


Both my brothers, a couple of my male cousins and my nephew all are musical.  They write music, sing and build instruments.  They play music even when no one is watching/listening.  Sometimes they would rather do that than eat.

Patrick IMG_2919

My brother-in-law purchased the Theater Organ from The Saenger Theater in Baton Rouge.  He then took it apart and reassembled it in his den – REALLY!  He built an extra room for the pipe chamber.  It is an amazing sight and sound.  He also rebuilds player pianos…these are ongoing projects of love.  If you are ever in the Jackson, MS area, let me know and I will assist you in a grand tour. (No picture available at press time)

I have a friend (Karen Clark) who paints…beautiful still life and landscapes and portraits.


I have another friend (Toby Morgan) who absolutely loves working with wood and building furniture.  You can see the joy in his face when he talks about a project. (No picture available at press time)

Lastly, I have a life-long friend (David Gray) who finds, rebuilds/restores, and resells pinball machines. He has enlisted his son in this fun activity.

David david2

I write.  I write because I love it. Even if no one but me, myself and I reads it or enjoys it.  I also love to garden and do crafts with my Grand-Wonders (or alone).  I have another life-long friend (Trish Holland) who turned the love of writing into a profession.  She writes children’s books.

Trish Holland

These people above are all part of the Baby Boomer generation, so they (we) have taken “hobbies” to a whole new level.  Follow our lead; find what you love and what makes your heart smile and fear, then do it.

This is an interactive blog post, please add, in the comments, what you do that makes your heart smile and add pictures.


So we left Santa Fe (sniff) and started our trip toward Sedona. We are in FULL exploration mode now.

First stop along the way was the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park (same location). They are located in northeastern Arizona, about 50 miles from the New Mexico border on Interstate 40.

The Painted Desert encompasses over 93,500 acres and stretches over 160 miles.  Naturally, the road through is NOT 160 miles long (take a calming, deep breath). The Painted Desert derives its name for the multitude of colors ranging from lavenders to shades of gray with vibrant colors of red, orange and pink. My pictures will not do justice to the actual colors.  It is a long expanse of badland hills and buttes and although barren and austere, it is a beautiful landscape of a rainbow of colors.

Next to the Painted Desert, the handiwork of erosion, water, and silica, the remnants of this once magnificent pine forest have taken millions of years to resurface, and sparkle like so many diamonds. Once the stomping ground of dinosaurs and other prehistoric residents, the Petrified Forest continually reveals the skeletons of its stormy past.  There is another Petrified Forest I have visited in Flora, MS, but it is dwarfed in comparison to this National Park’s extensive trees.  Pictures below

IMG_0610 IMG_0608 IMG_0606 IMG_0600 IMG_0598 IMG_0572 IMG_0568 IMG_0565 IMG_0562

Sweet Husband and I purchased a National Park membership a couple of years ago, well worth the $80.00. It gets a car full into any and all National Parks. If you are a National Park visitor, make the purchase.

After leaving the National park our GPS took us along Route 66 (yes, the VERY same famous one, get your kicks) still on our trek toward Sedona. We passed a sign alerting us to, “The Best Preserved Meteorite Site On Earth”. We made the quick turn to the left and followed the short detour to the Meteor Crater. Way cool, way large, worth the stop (plus clean restrooms).

Formed almost 50,000 years ago, the crater is a sight to behold. This is a must see. Formed by a huge iron-nickel meteorite hurling to our earth at 26,000 mph. It penetrated the rocky plain, pressures rose to 20 million pounds per sq. inch and in seconds a crater 700 feet deep and over 4,000 feet across was carved into the face of the earth. During the formation 175 million tons of limestone and sandstone displaced for over a mile surrounding the crater. Pictures below

IMG_0616 IMG_0615 IMG_0614 IMG_0612

Ahhhh Sedona

We arrived in Sedona after dark because of the above detours. So, when we got up the next morning and walked outside we were blown away at the beauty surrounding us.

We had three nights FREE because we agreed to sit through a 90 minute sales presentation about time shares. The presentation turned into three hours, but we got away scott free – Praise God! We went in with full disclosure when we were presented with this “opportunity”. We told them we would NOT be purchasing ANYTHING. They said they understood and still wanted to offer us this “opportunity”. Day one blown.

Day two was rainy and overcast, so a lot of the views were obscured, we drove around anyway and did a little shopping in the outlet mall. Day two was better, EVEN WITH THE RAIN.

Day three threatened snow on the mountains leading out to Nevada, so we got an early start (thank God) and took our time crossing the mountain arriving in Vegas in day light. More on Vegas next post. Sedona pictures below.

DSC02286 IMG_0642 IMG_0629 IMG_0628 IMG_0624IMG_0652


We drove from Redding to Eureka on state Hwy 299 connecting to Hwy 1, 101 to Mountain View Hwy over some really beautiful and unbelievably narrow, steep and curved mountain and coastal roads (more about the actual stuff we saw later).  Sweet husband did a wonderful job, I on the other hand I used the break on my side of the car to the point I pulled a muscle in my back (REALLY!) and THANK GOD FOR GOOD BREAKS.  Below are just some of the signs we passed…some gave me pause…yes, there were plenty of idiots on bicycles.  Many times we had to stop for workers cleaning up rock slides, YES REALLY!

bike curve curvie duck flood golf horse and rider ice rail steep warning steep Tsunami worker