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

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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

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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.

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Driving up Highway 1on the California Coast: Part 1a

So, sweet husband and I are driving up the California Coast, we leave behind us two-plus weeks of crowds, lines and schedules (whew), we stop at a Honda dealer for service on our sweet minivan, then we view the most incredible sunset we have ever seen in our life on the Pacific Highway, we find a motel in a small town just after dark and check-in.  Long day.

We unload, open suitcases, open a cold beverage, turn on the TV and change cloths.  Sweet husband finds an old movie and he is soooooo happy.  I pull out the computer to check finances and email.  We settle in for a long winter’s nap…except it doesn’t feel like winter in California.

There is an ugly thing a women’s body does to her (besides growing cellulite).  One reaches a certain age and one can no longer have babies (YES!), the down side, one is ALWAYS HOT…not as in “really sexy”, but as in, “Please crank up the air conditioner NOW!, before I kill someone…hot!”

The room is hot, I am hot, this is not good.  I look around the room for the air conditioning switch…notta!  There is a sliding glass door with a screen door, but the screen door has no lock!  So I call the front desk (voice shaking) and ask where to turn on the A/C…I am told that there is NO Air Conditioning.  Panic sets in, in spite of the fact that I am told it will be 50 degrees outside tonight…but the screen door won’t lock (panic)!  After all, this is California.  Never mind that I spent the whole summer in Maine without A/C, but (panic) this is California and it had been 85 degrees today (PANIC!).  Plus I had this flash back of the Best (aka Worst) Western we stayed in near LAX.  Crack smoking in parking lot…domestic violence with police at 2:00 a.m. and the added fun of the fire alarm at 3:00 a.m.  That was my introduction to California…and the screen door won’t lock…I’m in full conniption mode now.

You must understand, If it is not 60 degrees in my bedroom, I cannot sleep….really!  Sweet husband often has to have extra cover.  We never sleep with heat in the winter…really!

Wide eyed, I look at sweet husband and start my hissy-fit.  “I cannot, absolutely CANNOT sleep in the heat!”  Don’t you care that I cannot sleeeeeeeeeep!?  I cannot stay here, OMGosh, we need to find another place to stay…I must be able to sleeeeeeeep!!!!!

Now, sweet husband is tired too and is full into this movie.  He tries to calm me down by telling me about the sliding glass door…all the while packing his suit case and getting dressed – wide-eyed.  In his calmest and most caring voice, he assures me we will drive around until we find a place to stay with A/C.  “Drive around…OMGosh, NO!  Is that your best solution!?  Watch your movie, I will find us a place!”

I take several deep breaths, my panic turns to purpose.   Adrenalin helps one focus…I go outside to the patio and start calling around from a list on the internet.  No one in 50 miles has A/C…then I realize it is actually cool outside.  Sweet husband drives to the office and gets me a fan…I start calming down, we unpack again.

I do actually open the sliding glass door and get cool enough to fall to sleep…then, wait for it … wait for it … the heat comes on in the middle of the night…really!

Below are picture of the above mentioned sunset, and a few other views of the wonderful beach near San Simeon, CA (home of the Hearst Castle – more on that in Part1b).

Final disclosure:  I did fully apologize to Sweet Husband, he forgave me and we actually laughed about it.  He is so good to me.

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One of the things sweet husband and I do when we travel to a new place is purchase an ornament.  We have boxes full.  Each year it is an all day project to unpack them and hang them on our tree.  It brings back memories of where we went, what we did and the people involved in some of these trips.  Sweet times, sweet memories.  I save the receipts and date them (if they are not dated).  The receipts and ornaments are packed together.

Needless to say, our ornament collection is EXPANDING.  Fortunately, we were able to stop in November and drop that load off to our storage unit.

Another thing that is EXPANDING is our weight.  When you travel like we are doing, there is far too much eating out and almost no daily exercise.  This is the only negative side effect to this trip – thus far.  We enjoyed lobster in Maine (matchless).  We had wonderful Tex-Mex in Houston when we stopped for lunch with a friend.  We had lunch in San Antonio with sweet son-in-law who was there for a work related convention/show.  We are currently visiting sweet husband’s brother.  Brother-in-law’s wife is an excellent cook.  We had a great Thanksgiving with my daughter in south Louisiana where I had my first fried turkey…YUM!  Today we are going to a world famous Bar-B-Q place and tomorrow we are having lunch with sweet husbands sister – more wonderful food.

My tolerance for this lifestyle is expanding, my patience is expanding, my ability to change directions on a whim is expanding.  Thankfully the only thing not expanding is the price of gasoline…it is shrinking the further west we travel.

From here to California it will be just me and sweet husband.  I am looking forward to that routine again.

Pictures from the road below:

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Social Media

New web sites and new people to BLOGING seem to get brain block when directed to something new – I sure know I do and I am not new to the computer world.  I started this Blog for my daughter, so you will see the first couple of posts are a letter to her in Blog format.  I mentioned it to some others in the family and to friends who were courious about our locations and plans, so I sent them the link via email.  They clicked on my blog post link but were unable to find how to “FOLLOW” for future posts notifications.  I’m so new to this that I was unable to help them. . .Sooooooooooo in an effort to make it a little easier for all of us, I created a FaceBook Page called, (naturally) Living In A MiniVan.  If you are a FB user, please feel free to search for it, “Like” the page and share it when you find a post you enjoy.



Parctical, Boring, Necessary and Encourageing Information For The Long-Term Traveler

I believe I have mentioned the Verizon MiFi (internet for where there is no internet).  This works off the Verizon cellular towers and has a monthly charge and uses data.  We have 7G of data monthly and have never used it all.  We were told by the sales person that we could do streaming of music and/or video, but that was not true.  1) because it will eat up your data and 2) It is too slow to watch movies or TV shows (it stops and stops and stops…OMGosh, it is not worth the aggravation).  It is great otherwise, unless there is no cell coverage.

I don’t have a lot of fine jewelry, but the diamond engagement ring and the pearls my son gave me are safely locked in our safe deposit box with our wills.  You must have a safe deposit box.  The jewelry I brought with me is the bear minimum and I purchased a small jewelry travel box for them.


We have this handy battery pack (rechargeable) that will actually jump our battery off if we ever get stuck with a dead battery.  Naturally sweet husband made sure we have a new battery, oil and fluids and new tires to start this adventure with.


We have a good cooler for bottled water, Cokes, half-n-half (must have for my coffee and not all motels offer this), sandwich stuff, fruit (because we cannot always eat out).


Good suits cases


A Bible (NEVER leave home without it).


Comfortable, wash and wear clothing and only 5 pair of shoes each:  Dress shoes, good sandals, hiking shoes, water shoes and good walking shoes.  Not these


Lastly, thick skin.  Not everyone will agree with or be envious of your choices whether it is a trip like this or any decision you make from hair color to college education to faith.  Be fully aware there are arm-chair quarterbacks and critics in all our lives.  I found a speech by Theodore Roosevelt that addresses this for me with each negative encounter.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”



Maine: The Best Summer of My Life

Before I start my pictures and information on our trip out west, I wanted to back-track to our summer.  There are some previous posts regarding places and things seen, but no details about Maine.

This was our route:

  • We left Mississippi on June 1st with the essentials* to get us through the next several months (we sold our house and put everything we wanted to keep in storage).  Driving the nine hours to The Great Smoky Mountains National Park for a week in a cabin with four long-time friends.  This was a much needed time of R&R.
Church in Cade's Cove, TN

Church in Cade’s Cove, TN

One of the beautiful falls called The Sinks in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

One of the beautiful falls called The Sinks in The Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Back yard visitors in Mississippi.

Back yard visitors in Mississippi.

  • From TN we drove the 6 to 7 hours to Richmond to spend time with close, long-time friends (see earlier posts regarding Virginia).
Monument at the state capitol in Richmond.

Monument at the state capitol in Richmond.

  • From Richmond we drive to Albany, NY via Washington DC and Philadelphia, PA.  We spent the night between DC & PA in NJ.  (see earlier posts regarding DC & PA & NY).
Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

  • We stayed two nights with friends in Albany who took us to tour Saratoga and the Lake George area on July 4th.
Saratoga Race Track

Saratoga Race Track

  • From NY we drove to MAINE, arriving late on July 5th.  We stayed in Maine, on the Atlantic coast until October 25th.  It was our BOO (Base Of Operations).

Maine is the most wonderful and most beautiful of all the places we have seen thus far.  For the very first time in my life, I wore a light jacket almost all summer.  I cannot express to you how much I love Maine.

We had visitors fly in for a week each:  My granddaughter and one of her friends,  a co-worker and her husband and a two couples we have spent many trips with.

  • We found a nice, small church in our town which we attended every Sunday we were in town.
  • We attended many fun art and music festivals – The Celtic Festival in Belfast was the best.
  • We visited Acadia National Park 4 or 5 times.
  • We went Whale Watching with my granddaughter off the coast of Bar Harbor and sited two large ones several times.
  • We crewed in a Friendship Sloop Regatta (see Unexpected Blessing post).
  • We drove up into Canada and will post pictures from Quebec City (spectacular) and Campobello (Roosevelt’s Summer Home).
  • We went camping twice (see previous posts about this in New Hampshire and a Maine’s Rangely State Park); and once for two nights on Prince Edward Island (see previous post about this trip).
Whale Watching

Whale Watching

Beach combing for cool rocks, clam shells and mermaid tears (sea glass) along the shore a block from our beautiful "summer Home".  The tides in Maine are 30' to 50' twice a day.

Beach combing for cool rocks, clam shells and mermaid tears (sea glass) along the shore a block from our beautiful “summer home”. The tides in Maine go in and out 30′ to 50′ twice a day.

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park

Sand Beach in Acadia National Park

Along the shore in Acadia National Park

Along the shore in Acadia National Park

A view of Camden Bay from atop Mount Battie

A view of Camden Bay from atop Mount Battie

One of many beautiful lighthouses dotting the coast of Maine

One of many beautiful lighthouses dotting the coast of Maine

A view of Bar Harbor from the top of Cadillac Mountain (made of pink granite) in Acadia National Park

A view of Bar Harbor from the top of Cadillac Mountain (made of pink granite) in Acadia National Park

*Essentials:  Golf clubs, important documents/file box (passports, birth certificate and marriage license, checks, office supplies, stamps), camping stuff, computer, Verizon Mi-Fi (internet for places that have no internet), wash-n-wear clothing, all our prescriptions in hard-copy form, all important contacts loaded in the iPad and iPhones, pistol with extra ammo.

Any questions?