Saturday, June 30, 2018

July - Smooch Smooch is 18 AGAIN, AGAIN!

19 Jul:  So today we stuffed everything onto the motorcycle and rode through (cool) Silverton and (cooler) Ouray to Montrose, Colorado to stay the night at the Hampton Inn (here) where the temperature is 100 degrees HOT.  Miss Smoochie, our traveling companion, didn’t complain. The motorcycle is a bit less top heavy after shipping Remembering Our Ancestors off to sistah Carol, mailing another few pages to cousin Tim, and depositing recycling.  It was nice to hear from Paul G. tonight. Deja Vu! As we pulled into the parking lot of The Stone House Restaurant, it looked familiar. We have eaten there several times in the past. Our romantic dinner was excellent, and so was a delightful 10 year old dining with her grandmother.  Good night.

18 Jul:  We are staying an extra night at the Blue Lake Ranch B and B. Dinner at Kennebecs tonight was a delightful experience due to a very lovely couple from Durango.  Everyone should be so charming.  Now we pack for our departure to Montrose, Colorado in the morning.  And Ron should be packing instead of blogging.

Thank goodness Cynthia didn't think to take the picture earlier
17 Jul:  After a morning appointment in Durango, we enjoyed a lovely lunch at Kennebec’s Restaurant.  Another adventure ensued as we left when a customer asked if the blue BMW was ours; it had fallen over.  That 800 pound bike could not be raised by Ron and the thoughtful fellow.  Ron returned to the restaurant and espied a couple of young men with their parents.  The five men managed to lift the bike easily.  Fortunately neither bike nor any of the heavy lifters were injured.  Cynthia thought about a picture after the bike was upright, so Ron is relieved that there is no evidence that this ever happened.  In Ron's never ending quest for shade, he parked the kickstand on pine duff that looked like solid ground but wasn't.  Here is a link to hikes in Mesa Verde:

16 Jul:  It was a memorable birthday!  We had quite the big adventure hiking the Petroglyph Trail, steep and rocky with too much exposure for Cynthia in several places.  She was terrified - and exhausted herself with fear !!  After 1.2 miles of this, we came to the petroglyphs, a single panel packed full of drawings.  Soon after that the trail ascended onto the mesa top and became a simple waltz in the woods.  Cynthia was greatly relieved until lighting began and one clap of thunder sounded very, very close, like a blast of dynamite.  A family had caught up to us and their two little girls were in the lead, their little feet boogieing as fast as possible, sheer terror evident on their faces.  The rain started as we descended the open rock towards the Mesa Museum, and then it poured.  We read most of the panels in the museum and waited and waited and waited for three hours until the rain finally stopped.  Unfortunately we ran into lots more rain as we drove down the mountain.  Fortunately at this late hour (7:30 pm) on a rainy day, the road was empty of traffic.  Surviving while living with Ron proves the existence of God.  We continue to survive.

15 Jul, The ride to Mesa Verde to hike was pleasant and cool. The Balcony House overlook hike was surprisingly warm. It was fun to see how much we  remembered  our Mesa Verde hikes  in the past. The Knife Edge Trail was fairly level with great views. Cynthis will post the photos tomorrow

Rain over 416 Forest Fire?
14 Jul: Jackie, the hostess/chef at the Blue Lake Ranch makes our mornings such a delight. We were surprised to learn she is married to the coach who remembered us.  He described the harrowing tale of having his foot run over by his van yesterday.  Once again we enjoyed conversing with the trio from Belgium.  Our morning hike was at the ranch's event center; the trail was not as well maintained nor as long as we remembered. Cynthia quizzed the gardener about why we are seeing so many purple plants in higher altitudes; the answer is timing. The yellow flowers bloom first followed by red ones then the purple flowers. Much has to do with rain and humidity. We rode into Durango to shop at the Nature's Oasis Market and enjoyed a salad lunch.  Upon our return, Ron enjoyed Casita porch time working through a new genealogy book he purchased about Shenck ancestors.  Cynthia had the same magnificent view of the mountains Ron did (shown in the photo below from inside the casita) staring at the back of Ron's head on occasion; she was reading a book on her iPad inside the house The rainfall was minimal. Our evening hike was not too long because the triangular flies are biting

13 Jul: Blue Lake Ranch B&B on Southern Ute Reservation is 200 acres of beautiful views. Our Sunset Casita is semi isolated; we awoke Mountain Views on the north and the sunset on the east.  It is a blessing to sleep with the windows open.  Our breakfast table companions were from Belgium and a bicycling coach, who remembered us from one of our previous visits.  We have lots of trails to hike and very little WiFi.  It seems the WiFi goes out every five minutes.  Updates will be sketchy!
Cynthia likes the headboard

12 Jul: We check out of our hotel at one PM followed by a one hour ride to Durango; Cynthia has a chest XRay at three. Good Results!  Plans are weather dependent . The Blue Lake Ranch B&B is home for the next week.  They serve marvelous breakfasts.

11 Jul:  We are in Pagosa Springs for the final day of packing before riding to the Blue Lake Ranch outside Durango tomorrow the 12th, God willing.  Our morning 4 mile hike was pleasant followed by brunch at Two Chicks. Ron, the recycling man,  walked the cardboard and paper around the corner to recycle and packed bags all afternoon.  By the time we go to sleep we will be ready to ride. Well, after the box gets shipped to Texas at UPS.

10 Jul:  Another day of organizing document photos for Ron.  We did go for a very short walk late this morning and saw our favorite nine bucks awaiting their bird food.  Then we ate brunch, and Cynthia went to Sue's Sizzors for a hair cut.  Ron rode the Beemer back to the motel from where it was parked yesterday afternoon.  Early evening we walked our usual route and again saw the nine bucks, this time strolling through the neighborhood and browsing leisurely.  Cynthia's breathing is a little easier today, and the skies are a crystal clear blue. It appears allergies and smoke may be responsible for breathing issues. Prayer works!   Cynthia will have a chest X Ray tomorrow.

The other side is a bench !!  Pretty ornate - or ornate and pretty
9 Jul:  Happy Birthday Granddaughter Rachel!  Since Ron had cards and letters ready to mail, we decided to hike on Reservoir Hill after negotiating postage at the Post Office across from the hot springs.  Our decision to hike at Reservoir Hill was serendipitous; we met a delightful, effervescent couple from Katy, Texas who shared their unique faith journey and prayed with us for B, C,  and K.  God is good!  The hill was more of a hill than Cynthia remembered, and although she is breathing easier, she was quickly winded by the hill.  Ron remembered (from another hike years ago) this most interesting bench carved from a tree.  The fact that Ron remembers these sorts of things is yet another unexplained miracle !!

8 Jul:  Being creatures of habit, we follow the same daily routine: exercise, oatmeal with fruit followed by a 4-5 mile hike; on the last lap homeward bound, we are seriously ready for brunch at Two Chicks.  Betsy, the owner, turns the order in to the chef, “ for the special couple.”  "Isn't that special," says the Church Lady. Last night’s rain was a blessing,  but not too noticeable this morning. We spotted 9-10 deer, including an injured buck, and one named Stumpy (due to a stump on his antlers).  A community of geese was happy to be photographed for granddaughter Fyn. Tonight,  loud crashing thunder and sharp cracks of lightning roared above us at Boss Hogg’s Restaurant.  We are it back to the hotel in between the rain showers.  Ron will hike in the rain alone tonight.  Cynthia's blister is healing nicely.
Geese in the lake at the end of our neighborhood walk

7 Jul: Every day we hike past 8-10 elegant buck deer ensconced in the same shady spot. The antlers are growing by the day; One has 10 points. The deer seem unafraid; they like this place because a  bird feeder is directly across the road. The fellow who feeds the birds said, "I can't help it if the deer eat the seed.  I am only feeding birds.“ We had a most interesting visit with a neighbor ( to the deer) who is in charge of managing manpower for the fire, search and rescue teams;  he was one of the team hiking up mountain to rescue the young woman with a broken ankle as we were hiking down from Four Mile Falls.  He said she had surgery and gave us a report on the Colorado fires.  Cynthia's blister is greatly improved thanks to Ron's medial expertise. It rained briefly tonight as we walked to dinner. Ron has had opportunity to tell his bear stories several times today. The guy in the restaurant had a very good bear story in return.
Lookie the velvet and all those tines on his antlers.

6 Jul:  Are we boring?  After explaining our lifestyle to a 13 year old who was helping her mom clean our hotel room, we wondered if our routine was boring.  For extreme exciting news: Ron fixed a mole skin cover for Cynthia's blister; the bad news is the blister is still to painful for hiking.  BUT, we did get to Two Chicks for lunch and hobbled home.  The extra good news is the room is clean!  Cynthia created Rambo and Bankston spreadsheets for  Ron continues working on the SCS projects.  It is pouring down rain in Pagosa Springs.  For how long, we don’t know, but it is mighty welcome to the firemen fighting forest fires. Yes! We are not boring or bored.
5 Jul:  Cynthia hiked just fine yesterday morning.  Attempting a second hike last night was her undoing because the blister worsened.  Ron hiked alone this morning, having a great time visiting with the deer feeder guy who said 10 bucks were ensconced across from his home last night.  Ron was introduced to his Texas neighbors who happen to winter on the north side of Lake Conroe, Texas.  We lived on the south side.

4 Jul:  Wishing our family and friends a Happy Independence Day - the Fourth of July!  To reflect on the meaning of Independence Day is to grasp the suffering paid by the signers of the Declaration of Independence and those who fought so valiantly for the freedoms we have today.  Our country is unique in providing more opportunity for more people than any other country ever has.  We salute our veterans and soldiers.  Thank you.  God Bless America!

3 Jul:  Blistered Cynthia sat out the walk today, so Ron used the opportunity to talk to a friend who enjoys long, long conversations and walked the entire circuit around the lake to Pagosa Road.  After brunch, he examined several of those files converted to Word and discovered a few more letters that need to be considered for Volume 7 of the Records of the Colonial Swedish Churches in Pennsylvania.  (Sorry Ken.)  At 8 PM punctually, he was out the door to walk to WallyWorld, gawk at the sunset, and converse with another friend via the miracle of telecommunication - remarkable even with an old flip phone. We assisted Brett with his blog posts:
That bright red dot above the trees is the sun !!

2 Jul:  Da hubsand failed in hubsandly duties by asking if (instead of insisting that) we turn around when my beloved SmoochSmooch confessed that she had started walking in her "comfortable" shoes instead of changing into her hiking Hokas.  Now she has a blister and is doctoring before we go to Two Chicks for brunch at 1pm.  (Brunch because we always order egg white omelets there.)  It was a hot walk with little shade this morning because we started late instead of early.  Fortunately, the smoke has been blown away by the strong north winds today.  Unfortuately the 416 fire is heading northward.  We need a southeasterly wind to blow it back into areas already burned.  Today the guy who feeds the birds was out, and we talked with him for a bit.  He cannot prevent the deer from eating that bird food.  One large buck has survived three hunting seasons so far.  Here is Ron's description copied from an email to a Little cousin, "We are safely ensconced in Pagosa Springs, Colorado breathing that lovely, fresh, high altitude smoke from the 416 fire 60 miles away and moving incredibly slowly on land, but not so slowly in air quality.  Cynthia tells me that I keep the room too cold and the air conditioned air is giving her sundry problems, so she has contrived to move us much, much closer to the fire on July 12th to the Blue Lake Ranch near Hesperus, Colorado.  I liked the idea so well that I bought her another bouquet of flowers yesterday and almost had them trimmed and en-vased before she noticed.  This is Cynthia's birthday month, so I wished her happy birthday, and the Blue Lake Ranch is one of her favorite accommodations hereabouts.  The beauty of Pagosa Springs (besides the brilliant smokey sunsets) is that the highs have been running in the mid-80s.  When we leave Durango around July 19th, we will probably tour through Colorado to get the most smoke possible en route to Montana for cooler temperatures (although that didn't work last time we tried it).  Route to be determined by the seat of my pants, recently mended.  We do genealogy 80% of our time, but most of it has to do with DNA or the Swedish Colonial Society.  (Tell Shelley that we are on her side.)  We hike for an hour or two every day and just today talked with the guy who feeds the deer via his bird feeder.  We've seen 9 bucks waiting their turn to his feeder."  Sunset tonight was blood red, smack on the horizon!  Awesome !!

1 Jul, Sunday in Pagosa Springs, Colorado:  Thank God.  Today is the first day of the birthday month.   SmoochSmooch.  I love you on your birthday month.  God was willing, we did wake up, and there was much less smoke in the air.  The temperature was 72 degrees when we began our morning hike. It felt like 85 degrees when we finished.  The smoke increased considerably during the day.  About 8:00 PM Ron walked to Wally World for groceries and phoned Cynthia twice to encourage her to look out the hallway window to see the marvelous coral sunset that preceded a sky full of brown wisps.  And he sneaked a gorgeous bouquet of pink roses into the room !!  Ron has finished for now changing Word Perfect files to Word.  Good job.  We are so very thankful, so richly blessed, and we Thank God big time.  Thank God for Cynthia.

Friday, June 1, 2018

June Junket with Friends in Santa Fe and CO

30 Jun:  Another month bites the dust.  Smoke from the 416 fire has increased considerably.  On this morning's walk through the neighborhood, the mountains were mere ghostly shadows.  On the plus side, we saw five adult bucks with many pronged antlers in velvet awaiting provisioning of their favorite bird feeder.  The view across the lake to the mountains was a disappointment since the haze was so severe.  By evening the haze had drifted even further over Pagosa Springs, and it smelled quite strong as we walked to dinner.  Ron said there is a warning that anyone over 18 should stay indoors.  The real smoke advisory is for young children and the elderly to stay indoors.  (Cynthia is 18; in July she will be 18 again and again and again.)  Because of the heat, wind, and smoke from the fires in Colorado we will plan to go further north when we leave this area after our July 16th celebration.  WooHoo! Cynthia's DNA manuscript is off to the publisher after the required edits.   Ron continues converting Craig Collection files from Word Perfect to Word.  There is light at the end of this tunnel too.

It was much prettier in real life
29 Jun:  Although today is cooler, it is very windy causing smoke from the wildfire to affect breathing a bit.  Cynthia is excited that the housekeeping staff cleaned!  A fascinating mitochondrial DNA study was in the news that supports species separation 100,000 years ago.  We have been busy bees working on various computer projects.  Our walking was limited to lunch and dinner; tonight we did another extensive hike to the lake taking in the sunset.  Smoke from the 416 fire north of Durango made the sky hazy.  Yet we rejoiced over the orange/coral and pink clouds above us and on the horizon.

28 Jun:  Happy Birthday Kiira!  Our early walk at 9:30 AM wasn’t cool.  The sun was intense, but we did manage nearly 4 miles.  Tonight’s walk was an additional 3.5 miles and much cooler.  We could see the smoke from the forest fire on the western horizon.  Ron is almost finished with his mending projects and is busy changing a multitude of Craig Collection files from Word Perfect to Word.  Prayers are uplifted for the many tragedies surrounding us.  The orange pink sunset is covered by smoke from the wildfire.

27 Jun:  Blog? Blog? Blog?  I forgot to blog.  Greg, Cindy and Renee stopped to say bon voyage as they were leaving Pagosa Springs. And we spent the day being lazy with an evening walk. The sunset was a breathtaking coral, orange, pink. The smoke from the forest fires caused some haze.

26 Jun:  Pagosa Springs EconoLodge stretches and breakfast were followed today by a ride to the Turkey Run trail at the end of pavement on County Road 600.  We returned to Two Chicks and a Hippy (click here) in time for our usual breakfast.

Les & Sherry invited us to a small party of Keys fugitives
25 Jun:  Our usual morning through the neighborhood hike followed our usual morning exercises and oatmeal.  The hike was followed by our usual breakfast lunch at Two Chicks and a Hippie.  We were more alert by 4 PM when we had a lovely party with snacks and great conversation with friends from Big Pine Key.  And now we are ready for sleep!  Good night -- except that Ron stayed up long enough to erect an initial website for grandson Brett: and similarly an initial blog at  We mention them here so that Google's web crawler will find them sooner.  Ron's next job is to make links to these on his web site.

Greg & Cindy, Smooch & SmoochSmooch
I love my Smooch!
24 Jun, Sunday:  Ten minutes into our usual morning walk around the neighborhood, Renee, Cindy and Greg  invited us to hike to FourMile Falls, a magnificent waterfall.  They are staying at ElkTrace Ranch, a B&B north of Pagosa Springs; it is accessible by dirt road only.  Cynthia wasn’t wild about a dirt road, but we did it and we survived.  The road up to the trailhead is also dirt, so Cynthia opted to ride in the car with Renee, Cindy and Greg while Ron rode the bike about nine miles up the dirt road before transferring to the now very crowded car, a small electric Subaru.  The Columbine flowers were lovely, lavender and white.  The trail was mostly good except for the rocks on the slopes that are like ball bearings underfoot (for Cynthia).  By the time this exhausted group of hikers reached the falls we were unable to get good photos because of the West sun.  We heard that a 33-year-old woman, mother of two young children, fell at the falls and broke her ankle.  Renee gave ibuprofen to a woman who came down looking for anything to help.  Ron decided to continue up to the falls, but turned around when the trail became too treacherous with loose rock and dirt for a short steep twenty feet.  (The falls did not look that spectacular from that vantage point anyway.)  As we hiked back to the trailhead, we were comforted to see the mountain rescue teams  heading up trail with sufficient gear to transport her down to a vehicles at the trailhead.  Once we returned to our EconoLodge, Cynthia was excited to shower and be clean again.  Fitbit recorded 8 miles and our bodies screamed  SLEEP!
The photo lies, there wasn't that much water

Columbine, lavender or blue?

There are actually 12 flowers, but one or two are hiding
23 Jun:  The low temperature last night was 40 degrees.  By 7:50 we were hiking, and Cynthia was in a sweatshirt.  At this elevation (in the bright sun), a 47 degree temperature it doesn’t mean it is cold.  We were overheated.  According to Fitbit we walked nearly 7 miles by evening.  It was exciting to see several large deer.  Ron is patching his pants plus doing additional mending in many colors.  Not all of the mending is done; it is a never-ending job.  Ron mends blue, black, white, then green and repeat.  Each garment needing mending gets some thread before the first garment is revisited.  This could take a while.  [In fact it took twelve days.]  But we are tired,  even though we had a midday nap.  Good night and love to Smooch for the beautiful fleurs!

22 Jun:  Happy Birthday to our granddaughter Lauren!  The San Juan Forest reopening allowed us to hike on our favorite trails in Pagosa Springs, but it was super hot.  Our legs were tired from yesterdays long miles and hefty uphills, too.  A bicyclist was speeding up behind Cynthia who did not hear him approach.  Ron yelled a warning about the time the guy was immediately behind her.  She jumped out of the way. A brief time later his wife approached and Ron asked her if that was her husband to which she said yes.  Ron told her he was going too fast and she readily agreed.  Ron warned her that if he sees him do it again he will stand directly in his way and hit him.  Da Macho Smooch protects his SmoochSmooch.  Crazy crazy riders.
Happy Birthday Lauren

Rim Trail 312 

21 Jun:  This is the longest day of the year, and it was a very long day for us.  We hiked over 7 miles.  This morning we hiked the bike Trail to our neighborhood lake, then rode the motorcycle to Wolf Creek Pass and hiked on the Continental Divide Trail.  How curious that we arrived at the Continental Divide at 3:30 and learned from a State Trouper parked there that the San Juan Forest had opened at 3:00 only because the forest received up to 1.5" of rainfall last week.  The pine bark beetles have decimated acres and acres of trees at Wolf Creek Pass.  It is sad to see so many dead trees, and the risk of fire is tremendous fire.  We were voracious after the hike so we splurged on an awesome dinner at the Alley Restaurant.  Ron wore through the seat of his brittle, worn out cargo pants.  The shirt is wearing thin as well.  This is an exciting time because Ron appears to love patching clothes.  (Dis here is da WeeFee humor.)  Let's hope these photos of the signage at the Continental Divide are readable upon magnification.

20 Jun:  Our walk was early to avoid the noon time heat.  Also, Cynthia had a 4:00 Medical checkup  appointment in Durango.  The hour ride to and from Durango was marvelous.  The hills filled with evergreen trees were framed against majestic mountains  and a breathtaking azure blue sky.  After the medical appointment we enjoyed dinner at Jean Pierre’s French Restaurant.  They are the one French restaurant that will do a great job of feeding us, by avoiding the sauces upon sauces typical of French cooking.  We walked again when we arrived home at 8:30.

19 Jun:  On this day, June 19, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was read to slaves throughout Texas; the day is called Juneteenth, a continuing holiday for rejoicing with parades and fireworks.  After lunch we walked the bicycle/walking trail full circle.  Cynthia’s fit bit says it was five miles.  The Salmon at the Pagosa Brewery was recommended by hotel guests, along with good salads. The salads were huge. The salmon was itty bitty but tasty.  The tented, outdoor ambiance was interesting, complete with wood shavings on the ground, picnic tables and a couple of guitarists playing and singing 70’s music.

Our neighborhood lake just west of Pagosa Springs 
I bet she is looking for those nine bucks too
18 Jun:  Happy Monday!  Hi to cousin Monte L., who emailed an invitation to his wonderful home in Colorado Springs.  He reads our blog!  Genealogy is consuming our time: replying to emails  plus genealogy research keeps us busy.  Ron walked this AM while discussing a new genealogy discovery with sister Carol; he was thrilled to see a large community of 9 buck deer.  A mature doe was unperturbed by our photo shoot (this afternoon)  while she was enjoying lunch.  Early evening we tried another branch of our neighborhood walk, which led to a lovely, small  lake in a picturesque setting.  The view across the lake to the San Juan Mountains is inspiring.

Cynthia's family pastel portrait
17 Jun, Sunday:  Happy Father’s Day to fathers, those who have fathers, those who lost fathers, and those who plan to be fathers.  It is a marvelous vocation.  Cynthia’s father died young. She was only 37 when he passed away two months after receiving a pastel portrait Cynthia did for her parents wedding anniversary.  The portrait was published in their hometown Iowa newspaper to surprise her parents, who had moved to California.  Ron was 36 when his dad died at the young age of 62. We miss our fathers. YAY! RAIN!  We did have a good walk before the rain started to fall again.  It continued raining while we ate lunch at 2 Chicks and a Hippie, all the white enjoying a marvelous conversation with a local artist named Mary.  We enjoy our full subscription to Ancestry because of its cache of original records.  We don't trust Ancestry trees, but Ancestry's search reveals all sorts of original records including census records, etc.  Amazing.  We don't use Ancestry for DNA testing, but we do use FTDNA, 23 and Me and for our DNA analysis.  Ron has a unique DNA marker that ties him to the infamous Borders Reivers (horse thieves.  King James kicked the Beatty and Little Clans out of Scotland by 1600.  Ron has the Beatty surname but his Y-DNA matches people named Little rather than those named Beatty.  His Little cousins tend to be hilarious, but don't trust them to return your horse.)

16 Jun:  The Smooches are ensconced IN their hotel room because rain is blessing this parched, dry land with desperately needed moisture.  It is supposed to rain all day and night; showers are expected off and on this week. We pray that the rain will stop the wildfires!  In the meantime-and-in-between-time, room time is a good thing.

15 Jun:  Pagosa Springs, Colorado at the EconoLodge is where Ron and Cynthia awakened early today.  Being thankful is the shortcut to peace of mind.  We begin every day with a gratitude attitude.  A thankful presence flows outwards and begats peace.  So saith the counselor in spiritual direction.  Da unabashedly hippy counterpart says that the curtains here are no better than those at the Homewood Suites at Buffalo Thunder; they let in a lot of light at 5:30 AM.  We feel much better this morning since we got to bed earlier, close to 10 PM.  The hotel breakfast has no fresh fruit, and the room refrigerator has no ice box for frozen veggies and fruits, but they provided quick Quaker oats and hot water.  After an hour or two we walked back over to 2 Chicks and a Hippy for an omelet lunch and were quite disappointed that the cook ignored directives for no oil, so the waitress took one omelet off the bill.  We told her that the cook better get it right tomorrow or we won't be back.  Then we walked back to the motel to make more oatmeal and popcorn.  Now it is time to hike, but Cynthia was asleep and awoke unmotivated, so tomorrow we will hike on the other side of Wolf Creek Pass at the Lobo Overlook.  We rode the bike over to Wally World and bought toothpaste, cinnamon, blueberries, and other supplies.  Ron is about burned out on blog updates, maybe more tomorrow. RSB - you are tooooo funny!

ready to ride
14 Jun:  Let’s ride!  Cynthia was awake at 3:00 AM and ready to up at 5:00.  Exercised and oatmealing at 6:00, we were rolling toward Pagosa Springs by 8:30.  We rode north from Santa Fe on U.S. highway 84 and 285 (Wyn!).  The ride through the mountains near Abiquiu is always mind boggling — heaven on earth!  The colors of the mountains: pinks, oranges, golds, creams, greens and more, swirl together with an unearthly glow in the early morning.  Georgia O Keefe’s iconic Pedernal mountain (click here) stands sentinel over Ghost Ranch, forever a reminder of her artistic gifts and gifted sight.  Once we reached Chama, green pastures with cattle and horses started to appear, similar to Colorado.  Altogether, the ride from Buffalo Thunder to Pagosa Springs took 3 1/2 hours.  The scenery is simply magnificent, perhaps more so today because of the morning light and coolness.  We were never hot and Cynthia even requested a stop (fortuitously at the very Continental Divide - click here) to put on her windproof jacket.  Upon arriving at the Econolodge, we learned the San Juan National Forest closed two days ago, reasons being that the forest is tinder dry, the 416 fire north of Durango has doubled in size, there is a significant danger that some inattentive hiker or camper will spark another forest fire, and no more firefighters are available anywhere.  Fortunately the Rio Grande National Forest 10 miles east is still open, so we will stay here and hike there for now.  It is tough to find restaurants to feed us in Pagosa Springs, so "Hello City Market."  We stopped at a remembered restaurant, 2 Chicks and a Hippy, for omelets and recognized our waitress from 2 years ago.  City Market provided fresh veggies and cheap strawberries.

what kind of cactus is this?
storm clouds, but no rain.  Fooey
13 Jun:  On Wednesday the early morning wind blew us quickly along the Butterfly Trail, at least in one direction.  Even at 8:00 AM, with light haze and wispy clouds, the NM sun was scorching.  The concrete Butterfly Trail/ golf cart path is tough on Ron’s knee and Cynthia’s tailbone.  We look forward to dirt trails and cooler temperatures at a higher elevation in Pagosa Springs, Colorado (elevation 7126' vs Santa Fe 7199' and Buffalo Thunder 6050').  Unfortunately, Pagosa Springs doesn’t have great restaurants.  Packing and recycling are in progress.  Mid-afternoon we will ship a box of stuff to the EconoLodge in Pagosa Springs, return the rental car, say our good byes to dear friends and return to the hotel for the five PM supper.  (We arrived at 6.)  As we rode in to Santa Fe at 3 PM, a huge gray wedge expanded from the horizon to overhead.  At times it was an ominous black, but the threatened thunderstorm never struck us.  After more eating and packing in our room, we hustled to the Butterfly trail again despite more clouds promising rain soon.  Ron buried our two weeks worth of compost while Cynthia enjoyed the rapidly changing sky.  We spotted a lovely blooming cactus that was begging to be photographed.  Night fell soon afterwards, but that rain never arrived.

12 Jun:  Ron reported that at midnight the addictive Google Doodle changed back to regular Google.  He misses that video game and all the fun of launching Gnomes.  We were smart today, despite being tired, by getting out to walk by 8AM when it was only 68 degrees.  Ron took the bike into the BMW shop to have them read the stored codes and determine why the engine light had come on Saturday.  Cylinder number five failed to fire once; no need to do anything for it unless it becomes a problem.  We rode in early to visit Linda and John.  While there John provided wire which Ron used to "repair" his favorite craft scissors.  They also provided isopropyl alcohol for him to scrub his tiny Toshiba heat sink fan.  Eventually we will see if the ancient Toshiba laptop can be made to run quieter.  Mark V. prepared another Babette’s Feast for our dinner with Judge Mechem’s grandson Tim and wife Lorraine.  Tim is Ron's Mechem cousin; Mark works with Lorraine and knows of Ron's relationship with Judge Mechem.  Mark made a large salad, steamed lots of asparagus, and grilled salmon, chicken breasts, and shrimp.  It was very delicious.  We went back for seconds.  We are happy and way too much over full.  And tired!  Zzzzzzz

a good endorsement adds credibility to a good card
11 Jun:  Oh what fun!  Oh what fun!!  Oh what fun!!!  Google Doodle is way too much fun.  You click to start the catapult that launches a Garden Gnome.  The Gnome spreads flowers as it flies through the air and bounces off clouds until it lands with a bounce and roll, accumulating points for all the flowers distributed.  Then, if you are lucky or learn about the arrow, the gnome will hit a toadstool or roll into a log.  The toadstool provides a bigger bounce, but the log launches the Gnome far, far away.  Sometimes the Gnome rolls into a field full of butterflies that pick up the Gnome and carry him into the stratosphere - more points all the way.  Ron got 1639 points once.  Cynthia took all of Ron’s clothes to the laundry room; this gives Ron and Google Doodle a half hour more play time.  Ron discovered that he had previously "finished" the GEDCOM for Sistah Carol, but he can't remember why he didn't send it.  The clothes are clean; packing is in progress. Cynthia didn't want to pack her pretty anniversary card, so she took a photo for the blog.

10 Jun, Sunday:  Santa Fe, NM is nestled between the Sangrio de Cristo Mountains on the east and the Jemez Mountains on the west.  At 7199 ft. elevation, it is cool enough for a wrap or sweater at night but blazing hot during the day.  One can be certain to find divine SouthWestern or Mexican restaurants throughout the city.  Tonight we enjoyed Radish and Rye (click here - TripAdvisor), one of the city’s finest restaurants, once again, reminiscing with friends of forty years, Charlie and Sam B., and Mark V.  Earlier in the day we visited Bob and Lupe, also friends of many years.  Lupe described Santa Fe as having one stop light in the fifties and sixties. Ron remembers that in the late 70’s, rush hour was from five minutes before five to five minutes after five if you were within three blocks of the state capitol.  Otherwise traffic was a non-issue.  Nowadays, the newest and priciest properties are generally on dirt roads outside the central city so that the historicity of old Santa Fe is preserved.  We were fortunate to enjoy the sunset as we drove home again.  We will miss our friends and Santa Fe when we leave here on Thursday.

Fascinating blooms
Fascinating husband
9 Jun:  Starting the morning hike early was an improvement over high noon heat, but we were sweating by the time we finished the hike.  Potential fire warnings are in abundance.  Ron  finished research on some early Iowa Bankstons without discovering how they connect to the immigrant Anders Bengtsson.  Cynthia completed edits required for submission on her Nancy Drew Does DNA manuscript. Nina F. treated us to a very lovely dinner at Harry’s Roadhouse.  The sunset was again a splendid sight to see as we drove home.

8 Jun: was a stellar day!  It is rare to see wildlife on our hikes.  Ok, So this isn’t big wildlife but seeing a big jackrabbit with humongous long ears (click here) was pretty exciting.  He was bigger than a large cat maybe 20 pounds with foot long ears; he just sat there twisting those ears back and forth as if eavesdropping on our discussion.  We thought he would bolt when we moved, but he did not.  Cynthia watches warily for snakes when we stop to cool off in the shade from the few trees near the trail, but we haven’t seen any snakes.  Tonight’s hike was really splendid.  Because we start at 7:30, it was cooler; we marveled at the glorious orange and crimson sunset for almost two miles.  To the east, sunset turned the Sangre De Christo Mountains into "purple mountain majesty."  The evening was not without wildlife; fat toads must have been enjoying the cooler night air, because many were hopping across the trail and lizards were everywhere.  Stewart K. beat Ron three times playing GO.  Good night!

7 Jun, Thurs: The SW is heating up considerably.  We  were exercised, oatmealed, sudokued and hiking  10:30,  but the temperature was already 82 degrees, which means we baked under the New Mexico sun.  This Homewood Suites not only serves breakfast but also a light meal at 5:00, plus we have a full kitchen in our suite, offering us a great place to call home while on the road.  Ron is nearly finished with data entry and helped Cynthia with a DNA client this afternoon.  Cynthia's article Nancy Drew Does DNA will be accepted in the National Genealogy Society Quarterly based on making a couple of changes; it takes 9-12 months to get into print.

June 6 sunset at Buffalo Thunder near Santa Fe
6 Jun:  Sleeping until 8:30 AM makes the day race by.  Ron raced through exercises; Cynthia did hers after breakfast.  This meant we were even later getting to the Trail to hike today with the temperature being even hotter than yesterday.  We didn’t take photos, although we were delighted to see new blooms.  We enjoyed our camaraderie, talking about how fun it is to be together - because we enjoy so many of the same things like playing with words, we respond to life with good humor, and we know we are blessed to discover this relationship at our ages.  Oh, yes!  We are also addicted to genealogy!  Life is good!  Michael and Clare joined us for a marvelous dinner tonight at the Red Sage; the delight continued exiting the hotel as we marveled at a spectacular Santa Fe sunset.

Life in the Desert
5 Jun, Tues: We were late again!  Our intent was to hike before noon-thirty, but we hiked in the heat anyway.  It is such a delight to find blooms in the desert.  Cynthia stood on her head to take this pretty photo.  Ron is elated over a Mechem genealogy discovery that may produce more DNA for sistah Carol.  And Stewart is open for a game or two of GO.

4 Jun:  The sun is back in the heat business, but we hoofed it to the Trail early enough we enjoyed some cool breezes.  The rain was efficacious in causing the cactus to bloom.   Dinner at John and Linda's was Babette's Feast.  Linda outdid herself.  Everything we could eat was prepared beautifully.
Blooming Cacti After Rain

3 Jun, Sunday:  Still at Buffalo Thunder, north of Santa Fe, with infrequent thunder outside and raindrops on the window.  Ron is still typing notes into the computer and nursing his sore knee.  We are looking forward to seeing nearly all of our Santa Fe friends at Radish & Rye this evening at 5 pm.  It would be nice if it didn't rain on us, but on the other hand it would be nice for everything else if it does rain.  The forecast calls for a cool evening, perhaps 60 degrees by 5pm, so I hope everyone brings a coat.  The rain arrived at 3:45 lasting until we arrived in Santa Fe at 4:30. It didn’t rain on our party.  Radish and Rye had the party set up on the covered patio complete with Navajo blankets on the seats of the chairs and as throws to keep us warm. The lively conversation was so fun we didn’t want it to end.  The harvest-to-table food and its presentation is most interesting.. Nina had a broth chowder served in a bone.  Cynthia had salmon with tiny, tiny potatoes.  imagine popcorn made with duck fat.  We had 7 no shows.  It was exciting to hear that Stewart’s blood pressure dropped by following our Pritikin eating plan (no salt).  A great time was had by all of the survivors.  Good night!

2 Jun is slightly cooler.  After the usual activities like exercising, eating and catching up on mail we walked the Butterfly "Trail."  Ron’s knee is improved but still uncomfortable.  The discomfort has transitioned from intensely painful for the first five steps to moderately uncomfortable at all times.  Cynthia received an acceptance letter for her DNA article If she makes a couple of changes.  WooHoo!  It was great fun to see and enjoy conversation with our friend Nina at Vinaigrette tonight over a 5 o'clock dinner.

Old iris are tall and richly colored
1th of June:  The Tasmanian devil cleaning crew is coming!  They force Ron to hide his recycling, compost, toiletries and anything else he wants to find again.  He piles most of it all into a corner, covered by a coat, and puts compost and un-rinsed recycling into the refrigerator.  Imagine, the cleaning crew mistakes Ron's treasures for trash.  After walking the Butterly Trail in 90 degree heat we opted to hike earlier tomorrow instead of high noon.  A handful of golfers were on the course today.  Normally we see one or two golfers out killing golfs.  We rode into Santa Fe to visit with Tony and June A. who are convalescing; Tony from a hip replacement in April, and June from several bouts of pneumonia this year.  Afterwards we enjoyed the antique Iris over an early dinner at Harry’s Roadhouse.  Because the day was so hot, we expected to be much too warm despite the ample shade, but in Harry's outdoor garden, it was surprisingly pleasant, cool and breezy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Merry May - There is Life in the Desert!

31 May:  Ron and Cynthia hiked Aspen Vista today because tomorrow morning the Forest Service will close the Santa Fe National Forest.  It is too dry here.  Last week’s rains did not bring enough moisture to make up for no snow last winter.  The highway up to the ski basin was a bit lumpier than we remembered.  Cynthia's back can be bothered by too many jolts on the motorcycle.  Clusters of yellow, purple and red blooms were delightful.  We saw several huge patches of gray trees, which are evidence of the infestation of tent caterpillars doing their dirty work, eating Aspen leaves and stripping them bare.  The walk up mountain was hot in direct sun, so we rested and watered in every larger patch of shade.  Coming down was surprisingly pleasant because the sun had dropped enough so that the trees shaded the trail/ road.  Tonight we enjoyed dinner with Mike and Maria at the Sweetwater Harvest Kitchen.  Mike said that the Forest Service found 84 illegal fires yesterday; no wonder they closed the forest.  Afterwards M&M ferried us back to their house, and we watched the brilliant yellow-orange Santa Fe sunset from their back porch, which has a magnificent view overlooking the city.  At midnight we ran out of May - but our life in the desert continues. 

30 May:  Lacking adult supervision, Ron and John B. hiked in the Santa Fe National Forest up the Windsor Trail to the fence line, then up along the fence to a good overlook.  We were able to discern several small patches of snow in a few deep crevices.  Santa Fe Baldy received a bit of snow last week when the rains came.  Ron knee performed fine on the uphill but complained when asked to go downhill as fast as John, so Ron slowed down.  The knee is tender. 

These pink Roses have opened wonderfully well
Ron is happy to see his bride at Vinaigrette

29 May:  We sure have fun.  Cynthia was delighted to discover fleurs greeting her return from breakfast.  This will be a quiet day of walking and computer stuffs.  Our walks are inspiring, filled with wonder by colorful, unique flowers blooming in the desert.  Lovely yellow jasmine lining the walk to the chapel have an intoxicating aroma.  We don't see much wildlife; a lizard will race across the trail or there will be an occasional rabbit.  After lunch Ron rode to Janie's to assist with a broken water pipe.  Cynthia continued with a quiet day to heal a stuffy head.  People ask us where we live; they can't quite believe we really travel all of the time.  Now we have an answer to give them: it must be genetic.  This morning's Wall Street Journal had a most interesting article about the Wanderlust Gene; those of us who might have this unique gene are described as living every moment to the fullest; born wanderers are curious and open to mysteries, they are confident. That sounds like the twos of us except Cynthia doesn't quite fit the ones that turn off electronics.  The unique Wanderlust Gene is called: DRD-7R​.  Ron stopped still last night when he noticed a coyote crossing the trail behind him.  He stood still and watched the curious coyote walk away, then turn and stare for a bit, then approach somewhat closer, turn again and walk away, stop again, turn and watch Ron ever so closely before he finally returned the way he originally came.  By the time we went to bed, Ron's knee had become quite painful for the first several steps of walking.  This is quite the puzzle because he cannot remember doing anything to aggravate it.
28 May, Memorial Day:  Blessings on those who mourn and grieve the loss of all loved ones.  We especially remember our military with great thanksgiving.  Ron is still plotting properties for the James Lea book.  Cynthia is suffering from a bahd head cohd.  We walked the Butterfly Trail before lunch, and Ron rode off alone to visit Bob and Lupe mid afternoon.  Janie invited him to her Memorial Day party to talk motorcycles with Sean and to meet her friend Paul.  Cynthia stayed home believing that her miserable cold is quite likely actively contagious.  Ron returned at dark bearing blueberries as instructed.

27 May, Sunday Offering: 
Lord, your commandments are our best friends given to protect us from evil and suffering. Teach us to love them and respect them as a treasure. Teach us to listen to your law with our hearts! 
The Fifth Commandment: You shall not murder.
What does this mean? We should fear and love God that we may not hurt nor harm our neighbor in his body, but help and befriend him in every bodily need. (Luther’s Small Catechism)

We had a lovely lunch with John and Linda at Harry's Roadhouse. The chopped veggie salad with salmon was delicious.  Ron intended to stop plotting properties for the James Lea book but failed and continued plotting til late.

26 May: Homewood Suites, Buffalo Thunder near Santa Fe:  We walked our basic 10,000 steps under cloudy skies before 11:00 AM by walking on the "Butterfly Trail."  Soon after we sank into decadent laziness.  The leftover salads from Whole Foods made a perfect lunch.  Late in the day a little of our energy returned, and we managed to complete another round of the Butterfly Trail giving us a whopping 19,500 steps today! (7.75 miles)  WOOO HOOOO!  There are a couple of places on the trail, with blossoms or new growth, where there is a marvelous fragrance.  The desert flowers are blooming after the preceding 2 days of rain.  Many of the blooms appear for a day or two then disappear.  Ron has completed phone invitations to our June 3rd dinner party at Radish and Rye Restaurant.  Almost everyone will attend.  Good night!

25 May is a stellar day.  WOW!  At 10:00 AM Cynthia's manuscript, "Nancy Drew Does DNA" was submitted to the NGS Quarterly Journal.   It may be months before we know if it will be accepted for print.  Cynthia is eternally grateful to editor-in-chief (Ron) for analyzing every dot and tittle of the documentation.  She is very, very thankful sermons don’t need documentation.  Our morning hike was most pleasant.  Fearful that the cleaning staff might discard his precious recycling collection while we were out walking, Ron hid all the recycling, etc. in the refrigerator.  He then spent the afternoon with Janie before rejoining Cynthia at Vinaigrette for a lovely dinner with Clare and Michael G.  

24 May:  How can two retired people be so crazy busy?  "Retired and busier than ever" is a frequent litany from friends.  Our daily routine of exercise, oatmeal, and computer stuffs was followed by the usual 2.5 mile walk on the Butterfly Trail.  After lunch, we mailed cards at the Tesuque Post Office. The postal clerk was very amused when Ron showed her a post card of Javelinas.  She shared an enjoyable early memory of seeing a momma Javelina with her cute little babies, and we told her to be thankful that she didn’t smell them.  (Javelinas have a terrible odor.)  The BMW motorcycle shop phoned about 4:00, during our afternoon visit with John and Linda, so we zoomed off to retrieve our motorcycle.  Afterwards, we avoided rush hour by dining at the nearby Ranch House Restaurant.  Ron rode his motorcycle to Walmart to shop while Cynthia waited patiently in her car outside the restaurant.  Ron led the way back to Buffalo Thunder, and Cynthia followed in the rental car. Cynthia’s terror level dropped to near normal terror as we drew closer to the hotel.  The rental car is a very large SUV and is consequently uncomfortable for Cynthia to drive.  Thankfully the hotel kitchen had not yet cleaned off the salad bar, so we enjoyed a second meal. 

23 May:  Uh oh! We forgot to remember to blog for two days.  Santa Fe BMW  phoned with a report on the motorcycle repair that includes two new tires, plus a couple of parts that will have new warranties. The bike may be ready tomorrow afternoon.  Cynthia continued girlicuring at the Hilton Spa next door while Ron is deeply engrossed in Sudokus, writing letters and eating microwave air popped corn.  Cynthia learned about a new trail not far from here: Rio de Media that runs up  7 miles to a waterfall. We know we can hike 7 miles up, but we might have to roll back down again.  We walked the Butterfly Trail late afternoon, followed by eating more rabbit food at the Homewood Suites Happy Hour buffet. Ron was delighted to see a marvelous sunset on this evening's walk.  

22 May:  Cynthia"s girlicure at B Beautiful Salon ran over time because someone wrote her appointment down for June 22 by mistake; but never mind, they made time for her.  She walked to Vinaigrette to meet Ron, Maria Tortilla and Mike for a marvelous lunch until it turned very chilly.  The car was parked at Whole Foods which allowed us to stop in and eat more salad.  We had a couple of hours before dinner at Mark's house, and the rains came again, so we purchased a Culture Pass to tour ten museums beginning with the International Folk Art Museum.  Dinner at Mark's was Babette's Feast without oil, butter, cheese, salt or sugar.  YUM!  

21 May:  Rain fell on Santa Fe for the first time since last October.  Our activity level has flatlined.  We slept late, ate late, exercised late, and napped again.  Our Texan friends were unable to join us for dinner because a low tire alert popped up on their dashboard.  Ron cleaned up for nothing!  This is the second time in a year he has had to cleanup.  Once the rain ceased it was a good time to walk and and talk to Donna G. most of the time. Greg is still in  cardiac rehab but cooperating. Will our energy return tomorrow?  This fatigue is unusual.

20 May, Sunday: We are still too much over tired.  Ron took his turn being lethargic and returned to bed for a nap after breakfast.  Charlie B. invited us to his brother's home for a family get together about 2:00 PM.  Mark V and his friend from Bogota, Columbia stopped to welcome us to Santa Fe.  We left at 5:00 to take Janie S. to dinner at Harry's Roadhouse, and we enjoyed ourselves so immensely it was 9:00 by the time we took her home.  We included a stop at a nearby Walmart to fill up on frozen berries and popcorn. 

19 May, Buffalo Thunder:  We awoke successfully again, better rested this morning, breakfasted on oatmeal as usual, and then Cynthia faded towards lethargy as Ron made phone calls about the bike and service.  Darryl at Bob's BMW said that David Grunberger is "the best" Master Tech for working on motorcycles and that he trusts him with all of his collection of motorcycles.  I called Santa Fe BMW and told them to go ahead with the service.  It is perplexing that ALL of our friends in Santa Fe are busy or out of town just now.  Charlie in Albuquerque said his family is having a get together tomorrow in Santa Fe and invited us.  John and Susan, the angels who picked up off the side of that dusty dirt road, will join us for dinner tonight at the Red Sage here.  To try to jump start Cynthia out of lethargy, we walked the hallways here at Homewood Suites and then over to the casino where their hallways led us to the Spa.  Cynthia scheduled a manicure & pedicure.  Then we asked about a walking path and were told that the Butterfly trail is now a walking trail.  Apparently that golf course had soil issues so it is now a walking path.  We walked a pleasant mile before returning to the hotel for hats and sun block. After a marvelous dinner with John and Susan, we walked the entirety of Butterly Trail. Cynthia reports 7 miles for. her daily total.

18 May:  We are near Santa Fe, New Mexico for the next nearly month to visit our many friends in the area, although today most of them are elsewhere.  We stay at the Hilton Homewood Suites on the grounds of the Buffalo Thunder Casino in Pojoaque.  The bright sunshine of the early morning felt like an assault to Ron since his body demanded much more rest.  Apparently our BIG Adventure has been more wearing than he realized.  After breakfast he laid down for a rest before washing his official "Ride Like Ron" riding gear and hanging it to dry.  Next stop was the Pojoaque Supermarket, so now we have plenty of groceries to keep us going, and we are ready to go visit Stewart and Judy.  Stewart and Judy were interested as Ron proselytized about the Pritikin Longevity Center and the benefits of daily exercise and morning stretches.  Good friends are amazingly tolerant.  After our visit, we stopped for salad and groceries at Albertson', and arrived home just in time for Robert and Laura to deliver their homemade green Chile stew!  MMMM!  Ron then called the BMW shop to inquire about the bike and was told that they filled the radiator and the bike runs a little warm but seems fine.  The next step would be to remove the radiator and inspect it for damage, but since that is part of the 36,000 mile service they asked if I wanted them to do that service.  I said no because I prefer to patronize shops that I have learned to trust for good work like their competitor, OCD Motorcycles, and Bob's BMW in Jessup, Maryland.  Sam laughed and said that their tech David used to work at Bob's and that they could get the service done by mid-week.  I told them I'd think it over and give them an answer in the morning.  "Early" to bed for us tonight.

Roberts Towing picking up Ron to go pick up bike
17 May:  Tonight Ron is worn out and too tired to blog satisfactorily, so you will have to wait for tomorrow for the thousands of details he likes to write.  Suffice it to say that BMW Roadside Assistance found that Roberts Towing in Espanola was willing to drive ALL those miles to pick up his bike stranded at mile marker 21 in the dirt on NM 126.  Robert and Laura picked Ron up from Buffalo Thunder and entertained him with very compatible conversation all 70 miles to the bike and similar distance to the Santa Fe BMW dealer.  The bike was intact (and very dirty).  Winching onto the tow truck went without difficulty, and the bike stayed very stationary through all the bumps and jostles on the return trip.  It is actually a good thing that we broke down where we did because the next five miles of the road had several sections much worse than the one that almost threw us.  That retrieval took from 10:30 am to 4pm, and we liked Robert and Laura so well that we invited them to dinner.  Laura liked us so well that she offered to bring Ron green chili stew tomorrow night at 4:30.  Ron is excited about the green chili stew but tired and ready for bed.  Goodnight.  Cynthia told me that she has been terrified ever since the first fishtail and was too petrified to speak up while we were on the dirt.  Ron accuses her of harboring terrification since he was terrified only for the brief instant when the ground was approaching rapidly as the fishtail leaned us downwards.  Thank God that his reflexive behavior was the right one.

16 May:  The Smooch Family had an Adventure with a capital A.  We did everything right, starting with morning exercises and oatmeal before driving out of Gallup, NM to ride through more of the Navajo Nation on Indian Road 9, enjoying spectacular views.  We passed by a dirt road leading to the mystical, spiritual Chaco Canyon, but with this bike, the dirt road wouldn’t work.  Indian Road 9 turns into New Mexico 157 and we arrived at a restaurant in Cuba, NM without difficulty, although the only gas station on the entire route was in Castlerock.  During lunch Ron asked the waitress about the condition of NM highway 126, and she confirmed his years-ago impression that it was well maintained for the five mile section of dirt/ gravel, so it was a huge shock when we ran into deep loose dirt and fishtailed madly.  By madly fishtailing, I mean the we almost dumped the bike and us right there.  Ron's big mistake was in not turning around immediately, and after another couple of miles and two more disturbing fishtails, he noticed that the engine was hot and the warning lights on the instrument panel said the temperature was a violent max red.  Not good, so we stopped at the first nearly level wide spot in the road and considered our predicament.  Not good, being in the middle of nowhere on a infrequently traveled dirt road.  Then a lovely couple in a small car responded to our signaling to stop and offered us a ride to civilization.  We crammed all our luggage and our bodies into their car, parked the bike off the road and thanked them mightily ... all the way to Buffalo Thunder.  We saw next to no traffic on the dirt portion of 126.  We were shocked that Buffalo Thunder had no rooms for tonight, but they did extend our previous booking for the additional days we expect to be in the area in order to get the motorcycle's 36,000 mile service done.  BMW Roadside Assistance said we are still covered and will provide a transport to pick Ron up in the morning to retrieve the motorcycle from NM 126.  Cynthia vows to NEVER again ride on dirt.  I don't blame her in the least.  That was a scary day, but all is well.  We both survived physically intact.

15 May, Tuesday, 10:00 AM:  Lets roll!  We plan to make it across the reservation to Gallup, NM before dark, and we have "miles to go before we sleep."  Our route was 89 E out of Sedona (elevation 4350’) to 89 N winding through gorgeous Oak Creek Canyon ( and climbing to Flagstaff, AZ (elevation 7000’).  Traffic was light, but there were always cars ahead until suddenly, miraculously, there were no cars slowing us down as we climbed the serpentine twisties (several marked 15 mph) up to the mesa top.  The temperature cooled off nicely at that elevation.  About 12 miles E of Flagstaff, we left I-40 to ride through Indian lands the rest of our 220-mile day.  Leupp Road turns into Indian Route 15, and we stayed on that most of the day.  For the most part it had a good asphalt and next to no traffic.  We were already at a high elevation, yet the flat, barren landscape was not exciting until we realized that we were looking at old volcanos, some so old that nothing was left except for the craggy cores.  Surprisingly, luckily, gas stations were spaced about an hour apart, crucial for Ron considering all the fruit that he ate for breakfast so that it wouldn't go to waste (versus waist).  Just after our first pit stop at the Leupp Shell gas station (!), we crossed the Little Colorado River which had not even a trickle of water in the stream bed.  Strange to think that we saw it only a month ago at Greer, flowing nicely near its source.  After about 70 miles into our ride, the landscape changed to display extremely colorful mountains and buttes with splotches and horizontal strips of vivid red, pink or white.  We were spellbound; we've never seen mountains anything like this before.  We thoroughly enjoyed our day riding through the Navajo Nation.  Strange to hear contemporary music or oldies playing at every gas station or grocery when we stopped.  The highways through Indian lands are not on highway maps because they are not part of the US Highway system.  They are Indian Roads.  We had never heard of these roads until Ron looked for a route using Bing, then examined them for road surface with Google Earth and even Google Streetview.  This was an awesome day of scenery on good roads, although there was one lumpety-lumpety lump section of asphalt for about 15 miles west of Burnside before we again found major highways US 191 and AZ 264.  We arrived in Gallup, NM at 6:30 PM, thankful to check in just ahead of a entire bus load of tourists, and quickly hoofed it to Denny’s Restaurant for wild Alaskan salmon and vegetables.  Ouch, 11:44 now.  G'night.
PS, for Wyn and anyone else interesting in seeing our route, we went through Leupp, Dilkon, Indian Wells, Greasewood, Burnside, and Ganado before hitting US 491 at Yah Ta-Hey in New Mexico.

I4 May, Monday:  While celebrating “us together forever” we are packing for departure to Santa Fe tomorrow.  Ron slaved the day away, recycling, packing bags and a box he shipped to Santa Fe, but by 8:30 he went for a walk to get some exercise.   Good night!

13 May, Sunday:  Happy Mother's Day !!!  What a happy weekend.  After church and breakfast at Red's, Cynthia packed in preparation for our Tuesday departure, napped and relaxed.  Ron slaved away updating the verbiage on this blog.  We enjoyed our late afternoon hike because of cooler, less windy weather.  Because it seemed cool and windy, we left our hats and suffered from blinding sunlight for the first half of the hike.  The cacti blooms still excite our interest and wonder.  Now it is bedtime and Ron has spent the entire day updating this blog back into early April.  It is amazing that the photos from April 1 seem like a distant past.  Speaking of distant past, Cynthia and I have been married forever - since 12 May 2011, and we are still enjoying our married life as much as on day one.

our wedding invitation

I still do
Yes Dear

12 May 2011 2018__.12 May:  Hooray Hooray for the 12th of May!  It’s Ron’s 71st birthday (terrific) and our 7th wedding anniversary (more terrificker).  Several friends called Ron to wish him Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary.  Sistah Carol & nephew Eric called separately and sang.  Granddaughter Fyn turned 4, niece Robin turned +1, and granddaughter Kiira graduated with her MA degree in counseling.  Ron reassembled the Toshiba laptop after replacing the "new" fan that is defective with the old fan that worked much, much better.  Thereafter he spent the afternoon entering receipts prior to recycling them.  We started a bit late and enjoyed a pleasant hike through Chimney Rock Pass with a dicy little detour along Lizards Head Trail for a quarter mile of pushing our limits.

11 May:  The weather cooled, but the wind picked up.  Ron was elated after yesterday’s hike.  Ever since his heart procedures people have asked him if he feels better now with improved circulation and a pacemaker, and the answer has been a definite no, "I do NOT feel as good as I did the day before the atrial fibrillation changed my life."  His complaint was shortness of breath, and it seemed likely to him that the Brilinta prescribed to keep his stents open was causing it.  This year his doctors agreed that the Brilinta was no longer necessary, and Ron is now elated to report that his shortness of breath appears to be gone.  On the other hand, for the first time in two years, his legs are very sore this morning.  We remain enamored with the desert plants in bloom.  Today for the first time, many prickly pear cacti are flowering, and they are covered with buds.

Fooey, the prickly pear photo disappeared ... and they have such cute little blossoms.  I cannot imagine where it went or why Ctrl-Z did not restore it.

Fascinating FAT Century Plant

Ron with new best friend,
a century plant
This century plant is a fat one, probably 6" in diameter.  It is only as tall as Ron in the previous picture.  It is obviously growing faster, shooting up, and maybe twice as tall.  (Good thing Ron isn't twice as tall.)

On our afternoon hike to the summit of Sugar Loaf Mountain, in one particular spot, Ron ushered Cynthia so that she wouldn't see the cute little snake with a diamondback pattern but without the adder shaped head.  Whew! That narrowly averted a terrifying scream.  We did hear, and then we saw a HUGE javelina through the bushes.  Thank goodness we didn't smell it.  The wind was fierce, especially on the summit, and the air was hazy from the fire burning south of us in Prescott Valley.

Lovely bouquet from Cynthia's children
10 May:  The internist reported that Cynthia’s MRI ruled out a tumor.  Cynthia has peace like a river, but the river has rapids.  Lookie the Gorgeous Mother’s Day Fleurs from kids and kidlets!  Today was hot and windy.  Cynthia wasn't up to a hike, so Ron was able to hike without adult supervision.  He started at 5:30 and hiked along industriously non-stop until he summited Little Sugar Loaf Mountain.  That trail is steep with lots of loose dirt, but uphill wasn't a problem.  It was WINDY up there, and the footing coming down was a bit unsettling, but Ron is reassured that he didn't fall even onct.  This two-mile loop climbs again through Chimney Rock Pass, and during the descent from the pass towards the stupa, Ron realized that he felt terrific and that he was once again capable of hiking long and fast without becoming intolerably short of breath.

9 May:  The Smooch family is back on track blogging after the breakfast walk huffing and puffing home, uphill in the desert heat.  Ron is editing Cynthia’s article in between Sudokus.  At 5 PM we hiked about half way to Sugar Loaf Mountain.  Ron was delighted to see the FAT Century Plant taller than he is in just three days.  The recent rains brought buds and blossoms on plants and cacti!

8 May: We are having so much fun we forgot to blog.  It has become Too-Much-Over-Hot.  Walking home from Cafe Jose at 12:30 was a beast. Hiking was delayed until 6:00 PM, but we met so many interesting hikers to visit, we turned back halfway around Little Chimney Rock Trail as the sun set.  There is much more to do, but Ron has finally caught up with demands from patrons of the Swedish Colonial Society, so he is free to spend the entire evening for editing Cynthia’s article, Nancy Drew Does DNA.

7 May:  God WAS willing, we woke up!  And we had a lovely, pleasant ride to Verde Medical Center in Cottonwood, AZ for Cynthia's MRI at 10:15.  To reduce her anxiety about being enclosed, the internist gave her a low dosage valium.  Pastor Gwen, the pastor's wife, recommended praying for others and meditating to reduce anxiety.  It worked.  Good idea.  We will know nothing until we receive a report, within a week.  We presume this is a benign tumor that will be watched annually to see if it is growing.  The technician told Ron, “Your wife has a BIG brain in there!  Be careful.”  Afterwards we shopped at Walmart and rode back to Sedona, where Ron dropped Cynthia off at Cafe Jose for food before dropping the frozen foods in the refrigerator and walking back to join Cynthia.  We then got in half of the daily breakfast walk uphill.  (We would hate to miss that uphill exercise.  HA.)  We had a very pleasant evening hike by waiting until 5 and hiking on the Thunder Mountain Trail (mostly in the shade).

6 May, Sunday:  Worship at Christ Sedona is always joyful and lively.  The pastor's sermon about extravagant love included an exceptional true story about Tony Campolo who traveled from PA to Honolulu waking up at 3 AM wanting breakfast.  In Hawaii, there is no place much open for breakfast at 3AM.  He discovered a hole in the wall greasy spoon that soon filled with a group of regular customers, prostitutes.  One of them announced that the next day was her birthday, to the scorn of the others.  After they left, Tony talked the owner into having a party and a birthday cake for her the next night at 3:00 AM.  Tony bought decorations, and the owner made a birthday cake. Word got out on the streets and other prostitutes showed up to surprise her and sing happy birthday.  Agnes, the birthday girl, was overcome.  The pastor prayed, and one of the prostitutes realized he was a pastor.  "What kind of church would do this?", she said, "If I could find a church like this one, I would join."  We all want to be part of that kind of church with extravagant love!  It is certainly an inspirational story, and one for Christians to ponder.  The handbell choir was marvelous and so was the quartet singing an old gospel song, "Standing on the Promises of God."  Christ Sedona may be our favorite place to worship. They receive so many visitors that the guests are welcomed to stand up and tell their home congregations.  Most of all, we appreciate singing the Lord's Prayer holding hands even across the aisles. Breakfast at Sedona Red's was most enjoyable meeting Gerry and his lovely wife Nance. The best part was listening to another motorcyclist describing the kind of life we live and getting it!  Gerry is a marvelous story teller; he wrote about about his life, "Navigating My Life." Nance called it a  hoot.  Cynthia agreed after reading a preview on Amazon, Nance is right.

New fleurs for Cynthia
5 May:  It was great fun to meet our new friend, Konstanz, at 9:30 for a 30 minute walk to Sedona Red's.  We arrived by 10:00, they close the breakfast grill at 10:30.  After a delightful visit with Konstanz, Cynthia is happily smelling pink roses from Ron.  The forecast was for more heat, and Sedona turned into a fiery furnace by 4:00 when we started  hiking to see if the Century Plants grew overnight.  No. They did not.  Cynthia certainly droops in the heat.  She prefers chilly temperatures for hiking and sleeping.  At all other times heat is good.  By 7 PM, it cooled off, just about the time we arrived home.

Erika Proud
4 May: Our niece Erika graduates from Edwardsville, IL high school, with two scholarships for academics and color guard.  To top it off she is the cover girl for her high school yearbook!  We are Erika proud and so is her grandmother, Ron’s sister Carol.

We hiked the same trail as yesterday to check out the Century plants and blooming cacti.  They are amazing. We were delighted to see two hikers we met yesterday; we thoroughly enjoyed a conversation with a most congenial fellow from Los Angeles who lives here part time.  Bob is a very youthful and fit 78.   His advice is to keep hiking.

3 May: What a day!  The temperature of 63 degrees was perfect for an awesome hike to the summit of Sugar Loaf Mountain.  We finally summited something! Two little boys (maybe ages 4 and 5)with their parents were running and bouncing all over at the top.  Cynthia told the mom she was very brave, thinking she was crazy to not have them on a leash.  But, we were very proud of our climb.  And we were delighted to see abundant life in the desert.  Several Century plants surprised us with their size.  A hedgehog  cactus with several red flowers looked like it was ready for Christmas. A gray rabbit with very large eyes looked at us as he ran across the trail, and a bluebird darted from bush to bush.

Million Dollar Smile
Marvelous Century Plant

View to the North of Sugar Loaf Mountain
View South of Sugar Loaf Mountain
2 May:  A Winter advisory warning is out for today; blue on color radar means snow in the mountains.  A 70% chance of WET forecast means a lazy day for us.  We finished being lazy by nine AM and boogied down to Cafe Jose to catch a forecasted break in the rain.   It seemed like the perfect morning to treat ourselves to a sweet potato pancake with egg white vegetable omelets. And we made it home just as the rain came. In a day or two there will be life in the desert!  Sedona and surrounding areas will see blossoms everywhere.  The cacti will bloom profusely after rain.  Late afternoon we walked to the park to see if snow fell on the ridge.  Apparently it did not snow.  Two girls bundled up for a winter storm said it was snowing in Flagstaff.  This is our first May in Sedona to experience unseasonably cold weather or rain.  We had fun.  Thanks be to God!

1 May Basket Day: A much loved custom of delivering May baskets to friends and neighbors doors is gone;  sometimes May baskets were filled with flowers or they were hand made of construction paper decorated with doilies and filled with popcorn and candy.  Friends who grew up in the fifties and sixties shared fun memories of May Basket Day on Facebook.  Ron and Cynthia slept deliciously late.  By noon we were home from the round trip  (2.33 miles) to Cafe Jose for breakfast, dressed warmly because it was chilly.  The weather cooled down from 64 to 55 degrees when we started our afternoon hike; we were determined to hike to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.  And such fun we had en route visiting with a delightful young hiker named Mallory what was returning from an adventurous 20 mile hike that included two overnights.  She recently graduated with a MA in environmental science; we agreed she was very brave to hike and camp out solo ... not because of danger from other hikers but there are wild animals.  Footing can be dicey, if one falls or gets a concussion, there is no one to help.  So we agree Mallory is brave.  Ron had fun telling her about Pritikin until the raindrops began falling.  We next encountered an older male hiker; his age is a guess, judgement. based on how young we think we are.  He hikes six days a week, having done ten miles today on an unmarked trail with very little gear.  The rain began in earnest, and we hustled home.