Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter on April Fool Day! He is risen, no foolin'!

26 Apr:  Caliente!  It is burning hot in Sedona, AZ.  And New York Is having the coldest April in decades.  Cooler temperatures are forecast.  We did the usual stuff being creatures of  habit,  but today, because of the heat, we rode the bike to the doctors office and market instead of walking.  Late afternoon,  we waited  to hike until the temperature to cool down to 83 degrees at 6:00 PM, and we were surprised it felt so pleasant.   The people at the shupa and on the trails are interesting to watch,  folks in the daytime are mostly tourists, many are Asians.  A few appear to be focused about walking around the stupa or meditating. There aren’t many hikers, but  there is an occasional runner, most are very congenial and interested in a brief visit.  We have met interesting couples, computer geeks that are interested in visiting with Ron. One unique Asian woman appears nightly, barefoot, with two large bundles over her back and shoulders.  A multi-layered shapeless dress  reaches almost to her ankles.   She smiles shyly and says hello.  Ron asked her if she slept here. She said, “No, not here, meaning at the stupa.”  She makes her way upwards to sleep on the mountain.   The sunset was marvelous on Chimney Rock Trail.  Another  successful day with missions accomplished and healthy bodies, too.  NO pain! 

25 Apr:  Sedona, Arizona, 2730 Bow Drive, adjacent to the Amitagha Stupa and all those magnificent red rocks that move Cynthia's artistic spirit.  Awake, exercised, oatmealed, and ready to walk in to Jose's for breakfast.  I love you Cynthia.  Smooch.  The best thing about abrogating adulthood and re-entering childhood is we don’t have to do no more adulting.  No More Adulting, how sweet the sound.  On the way home from breakfast at Jose’s (uphill) we noticed Spring.  The trees are putting forth, the cactus are blooming, the Sweeties are huffing and puffing.   

24 Apr:  And here we are, running out of month once again.  We must be sleeping it away.  Since Ron wanted to finish the Rambo genealogy package for sistah Carol, he carried the Mac to breakfast and on to Cynthia's doctor appointment, and home again; it got heavy by the time we reached Bow Drive.  Sudokus would have been so much easier to carry.  It is hot walking today in Sedona at 80+ degrees!  The waitress took a photo of the sweet potato pancake mix; it contains processed flour, salt, oil and eggs.  Poor Cynthia LOVED those pancakes, now verboten.  Ron put the lentils on to cook and forgot that the instructions said simmer for 20 minutes; they still look and taste OK after 4 hours.  After the genealogy package was dispatched to sistah Carol, we took a brief nap before walking, starting at 5:30 after the day had cooled significantly.  The highlight today was the small hedgehog cactus with three brilliant red-purple flowers (click here).  Tomorrow and Thursday are also forecast for warm.

23 Apr:  We are so enjoying our deep, restful sleep after hiking 5-7 miles a day.  This morning we awoke at 9:00 and forgot that Sedona Reds breakfast grill shuts down at 10:30.  So we missed seeing Claudia, walked instead to Cafe Jose, where they serve breakfast all day, and enjoyed sweet potato pancakes made without oil or butter.  At 5 we did take the Thunder Mountain Trail, but not to the summit.  Now we are tired again~.  Peculiar that Thunder Mountain Trail does not go anywhere near the summit; it just meanders along the very lowest threshold of the mountain.  Nonetheless, the footing is a little scary for Cynthia as we begin our hiking for the year.  After we returned to our house on Bow Drive, Ron decided to quickly walk to Basha's for popcorn and oats and to sleep well.  This walking in the evening is working like a charm to improve his sleep.

We didn't take the summit trail

Thunder Mountain Trail
22 Apr, Sunday:  The house we are renting in Sedona has a name: Tranquility.  There is a sculpture of one of the many Hindu gods in the back yard.  A block away are hiking trails that lead past a very large Buddhist stupa where people come to meditate or worship.  The large conical structure represents Buddha’s body.  A bit further along the trail is a large Native American medicine wheel with the invitation to walk around it clockwise three times.  Sedona is a new age center popular for its spiritual vortex (aka fields of energy).  We walk quietly and reverently past the eclectic groups of people who are mindfully devoted to their religious beliefs.  We are  eclectic, too, riding a motorcycle on Sundays to worship at Christ Lutheran Sedona where we join friends worshipping the Almighty God who created the earth, the magnificent red rocks of Sedona, and all of us; we had a great celebration of Earth Day.  After breakfast at Red’s and computering, we waited for the temperature to cool off before hiking.  Ron was in charge of our route, and being the techie that he is, he figured out that the Lower Chimney Rock Trail might be in the shade.  By the time we covered 3/4 of the trip, the Trail split allowing us to hike further by taking the upper Chimney Rock Trail over Chimney Rock Pass again (click here).  We met a charming young couple from Bettendorf, Iowa, and another delightful couple from Sedona preparing to travel like we do.  We meet the most interesting folks and have fun,  too. 

Buddhist Sculpture
21 Apr:  Although Jose's has been making fine omelets for us, Claudia, our favorite waitress, works weekends at Sedona Red's, so that was today's breakfast stop.  We enjoyed a chat with Melanie, a delightful native of Sedona for the last 20 years.  Ron made a mistake on today's challenging Sudoku, so, being the perfectionist, he started over while Cynthia ran to Walgreen's to pick up a RX.  And we were way too overheated lugging groceries from Safeway up the hill home.  2.32 miles roundtrip, remember?  The sun is bright, 77 degrees, its a good day for taking photos on our afternoon hike.

Granddaughter Lauren
20 Apr:  Awakening at 2 AM, crystal clear skies, stars shining above us, JOY!  Joy is getting to sleep late, too.  The temperature in Sedona at 9:00 AM is a chilly 46 degrees.  Ron turned on the fireplace to Cynthia’s delight.   We were not in a hurry to begin the 2.33 round trip walk to Cafe Jose for breakfast but hunger propelled us out into the 48-degree morning.  Cynthia napped the afternoon away while Ron computered; at 4:00 we hit the Trail only to get too warm too soon.  Cynthia remembered the trail as going one way, Ron was right, it was the other way.  Gorgeous mountain views. 6.5 miles of joy!  Granddaughter Lauren, psychotherapist, celebrates a new position as Vice President of the Fort Bend County Counseling Assn.  Lauren is one of four of our seven granddaughters who are psychotherapists.

19 Apr:  God willing we will wake up!  We certainly did, and we even hiked 7 miles including a 2.32 mile round trip to Cafe Jose for breakfast.  Mid afternoon we hiked  on  the Lower Chimney Rock Trail.  A trip into Walgreens to pick up a RX for ear drops allowed for dinner at the salad bar at Whole Foods.  We hustled over to Basha’s for popcorn and oatmeal resupply.  Does this sound fatiguing?  It is!  The box of supplies we  shipped here from Texas arrived today contains clothing for colder weather. It is chilly every morning and when the sun goes down. I am tired! Good night!

18 Apr: YUP!  Up early again for a fasting metabolic panel - and to pick up the RX before another breakfast at Sedona Red's, except our favorite waitress Claudia wasn’t working today, so we ate at Cafe Jose again.  Yesterday, the internist cleaned Cynthia's ear; removing was from from the ear drum caused the ear drum to bleed.   Now we do antibiotics in the ear!  Ron is delighted to squeeze antibiotic drops into that ear getting a big reaction.  She cannot wear that hearing aid for a few days, causing her to miss some of Ron's witticisms.  But she is thankful to have such amazing new hearing aids that work so beautifully.  And a hiking we did go, 4 mountain miles, climbing the equivalent of 39 floors, first taking the Chimney Rock Lower Trail, then the Upper Trail. The temperature was perfect. We met a nice young couple from Omaha who were on their way to the Summit.  After dinner we did our second hike of the day, reaching a days total of 6.6 miles.  Our friend Alfred wrote, “I admire your ability to focus on what’s most important in life: love, faith, family, and friends. Walking in the Garden of the Lord with a Loving partner at your side is a continuous prayer of thanksgiving.  May you and Ron continue to enjoy your adventures for many more moons.  Sylvia and I are with you in spirit, thanks to your wonderful photos and comments."

How Great Thou Art
How close we climbed to Chimney Rock
Overlooking Sedona
17 Apr: Another doctor appointment to get us out of bed at 8:45, this is way earlier than we like to arise!   It is a very chilly morning requiring heated gear to ride the bike about 2 miles to the internist.  Dr. Nick is Harvard trained with additional degrees from MD Anderson and UTMB.  But the best degree was awarded by a Norske Medical Board.  If the Norwegians ok this guy, he can be trusted.  We actually saw his colleague; the appointment took two hours; we were surprised by her  thoroughness.  We followed up with a trip to Walgreen's but the RX wasn't ready.  Hungry, we had a royal feast of egg white omelets and hash browns at Jose's Cafe before heading home to hike to Thunder Mountain in the afternoon and again in the evening.  The two hikes totaled almost 5 miles.  Good night.
Sedona's Red Rocks

Hiking Trails Behind Our House

16 Apr:  Our brains are tired.  We rode the bike to Sedona Red’s for breakfast because we didn't have time to walk; they close the breakfast grill at 10:30.  Claudia, the waitress, was delighted to see us.  The regular wait staff wasn’t there.  After lunch, Cynthia went to our favorite ER in Sedona to have her "hurted" nose checked (remember that fall last week while hiking?).  We are on file at the hospital after so many years and visits (but they don't offer "frequent flyer" discounts).  The good news is that nothing is broken.  They recommended that Cynthia also get an MRI to see if anything rattled loose.  Ron hiked alone today until he met up with Konstanz, a neighbor who is a JD and a minister of communication.  He walked to Safeway in the evening and returned with a beautiful bouquet of pink roses for the beloved weefee.

15 Apr, Sunday:  Good Sunday morning, another day of marvelous, jaw dropping views riding from Payson, Arizona to the the red rocks of Sedona.  Once we exited I-17 onto Arizona Highway 179 through the Village of Oak Creek into Sedona, traffic was slow.  The last two traffic circles were backed up from one to the other, the worst we have ever seen it here, bumper to bumper, stop and go.  The area around the Hilton in Oak Creek has grown tremendously, with many new shoppimg areas.  The 3 bedroom home we leased for a month (hoping for visitors) is quite nice, with a garage, too.  Well,  once we figured out the lock box and we were able to enter the house we could see it was nice.  The WiFi works great, too,  once we figured out which connection would take the password.  After Ron emailed more annual letters, we rode to Whole Foods and pigged out on the delicious salad bar before grocery shopping. The house is close to a Buddhist temple and park, with trails going behind the Temple area up to Thunder Mountain. At 5:30 PM we managed a 2 mile hike.  Ron walked another two miles, round trip to Safeway for popcorn.  The long walks help us sleep through the night.  The best news from the walk to Safeway was discovering Ron's shortness of breath is gone  after two months being off one of his 3 blood thinners. He ate bread going uphill, talked on the phone to Ed K. and Dr. Coral in FL with out shortness of breath.  Good night!

Roosevelt Lake

Salt River Canyon
14 Apr: Goodbye Greer, AZ at 8300’ elevation and 40 degrees. We will return.  Crossing the White Mountains at 10,000’ elevation, the views were phenomenal with snow beneath us and ahead of us.  We warmed up descending near Show Low.  Breathtaking is the only way to describe passing through the Salt River Canyon towards Globe, AZ.  We found lunch at Judy’s Cook House in Globe,  where we also shed outer laters of clothing. Touring on to Payson, we marveled at the amazing size of Lake Roosevelt out in the middle of Saguaro Cactus country.  Tomorrow we reach Sedona.
Salt River

Cozy Fireplace in Greer Lodge Room
13 Apr:  Friday!  We awoke to 29 degrees with a real feel of 19, a great day to stay indoors. The WiFi was not cooperative.  Despite the wind, Ron rode to Springerville for $10.00 worth of gas, some bananas and frozen berries.  On the return he passed close by a smallish herd of mountain goats near a cabin beside the road.  The salmon dinner  at Molly’s was divine.  When WiFi returns Cynthia will post pictures of the beautiful clouds at sunset and the cozy fireplace in our cabin.  It’s difficult imagining the 2500 people here in the summer with only 2 restaurants.

Sunset from our window
12 Apr:  Red Flag Warning of wind gusts up to 60 MPH is belied by bright sunshine and blue skies.  The omnipresent roaring wind is whipping water into waves on the ponds, tree branches are tossing  about, and even we were propelled down the hill to the restaurant.  We made it on time before the kitchen shifted from breakfast to lunch.  The potatoes and egg whites tasted a bit salty today.  Cynthia was treated to a large tablespoon of peach cobbler that she happily shared with Ron.  The walk back to our cabin was a challenge against the wind.  We delayed hiking until 2:00 PM because the wind was so horrific, but it ultimately relented so we ventured forth for a 5.6 mile trek. The 2011 fire destroyed many trees but a colony of new Aspen has sprung forth covering  hillsides.  The Little Colorado River shows evidence the Forest Service may have laid logs across to make this a fishing river. Today’s FS caters to RV "campers."  We spotted 4 mule deer.  The wind was again  horrific walking back to the cabin after dinner.  Severe Wind warnings are in place until nine PM.  Cynthia is reading, Anam Cara: Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World, by John O’Donaghue.  In Celtic/Irish understanding, Anam (soul) and Cara (friend) is that special bonding when two people share their deepest and most intimate lives.  Ron and Cynthia are together almost 24/7 and trying to spend more time together.  Ron is going for a walk every evening and sleeping much better and longer because of the walks.
Little Colorado River

Aspen growing in burned forest 
11 Apr:  Will today be better than yesterday ended?  We had a terrific hike until Cynthia kerplopped face down on  log crossing a bog.  Ron had been so proud of her agility until then.  We did not go to ER this morning because it appears not to be broken.  Icing with frozen berries is helping (eating them is better) ...  Cynthia is working on a good story to explain the purple face.  And the Mac Book Pro upgrades froze it; fortunately Ron was patient and tried everything possible with the failed system; eventually the "boot disk" choice paid off, and we are operational again.  His recommendation for MacOS High Sierra is avoid it like the plague; it is a bug-infested swamp of non-functional code.  We exercised, oatmealed, computered and walked to Rendevous for an early lunch.  Ron finished the annual letters and created PDFs to see if the printer here will work with Acrobat (it hated Microsoft Word).  Again, we walked about five miles, retracing our daily steps along the Little Colorado River paying close attention where Cynthia fell yesterday.  We could see the misstep, where she had stepped on the side of a log that crumbled, twisted, and dumped her.  Today she stepped very carefully.  Ron cut his hair, shampooed, showered and looked quite spiffy for dinner.  Hurray, the 2018 April annual letter (covering mostly 2017) is now in the sidebar (or click here).

10 Apr:  33 degrees?  Woweee!  Guess we wait to walk until afternoon.  Thursday and Friday are red flag warning days, meaning very high winds.  So far our supply of oatmeal and berries is good.  Ron cooked beans in the coffee pot producing quite a quantity of so-so results.  The WiFi is extremely slow and unpredictable; Verizon has NO service here, so our electronics usage is limited for a few days.  A great article about Son Paul and his wife Cheryl’s company:  Today we see if the Lodge can print Ron's letters (nope) and if Ron can finish his 2018 April and 2016 annual letters to post to this blog as sidebar links.(nope)  (If he succeeds, you will see the links to the left near the top.)

Little Colorado River
Ron enjoying river
9 Apr:  In Greer the temperature overnight was supposed to be near freezing, and Cynthia certainly chattered after sticking her nose outside to check the air.  Ron is struggling to get two versions of his annual letter to fit on two pages to be sent to cousins.  It is now nearly noon, so time to think about lunch at Molly Butler's since the Rendezvous is closed Monday & Tuesday this week.  We walked 5.5 miles up the Little Colorado after lunch, starting by walking back to Molly’s to retrieve Cynthia’s purse (OOps), and finishing at Molly’s for dinner.  Perhaps the same group of seven "elk" were grazing a few doors uphill from their luncheon picnic of yesterday; this time Ron observed the huge ears and watched more closely for one to "turn tail" which identified them as mule deer.  Ron walked a new pathway to the Greek Peak Lodge after dinner and returned after dark.  The stars were quite bright (Orion [click here] and the Dippers were obvious), but there are enough lights in "town" that they are not spectacular.  One of these nights we will have to find a dark spot to see the stars from our 8,300' vantage point.  Although the internet is abysmally slow here, Ron was curious about the Little Colorado (which is a tiny stream here, click here) and was rewarded to learn that it disappears from view through miles of desert and re-emerges SE of the Grand Canyon where it has cut an awesome canyon of its own (click here).

8 Apr, Sunday:  Greer, Arizona at Greer Lodge and Cabins (click here to see views).  Delicious Sleep,  another long night of great sleep, plus a sunshiny day, with hiking to do, provides energy to move.  We made breakfast oatmeal by heating water in the coffee pot.  Close to eleven AM we enjoyed a terrific egg white veggie omelet breakfast at the Rendezvous Cafe, built in 1909 (click here tripAdvisor).   The current owner, with his handlebar mustache, is quite amused at our dietary restrictions, but he remains in business because he does an awesome job of listening to his customers. A friendly neighboring diner showed us his recent video of dozens of elk he spotted on top of a nearby hill.  He also suggested we walk the 1.5 miles to the end of Main Street and follow the trail next to the Little Colorado River.  We did exactly that, but we didn’t take photos because Cynthia left her cell phone/camera behind since Verizon cell service isn’t available here.  Tomorrow we must take photos because we saw Elk!  Ron thought that the motionless grey silhouettes were statues, until one of them wiggled an ear.  And he learned Monday that they were actually mule deer rather than elk.  OOps.  (In his defense, the view from the side appeared to show the elkish rump.)  Spring is apparent in a few lovely daffodils that obviously get watered close to buildings, and in the delightful pussy willow buds on stream banks, and in the reddish or occasional golden "halo" adorning the bushes everywhere.  Grass is greener only near water; it has been dry.   Once, when returning to our room, we scared off a great blue heron (click here).  One wonders if that bird observes the "catch and release" rule.  For dinner we returned to Molly Butler Lodge (click here) where we learned that it is Arizona's oldest guest lodge and even hosted Herbert Hoover and Zane Gray.  Not a day passes without our gratitude to God for life abundant amidst the wonder of creation.  Thank God!

Our room at Greer Lodge
 (view out front window of fishing puddle is marvelous)
7 Apr:  Magdalena, New Mexico.  “Good Morning to you” ... Ron sings happily.  We survived the night, it’s a wonderful morning.  We exercised, ate oatmeal and, being nearly packed, we hoofed it to the Magdalena Cafe (click here tripAdvisor), where we were pleasantly surprised that they could indeed feed us; the omelets were excellent.  Because the weather was a bit chilly, Cynthia wore her heated gear but didn’t turn it on until the cold wind hit close to Pie Town (New Mexico's best kept secret) and the Continental Divide (7796' elevation) which we crossed at 10:52 AM.  After passing through Datil (familiar as we've eaten there before) and Quemodo, we crossed the AZ State line an hour later at exactly 10:52 !!  Arizona doesn’t change to daylight savings time, so we actually stepped back in time one hour.  We ate a light lunch in Springerville, AZ, because we weren’t certain of finding food near our lodging in Greer, AZ.  We turned south on US180 briefly into Eager, AZ and turned west again on AZ 260 until we arrived at the Greer turnoff AZ 373.  As usual Ron was confused about lodging and thought he had made a reservation at the Greer Mountain Lodge and Cabins, but that lodge sported both a For Sale sign out front and a CLOSED sign in the window.  We stopped at the Greer Lodge and Cabins a couple miles further and opted to stay for the next six days; this is a lovely property with cabins nestled around a couple of "catch and release" trout ponds.  There are two open restaurants.  One can take care of breakfast and Molly Butler Lodge serves dinner.  We walked about 2 miles up a big hill, without water, to get to a convenience store after being told it was only a mile.  It certainly wasn’t convenient, and they don't stock what we eat.  We switched roles, and Cynthia became very winded and out of breath, we assume from walking uphill at 8,300' elevation.  Ron rode back into Springerville to the Safeway for frozen berries and fruit.  (The bike wouldn't run at first; it was winded too.)  We had a fine dinner at Molly Butler Lodge (click here)   While hunting for the exact elevation of the Continental Divide on US 60, Ron found a site with lots of lovely pictures of scenery we saw today (click here).

6 Apr:  Roswell, New Mexico.  The sudoku in USA Today was more difficult this morning, so Ron spent a bit more time with the Hampton Inn continental breakfast of mostly oatmeal with a tiny bit of fruit.  We were packed and rolling by 10:30 but decided to stop again at the Cattle Baron for lunch (bird in the hand).  We exited Roswell on US 380 and enjoyed cool temperatures all day.  In Capitan we were approached by a local who enjoyed talking motorcycles, then astounded us both by asking first how old I was (70) and then saying that I was a youngster compared to his 91 years - and he is still riding.  He sold his two Harleys because they were just too heavy and bought a Yamaha 650 (still plenty fast for us oldsters).  Again the ride was uneventful (Thank God) and those flat New Mexico miles just rolled by effortlessly at a comfortable, unhurried 63 mph.  The bike just purrs along smoothly.  Seeing no appealing restaurants in San Antonio, we went north briefly on I-25 to Socorro.  Uncertain that we would find dinner in Magdalena tonight, we ate salads in Socorro and arrived a half an hour later at the High Country Lodge in Magdalena (click here), easy to find on US Highway 60, first street in Magdalena, home for tonight for a mere $48, a Queen bed in a 30’s-style motel.  Ron was impressed because it advertised being non profit, run by volunteers to give area residents work.  The room is satisfactorily clean but tiny with New Mexico impoverished back country decor, and the town looks similarly impoverished but comfortably safe.  Grandson Brett said to be sure to lock the doors.

5 Apr:  We woke up!  That’s always a good thang (West Texas!)  We depart (as in leave Big Springs, TX) for Roswell, NM, oops, but since it was 11AM, we decided to stop at the TA for a luncheon salad.  Uneventful ... that's a good way to describe our ride northwest on US 87 until Los Ybanez where we turned west on US 180 to Seminole (I thought those were in Florida), NW again on TX 214 to Plains, Texas, aptly named, and US 82 briefly then US 380 for the rest of the day and beyond.  It was windy part of the time when the wind was hitting us from the west, but less windy than previous days.  As the temperature climbed, we removed outer gear.  The vast fields of farm land covered hundreds, or maybe thousands, of acres of the West Texas plains; the most interesting was the crop of oil wells growing yards apart over the hundreds of miles.  Must be a good cash crop!  Ron saw an antelope soon after we crossed into New Mexico.  That encouraged us to scan the scenery faithfully for days.  Oil wells thinned rapidly in NM, and arable land seemed non existent.  About thirty miles east of Roswell we could see the faint shape of a mountain in the distance.  The land was flat, flat, flat until the thirty foot grade down hill into Roswell.  The Hampton Inn had a good price.  And the Cattle Baron restaurant (click here) served a very delicious grilled salmon with a baked sweet potato and an all-you-can-eat salad bar.  The bike is riding good.  Ron went to sleep by 7:30 PM. but awoke an hour later.

4 Apr:  We did awaken in Brownwood, Texas, thank God.  We are exercised, fed, and nearly packed.  Last task for Ron was to check the route: we stay on US 84/67 west until TX 158, and that will take us into Midland.  Temperature this morning was 39 degrees; HOW did that happen?  Cynthia wants her heated gear; our luggage is getting easier to pack.  It was a stellar day.  The sun was shining, the wind was windy, but the views of West Texas were marvelous.  Increasingly, the aridity was pronounced, like an old John Wayne movie.  A vast field of bluebonnets was a head turner.  As we turned onto TX 158, the temperature suddenly dropped significantly and that was a chilly ride, not quite cold enough to dig out more warm clothing, since Cynthia was almost warm in her heated gear, but still plenty chilly.  TX 158 hosted the most mind boggling scene: hundreds of miles of wind farms generating electricity from that chilly West Texas wind.  Those fields stretched most of the entirety of our travel westward on TX 158 from Sterling City to Big Springs, Texas.  The first windmill was gimormous and close beside the road, but once we crested that hill, the windmills spread out all over the landscape, and as we continued westward, more and more windmills kept crowding the horizon.  At a lunch break we discovered that hotels in Midland, Texas were sold out, so we switched to US Highway 87 N into Big Spring, Texas.  The Best Western there was a pricy $189.  Cynthia asked the clerk why all the hotels were sold out and the prices were so outrageous.  She replied in  her very heavy Texas drawl, “it’s the ol fiuhhld wahrkuhs.”  Her recommendation that the TA had a terrific salad bar was an excellent one.  TA used to be Truckstops of America and is now TravelCenters of America.

3 Apr:  In Temple, Texas, we arose shortly after 7 PM, well rested and ready for the morning exercise routine, then elevatored down to the restaurant for OATMEAL, our newest favorite O-word.  The sky was filled with storm clouds.  Ron rode 3 miles to the PO to mail gazillions of cards and letters to members of his fan club.  He assured me everyone will love seeing the Temple, Texas postmark instead of the Montgomery, Texas postmark, even though that Montgomery postmark would have been so convenient, being located close to the diner where we lunched yesterday.  Then he visited Walmart to get air in the tires (a new realization) and to restock with postcards full of bluebonnets.  We will be passing through the great Texas Hill Country.  After that, we will be in West Texas, where we will starve to death amidst the thousands or hundreds of taco stands.  We have carrots for emergencies.  And oatmeal.  Well, we did manage to leave Temple before noon heading NW on TX 36 with only a few raindrops hitting us until OUCH!  That was a big splat of hail!  Ron immediately U-turned and tried south, then west again on US 190 until the mist thickened.  So we gave up and turned south looking for a restaurant in which to wait out the storm.  (In retrospect, Ron realizes that he missed a turn, and we might have avoided the storm entirely if we had been going SW as planned instead of NW after missing the turn.)  We saw an attractive sign announcing that the Stagecoach Inn & Restaurant was now open for business at exit 284 on I-35.  (We were on the access road, avoiding the heavy traffic.)  One would think that the town of Salada would offer food that we could eat, but about the only thing we could find open was the Ambrosia Tea Room.  A local police officer stopped in front of us and motioned us alongside, then warned us of severe thunderstorms in the forecast.  (No surprise to us since we had been there, been hit already onct good.)  The very accommodating hostess at the tea room provided us with garden salads and turkey.  Fine because it had to be.  Color radar showed that the storm had passed by just north of Salada and clobbered Killeen and Temple, where we were going and where we came from.  Since color radar promised us a clear ride, we wasted no time finding farm road 2484 towards Killeen immediately, turned north on FM 3481 to reconnect with US 190 close to Killeen.  Highway 190 through Killeen, Fort Hood, and Copperas Cove was non-stop shopping city with lots and lots of traffic, but as soon as we cleared that mess, traffic quickly abated and serenity ensued.  The ride offered lovely scenery and some spectacular views until we approached a line of windmills, spinning so gracefully in the wind.  As we approached those giants, the afternoon wind again became ferocious.  Windmills, DUH.  So we stopped at a Subway in Goldthwaite for a water and wind break, then resumed NW-erly to Brownwood, where we found a Comfort Inn for respite from the wind for the night.  Route 190 merged with 183 and later with 84, so the road signs read US 190/183/84.  The town of Early abuts Brownwood and we walked from the hotel in Early to a very nice frisbee park in Brownwood.  Cynthia's FitBit logged her 10,000 steps today.  We are getting to bed early in hopes of less wind early in the day tomorrow.  G'night.

2 Apr:  Up and at'em at 5:40 AM, morning exercises exercised, oatmeal consumed, and packing begun in earnest.  Let’s ride!  Well, who knows exactly when that will happen.  The bags are mostly packed after days of organizing every tiny piece of paper to get it exactly right.  (Do I detect sarcasm?)  Ron closed the door to the second bathroom so Cynthia couldn’t see ALL the recycling, most of which went into the second storage locker this morning, waiting until next January for actual recycling.  We will be charged by the hour for late departure, so we will be out by 11:00 AM sharp (well 11:10 in actual fact).  We returned umpteen boxes to the main storage unit.  (Ron was very pleased that his stuff stacked nicely on top of the file cabinets; when you climb to the top, you are closer, my God, to thee.)  Then we dropped off our box of supplies (cute clothes) to ship to Sedona, returned the car to Enterprise, lunched at the Magnolia Diner, and finally really departed (as in left town).  And!  At one PM Ron said, “We can still do this!” with a huge_huge_huge smile across his face (bigger than usual) when Cynthia climbed on the bike to finally leave.  It was 85 degrees warm but easily tolerable with our 60 mph speed on TX 105 until we turned north on TX 6 at Navasota, and the wind shoved us around with gusto.  The bluebonnets were astounding, and we saw many, many fields bright and dim.  Paintbrush accentuated the bluebonnets in places, and there were vast fields of brilliant yellow too.  The new leaves on most deciduous trees provided their brilliant new green to the landscape.  It was a glorious day to ride even though traffic was rather heavy on TX 6 north to College Station and beyond.  At Hearne we turned west on US 79 and then north on Farm Road 2095.  Not much traffic on the Farm Road, but the change in temperature was abrupt and radical.  It dropped from 80s into the 60s in a matter of miles.  Before the wind had been blowing us eastward strongly, now it blew southward even stronger, and it was COLD.  When we turned north on US 190, it stayed cold, and even Ron, the chronic hyperthermic, got so cold that he stopped to put on another layer.  We were quite happy a hour later to arrive at our destination, a Hilton Garden Inn in Temple, TX.  We had salmon, broccoli and a potato for dinner.  Ron is finally eating the leftovers that Roxanne sent home with us with three weeks ago (or more).  He went for a longish walk over to the Mall and through it for exercise, but ignored the weight room and pool.  We got to bed around 10:30 to 11 AM and rested very well.

1 Apr, Easter Sunday:  Happy Easter friends and family!  Thank God for Easter joy!  Everyone is joyful, smiling from the soul.   Jon, Ron and Cynthia worshipped in a magnificent service at Grace Lutheran in Conroe.  Our pastor Diane had an inspiring Alleluia Message; the music was thundering and so were the Amens.  The songs sang us.  Thanks be to God!  Cynthia was reminded, looking at Jon, “I love seeing my kids lined up in the pew, spit spot down the row.  Our family rarely missed worship, or an Easter sunrise service, with one child sitting between Jon and Scott to keep them from fighting.  Baby Paul climbed across everybody, choosing the best lap for a three minute rest.  I am thankful for five kids that are believers, healthy, active, contributing adults.  Jo B. said, “The Forde family was our entertainment.”  After worship  Ron and Cynthia ate at the golf club, a hearty Sunday brunch of egg white omelets, salmon and a huge bowl of steamed veggies.  Cynthia ate contraband — two mini cupcake treats.  
resulted in a many flowered cross

Children's service

Friday, March 2, 2018

Time Marches On

31 Mar:  Something strange happened when Ron typed a Ctrl-z, and he lost this entire month for a while.  Now it looks like the only thing lost is the too cute bunny & duckie photo that Cynthia had posted here.

view from the Caddy Shack towards the golf course
30 Mar:  Here we are, the twos of us, enjoying a marvelous spring day, having lunch at the Caddy Shack with a perfect temperature of 73 degrees.  Awesome even!  Thank God !

29 Mar:  Recycle Ron took 3 months of recycling to the Woodlands center; they complimented him, "You are the only person who has the recycling so organized."   Cynthia had two medical appointments in the Woodlands.  We lunched at Jason's Deli and now we move to another condo until Monday when we take off for Sedona.

28 Mar:  The end of March is looming ahead.  Every pastor I know is planning the 1 April Easter message: April fool!  He is Risen!  Another day dawned and departed. In the meantime-and -in-between-time, we enjoyed a fun lunch with daughter Julie at Jason’s Deli before racing to the dentist in the Woodlands. Granddaughters Rachel, Lauren and Tyler met us for dinner at Pappadeaux. Monsoon rains hit us as we drove home. Tornado warnings are out until late tonight.

27 Mar:  Hi Sweetie,  I thought I'd surprise you with an early AM "I love you.  Smooch."  And she loved it once she noticed the updated blog.  Ron’s favorite question is, “Did you notice?”  Uh! uh!  What? Then the guesses pour out like a Texas cloudburst.  No.  Cynthia didn’t guess Ron updated the blog.  Cynthia is a happy girl with her surprise.  All of this, and red roses, too; such  a lovely update!

26 Mar:  Do you like to get up early?  We do not.  We had a 7:45 AM appointment an hour away. Cynthia set an alarm, but it didn't ring.  Ron arose on his own, sneaking out of the bed ever so quietly at 4 AM.  At 6:10 he sneaked back into the bed to awaken Cynthia for the appointment at Memorial Herman Hospital in the Woodlands.  Ron was prescribed an echocardiogram because of shortness of breath that has been an issue since taking RX Brillinta, a blood thinner used with the placement of arterial stents.  Cynthia's observation of the echocardiogram (ultrasound), "Congratulations, Ron, its' a boy,” generated a hearty laugh from the pregnant technician.  The rest of our morning went by smoothly; Ron made copies of our annual letter at Office Depot, then he unloaded reams of (exquisitely arranged) plastic for recycling at Target, and he purchased three boxes of pretty, colorful Thank You cards for sending the letters (You will like them).  We ate a second breakfast at the Toasted Yolk:  Imagine!  Our order was no fat, no cheese, no oil, no sodium on egg white vegetable omelets with a bowl of fresh fruit, and grits.  The waitress delivered the omelet with fruit, but hash browns with cheese and no grits??? ya gotta be kidding.   Time to refocus.  Ron's take is that it was another God-given beautiful day in which we were able to walk to the lake and back, practicing our pelvic tilt and reveling in another day without pain.  At 4:30 AM he was up to clean an organize recycling.  He found and sent a couple of genealogical tidbits to his sistah dear, and after that successful morning excursion for the echocardiogram, we returned with copies of the letter and Thank You cards to use for mailing.  The evening dinner with Jon and Barb brought the thermal compound he has needed to complete the Toshiba refurbishing (installing a new fan), plus Jon retrieved his Instant Pot so we have one less item to clutter the kitchen counter.  A marvelous day capped by a few minutes of blogging.

25 Mar:  Thank you Pastor Diane Roth and John Darryl Roth for the wonderful worship experience at Grace Lutheran this Palm Sunday. The music was marvelous, especially the guitar, the drum, and the solos. The liturgy was a moving experience for all generations. The lovely liturgical dance was very meaningful, too. Thank you to all of the participants. We will miss you unti we see you next January.  We were on time for Sunday brunch at the Yacht Club after church to celebrate Samantha and Steven’s birthdays with Sam’s boyfriend Adam.  A great time was had by all of the survivors. Now we walk and exercise (after a wee nap) 

24 Mar:  Ron helped Cynthia edit an article she wrote for a premier genealogy journal about her DNA breakthrough.  She was encouraged by the president of the ASG to submit it to the editor of the Genealogist.   We hope it will be accepted.  Ron is editing our annual letter that he wants to be mailed early this week. And now we pack.  Cynthia has organized most of her stuff into three piles, one for the two week motorcycle trip to Sedona; one to be shipped to Sedona, and one to stay in the storage unit.

Deb is lotsa fun

Deb & James, Cynthia & Ron at Round Top
23 Mar: The morning ride to Round Top, Texas - 2 hours west of us, made a lovely drive through back roads dotted with Texas wildflowers at peak season. After touring Cheryl and Paul’s marvelous new store Curate (home to Stash Co.) in Round Top Texas, the antique capital of the universe, we enjoyed an outdoor lunch with Cynthia's friends from Elk Horn, Iowa. Deb was amazed to learn Cheryl sews every purse, backpack and leather goods herself.  Deb brought 5 loaves of Danish Rye bread made from flour milled at the famous Danish windmill in Elk Horn.  She also brought a can of tomato soup from Barb J. as part of a private joke between the two.  We munched on the rye bread on the trip home despite that is is made from verboten flour and salt.  During our late afternoon walk, we were amazed at the huge herd of deer in a wooded area; just guessing, maybe 30-40 deer watched us curiously as we said hello to them.

22 Mar:  We momentarily forgot what we did.  Ron wants to keep the blog family rated.

21 Mar  was another glorious day with a 72 degree high.  Venturing forth at 9:00 AM the temperature was a brisk 42 degrees.  Cynthia had a girlie morning with a hair-a-cure by Sasha in the Galeria area. The traffic was heavy, and we arrived a bit late.  Lunch at Jason’s Deli was terrific.  Ron’s appointment with the electrophysiologist brought the official pronouncement that he is alive.  It’s always good to get a professinal opinion.  Everything is working perfectly.  Shortness of breath seems to be disappearing.  Ron is pumped about DNA!

Elizabeth & Catherine
20 Mar:  We are still at Lake Conroe, Texas on the first official day of Spring.  Texas starts spring early and gets hot fast; but this is a stellar spring day.  We did our exercises.  Cynthia's BP this morning: 113/73 HR 74.  Ron's is 103/62 HR 67.  Now everybody knows we are healthy!  We walked to the Cafe on the Green for lunch and walked again late afternoon totaling a nice 6 miles.   Photo of Ron with cousin Dorothy’s great grand nieces is precious.

19 Mar: On this day we forgot to blog!  We walked, we ate, we ran errands and did our computer stuffs.  We have fun!  Ron is excited about his DNA discoveries.  Cynthia created GEDCOMS for him to upload to Thanks to sister Carol for the Beatty GEDCOM.

18 Mar: Hello World from SE Texas!  Ron wants Cynthia to create a GEDCOM (compressed data). She does have the unpublished Rambo lineage in her Software program,  Sistah Carol has a six generation Beatty and Rambo. GEDCOM she could email to us. Our Mac software accepts all GEDCOMS.  On another note, the humidity is 100%, but it isn’t raining. I don’t get it, the air felt sticky going to and fro worship and brunch.  A very amusing 18 month old girl (identical twin)  flirted with Ron outrageously during the children’s sermon. She noticed his smile!  After worship, we had brunch with Jon and Barb, plus two of their clients who are closing on their house tomorrow. The guy is an IT specialist who enjoyed Ron’s stories of his early computer training at MIT.  Remember last week when Ron helped Cousin Dorothy’s estate administrator retrieve computer files on her ancient computers? Her two little girls enjoyed Ron, too. The 2 year old followed him around the house.  Ron was gifted coins he discovered in a drawer at Dorothy’s; now Ron is enjoying being a sometimes numismatist.  Life is good in SE Texas!  

view from Cafe on the Green, formerly "Caddy Shack"
17 Mar:  Happy St Patrick’s Day!  We celebrated with a four mile walk before meeting Roxanne in Cypress where she drove us to A.D. Players Theatre to see the C.S. Lewis dramatization of “The Reluctant Convert.”  The monologue was excellent.  Afterwards we had dinner at Pappadeaux Seafood Restaurant. And after all of that humongous excitement we grocery shopped at Wally World (Walmart).  But he also realizes that he must neglect his new-found interest in favor of packing and organizing so that we can move out of the apartment and onto the road in a mere two weeks.

Dr. Peter Stebbins Craig honored
16 Mar:  WooHooooo! We walked another six miles today. Ron is having fun with DNA.  Sistah Carol has become a whiz at getting DNA spit out of relatives and posting the results on GEDmatch.  In addition to Rambo/Beatty DNA results, Ron is editing Cynthia’s DNA article now refered to as “Debbie Does DNA.”  Ron’s mentor, Dr. Peter Craig, was posthumously honored in the National Genealogy Society Hall of Fame.

15 Mar:  It’s amazing how much better we feel now - when we didn’t know we weren’t feeling fabulous last year.  We ARE aware of our good fortune and thank God.  That was the topic of discussion on our walks today on a gorgeous day (6 miles).   Lunch at the Cafe on the Green was delicious (photo aboe).  Late afternoon the sun hid and a cool, brisk wind whipped as we walked to the lake. 

Texas Longhorns watching us with curiosity
Yes, we were actually this close
14 Mar:  Montgomery, TX, the Smooches are reunited, morning stretchified, eatified, and computering.  Cynthia likes having an uncluttered computer of her own once again and is resisting having Ron install various convenient databases like the Craig Collection PDFs and the RON James Lea Compendium and the Rambo Book file.  (Just wait until she is not looking.)  She accidentally deleted this entire blog just seconds ago and shrieked for her beloved to HELP !!!  Cynthia knows about Ctrl-Z to remove the last fix; she hasn't yet learned about Ctrl-Y to restore the previous edits.  Now she knows.  We walked to the Caddy Shack to enjoy a lovely lunch on the patio.  En route we encountered Texas Longhorns.  Large herds of deer graze along the jogging trail to the fitness center.

13 Mar:  Where is Ron?  This is the day!  So, where is Ron?  It is approaching 4:00 PM and that big blue BMW is not yet loaded with Smooch.  Annnnnndddddd there is that rush hour traffic on I-35 at Fort Worth, Texas that brings the traffic to stop and go.  So.  Sometime by midnight Smooch will arrive.  It will be a chilly, dark ride in heavy traffic.  But soon that blue BMW will be home!  But wait, he has just arrived! and darkness fell only recently:
Stars shining bright above you
Night breezes seem to whisper "I love you"
Birds singing in the sycamore trees
Dream a little dream of me

And here it is a month later (April 3rd), and neither of us can get that song out of our heads.
12 Mar: It’s Monday morning! Aren’t you glad?  Have a happy day! Ron is transferring files to floppies because of a very old, outdated OS that can’t transfer to the Mac. Meanwhile in south east Texas Easter Lilies were ordered and Cynthia is off for a fun day with Fyn and Zoe, the youngest of the 7 granddaughters. Thoughts from Cynthia’s FB morning post: Belonging to a team, having team spirit, is a good thing. Team spirit gives us strong family ties, denominational ties, political ties, unless it divides us so much we are given to hate and rancor.

11 Mar:  Ron misses da wee-fee.   With high hopes the Computer transfers will be completed by noon-thirty that big blue BMW will be traveling south like a speeding bullet. Ahhh!  Not so fortunate: the discovery of files already converted to RTF by Mr. Smooch Geek in 2011 are a puzzle.  Now, it is time to walk and clear the brain fog to enable memory of how that happened.  Obviously the brain fog ensued from wedded bliss in 2011. Yup!

busy night at all the British henge sites as staff work all night to move the stones forward by an hour

Cynthia likes to post amusing things from the web

10 Mar:  Way up at the North Pole in Denton, Texas, Ron has a job.  He is sorting over 10,000 unfiltered emails in Dorothy’s Inbox.  He can delete only about a hundred at a time.  This job may take a few years.  Dorothy’s  DeHaven book is on a different computer with an OS/2 operating system.  OS/2 hard drives cannot be read by PCs or Macintosh computers.  By 8:39 PM Ron is down to 9000 emails to sort and save after deleting various obvious junk.  Down in Montgomery, Cynthia watched Ron’s sister Carol’s granddaughter Erika receiving a 4th place drill team competition award out of 30 or 40 participants. Erika is exceptionally bright besides talented.

9 Mar: Ron departed for Denton, Texas at 10:30 AM. The five hour ride was pleasant under partly cloudy skies with a high of 75 degrees forecast; arrival was about 2:30 PM. Ron phoned Cynthia from Wally World, but she was at the fitness center and returned the call, missing him. Ron called back missing Cynthia. Isn’t this fun?  Finally, we connected. The world turns once again. 

8 Mar:  Ron has turned into the Tasmanian Devil, housecleaning ahead of tomorrow’s departure. The kitchen is clean and the lady of the house is smiling.  We walked to the lake, and took a joy ride on the motorcycle, first to eat at the Cafe on the Green, then to UPS to mail a letter to the Elections Board, and finally to Wally World to fill our freezer and refrigerator.  Ron finished mending the patches added to the patches on the patches of his brittle, almost dead khakis.  Certainly there is another year's wear out of these patches? 

7 Mar:  Happy birthday Grandson Eric.  We spent the afternoon at the dentists office with granddaughter Rachel; she texted how much she and Ryan adore Ron in a “manly” way.  Ron has always striven to be adored in a manly way, too.  Plans are shaping up for Ron to go to Denton, TX on Friday to help the estate administrator take care of the files on Cousin Dorothy’s computers.  Her memorial service was a week ago.  Our 101+ year old cousin will be dearly missed.

6 Mar:  WOW!  We walked to voting precinct #63 so Cynthia could vote...  Afterwards, with a sticker, “I Voted!” proudly pasted on her forehead, we walked to the Cafe on the Green for lunch.  We continued on the walk to the Lake and home again, home again jiggity jig.  Ron is discovering how to do chromosome matches  on  The first try was amusing by mistakenly using a cousin’s kit # instead of his own.

granddaughters are wonderful
5 Mar:  Happy Monday! Cynthia finally... finally...  completed updating her Rostered Ministers Profile which will allow her to do ministry while we spend the year 2019 at the Lutheran Seminary in Philadelphia.  We are off to do lunch at En Salata with granddaughter Kiira who is two short months from graduation with a MA Counseling.  Kiira (white jeans, pictured with granddaughters Samantha and Rachel) asked what fun things we were going to do after lunch.  Ron replied, “If we told you genealogy & computers, at your age you would think to yourself, ‘Get a life!'”  Ron & Cynthia (Smooch & SmoochSmooch) walked to the fitness center to work out and counted 19 deer on the way home.

4 Mar, Sunday:  We worshiped at Grace Lutheran, then brunched at the Yacht Club with Jen, Brett and Roxanne before the parents-to-be took off for their 16 hour drive home to Denver, their car packed over-full with baby items from the shower.  The child may never need another outfit until adulthood.  Ron and Cynthia walked for a total of five miles today.  Ron has been reassured that Cousin Dorothy’s DeHaven manuscript is in good hands for posthumous publication.

Mr. McGregor’s Garden
3 Mar:  Ron is going to Jon's house to hook up his new-to-him Ebay Toshiba computer to Jon's big screen TV; hopefully the TV screen will work, demonstrating that the computer actually works despite a broken screen.  This will give the motorcycle a modicum of exercise.  Cynthia is going to a baby shower for our expected great grandson.  Oh, the excitement!  In his wildest imagination ten years ago, Ron never, ever envisioned having 11 grandchildren.  Now we are on to the Greats!  Roxanne‘s themed Peter Rabbit shower included Mr. McGregor’s Garden in her yard; that same yard earned her Yard of the Month previously.

2 Mar:  Our condo is not furnished with an ironing board or iron; friend Barb allowed us to come to her house so Ron could iron patches on his patches on his patches on his pants to last several more years.  Cynthia is prepared with back up cargo khaki pants for every day, back up cargo dress pants Ron can wear to church or for days his patches fall off.  Cynthia had a 1 PM doctor appointment at the Conroe Medical Center so we ate lunch at the Club en route, followed by a stop at the storage unit to pick up a cable for the TV to the computer; from there we mailed two unneeded Apple adaptors back at the UPS store.  At 2:30 we hoofed it to the Fitness Center for a workout.  Ron is tired today, rested in the afternoon, and still went to bed early.  Do our readers need to know all of these details?  NO!  But, welcome to our world.  This blog is how Cynthia keeps track of medical information for the IRS and doctors. 

1 Mar:   Ron had the perfect title for the March blog but forgot it.  We drove to the ophthalmologist in Brenham to get an update on Cynthia's macular degeneration, arriving five minutes late.  Use eye drops, take vitamins religiously, and return in September.  On the way home we stopped at Kroger's for frozen berries and raw veggies. The computers kept us busy until four PM when we walked to the fitness center and onto the Cafe on the Green for dinner.  With trowel in hand Ron dug trenches  along the trail to drain standing water.  Trail maintenance never stops.