Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Merry May - There is Life in the Desert!

26 May, Sat: Homewood Suites, Buffalo Thunder near Santa Fe; we hit our basic 10,000 step,  under cloudy skies, before 11:00 AM walking the Butterfly Trail before sinking into decadent laziness.  The leftover salads from Whole Foods made a perfect lunch.  Late in the day our energy sorta returned and we managed to complete another round of the Butterfly Trail giving us a whopping 19,500 steps (7.75 miles) today! WOOO HOOOO!  There are a couple of places on the trail with blossoms or new growth that have a marvelous fragrance.  The desert flowers are blooming following 2 days of rain.  They appear for a day or two and disappear.  Ron has completed phone invitations to our June 3rd dinner party at Radish and Rye Restaurant with almost everyone available to 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 of the cleaning staff throwing out precious recycling while we were walking, Ron hid the recycling in the refrigerator.  He spent the afternoon with Janie before meeting Cynthia at Vinaigrette’s 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  hiking the Butterfly Trail.  After lunch,  we mailed cards at the Tesuque Post Office. The postal clerk was very amused when Ron showed her his funny post cards of Javelinas; she shared an early memory of seeing a momma Javelina with her babies and she was thankful she didn’t smell them.  Javelinas have a terrible odor.  The BMW motorcycle service phoned about 4:00 while we were enjoying the afternoon with John and Linda.  We zoomed off to pick up the bike; Cynthia followed Ron driving the rental car back from south Santa Fe to our hotel. But first we stopped for dinner close to the BMW dealer because it was five PM rush hour.   Cynthia waited at the restaurant while Ron shopped at Walmart; he led the way home and Cynthia’s terror level dropped to near normal terror as we drew closer to our hotel. The rental car is uncomfortable to drive because it is a very large SUV.  Thankfully, the hotel kitchen had not put the salad away so we could enjoy another 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, Monday: 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 friends from Texas were unable to have dinner with us at the last moment because of rain and low tires.  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 (http://www.arizona-leisure.com/oak-creek-canyon-drive.html) 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.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

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

Lookie, deer manicuring the bushes
30 Apr:  We thought that renting a 3 bedroom house might encourage visitors.  Sunday we had 4 footed visitors in the front yard.  We did not invite them in.

Today’s hike started on Andante Trail to Thunder Mountain trail to Sugar Loaf.  Coming down we encountered a most delightful woman, born in East Germany; her parents defected.  We hurried back to clean up for dinner with Dale and Linda, friends from church.  They are quite fascinating, separately and together.  We had a lot to talk about since Dale is a retired engineer and Linda is an addicted genealogist who likes to help others.   Does that sound at all familiar??

notice that Cynthia is watching the camera
Chimney Rock

Erika is ready for the prom
29 Apr, Sunday:  Up early to get to church on time - we hope, God willing.  And we made it to church on time.  Breakfast at Sedona Reds is mighty fine, too. We hiked the lower Chimney Rock Trail and paused to watch someone who evidently hiked way up to the base of the rock formation.  Ron climbed a significant distance up Little Sugar Loaf Mountain but the trail was steep and loose, so he abandoned the effort considerably below the summit.  He might try again when Cynthia isn't awaiting his return.  We spotted at least one person at the base of Chimney Rock.  The weather is a pleasant and glorious 73 degrees, perfect except for 24 MPH winds.  We do have fun!  Sunday Offering: Love One Another 

Ron's early morning activity, freeing the wind wheel
(dressing comes second)
28 Apr:  Good morning on this pleasant day in Sedona;  Ron and the clippers were out early. 
The weather was a perfect 68 degrees for our walk to breakfast.  Everyone else agrees because the walkers with pooches are out in abundance.  Neighbor Konstanz, in her pajamas, was watering a plant when Cynthia surprised her by calling her name.  Ron had met her hiking on one of his solo evening hikes.  In previous days as we walked to breakfast, we kept hoping to see her.  This day Ron returned to the house for his pills, so of course this is the day the two women would meet and chat without the distraction of male supervision.  What a surprise to discover she is from Waverly, Iowa; she received her law degree from U of Iowa and works at peacemaking.  After breakfast Cynthia needed a stop at Safeway for hand lotion, and Ron surprised her by picking up  roses when she wasn't watching.  Todays hike was the terrifying exposure of the Thunder Mountain Trail for a mere .7 miles and 3,472 jitters.  Before the jittery part of the trail, we were awestruck by a cute little, tight-knit hedgehog cactus community of 20 blooms.  Cynthia survived her jitters and did NOT fall once, although her feet did slide on the loose sandstone powder a few times.  (Strange isn't it that one gets the jitters most often in a spot where it would be beneficial to be calm instead.  Read that as EXPOSURE, on the brink of an unsettling view, even though the views are the reason we hike.  Mee beloved WeeFee had to explain to my dense male brain the comfort of seeing those views whilst standing on top of my toes and hugging on for dear life.)
Sedona from Thunder Mountain Trail (pre jitters)

What a surprise to see new blossoms appear overnight
27 Apr:  We didn't set the air conditioner low enough last night and woke up too hot at 4:30, so we had trouble sleeping for the rest of the night.  Fortunately we both feel mostly rested this morning and enjoyed our walk to breakfast at Cafe Jose.  The cook is finally becoming accustomed to us and used very little cooking spray this morning.  Richard called and again recommended his favorite book, "The Body Has a Head" and a new title "Oranges."  (Apparently oranges don't grow on orange trees because they are grafted to lime trees for a headier stock.)  On the way home we noticed magnificent cactus blooms that were not there yesterday morning.  It is spring in Sedona and blossoms are everywhere, as is fragrance.  The first of April now seems to be in the very, very distant past.  Even Greer is a distant memory.  At five PM we ventured forth to hike 7.5 miles starting on Lower Chimney Rock Trail, circling onto Chimney Rock Pass, then the Upper Chimney Rock Trail. As we approached the Trail to the base of Chimney Rock, Ron decided to see how far he could go in 15 minutes.  Cynthia waited until she heard distant voices approaching and moved up out of sight. Ron quickly returned because the Trail turned into a rock scramble.  We arrived home happily with the last dregs of daylight.   Wonderful how our time in Sedona seems to last on and on.

We arrived at the destination trail junction at sunset.  Perfect !!
26 Apr:  Caliente!  It is burning hot in Sedona, Arizona at 86 degrees.  Whereas New York Is having the coldest April in decades.  Cooler temperatures are forecast for us here in Sedona.  We walked as usual to breakfast, being creatures of  habit, but today, because of the heat, we rode the motorcycle to the doctors office and market instead of walking.  Late afternoon, we waited until 6:00 PM to hike in cooler 83 degree temperature and were surprised that it felt so pleasant and "cool."  The people at the stupa 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 on the trails, but there is an occasional runner.  Most hikers are very congenial and are interested in a brief visit.  We have met interesting couples; one computer geek was interested in visiting with Ron until his wife intervened.  We've seen one turbaned, barefoot woman several evenings now, with two large bundles over her back and shoulders.  A multi-layered shapeless dress reaches almost to her ankles.  If greeted, she smiles shyly and says hello.  Ron asked her if she slept here.  Her reply was “No, not here."  Meaning not on the gounds of the stupa.  She makes her way upward, and we assume that she sleeps on National Forest land 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. 

Cynthia really likes this purple prickley pear cactus.
Focus on the plant in the foreground, the mountain is extra.

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 our usual 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 and contains clothing for colder weather.  It is chilly every morning and when the sun goes down.  I am tired! Good night!

How Great Thou Art
How close we climbed to Chimney Rock
Overlooking Sedona
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 that our favorite waitress Claudia wasn’t working today, so we ate at Cafe Jose instead.  Yesterday, the internist cleaned Cynthia's ear, but the wax had adhered and the removal caused the ear drum to bleed.  Now we do antibiotics in the ear!  Ron delights to aim the antibiotic drops exactly into the ear canal because it causes such a satisfyingly big shiver when it "hits bottom."  Cynthia 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."

17 Apr:  Another doctor appointment got 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 on AZ 87, then AZ 260, then I-17 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 stupa 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!

Salt River Canyon
Roosevelt Lake

Salt River
Cozy Fireplace in Greer Lodge Room
Sunset from our window

14 Apr:  Goodbye Greer, AZ at 8300’ elevation and 40 degrees.  We will return.  Crossing the White Mountains at 10,000’ elevation on AZ 260, the views were phenomenal with residual patches of snow below us and ahead of us.  We descended and warmed up as we approached Show Low.  We had considered taking the serpentine and scenic route AZ 73, but the Tinder fire was causing evacuations and might have closed the road.  In Show Low, we turned south on US 60.  Breathtaking is the only way to describe passing through the Salt River Canyon.  The rest of the ride towards Globe, AZ was anti-climatic.  Globe is a peculiar town that stretches out along the highway in several isolated sections; just when you think you are out of town, commercial establishments appear again ... and again ... and again.  We found lunch at Judy’s Cook House in Globe and also shed outer laters of clothing.  Touring on towards Payson on AZ 188, we marveled at the amazing size of Lake Roosevelt out in the middle of Saguaro Cactus country.  Tomorrow we reach Sedona.

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 to imagine the 2500 people here in the summer with only 2 restaurants.

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 are trying to spend even 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: http://houstonhotelmagazine.com/art-culture/stash-co-s-cheryl-schulke-is-building-bags-and-more-for-leaders/  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.  Rendezvous 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 running 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 AM, 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 on US 190 as planned instead of NW on TX 36 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 onct good already.)  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 PM 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