Friday, November 29, 2013

Merry Merry Merry December!

30 Dec:  Only three more recycling days before doctors appointments.  It was fun to see Zack again at IHOP and to meet someone at the fitness center who remembered "Where is Ron Now."  Unfortunately the IHOP kitchen was a worse disaster than previously; they got our order wrong twice.  I told the new manager that I'd rather cook at home.  My knees again complained after the walk on concrete sidewalks to and from the fitness center.  Cynthia scheduled twice a week with a personal trainer to keep her on track and safe from injury.  (She is an over-achiever.)  Cynthia's goal for the end of April is to have everything in storage or given away, so I hafta get all my recycling out of the house and all my junkish keepsakes moved to Illinois.  (You all know about my compulsive hoarding which extends all the way to garments needing mucho mending.  My sister says I inherited the junk collector gene.)  Next on the agenda is to install 32-bit Windows System 7 on the Toshiba laptop after another backup.  Hmm, now I need to Google all that - bye.

done - departed from Sedona 21 Dec  - despite snow flurries in Sedona
done - arrival in Dallas 27 Dec - visited Dorothy Dec 26

29 Dec, Sunday:  When Ron awoke this morning, he was unmotivated and still is.  However, the sunrise was marvelous with purplish reds reflected in the clouds and on the lake.  We arose and hustled off to the early service at Grace Lutheran, where we enjoyed recognizing the pastor and parishioners and they recognized us.  We neglected resupply on our way home from IHOP, and are now underprepared for dinner.  We walked on concrete sidewalks to the Health Club to work out, but using the elliptical machine and walking on concrete makes my knee ache.  So now we are home again, and Ron ate cereal w/ berries for dinner.  Cynthia found soup & wine, so she's a happy gourmand.  We are both recognizing that it is time to part with our stuff (and junk), since we are now car-less and fully committed to a life of travel by motorcycle.  Ron foresees multiple trips to recycling.

28 Dec:  Sunrise finds us in Montgomery, Texas, in Cynthia's lake house, somewhat confused as to how we arrived here so early before doctors' appointments and wondering what to do next.  Ron discovered his checkbook exactly where Cynthia remembered it - amongst the Bankston genealogy papers !  First things first, we picked up a rental car for Cynthia at Enterprise and breakfasted at IHOP.  After breakfast, Ron found good prices for everything on his shopping list at Kroger and immediately decided to spend the remainder of daylight in the genealogy room at the Montgomery County Library, where he was delighted to find a few new Bankston tidbits.  Dinner at the Yacht Club and home to bed by 9:30.  Ron has been telling Cynthia for months that he didn't need to replace the moth-eaten underwear he has been wearing because practically brand spankin' new undies are at the lake house.  And indeed, this second sought-after item was located quickly in the storage closet.

27 Dec:  Cynthia's dress fitting at 12:30 was east of I-35E, and our hotel was 40 miles west at I-35W.  Ron had wanted to visit the genealogy room at the Dallas Public Library, but the library closes at 5 PM on Fridays.  Rather than travel cross town multiple times and get stuck leaving the library in rush hour, we simply headed south after the fitting, taking U.S. 75 to I-45.  Towards three in the afternoon advertising for the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana was simply irresistible, so we stopped to enjoy forbidden treats.  Cynthia's soup was delightfully tasty, and Ron's fruitcake was worth the dietary transgression.  Sunset again enthralled us, this time the horizon was clear allowing the sun to light the bellies of the clouds overhead.  It was not yet dark when we arrived at Pappadeaux for a salmon dinner.  Prudence suggested picking up some diet cherry cokes and egg white veggie omelet fixings as we passed by WallyWorld.

26 Dec:  Early this morning my blue motorcycle was painted white with frost, a surprising sight in Dallas.  We are happy to report that 97-year-old Dorothy is still doing well in Denton, Texas.   Her Cynthia has lost so much weight as to be unrecognizable; attagirl Cynthia !  (My Cynthia also deserves an attagirl for muscle tone and STRONG, hiker-chick legs.)  The ride from the Hilton Garden Inn to Denton at noon was chilly at 46 degrees, but the ride back at 5:30 seemed much warmer due to a fantastic orange-yellow striated sunset on the western horizon below crescent streamers of red in broad brushstrokes high in the sky to the south.

25 Dec: Today the big surprise was discovering a substantial dew covering the motorcycle in the early morning - in the desert !  The ride from Odessa to Fort Worth was a chilly and windy one.  The bike may have a permanent leftward list after riding all day at a slant.  The landscape and the odors became consistently more pleasing with each mile eastward from Odessa/ Midland.  It was quite a change to see green fields of winter wheat after seeing desert and winter colors for the last month.  High temperature for the day was only fifty degrees, brrrh.  Cynthia was mostly warm enough in her electrics, although she did need Frog Togs for wind-proofing  after lunch.  The winds tore her light-weight Frog Togs apart; we'll hafta replace them.  Google reviewers of IHOPs and Dennys gave strong negatives for Odessa and Midlands, so we suffered through the continental breakfast provided by the Comfort Inn and saved our appetites until the IHOP in Abilene.  This IHOP lived up to its strong recommendations and provided me a good omelet (after returning the first one for a cheese violation).  Cynthia forgot to explicitly specify no oil, no butter on her chicken dinner, so it arrived more oily than we like.  I-20 & I-30 were less busy than expected on Christmas Day, and the proportion of trucks was surprisingly high.  I expected more truckers to be home with their families.  The rates at the new Hilton Garden Inn were pleasingly low, and their chef fed us a wonderful dinner.

24 Dec: We packed early (for us) and breakfasted at the nearby IHOP while the early morning chill dissipated in the bright sunshine.  As we started riding south through El Paso, the sun was a nuisance, but we soon turned east and enjoyed a very pleasant day.  The scenery changed from absolutely flat, barren desert to sparsely covered mountains to mountains with vegetation to smelly, flat oil lands.  That smell of crude oil is somewhat sickening and goes on for hundreds of miles.  Just before sunset the bike reported a temperature of sixty-five degrees !  Then the bottom dropped out, and the temperature dropped a degree every few minutes until we stopped at Odessa shortly before dark.  The clerk at the Comfort Inn recommended Harrigan's, where we enjoyed an excellent dinner.  After a fuel stop for the cycle, Ron walked from the hotel for a couple of hours through an industrial area and observed several mechanics and truckers still working on Christmas Eve.

23 Dec: Ron thought to surprise Cynthia by riding to Van Horn, Texas to spend the night at the historic hotel there, but we enjoyed visiting Cynthia's nephew Robbie in El Paso all afternoon.  Instead of reclaiming our luggage at the Comfort Inn, we returned to the St. Clair Winery & Bistro for an excellent dinner of salmon and stayed another night in Las Cruces.

22 Dec: We've come to rest in Las Cruces, NM at a Comfort Inn within a couple of blocks of the third St. Clair Winery & Bistro of our trip.  This one was not able to feed us as well as the other two, but the meal was excellent and the wine wonderful.  We started the day in Casa Grande, AZ at Mimi's Cafe which has not yet disappointed us.  It was so peculiar, in the vicinity of Tucson, to come out, first thing in the morning, to a motorcycle covered with dew.  The scenery today along I-10 was marvelous, especially with the highlights provided by snow on the mountains.  First mountains started as an indistinct steely blue-gray as we approached and morphed into clay and green sharply distinct as we passed; wonderful transformation.  The next noteworthy mountains were the dull rust colored "hills" covered with a dusting of snow resembling lace doilies.  And our final spell binding mountains came towards us at sunset, the mountains beyond Las Cruces appeared to be blue, were capped in brilliant white snow, and accentuated by the deepening blue and violet in the sky.  The sunset in the rear view mirror as a repeat of yesterday.

21 Dec:  Yes !  We were up early, thanks in part to the roofers who arrived at 8 AM, finished packing by 9:30, and were breakfasting at Reds as the snow started falling.  Yup, we departed Sedona in light snow at 35 degrees.  The red rock is even more spectacular with wispy foggy tendrils rising sporadically amongst the spires and mesas.  The snow didn't affect traction, although the nail in the rear tire did nothing to reassure us of our safety.  The roadway dried out by the time we passed through the Village of Oak Creek, and the tire continued to reassure us by not losing any pressure all the way to the GoAz dealership (which the GPS failed to locate correctly).  It was quite amusing to see the elevation markers decline steadily from 5,000 feet to 4,000 feet to 3,000 feet to 2,000 feet almost as regularly as the old Burma Shave signs.  Somewhere around 3,000 feet another elevation indicator became predominant - huge stick-figure saguaro cacti everywhere.  As we got closer to Phoenix, we began enjoying the sight of tall palm trees.  Words cannot express the awe and wonder that accompany these changes in scenery.  We had to stop in the Victory dealership to pee and ask directions, but that had a very interesting benefit: an older guy with trimmed white goatee and snowy white hair struck up a conversation saying that motorcycling keeps the inner child alive.  I responded that it helps the outer child too.  He shocked us both by saying he is 90-years-old, and his big Harley was through being serviced as we waved goodbye.  NINETY.  Scott at GoAz is entertaining rider of a GS, he gets pumped up watching the video "Long Road ..." The important thing is that he put us on a K1600LT loaner while our tire was being replaced, so we were able to ride to visit Kenneth and Jewel for wonderfully pleasant two hours in the afternoon.  Kenneth turned 98 in Oct. and Jewel will be 100 in June next year.  We retrieved the R1200RT from the shop at 5:30 and immediately rode out of town on the 101 Loop to witness our second spectacular of the day; sunset was astounding, and we had a front row seat as we rode south.  The horizon glowed in orange and yellow striations as if emulating the very rocks in Sedona.  In the "foreground" were rock monoliths or saguaro cacti, shadowy outlines in the orange/yellow glow.  This lasted nearly an hour, and interest continued until the horizon was nearly dark and it was possible to see the glistening puddles in the fields to the right.  At Casa Grande we stopped at a Comfort Inn and were pleased with the price and the availability of a good meal at a Mimi's Cafe nearby.

20 Dec: It rained last night from 8 PM non-stop until 5 AM this morning and has been intermittent since.  Ron arose at 3 AM to continue rinsing & cleaning things for recycling; mission accomplished: two boxes ready to go to UPS (I'm guessing 15 lbs for the one to Texas; turned out to be 13) and all motorcycle luggage full of recycling from cereal boxes and bags to packing peanuts to coke cans, soup cans and wine bottles plus another small assortment of corks and foil, etc.  The house is already looking empty.  Cleaning is the next project after breakfast at Reds, pedicure & manicure for my beloved Smooch, UPS drop off, tire repair, and recycling drop off. (A preposition should never be used to end a sentence with.  Is drop off guilty, or is it a noun?)  And the rains came again after lunch, so we didn't hike, and the roofers didn't finish.  Bill at Red Rock Auto and Cycle won't plug tires and hesitated to patch mine but recommended instead that I ride it as is with tiny nail and slow leak to Scottsdale to the BMW dealer to replace the tire.  OK by me.  So why is Ron wide awake in the evening after getting up at 3 AM.  Perhaps the six cups of coffee at lunch was not such a good idea.  Cynthia drank a glass of wine and fell asleep at 6 PM, a better choice.  Three bags fully packed and not much will go into the last one since we will be wearing nearly everything we own for most of this ride to Texas.

19 Dec: Today the roofers showed up about 10 AM, and we DID hike INTO Sedona for lunch at Reds.  We are so happy to be able to hike 6 miles every other day without physical discomfort; thank God.  Ron was up early and on the phone early to place trades and "take profits" from the mutual funds that are up for the year.  Asset allocation accomplished, although checking the results has to wait until "tomorrow".  Our hike usually leaves us tired and ready for bed early, but today we stayed up past midnight (and Ron got points for first "I love you" of the day on the stroke of midnight).  Red Rock Auto and Cycle will look at the tire in the morning and might have sourced a replacement locally (Michelin Pilot Road 3).

18 Dec:  It is amazing how little is left to pack.  Leaving the cottage yesterday, Ron spotted a Great Blue Heron in the vacant lot next to us begging to have his picture taken.  We obliged.  The photo is small/cropped because he blends in to the trees so nicely:
We hiked our favorite two-mile loop twice, morning and evening.  Since the GoPro video of her sermon is MP4 and will not play on older DVDs, Cynthia downloaded an MP4 Converter for the Mac.  With the new converter downloaded and installed, she was delighted to burn her sermon to DVD for friends and children.  Cynthia's list of Christmas cards, letters are mailed or emailed, plus her class newsletter is printed and posted.  Interesting to learn that many do not use a computer; but the classmates that do are very impressed with the website that contains the DVD's from the last two reunions.  Ron spent the afternoon washing and waxing the motorcycle because he wants to reduce the weight of the polish in the luggage.  The unforeseen benefit (?) was discovering a small nail in the rear tread.  Ron called Jim to ask advice and left a message; Jim called back and sent an e-mail to Cynthia.  Now that the cat is outta the bag, we gotta get it fixed.
Stick your tongue out ...

17 Dec: A new day dawned at 3:30 AM, and Ron noticed moonset about 6:15, but forgot to check out  the pre-dawn light with moon on western horizon and sunrise glow in the east; maybe tomorrow - (nope slept in).  More voice recording transcribed already and the veggies are ready for cooking, so my chores are nearly done.  Today we plan a big hike; 68 degrees are forecast, so we will need more water than recently.  We will again watch the markets to decide whether to "take profits" today or not, and the final projects for the day are packing & reorganizing, recycle preparation and cleaning.  The 21st is drawing quickly near.  And hike we did!  Someone is very proud of herself for that 4-hour, six+ mile hike to Sedona Recycling (actually three blocks from 89A).  As we left the house, Ron spotted a great blue heron in the vacant lot towards Oak Creek.  The heron stayed put long enough for Cynthia to get a good photo, but flew off after Ron circled the house and was jockeying for a view without intervening branches or bushes to confound the camera autofocus.(Ron hasn't taken the time to figure out how to get the photo repositioned to the right here)  After re-visiting the vanishing arroyo ice (14th & 15th) and a coke and apple snack stop, we saw two coyotes practically identical to the ones we saw a few days ago, i.e. robust and healthy looking.  These two seemed a bit more wary as they trotted off into the brush.  Today Ron packed his luggage and discovered that it will not require much to pack for the trip.  Finishing with recycling will be much more challenging.

16 Dec: After Breakfast at Reds and goodbye to Claudia, we dropped the 40-pound box of clothes at UPS, a full load of recycling, and refurbished supplies of vital necessities: egg whites and jelly beans.    Since the 40-pound box had displaced the top case, when I accelerated Cynthia was quite startled to lean back against - nothing!  She is convinced that I almost lost her, although I reassured her that I would have noticed her toes rising and would have grabbed a foot or the brake.  Our hike this afternoon was intentionally short to allow the feet and bodies to recoup after yesterdays 4.5 hour excursion.  The weather is looking good for departure the 21st.  Wish us luck.

15 Dec, Sunday: Wowie, zowie, was it ever a cold ride in to church; 27 degrees at first, warming to 30 briefly as we passed through town then dropping a bit by the time we turned, frozen fingered, onto Chapel Drive.  Cynthia's heated gear kept her toasty except for the cute boots lacking the heated sockies.  The sermon was well worth the ride, and pastors David and Gwen and several of the parishioners wished us a safe journey.  After another delightful breakfast at Reds, we commenced an industrious hike following Oak Creek as usual and up the hill to Ridge Trail, then touching toe in Sedona near the Recycling (which was open on Sunday!) and out to a brief respite and a diet Coke.  Recommencing, we continued on the Old Post Trail back to Red Rock Crossing Road where we took Zane Gray until crossing the arroyo close to home.  (Ron was delighted to show Cynthia the slightly smaller piece of ice in that arroyo.)  We slept very well after that exertion, although Ron did fold the clothes to fit in the box and trimmed it to size before beddy-bye.

14 Dec:  We woke thinking that Santa Claus brought us good kiddies warm hiking weather.  Well, the weather was nominally warm although the wind from the North Pole trumped the temperatures.   16 MPH wind was tolerable in the few sheltered sunny places.  We were home again, home again, jiggity jig.  Ron left Cynthia working on one of her manuscripts while he hiked the extensive route to Sedona originally planned.  He chatted on the phone with first Ed then Greg and Donna as he sped up to the high point of the Ridge Trail in a mere 30 minutes, into town in roughly an hour, and returned sans flashlight in the dimming twilight; two hours fifteen minutes - two and a quarter to hint at a family joke.   Highlight of the day was finding half-inch thick ice in one steep, rocky arroyo just before getting to Sedona.  Clothes are ready to be boxed and shipped back to TX Monday.

13 Dec: Two happy hikers here!   Super hike up the Ridge Trail and onto the Carroll Canyon Trail which connects to the Old Post Trail to make the wide circle almost into Sedona and back through the arroyo to home.  Once again we enjoyed a delightful conversation with Bob Piper as we all stood at the "threshold" of his uncle Charlie Smith's household (only the footings survive).  Imagine, another guy who likes to tell stories!!

12 Dec. Thurs: Imagine!  Bankston/Rambo cousins sitting for 8 hours eating, laughing and talking DNA.
Becky, Ron, Cheryl

Becky, Ron and Cynthia
11 Dec Wed. We had dinner with the pastors (plural) and the Seeleys tonight at Judi's.  The ambiance was excellent as were our good size servings of delicious salmon and hearty pasta.  Most memorable was the delightful company of these new good friends.  We will miss Sedona.

10 Dec: Great hike and good conversation with a 76-year-old cowboy who asked Cynthia if we were from around here.  He wanted to know if any of the Chavez family was still living here.  With no knowledge that they are, the talk continued to be long and interesting.  He grew up as one of the Piper 5: five Piper brothers whose folks owned the Piper Ranch we were staring at.  Cynthia had been curious about the site of the movies filmed locally.  Turns out it was their ranch.  John Wayne was a frequent visitor at their family table.  His favorite western actor, Ray Milland, drew a mustache and goatee on his face for a photo he wouldn't sell for a million dollars.  He and his brothers carved the ranch brand RX into the mountain above where the RC Church is today.   Lots of stories have grown up about the initials on the mountain; one of the most outrageous stories being aliens left their mark.  Mr. Piper lives in Prescott taking care of 22 horses that belong to his niece and her husband who are roping champions. His oldest brother is 88, those two remain of the Piper 5.  As the gold and silver GMC pickup truck drove off we read the license plate: Piper 5.

I'm in a hurry this morning because I hear Cynthia in the bedroom, and the omelet veggies are not yet prepared, but, before I forget,

On the ride into town for a late breakfast Sunday, the snow covering and contrasting with the red rock was awesome.  Seeing snow accumulations in the shady areas beside the road vindicated the decision to NOT ride the motorcycle to church at 8 AM.

That afternoon while hiking on the dirt road near the top of the hill, a coyote came strolling downwards and paused as soon as he saw us, from only about 50' away.  He was a big, handsome, well-fed critter with a tawny, diamond-shaped face much resembling a wolf.  During his pause, he apparently decided to bushwhack rather than squeeze by us and left the roadway into the desert scrub to skirt around us by 30'.  We watched his progress through the vegetation, and he watched ours.  Once he was safely by, I expected, and he did indeed, return towards the road, pausing behind a bush 5' from the road.  If Cynthia, with her hands gloved, had fumbled to extract her phone from her pocket earlier, the pictures would have been awesome.  No doubt the phone's tiny hands were clutching fabric, refusing to be extracted into the cold without a struggle.  One coyote seen so close was marvelous, but it gets better.  He crossed the open roadway and watched us skeptically for a full minute before turning to continue his downward stroll.  As soon as he began, another, bigger coyote emerged from the hillside onto the road about 100 yards further down.  The two coyotes eyed each other, no doubt evaluating the likelihood of a confrontation.  This standstill lasted another minute, during which time Cynthia was snapping photos fast and furiously.  Finally the downhill coyote turned and proceeded down the road, and our closer friend followed.  Monday was ridiculously cold, with a high of 33 degrees.  My sister and friends tell me that sounds warm to them.

One coyote watching us watch him
Two coyotes

9 Dec, Mon:  Usual cold weather morning routine: Ron up early (4 AM) to transcribe AT voice recorder and chop veggies for omelet.  We opted for a much longer hike and decided to hike the Ridge Trail to the Table Top Trail to the Airport Loop Trail with the intention of adding the Loop to our longest hike to-date.  As we neared the airport, a small private plane took off directly overhead, so I shielded my eyes from the sun to see the plane and discovered instead a marvelous sight: one cloud nearby to the sun was technicolor in the sunlight.  Clouds are usually some shade of white; this one had that, but the upper quarter had shadings of violet and purple with some additional red and yellow highlighting.  That cloud was a first for me.  The Airport Loop Trail was a bit too much rock for Cynthia's arthritic feet at present, so we turned around at the end of the runway after watching one plane take off and one land.  Of course we were outside the fence, but it is only 30' from the runway.

8 Dec., Sun:  The rains (not snow for us) came and quickly decorated the trees with perfectly formed tear drops of ice dancing, shimming and glimmering in the sunlight.  The snowfall on mountains has turned the red mountains into a winter wonderland.  Sedona Police dispatcher reported a slick roadway near the bridge after initially being unwilling to divulge road conditions; she seemed to think I shouldn't be bothering her, so I had to badger her by rephrasing my question five times before she finally gave in and answered sensibly.  Icy roads precluded church attendance but they dried enough to ride to Reds for a late breakfast and to stock up on food at Safeway.  Cynthia's class Christmas letter is finished and mailed. We hiked for an hour and made plans for our departure the 21st of December or a few days earlier depending on the weather between here and Dallas.  Whatever day we depart we will visit Ron's 97- and 98-year old Mechem cousins in Scottsdale and perhaps have dinner with Rambo cousins Kay and Tom.  Weather is the big topic!

7 Dec, Sat:  Good news from Texas: Abigayle Elizabeth arrived at home in a midwife delivery at 5:00AM weighing 10 lbs and 12 ozs., 22.5 inches long.   It was a rough delivery requiring immediate hospitalization to stabilize the new mom.   Feature photo is Cynthia's daughter and son-in-law and Baby Abigayle.  It was too frigid to attempt the drive into Sedona, but not too cold to hike doing the loop trail.  Ron continues transcribing the voice recorder from his AT hike and remembering stories he forgot to record.  This will be the next best seller!  Cheryl (the Bankson cousin who winters in the Sun City area heard from another Bankson cousin who plans to drive from CA to meet us this coming Thurs.  Snow is predicted tonight 100%.

6 Dec, Fri: Despite frigid temps the Smooch Family boogied to breakfast at Red's by 10:15 AM.  Mrs. Smooch took the cure: mani at 11:30, omitting the pedi since I was pleasantly surprised with a reminder a Bankston genealogy cousin is meeting us for lunch at Red's at 12:30.  We left the house in heated gear at 32 degrees, with the bike loaded thirty feet higher than the top case containing Ron's prized treasures for Recycle Heaven.  The Christmas postcard project was ready to pick up after an absolutely delightful afternoon with a Bankston cousin, Cheryl.  She enjoyed Ron's stories.  Just look at those happy faces!  Cheryl has commandeered three Bankstons for the YDNA project including a 90 year old uncle.   The inclusion of the three Bankston males brings to four of the five sons of Lawrence Bankston (b. 1704) who are tested in the YDNA project - most of them to 111 markers.  Ron's YDNA article about the Bankston project was in the las tissue of the Swedish Colonial Society Newsletter; Cynthia is in charge of the Bankston YDNA project with the unique results recently published in a Swedish YDNA periodical.  I will have to ask Google Translator tell us what we said.
Ron and Cousin Cheryl Having Waaay Too Much Fun!

Dec, Thurs:  The outside temperature is supposed to reach freezing by nine AM.  Cynthia doesn't do cold and opted out of morning; please awaken her at noon.  He did;  the super delicious omelets were prepared by sous chef Ron.  Our hike started at 3:14-ending at 5:00 PM.  Great sunshiny day despite cold.  Ron was delighted to discover Dr. Craig's code for the strange notes on the family group sheets.   We enjoyed a quiet night; he mending after completing the Great Recycling Project for delivery to Recycle Heaven tomorrow.  Cynthia mailed her revised Spirit in the South manuscript via Dropbox for its second printing.  As her class correspondent, she writes the annual Christmas newsletter.  Three pages to go and the Mac balked; it is hung up.   Good night!

Watch for the 7 Habits of a Healthy Relationship written by the Beatty Funny Beattys

4 Dec, Wed:  It is too weird when neither of us knows the day of the week.  Is this Tues. or Wed? We do know the temperature is very cold and rainy.  We spent the most of the day in the cottage, yet, we managed an hour hike.  The hike was not long enough to burn energy that led to sleep which happened at the late hour of midnight thirty.

3 Dec: It feels pretty cold already, although worse is coming.  Ron is up early to transcribe Appalachian Trail voice recorder before resuming honey-do Christmas postcard mailing project.  Cynthia wore her heated coat as has become usual for the ride to Reds for breakfast.  I'm guessing that Ron will cook omelets at the cottage for the next several days of cold snap.  It will be interesting going to church at 8AM Sunday morning when the high is forecast to be 37 and the low 18.  We reversed direction of our longest hike to date, starting along Oak Creek (with pause for cutting & killing poison ivy), up the hill to the road, and on to the Ridge Trail uphill and down to the Carroll Canyon Trail connector to the Old Post Trail (hard to imagine driving a team with wagon on that trail) and downhill from there into the arroyo to our "home" in the trailer park.

2 Dec, Mon: DRAT! reports three more days of good hiking.  The next ten days (TEN!)  43 degree high is forecast.  That's as cold as Ron keeps the inside of the cottage.  We were up late, into breakfast late, hiked late, but still had a good day.  Amazing to see that the pools in the trail had dried up entirely so quickly after the diversion gate from the ditch was closed.  Trail maintenance today involved clipping and brush killing more poison ivy.  The Christmas postcard honey-do project is nearing completion, and Cynthia was delighted by arrival of DAR James Lea information (which is bogus) and of DNA results pointing to a new cousin.

1 Dec, Sun:  We made it to the church on time; brrr it was cold.  Breakfast at Red's ended past noon.
View next to our Cottage
Cynthia napped while Ron typed.   At 3:50 we started hiking returning at 5:30.  The canals needed re-routing; Ron fixed by opening the main gate and closing the diversion gate.

Cynthia here lest you think Ron is writing about Advent.   Today is the first Sunday in Advent marking the first day of the new Christian year.  December marks the last month of our calendar year;  the end is drawing near:  24 shopping days, Christmas cards to write, three weeks to hike!

Stephen Covey is credited with the phrase “begin with the end in mind.”  He included this maxim among his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  I first read that book at the suggestion of one of my favorite cousins who was a motivational speaker for Stephen.   Jim is one of the most delightful, up-beat persons I know.  I wanted to be like Jim; hence I immediately bought and read the book.   I have been chasing those habits since then.  Beginning or ending, especially shopping, writing and  hiking, begin with the end in mind.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

1.  Be proactive. Don’t stand still. Take the initiative and be responsible.

2.  Begin with the end in mind. Start any activity, a meeting, run, day, or life, with an end in mind. Work to that end and make sure your values are aligned with your goals.
3.  Put first things first. Prioritize your life so you’re working on the important stuff.
4.  Think win/win. Not everything has to be “I win, you lose”.  Creatively find ways so that everyone wins together.
5.  Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Listen to empathize, obtain information, and understand the other person’s point of view remembering the rules of debate. 
6.  Synergize. Work to create outcomes that are greater than the individual parts.
7.  Sharpen the saw. Cultivate the essential elements of your character: physical, mental, social/emotional, and spiritual.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

November Tales and Trails

30 Nov: No plans as yet.  We hope to wake up, God willing.  Transcriptions are beginning to lose appeal, so Ron may do differently tomorrow.   Indeed we did differently today; we routed yesterday's hike in reverse allowing more time to add in the Carroll Canyon Trail completing the long loop.   On the way out of the subdivision three cute little girls set up a "booth" with grocery bags for sale (one dollar) and membership in their Save the World club (a quarter).  Alas, no cash, or we would have joined.   Ron has been curious about walking the arroyo so about 2:00 PM we bounded down to follow the rocks and rills missing today's heavy road traffic taking us right to the Old Post Trail which leads to the Carroll Canyon Trail which connects to the Ridge Trail.  The sun was setting as we crossed the open views from the slickrock above the park to finish about 5:15; we did such a good job; the total hike was about 5 miles.

29 Nov: Plan is to join Mike & Maria for dinner at the Barking Frog prior to their Saturday departure.  We enjoy their new-found love which looks so like ours; we four make a joyful noise.  Cynthia has taken a liking to Maria's nickname for Ronnie Ponnie.  Maria in turn is Maria Tortilla, a good friend of Ron's since the late 70's. (see June Santa Fe blog photos).  Breakfast at Red's and now off to hike for the day at the crack of afternoon.  Life is good.  Another nice hike, this time including the ramshead trail.  One of these days we will have time to add in the Carroll Canyon trail for a long loop.

28 Nov:  Happy Thanksgiving.  Cynthia has already sent that message via text to her half of the world while I was trimming flowers and hanging laundry late last evening.  It is another nippy morning; says 38 degrees at 7AM.  Ron has been so good, hiding junk so that we can invite Maria & Mike to see the cottage before they leave Saturday.  The plan is to meet them for breakfast at Reds (our treat) and enjoy an easy hike without any falls or mishaps.  (Ron was trying to walk and talk yesterday and slid on a steep bit of gravel.  We are happy to report no injury therefrom.)  The day went as planned: breakfast with Maria & Mike at Reds.  We were all a bit surprised that they received none of our 4.5 voice messages until they were already halfway in to town.  Apparently Enchantment is not cell phone friendly.  We were done with breakfast and out of Reds slightly after the crack of noon and decided to hike our usual hour and a half hike.  By 2:45 Mike and Maria declared our "usual" hike to have awesome scenery.  After goodbyes, Cynthia and I rushed ready and onto the motorcycle to join Pastors David & Gwen for dinner with Bob and Tod and Jackie, all delightful people and good conversationalists.  All in all, another beautiful day to be thankful.  And then we made the mistake of opening the bedroom window to cool off.  We should have circled the house first, sniffing for Javelina.  God Almighty, what a stench!  Amazing to think that Javelinas eat prickly pear.
Maria Tortilla and Maria's Mike

Ain't Love Grand

Most embarrassing picture I've taken recently

We've Been Framed

God's Grandeur

27 Nov:  Early AM again.  No javalinas to be seen.   Not quite so brisk as yesterday.  High forecast to be 57 degrees.  We are looking forward to dinner tomorrow with Pastor David & his delightful wife, Gwen (also Pastor Gwen).   After our typical late morning breakfast at Reds and a good hike, Maria and Mike presented us with a HUGE surprise by calling from our driveway.  Maria was uncertain that we were still here (amazing to me that people still wonder when WhereIsRon tells all - or almost all), and they've been in Sedona several days before their explorations brought them close to Red Rock Crossing where eagle-eyed Maria spotted the blue BMW motorcycled nestled next to the cottage.  We all trouped down to the crossing and spotted a couple of duckies in the water.  We had dinner reservations at the Barking Frog where Maria and Mike had just finished filling themselves.  We were all much amused by that, and not only did they give us a ride and sit with us, they even forgave our manners as we talked with our mouths full.  Cynthia was practically ecstatic to be able to dress up for dinner in something other than motorcycle gear.  To cap the night off, I saw a couple of javalinas very clearly, thanks to the porch light.  Those wild porkers are surprisingly big.

26 Nov:  My goodness, did we skip the whole month?  Last time I registered a date it was about November 10th.  Time flies when you're having fun.  This morning was beautiful and crisp here in Sedona, frost underfoot although not gilding the brush like yesterday.  The river (Oak Creek) is an inch lower this morning, and the steam rising in the early morning light was lovely.  No sign of the duckies and the great blue heron.  It was a surprise to see that the arroyo out back of our Creekside Cottage is filled with water backed up from the creek; normally the arroyo is absolutely DRY.  Ron is up early today to work on his voice recorder transcriptions from the Appalachian Trail in 2008.  (He is so up-to-date on his projects!)  Pause for another trip outdoors to gaze at the faint pink on the horizon.  Oh, and there is a balloon in the sky; pretty nippy weather for that.  He also replied to the latest genealogy inquiry by encouraging the correspondent to join the Swedish Colonial Society so that he could request a 20-page manuscript Peter Craig wrote about the Nebeker family of New Jersey.  Now back to transcriptions.  Oh, and smooch to my beloved; betcha you're surprised that Ron updated the blog this once.  Breakfast at Reds as usual.  Hike along creek, up hill, and back on Ridge Trail mostly as usual (one new excursion through the underbrush on an animal trail).  We were home early enough to ride into town to dinner of fish in paper and baked sweet potato fries at the Old Sedona Bar & Grill (recommended).  Ron finished mending the worn-out pants torn on a kitchen drawer knob.  He actually finished mending the hole that resulted from using a cotton setting on nylon to fix the original patch more securely (a "comedy" of errors there).

25 Nov, Mon: Its a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  Hi Dick.  Days like today remind me of your upbeat, cheery mantra on those morning marches through Irmo SC.  The sun is shining brightly in the blue skies over Sedona,  too, after a three day steady rain.  Sedona may have exceeded its annual rainfall in only three days.  The creek is lower today, although some trails have high water.

Excited to see snow on the ridge, we braved 27 degree temp at 9:00 AM for breakfast at Red's.  Gerbing's heated gear kept Cynthia warm while Ron, being a chronic hypothermic, was comfortably cool.  Super after breakfast hike took us on the north side of the  Ramshead Trail to Old Post Road with a return by road, the total distance about four miles.  Techie Ron re-took our Christmas Beatty Funny Family Foto using the timer on the GoPro and his camera with such good results he decked the halls and hung the stocking with care.

Santa Claus gift link to sign up  for Stash Co. Wednesday deeply discounted Purses/bag:

Prepare for Santa by gifting your little ones a chimney with attached house,  Google: 13506 Northshore Drive, 77356

The height of mortification is to email a college writing prof while unable to stay awake?  Auto Correct is our worst enema.

24 Nov,  Sun: Sistah Carol wanted to know if we survived the night on the raft/Ark. Ron explained it worked great until he fell asleep exhausted and Cynthia "redecorated" by moving the outhouse from the middle to a corner.  Yes.  Need you ask?  It did indeed rain last night, and at 6am, color radar showed a wintery mix on the high ground near the high school on the only road into town.   Ron managed to crawl back onto the raft to dry out.  At 7am the wintery mix had moved on and the temperature was a balmy 39 degrees, but there was a big green blob engulfing the church.  At 7:10, he returned to bed to check Cynthia's preferences.  Easy call:  "I wanna sleep!"  We did.  11:30 AM... despite the mist, we paddled into Sedona for a super breakfast at Red's.  Exciting  turn of events in our search for the original notes of the Rev. Lorenzo Lea, last having seen the light of publication in 1977 in the home of a descendant in Lookout Mountain, TN.  Ron googled the name of the descendant and found her grandson with the same unique name.  He fired off an e-mail to Oberlin and discovered a very amusing, articulate and charming maybe-cousin whose father has the very family Bible we wish to have examined by a forensic document specialist.   Life is good.  On our hike this afternoon, we hiked through the fields to avoid mud and water expected near the river and returned via the Ridge Trail, very little mud and delightfully stable footing.  A good time was had by all of the survivors.

23, Nov. Sat: Rain Rain, Rain.  All night long the rains came stopping long enough to hike and do lunch:  with a break in the rain, we jogged out the door for a great hike exploring the high water in Oak Creek.  The break held long enough we were able to travel into Sedona for a real meal and stocked our cupboards once again.  Google is too funny... what a riot, animated games in the Google Logo brought belly busting laughter for a fun evening.

22. Nov, Fri:  Rain, Rain, Rain.  The dry arroyo behind the house is full of water.    Early AM, Ron saw four duckies,  and the Blue Heron.  Sitsah Carol sent a remindah  to pound the nails firmly into the ark using new 2x2's and 4x4's angled at the corner for speedy construction.  Also... Pack plenty of food, mobile hotspot, etc. in plastic.  The creek, she is a risin'!!!  Good thing we are used to being together 24-7  cuz that ark has close quarters.  We managed a fast 45 minute boogie along Oak Creek before the sky started cryin' agin.  Twice!  Daughter-in-law is released from the hospital and is doing well.   We may run out of food by Sunday.

21, Nov. Thursday:  Familiar morning topic the past few days, "Guess what I dreamed last night!"  "James Lea?"  "Yeah, which one?"   Interesting life, writing and editing a book.  Ron cooked omelets, cleaned house, Cynthia is reading  and typing.  Two Hikes before 5:30, and the rain threatened.     A young woman  we met on the upper road hiked down the Ridge Trail; we met again in the park when we took the Creek Trail. Almost five-thirty it was turning dark enough she would have problems going around the mud puddles. We walked her back together, but it became too dark for Cynthia to see very well. Ron, with eyes that see in the dark, finished taking her to the clearing.     Chilly.

20 Nov, Wed: Financials examined. Vegetables cut for omelets at home.  At eleven AM the water pressure was zero. The neighbors do not have water either.  Five hours until the water is restored.  Darn. Good time to hike. We made it to the pump and back dry as raindrops began to fall.     Three month pregnant daughter-in-law had emergency appendectomy last night which went fine, but she now has peritonitis.  Baby is fine. 13 year old Zoe reassured her grandmother she is keeping her expectant parents calm.  Zoe thanked her grandmother for understanding what she is going through: happiness and sadness, no longer on only child,  stress of mom's very high risk pregnancy and parents who are basket cases.

19 Nov, Tues: Two hikes, chilly day.  Early to bed.

18 Nov, Mon: Sleep deprived after a LOONNNNGGGG evening at the computer,  we did not awaken until 9 AM!   Now, the ms is nearly ready to upload to the publisher once we figure out how that works.   We had a productive day, bills paid,  scissors and knives sharpened,  plural hikes (AM and PM, magnificent views; plus an invite to garden with the super nice neighbors.  Another grandchild is on the horizon for late May in a very high risk pregnancy.   Time Magazine's special edition, "The Body,"  is filled with gems.  I appreciated the section on the mind-body connection; both of us enjoyed the section on exercise: "Walk the Talk,  Just Do It."  The article had very few words about diet, but, instead, focused on movement:   "How many times are grand plans made and not followed through because of laziness?  Our very lives depend on the follow - through - no - matter - what."

17 Nov, Sun:  7:22 AM.  Get up???  Aaaauuuughhhhh.  So who is going to get out of bed first?  OK,  together!!!  We arose dressing warmly for the trip to Christ Lutheran in 50 degree weather.   The sermon was well worth sleep deprivation.  Love our congregation!  Red's Restaurant provided another super breakfast; Claudia appreciates the "big tipper."  Ron loves the hugs.  He hardly worked while Cynthia slept the afternoon away until a hike beckoned --- followed by a soup supper at home.  Now, out of soup and supplies, Ron warned,   "We have to get up at the crack of dawn to get supplies in Sedona."  Ron exaggerates :)...  Good reading on the IPad:  Dr. Charles Krauthammer's book, "Things That Matter."  The journalist and political commentator, writes with wisdom stemming from his former occupation as a psychiatrist.  The title is suggestive of another one of my favorites, "A Little Compendium on That Which Matters," written by Dutch philosopher Frederick Franck about 1968; it is available on Amazon.  Kidnap victim Elizabeth Smart's candid book is an act of courage itself.

16 Nov, Sat:  Ron cooked delicious omelets for breakfast before we took off to hike  the Ridge Trail all the way to Airport Loop on a chilly day, commenting on our high energy hiking in cool weather. Last night we were up late obsessing about James Lea; Ron discovered a unique search feature for Southern pension records.  Cynthia's manuscript is almost ready to combine text and supporting documents. We are waiting for DAR records about a death date plus a response from the owner of the Lea/Rose Bible to hopefully allow forensic studies of a critical page. Our trip to the archives in NC will wind it up for a May publication date using Lulu (probably) this time.

15  Nov, Fri: Red's for breakfast sometime around noon - thirty.  Hiked the canyon trail to the upper road.  Very cool today.  Dinner with our pastor David and his lovely wife Gwen, a Presbyterian pastor plus Joyce and George from church.  David was a head chef in his former life before he matriculated into Wartburg Seminary (Cynthia's).  The melt-in-your-mouth dinner was extraordinary.  So was David's HO Santa Fe train set that occupies a third bedroom.  Oh, what fun!!! The downside was traveling home in rain.  Ron's pants and shirt front were soaked.  Cynthia was warm and dry with heated gear and helmet.  She can verify helmets cause accidents because she could not see but Ron could.  He misses the glasses he lost at Chimney Rock in CO that would have kept the eyes dry.

14 Nov, Thurs: shop, hike to the Ridge Trail.  Cynthia lost her sunglasses.  Hero Ron turned around to discover the glasses and a glorious sunset . NOW, get ready for more fun photos:

Oak Creek at Red Rock Crossing

West Fork Trail

High Canyon Walls

Yeah! WOW!  

Fall Leaves like Shook Gold

Ridge Trail

O Beautiful For Spacious Skies


Javelinas at Red's

Fall Foliage
Prickly Pear Cactus in Abundance on the Ridge Trail

Ridge Trail View

Another Great View

13 Nov, Wed: Eat, Zainey's Shop, Maintenance hike because it is too  warm.
12 Nov. Tues. Editing, hiking and writing consume our days.  Yet, spring and summer plans are falling in place: January is Texas time for medical appointments, plus Ron's side trip to Illinois to sell  Dale's games to a collector delighted to buy them so super  el cheapo. Maybe... Ron will RIDE thru the frozen tundra to the Archives in NC to meet Smooch Smooch's flight.
 April 5, Rachel and Ryan's wedding
 April 25th, Cynthia's seminary, honoree for distinguished alumnae of 2014.
April 26,  depart to Philadelphia with stops in Louisiana and SC.
May 29 depart Philadelphia on British Airways to Belfast; probably buy a motorcycle there.
July 1 ferry to Scotland, stay near Dumfriesshire to research Ron's genetic connection to the Littles of the Clan Little(Borders Rievers)
July 8, ferry, England to Denmark
July 10, ferry from  Copenhagen to Oslo, Norway for 12 days of touring on our own
July 22, train from Oslo to Bergen for the Brekke Historic and Scenic Tour of Norway
August 4,  Oslo to pick up the motorcycle
August 5, Oslo to Gothenburg, Sweden by bike
August 8, Gothenburg to Stockholm
August 12, Stockholm to Oslo ... Ship motorcycle to states???
August 14, Flight: Oslo to Philadelphia

11 Nov Mon:  Ron arose EARLY to cut veggies for omelets.  Plans to hike early were delayed. You know you are still a bride after 2.5 years when (for no reason) I love You is written on the bathroom mirror, Rose petals are strewn on the bed covers, and vases of flowers appear wherever she sits.

10 Nov. Sunday: the Santa Smooches dressed in red to take a Christmas photo after worship.  Enjoyed a very lovely breakfast with Dale, Linda and grandson with his beautiful brilliant fiancĂ©e from Holland.  Mr. Smooch found some cute!!! Cute!!! Decorations for the SleighCycle Beatty Funny Family Foto.  Someone is very proud of his Foto Idea.

9 Nov. Sat.: one of us had a long overdue haircut.  Cynthia received a funny video of  a large lumpy stomach in constant motion of new grand baby Abigayle due In three weeks.

8 Nov. Friday, Auuuggghhh !  We are too busy to remember. We eat hike and write! Hiked the Ridge Trail to the Canyon Pass. Long, great hike.

7 Nov. Cynthia's sermon is now uploaded to Christ Lutheran Sedona, under leadership drop down box, Pastor David, sermons for Nov. 3.

6  Nov, Wed: hiked the Ridge Trail and continued work editing Cynthia's manuscript.

5  Nov. Tues: a Glorious day with super photos of the gorgeous white Sycamore trees in front of the cottage. Short hike, lots of work accomplished including champagne for porch time.

4 Nov. Monday:  What to do while Cynthia is sleeping and the computer is busy uploading the video?  Cut vegetables for omelets?  Oh, boy!  Omelets pleased the bride!  We were off  early to hike the West Fork Trail 10 miles N of Sedona.  The moderately rated trail had little elevation gain, but it did have countless ups and downs plus 13 creek crossings.  We enjoyed Carmen and Rosa,  two very delightful folks we met on the trail where it ended deep in the canyon, unless we wanted to continue the 2.3 miles in thigh high water to the campground.  The hike, our longest in three weeks, tired us enough we hit the sack early.

3 Nov. Sunday: Rise and Shine!  We did!  Cynthia had to be at worship by eight AM in the  COLD... She preached both services, and we were off to breakfast at Red's.  Go Pro used to video the sermon did not successfully get uploaded to Picasa despite 36 hours of extreme patience. You Tube has a 15 minute limit per video.

1 Nov., Friday:  All Saints Day... The days begin to flow into consistency.  We eat, have a g
Fun time at Zainey's, drop our mail at the PO, hike and return to computer work.  The temperature warmed up for a super hike up the Ridge Trail.  The address book is nearly completed.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

October Trails and Tales

30 October, Wed: The news is better today with the prediction Obamacare will die a natural death by Dr. Charles Krauthammer:   The  ride into town was chilly; we will hike early!!!

29 Oct, Tues:  The day was chilly; we hiked for an hour with plans to hike later in the day. Instead, caught up with our various projects, we hardly worked.  The address book has been updated; almost all of the contacts have received a post card.  If you did not, Hollar!!!   Our Christmas card will be a Beatty Fun Foto of the Santa Smooches on the SleighCycle. The charger for the tape recorder batteries arrived so transcriptions can continue.  Cynthia (ever so thrifty) found a great deal for a 128 GB flash drive for $ 89.00 at Staples.   She had Staples scan lot of documents for print, placed on the flash drive which will become the new video flash drive.  Ron is editing (woe is I) while she is discovering new documentation for her book, "James Lea, James Lea, and James Lea,  Caswell County, North Carolina 1790"... solving a decades old mystery that will unmask one of the three men named James Lea as the husband of a Bankston daughter.  Wisdom for the day broke through the gloom of bad news: Pay attention to grace that comes to you on this day.  Be thankful.  Just be thankful and don't read the news.  Nice hike and cozy evening.  Guess who cooked?

28 Oct, Monday.  Good Morning America:  the Republicans are to blame because the ObamaCare website does not work.  Despite the promise from Mr. O that no one would lose their personal insurance, the morning news told the horror story of  half of Blue Cross and other individual personal insurance are being cancelled.  Todd Starnes and his wife Audrey Hudson had their home invaded by US Marshals, Maryland Coast Guard with a search warrant for guns, anything about guns.  The Starnes Hudson duo are journalists.  What the US Marshals took instead of guns were their files of documents and hand-written notes about the Federal Marshals:   and Mr. O ordered the surveillance of the German Chancellor's telephone since 2001.   Great job!!!   And the DHS is considering allowing Libyan Nationals into our country to study aviation??? Whew.   More after we digest our food.

We had a great hike despite the wind and cooler day.  Using the GoPro for the hike strapped to Cynthia's backpack as a harness will be interesting to watch tonight.  We may have a 30 minute video of her nose.

27 Oct., Saturday:  We didn't learn the name of the very bright 30 year old guy hiking with his mom and sister all from Israel, but he held us spell-bound describing the mid-east political situ, "Follow the money," he said.  "Throughout the Mid-east, and now in Europe people are so crowed, they cannot have homes, jobs and food.  That is why they are fighting.  That is the crux of the situ in Israel and the West Bank.  It has not happened here in America yet, but it is happening."  Wish we had learned his name or goten his address.

The week passed quickly.  Transcribing the tape recorder from the AT hike has progressed nicely albeit there are errors in the transcription.   The tape recorder is plugged into the Mac and transfers quickly during our breakfasts and dinners in town.  The Batteries in the recorder died.  Cynthia ordered a battery charger from Amazon that arrived in one day!  The AT hike may become a book, slated to become a best seller containing the beginnings of our romance.  WooWoo!!

Cynthia has completed the manuscript of James Lea X 3.  Ron's job is to edit.  She likes to throw the bull over the fence some hay.  She is awaiting research from the N.S.D.A.R.,  Raquel and Rick from Caswell County Historical Society before she publishes the breakthrough discovery on Lulu.

21-27 see above:

20 Oct, Sunday:  Christ Lutheran is a very nice place to worship.   The hike today was  a preview of the week to come:  The Plein (outdoor) Sedona Arts Festival is underway.  The park is filled with photographers and artists.  We have taken many pictures of the artists soon to be published here.  SOON!  We gotta find time.\

19Oct, Sat: St. Olaf's orchestra: ( in Cottonwood was so enjoyable.  The program's nicest moments were  Mozart's Marriage of Figaro,  Don Juan op.20,  Claude Debussy's Prelude a l'apres midi d'un faune, Gershwin's familiar American in Paris.  The standing ovations brought an encore, too.   St. Olaf College is 7 miles from Nerstrand, MN.

A story about Nerstrand, MN and St. Olaf:  (Cynthia here)  My great grandparents emigrated from Flaa, Buskerud County, NOR in May, 1861 from Drammen, entering Quebec, then Wisconsin where they drove by covered wagon to Nerstrand, Rice County, Minnesota to join Margit Wold/Vold and her husband Jon  Hellerud,  among others from Norway.  They participated in building Valley Grove Lutheran  Church ( a hill overlooking the beautiful rolling hills of Minnesota completed late in 1861.   The active congregation outgrew the building which became a parish hall and they built a "new" church a few yards away now surrounded by a large cemetery.   The church was active for many years and then dwindled to the point the doors had to close.  Except, to keep their charter, they must have one service a year.  The service was Christmas Eve, a service so popular people drive from the Cities to Valley Grove to experience the beauty of this small country church that is on the cover of the Most Beautiful Churches of Minnesota.  Fast forward to 1995:  after several years of invitations to preside at worship,  I was able to make that trip on a Christmas Eve.  My grandson and I flew into MPLS and drove through heavy, wet snow without a GPS to Valley Grove.  Amazingly, we found the church on the darkest of nights.   The Christmas tree, cut by my cousin John Hellerud  (a descendant of Margit and Jon Hellerud), was so huge, it filled the entire chancel to the ceiling.   The aroma of hot apple cider and warm cookies  filled the  sanctuary; the sight of worn Heart of pine wooden floors, with real, red lit candles in the windows will be remembered.   But, that was only the beginning of the delights for the sanctuary quickly filled to standing  room only.  IMAGINE 400 voices singing four part harmony, the songs they love the best accompanied by two flautists, three
violinists and a magnificent pipe organ played by a most accomplished organist!!!  I could not hold back the tears dropping down my cheeks.   I climbed into the very tall pulpit ... And commented , " You sound like the St Olaf Choir.  They laughed.  After worship, during fellowship time, I learned that many of the guests were indeed faculty from St. Olaf.    My favorite Christmas Eve!!  See the link for newsletter and photos.

18 Oct., Fri:  Two pleasant hikes!  Dinner at  Dale and Linda's beautiful home; they are  new friends we met from church.  She is a super cook.

17 Oct., Thurs:  The parks are due to open again today after the ridiculous ruse perpetrated on the American people.   Sistah Carol writes re our daughter:  "Carole Anne lost one of her chickens yesterday.  It had a huge tumor.  Now she is begging to go to Rural King to see if they have any more chicks there.  Eric got a new chick that is all white and she is jealous because he has two and she only has one."  Isn't she just the cutest three year old?  She looks exactly like her daddy.

  Here is a link to the photos taken in the Red Canyon, Monument Valley UT and Sedona, AZ  .

16 Oct, Wed:  Cynthia, this blog needs photos!   Glorious day!  Cynthia is pain free following lumbar epidural injections, the hand is nearly healed.  We enjoyed breakfast at Red's, mailed post cards and Halloween cards, skipped Zainey's, hiked five hours with one scary accident: a stick broke with one end narrowly missing the right eye.  Cause for belting out the doxology LOUD!!!  Really!  We did.   Lots of projects are getting accomplished.  Writing  projects are lined up for our two month stay in Sedona:  the Rambo CD to be completed, the James Lea book readied for the publisher, volume 3 of the Bankston book revised; we plan  to use Lulu Publishing House this time.  Exciting discoveries in the Bankston's DNA occurring monthly.  The refrigerator is so well stocked we dined in tonight.   We received the package Roy mailed from Salt Lake today.  Thank you Roy!!!  Life is good!

15 Oct, Tues.  Etc.  Etc. Etc., same as Sedona yesterday, only we shopped at Staples's to order a Class 10 64GB mini SD card for the GoPro camera.  It will arrive on Thursday along with a gorillion cute shoes and outfits from TX :D   Reviewing the Rambo index of five volumes, now separated for uploading to the website as individual volumes, is nearly completed.  Cynthia's sermon is written  on the Lord's Prayer for Nov. 3rd.  We hiked the Secret Trail again taking some very pretty pictures of light and shadow plays on the rocks and plants.   Dinner this evening at the Olde Sedona Bar and Grill was the same yummy baked sweet potato french fries, large salad without dressing,  white fish baked with vegetables in parchment paper.  Zip added fat.  The stop at Safeway's was fruitful:  we now have four rain check coupons for four 12 packs of diet cherry soda at $2.67 apiece.   News:  it doesn't  get any better;  the same negative news has people boiling mad at the so- called shutdown with most people here  realizing who is responsible, yet most do not know the  real issue is not about getting ObamaCare to the poor and needy, but protecting the elected elite from having to participate in ObamaCare.  Sure, the politicians cry, "everyone will benefit," but don't force the Congress to participate.  And, have you heard about the parks that are kept open in D.C. And other places where Democrat senators run?  Read USA Today, today.

14 Oct, Mon:  After over-eating at Red's, loading the shopping cart at Safeway, mailing another stack of post cards, stocking the refrigerator,  hiking through the park (and noticing cars in the parking lot behind locked gates for the park) we once again climbed the hill and hiked the rim trail to Red Rock Crossing Road.  We listened to howling coyotes in the distance.  Dinner at the Barking Frog was marvelous, followed by yet another shopping trip at Safeway where the roses are spectacular!  Make that WERE!   Now, even more glorious, they grace the table in Creekside Cottage.

13 Oct, Sunday, Sedona:  We arrived at the Creekside Cottage today after attending worship service at Christ Lutheran and enjoying breakfast at Reds and seeing Claudia, our favorite waitress there.  Dessert at Zaineys was as much fun as ever, especially with so many no-fat varieties to chose.  Unfortunately there was only one sugar-free variety, but Cynthia has discovered a supply of fat free, sugar free caramel, so she is one happy girl.  Another absurdity from our president, Red Rock Crossing Park is closed; why close a tiny park run entirely by a concessionaire where neither Cynthia nor I EVER saw a forest service employee in a month of regular attendance?  Obvious evidence to me of a bully who just has to throw a tantrum and show everyone that he has power.  I'm impressed all right; bullying always impresses me very negatively.  Did you know the shutdown is costing 630 million dollars a day? (Editorial USA Today, 14 Nov).  Park employees will receive back pay for their months vacation, but the restaurants, lodges, and small towns hit by this economic disaster are receiving nothing.  Oh, food bank trucks have been sent from Sedona to some of those areas.  The counter view talking points are stuck on one track:  We need to pay and the fiasco would end.  Right!   USA Today (today) makes the point that folks only heard the word free and now the zombies are awake and they are hungry.  There is no free lunch.  We hiked through the park and up the hill to the secret slick rock trail.  After hiking, as we rode into town at 5:30, the views were accently amazingly well by the lengthening shadows.  We dined at the Barking Frog and stocked up on diet cherry coke from Safeway.  (Never fear, we did not neglect nutrition.  We also bought BOTH wine and champagne.)

12 Oct:  Village of Oak Creek.  Today we hiked a different portion of the Big Park Loop and dined again on baked sweet potato fries and fish in paper at the Olde Sedona Bar and Grill.

11 Oct:  We switched hotels from the Quality Inn to the Wildflower Inn.  Sarabeth was true to her word and put us into an upstairs room with a wonderful view of Bell Rock and Courthouse Butte.  The only drawback was that the window looks across a walkway, so it was not possible to enjoy the morning view while still in bed.  We tried breakfast at the Blue Moon Cafe, but their omelets seemed too oily despite our explicit order.  On the other hand, the grilled chicken salad was marvelous.  Today we resumed our daily hiking after walking 200 yards from the Inn to the Bell Rock parking area.  Our hike was part of the Big Park Loop adjacent to Bell Rock.

10 Oct:  The ride from Flagstaff at noon to Sedona was quite cold starting at 39 degrees and dropping to 36 at the highest pass where there was snow beside the roadway and sleet in the air.  It is reassuring that the bike tells me the temperature so that I could be unconcerned about ice or frost on the roadway.  We didn't expect colder temperatures after leaving Flagstaff and were not quite prepared.  Cynthia was chilled despite turning her Gerbings gear to its highest heat setting.  Next time we ride into 36 degree weather, we will put her into the Montbell down undies or the Frogg Toggs wind protection.  The fun part is that Cynthia was awestruck by Monument Valley one day and by Sedona the next.  We actually stopped short of Sedona at the Village of Oak Creek on highway 179, the scenic approach to Sedona.

9 Oct:  We ended today in Flagstaff, AZ after a chilly ride over the flank of San Francisco Peaks, 7286' elevation and 53 degrees temperature.  Amusing (after the fact) that we were pleasantly warm at Cameron where we stopped at the Thunderbird Cafe for a beer.  The temperature started dropping as soon as we left town from 75 to 70 to 65 to 60 to 53.    Lodging opportunities in Flagstaff were limited, and it was expensive because so many tourists have had their accommodations in the National Parks canceled by the malicious decision to close down the tourism industry in these Republican states. Lots of trails, tales and tears have occurred since the last post observing the effects of one man's destructive actions on OUR National Parks.   The good folks at the market in Springdale, UT posted a notice of assistance for food to park employees and those affected by the crisis.  More on this later!!!  Just VOTE out all incumbents.  Remember that any vote for any Republican or any Democrat or for a straight party ticket is a vote to retain the status quo.

This AM began in Kayenta, Arizona with a ride to Monument Valley, Utah, one of the most breathtakng spots in the US.  The new Go-Pro camera Ron bought Cynthia for her birthday is taking glorious photos.  If we  only had time to upload or converse about the travel!!!!

8 Oct: Arrived in Kayenta on the Navajo Indian Reservation with lodging at the Kayenta Inn.  We were quite surprised to find the lodging much more expensive than we expected.  The food was good.  So was the lodging, although we asked to be moved to quarters with an air conditioner.  We don't do nighttime heat well.

7 Oct., Mon:  A shorter hike today - still in the Red Canyon

6 Oct., Sun:  Hiked once again in the Red Canyon for 6 plus miles on the Cassady Ttrail.  Brayton Point Overlook was awesome.  Ron talked to Beanie about her need for a kidney donor... and said good-bye just as we approached an awesome view where he said views like this caused the song "How Great Thou Art" to f8ll his lungs, heart and mind.  AH  It is so true.  "When I in awesome wonder... ?  I believe that this was the day we enjoyed seeing three pronghorn antelope preparing to cross the roadside fence.  I've seen them closer only once, at night.

5 Oct, Sat: It is noon-thirty and we are en route to Zion National Park hoping the bozos in Washington can reach an agreement not laden with pork.  The ride from Ephraim reminded us of how challenging it is to find healthy food in some of the western states where they subsist on butter, biscuits and gravy and call that healthy.  We stopped 7 miles S of Panguitch, UT.  Don't bother trying to vacation in Panguitch.  (Hey Cynthia, the BBQ was pretty good, and I had fun with Hatch & Nancy at the Galaxy Diner.)   We are at the Bryce Western Resort  That may sound fancy but imagine going up the steps to the restaurant with the mops and brooms propped alongside the stairs.  The smoked chicken and pulled pork is very good, though, and so is the berry salad.  It just gets old after the third night.  YES!  We stayed here for three days.  It is close to the Red Canyon and good hiking that the Man in Charge has not closed.

4 Oct, Fri: Departing today for Zion National Park and only Ron knows the route. He is not sharing. I-Hop for breakfast where C asked the hostess if a diamond stud earring was turned in. No. Fat chance. But, the hostes asked where we had eaten yesterday. As we approached the booth that now held people, the hostess, Adriana, and Cynthia spotted the earring on the carpet right smack in the middle of the walkway to the booth. So amazing that it was not vacuumed up or that someone had not seen it. Happy Days ARE Here Again!!

Arrived in Ephraim, UT recognizing the hotel Willow Creek Inn where we spent a night three years ago. That was the night the lights went out in Ephraim! The City Cafe fed us an OK meal. They tried!!!

3 Oct: Thurs: I-Hop for breakfast. Most enjoyable lunch with Raquel and Stan in the Market Street Grill downtown. Raquel has done a great deal of research for Cynthia before Cynthia's retirement. The research will all go into her latest book, "James Lea, James Lea, James Lea, 1790 Caswell County" YIKES! In the LDS Library mid-afternoon Cynthia noticed a missing diamond stud earring. Certain it was in place this AM, we searched the library foyer and lost and found, the restaurant we dined at for lunch, the bed, the floor in our room. Bummer! Nada.

2 Oct. Wed: Cynthia returned to SLC from the ten day trip to TX. Laughter in our family is heard once again.

1 Oct, Tues: We are soliciting diapers and bottles to be shipped to both House and Senate.