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.