Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Rocks, and Sedona's Red Rocks are awesome

31 May is hot: 80 degrees with a real feel of 96 - but we hiked to Canyon Road at noon-thirty anyways. We managed another short hike at dinner time to spray poison ivy with the "cheap, natural sure killer formula." Ha! Three weeks of spraying barely distresses the buggers. The return walk at sunset was spectacular. Cathedral Rock was burnt orange with hot pink clouds that faded too quickly for a photo. Haze from a fire in Salt Water Canyon has blocked views the past two mornings. No word from the IRS regarding the audit; It may have been postponed because of flooding in Houston. And here we are at the end of May but not the end of red rocks. See you next month.
Casket pall at niece Pam's funeral 31 May 2016
30 May, Memorial Day 2016: Thankful, we are, for the fallen who have kept us free. Sedona's 82 degree temperature, with a real feel of 95, means we aren't exactly running out to hike hot rocks. We did clean the house, Ron's clothes were washed for another month and we have returned to our never ending computer projects until late afternoon cool-down. Granddaughter Zoe was one of two freshmen from her high school to be inducted into the National Thespian Society Sat. PM; she plans to attend Texas Lutheran U to become a drama teacher.
29 May, Sedona is filled with visitors, the park is packed with photographers, parties and picnickers, hikers and swimmers, too. Worship at Christ Lutheran Sedona (Memorial Day liturgy) was meaningful with celebratory fireworks (bubble wrap). We hiked the Secret Sliprock Trail and promptly needed a nap. It is a beautiful day and a happy life. Ron received two more orders for Family Group Sheets. We have only two weeks remaining in Sedona and each set is taking two weeks.
28 May, Wishing everyone a safe Memorial Day weekend. The AZ thermostat is rising; although the day is pleasant now, the sun's intensity will be felt mid-day. Our first stop was Verde Valley ER to have Cynthia's stitches removed. Why do they need to update the chart every time we return? Ron phoned a genealogy cousin In Texas and learned Anders Bengtsson was an orphan at age 16 when he set sail for New Sweden on the ship, "Mercurius."
27 May, Another good day with warmer temperatures in Sedona. Ron is updating Vol. 3 of the Rambo Tree; Cynthia recovered the corrected 1785-1805 Wilkes County, Georgia Tax Records from Raquel. The owner of our storage company phoned to let us know there was flooding into one of our two units. The high water has wreaked havoc in the wider Houston area with tragic flooding near Brenham and CONROE. Thank the Lord the house was sold. How really incredible that the house sold at our asking price the minute the buyer walked in the door.
26 May, We are healing. Ron sweat with chills again last night but awoke this morning without an elevated temperature. The weather is fabulous: sunny skies with gentle breezes made for hiking weather. After shopping at Basha's we hiked almost to Elbow's Rock excited that the FitBits buzzed 3/4 from finish of the hike. We have explored and hiked many of the really good Sedona area trails in years past; now, the easy fix is the trail a half block from the cottage every day. Looking ahead at the calendar departure is three weeks away. Ron, captain of destinations, asking, "Will it be Sacramento? It may be too hot to cross the Mojave mid-June. The most likely scenario is through Santa Fe to CO and maybe UT returning to Santa Fe mid-July." Cynthia is officiating at a baptism July 15th. From there who knows?
25 May, Ron awakened through the night with chills; he is allergic to seeing a doctor. Our fitness regime is to feed a cold and feed a fever, sage advice from Dr. Bro Dean. We look like fifty year old recycled Halloween costumes.
24 May: Our Sneezles/congestion is very wearing; yet, we ate happily and went to work on our projects straightaway. Today's fitness regime was measured by making the ascent to Canyon Road without stopping. One of us was successful; the other one stopped to munch on almonds and jelly beans. One of us feels significantly better than the other one due to positive attitude. Ahhhh! Choo!!! When we climbed we met a college senior from NAZ hiking ever so slowly; when we came down mountain, we met a young woman from N. CA hugging a tree that reminded her of home. People watching is ever so fascinating. Photos by Ron from the Ridge Trail overlooking Cathedral Rock:

23 May: We hab bahd cohds! Ahhh! Choo! But, we hiked beyond our Fitbit buzz.
22 May, Sunday: We hope to wake up, God willing. I love my Smooch Smooch. And her response is, "Awwwweeeee!" We did awaken, but it was too late for early worship so we resumed sleeping. Once launched, we ate breakfast at Red's, rode to Oak Creek for Chevron fuel, puzzled that the engine light came on, tried to locate the bread bakery that made fat free bread (it moved), tried the Hike Shop to buy parts to the Camelbak bladder and different laces for Cynthia's hiking shoes with no success, shopped at Basha's for food and sorbet, tried Cannon Outfitters to no avail. We are home with colds but happily in love forever. Amen.
21 May: The weather is marvelous, cool and breezy with the sun shining brightly. Ron delayed our breakfast run by first initiating the disk utility "verify and repair" for a file system problem that has been slowing down the Mac. Fortunately the computer still works ... and is much faster now. We enjoyed a leisurely morning and a cool ride to breakfast. After a bit of housecleaning (sorely needed), we spent the day on computers, and Ron left at 5 pm to hike briskly to the airport and back, arriving home just before dark (as usual). At the suggestion of Bro Dean, Ron began building a cairn where Cynthia fell, naming it "Elbow Rock." The many recent rainfalls have greened the mountains with blooming prickly pear cactus and ocotillo and a whole schlotta of unidentified green things, many also blooming. The house is clean, laundry done, bandages are changed on the poor wounded girlie's arm, and she is gone to bed. My turn now that an "I love you" is placed where Cynthia can easily find it. Salt water gargle, pills, tooth brushing and bed. Goodnight.
20 May: The weather is a delightful 79 degrees with partly cloudy skies. We are deep at work in Bankston revisions, but we stopped long enough to get in today's hike, starting at four PM and returning home by 7:30, enjoying cool breezes at the last. We Love it when our FitBits buzz with only 3/4 of the hike completed. Ron decided to gargle salt water since his sore throat is getting worse. Photo is a surreal view of Sedona from the Ridge Trail the night Cynthia slipped and fell.
Cynthia took this lovely picture high above West Sedona whilst hiking on May 16th
19 May: Ever-bashful Ron met a delightful young couple from Kentucky as they rode towards the park on a newer R1200RT BMW than our traded-in 2009. We all hiked together up the Oak Creek Trail to some good views and repaired to the Old Sedona Bar and Grille for dinner. That young couple seemed inclined to relax and enjoy their day - great way to spend the second day of their summer adventure. Ron is busily updating the Bankston Volume inclusion in the Swedish Colonial Society's package of Vacher's 1947 Genealogy of the Bankston Family.
18 May: Our first stop was Verde Valley ER to follow up on Cynthia's poor wounded elbow and probable early bronchitis. We enjoyed the very delightful RN, 80% Norwegian from Fargo, ND, whose face lit up at the story of Ole and Sven discovering the Grand Canyon. Actually, her face lit up at every opportunity. After breakfast we boogied to Walgreens for RX and bandage supplies; Ron was caught in the act of searching for the perfect belated Hallmark Anniversary card for Smooch Smooch. (What a deal !! He showed her all the cards that were "almost good enough," and got lotsa points !!) Rain fell gently at the terminus of our ride home. Ron spent the day doing a project for the SCS and is dejected that some critical Bankston updates are not easily remembered. Cynthia napped and worked on DNA.
17 May: Happy Settende Mai, Constitution Day in Norway. See photo of Granddaughter Lauren waving her Norwegian flag. Raindrops fell as we returned from breakfast in Sedona. Cozy in our down jackets, we are sitting on the porch of Creekside Cottage enjoying an eerie stillness broken only by the cracks and bellows of lightning and thunder. A breeze has begun to stir the leaves. Winds up to 40 MPH are forecast for the afternoon's approaching storm. We didn't wait for the excitement, but instead we napped the afternoon away. At 6:15 PM we ventured forth to check the poison ivy and the creek. My goodness, the swollen creek was a muddy red with debris from upstream. The great blue heron was patiently watching for dinner. Up creek, the young poison ivy showed signs of distress but the bigger plants looked quite healthy. IRS audit material is complete for the end of May audit.
Lauren's Settende Mai selfie
16 May: This is written in the Sedona ER while waiting for the doctor to sew up Cynthia's elbow. We were so proud of our longest hike this year, but coming down the mountain, Cynthia slipped on pebbly rocks and landed on a flat rock with her elbow, tearing it open. Ron sacrificed napkins to make a compress, and Cynthia applied pressure to halt the bleeding. Ron steadied Cynthia by holding an elbow, and we were able to get down mountain to our cottage in another hour and a half where he dressed it again. We rode the motorcycle to the hospital. Nothing is broken; it is just a large, open wound in need of repair. The wait in ER was long, but the the doctor quickly irrigated the wound and inserted 7 stitches. The elbow is safely bandaged, and there is no pain. As misfortunes go, this one is wonderful.
15 May, Sunday: Pentecost Sunday at Christ Lutheran Church was a marvelous service; Ron wore red. The prickly pear and barrel cacti are blooming. Our grandniece Erika (Sistah Carol's granddaughter) is one of 40 high school drill team participants in the US selected to perform in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. First the pictured at her first prom a few days ago.
My sistah says that Erika uses a gun in her cartwheel
14 May, Sat: Life is good. We hiked to the canyon road and back through the woods appreciating the shade. Weekends, the park is bustling with people, young and old, some cavorting in the creek, some on horseback, photographers, artists and even a large scale baptismal ceremony was in progress. Upon our return we napped. Filled with new energy, Ron hiked almost to the airport. Cynthia is preparing a baptismal service for Moses, a 7 year old Pueblo Indian boy, who lives with his mom in a semi-cloistered ecumenical community near Taos.
13 May, Hiking was scheduled after breakfast: The temperature on Boynton Canyon Trail was 91 degrees; Ron is very fit from maintainance walking. Cynthia deemed herself miserably unfit to hike 2.5 hours mid-day, even this moderate trail we have hiked many times; Cynthia was too hot to do more than 2/3 of the trail. We should start hikes early morning but that's not usually an option for us. After a long nap and food, Ron hiked the Oak Creek Trail this evening; nope, the recipe for poison ivy killer isn't working. Ron put aloe on Cynthia's scalp because it got too much sun. May 13th is the birthdate of Cynthia's son Scott who died from Leukemia in 1998; it is always a difficult day.
12 May, Hooray, hooray for the 12th of May, it's Ron's birthday and our fifth wedding anniversary, our "birsary." Happy birthday to granddaughter Fyn Rose Forde and to niece Robin. At 7:15 we were picked up at Staples for what we thought was a day long helicopter tour; instead the shuttle drove us to the Grand Canyon to board the helicopter tour there followed by lunch at El Tovar. The shuttle tour continued around the canyon to the south rim, to the watchtower and on to the little canyon for sights of Elk, the pastels of the painted desert, and a stop at a Navajo Trading Post. We had dinner at Red's remembering dinners are very pricey at night riding home against the magnificent rainbow hues of an Arizona sunset. Ron enjoyed birthday phone calls from family and friends.

11 May, We arose early; after breakfast at Red's, we drove on I-17 to GO-AZ in PHX to have the new AeroFlow faring installed, in addition, the 600 mile service was done. GoAZ loaned us an R1200RT so we could spend the time with cousin Jewel in rehab. Her son, Jim was there, too, making for a most enjoyable time. We were so tired with another very early morning tomorrow we did not stop at Donna and Dan's lovely home. The views riding into Sedona on AZ 179 takes our breath away.

10 May: Sedona, AZ is a great place to be. After an early breakfast we enjoyed spectacular views riding twisties through Oak Creek Canyon on 89A to Flagstaff, then reversing the trip traveling south to Oak Creek Village marveling at the magnificent red rock formations before returning to eat at Whole Foods in Sedona to feed Cynthia. Ron ate a box of no fat/sugar ice pops and pretzels. We stopped at our cottage for sunblock and drove in wind to Wally World in Cottonwood. UPS delivered a gift for Cynthia from children/grandchildren that hadnt made it before Mother's Day. Roxanne sent Ron a recycled very funny card, very apropos. The forced march through the park to canyon road and north on the Ridge Trail commenced at 4:30 PM. The poison ivy isn't dead yet, but the leaves look a bit wilted with signs deer have been eating the salt on the leaves. Photo from the Ridge Trail today:

9 May, We went to Basha's to buy vinegar to make a cheap poison ivy killer; our bill was $93.00. Life is full, days are whizzing by, the SCS family group sheets are 99% ready - apart from making the indelible watermarks really indelible. A DNA "kinda" cousin wrote (from Ireland) she is traveling with a professional genealogist working on common Agers lineage; we should hang out a shingle, "Genealogists available to travel." The 2013 IRS audit saga: Walmart's online RX history is only available for 24 months; a phone call to the Walmart pharmacist, "We don't have it, but call corporate." Chat with corporate, "The pharmacist is incorrect, we don't have it because of privacy concerns." The IRS will receive a copy of chat instead of RX history. The forced housecleaning project was accomplished by hiding a few items.

8 May, Happy Mother's Day Y'all, especially Sistah Carol who is raising our precious little Carole Anne to be a chicken farmer. Ron delighted Cynthia with red roses; pink roses from children/grandchildren brought oohs. We saw many familiar faces at Christ Lutheran Sedona; the building has undergone a marvelous renovation for the growing congregation.

7 May, Very cool 46 degrees on this morning's ride into Sedona for breakfast. Red's restaurant baked Ron sweet potato French fries thanks to Claudia, our favorite waitress. Sedona is fascinating: the eclectic affluence is readily apparent with the abundance of exotic health food items. Sedona is touted to be the global center of spiritual energy - we could use more energy having hiked to Canyon Road and across the Ridge Trail. See Ron on Ridge Trail:

6 May: Cooler temperatures and some rain will prevail over the weekend. The ride to Wally World in Cottonwood was mighty windy. We hiked to an upper trail, pushing further every day.

5 May: Feliz Cinco de Mayo. Ron completed some of the documents for the Swedish Colonial Society. Cynthia (locked out of the SS website) impatiently endured thirty minutes being "on hold" waiting for a national social security representative to request copies of 1099s for the 2013 IRS audit. Thankfully, the rep agreed to send both of them to our PO Box. Our 2013 blog provided documentation for the IRS medical miles summary and gave Cynthia much laughter. She laughs at all of Ron's jokes believing him to be extremely witty. And brilliant.

4 May, National Star Wars Day: "May the Fourth be with you." We didn't need a jacket for the ride into Sedona for breakfast, the weather is warming up. Ron spent the day working with SCS documents, while Cynthia lost her patience trying to log into Social Security online because her data didn't get recognized so they suspended her from further attempts. Tonight's walk was short because it was late. How to celebrate our 5th anniversary and Ron's 69th birthday? It's a surprise.

3 May, Tuesday is bright with sunshine and warmer temperatures. Up we rose, rode and ate, returned and wrote. Adobe Acrobat has been a pain. Ron had to re-do many documents. Yo Heave Ho, another day of forced marches to the canyon road checking out the poison ivy. Ron plans to bomb said Ivy with a home-brew recipe of Dawn soap, vinegar and salt. Sedona had major flooding in January, hence the grasses are tall and green is everywhere but red rocks. The floods brought a picnic table down Oak Creek rescued by our neighbor to enhance the trail. Now we are weary.

2 May: Sedona, Arizona: We arose at 8:30 (after the most delicious sleep) to tune into Good Morning America. Cynthia was disappointed only the spokesperson for Stash Bags made the national TV segment with no mention of the purses. ABC Houston GMA did use the entire interview of Paul and Cheryl with purses represented. Here is a link to Stash Co.: The cutie in the Tinker Apron is granddaughter Fyn Rose born on Ron's birthday. We fed our faces and bought groceries to do more of the same.

The new BMW K1600GTL motorcycle is pretty incredible, but it will take Ron a while to get used to it. It glides through corners & floats through sweepers, but the throttle response is so quick it makes me nervous about a twitch in a tight corner, and it is trivially easy to over-rev it for downshifts etc. Lots of power, quick response, great handling, no negatives. - except that reverse is a challenge. Backing it under the lean-to beside our Creekside Cottage wears me out; it is waaay too heavy. I'm used to a turn indicator button on each grip and an easy-to-hit cancel. This one is a little knob on right side only; push right for right, left for left, and push in to cancel - not nearly as foolproof & convenient, and it seems likely to break much more easily. The 600 mile break in is going by very quickly - 240 already today. I'm not to red-line it during break in, so I haven't tried full-out acceleration, but what little I've done is impressive, especially in second & third gears. First gear seems too low for acceleration, but it may just pull from idle; I've been experimenting with that. I'll need to read the manual to find out recommended procedures for starting, gearing and shifting, not to mention all the electronic options. So far I've been ignoring all that and just trying to get comfortable with the bike. It seems amazingly light and nimble - at least until I try to engage reverse. I'm still tentative in corners, somewhat unsure of trajectory and traction, especially since I wandered solo onto double yellow paint in a 90-degree corner immediately after a rain and the rear tire slid a foot or so. No spill, but certainly a quick little thrill. (Yes, I DO know better, but remember that I mentioned trajectory earlier.)

Right now I'm looking at cottonwood fluff dancing in bright sunshine after a few minutes shower. The red rocks are awesome; we went for our first stroll uphill and realized our lack of physical conditioning. Huff and puff and the legs don't want to cooperate. No more showers in the forecast, so it is time to ride into town to feed Cynthia. Photos from our hike and the spectacular view on the ride home:

1 May, Sunday: We enjoyed breakfast on Pinnacle Peak Road with cousin Kay and hubby Tom. After that we checked out of the hotel and rode 100 miles to Sedona, arriving at Red's Restaurant by 2:30 PM. First impression riding north was that recent rain certainly has turned the desert green. That soon faded, and as we rode north on Interstate 17, it was amusing to see the omnipresent acres of Saguaro cacti quickly diminish and eventually disappear as we gained elevation to over 4,000 feet. The day started out overcast and cloud cover quickly thickened until the sun disappeared, too. The comfortably cool ride quickly became quite chilly. Some kamikaze hard-shelled bug suicided against Ron's hard head, no apparent damage to said head. The scenery changed once again on the outskirts of Cottonwood after we started north on 89A and traversed the last 17 miles into Sedona. The sun is now appearing. It's good to be "home" in Sedona. It was indeed fun to recognize our favorite waitress, Claudia, at Reds. After our early dinner we walked across the street to discover that Zainey's is no longer, replaced by "Sweeterie," still offering fat-free frozen yogurt and sorbet, but out of sugar-free flavors. Good thing Cynthia was unable to fill her stomach with cold stuff because she became chilled during the walk, and the 4-mile ride to the Creekside Cottage did not improve her temperature. Imagine !! We arrived at this beautiful location and went straight to bed to warm up. We did get up and about in time to catch sunset colors in the clouds