Friday, January 16, 2015

Good Bye Big Bend, Hello Abilene!

Even though it was cold and cloudy much of our stay, this was our best time ever at the park, mostly because we stayed 5 nights and hiked 6 days, though today only until noon. A chance remark to a volunteer ranger yesterday afternoon led to a discussion of a remote area we had never before visited, and this morning we got up early, packed the car and drove the 35 miles to Ernst Tinaja. What a spectacular canyon and pools. We also did some hiking at Boquillas Canyon along the Rio Grande River. We left as the weather was turning warm, promising to be back again next year. Tonight we're staying at a nice Quality Inn in Abilene and hope to make it home by early Sunday afternoon. The stranger in this pic is Barb, a real inspiration to us. We met her at Balanced Rock yesterday. She's 75 and has a serious lung disease that she contracted from cleaning the cages of her late husband's racing pigeons. She hadn't realized that the dust was getting into her lungs, and now has to carry oxygen with her, but refuses to quit hiking---had come to Big Bend all the way from Utah.

Here I am at the pool of Cattail Falls

At Ernst Tinaja
John at Ernst Tinaja

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Five Days at Big Bend

John at Window, a long walk below Lodge
Tomorrow we head home after 5 wonderful days of strenuous hiking at the tip of Texas. We're staying at the Basin Lodge, and every spare minute I spend writing on another book. The final decision to offer me a contract came by email on the second day we were here. I emailed back that I was willing to accept the advance they offered and the deadline date. I was expecting the contract offer and had been working on the computer as John drove most of the way down. Here are some pics of us in the Park.

Lunch on our 9-mile hike up to the Meadows and Boot

Well worth the arduous hike--the BOOT!

John studying the petroglyphs out at the Chimneys

Frost along the roadway

Mid-morning break at Mule Ears Spring

Beaver enjoying a meal at Santa Elena Canyon

Remains of an old ranch house near the Canyon

Yours truly at Balanced Rock

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

A Sad Day

The news of the terrorist attack on a newspaper office in France, killing 12, prompted a slew of tributes---all over the internet. Here is one from my dear friend Sarah McIntyre, a Brit, and a noted cartoonist.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A Week of Family Gatherings

Last Friday evening we met Sarah, John and the kids at Meijer Gardens for their Christmas event and ate together in the cafe; the weather was good and we had a great time walking around the grounds and along the boardwalk. Then on Monday afternoon we drove to Saginaw to see my brother David, Sharon, their kids and families on the occasion of the death of Sharon's mother. On Tuesday, after John visited his mother and mother-in-law, he went to another funeral home to pay his respects to his brother-in-law on the death of his mother. Today, we visited John's mom, and this evening had dinner with Kayla and Ariel preparing chicken and fixings at the condo. Carlton joined in. On Saturday, we will be going to John's first in-law's family for a late Christmas gathering, and next week we will be hosting John's sister Mary and taking grandson Mitch out to dinner to launch him on his second semester of college.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Three Super Grandkids

Mitch and Zach are great looking guys but WOW what a looker is ,our Ashley. I first knew her at 5, Zach 3, and Mitch, now a college freshman, was 8. Ashley, heading for sweet 16, was assistant stage manager for her fall high school drama performance. She'll be on center stage this spring playing Darla Jane. Zach loves sports every season of the year. Mitch says he's studying real hard at the university, working part-time at his uncle's business painting walls. 

Friday, December 26, 2014

December 26 Sunrise

Only in their dreams and in Bing Crosby's rendition did Grand Rapids folks get a white Christmas. But after last year we'll take sunny days and green grass any time it comes our way in late December. We had a great time hosting our kids, grandkids and extended family on Christmas Eve and enjoyed a lazy day at our downtown condo after sleeping in----then returned to the river yesterday afternoon. Today we're back at the Gardens expecting a relatively quiet day which is nice after the Christmas rush. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Thanksgiving Past

Life is on the fast track, a lot happening since Thanksgiving, though no snow shoveling. Today it's sunny and we're looking out at green lawns. We made a quick trip to sister Kathy's in Evansville over Thanksgiving, and as usual, she set before us a delicious meal.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


I was surprised to see this map showing that much of the snow dump has been squarely on us. Typically the lake shore and the SW corner get the big snow falls.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Back Ache and SNOW shoveling

Can't believe I actually titled my last post "Lovin' Snow." My love affair is over. Slightly shy of 30 inches almost non-stop has put a damper on things. But I see on the news that Buffalo has more than 6 feet of it and try to put my situation into perspective.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Lovin' Snow

Earlier this week I took these pictures at the Gardens. Much of our yard art has been placed inside, but the trees and trails looked so beautiful with a fresh snowfall. I had forgotten, after last year's record cold and snow, how much I love winter days. Can't wait to get out cross-country skiing again.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Fun in Greensboro

We had beautiful weather and a great time with Laura and Bob. Arrived Friday afternoon and Saturday morning went to the nearby living history celebration at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park where Nathaniel Green fought the Redcoats in the Revolutionary War, paving the way for victory at Yorktown and the end of that awful war. Here I am making nice to a Morgan military horse. 
In the afternoon we enjoyed sunshine on their boat, then went out for a belated birthday dinner celebration for Laura and came home to a nice little fire on the back patio. We drove home Sunday in a record 12 hours, now back to work and getting everything at the Gardens ready for winter.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

On the Road Again

Yesterday we left home early and spent the day driving, some of the time through hard rain--our destination Gatlinburg, Tennessee, now staying our second night in this beautiful little town. Here is a morning view of our river front before we left, though we imagine we'll be coming back to snow. Alex, as usual, is covering the Gardens and watching the house. We come down this way every year to attend the Smokey Mountains Gift Show. After going to 2 shows this morning we hiked in the park.  Below we are at Spruce Falls where we had our lunch, and on the way back snapped some risk-taking kayakers.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pure Michigan

Pure Michigan: our state motto that props up our biggest industry, tourism. Here is a picture taken today of Point Betsie Lighthouse. Wish we were not tied to the shop this morning and could take a 2+ hour drive up to Frankfort and this wonderful state park.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Remnants of ArtPrize

One of the unfortunate aspects of ArtPrize is that the crowds are so large it's difficult to snap photos. The three-week downtown display ended last Sunday, but here are a few pieces that haven't yet been taken down, none of which won prizes but all worthy of recognition. The huge mural at the bottom of this post (some 20 ft. long) is oil on canvass by Eric Lindbergh from Virginia Beach, VA. It shows trash, electrical wires and garbage cans on the right, the remainder depicting a boy painting a wonderful landscape filled with birds and animals. It should have won a big prize.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

ArtPrize 2014

For some years Grand Rapids has been on the map as a big-time Artsy City, not just because of Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, but because of ArtPrize for 3 weeks in Sept/Oct. This year more than a half million was given away in prize money (the largest art prize money in the world). During the first years, art critics snubbed their noses because the prizes were awarded by popular online voting. Juried prizes were introduced last year, and this year, to satisfy the critics, equal prize money was given to top popular and top juried votes. The popular vote, it is assumed, will be given to a giant moose made out of a billion or so nails, obviously a major undertaking, but equally obviously, I suppose, not art. So with some of the best art critics in the country, at least one of the $200,000 top prizes will go to REAL art. So a funny thing happened this year. Both the masses and the jury voted for the same thing (though the jury had a tie for the top), which meant that one artist received a purse of $300,000. So much for those top know-it-all art critics.

Anila Quayyum Agha's installation "Intersections" won the big money. It is a 6.5-foot cube, illuminated from the inside, projecting its shadows on the surrounding walls as well as its viewers. She's an art professor from Indianapolis.

I took dozens of pics during my 3 visits, and I thought Anila's was one of the best. A very large installation was outdoors and entirely made of clocks (3 huge structures that spell NOW). There were many wonderful glass pieces and paintings---far too many to add to this post.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

No Hikers After Dark

As we were leaving Starved Rock State Park yesterday afternoon, we noticed a sign in the parking lot of the Lodge. Among other rules were “no hikers after dark.” So we pledged to never break that rule again-----though our hike in the morning was technically not after dark; rather, before dawn. We did a lot of hiking before we left the park in the afternoon, including 2 places we’d never been before, both beautiful spots, and without another person around. Here is John in Aurora Canyon. We arrived home at 5:45, and immediately started raking. Today, it’s back to work.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Lunar Eclipse from atop Starved Rock

This morning John and I got up at 5 am (local time) and, with flashlight in hand, descended the 150 steps down from the lodge and across the gorge and back up to Starved Rock for the lunar eclipse.  What a perfect spot---saw the whole eclipse, as well as actual bright stars (rarely visible in GR), including the Big Dipper, Orion, and even the Seven Sisters. Also a beautiful sunrise. If there were a category for it, we would make the Guinness World Book of Records, not necessarily for being the only ones who have ever seen the lunar eclipse from atop Starved Rock, but surely the oldest ones. Here's John barely visible in the sunrise.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Two Day at Starved Rock

Second only to Big Bend National Park at the southwestern tip of Texas, we love Starved Rock State Park in Illinois for hiking. We arrived early last evening and checked into the lodge for 2 nights. After dinner we hiked out in the light of the Harvest Moon, down the 150 steps of the wooded embankment, across the bottom of the canyon floor and back up again along a steep path and up a hundred steps to the highest point in the park, Starved Rock (where, according to folklore, one band of Indians trying to escape from a larger band, held out on the rock and starved to death). What a magical place it was in the moonlight, no one anywhere around. We made the same hike again tonight, leaving a little earlier to catch the final minutes of sunset. We took our flashlight along but were able to go much of the way by moonlight only.

Today we hiked in the canyons, our favorite one being St. Louis, where John is pictured with his arms up. Another couple of pics has me climbing up in LaSalle Canyon, and John in Tonty. Still another with me hugging my favorite horse-looking natural root sculpture. The colorful glass kinetic sculpture is new this year, sure wish I had one for Carlton Gardens.