2. Celebrations…Kansas, Arizona & California 12.2008

Tuesday, December 30

this morning we were up bright and early, Leah, Danny and I picked up Phyllis and David and headed north towards Sedona...what a cool place!  I've been here before, but it never looses it's beauty


we started the morning out with a little hike to view cathedral rock.  it was chilly, but their had obviously been a heavy frost the night before...we were told it'd been about 19 degrees overnight

Cathedral rock is in the middle of the photo; we were way beneath it, but this place gave us a great view 


we passed a spot along the trail where there were tons of rock cairns...it looked pretty neat...or I thought so anyway

the layer of frost was so beautiful on everything...but frost on sand?  I'd never seen that before....way, way cool





a well-worn rope swing looked like a lot of fun...for warmer days

Phyllis is a really good hiker

after the hike, it was time to eat some lunch and the Javalina Cantina was recommended to us...and it was great...the best meal I've eaten in Arizona.   I had this enchilada-style burrito with black beans, zucchini, and another type of squash, covered in a verde sauce with a side of crème' fraiche....delicious!  this was a really neat sculpture outside the restaurant

we asked the guys if they wanted to go hiking or shopping......they opted for shopping, so Phyllis, Leah and I went along!  I found a really fun t-shirt and hoodie ....40% off...so I treated myself to both!

the next stop was the Tlaquepaque shopping area....a really pretty place and fun shops that are kind of secluded in their own area...away from the main strip that runs through Sedona.  the first place that caught my eye was a gallery that featured Lyman Whitaker wind sculptures.  I recognized his work because Mona's sister has a huge one on her farm...and when the girlfriends group spent a weekend there, we all fell in love with it!  (PS:  Greg...if you're reading this...Jill still really wants one!)


there were a lot of other cool sculptures and  funky art around too

one of the cute little shops


they have a brewery here....Oak Creek Brewery.  Leah and I wanted to go in and try the "Seven Dwarfs" (a sampler of each of their beers); but the guys were so exhausted from their shopping adventure, we passed on the beer and decided to go back to the car and head up to Oak Creek Canyon

the sites of the amazing red rock formations, kept us oohing and ahhing along the way.  we ended up at Slide Rock Park...a place with good memories for me

the two buildings below are old visitors cabins

there is an orchard here...established in the early 1900's and this is the old apple-press building


this is Slide Rock....

warmer temperatures bring tons of visitors to play, swim and slide in the cold waters...no one was swimming today however!


we had a great time climbing around on the rocks


 I was farther down the creek and on the other side, and watched Danny go out to the middle of the water...I knew he was trying to decide whether or not to try to LEAP across the freezing current (remember, from past trips....he has been known to leap across streams)....so like any good wife...I got my camera ready in case he decided to go for it...I wanted to capture his LANDING for all time, but he decided the rocks he would be leaping TO looked pretty slimy and slippery...and better judgment prevailed

so here's my great memory of Slide Rock....several years ago I did a solo backpacking trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  I'd spent two nights camping at the bottom of the canyon and enjoyed it all....I felt so good that I had accomplished all that had been required of me and had done it by myself.  I left  the canyon early in the morning heading back to Phoenix, but stopped  at Slide Rock.  it was in the spring, and when I arrived there, no one else was around.  I grabbed my sleeping pad, journal, a bottle of water and lunch and started hiking up the creek.  finding this ledge (below), I sat down, wrote a little, ate and drank a little, and then fell asleep for about 2 hours with the sweet sounds of the creek in my ears.  when I woke up, I was pretty pink and red from the Arizona sun, but packed up all my stuff to head back to the car.  when I began hiking back, and rounded one of the rocks, right before my eyes were a ton of people playing in the water, swimming and splashing.....I'd never heard them because the creek is so loud.  I thought I'd been all alone ...it was pretty funny at the time

some other pics from Slide Rock area



I couldn't take my eyes off this scene...the different colors of the rock,  the green trees growing on the rocks, and all had been sprinkled with this perfect white snow.....amazing!


these were just some shots I took from the moving car as we were leaving Sedona


we had a quiet ride back to Scottsdale and met the newlyweds and Linda for dinner at one of their favorite chinese restaurants.  after dinner, we went to Andrew and Lavi's condo which was filled to the brim with wedding gifts!

we said our good byes to all, except Leah, who escorted us back to her place.  we began to pack our backs, set alarm clocks and prepare to fly out tomorrow...but...we're not flying back to Kansas....oh no!  it's much more exciting than that....we have a whole new adventure planned...and more Celebrations too!

Friday, January 2, 2009


Danny and I are beginning 2009 in Arcata, CA....visiting Pete and Luke 

Wednesday was a long travel day for us, but began with farewells to Danny's family in Scottsdale.  David and Leah and the two of us went for an spontaneous breakfast at "Wildflower Cafe"...it's a small chain eatery in Arizona, but the food was good, and it was decorated with these really neat glass flowers on the ceiling and light fixtures


we turned in our car, checked our bags, and boarded another Southwest flight (the flight attendant sang to us...it was great:)

I couldn't figure out what snow-covered mountains these were as we flew over them; then there was this strange looking thick fog layered below the mountains, but all of it was really neat looking


getting our bags at the airport, the rental car and making our way through the heavy traffic leaving Oakland took a really, really long time....we didn't make it up to Arcata until 9:30 pm (our plane touched down in Oakland at 1:30) but were so excited to see Pete and Luke! 

they were both off work since they Poker Room was closed on New Years Eve and we rang in the new year, together, in downtown Arcata with rest of the town.  Shannon was with us too, and we went to one of their favorite bars and met a lot of their friends....they're all huggers, and we were warmly greeted and treated to some really good local beer!

we're staying at Luke's place, so before long we got see Blue and meet Kia (Sarah's dog).  we visited until about 2am, then Sarah was off work and we got to meet her....staying up until about 3am...then Danny and I decided to turn in

Thursday was the only day that Shannon, Pete and Luke were all off work.  we met Peter, Shannon, her dog Shelby and Dexter at the beach.  this was our first time meeting Dexter, Peter's new dog....he's really big, but sweet and playful.  Peter is still working on training him....and Shelby and Dexter have finally began to get along and play well together 


the skies were gray, with drizzle on and off which is typical of a lot of their winter days...the beach was still the beach...beautiful, loud waves and magnificent...it doesn't matter what the weather is!

horseback riding on the beach looks like fun !


we went back to Shannon and Pete's house, played with the dogs a little longer, then all six of us went out to eat at Six Rivers Brewery for a late lunch...and my favorite Six Rivers Beer...their Chile Beer

Luke rough-housing with Dexter; Peter and Shelby


it was time for Pete and Luke to teach this old couple how to play Wii, so we went back to Luke's place to learn...and it was fun!

but it was just as much fun watching everyone else play too



Brandon (another Kansas transplant-that-works-at-the-casino) and Pete....Luke and the dogs in the background all Wii-ed out

Evan (a Kansas transplant-that-works-at-a different-casino), another friend of Luke and Pete's came by and visited with us when he was off work.  one thing that is clear to me and Danny....the boys and their friends work/sleep/play on a totally different clock than most people....to bed by 3am or 4 am...sleep till noon....begin work at 6pm 

we've been getting up early in the mornings and driving to the beach and wave-watching which is where we found ourselves this on Friday morning...waiting for the "we're all awake and ready to go" call from the boys


we all met at the Arcata Plaza; the sun was out and the rains had stopped.  we ate a late breakfast at Golden Harvest, then everyone joyfully agreed to a photo-shoot in the plaza...so here you go!



we all did a little shopping around the Plaza hitting my favorite shops (the purse/jewelry shop which is actually a hair salon, Plaza Designs which has wonderful jewelry, the consignment shop, an herbal store where I found a book on sage I've been looking for, the shoe store which carries a great selection of my favorite "Ozone" socks, and the bead shop...where I found a couple of beads for my collection)   Shannon and Pete had to work tonight; Shannon going in a couple of hours before Pete, so they left to go back to the house to get ready

Luke and Sarah went back to the apartment to get the dogs and warmer coats and met us at Manilla Dunes, not far from the Plaza.  Danny and I hadn't been there before, and it was sooo cool.  Blue, Kia and Marley (a friends dog currently being dog-sat by Brandon) played, ran, chased and retrieved the ball over and over and over...it started to rain...and then rain a little heavier...so we all decided to leave.  the walk from the dunes to the cars was a good little hike through the woods...in spite of the rain, it was great to be outside, walking in the trees


while Sarah and Luke went back to the apartment to rest the dogs, and get ready for the evening (they were both off work today), Danny and I went to Pete's to visit for about an hour before he went to work...and to visit with Dexter more too


on New Years eve, we met one of Luke's really good friends... "Grego" .  we'd made plans for the five of us to go out to dinner tonight and went to a wonderful Indian restaurant "Samraat" in Eureka, that Luke and I discovered on one of my first trips to Arcata and it's been on the "best food" list ever since.  it was fun to sit and visit and get to know Grego...Luke and Pete have met a lot of  really fun and neat friends....and it's so cool that we get to meet them too (check out the way-neat hoodie Luke is wearing...a christmas gift from sister-Sara)

after dinner, we went to the local mall ...briefly...the KU hoodie that Danny and I had shipped to Luke for part of his christmas...still had the "security-tag" attached to the back, so we went in search of a store, that would remove it for us...and thankfully, one did.  we came back to the apartment, visited awhile, then Sarah, Luke and Danny all watched a movie...I went to bed (yeah!  I've been sleeping like a normal person for the past two nights....it's been wonderful!) 

as I write this, it's actually Saturday, Jan 3, about 10am and Danny and I are at Starbucks in McKinleyville.  the sun is shining and the skies are clear and blue; there was a heavy frost on the cars and yards this morning...but so far it's looking like a beautiful day.  Luke, Peter and Shannon all have to work tonight, so our day with them will be short.  we have lunch plans (umm, one of my favorite places), but then we're on our own this evening

well, the website's been updated, the coffee cups are empty...so we're headed to the beach to go for a nice morning walk...

continuation of Saturday, Jan 3....

the day stayed filled with sunshine, so it was a good day to play outside.  Danny and I made our way to the Hammond Trail; a paved trail that we've ridden bikes on before and parallels the ocean.  these views are where the Mad River flows into the ocean


Pete was the first one up this morning, so he and Dexter met us on the trail and we all went for a walk.  Pete is working with Dexter on his "social skills with other dogs"; he's great with people, but needs to get used to being around all the different dogs that you encounter when you're on the beach or in a park

Luke was up next, so we went back to his place while Pete took Dexter back to the house.  Luke has a new car since we were last here, so we were checking it out (the dogs thought we were going somewhere)

But it wasn't long before we did leave to meet for lunch at the Kaibab Cafe.  I've been dreaming of their falafel  burgers since I had one last year...umm so good.  Shannon, is training for a 50 mile run next fall, so she ran from McKinleyville to the cafe in Arcata to meet us and Brandon joined us for lunch too.  the food was really good, and as usual, the conversation turned to the inner-dramas at the casino...so much fun to listen to!  Pete drove Shannon back to the house after lunch, and the rest of us went back to Luke's place

the day was still nice and sunny out, temps not too bad, so we loaded up all the dogs and went to Mad River Park...a new spot to visit for me and Danny, but one obviously the dogs have been to many times. playing frisbee is a huge pastime here...the guys play it all the time; in the park, on the beach, the parking lot outside their apartment, about anywhere they can!  Luke found this ring-type frisbee and the record throw for them so far is 800 feet on the beach one day

Danny leaping for a catch; Luke with the "one-arm" catch; and Blue, prevailing over Kia and another dog that just joined in the fun


Pete making a low catch; poor Brandon was stationed by the trees and had a couple of sticky-retrievals; these frisbees don't float, so when one went in a huge pool of water and sunk, Blue went to the rescue, digging down to make the save


a view of the Mad River; Marley was more interested in digging all afternoon than catching a frisbee


Luke, Pete and Shannon all had to work tonight, so Danny and I were on our own.  Luke suggested we go to Eureka for their "Arts Alive"...similar to our "First Fridays" we have back in Kansas...so we did.  this event is held in "Old Town" ; an area of Eureka, next to the waterfront .  it's a shopping district with little boutiques, old bookstores, coffee houses and restaurants, all housed in old, victorian-style buildings.  the streets were filled the musicians and people, like us, going in and out of the galleries.  it was entertaining and both of us really like to look at all the unusual and beautiful artwork.  one thing we never have seen back in Kansas on our artwalks, are signs like these, posted on many of the old buildings

we ended the evening by driving back to Arcata and walking the plaza square looking for something light to eat.  we chose an italian restaurant and ate soup and salad and shared a local beer from Eel River Brewing Co., the first organic brewing company in the country and in Fortuna, about 30 miles south of Arcata

we ordered a Hazelnut Porter, which was VERY interesting.  the hazelnut was really strong and although both of us love Porters, we're not that crazy about hazelnut flavoring...it always seems too strong and kind of fake....so even though we wouldn't order it again...we still happily finished it off as we did another nice day spent with Pete and Luke

tomorrow is our last day here...the boys begin work early on Sundays at 12:45pm.  Luke anticipates working until 10pm or later, Peter isn't sure what hours he'll end up working; it just depends on how the games are going and if someone else wants off early.  so Danny and I will probably take off after breakfast with the group...which is at another cool cafe (do you ever get the idea that my trips are all about the food?)  so until then...


Sunday, Jan 3

we were in for a treat this morning...there is this little (seats 10) cafe in Trinidad (where the casino is) called the "Catch Cafe".  Luke and Peter have become really good friends with the owners and eat breakfast there EVERY Sunday before work....and sometimes more frequently during the week.  the owners have been really nice to me, when I phoned them a couple of times from Kansas; once I called and asked them to do something special as a surprise for Luke's birthday and another time just to tell the boys I missed them and that breakfast was on me.  last year when Danny and I were in Trinidad, they were closed for a seasonal break, but I finally got to eat there and meet the owners when I was in Arcata last May.  the boys said they've been staying open on Sundays this season, and would definitely open for us today and make us something special.  they made us really good omelets with lightly fried mixed sweet and white potatoes and some really good bread on the side


the boys were headed to work after breakfast, and we didn't think we'd see them again before we left town.  so we said good bye at the Catch (with minimal eye-leakage), hugging and hugging each other.  it'd been such a good visit


we took Shannon back to McKinleyville and hugged goodbye (we'd stopped in earlier to say goodbye and give our new family member---Dexter a big hug!)  ; and then took Sarah and Brandon back to the apartments, saying goodbye and giving Blue lots of hugs and kisses goodbye too

the boys had told Danny that they would be on a 20 minute break  in about an hour, so Danny decided we'd go back for one last goodbye before we left for Oakland (I was concerned I would have major eye-leakage in the casino...this was going to be hard!)

 this is the front of the casino


the poker tables were all full...a big tournament going on and because Luke and Peter's back were to to us, we were able to stand there and watch them deal for a few minutes before the break. once the break was called, they had a little more to do at the table, but one of the women (about my age) came up and asked if we were Peter and Luke's parents...we told her we were, and she went on and on about what wonderful guys they are...(teenie-tiny eye leakage at that point)...anyway, it was really nice.  during the break, we just visited some more and then it was time to say goodbye...again...but this time, afterwards we would be leaving Arcata.  the boys were great and bear-hugged both of us right in front of all the poker players...and no one seemed to mind

this is the beach next to the casino and is similar to the view from their restaurant; looking up from the beach to the casino (building on left side of photo)


Danny and I weren't sure what we were going to do next...our flight didn't leave Oakland until 6am on Monday....but we did the best thing and just went playing and walking around on the Trinidad beaches...I was so sad to leave the boys; not knowing when we'll get to see them again, but being here, where they play and work everyday made it all not quite as sad.....it's all so magnificent!

so enjoy the views



the little dots you see poking up from the water are sufers...the air temp today was 42 and overcast...I can't imagine what the water temp is...even in a wetsuit it would be cold!


we finally quit strolling, put our cameras away and left the beaches heading south on Hwy 101 towards Oakland

we stopped down the road in Ferndale; Shannon had said it was a cute little victorian town and it was.  most of the shops were closed (we weren't in any mood to shop anyway) but the buildings and houses were kind of neat


an old movie theater



this town is 30' above sea level...which is why they have an above-ground cemetary

it was going to be dark quick, but we enjoyed part of this lovely drive before it did.  the road is lined with huge trees, some are redwoods that are 200' tall and are just amazing.  it's kind of a challenging drive because the road is always going up and down great big hills, also curving from side to side,  the speed changes from 55 to 30, then throwing in passing lanes then down to a single lane, but there is sooo much open, uncluttered space here...something you don't think exists in California, but it's right here.  here's some photos out the front window while we were driving...

we listened to a lot of music on the drive...about 8:45pm we stopped in Santa Rosa looking for a place to eat, but instead found a Trader Joes, and ran in right before they closed picking up cheese, crackers, water and a package of Triple Ginger cookies.  we ate a light dinner in the parking lot, cleaned out the car, threw some last minute items in our bags, then finished our drive into Oakland.  unlike on the way up to Arcata, there was no traffic at 11pm going into Oakland, we were the only one's on the big bridge that crosses the bay!

we decided to try to get a little sleep in the car rental parking lot, each sleeping about an hour.  finally, about 3am we turned the car in, and jumped on the shuttle to the airport terminals.  Southwest opened at 4:30am, where we checked our bags, went through security and soon after boarded our flight back to KC.  it was a 3.5 hour flight; a little bumpy for the first 1.5 hours, but we landed on time.... it was 21 degrees out!

we made the drive back to Linwood, unpacked our bags, took down our Christmas tree and all the decorations...and decided we'd go to Lawrence for dinner....as we got out of the car and headed into the brewery...we knew we were back!


this trip has been filled with so many Celebrations and so many emotions....it was really nice to see David and his family, getting to know Leah and Andrew a little better and of course attending the beautiful wedding, and wonderful to get to see Phyllis dancing, hiking and laughing with her boys, and the BEST, VERY, VERY BEST part for me, was getting to see Sara, Luke and Pete.  they're all so very happy, loving their lives, making so many new and interesting friends, doing so much and LIVING BIG...and although, every day, I feel like huge chunks of my heart are missing, I am truly happy for them and so very proud of the choices they've made 

this concludes my travels for 2008...I think I traveled about 10 weeks total....I've had so much fun, seen so many beautiful places, met some interesting people, and done some things I didn't think I could do, but, wow!, I'm so glad I did

Luke will be traveling in February to see Sara (our graduation gift to him)... it's been a couple of years since they've seen each other and he's never been to Florida....so I can't wait to hear all about their adventures!

so far, for 2009, I don't have any trips planned as of yet...but just give me a little time...they're are hundreds I want to take! 

remember, if there are things in life you want to do, FIND A WAY!  don't give up, life's too short, go ahead and DO IT now!

Celebrate your life now....today....don't wait

thanks....and may wonderful, magnificent surprises fill your world in 2009

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