Columbia River Gorge

We are all settled in at Viento State Park in Oregon, right on the Columbia River Gorge, which of course is one of the seven wonders of Oregon. Bill and I will get to spend some quality time at three of the seven wonders of Oregon while we are here. In addition to the Columbia River Gorge, and Mt. Hood, we will spend six weeks in Prospect Oregon, which is about 30 miles from Crater Lake, which is another of the seven wonders of Oregon.

Our campsite here in Viento is nothing to dance and shout about… but the surrounding area just outside the campground is gorgeous!

 

Shantel, the trees are amazing. Huge, with branches full of leaves that cascade down to the ground.

There are trains that run 24/7 right beside the park and every time one passes by the park they are required to blow their horn at least four times, and it is loud! The pictures I took today are all cloudy looking, but actually it is smoke from wildfires burning in Montana and Washington State. The wind is carrying the smoke all over our area…

This next picture shows how close the train tracks are to the campground. There is a fence pole just a couple of feet to the left of the train tracks and that is the gate to our campground.

Papa/Bill and I took a walk down to see the Columbia River Gorge this morning and saw a big ship pushing a barge down the river. Just on the other side of the Columbia River Gorge is Washington State.

Papa and I decided we both needed to dip our toe in the Columbia River Gorge… just to say we did. The next picture is Papa going first.

Then, I took my turn, and tried to be as graceful as possible, while trying to balance on one foot as I dipped the toe of my other foot in the river.

This next picture is just showing the mountains on the Washington State side of the river.

And another shot of a huge rock, as big as a small mountain, sitting out in the middle of the river.

Papa/Bill and I decided to ditch the freeway, and took a nice drive up Historic Highway 30 to the city of Dalles. It is the largest city on the Oregon side along the Columbia River, outside of the Portland Metropolitan area. It was a beautiful scenic drive up one side of a mountain and down the other side. We could see the smoke from the wildfires even more as we got closer to the top of the mountain.

Everywhere you look are big beautiful trees, mountains, and of course that spectacular Columbia River Gorge.

 

Papa/Bill took a picture of me sitting on a wall overlooking all the scenery, and I said “yep, nothing but just pure beauty everywhere you look”. Ha!

We had lunch at the Dalles, and even through all the smoke-filled air…it was still a beautiful day. And, I’m hoping all this smoke will make for a spectacular sunset picture since I never did get one at the ocean.

Shantel, Papa and I love and miss you and are so proud of you.

Stay Tuned!

 

 

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Tears in Heaven

I’ve heard it said that when we get to heaven there will be no more tears and no more pain… But I now believe there will be tears in heaven, at least for me there will be.

Today is our daughter, Shantel’s, birthday. She is 24 years old today.

Shantel lost both her eyes to cancer before she was two years old. Because she was so young when she lost her sight, she doesn’t know what Bill and I look like. In fact, when she first lost her sight, I would always say “hi, Shantel, it’s mama” whenever I picked her up from her crib etc. so she would learn to recognize my voice.

As she got older, and I would go to pick her up from daycare, or even a little later when I would go to pick her up from school…, I would always approach her saying “hi Shantel, it’s mama”, and she would always answer “hi mama”.

A couple of weeks ago I had a dream that was so real, and affected me so profoundly, that I couldn’t even tell Bill about it because it just overwhelmed me with emotion. I dreamed I had passed away, and was in heaven, and I became aware that it was Shantel’s time to come to heaven, and I was sent to meet her at the gates of heaven. I stood at the gates of heaven and watched as Shantel approached me. Of course, she could see now because she was made whole and had both her natural eyes again. As she came closer to me I said “hi Shantel”, and she looked into my eyes and said “mama”? I said “yes”, and she said “oh, mama, you’re so beautiful”, and we hugged each other so long, and so hard, and let me tell you there were tears in heaven that day… tears of pure joy!

Happy Birthday, Shantel.

I love you,

Mama

Danny And Bea

One year ago this coming July, my brother, Danny, lost his beloved wife, Bea. Bea died in their home, very suddenly, and very unexpectedly.

Danny and Bea were married 28 years. In addition to being husband and wife, they were the best of friends. Bea was a beautiful person, both inside and out. She loved Danny with all her heart, and was the perfect mate for him. They both worked hard, and enjoyed the life they built together. With Bea’s passing, Danny found himself alone in their home, with just their three dogs, and memories of Bea everywhere you look.

It goes without saying that this past year has been very, very, hard on Danny. Bea’s passing was so stressful for him, he got shingles, so bad, that it got into his spine, and was in his ear, to the point the doctor was afraid it was going to get in his brain. So the doctor had to put him in the hospital, on morphine, to try to get the pain under control, and to give him anti-viral medications through an IV. The shingles caused some nerve damage in Danny’s neck that he is still dealing with today.

At her request, Bea is buried in Winslow Arizona where she grew up. Winslow is about an hour and a half from Cottonwood, and Cottonwood is just a few miles from where Bill and I are staying in Camp Verde.. Yesterday, Danny called me and asked if Bill and I wanted to go with him to visit Bea’s grave and see the headstone he bought to mark it.

We stopped along the way and bought flowers to take to Bea. Danny gave her the pink roses that have a small heart-shaped stone attached that reads “my angel”. Bill and I took the red, white, and blue flowers so she would also be all fixed up for the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday. We love and miss you Bea, rest in peace sweet lady.

After a lot of consideration, thought, and research this past year, Danny decided he wants, and needs, to make a change now. He is going to sell his home in the town of Maricopa, and move to Cottonwood Arizona. He has already purchased a piece of property in Cottonwood, and is going to have a Cavco modular home built, and put on the property.

Bill and I went with Danny to see the property he purchased. Here are some pictures.

It is a large, fenced, corner lot, surrounded by big, beautiful trees. It has all city utilities i.e., electric, water, sewer, and he is going to have a 50 amp electric receptacle installed so when Bill and I come to visit, we can just plug our rig into his electric…

Danny said he will have the property smoothed out, and have the fire pit that is currently in the front yard removed, and put gravel, and pretty landscaping in his yard.

I asked Danny when he expects to move to this property. He said he hopes to have his home in Maricopa sold, and be ready to move to his new home in Cottonwood within a year. I’m so happy for you Danny, and I love the property and know that this is going to be the perfect place for you, and your three dogs to live. I honestly believe Bea would agree.

Now, I want to note here that Bea was the one sister-in-law I had that enjoyed having wine with me when she came to visit. We had many good times at my house just talking and sipping our wine. She also enjoyed going to the casino every now and then. She and Danny would go to the casino for breakfast sometimes, and she would always want to go play the machines for an hour.  So, in honor of Bea, and to celebrate Danny’s new soon to be home in Cottonwood, Bill, Danny, and I went to the Cliff Castle Casino last night. We sat at the bar and I sipped wine, Danny had some beer, and Bill, being the designated driver, played a round or two on a poker machine. And we all shared some nachos.

While we were enjoying our drinks, nachos, and talking about what all Danny wants to do to his new place, a man sitting beside Danny struck up a conversation with us. He said he was a used car salesman, and that he also had a upholstery business in Cottonwood. He was well dressed, and looked like your normal run of the mill guy. However, as we were all getting ready to leave, that man looked over and noticed we hadn’t eaten all the nachos, and asked if he could have our leftovers!!! I mean, who does that? I swear we laughed about that all the way back home. It was just the perfect comic relief we needed to end our day.

Stay Tuned!

Down By The Creek

Bill and I took a walk down by the creek yesterday. Look at all the cool things we saw, and I captured with my “big girl” camera. I don’t even know what a lot of this stuff is, but I thought it as pretty, and I had fun practicing taking pictures.

Halfway through our walk, we came upon the creek. Picture perfect spot with the sound of the water running, and the birds were chirping, so, so, peaceful.

The roots of this tree we exposed due to a time when the creek ran a little high. “how high’s the water, mama..”

I don’t know what happened to this tree. Kind of reminded me of the last day’s of summer…looks spent to me, but I also thought it was very cool looking!

Couldn’t resist trying to capture these tiny orange butterflies.

I noticed there are a lot of spider webs throughout the park.

This plant was growing right on the side of a cliff that over looks the creek.

Love the tall grasses dancing in the wind along the side of the creek. So graceful.

There are cairns everywhere…

And there are spots where the water is still, and reflects the shadows of the trees around the creek.

Don’t know who, or what, lives in this whole, and I wasn’t going to poke around to find out!

This place is so pretty, it just makes me want to hug a tree!

Stay Tuned!

Tom’s Thumb

One of the many things I love about living in Arizona is the wide open spaces of the Sonoran Desert. Other than my devote faith, and prayer life, spending time walking/hiking in the beautiful Sonoran Desert is where I find peace, and where I feel the most at home.

This morning Bill and I took a 20 minute drive from our home at McDowell Mountain Regional Park, to the Scottsdale McDowell Sonoran Preserve Trails, where the Tom’s Thumb trailhead is located. We have heard so much about the Tom’s Thumb hike that we wanted to go and see for ourselves what that hike is all about.

When we arrived at the Tom’s Thumb trailhead, and read the information provided about that hike, we quickly decided that was not going to be the trail for us. Tom’s Thumb is a 5 mile, steep hike, up a mountain, and is rated as extremely difficult. If my hips were 20 years younger, and I was about 20 pounds lighter in the trunk…, perhaps I would have considered taking that hike. However, as Bill and I looked at that trail before us, both Bill and I decided we are not about extreme difficult, we are all about extreme FUN!!!

So, we decided we would take the Marcus Land Slide hike instead. The Marcus Land Slide hike is in the same general area as Tom’s Thumb, but it is rated as moderately difficult, which is much more to our liking.

We were amazed at all the beautiful rock formations on the Marcus Land Slide hike. Take a look.

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From the trailhead where we started our hike we were on a constant downhill walk that over looks the desert floor. However, as Bill reminded me… “one that hikes down…must also hike back up… True, but at least it was a gentle down and up again hike. My hips thanked me for the exercise without pushing them into “extreme pain”.

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The rock formations in the picture below are called mushrooms and subsurface weathering.

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Along with really cool rock formations, I am always amazed by the wide variety of cactus formations as well.

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I was so busy trying to take pictures of all the things to be seen that I kept falling behind Bill on our hike…

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But not to worry, we always catch up with each other and take time to just stop, be still, and take in all the beauty around us.

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How can one not be at peace when looking at scenery like this in the stillness of the desert?

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Then, after a few hours of hiking out in the lovely 70 degree weather, we came back home and had a delicious lunch of mini-bacon wrapped meatloaf, with crunchy fried onions on top, and mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. I made this last night for our dinner and made sure to make enough to heat up for our lunch today… Yummers!

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I couldn’t ask for any better way to spend a beautiful afternoon with my very best friend/husband! 🙂

Stay Tuned!

Campsite Views

Some of our adult children and their children are coming this summer to visit Bill and I here in Buffalo Bill State Park. Our daughter, (little) Katie, her husband, Josh, and our two granddaughters, Alex, and Emma, will be here from July 28th through August 1st. Then, our son Pat, and his family will arrive the weekend of August 12th. They all live in Grand Junction Colorado and we are so excited for them to be making the trip to Wyoming to visit us… They will be tent camping, and we got permission for them to be in our location (where our motorhome is parked) …, but we are on a hill and there is no level spot for them to put up their tent… So Bill and I told them that we thought they would be more comfortable in the campground… The campground is so beautiful and for $17.00 cash, or check (no credit cards or debit) per night, they can stay in the beautiful campground and be close to restrooms and the showers…

So I thought I would make this blog post all about what they will see when they come here to camp..Katie and family, & Pat and family.. this is for you… Dad and I can’t hardly wait for you all to get here…

This is the view of one loop of the campgrounds from our home.

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This is the tent section of the campgrounds… Notice that they have wind breakers for tent campers…but it is first come, first serve, with all campsites except those with electric which have to be reserved…So you can be where ever you want as long as you let us know in advance so we can reserve it for you… Dad said you all know how the wind blows almost ALL the time in Wyoming… so if it were me… I would want the wind breaker tent sites… just saying…

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This is the view you will have from the campgrounds…

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I captured this picture of these ducks heading to shore from the river… notice the one white “odd man/woman out..” following up the rear.. That white duck stays with the group all the time…

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This is the view you will have as you look up the river… Just between those mountains is where the Buffalo Bill Dam’s Visitor Center is located.

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This is the view from the campground looking towards where Dad and I are parked, just behind the house on that hill…

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Believe it or not.. we actually have pelican’s protroling the river for fish…

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See that cut out square looking cave in the center of this picture…? We have been told a bald eagle nests in there every year..

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OK, this is our campsite, where we, and our new neighbors, and fellow site stewards, Bob and Becky reside along with our law enforcement officer, Sam, and fellow co-workers, maintenance crew, Paula, and Dale, reside… As you can see, no one has their awnings out to provide any shade.. because the wind almost NEVER stops blowing here in beautiful Wyoming… Notice our flag is flying high… So you just have to suck it up, and enjoy the beautiful scenery and forget about the wind…

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Speaking of Bob and Becky, they turned a really ugly site in front of the garage of the (long ago vacated) house we are parked behind into what we are sure to be a tomato producing patch… They took out all these weeds…

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And planted tomato vines with flowers that are supposed to repel the rabbits…

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This is the view we have from the front window of our motorhome.

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This is the view we have from our dining table window…

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Also wanted to share that one of our duties as site stewards is to collect drift wood from the beach when we have time and deposit it into the wood shed that the camp host have in front of their camp site and is offered to visitors for a donation… I saved this one for us because I loved the shape, and I knew Bill could carve our names on it and I could put my favorite incense, Nag Champa, sticks in the crevices of the wood as shown below…

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So in addition to our awning that is attached to our motorhome, which we can’t use when the wind is blowing really hard…. We also have an umbrella on a stand that we can rotate around so we have shade where we need it ..Notice it is laying down beside our picnic table because, did I mention that the wind almost NEVER stops blowing here in beautiful Wyoming…?

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All in all, we are having the time of our lives… and we just have to accept the good (beautiful sights) with the bad (almost constant high blowing winds..)

So counting the days until you and your family get here, then when Pat and his family come… Love you all so much…

Stay Tuned!

So Beautiful, It Made Me Cry..

Being a mother who raised a child that lost both eyes to cancer before the age of two, leaving her blind for life, I’ve certainly seen my share of extreme lows, that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, as my husband and I helped Shantel establish herself in our sighted world.. I’ve also watched her soar to amazing heights as she accomplished each goal set for her throughout her schools years, and later, as an adult, I watched her accomplish the goals she set for herself i.e. earning two degrees at the same time in college, moving out of our home and establishing a life for herself in her own apartment, and now, the goal of landing a full-time job that will allow her to become fully financially independent, and a contributing member of society…

I didn’t have time when I was raising Shantel to feel sorry for her, or for myself, as her mother. I had to keep my mind on the goal, and commitment, I made to myself of making sure all of Shantel’s needs were met in school, and that she learned how to take care of herself since I knew I wouldn’t always be there for her to depend on… So, I kept my feeling and emotions in check as best I could, and tried always to keep our family moving in a positive, forward direction… With the help of my husband, Bill, we were able to accomplish what we set out to do…

Shantel has been living on her own for the past two years, and Bill and I are finally retired, and able to work/camp and travel around the country in our RV. I am, for the first time, realizing that as I am seeing things I’ve never seen before, I’m not trying to find ways to explain to Shantel the beauty that each new place holds like I did all throughout the years we were raising her in our sighted world… I never minded for a minute being Shantel’s sighted guide, but now that I’m no longer in that role, every time I visit a new place, or see something beautiful that I’ve never seen before…, I find myself still really taking in everything I see, and thinking to myself… how would I ever explain all this beauty to my precious Shantel…?

Yesterday, Bill and I visited the upper and lower falls of Yellowstone Park. We took the same route from Buffalo Bill State Park into the east entrance of Yellowstone, and saw many of the same things we saw when we went to visit Old Faithful last week…, but this time, we saw even more…

Like this buffalo walking right down the middle of the road..

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And, a little further down the road, this one was walking right along side of the road, and I got this picture through my rolled up window, as we passed it within just a couple of feet of our car… Wow, they are BIG, and AMAZING creatures to see…

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Then we came up upon this beautiful Elk grazing on the side of the road. Just as we got right in front of it, it raised its head as if to pose for this picture I captured.. Love it!

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Finally, we arrived at the upper falls of Yellowstone, shown in the next three pictures below. OMG, I was not prepared for the absolute beauty of this place…

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Next, we made our way to the lower falls area… The next two pictures are at the beginning of the lower falls. Again, so, so, beautiful.

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This area is called the “Grand Canyon” of the Yellowstone…

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Bill and I hiked the 1/4 mile to the lookout point… That is Bill, just ahead of me… I know…, he always says he has to “drag” me out on the hiking trails… Well, some of us know better than that… 🙂

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But, every step of the way of this little hike is absolutely, amazingly, beautiful..

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We ended our trip with a picnic lunch right there in the middle of all this beauty… As I was eating, and just taking in all the beautiful scenery around me… I felt my eyes starting to sting…and I found myself fighting back tears… Like so many of us that think we always have to keep our emotions and feelings in check so as not to put a damper on a beautiful, joyful, experience…I tried hard to not let my emotions show…

 In my younger years… I would have continued to do just that… but, instead, I looked at my loving husband, Bill, and said.. ” All of this is just so beautiful, and amazing to me, and I feel so blessed to have the opportunity to even be here to experience this… But, it also is making me sad right now as I ponder that our precious Shantel will never see any of this… and, if she were here… how would I ever explain just how beautiful all of this really is…? At that moment… I gave myself permission to just give into my emotions, and just cry…

When our precious, Shantel, lost her sight, both Bill and I asked, and offered, to give up our own eyes if they could be transplanted to allow her to see.. But that was not, and still is not, an option for Shantel..

So, as we continue to move forward with our lives… And every now and then, when I see something  “so beautiful, it makes  me cry…” I allow myself that “minute” as I revert back to my sighted guide days with Shantel, and wonder just how would I explain this kind of beautiful to her… ?

It was an amazing and beautiful day. I allowed myself the rare opportunity to have a good cry…,

I’m good now…, so ..Upper & lower falls 15

Stay Tuned!

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