Thursday, March 12, 2009

Back Home

We got back home to McHenry at about 6:30 pm today. We stayed in St. Louis area last night. This am we visited our old neighbors from when we lived in St. Louis (actually Florissant, Mo.) Agnes and her son Jim are still living in the house next to the one we lived in for about 3 years. The surrounding area has changed so much due to people, business, and highway polution that it is very hard to remember how to navigate the area. As we drove around we often asked each other if this is the same town we used to live in? Of course it was 39 years ago when we left so things do change. We tried to find the Hospital where Scott was born, but could not find it. Agnes told us that it was torn down a few years ago and replaced with a different medical center. Guess it was just worn out as buildings go these days.
We will add a few more final items on the trip, but first have to see what TiVo has recorded and get caught up on a few tv reality programs.

This is the house we lived in some 39 years ago. It really does not look much different from when we lived there.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tulsa Ok

Tonight we are settled in Tulsa Oklahoma.

The trip was uneventful except for an auto malfunction. The right rear blinker bulb burned out. Guess I had been changing lanes too often. Anyway we asked Garmin to take us to a Wal-Mart for a new bulb and she took us to a Sam's club. That did not help us as we have no Sam's membership. Looked down the street and saw one of those auto parts stores. Got the bulb. The temp was about 40 with a very hard wind blowing so we parked on the down wind side of the auto parts store to change the bulb. To remove the tail light/bulb assembly the instructions say use a large screwdriver to pry out two clips. Well, a spoon served the purpose and I got the plugs out and the new bulb installed. Working fine now.
We had a very nice tail wind all day. It looks like our luck is running out tomorrow as we drive to St. Louis we may have a head wind and possibly a cold one at that.
Garmin log is 5970 miles traveled. Did not take a single picture today.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Last night we drove into Albuquerque just as it was getting dark. It was so pretty coming into the city at dusk. It was also nice to finally get to our destination and get out of the wind and it was 28 degrees out. That felt pretty darn cold to us after the warmer weather we have been in on this trip. We had plans to spend the morning here visiting the Old Town area, having coffee at one of the little cafes and then wandering around and checking out some of the neat shops. Instead, we woke up to pouring rain. 72 days without rain here and it decides to rain today. So, we had our coffee at the motel and then drove to Old Town and drove around until the stores opened. The rain did let up to an annoying drizzle by then, so we were able to walk around and see the place and do a bit of shopping. Even in the rain, it was still fun. There was an awesome scene done in bronze (I think) on the lawn by The Albuquerque Museum. Rich took some pictures of it, but at this time, do not know if they turned out or not. If so, he may include one on this blog. By then, it was time for us to head out to Amarillo. It was still drizzling, but as we got out of town, it turned into snow flurries. We came all this way to get out of snow! It did not last too long and soon we had driven out of it. After that, the temperature climbed up as far as 70 as we got closer to Texas. The landscape really changed, too, from mountains to flatlands. Even with another time change, we got to Amarillo in late afternoon. We had time to drive around a little and have a nice dinner at The Texas Roadhouse and then get back to see most of Dancing With The Stars. Hey, I have my priorities. This is Dancing With the Stars we are talking about. Tomorrow we will be on our way to Tulsa, OK.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Petrified Forest and Painted Desert

Today we headed east from Flagstaff and drove through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert located about 100 miles east of Flagstaff. We entered the National Park from the south and drive through it to the north. Seeing all the petrified logs all over the place is quite interesting to think that at one time there out on the high plains desert there was once a forest and swamp land area. The painted desert at the North end of the park is very colorful and pretty to observe.
After the park we continued east on I-40. Most of the view from before the Az/NM state line all the way to Albuquerque is very scenic. There are large bluffs of various colors and shapes lining the valley that the road follows. You can imagine about any place you look as a back drop for a scene out of one of the old (or new) western movies.
We are now located in a motel in Albuquerque after driving into the early evening darkness. The plan for tomorrow is to drive 285 miles to Amarillo Tx so it will be an easy day and hope to explore Albuquerque a little before heading east again.
The Garmin log now shows 5289 miles traveled.

A scene at the Painted Desert area in the northern end of the park

A group of petrified logs. Nancy is a little petrified also as it was very very windy while in the high 50's. The wind chill was making it feel cool.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Grand Canyon tour

Today we left Las Vegas at about 9am local. We had been staying in the CircusCircus hotel and had to have some breakfast and check out before we could roll. The night before we were wondering around CircusCircus and noted a McDonalds near the circus ring and I was building up an appetite for a McDonalds breakfast so we spent some time re-finding that McDonalds. It has apparently been moved from one end of the complex to the other in the night, but we found it anyway. What a large maze of stuff they have there within several buildings.

We got to the Grand Canyon area about 2:30 and wondered around the viewing area for several minutes trying to understand their dumb map. It is not drawn to scale and for someone used to normal maps it was very confusing. We finally found a place to park the car and jumped aboard their interpark bus system. We made a few stops and then got on the line that covers the West ridge viewing area. I took a large number of pictures but they are still in my camera. By the end of the tour of the west ridge it was right at sunset time. The sun did set as we rode the bus back to the starting point. Then another bus to get to where we left the car. It was dark by the time we got going. Got to Flagstaff Az and our motel at about 9:30 local. That is where I am sending this message from at this time. Look in later as I may put in a few pictures. It was about 28 degrees when we got here and that is the lowest temp we have been since we left home about a month ago. Heading east during the change to daylight savings time means that we will have to go through 3 hours of time change before we get home. I am not looking forward to losing those 3 hours. Arizona is the only place that does not change, but we are still 1 hour off from them coming in from California.
Garmin report: We have traveled 4937 miles since we left home. It says we have to travel 1704 more miles to get home. We plan to be home this coming Thur. (pm).

Las Vegas

Well you know what they say, "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas".

Especially when the cost to get internet connection is $11.95 per day.

Death Valley Report

Info to follow.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Heading back East

Yesterday we drove from Fremont to Barstow Ca. We drove down hwy 99 for a different route. Not a very exciting drive, but did see more Calif. farm country. The drive between Bakersfield and Barstow was very nice scenery. Started into the mountains and then down into a valley where we went on the edge of the Mojave Desert. Went past where Edwards Air Force Base is located, but did not see the Base at all as it is apparently way of to the south of where we drove on hwy 58.
It looks like we are having a heat wave back home. Here is is reported to be 39 this am. I expect to see 60 before the day is over. We are heading up through Death Valley and then in to Las Vegas for the night.
The sun is shinning very bright and no clouds in sky so we need to get rolling now.
Garmin says we have traveled 4199 miles since we left.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Udate completed

Please scan down to the section titled "Catch Up for Several Days" as we finally got the update completed. A rainy day in San Francisco helped with the update.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Gemma Pictures By Rosi

The following pictures were taken by Rosi during the past few days
Really moving at the Gym

Be careful up there

At the Children's Museum

Playing in the Sand exhibit at Children's Museum

Walking the beam a the Gym

Looking down at a turtle in the park

Believe it or not Grandpa is trying to keep Gemma out of the water

Trying to get Gemma to relax on the bench

Inspecting the berries she found

At the fountain with the water flowing

Gemma Pictures

At the Gym

Rosi gets artistic at the Children's Museum

Scott and Gemma

Swimming in the blocks of foam pool at the Gym

Blitz and Gemma

Water funnel at the Children's Museum

Eating spaghetti

Checking out the fountain at the condo complex

Gemma and Rosi looking at trees in bloom at the park

Watching TV

Thursday, February 26, 2009

San Francisco tour with Carol and Ralph

Wed Feb 25

Today we joined up with Carol and Ralph and set out for a tour of some areas of San Francisco that they had not seen before.
First we drove from Fremont over the long San Mateo bridge (about 7 miles long) to Half Moon Bay which is on the ocean about directly west of Fremont but across the bridge and over the mountains.
We watched the waves and some surfers working them along the beach. The waves were very strong this am and the tide was apparently at high tide based on the water level. We nearly got splashed a couple times by a monster wave that came in and whacked against the rocks on the shore. If you stand around with the waves hitting like that you soon have a coating of salt residue on your glasses and the car windshield.
Then we drove north up the coast to Pacifica. There we went to a large pier that we have been at before and walked out on this pier. There are always people on the pier fishing for Dungenous Crab. We even saw one person catch one. Unfortunately for the fisherman, the crab's shell measured 5.75 inches and needed to measure 6 inches to keep him so back in the water he went.
The following picture was taken out at the end of the pier looking back at land. This guy stood still long enough for me to get his picture. Notice how green the hills in the background are. They have had a lot of rain in the area over the past few days and the grass is really growing green now. The area is about as green as we have ever seen it now. We have seen it in its brown state more often than green. Now and for about a month will probably be its greenest times.

Our next stop was at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge where we had a little trouble with the parking meter, but after having it eat a few quarters, we finally got enough to register so we took off to walk out on the Golden Gate Bridge. I waned to have at least 1.5 hours to walk out and back and the meter was only registering about 3/4 of the quarters we fed it.

We walked out to the first main support where we took the next picture.

This is proof that Carol and Ralph did make it out the the first main support of the bridge. We took a few other pictures as well but I like this spot best.

After the bridge hike, we headed to Fisherman's Warf where we had the traditional Sour Bread Bowl of Clam Chowder.

We drove back home to Fremont via the Bay Bridge which some of you may recall had a big problem in previous earth quake. It is a 2 layer bridge. The traffic going towards the city is on the top layer and the traffic going east is the bottom layer. We were in the lower level. No earth quakes today.

Catch up for several days

Update 3/01/09
It is Sunday afternoon and kind of rainy. Rich is working on putting up shelves in the garage for Rosi and Scott, so I will try to catch up on our blog. We left Scottsdale February 19th to drive to Burbank. It was another case of bad planning as the sun was just setting and right in our eyes when we got to Burbank and resulted (even with Garmin telling us what to do) in a couple of wrong turns. It still only cost us about 20 minutes, so not bad. I don’t know how we ever would have done this trip without the GPS. We had a good visit with Wilma and Bruce. She had gotten us all tickets to the Jay Leno show, but they overbook, so we knew we had to be there early to make sure we got seats. It was not bad at all. There were ledges on flower beds to sit on while waiting and the NBC people came out to talk with us and give us instructions on what was going to happen. We had to go through security about the same as at the airport and then were directed into the studio and to our seats. They had tapes of previous musical guests singing to watch while we were waiting. Then Jay Leno came out to talk to us for about 15 minutes. After he went back to get ready, John Menendez came out to warm up the audience. We really enjoyed the show. The guests were good and it was very interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes. The only big surprise was how cool the studio was, temperature wise. We were all pretty chilly by the time the show had finished. It was quite an experience that we will always remember. On Saturday, we went to the Nethercutt Collection and Museum owned by Merle Norman Cosmetics. This place was amazing! It houses over 170 antique, vintage and classic automobiles in completely restored condition, plus a collection of antique hood ornaments (did you know that they even had crystal hood ornaments?), collectibles and the world’s finest assemblage of mechanical musical instruments which included everything from small music boxes to jukeboxes to a huge theater pipe organ. If you want to read more about this place, go to Then we headed to Simi Valley to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It is such a beautiful place with gorgeous scenery. We especially enjoyed going through the Air Force One that he traveled on. It is a Boeing 707 that was used by Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, H.W.Bush, Clinton and W. Bush. There was quite a difference from the Air Force One plane we got to see at the Air Museum in Tucson that was used by Kennedy and Johnson. This was really a flying White House. We saw an exact replica of the oval office, the Marine One helicopter, cars used in the motorcades and where Reagan is buried. On Sunday, we went to brunch at a restaurant by a small airport. This looked sort of like an ivy covered French farmhouse. We sat by the window and could watch the small planes and Leer Jets take off and land. Food was great. Then we drove around N. Hollywood so Rich could get a picture of the Hollywood sign. We were just a few blocks away from where the Academy Awards were held, but could not get over there as they had blocked the streets off at midnight the night before. We went back to their place to watch the Awards. Coverage started at 3PM Pacific time. Monday, we headed up to Fremont to visit Scott, Rosi and Gemma. Gemma is almost 18 months old and quite the little miss. She is so funny and cute and of course, we are not at all biased! We are very much enjoying our time with them.

Following are pictures from the discussion above:

There will be no pictures from our Jay Leno show visit as they will not allow you to even take your cameras inside the studio.

This is the "showroom" for some of the automobiles from the Nethercutt Museum. They said this was how the showrooms looked back in the Thirties when these cars were for sale. Very elaborate marble floors and pillars.

This is the 5000 pipe Theatre Pipe Organ in the Museum. When it plays it raises up from the floor by about 2 feet. They had it play music for us. They had it controlled by a Microsoft Computer program instead of a live organist during the guided tour.

When the Organ plays, the curtains in the back of the room open up to show two sets of Pipes that look like this. This is just one side of the two sets for a total of 5000 pipes. We could not use flash and my camera is not fast enough to get good picture but it demonstrates the immensity of the pipes as the hight of what is in the picture is probably about 30 ft.

These Antique Vintage cars are in a museum across the street from the first section. This picture shows one row of about 10 within the Museum.

All cars must be in perfect working condition to get a spot in the Museum. They are all very polished. You dare no even touch one or you will have a security guard standing beside you very quickly as a couple young visitors found out.

Another row of older vintage cars
Anyone on the fence about going to this museum, you should know it is all FREE. You do have to make reservations for the guided tour part.

Air Force One from the Reagan Library

The Burial Place of Ronald Reagan outside the Library

Back to Hollywood and a picture of the "Sign"

A picture of our Hosts Wilma and Bruce outside their home in Burbank.
Thanks for a great time you guys!

As we drove northward in Calif on Highway 5 we say several large fields of flowering trees. We do not know what fruit these will grow. I am sure that whatever it is, they will harvest them from all the equipment in the area.

As we got to the Palm Springs areas as we drove from Phoenix to Burbank we came across a massive group of wind chargers. This is just a sample picture form several groups of a very large cluster of chargers. One would think they could power the whole state of Calif on a windy day. We always maze at the clusters that have developed around the south of Fond du Lac. They have a long ways to go to get fully populated based on what we saw here. I was really amazed and went crazy trying to get pictures of all the fields of chargers as Nancy drove through them. Some of them were up on hill tops, and some were down in the valley with mountains on all sides. Also note the beauty of the snow covered mountains in the background.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Saguaro Del Norte

Today we drove about 30 miles east of Scottsdale to visit Saguaro Del Norte Recreation site. There is a large lake made from a dam on the Salt River. We had lunch at the on site restaurant and then tried to walk off the calories by walking along the water edge. We walked about 1.5 miles down and then back to the car. A very pretty area and the sun was shining between broken clouds so we had shed our light jackets before we got back to the car.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Tour of the Botanical Gardens

They say a picture is worth a thousand words so here is our thousand words for the day

These are pictures from our visit to the Desert Botanical Garden nestled amid the buttes of Papago Park in Phoenix. The day we visited they were having a special exhibit by Dale Chihuly a well known artist of handblown glass.

The Garden sits on 145 acres and has more than 50,000 plants on display. The garden has five thematic trails that illustrate topics such as conservation, desert living, plants and people of the Sonoran Desert, and desert wildflowers.

Tucson Sabino Canyon and Pima

In Tucson we visited the Pima Air & Space Museum. They have a very large collection of aircraft that has been used by the military as well as some experimental that never made it to production. They somehow had a collection of at least 8 Russan MIG's which I found interesting to view up close.

This is the McDonnell F4C Phantom. I am always looking for F4's at shows or exhibits such as this since I worked at McDonnell in St. Louis when this aircraft was in its hottest times and being built and used in the Vietnam war as well as other applications. It is a little sad to see them amongst the now obsolete aircraft.

The following pictures were taken while visiting the Sabino Canyon Recreation area just north east of Tuscon. You can walk up the canyon on roads or trails or take the tram up the canyon. We chose to walk, but did not make it all the way to the top. We probably made it about 1.5 miles of about 5 miles total to the top. On the trail you can see a very impressive collection of desert and desert mountain plants. I was impressed by the number of Saguaro cactus growning in the flat areas and on the mountain sides.

With the help of some fellow tourists, we saw and got a picture of a Road Runner. Can you see him purched in the tree? We saw him fly a few feet to the ground and then disappear via the ground.

It was a very nice day around 55 to 60 degrees on a Sunday and there were many other people hiking and/or running up and down the canyon trails.
After these two attractions we drove west through the Saguaro National Park (West) where we managed to get on about 10 miles of dirt roads that were very rough with washboard. From there we got back on I-10 and headed to Scottsdale to visit Al and Jean.