Zion National Park

The name Zion means promised land. Everything in this park was created by water seeking its level, eroding the mighty canyons of this magnificent area.

Terry and I are boondocking. That means we are camping on public land called BLM. The Bureau of Land Management is run by the Department of the Interior, part of the federal government. There are a few rules for camping in BLM, but basically it’s all about respecting the land and wildlife. Easy enough. We depend on water we bring in the RV tank as well as drinking water we have in containers. If we must have electricity, we run the generator. We haven’t done much with buying solar panels. But we see other RVs with them. This camping experience is beautiful and uplifting. But I still have a deep longing for stability and a home that is stationary. It’s confusing and upsetting for me to feel this way, in such a peaceful setting. Anyway, enough of my whining. Let me share the good times with you!

Zion National Park is a very happening place. It’s Spring Break for lots of families, so the park is especially crowded. Shuttles run through the park to take people to different viewpoints and trails, but the lines were soooooo long! And talk about whining! If you have ever waited in a line with a kid, you will know what I mean. Now, for Terry’s brilliant idea! We have bikes on the Toad, so…we rode about 4 miles to the trailhead! Gorgeous scenery and a doable ride!

The hike I chose is called Emerald Pools. Although the scenery was amazing, the crowds of people kinda spoiled some of it for us. Still, we trekked along, taking it all in.

Ok, that last photo is not the most flattering picture, but whatever 🙄. The hike was a moderate 5 miles with some elevation. It always helps to use the hiking poles. It’s like having 4 legs!

We were able to finish the last mile on a solitary path that runs along the river. Time to cool off the sore feet!

The ride back to the car was challenging. There was a wicked headwind whipping through the canyon. We made it back, no worries. Just a good day of my favorite things.

The next day I decided to plan us a hike that would not involve any crowds. I found an alternate entrance to the park, but it’s really only for remote hiking and some camping. The hike is called Left Fork/Subway. If you know anything about Zion, you will know that some of the hikes either suggest or require guides. Subway is one of them. We certainly were not up to that, but we chose to hike Left Fork as far as we felt like. What a treat!

We only saw 4 people the whole time. Yessssssss!

The hike was great until it got very steep with narrow ledges and drop offs that were dangerous. I tried to navigate a little further on my own, but I know when the mountain wins.

Last night there was a series of thunderstorms. I was hoping for a rainbow, but this is all I got.

The rain brings out the beauty of the desert.

It also brings lots of red mud. Taking up camp was not great fun this morning. But it’s time to move on, toward Bryce National Park. I’m trying continuously to experience each moment, embrace and accept my feelings, whether or not they are what I expect. Peace to you. ✌🏿

Las Vegas NV

Hot. Sunny. Wild. Although it’s not my favorite place, it sure was lots of fun! This photo says a lot:

At first, we tried to get PeeWee downtown so we could stay for free at a casino. Well, that was not a great idea. The traffic was insane, and when you are 55 feet from end to end, you have to choose your route carefully. Plan B, The Hitchin’ Post RV park to the rescue! Pool, laundry, full hook ups; yeah baby! It’s the little things in life, right?

Terry and I splurged for an Uber to the downtown area of Vegas. 😂 First stop, The Golden Nugget. I was hoping to see George Clooney or Brad Pitt, but no such luck. And no luck at Jacks are Better, either. 🙄

They have an indoor pool area with a shark tank!!

Now those are some happy children! I’m not sure LV would be my choice for a family vacation, but that pool might change my mind.

Next stop; The Strip. Crazy with tourists of all kinds. Caesar’s Palace and the Bellagio, The Flamingo; all places I’ve heard of but never experienced. The sun sets and the city lights begin their entertainment.

We enjoyed dinner and a few drinks…

Then we strolled along, people watching and just taking it all in.

I would return to Las Vegas to see a show, but not Donny and Marie. I remember seeing The Osmonds at Arlington Park race track back in 1973. They did not meet my expectations, even when I was in 7th grade.

It’s always a party with this happy man. Good thing I’m the voice of reason. Or else he would have spent the nest egg.😳

San Diego again

Finally! The part of the trip that I have been waiting for was even better than I expected! 4 days of celebration for Meredith Kavanagh and Dean Palmer. These two lovely people said their wedding vows at La Jolla Cove in front of close friends and family. I’ve known Meredith her entire life. Her mother Maryl and I are dearest friends. To be a part of this event meant the world to me.

We couldn’t be happier for Meredith. Dean is a wonderful, compassionate, fun loving man who adores his angel girl.

Maryl is like a big sister to me. She always makes herself available when you need her. Being her friend feels so natural; I can feel her love whether I’m near or far. I had the good fortune to meet her when we both were having our first babies. We have been inseparable ever since.

Meredith and Stephanie are just like us (only younger and more dramatic LOL)!

The wedding was so much fun! We ate great food and danced the night away. I hear there is a video with me dancing like it’s 1999. Oh well, I wasn’t the only one!

It was great spending time with Jack and Stephanie. Here we are at my favorite place, Hotel Del Coronado.

Stephanie and I enjoyed a harbor cruise on the Hornblower with Meredith, friends and family.

The oldsters went to Cabrillo National Monument.

I love these two chicas! Always a good time when Chris and Maryl are involved. And now for a group shot:

My face hurts from smiling! 😆

Lake Havasu AZ

This trip was very spontaneous. Both Terry and I were interested in seeing this area between California and Arizona. Lots of snowbirds with big RV’s and dudes with 4 wheel buggies. Also, this is a boater’s paradise. The Colorado River runs wide here, so you see all sorts of watercraft.

We were not able to camp in one of the state parks, which was unfortunate because they looked really nice. But, we got a space with water and electricity for 24$ per night at LaPaz County campground. Good location; right across the road from a golf course!

Terry quickly made us a tee time. Good thing, because we heard that it was very hard to get one. He was lucky because just as he arrived at the pro shop, someone called to cancel. 🍀

Golfing was a blast! I whooped Terry’s butt on the front 9. Had my best round ever. We were paired with a wonderful couple from Albuquerque. They were clearly regular golfers, so I stepped up my game. Thanks, Dennis and Judi!

Warning. Snakes are a common sighting. That means no looking for a lost ball in the scrub.

Terry rallied and kicked my butt on the back nine. 😉

Our afternoon was spent at a local bar watching Loyola beat Nevada. No one else seemed very interested in the game. Kind of a NASCAR crowd. Beers were cheap, though.👍 After we left the bar it rained a little, which made for great photos.

The next day was another great Arizona experience! The weather was so perfect for the hike I planned. It’s called Crack in the Mountain. I loved it!

This hike is rated moderate. It’s a 5.5 mile in and back hike with some elevation. The tricky parts are navigating the canyon.

Being deep in the canyon was nice because it gave us some reprieve from the hot sun. People were helping each other to make it through the “crack” safely.

Much of the hike was through a gravel wash that fills with rushing water in a summer rainstorm. We were lucky to see a little wildlife. We saw 3 mountain goats, one Chuckwalla lizard, and a rattlesnake!

Oh yes we did! When we lived in Colorado, Terry had told me that he wanted to get bit by a rattlesnake. Well after seeing this 5 footer, he has changed his mind!

I really love hikes that involve getting to water. Check out the beauty of this destination:

A perfect place for our sandwiches and a cool drink. We both took our shoes off and soaked our feet in the waters of Lake Havasu. Gorgeous!

The return hike was different because the trail took us up high. The views were amazing!

I enjoyed the trail back because of its different perspective.

Springtime in the desert! Such a beautiful sight.☺️

That evening provided us with another gentle sunset.

Terry and I ended up going back to the same place to watch Loyola and Kansas State. A few more people were interested in this game, but not many. How exciting that our team is in the Final Four!!! Go Ramblers!

So here is a map of the Lake Havasu area.

If you like boats, ATV’s , warm weather, and good people, check out Lake Havasu City. Good times!

Now, on our way back to California. See you in El Centro!

Chicago 🍀

It means home and family to us. Even with chilly, windy temperatures (which we are not used to), we loved seeing our city as it pushes through winter into spring.

Terry had his appointment with his cardiologist and he’s good to go. 🍀

We watched Loyola win over Miami at Murphy’s bleacher bar in Wrigleyville. The park is under major construction and opening day is right around the corner. Git r done!

Friday was a VERY fun day with Stephanie, Katie, and Mary Joyce. Wedding dress shopping!!

You didn’t think I was going to give you a sneak peek of her dress choices, did you? But I will tell you, it’s going to be a tough choice. She looks gorgeous in everything!

Just think, two weddings in 2018. It makes this mama so proud and happy!

And then came Saturday…St. Patrick’s Day. Leprechauns out in full force!

Chicago does not care if it’s cold and windy. We start early and end late. And, we went to a wedding that evening!

And my glasses broke 10 minutes later. Ugh!

Sunday was my mother in law Barbara’s 88th birthday. She is such a lovely person and we are lucky to have her with us.

What a crew!

Later that evening, we went to the Blackhawks game, compliments of my future son, Jack Joyce.

It was great fun, even though I was really tired! I just can’t miss an opportunity to be with my kids.

And finally, Monday arrived with slightly warmer temperatures and sunny skies. Terry and I walked to the conservatory to take in the beauty of the Spring Flower Show.

If you get a chance, go here. Sit on one of the benches and take in the warm, humid air. It’s such a treat, especially for Chicagoans braving the end of a long, cold season.

Then we walked home, through the zoo. What a treat to see some animals.

And there you have it. Now, we are headed to O’Hare, back to pick up PeeWee and the Toad in Phoenix. I hear it’s warm there.☀️😉

Ahhhh…Florida!

Florida is unique with its southern charm and prolific vegetation. Flowers are everywhere!

Seafood is the norm, and that is great with me. I even went wild and ordered shrimp and grits with okra on the side. Oh yes I did!

First Florida stop was at our dear friends Andre and Helen in Pompano Beach. We had so much fun that I even forgot to take pictures! Here are a few:

No pictures of Helen, and that’s unfortunate because she is a natural beauty. And such a lovely hostess.

Terry and Andre connected with their old buddy Harry at Ft. Lauderdale Country Club. Just like old times.

Next stop; Sanibel Island. Good friends and our own beach.

The Creevys are dear, old friends of ours. We don’t see them as often as we used to, but when we do, we pick right up where we left off.

Sanibel is wild, old Florida. You can walk the beach for miles.

The pelicans are always putting on a show!

Only one not so good thing about Sanibel: the Noseeums. Those insects love my blood. Ugh! But it’s a small price to pay for such good times. And, what do I expect, it’s the tropics.

Next stop, Longwood Florida with Mark and Betsy Ford.

Terry and I enjoyed our time with both of these good friends. Betsy has the most infectious laugh and oh boy did we laugh! She’s also a teacher, so we have lots in common. Mark is a history expert, so conversation is interesting and relevant. And he’s also a musician. He knows lots of local musicians, too.

Mark arranged for us to go on a canoe trip down the Wekiva River. Talk about Jumanji!!

I had never experienced Florida in such an authentic, natural way. The river presented us with several challenges. Terry met head on with a mangrove thicket.

All in all, it was a fun, crazy day full of wildlife sightings and sunshine. 8.5 miles of real Florida, reptiles and all.

We said our goodbyes to the Fords this morning and now we are headed to Jupiter (lol not the planet). I will add to this post soon!

Well we wrapped up friendship appreciation week with a visit with Jack and Paula Birren in Jupiter Florida. They live in a condo resort-like area where everyone knows one another. Between the pool, the beach, and the seafood, what’s not to love?

We saw some great live music in the town of Sebastian. The band was rockin’ Chicago blues and the cold beer was flowing! Oh, and Harley Davidson is alive and well in South Florida (in case you were curious).

Too bad I didn’t pack my Harley tank top.

We are hoping to get some rest on the flight to Chicago. I miss my people.

Mesa, Arizona

Spring training for our Chicago Cubs in Arizona has been something both Terry and I have talked about over the years. We dreamed of flying out of cold, wet Chicago and arriving in sunny, dry Phoenix to experience the beginning of the baseball season. But our dream to get there took a detour. The dream became part of an even bigger plan that we affectionately call PeeWee’s Big Adventure. So although we have been in sunny, mostly warm weather for quite awhile, sitting in the sun in Mesa and watching our team was definitely a highlight of this trip.

Sloane Park is like a mini Wrigley Field. So many Cub fans!! Hot Dogs! 9$ beers!

My day was MADE when I got to meet Lee Smith! He was a relief pitcher for the Cubs from 1980-1987. The man had 478 saves! Oh how I loved watching Mr. Lee💙❤️💙❤️!

Terry and Lee chatted like old friends. It’s so soothing to listen to old dudes talking baseball. I can’t talk stats, but I sure love hearing them. Then Lee said, “come on give me a hug” and that was that!

Doesn’t that 1942 Cub look like a badger?? 😂😂

Our evening concluded with dinner and a drink with Chris Ford, and old friend from Wilmette.

And now Terry and I are at the airport, preparing for our Florida adventure. Ciao for now!

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride by Terry

We’re at another transitional point in our travels. We’re getting ready to take a flight from Phoenix to Ft. Lauderdale on Tuesday. That entails prepping the RV (PeeWee) for storage for 3 weeks, staying in a hotel for a night prior to departure, and parking the car while we’re away. We’ve gotten away from remote camping the last few days. It’s all part of the diversity of environments we are so fortunate to experience during this adventure.

Speaking of adventures, today Annette and I went on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I’d been told by a Euro-Canadian we met at a campsite outside of Tucson of a “don’t miss” day-trip close to where we’re staying here in Apache Junction. He was right and it was fabulous.

This map would make it appear that there is a paved road going to the junction with AZ 188.

Wrong! After we passed through an extremely crowded Tortilla Flats the paved road disappeared. We stopped at a beautiful lookout spot and, viewing the steep, rugged road from there, talked about turning back . We’d already seen some gorgeous sights; I said let’s go on. Hell, it’s not like hiking, where you have to walk and climb back when you’ve gone too far. On we went, and boy am I glad we did. At some point, the Versa (Mr. Toad) decided it was a Jeep and for the next 33 miles we climbed, bounced, and rolled through some of the most majestic country we’ve seen so far.

Sunday is a work day (nyuk, nyuk), meaning getting ready for air travel. Monday, once we’ve secured the RV, we’ll see the Cubs at a spring training game (I’ve always wanted to) and then off to see great friends in the Sunshine State. The dream goes on.

By Annette: ok i just had to post this picture of an RV putting a boat in the water. Doesn’t look real safe, does it?

Apache Junction Arizona

I wanted to stay in a place with full hookups, laundry, and a pool. I mean, it just can’t be camping and roughing it all the time. Not for me, anyway. I also wanted to be near stores, hiking, and Cubs spring training. So, here we are at Golden Sun RV Park. I may be the youngest person here. 😆

I enjoy seeing the Golden Sun residents enjoy life here in sunny Arizona. There are activities like bingo and dancing. They have a lending library and an art room. There is even a work out room. The laundry room has big tables with large puzzles that anyone can work on. It’s also cool to talk with people here. They are always glad to share a story or two about their families or their travel experiences. ☺️

Yesterday was a good day. The sky was sunny and the temperature was in the high 50’s. Not typical Arizona weather, but it’s great hiking weather. We drove the Toad up to Lost Dutchman State Park to hike Siphon Draw trail. It’s a little over 4 miles out and back with about 1,200 feet of elevation change. Totally worth the effort!

The trail is part of the Superstition Mountains in Tonto National forest. It begins cutting through wide open space with views all around.

The closer you get, the more magnificent the landscape becomes.

We took our time, stopping occasionally to take it all in. We don’t talk a lot when we hike. When we do talk, it’s not about politics or other current events. It’s all about the earth and the energy you receive when you are open to it. For me, nature has healing powers.

We made it to what is called The Basin. From there, it’s another mile with 2,000 feet elevation gain to the Flatiron. Now that’s an entire day hike. Not for us. So, Terry chilled out in The Basin while I explored a little more. The trail disappeared and I had to climb boulders to get here:

There were two other people up there, so I took their photo and they reciprocated. Getting down was tricky. It was really steep with some loose gravel. I was better off crab walking it. I’m sure I looked like a dork. Whatever. I’m alive. Notice that flat rock outcropping on the left in the photo below. That’s where I climbed to. Amazing!

Sure was good to have a snack and a rest. Oranges are plentiful in Arizona, and they travel well in a backpack.

Time to soak our old bones in the hot tub. Next post is by Terry. 👍

Picacho State Park

The weather has cooled down a bit. We had 2 days of rain which the locals said was much needed. Our only hike was not very long, but it was very pretty.

The desert is beautiful after it rains. I’m hoping to see some wildlife, especially a javelina. So far, only some birds and a tiny lizard.

We drove through Saguaro National Park on the west side. It’s a vast expanse of desert that includes a mountain forest.

There are lots of “snowbirds” here in Arizona. One of the things snowbirds do in the winter is play golf. I’ve been feeling guilty when I am on the golf course. Aren’t I supposed to be working? I’m not ready to retire.

Terry is loving this retired life. He’s always smiling. I’m happy about that☺️.