First Camping Trip of 2022

It’s been a couple of months since we got to get out and camp and this past week we finally got out again. We went back to an old favorite, Jackson Rancheria RV Park. We never go to the casino, we just use the RV park as a jumping off point to explore the Jackson/Sutter Creek area. We pretty much visited the same old areas we always go to. We had coffee at Choc-O-Latte in Sutter Creek, we shopped the shops in Sutter Creek and old town Jackson.

THE Choc-O-Latte, served with a chocolate dipped Oreo

We had lunch at Cavana’s Pub and Grub in Sutter Creek. There really isn’t much to tell about this trip except that we really enjoyed getting away and the sunsets are awesome!

*Insert wolf whistle*

That’s all we got this time. See you on the next trip!

2021 Year End Wrap Up

I always find it so hard to write these year end wrap up type posts, but when I do write them I’m away glad I did. It’s nice to look back over the years and see the changes. And this year has brought some changes.

Daughter gets new job: My daughter switched from working at a medical office to working in the field of security. She went from booking appointments and setting up therapies to tracking ankle monitors. It’s more money and a much easier job. Plus this company offers her more in the way of advancement. So happy for her!

Still unvaccinated: I still have the pure blood (relatively anyway) that I was born with. I believe in natural immunity and I don’t trust this new brand of “vaccine” that was rushed out under an emergency use authorization. It’s difficult because I work at a hospital and they have been pushing everyone to get vaccinated. I was able to file a religious exemption and so far they have honored that. I have found that the people who know me respect my choice. Those that do not know me, once they find out my vaccination status fall into two groups: they respect my choice, or hate me with a passion. My favorite “hater” quote is, “Why don’t you just kill yourself now since you’re going to die anyway.” I’m still here, sucker.

Still married: I’ve gotten to spend yet another year with the most marvelous woman God ever created. She has been my moral support, my cheerleader, sometimes my crutch, and always my best friend. Out of love for her and everything she is I have started trying to speak her native language to her more often. And she has become open to teaching me more. I firmly believe that everyone woman should be told “I love you” in her native language, whatever that language is. So to my wife I say; minamahal kita, ngayon at magpakailanman!

Still have a son: He lives in a group home and by all accounts is doing well. We still take him to church every other week. We attend another church in the off week. We also take him to his job on Saturdays. He’s in a good place.

We took a vacation: We didn’t really go anywhere in 2020 because the world was still in panic mode. This year we went back to Sedona and really enjoyed ourselves. You can read the past few blog entries as witness to that. Cristy and I also did a lot of self-exploration and entered a new phase of growth in our marriage on this trip. Growth which has continued long after the vacation ended. We are much stronger and happier as a couple than when the year started. And we started the year pretty darned good. Life just gets better with her.

So many other events this year that I can’t name them all. I’ve been blessed with having a job through this entire pandemic. I’ve been blessed with health through this entire pandemic. My boss caught COVID-19 and even though I was closely exposed to her (through touching, sharing a keyboard, working shoulder to shoulder) while she was infectious I never caught the disease. No one in my family has caught the disease. We’ve truly been blessed. God has preserved us through it all.

I won’t even try to forecast what this year holds. Cristy and I have made one conscious decision though; call it a resolution if you like. That we are going to get out there and enjoy life more this year. We are going to meet more people, cultivate new interests and relationships, and not waste one moment. Carpe momentum, samantalahin ang sandali.

Sedona Trip 2021 Day 11 and Closing Thoughts

We hit the road around 7:30am or so. We were about to drive through the windiest portion of the trip home. Winds were manageable but were forecast to pick up as the day went on hence the early (for us) start. We did encounter higher winds between Barstow and Tehachapi. I kept my eyes on the traffic moving in the opposite direction looking for RV’s specifically. My thought being that they were coming from where I was going to, if they made it, I could make it. The wind was on our nose the entire way. The truck had to stay in 3rd gear just to maintain 60 MPH! We stopped for lunch and ate it in the trailer. I can’t even remember where that was. Some rest stop out in the desert. When we finally hit Tehachapi it was such a relief because the wind just stopped. We climbed up to the pass and made the long decent into the Central Valley and finally into sunny skies. We finally got home around 3pm.

Closing thoughts

We truly enjoyed our trip to Sedona and surprisingly Cottonwood. It was a wonderful time of reconnection with ourselves and with nature. We enjoyed our hikes and the beautiful scenery. We had long conversations. We discovered new things about ourselves. This year’s Sedona trip helped us begin an exciting new journey in our lives. This trip opened up within us a new resolve to not only seize the day, but to seize every moment; carpe momentum.

Sedona Trip 2021 Day 10

We began the bittersweet drive home. It was hard to leave the Cottonwood/Sedona aea but we missed family. I was a little worried by the weather forecast. Winds were forecast to be 30mph gusting to 40. I really didn’t want to tow a trailer in that kin of weather. The saving grace in all this was that the wind was mostly going to be coming directly at us. Bad for gas mileage but good for stability. And indeed as we drove to our intended destination the winds proved to be manageabe.

Our plan was to drive to Barstow and spend the night and then drive home the next day. We drove ost of the day and finally arrived at Peggy Sue’s 50’s Diner at around 4:30pm or so. Let me just say it’s not the prettiest place to overnight but there is a LOT of room to park and it’s free. We picked a spot off to the side and at the back of the parking area. We kept our shades drawn due to the incredible amount of trash around… and big rigs. Again… free. And safe. But not quiet.

We ate dinner at Peggy Sue’s. It was okay. Not great but tasted good after a long day. We lingered and talked over dinner and then headed back to the trailer and fell asleep to the sound of the freeway and helicopters landing at the US Marine Logistics Center across the street.

Sedona Trip 2021 Day 9

This was our last day in Sedona. We wanted to find another energy vortex and though I was tempted by the Red Rock Crossing vortex we opted instead for the Airport Mesa vortex. We had visited it last time we were in Sedona and it was a challenge for Cristy to make it up the rocks. She wanted to return to gauge her increase in physical stamina, see if it was any easier climbing to the vortex. In short, it was.

We drove all the way up to the airport to park. There are several paid parking areas there, we opted for free parking up at the airport. I put on my AOPA hat as camouflage. Yeah, I’m a pilot! Well… I am! Then we walked down to the vortex trail. The trail is all downhill to the vortex so in that sense it’s an easy trail. But I’m going to call this a moderate hike because the trail is littered with rocks. LOTS of rocks all about the size of a soft ball or basket ball. As an added bonus, last night’s storm had left it plenty muddy. Happily we were able to avoid the rocks and mud and make it to the bottom of the path, about 1/2 mile. My respect for the ladies I saw wearing sandals and flip flops!

The hike down the trail provides stunning views of the red rock buttes and cliffs…

Once you arrive at the mesa there is a parking area (where there is NEVER any parking available) and an overlook that give you stunning views to the east and south…

After pausing to drink and let some folks descend the trail leading up to the vortex rock we began the long (maybe 5 minutes) arduous (there are safety cables to hang on to) climb to the top of the Airport Mesa vortex. We tried to just take it all in. Enjoy the silence. We took our shoes off to feel the rock on our bare feet. We stayed and soaked up the views for 30, maybe 45 minutes but there were some “guides” there that wouldn’t shut up about “how healing, and peaceful the vortex is”. It might have been if they would ever shut up! 🙂

After spending some time in the relative peace and quiet it was time to head back up the trail. We must be in moderately better condition than last time we were here because the hike back up the hill wasn’t that bad.

The Airport Trail, you can see some of the rocks I’m talking about.

After we got back up to the airport we thought about having lunch at the airport cafe but it was pretty crowded and I didn’t think Cristy would care for “pilot food” so we drove back down into the NON-touristy section of Sedona and found a nice Thai restaurant to have lunch. I was quite proud of Cristy that it was later than she normally ate lunch but was still feeling fine! After lunch we headed back to the trailer to start making preparations for the long bittersweet journey home. We hated to leave but we missed our family.

Sedona Trip 2021 Day 8

On Tuesday we stuck close to home and did more shopping in Cottonwood. We bought a decoration for our trailer and a gift for Angela. I won’t write about the stores we visited because there are so many. What I will write about is how friendly everyone was. In Sedona he shopkeepers can be kind of snooty. I guess that’s the crowd they cater to; rich tourists. Not even a hint (okay, maybe a hint on one shopkeeper) of that in Cottonwood. Everyone was very warm and loved to talk.

Main drag through Cottonwood’s Old Town

Afterwards we headed back to the park because thunderstorms were starting to roll through. We also wanted to rest up before our last hike in Sedona the next day. We slept through two thunderstorms before enjoying a beautiful sunset courtesy of the day’s storms. We cooked pizzas in the trailer’s conventional oven (which we had never used until now). Then watched Memphis Belle and called it an evening.

Sedona Trip 2021 Day 7

We waited until this day, Monday, to try going to the Sedona tourist district. Cristy was a little crestfallen because some of the stores she really liked closed up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. One store in particular used to sell shirts dyed with the red dirt in Sedona. They were high quality really nice T shirts and blouses. I spent most of my time going from bench to bench on the side walk.

Where I spent much of my time on Monday…

I bought one piece of Malachite from a gem store to make a bolo. Even though it’s crowded and touristy there aren’t many shopping districts that offer you these kinds of views…

On the way back we stopped at a kind hippy looking store that sold drinks, teas, and coffee. Cristy bought some chocolate and we both come some drinks. I can’t remember what mine was. It tasted good yet somehow odd. This was actually our favorite stop that day. We ran into some heavily tattooed folks out front who didn’t look like they would have much in common with us. He was talking about Facebook being offline most of the day. I offered that Bank of America and many other institutions had been offline as well. He raised both arms and exclaimed “Yes! It’s finally happening!” Apparently he is part of the Great Awakening happening in America today.

Later that night a fairly decent thunderstorm hit. I had left the awning out and the sound of it flapping woke me it. It has a wind sensor and will automatically retract but I decided to go ahead and do so myself. Not 10 minutes later huge

Sedona Trip 2021 Day 6

Sunday was a laid back day for us. I made a breakfast of bacon and eggs for us and then we looked up local churches to attend. We ended up attending church at River Bible Church in Cottonwood. It’s at the top of the hill and build on an old cement plant. The people at the church were very welcoming and friendly and the pastor delivered a great message. The message was about not living in fear because nothing separates us from God.

After church we drove back to the downtown area and had lunch at Crema. Cristy took this opportunity to do some more indoor hunting (shopping). She got to check out some of the stores that were closed earlier in the week. Then we headed back to the trailer and took a LONG nap, and did our laundry. For dinner I cooked bacon, chicken-skewers, and zuchini on our Blackstone griddle. After dinner I had a long soak in the community hot tub (as I did most nights). Then took a shower in Rain Spirit’s super clean shower rooms. It was a great day of rest!

Sedona Trip 2021 Day 5

One of the reasons I chose to stay in/near Cottonwood, AZ was because that is where my father learned to fly in WWII. It was near the end of the war and after he exited the pilot training program he never flew again. However, I still wanted to see where he learned to fly. Cottonwood airport is at the top of a large bluff above the town and sits in the shadow of Mingus Mountain. The mountain protects the airport from southerly winds and in the morning it is generally calm anyway. We pulled up and was let into the pilot’s lounge by the last of the Saturday morning regulars. I got to chat with them briefly but it was still fun. Cristy noted it was just like being at Oakdale. I didn’t know them yet those guys and I were talking about airplanes and flying like we’d known each other for years. After getting some gas we headed back to the trailer to eat lunch.

If my dear sister is reading this can you ask Dad if he knew Hank Thompson? He was a flight instructor that was there at the time and the plaque below is dedicated to him.

After lunch we decided to bag another “energy vortex”; Bell Rock. There are two places to park, one is just north of Bell Rock, the other about 3/4 of a mile south. There was no room in the north lot so we parked to the south. This was actually good because we had stunning views of the rock as we walked toward it. As we drew closer we saw people about halfway up the rock on the large flat butte that helps give Bell Rock it’s shape. We also saw were people were climbing up to get to that butte so we also climbed up the rock. No small feat for my bad back and Cristy who is not a climber! Or should I say, wasn’t. She made it with the help of three sweet Mexican women who were visiting, a daughter, a mother, and a grandmother who were just sliding down on their butts where we were about to climb up. I climbed up first and positioned myself to pull Cristy up. When she couldn’t quite reach me the mother interlocked her fingers and made a step with her hands telling Cristy, “here, step in my hands! It’s fine you’re not that heavy!”

Cristy did step in her hands, I grabbed her hand and pulled her the rest of the way up. We scrambled up a few more not so hard climbs and finally got to the large flat area we had seen others on. The view was incredible…

Cristy after climbing up the rock

We walked around the mesa for a bit and sat and took in the scenery for a while until the sun started getting low. The mosquitoes were about to come out and it was about to get cold. More importantly, we were getting hungry so we started to think about heading back. That’s when I saw it. Remember that parking lot north of Bell Rock, I could see it, fairly close to where we were. And leading to it, a nice, gradual trail; no climbing involved!

Well okay then.

We took that trail down to where it met up with the trail that led to the south parking lot and made our way back to the truck taking in the last of the views.

We then ate dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant that was only OK and then headed back to the trailer. If you’re ever in Sedona take some time to visit Bell Rock! I don’t believe in the energy vortex stuff but I do believe God made some beautiful scenery!

Loved Bell Rock!

Sedona Trip 2021 Day 4

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Our main goal for Day 4 was to hike to one of the energy vortices that Sedona is known for. We decided to hike to Boynton Canyon as our first to visit. It is located far back on the north eastern side of Sedona. We chose this one as it was more off the beaten track and we hoped we wouldn’t have a parking problem. Also, and here is a pro-tip, we planned to get there around 4:30pm as this is when most of the tourists are leaving for the day. As expected parking was fairly easy and we started our hike.

The first part of the hike was fairly level and very picturesque. Most of the people we ran into were going the other way. About halfway down the trail it began going uphill but still not too bad. Even for someone with an injured back like me!

The closer we got toe the “vortex” the steeper the trail became. Being flatlanders we had to stop every so often to catch our breath but all things considered it wasn’t too bad of a climb. It was all worth it when we reached the top as the views were stunning!

I was very proud of Cristy as she normally doesn’t do this type of hiking. But her new hiking shoes really seemed to help her with her footing. She was actually doing better than me! As I alluded to earlier, back was injured so I had to take it easy.

This trea marks where the vortex is generally supposed to be

After enjoying the views for a while we hiked back down before the sun got too low and the air got too chilly.

Easily my favorite image from the hike. Looking back up at the vortex

We could do this hike several more times and probably not see the same things twice. Give it a try next time you’re in Sedona.