Wednesday, April 30, 2008

just you and me....

Tuesday. Ryder had been looking forward to that day for some meant a playdate with Grammy...and no one else!
I knew the moment he arrived that Daddy had not dressed him this morning.

A few years ago, I crocheted his sisters each a poncho...and he's taken a liking to them. What could be more convenient than having your blankey with you at all times? Add Emme's pink sunglasses...and a bright yellow soo soo and Ryder was all decked out to go to play with Grammy!

The girls always loved to bake when they came to I thought Ryder might enjoy baking cookies also.

He was more interested in building trains with the dough...than actually making cookies. But he became quite possessive with the completed cookies...reminding me repeatedly that they were 'mine'.

We spent the morning playing with cars...and tractors...and farm animals...and having a tea party on the floor...and soon it was lunchtime. The sun was shining (for a moment or two) so we took Grandpa with us...and went to the airport to check out the airplanes and have a bite to eat.

Our local airport has a wonderful coffee shop famous for it's homemade pie. Barb has been baking their pies for almost thirty years...and flight itineraries are often built around a stop for pie in Chilliwack. My standing order is the spinach salad...and a wee piece of pie!

Yesterday watching planes definitely took priority over eating...the highlight for Ryder was watching a helicopter take off and land repeatedly. At one point he fell off his chair...and scrambled back up in a big hurry. It was only then that I realized he is usually in a high chair.

They brought him a bowl of ice-cream for dessert...he's pretty good at sharing!

How is it that kids can spot these machines from a mile away...and I never notice them? Well...yesterday I did!

One last look at the airplanes and our playdate came to an end. We dropped Ryder off in time for his noon nap...carrying a poncho on one arm and a bag of cookies that were 'mine' on the other. What fun!

Until next time,

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

death valley revisited...

Hottest...lowest...driest! That's Death Valley...and while I'm in the tour guide mode, how about I take you back there for a little visit?

Death Valley national Park has 3.4 million acres, making it the largest national park in the U.S.

At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin has the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere. Right nearby in the Panamint Range, Telescope Peak rises to 11,049 feet. It's a place of extremes...but extremely beautiful!

Our first stop on entering the park was Zabriskie of the park's most spectacular views.

Surrounded by a maze of vibrantly coloured badlands, this view is so unique that it will stay forever etched on my mind.

Photographers arrive here well before dawn every day to take in a breathtaking show as the sun creeps in, slowly washing the valley in colour. I, on the other hand, arrived here long after the sun did...after all I was on vacation!

We visited the Death Valley Museum...learned a little history and geology...

...and passed by the Harmony Borax Works mine, where the white gold of the dessert was mined and processed.

We parked beside the road at the sand dunes in the Stovepipe Wells area......and set off on a little hike.

It was about 85 degrees and windy...and was actually quite comfortable, although we ate a lot of sand!

We felt quite alone out there on the dunes...and were wondering how long it would take until the sand would fill in our footprints.

It is a magical place...unlike anything I have ever seen! The dunes rise up in tall peaks...

...and in the valleys between are the dry stream beds. It almost appears as though there has been water here at one time!

As we were returning from our hike...and grinding the sand between our teeth...we passed another hiker who was more equipped to keep the sand out of his face!

We also passed by (but not too close) this hole...which could belong either to a rattlesnake or a we were told! Apparently hiking the dunes by moonlight is a wonderful experience...but one needs to watch for the rattlesnakes.

Mosaic Canyon is our next stop...

...where the twisting lower canyon is so narrow that we need to hike single file.

Polished marble walls and odd mosaic patterns make rise up on each side..

...and after about 1/2 mile the canyon opens up to reveal the mountain peaks beyond.

As we left Mosaic Canyon, we erected a little Inukshuk to mark our visit...and then travelled west through the Panamint Range before leaving the park. We spent only one glorious day here...but it was a day we'll never forget!

If you are looking for a little peace and's just the place for you. Here you can experience silence...dead silence (with no chance of a cell phone ringing, since there is no service). It's a great park to visit...just don't go in the summer, as it truly is the hottest place on earth!

I'm now handing in my tour guide uniform...and tomorrow it's on to something else. Have a wonderful day!

Monday, April 28, 2008

tulips of the valley...

I'm an event co-ordinator of sorts...planning outings for a group of mid-life adults at our church. These events are strictly social in nature...and the purpose is simply to connect with and get to know others in an informal setting. We've gone to ball games in the city, visited parks and museums, gone out for dinner, gone on a hike...and the list goes on. Yesterday's event was a 'dazzle your senses' tour of the farming area of Agassiz...done in large vans with a group close to 50 people!

First stop...Tulips of the Valley, 35-acre tulip farm. We are free to stroll the to the public for two-weeks for self-guided tours.

After we've had a chance to check out all the tulip tulips or order bulbs...and take a few's off to The Back Porch.

Here we check out the circa 1919 coffee roaster...soak up the wonderful aroma or sample their coffees...and visit the pottery studio.

The barn houses an interesting collection of antiques, collectibles and garden decor items.

Next stop...The Farm House Natural Cheeses...where one can watch the cheesemaking process through a viewing window (but not on Sunday), or sample a wide range of handmade artisan cheeses...or gelati ice-cream!

I haven't tried their ice-cream but the jalapeno gouda is wonderful!

And a little further down the road, we stop off at Limbert Mountain Farm...specializing in potted herbs and organic specialties.

We visit their tea shoppe...which is also home to cooking classes by famed instructor, Chez Dez. We are free to sample all kinds of strange and wonderful goodies...including lavender chocolate!

The tour is never over until we've had a serious bite to our last stop is the Wildcat Grill for dinner. Not only did we enjoy a fabulous meal...but we topped it off with birthday treats compliments of Gord (he really knows how to plan a birthday party!)

And that, folks, was our event for April...and who knows where we'll go next?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

when I walk through the valley....

Yea...though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For you are with me...
Your rod and your staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4

I was reminded of this verse many times in the past while!

It ran through my mind as I walked about the hills and vales of Death Valley National Park last week.

As you may know, we walked through the valley of the shadow of death in our family very recently...
and He walked it with us!

His rod and staff were my comfort.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

prizes...and surprises!

I haven't won many things in my life...but that seems to be changing of late!

The 'roll up the win' promotion at Tim Horton's came and went...and I struck out there for the most part. But that's okay....I go there for the coffee not for the big prizes!

And I shop at Safeway because I happen to like it there...not because they throw Safeway instant win tickets into my bags. I usually remember to look at them before they go in the garbage...and I recently came up a winner. Nope...not the trip for two to Australia that I would have gladly accepted (I have a niece there that I would love to visit!)...

...but a bright red stainless water bottle and a pedometer with a built in flashlight. How nice is that? I have plenty of it's just a matter of using them!

But now on to the win that I'm really excited about! Vee recently had a 200th post-give-away...and I was the lucky winner of her draw. I was awaiting the arrival of my surprise package...but then left town for 10 days. Yesterday I retrieved two weeks worth of mail...and there was a parcel from Vee...along with a bunch of cards from friends. Supper had to wait...I had important mail to open!

I'm thinking Vee must be a professional parcel wrapper...everything was so beautifully wrapped, I was somewhat reluctant to untie the bows!

I had no idea what would be in Vee's surprise package...and could not believe the bonanza of goodies she sent me!

A wonderful hand-crafted-by-Vee pin cushion (it shall replace my tomato)...a hand-made doily (I'll need to find out whose hand made that)...vintage tags...

...and a gardening magazine with lots of wonderful ideas (i.e. paint handles of small pruners and diggers with bright acrylic paint so they can be easily spotted...mine have been known to go out with the compost!).

I'm not done un-wrapping yet! Then there's a pewter picture frame...and a personalized flour sack tea towel...with bias trim. Hubby is quite sure Vee never hand-embroidered it, because there are no loose threads on the back (he's seen my work!).

Judy's kitchen now has a lovely hand towel...not meant for hands! I will treasure it always...thanks so much for everything, Vee!

Oh yes...I should also mention that the entire package smelled just wonderful...and I have not yet figured out where the scent came from. It reminded me of walking into my favorite little shop downtown (Creekside)...I go there just for the aroma and the music!

And here's another surprise...the sun is shining this morning! I have a long list of things to I'm off to tackle the day, one moment at a time!

Friday, April 25, 2008

the scenic by-ways...

If you are you finding the freeway of life a little too crowded and hectic
...try taking the scenic bi-ways for a spell!

We travelled north from California along the narrow, desolate roads...not a good place should you require assistance, but just perfect if you are looking for a relaxing drive with unsurpassed beauty out the window.

Highway 395 passes alongside the Sierra-Nevada mountain range.

Towns are few and far between

...and even those with a population of 20 made the highway signs!

I rather enjoyed the view from my perch in the motor home...but if you don't mind a more close-up encounter with bugs and sand, here's the vehicle for you!

It seemed the perfect route for bikers.

After leaving the southern dessert area behind, we passed through pastures and mountain vistas. My driver was willing to stop for photo-shoots every so often...and other times I managed a 'quick pic' as we sailed by.

We stopped to capture these cattle grazing near the eastern boundary of Yosemite National Park. As I was taking photos, a few eagles swooped and sailed above...not the bald eagle common in our area, but large golden eagles. Deer grazed alongside the road and seemed oblivious to the odd vehicle passing by.

Highway 395 crosses into Nevada for a short while...taking us right through Reno, before returning to California.

Having heard so much about Lake Tahoe...and being within an inch or two on the map...we decided to take the detour and check out Lake Tahoe. Rand McNally road atlas doesn't show you the hills and bumps ...or the elevation...and the short-cut we decided on is not the road you would pick if your were towing a trailer of any kind!

We were into the snow in no time...enjoying the winter landscape...and wondering why no other traffic seemed to be using this route.

As we reached the summit, the sunshine broke through the clouds....

there was not a sound to be heard...a beautiful and serene world dropped off in every direction around us.

I'm sure highway 89 is not the most popular route into Lake Tahoe...but it's one I'd recommend! Be forewarned's closed for the winter months!

Lake Tahoe may be the destination of choice for many...but we agreed that the roads leading there were much more interesting than the city!

We stopped long enough to take a picture of the lake...view the chairlifts on the mountainside...and pass by the many casinos once we crossed the line into Nevada.

We could not get back to those quiet roads quick enough!

We passed by shacks that had seen better days...

and trees unlike any I had ever come across.
This tree is totally decked out and boots of every size and colour.
There was no I'm still wondering about the significance???

Our route took us through the Oregon outback...eventually connecting to the I5 on the west coast. It was a great road trip...a wonderful relaxing time! I left the driving to my professional driver, who also has the eyes of an eagle...and even sings while he drives on occasion.

If you ever get the chance, opt for a trip down those unpredictable side roads...who knows what you will find?

There may even be a shoe that fits on one of those roads less travelled!

Now it's back to life as I know it...and so many things to catch up on. It's time to see the accountant, catch up on farm books...mow the lawns and pull the weeds...and connect with friends and family that I've missed.

Next week I plan to re-visit Death amazing place.

Care to join me?