Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
January 17, 2017 - Florida Keys

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas From Yuma

Kevin and I want to wish all of our family and friends a very Merry Christmas. Wherever you are, we hope you have the love and peace of Jesus in your life!

We attended a very unusual Christmas Eve service this year in Yuma. It was a live production titled Jesus Is Born at Champion Church. Over one hundred people participated in this live outdoor show enacting the birth of Jesus. The show is put on three nights and thousands of people attend. They have a huge set and lots of costumes. The first hour was very good telling the story of Jesus' birth. They did a great job tying in his birth to the rest of his life with the song "Mary Did You Know".

The last thirty minutes was certainly different. The Grinch, Minnie and Mickey Mouse and Mr. and Mrs. Claus all made an appearance. They were trying to share the message that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus, not all the other stuff people get carried away with. However, for me, I would have enjoyed it more without that extra portion of the show. Below you can see Mr. and Mrs. Claus and the wise men bowing to Jesus. You don't see that every day.

You've probably heard that this Christmas we will have a full moon; the first time since 1977 which happens to be the year we were married. I don't remember a full moon on Christmas that year. Two nights ago the moon rose just before sunset. It wasn't quite full, but still beautiful as it rose over the mountains.

Last night it was nearly dark, however I still got a pretty good picture. There's even a star on the left.

I wanted to share our little adventure from last Saturday as we returned from Long Beach after the cruise. I had read about the Salton Sea, so we routed our return so we could drive along the eastern shore of the lake which measures about 15 by 35 miles in size. This basin area was flooded by the Colorado River in the early 1900s. It became a popular tourist area in the 1950s and 60s and several towns popped up. The combination of decreasing water levels, increased salinity and fertilizer runoff from surrounding agricultural fields has caused the lake to deteriorate. Fish died off and the area smelled awful. Most surrounding towns have become ghost towns.

We stopped at Bombay Beach which is now a very rundown area with abandoned mobile homes. There is evidence of deteriorated piers along the shore.

There were lots of dead fish and the smell all along the drive was foul.

We saw just a few people in the entire town. This lone boater was pushing off. I wonder if he was going to try and catch some fish.

It was quite hazy over the lake on an otherwise clear day. I'm not sure if its always like that. California has a State Recreation Area along much of the eastern shore of the lake with a couple of campgrounds. We only saw a few campers. I can't imagine staying there with the smell. I'm sure it was a beautiful area at one time with the mountains in the background. There were lots of birds around. Its hard to see in the picture below, but the sand is in the front, birds are at the shoreline, the lake is behind the birds and the mountains are in the background.

There was a young lady taking pictures, and we had a little conversation about the area. I thought she described it very well when she said it was epic in a dark way.

We will be having a Christmas dinner potluck with three other couples here at the park. Today's highs are supposed to be around 63 and sunny so that should make for a nice afternoon outside. Yesterday was a fantastic sunny afternoon. We played a round of golf on the course here at the resort. There weren't many people out there, so it was a nice relaxing round of golf. Too bad my score wasn't so great.

Tomorrow will be another story. A strong front is coming through and there is a wind advisory. We're predicted to have sustained winds of 30 mph with gusts of 40 to 50 mph. Time to hunker down! We have a tee time for tomorrow afternoon, but I'll be cancelling that.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Mexican Riviera Cruise - Part 2

Our second port day was on Wednesday in Puerto Vallarta. Before departing on this cruise, we had been unsure whether we would do any excursions. After reading the descriptions of the whale watching tours, I was hooked and wanted to see some whales. I went to the excursion desk and asked which whale tour would be the most likely to fulfill my wish to see whales. The lady suggested the Whales, Dolphin & Snorkeling tour in Puerto Vallarta.

Getting off the ship was a confusing experience. Our tickets said we were to be on the pier at 9 am. They didn't open the doors until 9 and the line was very long. People like us with excursions were not given priority, and so we were in a long line with everyone else. We did eventually get off and walked up and down the pier looking for our tour. There was a wonderful mariachi band playing on the pier.

 We couldn't find anyone with a sign for our tour, so ended up finding someone from our tour company. There was confusion as to which tour we were supposed to be on, and they put us on the wild dolphin and snorkeling tour. No mention of whales on the sign. Not a good start. We took a catamaran for an hour ride to the Marietas Islands, which are a national park of Mexico. Our first adventure was to swim a good distance to a hidden beach. We had to swim through a cave to get to the hidden beach. It was a very awesome location, but the description of the tour said we would sail to the beach, not swim there. In fact, quite a few people didn't go to the hidden beach because they didn't feel they were strong enough swimmers.

Next was snorkeling. Kevin had had enough of the salt water, so I went snorkeling without him. We had to get into a smaller boat (not easy) and jump off at the snorkeling area. The snorkeling area was up against the cliffs of the island, so I was a bit worried about getting pushed into the rocks by the waves. It was okay, but the water was somewhat murky. I saw lots of great fish, but I wish the water would have been clearer. I also saw a moray eel. That was cool!

Once back on the boat, we had a good lunch. They drove us slowly along the outskirts of the island to show us some of the 92 species of birds that live there. The person giving the information seemed quite knowledgeable. He gave the information in Spanish and English. I only understood about half of what he said in English. It was very interesting, but I wish I could have understood more.

Lots of birds make their nests at the top of the island among the spiky plants that are part of the pineapple family. The plants protect the nests.

These were blue footed booby birds. I think he said they mate for life and are only found along the Pacific coast of South American countries. Their feet are the most amazing blue color.

This is a grey heron that came out of the crevice to see us.

These are yellow footed boobies.

There was quite a large colony of them living on the sides of the cliffs. Click on any of the pictures to enlarge them, so you can see better. The colony of yellow footed boobies is right in the middle of the picture below.

Here's a picture of the island as we were pulling away.

This brown footed booby flew along the side and the front of our boat for a long time. It was fun watching him soar around.

The hour long trip back to the port was quite uneventful. We saw three dolphins for about 10 seconds. Much of the time back, the crew did a song and dance number to entertain us. As they were busy with that, I don't think they were looking for whales. Of course, we didn't see a single whale, let alone the dancing and singing whales advertised in the excursion brochure. One of the crew members told me that they usually start seeing the whales in November, but this year they had seen very few so far. So, although there were some fun parts of the excursion, it was quite a disappointment as it was not at all as advertised. This is the second time we've been misled by an excursion description through Carnival.

Here's a view of Puerto Vallarta on our way back. As you can see it was quite overcast, but at least it was warm.

Here's the view of the Puerto Vallarta dock area from the top deck of the ship. That is a Walmart on the left with very nice blue covered parking, next on the right is a Sam's Club, and the large building on the far right is a casino. Quite the touristy place. Some of the crew members did mention that they like the stop here because they can walk off the ship to Walmart and stock up on personal supplies.

Thursday and Friday were sea days. It was very windy both days and also cloudy part of each day. The top decks were closed a good part of the time due to the wind. We hung out at a table on the Lido deck which is partially covered and has large windows that you can close. I had a jacket on the whole time, and it was okay. Certainly not warm, but tolerable. We played cribbage, enjoyed the music and read our books.

The last day they had a chocolate extravaganza at the buffet. On the top counters they had several carved watermelons. Pretty amazing.


On Friday I attended the towel folding presentation. Do you like my creation?

We had a beautiful sunset on Friday. Not many of those on this trip.

We got off the ship on Saturday morning. They had a new to us procedure this time where you could select a self-assist departure. This meant you took your own bags off the ship, and you got to debark before the people who had their bags taken off the ship for them. We chose the self-assist option and were supposed to be off between 9:30 and 9:45 am. If we had them take our bags off, the time would have been 11:15 am. We ended up getting off an hour later than scheduled, but at least it was earlier by taking our own bags.

Our truck was right where we left it at the hotel with no scratches or dings. That was a relief. We drove back to Yuma on Saturday via a route that took up past the Salton Sea. I had heard and read about this interesting place and wanted to see it. I'll write another blog about that little adventure in a few days.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Mexican Rivera Cruise–Part 1

I’m going to write two blog posts about our cruise, so they don’t get too long.

First I’ll start by stating that we had a good time, but it wasn’t great. Part of that was due to the weather. This is our second cruise in the Pacific Ocean, and both times the at sea days were mostly cool, cloudy and windy. Also, the Carnival Miracle is one of their smaller, older ships, and there just wasn’t the level of enthusiasm by the crew that we’ve experienced on the larger ships. Everything was adequate, but not great.

This is the first time we’ve cruised from the port in Long Beach, California. The terminal is small and doesn’t have seating. We ended up standing outside for over an hour before we were able to board. Good thing it was a nice day. Here’s our first glimpse of our ship.

Our first day, Sunday, we explored the ship and had dinner in the dining room. Here’s the token pirate picture at dinner.

One of our bags never made it to our cabin, but we retrieved it from guest services. I get a kick out of the towel animals in your cabin each night. This was a new one for us; I think it is a bat.

As we walked by the shops on board, they were giving away raffle tickets. We went back later for the raffle, and I actually won. I’m not usually very lucky, so that was cool. It was a beach bag with a matching coin purse, a man’s watch, a necktie, an evening purse, some bracelets and a sun hat. Other than the bag and watch, it’s not stuff we need, so our kids may be getting some goodies if they want them.

On Monday we found a table on the Lido Deck. It was mostly cloudy and windy. As you can see in the picture, I’m wearing a coat. I signed up for the Mixologist competition. I won this on the last cruise we were on. I think I get picked because most of the people who sign up are younger or men. I think I’m the representative for older women. I was third this time. My concoction was rum, creme de cocoa, peach schnapps, and pineapple juice. It wasn’t sweet enough, but I got two free drinks, so I was happy.

Monday night was also the Captain’s Dinner. On previous cruises, there was an hour of free drinks and hors d’oeuvres on that night. This year they gave you a $1 discount on drinks at the bar before dinner. That was a disappointment. Here we are at dinner that night.

On Tuesday we were at Cabo San Lucas. This was a tender port, which means the ship did not dock directly at the pier. Instead, small boats tendered passengers to the pier. If you purchased an excursion through Carnival, you were first off the ship at 9 am. If not, you had to get a tender number. The line was super long for this, so we decided to eat breakfast first. By the time we got a number, we were number 48 which meant we didn’t get off the ship until 12:30 pm. We had to be back by 3:15, so it was hardly worth getting off.

The only reason we got off was because we had never been here before, and I wanted to at least take a look around. Also, it was the nicest day of the trip, sunny and warm.
There were lots of small shops and restaurants along the pier. I can’t begin to count the number of times we were approached to buy tours, cigars, and all kinds of junk. Pretty overwhelming.I did get a kick out of the Mexican ATM machines.

Couldn’t resist a picture with Poncho Villa. Based on how shiny his knees were, it must be good luck to rub them.







No visit to Mexico is complete without a margarita, so we had to stop at Senor Frog’s to quench our thirst. This picture is for Korey so he can see we are just as cool as he is when cruising :) We weren’t all that impressed. The place was very busy, the drinks were more expensive than other bars in the area, and the waiter hit me in the head with a chair he was moving. Ouch! I should have asked for a free drink after that.

Nice view of our ship from the pier.

We left port just as the sun was setting.

One of the tours that was heavily advertised was the Arch of Cabo San Lucas. Good thing we didn’t pay for that tour, as we got a beautiful view of it from the deck of the ship.

Lots of boats out enjoying the sunset.

Well, that’s enough for this post. I’ll be posting part two in the next few days. Tomorrow we’re going to Mexico with friends (because we haven’t been in Mexico enough lately). I’m planning on getting a new pair of glasses and some Mexican Prilosec for our boys.

By the way, I downloaded Open Live Writer after reading on other blogs that it worked well for them. I did a test post without pictures, and it worked great. So, I wrote this entire post and then it wouldn't publish. I did some research and changed some options, but it still wouldn't work. Super frustrating. So, I had to rewrite the post in blogger. I just don't like how the pictures turn out in blogger, and how some of the spacing is off.


Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Borrego Springs, California

Our cruise will be leaving from the port in Long Beach, California tomorrow. The drive from Yuma is about five hours, so I decided to investigate hotels with park and cruise rates when I booked the trip.

I found a Quality Inn in Long Beach for $140 which included tonight’s stay plus parking for the seven days we’ll be gone and shuttle service to the port. Parking at the port is about $20 a day, so we decided to leave a day early just in case we would encounter any problems on the way.

The hotel is fine, although the first room they gave us had ants crawling on the wall. Our second room is good. The parking lot is not very big, and the spots are quite narrow. We have our full size pickup truck. Kevin did a great job squeezing it into a spot, but I sure hope we don’t come back to find it is all banged up. Hopefully, before we leave tomorrow many of the cars will be gone, and he can find an end spot to park in while we’re gone.

Since we left a day early, I decided we should drive to Long Beach via Borrego Springs. I had read about large metal sculptures in the desert, and I wanted to see them.

Our first stop was the visitor center where a very nice lady gave us a map. She also suggested stopping at the visitor center at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. We saw these fan palm trees. I had no idea they looked so bushy if they aren’t trimmed.






We watched an informative movie about the seasons of the desert. I was excited to hear that the park had 600 big horn sheep. Since we’ve been fulltiming, I’ve been in search of the elusive big horn sheep. A ranger told us that people were reporting seeing them on one of the trails, Unfortunately, it was a three mile hike, and my foot was hurting, plus we didn’t really have the time, so we didn’t do the hike. I did see these guys on display in the museum.

There are over 130 life size metal sculptures in the desert landscape surrounding the city of Borrego Springs. The sculptures were commissioned by Dennis Avery (his family owns the Avery Company that make labels and office supplies) who owns quite a bit of land in the area. The artist is Ricardo Breceda. There are all kinds of mythical and prehistoric creatures.




My favorite was the 350 foot serpent. The two tale sections actually are across the road.






Most of the sculptures were life size including horses, an elephant, camels, turtles and quite a few others. I also liked the dinosaurs. It’s amazing how he made the metal look like scales and fur.



I did see some big horn sheep, but they weren’t exactly the ones I was looking for.



We left Borrego Springs and headed west on a road that went over the mountains with gorgeous views. There are way more mountains and desert in California than I ever imagined.

The closer we got to Long Beach, the worse the traffic got. I’m sure glad we don’t have to deal with the traffic on a regular basis. They must have a law that allows motorcycles to drive between cars in the lanes. The first time a motorcycle came zipping between us and the car in the next lane was quite unnerving.

After checking into the hotel, we headed to the ocean. We took a nice long walk along the beach and watched the sunset.




Supper was at Del Taco, a new fast food restaurant for us. Can’t say I was all that impressed. I doubt we’ll eat there again.

Today was a fun day. We’re looking forward to several more on the upcoming cruise. We’re going to take a break from the internet while we’re gone, so see you when we get back.

After writing this entire post with all the pictures in LiveWriter, it wouldn't post to Blogger. I've been using LiveWriter for years, and really like it. I'll be really bummed if it doesn't work anymore. After redoing the post in Blogger, I remember why I don't like creating posts there. The spacing is off, but I'm done messing with it.


Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Happy Birthday Kevin

Today is Kevin’s birthday, and not just any birthday. I can now call him an old man as he is turning 60. I still have a few years to go before I join him. He is now eligible for more senior discounts, but still has to wait two years for that wonderful national parks senior pass.

We’ll be celebrating by playing some pickleball and hosting an afternoon gathering with friends. Snacks and beverages will be served, and I’m sure we’ll have a great time.

The bigger celebration begins on Saturday when we drive to Long Beach, California. On Sunday we board the Carnival Miracle for a six day cruise that will take us to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas.

We’ve been keeping quite busy. Here’s a picture of the group we celebrated Thanksgiving with. We had a delicious potluck supper outside on a beautiful sunny day. Brad and Martha are on the left, and John and Janie are on the right. Kevin and I are in the middle.

Yuma Thanksgiving

Last week there was a free pickle ball clinic with a gentleman who is a gold medal winner on the senior circuit. Bet you didn’t know there was such a thing. We learned a lot. Here’s a picture of Wanda, Dick and myself practicing dinking. We are in the back row facing the camera.

Yuma Pickleball Clinic with Patzers

We’ve been on two hikes with the hiking group here at the resort. I’m happy to report I survived both hikes without injury. These hikes were rated moderate which means we hiked around in the desert including climbing some hills with loose rocks and gravel. I took my time and was careful to not slip and fall.

On top of some of the hills, people have placed crosses and memorials. Some people have even had their ashes buried up there. This is the marker of one grave where ashes are buried. It’s hard to see, but the dates show that Heath was only 26 years old.

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Here we are with Martha, Janie, myself, Kevin and Brad near the end of the first hike.

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The second hike took us to an abandoned gold mine in the hills. Just a big hole in the ground. Here we are next to the hole.

Yuma hiking club at gold mine Dec. 7

On Tuesday we went to downtown Yuma for a street market and lunch at the Prison Hill Brewery with John and Janie. Another beautiful day with good food, beer and friendship.

Last night we attended a program at Community Christian Church in Yuma called The Living Christmas Tree. The tree is a huge lit structure which can hold up to 100 choir members, consists of 22,000 lights and takes the church volunteers about a month to set up.

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The choir had 39 members and did a good job. I think if there had been more voices, it would have been even better. The pastor said there are only a handful of these living trees in the country. During the program the lights are synchronized to the music and add another dimension to the singing.

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Yesterday the resort had an open house with free hot dogs and beverages and entertainment. The park models were open, and if you toured them you got raffle tickets. We toured a few with Dick and Wanda and then went to the drawing. They gave away 25 prizes. One of the names called was Evelyn, but it was a different last name. Not too often I run across another Evelyn. The grand prize was a 40” TV. Our friend Dick was the winner. Way to go, Dick!!

As you can see, we’ve been quite busy enjoying the great weather, golfing, hiking, playing pickle ball and enjoying the company of great friends.

Just a reminder that if you will be doing any holiday shopping on Amazon, please keep in mind that if you click on the “go” button in the Amazon box at the top right of this page, you will be taken to the Amazon site to shop, and we will earn a little credit. We appreciate your support!!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!