On Vacation Until ??

canstockphoto19651352.jpgI’m taking some time off from RJsCorner to do some yard work and other special projects.

One of those projects is to bring up a new website for my photo portfolios.  Flickr and such just don’t meet my requirements so I am designing a site of my own.  My Information Technology (IT) experience comes in handy even in my retirement years. 🙂

I’ll let you know when that is up and what the URL is.  I expect it to be finished in a couple of weeks. I don’t know how long I will be gone from RJsCorner.  If Congress can take a vacation from their madness, I guess I can too.

About The Stock Market….

Banner -Off The Top

BreakfastYesterday, while we were at breakfast at the hotel on the last day of our vacation there were several business men at another table complaining this or that about President Obama. They were talking about things that were reported on Fox News about him. It seemed they can’t wait until he is out of office.

My wife being more of a political person than me (go figure) started “talking” to me about all the good things that have happened under the Obama administration. She signed to me without voicing it what was going on so I joined in.

“If you want to live like a Republican you must vote like a Democratic. I said that when Mr. Bush became president he came into office with a stock market at flourishing well above the 10,000 mark and left eight years later with it was barely above 8,000 and now that Obama has been in office a little over four years it has almost doubled from what it was on that fateful day of January 20, 2009.  The stock market is booming because the real business men know that our economy will soon be flourishing again as it was during the Clinton years and almost all Democratic administration before that.  “If you want to live like a Republican you must vote like a Democrat”.  (For all you doubters out there I put a few graphs related to this subject at the end of this post).  I continued with A recent report found that if you get your news totally from Fox News you are actually less informed than those who do not listen or read any news at all.  In other words, Rupert Murdock’s version of the world has little or no reality to what actually is.

It wasn’t long before the table of business men, or at least I suppose they were, became suddenly quiet and started quickly vacating the restaurant. I guess they had heard enough from us “liberal freaks”.  We have been known to do this before while on vacation. Its kind of fun to rattle a few chains once in a while.  🙂

Democrat Admins

On-The-Road Day 11 — Calling It Quits….

Here we are ending day eleven of our trip heading home. The were a few sites I had picked for visits today but my wife just isn’t feeling up to it. She has really not done well this entire trip.  Maybe the elevation along with all her many usual ailments was too much for her. So we called it quits this morning. Maybe a future trip back to Denver to see some of the sites but that is not likely.

Since all we will be doing from here out is interstate driving I will end our 0n-the-road reports here with a story about our breakfast at Denny’s last Saturday morning. As we were leaving Mesa Verde on our way to Canyonlands Utah we stopped for breakfast at Denny’s in Cortez (there were no local places to try) for breakfast.  While we were there a number of men came in separately who most of the staff evidently knew. They were given a number of hugs and “How you doing honey” (at least that is what I could lipread). All of these about half-dozen men had several things in common.

They all had facial hair, one was like Wild Bill Cody (handle bar mustache and goatee). Others were adorned with more hair. All but one had his beard appropriately trimmed.   The only untrimmed one looked like the mountain man played by Will Geer in the movie Jeremiah Johnsonwho always called the star “pilgrim”.  I have watched that movie so many times I can quote most of the lines.  I think I am getting a little off story here so let me back up.

All of these gentlemen had big metal belt buckles, and I mean big!  I postulated that they wanted to make sure their pants wouldn’t fall down. I don’t know why they must have been worried?  The other thing was that they all had their heads covered with a cowboy hat. They never took their hats off the entire time they were there. I would almost be willing to bet that the hat was the first thing on in the morning and the last thing off at night; that is if they even took it off then! But I can’t see wearing a hat to bed??

I guess these guys are what is known as Colorado cowboys. At least they all tried to look the part. We left before they did so I didn’t see if they rode in on trucks or horses. But I didn’t see any horses so I assume they all had heavy-duty pickups with dust and dents all over them. It would just be so disappointing if they didn’t.  I will always remember our time in Colorado….

On-The-Road Day 10 Canyonlands National Park

When we left Mesa Verde yesterday we headed northwest into Utah to visit Canyonlands National Park.  Canyonland is a very different place but also much like the Grand Canyon in its majesty. Here are some pictures:

Have to have one last picture of Mesa Verde that I took just the evening before we left. It is a sun drenched view of the Cliff Palace. I will dream of that place in the days and years ahead.

Here are a couple from the Canyonlands:

Today we head north to catch I70 east to Denver. We will be visiting a new museum of Colorado history there and then who know what.  The rest of this vacation is a freestyle one 🙂

On-The-Road Day 8 –Thoughts about Mesa Verde

Today is a somewhat leisurely day for us. It is our last day at Mesa Verde so I thought I would give you an evaluation of our time here.   This has been one of my favorite vacations for quite a while. Five days in one spot is a record for me. We are usually in the  different-hotel-a-day mode.

Being without a TV for all this time has proved to be a boon. It is amazing how creative I have been while I have been here. Without the TV zombie things come to me frequently and if I hurry and write them down they become future posts, things to do, or journal entries. They have come quite frequently while sitting out on the deck and enjoying the view. I think I have ideas for about a month’s worth of posts!

Getting on to Mesa Verde itself. Since we spent one day here about three years ago I had a good idea of what to expect. About two months before our trip I got on to the Mesa Verde website and reserved a Kiva Room for the week. The Kiva Rooms are newly remodeled rooms in a Southwestern theme. While the Lodge itself is somewhat new, the buildings that make up the sleeping rooms are probably 50 or 60 years old and from the outside they are showing their age and are in need of replacement. But the inside of our upscale room is very nice and the view is fantastic. We have a small deck of about three feet by 12 feet and we have spent quite a few hours out on it

The weather here has been good. It is in the upper 80s during the day and down into the low 50s during the night. With the wind which seems to blow here all the time and the low humidity it is actually quite comfortable to me. It has rained a few nights but been mostly clear skies during the day.

The park itself is fantastic. There are about a dozen major dwellings that are visitable if you have the stamina. We managed to get through two of the less strenuous ones before Yvonne’s energy gave out. The others are viewable from lookout platforms at usually less than a thousand feet away. There are also many other sites along the roads for the smaller dwellings. I think we saw at least thirty or so of those during our time here.

One of the things that I experienced the last time but to a much greater degree is the magic of the sites. It is inspiring to be able to walk on the same stones that our ancestors walked up to 1500 years ago. If it is quiet, for me it is alway quiet, and without many other people around it is almost as if I can sense their presence. I had that feeling several times during this week. It is a very welcomed feeling that I have only had a few other times in my life.

The low point of our stay here is the Far View Terrace. It is the main eating place for the park. We had several meals there. The quality of the food left a lot to be desired. I had a piece of pizza there one night for dinner that I am sure was at least 8 hours old and maybe even from the day before! It was hardly edible. While there were a few exceptions most of the other items proved to have been cooked hours before they were served. Luckily we had brought a pretty good supply of  lunchmeat and such with us so we ate most of our lunches and a couple of dinners from that stock.

What the Terrace lacked in quality was more than made up by the Metate Room which is an upscale restaurant in the lodge. The chef there has won several national awards and the food is simply fantastic. But it does come at a pretty high cost. We ate there last night and the tab came to about $90. We could have spent less without the wine and dessert but choose to  go all the way  at least once while we are here 🙂

Tomorrow morning we will be leaving Mesa Verde for the rest of our trip. I hope it is at least half as enjoyable as it has been so far.  I will remember our time here for the rest of my life.

On-The_Road Day 7 –Working 9 til 5…

For the last hundred years or more the average person went to work for a given number of hours and then went home to his family. He was paid for his efforts and used that money to provide food and shelter. The number of hours demanded for a day’s work has varied over the years but the idea of working for someone else has remained a constant. We tend to think that this is a normal kind of thing. But for many in history that was really not the case.

The ancient ruins here at Mesa Verde got me to thinking about this. Native Americans for the most part don’t buy into the 9 til 5 mentality now nor have they ever. At first, 500AD, the native Americans around here were hunter/gatherers. They have unearthed numbers pit houses where they lived. They later, 1200AD, became cliff dwellers and usual grew crops above their homes. How they managed to live in such arid conditions is still beyond me. There are no major sources of water in the area so even gathering water had to have been a chore for them. It is reported they they dammed up gullies to gather the water from the melting snow and also got some water through cracks in the sandstone walls.  About 1300AD they simply left and went south. A severe drought is postulated as being the cause.

We will be eating dinner tonight at the Metate Room here at the lodge. It has a world famous chef with world famous prices so we reserved only one night for enjoying the cuisine there. Tomorrow will be our last day here and then it is on to Monument Valley in Utah and then back to Denver. From there who knows? I will give you a synopsis post about our stay here at Mesa Verde.  Most of it has been good, maybe even great, but there is room for improvements that I will also mention.

Here are the pictures for today:

Here is a picture of the Cliff Palace. It is probably the best known one here. I plan on going back there during the late afternoon hour to get some more pictures when the sun is giving its best performance.

Here is a picture of me and my new Chevy Sonic. She has been doing very well for us on this trip. Even though she is a sub-compact she still has more than enough room for even my wife’s things. Of course we brought twice as much as we actually needed 🙂

On-The-Road Day 6 — Can’t We Just Get Along…

Being as I recently saw that the person famous for this quote from the L.A. riots died the quote has been on my mind.  It seems that  just getting along is a hard thing to do now days. Politics puts one set of beliefs at war with another set. Each thinks that they are wholly right and the other is at the worst evil.  How does this relate to my visit here to Mesa Verde? I have been reading quite a bit about the people who inhabited these ruins over eight-hundred years ago and it seems that they very much just got along with each other.

Here and there is evidence of some group conflict but for the most part each community seems to have been very homogeneous. There didn’t appear to be any significant power struggles so commonly found today. When did we lose the ability to just get along with each other? Can we ever hope to get it back?

Ok, now on to the report of the day.

We hiked to another ruin today. This one is called the Step House. It is one of the less visited one as it is not as big as the others. That made it perfect for me. It was a rather strenuous one for this senior citizen and a very challenging one for my wife. She made it along the wall clinging paths to the house but I was beginning to have my doubts if we could make it back. But of course we did as I am writing the post from our lodge room and an emergency room and my wife is taking a serious nap on the bed behind me. 🙂

The Step House was actually occupied by two different groups the first were the “basket weavers” from 500 – 700 and then the “pottery makers” from 1000 – 1200. Since we were the only ones there for about a half hour we spent much time with the national park ranger there. He gave us quite a tour.  I got to the ruins about 15 minutes before my wife. She told me to go ahead and spend some time there alone and that is what I did. I spent several minutes just imagining what life would have been for those who lived there many years ago. It seemed like a peaceful life to me but also, compare to ours, it was a challenging one. As was common with almost all the ruins here they were built under cliffs in the butte. They farmed the flat land above the butte for their food.

Here are a couple of picture for today.

Colorado On-The-Road Day 3 Cortez Colorado

Here we are settled in for the night at Cortez Colorado. We check in to the Mesa Verde National Park lodge tomorrow for our five-day R&R and spiritual regeneration. We spent today traversing the Rocky Mountains. It was an interesting trip down mainly two lane roads for over two hundred miles. We crossed the continental divide at Wolf’s Pass. It was 56 degrees there and 87 when we turned off I25 south of Pueblo. That was quite a shock to get out of the car with that temperature change.

One of the things we encountered during this leg of the trip was the junky ranches on the way. The ranch consisted of a small house surrounded by farm equipment both new and abandoned; several old cars; and mounds of baled hay. Here is a picture of one of them. It is hard to find the house in this picture. I wonder what the lady of the house thinks about this. Is she disturbed by all the junk around her home? Does she wished for at least a few flowers?

Tomorrow we settle down in our National park lodge home. Will I survive in such a placid environment? We will see.

Kansas Homestead…..

Just a quick post this morning. I got up at 5:00AM (7am body time) so have been cruising the web for a few hours now.  I realize that I have been neglecting on part of this blog and that is my barn pictures.  We got a good one yesterday somewhere in Kansas (I don’t have GPS on my best camera).

On The Road Again…..

Mesa Verde National Park

Yes, starting today my wife and I are on the road again. This time we will be traveling by car to the great State of Colorado. The majority of our time will be spent at Mesa Verde National Park so expect many photos in the next few weeks. We will be staying at the park lodge for six days of R&R, casual exploring and photographing nature. Although they don’t, on purpose, provide any television they do have wi-fi in the lodge, but not the rooms, so I can send the daily posts as always.

We will also likely see some first hand forest fire damage which I will try report that. After leaving Mesa Verde we will travel a little further west to Monument Valley and then back to Denver for a day or two. My wife says I won’t last the six days laying back at Mesa Verde but I think otherwise. At least I hope otherwise. We will find that out together I guess.

So, starting tomorrow expect the special on-the-road reports of our experiences….

On-The-Road Washington DC Day1

Well here we are finally settled into our hotel room at 9pm in Greensburg PA. Since this is the first bus tour we have taken I really didn’t know what to expect. The entire day was spent on the road. That is with stops every two and a half hours. The most noticeable first thing was probably if you did not have white hair you were the minority of this bus load and if you were a man you were most definitely in the minority. About two-thirds were women. When we were loading up this morning there were a lot of guys helping their wives get the luggage in the bus  and then the got back into their cars and went home! First conclusion is I guess bus touring is primarily a chick thing but there were enough other men that I didn’t feel uncomfortable.

We go underway about 7:30am and when we hit the interstate I was settling down with my macbook to do some database work. But our trip director had other ideas. She wanted everyone to play some games. Since I had a different agenda I tried to ignore what was going on. I told my wife she didn’t have to sign what was being said. I went about my business but pretty soon a bunch of stuff (food, books, household items) were being passed all around me. My wife decided to get back at me for not playing the game so I ended up with a toilet brush as my prize after the two-hour game was over!

Our first morning stop was at a McDonald’s and was primarily a pit stop but as you can imagine with 35 senior women and one toilet it was a long one. The second stop was for lunch at Cracker Barrel. I am not much of a fan of that place but since that was the scheduled stop that is where we ate. A couple more stops during the day we ended up in our hotel room about thirteen hours after we started.

Not having to do any driving was nice but the bus was not as smooth as I had imagined. Since the bus was a 2004 it did not have any conveniences such as cup holders, USB connections or pull down trays.  I could only hope that my laptop batteries would last and they did.

So far I’m not sure if the convenience of not driving is better than being told when we are going to stop and where we will eat. This trip could be more regimentalized that I am comfortable with.  But I should not be too hasty to judge it just yet. After all the real trip starts tomorrow when we spend the afternoon at the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. The real action starts on Saturday with a tour of the White House at 8:00am (got to get up awfully early for that one) and the a full day of tours after that.

More on that later….

On The Road – Omaha (Day 6) More on Boy’s Town…

A rather  boring day today. We left Omaha about 10:00am and made almost 400 miles of Interstate driving before settling down near St. Charles MO. But given that there was little walking it was good for my aching knees. Tomorrow we will visit the picture puzzle super-store and then likely make a dash for home.

Since not much happened today I thought I would give you a little more about Boys Town.  Here is the info on the sign in front of the history center. It does a pretty good job of providing a short-hand version of the history of the place. This picture to the right is that famous saying I quoted yesterday.

A warm welcome to the Boys Town Hall of History. This museum is a cherished place for us at Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home.   It houses our precious memories of the earliest days when we were a small shelter for a few homeless boys from the streets.   It graphically depicts our joys and sorrows, our trials and tribulations, as decade by decade we have welcomed homeless, neglected, abused, and handicapped children.   We have changed with the times.   Today we care for boys and girls, for high risk inner-city youth, and for children with speech and hearing handicaps.  

Our story is one of struggle, growth, and change.   But what has not changed since 1917 has been our deep trust in God, our love for the young, and our goal-to impart the values of family living to generations of troubled young people whose own families failed them.   We are proud of these efforts and hope that they may inspire you, our visitors, to believe as we do that there is no such thing as a bad boy or girl.

One of the billboards in the center talked about even in the 1930s they stood strictly against segregation. They welcomed everyone.  Around 1980 they changed from a dormitory type living to more of a family centered approach.  They currently house about ten kids in a family unit headed by a very well-trained husband/wife and often kids. To the right is one of those houses. There are probably fifty of them on the campus.

I pray that Boys Town continues to be funded into the future. They certainly fill a need..

On The Road – Omaha (Day 5)

It was a very interesting day today. We spent the first part of it at Father Flannigan’s Boys Home and then went to the Spirit of Nebraska Wilderness Project in the downtown area.

It is nice to see that the Boys Town is still a thriving mission and that they have been welcoming girls for over thirty years. The story of the place was quite inspiring and the history center did a good job of relaying how it has changed over the years. One thing that hasn’t changed is their dedication to wayward kids. They currently have over 200 there now.  Here are a few pictures.

The Wilderness Project is made up of bronze bigger then life statues of wagons, buffaloes, and geese spread out over a six block area.

Of course we had dinner in the Market District again; Mexican this time at Trini’s. It was good as usual. Yvonne and I both carry pedometers now and discovered that over the past three days we have walked over 17 miles!  Not bad for two old people I guess.  We are back in our hotel in time to get the evening milk and cookies and then veg out for a few hour before calling it a day.

It has been a very nice three days in Omaha; it will rank in the top three places we have visited on our April vacations of the last 26 years.  One surprise about the city is how windy it has been since we have been here. It seems that it blows between twenty and thirty mph almost all the daylight hours.  I don’t know if that is typical or not? I know they get a lot of fronts moving through this area but the wind was a surprise.

We will get a good rest and then it is another road day tomorrow heading for St. Louis and the 25,000 picture puzzle store.

On The Road Again…..

We will be on the road again in about a week and I am going to do my usual “on the road” daily blog posts giving you my observations and experience of what we visit.  This time we will be visiting Omaha Nebraska. We were there during our month long vacation in 2009 and decided to save the city for its own vacation. What we saw in 2009 was a beautiful city with a fabulous restored warehouse district.  We will be staying at a renovated one hundred year old  hotel.

“On the road” posts are a different thing for me. I generally do the initial write of my posts about two week ahead of publishing them. That gives me time to think about the topic and do several edits.  On the road posts are usually posted the day they are written.  I know that several of you who have been following my various blogs have enjoyed my trip reports.  So, starting next Tuesday April 3 and for about a week thereafter look for these unique posts.

One nice thing about doing this is that any time in the future I am then able to identify where all the pictures we take were taken by checking the timestamp with the trip log postings. 🙂