Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

We are thinking of all our family and friends this Christmas Day. It is the first year we have been away from both my family and Ed's family and we miss you all. We are counting our blessings - and they are many. We are healthy, happy, and have each other. Most of all, we are grateful to God for sending his Son, Jesus. He is our example of how to live a life of love, joy and peace.

On Christmas Eve, we visited a residential neighborhood here in Tucson called Winter Haven. Everyone on the block decorates their homes with lights and prizes are awarded for "Best Dressed House", "Best Street", etc. The roads are closed to traffic. Families wander the streets with kids and dogs in tow. Horse-drawn wagons transport carolers. These are just a few scenes.

Santa's sleigh...

A mailbox masquerading as Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer...

Scenes from "The Twelve Days of Christmas"...

...and the promise of a time when the lion shall lie down with the lamb...

After visiting Winter Haven, we attended a traditional Christmas Eve candlelight service at Rincon Congregational Church. Poinsettias and wreaths graced the sanctuary. Evergreens and candles marked each pew and lined the center aisle. The congregation sang carols and took Communion. Finally, each of us lit a small candle, the flame passed from one person to the next, as we sang "Silent Night". Truly, we were reminded that amidst the hustle and bustle, Jesus is the reason for the season.
A Special Prayer for Christmas
God of wonder and delight,
Warm us with your love.
Embrace us with your presence.

Remind us that no matter who we are,
Or where we are on life's journey,
You welcome us.

Fill us with comfort and joy
That we might reflect the hope of the Christ Child.
Because all the earth cries out for peace with justice,
We pray for all the people!


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Chiricahua National Monument; Wilcox, Arizona

In 2002, a photo in a Christmas newsletter from our friends, Kathy and Jerry Lemay, inspired us to visit the “Wonderland of Rocks” for the first time. Originally named by pioneers, the area is now the Chiricahua National Monument, designated by Congress as a wilderness area in 1976. Located in the Chiricahua (say "cheery-cow-ah") Mountains just 50 miles north of the Mexican border, the monument contains extraordinary rock sculptures – towering spires, massive stone columns, and balanced rocks weighing hundreds of tons that perch delicately on small pedestals.

Scientists believe that volcanic eruption 27 million years ago formed a 2000-ft. layer of rhyolite rock. Wind, water and ice exploited vertical and horizontal cracks in the rock, sculpting it into odd formations. To get to the scenic overlook at Massai Point, we followed Bonita Canyon Drive for eight miles to the mountains’ crest at 6870 feet. Several hiking trails, ranging from ¼ mile to 9 miles, loop through the Heart of Rocks area. (In 2002, the trails were coated in places with snow and ice due to the elevation. Back then, I only walked out with Duncan as far as I dared to get a few photographs, trying to stay on the bare patches of the trail. Duncan bounded around eating snow and thoroughly enjoyed chasing snowballs that Ed threw for him.) But on this visit, temperatures were quite comfortable and we walked the 1/2 loop trail at the summit.

No dogs are allowed on the trails so we let Duncan & Roxie out in the parking lot to stretch their legs. But no one was around, as it was getting late in the afternoon. So we took them on the paved walkway designed for wheelchair accessibility up to a lookout for views from the top of the "island in the sky". The Arizona mountains are like that - flat expanses of desert with mountains sharply rising up thousands of feet. In the Chiricahua Mountains, Mexican species of plants and animals intermingle with those more common to the Southwestern US. Prickly pear cactus grow next to fir trees in this unique environment.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Snoozing Shelties

I have never seen Duncan (right) & Roxie (left) snuggle on the bed like this before - sleeping side by side. How comfy are THEY, do you think?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

It's Beginning to Look a "Little" Like Christmas

We've been getting ready for Christmas, including decorating our motorhome. We bought a "Wheel Topper" that turns the steering wheel into a small table. Perfect for a miniature tree! We are enjoying our favorite family heirloom ornaments as well as a few new ones this year. Under the tree, notice the lighted RV. It was a gift from Nancy & Rob Rodney, my sister's mother and father in-law, when we first went full time in 2002. We enjoy it every year! We have a pink/cream poinsettia plant on our coffee table. Big red bows adorn our outside mirrors. I can't say it looks a "lot" like Christmas. Why? No snow...and that's a VERY good thing.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Hola Arizona!

We are beginning to get settled at Cactus Country RV Resort on the outskirts of Tucson, AZ. Nothing but desert surrounds the park. We have mountain views and are just a few miles from Saguaro National Park. Yet stores and restaurants are just minutes away. I think we'll be very happy here. Here's a photo of our new homestead for the next four months.

Our mail will be forwarded from Florida each week on Wednesday. But if you would like our mailing address here, let me know.

We plan on doing as much sight-seeing as possible before we go back to work full time. I'll still post news and photos here, so check back soon!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Adios New Mexico!

Northern New Mexico was forecast to be too cold for our thin blood. Albuquerque, Santa Fe & Taos will have to wait until Spring when we head from AZ back to CT.So after T. or C., we turned south and spent a couple of days at the Las Cruces KOA campground again. We spent more time with our friends Tony and Chris, the owners. Here they are with the display of southwestern merchandise in their KOA store.

Tony & Chris took us for dinner to Chope's Bar & Cafe, an authentic local Mexican restaurant. Located in La Mesa on Rt.28, about a 15-20 min. drive from the KOA, we were impressed with the excellent quality and low prices. Ed had a combo platter and a frozen margarita, I had a quesadilla appetizer that was big enough for an entree (as it turned out), plus a chile relleno and a glass of sangria, and our bill was about $20.00 plus tip.

On the way to Chope's, Chris pointed out the pecan trees lining the road and Stahmann's Country Store, part of the grove. Stahmann's is the largest privately owned pecan grove in America. We decided to come back the next day to shop at the store. This photo is from the Stahmann's web site.

At this time of year, of course, the leaves have fallen and the pecans have been harvested. But the pies, dark chocolate pecan bark, and cinnamon-coated pecans are all marvelous. Naturally, we had to conduct our own personal quality-control inspection! Everything is freshly made on the premises. The web site has a mail-order catalog so you can check it out if you're a nut lover.

Yesterday, we drove to Willcox, Arizona, about 200 miles west of Las Cruces. Today we visted the Chiricuhua National Monument, also known as the Wonderland of Rocks. As soon as I get a chance to sort through nearly sixty photos, I'll post a few! Tomorrow - on to our final destination for this Fall 2006 Adventure, Tucson, Arizona.