Happy Anniversary Andy & Julie!

Just wanted to give a shout out to our precious friends, Andy & Julie and wish them a happy happy anniversary!  I don’t normally do this, but I just happened to be going thru some old photos on Saturday for a different project and came across this one, which is one of my favorites of them.  And it just HAPPENS to be their anniversary today.

The photo was taken in Sedona in 2004 in the Fall (as you can tell).  Sedona is one of my favorite places to be in Autumn, since it has some amazing color, especially considering you’re in Arizona after all.  And since Andy & Julie are one of my favorite couples, it makes the photo that much more special.

So, I hope you two have an amazing year ahead!  Thanks for being such great friends.

We love you guys!

Sequestered Again…

…but for much more wonderful reasons…


On Thursday my husband and I came up to use a friend’s cabin in Forest Lakes, Arizona with another couple.  These first two photos are courtesy of my friend, Julie.

We enjoyed some deep conversation and one of our favorite card games of Nertz.

We have been playing Nertz with some of our best friends since the 70’s and love it! Funny thing, just as I was typing this I decided to look up Nertz rules so you could play the game yourself and I discovered that there’s a National Nertz Association AND that we’ve been playing it incorrectly all along.  Oh well, we’ve had so much fun and the difference is negligible.  We’ll have to try to play the “right” way the next time though.

It started snowing on Friday night just as Andy & Julie were leaving.  We went to bed with some light snowfall and by this morning it didn’t look safe enough to drive out.

We had other friends who were hoping to come up today, but the drive is too dangerous, so it’s just the two of us now.

Forest Lakes Picture Window

I’m sitting at the kitchen table looking out at this gorgeous view of the snow gently falling.  An instrumental version of “Christmas Time is Here” just started playing on the iPod (just like the version in A Charlie Brown Christmas).  Even though we’re well into February it feels appropriate somehow.  Snowfall always reminds me of the holidays.  Growing up in Ohio, we always dreamed of a white Christmas.  I continue to long for the confluence of snow and the winter holidays especially now that we live in Phoenix and have to travel to the mountains to enjoy it.

Today the snow fluctuates from a light dusting, to big fluffy flakes, then when the wind kicks up it starts to swirl between the trees.  At times it turns to a slushy rain, then back to snow.  Even though it’s after 2pm, the sky is dark and gray.  We’ve heard that this is just the beginning of the storm that’s supposed to last through tonight and well into tomorrow.  Worst case scenario is over 20 inches of snow in this storm, but because it seems to be wet (for now) it doesn’t seem to be accumulating as quickly as we’d expected.

We had a power outage this morning and for some reason the back up generator didn’t turn on.  We were ready to brave the storm and hit the roads, but while we were weighing our options, packing, etc. the power came back on, so we decided to stay where we’re safe and sound inside the warm, cozy house.

We’re in a neighborhood reached only by dirt roads and we talked to a neighbor who said that they almost slid into a ditch in their truck with snow tires this morning, so we’re not going to take a chance on the drive out and down the Mogollon Rim Highway.  Neither of us have driven much in the snow and our car doesn’t have snow tires or chains so we’ll settle in here.  We were planning to stay until Sunday anyway and we have plenty of food, even if we have to stay for an extra day or so to wait for the snow plows to come around.

Now all that’s left is to enjoy the quiet solitude with my sweetie, open a bottle of wine, light a fire in the fireplace and pray that the power stays on…oh, wait.  We might want to conserve that firewood just in case we do lose power again.Terry reading in Forest Lakes

Terry’s working on finishing the book, Atlas Shrugged.  1069 pages. He’s almost there.

Fortunately we have an ample supply of books, magazines, DVDs, blogs, photo projects and writing utensils so we aren’t lacking for things to do. In fact, it’s kind of nice to be forced to sit still for a while.  Might be fun to plan a snow trip like this every year…

Click to enlarge this pic to get a little bit of an idea of the snowfall.  It changes second by second and the photos really don’t do it justice.  It’s absolutely amazing!  I’m not sure I’ll ever get out of this spot.  It’s like watching a real life snow globe, only much more magical.

2011.02.19 Afternoon Snow

Looking for Fall in Arizona…

O.k., I’m warning you now that this may be long, if only because of the photos. Last weekend we went to northern Arizona with a few friends (you’ll see them here) . My mission was to find & take a few pictures of fall colors and have a few relaxing days with our friends after a couple of very busy months. That’s all I cared about. Of course, along with around 300 photos came lots of laughs, a great time with friends and some excellent photo ops with them as well.

On Saturday, everyone inadvertantly dressed perfectly for scrapping, except Andy, who apparently didn’t get the subliminal message that it was “blue” day. For those who don’t know it, us scrap-bookers love it when everyone’s colors coordinate in pictures. It just makes picking out our color scheme for our pages so much easier. The other thing that was way cool was the fact that the blues looked so nice against the earthy backgrounds. Some of these pics are from Saturday (blue day) and some are from Sunday, but I love them all!

So besides the people who shared the weekend with us, let’s talk about where we went & what we saw. We really covered a big chunk of the state in just two short days, but it didn’t feel rushed at all. Here’s where we went…

We started at our house in Phoenix, then to Scottsdale where we jumped into Jay & Sharon’s van, then to Payson, (note, if you click on either the Satellite or Hybrid buttons when you get to the map, you’ll get a sense of the terrain) where we met up with Andy & Julie at the hotel. Once we were all togetherin one van, we drove to the Horton Creek Trail, outside of Payson, (which was a recommended spot for fall color). We did some hiking and had a delicious picnic lunch. There was a little bit of color to help satisfy my mid-western cravings, as you’ll see in the pics.

We also drove through the little village of Christopher Creek, then headed for the Mogollon Rim, Forest Lakes and Woods Canyon Lake on Saturday.
We also made a quick stop to check out Camp Tontozona which is owned by ASU. Since Sharon is an ASU employee she wanted to see what it was like, with the thought of maybe renting a cabin there sometime. The pumpkin photo was taken on the field where ASU Sun Devils do their pre-season football camp.

After a perfect day we drove back to Payson and had dinner at a great Italian restaurant called Cucina Paradiso in Payson. The desk clerk at the hotel said that it was the best food in town and when we arrived, Terry and I realized that we had eaten there before. It really was a wonderful meal and we would highly recommend it if you’re in the area. Andy had to teach Sunday School in the morning, so he & Julie left to drive home after dinner.

On Sunday we headed out with Jay & Sharon and were the first guests to arrive at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park.

One of the first things we saw was a little family of javelina grazing near the parking lot. Even though they’re essentially wild pigs, they were kinda cute.

Now in order for you to get the true perspective on this awesome natural formation, I need to include several shots. Hope it’s not too boring…but unless you see several angles it’s hard to understand the massive size of the bridge. Look closely and you’ll see Jay’s bright yellow shirt and some other people in some of the shots to give you an idea of the scale. The one that looks like it’s raining is from under the natural bridge looking out at the water coming down from above. It was beautiful!

This last pic of Jay and Sharon was taken at a waterfall just a short distance from Tonto, in the same park.

After some good hiking at Tonto we drove thru Pine and Strawberry (both small towns). While we were driving through Strawberry we talked Jay into going down one of the side roads to see a B & B that Terry and I had stayed in for a couples’ retreat a few years ago. He wasn’t happy about the fact that part of it was gravel road, but once we got there he put on his “realtor” face and was very friendly with the owner of the B & B. It’s called “Up the Creek” and is really quite a nice place. The host acted like he remembered Terry and I, but I don’t think he really did. He was a nice guy though and showed us all the changes they’d made since we were there last. This is definitely another recommended place to visit if you get up that way. I’m trying to figure out a way that we could buy a cabin or even a lot to eventually build up there some day. It’s much less crowded than some of the other small towns and actually an easy (less than 2-hour) drive from Phoenix.
After that side trip we drove thru Camp Verde to Sedona to check out the fall colors there. We wandered through Oak Creek looking for a place to stop and take some pictures and eat a late lunch/early dinner. Since we were craving a GOOD hamburger, we asked a few teenagers in one of the little stores along the highway. They recommended the Oak Creek Brewery & Grill back in Sedona at Tlaquepaque which was another place we’d been before. We all got tasty hamburgers which hit the spot! We also stopped by Starbucks so Jay could get coffee for the ride home and I discovered their Carmel Apple Cider. mmmmm, it was a delicious reminder of fall in a cup!

So I could go on and on and post literally dozens more photos, but I won’t bore you any more. I will say that all day on Sunday I kept thinking about the fact that Andy & Julie weren’t there and how sad she would be that she didn’t have a chance to see these places and take pictures of her own. Sorry Julie! We missed you guys.

So, until we go down the road again, I’m leaving you with a shot of Terry and I in Oak Creek Canyon and just a taste of the fall colors there.

My First Blog Post

O.k. here we go… This is my first posting to my blog. I really have no idea how much I’ll be able to keep up on this, but it’s fun learning how to do it and seeing the results on the screen. As you’ll find out, I love photography and travel, so you’ll probably see many more photos from our adventures. Oh they’re not scary or daring adventures, but just new places to explore and experience and new people to meet.

These are from a trip that we took to northern Arizona in March. We had no expectations to see snow, especially in Sedona, but it snowed about 2 feet that weekend at the higher elevations and quite a bit in Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. For those who don’t live in Arizona, you may not realize how unusual that is. It was so awesome!

Growing up in Ohio, I had seen quite a bit of crazy weather in my youth, but I think it’s been 10 years or more since I had seen the snow actually fall and to see so much of it in such an already gorgeous place was just incredible.

The last picture is of some of our most precious friends who made the trip with us. (Jay & Sharon and Andy & Julie) Some of them were a bit hesitant (to say the least) once we were traveling on the slick roads, but they braved it with our careful driver, Andy and came away unharmed.

It was the most fun I’ve had in a long time! The snow was so refreshing and beautiful. God’s creation is absolutely amazing and I love to see all the different ways that he treats us with these unexpected surprises.