Good news! I was finally able to post the photos on Monday’s post, so be sure to scroll down to see those…and would someone comment please so I know that you’re out there reading these?


More fun to come from Sunday and Monday (but not nearly as exciting as the first two days).

Not sure if I’ll stay with these blog colors, just needed a quick change of pace.

Birthday Surprise (Day 2) An extra special dinner!

After having a low key day, we all got dressed to go to dinner. The only requirement was that the guys needed to wear slacks and a collared shirt. That’s about as dressy as things get in Arizona, which was totally fine with all of us. We had a reservation, which Terry timed to be right around sunset. None of us knew the place that he had chosen for dinner, except Terry, but as we drove out to the western end of Sedona the red rocks were absolutely gorgeous!

After about a half hour of driving to the base of the red rocks we came up to a guard gate for the Enchantment Resort which was tucked away in the shadow of the Sedona rock formations. It appears that the only way we could get thru the gate was to have a reservation for either a room or dinner, which Terry fortunately had made.

Once inside we found our way to the Yavapai Restaurant thru this wonderful ivy covered arch. The weather was perfect and the sky was clear so we chose to sit outside on the balcony for dinner. This was by far the best choice because it was as though we could reach out and touch the red rocks nearby, as you can see in the background of the pictures of Kevin and Terry.

We started out with some drinks and salads, then on to the more important stuff.

Terry and Andrew both ordered BUFFALO TENDERLOIN (steak) It also was served with quail which was stuffed with quail sausage, along with sweet potato risotto, and a blackberry chipotle demi-glace.

I had the SEA BASS which melted in my mouth and arrived on tasmanian crab, heirloom tomato and mache salad, with a meyer lemon lavender vinaigrette. I would love to have the recipe for the a meyer lemon lavender vinaigrette. Doesn’t that sound fresh and simply delicious?  It makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  It was the best dish I’ve had in a very VERY long time.

Amy & Kevin both chose the FILET MIGNON, which was melt-in-your-mouth tender and scrumptious.

The service was impeccable, the meals were amazing and the surroundings were so relaxing and awe-inspiring.  We enjoyed dinner at a leisurely pace spanning a couple of hours and at the end of the evening, we didn’t want to leave.

At the end of the meal, our waitress brought out this amazing dessert with dark chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, with a little bit of raspberry to top it off. These are two of my very favorite flavors. Wow! It was the perfect end to our meal!!!

My husband, Terry made an excellent choice for my birthday weekend! I am so blessed to be so well taken care of…and yes, maybe a bit spoiled.

Surprise Birthday (Day 2) – woke up at 3:30 a.m.!

There was no pink jeep tour!

Let’s consider this more of a photo description of the morning since I have so many pictures and thought it was very interesting how everything happened.

Amy also has an account of our morning here. And Kevin has random photos from the weekend here. So far Andrew hasn’t posted anything, even though I’d love to hear his account of this day since it was his birthday and he said he was a little nervous before going.

To start with, when we were waiting out in front of the hotel at 4:30 a.m. in the dark, the vehicle that greeted us was not a Pink Jeep, like Terry said, but an older model SUV pulling a trailer and guess what? The trailer was carrying a hot air balloon basket!!! For those of you who read my post about Day 1 and Item # 25 on my 50 Random Things About Me List, this is what I was suspecting and even hoping for. I’ve always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon and now I was so excited that it was going to happen with the rest of the family being able to enjoy it too. Now I’m not anything close to a daredevil but I never thought once about being afraid of going up. It just seemed like it would be so peaceful and beautiful…and it was, but I’m getting ahead of myself. BTW, for any of you who want to know more about hot air ballooning (as opposed to gas ballooning – there is a difference). Here’s more info. The company we used was Northern Light Balloon Expeditions and we were very happy Terry chose them since the company with the larger baskets (that hold 16-20 people) didn’t even get off the ground that day, probably because of a slightly higher wind than usual that morning.

Our pilot, Dan greeted us in front of the hotel and we loaded into the car. On the way to the launch site and thru-out the trip he filled us in on all manner of facts and trivia about ballooning, Sedona and any other topic that came up. He looked pretty young (maybe 30 at the oldest) but was very knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. We were glad we had him as our pilot. He even told us that he grew up in Sedona and was raised by his great-grandfather (who made him learn how to back up those crazy trailers in tight spots). It would have been interesting to hear the background on his youth, but he moved right along to other subjects.

So here are the basic steps that go along with the pictures:

We arrived at the launch site and the pilots released a small helium balloon (like you have at a party) to see how the wind currents were moving. At the first spot, the wind was moving too fast up at higher altitudes and would have taken us over the city limits (which isn’t permitted) so we had to drive to a location farther west of town.
Arriving at launch site # 2 they did the same thing and seemed to be happy with the course of the little balloon, so our crew found a clear spot to start preparing to launch.

As we waited patiently (and tried to wake up – I would recommend a nice touch would be offering a cup of coffee here), they pulled the basket and the balloon (it was inside the big bag) off the trailer and tipped over the basket on it’s side. It appeared to be quite heavy. Good thing since we were all going to be in it later. Then they spread out the balloon on the ground.

Next they asked for volunteers (Kevin & Andrew) to hold up the “throat” at the bottom of the balloon and turned on a good sized fan to start blowing air into it while the crew straightened the balloon and made sure none of the ropes were twisted, etc..
Once everything looked ready, Dan turned on the burners to heat the air in the balloon and make it rise just enough, but not too much to go up in the sky.

You can see 3 other balloons almost ready for take-off from one of the ground pictures here.

Soon we stepped in the little slot near the bottom of the basket and climbed into the balloon. (max capacity was 7 people plus the pilot and we had 5 plus the pilot) Seven would have been pretty cozy with the 4 fuel tanks that were also in there.

After lift off we went up to about 2000 feet at the highest. It was pretty awesome to see the other balloons so far below us and the gorgeous red rocks of Sedona in the distance. Since the city won’t allow the balloons over city limits, they don’t get too close to the rock formations, but it was still beautiful all the same. And we also got low enough to see jack rabbits running along the ground. We had a couple of visitors in the sky in who got close enough to say hello. Dan knew them both and enjoyed the company, I think.

I like the one photo of the balloon above us using the flames to make it rise higher. In the twilight of morning, it was kind of cool to be able to see the flames light up the inside of the balloon.

Unfortunately, since things were moving so quickly we didn’t get a picture of all of us in the basket…oh well, you can’t have everything. We have the memories.

We were in the air for about an hour and it was glorious! The landing was a little bumpy and actually pretty comical to watch everyone trying to hold on and not fall over onto Dan, the pilot while he was trying to do whatever needed to be done to actually land the thing. We all made it out o.k. though and I would do it again in a second. It was so much fun!

After the balloon ride we gathered with all the other folks who had gone up (in the other 4 balloons) and enjoyed a light breakfast of fresh strawberries, a cream cheese and marshmallow dip, danish and a mimosa toast, which was a nice touch. Then we headed back to the hotel.
Since we hadn’t had much breakfast, we went out to Oaxaca to eat, thinking that they might have some good Mexican style breakfast food, which is Andrew’s favorite. It was his actual birthday after all. They didn’t really have much that was different and the food was pretty average which was a bummer.

Oh well, our dinner that night made up for it big time. I’ll post about that maybe tomorrow…

Speaking of dinner, I better go make some since Terry’s been working outside all day on the yard in 100 degree temps and is probably exhausted.

Hope you like all the pics. I tried to get a good sampling to give you an idea of what it was like, but if there’s something else you want to see, let me know and I’ll post it.

Thanks for your patience in getting thru all this.

Autumn in Sedona – nearly perfection!

Here are some highlights from our trip to Sedona this weekend. While it was too early in the season to catch the fall colors, there were a few hints that it was on the way.

We drove down Oak Creek Canyon on Saturday and picked up some amazingly delicious Macintosh apples and fresh squeezed apple cider. There’s just nothing like the fresh stuff. It tastes like someone’s squeezing it fresh from the apple right into your mouth. Mmmmmm, absolutely scrumptious!

Early in the day we took a hike down the Brins Mesa Trail in Sedona. It was a really nice hike. We decided that it must be designated for women and their dogs, because that’s mostly what we came across. We could tell that there was a storm coming in, so we didn’t hang around too long.

One discovery that I made was my new branch! You’ll see Terry holding it (and looking bewildered). I’m so excited that I finally found one just laying on the ground. No, I didn’t violate the forest by breaking or cutting off a branch. I was determined to find one that God had already chosen for me. For those of you who don’t remember, see my inspiration here from Santiagos restaurant in Bisbee. I’ve also seen them in magazines. Here’s what I’m thinking…I’ll hang it over the sofa in the living room and display an ever-changing art exhibit or other decorating items there. Think photos, greeting cards, Christmas ornaments, postcards, fall leaves, etc. I need to clean it up a bit, but I think it will be PERFECT! I’ll post a picture once I get it up there. My loving husband was even willing to give up the trunk so we could get it home. It barely fit, but we made it with all the luggage in the back seat.

Later in the afternoon and into the evening we were blessed with a wonderful storm with thunder and lightening and all. Thank you God!

West Fork Trail
On Sunday we enjoyed a nearly perfect day of gorgeous weather, hiking the West Fork of Oak Creek. I don’t remember ever going on this trail before, and I don’t know why. It’s so beautiful. Considering the fact that this trail has a parking lot all it’s own, you can imagine how crowded it might get. The good news is that I think the storm the day before scared everyone away, so traffic on the path was relatively light. The photo of the stone wall is in an area with several decaying walls and buildings near the beginning of the trail. There’s also an abandoned fireplace hearth, chicken coop and an apple orchard nearby. I’d love to hear the story behind these remains. Let me know if anyone knows it.

We also got a nice little treat in seeing this little bunch of reddish pink maple leaves…and so the season begins…can’t wait!

And the reflection of the red rocks in the creek is simply spectacular. Click to enlarge these. They’re much better in full screen.

And last but not least, Terry stopped the car for me on the way out of town so I could get some photos of the moon over the red rocks. I love taking pictures at this time of day, when it looks to the naked eye like it’s too dark for them to turn out. It’s amazing how much light the camera can capture.

Overall it was a precious weekend with my honey.

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.