Category Archives: National Parks

Alaska and B.C. Canada on the Sojourn

Our first port after crossing the Bering Sea was Kodiak, Alaska; our first time there.  The only Kodiak brown bear that we saw was in the National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.  We did see many bald eagles, but didn’t see close enough to photograph.  We walked around the town and enjoyed being on terra ferma.

After a day at Sea, we docked in Juneau; our 3rd time to visit this city.  Again, it was cloudy and cold with some rain.  We were 1 of 3 cruise ships in port with Carnival Legend, HOL Vaandam.  We decided to visit the famous Red Dog Saloon; and were pleasantly surprised.  The interior is a throwback to the gold rush days with lots of memorabilia, saw dust on the floor, a piano player doing old songs and ladies in saloon girl costumes.  We tried their clam chowder which has smoked salmon in it and it was some of the best we have had.

Our last land day in Alaska was Skagway.  It was beautiful, sunny, but cold and windy.  Our plan was to take the tram to the top for views, but it was too foggy up there and didn’t like the wind; so just walked around.  I think the wind is what set off my cold, which started that night.  We also heard some sad news from home, one of our best and longest known friends was dying.  We thought about her, family and friends, all day and made many phone calls.  Wish we could have been in 2 places.

One of our favorite parts of our cruise in Alaska, in 2016 was Glacier Bay National park and it did not disappoint us this time.  The weather stayed clear and the Margerie Glacier calved for us.  We love the scenery, but were sad because we heard that JoAnn Brown had died.  Just as we learned that, we arrived at Margerie and champagne was handed out.  We toasted to her and dedicated that beautiful scene to her.

The next day was warm and sunny for our cruise through the Canadian Inside Passage.  In the afternoon, we were able to be on deck without coats and there was a fun Deck Party.  Good timing!  The next day, in Victoria, B.C., the cold and rain came back, but we had a nice visit with our snowbird friends, Don and Wanda.

The next day, the cruise ended in Seattle, Washington.  A fun 21 days!

Eight Days in Japan

We are home after 33 days (including 2 Friday 19ths due to International Dateline), including Japan and Seabourn Cruise.  It was a very full trip with sights, experiences and tons of photos.  As you saw in my last post, of our Itinerary, we were on the move.  In Japan, we learned to use their railway and subway systems.  At first it was confusing because they have several different companies.  But after figuring it out, we saw that their system was very well organized and efficient, but expensive.

Our hotels in Japan were nice, although smaller than in USA, but they both had the Toto toilets, really deluxe (bidet and back shower with heated seat and music!).  We were visiting during their Golden Week, initially, so the tourist areas were more crowded than usual.  Our visits were to Osaka Castle,

Nara Park, Dotonbori District (Carnival atmosphere in shopping/restaurant area), Kobe, and Kyoto.  Even with all of the trains and subways, we still walked about 3 miles a day.  Jim was able to do that, with stops and utilizing his cane, especially on steep roads, such as in Kyoto.  The biggest problem was adjusting to the time change; 16 hours between CA and Japan.  At first we were waking up at odd hours and having to take naps, but we adjusted.  I had ordered a “pocket wifi” prior to our trip and it was delivered to our hotel.  That was a big bonus and able to use with unlimited, secure access.  Google maps has a setting for trains, so we utilized that to get to the correct track, along with asking assistance from agents and fellow travelers.  English was not as common as we expected, but the ticket machines had an English setting.  We did not meet any locals, but spoke with several English speaking tourists during our outings.

After these 8 days, we boarded the Seabourn Sojourn for 21 day cruise.

Cheryl’s BD, Morro Bay and more Flowers

For my birthday, we decided to take a short road trip to visit the Central CA coast at Morro Bay and Pismo Beach and then continue east to see the “Super Bloom” in the central valley.  We saw some lovely scenery, ate some good seafood, and enjoyed more of the fantastic wildflower display that happened in 2017.

We spent the first night, April 5 in Morro Bay.  On the 6th, my birthday we toured that area.  Montana del Oro State Park was new to us and worth the drive.  We also found a cultivated bush with purple cone shaped flowers, that we really loved.  Had to stop at a nursery to get the name, “Pride of Madera” (knew they looked familiar, we’ve been there) or Echium.

One of our favorite spots in Morro Bay is Giovanni’s Cafe.  It’s right by the bay and close to the Morro Rock.  We ate outside with a quart of fantastic clam chowder and a bottle of some decent white wine.  Very nice Birthday lunch!!  Then we drove to San Luis Obispo and enjoyed a driving tour of Cal Poly.  We stayed that night in Pismo Beach and went to another place that we knew, Scotty’s Bar and Grill.  Good food and drink.

Scotty's Bar and Grill

Birthday dinner at Scotty’s in Pismo Beach

On Friday, the 7th, we headed east on CA 58 to find the Central Valley “Super Blooms”.  They were definitely that.  Hills and fields full of flowers in many shades.  Botanists say that the seeds for all these plants had been laying dormant throughout all the drought years.  Then, since 2017 was very rainy, they all burst forth at once.  The recommended spot was Carrizo Plain National Monument, also new to us.  Really awesome.

After an overnight in Bakersfield, on April 8th we went further east to Tehachapi and then south on Willow Springs Road; on the way to the Poppy Preserve near Lancaster.  We saw many Joshua trees and more Wind Turbines than the I-10 corridor near Palm Springs.  They also had many solar panels; great to see natural power being harvested.  As we got closer to Lancaster, we started seeing many Poppy fields around Ave. I and 110th St.  Golden California Poppies mixed with blue/purple phacelia along with goldfield were all around us.  So glad that we were able to see this display on our way home!

We arrived home to find one of my most beautiful Iris’s had bloomed!

Beautiful Iris

Lavender and pink with orange, Iris

Short trip to the Desert

This week we spent 3 days and 2 nights in Laughlin, NV with side trips to Oatman, AZ and Joshua Tree National Park.  We stayed at the Edgewater Hotel and Casino and Jim did some gambling; not successfully.  Wednesday we drove the 35 miles to Oatman, AZ, an historic mining town with a population of burros, roaming the downtown.  It is very quaint and fun to visit, but filled with tourists, of course.

 

Then, on our way home from Nevada, we did a longer route in order to drive through Joshua Tree.  We have visited there many times and our daughter, Jina, loved climbing on the Jumbo Rocks.  Then for a couple of years, she and her husband lived nearby at Twenty-nine Palms, while he was stationed at the Marine Base.  Our grandson, now 22 years old was born at the base.  We visited with them at the Park, many times.  It is a beautiful desert park.  We recommend taking the time to leave the freeway and visit.

Cheryl’s 65th Birthday in Yosemite

When Jim asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday, I immediately answered, see the waterfalls in Yosemite.  We had been hearing about how since the snow pack was deep, the falls should be spectacular this spring.  Also, we love Yosemite, have been there many times, in all seasons.  We have camped there, and hike many of the trails.  Our daughter was brought up going there and all three grandchildren have been there, at least once.

So, we took 3 days to drive up and visit.  The first day, we took a longer route in order to retrace and drive we did a few years ago via CA 178 by Lake Isabella and on CA 155 over the rolling hills.  It was as beautiful as we remembered, with green hills and lovely wildflowers.  We had missed seeing the lupines this year, near home, but found them there, along with golden California poppies and snow white tiny flowers (couldn’t find their name).

Rather than stay in Yosemite NP, itself, we found a very nice old ranch hotel in Oakhurst, 50 miles south of the park.  Sierra Sky Ranch was very quaint and nicely decorated.  Our room was small, but opened onto a large porch area and was very comfortable.  We would definitely stay there again and recommend it to others.

On my (Cheryl) birthday, April 6, we went to Yosemite and spent several hours enjoying the views, waterfalls and serenity (despite the other tourists).  The waterfalls were full, as we had hoped.  The park was not as crowded as in the summer and everyone was very respectful of the grandeur of it all.  You could see from some expressions, that some were experiencing  for the first time.  As usual, many languages were heard.  Bridalveil Falls lived up to its name with the wind blowing the spray to resemble a very long veil.  Upper, middle and lower Yosemite Falls were visible, especially from the picnic area at the beginning of the trail to lower falls.  At the end of our visit, we found a nice shady spot by the rushing Merced River with great view of Bridalveil.  One of my best birthday experiences!

We took a different route from Yosemite Valley to Oakhurst, #140 along the Merced river, in order to look for the Red buds.  Thirty-seven years ago, with my (Cheryl) parents, Ben and Gerri and daughter, Jina, we saw a wonderful display of Red bud foliage.  It was the same week, but this year, they peaked earlier; we just found few beautiful ones!  We also saw purple sage and many wildflowers.

That night we had a wonderful dinner at Crab Cakes in Oakhurst.

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My birthday dinner at Crab Cakes

And then, we celebrated our 40th anniversary on April 9!  We can’t even believe it!  It started with joining our ukulele Jam Session group.  We wore our matching Hawaiian shirts to accent it and the leader posted this photo on Face Book!!

Ukulele.anniversary

Ukulele Jam Session

Protected: Driving the Granddaughters home to NE

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Mississippi and Louisiana

Still on the road with Jerica and Lauren.  I’m going to try and post pictures from the last few days, including the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Library.  It was a really good visit.  Also went to the Vicksburg Military National Park and are now in New Orleans.  It is hot and humid here, but no tornadoes or bad storms.  On the cruise ship tomorrow, the girls are excited.  But tonight is Bourbon Street and seafood! 

Entrance to Tour road for Vicksburg Military Park

Entrance to Tour road for Vicksburg Military Park

At Oval Office view point

At Oval Office view point

Cabinet Room at Clinton Libary

Cabinet Room at Clinton Libary

Rail Road bridge, now pedestrian over Arkansas River

Rail Road bridge, now pedestrian over Arkansas River

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On the Road with Grand daughters

We left California on June 4 and headed to Nebraska.  After a few days there, we left with our 2 grand daughters, aged 11 and 6 on a road trip to New Orleans and a one week cruise on Carnival Conquest.  Every summer, we have to remind them that the trip to our destination is part of the fun and adventure of travel.  They want to know how much longer and we say that they can ask once per day and after that, we will always answer, “one hour.”  We started that with their brother, 15 years ago, and it has worked.

We always try to see National Parks or natural or cultural sites on our trips with them.  We stopped off at the Buffalo National River Park in Arkansas and hoped to wade in the River.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have aqua socks and there was no shade, at 99o, so didn’t stay long.  Really pretty, if you are prepared.  The last 2 nights we have stayed in Little Rock and scored a very nice 2 room suite with 2 baths and 2 TVs at a Quality Inn (only $80), with internet and swimming pool.  It’s been really hot here also, so have not been out for picnics, outdoor scenery, etc.  Today, we all enjoyed the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Library.  We had never been to it or any Presidential Library before.  It was very impressive.  Jim and I could have spent more time there, but they girls enjoyed the 1.5 hours we spent. 

Tomorrow we are going to Vicksburg and the Military NP there and staying in Jackson.  Then on the New Orleans on Saturday.  They are doing very well with us and we love spending time with them.  Love you, Jerica and Lauren.  (Thanks to Mom, Jina and Dad, Steve and brother, Steven for letting us have this trip)ImageImageImageImageImagel

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