August 29, 2011

Rocky Mountain High

I have been on vacation. In July, I was asked to become a fourth companion by my neighbor Barbara who was to spend a week in Colorado with her sister Becky and brother-in-law Joe. Our time there would be spent hiking at elevation, so how could I pass it up? I had only driven through parts of Colorado, and was looking forward to seeing those beautiful Rockies, where wildflowers would still be blooming high up.

It was gorgeous. Our base was in Avon, next to Vail and Breckenridge, and even the trips from Arizona and back home again were beautiful. We did indeed hike, but always had time to relax in the afternoon and hang around our very nice apartment. To top it all off, we got to see preparations for the US Pro Cycling Challenge, one stage of which started right under our balcony. We saw some of the cyclists do their time trial in Vail. What a thrill.

Here are some of my favorite photos.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison, on our way up.

Hanging Lake.

My companions, Barbara, Becky, Joe.

Shrine Ridge Trail.

Colorado National Park, on our way down.

Colorado River near Moab, Utah, also on our way down.

Will you feed me?

My mom said that starting this week I would have to feed myself. They showed me how to catch stuff and such over the last couple of weeks, but frankly, it looks like a lot of work to me. And what you are cooking there looks perfectly delicious. Please?

August 12, 2011

Summer at ASDM

Denise requested an outing to the Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, and she chose a perfect day for it. It had rained the day before and the skies were still overcast. Plants had been rejuvenated, and everything smelled clean and fresh.

There is always something new to experience and this time we were able to touch a Sonoran king snake. We spent a lovely morning strolling around, but we could not wait to get back to our iPADs??? Common, you guys!

August 10, 2011


My sister-in-law, the well-travelled marketing exec, has joined us for a week of RandR. I much enjoy having her here: we can talk about a lot of things and she is easily entertained. It is all very low-key, and we are making it a bit of a vacation for us too.

With Denise has come a gale, rather than a breath, of fresh technology. She travels a lot for the job and has made an iPAD her travelling companion, rather than a lap top. Totally sold on the thing. That of course sparked Dan's interest (once a geek, always a geek) and after seeing the magic of it, it charmed the socks off me too. After reading Imperial Earth by Arthur Clark years ago, I decided that I did not need a computer unless I could have any information at my fingertips anywhere, at any time. I guess that time has come.

So, we went off to the Apple store in Tucson, and I spent all day yesterday getting acquainted with my iPAD. I thought the Kindle was magic. It's got nothing on this sexy piece. There is still so much to explore and enjoy. We are going back to the Apple store tomorrow ..., Dan wants one too ...

August 5, 2011

Living with The Wrens

We are much enjoying having the cactus wren pair around. They are curious, not shy, and allow us watching them feed their kids all kinds of insects that they find patrolling the porch. No cricket has made it inside yet this year. Both parents are caring for the chicks and often, after delivering a delicacy to an open beak (and every beak is dutifully filled), they pick up a packet out of the nest and deposit is somewhere far away. They are ideal neighbors.

Cactus wrens are also excellent sentries. They have a loud, raucous call normally and sometimes sound like they are chewing on a rubber band. But there is one warning call that this entire household is tuned to. Dogs jump up and look out the window, and so do I as they often call "snake, snake, away, away!".

We heard the call this morning at breakfast and sure enough: a huge diamondback right under their nest on the porch. Thankfully he was a big sluggish because he had already eaten breakfast, but I did not want to get too close to the business end to take a picture. Dan expertly caught him and brought him far away into the desert. It was our first rattler relocation of the year from the WD, which is unusually late.

August 2, 2011

A new life

Forty years ago today I came to the US to live. It was the worst day of my life. Not the decision, but the day itself. I left both my parents crying at the airport. If I did not have a paid ticket (by the Dutch government - they were promoting emigration), and had my stuff not already been shipped, and, most importantly, if I did not have my love waiting on the other side, I would have chucked the whole deal and gone home with them. My father, then 62, crying at the airport, it broke my heart.

So I snottered my way across the Atlantic to New York, which was assigned to me as my port of entry. My flight from Amsterdam had been delayed and when I arrived at JFK, I missed my connection. Thankfully I was picked out of the crowd at random to speed up the gargantuan line of passengers and taken with my paper work to an office to get me through faster. No matter, I was too late anyway, and I was booked on some milk run from East to West Coast. I have no idea how many landings I made that night, it felt like a dozen.

My destination was Seattle, Washington, where I would be picked up by my "adopted" American parents, friends of my mom and dad. When I do not arrive on the expected flight, they had understandably returned to Bellingham to wait for further instructions. I got to Sea-Tac Airport around 2 am and a hall full of GI's, waiting for their flight to Vietnam. The airport was under construction and the concourse I picked for a snooze was without glass. I was exhausted. I called my friends around 6 am and they hurried back to pick me up and drive me to their lovely home.

It was not a great start to my new life, but it was a decision I have never regretted. I have made a number of mistakes while living here, but coming was not one of them.