Archive for September, 2018

RED ROCK ROAMING – USACanada2018 Adventure – blogpost #3

Hi

Week three of this amazing adventure of ours could just as easily be dubbed “Red Rock Rejoicing”, “Red Rock Revelations” or “Red Rock Reflecting”. Whether it be the engineering wonder and size of Hoover Dam, the Red Rock of Oak Creek Canyon and Sedona or nearby Montezuma Castle …

or the sheer immensity of Grand Canyon or desert colour of the Verde Valley, I come towards the end of this week blown away by the wonder of God’s creation. Any number of songs of praise, ancient or modern come to my conscious mind. It want to sing so many of them. Magnificent!

To think we can share it with both our great friends Jan and Glenn as well as Diana and Tom (Dale’s sister and brother-in-law) is indeed a great joy.

Hoover Dam was built during the Great Depression of the early 1930s and is a wonder of size, shape and engineering ingenuity. We walked and drove across it.

This was en route to the small Arizona city of Sedona. More than vortexes, crystals, beautifully tastefully architecture that blends with the surrounds, arty places, restaurants and coffee shops (we enjoyed Cafe Jose, Pumphouse and Glenn’s favourite – Sedonuts), Sedona is red rock country at its finest.

One simply cannot escape these incredible mesas arising here, there and everywhere across the landscape. Not hard to understand why many experience Sedona as such a spiritual place. Certainly with Christian spirituality, visits to the Church of the Red Rocks and the Chapel of the Holy Cross bore this out.

After two days in Sedona, we took timeout to drive up beautiful Oak CreekCanyon for two nights at Grand Canyon, staying at Yavapai Lodge just one kilometre from the South Rim, with elk in significant profusion roaming the woods around us. The free bus system around various places at the rim is excellent for moving people around. Many highlights: Dale and I took in sunrise and sunset together, I set off for part of the Bright Angel Trail and on Monday, I ended up walking 11 km before the day was through. Phew!

Countless magnificent views from the rim. The canyon – 1.6 km deep to the Colorado River below has to be seen to be believed.

My personal highlight was the 45 min plane flight the four of us took over the canyon … the canyon goes on forever. Magnificent! I surprised myself in doing the flight – I’m so NOT a risk taker.

After two days we drove back to Sedona via a long detour east of Flagstaff which took us to firstly the town of Winslow – highlights were the Indian crafts shop and time spent “standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona; such a fine sight to see …”

and not far away … the immense Barringer Meteor Crater, 1.2 km in diameter.

Our final couple of days here in Sedona have meant some swims, nice meals, catchup time for reading (Paul Simon biography finished!), travelling 15 down the road to nearby Cottonwood for firstly a three hour chuck wagon dinner then Western musical show at Blazin M Ranch. Great value for money

AND today … travelling the Verde Canyon Railroad.

Good, though nowhere near as personally enjoyable as the western show the night before. Dale has really shown a love for American Indian designed jewellery and wooden/bamboo flutes … with their distinctively beautiful sound and tuning.

I have so loved being back in this red rock part of God’s world this past week. There’ll be such fond memories from our time here.

Blessings,

David

USA-CANADA ADVENTURE 2018 – blog post#2

Hi folks

Week two of our adventure has been so different to the first. Week 1: around and beyond Kona, Hawaii – sea breezes, tropical weather, threat of hurricane, lu’aus, hula skirts, lush green, black rock from lava everywhere, the light of sunset skies.

Week2: Las Vegas – a hive of all sorts of activity amid the desolation of the Nevada Desert amid cloudless skies

Jan and Glenn, our friends from Cairns joined up with Dale’s sister and brother-in-law Diana Tom in a lovely Holiday Inn Resort, just one block back from the famous (and indeed infamous) Las Vegas Boulevard aka The Strip.

How easy it would be to be seduced by the bright lights, glitz, hedonism, falsity of so much on offer. It’s not called Sin City for nothing. There’s plenty to enjoy in/beyond Vegas (a car helps!) without getting into too much of that. You see, by and large we (such pure angels that we are 😀😀) were content to really enjoy various other pursuits … albeit quite a few in hotels along the Strip, be it …

  • a wonderful buffet at The Mirage
  • a whole day drive to Death Valley and back. The views from Zabriskie Point were stunning

  • another whole day drive through the desert to Zion Canyon/ Zion National Park. Not hard to see why it’s the 3rd most visited national park in the USA. Amazing rock formations and cliff faces, yet beautiful stream to walk along at the end of our informative Zion shuttle journey. Highly recommended.

  • relaxing swims in the pool and meals at the onsite Inspector Joe’s Bar and Grill
  • the fantastic Santana concert (140 minute set) at Mandalay Bay’s House of Blues

  • last night’s mindblowingly beautiful, inspiring Love by Cirque du Soleil at the Mirage. All six of us loved it … the show all being inspired by music from the Beatles. Just superb

  • en route to Sedona/Grand Canyon (week 3 coming up) checking out the famous Depression years-built Hoover Dam. This is a mighty feet of engineering, labour and dedication.

Oh … I also finished reading The Handmaid’s Tale and have started on a biography of Paul Simon.

So you can see, it’s been a great week. We’re having a great time!

Cheers,

David

USA-CANADA ADVENTURE 2018 – blog #1

I’m writing this half way between Honolulu and Los Angeles. We’re en route to Las Vegas and the start of two weeks in the SW USA desert.

That will be quite a contrast to a wonderful first week of eight plus weeks of annual and long service leave Dale and I are now on … greatly anticipated and greatly needed, I add.

Dale half-jokes about this being our “natural disaster” trip. You see, in recent months, currently or in the future (going on history) we could potentially encounter volcanic lava flows in Hawaii, bushfires in Arizona, landslides in Pennsylvania and then a hurricane in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Well, Hawaii have just had one hurricane a week or so prior to our arrival (Lane), one while we were there (Olivia,which thankfully for all concerned, petered out) and the OBX perhaps as I type this is bearing down under the impact of Hurricane Florence. Interesting times.

Yet lovely times so far. Though not perfectly to plan. We flew out to Honolulu via Sydney, but due to extreme electrical storms around Sydney, we could could disembark for about three hours. Our Qantas flight to Honolulu was delayed some hours … which all meant we missed our subsequent inter-Island flight to Kona on the “big island” of Hawaii.

Anyhow, this is the first time that Dale and I have holidayed anywhere other than Honolulu/Waikiki and the differences are obvious – slower pace, less commercialised, less whitesand beaches, and remains of one-time lava flows all over the island.

Our lodgings at the Royal Sea Cliff were superb; the resort “backing/fronting” onto the ocean. We were there for a bit of a family reunion with Dale’s siblings Diana (with Tom) and Dan (with Betty Jean and Dana). Unfortunately Dale’s other sister Donna could not make it. A really varied week ensued. Breakfast and dinner most days at iHop, Bongo Ben’s to name a couple; obligatory trips to WalMart,relaxing pool swims and a few arvo naps thrown in.

Highlights for me included :

  • the two hour drive to the NE coast where we spent time wandering through the lush Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens (really quite stunning) and the swim at the white-sand Hapuna Beach

  • Shorter drive to the historic and sacred Pu’uHonua o Honaunau National Historical Park. Most of our party were keen on exploring the black-lava rock pools there. Me? The religious and cultural history of the place interested me most.

  • lu’au at the Royal Kona (not cheap but so worth it) – mai tais, pork and chicken ground cooked, Polynesian songs and dancing … all in company with a stunning sunset and the ocean waves crashing against the back of the stage. We enjoyed this time with Dan, BJ and Dana

  • Special time over dinner at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company (think Forrest Gump) right on the ocean … best steak I’ve had for a long while!

  • Glorious sunsets

Oh … another highlight. In order to catch our early morning flight to the mainland, we o/nighted it in Waikiki on Thursday evening. Short but memorable Waikiki Beach swim, and dinner … you guessed it … at iHop.

We’re starting to get the hang of being on this extended leave thing!!

Until next time… from Desert climes.

David


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