December Daily Photos – That’s All Folks!

Well, here we are — the last day of the month, year, and decade!!! WOW!!! That’s a lot of pressure for a little ‘ole day, huh? I’m tired and ready for the new year to bring wonderful adventures and new beginnings for me and my family and friends! But, first, here are the last Daily Photos to close out the decade……

CHRISTMAS TREAT

STAR

I DID THIS TODAY….

IT WAS A LAZY DAY! LOL

TRADITION

(LAST MINUTE WRAPPING)

CHRISTMAS EVE

MY FAMILY ALL GATHERED AROUND MY DINING ROOM TABLE! ❤

CELEBRATE

HAT

I’M GRATEFUL FOR….

MY LITTLE SLICE OF PARADISE!

I GOT THIS….

EITHER WAY, LOOKS LIKE I GOT ALL I NEED!

SELFIE

GIFT MY NEPHEWS AND NIECES MADE FOR ME! ❤

LUNCH TIME

MY BEST PIC OF 2019

It is an impossible task to pick a best or favorite photo of the year – some are just really good shots, some a sentimental subject, some a wonderful memory…..so, I settled on this one just because it caught my eye as I was going through my 2019 photos and I like how it turned out! It was taken in August and the daily topic was “Macro”!

JANUARY 2020 TOPICS WILL BE:

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

 

2019 Advent Daily Photos – Last Few Pics

Christmas Day end the Holy season of Advent. Here are the last few photos from the Advent Daily Photo Challenge:

CHRISTMAS JAMMIES

COMMUNITY

HOPE

WRAPPING PAPER

SILENT NIGHT

FAMILY TRADITION

(CHRISTMAS DINNER…..HEHEHE)

The Fourth Sunday of Advent = LOVE:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

2019 Advent Daily Photos – Part Two

And, now the next set of Advent Daily Photos:

GIVING TREE

FESTIVE TUNES

PEPPERMINT SOMETHING

GENEROSITY

REJOICE

ANGEL

CHRISTMAS COOKIES

WARMTH

I wasn’t able to find suitable photos for the following daily topics: My Spiritual Hero, TBT Memorable Gift, Hustle and Bustle, Advent Art……

the second and third weeks of Advent represent:

December Daily Photos – Part Two

Here is the continuation of Daily Photos for December……

MORNING

SANTA

GIFT

MAIL

GREEN

SPARKLE

RED AND WHITE

FUN

WRAPPING

TREE

JOY IS……

 

2019 DC Adventure

In 2017, my friends Cathy and Pat and I were planning a girl trip to DC. We made a list of all the things we each wanted to see or do and soon realized that there is no way we could see/do it all in one trip…..unless it was a very long trip!!! So, we decided to make it an annual trip – we’d take the train down on Monday, stay Tues – Thurs, and take the train back on Friday! Perfect! Enough time to cram in several things and not be gone too long! The first year – 2017 – all three of us went and we did it in May and got a lot of the basic things out of the way. In 2018, sadly, Pat couldn’t make the trip, so Cathy and I went and we were there during peak cherry blossom time – spectacular! This was our third year and all three of us were together, again – in October, this time! All three trips were fun and exciting in their own way and we saw new and different things each time……and repeated a couple things that Cathy and I did in 2018 and really wanted to share with Pat! We found it odd that there were massive amounts of school tours so early in the school year, but still managed to get in and out of the places we wanted to go with little lines or waiting, so that was good! It was a painful trip for me — my knee and back were not willing to cooperate! I think I’d just been doing way too much in the months leading up to it and this was the trip that they decided they’d had enough……so, I missed out on a couple things I wished I could have participated in, but that’s OK — the trip was still fantastic and I really enjoyed the things I did get to see…..and, luckily, there were three of us, so my issues didn’t stop anyone else from going and enjoying what I couldn’t!

October 21-25, 2019 – my birthday week!!!

Our train pulling into the Rochester Amtrak Station — I do love traveling by train! It makes for a VERY long day, but it is an affordable, relaxing and comfortable way to get there! We’re going to look into maybe flying next year — we can take Southwest into BWI Airport and then take the train to Union Station……we’ll see how it goes!

Union Station in DC is an awesome train station……lots to do there and it is huge and beautiful!!!

Once we arrived, we took a taxi to our hotel – we always stay at Hotel Harrington – the location is perfect! It is an older, historic hotel, but they have a “room for 5” which has three beds at a great price and, like I said, you can’t beat the location – right in the middle of everything!

Our first day, we went to the National Museum of American History……lots of cool stuff to see, there!

The D-Day Flag

Glinda’s wand!

Bat Mobile from the first Batman movie!

I had to take this photo because I had just been to Muhammad Ali’s grave site in Kentucky a couple months before this!

Archie and Edith’s chairs from All In The Family!

As we were walking that morning, there was a spot where we could see the Washington Monument to the right……

And, the Capitol Building to the left!!!

We had planned to go to the Capitol Building the next day – had reservations for the tour and everything……but, I got a text while we were at the American History Museum saying that most of the building would be closed to the public until Friday (the day we were leaving) because of the preparations and services for the  Lying in State of Rep Elijah Cummings, who had passed away a couple days prior. So, we decided to cancel and put it on next year’s list…….didn’t want to go and not see things like the Rotunda and other parts that were going to be closed. We’ll do it when we can do it right! 🙂

 That first afternoon we spent at the Holocaust Museum this trip……such an emotional visit…….

This exhibit was Daniel’s Story — the life a a young boy just prior to and during the Holocaust – this was his home before!

His room, before……

And the room his family lived in during…..

And a scene from a concentration camp…..

Makes you think……

It is our duty to speak up…….

By the time we left the Holocaust Museum, it was pouring rain, so we got on the Metro and went back to the hotel to get dry and warmed up……went down for dinner and called it a day!

The building on the corner where we picked up the Metro near our hotel…..Day Two morning – we took the Metro to the National Mall…..

We revisited the FDR Memorial….Cathy and I saw it last year when we were on a Cherry Blossom bus tour, but we were rushed through it and Pat didn’t get to see it, so we definitely wanted to be sure to do it this year, again! It is one of the best memorials on the National Mall – one you don’t want to rush through! It spans each of his Presidencies and all that happened in America during his administrations and even includes First Lady Elinor Roosevelt! It is laid out like a “journey” of several “rooms” that you walk through! A MUST see!!!

Commemorating his Fire Side Chats

The Bread Lines of WWII

The plight of the poor in America at the time……and there were LOTS of his quotes written in the stone throughout the memorial

The creation of jobs in his “New Deal” economic programs – shows examples of various jobs!

His funeral procession

After we left FDR, we strolled around the tidal pond…..so peaceful and beautiful!

This is Pat entering the WWII Memorial – this is another amazing memorial on the National Mall – the newest one! It wasn’t there (or wasn’t done – not sure) the first year we went. Cathy and I spent a lot of time there last year and we wanted to be sure Pat had a chance to see it! Cathy and I were pooped, so we sat and waited while Pat walked through it! Another MUST see!!! Tom Hanks was instrumental in making this happen……and it is so amazing!

While we were waiting, we got to see a mounted policewoman ride by!

Stunning horse!

After lunch, we went to the National Museum of Natural History — Pat wanted to get some dinosaur stuff for her grandson! My knee was shot, so I sat outside while they went in! They made me wish I had gone in when they told me all about it, but I was happy sitting outside on a gorgeous day – soaking up some sun! I sat on the wall along the steps up to the entrance and was joined by a group of 5th graders from south somewhere – I think Tennessee??? Maybe……anyway I had a lovely conversation with a young girl who sat next to me!

I was also joined by several birds who perched around me to enjoy the sun, too!

We passed this guy just up the street a ways! Quite the unique drummer! 🙂

We always like to plan to see a show or two in the evenings – Ford’s Theater (where Lincoln was shot) is a favorite place to go, but there wasn’t anything that interested us playing there, this year. So, we went to the Kennedy Center and saw “Shear Madness” – a great comedy / murder mystery! Here is Pat out on the terrace overlooking the Potomac River where we went to view the sunset before the show! (Both Pat and Cathy are camera shy……I have to get sneaky and steal a photo when I can! hehehe)

One of the workers inside told us we just missed the best of the sunset, but it was still lovely…..we spent quite a bit of time out there before going in to the cafe for a drink and then the show!

The famous Watergate Hotel seen from the terrace at the Kennedy Center

There were several rowing teams finishing up their runs – it was fun watching them!

Rowing on the Potomac!

The steeples in the distance are the National Cathedral in Georgetown — Cathy and I were there last year and had the honor of hearing the reading of Martin Luther King’s last sermon given there before his death – we were there during the MLK Day week! (By the way — his memorial on the National Mall is another MUST see — we saw it the first year we were there and it is awesome!)

Day three morning, we took a bus tour out to Mount Vernon…..

We drove thru Old Towne Alexandria, which was really lovely. We had three hours “on our own” at Mt Vernon with a specific time to go thru the mansion. So we went through the Education Center, first – loved it – lots of history and information. Then we had lunch at the Mt Vernon Inn and had a trio of soups that were INCREDIBLE – a peanut soup with lots of peanuts and chestnuts, a roasted tomato basil bisque, and a butternut squash soup with spiced cream and candies pecans……all three were sooooo good! 

The Educational Center was incredible…….so much I didn’t realize about George and Martha Washington!

This was cool…..and spooky…..it follows you as you walk by……yeah, a little creepy, but cool!

George, Martha, and their children.

He was a tall man, but she wasn’t much taller than I am!!!

Then we went to the mansion, which is a long walk from the rest of the complex and stood in a long line – I was already in a lot of pain (as I said, this was a very painful trip for me), so the standing in line after the long uphill walk did me in and I couldn’t make it thru the house – I got to see it up close and the stunning view of the Potomac from the back porch, but then left my friends and went back to the gate to wait for them and our bus…..they did part of the inside tour and gave up, too – said I didn’t miss much. It was hot and VERY crowded with school tours and the best part was the Educational Center and  seeing the mansion from the outside! So…….we’re glad we went, but wish we knew the mansion part wasn’t necessarily worth it!

Washington’s view of the Potomac from his back porch!

This church was in Old Alexandria and is the church that Washington and his family worshiped in — the tour didn’t stop there, but the guide said it is worth the trip back to go inside. Maybe we’ll put it on the list for another year!

Then since I had hit my brick wall and was at my limit for pain, I went back to the hotel and slept a couple hours while Cathy and Pat went on to the American Indian Smithsonian – they said it was wonderful – wish I had seen it – it is my one big regret from the trip, but there was no way I could have! 😢 Maybe we’ll revisit it another year so that I can see it, too! When they got back, we went down for my birthday dinner (did I say that we were there for my birthday???) and then packed up so we’re ready for our early morning train back home. It was a short, but great trip….we’re already thinking about what will be on our list for next year’s Annual Girl’s DC Trip!!! 😊

This was above the escalator in the Metro……I thought it was cool!

I caught this shot through the windshield of the taxi on our way to Union Station the morning we left – sunrise over the Capitol Building!!!

Well, what-da-ya-know??? I’m finally all caught up on the Adventure posts — that’s the last big adventure of 2019!!! Next week is Christmas and then we’ll be ringing in a new year – a new DECADE! WOW!!!

 

2019 New Mexico Adventure – Part Two

So, the second part of my time in New Mexico was several days spent venturing out on my own – no more guided tours were booked. I went to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Sandia Peak, Old Town Albuquerque, Historic Route 66, and Sante Fe before returning home on October 4th.

When I got to Albuquerque the day I left Farmington, I went to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and then went to the Sandia Peak and rode the tram up to the top – 10,300 ft elevation! Both were really cool and I was really ready to hit the pillow in my hotel that night, for sure!!!

Sandia Peak Tram:

This tram was an enclosed ride up the side of Sandia Peak – up to 10,300 ft elevation! The ride itself wasn’t very comfortable – had to stand in a crowded tram for something like 15-20 minutes, but the views were pretty cool and time at the top was nice. I also had a late lunch at the tram start point with a nice view, so it was a good time!

Watching the tram return while I was at the top!

This is the spot of a bad plane crash a few years back – the plane flew right into the side of the mountain!

Heart shaped rock! 🙂 ❤

My view during dinner……

…..and, my dinner!

I purchased a few things in the gift shop, too……some t-shirts for my niece and nephew……two gorgeous cowgirl angels and a wonderful cross – all for myself:

I’m glad I didn’t have a whole lot planned right in Albuquerque – not impressed with it – very congested city with horrid traffic! It took me over 45 minutes to drive just under 13 miles through rush hour traffic…..not fun! But, after a good night’s sleep, I went to Old Town Albuquerque the next day……that was much nicer – I really enjoyed spending time wandering around there!

My first stop in Old Town Albuquerque was the San Felipe de Nere Church — incredible!!!

And…..there was so much more to see in Old Town Albuquerque:

On my way back to Albuquerque, I drove down Historic Route 66 for a bit and had lunch at the famous Route 66 Diner……that was way cool!!!

Of course, I had a burger, onion rings, and a vanilla milkshake —- and it was DELICIOUS!!!

they have a “selfie” wall……someone at the end table offered to take my photo, instead of just doing a selfie!

but, of course, I still did a selfie……cause, why not???

It was a bit unsettling, though, to have Elvis watching over me while I was taking care of business in the ladies room! hehehe

Woo Hoo —- a pink flamingo!!!

An old preserved ghost sign across from the diner!

After lunch, I drove about an hour to Sante Fe and found the Old Santa Fe Trail through the historic district……LOVED Santa Fe so much!!! But…..I was running low on gas – I paid to bring it back empty because they locked me into a good price for gas and told me that coming back during the balloon festival will guarantee a MUCH higher price, if I wait…..of course, I didn’t know then that I was cutting my trip short, but that’s OK. So, I was trying not to put too much in when I got low…..but, I wasn’t paying much attention and it got VERY low by the time I got to Santa Fe – like almost completely out of the red zone on the gauge empty!!! I started looking for a gas station……none to be found, easily, so I asked my GPS to find one……every one it directed me to was either closed up or not there at all……finally, I couldn’t wait much longer, so the last one the GPS told me to go to was actually a UPS Store, so I went in and told them the story and asked where the closest one was – they said it was close – just a block away!!! YAY!!! I pulled in there and there were NO diesel pumps (remember, the rental car was a VW Passat)!!! UGH!!! By now, the fumes I was riding on were likely fading away!!! I went inside the convenience store and told them my story and they said “oh, boy – you can only find diesel on the main highways!” Rut Ro!!! They directed me to the main highway about 4 blocks down and another 4 blocks over……I finally found a station with diesel fuel and made it in time!!! WHEW!!! Once I had enough gas to ensure my trip back to Albuquerque and to the airport the next morning, I could relax and see a bit of beautiful Santa Fe!!!

I stopped at the stunning Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi

the first Native American Saint

This is a walking garden with several sculptures representing the Stations of the Cross Prayer Garden consisting of fourteen life-size sculptures representing stages during the events in the hours leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion. It was very impressive and solemn……

So, that concludes my Colorado and New Mexico trip……if you’re reading this one first, keep scrolling – there are two posts focused on New Mexico and six focused on Colorado!!!

Summary for this trip:

Dates: September 24th – October 4th (11 days – 5 less than originally planned, but it was enough to get to see the best parts)

Flew Buffalo to Denver, Denver to Albuquerque, and Albuquerque to Buffalo

Two rental cars with total miles of 1,478!!!  Almost as far as it is from Albion, NY to Monument Valley (the furthest west I went) – which is 1,733 miles as the crow flies!!! Add that together and I traveled over 3200 miles on this trip!!!

To break down the mileage, I put 584 miles on the Hyundai Santa Fe in Colorado (saw and did more there, but everything was closer – less driving) and I put 894 miles on the VW Passat in New Mexico!

And, the best part is I saw some amazing sites, did some really cool things, and made the most awesome memories!!! Definitely a trip well worth the time and money…….fantastic!!!

2019 New Mexico Adventure – Monument Valley

From Colorado, I traveled to New Mexico. I flew from Denver to Albuquerque, picked up my rental car (a VW Passat), and drove 3 hours to Farmington, NM! I found that everything I wanted to do in New Mexico was at least 3-4 hours from each other, but that’s OK – it is why they offer unlimited miles on rental cars! LOL I stayed in Farmington for two nights while I visited Monument Valley and Four Corners Monument. Monument Valley was another three hours from Farmington, but that was the closest place I could find a hotel that didn’t cost an enormous amount of money! The drive from the airport to the hotel was really nice – all good highway, but pretty much nothing in between – lots of dirt, rock, and buttes with a few oil rigs, a couple tiny villages, several reservations, and several casinos…..all with a lot of nothing in between! LOL But, it was a beautiful, easy drive and my elevation increased from about 5300 ft to about 7500 ft. I settled into the hotel, got some dinner at a local Buffalo Wild Wings, and got some sleep. The tour I booked for Monument Valley was for 8:00 am and, like I said, I had about a three hour drive to get there! So, it was an early night to rest up for an early morning.

I got up super early and made the long drive to Monument Valley is part of a large Navajo territory that spreads across borders of New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, and Colorado – the bulk of the land is in Utah and Arizona. The actual Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a National Park that sits well within the Navajo Reservation and is protected by the Navajo people. They are very proud of their land and their heritage and are excited to share their cultures and history. Per the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park web site: “The delicate spires and gigantic buttes of this natural wonder at the Arizona-Utah border form the core of the Navajo Tribal Park, spanning an area of 91,696 acres (37,108 hectares) across the two states. The aptly named Monument Valley has been oft featured in popular films, most notably those of Director John Ford, its stoic forms forever immortalized as icons of the American West. The mammoth buttes, like sleeping giants, rise from the wind-swept landscape alongside towering spires of rock like the striated pinnacles of an ancient cathedral. As the sun makes its way across the sky each day, the landscape appears to shift while the clouds overhead chase their shadows across the richly-hued desert terrain. The overall effect is one of haunting beauty hewn of sandstone and shaped by the elements. Quite a drive from Flagstaff, but well worth the scenic trip, Monument Valley is deep within the Navajo Nation Reserve. Here, the Navajo continue to adhere to age-old traditions, living life in the image of their ancestors.”

These first few photos are from inside the Visitors Center at The View Hotel where I met up with the tour guide

The tour was put on by Monument Valley Safari Tours and was an awesome 3.5 hour tour in a 4×4 Jeep with a Navajo guide. There are parts of Monument Valley that are accessible by the public without a tour guide, but they still recommend you use a 4-wheel drive vehicle. These tours, though, take you further in to areas that are restricted unless accompanied by a Navajo guide because they want to ensure the formations and the land are not desecrated in any way. I am so glad I booked the tour because our guide made it amazing and the best views were definitely in the areas that the general public are restricted from. The formations are all natural and not interfered with by humans in any way – if they erode, they remain eroded – they believe that nature must be left to run its course. Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is known as the World’s Largest Outdoor Museum!

This was our tour jeep – I think there were 7 of us on this tour

Our guide – Comasheena – was awesome! She shared her love of the Navajo way of life and customs with us and went out of her way to ensure we got the best photos!

These are typical Navajo dwellings of the area called Hogans, currently not usually occupied, but some Navajo do still use them as their homes…..we stopped at one that I will show the interior of later!

Me in the “Mitten” pose in front of the buttes known as…..wait for it…..The Mittens!!!

I believe this one is known as The Three Sisters

There were a lot of wild horses, as well as family owned horses

This is known as John Ford’s Point – that horse is a fake one that people can have their photo taken on! LOL

This butte is known as The Elephant – see his body and his head is on the left side

This is known as The Shells

This is known as The Big Chief……this was NOT carved – it is a natural formation that the Navajo believe to be a tribute to the big chiefs!

More Navajo Hogan (dwelling) replicas

This Hogan is set up to showcase the heritage and crafts of the Navajo people and show a typical interior of these types of dwellings

It was after this point that we went into the areas that were restricted unless with a Navajo guide.

This cave was amazing…..see those tiny people at the base of it? Well, we went down there and it was like entering a cathedral!!! This is used by the Navajo as a place to perform spiritual music – the acoustics are incredible! There is a hole in the ceiling (you can see the sun shining through it onto the back wall) and our guide told us that at night, it is like looking up into heaven!

Again, this is a totally natural formation! God is amazing!!!

This shows the group that arrived before us — they are laying back against the slanted wall so they can look up through the hole in the ceiling while their guide played an authentic Navajo instrument and sang them a song. Our guide did the same thing for us, but this photo shows the whole picture – something I couldn’t get of us while we were in there!

Here we are lying against the slanted wall looking up at the inside of the cave……

It was so huge that it was difficult to get a good photo — but, as we were lying there looking up, the shape of the ceiling looks like an eagle – the opening is his eye and to the left is his beak and to the right is his neck!

On the stones to the left is the drum our guide used to sing her song — it was so beautiful and echoed majestically inside the cave — I wish I could share that with you, but I can’t!

Our guide took panoramic photos of us individually inside the cave with her drum — love this photo so much!!!

Another eyelet formation that looks like an animal

These and many other Petroglyphs are why there are areas that can only be seen with a Navajo guide – they don’t want to risk having anyone destroy them by touching them or defacing them — they are believed to have been created by ancestors centuries ago!

The streaks are known as Desert Varnish – created by sun and water resulting in magnesium oxide!

I think this one was called Big Hogan Arch

Photos and my explanations can’t possibly to the beauty of all in this area justice — simply breathtaking — I was in tears the majority of the tour!!!

Our guide showed us where to stand to see this tree create a slingshot to the heavens!

In the center of this cave is an ancient Anasazi dwelling ruin – the Anasazi people disappeared centuries ago – the Navajo are their descendants. The word Anasazi comes from the Navajo and loosely translates to mean “enemy ancestors”. They were believed to inhabit the Four Corners region about the time that Christ was born. They were well known for their cliff dwellings, like the ones in my post about Manitou Springs, CO, and like these. These are believed to have been inhabited by the Anasazi people when they lived.

This is a zoomed in close up……there were three dwellings, but one crumbled recently and they won’t intervene to restore it because it is believed that nature should be left to do as it must!

The formation close to the center is known as The Dancers — it is a place where the Navajo come at night to dance and hold rituals. The one on the left is known as the totem pole.

I think this might be called Sleeping Dragon — I’m not sure, though!

I left Monument Valley and headed to the Four Corners Monument about an hour away. Here is some of the amazing scenery I witnessed on my way.

San Juan River and bridge

Mexican Hat formation at…….wait for it……Mexican Hat, Utah near the San Juan River!!!

The scene where Forrest Gump stopped his run across the country and turned back was on this road……no idea if this was the spot, but it was here, somewhere, and sure looks like the spot!!! LOL

So, I got to Four Corners Monument…….it is the only spot in the entire USA where four states border each other – New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Arizona! For such a famous and significant spot, it sure was a let down to see! LOL It is out in the middle of nowhere – just this cement area with the four states noted, a couple vendor booths with Navajo crafts for sale, a restroom facility with no running water, and absolutely NOTHING else as far as the eye can see!!! But – it was still cool to say I was there and I put one foot in NM and one in CO to mark being in the last two states I had to visit to say I’ve been to all 50!!! 🙂

and, here I am doing just that!!!

And, so I headed back to the hotel in Farmington……another 4 hour drive! When I got back, I grabbed some dinner and settled in for the night!

This is where my plans changed! My original plan was to leave Farmington and drive about 5 hours south to Roswell, NM and spend a couple days there checking out the alien stuff and spend some time in Carlsbad to see the bats fly out of the caverns and some other things in that area and then head back to Albuquerque for the rest of my trip, being there in time for the International Hot Air Balloon Festival . BUT…..I saw on the news that they were having severe storms, torrential rains, and flash flooding!!! hhhmmm……everything I planned to do was outside stuff! So, I gave it some thought – given the weather in the Roswell / Carlsbad area and the fact that I was really starting to feel like I wanted to get back home, decided to cut my trip short. I called and canceled my reservation in Roswell, changed my reservation in Albuquerque, and changed my return flights. I went straight to Albuquerque from Farmington and spent the three days there that I had planned – just earlier than planned – and left before the balloon festival! I was OK with that! So, my next post will focus on the rest of my time in New Mexico!