Next Stop: Somewhere Near Baltimore

A reminder of why we don’t want to stay in Chicago

We didn’t take a big trip this summer for many life reasons. Don’t you hate it when reality gets in the way of travel? We’re dreaming of Vietnam and Cambodia, but our next jaunt is to the Baltimore area to see Steven’s son and daughter-in-law (and my stepson and stepdaughter-in-law). While we’re there, we’re going to look around and think about permanence. This whole time of life is a little bit travel, a little bit leap into the unknown. One thing I know for sure, though, Steven does not want to live through another Chicago winter and if Farmer’s Almanac is right, it’s going to be a bad one.

Desert beats snowstorm any day

That’s why the trip to Utah; it was a fact-finding mission. Do we want to temporarily live in St. George? Would it be possible? Do we like it? Is the the right semi-long-term trip for us? The jury is out. For sure the winter would be easy. Plus, it is a wonderful vacation spot: Beautiful, warm, sunny, plenty of hiking and we did get in a beautiful hike, so no complaints there. But….vacation! travel! Someplace new and crazy. Not happening.

I wish at least we had time to drive East. The shorter the flight, the less I see the need to get on a plane, but, again, reality. Plane=quicker, at least if there’s a pilot, no weather, no random delays, no mechanical problems, no luggage that doesn’t match a passenger. I love to travel and see planes as a necessary evil. If I am flying over an ocean I can’t think about how I would rather be driving and then I get a free checked bag and maybe some food.




The Utah Desert in August

File:Woodbury Desert Study Area.Par.4030.Image.jpgYes, we are going to the desert … in August. Why? Good question. Here’s the thing: Whenever I go on vacation, I think, “I could live here. It’s so relaxing, beautiful, exciting, peaceful, happening, etc.” You can fill in whatever adjective floats your boat. Then I think, “But of course it’s great. There’s no dog waking me up early. No alarm, no schedule. Vacation money is different and I’m not sitting in traffic.” Reality bites.

The trick, if you’re really exploring places as more than vacation destinations, is to go completely off-season. St. George weather in August: High temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s. I have no problem with that, especially because it cools off into the 70s. My cutoff for feeling comfortable is 75. After that, I need a jacket or pants. But, what’s it like wandering around St. George when it’s 100 degrees? Are the streets deserted? What about the flipside? Is there heating in the houses? I don’t like to be cold.

When I travel, I can pretty much find something great about everywhere, because I am an explorer. Something new is something awesome. It may only be awesome once, but that’s OK because I tend not to go back to places unless friends and family are involved (or it’s Paris). There’s always a new place on the list.

The difference this time is that we are thinking of this as a place to live. Eek! Not, as one of my dear friends would say, “our forever home,” but a home nonetheless. This is a different kind of travel. Somewhere between vacationer and wanderer. Wanderer is appealing, except for the 11-year-old German shepherd, so this is a good compromise. Nevertheless, it’s a grand adventure, and I’m not keen on travel (or life) without adventure. Who knows? We may love it and find our “forever winter home.”

Time to Look at St. George

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
Of cabbages–and kings–
And why the sea is boiling hot–
And whether pigs have wings.” – Lewis Carroll

Not real relevant to anything, but I like the poem, so I thought I would just put it at the start of this post just for fun and perhaps to draw your attention to the fact that we are now seriously planning our transition to St. George, Utah.

The house is on the market and we are going to fly to St. George to see whether we would be comfortable making our home there for a year or so. It seems somewhat crazy to be planning to move somewhere we have never visited, but what the hell, we can always change our plans.

Our latest thought is we will head out there  in late August. The outline for the trip is a flight to Las Vegas, rent a car, and drive over the state line to St. George.

We will contact a Realtor to get the lay of the land and the rental market and see if they have suggestions for areas to scout. We plan to spend 2-3 days wandering the town to get a feel for it. (I am hoping not to get the heebee jeebees, but instead a warm, fuzzy feeling.) Hopefully, we will have time to check out some restaurants, see the downtown, and look at the areas where there are available rentals. One of our thoughts is that we should head to the local grocery stores to see what we will be able/not able to get. It seems like an important part of the litmus test of what the city is like. We both think that wandering for a few days should be enough to make the decision. But like everything else in this adventure, we are open to changing it quickly.

I don’t expect we will have time to do any recreational activities. Perhaps one or two short hikes, but I think we will save that for once we have moved. But given the beautiful landscapes, we will see if we can get some in.

The Last Utah Hurrah

Today is our last day in Moab. Our last day of vacation except for driving. Boo! We decided to do a hike recommended to us by a park ranger yesterday. It was a 3-mile out-and-back to Corona and Bowtie arches, outside the national park in Bootlegger Canyon, a side canyon of the Colorado. No big deal, we thought. Well, it was no big deal until we got to a short but steep incline with a cable set into the rock to hauimg_20180629_093321323l yourself up on. There were footholes, but Steven said, “No way. I’m not doing that.” I said, “I get it. Do you mind if I go the rest of the way?” We could see the arches from where we were. “No,” he said, “See you in an hour.” Up I went. If you’re not afraid of heights, it’s really not a big deal. I scrambled up the rest of the way, took a few photos and headed back down. I wasn’t going

Dinosaurs roamed here

to chill while he was sitting in the shade beating himself up over his phobia. As it turns out, he was feeling bad and was just done with everything and then I was feeling bad because this was our last hike (or so we thought). We stopped at another spot that was supposed to be a very easy 0.3 mile walk to dinosaur tracks, but again, the going was steep and the trail included scrambling over rocks. Steven was out. I made it and got to see the tracks, which was so cool for me. If I had gone a little farther, I would have seen petroglyphs, but again, I didn’t want to leave Steven worrying about my safety and I have seen petroglyphs before. We headed back to the B&B to regroup, since it was only 10:30 a.m. or so. By noon, Steven was suggesting another hike that was rated easy called the Grandstaff Hiking Trail (formerly the Negro Bill Trail and don’t get me started on that. At least they changed it?). The hike is mostly along a creek that feeds the Colorado to Morning Glory Bridge, a natural rock formation that is believed to be the fifth longest in the world. No sweat. Well, lots of sweat because it was middayimg_20180629_141344258_hdr. The 2.25 miles in seemed longer and I almost gave up this time because we hadn’t eaten lunch. We stopped in the shade for a snack. Steven said we shouldn’t continue if I wasn’t feeling up to it (I was a teensy bit dizzy) and then in my usual way, I said, “Let’s just see what’s around the bend.” Guess what? Around the bend was the end of the trail. We made it and it was worth it! We met a Boy Scout troop who had rappelled down from the top. At that moment, I wished I had done the same. Luckily, there was cloud cover (the first real clouds we had seen all trip) and the way back was much cooler and easier. Plus, we ended on an up note instead of a down. Yay! Then we relaxed. I hadn’t planned on an 8-mile day, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

We decided to have a nice dinner on our last night. Friday night date night! We had walked by La Sal House restaurant and thought it looked good. We were right! We had a harissa salad with butter lettuce, watermelon, and pineapple that I would never have thought to make, but blended fabulously. Steven had lamb and almost made me pass out when he said the vegetables were as delicious as the meat. I had a version of esquites that was also yummy.

img_20180629_204843854Finally, we watched the sun set over the mountains. A great last day in Utah.

Grandiose Plans

grand-canyon-2299751__340While Sue is getting ready for her trip to London, I will be gearing up for our next journey – a road trip to the Grand Canyon & then whitewater rafting in Utah.  We had scheduled this trip before we won the one to Hawaii; we don’t usually have two trips in consecutive months, just lucky this year. (So very lucky!) Our plan is to put the top down on the convertible and drive from Chicago to Santa Fe (with a stop somewhere around Tulsa), on to the Grand Canyon and then to Moab, Utah.  I have never been to the Southwest or whitewater rafting and I am really excited.  We originally planned to go for two weeks, but as we saw in Hawaii, I always want to extend the trip.  We are currently at 16 days, but I am thinking…maybe just one or two more (perhaps a stop in Denver on the way home?) (Mom mom used to say I had big eyes because I always put too much food on my plate. Steven has big vacation eyes.) …We will see.

All suggestions welcome. We are game for adventures.