We are getting ready this time of year to celebrate Thanksgiving Day. And we are so very thankful for this wonderful adventure we call life.
We are filled with thoughts of our family and friends. Even though we do not talk on a regular basis, we are constantly thinking about you. We pray that you are healthy. We pray that your life is filled with more happiness than sadness. We pray life often puts smiles on your face and wonderment in your heart. We pray that you think of us now and then.
We are thankful for many things. For one, we are going to celebrate Thanksgiving with family twice this year. Jimmie’s oldest son, Scott and three of his daughters, Searra, Lilly and Iris are coming for a visit for several days starting on the evening of the 14th. My sister Kris and her husband Dave are arriving on the 24th. Sunday the 16th and Tuesday the 25th will be when we celebrate with the traditional holiday meal. I cannot remember when I celebrated with family last. We love being in Florida – However, there are a couple times that being 1200+ miles away is not so great. Thanksgiving and Christmas without family is hard. If we only had the Enterprise Transporter – we would beam ourselves to the North and spend those days with you. As we age, being in the cold weather is not what we want to do. Florida is such a wonderful get away in the winter, we love when people want to come and share with us. Be assured that we extend a warm and sunny invitation to you – Our house is open – ANYTIME!!!
Another reason we are thankful, we are going on another cruise aboard the Carnival Liberty for 8 days. Kris and Dave will join us. Ports of call are Grand Turk, St. Thomas, San Juan, PR, and St. Maarten. We are sure it will be fun.
Among our other blessings is the 22 day “road trip” that we took recently. Our main destination was to attend the Albuquerque Hot Air Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico. We did a “home exchange” with a great couple. We spent two nights in their cabin located in the Jemez (pronounced Hey-Meez) Mountains. We stayed 5 nights at their lovely home in Albuquerque just a few miles from the Fiesta. Jimmie’s Navy buddy, Clay, his wife Suzanne and their 11 year old grandson, Skyler, met up with us there. The Fiesta was wonderful! We saw hundreds of hot air balloons of all colors and amazing shapes. Walking amongst them and seeing them float towards Heaven was breathtaking. After our visit to NM, we followed our friends back to their home just outside Phoenix, Arizona. While there we did more sightseeing with a highlight being a trip to Sedona. The “red rock” mountains are beautiful. We also drove through a petrified forest which was very different than I imagined. Spending time with our friends was grand. Lots of storytelling of years gone by and moments filled with laughter.
Our travels covered the beautiful states of Florida (of course), Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. The eastern states were not all that much different than what we are familiar with on the East Coast. However, once we reached the Western part of Texas, the geography really started to change. We were climbing in elevation above sea level and then the mountains started to appear. We took hundreds of pictures of the mountains on our trip. Each one seemed more beautiful than the last. Sure – we have the Adirondack Mountains. And, yes, they are beautiful. We are used to seeing our older, more rounded top mountains that are mainly tree covered. Out West, seems as though trees are at a premium. The mountains are younger, more peaked. They are mostly bare rock with sporadic, stunted vegetation. The varying colors of our grand Mother Earth – pale white, tan, mocha colored, and then various shades of grays and rust and even dark brown and black – we did see some lava rock in one of the areas. And then in Arizona, we saw lots of cactus. The short, fat, paddle types, prickly pear bushes, and then some full bushes completely covered with spikey thorns and lastly, the famous saguaro cactus – the tall, lean ones with branches extending like arms. There were flowers that covered the ground in some areas and they consisted mainly of shades of yellow. The autumn colors we associate with the Northeast are not prevalent out West. There were a couple of areas in the Jemez Mountains where we saw some reds and oranges. But, for the most part, varying shades of green running into the pales yellows seemed to be the norm. If I were to describe the majority of the landscape of the West, I would say it was dominated by very flat desert-like land surrounded by distant mountains – in every direction you looked.
I spent almost every moment while in the van scanning the landscape looking for wildlife. We did not see any on the way out West. We hardly even saw any birdlife. We did see cows and some horse and a few herds of sheep. I was disappointed. We did see a small distant (very distant) herd of elk while in the Jemez Mountains. We could not see them with our naked eye; we had to use the binoculars. On the return trip we did see one coyote and then a large herd of deer in a field. However, seeing that they were in an area with tall fences, we assumed that they were on some preserve. That sighting was grand, but again, wildlife was much sparser than I imagined. In defense of the West, we did the majority of our traveling in the middle of the day. Mornings or early evenings might have provided us with more. One of the sightings we did see was an American Bald Eagle flying right over us as we crossed a bridge in Alabama. It was holding a fish tightly in its talons. Very majestic!
We did visit a few casinos on our trip. They were NOT into filling our pockets with lucky coins, but we had fun none-the-less.
We also experienced a few really good Mexican food meals, but our systems really cannot take too much of the spicy varieties. Give us good ole American cuisine!
We enjoyed the whole trip immensely. 22 days – 4,900+ miles – experiencing sea levels from 21 ft. in Louisiana to just over 9,000 ft. in the Los Alamos area. And only the last day did we have the urge to be home. And – OH – it is so good to be home!!!
Since our arrival home our activities have been dominated with clipping, cutting, raking and bundling of our shrubs and flower overgrowth. It appears that Florida had a greater amount of rain than normal during our stay at Lake Champlain this past summer. It is now in the “manageable stage!”
As I sit here on our patio, the sky is sunny and bright. It is a brilliant blue dotted with white, fluffy clouds. It is 78 degrees and there is a gentle breeze. Yes – it is Heavenly and we do so enjoy it here. I will now go and continue getting the house ready for family visits. We are so excited.
Please know that we are with you in spirit during this holiday season. We are so thankful that you are part of our lives. We would love it if you would write (snail mail, e-mail, chat on Facebook) or give us a call (518-572-0165) to let us know how you are doing.