A Weekend in Sedona, Arizona

A geological marvel … one of America’s most beautiful places … multi-hued red rock formations jutting upwards from the high desert floor creating a mesmerizing setting … ah,yes … I’m talking about stunningly beautiful Sedona, Arizona.

Sedona Arizona

Red Rock Country is unique and exudes a sense of spirituality along with a mood that changes hourly with the light. It’s no wonder this majestic place attracts 2 to 4 million tourists a year. Surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land, visitors to Sedona have easy access to plenty of outdoor recreation, but Sedona is equal parts rugged, equal parts resort.

With such an abundance of public land access, the availability of experiencing this amazing landscape is endless. There are trails for hiking and biking, along with plenty of 4×4 gravel/dirt roads perfect for scenic Jeep tours or ATV excursions. Meandering in the back country among red rock pinnacles, spires, buttes and domes is an absolute must for any visitor, and yet, you’re never far from the conveniences of town.

back country near Sedona Arizona

Exploring the back country near Sedona, Arizona

A birthday weekend …

It was the third weekend in September, and although a few weeks past my actual birth date, it was a great time of year to visit Sedona and celebrate my birthday together with family. This trip was actually all planned by my children as part of a gift … awe!

Since our daughter, son, and daughter-in-law all had to work that Friday in Phoenix, we didn’t check into our double-suite condo like lodging until 7:00 p.m., but that still left us a few hours for some socializing over cocktails and snacks before it was time to head off to bed. Sedona is less than a two hours drive and about 116 miles north of Phoenix, Arizona. We stayed at a lovely resort called Sedona Summit.

Saturday morning, my daughter and I were out the door by 8:00 a.m. with cameras in hand. As many times as we’ve visited Sedona, there’s always something new on our list that we look forward to exploring.

Sedona Arizona Spiritual journey

Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park, Sedona, Arizona

First stop, spiritual enlightenment

Located near the base of Thunder Mountain is a place for meditation and spiritual renewal.  Amitabha Stupa & Peace Park offers its visitors spiritual transformation and healing through the fascinating architecture and geometry of the stupa. Stupas are one of the oldest forms of sacred architecture and Buddhist practitioners have built them to promote spiritual deepening, healing, prosperity, and peace.

Filled with hundreds of prayers for peace, sacred relics and ritual offerings, the Amitabha Stupa is a vortex of enlightened presence and blessings.

Stupa Sedona Arizona Buddism

Ashton and I were fascinated with this Buddist park, but then again, anything associated with Nepal or the Himalayas seems to captivate our attention and that includes all the Prayer Flags. During her college days, Ashton and her roommate had prayer flags hung around their tiny dorm room. The prayer flags belonged to her roommate and were actually bought in Nepal during a family trip.

My daughter and I share a secret interest in someday traveling to Nepal – a land far away. In reality, I think this Sedona peace park or the time we went to Disney World and experienced Expedition Everest is the closest we’ll ever get to Kathmandu, and in reality, I’m okay with that … but shhh, don’t tell my daughter 😉

(To enlarge photos, click on any image in the photo gallery)

Discovering ancient history

Next on our agenda was heading into the back country in search of ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs. We originally wanted to visit the Palatki Heritage Site, but hikes are done via a tour, and since Ashton and I were already running a little late, we opted to visit the less popular Honanki ruins where you’re able to stroll without a guide.

After the split in the road (one way to Palatki and another way to Honanki), the road to the Honanki Ruins gets a bit rough in spots, and I was glad to be driving a vehicle that handles these rough roads perfectly. We did see the occasional car, but we mostly saw Jeep Tours or ATV’s. Here’s a quote from the National Park website about the road condition: “Those with high-clearance vehicles and/or a sense of adventure can turn ….. the compensation for abusing your motor vehicle are wonderful views of the red rock formations that Sedona is so famous for“. Alrighty then!

A final note on the road conditions. Older publications will tell you the route to the Palatki Site from Dry Creek Road is rough. Road conditions have improved substantially within the past year. The Enchantment Resort has brought new development to this end of Sedona and the road is now paved beyond Fay Canyon and Doe Mountain Trailheads. Once the pavement ends, the gravel road is still easily accessed by most vehicles all the way to the Palatki Heritage Site. However, you might want to check with the National Park Service for the latest up to date road conditions.

Once at the Honanki site, we enjoyed a short hike to the cliff dwellings and slowly toured the area taking in the ruins and interesting rock art. Could the ancient cliff dwellers be telling us that Yeti, the abominable snowman, did exist? Another connection to Nepal?

The Honanki cultural site is relatively small and my daughter and I spent less than an hour exploring the area, but we were glad we made the long, bumpy trek out to the site. The drive was all part of the adventure and taking in the beautiful landscape.

Retail Therapy and Dining

Once Ashton and I returned to our lodging, we grabbed a bite to eat with the rest of the family and then the five of us headed to the Tlaquepaque Shopping Village for a little retail therapy.

I love the architecture of this place and always find interesting shops and galleries to stroll through. During a previous visit, my daughter and I enjoyed a little wine tasting, but this time, we stumbled upon Spirits & Spice. This unique shop had the entire family engaged in tasting, and it did not disappoint. I assure you, none of us left the store empty-handed.

Dining … since we had a full kitchen at our accommodations, during this particular visit, we ate in most of the time, but we did enjoy a yummy Sunday breakfast with a great view at the Wildflower Bread Company. Another fun stop for us was at The Art of Wine for a little wine tasting. My daughter ended up buying some Arizona wine.

Restaurants we’ve eaten at in the past: The Coffee Pot Restaurant is ideal for a hearty breakfast and serves up some of the best coffee. I enjoyed the coffee so much that I even bought a bag of their beans to brew back at the RV. Javelina’s Cantina is one of Al’s favorite lunch spots. Oaxaca Restaurant is another tasty Mexican restaurant if you happen to be strolling Main Street. And for those looking for specialty foods, Chocola Tree is worth checking out. Their outdoor patio is very zen with a hippie vibe.

Final thoughts on Sedona

Sedona is most definitely a tourist town and on weekends traffic can be congested and challenging, but if you can get beyond the hoards of people, you’ll discover a sense of history, beauty, and well-being like non-other.

The history of this land goes way back to various Indian civilizations as evidenced by the Honanki ruins; AD 1150-1350. The first Europeans (Spanish) explored the Verde Valley in the mid 1500’s and the first Anglo settled in the area in 1876.

And we can’t ignore the energizing vortexes which attract believers from around the world to experience these mystical forces. What is a vortex? They are thought to be swirling centers of energy that are conducive to healing, meditation and self-exploration. These are places where the earth seems especially alive with energy. Many people feel inspired, recharged or uplifted after visiting a vortex.

Whether you believe in the power of a vortex or not, I think we can all agree, Sedona is unique, and worth at least one visit. As for my family and I, we aren’t done exploring Sedona, Arizona, and are already planning our next visit. Yes Sedona, we’ll be back!

vortex energy Sedona Arizona

Top 7 things to do in Sedona

  1. Hike or bike the 300 plus miles of trails. You’ll find a trail for every level of ability, but do note, the trailhead parking lots fill up quickly. Sedona’s secret 7 hiking trails.
  2. Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross and marvel at this unique structure built into the rock. For more spiritual enlightenment, visit the Amitabha Stupa & Peace Parkand enjoy the peaceful grounds of this 14-acre Buddhist park (open to all faiths)
  3. Dine at one of many restaurants. Finding quality food is not an issue around here, and most recently, Sedona has emerged as a destination for wine enthusiasts.
  4. Shop historical uptown Sedona (also known as Main Street) or at the architecturally pleasing Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village. (pronounced: Tuh-locka-pa-key, I think)
  5. Take in the incredible red rock landscape by enjoying a Jeep or helicopter tour.
  6. Visit a vortex. Regarded by Native Americans as sacred, Sedona continues to be recognized as a place of healing and spiritual renewal. Many come to experience the vortex centers of Sedona to tap into spiritual energy.
  7. Or simply relax around a luxury resort. Sparkling pools and rejuvenating spas abound.

Sedona Arizona

Click here for a map of Sedona.

(affiliate links)

 

 

 

Prayer Flags – Traditional Five Elements Arizona: The Grand Canyon State (Exploring the States)

Advertisements

Change of Season & Must-Have RV Accessories

The changing of seasons can be an exciting time for many of us in the RV community, but it can be a sad time, too. For part-time RVers, this time of the year might mean the last summer camping trip is over, and it’s now time to winterize and stow the RV until next season rolls around.

For those of us that full-time RV, it’s time we keep those wheels rolling with a keen eye on the weather. You never know when you’ll get caught in a freak storm!

snow in Tucson Arizona

An unusual snowstorm in Tucson, Arizona. What a rare encounter!

September is one of my favorite months for RVing. The weather is usually agreeable throughout most of the United States, including the high country. Sure, you have to pay attention to overnight temperatures in the mountains to avoid freezing waterlines, and you might even encounter a light dusting of snow here or there, but most winter conditions won’t begin to set in until sometime in October or November.

Colorado goldPlus, this time of year, the kids are back in school (yay!) leaving plenty of room for the rest of us to find open campsites.

Oh, and have I mentioned the leaves? Who doesn’t enjoy fall colors?

Yep, September is a great month to travel in an RV, but it’s also the perfect time of year to check that our important RV accessories are in perfect working condition. After all, there’s no sense in storing cracked hoses or damaged electrical cords, let alone carry them on to our next destination.

Top 3 Must-Have RV Accessories …

So whether we’re getting ready to put our RV into storage or we’re heading south to a warmer climate for the winter, we should check (closely) our RV gear … especially the necessary and most important gear like sewer hoses, electrical cords/adapters, and drinking water hose. (This post contains sponsored content and affiliate links.)

Al and I spend a great deal of our time traveling around the southwestern part of the United States where it’s not uncommon to enjoy as many as 300 days of sunshine per year. Yeah, we won’t complain about that! All that sunshine is great, and we love it, but that doesn’t mean that sunshine plays well with our equipment. In reality, sun and heat can play havoc with our equipment, especially anything plastic or rubber.

Sewer waste hose

One of our neighbors here in the RV Park in Prescott Valley, Arizona, just replaced his RV waste hose the other day. The hose looked fine to Al and me, and being somewhat nosy neighbors curious, we walked over to ask him why he was replacing the seemingly perfect waste hose.

RVingHe went on to tell us how every time he dumped his tank, he’d smell a bad odor. There were no visible leaks on the ground, just the odor. So upon closer examination of the waste hose, he discovered it was split on top in numerous places. Ah yes, that sun!

By inspecting the hose and then replacing it with a new one, he averted a potentially crappy situation 🤣… a situation that he nor his neighbors would have found humorous, but rather, quite disastrous.

Being able to empty our tanks with ease is crucial in the RVing world. Al and I travel with two waste hoses. It’s always a good idea to have an extra hose in case your existing one is leaking or in the event one hose isn’t long enough to connect to the dump site. I can’t tell you how many times having that second hose averted an inconvenience or even a potential disaster.

Electrical extension cord and fittings

Seeing the country in an RV can be an amazing adventure, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges. In an ideal world, we could just pull our RV up to an electrical pedestal at any campsite and plug-in and connect. Unfortunately, it’s not always that easy, and the use of an  extension cord might be necessary.

RV parks and campgrounds do not always offer the best layout for us to hook-up. Way too many are poorly designed and might even leave us perplexed and scratching our head in bewilderment, wondering, “Whatever were they thinking?” Therefore, being prepared for any scenario is advisable.

RV electrical gear

RV electrical gear by Road & Home

Not only do we need to be concerned about ample electrical cord, but we also need to make sure we check which type of hookup is available and if we have the correct connection. Some campgrounds or RV parks have a 50 amp connection on the electrical pedestal while others may have only a 30 amp connection. If you’re lucky, the pedestal will have both, but in the event it doesn’t, having various electrical RV adapters on hand will make your RV adventure that much more enjoyable.

Electrical adapters are a must if you ever intend to plug your RV into a standard household outlet. Whether you’re at a campground, RV park, or residential home, make sure you understand the various electrical hookups/outlets before plugging in to any outlet to prevent damage to your RV electrical system.

Drinking water hose

Access to fresh water is important when traveling in an RV, and a hose designed and designated specifically for drinking water is an absolute must. We always travel with two 25′ long hoses. First, you never know how far away a water connection will be, and second, you never know when a hose will fail. Yeah, there’s that whole damaging sun and heat subject again.

must have RV gear

It’s the little things that make our life easier … using a Y connector.

Extras we keep on hand

Now that I’ve covered the top 3 must-have RV accessories, allow me to share a few other little items that are great to have on hand. Sometimes it’s the little things that make our RV life a little easier.

  • Water Hose Y connector – this connector allows us to turn a single hose outlet into two outlets.
  • Water Pressure Regulator – this is a must. It protects our equipment, prevents pipe damage and increases equipment longevity.
  • Waste Hose couplers – these come in handy in the event we need to join two hoses together. We also keep a couple of hose clamps in our tool kit.
  • Waste Hose adapters – we replace these fittings from time to time due to use and sun damage. It’s always a good idea to keep an extra around.
  • RV waste cap – this is another item that we like having a spare on hand. A couple of years ago, after staying in an RV park for a month, Al went to disconnect our waste hose and attach the waste cap, but he couldn’t find the cap. We think a critter may have taken it.

chipmunk

A change of season – preparing your RV for winter

If you’re storing your RV for the winter, winterizing it properly is crucial. It’s no fun pulling your RV out of storage and getting it ready for your first camping trip of the season, only to realize you have damaged lines and/or equipment. You’ll want to consult your owner’s manual for instructions specific to your RV or seek professional help in winterizing your particular RV.

If you decide to RV in winter conditions, there’s some precautions to take to avoid waterlines freezing. Al and I do our best to avoid RVing in freezing temperatures, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable. This is how we’ve handled winter RVing … we go into “self-containment” mode.

  • Disconnect the RV water hose and waste hose.
  • Have your fresh water tank full for usage.
  • Use your RV furnace to keep the RV warm. It’s okay to use another source of heat like a Mr. Buddy, but do not use it exclusively. The RV heating system usually has heat runs to the lower compartments, keeping waterlines and the water pump from freezing.
camping in Tucson Arizona

Gilbert Ray Campground, Tucson, Arizona – February 2013

So, are you ready for the change of season?

I know we are, and as we prepare to hit the road along with the impending weather changes, Al and I remind ourselves of our favorite quote ….

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” – Ben Franklin

Architecture as a Photographic Subject

Having grown up in the Chicago suburbs, I was well acquainted with the name Frank Lloyd Wright at an early age. I lovingly blame my father for my interest in design and architecture.

Mission San Xavier, Tucson, Arizona

Mission San Xavier, Tucson, Arizona

My dad worked in the trades in the city (Chicago) and it wasn’t uncommon for me to see blueprints scattered across our dining room table. Although it would take me years to develop his eye and talent, it was a goal I embraced wholeheartedly.

Grand Hotel Mackinac Island Michigan

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, Michigan

I was very fortunate to have worked in an industry that I was passionate about, and just because I no longer work in the housing industry does not mean that I’ve lost my interest in architecture … to the contrary.

Travel has only piqued my interest in architecture further, and I love seeking out unique structures.

Loretto Chapel Santa Fe New Mexico

Loretto Chapel and the miraculous staircase, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Photo challenge – theme – prompt

For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of architecture. Show us one of your favorite buildings or structures. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post.

After going through all my photographs, I realized I don’t have any images of Prairie Style architecture. Although I’ve studied and toured prairie style homes and visited several Frank Lloyd Wright historical sites in the past, I don’t seem to have any photographs in my archives. Hmm, perhaps this winter, I should visit Taliesin West in Scottsdale, Arizona 😏

St. Louis Cathedral New Orleans Louisiana

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisiana

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Perhaps this will help inspire you to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect!

San Xavier Mission Tucson Arizona

Next weeks photo prompt?

I’ll be taking a short break from these photo challenges for the next couple of weeks, but promise I’ll be back. In the meantime, I’ll be working on some photo prompt ideas and going through my external hard-drives for images. If you have any photo theme ideas, please let me know in the comments. I love brainstorming!

Chicago architecture

Ten years ago, I enjoyed taking my son on a walking tour of Chicago. The city offers a wonderful blend of old and new architecture . It was a great day exploring the big city.

(affiliate links)
Designing Your Perfect House: Lessons from an Architect
Life is Good Mug

Home is Where the Heart is!

Home? What does home really mean? The dictionary says – one’s place of residence, place of domicile, but I think it’s so much more than that simplistic definition.

curious neighbors in our front yard – Cherry Creek State Park, Colorado

I was fortunate to have grown up in a house that my parents owned with a nice yard, nice neighborhood, and have some very fond childhood memories as a result. Once I was no longer living under my parents roof, it wasn’t uncommon for me to still refer to that childhood house as home. I’d quite often say to my roommate, “I’m going home to spend the weekend with my folks”.

Knowing my living arrangement with that roommate was temporary, my heart continued to view my childhood residence as home. In addition to any physical house, I think many of us still view the town or state we grew up in as home.

My “home” in one of many temporary locations – Dillon Lake, CO – this was a fave!

The meaning of home

A home is more than a financial asset or physical structure. Whether you live in a big house or a little house, an apartment or a temporary house, or even a RV, home is a place where you feel that you belong … a place you enjoy sharing with friends and family … a place you connect with because your ideas or attitudes are the same as those of the people around you … a place where you can put your feet up and let out a big sigh of contentment … a place where you can relax and say, “Ah, life is good”.

RVing in Grand Tetons National Park

Another favorite … Home for a week – Grand Tetons National Park

We have a saying in the RV community – “Home is where we park it“. We travel with our houses in tow and have the freedom to change our yard and views on a whim. It’s a glorious way to live, but it’s not without its faults.

Pueblo West Colorado

The house Al and I lived in the longest and raised teenagers in  – home for 10 years.

Al and I moved into our RV on a whim over five years ago, and had every intention of living in the RV for merely a year or two … just until we found a new home base. Over the past five years, we’ve put contracts in on three different houses in various locations, and in each case, we breathed a sigh of relief when negotiations stalled. (hmm, wonder which client stuck their feet in the mud during negotiations? 😁)

Our former sticks and bricks home seen in the distance – photo swiped from our friends Facebook post this past winter. I do NOT miss those Colorado winters.

Do I miss the large custom home in southern Colorado that I designed, generaled, built, and raised my children in? … Nope! As much as I loved that house, and it was home to our family of four for ten years, once Al and I became empty nester’s that house became way too big for just the two of us. Plus, my sense of wanderlust took hold, and I was ready for a new direction, a new adventure, and a change of scenery.

The freedom of RV living is addictive, and clearly, Al and I aren’t ready to change our home scenario anytime soon. We love our RV home and our ever-changing backyard! With that said, we’ll keep looking for that home base, and when we do eventually find it, you’ll be the first to know … well, maybe second … our children should be the first!

Our home – we loved this backyard for five awesome weeks – near Lake Powell

Along with all the fabulous and varying locations we’ve enjoyed calling home over the past few years, we’ve also met some of the nicest people living this RV mobile lifestyle and made some wonderful friends along the way. Friends help provide a sense of home no matter where we’re camped.

This summer, we managed to snag a great campsite in a RV park next to fun neighbors. We adore these neighbors that we’ve lived next to for the past five months, and will be sad, yet excited, to be moving in a couple of weeks.

monsoon season in Arizona

My home for the summer of 2018. Watching storms was part of our entertainment.

And as much as we’re looking forward to the change of scenery, we’re already looking forward to returning to Prescott next summer, if for nothing else, than to harass our dear neighbors 🤣 because yes, we do intend to camp next to these very same people again next summer. Although we realize that there’s a risk they decide to change their housing situation. Run Forest, run!!!

Fairgrounds RV Park

Our home in the background and our neighbors home in the foreground – best neighbors!

Today, some places feel more like home to us than other places. The state of Colorado will always have a special place in our hearts, but it is no longer home. The meaning of the word home has taken on more of a spiritual meaning to us than that of a physical structure or place. Home is where our heart is!

Cave Creek Arizona – hot air balloons routinely flew over our home

Photo challenge – theme – prompt

For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of home. What does home mean to you and what does it look like? Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post. I’d love to see images of your home.

Lake Pleasant, Arizona. This place has served as home for weeks at a time

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Photo Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect!

our home in the desert – boondocking in Quartzsite for a couple of weeks a few winters ago!

Next weeks photo challenge – Architecture …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
 Home is Where You Park It Throw Pillow
Life is Good Adirondack Mug

Favorite Zoos – Photo Prompt

When my children were little (I mean, really little, like 1-3 years old), we lived in the Chicago suburbs and within an easy drive to the Brookfield Zoo. I don’t remember too much from those visits as I was too preoccupied keeping those two little ones corralled in a double stroller. However, I do know at that time, the Brookfield Zoo was known as one of the top zoos in the country.

By the time my children were in elementary school, we were living in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and visiting the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo became a favorite pastime. Long gone were the days of that double stroller, and keeping my eyes peeled on the little kids. I was finally able to enjoy the zoo experience and focus on the animals. Our visits continued into adulthood …

giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Colorado Springs Colorado

My daughter feeding a giraffe at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo – Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is located in an absolutely beautiful place. But be forewarned, the zoo is built into the side of a mountain, and therefore, has some hilly walkways and elevation changes to navigate. Even for those of us used to the 6,000 foot plus altitude, those hills can make even the fittest person huff and puff.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Colorado Springs Colorado

Giraffes at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Now that my children live in Phoenix, Arizona, we like to make a day of it and visit the Wildlife World Zoo. This place is huge and constantly expanding.

ostrich at Wildlife World Zoo Phoenix

The first time my son introduced me to his then girlfriend, now wife, was during a visit to the Wildlife World Zoo. It was a great day watching their blossoming relationship.

Me and my son at Wildlife World Zoo – during this visit, I met his then girlfriend, now wife, for the first time.

monkey at the Wildlife World Zoo in Phoenix Arizona

During that particular visit to the Wildlife World Zoo, my focus was more on getting to know the young gal that my son was falling in love with than photographing the animals.

So a few months later, I connected with my blogging pal, Nancy, for a photographic day at the zoo. We enjoyed a very fun day and took tons of photographs, but guess what? I can’t find the images from that day 😥

ostrich Wildlife World Zoo Phoenix ArizonaThis past weekend, I spent well over an hour going through two external hard-drives looking for that file to no avail. I have one more external drive to check which is located at my son’s house.

It’s always a good idea to keep an external hard-drive filled with photographs and important documents off-site at another location.

If I still can’t find those photographs on that external hard-drive, that means Nancy and I will HAVE TO do a repeat. I’m sure neither of us will complain too loudly about a trip to the zoo. Will we Nancy? Maybe we’ll even throw in a visit to the Phoenix Zoo, which I haven’t visited yet.

Drive-through Wildlife Parks

Another great way to see animals up close is via a drive-through wildlife park. Of course, I always prefer to see animals in the wild, but we can’t nor shouldn’t get as close to the animals in the wild as we can in a park or zoo.

The first and only time I’ve visited a drive-through wildlife park was a couple of years ago when we were meandering around the state of Idaho. Yellowstone Bear World was a wonderful way to see a bunch of bears and cubs in addition to a variety of other animals.

Yellowstone Bear World Idaho

Gosh, I’m handsome!

Yellowstone Bear World Idaho

This moose was laying close to the fence, allowing me to get very close to her.

Yellowstone Bear World is a relatively small park and a two hour visit was enough to satisfy my camera. Even though small, I’m really glad I made time for this excursion. Next on my ‘must see’ list is Bearizonia in northern Arizona.

Since my sister and her daughter came to Arizona to attend my son’s wedding this past August, they not only visited the Grand Canyon but stopped in at Bearizonia per my recommendation. They were not disappointed and encouraged me to visit. As many times as Al and I have camped near the Grand Canyon and Williams, something has always come up that thwarted my visit to this wildlife park… sigh! Therefore, it still remains on ‘my list’.

Favorite zoo or wildlife park

Do you have a favorite zoo or wildlife park that you like to visit? For this weeks photo challenge / theme, I’ve chosen the prompt zoo. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post.

leopard

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt / challenge as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Maybe this will help inspire you to pick up your camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect 🤗

Next weeks prompt – Around Home …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
Flopsie Moose
LEGO Forest Animals
Animal Tote Bag
Grip and Stand for Phones and Tablets

A Wedding to Remember

Okay, I’ll admit, I struggled with the title of this post. After all, aren’t all weddings memorable? However, this wedding for me was one for the books, one I’ll remember and cherish, one that brings a smile to my face … my eldest child, favorite son, only son got married.

Weddings in Arizona

There’s something about your child getting married that brings about an awareness, a knowledge that your child is entering into a new chapter in their life. As parents, we all know these mile-stones in life are forthcoming, and there’s nothing we can do to slow things down … kindergarten, high school, a driver’s license, college. We can only hope and pray that we prepared our child to handle these life changing moments.

They grow up so fast!

I’ve never considered myself a conventional mother. When the children were little, we were active in various play groups. When we moved to Colorado Springs, we even joined a bible study group, but eventually, I was ostracized from that group 🤦‍♀️ – ah, but that’s a tale for another time.

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Minnesota

Al and a four-year old, Logan, head out into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in MN for an overnight.

While most mother’s were censoring their children’s videos, books, and treats, I was open to exposing my children to whatever they were curious about and discussing the pros, cons, and issues. I was once met with perplexed stares at a play group when I commented, “It’s not my job to protect my children from society; it’s my job to prepare them for it”.

With that said, I can honesty say on my son’s wedding day, he was ready and excited to walk down that isle. I felt I had done my job, and prepared him the best I could for this next phase in his life.

During the weeks months leading up to the wedding, I had enjoyed numerous mother/son luncheons and embraced the opportunity to discuss various topics with my son.  As a mother, I felt I needed to ask the important questions and pose a number of scenarios for him to think about.

Some conversations, he clearly didn’t appreciate, but he always understood where I was coming from. Obviously with over thirty years of experience coping with my mothering style, he had plenty of practice dealing with me. Poor kid! Therefore, none of this came as a shock to him, nor were these conversations based specifically on his bride.

The Big Day!

It was a warm sunny day in August, and the Van Dickson Ranch in Skull Valley, Arizona, served as a beautiful place for a wedding. Al and I arrived at the wedding venue a few hours before the ceremony (per request).

Wedding venue Van Dickson Ranch, Skull Valley Arizona

Van Dickson Ranch, Skull Valley, Arizona

We quickly found Logan and his groomsmen. After a big hug from Logan, his attention turned toward me to see how I was feeling and if I needed something to drink (meaning water). WTF? When did he grow up and turn into such a thoughtful young man? He was so relaxed, caring, and confident, and he didn’t stop smiling. I was overcome with pride and joy.

He was happy … I was happy … and we were ready to officially welcome Jessica into our family. The ceremony was perfect, personal, and performed by a good friend. We all witnessed some tender moments and some jovial moments.

exchanging of wedding vows

Exchanging of vows!

And I pronounce you husband and wife 🥂

Just as the ceremony was coming to an end, dark ominous clouds started rolling in accompanied by the sound of low rumbling thunder. While the wedding guests made their way to the pavilion, the wedding party managed to get in professional photographs before the first drops of rain fell.

van dickson ranch skull valley arizona wedding venue

heading toward the pavilion for the reception before the storm rolls in

And then it was time to celebrate ….

While we did get hit with a summer storm accompanied by rain, winds, thunder, and lightening, everyone was safely under cover and enjoying the delicious food, desserts, and open bar. The storm didn’t last long and the sky even graced us with a rainbow.

Our daughter, Ashton, was a bridesmaid

With the exception of a few gusts of wind knocking over some things, it was a beautiful wedding overall, and I’m so happy for the newlyweds.

And now that Jess is officially part of our family, I have every intention of treating her like a daughter 😲 Do you think Logan warned her about me and my parenting? Too late, Jess! You’re part of the family now. Perhaps, you can consult your sister-in-law, Ashton, for advice on managing your new mother-in-law 🤣

Out of town guests …

One of the best things about a wedding is the bringing together of family and friends from around the country.

We were thrilled to have members from our own wedding party, from 35 years ago, attend this wedding, along with other family members. We loved seeing everyone and having the opportunity to reconnect and catch up. This was long overdue!

My wedding – We too had an outdoor wedding. It was great seeing everyone again for Logan’s wedding (sadly with the exception of one bridesmaid who passed away)

I absolutely loved hanging out with everyone, but the highlight of my evening was dancing with my son. I seriously can’t recall ever dancing with him before, so this was a first. Can you believe, I didn’t shed a tear the entire day? Nope, not even when we danced, but I guess, we made a couple of other folks teary eyed.

Me dancing with my son

I’d like to send a huge shout out to my brother for recommending the song “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was the perfect song for our Mother – Son dance.

So there you have it – my wedding to remember. I wish I had more photographs to share with you all, but I’m afraid there was a camera intervention on my children’s part. My sister provided the first photo and the mother/son photos and the other’s were quickly taken by me when my kids weren’t looking … not an easy task!

My sincere congratulations go out to Logan and Jess. I wish them many years of joy and happiness together 💞 and if you need any advice ……   😉

(affiliate links)

 Throw Pillow
The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner & Organizer
Bride and Groom Wedding glass set
Womens Love Heart Design T-shirt 

Sunrise – A New Day, a New View

With a strong cup of coffee in hand while watching the sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico … Ah, could there possibly be a better way to start a new day? I know it’s one of my favorites; a strong cup of coffee and a beautiful sunrise.

The dawning of a new day brings about a sense of hope, a sense of new beginnings, a fresh start. All the problems of yesterday are just that – yesterday’s problems.

Sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

I love watching a beautiful sunrise, but I don’t always love jumping out of the RV so early in the morning in search of those wonderful views. Summer is particularly difficult for me to photograph sunrise considering the sun graces us with her presence so incredibly early in the morning.

It’s too tempting to stay snuggled up in the RV until a more reasonable hour. I guess that’s why I enjoy visiting the Texas Gulf Coast during the winter months. Sunrise is at a more sensible hour and I have no trouble loading up my travel mug with a steaming cup of strong black coffee, tossing the camera in the truck, and heading off in search of capturing an inspiring sunrise photograph. It’s not uncommon for me to be driving along the coast, sipping coffee, long before the sun makes her appearance.

Dock of the Bay

I find these early morning solo excursions to be refreshing. It’s the perfect way to start my day, and I always look forward to our visits to this special place in Texas. I was so looking forward to repeating our usual January – February Texas sojourn, but after much discussion and lots of hemming and hawing, Al and I have decided to stay in Phoenix, Arizona, the entire winter and forgo the Texas journey … this winter, anyway.

I’ll miss those Gulf Coast sunrises, but now I have the challenge of finding the perfect sunrise view in the desert southwest. Hmm, I think I’m up for the photo challenge! If anyone is interested in joining me on a photographic outing in Arizona this winter, please, do reach out … I love company and exploring new locations.

sunrise over the bay

I will miss those coastal views and shore birds, but I look forward to embracing new views, new photographic challenges, and meeting new friends. A new day, a new view, and a new adventure … bring it on!

For this weeks photo challenge, let’s share images of sunrise. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post. I’d love to see your favorite sunrise location.

sunrise over the Gulf of Mexico

Wandering Wednesday –

Each Wednesday I post a different photo prompt / challenge as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like-minded bloggers. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect 🤗

Upcoming prompt –  Zoo …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
Travel Mug
Camping Coffee Mugs
French Press Coffee Maker
365 Best Inspirational Quotes: Daily Motivation For Your Best Year Ever

Reflections of Life

With summer coming to an end, I find myself in a reflective mood. Maybe its the overnight crisp cool air that’s reminding me that summer will soon be coming to an end. Perhaps I’m not relishing the change of season that has me feeling rather melancholy today. The summer seemed to have whizzed by, and now fall is just around the corner… sigh! Although, looking on the bright side, who doesn’t love fall colors? But clearly, I’m not ready for the change … just yet, anyway!

Reflections at Steamboat Lake Colorado

Steamboat Lake, Colorado

Perhaps it’s this nasty summer cold that I can’t seem to shake that has brought about my somber mood, or perhaps it’s a combination of a bunch of things happening in my life right now. I guess today, I’m feeling more like a Debbie Downer than an inspiring Ingrid, and for that, I apologize, but we all have our down days, don’t we?

See, I’ve told you before, this RVing gig isn’t all rainbows and unicorns! Nope, it’s still life with all its normal ups and downs.

Grand Tetons National Park

Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming

And right now, life is a little on the down side for me. Quite frankly, I haven’t felt like myself all summer, and have barely touched my camera which is, of course, uncharacteristic of me. But life happens, things change, and we all get older. This too shall pass, and witnessing beautiful scenery always helps improve my mood.

Corpus Christi Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

The month of August brought about some major changes in my life … some good and some not. My son got married (which was good, considering everyone couldn’t stop smiling the entire evening), I had a milestone birthday (which I prefer not to be reminded of considering I stopped having birthdays years ago 😁), and I lost a sweet RVing friend (loss is always sad). But the most difficult moment for me this month was loosing a beloved family member. I’m still processing that one!

San Diego California

San Diego, California

Although I’m feeling rather somber and down today, I can’t help but smile as I gaze upon these images. Each photograph evokes a fond memory and reminds me of some of the amazing places AND people that I’ve been blessed to have encountered, and that makes me happy. Beautiful photographs and memories always lift my spirits.

reflections at Watson Lake Prescott Arizona

Watson Lake, Prescott, Arizona

I love landscape images with water reflections. It’s probably one of my most favorite things to capture on film (rather on media card, but that just doesn’t sound right, does it?) Yep, there’s something about a calm body of water reflecting the landscape that captivates my attention, refreshes me, and reminds me that life is good!

reflections at Steamboat Lake Colorado

Steamboat Lake, Colorado

For this weeks photo prompt, I’ve chosen the theme “reflections“. Feel free to share a link in the comments below or link back to this page on your own post.

The word reflection pertains to more than a reflective image. It also means serious thought or consideration. Perhaps there’s a fond memory you’d like to share along with a reflective photograph. We all have our moments in life where we need to slow down, take a deep breath, and reflect on life … reflect on what’s important and what isn’t. I warned ya, I was in a reflective mood today 😏

Beach Living along the Gulf of Mexico

Fulton Beach, Texas

I’m sure as my head clears from this annoying cold, my state of mind will improve, and eventually, I might even share a photo or two of my son’s wedding which turned out beautifully by the way. Until next time … happy shooting!

Oh, and I promise to be in a better mood next week 😁 After all, next weeks photo theme is Sunrise. How could I not be in a good mood looking at inspiring photographs?

reflection

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Maybe you just need a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your photo archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy, share and connect! 🤗

Next weeks photo theme is Sunrise …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss
Zen Reflections Juniper Bonsai

Theme – Black and White Photography

I’ll admit, I’m usually not a fan of Black and White photography, but some images actually look better in monochrome. There’s something that changes about the mood of a photograph when colors don’t distract the eye.

Black and white photography

I personally feel Black and White images have a moodiness about them … sometimes a sadness or mystery. Perhaps it’s because I’m a huge fan of color … color in all facets of my life. I’ve always decorated our homes with a colorful palette, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than a beautiful field of wildflowers in varying colors. Yeah, you can’t give me too much color!

With that said, every now and then, it’s good to step out of our box, and I’m really stepping out of mine with this monochromatic post.

Black and White landscape photography

Going through my archives, I specifically looked for photographs that already seemed somewhat monotone to see how they’d look without any color saturation.

After a little peaking and tweaking, I think I found some photographs that might actually look better in black and white than they do in color … maybe!

Texas Gulf Coast

Texas Gulf Coast

What do you think of the images posted? Do you enjoy Black & White photography? I still have mixed emotions about these photographs. I haven’t decided if I like them better in color or monochrome.

For this weeks photo theme, let’s share Black & White images. Feel free to share a link in the comments below so we can see your photographs or link back to this page on your post.

Black and white photography

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday, I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy 🤗 share and connect!

train tracks

Upcoming prompts – Reflections, Sunrise, Zoo …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)
Black & White Photography: The timeless art of monochrome in the post-digital age
Kindle E-reader – Includes Special Offers

For the Birds

I’ve discovered traveling by RV adds a whole new dimension to my overall travel experience, and it has exposed me to experiences well beyond my wildest dreams….

Brown Pelican

…. dreams I never imagined. I never thought that traveling to the Texas Gulf Coast would stir a passion within me … a joy I couldn’t have fathomed … the joy of photographing birds. Bird photography!

Roseate SpoonbillThe first time I glimpsed the stunning pink hue of the Roseate Spoonbill had me yelling at Al to stop the truck. We were driving along Fulton Beach Road along the Gulf Coast in Texas when a shimmer of pink in shallow pond water caught my attention. I had never seen such a beautiful, yet weird, bird in my entire life. That was just the beginning of my journey into photographing birds …. the beginning of my interest in birds as a photographic subject.

Turkey VultureIt was during that visit when I became fascinated with all large birds, including the beautiful Turkey Vulture, and yes, I said beautiful. Okay, I’ll admit beautiful wasn’t the first word that came to mind when I began photographing vultures. No, that took time, and over time, an admiration for this unique creature grew, and the more I observed them, the more my admiration grew.

Did you know turkey vultures are very social and don’t kill? Fascinating! I also felt a kindred spirit with the turkey vulture. If you’d like to know more about our similar tune carrying talents, click here.

bird photography

And then there were the cranes I discovered. I think we can all agree, they are magnificent and beautiful birds. I became obsessed with cranes, so much so, that Al and I made a special trip to the International Crane Foundation located in Baraboo, Wisconsin. I was officially a Craniac!

One of my more memorable RV excursions was camping amongst 20,000 roosting sandhill cranes. That was an unbelievable experience and just one of many reasons why I love RVing. It’s the only way to travel in my book. I’ve enjoyed adventures that can only be experienced by RVing. You can read my post about sleeping with sandhill cranes here.

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Yeah, I never thought I’d develop such a passion for photographing birds, but I find that they make such an interesting subject to photograph that it’s almost impossible for me to pass up the opportunity to make at least a few images …. or maybe a thousand or two when I encounter these entertaining characters.

Grebe

Wandering Wednesday theme – birds

For this weeks photo inspiration I’ve chosen the prompt birds. Do you enjoy taking photographs of birds?  We’d love to see your images. Leave a comment below with a link back to your blog or link back to this post in your blog. Share and connect!

Brown Pelicans

Wandering Wednesday – Ingrid’s Inspirations

Each Wednesday I post a different photo theme as a way for bloggers to share their love of photography and engage with other like minded bloggers. Perhaps this prompt will serve as a little inspiration to pick up the camera in search of a composition or a reason to go through your archives. Whether you shoot with your phone, a DSLR or something in-between, don’t be shy 🤗 share your photos!

Egyptian Duck

I wrote a post awhile back about the lessons I’ve learned regarding bird photography. If you’d like to see my failures and successes, click here to read that post.

hummingbird

Upcoming prompts – Black & White, Reflections, Sunrise …. get out and shoot or peruse those archives!

(affiliate links)

 Complete Guide to Nature Photography: Professional Techniques for Capturing Images of Nature and Wildlife
Audible Membership