There’s no place like home

When you are on vacation, do you look forward to returning home — or do you want vacation to last longer?

Merry Christmas from the Christmas Crew

Christmas Crew in Santa Barbara
This photo is from last year’s Christmas in Santa Barbara.

This afternoon we check into our Palm Springs VRBO to celebrate Christmas with our two kids and our son’s girlfriend’s family. Also, my dad who is turning 91 in a few weeks lives close by. We’re going to be a smaller group this year due to two sisters in Europe and the mother not well enough to make the trip from the Bay Area. One daughter is staying home with her. All in all, with those not coming, we’re down five people. So our party of 12 is now seven.

Merry Christmas!

Who are you spending Christmas or Hanukkah with this year?

On the Road Again

We planned two road trips for this summer. One to Park City, Utah and the other to a tiny town on the California coast called Summerland. I wrote about the Park City trip HERE. On our way to Summerland, we stopped to visit my 90-year-old dad at the halfway point. Then we headed to a Vrbo near the beach.

Beach house near Santa Barbara
We’ll be returning to this beach cottage for the seventh summer.

It’s tough to decide if it’s best to drive straight through to our final destination — or stop along the way. The way we drove it was two days of driving four and a half hours each day.

I think if it wasn’t for my dad living four and a half hours along the way, we wouldn’t stop but try to push through.

An hour from our destination, we stopped in Filmore at the Filmore Historical Museum where they have the Hinckley House — a home that was originally owned by my husband’s relatives. One was an artist, Lawrence Hinckley, that I wrote about HERE.

I’ll share more about the museum trip on another day complete with photos.

Right now we’re waiting for the Vrbo previous renters to leave and the house to be cleaned. That could be a whole other story — since they are hours late leaving. What if they don’t leave? I’ve heard of such things.

When you take a road trip, do you like to make the trip in one day? Or do you like to take your time along the journey? Is it about the journey or the destination?

Not again! Wild weather in July

We drove eight hours on Saturday to get the bulk of driving done after our anniversary trip in Park City, Utah. Our goal was the Little America hotel in Flagstaff, AZ. I love the Little America. It was our home away from home in Salt Lake City while my daughter was at the University of Utah.

As I drove across Navajo land to Flagstaff, I noticed dark gray clouds building over Flagstaff. I pulled over and let my husband take over. After 35 years in the desert, I freak out driving through a storm — and I grew up near Seattle!

A few miles from the hotel, we witnessed huge lightning strikes, thunder and a downpour so intense we lost most of our visibility.

“Welcome to Flagstaff in July!” I told my husband. We both laughed and drove slowly to the hotel with our windshield wipers on blast.

Last July we spent our anniversary in Flagstaff. This is what I wrote:

Hail storm on the way to Flagstaff, July 2021 before we lost all visibility.

Friday we left for a two-hour drive to celebrate our anniversary in the cool mountain town of Flagstaff, Ariz. We were looking forward to getting out of the heat, exploring a new area, hiking, dining, and staying at our favorite hotel brand, Little America.

Halfway to Flagstaff, we were entranced with big dark clouds that had long threads of rain hanging from them. Then there was a thunderclap and it started to rain. The rain turned into hail within minutes. It sounded like our car was being hit by golf balls. I was scared out of my mind.

My husband asked me to turn on the hazard flashers. My hands shook so badly I couldn’t do it. I began praying the Hail Mary!

We saw cars pull over on the right shoulder of the two-lane highway. But there was a cliff on that side and the visibility was getting awful. We were in the left lane where there wasn’t room to pull over, just a ditch.

Visibility went to zero. My husband drove at one mile per hour. He said he didn’t want to stop in case someone barreled into us. He followed a foot behind a semi — the tail lights the only thing we could see.

Looking back on that drive in July 2021:

We didn’t know — until we got to the hotel — that our car was dented from the front to the back bumpers and everything in between. It looked like someone took a hammer to it. The car went into the shop for two months while we waited for the chrome trim to be delivered amidst supply chain issues. The insurance company was so inundated with claims from that storm that they flew in insurance adjusters from Texas and Oklahoma.

Our friends who live in nearby Prescott said they found four dead deer in their yard killed by hail. They also had tens of thousands of dollars of damage to their home.

What we saw on the news yesterday before we headed home:

Video of flash flooding in Flagstaff.

Good news!

In the end, we arrived home safely from our 2021 and 2022 anniversary trips. I’m up to do it again next year!

What type of storms have you experienced that seemed wilder than normal? Did everyone stay safe?

Finding the Pharisee

Pathway to Main Street, Park City.
The one-mile path to Main Street in Park City from our airbnb.

One of the highlights of visiting Utah is spending time with my husband’s best friend from fifth grade through their senior year of high school. Did they ever stop being best friends? It doesn’t seem like it when we reunite.

My husband’s friend Scott and his wife Sara started CenterPoint Church in Orem, UT which we attended Sunday. Afterward, we spent hours together alternating huge laughs and ruminating about our country’s problems.

In Scott’s sermons he teaches history, the Bible — and he has a talent to bring the Word alive and make it relevant today.

I know I’m not doing the sermon justice, but here are a few things I’m thinking about days later:

The Pharisees were a sect of ancient Jews who modern Christians view as hypocrites. They were judgmental of Jesus because he spent time with sinners and tax collectors.

Jesus did not operate or think like human beings. He did not care what people thought of him.

We are all sinners and we worry about what other people think of us. Like the Pharisees, we want to present a view to the world that hides our shortcomings and sins — and we can be judgmental of others.

We need to find the Pharisee in the mirror. We get stuck where we are in life because we fear looking deep inside ourselves.

We are created with a hole inside our hearts. Many try to fill that hole with material things, alcohol, drugs, etc. This may satisfy us but it’s temporary. We need to fill the hole with love and The Spirit to be free.

Quotes from the sermon:

“Jesus loves us where we are, but he loves us too much to leave us there.”

“Pride is not thinking too much of yourself. It is thinking about yourself too much.”

If you’re interested in listening to the sermon for yourself and not relying on my bullet points here is a LINK. The sermon starts at 26:12.

During a morning walk we were accompanied by a little buddy.

What friends from your childhood can you get together with after years after not seeing each other and feel like no time has passed?

What are your thoughts about moving forward in life by not worrying about what other people think?

Too much stuff

This is stuff I’m lining up for my husband to pack in the car. Missing in the photo are our two suitcases, mesh swim bags, laptop computers and all my husband’s work monitors and computers.

Just a bit of the stuff we’re taking on vacation. I miss the days when we first got married. We’d throw our sleeping bags in the car and take off.

Now we bring half the kitchen with us. That includes our small Keurig because hubby drinks decaf and I like caf. A pot of coffee doesn’t work for us and we both like just one cup each.

One of the biggest things taking up space is vitamins. We are hefty consumers of anything that promises a return to youth and the end to pain.

I also take fruit, a cooler full of condiments, frozen steak and chicken to cook in the airbnb — and sandwiches for the road. Cheese and crackers and a bottle of wine. I have to take a jug or two of water. We are traveling through the desert.

Then there’s the swim gear, hiking sticks, hiking boots, hats, sunscreen etc.

My husband likes his own pillows. So why not take four?

The computer is packed, so I’m trying to write this on my phone.

When you travel do you pack light or full on Clampetts like us?

Taking a well-deserved break from crisis

IMG_6079We escaped the heat and the change of surroundings had a healing effect. I was getting riddled with anxiety sitting at home in 120 degrees with just my husband and zero outside socialization. Every day seemed the same and I didn’t know what month we were in, let alone if it was a weekend or a weekday. Way before COVID-19 hit the world, we planned a trip and booked an Airbnb in Park City, UT. We stayed there last summer, too, and I loved the fresh air, outdoor activities like hiking and how good I felt. It’s a great escape from the desert summer.

A week before our trip, the homeowner of the Airbnb cancelled our trip! He was taking this summer to remodel due to few rentals. At first I was devastated and then thought it might be for the best. Maybe it wasn’t the time to leave our home in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. But, in the end I looked for another place and found something that would fit our needs. I needed a quiet private place for my husband to work, space for me to write and an extra bedroom for my daughter and any other family members who might join us.

As a person who literally hates to drive, strangely this time I was looking forward to a road trip. It’s a 10 1/2 hour drive, but easy with very little traffic and great views. The only rough spot is driving through Las Vegas, but this year there wasn’t the usual bumper to bumper traffic. I packed a cooler with sandwiches for the drive and off we went.

I love Park City. It was exactly the break I needed. At an altitude of 7,000 feet, it took us a few days to acclimatize. Everyday we hiked the trails on the ski slopes and walked to Main Street along the stream and forested path. I had a pool a few steps away where I swam laps. And we adventured up the chair lifts in Deer Valley. Of course, it wasn’t until the second to last day that we ventured in the hot tub in our courtyard. Wow! That would have been something to try out after the mountain hikes!

I can’t wait to go back next summer and do more exploring. I’m so thankful for the mental and physical break this vacation gave me. It was needed more than ever this year.

 

Chair lift ride in Deer Valley, UT