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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Desert View - Day 20 - Rim Trail

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8:05 am - Thursday - November 30th - Grand Canyon - 32º F, humidity 58%, wind 1 mph out of the southwest.....partly cloudy with a forecast high of 60º F......another nice day, and another reprieve from winter. In fact, we have three consecutive days with temps still in the 60's!

So, what about Wednesday?  Our last exploration was the previous Friday when we hiked, or I should say, I hiked the first 3.2 miles of the Grandview Trail.  For this hike I let TLE chose the trail and she settled in pretty quickly on the Rim Trail which runs from Yaki Point to Hermit's Rest.....about 10 miles in all.  We decided to hike from Yaki Point along the GC to the fork in the trail which would take us down to the 'Marketplace' store where we would have a lunch and then hike back to Yaki Point.....about 6.9 miles round trip.

You cannot park in the parking lot at Yaki Point......it is reserved for shuttle and tour buses only.  You have to park out on SR-64 and walk about 1/2 mile into the trail head.  Yaki Point is also the trailhead for the Kaibab Trail which is the shortest route, at just over 7 miles, to the bottom of the GC.

Upon our arrival at Yaki we found a small herd of elk cows......this one was right off the trail by about 5 feet....she just went about her business ignoring us for the most part.....



......since we plan to hike the Kaibab Trail in the near future we decided to walk down the trail about 300 yards to get a feel for it.  This trail is also used by mule trains going to the bottom so it is much wider than Grandview by a factor of 4, or 5.  This trail is much more to TLE's liking to say the absolute least.

A lot of switchbacks to begin the trail



......the colors in the Canyon this day were a little muted due to the heavy overcast, but I thought they were breathtaking, nevertheless.


 Some info on the Kaibab Trail

.....when we do hike the Kaibab Trail we will aim for Skeleton Point, about 3 miles down the trail.  We won't go to the bottom our first time.

Then it was on to the Rim Trail.....we took an 'usie' to memorialize the start of our hike and then headed out the paved Rim Trail.....





.....as you walk west you do not realize you are gradually heading downhill the grade is so subtle, and that is probably because you are walking, most of the time, right along the edge of the GC and spending all your time enjoying the views.....



I think this is the only fencing we encountered on our walk along the Rim Trail

......we reached the Marketplace General Store just before 2 pm.  You will recall we have eaten in their Deli once before and enjoyed the pizza we ordered.  This time TLE ordered a Rueben, and I their French Dip......would I normally pay almost $9 for each of these sandwiches?  Probably not.....but at 50% off (employee discount) they are perfect, and delicious!

We were back on the trail by 2:45 pm walking uphill......according to the final report on my Strava program we had elevation gain on the way back.....about 3.45 miles in all.....of 488'!!!  We felt everyone of those 488' feet in our legs and lungs.....


....I guess it just goes to show you that there are not really any flat trails here at the GC.....even if they seem to have that appearance......beware!

We were back at the car by 3:40 and on our way back home shortly thereafter.....we stopped off at the Desert View store to pick up a few packages which had arrived at the P.O. Box over the past few days.  Amazon Prime stuff gets here pretty fast......must faster than when we were in Gardiner, MT.  We next stopped at the on site fuel station to fill up our tank at $3.18/gallon for premium gasoline.....not too bad when you only take on 9 gallons.  It's expensive, but handy.  No doubt gasoline is cheaper in Flagstaff, or Williams, but we spend 95% of our time inside the GC .  TLE put about 5 gallons in a week ago, so since we arrived 3 weeks ago we've gone through less than one tank of gas.....not bad.

Okay, it's time to get ready to drive into Flagstaff (Thursday morning now), so I'll bid you all adieu, get something to eat, get dressed and in the VW for another adventure......thanks for stopping by!

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Desert View - Day 20 - Into overtime.....

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8:08 am - Wednesday - November 29th - Grand Canyon - 36º F, humidity 48%, wind 2 mph out of the southeast.....partly cloudy with a forecast high of 57º F.  Today is our 'Saturday'.....time for some more hiking!

Tuesday was every bit as cold as the weather guessers predicted.....the forecast high was 49º, but I don't even think it got warm.  I had the 'open' shift so I was out the door around 7:15 am bundled up against the cold.....I noted there was frost, for the first time, on the VW windshield.

Now that the Thanksgiving long weekend has had its last gasp foot traffic into our store has really slowed down to a crawl......my total cash sales just topped $129 for my 5.5 hour shift.  Normally I would have been off work at 1 pm after counting down my drawer, but our boss, Dakota, asked if I would be willing to stay and help with some housekeeping, deep cleaning, dusting, etc.  I answered in the affirmative.

Around 1:30 pm, since I had worked 6 hours, I took a 30 minute lunch break, and then was back at cleaning by 2 pm.....I knocked off work at 4 pm once I had hit 8 hours and headed for home.....it was already getting quite cold again.  Thankfully I had worn my Yellowstone parka (with hood) to work.  It was nice to work with TLE for part of the afternoon as we are generally just like 'ships passing in the night'......she comes to work, I go home.....I go to work, she goes home.  

When we first arrived in Yellowstone and I was being trained as a cashier I worked my first week side by side with Tammy....I learned a lot of good cashiering habits from her, which I still employ to this day.  She left the Mammoth Hot Springs General Store for another job in West Yellowstone sometime after the 4th of July, and we have missed her.  I had heard she was also working here at Desert View at the Watchtower.  Everyday I have been walking by her vintage Airstream trailer, but hadn't seen her at home, but Tuesday as I walked by I saw her outside playing with her dog, so I yelled out "Tammy!".....of course I startled her, but I quickly walked over and we ended up spending the next 20 minutes talking about this and that, and getting current.  It was great to talk with her, and even though right now we don't have the same days off we are hoping TLE and I can hookup with her to do some hiking together later in the season.

As we stood there talking I could feel the chill in the air intensifying, and eventually I told Tammy, "I have to go, I'm really getting cold!".....we bid adieu and I intensified my walking pace to generate some heat for the last 1/8th mile home......as I entered the Newell about 4:30 I was so grateful it is so well insulated.  We don't leave the heaters on while we are gone during the, but it was still toasty warm inside.

TLE was home just after 5:30, and immediately set about preparing a crab salad dinner.....yummy!  Looking forward to a day off and to doing some more exploring!

Thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Desert View - Day 19 - "Everyone knows it's windy"

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5:43 am - Tuesday - November 28th - Grand Canyon - 25º F, humidity 69%, wind - CALM......clear.....stars are still out.  Forecast high for today is 49º F......winter is coming......it was 75 on Sunday.


The Association (1967) - Windy

The wind began blowing early morning Monday, and increased in intensity to the point where we were having gusts up to 35-40 mph.  The wind was supposed to abate by 6 pm, but it continued on into the evening  finally abating sometime after midnight.  Fortunately, that is only the second time in 20 days we have had wind in the 20+ mph range......in Gardiner we had it on a daily basis.

TLE had the 'open' shift Monday, and you would think I would take advantage of that and sleep in past 6 am, but you would be wrong....I was wide awake at 6 am, so I got up....oh well, it made for a longer morning before I had to go to work at Noon.  TLE was off driving to work by 7:20 am, and I settled in to read my book all the while feeling the wind buffet the coach, and whistle around the edges of the windows.

Around 10 am I went out to do my daily workout.....by the way I'm down to 198.....still trying to get down to 189.  Just getting below 200 again is a real breakthrough for me....I've been stuck at 201-202 for quite a while.

When I came out of the trailer following my workout I saw that my 'sail awning' had been pulled loose at one end where it was tied to a tree.....the branch broke under the force of the wind.  Anyway, I had to quickly disconnect it from the xmas lights, and stow it away until after the wind abated.


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Nothing else to report other than I was on my way walking to work in the wind by 11:45 am, and arrived there at the usual 5 minutes before Noon.  I had to walk down to the Trading Post to get the second lock box key (one of ours broke so we are temporarily sharing one key between the two stores......kind of a pain the butt, if you know what I mean).  I had my cash drawer counted in by 12:10 pm, and in my register shortly thereafter.  The new work schedule which started Monday now has the morning shift ('open')working the same number of hours as the afternoon shift ('close')....5.5 hours, so now TLE and I have a 60 minute overlap before she goes home, and we are back to having the same two 'weekend' days, Wednesday and Thursday, each week now, and that is how it should remain the rest of the winter according to our manager, Dakota.

Since we are now past the Thanksgiving weekend business has once again slowed, and I did my customary $300+ in cash sales.....just busy enough to help time pass.  I was home by 5:45 after being buffeted by the winds all the way home.  I had barely eased into my recliner when TLE was there with my drink order.....what a woman!

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Thanks for stopping by!


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Monday, November 27, 2017

Desert View - Day 18 - Decorative lighting OCD....

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5:56 am - Monday - November 27th - Grand Canyon - 38º F, humidity 35%, wind 3 mph out of the south by southwest.....partly cloudy (when the sun comes up).....forecast high for today is 63º F with an overnight low of 18º F......here comes the cold!

Sunday was a day off work for me, not so much for TLE......she had the 'close' shift and I had no shift.......👍  I really had no big aspirations for my free day, my legs were still sore from the Grandview Grind on Friday, so I thought I would take it easy, but if you know me that is not really possible.  There is always something which needs to be done......or should be done.....or, well, something to satisfy my need to overdo something I thought was already done.....😁  Plus, somewhere in the back of my mind I needed to dust off my Intense 5.5 MTB and do a little local exploring.....there are a number of fireroads which are begging to be surveyed.

It was such a nice day that I had to be outside doing something, right?  Initially I thought I would put up one of our sail awnings to add a little extra shade to our patio area......we really can't leave the patio awning deployed as the wind, much like Gardiner, MT, is not predictable.  Of course, once the sail awning was up I had to attach some Xmas lights to spice it up just a little.......


.......it just kept evolving over the course of several hours.....I think I need to find a '12 step program'.......sigh.

By mid afternoon I finally said to myself, 'enough is enough', and moved on to my next project for the day.....take a mountain bike ride, and work the bugs out of the shifting issues my Intense 5.5 has developed from lack of consistent use.  The front derailleur seemed to be frozen, and I was unable to get it to shift between the front three sprockets.  The same could be said for the rear derailleur, so a ride was in order to see what the issues were.  Before I rode I did take time to lube all the pivots on both derailleurs, and added some air to my rear shock absorber.  On my initial short ride I rode the foot path trail over to the General Store and back, made a few adjustments and then headed down the fire road which begins just around the corner from where our Newell is parked.

The initial section of road, about 1/4 mile, is nicely graded until you pass the Desert View sewage treatment plant, then it begins to deteriorate, but that is what mountain bikes are for, right?  Finally, about a mile down the fire road.....I say 'down' because as soon as you turn on to this road it begins to descend......I  came to an abrupt stop.....I had basically been standing on the pedals for the entire mile until just before a series of switchbacks accelerates the descent.  By this time the road had become pretty rough and I knew it was going to be difficult to ride back up what I had just coasted down, so I got off my bike and took a few pictures of the amazingly clear view......


 Hi clearance vehicles only


......you can just see the canyon in the distance through which the Little Colorado River flows.....then I added a video of the area for perspective.....


.....all the way down to this point I could tell the adjustments I had made, plus the lube I had applied had made absolutely no difference, so I headed back to the trailer where I spent the next hour, or so working on the problem.  I discovered that the rear derailleur was totally out of adjustment, and was finally able to get it to shift through all 9 sprockets both directions.  Then I turned my focus to the front derailleur.  Ultimately I detached the cable that connects the thumb shifter to the front derailleur and pulled off all the cable housing.  I then discovered the problem was a bad section of cable housing, so I removed it, and replaced it with some newer housing, reconnected everything, and voilà.....it worked properly once again!  Just as I was buttoning up my project I heard the VW pull into the site next to our site....TLE was home from her 'close' shift.....and that was my day.  I put everything away, closed up the trailer and joined TLE inside for the evening.

Thanks for stopping by!

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Sunday, November 26, 2017

Desert View - Day 17 - Feels like home

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8:29 am - Sunday - November 26th - Grand Canyon - 47º F, humidity 28%, wind 2 mph out of the south.....partly cloudy skies with a forecast high of 75º F.....that is not a misprint......75!  Within a week we have forecasts showing chances of snow......more on that later.

I look at the title for today's blog and see that Saturday was just day 17 here at Desert View Watchtower.....it seems longer.....in a good way.  We have really settled into our jobs, into our site, and are getting to know our way around the GC.  I guess it makes sense that Desert View is feeling like home so quickly, because this National Park is a much smaller geographical area than our last National Park (Yellowstone).

Saturday was a work day for me (12 pm to 5:30 pm), and a day off for TLE.  I began my day writing my blog, and the watching the first half of the Ohio State vs. Michigan NCAA football game in Ann Arbor......as it turned out I saw the best part of the game....it was tied at 14 apiece, and it looked like either team could win, but the second half was all Ohio State who won handily 31-20.  There were a few upsets......#1 Alabama (undefeated) lost big to Auburn, and #2 Miami (also undefeated) lost to unranked Pittsburgh, so things are totally up in the air now as to whom will be in the 4 team playoffs when the dust settles.

At any rate I reported to work at 11:55 am, clocked in, counted in my drawer, and was on station relieving our floor manager, Ian, by 12:10 pm.  At that time things had been very slow according to Ian, but they were about to get crazy.  By 12:30 I had a steady stream of customers passing through my check stand, and that is the way it continued all afternoon.  I had my biggest sales day taking in almost $1,100 in cash with total sales hitting just under $4,000 for the 5 hour period ending at 5 pm.  I never really had a chance to do any merchandising.

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I was home by 5:40 pm, but on my way home (I drove the VW on this day) I saw that the setting sun was hitting the cliffs to our east, so I stopped and snapped a few pictures......


This is one of those rare pictures that seems to really capture what I was seeing.....breathtaking!


 Sun setting behind the Watchtower

......TLE greeted me at the door with a cocktail, I quickly changed into more comfortable clothes, and then began an evening of watching more college football.....the main game I watched was Notre Dame vs. Stanford (played in Palo Alto, CA).  It was, initially, a close game, but in the 3rd quarter #21 Stanford lowered the boom on #8 Notre Dame, pulling away and winning 38-20.

I'm attaching screenshots of the forecast for the next 14 days here at the GC....in the first screenshot you can see the definite cooling trend through next Saturday......


.....then beginning Sunday it really begins to get serious......temps ranging from 40º F down to 38º F, with overnight lows getting as low at 10º F, and a possibility of snow by December 5th, a week from this Tuesday......


....but that is a ways off.....I'll think about that tomorrow.....thanks for stopping by!


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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Desert View - Day 16 - Grandview grinder!

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8:01 am - Saturday - November 25th - 32º F, 49% humidity, wind 2 mph out of the south by southeast......clear blue skies with a forecast high of 67º F today....perfect weather!

During this current work week (Monday to Sunday) TLE and I have only one common day off, Friday, so we decided to do our first hike since arriving here at the GC*.  On our initial site seeing foray two weeks ago we identified a trail that we would like to use as our inaugural hike, the Grandview Trail, whose initial destination, just 3.2 miles away, is Horseshoe Mesa.  It seemed like a moderate hike with which to begin our Grand Canyon hiking quest.  The sign indicates the trail is not well maintained, and if that was all we could have lived with that, or I should say TLE could have lived with that......we began our hike from the Grandview Vista parking lot about 10:15 am.......


 Everyone is still smiling

......the initial 500 yards of the trail were poorly maintained as the sign warned, but they were also treacherously steep, and mind numbingly narrow.  Within minutes of beginning our hike I heard TLE's voice behind me saying "I can't do this.....".....I've heard this before, but I have always been able to convince her to continue on a little longer to see if things improve enough for her to continue.  As I turned around to make my case for continuing I could tell by the look in her eyes I would be wasting my breath.  She was frozen in place like a statue and no amount of cajoling, encouraging, begging would move her one millimeter further along the trail.

I suggested I walk a few hundred feet further along the trail to see if things did, indeed, improve, and then come back to see if a positive report would help her move forward.  The trail did improve in width, and gradually became less treacherous, but upon my return she had made up her mind that her hiking day was finished.  I decided to give her the car keys so she could go home, and told her I would continue on the hike.....at this time it was 10:30 am, and I told her that if she did not hear from me by 3:30 pm (cell service can be tricky) to just drive back to pick me up......I was sure I could do the 6.4 mile roundtrip in less than 5 hours.

So we said our I love you's and parted ways.....TLE back up the trail, and me ever downward.  Within minutes the trail improved enough that I felt I could hike it without being petrified, so I continued.  The trail looked like this in places with steps formed of large flat rocks gave it the appearance of a stairway........


......at other junctures it looked like this.....hard to even tell where the trail is, right?


There were a few sections like the one below where the tread was delightful, and I was able to cruise along at 3 mph.......


......but most of the trail looked like this.......


......and there was at least a mile of switchbacks that looks liked this........


......a cobbled pathway that averaged about 10% decline most of the time, and up to 15% at others......of course if you go down it you must go up again, if you wish to live out the week.

I would periodically stop to take in the amazing views......you cannot enjoy the view while hiking, or you will most certainly perish.....this trail requires your constant, vigilant attention.  There are perhaps a dozen spots where the consequences of a false step would involve a plunge of a thousand feet, or more.

Going down I was able to average a little over 1.5 mph, so I would stop periodically to take pictures, which really do not do the views justice........




Red arrow indicates Horseshoe Mesa 3.2 miles by trail....much shorter 'as the crow flies'


Wait, what?

......by 12:20 pm I had made it to my turn around point......in each of these pictures (above and below) you see signs indicating not to go that direction as there is radiation remaining from old uranium mines in the area....actually, quite a bit of uranium was mined not far from these signs in the mid part of the 20th century.....

 There it is again....


 Proof I made it

 Remains of an old prospector house.....dry stacked rock


......at the point I made it to the second 'radiation' sign I had traveled just over 3 miles, and I decided to continue on to the camping area, as well as the pit toilet area just to check them out for future reference.

I took the following video to memorialize my arrival at Horseshoe Mesa, but it came out sideways for some reason, and I am not able to 'right' it, but you'll get the idea......just tilt your head to the right a little......

Horseshoe Mesa up close and personal

......the second one came out correctly, and continues my thoughts from the first......



 .....I took about a 10 minute break eating a Power Bar before I began the 3.2 mile trek back to the Grandview Vista Parking lot.....I knew it would take me more than the two hours it took to descend to that point, but it was only 12:30 pm which gave me 3 hours to make the return trip, so I set off at a steady pace.  Let's be clear.....there are really very flew flat spots in this trail, and you are either going down 99% of the time, or you, in my present situation, are going UP 99% of the time.  The initial grade from my turn around point is about 5-6%, but within 1/2 mile it increases to 8%, then stays over 10% the rest of the way.....it is a grinder.

I covered the first 1.9 miles in about an hour, but then my pace slowed considerably as it took me another 80 minutes to cover the remaining 1.3 miles.....I found myself stopping every 100 yards to slow my breathing and heart rate a little.  I reached the Grandview Vista point around 2:45 pm, gave TLE a call to get her on her way to pick me up, then took a selfie to memorialize how I felt......


.....I was gassed to say the least......my t-shirt, outer shirt, and pants were soaked with perspiration.  I sat down for about 5 minutes to catch my breath.....as I sat there I began to realize the parking lot was gridlocked with people trying to get a parking space late in the day......I thought it would be unfortunate for TLE to get there to pick me up and then have to wait 30 minutes just to exit the parking lot, so I decided to walk the .7 miles back out to SR-64 to meet her there and save her from the experience of the gridlocked parking lot.

I arrived at the intersection just after 3 pm, and she arrived 2 minutes later.....we were back home in under 25 minutes, and I was in in the shower within minutes taking a much deserved long, hot 30 minute soak.  By the time I emerged it was close to 4 pm, and within a couple of minutes of that I was ensconced in my recliner getting some weight off my sore feet and legs.

In retrospect, this was not a trail for TLE.....while I know she could have made it down to Horseshoe Mesa, it probably would have taken 4 hours for her to make the hike out, and she would not have been happy with me one little bit.  

So, here are the Strava results of my first hike into the bowels of the GC*.......



.......moving time (time not stopped catching my breath) 3 hours, 32 minutes and 6 seconds,including the walk out to SR-64.....I averaged 29 minutes and 48 seconds per mile.....over 2 mph for the entire hike....that surprised me.  I burned some 1,277 calories, and the vertical elevation gain was 2,856' over 3.2 miles.....that is just under 1,000' per mile descending and then ascending.  In all I covered 7.1 miles because I hiked out to SR-64 to meet TLE.  I had weighed myself that morning, and then again before I took my shower.....I lost over 3 pounds doing that hike!


I spent the evening watching several NCAA football games, took an hour nap, and was in bed by 10:30 pm......quite a day for the old guy.

Thanks for stopping by!

* GC = Grand Canyon


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Friday, November 24, 2017

Desert View - Day 16 - Happy Thanksgiving!

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7:47 am - Friday -  November 24th - Grand Canyon - 35º F, humidity 45%, wind 1 mph out of the southeast.....clear blue skies today with a forecast high of 67º F.

First of all a big Happy Thanksgiving to all my blogosphere friends and family.  This was the first Thanksgiving in several years that we have not been in SoCal with our kids and grandkids for this special day of Thanksgiving.

Both TLE and I had abbreviated work shifts on Thanksgiving day......the DNC General Stores are open 365 days per year.  My shift began at 7:30 am, and ended at 11 am while TLE's shift ran from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm.  As I expected, business was quite slow until after I left at 11 am.  I had about $20 in cash sales for the 3.5 hours I worked......TLE reported that she was busier with over $200 in cash sales.....mostly food items.

I was home after a quick walk by 11:15, and set about getting ready for my typical Thanksgiving Day.......NFL football....I decided to put my season long boycott of the NFL on hold for one day.  For the first time in ages I had the outdoor TV out of the through storage compartment and sitting atop our Norcold 12 volt refer.  Next I deployed the patio awning for the first time since mid July in Gardiner, MT to help keep the glare off the TV.  I retrieved a cold one from the refer and then ensconced myself in front of the TV for the rest of the morning and afternoon.  I know from looking at the weather forecasts that winter like conditions will return to the Grand Canyon by Wednesday, so sitting outside with the sun on my back seemed like the thing to do.....


.......the first game of the day between the Vikings and Lions was a close game right down to the very end.  The second game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Dallas Cowboys was close for a while, but became a blowout towards the end with the Chargers winning handily.  The final game between the Giants and Redskins was a low scoring affair with the hapless Giants finally succumbing to the Redskins as time ran out.  I have to say that as much as I enjoyed watching the three NFL games, it is just not the same anymore.  The season long protests of our National Anthem have taken their toll, and I just don't find the enjoyment I once did in spending hours in front of the TV from late August through the first of February watching NFL football.  I think this one day suspension of my boycott has more firmly convinced me to just let it go.  It will never be the same again for me.....if for no other reason, watching those games brought final clarity to my thinking about the NFL.

TLE was home a little after 2:30 pm, and within minutes she had joined me on the patio with hors d'oeuvres and a couple glasses of white wine.......


around 3:15 we spent about 10 minutes 'Facetiming' with our kids who had gathered at the SoCal home of my son Tim and his new bride, Laila, and then around 3:30 pm TLE excused herself to go inside to do the final preparations for our Thanksgiving dinner......

Now we just need food.....😊

.....by 4:15 we were ready to sit down to a tiny home Thanksgiving celebration......


......TLE has always amazed me with what she is able to food wise in such a tiny kitchen, and this Thanksgiving was no exception.  Unfortunately my weak attempt at an 'usie' was undone by the severe back light, but you get the idea....we had creamed broccoli, sweet potatoes, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and a chicken/stuffing casserole.  It was all wonderful!  For dessert we had a pumpkin pie with whipped cream along with a shot of Tillamore Dew Irish Whiskey.  

Well, all I can say this morning (Friday) is that I am extremely thankful for the year just past full of so many wonderful memories, new friends, and great adventures with The Lovely Elaine.....she makes my life worth living.  I am thankful that all my children are happy, are raising wonderful families, are establishing themselves in wonderful, fulfilling careers.....their lives are the evidence of a life well lived by TLE and myself.....their happiness and success is our reward for all those years of hard work raising them, and providing a stable home life for them so they could flourish and grow into the amazing adults they are today.

Thanks for stopping by!

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