Colorado Saturday 10 Jun 2017

Packing day. But first, Jenni, Derek, Teagan and Eleanor went to the Garden of the Gods for some last-minute recreation and gift-buying. Richard and Linda worked on packing at the house.

When the Garden of the Gods group returned, it was a real packing frenzy interrupted occasionally with dessert breaks to finish up Teagan’s celebratory Incline mousse cake from the night before.

The full group convened on the upper deck for attempts at a family picture with a backdrop of the Front Range/Pikes Peak around 12:15pm. The harsh noon Colorado sun with fill-flash produced mixed results.

Teagan and Richard took off to visit the Air Force Academy while the rest finished packing. Teagan and Richard watched the 21-minute movie about a year in the life of a cadet at the Visitor Center before proceeding to the Cadet Chapel. The Chapel is essentially an A-frame building festooned with number of tetrahedra (as explained in the Visitor Center) to produce an amazing architectural wonder.

The full group reconvened at Bagel Deli in Denver to relive the excellent visit from last Saturday. Matza ball soups, chicken noodle soups, latkes, knishes, kishkes, and breakfast burgers were flying.

After the meal, everyone headed to the airport. Derek, Jenni, Teagan and Eleanor were dropped off at the airport while Linda and Richard returned the rental cars. The Lexington group had a flight 15 minutes earlier than the Nashville group, so they proceeded to TSA first. They hit a few snags and ended up barely making their flight. Things went more smoothly for the Nashville group, but we all returned home safely.

Trip to Grand Cayman May 2014

Here is a very brief summary of our trip to Grand Cayman in May 2014.

  • Saturday, May 10
    Derek and Jenni flew out of Lexington while Linda, Teagan, and Richard flew out of Nashville.  We met in Charlotte, NC for our connecting flight.  We flew together to Grand Cayman and arrived around 11:30 am.  We rented a van from Hertz and headed to The Anchorage where we had a 3-bedroom condo.  We unpacked, played on the beach, and made a quick grocery trip.  Derek, Jenni and Teagan snorkeled in front of the condo, the water was a little stirred up.  Later Linda went out and saw a 18 inch turtle.
  • Sunday, May 11
    We walked from the condo to Cemetery Beach in the morning and snorkeled.  That afternoon, Teagan, Jenni, and Linda floated/snorkeled in front of the condo while Derek and Richard played beach frisbee.
  • Monday, May 12
    Since we didn’t all get to snorkel yesterday, we did Cemetery Beach again this morning.  Afterward, we headed to George Town and ate lunch at Paradise Bar and Grill.  Then Teagan and Linda used the ladder at Paradise to snorkel out to Eden Rock.  A little later, Derek and Jenni entered to snorkel along the rocky shore.  Richard didn’t feel like getting in the water, so I just explored the shore.  Everyone exited using the ladder at Eden Rock Dive Shop.  Then we headed back to the condo.
  • Tuesday, May 13
    In the morning, Teagan, Jenni, and Derek worked on building a sand castle.  Afterwards, we played in and out of the water throwing the frisbee.  Then Derek, Jenni and Teagan played monkey-in-the-middle with a beach ball.  Linda snorkeled in front of the condo.  Around mid-afternoon we all headed to Rum Point.  Along the way, we stopped at a few places in Bodden Town, then Davinoff’s Concrete Sculpture garden on the Queen’s Highway.  When we arrived at Rum Point, the food options had shut down, but the gift shop and the bar were still open.  After exploring Rum Point and taking pictures, we stopped at Over the Edge Cafe on the North Side to eat supper at sunset.
  • Wednesday, May 14
    In the morning, we all snorkeled in front of the condo.  Derek found a flounder, Linda found a Lionfish, and we all saw lots of the usual critters in the clear water.  Then we took Derek to the airport so he could return to work the next day.  On the way back from the airport, Linda, Jenni, and Teagan went shopping in George Town while Richard held down a barstool in Paradise Bar.  After we returned to the condo, Linda walked along the beach toward Governor’s Beach and went snorkeling.  She saw lots of cool stuff including a school of squid and a king helmet.
  • Thursday, May 15
    Linda, Teagan, Jenni and Richard headed to Smith’s Cove to snorkel there.  Unfortunately, the surf was not cooperating and had the water churned up.  The visibility was not good.  After unsuccessfully trying to find an interesting area, we gave up and headed to Governor’s Beach to check out the reef there.  The water was very clear, similar to yesterday’s snorkel in front of the condo.  After lunch at the condo, Teagan and Richard were dropped off at the airport.  We went back so Teagan could finish moving out of her Murfreesboro apartment and get moved into her Jackson house for her internship.  Thursday evening Jenni checked out Calico Jack’s while Linda investigated dismal travel options in the likely event of Richard and Teagan missing their Miami connection due to the late arrival of their first flight.  Fortunately they managed the near impossible and made their Nashville connection.
  • Friday, May 16
    Jenni and Linda snorkeled from 8:15 to 10:30 in front of the condo. Jenni spotted a sting ray and a turtle which looked a lot like the one Linda saw on Saturday.  The wind and sea was calm but there was a bit of scum in the water so the visibility was not perfect.  Jenni got dropped off at the airport noonish, then Linda did the final packing, turned the van into Hertz and had “fun” with checked bags in Miami with a short layover.———————————————————–

    This trip no morays or sharks were spotted and the lobster were very scarce but the tropicals were in full force and the squid outdid themselves on Weds evening.

10 July 2012 – Utah

Today is 4WD day, at least for us.  I went to Canyonland Jeep Rentals at 7:30am to pick up our Jeep-for-the-day.  It was a 2-door, red, Wrangler Sport with a lift kit and oversized tires.  I went back to the motel get pick up Teagan, who had been getting things ready while I got the Jeep.

We headed about 10 miles north on Hwy 191 until we came to Gemini Bridges Road.  After a couple of left turns, we were headed on a steep climb.  We passed up a few possible side trips since we were a little concerned about the time and headed straight for Gemini Bridges.  We parked at the trailhead and took the short walk to the bridges.  The twins are located side-by-side only a few feet apart.  There were many steep drops down into the anyone below.  After we explored the area, and discussed the differences between an arch and a bridge, we continued on the Hwy 313, which took us to the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands NP.

Shortly after entering, we turned left on to the Shafer 4WD Trail entrance.  We soon arrived at the switchbacks that guide vehicles on a 12oo-foot descent to the White Rim.  Once at the bottom, we left the Shafer Trail and followed the White Rim Trail.  We stopped at the Gooseneck Overlook and took the 0.4-mile hike to a bluff overlooking the Colorado River.  The view at the overlook is from the south of the gooseneck.  We returned to the Jeep and proceeded to Musselman Arch.  We ate the lunch that we had brought in the car since there was no shade in sight.

After our lunch, we headed to the arch and took several pictures.  The arch was pretty popular while we were there.  We headed back toward the Shafer Trail making only one stop at another Colorado River overlook.

Along the way we encountered a movie set for The Lone Ranger.  It was located near Thelma and Louise Point (so named because of the closing scene of that movie).  There was a set of railroad tracks that had been placed there along with several 4-wheel wagons.  Johny Depp was nowhere to be seen.

We continued along the Shafer Trail, which at some point becomes known as the Potash Trail, until we got to the Texas Gulf potash ponds.   From there we picked up Scenic Byway 279 to follow back to Hwy 191 (main highway through Moab).  The scenery along 279 was very nice, although we had to overlook the power lines and railroad tracks.  The deep canyon cut by the Colorado River, together with the afternoon sunlight, made for a very nice view.

On the way back to turn the Jeep in, we stopped at a Gelato shop for some ice cream.  Then is was time to fill the Jeep and return it.

We came back to the motel after a long hot day in the sun getting bounced around in the Jeep by the 4WD trails. I did some laundry and Teagan continued planning the Salt Lake City portion of our trip.

We ate supper at Miguel’s Baja Grill.  The food was pretty good.  I got poblano enchiladas and Teagan got portabello fajitas.

We returned to the motel to get ready for our early morning canyoneering trip.

9 July 2012 – Utah

We got up at 7am to get ready for our Fiery Furnace ranger-led hike at 9am.  We stopped off briefly at Park Avenue in Arches NP for a few pictures in the morning light and continued on to the Fiery Furnace Trailhead.  We got there just in time to get our gear ready, apply sunscreen, and begin the hike.

The hike was led by park ranger Dick Toll.  He began by explaining a few common sense rules.  There were about 25 in the group.

We descended from the parking lot into the bottom of the Fiery Furnace area.  After we hiked a short distance, the ranger would usually stop and spend a few minutes talking about the features we were seeing, and then proceed.  We spent the first part of the hike going along washes between the fins.  Later we got to higher levels.  We saw several arches, hiked through narrow joints, and did some basic scrambling.

The hike was very enjoyable, but not at all strenuous.  The scrambling was fun.  The places we got to see in the Fiery Furnace were really neat.  My favorite place was a large chamber with Surprise Arch along the top.

We headed back to Moab after the hike.  After a quick look at TripAdvisor, we decided to try Wake&Bake Cafe for lunch.  Their menu was a bit eclectic, including Mediterranean, Asian and American.  I got a turkey panini and Teagan got a Miso Tofu wrap.  Both were excellent.  This is a quality restaurant that really cares about their food.

After lunch, we stopped at the Moab Information Center for information about 4WD trails we could take tomorrow.  The collections of books in the center was very interesting. They had all sorts of nice books about the Moab area.

Next, we visited several gift shops on Main Street.  Teagan was looking for shot glasses.  Afterward, we headed back to the motel to plan the next day.

At 6:20pm, we headed toward the Delicate Arch Trailhead in Arches to catch the sunset.  Its one of those must do things in Arches.  The hike to Delicate Arch in only 1.5 miles, but there is quite a climb to get there.  The last mile is uphill the whole way, increasing altitude about 500 feet.

Once there, we saw about 100 people gathered.  We walked around looking for a good angle.  A little later Teagan headed to the arch so I could take pictures of her.  The arch was very nice in the setting sunlight.

We hiked back to the car, downhill, and drove to the City Market in Moab to get supplies for our Jeep ride tomorrow and to pick up supper.

8 July 2012 – Utah

We got up at 7am and grabbed some breakfast in the motel lobby.  We left a little after 8am to head to the Needles District of Canyonlands NP.  Our plan was to begin the Chesler Park Loop Trail, get to the viewpoint of the park after 2.9 miles, and then decide whether to return for an out-and-back hike, or to continue and add the Chesler Park Loop for an additional 6 miles.  A few of the park rangers, plus our books, highly recommended this hike as the quintessential Needles hike.

We checked in with the Vistor’s Center when we arrived in the park at 10:30.  Things are really slow in Needles and they don’t staff the park entrance.  You have to go to the Vistor’s Center to register.

The people in the Vistor’s Center weren’t particularly helpful about trail information, so we just picked up our windshield receipt and moved on to Elephant Hill Trailhead to begin our hike.

We left the car a little before 11am.  We passed 2 park rangers soon into the hike and talked with them briefly.  Before long, we were viewing needles in pretty good light for pictures.  After that, the trail dropped down into Elephant Canyon.  The climb out of the canyon provided the toughest part of the hike.

We soon came to the viewpoint for Chesler Park.  The park can be seen from there between the “guardians” (white and rust colored massive sandstone spires that tower toward the sky).  To the north, we looked back toward the needles and also saw the mushroom shaped sandstone formations we had passed earlier.

We were feeling good, so we decided to start the loop.  We went left.  We took a side trail at marker CP1 after half a mile to take a break in some shade and eat an energy bar.  We continued around the loop from there.  The park looks like a desert meadow with lots of scrub brush.  It is surrounded by large sandstone walls.

As we continued clockwise around the loop, we came to the “Joint” section.  This is a very narrow passage, or joint, between huge sandstone walls.  At times, the passage is as narrow as 2 feet, and the walls tower about 50 feet.

Soon after the joint trail, we came to a 4WD road.  The loop trail shares this trail for 0.9 miles.  There are no trail markers along the road, I guess since it is difficult to leave the “trail.”  Teagan and I noticed a rock cairn along the road.  We remarked about it, but thought it just meant we were on the right trail.  As we continued along the road, too much time had gone by.  So we decided we must have missed the trail sign along the road and retraced our steps.  It turned out that the rock cairn was a marker for the turn we needed to make to continue the loop around Chesler Park.  Thanks NPS.

We had continued about .75 mile too far along the 4WD road, so we added about 1.5 miles to our hike by missing the trail turn.

After we returned to the trail, we took a rest to regather our wits, and then continued.  There was a climb during the next mile that required a bit of scrambling on slick rock, so it was pretty interesting. Then the trail turned to the east to get us to the starting point of the loop.

From there, we returned to the trailhead retracing our earlier steps.  The lighting was different on the rock formations, so we took a few more pictures.

We got back to the car around 7:30pm after completing our 12.5-mile hike (including our missteps).  We were pretty tired, but we drove around the park all the way to the end of the main road.  Along the way, I took a quick walk around Pothole Dome.  The most interesting thing to me was the view to the north of Island in the Sky.  I took a few pictures.

We returned to Moab, arriving around 9:45pm.  We went to City Market to get some microwavable supper, then returned to the motel.

5 July 2012 – Utah

Teagan and I left the house around 6:00 a.m. to head for the airport.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get home until after 12:30 a.m. from the fireworks display in Nashville.  By the time we went to bed, it was around 2:00 a.m.

We arrived at economy parking at 6:45 and caught a shuttle to the terminal.  There were a lot of stops along the way to pick up others.  When we got to the terminal, the line for curb checking was quite long.  By the time we got our bag checked, cleared security and got to the gate, our flight had already boarded.  We were one of the last to get on.  The flight was not full, however, and we found adjacent seats near the back.

We arrived in Denver and got an early lunch at Einstein Bagels.  We left Denver at 11:00 a.m. and arrived in Salt Lake City at 12:25 p.m.  After collecting our checked bag, we went to Dollar Rent-A-Car to pick up the car.  We left the airport around  1:30 to head towards Moab.

We took I-15 south out of SLC, then Highway 6 southeast to I-70 at Green River.  The drive along Highway 6 was interesting at first when it was going through mountain terrain, but once we were past Price it became pretty boring.

We stopped in Green River to visit a Blimpie’s.  The town itself looked half dead.  There were many closed motels and gas stations.  The Blimpie’s, located inside a gas station, was surprisingly good.  The young woman that made our sandwiches did a really good job.

We took our sandwiches with us and resumed the drive.  We got to Moab around 5:40 p.m. and checked in at Sleep Inn.  Our room is pretty small with very little storage, but the price was good (for Moab). After we were settled, we headed to Arches NP to catch the late afternoon sun and sunset.

I purchased my senior pass at the park (recently turned 62), and we headed towards the Windows Section.  Our plan was to be at the windows area by sunset, but to stop and any views we wanted along the way.  We stopped at the La Sal Mountain overlook, Courthouse Towers, Petrified Dunes, Balanced Rock, Garden of Eden, and finally the windows section.

We walked out to Turret Arch.  It was in shadow in the afternoon sun so we didn’t take any pictures.  Then we went to the North Window.  It was beautifully lit by the low afternoon sun and we took several pictures.  After that we headed to the South Window, then took the primitive trail back to the parking lot.  Along the way, we spotted a rock formation that looked like a face from a particular angle.  We took a few pictures using a tripod, because the light was almost gone.

We headed back to Moab to hit a grocery store for a few supplies.  We brought a pack of veggie tamales back to the motel for a late supper.

10 June 2012 – Hilton Head

The bedrooms in the condo don’t have an outside window, so the natural morning light didn’t wake us up like it does at home.

We couldn’t find any coffee filters in the kitchen of the condo, so Teagan and I headed to Publix to stock up on groceries.  Linda called and said she found them right when we were about to head to check out and buy our groceries.  We ate sandwiches at the condo for lunch.  The weather forecast showed rain arriving around 2:00 p.m., so Linda headed to the beach to try to beat the rain.  She only has one full day with us here, since she has to head back to work on Monday.

Teagan, Erin and I decided to explore the island a little via car, so we headed toward the south beach.  Along the way, we stopped at an “Hilton Head Information” center.  It turned out to be a front for a couple of timeshare salespeople.  I endured a brief sales pitch, but quickly cut off the presentation, grabbed some information brochures, and exited with all my money still in my pocket, as far as I could tell.

We took the South Forest Beach drive.  Somewhere along the way we had to pay a $5 toll.  This took us all the way to Lands End Road in the South Beach area.  Then we back-tracked and went to the Harbor Town area where the lighthouse is.  We stopped there and visited several shops.

In the meantime, Linda had called and said the sun was out at the condo, despite the forecast, so we headed back in that direction to see if we could get in some beach time before the rain arrived.  Along the way, we stopped at the General Store where two rented bikes awaited us.  Teagan and Erin rode them back to the condo.

Linda had been at the beach most of the time while we were out.  When we got back, Teagan and Erin got ready and headed to the beach.  I shuttled supplies back and forth, but didn’t really do much at the beach.

After a couple of hours at the beach, Teagan and Erin returned to the condo and Linda quickly followed.  Erin had a knee scrape from skim boarding, but it was not serious.  After a little first aid, Teagan, Erin and I went on a short bike ride.  I had brought along Teagan’s bike for a third one.

After about 30 minutes of riding, the predicted rain finally arrived, so we headed back.

Teagan, Erin and I worked on supper.  We prepared dirty rice, baked cauliflower, and garlic bread.

After supper, we all played several games of Presidents.  I won the first one, then Teagan won five in-a-row.

After that, Teagan, Erin and I played Mario Karts Double Dash.  Erin doesn’t play this game much, and Teagan almost always beats me, so let’s just say Teagan had a good night in the games department.



9 Jun 2012 – Hilton Head

Teagan and I left home at 8:30 a.m. to head to Erin’s house to pick her up.  We left Erin’s house around 9:15 to go to Hilton Head, SC.  We first headed toward Nashville to pick up I-440 which took us over to I-24.  We headed southeast toward Chattanooga.  We stopped in Monteagle for gas and lunch at a Wendy’s.  We noticed it was about 6 degrees cooler atop the Cumberland Plateau.

We continued through Chattanooga and picked up I-75 which took us to Macon.  The traffic in Atlanta slowed us down a little.  From Macon, we took I-16 to near Savannah, then I-95 for a few miles north to Hilton Head.  The traffic getting into Hilton Head was not bad compared to what it can be.

Linda, who has been working in Richmond, VA, drove down from there and arrived on the island before us and had already checked in at the Hilton Head Beach & Tennis Resort.  We met her at the two-bedroom condo, Admiral’s Row #228, around 7:00 p.m.

After we carried in some of our things, we walked to the beach to find food.  We stopped at Jamaica Joe’s Beach Bar, but they stopped serving food at 6:00 p.m.  So we walked to Coconutz Sportz Bar, also on the resort property, and ate supper there.  Linda and I split a Carolina style pulled pork sandwich and the young ladies got fish sandwiches.  The food was good.

We returned to the condo and brought in more stuff from the car.  We set up an N64 console and played Mario Karts 64.

25 May 2012 New Orleans

We ate breakfast in the hotel and checked out.  I retrieved the car from the garage and drove it to the front of the hotel where we loaded up.  We headed to the French Market area so we could visit the Central Grocery. After looking around, we bought some dried salami, I forget the exact name, along with an olive salad mixture.

We returned to the car and headed to Angelo Brocato’s for a cannoli.  We each had a cannoli (Teagan’s with milk, mine with expresso), and we bought a couple of items to bring back to Franklin.  Then we headed back home.  We arrived around 9:00pm.

24 May 2012 New Orleans

I had trouble getting to sleep last night, plus I woke around 6:00 am, so I felt pretty tired in the morning. I got Teagan up around 9:00. We arrived at the New Orleans Museum of Art a little before they opened at 10:00, so we took a few pictures outside.

Once inside, we began on the first floor with the Medieval art room, then the European Renaissance room, the European Baroque room, and finally the Dutch and Flemish room.  The rooms were very clearly organized so we could see the evolution of European painting through the different periods.

We ate very nice salads in the Cafe NOMA for lunch and proceeded to the third floor where we saw collections of African, Oceanic, precolumbian, native American, Japanese, Indian, and Chinese art.  Teagan was way more interested in these areas than I was.  I guess I prefer paintings over the vases and more functional art.

On the second floor, we saw collections of contemporary and modern art, impressionist art, and French art from the 17th to 19th centuries.

We left the museum at 3:30 and headed to the Martin’s Wine Cellar in Metarie. Based on the Yelp reviews, that one has the best selection of non-wine items. We found a couple do cheeses there to bring back to Franklin. I realized that years ago, when I used to visit Martin’s when I lived in Mobile, it seemed like heaven. But now that I live in Franklin, Martin’s seems pretty ho-hum. We found very little there that we can’t get in the Nashville. And when compared to the Liquor Barns in Lexington, Martin’s pales.

We headed back to the hotel for a brief rest, then we walked to the Southern Candymakers shop on Decatur Street. The store smelled amazing when we walked in. We bought lots of pralines for gifts, as well as a few for ourselves.

After that, we headed to the Shops at Canal Place. The anchor store there is Saks. We walked through the mall but didn’t find much of interest. Then we headed up Canal St. And went in a few shops. We stumbled onto a street festival on Royal St. There were tents along the street that were serving food and wine to ticket holders and many of the shops and galleries were open late. We were able to visit many of the galleries that are usually closed by the time we make it to the French Quarter.

We headed to Mr. B’s Bistro for our 8:30 reservation. We were seated right away. Two glasses of ice water were immediately delivered. Within a minute, our waiter was there with the menus and some brief explanations about the soup and catch I’d the day. We ordered the duck and goat cheese spring roll appetizer first. Then Teagan ordered the braised rabbit entree, while I ordered a bowl of gumbo ya-ya and a half dozen fried oysters served on the half shell with Hollandaise sauce.

The spring rolls were very tasty, but nothing spectacular. My gumbo was excellent, although a little light on the chicken and andouille (but since it was from the soup part of the menu, that is probably ok). The fried oyster were very good and went well with the sauce. Teagan’s rabbit dish was very good, although filling. The braising liquid packed a lot of flavor. She especially enjoyed the garlic mashed potatoes served with the dish.

The food at Mr. B’s Bistro was good, but the thing I will remember the most is the outstanding service.  The waiters were very non-intrusive.  They provided service without interrupting us.  Our waters were always filled, the proper utensils were always provided just before the dish arrived, and we never had to ask for anything — it was just there.  Bravo to the wait staff.

After supper, we took a last walk along Bourbon Street. Things were getting pretty lively by that time of night. We bought some decorative beads at one of the shops, then we headed back to the hotel, satisfied that the week had provided us with a good New Orleans experience.