Monthly Archives: January 2014

2013 Trip Nine, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Saint Paul, Monday, Jan. 6

So Chris and I have a difference of opinion. She believes the last day, even if boring, deserves its own post. Me, by time we get home it is just nice to be here and relax. Well, relax is probably not the correct term since I have listed 25 items to do before the dog sledding trip. But, not as interested in doing a blog post that is, in my mind, boring.

But, guess what? I am part of a team of professional travelers so I will be a team player. Here is the post for the last day.

Blowing snow and hazy near Faribault MN

Blowing snow and hazy near Faribault MN

We left KC with its below zero temps for St. Paul with its even greater below zero temps. This Polar Vortex is getting big news. The silver Saturn starts well, a new battery before we started the trip is likely the happy cause of this.

The view is somewhat hazy, I do not know if the cold causes it or what. Roadway is clear until a brief period in southern MN when some blowing snow acts up. The fields are not deeply covered in snow.

We zip through Iowa and have lunch in Albert Lea. The restaurant is having some difficulties, all of their soda fountain lines have frozen up except Diet Coke. Water and iced tea it is.

We arrive home around 4:30; in time to pick up the mail and two gallons of milk. We know our priorities. The car is filthy and not likely to get any cleaner until the temperature at least approaches the freezing mark.

But our urban condo awaits us, nice and warm. Happy to be home after a great trip and lots of family time and pleasant memories.

Ed and Chris Tuesday Jan. 7, 2014

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2013 Trip Nine, Jan. 5, 2014, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Sunday Jan. 4, 2014, Kansas City

Well, we lucked out. Kansas City got about 2″ of snow yesterday and it lingers on the city roads. The Interstates are clear and good driving.

Not so much though back early today. We started west of Oklahoma City and it was basically clear with a few wisps of snow. From Oklahoma City north to the Kansas border, the road had travel paths through the wind-blown snow. Frequently the road was completely snow-covered, although lightly. The wind consistently was blowing snow across the snow.

A cross along the highway in Oklahoma

A cross along the highway in Oklahoma

We passed two accidents on I-35 in our north-bound direction. Both occurred only shortly before us. One was a six car pile-up, one was four car. However, when we hit the Kansas border, the road was remarkably clearer. Evidently they were better prepared, or started earlier, or knew their job better. The wind never let up, usually 20 mph with higher gusts.

Nothing much else to report. Home tomorrow.

Ed and Chris Kansas City Jan. 4 8:30 pm

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2013 Trip Nine, Jan. 3-4, 2014 Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Saturday, Jan 4, 2014, Weatherford, OK

Final trip of 2013 is wrapping up-in 2014. We left 40s and nice sunrises and sunsets in Arizona and New Mexico for sub-zero temperatures in Saint Paul when we arrive on Monday.

Christmas lights at Lou and Joyce home

Christmas lights at Lou and Joyce home

The last two days have been driving days. Friday was from Flagstaff (Lou and Joyce’s) to Santa Fe (Jude’s). Today was from Santa Fe to Weatherford, OK. Sunday and Monday drives will be with corduroy and lined jeans in order to deal with the sub-zero temps back home.

On the road in New Mexico

On the road in New Mexico

The drives on both days have been pleasant. Arizona and New Mexico have been sunny and wonderful scenery along the way. The reds of the hills and valleys contrast nicely with the periodic mountains with snowy peaks. There is some green with juniper and pinon trees to go with the beige, brown earth that provides the basic color.

Sunrise at Jude's

Sunrise at Jude’s

Traffic has not been a problem, although we did see an overturned car today with an ambulance next to it. All traffic had to do a slight detour for that one. After the stay in Winslow,AZ last week; we played The Eagles CD a couple of times along the way. Yes, it is an old car, we do not have MP3, bluetooth, etc in the car.

On Friday we stopped at Camille’s Sidewalk Cafe in Gallup NM for lunch, similar to a Panera. Lou and Joyce say it is a regional chain that was a favorite of theirs in Houston. We took Jude out to Zia’s Diner in Santa Fe Friday night for comfort food. Both Lou/Joyce and Jude made us breakfast, yum, yum. Watch out folks, we might be back!

On the road in Texas

On the road in Texas

No lunch today. We planned to have lunch in Amarillo, and we thought the endless soup and salad at Olive Garden would be good. With the time zone change, we arrived at 2 PM. There was a 25 minute wait!! We said the heck with that and ate peanuts (thanks Jude) on the road. Dinner was at a local restaurant here in Weatherford.

Ed and Chris 1/4/14 8 pm

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2013 Trip Nine, Jan.1-2 2014, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Jan. 2, 2014, Flagstaff AZ, Thursday

New Year's Day dinner

New Year’s Day dinner

Happy New Year! Yesterday was a slow day so today’s post covers Wednesday and Thursday. Hope you don’t mind. It is our last day in Flagstaff, tomorrow begins the journey back to St. Paul and the minus 20 degree temperatures. We will spend Friday night with Jude in Santa Fe and do not expect to stop for any side trips on the way home from there.

New Year's meal

New Year’s meal

New Year’s Day was with Lou and Joyce. We watched the Rose Bowl on HGTV and skipped the commercials. The main meal was ham, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and cabbage with apple pie for desert. It was great, thanks Joyce! Bowl games followed with an afternoon walk thrown in.

on trail to Old Caves Cavern

on trail to Old Caves Cavern

We hiked up Old Caves Cavern trail. This hill is dotted with caves at the top. Since the last portion of the trail was north-facing and thus snow and ice covered, only Lou and Ed made it to the top. The weather has cooperated wonderfully. Night time temps are in the 20s and in the afternoon, it hits the high 40s. Sun all the time.

Top of Old Caves cavern hill

Top of Old Caves cavern hill


One of the caves

One of the caves

Today, downtown Flag (Flagstaff) was our early destination. Chris picked up some extra warm gloves-particularly useful for the upcoming dog sled trip. My effort to find a warmer stocking hat proved fruitless; I will have to double-check back in the Cities. Lunch was at a favorite of Lou and Joyce, Cuvee 928.

Walnut canyon dwellings

Walnut canyon dwellings

For today’s hike, we went to Walnut Canyon National Monument. It is only about 20 minutes away. The canyon itself is 20 miles long and 400 feet deep. Given the change in elevation, plant life is varied.

Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon

Cliff dwellings here were built by the Sinagua, an American Indian group, who lived here from about 1125 AD to 1250 AD. The cliff dwellings were constructed here due to natural recesses in the limestone walls where water flowing for millions of years eroded the softer rock layers, creating shallow caves. The cliff homes provided shelter from summer suns and winter colds.

Walnut Canyon

Walnut Canyon

The Sinagua were dry farmers; people who farmed without irrigation, using drought resistant plants. Why they moved in to the area and why they left are not known for sure. It is believed they were assimilated into the Hopi nation.

Lou and Chris at cliff dwellings

Lou and Chris at cliff dwellings

Two trails are offered. We hiked both, the rim trail and most of the island trail. The island trail goes down to the cliffs, circling part of the rock “island” which is a part of the cliffs that had been encircled by Walnut Creek eons ago.

A portion of the island trail is under construction so we had to double back, effectively lengthening the hike. The trail does not go all the way to the bottom, but it still goes down over 200 feet. It was an efficient way to burn off some calories.

Sunset in Flagstaff

Sunset in Flagstaff

Dinner was in downtown Flag, another great meal from a small, local restaurant called Brix.

Ed and Chris Jan. 2 10 pm

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2013 Trip Nine, Dec. 31, Christmas in Santa Fe, New Year’s in Flagstaff

Tuesday, December 31, 2013 Flagstaff AZ

The San Francisco Peaks at Flagstaff as seen from Meteor Crater

The San Francisco Peaks at Flagstaff as seen from Meteor Crater

End of 2013. I should probably write eloquently about the past year. But my style is more straightforward. 2013 was a marvelous experience; a dream come true. We have found that our major mistake was in over estimating how much we can see in a day. The result, we have to extend our time into 2014, at least, to finish our plans to visit areas of the U.S. we have not seen before.

Meteor Crater , Winslow AZ

Meteor Crater , Winslow AZ

For the last day of the year, we had a relaxing last morning at La Posada and headed out to Meteor Crater. This hole in the ground is large enough to hold 20 football fields on the floor of the crater and seat 2,000,000 people on the slopes of the crater bowl.

Ed and Chris at Meteor Crater

Ed and Chris at Meteor Crater

The crater was formed about 50,000 years ago and is over 4,000 feet across and is now 550 feet deep. It is estimated it was 700 feet deep when formed, erosion reducing it over time.

Fragment of meteorite

Fragment of meteorite

The crater was a source of controversy. Initially it was identified as a volcanic crater. However, it 1902 it was visited by a mining engineer from Philly who thought it was created by an iron meteorite and leased the land to mine it for its minerals. Over two decades effort produced no meteorite find.

Last shot of crater

Last shot of crater

The time spent helped to cement the proof that the crater was formed by a meteor but the meteor had vaporized, melted, and fragmented so no major mining was feasible. Several 1000 pound fragments have been found and we touched one of them for good luck.

The site was offered to the U.S. by the heirs of the mining engineer. The U.S. turned it down, they had a big hole in the ground just a little ways a way (the Grand Canyon). The mining family has kept a long-term lease and now runs the site. They do a good job of mixing education and commerce.

We took the one mile loop tour with a guide. The crater floor is off limits, it keeps the crater remarkably well-preserved. Although NASA used this site, among others, for training astronauts for the moon mission. It helped the astronauts to better identify impact craters on the moon.

Sunset Crater

Sunset Crater

After the crater, we went to the new Navajo casino for a light bite to eat and managed to lose $1.70 at the slots. Then it was on to Sunset Crater, a national monument we had visited previously but thought it might be nice to try to get a sunset shot from Sunset Crater.

Lou and Joyce's Flagstaff house

at Lou and Joyce’s Flagstaff house


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We met Lou and Joyce at their Flagstaff house where we had homemade lasagna (Yum) for dinner. Downtown Flagstaff holds a pine cone drop on New Year’s Eve, at both 10 pm and midnight. We went to the 10 pm drop. A pine cone is used since Ponderosa pines are found throughout the Flagstaff area and Coconino National Forest. The mayor’s proclamation stated this is the largest single source of Ponderosa pine in the world.

Pine Cone Drop in downtown Flagstaff

Pine Cone Drop in downtown Flagstaff

Champagne at Lou and Joyce’s at midnight wrapped up the year.

We hope you have enjoyed our little notes and photos as we visited the U.S. and Canada this year. It has been a joy for us. Hopefully you will continue to share our travels in 2014, even though it will be at a reduced pace.

Ed and Chris New Year’s Day Noon
Watching the Rose Bowl Parade on the delayed taping.

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