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Sunday, July 14, 2019

Monument Valley and much more

Dear Family and Friends,

We drove from the Grand Canyon to Monument Valley.  Including stopping for a bite to eat, it took us about 4 to 5 hours. 

Monument Valley is part of the Navajo nation.  It is maintained and shared with us by the Navajo people, so it is not part of the U.S. National Park Service. 

After we turned off highway US 160 on to US 163, we passed so many beautiful large rock formations.  I took the photo below before we were actually at Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. 

When we arrived at Monument Valley, we found that it was natural.  There were roads that you could drive on, but they were all dirt roads.  This made it seem as if we were viewing it just as the first inhabitants viewed it. 

It was in the afternoon and the sun was bringing out the beautiful red color in the rocks. 

As you know, many western movies have been filmed here.  John Ford filmed a lot of his westerns here and they even have a viewing area named for him.

The two rock formations below are known as the mittens.  When you look at them closely, you can see why.  It looks like two hands with the thumbs closest to each other.

We spent 2 or 3 hours exploring the different rock formations.  It was so incredible to see how our earth has been shaped into beautiful formations from geological events. 

In the picture below, Chuck and Matt are clowning around like they are trying to move a massive rock.  You can hardly see them at the base of the rock. 

Even after we left the actual Monument Valley Park, the scenery was beautiful.

The next day we set out for more sightseeing.  We visited Mexican Hat rock.

Later, we visited Goosenecks State Park, that overlooks the meandering of the San Juan river.  You can see how it has cut through the surrounding landscape.  

I have tried to upload a video, but not sure if it will work.

We drove through such beautiful country, and up to this higher level, which provided us a great view of where we had driven.  

Just incredible scenery.

The following day we drove to Horseshoe Bend, the start of the Grand Canyon.  We climbed up a sizeable hill on a sand path.  Not an easy thing to do. I took one look at the hike I would still have to make and sent the guys on to finish the trek.

Here they are, after their successful return.

We stopped at some incredible balancing rocks.  

It blows your mind.

At the end of the day we ended up at the northern rim of the Grand Canyon.

We were only half way through our "rocking vacation," as Chuck called it.  

Next time I will share about our visit to Bryce Canyon.


Friday, July 12, 2019

Vacation Time in the Southwest, USA...

Dear Family and Friends,

Every year about this time we take our son, Matt, on a vacation.  This year we decided on touring the beauty of the southwest USA.  

We started our trip by flying from Pasco, Washington to Las Vegas, Nevada. The flights were so reasonable in price, it was much easier than driving.  This saved us several days travel time.

Here is Matt and Chuck, in the waiting area at the airport in Pasco.  

To get from Pasco to Las Vegas we had to land for a connecting flight in Salt Lake City.  As we were landing, I got a great shot of the Great Salt Lake.  I asked the Salt Lake based flight attendant if people still swim in the lake.  She said that you can, but not a popular thing to do anymore because it is so briny.

After arriving in Las Vegas, we rented a car, drove to Henderson and stayed the night.  The next day we went to Lake Mead and toured Hoover Dam.

The following day, we headed started towards the Grand Canyon.  We stopped at the new bridge, that bypasses the damn, and walked out for a great view.

We stayed just outside the Grand Canyon National Park.  We took a shuttle bus to view the sights inside in the park.  We had beautiful weather for viewing.  

Matt took his share of photos also of the majestic beauty.

Here are some brave souls playing out on a ledge overhanging the canyon.

We encountered a young elk, who was separated from his mother.  They were soon rejoined.  The young elk was somewhat frightened by us people between him and his mother.

We got up early the following morning so that we could see the mules that were going to take people to the bottom on the canyon.  Matt is greeting one here.  

After viewing the Grand Canyon we headed northeast to Monument Valley.  I will share about that on our next post.


P.S.  I appreciate and love you all.  Thanks for traveling with us.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

U.S.A. Trip, Family, Family, Family

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck and I returned last week after spending the last six weeks in the U.S.  

Our first week we delighted in two graduations.  Our oldest granddaughter, Portia, graduated from Seattle Pacific University.  

Here is Portia with her parents just before the ceremony.  

We are a couple of proud grandparents.  How do they grow up so fast?

Our granddaughter, Heidi, graduated from Hanford High School in Richland, Washington.  

Here is Heidi with a very proud grandma.

We are so happy that we were able to be in the U.S. for both of these graduations.

After celebrating, we packed up and started our vacation with Matt.  This year we drove some national parks of the great southwest.

I will post about that next time.


Monday, April 15, 2019

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Dear Family and Friends,

After our Gate 1 tour ended, Chuck and I went to Ljubljana, Slovenia for a couple of extra days.  We rented an apartment within easy walking distance to the center of town.

Ljubljana is the largest city and the capital of Slovenia.  It is a university town so it is very lively with young people.  Lots of outdoor cafes lining the river that runs through the middle of the city.

Of course when we were there it was off season for tourists.  Many trees were yet to leaf and it was sometimes a mite windy and cold.  But we can definitely say one thing, we never got too hot and it was never too crowded.

Here are some views of Ljubljana.  (To pronounce this city just substitute an i for j)

The Ljubljana river that runs through the center of town.  

Below is the Vurnik House, a very unique building that was built in 1922, and was designed by an architect who wanted to create a distinctive Slovenian style. Although the style did not catch on, this colorful building is still maintained. 

This is the Preresen Monument located in the main plaza.  It is where most tour groups meet up at the end of their free time.    It honors France Preseren, a beloved Slovene national poet.

Below is the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation.  It is located in right on the central plaza, along with the statue Preresen.  Also the central plaza is located right beside the river.  There are three walking bridges that connect this plaza with the older part of the city.

All of the central tourist area is pedestrian only.  

The man below got a lot of attention while he had his fancy dressed ostrich out for a stroll.

This is the top of the Ljubljana Cathedral.  

And here is the interior.  A real awesome church.

And like so many tourists spots these days, there were love locks on the bridge.

Below is a dragon (one of four) that adorn a bridge of the city.  The dragon is a symbol of the city.

We really enjoyed the market area.

We had a real nice couple of days there.  We even found time to visit a casino, and unlike in the U.S., we even came away with a little money.

Our trip getting home was a easy as going.  We flew from Ljubljana to Amsterdam in the afternoon.  Here is a photo of Amsterdam below and the setting sun on the horizon as we were landing.

We spent the night in Amsterdam and had a humane departure time on KLM for Quito at 10:00 am the next morning.

Below is a picture I made out the window as we were leaving the UK behind and heading to Ecuador over the Atlantic.

We flew for about 12 or more hours and it stayed daylight the whole trip.  Here is a picture of the clouds below and the beautiful open blue sky above them.  This was the scene for most of the flight.

My favorite photo though, is the one I made as our airplane was banking to land in Quito, Ecuador.  What a beautiful place we live in and I felt like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz....yes, there is no place like home.


Thursday, April 11, 2019

First, Zagreb, Croatia and then on to Slovenia

Dear Family and Friends,

Our last city in Croatia was Zagreb, the capital and largest city.  We spent a couple of hours there with a tour of the old town.  

This church, located in the center of old town, is probably one of the most photographed sites in Zagreb.  St. Mark's Church has a colorful tiled roof.  The tiles were laid on the church roof in 1880 and are in the design of the coat of arms for Zagreb and the Triune Kingdom of Croatia.

Below is Chuck in his Gate 1 tourist gear.  With Gate 1 each traveler wears a receiver around their neck and an ear piece for listening to the tour guide.  This works out very well because you can adjust the volume to your needs.  Also you can walk around and take in the site while listening to the commentary.

A typical street in the old town.  

Chuck is in the market area checking out the plants they had for sale.

We walked down to the newer part of the city. 

On the way down, we saw this beautifully painted egg.  The size of it was what caught my eye.  

After a little bit of free time, it was time to hop back on the tour bus.  We said goodbye to Zagreb and the country of Croatia.  Our new destination was the beautiful country of Slovenia.

We passed many fishing villages.

Viewing the mountains ahead of us was fantastic.  These mountains are called the Julian Alps.  They separate Slovenia and Austria.

Our last stop on this tour was at a hotel on Lake Bled.  I enjoyed walking along the lake and making photos across from me.

That evening we went to an old restaurant for wine tasting and dinner.  We were entertained by folks in traditional dress with dancing and music.  

This was the end of our Gate 1 tour.  We said our goodbyes to all our new travel friends.

As they made their way to the airport, Chuck and I took a bus to the nearby city of Ljubljana to spend a few days before heading back to Ecuador.

The next post will be photos of Ljubljana and getting back home.