"Being together is like catching a sunbeam; each new memory we make reflects light hinting there is more to see and know."

July 27, 2013

Alaskan Cruise

WOW! We had such an awesome trip filled with sunshine, forests, waterfalls and great people. We traveled north on HWY 101 stopping along the way to visit Diane's hometown places in Sebastopol and Ukiah. We drove through the Avenue of the Giant Redwoods and actually camped right under the trees without a tent. It was so warm and perfect! Took a tour of the Oregon Caves and, in fact, we had a personal tour as we were the only tourists there at 4:00pm.

During our trip, we spent a few days along the California, Oregon and Washington beaches, just getting our feet in the sand. Diane even picked out a piece of driftwood which we carried all the way home with us.

It was great to board the Norwegian Jewel July 13 with stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Victoria, including a cruise up the fjord to see the Sawyer Glacier. Joe's sister Nancy and husband Galan joined us for the cruise, and it was fun to travel together, eating and playing games. Everything was great; the food, entertainment, games, music and especially our excursions in Alaska.

The best excursion was a 12-man canoe trip to the Mendenhall Glacier. Our tour guide was Alex, a wonderful man studying Marine Biology in Juneau.  We paddled across Mendenhall Lake, navigating past icebergs, surrounded by one of the richest samplings of Alaskan wildlife you’ll find anywhere.  We saw seagull nests and baby chicks, eagles, goats, and hundreds of spawning salmon. Our guide took us within a safe distance of the massive, awe-inspiring face of the living Mendenhall Glacier. We were fortunate to see a huge wall of ice break away and crash into the water with an enormous splash almost in slow motion. We did some fast back paddling to get away from the tidal wave. Our guide told us only about 50 people a season are lucky enough to see a glacier "calve". After that highlight, we had a thrill ride by skirting the base of beautiful and powerful Nugget Falls. We even had a snack of reindeer sausage, salmon spread, crackers and hot chocolate! Great sunny weather, great day!
The wall of ice that fell was as tall as a ten story building. If you were to put a boat in front of this glacier, it would be so tiny you would hardly see it.


After getting off the ship July 20, we enjoyed a few days in Olympic National Park to see more spectacular scenery, wildlife, waterfalls, and beaches. We stayed at the Quinault Lake Lodge pictured below. Also pictured below is Joe standing against the largest Spruce tree in the world, about 1000 years old. It is 191' tall with a circumference of 58' 11". Very amazing!

We had a great white water raft trip down the Klamath River which was Diane's first time. We put in the water at 9:30am and traveled 14 miles downstream, getting out at 4:00pm. Diane rode the front rim of the boat like riding a bull as the boat slammed through the rapids. If anyone thinks of having such a great adventure, check out Noah's River Adventures.
On our trip, we attended three temples, Seattle, Portland and Medford. There were so many wild blackberries throughout Oregon and Washington, we stopped and picked a bucket full and Diane made a wonderful blackberry cobbler when we got home. While on our way home, we spent some time at Crater Lake in Oregon.
It's always great to get back home but we sure had a wonderful trip with lots of memories. Now we plan to be home for a few days before we take off again on another adventure.

June 25, 2013

Exploring Yosemite National Park

With our home base at Angels Camp, we were only an hour and a half from Yosemite. We arrived by 9:00 in the morning and enjoyed the whole day there. After coming down the mountain and then through the mile-long tunnel, this scene opens up to view. What a beautiful morning! Yosemite is internationally known for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, giant Sequoia groves and biological diversity. At this lookout point there are always tour buses full of tourists!

Our first stop was Bridal Veil Falls and we had a little walk up the hill to get to the base of the falls. There was a lot of water coming down and it was beautiful. There were also a lot of people -- in the way -- we had to dodge and take pictures around even for that early in the morning. We took a hike for a few miles to Mirror Lake. It was a really nice hike but Mirror Lake was sure a disappointment, like, we couldn't find it because it was so small.

One of the highlights of being in Yosemite is our visit to the Ahwahnee Hotel. It was built back in 1927 and has the true old and rustic characteristics. Joe and I walked all around the grand lobby, library and "Gentlemen's Lounge". There was a lot of beautiful artwork, Indian rugs and antiques on display. We had lunch in the grand dining room which was just delightful, a great Yosemite experience.
  We saved the best for last, Yosemite Falls. It is an easy mile hike to the bridge below the falls but Joe and I climbed up around the boulders to the base until we could feel the spray. There is a hike up to the top of Yosemite Falls but it takes between 6-8 hours and is pretty rigorous. Maybe we can do that another day.
Our day in Yosemite was so relaxing, except Joe out there in the middle of the meadow getting eaten up by mosquitoes! Even the crowds were at a minimum, probably because it is still too early in the year for most tourists. We are fortunate to be so close to enjoy this glacier wonder. At one time, the ice thickness in Yosemite Valley may have reached 4,000 feet during the early glacial period. The down-slope movement of the ice masses cut and sculpted the U-shaped valley, making such a unique place to visit.

Our Visit to Some Very Big Trees

Our home base was Angels Camp at the WorldMark resort with our room overlooking the golf course. Joe felt right at home.
We visited Calaveras Big Trees, a grove of giant Sequoias. It is always a reverent experience to walk through the grove. Below is the 'Discovery Tree' noted by Augustus T. Dowd in 1852 and felled in 1853, leaving a giant stump which is the only remainder of the tree. It measured 24 feet (7.3 m) in diameter at its base and was determined by ring count to be 1,244 years old when felled.

The largest tree was believed to be the Mother of the Forest, which was cut down in the mid-nineteenth century and dwarfed any tree alive today.

It is so humbling to be in the presence of these magnificent trees. 

There are coastal redwoods and Sequoia redwoods. During the summer, we will visit some of the other beautiful redwood groves in California.

June 24, 2013

Camping in Nauvoo

In May, we met in Navoo with Tessa and Cory and the kids. Chelsea, Ethan, Gavin and Carson  joined us the next day. In 1839, early members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—called “Mormons”—established this place of peace and beauty on a great bend in the Mississippi.  We had such a great time visiting the historical sites and the cousins loved playing together and having a giant sleepover. The campground was nearly empty and was great! We even made s'mores in the evening. We visited Nauvoo and Carthage Jail where the Prophet Joseph Smith was killed by the mob. Both places were special experiences for the children.

We ended our few days with a big picnic behind the Cultural Hall. It was such fun and new memories were made with the combined families.

June 23, 2013


After our honeymoon, Joe and I spent a month in Ames, Iowa, his home for the last 23 years. We cleaned, packed and moved items to storage, painted, planted flowers, and staged the home to sell all in one week. We were so exhausted but we listed it for $12,000 over the suggested price and it sold in one day. Here are the before and after pictures to share what we did in such a short amount of time.

 Joe and I worked 12 hours a day. I bought all the decorator items to stage the home at the local Target, WalMart and Hobby Lobby only to return them a few days later after the home sold. Joe had never considered "borrowing" items from the stores but it wasn't my first time. He was pretty amazed! It was our joke how we made everything "Apple Green". That was just what I felt in the home and it turned out so darn cute.

The market in Ames, Iowa was hot, hot, so given the cute house, are you surprised it sold so fast? Joe had some difficult moments selling the family home of 23 years but we are so excited to move forward with our lives together. We will be in California for the summer but, believe it or not, we have purchased another home in Cedar Rapids where we will spend several months a year so we can stay close to our children and grandchildren there. The blog on our new home will be coming.

June 22, 2013

Honeymoon in Colorado Springs

Our honeymoon started at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. We were so excited to be there; we almost couldn’t believe we were staying in such a beautiful and exquisite place. The Broadmoor is truly a luxury hotel built in the early 20th Century as the Grand Dame of the Rockies, built by Spencer Penrose in 1918. The hotel has always attracted a wealthy clientele, including past presidents. It has over 700 rooms and 18 restaurants and cafĂ©` with three golf courses. We really felt like royalty while staying there for three days!!

Zip Lining

We went zip lining with Out West Adventures. It was the perfect day and Joe and I had so much fun, plus we were the only ones on the tour so we had a very personal experience.

Pikes Peak in the distance

Pikes Peak

We took the drive up the mountain to Pikes Peak which is 14,115 feet high. Since it had been snowing, we were only allowed to go to 12,000 before we had to come back down. The wind was blowing up to 50 miles an hour and it was freezing!!

Too cold for another picture - I'm done!
We drove to the Garden of the Gods close to Manitou Springs and stopped at the visitor’s center there to buy a few things. It was a beautiful drive but still cold and windy. The rock formations were like those in Canyonlands National Park in Utah and enjoyed the drive but we didn't hike any of the many trails because it was too windy and cold.


Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

I think we were the only guests in the zoo and although it was freezing cold and the animals were in their barns, we enjoyed it very much. There were 22 giraffes, the largest herd in North America. They were eating right out of our hands! We got right up close and personal with the lions. Although there was thick glass between us, our noses touched. When we would turn to leave the exhibit, they would lunge toward us, playing with us because they liked the chase. At 5:00 closing time, we were heading out of the park and one of the zoo keepers that knew we were on our honeymoon asked if we would like to help feed the grizzly bears. How great was that! We were within inches of their giant heads and claws, such a great experience!!




Trip to Seven Falls

May 6, 2013

WEDDING DAY - April 20

The procession march started with Betty Whitlock on the piano and the wedding party started down the aisle, the little flower girls first (Kimberly, Ada and Hallie), then our daughters (Kaylinn, Tessa and Janna), followed by our sons (David Cheney, Brian, Ben and Trent). I was holding tightly onto Dave, then Saffi and Violet (Saffi to hold my flowers and Violet carrying the rings). It was pretty amazing to see so many people standing and to see Joe smiling as he watched me walk toward him.

Violet and Saffi

The hall was so beautiful, the lunch buffet was really nice, about 125 people present with music and dancing. It was everything I had imagined and wanted to have.