Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Boating School and Back to School

    Last week was Chloe's nineteenth birthday, so we rented a pontoon boat for her and a couple of friends to go out on Lake Pleasant. She was out on the water for all of two minutes when the boat police stopped her. Her friend had a foot in the water and now she has a ticket. So it looks like she'll have to go to Boating School!!  Still, they did have a lot fun.

Nineteen candles

Anyway, we had cake and pizza and nineteen candles.

In other news Phoebe just started her sophomore year this week...

Sunday, August 6, 2017


For the last few days were in Flagstaff and after exploring around  bit we decided to head out to Williams, AZ to check out "Bearizona" the drive through animal park.

The arch at the entrance

The sculpture on this archway was really quite impressive.  Most people take this sort of thing for granted, like it came out of a machine, but Mike and I have done commercial sculpture. This was hand sculpted and painted. On the the tour they said the walls throughout the park are hand carved out of concrete that was poured over recycled trailers and vehicles. Apparently a local family does the carving.

The first enclosure was white mountain goats.

This is a deer. It's front and center in this photo, but it's camouflage is so good he's hard to see!

There's 2 deer in this picture!!

Mike's in car selfie. :)

Here's one of the burros. Apparently all burros in North America were brought here by Spain a long time ago. After they built the railroads in Mexico and the southwest they didn't need them anymore so they freed them. So now there's a large wild burro population in Arizona as well as in Mexico. They apparently do quite well in the desert and can go without water for quite some time.

I like donkeys a lot. They're smarter than horses apparently (and horses are very smart).

This is a grey wolf.  For this part we had to roll up the windows and lock the doors. Behind him you can see some juvenile bears that have been put in a "timeout" pen for climbing on cars.

This is an arctic wolf  hanging out in his den.

This is one of the junior bears. Before we entered this section they asked us to drive slowly without stopping. The junior bears are the most curious and will climb up and rip pieces off your car. As you can see the ravens surround all the bears in this park. They were also quite fascinating (and huge!).

A bear behind. 

2 more junior bears hanging out.

This bear is from the big bear section. They had just given a bunch of vegetables and other food, and there were twelve bears just sitting next to the road. According to the tour, the bears here are rescued from unpleasant conditions or are bears that got in trouble in the wild and were set to be euthanized.

I'd never seen so many bears in one place before, there just kept being more! I've seen many individual bears when we lived on the mountain in New York, but they were always alone. I've also had the very scary experience of a "wall of fur" being at our front door when we lived in the Catskill Mountains..... These guys, however, were cute and distracted.

After the bears we headed over to the bison area.

Let me just say, bison are HUGE! 

After this my camera died. The next day we drove home being chased by a monsoon

At first the drive was beautiful.

Then the alerts came on the radio and we could even see the storm at the lookout off the road.

Chloe at the lookout.

It was pretty impressive.

Chloe and Phoebe happy that it's nice and cool here!

Soon it started to rain, and we headed back to the car and back to Phoenix.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Out of the heat and up to Flagstaff

On Monday, Naomi started school online for 8th grade. It's been a bit a a learning curve with their system, and on Tuesday morning we headed out of town to see family and spend some time in the mountains. So we made online school even harder by hitting the road right away.

It's a short beautiful ride up to Cottonwood. Where we met family for lunch. Oscar was waiting outside the Chinese restaurant while we ate. 

He was a big baby out there until we joined him. I wish I'd thought to take pictures of the family but I completely forgot!!

The house we rented is quite nice but in a neighborhood with many circular roads connected in strange ways so it's a bit of a maze and we got so lost on our way here. We even stopped in at Walmart yesterday and bought a real GPS as phone service had dropped out in the area making phone navigation impossible.

It's nice to be in a neighborhood with trees!

The back yard is very peaceful and fenced for Oscar.

And here's Mike and Naomi both working on school.

Flagstaff is a pretty city with many college students and tourists on their way to the Grand Canyon.

This is a shot of the Hotel Monte Vista, the local haunted hotel (there are many stories online).

Yesterday afternoon we had lunch at the brewery and checked out the downtown. Hopefully we can head back there today!

Last night at 8:30pm when it was very dark, we headed out to the Lowell Observatory.

This entrance looks empty, but it was so incredibly crowded! This is the first clear night in a while and they had three telescopes open for viewing.

Meteorite in the visitor's center

We took a minute to look around the visitor center but quickly left onto the trail to find the telescopes.

This is the trail to the Clark telescope. Everything is very dark so as not to mess up the telescopes.

It was directed at Saturn and the viewing line was pretty long.

Naomi (and Phoebe) in line for a view of Saturn.

This was inside the domed building (couldn't use a flash and my camera is just sad at night). The telescope was massive and automatically adjusted to track Saturn for the night.

When I looked through the Clark telescope it looked pretty much exactly like this (except brighter!).

This is the Mausoleum for Percival Lowell, right outside the Clark telescope. It's an impressive memorial.

After viewing we regrouped to try and figure out our map.

This was on the trail to the Pluto telescope, which was pointed at the moon that night.

Mike and Naomi inside the Rotunda Museum learning the history of Pluto's discovery.

Phoebe and Chloe inside the museum. After this we went on the constellation tour, which had to be inside because the sky became hazy. It was pretty interesting actually.

And this is Mike with the star cat sculpture on our way out that night. 

This was my first time visiting an observatory, and honestly it was really a great night out.

"People are willing to take these extraordinary chances to become writers, musicians, or painters, and because of them, we have a culture. If this ever stops, our culture will die, because most of our culture, in fact, has been created by people that got paid nothing for it--people like Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh or Mozart."-Kurt Vonnegut


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