Thanksgiving at Bonita Springs


We woke this morning in our beautiful timeshare at Coconut Plantation, Bonita Springs, Florida to beautiful blue skies dotted with white wispy clouds and a slight breeze. We have been celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday here at Coconut Plantation for many years and look forward to it each year. This year we will be celebrating the holiday with our daughter, Kara.


View from the balcony

View from the balcony

By 8am Randy and I were sitting on the balcony engaging in our usual activity of sipping steaming hot coffee, enjoying a pastry from Panera Bread and laughing at the funny antics of the early morning golfers when they hit the ball and it does not go where they thought it would. For us, this is very funny entertainment indeed.

Kara had decided to do a bit of meditation before joining us, so off we went. By 10am Randy and I were basking in the sun poolside. I looked around and thought: it is going to be a glorious day!


IMG_3347bAt one point while enjoying my book, I found myself mesmerized as I watched the palm fronds gently swaying as the wind made its way through the trees. I also noticed that the clouds in the sky were becoming puffier and covering more and more the blue sky. So much so, the clouds blocked the warmth of the sun from reaching us, but only for a while.


Lunch time rolled around so we headed up to the Veranda restaurant just a few steps from the pool. I had the nachos, cheese and salsa with a wonderful rum drink concoction called the Tropical Storm. I must say it was very tasty indeed.


There are beautiful flowers everywhere!

There are beautiful flowers everywhere!

While we were eating a gentleman came around handing out Bingo cards to everyone and saying, “Whoever gets Bingo will win an ice cream”. Well, that did it, we played. We did not win but we had fun.


me 2

We made our way back to our lounge chairs to continue relaxing poolside.  Before too long more and more clouds rolled across the sky. It made me wonder if we were in for a rainy afternoon. We did have a sprinkle or two but nothing that would chase us away from our heavenly surroundings.

me 1

Kara was the first to leave but we followed her back to our rooms shortly. After relaxing for a bit we dressed and went back to Panera Bread for wonderful bowls of hot baked potato soup. We all picked out our pastries for the morning and made our way back home.

The evening was spent by all differently. Kara watched the newest Cinderella movie, Randy showered and read his newspaper, and me, well, I wrote this blog.


Tomorrow is one of my very favorite holidays of the year, Thanksgiving. I have much to be thankful for. I am thankful for every day I have spent on this earth, I am thankful for each new day I am blessed with, I am thankful for the wonderful family I have been blessed with and thankful for the many friends I have been blessed to meet and hold dear over the years.

Tomorrow we will be having a wonderful Thanksgiving feast here at Coconut Plantation.

I wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!



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The last two days in Albuquerque filled with fall colors, snow and friendship



Aspen Vista Picnic Grounds

Oh, my, we woke up on Sunday to yet another beautiful day. The sun was shining and the temperature was just perfect at 68°.  Randy and I spent the morning slowly sipping our coffee, chatting about all we had seen over the last few days and wondered what Vilma and Jim had in store for us.


After three days of climbing to wonderful heights to see wonderful sights, we all decided we needed a slower pace. So, when Vilma called and said that she had four options for the day we chose door number 4 which was a leisurely Sunday drive to the mountains of Santa Fe and the Santa Fe National Forest to see what was left of the fall foliage.


We understood that we were about three weeks past peak fall foliage but the ride up the mountain was so nice. There were so many people on the mountain stopping to take pictures and just enjoying being outside and we were glad to be among their number.

Vilma - Sante Fe 1



As we climbed a little higher we started to encounter snow on the sides of the road and the higher we drove up the mountain, the more snow could be seen high up on the hills and between the trees. How wonderful, I thought.  That is until Randy got it into his head to throw snowballs me when I got out of the car.   Very funny!




We stopped once in a while to at a view point to enjoy the vistas. From one vantage point we were able to see, hidden in a shroud of blues and greys, the Ortiz Mountains, Sandia Peak, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Tetilla Peak and the Pajaristo Mountain.  Beautiful!


We stopped at the Aspen Vista Picnic Grounds and had a wonderful view of the mountain and notice that there were still small patches of beautiful bright yellow Aspens. We stayed a few minutes to enjoy the view, take a few photos and then made our way back down the mountain.


We decided to have lunch at Maria’s in Santa Fe.  What a lovely restaurant.  The food was delicious and the margarita’s outstanding.  It was hard to choose since their menu listed a large variety of margaritas.

Randy and I both ordered the Taco Chiquitos which were six cocktail-sized shells, filled with lean-ground beef, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes and their house salsa. They were delicious.  I decided to try the Dirty Old Man Margarita made with Hornito’s 100% agave añejo tequila and triple-sec.  This was delicious too!

By the time we arrived back home another friend had arrived at Vilma’s ‘little house’ and would be staying for an extended time. We have all known Sequin for over 20 years and looked forward to spending some time catching up.  Sequin, Carmen, Bob, and Pat all came by Vilma’s and we enjoyed a great home-cooked meal that included Vilma’s famous rice dish.

Sequin, Randy and I returned to the guest house and settled in for the evening talking about old times and future plans.

When we arose in the morning, we all met in the living room and had an unofficial pajama party drinking coffee, eating breakfast and talking. It was really quite fun.  It reminded me of the days when our singles group used to spend time going on retreats to the Wintergreen resort in beautiful Virginia.


Today was going to be another easy day. Vilma had made plans for the ladies to have lunch in Old Town Albuquerque and Jim and Randy planned on going to the shooting range.




Vilma drove us down to Old Town where we met Carmen and Pat at the Church Street Café.  It was nice to spend some time engaging in girl talk for a while and enjoying a delicious meal too.  After we ate, several of us walked around Old Town visiting some of the shops.

I bought a beautiful sweater and, of course, a magnet for my daughter Kristine.  Her refrigerator has got to be approaching maximum coverage at this point with all the magnets I have purchased.  Very funny!

(From left) Mary, Pat, Carmen, Vilma and Sequin

(From left) Mary, Pat, Carmen, Vilma and Sequin

While we were having fun eating and window shopping, Jim and Randy went south of the airport to a vast area of property for the police department and the Albuquerque Gun Club.


DSC05066b“There were so many ranges at this facility that I was sort of blown away. Pistol ranges, rifle ranges, shotgun ranges and even a tunnel range,” Randy said. He went on to say, “The tunnel range allows you to sight in your gun without having any wind or ground effect.  That was pretty cool!”

“I had a great time and Jim seemed to enjoy showing off the facilities and his guns,” Jim said.

They experienced a minor problem with a newly purchased gun so after departing the range they went to see the gunsmith at a gun store where Jim purchased the gun to see if it could be repaired or sent back to the manufacturer. “The gunsmith was able to make an adjustment and told Jim to give it a try.  It was fixed,” Randy continued.

Everyone returned home and spent the afternoon just wiling away the hours until dinner time. Randy and I wanted to thank Jim and Vilma for a wonderful visit and had invited them to dinner.  Jim and Vilma chose The Range Café.

Vilma 1

Driving to the restaurant, Vilma caught a view of the Sandia Mountains bathed in a reddish hue and was so excited. Sandia means watermelon in Spanish.  When I looked out the car window I could understand her excitement.  The mountain was beautiful.



Vilma had been trying to encourage Randy and I to try eating green chiles since we arrived on her doorstep. We resisted until now.  An ordered of Green Chile Strips-breaded whole chiles served with cool, creamy jalapeno dipping sauce was brought to the table and we finally tried one.  It was delicious.  The chiles had a nice smoky flavor with a light breading and, when dipped into the jalapeno sauce was absolutely delicious.  Who knew?


Heuvos Rancheros


The Rio Grande Gorge

The first time I visited The Range Café, way back in 2000, I ordered the Heuvos Rancheros and loved them. So, I decided to order them once again.  And, once again, they were delicious.  The plate was full to the rim with two fresh eggs atop blue corn tortillas, sprinkles with white cheddar, Range Fries, pinto beans and green chili.  They were wonderful!


I wanted to celebrate Randy’s birthday while in Albuquerque even though his birthday had been earlier in the month. On his actual birthday my daughter Kara gave him a card giving him the choice to celebrate his birthday day, birthday week or birthday month.  He chose all three so we celebrated all month.  I ordered a Key Lime pie and it was delivered with appropriate candle and several wait staff singing, “Happy Birthday”.

We spent the rest of the evening time with Sequin talking about her on-going search for a place to retire. Her plan is to stay in Albuquerque for several weeks and get a feel about life in Albuquerque and see if this is a place she could retire.

We then retired to our room and finished our packing. Tomorrow we head back home with so many wonderful memories.

A bit shout out “Thank you” to Jim and Vilma. for being such wonderful hosts and showing us such a wonderful time while we were in Albuquerque. It was so good to catch up.  And, thank you Sequin for sharing time with us in Vilma’s ‘little house’ and reminiscing about old times and forging new times.  We will miss you all!!!!


The sun has set on our wonderful Albuquerque visit with Jim and Vilma but we are taking memories in our hearts that will burn bright for a very long time to come.



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Third day of our road trip reached new heights of adventure

Sandstone Bluff - El Morro

Sandstone Bluff – El Morro

Up early for breakfast, packed the car, said goodbye to our ‘funny little cabin in the woods’ and started our journey north to visit El Morro (Inscription Rock) National Monument.


It was another beautiful day with not a cloud in the sky, just blue as far as the eye could see. This was going to be a very long driving day as it would take us 5 hours to make the drive from Silver City to El Morro.


Vilma made sure we had plenty of newspaper and magazines to read and snacks to eat during our road trip. I also had my Kindle with me.  After riding for a little while I could not help but notice that every time I tried to concentrate on my reading I would put down whatever I had in my hand and just look out the window.


By now we were starting to see a few more clouds and even more as we traveled further north. The scenery was beautiful.  There were great expanses of land dotted with shrubs, grasses, trees and, once in a while, small wildflowers.


But my favorite sight was the mountains. I am a long-time city girl so whenever I see such open land I am mesmerized.  One thing that really fascinated me was the buttes that just seem to jut out of the earth into the air out of nowhere.  Some of these buttes and mountains were the color of sand, some were dark and foreboding, some were bare while others were covered in vegetation; all were beautiful in my eyes.

We continued our journey in hopes of stopping at the Catwalk Trail located in the Gila National Forest. The Catwalk Trail is a hanging walkway trail that follows the path of an old pipeline and promises beautiful sights along the walk.  The catwalk was built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Unfortunately, the recent and very wet summer caused the site to be closed for repairs.


We had been on the road for quite a while so we decided to make a quick stop. We stopped in the little town that Jim had been talking about earlier.  The town had only one stop light and was called, Reserve.  This turned out to be fortuitous for Jim as he had been regaling us with stories about a man called Elfego Baca who, according to legend, was a deputy sheriff, got involved in a standoff with local cowboys after arresting a cowboy.  The cowboy’s compatriots tried to take him back by force and what followed became known as the Frisco Shootout.

A view of El Morro about 1/4 way up

A view of El Morro about 1/4 way up

DSC04953After purchasing a few snacks at a local store we continued our journey. When we first planned this trip there was some talk about trying to see the Zuni Pueblo and El Morro.  However, when we finally arrived at the crossroads we had to make a decision.  We go left to the Zuni Pueblo or right to El Morro.  By now it was mid-afternoon and we realized that we could not do both so decided to go right to El Morro.

This turned out to be a good decision as we learned at the visitor’s center they close the doors at 5pm sharp. We watched a short video explaining El Morro and the peoples who inhabited the site and then talked to the park rangers for a few minutes.  The rangers gave us a map of the trail and we set off.




The hike up the rock would take us 200 feet off the valley floor. The trail was a mixture of ground, stone steps and walkways.  We walk about one-quarter of the way and I was already experiencing a little difficulty and stopped to make a decision.  Do I continue, or do I go back the way I came.  As Randy would say, “Again, the flatlanders had a time with the elevation”.

Box Canyon

Looking down into the Box Canyon-See the white stones on top of the rock that is where we were walking. Had to watch your step constantly.

I was so glad that I decided to continue. The views from the trail were magnificent!


Inspiration RockDSC04956

When we finally reached the top, we saw the first signs of the Atsinna Pueblo. The pueblo was discovered by archeologists in the 1950’s.  The Zuni Indians lived here and called it Atsinna, “place of writings on the rock”.  Photo to the right is a the restored kiva at the top of El Morro.


DSC04967According to the National Park Service, the Atsinna Pueblo dates back to 1275 and was about 200 to 300 feet, and it housed between 1,000 and 1,500 people. I stood next to one of the dwellings and tried to imagine what life was like atop this sandstone promontory back then.  The view was wonderful.  I found it sad that the pueblo was abandoned after only 75 years.



Walking along the top of the rock was amazing. The path was marked with little circles.  At one point we passed a few other visitors and they cautioned us that they had seen a rattle snake along the trail.  We were already watching out step, now we watched even more.




The vegetation along the trail was variety of trees including oak, ponderosa and pinion pines. I did see a few patches of small wildflowers along the trail and a large patch of prickly pear cactus.  Randy mentioned that people actually make prickly pear jelly.




We finally started our decent toward the inscriptions along the walls below. We finally arrived at the area where the  the Zuni Indians, the Spaniards, and the Americans left their marks on these beautiful walls.  The path was marked and corresponded with the trail map we were provided.  Reading these writings and seeing these petroglyphs from so long ago was amazing.  I suppose there is always an inner desire for man to leave his mark.  I for one am very glad they did.

At the bottom of this bluff is the water that sustained inhabitants of the pueblo and travelers.

At the bottom of this bluff is the water that sustained inhabitants of the pueblo and travelers.

DSC05000The reason so many stopped by this promontory was a refreshing waterhole at the base of this sandstone bluff. One of the inscriptions on the walls is, “Paso por aqui: Passed by here”. According to park literature the inscription to the left was the first Spanish inscription and was left by Don Juan de Oñate the first governor under Spain, of New Mexico.  Translated, the inscription reads, “Passed by here the Governor Don Juan de Oñate, from the discovery of the Sea of the South on the 16th of April 1605.”



We walked along the path quietly stopping to read the inscriptions. Some of the inscriptions were very hard to read having been ravaged by time and weather.  Evidently, since the 1920’s there has been an ongoing effort by park rangers to protect the inscriptions and petroglyphs.DSC04996


DSC05009bWe finally made it back to the visitor’s center just before closing. It was getting to be dinner time so we headed for Grants and a restaurant that Jim and Vilma really like called El Cafecito.  After walking up and down El Morro sitting down and having a good meal sounded really good to all of us.  As we drove along Randy said, “It was an incredible journey, but I for one was glad we did it, but glad we had finished it too!!!

What a great choice. The restaurant had recently been renovated and nicely decorated.  Our waiter was very nice and the food was beyond delicious.  This was absolutely the best to end to a wonderful day.

Our three day road trip is over and what a road trip it was. Every place we stopped, everything we did and everything we experienced will is forever etched in my mind and heart.

Tomorrow we are off to Sante Fe.



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Second day of our road trip filled with wonder and history


Gila Cliff Dwellings, New Mexico

We woke this morning in our wonderful ‘funny little cabin in the woods’ with an outside temperature of 49° and clear blue skies. The air was crisp and just perfect for a day trip to visit the Gila Cliff Dwellings.

Breakfast was a lot of fun. We spent the time eating breakfast and preparing for the day reminiscing about the good times we have shared over the past 20+ years.

As we looked around our ‘funny little cabin in the woods’, we all agreed that we had made a very good choice in housing.

Our 'funny little cabin in the woods'.

Our ‘funny little cabin in the woods’.

In the bright light of day we noticed that there were two trees growing up through the floor of our front porch. Our cabin was a two-story wood building with a ample front porch complete with tables, chairs and a large storage box filled with firewood.  The cabin was a two bedroom.  This was really funny.  When you walked in the front door you were immediately in the living room which consisted of a loveseat, sofa table and a chair and a small side table.  Immediately behind the loveseat was a queen-sized bed.  This was the second bedroom.

Cabin 1a (1)

The downstairs bedroom was delineated by a lace canopy that was nailed into the ceiling above the bed. There were also two bedside tables.  In front of the love seat was the kitchen complete with a table and four chairs, sink, stove and plenty of storage.  The kitchen was stocked with dishes, silver, coffee pot, coffee, creamer, sugar, paper goods.  In the corner of the room was a stone fireplace.

Just beyond the loveseat was a staircase to the second floor that revealed a lovely bed room with a double bed, love seat, bed tables and a door leading out to a small balcony. This little cabin was just perfect.  It was small, compact, decorated with homey touches and lent itself to intimate conversations.  We all loved it.


We finally got on the road and made our way down a windy two-lane road full of ess curves.  Randy kept looking out the windy and commenting how wonderful this road would be on a motorcycle.



The drive to the dwellings was going to be approximately 2 hours.  The road had no guard rails and was twisty as it meandered through the mountains.   We stopped periodically to enjoy the wonderful vistas along the way.



We took a few minutes to watch a video at the visitor’s center about the Mongollon Peoples who built the cliff dwellings. We learned that the Mongollon Peoples are believed to have inhabited the region from between 1275 and into the early 14th century.

Looked up to see where we were going while listening to the park ranger.

Looked up to see where we were going while listening to the park ranger.

IMG_1654We then drove a little further into the park and listened as a park ranger gave us tips on being safe as we climb the trail to the dwellings.  We crossed a small bridge and started our climb up the valley to the cliff dwellings.  The walk was fairly easy but I had to rest periodically. I sometimes have trouble catching my breath when trekking up inclines.  Of course, I had to keep in mind that Albuquerque was 5,000 feet above sea level and we were climbing even higher.  We flatlanders do struggle a bit.  The climb was not a problem for our two energizer bunny friends though.  But they were gracious and stopped once in a while to give us a chance to catch up.  This little gesture was much appreciated!


Vilma 5b


As we made our way up we came upon two women just standing on the trail. They signaled us to tread lightly as we approached.  We got a little closer and saw what they were looking at.  There was an owl high in a tree on the path.  We all stopped to take a few pictures.  We were amazed that the owl did not fly away instead just looked at us and turned around.


Vilma 2

The park ranger was kind and took a picture of our motley crew.



As we made our way up the 1-mile loop trail that climbs 180 feet above the canyon floor, we walked across uneven ground, small wood bridges and negotiated narrow ledges. Back and forth, back and forth and then all of a sudden we finally got our first glimpse of the dwellings.  I found this to be amazing.

Cliffs 2

Vilma-Cliffs 1

Had to have a selfie in the dwellings!

What was also amazing was that we were allowed to walk in the footsteps of such amazing history. We entered the dwellings and slowly walked through the structures taking care to imagine what life was like for the people who had created and lived in these amazing dwellings.  There was a park ranger in the dwellings who was kind enough to offer some insights into the lives of the early inhabitants.

Corn cobs in the basket and sticks were found in the dwellings

Corn cobs in the basket and sticks were found in the dwellings

Randy and Jim followed the park ranger into a chamber in one of the buildings.  “He actually showed us the corn cobs they found during the excavation of the dwellings,” Randy said.  The corncobs were very small and well preserved.  The corn cobs are in the little basket on the left.

Vilma - Cliffs 6

Photo by Vilma

Vilma-Cliffs 5



To come down from the dwellings we had to walk down a ladder. I looked down the ladder and then back at the dwellings and had a great appreciation for the people who lived and loved in this special place.





The walk down was a little easier and we stopped periodically to enjoy the views and watch the lizards that were scurrying across the rocks.




The park ranger  pointed Randy and Jim to a place a little down the road at the Scorpion Campground where there were more dwellings and pictographs.  “It was a short walk,” Randy said, “but well worth the walk”.  I walked to one site but my back was aching a bit so I decided to rest in the car while they went on to the second site.


DSC04896bWe stopped by the cabin for a bit before heading to Silver City for dinner. Just as we pulled in we spotted a group of mule deer grazing outside our ‘funny little cabin in the woods’.  We were so excited.  We drove as close as we could, rolled down our windows and took a few pictures before parking the car.  The deer were so busy eating they did not even notice us.  That is until Jim let out a loud whistle and they all looked up at once.  They stared at us for a bit then went back to eating.  Funny.



IMG_1701On our way to Silver City we passed a gas station where a road side stand had been set up selling ristras.  Ristras are arrangements of drying chili pepper pods.  The ristras are sometimes used as decoration and are said to bring good health and good luck.  Vilma purchased three to hang outside on her lanai and was very happy that she got them at a very good price.


IMG_1704bWhile researching where to eat in Silver city, Vilma and I had decided to try one of two restaurants. One was the Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery and the other was the Curious Kumquat. We all engaged in a conversation about having a something small to eat at the brewery and then perhaps having a larger dinner at the other restaurant.

However, by the time we reached the Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery three of us were quite hungry and decided to order sandwiches and a local beer. Randy and I had their BLT on marble rye.  It was delicious.  The bacon was thick and very crisp, the tomatoes fresh and flavorful and I just marble rye.  Yummy!  Jim and Vilma split a Rueben and loved it.


After eating we took a stroll around the town and were amazed at the fact that most of the stores and restaurants were closed for the day and it was only 5pm.  The town has, over time, transformed itself from a silver mining town, to a thriving copper mining town with the downtown filled with interesting architecture, colorful murals, galleries and a variety of eclectic restaurants.

IMG_0355b We took a few pictures and returned to our ‘little cabin in the woods’ and settled in for the evening. Randy started a beautiful fire in the fireplace and we all gathered around for an evening of reading, a little television, posting our favorite pictures on Facebook and great conversation.

One of the things I love about friendships like ours with Jim and Vilma is that it really does not matter how long it has been between visits because as soon as we get together it is like time had stood still and we picked up where we left off the last time we saw each other.  What a great day!

Tomorrow we say goodbye to our ‘funny little cabin in the woods’ and head north as Randy expressed, “to more new adventures”.



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First day of our road trip was beyond awesome!!


White Sands National Monument

White Sands National Monument

Today we were up early for the first day of our road trip to see several natural wonders in New Mexico. As we started off there was a bit of a chill in the air but the sky was beautiful with puffy, low-lying clouds.

I thought about this for quite a while and decided that I would share with you my and Randy’s observations and experiences on this wonderful trip.

We traveled down I-25 seeing pockets of small homes and trailers dotting the roadsides. The vegetation was a mix of scrub bushes, a variety of trees and cottonwood trees that were turning a beautiful bright yellow during now that fall was in the air.


Our thoughts about the Bosque del apache National Wildlife Refuge:  A note about the refuge: During the winter, over 100,000 Sandhill cranes, snow geese, and ducks fill the refuge’s wetlands and agricultural fields.

Wildlife 1

Mary—What a beautiful place to visit. We drove to a couple of flight decks and saw a beautiful landscape of grasses, cottonwood trees, marshland and mountains.


DSC04708bWe were hoping to see migrating Sand Cranes, snow geese and several varieties of ducks but we realized it was mid-day and that the weather was still warm and the birds would be coming later in the season.  Jim and Vilma had been here last November and were witness to an amazing fly-in as dusk fell on the refuge.


IMG_1605Randy–The first place we stopped was a wintering spot for many varieties of water fowl. It was very pretty and something I did not expect to see in New Mexico.  It was a bit early for the large water fowl to be there, but the Mallards and some smaller ducks were already there.  As we drove around, we saw a few road runners (beep, beep) as they crossed the road and scampered away as Mary tried to take their picture.

Back on the road we headed south towards our next objective, White Sands National Monument.  A note about White Sands: The rocks in the surrounding mountains contain gypsum.  As the mountains erode, the gypsum is exposed.  Rain and snow dissolve the gypsum.  When the gypsum-rich water gathers in the Tularosa Basin below, it is trapped and eventually evaporates, leaving selenite crystals behind.  The crystals eventually break down into bright white gypsum sand.


On our way towards White Sands we came across a huge pistachio statue outside the McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch and Arena Blanca Winery.


Mary–We just had to stop and take some pictures, and so, we did. We took a few minutes to walk through the store and were amazed at the variety of seasoned pistachios available for purchase.  Very funny.

Randy—I worked at the White Sands Missile Range for a couple of months when I was working for the Department of the Army and had always wanted to see this beautiful place. On our way there we passed a lot of pistachio trees in the middle of nowhere.  On our way we passed a lot of desert, the Trinity site where the first nuclear bomb was set off, and a very funny place that grows pistachio trees in the middle of nowhere.  They had a store with all kinds of interesting items including a wide variety of seasoned pistachios, including chilli flavored.  Note: you can get just about anything in New Mexico chilli flavored, ice-cream included!!!

At this point we all grabbed a snack, got back on the road and headed to White Sands.

Dunes 1

Mary–As soon as we pulled into the White Sands visitor’s center I knew we were in for a treat. As we drove through the area you could imagine yourself driving through an area that had just experienced a giant snow storm or arriving at a beautiful white sand beach.  It was incredible!


We drove along and a road that looked like it had just been plowed. We drove a little further and suddenly the dunes were bursting with vegetation.  As we drove a little further the vegetation lessened leaving pure white as far as the eye could see.


Vilma - Dunes 2We stopped at one point and walked along a long wooden walkway over the dunes. It was amazing.  We stopped periodically just to take it all in.  At one point we noticed a very furry tarantula walking along the ‘sand’.  On our way back to the car I noticed a group of tourists exiting their cars with snow saucers in their hands.  Vilma explained that the saucers could be purchased at the visitor’s center and tourists were encouraged to enjoy the dunes.  We witnessed many people, young and old, taking advantage of this wonderful activity.

Randy standing on top of dune his reflection in the pool of water below-Photo by Vilma

Randy standing on top of dune his reflection in the pool of water below-Photo by Vilma

Photo by Randy

Photo by Randy


We came to a stop and had a good time climbing a very large dune. When I reached the top,I was blown away at the beautiful sights that filled my eyes.  There were rolling white dunes, mountain ranges in the distance, bright blue skies filled with, sometimes menacing dark clouds and sometimes angelic white clouds.  I know that in my heart that I will return to this magical place again.


IMG_0332bRandy—What a sight!!! Huge dunes in front of us as we approached.  We learned that the dunes in some areas move up to 30+ feet every year.  But to enjoy White Sands, you must drive on the tour road and climb the dunes.  It is truly amazing to see and to be up there looking on for what seems forever white.  We saw tarantulas walking around the dunes.  We learned that they are not poisonous, but they will bite.  We had a good time watching children using snow saucers to slide down the giant dunes.


IMG_1637It was hard to leave this beautiful place but we needed to make our way to Las Cruces and the La Posta de Mesilla Restaurant.  Jim and Vilma had eaten at the La Posta the week before while they were attending a car show and were impressed with their food.

The La Posta was an interesting place to not only enjoy a good Mexican dinner but an interesting curiosity.


Mary—The interior of the restaurant was interesting. The exposed wooden beams were painted with flowers, there were murals on the walls, an aviary and two piranha fish in tanks in the front of the restaurant.  I took a look at one of the fish and noticed that his teeth were broken.  Oh, my.  Randy thought having the piranha’s in the restaurant was very, “Weird!”

It was getting late and we still had a two-hour ride to our cabin. We booked a cabin at the Bear Creek Motel & Cabin at Pinos Altos.

By the time we reached our home for the night it was 9:30pm and very, very dark. Vilma had made arrangements with the manager to leave our key on the office door.  This adorable cabin will forever be known to us all as ‘our funny little cabin in the woods’.

Tomorrow we will get a good luck at our cabin and then head to the Gila Cliff Dwellings.



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Planning a road trip on a rainy day in Albuquerque

The Owl Cafe

The Owl Cafe

Today we woke to a sky filled with thunder, lightning, rain and a temperature of 49°.

There was some conversation of Randy and Jim going to the shooting range but that was put aside because of the rain. Instead Jim invited Randy to accompanying him to his plane hangar.  Jim needed to get some paperwork done to prepare for his 4-seat Mooney airplane to go in for annual inspection.


Mary, Jim and Vilma enjoying the sites along Route 66 in 2009

Mary, Jim and Vilma enjoying the sites along Route 66 in 2009


With Jim and Randy gone, Vilma and I set about to work on our road trip. While working on our project I remembered a visit we made to Albuquerque in 2009. Jim and Vilma took us on a wonderful road trip through the historic Route 66 corridor.  We loved all the old and curious buildings that lined the streets.



We had a wonderful lunch at Kellys Brew Pub.  The pub was originally Jones Motor Company, a Ford dealership and service station that was, according to its history, “the first station westbound motorists encountered as they entered the city on Route 66”.  I remember we had their Nachos and they were delicious.


I loved this building.


But, today we were making plans to travel south to visit some of New Mexico’s beautiful wonders. It was very evident from the way Jim and Vilma spoke of their home state that they were very proud of all it had to offer and they were eager to share their love of these wonders with us.


Really? Astro-Zombies. Loved the mural on this building.

Vilma and I sent our morning pouring over volumes of New Mexico magazine reading up on places to see, places to eat and places to stay.  Evidently, this was going to be a multiple day road trip.  Eventually, our plan included stops at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, White Sands National Monument, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Silver City, the Zuni Pueblo and the El Morro (Inspiration Rock).

I must tell you I was a bit overwhelmed but I was so excited and intrigued nothing else mattered except getting on the road.

We spent quite a bit of time looking at places to stay and finally settled on a cabin at the Bear Creek Motel & Cabins in Pinos Altos.

As soon as Jim and Randy returned we showed them what we had found and asked if they agreed with our choice; they did and we finalized our plans.IMG_1597Randy cThe rain had not let up so while enjoying a wonderful lunch, Vilma perused the paper to find a movie we could all agree to. After hearing the list of movies playing at local theaters, we decided to go see The Martian starring Matt Damon.

What a great choice. We all loved the movie.  I found myself totally absorbed and eagerly awaiting the outcome.  I especially loved watching, once again, man’s ingenuity in the face of adversity.


By the time we excited the theater it was time for dinner. We headed to one of Jim and Vilma’s favorite restaurants, the Owl Café.

The menu included many traditional diner selections such as burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and blue plate specials. But, the menu also included many New Mexican specialties, exotic flavored milk shakes and, Vilma’s favorite, the restaurant’s famous Green Chilli Cheeseburger.  We found it very interesting while we were visiting just how many food items include green chillis.  They even have green chili beer.  Too funny!


DSC04662bSince I was sitting in a 50’s style diner with booths all along the walls, mini jukeboxes in every booth and a counter in the center with swivel stools I thought; what else could I order but a cheeseburger and a vanilla shake?” And, so I did.  The burger was great and the shake was outstanding!

I was blown away when the shake came.  I expected a glass filled to the top with this wondrous concoction topped with whipped cream and a cherry.  What I was served was a glass plus the stainless steel container that it was made in it with what looked like yet another glass worth of shake.  I did my best to finish it all but in the end I had to plead with Randy to help me finish it.  He did so happily.

We returned to Jim and Vilma’s to pack up some breakfast foods and snacks we would need for our road trip then returned to our ‘little house’ to watch the news and get a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we are on the road heading south.



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Flying high to Albuquerque, New Mexico to visit wonderful friends

Friends (clockwise) Mary, Jim, Vilma and Randy

Front-Vilma and Jim — Back-Randy and Mary

A friend is one of the nicest things you can have, and one of the best things you can be. ~Douglas Pagels

Today was going to be a great treat. We are off to the airport to board a flight to visit our friends Jim and Vilma in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Visiting Jim and Vilma was a treat in itself but the extra treat for today was making the trip flying in first class.

Here we are enjoying a day in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Here we are enjoying a day in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

We have not seen Jim and Vilma since they joined us on a surprise cruise on the Freedom of the Seas to celebrate Randy’s 70th birthday.   It seemed that each time we tried to get together life got in the way.  So, we were very happy that we were finally able to find a window of time to visit.

Our flight was going to be very early in the morning so we made arrangements to stay overnight and leave our car at a Ramada Hotel in Orlando. The airport was not very busy at 5am so we breezed through security and made it to the gate in no time.

Waiting at the gate

Waiting at the gate

I have only flown first class one other time in my life but it was so long ago I had forgotten how wonderful this experience could be.  Two beautiful, wide leather seats, abundant leg room (this was very important as Randy is 6’ 3” tall), trays that swung out of the arm rest and a screen on the seat in front of us.

As soon as we sat down a flight attendant asked us if we would care for a drink. I asked for a cup of coffee and waited for everyone else to board.  What a treat; I sat back and enjoyed watching the morning news as I sipped slowly on my coffee.

Before take-off the captain walked down the aisle, shook everyone’s hand and said, “Welcome aboard”. I thought that was very nice.

image2 (1)b

Breakfast was wonderful. Our breakfast was served using plates, silverware, cloth napkins and glassware.  We enjoyed a breakfast of scrambled eggs with cheese, asparagus, breakfast potatoes, turkey sausage links, a fruit cup, orange juice, and to top it off, a warm biscuit with butter and jam.  Wonderful, just wonderful!

The flight was wonderfully smooth an uneventful although we circled the airport a few times before we landed in Houston, Texas where we made our connecting flight.

Enjoying a drink before we take off on the second leg of our trip

Enjoying a drink before we take off on the second leg of our trip

On this flight Randy decided to ask the flight attendant for a Jack Daniels and ginger ale as we were boarding. I thought that was very funny. I looked over at him and said, “Well, it must be 5 o’clock somewhere”.  Unfortunately, his excitement at actually getting his drink was short lived when he had only had two sips and it was whisked away by the flight attendant as the plane prepared to take off.


Once the plane was in the air, we were served glasses of orange juice and warm, thick, delicious slices of lemon cake.


Our home away from home in the Jim and Vilma’s ‘Little House’


The second leg of our trip was as smooth and uneventful as the first. Jim and Vilma picked us up and brought us to their lovely guest house.


DSC04651We spent some time settling in to what Vilma calls their ‘little house’ putting away our luggage and freshening up.




We called and they picked us up and took us to a little restaurant called Nosh Jewish Delicatessen and Bakery on Nob Hill.

The inside of the restaurant was small and intimate with tables lined up against the walls, menus posted on the wall, and a counter where you placed your order. There are also several tables outside. We sat at one of the sidewalk tables and just basked in the sunlight of this beautiful afternoon and enjoyed our sandwiches.


After eating so much food on the plane we decided to order one sandwich and share. We chose a smoked turkey sandwich on Challa bread and potato salad.  I must admit it was hard to pass up one of the delicious desserts I saw while waiting for our meal.  But, oh well.  Our sandwiches were delicious.  As we sat enjoying this beautiful sunny day, Vilma mentioned that there were several things we could do for the afternoon but one look at Randy and everyone knew that he needed a nap.  So, we headed back to the house for an afternoon rest.

Refreshed we spent the evening catching up and enjoying a great dinner of ribs, Jim’s special beans and salad and making plans for the rest of our visit. The one idea that kept surfacing was a road trip to see several New Mexico national parks.

Tomorrow we plan our road trip.



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