Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Ranch Tres Palomas

The ranch we stayed at was on this dirt road. It is plowed from time to time because the wind causes the sand to accumulate.

The Neill men on the Ranch
Me and my two boys

This is some of the food we ate. Tom and I made breakfast every morning, and our sons and Danielle made dinner every evening. We had wonderful meals. Here are some samples.

All in all, in spite of challenges in our health, we had a wonderful week together!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Joshua Tree: Day 6

Today is the last day of our vacation. Seth said he felt so comfortable being here together that it seemed we could just go on living like this for who knows how long. I like that sentiment.

We had a lazy breakfast and left for our last day of excursion. We wanted to do so much but so limited in time.

We headed for the Fortynine Palms Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park, one of the final destinations of our trip.

Seth told us about Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture. Although it would be closed and it was getting dark, we decided to go. I have never seen anything like this. Each piece is so large that it needed to be displayed outdoor rather than indoor.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Joshua Tree: Day 5

This morning Christian came down with a virus. So Danielle is the only healthy one. Tom opted out of today's outing to get some more rest, and Seth decided to work at home.

So today it will be me, Christian, and Danielle. I cannot miss out on the sun and the beauty that awaits me even if I am still under the weather.

Funny, we all thought we would be having outings in other areas besides Joshua Tree. There are bends and turns that one could not anticipate. Yet I am loving every moment here with Tom, my sons, and Danielle.

Christian and Danielle really wanted to climb Ryan Mountain, which I did yesterday. The second visit was just as impressive. I still needed several stops to rest! I loved this hike just as much as yesterday's.

The sides of the mountain at this point looked like the boulders had stopped in the midst of the momentum of rolling down the hill and froze in time.
So glad that Danielle took so many great photos.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Joshua Tree: Day 4

It is ironic that Tom, myself, and Seth were the ones to go for an outing today, since we are the three who have been sick. We were feeling somewhat better but still sick. Christian and Danielle were deeply engrossed in prep for their project due tomorrow and decided to spend another day working.

We climbed Ryan Mountain, which is 5457 feet high. The trail to the summit was 1.5 miles long. I have never experienced such exhaustion on a hike of that length. I had to rest at least four times before I reaching the top.

The stone steps sometimes were so steep, just trying to climb several left me breathless. This was a stark contrast to hiking five miles in the woods in Goshen, Indiana, which makes me feel fully satisfied with my exercise for the day.

This is how the trail started. It seemed like the gentle slope of a garden.

Who would have thought that growing old together could be so much fun!

A view of way below us as we climb higher—those little bumps in the back are mountains as large as this one we are hiking.

Seth, my younger son, whom I see only once or twice a year.

The path is getting steeper, and rocks on the trail are more part of the mountain itself, sharper and harder.

Almost to the top...

Come on, you can do it...

Tom helped me up the last leg of the journey.

We made it!

A little mound to show you reached the summit.

Vegetation at the top.

Just to make it official...5457 feet high!

Here's Seth's description of today's hike up the mountain: "After spending some time exploring the huge granite boulders at the foot of Mt. Ryan, we started up the trail to the peak. It wound around the mountain so that at first we got an increasingly grand view of the enormous boulder piles that clumped into a boulder mountain to our north. The higher we got, the more snow we saw. We passed around bends that would expose totally new views across the plains to more rows of tan, pink, and blue mountains. Only at the very top did we leave the shade of the highest peak. Half the horizon came into view for the first time, a massive mountain range in the western distance emerging from clouds, and flowing ranges and plains of different elevations across the southern horizon (including the low Colorado desert we visited yesterday). From the very top, we could see in every direction, and the low sun only exaggerated the enormity of the view. The joshua trees and cactii disappeared at that height, showing all the land."