Judy L's UFO Challenge

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


I guess I didn’t think of this as being a goal so there were actually five goals. I wanted to touch my toe on California soil. Why? Why not?

I love taking pictures and I love taking “artsy” pictures. That may not be the right word so if you have a better descriptor please let me know.

We left Phoenix headed for CA. Remember we unloaded the bike so now I’m the support driver. He led and I followed.

Within a very short time I wanted to get a good picture of him on the bike with the mountains as the backdrop. The key to that one good picture is taking lots of bad ones. I was extremely careful and pointed and snapped as I drove, keeping my eyes on the road.

This is what I imagined the desert to look like. All that loose blowing sand. This area was actually being cultivated so had been plowed.

We stopped for a break so here was my chance to take a posed mountain photo. The action shots are more interesting to me.

I pulled away before he did so he’d have to pass me.

Ray saw a little hole in the wall and pulled over for a food break. They had excellent burgers there. What was especially funny anout this sign is that I had asked siri repeatedly “Where am I?” She happily chirped the andwer. I’m glad someone knew where I was!

This picture was taken as we drove alongside the Colorado river. I wish that night had not been falling. I definitely want to go back and explore Lake Havasu City and the surrounding area.

We made it to Needles CA that evening. When we got up in the morning we looked around. This is the CA side. I thought I would be happy to have been to CA and continue on.

Thank goodness for a flexible trip. We explored CA a little futher. More next time!


Sunday, December 16, 2018


When I was in ABQ posting about my trip to facebook my cousin in Phoenix asked me where I was going next. I did not answer her because I was on a secret mission! As you saw last time we did head to AZ but to the north.

In the pictures from my last post you could see the wide open spaces. At one point I caught Ray looking off in the distance. I asked him if he was out riding his horse across the open range. After a pause he said, wistfully, yeah. I told him me too! LOL

After leaving Williams we turned south toward Phoenix. We drove south through the Verde Valley. We would descend about 5000 feet in altitude over a 170 mile distance. It is hard to tell from the pictures but the roads were steep and winding. I was not super comfortable because in addition to that the sun was in our eyes as it was setting and there were signs to watch for elk all along the highway.

I had been to Phoenix before and remember my friend telling me about the Saguaro cactus. I knew to watch for it’s appearance. I was not disappointed as soon, they were everywhere you turned.

I had been to Sedona on that previous trip but we chose to continue on to Phoenix. If you get the chance to visit Sedona I highly recommend it.

Another beautiful desert sunset.

I did not recall seeing palm trees last time. They are everywhere! I just laughed upon seeing them. Not sure why I was so amused.

We found a Harley shop the next morning and they unloaded the bike for us. What an awesome service. Ray was going to try to find helpers and brought his ramp but I suggested we check out a shop. Working smarter not harder!

Happy biker! His helmet was in the truck and he put it on after this picture.

I had spent that morning setting up some meet ups. After unloading the bike we went back to the motel. An online quilting friend came and picked me up to go quilt shopping. We found a few shops and I found a few things I didn’t know I needed. She was driving so I was able to snap a closeup of this cactus that was in the median of a residential area.

My friend brought me back and Ray and I went to meet another friend I had first met in Phoenix many years ago. We had lunch and got caught up and reminisced about that previous visit

She invited us to go shooting with her. We happily accepted. I had never been to a shooting range before. It was quite the experience. I have shot guns before but never in an enclosed space. We shot for a bit and she took us back to our motel.

Remember the goals and secret mission thing? Well my goal (#2) was to surprise my Aunt Betty with a visit. I lied to my cousin and told her I needed her address to send a package. She gave it to me without question.

I texted her and let her know the package was going to be delivered and would she be home. She said she would.

We drove to her house and parked. I walked to the front door and called my cousin to ask if she had gotten the package. I heard her ask her daughter to check. When her daughter opened the door she was startled. I motioned her to not say anything and told her who I was. I asked her to take me to her mom.

When my cousin saw me she told me she had a feeling I was coming. I asked her to take me in to my aunt.

My aunt sat and stared for a minute. I heard her say my name as soon as she realized who I was. I had brought her the quilt below not knowing purple is her favorite color. We grew up in a dairy farm community and I told her the cow print was to remind her of home.

I had not seen her since my mother passed 5 years ago. I remember it was hard for her to travel then. My uncle, her brother, passed away earlier this year and she could not travel to his funeral. This was the reason it was so important to me to go see her. I felt her getting to see some extended family might bring her some happiness.

After talking with her and reaching out to some other family members so that she could get some news she wanted to hear, I went into the other room with my cousin to talk.
Of course we told all the old familiar stories. I said that I needed to go say goodbye to my aunt and started to cry.

It’s increasingly difficult to watch family members age and pass away. I have one other aunt still living. I am so happy that I have stayed in touch with them even after I moved away.

OK let’s end on a happy note. This is a golf car, not a cart. There is a suburb of Phoenix where these are street legal and you see them out driving in regular traffic. I was a little startled at first and was told that those that drive these are a little crazier than other drivers. You have to really watch for them because they dart out into traffic and assume they always have the right of way. Wow!


Thursday, December 13, 2018

Westward Ho!

We left ABQ and headed west to Arizona. We tossed around ideas about where to go to next. He suggested the Grand Canyon but I had already been to the south rim so I tried to persuade him to go to the north rim later in the trip. He won so we headed to Williams.

As we started crossing from New Mexico into Arizona the landscape started changing. We started seeing mesas...

And buttes....

We found pinion nuts for sale! I had never had them before but had my doubts about freshness.

Another beautiful sunset.

We made it to Williams and spent the night. The last time I went to the Grand Canyon we took the train. It was fun but we opted to drive this time.

While driving through town we spotted this sculpture of an elk family.

We drove north and took the usual touristy photos.

The mules used for the cabyon tours.

We spotted these on the way back and think they are for backup.

This peak is part of the San Francisco mountains in Flagstaff. It was interesting to see the accumulating snow.

We headed towards our next goal after leaving the canyon. More to come!


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Mission Accomplished

I moved to Texas in 1985. I don’t recall which year we started going to the State Fair but it could have been that same year and then every year since except two. Pregnancies and Texas heat don’t mix. We met Tom the horned toad man at the fair.

He is a sculptor that makes pewter horned toad figurines. He has a lot of variety in what he sells. His figurines represent every variety of horned toad and he sells them both in pewter or hand painted. I have bought everyone he has had on offer since I met him.

One year he said come out for a visit, I’ll put you to work in my shop. It is hard to know if these offers are sincere. He repeated that offer again and again. Then my husband fell ill and eventually passed. I continued going to the fair and saw Tom. Ray came into my life and met Tom. Again, Tom made the offer.

Not too long after that we went to see Tom and he had lost a lot of weight. I asked about his health and he assured me he was great. The thought was in my head, we don’t live forever. Ray’s health hasn’t been great and mine is ok but I have my struggles. I told Ray this was the year, we were going!

We went to see Tom and made arrangements to contact him when we were on our way. We did that and set a time. We showed up at his house at the appointed time.

We got a quick tour of the living room and kitchen/dining area. He showed us some of his early work and some of his collection. It was interesting to hear that what really got his clientelle excited was the addition of a baby horned toad next to an adult.

Tom told us he had a sanctuary where he keeps convelescing lizards. He has had injured and starving that he has cared for.

He has two of these structures. Even though the weather had turned cooler one of his lizards was still out and active. My first time for seeing a real live horned toad!!

I was like a kid at Christmas giddy with excitement!

We then moved to Tom’s workshop. He walked us through the entire process explaining each step. He then put Ray to work doing the pouring steps and cleaning the pieces. He offered to let me as well but my balance isn’t the best and I didn’t want a liquid metal accident!

After working in the shop Tom took us to his office and showed us the rest of his collection. The item you see in his hand is a flute made in Mexico or Peru. It’s a hirned toad of course! Just above that is a box of chocolates he had commissioned. They had been handled a lot so we did not get a taste. Darn!

As we left we got on the topic of pinion nuts. Tom has a tree in his front yard. We got the run down on crops and harvesting and eating!

We parted company and left to resupply for our continued travel. I thought the shot below was perfect for Veterans day. You can also see the snow on the mountain.

More to come!


Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Albuequerque, NM

Remember those four goals? We are getting closer to the first one!

Saturday we left Tucumcari. It started a joke for the trip. “Look honey, a smoke signal!”

We started heading for ABQ. Ray had lived here and went on and on about the tram. I started googling it to see where we could fit it in. As we got closer we could see the Sandia’s growing on the horizon.

Driving into them was equally awesome. So many textures and colors. I took thousands of pictures. Of course pictures do them no justice!

We got to the hotel and were at the foothills of the mountains. Look at that fall color! That was the view from in front of the hotel.

As we were driving I was posting pictures on facebook and the questions of where we were headed flowed in. A lady that I have known for many years reminded me that she lived there. We made arrangements to meet for breakfast the next day. Another lady I had met earlier this year was away on her anniversary trip and would not be back until after we left. She did fill me in on all her favorite quilt shops. Finally, a man I worked with many years ago, who now lives in Santa Fe, agreed to meet us the next day for lunch.

We spent the rest of the day visiting several quilt shops and picking up row by row license plates. We researched the tram and found out it was closed for maintenance until after we had left.

The next morning I met my online friend for the first time. She brought her boyfriend with her. We talked about kids, quilts, jobs and our men. It was really great to meet them. We asked them about things to do while we were there. We talked about the tram and how to get to the top by car. They gave us directions to the mountain road.

We parted company and headed to a Harley shop they mentioned. It was named Duke City. Of course we had to get a shirt since that is our dogs name.

We found the mountain road but missed the turn so continued on to Madrid. This was the film location for Wild Hogs. Of course we stopped at Maggie’s. It was a restaurant in the film but in real life a souvenir shop.

After souvenir shopping we continued on to Sante Fe via the back roads to meet my work friend. A snow storm was blowing in.

We talked for hours. It was like we had just seen each other the month before. My friend had an appointment to get to so we headed back to ABQ. This time we took the highway because it had started snowing.

You can see the snow accumulating on the mountain.

We made it back before the snow was too heavy. When we got up in the morning I hurried out to see the snow on the mountain.

This is the same view I showed earlier from in front of the hotel. Who stole my mountain?

I was pleased with the many bonuses of meet ups and finding sights to see that we had not planned on.

More to come.