October 5, 2010

A New Home

After nearly three months of living in Chicago I have finally mustered up the motivation to update the blog. Please hold the applause. We no longer live on, or anywhere near, a Mesa....so the old name had to go. Instead, we reference what many locals proudly call The Third Coast. Living along the shores of Lake Michigan will surely provide us with windy, icy, miserable winters, but for the time being we will remain focused on summer afternoons spent staring out upon the glittering fresh water undulating under a wispy-clouded blue sky. Whatever the weather, the fact that we live in the third-largest metropolitan area in the country will undoubtedly provide us with a diversity of experiences and opportunities.

Unfortunately our computer crashed a couple of weeks ago, taking with it some pictures of our early days here in Chicago. Let this be a reminder to you, back up all of your treasured files! We were lucky to recover the photos, music, and documents that we did. This was also an opportunity for us to upgrade our desktop computer, which we gladly did, and we have been thoroughly enjoying our new Mac.

In these past several weeks we have been busy getting to know our new home, our new neighborhood, and our new city! Besides going out for meals and nights on the town; we have been catching up with old friends and family, enjoyed Chicago's Summer Street Fests (including Retro on Roscoe), saw live music, joined an open-minded spiritual community (Second Unitarian Church of Chicago), spent time in Michigan with our family, became a one-car family, and ran 5k races to support two causes we care a great deal about, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. There were TONS of people at both events, and we enjoyed doing a little running for such great organizations. Next physical challenge, climbing the Sears (a.k.a Willis) Tower's 103 floors (2,109 steps) in order to benefit the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, a "tall" order to say the least.

Here are some pictures documenting what we have been up to in our new digs...

This sign proclaims your entry into our neighborhood....Roscoe Village

Walkway to our "Coach House"

Our Coach House

Interior. Enjoying wood floors and high ceilings.

Our Composting Worm Farm!!!

EL Tracks

Our cross streets

EL Train

Race for the Cure...In honor of Anna MacDonald and Janet Pridemore!!!

We took a weekend afternoon to check out one of Chicago's Forest Preserves just a few miles from our house....Lots of green space, fishing ponds, trails, and hills.

My favorite picture on a beautiful day

Sold the Hyundai! We are now a one-car family!!!

Token Clover Picture

July 27, 2010

Sweet Home Chicago!

We have arrived! A little more than one week ago we pulled into this fair city aboard a large rental truck, and after chucking everything we owned out of the truck, and putting a few things here and there...we have a home!

We now live in Roscoe Village, which is a small neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois that is a nice blend of quiet and hip. Lots of bars, restaurants, vintage shops, etc. But not too much traffic. It takes about 45 minutes, by combination of walking and public transportation, to get Downtown. But there is SO MUCH that is SO CLOSE!

Look for new pictures (now that we have some stuff unpacked) and a new blog Name in the coming days.....Cheers!

July 8, 2010

Spring and Summer 2010

So Long to the Southwest

I write this blog post with a tear in my eye, and memories swirling around wistfully in my head. Sadly, we are winding down to our last days in the Southwestern United States, and our last days on the Navajo Nation. At the end of this week we will be packing up our home and heading back to the Midwest, where it all began. We are bound for Chicago, Illinois where we are excited to be making our new home in Roscoe Village.

After a short, but certainly sweet two years in Chinle, Arizona we are sad to say goodbye to all of the amazing friends we have made, as well as bidding a fond farewell to the grandeur of this incredible place. We feel incredibly lucky to have lived in the land of the Navajo, and to have visited so many unique and interesting features of this grand planet. We will forever remember this land. A land full of stories. A land meant for adventure.

Here are some snapshots of what we have been up to this Spring and Summer....a farewell tour of sorts.

Central AZ
Jillian, Clover and I took a weekend excursion to the Red Rock country of Central Arizona. We spent the good part of a day in and around Sedona, then drove West to Cottonwood where we set up camp in Dead Horse Ranch State Park. Lucky for us it was open, because the State of Arizona has dealt with budget shortfalls by closing many State Parks and Rest Areas. We spent the night there before heading for Jerome, Arizona one of the West's wildest mining towns back in the day. Perched on the side of a mountain, with winding narrow roads and relics from the cities wild past, it was an amazing place to see.

We then headed back east to hike on Bell Trail in the Wet Beaver Creek Wilderness. Truly an oasis in the desert, after hiking among cacti and brilliant red rock we entered the bright green riparian forest where we discovered a crystal clear creek flowing over and around the ruby red stream bed. We all enjoyed escaping the hot sun and cooling off in the shade and cool water.

Overall it was quite the weekend and we arrived back in Chinle around sunset on Sunday and kicked our exhausted feet up with visions of natural beauty swirling around in our heads.

Camp Site @ Dead Horse Ranch State Park

Sign in Jerome, AZ describing scenes from the "Wild West"

Bell Trail

Blooming Prickly Pear along the trail

Clover seeking shade

Rock, Grass, Water

Memorial Day Weekend
Our summer officially kicked off with a visit from two of our very best friends Cam and Kelly who reside in Ogden, Utah. They made the drive down in order to catch us in Chinle before moving later on in the summer. We filled the weekend with plenty of time outdoors, hiking and biking, as well as plenty of time enjoying good company and good food.

Biking the Slickrock Playground

We were lucky enough to be able to schedule a guided hike in Canyon de Chelly with Elsie.
She and her family have lived in the canyon for decades, and she is kind enough to guide the curious and willing down the canyon on trails that have been used for generations. The trail we hiked down, and back up, was called Baby Trail as seen in the picture above.

L to R: Elsie, Kelly, Evan, Cam

Canyon de Chelly

Our guide Elsie leads the way down

Exploring Three Turkeys Canyon and Ruins

Zion National Park

The view of Lake Powell from our hotel room in Page, AZ. We stopped here for a night, met Jillian's sister Anna the next day, and continued on to Zion National Park. (Sidenote: If you are ever in Page, do yourself a favor and stay at the Quality Inn ... the price is right and the views are kickin')

We stayed in Springdale, Utah and explored the canyon by taking the free shuttles into the park. It was an amazing place, and although we were only there for a couple of days we were able to see some amazing sights.

The Driftwood Lodge in Springdale, Utah... the gateway to Zion National Park.

The view from our patio at the Driftwood Lodge

We were up before sunrise to catch the shuttle into Zion National Park, and began hiking up Angel's Landing Trail.

Chained Handrails

The sun begins to illuminate the canyon walls

Steep drop-offs on either side of the trail as you approach the "landing"

Virgin River in Zion Canyon


Hanging Garden

The entrance to "The Narrows"

Anna and Jillian @ Zion

Clover cools off while we pose

Clover Drenched

Leaving the park we drove through a tunnel, which offered up some views of the park

A Last Hurrah: "Chuska Style"

Saying goodbye to our friends in Chinle was tough, but we were fortunate to go out in style with an overnight camping trip into the Chuska Mountains with the Dunstons and the Scarboroughs. Over our two years in Chinle we had some great times with Julie, Dave, Ryan, and Patricia on hikes and bikes, over beers and dark n' stormy's, inside and outside, rain, snow, and sunshine. We set up camp on friends' land and were able to enjoy some frisbee golf, great food, and a warm campfire under the stars.

Where we set up camp

Jillian gets the tent ready

Light on Water

Clover testing the water

Dave, Patricia, and Julie on the "Frolf" course

Fruita, Colorado
At the end of June I threw the bike on my care and headed up to Fruita, CO in search of what I had been led to believe is some of the best singletrack mountain bike riding in the world. I met good friends Dominic Baker and Isaac Smith and we tore up a few trails...great riding and good times.

We also headed up to Colorado National Monument one evening to catch the sunset and see what it had to offere. I was fairly impressed with the formations and the view of the Fruita Valley below.
Independence Monument

Arches National Park
On my way back from Fruita I decided to stop in Moab, Utah at Arches National Park for some sightseeing. Here are some of the pictures I took on my afternoon tour of the park.

La Sal Mountains

Sandstone Spires