Category: events


For the holidays in 2014, we trekked to Arizona to attend the wedding of some good friends. Taking a break from the cold seemed like a good idea, but that is not quite what happened.

We flew on Spirit Airlines, which was one of the most claustrophobic flights I’ve been on. I am quite petite, so that is saying a lot! However, flying on Christmas Day was beneficial as nearly everyone was in good spirits (ha ha, get it?). From Phoenix, we drove to Tucson, where we would spend the first three days.

Sadly, I caught a bad virus just before we left. In total I had two bags of cough drops and ended up with three different pills to fight the different aspects of the severe cold. I was not going to get the wedding party sick! I took the first round of pills on our way to the Saguaro National Park the morning of the 26th. The weather was just starting to drop, but the sky was still clear and sunny (when we came in, Tucson dropped 20 degrees to be between 40 and 50 degrees; not too bad but not as warm as we were expecting). The park was a great visit; we stopped by the visitor’s center and watched an introductory video, then Herr stayed for a lecture about the life of the saguaro cactus while I passed out in the car. He took a walk along some trails while I continued to stay passed out.


Luckily I was not yet on my no sugar diet, so I was able to counter balance the drowsiness effects with some Dr. Pepper to see the Desert Museum located within the park. The entrance fee was high, but the grounds included a zoo, botanical garden, butterfly house, and a birds of prey flight demonstration. So despite the cost, visiting the park and the museum are both recommended.

Sonora butterfly.

After the museum we needed to go to the resort for the wedding rehearsal since Herr was a groomsman. It was lovely, and they were friendly to me being a hanger on.

The 27th was the day of the wedding, which did not start until late afternoon, so we used the morning to go check out Biosphere 2. It seemed like visiting in the nineties would have been amazing, but right now visitors can see it falling apart a bit, a shadow of its former fame. The cost to maintain the buildings is astounding. Regardless, we learned a lot about what they were attempting to do and enjoyed walking around the facility. It was getting progressively colder though, and I regretted not having warmer clothes. Herr had to pick up a book written by one of the original inhabitants and had it finished not long after we returned, so he learned much more than I did.

Biosphere 2 ocean.

Despite the cold, the wedding was beautiful albeit small. A great setting, and the reception was great, especially once it relocated indoors. Herr even got me on the dance floor for a song or two, no small feat (get the pun?).
After that began our standard travel style in earnest. We departed for Phoenix making a stop at Casa Grande Ruins en route. In Phoenix my aunt kindly allowed us to crash at their place, but we didn’t make it there until after a somewhat expensive visit to Taliesin West (we both now know how to pronounce that correctly), one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s residences and schools. FLW has always been a person of interest to Herr, so it was worth it to see. The day was failing, but we managed to squeeze in a short stop at Goldfield, a “ghost town” that is actually quite lively. We had dinner at the saloon and had a short tour at the brothel before watching the sun set.

Casa Grande ruins.
Taliesin West.

Monday the 29th was arguably our busiest day. We departed early and stopped at Montezuma’s Castle as well as the Well. I had visited these fifteen years ago and found the castle a little underwhelming the second time. The Well, however, was still fascinating, and free! From there we headed west to see Tuzigoot, a small village ruin that sits atop a short hill. It happened to be right next to our destination, the Verde Canyon Railroad tour. We had first class tickets for this three hour trip. While it did have open observation cars that allowed for great photo opportunities, the left side of the train was mostly against rock the entire way. And once we reached the end, we just reversed back the way we came. They tried to make it more interesting by having stories and old songs playing, but I read quite a bit and Herr napped a little. I’m not sure I could really recommend it; they did fairly well for the track available.

Montezuma Castle.
Montezuma Well.
Canyon Verde Railroad.

From there we had to make it to Williams, our last stop before reaching the Grand Canyon. I recalled the road looking a bit squiggly on Google Maps when I was planning everything out, but I was not prepared for what we went through. The road snaked along mountainous hillsides with very little railing for some steep falls. Herr thought it would be fun to do all this slightly over the speed limit in the dark, to which I had to slide down in the seat and keep my eyes closed. A pretty ride if done in the day time, but not so fun at night. We thankfully made it to our motel, the Highlander (pretty nice for a motel!), in Williams right at dinner time. The town is on Route 66; a fun little addition to our sightseeing. Just a few blocks away was Cruisers, which specialized in Route 66 merchandise and so-so American fare food. It was fun to eat there despite the average dining experience. Herr had to check out the train station before we went to bed; the next day was to be a very early start so we could be to the Grand Canyon in time for sunrise.

On the 30th, we managed to leave before 6 a.m. to make the hour drive north. We arrived with 20 minutes to spare before sunrise, but this was the coldest day yet! Sitting on the edge of a canyon on some rather unheated rocks waiting for the lazy rotation of the planet to expose the sun is something best left to memory and not to be experiencing at that moment. Body parts went numb, and holding the camera was difficult at times. At one point I made it out on a rock separate from the rest of the edge, and it took me about two minutes before survival instinct kicked in and encouraged me to stay at least a foot away from the ledge from then on. Herr, on the other hand, swung his legs over with the camera just sitting in his lap, freaking me out.

Canyon sunrise.
Canyon sunrise.

If at all possible, on your trip to the Grand Canyon plan to get in a sunrise, or if not that, then a sunset. It’s worth it. Afterwards, we found the south rim’s trail of time (after a long stint warming up at the small and packed coffee shop and later the visitor center), which is quite scenic but completely without railings. Apparently several people a year fall to their doom, so I kept to the walking path for the most part. We had lunch at el Tovar Lodge , then wound down part of the Bright Angel Trail (maybe half a mile, which was much shorter than Herr wanted to go). Because it was so cold, we had trouble with ice on the path, which was also not guarded. That evening we stayed in one of the Bright Angel Lodge cabins just a few feet from the rim. I was pretty tired by then, but Herr made the effort to go see the sunset at one of the other lookout points.

Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon.
Grand Canyon.

New Years’ Eve, the next morning, left us with a big surprise. A blizzard, and a lot of fog. It was as if the clouds tried to fill up the canyon like a giant soup bowl. We had rented a Chevy Spark, so a blizzard was not very conducive to the day’s activity of driving back to Phoenix. We did try to see one more lookout point, but it was closed up and barely visible through the fog. We made it out the east gate and made the treacherous drive back south. Later we heard that the park had to close the east gate just a few hours after we made it through. Unfortunately, the blizzard closed down Wupatki, where we had planned to make a stop on the way back. Herr had started to make the turn before we realized the several mile road to the site was not plowed, and hence the car could not clear it nor was it very likely staff were at the location. So, south we went. I am glad Herr is a professional driver because we would probably have pulled over in Flagstaff and not made it back to Phoenix. But we kept on, and only about 45 minutes north of Phoenix did the snow turn to rain and eventually fizzle out.

Because of the nearly six hours of tense driving, the rest of New Years’ Eve was spent doing nothing. We went out to a local Asian restaurant and watched some “House Hunters” at my aunt’s house. We did not even make it until midnight but did see Time Square celebrations at least. Our last day was spent getting to the airport and flying back. By the time we had reached the Grand Canyon, my cold had mostly abated but Herr took it from me and had to deal with it flying back. Thankfully, we both survived the wedding without looking too ill, but it would have been nice to have had a little reprieve from the cold (both health-wise and weather-wise)!

2 on 2/2

We had our second anniversary just last week, I can’t believe it has already been two years! We had originally planned to go to Baden Baden (spa city), but we made reservations too late to get what we wanted. Instead, we went downtown and tried a new cafe, then spent a lot of money getting power tools. Oddly enough, they are still in their boxes…

Herr needed them to make my anniversary gift though. A new computer desk! Now to get the new computer… in regards to the marriage, I think we have been lucky. I think we are doing better than when we first married. Our family has grown significantly with Tommy and Ruby, and even the fish. I do miss the simpler days though.

In any case, we have had two great (and busy) years, and I know we will have many more to come. Just need to keep Herr farther away from dairy. *shudder* Anyone ever try tofu ice cream…?

Oh! That reminds me. Here is my order of favorite ice creams as they currently stand:

3. Babcock Dairy ice cream, Madison, WI
2. Spaghetti Eis, Germany
1. gelatto, Italy


Thanksgiving 2008

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving twice, one together here and on Friday we visited Herr’s colleagues in Frankfurt for a traditional meal. Because two turkeys seemed excessive, we made a non-traditional menu for ours.

Le Menu:
Braised Lamb Shanks
Carrot and Parsnip Smash
Braised Lentils
Cranberry Jelly
Baked Apples with Caramel Sauce


And yes, I baked chocolate chip cookies too. 😛 The baked apples kind of exploded (they weren’t firm enough), but still very tasty with a brown sugar, raisin, and nut mixture and homemade caramel sauce on top.


Thanksgiving on Friday consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet mashed potatoes, seasoned beans, corn on the cob, cranberries, baguette and cheese, and pumpkin pie (and an alcoholic cake) for dessert. Yes, we hurt from eating so much. 😛 I had the chance to meet some of Herr’s colleagues too, who seem to be fun people. Too bad Frankfurt’s not so easy to get to for me.

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I am already working on the Christmas menu. 😉

Birthday recap

This year was one of my better birthdays. A colleague took my closing shift, so in the afternoon everyone wished me a happy birthday with some cake then I went home to open gifts! I have quite a few blu-ray movies and the Indiana Jones Lego game now! Of course, I have to wait until the PS3 is back, but that should be soon. Hopefully. 😛

We ate at Giardinos (Italian) and walked the dogs over to the ice cream cafe. Luckily, Herr’s big gift was to arrange an exercise room! Yay! After all the goodies (and two more bbqs in the next three days…), I seriously need it. It’s set up with the elliptical, the television, and a DVD player. I nearly killed myself yesterday watching a movie while exercising. A quick jump in the sauna then shower afterwards, and I’m good!

I have been jamming to the Across the Universe soundtrack, tried reading Hans Christian Anderson in German (very funny Herr, ha ha…), wearing my new fancy bracelet (have to figure out how to put a barrette in my hair, yeesh I can be clueless) , exercising, and looking forward to movie mania and the lego ball! Thank you everyone! 😀