Saturday, October 12, 2013

On Hiatus

Dave and Val's Travel Blog will be on hiatus for a few months while Val recovers from knee surgery.  Val's arthritic knee got worse on our South Pacific Cruise last spring and it has failed to respond to non-surgical treatment.  She has had knee problems for a while and the doctors said this was the "straw that broke the camels" back so she is schedule for a knee replacement at the beginning of November.  

From what we have heard and read, it will be a slow and painful recovery so we have postponed our South American cruise and Machu Picchu trip for a year and put a hold on any future plans until we see how long the recovery will take.  The only thing we have not cancelled is a short trip to Yosemite and Lake Tahoe in early January as we hope she may be mobile enough to do this.

Although this is a short term setback it should give Val much more freedom in the future to do things without knee pain.  Hopefully her recovery will be short and we will be back to our travels in a short time.

Hi, Val here...  I would like to add that although I will be the one going through the surgery, Dave will be my caretaker, and that is not an easy task.  I know I am in good hands and hopefully my recovery will go as smoothly as it can.  I know I will have a severe case of cabin fever and will be anxious to hit the road as soon as possible so dreams of future travel will be a big motivator to get better soon. 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Geezer VI, Driggs, Idaho - The Trip Home

Everyone was up early on Saturday as we all had a long drive ahead of us today.  After some final packing and breakfast we were on our way by 8:30, a good start.  Before we left we received a phone call from John and Greg who were in Laramie, Wyoming.  This was a bit of surprise because their plan had been to drive all the way to Colorado Springs yesterday, but it turns out they had gotten into a major snowstorm which shut down Interstate 80 and forced them to find a room in Laramie.  When they talked to us things had cleared a bit and they were on their way home, but they did have a bit of an adventure.

We were driving all the way to Reno today; a distance of about 700 miles.  We did this last year and vowed we wouldn't do it again, but here we were - doing it again.  We had planned to stay in Jackpot, Nevada right on the Idaho / Nevada border, but the only decent looking hotel was sold out.  We didn't want to stay in Elko again so we decided we would once more do the long drive to Reno.  It took us about eleven hours and we arrived in Reno just before 6:00 PM.  As usual we were staying at a Harrah's property which meant our room would be comped.  We quickly checked in and after resting a bit from our drive, we went down to the casino for a while and then called it an early night and went back to our room for some welcome sleep.

To make up for our long drive yesterday we decided to stay an extra day in Reno so we slept in and then had a leisurely breakfast at the Hash House A Go Go.  The Hash House A Go Go is a glorified coffee shop noted for their huge portion sizes, but we were so hungry we both cleared our plates - this was a combination breakfast and lunch so that made it OK.  ;-)  While walking around the casino we found our favorite slot machine, the Lord of the Rings.  We spent quite a bit of time playing on them as we stayed pretty much in the hotel all day.  Val's knee doesn't allow for any extended walking so it was a quiet relaxing day.  During our play in the casino that day we had been offered a couple of free dinners at the buffet so that's where we ate dinner.  It actually was surprisingly good considering it's small size.

Sunday morning we were up and checked out by 9:00 for the trip home.  It was a surprisingly quick and easy drive and we were home by 3:00.  The end of another great Geezer Gathering.  It is so wonderful to have such great friends who you feel comfortable with and have such a good time just being together.  These are friendships that go back more than forty years and they mean a lot to all of us.  It looks like next year's Geezer Gathering may be in Taos, New Mexico as Val has found an interesting looking house for us to rent. 

As far as the next trip for us; that is up in the air right now because Val is facing knee surgery on November 5th, but I will address that in another blog entry.  That's all for now, see you on down the road.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Geezer VI, Driggs, Idaho - Friday

The plan for the day was to visit Grassy Lake, which was a drive recommended by Nick the Internet repairman.  Grassy Lake is located in a remote area north of us in Wyoming near the Yellowstone National Park boundary.  We took the same route we took on our trip to Mesa Falls last year, but it's not quite as far.  Unfortunately John and Greg would not be joining us as they left for home just after 8:00 AM.  The weather was very cold with ice and snow on the ground, but there was a partial clearing so it wasn't quite as overcast. Before we left we took these pictures of the snow blowing off the Tetons from the deck of our house.


After packing a lunch we were on our way.  We had a little trouble finding the right road, but once we did it was a beautiful drive.  As we drove up into the mountains there was more and more snow on the ground and in the trees, and we were grateful for our 4-wheel drive.  The snow wasn't too deep, and was beautiful as it clung to the tree branches and covered the ground.  The temperature stayed around thirty-two to thirty-three degrees all day, but we did get a partial clearing and had some blue sky.  The road we were on was dirt and pretty remote, we only saw one other vehicle on our journey.  When we were a couple of miles from Grassy Lake the snow got deeper and the road steeper and you could see where others had turned around so we decided to turn around too rather than chance getting stuck.  It didn't look too bad, but we don't have very much experience in the snow and if others were turning around, we thought we had better also.  We stopped and ate our lunch in the car as it was too cold and wet to sit outside.  It was a very fun and a very beautiful day. After lunch it was back down the mountain and back to the house.  Jack and Steph were generous enough to fill our gas tank for us on our way back, so thanks again Jack and Steph!!

A dusting of snow at the start of our trip.
A brief delay as a couple of locals crossed the road.

Steph and Jack

A lot of pictures being taken.

The end of the road (for us).

Tomorrow we start for home and everyone has a long drive so we started packing when we got back.  It's always sad to realize our group will all be going their separate ways, but we will gather again next year.  For dinner we ate leftovers from the previous meal ,which were still very good.  One thing we are never short of at these gatherings is food, I hope I haven't gained too much weight this week. After dinner we relaxed and made one last futile effort to finish the puzzle and then it was off to bed as we wanted to get an early start for home.

They were harvesting potatoes (we think) in the fields we could see from the deck.

The Tetons poke through the clouds on the final day of our Geezer Gathering.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Geezer VI, Driggs, Idaho - Thursday

I got up around 6:00 AM and looked out the window and everything was covered with a thin layer of snow.  I went back to bed for a little more sleep and when I got up at 8:00 it had mostly melted, but the weather was still cold and overcast.  As I said before, this weather is pretty unique for Californians so seeing snow on the ground was pretty exciting.

A dusting of snow on the fields viewed from the deck.
The Geezer house.
Today was another day of just staying around the house, Greg caught Jack's cold so now we had two people not feeling well.  The weather cleared up a bit so Val, John and I drove down to the Teton River just below the house where Jack and Steph fished last year and we walked around a bit.  There wasn't as much fall color as we had last year, but it is still a beautiful spot.

John and Val
Dave and Val

The rest of the day was spent in front of the fire reading, relaxing, chatting and working on the puzzle - not very exciting, but as I said before, just being with good friends makes it the best of times.  Steph made a meatloaf and macaroni and cheese for dinner and it really hit the spot.  It was excellent.  After dinner it started "grappling" outside.  I had never heard of grapple, but according to those from Colorado it is a term for something that is kind of like a soft hail, it's like a tiny snowball.  I thought they made the term up, but I looked it up and sure enough, it's a real term.  It came down fairly hard and covered the deck before long.

A picture of Jack and Val looking in through the window.
It's snowing!
The deck covered with "grapple".

Greg "helping" Steph get dinner.
The puzzle from hell, it was never completed.

John and Greg had some disappointing news for us as they had decided to leave a day early.  Greg wasn't feeling well due to his cold so they thought it would be best to go home.  Disappointing, but we could understand and sympathize.  Jack seems to be doing better as his cold has not been too bad, and luckily no one else seems to have caught it.  Since John and Greg were leaving in the morning we did have to shoot our annual group pictures.  Every year Val designs a Geezer T-shirt which we are all wearing in the pictures.  Val and I got everyone a pareo (a Polynesian wraparound which can be worn by both men and women) on our trip to French Polynesia so everyone is wearing theirs in the last picture.

We made our new friend who hung above the fireplace an honorary geezer.

Geezer VI, Driggs, Idaho - Wednesday

We awoke to another cold and cloudy day and they are predicting rain and snow this evening.  That didn't bother us as it makes things a little more interesting for us Californians who don't really see winter weather very often.  John, Greg, Val and I decided to drive into Jackson, Wyoming today and visit the National Museum of Wildlife Art.  Jack came down with a cold so he and Steph decided to stay at the house.

Before we could leave I had to wait and deal with the Internet repair person (Nick) who arrived around 9:30.  Unfortunately it was not an easy problem to solve as it turned out to be in the internal wiring of the house, but he finally got it working and we were on our way by 11:00 AM.  It was interesting talking to Nick while he worked on the Internet as he was born and raised in the Teton Valley and didn't plan on leaving.  His family had a cattle ranch and he certainly looked the part.  He talked about the problems with the wolves now that they had been introduced back into the area.  He said there is tension between the ranchers and the environmentalists, which is understandable. The wolves are killing the ranchers livestock. He also told us about a 4-wheel drive road that sounded interesting.

It's only about a 45 minute drive from Driggs to Jackson, but there is a world of difference. Driggs is a quiet, laid back town in the middle of rural and scenic Teton Valley, and Jackson is a busy, crowded tourist town at the edge of Teton National Park.  We decided to eat lunch at the Q Roadhouse just outside of Jackson that had been recommended to John and Greg by friends.  Unfortunately we will never know how good it is because they didn't serve lunch so we started looking for another place to eat.  Jackson was very crowded and parking was very hard to come by.  We finally found an inviting looking sandwich place with parking so we had lunch there and it turned out to be a good choice, we had a very good lunch.  It was called the Great Harvest Bread Company; they had a friendly and helpful staff and if you are looking for a sandwich in Jackson I highly recommend it.

After lunch it was on to the Wildlife Art Museum.  I am not very big on art museums, but I have found some can be quite interesting and this was one of those.  There are paintings and sculptures by over 550 artists and they are all just beautiful to look at.

Greg, Dave and John with one of the outside metal sculptures.

The museum has a great view overlooking the Elk Refuge.
The museum is built right into the side of the hill.  That rock wall on the right
is the outside wall of the museum.

After going through the museum it was time to head back to the house as it was very cold and overcast and starting to drizzle a bit.  The drive from Jackson to Driggs is very beautiful as it goes through a mountain pass with great views of the Tetons.

We got back to the house in late afternoon and John and Greg decided they would take us out to dinner, which was fine with the rest of us.  Last year they took us out to the Fuego Grill in Driggs and we had a great time.  Unfortunately when we got into Driggs we found that the Fuego Grill was closed either temporarily or permanently.  However, across the street there was a new Mexican restaurant called Agave so we decided to give it a try.  Although we didn't think it was as good as the Fuego Grill, we had a great meal and a good time. Thanks, John and Greg!

When we left the restaurant it was raining outside as we headed back to the house for dessert.  We wound down the evening working on a Teton puzzle that Jack and Steph brought and then called it a night although Jack and I sat up quite late talking as we tend to do sometimes.

Geezer VI, Driggs, Idaho - Tuesday

Tuesday was a quiet day spent relaxing and catching up.  The weather was cool and cloudy and it felt good just to sit in front of the fireplace with good friends.  The only real activity was Val and John making a trip into Driggs for groceries.  Jack and Steph grilled trout for dinner which were excellent.  After dinner we watched videos that Jack made of our previous Geezer Gatherings and I showed a couple of travel videos I put together of our recent trips.  That was it for the day, not much excitement, but a lot of enjoyment being together with old friends.

One thing that did happen was that we found that the Internet wasn't working so I spent part of the afternoon talking to the owner and then the Internet provider.  They scheduled a service call for Wednesday so that is why these blog updates are being published so late.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Geezer VI, Driggs, Idaho - Arrival

Idaho Falls is only a couple of hours away from our rental house so Monday morning we slept in and relaxed and didn't leave the hotel until eleven.  We found a grocery store and did some shopping and then met our friends (and fellow geezers) Jack and Steph for lunch.  By the time we had finished lunch it was around 1:00 and we set off for Driggs.  We took the slower, but more scenic route through Swan Valley as we still had plenty of time to get there.  The weather was mixed sun and rain, but nothing too bad for the drive.

We arrived at the rental house just before 3:00 and were met by the housekeeper who let us in and gave us a little orientation.  The house was very similar to the one we rented last year, but a little smaller and with fewer amenities.  Still it is a very nice house and looks like it will be more than adequate for our stay. A prominent feature in the living room is a very large buffalo head hanging over the fireplace.  There are large windows facing the Teton Mountain Range, the Teton Valley and the Teton River just below the house.  It is a beautiful setting for our gathering and a wonderful spot to spend time together.

We settled in and awaited the arrival of John and Greg who were driving in from Colorado Springs.  They arrived around 4:30 and our group was complete.  After a little catching up, Val prepared a hearty tortilla soup for dinner and then we settled in for the evening.  It was good to see everyone and we had plenty to talk about catching up on everything that had happened since we had seen each other last year.

The view out the front windows
The Tetons in the distance.
John and Greg watching Val and Steoh get dinner.

Val preparing her soup.
Sunset on the Tetons.