Yellowstone National Park – in winter (part 2)

In part 1, we briefly describe getting to the Old Faithful Snow Lodge in Yellowstone National Park in Jan 2019. Now lets look at the next 2 days.

Something I forgot the mention in the other post – we arrived during the government shutdown (wiki page) so the visitor center was closed. Restrooms at most stops were closed as well. The hotel and shuttles are managed by an outside organization, hence the reason they were open.

Yellowstone National Park Visitor Center at Old Faithful – CLOSED during our visit due to government shutdown.

We stayed at the Snow Lodge for 3 nights. Our last night was “exciting”. The heater system broke and wouldn’t turn off. Our room was unbearably hot! John went down to the front desk about 4 am and was told our entire wing was affected. Windows wide open when temperature was about 0 F.

Other than that, our stay was very relaxing. Each room has a mini fridge. No microwave or television! We knew this ahead of time and packed a few games and cards. The lobby is set up so you can relax with your family, near the fireplace or overlooking the lobby in the “balcony”. There is also a skating rink!

Skating Rink

Day 1 John and Kiddo took a snowshoe tour of the Old Faithful area – they ended up being the only participants so had a “private” tour. I enjoyed sitting by the fireplace and reading my book.

Speaking of Old Faithful, there were times we were the only ones out there to watch it spout steaming hot water.

Day 2 we took an afternoon wildlife tour. Many of the animals had been seen on the ride in. It was nice to venture out in the shuttle vehicle. There were more stops and information provided about the animals than on the ride in. It also was warmer – a whooping 10 F on this day.

I found it interesting how they use their head to move the snow to get to the grass below.

Day 3 our shuttle back to Mammoth hotel started the process from the Snow Lodge about 7 am. Again, the driver/guide provided plenty of info and a potty break on the 4ish hour ride.


Yellowstone National Park – in the winter! (part 1)

So I decided to do some photo decluttering on my phone. As I was going through, I found the pictures from our trip to Yellowstone National Park. We took this trip January 2019 and somehow never wrote about it. Go figure! So over 3 years later, here are some of the highlights of the trip!

Donner Pass overlooking Donner Lake, California 29 Dec 2018 – our drought is very evident! This is the infamous area of the Oregon Trail Donner party. (Link to wikipedia page)

Donner Lake, 29 Dec 2018

We arrived at the Mammoth Hotel 2 Jan 2019 for a 7 am check in. The hotel itself was not open but the lobby was open for those catching the shuttle to the Old Faithful area. The shuttle holds about 10 people. Your luggage is put onto a different vehicle and is at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge when you arrive.

To reserve the shuttle, you have to have hotel reservations. The same goes for reservation times to eat in the dining room.

By car in the summer (assuming no traffic or stops), this drive takes about 1.5 to 2 hours (50ish miles). This ride took us 4ish hours. The driver/guide made several stops along the way for sightseeing and a potty break.

Here is the shuttle John remembers as a kid visiting Yellowstone in the winter. A company for day trips is still using them!

Below is some of the wildlife (that we got pictures of) and of the scenery on the way to Old Faithful.

The coyote was hunting and we all stayed in the shuttle to watch. It eventually leaped and pounced head first into the snow. It was then chomping on something it caught under the snow. What an amazing experience to witness!!

Fancy Friday – Sept. 17

Just a little behind on posting things like this. We ate on the patio! We also used Mom’s china and crystal and my sterling.

Here is the Fancy Friday picture and one from years ago before we started updating/upgrading/cleaning up the back yard. Not quite the same view but you can definitely tell we’ve made progress!

Ube Cake Experiment

We experimented and made ube cake. We purchased the ube extract and powder online and used betty crocker gluten free yellow cake mix as the base. It has a pretty purple color and the taste was ok – not great, not bad. We think making it gluten free with the yellow cake mix might have affected the flavor more than we expected.

Here’s what it looked coming out of the oven. The top didn’t change at all after baking. We topped it with white buttercream frosting. Not weight loss friendly!

Spring Break Decluttering 2021

Spring break has sprung! John was off 3 March to 19 March. Barb was off 22 March to 26 March.

In the last 28 years, we have had spring break together TWICE! It will be nice to have spring break together next year. Why you ask – John is RETIRING in June! No more trying to coordinate schedules for holidays, vacations, etc!

Basically, all we did were chores around the house when we weren’t relaxing and taking a quick trip to visit the grandbabies!

And what is a spring break without some decluttering?!? Can you tell I was playing with the picture collage app??

  • a few clothes and shoes
  • knickknacks
  • books
  • computer case
  • puzzles
  • unused candle

Fancy Friday 12 Mar 2021

I am really enjoying our restful fancy Friday dinners – I don’t even mind washing the good china and silver afterwards.

Tonight’s menu: Grilled chicken, roasted acorn squash, and Pineapple Passion rum punch! I know, not the combination you would find at a fine restaurant but it works for us!

I think the acorn squash is just about out of season but the rum punch never goes out of season! We experienced this punch at the Kilohana Plantation in Lihue, Kauaʻi several years ago and recently found a local distributor. They also have great food here!

Better than Fancy Friday 19 Mar 2021

We are eating dinner tonight with the grandbabies! Now that we are both vaccinated and kiddo #1 received her first shot, they invited us up for the weekend. No pictures but I will tell you it was a WONDERFUL experience!

While there, I got to take Grandkiddo #1 to her “ballet” class. Here’s a picture of her being a ribbon dancer! It was a tad chilly outside for class.

July 2020 in Isolation – we had to escape our house!

As you have noticed, I haven’t written about July. So much has been going on so here’s the recap since the last post.

We bought Pedego bikes!! These electric bikes are awesome!! See below.

We also: (posts will follow soon!)

  • We went “camping” in Watsonville, California.
  • We went camping at East Fork/Rock Creek area near Mammoth Lakes, California.
  • We’re getting things ready for Kiddo #2 to move back in. More decluttering!
  • We’re getting ready to do distance teaching!

On our trip to the Bay Area (CA) to visit Kiddo #1, Grandkiddo #1, and Kiddo-in-law, we took the bikes and logged 15 miles going to the park and the BART station to watch trains with Grandkiddo. It was an amazing 5 days with them over the 4th of July weekend.

The bikes have pedal assist. If it senses you need a boost (because you slow down while pedaling I think), it gives you a little extra. You can also use it as a non-pedaling electric bike. We played with that feature but don’t really use it. The point of the purchase was to get us moving. Pedal assist is enough for us.

It handles sloped areas well and really rides nicely on flat streets. We went on a few hills while camping and it went well. It was the first time on bikes for both of us in about 25 years so there was a slight relearning curve we had to deal with. Overall, I would highly recommend the bike.

Grandkiddo, who is now 29 months, was in awe of the motorhome parked in her driveway. You should have seen her face when the walls moved out! She even got to take a small ride around the block as we were getting ready to attach the car. MIND BLOWN!!

  • “your house has wheels!?”
  • “your house can move?!
  • “my house doesn’t go bye-bye.”
  • “I want to use your potty.” [her mommy said she had to potty in her house.]

I so wish we could have taken her with us to Watsonville.

Happy Birthday Hubby!

Today is Day 95 of Isolation and John’s Birthday!!

We celebrated at home – duh! It is the first time in YEARS thanks to the pandemic.

John requested bison burgers, baked beans, and chocolate cupcakes for his birthday dinner.

The ground bison was available at the local health food store. It made great patties and were cooked on the BBQ. Served lettuce wrapped.

I used the instant pot to make the beans this time. They tasted a little different but that could be the recipe wasn’t the usual one. I tried one I found online for the instant pot.

These are gluten free cupcakes I made and boy, are they yummy! I made buttercream frosting to put in and on them. Sorry, no pic of the finished product. Just trust me when I say I’m glad it only made 6!

It was a great day to turn 64!

Days 89-91 of Isolation – not what we planned

We were supposed to be in Glacier National Park – instead we went to Prado Regional Park. Definitely not what we planned! COVID sure is putting a crimp in our summer plans! Not sure we are going to make our goal of 20 public parks and/or 20 nights in public parks during 2020. 3 nights of our 20 complete!

The National Park refunded our reservation money about a month ago when it was decided they would not be open this week for camping.

Prado Regional Park is in the southwest corner of Chino, California. It has full hookups (meaning we have water, electricity, and sewer connections), most are long pull-through sites with asphalt pad for parking. A concrete patio area with picnic table and fire ring is also at each site. Cost is $40 per night. The sites are pretty far apart. Good AT&T cell reception.

** 11/2020 – the lake is contaminated and no water activities are allowed until further notice. Please check their website for more information.

South view shows neighboring site and local mountains.
North view from same location, showing patio area and nearest neighbors.
West view showing location of closed bath house and distance of neighbors in that direction. Washer and dryer available for use at bath house.

From their web site: “This park is loaded with outdoor recreation and adventure offering, fishing, camping, hiking, biking and nature trails, splash pad, disc golf and outstanding picnic facilities are just a sampling of what this park has to offer.

A unique feature of Prado is that it has a meeting room that seats 80 people and is ideal for club meetings, parties and receptions.

Additional activities at the park include two 18-hole golf courses at El Prado Golf Course, an Olympic shooting range at Shoot Prado, an equestrian center at Prado Park Equestrian Center and an archery range by Oranco Bowmen Archery Club.”

We had a unique easterly view. Mid-afternoon on Wednesday a small fire started in the equestrian/hiking area. 28 acres burned. Pictures show progression and how close it was to us. Friday morning John saw a deer going towards the river in this area.

My only complaint about this park has to do with the bugs. It is near a wilderness area and has its own “lake” so the mosquitoes and other biting bugs are plentiful. I really don’t like to use bug spray but you really should at this place!

Now I’m off to do laundry – too bad “vacation” doesn’t include a respite from these kind of chores!

May 2019 Decluttering Update

So with all that has happened, you would think we wouldn’t have time to declutter.  Not only did we declutter 81 items but we went camping one weekend with friends and babysat for a 3 day weekend.

Grandkiddo got to do things with us she NEVER gets to do with parents – watch Finding Dory with Deda, ride in the back of the shopping cart, and pet a bear (granted it was dead at the Wildlife Center)

New Phototastic Collage 3New Phototastic CollageNew Phototastic Collage 2

Decluttering Update March 2019

I can’t believe another month has passed!  We’ve been taking little trips and really need to write about those.  This has got to be the best part of a decluttered home!

Cleaning hardly takes any time.  Laundry is now put away when it comes out of the dryer.  (I am guilty of leaving it in the dryer longer than I should!)  This almost seems like it should be a separate post!

On the decluttering front, we removed 28 items in March.  Our 2019 total is now 392 items!!

Some of the stuff removed:  holey shorts, holey tshirt, DVD player, receipts, loofah, calgon (really, when was the last time I took a bath?), empty lotion, candy found under the bed, empty box found under the bed, empty docking station box (from John’s work, why under our bed??),  book (yes, I know I already took a picture of it but it came back!  Why do people return things when you say they don’t have to??), tea strainer, weird spork.





It’s Been A While!

I sat down this afternoon to write a quick post about the couple of things we decluttered recently and to catch up on reading blogs I follow.  I realized it has been about 3 weeks since I wrote a post and even longer since I did any post reading.  What have I been doing????  It doesn’t seem like we’ve been busy.

  1.  We went camping 2 weekends – 11/2 thru 11/4 and 11/9 thru 11/11
  2.  We went to the desert for Thanksgiving, leaving on 11/17 and returning home 11/24 – another weekend away.

Well, no wonder it seems like we haven’t been home much lately to read blog posts!  3 of the 4 weekends we were gone.

Since we decluttered the stuff from the house, all of those weekend chores have been reduced!

  1. Cleaning takes SOOOOO much less time.  Who knew cleaning would be quicker and easier if we decluttered the stuff?  Ok, maybe a lot of people but we are slow learners!
  2. Yard work has been streamlined.  Having the state impose strict watering requirements was an incentive to streamline by removing grass and replacing with slow-growing drought-tolerant plants and pavers.


Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day!

As you know, we occasionally look at the Days of the Year website to see if there is a “Day” we want to celebrate.

Today is “Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day“!  Now how can anyone question this???

This day was started as a way to raise awareness for childhood cancers.

“Life’s short, eat Dessert First” is a phrase that has been bandied about by a lot of people for reasons both flippant and serious.  Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast Day is one of the more serious, serving to increase awareness about childhood cancer.  For children for whom every day is a blessing, it only makes sense to indulge in life’s little pleasures, and Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast day brings that opportunity to everyone.  Here is the link to their website.

So about 9 am we saw this; about 10 am John went to the store to get ice cream, bananas, and whipped cream; about 10:45, we are sitting down to breakfast!  (there is ice cream under the whipped cream!)


May 2017 Update

Can you believe May 2017 is over???  This month flew by!  We have some great memories of this month!  We also spent more than anticipated celebrating!!  That’s ok – it was money well spent!

Kiddo #2 graduated from Medical School!!  We are so proud of her accomplishment!   She and Barb drove across the country to move her new apartment (and official first full-time job) in sunny southern California!  They drove 3 days covering 2700 miles towing a 5×8 uhaul trailer with all her belongings.  Guess that would qualify as minimalist living – she will have more space in an one bedroom place now.  She felt having a “real” job means she doesn’t need to live in a studio any longer.  Look – they even gave her a “physician” parking permit!  How exciting!!

IMG_3948 (3)_LI

Both kiddos are in the same time zone as us!!  We are so excited!!

During May we decluttered 30 items – not much but Barb was still recovering from her illnesses and we celebrated a graduation on the other side of the country.  Total so far this year – 687 items removed from our home!!  Now we are “cheating” a little on these numbers this month – kiddo #2 did take with her 8 items: 3 blankets, 1 “big-ass draft” beer stein from the local bar in her college town, 2 reusable water bottles, 1 dresser (so sad to see it leave, it was in the nursery before we even brought kiddo #1 home), and 1 end table.

Some other stuff to leave this month:


It’s beginning to feel like we are really getting close to finished.  It’s weird to look at the house and not see all that needs to leave.  We are feeling so relaxed in our house!  There are still “tons” of pictures in boxes in the closet.  Guess I know what I’m doing (maybe) when we return from vacation!

Yummy Margarita!

We tried a new Margarita recipe from the Food Network this afternoon for “cocktail hour” at home.  It has a subtle spiced undertone and is WONDERFUL!!


Here’s the recipe:

Harvest Margarita

Total Time: 1 hr 15 min
Prep: 10 min
Inactive: 1 hr
Cook: 5 min

Yield:1 serving

2 ounces tequila, such as Patron reposado tequila  (we used Patron)
1 1/2 ounces chilled Spiced Simple Syrup, recipe follows
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Few dashes bitters
Lime wedge, for garnish (we didn’t do this)

Spiced Simple Syrup:
1 cup sugar
8 whole allspice berries
8 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
1 -inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

Combine the tequila, simple syrup, lime juice, bitters and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake for 10 seconds. Serve straight up or on the rocks with a lime wedge for garnish.

Spiced Simple Syrup:
Combine the sugar, 1 cup water, allspice, cloves, cinnamon and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook until the sugar is completely melted. Remove from the heat and let steep for 1 hour. Strain into a small bowl, cover and refrigerate until cold.

Recipe courtesy of Bobby Flay
© 2016 Television Food Network, G.P. All Rights Reserved.

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