Elche, Spain

Welcoming 2023 with a beautiful sunrise over the Mediterranean.
The Via Augustus roman road led us to Elche.
Elche has a long history so we headed to the Archeology Museum.
A large sculpture of the Dama de Elche is outside.
The real one is in the National Museum in Madrid but this is the replica. Scholars think it was painted in multiple colors which we saw in another section of the museum.
Elche is also a UNESCO world Heritage site for the ancient groves of date palm trees.
The doves and pigeons seem quite content to make this their home.
A few miles south is the Natural Park El Fondo where we walked over the Salt Marshes.
There were several of these red-knobbed coots – a Eurasian water fowl.
Enjoying the Peñón de Ifach as we near our balcony in Calpe for Wine O’clock.

L’Escala, Spain Revisited…

L’Escala Apartment In Front of the Sea looked the same after we were gone for 996 days waiting for our return so we could continue our Spain vacation.
Henry guarding the keep at Torre Montgo. He could see the Barbarian approaching for miles. Our previous pictures of L’escala.
There is a beautiful cove and the Platja de Montgo on the other side of the tower. We decided to walk to the cliff on the other side.
Looking back from Cala Mongo
Beautiful Bay of Roses from Punta Ventosa.
What does the sea look like down there? From Punta Ventosa.
The Seagulls look different with a black and white tail.
We enjoyed a walk around the marina and especially the old fishing boats.
Walking back along the shore and the Reilles beach is The Little Prince reminding us that what we tame is important to us.
The city of Emporion on the Bay of Roses off the Mediterranean Sea is where the Greeks first landed on the Iberian peninsula.
The Ruïnes d’Empúries shows many different centuries of Greek building.
Asclepius is the god of medicine and this replica looks over his temple –  and the Greek Ruïnes d’Empúries
The real marble carving is inside the museum with a 3D computer recreation movie of Empúries as it looked in the 2nd century BC.
This incredible roman mosaic  (each piece smaller than the end of your pinky) from the 1st century BC depicts the myth of the sacrifice of Ipigenia.
So the Romans drove out the Greeks and built their larger city adjacent but inland to complete the archeology Ruïnes d’Empúries.
This is part of the Roman city with baths, mansions, mosaic floors and all sorts of interesting architecture.
This is a small Roman courtyard in one of the massive mansions.
The edge of the city has a concrete wall which was one of the earliest examples of Roman concrete we had actually seen.
Sunrise on the Mediterranean is a great way to celebrate the winter solstice.

On the road to Arkansas

After a few weeks of enjoying the comforts of home…
We started a trip to Florida –  glad for the dry roads near South Fork.
Capulin Volcano National Monument (NM) was our first lunch stop.
We walked the rim of the cauldera.
We camped at Clayton Lakes State Park with these amazing dinosaur tracks.
After a great dinner/camp with family, we paid our respects to Oklahoma City National Memorial honoring the lives lost April 19,1995.
We spent the night at Chickasaw National Rec Area. We are going to follow the sad trail to Shiloh. Such tragic history to displace people from their home land.
Historic Washington State Park in Arkansas had this magnolia tree planted in 1839.
Bois D’Arc Lake near Hope after visiting President Clinton’s boyhood home.
We enjoyed relaxing and watching the sunset on Bois D’Arc Lake.
We walked around the grounds of President Clinton’s library in Little Rock on the Arkansas River.
An interesting art exhibit of climate change globes like this on pollinators.
We drove by the 1915 state capitol, a replica of the national capitol.Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site commemorated the bravery of black students that were our nation’s first to desegregate here in 1957.

Muskegon, MI Area with Mom

Japanese Garden area in Beautiful Mejeir Gardens near Grand Rapids was our first stop taking Mom on a mini-vacation.
The Zen garden with wonderful raked patterns
There are a lot of sculptures that are a permanent collection.
Appreciating all the colors on a warm autumn day.
Mom with Deborah Butterfield’s Cabin Creek bronze horse looking very natural in the tall grasses.
Sunset from our suite at Shoreline Inn in Muskegon. Mom had lots of reward points that were expiring so we stayed in style. Thanks Mom!
Mother and Daughter at Holland State Park.
We had a great day-trip to Holland and enjoyed many of the waterfront areas.
Sunset on Lake Michigan before returning to the hotel.
A day-trip to Grand Haven to enjoy another light house along Lake Michigan.
Artistic angle as we walked under the catwalk to the end of the pier.
Picnic lunch along Grand Haven River before it empties into Lake Michigan.
The restaurant patio at the hotel looked very inviting so we went down for an early dinner.
Look at the whitefish dinner. WOW. Gorgeous and Yummy. Enough for leftovers the next night.
Another sunset at Pierre Marquette city park in Muskegon.
Our next day trip was heading a bit north to the White River Light Station.
Picnic lunch at the Muskegon River with the submarine museum floating in the back ground.
Forth beautiful sunset melting into Lake Michigan – such a treat for all of us.

Utah: Sand Island/Butler Wash

We are in Bluff Utah by lunch and snagged a river site at Sand Island Campground.
A wonderful walk along the river to see petroglyphs – and blooming cactus.
Nicely preserved petroglyphs in the rock faces.
Also some wall remnants protected under cliff overhangs.
We headed up Butler Wash along Combs Ridge for some more remote hiking.
More ancient construction under some huge cliffs with protected coves.
Absolutely gorgeous petroglyphs – quite large and very distinct.
We could make up our own stories as to the meanings.
Nice scenery to enjoy after a day of hiking – relaxing in the shade of the van!
A long day hike up a canyon to some more areas of interest.
Posing outside doorway to give some scale to the building.
Love how the large boulders are incorporated into the walls. There must have been an upper level
Amazing hand print detail captured with a zoom lens.
We had a very hot day of hiking and we did not explore all the side canyons.
But enjoyed some unusual natural rock formations.

Japanese Garden Project

Time to use those kayak arm muscles to move rocks.First of 3 loads of local rock we had delivered. We had some of the boulders moved as well per the architect’s directions.

Templates made of cardboard first to get the dimensions worked out.

Shapes were then cut out of particle board to make concrete form.

Looking good…This just might work!

Wrapped in plastic, concrete was hand mixed and pushed into crevices.

The unveiling a week later shows the close match of concrete colors/textures with the rocks.

Lakeside view showing how bridges starts thicker, goes thinner as it springs out of the rock.

Seven tons of pea gravel are delivered to create the pond.View from living room after we have added a few plants.

The bridge ends at an island which we hope to feature a character pine.

A rake creates the wave patterns that enhance all the island places.


Caldes de Malavella Spain

We drove to Girona to switch our gray VW Polo for a different VW Polo – a zippy little manual. Time to motor back to the Via Augusta.

So we drove a bit further SW to Caldes de Malavella which is know for thermal hot springs due to volcanic history.

There are many Modernist buildings when this town was rejuvenated in the 1900’s as a Spa Retreat, which it still is today.

It has been a Spa retreat for quite a few centuries, used in 1st to 4th century by the Romans.

We visited the museum as well as this outdoor archeology site of the preserved Roman Baths.

Can’t you just envision a few toga’s lounging around? How lucky for them this was on the Via Augusta!

There were small rooms along the sides surrounding the main pool…cabanas?

It was interesting to see the excavated Drainage System.

We headed out of town to the area of Romanya de la Selva. We hiked a short ways to this Menhir de la Murta, a neolithic manmade stone that aligns with the four cardinal directions.

A little further down the trail was Cova d’en Daina – a very well preserved megalith dating from around 2200 BC.

This fascinating structure of rocks is actually a large burial tomb. It is a dolmen but more complete with a full circle of menhirs surrounding it.

Fascinating to wonder how this was constructed.

The main chamber is 25 feet long by 5.5 feet across. The circle of menhirs is 36 feet in diameter.

The entry to the dolmen chamber is said to align southeast, which permits sunlight to enter at summer and winter solstice.

All the stones are granite.

Really wonderful to be able to walk around.

Excavations found numerous human bones and teeth, arrowhead flints, knife and pottery fragments as well as some necklace beads.

We retraced our steps through the cork forest – this area is sustainably harvested.

And wine corks are crafted! But unfortunately we are going to have to enjoy our wine back in the USA. Like the tramontane winds, the declaration of the WHO pandemic beckons us home.

Dolmens and Bay of Roses

We headed north to hike the Megalithic Dolmen Route. What a view!

Dolmen de la Vinya del Rey in the Alt Emporda Region. Dolmens are basically remains of megalithic tombs.

Dolmen del Garrollar was another that looks partially collapsed but not by me! One of these top stone slab weighs 18 tons.

Dolmen de la Talaia. These megaliths are neolithic or new stone age when these people arrived about 4500 BC from North Africa.

Dolmen de les Vinyes Mortes is another prehistoric monument right at the crest of the hill.

Wait – did Henry just get younger? Is this photo from 13 years ago?!!!

Hey – is that the same jacket? Once you find a good travel jacket it is so hard to let go.

Dolmen de Puig Margall is the last one on our 4-mile steep loop hike. Time for a short break before climbing back to the car.

We followed a few more twisties up the mountain…

Romanesque Monastery St Pere de Rodes was built on site of a Roman fort. Back then this was a popular start of Camino de St James.

It has an unbelievable view of the Cap de Creus. This must be what if feels like to soar like an eagle.

Nearby Church of Santa Helena de Rodes and the medieval village of Santa Creu de Rodes housed the pilgrims as well as workers.

Are you ready to start the walk across Spain, pilgrim? Let’s storm the gate!