Sunday, December 14, 2014

All In!

Sue had the week planned.  New appliances on Thursday, household goods delivery on Friday, and Christmas lights hanging on Saturday (before it snowed and we couldn't get on the roof anymore)(a tangent…in Alaska we'd hang our Christmas lights on Labor Day weekend, because that was the last date that we could be pretty sure there wouldn't  be snow on our houses.  We turned them on Thanksgiving weekend.)

Anyway, the household goods delivery was delayed by a day until saturday, so Sue resigned herself to just a few lights in the windows this year.  But no, April and Stephen to the rescue.  They had been planning to come and help us on moving day anyway, and they said that the lights would get hung.  So, as the boxes came off the truck, Sue waited anxiously for any box that said "Christmas decorations" on it, and she immediately tore into it.  After a few…Eureka!  She found the lights.  April took over my job checking off the inventory and Stephen and I got up on the roof to hang precariously over the edge of the second story roof to hang lights.  My neighbor, Toni, looked up at one point while I was on the edge of the roof and said, "Now Mark, don't fall off.  That roof has a history of people falling off of it."  I told her that she could have waited about an hour to tell me that!  We both had a good laugh, and she said she was praying for me. By the time that was done, I had paperwork to do, so Stephen took care of the lower level roof himself.  We had fun!  When the movers left at about 2pm, we finished up, and by dark we had a house full of boxes and wonderful Christmas decorations on the outside.  (Just so you know, the purple/green tree in front is not Sue's fault.  We originally bought green lights for it, but didn't get enough.  When I went back to Home Depot to get more I found out that Green is sold out across the universe!  So I chose purple to finish the tree, just because.  I love it!)

So, thanks to Arpin Van Lines we have our stuff, and thanks to Stephen and April our home is beautifully decorated for Christmas!  An Honorable Mention to Sarah, who unpacked our Kitchen!  Thanks kids, it was a great day with you!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

More House photos

Renel asked for these, and I'm not one to deny my sister!

This is the front of the house...every time I look at it it looks more like a mansion to me!

Standing in the dining room looking at the living room and front door...

The family room from different angles...its open to the kitchen but Sue didn't take any kitchen pictures...

Our neato stairs...

The "loft" which is kinda like a library with built in shelves...I'm thinking it would be a great place to play guitar!

and a couple of shots of our small but lovely back yard.  Sue has many plans to improve it with more plants between the rocks, a few burning bushes and probably a Japanese maple, but we have Aspens!!!  I might remove the concrete pad and build a nice redwood deck instead.

We hopefully close tomorrow!!!!!

Friday, November 14, 2014


While we were driving along in the middle of nowhere NM (and there's a lot of that) my phone rang.  It was the Air Force Academy legal office calling to tell me that I got the job!  I was, and still am, overcome with gratitude.  I really know that for years we've been led along by the hand of God to this very point, and now apparently we have things to do in Colorado Springs.  That God would know us enough and care about us enough to take such an interest in our affairs makes me more humble and grateful than I could ever have imagined.

Oh, and another thing.  We should close on our house, yes.........that's........ OUR HOUSE........ IN COLORADO, IN GLENEAGLE, ON THE NORTH END OF CO SPRINGS, next Friday!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, on December 15, our Vagabondancy will be coming to an end.  I always knew I'd get a job, but I really like retirement!  I hope I can take the calm and easygoingness that I've learned something about and apply it to the rest of my life.  For the last several months I have neither known nor cared what time it was, I've had no idea what day of the month it was, and most often I didn't even know what day of the week it was.  That's been wonderful!  Now I have to transition into being on time, and even having a schedule.  Hopefully I'll do OK.

That leads me to answer the question...Where in the West are The Garneys?  215 Holbrook St, Colorado Springs, Colorado  80921.  We have plenty of room, so please come and visit.

Lastly, don't forget my blog.  I'm going to try to keep it going, because I'm certain that our adventures will continue!

New Mexico??

I really don't like New Mexico.  I've been forced, at gunpoint (just kidding about the gunpoint) to drive through NM several times, and I think I'd rather go to the dentist.  So, what would prompt me to go there voluntarily?  Well, its the love of my oldest brother, Norbert.  Norbert lives in El Paso, TX, but he has built a beautiful retirement home above Cloudcroft, NM, in the mountains east of Alamogordo.  We wanted to visit Norbert, so we went to NM.

We saw a giant pistachio,

and the sunset was pretty good,

so it wasn't a terrible trip.  We ultimately arrived at Norb's mountain chalet and it is a beautiful home in a beautiful location, high up in the mountains with a 200 mile view to the north!

The house is built so that it is very open and airy, and you can see right through it!  We took a nice walk to Norb's favorite elk meadow,

and had a wonderful dinner at the Lodge at Cloudcroft.  It apparently is haunted by a naughty chambermaid, but I didn't see her.  We had a nice visit with Norbert and are looking forward to him coming to see us in January.

So, what else does one do in NM?  Well, my intrepid wife is always finding things to do!  On Sunday evening we went to watch the sun set on White Sands National Monument.  I have to admit, this was really cool!  The sand is not silicate, but gypsum, and is really fine and soft.  So soft in fact that these dunes were packed and hard.  We took the advice of the park pamphlet and went barefoot, and it was neat!

But, is that all?  Of course not.  You're probably asking, "well, aren't you going to mention the Very Large Array?"  As a matter of fact, I am (btw, how did you know about that, anyway?)  Sue found out that the Very Large Array, a series of radiotelemetryimaging discs, (huge satellite looking thingys) were not so very far out of the way, so we went to see them.  There's a lot of science involved, but it boils down to the fact that these things can see out into space pretty much forever...and take pictures.  It think Sue was jealous because of the pictures part.

If you have seen the movie Contact (Jodi Foster), you have seen the Very Large Array.  One of them even moved while we were standing there!  You can see that the Array encourages silliness, like two grown people doing the Vulcan wave, only mine is the Modified Cause My Fingers Wont' Do This Vulcan Wave.  We had fun!

Southern Utah!

After a successful job interview we headed out to make our way to St. George, UT to visit Sue's mom.  We had earlier promised to visit and clean their carpets, which we ultimately did.  But that's boring.  The good stuff is that we took the southern route and ended up in Monticello, UT for a visit to the Monticello Temple.  

What a gem it is in this tiny town in red rock land.  We had a nice visit.  Then we went on to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.  Many years ago we visited this place so Sue could run a 50K event (I was broken, so I stayed in the campground with the kids) and since then she has always wanted to show me a specific place far into the desert...the Joint.  So, we went back to see it.  We decided to try camping in the back of our VW Sportwagen...

...and it almost worked.  It seems I'm either just a bit too tall or its just a bit too short, but the experiment failed.  After I un-kinked myself in the morning, we had a great time.  By the way, southern UT is a great place for sunsets and sunrises.

We got up early the next morning and were on our way, and what a beautiful place this is!  Quite different from Banff and Yellowstone, but just as striking in its own way.  We hiked a little the evening before and saw some fun rock formations.

Our morning hike led into a neat bowl that had a really great echo

and ultimately to the Joint itself.  This is a real wonder, and we hardly saw any people along the way!

It would be hard to find a more beautiful, diverse and enjoyable 11 mile hike anywhere!  And it sure finishes well!

After the hike we blasted off to our treat for the evening, a hotel room at Ruby's Inn in Bryce Canyon National Park.  But, to my chagrin, I had made the reservation for the following week!  Heaven smiled (once more) and there was a last minute cancellation that allowed us to get a room.  Strangely enough, this was a time of Big Bus Tours at Bryce, and there were certainly a lot of people, many foreign, enjoying the trails.  It was quite a contrast from the previous day, when it felt like we had southern UT all to ourselves.

Then we went off to Grandma's house to clean carpets and enjoy some calm and quiet.  Sue and I have long wanted to visit the Manti, UT temple, so we planned our departure so that we could do so on our way back to Provo.  Well, we didn't look at the schedule too well, and while I was putting on my tie in the parking lot a man approached me and said that the temple was closed for cleaning!  Bummer!  But, being good at making lemonade, we went up to the back door and asked if we could help clean!  We did that for a couple of hours and also got a tour of the temple!  This is a beautiful Pioneer temple that is truly magnificent.  We enjoyed our time there and really want to get back.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Our honey-loving sister also told us about a road "we just have to drive on!".  That road is the Bear Tooth Highway, which enters the park from the extreme northeast.  So, leaving from Helena, we drove east on I-90 (yuk...driving east) all the way to the other side of the park (many hours, let me tell you), and then cut back toward the west to enter via the Bear Tooth Highway.  This highway was magnificent, and Lysa was right again!  It travels through an area of high alpine, at over 10,000 feet elevation.  It is so very cool!

Then we drove to the entrance station and found out that all the campgrounds in the park were either closed or full.  Bummer, but not!  We called our brother Paul and asked if we could stay in his wife Irene's family cabin on Hebgen lake,  just on the other side of the park.  This is the cabin that Paul and I worked on the first summer that Sue and I were married!  He said "sure!", so we had another warm and welcoming place to stay.  Good thing too, because that night it stormed like crazy and we were glad to not be in a tent.  We met this guy along the road, as we had gotten out of the car to look at a roadside information booth.  Sue looked up as we were walking along and said, "wow, that guy sure is wearing a big coat!"  (she thought it was a person...maybe she's due an eye exam??)

The next day was cool and rainy, a perfect day to explore the hot pots and geysers of Yellowstone, because steam was coming out of everywhere.

Sue got some great pictures of the mud seems that they shatter when they pop!  I got this great picture of Sue...isn't she beautiful?

Paul and Irene came up the next day and we spent Saturday laying tile in their new cabin.  I then decided to spend the next week with Paul tiling the whole thing!  We had a great time working and reminiscing, and we're pretty good tilers to boot!

That last picture deserves some explanation.  30 years ago when Paul and I were finishing this cabin, the log you see me pointing at was used to support the stairs on the other side of this bathroom wall.  Paul was about to cut off this end sticking out into the bathroom, but I asked him not to.  I saw that it was in the perfect spot for a very unique toilet roll holder!  So, I carved and chiseled out the inside of the log and the Richard's family has used it as a toilet roll holder ever since.  That crack in the bottom that lets the TP come out was a natural feature of the log that I put to good use.  (also, if any of you have ever heard of my run-in with a chain saw, this was the bathroom where that no way connected to the toilet roll holder!)

After such a great week I had to bolt back to Colorado Springs for a job interview at the Air Force Academy, which went pretty well!


After we left Canada, we had a wonderful drive to Glacier National Park, with a slight detour to Cardston, AB, Canada.  Cardston was a Mormon settlement in the late 1800's and is still a largely LDS community today.  The Cardston Temple was the first temple built outside of the United States, and it is beautiful.  The interior has murals and rich dark wood paneling, and it certainly has a warm and welcoming feel to it.

We stayed in a lovely campground in Cardston and enjoyed using our new tent heater there.  This campground had the best WiFi signal that we've had since we left DC!

So, off we went to Glacier National Park, and the day we arrived we drove all the way across the park to Kalispell, MT on a mission of mercy.  You see, our sister, Lysa, had been to Kalispell earlier this year and fell in love with a certain raw Montana honey that was sold only by the Costco in Kalispell. So, we went and got her a case!  We also saw some great scenery along the way....

Yes, that's a mountain goat we saw on an evening hike.  The next day we hiked to Ptarmagin Tunnel. This tunnel is at the end of a drainage where the saddle to the next drainage should be.  But, the saddle is so rocky and sheer that people decided to just cut a tunnel through to the other side!

That's Sue at the entrance to the tunnel, and if you look closely at the other picture you'll see the switchback trail that leads to it.  The other side looks pretty cool too...

This was in a beautiful location, with a glacial lake at the end.  We also saw some creatures that we're calling MOUSs...Marmots of Unusual Size...they were HUGE!!!!

On the way down we feasted on Huckleberries, while we made noise to ward off the bears that had been frequenting this area.

We decided not to stay the night in Glacier, but rather took off toward Helena, MT so that we could take the long way to Yellowstone, through and entrance that we hadn't visited before.  More on that in  my next post!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Back again; More Canada

I'm back again to write about more more of our adventures.  I apologize to my one fan (thanks Renel!) for being gone so long, but hey, I'm retired and I'm lazy!

After our great hike on the Ice Line trail, we spent a nice Sunday attending church in Banff, and the people there were nice enough to let us stay for as long as we wanted after the services were over to use the Internet to catch up on e-mail and to do some other business.  They told us to just turn out the lights and make sure the door was closed when we left.  This was a good thing too, because we heard at church that a really big snowstorm was on its way Monday, and we did not want to be camping through that storm.  So, I worked to find us an affordable hotel room for a couple of days to wait out the storm.  And, Good Thing!  The storm was "historical" nothing seen like it since the mid 1800's, they said.  It put about 8 inches of snow on the ground, and we sat cozy for a couple of days in Canmore, doing laundry and relaxing.

When the storm was done we went out again to see the beauty.  On our way to Jasper, we stopped at Johnston Canyon and hiked in a light snowfall through a lovely slot canyon.  Fairy Snowmen were seen at benches along the way.

Then we proceeded to Jasper, where we had found last minute lodging in some "we have a room to rent" homes.  They were great.  Yes, we didn't camp in Jasper b/c it was just too cold!  Jasper is a lovely small town and we enjoyed the stay there.  The highlight was our hike to Mt Edith Cavell.  When we started on our hike that morning it was 21 degrees!

There was snow on the ground from the storm that had passed through, and it made the trail icy and slippery, but Sue, the Everprepared, had remembered to bring our YakTraks

and we had no problems climbing to the summit of the "meadow" under the shadow of the FIVE THOUSAND FOOT VERTICAL RISE OF THE MOUNTAIN WALL.  Yep, it was really cool.  This however, was no meadow.  it was a very steep hill above treeline…at one point I felt like I was climbing up a snow route in the Andes!  But, it was all very worth it.  Mt Edith Cavell towers above the Angel Glacier, which hovers above Cavell Pond, a glacial lake.  The face of the mountain was so steep that as the morning sun warmed the rock the accumulated snow began to sluff off in myriad places, creating "snow fall" all over the face of the mountain.  I'd never seen that before and it was magical.  We met some nice folks from New Hampshire, and loaned them our spare pairs of YakTraks.  By the time we were done with the hike the temperature had risen to a balmy 42 degrees, twice that of when we started.  It was a marvelous hike.

The next day we left Jasper planning to stop at Parker Ridge for a hike to a glacier overlook, but while I was napping in the car Sue made a command decision to skip the hike and head straight to Moraine Lake, near where we camped at Lake Louise.  It was snowing lightly when we got there, but our goal was to rent a canoe and paddle the lake for a while.  At first I thought this would be dumb…paddling a canoe on a lake in the snow…big deal.  Well, I was WRONG.  It was, and I'm overusing this term, magical.  Moraine Lake is the most enchanting shade of blue.  The snow was falling lightly, the water was smooth as a mirror, it was almost perfectly quiet.  Finally it came to me, and I told Sue, "this is like floating on the sky".  And it was.  This was really a trip highlight for me.

So then we touched down back to earth, and headed for Calgary.  While we were hiding from the storm in Canmore, Sue posted something on Facebook about us being in Canada, and Kate's church Young Women leader in VA (Janaya Rampton) wrote back that her parents live in Calgary and that if we were anywhere near there we should go and stay with them.  We both kind of hesitated at that, but soon Winona Shepard (the Mom) wrote to Sue with the most sincere invitation that we simply couldn't resist.  So, we met Winona and her husband Leigh at a cooking demonstration class (it was their planned date-night activity) in Calgary and struck an instant friendship.  We enjoyed the class together and the talking afterwards (until Sue was falling asleep at the kitchen table).  Then, as a sendoff in the morning, Leigh, a gourmet cook himself, treated us to eggs benedict for breakfast!  The best I've ever had.  What a wonderful thing to have made such instant friends with the gospel and families in common.  I can't wait to get back to Calgary to visit them again.  Thanks Winona and Leigh!