Sunday, June 28, 2009

Royal Designs

Royal Designs is this week's featured artist in the ArtFire Jewelry Artists and Supply Shops Guild.
Here is the artisan's bio:
Beading is a time consuming, thought provoking and occasionally frustrating process which I totally love. I'll work a piece until the pattern "feels" just perfect. There are times I give up when I can't find the rhythm but more often everything goes together as it is meant to. I only offer what I would love to wear! As a teenager I designed and made necklaces for a local store. I've come a long way from those little plastic beads! My pieces consist of semi-precious stones, Swarovski and Czech crystals, Swarovski pearls, freshwater pearls, sterling silver, gold vermeil and more. Rarely do I use a base metal. I'm proud to inform you of the materials used in each piece. As a mom of two college kids and 4 fur babies time is precious. I work a full time job to pay those tuition bills but beading is my work of choice. I learned so much about color and patterns as an art major in college and hope that you recognize the time, effort and love I put into each piece!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ride Across America Days Five and Six

Here are some of the pictures of the waterfalls from yesterday's ride. They were spectacular. And the road was a historical drive path so it was not only beautiful but very peaceful. When you weren't seeing gorgeous views of the mountains and the river gorge you were driving on tree lined roads in dappled sunlight. What a great way to recharge the batteries.

Today's ride was another one where we had great views of the mountains and the river gorge. It is amazing how far the Columbia River goes and right through the mountains. And all along the river is a railroad and there are more freight trains going all along the river carrying all our goods to the middle of the country. I never realized how much freight goes through here and by train.

We had another stay at a campground. It was nice but nothing special. A piece of grass and some water. No electricity. And you had to use quarters to get hot water for your shower. Fifty cents for 3 minutes. I didn't think I could shower and wash my hair that fast but I did it. It is really amazing what you can do when you have to. We are at the bottom of the hill tonight and it is looming in the background for the guys. I hope they sleep well because right off the bat tomorrow it is straight up the side of the mountain. It is giving me the willys and I will be driving.


Well the guys are headed up the mountain and I am off in the van. It was another ride through the mountains but this time there was nothing and I mean nothing around. Hills, river, farm animals and windmills on the tops of the mountains. That's it. No towns, no stores, no gas, nothing. But once the guys make it up the first big hill it isn't too bad. And there is very little traffic on this road so it is nice riding for them. There is an occasion semi and a few pick up trucks and that is it.

The campground for tonight is on an Island in the middle of the Columbia River. There is one little road that leads to the Island. It was a good thing I got there early as there was only one site left. So I grabbed it and settled in for the day to wait for the guys. It is Friday and I guess a lot of people camp here on the weekend. I can see why. This is the Hilton of campgrounds. We have water, electric, real bathrooms with showers. You still need to pay for a shower though but hey they are nice showers. And you are surrounded by the river. There is even a little beach type area on the river. And lots of boats on the river too. We have a nice shady spot and the site is big. Not the little postage stamp sites we have been getting. This is much better. I better enjoy it because tomorrow we are back to a primitive site. You can't have the good life all the time I guess.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ride Across America Day Four

Just a quick update to let everyone know we are OK. I could not find the library so I am actually outside a Motel 8. LOL You have to love wireless connections. But I am on battery so I have to be quick. And Jim has the camera so the awesome pictures will have to follow at another time.

Yesterday was an awesome day. The drive was through some of the most beautiful territory I have seen yet. We passed 5 different waterfalls. And at some points there were lookouts where you could see the Columbia River just winding it's way through the mountains.

Then at other times you were in the woods with trees all around and driving like you were actually in the middle of a forest. Beau and I stopped at all the waterfalls and went for walks. He actually made it to see one of the falls. After that he was more interested in sniffing the bushes than actually walking around. He is not much for sight seeing. Definitely ruled by his nose. So for some of the stops he got a walk and then went to sleep in the van while I checked out the falls.

Our campsite last night was nestled in the trees and was near the river. It seemed very nice until the first train came through. Unfortunately there is a railroad track that runs right through the park. There was no where that you could escape the train horn. I heard it once when I was going to sleep but after that either I was too tired or no more trains came through. Everyone said they had a good night's sleep.

The guys had a couple of hills yesterday and one big one at the end of the ride. But they all made it and are back out riding again today. Beau and I did laundry and are going to get groceries. Then it's on to the next campground. The weather has been awesome. It's sunny but cool. And there hasn't been any significant rain lately either. So all is well on the trail. Pictures of the awesome falls and mountains to follow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ride Across America Day Three

Yesterday we spent the night in the City Park at St. Helens. It was a nice park and very busy. Lots of families, kids and dogs. Beau had a great time checking out all the dogs.

The camping sites were in a nice wooded area of the park. There was also a nice one mile jogging/walking path so I was able to get a nice quiet walk in. I tried to get Beau to go with me but he wanted no part of it. So he stayed at the campsite with the guys and I walked on my own.

On the third day the goal for the guys was to ride from St. Helen's to Corbet and we were going to stay in a campground that was listed on the map as a place for cyclists to stay. I had a mission to find a Wal Mart in Portland on the way there to get my prescriptions refilled. Then I was off to check out the campground. We were unable to reach any one by phone the night before to confirm that they had sites available.

So I started my journey from St. Helens to Portland to find the Wal Mart that was on my GPS. Everything was going well until I saw the highest longest bridge off in the distance. I kept telling myself that there was no way that I could possibly have to go over that bridge. Until I heard the GPS navigator say merge left and exit to route 30 by pass. On No Mr. Bill. I was going over the bridge. I said a few quick prayers and told Beau not to look out the window and over we went. When I say I was hyperventilating I am not exaggerating at all. But we made it.

The next big adventure was when the navigator said you have reached your destination and there wasn't a Wal Mart in sight. But there was a gas station up ahead so I quickly pulled in and inquired where this mysterious Wal Mart was. It was 4 miles up the road. I knew it would be pretty hard to miss a Wal Mart. So much for the GPS navigator. But we found it in a jiffy. I got my prescriptions and more food for Beau. I decided to call the campground and just verify that they had sites. And much to my surprise they told me they no longer have camping at their park. This was not good.

I quickly called the guys and we went to plan B. I was to stay at the Wal Mart until they got there and then we would look at the map and make another plan. Well, their route didn't take them by the Wal Mart so now I had to find them. Luckily they were only a half a mile a way and it was not long until we were all together. The problem was finding a place to camp.

The end of the story is there was no place to camp that was in biking distance or at least not in a distance that was reasonable to do after already biking 50 miles. We did find a hostel in Troutdale that the guys could stay at and Beau and I had to rough it at a Motel 6. The Hostel does not allow animals. It is dorm style and the guys are sleeping in bunk beds. And all the bottom bunks were taken so they are on the top. I hope no one forgets in the middle of the night.

The pictures here are from the garden at the hostel. We did join them there for dinner and beverages. It is very beautiful and looks like a fun place to stay. I hope tomorrow is a little less adventurous even though it all did turn out well in the end.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Ride Across America - Day One

So the big day, June 21st, 2009, has finally arrived. They are leaving to start their ride from Seaside, Oregon to Bangor, Maine. The plan is to ride an average of 50 miles per day and camp along the way. The miles will vary depending on the locations of available camping spots. There will also be one rest day per week.

Here are the brave cyclists, from left to right, Tom, Bob, Jim and John, at the starting point in Seaside. The plan for today was to ride to a primitive campground 4o miles from the starting point.

My job is to ride to the stopping point and scope out the area. Also, I will pick up any provisions along the way that may be needed at the campsite for that night. The campground they planned on staying at Gnat Creek Park only has 3 campsites. And it is first come first get. Plus it is on an honor system. You have to get the little envelope out of the drop box, fill out the pertinent information, put $5 in the envelope and then put the envelope in the drop box. There is a stub you put in your windshield. When I did my check there was a tent on one campsite and the other two were vacant. So as not to miss out on having a place to stay I filled out the envelope and deposited my $5. Then I put a small soft sided cooler we had and Beau's bed on the picnic table at the site so if any one came along they would know it was taken. Then I was off to meet the guys at the half way point to have lunch and discuss what to do for dinner that evening.

We met at a Supermarket in Astoria. They had a nice deli so we had soup and sandwiches for lunch. Then the guys continued on and I went shopping for food for dinner. I bought deli chicken, potato salad, 3 bean salad and some snacks. Plus beer and water to drink of course. Then I made my way back to the campground.

I passed the guys on the way. They seemed to be doing great and making good time. I got back to the campground and much to my dismay someone had actually stolen my cooler. The cooler was no big deal. But I had all my vitamins inside it. And my iced tea mix and Jim's instant coffee. And my champagne glasses from our hot air balloon ride were in there too. How rude. I always thought campers were considerate of others and didn't mess with your things. I was very disappointed. I think it was someone just passing through as we found out there was a lot of traffic that went in and out of that little park.

It wasn't too long before the guys showed up. They all looked good and said they had a nice ride. There was one hill but none of them thought it was too bad. We had a nice evening and settled in for the night.

Today they are riding 51 miles to St. Helens, Oregon. There is a city park that allows tent camping. It is only $10. And there are real bathrooms with real toilets and showers. Still no electric but showers and toilets are a big improvement. The local library is right next to the park so I am updating blog while waiting for the guys to arrive. Beau is sleeping in the van. It is still very cool here so he is OK in the van. I took him for a long walk in the park prior to coming to the library.

Not sure what the plan is for tonight. More to come when next Internet op presents itself.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Oregon Coast Drive

Yesterday we drove almost the entire coastline of Oregon. It is as beautiful as the coastline drive in California.

We started in Reedsport and drove all the way to Seaside, which is where Jim will start his Ride Across America with his friends tomorrow.

When we first started our drive we were right in the middle of the sand dunes. The first picture is of the dunes but you really can not appreciate the size or magnitude of them from this picture. The weather was not the best so we really could not get a good shot. You can see all the big rain clouds in the picture. When we started the drive it was sprinkling but that soon turned to actual rain. So some of the drive was not the best for picture taking but spectacular to see none the less.

The little specs you see on the rock are sea lions and seals. At one of the look out points where you could stop and take pictures there were rocks with sea lions and seals on them. A few were even swimming in the water. It is amazing how big they were and how steep the rocks were. It made me wonder how they managed to get up on the rocks in the first place. Some of them were huge.

Besides seeing all the coastline we also drove through some cute little seaside towns and drove over some amazing bridges. It was a very scenic and enjoyable drive.

We are in Seaside, Oregon. It is a quaint seaside town. It reminds me of Hollywood Beach in Florida with all the little shops and the boardwalk. Only there are no mountains in Hollywood. And the sun is out a lot more!

Jenny Lake Hike

When Jim was at the visitors' center for Jenny Lake, a young girl there told him about the hike around the lake. She said the views were spectacular, there was a beautiful waterfall and that the hike was relatively easy. She had 2 of the three correct at least.

So we started out on our adventure. And the beginning of the hike was relatively easy and the views were without a doubt spectacular. I only have a couple here but more are on my facebook page. Most of the path was rocky as shown here. So while it wasn't too bad of a hike it was slow going.

Jim also told me that the hike to the Falls was only 2 miles. And remember the relatively easy part too. Some of the time when you were walking right along the lake edge only high up in the hills it was gorgeous. The day was nice too. It was partly cloudy so it wasn't real hot. And we only got sprinkled on a couple of times, but no real rain to speak of. Which was an improvement since it had rained every day we were there so far.

Now we are starting to come to the part of the hike where you are approaching Cascade Falls. Now the relatively easy part goes right out the window. We were going up and up and up some more. Some parts were just the rock path and some parts were like steps. But they all went up and sometimes straight up. It was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. The loud sound of rushing water was all that kept me going as I knew the falls had to be near. And I didn't want to walk all that way and not see them. And remember I mentioned Jim said it was 2 miles to the Falls.

Well when we got up there and I read the sign it was 2.7 miles. That's close enough to 3 for me to say it's a 3 mile hike. At least the hike back was better. Going down is much easier. And it was a beautiful waterfall. I have to admit it was worth the effort. And I did need the exercise. So I am happy that we did this hike. But relatively easy it was not.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Snake River Float

We did a raft float down the Snake River. It was very beautiful and peaceful. I know they have rafts going down the river all the time. But we did not see another raft or person the entire time. We floated for 10 miles. The scenery was unbelievable. When we first started out I heard an unusual sound. At first I thought, "is air coming out of the raft?" My mind kind of works that way. Then when I realized it wasn't that I thought maybe it was something in the raft that I wasn't aware of and I didn't give it another thought. Well, actually it was probably in the back of my mind but I was busy looking at all the nature around me. Then the raft driver asked "do you hear that rustling sound?" And of course I was happy to reply. He told us it was the rocks on the bottom of the river moving over each other with the current of the river. WOW. I had no idea. Later on when we got to some of the more shallow parts of the river you could see the rocks and even some exposed rock beds. I had no idea that the bottom of the river was all rock.

It was cool to be floating down a river and see mountains all around you. And mountains with snow on them. There were also lots of trees that had fallen into the river due to either shore erosion or beavers. And they would make little islands in the middle of the river and in some cases even completely change the flow of the river.

We didn't see any animals but we did see geese, pelicans, heron and eagles. It was a great experience and I have so many more pictures than what I have here. The first picture is a beaver lodge we saw along the side of the river and the second is one of the many views of the mountains from the river. My connectivity here is slow so the pictures were not loading well. So I could only post two for now. I am going to make an online album for my pictures and will post when I do. I have also been putting some of them on Facebook for those of you who are on that site.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Designs By Patricia Hall

Designs By Patricia Hall is today's Crazy Train Rider on ArtFire. Patricia likes to work with natural stones, lampwork beads, and shell beads. She has many different designs and styles in her studio. And she will do custom sizing for you if desired. If you like jewelry made with natural stones or shell then this is the site for you.

Blockhead Radio: World of Widgets Round 1

Blockhead Radio: World of Widgets Round 1

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Grand Teton National Park

Yesterday we drove past the Grand Tetons on our way to Yellowstone. They were so phenomenal. So today we decided to go to Grand Teton National Park. We weren't disappointed. The mountains are even more spectacular up close.

We drove up to both Jenny Lake and Lake Jackson. There is a gorgeous Lodge at Lake Jackson that I am sure would be fun to stay at. We had lunch there and it was very good. The lake is the largest in the park and you can go sailing, fishing and boating on the lake. They also have houseboats there you can rent.

The pictures here are of Jenny Lake. It is amazing how crystal clear the water is. They have a path that you can walk on to go down by the water. It was just an amazing view. The beauty is so breath taking. We are going back tomorrow to hike some of the trails. And Monday we are going on a raft ride down the Snake River, weather permitting. I'll be sure to post pictures.

Then we stopped in town to take in some of the sites. The pictures posted are of the main part of downtown Jackson. The antler arch is the entrance to the town park. There is one on all 4 corners of the park.

There is an actual stagecoach that goes through the town. Beau growled at the horses when they went by. I guess he's never seen a horse before so he wasn't sure what to think. Most of the shops have their doors open so he kept trying to go into all the shops. I never knew he was a shopper. I even found a bead shop but they didn't have anything new or different to offer.

Friday, June 12, 2009

We Made it to Wyoming

So we have left South Dakota and ventured on to Wyoming. I was really hoping that once we changed states the rain would be behind us. No such luck. It rained for almost the entire 6 hour drive. But once we got close it did stop long enough for me to get some nice photos of the Grand Tetons. And imagine my surprise to see snow. I must say that everything out here is also lush and green. Must be all that rain.

So we are staying in Jackson, Wyoming. It is a quaint resort town. I am sure it is lovely in the winter too. There are some nice ski slops and they advertise sleigh rides through the town too. But I can't imagine riding on these winding roads in snow. The mountains are gorgeous though.

Today we drove to Yellowstone and saw Old Faithful. It was impressive. Quick but impressive. The park is awesome though. After the eruption we took a hike up to a look out point that over looks Old Faithful and all the smaller geysers. It was quite a hike up there but well worth the view. We did see some buffalo out in a field while we were up there but we were so high up they looked like little brown specks.

Tomorrow we are going to drive through Grand Teton Park. We had Beau in a doggie day care today so tomorrow we are going to give him a break and take us with him. We heard him howling as soon as we walked through the front door. I guess he didn't like it. Poor baby. There is another one in town we may try next week. They don't put them in cages so maybe he won't miss us as much. Speaking of Beau, it's time for his walk and then night night. Later all.


Do these look like candles to you?? They look good enough to eat to me. But they are really candles. And if they smell anywhere near as good as they look then they are winners in my book. These are just a few of the delicious looking candles in Kickinskreations Artfire Studio. There are also some standard looking candles there too. But these really do it for me. Oh and did I mention they have soap too. And some interesting "adult items" too.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

South Dakota

What can I say about the weather in South Dakota? Not much. It was less than optimal for our entire 5 days here. When you hear on the news that they are having unusually cool weather for June you know you are in trouble. Especially when you aren't fond of cool weather to begin with. When we pulled in to town it was sunny and in the 70's. OK not so bad. But then the next morning it was in the 40's and raining. Jim really wanted to do a hike to the top of the Crazy Horse Monument. They only allow you to go all the way to the top once a year and we just happened So we drove over there. It was only 1 mile away. When we got there is was very cold and damp. So Jim did the hike and Beau and I hung out in the van. The brochure said it would take 2 to 4 hours to complete. Jim was back in an hour and a half. What can I say? I knew he was good. So then we drove around town for a little bit and the sun started to come out. We took a little walk with Beau and looked for a dinner spot. We also stopped and got some provisions for the room. But by the time we came out of the restaurant from eating it was raining again. Sunshine didn't last long.

The next day when we got up it was still raining. So we decided to check out Bear Country USA. It's a drive through park with wildlife. There were elk, reindeer, wolves, sheep, bears, lots of bears and a few buffalo. The brochure said to stay in your cage with the doors closed and the windows up. The animals run free. I have to admit that when we were in the section with the reindeer and elk I did roll down the window to get pictures. But when we were in the bear section the windows stayed up. You can tell I was a good do-bee by the rain drops in some of the pictures. Those bears were big. We even saw one bear try to get into the back of a pick up truck a few cars a head of us. And he didn't want to get down when the truck started moving either. I wonder what was in the back of that truck. That was a good attraction for a rainy day.

The next day when we got up it was still a little chilly but no rain and no fog. I forgot to mention all the fog that comes along with the rain. So we were up bright and early and off to Mount Rushmore. It was a great day. No fog and you could see the mountain easily. We did the entire 1 mile hike around the monument. It was really amazing. And then on the way back to the hotel we did the scenic drive through Custer State Park. There were signs that said road was narrow and twisty and they weren't kidding. Some of the turns were quite sharp. And then they had these one lane tunnels you had to go through. You have to beep your horn before you go through to make sure no one is coming the other way. But there was plenty of wild life wandering around. We saw wild donkeys that are obviously used to being fed because they would walk right up to your car and if you weren't giving them food then they just moved on to the next car. We also saw herds of wild buffalo and lots of babies too. So there will be buffalo around for a while.

Another interesting thing we saw there were tons of Army vehicles. And a sign that said Army operations in progress. We found out from one of the rangers that the Army does training maneuvers there the first two weeks in June every year. Fun.

Today was another rainy day. We did a 1 mile hike up the side of one of the hills in town and then just hung out for the day. I did make a new bracelet today. So it was a productive and fun day even if the weather was crummy.

Tomorrow we head out again. I think we are going to try and see the Devil's Tower on our way to our next destination. Beau is hanging in there and seems to be having a good time. He is a real trooper in the van when we are at restaurants or sight seeing. We usually don't leave him for long and the weather has been cool enough that we don't have to worry about him over heating. We found a pet day care online that we thought we could leave him at but when we went to look at it we didn't like it. It was all out door cages and I didn't think he would like it there. So we just did what we could with him and it worked out fine.

Tomorrow we hit the open road again. We will be still be heading west toward the coast.

Monday, June 8, 2009

One Lovely Blog Award

I received a "One Lovely Blog Award" from Haffina Creations. I am so honored that she sent me this award. I am also glad that now I get to pass it on to 15 more blogs. So below is the list of blogs that I have chosen for this recognition. They are blogs that I follow and enjoy and hope you will too.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rocky Creek Gems

Rocky Creek Gems is today's Crazy Train Rider on ArtFire. She has some beautiful things in her studio. Some of her bead work is phenomenal. Not only is she creative but she is very talented as well. I am showing two of my favorite pieces from her studio here but she has many more on her sight.

Here is her bio from her studio:

Rocky Creek Gems and Gifts is named for the little creek that runs through the 86 acres of our family property just outside La Grange, Texas.I have been making things for as long as I can remember. I'm not a "single-craft" person! I enjoy working with gemstones, beadwork, knitting, crocheting, quilting, sewing, embroidery--you name it! As a former middle school science teacher, I particularly love making use of unusual items.

Make sure you check out her studio. I guarantee you won't be disappointed.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Where Am I Giveaway Update

This picture was taken on Jim's hike today. They were having a special hike in the area today to raise money for the local food bank. So if you made a food or monetary donation you got to hike all the way up to this moneument which is still in the sculpting phase. Normally you can only go part of the way up and look at it from a distance. You were not allowed to take pets on the hike so Beau and I had to be content to look at it from afar. And we didn't even get to do that because it was very foggy out and you couldn't see it. Maybe on another day we will get to see it. The sun is starting to finally come out here so I hope that the days to come will have better weather. And I sure hope that includes a warming trend too.
I hope we have good weather when we go to see the other mountain carving in this area too.

Friday, June 5, 2009

More Giveaway Hints

Since no one has commented on the previous post and commented on the ArtFire Jewelry Artists and Supply Shops Guild post I am going to post some clues here. We left Dayton on Wednesday morning. We traveled through 3 states that all begin with the letter I. Now we are in our final destination for this leg. We will be here for several days seeing the sites. There are several things to see and do here. I can use those for more hints tomorrow if they are needed. And no we are not in a state that starts with the letter I. So if you comment here and tell me the 3 states that start with the letter I, then I will give you another clue just for you. Oh and if you aren't on plurk we also went through 2 times zones. We went from Eastern time to Mountain time if that helps any.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Studio On The Hill

Studio On The Hill is this week's featured ArtFire Studio for the ArtFire Jewelry Artists and Supply Shops Guild. Studio On The Hill features both jewelry and supplies. I have featured two of my favorites in this posting. Here is the artisan's bio from her studio:

Hi, I'm Karen from Artisan Jewelry. I am both a jewelry artisan and instructor. I have taught both private and group classes for many years now. Currently, I am teaching classes at Paint Creek Center for the Arts in Michigan. My latest passion is working with metal and wire which is reflected in many of my designs. I can usually be found in my studio with a torch in one hand and a piece of glowing metal on the soldering brick. I love to work with copper and silver. My favorite beads are Swarovski crystals and lampwork glass.

Since I really like all things that remind me of the beach, I especially like these starfish earrings. They remind me of many happy afternoons walking the beaches in Sanibel and looking for shells. I have found several starfish but they have all been alive so they remained right where I found them. Which is a good thing I guess.

Check out Karen's jewelry. She has some really nice designs. And if you need supplies you can find them there too.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Time For Another Giveaway

So we are on the move again. And I am starting another giveaway. We had a great visit with my son and his family for my eldest grandson's 8th grade graduation and a surprise 40th birthday party for my son. And then to top the weekend off we all went on a hot air balloon ride. It was awesome even if there wasn't a lot of wind and we didn't go very far. The view was awesome and it is so calm and peaceful up there. I highly recommend it if you get the opportunity.

Needless to say I was busy for several days and barely had time to plurk let alone blog. But I am back on the road again and in full giveaway mode too. I am going to do this week's a little bit differently though. I am a member of the Artfire Jewelry Artists and Jewelry Supply Shops Guild. And we are having our first guild giveaway too. So I am going to promote that giveaway along with mine. To read about the guild give away click on the name of the guild above or go to

So for this week you need to go to the guild blog above. There are nine studios listed. For each shop that you post here along with the name of a red item from there studio I will email you a clue to determine where my location will be at the end of the week. So instead of posting clues here I will be sending them to you directly. You need to tell me how you want them sent to you. I can go to your studio and contact you that way or via plurk or your blog.

So hurry on over to our guild blog and check out that giveaway. And you can enter that one while you are there too. And if you are really good and also a little lucky you could win both. The bracelet shown here is the one I am giving away this week. Good luck and happy detective work.