Christmas in Baltimore

Christmas in Baltimore

Last year we spent Christmas in Denver.  Cold and snowy.  This year we headed to the opposite coast.  Dustin and Chrissie made sure it would be sunny and warmer than San Diego.  But, it wasn’t the promise of warm weather that got us heading to Baltimore.  It was our first chance to see and spoil our new grandson…Carter!

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Not sure how Chrissie managed at being a new Mommy and organizer of a Dingman Family/Howard Family Christmas get-a-way to the mountains a few hours outside of Baltimore, but she did.

good times were had by all…IMG_4941

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The Christmas Eve party brought out the best in all of us…
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Our Latest Edition

Our Latest Edition

2015 was a great year in many ways. But, topping the bill was the birth of Carter on November 21.. Chrissie and Dustin “done good!”

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Tucker took in all in stride…
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East coast Invasion

East coast Invasion

End of June through the 1st week of July found us on the “other” coast. It was an important trip on two counts.
Julia has had a great year and qualified for the Nationals in NYC. She took her two solos, a duet and six group numbers. Amazing!! Her group tap number “I Mean It” took 1st overall!!

When not watching dance we had a chance to see some of Manhattan. It was a wild few days.

Click on the image and scroll down through the slide show…

New York City

We flew into Baltimore to start the trip with Dustin, Christina and Tucker. We caught an Orioles’ game, enjoyed an afternoon trip to St. Michaels, MD and watched 4th of July fireworks from their balcony. Lots of good old, wine and laughs!

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Joshua National Park

Joshua National Park

When we left Quartzite we made a side trip on the way home. Despite it being in our backyard, we had never been to Joshua. One of our newer National Parks, Joshua is spectacular. It’s where the Mojave and Sonoran deserts meet. Where one begins and the other stops has be marked by their elevations and, thus the kinds of vegetation you’ll find in each of our great deserts. The Sonoran is a low desert and famous for the stately Saguaro Cactus. We spent our three days in the north end of the park defined by the high Mojave Desert.

The higher elevations are the home of the Joshua…
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The geologic history of the area has resulted in some of most spectacular rock formations you will find anywhere.

According to Wikipedia…”The rock formations of Joshua Tree National Park were formed more than 100 million years ago from the cooling of magma beneath the surface into monzogranite, with roughly rectangular joints. Groundwater then filtered through the joints to erode away the corners and edges to create rounded stones, and flash floods washed away covering ground to create piles of boulders.[9] These prominent outcrops are known as inselbergs.”

We hiked for hours among these great formations…
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Local Native Americans left their message for us…
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Day 1…

Day 2…

Day 3…

Quartzsite…Our First Airstream Rally

Quartzsite…Our First Airstream Rally

Just rapped our first Airstream Rally. Our friends, Fred and Penny, asked us to join their unit for four days in Quartzsite, Az.

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If you haven’t been to Quartzsite, I’m not sure how to explain it to you. Pictures help. It is said there are about 2000 residents. In January the population swells to 60,000+. And they are all in RV’s spread across the desert. If there is anyone under the age of 65, we didn’t see them.

Here’s a panorama overlooking the area…

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So what brings all these folks to Quartzite? A swap meet. And not just any swap meet. This is the granddaddy of all swap meets. These few photos don’t do it justice. Literally, they are spread mile after mile.

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If you have some 30,000 RV’s in town there is high demand for all kinds of services…

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Besides the interesting folks that joined the rally, there were some classic Airstreams. This is a “47 Airstream. Very cool!!

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Fred and Penny joined us in Twentynine Palms for a day. This is their ’56 Airstream. Sweet!

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We are in Twentynine Palms for a fews days to explore Joshua Tree National Park. More from there soon.

Searching for a White Christmas

Searching for a White Christmas

We headed to my Rick and Karma’s hoping for a white Christmas and some great family fun. We drove in a convoy with Erin, Jeff and the kids. Dustin flew in from Baltimore.

And, boy did we find what we where looking for.

Great fun in the snow…

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Ice Skating…
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Christmas Eve services at Trinity Lutheran…

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Quite before the storm…

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Eastern Sierra Fall Colors…Day 6 & 7

Eastern Sierra Fall Colors…Day 6 & 7

On day 6 we picked up camp in Bishop and headed to Lone Pine to get closer to an area we had never explored before …the Alabama Hills and Mt. Whitney. We got a late start and the wind gods decided to kick up a fuss. We got settled into our new camp, but exploring would have to wait for next day.

Day 7 started early. We headed for the Alabama Hills just west of Lone Pine along the road to the Mt. Whitney Portal.

The Hills are famous as the location for dozens of western movies. You can just imagine the good guys chasing the bad guys or the Indians laying in wait for some unsuspecting white men to come around the bend.

According to Wikipedia “the Alabamas are the same age as the nearby Sierras. The difference in wear can be accounted for by different patterns of erosion…Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, towers several thousand feet above this low range, which itself is 1,500 feet (460 m) above the floor of Owens Valley. However, gravity surveys indicate that the Owens Valley is filled with about 10,000 feet (3,000 m) of sediment and that the Alabamas are the tip of a very steep escarpment. This feature may have been created by many earthquakes similar to the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake which, in a single event, caused a vertical displacement of 15–20 feet.”

To get to the really cool formations you have to leave the paved road.  We ate a lot of dust as we wandered the hills for hours. The cool thing about the rock formations in the Alabama Hills is you can see different things in the formations like you can when you watch big white, puffy clouds. What do you imagine seeing  in the rocks?

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The contrast between the Alabama Hills and and the High Sierra is dramatic!

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We eventually made our way (along very dusty, dirt roads) to the Mt. Whitney Portal were the hike and climb, for the more adventurous folk, begins…

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Even with California’s drought, the Lone Pine Creek waterfall at the trailhead was flowing pretty good.

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Eastern Sierra Fall Colors…Day 5

Eastern Sierra Fall Colors…Day 5

Here’s our Day 5 Track…

 

From Bishop we started the morning be heading straight to Mono Lake.  According to Wikipedia

“Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline soda lake in Mono CountyCalifornia, formed at least 760,000 years ago as a terminal lake in an endorheic basin. The lack of an outlet causes high levels of salts to accumulate in the lake. These salts also make the lake water alkaline.  This desert lake has an unusually productive ecosystem based on brine shrimp that thrive in its waters, and provides critical nesting habitat for two million annual migratory birds that feed on the shrimp.  The human history of Mono Lake is associated with its productive ecosystem. The native Kutzadika’a people derived nutrition from the pupae of the alkali flies that live in the lake. When the city of Los Angeles diverted water from the lake, it lowered the lake level, which imperiled the migratory birds.”

Mono Lake never disappoints!

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We worked our way back south taking the June Lake Loop. More great color!

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We finished the day with spur-of-the-moment turn up McGee Creek road. It was mostly gravel. But, the scene was spectacular!

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