Heading Out West in 2014

It’s been nine months since we’ve traveled out West. Last May we went out to Phoenix, San Diego, and the Sacramento area. We were able to visit lots of friends and family. We’ve been feeling the itch to travel some again and see our very good friends in Phoenix and my married daughter in Sacramento.

Alex Zabala's websiteSo we’re heading out West in March. And we’re making it a business trip to meet with other authors, a couple of clients, and possibly do a couple of presentations for writers.

We’ll be visiting Alex Zabala and his wife in Phoenix. Alex is author of Treasure of the Mayan King and The Golden Scepter. Last May when we were there he was celebrating 5 hundred copies sold of Treasure of the Mayan King. Last month, January 2014, he celebrated 5 thousand copies sold!

Then we’ll visit with our very good friends, Terry & Virgie. Terry is a musician and Joel always loves playing with him and his band.

While in Phoenix, at some point, we’ll also have an opportunity to meet Larry Brooks, author of Story Engineering, a book Joel recommends to authors. Yet another contact in Albuquerque may be able to set up something for Joel to present to a book club.

On our way to see Rachelle in the Sacramento area, we’ll have a night in Santa Barbara, California to meet up with another author, Lynelle Paulick.

And if we can convince Tom Bentley – editor extraordinaire – not to do an overseas house sitting gig, maybe we’ll stop by and see him while we’re in California.

It should be a lot of fun! Join us on another adventure!

A Friday Working at Home

It’s Friday and we’re working at home. At least it feels like home. We’re in Albuquerque where we spent six weeks house sitting in June and July. The homeowner let us stay a couple of nights as we’re passing through again. Sonja knows just how to make us feel at home. Since we spent so much time here, we’re very comfortable. We know where everything is and just how Sonja likes everything to be.

Last night we worked together with Sonja to make a vegetable stir fry with brown rice for dinner. Tonight when she gets home from work, we’ll have a pasta dinner waiting for her. We leave in the morning. Our first stop will be to say hi to our friends Carrie and Larry before heading up to stay with Couchsurfing hosts Chris and John again.

So today we’re working here at the kitchen table getting our work done. Trying to finish a big client web job and working on new client stuff. Yep, feels like home!

Tomorrow – Albuquerque Once Again!

It’s our last day in Phoenix this time around. Today Joel will get to play music with Terry and friends coming over to practice. Tomorrow we’ll drive to Sonja’s in Albuquerque and stay two nights with her. Stir fry dinner tomorrow! Then it’s an overnight stop in Colorado Springs with Chris and John and another overnight stop in Nebraska before we land for two days in South Dakota. Then Rice Lake, here we come!

Joel playing
Ever feel like you're going uphill and never getting anywhere?

I just thought everyone might enjoy seeing Joel playing at the children’s playground… :)

Heading to Colorado on Saturday for a Repeat House Sitting Job

Today ended the six-week house sitting job here in Albuquerque. The homeowner has returned to a clean home and we made a nice dinner for her and her children. Since Sonja’s someone we’ve known for a while now, we’re enjoying an additional day or so with her and then we’re heading to Colorado on Saturday for a repeat house sitting job.

Rita in Colorado had us house sit for her a while back. We must have done a good job taking care of things and the two cats because she’s asked us back for two weeks. Another Rita in New Jersey may have us house sit for a few months this winter.

The six weeks here have been very productive. We’ve gotten lots of work creating websites, Joel’s published two new books (both also available as Kindle version) and re-released another book under a different title. (Check out all Joel’s books on Amazon)

Our two weeks in Colorado will allow us to visit Celestial Seasonings again and get some more tea. Fiona is wants some blueberry tea. We’ll also get to reconnect with Mrs. Parker, the Kindergarten teacher we got to visit twice this past year. And of course I’ll push Joel to continue working on the sequel to his Irish mystery novel.

Theobroma Chocolatier in Albuquerque

Every time we go to the local grocery store we pass this place called “Theobroma Chocolatier”. Being chocolate lovers, we just had to go in one day.

Amazing! Lots of different varieties of chocolate-based gifts. Dark chocolate is Joel and I’s favorite and Fiona loves milk chocolate. They have chocolate with spice. A very interesting new one we got to try has thyme and olive oil. Chuck let us try a few different things.

Once we got home I wondered what ‘theobroma’ was. So I looked it up. According to Merriam Webster online it’s “a genus of tropical American trees (family Sterculiaceae) which includes the cacao (T. cacao)“>

Petroglyph Monument in Albuquerque Scares Fiona

I decided we needed to get out and see something here in Albuquerque. I chose the Petroglyph Monument as I’d heard the parking fee was only $1 on weekdays and there is no admission charge. I thought it would be an interesting site. Yes, it was hot. But we only needed to be out for a bit. I don’t ever want to push the family to do more than necessary. So we donned hats, sunglasses and lathered on the sunscreen.

Schools in Denver

Tuesday we visited schools in Denver. Fiona got to meet Mrs. Parker’s Kindergarten class at Yale Elementary School. The students have been following Fiona’s blog and were very excited to meet her in person. Everyone wanted to play with Fiona and sit by her. They took her outside to play on the playground for a few minutes before school ended.

Then we visited Renaissance Montessori Academy. Joel and I met with the Board to discuss some ways they can reach out to the community to let parents know what they offer at this school. While we talked, Fiona played with some of the learning tools they had available. If you are in the Parker Colorado area, we recommend you take them up on their offer of a free tour of the Academy.

Our last stop was meeting with members of the Board of Rhythm Vision. They work with local schools using music to educate students. We got to play on the drums they make! Roxy made us feel very welcome and we hope to come back and visit more.

Today we’re off to see Sonja in Albuquerque. Check out her art!

Montreal 3rd Leg: Albuquerque to Denver

Ah, I sure hope all our couch surfing experiences are like staying with Sonja last night. Sonja is an artist, a foodie, a teacher, and adventurer, and her kids are that rare blend of open childlike enthusiasm and well-mannered carefully cultivated maturity and kindness. It’s obvious where they get their people-skills from.

We talked about Sonja’s art and the business she’s building around it until nearly midnight. She already thinks differently about business; she’s a natural counterintuitive. I’d recommend paying attention to her, whether you’re an artist or an entrepreneur, but especially if you’re both. She’s going to be successful, because she’s got the talent both artistically and practically.

Fiona was so sad to leave in the morning. She’d made a great friend, building sofa-cushion forts in the living room, playing dress-up, doing art. She had a ball.

Interesting; two stops, two keyboards. Wonder if I’m going to continue traveling with a keyboard I only brought for noodling and practice?

Montreal 2nd Leg: Phoenix to Albuquerque

Tonight is our first couch surfing experience. Hoping it works out to drop in on a total stranger with all our stuff and not totally freak out on both sides.

One of the many funny things: driving south through California’s central valley, it was brown and dead. On one side of the freeway, dead brown grass. On the other side, just for variety, brown dead grass. For 7 solid hours.

Driving through the desert from Phoenix to Albuquerque, Fiona kept saying “Look! It’s all green! Why is the whole desert green?” And it was. Green cactus. Green trees. Green shrubs. Put that in the red sand under the blue sky filled with crisp white clouds, and I kept saying “This is why I love the desert.”

We keep leaving later than intended and arriving in the dark. I’d like to get to new places in late afternoon so we can see where we’re going. I’d also love to see more of the spectacular scenery.