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!

Beautiful Kansas Sky

We left Kansas City, Missouri this morning early – before 7 a.m. Drove through Kansas – not much to see. However, I did get this beautiful photo of the sky and clouds.

the beautiful Kansas sky

We drove through the Panhandle of Oklahoma and Texas – through Guymon and Dalhart. Funny that we just watched a Ken Burns documentary about the Dust Bowl of the 1930s with Joel’s mom just the day before we left and it mentioned these areas.

Now we’re settled into our hotel in Tucumcari, New Mexico. After filling our tummies, we’re catching up on email and stuff. Tomorrow we drive to Phoenix, Arizona and see our great friends – Terry & Virgie!

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.

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.

Sunscreen and Hats to Prevent Skin Cancer

Did that title grab your attention? Good!

When Joel and I were growing up in Imperial Beach back in the 70s we didn’t worry much about how the sun was affecting us. We were out in the sun every day and most of us thought getting ‘tanned’ was cool. Since we’re both fair skinned we often got burned. Sure, once in a while my mom put sunscreen on us. But there wasn’t the education back then we have now on the effects of sun and skin cancer.

Fast forward 20 years to 2001. I was 36. The large freckle on my neck that everyone remembers me always having got noticed by my youngest sister one day. She hadn’t seen me in a couple of months. She told me she thought the spot looked bigger. I looked in a mirror and felt around and realized that I could now ‘feel’ it whereas before it was always just a flat surface.

I immediately went to the dermatologist and had it biopsied. Sure enough I had melanoma. I remember sitting at work and getting this news. My boss and co-workers were all very supportive. The doctor said we caught it early and he thought they could completely remove it. So I went in one morning and had a 4-inch long section of my neck cut open and the melanoma removed. They got it all! It’s been 10 years and never have I had a recurrence. I actually have quite a nice face lift! :)

A few years later in 2007 Joel’s doctor said that some bumps on his face were basal cell carcinoma. His was a bit more wide spread and the surgery was very extensive. They pulled and tugged and moved some skin around. He too is now cancer free. Our children have a higher risk I’m told of getting skin cancer now though.

So here in the hot New Mexico sun I’m slathering sunscreen on my face and neck before I go out. I need to get in the habit of doing it for Fiona as well. I wear my sunglasses, Joel has his always, and now Fiona has a pair in the van. She and I both wear hats a lot when we go out.

Recently an acquaintance posted on Facebook that she was sunburned but that it was the only way to get a tan. Please, please, please don’t think you need to get sunburned to get a tan. You don’t need the tan that badly. They have this great self-tanning lotion you can use now. It’s not worth the scare when in 20 years you find out you have cancer. It’s not worth having your child wonder if you’re going to be okay when they find out you have skin cancer. Sure we’re all fine now. But it could have ended differently.

Wear your sunscreen and hats!

Officially House Sitting in New Mexico

Today is the first day of our officially house sitting in Albuquerque New Mexico for the next six weeks. Our host has left for vacation. Since we’ve stayed with our host overnight as we’ve traveled several times, we’re very comfortable here. We have a nice ‘office’ to work in, a large kitchen to cook in, a nice living room for Joel to set his music up in so he can play and record.

Fiona has her own room and bathroom as do we. There’s a huge backyard for Fiona to play in. There’s a garden I can tend and roses to enjoy. It’s in a quiet neighborhood within walking distance of the store. The library isn’t far so we’ll be able to visit there regularly.

Our house sitting responsibilities include:

Our Pet Dinosaur and other assorted photos

Fiona found her pet dinosaur. Several in fact. You can see in the gallery below photos of Fiona riding a dinosaur and walking another. They vary in size from very tiny (Fiona can hold the head of one in her hand) to HUGE!

We decided not to drive the main interstate between Colorado and Albuquerque and went the back roads through Taos instead, the home of Kit Carson. We also drove along the Rio Grande.

We’re enjoying our stay in New Mexico other than the smoke we’re getting from the fires in Arizona. Hopefully it will clear in a few days and we can continue to enjoy this gorgeous weather.

Adventurous Mishaps Traveling from Arizona to New Mexico to Colorado

We left at 7:30 am Saturday to start the long drive from Arizona to Albuquerque New Mexico. We had gotten everything packed the night before and felt great about getting started. During the two weeks we’d been in Mesa house sitting, we’d never had any problems with the garage door opening and closing. But sure enough, when we went to leave that morning we couldn’t get it to close electronically. After several attempts Joel manually closed it and we made sure it locked. (Since then the home owners say it works just fine!)

Our first goal was to find a Starbucks and get our morning tea. Though we know there are half a dozen Starbucks in the area we were in, we just couldn’t seem to find one. We finally gave up because we wanted to hit the road.

House Sitting in Ottawa in August

It’s confirmed. We will be house sitting in August in Ottawa Canada. We’re looking forward to seeing friends in Ottawa and maybe even heading over to Montreal to say hi to some friends. Then there’s other musician friends in Toronto. Should be fun.

This house sitting thing is picking up. We’re leaving our current house sitting gig in Arizona on Saturday and arriving on Sunday at our next gig in Colorado. June and July we house sit in New Mexico and now Ottawa in August.

If you need a house sitter anytime from September forward, you’d better contact us soon before our schedule fills up!

New Mexico to Colorado

We spent the night in New Mexico with Sonja and her children. We had a great time and hope that we can come back and stay with them again sometime.

Today we drive up to Denver to meet with Dorothy who is going to show us some of Denver. Then we stay the night with friend Jason Batt and his family.