Animal Ark in winter – That is in Nevada?

Animal Ark is north of Reno, NV.  We had been there in the summer, but never in winter.  We found out that Animal Ark was opened for two weekends in the winter of 2017 .

The Reno, NV area of Nevada had received a lot of snow in the winter of 2016- 2017.  At one point Animal Ark didn’t know if they would be even able to open on Martin Luther King weekend since there might have been too much snow!

We decided to go up and we had a blast, but boy were we cold!  It was so neat to see the animals be active instead of hiding in the shade like they do when it is hot.

! Animal Ark bear sign revised

The actual bears were hibernating.


! Animal Ark bobcat revised

Bobcat (photo courtesy of my husband)


We were seeing a lot of cottontail rabbit ‘remains’ in the enclosures.  We were able to watch this jaguar catch this rabbit.  The rabbit ran right for the jaguar!  The staff thought it was since there was fresh straw, etc put out in the enclosures.

!Animal Ark jag bunny revised

Jaguar with a fresh catch  (photo courtesy of my husband)


Here is the website for Animal Ark:

If you are interested in going it is a good idea to either check out their posts on Facebook or check out their website a head of time.

Until later – Heather




Red Rock Canyon – That is in Nevada?

At the end of September the husband had a short work conference in Las Vegas so I tagged along and we turned it into a mini vacation.  Most people think of gambling and shows when they think of Las Vegas, but since we live in Northern Nevada we didn’t do any of that.  After spending our required 1.5 days on the Strip, for his conference, we got a hotel away from the Strip and went exploring.

So, I found the Hampton Inn & Suites Las Vegas – Red Rock / Summerlin.   It was is on the west side of Las Vegas and near the ‘loop’ road so I knew we could get to the areas that we planned on going without too much difficulty.

Years ago we visited Las Vegas and Red Rock Canyon was a way outside of  town.  Well, that is not the case anymore.  Las Vegas has grown a lot since the last time we had visited.  It turns out the hotel I selected was 11 miles from Red Rock Canyon.

So, in the afternoon, after the conference ended we went and explored Red Rock Canyon.  There is now a nice visitor center and we drove the scenic route and took some photos.  Since it was later in the day we didn’t go on any long hikes.

Here are a few photos.  Las Vegas is visible in the background of the upper right photo.

Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon

Red Rock Canyon outside Las Vegas

So, when was a the last time you visited Las Vegas and did you go see anything besides The Strip?

Later – H


That is in Nevada? series

Since I know most people think of desert, dirt, sand and the gambling, etc of Las Vegas I figured it was a good time to start a series showing some of the other side of Nevada.

For example, did you know there are tall mountains, running streams, wild horses, lakes, fishing, green grass, ranches, farm land and more in Nevada?

So, about once a month I will do a post of a different place in Nevada.  Some will be a couple of photos and others will have the history, etc behind the place.

Even though we have lived in Nevada over 20 years some of these places we hadn’t visited until the last few years.  And, yes, I even thought the central part of Nevada was mostly dirt and sand before we went out there.

So, I will start the series with this photo:

hot air balloon, Sierra Nevada Mountains, Nevada, Gardnerville

Hot Air Balloon over golf course, Gardnerville, NV

A few years ago my husband gave me a Hot Air Balloon ride as my birthday present. If you know me you know I love watching hot air balloons, but I am afraid of heights.  I can tell you that being in the basket under the balloon was magical.    I would love to do another ride sometime since I probably would enjoy it more now that I know what to expect.

This photo is over the golf course in Gardnerville, NV and those are the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background.  We took our ride in May since the ground is still cold in the morning so they can get the lift.  This was definitely a bad year for snow fall since there was hardly any snow left on Job’s Peak.

So, have you traveled to Nevada?  What are your favorite places to visit?

Later – H


First eleven tips for Hawaii (or other locations that require you to fly)

My family finally got to go on a much needed vacation.  We have been home for just over 24 hours and I am happy that I have gotten two loads of laundry already.  I figured I would post some tips that came in really handy for us (in no special order).

  1. Carry on luggage – Each family member was able to travel with one carry on suitcase and a backpack.  Unless you have fancy events planned you will find that you will spend most of your time in your swimsuits and shorts anyways.  But, at the same time you will sometimes find that the airlines will gate check your suitcases to your final destination (that happened to us each way).  (We even had space in our bags to bring home new beach towels and a few other new items.)
  2. Roll your clothes – If you aren’t on Pinterest you might not have seen the posts that by rolling your clothes you can store more in a drawer, etc.  It really does work so I would suggest you try it next time.
  3. Detangler spray & TSA liquid rules – Each person is able to take a quart-sized bag with your liquids/creams as long as each original container is less than 3 oz.  The humidity and salt water makes it so we get more knots in our hair so this time I put some detangler spray in a small bottle and took some with us.
  4. Bug spray – We usually go hiking when travel and this trip wasn’t any different.  So, we bought a small container of bug spray and took it with us (in the quart-sized bag with our other liquids).
  5. Breakfast in the room – The hotel we stayed at this time had a Keurig coffee maker and a mini fridge (no microwave).   We bought instant oatmeal at the grocery store and made it for breakfast most mornings.  (See #6, #7 and #11)
  6. Metal fork and spoon – I packed one for each family member.  These came in very handy.  Note: You are not able to take sharp knives in the carry on luggage so I took a couple of plastic knives.
  7. Plastic bowls – Since we had room in our suitcases (by not taking too many clothes and rolling what I did take) I was able to pack plastic bowls for each family member.  These came in very handy for breakfast and for eating pie, etc (see #11).
  8. Plastic Ziploc bags – I took a few new quart-sized ones and a couple of gallon-sized ones.  These were very useful!  (One thing we did daily was put ice in a bag and used it as an ice pack in our ice chest.)
  9. Plastic, see-through water bottle – You can take an empty water bottle through security.  We filled it with water at the airports and put ice inside of it when we traveled and it helped keep our snack foods and drinks cold.
  10. Ice chest – The last few trips we have been able to put a collapsible ice chest in one of the suitcases.  We used this to keep our drinks and snacks cold for when we went to the beach or driving around the island.
  11. Grocery store – Usually when we arrive we look for a grocery store so we can buy some food.  This time we lucked upon a local grocery store chain (Tamura’s Market) which definitely had cheaper prices than the big mainland chain that we found the first day.  We were even able to find locally made (Ted’s Bakery) pie.  The Macadamia Nut Cream Pie was really good!

So, hopefully these help you out and they will come in handy the next time we fly somewhere on vacation.

Later – H

Happy Memorial Day!

I want to wish everyone a Happy Memorial Day.

After just coming back from a trip that included Gettysburg, PA and Washington, D.C. (Korean War Memorial, etc) history (when it comes to war, etc) has become more alive for my family.

Sometimes just reading about something in a book doesn’t have as much as an affect.

Oh, and I will write posts about our trip later.  I am surprised how much we saw and did in ten days.

Later – H


Daffodil Hill, CA and another cool book

In March we went away for an extended weekend in Northern California.  Our first stop was Daffodil Hill, CA (near Sutter Creek, CA) – it happened to be opening weekend.

daffodil, vacation

Daffodil Hill, CA


It is free to go to Daffodil Hill, but they do have donation boxes out.  We walked around for a while taking photos (along with lots of other people) and then enjoyed lunch across the street (a service organization was serving it) before heading on our way.



Now about another cool (photo) book.

The Most Beautiful Villages and Towns of California     by Joan Tapper  (2007)

The husband picked up the above book at the library.  Considering we have lived our entire lives in or near Northern California I didn’t think I would really look at this book.  But, when I saw the cover and realized I didn’t know what town it was (turns out it was Sutter Creek, CA which is near Daffodil Hill) I figured I would at least flip through the book.

The book talked about many small towns in California .  It was amazing to realize that we had been through (or investigated) many of the towns (at least the ones near the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California).

What new photo books have you checked out lately?

Later – H

Poll – What do you want to see?

I figured it was time for a poll.  I have 30+ draft posts all needing a photo or something and new ones in my head.  So, I am trying to decide what topics you are most interested in (I will always have a little bit of a lot of topics, but trying to figure out which ones to finish first).

So, please vote for the top topics you want to see or add your own topic.  The poll will be open for a week.

Thanks in advance!  – H

Consignment store and Maui

Have you ever thought of going to a Consignment (or Thrift) Store on vacation?  Well, daughter forgot to take a belt with us on vacation so we looked up the local thrift stores.  There was a Goodwill (farther away) and a consignment store a few blocks from the condo we had rented.

Before we went I realized the long sleeve denim shirt I had brought for a cover up was making me too hot so I was hoping to find a dress type item that would work as a cover up (then I would not need to wear the denim shorts either).

So we went to Rainbow Attic in Kihei, Maui.

Daughter found a belt for $6.00 (decent price considering we were in Hawaii and not in a big town) and I looked at the dress type items.  There was a few sleeveless dresses in the $10 to $20 range that I tried on.  One was huge, another was too long (to the ground) and the one priced $20 fit nicely (over my swimsuit) and came to just below my knees.  I had to debate if I wanted to spend $20 for, but finally decided it was better than everything else so it left with us.

dress, hawaii, Maui, consignment store

What I didn’t know until later was the dress brand ‘Tommy Bahama’ was a NAME brand since there was a store in the Shops at Wailea (expensive shopping center).  And, I didn’t know until now that their dress start at $88 on their website.

So, we have multiple photos of me in my ‘bargain’ dress, I spent about 5 days wearing the dress over my swimsuits and I was definitely cooler walking around in it (the last day I had to wear a shirt and short as a cover up since the dress went lower in the back and my upper back was starting to get toasted from snorkeling).

Now, I have a fun dress to wear around home in the summer also.

What bargain have you found lately?      – H

Grass fed beef – Maui

Do you eat grass fed beef?  Have you ever tried it?  When we stayed in Hana, Maui for a few days on vacation we took most of the food we thought we would eat with us (no, not from home, but went to the Safeway near the airport).

We decided we would go out to eat, etc in Hana at least once.  Well, the Hana Ranch Store had some Hawaiian made Chocolate Macadamia Nut ice cream so we picked up that (who could resist?) and we decided to pick up a package of Grass fed hamburger (from a ranch on Maui).  Our choices were really the grass fed hamburger or small steaks (hey, it is a small town).

All we had in our condo was Kirkland Sea Salt (which was completely caked over – what humidity will do for you) and pepper.  My first thought was I hope the hamburger had a good flavor since there wasn’t much we could do to improve it.

We were pleasantly shocked at how good the hamburger tasted!  Since we are now home and live in area with cows I am seriously thinking of looking for some grass fed beef to see if it tastes as good.

Otherwise, I will have another reason to hope to visit Hawaii more often 🙂

Later – H

Spring Break – a week of many firsts

We decided to go camping for our Spring vacation in March 2013.  We went to Bishop, CA (just south of Mammoth Mountain, but definitely warmer than where we are from) for a few days and then we went into Death Valley National Park for a few days.

Some of the firsts:


– First time Pepper (8 month old Golden Retriever puppy) slept outside (you could tell she was nervous with the different sounds, etc).  We took her portable crate and set it up right outside the tent and chained her to the truck.  You could tell she wasn’t happy since in the morning she would try to get her nose into the tent zipper so we would allow her in the tent.  (I think this is what added to our zipper breaking – see below.)


– First time Pepper went on long hikes and she did well with her doggy backpack (she carried her own foldable water bowl, a few doggy cookies and some plastic bags).  The spot in the left (above the horizontal line [dirt road]) is our truck.  Pepper did good hiking up and down that trail.


– First time my family officially went bouldering (rock climbing without the ropes).  Our daughter has started enjoying rock climbing and there are some places near Bishop, CA which are famous for bouldering (some friends go down a lot so they loaned us a crash pad and a book with routes to take on the rocks).

Eureka Sand Dunes, Death Valley

– First time we drove into Death Valley National Park on the dirt/graded road from Big Pine, CA (about 2.5 hours to the Mesquite Campground and it goes by the 700 ft Eureka Sand Dunes).  Pepper and I stayed at the truck since she is not allowed on trails, etc in National Parks (she had to stay in the campground, on dirt roads or near the paved roads).

– First time we camped in Mesquite Campground (north end of Death Valley near Scotty’s Castle).  We had a couple of days/nights with high winds (storm heading into California, but it didn’t get to us) – the tent poles are luckily built to bend or our tent probably would not have stayed up.  (We heard from a neighbor that the campground was flooding the previous week due to the rain.  I guess we should be thankful we only had the wind.)

– First time our tent got a rip in it and the first time the zipper broke.  We think the tent ripped when we moved it from our first campsite (on the inside of a loop and closer to the restrooms) to the campsite on the outside edge of the park -less people walking close to our tent and no mouse running through the campsite in the evening like we had the first night 🙂 .  Pepper was much calmer the second and third nights.  The rip has already been fixed and replacing the zipper is on my ‘To Do’ list before our next camping trip.  We realized our tent is about 20 years old so that is not bad.  I don’t think replacing the zipper will be hard, but I will report after it is finished.

Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

– First time we went to the Racetrack playa (2.5 hour drive each way on a dirt road from the Mesquite Campground).  The racetrack is where rocks mysteriously move on the playa and leave a trail behind them (no one has ever seen them as they moved, just the path after the fact).  This was another place Pepper and I had to stay at the truck.  Luckily we parked in such a way that we stayed in the shade the whole time.

Rhyolite, Ghost Town, Death Valley– First time we went to Rhyolite (old ghost town between Beatty, NV and Death Valley National Park).  We were able to walk Pepper around the town.  There even is a house that  was made from old glass bottles.

We had a good Spring Break.  We did come home a day early since the wind was so high the tent was bending/making noise all night long for two nights.  Also, after driving on all of the dirt roads everything was DUSTY.  If it could not be thrown in the washing machine it had to be wiped off or have the air compressor blow it clean.

We have had two flat tires on our truck since we bought it (1998) both on dirt roads.  The first one was years ago and we were a long way away from anything and the spare was low on air.  Luckily we made it to a very small town and they loaned us an air compressor.


This time we got one coming back from the Racetrack playa.  A family heard the noise and stopped us (they had gotten a flat tire on the way into the Racetrack playa).  This was the first time we had a shredded tire.  Luckily the spare was full of air, etc so we didn’t have a problem putting it on.  We went out to Beatty, NV and the tire place had an used tire (our size!) that we bought for $30 as our spare.  The place told us that they get about two vehicles a week coming in that had a flat tire from the Racetrack playa road so we were not alone.

What adventures have you taken lately?  -H