Caleb and I walked into the Sophienburg Museum in New Braunfels, TX around 1:30pm on Saturday Dec. 12. The Sophienburg houses one of the largest repositories of information that chronicles the German immigration movement to Texas (Wikipedia). We found our way there because I was looking for my Great-great-great grandfather’s rocking chair that my Grandmother told me was at a museum in New Braunfels, TX. What better place to start a search for an old rocking chair then at the Sophienburg Museum. What I found was a whole lot more.

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At the time I started writing about spontaneous decisions and where they led us, I thought that those forays into spontaneity would be somewhat infrequent. Since a few weeks ago, I can honestly say that we have succumbed to somewhere between six to a dozen “spur of the moment” decisions… and all have led us to new adventures and some great experiences. In other words, we have moved away from the “carefully planned” and have fully embraced the “impetuously make it up as we go along”. So, with this blog, I will officially move away from spontaneity as a theme. We are huge fans, but it has become common for us, and is more the rule now than the exception. Lately, any story I might tell could fall under this heading, so this is the last for a while.

Our original plan had us traveling from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Carlsbad Caverns, much farther to the south. But while we were in Santa Fe, we happened to see a brochure for White Sands, New Mexico and it looked interesting. So, why not stop in Las Cruces along the way and check it out? Change in plan! So, off we headed, checked into a combination hotel and RV Park (no one would want to stay in the hotel, but the RV Park was okay) and we spent the night.

The mountains near White Sands

The mountains near White Sands

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Spontaneity leads us to an unexpected adventure

Spontaneity leads us to an unexpected adventure

We left the Valley of Fire, outside of Las Vegas and started East again toward the Petrified Forest – which was our next stop. After several hours of driving, Sandy decided she had had enough, so we started looking for a place to stop. She found what looked like a State Park, so we pulled off the road, only to NOT find it. All we could find was a golf course. The road was narrow, and before we knew it, we had doubled back under the highway again and ended up in Williams, AZ – a town we knew nothing about.

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One of the fringe benefits we hoped to gain while traveling around the country was added spontaneity in our lives. There is a certain degree of comfort that I gain from regimen (Sandy – not so much), and it has taken me a while to realize that “stirring the pot” so to speak, is a lot more exciting. For me, it is a good thing to get out of my comfort zone, even if it is a little, well… uncomfortable. I also realized that, for many years, my life sort of drove me as opposed to me driving it. There were always job responsibilities, family responsibilities, and (of course), the responsibility to have fun in between all of the other responsibilities. This left very little time for serious, spur-of-the-moment decisions. As such, I have been trying, and not always too successfully, to NOT over plan everything.

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I grew up in the San Joaquin Valley, so I had a lot of opportunity to spend time at Yosemite. My earliest memories of the park go back to about the age of four. I climbed Half Dome for the first time around the age of eleven or twelve, and have probably climbed it close to ten times since. My family spent a lot of time in Yosemite, and I was lucky enough to introduce it to numerous friends over the years. I love Yosemite like no other place.

Which leads me to a sacrilegious statement: Zion National Park is at least as awesome. There. I said it, and I still don’t believe I can say it. It feels like I am letting an old friend down. But after two different trips to Zion, and a total of half a month or so of days in the park, I have to say that this place is amazing.

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As mentioned, we plan on getting back to some of the fun things we did in Death Valley when we were there a few weeks ago, but since that is taking me a little more time than I thought to get down digitally, I thought I would throw a quick one in here.

Death Valley was extremely desolate, yet incredibly beautiful. A lot of people thought we were crazy for going there in October – they were pretty sure it was going to be way too hot. But we were frankly surprised by mild temperatures, high 80’s during the day and mild high 70’s during the nights. We even had a little rain on the night we arrived, something not seen that often in Death Valley. Little did we know, it was going to get a lot worse.

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After a very nice 8-day visit to Death Valley, Sandy and I took off and headed for Zion National Park on Sunday. We had a wonderful time in Death Valley – in fact it was so wonderful, we pretty much did something fun every day and there was little time to write. What extra time we had was spent cooking, imbibing and enjoying the week that Sandy took off from work. So, some D.V. entries are definitely coming, but I thought I would try to catch up to now, now, and get to what happened before, later. Make sense? So here is a little story about our first hike at Zion.

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As we’ve spent the last few days tooling around Los Angeles, one can’t help but be overwhelmed by the endless sea of people, cars, houses, businesses and stuff. Lotsa stuff. Not that we don’t all live with that each day, just about anywhere we happen to call home, but the sheer size of it all down here and the way it has spread outward brings one word to mind – Sprawl!

So, that is the theme of today’s blog. I hope you don’t mind if I just kind of let the narrative of this one sprawl a bit. Perhaps I’ll start in one area and just kind of let it spread out and go wherever it naturally (or unnaturally) wants to flow. Bear with me, would you? If not, you can go straight to L… A.

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It’s Tuesday morning and I am sitting outside on a picnic table by the banks of the Kaweah River. There isn’t much water, but given that there was no water a couple of days ago, I guess I can’t complain. There was some rain here on Sunday when we arrived and that was just enough to freshen up things a bit. It is very beautiful. Bird noise. The sun is cresting the peaks to the East.

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