Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Vacation in Tucson, Arizona: My Third Visit! (March 11 - 15)

Last month, I managed to get away from the office and spend a few days visiting a good friend and his wife who live in Tucson, Arizona. Making this trek to Arizona has become a tradition of sorts with my now having visited Tucson three times over the past three years!!

The iconic view of Arizona!! Lots of cactus - and all are protected by state law! If you build a house, you MUST pay to relocate each cactus.

The highlight of this year's visit came the very first day (Friday, March 12) when my friend drove me up to Mt. Lemmon. We lucked out in that last week the road leading up to the summit was closed because of heavy snow. This day, however, the weather was perfect: sunny, blue skies - great picture taking weather!! On the road up to Mt. Lemmon we passed this unusual rock formation - I call it the "Indian Head" rock as it resembles an American Indian - or so I imagine based upon the old movies of the 1950s.

Cactus, cactus and more cactus!!

Spectacular views abound along the scenic road up to Mt. Lemmon!

Near the summit at Mount Lemmon - elevation about 9,000 feet.

The Sky Island road leading up to Mt. Lemmon.

Have no doubt, the snow was DEEP! Thankfully, the road surface had been cleared and so there were no slippery driving conditions to worry about at all during the drive up to the summit. Near the peak was a ski lift and hundreds of skiers. We had lunch at the Iron Door restaurant. Good food ..... but we had to wait about 20 minutes before being seated.

On Saturday (March 13) my friend and I drove to Tombstone, Arizona (almost a 2-hour drive from Tucson). We purchased tickets ($10.00 per person) for a 30-minute reenactment of the famous Gunfight at the OK Corral!

The gunfight show was, well, OK. A bit silly but who cares. It ended with a BANG - several in fact! True to the actual historical record of the by now legendary shootout, the gunfight itself lasted less than about two minutes!

The actors who played Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday, and the other "good guys".
Last stop: on Sunday (March 14), we visited the petroglyphs at Signal Hill. Excellent outing - highly recommended.
Now that you have made it this far through this posting, please visit the last three postings - all made in the past week or so. With this posting, I am finally caught up with all my recent travels. Hope you enjoy the photos! Comments are welcome .... and sought after!!!

PS: I've made several postings over the past few weeks and have yet to receive any comments from my loyal followers. If anyone out there has the time, I'd really appreciate seeing your comments! Do you like the photography and my dialog with each posting? Just curious. I naturally want to keep my blog of interest to as many of my followers as I possibly can! Thanks in advance for your time!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mini-Vacation in San Luis Obispo and Paso Robles, CA March 25-28

Every once in a while I manage to tack on a little vacation time to a business assignment. A recent trip to Bakersfield (see prior posting) allowed me to take time for a short respite at a friend's house in San Luis Obispo, California. Although I had previously visited San Luis Obispo early last year (see posting from January, 2009), I was able to take some new sightseeing opportunities. One highlight, located near the town of Los Osos, was the state park called Montana del Oro.

Spectacular views abound at the beach in Montana del Oro park.

Another "find" - for me at least - was in Paso Robles, California, where I was surprised and pleased to visit several fine wineries. Who knew that Paso Robles is designated as an official American Vinticultural Area (AVA for short)??!! Like most folks, I am well aware of Sonoma and Napa and the many wineries in those two Northern California counties. Turns out, however, there are literally dozens of wineries in or near Paso Robles!! And I managed to visit five such places on Saturday, March 27!

Castoro Cellars: great scenery and excellent wines. I purchased a fine 'dessert wine'.

Eagle Castle winery. Just opened. Here I purchased a 375 mL-sized bottle of a "dessert wine" - basically a very sweet wine. Some folks turn up their noses at dessert wines but, hey, this sort of wine is just what I like! By the way, Eagle Castle charges a $5.00 'tasting fee' (sadly, most wineries do this now) but visitors are allowed to taste up to fourteen (14) different wines! A great value and a fine tasting experience.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lost Hills, California: March 22 - 25

About two weeks ago, I travelled to Bakersfield, California (first time there since January of 2009) and had the pleasure to visit one of our company's smaller oil fields in the nearby area to conduct a review of the chemical treating program in that location. I often am called upon to act as sort of a "Mr. Fix-It" wherein I travel to a field area and help our men and women engineers tackle whatever problems currently are afflicting their operations. And to be "Mr. Fix-It", I have to further take on the role of a detective, asking questions, digging up data, reviewing past reports, touring the field and then helping - somehow - to solve the mystery of the problem(s) at hand. Not an easy task! Anyway, this week's "patient" was located in Lost Hills - a very small town located about an hour's drive north of Bakersfield.

Travel north of Bakersfield on 99 and take a left turn onto Route 46 and then head west a few miles .... and you will arrive in Lost Hills!

Our Lost Hills oilfield is a very old operation. You can't miss it! Hwy 46 goes right through the middle of the oil field. For the unfamiliar visitor, it presents an odd sight indeed - seemingly hundreds of oil well pumps bobbing up and down. Quite a lot of pumping and all for slightly less than 5,000 barrels of oil per day .... less than what one typical oil well in the Middle East produces in one day!!!

After my work was completed, I continued to travel west on 46 to Hwy 101 an then headed south to visit a good friend in San Luis Obispo. I spent a few days there on vacation, heading home on Sunday, March 28. That mini-vacation will be the subject of my next posting. Stay tuned ....

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Houston's Azalea Trail - March 2010

Apologies for being late. I've been so very busy with work and a recent business trip and mini-vacation to San Luis Obispo as well as Tucson, Arizona that I've "fallen down" on my blogging efforts. I shall endeavor to catch up.

Herewith I present a few photos from the recent Azalea Trail - an annual event held in early March in the Bayou Bend area of Houston. Because of the unusually "cold" winter (I put "cold" in quotations since this is a relative term; a northerner would smile but the weather was cold for those of us who call Houston home!), the azaleas did not bloom on time. Many azaleas were still dormant at the time of this year's Azalea Trial. In fact, if one visits the site this weekend in April, I suspect there may still be many on display.

Enjoy the photos:

The Diana Garden - probably the best looking of the various gardens spread out within Bayou Bend.

The Clio Garden (ca. 1928).

Hundreds of magnolias (or so I was told) .....

I was not the only visitor taking pictures this fine day (March 8) ....

A description of Bayou Bend - where the annual Azalea Trail is centered. There are several other places along the 'trail' but this particular location is the main one!

Miss Ima Hogg - the lady who once lived at Bayou Bend and whose property is now the property of and maintained by the City of Houston and the Museum of Fine Arts. Reference: www.mfah.org/bayoubend

OK ... this is not part of the Azalea Trail .... it's the Japanese Tea Garden located in Hermann Park - an excellent place to spend a quiet afternoon while in Houston.
PS: I shall try to post pictures of my recent vacation in Tucson, Arizona (March 11 - 15) and San Luis Obispo, California (March 25 - 28) and maybe even my business trip to Lost Hills, California but now, my dear followers, I simply MUST get to work on completing my US federal taxes!! (Render unto Ceasar what's Ceasar's ... and before April 15th!!)