A Different Kind of Valentine’s Day

For Valentine’s Day this year we decided to bypass the traditional candy, flowers, or dinner at a crowded restaurant. With a desire to enjoy the sunshine, avoid crowds, and spend some together time away from life distractions, we packed the camping gear, loaded up the car, and headed to our favorite place…


I know, doesn’t sound very romantic, does it?  For some crazy reason (to some anyway) we love this place! Over the past 30 years we have been here about 25 times and each visit is unique as well as beautiful.  Maybe it is the serenity, the diversity, or  the peacefulness that calls to us but we are drawn back here year after year. Last spring we came in early March to experience the Super Bloom.



Once every decade or so, the desert comes alive with a magnificent show of flowers. The almost magical conditions of dormant flowers seeds, rain, and weather have to be just right for this phenomenon to occur.  It really was a sight to behold.



 We left home at 4:00 am and arrived before 9:00 am. The campground much busier than expected but we found a couple leaving so we were able to get a great campsite. We had packed light for our brief visit and set up was completed in no time.


We now had a full day to soak up some much needed sun and enjoy the day.

After settling in and taking some time to appreciate the day before us, we decided to head over to the pool at Furnace Creek Ranch. There is a marvelous spring-fed swimming pool that maintains about a 80 degree temperature year round. For a mere $5.00 each we could use the pool and showers for an entire day. We had a lovely swim with snow capped mountains in the background. I actually forgot to take a picture but more information and pictures are found in the provided link.

A few hours later we headed back to the campsite for lunch and a brief nap.


 We wanted to make the most of our short visit so soon pulled out our beloved Scrabble game for a few ‘friendly’ (but competitive) games.


It was Valentine’s Day after all so we continued the celebration with some bubbly.


We completed a lovely day with barbecued steak and baked potatoes, a campfire, and star gazing. The nighttime sky is unbelievable!

Before we knew it we were enjoying the sunrise from our tent…


…and it was already time to pack up and head back. We might have stayed another day but we have two new kittens at home and were not yet comfortable leaving them for any length of time. I know our cat-sitter had things under control but you know how new parents are!


After breakfast in the cafe, we decided to take the scenic drive out of the park and headed towards Badwater, at about 279 degrees below sea level. Furnace Creek is almost at sea level. You can see the snow capped Panamint Mountains in the distance.


While I was snapping pictures of the salt flats at Badwater, Thommmee was snapping pictures of me!


We lingered along the way…in no hurry to leave.

Jubilee Pass


It is not often you see such green in the desert. We have had a great deal of rain this season with more expected. This is seriously helping our drought situation!


For us, this was a perfect way to spend Valentine’s Day.


Weather cold, weather hot….

…we’ll have weather whether or not.

When its cold we want it hot always wanting what is not.

(something my Dad used to say)

We didn’t get much of a winter this year. Our weather has been rather pleasant. No, I am not going to whine about the drought in California nor the abundant sunshine. I am going to appreciate that what we have is what we have and that God has it covered. He always does.

Today was a wintry type day for California. Breezy and cool.


Overcast in the morning. I actually had to put a on a jacket this morning. It rained in the mountains and deserts yesterday with the possibility of more to come. There is a forecast of 30% chance of rain tomorrow but Thommmee didn’t cancel his golf game. This is good news here-but-we will see. Often the hype does not lead to much precipitation.


it is hard to believe that last Friday we were at the beach.


Thommmee and I made the 45 minute drive to Huntington Beach and it was fabulous!


I couldn’t help but wonder why kids were out of school.


(see their toys in the sand?)

Just a beach day I guess. There was a large group of kids picking up trash. It seems they do this often as part of a school class of some kind. Gee, they didn’t have classes like that when I was in school! The high school students did pick up trash, were very polite, took off their shoes, waded in the water, snapped pictures of themselves and each other. Seemed they were there long after the beach was cleaned-up. Oh well. It was a beautiful day.


Of course we took our travel edition of Scrabble for a little friendly competition.


We had lunch.


Thommmee used his metal detector-looking for a big score. He found a nickel. Oh well.  He had fun. Another ‘prospector’ stopped by to exchange stories and brag about his big finds.  I tried to read a few pages on my book. Took pictures of the ships coming into Long Beach. Watched the birds.


Chatted with some fellow beach goers. Wiggled my feet in the warm sand. Put my toes in the water.


It was a great day.


I do love retirement!

Today is National Scrabble Day!

Thommmee and I love to play Scrabble. In the warmer months you will often find us  sitting outside  with a Scrabble game between us. This may or may not also include something cooking on the barbecue. We will be busy trying to come up with a double or triple word score while trying to outwit each other (and hopefully not burning something on the grill)!  While I don’t consider myself to be particularly competitive, when it comes to Scrabble we are all in.


Last week Thommmee had his best game ever with 387 points. Although it might not be much in the world of Scrabble, we thought it was pretty good  (anytime we exceed 300 points we are happy).


You will find us hauling our full-sized game on camping trips.

2013-11-27 17.33.13

At the beach, poolside, or vacation we carry our travel edition.


My trusty Scrabble dictionary is circa 1978.



We updated to a ‘new’ paperback dictionary a few years back.


(I don’t like this nearly as well).

Nowadays we have our smartphones nearby to checkout the newest words such as ‘selfie’ and ‘hashtag’ which were added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2014.

Since Aril 13th is National Scrabble day-and I did not know such a day even existed-I decided to find out a little bit of the history of my favorite game.

Alfred Mosher Butts invented the board game  in 1933. He was an out of work architect.  It was at the height of the Great Depression and  he was looking for a way to cheer people up. Originally called  LEXIKO, the game is considered a cross between an anagram and a crossword puzzle . A few years later the name was changed to CRISS CROSS WORDS. The rise to popularity was slow. The game is now sold in 121 countries with 29 different languages available!  Did you know there are 105 playable two-letters words  according to the Official Scrabble players’ dictionary? There are 187,632 words on the official Scrabble list for tournament play. Nigel Richards, who has won the World Scrabble Championship three times and the National Scrabble Championship five times, travels the world to play in Scrabble tournaments.  I have seen some of these championship games on TV-very impressive!   Scrabble is owned by the Hasbro Company. If you have any interest in learning about the history or game of Scrabble, the Hasbro link will give you further information.

This is a great educational game and can be played by 2-4 people. Each person randomly selects 7 letters. Alternating turns, a player makes words with the letters on their tray and using the letters on the board. When the kids were younger, we would allow them to use the dictionary to find words. This game increases vocabulary while allowing for an enjoyable interaction between the players. Nothing quite like sitting around a table together and experiencing the laughter and conversation going on during a board game. If you haven’t played a game recently, dust off those boards and give it a whirl. Invite the kids, the family, a friend or a neighbor in for a good time.  You can pick up many of the old classic games at bargain price from  a thrift store or yard sale.


Happy National Scrabble Day!