Sunsets on the Nile River

We had heard that the sunsets in Egypt were amazing and we weren’t disappointed. During our four day cruise down the river, we saw several different sunsets over the palm trees that line the coast. Even when we were in Cairo, our hotel overlooked the Nile and we saw some beautiful sunsets over the city. As the hot day comes to an end and cooler air moves in, the winds pick up and send sand into the air, giving the sun something to reflect off of in the otherwise clear skies. We have always been a fan of watching sunsets, but these will always be particularly special to us.

IMG_2910
Sunset in Cairo
DSC_5875
It May Look Like the Moon, But It is the Sun
DSC_5466
Sunset as We Departed Luxor

These are from Luxor after spending the day visiting the Valley of the Kings.

DSC_5455
The Start of the Sunset
DSC_5459
Simply Stunning
DSC_5461
As a Bird Flies Toward the Sun

Another beautiful night as we left Edfu to head to Aswan.

DSC_5869
From the Distance
DSC_5874
Zooming In
DSC_5876
Clear Sky

The view from our hotel in Cairo.

IMG_2900
River in the Foreground
IMG_2906
Orange Haze over the City
IMG_2905
Lights Starting to Turn On

 

Road Trips are an American Tradition

Most people who grew up in the United States have memories of strapping themselves into the backseat of the car and taking a road trip to someplace for vacation. Unlike Europe, there aren’t convenient transportation options, so the only affordable way to get anywhere is to drive. We certainly took our kids on many different road trips, whether to Yellowstone, Mount Rushmore, Carlsbad Caverns, or Disneyland. We used to tease the kids that it was survival of the fittest, whoever survived the trip in the back of the car would get to enjoy the vacation, that we would leave with three and arrive with two. We used all sorts of tricks to keep them entertained on the long drives, like the license plate game, count the number of different animals that they could see, or handheld games (this was before the world of smart phones, DVD players, and true gaming systems). If we had the time, we would stop at some of the odd places that you find along the way, the aligator farms, bug museums, and other tourist traps that are just there to take your money, but provide a diversion on a long drive.

DSC_3165
Driving South on I-25
DSC_3208
New Mexico Rock Formation
DSC_3247
Arizona Mountains

With that in mind, we decided to drive to Scottsdale, Arizona, this weekend to spend a week discovering what the city has to offer. Oddly enough, we have not been to Arizona, other than to drive through a portion of it, so we were looking forward to seeing something different. Unfortunately, it was a twelve hour drive without stops and we decided to power through and make it with limited breaks for food and bio-breaks. So, hop in the car with us and join us for a road trip from Colorado to Arizona through the American Southwest.

DSC_3169
View from the Car
DSC_3186
Driving Through New Mexico
DSC_3229
Arizona Border

We drove south through southern Colorado, which was very scenic as most drives down along the front range are. There are parts of Colorado that are not particularly interesting to see, but driving down I-25 towards the New Mexico border is actually a fairly pretty drive, but there are few towns along the way. Once you reach Trinidad, you are almost out of Colorado and you are leaving the majority of the mountains behind you. At this point we have been on the road for about two hours and it is an hour to our first driver change.

DSC_3157
Heading to Southern Colorado
DSC_3172
Bear Crossing – Only in Colorado
DSC_3160
Last of the Colorado Mountains

Once you enter New Mexico, you head down to lower elevations and the scenery becomes more stark in general. The drive takes you all the way from the northern border of New Mexico to the southern border, so you will get to see a wide variety of the natural beauty that the state has to offer. Instead of the large mountains of Colorado, there are colorful plateaus along side desert scenery. Instead of passenger trains, you will see freight trains carrying cargo, coal, and livestock across the country. Once you reach the southern border, you enter Arizona and we are now only four hours to our destination having driven an exhausting eight hours since getting on the road.

DSC_3176
First View of New Mexico
DSC_3182
Just Desert and Highway
DSC_3214
Freight Train

The drive through Arizona is fairly boring as you leave New Mexico and there isn’t anything but prairie desert land until you get near Flagstaff. From there you have some mountains once again, although nothing like those that you find in Colorado and Utah. As we near the Phoenix area, the sky turns dark with a combination of smoke and clouds. There is a wildfire burning in the area and we spend part of the drive covered in smoke. Then the famous Saguaro cactus made their appearance, which are so big that it is hard to explain what they actually look like in-person versus just seeing photos of them. Finally, we reach Scottsdale after twelve and a half hours and we were definitely tired of sitting in the car. It certainly didn’t take us long to fall asleep once we reached our room.

DSC_3232
Arizona Desert
DSC_3242
Mountains, Clouds, and Smoke
DSC_3257
Saguaro Cactus

Road trips might be a badge of honor, something to brag about having survived, but they can also be times for families to bond. Given our time in Europe, we prefer the ease of travel there and wish that we had the same conveniences here, but it is what it is. Since we don’t, in order to truly see this wonderful country, road trips will continue to be a necessity, whether you view them as a blessing or a curse.

DSC_3192
New Mexico Plateaus
DSC_3256
Smoke Rising Above the Desert

Flying Over Wyoming and Montana

We flew up to Montana for work this week, which we have done about fifty times over the past twenty years. Because we go to Montana on such a frequent basis, we tend not to give much thought to the beauty of the area. The area is truly spectacular, not just Yellowstone National Park, but the entire area. It isn’t as though the beauty of nature somehow stops at the border of the park, it is just where protection of the land and wildlife comes to an end. On this particular trip, we decided to take a few photos of the landscape as we flew over northern Wyoming and then into Montana. It might be Spring throughout most of the northern hemisphere, but here in the high-country, winter is still clinging on for another month or so. We are still getting snow occasionally as you can tell from the peaks of the mountains as our plane flew over the Rocky Mountains.

IMG_1408
We Believe this is Yellowstone Lake
IMG_1404
Snow and Mountains

Once we crossed over the mountains and entered the valley where we were to land, the scenery turned from white peaks to lush green farmland. The growing season for plants in this region is very short, so seeing all of the green grass was very refreshing. It also means that there is a reduced chance of fires, a risk that is unfortunately high in our home state of Colorado. We decided not to go into the park this trip, mostly because of the road conditions as it continued to snow in the mountains and on the mountain passes during our entire time in Montana.

IMG_1412
Green Valley and Mountains
IMG_1409
Gorgeous Landscape

We will try not to take the beautiful scenery of Wyoming and Montana for granted during any of our subsequent trips. We live in a gorgeous part of the world and seeing it from an airplane is a wonderful way to truly appreciate how wild and wonderful it really is.

IMG_1400
View from the Plane