We've been on holiday. We drove to Arizona to meet our son in Tucson (he was on tour with the San Francisco Boys Chorus), then drove north to camp in the Grand Canyon, with a side trip to Zion National Park in Utah. Most of our trip ended up being in the car, which was a shame, but we did manage to hike a little, listen to some ranger talks, and observe quite a bit of Southwestern scenery.

The Grand Canyon is, well, grand. The sheer size of it is mind-boggling. We spent a day taking the free shuttle to every corner of the South Rim, and hiked about a mile into the canyon. The elevation change was significant enough that we didn't go any further than that. We enjoyed a talk about trees, which was given under the stars, using power point. Nature and Technology converging! We learned a lot about the geology and the ecology of the place. Elk both visited our camp in the early morning, and called to each other around it. The whole experience was spectacular.

Then we drove east and enjoyed views of the Little Colorado River, before heading west on the North Rim. The South Rim was all Juniper, Pinon, and Ponderosa Pine. The North Rim was all meadows with abundant wildflowers, most of which we see in early spring here in California. Monsoon season is upon the Canyon, and you can see the beautiful results on the North Rim.

From there we drove into Utah and on into Zion. I have no words to describe the scenery in this park. It was the most tremendous thing I've ever seen. I really wanted to stay in Zion longer, but we only had enough time to take the shuttle up the canyon and take a short hike to a spring which was weeping through rock. We also dipped our toes into the Virgin River.

We drove through Las Vegas on the way home, and showed the kids the Strip. That was enough of that town! Then we drove through the Mojave desert, where it was 114 degrees. We enjoyed driving through all kinds of different plant communities, but I must admit it was nice to finally make it into the Central Valley, where it's dry, but full of huge farms. As we drove through the windmill farms in the Altamont Pass, we all breathed a sigh - Mt. Diablo was in sight, and we could 'smell the barn' - we were eager to be home.

We returned to a dry but bountiful garden. First we watered, then picked pole beans - the variety is Rattlesnake. They were delicious roasted with oil and salt.

After dinner, I inspected more of the garden. I think it's time to make pickles. And salsa.

Thank goodness my mom, and a few neighbors, were able to harvest some produce while I was gone. There are so many tomatoes to pick tomorrow. There is deer poop everywhere, and numerous gopher (or mole) tunnels. The apple tree is full of fruit.

We were hoping for cooler temperatures at home, but it was 104 here today. The bees respond by drinking mint juleps on their porch.

It's good to be home.