Posted by: Talie Morrison | April 21, 2021

Springtime in Arizona

Here it is “mid-April” and I am still “in the desert”!   My last post was just before Christmas.  

I spent Christmas and New Year’s parked in Kathy’s driveway and celebrated with Jane and Robin and Kathy.   After the holidays, I moved back out to my favorite spot near Green Valley, AZ.   It is about an hour away from Kathy’s – but it only 15 minutes to Green Valley.   There is a Sprouts, Starbucks, and Goodwill in Green Valley – all the things I need!   (There is also a Walmart – but I never went there…)

I took a sunset photo almost every night! I won’t bore you with all of them!

Near my camping spot, there were plenty of places to hike in the desert, hike in Madera Canyon, and ride my bike.   I finally got some toe clips to keep my left foot on the pedals – so riding became much more doable.  I think the motion of biking really helps the mobility of my knee.  

Love the desert landscape

I stayed in the same camping spot for almost 3 months – that’s pretty unusual for me!   This being the “winter of Covid”, I decided it was much better to just “stay put”!    Hard to believe that I was sleeping in the same spot for 3 months (actually 4 if you figure in the time before Christmas!).   But I loved where I was and I got into a pretty good routine.  Luckily my camping spot had good cell service, so I could text and check emails regularly.   I drove into Green Valley to use either Starbucks or McDonalds WiFi if I was doing a Zoom meeting or other internet stuff.   I was able to either walk or ride my bike near my camp – so I could continue to work my knee and leg and stay in shape.   Every night was a beautiful sunset (so I took lots of sunset photos!)

I also took advantage of the accessibility of Tucson to get some dental work done, see a dermatologist, and get my two Pfizer Covid Vaccines – yea!  

Yup – it was well done!

Another “new” health modality I have taken on is the “Wim Hoff Method”.   Wim is from the Netherlands and he has been nicknamed “The Ice Man”.   His method uses a combination of breathing techniques and cold water to increase blood circulation and strengthen the immune system.   (I am always looking for something to make me healthier that I can do while living my current crazy lifestyle!)    I do the breathing exercises in the morning, then take a cold shower outside my camper.   I do have an outdoor shower, but during the winter I don’t have the water tanks filled in the camper (I don’t want them to freeze!). So, I got a “garden sprayer” that I can put water in and pump it up for pressure.  Then I stand outside (waiting till it is at least 45 degrees!) and spray myself for about 5 minutes:   REFRESHING!!!   Do you think I am “going off the deep end”?   You might be right!   On days when I went into Tucson to see Kathy, I took a dip in her not-heated pool.   REFRESHING!!!   I have to admit that I am not sure I see any real difference in the way I feel, but it certainly isn’t hurting.   I felt great before, and I feel great now!   

Early March, my friend, Michelle Patton, came down to the area in her new camper.   Michelle has just started living “full time” in a camper and wanted me to “show her the ropes”.  She set up in a spot close to mine and we had lots of fun going for walks together and having dinner either at her place or mine.   It has been nice having a compatriot out here.   

By the end of March, it was definitely time to move on!   Our friend, Rose Marie in her camper met us at a paid campground only a couple of hours away:  Caballo Loco.   We spent a couple of nights there – such a treat having flushing toilets!   Rose Marie even gave us haircuts!

After Caballo Loco, Rose Marie headed back to Tucson and Michelle and I headed to Cochise’s Stronghold (you may remember, I camped there last year).   We went through Green River and were able to stock up on organic veggies etc. at Sprouts.  The Stronghold is a paying campground also (only pit toilets) but in a very beautiful spot.   After one night, Michelle took off to go visit with friends in the Austin area, and I stayed at Cochise’s Stronghold through the Easter Weekend.  

After Easter, I called my friends, Dave Rose and Ceil Murray, who live in Silver City, NM.  I visited with them for 3 days (parked on the street in front of their house).   Other than being right under a very bright street light, it was a lovely place to sleep in AJay.   It was great exploring Silver City with Ceil, and I always enjoy listening to Dave’s wealth of stories.   

Silver City is very close to the Gila National Forest and Wilderness Area.   I found a great little campsite in the National Forest and set up for about a week.   There were some Cliff Dwellings about an hour away, so one day I went to see them.   Very awesome!

That brings me up to the present.   I will do a little more exploring this part of New Mexico for the next two weeks then Michelle and I are going to reconnect in El Paso on May 1st.   We have signed up to volunteer with the Annunciation House for two weeks.   We will be helping  with the processing of immigrants coming across the border.  Michelle is fluent in Spanish.   Even though I am not, I am well trained in cleaning and cooking!   I can help “behind the scenes”.  

Posted by: Talie Morrison | December 13, 2020

Happy Holidays from the Arizona Desert

(Word Press has changed their systems – so to see a lot of these photos, you need to “drag” the middle line one way or the other. I am not really very happy about this system – so I might have to change my blog provider!)

My last blog left off with the leaves changing in Crested Butte.  It was, as always, a spectacular autumn show!  

Pretty nice “front yard”

My friends, Jane, Robin and Joni and I headed to New Mexico and camped at Albiqui Lake.   It was good to be in some warmth again.   We got to see some flowers and colorful leaves (which were all gone in Crested Butte!).

Robin, Jane and Joni (and Rosie and Sky) at Albiqui Lake (drag the middle line!)
Back in Crested Butte – Early snow – Yikes!! Time for me to head South!!
Coffee and Make-up in bed in Albiqui

I had a couple of doctor appointments in Denver in late October, so I needed to stay relatively close to Colorado.   So I headed to Grand Junction (which is right off of I70 so I could zip right over to Denver – well “zip” might mean 5 hours)! 

Colorado River near Grand Junction

    I left AJay with a friend near Grand Junction and stayed with Nancy (an old Hillsdale classmate).   The doctors were pleased with the progress on my knee/leg.   Yea!   

While I was on the front range – I visited with my friend, Roberta.   Jane and Robin came over from CB and we had a fun weekend together.   Roberta is/has moved to Minnesota, so it was good to all be together before she left.   While I was there in Fort Collins, it snowed – beautiful!   But I stayed an extra couple of days to avoid driving in the snow.  

Fort Collins – Good Friends and Snow!

Back in Grand Junction, I picked up AJay and took off to Utah.   Of course, my favorite place to camp is Crystal Geyser near Green River.   It was the full moon (actually a blue moon) for October, so it was especially beautiful!  I stayed a couple of nights at Crystal – it is such a spectacular place!

Crystal Geyser
Crystal Geyser

From there, I went to another one of my favorite spots:   Hovenweep National Monument.   Hovenweep is right on the Utah/Colorado border.   What was especially nice was that for only $7 a night I got flushing toilets – a luxury if you were to camp with me!   I did some exploring in the area and went to other Anasazi ruins.   

Hovenweep National Monument
Hovenweep National Monument

Still staying close to Colorado, I found a great place to camp near Durango. I needed to talk to one of my doctors again because I needed him to change my antibiotics – too many side effects!  By the time, I connected with him, another snowstorm was on the way.   Yikes!   So this will blow your mind:  I stayed 3 nights in motels!   Definitely not my usual MO – but driving and pulling AJay in the snow on slippery roads is not one of my favorite options!  So two nights in Farmington, New Mexico, and then another night in Holbrook, Arizona.  

Yikes – still too icy for driving (in Farmington NM)

Finally, I got south of the snow clouds – into the desert.    Unfortunately, because of the roads I was late getting to camping areas.   Both the spots I had planned on camping at were closed!  NO!   One was closed because it was in a National Forest (I can’t believe that they think it is beneficial to close campgrounds – which are just pit toilets and picnic tables).  Anyway – on I went to find my next campground closed because of a forest fire from last summer.   Bummer! A third option had a sign that said “no overnight parking”!   So I ended up on a little bit of gravel (probably illegal) where two roads split.   By that time it was dark and I left the next morning early – so I wasn’t bothered by anyone.   

I wanted to camp near Phoenix for a couple of days, so I could go visit my friend, Becky.   I found a great “boondock” place to the East of Phoenix, near Apache Junction.  

Desert Camping – and Trader Joe’s next to Sprouts! Yea!

 Finally, I had a good spot in the desert – whew!   I did get to see Becky (being socially distant because of covid) and another friend, JJ, who lives in Mesa.    And for me – the ultimate shopping configuration:   a Trader Joe’s right next to a Sprouts!   Have I died and gone to heaven?

The next stop was Tucson.   My friend, Kathy, has space in her driveway for me to set up AJay, so I can use her bathroom and laundry and still sleep in AJay. We were able to enjoy a Thanksgiving feast with friends.   We sat outside and everyone had their own table.    We had a couple of fun outings:  to Agua Caliente and then to Sweetwater Wildlife Refuge (where we saw a bobcat in the wild).  Also lots of ducks, swans, and herons.     

Setting up at Kathy’s and Agua Caliente
Agua Caliente (thanks to Kathy for the photo)
Beautiful Bobcat!

Back out into the desert – I am now camped near Green Valley, Arizona.   I have a great spot off of the road (you can just barely hear the cars) so it is really convenient.  

My new “home”
Sunsets and hiking in Madera Canyon
Wild Turkeys and a view of the area I am camped in – pretty open!

 It’s about 15 minutes in to Green Valley where there is a Sprouts Grocery, petrol station, laundry, etc.   And about half an hour to get to the trails in Madera Canyon.   I have also done a couple of other hikes.   My leg is behaving itself – I can hike fine, but it doesn’t bend enough to ride a bike yet. (I’m working it!)

Desert cacti
A white tail deer – and some wilderness!
Kathy has a beautiful back yard!

So as the year of 2020 finally is coming to an end – I think we are all ready to see it go – I wish you a very happy holiday season.   Whatever that looks like for you.   Just be sure to stay safe and healthy!   We will get through this and things will be better next year!   

I do have some “Christmas” in AJay!

Posted by: Talie Morrison | September 21, 2020

Summer back in the USA

On my last blog – I was getting ready to leave beautiful, safe New Zealand.   They did an awesome job of kicking the bottom out of the Corona virus in their country.   Unfortunately, I had a screw coming loose in the hardware of my left femur.

That is definitely a loose screw (do you think it came from my brain?)

You can see the screw poking out!

New Zealand has a good health care system, but they do not want foreigners to abuse it.   So I knew I needed to come back to the States to get this screw taken care of.   So I said good bye to my lovely kiwi friends and came back to LAX on the 6th of July.   It was weird being in the Auckland airport – which was deserted!

It really is deserted

Almost deserted Auckland Airport

But the plane was full – no social distancing there!   We all were coming from New Zealand which was one of the safest places on the planet.   When I got to LA, the airport wasn’t exactly deserted but it was definitely not as crowded as usual.   The Santa Barbara Airbus was not running because of the virus, so I rented a one-way car to get up to Santa Barbara.   I returned it the next day at the SB airport.

Because of my knee, I knew I needed to head to Colorado as soon as possible.  But I spent a couple of days with Craig and family and got a chance to walk on the beach with the dogs!

Craig with Buddha and Mercy

Love my boys!

AJay and GrayJay-2 in Santa Barbara

On the road again – leaving Craig’s house

Driving across the desert to get home – was HOT!   The temperature in Baker, CA, was 110  F degrees (that’s 43 degrees Celsius).    I was sure appreciative of T-Jay (who has now been renamed GrayJay2) with the air conditioning – what a luxury!  I spent one night on the road (near Beaver, Utah) and I was really glad to get to Crested Butte!

Hot in the desert! Baker CA was 110 degrees!

Being the height of the summer in Crested Butte, I was fortunate to have good friends (Jane and Robin) who saved a dispersed campsite for me off the Kepler Road.   Crested Butte has been super busy this summer as people are staying closer to home in their travels and taking driving holidays instead of flying anywhere.   The town has made the main street (Elk Avenue) one lane (one way) and allowed the restaurants and shops to spread out into the rest of the street.   It has worked well – and it is required to wear a mask when on Elk Avenue (unless you are sitting and eating).

Back in Crested Butte area – love the snow on the peaks

I sent lots of emails back and forth with Dr. Cynthia Kelly in Denver.  She did my original surgery back in 2017.   We scheduled surgery for July 23rd  to remove the screws.  My friend, Robin, took me over to Denver – I got a Covid test and self-isolated for 48 hours.   Then I checked into Presbyterian/St. Lukes Hospital. They removed the screws, filled the holes with bone cement, and put in two new screws.    After the surgery, while I was still in recovery, Dr. Kelly told Robin that the underlying tissues were not very healthy, thanks to the radiation.

Now there are 2 screws working their way out!

These are the screws they removed

Relaxing at the pool after the first surgery

Suction Drain after the first surgery

We came back to Crested Butte, and I stayed in Ajay parked outside another friend’s (Glo’s) house.   Seemed like a good place to be closer to town for a few days since I still had a drain in the wound.

Camping out at Glo’s house.

But after a week, I headed out to camp in Washington Gulch:  still my favorite place to camp in the Crested Butte area.

My favorite place to camp!

I was careful with my knee, but started “rehabbing” it after a couple of weeks and getting out and doing some hiking.   The outside was healing nicely (unfortunately that was not the case under the skin).

Yea I am “out” near Lily Lake

Lily Lake

With lily pads blooming!

Not a very good photo, but Tengu and Kea wanted their photos in the blog too!

Joni, Neil and I went up into North Pole Basin – It was SO beautiful (so I took LOTS of photos)

Lake at North Pole Basin

Looking back down on that lake

Still flowers blooming!

Neil and Joni as we worked our way up North Pole Basin

I love the fuchsia paintbrush

And then there are the Elephant Heads

Paintbrush and Elephant Head together

High altitude lupine

A late blooming Columbine

Lots of fireweed

And then I did a hike with Dianne and Emily along the 403 trail

A hike with my friends Diane and Emily!

Love being up high!

I hiked with Roxie on the Dyke/Horse Ranch Park loop.   It had been almost 4 weeks since the operation so this was a more challenging hike  – and on that hike the incision opened up and it was pretty “angry” underneath.

Hiking with Roxie on the Dyke Trail

The Dyke formation is so amazing!

When it’s lush – it’s really lush

Yea Wilderness

Roxie’s night blooming Cyrus was blooming which was really special!   It only blooms once a year – and only for a few hours at night.   I was privileged to be able to see it (and smell it).

Night blooming Cyrus at Roxie’s house


So lots of calls and emails with Dr. Kelly and back I went to Denver.   I thought I would be there for only about 2 nights (but it turned out to be almost 2 weeks).Dr. Kelly went back into the incision site and cleaned it up.   But, because of the radiation damage, the site is not getting any blood, perfusion or antibiotics.

Stitched up the wound again

Dr. Kelly called in Dr. Karen Lo to perform another surgery.    She went into my calf and cut my lateral gastric muscle right above the ankle. Then she pulled that muscle up to the knee and the incision site and sewed it up there.   That will bring blood and antibiotics to the site.   Then she took a flap of skin from my upper thigh, and used that to close the area.   If you have a queasy stomach, you might want to skip these photos!

Stretching the lateral gastroc muscle up to my knee.

A flap of skin from my upper thigh to help close the area

I was then transferred to Spalding Rehabilitation  which has some rooms adjacent to Presbyterian/ St. Lukes.   The minimum stay there is 5 days and it allowed me to still be on iv antibiotics and have the wound “vac” on my incisions.   I did really well with the rehab, and by the time my 5 days was up I was READY to get out of the hospital!!  It was almost 2 weeks since I checked in – and that is way too long to be in the hospital!   My friends, Glo and Scott, were driving home from Denver and I was able to “hitch” a ride back to CB with them.   I am certainly lucky to have SO MANY good friends!

So now I am recouping back in my favorite place!   I spent a couple of nights in AJay at my friend Roxie’s house, then back back up Washington Gulch at my favorite campsite once again.

Sunset from Roxie’s house

I am giving myself iv antibiotics 3 times a day.   I have a PICC line in my upper left arm.   Then I inject saline first, then the antibiotics, then saline again and a Hepa solution.   My timing is every 8 hours:  So I do 6 am, 2 pm, and 10 pm.   I hope this will “do the trick” and my knee will be good to go again.   I may have to be on oral antibiotics for “years” according to Dr. Kelly.  Bottom line: Since the beginning of this “adventure” 4 doctors wanted to amputate my left leg – I said NO – and this seems to be what I need to do to keep it!   I am pretty attached to that leg and I want to continue to hike and bike with it.

Joni agreed to go back to Denver with me for the follow up appointments on September 10th.   Believe it or not, we had a foot of snow on September 9th!   But the roads were just wet – not too slippery.  Dr. Lo had two other Crested Butte patients who cancelled because of the snow – so she was surprised to see us there!

Off to Denver on a snowy morning (September 9th)

So beautiful!

It’s too early for snow like that!

Both Dr. Kelly and Dr. Lo said it looked great (I thought it was pretty icky – but what do I know?)

I thought it looked icky, but both the doctors thought it was great!

I head back to Denver on September 24th, for more followup appointments (hopefully it won’t snow this time!)

The leaves are just starting to change here in the mountains.

A time of such beauty!

I am looking forward to a visual explosion.   We are still getting smoke from the fires in California, so the air is hazy.   But the quality is much better than it is in California.   It has been a very sad thing to have so many fires this summer.   I send prayers and love to all the people and animals that have been affected.

And now I have another great grandson – Benicio Carmelo Cabugos!  Congratulations are in order for Teddy, Djamila, and his big brother, Teddy!

Welcome to Benny!
And congratulations Teddy and Djamila and little Teddy!

Posted by: Talie Morrison | July 5, 2020

Still In New Zealand

When I wrote my last blog post, I was still in “Stage 3 Lockdown” in Dunedin, NZ.   Now, I am getting ready to fly back to the USA.

View of the entrance to Dunedin Harbour near Muppet’s house

During Stage 3, we were still requested to stay at home, but more services and stores were able to open.   Unfortunately, my knee kept getting worse rather than better, so finally on May 17th, I was able to get an x-ray.

That is definitely a loose screw (do you think it came from my brain?)

No wonder it was bothering me!  I was relieved to know what the matter was, but now I was in a quandary as to what to do about it.    There wasn’t much of a possibility to get it fixed in New Zealand, and so I started the process to work my way home.

In the meantime, Muppet and I made the most of the beautiful days in Dunedin and the South Island.   We did a quick trip over to Queenstown in BlueJay, which was beautiful – some of it was driving along where I did the Otago Rail Trail by bike several years ago.

Walking the dogs at Long Beach

Love the reflection of the train!

Walking at Back Beach

Muppet’s hobby is flying small remote airplanes – so we went out and he flew, while I walked the dogs, whenever we could.

Muppet getting a remote plane ready to fly


A couple of my favorite signs around Muppet’s house:

Got to love it!

Hum – that would be me?

We also had several birthdays to celebrate:   Muppet’s Birthday was May 9, my birthday was June 5, and Alexandra’s birthday was June 12.

Muppet’s birthday with sister, Alexandra, and mother, Fiona.


Small dogs and a BIG dog – a lovely day to walk on my birthday


After a birthday dinner, a group photo with me, Leisl, Muppet, Myia, Alexandra, Fiona, Taffy, Toots, and Myrtle Mae.

Do you think Alexandra has some treats for the dogs?

Alexandra’s Birthday

Alexandra’s Birthday with Muppet, Fiona, and Nicola


I did a quick trip up to Christchurch to see Myles and Margaret one more time.   It was a good chance for me to have a final trip driving BlueJay.   She has been a good van for me and I will miss her!

The Southern Alps with snow on them on my way back from Christchurch

Muppet and I did a few last trips to the beach where I could get my feet wet (it does wonders for my psychological health!)

Muppet and Fiona at the beach on a Full Moon

Beautiful day at Long Beach


Another lovely (cold) day at the beach

Muppet, Myia, Leisl, and me

I went with Muppet to the Salvation Army so I could listen to him play in the brass band.

Church service with Muppet and the brass band


I really connected with this little girl!

We transferred ownership of BlueJay to Muppet, and then on June 17th, Muppet and the doggies drove me to the airport.   A sad day!  I am  really missing Muppet, Myia, Leisl, Fiona, and Alexandra (along with Taffy, Toots, and Myrtle Mae).   It was a great lockdown family to be with during this crazy time.   Thank you all!


Muppet is now the proud owner of BlueJay – and the dogs love being in the back!


For 2 ½ weeks I have been hanging out with Dianne and Ian up here on the North Island.   We did a trip down to New Plymouth to see Bronwyn and Phillip.   We had a perfect day to tour around Mt. Egmont (Taranaki).

Beautiful day at Taranaki

With Dianne near Taranaki

Ian, Dianne, Bronwyn and Phillip as we toured around Mt. Egmont (Taranaki)

Beach and mountain!

I am SO happy to be walking in the “bush”

Another waterfall near Taranaki

Ian flew back to Auckland while Dianne and I went to Kinloch for a couple of days.   It was lovely to see old friends and old “haunts” – but it was extremely frustrating not to be able to do any long walks.  Bummer!    I can still love the New Zealand countryside (from the car), and enjoy my Kiwi friends!   For one last trip, Dianne and I went out to Murray’s beach house in Pauanui.   Yea, I was able to walk in the ocean again!  I kept trying to get deep enough to cover my knee with cold water, which made the waves occasionally come up to my waist!   Burr!

Beach at Pauanui

With Dianne at Pauanui


More beach at Pauanui

Back to Auckland, and the next day,  Dianne, Ian and I took  the ferry into the city and then out to Waiheke Island – there I go walking in the ocean again!!

Beach on Waiheke

Dianne and Ian on Waiheke


Thursday, I closed my New Zealand bank account which really made me feel like the end of an era.  As I write this, it is Saturday and I fly home on Monday.  None of us knows what the “new normal” will be in regards to travel – I sure hope I will be able to come back to this lovely country – only time will tell!

My camper (AJay) and four runner (The Truck) are parked at Craig’s house in Santa Barbara.   When my plane lands, I’m renting a car and will drive up to Santa Barbara:  REMEMBER Talie – drive on the RIGHT side of the road!!!   I will have a week to get to Colorado and see Dr. Kelly in Denver on the 14th.   And if all goes well, I’ll be back hiking and biking sooner rather than later!


Posted by: Talie Morrison | May 3, 2020

Ok, Now I am bored!

Greetings from COVID-19 isolation.   I send you health, safety, and perseverance to get through these challenging times!  Since I have “lots of time” on my hands (ha-ha), I thought I would do a blog post and bring you up to date on my travels (or “not-travels” as the case may be!).

I came down to New Zealand on March 4th – knowing that this virus was starting to create havoc.   Little did I (or any of us) know how much havoc it would cause.   I did have about 20 days with some of the beautiful New Zealand scenery before I went into isolation – along with the rest of the New Zealanders.   Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister, and the New Zealand government jumped on this virus and told everyone to go into isolation before it got out of hand.  March 24th the whole country went into a stage 4 lockdown (only grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations have been open).   I called my friend Peter (Muppet) who I have known since Antarctica, and he offered to let me park my van in his driveway.

Dolphins from the Interislander Ferry (I know they are pretty far away!)

Before we went into  “lockdown” – I did get a chance to do a little traveling.   I drove to the South Island and had a perfect day for the ferry crossing.   I had a quick stop in Little Wanganui to see Brent and Janet,  then I met up with Dianne, Ian, Diane and Russ for an overnight hike into the Heaphy Hut.

Most of the Heaphy trail is along the beach

River crossing on the way to the Heaphy

Russ, Ian, me, Diane, and Dianne on our way out from the Heaphy

The weather was a bit “iffy” but it was still beautiful.   Two days later, the five of us were scheduled to hike into the Nydia Bay where we had booked places in the “On the Track Lodge”.   But after the two days hiking (10 miles each way), in and out of the Heaphy Hut,  it was unanimous that we wanted to take a boat into the Nydia!

Beautiful – boating to the Nydia!

At Nydia Bay

I found a hammock! Yea!

That lodge was very “fancy”:   electricity, home cooked meals, hot showers, and even a hot tub!  Yea!

After the Nydia trip, we all stayed in Havelock for the Havelock Mussel Festival – this was the original incentive to put this trip together!  I LOVE the green lipped mussels and I had a beautiful day eating lots of them!  We even watched them have a “shucking” contest!   It was a fun day.  And one of the last “gatherings” before lock down.

Camping at Marfels

One of my favorite beaches!

From there I headed over to one of my favorite camping spots  – Marfels Beach.   Only one night there and then I was off to Christchurch to see friends, Myles and Margaret.    From Christchurch, I headed over to Queenstown to meet up with Jo and Des and their friends from India (John and Tanya).  The two couples each had a motor home and I had my little van, so we camped out in some beautiful places in Fiordlands and then went down into Milford Sound on a lovely afternoon.

A kea who came to camp with us!

Hiking a little of the Routeburn Track

The water color is amazing

I love the ferns!

Down to Milford Sound

John and Tanya, me, and Jo and Des

Our week of camping came to a screeching halt when the New Zealand Government called for a Stage 4 lockdown starting March 24th.   BlueJay decided that she didn’t like this plan, and so the morning that I was to drive to Dunedin, she wouldn’t start!  Argh!  I got a mobile mechanic to get it started and I drove over to Dunedin and parked at Muppet’s.   And there she sat, till the stage 4 was lifted (4 weeks).

BlueJay parked in Muppet’s driveway

Muppet works as a paramedic with the helicopter service so his work schedule is 4 days on and then 4 days off.   He has two lovely little blond spaniels, and when he is working I can help out by taking care of them, along with 5 chickens (great for fresh eggs) and a canary and a finch.    So I have done lots of doggie walks and a couple of walks to the closest grocery store.   My knee/leg is bothering me a bit, so unfortunately I haven’t been able to do any long walks, but “oh, well….”.  And I am totally loving having some furry creatures to keep me company when Muppet is gone to work.

Myia and Lisel (and a couple of the chickens).

New Zealand has now backed off to Stage 3 lockdown for at least another 2 weeks.    They are still asking us to stay at home, so for me it hasn’t changed much.  Luckily though,  I was able to take BlueJay into the mechanics and have her “glow plugs” looked at.   And she is (knock-knock) staring fine now.

My New Zealand Visa, which was supposed to expire on May 31 (after all the fall-der-all to get it),  has been extended to September 20th.   My air tickets in May have been cancelled and I haven’t re-booked them yet.   I will wait and see what travel looks like and what is happening in California and Colorado before I re-book.   I feel very safe down here in New Zealand, but I do sort of want to “be home”.  As we all know, things change day by day – so no sense making plans that will just be changed again!   I have been very impressed with the New Zealand Government and Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister.   They got on board with this pandemic early and shut the country down.   They also had testing available so they could track where the new cases were coming from.   It is refreshing to be in a country with great leadership and people that trust their leaders!

We got a little stroll through the botanical gardens.

It’s fall down here – so the trees are beautiful

I wish you all safety and good health.   Take care of yourselves and your families (and WASH your hands!).  This too will pass!




Posted by: Talie Morrison | March 16, 2020

Making Lemonade out of the Lemons

While we are all in a state of “flux” regarding the COVID 19 Virus, I am taking the time to bring my blog up to date…

My life has been “go with the flow” for a couple of months now:  And it started in January….

This is what TJay and AJay looked like as I left San Diego.

On January 9, I finished packing up and covering AJay and TJay at Craig’s house, took the shuttle to LAX and showed up to check in for my flight to New Zealand.   There seemed to be a problem with checking in and there was a long wait while the lady at the ticket counter was on the phone.   She looked at me and said that I needed to talk to NZ Immigration.   WHAT?   So, she turned the phone over to me, and the lady I talked to (who was) in New Zealand said that I couldn’t board the plane, that I needed a visa!   OH, NO!   (I had gotten my NZeTA which I thought covered me since I was going to be there less than 3 months.  But they still think I am some sort of health risk.  Even if I go for a short time, I still need a full-on visa!)  Needless to say, I was BUMMED!   9 pm at night in LAX and nowhere to go!!!  Wah!    The Air New Zealand supervisor suggested that I spend the night in LA and go to the NZ Consulate General in the morning.  He thought they might be able to get me a visa.   Sigh – deep breath, try not to cry or scream!   OK…..

So, I booked in at the Los Angeles Travel Lodge, and went to the iHop next door for some dinner.   I was NOT a happy camper!   It was a cheap motel, and the walls were thin – not only could I hear the TV in the next room but later I could hear the snoring!   I spent some time on my computer completing the visa application and getting them to accept my version of a passport photo.   It was pretty funny while I propped my cell phone on books and pillows and ran around in front of it to take the photo by timer.  But I got all the areas checked and submitted it on line.

The next morning, I put my bag in storage at the motel, and took an UBER to the NZ Consulate.   They told me there that they don’t do ANYTHING with visas.   That I would just have to submit it to NZ Immigration.   I said I had done that, and they gave me a number to call.   So once again I was talking to New Zealand.   The person in immigration said that my visa would just have to go through the regular channels.   She couldn’t tell me how long that would take.   I am getting MORE BUMMED!!!!   But, what can you do?

So, UBER back to the motel, UBER back to LAX, and back on the airbus to Santa Barbara.   Craig and Deb were not expecting me to be back so soon!   Ah, well…..  Since I couldn’t go to New Zealand, I might as well head out into the desert while I wait to know if I get the visa.

So I unpacked AJay and TJay, hooked them up, did a quick trip to the grocery and headed to Arizona.

I am loving traveling and camping around this beautiful place.

Desert Sunsets

Looking out the window to the desert environment.

First stop, Lake Havasu.   I had always wanted to check that area out.  My friend, Debbie, from San Diego, decided to come over and camp with me.   That was a good thing cause I could sure use some distraction!   We hiked, boated and mountain biked (I remembered that I really DON’T much like mountain biking!).   It was really fun having her there with me.

Biking under London Bridge at Lake Havasu

Wild Burros in Oatman

Picnicking in the desert.


“Company” in AJay

Desert Sunsets

Lake Havasu

Mountain Biking near Havasu

Debbie headed back to San Diego and I headed to Phoenix to show up for a parole hearing for Levi Jackson (the prisoner I have been corresponding with since 1999).   That was a bit of an eye-opener for me, but I was glad I was able to show up.

From there, I headed down to Tucson to see my friend Kathy.   I was able to set AJay up in her driveway, so I could sleep in my own bed!   It was during the time of the Australian Open (tennis tournament) in Melbourne Australia. We watched lots of tennis and ate artichokes and lamb chops.   Very fun.

Planting Flowers in January in Tucson

Sushi dinner with desert sunset

From Kathy’s I headed into the mountains (well they are “desert mountains”) and ended up at Cochise Stronghold.   There were some great boondoggling spots and I spent a couple of days hiking and exploring. An interesting place and part of American Indian History.   With a storm predicted, I didn’t want to get stranded in the Stronghold, so I headed out and ended up at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Refuge.   There were about 20,000 Sandhill Cranes there too!   AWESOME!   And I saw lots of other birds and a couple of owls.

Water in the desert is pretty unusual!

20,000 Sandhill Cranes!

More sunsets

Beautiful Hawks also

After a couple of nights at Whitewater Draw, I drove over to Katchner Caverns.   I camped in the “overflow” lot and the next day toured both the caverns.   One of the best examples of a “living” cave system and I was impressed at the diligence that is taken to insure that it stays protected.   Well worth a tour (not even cameras were allowed).

I went South to check out Patagonia but didn’t find a good boondoggle spot and ended up at Patagonia Lake State Park.   It was a bit expensive for camping ($30) but it did have hot showers!

Then I headed North and found a great boondoggle camping spot just South of Tucson near Green Valley.   It was the best spot yet – easy access, lots of great trails in the area, access to a Sprouts Grocery, Starbucks, laundry – what more could a girl want?   My friends, Jane and Robin had escaped Crested Butte winter for a couple of weeks at Kathy’s in Tucson,  so we did lots of fun things together including The Tubac Arts Festival, the Desert Museum Raptor’s show,  and Tucson’s Mineral and Gem Show.   I also had lunch with friends, Joan and Jo, who used to live in Crested Butte.

Moon rise over the desert

Jane and Robin in Tubac

I loved the sunsets (obviously)

Lots of cactus too

Desert Museum Raptor show – first up beautiful owl.

the Raptors show was amazing!

Desert sky and clouds were amazing

Yep, more sunsets!

The Cactus are starting to bloom!

I am camped out down there somewhere in the middle of this photo!

After Green Valley, I headed West and South and checked out the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument.   It was a beautiful drive to get over there and the monument is an exceptional part of the Sonoran Desert.   I did a couple of short hikes and a long drive around the area.   Unfortunately, I even saw where our government is tearing up the land to build the “wall”.   I was sad, disheartened and angry:   Sad to see destruction of what Roosevelt declared a National Treasure, disheartened to know how disruptive it is to the natural world of the desert and the desert creatures, and pissed off that my government is spending MY money do such a stupid thing!   (ok – enough of that!)

On the move again

Down to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (right on the boarder)

Rosevelt’s proclamation

Organ Pipe

Desert blooming!

I am loving the desert

Ocotillo are blooming

I loved this guy! Each saguaro cactus has it’s own personality!

So many cacti!

I was saddened to see the destruction and construction of “the wall”

I really started falling in love with the cacti – just don’t fall “on” them Talie!

Flowers bloom wherever they can!

Desert flowers

And then finally February 27, I got word that New Zealand approved my visa!     YEA!!!   I AM GOING TO NEW ZEALAND!!!   So then the flights were changed (please don’t ask me how much extra it cost me!), and I arrived in Auckland on Wednesday March 4th.   I guess this had been a 2 month “blip in the road”.  And I sure had a great time in Arizona while I was “blipping”!

So I am happy to be in New Zealand for this crazy global crisis.   None of us know what to expect, but stay positive and carry on (and wash your hands A LOT).  And hopefully in May, they will let me come home.


Posted by: Talie Morrison | December 19, 2019

Fall 2019

The end of summer, as always, was beautiful in Crested Butte.   I camped out with AJay and my new “truck” TJay.   Some nights were getting a bit cold, but the heater in AJay is a lovely thing!  And I am still loving camping out!

Camping with TJay & AJay

Just enjoying my beautiful valley

Three moose near my campsite

Hiking with Niko

In September and early October, I did some housesitting for Niko and Monkey and Zorka.   Niko is a great hiking buddy.  And I had some lovely walks with Zorka.   Taking care of dogs lets me enjoy them without having to own a dog!

Zorka overlooking the trail


For our annual fall trip, Joni, Jane and Robin and I went to Utah.   We explored Capital Reef, Kodachrome Basin, Coral Pink Sand Dunes,  Wire Pass slot canyon, White Pocket, Bryce, and Cedar Breaks.   Utah has so many beautiful rock formations, canyons,  and desert landscapes – we had a wonderful time hiking and exploring.   The weather was great, no rain, but we did have a couple of pretty chilly nights (17 degrees).   Many beautiful clear days for hiking.

Bryce Canyon

Sky paying cards with Robin and the rest of us

In White Pocket Utah

Wire Pass Canyon

Coral Pink Sand Dunes

Capital Reef

Sky loved snoozing in AJay

Notice the sign behind Joni!

Robin, Jane, Rosie and Sky in White Pocket

Love the Utah Rock formations!

Sunset reflected in AJay’s windows

A bit chilly at Cedar Breaks


I spent a month the end of October and most of November back in Crested Butte.   It was too cold at that time of year to camp, so I stayed with Jane and Robin.  Ah, the joys of a warm house, flushing toilet, and hot and cold running water!    It is nice to be in Crested Butte during the off season when things are not as crowded.

Back to Crested Butte for some snow!

Yup – it’s snowing!

Through the spring, summer and fall months, when I was in Crested Butte, I went down to Gunnison to help with the Habitat for Humanity project.   This year they have been building a straw-bale house, so it was very interesting volunteering to help.  It was fun seeing how it went up and was put together.   I have always enjoyed working with Habitat (I think it is an awesome organization) and our local chapter is very well run.     I was very surprised to be awarded a plaque as “Volunteer of the Year”.   I feel very honored!

The Habitat house is almost finished!

Working on the walls in the bath

What an honor!


In November, I headed to Santa Barbara to spend Thanksgiving with Craig and his family.  Unfortunately, I had car trouble just outside Vegas.   Luckily AAA towed me to a repair shop and I got everything fixed before the end of the day.   When I got to Santa Barbara, Craig and Deb were in an evacuation zone for the recent fires (and then for mud slides).   They were on the edge of the evacuation zone and decided to stay in their home.   Luckily, the awesome firefighters got things under control and all the houses were saved.

Camping in Virgin River Gorge

My wheels when I am camped!

Thanksgiving in Santa Barbara (Dakota and Buddha, me, Jamir and Mercy, Deb and Craig)


December 1,  I took AJay to Tucson and spent a week with my friend, Kathy.  We went to the Desert Museum for their annual light show.   Beautiful!

I loved the tigers!

Kathy and me peeking in behind the fish…



Me, Dodie, Jan, Joe, and Kathy.


Middle of December, I headed to San Diego for scans, doctor appointments and Christmas.   All the scans and doctor appointments went well, and I am still cancer-free.   I am just about to publish my second book (Climbing Higher, Surviving and Thriving after Cancer).   The big news is that Steve, Chanda and Gates are moving to Jacksonville, Florida!  Steve is starting up a King Air program for US Customs.   They have been in San Diego for 15 years (how the time flies).   With all my doctor appointments, I have said “adieu”.   I will be transferring my care back to Denver now.

I’ll be in SD till January 2nd, and then I’ll head north, leaving AJay and TJay at Craig’s house while I go off to New Zealand one more time!  Just 3 months this year – so I will be coming back on April 9th.

I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!   Hard to believe it is really almost 2020!





Posted by: Talie Morrison | September 7, 2019

A big change – GrayJay to TJay!

In August of 2002, my friend, Raven, sold me GrayJay.   She had 100,000 miles on her and a wonderful camper!    This was the impetus for me to start living the life of a gypsy!

Camping at Lake Powell

Camping in Utah

Camping at Elkton

GrayJay and I have been across the USA several times;  the length of California; camping in deserts, forests, mountains, and beaches.   She has been a wonderful dependable vehicle and I will truly miss her!

In Utah

After the camper mechanism broke….

The new system – GrayJay and the hammock

In the Redwoods

With the Rainbows

Beautiful Places

Pulling AJay by Crystal Geyser

At Death Valley

Yup – that’s my home!

Camping in Crested Butte

When I purchased Ajay in July of 2018, GrayJay, even with only 4 cylinders, pulled Ajay all the way back to Colorado.   She was able to pull her up to Wyoming last year and several times across the deserts from Colorado to California.  She was/is amazing!

GrayJay meets AJay

Ready and able!

Turning 300,000

Coming across California


Now with almost 310,000 miles on her, she said she was ready to “move on”.

My friend, Kathy, who lives in Tucson was looking to sell her 2003 Toyota 4 Runner (V8).   What a perfect match for Ajay!   So I agreed to purchase Kathy’s 4 Runner (now named TJay [for Tucson Jay]) and on August 25thI flew to Tucson (shortly after getting back from Iceland).   Kathy and I made the transfer and I drove TJay home to Colorado.

Car conference before GrayJay moves on!

Changing of the guard

Final odomoter reading!

GrayJay has gone to a good home and I know she will give her new owners many fun adventures.

Good bye good friend!

I am styling:   automatic transmission, air conditioning, power windows, a radio that works, and cruise control.   TJay only has 153,000 miles on her – so we will have many miles together!

Camping with TJay!

And TJay, AJay and I will be hitting the road next month!!  Stay tuned for more adventures!

Posted by: Talie Morrison | September 7, 2019

Summer 2019 – ICELAND

August 2nd I headed to Iceland!   If you remember, in 2017 I had planned a backpacking trip to Iceland – and then my femur broke and I had to cancel it all.   I was pretty excited to know that it only took me 2 years to be back “in business” and really doing the Iceland trip!


I had 2 nights in Reykjavik, and then took a bus to Landmannlauger where the backpacking trip started.

Exploring Reykjavik Harbor

The Reykjavik Arts Center – the windows have a light show at night….

Downtown cathedral

I had booked 2 nights in the hut at Landmannalauger to enjoy that area and soak in the natural hot springs there.   Iceland is like something I have never seen before.   Incredible rocky mountains with all different colors of rocks.   Thermal vents puffing away right next to snow fields.  “Rivers” of beautiful mosses – ice caves – and no trees!   Pretty amazing!

Hut at Landmannalauger

Natural Hot Springs

Lots of campers there – it is a rough road but you can drive there with a 4 wheel drive

Day hike around Landmannalauger

Bunk sleeping in the hut

Kitchen area

Very nice!

The backpacking trip was 5 days long – I had booked nights in Landmannalauger, Hrafntinnusker, Alftavatn, Emstrur, and Pórsmörk.   And for the 5 days, I had clear blue sky days!   I was SO lucky!   It was a bit windy and cool (I never once wore my shorts without long-johns underneath them!) but at least it wasn’t raining!  I got to know lots of other backpackers along the way and had a comfortable bunk to sleep in every night.   I had ordered my own backpacking food from Next Mile Meals (keto friendly) and brought it with me.   I was able to still be out on the trails and stay on my keto diet.

Cotton Grass reminded me of Alaska

Incredible mountains

Rugged country

Well maintained track

Signs were well done – I didn’t even need a map

I wore my “thermals” every day!

Lots of thermal vents

Thermals next to ice vents

Rivers of moss

Such contrast

Of course Tengu was enjoying the scenery too!

Love it!

Thermals and snow fields

Ice caves

Across the tops

The last day I was pretty excited that my leg had held up so well.   I have to admit I had some help from Ibuprofen.   But considering the shape I was in 2 years ago – I had completed the Laugavegur Trail!   Yea!

My pack is getting lighter!

Some amazing scenery

The final river crossing

Is that a tree?

Kilometer 1 marker – end of the trail

Good bye to good friends!

After the  backpacking trip, I took the bus back to Reykjavik for another night there.   Then the next morning I picked up a rental camper van.   It had “Cheap” written on the side of it – guess that describes me!   It was a great little van with just enough room for me to sleep in it and a little pull out shelf to cook on.

Perfect little van

Just enough room for me!


I had ordered enough Next Mile Meals to have for this portion of the trip also.   All I had to supplement with were fresh veggies from the grocery stores.  Everyone talks about how expensive Iceland is, but for me (bringing my own food and only going to grocery stores) it was a little expensive but not so much.   I do admit I went out for a really nice Lamb dinner one night, and when I did the calculations it was about $60!

I spent 10 days driving around the island.   I was fascinated with the fjords and wanted to see as many of them as I could.   So I headed up to the West Fjords and then covered the Northern section of the island.   Those were areas with not so many tourists – but when I hit the Eastern Fjords and along the Southern route, I was in tourist central.   But I still stopped (along with the buses) to see the beautiful places!  I saw many waterfalls, hot thermal areas, amazing black sand beaches, icebergs and plenty of fjords!

Lots of rainbows

Horses were behind fences at least

At the end of the fjords, there were dykes with a bridge on them

This will become a big waterfall later!


the fjords were amazing

Loved the waterfalls

Wild sheep along the main highways – look out!

Little fishing villages along the water

Many isolated farms along the fjords

Great spot for a picnic

Local hot tubs

Lots of water

A sod workshop

A sod fence

Big water!

Yes – waterfalls!


Beautiful thermal lake

Campgrounds had tiny kitchens (there are 2 toilets on the other side)

Why do I always look cold?

Where land meets sea!

Little fishing villages

Black sand beaches


Almost every little village has its own heated swimming pool, complete with a couple of hot tubs, a cold tub, steam room and showers.   I tried to camp somewhere near the local pools and then I went in for a morning soak.   You meet lots of locals in the hot tubs at 7 am!  And it felt wonderful on my leg!

Great hot tubs, steam rooms, and swimming pools!

August 22, I flew back to Colorado for the end of summer.   It is still beautiful and there is still some (not much though) snow in the high country.

Back in Colorado – overlooking the Castles


Stay tuned for one more Summer 2019 post:   The changing of the “guard” from GrayJay to TJay!



Posted by: Talie Morrison | September 7, 2019

Summer 2019 – Part 1

June, July and August 2019


It has been a pretty busy summer this year!  Because it has been so “full” I am going to do two posts for the summer  – June and July –  and then August (Iceland).

In June I headed back out to California because on June 13, my grandson Gates graduated from high school. It was a great celebration and I was so proud of him!

McKenzie, Chanda, Gates and Steve – A beautiful family!

It was a pretty big Senior Class!

Then Gates and I drove up to Santa Barbara to see Craig and his family.  Gates got a new car for graduation and he drove the whole way (right through LA traffic!)  I was the navigator.    We were only in Santa Barbara for a couple of days,  but it was great fun to be with our Santa Barbara family!   We got “hooked” on doing some puzzle rooms – they lock you in a room and you have to find the clues in order to get out.   Craig, Dakota, Gates and I did it twice.  Way fun!

We did pretty well on this one –

This puzzle was a bit more of a challenge!

Back down to San Diego so that I could house/dog sit for Steve, Chanda and Gates while they went on their 3 week vacation to Florida.   I made the most of being there for 3 weeks – I went to a Llyle Lovett concert with Deb and Michael on the 4thof July and watched the fireworks over the harbor.

Maggie and Reece

At the Llyle Lovett Concert

Fireworks over the harbor

Looking out over the San Diego harbor

I also went to see music in the park near their home in Allied Gardens (a subdivision of San Diego).

Music in the park – I guess it is a universal summer activity!

Just like Crested Butte – but they do FREE food!

And of course, I went to the beach when I could, rode Chanda’s bike when I could, and did some hiking when I could  (if it wasn’t too hot!), and I joined a gym for workout time and yoga.

Hiking to Potato Chip Rock

A day at the County Fair

Biking at the beach

My kind of restaurant!

Walks on the beach


When Steve got home (before I left), he took us on a tour of the base where he works.   That was way fun!

They aren’t in their karate uniforms for this photo – and I am still short!

He really flies these big helicopters!!

Mid July, I flew back to Crested Butte (via Grand Junction).   A great friend, Tammy, had let me park GrayJay at their house while I was gone, and they even came and met me at the airport!   Awesome!

Back in Crested Butte in the height of summer!   What a beautiful summer – with the large snow load last winter, there was lots of moisture and thus lots of summer wildflowers.  There was also tons of snow still in the back country!   Crested Butte is always gorgeous in the summer, but this year was over the top!

Elephant Head – really my favorite!

Shooting Stars

Love the lupine

Fields of flowers!!!!

Home for a couple of weeks!

Lots of Columbine!

I knew I was only going to be in CB for a couple of weeks and I had to make the most of it!   I had a lot of training hikes to do and on lots of those I carried my  full backpack (got to get ready for Iceland).   I also did some regular sessions at the gym, massage, and chiropractic.   I was a little nervous about my leg/knee and going backpacking – so I was going to do everything possible to prepare for it!

Carry that pack Talie!

Joni and I climbed Mt. Crested Butte in support of Living Journeys and in honor of friends who have lost the battle with cancer.

Tengu on top of Mt. Crested Butte

Flowers are taller than I am (that does NOT mean I am short!)

Green Gentian up close!

Old Men of the Mountain – one of my favorites

On top of Scarp Ridge – it was the same elevation gain that I will have in Iceland.

So on August 1st I was headed to Denver to FINALLY do this Iceland adventure (I had it planned back in 2017 before my leg broke and THAT adventure started!)

All packed up and ready for the next adventure!

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