West Linn Adult Community Center volunteer Mary Jean Rivera shares her winter 'snowbird' trip to the desert of southwestern US.

SUBMITTED PHOTO  - The desert of the southwestern United States is where  Mary Jean Rivera enjoys spending several weeks each winter.

Editor's note: West Linn Adult Community Center volunteer Mary Jean Rivera shares memories of a road trip she took earlier this year. She enjoys the desert sunshine during Pacific Northwest winters.

I traveled south Jan. 4 with a friend, driving down the coast, to avoid high mountain passes. The trip to Barstow, California, included one day of constant rain and wind, but the rest were easy, including Tehachapi Pass. And then we were in the desert sunshine!

We had two nights in Laughlin, Nevada, a warm mini-Las Vegas for those who aren't familiar with it, where I could park my rig across the street from the casino and restaurants, movie and other theaters. We had a nice guided tour on that part of the Colorado River.

My friend returned to Portland from the Las Vegas airport, 97 miles north, and I returned to Barstow for a longer visit with friends and relatives there. We attended a play ("Silent Sky") in Riverside, saw a movie and a children's production of a musical, went to church, played cards, and enjoyed a visit from a nephew. I got in a little reading and sun time every day.

Quartzite, Arizona's outstanding, world-class garage sales and free parking in the desert beckoned, so I camped there and visited with some friends. Then I drove to Phoenix for 10 days and parked at my sister's house. We went to free library programs on tai chi, meditation and yoga, and watched videos of season one of "Outlander," which got us both hooked.

It's our habit to eat lunch in a restaurant with a cuisine new to us, ordering appetizers to share. This time we went Greek! It was excellent.

We went to the National Hoop Dancing Contest at the Heard Museum for a pleasant afternoon. My brother-in-law treated us to an early Valentine's Day, with a movie and dinner out. I recommend "The Green Book" and "The Upside."

On the road again, I drove from Phoenix back to Laughlin (the warmest place I visited). I enjoyed vistas of Joshua Tree and Saguaro National Parks, and noted ice on the north side of hillocks around Kingman, Arizona.

A few more good meals and walks, and I headed back to my Barstow hangout, with more reading and playing cards, listening to the mockingbirds, till I finished up and published "Intuitive Theology" (Kindle only) on Feb. 17.

Winter arrived in Barstow with cold winds, icy rain, water running freely in the Mojave River, and even some snow showers. But most days I could see the sun rise.

I am thankful for relatives and friends, near and far. They will have great flowers soon.

Now I am back home in West Linn where I will be enjoying my own flowers soon.

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The West Linn Adult Community Center is located at 1180 Rosemont Road in West Linn. It offers a variety of classes and activities and serves lunch at noon three days a week. The lunch menu this week features barbequed pulled pork, macaroni salad, carrots and peanut butter cookies on Friday, March 15; Swedish meatballs, egg noodles, peas and key lime pie on Monday, March 18, and tomato soup, roast beef sandwiches and strawberry shortcake on Wednesday, March 20. Cost is $5 per person.

To learn more call 503-557-4704.

Mary Jean Rivera is a member of the West Linn Adult Community Center.

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