Monthly Archives: March 2011

Help Us Win a Trip to Alaska to Volunteer

Many of our friends, family, and blog readers have shared their support for our trip and their concern for Jay’s well being since the accident.  You have asked how you can help.  Here’s how:

Please click on the photo below to go to the Travel for Good site and vote for us to win a travel grant to volunteer in Alaska.
jay and sharon in tent
The grant is for up to $5,000 and will help to balance out the costs of Jay’s treatment so that we can keep on schedule to volunteer for a year.

Here are the details of the contest:

  • You are allowed 1 vote per day per computer from now until May 31st
  • You can vote from your mobile device as well
  • You do not have to sign up or give any information to vote
  • The photo of us in the tent on the right sidebar gives you a direct link to the voting page.
  • Four winners will be chosen, so feel free to vote for another video as well if you would like
  • If we win, we will participate in one of these trips from the American Hiking Society

Please let us know if you have any questions.  If you have suggestions of where we can share our story and encourage others to vote,  please let us know.

Here is our contest video that is linked to in the photo above:

Week In Review – Recuperating in Phoenix

Before I start on the week in review, I want to give a huge shout out to Barbara Grostick.  I met Barbara when she was the President of NAVPLG and I was a new member.  I remember thinking of her as being kind and welcoming.  Last week she was also generous, opening up her home to us so that Jay and I could leave the Las Vegas Hotel and recuperate in the comfort of a home.  Barbara, her husband, and her two dogs made us feel right at home and aided in Jay’s speedy recovery.  We are so grateful.

Hedgehog cactus flower

Hedgehog cactus flower

Last Tuesday night we arrived in Phoenix, in time to celebrate Jay’s birthday with his family on Wednesday.  We also celebrated Jay’s dad’s birthday on Sunday and will celebrate Jay’s future sister in-law’s birthday tomorrow.  Needless to say we are eating a lot of cake and trying to stay healthy despite that.  Jay’s recovery is coming along great and we are planning to take a short road trip this weekend to the Overland Expo in Amado Arizona.

blitz torte

We ate a lot of Cindi's famous Blitz Torte this week ... with 2 Holt birthdays and testing for Nate's wedding cake

Hours volunteered: approximately 5, Sharon attended training for a volunteer event in Phoenix, wrote e-newsletter blasts for NAVPLG, and started a web content project for StartingBloc

States: Arizona

Budget: under – we always save money when we stop moving

People Visited: we enjoyed seeing Jay’s friend Steve again and celebrating birthday’s with Jay’s brother Nate, his fiance Nicole, and their daughter Laya; we also celebrated Morgan’s birthday with Jay’s riding teammates from the 24 hour race, Kevin and Mary and Dan (and his wife Lisa)

Nights under the stars: 0

Best meal: Cedar plank grilled salmon, roasted tomatoes and caesar salad with Blitz Torte for dessert that Cindi and Morgan prepared for Jay’s birthday dinner

Best beer: New Belgium’s 1554  (the first beer Jay got to drink once he cut back on the pain meds)

Laya and Sharon

Sharon with Jay's niece Laya

Photo Review: Phoenix Mountain Preserve

This week we have been lucky enough to be recuperating in Phoenix.  The weather is gorgeous here and we have been able to celebrate both Jay’s birthday and his dad’s birthday at the Spa de Holt (my nickname for Jay’s parents’ house).  Their house backs up to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve which is a desert oasis in the middle of the big city.

Saguaro and flowering desert

Saguaro cactus, flowering ocotillo and flowering deserts

flowering cactus

Cactus blossom

lizard in Phoenix Mountain Preserve

lizard in Phoenix Mountain Preserve

bird in Phoenix Mountain Preserve

bird in Phoenix Mountain Preserve

yellow flowers

prickly pear cactus fruit

Prickly pear cactus fruit



Ocotillo flower close up

Ocotillo flower

Phoenix Mountain Preserve Trail 100

Trail 100 at Phoenix Mountain Preserve

Wolverine Clarification

It was brought to my attention by  John Tewksbury, whom some of you might know simply as Sharon’s dad that some clarification on the wolverine analogy is needed. And I quote:

“I checked out wolverines and found out they look like this

and are fierce, smelly and eat a lot (Latin name means glutton) – didn’t seem like a complete match, and no mention of rapid healing  -  so I Googled images and found Wolverine who looks like this
this guy is still fierce and has Rapid Healing Factor – must be what you meant as a match for Jay – am I right? “
John is of course right about the analogy to the comic book character Wolverine.

Photo Review: Grapevine Mesa Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark

After volunteering (see last post), we went hiking and biking in the Grapevine Mesa Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark. I was overwhelmed at the beauty and lushness of this desert habitat. I am glad that we were working to preserve it. I think you’ll agree when you see the photos.

cactus wren

A Cactus wren perches in a Joshua Tree


The desert was full of texture and color

birds on cactus

There were lots of these birds flitting about the cactus

dead joshua tree

Haunting dead Joshua Tree

cactus close up

Cactus close up

Joshua tree blossom

A rare sight: a Joshua Tree blossom

joshua trees

Lots of healthy looking Joshua Trees

Jay is Wolverine

Ok, it’s official.  Jay heals faster than humanly possible.  He must be Wolverine or something.


In other words, Jay is doing great.  At his visit to the Phoenix Burn unit yesterday, they said that he was looking great, could switch to a different type of dressing, and after one more week of follow up would probably be considered done with treatment.  He has healthy new skin coming in where the burn used to be.  He has shown absolutely zero signs of infection.  He is already off most of the pain meds.  He can sit on the burn for periods of 15 minutes or more.  If it were not for the pictures I have of the burn during the first week, I would have thought that I dreamed the whole thing.

He’s still being driven nuts by the itching (similar to when you get a bad sunburn or get a tattoo).  He will not be riding his bike right away (unless he tries it trials style and doesn’t sit on the saddle…).  Otherwise, he’s back to normal.

Hopefully he can update the blog next week so that you can get his perspective.  We hope to be back on the road in April after his brother’s wedding.  Thank you all so much for your support.

Saving the Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark

Did you know that there is a Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark in addition to the Joshua Tree National Park? I didn’t. In fact, when I read the newspaper clipping that Jay’s grandma saved for us about volunteering to help with revegetation of a Joshua Tree forest, I just assumed we were headed to California. It wasn’t until I was looking up directions to the recommended campsite at Pearce Ferry, that I found out we were actually headed to Meadview Arizona at the eastern edge of Lake Mead.  Good thing I checked – that’s a 5 hour difference!

View near our campsite at Pearce Ferry

View near our campsite at Pearce Ferry

Just as well, since neither of us had been to that particular spot and it was only a four hour drive from Flagstaff. We arrived Sunday evening in time to set up camp, explore our surroundings and cook dinner. We had an early morning ahead of us, since we needed to break down camp and then meet the crew at 9 am along Pearce Ferry Road, a 30 minute drive away.  We were camped at Pearce Ferry, a lovely camping spot that is also a historic landmark.  It’s named for a pioneer ferry crossing created by Mormon settlers.

drive to the volunteer project at Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark

The drive to the volunteer project at Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark

We met the other volunteers and BLM staff at Milepost 30 on Pearce Ferry Road.  I must say, I’ve never done a volunteer project for which I met on the side of the road.  I was a bit nervous.  My nerves got further rattled in the roadside “pep talk”.   The project coordinator quickly listed off some potential dangers: rattlesnakes, scorpions, Cholla cactus … you know, the usual desert crew.  EEK!

the area surrounding the National Natural Landmark includes a lot of cattle grazing

We caravaned out to the project site.  About 12 pickup trucks and our little Rav4 with 2 bikes on top.  Most of the volunteer crew were local retirees from the Meadview community.  Even though most of volunteers were older than our parents, they were ready to get to work and not shy about getting their hands dirty (or prickly as the case may be).

volunteer site at Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark

the volunteer site at the Grapevine Mesa Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark

This was the second volunteer work day in the Grapevine Mesa National Natural Landmark.  Both days of work were focused on revegetating an area that had been crushed by illegal motor vehicle traffic.  The area is off limits to off road vehicles, but has seen a lot of damage from people taking their ATVs or trucks and just driving over this beautiful landscape.  In order to prevent further such atrocities, we covered the tire tracks with plants from the surrounding area.  We also dug holes and “planted” dead Joshua Trees in order to create a more substantial barrier to vehicles.  This technique is called “vertical mulching”.

The video shows Jay being ambitious in his “vertical mulching”.

Sharon at Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark

Sharon posing at the volunteer site

Ok, I have to admit it, I did not actually use this tool.

But it looks good.  Much better than the plain looking rake that I actually used to cover up the tire tracks.

revegetated road

Our completed work!

With a big crew of hard workers, the project was completed in no time!

We followed up with the volunteers at the local pizza joint and got to hear their plans for monitoring the area and working towards securing further protection by getting the National Landmark established as a National Monument (a federal distinction that would protect it from mining claims and other risks).  This area is federal land that is federally managed, but the local residents have taken ownership over protecting their neighboring wild habitats.  We could see that the Joshua trees were in good hands.

This effort is led by a local resident named Sharon Baur.  If you are interested in learning more about this project, you can contact her at

These 3 hours of volunteering were sponsored by Kim Durand.  Thank you so much for the support!


Beer, Bikes, & Bacon Photo Review

Although there haven’t been a lot of Beer, Bikes, and Bacon posts, that does not mean that we have not enjoyed our share of the three.  Here are some photos that show you a sampling.

Fullsteam Brewery

Fullsteam Brewery in Chapel Hill, NC

Jay cooking bacon

Jay in Jess' kitchen, cooking the awesome bacon that Aunt Madelon & Uncle Chris gave us before we left

Jay at Brewery in Atlanta

Jay at the Five Seasons Brewery in Atlanta, GA - we enjoyed an awesome sampler there in addition to a delicious lunch

bacon and spinach

Bacon with spinach and onions for dinner - cooked in the cast iron on the camp stove

bikes in ice

The bikes do not like winter driving

view at Oak Mountain State Park

view from the trail at Oak Mountain State Park, Alabama

Sharon biking near Lake Mead

Sharon on the River Mountains Loop Trail at Lake Mead National Recreation Area

Grapevine Mesa Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark

View from the trails at the Grapevine Mesa Joshua Tree National Natural Landmark

Seventh Week In Review – Stuck In Las Vegas

Well, you’ve probably already read the account of the accident that happened one week ago in Death Valley National Park.  This week has been focused on caring for Jay and specifically trying to prevent infection or any other serious consequences.  Although our trip is on hold, I still have a few posts to add that will fill in some of the gaps about where we traveled before the accident happened.  You’ll be seeing those in the next week as well as getting updates on Jay’s progress.  Speaking of Jay’s progress, he seems to be healing normally.  A 2nd degree burn is a very painful injury, even when it’s healing, but he is taking the recovery in stride and finding humor even in the most painful moments.

Today is Jay’s birthday, a day we were hoping to spend in Carson City Nevada, with family, skiing.  He really appreciates the kind words and support that you all have given us over the last week.

Hours volunteered: 0 (unless you count Sharon’s caring for Jay as informal volunteering, in which case it would be the full week)

States: California, Nevada, Arizona

Budget: Over, serious injuries are expensive!

People Visited: Barbara Grostick

Nights under the stars: 0  – Jay was injured this time last week and we have stayed at a hotel and then Barbara’s house

Best meal: Pecan crusted salmon, roasted veggies and caesar salad that Sharon prepared

Best beer: no beer … Jay can’t drink while he’s on pain meds and Sharon doesn’t want to drink while she’s the primary caregiver.  Our last beer was the Boulder Dam Stout which we were toasting with right before the accident happened.

A picture I snapped while refueling near the California / Nevada line where Jay was switched from one ambulance to the next - look closely and you can see the brothel museum in the background


Jay’s Birthday’s Tomorrow

I just wanted to put up a quick post to let everyone know that Jay will be celebrating his 28th birthday tomorrow.  Since he won’t actually be able to celebrate beyond eating some cake, I was hoping everyone could write in cheerful messages or send cards.

Jay's birthday

A picture from Jay's birthday two years ago in Virginia

You can send birthday or get well e-cards to

You can send birthday or get well cards snail mail to:

Jay Holt
2262 E Clinton St
Phoenix, AZ 85028

Some other things that would be nice to include:

  • a good joke
  • some positive news
  • an article or something to read about something he’s interested in (bike trails, new scientific discoveries, travel, bacon, beer)
  • movie recommendations for fun comedies or action films that would provide a much needed distraction

Thank you for helping me to make his birthday special even as I’m sure it’s going to be a tough one.