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My years of formal art training in college and core of creative DNA, force the “Get ‘er Done Donna” to stop and “listen” to the art form to guide my hands. I’ve been praying since its inception for a direction. And, as happens, the more research I did on the traditional Zen garden the more I knew it would take on a life of its own…and it did.

As I placed the focal points in the area to be the Zen garden the other night, I was “told” it was about the passage of time. It was only natural that the heart-of-pine which meant so much Sumner, Ava and me and has withstood the test time these last nine years in this very area was intentionally placed to mark time by its shadow. The other items were placed not so consciously but more as by direction. So, it wasn’t until today when I was pulling it all together that I noticed the placements of these items corresponded with time on a clock.

ZenGarden1*

It took off from there. The Heart-of-Pine stands proudly marking hours of life.

Twelve o’clock seemed to be the hour Ava was the most active…it could have been AM or PM, it didn’t matter. The noon/midnight hour is the small piece of driftwood between the cactus and the heart-of-pine toward the point. It’s also when I fell asleep…exhausted from the weeks events… as she spoke her last words to me.

Focal Point is the Heart-of-Pine standing tall with the help of the rocks Carl brought back from his mine years ago.

Focal Point is the Heart-of-Pine standing tall with the help of the rocks Carl brought back from his mine years ago.

Three o’clock was when I had to pick Ava up from school or her college classes were over for the day. Three PM is the rock on its side to the right.

Zen garden from the stream that runs to the left of it.

Zen garden from the stream that runs to the left of it. Three o’clock is the rock pointing to the right toward the railroad ties.

Six o’clock A.M is when I heard about Ava’s suicide. It is the dark stone near the aloe plant and the line of polished rocks marks her last night.

ZenLookDown

Seven o’clock A.M. was when Ava was born. It is the line of sea shells which Ava and I collected on our last trip to our favorite beach in 2008 before she moved to Las Vegas. She loved the beach and we spent many vacations there during her childhood and in her growing-up years. I can’t go there without thinking of both my children because we spent so many happy hours walking those beaches. There are only a few  pebbles within the line next to the shells as there were only a few of us who have that memories of that precious moment…the birth of  Jennifer.

The white sand without any other pebbles between six and seven signifies the memories between her birth and death which belong only to me and her. The few pebbles within that white sand signifies those closest to me and the Ava she became after changing her birth name. They are few but precious.

Nine o’clock P.M. was the time she was driving home from her friends’ house contemplating what she was going to do that night. It is the rock to left.

zenFocalPt

Ten o’clock P.M. signifies the time she left us. It is the big rock with pebbles on top. It is a big rock for a life-altering event with memories from us all covering that event.

Eleven o’clock P.M. is when she called me for the last time on Friday, March 23rd. It  is the cactus on the log because it signifies growth with prickles. River pebbles are in that pot as well as we all have our last memories/conversations with her.

The most significant thing to remember about this memory garden is that ALL the  river pebbles covering the area signify the memories we have of her…so many for so few years…even those who met her after her death through their songs in her memory, through Avascorner.org or from her friends, family and loved ones.

Ava's Star shines blinks "hello" right above the end of the wolf's nose above the tree line.

Ava’s Star shines blinks “hello” right above the end of the wolf’s nose above the tree line.

What you don’t know is that this is where I stand to see her star each clear night. It appears directly over the wolf’s nose above the tree line to the right of the stream beside the Zen Memory Garden which overlooks Carl’s Garden below.

Ava and Jake. He is a very special and holds dear a special place in my heart forever.

Ava and Jake. He is a very special and holds dear a special place in my heart forever1`

Ava owned a wolf, Jake, who saved her life. She had to give him up if she wanted to travel with the man she wanted to marry. When I couldn’t keep him, I bought the wolf /cactus sculpture because I, too, was saddened from the loss. She regretted giving up her wolf for the rest of her life.

Some of you are going to say how sad it is for me to mark these times in this way and that’s okay. It’s MY Zen Memory Garden and this is where I am one year after her death. It will probably change a great deal and that’s exactly what I love about this kind of art/sculpture. It has its own life.

After we found out about how Carl died, I built a fence here with some of the wood I found at the burned out structure of the house where he was killed. It started out as a horizontal structure but, over time, it became a vertical one as I healed. The only part remaining is one piece of charred wood. I keep it close…on the front deck overlooking his garden

I envision a metamorphosis happening with this area as well and I look forward to seeing my progress.

Happy Trails (or Trials as the case may be).

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I’ve been absent but for good reason. I’m diligently working on a book of short stories of real life adventures and misadventures from my childhood, my life and my journey toward mental health, happiness and rediscovering my joie de vivre, from a Friend, a book of short stories. As writers go, we write, re-write, edit, write some more and re-write and re-edit. It’s an OCD process that keeps my ADD very happy and my dyslexia in absolute misery. LOL I wouldn’t have it any other way because I wouldn’t know how to be any other way!

Want a peek into my novella, from a Friend, a story of Great Warrior? Read my blog “My Son’s Eyes” for a taste. It’s about the great adventure my family went on with my son, his disappearance and his communications with us from the other side. Faith, love and communication from all levels are explored and experienced in my journey through it all.

Jus as an aside, it seems like someone’s protesting or  complaining about the size of a person’s wealth but, to my way of thinking, I coulda’ been born into a wealthy family as there was a time when Mom’s family was. But things happen and as Dad used to say, “I shoulda’ been born rich instead of so damn good looking!” Yep. If he had been born rich, I would’ve had a totally different experience. Maybe I woulda’ never lost a son and almost a daughter but I also wouldn’t be the woman I am today and I like me just fine.

My next Great Adventure is June and July so we won’t miss the PowWows and Rodeos this year! I had thought I’d cancel this year’s adventure but I was reminded about the Mayan calendar thingie and decided I really needed to cram as much in this year as possible just in case they knew what they were talking about. So, Montana and  I’ll be heading west hoping Ava will join us on a great adventure up the Pacific Coast Highway to my favorite redwood forest in all the world where God lives. I can’t wait!

Right now, Montana won’t come away from the wood burning stove. She’s so cute! It’s funny but it’s very comforting to see my bird dog in front of a fire.

Happy Trails!

Montana in front of the fire

It’s been strange trying to settle back into a life of not traveling! Instead of  planning  my next camping stop or hiking place, I’m doing loads and loads of  laundry,  pulling weeds (as Mother Nature is very possessive), cutting grass,  cleaning the  house and so forth. During all this labor intensive service to my  home, I’ve been  pondering my real love of Georgia. So, it will be Georgia’s  back  roads and flea  markets that I write about this summer.

This has really been my first day “back” where I’ve had time to think or drive  around since returning with my daughter on Monday. I’ve run back and forth  from  Atlanta delivering her and helping Mom and now, at last, I’ve got a couple  of days  to gather my thoughts and see some of my favorite spots that I truly  missed while  on my journey.

My home is about 12 miles south of Clayton, Georgia which is located in the  northeastern most corner of Georgia in Rabun County. Highway 441/23 runs  through the center of town bisected by Highway 76. If you continue north on  Hwy. 441, you’ll go through Clayton, Mountain City, Dillard and end up  heading toward Franklin, North Carolina. If you turn left  onto Hwy. 76  heading west, you’ll be going toward Blairsville over one of the  prettiest  highways in Georgia. If you turn right heading east onto Hwy. 76 ,  you’ll end up  in South Carolina in about 20 minutes.

It takes me one hour to get to I-285 and I-85 in Atlanta and another 30 minutes  to run the I-285 gauntlet to Mom’s house in Sandy Springs. It sounds further  away than it really is. Totally doable in a day but best when savored. I’m only  hitting MY favorite spots. There are so many shops to explore and so little time!

Driving north on Hwy. 441 is my favorite thing to do early on Saturdays until all  the venues close at the end of the “season” (winter). There are so  many shiny  objects to satisfy that A.D.D. itch I get.  My A.D.D. itch happens to be pet  friendly indoor and outdoor flea markets.  There are so  many friendly people to  visit with and interesting collections for  sale.

I also like driving north on Hwy. 441 as there is a creamery just across the  North Carolina state line that has the best ice cream on the planet because the  milk is from happy cows. Usually, milk products upset my stomach, therefore, I  don’t eat it much at all. This is my coming home treat. I get a half scoop of  Pralines & Cream and a half scoop of Espresso Fudge on a waffle cone and I’m  good for another couple of months.

Spring Ridge Creamery in Otto, NC

“Farm Fresh Dairy Products from Spring Ridge Creamery

Whole Milk, Butter Milk, and Chocolate Milk

Eggs fresh from the Farm, Hand dipped Ice Cream and a variety of Cheeses

Egg Nog available during the Holiday Season

dairy products,milk,eggs,cheese,ice cream

Just 1.5 miles north of the Georgia border on hwy. 441 in Otto, North Carolina

2 miles north of Dillard, Georgia

11856 Georgia Rd. (Hwy 441) Otto, NC— Phone: 828-369-2958

Jim Moore, Proprietor

Email: jmmooresr@msn.com

(Copied from: inthesmokymountains.com/springridgecreamery)

You can sit outside overlooking this river, pasture and the "happy cows" just beyond the river and the trees.

On the way to the creamery, I go to Osage Produce in Mountain City (just north  of Clayton) on the right as well. Their fields are right beside the facility and  fresh produce is being delivered straight from the local farmers as I pick through  peaches, cabbages the size of a giant’s head, tomatoes of all varieties, honey  (their own) and fresh-baked breads. It can be tough turning left from it on  Saturdays as it can get quite congested but so worth it. (www.dillardgeorgia.com/osage-farms)

Osage Produce near Dillard, GA

On the way back south, I hit my two favorite flea markets. The first one on the way home is in Mountain City called Rabun Flea Market. It’s several (at least 5) covered but not enclosed long sheds with booths of everything from herbs to plants to jewelry to used tools to cool junk. They are only open on Saturday and Sunday but a great place to walk with Montana.

Rabun Flea Market in Mountain City, GA

Some of the open sheds at Rabun Flea Market

After a walk through this facility chatting with locals and venders, I get back on Hwy. 441 south toward my next favorite flea market in the area, Georgia Mountain Market.

Georgia Mountain Market inside flea market in Clayton GA

Montana loves to shop here. Everyone who knows her runs up to get sugar!

One of Montana's special friends who always has loving treats for her.

One of my newer dear friends, Lynn Scholl has a booth inside Georgia Mountain  Market where she sells “Bodacious Vintage Jewelry”. She has a display of my  own One-of-a-kind  earrings…from a friend available for purchase.  (lynnscholl@mindspring.com). Her booth is the first one you see when you  walk into the main door. Tell her “a Friend” sent you!

Lynn Scholl has plenty of "Bodacious Vintage Jewelry" (including my one-of-a-kind earrings) to sell to you!

Another one of my favorite places to stop and visit in Georgia Mountain Market  is with Janice Grant of Turning Creek. Her specialty is “natural handmade  soap”. (turningcreek@aol.com). It was a pleasure getting to know her better  today and finding out that her husband, Bob, is a beekeeper. She also sells his  “Raw Mountain Honey”. I see from his card that he also makes hand turned  wood. Check him out at Turning Creek Artisans (rivercg@aol.com).

Janice Grant at Georgia Mountain Market selling handmade soap & raw local honey.

To give you a "feel" of the place. It's huge!

We still had more errands to run and the rain was pouring buckets so off we  went to get our day done and write this little ditty.

Next adventure? Sautee, a little known eclectic shopping corner not far from home.

Happy Trails!

We’ve had the hammer down these last few days trying to finish up our trip to  Atlanta as Ava has music to learn before leaving for Austria, people to see at  home  and I’ve got 6 weeks of accumulated mail to dig through and grass to cut.  I’ll be  glad to be back home but I’m already planning my next trip.

As for this one, last night was scary. We were outside of Memphis by about 70  miles when we noticed quite a “light show” going on. The more east we went,  the  worse the lightning got; I’d never seen cloud to cloud lightning before and  this was  scary stuff. Strangest part of it was the lightening skipped across the  sky like a stone across water… barely hitting briefly down before showing up a  little farther down an imaginary horizontal line. THAT’s what convince me we needed to take action.

Ava, feeling the same way, whipped out her IPhone and went on Weather.com  while I tuned into a  local radio station to see how bad the weather was ahead.  After all, we were still in Arkansas and they’re known for tornadoes and hail.

That horrible ehhhhh ehhhhh alert was coming out of the radio at the same time  Ava found hail and storm warnings on her phone. That was it. The radio told us  to find shelter immediately! I’d remembered there was a Motel 6 in Brinkley,  Arkansas just west of Memphis from my 2009 trip. Ava pulled it up on Google  map and we got there without difficulty. We checked in and went to bed  unscathed. That was a close one.

This morning we drove to Knoxville to visit family and tomorrow we head for  Roanoke to visit a friend and then we head for ATL. Whew! 10,000 in 6 weeks.  I’m ready to go again.

I’m hoping to upgrade to a more unpredictable weather friendly structure to replace the pop-up by summers end and explore western half of Colorado.

In the meantime, Happy Trails to you until we meet again.

Ready for action - 5/13/2011

First, let me say that my Federal Taxes paid over the last 46 years has finally  paid off in the form of the $10.00 price tag for a Senior Lifetime National Park  Pass. Although there aren’t that many of them in the east, I’ve used it like crazy  out here. It’s good for everyone in the car. So, when Ava and I were at Zion and  she needed the Shuttle and I didn’t, I asked for a special pass for her for the days  we anticipated staying. As it’s $25.00 every time you go through the National  Parks I’ve been in, I calculated that I’ve already saved a couple hundred bucks  and we ain’t through yet!

The other good news in Mesa Verde is the  campground where we’re staying  three nights. Check out A&A Mesa Verde RV Park-Campground (AAA  approved http://www.mesaverdecamping.com 800-972-6620) which is  strategically located to the Mesa Verde National Park entrance. They have a  pool, putt-putt, washers, dryers, peaceful pastoral atmosphere and no time limit  on showers!

At the Visitors Center, Ava chose to explore anasazi ruins at Wetherill Mesa today. This is the  view from the Parks Kiosk there. Not bad even with the trees destroyed by the  2000 fire. Interesting detail is that the indigenous trees are Pinyon Pine and  Juniper. The Juniper wood just doesn’t biodegrade like one would expect after  such a devastating fire. Interesting.

Snow capped mountains at Wetherill Mesa

This morning we awoke as refreshed as any two people sleeping in a pop-up  camper who didn’t go to sleep until after 1:00 AM could possibly be and drove to  Mesa Verde National Park. We drove up to the Visiter Center and Ava signed up  for the Ranger guided hike up into “Long House” cliff dwelling while Montana  hung out in the car and I took the tram to see several protected dwellings and  overlooks. It was serendipitous when Ava happened to catch the same tram I  was on when she was through with her journey.

So many geologic changes in one view going up to Visitor Center.

These trams make it so easy to see everything you want to without getting worn  out and dehydrated. The wind will dry you out just as fast as the heat.

Tram

What I didn’t know until today is that shuttles and trams are FREE to all paying  visitors to the National Parks. We didn’t stay at Zion long enough for me to find  our but it seems like it shoulda’ woulda’ coulda’ been made more clear. So, here it is folks!

I hiked the easier non-cliff dwelling sites at Wetherill Mesa called Badger  House Community (includes Basket, Pueblo and Row Houses with Kivas) and  rode the tram to see the Cliff Dwelling Overlooks for Long House and Kodak  House. All of these have a Kiva which is a circular in-ground structure used for  ceremonial purposes. There is a larger Kiva at the Ocmulgee Indian Mounds in Macon,  Georgia at the  mounds there right off I-75 which as been reconstructed. You  can actually go inside the Georgia one. It gives you a real sense of the moment-in-time.

Kiva - an in-ground ceremonial structure

The Badger House Community structures were non-cliff dwelling and all very  similar except for the Pueblo Village Row of Rooms.

Pueblo Village - row of rooms

These are rooms - very small rooms approximately 5'x5'!

How the Kiva looks when in use. One in Macon has been reconstructed.

The Kodak Overlook was of Cliff Dwelling inhabitants.

Kodak House Cliff Dwelling - can you tell my vertigo was getting to me?

The other Cliff Dwelling overlook was Long House.

Long House Cliff Dwelling

Tomorrow, we’re exploring Chapin Mesa. Ava will hike Cliff Palace and Balcony House while I take the tram.

Happy Trails!

After getting well rested and fed at the Jacob Lake Inn, Ava and I were ready to  hit the road toward the Four Corners area to hike Mesa Verde and check out  Canyon of the Ancients.

#6 Cabin at Jacob Lake Inn

Oh, if you love hearing the wind blowing through the Georgia pines, you’re going to go  CRAZY when you hear the wind blowing through the Ponderosa Pines. It sounds like the  ocean. They’re so majestic.

Ponderosa Pines at Jacob Lake Inn

It will always be the back roads for me as much as possible. We took Hwy. 89 from Jacob Lake toward the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We were only into  the trip about an hour when we came around a bend to see a dramatic  topographic change. Ponderosa Pines and WHAM wide open spaces.

Ava capturing the moment - left to right of next shots gives panoramic scope

next shot

 

3 of 4

 

4 of 4

It was such an absolutely breath-taking event going from dense forest to wide  open spaces. This is right before you get to the Colorado River so this is a part of  the pre-Grand Canyon!

The color of the rock formations changes as you travel toward Hwy. 160 past  Cliff Dwellers (the town).

Cliff Dwellers, Arizona (the town) on Hwy. 89 before Hwy. 160

We climbed up Hwy. 160 east toward the Four Corners area crossing flat, sand  blowing highway through the Reservation. We passed pastures of Mustangs    and not much else the whole time we were on Hwy. 160 except for the  occasional awesome rock formations left over from millions of years of erosion.

Off in the distance -- rock formations

 

Big rock

We decided this should be called "Castle Rock"

Finally - the turn-off sign

After driving 6 hours, we finally saw the turn-off sign for the Four Corners  meaning we were only 10 miles or so from our campground near Mesa Verde.  Yay! We made it!

Tomorrow, Mesa Verde adventure. Ava will hike the Cliff Dwellers in Mesa Verde.

Happy Trails!

 

 

 

 

 

After leaving Ava at the North Rim around 8:00 AM Friday 6/10/11, Montana  (Crazy Lil’ White Dawg) and I drove up to the overlook to take some pictures.  We chatted for about 15 minutes with a really nice man named Tom  from Indiana after Montana tried to chase down a chipmunk over the over look.  Time to leave!

Where Montana jolted at overlook!

We drove back to the Rip-off  Campgrounds to write my blog, pack up and head  for the South Rim  but something was really bothering Montana after we’d left  Ava.

Montana is a very happy, puppy-like dog but, after leaving Ava, she wouldn’t eat  or drink or play. At the pop-up, she kept going to Ava’s bed which she’s never  done before.

Also, something “whispered” to me to take my time doing what I needed  to do  and to not rush my process to leave so I didn’t. Woman’s intuition? Whatever it  is, I’ve learned to “listen” to “it”.

As I finished taking down the pop-up around noon-thirty, I noticed that a nut  was missing off a relatively important bolt. I asked a man walking by me  (assuming he worked  at the campground) if he had access to any bolts that  might fit the screw. He  reached in his pocket and pulled out a nut saying he’d  found it yesterday in the  gravel drive. IT FIT! It was MY bolt. Wow. How cool was that?

All morning, I prayed Ava would be encircled by Guardian Angels to protect and  guide her on her journey and that we would have no problems in finding each  other at her journey’s end.

I left the campgrounds for the South Rim and was 30 minutes down the road  when my phone rang. A man explained I didn’t know him but that he’d met  Ava  on the trail and that she was having problems with her knee; she was having to  turn back. She’d now have to climb back up with a bad knee.

As always, I called Mom for prayer reinforcements.

It took me until about 2:30 to get back to the North Rim trailhead where cell  service doesn’t exist. Thinking I’d hear more, I drove a mile or so up to the  overlook armed with the knowledge from the caller that she probably wouldn’t  be at the trailhead until 3:00 or 4:00. So, I figured I’d stay within cell service,  pop-up the camper and get water, food and meds until 3’ish.

As I drove to the overlook, I noticed a hiker dude walking in my direction who  stuck out his thumb. I slammed on my brakes. He might have seen Ava. He tells  me that he’s  done this  rim-to-rim hike for nine years and has never had anyone  pick him up  to take  him that last mile until I did. Good feeling.

I found a shady spot at the overlook area to pull over. I put Montana on her “chain gang” (connect her to a tree with a 20-foot cable) so I could open the pop-up. Right  as I started the manual crank, the cable broke. I looked at it in full  “stunned” silence before kicking into trying to figure out how to keep the now  dangling cable from getting caught in tire hubs. Glad I had some pigtail  bands. I rigged the cable up and prayed for more Guardian Angels. Crazies.

At 3:00, I drove to the trailhead and started asking every hiker coming up the trail if they’d seen my daughter. As there were many foreigners, I got looks of “huh?” but very nice ones, I might add. No one had seen her.

Finally a Forest Ranger pulled up and parked. Good sign. I asked him if he’d  heard anything about my daughter; he answered he was there to pick up Sandy,  a nurse volunteer who’d been recruited to assess Ava’s condition and escorted  her back up.  They should be arriving fairly soon.

Montana and I posted ourselves at the rock stairs at the trailhead so Ava could  see us as she hiked the last few feet. Suddenly, Montana started twitching her  nose in recognition of a familiar smell. I asked her, “Is it Ava?” and she started  wagging her tail like crazy. Montana knew Ava was on her way and so did I.

Sandy appeared at the trailhead alone (heart dropped) and immediately headed  over to talk with the Ranger. It took me 1 second to cross 20 feet to their side.  Sandy assured me Ava was okay and about 100 yards down the trail. She  dropped her gear, called over her shoulder as she trotted back down the trail that  Ava would need to know I was waiting for her. Apparently, Ava worried the  whole time coming back that I was already at the South Rim.

Not only had Ava suffered a knee injury but she’d started having heat exhaustion  as well. She’d finished about 1-1/2 gallons of water and had eaten but knew the  signs as she’s suffered from it since she was a young teen. Ava hadn’t “heard”  the Guardian Angels had already been working hard all  morning  long for  struggling to keep her wits about her during the climb back.

The next person I see was Tom from Indiana, the man I’d met earlier in the  morning at the overlook. He had carried Ava’s backpack up the trail! I don’t  think he realized until that moment he was helping my daughter! You help a  stranger and you just don’t  know how paying it forward will come back to you  and yours. Guardian  Angels.

Donna and Gary Brown came up and hugged me telling me their part in Ava’s  journey back up the canyon. They stayed by her side all the way back. Gary told  me they’d already saved a woman from drowning at the beginning of their  trip. What lovely Guardian Angels they are.

It was during those terrible, pregnant minutes waiting for Ava’s arrival to the top  that I told the Ranger about the cable breaking on my pop-up. After all, he had  to live around the area and know of a shade-tree mechanic who could hook up a  cable. He directed me to go try the Chevron station next to Jacob Lake Inn (www.jacoblake.com 928-643-7232).

After the hugs and tears, Ava and I headed straight for the Chevron. We agreed  we should check out the Inn for a place for the night. Ava went to do that while I  talked with someone at the Chevron where I’d filled-up earlier that day.

I’d already met Daniel at the Chevron. He’d offered to fill up my truck twice  before as a service. Gratis. I sure momentarily confused by the gesture but  pleased to see an old tradition.

I was delighted when I saw Daniel and his co-w0rker, Steven, ready and  willing to help in any way they needed to do just because they’re that kinda’  peeps. Guardian Angels.

Although they’re young and didn’t know what to do in this circumstance, they  were delighted to follow my direction in the repair. It was during this arduous  but simple task that I explained how I was “mechanical” by nature and had  watched my brothers work on their cars as a little kid. But, I continued, it was  during my  divorce from Ava’s dad that I refurbished a 1963 Falcon Futura  convertible my mom said  looked like it needed a crusher instead of an overhaul.  I did body work with a sledge-hammer and a 2″x2″.

Daniel and Steven worked tirelessly and in strange contorted positions fixing the  cable. All three of us were greased up, filthy but happy when the pop-up worked.  Guardian Angles.

Ava had taken Montana to our cabin while all this was going on so she could  shower and rest. Feeling somewhat better, we decided to eat at the lunch  counter at the inn, where we met Brooke. She wanted to know all about Ava’s  adventure and treated us like royalty.

It was over our meal (try the “Grand Bull”) that we looked at pictures from her  hike and glowed in the company of “family”. We love this little place in the  crossroads of Americana. We just don’t like the campgrounds a quarter of a mile  away!

Funny thing is, Gary and Donna had checked that same facility out and  rejected  it. I meant to ask them where they ended up staying as all other camp  facilities  close-by were “dry” (meaning there are no utilities) and the ones  within the  park have been booked a year out.

Really. Who knows what they want to do a year from now or where they want to  do it?

Funny thing about Jacob Lake. There is no lake. Apparently, the man who  owned what I understand to be more of a pond-sized lake wanted to make it  bigger for fishing. When he dug out the hole, he hit limestone and the whole  “lake” flushed like a toilet! The water left is a puddle.

A BIG “THANK YOU” TO OUR GUARDIAN ANGELS!

Happy Trails!

So, my daughter, Ava, is with me camping and decided that she would hike down from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, stay at Phantom Ranch tonight and hike back up to the South Rim tomorrow.

Ava pondering walk & hiking sticks

 

Ava at North Rim Kaibab Trailhead sign ready to go!

 

A quick look back for luck as she goes on her own great adventure.

Montana and I walked with great pride at our girl’s fortitude and spirit of adventure as we sauntered back over to the North Rim overlook to take some morning pictures.

Along the path to North Rim overlook

 

at overlook

I was enjoying talking to Tom from Indiana not paying attention at all to Montana’s interest in a chipmunk (so Tom said) when she bolted toward the cliff! As you all will recall, I have serious vertigo and was doing really well to be standing 12 feet from the edge so, when Montana bolted, I was a hair away from turning loose of the leash and saying my last “goodbye” to my crazy lil’ white dawg.

Where Montana jolted at overlook!

Now, I’ve got to finish packing up and heading out to the South Rim for the  night. Will post later to let you all know about my adventures.

Happy Trails!

 

It was cool hiking some small trails yesterday but today was the BOMB! I just  LOVE driving through the park. As a rock hound, I’m in total hog heaven. The  rock formations are remarkable combinations from billions of years ago with that  many years of rain, wind, sand and Lord only knows what else attacking the  surface to expose what we see today. There are layers and layers of frozen-in-time  waves of red mud thrown in several different directions all frozen in a moment in  time.

Zion from West entrance before climb

Zion's form of barrier to keep you from going over ... what... that 10,000 foot cliff?

The red is the same red of Georgia clay used for making old bricks for 200 years  ago. Add to that red, splashes of very white, chalky looking rock and lots of dark  green pion pine needles and reddish-brown bark, light green cacti with yellow  or sometimes bright pink blooms. Sprinkled across this landscape are tiny  lavender bell-shaped wild flowers along the side of the road or bright red flowers  creeping out of the rock formations. We drove about 15 MPH and took over two  hours driving about 40 miles. Normally, I’d do that in 30 minutes! Tells it all,  don’t it!

Great caves carved out of the rock from billions of years of nature's tantrums

Cactus flowers along side of road

After driving up the mountain you reach the part where you go through the mile long tunnel. It’s so cool but the jerk kid in front of us threw out a cherry bomb in the tunnel and scared the crap outta’ us. Needless to say, when we exited said tunnel, I reported it complete with truck description and license tag number to the Forest Ranger holding the oncoming traffic as only one lane is open at a time. Saw the truck pulled over with a Ranger looking for the culprits. Like that!

mile long tunnel

Now we’re on our way back out of the park exiting to the east so that we can end up at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, hopefully, before too late so we can get a place to stay.

Can you find Ava?

This is where we stopped because we saw a waterfall, such as it is. The only one during the whole trip.

Waterfall desert style

This next picture was so amazing because of the rock formations but if you look closely at the very top of the white mountain, there are rocks stacked on top of each other.

Can you see the rocks stacked on top of the white mountain?

Here’s a better picture of the stacked rocks on top of that white mountain with my zoom.

Now can you see them?

So, after all this excitement, we realized that we needed to hustle up to get a place  to stay. As Ava wanted to hike down into the Canyon and stay at Phantom  Ranch tomorrow and hike back out the South Rim the following day, we needed  a place near the North Rim. We were hoping against hope that there would be  room in the park. No such luck. They book a year out.

We found a place 43 miles from the North Rim. It is officially called Kaibab  Campgrounds at Jacob Lake (or a similar name) which we now call Rip Off  Campground. We’re so mad for so many reasons but first the cool part.

We set up camp around 5:30 PM and drove immediately to the North Rim so Ava  could find out specific details about her hike for the next day. We were confident  that the only challenge after returning to camp was to not be excited in  anticipation of her adventure… that apple don’t fall far from the tree. I walked a  different path (vertigo, ya’ know) while she headed toward the Lodge and  inquired as to availability for dinner. They had just had a cancellation so we could get a table on the RIM eating fine food, drinking fine wine while watching the sunset go down over the North Rim. Ava looked at me and said seriously, “Ya’ know this is the only place you can see the sunset over the Grand Canyon.” I believed her. And it was.

Now back to the rip off campground. First of all they charge me with my little pop-up $37.00 plus tax which is the same as they do for huge 40 foot RV’s! No discounts. This has been a thorn in my side for the last three trips but now that these places are going up every year, it’s really ticking me off. The worst part? They have the NERVE to charge me $2.25 (in quarters only) to take a FIVE minute shower in a 2’x2′ shower stall! My little pop-up uses almost no electricity  and we certainly don’t have toilets or running water like the RV’s.

When I get home, I’m writing every congressman and woman about the  problems with the cost of camping. How can it cost as much as a Motel 6 for crying out loud! There, at least I get a warm bed and a shower for about the same price! There’s some gouging going on and I’m either upgrading my pop-up to include toilet, shower and big screen TV or selling it and going back to Motel 6 like I had to do in 2009.

What’s wrong with this state of the union when camping use to be affordable? I worked 45 years to live this dream of camping my way across this country. It’s been my dream, darn-it.

Up early to take Ava back to the North Rim to hike while I tear down camp and drive to some new unknown campground at the South Rim Friday! The challenge is that neither of our cell phone service providers have great service here but I don’t doubt that she’ll find me!

Happy trails.

We stayed up so late last night trying to get ready to leave town that we couldn’t  get up. What do you do? You embrace it. I figured we’d get to a campground early  enough anyway to see some of Zion and I was right (Thanks God). You just  have to get in before 4:00 and we barely made it with time change and driving  but we did and that’s all that counts.

Zion at dusk

Unfortunately, Zion isn’t all that pet friendly. There’s only one trail where dogs are allowed so I hiked that with Montana while  my daughter took the shuttle up to the stop for hiking Emerald Pool. She says it’s gorgeous. I hope to find out tomorrow while she dog sits Montana. Right now, all I want to do tomorrow is take the Shuttle all the way to the top and back just for kicks and giggles.

More Zion

Our facilities are expensive at Zion Canyon Campground RV Resort at  $35.00/night seeing as how it’s we’re renting is the dirt and a little power. They  charge the pop-up campers the same as the huge RV’s. That ain’t right. I don’t  even have water hook-up here. The internet connection is lousy. To top it all off,  the overhead lights in the pop-up decided not to work tonight. The good news is  the Virgin River is roaring outside and will lull us to sleep.

Now this is what I call a room with a view!

The other good news is that there is an amazing view outside our pop-up. Wow.  I can’t wait to drive over the mountain to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon  tomorrow.

Zion at dusk

So, more installments tomorrow from the North Rim. I’m so excited. I’ve never  been there before and it’s all back scenic roads getting there. Oh boy!

Happy trails!