Archives for posts with tag: Arizona

Got a little stir crazy from sitting too long trying to ignore screaming of electric tools from the guy next to me build the next Taj Mahal or totally refurbish his travel trailer so I hit the road. Why oh why are they allowing this? Guess I’ll have to ask but, in the meantime, I took the road less travelled to Zion, Kanab and Jacob’s Lake to revisit some memories.

Plus, I’d had an unrelenting desire to revisit a bit of my last camping trip with Ava from  June, 2011 this past weekend. We’d left Vegas and headed straight for Zion where she spent a couple of days hiking some marvelous trails while Montana and I explored the few paths which allow pets. Our next stop was the North Rim of the Grand Canyon where Ava was determined to hike down the North Rim, spend the night at Phantom Ranch and hike back up the next day to the South Rim. Let’s just say it was one of our most eventful camping experiences. We spent that night in a cabin at Jacob’s Lake taking a much needed respite. Ava had hiked most of the way down the North Rim when her knees failed. They were going to helicopter her out of the canyon but she had other plans. She hiked back out escorted by Rangers.

I had just closed up the popup to head toward the South Rim when a stranger called me first saying Ava was fine and wanted him to tell me to stay at the North Rim. She was coming back up because of knee issues. Montana and I paced frantically for hours at the top of the trail asking anyone coming toward us if they’d seen her. Too scary to say what I was thinking that whole time but when I saw her, there wasn’t a happier mother around! We got the last available cabin at Jacob’s Lake and regrouped.

I felt compelled to go back. I think it was because we’d left part of us there and I needed to put it back into my soul before I could write again.

So, it was only natural for me to focus on rocks first. They help me get outta my own head. Plus, they’re strong but vulnerable and, I sure love me some rocks and how the Mothers create and scar them!

The force of the Mothers (Nature and Earth) are never more apparent than at Zion.  These mountains show signs of Mother Nature’s etchings on their surfaces as the winds carve their way through the sandstone mountains. She drops water into their crevices, then quickly freezes it over and over again to weaken that link to its parent in order to loosen huge boulders enough to cause them to crash below creating thunder throughout the canyon and land atop of the eroded soil at her feet.

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Approaching Zion from Hurricane

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Etchings from the Mother

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Amphitheater created by Mother’s determination to break free pieces of the mountain.

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Erosion at the base waiting for more from above

Mother Nature blows her seeds in the wind and sprinkles them like a condiment  into those same crevices. Some germinate and grip for the rest of their lives to the precipices of the rock fighting forever the changing wind, rain, snow, freezing and warming temperatures the Mother sends their way. The larger they grow, the larger the crevice becomes and encourages the huge boulder upon which they cling, along with the Mother’s help, to join the other large boulders below.

The light changes here as rapidly as the temperature and weather. I take a picture one minute and in the next, different hues appear. It’s this marvelous discovery by those artists of yesteryear who fell in love with that very dynamic…the effects sunlight which…Vermeer and Impressionists captured in their paintings and focused on by painting the same scene over and over again in varying light (i.e, Monet’s many paintings of Notre Dame). At some point, the word spread far and wide that Carmel, California held some magic light there. I believe that “magic” light is in the desert here in Utah.

See what you think about my drive to and from Jacob’s Lake.

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Trying to capture the Vermillion Cliffs and the White ones too

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Light changes rapidly especially on cloudy days like yesterday

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These three were literally taken only minutes minutes apart while sitting still.

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Money shot!

The other two parts of this adventure were to visit a place Ava and I had always wanted to visit but never found the time to do so…Best Friends Sanctuary (a non-profit) facility in Kanab, Utah of National Geographic’s “Dogtown” TV show notoriety (https://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/visit-our-utah-sanctuary/places-stay).

For those of you who knew Ava, she rescued cats…and dogs…but mostly cats. Ava rescued   a paraplegic cat, Murmur, from a Vet who was moving and who would no longer keep. Ava took Murmur and lovingly nurtured her until the little animal passed away. Ava  would have loved to have lived and worked at this place (if they could have incorporated opera), so I it was only fitting for me to take their tour while I was in the neighborhood and donate to their wonderful cause in her memory.

Yup. It was hard but it was what Ava wanted me to do yesterday so I did it.

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Best Friends Welcome Center

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Where “Dogtown” was filmed for National Geographic (https://bestfriends.org/sanctuary/explore-sanctuary/dogtown/series)

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New Veterinarian facilities

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Cat  World HQ

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One of many outdoor fun for their Sanctuary Cats looking for their fur-ever homes! 

Then, just for me, I had to go back to Rocking V Cafe (http://www.rockingvcafe.com)  for one of their amazing pork chops. I’d had one of their pork chops this past summer and couldn’t stop thinking about it…so I did what a girl had to do…go back and order it again!

Pork chop

YEAH, BABY! Pork chop at Rocking V Cafe! Way to end the day!

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Rocking V Cafe, Kanab, Utah

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Cozy Inside with nice art for sale on the walls!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

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Traveling from Las Vegas on the end of my healing journey, crossing Arizona and New Mexico will always and forever remind me of Ava. In 2002, Ava and I went on our spiritual ancestral past in the Navajo Nation. We started at Window Rock and climbed Canyon de Chelly, hiked around the Four Corners and Monument Valley, visited the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff (to visit U of A), Sedona and the Petrified Forest in seven days.

In those days, traveling in the Navajo Nation was all back roads. We connected on a new level and she decided to not study at University of Arizona in Flagstaff and continue her opera training at Shorter College in Rome, Georgia (the Julliard of the south).

Staying in Flagstaff last night brought on a flood of memories. I digress here to share my healing journey…because this was/is the purpose of this 2016 Great Adventure. Flagstaff triggered memories of my son-of-another-mother, Mark M. was in school at U of A at the time when Ava and I were there to see if it was a good fit for her. However, it was my Georgia real estate expertise which brought him into my fold. I was the last person in the US to see him alive when he came to see me at the Southern Comfort Cabin in the summer of 2014. He came to tell me he was going to take his life. We talked thirteen hours straight until the wee hours. He said he felt better but I knew it was only a temporary fix because I could see his determination. My heart still breaks over his decision.

Ava decided to go to Shorter College (a Baptist college) which definitely didn’t fit Ava but it was her love of her early mentor, Madame Fiori, who was ninety when she started training eighteen year old Ava’s voice. Madame left everything to Shorter College when she died. It was for that reason Ava decided to go to that alien planet to study. It wasn’t until Ava went to UNLV (U of N, LV) when she found her kindred mentors.

Even though I avoided Flagstaff areas Ava and I had been in 2002, it was when I came across the brown national park sign announcing the Petrified Forest National Park that caused me to regress. I drove blindly into the park hoping to revisit those days to fell my girl and remembering how much fun we had on that trip. It worked.

I recommend taking your time immersing yourself in this beautiful, peaceful, magical geologic anomaly.

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Blue Mesa

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Painted rock

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Petrified Jasper forest

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It was too hot to actually get out of the car and look at Newspaper Rock. Look it up. So very historic and way cool.

 

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The many times I’ve driven the I-40 east and west, I never stopped in Gallup to check out a place my dear friend, Fred (owner of Prairie Trails in Sautee, GA) had traveled for years to buy items for his Native American centered store. The trip is just too hard for him any more and I promised this time to go to Richardson Trading Post in Gallup.

I guess I used up all my camera battery life on the Petrified Forest because it died as I was snapping photos. I couldn’t get a pic of the front of the shop nor the vast array of items for sale…both old and new. Here’s a taste. Beware, however, if you go onto what appears to be their “official” site, McAfee puts up an alert so don’t click on it as I have a feeling they still work with an abacus!

There was so much to take in but the neatest part for me was the stuffed white buffalo! I so would have bought that!

 

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HAPPY TAILS!

As I don’t drive over large dams or bridges, I go around Hoover Dam when I leave Vegas and plan to head east on I-40. Instead, I go South on Hwy 95 and cut across to Kingsland, AZ via Hwy. 153 to pick up either Route 66 or the 40. Today, I chose the historic route…Route 66.

The last time I was on this section of Route 66 (there’s a turn off for the Historic Route 66 Loop west near Kingsland), I was with my daughter, Ava, on s spiritual quest in 2001 or 2002 on the tail end of our trip and headed for the petrified forest. I should have remembered all the photo ops on it. It really should be savored and walked around in to enjoy the ambience of the diners and the early Americana history not to mention the magnificent landscape and geologic sights.

Here are a few that turned out good enough to publish. As the towns are few and far between, I’m posting them all together.

However, one must go through some amazing geologic formations in southwest Nevada along Hwy. 95 etc. before Arizona.

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Enjoy Route 66!

Oops! It looks like some of my best pictures of the historic buildings have disappeared. The scenic landscapes  below are between the historic towns which have survived.

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Dust Devil! Finally caught one!

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If you look closely, you’ll see a snow capped mountain range. Jenni and I kept seeing one similar to this in northern California and I thought, for a moment, this was the same one I called Kilimanjaro!

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We stayed in Tuba City, AZ last night in the Navajo Reservation. Ava and I had stayed there ten years ago on our spiritual quest and boy, has it ever changed since then! Now there’s commerce and restaurants! Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing between it and the turn off for Four Corners but amazing scenery. Enjoy!

Road to Four Corners

Road from Tuba City to Four Corners has nothing but great scenery!

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near Monument Valley

Near Monument Valley on Hwy 160 East

Monument Valley

This is exactly what Monument Valley looks like! So cool seeing these remaining vestiges of another time.

My BFF, Pat, at Four Corners

My BFF, Pat standing on the Four Corners.

Four Corners

 

THE Four Corners

 

Montana's saying, "Can you BELIEVE this sign? What's wrong with these people? Don't they know who I am?" LOL

Montana was so upset over this sign. She couldn’t believe they would keep her from this most historic site. She’s been allowed everywhere else!

Do you see Montana is breaking her pose? WHY? Because Aunt Patty is walking toward her. It's like Montana is saying, "I forgot Aunt Pat is here too?"

Montana losing her pose because Aunt Patty is walking toward her. It’s like Montana was saying, “Hey, Grandma! I forgot Aunt Patty is here!”

Dusk at the Four Corners

Dusk at the Four Corners

Santa Fe tomorrow!

Happy Trails!

Ava and I took a spiritual journey in 2002 across the Navajo Reservation. It was a little over two years after we’d found Carl and we needed this adventure. We drove into Window Rock, explored Canyon De Chelly, Four Corners, Monument Valley, South Rim of the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Sedona, Petrified Forest and more in five days. It was an amazing adventure that kicked her back into play and gave her what she needed to focus on school again.

Well, it’s been ten years and my best friend, Pat, and I explored the South Rim today. I felt Ava with me all day long…as if she was saying, “Oh, remember this Mom?” Made me sweet sad. We’re even staying at the Quality Inn in Tuba City where we stopped on our way west to the Grand Canyon. This time, Pat and I are heading east…east toward Georgia. But, first we have to revisit southwest Colorado where Ava and I drooled the whole time we drove those back roads just one year ago.

So, for today, here’s our journey. A magnificent time-lapse of life.

Grand Canyon - South Rim

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Sun dappled Canyon

Postcard gorgeous!

Where's Montana? At the Grand Canyon! She was a hit again! People coming up wanting their pictures taken with her!

Sunset over the Canyon

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

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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!