High in Colorado

The final destination of our Arizona trip was Colorado Springs, where we were going to meet up with family. That was what gave us the thought to go to Sedona and check it off our bucket list, you know, as long as we were in the area. By “in the area,” I mean some place out west.

We traveled via rental car from Sedona to Colorado, thereby allowing us to check off another national park from our national park list. We like lists. Be they bucket, national park, grocery, to-do, birthday, or Christmas – we are very pro list.

We were given a welcome to Colorado which was worthy of any westward-ho band of travelers. I loved their sign and the view in the distance. I wish I could tell you the route we took because it seemed to be off the beaten path, but alas I have no idea where we were. Frankly, I didn’t care. I left all that to my trusty engineer who loves maps almost as much as he loves me.

I wonder if people in Colorado notice its beauty on a daily basis. I hope they don’t take it for granted like I sometimes do the palm trees and beaches where I live. Maybe that’s why it’s extra special for those of us from flat Florida. Any hill is a novelty in Orlando, so those Rocky Mountains almost put me on my face. Gawking at the scenery was a huge part of the trip.

The reason for our specific route was so we could stop at Great Sand Dunes National Park. It contains the tallest dunes in North America. From a distance we could see the dunes lined up along the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. As we drove closer, we could see the clear demarcation of mountainside, dunes, and water.

Dunes in the distance

You have to cross Medano Creek to get to the dunes.

The temperature was still much lower than normal, and the wind was making it feel even cooler. These things combined made the decision to look at instead of hike through the dunes an easy one. We watched children floating along Medano Creek as others waded through it to get (to the other side) to the Dunes. We grabbed our sandwiches and sat at a picnic table shivering and enjoying the view. It was a quick visit, but it counts!

We spent Memorial Day weekend in Colorado Springs, and may I say I highly recommend it. Plus, the weather finally caught up with the calendar and I began to thaw out. The time spent with family and friends there was memorable. The views of the mountains would have been enough for me, but when you add in golf for the guys and spa time for the ladies – it doesn’t get much better than that. Unless you get daring and stretch yourself out of your comfort zone.

Most of our group decided to go zip-lining at Seven Falls, which I believe is now owned by the Broadmoor. Bob and I had hiked around Seven Falls during a past trip with our son and his family, before this zip-line existed. I had zip-lined before, and I thought it might be fun to do it again, but what I did before barely prepared me for this course. This course includes 5 zip-lines, 2 rope bridges (over canyons, way over canyons), and a 180-foot assisted rappel, which felt more like being lowered, but that was freaky enough for me.

Bob and I in our gear

The adventure began with a van trip up a mountain where they pulled off the side of the road and dropped us off. We hiked down to our practice area where we were outfitted with 15 pounds of gear and given a ten-minute instruction followed by a 10-second practice zip-line. Then we climbed the ladder to our first zip-line.

The first three were fun and easy, but they simply prepared you for what was ahead, which was two terrifying-looking rope bridges and two more zip-lines across the canyon above the tree line. These two zips are so far from start to finish that you cannot really see where you are going, but we followed our trusty guides (one in front and one behind).

New zip line adventure awaits at Seven Falls in Colorado Springs

photo credit: gazette.com

At the bridges there is a point of no return. We lost three of our group at that point (not the tragic type of loss). They were happy to have done the three zip-lines and happy to take pictures from below so they turned back.

Surprisingly, I was not one of the three. I maneuvered across the rope bridges even stopping to look down at the canyon and do some bird watching from the bird’s point of view. I cannot say enough good things about our guides. They really put me at ease. We were told to maintain three points of contact across the bridges at all times. No problem!

After the rope bridges came the two main zip-lines. The guide would take one of the lines which was attached to us, remove it from where it was hooked on the center post of the platform (which has no railings, by the way), and attach it to the zip-line. She repeats the process with the second line so we are always secure. The first guide soars across the canyon and waits as one-by-one we leave the security of our elevated platform to soar across the canyon. The second guide follows the last person.

This takes a bit of time as they recheck all of our equipment and send the group of 6 or 7 of us across individually. When I was waiting on the platform, I was pretty calm but I did become best friends with that center post to which I was attached.

The final zip-line is a quarter of a mile long. It takes about 45 second to cross it and it was exhilarating! I loved it.

The most awkward part was the rappel. You had to kind of step and lean out off of the platform before you (slowly) plunged to the ground. It wasn’t bad once I figured it out. But it sure felt strange.

Fins Course

The rappel down. Photo credit: gazette.com

I’ve included about 17 seconds of the 45 second glide that was the last zip-line. That tiny spot with the greenish/blue shirt is me. By the way, you’re traveling about 45 mph on this course. Did I mention it was awesome? It was!

 

Thanks for coming along on my adventure!

The Sun Finally Sets on Sedona

Our last hike was through Red Rock State Park. We joined a two-hour guided tour being given by a park ranger who took a little too much time with the flora when I was more interested in the fauna. I do enjoy some good flora, but it was a bit much for me.

The parks that we have visited in the Southwest are not so chocked full of animals like in the Northwest. While mule deer, javelina, coyotes, and bobcats are normal visitors, we saw none of the above. We saw a stray jackrabbit, and a few people at the end of our group saw a rattlesnake – shudder! That was it except for birds.

The park has a songbird feeder area at the rear of the Visitor Center. This was just below where our tour began. I was so distracted with the birds that I’m not sure what I was supposed to learn at the beginning of the tour, but I knew exactly what I was going to do at the tour’s end.

After hiking through the park, we went to the car, placed our Diet Cokes into can koozies, grabbed a bag of pretzels, and headed to the bird area. We joined another couple with whom we had an immediate rapport. They, too, had their Diet Cokes in can koozies and were enjoying the birds. It was like we were twin couples separated at birth, only to be reunited by the use of can koozies and a love of bird watching.

Here are a few of my many shots of the birds:

Female Northern Cardinal

Hummingbird – Arizona is a premium place to see hummingbirds. I can’t ID the different species.

Western Tanager

Hummingbird in flight

“Poser” Hummingbird

Unknown and it’s driving me crazy

Jim and Pat were from Colorado and we spent an hour with them talking about birds, where we live, and the churches we are a part of. It was like we’d known them forever, which was proven the next day when Bob and I were sitting on a bench in town enjoying the mountain views and they walked by. I yelled, “Jim and Pat!”

They said, “Bob and Bonnie,” and came over and we hugged and talked some more. She laughed and said a passer-by would think we were long, lost friends. This time we exchanged info and we look forward to meeting up with them again sometime. Note: The most amazing part of this story is that we remembered each other’s names.

Something about this sign seemed inconsistent to me

Our last day in Sedona was a designated rest/shop/golf driving range day. Part of that day was visiting the local bookstore. In Sedona, the shelves are what you would expect except for the extra-large section of books about crystals, vortex info, psychics, well-being, metaphysics, and new-age material.

We found these types of things in many shops around town, and while we were not interested in them personally, a lot of people flock to Sedona for just those reasons. Plus, it’s beautiful there, so there truly is something for everyone.

There was one man we met who really stood out. He worked at our resort. After talking to him for a while, I asked him, “Out of all the people you talk to, what percentage would you say tell you that you look like Ted Danson?”

“Almost 100 percent,” he replied.

What do you think?

 

Ted Dansen doppelganger

In closing, I need to tell you something we learned about the sunsets in Sedona. Between the rain, clouds, and our naiveté about the area, it took us a few days to realize that we were looking in the wrong direction when trying to watch the sun go down. We would find a nice area with unobstructed view and, of course, look westward. That’s a rookie mistake in Sedona. You look east toward the mountains. When the sun reflects off the smooth rocks, that’s when you get the show. It was spectacular.

Sedona Sunset Looking Westward

 

Glistening Sunset Looking toward the East

They both are lovely, but the way the sun bounces off of the rocks was quite magical. What do you think?

And that’s a wrap of Sedona. Hope you enjoyed it and hope you get to go there. A lot of folks have told me it’s on their bucket list. If you go, be sure to look for our friend, Derek, I mean Ted Danson.

Even More Sedona!

Our next day’s destination was Fay Canyon. It is rated an easy trail and was just what we needed as we made the adjustment from Orlando’s sea-level to Sedona’s 4350-foot elevation. Throw in jet lag and a head cold, and we chose well for our second hike.

Fay Canyon is 2.2 miles round trip (out and back) and only has an elevation gain of 150 feet – perfect. It was scenic and quiet. One could take the challenge of scrambling up to an arch, but we literally took the easy route. Frankly, I felt great success in getting out of bed, what with the vortex having its opposite effect on me!

Along the Fay Canyon Trail

We talked with several hikers, including a family who did the scramble up to the arch, but my favorite people were Jazz and Janelle.

We met Janelle quite a bit before we met her husband, Jazz. We almost passed her as we were hiking back from the end of the canyon when she said, “If you see my husband, tell him I miss him.”

She tried to just keep walking past us, but I had to know more – how would we know him and what was his name. She assured us we’d know him.

Several minutes later, a man walking the cutest puppy came into our view. I said, “Jazz?”

He gave that startled, confused look that told me I’d found my guy.

“Your wife says she misses you.”

He chuckled as we pet his dog, and then another person went by and told him, “Your wife says she loves you.”

I can only imagine how many people delivered messages to Jazz, but in his defense, when you’re walking a fuzzy little puppy, people don’t let you make too much progress on your hike.

The end of the trail, or at least the end of the trails you don’t have to blaze yourself.

We felt pretty good after our easy hike and thought we had one more in us. Spoiler alert: We were wrong.

We started the hike to near-by Doe Mountain. It was a mere six-tenths of a mile one way, but it was rated moderate. Beautiful 360-degree views of Sedona’s red rocks were promised for those who made it to the top. I will have to assume that was true, because by the time we had hiked straight up (or maybe very steeply up) for 45 minutes, I knew in my heart that I would never be able to verify that fact. When I say I knew in my heart, I mean it! I will tell you that the view from halfway up was stunning enough for me. We enjoyed sitting along the trail and taking it in while catching our breath and hydrating.

The breath-taking view from Doe Mountain

 

On the way back to our resort, we passed this McDonald’s. Sedona is located in what is called the Verde Valley. Verde means green, and Sedona is very proud of its green which complements its red rocks and amazing blue sky. Even though we experienced a lot of clouds, rain, and even some hail and snow, I can say that the glimpses of blue sky that we caught were amazing. All of the colors are magnificent, but I’m not sure what McDonald’s was thinking when it tried to blend in with the green. I definitely think they should stick with golden arches. That shade of green made me suspicious that something was amiss with their meat. But, that’s just me. I got a cheeseburger there anyway, but of course that was only to check my theory!

Tune in tomorrow for just a little more on Sedona. Thanks for reading!

More Sedona!

The uniqueness of Sedona is not limited to its landscapes. Yes, there are crazy red rocks everywhere and breathtaking sunsets, but the people that you meet when you’re hiking down the street, or the trail, also add to the fun.

First thing Bob and I did was the Discover Sedona tour (an overview done via mini-bus), our tour guide told us about vortexes. He also showed us highlights of the town that we could return to and filled us in on interesting Sedona facts. For instance, there were many spaghetti westerns filmed there, including Angel and the Badman with John Wayne (1947) and Broken Arrow with Jimmy Stewart (1950). More recently, The Karate Kid (1984) was filmed in Sedona.

His emphasis on vortexes (or vortices, if you love grammar) struck me as most unusual. If you’re asking yourself what is a vortex, join my club. It was explained to us that a vortex is a swirling center of energy. Many people come to Sedona to experience the heightened energy and well-being emitted from them. Our guide told us that sometimes the energy in Sedona gets too much for him, and he has to leave town for a few days to escape it. My first thought was, this is the place I have been searching for all my life.

I’ve never considered myself a high-energy person – quite the opposite. My low energy doesn’t usually inhibit me from doing what I need to do, but I have to resist the temptation to give in to it. So, Bob and I sought out a vortex where I could absorb all that energy. I wondered if there were vortex storage containers. Wouldn’t that be a great souvenir!

Our first encounter with a vortex was a little nebulous. We hiked out to an area in Crescent Moon Ranch, part of Coconino National Forest. We were armed with a map to the vortex, which was at one of many viewing areas of Cathedral Rock. (If you’re a regular reader, you will rightly assume that Bob, my map-reading engineer, directed us.) Still, even for Bob, the area was vaguely marked. The map didn’t exactly use the never-failing X-marks-the-spot.

Along the way, we found a lot of cairns, which are stacks of stones. Traditionally they were used as memorials, but now everybody is getting in on the action. If you want to mark something significant with a cairn, something that will tell a story, you may want to rethink it. They are akin to the locks over the Paris bridges, except I think they’re cooler looking.

Here a cairn; there a cairn; everywhere a cairn, cairn.

There must have been some people close to us, because we saw their trusty guard dog watching over their belongings.

We came to an area of slick rock (smooth, wind or water polished rock). We knew this was the place. I stood still gazing at stunning Cathedral Rock and waiting for an influx of energy while Bob re-checked our bearings. We had arrived.

Cathedral Rock

Not wanting to miss whatever was in store for me, I tarried. There weren’t a lot of people there, so we were on our own. Finally, Bob told me to summon my inner vortex and experience the energy.

Trying to encounter the correct twirl to join in the vortex energy fun

I felt nothing but silly as a hiker passed by, and then I felt the calm quiet that always fills me while in nature. Just being in the forest and taking in all the beauty that God created was enough for me. The rocks, the streams, the trees, the quiet. It doesn’t get much better than that. The only thing that was missing was the energy.

I didn’t care. When my doctor gives me a B-12 shot, which is supposed to give energy, I typically get very tired for a couple of days. Thinking about this, I realized that the energy of the vortex must have been quite strong, because I don’t remember when I have been as tired as I was while in Sedona. Yes, I am the anti-energizer. I’m okay with that.

Even More Sedona coming tomorrow!

 

Sedona!

View of Cathedral Rock

We arrived in Sedona expecting a cooler-than-normal time here. That is, cooler than Sedona’s normal, which of course would be cooler than my Florida normal this time of year and cooler than Sedona’s summertime normal, but it was supposed to be at least on the warm side. To sum things up, this Florida girl has been freezing.

It has been a surprise to me to look at the beautiful red rocks and experience the crisp air and long for humidity and heat. Perhaps the problem is that my Florida winter clothes have not cut it here, but even the locals are put out over the cold. I have resolved to move past it.

Therefore, I have spent more time in the Coffee Pot than I might have expected. It is adorable and packed with western charm. Behind it is the Coffee Pot mountain formation for which it is named. The Coffee Pot has been around since the 1950s and is going strong. Their coffee, though, is just right. Goldilocks would approve. 

The building was formerly owned by Jane Russell, which is part of its claim to fame. It’s popular with locals and tourists alike. I tripped down a ramp and ended up chatting with a lady named Lilliamm, who made sure I was okay (I was). She has been going to breakfast there for 30 years. Impressive. Another claim to fame for the Coffee Pot is their 101 omelets. I figured by now Lilliamm would have tried them all, but she doesn’t even like omelets. I had an immediate connection with her. The food is amazing and the staff is friendly. It’s right on 89A. We could have walked there from our resort, but like I said, it’s been too cold for me to ruin breakfast by taking an early morning walk in the cold. 

Do you see the coffee pot?

I encountered some great faces in their gift shop. I had to share them with you. They’re part of the charm of the place. What do you think? Have a favorite?

Sedona is very unique and has a different feel to it than any place I have visited in the US. I’ll share more of that soon. Thanks for traveling with me.

Don’t Make Me Put My Fingers in Your Mouth

It’s been quite a week. I’ve been spit upon, pinched, and had my hair pulled repeatedly. Sometimes I’ve even been subjected to screaming and awakened in the middle of the night. It’s been wonderful.

As much fun as it’s been, I still felt the need to respond to these outbursts, so I would stick my fingers in his mouth or zerbert his neck. When things really ramped up, I resorted to making myself disappear, only to reappear seconds later with an emphatic peek-a-boo. This would bring a stilled, confused silence followed by bouts of laughter.

I guess you’ve figured out that I have been on grandmother duty. I spent a week with my 4-year-old and 6-month-old grandsons (and their parents). I confess, I have kissed that sweet baby’s face when it was covered with so much drool that we both needed to be wiped down afterward.

Sweet, Soggy Boy – Can you see the drool in his neck folds? He’s a slippery one sometimes.

I have been thinking about all the things I do to my grandbabies that I would never do to another person in the world. For instance, I would never:

  1. Put my fingers in your mouth. I don’t care how bad your gums hurt; you cannot gnaw on my knuckles.
  2. Give you a kiss if your face is covered with drool.
  3. Play This Little Piggy with your toes.
  4. Let you stand on my knees.
  5. Not smack you if you pulled my hair.
  6. Put up with you spitting food at me.
  7. Taste your food to see if it’s too hot for you.
  8. Hold you over my head and say what a big person you are.
  9. Read you the same story over and over again.
  10. Burp you.

For my grandkids, there are no holds barred – at least when they’re babies. Love covers a multitude of drool.

Invasion of Midges

When from the next room I heard a television reporter talking about the invasion of Midges in the Sanford, Florida, waterfront area, my first thought was – what took them so long.

Poor Midge, Barbie’s not-so-glamorous best friend, has been in Barbie’s shadow forever. To make things worse for her, she has mostly been out of production since the late 1960s. They just pull her out for anniversary editions or whenever Barbie needs a side-kick. It was just a matter of time before all those jilted Midges joined forces and attacked. I’m sure they hold a lot of angst. In my mind I pictured droves of the dolls, some headless, some naked, coming out of the water and attaching themselves to whatever they could find. I’m sure they were driven to it.

 

 

Image result for free images of midge dolls

Midge’s hair never achieved symmetry and her bangs were always too short. (Photo Credit: Pinterest)

 

Image result for free images of midge dolls

I believe this looks like a mug shot. Notice once again how Midge’s hair just wouldn’t do what Barbie’s does, i.e. achieve perfection. (Photo Credit: RubyLane)

 

Image result for free images of 1960s barbie dolls

Barbie from around the same era. Even though her hair is pulled back and she’s clearly going swimming, she looks perfectly coiffed. (Photo Credit: Mattel)

 

As I moved to view the television, I learned that these Midges are not the Midges besieging Sanford. The Sanford Midges are often known as Blind Mosquitoes and are not manufactured by Mattel. They are also not as easy to get rid of as Mattel’s Midge. You just can’t discontinue the manufacture of these pests (again, I’m talking about the insect).

Photo Credit: Fox35 News

 

 

Photo Credit: Fox35 News

I want to encourage people in Sanford and everywhere else where Midges are a nuisance to hang in there. At least these guys don’t bite or carry disease. I guess they have that in common with Mattel’s version.

May the Fourth… You Know the Rest

It’s been 20 years since the release of (in my humble opinion) the worst of the Star Wars movies, Episode 1, The Phantom Menace. This is one of the few movies I can remember watching where I wanted to slap the kid who played the lead. Yes, little Anakin Skywalker was a whiny brat, which gives great insight into how he became Darth Vadar, who was not so whiny, but still a brat. But I digress. I love the Star Wars movies, especially Episodes 4-6, which were the first three of the series. I am not alone in my love of Star Wars. California has declared May 4th an official holiday.

I was going on 21-year-old when the first one was released. At that point in time, it was simply called Star Wars. I don’t recall ever thinking about a prequel, which was not really much of a thing back then. When The Empire Strikes Back came to the theaters in 1980 that created quite the buzz. It brought a new hope, if you will, for more Star Wars movies in the future (or from the past).

My kids don’t know life before Star Wars. They were totally into it. So much so that we had quite a collection of Star Wars paraphernalia. I recall after they were past playing with the various action figures and Lego sets, that I began the arduous task of cleaning out the bins full of forgotten toys.

I am sentimental over these things. I saved many items from my children’s childhood.  Many, many items. My pride and joy though is the collection of Star Wars Action figures that my son was willing to part with but I was not. I stashed them away. When Episode 3 was coming out, we still had two sons living at home and they had invited friends over to watch Episodes 1 and 2 before going to the movie.  If memory serves me, the guys would return to watch Episodes 4-6 thus making it the perfect Star Wars watching event.  I decided to pull out all the stops to decorate for the festivities.  I got out the action figures, vehicles, and micro-machines and arranged them all over the living room.  Our mantel was decorated with them as were the end tables and shelves.  I think Martha Stewart would have been proud of me.

I left the display out for a week or so because, let me tell you, you don’t go to all that trouble and quickly clear the shelves without an appropriate time to take in all the details.

The one detail that I did not consider was our small group from our church.  We met weekly at our house and, as God would have it, that week we were talking about idolatry.  Our group had a great time with the fact that I had practically made my house a shrine to Star Wars. (Even though I suspect they were quite jealous. Jealousy was not the topic of discussion that night.)

These memories are dear to me, especially because one of my sons did end up reclaiming all of those figures I stashed and wishing I had kept more. Those are the moments.

 

Peter Mayhew

Sadly, Peter Mayhew, the actor who portrayed Chewbacca, passed on April 30 at the age of 74. Photo Credit: Variety.com

 

May the Fourth be with you.

Now what? (Or, Could April Blogging bring May Jogging?)

This is it – the end of April and The Ultimate Blog Challenge. It has been fun and I’ve “met” some new and interesting people. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Remember, if you haven’t already, you can follow my blog and have it delivered right into your email. Look on the right column -it’s easy.

Now you may be asking – “What will May look like for you, Bonnie?”

Or you may be begging me to keep on posting daily as I have become habit-forming.

You’re too kind!

My plan is to resume posting once a week, but there is the possibility that I won’t be able to restrict myself to that. We’ll see. So, I’ll be around weekly, at least.

I also have other writing projects which are getting dusty inside of my computer. (Can that happen?)

My grandson liked it better than Wonder. I’m taking that as an unbiased critique.

Last year I published my first book. It is a middle-grade novel (aimed at 9-13 year-olds), but it has appeal to multiple generations. ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC is based on my father’s life as he grew up in Baltimore during The Great Depression. Eleven-year-old Artie and his brother have to adapt to the changes that The Depression brings to their family. Will he be able to pursue his dream of being a magician? The book could be considered a coming-of-age story – it has heart and humor. You can order it from Amazon. There’s a link on the right column.

I have begun working on my next novel, which is for adults (not to be confused with an adult novel). I have a good start on it, but I need to dedicate some time to working on it before the next influx of family comes in July.

I published my first book through Prevail Press. You can check out their website here. I tried the traditional publishing route, but could not secure either an agent or a publisher. It is very difficult to publish traditionally in today’s world, especially if you don’t already have a platform. I believed that my book was worth publishing, and Prevail Press provided exactly what I needed to get it done. If you are in need of a great publisher, Prevail Press might fill the bill for you as well.

For the last 15 years, I have benefitted greatly from being in a writers’ group. The leader of our group, Rob Swanson, began Prevail Press. He also writes a wonderful blog on writing. Check it out here.

This blogging challenge has made me realize that I have a greater capacity to write than I had given myself credit for. I’m hoping to use that as motivation to not only blog but finish my next book.

Below you’ll find a YouTube from an interview of me talking about ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC. You can tell I’m a little uncomfortable with that medium, but you can look at it to find out more about my book, which is available on Amazon.

So now that April is over, I think I need to get off my computer, go outside and walk a little, maybe even go for a jog. Just kidding. In case you don’t know it, that jogging comment was a joke. I only run if something is chasing me.

This is it! Post #30 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

Mission accomplished! Woo-Hoo!

 

Is this some kind of a hint?

I think I’ve gotten myself into some trouble from yesterday’s post about movie pairings. Somehow Bob took this as a sign that I planned to cook or at least assemble dinner for the two of us.

After having family stay with us for the last six weeks, I assured him that my intentions were nothing more than to provide ideas which someone, maybe even him, could put in place.

His next move was to leave me a hint courtesy of last Thursday’s Orlando Sentinel.

 

I know better than to assume the entire news story is above the fold.

 

I countered his move by stopping at the grocery store for balsamic vinegar.

“Well played,” he responded as he put the steaks on the grill. “Well played.”

 

This is Post #29 in the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.