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!

 

Jobs I’ve Had, The Early Years – The Loud, The Scary, and The Embarrassing

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photo courtesy of Wikipedia

My first real job did not involve singing in front of people. But it had some of the same features. I worked at a Roy Rogers Restaurant. If you’re not familiar with the chain, it’s like an Arby’s except western style. They had great roast beef sandwiches and their Double R Bar sandwich was amazing. At least I thought it was when I was 16.

I don’t know how they make their employees dress now, but in the 70s I was dressed as a cowgirl. Cute enough uniform, but when you add the other requirements of the chain, it became downright embarrassing.

I ran the register and when someone came up to order, I’d have to say, “Howdy partner, can I take your order please?”

If that wasn’t bad enough, when they’d leave, I was forced to say, “Happy trails.”

I always thought of Roy Rogers as a sweet, caring cowboy. I guess this practice revealed his dark side. He would never have put Trigger through such humiliation.

Friends would come into the restaurant just to hear me say those words. That’s how you know who your real friends are – they’ll go out of their way just to mock you! I didn’t mind too much. At least there was no horse manure to clean up. That job didn’t last long.

I discovered I could make more money babysitting, so that’s what I did until I graduated from high school. Then I worked at various secretarial jobs including one on Andrews Air Force Base. At some point in this story, Bob and I got married and a year later moved to Florida where I worked for the Social Security Administration as a data review technician until I had my first child.

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Teletype Machine – Photo credit: quora.com

That job was more like an editing job. I examined all the forms and made sure they were filled out correctly and then I would sit at a teletype machine and input the data. It was a loud room. As I typed, yellow punched tape would roll out of the machine. At the end of the day, I’d call the main office in Baltimore and send the tapes through. I quit just as computers were being brought in to replace those noisy machines. It’s a wonder I didn’t lose my hearing.

Image result for fuller brush company free images

Photo Credit: americacomesalive.com

After two children had come along, I decided it would be nice if I could work from home and make a little extra cash. Somehow or another, I heard about Fuller Brush and became a door-to-door salesperson. I had a territory and on Saturdays Bob would stay with the kids and I would go knocking on strangers’ doors.

This was a little off-putting at times, but I sold a lot of brooms, brushes, and degreaser. I discovered that at times an unanswered door could be better than an answered one, because those opened doors could present opportunities that didn’t involve selling Fuller brushes.

The opened door of a small house which looked like it could use a lot of TLC was one such opportunity. Two small children answered the door. They must have been 3 or 4 years old. They opened the door and just stood there. I asked if their mommy was home. They nodded. I could see into the house. It was dark for a Saturday morning. All the shades were drawn but I could make out a figure of a person way on the other side of the house. It was as if she was sitting at the end of a long, dark tunnel with just a hint of light behind her.

She barely made a sound but I could see her raise her hand from the chair and beckon me to come in. I froze for a minute. It was like something out of a movie. Finally, she uttered the words, “Can you help me?”

This was way before cell phone days so I was on my own to stay or go. I’m not sure why, except it must have been the peace of God coming over me, but I entered the house. I gingerly walked over to her and she whispered that she was having trouble breathing. She could barely move and wanted to go to the hospital but couldn’t afford an ambulance and her husband could not be reached at work.

I used her phone to call my husband. I filled him in, loaded her kids and her into the car and took off for my house for Bob to watch the kids.  At the hospital they were concerned that she may have had a heart attack, but she was given a diagnosis of pleurisy.

Through this difficult day, she and I discovered that we were both Christians. Long story short, we spent several hours together at the hospital. By the end of the day she and her kids were back in their home with her husband.

How about you? When you think back on the jobs you’ve had, have you had any unusual encounters with people? Feel free to share in the comments.

 

This is Post #27 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge to post every day in April.

A Pick-up Line in a Pick-up Line?

Pick-up Line

Bob and I were waiting at Subway (the sandwich shop not the mass transit system), trying to figure out what delectable delight we’d feast on for lunch. From across the not-so-crowded room, I saw him. His back was to me. Without hesitation, I walked right up to him, tapped him on the shoulder, and asked, “What are you doing tonight?”

Think me brazen if you will, but I had to know.

I stood there gazing up at this tall, young man, who was easily young enough to be my son, waiting for my answer. What was he going to do tonight?

He smiled and replied, “The same thing I do every night – try to take over the world.”

Well, that made my day. You see, I am a huge fan of Steven Spielberg. You may have heard of him. I understand he has produced numerous, notable films. But if you have not had the pleasure of viewing his animated TV series, Pinky and The Brain, while sitting next to your child or grandchild, you are clearly missing out on some serious fun.

I spent many hours watching with my kids. Brain is a genius mouse who is set on taking over the world, and Pinky is his insane sidekick (according to the catchy theme song and obvious to all who view). Every day Pinky asks Brain what they are going to do tonight. Every day Brain replies, “The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world.”

Just the thought of Pinky driving Brain crazy makes me smile. The thought of watching with my kids does, too. And, that day in Subway, I smiled as I engaged with a fellow fan and thought that if we all tried to take over the world with fun, love, and kindness, that would really be something amazing. Pinky would love it!

Maybe We Should Leave the Scientific Method to the Scientists

I witnessed two ladies applying the scientific method the other day. It was fascinating to observe their dedication to discovery and the acquisition of knowledge, even if it might come at their own peril.

It happened at Costco, which is where so much of my writing inspiration has its source. From the moment I drive onto the parking lot and circle, circle, circle to find a parking spot, there is magic and anticipation in the air. This time it began as I exited my car and observed the aforementioned ladies just as they had finished loading their car with the treasures that embody a Costco shopping trip.

Their car was similar to mine, a small-to-mid-size SUV, and it was obviously loaded with the same feature that mine has which allows you to kick your foot under the rear bumper (if you have the key fob on you) and release the hatch to open without the use of your hands. I might add that this is a perfect feature for the regular Costco shopper.

When I say “obviously,” I mean that one of the women was halfway inside of the back of the car while the other woman was kicking her foot under the bumper to see how the stop-and-reverse safety feature worked. I’m sure that this was an experiment and nothing malicious, because there was friendly banter being exchanged the entire time.

Down went the hatch, and then up went the hatch when it hit the woman leaning into the car. She repositioned herself and they tried it again – I guess to see if the intensity of the hatch hitting the woman would change or if in fact she would be squished by the gate, thereby adding the possibility of a law suit, which they would surely win and, therefore, be able to buy more stuff at Costco.

This was so surprising and entertaining to me that I didn’t think to pull out my phone and video them, which would clearly have helped with any impending lawsuits. I just stood there and stared and laughed.

I also engaged them in conversation because I have some knowledge of how it feels to have your hatch hit you when you accidentally put your foot too far under the bumper while loading the back of the car. A summary of the outcome of that event from my firsthand experience is: pain and embarrassment.

In my case, I was putting things in the back of the car and turned to get more from my cart when I was interrupted by the hatch smacking me on the head. I shared this with them with a certain amount of caution, because I was honestly afraid that they might try that one, too. They didn’t, but they did return to their original application of the scientific method. Their systematic observation and testing was truly inspiring. After I thought about it, though, I did wonder if they had already done the experiment where the hatch hits them in the head. That would explain a lot.

Say Cheese! (the story of an immigrant and fellow cheese shopper)

Almost every time I go to Costco I see someone I know.  That’s what happens when you live in one area for forty years.  But today, instead of seeing an old friend, I made a new one.

Part of the fun at Costco is listening to and watching people.  Every trip affords an opportunity for conversation.  Today was an exceptional day in that arena.

We met in the cheese aisle while lamenting the expiration dates on the fresh tubs of mozzarella.  Soon an alert employee asked if she could help us.  As she went to check on the supply, we started chatting – me in my plain old American English and him with a charming old world accent that I could not quite place.

Bulgaria.  He was from Bulgaria.  He was a long way from the food lines of the late 1990s that were the norm at that time in his home country.  In less than twenty years he had gone from those lines and barely being able to feed his family, to Costco lines of carts overflowing with bulk purchases and fresh produce.  And cheese.

He risked it all to come to America so he could feed his daughters.  In those days the food lines started early in the morning, before dawn.  He would get in line and wait for hours.  There was not enough food to buy.  That is a concept that I cannot even imagine as I look at the aisles stacked with more kinds of food than I can count, not to mention my own grocery cart full of steaks, spinach, tomatoes, and cheese.

He was a printer and worked in the newspaper business.  One day while reading the paper he saw a small rectangular ad with details of a way to go to America – a lottery.  He secretly applied – too nervous to tell even his wife.  For some reason he was confident that his name would be picked but still kept his action to himself.  And then he waited.  Six months later a letter came.  He was chosen.

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when he told his wife the news.  He told me there was a skirmish between them over it – mostly over him keeping it from her.  His intentions were good – he didn’t want their everyday life to be overshadowed by a mere possibility.  Even when it was time to go, they waited until the last days to tell family and friends.  Some things are difficult to share with those you do life with every day.  How does a person find the words to tell loved ones they are going to find a new life in another country?  Words.  Words can cut like a knife and soothe like a balm.  They can elicit tears of hope and gratitude.  They are part of happy hellos and heartbreaking goodbyes.

So I never know what I’m going to bring home from Costco.  This time it was a lot more than a rotisserie chicken.  This time it was a story that made me proud of this man for pursuing a new life to care for his family and proud of my country for welcoming him in.

Author’s Note: This story actually took place a year ago. I submitted it to The Costco Connection; but since I haven’t heard from them, I wanted to share it with you. This gentleman is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. It occurs to me that in this day of tension about immigration, maybe this is timely. There is a path to immigration that welcomes people to our country. I don’t fully understand how it works, but I am grateful for it. It was a process for this man that involved waiting. I’m glad he did.

Beyond the Samples at Costco

I think Sesame Street had the right idea about the people that you meet in your neighborhood. You know, the people that you meet as you’re walking down the street each day? That applies to Costco, too (my other neighborhood).

Let me back up a little. Whenever my dad leaves the house, he is wearing his WWII B29 crew veteran hat. Over the years of going places with him, I’ve grown accustomed to people stopping and thanking him for his service. I’ve seen people engage in long conversations with him, shake his hand, and buy him lunch. It always means so much to him for someone to take the time to show appreciation.

Now it’s hard for me to walk past a veteran without stopping and thanking them for their service – especially a WWII vet. They are easy to spot because the pride they take in their service and their country is so often displayed via their hats.

During my last trip to Costco I met a gentleman who is a WWII vet. His name is Mike Morro. I stopped to thank him for his service and we ended up having a wonderful conversation. He served in the Pacific like my dad did, and then he re-enlisted in the 1970s as a doctor in the navy. This delightful gentleman will turn 90 this summer; and he is still politically active, cares for his country and is a responsible citizen.

img_1555I was impressed that not only did he carry a picture of himself in uniform, but he carries one of his father who served in WWI. There is a lot of history in that wallet!

He pulled out a couple of other pictures and before showing them to me said, “Now, I’m not sure which way you voted in the election, but look at this.”

There he was in a photo with Mike Pence and holding his Veterans for Trump sign. You have to respect an 89-year-old man who is so articulate and active, not to mention polite, respectful, and down-right friendly. It’s easy to see why that generation is called the greatest.

Thank you, Mr. Morro, for your service to our country, and thank you for taking a few minutes to talk beyond the sample line at Costco. It was such a pleasure to meet you!

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Mike Morro and I at Costco (I have to remember to wear make-up when I leave the house. You never know who you’ll run into!)