Oops (Zion National Park part 2)

So last night I published a post before I finished writing it. I thought I was saving and hit the wrong button. The worst part wasn’t that it wasn’t finished or that I hadn’t added pictures. It was that I didn’t put a period at the end of my sentence. Oh, the shame and humiliation! Please, don’t think poorly of me! I wanted to fix it but alas it was too late. Also, I had no strength after hiking about 14 miles in 2 days. So here are a few pics from Zion. Thanks for being an understanding group.

Bye for now.

This is What We’ve Been Training For

We just spent two days in Zion National Park in beautiful Utah. This is our first stop in the region. We are doing the Big Five National Parks – that is Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capital Reef, and Canyonlands. So far, I think Zion is going to be tough to beat. Its Navajo sandstone cliffs with their brilliant vermillion color contrasted against the green Aspen trees and the brilliant blue sky, well, it takes your breath away. 

The other thing that takes your breath away is the hiking. I have been training for literally days for this trip. I would have started earlier but #1 I hurt my foot in the end of January, and #2 I hate training. After dropping a plastic bin on the top of my foot back in January, it took a while before I could wear a shoe comfortably. This was the perfect excuse for sitting around. I should have thought of that years ago. But as this trip started sneaking up on us, I knew I needed to strap on a pair (of shoes) and get out there and walk. So, Bob and I did a 5K. Actually, I think we threw an extra K in just getting to and from the finish line. I was able to complete the walk with no pain so I was encouraged.

If you have ever been to Orlando you will remember that hills are pretty hard to find. I think that’s because they moved them all to Utah. They were waiting for us, and they were not smooth. They believe in rocks out here. I guess that’s why they call it the Rocky Mountain Region

Happy National Park Week!

Sequoia National Park

It’s National Park Week, and even though I was mildly traumatized in one as a kid, I still love the parks.

I was nine and just completed the third grade. Our family of six did the cross-country camping thing during summer vacation. Dad converted our ’65 Volkswagen Microbus into a camping wagon, replacing the middle seat with a side seat so we kids could look at each other and play games while on the road. People didn’t wear seatbelts back then. We were used to being thrown around the car whenever it swerved or if Dad had to slam on the brakes. It was part of toughening us up and another way to promote togetherness.

It happened in Sequoia National Park in California. My dad and brother always pitched the three-room tent and my two sisters and I would help Mom by getting water, brushing off the picnic tables, and the like. Our campground had a nice fire pit area to cook on and warm ourselves by in the cool night air. The woods were amazing. Those trees! Well, their majesty even awed a young girl like me.

One of the cardinal rules of camping is: use the outhouse before you turn in for the night. Another rule of camping with children is: they don’t always follow the rules.

We had barely snuggled down in our sleeping bags when I regretted my decision not to use the bathroom right before bed. I mean, I had just gone thirty minutes earlier and it was a little hike down to the outhouse. I knew I’d be fine. Except I wasn’t.

I knew my mom would already be sleeping. Dad had often commented that she could fall asleep while running for a bus. So, I whispered, “Dad, I have to go to the bathroom.”

Of course, he replied with the line every parent uses, “I told you to go before bed. Why didn’t you go then?”

“I didn’t have to.”

Dad asked me if I remembered where the outhouse was and I said I did. We obviously didn’t yet know that I was directionally challenged since I had never put that lack-of-skill set to the test.

He handed me a flashlight and turned me loose in the darkness. Now, I can only imagine that my parents had quite the argument over this after my mom woke up, but meanwhile there I was standing outside of the tent armed with a flashlight and a full bladder, all by myself. I was petrified. I walked a few feet away from the tent and stood there in the black of night. There was no way I was going alone (so to speak).

After waiting a few minutes, I went back to the tent and lied to my father. “I can’t find it. It’s too dark.”

He solved that by handing me a second flashlight. To this day I don’t know what he was thinking, but I mustered the courage to walk down the road in the direction of the outhouse. Only I never came upon the outhouse. Who knows – maybe I was close, but I couldn’t find it. I backtracked my steps and told Dad the bad news. I was sure he would come out and lead me there, but instead he forgot I was a girl and told me to go out behind the campsite.

At this point I was practically scared peeless (is that a word?), but I figured if I didn’t take care of things I’d be in big trouble, so I managed. Yuck!

No sooner had I zipped up my sleeping bag when we heard a horrible sound. It was like someone was taking a crowbar and beating our van to pieces. That woke my mom up! All six of us peered out of the tent to witness an enormous bear throwing garbage cans around our campsite like they were confetti. Needless to say, it was a good thing that I had emptied my bladder or else I would have right then.

That was my first close encounter with a bear and my last time going to bed without visiting the outhouse. I believe two things happened that night. Number One. And, my unhealthy fascination with bears was born. I guess a third thing happened too, but I never did hear the argument between my mom and dad.

So, Happy National Park Week. Get out there and explore. Bob and I are heading to Utah on Saturday to do just that. I’ll keep you posted. By the way, I will not have to worry about outhouses at night anymore. No more tent camping for us!

My eight-year-old son enjoying Sequoia National Park when Bob and I took the kids across country in 1995. I’ve camped enough now.

The Crown, Alexa, and Marital Disagreement

We’ve been watching the Netflix series, The Crown, so I am typing this with a British accent. I also am drinking tea. When someone comes in the room, I give a royal wave; but I don’t speak with commoners while in the writing mode. This is all to put me in the proper state of  mind to tell my story.

This series has brought up a serious difference of opinion between Bob and me. After over four decades of marriage, you’d think this sort of thing would roll off of me. Read the full post »

Dear Marion Winik

I just returned from a weekend of laughter, inspiration, education, and a tad bit of humiliation at the 2018 Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop.

There were seven workshops spread over two days. Each time slot had multiple classes from which to choose. Narrowing down which to attend was like Sophie’s Choice. I made my choices though, several times. My decisions were based on what the workshop topic would be, as I’m not good at remembering the names of the speakers/authors.

Friday morning, I settled down in the Memoir Boot Camp, ready to take my personal essay skills to the next level. Our speaker introduced herself as Marion Winik and proceeded to captivate us by reading some of her own essays. For a brief moment we felt all warm and fuzzy, and then it was time to get down to business and do some writing of our own. Read the full post »

Stream It! – Part II of my Book Signing Fun

Wouldn’t you, like to buy a book, from me?

It was a beautiful day for my first book signing. Bob and I were joined by our friend and Prevail Press publisher as we set up in front of the Barrel of Books and Games in Mount Dora. I wasn’t nervous, I’ve sold things before, but this time it was like I was selling myself. (You know what I mean). For years I was a Tupperware lady. That is a lot like being a stand-up comedian who specializes in food freshness. You engage people and make them laugh until they realize that, not only do they like that bowl, but they must have it. It translates – yesterday a bowl, today a book.

We barely had my books on the table when an extremely friendly woman literally ran up to us saying that I had been chosen as one of two that she was going to stream live. She was using all the right wording to make me believe that she was a sweet Christian lady and probably worked for the Chamber of Commerce. We all looked at each other in that way you do when you can’t quite believe you’ve found such good fortune.

But, soon we realized that we had indeed found something, and it was a far cry from good fortune. Read the full post »

Happy Meal, Happy Writer, Famous Author – Part I of my Book Signing Fun

I woke up on Friday with a list going through my brain. Tomorrow would be my book signing. Today would be errands – Post Office, Target, Lowe’s, Costco. It was going to be a run-around day. By the time I crossed the first two places off of my list, I knew I needed to get lunch before braving Costco. You can’t always depend on those samples to see you through.

Since my obsession with Chick-fil-A (click here for an explanation), I have been very neglectful of McDonald’s. And, seeing as it’s right across the street from Lowe’s and Costco, and since I had heard that Snoopy is in the Happy Meal, I stopped in.

At this point I need to tell you our family secret and our great family shame. Read the full post »

Family Game Time and The Streak

Game-player genes are strong in my family, especially on my mom’s side. My childhood memories are full of badminton and croquet in the backyard and epic Monopoly games complete with outlandish trades. As I grew older, Scrabble was added into the mix. My mom was always part of those games – well, maybe not Monopoly. What homemaker has time for a board game that becomes a three-day event?

There are no other people in the world that I would rather play games with than my family. We are a competitive bunch, and this month as we gathered together to celebrate my mom’s 90th birthday, she led the way to the game table. She loves to play Scrabble and she plays to win. It is from her that I get my love of words. As a matter of fact, during one game my mom received a phone call and continued playing as she talked. Without batting an eye, she managed to accumulate two triple words while we just stared in disbelief. She is amazing.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

This trip, most of those Scrabble games were played with Mom, my sister and brother-in-law, and myself. We played a lot, and everyone was victorious at least once, except for me. It was getting embarrassing. Not because I couldn’t win, but because I couldn’t stop winning. I was on fire. I hate to toot my own horn, but since none of them have a blog, I am left with no other choice. Not only that, I don’t think my brother-in-law is talking to me.

Seriously, I was one with the tiles. The letters seemed to rearrange themselves on the tray and lift themselves effortlessly onto the scrabble board. Two games in a row I used all seven of my tiles. In the next game, my mom did something I had never seen before when she got a double/double word. It was amazing and we knew she would win the game, until once again I used all seven of my tiles and chalked up another victory.

I knew I was in trouble, but I was on some kind of bizarre scrabble streak and, even though I felt a little bad about it, I was loving it. I also knew it wouldn’t last. Streaks are made to end. The real challenge was to get them to keep playing and not lock me out of the house. The last several days of our time together were spent at the beach, where I continued my reign of terror. After my last victory there, everyone got away from the table for a little while. I didn’t know what to do. I thought I’d leave them a note to let them know that my heart was heavy and that I felt bad, but I didn’t want to sound condescending. Plus, we were almost out of paper, so I improvised.

I’d like to say they graciously accepted my apology, but they just reinforced what I already knew – Scrabble is not for lightweights.

Loss and New Obsessions and Why I’m Going to Dayton

I am gearing up for a trip of a lifetime – this is bucket list kind of stuff. On April 5, I’m going to Dayton, Ohio, for a long weekend. DAYTON! I know you’re envious, but I have dreamed about going to Dayton in April for sometime. Something very special happens there every two years. Something worthy of the trip. It’s the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the University of Dayton, her alma mater. Read the full post »

DST – It’s Not a Disease

Every spring it’s the same thing. DST arrives and it messes with me. It sounds like a disease. Yes, I am experiencing Daylight Savings Time even as you read this.

To be fair, switching back to standard time also messes with me. I am easily messed with, just ask my children. Every time after the time change, it takes me a few days to get in the swing of things like a weird, non-travel jet lag. Read the full post »