Danger in Central Florida!

Wild animals and poor spellers are everywhere. Be on alert!

Now that I have your attention, let me highlight some of the stuff we Floridians have to put up with that is going way beyond reptiles and sharks. I’ve mentioned before (for those of you who don’t live here) that we essentially live in a subtropical swamp. Therefore, it’s often humid and hot. Really hot, accompanied by alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes. But that only lasts for six months, after which we return to just plain hot with occasional warm spells and alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes. Read the full post »

We Interrupt My Regular Blog for This FREE OFFER!

The perfect summer read

I have a short post for you today. So many of you have encouraged me along my journey of publishing my book, ALWAYS LOOK FOR THE MAGIC. So many of you have bought and read it. I’m very touched by that and very grateful.

I do know that sometimes people intend to do things and put them off, because that’s what I tend to do way too often. So, I won’t assume that all of you who would like to purchase my book have. With that in mind, today through Friday, you can download the kindle version for free. I wanted to make sure that you know so you can take advantage of this offer.

So click away right now and get it free today through Friday. Don’t wait, get it today!

When you click the link and see that it’s the Kindle version that is free and you don’t have a Kindle (you can always buy one or), don’t worry, you can download the Kindle App and read it on your tablet or computer.

Don’t forget to leave a review when you finish! And please share this post! Thanks again!

I’ll be back tomorrow with my regular posts. Until then!

 

Survivor Finale – Spoiler Alert!!!

Image result for free pictures of jeff probst

Photo Source: tvseriesfinale.com

Sacred TV time. That statement is wrong on so many levels, except that is how I “view” my Survivor television watching. Survivor is my absolute favorite TV show. My kids know this. Some of them watch the show, too; so last Wednesday night when Bob and I sat down to watch the finale an hour and fifteen minutes after the scheduled time, I texted my kids to let them know we were just then starting. I couldn’t risk a kink in my plan to find out who the sole survivor would be from watching the show, not from my kids lack of knowledge that we were watching delayed. Read the full post »

The Royals

Royals! They are all the talk lately – from the royal wedding to royal babies. But there’s a lot more royalty out there than what you find across the pond. I have royals that I love to interact with and read about in my everyday life. Common royals – kind of an oxymoron. Read the full post »

Run, Moggie, Run

I mentioned that Bob and I are traveling with friends. We became friends with Mike and Moggie back in the 1970s, and they are our Florida friends of longest duration (oldest friends, but I don’t like the way that sounds).

[/Bob and Me]

Here we are in Monument Valley where we took a three hour Jeep tour, which was awesome. Our guide was a movie buff and mentioned several movies that had been filmed there, including most of John Wayne’s early films directed by John Ford. Some of my favorite movies which were filmed there are Forrest Gump; Mission Impossible II; National Lampoon’s Vacation; and Back to the Future III.

After our tour was over, we took a smoother drive in our rental car and headed down Hwy 163 looking for adventure. We headed to Mexican Hat. Mexican Hat is easy to miss and I would certainly recommend that. We were looking for adventure and it was not to be found there. Time to enlist google to help us find something unusual, something wild, something dangerous – Forrest Gump Point.

Do you remember the part in that movie where Forrest had been running across America? One day, for no particular reason, he decided to go for a little run. It was 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours later when he stopped and said, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”

We were determined to find that point and google came through. It was the craziest place. No signs were posted, yet people were pulled off the sides of the highway risking life and limb to take their pictures where Forrest ended his run. Of course, we did, too.


Remember, this is a highway with 60 mph speed limits. Timing is everything in this sort of endeavor, especially since it is likely that a lot of folks just drive that road with no idea of the significance of an imaginary guy taking an imaginary run for no particular reason. They may not understand that fans of the film will want to re-enact that fateful scene despite cars zooming by at high speeds. Go figure.

I went first as I knew you would expect nothing less. Bob is my driver and photographer. (As I have mentioned before, never travel without an engineer, especially if you’re married to one. They come in very handy.)

Here is my triumphant pose. I must say it was exhilarating.


Well, not to be left out, Michael and Moggie wanted to get their picture done, too. Only thing, there was so much activity that they failed to hear us yell, “Car!” Eventually they ran!

I am happy to report that no one was hurt during the re-enactment. That’s all I have to say about that.

Antelope Canyon

The day finally arrived for us to do the Antelope Canyon tour. I was very excited because not only was the canyon reported to be amazingly beautiful, but it is also on the Navajo Reservation so we would have a local Navajo guide to take us through and tell us about it.

The day started out rainy and cold, cold even if you aren’t from Florida. We knew there may be closings of the canyons (upper and lower – we did the upper) if rain became an issue. The rain doesn’t have to be occurring at the canyon. If it is from up the canyon, flash floods can occur and that is no joke. We prayed that it would be sunny enough for us to enjoy the tour and that rain wouldn’t be a problem, so when we loaded onto their truck to be transported to the canyon entrance, we were grateful.

Our guide, Irene, was a woman about my age and she seemed like a no-nonsense kind of a gal. I discovered this when I tried to step up onto the truck without showing my ticket first. She was a bit gruff. I hate making a bad first impression, but oh well. We got onboard with ten other people and huddled together to keep dry and warm. I felt like we were being smuggled into the canyon. Cool!

When the back gate was lowered and we all were herded out, Irene cautioned us to stay together. I don’t think she was trying to scare us with her stories of people not heeding the warning to run when a flash flood was detected, but needless to say we stayed close to her. She told us of tour groups from other countries that didn’t understand what she was trying to communicate when she said to run and how she literally had to drag people out. Maybe too much Disney mentality – I dont know why people wouldn’t figure out they needed to get out. But I can tell you that our friend, Moggie, who is traveling with us, loved the stories so much that I thought she was going to throw up. But she didn’t.

When we entered the canyon the magic began. Disney has nothing on this. NOTHING! This is a slot canyon, so the walls are narrow, but not too much so – you can stand easily the entire length of it. The colors and the patterns on the walls are nothing short of breath-taking. The rock formations in the canyon could not have been constructed by man. We were in awe.

As for Irene, she was awesome! She had a great sense of humor and is a wonderful photographer and a bold one. She would take our cameras from us, adjust the settings, and take the best pictures these cameras and phones have ever generated. Bob and I got a new camera for each other for Christmas. Bob is the chief (sorry) photographer and I am the iPhone photographer. She called Bob grandpa, which in their culture is more respectful than ours, and she would take his camera and make it dance. We loved her! First impressions are only just that.

Today, I will use my title, Life on the Lighter Side, to show you a few pictures of the light in the canyon. Hope you enjoy them, and hope you can go to Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona, yourself sometime.

They Left a Light on For Us

Tuesday we arrived in Page, Arizona. Our Number One Goal: Antelope Canyon. But for now let me tell you about our first night in Page. We stopped at Glen Canyon Dam, on the Colorado River, and saw the whole dam thing. In this area it is dam this and dam that. We ate lunch at the Dam Cafe which was in the Dam Plaza, in the center of the dam town. You get the picture.

Our next stop was Horseshoe Bend where we hiked down to see the Colorado River make a, you guessed it,  horseshoe-shaped bend. It was another test of our prowess as we hiked along the steep trails of Navajo Sandstone with the wind whipping along the canyon spreading sand over our everything. Totally worth it! Here are a few shots to make you jealous. Not really. If you struggle with that just think about how my legs kept yelling at me for taking them for granted all these years. They are seriously not happy with me, but I continue to tell them who is boss (Bob, for making me walk when I’m ready to give up).

But the thing we were not prepared for, the thing that no pictures could capture, the thing we didn’t quite anticipate, was our hotel for the night. We planned on two nights but plans are made to be changed.

Disclaimer: I am a little picky. Okay, I am a lot picky.

I didn’t want to be the one in our group of four to object to the place, but of course I was, somebody had to. I was gentle though, because I wasn’t the one who made the reservations. I told the lady behind the desk, “We have reservations and I have reservations.” Desk ladies don’t have a great sense of humor.

The big draw of this place was it was cheap, and we figured that we would only be sleeping in the room as we would be enjoying the night life of Page. Spoiler Alert: There is no night life in Page. Once the sun goes down the show is over. So we retreated to our room. Here’s a picture of the room, forgive the mess; but there were no drawers, closets, lights to speak of, rugs, or quiet.

It was the noisiest hotel night of our lives. And we have traveled with our four children. Even now as I think back to times when we sneaked two of them into the room so we didn’t have to book two rooms, and we had kids lying all over the floor pinching each other, tooting, and giggling, those times were not as noisy as last night was.

As best as I can tell, all Page nightlife occurs in this hotel. That must explain the popularity of the ice maker, which was down the hall about two doors from us. Evidently people in Arizona need ice all throughout the night. I could almost here people yelling, “I need ice, stat!”

The next problem was that we apparrently were on the flight path to the airport.  It turned out that everytime someone started a shower near us, it sounded like a 747 was going through our room. I literally jumped out of my bed about three times before I realized there was no threat to us.

Someone close by had a German Shepherd and must have been unsuccessfully patrolling the halls making sure people weren’t taking too many turns at the icemaker. He likely was leading a pack of dogs through the corridor through the night as there was that delightful doggy smell.

The wind howling through our windows sounded like a coyote howling at the moon. I wondered if it bothered the pro-bowlers tour that was practicing while we tried to sleep. I am not sure how they managed to set up a lane in the hallway, but good for them. It must have been difficult with the cheerleading competitors practicing all around them.

So, we checked out. One night of excitement was enough for us. It is a good thing they left a light on for us, because we would never have found the switch. I will tell you about Antelope Canyon next time – after I get a good night of sleep and some decent wifi.

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.