Monday, October 26, 2009

random thoughts

1. I went for a hike this morning. Two hours and 34 minutes. The weather is perfect (finally), and it felt great. Except at about the 2 hour mark, I decided to hike one more loop around the next set of hills. That extra 34 minutes just about did me in, especially since I forgot that it ended with a nice steep climb over the last ridge and back down into the parking lot. My legs were shaking by the time I climbed into the car.

2. I taught a lesson in seminary this morning that had an emphasis on "pondering". We talked about what that meant in our lives -- meditating, thinking, finding time to slow and quiet your life down and pondering on things of spiritual importance. We especially talked about remembering to turn off electronics and phones and stepping away from the computer to occasionally create that quiet time in their lives. Then I excused the kids at the end of the hour, changed my clothes, headed for the desert trails, turned on my MP3 and listened to music at pretty high volume for 2 1/2 hours. Surprisingly, that made me feel mentally refreshed. But I think that should worry me that I can't even take my own advice.

3. I have an odd collection of music on my MP3, including but not limited to: Village People, Fall Out Boy, Shiny Toy Guns, and the musical genius that is the 1968 classic music of the Monkees.

4. I just now got a disturbing text from Roxanne "There was just a suicide in my building at school and we all got evacuated". What heartbreak and sadness for a family today. I'm feeling upset and I don't even know anything more about it.

5. I went to my High School Reunion last month. A completely new high school has been built in recent years and along with getting to tour the new facilities, we were also able to walk through the old main school building. I wish I had taken a picture of the building. It is a 3 story concrete and brick old-style school. If it had been Phoenix, the public probably wouldn't have been allowed to walk through it without a hard had on. It has been abandoned, unable to be sold or renovated and is in extreme disrepair. But it was kind of cool to poke around with my old classmates and remember where we used to take Geometry and World History. A lot of the classrooms were filled with misc. storage and debris. There were snow blowers and filing cabinets in the little kitchenettes of the Home Ec room. I still remember sitting in on the mystical microwave demonstration of 1976. How you could cook something and take it out of an oven with your bare hands and not get burned - absolute magic!

6. Somehow, it is always fun to be back in Winslow. I lived there from age 7 until age 17. Dave was very patient while we drove around town as I was strolling down memory lane. For some reason it is important to tell him where I used to ride my Sting Ray bicycle, and where we played arcade games, and to go have lunch at the old Root Beer Stand. The house we grew up in it still beautiful. I loved that house. I wish I could share those memories with our kids. They would have loved that house and that yard too. My parents moved from Winslow before our kids were even born. They live in the beautiful community of Heber and we love to visit there, but it's not the same as taking your kids back to your home town. There is a little bit of sadness about that for me.

7. We got to hang out with our friends Terri and Blake. They are the kind of people we can be separated from for months, then sit down and start up conversations as if we hadn't been apart for a day. I love them. They are a gorgeous couple and have 4 very handsome kids too. Their "baby" is almost out of high school. I can't believe we're all getting that old.

8. We went to the homecoming football game while we were in Winslow. I was glad we were sitting by Terri. She was able to point out everyone that I should have been able to remember, but couldn't. She fed me everyone's names before they walked by. A perfect system. The evening was all the fun and enthusiasm that a solid small town sports program brings to a community. I wish our inner city schools in our neighborhoods here would get the vision of what successful extra curricular programs could do for the kids, the school and the community.

9. I have a friend that is pretty darn cool. Her family is cool, and her house is cool. My level of coolness goes up whenever I am in her house. Her house is up for a vote on a cool and popular design site. Go to this site , there is a quick and painless registration, then vote for Lezlee! (you've got to vote for her today!)

10. I don't have 10 things on my mind today, but it seemed silly to end on #9.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

quiet day

What a perfect day today. I cleared my calendar. I had the house to myself, it was quiet all day long. I curled up on the couch for hours and hours with a pile of movies. No one asked anything of me all day long. Perfect!
(Well, except for the searing pain of kidney stones coursing through my body. My family piled the prescriptions, water, juice, heating pad, and remote control around me and just steered clear.)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

the good, the bad and the funny

Suzanne and I could write about our vacation and it would be exactly the same. We went to the same places and pointed our cameras at the same points of interest. If you ever want to stay in the most beautiful bed and breakfast and be treated better than you've ever been treated and fed better than you've ever been fed, read Suzanne's post about the Ferry Point House .

Here is an overall summary of our trip:

Good things about the New England States:
#1 It is gorgeous. #2 So many things for tourists to do, you just cant get to it all. #3 Light rains and wisps of fog were beautiful.
#4 The lakes were breathtaking. This picture was taken just outside our hotel room. I could have just enjoyed the week from right here:
Or maybe just lounged in bed and enjoyed this view from the window:
#5 I learned a lot of our country's history that took place in this area. Fort Ticonderoga , Old Sturgridge Village , and the Canterbury Shaker Village . #6 Interesting local restaurants and markets .
#7 There are a lot of old, quaint church steeples, covered bridges, and barns.
#8 Very clean states, no litter or weeds along the roads or anywhere really.
#9 Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream, Necco (New England Confection Co), and King Arthur Flour are based in this area.

#10 Fudge is sold at every counter and at every cash register in every store, gift shop and restaurant.
Bad things about the New England States:
#1 Fudge is sold everywhere!
#2 There were no garbage cans. Seriously, New Hampshire is devoid of garbage cans. Where do the people of this very clean state throw away their garbage? All I wanted to do was toss my milk carton and banana peel and it took all day to find a single garbage can. It really is a "Pack it in, Pack it out" state.
#3 Very few chain stores, chain restaurants or fast food stores in the rural towns. It took all day to spot a Walgreen's which you can find on any corner in AZ.
#4 Fog. It blocked our view from the top of Prospect Mountain where on a clear day, you should be able to see 5 states.
#6 The mileage information signs and speed limit signs were few and far between. (yet the mile markers were posted every 2/10ths of a mile. I have no idea why.)
#7 Numbered highways merge and overlap quite often making navigating from a map difficult.
#8 The Appalachian Trail is pretty darned tricky.
Funny things about New England:
#1 There are signs to warn drivers about moose and bears.
#2 Funny names:
#3 There are dead people EVERYWHERE! These old little cemeteries are along every road. #4 Specialized yogurt flavors. #5 Fall visitors are referred to as "Leaf Peepers" #6 Favorite saying on a T-shirt:
What happens in Vermont, stays in Vermont.
(But nothing ever really happens here.)
The worst thing about our vacation, it had to end . . . goodbye Boston. It was a great week.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

we hiked the appalachian trail! (well, sort of . . . but not really)

Suzanne and I went on a fantastic trip to the New England states. It started with a conversation (while hiking in the Arizona desert) about how cool it would be to hike on the Appalachian trail. The trip evolved into much, much more because Suzanne is such an awesome trip planner.
Among the many activities, we planned two day hikes on the Appalachian trail. In case you don't know (because I didn't) the trail is 2025 miles long and stretches from Maine to Georgia. So we researched some day hikes in Vermont and New Hampshire. We parked the car and had to document the event with photos so here we are at the trailhead sign.We walked about 20 steps into the woods and there were 3 options to take. There was the north/south option and there was a path going west, but it was gated. The guide book we referenced said the trail headed in a southern direction and would lead us to a great swimming hole at a little over 2 miles down the trail. Obviously we weren't planning to swim in October, but that would be our turning around point. So we headed south down a very wide and smooth and well maintained path. Suzanne even mentioned how nice it was that the trail was so wide because we could walk side by side instead of one ahead of the other like we normally hike on most trails. Isn't it gorgeous?
We were down the trail a good 30 minutes before we had a small inkling that maybe we were not on the right path. We were not seeing the features we had read about. Finally after we had been hiking for well over an hour, we ran into another hiker. We asked if this was actually the right trail. "Oh no, the trail is WAY back by the parking lot and it is a small, thin trail that heads out diagonally and immediately uphill." (Well, . . . . . alrighty then.)
So . . . we walked several miles back to the car. Looked at the trail we had obviously missed, had a good laugh and decided we'd try again tomorrow.
DAY 2: New state, new trailhead. We again followed the directions in the guidebook and walked from the parking lot 1/10th of a mile to a footbridge over an absolutely beautiful gorge. Again we had to document ourselves on the trail because we knew FOR SURE that we were on the right path and the footbridge was absolutely part of the official trail. YAY! We were on our way! So we followed the path off the end of the bridge and along the river. Beautiful trees, beautiful river, beautiful trail, beautiful weather, beautiful everything. We hiked down the trail for over an hour and then it merged onto a service road which led into a hunting camp area, which lead to a dead end. What the heck?? Did we miss a turn??? It still had been a nice hike so we followed the trail back to the bridge and asked the next hiker we saw where the trail went. He showed us that the trail took a sharp right turn at the end of the bridge and up over the nearby hill. Then he said "I don't mean to be demeaning to you or anything, but the trail is marked quite clearly with these blazing marks in the trees." (Well, . . . . alrighty then.) We look up and there they are, clear white marks in the trees. Who would have thought? We had spent a year hiking in the desert where you get your clues from the ground. No trees for miles around. Who would have thought to look up in the trees?
As we were leaving we ran into this adorable girl. She looks like a serious hiker don't you think? She was hiking the entire 2025 mile trail! She told us she was covering about 9 to 15 miles a day. It was amazing visiting with her. We told her we needed to post our pictures side by side with hers - with our $19.99 discount tennis shoes, and our 16 oz. bottles of water.
So anyway - here's what we ended up with: two days, two states, five hours of hiking, and we were actually on the Appalachian trail for maybe all of 300 yards!