Monday, November 12, 2012


    Suzanne and I have been to Aravaipa Canyon several times the last 2 or 3 years. We usually hike in a couple miles and hike back out on the west end.  We have read about the whole canyon and considered doing a "hike through". It was a little problematic though. One end of the canyon goes in from highway 177 near Winkelman and the other end of the canyon is way into the wilderness from highway 70 near Safford.. There is a huge amount of driving mileage between one end of the canyon and the other, and the west end of the canyon requires a high clearance vehicle to get through several creek crossings. We found a friend who is a hiker and enjoys exploring the state (and has a high clearance vehicle!) so we decided to get a group to hike in from the west end, and the other group to start from the east end. We'd meet in the middle for lunch, trade keys, and hike to each others' cars through the canyon. Perfect! So we bought some permits, and got the trip on the calendar.
The description of the area sounds perfect. It is roughly a 12 mile hike through the canyon. I think I read that there is only a 400 foot elevation gain in the 12 miles, so it's basically flat, that's nice. It's through a beautiful canyon that is a wilderness protected area. There are a limited number of daily permits. I don't know what the weekends might be like, but each time we've been there on a weekday, we've encountered maybe 2 or 3 people all day. There are no established trails, although there are some areas that you can notice other hikers have followed a general path. The trip parallels the creek, then the canyon wall comes up and forces you into the water, to follow in the stream for a while, or sometimes to cross and walk on the other side for a while. The water is basically only ankle deep through the canyon.

We arrived and started walking at 8 am. The water was pretty chilly those first few creek crossings, but it became more pleasant as the day wore on. The problem we encountered, though not until later in the day, is that our route was upstream. When much of the day is spent walking in water, the flow of water against our feet was tiring. I found we were going to great lengths to stay out of the water the last hour or so of the day. The other group said it felt great to pick up their feet and have the current move their foot forward with each step. We should have thought that through and called dibs on the East end!
We had 7 in our group - Myself, Suzanne, Keegan, Lynnora, Cindi, Tam, and Dale. The other group was Wes, Daryl, and Bernie. We had originally thought we'd meet pretty much in the middle of the canyon, but we started out at 8 instead of 7 as we had planned. I thought the other group might have even started earlier than 7.  We also thought we would be hiking considerably slower than the other group, so in reality, I thought we'd come across the other group well before we reached the half way mark. There are no markings of any kind in the canyon, so we weren't confident we knew how far we had gone. I started to get nervous when we didn't see them by 11 or 12. There was no phone service once we started the drive toward the canyon. If the other group had any problems driving or hiking, we would never know. We started talking through ridiculous scenarios of hiking 12 miles to find there was no car on the other end. Actually Wes loaned us a GPS to walk with, but I couldn't imagine we were hiking as slow as we were so I thought for sure I was reading the numbers wrong. We finally ran into them at 12:30 or so, and stopped for a picnic. Here's what was hilarious. Our "girl group" had been e-mailing all week - what kind of pack are you carrying? What food are you taking? How about I bring chicken and you bring some rolls? I'll get the GPS, you bring a first aid kit, what kind of food would travel well? how will we keep the food cool? maybe a wrap would travel better than a sandwich etc etc.  When we sat down with the men in the other group, they enjoyed sharing some of the Italian Pasta Salad and Rice Krispie Treats that Cindi brought but said they just grabbed a pocket knife, a slab of salami, a cube of cheese and a boiled egg as they were leaving the house that morning. (What?? you didn't coordinate who was bringing the napkins?? What is it with men?)

We traded keys, then they told us we had a good 5 hours of hiking left to get to the car. Yikes! It gets dark at 6:00, and it is now 1:00. And we're hiking kind of slow. Actually, although we were hiking slow, we were pacing ourselves about the same as other hikers that we spoke to in the canyon that day, and overall hiked about the same number of hours as our other group. It is a flat canyon, but very rocky and of course in and out of the creek. It just makes for careful walking and watching your step.

We saw a blue heron, lots of butterflies, many frogs, a centipede, 3 snakes of a friendly variety (seen by our group, but fortunately I didn't have to witness any snakes myself). The picture below doesn't really show how big this creature was. I should have photographed it next to my shoe to put in in context, but I am not educated about centipedes enough to know if they might spit, sting, or quickly run up your pant leg, so you'll have to just take my word for it . . . it was quite large.
Here's what was great - the 2nd half of the canyon was significantly prettier than the 1st half. Maybe it was that we were seeing some dramatic afternoon lighting and shadows on the canyon walls, but also, there were stretches of scenery that were significantly different that what we had seen before.  One particular stretch had  trees stretching over the creek from both sides, and we walked down a sandbar in the center of the creek for  quite a ways. I've looked at my pictures, and some of the pictures from others in our group, and they just don't do justice to how pretty it was.

From car to car through the canyon, we took 10 hours. We got to the east end right at 6 pm as it was getting dark. Another quarter mile and we'd have all been digging out our flashlights. One more reason we should have called dibs on starting at the East end is that we were pooped and still had a 5 hour drive home. It's only 2 1/2 hours back to Phoenix from the other end. Everyone was tired and sore, yet it felt so good that we had such an incredible day. I was feeling surprisingly well, slightly tired, but not stiff and sore.  After we all got on dry shoes and socks, we hopped in the car and started driving back out to the highway. We drove about 2 hours on dirt roads, then we decided to switch drivers for the rest of the way home to Phoenix. I hopped out of the SUV to walk around to the driver's side and as my feet hit the ground, I just about crumpled. How can you get so stiff, so COMPLETELY stiff, and not know it while you are sitting? I could hardly walk around the car to the other side! We stopped in Globe for dinner and all 7 of us were hobbling in. Crazy.
We all were wondering if we'd do this hike again. That evening none of us would definitely say yes. But once we rested and recovered a bit, I think we all might do it again if we had the chance. It is a lesser known, but beautiful spot in this great state of ours. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

texting, part 2

I reviewed our family's phone bill yesterday and found some interesting numbers. Our billing cycle is only 2/3 through the month and here is how our texting data, messages sent and received, is listing out:
(luckily we have unlimited texting)
Grandpa - 0 texts
David - 52 texts
Cynthia - 225
Rachel - 545
Brady - 743
Roxanne - 1523
and Melanie . . . (drumroll please) 4158 texts !!
Notice how this goes in age order? 
I think it goes in opposite age order for number of minutes of actual talking. (except for Grandpa, he uses less than 5 minutes of airtime most months. We are still trying to convince him it's just a phone and not a confusing piece of technology)
The questions I need to ask is  . . . Melanie, do you ever take a break from your phone?????

Friday, November 9, 2012


Melanie: Mt. Graham is in there somewhere!! It's PERFECT weather here :)
Me: Beautiful. Did you take that from town? or are YOU out somewhere? I don't know why my text always spells YOU in capital letters.
Melanie: Hahahahaha mom, YOU have no idea how hard and long I just laughed at that cause it does that on my phone too!!  and I took that from my office window!
Me: I feel like i'm yelling at YOU sometimes.
Melanie: Hahahahaha i'm sitting here literally bouncing up and down laughing. Haha i understand you're not yelling at me though:) and i don't know why but my phone also capitalized the word SWAG automatically. Probably because when i use that term, it it critical the message of coolness gets across.
Me: Now i am sitting at my desk laughing out loud all by myself. 
Melanie: Haha the peach doesn't fall far from the tree:)  Haha YOU are my mother!

Should I worry about my daughter?? there is a lot of hahahahahahahahaha's in there. And quite a few !!!!!!!s, and I always get plenty of :) s.    Maybe we are too easily entertained, or maybe totally bored sitting at our desks across the miles from each other.

I went out hiking last night. I planned a 45 minute route at about 45 minutes before I thought it would get dark. I wasn't anywhere near the parking lot as it was getting to the 45 minute mark, but although it should have been getting dark,  the cloud cover was illuminating the city lights and it never got dark.  I had a flashlight with me, but didn't need to turn it on. The lighting was cool and the temperature was pleasant and I ended up walking around in the hills for another 30 minutes. Perfect evening. Sadly, I had planned to go to a bookclub meeting last night, I had it on my calendar, and I had remembered it the previous day, but it slipped my mind and I went home instead. I actually missed two events this week. I was going to pop in to the RS volleyball activity and spaced that too. I'm not sure what's wrong with me. My days have been quite busy. Maybe my mind has just hit its capacity. I think I need to start putting events on my phone with an alarm reminder.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I had to visit a doctor the other day. Apparently I have a mole on my face that has gone awry and needs to be removed. Cancer cells in a mole, can you believe it? But before I could even raise my eyebrows in surprise, my doctor assured me it wasn't the kind that spread, nor the kind that kills you. It just makes for an ugly mole.
Anyway, I went to see a plastic surgeon to see about the removal. I almost wanted to see if he would look for a mole on the other side of my face so I could get a symmetrical nip/tuck while he was at it.  It's always weird to me that we work with our doctors so often and are comfortable with our relationship with them. But when we have to see a surgeon, we get a brief visit, then maybe a quick hello right before getting put to sleep and going under the knife. There was one time in college when I was still on my parents insurance policy. I needed to have a surgery done on my thyroid over the winter break from school.  All arrangements had been made between my doctor in Phoenix and the surgeon in Winslow. I never met him until I was about to be operated on. He came in as I was already prepped for surgery. To set up this scene, I need to mention that this was 1982 when white men, for some odd reason, thought it was fashionable to have permed afros. This reputable surgeon came in with a crazy, clown-like afro, a plaid western shirt and wranglers, and overall just had an odd body shape type - somewhat big upper body, and VERY skinny hips and legs. As they were putting a mask over my mouth to put me to sleep, I shot a wide-eyed questioning look to my dad about the comical appearance of the surgeon who was about to take a scalpel to my neck! Luckily he came with a very good reputation of being one of the best surgeons in northern Arizona and I had a successful surgery with no complications.Except for that 2 minute visit with "Dr Afro", I never saw him again.
So, this procedure is going to be quick and easy, I hope. It's just done with a local anesthetic and I can drive myself home afterwards. But - while I was in the doctor's office, his nurse comes to check me in and review my papers before the doctor came in. She sees the first line in my folder and reads it out loud - "mole on left cheek near ear".  I have to say, if you looking at it from across the room, it is not big and ugly enough to make you do a double take at its deformity. BUT if you were of the medical persuasion and if you were looking at my left cheek near my ear, you would easily recognize a problem mole.  There are no other moles on that half of my face, nor are there any freckles anywhere in the vicinity. It is one mole on a clear patch of skin with nothing else to confuse it with. Therefore, this nurse takes a big purple marker and draws a large purple circle around it and then leaves and says the doctor will be in momentarily.  My father in law had come along for the ride and he just laughs at me and my purple marking.
The doctor comes in and looks at the mole. He reviewed the procedure with me and I told him that the spot was a tiny bit infected since it was sliced for a biopsy the week before. He prescribes an antibiotic and reached for the paper towel dispenser - the rough, brown, handwashing type, and wiped the purple off my face. Except it didn't wipe off, it smeared across my face, and most assuredly wiped into the wound that I had just told him was open and sore 60 seconds earlier, so I'm sure there was purple oozing directly into my bloodstream. Then he tried to wipe the smear which just made a another downward smear clear down to my jawline. A third of my face was now purple. We just started laughing and I asked what the heck kind of marker was that? He finally gave up and said I could use the sink to clean it off. After he left, I had to dunk my head in the sink and scrub it again and again until it was nearly bleeding and the purple was faint enough that I could walk through the waiting room and out to my car.
There is no point to this post except the silly nurse didn't need to mark up my face, and surgeons should never perm their hair.
The end.

Monday, November 5, 2012

stuff going on around here

Roxanne got a chance to go to Disneyland recently and to the ASU Homecoming game a couple weeks ago. I keep getting great pictures of her adventures. Unfortunately, I'm only getting pictures, not invitations to join in the fun. She sent me a few photos from California. She is heading toward graduation in a couple months, ahead of schedule, with great grades and with invitation to an honor society. I don't know how she has time for fun too. I'm not sure she ever sleeps or eats.

Melanie sent me a fun text and some fun photos a couple weeks ago too. She got nominated for Homecoming Queen (or as they call it - Mr and Mrs EAC). There was a funny audition (pageant?) and some voting. They were planning to announce the winners at the Homecoming game on Saturday night.  I told her she better not keep me waiting for the news all night.  When they were placing the winning tiara on her head, she better be saying ". . . just a minute, I'm on the phone with my Mom!"  She and her friend Adam won. I had to ask her if that honor wasn't saved for a local girl? or for someone who is a little older?, or maybe even someone who has been in that town/school/zip code for more than a couple of months? You can see the fun and silliness she constantly enjoys with the formal dress combined with the painted handprint on her face. She is enjoying every single activity her school, town, institute, apartments and friends have to offer.  Myrenda made a comment on one of her face book photos recently "Now, are there actually any classrooms at this college? :) "
Brady changed out our headlights on my car last week, not just the bulb, but the whole unit. I'm not sure why that made me so happy, but the bright, shiny and clear headlights and the recent wheel covers we put on our old car just made my day. Thank you Brady!
Rachel had a birthday this week. The kids have some new friends that have been coming over occasionally on Sunday evenings.  I had to apologize that they started coming over at the beginning of our family's birthday season. Every time they showed up, they were singing Happy Birthday so someone and involved with our silly birthday traditions. Rachel's birthday wraps up the season and we have a long dry spell until late next spring. Her birthday actually fell on a Halloween Party night. Here she is dressed as Katness Everdean, from the Hunger Games. She is awesome!

I think I'm living vicariously through my kids. Most days life is full of dull office work. I live for a fun text picture message from them regularly.