Wednesday, December 21, 2011

"It's right there!"

Went to Wal-mart, yes, it's true. I was looking for Dramamine for my better half. Couldn't find it. Looked and looked. Couldn't find it. Asked the pharmacist if she knew which aisle the Dramamine was on. She said, "Same aisle as the Tylenol." Oh good! Looked some more. Could NOT find it. Looked SO carefully. Nothing. Found an employee with a name badge and everything. I asked her, "Do you happen to possess the secret knowledge as to where the Dramamine might be?" She didn't hesitate, "Yeah, it's right there--bottom shelf, left-hand corner, very bottom." Oh good! I squatted down...looking, looking. No luck. She came over and repeated herself. "Bottom shelf, on the corner. Oh. We don't have any."

Saturday, December 17, 2011

School's Out!

My Christmas Vacation began at 4:00 p.m. yesterday (Friday 16 December 2011). Actually, I lied. I cheated the school district by three minutes. When I turned my car on to drive out of the parking lot, my car clock said 3:57 p.m. I don't really feel like I cheated too badly though because the district already got that three minutes out of me back in the '90's.

I was supposed to head straight to Little America in Salt Lake City to meet my husband, however, there was a change of plans. A neighbor of ours asked for a ride. I tried calling other people to arrange that ride for them. No luck. They had to leave their vehicle at one hospital parking lot while they were being transferred to another hospital by ambulance. They just needed a ride from one hospital to the other to pick up their car. I couldn't say "no." As much as I wanted to be carefree and see my husband for a wonderful date night in the big city, I took a little time to help those people. I still remember being car-less until after I graduated from college. It was very difficult. So many people gave me so many rides. I try to give rides whenever possible. This was a good choice yesterday, I believe, especially under the circumstances.

Little America is a very nice hotel! My husband is the grand master of arranging Wholesome Family Recreation. It doesn't matter if we play outside in the wilderness or if we own the city for a night or two, he knows how to show me a good time. We don't have to have really nice hotels. We have camped in the rain and the cold and have learned to enjoy that side of things as well. We have stayed in plenty of cheap podunk motels. But let me tell ya, we had the loveliest room at Little America! Ahhhhh....

Because of the delay caused by my little service project, I ruined K's plans for dinner before the concert. We walked to the train station and jumped on Trax to head toward Temple Square. Of course the lights were amazing! Too bad there's no snow, but it was a mild evening as far as December is concerned. After walking around for awhile, and a surprise romantic kiss from my Sweetie under the branches of a beautifully lit tree, we headed toward the Conference Center to enjoy an evening of Christmas Music by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Orchestra at Temple Square, baritone Nathan Gunn, and actress Jane Seymour. This annual concert (last year featured David Archuleta) is first rate. I still find it unbelievable that the tickets are always free (all of the tickets for all 22,000 seats for all four performances)! There were some amazing lighting techniques used. K said, "If they would light up the organ pipes like that for General Conference I might be able to stay more focused!" They had dancers and costumes and bell ringers. They had everything. I wish I could take you all.

After the concert, we were starving. We attempted to get food at three restaurants at Temple Square, but the place was packed. We decided to just start walking south on Main Street toward our hotel and see if we could find any restaurants. We found a little Italian cafe called Michelangelo's. It looked empty. The sign on the door said they closed at 10:00 p.m. and it was 10:00 p.m. Through the glass of the door, the guy behind the counter smiled and waved us in! We ate! K had rigotoni with sausage and onions. I had spinach ravioli. The bread with oil and balsamic vinegar was divine.

While eating, K started noticing all of these people dressed as Santa walking on the sidewalk. "There goes another one!" Some of them were jogging. We were guessing all the reasons so many Santas would be walking on Main Street in Salt Lake City after 10:00 p.m. on a Friday night. Were they doing something like "Santas for Fitness?" Or were they just jogging to stay warm? Were they all late to the same party?

We continued walking south skipping the other Trax stations, opting to walk the rest of the way to the hotel. We continued passing many, many people dressed as Santa! At one crosswalk, we saw one group of Santas run into another group of Santas. They didn't know each other, but one of them was carrying a big boom box, and both groups of Santas merged into one group and danced (really well!) on the sidewalk. K and I were laughing--wish I had the video. Another crosswalk found us waiting with a couple of Santa People. K finally asked, "Is there some sort of Santa Party going on?" They replied, "Yes!" I commented, "We've seen MILLIONS of you guys!" The woman said, "Yes! There are millions of us!"

Back at the hotel, my darling husband produced a piece of Raspberry Swirl Cheesecake for me directly from the Cheesecake Factory! He had stopped there on his way into town. I'm tellin' ya, he's a Dreamboat, this guy of mine!

We both slept in, but as usual, I woke up first and helped myself to the amazing bath tub in our hotel room (amazing as could have a dance party in there). They even provided bubble bath! kind of morning. I let K sleep until ten and then we ambled over to the Breakfast Buffet. Scrumptious. We've always heard about the food at Little America, but this was our first taste. I usually eat much earlier in the morning, so I was feeling a bit ravenous,and when I took my first bite, I had another love burst for my husband and said, "Thank you for bringing me here!" Bagels with cream cheese and lox, fresh pineapple and blackberries, and crepes. There was no way to taste everything. K did have the omelette chef make something special for him. We thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast while leisurely chatting in those big comfy chairs.

Just walking around the foyer of Little America is an experience, especially when everything is decked out for Christmas. We saw a huge Gingerbread creation which took fifty-five hours to complete (no camera, sorry). So festive.

We left Little America in my car to find a new-to-us outlet. Yep, we're talking Maxfield's Chocolates. I seriously don't know how my husband hears about all of these places, but we did make a purchase. We headed back to Little America so K could pick up his vehicle and we kissed goodbye until we see each other again. People always ask how we do it--this living apart thing--well, this is how we do it!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Something New

I've decided to try something NEW! Something I've never ever done before! There's something fresh and different on the Horizon. I'm not going back to the cave this next summer as an interpretive park ranger. I'm hanging up my flat hat. Instead, I'm going to try my hand at being a stay-at-home WIFE! You know, just for ten weeks, during summer vacation. And it won't really be ten whole weeks because teachers are required to do a lot of stuff in the summer.

My husband has never known me not to have two jobs. Two overlapping jobs which gets a litle intense every spring and fall. Jobs that are mentally and physically exhausting. He's been a good sport. He would never prevent me from choosing what I want. Well, I want a break. I want a breather. So I'm going to take one.

Don't get me wrong. I know that being a stay-at-home wife is a very demanding role, especially if one does it well. I'm really not thinking I'll be at the pool every day without a care in the world. I'm thinking other things. I'll let you know later how it goes.

Prior to becoming a National Park Ranger, I did volunteer work. I was a teacher at Summer Clear Creek for two summers. I tutored students. I'm not about to get lazy or anything. I'll find something worthwhile to do and I'll probably start with cleaning out the silverware drawer.

For a decade now, teachers have been asking, "How do you do it? Aren't you tired?" They exclaim, "I need my summer. I could never do what you do." One person said, "You should enjoy your summer." She meant that I wasn't enjoying my summers because I was working full time. Well, I HAVE enjoyed my summers! Every. Single. One. I love that cave and all the rangers and all that I've learned and the general public. I have loved it all. So I don't want anyone thinking I wasn't having fun. Parts of every job are difficult, however, it was the fun parts that took me back year after year. If I ever gave the impression that someone was forcing me to work there, I apologize. Not going back is one of the most difficult things I've ever decided. In fact, I feel sorry for all of you that will never be able to say that you were a Timp Cave Ranger. You'll never know the secret. I will miss my litle hat spot in the backroom of the VC and I will resent (jk) the ranger who takes on my radio call number. But I will love, Love, LOVE spending more time with my husband!

Husband. THE VERY BEST GIFT out of all the gifts I received from that old cave. I am really looking forward to seeing him on a daily basis again. When he first went to the Spike, it was "for just one year" and I was already underway at the cave, so I stayed on. We never knew if he would be renewed for another year or get another job somewhere else or when they would next advertise his position or how many Veterans would apply and so, inch by inch, we kept making these decisions until now we're staring at the last six months of his four year term.

Now you know my plan. However, people's plans change all the time and I don't have to answer to you. Maybe I WILL go back to the cave or get a job somewhere else or take a lot of classes or spend my days at the pool. Perhaps I'll never clean out the silverware drawer afterall. I'll let you know.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Letters to Santa--What a Girl Wants!

More stolen writing from my students...

Dear Santa:
I would like a toy that looks just like my cat, Spirit. Please make it the same size, or at least try. Please make it soft, or at least try. Please make it a stuffed animal, or at least try. Please make it cute, or at least try. Please try. Spirit died and I miss him so much. He's a cute, fat, boy cat, black and white. Please try to make him stand and sit.

Dear Santa,
For Christmas, I would like a laptop. If you bring me one, I won't keep bugging my parents to get me one. They would thank you so much. I can go on educational websites to learn things. I wouldn't have to use my mom or dad's. I would have my own to use. If you do get me one, I want it to be pink.

Dear Santa,
I have been good this year and I deserve a microphone with a stand. I would also like the series of My Sister the Vampire. And and iPod Touch. These are the things I've done good. I have helped people out, sick or not sick. I have been listening to my parents. And I have been doing my homework. I like presents.

Dear Santa Claus,
The day that I am writing is my birthday. Or do you already know that? Anyways, what I really want is a telescope, or at least a good pair of binoculars. Here are the reasons why I so desperately need one. 1) In the future, I might be a good astronomer, if I can get to know the night sky. Later, I can possibly discover something new. 2) I will finally stop begging for one or the other. 3) I can enjoy camping trips more. Santa, it is afterall my birthday, so maybe you will consider this letter a little more, about getting me a telescope or a pair of binoculars.

Letters to Santa--What a Boy Wants!

Here I go again, ripping off student writing...

Dear Santa Claus:
What I would like for Christmas is a Lego set and a model car or airplane. I love building, like your elves. It would give me something to do instead of homework and other things like that. When I grow up, I will give it to my kids, so, I won't give it away.

Dear Santa:
I want a Wii for Christmas because our Wii is not working and we have games on the Wii we need to play. And we love to play the Wii. I really want to play a game I have. And I am saying please.

Dear Santa:
I am asking you to give me a little dirt bike. It will be cool and everyone has one but me. If you give me one, I'll need a helmet too. My parents want me to have one, so give me one please.

Dear Santa,
I would like a horse! Why a horse, I know you are thinking. Because horses are my passion! I've loved horses for my whole life! I love going on horseback rides, but I have to travel an hour just to get to the horse. It would be a lot easier to have one right by my house so we don't have to spend lots of money on gas. It will teach me big responsibility and that will help me with life lessons later on! So please get me a horse. PLEASE!

Dear Santa,
This year I would like a Nook tablet. This is the only thing I would like this year. I like this tablet because you can watch movies and play games, so it is something to keep me entertained. I want this, but if I don't deserve it, then I won't get it. But, it is a mutual thing, because my parents don't buy it for me, so they don't waste money. It will not cost you a penny because your elves can make it for me. You can save your energy for next Christmas. So, what do you say, are you with me? Since this is the only thing I want, I will be super good and I won't lie, steal, disobey, and fight. I will be an angel child for the year. And I can also play with my little sister for as long as she wants.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Post Office

Unlike many Americans, I enjoy going to the post office. I don't mind standing in line, so much. Today, I stood in line a good 20-25 minutes. Everyone was so quiet. I wanted to make conversation with the guy ahead of me and the guy behind me, but I ended up thinking that perhaps they wouldn't be interested in chatting with me. I kept wanting to say bright and happy things like, "It's almost your turn!" I noticed the guy in front of me was fixin' to mail a package to a sister missionary in Texas. I thought about asking, "So is she worth the wait?"

There's one employee at my post office that feels like a long lost cousin. You know, feels like family, but not the kind of family member you talk to all the time. This is how he greets every customer, "How you dooeeenn?" As if he's your next door neighbor and has missed you a whole lot since your last visit. I like the way he phrases things, "Would you like this to be registered or certified or should we just get it gooeeenn?" They're all pretty nice, but I admit, while standing in line, I think to myself, "I hope I get HIM."

I did chuckle, but not too loudly as I watched a couple of young men try to find a package for which they had a tracking number. I guess three guys live together and only ONE of them had his mail put on hold while vacationing and it ended up that all three stopped getting mail, so one of them went to the post office last week to take the hold off, but now, nobody could locate this package. Man, they were at the counter forever. Finally, the employee returned to the counter and said, "It's sitting in your box--we called your carrier."

No, that's not the funny part. The funny part was watching one of the guys work on his fashion statement. When he entered the post office, he was wearing ratty jeans with a wide white belt and all of that was riding near the bottom of his butt cheeks (if the school nurse can say "butt cheeks" in front of the whole fifth grade, then I can say it on my blog). Somewhere in the middle of their missing box mess, he decided he needed to adjust things. I looked around--pretty much everyone in line was catching this. He fiddled with the front. He fiddled with the back. He fiddled all around, sliding up and sliding down. Frankly, I'm not sure WHAT all he was doing. I feared for a moment that those pants were going to end up on the floor. However, when he decided it was how he wanted it, those jeans and that white belt were in the same exact place as when he started. You had to be there.

I even got a little sentimental at the post office. It was this season a few years ago that I was standing in line at another post office. End of the day--everyone tired--bad weather outside. A really old fellow came shuffling in with a Santa hat on. He smiled at the crowd in line. His eyes twinkled. And just like that, with a clear tone, he began singing, "Sleigh bells riiiiiiiiiiingg......." He kept going and EVERYONE joined in! It may not have been a Christmas Miracle, but it surely was a Christmas Moment.

No, I don't mind standing in line at the post office.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


We have this incredible friend, Suzette. We hardly see her anymore because she lives in a neighboring state, but sometimes we meet up for dinner when someone is passing through the town of the other. She was THE speaker at a special meeting at a certain university today and I know it was amazing. I've learned a lot from her.

I started keeping a reading log because of Suzette. The thought had never entered my head prior to living with her. She's taught me about how to better study the scriptures. She's taught me to love and appreciate music more than I did before. She's inspired me to exercise (she's done the marathon thing). One time we went on a really long ride together--like four straight hours of washboard gravel--and then we hit pavement in another state, eventually finding our way home by nightfall. I like the way she asks questions. I like how she plans trips and activities, and plans out her goals. I love her laugh!

One time, her college students visited my fifth grade students for Author's Chair. We had potluck chips, Oreos, and things of that sort--her class and mine. Another time, she visited my class because we had just read THE SECRET GARDEN and she was playing a role in that show at a local theater. She sang one of her solos for my students and when she hit the long, high, loud note at the end, she sort of waved her arms at my students indicating that this would be the time to applaud. Fifth graders don't know these things intuitively. One time she invited me to her class and I influenced many, I'm sure. Actually, I influenced no one because Sam Beeson was also visiting and I know everyone favored him. I loved how Suzette would grade five term papers, then go for a walk, grade five more papers, then play the piano, grade five more papers, then eat a snack, grade five more papers...if only I could garner a fraction of that self-discipline.

We've snowshoed together. We've hiked together. However, she refused to winter camp! I watched her volunteer with special needs people for three years. Those kids loved dancing to Michael Jackson's Thriller with her! She took me to a Jazz game once. She's helped me a couple of times with surgeries including stopping at the pharmacy for my meds, getting me a pumpkin or egg nog shake, and putting Lord of the Rings in the DVD player so I could have all my needs met. I'm glad she's shared her family with us--great people. She makes a tasty batch of granola. Suzette is not fond of dogs. She loves Ann of Green Gables so much--you have no idea. ;) She likes her sleep. We know how to get our hands on a key to her house if she's not there. I'll never forget a Gospel Doctrine lesson she taught about how to study the scriptures. She had this tool box and pulled things out of it--a highlighter, sticky notes, a dictionary, etc. The girl has climbed on glaciers in Alaska and ridden camels in Africa.

She sang at our wedding. She danced at our wedding.

I know she rocked the house while speaking today. Oh how we love you, Suzette!

Monday, November 28, 2011


My evaluation is over and I had a calm, peaceful feeling while it was happening. The principal smiled as he walked out of the room and said, "You did really well." I guess that means I'm an okay teacher. My students were angels and I didn't even bribe them with candy. I suppose it could have had something to do with the fact that they've been staying up way too late during the Thanksgiving break. A couple of weeks ago when I scheduled this evaluation, I mentioned to the class that "one of these days" the principal would be visiting to see how well each of them was trying to learn math. Yes, I shoved the burden completely onto them. Perhaps they remembered that comment when he sat himself down at my desk this morning.

So, while I was teaching my guts out and remembering to use positive specific praise and making sure each child knew what the objective was and using a variety of technologies, our class had a pretty good dialogue about prime and composite numbers. I didn't tell them what they were, but I led them through an activity so that they might figure out what they are on their own. My heart rejoiced when one girl raised her hand and said, "I think I know what a prime number is." We wrote the definitions down, in the students' very own terms, to create a network of meaning for the class to reference. I listened to their comments. I answered their questions. We got to the point where I assigned independent work. And as we were wrapping up and I was feeling like the kids had this concept in the bag, one boy raised his hand and clearly asked, "What is a composite number?" That rejoicing heart of mine sank a few notches down and I praised him for asking a question instead of pretending he knew. I went straight to his desk to do some reteaching. When the principal decided to leave, I caught him at the door and said, "Nothing like a killer question at the very end to let you know someone didn't get it." The principal said, "It happens all the time." It does? Oh good. Maybe I'm not a failure.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Where did November go? I haven't posted since Toroweap. Well, I've been busy. Out of the blue on Sunday 30 October, a member of the bishopric wanted to have a little chat with me. Didn't see that coming, at all. I got released from serving as the Gospel Doctrine teacher for twenty-six months (glorious months) and called to serve as the second counselor in the Relief Society presidency. I cried. Only a little. I questioned God. I often don't feel like the "Relief Society type." Hah! Doesn't matter what you feel. It's what you get that's good for ya! So, my month has been busy with lots of training and handbooks and meetings (and meetings). I've been feeling my way along in the darkness. I can say that there are some pretty incredible women running the show on the ward and stake levels. Bless them. Ordinary women doing extraordinary things.

Happy Anniversary to us! Seven years! My dreams are coming true! K and I had a calm celebration this time around. We went out to dinner the day before. On the day of, I drove to BC from PG to cook pork chops and we had a quiet little dinner together. Just being in the same room is a celebration in and of itself. I love him so!

I hosted book club at our home, helped my fifth graders publish a class cookbook, cared for the poor and needy, and began Christmas preparations. We cooked a whole entire Thanksgiving Feast with all the trimmings and had one distinguished guest for an hour or so.

Racing back and forth on I-15, maintaining our vehicles, paying the bills, watching a little football, doing our jobs, cleaning the bathroom, cooking/shopping for faculty luncheons, attending stake conference,setting up an assembly about railroad safety, reading THE WITCHES by Roald Dahl aloud, and keeping thirty-four children watered and de-watered five days a week...I guess that's where November went.

And tomorrow I am being EVALUATED by my principal! I am going to teach my students how to determine prime and composite numbers. Wish me luck. Perhaps I'll get back to blogging after that.

Sunday, October 23, 2011


As we were deciding how to spend Fall Break, K mentioned this place called Toroweap. Never heard of it. Then he mentioned it was in a remote area. Didn't scare me. Then he added a few details: no water, no cell phone, primitive camping, no toilet if you can't get one of ten campsites, must have four-wheel drive, must have a high-clearance vehicle, a tow out of there will cost you $1000-$2000 dollars, take extra "rations" (people only use the word "rations" when they're talking serious). He mentioned something about a 60 mile dirt road with washboard gravel and then changed his story later saying, "Actually, it's more like 90 miles." In the end, I simply said, "Well, we'll never be younger than we are now--we may as well try it." And off we went. After rumbling down the road for a good long while, we saw our first sign: Only 65 miles to go!

Only 37 miles to go!

Our trusty vehicle. Looking out the window from inside the Mt. Trumbull Schoolhouse. Sounds like the Bundy family was THE family in that area once upon a time (maybe now as well?).

So this is where they got some of the lumber to build the St. George LDS Temple. Amazing. We walked the little trail and saw the post marking the Temple Trail. Yeah, just 80 miles between the sawmill and the temple. I think the sign said it took them five days to haul a load of timber. Amazing.

I apologize for the poor quality of photo, but K and I had a good chuckle over this sign about all the things you could do within a one hour drive! We had already been out driving around on a dirt road for about two hours as it was! The sign made it sound like you were at a park in L.A. and needed to know what activities were available in case you had an extra hour to kill. It was just funny. This sign was located at the trailhead for Mt. Trumbull and the site of Nixon Spring. Also, it's very close to the Sawmill Site.

We stopped at a pretty little place called Nampaweap to chase down some petroglyphs. It was a lovely walk on a ridiculously well-signed trail.

This is the sign at the park boundary. All the names and boundaries are confusing. Most of the land is BLM. The afore-mentioned stuff we did (like petroglyphs) was located in a national monument, but Toroweap is in the national park. The monument is called: Grand Canyon Parashant National Monument. The national park is called Grand Canyon National Park, but it's called the Tuweep Area because it is not accessible from other parts of Grand Canyon National Park. I don't know what they mean, but the words such as Toroweap and Tuweep are Paiute Indian words. What I wonder is why it's sometimes spelled "weap" and sometimes spelled "weep."

About 4-5 miles before you get to the Toroweap Overlook, you'll pass the ranger contact station on your left (hard to miss out there in the middle of nowhere...). There's an American flag which is in bad shape and a restroom with a small information sign. I assume the NPS ranger lives there, but we didn't knock on the door or anything. There's also an air hose for your tire. That's about it for the list of helps and comforts. We noticed they have a barrel for catching rain water.

Home Sweet Home! Toroweap Camground has ten sites. We LOVED Site #6 and it had a really flat tent spot. Sites #1-#9 are regular and Site #10 is a group site and can be reserved in advance. There are two (count 'em, TWO) composting toilets--so great! Don't be fooled, however, just getting into and out of the campground is a reminder of why you really need a four-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance in that area. Sites #1-#3 are to the right when you enter the campground and Sites #4-#10 are to the left. There is no loop of sites through the campground.

Meet Lizard. Lizard knows no strangers. Lizard wanted to be in on the party from the moment we showed up. Lizard watched, briefly, from the rock. Lizard ran between K's shoes (size 14 I might add) and just sat there intently watching him pound in the spike for the tent. No fear! We kept chasing Lizard away so as not to squish him (like BJ once killed an innocent lizard inside an NPS boundary...), but Lizard wouldn't have any of it. At one point, Lizard RAN and FLUNG itself onto the tent canvas and just stretched out as happy as could be. Lizard was wearing out the welcome you might say.

Lizard climbed up on my hiking shoe without an invitation. Lizard was contemplating a journey up my pantleg so I kicked it off. This lizard was the most wildlife interaction and observation we had the entire trip.

Okay, this is slightly gross. I spit on the ground to get the lizard to move and it immediately started lapping up my spit. I guess if you're a desert dweller, you capitalize on ALL your opportunities to stay hydrated. Don't ask questions. Drink up! Gift from Heaven.

Destination reached. This is at the Toroweap Overlook.

That would be the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Grand views in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona!

Notice K's foot on Poison Rock (named Poison Rock drop and you're dead...forgive me, it's an old Arlo joke).

K scrambling around on rock after rock after rock.

Can you imagine getting to the end of a ninety mile dirt road and then finding out the restroom is closed? Granted, there are two composting toilets in the camground about a half mile away, but just getting to the campground is sort of another trick.

This is cryptobiotic soil or crypto-organic soil--not sure of the absolute proper name. Let's just say it's Very Special Soil. It takes no less than a century to form. So please, do not step on it. It's fragile. Desert hiking instructions always tell you to walk on the rocks as much as possible so that the Very Special Soil can do its thing. When you see it in real life, you can't help but think, "Now THAT'S Very Special Soil."

Our first hike was the Esplanade Loop Trail which takes off from the Toroweap Campground Site #10. We simply had a lovely time. Love walking in the desert when the temperatures are mild: 60-70 degrees.

This is a view from the Tuckup Trail. We only did a couple of miles on this trail, although K read somewhere it's the best day hike in the park. It was all very nice and lovely. The skies were hazy due to a fire on the South Rim.

K scouting around with the binocs. He doesn't much like to pose for photos, so I sneak them in when I can.

I like lichen. This green lichen was growing in circles. I assume it starts in the center and grows outward in a near-perfect circle. The second lichen photo depicts the circle pattern even if it has to grow on two surfaces, such as on the edge of a rock. The third lichen photo shows how lichen really does eat rocks.

My Sweetie. I didn't care for any of the pictures he took of me, so in this blog post, all you get to see are pictures of him.

This is a cairn. It's just one form of communication in the desert. One warning about hiking around Toroweap is that the trails require route finding skills and navigation. Well, we found the routes! Sometimes the cairns were excellent such as this one and sometimes the cairns weren't there at all. Some people labor to erect them and others kick them over.

This was our hike on the Saddlehorse Canyon Trail, which is a loop trail departing from the Toroweap Campground Site #5. Out of the three trails we hiked, I fell in love with this one the most. All kinds of flora, a little up and down in elevation, and of course, wondrous views!

K complained, "Why CAN'T I throw a rock?"

K's view. He IS the better photographer.

K, standing on the edge, again.

One of the things I like about hiking in the desert is seeing the impact of water on the landscape. These holes remind me of volcanic craters, carved out by any rain that ever was. It would be so cool to witness a rain storm at Toroweap (if you could do it without wondering how you would drive the ninety miles back on a muddy, primitive road). I just like the way they look.

Did someone say something about a volcano?

K vs. the Volcano. We started down the road to Vulcan's Throne to the trailhead which allows you to summit the volcano by hiking a mere 1,000 feet in 1 mile. There's another trail which takes you the two or three thousand feet down to the river. We felt good about driving over the regular rocks. We managed the dirt road with very deep ruts left over from muddy days gone by. We passed through Toroweap "Lake." However, when we got to the lava rock on this road, we weren't too sure. We talked. K walked. We started driving down it. Twice (backed up twice). And then we decided to leave it for another day when we might have newer tires and higher clearance. We had been so fortunate in avoiding car problems that we didn't want to risk it on our last night there.

One last look...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Another Season...Over!

K and I hiked up to the cave on Saturday to kiss it goodbye for the winter. What a lovely day! The weather was perfect for hiking, the leaves were pretty, and we saw lots of ranger friends as well as regular hikers on the trail. So many people to say "hi" to. I ended up batting Royce's tour while K visited with a few rangers. He hiked around to the exit to meet me and we walked down together, for the last time this season. So. Many. Memories. I opened this blog post with a photo of the sun rising up over the mountain and peeking down into the canyon. The sun is rising. Do you see the moon? It is setting. So much symbolism in one photograph, as amateur as my photography can be. Sigh.

Approaching Quarter Way.

Good ol' Kodachrome.

It's mid to late October. It has snowed up there on the cave trail. And yet, stuff still grows. Right out of the rock. Every living thing is programmed to do its best! No matter the opposition it will face in the near future (cold, snow), that green cutie is just doing its thing right up until it can't do it any longer.

Lesson learned! If there's one thing I know how to do really well on that trail, this would be it! Oh, the experiences I've had! The sounds I've heard! The number of times I've yelled, "ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOCK!" The slides I've seen... Earlier this season, I felt ill. I went to the doctor because of it. My white blood cell count was high and my kidney function was low. I ended up telling the doctor (not my usual doc) I was pretty stressed out about potential rockfall at the cave. He asked me all these questions about depression and anxiety. I explained I felt fine otherwise, but that I really worried about a big slide or something happening at the cave. THAT VERY NIGHT, there was a huge storm and the cave trail was closed the whole next day because that much rock had to be shoveled. In fact, the Canyon Road was closed that next day because there were slides all the way across. After that, I felt fine. My levels were back to normal. You can call me crazy, but I truly believe that I "know" that mountain. I was wondering how much saturation it could take before things really had to slough off. I've learned over the years that after a big slough, things are usually fine the rest of the season. And they were. The end.

Stuff they've found during construction. Is that a GIN bottle? Heh, heh, heh.

Wonder how Packrat feels about all THIS?

New shelter over new steps near exit shelter.

This is the lovely industrial-strength chicken wire that has been strung above the exit shelter to protect workers during construction from rockfall. There were a few chunky rocks (football size) up there, dutifully caught by said wire.

These are the new steps going up to the exit shelter. K said that none of those steps were in place a couple of weeks ago. "None of those pillars had been built two weeks ago," he stated. So, things are coming along. Hopefully they can finish before more snow flies (because, yes, people...the snow has already flown up there). Hopefully things will be back to normal, that elusive memory, next year.

A little fall color on the trail. By the way, Nancy's Earthquake Monitor was not in place. Grrrr...

The rangers were all very smiley on Saturday. Do you know why? It was their LAST Saturday of the season! Oh, just kidding. Rangers lover rangering, but that park can make a body tired. K and I popped into the VC on our way down just for a quick minute. We could totally SMELL the party in the back room. Not sure what was on the menu, but we wondered if all the other visitors noticed the same thing. Those VUA's sure know how to put on a spread with nothing more than a crockpot and a smoothie machine.

Goodbye, Cave. 'Til Spring, then.