Saturday, November 30, 2013

one last hike: Corona Arch

I don't know.  At first I thought maybe some of the magic and fun is no longer in these jumping shots.  But now I am glad to have this photo because we all look happy and full of energy.  I forget every year how Moab vacations can be tiring.  All the hiking, all the constant spent energy of being outside, the Jeep rides are even tiring even though we are just riding around.  We would end our adventures fairly early, say around 4 or 5 in the afternoon, this after leaving the house at about noon.

We decided to go on one more hike on this last day of ours in Moab.  It was a hard decision because all of the easy hikes are in the national park which we decided to avoid this year due to the crowds.  There is plenty to do in the area without entering either of the national parks or even the state park.  Finally we settled on Corona Arch, a three mile round trip hike.  We probably only did two miles as the last bit is treacherous with a little one but that wasn't without a spectacular view of the Corona Arch.  Have you heard of it?  The one with that can be rigged with a rope swing?

We all were fairly exhausted and snapping at each other, but also knowing that the best remedy for it is fresh air.  The grumpy adults knew it, the sullen child just got dragged along, up and away from the Colorado River and over the train tracks.

Did I say the last bit was treacherous? Well, some people, mainly the grandparents in our lives, would say the entire hike was treacherous.  It didn't seem that way to me until I stopped to think about it for awhile.  The only little kids we saw were babies on people's backs.  That should have been our first clue, but we're not good at picking up clues like that.  I got a lot of strange looks, I suppose it was because I looked like I had decided to bring my purse with me - city girl! - but really it was my camera bag and with it I was better poised to take photos than if I had it in a bag strapped to my back.

D and I took turns leading Lotus Bud over the rocks.  She was a good sport, mostly, although it did take a little while to convince her that neither one of us could carry her.

Eventually though, like nearly every square feet of Moab, we got to some incredibly beautiful spots.

This place was full of little caves like this one, the beginnings of arches that will be arches in another thousand years of time.

We stopped in a relatively flat spot to take some photos, not realizing that our turnaround spot was just around the bend.  I knew it when I saw the second safety cable that led straight up the rock.

There were steps cut into the slickrock, but there was no way that Bud was going to make it up.  (I didn't think to take a picture of it, but you can see the rock in the photo above.  It's the steeply sloped rock right behind where I am crouched down, so I would turn here and climb my way up. ETA: found a photo of the safety cable)  Pity because from there on out (with the exception of a short ladder) the path is flat all the way to the base of the arch.

None of us were disappointed that we couldn't go any further.  The view was incredible from where we were standing.  From here we could take it all in.

Don't know what I mean when I say "safety cable"?  Here's a photo of the first one taken while on our way out of the area.  I look forward to next year when she might be able to do more of this on her own, but I don't know if I will ever get over watching her on ledges without fear in my throat.  I told her that if she ever decides to try to rope swing off Corona Arch that she is not tell me about until after.  Her dad, though, might want to come along.

We made it safely back to the river.  Our Jeep is covered in mud.  Our clothes are packed away.

It's time to head home.  Goodbye, Moab.
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it's time to go home

We've had a good trip, full of adventure in the glorious rocky, rugged beauty of Moab.  We're all tired and ready to go home.  Goodbye, Utah.  See you next year.

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Friday, November 29, 2013

mad cow

The day would have been a bust if it wasn't for this cow.


The day started wet but no actual rain and the Jeep trail started with beauty.  We were energized by the outstanding trip on thanksgiving, we were hopeful and looking forward to the destination: Picture Frame Arch, a supposedly great place for kids.  This trail was rated easier than Tusher Tunnel yet it was in wilder country.

Jolting and bumpy, rugged and beautiful for about an hour, up until we reached the arch.  We quickly found ourselves in a serious situation, literally on the edge of a trail rated the second most difficult in the Moab area: metal-crushing, tip-over potential ledges and all.

We stopped at the picture frame arch to assess our situation, hoping still to enjoy the destination at least.  But no, there was no safe way to walk up to the arch.  Looking at it from a distance was overwhelmed with thoughts of how to get out without damage, which in the end was no big deal, just a wee bit terrifying for this Minneapolis mama.

We got out without incident, of course, and were happily making our way to the main road when we encountered our next obstacle.

Veteran Jeepers would, no doubt, laugh at my fear.  The thing that makes situations like this difficult for me is that usually we are out in the middle of nowhere all by ourselves.  Many Jeepers do trails like these as group outings such as the Jeep safaris, where there are plenty of experts and spotters around to guide and help if something were to go terrifyingly wrong.  Not once when we have been in a situation has there been anyone else around.

Despite the less than ideal conditions, there were no tears shed by me.  I was relieved when D agreed to the suggestion that we just return to town rather than continue to the Lookout point 8.5 miles down the road (doing just 8.5 miles would have added at least another hour, one-way).

Back in town I proceeded to seek out shopping therapy while Bud and D headed to the playground.  I further drowned my woes in a fresh-line margarita, well-deserved I think.

Tomorrow is our last day and all we have planned is a hike starting just a couple miles out of town.

Today's words?  Terror, anxiety, relief, hilarity, drunkenness.

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

tunnel vision

We sure know how to celebrate a holiday, if I do say so myself.

The Thanksgiving Day plan was to take a jeep trail to Tusher Tunnel, listed in the trail book as "easy."  But the thing to keep in mind is that "easy" is a relative term.  Weather and road conditions can vary dramatically based on season.  In the past, we've found ourselves in severe trouble on supposedly easy trails.  Now we are extra cautious with the Lotus Bud strapped into the back seat.

I can honestly say that this was the best jeep trip we have ever taken.  The trail was rocky at times and just bumpy enough to make it feel like a vehicular adventure.  The destination was spectacular, it surpassed all my expectations.

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attitude of gratitude


I feel so much gratitude for all the people in my life, all my family and friends, all my teachers and mentors.  I feel gratitude for all the dreams that have manifest this last year of my life, my photography, my board work, the teaching opportunities.  I also feel gratitude for all that has challenged me, helping me grow, engaging me with the world again.

I smile through tears of gratitude and joy for my daughter.  There is a small poster on the wall in this Moab condo: "Most people don't know that there are angels whose only job is to make sure you don't get too comfortable and fall asleep and miss your life."  She is this angel.

Most of all I feel gratitude for my husband Dave.  Without him I would never have these opportunities to dream.  I would never have the chance to know love and give love and be loved.

It has been a happy thanksgiving.
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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

gaining a perspective on the present


Both daylight savings and mountain time zone came together to give us a pleasantly disorienting sense of time.  We did a whole lot and a whole lot of nothing.  We avoided the national parks and sought out quieter spots on the Colorado river. We found a completely empty recreational area and we found our silly.  We considered many perspectives: ancient, height, wild, wet, fractured, patient, cloudy.

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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

getting into the right frame of mind


Usually we arrive in Moab, Utah late a night, desperate to be off the road, hungry, anxious, tired, etc.  This time was entirely different from any time before because we spent the previous night just three hours away in Colorado.  We took the scenic drive which was stunning, beautiful and, ahem, curvaceous.  Some of us were feeling a wee bit carsick despite the majesty of our environment.  The Big D pulled off the road by a Colorado River boat-launch and we all tried to acclimate.  It took me a while to adjust to my camera, after spending a couple of days with D's iphone.*

I wasn't feeling it for quite awhile.  Clicking here and there, struggling with the angle of the sun, facing upriver, wanting to capture it all but never coming close.

You can't tell from this photo that she's just now off the edge of vomit.  D got her throwing rocks into the river, the fresh air plied its healing, and the shutter sounds picked up speed.

It wasn't until I turned down river that I felt the magic flow around me.  Technically not the best image, heart-fully the one that was perfect.  I guess I needed to submit to the river current.  Everything started to sparkle.

I saw Dave start to blend into the landscape.

The wind brought these buds to a shiver.  I wanted to capture the red/orange rock of the area in a different way than I have done before.

I wanted to see if I could represent its grandeur from a different angle, as an all-encompassing backdrop which in a very real way is true, just very difficult to capture.

So what did I learn?  I leaned into the direction of the river current.  I changed my background visions.  And I decided to sweat the small stuff.

I have enjoyed these photos so much that I want to find a place in town to print them out for my journal which is actually harder than it sounds.

This is how vacation should be: full of wonder, rest, marvel, love, learning, flow.

*  Taking photographs for a 365 project with the iphone is a totally different experience than with my DSLR.  I was a bit more conservative with my captures and was thinking a lot longer about getting that one shot which represented the glories of the day.  I wonder if I should get me a smart phone and try another 365 project for 2014?

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Earth, Wind and Beer

It seems like this trip is about knocking off items on my life list*, or in this case, working towards working off items: sample 50 microbrews.  I have actually had quite a few that I haven't recorded because microbrews are all the rage these days.  Nonetheless I like recording the ones I sample on vacation.

This brewery is in Salt Lake City and we are from that place, but this beer was available in the Moab grocery store so into my cart it went.  I do like brown beers but this one is a bit bitter; bitter yet totally drinkable.  I guess I learned enough to say that the bitter comes from the hops.  The bristlecone is apparently the oldest living organism.  A beer that educates!

It was fun to find this under the cap.

* Two other items on my life list are hikes, one to the Delicate Arch (a somewhat rigorous 6 mile hike) and Horseshoe Canyon (only 3 miles, but the last 3/4 mile is climbing out of the canyon, and you all remember what happened there?).  I'm not ready to do either of these on this trip.  Reason to come again and again!
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Therapy in a pool

Every year we drive two long days across  Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, and into Utah.  Every year we drive past this enormous pool in Glenwood Springs, the spa of the Rockies.  I have yearned to put my body in this pool for many, many years.  It is a yearning worthy of a life list.

I couldn't let the opportunity pass me by again.  We decided to break up our long drive, extend it by a day, and spend the night in room not far from the pool.

I honestly did not expect to enjoy it as much as I did.  It was well worth the forty dollars it cost our family for therapy in this pool.  Unexpected bonus: going for a dip just after the sun set.

With the steam rising into the thirty degree temperatures and Jupiter shining brightly down on us, the entire experience seemed like a blessing. In truth, it was magical!

The temperature of the water from Yampah Spring is 122 degrees F.  The larger of the two pools, 400x100 feet, was cooled to 93 degrees. The smaller  (ha!) is 100x100 and cooled to 104 degrees. 14 minerals come into the pool courtesy of the hot spring.

I talk a lot with my daughter about making wise choices and being kind. Tonight we made a very wise choice and we were very kind to our bodies!

Lotus list - check.
Strong family connection - check.
A new family tradition - definitely.

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Getting through Iowa

It is good to be on the road again.

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

the cold is settling in

I took these photos early this morning right before I left for the University.  It's the last class I will teach this year.  I'm glad to be done and a little bit sad that I won't see many of these students again.  However, I was told that my return for the Spring courses is based on my availability.  I do believe I will make room in my schedule for this continued opportunity.

And talking about schedules - I vow to manage my time better in December.  It's a good time to begin putting new habits in place for how I want to live in the new year.  I am already feeling overwhelmed by the new responsibilities in my life and these are just weeks old.

Tomorrow morning we leave for Utah at 5am.  I'm looking forward to leaving the city, leaving the cold and leaving my calendar.  I am going to carve out some time for me to explore the new directions in my life and consider whether they intersect with my passions.  This will be the focus of my nightly journaling.  I think by squaring away some ideas about my values and dreams, I will feel a renewed sense of commitment.  I hope to come back with a stronger sense of my path and a stronger connection to my family.  I will drive thousands of miles away to find myself again.  

I also plan to come back with a new knitted hat and leg warmers for the lotus bud.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

the not-chosen photos

Little Lotus Bud had her first set of school pictures.  The smile is crooked because these photos were taken just days after her allergic reaction to the antibiotics.  I considered buying these anyway remembering the album of school photos that my parents had kept.  In the end, we decided against them but here I still have a record of it.

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

pinecone turkey

After an extremely heated meeting last night, I come to realize the joy of these little things.  My kiddo is away right now on trip to the MN Arboretum with her friend Ella and Ella's mom.  She decided she wanted to do this on her own. I asked her to make wise decisions and to be kind.  Her only concern was that she didn't know how to drive the Jeep.  I assured her that Ella's mom could handle all the driving.

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new hat

The new hat will help to keep her warm, this child of mine who is so adverse to coats.

Why do I feel shame when people ask me if I knit that hat or these gloves?  Perhaps I should think about the fact that they believe my skill is sufficient for making such lovely things.  But alas, it is not and nor do I have the time.

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lower in the sky

This time of year the sun is lower in the sky and there is significantly less sunlight during the day.  Yet, I am pleased by the angle of sun as it comes through the windows of my house.  There are very few months where I can enjoy it at this angle.  Rather than focus on the decline of the sun, I am going to relish the new brightness and warmth.

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The region is on the verge of deep cold and possibly some snow.  The nation is just several days from a big holiday and the impending doom of overspending on black friday.  I am trying not to get caught up in the heated nature of our cooperative board meetings.  I have just one more day of teaching left.  I will be on the road 5am on Sunday morning for our trip to Utah.

Tranquility?  I need to soak some up before I become overwhelmed before the big wave of responsiblities washes over me.  I don't want to drown in anxiety.

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