Ingrid Michaelson’s music is jumpy and folksy and fun, and I love singing it! My Drunk Kitchen videos, you make me smile..and chuckle, and Hana is pretty cute. Beards, why am I so attracted to you? Biscoff spread, you are so creamy and delicious, and have made breakfast more of a treat. Taking a walk (sometimes arm in arm, cause I hate holding hands, with a special someone) down a tree-lined lane, through a park, or around beautiful neighborhoods can be the highlight of my day. Dogs, you are the best of pals (as long as you don’t shiver, slobber, or shed excessively). Riding my pretty plum bike down the lane, with the sun shining down on me, and my hair streaming behind me sets my heart aflutter! Mexican food, why are you so delicious and tasty? The taste buds want what the hips don’t need! Regina Spektor makes the most beautiful, and the most weird songs! Being completely surrounded by nature let’s my soul breathe. Autumn, you are the most beautiful, most fragrant season of all! A night of drinking the most amazing beers on the planet surrounded by wonderful people stands out as the best night of the year! Cuddling on the couch while watching a movie is the most relaxing thing on this planet. Cheese, cheese pleasin’ me, you’re so yummy! Evanescence, Flyleaf, and Dropkick Murphys, we have such fun together! Reading books, and having the scene play out in my head, getting lost in another world; there’s nothing quite like it. A genuinely good conversation, with a genuine person, makes me feel intelligent, heard, and cared for. Going on an amazing adventure, even if my destination is only 60 miles away, fills my spirit. Anything Joss Whedon is good, and don’t even get me started on Firefly! Nathan Fillion is my celebrity crush, and Felcia Day is such fun. Soaking in a bathtub, and coming out with the smoothest skin…the best.
After my jaunt across a few states, I decided to make my way south. See, my Mom was in the hospital and wanted to see me, and there’s no way to get around that. Therefore, I spent a week in Texas at my Gramps’ house, going back and forth every day to the hospital to visit my Mom. I hate hospitals, and doctors, and my Mom is fine now, so let’s not talk about that. The one truly awesome thing was that week was the first time that I have ever got to spend time with my Gramps, and it be just the two of use. He reminisced about his childhood, and when he was first married to my Gram. He told stories, and spoke in German (That’s the first time I’ve ever heard him do that. He’s 1st generation American, and I grew up saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ in German, but that was about it.), we watched countless western movies which I organized for him. So much John Wayne and Tom Selleck (Tom Selleck is in a crazy amount of westerns), and it was amazing to see his face light up at the ridiculous situations in the really old John Wayne movies. We talked about problems, family, and life. It was the most amazing visit! Afterwards, since I was so close, I went to see my sister and her family in Louisiana. I met my new little niece and rode bikes with my nephew and read to him before bed. My sister and I had a heart to heart talk, during which she confirmed something that I was fearing. One may become disillusioned about past loves, but one never forgets them. We talked about her new family, and her happiness, and we talked about my fears. I don’t think that I have ever missed my sister so much.
After seeing my family, I spent a day in New Orleans. Just a day. I strolled around the French Quarter, had some lunch, indulged in coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde. In the middle of the afternoon, I realized that I didn’t want to be there by myself. Some things really are better when they’re shared with another person. I will make it back there soon, though. I don’t care so much about the French Quarter. I want to see the houses in the Garden District and the morbid beauty of the cemeteries. I will go there again, someday.
I have finally reached St. Louis, though I don’t know yet know if I am to stay. I am doing my best to embrace my past troubles, to face them, and to move on. In some cases, easier said then done. I didn’t learn very much about myself that I didn’t already know. I’m completely comfortable going on a walk-about alone, though sometimes, if the company is right, it is most welcome. I’ve learned to take my time with things. An adventure should have no schedule, especially not one that must be followed absolutely. I learned not to stress over money. I’ve never had much, I don’t need much to be happy, and more can always be attained in some honest way. I learned to breathe, and take the time to truly enjoy the beauty surrounding me. More than once on this trip, my breath was taken away, more than once I was in awe at the grandeur of this land. I learned that memories made with family is more important and more precious than any job. I learned that I treasure my friends, and they truly treasure me; that where I see weakness, they see strength. I have been asked twice about how I feel being back. Well, I have mixed emotions about that. I am overjoyed to see my beloved friends, but I feel as though I’m returning a failure. There’s not much I can do to make that feeling go away, other than look for a new start, and go after things that make me happy. Well, to share some wisdom I received at the Grand Canyon, one day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth seeing.
The last natural attraction I visited was the Petrified Forest coupled with the Painted Desert. After the grandeur of the Grand Canyon and Yosemite, and the beauty of the trees in Kings Canyon, it felt like a bit of a let down. However, it was on the way, and an easy drive through the park to connect back with the highway. I was under the impression that the place would be absolutely covered with petrified trees, but alas, there was only one small clump. Apparently, when the natural beauty of the park was discovered people began flocking there and taking pieces of it with them. This all began in earnest when Route 66 was finished, and people started blowing the trees apart to get to the beautiful gems inside. I was quite saddened to learn all of this. It’s not as though I make a serious effort to “stand in the way of progress”, but the rate at which humans are tearing apart the planet and converting forest into skyscrapers is sickening.
Sorry. I’m stepping down from my soapbox now. As the price of admission is only $10, it’s worth a look-see if you’re in the area. Happy travels, and enjoy the photos!
After having lunch with my cousins (hey ya’ll) I continued on the road to the Grand Canyon. After being in the desert like Valley of Fire, I was forced to don my favorite crocheted poncho to ward off the chill as I headed towards the rim for my first glimpse at the power of nature. And it was powerful. However, it seemed my visit was ill-timed, because there was a maintenance forest fire in one of the national forests north of the canyon. Needless to say, the first thing I saw was a great cloud of smoke and some colorful haze since the smoke settled into the canyon as the sun was setting, only to lift late morning. I made my way to the campground (I originally planned on staying at a hotel in Flagstaff since it was said that I might not be able to get a space without a reservation, but it turns out that people don’t flock to the canyon in late October) and set up my tent nestled amongst a small stand of pine trees. As had become my practice, I woke at dawn and hurried to catch the views and get some errands done. I spent the rest of the day hiking around the rim, and catching the free shuttle towards the west where I was finally able to get some smoke free shots. That evening I attended a ranger presentation, and then a lantern lit walk in the cemetery where a ranger dressed in period costume and told the story of one of the first pioneers in the first person. It was extremely entertaining and a memory I will treasure. While the Grand Canyon was beautiful, I don’t really see how people visit it every year. Perhaps if I go with a loved one who has never seen it before I would go again, other than that, I can wait a good 20 years. The next day, I was to leave to visit the last natural attraction on this particular road trip, but boy was my visit grand!
After a long day driving through the empty desert, I finally reached the Valley of Fire outside of Las Vegas. I approached the rock walls just as the sun was setting, and indeed the rock rose from the ground like a growing flame. It was something to behold, and though I was alone, I even exclaimed aloud at the sight of it. I finished setting up camp as dusk approached, and ate dinner in the dark, enjoying the gentle cool breeze. I awoke just before sunrise, and set out to view the effect of the light changing the large rocks around me. The Valley of Fire was certainly the most beautiful place I visited. I was still extremely sore from my ‘jaunt’ in Kings Canyon, and I was feeling under the weather besides, so any hiking or extensive walking around was canceled. I basically drove around, took a bazillion pictures, and wandered back to my campsite to write in my journal and listen to oldies on my shower radio. All in all, I wouldn’t have missed seeing the Valley of Fire for anything! Not only was I finally able to take a shower, thank God, but I saw solid fire. The next day, I drove out of the park at sunrise, heading towards the Grand Canyon and smelling like one hot mama.