A few glorious days in Glacier National Park

Last summer, we camped just west of Yellowstone National Park, and a sore throat led me to the sweet nectar of ramen from the KOA camp store. I also bought an emergency “hand stitched” fleece blanket. Last week, another sore throat led to more cheap ramen and recuperating on the sofa under that bear blanket and I got to thinking of our latest camping trip, to Glacier National Park.

Recovery on the sofa means lots of assistants

We drove the kids out to Glacier in August and lucked out, getting a campsite at Two Medicine and stayed for three nights.  Most of the camp sites in the park can’t be reserved ahead of time, and the park has gotten so popular in the last two summers that you have to troll the campsites, waiting for others to pack up.  We’re not the only ones who want to see the glaciers while they last, I suppose.

Campsite backyard
On the path to the Apistoki Falls, which we never found

91-year-old wooden boat, Sinopah, ferried us across Two Medicine lake for a chance to torture the kids with a “miserable” hike to Twin Falls

I took a ridiculous amount of pictures, but truly, if you can go, you should to experience it yourself.  The thing that stays with me is how quiet it was, and how dark the night was.  We went to sleep the second night to very strong winds rattling the tent. (Don’t worry, the bear fleece was keeping us warm.)  I woke in the night once the wind had died and there was no sound, anywhere.  No crickets or peepers or even the owls from earlier or wind or distant car traffic or generators or any other human noise.  It was the kind of silence that had a weight to it on my ears.  I was unsettled by it then, but miss it now.

Winter kill from sap rising fast in warm Chinook winds, then expanding in a sudden refreeze.

We checked out the Two Medicine area, St. Mary and Many Glacier before driving through the park on Going-to-the-Sun highway as we left.  Two Medicine lake and a spot on the far side of Swiftcurrent Lake (that edges on the Many Glacier Lodge) were my absolute favorite parts of the park, although we really only saw a fraction of it.  We did see some bears ahead of us on the road, twice, from the car, just the way I like.  The open-range cattle were more shocking, though, just hanging out in the road, right after any sharp bend.

Recent fire scars remain

 

One of the old park tour vehicles ahead on the road to St. Mary
Wildfire scars and recovery

Some of us were there for the lichen, some of us were there for the geology

When we were there, wildfires in the park had been burning for about 10 days.  No new back-country permits were being issued, and no campfires were allowed anywhere in thepark (camp stoves were still okay at campsites only) but that didn’t affect our plans at all, and we just dealt with hazy skies.

View of Saint Mary Lake, August 12, 2017, hazy from wildfire smoke

I had been hoping to see the Perseid meteor shower from our camp site, but even if they skies hadn’t been smoky, it was cloudy those nights.   We were all exhausted from hiking and playing in the river to be too disappointed about this.  The kids made sure to have their “special ramen” and made sure our neighbors knew that “ramen makes you toot.”  They were from Seattle and before leaving, they gave us a bag of Peet’s ground coffee (because we’d very sadly left ours at home) and I’m still grateful.  (I love you, Lisa!) What an amazing place in the world.  Number ten on our list, and number one in our hearts.

Hiding from the wind at Rising Sun along St. Mary Lake

 

View from the lodge at Many Glacier
The hike begins in good spirits that last a whole quarter mile.
Hiking around Swiftcurrent Lake

 

Close to the best and “worst” spot in the entire park, a beautiful wooden bride over the river into Swifcurrent Lake.  This is where a hot, 2 1/2 mile hike through stupid, gnarled trees and a failed attempt at a trail-side pee (mom’s stupid idea) came together.  No amount of Skittles could fix it.  Still pretty, though.
Ramen for mood-restoration
Back on the road, near to stop #3 for carsickness
Just after Logan’s Pass on Going-To-The-Sun Road.  Don’t worry, Wolverine poop jokes are still alive and well in this family.
Goodbye, Glacier NP.  We’re grateful for your spacious, awesome beauty.
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Jerome, Arizona

Fly into Phoenix, drive out of the airport and stop at Carolina’s, and feast on the best tacos you’ve ever had.  Get a quesadilla and know what heaven tastes like.  It’s up to you if you use the little cups for salsa, or your water cup filled to the brim like the locals.

Drive north a ways, weave through some side roads and canyons, and find your way to the abandoned Gold King Mine turned machinery graveyard/ghost town in Jerome, Arizona.

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We went this past spring and spent some time wandering through the vast collections of machinery, mining tools, buildings with mannequin inhabitants and everyone enjoyed this charming oddity.  Behold!

The man who preserved the Gold King Mine, Don Robertson, was apparently Gandalf’s own brother, and a an adventurer, collector and free-spirit.  His family is now managing the site. It was fascinating to peak in to the forgotten mine town and the things people leave behind, and I’m so glad he created it and so glad we went.

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Thanks, Don.  Jerome holds a true roadside attraction everyone should see at least once.

Visiting The Wyoming Dinosaur Center

A year and a week ago, we visited the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, and just had to go back.  I always tell people my nine-year old is “a bit of a dinosaur enthusiast,” which, while true, is an understatement, and ignores that both his father and I are even bigger nerds about it.  I mean, how often do you get to see the actual feather imprints of dinosaurs?!?

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Microraptor (early Cretaceous, China) with feathers on both upper and lower appendages. Wyoming Dinosaur Center

This year, after spending the night in Thermopolis, WY…IMG_4215 in our favorite hotel (warm cookies in the lobby in the evening) and running along the boardwalks and suspension bridge that criss-cross the World’s Largest Hot Springs, we headed over.

I kid you not, the music playing as we walked in was the same as what my husband and I walked, together, down the aisle to: Bach Cello Suite No. 4 Sarabande  (What a gift to have Nils Bultmann play at our wedding.)  I was geeking out and tried hard not to get overwhelmed before making it to the main room this year.  No luck.  It is such a phenomenal collection of specimens from the beginning of life on earth.  So much of what is on the floor is the real fossil, not casts or models, and it is mind-boggling. True, it has amazing, huge specimens of Supersaurus (“Jimbo” for those in the know) and Camarasuarus, but everything here is amazing: Stromatolites, first arthropods, fish, plants, amphibians, reptiles and on and on and on.  Absolutely worth the two (or eight, or 14) hour drive.

It’s a small museum, absolutely packed with incredible fossils. It has the most complete fossil archaeopteryx on display in North America,IMG_4272 (2)

(although The Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta has a replica of the Berlin imprint/fossil that is indistinguishable from the real one.) I made it up to a stony, fossil skeletal lystrosaurus, “the most humble badass of the triassic,” before I couldn’t absorb any more.

I handed the camera over to my six-year-old and the rest of the photos are hers.  I love seeing her view of things.

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Rhamphorhyncus, Late Jurassic
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The framing. Definitely a child of mine.

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Supersaurus in the middle, Camarasaurus rising in background

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Go see for yourselves!!

Race Report: Tri For Children Sprint, 2017

This was my FIFTH sprint!!  I decided last week to sign up.  I was getting antsy waiting for the Sugar River tri at the end of August, and looking at the training plan of brick workouts….booooring.  The weather looked promising, and some of my friends are susceptible to peer pressure, so Stefany and I signed up for an early morning 70 minute drive to beautiful, tiny Ottawa Lake yesterday.  **Note–There are no coffee shops, nearby.  *sad face* **

Had to leave at 4:30 am, so planning and organization were dialed in.  Remembered breakfast and actually ate it.

Wave #11 for the swim, and I was pukey-nervous that I didn’t have my wetsuit.  95% of my wave is suited up, and I deliberately left mine at home and have been training for this…but my inner dialog of “what even the hell were you thinking, Tiefenthaler?” is getting louder. Go for a warm-up run. Get in the water. Line up.  I make some joke about no fish around to eat whatever I’m about to vomit in the start corral, and we’re off!

And it’s fine, great even.  We’re swimming close together, the water is dark with tannins, but no weeds.  Fifty meters in, and I’m so glad I don’t have my wetsuit on—-I’m warm but not steaming up my goggles and overheating like in the past.  It’s lovely.  I’m swimming, actually swimming, and sighting and I realize I could pick up the pace, but actually settle for low and slow.  It’s amazing.

Some of the previous wave are ahead, in the swim lane or clutching to the buoy and looking exhausted.  There are no support kayaks around, so, I’m not the only one asking people as we swim past if they’re okay.  They are.

I’ve been following Stef, and actually push her toward the inner lane now.  I don’t know why.  The only hiccup is the field of water lilies we crawl through on the last stretch and I cannot stop myself from screaming like a little kid a few times.  Oh god, the swamp thing is touching meeee!  Make it through!

A minute slower than what I’ve done with a wet suit, but I know I don’t need it as a crutch any longer.  Yes!

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Onto the bike, and I’m so pumped about the swim I war-whoop as I leave.  This was an interesting bike, and the first time I’ve been disappointed in fellow athletes.  I don’t know the route, despite what I  learned at the last race, but I hear it is “flat and fast with gentle sloping.”  It is. Some new pavement, some very old, some shade, lots of farmland. It is also ridiculously crowded with both sprint and Olympic athletes doing the same course (two loops for the Olympic).  It makes me nervous—narrow country roads, tons and tons of newbie athletes including a whole wave of cancer survivors doing their very best on hybrid bikes, and a couple hundred hot-shot jerks who somehow can’t remember what it’s like to be a beginner.  It’s not a closed course–we’re on the road with vans and pickups and even semis.  TWO bikers of the hundred who pass me call out ahead of time.  Just two.  They’re flying by, no warning, a handful even cross double yellow ON HILLS, and I’m worried we’re about to see a semi cab-bike duel.  You know who’d win that.   **Elite athletes:  Clean up your act.  You were unsafe, unwelcoming, and unkind yesterday and hugely disappointing.  Pick a different race or tone it way the hell down.**

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An unnerving bike.  Told to stay left first and last miles, with a crowd who are new to the rules and a crowd of rule-breakers.  Hard to pass or be passed safely.

I stay in my drop handles the whole time, and just keep eyes are ears out for speed demons on the left and these amazing cancer warriors on the right.  Both are apt to swerve without announcement and it takes a lot of concentration.  It’s the fastest I’ve ever biked, and a relief to be done.

I messed up T2 a bit, forgetting my bib number and rack placement, not taking in any salt, hunting for a bathroom, but the win here is that I’ve gotten so used to numb hands and feet I’m calm and capable and can still tie my shoes.

The run is a struggle, as my calves are so tight I’m afraid they’re tearing in half.  Soon it’s hamstrings, too. I’m wearing my ice vest, but it thaws so quickly and starts to feel heavy and hot. My hands are on fire, but it’s a familiar feeling, and hell, it hasn’t killed me yet. It’s two out-and-back tangents and a tiny piece on a single-track grass trail.  A little shade.  Lots of water stations, thankfully.  See some familiar faces and am so grateful to be out here.  Stefany blows past me with encouragement, and I try to stick with her, but I hit the wall with a quarter mile to go.

Now, in college, my brother ran cross country, and he joked about running (it might have been a long run after a long night)…it was something like “I’m just going to lay down and die.  In a ditch.  That ditch right there.  I’m just going to lay down in that ditch and die.”

And that is all I can think at the end of this race, laying down in a ditch and dying. I know I backed off the swim a little, and twice, I relaxed on purpose on the bike, but at this point, I’ve given everything.  I’m crabby and exhausted and rip off my sun sleeves, hat and ice vest and throw them in the grass as I power by .  I don’t care if I’m DQ’d right now.

The Team Phoenix cancer survivor fans are in full force and they cheer me past the finish line.  What a privilege to race with them and their supporters.  It’s the first race I’ve ever heard my name (and Stefany cheering!) at the finish.  I did it.

I have to sit down before I fall down, have volunteers open bottles and pour water on me, and Stef gets me ice which I shove indelicately down my shorts and bra. Drink the best Coke I’ve ever had.  As rough as I was at the finish, I bounce back really fast. I am more than a little surprised by this.

We go collect all the filthy heat gear I dropped, which some kind person has gathered into one disgusting pile for me. ❤ We gather our post-race snacks from the Controlling Lunch Matron, trade in t-shirts and drift around until my mind starts working again and transition opens back up.

If you can’t tell, I’m totally hooked on this sport.  I loved being out there with all the Team Phoenix warriors and cheering them on.  I love being up early, watching the fog on the lake, getting barfy and nervous, joking, on a new beach with strangers.  I love knowing all the ways my body is alive and capable, and finding new ways to challenge myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Race Report: 2017 Lake Mills Sprint Tri

This was my fourth sprint triathlon, and definitely the hardest yet.

Three things in the last two weeks have jabbed me in the gut, hard, about the way people use social media to enhance their image by deliberately omitting the gritty/real/unattractive bits…..and it got me thinking.  I want to tell the story of this race because it wasn’t all guns and roses, or whatever.

This one was the one I wanted to quit.

I’ve had a week to think about it and I know that everything that was hard about this race, except the warm temperature, was something I created by either not being prepared, or by letting my mind get the better of me.

Anyway….Race morning, 4:30 alarm.  I’m up, confident, moving well.  Dressed and fortified with coffee and breakfast in hand, playlist specially curated by my husband starting up and I drive to pick up a friend.

“Chatty Cathy” shows up and I talk, talk, talk the whole 40 minute drive and forget to eat my breakfast (rookie mistake #1).  We arrive and bike into transition to set up.  It’s a beautiful morning.  I see the amazing elite athletes we know, and avoid them like the plague.  God bless them, but I’m a straight-up bitch and I can’t handle talking to anyone I know about anything right now.  Tell me it’s a great day to race and I will punch you in the throat.  Ask me if I’m ready and your beanbag will never be right again. Talk to me about something banal like what I’m doing later and I’ll scream obscenities.  Note to Mom, twenty-some years late:  Sorry about all the high school cross-country meets.  

I set up transition, and here, I shine.  I have got this down.  I’m pleasant with my neighbors. There’s laughter and confidence-boosting. I offer my opinion about socks or no socks when asked.  I make room for latecomers.  I am the ambassador of tri.

And now we wait.  I try to convince my friend to pee in her sleeveless wet suit on land to see if the pee will run out her leg or her arm holes first.  She declines, then goes off to warm up.  There’s no one I know in my age group, and so I mill about with strangers for 50 minutes, alternately running to warm up and flinching whenever the start count and horn goes off for the waves ahead of me.  This is exactly like HS Cross Country and “puke” describes how I feel to a T.  Someone is controlling a drone to film the event and I want so badly to have the means and the skill to kill it with a bow and arrow and watch it burst into flame and fall into the lake.  I dwell on this far too long and overstretch my hamstrings instead of drinking any water (rookie mistake #2).  I’m failing at calm.

I finally get in my wet suit, and get in the water to warm up and my heart-rate skyrockets.  Calm the f*ck down, Tiefenthaler. I back float for a while and think about staying in the roped-off swim area forever.

My wave.  Thank god for earplugs that dampen the whole experience because it is beyond overwhelming right now.  I’m positioned close to the front on the outside edge and the gun goes off.  Beach start. We run in and it’s a nice quick drop-off so we’re swimming right out the gate.  For three seconds, I’m holding my own, and then it’s chaos.  Now, I believe my age group, women 30-39 are some of the nicest racers out there.  They don’t deliberately kick you and if they do, they take a second to apologize during the swim.  However, this is the biggest group I’ve ever swam with, it is a full-body press, and I suddenly can’t remember how to swim.  I’m doing a sort of head-up beginner crawl my six-year-old knows.  I’m thinking “ice cream scoop hands” and then I take and elbow to the head and breathe in the lake.  I come back up, disoriented.  We’re only halfway to the first buoy and I’m mentally done.  I’m overheating and let water in my suit over and over and think “And that’s how you get swimmer’s itch in your crotch.” I drift along and let most of the group go. It’s not until midway that I actually start swimming again.  I’m not the best at judging distance, but this is at least 20% too long.  Longest ten minutes of my life.  Excepting all those minutes of birthing my children. Maybe.

Transition.  Shake it off.  Thought there was a water station at the transition entrance.  There is.  But no cups–it’s for you to refill your water bottle with?  How? Get on the bike with just half a bottle of water and can’t remember the way out. (Mistakes #3  and 4.)

The bike course is beautiful.  I’ve studied the map, but haven’t ridden the course, even in the car, and immediately, I see this is another mistake, especially since the course doesn’t have any mile markers.  The road is smooth, with giant divots and cracks now and then, but it’s distractingly beautiful out here.  I see herons and sandhill cranes, adorable chicken coops and wide open farm fields. The adrenaline from the swim is fading and I’m running out of steam.  I run out of water by mile 6-ish.  Very big mistake.  I knew there were no aid stations out here and yet, here I am, ten miles to go with a dry mouth and an unsettled mind.  It’s gentle, rolling hills, and excepting the young bucks on $6000 bikes rocketing past me, I’m alone.  I never expected to be alone so much in triathlon.  Just me and my (now, toxic) thoughts for miles and miles.  I give myself a weak pep-talk, which peters out when I have to wipe the dry-mouth cotton off my teeth and think about how I’ve never, not once, washed these year-old cooling arm-sleeves. Ew.

And then my stomach goes volcanically numb.  I don’t know how else to describe it, but it is the final warning flag for me that I’ve gotten too hot.  It usually goes along the path of the initial nerve damage I got from MS:  Right hand goes tingly, then I lose my grip, left foot goes tingly, then numb, right hand starts on fire, right foot goes numb and then this sort of firework display in my right, low stomach.  This time, it went immediately to highest alert.  And I start to cry.  I can’t do this. It’s too fucking hot and I’m so stupidly unprepared.  If I use the drop handles at all, both legs go numb.

For the second time this race, I quit.

And yet—how can I?  There’s no shade.  There’s not even a ditch to lay down and die in (This is exactly what I’m looking for.)  If I stop biking, it will only get worse, all alone in the beating sun on a remote country highway.

I keep biking.

I get it together for a bit.  The numbness spreads.  I cry again.  I come up on a guy with his whole leg taped up who is moving even slower than I am.  I pass him going maybe 6 mph and tell him to catch me.  He does and we leap-frog our way down the course.  I see a course sign that is just an arrow, but looks like a giant one, and even though we’re four or five miles out I interpret this as “one mile left” and kick my own butt into gear for a while.  I am beyond thirsty.  All I know is hot pain.

And there’s still three miles to go.

I cry on the way in to transition, drop my bike against the fence since the rack, and my spot, is full, and sit down and sob.  I pull on my ice vest and, of course, there’s no spare water bottle packed.  What even??

I quit. Again.

Except…how?  Take the timing chip off and give it to…who?  Where? Saying what exactly?  “This sucks and I’m done.”?  Just pack up and go to my car?  I drove someone else here.  And here is one of the very few times in life that being a non-confrontational introvert helps me—I don’t know how to quit, so I can’t quit.

I tie my shoes and get the fuck up and walk out of transition in tears.  I mercifully walk past the finish line and grab a water bottle over the fence. There’s no shame in walking….so I start running.  The numbness fire in my belly has morphed into regular old cramps and I laugh out loud, alone on a trail in the woods because hell if I can’t handle those.  God bless periods.  I walk.  I run.  I know the course from watching last year and I feel more comfortable now that the trees provide some cover.  Herons fish alongside the berm. It’s a gorgeous day. The mosquitoes are hovering so I don’t even think of lying down to die in a ditch.  A runner coming back in has a t-shirt on that says “GET UP” and I nod.  I see my biking pal with all the KT tape and keep him in my sight.  I try some Gatorade-like stuff at the aid station and cough it right back up. All glamour, all the time.  I finally pass the tape-guy and tell him one last time to catch up.   I run the last stretch in tears.

I finish.

I did it.  Despite all the mistakes and all the doubts.  I finished.* I quit again and again. I’m never doing it again.

Well…until next weekend, anyway.

*Here’s the thing.  Despite all that, I still finished three minutes faster than I had figured I could do it, best-case scenario. Perhaps, I’m stronger and more capable than I thought. Perhaps you are too.

I found my uneaten breakfast and two full water bottles in the van.  Training on a hybrid bike forever gives a bit of an advantage when you then race on a much lighter road bike.  The best way to train for swimming with a pack is swimming with a pack. I need a sleeveless or shortie wetsuit to stay cool. Travelling with someone to the race just might keep me from quitting.  A second and third water-bottle cage is a good idea, but actually putting the water in the one I’ve got is better.  Biking the course beforehand, or driving it in a pinch, is a must.  

Through it all, I remembered the advice someone gave me before my first race:  Look up.  Enjoy it.  You GET to do this.  

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One night and a hike in Sedona

We spent just enough time in the charming Sedona last week to make me wish we lived there.  We started the morning in Phoenix and drove north to visit Montezuma Castle National Monument, or rather two of us did and the one with pneumonia and I drooped our way back to the car and drank juice and coughed until it was time to go.  I got just enough of a look to be amazed, and realize any pictures I took made it look like a doll house in the rocks. Guy overheard a teenager lie to his sister that this was Montezuma’s summer home.  *snort*  

We drove on through Jerome (more on that coming soon) and finally made it to Sedona just in time to be crushed to realize The Red Planet Diner is no longer.  We mourned the loss of Space Junk, the entree, then found a worthy replacement at MoonDog’s Pizza.  Granted, we were starving, but I’m still pretty sure the pizza and ancho chicken sandwich and spaghetti were great.  I wanted to ask the owner if he was Moondog, expecting some old hippie, and was grateful I didn’t….because we heard a pack of coyotes singing and chattering three times that night and I put it together.  Aha.  Moondogs are coyotes.  See, here, we hear a couple coyotes do a low howl now and then, but the moondogs in Sedona have a LOT to say.  Especially at the full moon.

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Moonrise over Sedona

Even after a night filled with coyotes, snoring, and two coughing kids, we were sufficiently reenergized by breakfast at Nick’s to go on a short hike before the day heated up.  We headed to Boynton Canyon in a designated Red Rock Secret Wilderness of the Coconino National Forest to hike the Vista trail for the supposed vortex at the end.  We’ll take all the good mojo we can get for the Peanut. Perfect for us.  Gorgeous and restorative, and only one of us needed a piggy-back ride back to the trail head. We’ll go back again and hike some more of those beautiful red rocks for sure.

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After a roadside picnic, we piled back in the car for a drive along Oak Creek Canyon, a thirteen-mile stretch I remember well from the first time my husband and I drove it; I was pregnant and the curves and the dizzyingly close canyon walls were intense and nauseating.  This was a much easier drive.  We stopped at the canyon rim and got a chance to get out and look back….and promise to come back again soon.  Thanks, Sedona!

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Dinosaurs of Arizona

The other main reason we went to Arizona last week was to see dinosaurs.  The dino-philes amongst us had heard there were some fine Triassic fossils, models and murals spread throughout Arizona.  Some of us researched how and where to see every last dinosaur and dinosaur-like creature in the state.  We also brought some of our own and showed them around.

Now, my kids were beyond bored with the amazing facts about the Grand Canyon, including the that the top layer of earth there is Kaibab limestone, rock older than the dinosaurs.  As you proceed down the canyon, the rock gets even older, with the deepest part of the canyon being 1.5 Billion, with a “B” years old!! (Vishnu and Zoroaster formations. Geonerds, check out this awesome geologic map of Arizona. )

Of more interest was the rock formations left from the early and late Triassic periods (Moenkopi and Chinle) for the Postosuchus and the Coelophysis fossils they contain.  (That’s “crocodile from past” and a 10-foot-long bipedal, carnivorous early dinosaur.)

We looked high and low and this is what we found…

In Flagstaff’s Museum of Northern Arizona

In Petrified Forest National Park and the park’s Rainbow Forest Museum, Arizona

 

At the Museum of Natural History of Mesa

*What a gem of a museum.  The Dinosaur Mountain exhibit is several stories high and combines geologic layers of rock with animatronic dinosaurs, animal, and plant life from the corresponding age.  The flight exhibit was also a bit jumbled, but worth visiting.  Not pictured is the Dino Zone, a room for kids to touch, climb and explore around life-size models of  a stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and triceratops set in front of realistic background murals where my children spent more time than the rest of the museum combined, crawling in and out of a tube.  Because they were raised by animals.*

And then there was The Good, The Bad and The Ugly:

 

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Some of us see dinosaurs everywhere 

May you too find dinosaurs wherever you look.

The Grand Canyon, April 2017

Ostensibly, this recent trip was about taking the kids to see the Grand Canyon….and they both thought it was a total dud.  I joked beforehand with a friend who had taken her young kids about the whining, “Moooom.  We’ve been here twenty minutes and haven’t even seen a condor yet. Lame.”  In reality, it was less than a minute, no lie, before my six-year-old daughter turned to me and said “I can’t believe we drove a HALF HOUR to see this.”  (Bless her heart.  We actually took a week vacation, a four hour flight and did five hours combined, driving, to get here…but still.)

I’ll put up lots more from our trip in the following days, but here’s some of the best pictures from our morning at the Canyon.  For your viewing pleasure, none of the wilting or whining or “mood enhancers” (Jolly Ranchers, handed out at desperate times,) are included.  But, there IS a condor!

I haven’t enhanced or filtered any of these, only cropping one and spot-removing grit form three images.  The colors of the canyon are muted in the morning and develop as the sun moves overhead.  If you’re not eight and/or hot, tired,crabby, or generally miserable, it would be amazing to stay the day and watch the colors of the rocks “change”.

No Xmas Cards

Are you flooded with catalogs already?  I am. It starts in October and turns to a deluge. Toys. Puffy vests. Plaids. Glitter. Shiny. It’s like a war-boy’s death approaches, all this chrome in my mail box.

After my fifth sample Minted card with foil-pressed letters, I’ve decided not to do Christmas cards this year.  They’re too precious.  Too ostentatious.  Gold foil??  I’d be delighted to receive such a beautiful card.  I love getting pictures of people’s gorgeous families, and especially love the ones where someone is not thrilled about being in the picture.  But I ‘m not wading through gallery choice of gold foil and glitter and the staging the perfect picture of my kids this year.

I’m not putting on our annual Solstice Spectacular, either.  Last year I tried to go small for the holidays and it still felt like too much.  Maybe it’s a bah-humbug kind of year, but I actually just have hope that it will be calm and lovely instead of garish and rushed and overdone.  Maybe.  There’s always a chance I’ll give up and lay down on a shelf in Target like the priest in the window on Easter morning in Chocolat.

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#spiritanimal

What are holiday cards for?  Well-wishing for the season and new year?  Plus a little piece of something beautiful and peaceful?  Well, here you all go.  I hope you are well this holiday season.  I hope you find moments with your loved ones that make all the external noise disappear.  I hope you have time for hot chocolate and that you experience the joy and wonder that my kids do at the first snow.  And as for a little piece of something pretty, this is what caught my eye looking through this year’s pictures so far, in no particular order.  Enjoy and happy, early holidays.

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Let’s Go For a Ride
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Out for a run
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First snow
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Forward
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Sunset
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Sunset with a beverage
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To the Parthenon!
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Big Sky Country
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Sky Over Yellowstone in August

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Adventurers

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A girl and her millipede, out for a walk
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Phi and Ox-Bow, somewhere over Louisiana
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The Best of New Orleans
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Just passing through

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Traditional Crafting
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Home
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“Did you see the famly of Ammonites on the Beach??”
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May you find what you’re looking for this season and new year.