Walking the Grand Canyon

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The Grand Canyon plays a large part in my book. It’s used as the backdrop for Katie’s dream world and becomes important in her real life, too. It was on my bucket list and I finally got there about six years ago. We stayed in Grand Canyon Village and were able to explore the canyon rim. Since we were there for only one night, this was the best place to start. One of the first places you come to on the rim walk in the village is Lookout Studio. This stone structure has great views of the canyon from every window plus an outdoor deck.

Its neighbor is Kolb Studio, built by Emery and Ellsworth Kolb. Perched on the canyon’s rim, it looks like it could topple into the canyon but don’t worry, it’s solidly built. This is where my character, Drew, interned during the summer of 1927. In my posted picture you can see how it looked during that time. Notice the word “toll” in front of road on the Angel Bright Trail sign. The park didn’t have rights to that path yet. It led to the bottom of the canyon and was controlled by Ralph Cameron, a powerful U.S. Senator. He charged $1 for its use. The park eventually won control of the trail in 1928. Drew took Katie for a walk on this path and she was surprised they had to pay. She longed to tell him there was no longer a fee and the park had control of this famous trail.

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I don’t want to get too educational so I’ll fill you in a little on my second visit to the canyon. This time we stayed longer and I had more time to explore. I was determined to walk down some of Angel Bright but there had been an unusually late snowstorm a few days before we got there and the path was covered in slush and mud, mostly in the shady areas of the trail. We traveled down a small portion and finally gave up. I guess I’ll have to wait until my third trip.

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The day was bright and sunny, in the mid-sixties, and we were able to cover a lot of ground. I finally got to visit Yavapai Point and take the bus to other stops throughout the canyon. My favorite was Trailview Overlook where you could look straight down at Angel Bright and see the switchbacks zigzagging down into the canyon.

Wish you could walk this path but don’t think you’ll ever get to Arizona? Or maybe you’re like me; you don’t think your knees would hold up? Well, there is a way you can still go on this hike and never have to leave home.

I bought a box of Nature Valley granola bars awhile back and on the package it said you could walk the canyon by going to their website. I quickly opened the laptop, entered the website and a beautiful picture of the Grand Canyon appeared.(Use the link I provided if you wish.) I clicked on “Explore the Grand Canyon”; then “choose your trail” and viola! I was there. The walk begins at the bottom of the canyon and ascends to the top. If you have the finger stamina and can keep navigating the right way, you’ll make it to the top. I have to admit I never did, but am not giving up. Maybe I didn’t take enough water with me…

Google maps have now added the trail to their website. I tried hiking Angel Bright from various points because you can jump on wherever you wish, but I think I kept going around in circles! Still, it was fun to try.

So whether you get there in person or visit via the websites, I highly recommend a visit to the Grand Canyon.

President Theodore Roosevelt said it best. “Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see.”

National Parks are our country’s treasures and once you see the Grand Canyon, you’ll know why it needs to be preserved and protected. If some senator had his way, there’d be mines in its walls, dams across its waters and homes built on the rim for only a few to enjoy its majestic beauty. Some forward thinking individuals had the common sense to stop that from happening. I, for one, am eternally grateful.

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Pet Peeves

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My mother blamed the return on my father. She said he was allergic. In hindsight, he probably was because it seems I’m allergic to everything now. Found that out later in life and maybe would have sooner if we had kept the little ball of fur.

Dad was a good father and even with his aversion to cats, he let his girls have their wish. Mom is the one who put her foot down and said the cat had to go. She wasn’t an animal person at all. That was the family’s first experience with a pet.

The next time I was allowed to have a pet was for one of my birthdays. I may have been in Junior High School, a preteen, at the time and so excited to finally have a dog in my life. We went to the Animal Protective League—a shelter for dogs and cats. I picked out a little pup that looked like a beagle and immediately named him Snoopy. I loved the Peanuts cartoon and Snoopy was my favorite.

Snoopy, the puppy, was a crier and our family wasn’t schooled in how to train a pet so there were lots of bathroom accidents in the house. I woke up one morning to find Snoopy in a large wastebasket. My mother put him there because she didn’t know what else to do. Snoopy’s days were numbered after that and I think he lasted about three days, too. He was taken back to the APL and I said a tearful good-bye.

Don’t worry; there is a happy ending to this story. I got my wish of having a pet. It finally happened when I graduated from high school. My boyfriend got me a French Poodle. He kept Pepper at his house until after my party. His mother said she’d keep him if I wasn’t allowed. That may have motivated my mother to try harder this time and Pepper made it past the three day test. In fact, my mom pretty much let him do anything he wanted and my dad indulged his every whim. He ended up being their dog more than mine. It was a good thing because Pepper kept Mom company until his final days after everyone moved out of the house and Dad passed away.

I have to think long and hard before I put pets in any of my books. I feel the dog or cat or bird (have to give a shout out to mine) has to have a reason for being in the story. I don’t want to place an animal in the story “just because”. I have dogs in my Waiting for Dusk series but they’re not front and center. They do have a reason for being there. Lindsey, just like me, longs for one but her mother is not a pet person. Everyone at the ranch in Arizona has a golden retriever and she’s jealous. Maybe one day, she’ll have one, too.

For now, I need to find a way to get a little lovebird in one of my stories. That’s not an easy thing to do. My bird is quite entertaining and loves people. She doesn’t talk but responds to us in other ways. She swings her swing on command and turns upside down to make us laugh. Don’t know how that would fit in a story. It probably would have to be a talking bird to make it work.

If I do put a bird in my story, I know the first thing I’d have it say…“I hates cats”. It makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Thanks for the saying, Dad. You were always good at coming up with the funniest, most unique sayings that I’ll never forget. But most of all I’ll remember you wearing my furry winter white hat that tied under the chin and had white pom-poms on each end to take Pepper for a walk in the dead of winter. Now that might make a good story.

I <3 NY

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Don’t act like a tourist. Walk quickly and no looking around. Most of all do not look at a map in public. That’s what we were told.  I didn’t find this posted on any traveler website or printed at the bottom of a brochure about New York City. Oh no. My husband and I were informed of these rules before we even left home…by our son. This was our first trip to NYC and I was a little hesitant. It seemed like a big, scary place and a giant map in hand would soothe those fears, but we decided to comply. After all, our son is good with directions and can see a lot farther than us. He’s over six feet tall.

Since he was still in college, I had to plan the trip accordingly. Our check-in was on 9/11 and I got the “Really, Mother?” but it ended up being the best day for all of us to go. The drive through NYC was a solemn occasion that day. Police officers and military were stationed on the corners of every block. To actually see it first-hand was overwhelming and brought tears to all our eyes.

After a few wrong turns, we ended up on the correct route and drove down the street to the hotel passing the site where the Twin Towers stood. When we reached the end of the street where the Embassy Suites was located, we were greeted by a large tank.  I didn’t realize we were that close although I knew I booked a hotel in Lower Manhattan. We were across the street from the remaining towers marked 3 and 4.

When we got in the room, I threw open the curtains and gazed out the window. We were overlooking the Hudson River and Battery Park. It was a gorgeous view. The sun was shining and the sky was bright blue. At that moment I knew I loved New York.

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The following day was gray and threatening rain but we managed to get to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. My mother and I had bought places on the wall at Ellis for her parents and I wanted to see it with my own eyes. It was hard to believe I was standing in the same place my grandmother did when she first came to America so many years ago.

The next day was bright and sunny again and we had plans to venture into midtown. Our list was long—the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), 30 Rock aka Rockefeller Center and Times Square. While at 30 Rock we hoped to get to the rooftop and go on the NBC tour. Before leaving, we were given the lecture again because we were going on the subway…a place that you had to definitely act cool. The subway scared me enough as it was but now I had to act like I used it daily. We made it to our destinations in one piece and I still find it hard to believe we did all that sightseeing in one day.

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While I was writing Waiting for Dusk I decided to have Drew’s home be New York City. It has such a rich history, starting off as New Amsterdam and settled by the Dutch. A new wave of immigrants from various countries followed, making New York City what it is today. I could picture Drew living there and what his life could have been like.

After our day of sightseeing was over, we made our way down the stairs for our final subway trip back to the hotel. We were tired and I didn’t care anymore if someone thought I was a tourist or not. I couldn’t run for the train we needed or cared if I was walking fast enough. My feet were saying, “Enough”. As we walked through the concourse, my son was stopped and asked for directions. People held phones up to him and wanted to know if they had the right train information. We had to laugh because we were just as clueless but he must have seemed like a true New Yorker to them. I inwardly applauded those people for being so brave to ask for help or directions in this fast-moving town.

After we got settled in for our ride back to Lower Manhattan, I noticed an older couple a few seats down from us on the other side of the train. The gentleman removed something from his pocket and slowly opened it. When he was done, it was as large as a newspaper and he held it up so his wife could see, too. She leaned over his arm and gazed intently at it. Imagine my surprise and horror when I realized what he was holding up for the world to see…was a map! I Love New York!

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Dr.Seuss vs. Doctor Who

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Bow ties are cool. I think the Cat in the Hat and the eleventh Doctor would agree on that. The eleventh doctor, you ask? I’m talking about the character on the BBC television show  Doctor Who. Until recently, I didn’t know much about him except that a few family members watched and had long, private discussions about him.

Doctor Who, you see, time travels. He travels through space and time, seeking out new adventures. Since my book is about that very subject, time travel, I thought I should investigate. After watching a few episodes, I felt the show was not for me. It was a little bit goofy, a little bit strange and a lot of very fast talking. A funny thing happened though. After being away from it, I wanted to know what was going on in the world of Doctor Who. I told my husband we had to finish the first season to see the Doctor regenerate if nothing else. That’s what he does, transforms into a new Doctor but he’s still the same person. I wanted to watch the new Doctor (David Tennant would now play the part of the tenth Doctor) and see how he embraced the role.

Then my son cancelled Netflix and that was the end of the Doctor…until we found him on the BBC America channel. We somehow got started watching Season Four right up to the current episode and now we’re hooked.

I’m going to tell you why I love Doctor Who. He’s very much like the great writer, Dr. Seuss, who I loved as a child and still do to this very day. They both can be silly and not make sense but in the end they tell a great story. Sometimes there’s even a lesson thrown in for good measure. They have a very unusual way with prose and can state the obvious in very interesting ways.

Some of their quotes are silly and fun. Some of them make you think a ton.
So now it’s time for the great quote-off!  And you can choose the ones for you.
There may be some you’ll like or there may be some you’ll boo.
(Just thought I’d try my hand at a little Seuss prose.)
So let’s begin!

The Great Quote-Off
Dr. Seuss: You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax, all you need is a book.
VS.
Doctor Who: You want weapons? We’re in a library! Books! The best weapons in the world!

Dr. Seuss: Don’t give up. I believe in you all. A person’s a person, no matter how small.
VS.
Doctor Who: You know in 900 years of time and space, I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.

Dr. Seuss: Oh the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won. And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.
VS.
Doctor Who: Time isn’t a straight line. It’s all… bumpy-wumpy. There’s loads of boring stuff. Like Sundays and Tuesdays and Thursday afternoons. But now and then there are Saturdays.

Dr. Seuss: I box in yellow Gox box socks.
VS.
Doctor Who: It’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey…stuff.

Dr. Seuss: All those Nupboards in the Cupboards they’re good fun to have about. But that Nooth gush on my tooth brush…..Him I could do without.
VS.
Doctor Who: I’m the clever one. You’re the potato one. Now go away.

So there you have it, some really great quotes to help you through life.
What have we learned here today? Well, these two things…
Doctor Who: One blue box, some companions and he’s on his way.
Doctor Seuss: Many great books, a multitude of characters and he’s off and writing.
What’s not to like?

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
You’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So… get on your way!”

From Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by the great Dr. Seuss

The Tech Wizard

7118075-desktop-computerWhen I was younger it was all about the Pinball Wizard but in today’s world everyone needs a Tech Wizard. I try to solve my computer problems but I have to classify myself at the basic skills level.

When I have a true problem I have to turn to the Tech Wizard. He begrudgingly comes at my beck and call, does some quick repairs at lightning speed that are too fast for the normal brain to register and leaves. I am relieved to have the problem solved and go about my computer business, happy and clueless, until I have to call him again.

The most frustrating times are when I know what to do and the computer doesn’t cooperate. It may be just a simple command such as Delete and I hit it over and over again and nothing happens. Then I have to call out to the Tech Wizard and he calls back from another place, “Hit Delete”. I try again and inform him it doesn’t work. Then I hear the clomping of his giant shoes, a large sigh for my benefit and feel his breath on my arm as he leans over the chair. His large hand travels past my face, heads for the keyboard and hits Delete. Viola! It works. I stammer and sputter that I did that a million times and it didn’t work. And then I hear those famous words, “Really, Mother?” and he silently turns and heads back to his bat cave from which he cometh.

The Tech Wizard, as you may have now guessed, is my son and he’s great at what he does. He built his first computer in junior high and became our personal tech guy around the same time. He helped me create this beautiful website. Did I tell you he dabbles in photography, too? That’s his butterfly picture above in my header.

I hope you have someone in your family like this. Someone that you can brag about be it sports or the arts or that he/she is the nicest person in the world. We all need someone to be proud of us.

But don’t worry, it works both ways. When I found out my second book will be published this fall, I sent a text to my son and received back, “I’m proud of you, Mom”. I’ll be saving that one forever.