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Sunsets, Sunrises, and Sprinkles of Enjoyment

19 Aug

I wanted to watch the sunset and feel that moment of exhale marking the end of the day.  I wanted to see the sun in the early morning and feel the tranquility of the quiet among the warmth and nature.

And the Grand Canyon gave it to me in the best way.

After our little adventure in Radiator Springs we took the train to the Grand Canyon and that was the second part of our adventure. The kids hadn’t ridden the train before and it was a great way for them to travel and see the landscape. Now there was a mix-up with the reservations, and in truth, that burned me out. They gave us the wrong car, when we had actually paid more to be in a different car, but the kids didn’t seem to mind, and in the end we were reimbursed and our reservations on the return trip were secured. Those small details were just that … small. The kids were busy enjoying the ride itself, the thought of being on vacation,  on a train, and the adventure of travel.

And so to break away from the mood, I looked out the window and got lost in the scenery. It’s a good way to travel, especially with kids, and especially after the long drive to across state lines.

 

When the train pulled up to the station and we walked onto the platform being there, knowing that we had made it, felt good. We roamed around a bit before heading toward a viewpoint … an amazingly breathtaking viewpoint cast with clouds and shadows and the cool sprinkles of monsoon season.

Experiencing the Canyon during rain and lightning is a pretty amazing way to meet nature. It was a welcomed change from the 100-degree heat I was experiencing.  So I was one of the few people standing out in the rain, letting the drops hit me, checking out the Canyon, and breathing in the fresh air.

Now when the lightning began to pick up every few minutes, I thought it would be safer to catch that show from the safety of the bus, as did my kids, and the rest of the family. We cruised through the Rim of the Canyon and made it to the cabin to relax a bit before dinner and sunset watch. The rain was only supposed to last few hours so the sunset would still be an awesome moment for us.

And I don’t know what it is about sunsets that makes me find Zen in them, they happen every day. Maybe it’s the fact that all kinds of pinks, purples, and orange shades fill the sky and enhance your surroundings. It’s a call for the end of the day and for things to wind down. It’s a call to remember that the day is done, and now you take a moment for gratitude.

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Just amazing…

So we sat there at the edge, overlooking the Canyon, watching the sun go down, taking our pictures and having a moment worthy of the Awesome Jar. We walked through the trail to the outdoor amphitheater and listened to one of the Nightly Nature Ranger Talks. That night we learned about the amazing vertical leap and long jump capabilities of the the Mountain Lion. Even if you think you’re far enough or high enough … you’re not. That Mountain Lion will catch you if it wants to … luckily most times it doesn’t want to.

Now I really enjoyed the sunset and evening lecture, but I was looking forward to the early morning run along the Rim. Being up that early, surrounded by the quiet, and awesomeness of the Canyon filled me with peace and awe. It was the kind of morning where nature and the Great Outdoors affects you, where if you’re feeling a little lost you manage to find your way, where you realize things are possible.  It tells you that today was no accident, today there was a purpose.

I found gratitude during moments of sunset and sunrise and that helped set the tone for the rest of the adventure. The days were filled with hikes, fossil walks, Native American Dancing, visiting landmarks, getting Junior Ranger badges, purchasing souvenirs, and exploring the rest of The Canyon.

It was a good adventure, the kind of good you needed because it was missing for a little bit, the kind of good you still feel after you’ve left someplace because that someplace still gives you peace during chaos, the kind of good that leaves sprinkles of enjoyment throughout the rest of the month when you close your eyes and remember.

Buen Camino, my friends.

 

 

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I Found Radiator Springs On The Way To The Grand Canyon

5 Aug

Staycations are my jam.

With two kids active in sports throughout the school year, the summer budget for Destination Vacations Extraordinaire often become limited. But this year I decided to find an adventure, either road tripping or checking out the scene from an airplane above, this was the year we took a mini-vacation and explored something awesome that was not in our neighborhood.

I also thought it would be a good present for all of us seeing how July was full of birthdays and we didn’t have a grand celebration, travel and adventure would be our gift.

So … we took on The Grand Canyon. But I decided to make it more than just a driving road trip … we’d take the train too. The Grand Canyon deserved that.

It’s one of the most amazing forces of nature I’ve witnessed and thought it would be a great way to explore the outdoors and appreciate a little corner of our country that the kids had yet to discover. We had a couple of crashers joining us, as my family came into town and decided to see The Canyon too. I had no idea they hadn’t experienced it. Seeing how I’d been there and gone white water rafting before I had kids, I felt like I had a good sense of where we could go. But seeing how it was family and multiple personalities vary at times, we thought it best for everyone’s sanity and comfort that we take two separate vehicles and travel with plenty of leg room in caravan fashion. Best. Decision. Ever.

The road trip began with 80s and 70s songs, as well as the kids’ feel-good songs from current artists. Goodbye Stranger by Supertramp, followed by Funkytown, Earth Wind and Fire, and Duran Duran were some of the highlights that pumped us up while sitting in traffic. I feel that the Car DJ’s biggest responsibility is ensuring the mood in the car remains at a steady I-Woke-Up-Today-and-I-Feel-Good-Like-Saturday-Morning Cartoons-When-I-Was-A-Kid-Good kind of feeling.  You need a good car DJ until the radio gives out on you and all you hear is static. It’s about that time that movies come out on the road trip … Kung Fu Panda and Cars were in the possible in-transit movies for the day, and then an awesome podcast for the adults in my car. I had no idea what type of hangry was going on in the other car, but I imagine everyone had a different road trip routine to keep the journey fun.

But I didn’t think of the heat.

The fact that it was 114 degrees the day we left worried me a little. There was a fire right off the highway and a detour needed to be taken. The Arizona climate will be hotter than this I thought … I was grateful for over packing gallons of water and sunscreen. Adventure awaits in heat or rain, the journey is there.

But I had no idea Arizona, or The Canyon, had something called monsoon season. It was a sweet 86 degrees when we arrived at our first overnight pit stop. Williams, Arizona.

 

 

I felt like a tourist walking around in the evening through town and at peace when I woke up for my early morning run.

 

 

We stayed at the Grand Canyon Railway Hotel. The rooms and staff at our hotel were very welcoming and pleasant.

 

 

Everyone in our caravan was satisfied with the place, and that definitely says something. There are a lot of strong opinions in this travel posse, so the fact that everyone enjoyed the hotel after a long drive was a bonus.

Stopping by this little Radiator Springs kind of town made me feel like Huell Howser. I loved Huell Howser and his travel programs. If you don’t know Huell Howser you need to look him up … you probably have someone like that in your neck of the woods. He enjoyed uncovering hidden gems, exploring all parts of California, and inspiring others to get to know the awesomeness of their state. It definitely brought some needed energy, and curiosity zest for the journey.

I was enjoying the vacation me … and this was only the pit stop.

Stay tuned …

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

 

Road Trips and Rain Man

1 Jul

Road trips make or break a family, whether it’s an hour escape to the beach, three-hour drive to Legoland, or a longer one across state lines. They often remind me of Chevy Chase’s quest to have a great vacation for his own family.

So when I recently packed the car, filled up the gas tank, and took off, I went with fingers crossed that I wouldn’t have to stop the car and resort to my “mom” voice. Road trip adventure. Definitely a Bucket List item, but one I feared. Road trips. I love them and hate them. I hadn’t taken the kids on a road trip this long, four hours had been the maximum, so when this unexpected trip happened I wondered whether we’d make it up Highway 5 for six hours. I remember taking road trips in the 80s, when my dad would pile us in the brown station wagon, no computers or Game Boys back then, just hangman or sleep.  Three hours back then seemed like forever, but now I was on the verge of a six-hour adventure.

Woo-Hoo!

And whenever anyone goes on a road trip, some memories stand out more than others. I enjoy the pictures, some of them help me remember things that belong in The Jar of Awesome. Everyone has different highlights of their family trips and some end up being spectacular National Geographic photos, while others get sent to the recycling bin. I get lucky and take one awesome shot from time to time. But this was more of my Rain Man adventure.

I love that movie. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, and Dustin Hoffman rocked it. I still have it on VHS and I crack myself up that I still own it this way.

Anyhow during the movie they go on a road trip and Rain Man documents the trip with a camera. He takes pictures of important things and then pretty random things. He’s taking it all in. His pictures come out at the end of the movie when the credits are rolling. Some of the pictures that my kids took reminded me of  that scene. Landscapes. Sunny faded out landscapes. It brought a smile to my face and helped me remember the different points along the road.

The pictures reminded me to keep things slow, that sometimes random moments are good ones, that patience on a road trip is essential, and most of all unplug myself from the world when I can, which in truth comes fairly easy because the Internet and social media aren’t really all that important. Netflix and mobster movies … well that’s something else. And you can’t really blame me either, I mean Rain Man could not even unplug himself from Judge Wapner. Five minutes to Wapner. Five minutes to Wapner.

Buen Camino my friends!

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The Beginning … sort of.

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 … of our long windy road …

 

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running into multiple farms on our way …

 

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… taking our best Rain Man photos …

 

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… on our five-six hour journey up the highway …

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… with a couple of pit stops on our way …

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To our final destination …

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Buen Camino

9 Feb

Not  a lot things make it on my list nowadays.

Nothing new.

Nothing of substance that grabs my attention or speaks to my Guat soul. Ordinary things that I meant to try often get penciled in, but extraordinary, no not recently.

But sometimes inspiration actually finds you.

It speaks to you through story or film.

And I was thankful that it did.

Everyone has something adventurous planned for their bucket list. Some adventures are based on food, others on travel. Some include both in one awesome adventure. I came across one yesterday and I’m proud to say that I added it to my list. Something I had never heard of, but apparently it’s a long-standing tradition that brings about a Paulo-Coelho-like insight to life. It wishes you a Buen Camino.

I want me some of that.

And it all happened because of Mr. Andrew Clark, Billy The Kid, Kirby Keger and Two Bit himself.

If you’ve never watched The Breakfast Club, Young Guns, St. Elmo’s Fire or The Outsiders you have no idea who I’m talking about, for those of you who have you know I’m talking about Emilio Estevez.

 

 

 

I recently watched his directorial efforts in the movie The Way, starring Martin Sheen. It’s a story about a father embarking on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in effort to find a connection with his recently deceased son and finish the adventure he started. The journey and self-discovery got to me and it got me thinking of doing something like this for myself. Some amazing travel adventure to add on to my future trip to Europe. A 500 mile trek across Spain ending in an amazing church in Santiago.

The way the film was shot, definitely sounded like my kind of adventure.

Kind of reminded of Reese Witherspoon’s latest Wild, which takes place on the Pacific Crest Trail, but I haven’t seen that yet. I imagine when I do it may inspire another adventure, one closer to home. But for now, I’m setting my sights on Spain and the journey where everyone I’ll encounter wishes me Buen Camino.

Any of you added something to your list?

 

Advice From The Pick-Up Artist

19 Dec

Now there you are … exhausted from sitting. Don’t know how that can happen but it does.

I think it has something to do with the circulated air. Or perhaps it’s the fact that you were sitting next to a stranger who took up most of the arm rest and you were involved in a silent and secret battle for arm rest territory, but you’re losing and you think it has to do with the fact that you’re not very good at the game Risk, and now in retrospect you feel you should have paid attention when your brother was trying to play with you on game night.

Maybe that’s why you’re burned out.

I don’t know, whatever the reason is you’re exhausted and if you have kids this whole scenario is multiplied by ten thousand, because when dealing with kids they intensify any experience … the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Yup I’m talking about airplane travel, but not so much the traveling part. I’m not an expert in that and I know people all over the web are shelling out advice on how adventures on an airplane can go more smoothly for you this holiday season.

No. I’m not talking about that.

I’m talking up the Pick-Up.

I’d like to say that I’m an expert traveler and I get on planes often checking destinations off my Travel Bucket List, but that’s not really the case. I’m more of the picker-upper. I’m the master pick-up artist. That’s where I can be of service to you.

Now throughout the years I’ve picked up my share of friends and family from the airport, and I’ve been picked up a few times and I’ve noticed the difference in people’s attitude when getting picked up. I mean people can be on the same plane and have the same disastrous experience but the pickup situation is completely different, because some people are just born with what my blogging buddy Susie calls “sunny-side up” disposition, while others are just an earthquake wrapped up in a hurricane. So let me fill you in on some guidelines for being picked up so that things can go smoothly post-airplane ride.

1. Remember … they are doing you a favor by picking you up. You could have actually taken a shuttle and paid a complete stranger to take you home.

2. The first thing to come out of your mouth shouldn’t be ‘where the hell have you been?’ if they are five minutes late … the words “Thank you,” work wonders. However if they are an hour late hostility is understandable.

3. It is not their fault that the airline lost your luggage so don’t get crazy on them.

4. Your picker-upper is probably happy to see you. They’re picking you up so try to limit your eye rolls and smile.

5. If you’re not happy to see your picker-upper, or you think you won’t be, then it’s best to just get on the shuttle, spending money on the ride home and in the company of a stranger will be worth it.

6. If traveling with kids don’t expect people without kids to understand your plight. They have no clue so you’ll have to fill them in on your post flight needs.

7. Unless they’re a mom, most people don’t carry snacks so if you’re hypoglycemic pick up a snack on the way to the baggage claim and save everybody from your crankiness. Snickers are an awesome post flight snack. Have you seen the commercials, can totally change your personality.

8. Sometimes they are actually on time and you are the one that’s late, take into consideration that the police has asked them to move their vehicle and sometimes making the loop around the airport may take up to 10 minutes.

9. I know you probably just want to get home and relax from all that sitting, but don’t get upset if they have to stop for gas or pass by the drive-thru after they pick you up, they probably thought it was more important to get there on time than to fill their tank or buy fries.

10. Traffic exists.

Hope this picker-upper advice helps diffuse any aggression you might have during your traveling adventures.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

25 Jun

 

:)

🙂

 

Between.

Hanging out in the friendly skies …

Between heaven and Earth.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Abandoned

5 Mar

 

:)

🙂

 

Abandoning the city …

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

3 Sep

 

The Sea.

Coming from California I see a lot of sea.

The Pacific Ocean is awesome.

It makes you a whole new you.

But I hadn’t been to Australia yet. And even though Cairns is still in the Pacific Ocean, it’s a whole new perspective

Nothing like the Great Barrier Reef, or The Coral Sea.

It encourages snorkeling and scuba diving.

And if there are sharks, no worries … I imagine they’d still bite me, but they would be Australian shark bites.

The Sea.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

20 Aug

 

Carefree

Carefree

 

When I think of carefree I remember my dad … the master of random acts of kindness and carefree spirit celebrating his Guatemalan summer.

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: One Shot, Two Ways

13 Aug
Cairns, Australia

Cairns, Australia

 

Cairns, Australia

Cairns, Australia

 

Portrait or landscape either way… it still looks like a pretty spectacular place to go bungy jumping. But then again anything in Australia looks Bucket-List worthy especially when you’re on vacation.