Monday, May 28, 2018


The Creative Habit, by Twyla Tharp

This is one of those books I'd like to own and highlight all the passages that are meaningful to me!

The renowned dancer shares her experiences and gives her tips for keeping up the creative habit. A quote I really resonated with:  "Experience - the faith in your ability and the memory that you have done this before - is what gets you through the door.  You tend to rely on that memory and stick with what has worked before.  You don't try anything new." Other thoughts from the book I don't want to forget:  Too many people practice what they're already good at and neglect the skills that need more work.  Great dancers shelve the perfected skills for a while and concentrate on their imperfections.    Play twenty questions with yourself.  Before approaching something new, write down 20 things you would like to know about it.   When an otherwise smart habit or ritual loses its potency and continue doing it, you're in a rut.  A generous spirit contributes to good luck.  Think about what distracts you the most and go for a week with out it.  Some she writes about are:  Movies, Multitasking, Numbers (clocks, scales, bills, etc.), Background Music.  Doing without forces you to be independent.

Oklahoma Hiking Trails, by Kent F. Frates and Larry Floyd

Ever need a short getaway in your own state?  This is a good guide with maps and photographs.  They also have a list of what they consider the best hiking trails in Oklahoma and their criteria is for the average hiker, not any kind of professional outdoorsman!  Hiking is one of my favorite things and this is a great guide!

Refresh by Shona and David Murray

In our crazy culture, there is a constant need for slowing down and living what they like to call a grace-paced life.  This is a book I saw on the new book shelf at the library and a great little read.  Although they are addressing some serious issues on depression in this book, there were some helpful hints in there for myself.  They cover the necessity of physical needs such as sleep, physical exercise, healthy eating, along with relationships.

Daily Rituals, How Artists Work by Mason Currey

This little book was one that I was led to by Twyla Tharp's book, above.  It's a collection of short essays on the daily routines and habit of highly creative and intelligent people.  Some are collected from research of long gone geniuses like Ben Franklin and Charles Darwin.  Others are still living, and actual quotes about what they do each day. What struck me most about this collection was that there was no "one right way" to living a life of creativity and even the most impressive people had times of inactivity in their field.  Some had some crazy addictions while others had self-imposed deadlines to make themselves produce work.  An interesting kind of biographical collection.

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch, a cop who loves to solve cold cases, is at it again.  The Hubs loves detective shows, and we listened to this one on a recent road trip.  Another exciting story I hope makes it to the big screen!

Monday, May 21, 2018


The rest of our family vacation was dedicated to just relaxing...we drove about 2 hours south to Sedona where we did just that!
Gorgeous red rocks of Sedona!
Great views along this area with the outdoor museum placards on the roadway.

Chapel of the Holy Cross

 Tlaquepaque shopping village

 Renting Razors!

We got pretty dirty but we had fun!

We ate lots of good food and enjoyed our vrbo, where we could all stay in one place! We had been warned by the vrbo manager about javelinas - that if we put trash in the trashcans to be sure and put the bungee cord back on the top or the javelinas would come around at night and get into it.  So I decided I would not put any trash into the trash cans until we left.  Unfortunately I did not know there was trash from someone else in there.  About midnight, I heard some crashing noises outside and thought someone was breaking in the house!  I woke up The Hubs to which he promptly rolled over and went back to sleep.  The noise went on for 15 minutes!  I finally figured out it must be critters and finally went back to sleep.  Of course, the next morning, we discovered the mess on the driveway!  Javelinas had come and knocked over the trash can.  Somehow they got trash out even with the bungee cord on the trash.  Crazy! We don't have those in OK so that was definitely a surprise to me.

At the end of our trip we drove back to Phoenix to fly back to Dallas.  We had time to take in the MIM.  The Musical Instrument Museum is fairly new but already rated one of the top twenty museums in the nation!  It was 102 outside, so it was the perfect place to spend a few hours.  The museum wasn't exclusively about instruments, it was much more.  I would highly recommend it!

The Hubs and I were thrilled to get to go on a trip with all the kids!  For them to enjoy hiking the Grand Canyon was a plus.  We feel very blessed to make these memories!

Monday, May 14, 2018


Writing that title makes it sounds so easy...but really there was so much preparation behind it.  Not only is there the physical preparation of making sure you are fit enough to hike down the canyon, but just all the logistics in planning the trip!  Weather conditions at the canyon, time off from work and school for the kids, flights, hotels, car rentals, special hiking many things to consider...Skip the back story if you don't want to read about it!


For starters, the reservations for a group at Phantom Ranch are hard to get!  At the time we got them, it was a small miracle.  On the first day of the month they take phone reservations and online reservations for 13 months ahead.  After I researched  it, it sounded like hardly anyone ever got an online reservation.  Phone calling on several phone lines was the best way. We also wanted to go at a time when it wouldn't be too hot, so that makes it April/May or the fall.  So March 1, 2017 I got on the phone with several lines calling in continually, and after 45 minutes got a recorded message that all reservations for April 2018 were full. I stayed on the phone to talk to a live person and they told me 100,000 people were calling in at the same time so chances of getting through are slim, but to keep trying next month.  I decided to try one more time in April, and asked my son to help by calling in also so we had 5 phones calling in that time, and he got through!  He was on hold and texted me on his other phone line.  I was jumping for joy!!!  (As of Jan. 2018, they have changed to a lottery system on PR reservations, so I'm not sure how hard it is anymore)

Our physical preparation was walking several miles at a time with weighted backpacks and climbing flights of stairs in a tall building with a backpack.  If you can hike for several hours with a back pack, that's great.  But you also need to be able to do lots of stairs to simulate the trek out.  We did this for a couple of months, mostly on the weekends.  During the week we did our regular workout routines.


We drove to the Grand Canyon from Phoenix in our rental van.  It was breezy and overcast when we got there.  Time for a quick look along the rim and then dinner in the Bright Angel Lodge Harvey House.  No sunset viewing tonight - it was overcast.  You can see the rain in our picture.  We had everyone come to our room and make sandwiches and pick out food for their backpack.  We planned to meet at 5:00 a.m. to start our hike down to Phantom Ranch.

We awakened bright and early to see that it was snowing!  What?!  But we were prepared!  We put our suitcases in the car, then got on our hiking backpacks.  We had shoe tracks if needed for ice, but these were big fat wet flakes, so they weren't necessary.  It was beautiful and about 38 degrees.  In this pic we are waiting under the canopy while The Hubs goes to check out the trail. 

About 45 minutes into our hike, the snow turned into rain and we were just dodging mud puddles.

The sun came out around Indian Gardens rest area!  We literally were wringing out our gloves.  

View of the trails below us - still a long ways to go!

The Colorado River!  

After 10 miles of crazy weather hiking, we made it to historic Phantom Ranch!  We immediately sat down at the picnic table outside the canteen and ate our lunches.  

The afternoon was leisurely with dominoes, cards, piddling around the camp.  The boys saw some kind of raccoon-like critter.  We settled into our bunkhouses and talked to strangers about hiking and all kinds of things.  Almost everyone at Phantom feels like a friend and there's a common bond about making it there and enjoying the canyon.

We saw many blooming cactuses and got to eat the famed "Hiker's stew" for dinner.  It was really good - served family style and we shared our table with Francisco, a hiker from Mexico.  The canteen opened back up at 8:00 p.m. after dinner was over, and we went back in for a while and chatted.  I had met a delightful lady in my cabin from Chicago.  This was her third time visiting PR.  We headed for our beds before 9:00 p.m.  Another great thing about PR is that everyone's ready to go to bed! 

A 4:30 a.m. knock on the door of our bunkhouse signaled time to wake up and get ready for breakfast.  We got ready and were all in there by 5 a.m.!  It was another family style meal with eggs, meat, and pancakes.  Perfect fuel for our long hike out!  

Ready to go - just outside of camp we were on a ledge and saw a deer below us.  We started singing "As The Deer" and it just stood there and listened.  May sound corny but to me it was magical!

Back over the Colorado River!  The kids on the black bridge

Our oldest got this one of us on the black bridge.

Francisco, our dinner table friend, took this photo of us and it's one of my favorites!

Here we are at the last bathroom hut, I think about 3 miles from the rim.  The last time I took a photo in this spot, I was really mentally and physically wiped out.  This time wasn't so bad!  Most of the time on the hike out we were singing songs with the kids.  One song led to another and the funny thing was we kept coming back to the church hymn, "He Bore it All," especially the pain and agony part.  :)  A mantra that was repeated several times was "Three miles shorter!" referring to the crazy steep steps on Kaibab, but less distance than Bright Angel trail.

Pictures don't do this place justice!

The artistic photo is one my son took.  So thankful he took some since I'm such a picture fanatic!  We hiked out of the canyon (7 steeper miles up) on South Kaibab trail in 6 hours!  I admit, the last hour for me was pretty grueling.  I kept my head down and just kept going, very slowly.  We let the kids go ahead of us.  It was about noon, though when we got out, and unfortunately we had to walk another quarter mile or so to catch the shuttle bus because the park roadway was under new construction.  Grrrrr!!!!!  Also, there was still snow that had been piled up on the sides of the roads.  

Once the shuttle was back to Bright Angel Lodge, we got a reward at the ice cream shop and the kids got some souvenirs.  We drove to Mather campground where we used the coin-operated showers to clean up. Then we were on our way to Sedona!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018


We've discovered it's kind of difficult to vacation with our young adult children!  What's hard about it is the SCHEDULING.  The last few years they've been in college or working diligently in their chosen professions and don't have a lot of time off.  So it had been almost four years since we had been on vacation with all of them together.  Plus we've had a couple of weddings and another coming up this summer that requires $$$ and time and travel considerations.  All that to say, we were really glad when we told them Christmas 2016 that we'd like to take them with us to hike the Grand Canyon - and they were all able to go with us!

So, here's a few pics of our first two days together in Dallas and Phoenix:
 We were flying out of Dallas, so we all loaded up in our Suburban - yes, it was a tight squeeze - and made sure we left in time to enjoy lunch at Babe's Chicken (one of our favorites)!
 We spent the night in the Old Town area of Scottsdale and ate at Rehab Burger Therapy, and Morning Squeeze.  The kids rented bikes and rode around the Old Town area, too.  This was some cool coffee shop our oldest son thought was a must!

 We checked out Hole-In-The-Rock at Papago Park - it was a fun little jaunt and photo-op with everyone, including our youngest son's fiancee.

The yards in the Phoenix area are so different from ours - so many that don't grow grass at all due to the heat, and this is fiancee's grandparent's yard.  I thought it was beautiful!  We dropped her off at their house since there was no way we could be sure they would have room for her at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  But, we were glad she was able to come for a part of it!

More about our Grand Canyon hike in the next post...