On to Flagstaff, Arizona, Route 66, and The Grand Canyon

As San Francisco’s beauty receded in the rear view mirror, we set our sights on Bakersfield, California then on to Flagstaff, Arizona. We left Route 66 and headed north to the Grand Canyon.

The road afforded more beautiful vistas as we climbed from 6,000 feet above sea level to nearly 8,000. Who knew that big hole in the ground was at such an altitude?

We paid our $25 fee and received our instructions. Gusto the Wonder Dog was welcome everywhere except on the shuttles. We’d have to hoof it. No problem. We found a parking place and took off.

The day was overcast with patches of sunshine as we hiked along the paved trail. When the Southern Rim came into view, I was reminded of the old days in a church’s sanctuary, where everyone whispered. My eyes feasted on the expansive views. Everywhere I looked, colors and textures beckoned. I’m usually shy of heights, but there was so much to capture my attention, I didn’t really think about it.

Gusto seemed unconcerned about the whole thing. He sniffed around, perking up at the appearance of two squirrels whose colors almost blended into the surrounding rocks. The two put on quite a show for their onlookers, posing for the cameras and no doubt hoping for handouts. Gusto wanted to eat them.

There are two squirrels––can you see them?

Soon, more wildlife joined us as a couple of elk does (are they called does?) wandered into the area, grazing with their spotted fawns. We saw them again later, as we munched our lunch at a picnic table.

As we finished our lunch, rain sprinkles urged us toward our car. The drive back down took us through patches of pouring rain, but we were happy and satisfied. We’d seen what we came to see and it defied our humble cameras. You really must see it to really appreciate it.

We were ordered by our spouses to take this next photo, as proof that we were really there. We’d avoided camera lenses up to this point. Clumsy, unflattering things. So here we are, thanks to a stranger’s expertise. That’s me on the left. Gusto’s in the middle. Daughter-in-law, Alyssa is on the right. The real star of the show is behind us.

If I ever have the opportunity to return, I fully intend to go. I would love to do a more thorough examination of the area. As we headed to New Mexico the sun set behind us. What a beautiful sight. We’re hopeful about tomorrow’s stops, but our hearts are set on home. Missing our hubbies and can’t wait to see them.
Thanks for stopping by. My next post will complete this journey with a few of my favorite scenes, including the final ones, when my son reunites with Alyssa. See you on the road!

From the Bluegrass to the Pacific (There and Back Again)

Today, I’m flying to Seattle for a short visit with friends and family. I was born in Seattle and some of my mother’s family still live there. My son married a Seattle girl and that was a double blessing, because I’ve had an excuse to return to the region and visit one of the most beautiful areas in the continental U.S.

My son and his wife are relocating to Kentucky, thus the reason for this trip. I get to make the journey, too. We plan to take full advantage of this opportunity to see places we’ve never seen. And we’ll be looking for dog-friendly places, since Gusto will be with us. As you can see, he’s happy to be included.

After we leave Seattle, we’ll head to Oregon, where we’ll stay a couple of days then head down the Pacific Coast, hoping to visit some new places we’ve never seen. I plan to post pictures and thoughts here and on Facebook, documenting this trip so my friends and family can see these places with us. Not like being there, I know. But hopefully it won’t be as bad as sitting through a long slide show of vacay pics with the neighbors. After all, if it’s boring, you can leave. I’ll try not to be boring and in any case, it’ll be short. Usually.

So thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll drop back in during this series of blogposts. You can follow this blog or friend me on Facebook or like my Facebook author page to keep up with what I hope will be an interesting trip. In any case, I’d love to hear from you regarding your favorite Western or Midwestern stops, especially if you know of any dog-friendly places along the way.

An Unexpected Detour

Yesterday, while my son and I were out driving, we passed a road neither of us knew. We weren’t in a hurry, so he decided to turn and find out what was down that road. My dad used to do that. We’d be out driving somewhere and he’d say, “Wonder where that road goes?”

We’d sit up on our knees and peer out the windows, waiting for the first glimpse of the unknown. Yesterday’s road was narrow, sometimes only one lane. It dipped down into a valley and followed the winding path of a creek. Houses sat on large, verdant lots, banked by rolling and sometimes rocky hills. Often the dark woods shaded the road so heavily, we could barely see.

Around one turn in the road, we happened upon a doe, standing on the edge of the road. My son thought she might be scouting for danger before she allowed her fawn to follow. She hesitated when she saw our car, then turned back to run into the woods, before we’d had a chance to snap a picture.

Kentucky boasts many beautiful spots and we found several yesterday. We had no idea where we’d end up, but when the road ended and we recognized the area, we were surprised at how far we’d gone. Life can be like that. You take an unexpected detour, sometimes fighting fear and uncertainty, but the road always leads back to the familiar. Or else, you grow accustomed to the new road.

We’re on a new road here at my house. At times, it’s hard to see what lies ahead, but we get up every morning and push on. We know the roads all lead to the same place. Our trust is in the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth, and He will never let us down. His word promises that.

Thanks for reading. Hope you’ll stop by again sometime.

On Slowing Down . . .

Gus the granddog Coping with the Heat

This morning’s lesson is simple: Slow down.

As I write this, it’s hot outside. Really hot. It’s hard to enjoy being outside when the temperature soars to 105 and it’s humid. 
I probably won’t take a walk today. I live in the suburbs and the sidewalks and pavement get so hot, you feel as if you’re walking on a hot stovetop. When I see those heat waves rising from the ground, I’m reminded of an old western movie, when the star is stranded in the barren desert. He sees a mirage ahead and runs forward–starving for water–only to find more dust and sand. 
I stumbled across a blogpost this morning, written by author Mary Ellis on Peggy Blann Phifer’s blog, outlining a few lessons learned from Mary’s study of the Amish. Among them, the words in my title, “Slow down.” Ah, what a timely lesson. In the brutal heat of summer, it might be a little easier to achieve. And then I realize how true it is. You can actually accomplish more, and do a better job along the way.
Take a look at your pets. When it’s hot, what are they doing? I don’t have pets, but I can look out on my patio and see squirrels lying on the concrete in the shade–on their bellies. They’re not rushing around, squirreling away food for the winter, they’re taking a break from the heat. The birds are enjoying whatever water they can find. None of them is in a hurry, it’s just too hot.
So today, I’m going to narrow down my to-do list. I’m going to center my energy on what’s truly important. But first, I think I’ll take a few minutes to sip a glass of cool water, breathe deeply, and enjoy my day off.

Happy Mother’s Day

One of the very first to hold me after my birth, my maternal grandmother gave me my name. She named me after my mom (Betty), and herself (Audrie). I know she loved me, though I never knew her. She died two years after my birth. I grew acquainted with her through my mom’s memories and the many beautiful pictures we have of her. A few years ago, I traveled to Seattle and visited her grave. Seeing that name on a gravestone was a little bit of a shock, but I’m so glad I did it. She became real to me that day. Though I had no physical memories of her, she really had existed.

Mom grew up in Seattle, where she met my dad, a young sailor on leave. He was from Tennessee. She left her home and family to follow him, and stayed with him through sometimes extreme difficulties, until the day he died. She was with him in San Diego, living on base, when her mother died in Seattle. She still has the airplane ticket from her flight home for the funeral.

These two strong women loved me, spoke into my life, and gave me my morals and principles. They were shining examples to me of the kind of woman I wanted to become. Women who gave everything for those they loved. Women who endured hardship as if it were just another bump in the road. Women who could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Dedicated and Godly women.

I was never able to send my grandmother a Mother’s Day card, or even tell her I loved her. I never heard her voice or saw her grow old. So I’ll tell my mom, her daughter: I love you. I’ll visit her and give her a gift and a card for Mother’s Day. I’ll smile at my reflection in the mirror, the part of me that resembles my namesakes. I feel very blessed to be descended of such excellent women. Happy Mother’s Day!