Saturday, November 28, 2009

Kayaking in Topock Gorge

So! About 20 years after I first decided I wanted to go Kayaking in Topock Gorge, I did it! My friend Amy went with me. We drove up to Lake Havasu City the night before. WACKO (Really) the outfitters, took us all in vans to Golden Sands where they gave us a quick lesson and set us on our way. They had two trailer loads of boats. There were about 12 people in our group.

This is Amy and I at the beginning of our day.

Here they are with the boats unloaded and getting ready to put us in.

Amy is a triathlon athlete. So she was very comfortable in her Kayak. At the beginning, she was rowing frontwards, backwards and against the current just to see how hard it was. I was just working on figuring out how to go forwards without hitting anyone or anything! I did get the knack of it after not too long though. And somehow, Amy and I were out at the front of the back the entire day. Amy said I was a "ringer", that at least at one point of the day, she had a hard time keeping up with me.
We had perfect weather, the scenery was gorgeous. It was mostly nice and quiet. We didn't run into too many motor boats until closer to the end of our day.
It was kind of funny, I swear that I had read on the website that this was an 8 mile trip. After we were on our way, I found out it was a 14 mile trip! It was a little disconcerting, but I did fine. I did wish I had brought my biking gloves though. I got a few blisters from paddling. It was quite a workout. My shoulders are a little sore, and my abs are quite sore. I'm not sure I even knew I had abs before!

Here is some of the view in the gorge. Most of you probably know that the Colorado River is the border between California and Arizona. As we went occasionally we had to find a place to make a pit stop. As I was headed to the Arizona shore, Amy said, I am going to go pee in California. It cracked me up. I told her I thought it sounded like a political statement.

Here is Amy doing some of her backwards rowing. She had to work all her muscles you know! I tried it too, but just for a minute or two.

Amy really liked her boat. And for some reason she stayed pretty dry. I don't know if it was because she had a different type of kayak or just superior rowing skills. I was pretty much wet from the waist down all day. Every time I lifted one side of the paddle out of the water, water would drip down onto my legs and into the boat. I was sitting in water most of the day. It was still a lot of fun though. Here is Amy enjoying sunbathing in her boat at our lunch stop.

Here is a view along the river at our lunch stop.

We had lunch at Picture Rock. See all the petroglyphs?

Amy got a photo of me in my kayak.

We did see a wild burro. I got a blurry photo of it. The guide with us said that often they swim back and forth across the river.

Here we are waiting to be picked up. The indomitable Amy, sitting in her boat again! Carrying the boats from the river to the pick up site was the hardest part of the whole day!
I used to always think I wanted a canoe, but now that I have gone kayaking, I think I would like one of those instead! Now If I only had someplace to keep it and someway to haul it....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Going Solo

Usually Cindy and I hike together. She is unavailable this week and I have been having a really strong desire to get out as much as possible. Maybe the beautiful weather has something to do with that? Anyway I had the morning free and decided to do the Go John Trail up in Cave Creek County Park. Cindy and I did it once last Spring. It is longer than I've ever done by myself, but I felt the need for long too. I checked at the visitors center and it's 5.8 miles. The guy said it takes you 2 to 3 hours depending on how fast you hike. It took me 2 and a half hours so I guess I am somewhere between fast and slow. Something I suspected all along. Anyway, I took my ipod and earphones. I've never done that before either. I had some new music I wanted to listen to. I had lots of thinking time. I know I live alone anyway, and what would be so different, but I think at home I tend to be busy with tasks. Here I had nothing to do but think, walk and listen to music. I won't share all of my thoughts with you but here are some of them:
  • The Thanksgiving Album by Windham Hill is beautiful music.
  • How hard do I need to work at finding an eternal companion?
  • People say a lot of things. They say that if you just live an engaged life you will find somebody. I think I live a pretty engaged life and I haven't met anyone, so what do I need to do differently?
  • Do I know what my faults are? And am I really doing anything about them?
  • Do I come across to men as needy even if I don't feel needy?
  • I liked Adam Lambert on American Idol and bought his new album on Itunes before the whole AMA fiasco. I heard about it the evening of the same day I bought his album. So now I listen to it with a bit of a bad feeling. There is a lot of bad lyrics in the songs. It's a shame because he really has a lovely voice.
  • What happened to my voice? I had a nice singing voice but I think it's gone. I think it's a case of if you don't use it, you lose it. I notice my voice cracking a little on notes at church that it shouldn't be cracking on. Is it because I haven't sung in choir or done any solos in a year or more? Or is it just getting older?
  • Why is my right knee hurting? I've lost weight, my joints aren't supposed to hurt anymore.
  • I can find the trail even when Cindy isn't walking ahead of me. Cindy is always in front and I right behind her.
  • I love Norah Jones. What kind of guitar is that on Cry, Cry, Cry that makes it sound so country? Is it a slide guitar?
  • Her song Man of the Hour is hilarious on her new album. I love it. She has a line something like, not being able to chose between a vegen and a pothead. She chose this guy because he ate meat. It turns out it's her dog. I love it.
  • What dreams do I have and how do I achieve them? What control do I have over reaching my dreams?
  • I want to go on a pack trip in the mountains, maybe the Colorado Rockies. Where you ride horses and camp for a week. My friend Robin did that with a commercial group. I think it sounds awesome. I need to check into how much it costs, etc. Anyone want to go?
  • I'm looking forward to my Mule trip down the Grand Canyon in March.
  • My sister's husband rides a mule. He is excited about her losing weight and has bought her a mule too, so they can ride together again in the Spring. My friend Penny laughs uproariously over that and says no man ever bought her a mule. A want a man who would at least want to buy me a mule (figuratively speaking!).
  • Back to men again. Do I really want one? Yes. I want to learn the lessons of a long term relationship. I want to be asked to give and take. I want the opportunity of compromise with someone else. I truly think life would be richer and fuller if I didn't get everything I wanted all the time.
  • Why is my right knee hurting?
  • What do I want for lunch?
  • What is within my control? I used to believe that the scripture,"We love Him because He first loved us." Could be applied to people in our lives too. I don't think I believe that anymore.
  • That lady just scared me. She ran up behind me and passed me. I had the earphones in and never heard her coming.
  • I think I am going to start going to more singles activities in the area.
  • I am back online again on the singles site.
  • It is somewhat overwhelming and emotionally exhausting.
  • Is my openness a fault? Does it scare people? Do I need to change? Is it something I can change? Would I still be me?
  • Why is my right knee hurting?
  • I am going back on the diet in a day or two, what do I want to eat today if I am not on the diet? I want pizza. If I go to Sam's Club, I can get just a slice of pizza and drink for cheap and not have to have leftovers.
  • What is that green mineral deposit near the end of the trail?
  • It's a beautiful day and it's awesome to be able to walk 5.8 miles without stopping and resting.
  • I'm at Sam's Club and there is a cute fireman in line behind me. Is there a way to meet a completely strange fireman in line at Sam's Club. Apparently not.
  • Why am I limping?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Liking the New Me

I am so enjoying my new found ability to do whatever I want to do! Cindy and I have been hiking and I am doing so well compared to last year. We are going to hike the whole length of Central between South Mountain and North Mountain! It's 15 miles. I just want to be able to say that I did it. How awesome is it, that it doesn't even scare me! Now if it was all mountainous or with a pack, THAT would be a different story. I don't know that I even aspire to that. But I am excited to be truly enjoying, biking, hiking, walking, kayaking, swimming, riding, whatever!
Of course I still like reading, gardening, cooking and crafting! I just feel very empowered and healthy!
Life is good.

Free at last!

I have this work ethic in relation to my craft projects. I can't start a new one until I have finished my last one. I wanted to prevent the problem of having have finished projects all over. It works mostly, but sometimes I chafe under it a little. I have been working on this afghan for most of the year. There are many reasons, but suffice it to say, I have been wanting to be done so I could work on some other projects. Finally it is done!
The pattern and color is supposed to be reminiscent of a red lacquered Chinese box. It turned out pretty well I think! And my mom loves it, which is a good thing because I am giving it to her for Christmas.
I am excited to get on to my next project. I have some baby blankets that need to be made quickly. They should be MUCH faster to complete!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Book Club Refreshments

Book Club is at my house tonight. We are discussing Poe's short stories.
I spent most of the day cooking and cleaning. I made pumkin sandwich cookies on the left and pumpkin empanaditas on the right. Don't they look yummy?
I also made Minnesota Wild Rice Soup. We will have fruit and crackers.
You should come to Book Club!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Famous Author

So my friend Joyce has written two books so far. She is doing amazing things in learning how to promote herself and her book. This time her publisher has been able to get her in Deseret book and Costco. She has done book signings at the Renaissance Festival, but this last several weeks, her publisher has had her doing book signings at Costco 3 days a week!
Joyce is naturally quite reserved and this has been a challenge for her. I am amazed at how she has planned it all out and how many books she has sold at Costco. She has done amazingly well.
So Penny and I went by to wish her well. Buy a copy!

Stroll Down Central Ave

So on Friday, Penny, Cindy and I decide to take a LONG walk down Central. Cindy and I had done it once before and so we had somewhat of an idea of what we were getting into. Penny was along for the ride so to speak.

So here is how we look when we start. Not the best of photos, but I was just holding the camera out at arms length.
We started at the base of North Mountain and headed South. The North end of Central is really pretty. Lots of trees lining and overarching the road. Beautiful homes to look at.
The thing is, even though you are in the middle of the city, if you decide you need a bathroom, there isn't one. I thought I was going to have a serious problem. All these beautiful homes, but no public restrooms. I made it to the Boston Market at Camelback and Central and was very very grateful.
So Camelback was pretty much our half way point. There were a couple of shops there that I had heard about that I wanted to check out.

This one is Frances. It has expensive one of a kind clothing and some fun and funky jewelry. Some of the jewelry was pricey and some wasn't. It was fun to look at stuff there.

We didn't actually get to go inside the Red Hot Robot. They weren't open. I've read though that they have really fun toys inside.

Smeeks was a blast. Lots of retro candy, party supplies and fun things you remember from being a kid.

Then we decided to take a lunch break. This is Penny and Cindy at Maizies Bistro on Central just South of Camelback. It was a fun place that we had never noticed before walking by. Cindy and I were both dieting and so don't have an accurate review of the food, but the menu looked good and Penny liked her food.

Then we went for the second half. One of the fun things about doing this kind of walk is you get to see things you have never noticed before. Here is a beautiful water feature and park at the Viad (Dial) building at Palm lane. You never see this from Central because there is a wal between it and the road.
Then I finally got to see the new piece of public art near downtown ASU. It is supposed to remind you of a cactus flower. It was actually somewhat interesting, but I hear it's fabulous at night, because it is lit and you don't see all the cables holding it up.

I really like the photo from underneath though, looking up at the clouds.

We had parked a car at the end of our hike so we could get back to our starting point. We were a little puzzled by this sign. So if everything is 5$, why don't they just say 5$ parking?

Eight and a half miles later, here we are, only a little worse for wear!

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I wanted to do something special over Thanksgiving. So I decided to go kayaking in Topock Gorge! I have been wanting to do this for about 20 years. A group of us were going to go about 20 years ago and never did. Then I decided I was too fat and never went.

So I decided I was thin enough to go now and what the heck lets go do it! The outfitter that I am going through is called WACKO! No kidding. I hope they aren't really wacko. (It stands for Western Arizona Canoe and Kayak Outfitters) It really is very affordable. They pick you up in the morning at your hotel and drop you off at the top of Topock Gorge on the Colorado River (Near Lake Havasu).
It's flat water and you paddle for the day, about 8 miles, through a wild life refuge. Then they pick you up at the end of the day and take you back to the hotel. I hope I can do 8 miles in a day. Of course, I pretty much half too.
Amy, a friend from work, is going to come with me. I'll let you all know how it goes!!

Something is up in my back yard

I usually spend a lot of time inspecting my garden in the backyard and don't pay as much attention to the other plants. This morning I was watering and suddenly noticed this huge flower spike coming up on my agave! It's enormous and rather formidable looking isn't it? I know they tend to shoot up pretty fast, but I am amazed I hadn't even noticed it before. I will have to take another photo after it flowers to share with you all.
The condo I live in doesn't have any way out of my back yard except through the house. So I am dreading it a little that I am going to have to haul this thing out through my house when it's done, because of course the whole plant dies after it blooms. It will be an interesting chore for me. I know those things are stinking heavy because I dug one up when I put in the raised garden boxes. I couldn't hardly get it lifted up into the dumpster.

Meanwhile, the nursery veggies I put in are doing pretty well! I had trouble raising stuff from seed because one of my cats kept killing everything. A very few of the plants in the photo came up from seed, but most were seedlings from the nursery. I am excited that they seem to be more durable than the seeds. I have about 4 or 5 heads of Romaine Lettuce and about 3 of Frisee. You can see the Rainbow Chard next to the lettuce. That is broccoli in the foreground and a couple of sweet peas next to the trellis. There is Spinach and Strawberries across the back. So far he has only killed a couple of the broccoli plants right in front.

My okra is finally starting to wind down. It has produced and produced. My basil is doing great even though I cut it and cut it. My black eyed peas are about done too. I have some cauliflower,
Cilantro and peppers planted here too. I read recently that my basil might make it through the winter if I cover it. I'll have to give it a try because it is certainly healthy and I love the way it smells.

What we are breathing

Cindy and I went for a hike up Shaw Butte on Monday morning. It is so nice to be out hiking a lot again.
So can you see downtown Phoenix under the brown cloud there. I live down there in not too far from the brown cloud that we are breathing.

When we got to the top of Shaw Butte and look North, the air is much cleaner. Just so you know.

Anyway I have to brag, that even though it's been a while since we hiked regularly, I am doing really well. I didn't have to stop and gasp for air on the way up. I am pretty sure I did the last time we went up Shaw Butte! Tomorrow we are doing 9.5 miles down Central from North Mountain to downtown (Brown Cloud City).

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Experiment: The Singles Dance

Life is different since I lost weight, in a good way mostly. I have been trying to push myself to be brave and try things that I hadn't done because of being "too fat". Back in the "olden" days, I used to go to singles dances through Church a lot. Sometimes because it was my calling to go, sometimes I had lost some weight and thought what the heck who knows? A really, really long time ago when we had the singles ward here in my stake or even back at the U of A in Tucson, I really enjoyed them. That was mostly because I had a lot of friends who were single and you could have fun with the guys who were your friends no matter what.
It is different when you go by yourself. It is even more different when you go by yourself and you are big. I hadn't been to a dance in maybe 15 years. My memories of those occasions was showing up and being very scared. I would stand there and try to look nice and approachable. (You know they always tell you not to stand with your arms folded across your front!) My memory was I almost never got asked to dance. (There was one guy I met at a dance and dated for about 3 months) I would try and ask a few guys to dance. Mostly, I just thought it would be fun to dance. It was pretty much a miserable time. And after I broke up with the one guy, I stopped going. I didn't like running into him there. He was pretty angry with me.
So it's now a million years later and I have a new me. I have been dating but we don't know where that will go at this time. So I saw the flyer for the BIG Singles Conference. They have one in the Spring and Fall. I couldn't go to anything but the dances. So Friday, I get up at 4:30 am so I can be at work by 6 am. Then I work a very busy 12 hours. I come home and feed the dogs and decide maybe I can make it out there. It is so far in the east valley that it is almost in Apache Junction, 30 miles from my house.
It starts at 9pm and if you haven't been to a singles dance, what you don't know is that only the losers and the people putting it on are there at that time. Everyone else shows up between 10 and 11. Being the loser that I am and having gotten up at 4:30 am, I show up at about 9:15. There were probably only about 20 people there when I got there. I walked around the room and found a nice piece of wall to hold up and did NOT cross my arms across my chest. I was asked to dance on the 2nd song. AMAZING!!
It was a swing and it had been years and years, but I used to really like to do the swing. Probably the only "dance" I knew anything about. I think the poor guy was a little put off as I started to remember what I was supposed to do. But I had FUN doing it! So I went back to my wall with a genuine smile on my face.
A couple of songs later and another guys asked me to dance. So things are looking up I think. He was a sweet guy with some sort of developemental disability. At least I was dancing.
I held up the wall a little longer and this "older" guy came and asked me to dance. I believe the people at this dance were about 31 and up. He was on the up side. He REALLY liked me. He said he noticed me the minute I walked in. He immeadiately told me his name and "credentials" (his degrees, what he had done for a living and was retired). A little odd how a man seems to do that.
He kept me for 3 dances. Which was fine, I was enjoying the dancing. I was a little noncommittal and answered only what I needed to as far as his questions went. I lived in Phoenix. I was a nurse. I was not divorced, but never married. WELL...he was just amazed at the never married part. "A pretty girl like you?" It made me laugh inside. If you only knew buddy.
So I stood along the wall for a while more. All during this time, the room is filling with more and more people. And they also seem to be getting younger and younger. After awhile I feel like the old one. Lots of younger women doing things on the dance floor that I was surprized to see at a "Church" dance. Some shoulder and booty shaking. I wouldn't even know how to do those things, much less be uninhibited enough to do them!
But the cool thing for me, was that I felt confident and self assured. I wasn't particularly worried about standing there. I felt attractive whether anyone asked me to dance or not. And I had enjoyed the dancing I had done.
So the "older gentleman" comes ove again with a pen and paper and asks me for my phone number. No one has ever asked me that before and I had never thought about how to say no. So I gave it to him. I thought if I didn't have the guts to tell him no, it was just mean to give him a wrong number. He said he would like to take me out to a movie or something. I just smiled pleasantly at him and didn't know what to say. Honestly I think this guy is probably 65 to 72. I try to keep an open mind about who I might be interested in, but I knew I was not interested in this guy. And he was getting more and more earnest.
He danced with me another 3 dances in a row, all the while telling me more and more about himself. He told me he wrote poetry. I asked what kind? I was thinking, I don't know, maybe he writes cowboy poetry, he looks a little "western". He said love poetry. Inside I went "Oh no. Oh no no no no." Out side, I did nothing but smile pleasantly and avoided any eye contact.
The dance was getting pretty crowed by now and I was thinking maybe it was time to go. I was tired and the last few times I had danced, I had gotten a littly dizzy. My gentleman caller, came over again for a slow dance. He told me when I was ready to go he wanted to walk me to my car. I had enough sense about me to say, oh no, that is really not necessary. While we were dancing, he suddenly had to sneeze. He turned his head and covered his mouth with his hand. Then took my hand again. I have to say I was really grossed out. It wasn't wet, but well, just the idea I guess. I am not sure what people would ordinarily do. (Excuse me I have to go wash my hands. In the middle of a dance?) I don't know but I didn't like it. And I didn't like being the subject of his intense interest.
I moved away from where I had been standing most of the evening so that when I left, he wouldn't see me go. As I looked around the room at all the folks there, I just really missed the guy I have been seeing. A lot. So that was in and of itself an interesting peice of information for me.
So I left, just as the party was really getting started. It was only 10:30 but I was ready to go and had 30 miles to drive home. I don't think I will be in a hurry to go back, but it was fun to dance a little and it was nice to feel better about myself!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Chile Harvest

So! I still have a garden, but there have been some ups and downs. The summer put an end to most stuff, but my okra, chilis, basil and black eyed peas thrived. Here is a collection of chilis I just harvested this morning. There are also a couple of okra and some black eyed pea pods in there. Anyone want some chilis? I have more than I can use. I can usually pawn them off on people at work.
So I planted a bunch of seeds this fall to fill my garden back in. Most all of them came up pretty well. My cat, Seigei however, seemed to think they were there for him to eat. He also seemed to think the damp loose cool soil was a good plus to lounge and or go to the bathroom. I only had a few things survive.
The second photo is my okra, basil, chilis and black eyed peas. All doing well.

So today I went to the nursery and bought some small vegetable plants from the nursery stock. I am hoping that they are hardy and big enough to deter him somewhat. I am sure he will kill off some of them, but I am keeing my fingers crossed that most will survive. I've got chard, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet peas, spinach and strawberries. In the middle there you can see the 3 lettuce plants that I was able to grow from seed. I hope this isn't the best my garden looks!
I am determined to keep trying!