Our Vacation Out West Part 3: Zion National Park, The Emerald Pools

On our vacation this year, Mike and I played the license plate game. We made a list of all 50 states and checked off all the license plates we saw on our drive out to Utah. The only state besides Hawaii we couldn’t collect was Rhode Island, and guess which state’s license plate we saw last night in the Buffalo Wild Wings parking lot around here?!

From New York to Utah, we saw 48 license plates, not including Hawaii and Rhode Island. (RI was our holy grail of license plates until last night). We also saw two Canadian plates and one from Mexico. It was fun and it was exciting and it passed the time. I wish I was back on that road trip, seeing sights that I have never seen before.

This post is about three weeks late, but it is fun to reminisce on the fun times we had. Hey, if you missed part 1 and part 2 of our vacation you can click on the links to view them.

This was probably the best time I have ever had…and I’m trying to find another vacation to compare, but I really can’t.

After about two and a half days of driving, Mike and I made it to our KOA in Cedar City, Utah. The campgrounds are about an hour away from Zion National Park. The tent sites were very close together and at first I didn’t like it at all but then I shook myself a bit. I was on vacation! Why was I complaining?

We got our tent up very quickly, and it was really all a matter of getting dinner for the night and going to bed.

We found a diner about two minutes down the road from the KOA, called “All American Diner.” Anytime Mike and I can find a great diner, with good, cheap food, we call it a special treat.

The next day we headed to Zion National Park. The first day, we hiked the emerald pools trail, which was about a 5 mile round trip. A good portion of it was climbing up hill; I wasn’t prepared to climb it in about 110 degree heat. We took plenty of water and had our snacks, but the heat, man.

When we got back to the car that first day, the car’s thermometer registered 117 degrees!But while hiking, you’re walking up sand that’s so hot you can feel the heat burn through your sneakers. The sun beats down on your hat covered head and you long for shade, like you long for cold water when your throat is dry and your tongue feels thick.

That’s also what makes the pools you see on this hike so special; it is like a small oasis in the middle of this desert climate, but the hike is more difficult the higher up you go.

The trail becomes steeper, narrower; the shade trees are a little bit more sparse. I was struggling to catch my breath in the heat and wondered if it was all worth it. And then you come around a bend in the trail and that view. That. View. For one delicious, corny second, you feel like you are the only person on earth, and this view was made just for you. Now, mind you, I am a very easily entertained person…so that might have something to do with it. But, seriously, guys. If you can’t appreciate a view like this and call it nothing less than phenomenal, there’s something wrong with you.

This is the second pool, about two-thirds of the way up the trail.

At the very top of the trail, were these squirrels that kept hanging around, hoping for some snacks or trail mix. It’s $100 fine to feed the animals in the park, but kids can’t resist…not very often you have wild animals hanging around near your feet, and trying to climb into your backpack.

And if you make it to the very top, there is a larger pool of water at the very top. It looks like a small beach in the middle of the mountains. If you were allowed to swim in it, if there weren’t so many people trying to catch their breath, it might have felt more magical. But by that time, I think the heat had really done Mike and I in.

Afterwards, we got food at the park and then headed back to our campsite. The further we got from Zion, thankfully, the cooler it became. A 99 degrees felt practically chilly compared to 110…kinda. Not really. But what fun we had!

Next day, we hiked the Narrows! And then after that, the Grand Canyon.

A Quiet Walk By The Falls

I never get tired of these falls by my house. I write about them all the time, I know, but I can’t help it. I love the sound of the running water. So relaxing. I like the way the water smells. I like jumping from rock to rock on the edge of the shore, like I used to do as a child.But that water. There’s no other music like it in the world…this is my crack. This is the sound I fall asleep to. This is the soundtrack for many of the poems that I write.

Adventure is found along the shores of creeks, and falls and rivers. When the water just continues on and on and beckons…it teases you to follow, to discover where it ends.

How I wanted to jump in and go with it tonight, guys. There is freedom here, and longing. I wanted to see where it would take me. I wanted to go, go, go…

Is there something like this that inspires you?

Happy Writing!

Writers Need Other Hobbies, Too!

img_20161017_211015387.jpg

Pictured I colored and sent to my Mom, lol 😛

Slept in super late this Sunday as per usual, and made pancakes and bacon for brunch. Got some stuffed pepper soup stewing away in the crock pot, and here I am sitting here at my desk spending some quality time soaking in my light box’s rays.

Sundays are usually lazy days for me lately, and today I am feeling creative. I have not been the most diligent writer as of late, but I must not let writer’s fear get me down.

All my activity in the kitchen this afternoon, reminds me how important it is for us writers to have other hobbies besides writing.

You need to give yourselves a chance to be creative with everything.

Lately, I’ve been coloring, working on a cross-stitching project and baking more in the kitchen. Although, sometimes I use these activities to procrastinate on writing projects that I should be working on instead, I feel a sense of freedom on working on other things.

Expand your horizons – be open to new ways of creating.

Chefs are creative when they are in the kitchen; painters dabble with different textures, different colors; bakers create freshly baked masterpieces of flaky, buttery bread and crusty goodness.

Athletes create different exercise routines, different ways of pushing themselves to the next level, of knowing what they can and can’t get away with when it comes to their bodies.

As writers, we have to get used to thinking about things in a different way.

If you just stick to what you know, or if you stick to one thing, you may become an expert at that one thing but you will limit yourselves when it comes to creating.

Writers know that the more you know the more knowledgeable you’ll become and the more useful your writing will be to others.

Never limit yourself as a writer, or as a creative person. Craft, paint, hike, climb, explore, taste and try new things.

We never know what will spark that next great inspiration. What do you like to do to stay creative?

Happy Writing!

 

Reminder to Myself: I Have Nothing to Be Unhappy About

You may have heard me mention Seasonal Depression now and then. Well, it’s fast approaching winter, and that means less concentration for me, general tiredness and the start of the blues.

img_20161010_161640718.jpgBut I am constantly having to remind myself:

I really don’t have anything to genuinely be unhappy about. So, even though I may be feeling down, other than SAD being the reason, I HAVE NOTHING TO BE UNHAPPY ABOUT.

I have, 1. Friends and family that love me.

This is obvious. I get together with them occasionally. Like today, going to hang out with the girlies!

2. A boyfriend that loves me.

He actually seems kind of grumpy today, but I think that is because he has to work and I have the day off.

3. A job that I like and people who I like working with.

I really do enjoy working with the people I am with right now. Even though the job is only temporary, they have been so welcoming and it has truly been a good experience for me.

img_20161010_162027428.jpg4. I live in a great location.

Our new place is a mile a way from parks in any direction. We have access to great restaurants, book stores (which is a good thing for me) and a farmer’s market.

5. There is a lake a mile down the road.

We live near a lake. I love living near water. Although colder in the winter, I’m sure, there is something relaxing about hearing the water and seeing the waves rolling into the shoreline.

6. We have all our basic needs covered.

I have a place to live, food to eat and clothes…the last one which I bought more of this weekend. I may not have a lot of money. But we have enough to live healthily.

7. I have a car.

I have a vehicle to get where I need to be. And even though my car sometimes needs care all on its own, it is something for now and I am thankful for that.

8. I have my writing.

I have more time to write now that I am working lesser hours. And I use poetry to express my thoughts, especially when something is troubling me. This is a therapy all on its own.

And when I am writing…I truly feel like the self I am supposed to be. I felt lost those years I didn’t write very much.

9. I have my health.

Well, I am healthy in my own right. SAD and acid reflux not really life-threatening issues. Oh, but heartburn really is a pain in the ass, isn’t?

10. I have my sanity.

This one is up for debate some of the time…but mostly I like to maintain that I keep a somewhat decent head on these shoulders. I have my smarts, what limited common sense I’ve retained, and I have my creativeness.

I like to think that the last one is the most important. Because if I can’t create, if I can’t create something beautiful out of nothing…then what is the point of living at all? We all hope to find a little bit of life’s magic somewhere.

I think we should all strive to be our best creative self, don’t you?

What do you guys think?

Happy writing!

 

Poem: Out for a Walk

Our new neighborhood is full of some interesting people. This is but a glimpse of my walk this evening after work today. The neighbors’ cats are so funny, too. A lot of them just hang out near the sidewalk (or in the middle of the sidewalk) hoping that someone will pat them as they walk by. Attention hogs! lol. I’m very thankful that I live near some great parks. Was walking up one of the gorges, tonight.

img_20160823_190158896.jpgangry cars at stoplights

cat stretched out on the sidewalk

a furry checkpoint

pay the toll

(one pat, a scratch behind the ear)

and be on your way

a young girl named “Marty”

a huge, long-haired dog

looks like a four-legged Chewbacca

two women wearing name tags

clutching flyers: Avoid eye contact

a couple who clearly don’t shower

lovely garden, though,

a guy walking his dog

tugs on a ball in his dog’s mouth

water brown and stagnant

so dry, my scuffing feet

drown out the sound of running water

thoughts are racing

and breath in gasps

need to go, go, go

up one more stairs,

down two, one more to go

then back home and time

for the inhaler; breathe, breathe

breathe in the life

of a home so varied

of one walk

that took only thirty minutes

 

Vacation in the Outer Banks, NC

I haven’t posted much for a few days, but I’ve been on vacation!

img_20160610_162157167.jpgThought I would post what I remember from the trip here since I have a terrible memory and want some kind of record of it.

***Be warned, this will be a long post!

(But don’t worry, there will be a lot of pictures, too, so you can always scroll down and just look at them. :P)

13453095_10154174176120610_1622201492_oDestination: Frisco, NC on Hatteras Island in the Outer Banks. (Cape Hatteras National Seashore!)

Length of Stay: 2 Nights. Leaving a few days for travel, etc. So…4 days.

I did not expect all the cornfields. There’s a lot of farm land driving on down from Virginia to the Outer banks, and its a great combination of rural landscape and the ocean in the background.

We arrived at Frisco Campgrounds in the afternoon on Friday, and the ranger, who’s grey-haired and a bit stooped and brown from the sun, hands us a campground map and says in that laid-back southern way:

“Well, here’s how it works: you go around and pick out two or three sites that look good to you and then you come back to me and tell me which one you want. Some look like they are empty, but they’re not, so you got to pay attention.”

13453479_10154174165540610_1034518977_oThe first site we picked out, I got stung by a hornet as soon as we went to move the picnic table. (Looks like they were building a nest, and we were not allowed to help!)

At the second, while setting up our tent, I stepped on one of the small cactus plants which were scattered amidst the grass and sand like prickly, evil minefields. Oh, and did I forget to mention the fire-ants? (although, they didn’t really bother us.) And the mosquitoes? And the wind that nearly blew our tent away the second night?

But despite mother nature getting the better of us, we were able to get our tent set up and got to see this view:

img_20160610_171711575.jpg

img_20160612_091725798.jpgThe beaches were mostly empty as they were used primarily by the campground and there weren’t that many people staying that weekend.

img_20160610_171635529.jpgThis might also be due to the fact that the board walks used for access to the beach were flooded from the recent tropical storm. See all that water there in between the dunes and the shrub-like trees?

Yeah. That’s not supposed to be there.

img_20160610_171639339.jpgMost of the campsites had some pools of water tucked into the corner somewhere. In one campsite, the picnic table was surrounded by a nice lake of water, and one of the bathrooms and showers was also surrounded (this also added to the mosquito problems) but despite this, we still had a good time.

Imagine all the colors possible in mother nature…let them fill your mind and breathe them in and hold them close to your heart, like a feeling that you’ve stumbled upon an accidental paradise; and even though, it’s not perfect, it feels like it is because of the way the sights and the sounds and the smells assault your senses.

img_20160610_171655268_hdr.jpg

Walking through it, the water was like the color of cherry juice with a hint of rusty-brown at the edges. But glancing out over the flooded land, the sky made it look the bluest of blues, as the grass and sea oats swayed in the breeze and the water rippled, caught by the wind.

Large, black tadpoles swirled around your ankles as you walked through the water on the boardwalk. There’s the gurgle and splash of the water as you step through and the sun is bright and makes everything sparkle.

At the end of the boardwalk there’s the climb through soft deep, warm sand to the top of the dunes, and then there’s the intake of breath and this view:

img_20160610_171705896.jpgNothing to see but ocean and no one around for miles, but for a few people. Here on the beach if you have ORV, feel free to drive them down by the water, which I thought was kind of neat.

For dinner that night we went to Dirty Dick’s Crab house (no lie, that was its name!) and got this platter for two:

13410720_10154174173440610_660206797_o(1)It was full of crab, shrimp, clams, potatoes and corn. So, so good!

That night it was star-gazing and listening to the chorus of frogs and insects hum and croak and drone through the campground…the noise was really quite impressive.

13467543_10154174166340610_1375642821_oThe next day, we climbed the lighthouse at Cape Point, and got these views:

13446092_10154174166020610_915295096_o 13445900_10154174165830610_11397569_oSee this water here in the above picture? Yeah, that’s not supposed to be there either…it was the campground we were first supposed to stay at, which got flooded from the storm.

13441739_10154174165900610_29198612_oMike, the other half was quite funny when he was taking these pictures…he had a hard time getting close to the railing as he was afraid of heights! Meanwhile, I’m hanging my head over the side like a loon, but I did get dizzy walking back down the swirly stairs.

13441863_10154174165780610_2062672348_oIt’s the tallest lighthouse in North America and pretty impressive.

I got all sorts of sun burnt that day, though, and that night we had problems with the wind blowing at our tent, so the next day it was packing and the drive back home.

We got stuck in traffic for a few hours on 95 coming through Virginia somewhere around Richmond. It was 100 degrees at some point, so thank God for AC!

On our way to find food and a bathroom in Williamsburg, VA, we accidentally drove through historical WIlliamsburg, which was a treat.

Passing through Maryland, we saw a car on fire on the side of the highway and then driving through Pennsylvania on 81, I got car-sick.

But I have to remember these little oddities and that’s what makes a vacation as special as it is sometimes:

13446312_10154174176320610_2080884460_o 13460763_10154174176370610_1774136575_oSeeing some of the annual kite festival as we were driving through Kitty Hawk on Friday.

13442010_10154174165530610_394978242_oThis adorable little deer which hung around our campsite for some time that last night, and only ran away because our tent flapping in the wind scared him.

img_20160610_182449115.jpgSea turtle nesting sites…

img_20160610_155745190.jpgWalking in the surf…

img_20160610_202107193.jpgAnd a good sunset to end a busy day.

I’m ready for our next beach time adventure! (I do have a new beach umbrella and kite to try out!)img_20160613_120439217.jpgI didn’t go too crazy on the souvenirs as we really didn’t have the money, but I did get me a new key-chain to add to my collection. And anyway, a picture is already worth a thousand words.

Now there’s the question:  Where to next?

Happy Writing!  (And Traveling!)

Poem: Blue Bird Welcomes the Spring

It has been a busy month this December, and while Christmas came and went with a blur, I wish winter would, too!

Although, we haven’t had very bad weather this winter (thank goodness,) but I am more than ready to get on with summer, and green grass, and all the great things that have to do with summer.

Haven’t been up to much lately, either. We’ve gone to see the new Star Wars a few times already, and if you missed my rant about my silly obsession with all random things Star Wars, you can check it out here.

I wrote this poem for my mom for Christmas this year. I did it up in a new picture frame for  her, which I forgot to take a picture of, but I hope you guys like it. I wrote about a blue bird, and Mom loves birds, so it seemed to work very well. 🙂 Happy Holidays everyone!

Blue Bird Welcomes the Spring

eastern_bluebird_glamor

Blue bird sits under an old, oak tree,

his head tipped back towards the sky.

He puffs out his orange-red breast,

just one last song before he flies.

 

Cardinals join his herald of spring;

the blue jays, too and chickadees.

Chattering squirrels chase and climb;

a cat blinks lazily beneath the trees.

 

Old snow melts, and drops and drips,

the trees try to shake off winter’s chill.

Blue bird watches, and waits, and sits;

the air is fresh, the earth is still.

 

The winter was cold, harsh, and long;

a woman shovels a snowy drive.

She welcomes the cheerful bird-song,

she loves the sound of feeling alive.

 

Feet away, under an old oak tree,

blue bird sits, and watches, and waits.

Sunlight touches his breast and beak,

he shakes his wings of one last snowflake.

Poem: “Refreshed”

We went to a local state park around here to cool off tonight. It’s a rather large park, with trails, a lake and camping area. I had a nice time cooling off in the lake, although my boyfriend, let’s call him “Mike,” only dipped his feet in. The wuss. (I’m sure people aren’t the only ones to pee in that lake.)

Anyway, got some writing in before the bugs started biting and it was just nice to get away from it all. I forget sometimes how much I really miss the quiet country evenings from my childhood. So nice to get way and relax after a stressful day at work.

wpid-img_20150728_185753830_hdr.jpgwpid-img_20150728_185747928_hdr.jpg

Refreshed

Water rushing

like the sound of the wind

in the trees.

Makes me want to settle

on a blanket

in the warm grass.

People splash in the lake

wpid-img_20150728_195119474.jpg

Heart rock! I rock you…babe. Tehehe.

children laugh and play

Yeah, this is just what I needed.

What a perfect end,

to a not-so perfect day.

Just a few pics I took today…and then:

wpid-img_20150728_195502644_hdr.jpgAll good things must come to an end.

Happy Writing! Hope everyone has a great night!

 

Poem: “Not Goodbye”

I’ve been thinking a lot about Grandma these past few days. It might have something to do with the fact that I was up at her house this July 4th, or rather…it’s my uncle’s house now…

Which is something that I don’t think any of us will ever get used to saying.  It is difficult because every holiday, every special occasion was celebrated at Grandma’s house. When you lose the matriarch of the family, how do you go on? How do you take sad memories that used to be happy and put them back together again? When everything that reminds you of her, feels so…empty? Anyway, wrote this last night:

0529111809a

Not Goodbye

I remember my grandma’s poppies;

bright orange-red flowers and

Bright green stems; their petals iridescent,

like glitter on your fingertips

like you’ve been touched by

butterfly wings

 

Every year they would bloom

and every year they would die

mowed over until just the bristles remain

“They’ll come back next spring,”

my mother told me,

But to me it felt like a bad joke.

0529111808

 

I think about love

how it doesn’t really go away

after you’ve lost someone special

 

Instead, it grows,

becomes that sadness

that labors in your chest

 

You cling to symbols:

old pictures, a key chain

a necklace she probably never wore

You tell yourself: “these things really mattered”

 

But, what you should be harboring

are the memories

the tokens of life’s joys and heartbreak

 

Dear Grandma:

Your house still smells like you

it misses the joyful, “hellos,” that echo

and hugs that used to

smoosh my glasses up into my nose;

 

I look out your bathroom window

I can still see your clothes

on the line, blowing in the wind

 

I can see all the picnics, all the weddings, all

the graduations, all the Christmas’s

will anyone every throw crumpled

wrapping paper at me again?

 

But still, I’ll remember,

when the trees grow,

when the family members become

more strangers than friends

I’ll remember that your house

is you, and this land

still hums with your presence

 

and your family is still here

and I am still here and this feels like goodbye,

but how could it be?

 

How could it be?