I was at the Phoenix Airport for 8 hours before my 11:30 p.m. flight Friday night (mostly working on my blog). I flew overnight to Atlanta, which was 3 hours time difference because Az. doesn't observe Daylight Savings time. I had a 3 hour layover in Atlanta, then a 2.5 hour flight during which I dozed a bit, but probably didn't lose consciousness. So I basically didn't sleep at all that night! (I slept 10.5 hours Sat. night)
When I got off the plane in Hartford I saw this model of the Goodspeed Opera House made out of Legos! (a nod to my Lego-loving friends Genny and Katerina!). And for those of you who have not been reading my blog from the begining - YES, I know that some of the pictures are sideways! And I've tried everything I know to straighten them out using Weebly (including flipping the original and re-saving it - doesn't work!). I figure sideways is better than no image.
This is Marty Kristopher Robin in his new home (i.e., my home) and the beach across the street from my place right after I got home.
Later in the evening...
One last flosser (I only saw 3 this whole trip, I was expecting more!). And, the other two pictures are from Wednesday - my first package of stuff arrived on Tuesday, then these three packages arrived Wed. The note is from a postal worker at the Williams, Az. post office. It made me cry to think that someone (a perfect stranger) would write me this very kind message.
And of course these is one last story - on Wed. I was feeling weak because I donated blood that morning and didn't drink enough fluids beforehand. I'd had to leave the Yale Art Gallery earlier than I planned to get something to eat, and then headed home for a nap because I was so depleted. Some of it was emotional as well (and, as one of my fellows pointed out - likely a result of that morning's blood donation and the fact that I just got home from a massive adventure 3 days ago with a 3 hour time difference!).
I saw that there was something on the mailbox and tried to open my screen door to get at it and just couldn't open the screen door. I concluded that I must have inadvertently locked it and gave up. I napped. While I was napping the postal carrier came and dropped off these 3 packages and knocked on the door, waking me. I yelled, "Thank you!" and got up. I still couldn't open the door. I finally unlocked it. But it turned out I was actually locking it! I then unlocked it for real and easily opened the door, to find this package with the note on it. It felt to me like the universe made that happen so that when I finally opened the door, it would be to find that lovely message.
As Liz said, "Perfect is in the eye of the beholder." Well, in the eye of this beholder, this trip was absolutely perfect! I wouldn't have changed a thing.
Thank you for taking this journey with me. Many blessings on you.
I'm writing this a week later because I've been putting off finishing up the blog posts about the trip. That means I will no longer be going through the pictures and reliving the trip :-(
Except that I'm preparing for a couple of presentations about the trip! I just culled through all the trip pictures to pick out the ones I'd like to have printed and will include in my presentation. My first sweep through resulted in *751* photos!! Guess I'll have to make another couple of sweeps through!
Anyway, if you're in the New Haven area and want to come to one of the presentations to hear stories and see pictures, please come!
Back to the "headed home" portion of the trip...of course there is a story...I was leaving Sedona, sobbing my eyes out as I drove out of town because I just wasn't ready to go home! I saw an arts and crafts show and decided to stop. I did it because I knew I had plenty of time, I love stuff like this, to delay my departure, and to avoid my feelings! :-)
Before I show you some of the goodies I saw, I have to say that this stop was divinely inspired. I say that because, as I was walking back to the truck (which was parked across the street) I saw that the front portion of the camper was not locked down! I freaked! It turns out that in my disturbed state, I completely forgot to clip down the top of the camper all the way around!! If I had not spotted this error so soon after leaving (and before getting on the highway and driving at high speeds), I would very likely have ruined the camper!! So thank you God for inspiring me to stop.
These were some of the cool things I saw. I bought one of the necklaces made of local Red Creek jasper, and one of the candles made of rock. I really wanted to buy one of the metal cacti so I could have a way of having a cactus outside my home, but didn't want to deal with shipping yet another item, and that's the kind of purchase I need to think about!
Leaving Sedona, headed to Avondale where Greyson and Brandi (camper owners) live...
I stopped at the National Monument Montezuma's Castle (a misnomer, btw). These are "a set of well-preserved dwellings located in Camp Verde, Arizona which were built and used by the Sinagua people, a pre-Columbian culture closely related to the Hohokam and other indigenous peoples of the southwestern United States, between approximately 1100 and 1425 AD." (quoted from the website). Very cool place!
The bottom right photo is of a diorama of the insides that was created when they closed the dwelling to the public decades ago.
And here is the truck, back in the driveway of it's owners Greyson and Brandi.
This was on the wall in their bathroom, it felt very fitting for my trip. I cried when I saw it. Not only because of the cactus, but because of the unparalleled level of freedom I experience on this trip!
I woke up in the morning and decided to go for a walk. This was the view I was first confronted with as I emerged from the driveway of the campground.
And these are some of the things I saw on my walk.
I’d like to make the case again for more public art in Ct. And for different kinds of statues, like little kids, and animals other than Revolutionary War horses!
More wildlife for Liz! These are the only lizards I saw on the whole trip!
Driving around town...
I went to the Official Visitor’s Center (there are several unofficial visitor’s centers, run by people who are selling their services) and got the advice of a woman who had just gotten recognized for her hours of volunteer service there with a bottle of wine. She recommended that I go to the Centennial Trail for a walk (I’m more of a walk taker than a hiker) and she was right on the money! I LOVED IT! I suspect you will too...
What's really wild about this next photo is that I was in the same spot and just turned left of the red mountains above and there were completely different types of mountains.
This is the view from the Sedona Airport.
This is me with my HP by my side, and me with Andrea at the airport. Andrea is the friend from Mass. who walked into the meeting in Sedona last night.
More public art, and democracy in action! Plus, another one of those flossers! It was in the parking lot of the Centennial Trail, where I went back to in the evening to take a phone call.
Late afternoon views of Sedona from the Centennial Trail.
And this is the color and black-and-white versions of one of my photos, courtesy of Chuck the photographer. He tells me the real dramatic difference shows up when the original color photo is low contrast. To me the b/w version looks like it's a really old photo.
This is the drive to Sedona from Williams, which was only about 90 minutes or so. Thank God! After my last day’s drive of almost 7 hours!
I saw this sign in one of the stores there, I believe it was the Center for the New Age, where I bought a particularly beautiful malachite bracelet! Anyway, it actually says, “change” the world, not “hange” the world (I am giggling my ass off as I write that!!).
These are just "around town" pictures in Sedona.
I looked up meetings for one of my fellowships since it had been a while since I’d been to a meeting (which is very unusual for me) and there was one that night at 6 p.m. It’s held at a place called Unity of Sedona which is a pretty magical place, from the looks of it. I could absolutely see myself living there and worshiping in this place!
What’s really cool is that at that 12 step meeting someone I know showed up! In Sedona, Arizona! We met at a 12 step meeting in Mass. and she was there because her dad lives in Sedona. What are the chances of that??? She and I had coffee a couple of times, then stayed in touch, and she even came to visit me in New Haven and came to my Friday night meeting with me several months ago.
It got to the meeting location about an hour early since I didn’t have much else to do, and walked the labyrinth. I always ask God, “What do you want me to know or do?” before I walk a labyrinth, and this time I was given the image of a guy named Chuck. I've met Chuck a few times because our two churches were going to merge, but I don't know him well. It’s my understanding that Chuck has been integral in helping to keep the 12 step groups that meet at his church in the forefront of the minds of the members of the congregation as they transition out of the building (the merger never happened). His church happens to be the church where two of my meetings are held, and where the vast majority of my healing has taken place. I am eternally grateful to that church, and to Chuck for making sure the members keep in mind the incredible service they’ve been doing in the community.
Anyway, I have a friend from that church who knows Chuck, so I sent him a text with a picture of the labyrinth and told him that it came to me as a result of my walk in the labyrinth to express to Chuck how grateful I am for his efforts, which has resulted in the meetings being able to stay in the building until at least 6/30/19 (but possibly longer depending on what happens with the building). My friend said he’d pass the message on, but if I wanted contact him myself he gave me Chuck’s number. So I contacted him, told him where I was, what I was doing and why I was writing. He said, “Sign me up to hear about your trip!” so I shared my blog with him. Turns out he’s a photographer! And he turned me into Ansel Adams by taking one of my Yellowstone pics and making it black and white! Pretty cool, huh?
And this sign was in the bathroom. See? I told you you are loved!
In the evening it stopped raining for a while and I went out for a walk because I needed to! As per usual, these pictures just don’t do justice to the beauty of the sky that night.
For those of you who have been reading along for a while, here is another “hole in the sky picture” which I promptly texted to Liz and wrote “Hole in the sky.” She wrote back, “I saw a hole in the sky the other day and thought of you.”
Then I texted her the next one and said, “Vulva in the sky.” (ok, sideways vulva in the sky!)
Oh! As I was driving into Zion NP I saw what I thought was a herd of cows. I didn’t pay much attention, even though there were a bunch of cars parked on the side of the road (a sure indicator something cool, like wildlife, is present). However, on my way back out I realized IT’S A HERD OF BISON! I parked a ways away because there were so many cars and I wasn’t sure how close I could get, and as I was walking up I noticed this pile of bison shit, FRESH bison shit, on THIS SIDE of the fence! Not sure how that happened. Anyway, here are the bison.
p.s. I just looked up bison vs. buffalo because I remember Liz saying, “bison poo” when we were at Yellowstone, and she knows way more about wildlife than I do (I’m not a creature person, really). I originally called these buffalo when I wrote this, so I’ve learned something today!
Just a reminder, in case you forgot: you are not alone. Also, you are loved :-)
Another piece of wisdom from the tour guide at Bryce Canyon – this is a Quaking Aspen, the state tree of Utah. They are often mistaken for Birch Trees since they have almost white bark and their leaves are similar. They are stunning. Cool fact – they have shared root systems, and because of that the Guinness Book of World Records declared them the largest land creatures!
One thing I find particularly interesting about these trees, and which I tried to capture in a number of pictures but I’m not sure if I the pictures I got make it as obvious as it seemed while driving – the lower level of the leaves seem to go in a straight line, no matter how tall the trees are. Some of the trees might be much taller than the others, but their bottom line of leaves almost always seems to be at the same height. Maybe trees of the same kind are always like that and it’s just more noticeable about these since their bright color makes them stand out among the other trees.
This part of the drive was simply breathtaking. I can’t explain just how stunning these yellow trees were. There is just something about contrast that really gets me. The way I felt when I was looking at these trees is inexplicable. It was like I could breathe in a way I’ve never breathed before. So clearly. Almost like sighing, only much better. It was like a relief to see these trees!
The canyon comes into view…
I asked someone to take a picture of me eating my lunch next to the Grand Canyon so that next Monday, when I’m eating my lunch, I can reminisce about where I was eating lunch last Monday!
I was not able to go down this stairway. My thighs were like, “No f-ing way Barb!” When I get afraid of heights, which is often but not always, I can feel the adrenaline in my thighs which tells me “NOPE! Not gonna do it!”
This place is called the Grand Canyon Lodge. Can you imagine staying there? Sitting there having a cup of coffee in the morning, looking out over that?? AMAZING!!
These are pictures from the drive out of the North Rim area (which is the same route I took in, more on that later…). I wanted to get a picture of these Quaking Aspens with the orange leaves to show that not all of them are yellow (though most are). They’re called “quaking” because of the way their leaves quake in the breeze.
I headed toward Williams, Az. where the Williams-Grand Canyon KOA is, which was 4.5 hours away from the North Rim! I did not plan this day well! When I looked at the map to the night before to decide where I'd go and where I'd stay, I was thinking about distance as the crow flies, not as the human drives. I calculated the drive from the campground I was at to the one I wanted to go to, then decided to go to the North Rim because it looked like it was on the way. NOPE! I didn’t realize until I was at the North Rim and googled my next campground location (which was the only place I could find a reservation in the Grand Canyon area, btw) that is was 4.5 hours away! That meant I couldn’t stay too long at the North Rim or I wouldn’t get there before dark, which I always prefer to do.
I took a lot of pictures of the drive because I really wanted to remember what it was like. And if you’ve never been out west you really have no idea what it’s like to drive for miles and miles and hours and hours with all that wide open space, and all those amazing mountains and rock formations and big sky with beautiful clouds. (I’m starting to feel like I need some new superlatives to use). Be sure to look at the sky in these pictures, not just the land. Sometimes I forgot why I took a particular picture, then I look at the sky or the horizon and I remember - oh, that was so beautiful! Or that was like nothing I've ever seen before.
I just love having mountains on the horizon. Its even cooler when they’re shrouded in clouds.
When I got to Williams, which has a big stretch of Historic Route 66 type stuff on it, I went to a restaurant for dinner and then walked around a bit. I’ve seen a TON (actually, probably way more than a ton!) of silver jewelry, and especially with turquoise, but these are definitely the largest pieces of stone I have seen in my life!!
And this was the sunset as I came back to the truck.
And then a little while later as I approached the campground.
I got home yesterday afternoon (Sat. 10/6) after traveling overnight and getting (perhaps) 90 minutes of dozing on the plane from Atlanta to Hartford. I slept for 10.5 hours last night. I will post the blog entries and pictures from my last few days on the road soon, but wanted to let folks know I made it home safely. Once I'm done blogging about this trip I will probably continue blogging to some degree, but nowhere near as often. And, knowing me, it will likely feature life lessons.
I've cried a lot in the last few days, just not ready to be home. This trip has been amazing in so many ways, not the least of which is showing me just how small my life has been to this point. I've always assumed I'd live in CT my whole life, and I still might, but if I decide to stay in CT, it will be because that is what I am choosing, not by default. I have been opened up to a universe of possibilities that were never options to me before. Recovery has a huge part to play in that, but this trip has opened me up even more. Meeting other women who are on solo road trips was really cool. I found myself thinking, "Wow! She's amazing! I can't believe she's doing that!" but I hadn't had those thoughts about myself doing it. In fact, I pretty much dismissed the comments of people who said such things like that to me (especially those who said I was "brave."). I'm not saying I will live on the road, but there will definitely be more road trips in my future! And I'm going to look into the possibility of doing a house-switch with someone, probably in the southwest.
I drove my Honda Accord yesterday and felt really tiny in it. I felt like my ass was practically on the ground. And I had trouble fitting it into a parking space, which is weird because the truck was way bigger and I was really good about getting that into a space! I have been thinking more and more that I want to ditch the Accord and get a muscle car of some kind. I've been partial to the Dodge Chargers since about 2010 when they came out with that model, but I saw a lot of Dodge Challengers on the road which kind of turn me on, to be honest with you. Time will tell if that's something I will pursue, but that's exactly the kind of thing that just might change for me. I want to live my life much more on purpose than I ever have before.
This is Marty Kristopher Robin in his new home. He's very happy to be here. And yes, I carried him on the plane with me, I wasn't about to wait for him to arrive in a package through the U.S. mail along with my other belongings! He's become too important to me. I told Liz when she picked me up, "I honestly don't give a shit if someone judges me for carrying around a yellow bear as an adult" and she said, "If other people had balls, they'd carry around a yellow bear too." Just for the record, he was in my bag, I didn't carry him in my arms around the airports :-)
And this is the sunset tonight from Fort Hale Park, across the street from my condo. Just wanted to end on a high note.
On my way to Zion National Park I saw a billboard for “Ho-made” pies and I couldn’t believe my eyes! They have ho’s making pies in Utah!! Later on in the ride I another such billboard (this one) which shows one of them ho’s who makes the pies and just had to stop and take a picture!! In UTAH!!
Anyway, this is the leadup to entering Zion National Park, which I had to drive through to get to my campground.
These are pics of the campground, which was stunning because of the gigantic rocks surrounding it! This picture of the truck was one I texted to Liz to say, “Look how good of a job I did parking the truck! First try! Oh - and look at the cool background too.” :-)
I went to the campground first because I could walk to a shuttle stop and leave the camper in place at my site.
And this is what you're waiting for...
This is one of my favorites, as is the first large picture above.
I loved this guy’s t-shirt! As much as I love vegetarian and vegan fare, I am a meat eater and always will be!
The path is one of the trails at that park that I decided to walk instead of taking the shuttle, though I picked up the shuttle at the next stop after that.
Those three are called the Three Patriarchs, but I don’t remember the story behind them.
If you look above the stop sign at about 2:00 you will see one of the shuttle buses, which gives an idea of the scale of the rocks. These pictures simply cannot do justice to the sheer magnitude of these rocks. And I’m calling them rocks because I don’t know what else to call them!
I am continually amazed and sometimes enthralled by the different types of vegetation in desert climates. Last year when I sent to the San Diego Zoo, I think I took as many photos of plants as I did of animals! The succulents there especially intrigued me, I just love succulents. But I digress..
To me, this first one looked like it was two different trees in one! This second one was referred to as “Cowboy Toilet Paper” by the guide at Bryce Canyon. Apparently, it’s really soft. It reminds me of Lambs Ears which is a plant we have at home that is also really soft (though I’ve never used it as toilet paper!).
The Virgin River
The truly amazing thing about this river is that it is responsible for carving out these rock formations! Look at this river!! Does it look capable of something so monumental? NO!! It looks like a tiny little river in comparison to those rocks. So never underestimate what perseverance can do!!
Day two at Bryce Canyon! I decided to take the 3.5 hour guided tour of the canyon, which goes places that the free shuttle doesn't. I'm sad to say that I don't remember the name of our driver (I'm writing this on Fri. 10/5 [Phoenix Airport] and Sat. 10/6 in [Atlanta Airport]) and he was spectacular! He gave tons of really cool info, often in story form, so he was incredibly informative as well as entertaining. And he clearly LOVES Bryce Canyon!!
This is in the morning before I got to the park.
And here I am at this spectacular park again!
As much as I love and am enthralled by the hoodoos (the things that look like spires), I really love that part on the left (below) that looks like it's a smooth blanket with some wrinkles in it. I feel like I want to smooth my hand over it. That's why I zoomed in on it after I took the above picture.
At Ponderosa Point there was a raven that landed on the railing, and it honestly seemed like it was posing for pictures and wanted attention. A whole bunch of people walked right up to it to snap a picture and it didn't move a muscle. This woman came up with her huge dog, and the bird did not even flinch!!
There was a woman on this tour who was from Ohio who just retired and was 10 weeks into a road trip (in a camper van) that is going to be at least one year long, maybe two. She's driving around the country, seeing the sites and trying to pick a place to retire that doesn't have snow. It was really cool to meet another woman on a solo road trip. She offered to take my picture for me, so I said sure. I'm not sure what's up with my finger in this picture (I was probably talking...)
These two protrusions are called The Hunter and The Rabbit. Unfortunately (again) the Rabbit picture is sideways! The next picture shows them in the same frame, but it's kind of hard to see The Rabbit.
These look kind of like watermelon slices to me :-)
This one is called The Olympic Torch.
And here is another example of the Quaking Aspen.
On my way to Bryce Canyon I came around a bend and was presented with this view, which only got better. It’s called Red Canyon (for some reason…).
I was on the phone with someone when I came upon this. I was practically struck dumb! I later found out it’s called the Aquarius Plateau, the highest plateau in North America at 10,000 feet! You will see many pictures featuring this, as well as with this in the background because it’s such a prominent feature of the landscape.
Bryce Canyon has an excellent free shuttle system. It’s available because they want to reduce the number of cars in the park. There are a number of stops, all near some of the most beautiful sites in the park. The shuttle runs every 10 minutes from April – October, so you never have to wait for long. You can just get out at the stops like I did, check out the great views and move on – or you can take the shuttle to various hiking trails.
There is something otherworldly about Bryce Canyon, it’s not like Yellowstone where I was thinking, “Is this planet earth???” it’s more ethereal. It’s really difficult to capture in words. And of course these pictures are amazing and beautiful, but just like all such pictures the sheer magnitude of the sites are just not possible in a little square (ok, rectangle). The hoodoos at times make me think of chess pieces, waiting to be moved around. And at other times they seem like people who were in a cathedral, who somehow got frozen in place and time.
By the way, as I'm posting these I'm thinking, "fuckin' ay....fuckin' ay...fuckin' ay..." because I just can't get over the stunning beauty. It continues to take my breath away, even when looking at these tiny little photos!
Sunset Point (still at Bryce Canyon)
The drive to the campground from Bryce...
These mountains are pretty spectacular, but after leaving Bryce Canyon, they seemed kind of boring! How amazing is that – that these beauties seem boring! The ones directly surrounding the campground have those red stripes going through them, which is pretty stunning.
It would not suck to live in this house!
Barb Nangle is the founder of Higher Power Coaching and Consulting, an entrepreneur and an eternal optimist. She loves motivating others to become better and better versions of themselves, just as she has become better and better versions of herself.