Tuesday, July 9, 2013


I have a sort of dilemma on this trip. I'm only partly the outdoorsy type. I love hiking and being outside.  I love spotting plants and flowers unique to the area we're exploring. I love the breezes that cool my skin. When I'm outside I feel free from the everyday cares that never cease. But because I'm only partly outdoorsy, the girly part of me really doesn't like the wild side of the outdoors. I find myself looking and listening for movement in the brush where snakes might be. Breezes are great, winds are not - they make me growl. I really dislike wearing sunscreen and bug spray, but I dislike sunburns and mosquito bites more. So I wear it. 

Honestly, living on the road doesn't bother me, but having to keep a constant eye out for spiders and bugs as I enter the women's room kills me.
I love cooking over the fire, but I can never understand how in this whole wide world of tasty things that flies can find, an entire army of them have to find my minuscule plate of food. Our car is a daily puzzle that we get to put together so that everything fits just right.

Playing in the water is one of my most favorite things to do, only not when little fish are nipping at my legs! As you can see they don't bother David at all. 
(big sigh) 
I wish I were more like him.  

Other dilemmas for me are the differences between what I imagine something is going to be, and the reality of it. Like getting all excited to visit a city only to find that there are very few remnants of what its previous glory days may have been. Or planning for play in the river and finding out that Texas has been in a drought and there are no shallow pools and waters running over the rock, and that it looks nothing like it did in the picture on the internet as I was 
searching it out.

And then there are dilemmas that leave impressions on your heart and create such unexpected joy that you are never the same afterward.

This is Pedro, the townspeople call him Nacho. 
He gives gas to travelers who don't realize that the next gas station isn't for another hundred and twenty miles - like us. Funny, we passed the unbeknownst to us, last gas station and began looking for the next exit because we were getting low. The next exit didn't come, and forty miles down the road the red light came on. Panic and prayers set in as we looked on the map for tiny dots of towns, each dot turning up to be nothing more than that - a dot. Sheffield was about five miles off the road, but as we had no other choice, we decided we had to try. Sure enough it was an actual town with a gas station. But as it was Sunday, it was closed. Since it was such a tiny town we figured if we just knocked on a door we could figure out who owned the station and beg him to open for us. So David asked the guy standing out by his truck. He pointed us down the street to Nacho, who did not own the gas station, but happily pulled out his own five-gallon tank and began filling up our car. He's from Mexico and he and David visited in Spanish for at least forty-five minutes.  

He proudly showed us his little goat farm and when all was said and done he refused to let David pay for our gas. He said he likes to help people out and this is his way of doing so.

So we thanked him for his kindness and headed on our way.

No sooner did we get back on the freeway than we saw a kid walking on the side of the road - his car a few hundred yards back. We figured since he was walking he must really need some help so we stopped. He had a blown tire, and again, since it was Sunday and we were a hundred miles from anything he had no way of getting it towed and fixed except to pay outrageous amounts of money which it was quite clear he and his girlfriend did not have. The string of events that followed go like this: figure out how to get our own spare out from under our car, take his tire off and put it into our car, put our spare on, let the car down and find out that our spare is flat, jack the car back up and take the tire off, drive into Sheffield again to find someone who can pump the tire up and follow Raoul who is riding his bike down the middle of the road to Jeff who pumps up the tire for us, head back to the car, put the tire back on and begin driving at the breakneck speed of 45 miles an hour down the freeway, watch the tire wobble profusely, shoo them off the road to put the tire on for a third time (our tire didn't fit their car exactly but we got it), and then drive the eighty miles to the next town with a tire shop at a snails pace. When all was said and done, big hugs and thank you's given, it was ten o'clock, and David and I couldn't help but see the comparison.

We're all stuck on the freeway, none of us can afford the price it costs, and while there are obstacles and setbacks, there is One who stands by our side until the task is finished and the price is paid and we are made whole. 

Tabitha called me yesterday morning to let me know that the car had been fixed, that they had finally passed the Texas border into New Mexico, and that she knew that God had put us in their path to help them out.

Thank you sweet Pedro for being so kind and softening our hearts so that we ourselves could be open to the Spirit of charity and goodness.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Strump's Resort

This week we stayed with good friends who treated us to the Rusty Taco 
(more than once), and where we had to have the fried peach taco 
(again, more than once) 

Of course our first order of business was to bake with Audrey. Last time Audrey and I baked together she was seven. We had made strawberry cake with cream cheese frosting and a strawberry glaze and then put together a pretty little plate with a slice for everyone in her family and an extra slice for her. She and I piled into my car and even though I was driving I felt it would be safest for me to hang onto the plate - afterall we didn't have far to drive and she was only seven. I made it as far as the bump at the end of the driveway before every piece of cake flew into the air and not one of them landed back onto the plate - which sent my poor little friend into tears. Don't ask me what happened - I don't know. One second I was holding a plate of cake, the next I was sitting in cake.

This time we had much better success - chocolate coconut cake with salted caramel filling and chocolate ganache frosting. It all stayed together, pretty-like, and on the cake plate! :) 

Alex made a new friend while we watched 'Avengers'

Laura and I spent several full days making skirts for her daughter who will be leaving on her mission in August. 

David had a great week and when he wasn't selling books he was giving Alex more swimming lessons. I wouldn't say Alex loves swimming yet - or even likes it, but he is getting used to David dragging him into the water and requiring him to paddle his legs.

 And lastly, you cannot visit Texas without getting a cowboy hat. 

Thanks for a great week Chris and Laura!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ooooo-klahoma where the winds come blowin' na-na na!

If I had one word to describe Oklahoma, it would not be windy, or green, 
or flat - it would be bugs. I have never in all the places I've lived, seen so many bugs! It started with the giant, jet-black tarantulas crossing the country road we were on as we headed to camp, and ended with the giant cockroach chasing me in the bathroom - not to mention the millions of strange creatures on the in-between, bites on my arms and legs and the screaming that was involved. 
In spite of the bugs, we had great fun, entertaining trips into the itty-bitty town just down the street from camp, lots of super friendly people, 
and fantastic hikes. 

On our hikes, much of the time my head was down so as not to trip over the rocky and cluttered pathways, and I found myself experiencing more than just seeing what was around me. The hot wet air and cooling breeze on my skin, sharp twigs and branches that poked and scraped at my legs. Bugs whizzing by my head and ears, calling birds and insects. And the beautiful green smells of the forest. 

But when we did stop there was much beauty to behold.   

Alex sniffed out a turtle.

We ate our lunch in a beautiful spot by the stream.

We stopped to feel the stillness of the ponds.

We climbed through very big boulders,

And loved the vistas at the end of the trails.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Looking for the Lighthouse

I kept feeling like I was missing things this week! I missed getting the camera out in time to catch the roadrunner - instead I got this picture of an empty dirt road.

We went to Santa Fe for a day excursion, and somehow missed the charm of downtown. I expected to find cool places to shop and lots of great architecture and history. Does anyone know if that exists? Seriously - I couldn't find it! 

On our way to Amarillo, we passed an honest-to-goodness ghost town. I missed it. Flying down the freeway at 80 miles an hour, I realized what I was seeing halfway through the town. And then it was gone. I suppose ghost towns are like that.  

I had been looking forward the entire day to seeing the sunset glowing on the red cliffs of Palo Duro - we missed that by just a few minutes.

 And yet with the things I missed came so many things I didn't miss! We didn't miss the turn-off for one of the coolest route 66 spots ever.

I didn't miss stealing a kiss from my hubby :)

Or the flat plains of Texas that went on for miles and miles - I suppose I would have to be knocked out cold to have missed those though...

We laid in our tent that night and enjoyed an amazing thunderstorm, and when we woke up in the morning we found this in our campground. I made David go sneak a picture of it! I've always wanted one of those silver bullet campers, but I suppose if I couldn't have one of those, this would suffice. Note the attention to every detail of all things Texas on this John Wayne one-of-a-kind.

Lastly, because of the thunderstorm, the air was cool enough for us to take a beautiful 6-mile hike that brought us this amazing view of the canyon,

And the lighthouse at the end of the trail.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

On Our Way

Ok, so first of all, did whoever it was that created state borders decide on the California/Arizona border by where the saguaro's begin growing?! I've never seen a live saguaro in my whole life and as soon as we crossed the border we were in an entire forest of them! 
As David can attest, I get quite excited about little things like that, so there was a lot of oooing and ahhhing for a good thirty minutes as I pointed out saguaro after saguaro. He was obliging and continued to respond with the appropriate enthusiasm for me long after most anyone would find necessary - he's a good hubby like that :) 

And of course, as soon as opportunity presented itself, we had to stop and take a picture of myself and my new found love.

The rugged mountains were also quite unexpected.

As is most always the case, plans never seem to go as planned, and as we watched the weather and drove through the scorching 110˚ heat, we knew that our 'Lost Dutchman' campground, with great trails and plenty of folklore, would have to be abandoned for the more practical and much less glamorous KOA cabin with AC. It turned out to be cute and mostly cool, and exactly what we needed :) 

We celebrated our arrival with a delicious dinner of salmon and 

After three successful events for David, and with the advice of a girl who grew up on the reservation, we took the long way to Albuquerque. We were immediately rewarded with sights of nature that took our breath away, and considering that we may never pass this way again, it was well worth the twenty mile dirt - and sometimes treacherous - road we found ourselves on for part of the journey.

This giant flower bloomed only on the dirt road section, and at times dotted the rocky hills all around us.

We made it to camp in the beautiful - and much cooler - white mountains of northeast Arizona... 

where we again celebrated with a satisfying dinner. I wonder if I'll still be as excited as I am now about cooking dinner over the fire when we're done with this whole thing ;)

One of the things that I had really been looking forward to since we began planning this journey was visiting the petrified forest. Let me just say, it was nothing like I expected. It sits in the middle of the fields of a high desert grasslands at seven thousand feet. David and I kept feeling like we were on that barren stretch of highway 80 from Lyman to Green River that looks like you've somehow, magically landed on Mars. The petrified wood did not disappoint though,

and we did find a flower.

We had planned on backpacking into the forest and staying the night there, but alas, the heat and wind were so strong, our plans had to again be discarded. We arrived in Albuquerque, following the heat wave, and have plopped down in another KOA with air conditioning. This one has an air conditioner that seems to rattle excessively loud though, which makes it hard to imagine that we are out in nature.

So we got up early today to try and beat the heat and take a hike through the petroglyphs monument park. We didn't beat the heat, and the trail was like the sand of a beach - without the ocean crashing nearby. We saw the tracks of all kinds of critters - things with little feet and long tails that dragged in the sand, tiny feet that made thousands of tiny prints, and a slithering snake track.

Note the rattle on the tail of this petroglyph. Eeeek!