Monday, June 27, 2011

Blue Light Special

There are no pictures with this blog, but Scott said I had to blog about it since I blogged about his experience with Hairy Armpit Lady.  That still cracks me up! 

After our day at Grand Canyon, we got back to the van and began our drive to just north of Phoenix.  A little ways down the interstate, we noticed a sign that said “Sedona.”  Scott’s dad had mentioned that would be something we might want to see, so we decided to detour off of the interstate to see if we could make it before sunset.  It was a drive down into a canyon, steep hill, winding curves, but some incredibly beautiful scenery.  We made it in time to see a few beautiful formations before sunset, but it was too dark to get pictures.  We drove on through the little town and decided to grab a quick bite to eat at Wendy’s.

When we finished eating, I told Scott I was fine to continue driving.  Starting off, there were about five roundabouts within about two miles on the road leading out of Sedona, and it was a little bit confusing.  It was dark, the roads were unfamiliar, and I was driving.  About three miles down the road, going down a steep part of the mountain, I passed an SUV sitting on the side of the road facing up the hill towards me.  You guessed it!  As soon as I got almost even with it, headlights popped on, and he pulled out behind me.  Scott said, “Oh, crap!”  I said, “Oh, crap!” I had no idea what the speed limit was, which made me furious because until that point I had been on constant lookout for the speed limit signs and had spent most of the time on cruise control.  About the time I passed him, I saw the 45 mph sign.  Since he didn’t have his blue lights flashing yet, I immediately flipped on the cruise control set at 45.  Maybe he would change his mind!

Fat chance!  It took him about a mile to get his blue lights flashing behind me.  I pulled over… right in front of a speed limit sign that said 55 mph.  Really!?!?!  The policeman came up to my window, and he looked like he was about 16 years old.  He asked for my license and registration, so I gave him my license while Scott scrounged through the glove box for the registration.  Took him forever to find the one that wasn’t expired, since I never throw those things away, just keep adding them to the glove box.  So while Scott was sorting through expired registrations, I turned to the “kid” and said, “Are you going to give me a ticket?”  Might as well get that little detail out of the way instead of suffering in anticipation while he goes back to his blue light SUV to call in my license information.  His response, “No.”  I could have kissed him.  And I think Scott might have been okay with it.  Then he said, “Do you know the speed limit was 35 back before it was 45, and I clocked you going 55?”  My response, “Are you serious?”  Could I have been more stupid?  So then I started doing some nervous babbling about how we had come from the Grand Canyon and decided to detour through Sedona and had just left Wendy’s on our way to Phoenix and I hadn’t seen a speed limit sign yet… blah, blah, blah.

His next question, which I have never been asked before when I’ve been pulled over (which has only been three times before in 25 years, but still…), “Do you have any weapons?”  Okay, long story short, Scott got me a handgun for Christmas in anticipation of taking this cross-country road trip so we would have a gun to take along.  We both took a concealed carry class, applied for a concealed carry permit, but the permits didn’t arrive before we left.  So, once again, I did some nervous babbling… “uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, yes… I have a pistol.”  A pistol?  I’m such a goober!  He then said, “Where is it?”  I said, “In the back.”  He said, “Okay.  I’ll be right back, going to call this in.”  So at that point I’m thinking I’m not getting a ticket for going 20 mph over the speed limit, which I assume is considered reckless driving, but I’m going to jail for having a concealed handgun!  I started praying really hard!

After what seemed like forever, he came back and said, “Verbal warning this time.  Have a safe trip.”  Hallelujah!  I almost cried.  After gushing our gratitude (to the policeman and to God!), I pulled back onto the highway, set us on cruise control, and drove away.  Scott said, “You should have let me drive.”  Then he said, “Although, he probably would have given me a ticket.”  We’ve been on this trip for two weeks, and that was the first (and last) time I haven’t been aware of the speed limit.  Too much excitement for one day!

How Great is our God

On Tuesday, June 21st we went to the Grand Canyon.  I don't know how anybody can look upon such a magnificent view and still deny the existence of God.  And I don’t know how many times I am going to have to say this, but there’s no other way to say it… pictures can’t possibly do it justice.  When we arrived, we took the girls to the first lookout point for them to get their first viewing.  They were amazed, just as Scott and I were the first time we saw it.  After a few snapshots, we boarded one of the shuttles that took us to different overlooks along the edge of the canyon.  They wanted to see the place where Scott almost threw himself into the canyon a few years ago.  If you don’t know that particular “Scott story,” just let me know… I’ll be more than happy to fill you in.  :-)

Ashlee's & Emilee's first view of the Grand Canyon

Such an amazing sight to see

We got to our favorite spot and sat down to relax for a bit.  Well, I don’t know how much relaxing I did with Scott and Ashlee hanging themselves off of the edge!  Emilee and I hung a few feet back from the edge… we are weenies!  After a few minutes though, much to Ashlee’s dismay, I finally had to get her to scoot back from the edge – she was freaking me out!

The view from our favorite spot

Ashlee couldn't wait to dangle herself off the edge just to mess with me!

Emilee wasn't getting anywhere near the edge.

While we were sitting there taking in the view, something moved in my peripheral vision.  Scared me to death, but it was just a squirrel... a very friendly squirrel.  He came right up to us hoping for a scrap of food, which we didn’t give him, and then he sprawled right out on the rock beside us to bask in the sunshine.

Look how he is sprawled out just catching some rays.

He looks like he's praying.

We hopped back on the shuttle to get back to the van for our picnic lunch.  After lunch, we decided to hike down into the canyon a little ways.  We knew from experience that for every 10 minutes you walk down, it takes 20 to 30 minutes to walk back up.  So we didn’t go very far, but it was far enough for me!  On our way down the trail we passed some mules coming back up from the bottom.  Can you imagine riding one of those down those narrow trails into the canyon?  Although they say they've never lost a mule or a rider, my response to that is there's a first time for everything and have you ever heard of Murphy's Law?

Mules on the trail we were heading down

At the top of the trail
Stopping to yield to the mules

On our way back up the trail, we stopped off to rest beside a couple of ladies who were also resting.  They overheard me talking and asked where we were from.  I don’t know what gave it away that I was not from the area!  ;-)  When I told them I was from Winston-Salem, they were shocked.  One of them was from High Point, and the other said she was from just outside of Winston.  I asked whereabouts outside of Winston, and she said she was from Advance.  Unbelievable!  We are over halfway across the country and we run into someone who lives five miles away from us.   

View from the trail we were hiking

View of the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon

After our hike and our little chat with neighbors from home, we got back on the shuttle for the ride back to the visitor’s center.  Of course, we had to stop off at the gift shop first where Scott had an encounter with a block of ice (photo below).

Does he look hot?

Although that’s a “fun” pic, my most “fun” pic of the day also spotlights Scott.  The park was pretty crowded, and some people had to stand between stops.  A family got onto the bus and stood right beside Scott.  When one of the ladies raised her arm to hold onto the rail above Scott’s head, his head shot sideways and he looked back at me and Emilee (he and Ashlee were sitting in front of us).  We realized what he was trying to tell us when I looked up at the lady that was standing above him.  She had on a tank top, and we’re assuming she was foreign because there she stood, arms raised right above Scott’s head, in all her hairy armpit glory.  When I say hairy armpits, I’m talking long enough to braid!  I know Scott’s brother, Chris, is getting a huge kick out of this!  You should have seen it in person.  For those of you who don’t know Scott very well, he has a very weak stomach.  He was gagging, and the girls and I were rolling.  I was laughing so hard, I had tears rolling down my face.  And I just couldn’t resist sneaking a picture.  So, Chris, enjoy the snapshot!

Feel free to click on the pic to zoom in to get a feel for what Scott experienced!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Petrified Forest National Park

On Monday morning, June 20, we left Albuquerque for Flagstaff.  On the drive, Scott spotted a mountain ahead of us that looked like a face overlooking the town below it.  We dubbed it “Sleepy Mountain.”  Do you see the eyes and eyebrows, or do you think we were just delirious from the heat? 

Do you see the face on the mountain?

We had scheduled a stopover in Holbrook to go to the Petrified Forest National Park to see the Painted Desert and some petrified trees.  Just like God paints a pretty sky, he paints a beautiful desert!  Layers of color painted on the side of peaks in the desert - quite spectacular!

The Painted Desert in Petrified Forest National Park

We stopped off along the desert loop drive for a picnic and were joined by a huge black bird.  He sat close by stalking us just waiting for a morsel of food to fall.  The second we walked away from the table, he flew down to look for leftovers.
A huge blackbird stalking our picnic lunch

Hoping for a leftover scrap of food

More of the Painted Desert

This is actually the back of a bench at one of the stops marking Route 66.

And more of the Painted Desert

We drove on around the loop pulling off at the turnouts to snap pictures until we made it to the “Crystal Forest” trail, where there was lots of petrified wood along the path.  Emilee chose to do this one because it had a pretty name.  It was one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen.  Was it a tree, or was it a rock?  Some were just small chunks, but some pieces were huge.  And the colors mixed together were gorgeous.

Standing in front of an old petrified tree

A huge chunk of petrified wood

Some kind of reptile sitting on the side of the trail

Toward the end of the drive around the loop, we stopped off to look down at some petroglyphs.  There were free viewfinders here, so we could get a close-up look at the drawings.  I was able to snap a picture of Ashlee looking through one of the viewfinders.  She kept saying she couldn’t see anything through the one she was looking through.  Upon closer inspection of the picture, you can see Emilee’s fingers covering the end of her scope – check out the sneaky grin on Emilee’s face!  Ashlee didn’t have a clue until I showed her the picture.  Fortunately for Emilee, Ash has a good sense of humor and got a kick out of it right along with the rest of us. 

"I can't see a thing!"  Look at that sneaky Emilee!

We finished up in the park, and as we were leaving Emilee spotted a shack on the side of the road advertising petrified wood for a quarter.  So we had to stop and check it out just in case it was legitimate.  To a 12-year-old, everything is legitimate!  They did have what appeared to be petrified wood pieces for a quarter, but they lure you in with the sign and then you see all the “BIG” pieces with “all the pretty colors” priced by weight!  The girls each picked out pieces for $1, and we were once again on the road to Flagstaff for our day at the Grand Canyon tomorrow.

My “fun” pics of the day… we spotted the Sleep Wigwam Motel on the road between Holbrook and Flagstaff.  We had to turn around and go back just to take pictures.  It made us think of the Disney movie, Cars.

I would love to see the inside of this!

If you look close, in the background you can see "Mater" from the movie "Cars."

Old Town Albuquerque

On Sunday afternoon, we drove into Old Town Albuquerque.  There were lots of little shops surrounding a town square with a gazebo.  We were on the hunt for Emilee’s souvenir… she wanted a sombrero.  Scott started off helping us look, but when he found a scary looking whip and looked at me with an evil gleam in his eye, I decided he needed to go sit down and relax somewhere else!  You can tell by the photo below that he must have said something funny because Ashlee was laughing!  :-)  So he went out to sit in the square while we did some browsing and finally found a sombrero for Emilee.

Scott & Ashlee testing out the whip!  Scared me too.  HA!

Emilee's souvenir - a pink sombrero!

While we were paying for the sombrero, Scott called me and said there was a gunfight going on out in the street.  Two gunfighters and a dolled up lady were having it out in the middle of the road.  I think they were doing some kind of advertisement for their evening show down the street.  After their 5-minute routine, they were walking back in my direction, and one of them caught me taking his picture.  So he pulled his gun on me and told me he had to shoot me for that!  The girls got a kick out of it!  Then it was back to the hotel for some lunch, swimming, and more relaxing.

Gunfight in Old Town Albuquerque

I almost got "shot" by the man on the right for snapping this picture.

When I made my quick grocery run yesterday, I got two frozen pizzas to have for dinner tonight.  Much to my dismay, the “oven” I assumed was underneath the countertop stove was actually a dishwasher.  Fortunately, the front desk clerk overheard me at breakfast that morning trying to figure out how I was going to cook those pizzas.  She talked to the breakfast hostess and they allowed me to use the commercial oven in their kitchen that night.  Isn’t it amazing how God takes care of not only the huge things (like safe hot air balloon rides), but he even works out the little things for us?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Want To Make A Bet?

After our early morning hot air balloon adventure and breakfast back at the hotel, we went back to our room for a bit.  The girls presented their Father’s Day cards to Daddy, and we loaded up the cooler with water and headed to Petroglyph National Monument. 

Happy Father's Day!

We chose three short trails to hike up the side of what was bigger than a hill but not really big enough to be considered a mountain.  The trails wound us through what looked like large boulders of black lava rock where we spotted some ancient petroglyphs.  We weren’t sure if the petroglyphs we saw were really ancient or if they were carved in recently by local teenagers.  Regardless, it was fun. 

If you look closely, you can see a petroglyph on the boulder to the left.
This one didn't look very authentic, but who knows? :-)

On the third hike, which was all the way up to the top of the hill, Ashlee spotted a sign, once again, warning to be on the lookout for rattlesnakes.  She was determined to see one, so she was on the hunt looking in every crack and crevice.  At one point she yelled, “I see one!”  We all ran over to look.  False alarm.  So I made the flippant comment, “Ashlee, if you see a snake, I’ll give you five bucks.”  That was all the motivation she needed.  We got to the top and walked to the edge to look out over the city.  Once again, Ashlee squealed, “I see one for real this time!”  So we sauntered over to take a look.  I lost five bucks!  Then I lost my footing while trying to get a good picture without getting too close to the snake, and I almost fell off the rock I was balanced on.  I recovered though and got a great picture as the snake turned its head toward me.


I didn't like when it turned toward me. I left pretty quickly!

On our way back down the trail, Ashlee was basking in the glory of winning $5 from me, and Emilee was stewing because she wanted $5 too.  I said, “I wonder what kind of snake that was?”  Emilee’s reply, “Will you give me five bucks if I figure it out?”  Always the entrepreneur!  And my answer was no!

Going back down