Gypsy's Travels

Thursday, July 30, 2009

When All is Quiet on the Homefront

Abs and I had a wonderful trip. It is rather like childbirth, you forget the bad parts and only remember the good parts. There were plenty of good parts to remember, but Abs does not take "change" well, so there were a few difficult times too. Gunner was supposed to be in Colorado by a certain date, but he waited until we returned before he left so he could visit with Abs. ABW stayed a few extra days to run a triathlon, rested, then drove straight through to Colorado with two little hearts. Abs stayed with me. We dangled the offer of an airplane ride in front of her, like a carrot in front of Goozeberry, as temptation to stay. She will fly out Saturday.

This will be Abs' first flight since she was about 3 years old, so it will all be new. I have been filling her head with information so the ride will, hopefully, be smooth for all concerned. It is nonstop and her family will be waiting. Knowing ABW's desire to always be on time, they will be waiting at the airport long before the expected flight arrives.

My time with Abs has not been dull by any means.
"Don't blog about me!" she says, but we do.
Life with Abs deserves to be shared. So I choose a few things to share. They brighten my day, in retrospect, and I hope they brighten yours, serve as a reminder of fleeting childhood and that people are more important than things....or what someone else thinks.

With her parent's permission, I took Abs for a haircut. She had chopped a hunk off front and center and it was beginning to grow out. She is rivaling her brother's cowlick right now. She had also chopped a hunk off center back, but it doesn't show when her hair is down.

Before haircut

After haircut
"Doesn't that shirt belong to Em?" I asked Abs when I first saw her wearing it.
"She gave it to me," Abs said.
"Well, that was nice of her," I said, knowing Em is not fond of sharing her clothes with Abs.
"Yes. I touched it and she said it now had cooties, so I got to keep it," Abs told me matter-of-factly, but with a touch of sadness.
Abs has really been busy these last 3 weeks with me. She looked positively angelic serving as an acolyte Sunday morning. She has read "The Last Olympian" 6 times ( I offer new books, but she prefers to reread this one); painted plaster-of-paris dinosaurs, colored, and colored, and colored; pasted fabric on a sweatshirt for a project we are doing; strung beads, beads, and more beads; gone to 2 plays; gone to the park, played in the sprinklers ( mud and all); written letters using Egyptian hieroglyphics; built with Legos; played with cousins; etc., etc., etc. Ask her what she did and she will say "Nothing."

"This is a Drakon. It has hard scales and bright eyes, like spotlights. Most have no fire, but this one breathes fire so she can light campfires. She is several millennium older than dragons."

Abs plays quietly in the bath for as long as I will allow. That time has been getting shorter and shorter. The rules are:
  • Don't add water to the tub
  • Don't splash the water out of the tub
  • Don't water the plants
  • Leave the shampoo alone
Without strict supervision, she waters my tub-side plants to overflowing. When I asked why a giraffe planter was standing in an inch of water -
"I don't know how THAT happened!" she said with great surprise.

I shampoo her hair to conserve shampoo and water, but the tub was filled to the brim with bubbles and the shampoo bottle was empty -
"I didn't do anything," she said, "just swept my hands back and forth and all these bubbles appeared."

We are almost to the point of having water rationing here since we have had no rain for 60+ days and temperatures in the triple digits. Therefore, I request that Abs not add water to the tub. O.K., O.K., it is also because she tends to overflow it. Invariably, if I don't check on her often enough, I return to find a tub filled to the top with water, the tap "just trickling" in her eyes, "running" in my eyes, and Abs happily "surfing," and water everywhere.

Sleep? Abs lines up her 10-12 animals just so; snuggles down under 4-6 blankets, afghans, and quilts; says her prayers; then we call her mother. ABW talks to her for 1/2 hour, sings her a song; repeats the song as many times as Abs can commandeer; says goodnight and I turn out the lights.
"Turn the fan on; I'm hot!" she shouts from under her pile of blankets. Taking some of them off is not an option in her opinion.
Abs paddles in to get a drink of water....and again....and again...I am getting frustrated.....

Quiet reigns. I go back to check and find Abs reading. I take the bulb out of the lamp (I learned this from her mother). The overhead light is too high to reach easily so I make threats....
I return later to find her reading by the night light. I promise to remove it if she reads any more. Many people would be thrilled to have their children spend that much time reading. I used to read by the light of the moon

Last night I did not check again until I went to bed. All was quiet, I had left her snuggled and sleepy-eyed, and had congratulated myself on finally getting everything under control. I stayed up way too late and headed down the hall to go bed about midnight. The overhead light from Abs' room was shining brightly and I figured she had left it on after reading too long. I slipped in to turn out the light and take a last look at her angelic face in quiet repose. I discovered her sitting in her bed, fingers fairly flying as she twisted pipe cleaners into shapes "for my daddy." She had made a bunch of "large fish," a large "fish net", a small "fish net", and many small "fish (anchovies"). The "netting" was based on our visit with a Paiute elder we met on our trip, who was demonstrating the craft. It was midnight!

Abs is preparing for her trip to her new home in Colorado. I have warned ABW that, although I have washed all the clothes, and Abs has been wearing underwear all week, now she has none.
There is never a dull moment.

I will miss her, but right now it is very quiet and I need to see what new surprise she has in store for me.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Trip with Abs - Heading Home - 5 July 2009

The Elderhostel program was over and we left St. George, Utah, to head home. Abs' family was preparing to move to Colorado and Gunner was waiting to give her a hug before he left.

I decided to make a couple of stops that were not out of the way and thought Abs might enjoy.

Somewhere I missed a turn and missed the weird houses I had seen previously but we did get a closer view of Glen Canyon Dam. Abs must have been a little anxious to get on the road because she declined to take a tour of the inner workings. Of course she did want to visit the attached book shop where we ended up with another book on dinosaurs.
We stopped early enough to drive through the painted desert

and visit the Petrified Forest (free with our National Parks Pass). The Ranger Station had scavenger hunt papers and Abs was all into it. She earned a pin and a patch and learned something in the process.
Abs was fascinated by the petrified wood.
She found it particularly interesting to see how dry the area was and learn how the trees had once stood straight and tall by a big lake that was frequented by dinosaurs. It really brought the entire picture into better focus.
Of course, we are never to busy to watch the rainbow and remember the promises God has made to us.
We watched the sun set as we headed back to our last night in a hotel. We would make it all the way home the next day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Travels With Abs - 7/4/2009 - Kanab, Utah

We left Ruby's Inn and headed back to St. George via Kanab, Utah.

We stopped for a brief look at Red Rock Canyon, before we left the enticing colored cliffs.

Scott Richardson joined us in Kanab to explain more about the excavation and freeing of fossils from their surroundings. He also showed us some of the latest finds. What an exciting time for paleontologists!

Abs holds the "toe bone" of a dinosaur that had teeth at least 6" long.

Scott explains the fossilized impressions of dinosaur skin.

This plaster model is the only thing left of a rare find from several years ago. The original skull was stolen and probably resides now in the museum of some private collector.

Fossils are carefully collected from sites and transported in "plaster jackets." The pieces are put together like an ancient jigsaw puzzle, often without a photo to guide.

They must be carefully pieced back together to tell the story of the animal.

Sott Richardson holds the bone of a dinosaur that had a broken leg. The leg was partially healed, but probably left the creature vulnerable. Many bones show teeth marks and other trauma. Paleontologists can piece together many of the stories the bones leave behind.

We spent a little time in the museum. They had a Junior Ranger program, but Abs was the only one interested and she did not have enough time to finish.
A visit to the local rock shop was a joy for rock-loving Abs. She shops for rocks like I shop for fabric. She did end up with a small trilobite for her Aunt Kr to make into some sort of jewelry for her.
Lunch was served at Frontier Movie Town where there are many old sets from movies, many of them filmed in Kanab and surrounding areas. The sets have been brought to this central location and are fun to wander through and take photos. No charge!

Lunch was preceded by our group's acting in "How the West Was Lost." We all put on costumes and followed the set script while a man ran around frantically taking photos. The photos were available later for $10.00 each. Fortunately, they sold out to doting grandparents before I saw them. I don't imagine I was very photogenic in my Indian garb with camera, and other items I carried for a couple of children, hanging off me, but it was fun.

We had a very nice barbecue lunch. Abs only ate rolls and drank lemonade, I limited the rolls to two and gave her an apple on the bus. I should have tucked a jar of peanut butter in my purse.

It did not seem like the Fourth of July. We were visiting the museum when Kanab had their town parade, but we were headed back to St. George and were assured our hotel was a great place to see the fireworks. That was an understatement! I think the whole town gathered in front of our place and we joined in the family atmosphere. I cringed when someone pulled a pick-uo truck in front of the building, opened the door, and turned the radio up to LOUD, but when the fireworks started, I discovered they were set to the music on the radio station and we felt like we had front row seats. It was one of the best firework displays I have ever seen. A barrage would go off at the park a few blocks away, and while it was reloading, we were treated to another display on a nearby hill. The two sites kept up a constant, heavy stream of fireworks for the entire time. no downtime to wonder if that was all there would be.
Finally, I felt like the Fourth of July had arrived.

Travels With Abs - Bryce National Park 7/3/2009

We had a very comfortable stay at Ruby's Inn, just outside Bryce, for 2 nights. It was almost a small city in itself, yet without a hint of what was waiting for us at the park. We went by coach to the park, but the Bryce Shuttle also makes the trip from Ruby's Inn.
Since it is not a great distance from Zion to Bryce, I expected the parks to be very similar. What a surprise when we burst upon the glory that is Bryce. The erosion in Bryce differs from that in Zion to form very different terrain.
The rocks are similar in color to Zion, but the formations are quite different. Bryce was our introduction to hoodoos.
We began our morning with a 2 mile hike beginning at the far end of the Rim Trail, progressing to Inspiration Point. It was a wise choice since the trail seemed to be downhill hiking in our chosen direction. Those of us who live at sea level have to struggle just a little at those higher altitudes.
The hike was fairly easy and there were plenty of stops to allow us to exclaim about the view and to benefit from Darrell's learned guidance on flora and fauna.

After lunch, we headed to the corral for an hour of horseback riding. The top wrangler checked us out and decided which horses would be suitable. We walked over to the cowboys who found the horse, then helped each person mount, and gave instructions on handling. Abs rode "Goozeberry," a mule that claimed her heart immediately. The wrangler told me I was to ride "Winnie," so I duly reported my message. No one knew which horse that was and I began to wonder. Back up the chain of command, the word came down that it was "Queenie." Those Utah accents will get you every time. "Queenie' was a tall horse. I felt like a contortionist as I tried to get my foot in the stirrup that hung about waist high.
The trail began as a flat and easy stretch of path leading toward a grove of trees, then the cowboy leader brought the group to a stop.
"We will be climbing the trail. Give your horse his head and he will take you along. He has done this a whole lot more than you have, so trust him." This speech was just a little ominous.
Not only had we been placed on the best horse for us, the horses had been lined up in a particular way. I discovered the horse in front of me lagged behind a lot, so "Queenie," who kept her nose resting on the forward horse's rump, would nip him every once in a while to speed him up.
The flat trail quickly turned to a steep climb with a drop-off alternately on the right and left sides. The horses and mules stayed to the drop-off side because the trail was softer there. I trusted the animal, although I don't know how she could see where her feet were going, but I did not trust the trail not to give way and send us crashing down the hill.
Abs, who claims to be afraid of heights, just talked and looked around at the scenery.
"Weren't you frightened?" I asked her later.
"No," she said. "I just let go of the reins and let the mule have its head like they told us to do. It was FUN!"The ride was fun, and I managed to snap a few photos as I bounced along. I think the animals had been saving everything up for one particular area on the trail, near a switchback. Almost every one of them made a contribution to Horse Latrine Pool (my name for it, not theirs).
We had a nice ride and survived thunder and lightening without mishap or rain. An hour later we were dismounting back in the corral and congratulating each other on our, much improved, horseback riding skills.

We headed back to the Ruby's Inn for dinner, swimming, and an early bedtime.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Travels With Abs - Zion National Park 7/2//2009

We boarded a coach, bound for Zion National Park, right after breakfast. We would be staying a couple of nights near Bryce, but we got to keep our room in St. George, so we only had to take a few things with us. Nice! It was less than 2 hours to Zion and we had videos (of dinosaurs) to watch on the way. I have been amazed there are so many dinosaur videos. I thought, the flawed, "Jurassic Park" was about the only thing out there, but National Geographic and Discovery Channel have a lot of different options.

Zion National Park is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, the oldest national park in Utah. A National Park pass gets you in for "free", and free shuttle buses will take you for a ride all the way round, where you can get off and on at will. The ride on the way in has a commentary on the park and its geologic features. We traveled to "The Riverside Walk" and hiked to the end. It follows the Virgin River along the bottom of a narrow canyon, is fairly easy, not paved, and partially shaded. Fortunately, there was good cloud cover, so we didn't suffer from the extreme heat we had been seeing in St. George. There were plenty of stops along the way to learn about the geology, plant, and wildlife of the area from Darrell and Marcia, our patient leaders.

Abs soaks up a lesson in geology.
This site was below an area that had suffered from a forest fire. When it rained, the waterfall was black, leaving traces of soot and debris on the face. Of course, we did not see a waterfall.

Maidenhair fern thrives in the cracks of the rocks. If we had seen a waterfall, there would surely have been a small one here at one of the hanging gardens.

The "Great White Throne," a grayish white expanse of rock that towers over Zion Canyon and is the main landmark for the park.

We left the trail and boarded a shuttle back to civilization. There was no commentary on the way back "leaving ample time to reflect on your journey and the scenery." Most were too tired to carry on conversations and the shuttle was filled, with visitors from many different countries as well as our folk. However, Abs and An, the similarly aged friend she had made on our trip, were in deep discussion. An had been given a "beetle farm" for her birthday one year and, since they had seen a lot of beetles on the trail, the girls were discussing the life cycle of the beetle. Everything went smoothly until they got to the reproductive cycle.
"How do they have babies?" Abs asked.
"One gets on top of the other and jiggles, then the female lays eggs." An replied.
There was not one snicker on this crowded, silent bus full of adults, but several people expressed their appreciation of the lesson as we departed. There was a lot of laughter after exiting.
It is against the rules to feed the wildlife, but some people feel they are above the rules. Here a cute little squirrel feasts on forbidden fruit. The squirrels were not intimidated by the human monsters who towered over them.

Could there ever be enough time to explore this beautiful park? I only know that I plan to return to camp, or rent a cabin, and attempt every trail in the park! I would like to make that every trail in every season, but that might be pushing it.

Our group moved on after a box lunch in the commons area. We were headed for Bryce where we would be staying for a couple of nights. During the trip by coach through the beautiful canyons, I took more photos out the bus window.Although this one appears to be the work of a super grader, the face of this mesa was actually scored by winds from opposing directions.

More scoring and examples of faults, uplifts, and such. DH would have loved all this.

Here is a naturally formed arch in the cliff. There were several of these.

We traveled to Bryce, but the beauty of that park was not to be revealed until the next day. After dinner, we went to the local rodeo. It consisted of locals who were breaking in new horses to the events, and practicing or learning. It was very family oriented and did not appear to push competition. There were a slew of young children who were gamely learning to ride whatever they were put on. One father led his daughter through a barrel race by holding on to the reins and running in front of the horse the whole way. Another small child was, I am convinced, not out of diapers.
Rodeoing is a tough life. My dad gave it up after my mother laid down the law early in their marriage, but I still have a lot of admiration for those who can face a bull or a bucking horse.
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