Tag Archives: vacation

Vacation

We are on vacation and I am seeing marvelous things. I’ve already crossed two things off my bucket list: Mt. Rushmore and Devil’s Tower.
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They were both impressive, but it was easier to leave Mt. Rushmore than it was to leave Devil’s Tower. Mt. Rushmore is a wonderful work of art, but Devil’s Tower has a natural spirit that is more ancient and more sacred. As long as there have been people living within sight of Devil’s Tower, they have considered It a holy place. It is breathtaking, even from a distance. I gasped the first time it came into view. I kept marveling at it all the way to the visitor center, where we got out of the car so we could get even closer. We thought we might just get a good look and move on, but there was a trail we just couldn’t resist. It goes all the way around the tower. It’s just 1.3 miles, so we thought it wouldn’t take long, but we were wrong about that. Progress is slow when you stop every few feet to take a picture.

We changed our minds about getting back on the road and making some progress towards Yellowstone. We decided to stay in the Devil’s Tower campground.
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We wanted to spend more time with this view.

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Vacation Time

This is going to be one of those, “I don’t have time to blog today and I just came here to tell you that” blog posts. I have spent the last few days trying to do all the things I absolutely had to do to before my husband and I could go on vacation. We start that vacation tomorrow morning and I need to pack up my netbook, so I need to make this short and sweet.

Short, anyway. I’m excited about my trip but exhausted from getting ready for it, so I don’t think I will start feeling relaxed until I get out of the state of Florida. That doesn’t take long when we’re heading north. Jacksonville is only about forty minutes from the Georgia border. It takes a lot longer when we’re heading west, which is what we’re doing tomorrow morning. The Florida panhandle is long, but we will jog north into Alabama at some point. We might even be catching part of Georgia. My husband has probably told me exactly where we’re going, but I’ve been stressing out over preparations, so I don’t remember.

I let him plan our whole route last September and we had the best vacation of our lives, so I have no qualms about trusting him with this trip, too. He has retired from his office job, so this journey will be more open-ended than the last one. I told him I would like to see Mount Rushmore and Devil’s Tower and giant redwoods if we have enough time. I’m the one who needs to be back. There are tie-dye things that need to be done.

I don’t know if I will be able to keep up with this blog while we’re on the road. We will be camping in our Little Blue Teardrop Trailer and some of the campgrounds may not have wifi or even a phone signal. I just don’t know, but I will keep up if I can. We will be seeing some beautiful scenery, so I know I will want to share pictures.

Meanwhile, here’s a picture of the load-up.
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Once I add this netbook, I think we’ll be done for tonight.

I’m Glad I Danced

The bills have arrived. I have piles of receipts I am matching up to my credit card statements. Every time I check one off, a memory is triggered that makes me say, “Worth it!” The gas to get us out of Florida? Worth it. Camping fees at our first stop in Mississippi? Worth it. The gas to get us out of Mississippi? Worth it. Admission to the Very Large Array? Worth it. Postcards for the grandchildren? Worth it.

More gas, more admissions, more postcards? All worth it. It’s time to pay the piper and I am grateful that I got to dance. There is now scientific evidence that spending money on experiences will make us happier than spending it on stuff. I don’t have a lot to show for the money we spent on our trip out West – a few refrigerator magnets and a lot of photographs – but I have memories that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I had reached an age (sixty-one, if you’re counting) when I was starting to think I might not have any more adventures. I thought I might just sit in my comfy chair and play iPad games or have virtual adventures on the Xbox 360 for the rest of my life, but I was wrong. Amazingly, delightfully wrong. I went out into America, and I saw beautiful things. I saw things I had dreamed of seeing all my life and I saw things I had never even imagined. I hiked legendary trails and I hiked trails so obscure we only knew about them because there’s an internet and a search engine to help find them. I climbed a scary ladder and felt stronger and braver than I’ve felt since my last child was born.

I used to say, “I want to see the Grand Canyon before I die.” Well, I’ve seen it now, but I’m not done yet. I have a list. I want to see Yosemite. I want to see Yellowstone. I want to see giant sequoias and I want to see the Aurora Borealis. The world is full of beautiful things and I want to see as many of them as I can.

We saved for this trip, so I can pay these bills once I get them in order. We will do that, and then we will start saving for the next trip. Sometimes, I look at credit card statements and wonder what in the world I was thinking when I charged all that stuff. This time, I know exactly what I was thinking.
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Worth it.

A Few Words

Still no words. I have been sitting here for more than an hour, typing and deleting sentence after sentence, trying to come up with a way to describe my experiences these past two weeks, visiting some of America’s most beautiful National Parks. It’s hopeless. I’m still on the road and I need to get some sleep. Here are some more pictures.

The Petrified Forest

The Petrified Forest


The Painted Desert

The Painted Desert


Landscape Arch in Arches National Park

Landscape Arch in Arches National Park


Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park


Mesa Verde

Mesa Verde


The Scary Ladder ( yes, I climbed it)

The Scary Ladder ( yes, I climbed it)


Our wonderful tour guide at Balcony House in Mesa Verde National Park

Our wonderful tour guide at Balcony House in Mesa Verde National Park


Long View from Balcony House

Long View from Balcony House


Kiva Ladder, from outside the Kiva

Kiva Ladder, from outside the Kiva


Kiva ladder, from inside the Kiva

Kiva ladder, from inside the Kiva


In the Sun Temple, Mesa Verde National Park

In the Sun Temple, Mesa Verde National Park

Drawings!

I’m back in flat Florida. It’s nice to have running water again. It’s nice to be sleeping in a place where I can sprawl. I’m trying to be positive, but it’s hard not to miss those gorgeous mountains and those glorious Fall colors. I’m not going to go into detail about my vacation. The last time I did that, my older daughter refused to read that week’s blog post. She had already been subjected to our vacation stories and our vacation pictures. I’m going to give her a break and talk about creativity instead.

I have something exciting to report. I did a drawing every single day while I was in North Carolina! I started with the first thing I saw when I stepped out of my car on our hillside campsite – some pokeweed berries that very nearly hit me in the face. The berries were bright green but their stems were magenta. I was using my set of twelve watercolor pencils, so there was no way I could capture those colors perfectly, but they were so startling that I had to try.

Pokeweed

Pokeweed

Once I had done a drawing the very first day we arrived, I started to think I might be able to do one every day. I was surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, so I had no excuse not to try. The next two days I chose wildflowers that were growing on the hillside and I was reasonably happy with those drawings.

Yellow flowers

Yellow flowers


Purple flowers

Purple flowers

Then I tried something different: a pair of work gloves lying across some cut firewood. This was so much more difficult than the little bits of flora I had done the first three days, I wanted to give up in the middle of it. The perspective was all wrong; the gravity wasn’t working…my inner critic was going on and on about how horrible this little drawing was.

Impossible gloves

Impossible gloves

I’ve tried doing a drawing a day before. Then I would reach a point like this and my inner critic would start telling me that I had no talent and it was never going to get any better and I might as well give up. Every other time, that was exactly what I did. Not this time. I did go back to flora. I chose a small, pretty leaf in colors that were readily available in my tin, but I kept going. One more day, one more drawing, no quitting. Go me!

Sumac leaf

Sumac leaf

The following day was our day to visit an orchard, so that day I drew an apple. I like this one a lot. Smooth, round fruits are easy.

Apple

Apple

Maybe too easy. The next day I had the nerve to think I might be able to draw a doughnut. My tin had no browns except dark umber, but I did not let that discourage me. I had no idea that all the nooks and crannies of a doughnut make it an entire world on your plate – a world you must draw before you can eat.

Doughnut

Doughnut

My inner critic got loud again that day, so the next day, I went back to flora.

Another leaf

Another leaf

One more Autumn leaf makes eight drawings to add to my list of fifty things. Actually, nine. I had drawn a couple of peppers before I left home.

Peppers

Peppers

I forgot to date the drawing, so I’m not sure when I drew it, but it was definitely during my sixtieth year, so it counts.