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I haven’t been blogging lately because we have been occupied with company. On Friday, my mom drove all the way from Baltimore to visit with us. We had a wonderful time even though it forced me to leave my safe place from the right corner of the sofa to experience life in a way similar to how I used to before my husband came along with television and high-speed Internet. (I blame him for all my sedentary ways.) Of course we had a lovely visit with my mom and I had to resist the urge to kidnap her when she left on Monday morning. It’s so hard to say goodbye to someone you love and miss so much. If only the weekends went as slowly as the work days, but in an enjoyable sort of way.

At least when your visitors go, they leave behind nice memories and a clean house (sometimes it seems like the only way to get the house clean).

See the pictures of Dupont Forest State Park and the Whitewater Olympic Trials at the National Whitewater Center right here in Charlotte.

Is it Thursday already? It’s hard to believe that almost a week has passed since I darkened the hallways at my office. Sadly, tomorrow it must start all over again. I only finished one from my large stack of library books and still haven’t made chocolate chip cookies. The days off go by so fast! I could weep.At least today we managed to leave the sofa for a short hike. South Mountains is one of my favorite parks. It has a waterfall, a standard feature of any North Carolina park, a hike along the river, somewhat challenging elevations, and even grills for public use. We got rain earlier in the week, so today was a perfect day to visit the park. The Falls are best to see after a good downpour when they’re full and gushing. Here are some pictures, many of which are very similar, but I can never get enough of this luscious place.

It’s the beautiful natural areas that I love so much about this area. Just an hour and a half away (which I know may be long by British standards), it’s such a treat to have something so lovely so nearby. The drive is so scenic too, passings scores of farms and fields in a rural America that is disappearing too fast.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.

 

I sit at the moment at a regular computer with a regular keyboard, and I’ve never appreciated it more!!

I’m in an Internet cafe and the charge is $3.75 for 15 minutes and 25 cents a minute after that, so I have no time for leisurely strolls through the Internet. If there’s one thing I never want to live without again in my life, it’s high speed Internet. This trip has shown me just how much I love regular keyboards and working monitors.

As we’ve had these days driving through so many indescribable natural sights, we can’t help but be overwhelmed with gratitude for all the beautiful things we have. Here’s a short list I was thinking of on the drive yesterday, as we meandered slowly along the Desert View entrance of the South Rim of the Grand Canyon:

1) High-speed Internet
2) Pocket PC with Internet access with serves as a great backup when your computer decides to die on the first day of vacation.
3) ICE!
4) Camelbacks and clean water.
5) Eyes to behold all these natural wonders.
6) Vacation time to have these amazing trips.
7) Supermarkets.
8) Good coffee, when you can find it.
9) Electronic stores, chain or not.
10) The best husband anyone could ask for, who plans our vacations, finds us clean, safe and comfortable hotels and organizes so many details including finding the good restaurant to eat in for dinner.

Here’s just one example of why I’m the luckiest wife on the planet. When we arrived yesterday at our hotel in the Grand Canyon, he said to me, “Well it’s supposed to be a surprise…” I wondered what he meant. I knew we were going to the South Rim and we had just checked into the hotel. Then he finished his thought, “Tomorrow, if the weather holds up, we’re taking a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon.” WHAT? What did he say? I was so stunned, I was speechless. It’s one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me, unless of course, he’s planning to push me out mid-flight, and who would blame him?

Interestingly though, the forecast for the rest of the weekend is rain and today, Saturday, I sit in the Internet cafe because the weather has cancelled our appointed flight time. We rescheduled for later in the day, but we’re not sure if we’ll actually get to fly. I’d say this is part of our usual luck, but I really just feel so grateful for the thought, that my kind husband did so much planning and made the reservation in the first place (while preparing for a Java exam at the same time), that it’s hard to feel too disappointed. Of course, I hope we do fly and get to have that experience, but really, the thought counts just as much.

Now we’ll head off to the IMAX theatre and maybe if I have more Internet access again, I can finally talk about the fun people watching we’ve done.

I’m a bit behind in my posting. It’s been hard to get Internet access and typing on a Pocket PC is very tedious. Currently, I’m using our hotel computer – they actually have one for public use. What a treat!

After our adventure Sunday escaping Roads, we headed to Bryce Canyon. I don’t even know how to describe the rocks, except drippy. There are trails that go down into the Canyon that aren’t too strenuous and are short enough to fit a tight schedule, so we meandered down through the cliff walls to see what views we could find. As we wandered down in between the canyons, we were treated to the sounds of a flutist, who must be a native here, because I could barely get enough oxygen for hiking, let alone, hiking and playing a flute.

After Bryce, we headed to Zion where we stayed at the nicest Best Western I’ve ever seen. They had a big pool, the best jets of a hot tub I’ve ever been in, a spacious room and a view of the Zion cliffs. I wanted to never leave. We spent Monday hiking to the top of Observation Point, a 2100 foot elevation change over 4 miles (one way), to the very top of the Zion cliffs, with a gorgeous view overlooking the valley. It is spectacular! For some reason, even though it was the exact same distance and elevation as the Kaibab hike we did in the Grand Canyon, it was brutal. I have done the same hike eight years ago, but somehow blacked out everything past the first 1000 feet, which somehow made me think the hike was considerably easier than it actually was. Stuart and I huffed and puffed the entire way up. It’s good a few days have passed so that I can write this, because I wasn’t actually speaking to myself for a good day. The view at the top though is worth every bit of hard work to get there and if my computer were working, I could point you to some pictures, but that will have to wait until I get home or get my laptop fixed, a prospect that doesn’t seem promising…more on that later.

Anyway, Zion was magnificient. The way down from Observation Point seemed to be as long as the way up. With each switchback down, you can see the valley floor coming closer and closer, but simultaneously, it doesn’t seem as if you’ve made any progress. Somehow we managed to get back to the valley in time to also do a small portion of the Zion Narrows, a trail that is the Virgin river that winds in between the canyons at Zion. Years ago, the only way through the canyons was through the river, but now there is a mile long paved trail that one can walk to get to the good parts. Since I’m rushed for time, I’ll have to wait to tell more about that later, hopefully accompanied by pictures (damned computers!!).

Tuesday, we drove back to Willis Creek to see if we wanted to give that slot canyon one more go. Without question, we decided it wasn’t a good idea. There was a large dip now at the bottom of the hill, no doubt created by our tire tracks. Oh well, maybe another time, with a some honking off-roader.

On we went on our way to Moab, where I write from now. It was a six hour drive through Capitol Reef National Park and land that isn’t designated as park, but looks like the rest of the landscape here. I believe we’ve now seen every possible combination of rock. White rock with red rock, vertical rock with sloping rock, sloping rock on top, sloping rock on bottom, moon rock, sandy rock, lava looking rock, drippy rock, treed rock. Really, there’s every possible combination in Utah.

I would have enjoyed the drive more if my camera had been working. At some point changing lenses, I suppose, some dust or dirt got inside and I’m unsure how much of it is visible in the pictures. Many attempts to clean the camera have been unsuccessful and, that, combined with all the other troubles in my life in the last year, most particularly my laptop choosing to break now, put me in an unrecoverable funk. With every turn of the road, there was another different, gorgeous view and the thought that I couldn’t capture it put me in an increasingly surly mood. Perhaps I was a bit over-tired, as well. I had hopes that once we got to Moab, there might be a camera shop, and perhaps a computer store, but when I looked at the map and saw just how the little the town is, it became clear that my next best hope of getting anything fixed won’t be until Vegas. I’ve never hated rural America so much.

Of course, a good night’s sleep does wonders and yesterday I was back to normal, as long as I didn’t dwell for too long on my luck with electronics. We went to Arches to see yet another variation of rocks on the earth’s surface. Another beautiful park! Fortunately, there are primarily only short hikes there and we’re both worn out, so we settled for the easiest views. Then we returned to the hotel for laundry, pool, hot tub and then out for a pitcher of beer and a burger. Perfect day!

And I know you must be wondering if I’m going through withdraw without the Orioles, and the answer is “Yes.” Apart from my hatred of not having access to a single computer store that can fix my laptop for 250 miles, Moab is a great little town. It’s full of people who come here for their love of the outdoors. But there’s no MASN, and therefore, makes it unliveable in my eyes. I have noticed the Orioles continuing losing streak and admit to taking it a bit personally that they started winning the minute I left town. They’re losing again though, and in a strange way, that makes me happy that I’m not to blame. I’ve really missed the Camden Chat too, but nothing is better than a vacation, even the Orioles.

Stuart is back now from the second car wash and will be breathing down my neck to get going, so I have to wrap up. We’re off to Canyonlands…

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