Friday, February 8, 2013

Life is GRAND... Canyon!!!! :)


Wwwwooowwwza... what a wickedly wonderful week it’s been!!!  ahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!  

Just a few hours after my last blog post, I mad rushed around tying up last minute details at PVS, hopped in the truck and set off. Drove that first day 330 miles down to Bakersfield, CA.  Stayed the night with a super sweetheart couchsurfer girl named Andi, and then drove 430 more miles to a little hostel in Northern AZ.... with snow!! So odd.. snow in arizona. It doesn’t seem to fit together in my mind, even though it makes sense being 6,800’ above sea level. I arrived at 6:58pm, not realizing they close, and the ONLY person around leaves, at 7!!! My luck is miraculous :) 

My and my gramps (I feel his spirit riding with me in his truck) thoroughly enjoyed the drive. Hundreds of Wind turbines, a town called Kelso (my hometown’s name too!), singing or silence, windows down, stopping whenever I feel like it, historical markers, roadside attractions, scenic viewpoints, talking for hours w/ my mom, watching a train pass thru the vast plain... the gradual transitions and newness of landscapes. I was naively surprised by how many mountains are out in the desert. It feels like I’m constantly surrounded by 360 degrees of mountains... and I love it :).  I prefer driving in the day... I want to see what I’m passing!!! But... the changing scenery sunsets are pretty amazing. I’m abnormally addicted to taking pictures while I’m driving. Every photo comes out terrible; the composition, the reflections, truck parts in view, and mostly the bug guts from my windshield that are totally exaggerated in the picture! But, they serve my purpose, which is to create me a memory for the future! A grand memory!!! For someone that thought just a few years ago she didn’t like roadtrips, I’m pretty much in love with them now. An RV life? I could do this maybe...  Maybe I’ll design a sweet house that can be transported around with me!!!! WOW, this is an idea worth exploring :)  One bummer... I did discover that Needles, CA has some of the most expensive gas prices in the USA at 4.59/gallon!!! Ouch!!! That sucked :(. I also discovered when there is no radio signal, there are still a zillion jesus radio stations. Good thing I love me some Amazing Grace ;) 




Whoa crazy sky!

THEN, the GRAND CANYONN!!!!! Holy how grand it is!!!  Sure, it’s super neat to look at... BUT, the hike made it truly amazingggg!!! One of the employees told us 5 million people a year come to the GC, but only 1% of them go down into the canyon.  For me, the appreciation and deep admiration came from the hike. If you are gonna go, GO DOWN!!! At least a day hike!!! Ohhh my gosh. Where to even begin describing the awesomenessssss??!??

Friday morning we hiked down the South Kaibob Trail, sporting crampons for the icy, snowy path! It was a bit chilly to start, but the sun was out with not a cloud in the sky; fleeces came off shortly thereafter! As we descended, it just got more and more beautiful!  The lower you get the more intimate it gets. You really feel the size, the massiveness. Passing down thru layers of rocks and comprehending the millions/billions of years they represent;  Geologist heaven. You also develop a major appreciation for the people that built this trail, and that you can hike it for free is a noble blessing.  We took our sweet time, enjoying the journey, the company, the squirrels that beg for crackers, the pure green color of the mule shit, the deer on the path, the zillions of signs that talk about overheating in the summer.  This is the perfect weather. I can’t even imagine coming any other time. The snow also added such a beautiful, pure, artistic white element in an otherwise mostly sepia world. Breathtaking :). 


Off we go!!!


Backstreet boys impression :) 

 aww :) 




We arrived to Phantom Ranch camp around 4. We had a darling little cabin next to the creek with 2 sets of bunk beds... and straight away we all took naps! Ha!  Kevin reserved us all hot meals for the whole stay, and that was really nice actually. Good food, good service, and a fun atmosphere among the 40-50 people down in there.  One lady was having her 40th bday party, and a cute young couple had just gotten engaged that day!  awww!! 

I could live in this :) 

Saturday was another increddddibly sunny and perfect day! It’s an average of 20 degrees warmer down in the canyon than it is on the rim (about 4,500’ lower), so we enjoyed a 60-70 degree day!  Went for a serene and secluded 12 mile hike towards the North Rim, to Feather Falls where it was juuuuuust warm enough to dip under the falls and inside the cave behind it! Super neat!  I had a great meditation and yoga sessions that night, by the creek with NINE deer within 30 yards of me!!! Delightful :).  Both evenings we all played games and star gazed. Absolutely incredible visibility. Absolutely incredible experience!!

South Rim... wwwaaaay in the distance, where we started!

Kev's the man ;) 

The shadows from the canyon walls were so sweet

Behind a lil waterfall AND a rainbow!!! wooooohooo that was exhilarating! 


Sunday was the real treat; hiking back up. I looove going up. There’s an interesting psychology in having to go up on the way out. All of us had ridiculously sore calves! The kind of sore where even a light touch is brutal!  To start out sore, knowing you have to hike 9.6 miles (and gain 4,500’), it an interesting mental challenge!  I like it this way, the feeling of doing it all and accomplishing it all right at the literal and figurative apex of the trip, you earn it!!! :).  Then you can really just rellllax! 

We had breakfast at 5:30am, then hit the Bright Angel trail. It’s relatively gradual for the first 5 miles... and then, it’s mercilessly, rewardingly vertical. On the way down, I was loving it more and more as we went, getting real up close and personal... but wow, on the way back up, the amazement of what we were seeing was sooooooo much more majestic.  I loveeeee going up. I get in this groove where I’m so happy with the visual, mental, atmospherical pleasure, I don’t feel any pain in my legs. Incredible vistas at every switchback! It was a hard, satisfying hike. It was a bit overcast that day... Just warm enough to not require a big jacket, just cool enough to ward off super sweating. Perfect.  Another amazing thing is having the whole place mostly to yourself.  We passed a few people, but generally it’s a pretty deserted desert :0).  I honestly can’t imagine doing this any other time of year.  It was beautiful. It was perfect. 

"pancake rocks"

Deer! 
Not advisable for those with a fear of heights ;) 





Andddd....the company made it amazingggg :)  Kevin is one of my favorite people. My personal encyclopedia, always up for anything, talks to strangers, sings along w/ me on trail :). He organized the whole thing in typical awesome fashion. Thanks Kev... love you dearly. Eri, who I only knew a little bit in Miami, bloomed before my eyes as just such a sweet and kind person. To me, there’s no better way to get to know a person than thru camping. The real raw deal always comes out (good advice for when dating or getting to know someone new!)! We had a neat little unspoken bond where we’d hug up on each other. I really enjoyed time w/ her. She was definitely the least talkative of all 4 of us, but seemed to genuinely enjoy our banter :). And then Paul! I just met him this trip, but have a feeling I’ll see him again! He was the fun jokester, the techy, adding a completely different element, the 4 of us together just gelling perfectly, making for an ammmmazinnngggg trip!!!  Totally was the right decision to just jump in the car and come down here :). 


:)
And going camping!!! 


I have now seen, experienced, and totally agreed, with 4 of the 7 natural wonders of the world.  Grand Canyon is an absolute must-do, IMHO ;) 

When we reached the top, the boys were in a rush to get back and watch the Super Bowl. bleeehhh.... I prefer much more to play sports than to watch them! hahah!  I had my own car then, so took the long way home, stopping in Sedona on the way. WAYYYY neat little town! The rocks are sooo neat!! I got my aura read, and ate some delicious homemade fudge. Yeeaahhh.... eating well away from PSV isn’t quite working out for me;) haha


The entire town, super artsy, is backdropped by dramatic rock formations. Coooool
Phoenix was a fabulous day. Woke up fresh, Paul made eggs for breakfast. We talked and ate and then he suggested a skate! We went to the park, he equipped me with helmet and handpads, and a lesson in longboarding :).   Ahhh fun. Confidence is so key.... in this and everything. During the GC, I walked across one of the bridge’s 6” railing no problem, but here, skateboarding, I’m seriously wussing! Paul is cruising and turning and gliding as if he’s walking. I love this. Practice makes perfect... and even if not perfect at least more confident :).

Best longboard teacher ever!! xoxo

I made the turn!! woohoo!
Balance over a creek > easier than balance on a skateboard ;) 

After that I rushed off to meet my uncle and aunty for lunch. They just moved here (still living in a hotel actually) so it was perfect timing for a Fromm fest. I’ve only met my aunty Christine three times (my uncle’s second wife), but she loves my blog, and there’s this amazing connection that happens with people that love my blog. It brings to light friendships that most likely would never have been able to blossom because of location or timing. Since my writing is wholeheartedly me, not just in beliefs and ideology but in energy and language, it’s quite easy for someone to quite legitimately ‘know’ me. This authentic bond, over a shared enthusiasm, open mindedness and eagerness to learn all things of this world, gets formed, even without the history of memories and experiences.  It’s like finding friends all over that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to connect with, that relate with you on an intellectual, analytical, emotional level, who read or know of your faults and quirks, but love you anyways:).  There are quite a few of you actually... thanks! I love you people, thanks for your enthusiasm :).  

hahah... or this I suppose happens too ;)
My good friend Claudia honestly admits, "they are just soooo long". haha. I know. I can't help it! 

Christine is one such blog success story! She is such a peach! We met at a great place called Joe’s Crab Shack and bs’d as if we’ve been friends for years. My uncle, I think, was amused, hopefully not stymied as he didn’t get much talk in. We girls know how to blab!! They bought me lunch, awesome “peace, love & crabs” souvenirs, and sent me off with an energy that I live for. A feeling of just acceptance and happiness and gleeness :).  Thanks aunty for sharing an enthusiasm about life!


From there it was straight to Camelback mountain.  For 10 years I’ve been wanting to climb that mountain again. I actually lived in Phoenix during the summer of ’03 (whoa hot).  I came to live w/ my bf at that time, and Camelback was my wilderness relief, a mountain oasis right smack in the midst of a huge city. It’s like NY’s Central Park (althoughhhh massively smaller, less diversity, and waaaay less green). I loved climbing this thing, although I rarely got to then, and it’s always been the first thing in my head when I think of Phoenix. I scrambled up Cholla Trail in 34 minutes flat, a bit masochistically enjoying the burn from my already sore Grand Canyon calves. I stood on top and remembered... yep, amazing...but, a bit too brown and busy for me to want to live ;). haha






Paul sent me off with round about directions in order to miss the crazy traffic. I was skeptical at first, as it added quite a few miles, but soon after was just tickled pink by all the awesome ‘signs’!!!! First, the exit to I-17 was #23. Then, the exit to I-74, aka “Carefee Highway” was #223!  Then as I past mile marker #23, I looked at my gps and I had 23 miles to go till the next turn!!!! WAAAAHOOO! (if you couldn’t gather it, my fav # is 23. I'm a 23dian :) 
This carefree highway cuts right thru the what I see in my head when I think 'desert', countless iconic saguaro cacti, with the mountains in the background!  I was loving it!!!!



So many cacti!!

This just screams 'western movie' to me ;) 

I arrived to Lake Havasu City around 9pm. Pulled in to the state park and set up my tent by headlight. It was sooo nice to pull out the camping gear (thanks mom for sending it!!!!)... I love sleeping outside. Slept like a baby. Woke up at 6, packed up (again in the dark). Made a few calls, and was able to schedule a kayak trip for the day... meeting at 8:30. I had some time to kill, so drove out onto the island over their famous London Bridge, and watched the amazing sunset on the lake, complete w/ 100’s of ducks speckling the view. Super neat. Off to the kayak shop, they had placed me with a group of 4 guys. Franz, Tom, Teri- all in their 60’s, all snowbirds coming from Canada, Ohio and Michigan, and Ryan, 32, the local.  The 4 of them are neighbors during the winter. I couldn’t have hand picked a more FUN crew!!!  I started to go on about how I could keep my distance and not mess up their guy time... instantaneously they began how it was already better with me there, being ‘much prettier to look’  ;). They were a real riot, I heartily belly laughed the whole 8 hours. One guy, Franz, was such a hoot!!!! Suntanning in his thong undies, harmlessly flirty with me...  I freely egged it on! Waaay fun! The kayak itself was great. A 14 mile lazy stretch of the Colorado River thru Topock Gorge, just north of Lake Havasu. It def has some impressive rocks along the way. We took many breaks and excursions, saw a javelina pig and a wild mule! By the end all our arms were dying... I’m counting this as dragon boat training! 


Quack

Goooood morning Lake Havasu! 

Colorado River!

Gorgeous day on the water!

Hilarious Franz and his artwork, "Havasu 2013"


Cali on the right, Az on the left!
Perfect mirror

Suntanning in Feb!

Reminded me a bit of the Everglades!

Then to Joshua Tree National Park. Ahhhh. The drive there was all in the dark, as was the arrival, and I almost killed myself a million times falling asleep after such a long day in the sun!  I was super tired, and it was real nice weather, so I decided to leave my rainfly off my tent. Best decision ever. Woke up at 5 to a star filled sky thru the mesh top! Woohooooo! As the sun came up, my surroundings started to show themselves, and it became clear... I was in rock climbing heaven!!!!!  WAAAAHOO! I knew it was going to be an amazing day! 

My fantastic home for the evening :) 

The ranger came by, and we chit chatted. I asked his favorite hikes and he gave me all sorts of good tips. Reco #1: Rattlesnake Canyon. There’s a sign there that says, “It’s been named for a good reason”...unfortunately (fortunately only in one sense) I didn't see one.  This place was an amazing intro to the park. No true trail... just scramble rocks, my favorite. Wow. Perfect morning :).  From there I drove out and had to enter the main entry. Just my luck, the ranger there was leaving for lunch and let me go for free ($15 usually), enjoy the day he says!!! Yes I will, thank you very much! 

Okay so now... Joshua Tree. It’s an absolutely incredible place. Beautiful. Beautiful not in the traditional sense. It’s these outlandishly odd trees and a zillion rocks. Not everyone’s cup of tea. BUT, I don’t think anyone can deny the beauty in the mind- boggling expanse of it all, it's almost 800,000 acres!!!  I can comfortably say there must be millions of these funky trees there. And the rocks. OHHH the rocks. Anyone with even a teeny tiny interest in rock climbing would be in pure ecstasy just pondering all the options!!! And then contemplating how these things have managed to come into existence via erosion in the middle of the desert over billions of years??? Brilliant. 


See the rock climber on top??!!!!

Joshua Tree!



Upon entry, I went straight to recommendation #2, summiting Ryan Mountain. It’s only 1.5 miles up, but I pounded serious feet getting up there. I took it as another of my ‘signs’... a physical triumph to the mountain top, and a figurative triumph over the 'letting-go-of' it’s namesake ex-bf. Enough already... I’ve made it to the top, it’s all smooth sailing down from here :).   It's funny how you linger on about things even when you know the way it is, is right. 
Jamie says my astrology chart points out I'll be single for 2 more years. I love this. It kindof relieves me in a way, whether or not I truly believe charts. Two years sounds a perfect amount of time to get my businesses in order!!! 

Oh the way out, I see a sign for “Hall of Horrors” and had to stop. I figured maybe a tunnel? Ohhhh myyy was it tunnels. But not to walk thru; to squirm, climb, and wedge your way thru!!!! This was not for the careful minded :). I left with bleeding hands, a few scraps and scratches, and a happy heart, reaching pinnacle on both ends. That shit was awesome.


Who loves rocks? This girl! 
One of many shimmy 'halls'
The ranger’s last reco was Lost Horse Mine trail.  I’m pretty sure he didn’t actually intend me to do all 3 of them, but I did! I have this new trend, to hike up and then run down (or back). Feather falls, Ribbon falls, Camelback, Ryan mtn, and here... it’s an awesome way to make up time, get my cardio in, work on my coordination and quick thinking skills! Plus, I learned from the Kilimanjaro porters that running down is actually easier on your knees. Good trick, try it out :). 

From there, his last reco was to go ahead and drive the last 40 miles out the other side of the park, see the whole thing.  He was right on.  The rock piles and Joshua trees start fading, and the sweeping desert starts creeping up. And I hit it just at sunset. Wayyy awesome. 5 stars for this National Park and day!!!! 

Cholla cacti 'garden'

Everything that I’ve done this week has been so beautiful. There’s no denying that. It may not be somewhere I could live (I need my green trees!) but there is such an appreciation that I have for the desert now.  As I look thru my pictures, none of them can capture what it is. It's the vastness. The length of your vistas. The feeling of how small we are. Ohhh we are so small! Our world is sooooo amazing!!! 

Lastly, it was on to LA. I got in late, crashed on my super good pal Bianca’s couch.  She and I met at UM back around 2001, and have always had super duper similar thoughts about life and attitude and learning.  She hasn’t had the easiest life, so her ability to stay cheerful and positive and with such an eagerness to grow and learn has always inspired me. She is a friend like my mom... we can just talk and talk and talkkkkk and get so stirred up and going on tangents we never finish half our conversations! ha :).  The type of friend you know they’ll be there for you in anything!!! Thanks Bianc!  First thing in the morn, she took me on an LA tour. A small hike in Runyun Canyon to see the Hollywood sign, a cruise on Mulholland drive. As much as I don’t like city living... if you have to live in one, at least this one has hills!!! I LOVE mountaintop perched homes!!! 


Hollywood!!! Pretty bright day as you can see, despite the haze ;) 
Then we, along with her bf Brandon and their adorable long blond haired 3 yr old Wyatt, went to explore the Malibu hills! We had a sweet, simple hike along the creek, climbed trees and ahhh’ed over Wyatt’s super cute attempts to pick up every rock, even those 5x bigger than him ;). It was a very nice relaxed day to counter my massively active prior 5!  LA has tons of green!!!! I’ve missed that color!! 


Malibu! 
So stinkin' cute!!
From there I headed off toward Long Beach. A whole 39 miles away, at 3:30pm.  This was the worst part of my entire week. It took me almost 2.5 hrs to get there. It was soooo frustrating and I just kept thinking of the pollution and haze over this city.  I got off the highway about half way, deciding I’d rather weave thru side streets slowly that sit in the traffic jam.  Where I chose to go, randomly, ended up being a waaaay ugly section of city too. Industrial wires and equipment everywhere, run down buildings, and way too many gaudy signs. It seemed like every block had a donut shop, a liquor store, and some gas station offering ‘smog testing’.  I took it as one of my signs: city and Becky don’t mix, Becky should promote sustainable living :) 








You appreciate things more when you see them firsthand :) 

LUCKILY, I met up with my longest/oldest friend just after, and it was a PERFECT fix for my unwelcomed aggression. We have a remarkable ability to cheer each other up! We’re both absurd, cockamamie, over the top... so together, it’s entertainment at it’s finest!!! We bounced around jumping and yelling for a few hours before heading off to her softball league!!!!! ACKK! Serena, who I’ve been friends with since I was 5, was  softball. That’s what our friendship was. We’ve been all sorts of state and regional champs together, traveled all over the US playing in our teens. Her dad was my first t-ball couch!  She went on to play in college and even was in the women’s professional fast pitch league, has played all over the world. Pretty kickass!  SOOOO, arriving just in time for a softball reunion was ammmmmaaazzzinnnngggg!!! Yay! All her neighbors and friends were there and sooooo fun and inclusive! We won like 26-4 or something... totally kickass fun!!! 


Flash back to our childhood! 
Today she had to work and it was a good excuse for me to sit and write, reflect on this fabulous week.  I feel so grateful for this wild, amazing life I have, this wonderful planet we live on.  Such an incredible, precious place. 




I also love that I enjoy my own company. It’s definitely a skill not everyone has, to like being alone, but I think it can be cultivated. Maybe give it a try sometime, a self vacation!  I'm surprised how often I'm still asked why I would travel alone.  This article explains it quite awesomely, the joys of solo travel!  You don't have to be a loner to like being alone, as I am good proof of! 






My good advice for the day: Loving yourself adds MOUNDS of joy to your life. Do and be and say and act and see and surround yourself with emotions and actions and thoughts that you love and that are positive, that inspire you, and in turn inspire others :).  Good things will come... it's all a big circle :).









Hope you have a GRAND weekend!! xoxo





3 comments:

  1. Ahhhhh. That was such a blissful read. You know what? Back when I was working as a medic on a 24 hr. shift, I got it in my head (I was single) to go climb Camelback Mtn. My partner said, "Do it." So I found someone to come in and finish my shift. I had to race home, throw some things in a bag and dash to the airport to make my flight. Plus, I was soooo broke back then. But I got up the next day and hiked up Camelback. It's really kind of weird that you mentioned that you always wanted to hike it again like I did. I mean, really...it ain't "that" big a deal! But for whatever reason, I just got that thought in my head and went with it. Like you, I rather enjoyed spending time by myself. Also, when you travel alone, people are more likely to talk with you than when there are two or more of you. It is a wonderful way to meet new people. I miss all that. Being married has turned into a life of sameness. Being single, I felt was where I had my highest highs and my lowest lows. But whether high or low, I was definately awake. Now...not so much. And one other thought: What is up with people having such short attention spans? Write on!

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  2. becky your adventures are amazing! reading them makes me so happy. they also allow me to live vicariously through you when i cant adventure! so please please please keep going!

    <3 maruti xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

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  3. Ahhh. What a great read for a Monday morning still laying in bed, ur descriptions are so engaging & breathtaking, love the picture segments so perfectly timed to the prose!! thanks Becky!! Gotta get up...suns about to rise in the desert again. Come back real soon!!! :)

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