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Vegas, Baby ; )

Red Rock Canyon

The thought began in Winter, amongst the brisk morning air here in the South – and YES, it gets very brisk!

The idea was also being dreamed about by a friend in the {dreadfully} frigid Midwest.  It was all about an excursion to some place WARM!  A chance to see each other after a very LONG 20 year gap between visits.  Our thoughts combined to form a trip to Las Vegas – where it would be warm in the Spring AND there would be friends there to visit as well!  What a winning combination …

I longed to DRAG {rescue} my frozen friend from Minnesota for a little sun, hiking, dining out, and socializing with former high school friends.

~But~

I heard the gears grinding about a week after we talked by phone about going on this nice trip …

I felt the pressure she was straining under in her words …

I knew ticket prices were about to change when I began to hear her utter the real insecurities from her mouth.

She was living in fear – and had been for YEARS

So, I ordered a ticket for one, reserved a car, made hotel reservations for just my own room, and started making plans for things to do while in sunny Las Vegas.  And just so you know – Las Vegas has more to offer outside of downtown that you could ever imagine …

I’ll tell you about that trip after I say something about fear …

{It’s a trap and it’s full of Satan’s lies ~ Plain and simple}

But fortunately there is a WAY OUT.  There is an ULTIMATE rescue and sometimes it comes from an old friend who really wants to spend time with you and somehow starts a spark that propels someone to get some help – again.  Only, this time, her help was better than ever imagined.

She struggled with social anxiety, agoraphobia occasionally, and was then diagnosed ADHD at age 45.  Professional testing, medication and counseling were involved and she felt like a new person.

I’m so glad I asked her to go to Las Vegas with me.  I was sad that she didn’t go, but God had WAY bigger plans than two chicks hiking in the wilderness sucking down bottled water and chewing on granola bars.

So, my big lesson in this was it’s ok to go it alone, and to get past the disappointment of not having a close friend accompany you.  And most IMPORTANTLY … it’s ok to come clean to your best friend and ask for help.

{It’s ok, to leave it in God’s hands and be healed}

Well, now I’ll tell you some fun things I did in Las Vegas… I have 3 former high school friends there that I was only able to see during the evening hours due to their work schedules.  But I got some advice from them on what to do out in nature during my daytime hours.

Wow, Nevada has a beauty that doesn’t come in gold, glitz or lights.  It doesn’t sing, dance or cost much money at all.  It’s called nature – as in God’s creation – and it was spectacular!

I hiked 2 days in a row at a place called Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.  Here is one of the websites for it including a trail map:

http://www.redrockcanyonlv.org/

They have a wonderful visitor center complete with a gift shop and an outdoor educational area for adults and kids and the entrance fee to the park is nominal – It had to be less than $10 entrance fee for a place with a paved road, several parking areas and hiking trails, and quite frequently a great view of Big Horn sheep!

I also visited Valley of Fire State Park… which is probably a one hour drive from North Las Vegas.  Here is their website:

http://parks.nv.gov/parks/valley-of-fire-state-park/

I can honestly tell you, I didn’t see enough of this place.  WHEN I go back, I will leave early, and see more, more, more of this area specifically.  I only had time to see the windswept sandstone areas (called the Bee Hives) and the petroglyphs which are near the visitor center.

What I didn’t realize, was that although I was drinking plenty of water, I was somewhat “on fire” myself.  I didn’t know I was sick, and was at the doctor 3 days after arriving home with pneumonia AND the flu! 

While enjoying my stay in Las Vegas, I took 2 of my friends to a Big Daddy Weave concert, we ate at some fun places recommended by my friends and had a luxurious birthday dinner at the Wynn Hotel, based on a conversation I had while hiking with a waiter that works there.

Course, I’ve saved the best part for last… I also planned ahead and reserved an exciting tandem skydiving jump with Skydive Las Vegas.  After that, my friend drove me to see the Hoover Dam.  While skydiving, you can see Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam and it’s one of the highest jumps you can make in the U.S.  A mere 15,000 ft.  And I had the wonderful opportunity of being the last one to board the airplane …

So, when you’re the last one ON …

DCIM100GOPRO

You’re the first one OFF! 

skydive2

skydive 4

Yeah, I’d TOTALLY do it again!

No Fear

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Life, in general, Travel, Writing

 

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Five Minute Friday ~ Reflect

On Fridays… we “shush” the inner critic and run amok with our words.  Allowing to exercise our free-flowing words with a word prompt from our fearless community leader Lisa Jo Baker.  Then we join together and encourage each other – kind of like a Flashmob for Writers.

www.lisajobaker.com

Reflect

At my age, and with all the places I’ve been and with all the people I’ve met there is always something to reflect upon in my mind.

Many times those reflections are from the happiest of occasions.  Especially at Christmas.

It happens the minute the tree comes out of the box.  It doesn’t have to be strung with lights or decorated … it’s just a signal to my family and me to reflect on the best place we’ve ever lived

~ Giebelstadt, Germany ~

Giebelstadt Zobelschloss

Zoebel -Schloss

There isn’t a single bit of those three years of living there that doesn’t bring happy thoughts and reflections.  And as the calendar pages turn … and it’s 2013 … I can hardly believe that we moved back to the United States in 2002.

ELEVEN years??? Really??? It was just yesterday to us.

Shopping downtown in the cold, brisk air.  Carrying and eating our warm, carmelized almonds or stopping for brats.

That wonderful song from the Sound of Music – My Favorite Things?  We really did love those brown paper packages tied up with strings!  And sometimes those strings had a handle on them – because that’s how you shopped …

Snow Fun  Berchtesgaden, DE

I could go on and on reflecting on the food, the fun, the long and sunny Summer days, and the darkest of Winter nights.  But it was more than that … it was the warmest, homiest place on earth and every Christmas, we dream and remember and smile.

Grüß Gott – A farewell salutation meaning God greets you

 

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Five Minute Friday – Fly

heartTreeMosaic

~Fly~

I long to fly

continuously through the air

stopping only at the destinations that I chose.

When I arrive I long to tarry

soaking in the beauty

of land and people.

Whether it’s here

or another country

I long to go.

To escape

and feel free

and unfettered.

To stroll

or bike

or rent a car.

~To find the lost things-

the pieces of me

that long to be

reunited.

In each place I have been

I have left

pieces

of

the

whole.

If I could fly

I’d gather them

and then return

~complete~

But I believe

these pieces-

they are of my heart.

And I believe

they belong

where I left them

~with others~

So, here’s the deal… Fridays are for fun.  Unedited writing that’s good for the soul – You are always welcome to join us… http://lisajobaker.com/

 

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Five Minute Friday – Imagine

Imagine
Imagine driving for 3 days across the country – by yourself.

I just completed this drive, and it spawned all sorts of stuff to write.

Problem was, I was exhausted and had no energy to dig out my notebook and pen. Let alone post it in time for Friday…

It was a long journey and some days I’m going to look back and wonder – Why? Why now? And what if I hadn’t done it?

Will it be temporary – this stay, or permanent?

The wanderings of my life – straight or slightly detoured – have always served a purpose. The purpose of this wandering has been clear on most days, but the end result remains to be seen. But, I will come away with some sort of perspective.

Last week in choir our words were part of a familiar Christian song…

“All I know is I’m not home yet”

May all our wanderings lead us home.

“When the earth shakes
I want to be found in you
When the lights fade
I want to be found in you”

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Arizona, or Another Trip Down Memory Lane

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The Union Public House

www.uniontucson.com

Going home to Pennsylvania is becoming a regular occurrence.  Arizona, on the other hand … now that’s a different story.

I spent 4 1/2 years living in the desert as a teenager – and graduated from high school there – before moving to North Carolina.  It’s been almost three decades since I moved, but I still have friends there.  And that means I needed a visit… so a little belated birthday trip to the Sonoran desert was an excellent plan for this year’s celebration.  A little sun, some hiking, some springtime desert blooms to admire, and at least one really good sunset.

And it was – {A really great sunset}

sunset3

Dinner out on Friday was a planned event.  Just ask Facebook.  In fact, it was so well planned that we accidentally had two postings for it.  Oops.  We all arrived separately, and not all on time… which meant we’d be waiting a while for our table, but it was a good way to start the dinner.  Warming up with conversation.

To begin with, there were four of us seated on a brown leather couch that was literally 12 feet long – we only took up the end and a small table.  We were waiting to be seated when someone started in on “Who was your first kiss?”  Or was it “Do you even KNOW who my first kiss was?”  Some drinks were delivered and an appetizer had arrived … and I knew – this was going to be an interesting evening.

Two more joined us and then the six of us were finally seated at our table on the patio.  Twenty-nine years had passed since I had seen most of them, and everyone was taking their turn telling their stories. The stories were varied – ranging from girly and giggly, shocking or sad.  Ups, downs, diseases, cures, surviving, and unfortunately…deaths of classmates.  Oh, yes, and that whole “who was your first kiss” thing came up again, complete with data phones, Facebook friend’s lists and trying to track down the “guy.”  I know who it is now, but my lips are sealed!

It started with the Swedish American, formerly a Ford’s model, who talked at great length about some very interesting life experiences.  She was a tag-a-long friend of one of my classmates.  Even the story of how the two of them met was great.  She was hilarious and interesting and I believe somewhat tipsy.

Without using any names, I’ll call one by her choice of entrée… she was “Miss chicken and waffles.”  She made me feel right at home and I think she had me laughing the hardest… A few years ago I found out that some of her family lived nearby in rural Alabama … which of course, just makes the world a little smaller … and “Miss chicken and waffles”  – well, let’s just say, I loved sitting next to her … she has the most beautiful soul.

The gathering was missing a few who promised to come, but I think it turned out perfect the way it was.  Sometimes just 5 or 6 make an excellent party… there’s more time to talk, share, and truly get to know people.  The infamous story of how two of us set the lab desks on fire with the alcohol burners in Physical Science class was told, and the laughter and fun was shared easily around this table.  Looking around, it almost seemed like a table of strangers…some of us barely knew each other.  But, common ground of the years spent in high school never leave you.  Maybe we just had one class together, but it didn’t matter at all.  We were there together that night, 29 years later … laughing, sharing, comforting and building on what we started all those years ago…

I find it appropriate that our school motto – Más Allá – translates into “Go Beyond.”  I think we accomplished that, by continuing beyond the campus of Canyon Del Oro High School as friends, nearly three decades later.

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Sabino Canyon

sabino 1

Bright, early morning sunlight

Friends waiting to greet me.

A faded asphalt road

Walking, talking, and catching up.

Water flowing

Caught, temporarily, by concrete bridges

Then, let loose on the other side.

All shades of rocks

And green plants flourishing.

A warning of something lurking.

A sandy, dirt path amongst the mesquite trees and boulders

An offshoot to the water’s edge.

Tortoise dens passed – almost unnoticed

and snakes to be feared.

The canyon is different depending on the season

Cool and green with water flowing

Or dry with a fiercely, scorching sun.

But always a favorite destination,

always welcoming,

always needed,

always a respite for what ails me.

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Expectations, Travel, Exhaustion, Silence

red bud branch

Monday I arrived home after taking a trip to Arizona.  There are so many things to write about that I have literally started 4 posts already and the only one I finished was my Five Minute Friday Flash Mob writing exercise for today.  Here’s the link for that…

https://theunfinishedchild.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/five-minute-friday-jump/

I had only been gone since Wednesday, but things can change quickly while you’re not looking.  I’m glad that I went, happy that I saw classmates from 29 years ago… but I’ve felt a hush of silence over me since I’ve been home that almost wouldn’t allow me to speak, let alone write.

And, I’m exhausted and still catching my breath…because laundry, groceries, cooking, and track practice still happen when you get home… So silence is necessary, for a time …

I remember that “a watched pot never boils.”  Well, it does actually boil…but you get antsy watching and waiting.  While I was gone, the grass got greener and taller, and every Dogwood tree is in full bloom!  It’s all so colorful!

Last year in February (2012) I recruited my family to help me start a little accent garden and flower bed in the front yard.  I desperately wanted an Eastern Red Bud tree to be the focus so we decided on a triangular shape for the garden with the tree at one point.  A triangle with soft corners, not sharp.  I had lots of help digging and pulling the clods of Kentucky Fescue and red clay out of the ground.  We planted the tree and hoped for blooms.

We didn’t get any blooms, but we did get leaves.  At least we didn’t plant it too late or kill it.

In the other two “corners” of the triangle I planted lavender plants.  They were blooming soon and quickly became OH SO FRAGRANT!!!

I tried my hand at dahlia bulbs and they did well also… they just took a little longer to grow, but they were {HUGE} – and produced flowers to cut and take inside.  That was fun and rewarding.

**I have to stop here and say, that the internet is very useful when trying all these new things!  God bless the gardeners and nursery companies that share their wisdom.  Pinterest has its good points, but the nitty-gritty dirty work done by a gardener, that has trod the soil for years, is where you’ll find some of the best knowledge.

Yesterday I took a picture.  My Eastern Red Bud tree sprouted something pinkish-purple.  ONE purple cluster.

Really? ONE?  Oh, and lots of leaves so I would know it wasn’t dead!

red bud bloom

You have to know this:  since the end of March, I’ve been spying on my tree.

With binoculars.

From the front door.

Waiting.

Waiting since March for the tree to bloom.

Before I left for Arizona, I was excited and counting down the weeks and days until I would get there.  All that time, running through my mind was …

“How long would you wait for a tree to bloom?”

The wild ones were blooming on the mountain hillsides, then the trees in everyone’s yards were blooming… so WHY WASN’T MINE BLOOMING????

How long would I wait?  How long would I watch the proverbial pot – waiting for it to boil???

I would wait until it happened.

I’ve needed a physical healing from my chronic neck pain for 5 years.  Doctors, Physical Therapists, and Chiropractors haven’t solved all my problems or pain issues and I’ve been left wondering … would I ever get relief?

So, how long will I wait?

I’ll wait until it happens.

Today that’s enough… I’ll watch and I’ll wait …

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Five Minute Friday – Jump

sunset

Going…

sunset3

Going…

sunset4

Gone

*sigh*

Well, let’s just jump right into this week’s Five Minute Friday by saying… I’m at my desk writing already this morning and my fingers can’t keep up with my thoughts.

I was just visiting Arizona and came home and had to jump back in where life left off.  Laundry hampers full, fridge sort of half full, pantry in decent shape, and WHEW, am I tired!

Plugging along at the everyday work here at the house kept me from taking a 3 day nap – because I was exhausted from travel and hiking and talking and watching sunsets and walking at high altitude on Mt. Lemmon and eating.  {Boy, I had the best piece of pie at a restaurant up there}

But I’m done jumping around here trying to catch up, and it’s time to download all that has happened in that 5 day trip.  I finally have a clear schedule, and maybe a clear mind to type and reflect.  And I’m excited.

 Although… I’m wanting one more day … to bask in the sun, amongst the blooming desert, hiking Sabino Canyon, and laughing with old friends …

And another day living without the laundry, the threat of severe weather, or those pesky allergies …

Reality, then vacation, then reality …

Memories…into words…words on to paper…etched forever…

Jump up for more coffee and a shower and some food and more writing that needs to be done today!

Have an excellent Friday everyone!

*******

Curious about Five Minute Friday?  It’s like a Flashmob for writers.

A bunch of us, with a one-word prompt, write fearlessly for FIVE minutes and link up together. Join us!

http://lisajobaker.com/

 

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Travelog – A Trip Home

orange hill

As I slip between the Endless Mountains, my urgency to get home is amplified.  Even in the “almost” darkness I can see the silhouettes of the trees to my right and the hills on both sides of the road.  Darkness arrives quickly in October and had I known I was going to take this side trip I would have chosen a flight that landed closer to home than Philadelphia.  The change of plans was all my doing, or undoing I guess you’d call it.  I was headed to my hometown, leaving my former agenda in the trashcan at home.  I scanned the road, the cars, and the bank of the river – I did not want to meet up with a deer while driving a rental car.

I’m sure it was close to 5:30 when I pulled into the Hampton Inn’s parking lot, relishing the fact that I had a nice place to stay in such a small town.  Occasionally I stay with a friend, but this is where I wanted to be on this visit.  I could hardly wait to go for a run tomorrow on the streets and sidewalks where I spent most of my childhood.  This wasn’t where I learned to drive because I was only thirteen when I moved from this small town, so getting back on the sidewalks was on my list of things to do.  It’s an odd thing to most people to say that you miss walking the sidewalks of your hometown, but it’s one thing that would just make this trip all the better.  Years after I moved when I was an adult, I would actually find driving around town to be quite disorienting.  Over that time away, I leapt from skateboards and bicycles to being married with three kids and driving a mini van!

Another thing about “home” I was looking forward to, or maybe salivating over, was getting some real Italian food.  There have always been many Italian families in this little corner of America, and until you live away from this place, you never understand why your parents talk endlessly about the food.  My husband and I can appreciate this after living in Germany – we STILL talk about how great the Greek, Italian, and Syrian food was in our little German town.

So, after checking in I head to my favorite pizza place for a calzone and take it back to my room complete with soda from the vending machine.  Another thing I don’t indulge in very often is soda… but I HAVE to have some with my calzone or it doesn’t feel complete.  I’m pretty sure there were M&M’s for dessert too.

Between the sheer delight at the gastronomic feast and a good movie on TV, I check in with few friends to solidify our plans for the next 2 days.  Another little gem of this small town is a breakfast and brunch cafe complete with many homemade bakery items.  Their omelets are excellent and their bakery carries gluten-free products and some desserts exclusive to Pennsylvania.  I think every meal I had that weekend was literally “a slice of home.”

The best part of breakfast or brunch is, of course, spending it with friends that have made a huge resurgence in my life since their 25th class reunion.  I left in 8th grade, but I was invited to attend the reunion and really enjoyed finding out how close you can still be after the passing of nearly 30 years.   Marriages, kids, the passing of classmates or parents, and lots of “I wonder where so-and-so is” were discussed.  More than that though, there was this deep-seeded feeling of having never left.  It’s almost a lovesick feeling to leave everything you’ve ever known in your short life and then come back and feel so welcomed and missed by your dear friends.  And each time I leave, I eagerly await the next visit.

In Girls Scouts we used to sing a song that said “make new friends, but keep the old … one is silver and the other is gold.”  I’m not sure why that stuck with me all those years, but like a seed that is planted on good soil, eventually it grew.  It’s something that you really come to understand years later.

When I read some of the other verses to this song, I knew and understood how precious even just one friend from childhood can be.  “A fire burns bright, it warms the heart … We’ve been friends, from the very start.”

Life is hard – in case you didn’t know.  We all take turns hitting low spots in the valleys or spending a little time on top of the hill feeling that all is well and good in our lives.  What’s really great though, is when you can share these times with the friends that know you through-and-through and maybe have a laugh about it, or just exchange the knowing and understanding look that says “I’ve been there too my friend.”

Sometimes, words aren’t necessary with a really good friendship, just the knowledge of who we are and where we came from…

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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