Thursday, September 30, 2010


WESTWARD, HO! For my yard man and me, it was the Pacific Ocean we were after! We've seen it before, but never from the beaches of California. Night before last we were perched near the border, still in Arizona.

(It's the border to that neighboring state that I'm talking about, but we know we are relatively near the national boundary as well. As we are checking into our motel room, there is a loud and unpleasant confrontation between the motel owner, "This is my property! Get off! Get off of my property! I own this property! I paid for this place!" and a Hispanic man who is entering the room next to ours, his arms full of carry-out food cartons. The Hispanic man is protesting, "But these are my friends! They invited me here! They are my friends!!" He refers to several occupants of the room, who have opened the door for him.

"No! No! You cannot be here!" responds the India-born man who is the owner. He points to the yard man and me, standing on the second-floor balcony near the unwanted visitor, our arms full of luggage, our mouths agape. "These are my guests!! You cannot be here! Go! Go! Get off my property! These are my guests!" Standing in the parking lot below us, the Indian motel owner is now screaming.

When there is a brief pause in the ranting, I lean over the railing and ask, "Is there a problem? As long as there isn't a lot of noise, we don't mind." The dark-skinned occupants of the room next to ours look over at us inquisitively. The dark-skinned motel owner pauses. "No, no, he must go!" He points again to the man near us, "This is my property! These are my guests! Go! I will call the police!!"

Standing beside me, my yard man is quietly getting upset. Suddenly he yells at the man below, "If he goes, WE go!" The Indian man is taken off-guard. He is confused. So am I!! Who really knows what is going on here? Meanwhile the unwanted visitor has meekly walked to the end of the balcony and disappeared down the steps.

The motel owner mumbles something, tells us in his strong Indian accent, "It's okay. It's okay," and walkes away. The yard man and I just stand there on the balcony for a moment. We are a little stunned, and somewhat creeped out. We confer between ourselves. The yard man surmises that the unwanted guest is an illegal immigrant. We should stand in solidarity with the poor man, and take our business elsewhere--that is his suggestion. But the room is clean and well-furnished, it is late in the evening, we hear not a sound from the room next door. We stay, and have a restful night of sleep.

In the morning, as we check out, I ask the woman at the desk (the owner's wife, I'm quite sure) about the altercation last night. "Who is the man? Is he homeless? " I ask. She gets a slightly embarrassed look on her face, gives me a faint smile, "Oh, he is someone who is always just around at different places in the town." didn't satisfy my curiosity, that's for sure. I was left hanging, Dear Reader, just as I'll have to leave you!)

So now the yard man and I are almost to the state line, leaving Arizona. "Wait!" I say to the yard man. "Stop the car! I think that's the Colorado River, again!" And sure enough. I get to cool my feet it in one more time. (That yard man missed this pleasant little interlude; he sat in the car and waited!)

When next I said, "Wait! Stop the car!" we were in California. (We had crossed the river [state line, of course] and come to some railroad tracks). Now, there's no way I can tell you right now, Dear Reader, all of the stories that are clickety-clacking through my brain about trains and railroad tracks on this trip. Good grief, the yard man and I had no idea the west was so full of trains! But this one I'll show you--eleven miles of stone-built graffiti beside those railroad tracks. I was fascinated. If Mr. Yard Man would have let me, I'd have added our names to the jumble. But we were in a rush (a California Golden State rush) to get to the coast, so I didn't really beg.


And thank goodness for that! We had miles and miles
of more interesting things to see!

Including another Native American Reservation.
More than one, to be truthful, and each one made me think of Frank (Eagle Soaring Freely), and gave me a sorrowful feeling in my heart. A shamed and sorrowful feeling.

But we also came to a Joshua tree. And then another and another.

Ultimately, a state park full of them!

And the state park was chock-a-block full of wonderful rocks--great big jungle-gym-climbing types and shapes of all sorts. The yard man and I climbed up...and then had a fine time climbing down (gravity's helpful, but sometimes made me nervous in a perfect-set-up-for-an-ankle-twisting way).

Not to worry, we continued along, and I exclaimed and gasped and said, "Stop the car! I need a picture!" so often that that yard man began to grumble.

(But, my goodness, Dear Reader, can you blame me? Everywhere I looked it seemed there was something more striking than what we'd just seen!)

Even the big whirligigs seemed more impressive than ones just like them we've seen back east.

Now my camera is complaining of overload; I saw so many fantastic sights today, my head is spinning like those big windmills. We could almost smell the Pacific Ocean by the time the sun went down and we stopped for the night. Tomorrow I believe we'll strike gold!
(I'll share. I promise!)



Wednesday, September 29, 2010


SO, MY YARD MAN AND I WERE NOT QUITE done with the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River...Yesterday's trip on historic Route 66 (with the Burma Shave signs*) and the long, fascinating, nail-biting journey on an unpaved road took us right to the western end of the canyon and a splash in the Colorado. But first I should tell you about Frank, whose last name means Eagle Soaring Freely, and who works at smoothing out the 600 miles of dirt roads on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, through which we traveled. He's the one who climbed off of his enormous dirt-pushing piece of machinery and told us we were indeed on that tiny gray road that angled across our map.
But we may not make it all the way to the river in our rental car, he warned. "The road gets pretty bad at the end; you'll probably have to walk the last mile or so. If you see the ranger," Frank said, "he might give you a ride."

Reassured we were on the right path, we continued bumping along for nineteen more miles, passing exactly one vehicle coming our way (a pick-up truck; was it the ranger?) And sure enough, the road bed began to deteriorate as the scenery became more canyon-like and we neared the river.

"I'm just worried about the oil pan," said the yard man, as he deftly steered the car around yet another small boulder in the road. (I'd have to say, Dear Reader, that I had just a few more worries than that). Our cell phones were now unusable, and we seemed to be the only humans in an eighteen-mile radius. Neither one of us, I can tell you for sure, was packin' protection against rattlesnakes, either! "Forget about walking a mile." I told the yard man. "I'm not about to drag you that far if you get a snake bite or a broken leg!"

Eventually, though, with a lot of derring-do, the yard man did maneuver the car very close to the river. Or at least we figured it had to be close--the road looked too soggy and treacherous to go any further. We agreed we'd walk around the next curve in the road and check on conditions there, see if the river was in view. We hopped from the car and the yard man pulled a change of clothes from the trunk. Soon after that, he tossed the clothes he'd been wearing into the trunk and slammed the lid shut. And soon after that, he got a strange look on his face.

"Uhhh...I think I just locked the keys in the trunk..." he said.
And I said, "Are you serious?!!" hoping for all the world it was just another JWET!
But he said, "Yeah."
He was frantically patting his pockets.
Then he said some other things.
And I said some other things.
Then it was very, very quiet in that valley, miles and miles from civilization.
The sun was shining fiercely.

"Oh!" my yard man said suddenly, "Maybe...." He stepped over
to the driver's side...and opened the door!
Turns out he hadn't locked it.
He punched the button to open the trunk.
I nearly collapsed with relief.
Then we laughed like it
was the grandest joke on earth!

Celebrating our stroke of magnificent good fortune,
we walked ahead around the next curve in the road

...and there was the river!

As it turned out, there were four or five other humans at the river. Nowhere near enough to be called a throng, but plenty enough to look downright angelic had we been contemplating a nineteen-mile walk to cell phone connection!

The river was lovely, like the half-hour we spent appreciating its beauty. The yard man and I agreed, however, that the beautiful, rugged terrain through which we had traveled to get to this spot really made the adventure worthwhile.

Which was fortunate since we got to see it all again on the long drive out!


*Here's one of the Burma-Shave signs we saw on old Route 66:

You can drive
A mile a minute
But there ain't
No future in it

Hmm, sixty miles an hour-- reckless driving?
I pointed out to the yard man that the idea expressed on the next set of signs we saw was more timeless; he should pay heed. (Helpful in
avoiding traffic tickets, as well!)

If daisies are

Your favorite flower
Keep pushing up
The miles per hour
(If you're too young to remember
these signs, Dear Reader, check them
[You missed a time when life was
more simple!])

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


OKAY, IT'S BEEN A FEW DAYS since the wedding, but it was only yesterday that the yard man and I said goodbye to the bride and groom and that en masse group and headed off toward the Colorado River and Route 66. Before I chatter on about that and today's adventures, I'll give you the low-down on what we did post-wedding.

was the perfect day for relaxing, and the newly-weds' deck was the perfect spot to do so.
We lounged and enjoyed the JWETs tossed liberally about.

(I guess you don't know about JWETs, Dear Reader. They're a specialty of this particular family group, which contains a few folks who are highly proficient at creating them--Jokes, Wisecracks and Elaborately-told Tales.)

When the need to bestir oursevles returned, some of us hiked out the back door and right up the mountain, the new groom leading the way. He was packin' protection against rattlesnakes (or so he claimed that's why he carried that gun!) and had fun demonstrating that he's quick on the draw.

The new bride set to work, preparing a feast of a meal for us all.

Monday: the en massers set out for that great big hole in the earth, a.k.a. the Grand Canyon. We trooped here and there, rode the shuttle bus from one spectacular point to another and (personally speaking, at least) gasped and wow!-ed and otherwise vigorously exclaimed over the wonder of it (never having glimpsed this natural phenomenon before--never having joined these five million thronging visitors per year!)

At the end of this excursion, my yard man and I waved goodbye, and "thank you," and "safe journeys" and
"happily ever after!" to our wonderful hosts and the rest of the entourage and drove off directly into the sunset (another quite striking natural phenomenon).


*with any luck, today's adventures
will be told tomorrow...I'm still
on vacation, you know!

Saturday, September 25, 2010


I CLIMBED OFF THE BLOW-UP mattress on the floor and looked out the window of Uncle John's second-floor office. The sun was shining brightly and I could smell coffee, fresh eggs and sausage; a rowdy breakfast was underway. Down below on the patio, fruit was being chopped up to go on big platters. The house was filled with hustle and bustle, as I'm sure you can easily imagine, Dear Reader, when you consider that twelve guests were housed here last night, and following breakfast they all pitched in to prepare for a wedding reception.

("Ahhh," I lamented to my yard man, after I'd seen the ranch by daylight and taken a tour, "There's no way I can blog about all of this [interesting features of the ranch and house--and especially its engaging occupants!!] I guess I'll just have to stick with reporting on the wedding.")

Oh, but I've got to give you a quick little view from the spacious front deck! It's where the reception will be held:

So, back to preparations, which were ultimately finalized; the sixteen folks (four more relatives had joined the crowd) who now filled the house piled into vehicles to follow the bride and groom on the fifteen-mile trip to the church, where the 86-year-old minister awaited. The church's formal name is Seligman Christian Fellowship, but it's lovingly called The Cowboy Church.

Now, without further ado, I'll take you down the aisle with the bride, Dear Reader, and give you the ceremony...or at least a few snippets of it:

And a few photos of the delightful spread that was
served to thirty-some guests at the reception.

It all came off without a hitch,
and now they are hitched!!
Congratulations, Dear Uncle John and Aunt Gloria!




Friday, September 24, 2010


ARIZONA IS FITTING my circadian rhythms just fine! I was pleased as punch to awaken and toss back the covers at 5:42 a.m. (zipping through three time zones can work wonders for my bed-hugging body). And, after that...well, there's so much more about which to enthuse. My goodness, Dear Reader, all I had to do was walk out of the hotel and I was gushing over the flowers.
I caught a glimpse of a mountain in the distance and thought it so picturesque (ah...and then!)

My yard man and I set out for the home of his uncle,

and here was more proof that we weren't in PA anymore: those non-trees growing beside the road. Not to mention this: a sign at the rest area that makes me look nervously at my sandal-wearing feet-- POISONOUS SNAKES AND INSECTS INHABIT THIS AREA!

So, anyway, we're heading up the highway from Phoenix, Arizona, my yard man and I. In between ooh-ing and ahh-ing about the scenery, I'm wailing about my non-adjustable seat in the rental car. "You're just towering above me!" I say to the yard man. "Look at you, up there! And I can hardly see a thing over this big dashboard!"

But that's only until we're approaching Jerome, Arizona (handily labeled with a "J") and we stop at a cowboy store for the sake of my yard man. Fortunately for me, there's a thrift shop next door, and a nice little pillow can be had for a dollar.

At Jerome (someone's great- grandparents lived in this tiny town on the side of a mountain when it [and they] were young and thriving]) there's a surplus of interesting things to see, but especially the prospective bride and groom and ten of the prospective guests for their wedding (all those nieces and nephews of the ring-buying Uncle John!)

They all met the yard man and me in Jerome, and we had a fine time eating lunch and shopping en masse (we'll be doing lots of things en masse in the coming days!) Later we all headed off for Sedona, Arizona, and a lovely afternoon of sightseeing.

By the time we had traveled through those fantastic red hills and wrapped up our perusal of Native American arts and crafts and taken lots of photos and shopped for items for the wedding reception and set out on the final leg of our journey to the home of Uncle John (that final leg being twelve miles of dirt roads),

the sun had set.

A full moon was rising over the ranch.

We'll have to wait to see this ranch, Dear Reader, until the sun rises once again. And that, you know,
will be Wedding Day!