Saturday, October 31, 2009

Getting Real

Ok, peps I'm gonna get real with you. You ready....

My husband is the greatest man ever. I know I'm biased, but I was sitting here looking at pictures, thinking about our life. The ups and downs, the good and bad and realized something... This man puts up with a lot and still is here.

Let's get real, I'm not the easiest to live with... heck I'm not the easiest person to even know sometimes. I'm opinionated (about everything), strong willed, independent, and stubborn while simultaneously being whiny, bitchy, needy and helpless. Go figure that one out...

Yet this man of my life patiently deals with my flaws all the while making me feel loved and secure. I love him with everything I have and wish it was more.

There is a thing going around on Facebook at the moment that says leave one adjective describing you... I couldn't do that for Jack, one isn't enough. But here is my attempt to describe this man, my love:

Strong of Character
Detail Oriented
Patient with Me
Calm in the Storm
Matter of Fact
Loves to Learn
Love of My Life

And asleep at them moment, which is where I'm about to be. Goodnight Blogland.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Lester & Linda - My Friend - My Mentor

I believe that in everyone's life you can look back on one person who made a difference. One person helped define who you are. In mine their names were Lester & Linda. They were the Pastor's of the first church I ever stepped foot in; they were the people God put in my life at a time when I so desperately needed a calming force. They were God's plan; they were my light in the dark.

Even today Lester and Linda are one of my rocks. The unmovable force that I know when the crap hits the fan I can call. It’s good to know they are there; to know that no matter what there are two people in this world who love me for me. Who know the dark, who know me as well as I know myself and love me anyway.

These are two of the most faithful people I know... people God has used to touch more lives than I can count and today they need your prayers. Lester is having some intestinal issues and had to leave church today mid-service to go to the ER. This is a man that always plays hurt; so for him to leave a church service midway thru; the pain had to be ... well pray. He is home now and has to go back to the Dr., but I ask that you agree with me in prayer today that he will be healed of this. Isaiah 53:5 says that by his (Jesus) strips we are healed, I believing in Jesus name that Lester is going to be healed of this and ask that you agree with me in prayer.

It’s funny looking back at my history with Lester and Linda. I first met them when I was 11 or 12; they were in their early 20's at their first church as Sr. Pastors. It was a tiny church - that church became my second home. I remember thinking of them as the leaders, the "preacher teacher", the elders... They weren't but 7 or 8 years older than me... I wonder now how they did it. How they seemed so sure of themselves - ministering to others, guiding others. When I was 25 I couldn't guide someone out of the bathroom :) ... But seriously, they were where God needed them to be, and they were and still are fulfilling his purpose. I admire them for that - I love them for that.

Lester & Linda will always be my friends, but more than that they are a piece in the foundation that God has laid for my life. Not to mention some dynamite Spade players….

The last few months, since I've gotten back into church, they have been on my mind. This couple...these friends... these rocks. I miss them… I still use them as my guide, spiritually. I find myself going up there to church occasionally; to do a reality check. With Lester I can’t hide… Like God gave him special Lisa vision or something…

I'm trying to find my way back to where I once was in God - or rather to even a higher place in my walk with him- there are emotional hurdles I'm trying so hard to overcome; old haunts I am trying to forget. Don't get me wrong: My faith is firm: I love the Lord God with my heart, I believe his son Jesus Christ came and died for my sins so that I may spend eternity with him and I thank him for it.

However, I struggle in my daily walk. Those that don't know me won't understand and those that do know me may not understand. It’s hard to explain - just know that its heavy on my spirit; its heavy on my mind and I'm trusting God that he will fold me in his arms and help me to walk the path he has chosen for me. That he will help me to draw close to him and to trust him with everything; that I will once again know that unmistakable Joy that exist when you are walking with God; the light bounce in your step that you have when God is your constant companion.

If you’ve never known that Joy; if you’ve never asked Jesus to be the Lord of your life. I pray today that you will.

Lester Get Better soon. You are forbidden from scaring me like that ever again. :) Seriously I love you guys and am trusting God for your speedy recovery.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Grand Canyon - Day 7

Day 7 – Zion National Park - Vegas
October 9, 2009

We didn’t do as much today as planned. We are all running a little out of steam and have all seen as many rocks as we want to see for a while. We got up around 9 and ate the continental breakfast – my opinion of the hotel in Kanub still stands; the hotel rocks and so does the continental breakfast!

After eating we drove to Zion National Park...upon getting into the park we discovered that the scenic drive required us to get on the park shuttle. None of us were in the mood to deal with the shuttle, having to move our photography equipment every few minutes, carrying our snacks, etc... so we just saw what we could see in our car and headed home. It was majestic and we stopped to take several pictures along the way. I want to plan another trip to really see it. Today it wouldn’t have really been appreciated though – none of us were in the mood.

We then headed back to Vegas. We arrived and checked into the Comfort Inn... It’s nice but nothing like the one we checked out of last night and the planes flying overhead are loud. LOL, we didn’t want to stay on the Strip as we thought we would be getting into town so late that it wouldn’t matter. Ah well – at least it’s cheap and clean. Clean is all that really matters :) hee...

We walked down on the strip a bit and explored the strip a tiny bit. We only stayed for a bit though – now we back at the hotel and are going to get some sleep, going to take a week to catch up on my sleep. We fly out tomorrow at 1 pm (3 pm EST) ... can’t wait to see my kitties.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Grand Canyon - Day 6

Day 6 – Bryce Canyon
October 8, 2009

Today we drove a couple hours out of Kanub to Bryce Canyon. It was an enjoyable day – the views were unique and ever changing. The same scene would look completely differnet depending on the angle you looked at it from. We spent the entire day viewing the various vista’s of the park and really enjoyed it... We also saw several wild animals around the park.

The first animals were the deer standing outside the restaurant we ate at for lunch. There was a family of 4 with a new baby deer. He was so cute; he was still furry and his ears were just adorable; those brown eyes were just precious. It was alot of fun and I think i got some great pictures.

The second animal sighting was a Coyote standing in a field. It wasn’t a space we could pull over so I made Jack stop and let me out on the side of the road. It was hillarous, but I got some pictures of him. 400MM was still not enough; I’m sure I’ll have to postcrop to really see him but I can prove I saw a Coyote in the wild. She or He knew I was there; he kept looking back to see what I was going to do. I loved ever minute of it.

We also saw chipmunks. They were so cute with their tails as long as their bodies. Super Super Cute and quick!

The last animal today we saw was the Raven. These are truly beautiful birds who are smart as anything. They are bigger than I expected and their feathers when ruffled almost makes them look furry.

Overall it was nice enjoyable day. I really do hope the pictures turn out... One more day and then we fly home. We are having a great time, but I’m about ready to see my kitties.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Grand Canyon - Day 5

Day 5 – Grand Canyon – North Rim
October 7, 2009

Well first I want to talk about temperature. We started out in Vegas - > The temperature was in the high 80’s, then we went to the South Rim and it was in the 40’s to the 60’s. You will never guess what is next... we drove to the North Rim today. When we went into the store it was 57, while we were in the diner eating it started SNOWING, we came out and it was in the low 30’s! Craziness!

Well now to tell you about the day. We left Flagstaff this morning at 9:40 and began the 5 hour drive to the North Rim. The drive was gorgeous, rocks of various landscapes jutting up from the land. The colors were vast and varied from dull beiges, grays and reds. 5 hours is normally a hard, long drive but the scenery made it absolutely wonderful. We were driving along and got to cross over the Navajo Bridge. This is a bridge that goes over the CO River and gives us absolutely beautiful views. It was neat to see the rafters floating underneath us. I can’t begin to describe the sheer beauty of this area.

We then stopped at Jacobs Lake – Not an actual lake but a little town. We ate lunch at the diner and while we were eating it began to SNOW outside. Huge white flakes; it was so neat and pretty. There were tourist there who must have never seen snow; they were running outside and getting their picture taken standing in the snow. It was cute.

We then headed into the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. This is the Canyon I expected to see when I visited the South Rim. The colors and views were breathtaking! We spent 4 or 5 hours driving the various vistas and looking at the scenery. It was the most breathtaking views... I hope the pictures turned out.

We then headed out of the Canyon toward Kanab UT. We stopped and cut the lights of the car off and looked at the stars. That far out they were breathtaking – without the city lights – you could see millions of them! It was spectacular, best light show ever.

We drove on out and into Kanab. We are staying at the Holiday Inn Express... You won’t believe it until you see the pictures, but this room is comparable to any 4 star hotel. Flat panel TV, Couch, Marble Sinks, Beautifully Decorated, Two Sitting areas... It’s amazing. Now I’m going to go to sleep in my king-size bed :) Sleep well blogland.

Grand Canyon - Day 4

Day 4 – Bottom of the Grand Canyon
October 6, 2009

I’m writing about this on the 7th as we drive...last night I was too tired. I think I was in bed by 8:45 :) Earliest I’ve been to bed in a decade, hee.

Yesterday we got an early start. We left the hotel at 7:30 am and made a stop by McDonald’s for a quick breakfast. I have learned a lesson – Waffle House does not have the worst old coffee, McDonald’s does. OMG that stuff could walk by itself – I took one sip; that was enough. The Cinamelt was great though and it was enough to sustain me for a bit...

We then drove to Williams to meet up with our Jeep Tour. We left with them at 9:00 am and drove to Seligman. Seligman is the birthplace of the Historic Route 66. Not where the road begins but where the two businessmen that petitioned Congress to make it a Historic Road were from and where the town of Radiator Springs from Cars was based on. We spent about 20 minutes here taking pictures and etc... It was neat to see; defiantly a tourist trap but neat to see.

We then headed on down to the Grand Canyon Caverns – this is a dry cavern near the Grand Canyon. The person that bought it thought he had found his retirement plan in diamonds - > what he found was Calcium Deposits that sparkled... The Cavern was really just a stopping point so they could get the jeeps ready. It wasn’t anything spectacular and it was obvious they were doing everything they could do to make a buck. But it was something to do and I can say I saw the Grand Canyon caverns.

After we finished the tour we went out and got on the Jeeps. They were bright yellow and sat 6 passengers. We sat with 3 ladies who were older and quite humorous. We then headed on to Waalpi Indian Reservation – The Indians own the only road that goes down into the Canyon and you have to pay for a permit to ride down into the Canyon – which is a reason for using a tour company; they take care of all the politics for you...

The Waalpi Indians are one of the poorest Indian Nations and it was evident from the housing we passed. Maybe it was just the section of town but it looked like government housing and most of the roads were junky... with old cars and equipment sitting in the yards. It certainly didn’t look like the best section.

After we passed through this section we got on a dirt road which would lead us into the Canyon. The ride was bumpy and exhilarating. The guide was a middle age lady who really seemed to know a lot about the area and really enjoyed her job. She stopped often to let us take pictures (she would stop anytime you asked if you wanted a particular shot). She also stopped to tell us about the different plant life and rock types that we passed; it was neat to watch the rock layers change the further we went into the Canyon. The landscape really changed too; you would expect it to be dry and lifeless, it’s the opposite. The area has natural springs that feed into the CO River and the area thrives off the water. Greenery is abundant and apparently so is the wildlife, though we really didn’t get to see too much.

It took about 2 hours and we were at the bottom of the Canyon next to the CO River. We were given our sack lunches and were told to be back at the Jeep in an hour. The three of us headed off to a secluded spot next to the River to have our picnic. It was nice to sit there and eat next to the CO River; deep in the Canyon -> an area not many people ever get to see. I put my hands in the water and washed off my face; it was cool and refreshing.

After eating I walked around a bit and snapped a few pictures. The guide showed us a Pink Rattlesnake that was curled up sleeping; it was really amazing at how well he hid among the rocks. I would have never seen him, which is just another note to how wild and dangerous the place really is.

We then got on the jeeps and headed back up the Canyon, at a much faster pace than when we came down. However we did get to stop and see wild donkeys or boroughs... one was pregnant and they came right up to our jeep to get apples. They were very skittish so you had to be quiet but it was very neat to see and feed them. You wouldn’t know they were wild if you didn’t know it... It was quite neat.

We then continued our trek to the top of the Canyon, got in the vans and headed back to Williams. About an hour and ½ drive total – long enough for a good nap.

We got back to Williams, got in the car and went to Flagstaff for a much needed shower. I had dust in places I didn’t think dust could get :) We then headed out to Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant. This is a restaurant I would highly recommend if you are ever in Flagstaff. The food was excellent, the service good and the prices reasonable. We then went back to the hotel room and simply crashed...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Grand Canyon - Day 3

Day 3 – South Rim Grand Canyon & Sunset Crater Volcano

October 5, 2009

This morning we woke up around 8:30 and began to get ready. We stepped outside and realized the temperature was not as earlier predicted by the Weather Channel – It was in the 40s, brrrr. So we bundled up with what we had, went to the store and bought coats :) LOL I needed a new coat anyway.

Afterwards we grabbed breakfast at Cracker Barrel and then headed out to continue our adventure. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon was the plan. It took us about an hour and ½ to get there. We surprisingly got in free due to Mama - she got a life time pass for all federal parks. Love it!

The Canyon itself was vast and not exactly as I suspected. I expected deep colors; the vivid reds we see in the pictures. However, what while it was vast and breathtaking it wasn’t colorful. Maybe it was how high the sun was in the sky – it could have been washing them out. Photography is all about the light. It was great though and enjoyable to drive around.

We drove down Hermit Road (special again due to Mama – most have to take a public bus or hike) and stopped several times to see the sights. It was fun to see how far we could walk out; I got a picture jumping near the edge; hopefully it turns out. We had fun ...

We then went back and grabbed lunch at the Village. We then headed down Desert View Drive toward the East entrance of the park. We saw the watchtower - the wall murals inside were amazing! We then headed out... It is funny as we were leaving and were officially out of the park I saw the Canyon I expected... must have been the light or may where we were... being further away so you can appreciate the contrast... but the colors were vivid; the reds, oranges and whites popping out! It really drew me in – unfortunately it was not very safe to stop and take pictures right there...But it was beautiful and we tried to snap a few out of the window. Hopefully some of them turn out.

We then were heading back to our hotel. I had wanted to go see Sunset Crater Volcano before going to the park, but due to our shopping spree we got a late start, so I didn’t think we would get to see it. However as we were driving back to the hotel we saw the sign and seeing as how the light was still with us we took a left to see what we could see. We didn’t make it to the actual monument due to the light fading on us, however we did get to see several of the volcano’s in the area (mountains all around us) and the black lava ... the last eruption was over 700 years ago, but the lava was still there. It was just great... a wonderful surprise to be able to see it.

Then we came back to the hotel and ordered pizza. Good food – and rest. Tomorrow is the jeep tour; we have to get up and be out of here by 7:30...

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Grand Canyon Trip - End of Day 1 & Day 2

Day 1 – Las Vegas, Valley of the Fire State Park & Hoover Dam
October 3, 2009

Well, I am actually typing this on Day 2 – as we got in to late last night for me to finish the journal. However, let me just say Vegas is absolutely awesome! I have to come back for a weekend trip so we can really see it.

First we walked out of our hotel onto Fremont Street. We were waiting for the light show which happens every hour and the crowd was bad. I don’t do well in crowds and began to slightly freak – so I grabbed some alcoholic courage and knocked the edge off. After that I began to calm down and could enjoy the sights/sounds/people watching. OMG at the people – The girl in red leather chaps with nothing but black briefs under it had to be the best! But anyway – then the light show started.

They cut all the lights off on Fremont Street (that’s a lot of lights let me tell ya) and then overhead millions of lights are played to music. It is like watching 50 or 60 widescreen televisions at the same time – totally awesome. You’d have to see it.

Then we went back up int the room to drop off camera bags and make some slight changes in what we were carrying before we headed to the Strip. We didn’t get to really see it... We drove into it barely before parking at Caesar’s Palace. Caesar’s Palace is amazing! The architecture and the art work are just something to see. I can’t tell you ... We didn’t walk through all of Caesar’s Palace as it was almost 11 and we didn’t get to see the lobbies of the other buildings – but I saw enough to know I’m coming back to explore! I don’t care about the gambling – heck if I spend a $1 before I leave on gambling I’ll be surprised. However I want to see the lobbies and maybe catch a show. It is just ... well something I have to see more of!

Day 2 – Driving & Sedona
October 4, 2009

Much of today was spent driving from Las Vegas to Flagstaff AZ where we will be bunking for the next few evenings. 5 Hour drive roughly – However we did get here in time to do a few things.

We arrived in the area around 3:30 and headed down toward Sedona planning to get to Cathedral Rock before sunset. We stopped several times to take pictures of the view – the rocks out here will amaze you. They will go from this deep sunset red to a white instantly. The sheer beauty and well strangeness of it astounds me.

As I said we stopped several times - One time was to look over Oak Creek Canyon, beautiful – however the wind will blow you away. It’s in the 50’s but the wind makes it feel like 40... It’s strong and brutal. Mama didn’t make it all the way out to the overlook of the Canyon; she went back to the warmth of the car :) However it was worth seeing and taking a picture of. Though she did get to see a bit of it when we started driving again – I wouldn’t have been able to get pics though so I’m glad we stopped.

We then headed on down to Sedona – the town looks like a tourist trap and we didn’t get to stop due to the sundown timeline... Mama had decided by this point to not do the “steep trail” as the internet tells us to go to Cathedral Rock – She said she would just wait. Boy am I glad she did – this wasn’t a trail! This was mountain climbing... easy mountain climbing but mountain climbing none the less. The elevation is higher which didn’t help any... We got about ½ up and I honestly didn’t think I could finish. I stopped after and set down... my lungs were screaming at me for air and tears were streaming down my face. Why was I crying? No clue – My body’s way of dealing with the torture I was putting it under I guess. But then Jack offered to take my camera up for me and bring me back some pictures... So I was up and going again. No way was I suffering through that for nothing...

We continued up the mountain. I’m serious there were several areas where you are putting a foot in a foot hold, grabbing something and pulling yourself up – there is no way to just walk...

We finally made it...To the top between two towering mountains and the view as out of this world amazing... The red rocks against the sky – made me think of cities. This was a place to commune with God. I know why they claim Sedona is spiritual... now I don’t buy into the metaphysical hype that surrounds the town, however this few- this spot – this quiet moment was humbling. To stand before what God has made and look over it......

We stayed until the sunset; snapping pictures – resting – chatting with a lady who lives in the area and was waiting on her daughter. The daughter was also off taking pictures; she was a bit more serious about it than we were... I was just glad I survived the trek up and praying we would survive the road down...

After the sunset we decided to quickly get off the mountain before we lost the light...We got down the worst part before the light was gone, but then the light was gone! The path markers are rock... well rock on top of rock isn’t easy to see at night. We didn’t have flash lights – stupid I know – so I started using the flash on my camera to see the way... We were lost ...meandering around hoping to spot the next trail marker. After about 30 minutes of searching, calling Mama to cut on the car lights and honk the horn... we finally made it back to the trail. Oddly enough during this entire time I wasn’t scared – maybe it was knowing we had the cell or knowing we were down the majority of it, or just knowing I survived the trip up but I was fairly calm... God is working in me that is for sure – 3 years ago I would have freaked and been ill as a hornet by time I got down off that mountain.

It was fun... it was tiring... it was worth it...I was craving steak! We left there and went to Flagstaff; checked into our hotel and went for an Outback steak! All in all things went great. We are having a good time! See you tomorrow with an update from the South Rim of the Canyon.

Grand Canyon Trip - Day 1

Day 1 – Las Vegas, Valley of the Fire State Park & Hoover Dam
October 3, 2009

Well, we landed at Los Vegas this morning at around 12:40 am Pacific Time - 3:40 EST. We are all tired and grouchy. The airport was unorganized... our baggage took forever to get to the baggage claim and we had to take a bus to get to the rental car. But we got through it all and headed to the hotel.

The lights of Vegas greeted us brightly – truly this is the city that never sleeps. By time we got to the hotel it was approaching 4:30 AM EST and I was running on fumes. We valet parked, got help with our bags from the bellboy and headed up to our adjoining room with my mother. We are staying at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino and I must say it is Gold... ther e is gold everywhere. The rooms are nice though – spacious and scream pampering, hee.

We didn’t look much though – just went upstairs and crashed.

The call came at 8:30 am PST (11:30 EST)- > the bank calling me back to real life. I handled that briefly and was elated to know we have an entire day ahead of us. I was still slightly tired – but excited at the same time.

We got dressed and went down into the lobby. We decided to eat at the restaurant in the lobby vs finding something once we got the car. It wasn’t the greatest food, but it was fairly affordable and we got to people watch which is always fun. Man you should see the people out here – all kinds – in all states of dress. I mean you’ve seen it before, but well there are some characters – that is for sure.

After breakfast we picked up the car and headed out – Valley of the Fire State Park here we come. The drive from here to there wa s eye opening. Vast expanses of dirt and weeds, right up next to rock/dirt mountains with no life on them. In GA there are trees and life on every mountain, not here – just risen desert really,lol.

We drove on for a ways and then stopped at the convenience store right before heading into the park. It was a biker hangout and was ...interesting. But we were able to use the facilities and get som e water which was the main objective. We then headed on into the park. The mountian ranges and odd rock formations really are quite impressive. Like red cities rising out of the ground... caves and creavaces here and there... We explored and took pictures for two or three hours and then headed back to grab some lunch before finishing our afternoon at Hoover Dam.

The drive to Hoover Dam was exciting in that we saw a Ram on the side of the road. Sadly I had my wide angle lens on so while I took a picture it wasn’t as close as I woul d have liked - > really need two cameras so I can have both lens ready ...Yea I need a raise first :)

Hoover Dam was impressive – WOW it is huge. Unfortunatley the bridge they are building behind it took away from some of the photo ops. Between the bridge construction (the bridge will look good when finished) and all the power lines (yes I know it’s a power plant)... well it just took my good photo ops away. Hee. It was impressive to see though and I think Jack enjoyed it.

We then headed back to Vegas with a Target stop on the way – Have to get some necessaities, bottle water, SUN SCREEN, MORE SUN SCREEN and chapstick. Man the wind is brutal out here on the lips... I know sit here taking a breather; putting our feet up before we hit Vegas. I’m looking forward to the pretty lights and the lobbies... Hopefully I can handle the crowds. We shall see – More to follow soon :)

Jamaica Day 2 and Part of 3

I'm relaxed - I mean really relaxed and it feels amazing.  Yesterday after the post they showed us a new room and I was really undecided...