On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered His words.
I have to admit, I really enjoyed reading Karen’s recent post, Snow Hiking. You know, the one about where’s she’s been and what she’s been up to these past few months? And how about her artwork? Seriously, who knew she had such talent?! Definitely not me, but I’ve totally enjoyed seeing her creations.
Just reading her post made me start thinking about my own absence from our blog and why I’ve stepped down for so long. Perhaps it’s just personal therapy, but I feel compelled to write my own account of ‘Where’s Waldo” (or is it Walda?). Maybe some will identify with me and reply with their own experiences. And maybe not. But really, the next few paragraphs are mostly for me, so sit back and enjoy the ride.
First and foremost, I haven’t been doing nothing. I’ve at least been hiking multiple times, cross-country skiing once, and an awesome day of down-hill skiing. And, with the exception of down-hill skiing, I even have a collage of pictures to prove it.
And when the snow dumped and dumped for days, with no relief in sight… we threw down our shovels, kicked it into 4WD, and headed for the middle of nowhere!
Cuz nothing beats FIRST TRACKS!
And I’ve been traveling.
Florida, Wisconsin, Washington, Nevada, and more visits to Phoenix than I care to count.
Then there’s that lengthy period of soul-searching, in which I found myself immersed again and again. Not because I’m trying to find myself, mind you. That would be self–seeking, not soul-searching, right? And most of the time I’d be better off to lose myself, as the overwhelming presence of me is usually what is wrong with my life. But don’t worry, I won’t get heavy on you. Suffice it to say, I’ve been reassessing my direction in life. A course-correction, you might call it. A much-needed, and on-going one, at that.
All things considered, it’s been an awesome eight months. And I’m glad to be back!
Sounds like a song, doesn’t it? But, no. It’s an absolutely gorgeous sight, set right out in the middle of Nowhere, Arizona!
I can’t honestly say that this stunningly surreal spot is officially called The End of The World; but that’s what the locals call it, so I’m sticking with it. Other than being a tad bit hazy due to the wind kicking up some dust, it was a gorgeous view and definitely clearer than the pictures depict.
After taking at least 103 photos, we headed back to the car and further on down the road; which, to our surprise, dead-ended after only about a half-mile at a gate marking the entrance to the USFS Lookout Tower.
From this point, it’s boots on the ground only, so we gladly abandoned our car and hoofed it on foot for about another 1/2 – 3/4 miles to the tower. Which I did in my flip-flops, by the way, since I completely forgot to grab my more appropriate shoes that I carefully placed near the door at home so I wouldn’t forget them. Thankfully the road was well-maintained. Though the slightly rocky, steady incline did make me wish more than once that I wasn’t quite so perpetually forgetful.
After spending about 30-40 minutes taking pictures and talking with the Forest Service Ranger, we decided to head back down so we could make our way home before sundown. This time of day is always a great time to see wildlife, and we were hoping that would be the case today. A little treat to top off an already great trip.
We were definitely not disappointed!
We actually saw much more than this. To include a herd of about 30-40 elk frolicking off the side of the road, hardly taking notice of us as we drove by. Not to mention three other large elk just like the picture above. It was more than we expected and we were thrilled!
And then it happened…
We heard it before we felt it. And when I say we, I mean my husband.
Psssssssst….. Flat tire. In the middle of nowhere. With at least 15 miles of dirt road to go. But thank God for donuts! And for my efficient husband, who had that tire changed quicker than the Dad in The Christmas Story. Less than 6 minutes, from start to finish! And we were back on the road like nothing had ever happened.
Take Historic Route 66 west from town (east from I40 E) to Woody Mountain Rd, which quickly turns to dirt and begins SR 231. This is a 23 mile stretch of dirt road that eventually dead ends at the gate to the East Pocket Knob USFS Lookout Tower. A word of caution: there will be other SR’s veering from SR 231 (as you can see from the picture on the left), so be careful to stay only on SR 231 for the entire distance. About a half-mile before the road dead ends, you will reach the holy grail; aptly named, The End of The World. You can camp here short-term, and there is even a ready-made fire pit for you to use. Dependent on current fire restrictions, of course. The road is in very good condition for the majority of the drive, with only about 5 miles of typical dirt road conditions. We drove a car and made it with no problems (except for that teeny-weeny flat) but when we do it again, we will definitely take our truck for a more comfortable ride. And thicker walled tires.
This is great information for our CT hike, Bear Whisperer…
Thank you, Alberta Environment and Parks!
Bears are one of our province’s wild species and we need to be cautious and alert when we head out into bear habitat. Although rare, bear encounters and attacks do happen and it’s easy to forget what to do or panic if it does happen. Remember that most bear encounters and attacks can be prevented and almost always bears aren’t seeking conflict with humans.
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Sometimes you just have to throw off all responsibility and take a day to yourself. Especially when the mini-vacation you’ve planned falls through at the last-minute. But my husband, being the awesome guy that he is, made sure that at least one of those lost days was redeemed by planning a very fun, mid-week adventure for us – away from work, people, and life in general. And it all started by not waking up at our usual 5:45am.
I should back up. It really all started the night before when he disappeared during our ritualistic viewing of America’s Got Talent, then showed back up several minutes later toting two very full bowls of yummy ice cream! Regardless of what anyone else might tell you, there is nothing that says I love you more than a huge bowl of Breyer’s Ice Cream. Not to mention the innate ability of Chocolate Fudge Brownie Blast to melt away whatever stress might still be clinging to the fringes of your mind at day’s end!
After sleeping in, then spending a very relaxing morning doing absolutely nothing, we packed a couple of sandwiches, some snacks, plenty of water, and (as has been our habit lately) headed out to take on yet another mountain hike. Our past couple of hikes have been fairly strenuous, so we decided to look for one with a much lower elevation gain and largely more recreational. We ended up choosing one that we’ve hiked several times before, the very popular and stunningly beautiful Kachina Trail.
It’s easy to see why this trail is so popular. Not only does it wind along the side of Agassiz Mountain, where it frequently opens up to breath-taking views of the landscape below, a large number of Aspen trees also provide a nice cover for much of the path; giving just enough of a reprieve from the summer heat to keep the plant life lush and green in most areas (and the hikers cool too, I might add). That, along with the abundance of ferns throughout, creates a sort of rain forest, jungle atmosphere that’s amazingly surrealistic.
Just the kind of setting where one might expect to see black bear or some other wildlife frolicking about in the cool of the day, enjoying the absence of the weekend wave of humanity. Expect to see, that is. But for all our careful observation, our only reward was one incredibly large and colorful horny toad.
I should also mention that this is the biggest and most ornate horny toad either of us has ever seen! The picture doesn’t even come close to capturing its size or beauty. This thing was at least 4 inches wide and a total length of about 6 or 7 inches! See the pine cone at its head? It’s a normal size pine cone, but it looks dwarfed by this thing’s size. It was so wide, in fact, that it actually waddled as it took off running away from us, full speed ahead. Moving so fast, it almost looked as if it wasn’t even touching the ground. And check out the little spikes all over the edges of its torso and tail! What’s up with that?? This looks more like a prehistoric creature to me than a horny toad.
While we’re on the subject, I wonder how we ever came to call these little critters Horny Toads to begin with. I get the horned part, but they’re not toads. At all. They’re actually lizards. See how the horny toad has feet that face backward for climbing? And the toad has feet that face forward for hopping? I actually think horny toads look more like miniature dinosaurs than toads. Maybe even a little like Cera, in The Land Before Time! I know it’s probably not nice to frighten them, but I have to admit it’s really hard not to stop and pick up these little buggers cuz they’re so darn cute and cuddly!! Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little on the cuddlyness.
The weather cooperated beautifully for our little excursion. And with the exception of a very small amount of people at the beginning, we were alone on the trail for the entire afternoon. Apparently, there’s a lot to be said for getting out in the middle of the week. After four miles, lunch, and a snack break, we did an about-face and began the second half of our journey; re-tracing our steps. Destination, parking lot.
It’s funny how the return leg of any hike always feels so much shorter to me than the way out. And other than a few horny toad sightings (not including the aforementioned, abnormally large chap), our return leg of the journey was completely uneventful. In what seemed like no time at all we were back at our car, stripping off our gear, and heading down the mountain toward home. Where a much-anticipated, and desperately needed, hot shower awaited us!
To top off our day, we settled in with a yummy take out dinner (yay, no cooking) and a very funny movie. And of course, it wouldn’t be right to forget the absolute best part of the evening… Yep, you guessed it. Two HEAPING bowls of Breyer’s Ice Cream!! Without which, the perfect end to the perfect day could not have been possible!
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