Monday, December 28, 2009

Personal Best - Time to Take Flight!

If you have ever been involved in competitive sports, you know that a personal best (PB) is the next best thing to a record. It's the best you've ever done whether it is a time achieved, distance, weight lifted, runs batted in ...anything like that. While it is really neat to actually hold a record in something, achieving personal bests are VERY satisfying and move the carrot out a little farther each time for your next PB.

I am suggesting that beginning January 1 and ending December 31, 2010 we all work on achieving our own personal best in our health status this year. Let's look at PBs a little deeper first.

Typically personal bests are recorded with a beginning and an end point. You start and at the end, you look to see if you have achieved it. But frankly, you often know - barring unforeseen circumstances, when you are on track for it while you're in the middle of it. And that feeling of potential achievement helps you push a little harder. When I was running for many years, I had certain routes I would take so I had visual milestones all along the way. So if I got to the grocery store on a certain corner at a certain time, I could tell if I was on target for or behind a personal best time. Either way, I would push a little harder at the milestone point. Those little points kept me on track and made me better. If I was always running in a new place with no milestones to compare my time to, it would have been really hard to push myself. Where am I?

How can we relate this practice to our own health in general? For one thing, most athletes don't decide they are going to be the world's best athletes in general. They pick their sport and often a specialty even within that sport.

So I am suggesting that you DON'T make a new year's resolution to "lose weight," "eat better" or "exercise more." These goals are way too general and can be overwhelming as you throw yourself into a lifestyle change that is vastly different than the way you've been living. So you set a big goal of being healthier, defining what that means to you personally and then set much smaller goals you can actually achieve over the course of 2010.

Being able to achieve small goals sets you up psychologically to feel successful enough to work on the next goal and the next goal. For instance, if you don't exercise at all and you know you need to, don't start the new year deciding you're going to exercise 5 days a week for an hour a day. From nothing to five is huge. But if you break that goal down to "I'm going to start by working out one day a week for an hour and keep it up for a month," then by the end of the month two days may be in the realm of possibility. If not yet, keep at it for another month and try again. Then maybe the next small goal would be to stick to two days a week for two months, gradually working up to your five days as you ease into it over the year, making it work for your schedule.

Keep a "visual milestone" like crossing off days on the calendar that you've exercised. If you post a full-year wall calendar somewhere where you see it all the time, it can keep you motivated. Buddying up with a friend who has similar goals AND motivation to achieve can help you go to the gym or to your class when you sometimes feel like being lazy. Push each other - you have goals! And, BTW, if you don't get to exercise that one or two days one week, don't throw up your hands and say "Well, see, I blew it, I can't do this." You just get back on the horse. Never, ever give up.

You can apply this same principal to healthy eating, getting more sleep, taking more time for yourself and more.

Set a big goal and then break it down into little goals so you get there. Your personal best is waiting for you to hit it in 2010. You don't need to be the best anybody ever was; you just need to work on being the best you ever were. Start by being better than you were this year next year. Start planning for long-term health by achieving a PB this year and then setting the bar a little higher for yourself next year and just keep going. Health is best when you plan for the future, not just for today or this week, but for a lifetime.

But you know that...... You read this blog. Take off!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Aging Lite - Gifting Idea!

I know this may seem like a shameless attempt to promote my book, but I guess that is exactly what it is! When I originally wrote Aging Lite: A Baby Boomer's Health Planner for Women, it was for my master's project for my degree in gerontology. I was passionate about it then as I am now and was determined to get it out to women everywhere. My advisor laughed when I told him I was going to publish it. He didn't know me very well.

Planning for health in the long term is just not in the conversation yet today. Of course we try to take care of ourselves so we can live as long as possible, but most people don't approach their health like they approach retirement planning, investing, accomplishing projects at work or even going on vacation! Aging Lite is all about "the plan" and sticking to it. Very few of us would have any savings set aside at all if we approached our financials like we do our health. What a difference if we did!!!

Aging Lite is kind of like a thump on the head by your mom saying "where do you want to be, here are the basic rules for getting there, now take them and plan out how you personally will make it." Lots of food for thought in the book. Lots of exercises to get you thinking - long term. Easy read for us busy women.

So I know I will never get rich on this little publication, but if I can make a difference for women out in the world, wherever they are, that is my dream for this book. That's why I wrote it. It's very inexpensive and priced right for a great gift for any women you care about in your life. If you click on the book to the right, it'll take you to my publisher's website where you can purchase it or multiple copies. Enjoy!!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Green Bean Casserole: De-lite-ful Recipe

Thought all of you calorie counters might want this delicious Weight Watchers recipe for green bean casserole that is not only very tasty, but is very low cal. Fewer casserole calories - more pie! : )

Green Bean Casserole
Makes 12 1/2 cup servings @1 point per serving

30 ounces green beans
10 3/4 ounces reduced fat cream of mushroom soup
1/2 C nonfat sour cream
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1 1/2 medium onion - thinly sliced, separated into rings
4 T grated nonfat Parmesan cheese
2 T Italian bread crumbs

In a large bowl, combine beans, soup, sour cream and pepper.
Coat a 2-qt. casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place the green bean mixture in the dish, and arrange the onion rings over the top. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and bread crumbs over the onions.
Bake 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 16, 2009


I HAD to show you some pictures from my first ever NASCAR race in Phoenix. I had no idea. We've watched tons of races on TV but have only seen the inside of the track - never what goes on outside. OMGosh! There were sooo many people out there before the race starts - many for days at a time in motorhomes. Take a look at this sea of RVs! I think there was over 100,000 people there.

Half of the fans had some NASCAR something on and the other half were carrying logo stuff they just bought in clear plastic bags. I think they ask for clear for security reasons. I felt severly underdressed. I had no NASCAR anything on except a lanyard that held my ticket and stuff.

Every driver had a their own trailer selling their logo'd stuff. Had to get a shot of Dale Jr., my husband's favorite and mine, Carl Edwards. Dear Carl, he's usually great, but Sunday he was just out for a Sunday drive. Dale crashed early, so I found myself rooting for the guy who had a picture of a dog on his car. Turns out he's the driver everybody boo's. How do you boo a guy with a dog on his car?

The SPEED Channel was there of course and was doing their commentary right outside the track. They'd goof around with the audience in during breaks and commercials.

The food was about as unhealthy as it could be. Huge BBQ turkey legs. Giant sausages in buns that would feed a family of four. Aaaargh! I managed to find a marginal grilled chicken breast sandwich and that was about it. I did break down and get a bag of kettle corn.

We had great seats thanks to one of my husband's friends in his company and he even lent us his two sets of head phones - a must otherwise you'll go deaf - and a scanner that hooked up to both sets where you could hear the drivers talking all through the race. How cool was that?

Four Air Force jets flew over the track as they played the Star Spangled Banner and I got all choked up. A NASCAR race is so about what America is at its heart. America loves racing.

Jimmy Johnson in the Lowes car won that day. Great driver, great car. Fabulous job. I want to go again. Next time I'll have my clear plastic bag and my Carl Edwards t-shirt. But I won't have a hat on like this! Gotta be kidding me!!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Immunity Impunity

Wikipedia definition of impunity: "Impunity arises from a failure by States to meet their obligations to investigate violations; to take appropriate measures in respect of the perpetrators..." Oh, Anne. What are we talking about here?

OK. For the sake of this discussion, I see ourselves as our own little states. While states don't have 100 percent control over what happens within the state, they do have a lot of control. And so do we. We don't have complete control over what happens to us and our bodies, but we have a lot of it. So when it comes to our bodies, how much control do we have over our immune systems? Again - a lot.

A great immune system is ALWAYS important, but we especially depend on it now during the flu season (seasonal and H1N1) to get us through without catching anything. We also depend on it to keep us from suffering diseases of many other kinds including cancer. So are we meeting our obligations to our bodies to keep our immune systems as strong as we can or are we failing to pay attention and take appropriate measures to correct?

You read so often that exercise and good nutrition help your immune system, but I always wondered exactly how they did that! It wasn't until I went through one of Andrew Weil's online courses on Nutrition and Cancer that I finally found an explanation that filled out the picture. It was an excellent course BTW. Here is the gist of it.

Our bodies have many millions of cells that naturally age at different rates depending on where they are in the body. Additionally cells are damaged by various things - oxidants, etc. We have a wonderful system called apoptosis that's in place to get rid of old or damaged cells that if otherwise left alone can cause illness. So we need those killer cells to be plentiful enough to handle the day-to-day workload of old, damaged, out of control cells, etc. When we're in balance, the bad cells aren't too plentiful and we have enough killer cells to take them out.

But here's where impunity comes in. A poor diet that is loaded with unhealthy fats and sugar, being sedentary and not exercising regularly, drinking too much and smoking can really amp up the damage to otherwise healthy cells and diminish the number and ability of the killer cells to do their jobs. So you wind up with an overload of nasty cells and a weak army to deal with them. Double whammy. That's when we become more open to disease. It's like a little creek that becomes a river and the walls that held the water back from the city and were never taken care of fell when overwhelmed. Are we allowing that to happen unchecked?

This is a very simplistic explanation and there are certainly other factors that cause illness, but this is a biggie. THIS we have much control over in our little state of self. Are we paying attention and turning bad habits around? It's a good question to ask ourselves everyday. Are we meeting our obligations to ourselves or are we failing?

So many of us are juggling many responsibilities - maybe more than ever before. Women especially seem to put themselves last on their list of priorities. Just keep our heads down and plow on. Well, I'm here to ask you to figure out how you are going to be a priority in your life. You're like the family car (I love analogies). You carry everyone around every day, day after day, but you need regular maintenance to keep the wheels turning! Maintenance for you is exercise, healthy diet, minimal alcohol intake and no smoking for starters. That is Basic Human Maintenance 101. No maintenance - you're up on blocks sooner or later. Kind of an interesting visual and not at all fun if it happens.

I don't want to be up on blocks and of course you don't. Wherever you are in your life today, think about where you might be living with impunity and reverse gears. You are so worth it. There has never been anyone exactly like you since the world began. That is precious and worth paying attention to my friends.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Happy Halloween!

These glass pumpkins, with the exception of the little one, were blown by artisans of the Sonoran Glass Academy, a nonprofit organization in Tucson, AZ that helps kids learn glass blowing skills. I've collected them over the last few years and I love them. The Academy has a big pumpkin sale every October and there are tons to choose from. I actually got to see the black and orange striped one being blown this year so it's very special.

You might also notice the maple leaf artwork woven in among the pumpkins drawn by my sister, Sarah.

Happy Halloween blogland!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Making Strides Walk Today

I had the privilege to raise money and walk in the Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk today with family. I don't know how many people walked this morning, but it had to have been several thousand. It was a beautiful morning with a clear blue sky, chilly air but with the promise of warmth later on. And it delivered.

One of the principles I teach in Aging Lite is that its very important to your health to be involved in giving of yourself to causes, community, family, etc. Focusing on the needs of others is emotional therapy for you. It's a win-win!

Me, my stepdaughter, Gina, my granddaughter Layla (like the song), Gina's fiance's mom, Mary, some of her family and friends all moved along with the crowd for three miles chatting away most of the time. That's one of the fun things about fundraiser walks - you can just yack the whole way if you want to. Layla rode in her stroller and was a happy little girl the whole way. We only had to retrieve her fairy wand and her box of raisins and other than that, all was intact.

I thought about bringing my number one dog Lucy, but we had planned to go out for breakfast afterwards and that would have been difficult with her. But some others did and the dogs pretty much had to dodge human feet the whole way. I don't think that would have phased Lucy. She's such a trooper. I took a few shots of dogs who were doing their best to survive the walk!

We sent scouts out ahead at the end of the walk to reserve a table for us at Mimi's Cafe. Good thing we did as others must have had the same idea minutes after we did! It was packed because it was Sunday anyway, but pink was the color of the day there. The pumpkin pancakes were awesome. Yummm. If you have a Mimi's Cafe near you.........

It was a good morning for all and maybe one of those dollars raised today will be the last dollar needed to find a cure for breast cancer. But in case it wasn't, we'll be back next year!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hiking Havasupai

A few posts ago I told you that some friends and I were going to do a Grand Canyon hike this fall and well, we did it! The last time we hiked the Grand Canyon, we were in the National Park and hiked down the Kaibab trail, camped at Phantom Ranch and came up the Bright Angel Trail. This time, we (Teresa, Laura, Diane and me) were on the Havasupai reservation and hiked the trail named after the tribe. Havasupai means "people of the blue green water." You have undoubtedly seen pictures of the beautiful falls and colorful pools there - they're quite famous.

So I was personally interested in two things: the hike itself, what we would see on the way down and the falls. They both promised to be fabulous. I knew we would be hiking into an Indian village, but I had no idea what it would be like and so for me it was more of a peripheral interest. Turned out that my ignorance of the people and their home ended up feeling like disrespect and I wished I had read the book "People of the Blue Green Water" before I had arrived there.

The village was fascinating and I found myself wanting more time to sit and talk with some of the people who lived there as I had a million questions. I felt like I should have been more aware of this place over 500 people call home and not just barreled into it ignorant. Live and learn.

The Havasupai don't live where any roads go. To get anything in or out requires a trip up the 9-mile trail by foot, horse or a flight on a helicopter. As we hiked from the rim Friday morning, trains of pack horses and mules passed us going up and down carrying peoples' bags, coolers, merchandise and even trash. Dogs trotted effortlessly along with the trains. The pack trains are apparently the main mode of making a living for the tribe now.

No cars down in the village naturally, but we did see a few of those four-wheel Polarises. Lots of horses and mules there - seemed like most people had them or herds of them. We stayed at the only lodge there instead of camping this time ( I was glad because I had sock issues on the way down, my feet were killing me by the time we got there and we would have had to hike another couple of miles past town to get to the campground).

Anyway, back to horses, the second day we were there, there was a loose horse grazing in the courtyard of the lodge! I guess it was their version of a lawnmower. He was doing a good job of it, too.

As I said, the main living there seems to be bringing some people, but mostly their stuff up and down the trail. Then there is the lodge, a couple small grocery stores and a cafe with a few staff people in each. That was about it. I didn't see any crafts or even souvenirs for sale there. The post office did sell postcards that you could have stamped by the post office with the Havasupai postmark when mailed from there. (Proof that you actually made it!)

The hike down on Friday took about 5 1/2 hours and we were taking pictures all the way. We met a group of women coming down from Utah on their annual adventure. Really nice ladies. We bumped into each other throughout our trip. Virtually hiked up and down almost on the same schedule, took pictures of each other at Mooney Falls. Really fun people. One of the benefits of doing these kinds of trips.

Friday night when we got there, we ate at the cafe, walked around the village a little and crashed. Saturday was our day to hit three of the four falls. The fourth, Beavers Falls, was too far this trip. Three young boys from the village came up to our balcony as we were getting ready to go. Asking us questions, just being social. We told them we were going to the falls and they told us that they could show us where they were - they'd been there a million times. But we didn't know where their parents were, didn't want the responsibility of little kids (10, 8, 6 I'm guessing) around water and falls and who knows what? We told them no, you can't go with us, but they were undeterred and just headed to the falls with us anyway - the farthest one being three miles away. I was a nervous mother the whole time worried one of them would go over the edge somewhere, but they actually ended up being kind of fun to have along. Talked all the way. When they ran off at Havasu Falls, the second major falls, in hopes of getting a reward for finding another hiker's hat, we were kind of relieved, but I also kind of missed them!

You may have heard that there was quite a flood there last year in late summer. We had planned this hike last September and had to cancel because of the devastation to the falls, trails and campgrounds. Mercifully, the town was spared, but one of the falls, Navajo, was totally destroyed. Now there is a new one in its place and you can still see how the water carved a path of destruction through the earth and the trees. It will take many years for the new falls to mature and become comfortable in its new skin.

So the first falls we saw was the new one and someone said they were calling it Rock Falls, but I'm not sure that's correct. Havasu Falls, the second falls, was easy to walk down to, had picnic tables dotted around it and this is it here.

We spent some down time there and then headed for Mooney Falls. It was also spectacular, but WAY harder to get to. The way down is not for the faint of heart or for someone who is out of shape. You have to do some basic rock climbing, stepping down backwards through two dark holes in the rock and down the cliff hanging onto big chains, finding footholds and grabbing spikes pounded into the rock. There are also a couple of short ladders to assist you. It was a little unnerving at first, but, boy was it worth it! We peeled off our boots and socks and hit the water as soon as we touched down. It was beautiful. Here are a few pictures of it and the funky climbing wall.

We spent awhile there enjoying ourselves. Our new friends from Utah arrived and two of them came down the rock face to the water. Later we spent some more time back at Havasu Falls and then came back to town before the cafe closed at 5:30 p.m. We heard later than had we hiked a little way farther towards Beaver Falls we would have run right into a herd of bighorn sheep. Darn!

We got up at oh dark hundred the next morning, Sunday, so we could hike in the cool of the day. We were on the trail by about 6:15 a.m. I was surprised at seeing virtually nobody on the trail but us for at least the first hour. I was beginning to wonder if we had missed the right trail. But there was lots of horse poop, so I just believed we must be right. And I don't think there is any other way out anyway. But when you're in a strange place, your mind can play tricks on you. Not only that but the way in and the way out look so different. That's why experts say to always look behind you as you hike so remember markers of the way back out.

You are mostly in a canyon on this hike after you leave the plateau above so you really have to pay attention to the weather. It is definitely not a place I would want to be caught in during a storm when water comes washing down through the canyon. In some places there are absolutely no places to go up.

We got back up in only 4 1/2 hours, said goodbye to our old and new friends and then Teresa and I drove home - about another seven hours. We did stop for lunch in Williams at a famous pie place. We figured that if there was any time we ever deserved to eat a piece of pie and not worry about the calories, it was then and so we did! It was a great trip, the weather was perfect and I look forward to going again one of these days. It was a real privilege.

Had to include this one picture of the cutest puppy with one floppy ear. We all loved him, fed him and wished we could take him home. But he was a little free spirit and we hope he does well.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Birthday Trip to the Apple Orchard

I was inspired by my sister Sarah's blog a week ago or so that featured pictures of her, my sister Barb, my mom and I waaaaay back when we were still living at home. We were at a pumpkin festival somewhere in northern NY state. Going "up north" was a favorite trip in the fall when we picked apples, bought cider and picked up a pumpkin or two for Halloween.

So since my birthday is this weekend and it's that fall time of the year, I decided to invite my kids to join me on a trip out to Wilcox, AZ which is a big farming community. One of their big claims to fame is Apple Annie's, a giant orchard where you can pick all kinds of apples and at other times of the year, peaches and more. They also have down the road, a huge pumpkin patch surrounded by fields of all kinds of other veggies you can pick yourself - squash, peppers, cucumbers, corn - you name it.

My husband wasn't able to go with us yesterday, so it was my daughter, Tamara, my son Jesse and his girlfriend who we love, Rachael who all piled into my Camry and off we went. Well we didn't get too far before Jesse was wondering about eating, so we pulled into a Denny's and ate and yacked it up. It was a little cold yesterday so we all had sweatshirts on - finally after 100+ degree weather all the way through summer and September! We weren't sure fall was ever going to get here this year.

Wilcox is a good two hours from home, so we talked, played with Tamara's ipod and enjoyed the ride. It's been four or five years since I'd been out to Wilcox and only Jesse had been there with me before. Apple Annie's has the whole program - the u-pick orchards, a grill where hundreds of big fat burgers get flipped onto customers' waiting buns all day long, a bakery that turns out pies to die for and all kinds of relishes, apple butters, salsas and more. It's incredible. As soon as you walk onto the property you smell the scent of burgers mixed with pies baking and cider vinegar from old apples on the ground. You also see people walking around with plates filled with pie and huge slabs of vanilla ice cream. This is definitely not a Weight Watchers destination, but one worth treating yourself to when you've been very, very good.

So armed with buckets and a device that helps you reach up into the trees to get the fruit, we headed off into the orchard. There were Fujis, Romes, Granny Smiths and Golden Delicious ready this weekend. Later on in the fall some other types of apples will be coming on.

Of course we picked way more apples that we would ever buy at the store - just because it's so fun to pick 'em. We had a great time. The clouds that threatened rain and hid the sun earlier all cleared away and this bright blue sky opened up on one of the most beautiful days we've had in Arizona in a months.

After we paid for and stowed our apple haul in the car we went back for pie. Jesse and Rachael had the apple berry pie a la mode and Tamara and I split an apple dumpling and stole a little chunk of ice cream from them since we didn't need a whole slab. Oh, it was good.

The pumpkin picking was 6 miles away, so we jammed down there by about 2 p.m. Of course the plan was to get a pumpkin each, but as soon as we saw the other veggies, they were too hard to resist.

Perfect pumpkins were everywhere.

The zucchini squash was pretty much picked out, but Tamara and Rachael rescued two giants as you can see. Not sure how good they'll be to eat, but Tamara says she's going to stuff and mount hers anyway!

Jess, being the only guy, was the designated hauler of the veggies.

Good thing we didn't have more time on our hands! The trunk was packed pretty tight by the time we got done.

We had a really great time and can't wait to go back again. It was definitely reminiscent of the good times I had with my parents many years ago. I wish my husband, Les had been able to join us, but hopefully next time. He spent most of the day crawling around under his daughter Gina's house working on a plumbing problem. Do you think he would have that been eating pie in the Arizona sunshine? You bet!

Anyway, thanks Sarah for the inspiration! Wish you and Barb could have been with us. Sarah, have a great birthday on Wednesday!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Baby Boomers - Turning Sixty Our Way

I was reading an article today about a doctor who treats quite a few patients from the Baby Boomer era - my era - those of us born between 1946 and 1964. He sees many of us for exercise/sports injuries as do many other doctors these days. He calls the syndrome "boomeritis." In fact, he even copyrighted the name. Boomeritis is an affliction of older people who think they can work out like younger people and believe they can hold off aging, according to this doctor, and who injure themselves as a result. The way he describes boomeritis, it sounds like we're just fantasizing and can't own up to the fact that we're middle aged and some of us are even seniors who shouldn't try to keep up! Middle aged? Didn't we remove that term from the dictionary? I'll be 59 in a few days and I don't ever remember becoming middle aged, nor did any of my friends.

Seriously though, many older athletes and weekend warriors (men and women) can injure themselves by overusing muscles and tendons that may not be as supple as they used to be. We do have to pay attention, but that doesn't mean we have to stop and drop into the easy chair.

None of us Baby Boomers really want to be called "seniors" either. My vision of a senior is more like what my grandparents were like when they were in their sixties and I was just a kid: soft, smiling creased faces, a little plump, aprons, stockings rolled around grandma's ankles, the house smelling like cigar smoke, ashtrays all around, calm but almost never doing anything outside other than gardening. I know. This is blatant stereotyping, but it's my personal picture of yesteryear. Of course, there were people over sixty who were very active back then - I just didn't know them and I suspect there weren't that many of them compared to today except in the farming industry.

Our parents' and their parents' generations just didn't know what we know today about exercise, nutrition, mental health. They didn't have the health care technology we do today. They just did what they thought they should - worked hard, supported their families, went to church every Sunday and tried to stay comfortable.

But I'll be 60 in another year which I believe is supposed to move me into seniordome and I'll still be riding my bike, going to the gym at oh dark hundred, dreaming of sculling and trying really hard to keep my bones from turning into spider webs and my arteries from clogging up like my sink. And yes, sometimes I have injuries ....just like my twentysomething peers do. Big deal. I am paying attention, doctor.

I wear cutoffs and sandals in the summer and jeans and western boots in the winter and unless I have to meet some head of state, I will never put stockings on again the rest of my life. I also refuse to wear polyester. Most of my friends have similar philosophies.

So we are a very different generation than our parents or grandparents coming into our sixties. I'm happy to be who I am at this age and delighted to be doing what I'm doing. I'm still working full time which I didn't expect to be thirty years ago, but things change. I make way more than my dad did and I have a pension which my kids will not.

I watched my mother die of breast cancer and my dad die of heart disease in their sixties. They didn't know what steps they could have taken to reduce their risk. I have no excuse.

So I'm out there exercising more and living differently than I did in my twenties. I'm no doubt in better shape with the exception of a little arthritis. I'm not kidding myself that I'm never going to age - I am aging. But it is damn well going to be my way (to the best of my ability)!

They have a centenarian luncheon in my town for everyone over 100. My plan is not only to be alive for it, but to walk in under my own power and know that I just turned 100!! If that's Boomeritis, well, I have the affliction. Anybody want to join me?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Fall Fun is Around the Corner

Well, summer seems to be wrapping up - date-wise anyway. School is back in session here in Arizona. But the temperature just doesn't seem to have gotten the news. We're still bumping up against the 100's and the monsoon season really stank this year. And now it seems to be breathing it's last - out with a whimper, not a bang! Hot and dry. Whew! We had the worst electric bill ever.

But for me and a couple of my friends, September also means we are only a month (give or take) away from our hike into the Grand Canyon. To be more specific, we will be hiking the Havasupai Trail for the first time which is not in the national park but on the reservation. I am SO looking forward to it. The waterfalls and pools at the bottom are spectacular. We were supposed to have gone last year, but they had some very bad flooding that damaged the trails and little community there. So we're back for another go.

Have been doing a lot of long walks with my little furballs. I haven't had a chance to do our local 'hill walk" but I need to get going on that so my legs will get used to the long ups and downs. Can't wait.

A few years ago, one of the women I'm hiking with this time - one of my best friends, Teresa, invited a few of us to hike the regular Grand Canyon (how can it ever be regular?) for her birthday and stay for a couple days down at the bottom at Phantom Ranch. It was one of those lifetime experiences you never forget and produces all kinds of vivid memories. The Canyon just leaves you awestruck, turn after turn after turn. I felt so privileged to be in it - like it's sacred ground. Some of my pictures are here, but seeing them just isn't the same as being IN IT. If you ever have a chance......DO IT! You don't have to go all the way down. If you take the Bright Angel Trail, halfway down at Indian Gardens there is a rest area, water, restrooms and it's a good place to turn around for day hikers.

We camped down below. It was freezing when we left the south rim and we were all bundled up. But by the time we got to the bottom, about 6 hours later, we'd shed the jackets, sweatshirts, knit caps and were liberally applying sunscreen and downing Motrin! Our tents were wide open all night and we really didn't need blankets. Our group cooked up a smorgasbord of freeze-dried meals on our little gas stoves and they were scrumptious. Teresa's husband, Gary, is a gadget guy and he had all the equipment we needed to be comfortable. So we used mules to pack some of our stuff down so we wouldn't have to carry it all. That probably isn't the purest way, but it worked for us!

There is a little store/restaurant at Phantom Ranch and it's perched up on a foundation that requires steps to climb to go in and out. It was so funny to watch hikers come down the steps. Many of them, including us, were so sore the next day, we had to side step coming down! I bought my husband, who didn't go, a Phantom Ranch hat that you can only get there and we all mailed postcards from the store that also doubles as their post office. They have their own Phantom Ranch postmark, sending proof that you indeed made it to the bottom. Fun.

One afternoon, we were sitting around at the campsite and we noticed a couple of wild turkeys down by the creek near our site. They were slowly making their way up to the path we were next to. We were all excited and kept shooshing each other lest we scare them away. But they just walked right into our campsite, bold as you please - checked out the table and the ground around it for food like we weren't even there. Turns out they were the "camp turkeys" and they even had names. Later we saw the camp deer! Very cool.

So we are really looking forward to this new trip - new sites, new experiences, tons of photos which I'll share with you in an upcoming post.

It's always good to have something to look forward to, isn't it? Good for your health.