Sunday, August 27, 2017

Wander on Wanderlust

It's time for summer vacation adventure stories! 

After leaving the beautiful Grand Canyon NP we rolled The Wanderlust up and over the mountains to Zion National Park. We stayed at the Zion Ponderosa Ranch. The RV sites were a tad tight, but the ranch amenities were fabulous. We actually didn't take advantage of many of them...mainly just the pool, hot tub, complimentary pool towels and the laundry room (which needed about five more machines to match the size of the ranch vs guest ratio). 
Now that's a campground pool! 

We spent most of our time inside the national park that was just down the road from the ranch. As soon as you pass the entrance kiosk Zion grabs the heart! The rock formations are magestic cathedrals, stealing all the oooo's and aaaahhh's that project from mouth. The mountain's peaks are the land's earthly steeples. Sometimes we even had to remind ourselves to breathe because the beauty surround had us holding breath. 

One hike inpaticular really gave me cause to hold my breath: Angel's Landing. I knew heights were involved so I didn't allow myself much advance in depth research. I was going to just go in with my FDR quote that I keep tucked in my heart and mind, as I always do in the spirit of conquering my fear of heights--"the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." The Walter's Wiggles portion was strenuous elevation gaining switch backs--like most mountain trails. We all stopped from time to time to gaze out at the views AND catch our breath. Next was Scout's Landing. A nice large flat mountain top ridge to really take in the view and hydrate. Then onto Angels Landing. 

The girls went first with the gumption of youthful spirit. King Ralph position himself behind me as we took to the chains. The chains. Eek. There we were grabbing tightly to chains hammered into the side of the mountain. I made it two chain sections in--about 20 ft, when my senses told me, NO! And I turned around. It wasn't going to matter how many times I chanted the FDR quote to myself, it wasn't going to happen! M and D made it all the way! D said it was M who kept her going because turning around was constantly flashing in her mind. She said she wasn't leaving her sister alone up there. 

It was when we returned home to STL that I finally watched YouTube videos posted of the trail. Yep. Turning around was smart for me! I can't even watch the videos a second time. They creep the ^*+= out of me!!! To think my girls made the summit. 

We also hiked The Narrows. The beauty of the slot canyons and hiking in the river is breathtaking! 

But nothing, nothing, compared to the strength of courage given to Angels Landing. Even when you don't make the summit. 

Before leaving Zion M treated us to a day of ATVing in the dessert of Utah's Sand Hollow State Park. 

It was such an awesome experience it made it easy to forget the temperature reached 107*.  After, we sipped local craft beers on a patio with a beautiful view of Zion's mountain scape 

Then it was time to wander again....

Monday, July 24, 2017

Vacation Stories

The Wanderlust has been unpacked, scrubbed clean and is back to the storage lot. As soon as I finish the laundry, and sweep up the desert sand that tracked us home, I'll tell you stories of great adventures. 

The Wanderlust Goes West to the Canyons

We set out on the road three days later than planned. We were able to land a site in Amarillo at the campground we canceled on and missed one national park stop (Petrified Forest NP). We squeezed in a few roadside America stops. First we revisited The Groom Cross (D was not with us on our first visit)
 and by "standing on the corner of Winslow, AZ." Completed only by a loud speaker blasting The Eagles tunes, of which we gals sang along to. 

We managed to get back on schedule and celebrated the Fourth of July at the Grand Canyon. No there weren't  fireworks, but there burgers on the grill and potato salad...and old fashion sister silliness. 

The next morning we woke early to beat the summer heat and afternoon monsoon rain to hike the South Rim Trail. 

(Hopipoint Overlook) 

We agreed that hiking into the canyon was priority. So we woke the at 3:30am to hit the Bright Angel Trail into the canyon. We knew we could only hike three miles in due to increasing summer heat and afternoon storms. We needed to be out of the canyon by 10am, per the park ranger. As we descended into the canyon we all began to realize how insignificant we are in this world. 
M and D were a few steps ahead when they were greeted by a long horn sheep. King Ralph and I quickly reminded M of the trick we learned in Glacier--clap your hands and the big horn will move along. So we all clapped and he scurried down the cliff's edge. 
Seeing animals in their natural habitat is one of the coolest things to experience while hiking! 

Just as instructed we were out of the canyon by 10am...with five minutes to spare. 

Hiking always offers some good footwear watching. People confuse hiking with park strolls. Bright Angel is a steep switch back trail. Good hiking shoes are a necessity! I'm not even sure I'd wear tennis shoes. But I'd take those over the German visitor in leather dress Oxfords. And the oxfords over the German woman in her one dollar Old Navy flip flops. The oxfords needed a good polish at the end of the hike. I'm glad I didn't have to see the flip flop gal ascend from the canyon...not to mention she started her poor footwear trek at the time they warned to be out of the canyon. 

On our final day at the Grand Canyon we woke early (again) to hike a small portion of the South Kaibab Trail. This is the trail M coined our canyon hiking motto: down like a beer, up like a hangover. Kaibab is STEEP!

We watched the sunrise that morning over the South Kaibab. 
The view at oohaah point was spectacular! 

We finished the day with a drive over to see the Desert View Watchtower. Climbing to the top creeped me out! I called it quits one floor from the top. The family trudged on up and I happily descended back to ground. Oh my God was it HOT at Desertview! Beautiful area, but super hot!! 

Then it was off to the visitors center to claim a prize. The first of the trip's Jr. Ranger badges. It's a quest that started at ages six and four, and continues at 24 and 22 years old. 

Then it was time to pack up The Wanderlust...moving along to find new territory to explore. 

PS It was a stiff bodied ride for me. The Kaibab kicked my arse! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Top Ten List

Reasons our three week RV trip needs to end 
1. We've run out of laundry detergent 
2. We've run out of quarters for the laundry 
3. We've run out of toilet paper (I nabbed a partial roll from a national park bathroom in case we couldn't find a store mid travel...I'm going to Hell!)
4. The Wanderlust's traveling bar is dry 
5. Mine and King Ralph's hiking shoes have expired as of today 
6. My hair has a grey stripe down the center. (I need hair dye! BAD!!)
7. I can't drink another ounce of Gatorade...even to curb desert heat dehydration
8. Waking daily between 4-5am to hike and beat the desert heat has grown old
9. Folding up the kids bed to make it back into a couch 
10. Review reasons 1 through 4 

Now ask if I am really ready to go home? 

Sunday, July 02, 2017


It's funny how life happens. You can plan and plan, but sometimes the unexpected happens. Last Friday morning we were suppose to be starting our vacation in The Wanderlust...things changed. King Ralph's step-father passed away on Thursday morning. When we returned from King Ralph's mother's house that's when King Ralph titled this year's Wanderlust trip the "Wanderbust."

It's so heart breaking watching my mother-in-law's grief. She herself is not in the best of health. Seven years ago two brain surgeries have left her...well with her thoughts jumbled from time to time. She's going to need her family now more than ever. 

Yesterday D and I called her to go over the funeral music. I explained how she needed to eat, that her body needs fuel to keep going. The tears kicked in and she said "you know what I need?" I knew.  I told her I knew she wanted her husband of 39 plus years, but he was gone and he'd want her to take care of herself. She says things like "he was my honey" or "he was my pal" or "we were suppose to go together." Her husband was a kind of crotchety old sole, but their love for each was deep. What more can one ask for in life than to be truly loved? 

Today will be a long day. Some tears likely will be shed. And maybe, perhaps, Wanderlust 2017 will happen after all. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Well, we did it again! My friend and I got to grant another Make-A-Wish wish. It is such a feel good moment in life when you get to do something for someone else. Especially a well deserving child. Like the sweet adorable teen with an infectious positive personality that we selected and is a joy to be paired with! 

This is Katie and I on the evening we met 13 year old E. E suffered a form of cancer known as rhabdomyosarcoma. Happy to say she rang the bell--symbolic that treatment is over and cancer is in remission. Making her year-long courageous battle and fight to win over cancer worth a wish! 
When we met E she was excited and conflicted about what she wanted her wish to be. Did she want to be a makeup artist, meet a YouTube sensation, go to Hawaii? After Katie and I played a little game to help her select her one true wish she narrowed it down to Hawaii. But not before E schooled us in all things YouTube. You know who the "it" people are on YouTube and why they're so popular. That evening we had E write her wish on a tag and sail it into a wishful sky on a silver star balloon. I know balloon releases piss of the eco friendly people of the world...too bad this kid fought and beat some bad ass cancer!  

Fast forward. Last week we got word that E's wish was granted, and that we could reveal the wish-come-true to her.  Katie and I knew all along how we were going to reveal--a parody of one of E's own YouTube postings titled, "Lies We All Tell." You know the little white lies we tell only one more chip, be productive, do homework right after school.... With the help of M and her video editing program we made a spoof of E's whole video and at the end revealed a "it's no lie" she really is going to Hawaii!!! 

Then last night we enlisted the help of D to play special messenger and deliver a strawberry daiquiri in a pineapple cup, a card with a link to our parody video and a bag filled with a grass skirt, a Hawaiian Lei, a pair of sunglasses and a sign that read "Aloha". We instructed E to make a Boomerang video for us wearing the getup. Here's D right before she made the delivery 
D got back in the car and reported that it was such a feel good moment. That E said "this is the Make-A-Wish people", with a huge smile plastered across her face. Perhaps the leis D wore and the pineapple drink cup might have tipped her off. LOL D got to feel what Katie and I feel every time we play wish granters-pure unadulterated joy! 

Here is our parody reveal

Till our next wish...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Good Times and See Ya Laters

Last Friday I racked up more than 20,000 steps cleaning my house, mowing grass, and doing the stuff that my damn job gets in the way of me doing. Gosh I LOVE my summer hall pass!! I'm back in my routine of morning chores, binge watching Grace and Frankie (two episodes per day) on Netflix, reading and sunning (at the same time) for 30 minutes--twice a day. Then I exercise...whenever I feel like squeezing it in. And squeeze it in I do! 

This past weekend King Ralph, D and I did what we do every year on my first weekend I've been set free (yes set free, because some school year's actually feel like a jail this year, lol)--we attended Shakespeare in the Park. There is nothing we love more than a beautiful evening in the glen, near art hill in Forest Park, getting our Shakespeare on. This year: The Winter's Tale. I loved the first half...D thinks I'm nuts for liking the tragedy portion more, but I did! We spread out our blankets, noshed on Italian sandwiches, potato salad, chips and homemade chocolate chip cookies, while sipping spiked seltzer drinks. 
Once the sun set the stage lit up in a gorgeous soft hue of color. 

Saturday took us to The Wanderlust to tend to some necessary tasks. We are weeks away from wandering about this great country. Then if was off to our nephew's going away party. 

Since the Air Force base is minutes down the road from his house Princess A, D, King Ralph and I decided to stop at the base first for the air show. We waited in line for 40 minutes to see the nephew's "office." This is the beast he flys 
It's impressive! So many buttons and gadgets it makes the average person's (us) head spin. Now we have a good picture in our heads of what he is doing when he's flying. 

Next the party! 

My nephew is off on a year long deployment to Qatar. That calls for a party. This is not his first trip to the "sandbox." It is however; the first time in his military career that he has been stationed close to home where we can actually be together to say see-you-later.  As protocol has it we took a cousin picture...this time minus the customary name signs of the (two) missing cousins...we instead threw in the spouses for good measure. 
These cousins love each other. One will sorely be missed. 

It was good weekend! 

This morning I woke up at 6am and sent my nephew a text. I told him safe travels. Next I told him we are proud of him, his service and dedication to preserving our freedoms. Then I reminded him what I told him on Saturday--use sunscreen and Goldbond powder. That no one wants a sunburnt, chaffed squadron commander. He text me back that those goods were indeed packed and gave me the Qatar weather report: 114*. Folks that's not dry heat either, it's humid as hell in Qatar.  I felt a little tear in my eye. When we finally had him close by for the last two years it's easy to get use to having him at family functions all the time. It's not going to be easy to get unuse to him not being around again. It just isn't! 

Friday, June 09, 2017


This happened yesterday at 3:25pm 
While the kids and teachers started summer on May 26, I didn't get my summer hall pass till yesterday. You should know there was smoke coming off my heels and a giant ole' smile smeared across my face as I left the building. It was the second or maybe third hardest school year for me. I was more than happy to bid it farewell! 

Best part of summer is doing chores on my time...not dictated by the hours off work. This morning I woke and cleaned the family room, unloaded the dishwasher, mowed grass, showered, walked to Starbucks, started laundry...all by 10am.

While the towels churn in the washer this how I'm taking my morning break

Summer hall pass how I've missed you!