I can’t believe I haven’t told you all about the Grand Canyon yet…

So I rolled into the Grand Canyon about 7 or 8 pm local time.  Apparently they are on Arizona time and I wasn’t aware and I had lots of trouble when I was there knowing what time it was.

When I got there, I was greeted at the gate by a lady park ranger who took my money.  There was no one in line behind me so we chatted a bit and I told her that I was there alone and she was impressed and told me she lost her husband 4 years ago and wanted to travel too.  I suggested she start small and just do it!!!

Park Ranger who greeted me at the Grand Canyon!

After I paid my $30 park fee, I headed in to register for my campsite.  While in line, there was a lady elk eating grass nearby.  Super cool.  Actual conversation while park check in guy:

Him (older fellow): Just one car?

Me: Yes

Him: Just one tent?

Me: Yes

Him: Just you?

Me: Yes

Him: Well, enjoy your visit.

He handed me a map and I was on my way.  I found my site and had to go the bathroom, so I headed to the bathroom which was one campsite away and was pleasantly surprised that it had flushed toilets, running water and toilet paper without wood chips in it! Score!!!

It was starting to get dark, so I set up my tent, semi – successfully pounding in some stakes with a rock, blew up my air mattress, put on my strawberry sheets , cracked some glow sticks for ambiance and settled in for the night. After eating  sandwich, I was ready for sleep.  I listened to some Enya since the WWW was non-existent and fell asleep quickly but not without making sure my keys were handy in case I was scared and wanted to hit the panic alarm.  I slept like a 15 year old that night.  I don’t think I moved at all and slept for a long time into the morning.  By the time I work up, many of the people had already headed out for the day.

I was kind of slow to get moving and was just sitting in my comfy chair enjoying the day, thinking about my plans and checking my eyelids for holes.  I opened my eyes and realized I had a visitor.  A beautiful lady elk.

After that excitement, I gathered up my park map and headed over to take a shower at what I thought was 1 pm.  I got there and they went to close the shower for the noon cleaning.  That is when I realized I was on Arizona time.  I waited and then spent $2 in quarters for 8 minutes of a fairly decent shower.  I was ready to see the Canyon.

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.  As if you had to ask, but no, there was no hiking.

My second night camping was just as successful and I slept well in my little tent.  The worst part was having to get up off the ground quickly with the sore ankle when I woke up to go to the bathroom.  I wasn’t really scared ever and felt quite safe.  The camp sites were close to each other and all of them were occupied so I think that added to the security of it.

When I woke up the second morning and came out of my tent I was promptly greeted by the site of one of the Asian fellows camping across the “road” scratching his bare ass.  Forever.   I could have done without that experience.  Eventually   I got moving  and made myself a decadent breakfast of 2 cups of Starbucks Caramel Latter and apple cinnamon oatmeal thanks to a borrowed backpacking stove, and after another $2 8 minute shower, I headed back to the populated world.

I eventually  made it to Flagstaff, Arizona and decided I needed a moment to spend with the WWW and catch up on work emails and the like, so I treated myself to sit down lunch at the Olive Garden.  They had fantastic WI-FI and I didn’t have to share my bread sticks with anyone!  After about an hour, I felt back in touch with the World, finished my spaghetti and headed back out on the road for the trip to my final destination, Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Overall, I think the Grand Canyon experience was amazing and am so glad I did it.  The only moment that paused me was when I had lunch alone at the Desert View snack bar and was surrounded by families.  But then I realized, I only had to pay for one hot dog and the cheapskate in me was quite pleased – so I splurged on the souvenir soda cup.  LOL

The road to the Grand Canyon

They say it’s the journey, not the destination.  Here are some of the things I captured on the way to the Grand Canyon.

 

Eat, Pray, Love

When you tell people you are going on a big trip to heal your heart, there are comments mentioning the book Eat, Pray, Love.  I’m not going to deny it, the idea of an amazing trip did come a little from the movie/book.

I didn’t specifically set out to do those three things because that is pretty cliche.  But I would be lying if I said, I didn’t go through all three of those actions.  As I’m rounding into the last week of my trip, I can’t help but think about all the amazing experiences I have had.

Now, I did eat on this trip.  I tried new things and found some new favorites.  I went to White Castle for the first time, had the famous Skyline Chili, Shrimp Ceviche, an Indian Taco and some other things I am sure I’m forgetting.  I also am less serious in my relationship with Diet Coke.  I’m not saying we’re breaking up, but we’re definitely seeing other people.

While I haven’t been to church, I have definitely been praying and am sure I have been the beneficiary of other’s prayers.  Every time I have asked for help, I have received it in one way or another and I definitely feel like someone is looking out for me.

Lastly, Love.  I know that when people think about the book/movie and they talk about love, they are looking for a great love affair.  I can tell you, not just because my mom might actually read this, but truthfully there have been no flings on this trip.  However, I have never felt more loved in my entire life.  My friends opened their homes to me and took care of me most graciously. I felt my friends cheering me on through their calls, texts, Facebook posts and all the likes on the blog posts.  My family has encouraged me every step of the way, my dad even made sure I had a pocket knife for camping.

This afternoon at the hotel, I sat at the pool, in the shade, and dozed off.  By myself.  And I was content.  I’m not going to say my heart is completely healed but there is so much truth in the statement that Life is about the journey and not the destination.

 

Photo Gallery – Leaving Florida

Pictures from my trip out of Florida.

Photo Gallery – Florida Part II

I know that I promised pictures and I have been taken many.  Now that I’m not driving for a few days, I’ve had some time to start sorting them and organizing them.  Here are some from last weekend in Florida when I went to visit my Dad’s cousin and her husband.

And the best picture of all, Christie and I in the gulf with a school of sting rays!

So yeah, I camped at the Grand Canyon

After getting to Amarillo late on the night of the 3rd, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the Grand Canyon the next day because it was still like 10 hours away and I was TIRED.  But I got up and got going.  By about 4 in the afternoon though, I was having second thoughts about making it all the way and actually stopped in Gallup, NM for a little it and looked at hotels but that would have put me still like 4 hours away and I was really looking forward to having a day with no driving the next day, so I pushed on.

The drive through New Mexico and Arizona was amazing.  The landscapes are breath taking.  It was hot and since I was heading west and directly into the sun, it was hard for the air conditioning in the car to keep up.  I was warm all the live long day.  Once I got over the “hills’ in Albuquerque, the drive was pretty flat and I was able to maintain an average speed of about 82 miles an hour.  It is also important to plan ahead regarding gas and bathrooms as you can easily go thirty miles between exits without services.

By far though, the hardest part about the three day drive was the crossing of all the time zones.  Some devices automatically updated and some didn’t and so everything had a different time on it.  Every time someone called or I talked to someone, I was like, “what time is it?”  I think I finally have it under control.

So I made it to the Grand Canyon about 7 pm local time I think.  I entered the park and chatted it up with the nicest lady park ranger.  Then I found the campground check in area  where I wasn’t the only one getting there that late.  While I was standing in line, there was a sweet lady Elk grazing pretty nearby.  It was a pretty cool way to kick things off.

By the time I found my campsite and made a trip to the closely located flush toilets, it was starting to get a little dark out so I hurried up and made “camp”.  i set up my pretty little tent and actually put 4 stakes in the ground.  I forgot to bring a pounder so I used a rock and now have 2 bent tent stakes.  I mean what do you expect though for a $20 tent?  I blew up my air mattress, put my pretty white sheet with the strawberries on it, cracked some glow sticks and scattered them for atmosphere on the floor and I was ready for bed.  I was nervous about feeling claustrophobic but it was actually quite cozy and I feel asleep quickly thanks to Enya.  I was a little bit scared of people/creatures unknown so I slept with my keys nearby so I could use the panic button if I needed to.  Once quiet hours kicked in, it was surprising quiet except for the ravens.  Those things NEVER shut up.  I woke up the next morning ready to explore, kind of.  It took me a while to get going. I looked over the map and planned my day and just kind of sat in my cozy chair and relaxed for a few minutes and may have closed my eyes for a few moments and when I opened them, there was a lady Elk walking past me.  Pretty cool.

I finally got moving and decided to go shower.  I paid $2 for 8 minutes and I have to say, it was a better shower than some others I had visited.  There was plenty of water pressure and the water was warm.  After I took care of business, then headed out towards Desert Point, stopping along the way at various look outs to see the Grand Canyon from various angles.  It was pretty cool.  I was surprised however, how many foreign people I encountered.  There were a lot from Asia and Germany (I think). It took about an hour to make it to the desert look out with all the stops.   I treated myself to a special lunch at the snack bar of a hot dog and lemonade, bought a magnet and coffee mug and headed back to my camp site.

Not to leave you hanging, but there are plenty of pictures coming as well as some sing along videos.  I am still sorting through them all, so be patient.  I’m hoping to have them all up this weekend.

 

 

Don’t ever try to drive 1600 miles in two alone.

I think I may have been a bit ambitious when I planned on driving from southern Florida to the Grand Canyon in just 2.5 days.  In the last two days, I have driven over 1600 miles and I am exhausted AND I’m only in Amarillo.  I still have further to go tomorrow to finish the trip out.  I’m not going to lie, I haven’t looked how far it is yet because I am really hoping for a short day, LOL.  Also, I actually have a store hand from the way I hold the steering wheel.  What the hell?

So the driving has certainly been eventful.  I probably could travel a little faster if I wasn’t such a stopper.  On Sunday, on my way out of Florida, I stopped at the neatest little town on the Gulf Coast called Tarpon Springs.  The whole town is Greek.  It is so cute and neat.  There are all kinds of Greek Restaurants and bakeries as well as shops and boat tours that leave from there.  Their big claim to fame are the sponge docks.  It’s where all kinds of sponges/loofahs from the sea are brought in.  They have all kinds of stores there that sell them and many other cool things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This morning, when I got into Louisiana, I stopped at a Love’s truck stop that had a casino attached.   I lost $10 at video poker and scored some top notch beef jerky.  I mean seriously, Love’s has the best beef jerky.

So do you remember that show fear factor?  That is kind of what the last two days has been like.  I gave had to deal with huge bridges – (Mobile, Alabama anyone) and then a tunnel – I also crossed the Tampa Bay Bridge which actually was kind of cool- so was the one in Mobile but it took a good talking to myself to be ok.

The whole big Tampa Bay Bridge
Fisherman in Tampa Bay

 

 

 

 

Proof of crossing Tampa Bay

I also encountered a very scary like 3 inch long Grasshopper when stopping at a rest area.

At last, but not least, I had a frightening encounter with some thunder storms in Texas.  I thought I was between two storm cells when all of a sudden the wind picked up and it looked like dust was swirling in front of me.  I thought for sure I was going to get sucked in a tornado.  It wasn’t one.  There were no flying cows.

I have so much more to share but I’m pooped and I need to rest up for Grand Canyon – Day 1!!

 

 

I don’t want to jinx things – but things are definitely looking up

So after taking Thursday to lick my wounds and get myself back on track, I spent one last night in Florida with Barry where we enjoyed yummy chicken and the second night of the two night big brother premiere.  I’m putting money on Christmas to take it all!!!

Friday morning tried waking up at the crack of dawn again, this time with better results.  After a shower and packing up all my stuff, I was on the road to my next stop by 7:45 am ish.  I wrapped the ankle up tight and I was off to Leigh Acres to meet my dad’s cousin.  We have talked for years but this was the first time we were meeting in person.

After 5 stops in about as many hours, including a stop at the post office and a candy/jelly factory, I finally arrived and as Lori had predicted, it was like we had already known each other.  I was greeted so warmly by her and her husband and after a quick sandwich, we headed out to Sanibel Island in the Gulf of Mexico.  Little did she know, I was hoping we would go there after reading about it on the internet!!!!  So we crossed a bridge and then after driving through the cutest town, we were at the beach!!!  There were seashells everywhere, which I now have many of and after a heavy application of sunscreen, we ventured into the water!!!!  Although I am a grown up, I was nervous and so Christie held my hand as we ventured out in to the gulf.  We were bobbing up and down and then I got a mouth full of water.  For some reason, I was surprised when it was quite salty.  LOL.  It also stung my eyes and when I went under and got a nose-ful, I was sure I wouldn’t need my neti pot for a few days.

After a couple rough days, things were finally looking up and it was like all the animals were on my side.  We saw 4 schools of sting rays swimming, one went right past us while we were in the water.  It was amazing.  I also saw a flying fish and pelicans hunting.  It was simply amazing and more magical than I ever expected.  I am also pleased to report that by once again wearing sunscreen, I avoided looking like a lobster!!

Following our fun time in the ocean and picking up seashells, we packed up and headed to a quite little store where I probably bought enough stuff to keep them in business for another day.  You don’t need to know it all, but just know that I got my very own starfish.

We headed for home after that but first stopped at this market that sold fresh juice, fruit and ice cream.  After sampling grapefruit juice, lemonade, and strawberry orange juice, we got vanilla/orange swirl ice cream cones. MMM!!!  It was like a dreamsicle in an ice cream cone.

For dinner today, I had shrimp cerviche which was simply one of the most delicious things I had ever had in my whole life.  I was a little nervous because normally when you make cerviche, the acids in the sauce cook the meat instead of heat but the shrimp were firm and pink and mmmm.  Later I found out they had been cooked the regular way before they were mixed in which made me feel even better about it.

Did I mention I also saw trees with coconuts growing on them and on the ground around them as well as bear and panther crossing signs?  I also saw a pineapple growing.  This part of Florida is like vacationing in a whole different tropical country- but without a passport.

I’m hobbling around pretty good. My ankle is a little sore and tired and the bruising is coming out now, so hopefully, we’re on the mend and I will be Grand Canyon ready by Tuesday!

Hump day- not the best day

So after such a stellar Sunday Fun day kick off to Florida – I had high hopes for this week.  That was not my best idea.

Monday was great,  I worked a lot and made a sweet taco dinner for Barry when he got home from work.  We enjoyed the taco deliciousness during his very first watching of Dirty Dancing ever.  He may not admit it, but he had the time of his life.

I had big plans for Tuesday to get up early ( like 4:30 am) to drive to Cocoa Beach and watch the sunrise, pick up some seashells and be home by 10 am Colorado Time.  Instead, I was so excited Monday night, I couldn’t sleep so then I couldn’t get up and frankly, didn’t want to drive an hour in the dark to a strange place tired.  So I went back to sleep with plans of going Wednesday morning.  So I laid low Tuesday, worked some and may have gotten into a new show ( well new to me, ) on Netflix.  Thanks A LOT Crystal and Charlie.  I lost a lot of hours to parks and recreation.  We were going to go swimming but apparently it rains every single afternoon in Florida.  Instead we had delicious sandwiches from Firehouse Subs, which I had never had before, but will have again.  Then we went to the cutest little ice cream place where I had an amazing real ice cream ice cream cone.

So up the Tuesday night, things are moving along a slow, normal, almost regular life pace with not too much excitement.  Tuesday I go to bed early with plans, again of getting up to go to Cocoa Beach.  I charged my camera batteries, I printed the addresses for the places I wanted to go, I had change for meters where I wanted to park, I had an outfit laid out.  I was setting myself up to succeed.

I fall asleep.  4:19 rolls around Wednesday morning and I actually got up after giving myself a pep talk – something along the lines of you can sleep at home – you drove all this way – get out of bed and see the ocean.  I get dressed, I sent Barry a snarky message because I was actually going to make it out the door before he even got up for work, gathered my belonging and headed out.

I open the door to outside and it’s dark out – no big deal – it wasn’t dark-dark. I grab my phone and turn on the flashlight and I’m walking down the little sidewalk along the house to the carport and the motion light in the carport comes on and inside my head, I’m like great, now I can see where I am going.  What I failed to see what a two inch step at the end of the sidewalk.  I obviously tripped, rolled my right ankle completely under in the most painful of fashions, landd on my left knee, tried to brace myself again the car to not fall and instead keyed it in a spectacular fashion.  After laying there for a moment, I finally moved to a sitting position to determine my next move because I was pretty sure I sprained my ankle, bad.  According to the video – of course there is video – do you know me at all- I sat there for a few minutes before I got up.

Relive it here: https://youtu.be/j-WfoU9V7ww

I eventually limped my way back into the house and back to bed where I sent Barry a new text message to come see me when he wakes up.  Needless to say, I have yet to make it to the ocean.  To summarize – I have one sprained ankle, at least 2 impressive bruises, a scraped finger, a sore neck and a severely bruised ego.

Another sexy toe picture

I know at some point, I will find the humor in this, but right now, I’m not quite there yet.  And as we all have parts of ourselves that we wish we were better at, I can fully admit I wish I was a better patient.  I have been admitted quite needy, whiny and weepy today and for the first time, I kind of just wanted to pack it up and go home.  But then we went to Walgreens, I wrapped my ankle and took some pills and Barry fed me cheese and crackers.  I am confident I’ll feel better in a few days and worst case scenario, I brought two rolls of duct tape, so I can just duct tape the crap out of my ankle and keep going.

I think I’m going to try to see Cocoa Beach on another trip.

Sunday Fun day – Florida Style

I don’t know if you know this, but Florida is June is hot.  Like yesterday it was almost 100 degrees and there is some humidity.  It’s not weather for a delicate flower such a myself.

Since I had driven so much over the two days prior, Barry let me sleep late on Sunday and then we got up and after a trip through the Starbucks drive through, we entered the gate for his sister’s neighborhood with a secret code sending device in Barry’s car and we went swimming in her pool while she was flying to Mexico.  Did I mention her pool was in a screened in enclosure surrounded by fruit trees?

So in case you aren’t quite getting the mental picture – me, pool, diet coke, water and coffee on a sunny day.  OH yeah!  At one point, I may have been supplied an adult beverage.  Also, I managed to wear sunscreen so guess who is not full lobster?  This girl finally learned.  Also, after we swam, Barry took me for tacos and more diet coke.  Then we coupon shopped at Kohl’s where I scored a super cute purse before we grocery shopped and went home to take naps to get ready for bedtime.

 

 

 

 

 

Often on Facebook and Instagram you see these pictures of women on vacation with their perfectly polished toes at the beach or the pool and so I said to Barry, take a picture of my toes sticking out of the water.  He did and I was disappointed because you could also see my sweet cankles and it wasn’t the sexy toe pick I wanted at all.  And then it dawned on me – who gives a fuck? We all know I’m not a super model and a size 10 and let’s be honest, never will be.  I have wasted so much time in my life thinking I was less because I weighed more.  Why does that matter so much?  I mean, sure, I might not want to walk a mile to eat nachos with you, but really, I have yet to find a nacho so good anyone would think it was worth walking a mile to eat it, thin or fluffy.  And no offense to my thin friends, but I always find it comforting to hug someone with a little fluff.  So to summarize, I am a top notch hugger who will not walk a mile for nachos, sweats a lot in summer and has cute toes – it’s just the cankles that do me in.

Seriously, I think it’s time to start letting go of all the things that have held me back.  I’m working the Weight Watchers program, not because I want to be someone else, but because there is a runner inside me that wants out.  Also, I would like to be able to swim more aerodynamically.  And most importantly because at 42 years old, I have finally learned that there is no magic morsel that you can eat that will make it all better – take away the sadness, emptiness, loneliness, boredom or make the celebration that much better.

Here is the thing – and I think it is something that we need to learn and remember each day because it’s easy to forget – I am enough – I am amazing – I am kind and funny.  I don’t have to be anyone but me.  And if that’s not ok with you and you don’t want to be under the Jennifoster umbrella of luck anymore, then, in the words of my dad, go pound sand.