Day 5: Jerome, Tuzigoot, & Dead Horse Ranch

Today I would consider a lazy day. We left the house around 11am and headed to the city of Jerome, which is considered a ghost town. The city reminded Derek of the Florida Keys just with more elevation. Most of our time was spent going in and out of the local shops and having some lunch at a local eatery called the Iron Flat CafĂ©. Gatlin and Derek had a ginger and carrot soup (sounded and tasted interesting.) Then a lovely downpour started, sort of dampening our day. Almost every single shop was either an art gallery or gifts that were made by local artists. We found a lot of amazing art work. There was a very artsy/hippy feel to the place, loved that. They seemed to have a sort of an aversion to children. Each shop had some kind of smart-ass sign or poster in the front that would say something to the line of “All young children must be supervised by an adult, if not we will kidnap them and force them to work in our coal mine for the remaining years of their lives.” Not even a joke. About 90 percent of that is a direct quote. Vanessa found it amusing. The area seemed very pet-friendly.

Afterward, we went to visit some more Indian ruins named Tuzigoot (which was also part of the tribe, Sinagua, which also built Montezuma’s Castle…one of the ruins we saw on our first day.) It’s kind of funny that we have no idea why this tribe of Native Americans just up and left, it was somewhere around the 1420’s, seems pretty obvious the white man scared them off. There is just so much that we don’t know about the people who lived on this land way before we ever did. The ingenuity of these people is inspiring. Not only did they make amazing things we probably couldn’t do without machines but they used herbal remedies for everything. From candy to curing cancer, these Indians had a remedy from a naturally –growing-abundant plant. It really makes you stop and kind of question everything you thought you knew; something that we would have to get approved by our health insurance and then order through some far off pharmaceutical company they had just growing in their backyard. Gatlin was pretty enthralled by the medicinal value of the native plants and we stood their studying the names and uses of the plants for a while, at one point I think he actually embodied one of his World of Warcraft characters and started grinding some Sage into a potpourri. Actually it looked really fun.

The best part of this visit was that it was ruined by flying ants. Yep, you got that right. We couldn’t go to the top of the building because there was a sign that said “Closed Due to flying ants.” I don’t know about you but that is pretty hilarious. I don’t know what I should have expected if I went past the sign. Flying ant attack? Either way I didn’t take the risk. Those winged little insects are intimidating. Don’t let their size fool you.
Lunch was made at Dead Horse Ranch, a small park with some surrounding lagoons and a river that was not much to look at. We took a river hike and searched for the river for about 20 minutes and came up empty. We then realized that the river had dried up big time and was now un-swimmable and right under our feet. But there were lots of snails everywhere. Cute little squirmy things. I'm afraid we stepped on a lot of them and didn't even realize it =/

Big bummer about no swimming ops though.

That night we hoped to go back to Bell Rock which we had hiked to the night before but we got back too late. Double bummer. The highlight of this day was definitely seeing all of the amazing artwork from the locals in Jerome.

Good stuff.


Derek & Vanessa

The Grand Canyon: Day 4

After falling asleep at the ripe time of 9:00pm the night before, we awoke to our second day at the Grand Canyon. Gatlin, Jared and Maria took a helicopter tour over the canyons in the morning but we stayed behind because we didn’t feel like spending $300 dollars for the flight, but more importantly because we wanted to sleep in. They loved it. We would have preferred the Jeep tour down into the canyon but the price for one person was an outrageous $265.

Today we visited a few historic buildings that played the usual role of Historical-Recreation/Anecdotal Museum/Gift Shop/Air-Conditioning Relaxation/Tourist trap. And I loved every minute of it. Every store had something a little different that I wanted to absorb. If I could have I would have bought every book in their book store sections. (Notice the tiny entrance to one of the buildings on the left)

A little knowledge gained from one of these expensive, yet irresistible books was the history behind the canyon’s discovery and expeditions…which is fascinating. I found out that sometime in the 1500’s the Spanish discovered the area but found it worthless, probably because they didn’t see any signs of jewels or gold or fountain of youth or opportunities of religious persecution. So it wasn’t until about three centuries later that Americans started exploring the canyons namely, John Wesley Powell in 1869 (a very inspiring individual I might add.) He decided to take, what was then the first independent exploration in the history of the US, a scientific voyage into the canyons to study its geology and geography. He discovered uncharted areas and was also the first to start studying Native Americans, whom had lived on the canyons for hundreds of years. And he did it all with one arm. Now that is skill.

After the gift shop we started a 15 mile hike but because of a little sciatica and the flustered faces of returning hikers, we set an alarm on Derek’s Iphone for 30 minutes and then headed back up. We shared the trail with some mules that left stinky evidence of their existence on the trail. We talked to a few people that went all the way to the bottom (which ends at the Colorado River). One guy said it took him about 4 hours to get there but that getting to jump into the river at the end was totally worth the hike. The trek back up was pretty rough, as most inclined trails are. You start to realize how out of shape you really are. It was exhausting but I can’t wait to come back one day and make it all the way to the river. I’m sure it’ll be worth it.

We bought a couple of books at the stores and Gatlin got a hat that he fell in love with. It’s amazing how, no matter how many times you look out at the massive Grand Canyon, it always takes your breath away. Something so grand (pun intended) and natural just can’t be expressed in words or even photos. Even though it seems obvious, I loved how much the park was into natural preservation and earth friendliness. I sort of felt at home here. It’s something I miss in Orlando.

Yesterday was pretty much packed every hour, it felt like as soon as we finished one thing we started the next. We visited a lot of scenic areas and went to a place called Watchtower. There was an opening in the protective fencing where you were allowed (or at least we assumed) to walk out over a strip of rocks to a point much lower than the tower. I had some serious trepidation about going down to this area because: 1. tailbone pain and 2. fear of dying. But I did it anyway, Derek reminded me “you only live once,” a fellow traveler also reminded me that “you only die once” as well. That was pretty hilarious.

That night we ate at a place brilliantly named We Cook Pizza and Pasta. I’d say it was a little overrated and a lot expensive. After eating, last minute, we decided to pack back up and head out to see the sunset over the Grand Canyon. (I had changed into my pajamas already, and decided “ehhh” it’s just a sunset, should be fast.)

What a mistake.

It was friggin freezing on the cliff. I could stand it for about a minute. I had to run back to the van in fear for my life. The uncontrollable shaking didn’t help the tailbone pain either. I learned my lesson.

Overall though, our stay at the Grand Canyon was pretty epic and I can’t wait to go back.

Love and Peace

Derek & Vanessa

Day 2 in Sedona, Arizona

For the past two days I've been enjoying the sights of Sedona, Arizona. I absolutely am in love with this place. The mountains and canyons in this area are some of the most amazing things I've ever seen in my life. We arrived yesterday at 8:30am after leaving Orlando at 7:30am. The 3 hour time difference takes some getting used to but it's kind of a blessing at the same time. I woke up much earlier than usual and felt great. We landed in Phoenix and drove a couple of hours to our first stop: Montezuma Castle

This is an old area where natives used to dwell. They'd use ladders to get up to their homes carved into the mountain side. After this we headed to our rental home which is stunning....

Today we visited Slide Rock Park,my favorite place so far. Everyone was jumping off cliffs into the river and sliding down the naturally carved shoot. I jumped once and paid the price of irritating the stupid sciatica that is ruining my life at the moment. But I digress. It was an amazing place to be, with wild blackberries growing in the area. They were SO delicious. I had stained fingers by the end of our visit =P

We headed to another swimming area after Slide Rock but we were rained out pretty quickly. We also attempted to catch the sunset at the Airport Mesa which is famous for their awesome view but the clouds put a damper on things. Instead we climbed up a small mountain to an amazing view of the city and surrounding red rocks. Unfortunately for me it was too dark to really capture anything on camera. Tomorrow we head to The Grand Canyon for two days with a quick stop to catch the sunrise at the cliff we visited tonight. Until tomorrow =D

It's HOT in Florida

The Florida heat seems to be taking it's toll on our garden. And at the most inopportune time. For the past 3-4 months I've been dealing with tailbone/lower back pain and it really has pissed me off. I could go on and cry about my situation but I don't care to do that at the moment. Nevertheless I do feel sad that I've neglected the garden because of my situation.

Last week I did something to re aggravate my injury and now life sucks. I didn't realize how good I had it until this pain reared it's ugly head. So now I'm basically an invalid. And the garden is dying. I am sad.

Oh, and I almost forgot about the deer rampage. Notice the missing leaves:

On the upside: I've crafted a laptop...lap stand for myself since dorsal recumbency is the most comfortable position for me. I found some ideas online and used whatever I could find at home to make my nifty little stand.

Not the prettiest thing in the world but it does the job!=)