Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend!

Holy smokes, folks!
Big sigh of relief I made it through this busy week in one piece.
And in a few short hours, I'm heading back east for the long weekend!
I love Memorial Day and the unofficial start to summer.
I think late May is actually one of the best times to be in New York.
Everyone has this summer energy about them.
You can feel it as you leave work.
The tulips line Park Avenue,
outdoor seating welcomes patrons with open arms,
image from my mom's garden
I miss that ever-changing, yet constant New York energy.
This weekend is all about New England though: hot dogs topped with baked beans,
coca cola from the can and ice cream dripping down my chin.
Did you know red poppies are the signifying flower of Memorial Day?
I was reading up on the history of the holiday
and came across that fun fact.
So, raise a red poppy in honor of our troops,
and to summer,
and to a wonderful long weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

On The Record

It's been a long week
leading up to what seems like a very far off long weekend.
I'd like to go on record as saying,
I'd rather be doing this:
than what I am currently doing.
Isn't that shot beautiful?
What I'd trade for a stretch of peace and solitude that goes on for miles,
rather than going a million directions a mile a minute.
Soon enough...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Grandest Canyon

The hike down and into the Grand Canyon
was one of the most special adventures I've embarked on.
I feel really proud of the excursion; it tested my physical and mental abilities
in ways that I couldn't have anticipated.  
Our group was full of energy and excitement as we began our descent down the Kaibab Trail.
We made it down to the bottom of the Canyon in record time,
with only a few short stops along the way.
Phantom Ranch can really only be described as utopia.
It hosts guests that respect the rules of the National Park Service,
and all share the feeling of pride and relief that a select few us have made it down to the bottom.
We appreciated the smallest of pleasures: 
 hiker's stew, a flat rock by the river to rest our feet, cold beers and card games.
Looking up at the Canyon walls from the shade of a Cottonwood,
you really do feel so tiny underneath such a big, vast sky.
Our group took advantage of the ranger talks at 4pm and 7:30pm.
There is such a rich history, and endless stories to be heard about this Canyon.
The Canyon walls are an ever changing canvas,
 painted in hues of pink, red and purples at sunset,
and brighter oranges, browns and greys at sunrise.
Day two we explored the Canyon, heading out towards the North Rim to
set our eyes on the majestic Ribbon Falls.
It was a 13+ mile hike round trip, and for most of it we were
 exposed to blazing sun as we walked through the desert.
We all stood and let the cold mist of this hidden waterfall sprinkle our backs.
A dip in the water pools and some lunch, and then we had to head back to camp.
It was a long, hot hike back, and most of us had depleted our water supply.
Our muscles were starting to really feel the effects of our hike down the day before.
We woke up at 4:30am on Sunday to begin our hike up and out.
We hoped by leaving early enough, we'd beat most of the heat.
We were all a little nervous, and unsure how reliable our legs were.
We hiked up Bright Angel Trail, first through thick, soupy sand and then up
and around a section called "Devil's Corkscrew."
When we arrived at Indian Gardens for lunch, I was exhausted.
There was a huge mind over matter 'think' capacity that had to kick in for me,
and I tried to concentrate on being strong through positive thinking.
There was a long, flat stretch of trail where I was alone for a while.
I had part of my group ahead of me, and a few folks behind me,
so I knew I was safe and I really appreciated the alone time for self-reflection,
self-pace setting, and taking in the beauty of the other side of the canyon.
There were a lot of low hanging ferns and bubbling creeks and flat rock beds.
I thought there was a strong possibility of seeing a mountain lion stretched out on one of the rock beds.
The last 3 miles were brutal. I had to put all my concentration into physically lifting each leg,
and my whole body was moving in slow motion.
I was sucking air-my only relief was when a nice man I was hiking with
told me it was the altitude that was making it very difficult to breathe.
My friend and I made out the whistle of a train and I swear, I'd never heard a sound so sweet.
The hike up was a constant mind game. You think you're nearing the top,
only to encounter another series of switch-backs.
Sheer pride kept us from asking hikers making their way down,
how much longer until we reached the rim.
When I finally caved in to ask,
I knew I was at the point of total mind and body exhaustion.
But we made it.
The first half of our group waited for us tail-enders
at a perch about 5 minutes before you round the bend and reach the summit.
We all marched up to the top together.
We hugged and high-fived and were cheered on by park rangers and mingling tourists.
It felt...amazing.
Impossible to articulate, really.
I'd been riding a giddy high during the days that followed.
Shuffling around the city; smiling to myself, like I had a little secret.
It was an amazing journey,
although if you asked my legs, they'd probably beg to differ.
Happy Hiking, friends.
 *all photos are my own

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sit Tight!

I'm back from the bottom of the Canyon!
There are so many stories to share.
Of dusty trails and layers of red rock,
desert sage and prickly pears in bloom,
hidden waterfalls and the emerald green of the Colorado.
photo snapped by me at the top of the South Rim
Ring tailed cats and low flying bats,
ice cold beers and hearty canteen stew.
I promise, I'll share these tales soon.
Until then,
I'll be reading up on how
I can make a go at becoming a Park Ranger.
Speak soon, friends.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Big Moon Sky's Grand Adventure

Bucket List item:
sleep under the night sky
at the bottom of a dark and quiet canyon. Check.
Tomorrow, it's Grand Canyon or Bust!
I anticipate a smattering of shooting stars,
and a Big Dipper so bright,
it will seem as if it's scooping into the actual Canyon,
taking a midnight dip in the Colorado River.
It's hard to conceptualize a space so vast.
It seems magical; mythical even.
I keep imagining desert wolves and mountain lions
dancing around a campfire at the bottom of the Canyon at night.
Tee hee.
I remember a phone message my parent's left me a few years ago.
They awoke to watch the sun rise over the South Rim, cups of coffee in hand.
They said it was one of the single,
most beautiful mornings of their life.
Can you even imagine?
Happy Trails, friends.

* all images via Adam Schallau

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Not That You Need a Reason... go to Paris, that is.
But, if you're looking for one big, bright, fluffy reason:
It's peony season!
And Jordan's photos of Parisian peonies are show-stoppers.
Are you just melting into girly bliss?
Me too.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Well, Humph.

So, earlier tonight I come home from working out,
and I start to get some things organized for my upcoming
Grand Canyon hike, including a big load of laundry.
Let me back this story up a few days.
Last week, I had put a tiny post-it note on the open mail slots
in the lobby of my building.
"Please don't remove mail from #310."
I wrote this note because I have missed some mail lately that I was expecting.
 I figured the super might have cleaned out
my mail slot since the catalogues were starting to overflow on my end
or, I thought perhaps a new tenant moved in and
got confused with which mail slot was which,
 and figured my mail was a previous tenant's mail in their slot.
Confession: I made this mistake my first week living in the building,
so I was just trying to leave a friendly little 'heads up' note.
So, back to tonight.
As I was walking back to my apartment from the laundry room,
a girl walked toward me from my end of the hallway.
As we passed each other she averted her eyes without saying hello.
When I get to my apartment, I see that she has posted my original note onto my door,
with a veeeeery salty response.
Apparently, apartment # 303 took my little note a whole lot personally.
I must say, her post-it placement was rather ill-timed considering that,
uh, I saw her leave it on my door.
I feel like I just got bullied!
What the heck??
Part of me wants to egg her door, part feels like she could really use
some homemade cookies and a hug,
and another part of me just says, "Well, humph."
Here's to more pleasant exchanges tomorrow, friends!

Heading Out On A Grand Adventure

In three days, I'll be on one of my grandest adventures to-date.
I'm lacing up my hiking boots
and strapping on my backpack.
That's right, friends: Grand Canyon or bust! 
Friends of mine reserved spots for Phantom Ranch over a year ago.
I'm the lucky recipient of one of those bunks.
There is so much beauty to see;
so much ground to cover.
Look out South Rim.
I'm coming for ya.'
Absolutely. Cannot. Wait.

Monday, May 2, 2011

It's Been A While....

I know; yikes!
I've been crazy busy this past week.
I logged in a lot of hours on the open road,
visiting dusty farms and corporate boardrooms.
I drove through orchards and sweet smelling groves.
I got to know the central valley like the back of my hand.
Sometimes California feels like a faraway land.
I pinch myself, 'Do I really live here?'
Friday brought me up to Tahoe for a girls' getaway.
And boy, was it ever.
I pulled up to Truckee Friday night and a family
of three brown bears greeted me in the parking lot.
Hungry after a long winter slumber, those furry friends
were looking to get their paws sticky with honey.
I will never tire of sweeping views of the snow-capped Sierras and that sparkling lake.
We were spoiled rotten by our friend's dotting dad.
Delicious food, spectacular home, unparalleled company.
 Sunday night brought news that jolted me out of my California bubble,
and evoked the unifying emotion of what it means to be an American.
Today, we rejoice, we reflect, we remember.
I didn't understand the meaning of justice so intimately as I do today.
Wishing you all a magical May.