Saturday, July 31, 2010

Canyonlands National Park

I didn't get any other pictures from Canyonlands because the wind was too much for me.  I only did a drive-thru.  I need to go back one day soon.

I did stop at the visitor center and overheard a couple on a motorcycle talking to the park rangers about his gas situation - he didn't have any.  The nearest gas station is 27 miles away.  They were telling them that it is against regulations for park personnel to use official vehicles to transport anyone outside of the park, but it was downhill almost all the way so they thought it would be okay.  The voice in my head didn't scream, "There's something wrong. Run!"  The voice said "Help them."  I asked which way they were going.  

"Back to Moab."

"I'm heading the same way.  I'll follow you and if you run out, we'll figure out a way to get you some gas."

He cut the engine and coasted as often as he could.  We made it just in time.  I topped off before I headed to the park and was still sitting on almost a full tank but I needed ice so I pulled in behind him.  He gave me a big hug and kept thanking me. 

"You are so nice.  You don't even know me."  

I was heading that direction anyway.  I didn't think it was a big deal.  There is no cell phone signal on that road so they would have had no way to call for help if they didn't make it.  I would not have been able to sleep.     

Friday, July 30, 2010

First Swim

pool_2-25-09_152, originally uploaded by pmsswim.
Image from Flickr.

I survived my first swimming workout. It's the first time I've tried to swim laps in a pool in more than 10 years. This used to be so easy when I was a kid. Now I'm just happy I didn't drown.

It took me thirty minutes to adjust my swim goggles so they didn't leak. No wonder they say no new equipment on race day. That would have been a disaster. They were advertised as fog-free, but they fogged. Once in Hawaii, a local told me to clean my new snorkel mask with toothpaste and that would help prevent it. I'm going to try that and see if it helps.

I did make it across the length of the pool, but I need to work on my breathing. On my first lap, I had to actually stop swimming, tread water, and breathe a couple of times. The next two laps were better, but far from perfect. I got very tired but my muscles are not sore today, so once I get my breathing down I think I'll be okay. I'm considering hiring a coach for at least a couple of workouts.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Try a Tri

Triathlon Start, originally uploaded by thebrandbuilder.
Image from Flickr.
I joined BCO's new triathlon team and signed up for my first race. I have until October 17 to get ready for a 300 meter swim, 10-mile bike, and 3-mile run. My goal is to finish. If my time is slow I plan to tell everyone I paid for 2 hours and 20 minutes - I'm just trying to get my money's worth.

Monday, July 26, 2010

I Wish You Were Here

I Wish You Were Here, originally uploaded by Strange Flavoured Monster.
Image from Flickr.
I've been adding a lot of former colleagues on Facebook lately because I'm probably going to need to take at least a part-time job soon. (I'm not giving up on getting my education, but my bank account balance is starting to make me nervous.) I started chatting with one of them and last night, when I was feeling a little blue and very anti-social. He convinced me to go out to a local bar and play in a poker tournament. I made the final table! It's a weekly free tournament, so I may have to start hanging out there more often.

He told me he had a crush on me while we were still with my former employer but was afraid to say anything. I never had a clue. Why did he tell me now? I made him listen to me talk about Wyoming all night because I didn't want to go there.

I haven't promised anything, but Wyoming has been saying that he's not seeing anyone else and he's putting all his eggs in one basket, so it would not feel right going out with other guys beyond a friendship level. Plus, it would complicate things way too much, and it's difficult enough already.

I really wish I was in Wyoming right now...

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dead Horse Point State Park

Once upon a time, cowboys used to round up mustangs here.  They herded them onto a promontory that formed a natural corral.  They picked which horses they wanted and left the others to find their own way off the Point.  According to legend, some of the horses stayed and died of thirst.  

It was too windy to truly enjoy the park the day I visited.  Winds were gusting to 50 mph, hard enough to blow open the heavy doors to the visitor center.  Sand hitting bare skin at that speed stings quite a bit. I did a drive through, leaving the car just long enough to take one photo, get the information I needed to claim the Earth Cache find, and even hunted one traditional cache.  Can't see it?  Click to enlarge.    

Trade items at Utah state parks are stocked by park personnel.  You are encouraged to take a souvenir and requested not to leave anything in return.  (TB's are okay.)  I wonder if that has something to do with inappropriate items some people leave.  I've seen pocket knives, liquor, candy...all no-no's.  Kids hunt these things.  Please don't leave an item you wouldn't want a child to discover.  Also, no food and nothing that smells like food.  The website reports that one cache was destroyed by an animal because there was mint-flavored dental floss inside.  

Saturday, July 24, 2010


bruce-lee-060107-182942, originally uploaded by hkdigit.
Image from Flickr.

" Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend." - Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee is one of my heroes. He rejected the idea of strict adherence to a particular style...refused to do things a certain way just because that's the way it was always done. He said, "Use only that which works, and take it from any place you can find it. " Instead of debating which form of martial arts was the best, he took what he liked from each of them and created his own.

Someone left a comment that now was a good time to be Zen.  You made me remember Bruce's philosophy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Opportunity Knocking

Problems are Opportunities, originally uploaded by DonnaGrayson.
Image from Flickr.

Have you checked out Blogger's new stats feature? It shows which blogs are getting pageviews and how they were referred. Google is sending traffic to my blog! The Canyon Lake Gorge post from November 2009 is still getting noticed as is my Galveston Lost Oaks post from May of this year. I've been saying I want to be a travel writer. I need to start doing more of those posts. The best part is those were local travel posts that didn't require a lot of driving or money.

Wouldn't it be awesome if one day my little hobby paid the rent?!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shh! It's a Secret

Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2006!

That is obviously not me in the photo.  I do have some pics in my lingerie, but they will never be posted here.  Image from Flickr.

When I say I hate shopping, that is not entirely true.  I do have a favorite store that I never fail to visit when I'm forced to patronize the mall.  I love Victoria's Secret.  I can be wearing sweats and a T-shirt but still feel feminine if I'm wearing my pretties underneath.  Every time I meet a new guy, I have to buy something new to wear - even though no one is going to see it but me.  If I'm feeling a little blue, Victoria lifts my spirits.  It's a confidence thing. 

I think it's time to get something new...

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Arches National Park

That's me hiding behind the sign.  There are no restaurants and no grocery stores in the park, so take your lunch.  Stop at the visitor center to fill your water bottles, because there isn't any more available except at the campground.  A drive thru will take about 2 hours.  If you plan to do any hiking in the summer, it is a good idea to go early.  It is hot and there is little shade.

Trails at Arches National Park are marked with small rock piles, called cairns.  I started with the 1-mile Park Avenue trail.  You can either have someone drive to the end of the trail and pick you up or turn around and hike back, making it two miles round trip.  I remembered to take water, but forgot my asthma inhaler.  I made it, but was huffing and puffing loudly.  There was a tour group of 40 coming down the stairs when I finally got to the end, so I had a seat and waited for them.  One man asked how long would I like them to take.  I responded, "Walk as slow as you like.  I need a rest."  You would not have thought I was in good enough shape to have completed a half marathon a few days before by the way I was struggling to breathe.  Maybe I should get an extra inhaler to stash in my backpack so I can't forget it.  

If you click to enlarge the above photo you should be able to get a look at the rock cairns. 

I got my first Earth Caches at Arches.  The Windows Section (above) is one of them.  There are no physical caches to find, but there are virtual caches that direct you to interesting geological formations.  To mark it as found, you have to answer questions about the area.  For this one, there is a choice of 7 questions.  I chose:  "Where did the salt in the Paradox evaporite beds come from?"  I'm not giving the answer.  Do your own homework.  If you'd like to see the complete cache description and questions, click here.  

While I was hiking the trail around the Windows section, a huge gust of wind blew the hat off the head of an older woman near me.  It flew down into a crevice where she couldn't easily descend.  A Frenchman nearby climbed down to retrieve it for her.  See, they are not all annoying loudmouths.  That group at the campground did not represent their country well. 

Sabine National Wildlife Refuge

So...shortly after I put up my "Jesus Take the Wheel" post, guess who I finally heard from?  None other than my Wyoming Crush.  We've been talking a lot more and I thought I was going to visit him but he had to work (sob), so I headed east instead.  I wanted to see the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge before the oil destroys it.  It's so sad to think of all the birds covered in that filth...

Of course I did some geocaching, too.  I was searching for one not far from this sign (yep, that's me behind the hair and dark glasses) and stumbled into:

...turned around, almost gave up, but read previous logs and discovered the cache was a safe distance from sharp teeth.  Good thing, because two of his buddies were swimming up for a closer look at me.

I was not able to talk to Wyoming because I was in and out of cell service and was not available when he called.  He has been working in an area also out of cell range.  I thought I was going to see him this weekend and was planning to drive north today (sniffle), but he has to work again.  I've been to Wyoming.  I know that as soon as you leave town, you have no signal.  He did not get mad at me when I couldn't visit him because of school.  In this economy I cannot begrudge him the chance to earn some money.  My mind knows this, but cannot convince my heart not to be disappointed.

Our relationship consists of text messages, emails, and phone calls.  I am trying to not get too attached to someone I've only spent one day with in the real world.  I'm not sure I'm succeeding.  

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Mirror Lies

"Dangerous Passion", originally uploaded by Jade M. Sheldon.

Image from Flickr.
I've been watching Khloe Kardashian (on TV) workout twice a day and starve herself to try to lose imaginary fat for a photo shoot. Her sister put her in front of the mirror to try to show her it was in her head. How crazy must I be to relate to her? The image I see in photos and in the mirror never matches what others tell me they see.

When I first moved into my apartment, I thought I was going to have to hang curtains in the bedroom because one wall consists of floor-to-ceiling mirrored closet doors. I didnt think I could handle it.

I've finally learned to trust that if a man tells me he likes my curves, he's not just being nice. I hope I never again behave the way I'm watching Khloe behave...

P.S. I'm about to hit the road again. I'll continue the road trip posts and take good notes for the one I'm about to start. Sorry I've been MIA and haven't been able to comment on all of your posts lately, but if I don't go visit the real world once in a while I'll have nothing to write about. I'll be back soon.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Day 6: Moab

My tires were still worrying me, so I took my car to the Discount Tire and got them checked.  The Wal-Mart lady was WRONG!  My tires were NOT ok.  There were metal threads hanging out of one of them.  I bought four new tires in Provo and then drove to Moab.

I set up camp at the Slickrock Campground for 23 dollars a night.  It wasn't the prettiest spot, but the national parks' campgrounds were full and I only intended to use it as a place to sleep and shower.  A problem with car camping can be the noisy neighbors.  At 2:30 the first night, they were up partying, drinking, and keeping everyone awake.  One of them was playing the guitar and singing off key.  Then they turned on their radio!  Someone called the police.  The cops told the guys if they had to come back, someone was going to jail.  The noise died and I finally got a little sleep.  The next night, they turned on the radio again.  A woman went over and asked them to turn it down.  A few minutes later they were arguing loudly in French, but they turned off the radio.  The last night, they were gone.     

Next time I will camp in a national forest and pay $3 -$5 for a shower at the commercial facilities instead. There are plenty of them in the area.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Day 5: Recovery

June 13

The day after the marathon was rainy in Provo and rainy in Moab, where I planned to hang out until it was time to meet up with my backpacking buddies, so I decided to extend my stay and spend the day relaxing and just recovering from the race.  My room had a fridge and microwave, so I went to Big K-Mart and stocked up on food and drinks.  I couldn't just sit all day, so between showers I did a little geocaching.

This one, hidden inside a camo'd bunker, is a Travel Bug Hotel.  This one was in a front yard and resembled the boxes containing water meters.  The tiny geocaching stickers gave it away.  Sometimes there are a lot of TB's in these things, sometimes there are none.  They are usually located near a well-traveled highway and are large enough for good-sized trade items.

I dropped off Mr. Grumpy and picked up The Cache Fairy.  She has no specific goal, so I brought her home to Texas.  As soon as the weather improves, I'll find a good spot to drop her off. 

This is a copy of the original because the first one disappeared.  If you find Travel Bugs, please do not keep them.  These are not trade items.  They are to be moved from cache to cache, often with a specific goal.  They can be tracked at

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Backcountry Bear Basics

Backcountry Bear Basics: The Definitive Guide to Avoiding Unpleasant Encounters (Mountaineers Outdoor Basics)
My first experience camping in bear country was at a private camping ground, car camping near Pike's Peak.  In the middle of the night, I heard a loud sniffing around my tent and saw a very large shadow.  I thought it was a bear.  I shrunk down into my sleeping bag, praying it would go away.  Thankfully, it did, because that was the wrong reaction.  Had it been a hungry bear, I might not be writing this blog today.  (It was a family of raccoons that found a cooler full of food that the neighboring camp left out.)

The next year I bought a can of bear spray and kept it in my sleeping bag at night.  The plan was to spray any bear that dared to enter my tent.  According to Dave Smith, the author of Backcountry Bear Basics:  "You'd better hope it deters the bear for a while, because you will be incapacitated after spraying inside your tent."  Ooops again...

I met with a group of 5 other members of Bayou City Outdoors in New Mexico and we were discussing what we knew about bears before we drove to Colorado for our backpacking trip in the South San Juan Wilderness.  One person heard you were supposed to get as big as you can and make a lot of noise.  I heard not to make any threatening movements and talk softly.  Someone suggested it was different depending whether it was a brown or black bear. 

We hung our food in camp, but I now know that while we didn't really do it improperly, we didn't use the best method.  The ones we used were described as sufficient against inexperienced bears.  Apparently the bears that are in places such as Yosemite know our tricks, and it would have taken only a few seconds to get our dinner.       

A lot of the things I thought I knew about bears were wrong.  This book tells you how to avoid conflict, the correct way to hang food, what to do if there is no place to hang the food, and how to protect yourself and survive if there is a close encounter.  It addresses myths such as the one that menstruating women should avoid bear country, whether sexual activity attracts bears, and "bluff" charges.  It's written in an entertaining and informative manner that kept me turning pages.  I read it cover to cover in one night and will keep it as a reference.  I highly recommend it for anyone who lives in, camps in, drives through, or otherwise visits bear country. new plan for if I hear a bear outside my tent (from the book):

1)  Fight the urge to quietly shrink down into your sleeping bag.
2)  Talk softly to the bear so it can identify you as a human being.
3)  If you have bear spray, get it ready.
4)  Pick up your flashlight, quickly unzip your tent door, turn on your flashlight, and shine it at the bear to momentarily blind it.
5)  If the bear does not take off, whoop, holler, and make noise, or spray it with bear spray if you have it.

I bought mine at park headquarters in Great Sand Dunes National Park.  It's also available at