Zion Vacation Summary



“We hiked all the way up here, to Angel’s Landing, 1,488 feet,” Corvus tells me.  “That’s where we couldn’t walk any more, and had to use the chain to climb up the rocks.”

Standing at the Visitor Center looking at a topological map of Zion National Park, I almost fainted.  “I definitely got further than I expected, and if you had shown me this map before we went up, I wouldn’t have done it!” I tell him.  “Still, it was fun.  I put to use some of the moves that I learned rock climbing in the gym.”

Sally and I packed A LOT into our one week vacation, including:

One of my good friends has two wolves in a small town south of Dallas, so I took Sally to meet them today.  She LOVED the experience!  Personally, I think they look like big dogs.

I have about a hundred pictures, but Corvus has about a thousand.  Here are just a few.  WOW, looks like we’ve been photoshopped into post cards!  What an amazing adventure!

I managed to prank Sally, but not very well.  She had bought me a dog toy that crinkles, like it has a plastic bag inside.  “Crinkle crinkle” is an old private joke from our Grand Canyon Road Trip (2012), which I could explain but it wouldn’t make sense—it’s one of those “You Had To Be There” jokes.  Anywho, she had given me the dog toy as a gag gift about a month ago.  So I took it to Utah, put it under her pillow, and waited for her to lean back.

Instead, she picked up her pillow to move it.  Who the hell does that?!  Sheesh!  But the dog toy still had the desired effect: she looked at me with wide eyes and laughed hysterically.  We spent several minutes having our usual conversation (again, I could explain it, but…):

“CRINKLE CRINKLE!” she says.

“Yo face!” I say.

“Crinkle!” she says.

“Yo mama!” I tell her.  This makes very little sense when a mother says it to her daughter, which makes us crack up laughing.  And THIS is just one more reason that I love traveling with my little girl: we make each other laugh.

Corvus stopped trying to understand us, and just sat back and smiled.

I explained one conversation by telling him, “I’ve dated a few different guys named Mike: a workaholic, a plumber, a mayor…”

Corvus said, “You need to make this into a rhyme, like ‘This little piggy went to market, this little piggy stayed home.’  Instead, you’ve have, ‘This little Mikey was a workaholic, this little Mikey fixed toilets.  This little Mikey was a mayor, this little Mikey…’”

I DIED laughing.  I’ll finish that fine poetry and post it another day.



Seeing this picture, I think, “I’m a badass!” and then follow that up with, “What the hell was I thinking?!  I could have slipped and died!!” followed by, “Damn, my ass looks GREAT!”

Zion Adventure


VACATION STARTS TODAY!  Sally, Corvus Tomatillo and I are starting our journey tomorrow.  PUDDING!!

Here’s the agenda:


Sally & I have breakfast with my father, stepmother, and Jack (who is now living with my dad, i.e. his grandfather).  Dad is going to drive us to the airport so that I don’t have to pay $20/day to leave my car at DFW.  Or is it $40?  Anyhow, it really adds up, so I’m grateful to have family that lives nearby.  At those rates, I can buy us all breakfast and still come out ahead!  It helps that Dad likes to eat at IHOP and use his senior citizen discount.  If he preferred the Gaylord Texan, then I might be better off paying for parking.

From DFW, Sally & I will fly to Sin City.  She’s never been, so she’s keen on visiting M&M World.  Her exact words were, “Oh Mommy, can we visit the M&M store?  Please please please mommy I’ve never been.”

Since I’m wrapped about her little finger (a life-long affliction), I answered, “Sure!  Let’s fly in early enough that we can walk The Strip and you can get a feel for Vegas.”  Subsequent planning has shown that Vegas is better at night: more shows, the lights are on, the freaks are out.  Eh, so, Sally will get to see Vegas by daylight; she can come back for her bachelorette party for the night life.  Her bachelorette party in the far, far, distant future.  Now I’m freaking out!

There is a magic show at 1 p.m., but I’m not sure if we can make that and see the sights.  We only have four hours.  But then, a show in Vegas would be pretty cool.  One hotel offers free circus acts from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; we’ll stop by there if we have time.

After four hours of walking the Strip with our luggage (any advice on where we could stash it?), Corvus will pick us up and take us to Zion.  He lives in Tucson, so Vegas is on the way for him (sorta) and only an hour and a half from Zion.  We’ll stop for groceries so that we can do picnic lunches and grab wine—I’m not sure if that’s his plan, but it’s definitely mine!  The corkscrew is already packed!  After all, I’ll be earning the wine by burning all those calories hiking.

We’ll spend Wednesday hiking at Zion, Thursday hiking at Bryce Canyon (a short 1.5 hr drive away), then decide where we want to return on Friday.  Then Saturday, we’ll be coming home.  My sister (Mrs. Cherry) will pick us up from the airport and we’ll have dinner with her & her family.  Strawberries & Cherries at one meal – what a treat!

Can’t wait to share our adventures with you!  There will be a plethora of pics!  And probably more inside jokes – I have a prank planned for Sally, but SHHHH!!! Don’t tell her!


PS Ed, my tenant, will be at the house, so any would-be burglars can forget it.  He’s an armed and dangerous red-headed Texan – don’t even try it!  Seriously, he dresses as the Joker so often, I think he’s becoming the character.  It’s so serious, he won’t date a girl unless she looks like Harley Quinn.

PSS I’m so excited right now, I’m screaming like a 12-year-old girl!  WOOOOT!

Road Trip Reflections

Jules, hiking in Missouri

Jules, hiking in Missouri

The Road Trip to Missouri was for my son Jack.  I didn’t want to go.  In fact, we originally scheduled it for mid-September.  Jack was sick and I was relieved when I postponed it.  I was dreading it.


Over 1000 miles.  16 hours.  SIXTEEN HOURS IN A CAR.

I couldn’t just throw Jack on a plane—as much as I wanted to.  He’s terrified for flying.  Never mind that my father is a retired Air Force pilot who survived the Vietnam War.  His grandson (Jack) has an anxiety attack at the thought of getting on a commercial airliner in peace time.

“Accidents may be less common in airplanes than cars, but when an airplane has an accident, it’s more likely to be fatal,” Jack says.

Well, he has a point there.

So we drove.

On long trips like this one, the conversation runs out and periods of silence stretch out.  In those moments, I found myself slowing down.  I didn’t need to run to class or work or do chores.  I couldn’t open a book to study or turn on a computer to write.  I could only Be, and Think.

I found myself reviewing my past few dates.  I’m glad that I took things slow.  Doug screwed me with his blog post; I’m glad he didn’t screw me any other way.  There was a strange sort of parallel: I was driving away from him, towards EH1’s children.  EH1, ex-husband #1, who was a compulsive liar and twisted every lie around some kernel of truth or attributed his falsehood to something that I did wrong (real or imagined).

Doug texted me several times over the weekend and I was able to see a similar pattern emerge.  “I’m sorry but (excuse, excuse).  You aren’t perfect either, you (some small or imagined imperfection: I wrote that he was 10 minutes late, when it was 9 minutes).  I have (medical issues, past tragedies, emotional baggage).”

Let me tell you, Mister: we ALL have medical issues, past tragedies, and emotional baggage.

Emotional Baggage Vs Experience

He continued, “Little things don’t matter to me.” Here he’s implying that if the situation were reversed, he wouldn’t be angry, so I shouldn’t be, either.  He’s throwing me off-balance, making me doubt whether I’m reacting rationally.

I’m not saying that Doug is a compulsive liar.  I do see his texts as defensive and manipulative.

In my Zen state of mind on the open road, I thanked EH1 for preparing me to meet Doug.  Now I know the signs, what to look for in a manipulator.  Now, I can ignore the text messages and move on, without second guessing myself.

Mormon Temple in Mo. I'm not Mormon, I just thought it was pretty.

Temple in Missouri

I choose not to let Doug upset me.  I choose to be happy.

I choose to move on.

Out the window, the sun shone down on trees and corn fields.  Every old barn, horse, and cow that we passed was more picturesque than the last.  I fought the urge to stop and take pictures.

Jack, Dawn, and I hiked in a nearby park.  The weather was a little too warm in the sun but perfect beneath the trees.  Ideal weather for hiking.

Days like this, I’m not lonely.  I don’t need to date.

In high school, I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  I didn’t get it at the time: a guy on a road trip with his son didn’t resonate with me.

Now, I get it.  My ex was part of my past that used to embarrass me.  Now I see that he has given me the gifts of experience and family.  I felt very Zen.

Doors on the temple. (That's not Aslan. Although he does bear a strong resemblance.)

Doors on the temple. (That’s not Aslan. Although he does bear a strong resemblance.)

While Jack and Crispin hung out that night, I walked around historic downtown and had dinner by myself.  I wasn’t completely alone.  A friend messaged me on Facebook and we had a nice chat while I waited for my dinner.  We made plans to get together in a couple of weeks.

After an amazing dinner, I walked back to the delightful bed and breakfast where we were staying.  It was an old house ran by a warm, welcoming family.  I drank some wine and watched an old movie starting Humphrey Bogart.  I felt spoiled.  I was on vacation, even if for just one night.


Oh, Doug!

He posted an apology on his blog on Monday night.  He had promised Monday at lunch time, but whatever.


Did you see it?  The apology was after a couple of paragraphs on his triathlon and before a pity party about how I won’t date him anymore, next to a lie about how he was late.  He wasn’t late, he was on time, as shown in the text messages that I posted.  Why, oh why, he chose to say that he was late—well, I don’t get it.

That dating hiatus is looking really good right now!

Professor Mercury

In unrelated news, Professor Mercury did, indeed, get divorced last year.  It was amiable enough; inside sources tell me that the ex-wife did not come up to the school to yell at him.  Which is good because they have two kids to raise together.

Let’s see, grades get turned in, by December 15th.  So I can ask him out on December 16th, right?

Hey, two and a half months is long enough for a dating hiatus!

Naughty Nadia will be keeping you entertained in the interim.


Amazing Seattle Road Trip Part III: Pinky Promise


“Hold up your pinky,” I told Sally Ann.

She regarded me suspiciously.  She knew that I had something in mind.

“Just do it,” I said.  “Show the world which finger I’m wrapped around!”  After years of accusing her father of being wrapped around it, I finally had to admit that I was there, too.

Sally laughed and held up her little finger with a big smile.

“Now we need to have a serious conversation.  I know that you’ve been dating Penny for over a year, and you probably want to start taking vacations with her.  Don’t answer until you think about it, but I’d really like to continue our annual road trips.  We’ve gone every year since—well, since you were 13, right?” I said.

“Since before that.  We used to go, with Jack, to the Johnson Space Center every year.  And one year, we visited Aunt Sharon in Kansas.  So, just about every year of my life,” she added.

I was a little surprised.  She was right.  Despite being a single mom and struggling financially, despite going to college for an engineering degree from age 28 to 32, I had made my kids a high priority.  We had taken trips every year.

I continued, “You’re right.  So, I understand if you don’t want to take vacations with me anymore.  But if you do, I’d like you to pinky swear that we’ll take vacays every year for the rest of our lives.”

Without hesitation, she held up her pinky.  “And we get to vote if we want other people to come.  And it has to be unanimous,” she said.

I smiled and my eyes teared up.  She didn’t even think about it!  I offered her my pinky.  “But that means that I can vote Penny off the island!  Or, at least, off the vacay!”

“And I can vote your boyfriend off, too!” she said.  “So you’d better be good!”

I laughed.  She could give it as good as she could take it!


When we visited Mount St. Helens, what used to be acres of trees was now populated by stumps.  The historical markers said that the blast from the volcano broke them off.

“That must have been some eruption,” Sally said.

“I imagine it was like the pressure wave off the space shuttle when it takes off,” I said.  In 2010, we had attended one of the last space shuttle launches in Orlando, Florida.  On that trip, Sally had experienced a lot of firsts: first plane trip, first time at an ocean, and first space shuttle launch.  For the record, it was my first shuttle launch, too.

I stopped in my tracks.  “How cool is it that we can say that?  That we attended a space shuttle, and now we can talk about the pressure wave like it’s no big deal?”

“Ya!” she said.

“We’re badasses.  Oh ya,” I said.  “How do you think Seattle compares to San Francisco?”
“I don’t know.  We haven’t seen as much of Seattle as we did SF.  Still, I think I like SF better,” she answered.

“Me, too.  I think it has more local color, more parks, and more to do.  But then, we may just have to come back to Seattle and spend more time here to be sure,” I said.

We keep hiking.  We have too much that we want to see and too many places to go, to return to anywhere that we’ve already been.  I admired the Indian Paintbrush plants (red flowers) and bluebonnets (blue-purple flowers) that lined the trail.  They reminded me of home, of Texas.  As much as I love to travel, I love returning to Dallas.

“Where are we going next?  If I can afford to bring you, I’ll take you with me to Lilly’s wedding in Hawaii.  If not, where do you want to go?” I asked.

“I’d like to go to Ireland.  Maybe for my 21st birthday?  That would be GREAT!” Sally said.

PUDDING!  This isn’t the end, just a pause in the adventure.




Fav Road Trips Moments

Sally and Lucy, the Missing Link, July 2014

Sally and Lucy, the Missing Link, July 2014

I pulled out a $20 dollar bill to pay for breakfast.  Without missing a beat, Sally flashed me, like a parade goer earning beads at Mardi Gras.

“No, Sally!  NO!” I told my daughter.

Ok, so she pretended to flash me.

Sally and I have a lot of fun on our annual vacations.  We call them “Road Trips,” even though last year we flew to San Francisco and rented a car to use in the area.  This year, we’re going to Seattle and Portland, June 16 to 20.  Since that’s less than a month away, I’ve been flashing back to my favorite moments in years past.  I already shared Sally’s first time behind the wheel (PUDDING).  Now, I’ll share more golden moments.

Crinkle Crinkle

“I didn’t wake you up when I came to bed last night, did I?” Sally asked with wide, innocent eyes.  We had stayed at my brother’s house with his awesome family (love you Marie!).  Sally had stayed up playing Dance Dance Revolution with her cousins while I went to bed.

I glared at her.  I answered, “You opened the bedroom door.  Then you put your socks in the laundry bag, which was a black trash bag, so it went crinkle crinkle.  Then you took off your pants and put them in the bag.  Crinkle.  Crinkle.  Then you put your shirt in the bag.  CRINKLE.  CRINKLE.”  I grabbed some packets of sugar to make my point.  “CRINKLE.  CRINKLE.”

Sally’s mouth got round and she looked at me in horror.  She picked up the sugar packets and rubbed them on her face.  “Crinkle cringle!”  Then she started laughing.

And I started laughing.  I was past tired to the place where emotions are amplified.  I’ve heard it called, “Delirious with lack of sleep.”  We laughed and laughed.  Then we got in the car and laughed and laughed.  We laughed for two solid hours, until tears were streaming down my face and my abs hurt from laughing.  Sally might have had tears, too, but I couldn’t look at her because I would have started laughing again.  “ENOUGH!” I said.  “I have to drive.  Can’t – ha ha! – can’t laugh any more.  (Giggle.)”

To this day, sugar packets make me smile.

Foreign Languages

“Est-ce que tu es francaise?” I asked the woman at the table next to us.  Sally and I were in San Francisco, enjoying breakfast at the hotel.

“Oui!” the lady answered.  We had a brief conversation in French while our daughters listened.

As Sally and I walked away, she expressed her admiration.  “I’m really impressed that you can hold a conversation in a foreign language.  I want to learn a foreign language.  Maybe our native Irish—you know, Gaelic.”

I couldn’t help it.  I started laughing.

Sweet, innocent, Sally was confused.  “What?  What’s so funny?”

I could barely spit out the words.  “You—want—to—learn—Gaelic!”

Still confused, she asked, “So?”

“The lesbian wants to learn Gaelic…HAHAHAHAH!” I answered.  “Say it slowly.”

Sally FINALLY got it and started laughing.  She texted her girlfriend Penny immediately to share the joke!

I may not win Mother of the Year, but we have a good time together!  Can’t wait to go to Portland/Seattle next month!


Sally poses at the museum, "He's so cute!" San Francisco 2014.

Sally poses at the museum, “He’s so cute!” San Francisco 2014.

My turn to pose with Lucy!  San Fran, 2014.

My turn to pose with Lucy! San Fran, 2014.