December 22, 2010

Book Review: Under the Overpass

"I have learned what it means to be content in all circumstances, 
whether with everything or with nothing." 
                                                        Philippians 4:11-12

Recently I signed up for a program called Blogging for Books through Multnomah Press, a Christian book publishing company.  If you're accepted for the program, you get to choose one book at a time from a good-sized list of available books (and different genres), which they send to you absolutely free.  The catch?  You have 30-90 days to read the book and then post a review.

For my first book, I decided on a book called Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski.

Here's the blurb off of the back of the book, which immediately caught my interest:

"Ever wonder what it would be like to live homeless?

Mike Yankoski did more than just wonder. By his own choice, Mike's life went from upper-middle class plush to scum-of-the-earth repulsive overnight. With only a backpack, a sleeping bag, and a guitar, Mike and his traveling companion, Sam, set out to experience life on the streets in six different cities: Denver; Washington D.C.; Portland; San Francisco; Phoenix; and San Diego.

For more than five months the pair experienced firsthand the extreme pains of hunger, the constant danger of living on the streets, exhaustion, depression, and social rejection - all by their own choice. They wanted to find out if their faith was real, if they could actually be the Christians they said they were apart from the comforts they'd always discover what it feels like to be homeless in America."

Apparently this book has been out for several years, but this is a newly updated version with more stories from the author's time on the streets, and a follow-up interview to see where he and Sam are now, and how the experience has shaped them.

Back when I was a senior in high school (lo, twenty-plus years ago!), my mom, brother, aunt, and I got up at o-dark hundred on Sunday mornings and drove to an underpass in downtown Salt Lake to help feed the homeless with an all-volunteer group.  I remember feeling excited when my mom had mentioned to me what she wanted to do, but that first Sunday when she woke me up at 5:00 a.m. for the drive, I was not excited at all.  It was cold, dark, and miserable.  Once there, though, the reality that these men and women were dealing with that all night, every night, quickly humbled me. 

Even before reading this book, I had been thinking back a lot on those experiences and how rewarding it felt to be able to help - to brighten their day for even just those few moments.  I like to think that it made me a better person, not because I was doing something wonderful, but because I could see what it meant to them.  I feel like my kids have really missed out and need to see what life under the overpass is like too...

This book brought all those lessons I learned long ago rushing back home. 

Through scene after scene, Mike shows us what it is like to be homeless.  As he puts it, "An ongoing struggle to find safety, a place to sleep, a bathroom, and food becomes dehumanizing for anyone. One experience at a time, a person's sense of dignity and sense of self-worth gets stripped away."

In this book, Mike tackles hard subjects like drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, and violence with his caring and honest search for answers.  He also covers the reaction that they got from people who are "Christians," part of the body of Christ.  Sadly, many of those were not good experiences for them.

Driving over the top of our personal overpasses, it's easy to be desensitized and to stop seeing those that need our help, or even actively avoiding them.

I am so glad that I chose this book, and I will definitely be keeping it and re-reading it again and again, as well as sharing it with friends and family.  This is a touching read - one that can't help but change your preconceived ideas about homelessness and how we, as Christians, should be responding.

To read an excerpt from the book, click here.

There is also a special Christmas Action Plan that can be accessed here.

Please stop by here to rate my review - it can help me win a prize... :o)

December 16, 2010

Outside - at You Capture

This week's assignment at You Capture was to head outside.  We had a major snowstorm/blizzard a couple of weeks ago, making for beautiful deep snow in the yard, but this last week has been warm and rainy (and foggy!  I am SO SICK of driving to work in a fog - I do that well enough on my own, thank you), melting all the snow and leaving a muddy, brown mess.

Determined to pick up the camera from its forced hiatus (i.e., my class that sucked up every spare second of my time, plus quite a few extras), Savannah and I headed up Blacksmith Fork Canyon last Sunday right before the sun set.  We found this scene at a pretty little park where I took approximately 5 photos before my battery died.  (Note to self: next time, LOOK at the battery icon before heading out).

Thankfully (and I honestly can't believe I'm saying that!) it snowed again, so yesterday I brought my camera with me and grabbed a few shots.  It was truly beautiful, and I'm grateful for the photo assignment or I'd have probably stayed bundled up and never taken these.

Now if it would just stay off the roads!


December 9, 2010

Karma, or this is what you get when you throw your daughter under the bus...

First, let me say how nice it is to be able to blog again!  I turned in the final portfolio for my non-fiction class today, so I-Am-Done!!!  I'm trying to decide if I can/should take the advanced writing class next semester, or if I should give my poor, wearied mind a break.  My thoughts on this change about every 5 minutes.

Anyhoo, I'm long overdue for a post, so here goes. :o)

Back in October, Savannah and I were both in desperate need of a haircut, so we headed off to my favorite hair cutting place. The cost is reasonable, it's not too far from home, and my favorite stylist gives the most incredible, relaxing scalp massages that I've ever received.  I seriously would go in daily if I could afford it, just for the massage! 

Anyway, when Savannah and I got there, there were only two stylists: My favorite, hereafter referred to as the Angel, and scary-haired skunk-head.  Skunk-head had given me my last haircut, and I never could quite get it to style as well as it normally does.  Savannah has also had her for a previous cut, just to get her bangs trimmed, and she hated them.  They looked fine to me...

"Who wants to go first?" skunk girl asked, her enthusiasm about like mine when I go for a root canal.

"She does!" Savannah and I both emphatically said, looking at one another simultaneously.

I had been watching the angel work on her current customer and could see that she was nearly finished.  It had been three long months since she had last cut my hair, and my scalp was not going to be deprived!

Pulling the "Mommy" card, I firmly told Savannah: "You go first.  I'll go ahead and wait a minute longer," trying to make it sound like I was doing a selfless service.  I'm sure the poor girl could tell that neither of us wanted her to touch our hair, but what could I do?  Savannah trudged over to her chair, resignedly, barely speaking two words throughout the entire haircut.

For the record?  I thought her hair looked fine.  After all, how much damage can be done to just a trim?  Savannah, of course, disagreed.  Feeling more than a little guilty for throwing her under the bus like I did, I gave an oath in blood that from now on I would only take her to MasterCuts in the mall, her favorite.  

As for me?  My massage was divine, as was the haircut!

Now let's fast forward to a week ago...

I again needed a haircut, so I stopped off at the salon on Monday.  As I drove into the parking lot, I could see skunk-head sitting, reading a magazine, waiting for some hapless customer.

Ha!  It was not going to be me, so off I drove...

Wednesday night I drove by again.  I really needed a haircut.  I could see only one stylist working through the window, one I knew did a decent job, even if she wasn't the angel.  In I went. 

"What can we do for you?" she asked, taking a break from the person's hair that she was working on.

"I just need a good trim," I answered, already heading towards the magazine rack to settle in for the wait.

Suddenly, appearing from her lair in the back where she'd been lying in wait, came skunk-head.

So, now my bangs are half-an-inch too short (this, after I very carefully told her that I didn't want to look like a kindergartener - leave them a little below the eyebrows) and decidedly crooked.

Crap... Guess that's what I had coming.

November 8, 2010

A Heartfelt Poem for Winter

I've been thinking about poetry a lot here lately.  I'm taking a memoir-writing class this semester at the college, so in my first essay I wrote in part about how, in 9th grade, I had to memorize Longfellow's poem, The Children's Hour.  Then in my last post about autumn, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's poem captured magnificently the feeling of the season.

A good poem can express so succinctly what a long-winded essay (my personal specialty) can never do.

I remember in high school and junior high having to write poems, which I was never very good at.  Oh, I had your typical teen angst, love lost, type that gushed out after one of many breakups.  But these in class had to have form and purpose and thoughtfulness.

Worst of all I hated Haiku's.  I never could understand them - what purpose was there in three lines, a set number of syllables, and a lack of rhyming?  How could they call themselves a poem?

Now that I'm older, I find that my tastes are changing in everything from food, to books and -- wouldn't you know it? -- in poetry. With the first real snowfall of the season steadily coming down outside my window all day today, I decided to give Haiku's another try, to fully capture the essence of winter, and my emotions, swirling and diving like the flakes, around it.

Frigid snows, they blow,
Metaphorically speaking.
Away now, damn it!

Awww... the power of the written word!

October 27, 2010

Enjoying Autumn before it's gone

The Autumn  
by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them --
The summer flowers depart --
Sit still -- as all transform'd to stone,
Except your musing heart.

How there you sat in summer-time,
May yet be in your mind;
And how you heard the green woods sing
Beneath the freshening wind.
Though the same wind now blows around,
You would its blast recall;
For every breath that stirs the trees,
Doth cause a leaf to fall.

Oh! like that wind, is all the mirth
That flesh and dust impart:
We cannot bear its visitings,
When change is on the heart.
Gay words and jests may make us smile,
When Sorrow is asleep;
But other things must make us smile,
When Sorrow bids us weep!

The dearest hands that clasp our hands, --
Their presence may be o'er;
The dearest voice that meets our ear,
That tone may come no more!
Youth fades; and then, the joys of youth,
Which once refresh'd our mind,
Shall come -- as, on those sighing woods,
The chilling autumn wind.

Hear not the wind -- view not the woods;
Look out o'er vale and hill-
In spring, the sky encircled them --
The sky is round them still.
Come autumn's scathe -- come winter's cold --
Come change -- and human fate!
Whatever prospect Heaven doth bound,
Can ne'er be desolate.
For more autumn pictures, visit Beth at You Capture...

October 19, 2010

For Grandpa...

Living in Idaho, I first got my driver’s license when I was 14.  Due to the excess of “spud-miners” who needed cheap labor (aka: young teenagers), the powers-that-be in this potato-rich state made the dubious decision to grant daytime-only driver’s licenses to 14-year-olds, of which I had finally become.  I knew I was more than ready to take on the world, or at least the roads.  Now that I have my own teenagers, I am firmly in the camp that believes 18-years-old should be the limit – at a minimum!

My grandpa was a piano tuner by trade, and he also happened to be totally blind,  which meant he had to hire a driver to ferry him around to his different appointments.  Once I got my license, I became his “favorite” Saturday driver.  The story below is my stab at recreating one of many favorite stories he regaled me with as the two of us traipsed from job to job.

* * *

Lewiston is located at the confluence of the Clearwater and Snake Rivers in northern Idaho where the rivers converge before emptying into the Columbia River.  The town sits on the eastern side of the Snake River; westward, on the other shore, lays the state of Washington and Lewiston’s sister city, Clarkston. Much like its namesake, Meriwether Lewis of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition, the small town of Lewiston, Idaho, has always attracted the adventurous. First settled by gold miners in 1861, it became the first capital of the newly-formed Idaho Territory, although it quickly lost that distinction as the gold rush turned to parts further south in the rugged Sawtooth mountain range.  Despite the change in fortune, the town continued to grow, eventually becoming the site of the Lewiston State Normal School (which is still running as the Lewis and Clark State College today), where Grandpa Frank attended.

It was 1932, and included among the more recent group of adventurers were two young 19-year-olds, excitedly making their way to a dust-covered Ford Model-T sitting in the dirt lot outside the mens’ residence hall at the Normal School, situated at the top of a hill overlooking the town’s business district.  It was a beautiful fall day, God’s gift in October before the coming winter, the sun shining steadily down but with enough of a breeze to make the sweaters both boys wore a little too warm.  Taking a well-deserved break from their studies, Frank, at a strapping six-feet tall, loosely grasped the left shoulder of his friend Jesse with his right hand as they made their way to the vehicle.  They stuck together all the way down the stairs and across the large expanse of lawn, listening to the leaves crunching satisfactorily beneath their feet, finally reaching the car itself.

Letting go of Jesse’s shoulder, Frank lovingly stroked the still-sleek black paint of the car – a 1926 Model-T Touring Car – walking around the back, trailing his fingertips down the side, until he reached the driver’s side door.  Even though the nation was still in the stranglehold of incredibly hard economic times, “the Great Depression” Frank had heard it called (like there was anything great about it), Jesse’s family had managed to stay afloat.  In fact, he had been granted the use of one of the family cars to get back and forth to the farm when he could escape his studies long enough to help out.  

Feeling more than a slight thrill, Frank opened the driver’s door and climbed in.  He fumbled his feet around the pedals until he figured out which was the accelerator and which was the brake, with coaching from Jesse, who then handed him the key.  Hands shaking slightly, Frank turned the key and felt the rumbling power set his feet and hands to vibrating – whether from the power of the engine or the anticipation and accompanying nervousness about his first time driving a car, it was hard to tell.  Jesse was close by at his shoulder.

“Okay.  Ease your foot off the brake and go straight ahead until I tell you…”

“Like this?” Frank asked.

“Exactly!  Get ready to make a 45-degree turn when I tell you, but be sure to go slow.  Not yet…not yet…not yet… okay, NOW!  Good, now tap the brake a little bit to slow down some… Easy over this bump…” 

“Let’s drive over to Talkington Hall,” Frank suggested, once he’d become a little more comfortable behind the wheel.  Talkington Hall was the women’s dorm that had recently been built on the other side of campus. Just like today’s college freshmen, they were out to see and be seen!  On they drove like this, Frank listening intently to Jesse’s detailed instructions, following them word for word, all across campus, making turns, stopping for pedestrians, gaining speed on the straight ways, just like any other driver on the road.  In the distance Frank could hear the blasting horns of tugboats on the waterfront just a few blocks away from campus, getting ready to make their 465-mile journey back to the ocean, back to open waters, and the freedom they represented. 

“Man! What I wouldn’t do to just keep driving this thing…” Frank said, with a slight wistfulness. They had completed their tour and were headed back the way they came, back, back, back to the little dirt lot outside their dorm.  As he inched his way into a large, clear spot on the end of the row furthest away from their dorm, Frank could hear the buzz of voices around him.

"Did you SEE that?!” an incredulous voice rose up above the others.  “That Collins guy was driving Jesse’s car!!!  I can’t believe he’d even let him try something like that.  He must be crazy!!!” Around him, others agreed. 

Jesse came around to the driver’s side, waiting for Frank to get out.  Once again, he offered his friend a shoulder, which was gripped under a sturdy hand, and they skirted the small crowd that had gathered. As they climbed back up the steps of the dorm, they both began to laugh uproariously, Jesse with his blind friend Frank, walking proudly behind him.       

* * *

The reason for my long absence from the blog is that I'm taking a Memoir-Writing class this semester, and I've been completely buried!  This paper is a scene I had to create for a longer piece that is due in a few weeks.  I’ve taken the bare bones of the story Grandpa told me and tried to imagine it as it would have been.  The name of the friend was long forgotten by me (if I ever knew it at all), so I took the liberty of using the name of one of his dearest friends, who was also blind, and put it in here in honor of them both. After hours and hours of research, writing, and rewriting, I finally turned in a different version of this piece.  Unfortunately for me, I ultimately decided that none of this fits in the essay I'm  trying to write, so it's back to the drawing board.  

However, I didn't want to waste what I'd done, so I hope you'll enjoy it!  I'd also love to get some feedback.  Let me know what's working, and what isn't.  I promise to surface again soon... :)

September 28, 2010

Ahhh... Sweet Victory!

The words I have come to fear most in life are these:

"MOMMMMMM... I need help with my math homework!!!" Savannah, my 6th grader urgently calls to me, night after night.  Sometimes I stay where I am, hoping she'll figure it out on her own and leave me out of it, or at least if I'm quiet enough she'll think I've gone outside.  I've already been through 6th grade, thank you very much, and once was enough.


Resigned to my fate, I trudge into the bedroom where Savannah sits scowling at the computer, and I peek over her shoulder to the screen to look at the problem: good old Number 22.  Of course, it just has to be a story problem; it always is.  Story problems and I had a parting of the ways 'round about 4th grade, and we've hated each other ever since. Who cares what "X" is, and why can't they just come out and tell you?  In English they teach you to write succinctly, leaving out the fluff and including only the stuff that matters.  Well, apparently X matters, so why not just give it to us straight instead of trying to confuse us?!  The only "X" I ever liked was the X-Files, you know that great 90's show with FBI agents Scully and Mulder? Man I loved that show!  Remember the episode where... Oops - I digress... Math does that to me.

After the sobbing (mine) subsides, I take another look at the problem.

"Okay, where's your book?"
"We don't have one.  We just have to learn in class and then do the worksheet that's on the math website at home."

Well of course... what use would there be in sending a book home for students to learn from?  And what, exactly, did I pay a "Textbook Fee" for when I handed over the many hundreds of dollars it took to register my kids for their "free" public education a mere four weeks ago?

Sighing, I read the problem again, grabbed a notebook, and stole Savannah's pen.  I put myself in time-out in the kitchen and gave myself a pep talk:  "Okay Tracy - You are a grown woman!  You have a brain in your head, now use it!  You are an English major, and you are not going to be scared by a wimpy little consonant on a piece of paper!"  Within a few minutes, I figured it out, then went in and taught Savannah how to do it.

I am so pumped up right now, I feel like I could take on a polynomial or two, or at least a little long-division.  OH YEAH, BABY.  BRING IT ON!!!

August 27, 2010

New Family Member

Savannah (11) has been going through that phase for several years where she constantly asks why she can't have a baby sister (emphasis on the sister part - I guess she thinks we have more than enough testosterone in the house).  I have kindly explained to her again and again that MAMA'S ON THE HOME STRETCH!! I'm no longer medically able to have children, what with getting my tubes tied and then a little thing called a hysterectomy shortly thereafter just for good measure.

She's finally gotten the fact that I, physically, am not going to have a baby just so she'll have a plaything whose hair she can fiddle with when the feeling hits.  So she's moved on to adoption, especially since some friends at church have adopted several children from Haiti.  I can count on at least one pleading-for-adoption conversation a week and, failing that, discussions about the children she's going to adopt when she gets married (which I think is great; nothing wrong with it. I'm sure by the time she's 43, which is when she's allowed to begin dating, she'll be mature enough to make that commitment). We've even had conversations about fantasy children that I might adopt.

HER: "So if you HAD to adopt, what would you get?"
ME: "I don't have to, so there's no point talking about it."
HER: "But say you did..."
ME: "I don't, so it's not going to happen."

{Repeat conversation 23 times}

HER: "What if we became filthy rich, could we at least adopt a horse?"
ME: "Huh?!!!  How'd we move to horses?"

Lately, though, Tom and I have been talking about a new addition to our household.  We've talked, looked over the budget, debated, listed the pros and cons, talked about whether we could love her like the others, even if she was different.  This is not a decision to take lightly or on a whim, so we've just been discussing it and playing it by ear.  We hadn't even really talked about specifics - what characteristics we were hoping for. 

Earlier this week, however, he did the unexpected and brought her home, paperwork already filled out: fully and finally a member of our family.

Isn't she beautiful?!!!  :)  

She's the lone Nissan in a family full of Chevy's and GMC's, but I know with a little love and tenderness, she's going to fit in just fine...

August 21, 2010


The boys both came home last Sunday, very late.  Braden, of course, had only been gone for little over two weeks (although it really seemed like much longer), but Evan had been gone for 11.  In some ways that time sped by, and in others it lasted forever...

Anyway, I was very excited and anxious to have EVERYONE home where they belong.  Evan's girlfriend Cheyann came with Savannah and me to the airport to pick them up; we figured we'd have just enough room in my car for the five of us plus luggage. After a wait, we got their luggage and lugged it all out to the car and hit the road.

As we were driving home, Braden asked if we could please, please, please stop somewhere to get something to eat as it was almost midnight and they hadn't yet had dinner.  I pulled off at a McDonald's just off the freeway near Roy, but noticed that there were about 5-6 cop cars in one half of the parking lot, lights going, and many men in uniform milling around, which was a little strange.  However, there were several cars in the drive-thru, so they obviously hadn't closed the McDonald's so I got in line.  We ordered our food and were pulling forward when all of a sudden, my car died.

"Hmmm... I must have let off too much on the clutch," my tired brain whispered to me.  So I pushed the clutch all the way to the floor and tried again. 


You know where I'm going with this. There were other cars behind us, so the boys (Evan in his Class A uniform) had to get out and push us out of the line.  I had to walk through the drive-thru to get our order (something I would have loved to do when I was about 14, but not so much now) and then back to the now-defunct and dejected looking car.

Tom had just replaced the radiator in it 2 weeks previously, so I knew it hadn't overheated (besides, I've been paying close attention to that when I was having the problems with the radiator). So what could it be?  I called Tom, then called again, and again.  Drat - he's a heavy sleeper, IF he even had his phone nearby.  More than half the time he leaves it in his truck at night so he won't forget it the next day. I felt like there were too many of us to pile into a tow truck, and besides all of which, I'd probably have to sell one of the kids to pay for the tow!  I finally broke down and called my mom, knowing that I was probably going to scare her to death with such a late call.  She got my uncle on the phone and he walked me through checking the radiator, etc.  I finally told him to listen to the sound it was making, so I got in, pushed in the clutch and turned it over, when of course it fired right up!  I hurriedly loaded all the kids back in the car (they were eating on the grass and watching the crime scene investigation as it played out) and off we went to my parent's, where Dave promised to take a look. 

Once there my mom convinced me to take her car home so that we wouldn't break down in the canyon and become cougar-bait or worse :). We finally made it home, but it was close to 2:00 a.m., then Evan and I stayed up talking until almost 4:00 a.m. which is a good thing since I haven't had more than 5 minutes with him since - he's been busy visiting friends and running around, trying to shove an entire summer into a week before school starts.  On another note, he also bought his first vehicle, but that's a story for another day!

Welcome home boys - now PUSH!

August 15, 2010

The Final Countdown

So excited!  I get to see BOTH my boys in 4 hours and 38 minutes.  But who's counting...???  :-)

So, before I leave for the airport to pick them up, I thought I'd better hurry and get the rest of our vacation photos up.  You know, closing down this chapter and starting a new one!  So, I'll be light on words (y'all can thank me later!) and heavy on photos.

So after we deserted the RV resort from hell, we made our way to Durango, Colorado which I swear is a little slice of heaven dropped down to earth.  Scenery was beautiful, the town is charming, the RV resort we found was SO FRIENDLY, and there was even a pool for the kids.  The sad thing is, when making the original reservations I had narrowed it down to this one and Satan's playground.  Ah well... live and learn!

Anyway, we rode the Durango to Silverton old narrow-gauge railroad which was the highlight of the trip for all of us.  I have never been so enchanted in all my life.  The trip takes you high into the San Juan mountains to places that are only reachable by backpacking, helicopter, or the train.  Stunningly gorgeous does not even begin to describe it!

Beware - you never know what monsters lurk in the deep!
See that curve?  It was tight, and man was there a drop-off!
One of my favorite parts of the trip:  Because it's a steam engine, they have to do a "blow-down" at several stops along the way to clear out the minerals that are deposited in the bottom due to the water.  You also stop once each way to get more water, which is pumped up from the river in the valley below.  It was soooo cool!
For a reasonable price you could buy a souvenir coffee mug and have it refilled endlessly.  Here, I think Braden had consumed at least 3 coffees with caramel and whipped cream!
And here, the inevitable sugar-crash... :)
After a 3.5 hour train ride, we reached the old mining town of Silverton.  Here we had lunch, then wandered around taking in the sights. 
With all the cool, old buildings to see, Tom found an old Army vehicle to crawl around.  I don't believe there was a single square inch under, around, or on top that he didn't check over! This is not an uncommon theme for him... :)

August 11, 2010

Fun with Photos

Tomorrow was supposed to be the day that Evan flies home from Basic Training, after graduation in the morning.  Josh and Braden drove to Fort Jackson today in order to surprise him for "Family Day," and they are attending his graduation tomorrow.  Anyway, Ev was supposed to fly in tomorrow night at 11:30 p.m., which late hour, I will admit, I was not that excited about.  But then Josh was able to arrange for him to return to Tennessee with him tomorrow, and then he and Braden will both fly home together on Sunday.


So now I wait for 3 more days... Sigh...

Actually, even though I was looking forward to it, I can wait 3 more days (after all, what's that after 10+ weeks?), and I'm really glad that the brothers are all getting time to be together.  With the way they're all growing up so fast, this may be one of the last opportunities they have for this.

Anyway, I will continue with the photos from our trip in the next day or two, but tonight I wanted to show off a few more from my photography class, which also fit nicely with the "Everyday Things" assignment for You Capture, along with a few I've played with in my favorite new toy, Adobe Lightroom.  What an AWESOME program, and I've barely scratched the surface! Most photos are SOOC, including the first photo of both the flower and the truck.  The ones I've played with are fairly obvious :).

I would love to hear some feedback...

And finally, by popular demand (Nicole :)  )

August 9, 2010

Vacation - Part I

As promised, here's more from the vacation, almost two months behind us now... :(

We began our adventure with a stop in Moab to spend the night.  We stayed at a rinky-dink RV park right in town where trailers were what seemed like a mere 2 feet apart.  I may exaggerate a little, but not much.  We had several spots to choose from, so we picked a nice looking area and got set up.  Shortly after, Tom and Bray went driving around town to see the sights, leaving Savannah and me to get dinner and relax.  Five minutes after they left, a biker gang (and not the Christian Motorcycle group either!) pulled in and set up camp in the 3 vacant spots right across from us.  The rest of our evening was spent watching them get more and more drunk, but at least it was entertaining.

The next day, after visiting the Hole in the Rock, we drove to our destination, an RV place near Dolores, Colorado.  When we were planning our vacation, I had studied up on all the RV parks in southwestern Colorado, spending countless hours weighing the pros and cons of each.  I finally settled on the one I made reservations for because it *seemed* like it was in a central location for all we wanted to do, had a river running right through, had fire rings for my campfire-loving honey, and had the widest spots so we could spread out and enjoy ourselves.  They also advertised themselves as being "family friendly," with a playground even, so I booked us for 3 nights.  Boy was I wrong!  Although it was a beautiful spot, it was much further away from things than I had thought (sure didn't look far on Google maps!), and the majority of the inhabitants were a motley collection of the world's most cantankerous senior citizens.  If they didn't have a seething hatred for children and large dogs, they were apparently not allowed in.  From the moment we entered, we endured glares, and you could almost sense an evil aura, something I never would have believed in before.

On our second day there, after an incredible half-day at Mesa Verde National Park, we happily returned to our campsite to find half a dozen (at least) gathered around our trailer.  Seems Stitch, our black lab (who's the world's biggest couch potato - the doggy-version of a slug), had been crying the entire time we were gone.  We had left him in his crate, which he loves and where he will purposely stay for hours, knowing that if we had just tied him up he would have cried.  However, rather than just leave him be, several of our new neighbors took it upon themselves to camp out at our campsite and wait to lynch us for our abuse when we returned.  Never one to disappoint, Stitch howled mournfully the whole time they sat there.  Had they left him alone, he would have quieted down within minutes.  It was quite the experience, and one I certainly hope to never repeat.  I won't repeat some of the things that were said to us, but if my children ever acted like those so-called caring adults did, they would have found themselves in some serious trouble.

Anyway, after that we decided that we'd had enough of that RV park and forfeited our final night's deposit in favor of friendlier accommodations; preferably one where they didn't eat small children. 

Regardless, we really did have a great time at Mesa Verde, and even went on a paid tour of the Balcony House ruins which are reported to be some of the most well-preserved in the park.  The pictures from our whole trip were all shot in automatic, just because I hadn't taken my class yet.  I'm thinking a do-over is in order, minus Dolores!