Category Archives: Family

Zone of Totality …

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So there was this thing about 10 days ago that created a sensation across the states (and the world) … the total solar eclipse. Now I’m not an astronomer (I tried, but I can’t stay up all night), and it’s taken me almost my whole lifetime to learn the names of and recognize the phases of the moon. But I LOVE eclipses; total or otherwise.  I haven’t traveled across the world to watch one (or I haven’t yet), but after being an eye witness in the Zone of Totality I just might.

We’re ready … total solar eclipse 2017

Check the light, the sun is about 1/2 covered and the night wind started blowing.

When the hype started 5-6 months ago I realized that our little ‘ranch’ although not in the exact center of the path was in the zone and I immediately thought PARTY!! And what a party it was … 17 peeps made a 7 hour trek to experience totality, plus our next door neighbors (next door meaning they get in their truck to get to our place).  The hype and Facebook and twitter and newspaper articles are awash with photographs … I heard folks were disappointed they didn’t turn into vampires, at least that was one rumor floating around… yeah, well … it’s what I heard.

This is soooo cool!

So, just 2 days before the eclipse I was talking to my little sister about how I wanted to experience things and stop seeing them through my camera lens … My point was I spend too much time ‘capturing’ the moment rather than ‘living’ the moment. So, what did I do? I wasted precious time trying to ‘get a shot’ of what my eyes were seeing (which didn’t work) and I wasted time that I could have seen the stars that came out, I could have, I could have … but I didn’t. But I will when I see the next total eclipse August 12, 2045 which goes dead-center over Utah, and after all I’ll only be 91 … guess that’s something to put on my I need to see and experience again list.

What else do you do at Grandpa’s ranch but ride the 4-wheeler

Just so you know that I did invite everyone I know and talked to in Boise and surrounding areas to come up and see the Total Eclipse … and what did I hear? “It’ll be 99.5% total here, why should I drive 2 hours north and get stuck in traffic”? What’s the difference? What’s the difference? It’s like running 26.195 miles of a marathon and stopping because 99.5% is good enough”. It’s like Neil Armstrong peeking out the window of the lunar module and saying, “this is close enough”.

In the Zone of Totality
Photograph Credit: Wyatt Taylor (yes, he’s my gson) Follow his Instagram @ High_Peaks_Adv and webpage

We were Here! We experienced the light dim to colors I’ve yet to have words to describe, to feel the temperature drop 15+ degrees and the night winds start blowing, to keep tipping solar viewing glasses up and down to see the light change, to look at the corona, to see the colors change again.  Then to watch that brilliant blast of solar light as the sun exploded into the beyond just as the moon slipped infinitesimally past  totality … it was a diamond ring.

But I missed stars! and I WANTED to see the stars. What a hard lesson that was … again.  My lesson? Be Here Now!

What an AWESOME display of the perfection of the universe and of God’s love to put the planets in such perfect alignment that on August 21, 2017 we were in the Zone of Totality … we saw & felt a Total Solar Eclipse!

The fam & friends had packed and were on the road before the end of the light show .. attempting to make it to the interstate before the throngs plugged the 2  lane running past our house.  It was a good plan, but an hour south they became part of the miles of traffic stoppage with other like-minded folks.

The total eclipse was worth it, and to add to our excitement Saturday night we had a 3 hour find Max the Schnauzer (dog with a heart condition) scavenger hunt. After many tears and recriminations he was found under a bush 100 yards from the house after a search of 90+ acres, and several miles of the rails to trails.

Idaho Eclipse Weekend Artifact; found in clothes dryer. Finder quoted saying, “I thought I said NO”.

Not to be outdone, Sunday was the evening of the RATTLESNAKE ! My theory is the old school gangsta rap they were listening to called the snake across 30 feet of burnt dirt and rocks, to hunker under the trailer & coil up next to the boombox between two girls.  Later the daughter discovered that No to a 10 year old son isn’t no to his grandpa.

Isn’t Life Grand?

Where will you be for the next Total Eclipse? https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/future/

 

Chills, a Nudge & Footsteps

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Hyrum C & Isabella Murdock Nicol Homestead Uintah  County, Utah. Settled 1906

Five years ago I was in Duchesne (pronounced Do-Shane) Utah over the 4th of July on a fire assignment … before in-briefing I spent a couple of hours in the county records office researching the homestead my great grandparents had near there. I was able to get a copy of the ledger page showing the final patent they received and the sale of the homestead. Just before we left for another assignment, a few friends and I drove up Sower’s Canyon and found the old place which is now inside the Uintah-Ouray Reservation. We took pictures, Dick made a video and at home I found a photo of my great-grandfather and grandfather outside the door of that cabin. It gave me the chills.

Well, lately the “Indian Ranch” has come to mind more than a few times; I don’t know why, but I have learned that when something comes to mind without a reason it’s something I should pay attention to. The attention I’ve been paying to the nudge has lead me to read old newspapers, searching for my great-grandfather’s name. Eureka! There were more than a few articles and advertisements found; one or two with my great-grandmother’s name also. So I’m on a hunt. For what, I’m not sure, but I’m certain in time it will be revealed.

In the meantime I had a wander through old newspapers. They’re fascinating, filling the bulletin board of a frontier and homesteader’s life: Who is traveling, who is sick, who changed jobs, who built a barn, bought a cow or a horse, put up fence in record time, or bought a murder house cheap. The insights into the world of frontier homestead towns and people had me thinking of the hard life and many sacrifices they made to build a country from nothing but raw materials and their hands. A big box store wan’t around the corner to pick up an extra board, saw blade, or food. They cut the trees, forged the iron, plowed the fields and built canals and dams in the desert to water those fields, their cattle, their gardens and themselves. They were no strangers to government greed and graft, religious contention, migration and immigration problems, financial market fluctuations, divorce, and violence.  I highly recommend a perusal through the Utah Digital Newspapers project if you have Utah ancestors or even just want to peer back in time.

So as I sit here, hooched up in my air conditioned room, on a comfy couch, sipping a smoothie after an early morning golf game peeking into the windows of my ancestors lives and I’ve decided I’m grateful that it’s not the time I was called to live in … because I know that I’m soft, and expect water from the tap, commodities in the store just down the street, instant communication, and stuff to do, places to go, access to everything I could ever want or need at my finger tips and once ordered they’ll show up on the doorstep tomorrow.

I also realize I live under the same sun, watch the same moon and stars each night, and by walking (figuratively or not) their trails and holy places, I follow their footsteps and I’m grateful for the realization and knowledge that I am part of an eternal chain of life; mother and father to child, as far back as life itself.  Now it is I  who is great-grandmother and I ask myself, what story will I leave behind? Where are the prints of my footsteps heading?

 

 

 

 

7 Days 7 National Parks … RED ROCKS TOUR 2017

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We’re Baaaack! If you were wondering whether I had truly packed too much into our southern Utah/northern Arizona red rock road trip … the answer is Nope! I surprised myself that the sack was just big enough and not too full. It is possible to smorgasbord a little bit here and a little bit there and taste some of the wonders of my favorite part of the world … whetting the appetite for more, and more, and more.  Of course, the more and more is for another adventure. It always comes down to too little time and soooo much to do, see, learn & experience.

So, after planning, mapping, and anticipating this 8 day adventure (not counting the going there and getting home days) I can recommend this Itinerary with the caveat that in my experience, going to a National Park after Memorial Day is only for the strong of heart and crowd loving. That said, even two weeks before the official start of the summer travel season the National Parks, camp sites, view points, restaurants, and highways were FILLED. It was a shocker to my system.

We officially started our road trip from American Fork Utah when we met up with the cousins from PA , driving their rented from Salt Lake City RV America motor home. On to Moab, Utah where we arrived to find EVERY campground full, every side track FULL, and finally found an unpopulated gravel pit 10-12 miles down SR 313 toward Dead Horse Point, off of a side road. I’m not kidding, any area that would accommodate a tent, a car, a trailer or RV was taken.  So beware.

Delicate Arch … there is Always someone beneath it. Sigh.

Arches National Park, by 9 am was almost bumper to bumper to the Delicate Arch parking lot. The hike to the arch is worth the effort. Honestly! In the evening Dead Horse Point, showed off the river and canyons with joy. Albeit with cold wind and gray clouds making us hurry more than usual. I was murmuring outloud that I wished the sun would come out and put the canyon walls on display. Someone took ‘offense’ at my remarks, saying something like This is Beautiful … what more could you want? If you’ve never seen a golden sunset on red rock walls and reflecting from the ribbon of river wound through the country below … well, you can want more than flat light.

Island in the Sky never fails to inspire the heart and soul and the walk along the rim shows wonders yet to explore (next time). Then off to Bluff, Utah … pioneer history, Hovenweep … ancient history, Butler Wash … even more ancient history, then Monument Valley … John Wayne history (think Nathan Biddles in the 1949 movie, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon), and onto the southern route to the Grand Canyon.

Monument Valley: We didn’t see Forrest Gump, but did see a group of Japanese kids recreating the iconic scene!

 

We turned onto a Kaibab National Forest road about 8 miles from the south entrance and found a grand camping site. Then the wind and rains came.

It’s May … not Elk Camp in the Fall!!

Here were are, in ski hats and winter coats (we could have been at fall elk camp it was so cold). In fact, the next morning traveling toward the gate at the south entrance to the park there was SNOW on the ground. Not just a skiff, but large patches. And I was into layers of jackets and a coat to stay warm.

What can I say about the Grand Canyon that isn’t a cliche? It’s is an experience everyone should aspire to behold. Photographs, paintings, watercolors, mixed media interpretations just can’t open the heart to its immensity and timelessness.

Packing up that afternoon we were again on the road through Cameron AZ toward the Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monument where we arrived too late for a camp spot at the Stateline campground near the Wire Pass Trailhead … so morning found us waking up in the trail head parking lot, along with several others.

Buckskin Gulch

The hike into Wire Pass and a right turn into Buckskin Gulch slot canyon(s) is always a wonderland of experiences … and this one was no exception. The usual drop over the rock at the mouth of the first slot was made much harder from last fall’s rainstorms which washed out the landing area … the drop was far greater than the last visit. Getting back up was accomplished only because we arrived at the same time folks were starting the drop. A big push from below, a huge tug from above … no skinned knees, but it was a blessing ‘fer shur’.

The last stage of the trip, a night in Kanab, dinner at Houston’s Trails End,  and some sand scraping before the final day at Zion National Park. Description? ZOO, it was a ZOO! There were so many people and cars, trucks, motorcycles, trailers, RVs, bicycles and hikers that I went into sensory overload. We hit the road north early and stayed the night camped at my mom’s in Orem, which was a smile on my heart.

Last night of the trip found us in Salt Lake City, at the Little America Motor Lodge … ah, a long hot shower, dinner with some of the Utah fam and Sunday morning to sit in the historic Tabernacle at Temple Square and listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (for FREE)! Wonderful.

I slept most of the way home to Boise.  So, chalk up another 2100 plus mile road trip that’d I’d take again in a heart beat and stick around a few areas a while longer … that stick around a while longer is already added to “The List”.

 

Catchin’ Up & Road Trips

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I’m still wearing a jacket going outside … it’s supposed to be spring, isn’t it? It’s rained so much in Boise I haven’t gotten my peas in the ground, and I’ve given up on the whole lettuce thing. I haven’t pruned my grape vines and they are running amok already, just like the blackberry bush. I guess you could say I’m being a lazy gardener … or rather, I’m a blue sky gardener just like I’m a blue sky skier.  Then I remember my grade school rhymes: April showers bring May flowers. There must be a reason it’s in a rhyme, rain in spring isn’t a punishment, it’s anticipation of reward later. Patience Keri patience.

With no patience,  I am going into avoidance mode … no gardens, lawns, or dirty windows and so I’m tweaking the little campbox on wheels. The designers of the campbox table didn’t really think it through very well. When you decide the mitigation to a lousy design is to add a tie down strap over the table to keep it from falling over don’t you think someone would say, let’s not put that idea into production? Well, someone didn’t make that decision … duh.   First there is a 1 inch gap between the table and the wall, and the table wobbles on 2 aluminum pipe legs. When you place a plate on the table, or lean on it, it tips your food onto your lap.   So last week Sweetie & I took on the table stability issue, building a frame that is screwed onto the floor plate, and is built with a lip the table sits on.

Hey Winnebago … rethink your table design in the Micro Minnie Winnie. Something like this will work! 🙂

A bit of formica, a couple of screws, a few pieces of industrial strength hook tape and the table doesn’t wobble like a Weeble.  Score One for us!

Always one for a party, daughter #2 and I did a down and dirty trip to Utah for Girl’s Night at the Community Theater with the mom, the sisters, Aunts and cousins … and blasted back the following morning.  We did take a quick side trip off of exit 182 on I-84 to oooh and aaaahh over Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. With snow pack melt and lots of rain the falls were booming.  It was worth the detour. 

Tomorrow I’m hitching up and heading south to Boise for final preparation for the 10# in a 1# sack trip to southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  Shopping for, preparing & freezing dinners for those easy to thaw, heat & eat at the end of exploration day meals.  Wouldn’t you like to come back to Creamy Chicken Enchiladas? How about Red Rice & Beans? Of course, one night will be grilled steak … you can’t camp if you don’t have great steak at least once while you’re on the road. Or at least, I can’t.

Just catchin’ ya up on Wanderingkeri … May is already booked out and you CANNOT imagine how EXCITED I am to connect with friends and family from all over the country.  Idaho, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington, & PA … and it’s ONLY MAY!!

 

 

Wandering Vicariously

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I don’t know if I have writer’s block, but today it’s been difficult to come up with anything ‘Wandering’ related … probably because I am not wandering, sauntering, running, jetting, skiing, fishing, skiing, camping, gardening, building, soaking, or even planning to do any of those things right now.

My Mom

My Mom

I am helping my mom who has to be off of her foot for 2 weeks while damaged ligaments heal … it’s nice having her here. We had a tumultuous relationship for decades. We butted heads always … but life has a way of softening edges, opening eyes, and changing hearts.   I’m glad.

It is also allowing me time to enjoy that space in my soul … not cramming it so totally full that my day hasn’t many unaccountable minutes in it. Or using up hours just for the sake of spending them like pennies at the dollar store.

So, my winter wanderings are curtailed for a while. Today, I’m here in my home, with my mom, Squeaks the Cat and mom’s dog Charlie (Kujo in disguise). Sweetie has gone North to his gun shop (Council Mountain Gunworks, LLC) and he hasn’t rubbed it in that he’s going skiing tomorrow … I’ll wander vicariously through him for the next couple of weeks …

 

 

 

#nochristmasbeforethanksgiving #wanderingkeriwins

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My #nochristmasbeforethanksgiving was successful! 30 days of Thanksgiving and No Christmas BEFORE December 1st … that was the journey  I started 30 days ago.  Did you join in?

Dang,  but it was hard to avoid Christmas decorations and the advertisements especially when I had to shop for essentials.  I have become a pro at ignoring the gauntlet of elves, trees, glitter, and HoHoHo’s down each aisle, near each cash register and the insipid all Christmas music stations  playing over every AM/FM band that started in NOVEMBER.

I’m certain I’ll pay a bit more for the few gifts I’m giving this Christmas season, but it was soooo worth it.  Actually thinking about and focusing on my blessings, mentioning something new each day for which I am grateful and thankful for opened my heart to even more thankfulness.  It opened my heart to realize how many, many more blessings I have than I ever thought possible.

In these last hours of the last day of November looking back over my 30 days of thanksgiving and it’s true, for each day of thanksgiving I posted … I thought of 10 more that would mean just as much.  Some things were silly, others heartfelt, and some  at the time seemed quite ordinary … but now I realize, nothing is truly ordinary, is it?

Most of us ... missing ... Steve, Aarin & Bayla ... Pam & Jeff, Clayton, & Breena ... & Chris' wife Cindy

Most of us … missing … Steve, Aarin & Bayla … Pam & Jeff, Clayton, & Breena … & Chris’ wife Cindy

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Ali (holding Mala) , Greg, Peter, and Tessa

November 1: I am grateful for all the wonderful souls in my life. (I can’t put all y’all’s pics here … but you are stuck in my heart forever!)

 

I Pledge Alligence

I Pledge Alligence

Nov 5th: I am soooo thankful to be living in the United States of America! I am grateful to the inspired founding fathers design of a representative republic and the constitution and bill of rights. Don’t take them for granted.

 

Who needs water? Trevi Fountain ... Rome

Who needs water? Trevi Fountain … Rome

Nov 6th: I am so grateful for my sweet husband … he’s a great traveling companion and my best friend!

 

743d8790e9248eb211ac7d6f9ce079d012th: I am so very Thank-Full and Grateful for 20 years of sobriety. Thanks be to God! Even after all these many years, it is still One Day at a Time.

 

6fa1b3ee50b284cc6dbc0b9a13d47e6fDay 13: I’m grateful today that I’ve learned not to take myself so seriously. Life is tooooo short for that!

 

Dad & Mom at the Cabin

Dad & Mom at the Cabin

18th Day: I am in awe and gratitude for the parents I was blessed with. They gave me all they had to give and more … miss you every day dad and I am grateful for a mom who continues to love and cheer me on.

Day 30: I am so grateful for eyes that can see beauty, a heart that loves and can feel love, ears that can hear giggles, the symphony of nature, and kisses. 🙂

I am eternally grateful for my testimony and love for Jesus Christ, my Savior. I am so thankful for the peace that came with repentance and turning my heart to Him. I know that He lives and that He knows me, and knows my name as he knows you.

Thank you for joining me on my 30 days of Thanksgiving journey. I am grateful and love you all! …  Life is Good and We are Blessed!

 

 

#nochristmasbeforethanksgiving

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Hey y’all! I’m holding out for No Christmas before Thanksgiving Day … I’m not buying a gift, or Christmas cards, nope, nothin’. I’m going even more extreme … No Christmas before December 1st! No black Friday for me.

I’m in ponder mode; what am I grateful for. I’ve been remembering how very, very blessed I am.  I’m remembering the days and years that I lacked everything; faith, hope, a steady income, transportation, even a telephone or heat in my house in winter. But I never lacked for love and care from my family and friends. Love I can never repay.

Yesterday I started out my 30 days of thanksgiving with love and gratitude for all of the wondrous souls in my life … obviously there’s not enough room for every picture, or every memory … but … you are all STUCK in my heart. You ‘ain’t’ goin’ no where.  That’s what love is, don’tchaknow?

Hey! Doyawannaknow what 4 days, 925 miles and uncountable smiles looks like?

Me & Beautiful Alexus Gdaughter #2

Me & Beautiful Alexus Gdaughter #2

Thursday: Sister & Friend’s day; pumpkin waffles for lunch then shrimp for dinner. That’s a good way to start a vacation!

Friday: First road trip with my granddaughter Alexus. We went south to visit her dad and my son Clayton. It is so cool to find friendship beyond gma/gdaughter roles!

img_3873Friday Night! 17th Annual Grandma Keri Pumpkin Day hosted at my daughter’s home … (Angie, that’s what happens when your mom moves 500 miles away and keeps having parties when she’s around.  You’re wonderful!)

Kaylee, Alexus & Abby

Kaylee, Alexus & Abby

Saturday started out with a Kneaders Bakery & Cafe for Breakfast with Kaylee Quinn & Abby (we had to eat quickly because we slept in).

Then off to yell loudly for AF at their first cheer competitions of the season with Megan De (Yeah AF! 2nd).

We hustled out of the gym after AF competed and busted over to the semi-final 3rd grade football game with Michael #22.  (sadly they lost)

Chyanne ... Baby Shower!

Chyanne … Baby Shower!

Taking an activity breather, we stopped at home to rid the kitchen floors of pumpkin guts before we headed over to Paradise Bakery where we baby showered Chyanne who’s waiting ‘impatiently’ for my 2nd great-grandchild … ?? Not me! I’m way too young. LOL

Sunday, my travel back north day, I ended my tornado trip with a quiet brunch at Roosters in Layton with my youngest son Steve ON his 35th Bday.

Steve with his Grandpa Keith

Steve with his Grandpa Keith

I was so excited to see him and his wife, Aarin that I totally forgot to take any pictures at all! Maybe my next trip down to familyland we can get together for a photo op.  In the meantime, here’s a flash back.

I am so very grateful for the gifts of love, family and friends. My life would be poor and dark without you.

Remember! #nochristmasbeforethanksgiving