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   Saturday, April 26, 2003  
So much to post, so little time. Home again from the great West. But for Mona Lisa's insistence on exploring the depths of the Sierra Vista emergency room capabilities [Relax, she's fine. Really!], we jam-crammed about as much fun as it is legal to have in the great state of Arizona. OK. So it is packed to the gills with Republicans and fundamentalists but even they can't help but have fun, because it is just lying on the ground waiting to be picked up. NPR was sooo right about Kartchner Caverns. Ok, I admit that I did the secret dance of joy when they announced that we would not encounter bats because the bats get freaked out by too many people [excuse me? They don't want to see us?] , and the tour guide was a tad tightly wrapped [Is that clothing I see?? Near the rocks????] but it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen. And, for what it is worth, as a preservationist, as an historian, as a gardener, it totally rocks. I had a friend in college who was a spelunker and a wonderful story-teller and now, many years later, ok, I get it. [Better late than never] Tom, if you have not seen this yet--you should! Okay, so it may be a rather tame version for us dilittantes but wow, it was fun. And I must also add that in this, our first and hence greatest Western adventure, I was put in mind of Jim Henson, a person I never knew but loved and admired because he was able to capture the general idea of a bear in his natural habitat-- a Studebaker. Yee Ha!
   posted by Andrea at 2:21 AM

   Wednesday, April 23, 2003  
Chloe & Co have moved more than anyone else I know. Hands down. Something tells me, though, that this one may stick. They seem to belong here. Chloe looks very much at home in her cowboy boots. Western, but glamorous as ever and certainly relaxed. Tanned, slim, comfortable on a horse and in her lovely house. I am very happy that they have found a home, even though I wish it were closer.
   posted by Andrea at 2:34 PM

   Tuesday, April 22, 2003  
Here we are off on our Western adventure. From the moment Chloe and The Doodle Bug picked us up at the airport, we have been having non-stop fun, which accounts for my lack of posts. I'll tell you whut, it shore is purty out here! Let's see. On Friday, we went hiking at Chirichaua National Monument. As we oohed and ahhed along the road en route, Chloe kept saying "Just wait. That's nothing." Well, she was right. Imagine gigantic ...no, bigger than that.. red boulders balanced on top of eachother at angles that defy gravity. The sky a brilliant blue, the weather perfect for hiking. Saturday mornig was a trail ride on horses through Huachuca Canyon. Unfortunately, I had a teensy problem loading the film intothe camera I borrowed from Neon Moon [which also helps to explain why I still don't have photos on my site!] so there will be no record of this event. Mona Lisa was in her glory and rode like the pro she is [but is not, repeat, not a "Pony Girl"], her signature smile on her lips. I was pleasantly surprised by The Sprite's performance and not for the last time on this trip. She can be hesitant about new ventures but this was one she embraced without hesitation. This was her first time on a horse but, in the words of Rhett Butler, she was born to be a horsewoman. We will hold off on the blue velvet riding costume just the same. Me? I had fun, didn't fall off or otherwise humiliate myself and counted it a capital adventure!

After riding, we piled into the 21st Century equivalent of the covered wagon [that would be a minvan] and set out for the Canyon. Arizona shore is a big place! We drove and drove and stayed in Williams for the night. The next day, Easter Sunday, we made the Canyon. Neither words nor pictures can do it justice. Mona Lisa described it as "mad beautiful" and that about sums it up as well as anything I can come up with. It isn't just that it is big, although big doesn't begin to describe it. It isn't just that it is beautiful but there s something about it that is almost throbbing. The colors are spectacular, the age and power of it is like a living presence. The day was fine and the crowds were light. We had a wonderful Easter lunch at the very elegant El Tovar Lodge, overlooking the Canyon, thanks to Carol's good suggestion. Thus fortified, we prepared to hike into The Canyon.

OK. My two greatest all tiime fears are that something bad will happen to my children and ...heights. Needless to say, this little adventure combined them both. Add to this the fact that Chloe's 7 year old, Pecos Pete, must climb on and over everything he sees and proceed only at breakneck speed to accomplish this task and you will begin to get a sense of the trepidation with which I approached this hike. The Bright Angel trail , so Chloe assured me, was not scary. To their credit, the children were wonderful. Forty-five minutes was enough for me, though. While I returned to the rim, the rest of the group went on. At the surface, a ranger was giving a presentation abou the California condors in The Canyon. These birds are truly amazing. With wing spans of up to 9', they are a marvel to watch. While I assisted tourists by taking their group photographs in front of The Canyon, Mona Lisa will no doubt appear in the vacation pictures of many young visitors. Something about the Maidenform Woman. Anyway, all in all, a fitting Easter experience.

Yesterday, we happened to go to go to Sunset Crater without a clear idea of what we would find. Chloe described it by saying that you really get the sense of living on a planet when you see places like that. With the last eruption being more than 800 years ago, the slopes are still covered with vast expanses of lava flow with only the smallest plants taking hold. But wait--there's more! Ancient ruins at Wupatki National Monument. Approaching the fringes of "too much fun." we are resting today. Ahh!
   posted by Andrea at 1:42 PM

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