Walkabout: Day 21, Earth, Water & Quintessence

November 9, 2016 ~ Wednesday

6:30a Morning Pages ~ Carlsbad Caverns/Sitting Bull Falls

I am having a harder time getting warmed up this morning. I am boondocking in a picnic area near Sitting Bull Falls. I arrived after dark last night, driving the last 30-ish minutes as the sun completely disappeared from the sky. I realize I still have a fear of the dark. It really hit me as I was walking through the caverns yesterday.

As I was driving, I saw cows right on the side of the road. It scared me at first – to be winding my way through the dark and see this big ole cow face staring at my headlights. Was his sitting?? A moment later, I see another. Then another cluster of them appeared from the dark. And yes, several were actually sitting. I guess that is why they call this area Sitting Bull. I saw it.

I am looking forward to exploring today.

I may spend another day on the grounds of Carlsbad Park as well. There are hiking trails and more caves you can explore. Depends on the weather, as dogs are not permitted.

The Caverns were magnificent. I was totally in awe. And totally aware of my fear. The cave was dimly lit and eerie. I felt my chest tighten and my heart beat faster and weaker. I can hardly believe people explored this area in the dark.

The rock formations were incredible. One reminded me of angel wings. One reminded me of a giant walrus. That one was called the Rock of Ages. One looked like a chiminea with a fire in its belly. Another looked like a totem pole. It was actually called Totem Pole! lol

The mouse is gone. I had to trap it. I used a sticky trap. I feel bad that I feel so happy. I wish it would have left on its own. It’s so quiet in the car now. No more little noises. No more wondering what it might be destroying. I am so very relieved. I know that it was just conducting itself according to its nature. But that nature was destructive to my environment.

I did learn a few things from this experience. The most fascinating was the article I read on the experiments with Mouse Utopia. There are so many parallels to the human race in this day. The two big takeaways for me were:

1. The female mice abandoned their roles as nurturers and child-rearers. As the men withdrew from their responsibilities as providers, the women had to assume this level of care and became uninterested in making a family life.

2. The population congregated in areas, leaving some spaces practically empty and others over-crowded. I see this phenomenon as I drive through cities like San Francisco and then Hope, NM – where the only thing of prominence is the cemetary. I am totally intrigued, and I want to learn more.

I paused to make coffee. I had finally gotten warm enough to go out in the cold. hahaha It is probably cheating on the morning pages, but I am adapting the exercise to my life on the road.

If I stay put today, that would give me at least three more hours of daylight to play with. Imagine what I could do with those three hours. I do need to do some resupply at Carlsbad, and I would choose a camp area closer to where I want to be tomorrow, whether that is the caverns park or on into Texas, I don’t quite know yet.

I feel more hungry today than I have in a while. And my head is a little foggy from the alcohol I drank last night. I am happy to report that I want to drink less and less, the longer I practice at it. I nearly always feel a residual UGH the next morning, even after only two beers. I am also doing great to observe the two drink limit. I could have bought a six pack last night. In fact, that was the only option to have a local brew. But I did not want to be stuck with six beers and all the trouble that could lead to.

There is dog hair everywhere in the car! It would be nice to spend a little time cleaning it out before I hit the road again. I need to refill my water supply too. that is what I could do with the extra time today. Find a park or library, spend some time in Carlsbad with internet connection. Figure out a general strategy for the next week. Assess my money. Communicate with Julianne, Oklahoma family, Cameron & Julia. I can unwrap my fruit basket too, now that the mouse is gone.

It occurred to me yesterday that I have experienced each of the four elements in the natural phenomenon I have explored these last three days. Fire in the Valley of Fires lava flow; Air in the windswept dunes of White Sands; Earth in the caverns of Carlsbad; and Water today at Sitting Bull Falls. It seems there is some significance here, and one worthy of my attention.

I will certainly post about it, but how to make the most of that post? I am truly excited at the falls visit. Oh and I can see a bull from where I sit right now. 🙂

Walkabout: Day 20, Fire & Air

November 8, 2016 ~ Tuesday

8a Morning Pages ~ Brian’s Canyon, Cloudcroft, NM

I am headed to Carlsbad Caverns today. I was going to get a short hike in here in Cloudcroft, but I had to change my plans. I was kept up much of the night with the mouse scurrying and chewing. I can’t stand it anymore. I googled how to get mice out of your car, and it turns out they can cause some severe damage if left unchecked.

That is the last thing I need. My life is in my car for the next three months (maybe beyond). I have to protect it. I think it is making its burrow under my driver’s seat. I will buy a couple of traps today, bait them with peanut butter, and get the job over with.

I really didn’t want to kill him. I just wanted to remove him. But he won’t go of his own accord, and I have to take action to protect my things – and my precious sleep!

Which makes me think… I have not been remembering my dreams here lately. That was one of the wonderful things I enjoyed about getting sober. I was dreaming again, and I was learning so much from the symbolism in my dreams.

The last night I was intoxicated was the Saturday night I spent with Mark & Ali. The nights of the ruins hikes I had a couple of beers, and I had two glasses of wine with Tanya. Other than that, nada. YAY!! But why am I not dreaming? My dreams are important to me and to my education.

I have been on the road almost three weeks now. I have crossed four states and have seen amazing sights. But I feel like I have been somewhat disconnected and rushed.

I had pictured myself reading and writing and getting in tune with my deeper self, my instincts, my feminine and intuition. Instead, I am too concerned with not wasting a day, and I have been jumping from here to there with barely enough time to eat, sleep and see something.

Like yesterday at White Sands. I should have sat in that sand, had a snack and a thought, maybe taken the sunset stroll. But I was too concerned with the time, with making camp before dark. I missed making a good experience really great.

I have two weeks left until Thanksgiving, and I still have a lot of ground to cover. And I still have plenty of time to accomplish what I set out to do.

I choose to believe that everything has happened exactly the way it was supposed to happen. I am learning and growing. I am interacting with people freely, and I don’t feel pressured or stressed.

I am conserving and protecting my resources. I am “going with the flow”. I am moving by intuition and not by planning in advance. I have changed my relationship to alcohol.

I am texting my sister, my family and friends. I am sharing myself on Facebook, being more meaningful, intimate, even a little vulnerable. I am an agent of love and a channel of grace.

I am healing my body and my mind with simple, whole foods, less meat, less alcohol, more movement. I am challenging myself physically, mentally, emotionally. Spiritually, I am open to whatever God wants to teach me, and I revel in the revelation of his glory in nature.

The Valley of Fires was so very curious. I believe I read that the lava did not flow down from a volcano but flowed up from a fissure in the earth’s crust. It flowed 4-5 miles wide and 127 miles long, devouring everything in its tracks.

I walked over that lava and marveled at its shape, its harsh reality. And yet it supports life. Things actually grown and live there, plants and animals have adapted.

White Sands was glorious! Incredible! I was brought to tears by how magnificent it was. Stark white sands that stretched out as far as I could see. I hiked alone nearly the entire way. Warm sun and cool breeze, and the chorus of Circle in the Sand playing in my head. Otherwise, my thoughts were empty, and I just WAS. I was at peace.

I need to refresh my supplies while I am out today.

10:15a Tamara just called me, and we must have talked for an hour or so. She wanted to know if I was planning on going to Myrtle Beach this year. She found out so much more, as did I. We talked – really talked, for the first time in years, that I can remember.

The last time we spoke like this was the last weekend in the Outer Banks together, before she went mad. It was wonderful. We talked about the paths we are walking and shared some of our experiences.

We talked about the language of symbols, how they work their “magic” even if we don’t understand them. She sent me her Sri Yantra and told me about Yog, the 10th letter of the Hebrew alphabet and primal voice of nature.

Walkabout: Day 19, #nomakeup

November 7, 2016 ~ Monday

5:45a Morning Pages ~ South of Albuquerque, NM

Thank you, daylight savings time! I guess I should be grateful for that extra hour of sunshine I have been enjoying. We did our “fall back” on Sunday, so last night the sun set an hour earlier than I anticipated. I thought I was chasing sunlight before! I may need to start spending two days in each locale – one to get there and one to enjoy it. That would give me much more time to write and to explore, and less time just sitting in the car. I think I will do another calculation on days and miles and see what time might allow me to do.

The horizon is tinting orange and yellow in front of me as I am parked facing east this morning. A bit more light, and I will put my coffee on.

With the car running, the mouse has retreated and stopped its incessant chewing. I need to figure out what I am supposed to learn from him. Well, “figure out” is not the right term. I need the lesson to be revealed to me. I have said that I am open. I am writing that I am open too. What do you want me to learn??? I really do want him gone – or under my control. He is a source of anxiety I don’t really need right now.

Is that the lesson? That I need everything under my control – or gone? I thought I was relaxing control. I thought this trip was about learning to go with the flow. I feel like I am doing that.

Yesterday was all about disappointments and ealing with them, and feeling like I had made poor choices and dealing with that.

The view of the Rio Grande Gorge from the Taos Bridge was supposed to be beautiful, but all I could see was fog. I was excited to see there was a guided tour of the Taos Pueblo – the longest inhabited, working pueblo in the states (1000+years), but I rushed to get there, and the pueblo was closed.

I wandered into Taos, and I just didn’t like the vibe. It felt touristy to me, instead of feeling authentic (like Mendocino did). I didn’t want to stay, and I didn’t have money to spend either.

So I decided on the Enchanted Circle driving tour. I stopped and read all of the markers, and it was pretty enough, but I have already seen more majesty from the freeway on this trip, and it caused me an extra two hours in the car.

By the time I approached Albuquerque, I was toast. And I still had another 1.5 hours to the campsite I wanted. I dealt with all of that after sundown.

Was it a mistake to go to Taos? Did I just waste my day and my gas? How was I to know how things would work out, until I went there?

6:45a I took a moment to prepare my coffee and breakfast, which will be oatmeal (five grain), almond butter, and an orange. I have been debating whether I should record my meals. I am quite surprised how so little can sustain me. Until I am physically challenged. Then the first think I think is that I haven’t been eating enough.

I feel like I need to rush, to hurry up and get on the road, but I know that isn’t true. I decided on my activities and camps for the next two days, and I added up the hours for driving and exploring, and I know I have plenty of time. I am in a safe place, and no one is going to come kick me out. I am warm, Justice is content, still curled up on the sleeping bag in the back.

Why do I feel like I need to hurry? This is the exact pace I want to keep – relaxed, mindful, observant, thoughtful, present, aware, joyful, contemplative.

Today is Day 19. I am going to post about my necklace and the logarithmic spiral and what that means to me. I have already done my download here. Edward will be calling me at eight, just when I am ready to head southwest toward the lava fields.

We may be seeing each other over the Thanksgiving holiday. We had not planned on it. Dad does not have much space this year, and Jennifer has made it abundantly clear that she does not want to go the last two years. But I guess things have changed. Edward says she has been asking about it, a few times since he has been back in Virginia. But she only really wants to go because she wants to enjoy the beach, the pool, the hot tub, the lazy river, etc. It has nothing to do with me or my family. I don’t suppose I should expect it to.

I guess I have allowed a little girl and her hurt feelings to hurt my feelings in return. I should be grateful that she wants to come, whatever the reason, and use the opportunity to try to establish a relationship again. I tried before, only to be snubbed by her, and I refuse to play her power game. I just withdrew, and I let her have her space. I wasn’t going to chase her.

Edward’s mother either. I was totally snubbed by her as well. Now she has been coming around too, all because of the engagement. She never took me seriously until then.

There is a part of me that wants to shut them out now, and give them a taste of their own medicine. But this is my lower, shadow self, and I have the ability to choose love instead.

Where will I take my picture of my necklace for the Instagram / Facebook post? Shall I wear it and make it a selfie? That is probably the best idea. Then I can add the #nomakeup, which means more than the fact that I am not wearing any makeup. 😉

6:30p Brian’s Canyon Camp, near Cloudcroft, NM

Has lunch today just before our hike – I mixed a fist full of raising with about a cup of granola. I dumped it into the cup I saved from the casino and munched on it while strolling along the Interdunes Boardwalk at White Sands National Monument. I was preparing for the real hike, a five mile dune scramble called Alkali Flats, rated strenuous and anything but flat.

Edward just called, we chatted, and now I am feeling really sleepy. I will talk about White Sands in my morning pages tomorrow.

Dinner was delicious! I arrived at camp with enough time to boil the water for my goodies – hot blueberry tea and hummus. I had a dry powder hummus mix from my prep shopping, and I hadn’t tried it yet. I knew I needed ample, dense calories tonight after all of the day’s activities. You add boiling water, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon, and mix until thick. Oh it was tasty! I had two large carrots and some triscuits to go with it, and my belly is very happy. 🙂

Plan to visit Carlsbad Caverns tomorrow. It is a three hour drive, and the last hike into the caves is at 2:30p. That means a departure no later than 11a. There is a hike near me in Cloudcroft that I would like to get in before I go – three miles, so figure 1.5 hours (easy rating). If I start the hike by 9a, being conservative, I should have plenty of time. So backing that up, a leisurely breakfast, reset the car for travel, and viola! It’s a done deal.

I need to clean up too. Sandy. 😀

Walkabout: Day 18, Mile 3730

November 6, 2016 ~ Sunday

6:15a Morning Pages ~ Taos, NM

I spent the day with Tanya yesterday, so I did not have an opportunity to do my morning pages. She was late meeting me in Santa Fe on Friday night. She used her member status to check us in to a casino hotel for the night for free (for her. I had to pay a $50 pet fee!) She also had $70 meal credit, $35 in free play at the casino, and a free two hours of bowling with a hot dog, chips and fountain drink for each of us.

It was very generous of her to use her member credits on me. She wanted to show me a good time, even though she was broker than broke and in a serious life pickle. I appreciated that. I pulled out the bottle of Rivulet I had wanted to share with her as my thank you gift.

Her birthday is November 19, and she is a Scorpio. And I was just thinking I had no Scorpio friends. She owns it.

While I waited for her on Friday evening, I browsed the shop that she works at. There was a ton of turquoise jewelry. Jackpot! I have been looking for a piece of turquoise, a necklace in particular, to help open my throat chakra. I saw many beautiful pieces. Then I saw *the one*.

It was a necklace with a shell pendant, and that shell pendant was a perfect display of the logarithmic spiral! The tail of the shell was inlaid with turquoise. I would later find out the shell itself is a fossil. I met one of the artists who collaborated on this piece, Susan Handelsman. She worked with Nate Paleo, the rock man from Jackalope, she called him. She said it as though I should know the name. I can hardly wait to Google him.

She called the shell an Abalone and said the other beads were Heishi stone. None of these she knew the spellings of, so I will have to do a little research! This is a truly exquisite, one of a kind piece of art that I get to wear around my neck. And it was the perfect find in New Mexico to punctuate this journey I am on.

I have been enamoured with the logarithmic spiral since a dream I had several months ago. [You can find that journal entry/blog post here.] Unlike a standard spiral, which circles back on itself in equidistant curls, the logarithmic spiral grows in distance from the center point at each circle, by mathematical precision, so that each loop spreads itself further and further away from its origin.

It is a symbol of a life of learning and growing and developing to me. We do not live in a linear fashion, traveling from point A to B to C to D in a straight line. I am learning that life is more akin to cycles, and we often repeat the same patterns and lessons over and over again. But we grown in the process (if we are wise), and each time around we move further and further from our origin. Though we are still the same person, we are far from who we used to be.

The logarithmic spiral occurs naturally in many natural wonders, like shells. To find this combination of turquoise and shell is a true gift from the Universe, and another sign that I am on the right path. I can hardly believe my good fortune. And she sold it to me for only $80.

I have been listening to Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek on Audible for this stretch of my trip. Scott tells me of his humble beginnings, his love for running and for racing, and his journey to become a vegan athlete.

I have been coming closer and closer to a vegetarian diet, so it has been great to hear the experience of a vegan athlete first hand. My food philosophy has been to “eat as close to how God created it as possible” for some time. Recently, I have started minimizing meat in my diet. I eat largely plant-based foods, and I try to eat as much raw fruits and vegetables as I can each day.

His book has me thinking about running longer races again. The half-marathon was a huge accomplishment for mr. but I did not keep it up. I bowed out of the long runs shortly after, content with my 3-4 miles, 3-4 days/week. Now I am having the inkling of going for the full 26.2.

The Disney half is January 7th and the full is the 8th. I have started thinking I could get serious about training while on this trip and complete the race as an exclamation of my success at creating a new life for myself. The logistical challenges of being on the road are already tough, but I am learning to trust myself, trust my instincts, and I am getting systems down that save me time. Can I add a serious running regimen to all of this?

Take this morning, for example. I had my alarm set for 6a. The plan was to rise, take care of Justice and do my morning pages in the first hour. Done! Then I thought I would gear up and put in a 5k here around the rest area, taking in the sights at this historic marker that I could not see as I drove in the dark last night. But there is a heavy fog this morning. I can’t see what I should see. Would it be safe to run? I would have to loop around and around the rest area, since I can’t see anything else. Boring!!!

But a serious runner would gear up and get out and get it done. Do I really fancy myself a serious runner? Edward is calling me at 7:45 for our a.m. chat, and I want to take the Taos Pueblo tour at 9a. That leaves very little wiggle room. If I am to do this, I need to do it now.

Walkabout: Day 16, Mile 2865

November 4, 2016 ~ Friday

5a Morning Pages ~ Tonto National Forest, AZ

The days are all running together. It feels like I am no longer existing on a linear plane. I am simply in the NOW. What happened yesterday is filed away, and what will happen tomorrow in unknown. All that exists is NOW, this present moment in time.

I slept very soundly last night. I was in my bag at 7p or so and drifted off pretty quickly. I heard the mouse a couple of times, but it didn’t rouse me.

I woke around 4:30a. The first thing I noticed was how good it felt to be wearing my comfies – baggy cotton bottoms and Edward’s TKE sweatshirt. It actually feels good to have no bra on too! That is a first. 🙂

My mission in Arizona was to experience the Pueblo ruins. I did not want the tourist version. I wanted to be the “tombraider”, only I didn’t steal anything. (Well, I did take two rocks from the creek bed; one for me and one for Mom. Red rocks.) I read up online and found areas with archaeological sites that could be hiked into and explored.

My hike yesterday lead me into Rogers Canyon in the Superstition Wilderness. It should have been 4.1 miles out and back, but I got turned around once and actually passed the ruins into Angel Basin, so we ended up putting in ten miles total. That is a personal record for Justice! She has never hiked that far before.

Her little springs wore out, and I had to lift and carry her over some of the taller steps, trees and boulders, but otherwise she did great. I was grateful to have her with me on the trip back, as she pretty much knew and led the way. I should remember not to complain about all of the sniffing she does on the way out. lol

I also had to use legitimate cairns to find my way at times. The trail was very overgrown and sometimes difficult to discern. A cairn from time to time was a most welcome wayfinder. I also used a little ribbon once, which had been tied by a previous hiker. These were good things to learn as a hiker, to help me mark my way in the future. If they do not already exist, and if the path is unclear, these are tools that can help me find my way.

Dern it! I forgot to worship in Tadasana! All I could think about at the end of that hike was resting up for the 1.75 hour off-road trek back down. That was an adventure in itself.

I wonder over these ruins in the desert. What kind of people would choose a desert dwelling? How did they live? There were no trails back then, so how did they travel? How did they choose a “home”? How did they get the building supplies up into those caves? How did they conduct their lives? What things were important to them?

As I looked around that vast canyon, I saw caves all over the craggy sides. I wondered how many of them once housed living people, hundreds of years ago, hundreds of years before the white man came and claimed it all for himself. I love my country, but that was sheer greed and arrogance.

I sought internet service on my return, so I headed back toward Apache Jet and parked at the Walgreens. I drove through a dust storm. The sky was orange, dense, and dirt particles pelted the driver’s side as the wind nearly drove me off the road. I had to slow to a crawl. I couldn’t see a thing. I was awed by it, jaw hanging open and everything. What a mighty display of nature.

I decided not to turn back and chose the northern I-40 for my route into Santa Fe. I did not want to drive back into that storm. Instead, I hit SR-87 and put in about 45 minutes to the campsite I had selected. It wasn’t far, just enough to get me on my way.

As I set the car for sleeping, another kind of storm was brewing. Thunder and lightning, and heavy rains came pouring down. It was amazing. Justice and I were in perfect peace.

I might actually get to use my camp stove this morning! I have not been outside yet, but I don’t hear wind nor rain. I especially want to try to brew my own coffee, and I thought a warm oatmeal and grain breakfast would be delightful. I will start working that scenario as soon as I finish my morning pages. I need to complete all three this time. No reason not to.

I am spending within my allotted budget, averaging only $6.51 per day! Wow! I am astounded that I have been on the road for two weeks and have kept my discretionary spending to so little. I am not your modern tourist, for sure.

Walkabout: Day 15, Superstition Wilderness

November 3, 2016 ~ Thursday

5:30a Morning Pages ~ Gold Canyon, AZ

I am writing and watching the sun. What I mean is that I need to get an early start on the Rogers Canyon Trail, so I am awake and watching for signs of daybreak.

It is raining here, and I don’t know how that will affect the hike. Will it be cold? Slippery? I am allowing an hour of travel each way, two hours for the descent into the canyon, and three hours for the climb back out. I had hoped to beat the rain, which was forecast to begin about 1p. But here it is, and I will need to deal with it.

I would really love a shower tonight. I have not bathed since last Friday night. I am feeling it today. I’m not taking care of my hygiene at all really. I feel pressed for time every morning, and I feel wiped out tired every evening. Plus, I try to be discreet at night. What would be the point? I’m just going to get dirty again. lol

I am looking forward to this hike, and I am nervous at the same time. I don’t want to get lost, and I don’t want to miss the ruins. I was already disappointed to miss the petroglyphs yesterday. Regardless, it is said to be “beautiful and challenging”, my cup of tea. At 4.1 miles in then back out again, I am imagining my climb up Yosemite Falls, which was 3.6 miles. Will it be as steep and challenging? What will the rain contribute?

The mouse has to go, cute or no. He is keeping me awake at night with all of his scurrying and rustling and chewing. I have devised a trap with the tea kettle. He has been into the dog biscuits, so I dumped them into the kettle. I hope to trap him inside, so I can deposit him outside. I wanted to complete the duty last night, but I never did see him in the kettle. I swear I heard him, though.

I wonder if he is swiping the cookies and dragging them back to his burrow – which seems to be under my driver’s seat. At least, that is where he spent most of his time last night… doing God only knows what, but I could hear him. I cannot afford to be losing sleep on this trip.

I have been open to learning the message he has come to bring me. I keep asking the Universe to teach me. I think new creative ideas, which I wrote about earlier, is part of it. Last night I thought about my cleanliness, or lack of it. Surely something as strange as this, a mouse in my car – that made eye contact with me – surely there is an important lesson to learn.

Oh I am anxious, anxious, anxious!! I think I will do only two pages again today and start my morning “chores”. Walk Justice, reset the car, brush my teeth, get us both breakfast. I do not have internet connection here, so I think I need to backtrack to get screenshots of the hike and connect the GPS. I really don’t want to take the time to do that, but it may be necessary.

6:30p It feels so good to relax this evening, with no agenda tomorrow. I will head toward Santa Fe at some point. I may drive all the way through, or I may stop somewhere in between here and there. I am bunked down somewhere along SR-87, within the Tonto National Forest recreation area. This is another site for off-road vehicles.

I feel safe here, not like I have to hide myself. I don’t know whether that is because of the location or because I have two weeks under my belt now. I have been remiss to use the light much at night, and it seems I always have something to rise early for.

This feels like the first time I have been truly relaxed since embarking on this trip. It occurs to me that, even though I have “no agenda” and no one to answer to, I am still not playing life by my own rules. Hiding myself away, nervous about responding to texts in a timely manner, making all the right moves, don’t dare inconvenience anyone… When will I truly be me? When will I give myself permission to do *me* the way that I want to? And how do I want to? Just like this. Just like this very moment.

I cleaned up and put on fresh pajamas tonight. It felt wonderful to feel reasonably clean. Then I had dinner, my last can of soup. I know I need more calorie, but I just can’t fit any more in my stomach. I will be curious to see what I look like by the time I reach Florida. I am in the best shape of my life. I feel wonderful tonight.

Walkabout: Day 14, Mile 2557

November 2, 2016 ~ Wednesday

6:45a ~ Morning Pages ~ Black Canyon, AZ

It was the tale of two families. I went from the affluence of Los Angeles to the poverty of Phoenix. Swing high, swing low.

In Los Angeles, I had a nice bedroom with a private shower. There were four pillows on the bed and soft sheets. They had well-stocked pantries and freezers with everything imaginable. I was treated to a gourmet dinner in a swanky restaurant.

In Phoenix, I slept in my car in the driveway. I could hardly stand to use the restroom as it was so filthy, and the house reeked of urine. I was offered the finest meals they could afford – an indian taco one night, two eggo waffles with peanut butter for breakfast, and the second evening, thirteen people shared two rotisserie chickens and two tubs of potato salad.

I know my family showed me the best hospitality they could afford. I wanted to be grateful and to love them. I did both.

At the same time, I was grateful that this existence represented only my early childhood years. I was grateful that Mom and Dad found a way out of the poverty of Phoenix and Carnegie. I was grateful that I am living the brighter future I had always dreamed of.

I feel sad for my Uncle David, who shoulders the burden of this family. I feel that I should have a more active relationship with him. He needs love and support. I’m glad I decided to spend time now with Grandma Troendle. She has been diagnosed with Leukemia, and they have chosen not to treat.

Justice hurt herself jumping into the car again. I don’t understand it. I have been careful with her little legs so as not to overdo it. She has had no problem getting in and out of the front seats. But last night she yelped and hollered for a good minute. I guess I really need to pamper her and assist her more. Hard to imagine her little springs used to clear the back of the sofa. I hope she can walk and trot properly today.

I plan to take the easy, relatively flat hike into Agua Fria to see some pueblo ruins. There is a longer, more difficult hike in Rogers Canyon that I want to take tomorrow. I will hike Agua Fria today, explore around, if Justice is feeling up to it, then drive and camp near Rogers Canyon for an early start tomorrow.

The heat index in this part of the country makes planning outings a challenge. They either need to be dog-friendly, or I need to complete them before the temperature rises.

Already I feel anxious to get started. Temperatures will be approaching 80 degrees by noon. The Agua Fria hike can be done in as little as 1.5 hours, but I can also extend it with exploration, as there are a number of ruins scattered about the area. The Bureau of Land Management only tells you about one of them in order to minimize vandalism and looting, trying to protect the others from being destroyed.