Monday, June 29, 2009

Thirteen Days Ago

Thursday June 18, Preston and I spent the day cleaning the house, preparing food and trying to keep ourselves busy until Lonica and Scott flew in at 6:45 that evening. Garth came home early from work because he couldn't concentrate. We picked Lonica and Scott up in terminal 4 and then headed over to wait for Jason's plane to come in about an hour later in terminal 3. Terminal 3 is dead and we couldn't even do much people watching while we waited. We did get the scoop on what Lonica and Scott had been doing and that was good plus we got to see Lonica's little pregnant tummy for the first time and feel the baby kicking.

It wasn't long before Ben and Christian (two of Jason's friends) were there waiting with us. They were almost as excited as were we and almost as early. They had both just gotten home from their missions in Argentina and Taiwan two weeks before.
As our little group of welcome home wishers grew, we couldn't sit any more and stand so we can see down the hallway, we still had a half an hour to go. Time always amazes me - it goes so low when you want it to move fast and it goes fast when you want it to slow down. Here Garth is joined by Skyler who returned from the Philippines the first of March and put off his wedding until Jason would be home.
We are so blessed to have so many friends who have supported Jason the last two years and made the effort to come to the airport. We were a little worried though when Raquel and Dave hadn't made it and the plane had arrived. They
are known to get lost and since we were at a different terminal than we usually use, we were worried, but they made it in time. In fact as people started coming down the aisle, it was Dave who was asking where they were coming from and found out that they indeed were from Atlanta. The suspense was definitely building. I had kept myself really busy all day and tried not to think about seeing Jason too much, but when Garth started saying that he could see him coming my feelings were just overwhelming, I just wish I was a bit taller! Once I got a hold of him I just hugged and hugged him as I sobbed. It is hard to describe what I felt - excitement, relief, pure joy and amazement that this moment was finally here.
He looked so good and so skinny! He had on funny Latin shoes that he had literally walked the soles right off of and spoke with a great accent that thirteen days later he still has some of. Although now he doesn't look to me for words he can't remember near as much as he did that first night. Doesn't he look great!
Preston has garneredd the most comments from all of Jason's friends as they come home and as they couldn't believe how much he has grown, and Jason was no exception. Although Preston is Jason younger brother, he isn't little anymore. There were lots of smiles all around and laughs as Jason hugged everyone there except the single girls whose hands he shook - he was still a missionary.

I was the lame mom who didn't make any welcome home signs but luckily Robin and Lisa Rowley brought some balloons for him. Thanks!

As you can see smiles were easy to come by. It was a day I had imagined since he was born but I had no idea it would be that wonderful.
After two years, once again our family was all together!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What do you do the day before your son gets home?

When your friend calls and wants you to go hiking, what else can you do but go? Besides Jason wouldn't be coming in until 8:30 pm so I had all day Thursday to clean the house and get ready.

Terry is an old friend and he and I have about the same adventure level. Although the Willow Creek hike he planned last fall was over the top. This week he wanted to go to Araviapa, a canyon that I'd been wanting to hike for years. It is difficult to get permits during the cool months but since it was June Terry didn't have any trouble. In fact we were the only ones there.
Terry loves to take his grand kids hiking but their mothers don't like them hiking alone with just their grandfather, so I'm the designated hiking partner that has to get them out if something happens to Terry. I've told him that I promise to get the kids out but that I'm not carrying him out - I will call for help for him though.

This day we had 10 year old Carson and 9 year old Hayden with us. It was a cool beautiful day which is very unusual for June in Arizona. If you can tell, there is one of us that isn't smiling quite as much as the rest. We would soon find out that he wasn't too excited to be there that day.
From the very start of the hike we had to walk in the water and that was agreeable with us all, in fact Hayden plunged in and couldn't wait to get really wet. The stream was mostly in the shade, the water was cool and we were ready for our 8 mile round trip hike.
We looked for wildlife, posed for pictures and played as we went but did notice that one of our group was lagging a bit from the very beginning. Terry said he liked to day dream a bit but that he was a good hiker so we let him fall behind a bit.
Once when we stopped to let him catch up with us we noticed that he was limping. He showed us that his shoe had fallen apart. Carson had questioned the big roll of duct tape that Terry made him carry but as his shoe was duct taped back together, he was very glad we had it. Now was he not only slow but his shoe was a mess.
It wasn't too much longer before the other shoe fell apart too and as you can see from our group picture at our lunch spot, Carson had matching Tin Man shoes. We didn't make it to our destination because we were going so slow, so we found a shady spot, had lunch and prepared to head back. At this point our poky hiker became excited and declared that he was going to run all the way back. That lasted about 15 minutes and he returned to his snail pace which was just driving Terry crazy.
Araviapa Canyon is absolutely beautiful and in many places the saguaro cactus come pretty close too the stream. Since we were going pretty slow we had lots of time to look at the scenery.
The rocks were amazing and I keep telling Terry that he needs to take a geology class so we know about all the rocks that we see when we hike. There were bright orange, green and blue ones and lots of layers of rocks as we got deeper into the canyon.
It had been partly cloudy most of the day but on our way back during the hottest part of the day the clouds left us. So what do you do when your walking in a stream and your hot? Find a deep spot and get soaking wet
and then have a little water fight!
On our way home we stopped for drinks and Carson wanted a Dr. Pepper. We questioned whether his mom let him drink Dr. Pepper and he assured us that she did. After drinking the whole thing, he was bouncing off the walls all the way home. Terry declared that next time he would have the Dr. Pepper before we started to hike. Originally Terry had told me that we would be home about 1 o'clock and I figured I would still have a good portion of the day to get things done. Well, we didn't get home until after 5 but that was okay. We had had a great day in a cool stream in the middle of the desert. Araviapa is a place I will definitely be going back to.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Count Down

Just 8 more days until Jason is home!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Grand Canyon Hike

One week ago Raquel and I were preparing for our hike in the Grand Canyon. We headed up there Friday afternoon and meet our old friend Dennis Schaub and his friend, Terry, and Dennis' brother, Clarence and Clarence's wife, Kelly. They had gone up earlier and had camp all set up. All Raquel and I had to do was pitch our little tent (and she reminded me all weekend just how small it was) I tried in vain to put up a hammock, but I had brought a crappy rope that kept breaking and after falling on the ground 5 or 6 times I gave up.
Saturday morning we got up early and Clarence dropped Terry, Dennis, me and Raquel off at the Kaibab South trail head. We were hoping to see the sunrise in the canyon but we were just a little too late. We would hike 4 1/2 miles down before cutting across on the Tonto Trail to the Bright Angel trail and heading up. All total of about 14 miles but 9 of it was either straight up or straight down.
Here are a couple of pictures on our way down.

You can see the color changes in the canyon as the sunrises higher.
We were just 1 1/2 miles from the bottom of the canyon when we turned and started across on the Tonto trail. This was also about 4 1/2 miles and this trail was flatter and we were out in the open - or exposed to the hot sun. While it was only about 8:30 when we started this trail it was HOT. We enjoyed the change in trails though after 3 hours hiking straight down it gave our knees and feet a rest, plus it was nice to not see any other people on this part of our hike. The other two trails we hiked are very popular and have quite a few people on them. It was a great experience to be in the heart of this canyon and see no one but our little group. From this picture you can't even tell that we are in a canyon. The canyon rim is so far it can't be seen. The rims you see in the background are false rims. It is an immense place.
One of the great things about hiking the Grand Canyon are the surprises it brings. While we were hiking through dry desert terrain, we came upon a tree lined creek with shade!
We reached Indian Gardens at about 11:00 and we were ready for a break and lunch. I found a great little spot where we could soak our feet in frigid water, get out of the sun, eat our lunch and rest for a bit. After the heat of hiking the Tonto trail, I was worried about how hot it would be hiking out. I knew that the last 4 1/2 miles up Bright Angel trail would be extremely difficult if it was really hot (I'd done it before). We were all very glad to see the sky become overcast while we were eating. Terry was especially glad because the heat had really affected him.
Indian Gardens is another one of those surprises in the canyon - you just don't expect to see lush green spots in this vast seemingly dry canyon.
As we headed out of Indian Gardens it started to sprinkle on us and we loved that. Raquel and I left Terry and Dennis and started out at a faster pace. The sprinkles really rejuvenated us and I thought we would have an easy time getting out with the overcast sky and sprinkles. About 1/2 mile later the sprinkles became drops and a 1/2 mile after that the drops became a torrential down pour. At this point Raquel was really glad I had made her pack a rain poncho and for the next 3 1/2 miles out of the canyon we hiked, slushed, slipped and plodded up the mud puddled switchbacks. The wind and rain made the temperature drop and since we were wet, it was cold.
Once again, you never know what kind of surprises the canyon will bring to you. While there were a few places we could have taken shelter, we decided just to keep going because the trail was just getting muddier by the minute. We saw mud waterfalls begin and lots of drenched hikers. Our one goal was to beat the mule train we caught glimpes of far below us. They slowly caught up to us but we managed to beat them out by just a few seconds.I think the whole hike was a bit harder than Raquel thought it was going to be and at one point she turned to me and said, "I'm trying really hard not to complain." Bless her little heart! We were definitely having an adventure and while I don't think Raquel was liking it much, I was loving it.
At a mile from the top we finally did stop and rest and so did the rain. As soon as we started hiking again the rain started also. When we got to the top Clarance was just pulling in to pick us up. As you can see, while we look a little worse for the wear, both of us can still smile. Clarence was great. He drove us back to camp fixed us hot chocolate (it was cold at the top) and he and Kelly made dinner that night of stew, bread and watermelon. It was great!
Actually, I was very glad at how well my knees had done and that revived my ideas for hiking to the bottom again and maybe from rim to rim. I don't think Raquel thought it was fun but I do think she would hike to the bottom with me some time.
All in all, it was a great three days with my daughter and I appreciate her willingness to come along with her crazy mom.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Counting Down

Only 16 more days until my son comes home, but who is counting?!!