The Bend Revisited

During our camping trip in Gila Bend last weekend I discovered that the town actually had a Route 66 vibe to it.  We camped there again this weekend and yesterday morning I took a solo journey to photograph some of it.  Here are some of the characters I met:

These gentleman were just settling in for a siesta while their horses took a drink.

Mama Bear watched over her brood with a sign pinned to her chest that read, ‘I’m not for sale but my children are.’

The Stone Turtles were meeting for their morning meditation.  They were quite the stoic lot!

In addition to these characters I saw a few photo ops that included a few old hotels.  Gila Bend has always been a stop along the way for people heading to San Diego or Tucson.  More modern highways have been built but there are few treasures still standing.

I stopped to visit Stout’s Hotel.  No one was around but a little dog that barked at me through a chain link fence.  I think he would have killed me with kisses if given the chance.  A sign in the window gave the history of this hotel.  It was built in 1927 and was called the ‘Gem of The Desert’.  Movie stars would stop there on their way to Tucson to film the old westerns.  I love places like these.

Here is a better view of the sign.  I love that it boasts air conditioning and steam heat.  Given the extreme temps here I’m sure many travelers saw this as a good selling point back in the day.

Here is the last hotel that I stopped at.  It was built probably in the 1950s.  Given that there are so many chain hotels around, it was neat to see one of these older models still in operation.

That concludes my tour of Gila Bend.  I do have some desert photos I’ll be posting later though.  So much beauty that I can barely stand it!

Breaking It Down

Since the start of the month I’ve revamped my weight-loss and fitness efforts.  During the first two weeks of January I was down 6 lbs for a total of 27 lbs lost since last April.  Not too shabby if I do say so myself.  This week though I seem to have hit a plateau.  Last summer my step-dad had suggested that I try the South Beach Diet.  This is broken down into several phases where at first you eliminate all carbs & sugars including alcohol and fruit, and then thereafter you gradually start reintroducing healthy carbs & fruit back into your diet.  After the great results I had  this last year and it leading to some permanent healthy habits, I did this again during the first two weeks of the month. 

I’ve stayed within the guidelines of the food plan but I grew curious to the fact that I might not be getting enough nutrition or getting too much of other things.  A girlfriend of mine had told me about a free website called Spark People awhile back.  Yesterday I signed up and it has an area where you enter your meals.  It then goes ahead and tallies up your calories, carbs, proteins and fats for the day.  Then it tells you where you could be doing better.  This is of course after you enter your height and weight.  I was a little alarmed to see that although my intake of good fats is good I really should be eating less of them.   This could be the reason for the plateau.

This site encourages you to set goals for yourself and also to participate in the different groups available.  There is a  group of Arizonans who have their own group, as well as a group for people over 40.  I was quite impressed that all this was free.  A few years back I did Weight Watchers Online and I think Spark People has more to offer than WW  –And they were a paying site!

They also have recipes there with the nutritional info included.  I printed out a recipe for Cocoa Rubbed Pork loin so I’ll give it go and post it here if it’s any good.

On the exercise front I’m still going to that Latin Dance class.  My new friend Maria is there each time and saves a spot for me in the front row.  I think she may be friends with the whole class now as she is quite the character.  This despite the fact that she keeps telling me she doesn’t know anyone.  😉  She left the dance class early to do a cycling class.  My goodness!  I hope I have her energy when I’m her age.  She is amazing.

Boot Camp starts next Saturday.  This should be interesting.  I’ve never done anything like this but I’m looking forward to the challenge of it.  I hope I’ll see some real changes within myself .  The class lasts six weeks and each session is 2 hours long.  Although I’ve been enjoying the dance classes, they are not all that challenging.  I mean sometimes the steps involved are challenging but the aerobic aspect isn’t as high as I need it to be.  My face barely gets red and I find that I’m not sweating as much as the other people in the class.  I may also try alternating time on the treadmill or running outdoors when I can. 

So that’s where I’m at.  Hopefully soon this plateau will be a thing of the past and I can continue on to be a healthier me.

Bake Quest #4 – February 2011<3 -Ideas Needed

I will fully admit to being a complete lame-o when it came to January’s Bake Quest.  This despite the fact that there is a large container of organic spinach in the fridge as I type.  Thanks to all those that participated for January.  Now onto February.  🙂

Any suggestions for February?  I was thinking chocolate could be one.  Anyone else?

Decisions, Decisions

There comes a point in each woman’s life where she must make decisions for herself and herself only.  While I must decide on a daily basis what direction to go in when dealing with clients or what one may have for dinner in our household, I took some today to figure out something I want for myself.

My 43rd birthday is fewer than three months away.  I’ve come up with the executive decision that I will have red velvet cupcakes.  If anyone sees my husband, please let him know, okay?  Then remind him consistently between now and the 21st of April.  Thanks.

Abby & The Weaz Go Camping

Abby is a seasoned professional when it comes to camping.  Where the Weasely One can no longer stay by herself at home, she got her first taste of camping this weekend.  Friday evening we packed up and met hubby in a small town southwest of Phoenix called Gila Bend.  The Weasely One slept most of the way but when the radio no longer came in and I was forced to put in a MGMT CD she suddenly woke up and felt the need to explore the car.  She’s always been a fan of music.  Luckily this was short-lived and after a drink and a snack she fell back to sleep for the remainder of the trip.

Contemplating a nap or breakfast while Abby watches on.

  While Abby knows the whole camping drill, the Weasel had to adjust a bit.  I had her barricaded next to my side of the bed in the camper.  She woke up once in the middle of the night and was a bit restless.  After a few scritches and cuddles she settled back down but was happy to cuddle in bed with me for the last two hours of sleep.



A nap appears to have won out.  Ah, but fickle is the ferret mind.  Two seconds later she emerged from her carrier and was parked in front of the food bowl.

We left for breakfast soon after and ate at a kitschy restaurant called The Space Age Diner that featured astronaut and alien decor as well as a giant spaceship on the roof.  The girls napped in the car and got ready for the adventure ahead.  We were visiting yet another petroglyph park!

The four of us were all set for a visit when we came across this…

Which lead to this…

Poor Abby.  She was rewarded with a long walk in the desert though where she had to wait in the car.  The Weasely One however, thoroughly enjoyed herself.  There were no signs prohibiting weasels so we took full advantage!

 Although she can no longer take in the sights through her eyes, I’m quite certain she could feel the sun on her back and the wind through her whiskers.  She squirmed to be let down and she dug in the sand and sniffed everything around her.  She enjoyed walking around the rocks outside the petroglyph area.  I was half expecting a park ranger to come by and reprimand me for bugging the ‘ground squirrel’  ;-). 

These petroglyphs were among the clearest I’ve seen.  They were carved into the rock by Native people living in the area 12,000 years ago. 


How many of these symbols can you see below?

There is a nest at the top of this old tree stump.  It appears that there was some chicken wire added to the top to keep out hawks and other predators maybe? 

This area is somewhat desolate and full of beautiful desert for miles and miles.  We arrived home the next day full of a sense of peace and with a longing to go back.  Next to the petroglyph park is a small campground.  There are no hookups for electricity and water.  This would be desert camping at it’s best.  I see a future trip for man and beasts alike.

Some People’s Children

Today I drove to work like I usually do.  I was stopped at a light when I heard the car next to me beep and the driver, a man in his mid-50s or so, motioned for me to roll down the window.  I was expecting to be told that my blinker or brake lights were out or something.  Instead this is what he said:

“Do you want to keep your car?”

I’m thinking, is this an offer to buy my car?  I’ve had my eye on one of those cool new numbers that are built to look like the classic muscle cars.  So then I repeat back his words in my most ‘what in tarnation are you talking about’ voice:

“Do I want to keep my car?”

Then he asks why I jumped in front of him.  I clearly have no idea what he is talking about but at some point en route I must have cut him off and now he is letting me know.  He wasn’t mean about it.  He was actually quite calm which may have thrown me at first.  I said I was sorry but I had no idea that I had even done that.  It certainly wasn’t my intent.  He nodded his head and rolled his window up.  “Sorry sir,” I threw in for good measure.

So now it has me wondering if I really almost caused a catastrophe on the street or if I just had a run in with someone who really needed coffee.  I noticed he was driving a white car and I have to ask dear friends, if any of you have ever had issues with seeing white cars.   For some reason I just don’t notice them.  My depth perception is off.  It’s like a reverse color blindness.  Does this happen to any of you? 

This called to mind a cartoon character from my youth, Mr Magoo.  Anybody remember him?  😉

Fun With Zumba

 Monday night I took myself by the ear and headed over to the gym that just opened a few months ago in our town.  It was amazing to see so many people working out.  I do realize that these are most likely the New Years Resolutioners but rather than be annoyed at the crowd I thought how cool it was that these folks were actually out taking care of themselves.

My little Phoenix suburb has grown so much in 8 years.  We had to travel into Phoenix to get groceries and all the roads were 2 laned with stop signs at each intersection.  It was somewhat culture shock for this former city slicker.

Anyways, back to the lecture at hand.  It had been an extremely long time since I’ve done any type of dance.  There have been infomercials on Zumba the past month or so where hard bodied individuals rocked out to the Latin beat while beaming about all the weight they’ve lost. 

I was glad to have arrived early as there were probably close to 100 in attendance. No one looked like the people in the infomercial.  Not even the instructor.  There was no exotic well endowed beauty in a Brazilian flag sports bra.  Just regular Joes and Joannes who’ve sloughed off their work clothes in lieu of baggy workout attire.

Next to me was a lady in her late 50s, early 60s or so.  She looked more like my friend’s Mom than my friend’s Mom.  We glanced at each other and laughed as we realized we were dressed identically in blue t-shirts and black running pants.  The music started and we dove right into a routine that required a bit of fancy footwork which wasn’t too hard.  I was glad to have gotten there early and ended up in the front row because the back rows seem to be a few seconds behind.

There seem to be such a camaraderie between us Joannes.  I did notice one of the 20-something Joes doing push ups on the parquet floor before class. Not sure what was up with that but when the Joannes outnumber the Joes the Joes have to at least do something to make sure the Joannes are watching.  I can tell I’m getting older.  Oh yes.  Most of us 35 and over were probably wondering why the Joe in question was posturing like this while the younger Joannes were oggling him and his contracting muscles. 

While we samba’d, merengue’d and salsa’d ourselves through the hour I happen to catch a glimpse of the lady in the matching outfit.  She was in mid-spin with her arms turned to the left.  When she noticed me watching she announced to me over the music that she was pretending to be dancing with her husband.  This just cracked me up.   In this class it is nearly impossible to get the smile off your face.  Being from a city in the Northeast I still at times am not used to folks being so friendly here.  There is an instant of distrust which seems to be automatic in me and I hate that.  Before my wedding a few years ago my sister and I were at a grocery store.  Everyone says good morning and a few people I had casually gotten to know from frequent visits.   My sister commented that I really knew a lot of people.  She was surprised to hear that I didn’t know any of them.  This is just Arizona. 

Class ended and although out of breath I was happy that my under clothing had stayed put and I wasn’t tip-toeing out of there with a wedgie or something.  Always a plus in my book.  The mirrors surrounding us were completely fogged up and everyone, Joes and Joannes alike were covered in sweat.  Rumor has it that this class can burn up to 1000 calories in one hour.  I’d have to say there is some truth in that.   Before leaving the lady in the matching attire introduced herself as Maria.  She actually lives a few blocks from me (in fact everyone in my town lives only a few blocks away  -its that small).  She said that I just had to come to the next class on Thursday.  With enthusiasm like that how could I not?  

Anyways, it was cool to get out and actually talk to people in person rather than on the phone.   It felt great and even two days later I still feel somewhat exhilarated which has definitely taken the edge off a crazy week at work.  While I won’t be donning a Brazilian flag sports bra (or any flag accented sports bra for that matter) any time soon, I’ve spent so much time on the treadmill that I’ve forgotten how fun a class can be.   Healthy too!

The Weekend and The Big ‘What Next’

Our weekend was fairly uneventful.  On Saturday morning I took the Weasel in for her follow-up appointment at the vets.  She road on my lap in her little sleep sack and much to my surprise she stayed awake for the whole ride.  She lay on her back as comfortable as a passenger on a First Class flight and would look up at me (or at least in my direction) from time to time.  She look so darn cute that I wanted to take a picture to post here but refrained since I was driving. 

The vet was amazed at her remarkable recovery.  He did shine a flash light into her eyes and she didn’t even flinch.  Its been determined that the attack has left her completely blind however, her sight may return.  In one eye her pupil slowly contracted.  There is nothing wrong with her eyes per se but it has more to do with the connection from her brain sending signals to the eyes.  I hope in time this will come back as well.  Over the weekend she seem back to her sweet little self and is making progress in figuring out where things are.  She scratched at the insoles of my sneaker and just did her normal ferrety things.  In some ways she is more energetic than she was before the attack.  I hope this progress continues.

Due to the costs of said vet trips we layed low and spent a lot of time at home.  The weather here is beautiful right now and today may hit 80 degrees.  80 degrees in January.  I’ll take it. 

Its kind of hit me lately that I need to set some goals and then figure out how to accomplish them.  Now if I could just figure out what it is that I want to do!  I really thought I had it all figured out a few years back.  I was in school working towards my Computer Science degree.  I haven’t taken a class in over a year now and decided I would have to wait to re-enroll where my husband had been laid off from his job.  Now I really don’t know if that is a path I still want to go down.  I’ll be 43 this year.  I can’t decide if I should just stay with what I’m doing and collect a paycheck or work towards a career.  And if I do work towards a career what career would that be?  Ladies and gentleman I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up. 

I like what I do right now.  I don’t know if I’ll stay forever but I figured I would give myself another year and then make a decision.  They’re good to me here.  My ideas are respected.  My boss also let me change my title because I thought the former one did not accurately reflect my role within the company. 

In time I’m sure things will come to me.  Sometimes ideas come without warning.  In the 2001 I was laid off from a job.  I knew I needed to do something big after that.  I had already had a vacation planned and was scheduled to leave the day after the lay off.  I still went.  On my way home from vacation it hit me…I was moving to Arizona and I was going to study Massage Therapy.  This was decided in stone while I waited for a connecting flight from Baltimore to Boston.  There was no turning back.  It was that clear.  I accomplished both.  Moving was an adventure that I’ll never forget and although I no longer work in Massage Therapy, it was an experience that can never be taken from me.  I learned so much.  We are incredible machines.

While I don’t expect the big ‘What Next’ to be as life changing as those decisions, I’m keeping an open mind.  Our local community college has a few classes coming up that I’m looking into.  One is a Saturday morning exercise boot camp at our local highschool and the other is about managing finances and planning for retirement.  If I have the time (and funds) I would also like to take a Spanish language class.  I speak some but its been learned by osmosis.  I’m slowly losing the ability to understand it as well and I need to really learn how to speak it correctly.  My husband loses patience with me sometimes.  I tell him it makes perfect sense to me.  What’s his problem?  😉  Anyways, the classes I think will be a step in the right direction in just figuring out the big ‘What Next’.

Autumn In January




Yesterday I stumbled across this red leaf on the sidewalk as I left work. It looked so pretty and bright there just resting where it had landed on the sidewalk.  It’s been touched up a little to enhance its vibrant red color.  Most of the leaves are off the trees right now but will be returning in another month.  In December the leaves here turn mostly yellow so it was quite a treat to catch this simple red leaf yesterday.