End Of Summer

Taking a Hike

Here we are at the end of August already.  My gosh, how time flies.  This summer, so far, I’ve done a lot of hiking.  Two of the best trips took place in Sedona, with one being at the beginning of this month.  Years of exploring Sedona and I never knew of these hidden gems.  The most recent hike had us traveling along the red rock which opened up into a swimming hole.  People jumped off the cliffs into the water.  It was a very hot day so the water proved to be very refreshing.  Athletica has also joined the same hiking group that I belong to.  Here is a picture of the swimming hole:

The Rules Have Changed (Apparently)

Athletica was asked out on date recently by someone in our hiking group.  According to her it wasn’t a date, but being the great friend I am it didn’t stop me from razzing her about it.  I texted her to ask her how her ‘date’ was.  She responded with, “It’s not a date!”

“Okay,” I texted back.  “How was your ‘it’s-not-a-date’ date?”  No response (lol).  She told me later that it couldn’t possibly be a date because he had used a Groupon to pay for dinner.  So that’s how it is determined these days.  Guess the rules really have changed in the past decade.  Who knew?

Motorcycle Summer

 This summer has been one of the funnest ones on record.  Outside of the crazy heat I will be sad to see the seasons change.  I went with Matteo about a month ago to a biker bar to see a band play.  Let me tell you I saw some crazy stuff that night!  Very fun though.  I got in at 3:30am!

Its been interesting hanging with Matteo.  Back in Boston in the 1970s bikers there were either stared at in awe or were feared.  We had a biker bar down the street and I remember my father discouraging me from looking at them as we drove by.  I remember being on the freeway in the family station wagon and peering out the window in the most casual manner my 10 year old self could muster, at the couple on the Harley passing us.  A thin tan blonde woman sat on the back of the bike.  She wore leather pants with matching bikini top.  Her long hair was woven into two braids.  I don’t quite recall what the man looked like but most then had long hair and bushy beards.     Riding with Matteo has fished these memories to the surface.  Sometimes I’ll hear his bike pull up to the driveway and I’ll peek out the slats of the kitchen shutters at him, dressed in his bike garb.  I swear I lose my breath for a second.  Maybe it’s just my rebellious Catholic school girl nature.  I don’t know.  But where there is this tall, dark handsome man standing in my driveway next to a Harley, I can’t help myself.  (I can still hear my sister’s voice from that day on the freeway back in the 1970s: “Dad told you not to look”).  I started wearing a bandana around my face when we ride because Matteo has taken the windshield off the bike.  He reminded me that I should probably remove it before we entered a liquor store this past weekend.  I guess I would have made a few folks a little nervous.

Speaking of Matteo, he is off to New Mexico for the weekend for his highschool reunion.   He has become a great friend and sometimes when I’m with him I realize how many great experiences I’ve had since I let go of the past.  I’ve come to realize that letting go, as hard as it is or as scary as it may seem, often opens the doors for new things.   With that being said though, there are still things that need to be let go of.

Matteo’s bike:

   Florida/Race Bound

In a few weeks I will be flying to Florida for another fun trip with my best friend, Quasimomma .  We did this last year and had a blast.  I will fly into the gulf side and we will drive over to my aunt’s condo the next day.  The Smokester will be kenneled at her vet.  Not sure how I’ll handle Abby yet.

We are running in a 5k the first Saturday there.  We have always wanted to do a 5k together so I’m really ecstatic that our dream is coming into fruition.

Letting Go

Yesterday was not a good day.  I’ve been fighting with my ex for pretty much a week now.  While I haven’t mentioned it before, I will say that he has an addiction problem that he refuses to see.  It’s very frustrating.  We are still in contact although he is living really far away.  Sometimes I will call because I need an answer to something and I can hear in his voice that he is not sober.  I wish sometimes I could record his voice and play it back for him so he could hear how stupid he sounds.  When I ask him if he is drunk he will often lie and tell me he was asleep and that’s why his voice sounds that way.  It hit me the other night that I really do need to let go.  It’s not worth getting angry over anymore.  I’ve had a lot of anxiety over this the past couple of days and he is also scheduled to come back to Phoenix for a visit starting tonight.  We need to get together to talk about a few things.  It hit me today that we have been separated for almost a year.  He’s got until January 1st to get himself straight.  If not, then it’s time for me to move on for good.

I call this one Ruben:

So. . .I pretty much fought with him over text messaging on my way to work yesterday (I have the voice activated option so was not texting while driving).  I got into work to find the Internet down.  I looked up the number to our service provider from my phone.  I called and received that stupid recorded prompt which only told me to go their website for technical support.  Luckily I found another number and a man there was able to reset the modem from wherever he was.  I logged into email and found a scathing response from a client I had left a voice mail message for last week.  She had multiple changes to a project we are working on and each time she placed a change request she would promise it was the last one.  I simply asked her to sit with her documentation and outline all the changes in one fell swoop rather than piece mailing it.  I didn’t think I came off as angry or anything, but by her response I could tell she was ticked.  I did call her and straighten it out; however, it did get me thinking.
Was she angry because she felt that I was trying to rush her?  Or did I come off as threatening without even realizing it?  I’d have to say that my rapport with most clients is great.  Still though, I wonder at times if I come off a little abrasive.  I need to chat with my boss about this.

Last night I didn’t sleep well.  It was just one of those days.  Before work though I dedicate at least 30 minutes to prayer and meditation.  I say these out loud and as the words left my lips this morning I could feel such a release of tension.  Just a total letting go.  Letting go of the fight with the ex, letting go of the work stuff.  I felt lighter.

Camp Bound

Saturday morning I will pack up the SUV and head north to camp for another Labor Day weekend.  I won’t have the camper this year because the ex has the truck with him that I would usually use to pull it.  I did look into renting a U-Haul pick up truck but the connector for the brakes and lights isn’t correct.  Another place has the perfect truck that is affordable but the deposit is almost as much as my mortgage.  I just can’t risk that.  Looks like me, the pooch and the weasel are tenting it.  I’ve been so spoiled.  Hope we do okay.

And finally, more hiking. . .

  I’ve joined yet another hiking group and did a night hike Monday night.  It was really great fun and in addition to meeting some new people, one lady from Boston, too, we got to see some of the wild life that comes out at night in the desert.  Here is one of those said critters (yes, it’s a rattle snake): 

There’s another night hike tonight.  We’ll see what this trip yields.  🙂

Memories of Florida

While its been well over a week since returning from one of the funnest weekends on record in Florida with my best friend, I thought now that I have finally dug myself out from all the things that demanded attention upon my return I would actually write about it.


Thursday evening I arrived in Tampa where my friend’s husband picked me up.  Due to thunderstorms, which I am grateful happened after I had landed, we had to wait an hour to retrieve my luggage.  It gave me a chance to catch up with my friend’s husband.  I had not seen him or her since their wedding in Tampa almost 4 years ago. 


My best friend and I drove out to the St. Augustine area early on Friday morning and as we reached our destination a torrential rain started.  It was the type of rain that comes down so furiously that windshield wipers are proven futile.  After about a 3 hour drive and wonderful conversation we arrived at my Aunt’s townhouse on the beach.  It was still downpouring at that point so we quickly grabbed our luggage and went inside. 

We still needed groceries but decided to wait on them until the rain had slowed a bit.  It gave us a wonderful opportunity to just sit and chat with the blinds open while taking in a perfect view of the ocean.  I made two cups of spiced tea that seem to be most fitting for the afternoon.  Now let me tell you, there is something so comforting about sharing a cup of tea and conversation with your oldest girlfriend while in view of a rainy beach.  She and I met in the second grade and although we live on opposite sides of the country, have always been a part of each other’s lives.   There’s a lot of history there.

Finally the rain let up and we headed out to the grocery store where we picked up cheese, cold cuts, coffee and the most wonderful strawberry chardonnay.  We headed into the old area of St. Augustine later on in the afternoon and ordered sangria and appetizers that we enjoyed while people watching from the restaurant balcony overlooking old St. George St.  On the way back to the car, it started raining again.  I had forgotten to bring a jacket with me and luckily my friend had lent me her hooded sweatshirt which came in handy.  When you live in an area that sees very little rain you start to forget how much rain other areas get. 

My cellphone, which was sitting at the edge of my purse did not do so well with the rain.  Saturday morning we needed to find another store because my old phone would not even turn on.  It was a purchase I wasn’t planning on making on vacation but what can you do? 

Saturday afternoon we spent the day down at the beach just lounging around in the sand and chatting.  We watched the sand pipers running back and forth with the waves, stopping only to syphon out a meal hidden in the sand.  They are such amusing little creatures and we spent a great deal of time just watching them.  The ocean was like bathtub water and my only regret is that we didn’t get down there again to place a chair in the water. 

Saturday evening we decided to do the local Pub Crawl/Ghost Tour in St. Augustine.  First we had a wonderful dinner at an Italian restaurant called Amici’s.  Then we met our tour guide at a small bar where we were given our free beer before beginning.  I suppose they wanted to get us nice and juiced first so that we would really think we were seeing things on the tour.  😉 

The tour route consisted of 3 pubs we were to walk to.  We headed out with our tour guide Maria, and about 30 other folks also partaking.  We descended on the first bar that was actually a home that was built in the 1700s out of coquina, which is a shell and rock mixture.  It is reported that the woman who owned the house way back when still haunts the premises.  We didn’t see any ghosts although I caught on orb with my digital camera which I suspect was only a spec of dust.

My friend introduced me to a beer called Shocktop that I now absolutely crave.  While she was getting us a few drinks, another tour goer asked if she and her sister could sit with us.  They were both also on vacation; one being from Alabama and the other from Georgia.  That is one thing I like about visiting other places; you get to meet so many interesting people.  One of the sisters then excused herself because her husband, who is stationed in Iraq was calling her.  After thirty minutes we were rounded up by the tour guide and headed out to the next pub which at one time had also been someone’s home.  This time the ghost that supposedly inhabits this dwelling was a Cuban woman named Catalina.  Her old bedroom is now the lady’s room and that is supposed to be the most active room in the house.  While the restroom had a creepy vibe to it, there was nothing unexplained going on in there.  Before we left we decided for the heck of it we would take some pictures to see if anything came out.  Two biker ladies, also on the tour were in there taking pictures.  One swore that she couldn’t get the sink to shut off when she was in earlier.  As it turns out, the handles were the type that if you pushed them too far back or too far forward, they would stay on.  I watched the other lady demonstrate this although she still insisted that there was something paranormal going on.  My friend and I just glanced at each other and smirked.  Not wanting to burst their bubble we left without saying a word.

Our final stop was at a pub that although wasn’t reported to be haunted, was located next to what was supposed to be the most haunted house in St. Augustine.  While that was somewhat anticlimactic, the bar was outdoors so we stayed there long after the tour ended.  Both the visiting sisters we had met earlier in the night joined us for a while.  We ended eating yet again.  This time we split a cheeseburger and fries.  And then we dug into the pieces of key lime cheesecake we had back at the townhouse upon our return.  After that I swore I’d be done eating for life.  But oh!  Everything just tasted so good.

On Sunday we headed over to the St. Augustine Lighthouse for a tour.  It is a gorgeous structure and was also featured on Ghost Hunters a few years back.  Didn’t see any ghosts there either.  😉  My friend made it up to the top but my fear of heights kept me securely at the bottom.

 After this we headed over to the San Sebastian winery for their free tour and tasting.  If you are ever in the area I highly recommend this.  The wines are very unique tasting and if it weren’t for the airline restrictions I may have purchased a few bottles for home.  They also had wonderful samples of sherry and brandy.

We returned back to the townhouse and then decided to go for a long walk on the beach to burn off the gazillion calories consumed the night before.  It had started to rain but a rainy day at the beach is still better than a 110 degree day in the desert.  For our final night there we went back into St. Augustine for dinner at a Cajun restaurant that featured a beautiful tree-lined patio covered in little white Christmas lights.  We found a big tree to sit under to avoid the rain and a very talented man with a guitar belted out tunes while we ate. 

Monday morning it was time to go.  We packed and cleaned up.  I took one final picture of the beach as of course the ocean is many miles from Phoenix.

We drove back to Tampa on Monday and then I caught a flight back to Phoenix on Tuesday.  As these things go, the weekend went by very fast.  Luckily my friend is coming out to Phoenix next month for a trade show and will have a few extra days to explore.  Another girlfriend of ours from the Boston area is also coming out during the same timeframe so we will make a whole weekend of it.  Somehow knowing that I will be with friends again in a few weeks made it easier to leave.  In other words, no tearful goodbyes. 

I arrived back in Phoenix at noon due to the time change.  I had left my car in the garage and lo and behold I could not remember for the life of me where I had parked it the week before.  Luckily there is a call button (perhaps I should call it the idiot button?) for such events.  A lady from airport security carted me around for 20 minutes until I finally located it.  Funny enough nothing at all about where I parked it looked familiar.  Maybe that is what happens when you arrive in the dark at 5:30 am.   Okay, maybe that’s what happens when you are me.  Despite that, I still made it out of there and got myself into work that afternoon.  How’s that for dedication?

That night while the ceiling fan whirred overhead, I could have sworn I heard the ocean all the way into the desert.  It made me smile.