In The Middle

Life, Family, Yoga, Stuff


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Captain Fantastic

I feel very lucky to have been raised in a house filled with music.  My mom played the accordian, my brother and my sister both played the piano and I played the violin.  From early on we listened to a lot of music at our house.  And from early on we listened to lots of different kinds of music.  Country was minimal, though we watched a little Hee-Haw and some Porter Wagoner.

We had one of those cool stereos that hung on the wall.  It was like a cabinet and when you flew the doors open they turned into speakers and the turn table dropped down.  We had a ton of records and we played them quite a bit.  I remember listening to Johnny Cash, the Eagles, Jim Croce, America, Simon & Garfunkel, Carly Simon, The Beatles, James Taylor, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Gordon Lightfoot, the Rolling Stones and Elton John.

I think the first time I saw the Captain Fantastic album I was in my uncle’s bedroom in Minnesota.  He had the coolest room ever.  It was located in the basement at my grandma’s and it was a pretty decent sized room.  Someone in the family was in the carpet business so the shag carpet in his room was all different colored squares.  Remnants I guess, but it rocked.  It was also really dark down there and pretty private.  I don’t think he liked us in his space but we felt pretty cool when we were invited in.  He had beaded curtains, lava lamps, a chess set made of stone and lots of record albums.  He also took me to see my very first rated R movie (I know he didn’t want to take me) which was American Werewolf in London.  Man I thought I was pretty uptown cool on that night.

Anyways back at my house in Missouri, my mom was in love with my now step-dad and he was in love with Elton John.  Hence Elton was turned on the table quite a bit in our household.  It was announced that Elton John would be coming to town on April 16 and the tickets would go on sale on March 19.  Great, I was going to go to that concert!  I thought so anyways.  Sadly, my plane to Sedona would be in the air when those tickets were unleashed.  I had someone try to get them for me, but it didn’t work out.  They told me through Facebook while I was in Sedona that I could still purchase a ticket online.  I quickly logged on to find that they were all sold out.  It was all good, it just wasn’t meant to be.  I got home from my wonderful trip to Sedona and the South Rim and decided to look on Craig’s List for an Elton John ticket.  Whoa.  People were wanting to sell their tickets for ridiculous amounts.  I was not going to pay more than $200 for one and that was too much if you ask me.  Remember.  I’m a yoga teacher. 

I decided to place my own ad on Craig’s List which plainly stated that I wanted a ticket to Elton John within ethical reason.  I immediately had folks e-mailing me their phone numbers.  I made a few calls to find out these folks were taking names and dollar amounts.  The tickets would go to the highest offer.  Whatever.  I only wanted one ticket.  Just one.  I left my ad up and on the second day of April , I was out walking at Close Park.  I had my phone with me and I can receive e-mail on it.  I heard my phone buzzing and almost ignored it.  But I was glad I didn’t.  Some kind soul had just sent me an e-mail that the arena had just released several single seats and that I should not have to pay scalper’s prices.  I didn’t get too excited.  This was Craig’s List and I’d been down this road already.

I finished my walk and when I got home I decided to call the JQH arena.  Low and behold the nice person that had sent me that e-mail was correct!  They had tickets and they weren’t the crappy ones.  The tickets were selling for $30, $80 or $139.  I scored an $80 ticket, no price inflation.  The night of the concert I downed two glasses of wine and walked over there.  I stopped to take some photos of the beauty along the way.

This was my fist time inside the new arena and it’s pretty nice.  I don’t think there’s a bad place to sit in this new arena if you ask me.  I took three photos at the concert with my phone and enjoyed myself thoroughly. 

Elton sang everything that I wanted to hear as well as three new songs that I wasn’t familiar with.  He played for almost 3 hours straight.  There was no warm up band.  He still has his original drummer from like 1969 or something and a guitar player from like the early 70’s.  The arena also had two jumbo screens so the close ups of his hands on the piano and facial expressions were really neat to see.

Afterwards I joined the sea of people on the yellow brick road on the way out.  The air outdoors was nice, the moon was full and the sky was clear.  I pretty much walked home before half of the people made their mass exits from the parking lots.  I can now cross this entertainer off of my list.  Great Saturday night that included no fighting for sure.

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Sedona Then Las Vegas = Bad Idea

We left Sedona, sadly.  We drove the scenic route through Oak Creek Canyon on the way out and stopped at a couple of scenic view points to drink it in.  Once we were out of there, Flagstaff was approaching.  We were up high on the mountain and this time we stopped.  Several Indians had set up a bunch of tables at this one point and they had some of the coolest crafts for sale.  I’d packed my big jacket away and man I wished I’d had it for this stop and this stop only.

It was cold and it was windy.  And I had my camera and wanted to walk this long walk way of vista points.  I had on a t-shirt and jeans.  My friend had on capri pants and flip flops, but at least she had a jacket.  The Indians were bundled like Eskimos.  They knew what they were doing.  My friend purchased two beautiful Christmas ornaments made of white clay.  They’d been carved and decorated.  She gave me one for making all of the trip arrangements and using my credit card.  My ornament has a dream catcher inside it.  It’s pretty cool.

The kids had on shorts.  They decided to stay in the car with their iPods and their cell phones.  So we let them.  Don’t tell anyone we’re bad parents, OK?

Once back in the car I cranked the heater on high to thaw out my hands.  I’d shipped those fingerless gloves back in a huge box of dirty clothes the day before at the post office in Sedona.  Lighter luggage makes for happy travelers.  As we approached Las Vegas, I noticed a black Chrysler 300 in my rear view mirror.  I was doing the driving this time.  It was going way too fast and I thought to myself that I hoped he didn’t crash.  Well, about 20 minutes later he did.  I saw a cloud of dust in the median and a black hood in the air.  I pulled over and the driver was lying on his back in the middle of the highway on the opposite side of the road.  Welcome to Las Vegas.  There were a lot of people stopped by now and since this was a one car accident and we didn’t actually see what happened, I decided to keep us on track.  I knew the highway would probably be closed if we hung around for long and we all needed to pee.  We said a little prayer for that guy on the highway and drove onward.

I booked us the Stratosphere from my phone in Sedona and I’m glad I did.  I thought about finding a place to stay when we arrived but then I remembered. 

Oh, we’ll be in Las Vegas. 

Our friends had never been there and I don’t think they want to go back.  Too much noise, too much commotion, too much everything.  Not the ideal place to land after Sedona that’s for sure.  My friend’s daughter wanted to ride the rides on top of the Stratosphere, so that’s the reason we were there.  My kid would never ride a ride like that, or any others actually. 

The wind was blowing so hard that day that one of the three rides were closed down. The daredevil child decided to ride anyways and her mom wouldn’t watch her.  I went outside on top of the building to shoot photos.  A few times I thought that I was going to get blown off the landing.  I’m not kidding it was that windy.  She rode the two rides and they lasted about 3 minutes each.  I’m not kidding, these were the shortest rides I’ve ever seen in my lifetime that’s for sure. 

The hotel also has a mall inside of it so if you’ve been to Vegas, you know you can pretty much spend a week there and never leave your hotel.  The show that the hotel was hosting was called Bitten or something like that.  The girls cracked up at the huge video monitors that were located everywhere with advertising for the show.  It was pretty risque’ if I must say so myself.  The previews featured topless chicks with vampire teeth wearing leather collars with studs and toting whips and sporting hot shorts and thongs.  The girls made several comments about how that did not look like Twilight at all.  I cracked up and told them to quit laughing about it because I’d got us all tickets for that tonight.  The girls responded with an “Oh mom, you’re way gross.”  We didn’t go to the show.  My mom had given me a speech about how we’d better not leave the kids in the hotel room alone.  Please.  Like we would do that.

We had to rise around 3:45 a.m. to catch a plane in the morning.  A plane home that is.  I don’t think we slept much at all.  The change of atmosphere and the stimulation of Vegas is enough to keep anyone awake for days.  That’s why people go there I suppose.  I know, I’ve been there a few times myself for work and play combined.

We got to the airport the next morning to find the Allegiant Air check in line 6 miles long.  I mentioned to an airline  worker there that there was no way we were going to make our flight.  She informed us that they’d call our flight number and pull us out of line when it was our turn.  She was correct.  That did happen.  But only after we stood in line for a tad over one hour.  We still had to hit security and we did with flying colors.  We got to our gate just as the plane was boarding.  We had a great tail wind and made it home almost 40 minutes early.  When I got home my husband had put the hickory bead board on the front of our counter in our kitchen that we tore apart in 2007.  Every time I take a trip he finishes something.  I’m trying to figure out how I can afford to take a week long trip once a month.  I have several other projects here I’d love to see completed.  In time and in patience.  All is well.


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Last Day In Sedona

Our last day in Sedona had dawned upon us.  We would have to leave very soon.  We decided to take one last hike in the early evening to our favorite spot.  It was the place we went on our first hike with our tour guide.  This place is called Airport Road.  Why?  Because it’s on the way to the tiny airport on the top of a mountain in Sedona.

There were a few people about enjoying our favorite place, but most were on bike rides or power walks.  No one really wanted to stay and sit.  We ran into an Asian lady who was freaked out about how high up she was.  She said she hadn’t seen any people for a long time and was worried about getting down the trail.  We pointed her in the correct direction.  She was thankful and afraid at the same time.  One side of this trail is pretty much a drop off, but I never felt unsafe.  Neither did the kids.  It was a fairly wide piece of trail but at the same time, it’s a very smooth rock.  I see where slippage could be a concern.

My friend and I of course wanted to settle in for one last meditation in this beautiful spot.  Did the kids?  Heck no.  They wanted to explore and throw rocks instead.  I was able to sit anyways, I can let things like that go.  My kid was antsy so I grabbed her and made her sit between my legs.  She was pretty unhappy about that but got over it pretty quick.  I think we got a good 5 minutes in before I heard my friend gathering rocks.  She looked at me and said, “You know what we’re supposed to do?”  I said, “What?”  And she replied, “This!”

So we built a heart as a thank you note for our guide.  Our girls chipped in gladly as we worked this puzzle.  This area also has green rocks scattered about.  I was really intrigued by them and I’d asked our guide what they were called.  I’ve forgotten now, but it doesn’t matter.  I placed a good pile of them in the center.  We took a few more photos and enjoyed the view.  Everyone was pretty quiet now.  I guess sometimes it just takes building a serious rock formation to calm the kids down.  They had a great time and didn’t want to leave this place.  They loved it as much as we did.  I feel lucky to have been able to share a journey like this with my daughter and two very special friends that I met in 2005 in the yoga room, imagine that.


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Amitabha Stupa

Our tour guide told us about this place and we could see the statue’s top when he took us to his home on Thunder Mountain.  We decided we needed to see it up close and personal.  So we did.  This was a short hike but a beautiful place as well.  There were pretty things along the way, not only in nature but things  placed by people.  

Once we got to the top a guy was leading a lady through a guided meditation, so we kept quiet.  The kids even honored that and didn’t throw any rocks.  That was something they’d enjoyed doing on all of our other hikes.  There are two shrines.  One is very large and another one down another path that is much smaller.  There’s also a gigantic Buddha.  It’s pretty cool.  My friend rested at the guided meditation site so I walked the kids to the smaller shrine.

I told the girls to pick up some pretty glass droplets that littered the area and make an offering since I didn’t want to leave gum.  Some people had done that.  They’d left chewed gum at that.  They’d also left flowers, jewelry and other trinkets.  It was interesting to see what people had left there.  The views here did not disappoint either.  This area was a bit different though as there were a lot of green pine trees.  They were lovely against the red rocks that’s for sure.  We left this wonderful place and headed back to our hotel for a long soak in the hot tub and the pool.  I was dreading the next day, as we would have to leave this magical place.


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A Day At Bell Rock

We woke up on Wednesday to clear blue skies and warmer weather.  We ate our breakfast quickly and got the hell out of the hotel.  Bell Rock was our destination and we wanted to be there by 9 a.m.  We made it on schedule.  This is another beautiful place and powerful vortex point.  Courthouse Rock is seated right next to it as well.  We started our hike towards the rock and peeled off our layers of clothing as we hiked. 

The kids found a place they wanted to climb so we stopped for a rest.  After a short break and a photo shoot, we headed out.  We didn’t hike to the top of this rock but hiked completely around it.  We spent about 4 hours at this place. 

From the back side of the rock, high on the ledge you can see for miles.   I got home and realized I did not take enough pictures of this place.  But that’s OK.  It’s in my mind and that’s the most important place for those images to be.

We looked for Stevie Nicks everywhere we went.  But she wasn’t hiding under any of the rocks that we turned over.

We met several people from different parts of the globe as we stopped on the ledge to take in the view.  Below I could see people hiking and riding bikes.  Straight across I could see the Church of the Holy Cross.  It’s built into the side of the mountain.  We didn’t make it there this trip. 

We hooked up with a senior couple from Canada.  They were trying to hike out of there and so were we.  We forged our own pathway out and down and they followed.  It was the right path to take as it took us between Bell and Courthouse Rocks. 

I had a tingling sensation the entire time I was in this area.  Vortex energy?  Altitude?  Excitement?  Who knows.  Who cares?  It was a beautiful day.


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Cathedral Rock

After our lunch and our tour with Akul, we were ready to explore on our own.  We decided that Cathedral Rock would be our first vortex stopping point.  Even though these places are parks, there are only like 10 parking spaces.  We circled and circled with a bunch of other people doing the same thing and finally said screw it.  We’re parking on the side of the road.  Our guide had told us if we hiked Cathedral Rock, to hike away from the crowds.  That’s a no brainer for me but we appreciated the information anyways.  The day was warmer than Monday of course and we weren’t experiencing snow.  Lots of clouds blew in though so we did have an overcast kind of day.

We started our hike and I noticed all the red dirt.  I immediately thought uh oh.  Missouri red clay.  It had rained the day before so the earth was a bit weepy.  But to my excitement, this red dirt is not like Missouri red clay.  This stuff shakes easily from the shoes as it’s more of a sandy mixture.  Grateful I was.  Let the hike continue.  We forged our own pathway and of course the girls were running way ahead of us.  A few moments later, we heard one of the kids yell, “Hey guys, there’s a medicine wheel up here!”  And there was.

It was a wheel of pretty good size as you can see compared to the 13 year old founder.  We found it to be pretty neat that we ran into this since we’d just been on a medicine wheel tour that morning.  Just another cool and very simple thing that happened on our vacation.  We did not hike to the top of Cathedral rock because it was starting to sprinkle.  This didn’t seem like a good place to be stuck if it were to storm.  Think lightning. 

  I was grateful for the zoom on my camera so I could bring some things closer to me.  Like this house for instance.  I think I’ll take this one.  Most of the homes are made of glass and that only makes sense.  Like I said before, there’s not a bad view in this city.  We hiked up to the ledge about halfway up the rock to take in the views from there. 

We also found a very twisted Juniper tree.  The trees grow in this twisted fashion where the energy is the strongest.  We hugged several of them.

We said good-bye to Cathedral Rock and I’m sure I’ll return there some day.  This is a beautiful place and you can easily kill an entire day here.  Be sure you allow time for that to happen.  It’s worth it.

 


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Medicine Wheel Man

Our tour guide, Akul showed up at our hotel right on time.  We’d booked a tour of medicine wheels and we were excited and ready for an adventure.  The girls had seen several pink jeep tours running about town.  They asked Akul when he entered the hotel if we were going to go on our tour in a jeep.  He smiled and said, “No, we’ll be going in a Taurus.”  I immediately liked this guy.  He was a bit beaten by the weather and was dressed in casual safari wear.  He asked us if we wanted to see places where medicine wheels had once been, or where new ones were today.  We said how about both and he replied with, “Good answer.”  We clicked and it was awesome.

Our first stop was at a road not far from our hotel.  The view above was where we planted ourselves for a short while.  He hauled a couple of bags of stuff up this trail.  We also hiked away from all of the other people which is exactly what I wanted to do.  Once we stopped he told us that this place was a previous ancient medicine wheel site.  If it wasn’t it missed a good chance to be because this place was amazing.   Akul set out 4 purple cushions for us to sit on.  We sat up high on a ledge and from here we could easily see the major vortex points of Sedona.  Cathedral Rock and Bell Rock to name two.  The view was magnificent.  We settled in for a meditation.  I heard the wind, I heard some birds and most importantly I heard my inner voice.  I hate it when that happens, because the inner voice is usually correct.  After our meditation we had a little discussion about what or how we felt.  He asked us about any visions we had.  One of the girls saw orange with a white dove.  The other one saw a green snake.  I got a few of the upper chakra colors in pastels which was different for me.  I can usually get a dark blue or purple with yellow or gold around it.  It was very easy to settle into meditation quickly in this place.  There’s just something about it that I cannot explain.  I have a feeling that I will live in this place at one point in my life.  But that’s not important right now.

After our discussion we had another short meditation.  We were smudged with sage and cedar.  I’d had this done before but out in the desert you cannot light a fire or make smoke, so we were spritzed with a smudge if you will.  He fanned us with the feathers of a few birds of prey and I liked the sound of the feathers flapping us.  Again we had a conversation about what we felt at this time.  And of course by now our two 13 year old girls were thinking that their mom’s were a couple of raging lunatics.  They were totally good sports.  We’d warned them ahead of time that this was not their vacation and they were lucky to be tagging along.  I know.  Evil aren’t we?   

After our meditation and smudging ceremony we headed down the mountain.  I didn’t want to leave.  We would return here on our last day.  I think it’s one of my favorite hiking places in Sedona so far.  It would also be a great place to take a mountain bike.  We hopped in the car and were driven to a private home.  In this yard a modern day medicine wheel was being constructed.  It was amphitheater-like with concrete walls and large flagstones in the center.  Someone was spending some serious time on this one.  It was way cool.  Our next stop was a new age store.  The store had a medicine wheel in the backyard.  In the center was a gigantic crystal, it was pretty cool as well.

 

Our third stop was at Le Rouge Spa and Hotel where ironically enough, Akul said his wife teaches yoga.  Sadly, I never made it to a class while I was there.  In the backyard at the hotel is a medicine wheel that he and his wife had constructed.  It was beautiful and had a walk way like a labryinth.  No one broke into any David Bowie songs from the movie Labryinth so it was all good.  I was afraid Lauren might start dancing and singing “jump magic, jump magic” but she didn’t.  I guess it could’ve been pretty funny if that would’ve happened though eh?

Our final stop was on Thunder Mountain at Akul’s home.  He told us about the Amitabha Stupa (giant Buddha nearby) that we could see on another day.  He has a pretty decent teepee (that he had built) in his backyard.  We entered through the little hobbit door and checked it out.  It was cool, just plain cool.  We all had a seat and talked a little about our day.  Akul grabbed a big Native American tambourine-like drum and started to chant an Indian song.  I totally forgot to ask him what it meant, go figure.  He sang for quite awhile and near the end his two big Alaskan Husky Wolf Mix dogs joined in.  It was awesome, so awesome that I thought he was going to cry.  I love hanging with people that are totally passionate about what they do.  He is definitely one of those people.  He spritzed us with this awesome smelling stuff from Peru.  He told the kids to pick a crystal out of this five gallon bucket and we were driven back to our hotel.

 

Once back at the hotel, we decided that lunch was in order.  Our 2 1/2 hour tour had lasted 3 hours and it was well worth it.  Akul has been featured in Elle Magazine and some other things as well.  And we found him because Darlene walked down the street to schedule a massage and picked up his brochure.  I love it when things fall into place like this.  When things are unplanned and turn out beautifully.  This is how I like to live my life.