Found our way home…

It was lovely, that road trip. Lots of hours there and back, in the car, with my best guy, talking, talking, talking. Or just riding, absorbed in our own thoughts, thrilled by the landscape (in which case we’re talking again), or I’m dipping into social media while trying not to miss anything real and at hand. But not sleeping – I don’t sleep in the car. I don’t do it well so I inevitably wake up with a wonky neck or some such, and if Kim’s going to do all the driving, even though it’s by his choice, I like to provide company and an extra set of eyes.

So down the highways we fly, maniacs on holiday, grabbing road food and snacks, health constraints cast to the wind. And then – DESTINATION REACHED!! The gracious welcome of my younger sister and bro-in-love and their suh-weet mountain retirement place. Days in the 70s and low 80s, nights 50s and 60s, house left open to the soft cool breezes nearly every day we were there. The pace is brutal and not for amateurs – get up when you feel like it…take a coffee mug out back…let breakfast evolve…sometimes Susan cooks delicious comfort food…sometimes the guys bring breakfast sammies or donuts home after PickleBall. The sun climbs, as it is wont to do…the big articulated umbrella is deployed…more coffee happens…and showers…and naps.

At some point a mid-afternoon lunch is discussed and one of the local mini-breweries/pizza-ovens/neighborhood bar & grills is chosen, maybe in one of the little communities a few miles on up the mountain, always tasty, always an experience, and then home to watch for elk from the back patio as they come in for water and treats the neighbors put out. Sometimes mamas and babies bed down right out there for the night, guarded by the bull who claims them as his.

It didn’t occur to us to take any pictures this trip, except of Payson the Dog, and of some of the two elk herds that are currently making that little corner of the huge Tonto National Forest their home. It’s a unique situation and we feel privileged to share that front-row vantage point every once in a while. My sis & bro get to observe it all on a daily basis – the big extended family of noisy crows living in the lodge-pole pines just past their picket fence; the bobcat they’ve seen a few times; the mountain lion that skirts the territory on occasion, widening his hunting grounds or looking for a mate; the coyotes the mama elk mercilessly drive out, running them ragged, keeping them away from their gangly spotted babies; the wild flurry of gray bushy-tailed squirrels, hopped up on hormones and possibly something fermented, holding manic squirrel parties that defy gravity and the limits of brain-wave activity‼️

We’re most definitely going to miss all that until next time, but Susan & JR have much on their plate for the near future. He has a set of electronic drums to continue exploring, and my sweet sister has a new set of knees to pursue. They’re longing for a visit from their second daughter and our baby sister and their significant others, so we must be very unselfish, for goodness sake‼️ Full disclosure, it’s hard to stay away from paradise once you discover where it is. 😎

The love of family is deeply healing in a world gone stupid. It’s addictive, and my heart absorbs it like rain on a hot day, so I tried to soak up enough to last a while, a challenge beyond my abilities, but a worthy goal nonetheless. The older I get – 72 as of this month – the more my family means to me. To say I love them is to massively understate what it is because it’s so much more than that, and now that we all have the time and wisdom to really know each other I want us to spend as much time together as possible while we’re all still here, even as our logistics are once again shifting. We, better than some, know life affords no guarantees.

Part of a harem…
2-yr-old Bull Elk
1st Year Mating
Learning to Manage Females
Keep a Good Thought for Him

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Running away from home…

Attitude adjustment time AGAIN! Best fix we’ve found is a road trip, so we’ll be doing that tomorrow morning, back to my sis and bro-in-love’s to feast & drink with them, and commune with the creatures of the forest for a decadent ten days. We’re taking JR a retirement gift he can put to use in the I Don’t Know band – it’s time for drummer Tiger to get his chops back, and this setup wasn’t doing Kim any good in storage!

It’s all electronic so he can play it through headphones and thus not disturb the animals or the neighbors, highly crucial to this deal.

Party on, kids, don’t let the world grow cold!

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Making peace…

Yes, we made that road trip and it was wonderful! This was our first one in a few years and we were thrilled to find that we’re still true road warriors, in spite of having relied on the airlines for all of our extended travel for a while now. Full disclosure, the process of flying wears me out far more than driving, especially with the benefit of ergonomic seats in a genuinely comfortable car, with my best California freeway guy at the wheel. Having said that, it’s taken me two full weeks to recover, but this is better, trust me.

My sister and bro-in-love have retired to the lodge-pole pine forest of the Southwest, up where it’s warm but not too warm and the air is supremely breathable (except in pockets where fires are still raging). Most days the humidity hovered around 5-15% and our skin drank lanolin like water. The mornings are cool and still, perfect for sitting on the back patio with coffee, watching iridescent hummingbirds attack the feeder while elk graze in the National Forest that butts up to the cedar picket fence. Later in the day they bring their spindly-legged, still-spotted babies with them. We got to watch four and a new one was born after we left. There’s a large, multi-generational crow family that’s intriguing to observe, not least because their King has a head roughly the size of a bowling ball and he’s as arrogant and raucous as you might imagine, with a wingspan to back it up.

The days evolve on their own, with maybe a ride to a sweet little spot a few miles up the road for The Best Hamburger in the World, or another day to a place that legit has the best pizza I’ve ever tasted, with all ingredients either grown on the premises or handmade there, wood-fired outdoors in the mountain air and served with the latest house brew. Memorable. Or mid-afternoon, perfect filet-mignon on the patio, with bakers and the whole menu. My brother-in-law is a genius at the grill.

It was definitely not all about food, although we lived like kings. One day they took us to Sedona, beautiful, mystical Sedona, of the red, red rocks and the spires and formations. The entire area is stand-alone gorgeous, but in order to give the neophyte a feel for why it’s become the mecca it has, I’m quoting from a generic Google search:

“The majestic red rock scenery and evergreen vegetation are two reasons for the unique energy of Sedona and its tangible regenerative and inspirational effects. …Sedona is also internationally known for the uplifting power of its Vortex meditation sites.”

You’re most welcome, of course, to explore that on your own time, but I’ll remember Sedona for the view from a back balcony on the main drag, the chips & salsa and cold beer we all shared there, and the perfect peace-symbol necklace Kim brought me when he came back with refills in the icy mugs. It’s so timely I want it around my neck every day.

Evenings in the forest are for the hot-tub and star-gazing…and peaceful sleep while the cool soaks into the house again.

After letting the road-weariness drain out of me, and the heavy-heartedness of recent months sift down to a numbness of mind that defied words and finally dissolved into inevitable tears, I’m ready, as a friend so wisely said yesterday, to surround myself with peace instead of drama on every level, a goal that takes intention. Life insists on bringing everything back to a mundane level, to silly jr high deceits and intrigues, infighting and craziness – and my new favorite sight (again, until I get it right) is that of my feet walking away.

Love and family are real – give me more of that, please.

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Annnnd…

ROAD TRIP, BABIES !!

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So many destinations …

If you were offered the chance to spend a week here,

would you go?

safari frame

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