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Grand Canyon – North Rim

October 13, 2011

Who loves the North Rim of the Grand Canyon???  I do!  I do!

It is just lovely especially because other than what nature provides, there is really nothing but the stone and timber Grand Canyon Lodge (circa 1928), a National Park Service campground with a General Store, showers, laundry facility and gas station, and one provider of mule rides.  That’s it.  I love it!  The South Rim by comparison is only about 10 miles away as the Raven flies (215 miles by car) and could not be more different what with all its many hotels, motels, tour buses, campgrounds, wide variety of tour operators, shops, more shops,  restaurants, etc, and PEOPLE.

My brother, Hill, and I arranged to meet up there (the North Rim) on Sunday for the first of our reserved three night stay.  We were lucky to get a spot since most sites are reserved up to a year in advance and the campground remains full from May thru October.  A cold front was just finishing up blowing through when we arrived as evidenced by the patchy snow on the ground and the 21 degree temperatures the first night.  He stayed in his Hoopty with a broken furnace and I stayed in my airy tent.  Fortunately we both came prepared, so passed the night in complete comfort.  It was really interesting driving across the flat desert area along the Vermilion Cliffs (Navajo Country) for miles and miles before beginning the ascent through Ponderosa Pine Forests to the North Rim which sits at over 8,000 ft.  To see pictures of the Vermilion Cliffs and learn more about them being the 2nd step in The Grand Staircase etc, click here.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vermilion_Cliffs

The next several days had us hiking, sightseeing, geocaching, attending the wonderful Ranger Programs etc.  My camera battery died literally as I was entering the Park, so I’m including Hill’s pictures below.  They are on the large side, so may take a while to load.

Here I am upon arrival taking a look at the view from the Campground, which overlooks a side canyon off the Bright Angel Canyon.  That pale band of rock you see across from where I’m standing completely circles the entire canyon and is fondly referred to as “the bathtub ring” of the Canyon.  This layer is made of Coconino Sandstone and was deposited approximately 275 million years ago, which makes it a Spring Chicken compared to the basement layer of rock found at the bottom of the canyon.  This basement layer made of Vishnu Rock clocks in at a whopping 1,870-1,680 million years ago.  Try to wrap your mind around that one!  I don’t know about you, but I can’t count that high.

Next, we took a little walk along the rim where we caught more spectacular views in addition to wildlife sightings.

Here we have a Mule deer, which are quite prevalent in these parts.

We also saw a few of these interesting looking, tufted ear Kaibab Squirrel, which are only found in this particular area of the North Rim and nowhere else in the World.

Ranger Programs were offered each afternoon and evening at the Lodge.  Here we are in front of the outdoor fireplace at one about Condors led by our new friend, Gaelyn.  Everybody say hey to Ranger Gaelyn!  Here she is showing us the coloration and actual wingspan of an adult Condor.

And one last shot of the Canyon before I move on to Canyon River Running.

Since Hill’s been out this way, he has been lucky enough to stumble upon a 23 day Colorado River raft trip through the Grand Canyon.  I am SO envious and happy for him.  His trip will begin as they all do at Lee’s Ferry, River Mile Zero, and will end 277 miles downstream, running through the entire length of the Grand Canyon.  What an amazing experience he’s going to have come November.  One of the evening Ranger Programs we attended happened to be about running the river, so that was great for him.  He also got to chat with the gal who gave the talk before and after and was able to get lots of good tips from her deep well of experience.

On my way home, I drove over to Lee’s Ferry to have a look-see and happened to catch a couple of guys putting in.  I took this shot with my iPhone, since my camera was still out of commission.  I don’t know about you, but does that raft look loaded down or what?  And with the videos I’ve seen of some of the rapids along the way…….  I hope to hook up with Hill at the end of November or early December to hear all about his trip and see his pictures.  What a fabulous opportunity.

And here is a final shot of the river just downstream from the put in.

That’s it for now.  Not much else going on besides studying for the near future, Oh, except for the fact that I’m going to LA in a week or so to take a class.  Should be interesting, so stay tuned for tales from LA.

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Newly Certified Massage Therapist at your service

October 8, 2011

The countdown is complete.  I have officially graduated from The Arizona School of Integrated Studies (ASIS) and am now a CMT, Certified Massage Therapist.  In case anyone is in need of an awesome massage, I am currently running a special:  $50 for 1 hour or $75 for 90 minutes.  I’ve got more than a few openings, so give me a call so we can schedule you in!!!

Leaving massage school is bittersweet for me…more sweet than bitter, but still.  It is going to be really odd not to arrive at school everyday, ready to study and learn and give and receive massage.  As  mentioned previously, I was in that one classroom with those same 14 or so people for the past 5 and a half months receiving over 800 hours of education.  What am I going to do come Monday morning?  Well, I’ll tell you.  I’ll be up on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon camping and hiking and taking a break before I come back  to begin studying in earnest for the National Board Exam.  I sent my application off with my “official transcripts” yesterday and should hear back from them within the next 2-4 weeks.  Once that happens, I’ll then be able to schedule a day to take the exam down in Phoenix at one of these National Examination Sites that seem to be located around the Country.

Here are a some photos of the Graduation Festivities.

What a motley crew.  Here we are having a toast amongst ourselves before the ceremony begins.

And here we are again as a group with a few extras thrown in.  Remember me telling you about Snowy?  Well, he’s the one to the left of me.

And here is our classroom all decorated for the Ceremony, which is about to begin.

Next is most of our class with our Certificates, roses, and crystals…no Cross pen and pencil sets for this crowd.

And finally, a shot of the potluck.

That’s it for now.  I’m off to the dog park with Misty and Mosely for the first time since last Spring.  The weather has cooled off nicely, so we are able to play outside for a change.

Question:  Where in the world are you when you see people dressed in wool hats and scarves and sheepskin coats when it is in the mid 60’s?

Answer:  Cottonwood, Arizona!

Stay tuned for tales from the North Rim.

Arizona Highlights and Happenings

September 18, 2011

Howdy everybody!

It was recently brought to my attention that my last post was way back on July 3oth.  Goodness, how time flies!  Since that time, I have been busy with school, busy with school, busy with school, taking extra courses in Craniosacral Therapy, starting my Hospice Training so I can give massage in the homes of patients, and praying for cooler weather.

Shortly after Labor Day, the cooler weather arrived along with my eldest brother, Hill.  After a nationwide search, he purchased a VW Eurovan here in Cottonwood and flew in to collect it.  He’s here getting organized before heading out on a Walkabout of his own.

To follow are some highlights of the happenings here in my little neck of the woods since last I posted.

Highlight #1.  The countdown has begun.  There are exactly 14 more school days until I graduate on October 6th.  Ceremony at noon.  Potluck Party at 1:00.   You are all invited.  Please bring a dish to share.

Highlight #2.  The Sedona Full Moon Drum Circle.  This event happens every full moon about half way up to the saddle of Cathedral Rock.  Folks just show up with their drums, flutes, glow in the dark hoola hoops and whatever else strikes their fancy and watch the moon come up while they dance and drum and juggle and hoola etc.  Here’s a link to a YouTube video from the August 13th circle.  You get a prize if you can spot my very brief appearance.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Apy8SsNqUpE

See Katie, Ben, and Coyo having fun dancing to the drums.

Highlight #3.  Hill arrives and sets up camp with Dora, Lil’ Pea, and me at #10 Turquoise Triangle, not to be confused with #10 Downing though I know the distinction may be tough.

Here he is enjoying the morning paper and coffee inside his rig.

Highlight #4.  Not too long after his arrival, I took him on a hike in Sedona.  We hiked Boynton Canyon, a gorgeous spot and home to one of the 4 main Vortexes (vortices?)  At the trail head, we ran into a guy playing a flute by his car.  Not a flute like you might see in an Orchestra, but a big wooden Native American flute that had been gifted to him.  He said he was trying to decide which one to take back into the canyon with him since they each resonated differently with the canyon itself and with the human body.  While neither Hill nor I felt the effects of the aforementioned Vortex, we were so very fortunate to hear this man playing his flute off in the distance as we neared the back of the canyon.  What a treat.

Here’s Hill with a view looking back up the Canyon.  This was Hill’s first visit to Sedona and I think it and the Boynton Canyon hike were a definite hit.

And look what we found on the way back to town.

Some of you may know why members of my family call me “Merge” from time to time.  It has to do with a childhood incident and a roadside sign similar to this one.  Sigh.

Highlight # 5.  My friend Jeanine and I took Hill to The Blue Hole in Sycamore Canyon where he braved the jump from the high ledge to the blue water below.  Here he is enjoying the general beauty of the area from his pre-jump perch.

Let’s see, what’s next?  Oh yes, Highlight #6.  I went on a brief hike yesterday up in Sedona and stumbled upon the Cockscomb Loop trail, which was exciting because it is one I had read about the day before in relation to single track mountain biking.  Why was I researching area single track trails you ask?  Because my sister and a friend from Alaska are coming to Sedona in the Spring for a week of mountain biking and hiking fun in the sun!  Yipppppeeeee!

Here’s a shot I took while on the Cockscomb Trail.

Highlight #7.  And the final highlight is the fact that we have the work of a famous British street artist right here in small town Cottonwood.  To quote from Wikipedia,

Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.

His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique. Such artistic works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.[1]    To see more of his work, http://www.banksy.co.uk/.  I don’t see anything subversive or irreverent about this particular piece of art.  In fact I drive by it twice a day and it always makes me smile.

That’s it for now.  I hope all of you are doing well.  Stay tuned for more AZ happenings.

Sycamore Canyon, Arizona

July 30, 2011

Last Sunday, Coyo, Jeanine, Mishe, and I set off for an afternoon at the “Blue Hole” pictured at the tail end of my last post.

As you could see, “The Blue Hole” is just lovely and now you know it’s located in Sycamore Canyon, which is a deep, remote gorge formed by Sycamore Creek at the edge of the Colorado Plateau in Northern Arizona.   Rumor has it that Geronimo used this canyon from time to time to hide his whereabouts from those in pursuit.  The rim of the canyon is over 6,000 ft and the creek bed is well over 2,000 feet below.  Only pedestrian and equine traffic are allowed in the canyon itself and the trailheads are only accessible by dirt or gravel fire roads.  Fortunately one of these trailheads is only about 10 miles from my massage school and The Blue Hole is just a few miles hike from there.  Since the temps these days are reaching into the low 100’s without even trying, the many large trees and various swimming holes along the way kept us cool as we made our way up canyon.

This is Jeanine and Coyo at one of the swimming holes along the trail.  It was so hot, we had to stop and cool off.  The creek you see behind them is fed by natural springs located a short distance away.  Pretty lush for a desert, huh?  That’s because it’s a fairly rare Riparian Forest.

And here I am on my pink raft at The Blue Hole.  It makes me laugh because a cactus thorn bit my raft on the way in so it had a slow leak and by the end of our time at the creek, it became more of a drowning hazard than a flotation device.

And here is Mishe catching a ride out of the canyon.  He hiked all the way in on his own, but by the afternoon, the sand was so hot he was happy to have a lift to keep from burning is feet.  What fun for me too!  I loved having a dog I could put in my backpack.  Perhaps my next dog will be a “pocket dog” of some sort.

That’s it from Sycamore Canyon.

Today, I’m off to study at the pool and later on will set up my little chair massage business, Relaxation Station, at the Concert In The Park in Clarkdale.  I think tonight is Rhythm and Blues.

4th of July in Alaska!

July 24, 2011

Hello!

I feel like my trip to Alaska was ages ago, but really I just got back two weeks ago today and what a wonderful trip it was.  That place feeds my soul, no doubt about it.  While I have lots of wonderful things to accomplish between now and then,  I am very much looking forward to heading back up there as soon as the weather allows in 2012, and have in fact been hatching plans of all sorts to support that effort.

From the moment I stepped off the plane and saw the smiling faces of Devin and Pearlie Girl to the time I stepped back on the plane after hugging the same said Devin and Pearlie Girl goodbye, my time was spent doing all the things I love to do with all the people I love doing them with.  What a treat…and it surely didn’t hurt that the weather was just lovely the entire time with hardly a rain drop and lots of sun.  Gosh I was glad to be back up there and feel quite lucky to call it home.

Here are some of the shots I took during the week.

Marilyn and I had a wonderful time hiking the Blueberry Trail before hitting the steam room at the Alaska Club to soothe muscles and to solve the problems of the World, which is what we like to do while steaming.

Take a look at our company along the trail.  A young Mama and her new baby…maybe 2-3 months old.  They were quite close to us and posed nicely until we decided it was time to move on.

But before we reached the Trailhead, Marilyn hunted up a cache in about a nano second that took Devin and me several trips and many, many, many chunks of minutes to find the previous summer.  Go Marilyn!

Here’s a shot of Devin, Marilyn, and me on a geocaching hike down the Arm (the Turnagain Arm) one afternoon.

And here’s a shot of Devin on the Summit of Lazy Mountain out in the Matanuska Valley and let me tell you, there is absolutely NOTHING lazy about that mountain.  It kicked our butts.  We gained an average of 2000 feet of elevation for every mile we hiked and for those of you who know, know that is one STEEP trail.  Goodness.  Anyway, it was a gorgeous, sunny day and all was wonderful with the world…plus, we each picked up about 10 geocaches for our effort…not to mention the spectacular views….so it was completely worth it.

In addition to a geocache and a summit log on the summit, there is also a monument to Wounded Warriors placed there by the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose goal is to bring awareness and support to wounded warriors of this generation.

To learn more, click here, http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/content/view/1135/1151/

And to end, a shot of my friend and host Carol along with her dog, Sunny once again on the Turnagain Arm Trail, but down the Arm a bit from the earlier hike.  Just lovely.

So that’s it for the week in Alaska.  I did everything I wanted to do and had the best time.  I don’t think I stopped smiling and must admit to a bit of internal resistance when it came time to leave, but now that I’m back at school in AZ, all is as it should be.

Stay tuned for tales from a day at the river in Sycamore Canyon located in the lovely Verde Valley from whence I just returned.  Here’s a teaser…it’s called The Blue Hole and its lovely.

Long time, no see. Massage School Happenings since last we met.

July 15, 2011

Howdy everyone!!!  It’s me!  Remember?  The crazy lady who sold everything, bought an RV and roamed the Country for a bit before landing in Massage Therapy School in Arizona?  Well, I’m still alive and kickin’.  Hope you are too.

Gosh, it’s been a long time since my last post.  Almost 2 months by my calculations.  I hope all of you have been doing well and are enjoying a lovely summer thus far.  Me?  I’ve been focused on massage school pretty much exclusively…other than my recent trip up to Alaska, but I’ll save that for next time as I think it deserves its own post.  Today, I’ll just fill you guys in on some of the happenings at massage school since last we met….if I can remember back that far that is.

Turns out, I had to take a walk down memory lane through the “Pictures” section of my computer to remind myself of some of the above mentioned happenings.  So, without further ado, let’s take a look at Adult Education in the world today as seen through the eyes of ASIS.

First off we have a photo of our Anatomy & Physiology class learning about the human body at the cellular level.  Below you’ll find us studiously learning about cell function, cell membranes to be precise.  Here we are demonstrating the fact that the cell membrane is a phospholipid bilayer.

Later on, I got to play the part of the Mitochondria, the cell’s powerhouse, which was almost as fun as the time I got to play the TinMan in The Wizard of Oz.

Next we have a few shots from one of our Kinesiology classes where we were learning the muscles of the upper leg, which include the adductors, the hamstrings, and the quads.  The exercise involved palpating each muscle on your partner and then coloring it in on his or her leg with washable markers.  Take a look!

And here I am with Mukto.  Lord, I’m tall.  Sometimes I forget until I see a picture like this.

Check out the bipinnate rectus femorus.  It’s the one that looks like a feather.  And can anyone spot the Pes-Anserine?  Ha!  I seem to be showing off my new-found knowledge.

Let’s see, what do we have next…oh yes, another A&P class with the ever knowledgeable and wonderful, Susan who is a Doctor of Naturopathy.  How lucky are we to have such a fabulous teacher.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, that is a skeleton, Play-Do and yarn.  Not only do we get to draw on each other, and act out the function of the cell in a most creative fashion, but we get to play with Play-Do.  Can you stand it?  I LOVE adult education.  In the shot above, you can see we are making muscles out of Play-Do and placing them on Skinny (or Mr. Bones if you prefer) in the proper place and depth paying particular attention to Origin and Insertion points.  While the play-do and yarn made this piece of learning fun, this was actually quite challenging so made for a tough class.  I think we’d all rather have been receiving a Spa Treatment.

Did someone say Spa Treatment?  Well.  Every so often, the school throws in a Spa Treatment for us to learn.  Spa Treatments are certainly not the focus of the school, but are included to round out our education and to accommodate those who may wish to make Spa work their home after graduation.  Spa days are a lovely treat since they are basically mindless and feel awfully good.

Here I’ve got a few pictures of our Mud Wrap day where we actually made the mud mask to be used.  It’s been so long, I can’t recall off the top of my head too many of the multiple ingredients in the mask, but do remember that they were all organic and edible including the clay. This school, is very big on using edible ingredients on the body since the skin absorbs so much of what is put on it.   The very few ingredients I remember are:  clay, honey, lavender, salt…yup, that’s about all I remember of what must have been over a dozen ingredients.  Anyhoo, we partnered up, smothered each other with the mud, wrapped each other up in sheets like a mummy, and allowed the mud to dry.

Here’s  Mukto giving a treatment to somebody.  It’s hard to tell who with all the mud and such, but if I had to guess, I’d say that’s Joan in her towel draping and covered in mud.

And here we have the ever smiling Joshua in his towel draping and mud.

And here I am wrapped in my mummy sheet and left to dry.  I bet this reminds Elo and Heather of that day we spent at the Roman Baths in Baden-Baden.  Remember?  I do.   Remember when we got reprimanded by the German Frau for doing hand stands and playing Marco Polo in the “quiet pool”?  Of course Sweet Heather had no part in those shenanigans and was likely mortified by our behaviour….but I digress.

What do we have next?  Oh yes, fun times in the Verde River.  A few of us drove out Sycamore Canyon for a Sunday afternoon of fun and sun at the river.  What fun it was to jump into the cool water and float downstream to our hearts content and then swim back up the gentle current to our lounging spot.  We took a watermelon, which we chilled in the river while we gave each other salt scrubs (another spa treatment we had learned earlier).  I remember having the feeling of my cup running over on this day.  What a gift.

Take a look at Maki, Katie, Michael, and the watermelon floating around in the Verde River.

That’s it for school stuff, but I have one more shot for your viewing pleasure.

Since I’m not much of a silent sufferer, I bet you’ve heard about my ongoing shoulder issues and that I’ve been receiving regular massage.  Well, I got to a place where I felt massage had taken me about as far as it was going to, so I decided to try acupuncture and what better place than Sedona to find a qualified and reputable acupuncturist (perhaps other than China or Chinatown)?

Who loves Dr. Robert Abrahamson OMDLA?  I do!  I do!  My search for the above mentioned acupuncturist led me to him and his practice, Sedona Acupuncture.  For more information you may click here, http://www.sedona-acupuncture.com/.  Robert received his Doctorate in Oriental Medicine in China over 30 years ago (after a stop in London for some of the pre-med stuff and to learn to speak Chinese) and has been practicing ever since.  A point of interest is to note that Oriental Medicine was not taught in the United States at the time.  Anyway, I could easily devote an entire post to my first visit, but I think I’ll just show the photo at this time.

You can see a few of the needles and all the cups.  These are Korean suction cups and many of them are covering a needle.  Cupping is often used in conjunction with acupuncture to help release congested Chi and such as that.  Acupuncture and Cupping have been used for healing for thousands and thousands of years.  You know, we have recently gotten in to the Energy modalities at school like Shiatsu and Polarity Therapy and I find them absolutely fascinating, so it was especially cool to see how what I am learning in school, specifically The 5 Element Theory, is used in real life acupuncture.  But that’s a topic for another day and time.

That’s it for now.  My apologies for taking so very long between posts.  Please stay tuned for the upcoming post on my recent trip to Anchorage.

Cheers!

Human Anatomy: An Up Close Look

May 22, 2011

Yesterday a few of us took a field trip down to the Phoenix Science Center to see the Body Worlds Exhibit.  Amazing.  Have any of you guys seen it?  I had no idea they were real bodies!  I guess I thought they were replicas, but I was wrong.

Seeing the exhibit was especially interesting and helpful since we are all studying Human Anatomy in Massage School (http://asismassage.com/) and we were fortunate to have Joe, the founder of ASIS and  one of its owners with us.  He did a great job of explaining and expanding on the exhibits and tied them back to what we are studying at school.  In the photo below, we have Maki and Michael in the back row and Brandon, Erin, Coyo, and Joe in the front.

Here is an excerpt describing the exhibit from Wikipedia:  Body Worlds  is a traveling exhibition of preserved human bodies and body parts that are prepared using a technique called plastination to reveal inner anatomicalstructures. The exhibition’s developer and promoter is German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, who invented the plastination technique in the late 1970s at the University of Heidelberg

Body Worlds was first presented in Tokyo in 1995. Body Worlds exhibitions have since been hosted by more than 50 museums and venues in North America, Europe, and Asia.

The exhibit states that its purpose and mission is the education of laymen about the human body, leading to better health awareness.   All the human plastinates are from people who donated their bodies for plastination via a body donation program.

Each Body Worlds exhibition contains approximately 25 full-body plastinates with expanded or selectiveorgans shown in positions that enhance the role of certain systems. More than 200 specimens of real human organs and organ systems are displayed in glass cases, some showing various medical conditions.

Some of the specimens, such as the Tai Chi Man, demonstrate interventions, and include prosthetics such asartificial hip joints or heart valves.  Also featured is a liver with cirrhosis and the lungs of a smoker and non-smoker are placed side by side (along with one from a coal miner). A prenatal display features fetuses and embryos, some with congenital disorders.

To produce specimens for Body Worlds, von Hagens employs 340 people at five laboratories in three countries, China, Germany and Kyrgyzstan. Each laboratory is categorized by specialty, with the China laboratory focusing on animal specimens. One of the most difficult specimens to create was thegiraffe that appears in Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life. The specimen took three years to complete – ten times longer than it takes to prepare a human body. Ten people are required to move the giraffe, because its final weight (like all specimens after plastination) is equal to the original animal.

If you’d like, you can learn more at:  http://www.bodyworlds.com/en.html or you can watch a quick video here:  http://www.bodyworlds.com/en/prelude.html

Photography wasn’t really allowed, but I couldnt’ help but take just a few photos.  The ice skaters pictured below in a Death spiral was my favorite.  Take a look.

Pretty cool, huh?  And these are real bodies of real people who donated their bodies to this project.  If you are interested in seeing the donation forms and process, you can click here:  http://www.bodyworlds.com/en/body_donation.html

I also took a photo of Sagittal Man, who was left in tact, preserved in plasticine, and was then cut into parallel sections along the sagittal plane.  You can see he appears to be sort of pudgy, middle-aged man.

This horse and rider was not included in the particular exhibit I saw in Phoenix, but I thought it was worth showing a photo of.  It took over 3 years to complete the horse compared to the 8 months to year it takes to complete a human.

So that’s it for the exhibit.  Afterwards, we headed to the nearby Pizzeria Bianco for delicious salads and pizza before driving the two hours or so back north to Clarkdale.

Stay tuned.