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Should I stay or should I go?

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If you are looking for a challenging yet serene hike without traveling far from the heart of Palm Desert, the Hop-a-Long Cassidy trail, at the south end is your best bet.  It is a peaceful stretch with grueling switchbacks and daunting ledges which lies between the Art Smith trail and the infamous Cross trail (near Stone Eagle Golf course).  This trail is, by no means, for the faint of heart and it absolutely warrants you bringing plenty of water especially on warmer days.  Far too many rescues have taken place on ill-prepared travelers of this trail.  Every time I hike this, I shake my head in disbelief to recall the few times I traversed this beast on my mountain bike.   i’ll equate it to either being horribly foolish or dangerously self-confident!   This is one I never have to ride again.

My most recent solo hike (not recommended, by the way) had me questioning my own sanity.  After traveling up and over the first few sets of switchbacks and along the steep, narrow ledges, I began dropping into the canyon paving the way to the final set of killer switchbacks.  I spotted a herd of bighorn sheep ahead and I stopped to watch them for a few minutes.   They had positioned themselves across the trail I needed to travel.  I began to consider turning back and returning via the Art Smith trail where I had begun.  i waited a bit longer and decided making noise may scare them off and send them scattering.  Nope.  My noise only made them curious.  They were now staring up at me.   I picked up some large rocks and launched them, sending them skipping down the mountain, close enough to hopefully scare them but far enough not to threaten their safety.  No luck.  They continued to stare.

I scratched my head.  It was a fairly warm day and I knew turning back would be just as grueling as traversing the switchbacks and heading out.  I made several more attempts to scare the sheep off of the trail but they weren’t having any part of it.  So I did what any rational hiker would do and began moving toward the herd.   Now mind you, if they were to charge, I would have no where to go and there’s not a chance ANYBODY would be able to hear my screams for help.  I was too deep into this.  As I got to the turn in the trail, I made an about-face and turned back toward my starting point.   This was going to have to wait for another time.    Just then I heard a rumbling.  Something had spooked the sheep and they scattered from the trail.   I watched with a steady eye as they made there way up the steep canyon wall and then I made my move and began jogging down the trail and across he stretch they had previously occupied.  I didn’t stop running until I reached the sandy wash and knew I was a good distance from the sheep.

And, by the way, YES!  I am afraid of bighorn sheep as I have been chased by a ram on more than one occassion. . . .and I have witnesses.   But that’s a story for another time.

For more information on the Hop-a-long trail and for safe hiking tips in the desert, click for the links.   Be safe and be smart!

 

This Magical Desert

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Take a quick look at my instagram or my facebook page and there is NO question that I LOVE this desert and all the adventure and exploring it has to offer.

I often think back to the days when I had first moved here to the Palm Springs area from my lifelong hometown near Detroit, Michigan.  We had just survived another humid summer dodging mosquitos the size of hummingbirds and watching the rainstorms all weekend long give way to bright and sunny Monday mornings.  You could almost count on it every week.   But here I was, driving down Highway 111 staring up with the sun in my eyes at these mountains wondering how long it would take somebody to walk to the top of each ridge.  I remember thinking how I couldn’t wait to meet somebody who might be willing to get up there with me and show me the way.

In all honesty, I still look up at the mountains with that same yearning.   At almost any given time, I’d prefer to be making my way up the mountain simply to enjoy the peacefulness and the view.   I just feel as though I truly come alive on the trails.

Over the next several weeks my plan is to share some of my adventures with you.  Funny, and sometimes frightening, stories from the trails along with some of my favorite views.  Check back soon.  I’ll be back with some good dirt. 😉

Time for a change

I recently completed two writing courses that challenged me to dig a little deeper and explore areas and ideas I’d been afraid to attempt before now.  This was very rewarding as I discovered a lot about myself and about my ability or talent, if you will, along the way.   I’ve decided it is high time I get back to posting and maintaining my page.  I’m going to begin by sharing a few pieces I developed during the course.  I hope you enjoy them and if you don’t, I hope you’ll be kind as they were posted to share love, enlightenment and positive energy.

 

Change

can come

like a rug being yanked out

from beneath your firmly planted feet

sending you twisting and tumbling down

a long descent of stairs

When you come to rest

choose carefully

Will you lie there lifeless? Defeated?

Or will you spring to your feet

bounding up each step as if it were your first

marveling at the journey

refreshed by the beauty

of new choices?

Change

can happen

so slowly and stealthily

nearly undetectable as it inches in

creeping up on you and swallowing you whole

before you realize nothing is the same

When you discover yourself

in a new landscape of mindset

will you kick and scream?

Will you close your eyes to it all?

The walls you built up seemed so strong

will they now crumble?

Or will you perch high a-top the walls of change

Embrace the vantage point

and fly?

Love and gratitude

A bumpy start to Christmas Eve and an incredibly crooked railway of emotions.
Started the day with wishing Kevin a safe ride as he headed out on his bike. Moments later, the screaming sirens jolted me from bed (waaaay too close for comfort). Out the door in my sweats to clear my mind of the unthinkable fear that those sirens were too close to home. As I got to the end of the street and a flood of police cars filled the intersection, I was relieved to realize the screeching of tires and screaming of sirens were not for him. Perhaps my heart sat a little stiller into my chest. However that stillness dissipated quickly as it appeared the police cars were arriving in front of my neighbors home (a Palm Desert Police officer). No dear God, please.

It wasn’t until later in the day we were informed that the swarm of police were in response to the arrest warrant for a different neighbor who allegedly beat his girlfriend, my son’s teacher, to death. No! in our quiet neighborhood? A woman who was adored and respected by her students and peers? At Christmas time? So incomprehensible.

Please, all of you, despite any shortcomings or disagreements or differences, give thanks for those around you. Give thanks for the moments spent together.

Sadly, we never know if these may be our last. With a deep heart for the family of Ms Grant, her students and all those missing loved ones this holiday season and with incredible gratitude for those who surround me and my family with love, please embrace these moments. And spread the love.

Merit. Are you worthy?

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A few weeks back as high school graduation ceremonies we’re taking place all over the country I began thinking about merit. By definition merit is having earned or being deserving of accolades or praise. I couldn’t help but wonder if a large portion of this graduating generation has a clue what merit really means.
In this day of instant gratification and ‘daddy ball,’ do these kids understand what it means to truly EARN praise or accolades? You don’t earn merit because mommy or daddy sits on the boosters or works for the school or district. You don’t earn merit by making noise and whining and complaining. You don’t earn merit by having mommy or daddy write a big check or pull strings with their social connections. And you most certainly don’t earn merit solely on seniority or merely by attendance.
You earn merit by digging in and giving your best. By educating yourself and pushing yourself. By going above and beyond to better yourself and putting in the hours, the training, the dedication. That’s merit.
All too often students (enabled by their parents) expect because they’re seniors they deserve more praise, and in sports, more play time. They have the convoluted idea (often caused by coddling) that newcomers, freshmen or younger students/athletes don’t deserve to be recognized for their ability. Parents complain to school administration and coaches that poor Jack or Jill aren’t getting enough attention or playtime — that the freshman shouldn’t be chosen over them. Are you serious? The incoming freshman have taken the extra effort and initiative to train harder, learn more, become better. Meanwhile Jack and/or Jill just showed up when they felt like it. They didn’t make any extra effort.
So tell me again why Jack and/or Jill deserve more attention? Because they’re older?
Let’s see how that plays out in the real world because I would think many of us can agree that high school is so far from real life in most cases. Is a CEO chosen because he’s the ‘hottest’ or because he’s dating the head cheerleader? Or because he throws the most Awesome parties? No. Not unless you think reality TV is actually real. Which, BTW, it’s not. (Sorry if I popped your bubble with that news flash).
If you want recognition or praise then you better be prepared to earn it because the popularity contest ends in high school unless, of course, you’re a Kardashian.
Best wishes to all the high school graduating seniors class of 2013. Get out there and do your best. Make an impression that matters.

Winning attitude

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Sitting in the stands watching my daughter’s club Waterpolo team compete in USA Waterpolo’s Junior Olympics is such an honor. A few weeks ago they battled it out with the best teams across the country to qualify for the platinum bracket. Now here we are beneath the sunny skies of Southern California on the pool deck cheering our girls on! Only one thing is different today. Where’s the fire? Where’s the drive? Because today, in this match, I don’t see it and it upsets me.
It seems the girls knew this match would be tough as the opposing team was the top seated in their bracket and they did not show up to win. They hardly showed up to play. Wait! Before you accuse me of being an overbearing parent with high expectations ….oh hell, perhaps I am a little. But here’s my point of view. Would you get into a car and say “oh well, we’re going to crash anyhow, so why steer?” Of course not! So why show up to a game and not give it your best?
Case in point, a few weeks back, I competed in a mountain bike race–my first in a few years. As we headed off the line and along the course, there was an obstacle blocking one of the directional signs (honestly, it was a spectator who shouldn’t been where he was). Several of us at the head of the pack missed the arrow pointing to ride over the ridge and instead we followed the established trail down a steep descent only to dead end a good 1/4 mile off course! Angry and upset, we turned around and had to now climb back up that steep slope as we helplessly watched many slower riders pass by and take a substantial lead! Are you kidding me?!? By the time we were back on course, their dust had settled and we were at an extreme disadvantage. This was just the first loop. Did we quit? Did we lay our bikes down and return to the start for a DNF? No! We rallied and we pushed each other to try and make up those several lost minutes. We encouraged each other although we were competitors. In our attempts to get around the slower riders we encountered multiple obstacles that wouldn’t have come into play had we not fallen behind. Riders who couldn’t maneuver the loose sandy corners or the rocky climbs and they slowed the course. In the end, I didn’t finish nearly as well as I would have hoped for but I finished despite the issues. And I finished proud because I gave it my all and did my best. Sure I was disappointed at first, but in the end I was thankful. Thankful for my health that allowed me to even be there. For my strength, both mental and physical, that carried me through. And, yes, thankful for the lesson that sometimes things don’t go exactly as planned but we can still make the best of them. Mostly, thankful for a winning attitude!
So ladies, don’t sell yourselves short…ever. Don’t throw in the towel before the bath has even begun. Dig down, do your best and, win or lose, come out with a winning attitude. It means more in the big scheme of things than any scoreboard could ever mean!

Happy New Year!

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As the New Year rolled in, millions of people scattered across the globe were pondering their New Years’ resolutions.  I’m not much different.  I am hoping, however that my resolution has resounding repercussions as I set my sights on having more resolve !  It should be a win/win situation . . . .I’m obviously optimistic! […]