Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013 and Hello to 2014; Wonder What's in Store for the New Year?

Wish List for the 2014 New Year

Every New Year, it's a tradition to make a list of "resolutions" that most people end up not keeping. It's a good concept, but unfortunately we tend to make goals for ourselves that are more wishful thinking than practical. Then there is the "wish list"; concepts or ideals that we hope will get resolved for the New Year, but is dependent on others, not just ourselves; for instance, "World Peace". Back to being practical, this will more than likely not happen in our current lifetime, perhaps not at all in the lifetime of mankind itself. War is profitable, oh not to those fighting, losing their lives and leaving loved ones without them; but for those who are either greedy or need to prove that they are right. Politics and Religion do not go hand in hand, they are Siamese Twins joined in such a manner that any type of "surgery" guarantees death. The leaders of these groups have been raised up to the status of "omnipotent gods" instead of being recognized as simple human beings with flaws and capable of being wrong. Until the populace develops "common sense" and refuses to hold these humans in higher regard than their own lives, the business of war will always be more profitable than life itself. The popular quote from Rodney King is, "Why can't we all just get along?", but we cannot so long as the majority of human beings meekly follow along as "sheeple" those that they consider "right". If each political and/or religious leader is right, than how can anyone be wrong, and what is all the fighting truly about?

So for the New Year of 2014, I'm not going to waste my time making resolutions that I probably will not keep, perhaps not even begin. I am going to make a wish list that is dependent on others. Why? I want to see if anyone is listening, not just hearing; I want to see if anyone cares about a stranger and wants to help her obtain her "wish list" for a very simple reason...just because.

Wish #1: All loans and credit card debts are paid off in full. Start the New Year off free of all old debts; begin at zero and build upwards instead of being held down.

An old fashioned "comfort food" diner; yeah, that's my dream.

Wish #2: My food blog, Food Adventures of a Comfort Cook, becomes so popular that an entrepreneur actually wants to invest money into the restaurant idea I dream about.

Wish #3: My travel blog, The Southwest Through Wide Brown Eyes becomes so popular that a company actually gives me a brand new Jeep or SUV (with their advertising printed on the vehicle) for my use in furthering my excursions.


Wish #4: For my husband, Roy, that his Artwork becomes so high in demand, he can finally afford to build his own art studio and do what he went to school to study for, and loves. Or he gets that high paying job with a studio, either way he would be doing what he loves. The picture I've posted is one he did by taking one of my photos of Agathla Peak and doing "photo manipulation" to it; Roy's passion is graphic arts and digital artwork.

"El Diablo Towers" - a photo manipulation of Agathla Peak

Wish #5: This wish is for the town I live in, Monticello, Utah and has several parts.

A: That common sense finally prevails, more businesses are allowed into the town limits, allowed to flourish and, thereby, providing more funds for the town itself.

B: That the housing market has an upsurge; all properties are finally purchased, homeowners have, or receive, the finances to upgrade their homes; that Monticello, Utah makes it into the "Top 100 Places to Live in the USA" list.

C: That the town becomes a tourist mecca; employment will be non-existent due to the need; businesses of all types will, again, flourish.

Wish #6: That the medical professions and pharmaceutical companies stop jerking everyone around and finally release the cures for cancer, diabetes, AIDS and other diseases/illnesses that are so very profitable for them. I have Type 2 Diabetes and am so sick and tired of pills and insulin shots; I'm sick of pharmaceutical companies putting out commercials saying that as soon as you're diagnosed, you must use their products or suffer the consequences, including death. I'm sick of organizations asking for research donations, and they're the same organizations I've been seeing begging for money for over 50 years. What are they doing with all that money, over all those years, that they haven't developed a cure yet!!??!!

Six wishes, I'm not going to be greedy; then again, I'm not a politician or religious leader. Not all the wishes are about me either, they're about my husband, the town I live in, and for those suffering medically. I have lots of wishes inside my head, but I'm sticking to these six, since they're the most important of all to me.

Have fun at your end of the old year parties; don't drink till you end the year looking like a total ass; the next day is a whole new year and people will be remembering. Most especially do not drink and drive; don't end the year by ending your own life and/or the lives of others.

A Happy and Healthy New Year to everyone, everywhere; and for my wish list...bring it on!!!

Mary Cokenour

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Arizona's Canyon de Chelly is a MUST Visit.

December 26th, my birthday; so what more perfect of a day than to write about my first visit to Canyon de Chelly, located in Arizona.  Awhile back, I wrote about the adventure down Route 191 just to get to the entrance of this National Park, that was your travel appetizer.  This write up on the North Rim of this park will be only part of your main dish; once I get to the South Rim, you'll get the rest of your meal.  The visitation time estimated, in the brochure you receive at the park, of the North Rim overlooks alone is about one hour; don't believe it if you're like me and my hubby who love to explore and take photos.  We were there for almost three hours, and that's without going on any of the guided tours offered; just exploring the three overlooks.

Canyon de Chelly is free...zero, zip, no entry fee; make sure though to stop at the Visitor Center and get a map of the area.  The North Rim is Route 64 and the only turn offs you should be making are to the overlooks; this is a populated area, so don't be trespassing onto private property.  Oh, while you're at the Visitor Center, take a look at the Hogan that is built outside; it gives you a good idea about the style of the Native American home.

By the way, once you park your vehicle in the parking area of each overlook, a sign will warn you to take all valuables and you will have to walk over rock and dirt; there are no paved walkways to the overlooks.   Do NOT bring any pets with you and hang on to children; while there is a short (very short) rock wall around the designated overlook itself; the surrounding cliffs are open to air and a very long fall to the valley below.

There are little footprints pressed into some of the rocks to help guide you to the overlooks; some are painted, but mainly worn.

The first overlook is Antelope House; aptly named for petroglyphs (rock art) found in the area of antelope.  The valley below is lush and lovely, with farming still going on and you will spot homes for families that still live in the area.  Not for anything, but Roy and I both felt it would not be a bad thing to live in such a beautiful place.  On the other side of the overlook are sandstone walls lined with caves, didn't notice any ruins inside any of them, but they're still interesting to see.

Antelope House Petroglyphs

Antelope House Ruins

Del Muerto Canyon, Navajo Fortress, Black Rock Canyon

Do not be too quick to go back the way you came to the parking area; trek over the rocks to another overlook that isn't marked on the map, but you will see "Navajo Fortress" mentioned though.  Navajo Fortress is a huge sandstone formation that divides Del Muerto Canyon from Black Rock Canyon (site used in the 2013 film, "The Lone Ranger").  Again, you can see how lush the valley is, and a homestead at the opening to Black Rock Canyon

Navajo Fortress, Black Rock Canyon

Del Muerto Canyon

So, while the brochure said that the North Rim takes about one hour; we managed to spend an entire hour just at these two locations.  There were also a couple of Navajo women selling jewelry and pottery at the parking area; Roy purchased a beautiful black and white vase called "Horsehair Pottery"; a technique that creates fine lines by burning in the hair from the mane of the horse, and thick lines from the hair of the tail.

The next two overlooks are very near each other, Mummy Cave and Massacre Cave.
Don't cheat yourself by just concentrating on seeing ruins; stop and take a good look at some of the natural scenery.  The balance between rocks, sands and natural greenery is serene.

Mummy Cave Overlook; so named for actual mummies found in the area.  You will find yourself being drawn towards the cliff edges, not just to get a better view of the ruins, but to look out as far as you can see.  Talk about being at the top of the world!

Mummy Cave Ruins

"On the Edge of Glory"

Massacre Cave Overlook is also known as "Two Fell Off"; during the 1805 massacre by Spanish soldiers of the Native Americans in this area; a lone female took one of the soldiers with her, over the cliff's edge, to their deaths.  Unfortunately, the cave where the Native Americans chose to hide was not very deep, and you can see how easily the soldiers were able to fire their rifles into it.

Massacre Cave

While at Massacre Cave Overlook, we were treated to an aerial show; adult ravens teaching the younger ones to fly; to ride the wind, soaring upwards, or jetting into the valley and pulling up in time not to crash into the ground below.  At times they hugged the cliff face so tightly, they looked to become part of the rock itself.  It was an enchanting site to see.

While wandering around, we both noticed another overlook, but it was not indicated on the map. Curious, we began climbing downwards over the slickrock; the valley below was gorgeous. We could see people standing at the Mummy Cave Overlook, so knew the ruins were just around the jutting rock wall before us.

As I was taking the valley photos, Roy continued walking around the overlook wall and suddenly called to me, "Hunny, I know why this overlook is really here". Going to his side, he pointed out the ruins against the sandstone cliff face; according to the map, these ruins were "Yucca Cave". Not as well preserved as the other sets of ruins, and there was one oddly shaped structure that resembled an oven.

Yucca Cave Ruins
...and there stops our trek along Canyon de Chelly's North Rim.  Talk about exhausted; it took us three hours to get there, three hours to enjoy it; one of the best six hour work outs we've ever had!  Unfortunately, winter came early to our region, so until the spring thaw comes and the temperatures hike up to allow t-shirt wearing, the South Rim will have to wait.

Mary Cokenour