Seize the day! Take the bull by the horns. Figures of speech, also known as similes, are often used to encourage or make a point. They sound better than someone telling you to try again or don’t give up which is still good advice. I much prefer “Follow your Dreams”.

I recently read that an author should have a tagline after their name. I’ve been toying with Nancy Pennick, Follow Your Dreams for awhile and don’t know if that works or not. It’s supposed to help the reader remember your name and recognize your brand. Who thought I’d have to learn marketing when I started writing.

After a career in teaching, I never thought I’d begin a second as a writer. My dream was to live the quiet, peaceful life and catch up on the things I always wanted to do when I worked, like traveling and organizing the closets.

One of the things on my to-do list was to head out west so I began researching where I’d like to go. The Grand Canyon was a definite must and I was open to other locations. Since we have a timeshare, I decided to take advantage of staying at their resorts.

Our trip was aptly named “Out West” and we began our journey in Santa Fe, New Mexico. There were five of us on this leg of the trip. We started off in downtown Santa Fe, parking next to a broken meter. The meter police happened to be strolling by when we realized it wasn’t working and he said we were fine. Imagine our surprise when we returned to find a ticket on the windshield. Welcome to Santa Fe!

We had covered a lot of ground on that sightseeing vacation 05 028adventure, ending at the Loretto Chapel with its magnificent spiral staircase that looks like it has no visible means of support. That town, rich in art and history, left us with a feeling of truly being out west from the pale red stucco buildings to the southwest art dotting the landscape.

While in New Mexico we visited Sandia Peak in Albuquerque and took the tramway to the top of the mountain.vacation 05 062
It grew dark on the way back down and gave us another perspective of the mountain. A quick day trip the other way took us to Taos and ended that part of our journey.

We hopped in the car for a short six hour drive to Sedona, Arizona. It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The road taking us into town was wrapped around a mountain, filled with twists and turns. We screamed like we were on an amusement ride as we descended, later laughing about how it really wasn’t all that bad. My favorite part of being in Sedona was that some of the rock formations had names. Coffee pot was my favorite and as you see in the picture, it really does look like one. Then there were characters from the Peanuts gang, Lucy and Snoopy. She’s up top and he’s lying on his back on his doghouse.

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It was finally on to the Grand Canyon, which I’ve already covered in another post, and won’t bore you again with details. The final leg of the journey was Las Vegas where we were joined by other members of the family. It was an overwhelming place but once we got used to it, we loved it. We called the Paris Hotel home for a few short days getting to travel to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Anything’s possible in Vegas!

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After we returned home and back to normal, I sorted through endless pictures, proud I fulfilled one of my dream trips. Those photos would always remind me I did it.

Just recently a Home Goods Store opened in my city. My sister and I strolled through the aisles and we came across a wicker head of a bull, horns and all. Really, we did. I had to stop and admire it. I told my sister if someone bought that they literally could take the bull by the horns. We had a good laugh and moved on.

But think about it. Isn’t that a good reminder in life? If you really want to do something like change careers, learn to dance, travel out west, go back to school or write a book, you should do it. No one’s stopping you. Take the bull by the horns…or as I like to say, follow your dreams.

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AZ 2012 Grand Canyon (19)

The Grand Canyon plays a large part in my book. It’s used as the backdrop for Katie’s dream world and becomes important in her real life, too. It was on my bucket list and I finally got there about six years ago. We stayed in Grand Canyon Village and were able to explore the canyon rim. Since we were there for only one night, this was the best place to start. One of the first places you come to on the rim walk in the village is Lookout Studio. This stone structure has great views of the canyon from every window plus an outdoor deck.

Its neighbor is Kolb Studio, built by Emery and Ellsworth Kolb. Perched on the canyon’s rim, it looks like it could topple into the canyon but don’t worry, it’s solidly built. This is where my character, Drew, interned during the summer of 1927. In my posted picture you can see how it looked during that time. Notice the word “toll” in front of road on the Angel Bright Trail sign. The park didn’t have rights to that path yet. It led to the bottom of the canyon and was controlled by Ralph Cameron, a powerful U.S. Senator. He charged $1 for its use. The park eventually won control of the trail in 1928. Drew took Katie for a walk on this path and she was surprised they had to pay. She longed to tell him there was no longer a fee and the park had control of this famous trail.

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I don’t want to get too educational so I’ll fill you in a little on my second visit to the canyon. This time we stayed longer and I had more time to explore. I was determined to walk down some of Angel Bright but there had been an unusually late snowstorm a few days before we got there and the path was covered in slush and mud, mostly in the shady areas of the trail. We traveled down a small portion and finally gave up. I guess I’ll have to wait until my third trip.

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The day was bright and sunny, in the mid-sixties, and we were able to cover a lot of ground. I finally got to visit Yavapai Point and take the bus to other stops throughout the canyon. My favorite was Trailview Overlook where you could look straight down at Angel Bright and see the switchbacks zigzagging down into the canyon.

Wish you could walk this path but don’t think you’ll ever get to Arizona? Or maybe you’re like me; you don’t think your knees would hold up? Well, there is a way you can still go on this hike and never have to leave home.

I bought a box of Nature Valley granola bars awhile back and on the package it said you could walk the canyon by going to their website. I quickly opened the laptop, entered the website and a beautiful picture of the Grand Canyon appeared.(Use the link I provided if you wish.) I clicked on “Explore the Grand Canyon”; then “choose your trail” and viola! I was there. The walk begins at the bottom of the canyon and ascends to the top. If you have the finger stamina and can keep navigating the right way, you’ll make it to the top. I have to admit I never did, but am not giving up. Maybe I didn’t take enough water with me…

Google maps have now added the trail to their website. I tried hiking Angel Bright from various points because you can jump on wherever you wish, but I think I kept going around in circles! Still, it was fun to try.

So whether you get there in person or visit via the websites, I highly recommend a visit to the Grand Canyon.

President Theodore Roosevelt said it best. “Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work on it, and man can only mar it. What you can do is to keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see.”

National Parks are our country’s treasures and once you see the Grand Canyon, you’ll know why it needs to be preserved and protected. If some senator had his way, there’d be mines in its walls, dams across its waters and homes built on the rim for only a few to enjoy its majestic beauty. Some forward thinking individuals had the common sense to stop that from happening. I, for one, am eternally grateful.

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NYC Sept 10 (157)

Don’t act like a tourist. Walk quickly and no looking around. Most of all do not look at a map in public. That’s what we were told.  I didn’t find this posted on any traveler website or printed at the bottom of a brochure about New York City. Oh no. My husband and I were informed of these rules before we even left home…by our son. This was our first trip to NYC and I was a little hesitant. It seemed like a big, scary place and a giant map in hand would soothe those fears, but we decided to comply. After all, our son is good with directions and can see a lot farther than us. He’s over six feet tall.

Since he was still in college, I had to plan the trip accordingly. Our check-in was on 9/11 and I got the “Really, Mother?” but it ended up being the best day for all of us to go. The drive through NYC was a solemn occasion that day. Police officers and military were stationed on the corners of every block. To actually see it first-hand was overwhelming and brought tears to all our eyes.

After a few wrong turns, we ended up on the correct route and drove down the street to the hotel passing the site where the Twin Towers stood. When we reached the end of the street where the Embassy Suites was located, we were greeted by a large tank.  I didn’t realize we were that close although I knew I booked a hotel in Lower Manhattan. We were across the street from the remaining towers marked 3 and 4.

When we got in the room, I threw open the curtains and gazed out the window. We were overlooking the Hudson River and Battery Park. It was a gorgeous view. The sun was shining and the sky was bright blue. At that moment I knew I loved New York.


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The following day was gray and threatening rain but we managed to get to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. My mother and I had bought places on the wall at Ellis for her parents and I wanted to see it with my own eyes. It was hard to believe I was standing in the same place my grandmother did when she first came to America so many years ago.

The next day was bright and sunny again and we had plans to venture into midtown. Our list was long—the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), 30 Rock aka Rockefeller Center and Times Square. While at 30 Rock we hoped to get to the rooftop and go on the NBC tour. Before leaving, we were given the lecture again because we were going on the subway…a place that you had to definitely act cool. The subway scared me enough as it was but now I had to act like I used it daily. We made it to our destinations in one piece and I still find it hard to believe we did all that sightseeing in one day.

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While I was writing Waiting for Dusk I decided to have Drew’s home be New York City. It has such a rich history, starting off as New Amsterdam and settled by the Dutch. A new wave of immigrants from various countries followed, making New York City what it is today. I could picture Drew living there and what his life could have been like.

After our day of sightseeing was over, we made our way down the stairs for our final subway trip back to the hotel. We were tired and I didn’t care anymore if someone thought I was a tourist or not. I couldn’t run for the train we needed or cared if I was walking fast enough. My feet were saying, “Enough”. As we walked through the concourse, my son was stopped and asked for directions. People held phones up to him and wanted to know if they had the right train information. We had to laugh because we were just as clueless but he must have seemed like a true New Yorker to them. I inwardly applauded those people for being so brave to ask for help or directions in this fast-moving town.

After we got settled in for our ride back to Lower Manhattan, I noticed an older couple a few seats down from us on the other side of the train. The gentleman removed something from his pocket and slowly opened it. When he was done, it was as large as a newspaper and he held it up so his wife could see, too. She leaned over his arm and gazed intently at it. Imagine my surprise and horror when I realized what he was holding up for the world to see…was a map! I Love New York!


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Whoever thought once you reached adulthood you’re free of the scoldings you received as a child, let me convince you otherwise. You can never escape. I am a prime example of it. I get in situations that I don’t even mean to be in and somehow I end up being at fault or hearing some bizarre story from a complete stranger. I totally prefer to go along my merry way, oblivious to the strange happenings in the world.

I can’t remember the first time I received a scolding from a complete stranger but it seems to be happening more and more as I grow older. It can occur in random, completely unexpected places. First, let me explain that I am all for following rules and rarely veer from the straight and narrow so I don’t know how I get into these situations.

Lately, my scoldings have occurred on vacations, not the time you want this to happen. You’re supposed to be on a break from your everyday life, enjoying yourself.

The first vacation scolding in recent history happened at the now defunct Liberace Museum in Las Vegas. When you entered the museum there were signs saying not to touch any of the displays and you were also warned by the staff who wandered through the facility.

There were four of us on this trip and we were very careful not to come too close to any of the capes, pianos, cars or other memorabilia on display. We were very mindful of the rules. As we got to the end of the tour, I thought it was odd there was no music playing. Liberace was famous for playing the piano and you’d think his music would be softly playing as you walked through the various sections of the museum. A staff member was in the last room so I thought I’d ask. She brusquely told me that she was very busy and didn’t have time to get to the back and start the music. I was taken aback by her response because she had scolded me like I was bothering her. After that, I have to say I accidentally touched some of the things on display. Only accidentally, mind you.

On my last vacation I was scolded twice. Two times! The first was in a museum for taking pictures. Okay, I have to admit I didn’t see the signs but come on! Everyone else was doing it and I’m the one who gets the scolding.

The next place I got a scolding was in the Arizona desert. How can anyone get scolded in the desert, you ask? Well, it’s possible. When we started our hike, there was a sign that said to stay on the path. My husband wanted his picture taken and took one step off the path and my son immediately reminded him of the rule so we were very aware. We came to a bend in the road and right in the corner before the turn was a great-looking cactus. I told my son to stay put and went around the bend so it looked like I was right behind it when in reality I was on the path. He took the picture and we moved on. A few minutes later we came upon a park ranger. It seemed like she came out of nowhere! And guess what? She scolded me for not staying on the path! At first, I had no idea what she was talking about. Then she pointed to the cactus farther down the path from where we just had come. I explained how we took the picture and she said from her angle it looked different. She eventually apologized but I don’t think she meant it. I still think she thinks I’m guilty of stepping off the path and hugging that cactus.

There’s a character in my book, Tyson, who deserves a good scolding. I bet he’s never had one in his life. He’s been a little overindulged by his parents and he thinks things should always go his way. Tyson’s not very good at playing nicely with others. Now if there ever was a person who deserved a scolding it’s him, but I don’t see it happening. I think I have the market on that…or do I?

A few weeks ago, my nephew posted a picture of himself in front of a tapestry at the art museum. He noted below the picture that he accidentally touched it and, of course, with our family luck, someone saw him. You probably already guessed, he was scolded. I had to laugh as I read his comment because I was hoping no more family members would ever be admitted to this exclusive club. Well, no such luck. Welcome to the club, dear nephew, welcome to the club.

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