Silence is never louder than when you should be asleep

Did you ever notice that just before your alarm goes off at 3:15 in the morning
your sleepy mind expects so much silence
that you’re afraid you’ll fall back to sleep?
Maybe you need to catch an early flight out or
maybe your dad was coming to get you out of bed and hit the road early for the trip
you were taking when you were so little.
But as you lay awake you think (or remember):
there are no birds chirping, there is no wind blowing, there is no coffee brewing.
When you should be alone in your wakefulness you are most certainly not,
because the traffic in the distance is accompanied
by the train you never hear, roaring.
Do the other people awake at 3:15 in the morning hear it too?
Who are they, the people driving trucks and trains in their own starlit silence?
But there is no silence, not really.
There are only sounds, invisible during the day, but solid enough to reflect moonlight
in the wee hours of the morning.


About this poem.  I almost never write poetry.  However, I wrote most of this poem in my head last Thursday when I was getting ready to pull myself out of bed at 3:30 am to catch a flight to Arizona.  The sounds in the distance – freeway traffic and a distant train – brought me immediately back to car trips I took with my dad and family that almost always started early in the morning.  He would come in and wake me up, and sometimes I would be allowed to stay in my PJs while he drove down the near-empty roads.  The sounds were always the same – so quiet, but so constant.  Thank you, Weekly Writing Challenge, for giving me the opportunity to solidify my groggy thoughts on the Sound of Silence.

Vancouver in February? Screw That! Hellooo, Arizona!

February is the PERFECT time to escape the Pacific Northwest.  It’s rainy, overcast, gray, possibly snowy (or slushy, more likely) and you’re probably itching to see the sun right about now.  Seasonal Affective Disorder makes me so SAD!!!  So, why not go somewhere warm and sunny?  It’s Valentine’s Day weekend, AND I’m turning 40 later this month, so Chris and I decided to turn mid-February into a Sunny-VD-BD Extravaganza by heading out to Sedona, Arizona!

I did a lot of hiking, camping and backpacking in the arid desert canyon-country parts of the US while I was in grad school (Fort Collins, CO, by the way) and I haven’t seen these parts in YEARS.  I really miss the desert – as I biologist I’m completely fascinated by how various life forms have evolved and adapted to survive in such a harsh environment.  Further, the rock formations make you feel like you’re on a completely different planet.  So, I’m very excited to get back to the desertish parts of the country and enjoy the sun, fresh air, and warm temperatures!  Happy birthday to ME!

We left EARLY on Thursday morning, flying out from Portland, stopping in Phoenix, and arriving in Flagstaff.  We picked up a car and decided to eat lunch at MartAane’s Burrito Palace, which was AMAZING…if you like BLTs and grilled cheese sandwiches and guacamole, the Ultimate BLT is for you.  I highly recommend the curly fries, as well.  And a strange aside, they DO NOT offer diet soda!  Oh well, I’m on vacation, right? Yum!

The smallest baggage claim ever, discovered at the Flagstaff Airport.

I ate this whole thing. Do I regret it? My answer is no. I know you are jealous.

MartAnne's - Amazing artwork by Emma Gardner graces the walls.

MartAnne’s – Amazing artwork by Emma Gardner graces the walls.










We had some time to kill before our hotel room was going to be ready, so we headed over to Williams and spent a couple of hours at Bearizona, where you can ride an open-air bus (or drive your own car, should you wish to exercise that particular insurance risk) around the park and see wolves, bears, sheep, buffalo and all sorts of other critters.  We had a good time feeding the goats in the Bearizona Barn Yard, but watch your fingers!  Chris almost came away with only nine of his!

Just a few pictures of Bearizona...if you request them, I can send you about 200 more.  Lemme know.

Just a few pictures of Bearizona…if you request them, I can send you about 200 more. Lemme know.

Finally, we headed down 89A through Oak Creek Canyon and arrived in Sedona at the Amara Hotel.  Just in time for sunset.  Just in time for desert and drinks (the Almond Joy actually does taste like Almond Joy candy bars, and I had to get three of them just to make sure that this assessment was correct).  What will the rest of this vacation bring?  You’ll just have to wait for the next installment to find out!

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What’s the Deal with Reno?

Why do we keep going back to Reno for long weekends?  Well, for one, it’s not Las Vegas.  We pretty much just stay at the Peppermill Resort and hang out there.  This last time around, we got a regular room because the spa suite that we first had was plagued by the ice machine just outside our door and a guy who tried to drunkenly break into our room at 3 in the morning the first night I was there.  So, we changed rooms – yes, there was no hot tub in the suite, but at least it was quiet.  And it was pretty!  It reminded me of my Uncle Danny’s condo, which used to be all decked out with fancy-pants French antiques. 

Anyway, our stay was fun, and we actually came out ahead this time.  I had pretty good luck on the slot machines, but not as good as Chris, who hit a $300 jackpot on “Giant’s Gold”.  My new favorite game is “Great Owl”, but I still managed to win a little on “Siberian Storm” as well.  Dang, I kind of like slots.  I guess I’m one of those people now (and by those people, I mean suckers).

Anniversary, Table for Two!

Today is Chris and my second anniversary.  Yay!  Two of my happiest years ever, back to back.  I’m so fortunate to have found him, and that he willingly puts up with all my quirks and foibles.  Last weekend we got away for a couple of nights, staying at Abbey Road Farm B&B, the same place where we stayed three years ago when we were dating.  We did some wine tasting, gambling, goat frolicking…wait, what?  Yes, goat frolicking!  These little guys were only a week old when we saw them…soooo precious!  The little lambkins were super cute too, but they were a bit older, 5-6 weeks.  Here are a few picture for you to enjoy!

Celeste and her two little boys.

Baby goat kisses!

Mabel and her three kids.  We actually milked Mabel three years ago.

And I didn’t take a single picture!

Oh, Reno, how you love to take our money away.  It’s ok though, because we enjoy your biggest-little-city can-do attitude, complete with sprawling casinos and “European” gymnasiums (whatever that means).  Also, your lack of homeless people hired to shove little pictures of naked ladies at passers-by is non-Las-Vegasly refreshing, so Thank You, Reno, for that.

This year, it just happened that my birthday, Valentine’s Day and President’s Day (yes, President’s Day) fell reasonably close together to have a four-day weekend out of town.  Chris and I have stayed at the Peppermill Casino three times now, and it’s rather lovely – it’s all Italian-themed (except for their Chinese restaurant, Chi, which is Chinese-themed) and they have a fantastic spa, casino and restaurants (including Chi).  We arrived Thursday night and spent much of the weekend losing money, enjoying drinks (perhaps a little too much on Sunday night), and luxuriating in our ridiculously over-sized suite.  Well, the suite itself wasn’t over-sized, just the furniture.  But it was awesome!  Also, someone might have eaten the Famous Amos chocolate-chip cookies from the honor bar.  I’m not pointing any fingers, but that someone might have been me, or as Chris identified as the culprit, Snacky McSnackerton.

Anyway, here is a picture of the slot machine that ate all my money.  If you see it, I suggest walking in the opposite direction.  The tigers are tricksy and false…their fancy jewels flash and you hear them roar, but they just take without giving.  Damn you and your scatter bonuses, Siberian Storm!!!

Additional Reno places of interest that took our monies:  the spa (hello, facial and pedicure…I’m pleased to meet you!  Why yes, I’d also like to have one of those luxurious robes as well, thanks!), Romanza the Italian restaurant (so happy that we got in on Valentine’s night, although the lobster and shrimp and sea bass that we enjoyed might not have been so pleased), Atlantis casino (just a quick jaunt down the street and…why, I’m so happy to meet you, Sumo Kitty slot machine!  Here, take some more of my money!), and the Peppermill Poker Room (Chris can fill you in there, although I will say that the craps table was most uncraptacular.  Chris scored pretty well with the dice!).

We were having such a good time that I insisted upon staying another night in our suite instead of heading home late in the evening.  And it all worked out…the cats were even happy to see us home.  Happy birthday / Valentine’s Day / President’s Day to us all!

Want to see cruise pictures? Of course you do!

Chris and I went on a Caribbean cruise so that he could play in the Heartland Poker Tournament, and so that I could take a week off of work and spend that week in the Caribbean.  Here are a bunch of pictures for you…the captions speak for themselves, so enjoy the slide show!

Heartland Poker Caribbean Cruise

Hello, 2008 – Remember Me?

Wow – I’m FINALLY done with a scrapbook about the backpacking trip that Cecily and I took to Arizona’s Chiricahua wilderness area back in November 2008.  I’ve been meaning to do this for a while, obviously, so I’m happy that it is done!  If you’re so inclined, take a look and see what I was up to (ahem) four years ago this month!

Cecily and Marci in the Chiricahua Wilderness

Cecily and Marci in the Chiricahua Wilderness

Click HERE to view the Shutterfly Album!