It’s a struggle

book cover of "The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki
Book club selection for July.

I’m trying to be open-minded about book club. I joined wanting to meet people in my neighborhood. Plus, I had never been in a book club before. Several of my friends from Palm Springs were in book clubs and they tried to get me to join. I always shied away for various reasons — not enough time, not wanting to be assigned a book, wanting to read what I want on my own schedule…

You can read about my first impressions of book club HERE.

I got an email yesterday from the woman who is hosting July’s book club. She asked which date next week would be good for “The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post,” by Allison Pataki.

Yikes. This is the first time I heard the title. I’m thinking I missed an email with the book selection — or she announced the title at the last meeting which I didn’t attend due to vacation. Or, the entire book club is getting one week’s notice to order and read the book.

I’ve ordered it from Amazon. I’m going to give it my best effort because it does look like a book I’d enjoy. I also downloaded it to Audible. It’s a little over 14 hours long. But once again I’m struggling with book club and wondering if it’s more annoying than fun?

Have you read “The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post?” How much time do you think book club should give people to read a book? How does your book club work with book selections?

Do vacations motivate you?

When we moved in the closet was perfect.

Vacation motivated me to clean out my closet. Seriously, every time I come home from a trip I want to throw things out. It’s because I manage to live with very few things on vacation. I love the lack of clutter and stuff. I manage to pack just what I need and live quite well without anything extra.

I decided to make a promise to myself this week. One shelf or drawer per day. That’s it. It’s doable. Like my husband says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”

What happened on day one was I did two shelves — one shelf led to another. On day two I did the entire dresser. Today I am doing the hanging clothes. It will be done before the week is over. I’m surprised at some of the clothes I moved. I wonder why I didn’t throw more out at that point? I think it was because I got exhausted with all the decision making of moving from a house of 28 years.

I feel better. I feel more organized, lighter. However my husband said he can’t tell any difference. Thanks a lot.

What motivates you to clean closets? How do vacations motivate you?

Not again! Wild weather in July

We drove eight hours on Saturday to get the bulk of driving done after our anniversary trip in Park City, Utah. Our goal was the Little America hotel in Flagstaff, AZ. I love the Little America. It was our home away from home in Salt Lake City while my daughter was at the University of Utah.

As I drove across Navajo land to Flagstaff, I noticed dark gray clouds building over Flagstaff. I pulled over and let my husband take over. After 35 years in the desert, I freak out driving through a storm — and I grew up near Seattle!

A few miles from the hotel, we witnessed huge lightning strikes, thunder and a downpour so intense we lost most of our visibility.

“Welcome to Flagstaff in July!” I told my husband. We both laughed and drove slowly to the hotel with our windshield wipers on blast.

Last July we spent our anniversary in Flagstaff. This is what I wrote:

Hail storm on the way to Flagstaff, July 2021 before we lost all visibility.

Friday we left for a two-hour drive to celebrate our anniversary in the cool mountain town of Flagstaff, Ariz. We were looking forward to getting out of the heat, exploring a new area, hiking, dining, and staying at our favorite hotel brand, Little America.

Halfway to Flagstaff, we were entranced with big dark clouds that had long threads of rain hanging from them. Then there was a thunderclap and it started to rain. The rain turned into hail within minutes. It sounded like our car was being hit by golf balls. I was scared out of my mind.

My husband asked me to turn on the hazard flashers. My hands shook so badly I couldn’t do it. I began praying the Hail Mary!

We saw cars pull over on the right shoulder of the two-lane highway. But there was a cliff on that side and the visibility was getting awful. We were in the left lane where there wasn’t room to pull over, just a ditch.

Visibility went to zero. My husband drove at one mile per hour. He said he didn’t want to stop in case someone barreled into us. He followed a foot behind a semi — the tail lights the only thing we could see.

Looking back on that drive in July 2021:

We didn’t know — until we got to the hotel — that our car was dented from the front to the back bumpers and everything in between. It looked like someone took a hammer to it. The car went into the shop for two months while we waited for the chrome trim to be delivered amidst supply chain issues. The insurance company was so inundated with claims from that storm that they flew in insurance adjusters from Texas and Oklahoma.

Our friends who live in nearby Prescott said they found four dead deer in their yard killed by hail. They also had tens of thousands of dollars of damage to their home.

What we saw on the news yesterday before we headed home:

Video of flash flooding in Flagstaff.

Good news!

In the end, we arrived home safely from our 2021 and 2022 anniversary trips. I’m up to do it again next year!

What type of storms have you experienced that seemed wilder than normal? Did everyone stay safe?

Things are going swimmingly

Main Street Park City.

Things are going swimmingly except for a heat wave. It’s cooler than back home in our Arizona desert, but it’s too hot to hike in the afternoon.

We visited the same week of July in the summer of 2020. In the afternoons, when my husband was done working, we would hike on trails that wind through the ski slopes.

This year, we’re doing a morning walk to Main Street along a tree-lined path with a bubbling creek. We did the same walk in the 2020 mornings, too. This year, the morning walk is the highlight of my day, because the afternoons are too hot for the mountain hikes.

Poison Creek along the walk to Main Street.

Instead of sitting inside reading or watching TV, we’re hitting the pool to cool off.

Yesterday afternoon, the pool was filled with several groups of families and kids. I found a spot along one wall where I could swim. I watched two sisters in the deep end throwing a ring and diving after it. The older sister, a teen, got out when she saw me attempting to swim laps.

“Who am I going to play with?” little sister complained.

“That woman is swimming,” the teen explained.

I thought, “I’m swimming on one edge of the pool. They have most of the deep end to continue tossing the ring and diving.”

My husband decided to sit on the steps. I plowed on determined to get my exercise.

“Little sister” would do a backward somersault right in front of me every time I reached the deep end to turn. I had to swim around her. Next, a nine-year-old boy named Oscar would cut in front of me across the pool swimming as fast as he could. It seemed to be a game for him to push off across the pool and barely miss me.

“Why won’t you join me and swim?” I asked my husband.

“I don’t have the patience you have,” he explained. “I’d end up saying something and look like an asshole to the kids.”

I finally gave up after about 20 laps of dodging little sister and Oscar. We headed to the jacuzzi. Strangely, as soon as we got out of the pool, the kids did too. I guess I was their entertainment. They weren’t having much fun without harassing the middle-aged woman who was trying to swim laps.

I think if I was “little sister’s” mom, I would have asked her to swim and play away from the lap swimmer. The mom and dad were on chaise lounges relaxing. They didn’t say a word.

What would you have done if you were the parent? If you were trying to swim laps, would you have continued like me or not try like my husband and let the kids play?

Who knew “Little Hollywood” is in Utah?

Kanab Utah Little Hollywood sign.
The Little Hollywood sign in Kanab, Utah.

As soon as we crossed the border to Utah, a loud crack hit the windshield right at my head.
“Welcome to Utah,” Siri announced from Apple maps. Large trucks barreled by us throwing up rocks in their path.

Last time we drove home from Utah our windshield got cracked due to big trucks. We’re two for two on Utah and windshields.

We left our Sonoran desert, crossed the green forest of Flagstaff, passed by the Grand Canyon’s south and north rims across Navajo Country to Lake Powell. Once in Utah (with the cracked windshield) we drove the final one hour leg of the journey to Kanab, Utah to spend the night.

It was an adorable town of 4,998 people filled with mom and pop motels where you pull your car up to the room’s front door. The woman at the motel desk told us the town’s best restaurant was next door, “The Rocking V Cafe.” Dinner was both delicious and affordable.

Rocking V Cafe in Kanab Utah
The Rocking V Cafe at the end of the block.

We walked around town and discovered why Kanab is known as “Little Hollywood.” My husband said, “This looks like where Westerns were filmed.”

Plaque in Kanab for the Lone Ranger.
Along our walk we noticed many plaques like The Lone Ranger one above. My brother and I used to play The Lone Ranger and Tonto when we were kids. I was always Tonto of course. It was in the 1960s, so we must have been watching reruns.
Randolph Scott plaque in Kanab.
Another one of the many plaques honoring the celebrities who made movies in Kanab.
Residential street in Kanab with red rocks.
A view of a residential street in Kanab. The town was friendly, safe and I felt like I time warped to the 1960s.
Church bells in the morning in Kanab.

What sights traveling have you enjoyed? What things were new to you?

What other joys of road trips — besides cracked windshields — have you experienced?

Road trip tips

charlift rides in the summer
Hanging out with my daughter in Deer Valley, UT July 4th weekend 2017. We rode chair lifts to enjoy amazing views in the mountains.

We are getting ready to take a road trip to the gorgeous state of Utah. Hopefully the Wasatch mountains will be cooler than the weather we’re having in Arizona.

Our daughter introduced us to Park City, UT during her four years as a “Ute” in college. Park City and adjacent Deer Valley are ski resorts in the winter and hiking, biking outdoor adventure lands in the summer. I’m sure the other ski resorts nearby like Breckenridge, Alta and Snowbird have miles of hiking and biking trails in the summer, too.

I have a few days left to get organized. I am making lists of what I need to get done before we leave including filling the cooler with ice the night before to make sure it’s icy cold (Tip from Yeti.) Another travel tip I learned is to take your condiments with you. That’s a money saver that I’ve done for years.

I also pack enough TP and paper towels to make it through trip. Air bnb’s usually leave one extra roll of each.

Then the sandwiches I make and for the road and and snacks like grapes and bagel chips to munch on are a lifesaver. We don’t have to stop to eat, only for gas and bathrooms. It works for us as a money and time saver.

I’m going to keep track of what we spend on gas! The last time we went to Utah gas was below $2 a gallon. I just googled gas at Costco in Salt Lake City and it’s now $4.95! It’s more than 10 hours each way, but once we get there, we don’t have to drive hardly at all. They have a great bus system and we are within walking distance to the hiking trails, grocery store and downtown shops and restaurants.

The only thing that I find annoying is my husband. I commented on Tater’s post yesterday called Travel Day that my husband and I agree on a time to leave. Usually around 1 to 2 p.m. in the afternoon — and at 8 a.m. my husband announces that he’s ready to go! There goes five hours of time I was planning on to make sandwiches, pack the cooler and do last minute things around the house.

My plan this year is to be ready by 8 a.m. Any bets since I’ll be ready to go, I’ll be waiting until 2 p.m. to leave?

Freshies Lobster roll at their Park City UT restaurant
Lobster Roll at Freshies Lobster in Park City–the best food I’ve had in Utah. They won “The Best Lobster Roll in the World” competition in Maine. Who would have thought a Utah restaurant could manage that?

What are your best travel tips? How much are you paying for gas? How are high gas prices changing your summer travel plans?

Sights from home and beyond

After spending the weekend in Riverside, Calif. and going to a wedding at a winery in Temecula, we noticed a few cacti in our yard in full bloom. We had rain the night before we left Arizona and apparently the rain continued through the weekend. I think that’s why we were treated to gorgeous blooms

hedge hog cactus with red bloms.
A hedge hog cactus in bloom in one of our planters.

Palm Springs Wind farm on Interstate 10
The wind farm outside of Palm Springs.

We drove past our old stomping grounds of Palm Springs on the freeway. I thought I’d feel nostalgic or sadness after living there for 28 years. But no, I was thinking “Thank goodness we got out of here!” That was a surprise. I was even happier to get back to Arizona and home.

downtown Riverside.
We stayed downtown Riverside in a hotel we used to stay at with our kids for swim meets. This is a shady street that is blocked off to cars and filled with restaurants and shops.

Riverside County Courthouse
There are beautiful buildings in downtown Riverside. This is the County Courthouse.
Sculptures outside a taco restaurant that was closed when we walked by. I definitely would have stopped if it was open. It’s called Tio’s Tacos.

The wedding venue was beautiful with gorgeous views of vineyards, rolling hills and mountains. We enjoyed the surprise of being seated with our children’s former teammate, family and swim coach. It’s fun to get together with people we spent so much time with years ago when swimming was a major focus in our lives.

Villa de Amore Temecula wedding venue
Villa de Amore, the wedding venue at a winery in Temecula, California.
Shannon with Maureen's sisters
One of my favorite photos from before the wedding. One of our kids’ swim teammates is photographed with the mother of the bride’s sisters, who flew to the wedding from Singapore.
bride and groom at wedding
The bride and groom before the pastor announced “husband and wife.” The bride was one of my kids’ swim teammates, too.
wedding friends
Sitting with our old friends from the swim team. It felt like a reunion and we talked about having one in the future.

It was a fun, busy weekend with most of the time spent driving. But I was happy to get back home to Arizona and my cat Olive.

How do you feel when you return home from a trip? Are you relieved to be back to your own home, or do you long for more vacation?