{fig.1} common: budweiser sign in working-class town, usa
visit photo friday

thursday challenge - stuff


{07•20•06} stuff
spun with tears

part one
part two
At long last!!! We detour off the Great Western Trail onto the road that promises to take us to the Verde River. We pass through a small, quaint town called Strawberry, and look for the turn-off to the river. We all take turns reading through the hiker's testimonials of where they went once they got to Strawberry, but we're having difficulties finding the road they describe. We decide to not waste any more time and stop at a small general store to ask for directions. Luckily, we're informed by the friendly shopkeeper that the road we want is just a stone's throw away. We feel relieved, and feel confident that it's going to be smooth sailing from here on in. Back in the truck, just up the road a hair, we turn down the little road called "Black Bear Pass" or something like that, and are met with gravel and bumps again. Poor, poor, poor S. His stomach just can;t catch a break.

We drive for a short while more, then see 2 elderly men on the side of the road chatting. We stop to ask if we're heading in fact towards the river. One man steps forward and tells us that yes, we're on the right road, but that it gets "real, real rough" ahead. "If you want me to tell you about the road, I will," he says, and sort of anxiously gestures for us to pull over. Because it is much later than we would like now (3:30pm), and we're starting to feel a little like we're in a horror movie, we tell him it's ok... we'll go SLOW and be careful. We figure that after the road we were just on for several hours, it couldn't get any worse!

Of course, this road IS worse. It's even more narrow and perhaps even bumpier. It stretches alongside a cliff down the side of a mountain. There are no words to describe how high we are, and how far down the fall would be. The man had told us we had to drive 6-7 miles to get to the river. We hoped his estimation was more accurate than the Deliverance-esque creep we came across on the Great Western Trail.

Horrifically, however, it is farther than 6-7 miles, and the road is indeed treacherous. S announces that he's not sure that he can make it, but we were too close to turn back without seeing the hot springs. We continue down the mountain, passing a broken down camper along the way. It's battered and leans slightly to one side. It has "Mary Belle Family" sloppily handpainted on the front of it. Some other brave (?) travelers have stopped to help them. M steers carefully around them on, inches away from the cliff on this extremely narrow pass, and we continue on.

And then, AT LONG LAST.. we reach the Verde River! We see the campgrounds that the hiker's testimonials had told us about, and park our truck. It's a truly gorgeous sight to our weary eyes! I feel so happy to be here that I swear I hear a chorus of angels...
I take a snapshot of this remarkable scenery. Note... it is the last photo taken on this day. We then immediately scatter to find a place to... er... tinkle (again), hastily meeting back at the truck to throw a few things in our backpacks so that we can set off on our brisk hike to locate the springs. M & I exchange worried looks though, that suggest to the other it may well now be a little too late in the day to start said hike in the woods...
(...to be continued)

After my tinkle, and the boys have had their fill of shooting practice, we're back in the car... and the road only gets bumpier. We are seriously in the middle of NOWHERE. S is doing his best to hold it together. M & I feel just terrible that he is not totally enjoying this excursion and apologize profusely. We can't believe that the guy who goes motorcycling, ski-dooing, white water rafting and 4-wheeling gets this affected by motion sickness! We do our best to focus on the scenery as we've been on this road for quite some time (it's a looong trail, folks), and the jostling and rattling around is growing old. M insists that S will feel better if he drives; that it has worked for him in the past. S refuses a few times, dramatically moaning, "I'm growing weak," but after yet another urgent roadside pit stop, he finally relents and begins driving.

After driving for about 15 minutes, S starts to perk up a little. The driving, he says, is actually helping. We start to relax and joke around and make light of his predicament. We begin to notice ourselves amongst dense trees, and the road now has a little stream running alongside it. S comments on the fact that we've not yet seen any wildlife, and this seems strange to all of us given that it's such a remote, wild area. I had seen rabbits, eagles, and even a roadrunner along this trail before, so I felt certain something must be lurking nearby.

We drive a few minutes more when suddenly, a huge stag grandly LEAPS out from behind the bushes on the side of the road and bounds out in front of our truck. S slams on the brakes just a few feet from the beast - and without missing a beat, it scrambles up the hill on the other side and up, out of our sight. We jump out of the truck to see where it has gone, STUNNED by the near miss and the sheer size of it! It was gigantic! We all need a moment to calm our nerves, so we decide to check out the stream.

After a couple minutes, and some more pictures, we pile back in the truck. By this point, we're starting to feel impatient. There's been a lot of stops, and the drive is feeling long. We consult the map again, and it appears we're on the right track, so we continue to forge ahead. We stop once or twice more once the road starts getting higher, and perhaps even bumpier (poor, poor S), and we find ourselves driving along the edge of a VERY steep cliff. Even though we weren't making great time, we had to get some pictures of this view...

We even find a shot out car on the side of the road, which granted, is a bit creepy, but naturally the boys decide that it could use a couple more holes... (please, for the love of god, let there not be ricochet!)...

The map indicates we're on the right path, but we have been driving much longer than we anticipated. It's been a lot further than 60 miles, and we're getting cranky. To buoy our spirits, we begin to crack jokes about the film, DELIVERANCE. We've not passed any vehicles at all along this trip (did I mention that this trail is looong and remote?), but surprisingly, we suddenly see one headed our way. It's a beat-up, dusty pick-up, and I tell M to slow down and ask the driver how much further we have to go. M slows, and the other truck slows, and we see that the driver is a scary, weather-beaten, straight-outta-Deliverance kinda character, missing his front teeth and wearing an INS cap. (I worry that it might be a trophy from the last guy who stopped to ask him directions). Through cracked lips he grunts that we have 6-8 miles more, so we meekly thank him, then peel off.

Having just seen this unbelievable guy, we now have a fresh arsenal of Deliverance-inspired zingers about where we're likely to end up. We joke that the guy is using his CB radio right now to set-up a road block ahead to capture us "purdy, white city-slickers." We joke that he must've said "68 more miles" instead of "6-8 more miles," because we still only see dusty road stretched out in front of us.

And we drive... and we drive... and we drive, drive, drive, drive! We keep thinking that this road HAS to end soon, but it just keeps going on for as far as the eye can see. We're really getting testy at this point. S flirts with the idea of hurling again, so we let him out and drive slowly ahead, to give him a little privacy. After that's done, we start off again, and mercifully spot a sign that tells us we're getting close. S has a hard time believing it: "nooo...it's just a mirage," he whimpers. M chooses to let loose and cheer enthusiastically. I'm like S, reluctant to get my hopes up. This drive had already been at least 3 times longer than we anticipated. Not to mention the fact that the sign says we're on the outskirts of a place named Bloody Basin.

Veer + Blogging = all you need to know. Simple as that. So designers, get the skinny here!

Oh goody!!! Remember when you were a kid and you used to get activity books? They had puzzles of all kinds, like word finds, brain teasers, word scrambles, connect-the-dots, etc. Boy, they were neat, weren't they? I just loved 'em. So imagine my sheer GLEE when I stumbled upon Veer's downloadable Activity Books For Creatives. They're everything your childhood activity books were, but geared toward the sophisticated, discerning, stylish creative in you. They're jampacked with pages upon pages of eye-pleasing challenges like, "which KERN is kerned correctly?," "find the character that does not fit the typeface," and "identify which photoshop filter has been used." It's so damn nerdy and fun! I've gone and downloaded all 3! Of course you can purchase hard copies if you so choose, and I definitely thing they're worth having, but I like pdfs. And I like FREE even more. So go on and induldge your inner child! Though be warned - not all challenges are as easy as they might first appear! But if you get really, really stuck, all answers can be found at veer.com/ideas/summerfun/. YAY!

This painting represents just how much i heart small and round. I heart the name, the site, the yummy-creamy-dreamy colours, their little faces with their tiny smiles, the birds, the flowers, and the poetry of the titles (i grant you all the time, i love you in the morning, every day we play, when we are together). I heart it so much that i feel as if tiny red hearts are pouring down all around me and i am showered in delicate clouds of sweet pink, pale oranges, and the warm, gentle rain of dewey dewdrops from lovely, bending, springtime tulips. Sigh...

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