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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Off to training camp

Now that I'm all licensed & certified, I'm headed to San Francisco for a two-week tour leader training camp. We'll travel to Yosemite, Death Valley, Zion, Lake Powell, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas & Malibu. Not bad for a business trip, eh?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Fremont Saddle Campout

I spent 14 years of my life with my dogs Otis & Justice. I adopted them when they were four weeks old, & they were with me until they died. They were by my side for some of my life's best moments - & most of my worst. It absolutely broke my heart when I lost them.

It's been several years now since I took their ashes up to Fremont Saddle in the Superstition Mountains. The trail to the saddle is fairly easy & the views are amazing along the way, not to mention the incredible views of Weaver's Needle at the end of the hike.

I'm in Phoenix for a short time before I head off on my next adventure, so over the weekend, I went with a couple of friends out to Fremont Saddle for a visit.

To avoid the hottest part of the day, we decided to do the two-hour hike to the saddle just before sunset. By then the temperature had thankfully gone down below 100 degrees (about 38 degrees Celsius), & the canyon was entirely shaded, so the hike was surprisingly pleasant.

We camped at the saddle, watching shooting stars & bats whiz by over head all night long. In the morning, we packed up & were back at the car by 9:00am. Along the way we saw this:

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Learning to drive: Adventures at the DMV

I'm preparing for a summer job as a tour operator. I'll be driving a 15-passenger van full of European tourists around to the national parks in the western part of the US. We'll be camping & hiking & singing campfire songs all summer long. I'm really excited about spending the summer outdoors.

You can drive a 15-passenger van on a regular driver's license in Arizona, but since there will be paying customers riding along, I need to get a commercial driver's license (CDL) with a passenger endorsement.

The CDL study manual has all kinds of information about driving semi tractor-trailers & Greyhound busses. Even though I won't need to know that stuff for my job as a tour operator, it's still included on the test. Go ahead. Ask me how to control speed on a downhill slope. Or what double clutching is.

When I arrived at the DMV, I saw a very very long line - yuck! But as a CDL customer, I got to jump straight to the front - yay! I passed the written test (which is actually a computerized test now) with a 93%. Now I need to find a 15-passenger van to rent so I can take the actual driving portion of the test.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

208 Things!

I just counted my stuff. I have 208 things.

If that sounds a little strange, let me fill you in. For the past four years, I've been engaged in a personal challenge to reduce my possessions to 100 things - you know, just to see if I can do it.

I began by putting most of my possessions up for sale. I gave some of my favorite things to friends & family, scanned old photos & journals, & the rest got donated to charity. Then I went off to travel the world.

When I arrived at my first stop, I had about 350 things. Not bad for a first try, eh? Each time I go to a new place, I leave another pile of things behind me - peeling the onion, I call it. It feels so good to slough off unnecessary stuff.

Not to say that it's easy to do. It took me a couple of stops to get rid of my collection of brightly colored paper clips, & I'm still holding on to my devil duckies pencil toppers. I suppose they will go eventually, but I'm not ready to give them up just yet. It's all part of the journey.

Over the past few years, I've been learning what I don't really need (a stack of read-write DVDs; a stapler), what I really can't live without (my Kindle; a good headlamp), & what I like having around just because it makes me happy (my magic wand, for example).

I've just recently made another move & thought this would be a good opportunity to check in with my stuff. I counted a total of 208 things. 208.

When I think about that, I realize that I've accomplished quite a lot already. I've not only reduced my possessions to a very small number. I've also greatly squelched my habit of acquiring more stuff - a great achievement. Of course, being a traveler helps with that. Whenever I'm tempted to buy something I don't really need, I just think about having to carry it around with me, & that usually does the trick.