Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Girls Trip Part II: Navajo Nation

On to part two of my WEEK LONG Wild West trip!!  woo-woop!

But! First, let me just start by saying that mi esposo is AWESOME!!!

Want to how many arrangements I made for Ernesto to be a "single parent" for one week?
ZERO. NADA. NOT ONE. Period. End of Story!

No phone calls, no prepared meals, no lists, no reminders, no soccer schedules. 

I kissed everyone goodbye and felt 100% sure that everything would be great.  That is a nice feeling and something for which I am grateful.   

Papi is actually the KING of entertainment and surprises!  

Ok... back to the Wild Wild West!
Maureen lives and works in Navajo Nation!  We headed back to her house after hiking the Grand Canyon!

The Navajo Nation is a Native American territory covering about 17,544,500 acres.   It occupies 3 states...portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico . This is the largest land area retained by a Native American tribe and yet....you never really hear about it.  Have you of Navajo Nation?  

I had not....but there I was.....

 Window Rock  is the capital "city."  

Named for.....wait for it.....this "window" in the rock. Pretty amazing right?
Close by stands a memorial to veteran Code Talkers. I vaguely remember learning about this back in my school days, but I was intrigued to recall that the US armed forces drafted Navajos in WW II to relate top secret messages by phone and radio in the Navajo language.  None of which were ever deciphered by the Germans or Japanese. Wow!
Maureen is an Occupational Therapist and has worked in the hospital on the reservation in Fort Defiance for the last 2 years. You are not allowed to live on the reservation if you are not Navajo (or married to one) UNLESS you work at the hospital.  (or maybe a teacher too I think?)
There is a special housing community for employees right next to the hospital.
Fun fact:  She lives in AZ but works in NM right across the street. ha!
Here is the beautiful Maureen in front of her cool workspace.  

Or spaceship I should say....Its a very modern building in the middle of the desert.
The view out of her work windows is super gorgeous! In fact all of the land I saw on the Res was beautiful.  Huge red rocks jutting out, high plateaus, and green bushy plants.  However, in the middle of all this amazing-ness is a lot of poverty.  Random homes are scattered in what seems to be the middle of nowhere.  And by homes I am also talking about A LOT of trailers and campers, many without running water or electricity.

There is not much in the way of businesses on the res, but sales on the side of the road are happening.  
A must try?  Fry bread.
And so we pulled over.
It was tasty.  Half was sprinkled with salt and the other half with honey.

I enjoyed learning about Navajo Nation.  Its fascinating, but also a little embarrassing that I didn't know more.  What a sad history lesson for the US.

You might think we were sore and tired after our big Grand Canyon hike, but we STILL hiked every day on the reservation.  We wanted to...not even sore because we are like well oiled machines. 😂

We hit Red Rock Park just outside Gallup.

We hiked an hour up the Pyramid Trail 
All the while taking in views of Church Rock, which you can continue on the same trail to reach.
We did not do that.  Maureen is very lazy, so she thought pointing to it was enough. 😜 JK

The top was peaceful minus the wind whipping around. 
 Majestic is the word that stuck in my head through this whole trip.
 And friendship of course.  This girl! 
I told her before I left......"I didn't even get sick of you at all this week."
OMG did we laugh!!

There were two other hikes Maureen wanted to take me on while on the Res, so we left right when she got home from work.  I had been lounging at her house all day in PJ's so it was nice to get outside in the afternoon. Buuuuuuuut, don't get me wrong, peace and quiet with coffee and my computer did.not.suck.
 I forget this trails name, but how about Cross Top (Maureen?)  UPDATE: it's called Blue Canyon
 Cliffs everywhere.  Do not mess around with selfies on cliffs guys.

One more to go....and maybe the coolest.  The hike closest to Maureen's house is called "Bellybutton."
And there she is.  Yes, that is the bellybutton.....from the top.  From the ground you can't tell where this belly button is...
Not sure how long this truck cab has been sitting there, but the rust matches the red rock and I was compelled to climb in for a pic.
The terrain was different from any of our other hikes.  Once we were up high on the smooth rock this the "trail" was not so pronounced...you really just had to stay away from the edge drop-off.  Pretty sure my kids would not be going on this one. 

Below you can see the  narrow"trail" to the top.  For some reason, the smooth rocks don't seem like they would kill you as violently, right?   Maybe you would just roll!?!?  I have always been a best-case scenario kind of person. 😆

40 minutes later at the top, we sat on the edge of the deepest bellybutton I have ever seen and just marveled at the view.
This trip, THIS SCENERY has made me want to start meditating.  Something I have been interested in for a while but have not made a priority.  Gosh do I need more peace in my life.  One hour of yoga is nice, but I want MORE!!!

Maureen is pointing at the hospital and to the right is the housing community of employees. 

On my 2 hour train ride from Gallup back to to Albuquerque (to catch my flight) I actually started crying. 

 It was so peaceful and beautiful.  I went over the last week in my head and couldn't believe the awesomeness that I had experienced, but also it hit me how much I missed my family.  Perhaps some tears were shed because peace and quiet will not be mine again for a very long time 😂😂 haha!

All my babies, including mi esposo guapo were waiting for me at the airport and OH THE EXCITEMENT!!!  "Mami Mami Mami". Sooooooooo much to hear about! I love being missed!💕💕💕💕💕

Let me just put this in writing right here, right now.  This trip was the first annual "Mami's going away for a week by herself trip!"  Boy does every woman need this!! Not being needed for ONE WHOLE week was just what the doctor ordered.  Look how peaceful..
It re-energized me and I didn't raise my voice for a full 12 hours after my arrival! 😂😂😂
just kidding...but not really. 😬

Go to the Grand Canyon.  Goodbye.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Girls Trip Part I: Grand Canyon

Maureen and I have been friends for 10 years now.  We met back in 2008 while both of us
were volunteering for Habitat for Humanity in Costa Rica.  That year of traveling together (So.Many.Tripsand meeting most mornings at 6am for runs really solidified our friendship.  
That is us...10 years ago on a trip to Nicaragua!!  Just young whipper-snappers!

I had not seen her since Costa Rica, but we kept in touch periodically.  In January she arranged a layover in Atlanta on her way to Germany and it was like no time had passed.  

I love this girl so much!  We had such a great time catching up and laughing.  So. Much. Laughing! 
Also, we were tickled to discover our favorite drink is EXACTLY THE SAME.  
Gingerade Kombucha!!  
This 24 hour layover was not enough time together though, so we made plans for me to visit her in AZ.  She lives in Navajo Nation [Indian reservation], where she works as an OT.  Why had I not visited her in 10 years?

Also, why don't we hike the Grand Canyon while I'm there visiting??


I prepared for this trip by scouring FB Marketplace! ha!  Yes I did. 
I found my $130 Soloman Hiking shoes (worn twice) for $40. LOVE THEM-so comfortable!
I found the REI trail 25 backpack (normally $80) for $10!!! It looks brand spanking new and is the perfect size for day hikes! 

What I did NOT get a deal on is airfare.😂
I bit the bullet and bought my first FULL FARE plane ticket in 20 YEARS.  It cost $370 and it HURT! (I much prefer free!) I was loyal though and flew my beloved DELTA! Duh!

It was quite an ordeal getting to my dear friend, but well worth it.  
Trains, planes and automobiles on this trip.  But you know what? Traveling alone is a BREEZE I tell you.  I had such a free feeling walking through the airport with blaring music in my headphones.  This has not happened in 7 years. 

Once I reached Albuquerque I ubered to REI to buy this hat and a water reservoir for my new pack. I WAS READY! 

I had 3 hours to kill before heading to the Greyhound bus station, so after REI I sat down with my computer at The Brew coffee house and relaxed.  Not a care in the world!

I would have much preferred Amtrak train, but it was sold out.  Both modes take about 2 hours to reach Gallup, NM, (where Maureen was picking me) but I would say one is a little more seedy than the other.  Also buses are subject to traffic, which means DELAYS.  

Long bus ride short, I didn't get there until 9p. (not 730p as we expected)

We drove to 2.5 hours to Flagstaff that night to get closer to the Canyon (another 1.5 hour drive) and stayed in a surprisingly great Super 8 for $42!!!!! What!?  AND with a Mountain View!

In the morning we took our time filling our backpacks.  This is what I took with me:

  • 1L water reservoir + 1 large water bottle
  • sun hat (waterproof too!)
  • sunglasses
  • sunscreen
  • chapstick
  • flashlight
  • bag of gorp
  • 4 protein bars
  • 4 Lara bars
  • bag of black licorice (both our favorites)
  • pajama pants
  • extra socks
  • fleece zip up
  • band-aids
  • phone/watch chargers
  • toothbrush/paste
  • face wipes
  • hydrating face cream

I wore layers!   Sports bra, tank, long sleeve pullover and pullover fleece and tekgear tights.
All dry-fit.  

It was the perfect packing job I must say.  My pack wasn't heavy and I didn't need anything more. 

We lolly-gagged in Flagstaff with coffee coffee and breakfast at a cute little place called Macy's.  We reached the Grand Canyon and started our hike at 1245pm! 


This little video sums it up pretty well!  

The whole experience went WAY TOO FAST!  I wanted to stay longer at the bottom, and I wanted to keep hiking! 

Next time (yes, already planning!) I will be with my whole family and we will stay 2 nights at the bottom.  I figure in 5 years, Paloma will be 8, Marcelo 10, and Mateo 12. (gosh, that is so weird to even write) They will definitely be able to hike the whole trail by then.  So there you have it in writing... Spring break week in 5 years, we have a plan! (ok mi amorrrr?)
 What an adventure!

Maureen has hiked two other times, both in the heat of Summer.  She camped in a tent and it was 114 degrees at the bottom! Can you imagine??  This may sound strange, but I want to experience that heat...just not with young kids. ha!  
60 degrees was PERFECT weather and the Canyon was GREEN and water was abound, so overall April is a great month to go. BUT!  Just like hot yoga, when the heat is high, the workout is MUCH harder...and that is what I like!  I want the challenge of hiking in 114 degrees!

This hike was not hard for me.  I will say my hips and knees were a little sore from all the stairs on the decent, but it went away once we got moving hiking up the trail the next day. 

We actually kept the hiking theme going once we left the Grand Canyon.....
More on that in the next installment of Girls Trip 2019....RIGHT HERE!



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