Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ode to Arizona

Today Jay and I became residents of Arizona again, submitting change of address forms and changing everything on our car.  It looks like this temporary living situation is going to at least be a longer temporary situation, so we are embracing our old/new home.  Jay is an Arizona native, with a family history in Arizona tracing back at least seven generations.

To honor the decision to stay in Arizona I’ve decided to share some of my favorite photos from the Grand Canyon State, my second home.

Spider Rock, Canyon De Chelly

Spider Rock, Canyon de Chelly

Sharon and Jay at Fence Point, overlooking Grand Canyon

Sharon and Jay at Fence Point, overlooking Grand Canyon

Marble Canyon from Bucks Farm Point

Marble Canyon from Bucks Farm Point

Hummingbird in the Phoenix Mountain Preserve

cactus close up

Cactus close up

Granite Dells, Prescott

Granite Dells, Prescott

Cochise Stronghold

San Pedro River

Bisbee, Arizona

sandhill cranes in flight

Sandhill Cranes, Photo taken at Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area

Sunset over the Santa Rita mountains

San Franscisco Peaks

MNA’s Zuni Festival

This weekend we had the chance to experience the Museum of Northern Arizona‘s Zuni Festival from the point of view of volunteers.  Friday night was Member’s Night and I worked the silent auction table while Jay helped out in the kitchen.  Member’s Night is always my favorite.  I always see people I know and the museum members come out in style, wearing fantastically elaborate Native American made jewelry.  The elite museum members will actually wear pieces of jewelry that were made by artists at the show.  Of course, as a volunteer at the silent auction table you have the opportunity to compliment the women and hear the story of each piece of jewelry and the artist who made it.

I also love working the silent auction table because you have the chance to get to know the other volunteers at the table.  As a team, you are responsible for an important fundraiser, and the silent auction volunteers take their role seriously.  We pay attention to how the pieces are presented, try to encourage bidding, and watch the clock carefully, making announcements about how many minutes are left to bid.  It’s a fun volunteer opportunity and I look forward to the Hopi and Navajo Festivals later this summer.

The Zuni tribe is from Zuni, New Mexico, just over the border from Arizona east of here.  In addition to making pots and jewelry, they make what are referred to as fetishes.  These are small carvings of animals, made from stone.  These days they buy the materials at mineral and gem shows and then use a large motorized grinding wheel to carve the figures.  The carvings are adorable, some as small as a large blueberry.  Each animal has a story and represents something.  Common animal fetishes are badgers, bears, eagles, and turtles.

The Zuni Festival is the smallest heritage festival at MNA, but the event was well attended and the artists brought outstanding work to sell.  We were also excited to see more young people involved in the dances.  I was told that the dancing traditions had skipped a generation, with the older generation finding little interest from their daughters, they started passing down the tradition to their granddaughters.  I don’t know if this is true, but it was supported by the age range of who was performing.

Photo Review: Overland Expo 2012 #ox12

From Thursday to Sunday, we were living at Mormon Lake as Campground Hosts for the Overland Expo.  Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend:

Sharon and Jay with Michaela from Meet, Plan, Go

Our home from Thursday to Sunday

I didn’t get a chance to get here much, but there was an awesome Adventure Film Festival

I took this photo on Friday when sustained high winds had toppled many easy ups and tents, but this camper appeared unfazed

One of the many victims of Friday’s high winds

The expo brought together all kinds of campers and travelers including this bus camper who termed his rig the “poor man’s RV”

Lots of great dogs in the campground

If you have ever seen a Honda Element, you get why this is funny

Most campers came Thursday and stayed the whole weekend

There were also a large number of motorcyclists, with a moto village and a riding arena

The camel trophy guys had a skills area where they demonstrated building a bridge and building a raft

The skills area turned out to be a good place for kids to get involved and learn how to tie knots and lash trees together

In this case the kids formed a great team for undoing rope

The bridge was a success!

Now lets see if the little guy can make it…

The little guy made it all the way across but needed a little extra ramp building to get down

The raft took a lot longer to build but was also a success!

they also did other skills courses in this area, including vehicle recovery techniques

The Land Rover guys demonstrated how to right a vehicle

One highlight of the Expo was the driving course

Everyone came out to watch the big trucks take a turn on the driving course

This guy’s rig had the lowest clearance of any of the big trucks, but he still made it with minimal scraping

This little girl loved watching the big trucks. As one truck stopped before making it up the steep hill she said, “he’s almost there… I wonder if he’s afraid of heights”. So cute.

Lots of happy folks on Saturday and Sunday as the weather was beautiful and there was fun stuff to see and do

Sunday, after watching the solar eclipse with everyone at the closing BBQ, we drove away from Mormon Lake towards home with a beautiful sunset

Jay’s Back and Experiencing “Post-Emphatic Wilderness Disorder”

Jay got home this afternoon from 10 days in the Grand Canyon.  The canyon is a surreal place to live.  Anytime you are in the wilderness for an extended period of time, it can be a difficult adjustment to come back to society.  One of our favorite podcasts, Dirtbag Diaries, recently had a story about exactly that issue, The “Post-Emphatic Wilderness Disorder”.  As Jay makes the adjustment, I thought I’d share that podcast with you to give you a sense of where here’s at.


Working for AmeriCorps Youth in Action

As of today I have spent two months in my new job as Program Coordinator for the AmeriCorps Youth in Action Program at Northern Arizona University.  On the road I occasionally missed work.  I know that sounds like heresy, but it’s true.  I missed the opportunity to work on a project or program with other people in order to make a difference in people’s lives.  Working in a community garden or preparing meals at SAME Cafe, Jay and I made a direct impact and it felt awesome.  Serving meals to people who are hungry is important and meaningful work.  That said, when you have the opportunity to look at the whole picture and reduce the line at the door, that is truly meaningful.  I missed that.  I missed getting around a table with other people who wanted to create lasting change and figure out creative solutions to social problems.  

In my current position I lead a team who coordinates approximately 60 AmeriCorps members, serving at 28 different organizations in Coconino County.  By designing training for our members, providing them with support to be successful at their sites, and by improving our systems to improve the experience of members in our program, I hope to have a lasting impact on the community.  Our AmeriCorps members are doing a variety of different jobs, from thinning the forest to reduce the threat of fire to educating children about the environment.  The work that they do on a daily basis has far reaching effects and the potential for lasting change.  It is my job to help them be successful.  When I hear a site representative talk about how much they have accomplished thanks to the AmeriCorps member, I am so happy to be back at work.

This week we brought eight new AmeriCorps members on board.  To officially become a member they recited the AmeriCorps pledge.  As AmeriCorps alum, I felt renewed purpose in my work as I listened to the chorus of optimistic young people taking this pledge together:

I will get things done for America –
to make our people safer,
smarter, and healthier.

I will bring Americans together 
to strengthen our communities.

Faced with apathy, 
I will take action.

Faced with conflict, 
I will seek common ground.

Faced with adversity, 
I will persevere.

I will carry this commitment 
with me this year and beyond.

I am an AmeriCorps member, 
and I will get things done.

Happy Birthday Jay

Jay turns 29 today!  I’m so glad that he was born 29 years ago and that I get to celebrate with him today.


A Year Later: How Jay’s Accident Shaped Our Year

Yesterday morning we made the call that finally closed the chapter on the accident that helped shape the last year.  In paying the final bill for Jay’s burn care, I hope we can finally move past all the pain associated with the accident and appreciate how much we learned from what happened.

Let me preface this by saying that I strongly dislike the phrase “Everything happens for a reason”.  I do not believe that Jay was burned and suffered great pain for a larger purpose.  That said, I do believe that you always have the opportunity to see the positive in a negative situation and to learn from and grow through overcoming pain and struggle.  I am not grateful for Jay having been burned, but I am proud of how we handled the emergency and amazed by all of the ways this negative turned positive.

In the immediate aftermath of the accident we saw an outpouring of support from family and friends and even acquaintances.  The Grostick’s who hosted us in Henderson, Nevada when we left the hotel deserve a special shout out!  Thank you so much to everyone who sent a kind word or showed your support.  It really meant a lot to us, especially to me as I sat with Jay (who was zonked out on pain meds) in the Arizona Charlie’s Hotel and Casino in Vegas overwhelmed at times by the situation.

During Jay’s recovery in Phoenix we had the opportunity to learn about the Overland Expo.  After winning tickets, we attended the 2011 Expo (while Jay was still in burn dressings) and told our story to the event organizers.  Because of that, this year we are attending the 2012 Expo as presenters, sharing our story and hoping to convince other couples of the importance of having both partners know first aid and four wheel driving.  We also made so many great connections at the Expo that led us to volunteer with the Muskoka Foundation and be featured on Drive the Americas.

That evacuation was one of my first times driving on a four wheel drive road.  No pressure!  When we got back on the road, we realized the importance of teaching me how to drive off road.  Over the course of the year I had lots of opportunities to practice and I became more comfortable at primitive camping.  This really opened up our options and saved us money on campground fees.  I can’t wait to take a driving course this spring!

Through enduring this emergency, Jay and I were forced to discuss serious issues about what we need to know about each other’s wishes for major medical decisions.  We are more prepared for marriage by having had these conversations.  Since we are not married yet, we also went through the processes of adding one another as someone who has permission to speak to our insurance companies.

Now that all the bills are paid and Jay has only a faint scar, we are able to joke about what happened and celebrate the accomplishment we made in overcoming this challenge.  Last night we celebrated with a bomber of Clown Shoes Tramp Stamp Ale.  Cheers!