For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

"I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Grand Canyon - Dusk and Dawn

Over the years,  I've never had much of an interest in going to the Grand Canyon.  It always seemed more urgent that I get to Europe and experience different cultures.  After all, it's just a bunch of rocks.

I guess I wasn't ready to appreciate the Grand Canyon yet. 
Now, at the age of 56, I felt that same yearning that I once felt for Europe.
When my husband told me he had a business trip to Arizona
and asked if I'd like to accompany him,  I suggested we go a few days early and see some sights.

That's how this amazing trip came to be. 

(click on photos to view larger) 

We flew to Phoenix and made our way north.  The landscape changed a lot during that 4 hour drive.  We had booked a motel for the night 5 miles from the south rim of the Grand Canyon.  We pulled into town a few minutes before sunset and drove right to the park.

THIS was our first view of the canyon.  The sun was high enough to light the top layer of stone.  It's almost impossible to grasp its beauty and size in pictures.   

We were at the Mather Point viewing area.
It was off season, so it wasn't very crowded - which was very nice.

The colors of the rock changed depending on which direction
you were looking.

Everyone had an iPhone or a camera.

After the sun disappeared, the colors became very pastel. Then it was too dark to really see anything.

The next morning,  we got up at 5:30AM, which wasn't hard to do since we were still on east coast time.  We dressed warmly and went back to Mather Point for sunrise.

Silhouettes were all we could see at first.  The sky was a brilliant orange.

But minute by minute, the painting began to reveal itself.

The increasing light painted highlights on peaks
 giving depth to the scene.

The sky itself was spectacular (The little specks on the bottom center of the picture are the people at the next viewing point).

As sunrise got even closer,
a part of the sky looked like molten lava.

As is usual for sunrise,  the color pretty much disappears
from the sky the moment the sun appears on the horizon.

Then it becomes almost impossible to look in the direction of the sun, which is a good thing because the show now begins in back of you.

It was amazing to see stripes of
orange, red, and purple on the rocks.

This is how we left the scene to go inside to eat breakfast. 
We had to fuel up for our hike into the canyon!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Yearning for Vermont

For the first 54 years of my life,  I never missed spending at least a few days in Vermont in October.  I lived there for 22 years.  I visited my parents for the next 28 years with my husband and then later with my family.  My son began college in Middlebury the year that I had no parents to visit anymore.  My daughter joined him in Vermont at UVM. Last year and this year,  our own kids came home to Connecticut to spend time with us.  It has come full circle, except now the center of the circle is here, not there.

Being spoiled by the magic of the fall season in Vermont,  I've never given Connecticut a chance.   When I think about the fall, every picture that comes to mind is Vermont.  Vermont = Foliage = Apple Cider = Stowe = Maple Syrup = Autumn.  Maybe it's time now to embrace the beauty of the state where I've lived for 34 years - many years longer than Vermont.

Last week, I left at 8:00 AM, with an open mind, to discover the beauty of autumn in Connecticut.  Named by National Geographic Traveler as one of the most scenic driving destinations in the country (or so I read), the Litchfield hills in the northwest corner of the state was my destination.

I got off the highway in Southbury and headed on CT-67 through Roxbury to New Milford.  I wanted to see New Milford because I had read that the gazebo on the town green was the inspiration for the gazebo in Stars Hollow (the CT town in the tv show, Gilmore Girls).

I found the gazebo easily, but the town was devoid of people and lacking the small town feeling that made Stars Hollow a warm and welcoming place on TV.

But the architecture was wonderful and everything was picturesque.

I loved the sculpture in front of the library, but these were the only children I saw!

 I headed out of town and stopped by a bubbling brook reflecting the colors of the season.

Then, as I was meandering down a country road, some bright blue buildings up ahead caught my eye.  As I was passing,  I saw a name on the sign that made my heart skip a beat.  My maiden name was Orzech, and it's not a name I'm used to seeing in passing.  I turned around and went back to take a picture.  I wondered if Edward is any relation to my dad.  I googled him and discovered that Edward Orzech owned this feed store and passed away in 2008. 

Continuing on my journey,  I found a barn that looks like it could be in Vermont.  Most of the farms I passed looked very well maintained, but this one has that "Vermont" charm.

 I had two covered bridges on the agenda, and I found the first one just outside the town of Kent.

 When I got to Kent,  I stopped for lunch.  I had packed a sandwich, but decided to add a chocolate milkshake and a donut.  If I were in Vermont,  it would be a cider donut, but I got it anyway.

Kent is a pretty ritzy town with lots of shops and restaurants.
The surrounding area is home to many celebrities I am told.

Everything in Kent looks perfect.

After buying a few Christmas gifts at a few of the shops,  I got back in the car and drove once again.

I think every church I passed was white and most of them had red doors!

The second covered bridge was in West Cornwall.

 Many tourists were stopping to see it and it was nice.
This was my last stop of the day.

During the hour that it took me to get back home,  I thought about the day.  I saw a lot of scenic towns, pristine barns, horses, streams, foliage.  I tried my hardest to really like the towns I visited and the scenery I passed.
I did like them.
I didn't love them.

There's something about Vermont that can't be duplicated (at least in my mind).  I missed walking down Maple Street in Burlington, my feet rustling through a blanket of leaves.  I missed the blue of Lake Champlain contrasting with the fall colors of the Adirondacks across the lake.  I missed the local artisans displaying their creations.  I missed watching the apples being pressed into fresh apple cider.  I missed hot cider donuts that melt in your mouth.  I missed being able to buy maple candy in every store.  I missed real farms run by real people.  I missed old houses and barns that look old and far from perfect. I missed the warm, down-to-earth Vermont people.  I missed passing Camel's Hump on the highway. 
I missed mountains.  

Fall in Vermont is not just pretty trees. 
It's an event that lasts for many weeks.
It's an experience.
It's a feeling.
It's a celebration.

I missed the party for two years in a row. 
If I have my way, I will not miss it again.