Friday, October 31, 2008


I had this entire rant going on Halloween and how it has been destroyed on so many levels by fearful Pharisaical Christians over the last several decades. Memories of my mom and her love for the holiday entered in, etc., etc. Nahhh ... I'll just leave it alone ...

So, since I'm not going to rant about that ... I have other things that annoy me. I think this might be happening because I've had a headache all day. Rather than take it out on Max, I'm just going to complain.

Competition. My father did his best to raise us with that 'killer instinct.' He was a fierce competitor and wanted us to always be the very best at anything we did. Never accept second place. He had a tough time with me. I saw early on that competition at that level was inane. I've never been a good 'Type-A' personality. I know what it is, I can do it if necessary, but generally, it's not necessary. And if I have to be on top, that means that a lot of other people don't get a chance to be there ... it's just not that important to me. So, I will raise the bar and do everything I can to encourage people to achieve high levels of excellence and then ... I let them go on. I don't need it. I certainly don't need the pressure.

I had a 'friend' in high school. We competed for first chair flute every single year. I won every single time. I was damned if I was letting her have it. She would challenge me - I'd whomp her ass. Just to prove that I could. So, she did what any good competitive girl would do - she went after my boyfriend. Well ... I fooled her. I let her have him and moved on quickly to bigger and better things. The problem was, though she had won she destroyed the poor guy - married and divorced him and removed his kid from him. She won? Oh well ...

Competition isn't fun for me. I don't like it. This would really have disappointed dad. I can live with that.

Organizations. Wow, am I not a joiner. I guess I've always known that, but the older I get, the more pronounced is my behavior regarding these things. Good thing I don't need them for a career. I'd be SOL!

Rules & Regulations. I'm such a Libertarian. I do not like people telling me what to do. In fact, I don't much like people making up rules for other people. Now, because I don't like organizations I'm not going to end up doing much about it. And I recognize that there isn't going to be much I could do about it whether I was in an organization or not. But I do not like it when rules are made up for the sake of making up rules. I don't like it when laws are passed in reaction to a terrible situation. I just plain don't like it. My poor husband has to listen to me bitch and complain a lot.

Rigid Biblical Interpretation. I think this goes along with the whole rules and regulations. I'm not a fan of people interpreting scripture to suit their needs and rigid belief structures. I don't think God is as picayune as we are and I don't think that He would appreciate us putting our own imprimatur on His Word. But, I'm pretty sure He'll have the final say in that one.

Franchise lifestyle. I'm damned tired of franchise restaurants. I know, I know ... I eat in them all the time. But, our world is really tending towards the mediocre. Everything is moving to a singularly bland lifestyle. Everyone shops at the same place, eats at the same place, begins to look the same. Individuality is frightening. I noticed a lot of this while we were traveling. Even the franchises are starting to look the same cross-country. It used to be that you could travel to different areas of the country and run into different franchise structures. Nope. When we stopped in Brighton, CO, they were building nearly an exact replica of the shopping plazas in LaVista and western Omaha. Same stores, same look, same restaurants. Oh, dear heavens! I kept looking for new and interesting franchise restaurants while we were traveling the Interstate - nope ... same things. So, we just had to look a little deeper for locally owned restaurants. If you find those - support 'em!

I'm tired of a lot of other things. It is difficult to read the news every morning and find that there has been another shooting in Omaha. My sister tells me about kids that show up in her classroom - they're traumatized by the lifestyles their families are leading. How then can they learn? She does her best, but somedays it's all about maintaining the order of things, not giving them new ideas to consider. It saddens me to realize that there are millions and millions of children that will never get the opportunity to enjoy their childhood like I did.

You know what? There is one organization I've joined. And I'm thankful to have one small chance to help one small child. Compassion International.

The other organization that keeps sending me stuff and I refuse to join is AARP. I get an email from them nearly every day. If someone out there put my name on their list, I'm going to have to get nasty with you! I'm not that old yet!

Alright, there's my rant for the day, maybe the week or even the month. Ahhhh ... maybe I'll take some more Advil to release the headache.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Bible Study

I've gotten involved in a group Bible study. It began this morning - we are studying David in "Anointed, Transformed, Redeemed" with speakers Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, and Kay Arthur.

I'm thankful to have structured study in my life again. Someone teaching me rather than me writing - that's a good thing.

But, this morning I met new people. I am doing the study at Gretna UMC and found friends there from Faith-Westwood and some others that I knew when I was at GUMC previously. But, new people ... that have a love for scripture and a heart that searches after God. That's exciting!

I sat down beside a young girl - the instruction was that we were to sit beside someone we didn't know. Within moments we were discussing our impressions of scripture and David, God and ourselves. Because we were in this type of environment, initial barriers were crossed immediately.

This is just another of those things that happens when people study scripture and search after God together. I haven't paid too much attention to it, but the truth is, my friendships have deepened and become more intimate due to the fact that I spend time searching out the truths of God alongside them.

It's so much more than seeing each other on a Sunday morning or at a choir rehearsal or in a workplace. It's that whole 'deep calls unto deep' thing. As we look into the heart of God together, we learn what it means to be friends.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


It is a forced emergence. I have to be at rehearsal this evening so I knew that I had to regain some semblance of alertness.

Since I haven't been on a long vacation (usually never more than 4 days) in forever, I had no idea what the extent of my exhaustion would be. I suppose it didn't help that we drove all night Saturday night and I got 4 hours of sleep during the day Sunday.

I don't know if I moved at all on Sunday. I watched television on my computer, I communicated with my friends on my computer (and a little on my phone), I held on to my poor, human-deprived cat at my desk in front of the computer, I ate in front of my computer. And the bathroom is only 6 steps away from my computer. I just plain didn't move.

Monday was a little better, but not much. My brain was moving, but my body was still exhausted.

I woke up this morning, dragged myself upstairs to go to the bathroom and sat down in front of the computer. It took awhile to bring myself to a state of semi-awareness, but I'm beginning to feel like a human again. I actually got some things put away and straightened out after the post-vacation dump. Laundry is finished, folded and put away, the maps, receipts and notes from the trip are filed and I've gotten some things outlined for the next writing project. I think that's a win for an old lady.

Max has been working intently on processing his photos. He is a driven man. You really need to check them out - leave him comments!

Pour Out a Blessing blog

I have a second blog that I write every day - Pour Out a Blessing. On October 1st, I began writing daily studies of the Psalms. This has been a wonderful journey for me. I always learn something when I study scripture and one of my greatest joys is to share what I learn with others.

The studies of 31 Psalms will be completed on October 31 and in November I will begin studying and writing about I & II Peter in the New Testament. I send out a daily email reminder as well.

If you would like to receive these daily emails, please let me know (email: nammynools at cox dot net). I'll be glad to put you on the list. Otherwise, you are welcome to join me on the blog each day at.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Post Adventure

Yesterday was weird. Just plain weird. I slept for 4 hours in the morning and then was awake until 3:00 this morning! Fully awake! Oh well, sigh ...

Cravings. Pepperjax and Jimmy John's. Yup. Lunch and Dinner. I was thinking about both of those places this week and so, that's what we had yesterday. We ate a lot of steak on the road - because that's what they have in open range ranch country - and though the m
eals were awesome, we were done with that by Friday night.

Pictures. Max is getting a bunch of his stuff converted and processed. It's up on his Flickr page. It's been really quiet around here (like it's ever a rabble-rousing rally). He's been pretty concentrated on the photography.

My brother used to tell me that he loved his mountains. When he and his family lived in Denver, he could see them nearly every day. He moved to Nebraska and saw no more mountains. After a week among the gorgeous red rocks, I can understand (minutely) how that happened to him. My mind still sees those beautiful locations. And sunsets in the west? Wow ...

I've actually been wandering around Google Maps with the Satellite imagery turned on and gotten close up so that I can look at all that we experienced from a bird's-eye view. Pretty darned cool.

After 10 days on a laptop, when I first put my hands on a full-size keyboard, a full-size mouse and looked at my 20" screen, I felt like a very little person with very big tools. It was awesome to see everything at full-size again!

I had complete freedom to talk to my friends again. I wasn't trying to keep an eye on the map (or the Garmin), I wasn't looking at immense vistas ... I could just chat. I discovered after being gone a week that lots of things changed in their lives - it isn't a big deal to them, but rather than hearing about the process, I heard about the change. And it happened to several of you, though you may not even realize it.

So, since we weren't supposed to be back until this evening, I'm continuing to consider this a vacation day. Max took 2 weeks off, so he'll be home all week with me. That should be fun.

I want to spend some time this week reading more about the geography and geology of the land we just spent days traveling through. I probably should have done more of that before we left, but I had no idea that we were going to be experiencing all that we did. We're ready to go back.

Max asked me on Saturday what I would have changed about the trip. We chose to do Santa Fe instead of the Petrified Forest. I would have made a different choice. But, even still ... it was amazing to see the change in the colors and landscape as we trekked north off of Highway 66. Santa Fe made a deliberate decision to have a unified look as they were building structures - everything is in the Spanish Pueblo style. You don't see that very often ... it was cool.

I might have chosen to stay in Moab, UT rather than in Monticello. It's larger, with more amenities for tourists and is closer to the parks. But, even still ... we had a wonderful place to sleep. It was very quiet. It allowed us a different access into the Needles District and the opportunity to go through state parks to get there.

I'm glad I didn't make reservations for the last two nights of the trip. That way I didn't have to cancel anything when we decided to head home in the middle of the night. Max and I used the reservations as 'goals' for our days. We knew that we had to be at a certain point by the end of the day and we just did it. After I watched the way we handled eating (we just chose not to eat rather than stop shooting pictures or traveling in beautiful areas), I'm a littled concerned that without the reservations, we would have wandered all night and never stopped to sleep! Or, we would have been sleeping in the Jeep.

So ... it's lunchtime. Wonder what we're doing today!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Max & Diane's Adventure - Day 9

8:50 am. We're packed, gassed and on our way. things are pretty quiet in the car. We're really wearing out. I would not make a good long-term traveler.

Max turned on his iPod.

Me: What are we listening to?
Max: Ska
Me: Just random Ska?
Max: No, it's chronological.
Me: So, it's not a group.
Max: No.

I'm married to a weird man.

10:46 am. I got Mountain Dew with my breakfast! Coke definitely has a hold on this region. The Dew wasn't even tap - it was a can. Oh well, that's fine. Wake me up, wake me up!

11:03 am. In the Arches National Park. Ok, I did not plan on this. Serious Vertigo. I got out to take a picture of the informational post to help explain the layers of rock out here. You can tell by the picture that it's not very good - I totally lost the outside edges. BECAUSE, I fell apart. There was a definite impulse to fling myself over the edge. The power of the deep canyon in front of me and the high tower behind me? Too much.

11:11 am. Ok, I'm much better. I'm still blown away by the mix of vast flatland, deep canyons and high buttes, but at least I'm not going to make my husband crazy through the park. He's a patient man.

11:46 am. Petrified Dunes. This entire area was a seabed millions of years ago. In fact, seas came and went over the eons depositing sediment and salts.

The Balanced Rock formation.

Windows Arch #1:

Windows Arch #2:

These formations come from erosion. Ancient sea salt deposits caused the ground to drop and other areas to jut up as it flowed away underneath the ground.

Cove of Caves:

If you know Max and myself, you know how little we like screaming children. Imagine our joy when totally inept parents can't deal with their single child. Screaming and screaming (child - not parents). Argh ...

Parade of Elephants (just one of several):

12:24 pm. The Garden of Eden.

If you look closely, there are two climbers on this tower.

This makes me think of the guardian set at the entrance to the original Garden of Eden.

More snarky commentary: Max and I drive into an overlook and there is absolutely no one there. As he begins to set up for the shot, I am not kidding, but 15 cars pull in (none of them related) and people begin piling all over the rocks. The poor man wanted to scream, but he patiently began shooting closeups.

His comment: "We've done it again. We attract a crowd." And ... another set of inept parents. She stands 15 feet from the car and watches her poor, stupid husband trying to cajole a 3 year old out of the car seat. The kid is screaming, the father is babbling (I have no idea - they don't speak English). I try to not be totally entertained by the whole thing, but the incessant noise is ... well ... AAAAAACK!

Juniper Bush. The little white berries can make ... gin ... or are a form of food for many of the animals in the Park. Second picture? Max getting a closeup for me. (Dork.)

1:37 pm. We've pulled off to shoot some more amazing formations. The music is still playing (from early this morning - yup, we've moved through Ska to Rock Steady to Reggae). Max says, "Just so you're aware, this is reggae." He's my geek.

These two pictures show some of the progression of the rock. Large formations are shot up from the ground by the activity way below. Then, fault lines cause the rock to break (see pic below). Over the millenia, erosion wears the rock away. Freezing ice crystals form in some of this and then break up the rock - as that blows away, wind clears it out and the arches are created.

Skyline Arch:

And, this is the only sign of Wildlife that I have seen. Disease took out the Bighorn Sheep population in the Arches National Park, but they transplanted 25 from Canyonlands (just west of here) and the population has increased to 80. But ... I saw none - of course.

2:33 pm. We are leaving Arches and are heading back into Moab to pick up a Scenic Byway along the Colorado River which will lead to I-70.

Max replaced the reggae with Paul McCartney ... ahhhhh..

We're barely speaking as we travel this road. Talk about making a person speechless. Immense, towering canyon walls and the Colorado river is flowing peacefully past us.

3:12 pm. Fisher Tower. It's going to be weird for us to leave this area - we have spent several days surrounded by the most amazing formations. I can't imagine living here. Would I ever get used to it? I certainly hope not, but I think it's human nature to take things for granted when they're around you all the time. Every time we've turned a corner, there has been something new to see. We drove back and forth from Monticello, UT to Moab, UT several times these last few days and though I was able to identify markers along the way, I kept seeing new things on the road. I've loved every minute of being in the midst of these red rocks.

Colorado River. We're about to head north away from it to pick up I-70. The red rocks are behind us, the landscape is changing again.

3:55 pm. We've stopped in front of a train crossing. Not to I-70 yet. It's just over the next rise! And I can't get to it. Oh well ... 6 train cars have passed the crossing and the train is totally stopped. It's time to walk the dog, maybe get a nap.

4:10 pm. On I-70 heading east. Hauling ass, as Max says. I have no idea where we'll be tonight, but we're coming home.

6:12 pm. I-70 parallels the Colorado. Right now it's running as white water. Gorgeous, but we're going too fast for me to snap pictures.

We've decided to see if we can't just get home tonight.

Sunset from the Interstate.

9:15 pm. Chick-Fil-A in Brighton, CO. Supper. The drive through the mountains in darkness was ... well ... entertaining. Neither of us had ever driven that before and I don't know that we'll hurry to do it again. Max was annoyed with the fact that he couldn't move at 75 mph, I was thankful that we were slowed to 55 mph. Tunnels through the mountains, interstate at different levels, Colorado river flowing past us, steep grades up and down ... made for a very interesting ride.

Right now it's 68 degrees. We're sitting on a picnic table outside the restaurant just enjoying the evening. Time to get going home.

One more stop for gas in Ogallala. We've been listening to Coast to Coast AM. Do you have any idea what insanity is on your radio at night? Oh my ...

6:15 am. We're home. We're pooped. But, we're home.

Day 9 ... Almost

Max and I got into Colorado and as we were traveling made a decision to push through and come on home. There was no image out there that was as important as finding that soft spot in our own bed and being in our own place.

So ... we pulled in about 6:15 this morning and are about to crash and burn. Leaving the phones off and we'll see how it goes.

As soon as I'm up, the priority is getting yesterday's blog stuff up. Great pictures - lots of fun things.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Max & Diane's Adventure - Day 8

5:08 am. Really? Go back to sleep.

8:09 am. Really? Wow! Get up and get moving!

9:02 am. Gassing up and ready to head out. My hair is nearly dry after 35 minutes. All moisture just disappears around here.

9:14 am. Dead deer on the side of the road. Max says, "There's your wildlife." I say, "I'm telling them on the blog about this!"

10:00 am. Moab Diner. I've been reading to Max on the trip up here - a book on the geology of the Canyonlands. Yup, that's the kind of geeks we are. I'm a little freaked out that all of this information has escaped me. The Colorado Plateau, based on the Colorado River, is absolutely fascinating! I've never thought too much about this area - in fact, it was pretty much a black hole in my mind. I'm so thankful that we have taken this time to be here. I have a much greater appreciation of the way the world was formed and the power of creation.

The Jeep Jamboree is in Moab this weekend. Max and I weren't invited. Ok, we don't fit in terribly well with the people flowing through here. Extreme athletes. These guys thrive on the wildness of the country - cycling, hiking, climbing, 4-wheeling, ATVs ... nuts!

11:02 am. Big Mesa viewpoint. We're heading for the "Islands in the Sky" district of Canyonlands.

Noon. We're in. I think I'm actually getting used to the grandeur? The tears start, but don't flow now. We stopped at Shafer Canyon for a few snapshots and are now pulled off as Max tries to grasp this grandeur with his camera.

This is such an interesting mix of flat pastureland and deep crevasses.

I love the funky dead trees around here. Great stuff.

More dead brush - how cool is this?

This is called Upheaval Dome.

Green River.

2:44 pm. Leaving Islands in the Sky. Max says to me, "Whatever yo udo, don't look down when you're in the outhouse." Well, duh!

6:12 pm. The sunset lights these formation on fire!

6:38 pm. Sunset pics on the way in to Monticello.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Max & Diane's Adventure - Day 7

6:30 am. No sunlight. No wakey.

8:30 am. Max isn't stirring. I'm certainly not going to.

9:00 am. Ah ha. He's finally waking up.

10:00 am. We're finally more alert, but since Max seems to be in no hurry, I'm just going to hang out on the internet and catch up on my life!

10:45 am. Packing for the day. We're not going to be back until late.

11:00 am. Gas and a quick stop at the local Visitor's Center for maps and advice.

11:31 am. The Aspens glisten in the sunlight. We are traveling to Newspaper Rock up into the Canyonlands. That's the reason you stop at a Visitor Center. They give you the best way in. The silver Aspens and green pine trees mix together in glorious beauty. Every once in awhile, a large grove of Aspens just make you stop and stare ... or take a picture.

11:46 am. Stop at an overpass. Glorious! We read a little about the Abajo people. They lived in cliffs and canyons for 8000 years. Later on the Pueblo Indians lived here.

11:53 am. This is going to be a long trip if we keep pulling over, but at least Max is enjoying himself.

12:29 pm. Newspaper Rock State Park. We stop for Max to take more pictures and there's an outhouse. That's always exciting. Racks and racks of toilet paper on the wall. I giggled. Then I read the sign: "Don't put trash in toilet. It is extremely difficult to remove."

Errr ... what? That has to be one of the worst jobs ever.

12:46 pm. Can't even figure out what picture to shoot. It is all so glorious. The layers of color in the rock are incredible. Combine that with shades of green on the ground and yellows and oranges of turning trees and it becomes breathtaking!

Just looked in the mirror to see if I could see Max without turning around and looking for him (that would require disturbing Leica and she just settled down). I brushed my hair back and saw more grey. Argh! Tanya, I'm calling when I get home.

We've seen a lot of older couples as we've traveled through the southwest. Since Max just turned 50, we are approaching their ages and will soon be there. That just can't be! How many old people do you know that choose to sleep in a wigwam? Tell me we're still not old.

Every time we come over a rise or around a bend, there is another awe-inspiring view. I seem to gasp a lot. The deep reds have returned to the rocks. Sometimes they are combined with white stone. Layers and layers of stone and color. A dream for a geologist.

One of the men who discovered this land was John Wesley Powell in the 1800s. He said (in 1875):

"The landscape everywhere, away from the river, is of rock - cliffs of rock; plateaus of rock; terraces of rock; crags of rock - ten thousand strangely carved forms. Rocks everywhere...

"When speaking of these rocks, we must not conceive of piles of boulders, or heaps of fragments, but whole land of naked rock, with giant forms carved on it: cathedral-shaped buttes, towering hundreds or thousands of feet; cliffs that cannot be scaled, and canyon walls that shrink the river into insignificance, with vast, hollow domes, and tall pinnacles, and shafts set on the verge overhead, and all highly colored buff, gray, red, brown, and chocolate; never lichened; never moss-covered; but bare, and often polished."

That's just an amazing description of all that we see here. Canyonlands is 547 square miles of National Park land. It is some of the roughest and wildest land. Most of it is completely inaccessible except for hikers. Some of it you can only access by river, some will tolerate a 4x4 vehicle, but not well.

1:48 pm. Needles District of Canyonlands. I won't let Max drive on the worst of the 4-wheel drive roads. A Wrangler or ... they say we need a lift kit. Oh my! I am a terrible chicken and he's trying to be nice to me about it. But, as I read more and more about this - there is no way that we are going to get in and get out again. Very steep, big rocks ... oh dear. We'll just have to find beautiful things on passable roads.

Max is a bit startled about the number of people in the park today. The last time he was here, it was empty. His comment, "What are all these people doing in my park?

4:00 pm. We keep getting warnings about wildlife running on the roads. Deer season ended yesterday and the hunters are pulling out. The Visitor's Center guide told Max that animals would be running like crazy to get out of their way. Yah ... I've seen NO wildlife (crows don't count). But, I finally saw these open range cattle. Does that count?

5:15 pm. In Moab, UT for dinner. This is the first meal we've had today. Steak. No talking, just eating.

6:30 pm. Heading back to Monticello for the night. I'll leave you with a sunset.