Friday, March 23, 2012

Tweet, Tweet!

No, I'm not talking about the 140 character or less posting, or update on Twitter.  I'm talking about the sounds of the birds that are twitter-patted and excited about the warm weather, building their nests, and mating.  As I was cleaning out a patch of garden yesterday, the sounds of the birds struck me, and made me smile even more.  To me, the sounds of birds herald spring, and this spring has come earlier than usual, with record 80+ degree weather here in the Boston area in March! March is the time of year I start to watch for my favorite bird, the Eastern Blue Bird. 

If you want to do something nice for the birds, and encourage them to come to your yard, why not put out some nesting material for them and help them along.  Nesting material can be as simple as grasses or material cleaned out of the flower beds, thread, string, dryer lint, bits of yarn, etc.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Grand Canyon - Havasupai's Mooney Falls

190' Mooney Falls
I was just looking through pictures from our spectacular vacation, and putting together a photo book and realized that I never finished writing about our Grand Canyon Adventures!  Not sure how I let that slip, but on any given day besides work, I'm helping, cleaning up after, distracted by, or chauffeuring 1, 2, 3, or 4 children, or any combination thereof.  At any rate, I'm going to do my best to catch up on the details of our trip:

After a 14 hour day touring Las Vegas, we checked out the Hoover Dam, and then spent 2 days at Grand Canyon West (GCW).  Although not as well known as Grand Canyon National Park, GCW is the home of the Hualapai Tribe , and we recommend visiting.  During our visit, we were able to walk up to the edge of the canyon, look down into the canyon, and explore and take pictures without any railings to alter the views.  We saw gorgeous panoramic sunsets at Guano Point, sunrise outside of  our cabin door at Hualapai Ranch where we enjoyed archery, quick-draw, tomahawk throwing, roping, and horseback riding up to the rim of the Canyon.    

Hoover Dam
Sunrise at Hualapai Ranch cabins
At the edge of the Canyon, Guano Point

Sunset at Guano Point, Grand Canyon West

Horseback riding at Hualapai Ranch

Switchbacks as we descend from trailhead
The Canyon view as we hike
30' Rock Falls - Rosebud and Rhody jumped from the top!
After exploring at GCW, we continued east to the Grand Canyon Caverns.  We toured the caverns and after a hearty dinner in Seligman at Lilos, we settled in so we’d be ready for the next day.  After a 4am wakeup, we packed up and drove down dark, vacant Route 66 a short distance to get to the turnoff for the 62 mile ride to the trailhead, Hualapai Hilltop.  It was around 7am when we set out from the trailhead, and it was still cool.  We hiked into the Canyon, 8 long miles; the first 1.5 miles were steep switchbacks with loose footing, and it was cool since we were in the shade, and the sun hadn’t heated the canyon walls for the day.  As the trail leveled out, the terrain was less rough, and the “soil” was finer, looser, red sediment that has washed into the canyon over thousands of years.  Soon after we’d made it to level terrain, it began to heat up, and we trekked the rest of the way in the July heat continuously sipping the water from our Camelbacks which were nestled into our backpacks.  We stopped along the way for photos, for breaks and snacking on dried fruit, granola, and peanut butter crackers.  We reached the Village of Supai, home of the Havasupai Indian Tribe in about 4 hours. 

After resting and having lunch, and checking into the air conditioned Lodge, we decided to hike 1.5 miles further to Rock Falls, a 30 foot waterfall.  Rosebud and Rhody jumped from the top!  After picking up some pb and j, bread, cheese, nacho chips, salsa, crackers, and water (lunch and dinner supplies) at the General Store, a good night’s sleep, and a big breakfast at the Café, we decided to hike 2.5 miles to the furthest fall that we would visit, Mooney Falls, and then backtrack and enjoy two other falls as we made our way back. 

Getting to Mooney Falls is not a leisurely 2.5 mile hike, and it’s not for the faint of heart, or someone afraid of heights.  Mooney Falls, is the tallest of the Havasupai Falls at 190’ tall.  Getting to the base of the falls is tricky, because the trail winds down the face of a cliff, and then through a short tunnel.  The tunnel ends at a ledge that has a great view of the falls at about 120’ from the bottom.  There is a thick chain link “rail” to keep hikers from falling.  You don’t want to fall from here…Mooney Fall is named after a miner who fell to his death in 1882.  The trail continues in a second, narrow, steep tunnel that emerges about 80’ above the canyon floor.  At this point, there is a very steep descent along rough rock, and more chains that are anchored to cliff walls with rebar and eye hooks.  Without this chain and rebar for handholds and footholds it would almost impossible to descend safely.  Hikers cannot pass along these sections, there is only room for one person, and it’s necessary to take turns descending and ascending.  At about 15-20’ from the bottom there are old wooden ladders to make the final descent.  Hikers should note that the constant mist from the falls can make the climb dangerous and slippery.  But it’s so worth the adrenalin rush to get into the water at the base of the falls.  Due to the mist, it was tricky to take pictures without getting the camera wet, but we managed.  The water actually felt cool even though it was a hot July day because of the mist.  If you dared to get near the pounding water, it prickled the skin!  We explored downstream a bit, snacked, and jumped off some of the smaller falls there.  Be sure you remember to pack lots of water, snacks, sun screen, beach towels, and water shoes to keep your feet safe as you climb and jump from the falls.  You also might want to pack a small foot power to help dry off your feet before putting the hiking boots back on.  And as you can see, a camera is a MUST to capture the brilliant colors and beauty of Mooney Falls.

Hiking down to Mooney requires you to pass through narrow rock tunnels

Climbing up/down to Mooney Falls is a bit tricky!

Hang on tight to the ropes and wooden ladders

190' Mooney Falls

Monday, March 19, 2012

Declutter, reuse, fling

I've sung the praises of Marla Cilley, aka FlyLady of on several occasions, and tomorrow's mission of the day is to fling (or toss) some socks and pantyhose.  FlyLady's sidekick Kelly writes about the mission,
"You know that drawer that is full of old pantyhose and mismatched socks that you have held on to for reasons you don't even know. It is time to go through and toss, toss, toss. Be good to yourself and let go of these things that are cluttering up your bedroom. Hidden in a drawer or not, it is still clutter. Take 15 minutes and toss, toss, toss!"
But WAIT!!!  Before you toss those old socks, reuse them one more time!   I keep a few old socks stashed with the cleaning supplies for quick cleanup.  For example, I frequently use old socks to cleanup after our bulimic cat messes, then toss the mess and the sock without the guilt of wasting a paper towel.  I know, I know, that's gross, but I don't want that grossness touching my hand, and the sock is thicker than the paper towel and already destined for the trash.  Or...for a less gross cat related option, stuff an old sock with catnip, tie a knot and watch your favorite feline go nuts :)  Don't forget about your favorite canine...tie some old socks together to make a cheap dog pull.  Call Fido over for some tug-o-war and exercise your biceps!  

For other quick cleanups, I'll use an old sock on my hand as a dust mitt.  It works well to go along the baseboards, picture frames, etc.  Maybe you have some dusty or yucky messes you need to clean up without wrecking your sponges.  Old socks also make great shoe polishers, and after you use them to apply polish you can use them to shine the shoe too!

Similarly, before you toss the old pantyhose, reuse it for cleaning between rungs on chairs, or between tight spaces.  Have you heard of using pantyhose to help get paint into tight spaces between fences, or slats?  After cutting old pantyhose into strips, they can be used to tie up plants in the garden without harming delicate stalks, and the hose will give as the plant grows.  Then after you are nice and dirty from gardening, how about putting slivers of soap to use in a pantyhose leg, and tying it to the outdoor faucet for a washing station?   I've also placed an old pair of pantyhose on the end of the vacuum hose with a rubber band to keep it in place, to prevent sucking up Legos or other small items permanently (you know small things that might be in or under the couch that you don't want to loose forever).  

Declutter, reuse, fling.  Give it a try.  Get going with inspiration from Flylady to declutter those drawers 15 minutes at a time, then reuse those old socks and pantyhose for greener spring cleaning alacartegreen style, and then fling.  Declutter, reuse, fling, repeat!