I don’t mean to jinx things around here, but you guys — I am wearing sleeves. Okay, okay. I am wearing sleeves first thing in the morning when I walk the dogs. Not all day. The afternoons are still in the 90s, but this is sweet progress! The mornings are crisp and cool enough to open windows. My electricity bill is likely to be halved this month.
In a nutshell: this is the best time of year.
The garden, on the other hand, doesn’t look so swell. These babies weathered July and August. Troopers, really.
Thankfully, I was gifted a handful of great new gardening books for my recent birthday. I’m using them to draft plans; my beau is building garden boxes at his house for winter vegetables and herbs. This is very exciting news! I have never gardened when watering was easy. These boxes will be on a timed drip.
My love of weird succulents continues too. Check out these odd balls that were recently added to my collection:
Love it. So thankful our outdoor season has finally arrived!
These poor pumpkins were cooking in the heat. The edges were browning and the flowers weren’t doing great. Even though I planted the native seeds when I was supposed to, I am not sure we’ll see gourds before Thanksgiving.
Regardless, I knew they needed some shade. In the spirit of using what we have — I repurposed four tomato stakes, a yard of heavy canvas fabric from the thrift store and the grommet tool.
Voila. Does a good enough job to keep the sun off during the hottest part of the day. The plant has flourished since. And, when we get those freak rain storms, that canvas dries and can be easily replaced.
Are you planting a fall garden? What are you planning?
When I saw this paper mache deer head at the craft store, I knew I wanted to paint it. I wasn’t sure why, but I loved it. And so, for a few bucks and a couple coats of paint…
The first Christmas decoration is up. (Because, you know. In Tempe we see lots of deers.) The simplicity of this does delight me, however.
Because sometimes it is the little things that make me crack up:
The last two are to prove it isn’t all torture. He occasionally gets walks and belly rubs too.
I’m sure I’ve bored you to pieces with all of these photos. Here are a few of the remainders I love:
Who knew the Colorado looked like chocolate milk? This was the only time we really saw the river.
More falls. You cannot tell from this vantage, but that is a 25 foot drop.
See that trail down there? Yep. Walked it.
Loved it. Can’t wait to go back. Have I mentioned this?
Rather than camp at Bright Angel, the group made reservations a year in advance for Phantom Ranch. There are a dozen or so small rock cabins, full of bunk beds. The accommodations are simple, clean and very comfortable. (Real toilets, hot running showers) The main canteen offers breakfast, sack lunch and dinner with reservations. Otherwise, they are well stocked with snacks and drinks. Long tables hold 12 people; meals are a tight fit, but it feels like adult camp.
How do they get those supplies down there? The same way they run the mail and trash up the canyon: by mule. I’m fairly certain this is the last remaining mule mail service in the US.
I loved being there. We did yoga one morning on our bath towels outside, stretching out the previous day’s hike. We eyed the board games, drank bad boxed wine, watched a bit of wildlife, took side hikes and sat in the river — again, trying to ease the soreness.
The meals were the same from day to day. Breakfast was coffee, pancakes, bacon and scrambled eggs. Lunch was a sack of snacks. Dinner was cornbread, chili, salad and cake. We ate it all with gusto.
Pretty incredible supply chain, someone is managing — all via UMS. (United Mule Service)
Also of note: apparently they do not like you to touch the mules. Even if they are adorable and wiggle their ears at you and basically BEG to be nuzzled. Coincidentally, I got scolded by a cowboy, and that was not all bad.
Perhaps my favorite part of the trip was the side hike to Ribbon Falls. Just south of the Cottonwood campsite, Ribbon Falls are a brief .5 mile hike off the main trail. We were able to easily climb up the falls and stand behind the water, watching it pour down on years (centuries?) worth of limestone and moss. The water was a refreshing break after 10 miles of hiking from the north rim. And simply gorgeous:
We started in Flagstaff and continued on, North Rim to South Rim, with a couple of nights at Phantom Ranch in between:
We parked at the South Rim, took a shuttle across the Navajo Reservation, and spent the first night at the North Rim. The lodge is fantastic in every western way; made of old wood beams and rock, it is a marvel of architecture and history. It sits on the lip of the rim. We arrived in time to watch the sunlight drain from the sky, the moon climb, and lights on the other side of the canyon twinkle as dusk faded into night. The North Rim lodge has far fewer visitors and is a good bit higher in altitude than the South. It is fairly hard to get to, unless you are dropping in by helicopter from Las Vegas. The 4.5 hour drive was mostly desolate reservation, with red cliffs and sage green hills. As we crept closer to the rim, climbing in altitude, the horizon changed from dust to juniper to pinon pine and aspens — which were yellow and rust orange, ready to shed their leaves to cooler weather. The aspens stood out like show girls, waving all their color and sass on an otherwise green hillside.
After a cold first night in bunk beds, nestled in a log cabin, we started the hike off the North Rim. In darkness, we used headlamps for the first 30 minutes as we descended with our group down the path. The early morning light danced on the canyon walls, and we watched with true awe as the colors changed before us, shifting like crayons in the box of 64. The sky from indigo to azure. The rock walls from forest green to sienna and amber. The dirt beneath our feet changing too. In places dusty red, and in other sandy and silty — with puddles, toads and moss.
The first day was a little more than 14 miles — longer than I’ve ever gone with a pack and poles. It was a long, delightful journey and my feet were so very happy to arrive at Phantom Ranch.
Ellen asked for those recipes I make all the time. (Thank YOU for all of your amazing suggestions. I’m going to cook and review one a week. Stay tuned.)
Those magical 8 standards in our kitchen:
Trupti‘s Chicken Curry
16 Hour pulled pork
Mmmm… mushroom risotto. That is my ultimate comfort food!
I started a knitting club at work last week. Everyone who came to the first meeting received a knitting roll with a set of huge knitting needles for an easy first project. Because when I nerd out, I like to do it with others. And snacks.
Also: I am hiking the Grand Canyon like RIGHT NOW AS YOU ARE READING THIS. Woo!