We were in Boerne, (bern-ee) TX recently for a bike ride. It’s a quaint town near San Antonio. It’s been 10 years since I visited and the town continues to grow. Main street is thriving with quirky and fine shops. I’d like to return so we can explore more of it!
Here’s the thing. I didn’t really want to spend a week rafting/camping in the Grand Canyon but my husband really wanted to go. We had visited the North Rim before but I was curious to get deep inside the canyon. I’m not a good camper but I’m from Texas and we’re not known for pleasant summer nights. When friends invited us on a private trip, I said ‘yeah, okay’ and signed up!
The group had booked with Western River who started their trips in 1961 with a uniquely designed boat made of hot dog looking tubes in the front. They picked us up in Las Vegas at 4:45 am to travel to the Boulder City airport so we could catch our flight to Marble Canyon. Once we arrived, our guides met us. Joe, Shad, Justin and Jack were all wonderful guides, cooks, rescuers, medics and companions.
There was a lengthy safety talk the first day at launch. This is an expedition, not a resort. There was an opportunity to opt out if you weren’t willing to be uncomfortable. Medical help is 3-4 hours away. They asked us to stay flexible because you never know what will happen. You need to be able to get on and off the boat without assistance and hike over boulders, on ledges and through streams. I would say it’s not for people who are uncomfortable with 1) sand, 2)not taking a shower for a week, and 3)peeing in the river
The water was down a bit from normal at 8000 cfs. The rapids were still fun and exciting. We had quite a few 8, 9 and 10 class rapids and even one 11. We learned the rapids are rated by danger and technical skill required to navigate. On the fourth day, we had 30 challenging rapids to navigate. We had several 180 turns in the rapids which were (mostly) planned. We had a few passengers spin around but no one fell into the rapids. Camps each afternoon were determined by what’s available and how far we needed to go each day.
The views were amazing. The canyon changed as we rafted along. I loved seeing the 600 foot red wall canyons the first time. I marveled that 6 million go to the Grand Canyon each year, but only 20,000+ see what we saw. We saw lots of Desert Bighorn sheep, mule deer, lizards and one hummingbird that perched on our heads and hands looking for something sweet.
All in all, it was an epic expedition with lots of fond memories and a few bruises. I’m glad I said yes!
As I approached the lake in the garden, the ducks started swimming my way. I had to keep my eye on one when I turned my back to take a photo. Good news, I wasn’t chased! I wished I had bread in my pocket for them and the koi.
The garden is part of Hermann Park and I’m sorry that I had never been there. The joy of more leisure time is being a tourist in my hometown. If you enter from the front gate, the garden is slowly revealed to you. The challenge for the Tokyo landscape designer Ken Nakajima was to use our local trees in his design. The effect was lovely! It was a peaceful respite from the heat of the city.
As I was sitting there enjoying the lake, I heard a loud cry from a toddler. A multi-generational family came in with two young children. That was my signal to move on!
Cadillac Ranch was on Bruce Springsteen’s album, The River. It was released in October 1980. The following Fall, I started college at UT-Austin and remember bringing this album with me. As we studied, played and hung out with new friends in our dorm rooms, I remember playing this album over and over. It became scratchy and worn from use. My friends probably tired of listening to it. Yes, I had a little crush on Bruce back then.
It was exciting to see the inspiration for the song in person, though it looked different than I expected. All the cars are covered in graffiti. When we arrived at 7:30 in the evening, people were streaming out of their cars to see this landmark. Some brought spray paint with them and others were excited to find cans on the ground with leftovers.
The artists, a group called Ant Farm contacted Stanley Marsh 3 about funding a project in 1972. Cadillac Ranch was installed in 1974 and moved two miles west in 1997. The artists support the interactive nature of Cadillac Ranch today. I find it to be an evolving and iconic landmark.
I flew last week. I was curious and a little concerned about how it would go. I hadn’t seen much on flying recently but remember the photos of crowded planes and few face masks. I also was aware that the Texas Medical Association had rated flying as a moderately high risk activity.
After thinking about it, I decided to continue with the trip. I was meeting close friends for a weekend in West Virginia. My husband and I have been mostly home during pandemic. We have seen a few friends and gone to the beach, but other than that, we have had little social life.
My flight was from Houston to Richmond, VA and I found a direct flight. I was disappointed when a week out, the airlines canceled my flight. They routed me to Washington, D.C. then picked up a smaller plane to Richmond. My flight to DC was 50% full and I had the row to myself. I was thrilled! The flight attendants gave us a plastic bag with a small water bottle and a couple snacks. I packed my lunch thinking it would be a long day and when I saw that the restaurants in the Houston airport were closed, I was grateful that I had my meal. My flight to Richmond had more passengers, around 70%, but it was a short flight. I was relieved to land in Richmond! I had that mask on for 6 hours and couldn’t wait to take it off. I thought about the essential workers who wear them every day all day.
I felt like the airline tried to do everything they could to make it safe and comfortable. All the passengers were wearing masks, were patient and complied with requests. The crew seemed happy that we were there. It was a good experience overall. I’ll fly again when the times comes.