17; The Birthday of My Dreams – Part Four


Anne-Marie’s Notes: I am so very excited to have my daughter, Lindsey, graciously writing some guest posts for my blog about our 2009 AZ Trip. Of course, no arm twisting was needed for the talented author to compile the tale.

If you have not already, you might want to read the Adoption Story to get a better understanding of our relationship.

Lindsey’s Apology – Sorry it has taken me so long to write Part Four of this blog entry. I am a very busy kid who is plowing through her junior year in high school, writing books, dancing, e-mailing her friends, and g-mailing her best friend’s little brother’s best friend. But, anyway, back to the story.

The Trip – Day #5; Adventure of the Walnuts

This was a very exciting day for me. In theory, this was the day in which we would do the activity that was the entire reason for the trip. Back in the “original” trip plan (back when it was just Dad, Mom, me and Allie), we had planned on going hiking in Walnut canyon, about an hour or so drive from Sedona. So, now that we were actually in Flagstaff (much closer to Walnut canyon) we had determined to go there. How hard could it be for four little Munchies?!

I’d only visited Walnut canyon once two years ago. So, back [home], while Mom and I were planning the trip, Mom asked me to look up the pictures from that trip. The pictures revealed unMunchie friendly condition (come on, no guard rail?). I knew there was a rail for part of the way because I have a picture of myself leaning on it. The thing was that the guard rail was only on the stairs! How on earth were we supposed to get four Munchies down there?

However, God must have had this trip in mind when he created man, because we suddenly realized we had hands that could keep a tight hold on wandering Munchies. Problem solved.

Dad parked the car. We watched Anne-Marie’s car drive up the parking lot a little ways before pulling into a vacant spot. Overflowing with excitement and anticipation, we hopped out of the car, glad to be done with the long ride out here.

I don’t exactly remember what ensued in the follow minutes, except that I took Helena, Allie took Danni, and we all headed into the visitor’s center.

It was a bright sunny day, and we all [nine of us to be exact] were going hiking in Walnut Canyon, not just on the safer rim hike, but on the more treacherous island hike. This is going to be fun.

We’d talked about it with Anne-Marie, and she (being the one who knew the most about her Munchies’s capabilities) had given the OK for the island hike.

We made our way into the lobby, attracting a stare from many an onlooker who had merely come to enjoy Walnut Canyon. Oh, you guys are in for a surprise.

No sooner had we paid, then the kids wanted to explore the visitor’s center, a museum of sorts, much like the one at the Grand Canyon. The place was filled with all kinds of Indian artifacts and all kinds of modern wall paintings of barely clad native Indian women. R-rated material, don’t you think? Excuse me, there are children here! I don’t care if it’s historical! I don’t appreciate your choice of wall paper!

Having exhausted the museum, we headed for the trail. I was put on Helena duty, and Allie was put on Danni duty. Anne-Marie, Mom and Dad were in charge of the boys.

We began our hike, down the stairs into the canyon, each of us decked out in water bottles and the bare essentials (namely cameras, cell phones, and credit cards which we didn’t want to leave in the car). Well, all of us had a water bottle on them, except Allie, who’d added to my burdens by forcing me to carry her water bottle in my back pack. Okay, okay, that was an over exaggeration. I voluntarily offered to carry Allie’s water bottle in my back pack (as I had been doing for the majority of the trip).

The going got tough, but the tough were going, and there was no way to stop them. Allie and I did our best to keep Helena and Danni away from the edge. I must admit, I was impressed with how well the boys followed Dad. They must really be looking up to him, I thought.

The pathway began to drop into the canyon, requiring us to walk down several steep, switchback flights of stairs – the only part of the trail that had a rail on it. Nevertheless, Allie and I still played it safe and played little games with Helena and Danni, which were a fun way of getting them to change hands with us ever so often so that they wouldn’t be right next to the edge of the cliff.

Gabe pulled out his camera and took several pictures. Helena was once again inspired, wanting to be just like her older brother, and begged Allie to let her use Allie’s camera, to which Allie consented. Before the end of the hike, Helena would successfully fill up Allie’s memory card and start using mine. Luckily I’d set my camera on a setting which would allow me to fit 4500+ pictures on my memory stick, so Helena only made a small dent in my camera space.

The road went ever on and on, down from the door where it had begun (just thought I’d throw a little Lord of the Rings in there to spice up the slightly not-so-eventful hike). Things were going great! It was a fairly easy hike (aside from being on the edge of a steep cliff with no side rail). And the kids were doing really well.

Then we saw them – cliff dwellings! Well, we’d seen quite a few of them during the duration of the hike, but now these cliff dwellings were up close and personal – right on the side of the path! With minimal amounts of bushwacking, we all climbed into the cliff dwelling, which was actually more like a large piece of rock sticking out of the side of the cliff that created a roof. Lots of stones lay around, which makes me assume that there had been walls on this cliff dwelling earlier on in history (say, a couple hundred years before we got there).
The kids crawled around for a while, inspecting the stones which were scattered all over the ground inside the cliff dwelling, and several pictures were taken. Then we headed on.

The trail looped around after a while, and there we found yet more up close and personal cliff dwellings, only these had walls and little doors.
The munchies, Allie and I crawled inside and several more pictures were taken. Helena, at this point, had my camera and was madly taking pictures of the most random things. When we got back to the hotel, I would discover that the majority of the pictures (taken by Helena) were either blurry or of people from the waist down. Allie and I politely deleted pictures of each other, which Helena had somehow managed to take at awkward angles.

Seeing that it was approaching lunch time, we all headed back in the direction we had come. The trail was a loop trail, but part of the trail was under some sort of construction and was blocked off.

After our long, arduous hike, we emerged at the top of the canyon, back at the visitors center. Helena once again took control of my camera and took several pictures of Mom, Allie, and my teeth.
Then we headed to a nearby picnic table for our New Frontiers lunch of sandwiches and coleslaw.

The Splish Splash Adventure (AKA never wear an ASU t-shirt around U of A fans when you’re close to water)

Dad hates the ASU (Arizona State University) SunDevils with a passion. He’s a hard core U of A (University of Arizona) Wildcats fan. I, however, don’t care about sports teams and stuff like that. A couple months ago, we’d gone on vacation and I’d forgotten my swimsuit. So I bought myself a SunDevils t-shirt and some shorts. Dad will forever be giving me a hard time about that. [Lindsey’s interjection; Last August I became a Beavers / Ducks fan]
How does this fit into the story? Well, after we got back from our long arduous hike in Walnut Canyon, we’d all decided to take a swin in the hotel pool to cool off a little. Now we were on our way to the hotel pool, with Allie in her sporty blue checkered holter top, blue quarter length sleeve swim shirt and blue shorts, and I in my blue shorts, multicolored, slightly immodest halter top and SunDevils t-shirt. Little did I expect what was to come.

I could feel the annoyance seeping out of Dad when he saw us. Sorry Dad. Not my fault. Swimsuit’s a little low cut, and I’d rather wear this than be eye-candy, thank you very much.

We met the Shaffers in the hallway. The girls were dressed in tankini swimsuits, and the boys were dressed in board shorts and shirts much like Allie’s. We headed for the pool, cameras, cell phones, and room keys in hand.

The gate was securely locked, which confused me since we could see a boatload of people floundering in the pool on the other side. After some serious consideration, we found a sign which read “latch inside gate”. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

We were soon inside the pool area. Anne-Marie parked on one of the beach chairs provided by the hotel. Allie and I parked on another nearby. Wow, Allie and I have our very own beach chair to share!
I asked Dad to take a picture of me and Allie showing off our beautiful hotel deck chair, but he ordered me to take off my SunDevils t-shirt. The moment that picture was taken, the t-shirt went back on.

Dad had me and Allie pose by the edge of the pool. Then, suddenly, Dad lunged at me! My humiliation would’ve been enough if Allie hadn’t joined Dad’s side to shove me in. Ever since then, every time Allie and I go swimming, I’ve done my best to dunk her.

Feeling very sorry for myself, I climbed out of the pool to nurse my pride. I watched the munchies try to dunk Allie, and Allie successfully submerge them every time.

Then I saw my chance! The munchies had cornered Allie against the wall of the pool closest to where I was sitting on our deck chair. So, I casually walked up and plopped right into the water beside her. She made a move to swim away from the munchies, who were closing in, but I grabbed my unsuspecting victim under her arms, pulled her up out of the water, and dunked her. I was triumphant! She was surprised.

We spent the rest of the time in the pool dunking each other and cannon balling into the deep end with Anne-Marie. Three massive cannon balls at once really does make a huge tidal wave. Then we climbed out of the pool and headed back to the hotel to shower off before dinner. The Day I Aged Eleven Years in 24 Hours!

Allie emerged from the bathroom, her hair glistening with water drops. I looked up from Lappy and smiled. Just in case you’re wondering, Lappy is the name of my laptop computer. I am one of the few people in the world who name their “personal PC”s to make them more personal.
“Did you have a nice shower?” I asked Allie.
She nodded. “My hair is going to be wet for the next week.” I’m not the only one who has a tendency to over exaggerate, I thought.
“You ready to go to dinner?” I asked.
She nodded.

Tonight was a very special night. My parents were going to dinner by themselves (I speculate to escape from the children on one of their last nights in Flagstaff). Allie and I were going with Anne-Marie and the kids to dinner at Olive Garden, which I was a little worried (I have a slight fear of chain restaurants and their processed adulterated food).

We climbed into Anne-Marie’s rental car – Allie in the front with Anne-Marie, me sitting in the back with the boys, and the girls in the way back. The engine started up and we were off.

We parked in the back off the Olive Garden building, and walked around the side of the building to the front door. The hostess greeted us warmly. “How many?”
“Seven,” Anne-Marie replied.
The hostess’ eyes bulged. “Just one minute.” She disappeared around a corner.
“Okay guys,” Anne-Marie said, “sit down and get comfortable.”
Gavin, Ian, and Mara took up the offer, but Quincey stood between Allie and me, clinging to my hand.

After what seemed like an eternity, the hostess returned and led us to the back to a large round table. The boys sat together.
“Let’s try to put us between them,” Anne-Marie suggested.
Allie nodded. “To kind of break up the kids.”
Even with all of our best endeavors, Gavin, Ian and Quincey ended up sitting next to each other. Mara was securely wedged between Anne-Marie and Allie, and I was equally secured between Allie and Quincey.

The waitress came up to the table and handed out the menus. “Hello, my name’s Amy. I’ll be taking care of you tonight.” She placed an adult menu in my hands. My jaw dropped.
“Would you like to sample some of our fine wine tonight?” she asked.
Anne-Marie, Allie and I cracked up simultaneously.
“You just made her day,” Anne-Marie told Amy.
“Usually people think I’m twelve or thirteen,” I explained.
“Well,” Amy asked, “would you like a wine sample?”
Allie and I cracked up again.
“She’s underage,” Anne-Marie replied with a smile.
“I am so texting Mom!” I exclaimed, pulling out my cell phone. I quickly typed:
“We’re @ olive garden & the waitress asked me if I wanted a wine sample! It was really good!”

Which I quickly followed up with;

“Just kidding!”

The Starry Starry Night

After a very tasty dinner, we headed for the car. As I hopped into the car, I checked my phone. I had a voice mail…and it was from Mom.
I called Mom back. “Hey Mom, I got your message.”
“Hi,” Mom replied. “I was just thinking, if you guys are up for it, you could go over to the observatory without me tonight.”
“Hang on,” I said. I covered the microphone with my hand. “Mom says we could go to Lowell Observatory without her tonight.”
“We could do that,” Anne-Marie replied.
“Yeah,” Allie put in, “it’s a nice clear night. Tomorrow it might be cloudy.”
“Okay, let’s just do it tonight,” I said.

I put the phone on speaker so that Anne-Marie could hear Mom’s directions. It didn’t take us very long at all to get lost.
“We’re lost in Flagstaff,” I commented.
“We’re not lost!” Anne-Marie returned.
Right. Prove it.
Then, finally, we saw a sign; Lowell Observatory, this way.
“We found it!” Anne-Marie told my Mom over the phone.
“Okay,” Mom said. “Talk to you later. Bye!”
We ascended the hill to the top. In no time at all we were standing in the parking lot of Lowell Observatory – the place where Pluto was discovered.

“Okay,” I began as we headed in. “A bit of Pluto trivia. How many moons does Pluto have?”
“I don’t know,” Anne-Marie replied.
“Three,” I replied. “And what are their names?”
“I have no idea,” Allie replied.
“Nix, Hydra, and Charon – though I have no idea how to pronounce it.”
We entered the visitor’s center. There, staring us in the face was a price sign;

Adults: $6.00
Children: $3.00
(Age 5-17)
Members: FREE

“What!” I exclaimed. “I’m a kid now!”
“How many?” asked the woman at the desk.
“One adult,” Anne-Marie replied, “and apparently six children.”

We went out into the cold night air. Several telescopes were set up over the compound. The first of these we approached.
“What are we viewing?” I asked as the Shaffer munchies took turns looking through the telescope.
“A binary star system,” the guy operating the telescope answered. “A star which circles around another star.”
“Fascinating!” I looked though the telescope. “Are they the two bright ones?”
“Yes.”
We moved on to the next telescope. “What are we looking at?”
“Saturn,” replied the young college student who was working the telescope. One by one we looked through the telescope at the distant planet.

Then we hiked the hill toward the big telescope, the one used by Percival Lowell himself. I pointed to a large structure nearby. “That’s where Percival Lowell is buried.”
“Whoa,” Allie said in amazement. “Really?”
I nodded.

After another eternity, we were in the telescope building. Mara was the first to look through the telescope. She came down the ladder silently.
“Mara,” I asked, “what did you see?”
“I saw the moon,” she said in disbelief. “I saw the moon!”
“How fascinating!” I replied enthusiastically. “I see the moon every night of my life!”

One by one, Gavin, Ian, Quincey, Anne-Marie, Allie, and I looked through the telescope. The moon was fascinating! It had been a while since I’d seen it that big.

As we walked back toward the car we talked about it.
“It was awesome,” Allie stated. “I could see all of the craters!”
“Okay,” I replied with a smile. “Now name all of the craters you saw.”
Allie glanced at me. “I don’t remember my astronomy! Do you have the craters of the moon memorized?”
“No.”

Previous Entries:
Part One (4 segments):
Preface
The Meeting
The Long Expected Party
The Adventure


Part Two
Part Three

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