Saturday, July 31, 2021

Photo Saturday: Grand Canyon Outtakes

Jemima Pett suggested it, and since there are so many more photos in my Grand Canyon rafting album than I was able to share even in 8 posts on the trip, I'm doing one more, just for some of the pretties that didn't make the cut. Of course, I lost track of the days of the week again, so here's my Photo Friday coming on Saturday again.

These are just some random photos from the first half of the trip that didn't make it into the main trip reports, with minimal commentary.

Approaching Navajo Bridge, Day 1
First morning on the river

Looking for whitewater

Some kind of wormish fossil

The sandstone and limestone portions of the Canyon are full of fossils.
It's not just fossils. The Canyon is full of life.

 Humans, too, sometimes being strange.
The apex of river fashion

Creekside boulder reveals the radical variations in water level in the Little Colorado

Keep an eye on the sky.

Morning haze.
Water color

The beautiful green or clear water we had all the way isn't natural or normal, of course, but a result of the Glen Canyon dam and a lack of recent run-off in side canyons.

Sometimes the color is a reflection of the walls. Sometimes, as here, that red is intensified by minerals in the water.

Hope you enjoyed a little photo break!

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2021
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Writer's Wednesday

Today I'm just giving a quick update.

One story out on submission was rejected, and is ready to go out again.

The novel stands at 38,600 words. After some struggles over the weekend, I had a 2400-word day on Monday, and Tuesday came close to 2K. I won't have a complete draft by the end of the month, or even before heading to the mountains in August, but I should have a significant part of one.

Finally, I've been kind of neglecting the Smashwords Summer/Winter sale. It's got a few more days, and I've change a few prices, so head on over and take a look. 

While we're at it, I want to remind readers that when authors--not just me, but all the writers offering books at special prices for the sale--give free books are deep discounts, we are hoping you will at the least write a review somewhere. Is it required? Of course not. But it is deeply appreciated. So much depends on reviews, so consider giving that gift if you read and enjoy our books!

Today's bonus photo. This feels a bit like the way a story develops, so tightly closed at first that you don't think it can ever be anything. You can't force it to open, but if you just let it go its own way, it will blossom.

From the Grand Canyon outtakes

That's a datura, and here's what it looks like in bloom.

This one was not far from my house on a recent cloudy/smoky morning.

Monday, July 26, 2021

#Writephoto: Underwater

As always, thanks to KL Caley of for the weekly #WritePhoto prompts! A photo and a word, and off we go. Have a look at the other offerings either linked in the comments of the Thursday lunchtime prompt post, or in the round-up this Thursday. 

This week's word is Subsea


Photo by KL Caley


Since I'm so deep in working on my novel, I didn't want to write a full-length flash. I came up with a sorta silly hiaku instead.


The rainbow’s end fell

Into the fish bowl and spilled.

Which fish ate the gold?


Now it's your turn!


Friday, July 23, 2021

Photo Friday: The Grand Canyon, Part 8

The final chapter! Days 14-16

The previous posts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Part 5

Part 6
Part 7

Day 14
After the fun splash ride through Lava Falls rapid, it was kind of nice to have a mostly calm drift down the river in the morning.

A note on footwear: while bare feet in sandals is probably the most practical on the river, I didn't want to get sunburned. The Sealskinz socks I borrowed proved a good compromise, as they didn't get sodden and stretched out of shape the way normal socks would. They helped some with my cold feet, but I suspect bare feet would have been warmer, as having some hope of drying.

As mentioned in Part 7, just above Lava Falls we entered the volcanic portion of the canyon. That made for some great geology, between the intrusions of lava and some beautiful columnar basalt. For those who aren't geology geeks, that's the postpiles of Devil's Postpile, or the pavers of the Giant's Causeway. The columns are formed as the lava cools and shrinks.

A close-up of the columns, which in this case seem to have from four to six sides.

In the middle of this volcanic theme park, we stopped for a hike, to be followed by lunch. The Whitmore Trail leads up to the North Rim, or at least to a spot below the rim where the land is broken enough for a road to lead down to within 1000' of the river. The climb was hot, but as always, worth the effort.

Heading up. Note the general sense that the canyon walls aren't as steep now. This is not an impression that holds while you are climbing the trail, which gains 1000' in a mile.

As always, climbing rapidly puts the river in perspective.

Looking back at our boats. We waded the channel between the sandbar and the shore before starting our climb.

Finally close enough for a photo of the ocatillo

Partway up, we passed under an overhang that proved to be the underside of some of the columns.

Although in a way I was sorry to do this hike--it brought the outside world back to us, both with the sight of the road (and the jeeps camping at the end of the road) and in the form of day-hikers, an alien species after two weeks on the river--the views were not to be missed.

Ocatillo, looking upstream

Basalt flows and the Hurricane Fault both run through here.

Back down at the base of the cliff, before wading over to lunch, I detoured to check out some prehistoric pictographs.

Then on down the river, to camp below Parashant Wash at Mile 199.

There was a lot of drying going on. The map suggested none of our rapids was very big, but we got wet anyway. Size of rapids does not necessarily correlate to how wet you are.

Day 15
A 20-mile river day, we didn't make any significant stops on this final full day of the trip.

Our camp at 220 Mile Canyon did permit a rare free-hiking opportunity. I waited as late in the afternoon as I could to dodge some of the heat but still have time to explore before dinner. To my delight, the ramble up the wash revealed far and away the best flower garden of the trip.

Up the wash.

It was another of those canyons that could go on all the way to the rim and beyond, but I resisted the urge to continue beyond the end of the narrow gulch.

Rock nettle. Never saw so many and so lush.

Close-up of the rock nettle flower.

Globe mallow
The cocktail hour (i.e., waiting for dinner) brought out the spirit of fun in everyone, and we indulged in games of balance and agility. I was okay at the egg-and-spoon race, but skipped the single-leg no-hands stick collection game.
Mostly the guides could do this.

Planking was more the mode for some of us.

Day 16
Our final day on the river, and we were in no hurry to leave. We had only six miles to float, and a target take-out time of 9:30--no problem for this seasoned crew!

Shoving off

Arrival at our take-out meant a flurry of activity, de-rigging the boats and loading the truck. Passengers were encouraged to help. Because the take-out is on Havasupai land, we masked up as soon as we landed, and stayed that way all the way back to Flagstaff.

Cleaning the boats gave some an opportunity they couldn't pass up to give some splashes back to the crew.

Loading the dory on the trailer.

The rafts got piled up and deflated. That was our signal to flop on the squishy stack and take a break. That's me in the foreground; my brother-in-law Tom Dempsey of took the picture.

Back on the bus! The trip to town starts with ten miles up Diamond Creek, which takes an hour in the bus. The road is very rough in places, though nothing I wouldn't take the Prius down... In the wash, we spotted some of the feral donkeys made famous by Marguerite Henry's Brighty of the Grand Canyon, but I didn't get any photos.

Our lunch stop in Seligman meant we were on the famous Route 66 for a time.

It was sad to finish the trip, though no denying that a hot shower felt wonderful. I can't say too much how fantastic the whole thing was for me.

One final image to close with: some socks you just don't want to put in your washer, and ones that have hiked the side canyons and waded the streams are at the top of the list!

Hope you've enjoyed the trip!

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2021
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Writer Update

I just realized this week that I should have signed up for Camp NaNo. Oh well, the words are coming as well as--no, better than I could have hoped.

I'm now up to 26,500+, and have sent in one application for an artist's residency. On the novel, I've finally gone back to the outline, realized some important things had gotten left out, and decided to write the missing scenes but worry later about working them in at the right place. Then I carry on from wherever I left off as though it had been that way all along. I suspect editing this one is going to be a tough project.

I'm also getting up at 6 or earlier almost every day to hike/bike before it gets too hot, and I'm struggling with the side-effects of that. Napping morning and afternoon feels a bit decadent, but I find it impossible to keep writing when I'm that sleepy! 

Finally, watch this space--the blog will be moving soon (probably in September) to a new home on my soon-to-be unveiled author web site! There will be a re-direct, but you will need to sign up to follow the new blog. Don't worry--I'll be sure to let you know the details!

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2021
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Plastic-Free July?

 Well, maybe not exactly plastic-free, but I'm working on reducing my use of single-use plastics. I began by saving it all for about 10 days (was supposed to be a week but I lost track). I was pretty shocked at how much I accumulated, though it was higher than usual due to a couple of clean-out-the-cupboards projects and some on-line shopping.

It's a little hard to see here, because the bags and wrappings are all stuffed into the big wrap that disappears off the top of the photo. But it's just over a pound, some recyclable, more of it not.

Here's the breakdown:

On the left, we have all the bags, wrappers, and some worn-out ziplocks. None of this is effectively recyclable in my community. Next to it the non-recylable hard bits. l'd been reusing the plastic spoon, but of course it gave up. The Amazon mailer is another that says it's recyclable but I have no place to do so. I reuse a lot of these, but I don't need that many. The other two bags would be nice, reusable plastic bags with zippers--except they have holes neatly punched in them. Some pants I ordered came in those.

On the far right is the stuff that can go in my recycling bin: a couple of bottles, a couple of clamshells, and a yogurt tub.

Honestly, I'm pretty horrified. This is for one person, and that a person who tries to be conscious of my plastic usage! 

Looking at it, I'm trying to figure out what I can avoid. I can stop mail-ordering things, except... those are things I couldn't find locally. I realized when I look that almost everything in the store comes in some kind of plastic. I made the choice to buy frozen chicken rather than fresh, because all the fresh came in plastic trays. On the other hand, those are (theoretically) recyclable, while the bag isn't. I can buy fruit at the farmer's market, taking my own bags... but berries always come in some kind of container, usually plastic.

One thing you don't see there is any shampoo bottles. I've already made the switch to shampoo/conditioner bars, and am perfectly happy with those. I'm probably going to make my own laundry detergent, if I can find that recipe again, because I can't seem to find decent powder that is unscented.

At least the size of the pile has me looking more carefully at everything I buy!

Oh, and here's a couple of links to some helpful tips on reducing plastic in your life:

 ©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2021
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

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Friday, July 16, 2021

Photo Friday: Grand Canyon, Part 7

Rafting the Grand Canyon, Day 13. This trip was April 3-18, 2021, with AZRA--Arizona Raft Adventures.

See previous reports:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Remember how back on the 3rd day I wondered if 16 days was going to be too long? By the morning of the 13th day, with only 3 more real river days to go, I knew it wasn't going to be long enough. It would have been wonderful to have spent more days moseying through the upper parts of the canyon, because now with ocatillo on the shores and lower walls, we could feel the beginning of the end.

Still: I thought this would be a final report and cover the last 4 days, but when I looked at the photos... nope. There was still a lot going on, including the exciting passage through Lava Falls Rapid. A big day, it deserves a post of its own.

Day 13

There may have been some who felt a little nervous about our 13th day being the one we would run Lava Falls Rapid, possibly the single most famous (after Crystal?). But for most of us, we probably didn't know what day it was, and in any case by that time I had enough faith in our guides to feel only a little excitement, no more fear (a nice contrast to my terror at the idea of rapids before we began running them).

As usual, the morning started about 5:30 with the coffee and a quick packing job.

By this point in the trip, we were masters at packing, and had learned to stage the gear based on what the guides would want on each boat.

Breakfast was something new every day. This day, we had lox and bagels with cream cheese.

It's the garnishes. Our 13th morning on the river and there are garnishes on breakfast!

Before we left, guide Jed Tarlow drew a dynamic diagram of Lava Falls rapids in the sand, and illustrated how we would like to go through, and a few of the less desirable things that could happen. In spite of this most of the paddlers wanted to ride the paddle raft through!

Into the calm

Even with the Big Rapids looming ahead of us, we had time to stop for a really nice hike up Mohawk Canyon, though the guides may have regretted it later, when the wind came up something fierce.


Not everything we saw was beautiful, and not every bighorn is a survivor, apparently.

I don't know if this ram lost a fight or lost it's footing, though from the location of the skeleton, probably the former.

The hike up the canyon was a perfect blend of really pretty and some fun scrambles.

People wait their turn, and try to decide which of three routes to take. For the record, I chose badly.

In this case, our leader chose badly. The rest of us walked around on the obvious ledge.

Water in the desert. Even this close to the big river, it feels magical.

A trickle reflects the gold of the canyon walls.

Even a little stream can create a miniature wetlands.

It felt like passing through the gates of heaven. I'd have loved to spend a whole day exploring way up the canyon, but we had a rapid to run.

It was a long eight miles from Mohawk Canyon to Lava Falls rapids, with the wind picking up to the point that the guides had to find their own ways to cope. Our leader, Lorna, with the wisdom of decades on the river, pulled out a couple of paddles and got her passengers to help. The paddle raft got a tow from a motor raft. And my guide asked us to tell him jokes and stories. I dug deep for silly songs and bad jokes, and at least we saw Vulcan's Anvil, the sign we were entering the volcanic portion of the canyon and nearing the rapids at last.

A sentinel marking another gate.

For anyone into omens, a small herd of bighorns with lambs at the Lava Falls scouting point was a good one.

We did stop to scout the rapids, our guides pointing out how this water matched the diagram Jed drew for us in the morning. It's hard to get perspective on it from up here, but we saw soon just how big that water was.

Proof of the big water: That motor raft is about six times the size of our rafts.

I decided to follow the guides' advice about dealing with places where you get wet: skin to wind. Honestly, if not for the sunburn issue, I'd have done it a lot more, as it was much less unpleasant to get clobbered by waves without wet clothing sticking to you.

Photo by Tom Dempsey,

Through the first half, with a moment to look back before "Son of Lava Falls" nailed us.

After Lava Falls comes Tequila Beach, and we managed to be early enough to snag the campsite.

We enjoyed our post-rapids party, but were mellow enough to enjoy the evening light, as well.

Huge mounds of evening primrose distinguished the camp

©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2021
 As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.

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