S is for Scary Stories

Just when I got caught up with the A-Z Challenge, I got behind again. We went camping for two days and just returned this afternoon, so I’m back to trying to catch up. Anyhow, here we go…

S is for Scary Stories

As mentioned above, we have been camping for the past two days. One of our favorite things to do is tell scary stories around the campfire at night. My two sons and their friend, Maggie, insist I tell them a spooky story every time we go. On our last camping trip I came up with a pretty good one! I know it has to be good because it was very effective in scaring the kids, but not so much they will be traumatized forever. They also request to hear it again and again, so they must really like it.

Here’s a little bit of background for you– we love camping in the mountains not too far from where we live. Palomar Mountain State Park is located in north San Diego County. It’s where my family used to camp when I was very young. It’s now where I bring MY family to camp. I love the place! Palomar Mountain is widely known for its observatory, but the camp grounds and hiking trails are also excellent.

The campground we go to is located near Doane’s Pond, a very small pond that is mostly used for fishing. The story I made up for the kids is called “Catherine, the Ghost of Doane’s Pond”. The gist of the story is that a man named Obadiah was trapped when the gold mine he was excavating on the mountain caved in. His young bride-to-be (Catherine) was so heart-broken, she drowned herself in the pond. Her ghost still wanders the pond and surrounding area today, calling out to her true love, Obadiah. On some nights, you can even hear the trapped miners trying to pick their way out of the hillside as the sound echos through the valley.

The first night I told the story, my younger son insisted we walk the short distance to the pond to see if we could see Catherine. We did, but we didn’t get very far because we heard a loud “snap” off in the trees ahead of us.  He was sure it was the ghost and I was sure it was a mountain lion, so we turned around and ran back to our campsite as quickly as we could go. After we explained why we were out of breath, my older son decided he needed to check it out. So, down we went again– my two sons and me. We didn’t even make it as far as the first time before one of our flashlights started to flicker and turned itself off. At the same time, my younger son swore he saw a white, glowing figure over the pond.

It was hilarious to see two boys (ages 8 & 11 at the time) squealing and running in fear. They were loving it, though! They were positive the flashlight acted up because of Catherine’s electromagnetic field.  It became a legend in their minds and their recounting of our experience got scarier and scarier each time they told it.

This last trip, my boys’ good friend wanted to visit the pond area at night so she could try to see Catherine. She even brought her GoPro to document it. The boys were scared, Maggie was scared, and I was hoping they would get freaked out (yep, I’m that kind of mom). About halfway to the pond area, Maggie’s flashlight started to flicker. The creepy shadows cast by our lantern seemed to grow longer and become more active. Even my phone, which I was using to “document” the kids’ reactions, started to act strange.  The screen saver page wouldn’t flip up to allow access to the camera. It actually got stuck in a strange, broken up pattern I’ve never seen before. Weird coincidence!  I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried! Even my younger son’s camera supposedly stopped working. Then, Maggie (12) and the boys (now 9 & 12) all said they saw something over the pond. This ended in another frantic, squeal-filled run back to our campsite.  And they loved it!

That same night, as the kids were trying to settle down in the tent, a pounding sound filled the campground.  It was probably someone chopping wood or pounding in a tent stake, but in their minds, it was Obadiah and his fellow miners trying to pick their way out of the hillside.

I will never tell them I made the story up. I’m sure they will figure it out when they get older. For now, I’ll let them enjoy those moments of being just a little afraid. They are bonding experiences and make for great memories.

 

 

Q is for Quatorzain

Q is for Quatorzain
A quatorzain is poetry of 14 lines.

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Beyond Oak Creek

Beside Juniper-lined trails
Away from the suffocating crowd
At each bend nature prevails
Under the cover of towers proud

Between arms of Emory Oak
Through the shade of Ponderosa Pine
Along the way red rock spoke
Of sentries posted in their design

Toward mesas rising high
Beneath guarded towering faces
With permission, I pass by
And into sunlit sandstone places

Thankful to be given the chance,
I sit and watch the shadows dance.

 

 

M is for Montana

M

 

M is for Montana

Anyone who knows me at all, knows I love the state of Montana.

When you live in San Diego, people look at you like you’re crazy when you tell them you want to get out. They think you’re even crazier if you say you want to live somewhere where they have actual weather. And being OK with the idea of not having the beach within a 30 minute drive is absolutely absurd.

Truth is, I would love to live in Montana.  Or Wyoming… or Washington… or Idaho. But this is the day to write about something M-related, so Montana it is. Besides that, Montana would be my first choice of places to move to.

Why Montana? Because Montana is BEAUTIFUL! I love the ocean and the beach (when it’s not crowded, which isn’t often), but I could survive if I never went to the beach again in my life. The mountains and trees– well, if you took those away from me, I would probably wither up and die.

I also like people, but would rather not be crowded out by them where ever I go.  I need fresh air.  I need space.

Two summers ago, we took our boys up north to see friends and family in Alberta, Canada (another beautiful place). We made a point to go through Montana. Actually, I did. I planned the trip and wanted to make sure we ended up in Montana since I remember loving it as a kid. I fell in love with it all over again.

I have Western Montana in my sights and I would move there in a heartbeat, if the opportunity presented itself.

L is for Lake

L

When I was ten, my family took a road trip to Canada. On our way home, we stopped in Spokane, Washington, to see my grandmother and my dad’s siblings. My Uncle Norm and my grandma took us to Brown’s Lake in the Colville National Forest. I fell in love with the trees, the mountains, and the wildness of it. Most amazing to me was that we could actually swim in this lake!

That may not seem so special to a lot of people, but in Southern California, where I was born and raised, people don’t normally swim in lakes. Lakes are for fishing. Pools and beaches are for swimming. I used to love swimming and still do, so I was very excited about swimming in an actual lake!

When we got there, though, I got a little creeped out by the idea. There were slimy-looking rocks where sand should have been, there were strange little plants growing from the floor of the lake instead of floating gobs of seaweed, and there were no crashing, rolling waves. Mostly, I didn’t like the idea of putting my feet on the slimy rocks. They didn’t make water shoes back then.

Fortunately for me, the pull of the water was too strong and before long, I got over my fear of the dark, unknown lake water. I liked swimming in the lake. No salt to burn my eyes and no chlorine to turn my blonde hair green.

The year following my introduction to lake swimming, my brother and I spent the summer in Spokane. We went camping at Brown’s Lake quite a few times. Almost every time we went we were the only campers there. It was awesome!

Anyway, inspired by the letter “L” and my great memories of my favorite lake, I wrote this poem.

Brown’s Lake

Standing, staring from the shore
in a place I’ve never been before,
wondering how it would be
to let myself go, to be so free
to step in off solid ground
and break the shackles that keep me bound.

Seemingly clear at first glance
like diamonds sparkling as they dance.
Tips of waves play with the breeze
rising, falling, and chasing they tease.
Dragonflies join in the fun–
iridescent needles in the sun.

Here am I, unsure and small,
Longing to be a part of it all.
She’s the brave one,” so they say.
Being alone will make you that way.
Fearful of what lies below
I break the surface and in I go.

Don’t fear I hear deep inside
There’s no current here, there is no tide.
Looking down, I see my feet
Where shallow water and rocks do meet.
Some stones shift and some hold fast
So much like people– present and past.

Step by step, I see them fade
I turn back, see the progress I’ve made.
Giving in to its embrace
and gentle caresses on my face.
In this way the lake holds me
Here in its grip is where I am free.

 

K is for “The Kiss”

 

It is probably one of the most iconic photos in U.S. history– the photo of the sailor kissing the “nurse” after the surrender of the Japanese on August 14, 1945. I have always been in love with that photograph. You can read an account of the kisser and the kissee in the photo on the NY Post Blog Site. It is an interesting story, but is not what this post is about.

This post, in a round-about way, leads me to my beautiful home town of San Diego, CA. The actual kiss took place in Times Square, so what does that have to do with San Diego? If you ever visit the place often referred to as “America’s Finest City”, you may find yourself at the port of San Diego, looking up at a twenty-five foot statue portraying the kissing couple.

San Diego has an extensive Naval history, of which I am very proud. The sculpture is located near another amazing tourist attraction, the USS Midway. The USS Midway Museum is a must-see for all who visit the area.

I love San Diego and am proud of its military presence. Sure, we have an awesome zoo, beautiful weather, lovely beaches, Sea World, Balboa Park, Coronado Island, Legoland, lots of great independent breweries, and so much more! If you do make it out here, make sure you see it all– including the city’s more military-focused attractions.  You won’t regret it!

E is for Exploration

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Day Five of the Blogging from A to Z April Challenge

E is for Exploration

take my hand, come with me
we will go where the land
surrenders to the sea.
there we’ll find treasures lost–
iridescent trinkets
worn with time, turned and tossed

hold my hand, and we’ll go
where the sky reaches down
to the pines as they grow.
we’ll find a quiet place,
watch meadow flowers dance
in all their breeze-blown grace

take me to rocks of red–
layers of earth whisper
stories of those long dead.
we will seek, we will find
ancient paths made of stone
and journey where they wind

take my hand, hold on tight
we can be together
as the day turns to night.
the stars will understand
what i see in your eyes
if you just take my hand.

© Sara Jones 2014

Embracing my Inner Recluse

Normally I am a social person.  I love to be around people.  I thrive on social interaction.  Except when I am participating in an endurance sporting event.  When I was able to run, it was a matter of survival– it was either breathe or talk.  In most cases, I chose to breathe.  I also enjoyed being in my own mind when I was running.  I found it refreshing and relaxing to be by myself.  It was my “me” time.

I am discovering that I am the same when it comes to biking.  Even though my husband and I now have an activity we both enjoy doing, I prefer to ride by myself.  I like that he is with me- or more accurately ahead of me- but I like to keep a large circle of personal space around me and my bike.

This weekend’s Tour de Palm Springs only confirmed my need for isolation when riding.   I enjoyed most of my fifty-five mile ride by myself.  My husband would go ahead of me and wait for me at certain points to make sure I was doing alright (yes, he’s nice that way).  Then I would send him on ahead because I didn’t want to slow him down, but also because I wanted to be on my own.

What do I think about when I ride?  Well, for some reason Taylor Swift’s song, Love Story, plays over and over in my head when I ride.  This is true for every ride… no matter where or how far.  I do like the song but I cannot figure out why this particular song plays in my head.  It has nothing to do with bike riding, traffic, flat tires, or road kill.  Yet, it’s there.  Over and over again.  “It’s a love story, baby just say yes”.

When I was a runner, I could listen to my iPod so I always had a variety of music.  I saw a few people with iPods during the ride but I prefer to make it home in one piece, so I’ll stick to my head version of Love Story.  There are lots of songs I would risk my life to get out of my head, but any Taylor Swift song is fine with me!

Besides listening to phantom music, I found myself giving people nicknames.  I used to do this during running races, too.  It’s amazing how many of the same people you see over the few hours it takes to complete an endurance event.  When I was running, I would come up with names like “Lobster Head” (for the guy in the lobster hat), “Faster-than-me-Grandma” (no explanation needed), “Heavy Breather”, “Barefoot Dude”, “Litter Bug”, and so on.

Some of the running nicknames also work for riding… such as “Faster-than-me-Grandma” and “Heavy Breather”.  Some unique nicknames I came up with during my first bike event were, “Hairy Chest Dude” (for the guy who seemed extremely proud to bare his extremely hairy chest for the entire ride), “Pointer” (for the lady in front of me who felt it her duty to point out every piece of debris, road kill, and poorly paved road along the way), “Love Birds” (for the couples who insisted in riding next to each other, thus making it difficult for others to pass), “Clickers” (for those riders who brave the clip-on bike shoes), “Squidward” (for the guy in the recumbent bike who looked like his namesake), and the “I’m-on-your-left-which-means-I’m-expecting-you-to-ride-your-bike-off-the-road-or-I-will-knock-you-downers”.

I could go on… I came up with lots of nicknames for lots of different people.  My husband thinks it’s mean but I honestly do not mean any malice in my names.  Well, except maybe for the “I’m-on-your-left-which-means-I’m-expecting-you-to-ride-your-bike-off-the-road-or-I-will-knock-you-downers”.  For most people, I come up with nicknames solely to entertain myself.  After a few hours in my own mind, I find myself pretty amusing.

During the ride, I even thought about what nicknames people may be giving me.  I came up with “Shifty” (I shift gears a lot, trying to find that happy place), “Neon-pink-shoes Chick”, “Slow-poke”, “Runny Nosed Rider”, and “That-crazy-lady-who-seems-to-find-herself-amusing Lady”.  Any of these nicknames would fit me just fine.  I take no offense.

I never completely understood why I liked to run alone alone.  I don’t understand why I like to ride alone.  I both envy and am baffled by people who enjoy sharing either sport with someone by their side.  As long as people can respect my need to ride alone, however, I will respect those who need to ride with someone else.  Just stay out of my way when I come up on your left, Love Birds!


Here’s a visual for those of you who do not watch Sponge Bob Square Pants