Day 339 – Vote Main Street, not Wall Street

It’s funny how just a couple of years in this really small industry we call off-roading can make you immune to celebrity.  I’ve never been one to fawn over a big star, but we see them so often now, it’s kind of blasé.

On the set of Overhaulin’ at SEMA

Most of the people we see are drivers or TV people, today we were on the set of Overhaulin’ with Chip Foose.  Our friend Jessi Combs is a co-host with him.  Jessi came bounding over from the set while we visited with the Slide ‘em guys, gave us hugs and we talked about all the cool things she has going on.  Jessi is as genuine as they come, she is a welder, fabricator and spokesperson.  We see her a lot at the various events that we attend.  If you are a Jessi fan, check out the following:; facebook/com/jessicombsofficial; or twitter@thejessicombs – that way you can follow her on Overhaulin’ , All Girls Garage or The List.

Other people we saw today were Juan Pablo Montoya, Guy Fieri, Bucky Lasek, Tanner Foust, the dude from Pawn Stars that does the car work with the bandanna, and, of course, Chip Foose.  Some of these folks have talent, others have great publicists. It’s tough to get too excited about these people, they put their pants on the same as us.  Personally I’m more impressed by the entrepreneurs that have built their companies from the ground up and are here trying to make a living, just like us.

People like Joe at DJ Safety, Susie at Lazerstar, Kolby at TurnKey.  These are people who have sweat blood to build their businesses.  People like our own, Charlene Bower, who works harder than almost everyone in the industry to get the word out about what we all do.  I see Charlene a lot, I support her brands and love to tell people how awesome she is.  Check out Race Team Store and Bower Media to see what she’s up to.

So, I guess my point is, look around you, look at your Main Street businesses, these are the people who are building America.  Every day the time and effort put in by everyone who is self-employed is twice as much as those working for a paycheck.  The ones who are self-employed are the ones who support your community centers, your little league teams, your schools.  These folks live down the street from you, they carpool the kids, they have dinner in your restaurants.  Main Street, not Wall Street will bring America out of its’ slump.  How do you support your Main Street?


Day 340 – Pinterest, anyone?

Do you ever have those days when you just want to sit in one place?  I had one of those tonight.  We got to Vegas tonight for the SEMA show, there will be more on that over the next couple of days, trust me.  Checked in to the Best Western Mardi Gras because it is within easy walking distance to the convention center, we picked up the necessities for the week:  large bottle of Ibuprofen, Diet Coke, water, Vodka, Little Debbie’s Oatmeal cookies – I can survive anything now.  Then dinner in another restaurant – can I just say I am sick of restaurant meals, I’ve taken to eaten turkey sandwiches, and I don’t really even like turkey sandwiches, but I’m sick of everything else.  Anyway, I’m ranting…I walked back to the room after dinner by myself, told the boys to continue watching the game and snuck away, all I really wanted to do was sit with my laptop and look up all those things I’ve been meaning to do over the last couple of weeks, but didn’t have the internet available.  So I…checked my Powerball tickets, downloaded a guide on how to make enamel jewelry, looked up commercial property in Moab, found the definition of Raku pottery (related to a book I’m reading) and then I did the unthinkable…I logged on to Pinterest.

If you’ve never been on Pinterest, you might not understand its addicting qualities, I looked first at what my friends are pinning, then I looked at the Everything category, when it wouldn’t load fast enough, I went to Popular.  It’s like having all the DIY, Craft, Entertainment, Hair and Clothing magazines all lined up in a flip book.  My pupils scanned the pages looking for something to catch my eye, I found a few quotes I love, a few recipes, a couple of things that I thought “that’s cool.”  The best part for me is that I live in 280 square feet, so “stuff” in the true sense of Pinterest doesn’t interest me.  But I’m always looking for an occasion to apply it.


On September 1, my oldest daughter got married, she’s not much of a crafter, so she let me do some of the decorations.  I created a board on Pinterest labeled “Kayla and Lindsey’s Wedding” and every time I saw something cute and do-able, I pinned to it.  Then they went in and approved what they liked.  By the time we were done, we had bookmarks for wedding favors, old ladders with wedding advice, old suitcases for cards and mason jars for drinking.  It was the most fun I ever had decorating for an event.  The ideas turned out great and the effort seemed to be appreciated.  I love my girls.  There are so many ideas on Pinterest, it can be overwhelming.  But tonight, when I just wanted to chill, it was exactly what I needed.  What have you made that you found on Pinterest?

Day 341 – Junior Rangers x2

Josh had so much fun yesterday I had to join him.  Zions National Park was today’s destination, the weather was beautiful all day.  Today was the last day of the shuttle running through the canyon so we hopped on the shuttle with our Junior Ranger books.  One for Josh and one for me.  The first stop after the Visitor’s Center was the Human History Museum, a good place for us to take stock of our JR requirements and watch the intro movie, there were no Ranger-led talks today.  Then we hopped the shuttle and drove through the majesty that is Zions.  It’s difficult to describe how high the ridges rise and tower above you in the narrow canyon carved by the Virgin River.  So many trails and stops available along the way.  The end of the shuttle is at Sinewava, where the canyon narrows, it is a great place to begin hiking and see the wonders that Zions offers.  I plan to do that on our next visit.

In addition to the cool canyon, there is a 1.1 mile long tunnel that was dug by the CCC back in the 30’s to allow travel to the other side of the Canyon.  The whole area is Navajo Sandstone, used to build many of the original buildings and rising hundreds of feet in the air.

As we neared the end of the day, we scrambled to complete our Junior Ranger badge requirements, our last stop was the Visitor’s Center that has been built eco-friendly.  We finished our last activity and went in to turn in our workbooks.  There had been sixteen different activities, our Ranger, Paul, reviewed our books and bestowed on us Zions Junior Ranger status, we were sworn in and given our patches.  As we were walking out, we realized that he had given us Desert Junior Ranger patches, not Zions ones, so we rushed back to the gift store and got the patches we earned.  Josh plans to put them on his fire suit someday.  I’m really proud of him, told him that when he gets 20 Junior Rangers, I’m going to get him a Super Junior Ranger badge.

For those of you that are thinking Junior Rangers is for kids, think again about how you visit a National Park.  It is far more interesting and educational when you have things to look for, challenges to meet.  It’s not just for kids, I’d recommend it for anyone.

In addition to the cool canyon, there is a 1.1 mile long tunnel that was dug by the CCC back in the 30’s to allow travel to the other side of the Canyon.  The whole area is Navajo Sandstone, used to build many of the original buildings and rising hundreds of feet in the air.

As we neared the end of the day, we scrambled to complete our Junior Ranger badge requirements, our last stop was the Visitor’s Center that has been built eco-friendly.  We finished our last activity and went in to turn in our workbooks.  There had been sixteen different activities, our Ranger, Paul, reviewed our books and bestowed on us Zions Junior Ranger status, we were sworn in and given our patches.  As we were walking out, we realized that he had given us Desert Junior Ranger patches, not Zions ones, so we rushed back to the gift store and got the patches we earned just as they closed up shop.  Josh plans to put them on his fire suit someday.  I’m really proud of him, told him that when he gets 20 Junior Rangers, I’m going to get him a Super Junior Ranger badge.

For those of you that are thinking Junior Rangers is for kids, think again about how you visit a National Park.  It is far more interesting and educational when you have things to look for, challenges to meet.  It’s not just for kids, I’d recommend it for anyone.  I’m counting this on my list of 50 new things to try.  I’m a Junior Ranger now.

Day 342 B – Junior Rangers to the rescue

Our afternoon found us at another National Park, this one was Bryce Canyon, a lesser know park than several around the area, but I think only because you have to travel a little farther to get there.  Bryce is beautiful.


Bryce Canyon

Last winter we visited Saguaro National Park, and on a whim, we asked for the Junior Ranger handbook for Josh to do while we went through the park.  He worked on it, we all learned a lot and messed around some.  When he turned in his book, the Ranger at the Park denied him his badge.  It was heartbreaking.  What had started out as just some fun, took a nasty turn.  It wasn’t just Josh that was denied his badge, a little 5 year old was also scolded, it just took the joy out of hanging at the park.  Since then we have visited several other parks, but it wasn’t until today that Josh wanted to try the Junior Ranger program again.

Now for those of you that don’t know him, Josh is awesome, he is 25, a big kid, he works for us in the rock crawling/racing business.  I love Josh, he has a big heart, he is strong and talented and can make anyone laugh.  Academics was never his thing, but he’s as smart as they come and can do anything.  A great photographer and an even better friend to all that know him well.  Our team doesn’t thrive without him.  Josh is not related to us by blood, but we tell people that I have three kids, Rich has two and together we have Josh.  Anyone would be proud to have his as a son, so we claim him when he is with us.

Back to Junior Rangers, Josh asked at the front desk for the Junior Ranger handbook, the Ranger there gave him specific instructions on what needed to be done to complete the program.  Attend a Ranger led talk, pick up 20 pieces of trash in the park and complete six of the activities in the book.

I helped him figure out which six activities in the book, this is the Academic part that he struggles with, but he was so intent on succeeding that he worked really hard on this part.  In fact, he was so focused on getting that part done and right that he forgot his camera when we were headed to meet up for the Ranger led talk.  At 5:22 p.m. all the requirements were finished, we headed back to the VisitorCenter to turn in his book.  Josh was really nervous, he was afraid he would be denied again.  I have never seen anyone so happy as when the Ranger asked him if he wanted to be sworn in as a Junior Ranger.  He was all about that, we even got him the hat!  Josh, we are proud of you, you worked hard and did your best and it paid off.  This is something no one can ever take away from you.

Proud moment!

Swearing in ceremony


The Junior Ranger program is an educational part of the National Parks system, it is designed to teach kids, no matter their age, how to care for and preserve natural resources.  It teaches about the local history and threats to the resources and presents a proud heritage to follow.  We learned today that you are never too old to be a Junior Ranger, I think I might try it next.


Day 342 A – Wedding bells

Today’s adventure finds us in Cedar City, Utah, not a spectacular location, but it holds some awesome things.  Our first stop was Three Peaks Recreation Area, it’s a county run OHV park, set up for off-highway use, bicycles, motorcycles, etc.  It’s awesome, not only does it have trails everywhere, but great picnic areas, bathrooms, rocks and views, and it’s clean too.  One of the better built government owned facilities.  Then we went downtown, parking was a hassle because it was the Heritage Festival parade, they run 2500 sheep right down through the middle of town for this one, it not only celebrates the heritage of the area, but also gives the ranchers an opportunity to move their sheep from the high country.  Lots of folks turned out for the parade, we parked in the back and snuck in one of my favorite stores.

Gem Jewelers is a locally owned jewelry store.  Kevin and Tyrell Taysom do incredible work here.  They are both professional jewelers and build most of the jewelry they sell.  Gorgeous stuff, from elk jewelry to wedding sets.  Kevin tells me they survive mostly on repairs (these come in from a multi-state area) and custom jewelry.  Because there are so many chain stores now, not many shops will customize jewelry as they do.  We were shopping for a wedding ring.  When we were here in May, I bought Big’s wedding band, I’ve been carrying it around with me since.  When we first got engaged, over two years ago, we bought an engagement ring off ebay for me.  It was a great deal, no it was a screaming deal, and I had to have it, because I couldn’t see being engaged without a ring.  Just me being me, I guess.  He had asked me once what needed to happen before we got married, I told him, I want my ring upgraded.

All he got was the hat 🙂

We looked closely at the diamonds and the settings, the ones I liked were custom built right on site.  The lighting is so beautiful in there the bling was blinding me.  I had to go outside and look at the rings in the shadows.  We ended up buying a beautiful custom ring from Kevin.  I am a lucky girl, and if ever you are wondering about the jewelry business, and how to shop for diamonds, bypass the mall, make a little road trip to Cedar City and talk to these guys.  They will show you their albums with photos of all the work they’ve done.  Trust is the number one thing you need when talking jewelry and I trust these guys implicitly.  Thanks Kevin, together with Big, you made a happy girl.  These guys have now taken away my all my excuses…what to do now?

Day 344 – Maybe I should be a writer

For the past six years, I have had JD do my hair, before that was Kathy for over 20 years, I can’t even remember before that.  Today I went out on a limb and had my hair done somewhere other than in my home town.  I knew I wasn’t getting back there anytime soon and it so needed done.  Last time that happened, I panicked and bought a box dye.  This time, I went to my friend Cottin and asked for a recommendation, so Cottin hooked me up with Kristin.  Great job, Kristin, thanks for taking care of me.  Now for me, the most interesting part about going to the salon isn’t the haircut or color, not the results, not even the process, it’s the people.  Invariably, someone is in there with a story to tell and today was no different.

Tatum was working the chair next to Kristin and her client about half way through my appointment had quite a story to tell.  I think sometimes that these stories are only fiction, and then you get to hear them first hand, it’s quite an eye opener.  Turns out this lady’s husband has left her, I’m going to call her M for lack of a better name.  M has been married eighteen years…oh, maybe I should tell it like I’m writing a romance novel…


“What are you doing?” Kyle asked, he had been laying on his side, asleep in their vacation bed at the Marriot in Maui when he felt M slide over his shoulder, what is she doing now?! He thought to himself.

“Nothing,” Kyle rolled over to look at M

“What is that?” he sat up on his elbow and looked closer, “Why do you have my phone?” Kyle snatched it out of her hand, but not before she had opened his email account.  Three messages had come in just recently, all from Nicole.  Kyle thought he had turned off the volume, so any messages would not notify, he must have been asleep, but M heard them as they came in.

M went on the defensive,  “Why won’t you let me look at your phone? Who’s Nicole?  Why is she asking you how it’s going?  This is our vacation, why are you talking to another woman?”

Kyle stared at her, this isn’t the first time in the last eighteen years that he thought, what am I doing here?

M started to cry, she didn’t want her marriage to end like this, didn’t he notice how hard she worked to look good for him.  “ I thought you were going to go to counseling with me?”  “I thought you were done with Nicole, isn’t she that 23 year old skank?”  M’s voiced hardened, “How dare you cheat on me?  She’s young enough to be your daughter!”

Kyle got out of bed, this wasn’t going to end well, it had nothing to do with Nicole, she was his friend, a co-worker, he looked at his phone to read the email messages, see if there was anything damning in them.  He couldn’t imagine what it would be, he wasn’t seeing Nicole romantically, he was married, and he knew it.  Kyle read the messages, the first was blank, she must have hit the button before she had typed anything, the second was just “How i” and than it stopped.  I bet she’s typing on her phone, he thought.  The third said, “How’s it going for you?  Is everything alright, hope you are having a good time in Hawaii.”  That was it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just a message from a friend.

He looked at M calmly, she was seeing red.  “M, why are you so worked up, nothing is going on here, look at the message.”  Kyle handed her the phone again, she read it but had the same reaction.  M started to cry again, screaming about their marriage being over, he needed to move out, she was going home.  Kyle took a deep breath, okay M what ever you want.  He had been trying for years to recover from her harsh recriminations, maybe it was time he moved out.  Of course, he knew it would be all his fault, such is the price you pay when you are with a woman who is bat shit crazy.


Ok, so maybe that’s just my interpretation of all that she said in the salon, Kyle did move out and according to her, he moved in with his 23 year old girlfriend, but as I listened to her talk, I thought “HOLY COW,” that woman has issues.  Kristin and I exchanged a glance in the mirror after she left, Wow, was all we could think!  It’s amazing the stories people will tell in public…

Day 345 – Woke up in the wrong bed this morning.

Ever had one of those mornings?  Things just aren’t quite right?  Today was one of those, we had an awesome drive yesterday from Cortez to Rangley, really enjoyed it, this morning we woke up in Rangley, me right next to Rich where I belonged, in case you were wondering, We got breakfast, all set for a meeting with some guys who want to build an offroad course.  Only problem is…we were in the wrong city!  Yep, we were supposed to be in Craig, Colorado, not Rangely.  No where in all of our conversations with those guys did we figure that out.  Ninety miles later, we were in Craig.

Travel days

It is fun to visit with guys who share our passion for Rockcrawling, to listen to what they want to build and why.  There are all sorts of courses all over the US that have been built or designed by the WE Rock crew, it’s going to be fun to take from the best of those to build this course.  You can stop in Tucson, AZ; Oroville, CA; Tooele, UT, Ocotilla Wells, CA  to find some of our handiwork.  This past year we went back to natural courses for all of the WE Rock events for 2012 and 2013, but it will be good to work with this crew to get another man-made facility operational for the 2014 season.

This was just another day in the life of my 50th year, not stellar in the overall scheme of things, but some times it’s just how you get from day to day.  Check out the map of our drive this week, we covered some beautiful territory.  And don’t forget to follow this blog, either by logging in to WordPress with the Follow button on top or Follow by email on the left hand side.  Thanks.


Day 346 – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Road trippin’ today – the route was all in Colorado, Cortez to Durango to Silverton to Ouray to Montrose, to Grand Junction to Rangley.  There were mountain passes between all of them, or at least it seemed like it.  The passes went up to 11,000 feet, up and down and up and down.  The views were incredible throughout.

A couple of the towns are just little touristy places that have already closed up for the season, former mining towns back in the 1880’s when gold and silver were booming.  We stopped in Silverton to check out a couple of the little artisan shops that were still open.  The Enamel Shop was our first stop, I couldn’t figure out from the name what it was, so we went in.  Turns out it was jewelry, the guy in there was the artist, so I asked him to explain what he did.  All of the enameled jewelry is done on copper, then the design is laid on in powders that are then fired in a kiln.  If he wants lines, like a tree, he just takes the powder off so the copper shows through.  It was very cool.

My next stop was the Weathertop Wovens, a cute little shop that is run by a woman who seems to have a fear of the world.  No pictures allowed in the shop if they are going to end up on the internet.  I’m not sure why she feels that way, I can’t imagine what she thinks her competition is, but we respected her wishes.  She has two looms set up and a warping station.  They are incredibly done, hand made by her husband to meet their own specifications.  She had bolts of cotton fabric that she was weaving.  One was a scarf loom, that needs no edges finished, the second was a loom that wove bolts of fabric, then throughout the store were finished clothing that had been made with those fabrics.  Fantastic.  It was great to talk to her and hear her story.

I really enjoy artisans and craftsman and the work that is done is small towns and large cities all over the country.  The passion put in to their work is obvious in the time and dedication shown in their craft.

Day 347 – Top 10 Things to do in Cortez

Cortez, Colorado is a sleepy little town.  We’ve been looking for the top 10 things to do here this week.  Here is my list:

#10  Eat at Pepperheads 

#9  Vanilla Latte’ from the Silver Bean

#8  Visit the Elks Lodge

#7  Drink a Raspberry Wheat Beer at the Main Street Brewery

#6  Shop for books at the used book store

#5  Stop by the Cortez Cultural Center (visit the quilt exhibit)

#4  Visit Jimmy’s 4×4 Offroad Shop

#3 Drive down McElmo Canyon

#2 Visit with friends

#1 Visit MesaVerde National Park

I checked the list on Trip Advisor, they only came up with 9 things to do, it’s time they stepped up their game.  Mesa Verde National Park is my favorite.  I love all National Parks, but Mesa Verde is something special, the sense of history is incredible because the age of the peoples that lived here was so long ago.  Over 800 years ago, these cliff dwellings were inhabited, most of what you can see in the US is not over 200 years old, so to go to a place that is centuries older than that is incredible.

I’ve spent a lot of time in National Parks, just in the past year we’ve been to the Petrified Forest, Glacier, Yellowstone, Roosevelt, Arches, Canyons and the Grand Canyon.  But that’s nothing.

In 2007, Haley and I took a 30 day road trip.  In 30 days, we hit two countries, 37 states, 17 National Parks and 9000 miles.  We started with a visit to my other daughter, Kayla in West Yellowstone, never have we laughed so much.  We continued on to Devil’s Tower, Wind Cave, The Badlands, Mt.Rushmore and then on to the Oklahoma bombing memorial.  Most of the others we saw were in Washington D.C., but all were memorable.  The road trip is one of those once in a lifetime experiences that you can’t ever hope to replicate.  I spend a lot of time on the road, but to be with your 14 year old for 30 days, from place to place and see the US from her perspective was a memory I will always treasure.

The last morning on the road we were leaving our hotel on the western edge of North Dakota, it was early and I wasn’t excited to be on the road again.

Haley was bright eyed and talking (this was typical); as we passed the fields of alfalfa, Haley grabbed my arm, “mom, mom, you have to stop, they have filing cabinets in their field!”

I looked at her skeptically and looked out in the field, I didn’t see anything.

A few minutes later, she said, “look, look, see…filing cabinets.”

I looked to where she was pointing, “Haley, do you mean the bee boxes?”

The look on her face was priceless, “oh, yeah, I guess that’s what it is.”

We laughed and laughed, she has a precious outlook on life, if Haley can see filing cabinets, I can see them too.

Day 348 – Don’t Mess With Texas

It’s seems everything’s bigger in Texas, we just spent a couple of weeks in Texas off and on and have found the bugs to be humongous, even ginormous.  Every time we turned around there was something bigger than before.  I posted this furry caterpillar on Facebook and one of my friends, at quick glance, thought it was a yorkie.  Now, while they aren’t quite that big, the dire warnings we heard about touching these little beauties, we paid attention to.  The Apatelodes torrefacta can cause burning and itching to the skin, thank you to my Texas friend, John for naming the scary bug for me.

Texas bugs


I spent a lot of my formative years in Texas, when we moved back to San Antonio when I was in the fourth grade, we moved in to a brand new house in a brand new subdivision on Connie Mack Drive.  We had just come from the jungles of Okinawa, so I thought I’d seen a lot of wildlife already, but nothing really prepared me for Texas.  The first week we were there, I found a scorpion in my closet, horses in the backyard, a snake in the air conditioner…but the coup d’etat was the bull on the front porch.  School had just let out and I was on the school bus, as we pulled up in front of the house, my bus driver refused to let me off the bus.  We sat there for a few minutes staring at the bull, then she took off down the subdivision and dropped off the rest of the kids.  We returned and she dropped me at a neighbor’s house and told me to go straight in, she would wait until I was inside.  After I got inside, the phone rang, turns out my mom had been watching out the window, she was stuck on the inside of the house.  It turned out to be a bit of a wild afternoon, eventually the local caballero came and loaded up the bull and I was able to go home.  I’m pretty sure, I sat at the table and cried that afternoon that I wanted to go home.  The trouble with going home then is the same as I have now, that was it, home is where you are parked.