N is for Night

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I’m a night owl.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve seen my fair share of sunrises, and there are days I like mornings, but for the most part, I feel my most creative and alive at night.

For me, there’s nothing like sitting alone at night with my laptop or a notebook, and writing.  I love the quiet stillness of night.  Sometimes I imagine that I’m the only person who’s awake, which isn’t a bad thing when I’m staying awake on purpose.  (Though I hate it when I wake up at 3 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep.)

I love writing horror, and something about night makes everything scarier, makes it easier to imagine the bogeyman.  One of my favorite villains as a kid was Freddy Krueger, the original master of the night.  The night becomes like a living thing.

At night, no one I know is on Facebook and Twitter, so even the internet “quiets” down.  I can unplug, without actually unplugging.

That’s one of the reasons I love camping.  When we camp, night is allowed to fall naturally.  We light a campfire, not to keep the darkness away, but because that’s what people do in the dark.  While we might chatter on under electric lights, enveloped by the night, the pace seems slower, more contemplative.

I love watching the stars and the moon, and seeing a shooting star is always a wonderful bonus.

Do you prefer night or day?

My 10 Best Posts of 2014

Well, it’s that time of year again.  The end of the year approaches, and with it, time to wrap up the old and welcome the new.  Here are my 10 favorite posts from 2014.  (Okay, if you actually count them, there are 13.  It’s my lucky number.  So sue me.)

Sedona, AZ Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Sedona, AZ
Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Never Enough– Why we’re all great the way we are.

Top 10 Reasons to Go Camping– I think this one is kind of self-explanatory.

10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before I Moved to Arizona– Also self-explanatory.

V is for Villains– All about what makes a villain great.

Words Matter-  Why it’s important to be mindful of what you say.

Old Things and Abandoned Places– They whisper to you… can you hear them?

I’m Having A Good Time, And Have The Pictures To Prove It!- Why taking pictures of everything we do might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

I Bet 99% Of You Won’t Repost This– My thoughts on Facebook’s version of the guilt trip/ chain letter.

10 Lessons on Friendship From Dogs– What my dogs have taught me.

Trust Issues- Many people seem to have trust issues, so how do you get past it?

It’s A Loud World– My thoughts after getting my first set of hearing aids.

Wait.  Why Am I Supposed to Care About That Again?– My thoughts on what really matters in life and friendships.

Master Yoda, Is the Dark Side Stronger?– Bullying, Star Wars, and the secret weapon of the light side.

Thanks for stopping by.  Here’s to an excellent 2015!

Top 10 Reasons To Go Camping

1. FIRE!  As in campfire.  Really, do I even need other reasons?  I love fire, watching fire, and sitting by the fire.  I find it hypnotic and can understand why moths go to their deaths.  Plus, I have a good reason to start a much bigger fire than I’m allowed to start at home.



2.  Junk food.  Marshmallows are part of a balanced breakfast, especially when you have to get creative because you forgot sugar for your coffee.  Not that I’ve ever done that or anything.  I also burned our meal so I had to eat s’mores for dinner.  Bummer.

3.  The night sky.  I love the night sky, but when I’m home, I’m too busy being distracted by my laptop, TV, and phone.  I don’t go outside and look at the stars and think philosophical thoughts, even though I enjoy it.  When you’re camping, that’s the entertainment, folks.  Well, that, the fire, and the animal soundtrack.  (crickets, anyone?)

4.  Sunrise and sunset.  When else are you going to get up early enough to see sunrise or slow down enough to see sunset?  Probably not often, at least not on purpose.  And they’re amazing, especially here in Arizona.

Sunrise, Dead Horse Ranch State Park; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Sunrise, Dead Horse Ranch State Park; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

5.  Togetherness.  Most people don’t go camping alone.  Putting up the tent, lighting the campfire, cooking… you have to work together to do all these things, and it’s a lot of fun.  At first you think there might be a homicide, but as you go on, you realize that working together is actually pretty fun.  Not to mention all crowding together and sleeping in the same tent.

6.  Breakfast.  Eggs cooked in a cast iron skillet over an open fire are the bomb.  I love eggs, and those were the Best.  Eggs.  Ever.

7.  It’s peaceful.  This is sort of implied in the other stuff I said, but it really is peaceful and relaxing.  I’m a high anxiety sort of person, always doing something and solving someone’s drama.  Camping is a great way to slow down and just take it all in.

8.  It’s a cheap way to get away from home.  Vacations can be expensive, but camping is relatively cheap.  I rented my campsite for $20, but bought food to eat.  I would have had to buy food anyway, right?

Yay, camping!

Yay, camping!

9.  Few distractions.  We weren’t so out in the middle of nowhere that our phones didn’t work, but we shut them off.  No TV or laptops or Facebook or I Can Haz Cheezburger.  Just us and nature.  (And the other campers, but we pretended they weren’t there.)

10.  Dressing down.  I got to appear in some of my oldest clothes in public, didn’t have to shower, and fit in perfectly with the social norm.  Every once in a while, it’s nice to get dirty and just not care.

Oh, the Irony!

Dead Horse Ranch State Park; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

Dead Horse Ranch State Park; Photo Credit: Doree Weller

I went tent camping for my very first time this weekend.  My husband and I drove up to Cottonwood for the weekend.  Except for one trip with Girl Scouts, when we went cabin camping, I’ve never officially been camping.  I used to camp out in a van with my grandparents when they were staying over to sell at a flea market… but this definitely wasn’t the same thing.

We bought a tent a few years ago because we wanted to go camping, except that we never went.  So when I mentioned again that I wanted to go camping, and my husband finally agreed, I took Saturday off and we jumped in.  I knew it was going to be about 45 at night, but that’s not a big deal, right?

We got up to Cottonwood, and the weather was still warm.  My dog and I went for a short hike while the husband got the fire going and his camera set up.  When we got back, we were starving, so I threw the foil packs on the fire that I’d so lovingly prepared.  Green beans, corn, mushrooms, and sweet potatoes with a pat of butter.  Some time later, I took the blacked foil off the fire, opened it up, and noticed that an awful lot of my veggies were burned.  But that’s okay, right?

Yeah, no.  Incidentally, I learned that my dog likes blackened green beans.  My husband laughed and said the bits that weren’t black tasted great, and that next time, we just wouldn’t leave it on the fire so long.  We had a lovely dinner of s’mores and grilled pineapple.  Cooking things in the fire was more fun anyway.

As dark encroached, the temperature started dropping a little bit.  The husband set up his camera to do star trails.  We ate and drank and looked at the stars.  Because the meteor shower this weekend was supposed to peak around 4 a.m., we set the alarm to get up at that time.  Then we crawled in the tent.  And didn’t sleep.

It.  Was.  Cold.  Really cold.  We had sleeping bags rated to 40 degrees and a big down comforter.  My dog, a short haired German Shepherd mix, shivered in the corner of the tent.  I’d brought her dog pillow, but she had no idea why I kept throwing a flannel sheet over her, so she kept moving out from underneath it.

When you’re not sleeping, shivering in your tent, you tend to lose track of time.  At one point, I saw the irony in my situation.  You see, I’m reading a great book called Wild by Cheryl Strayed.  She set out to hike a large portion of the Pacific Crest Trail with very little preparation or knowledge about what she was doing.  Early on in the book, she talks about how when she packed her hiking bag for the first time, the day she was set to leave, she couldn’t even lift the bag.  I thought, “Who does something like that without properly preparing for it?”

So you can see why I may have had a chuckle about irony in the middle of the night as I froze my you-know-what off.  At one point, my husband started chuckling.  “You know, we pay a mortgage so we can have a house and live inside.  And here we are.”

I slept a little.  I’m not sure how much, but when the alarm went off at 4, we went out.  It was still frigid, but the sky was incredible and clear.  I thought we had a good view of the sky where I live, but I saw so many more stars out in Dead Horse Ranch state Park.  I understand now how the ancients named the constellations.  With the full view of the sky, I saw more of Orion than just his belt, and the Big Dipper practically jumped out at me.  We watched the sky and saw a few meteors, though it was too cloudy in the direction we were supposed to watch to see more than a few.  Plus, it was cold.  Did I mention that?  We crawled back into our tent to sleep a few more hours.

I decided to just get up at 7 a.m. and build a campfire.  My breakfast of canned potatoes and eggs tasted wonderful.  Of course, it took about an hour for my coffee to percolate.  I don’t think it’s supposed to take that long, but it just.  wouldn’t.  boil.  We forgot sugar, so we improvised.  Marshmallows are an acceptable coffee sweetener.  The coffee tasted great, so I guess that’s all that matters.

Believe it or not, we’re excited to go camping again, and yes, we’re planning to go again this winter.  It’s just, before we go… we’re buying long underwear.