Total Eclipse of the Heart

This is the story of a woman who had no interest in science.

She has a sciencey husband. He was all:

“Hey! The eclipse! Once in a lifetime! Let’s drive to Nebraska!”

She was all:

“I don’t want to. Because: packing, leaving, planning, lists, snacks, endless endless snacks. Just the snacks. Oh Lord, all the SNACKS.”

We drove to Nebraska. Husband accidentally booked us a hotel room in a smoking room. YES THEY STILL SMOKE IN HOTEL ROOMS IN NEBRASKA. You should be ashamed of yourself, Nebraska. I opened all the windows (possibly broke one, I don’t care Nebraska) and there was A LOT OF COMPLAINING.

Then: Ate chicken cacciatore that was… really good. Less complaining. Too busy eating bread slathered in garlic oil and herbs.

Then: Drove to a place called The Crane Nature Center. Who knew? Cranes! In Nebraska! The complaining has now cycled down to about one or two per hour. Sunshine. Hiking paths. Pretty nature stuff. IMG_6942.jpgIMG_6943.jpg


If you look closely: SNACKS. Of course.

Then: made friends with the all the people. All of them. Everyone was all, “This is so cool! It’s nature! And barbecue! And we’re all in this together! Look at us being all together in this sciencey, once-in-a-lifetime moment!”

Complaining: 1/2 per hour



And yes, my pictures don’t do it justice. BECAUSE IT WAS AMAZING. TOTALLY.

I was wrecked. We all applauded and I cried and people hugged and the whole thing just made me realize two things:

  1. Once in a lifetime things are so cool. I wish they happened more often. But, that would change the verbage.
  2. Nebraska is awesome.

Husband and I held hands and I wiped tears. Then, Blonde came up to me and said, “Thank you. Thank you so much for bringing us.” Then Red said, “THIS IS AMAZABALLS.”

And then, a bit later, Blonde came over to me and flopped down in a chair. I said, “You ok?”

He responded, “I’m recovering.”

And Red asked, “Where are the snacks?”

Of course.

Complaining: ZERO

And THEN: We all packed up and walked past the river and the pretty butterfly field and all the people were smiling and saying hi and it was like a Happy Village of Everyone Getting Along Despite 2017, and I was kinda blissing out.

And then we ate at Tommy’s Diner in Grand Island, NE and I had the BEST BUTTERSCOTCH MALT EVER IN THE HISTORY OF EVER.

IMG_0001 2


It was, quite simply, a once in a lifetime experience.



Also, there is the hot fudge sundae experience.

I call this photo essay “THIS IS THE SNACK OF DREAMS”



You might say I had a change of heart. A “total eclipse” if you will.

And then: on the drive home, we listened to The Last Battle and I kissed hubs on the cheeck. “Thank you,” I said. “And I’m sorry I complained so much.”

And hubs said, “You complained? Nah. I don’t remember that.”

The world is a wonderful place.


The end.


Summer Vacation Plans and Rock the Park!

When I was a kid – in the middle of July, my dad would pack us all into the station wagon and drive through the night to Colorado. Air conditioning was strictly prohibited because it was hard on the engine (which I think is an urban legend he just made up because he is part lizard), thus we would roll down the windows and proceed to blast ourselves with hot air until we got to the mountains. We stuck to the seats. We listened to the Royals on a low roar the whole time, to keep dad awake.

It’s possible we had to pee in a coffee can because stopping the car signaled weakness. I dunno. I might have blocked that memory.

Anyhow, after an hour or so, I would start too look like this:Bridjet-Jones-windswept.jpg

It’s ok. It was the 80’s. I could rock the fluffy hair.

By the time we actually arrived at the sweet cool quiet of the mountains, it was an oasis. The pine-scented majesty all around me would fill my soul and soothe my seat-burned thighs.

And so, because my life is awesome, I recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Jack Steward and Colton Smith, the hosts of Daytime Emmy Award-winning series Rock the Park:


Rock the Park showcases America’s national parks as nature enthusiasts and hosts Jack Steward and Colton Smith venture off the beaten path to explore some of the most awe-inspiring places on earth. In this series, the two best friends venture into some of the most awe-inspiring locations, treating us with great views, great advice, and great adventures for us to view and, perhaps, plan for our families this summer.

My family has continued the tradition of summer vacations in the mountains, albeit minus the station wagon and its sticky seats. We avid hikers, even my littles. Our boys, ages six and seven, have enthusiasm for all things mountain and adventure-y, so I had lots of questions for Jack and Colton about how to best enjoy our national park experiences.

Here are a few of my questions and Jack and Colton’s helpful responses:

Me:  What are your favorite family hike memories when you were growing up?

Jack:  My favorite hiking memory with my family was our trek up Rendezvous Mountain in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The mountain has an aerial tram that takes people up to the summit and then back down. As an ambitious eight-year-old, I decided that I wanted to climb to the top! So it was settled, we would all hike the 7 miles to the summit and take the tram down. Our hike turned out to be one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences I had ever had in my life. All of our heels had blisters and we barely packed enough water. It was really tough! Once we made it to the summit, it opened me up to the endless possibilities that nature provides. We had so much fun that we continue the tradition of hiking up to the summit anytime we’re in Jackson Hole.

Me: I am so grateful for more family entertainment for my kids to view – we are in LOVE w/ all shows about nature (hi there, Wild Kratts) – can you explain briefly why you wanted to create a show that is “family friendly”?

Colton: For me the national parks changed my life. I believe they can do just that for so many others. By creating a family friendly show, it allows us to spread that message to not only adults but children. As we know, children can be pretty impressionable, and if our show can make an impression on a young child- that nature is something they need to explore- I believe one day a profound love of nature can be produced. Our goal is not only to entertain but to educate and inspire. We wanted our show to be family friendly because that’s what our national parks are. They’re for everyone. We want to make sure our show is for everyone as well.

Me: We got a new pet this year – our dog, Hosmer. (Named after Eric Hosmer of the Royals, of course.) Do you have any Do’s and Don’ts for dog lovers who want to take their pets on hikes? We encountered many dogs while hiking, some off leash, and wondered if you had any opinions or advice about this.

Colton: I too got a new pet this year! His name is Junior and he loves to run, and I mean run. As much as I’d love to let him of the leash, I would advise against it. Dogs can be quite curious, and there are a lot of predators in nature. The last thing anybody wants is their dog running out of the woods with a black bear on their tail!

Both Jack and Colton are “Find Your Park” ambassadors, and, as Jack describes it, this is “an invitation to open up your life to the enrichment of nature, history and pride for our country that the national parks provide in abundance.” I was so impressed with these two. Their enthusiasm and love for our nation’s beautiful national parks is endearing, and I love that they are creating intelligent, thoughtful, and trustworthy entertainment that the whole family can watch.

The show is a real treat, and I hope you get a chance to Rock the Park with these two this summer. Click below to see how these two can inspire you to “Find Your Park” and, perhaps, seek your own happy horizon.

“We are curious people, always seeking what lies beyond the horizon.”


Rock the Park airs every weekend on ABC stations, check your local listings!

Monday Manuscript

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CC courtesy of Robert Miesner @Flickr


I will not be deterred by random sneak attacks of snow and ice.  I will NOT.  I will celebrate the tenacity and verve of the crocuses.

Here is one of my favorite poems – I was introduced to this poet in college by one of my most beloved professors.  He (the professor, not the poet) took us outside on a spring day, and had us read Mr. Hopkins in time with the sunshine.

My sweet little literature loving heart was full to the brim, I tell you.

Pied Beauty by Gerald Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

Source: Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)

Screenshot 2014-03-17 09.20.01

CC courtesy of Brian A Browne @Flickr