Friday, June 23, 2006

Goodbye Sedona

Hi everyone. I am home now from Arizona.

I have been so busy telling everyone about my trip that I haven't had time to write.

On the final night of the conference Kristin was attending, she let me come with her (in her purse) to the big conference dinner. Kristin wore a fancy dress and all of the other people there were dressed up very nice. Here you can see a few pictures of me with Kristin in her fancy dress.

I couldn't understand what most people were talking about at dinner but it was fun to watch people talk. Many were very excited while talking. Kristin later told me they were talking about politics. Sounds pretty boring to me!

After dinner, I went to bed and Kristin worked on packing up all of her equipment and clothes. The next morning (Wednesday), Kristin got me up REALLY early (before 6AM) so we could go on a walk. I really like exploring the trails near the resort but I wasn't so sure I wanted to get up so early! Now I am glad that I did. Kristin and her friends Jeff, Betty, Susan, and Julie walked ALL to a place Kristin called the "vista." It is REALLY high up! It's hard to see me but here I am with Kristin and her friends at the "vista" (Kristin is holding me).

And to give you an idea of how high we had to walk, here is a photo of the place where we were. Kristin took this from near our hotel. The rock we climbed up to is the one on the far right hand side of this photo.

I also got see some more of the fire that is still burning near Sedona.

After our walk, I went swimming while Kristin finished her conference work. Then, Kristin took me to the gift store and let me pick out a t-shirt to remember my trip. She also let me buy a few small things for my family and she ordered me a special book about the javelina. Javelinas are animals that I learned about at Camp Coyote. I never saw one in person but they look like ugly pigs in the photos I saw. But I learned javelinas are NOT pigs and the book Kristin ordered for me is called, "Don't Call Me Pig." I can't wait until it arrives.

Around 3:00PM, a car service came and picked up Kristin and her friend Jeff to taken them back to Phoenix. They didn't get to ride in the big limo this time. Instead they rode in a regular car. :(

When we got to Phoenix, Kristin told me a friend of hers was going to take all of us out to dinner. Guess what? It was Kristin's friend Kathleen. Kathleen is one of Kristin's journalist friends that I met in Egypt. It turns out she lives in Phoenix. How cool is that? Here you can see me with Kristin and Kathleen at a Mexican restaurant in Phoenix.

Now that I am back in Iowa, I want to thank Kristin for taking me on another great trip. I also want to thank Kristin's friends Jeff, Betty, Susan, and Matt at the Stanley Foundation for being so kind to me during the trip.

Until my next adventure.....goodbye for now.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My Ride In a Pink Jeep!

Hi everyone. I hope all is well with you.

It is still very hot and dry here in Sedona. The fire is still burning and it is VERY big news here. I can no longer see the smoke from Kristin's room. But the sky is hazy and I could smell the smoke in the air this morning.

Kristin told me on Sunday night that I needed to get plenty of rest because she had a special trip planned on Monday. She wasn't kidding!

When I woke up, Kristin told me to make sure to put on lots of suntan lotion, bring my hat, and bring an extra bottle of water. She said I needed these for a surprise trip. Then, right after lunch, several Jeeps showed up right outside of the room where Kristin's conference is being held. They were the funniest Jeeps I have ever seen! They are painted PINK!

If you look really close, here you can see me in a pink Jeep with Kristin's friend Susan.

It turns out that Kristin and all of the people attending the conference were going on tours of Sedona in these pink Jeeps. A few of the Jeeps went to see area Indian ruins. But the Jeep Kristin was riding in went to a place called "Broken Arrow" in the Coconino National Forest near Sedona.

At first I couldn't understand why we needed a Jeep but right after we left the hotel, our driver told us we were going to be driving on a very bumpy trail. He wasn't kidding! There are no real roads on the Broken Arrow tour....only red dirt paths that looked like they have have been carved out of the side of a mountain.

The ride was VERY bumpy and I had to make sure that my seatbelt was fastened tight at all times! The Jeep didn't go very fast but the ride was really cool! It was like being on a rollercoaster.

The Jeep was really cool too! It was open with a canvas top. And, just as we started on the rocky road, the driver stopped and put the windshield down so we could get a better view. Did you know that a Jeep's windshield could fold? I had no idea!

I was sitting in the front seat with Kristin and because the windshield was folded down I got covered in lots of red dust! My mom isn't going to be very happy with all of the red dust when she washes my clothes!

We were able to stop in a few places to get a better view of the national forest. Here I am with Kristin at one of the stops on the tour.

Do you see the big cloud behind us? That's the smoke from the fire. Here's a better view.

It was really cool to see the view of the red rocks but it was also kind of scary. It was windy and we were up REALLY HIGH. I was afraid I might fall and never been seen again! Kristin made sure to hold me really tight so I didn't blow away.

During the ride, we saw lots of different trees and plants. I really liked looking at the cactus plants I could see all along the road. During our second stop, I decided to get a better look at the cactus. But, Kristin told me not to get too close. The cactus leaves have LONG needles and Kristin said the needles would really hurt if I touched one. This is as close as I got to one of the cactus plants.

Can you see the needles? I am glad Kristin warned me not to get closer.

The best part of the Jeep ride was toward the end when the driver drove us up the side of a small hill and then drove us SLOWLY down the other side. Kristin didn't go on this part because she had to take photos of the Jeeps as they were going down the hill. But I got to stay and enjoy the ride with Kristin's friend Betty. It was SO COOL!! I thought I was going to fall forward! It's a good thing Betty was holding me!

After the tour ended, the pink Jeep drove us to a nearby ranch for dinner. It was a very nice place with a small pond and another hill where we could watch the sunset. Here I am with Kristin just before the sunset.

I wasn't all that in that interested in the sunset. I was more interested in watching the fire. We had a great view of it at this location. Just before we left, the fire started to come over the big mountain. It was neat to see the flames. But Kristin told me it wasn't good to see the flames because that means the fire is spreading and getting closer to homes.

Look closely below and you can see some flames behind me.

I know there are lots of firefighters and planes trying to put out the fire. I sure hope they can get it out soon. It would be bad if someone loses their house.

That's all for now. Until next time..

Monday, June 19, 2006

Wildfires and Native American Dance

Hi everyone. I thought I should write to give you an update on the big fire.

Kristin was able to find some information on the Web after my last update. The fire started in an area known as Oak Creek Canyon. One of the hotel workers told Kristin the fire was 8 miles away from us earlier this afternoon but now it is moving AWAY from the resort. Whew! It sure looked like it was really, really close.

Kristin says no one is sure what started the fire. She says the fire started just after Noon. So that means I first saw it not long after it started.

By late this afternoon, I could tell from where the smoke was in the sky that the fire was moving in a different direction. Here are two photos of the fire from late today. You can see the smoke cloud had moved left of the lone rock formation that was in the earlier photos Kristin took.

Tonight Kristin told me that I could go to dinner with her. But, I had to promise to be VERY quiet and good. That's because several really important people were at dinner. Kristin says some work at the United Nations in New York. Yes, they work in the same building I have visited in New York City. How cool!

The dinner tables were set up in a large field at one end of the resort. There was a place to have a campfire. But, we didn't have a real campfire. Instead, the hotel had a fake campfire. It was a machine that looks like a real fire but it is electric and isn't hot. Here I am near the "campfire."

I wasn't hungry because I had a big lunch so I basically listened to the adults talking from inside Kristin's purse. I have NO idea what they were talking about. I couldn't understand the words but they must have been talking about something very important because everyone was very serious.

Right after dinner, Kristin let me take a peek outside of her purse just in time to see a Native American dance. Did you know that Native Americans are also known as Indians? I had no idea! Anyway, I saw something called a "hoop dance." The dancer does stops his feet and jumps around while another man plays a traditional drum. While he is moving, the dancer picks up hoops with his feet and moves them all around until they finally form what looks like a big globe. It was very cool.

Here's a photo Kristin took of the dancer.

And here's the one I took (Kristin says this is a very "artistic" photo. I don't know what that means but I think it looks really cool!).

That's all for now. It is well past my bedtime and Kristin says I need to get to bed. I guess we are going to explore the area some more tomorrow so I need to get some rest.

Until next time....

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hot, Hot, Hot!!

Hi everyone. I hope you are having a good Sunday.

I am having a great time here in Sedona. Kristin is working most of the time but I am definitely NOT bored. Kristin has let me attend Camp Coyote here at Enchantment Resort. This is the kids camp program I mentioned the other day. I've been swimming, hiking, putt-putt golfing, and listening to nighttime stories by the pool.

I really like swimming but I like the hiking even more... even though it is really HOT outside. I have to bring extra water and stop often to take a rest before walking father. It is really hard to walk up the hills around the resort! I sure am glad I brought my tennis shoes!!

I like hiking because I get to see lots of cool plants and animals. I have seen lots of birds, a few rabbits and even a huge deer (on the golf course!). I wish I had photos to show you but Kristin needs her camera for the conference and I didn't bring one.

But, my favorites are the little lizards that I see all over the resort. They run really, really fast. Plus, they are the color of sand so sometimes it is hard to see them. I did ask Kristin to take a picture of a lizard. This one was just outside of our room.

Today has been a bit more hectic than usual. There is a BIG fire very close to the resort. I don't know when it started but Kristin noticed it around 12:30PM when she was walking back from doing a radio interview.

Here's a photo Kristin took this morning near our room.

And here's one she took right after she noticed the fire started.

Pretty scary, don't you think? I've seen fires in the ditches along the roads near Muscatine but I have never seen anything like this!

Kristin says she doesn't know how the fire started and she hasn't seen any news about the fire on the internet. But, it is very HOT and very dry outside. Kristin says that the weather makes it even easier for a big fire to spread. I had no idea!

There are many airplanes flying over the fire area. Kristin says the planes are watching the fire so the people on the plane can help direct the firemen who are trying to put the fire out. I sure hope they get the fire out soon.

Kristin told me not to worry. I am going to try not to worry but I think I will sit outside and watch the fire for awhile just to make sure everything is OK.

I'll keep you posted. Goodbye for now!