Like we do, last week Beth and I had some time to kill, so we wandered south of Moab.  Maybe we’d finally get to check out the exciting cities of Blanding or Bluff!  But then something magical happened.  A few miles outside Moab, there is a wonderful little place called Hole in the Rock.

hole in the rock

What is Hole in the Rock?  It’s a lot of things, such as:

A 5,000 sqft house/diner carved out of a giant sandstone structure (pictured above).

An exotic zoo.

Your one stop destination for native American art souvenirs.

Seriously.  In the 50’s, Albert and Gladys Christensen blasted out this huge section of rock and made themselves a house over the course of several years.  Here’s a picture I found online (they don’t allow photography here).

hole in the rock moab ut




It’s much cooler than you’d think, actually.  If you ever end up in Moab, I highly recommend visiting Hole in the Rock.  It’s crazy to think as you’re walking around the house (on the tour) there’s about 65+ feet of solid sandstone above your head.

Hole in the Rock also features, for some reason, an exotic zoo, where you’ll find

an albino racoon




mini horses

a very intense emu

the dear from bambi

Here’s a picture of Beth getting a kiss from the two-humped camel.  (Such a nice camel!  You put a carrot stick in your mouth and he takes it from you, very gently).

Beth Kissing

What?  It was awesome.

After Hole in the Rock, we made our way farther South, just wandering.  We decided to turn off the main road and head toward “Needles Overlook,” which was 17 miles west of Highway 191.

It turns out, Needles Overlook is on a cliff that overlooks a huge basin and, in the distance, the Needles District in Canyonlands National Park (but just to be clear–the overlook is NOT a part of Canyonlands).

We arrived a few hours after noon.  It was cold.  Like, really cold.  We were treated to the slow formation of a snow storm over the basin (was amazing, pictures don’t do it justice) and then it promptly started hailing on us.  This only lasted a few minutes.  When the storm left us and moved back out over the basin, I got a pic of the storm.  Here it is:

snow storm at needles

Here are some pics from our Needles Overlook adventure.

wilson arch
Wilson Arch (before turning off of 191)


Beth and Sean at Needles


Road to Overlook
The lovely road to the overlook.


Beth at Edge
Beth being brave!

And that was it!

New York Adventure 2012

The pin is our location--Ithaca, NY.
The pin is our location–Ithaca, NY.

I’m in New York at the moment, and it is just starting to snow.

We are supposed to get a lot of snow through out tonight and tomorrow.  From our room at the Super 8 (which is a nicer place than you’d think), we will watch the snow as we spend time working on various projects and getting ready for the new year.

Taking space to get things organized and prioritized and just generally sorted out is a big help with focus.

We stayed for a bit with Beth’s Ma & Pa at their lovely country home, with big dining room windows that look out on a the glacier-carved landscape, with many bird feeders and one old observatory.

Our flight leaves on Friday, and the snow should be cleared up by then.  Fingers crossed.  But for the next two days we will see several inches of snow falling.  Look for pictures at my G+.

It has been nice to sort of “step away” from real life and have an extended vacation where I can get a 30,000 ft view of where I’m at with my life, where I want to be, and what it will take to get there.  So I’m going to finish my cup of (delicious!) apple cider from Starbucks, and continue planning my new year.

Happy Holidays!


Doing some work at Waffle Frolic--a lovely café.
Doing some work at Waffle Frolic–a lovely café.


The observatory and an empty bird feeder in the backyard.
The observatory and an empty bird feeder in the backyard.



Walking through the Ithaca Commons with snow and christmas lights
Walking through the Ithaca Commons with snow and christmas lights




Oh, poor neglected blog.  Will you ever be updated frequently?

Ever since I moved here, Beth and I have talked about hiking the Timpanogos Cave trail, which is over a mile long, and a whole lotta vertical gain (1,060ft, to be exactly).  On this hike, you are literally hiking along the side of the mountain, starting around 5300ft, and ending up at around 6300 feet.

Last Saturday, we finally made plans and made the commitment to walk up to the Timpanogos Cave entrance.

Ready to go?

sean markey


This hike is not for those with weak hearts!  Also, hi Beth!

Beth and Sean at Timpanogos

And then it started raining!

But we were prepared. 🙂

Sean and Beth Raining

All over the mountain, fall colors.

Fall Leaves

Inside the caves!  It was pretty amazing, and dark… and at times, very cramped along the path through the caves.  Due to the dark, the pictures aren’t particularly amazing.  But the caves were.

Inside the cave.

(click to embiggen)

At the end of the cave.

sean in the cave

On the way down we could see the valley beyond the entrance to the canyon.  Enjoy!

Mouth of the Canyon

It was an amazing trip, and a difficult one.  It was more hiking than either of us were accustomed to, but we made it.

After we finished, we decided to drive up the rest of the canyon to emerge near Park City, to grab a delicious meal at the Wasatch Brew Pub.

However, as adventures usually go, we ended up a little off course.  On the wrong side of the reservoir  we traveled down a small dirt road that took us from the canyon to the back end of Heber.  It added about an hour and a half to our trip, and we were both fairly hungry after such a long hike and drive.

But the view was stunning.  Amazing.  Hundreds of Beech trees lined the road, and dotted the valley below, and their leaves were all a golden yellow.  It was spectacular, and the picture does nothing to portray how lovely it was.

Beech Trees changing colors

And that was our Timpanogos adventure.


Vehicle Milestone

We got the Prius in February 2008, and we LOVE it.

I got rid of my aging car, an we have been a one car family since that summer.

Yesterday, the old Prius hit 50k.

Within those 50,000 miles we’ve gotten married, had adventures, gotten a Kitty (who grew up to be this cat), and drove all the way to five writing conventions.

Wonder what the next 50,000 miles holds…


Starbucks Thinks I’m A Drug Dealer

This morning I woke up at 7:30 a.m., got dressed quickly, and hit the atm for some cash.

I was headed to the farmer’s market to get some just-picked corn, and fresh salad veggies (because today is SALAD SATURDAY at our house).  I get to the farmer’s market about 8:05 a.m.–a little later than I would have liked, because parking downtown, as in every other city in the entire world, is a disastrous, frustrating experience.  But I didn’t do too bad.  I found a space, and was on my way.

Here’s what I bought:

  •  a bag of spring mix lettuce
  •  one bunch of mini carrots
  •  one cucumber
  •  one zucchini
  •  four fresh as could be ears of corn

A delicious line up for SALAD SATURDAY.

On the way home, I decided to stop at my local starbucks to get a delicious coffee drink.

The Starbucks Experience

This Starbucks is the drive through kind.  I order my drink at the speaker, glance at the shopping bag of veggies sitting beside me in the passenger seat (I did not strap them in) and pulled forward.

When the barista takes my card, she gives me a funny look.  She is young and cute and energetic, and I am patiently waiting for my coffee.  After a minute or so of waiting, I look back up at the window, and find three young baristas staring at me.

Okay… this is starting to get a bit weird.

I stare back, and the uncomfortable moment stretches on until they open the drive through window, and one of the girls asks me

“Is that a marijuanna plant?”

me:  Nope.  Carrots.

Barista 2 (laughing with the two others): Oh!  I thought it was marijuanna.  I thought you was really brave just leaving it out like that.

me:  …It’s just the tops of carrots.

Barista 1: When I took your card I saw it and I was like…?

A few things wrong with this situation

1.) All greens are not marijuana plants.

2.) Carrot tops and marijuanna leaves look very different


Starbucks: please feel free to use this blog post to help train new baristas.  You can pay me in free drink coupons. 🙂

Florida Adventure

As I write this, I’ve just returned from a 10 day Florida vacation.  Two immediate thoughts

1) It’s SO GOOD to be home

2) Man, vacations are nice.

A Brief History of ‘Why Florida?’

My parents live in Florida.  It’s where we moved from Charleston, SC after our house burned down (hmm, I should tell that story on here sometime).  I lived in Florida for 8 years.  I finished high school there and started college there.  I never really liked living there, mostly due to the weather and, oh, let’s see, THE WEATHER.  It was always too hot and humid for me, but I did like to see the storms come through, and walking on the beach at night.

So I wanted to go and visit my mom and dad, as well as spending time with my nephews.

Tropical Storm Beryl
Red Dot = Where I was staying

Tropical Storm Beryl

I flew in on a Saturday, which was lucky timing, as tropical storm Beryl was scheduled to come smash through the east coast on Sunday.

I’m kind of a weather nerd, so, as long as my plane wasn’t trying to LAND during the tropical storm, I was super excited to be in Florida and experience the storm.  What was it like?  Lots of wind, lots of rain, and lots and lots of grey skies.

When a tropical storm of anytime comes ashore, even if it is tens of hundreds of miles away, it always puts on a show at the beach.  The waves are and fierce.  When the waves crash the wind sprays the sea foam into the air.  It’s quite the site.

The waves came right up to the end of the boardwalk.

big waves

Other fun things I got to do:

– Went to Charleston, SC to visit family

– Had some AUTHENTIC South Carolina barbecue, the highlight of any trip to SC

– Road Trip with dad!

– Slightly shorter Road Trip with mom!

– Rented Jet Skis and rode them at Ponce Inlet, FL

– SLEPT.  A Lot.

– Played with my parents’s MONSTER chocolate lab, Bailey:

dog running on beach

That was basically it.  Vacations where your plans consist of relaxing and visiting the ones you love most are the best.  As work was stressful lately, and the last month really wore me down, this was sort of the perfect vacation.

I’ll leave you with this final picture, because it sums it all up:

Flagler Beach

Flagler Beach, FL

Experian Fraud

Google it.

There are a lot of people angry with Experian over fraudulent charges, and I just became one of them.

There are two types of pissed off people:

1.) People who ordered their credit report for $1, and then canceled the scheduled credit monitoring charge, only to have that $19.95 charge appear month after month after month.

2.) People whose accounts get charged by Experian who NEVER SIGNED UP FOR ANY KIND OF SERVICE FROM THERE.

I am in the second group.  See, here’s what happens.

Some one, somehow (maybe through sheer guessing and entering random numbers: they have bots for that) gets your credit card number and enters it at to get a free credit report.  If one does not cancel the credit monitoring service one is automatically enrolled in a $19.95 per month service. is a CREDIT MONITORING SERVICE.  Do you understand how cosmically stupid that is?  They do not require any more details than the 16 digit credit card number to charge your card.  Kind of gives you a lot of confidence in their ability to monitor your credit if they have thousands of these fraudulent charges, right?  Fail.

So I called them, and after a lengthy hold, talked to a nice woman who helped me reverse the charge and cancel any future charges.  Hopefully this works, but with the shady way they operate, one never knows.  You can be sure I’m watching my pending charges like a hungry dog watches a box of snausages.

If you’re searching for how to get this problem fixed, because you also got charged:

Here is how to get charges reversed

– Call (714) 830-7000 for Experian customer service.  You will probably put on hold right away for nearly 10 minutes.  Suck it up and stay on the call.

– Tell them why you called (fraudulent charges appeared on your credit card account

– Stay on hold as they transfer you to the department that handles this.  Funny story: they could not tell me the direct number of this department when I asked.

– Tell the person very clearly there is a fraudulent charge on your account for a credit report, and you want the $1 charge reimbursed, as well as MAKING SURE THAT NO FURTHER CHARGES APPEAR.

– Tell them you know that after a 7 day trial period you will be charged $19.95, and you want to make sure that doesn’t happen because YOU DID NOT PURCHASE ANY SERVICE FROM THEM AND THIS IS FRAUD.

– Sit through the part where they ask you if you know the first name of the person who initiated the charge (mine was Carla), and say, nicely, OF COURSE I DON’T.  THIS IS A FRAUDULENT CHARGE.

– Stay on hold while they talk to their supervisor.  They will return and tell you everything is good to go.

– Try not to ask them if they know how eternally STUPID AND/OR HILARIOUS it is that a credit monitoring company has such a problem with credit card fraud.  One of your best weapons in situations like this is being FIRM but NICE.

– Then call your bank, and let them know what’s up.

Hope it works for you.  Hell, I hope it works for me, too.

How To Water Your Cat

Our cat, Abby, loves water.  In the summer she sleeps in the cool sink and waits for one of us to turn on the water.

If we walk into the room with a water bottle, and the water bottle makes a sloshing sound, she runs up and paws at the water bottle.

It’s quite ridiculous.

So naturally, we had to get it on video.

Enjoy this footage of our cat BEGGING for water, and then getting sprayed.