"Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive." Anaïs Nin


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Monday, October 20, 2014

Lip Reading Challenge: Guest Post by James Story from Chums

I want to thank James Story for graciously accepting my request to share what Chums has created. Chums challenges us to 4 different lip reading exercises. Read about the challenge and see how well you do.

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As part of UK Deaf Awareness Week in May, Chums launched an interactive lip reading challenge to test people and see how well they could lip read ten videos of different people speaking directly to a camera. All you need to do is select one of four possible answers to identify what was said. The challenge is also timed, so you get to see how accurately you can lip read as well as how long it takes you to work out what’s being said.

Lip reading is a fundamental method of communication which you may think is quite easy. However, as you’ll see, when people speak less explicitly you may end up taking longer than expected to work out what our volunteers are saying. The challenge was made to cast a light on some of the difficulties that those who are deaf or hard hearing face every day.

So far, the challenge has been a massive success. More than 9,000 people took the challenge during Deaf Awareness Week and since then more than 13,000 people have took the challenge and shared it with their friends. With roughly 1 in every 500 people in the US being functionally deaf, we’re pleased to help raise awareness and invite you to take part in the lip reading challenge to test your skills and see just how well you do! Take the challenge here http://www.chums.co.uk/blog/?page_id=601

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Albuquerque New Mexico and the Petroglyph Monument

After our visit to Roswell, we headed north up to Santa Fe. I had spent time there with my parents back in the 70's. My mother and I LOVED the city, the culture that has been preserved, and especially the architecture. We visited museums and spent much time in the Old City.

I was amazed how much the city had grown along the outskirts. It looked so different from what I remember from my visit decades ago. I wanted to visit the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, but to our dismay, the streets were too narrow and there was no parking for a large RV, let alone one towing a car like we are. We decided we would have to forego this as one of our stops, and opted to head over toward Albuquerque.

We pulled in to the KOA campground around 8 pm. It had been a long drive, and we decided to stay one night and then head on over toward Flagstaff, Arizona in the morning.

Starting late in the morning, we headed out of Albuquerque and saw the sign for the National Petroglyph Monument. Gary suggested we stop at the visitor center and take a look around. Bear and I were looking around at the items in the center when Gary said, "Let's go. There's a trail up to the petroglyphs we can hike just a little ways up the road."

RV parking is just outside the park, and it was just a short walk in to where the trail begins. The park ranger reminded me of Wilford Brimley, the actor in "Cocoon". He took a look at Bear and began to tell us the park rules. He said we had to stay on the trail, don't touch anything, watch out for rattlesnakes, mean squirrels and the mean men at the top with clubs and guns. (There weren't any - he just wanted to tease Brody and paint a picture of the wild, wild west. :-)

This is what we climbed. It looks like it's smooth and easy, but it is a fairly steep and very rocky climb.













Here are a few photos I took with my iPhone of a few items along the trail of Boca Negro Canyon.





We climbed up Boca Negra Canyon Peak and had a stunning view, not only of the petroglyphs along the steep rocky terrain, but an awesome view of the Rio Grande Valley and the Sandia Mountains on the other side of the canyon.

















If you tilt your head a bit to the left, you can see the shape of the heart.







Next post will feature the Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Painted Desert and the Petrified Forest

Driving from the Petroglyph National Monument, we continued our journey along I 40 toward Flagstaff, Arizona. We stopped at Ortega Navajo Trading post to pick up a few souvenirs. Bear was fascinated with all the rocks and minerals displayed, and we let him pick out 2 bags, one for him and one for my grandson. While he was busy picking through the selection, this gave Gary and me time to find something for our new home. There was a beautiful hand made clay pot with horse hair swirled into it against the back drop of hues of purples, oranges, pinks and blues. I'm looking forward to displaying it in our new home as a reminder of our time on this journey.

Grabbing a quick bite at the truck stop, we got back on the road and picked up our westward journey. After a few hours, we saw the signs for the National park of The Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert.

The ranger at the entrance told us we had enough time to drive through the park, but we needed to be in the vehicle and heading out by 6pm. Gary asked her for the FREE pass for all disabled citizens for me. All that is required is my I.D. and my Social Security papers proving I have a disability. Sensory loss such as deafness and blindness are disabilities, too, but people usually only think disabled means persons who are mobility disabled. ANY disability recognized by Social Security is covered and the FREE PASS TO ALL NATIONAL PARKS is available. It will cover the cost for up to 3 companions with you, but they must be in your party and you must show your ACCESS PASS along with your I.D. upon entering each park.



The drive through the park is about 28 miles with places to pull over for scenic views along the way. The first stop was breathtaking. We entered the side with the Painted Desert first. As we neared Rainbow Ridge, there was a magnificent rainbow on the horizon. We caught it at the perfect moment. We had no one behind us, so Gary hopped out to capture it on camera. He no sooner took a photo when a Ranger pulled up behind us and said we had to move and can only stop at designated areas. No exceptions.

When we arrived to the Petrified Forest, we saw the parking lot filled with vehicles and people. Our watches said it was 6pm and we wondered why they weren't getting chased out by the rangers. Bear and I hopped out and nearly ran up the trails to get photos and see everything before we got corralled out of there. Gary was still in the parking lot when we came back. He was getting his camera lenses together and said we had crossed into a time zone and our watches were 1 hour ahead now. I totally forgot about the different time zones. It was nice having this extra hour to leisurely enjoy the park.

While Gary walked up the trail to photograph the petrified stumps strewn across the landscape, Bear and I had a snack and he played with his new rocks and the leaflet that explained the properties of each different stone. He had each rock on the list except pyrite (fools gold) and he informed me he was on a quest to find that one for his collection.

Driving out of the park, we hooked back onto I 40 heading once again toward our destination for the night in Flagstaff. It wasn't long before we saw signs for Winslow and thought about maybe circling back in a day or so to see "Standing on a Corner" park and monument that the city built in homage to the lyrics of the Eagle's song "Take it Easy"... "Standing on the Corner in Winslow Arizona, such a fine sight to see...." Winslow is about 50 miles east of Flagstaff, so it would be doable side tour another day.

It wasn't but a few miles further up the road we saw "Meteor Crater" and thought we might add this to our side tour, as well. But first, we want to get to our campsite. We reserved it for 3 nights so we could spend a day at Sedona, as well.

Here are the photos I took with my iPhone of the Painted Desert and the Petrified forest:


A glimpse of the southwest at a roadside stop



The Painted Desert







The Petrified Forest










A beautiful sunset over the Arizina Desert.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Roswell, New Mexico and the International UFO Museum and Research Center


When we began to plan our journey, the one thing Bear wanted to see was Roswell New Mexico and learn about The alien landing and see the museum. He's really into all that kind of stuff.

As we pulled into Roswell, aliens were EVERYWHERE! There were aliens in the windows, along the road, benches and the McDonald's was designed like a spaceship. This city really knows how to be fun and capitalize its uniqueness. Bear said it would have been cool if the police cars had aliens as their logo, but decided if they did that, people may not take them seriously if they were causing trouble. That's a good point.

What I didn't plan on, was to discover how fun, interesting, fascinating, and a bit disturbing the International UFO Museum and Research Center is. In case you're wondering what it was I found some disturbing about the center itself, it is the section regarding implants and alien abductions, the photographs and stories on that topic. I'll leave the rest of that up to the UFO Museum coast-to-coast a.m. formerly hosted by Art Bell and now hosted by George Noory.

Having said that, I spent two hours in this place enjoying every moment. 

I especially enjoyed the southwestern artwork that was displayed throughout the
center. I was also quite impressed with how well the research center was put together.

It's really a great place for kids to browse through and it really holds their attention. Our little guy really enjoyed himself.

I asked the friendly woman at the information counter if she had any stories to share with us. She told us that the National Geographic film crew from Italy had been there filming the week before, and they had a person with them that had the disorder that caused them not to grow or develop normally. He spoke no English, and had an interpreter with him. She said that people actually thought he was working for him because the disease gave him physical characteristics that looked similar to the features of aliens. He later came and told them at the desk though his interpreter that he wanted his space ship back. She said he was fun and humorous and seemed to really enjoy himself, and they enjoyed having him.

They let us take photos to share a small glimpse with you. 


A happy hippy UFO


This has got to be by far the best tinfoil hat assessory I've ever seen - fashionably trendy :-)










On the left is an Alien Walkingstick


This is an ancient stone carving


This is the mural inside the research center.

There are some videos and more information for you on their website here: http://www.roswellufomuseum.com

next post will cover Albuquerque and our visit to the National Petroglyph Monument.