Feb 5 2012

Jeepers!

Melissa Crytzer Fry

It’s official: hubby and I are honest-to-goodness Jeepers now that we’ve taken Betty on her first adventure. (Okay … maybe not yet. But we’re not Jeep virgins anymore, are we?).

Neighbor Mark, as you know, can find his way around the local mountains with his eyes pretty much closed and his arms tied behind his back. So we asked him if he wouldn’t mind playing tour guide during our inaugural trial run. Handyman husband wanted to be sure that Betty was fit enough for wear and tear (and that we weren’t huffing it back home, some 15 miles into the remote desert.) Plus, we both needed to get some driving experience.

So without further ado, welcome to Betty’s first romp in the Sonoran desert.

First stop: a wonderful old corral estimated to be at least 100 years old. I love this photo so much, I think it could be the cover of my first novel. Don't ask me why, but click to enlarge so you can tell me if you are as captivated by it as I.

Second stop: View of the snow-capped Santa Catalinas from within our perch among the Galiuro mountains (and my favorite – a saguaro cactus). Click to enlarge.

And there’s my girl, Betty. She looks quite ‘in her element’ here, don’t you think? (Love the removable top half of the doors and the zip-out windows!) Click to enlarge.

Boys will be boys. Neighbor Mark shows off his Ranger’s rock-crawling versatility at our lunch spot while Betty takes it easy on a less threatening boulder. Click to enlarge.

Mark and Roxanne’s pup, Pearl (our adopted niece) surveys the area. All of those little squiggles are roads that lead to lots of (current) mining exploration in the area. We found some wonderful quartz crystals with great six-sided prisms at this very spot. Click to enlarge.

Heading back toward home, we stopped at Copper Creek so that Betty could enjoy the shade and the sound of trickling water. Click to enlarge.

This lone, spotless ladybug rests on the only non-submerged part of a rock in the creek bed. Love the strands of slippery algae. Click to enlarge.

Miss Pearl – a.k.a. “Fuzzy Butt” – really enjoyed getting her feet wet (and lapping up the green stuff). Click to enlarge.

Yep. And there’s me driving Miss Betty and smiling from ear to ear with a saguaro-studded hill in the background. Totally smitten. Click to enlarge.

I can’t tell you how much fun I had on this first excursion. Betty performed just the way I expected. First, just like her badass namesake Betty White, she conquered some tough, slippery shale (um… yes, very thankful hubby was driving up that steep hill. That task was a bit too adventurous for my novice skills).

And secondly – Betty gave me what I longed for during just one trip: she inspired me. It felt great to have the camera clicking again and to be a part of the natural landscape, hubby by my side and friends willing to share in the wonder with us.

My mom is beginning a two-week visit from Pennsylvania beginning Friday. I cannot wait to take her for a spin (or two … or three), which makes me wonder: will Betty be more inspiration or more distractor?

For Readers, Writers: What is your Betty? Your inspiration? You can see below that she now officially embodies all of my passions. The special conservation plate even includes a mountain lion in the design!


29 Responses to “Jeepers!”

  • avatar Shary Says:

    As always, your photos are wonderful. The beauty of the natural world is so inspiring. This time, though, my favorite photo is the King of the Mountain shot of the two vehicles showing off. They look so human challenging one another and there’s so much story there. My second favorite is the one of Pearl because she reminds me of my inspiration, Lola, who also loves splashing around in creeks. Lola helps me get out of my head and into my body, a skill I need to work on for my daily life and my writing life.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I LOVE that you saw “King of the Mountain” in that shot! And, yes, Pearl is a DOLL. Animals are so good at drawing us out of ourselves, aren’t they?

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  • avatar Julia Munroe Martin Says:

    No question Betty will be an inspiration (and maybe a little distracting too, but only in a good way). I love that you’re JEEPERS (never heard that one before). And Betty fits you to a “t”! I agree with Shary, I love the photo of Pearl, beautiful shot! My inspiration is the natural beauty of Maine & the fun adventures MEH and I have while exploring them! (p.s. I do have ONE complaint about this post: too long a view of you at Betty’s wheel…. what no vlog???)

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    Melissa Reply:

    I saw the beautiful Maine photo on your blog today and I can TOTALLY see how Maine is your muse. Of course that photo of me is a distance shot. By design :-).

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  • avatar Laurie Buchanan Says:

    Melissa – If you were to have any more fun, they’d have to issue you a ticket!

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  • avatar Sue Mitchell Says:

    Fantastic. I’m totally in love with Betty. Glad you sprang for the conservation plate…such a nice addition. 🙂

    The pic of the two vehicles climbing rocks had a Cars-esque feel. They definitely have personalities, don’t they?

    I am inspired by my boats. Two kayaks and a canoe I no longer own. When I am on a river journey, I am so completely in my element and there is absolutely nowhere I’d rather be. Although if there were, it might very well be the Sonoran Desert.

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    Melissa Reply:

    I LOVE the Cars cartoons; how wonderful that you saw the vehicles personified in that photo! See – I envy your ease on the water; not so for me. But I can totally see how you’d get such a peaceful calm in a kayak or canoe. Reminds me of a novel I read recently: Eternal on the Water.

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  • avatar Cynthia Robertson Says:

    Great photos of Betty, Melissa! Looks like such a fun day. I agree with whoever it was that said the photo of you was too far away…hahaha!

    My love of history is an inspiration, and also my love of and curiosity for the natural world around us. Reading some especially beautiful prose can be inspiring for me, so I’d have to add my love of language, as well.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Oh, I agree… reading beautiful prose is SO inspirational!

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  • avatar Leah Says:

    Awesome! And love your license plate! Photos are beautiful as always. Not sure if it’s the same, but Sophie tends to be my Betty. She’s my constant muse.

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  • avatar Julie Says:

    She’s a beauty and I love the plates! Have fun off-roading in the desert!

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  • avatar Jolina Petersheim Says:

    You are one tough gal, Betty White, and I have to admit that looking through these pictures makes me want to trade my Subaru Forester in for another Jeep…but don’t tell Hubby! For me, my writing inspiration often comes through long walks where my tangled thoughts can unwind. I also like road trips where I can listen to classical music and contemplate different scenarios for my characters.

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  • avatar Erika Marks Says:

    Oh boy, is that fun or what? I bet you and Betty didn’t want to call it a day. Or Miss Pearl for that matter–what a cutie!

    Inspiration for me can come from anywhere–something fleeting, or a relationship that makes me think about human nature–it’s usually a character or characters that I can’t wait to sew into a setting and see where they go/what they do.

    Looking good, Betty! Where/when are you hitting the road next?

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    Melissa Reply:

    I love that you’re so multi-dimensional with your inspiration, Erika. But I agree: relationships FASCINATE me (and are often the seeds for future story ideas). Next road trip? Hmm… Anytime I want! I drove around our ranch today just for fun. Maybe tomorrow, if progress on WIP allows, I will go down by the river!

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  • avatar Annie Neugebauer Says:

    Such beautiful photos! I am captivated by the first one too, and could totally seeing it being a book cover!

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  • avatar Tom Honea Says:

    carrol and rock formation is a great picture … could certainly be the jacket-cover-picture for a book !

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  • avatar Mahesh Raj Mohan Says:

    I love these pics, MCF! I remember the feel of the desert air when I look at your pics.

    My favorites are probably the ladybug, Miss Pearl, and Betty and the Ranger propped on the rocks. I was curious if there was a steep incline, or if you were both just showing their capabilities?

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  • avatar Hallie Sawyer Says:

    Did you give a big “yes-haw!” as you bounced around with Betty? What a blast! And Pearl! How could you not kiss that face off?

    So happy that you have inspiration right there at your fingertips. Mine comes when I read a great book or I see an amazing photograph. I also feel it when I am still and quiet in nature. I realize how small I really am-it inspires me to “get bigger”. Make an impact.

    Love all the pics, M!

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    Melissa Reply:

    I agree with you and Cynthia that inspiration definitely comes from good books and great language. And, yes, photos! I actually takes notes when I’m reading, then pull excerpts of beautiful language that I can read later (and sometimes before I start my own work) for inspiration.

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  • avatar Mary Ann Nissen Says:

    Thanks for sharing, I love all of the photos. Makes me want to get out and do some hiking & exploring. I envy the fact that all you have to do is walk outside and it is right there. Enjoy!

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  • avatar Jamie Says:

    What a wonderful post! There’s nothing quite like and old jeep. Looks like the start of a beautiful friendship. I have the same fondness for jeeps with scars and stories–so much so that I bought one that had about 50 miles left to its name 5 years ago. It wouldn’t start on cold days, and left me stranded more than once. But I loved that old jeep. Though, after 6 months of dealing with the manual top, I decided to buy a convertible mini cooper. I’m a city girl at heart! Enjoy Betty and your adventures. 🙂

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  • avatar StoriesAndSweetPotatoes Says:

    That looked like a blast! Don’t do anything crazy in Betty and end up on Dumbest Stuff On Wheels! 😉

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  • avatar Natalia Sylvester Says:

    This looks like something out of a movie, Melissa! You’re so lucky to have such a beautiful playground in the desert, and of course Betty to help you navigate. Seeing these pictures remind me that I need to get out there more and take in my surroundings and life in every moment. Thanks for that.

    And I love, love, love your license plate!

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  • avatar Christi Craig Says:

    What fun! I love the photo of the corral. Remnants of the past like that are often my inspiration. Glad you had a great time on your first ride with Betty!

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  • avatar Abi Burlingham Says:

    Wow! I can feel your Betty excitement… I think this should have a special name – Betcitement!!! It must feel wonderful to be able to explore in this way – it would definitely inspire me! Love the pics too, especially Pearl and the glorious cactus. Nature always inspires me Melissa, but people do too, especially those who are a bit quirky and individual and have an interesting take on life. Pictures also inspire me, animals too… in fact, inspiration can come from almost anywhere, I think, as long as we keep our eyes open for it. Hope you have lots more lovely treks!

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  • avatar Janel Says:

    We’ve had a Jeep for over 10 years. I’m sure you, and your sweet doggy, will have many great times in Betty!

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  • avatar Nina B Says:

    You are seriously SO badass!!!!! (In a good way)

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  • avatar Susan Okaty Says:

    Great pictures! Betty got quite a workout. Seems like she’s aptly named. Nice to live in an area that has so many photo ops.

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    Melissa Reply:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, Susan. Betty has been a wonderful addition to the ‘family’!

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