Life Of The Rodeo Horse

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Happy Trails — Part 2

I’ll be 47 years old in a couple of weeks. I remembered I was 12 years old; and one day while walking home from school — for some reason, thoughts of what my life would be like when I’m 47 came to mind… it seems like forever at the time — 35 years away. Yet, little did I realize that it would come a lot quicker than what my childish mind have perceived.  At the time I thought I probably would have kids, have a husband who loves me forever… have a house filled with love and laughter, I would be this great artist, and have the financial independence to travel the world; all the innocent thoughts of a child — full of hopes and dreams — dreams of that perfect life. The only things that came true were the kids. And while not great… I’m an artist.

It has been quite a tumultuous journey… my so call journey of life. Often times I wonder why some people seem to have a life that seems so easy — so perfect. They set out to get what they want: work hard and obtained their desires. Then there are many of us who seems to wander endlessly… like a feather in the wind — seeking the same and yet we can’t seem to get it no matter how hard we try. Perhaps it’s because our destiny has already been etched in stone and we can’t change it — no matter how we tried to rewrite it. And yet, my tenacious personality refuses to let me believe that. I find myself keep trying… wanting to rewrite my destiny. Because I just don’t want to settle for less — at least not all the time. There are situations beyond my control that I have to do whatever to survive. However, what really bothers me more than anything else in this world is to depend my livelihood on people who are undependable.

Last week, I was so happy to finally find a job so soon after closing my restaurant. It was such a relief to know the furry kids and I would not be homeless. And the job has a lot of potential for me to move forward financially. I was told to start work on Monday. The owner said he would call me to let me know the exact time. Monday came and by 10 am, I didn’t hear anything; I called the owner. My alarm sensor went off when I heard his voice. He made some excuses about being busy and that he would call me back in an hour. Well… an hour later and still no words. I try to be optimistic and gave him the benefit of the doubt that he was busy. I decided to call my landlord to let him know the good news and I won’t have to move out of the apartment. Little did I know that phone call would change the course of my life in an instant. I was shocked, disappointed and disgusted beyond belief when I found out through my landlord that I don’t have the job. My landlord had lunch with the owner’s fiancé over the weekend and she told him they are not going to hire me. We both knew it was her who didn’t want to hire me… jealous? But what made me even angrier was the fact that neither the owner nor the general manager had the courtesy to call and let me know personally. When I finally talked to the GM, he sounded very uncomfortable, gave me some lame excuse on why the change of plan and that he would have called me sooner but he didn’t have my phone number… really… I deserved a better answer than that.

Needless to say, this week I’ve been ridding on an emotional roller coaster — pondering about my seemingly torturous life. Why God? I asked. I don’t ask for much. I don’t want all the material crap or the desire to be filthy rich. I just want a joyful, peaceful life where I can contribute some positive difference and to share it with someone who will love me for who I am. Seems simple enough and yet it has been easier said than done.

After beating myself up, and being angry at the world for the week, I decided that I wasn’t going to let this set back get the best of me. As they say… back to the drawing board. Even though once again, the furry kids and I have to deal with being homeless. And my job opportunities don’t look very promising. I try to see the positive things in this ordeal. As I sit and looked through the photos I took on my recent trip, I realized how lucky I am to be able to travel freely and captured the beauty of  my world. I’m grateful to have taken the weekend trip before the bad news. At least, I fulfilled my dream of visiting one of the most amazing landscapes in person.

While I’m not sure where this journey will continue to take me, I know it will not be empty. Until we meet again my fellow bloggers and friends… Happy Trails!

With a view like that… I would be more than happy to live in a box.

Seeking Truth and Forgiveness on Route 66 – The Confession

By the time I pulled into the motel, El Trovatore; I felt achy, hungry and very tired from the long day of driving in the desert. Needless to say, I was looking forward to a nice cool shower and hopefully find a good steak dinner somewhere in town. Of course, the first thing I noticed about the motel was its affordable price and the retro looking neon sign at the entrance. But there was something quaint about the place that intrigues me. It was unlike any other motels I’ve ever stayed in. I could sense there’s probably a lot of history behind this motel. Little did I know, this was also where I would finally get to confess my sins and get the much-needed guidance to see the truth I’ve been seeking.

When I drove further into the property, the hand painted murals depicting different scenes and iconic Hollywood characters that covered many of the buildings instantly stirred up my creative mind. For a moment, I forgot about being tired and started to think like a photographer. I saw photo opportunities. However, my growling stomach reminded me that I’ve eaten only road food consisted of nuts, dried fruits, beef jerky and countless bottles of water.

I walked into the office to check in and noticed the room filled with mementos; life-size cut out of John Wayne, pictures of Hollywood legends and Route 66 souvenirs. Just then, a friendly looking man greeted me. I told him I wanted a room for a night. He asked me, “Who would you like to sleep with tonight?” His question surprised me. I wasn’t sure what he meant. “Excuse me?” I asked him. He then smiled and proceeds to explain to me that he offers theme rooms of Hollywood legends. “Oh!” I said, feeling dumb. Since I was so tired, and I just want a room to take a shower, I told him “I don’t care who I sleep with.” As he rattled off names… “John Wayne, James Dean, Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe… ” By now I was more lucid and thought about the choices of who I would want to sleep with. Well… I told him: I never had a thing for John Wayne; I don’t need a complicated bad boy, like James Dean; while I find Clark Gable desirable, I’m not in the mood for a romantic interlude; and I find Marilyn too high maintenance. Then he said, well… there is Audrey. “Audrey Hepburn?” I asked. Yes, he replied. Good, I’ll sleep with Audrey any day. And the next thing, we started to talk about why we both like Audrey Hepburn: her amazing beauty and grace; her generosity and unpretentious self; and she died doing what she loved — by giving selflessly of her love and compassion to the needy.

I think that was our ice breaker… for the next hour or so, Sam: the motel owner and I talked and talked… I told him I was on an escape drive to find the true purpose of my life… and to find forgiveness for something terrible I did to someone I cared a great deal about. I told him about moving to a new town, buying a restaurant and lack of cash flow, dealing with negative people etc… blah… blah… blah… Sam in return told me about his challenges in life, and the trials and tribulations he had to deal with. We both found out that we bought our business at about the same time period. And that he was facing the same problems I was experiencing. The only difference… his place cost more money so he had a lot more to lose. However, he gave me hope that things will get better if I believe in myself. Whether my restaurant becomes financially successful or that I might have to face the choice of giving it up, I need to find what’s important to me and how it will affect my life.

It felt good confessing to a complete stranger on a road I’ve never traveled on before… and yet somehow, I know it was meant to be for us to meet. My intuition rarely ever steers me wrong if I choose to listen. Because Sam and his wife, Monica showed me some of the answers I was seeking during my two-day stay at El Trovatore. There are still a lot of uncertainties of what I’m facing… although, I know as long as I stay true to who I am — heart and soul. Things will eventually workout for the best as I continued on this journey of life…

This is Taco. El Trovatore’s official mascot. A homeless stray; who decided to pick the motel as his new home, eight months ago. His own journey of how he came to be their mascot would make an interesting story…

Here is the contact information for the motel. You can see images of what the rooms look like on their website.
EL TROVATORE MOTEL
1440 E Andy Devine Ave
Kingman, AZ 86401-Route 66
Tel: (928) 753-6520
Email: trovatore@suddenlinkmail.com

The Aloha Way…

Lately, I’ve been bombarded with people who… let’s just say… makes me wonder about humanity and how cruel people can be.  Perhaps I am just getting old or perhaps the world is changing for the worst as the advance technology created environments that desensitize our compassion and civility.  And then a few days ago, a man name Peter changed my mind and showed me that there is still hope for the world yet…

Peter discovered my restaurant while driving around a couple of weeks ago. He lives in Phoenix and works for a transportation company so occasionally, he would come up to Prescott. We chatted and I found out he was born in Hawaii but raised on the mainland. He was very impressed with my food and took a stack of menu with him. I thought he was nice but didn’t think much about him again. Well, he was so impressed by my food the first time that when he came back to Prescott a few days ago, he stopped by to see me. And after chatting for a bit, somehow the conversation shifted to him volunteering to stand in front of the restaurant’s sidewalk, with him wearing a Hawaiian style straw hat, leis made of shells, holding on to a ukulele he got for Christmas, as he stood in the sweltering heat for almost two hours — waving the restaurant banner at passing cars. The temperature was over a hundred degrees and he stood out there tirelessly, waving and smiling… and surprisingly, most of the drivers wave and smile back. Some even honked their car horn. His kind gesture brought in several customers and made my other wise slow day a lot better. And it wasn’t just the new customers he brought in that made it better; I was completely astonished that a total stranger — out of the blue — would do that for me because he wanted to help me succeed.  His only compensation was iced tea and my whole heart gratitude. He told me that what he did is “THE ALOHA WAY…” it’s their way of paying it forward. The word Aloha means a lot more than just a way for the Hawaiians to greet each other. It is their way of life.

Intrigued by Peter’s explanation of Aloha Way that I Google the term and found an article that explains more in-depth about the word Aloha. Click here to read the article. Besides the common meanings of hello, farewell, and showing love… the word Aloha holds within itself all one needs to know to interact rightfully in the natural world. These insights describe an attitude or way of life sometimes called “The Aloha Spirit” or “The Way of Aloha”. Very interesting article… I love it when I learn something new. And now that I see the word Aloha in a different light, I realized that Peter discovering my restaurant was no coincidence. I believe things happened for a reason — good or bad. Somethings are here to teach us lessons that we will use as we all continue to travel on our personal life journey. I realized that I’ve been trying to live my life the Aloha Way and I guess that’s why I ended up with a Hawaiian style restaurant in a small desert town, five thousand feet above sea level. And the challenges this little restaurant brings are priceless life lessons for me to discover and learn… ALOHA! 🙂

 

World’s Oldest Rodeo

Since I opened my restaurant a few months ago, it has been none-stop work, work, work… and more work. After taking over the restaurant, I discovered many challenges left by the previous owner. I’ve been working every day trying to increase business and rebuild the negative reputation the last owner had created for the restaurant. Slowly but surely, I am making very good progress. I am getting more repeat customers and my reputation of having amazing food is growing. And many of the customers the previous owner chased away are starting  to come back after hearing the restaurant has a new owner. However, I am still struggling to get the cash flow to flow… unfortunately, it is flowing more like a drippy faucet right now. And then there’s the employee situation — since the restaurant isn’t very busy, the servers are not making as much tips — keeping them has been a challenge. And finding a good server who can follow directions is even more challenging. It’s amazing when I asked people not to attach their resume but to cut and paste it in the email, and yet I still get so many people who didn’t bother to read and send the resume as an attachment. So much for being able to follow directions. Which was one of the criteria that I’ve listed in the ad.

Not that I’m complaining… I am still astonished that I was able to buy the restaurant with only my determination and trustworthiness. I am very grateful to be blessed with this opportunity. However, as much as I am passionate about it, I could feel all the hard work the last few months was starting to take a lot out of me.  I know I have to take care not to burn myself out. Finally, I forced myself to get away from the restaurant for a few hours last Sunday to have some fun with my camera. There was a big rodeo competition event happening and since I’ve never been to a rodeo, I thought it would be interesting to see what it’s like and of course, hoping to capture some good shots.  As I walked around the large stadium, taking care to not step on steamy green piles left from the hundreds of horses; the rodeo life is definitely very different from anything I’ve seen… people dressed in cowboy/cowgirl attires, horses in fancy saddles, menacing looking bulls huffing and puffing behind metal gates, large groups of calf and goats crammed into holding pen and country music blaring over the loud speakers; I felt like a fish out of water. It’s definitely not an environment that I would feel comfortable fitting in. However, the people were very friendly and polite. And I got to see some really brave cowboys in action. It felt good to get away from the restaurant and recharge my creativity using the camera.

There were many events. While it was amazing to see the brave cowboys in action and perhaps it’s my lack of understanding of the rodeo life; But I couldn’t help but feel sadness for the cruel treatment of the animals used in the events. They were chased… roped…

flipped and hogged tied…

Although, I have to admit… it certainly takes a lot of courage to grab the bull by the horns.

Or face the deadly possibility of being trampled by an angry bucking horse when you can’t hold on…

As I enjoyed all the actions of my first rodeo from behind the viewfinder — quietly I applaud and felt some satisfaction for the animals when I witnessed their determination not to let the cowboys win…

Don’t mess with me cowboy!

Let There Be Food

Last night I went to the one-year anniversary event for Foodportunity. The event is a networking opportunity for food bloggers, chefs, writers, caterers, restaurateurs, farmers and all food passionate people. Keren Brown, founder of The Frantic Foodie has been connecting Seattle’s vibrant food community for the last few years. She started Foodportunity as a way for food lovers to socialize, enjoy great food and keep up with the latest food trends.

I really admire Keren and her drive to success. She moved to Seattle a few years ago without knowing anyone and yet with determination and hard work, she managed to create a name for herself and business. I’m so glad she hired me to design and build the website for their very first event last July. It’s the most fun and tastiest web design job I’ve done.

Knowing there would be an array of different foods on display at the event, I took the opportunity to experiment more with the 50mm prime lens I’ve purchased last month. I didn’t want to use the flash so I had the aperture at f/1.8 and the ISO between 1600 and 3200; hoping that it would be fast enough to compensate for the low light situation. The results were not good; unfortunately,  most of the images were blurry and with the high ISO, had a lot of noise. I did however managed to use Photoshop to save some of the pictures. So… here they are. Although, the pictures doesn’t do the food justice; trust me… they were some of the tastiest food I’ve eaten and I am a tough food critic. 🙂 Enoy!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to taste test these sandwiches. Although judging from the picture, I’m sure they were good…

Now, get ready for some sugar high! 🙂

Teeth hurting yet? Well, I have one more for you to salivate on.

These cupcakes are to die for. They’re sooo… good!  And I don’t usually like cupcakes.

Viking Day – A Nordic Heritage Experience

One of the wonderful things about summer are all the different outdoor events and festivals. I spent the weekend being the official photographer for the Nordic Heritage Museum’s Viking Days event. What an interesting and educational experience… the people, the food and the culture discovery of the Nordic way of life. There were people dressed in authentic costumes and weaponry demonstrating traditional crafts, and perform reenactments of Viking life. I really enjoyed the traditional folk music, unique entertainment, and of course the cuisine from each of the five Nordic countries, such as Finnish sima, Icelandic vinarterta, Norwegian lefse, and Swedish meatballs. They were all very tasty, although my favorite is the dessert called  Danish aebleskiver. It’s a traditional Danish pancake but in a ball shape; they’re cooked in a specially made pan with 7 round holes. It was fascinating to watch the volunteers make them; they use only a skewer to turn and cook it. It’s always fun and exciting to attend these type of events; although, I’ve learned how little I know about the Nordic heritage. I know I will be going back to the museum to learn more…