TobyMac Concert in Phoenix

For my twelfth birthday, Mom and I went to a TobyMac concert with my friend Cali and her mom. TobyMac, for those of you who don’t know, is a Christian hip hop artist. One of my favorites. There were five other Christian artists in the concert as well, all of whom are under his label.

image
Image by Lillian Dumas.

At 5:00 we got on the train and rode until we reached the Phoenix Suns Stadium, where the concert was being held. We got there about 6:00 and the concert wasn’t until 7:00, but it took a while to get to our seats. When we finally got there, Cali and I took a few selfies to pass the time and speculated about the coming music.

It started out with two songs from Hollyn. She’s this really cool girl singer, and she’s pretty new. Hollyn’s one of my top five favorite singers now, but I hadn’t heard of her before then. She sang Alone, and All I Need is You. The latter is actually my favorite song by Lacrae, a Christian rap artist.

download (2)
Image from I Am Hollyn on Facebook.

After her came Colton Dixon, an awesome guy with an awesome bleached mohawk. It was really hard to hear some of the lyrics because the music was so loud, and I figured out how to filter out background noise! All you have to do is press down on that little skin flap on the front of your ear, and you can hear way better!

Colton Dixon played five songs, the names of which I can’t remember, and then Finding Favour came on. I did spell it the English way on purpose. They did five songs as well. By this time I was getting fairly used to the volume of things, but once I made the mistake of covering my ears; when I uncovered them it was really loud.

Casting Crowns played next. I’d heard them a lot, but I didn’t know many of their songs really well. And then Building 429 came on. I hadn’t heard of them before, but I really like them now.

Britt Nicole, I think, had put on the best show so far. She had break dancers, and did things like falling off the stage into their arms while she sang. Britt did two songs that I knew, and then four more that I didn’t know.

After these five artists there was an intermission: it had already been about two hours! We stretched, and talked, and walked around. I couldn’t believe it was already 9 o’ clock!

image
Image by Mom.

After a twenty-minute intermission, we returned for the main event. TobyMac did another two hours!! I knew almost every song, and it was so fun! Hollyn is actually in TobyMac’s band, so she was up on stage then, too. I remember listening to those songs years ago, and thinking how cool it would be to see them performed live. It’s so cool that those daydreams came true!

Screenshot 2016-03-24 at 11.54.51 AM
Image by Lillian Dumas.

The whole thing was so incredible I can’t really describe it. If you’ve been to a big concert, you understand that sort of dumbfounded amazement. If you haven’t, all I can say is, you’ve never properly understood the word “loud,” or that particular sort of excitement that goes with carefully engineered noise.

Header image from Talking Stick Resort

The Gila Monsters of Arizona (Could They Eat You?)

At first glance, you wouldn’t think Mesa, Arizona, would be home to anything interesting. It’s a desolate desert, made up of dirt and spikes. The only plants here are incredibly painful to touch, such as the tall, famous saguaro cactus, and the evil tree-like substance called cholla.

Teddy Bear Cholla, the most evil variety.
Teddy Bear Cholla, the most evil variety.

After looking over this barren land more carefully, however, you’re bound to notice a couple kinds of wildlife. There are a few birds that roost on cactus spines, and a squirrel here and there. You can hear coyotes calling in the evening. But the really incredible creature that inhabits this strange place is the Gila Monster. Pronounced HEE-luh, this strange beast is named for the Gila River, a stretch of water that snakes 600 miles across Arizona. They’re one of only two species of venomous lizards that have currently been discovered, the Mexican Beaded Lizard being the other.

The totally bare landscape.
The totally bare landscape.

Possibly you’ve heard stories of Gila Monsters growing to giant sizes on desert islands, and eating any unfortunate sailors that take refuge there. I had. And though, as far as I know, it hasn’t been verified that they can kill and consume humans, I still believe it’s possible. For one thing, their two feet of length, though fairly small for a “monster,” is quite giant for a lizard, and is certainly big enough to induce extreme fear, freezing some people up. If it catches you, you’ll be lucky to make it. Why? For one thing, they don’t let go.

The gila monster Mom saw.
The gila monster Mom saw.

Gila Monsters will latch their teeth onto a human and keep them there, and not without good reason, looking from their point of view! If you could live for a year on only three to four meals, as Gila Monsters can, wouldn’t it be great to store up a whole human’s worth of meat? That could sustain a Gila Monster for all of its 20-30 years!

Another reason Gila Monsters can be deadly is their venom. It’s hardly poisonous to humans, but for smaller creatures it does a great deal. As a Gila Monster latches its teeth onto its victim, it settles in for the kill. As they chew, they work more and more poison into the body.

Now a bit about appearance. The Gila Monster has round scales, very uncommon in modern lizards, that cover its leathery skin. Its coloration is mostly black, with orange patterned bands across its back. Baby Gilas are pretty cute, actually, but still very painful.
The tongue of the Gila Monster reminds me of the back end of a fish. Strange? Maybe.
gilaMONSTER

I’ve told all the scary facts now, though! The end of this post is to motivate you, and encourage you to set another foot in the desert. Firstly, it’s incredibly unlikely that a Gila Monster will find you in the first place. They spend most of their lives in burrows underground, napping. Like most animals of that sort, they’re exceedingly lazy, sluggish, and slow. They’re rare to even see: We know some people in Mesa who have only seen one in eight years.

Mom saw one recently, but she didn’t leave the car to document the experience. She got a shot from the safety of that driving metal box. That’s probably your safest bet. So if you see a Gila Monster, take a picture and then continue on your way. Just stay out of his.

 

 

Friends in Oceanside

We have some great friends named Grace and Zoe. We’ve been close forever, but one little problem: We hadn’t seen each other in three years! The very day we were leaving San Diego (Feb. 15th.), they arrived! The Pattons were visiting their grandparents in Oceanside, an (obviously) ocean side town just a little north of Encinitas. So of course we went to visit!

Aside from just hanging around talking, laughing, and remembering things we used to do together when we were little, we went to the beach for a long time. At first we didn’t change into swim suits. Pacific Ocean water is freezing, and we weren’t planning on getting soaked. After a while, however, it became evident that trying to stay dry wasn’t quite possible. At first we just waded a bit, and kept the water below our knees. But then I accidentally splashed Gordon. Oops! That resulted in a huge water war, which Zoe and I got out of as soon as we could.

image
Left to right: Zoe, Gordon, Me (Lillian), and Grace

It was just Grace and Gordon for a while, until my own brother started chasing me. I ran, with many varying futile attempts at staying dry-ish. This ended, of course, in Gordon dragging me halfway across the beach, getting sand all over my already wet clothes, and dumping me in the ocean. After all this we decided we might as well put on our swim suits. That way we would have clean clothes for later.

image

Boogie boarding is old hat for Zoe, who taught us the tricks. None of us could get hit with particularly big waves without screaming out a little. It was so cold! We caught as many waves as we could, and then, all shivering, Grace suggested we go up to the sand and warm up. I never really realized how warm sand could be when you’re cold. We dug a gigantic hole, and Gordon, quite willingly, actually, sat in it. Totally burying him took a while, but we were satisfied with our work, after making the amazing starfish-man. Then they all buried me. It was really warm, but made me a bit claustrophobic.

The amazing Starfish-Man
The amazing Starfish-Man

We went out to the ocean again after this, and had tons of fun boogie boarding until we were completely numb. Frigid, we made our way stiffly to the hot tub and slipped into those relaxing waters. When we got back we had a fantastic dinner of spaghetti, with ice cream to follow, and played a game of telephone for old time’s sake (we always used to during dinner when we were little).

Our day with the Pattons was fantastic, and it was hard to leave, but we know we’ll be seeing each other soon. That’s the great thing about moving around!

Un Viaje a México

Hola, amigos! Today I’ll tell you the story of a short trip to Mexico that resulted in a gallon of horchata, a tamarind popscicle, and some very cheap dental work. One of the previous is not true, and I’m sure you’ll figure out which by the end of this post. So the story begins.

We were driving aimlessly through the desert of California in the RV with an end goal of making it to Phoenix, Arizona. We decided to park for the night in the RV lot of an Indian casino very close to the Mexican border. We got to talking to some of our neighbors at the RV lot, and they said you could get in and out of this part of Mexico with just your birth certificate and driver’s license, so naturally we decided to check it out the next day.IMG_1130

After waking up and preparing for our escapade, we drove down to the border and parked the car along with all the Canadians who come down here to escape getting freezer burn. To get into Mexico you literally just walk through a turnstile and, BOOM, you have entered the land of cheap dentistry. (This is the part of the story where you find out which one of the three results of our trip to Mexico listed above is not true. ) We walked past the dental shops, determined to venture deeper into the town.IMG_1129

Just for the record, Mexico is exactly like it is in the movies. Exactly. People are always standing on the sidewalks beckoning you into their shops and restaurants. There’s always a couple guys who shout,  “Hey you with the excellent hair, check out this tamarind Popsicle. It’s delicious and I can tell you want it. Tell you what, I’ll sell you two of them for a buck fifty ’cause I can tell you’re hungry for something sweet!.” The Popsicle was pretty much just sugary so it wasn’t incredible, But the horchata (a spiced, sweet, milk drink) was so good. SOOO much better than the stuff you get in the states. Eventually, we felt that we had explored enough and we made our way back to the exit door.FullSizeRender (11)

To get out ,we just walked through some more turnstiles and showed a Border Patrol officer our birth certificates, and BOOM, we were back in the states, headed to our RV and then to Phoenix, Arizona.