Day 5: There and Back

 I am awake. And I’m excited, not just because of the amazing sunrise or the way the sun sets the mountains behind me on fire! 

 I am excited because today,  for the first time, I know where I am going. Years ago I visited Collosal Cave Mountain Park and fell in love with the surrounding desert, so when I realized that I could make this one of my stops I was ecstatic. I am ready to go back! But I’m also working on embracing the here and now, so before I hit the road, Rocky and I set out to explore one of the trails at Rock Hound State Park. 

On our journey, I spot a cottontail. He freezes on the path, waits for us to get closer than hops a little farther down the path. I can’t help wondering if I’m following Peter Cottontail down his bunny trail or if I’m Alice being led to wonderland!   

 At the end of my walk, I notice this sign. And I think: if this was the end of the road for me, it’s a good place to be.  

 On my way back to the interstate I discover a Walmart!!  Yay! So happy to stock up on real food.

In the parking lot I meet, Tim.  He strides over to my car with his white cowboy hat, black vest, faded jeans and cowboy boots wearing a smile beneath his oh-so-western mustache and a sparkle in his blue eyes and says, “Maine, now you’re a long way from home.” 

I spent the next half hour learning bout Tim: retired after thirty years in the military, Forester, engineer and now Pecan Farmer.  He tips me off to breakfast at Si Senorita and I have my first Mexican breakfast…Yum!!   

 Per my usually ADHD while driving,  I wander off the interstate in search of another historical Fort. This time I find it!  Rocky and I head down the 1.5 mile trail to the fort. He really isn’t up to the task and I find myself carrying him most of the way. 




After about a mile I am stopped by two border control officers. They want me to know that they are after an illegal who is here in the woods. He’s wearing a red hoodie. I hesitate for a moment, then decide to finish my hike. 

I meet a few people, but no red hoodies. And here’s where I’ll probably irritate a few people. When I think of illegal immigrants, I don’t want them crossing the border illegally…but then I think of the person and I wonder what they are running from that would drive them over the mountains and into this desert.  It’s easy to feel strongly about a concept, but more difficult to apply that to a living, breathing person. 

 I considered another tale about finding the illegal hidden away in my car….

I arrive at Collosal Cave and it’s everything I remember. 

Camping is only $5 and there are only two other people in the section of the campground I’m. I pick a site way in the back so that I can have privacy for the first time this week!  

 The one strange thing… The gate to the campground is locked at 5 and opened at 7:30 am. There is no cell reception, but if need to, I can run a 1/4 mile to the 911 phone that rings automatically to the sheriff.  

Filled with plans for morning and thankful that it’s not dropping below 60 tonight, I settle in to sleep.  


First Step to Fitness at Any Age: Persevering without Preservatives

First step to Fitness for Any Age: Persevering without Preservatives

When you hit forty, a plethora of bodily function expirations come due.  Suddenly you need glasses. Then your body’s thermoregulation goes out the window – sometimes you want to toss your shirt, and well, all of your clothing along with it. Your joints begin to creak and pop. The dryer adds to your body’s dysfunctionality by shrinking all of your clothes.Expired-SS-Post-thumb-615x300-74166

Wait. That’s not the dryer. It’s your metabolism coming to a screeching halt.

I know, you twentiers are sitting there saying, “Exactly what part of this can help me?” When I was twenty, I worked closely with a dietician named John. I wish I knew where John was now. I’d tell him how right he was! You see, John used to fuss at me about all the preservatives I stuffed into my body. I’d laugh and say, “This body is being perfectly preserved by all these preservatives.”


I was wrong!

I am a Registered Nurse with over a quarter of a century’s experience in health care, but I am not a dietician or nutritionist. What I am is a woman who has tried and tested almost every weight loss method in existence. I spent many moons running up that down escalator an  have experienced brief periods of success. But each time it was only through extreme measures. Here are a few:

  • 1000 calorie a day diets – Enter Hangry (hungry and angry) woman
  • Low carb / high protein diets – could have killed my kidneys!!!!
  • Various diet supplements including Garcinia
  • Metabolism boosters
  • Prepackaged frozen diet meals
  • Diets that dictated exactly what food to eat when and where and how….
  • Various exercise videos
  • One or more hours in the gym daily, plus running long distances
  • Hiking long, tall mountains (which is something I actually enjoy, but isn’t the most efficient weight loss program)
  • The list goes on.

Bottom line. None of these things lasted! Sure I lost weight, but I was miserable. I was Hangry, or envying other people’s food. The pills made me jittery and shaky (which is never good when you’re starting an IV). I struggled to keep up with those rigorous exercise routines.

And then about a year ago, I started to learn about clean eating. Insert I told you so from John, here.IMG_5258

Food is fuel. Your body breaks it down and sends it off to do a specific job. When you give your body something it doesn’t know what to do with–like excessive amounts of sugar, simple carbs (like pasta and bread), and preservatives–then your body just packs that away for future use. The fat manufacturers in your stomach, thighs, butt and back of the arms all kick into high gear. And before you know it, your belly is sitting on your lap.

When you follow a clean balanced diet, your body gets what it needs. No more confused, stuffing of unknown and excessive substance to those problem areas.

The first step to clean eating is to eliminate all those preservatives from your grocery list.

  • Shift your shopping pattern to the outside aisles of the store – this is where the fruits, vegetables, dairy and meats are.
  • Then head down the frozen vegetable and fruit aisles. You do need to read labels here, because some frozen fruits have added sugar and some vegetables have been partially prepared.
  • Do go down the spice aisle. Clean eating does not mean bland eating. I use lots of Mrs. Dash, but you can use any spice you’d like. Also get unprocessed sea salt like Celtic sea salt.
  • Do go down the Oil aisle – but not for vegetable oil. Instead choose Olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil.
  • Do not go down the soda aisle…. I know. It’s hard
  • Do not go to fast food restaurants
  • Until you’ve really mastered a clean diet, it’s best to avoid eating out in the beginning
  • Drink water. Lots of it. You should pee clear pee!

Clean eating is only a first step to wellness and I know it’s huge! But start here. In my next post I’ll talk about avoiding blood sugar/ insulin spikes.

Here’s a before and after photo for you!  Hope this inspires you!

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Teri Lee is a Registered Nurse working in the ER, Beachbody coach, & Author of Troubled Spirits a young adult paranormal novel. You can follow her on facebook for more fitness tips at