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You may have gathered if you have been around these parts long enough I am a self-confessed introvert and proud. Sure I have my extrovert moments but through and through I am an introvert. So when my schedule starts to get full, or deadlines are coming round quick the best way for me to recharge is to just chill on my own. The easiest way for me to do that is just to get fully absorbed into a great book. I own a lot of books, I get recommendations from blogs, people online sellers you name it and often the book just doesn’t work for me (life is too short to finish a book if it doesn’t grab you is my thoughts) but when I get one that makes me find reasons to have time to read it well that is just everything. Maybe books isn’t your thing but whatever it is make sure you put as much time into prioritising time for that in your life as you would for anything else. Introvert or not we all need ME TIME!

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I think it can be easy to take for granted the beauty that surrounds us. We are all super busy rushing from appointment to the next so how often do we get to actually be in the moment. A couple of weekends ago I had put my car in for its service and knowing it was going to take the whole morning I decided beforehand to make the most of it. I took my new camera (more about that in another post) and my ice tea in my new and totally favourite Teavana travel cup and headed to the beach just a 5 minute walk from the garage.

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Often when you live in Scotland you understand that sunny days and heat are not something that happens frequently but when they do I honestly believe their really is nowhere else in this world quite as beautiful as Scotland. Now this saturday morning at Portobello Beach well it could have been somewhere in the med it was so lovely, hot and super sunny.

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This stretch of beach is popular with dog walkers, runners, cyclists and walkers and I can see why. It was so very peaceful. I always feel better close to water, almost at one.

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A really beautiful start to my day and weekend. I walked for ages and took loads of photos. I will be back again as the season come and go and most likely with more layers needed.

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Currently this month I have been……..

Reading: I am switching between Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life by Shannon Ables which I am really enjoying and Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey which I purchased at Bar 10 Ranch and is about a season in the wilderness which is so where my heart is at the moment.

Watching: The Olympics in Rio, man there is nothing more inspiring than watching this I am totally hooked.

Learning: Yoga, I have had a few 1-2-1 sessions and am really getting it. I will make a yogi out of me yet!!

Listening: The Lumineers I mean when don’t I listen to them but they introduced me to Langhorne Slim and of course my song of the summer is This Girl by Kungs.

Visiting: Portobello Beach, was their last weekend and it was so beautiful, I need to go back there more often.

Thinking: About my next place to visit. My feet are getting itchy to start planning some travels again and if you read my post last week you will see where I am considering but think my next big visit might well be to Sweden not somewhere I had mentioned in the post but I do love me the Scandic countries

Hoping: To get my motivation back when it comes to good eating and exercise. Its been a bit wonky since coming back from the US. But I am getting there slowly.

Feeling: Truly blessed, I have the most amazing people in my life right now. Seriously blessed and thankful.

Wishing: As one of the many lovely presents I got for my birthday I got a star (my own one) and you know how much I love stars so now I am eyeing up a travel telescope.

Planning: My trip to Belfast that is fast coming around. I can’t wait spending a lovely couple of days with my mentors exploring all that Belfast and the Giant’s Causeway has to offer. 

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As promised part 2 of my day and night staying at Bar 10 Ranch in Arizona visiting the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. So after having a bit of down time and settling into my wagon it was time to learn how to Skeet shoot (clay pigeon shooting to you and I).

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I have had some experience shooting before and really enjoyed this even with the kick back it gave. I also tried shooting with a pistol which really made me feel like an extra in a western film but found the pistol was impossible to hit the target, or maybe it was just I was terrible at it:-)

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Getting some 1-2-1 tuition with the cowboys that afterwards showed us how it’s really done, god these dudes were brilliant!

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After an amazing dinner again with the most mouth-watering steak your ever likely to come across thanks to their organic beef also sold at Bar 10 it was time for an evening horse ride. I didn’t do this but did get up close and personal with such beautiful and well treated horses. Instead we got a special tour of the original ranch that started the whole Bar 10 off about 40 years ago.

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I can’t even begin to explain how peaceful it was out here in the absolute middle of nowhere. The cowboys were telling me that their nearest neighbours are 50 miles away – wow! With the sun setting no pictures can possibly demonstrate how beautiful this place is and how quiet. There was so much about this place that sang to my heart but also being totally off the gird instead of being scary was so great. Getting the chance to be back one to one with nature was breathtaking. I had found my happy place in the hot desert what a contrast from my other happy place in the Arctic Circle where it was -35 degrees. 

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We got back just in time to see the cowboys unsaddled the horses and let them go and roam free for the night. When asked how do you find them again they told us as it’s the desert they will always go back to a man-made water pool and true enough that’s where you find them all the next morning. I haven’t been around horses much, they kind of freak me out as they are so big. These horse were insanely beautiful and not at all intimidating. You can just tell how well they are treated.

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After dinner a fire was started in the fire pit and just like you would expect we all gathered around the fire-place where these super talented cowboys and cowgirls started signing us songs accompanied with their guitars and violins. Never will I ever hear a more genuinely rendition of ‘The Devil Went to Georgia’ in my life. It was one of the most amazing evening and experiences I have ever had. It was simple but so brilliant, we toasted marshmallows, and all under a blanket of the most amazing stars you will ever see. Had you asked my that night if I would stay I think I would never ever leave there. Even now thinking back to such an unexpected and wonderful experience I would go back in an absolute heartbeat. I think everyone should have an experience like this in their lifetime. 

That experience extended to an evening out sleeping in a wagon, I won’t lie it was not the best nights sleep I had and making my way to the toilets in the pitch black well was interesting. Here was a fellow resident that caught my eye on one particular trip to the restroom.

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As the night wore on I actually looked forward to waking to visit the restroom because once your eye got used to the darkness you looked up and well it was breathtaking the stars where just out of this world – literally. Then when the sunrise I had fun taking photos with my big camera of very friendly Jack Rabbits that came real close to my wagon. 

This part of my trip just blew my mind away, I hadn’t been sure if it at all you know just not knowing what to expect but it was everything and more. We speak a lovely mid morning whilst it was still super hot lying under this tree watching the leaves move with the slight breeze. I love this memory as we sorted the world out together under this tree with my best friend – my happy place was truly found.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed me sharing some of my amazing memories staying on a cowboy ranch, it was a trip in a lifetime with memories that will last with me forever!!!

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So I hope you enjoyed last weeks peeks into my brilliant birthday celebrations in Las Vegas #GOBIGORGOHOME so the night before we were due to leave to experience staying on a cowboy ranch my friend pointed out this sign – it literally was a sign:-)

Early on a Wednesday morning when the heat was still scorching we headed out to a private air strip to take a Cessna plane to Arizona for what was to become one of my most amazing memories in my life to date. We were off to stay over night at Bar 10 Ranch in Arizona a genuine working ranch close to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 

During our vast research for this trip it became clear you could go to the South Rim of the Canyon where all the normal tours take you past the Hoover Dam and walk out on the glass walk way (not sure that would appeal to me since I am not so great with that kind of heights) or you could take the road less travelled to the North Rim, well of course we were going to do this and it was amazing.

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Justin, one of the lovely cowboys who live and work in Bar 10 Ranch picked us up from the plane, drove us in a buggy a short trip to the ranch where we had the best pulled pork sandwiches for lunch and checked in. Then back in the dune buggy he drove us for about an hour and a half to the North Rim. On route he stopped off to explain the rugged and bumpy terrain and the cactuses that all pointed north and how to survive in such stark lands if you ever needed too. Which trust me would be super hard, I can’t tell for sure but being out in the desert I would put strong money on this afternoon being 45 degrees when he encouraged us to take a small hike around the canyon. It was intense but amazing. I love this picture I took. Justin commented that to him this was his garden. Wow what a garden, he seemed to go into a trace and I can totally agree at the North Rim we were the only people there. There was 8 of us and some of the folks who were there were only for the day. They had commented that at the South Rim its super touristy. God I am so grateful we took the road less travelled as this afternoon being there it was well spiritual to be that close to such rugged beauty. Hey but don’t take my word for it, they say a picture says a thousand words well…….

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I really wasn’t sure what to expect of the Grand Canyon. I stupidly hadn’t been so keen to see it but after this and seeing the North Rim, I felt closer to earth if that is even a thing than I have ever done. I am not sure if you can see but at the water at the bottom right of this photo is a bunch of rafters who take 7 days to raft the Canyon and can stop off and be picked up by the guys at Bar 10.

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After our amazing trip to the North Rim we had to come back so that the day trippers could get their plane back. We on the other hand checked in for the night with a choice of staying in the main ranch pictured here, sleeping out in the stars up top or sleeping the night in a wagon. Well, no prizes for guessing which one we went for??

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Of course I am going to take the opportunity to sleep in an actual wagon. Wagon number 10 was my one pictured above. What I later found out which made it even more special was the fact that all 13 of the wagon’s were originals that had been restored and brought back to their original state and each one had a story about the epic journeys they had taken across such rugged terrains. I cannot tell you how much it felt like you were on a Western movie set it was amazing.

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My view inside the wagon, how amazing is that. It had a double bed inside and that was pretty much it but you didn’t really need anything else to be fair. The ranch had brilliant facilities, showers, toilets it even had snakes all in cages thank god as part of its attractions.

I took some time to just chill before our afternoon and evening activities started. I will share with you an amazing evening in the company of wonderful cowboys and cowgirls in part 2. Yeha!

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