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Grand Canyon's beauty realized after flight

My first and most memorable airplane ride was on a six-passenger, single engine airplane. My husband and I were visiting the Grand Canyon, when we came to an airfield offering 15-minute, 30-minute or 1-hour rides through the Grand Canyon. We decided to take the 30-minute ride and joined another group on the trip.

The pilot flew us down into the canyon, where we could look up to see the top of it. As we traveled through the canyon, the pilot would roll the airplane from one side to the other to allow the passengers on each side of the plane to take pictures and view the mules carrying tourists down the steep canyon walls, and to see the rafters bobbing along the turbulent Colorado River, and the campground at the bottom of the canyon. After twisting and turning for 30 minutes through the steep walls of the Grand Canyon, the pilot flew us up and out of the canyon.

I was never so happy to see level ground. While we were landing, I put aside my thoughts of using the air-sickness bag.

I stepped off the plane and wobbled away with a deep appreciation for the size and beauty of the Grand Canyon.

After returning home, I read about a single engine plane that had crashed in the Grand Canyon. This news confirmed the fears I'd had on our Grand Canyon flight. The airplane ride could have been my first and last, but I still love flying - especially on the large multi-engine commercial airplanes.

Littleton, Colo.

Son takes mom on her first plane ride

In the spring of 1981, my husband and I came home from our Saturday morning jobs at the post office to discover our son - who lived and worked in Kansas City - and his fiancee sitting on our picnic table.

Unbeknownst to us, our son had been taking flying lessons and had landed a small plane on the 'cow pasture' landing strip near our house.

When he invited me to go for a ride, I quelled my feelings of apprehension and put my trust in my son. My trust was well-placed, and it was an uneventful, yet memorable trip.

Enterprise, Kan.

Mother not impressed with ride over Missouri River

I will never forget my first - and last - airplane ride! My oldest son talked me into it. He is a pilot and has flown all sorts of planes, including jets. At the time, he had a small plane that he kept at a local airport. Before we took off, he said that if I got scared, he would fly back to the airport at once.

I got in the plane and held on tight as he started it. It wasn't too bad, but once we were high in the air, it sounded like someone was throwing gravel against the plane. He assured me it was only the wind.

He started to circle over the Missouri River, and I - of course - looked down and imagined us falling in it! I said slowly and shakily, 'I want to go back down.' He said OK, but that we would first have to circle around in order to go back to the airport. I hung on, and we did just that. He helped me out of the plane, and I wanted to kiss the ground. I have not been in an airplane since!

Franklin, Mo.

Flight eases mother's initial fear of flying

My all-time favorite airplane memory is about my mother.

When she was around 76 years old, she started visiting my house in Missouri. The first time she came, I talked her into flying, but she didn't want anything to do with the window seat. About halfway to Springfield, Mo., she decided she wanted to sit next to the window so she could look at the clouds. She thought they were very pretty.

From then on, she always flew when she came to my house, and she wanted to sit by the window every time after that.

Galena, Mo.

Let's get technical

What modern technology would you say is your favorite, and why? Perhaps it's e-mail, or the microwave or cell phone. Maybe it's the digital camera or the Internet.

How has your favorite modern technology item helped make your life simpler - or perhaps just more enjoyable? What did you do before it was available?

Tell us your stories about your own experiences with modern technology and how these items have affected your life.

Send your letters to CAPPER'S, Kate Marchbanks, 1503 S.W. 42nd St., Topeka, KS 6609-1265.

Rootin' Tootin' Ranch-Style Recipes

When your cowboys and cowgirls come home hungry after riding the range, do what cowboy cooks have done for generations. Add the tang of tomatoes, the zip of peppers, and the sweet heat of onions to perk up any meal.

Put a little salsa in your life, and rustle up some of these authentic ranch recipes, which have been gathered from real-life chuckwagon cooks from Wyoming to Texas, as part of an effort to preserve the heritage of cowboy cooking.

For more great recipes, visit www.PaceFoods.com.

Shredded Pork Burritos with Green Chile Sauce

These robust burritos are simple to make and taste great.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jar (16 oz.) medium chunky salsa
1 jar (16 oz.) mild chunky salsa
1 cup water
1 cup chopped red pepper
1 cup chopped green onions
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup lemon-pepper seasoning
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 boneless pork loin roast (4 lb.) netted or tied
1 can (4 oz.) diced green chiles
12 flour tortillas (10 inch), warmed
1 package (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook until tender. Stir in salsa, water, red pepper, green onions, cilantro, lemon-pepper, cumin, chili powder and lime juice.

Put roast in a 5-quart slow cooker. Pour salsa mixture. over the top. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, until meat is fork-tender. Put roast on a cutting board; let stand for 10 minutes. Use two forks to shred pork.

Spoon 5 cups salsa mixture from slow cooker into a 2-quart saucepan. Stir in chiles. Cook over medium-high heat to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook and stir for 15 minutes, or until mixture thickens.

Spoon 1 cup pork down center of each tortilla. Top with 2 tablespoons salsa mixture. Fold sides of tortilla over, then fold up ends to enclose filling. Divide remaining salsa mixture and cheese over burritos. Yields 12 burritos.

Rib-Eye Steak

This Southwestern steak is sure to satisfy the hungriest of appetites. Try it and see for yourself.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 beef rib-eye steaks (about 1 pound each), cut to 1-inch thickness
1 jar (24 oz.) picante sauce
1 package (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon seeded and minced jalapeño pepper
1/2 cup chopped tomato

Heat vegetable oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add steaks and cook for 10 minutes, or until medium-rare, turning steaks halfway through cooking.

Add picante sauce and heat mixture until it comes to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 10 minutes.

Evenly divide and sprinkle cheese over steaks. Cover and cook until cheese melts.

Cut steaks in half. Top each portion with even amounts of onion, jalapeño pepper and tomato.

Yields 4 servings.

Picante Peach Cobbler

Here's an exciting twist to a favorite old-fashioned dessert.

1 jar (24 oz.) picante sauce
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 can (29 oz.) peach halves, drained and chopped
1 refrigerated pie crust

Mix picante sauce, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a 3-quart saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat to low; cook and stir for 2 additional minutes, or until mixture thickens. Stir in peaches. Remove from heat and let cool.

Heat oven to 400°F. Let pie crust stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, or until it's easy to handle.

Pour peach mixture into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate.

Gently place pie crust over peach mixture; crimp or roll edges to seal. Cut slits in top and bake for 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Serve warm. Yields 8 servings.

Fiesta Beefy Enchilada Skillet

Here's a quick and easy way to enjoy the delicious flavor of enchiladas.

1 pound ground beef
1 jar (17.5 oz.) enchilada sauce
8 corn tortillas (6 inch), cut into 1-inch squares
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided
Sour cream
Chopped green onions

Cook beef in a skillet until no longer pink; drain off excess fat. Add enchilada sauce, tortillas and 1/2 cup cheese.

Heat to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until mixture is heated through. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.

Serve with sour cream and chopped green onions. Yields 4 servings.

Together With God

I am not a good traveler, especially when it comes to flying. It's the fear that makes me recoil at the very thought of getting on an airplane. When I do have to fly, I follow my mother's guidance - just say a prayer asking for God's protection, and then sit back and enjoy the ride.

That good advice has helped me board many flights, and it is practice that can be used in other situations. Turning your fear over to God, and allowing Him to worry about the outcome provides a stress-free trip, but it takes faith to make it work.

I have a friend who disagrees with me. Her thought is that fear is to be respected and not ignored or pushed away. Fear is a warning from God not to do something that is stupid or dangerous.

Whichever way you view fear, it will still take faith to get you through the worst of it, and as far as I'm concerned, it's the faith that gets me on those planes - not the saying 'It's as safe as driving your own car.'

Father, Thank You for providing us the opportunities to improve and deepen our faith. Help us through those stressful, fearful situations in our lives by strengthening our faith in Your wisdom and protection. Amen.

D. Susan Rutz

A Letter from Kate

Dear Readers,

When I travel, I prefer to go by airplane. Not only is it the quickest way to get from one place to the next, but it also gives me the opportunity to observe people from different walks of life.

Airports are filled with myriad life stories - tragic or fascinating - from people whose lives have been much different from my own. While our lives and reasons for traveling might be very different, destiny has crossed our paths, and we are immediately connected by a plane ticket.

It is this fascination with new people that pushes me to chat with the person next to me. A simple smile and 'Hello!' helps me get a feel for their personality and has - on many occasions - opened a world of conversation. I remember one particularly bumpy flight from Indianapolis to Kansas City - my least favorite flight of all time, I might add - when the wonderful woman sitting next to me talked with me and helped me relax as our plane flew through a terrible storm. We talked about our family, friends and a dozen other topics. When the plane landed, we went our separate ways, but I will never forget the instant friend I made on that less-than-enjoyable flight.

The next time you fly, be conscious of and courteous to the people around you. Take the time to talk to them and get to know them. Find out their stories and consider that, at any moment, your life can change for better or worse, and you might be the godsend the person sitting next to you needs to help get through a troubling time.

Kate Marchbanks