Finding Peaks, Part 1

23 08 2019

It may come as no surprise that it’s important to me to give Z time outside every day. We stroll the neighborhood with Simba, cruise the waterfront for ducks and blackberries, and wander downtown window shopping and meeting friends for lunch at outdoor patios. Sometimes, we never make it farther than our own little patch of grass, but even there we can explore the strawberry patch and poke in the dirt under the tree and laugh at the butterflies.

play in the yard, PNW summer

Sometimes the yard provides plenty of entertainment.

But on the rare occasion that JBoo gets a day off work and we don’t have something else going on, we try to escape to the woods and mountains. And Z absolutely loves it, laughing and babbling the whole way. We’ve even managed to get Z to the top of a couple pretty cool peaks.

Back in June, after school finally let out and I said good-bye to that portion of my life for now, I asked J to take us into the mountains for a quick fix before we went to the flat expanses of north Texas. Off we went, J and Simba in the lead, Z and I huffing and puffing right behind, as we took on the beautiful peak of Sleeping Beauty outside Trout Lake. We’ve climbed this trail a couple times, but Z is topping 22 pounds these days and I was sweating like crazy up the steep inclines. J is patient and understanding, but I was determined not to slow us down too much so we still made decent time. The forest there is beautiful – lots of big trees and hanging moss and pretty undergrowth. Z and I discussed it all as we passed.

Sleeping Beauty trail 37, Trout Lake WA

And these are called TREES!! Hug them all you like.

The top of the trail emerges out of the trees as the rocky outcropping of Sleeping Beauty’s face. From afar, this ridge and peak look like the figure of a woman lying down, and there are legends in the native cultures about who she is and why she’s lying there. That day, we were simply there to tread upon her upturned face to enjoy the incredible views of all the mountains.

Sleeping Beauty Peak, Trout Lake WA

Yay Baby Z, we made it!

Sadly, we didn’t get the views, as storms were rolling in and the cloud cover concealed all the mountains except for the base of Mt. Adams right next to us. The wind picked up a bit and temperatures dropped a few degrees. J was proud of me for reaching the peak and prepared to switch loads so he could carry Z down the rocky switchbacks and I could take the pack and Simba.

Mt Adams from Sleeping Beauty, Trout Lake WA

That, Baby Z, is Daddy’s mountain, hiding in the clouds. Locals call it Mt. Adams.

Um, excuse me? I shook my head incredulously. I climbed up here with Z, I could climb down with Z. But JBoo didn’t understand. I could barely see my feet (he said) and the trail was potentially dangerous through the rock (he said). Why wouldn’t I let him take the baby?? But I held my ground and said I was confident I could do it and would never do something I thought would endanger my sweet child. He finally relented, though begrudgingly, and watched closely as we descended. I did just fine thankyouverymuch though J said I’m stubborn and ridiculous and probably several other things. And Z just laughed and fell asleep as we reentered the watchful trees.

The trip down, of course, was must faster, though my knees protested heavily as I tried to eliminate my natural bounce so Z could sleep. I sang him lullabies and told him new tales of Handsome Prince Zane and his trusty sidekick, Prince-Prance Simba. I tell myself he absorbs the stories, even in his sleep. Once back at the truck, it was clear J had forgiven me and the calm presence of the trees helped soothe his frustrations with his stubborn, brick-headed wife. The mountain air did wonders for us all and deep snores reverberated from crib, bed, and dog pillow alike that night.

views from Sleeping Beauty, Trout Lake WA

Just a couple of super happy brick-heads.

When asked, I really struggled to put into words what came over me on the top of that rock. Why was I suddenly adamant that J let me carry Z down the rocky trail? What did it matter? J’s brain always scrolls through risk analysis and worst case scenarios, and he was only trying to help. Was it pride? Lunacy? Serious mental breakdown due to mom hormones? A deep-seated need for bragging rights? Probably all of the above. I’m in touch with my limits enough to know what I can handle, and Z was never in danger, though I felt quite put out that J didn’t believe me. Thankfully it didn’t morph into anything ugly and we moved past it quickly as the tension and emotion dissipated in the trees.

On a totally different note, I hope Z develops his own love and appreciation for the forest and will hike and camp with gusto. I don’t want it to be something his parents force upon him, but a love affair that grows once he is old enough to choose his own hobbies. Any advice or tips on how to gently nudge him towards this without making him hate it (or me for pushing it)?

Stay tuned for Part 2: The second peak!!

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I’m Sorry, What?

10 08 2019

Um, apparently its August already?? I blinked and suddenly I’m theme-hunting for Z’s first bday party, a new school year is almost upon us, and I can’t even pee alone anymore because Z is so mobile. I apologize for the cliche, but…when did that happen?!

I mean, “Mom Brain” is a real thing. My watch has to tell me what day of the week it is and I accidentally called JBoo Jason the other day. I don’t even know anyone named Jason. My days run together in a delightful haze of ZTrain activity, exclaiming in astonishment as he learns something new every single day. Yall, he figured out how to clap his own hands all by himself, so we’re pretty sure Harvard is the only logical next step.

It must be the August Phenomenon that’s throwing me off: the signal that summer is drawing to a close and real life is about to resume. The itch to get to my classroom and arrange the furniture 84,928 times and catch up with my pals and get my little alpacas laminated and ready for the names of all my new 4th graders. I really love my alpaca board – its only gotten better with each passing year!

Image result for alpaca drawing

Mrs. Ewer’s herd of 4th graders

….Except there is no furniture to arrange or bulletin boards to prep or activities to devise or shining fresh faces to anticipate. I’m not going back to the classroom this year. And I feel like I nearly ripped myself in two over the decision and then repeatedly did so again and again in the months following my resignation.

What a weird world we live in. This shouldn’t be so complicated. But I cried the whole way home the day I submitted my official resignation paperwork. I cried again the day I stopped actively seeking a new position elsewhere. And I cried yet again the first time someone asked, “But shouldn’t you be grateful to get this time with your baby? You’ll never get it again.”

Of course I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to stay home with ZTrain. So many women don’t even get the option. But now I feel guilty for even wanting to continue working. Of course I’m devastated to leave my career, however temporarily, when I felt like I had just found my groove and was so thankful to have a job I was so passionate about. So now I feel guilty about all the students I might be letting down, and for depriving myself of that passion and purpose.

So. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t. I made a list of all the logical reasons that taking off next year makes sense and how everything will be ok. JBoo helped with the list, being the logical-minded half of our partnership. My amazingly supportive friends helped, too (thank you thank you). I can read over the list when my mind starts dangerously spiraling again, take a few deep breaths to get myself back under control, and scoop Z up for a bath after his swim in the toilet while I panicked.

My list is long and comprehensive and includes wisdom, insight, and a missing corner that Z ate. Things like “its just a year, I can return to teaching after that” and “I’m more than just a teacher, this doesn’t mean I’m not me anymore” and “being a mom is a superpower and a full-time job in of itself.” I confirmed with JBoo that he will in fact still love me even if I am no longer contributing financially to our family. He’ll even continue to love me with baby crunchies stuck to my arm, a suspicious stain on my shirt, and an unidentifiable substance clinging to my hair. Several friends reassured me that being a stay-at-home mom does not mean I can’t still be a strong, independent woman. Even though I have more conversations about poop than anything else, I’m still intelligent, creative, and worthy to hang out with. All good things.

Many things are up in the air for us at the moment, but I do plan to sub in the local school this next year. I’ll reread my list whenever I need it, but hopefully I’ll need it less and less. I’m trying to see the opportunities in this life change. I’m hoping to redirect some of my passion to other things now, and I’m excited to see how I can slowly involve Z in some of those things. JBoo is amazing at helping me reconnect with the optimist inside myself, and we’ve become good friends again. She’s bringing a lot of sunshine into my perspective. Thanks to J for relocating her.

Blogging is hopefully one of those things that I will get to put a little time into again, so stay tuned. I see nothing but blue skies ahead. 🙂

PNW baby at Elk Lake OR

My little PNW baby, eating a pine cone and digging in the dirt.





Our First Christmas

1 01 2019

One of the super fun parts of having a baby is getting to see everything in a new light. The little tot is experiencing the world for the very first time, and we get to witness that. For the first couple weeks especially, one of us could be heard exclaiming, “Aw, it’s his first time ________________!”

Some of these things were memorable enough to land in his baby book, like his first outfit, his first bath, his first (intentional) smile, his first hike.

baby's first bath

First time in the tub – not sure about all this splish-splash business…

baby visiting Natural Bridges, Gifford Pinchot

First family photo while on our first walk in the woods!

baby's first hike to Falls Creek Falls, WA

Snuggling with Auntie Em on his first hike to overlook his first waterfall! It was a big day.

Some were not so note-worthy, though at the time, equally exciting. His first diaper blowout, his first solid 6 hours of sleep, his first trip to the grocery store, his first selfie, his first time spitting up down the front of Momma’s shirt…twice in a row.

baby sleeping at Mexican restaurant

First time to Momma’s favorite Mexican restaurant…only 5 days old! Momma was hungry…

baby's selfie with mom

First selfie with Momma – obviously not impressed…

stroller ride on the waterfront, Hood River OR

First stroller cruise on the waterfront in Hood River – slept through the whole thing.

Just as everything is brand new for him, the whole parenting thing is brand new for J and I. We often look at each other with matching “what now??” expressions on our faces, usually followed by a Google search of whatever just happened. But so far, we have successfully kept everyone alive and even feel like we’re starting to get the hang of it. (Well, most days, anyway…)

That said, I was not prepared for the delight that was Baby’s First Christmas. We did just fine at Baby’s First Halloween – he wore a pumpkin onesie and hat to his doctor’s appointment! Baby’s First Thanksgiving was wonderful with the visit of Auntie Em and all our favorite holiday foods. But nothing spectacular or earth-shattering made these holidays any more exciting than they ever were, so I assumed we would glide right past Christmas with the same ease and normalcy. Oh how wrong I was.

baby pumpkin costume

I’m sorry I didn’t get you a lion tamer costume complete with a real lion – but you make a super cute pumpkin!

siblings together for Thanksgiving, Bingen WA

Yay for stretchy pants on Thanksgiving!! Little Z’s just mad he can’t eat any of it.

Something about the magic of Christmas for our little family just caught me by surprise. It didn’t happen during our hunt for a Christmas tree (“He hates the snow hitting his face!! HURRY!!”)…

Christmas tree hunt, Trout Lake WA

What is this cold wet stuff hitting me in the face?! Make it stop!!!!

It didn’t happen during the Christmas parade or our quick visit with Santa (“Whoa, not impressed, hurry before he screams!”)…

baby's first Santa, Hood River OR

Really guys? I just want some milk and a nap.

It didn’t even happen when we attempted to make Christmas cookies (“Just smear some icing on and eat it, I gotta feed the baby!”) or at the several Christmas parties we attended (“Who wants to hold the little elf?!”)………

baby in Christmas lights

Ho Ho Ho, let’s party!

I don’t know what changed, but tears filled my eyes as we snuggled together Christmas Eve in front of the stove in our matching jammies. Just the four of us, with some hot cocoa and Bing Crosby, everything seemed utterly perfect.

family matching Christmas pajamas

Yes, Grammy even sent pj’s for Simba. ❤

baby and his dog, best friends

Brothers and best friends.

Even though Z isn’t old enough to be all excited (or even really know what’s going on), our lives have changed so drastically since his arrival. We’re wearing matching pajamas, for one thing. Packages kept arriving full of baby items from the grandparents. The focus has shifted and J and I had several conversations regarding the traditions we want to start/keep/ditch for our own little family. And Z was just so enamored with the Christmas lights!

baby and Christmas lights

JUST.SO.SHINY.

Christmas morning was relaxed and quiet, with a few small gifts exchanged and stockings emptied. The magic from the night before seemed to have dissipated a bit in the morning sunlight. Maybe I was still a bit hormonal, or maybe there really was a little magic in the air. Whatever it was, I hope it comes back every year.

And now we head off into 2019 with a whole lineup of adventures in store. First up: figuring out how to function as a human and return to work with a baby who can’t sleep through the night yet!

Here’s hoping for another wonderful year! ❤





And Then There Were Three

7 12 2018

Every year around this time, I get nostalgic and reflective on the past year and like to think back over the changes that have happened. I don’t know…maybe all the family time puts me in a sentimental mood. This year, stopping to reflect has been easier than usual, as I had, arguably, one of the largest changes yet lying in my lap: I had a baby!

I gotta say, it was no easy feat. It felt like I was pregnant for YEARS. I ended one school year pregnant, survived a hot summer pregnant, started another school year still pregnant. I traveled pregnant, went hiking pregnant, walked a 5K pregnant, camped pregnant, marched a picket line pregnant, and squished into a swim suit pregnant. I finally went on maternity leave and my mom arrived from Texas, but that sweet baby was just too happy in his little womb-home. Giant and miserable and bursting out of even my largest maternity clothes, my doctor finally scheduled my induction at 41 weeks…and my water broke the night before we were to check into the hospital. My baby laughed in the face of my relief and still put me through 45 hours of labor before making his appearance – 8 days late.

pregnant profile

Whoa baby!

My long labor meant about a day and a half on the epidural, which equaled a day and a half without real food. No one warned me about that. The combo of drugs and IV fluids caused my legs to swell from the thighs down, turning them into mega tree trunks that devoured my knees and ankles and scared the bageebees out of me the first time I saw them. No one warned me about that. And after my labor progressed slower than a turtle crawling through molasses in winter time, my doctor declared it time to push – and I pushed for TWO WHOLE HOURS before she said he just wasn’t coming out and prepped me for my C-section. Which meant my body needed to heal from both types of labor afterward. NO ONE WARNED ME ABOUT THAT!!

new baby born

Poor child was battered and bruised from his fight into this world

But appear he finally did. I vaguely heard the doctor saying she was ready to pull him out, and despite warnings that he might not cry due to the trauma of his labor, his scream sliced through the medicated fog shrouding my brain. I immediately started sobbing. Thankfully, the drugs kept me from actually moving, but in that moment, I was flooded with so many emotions at once, I thought it would surely knock me off the table. (Instead, I fell asleep…) And people did try to tell me about that. How the first cry would be emotional and the first sight of him would be love at first sight, etc etc etc. And it kind of was, though I had to emerge from the morphine haze a bit before I could register what was happening. I didn’t have any idea what to expect regarding the C-section….I had never entertained the possibility that I would need one.

But thanks to modern medicine, I was fine, and baby was fine, and the weird shape to his head went away in just a few days. He latched right away and nursed like a champ from the get-go…once I was coherent enough to nurse. As I watched in amazement at this ancient, instinctual act that I was now capable of, I realized the time had come: we had to pick a name!

He stores up his sass in those cheeks

My whole pregnancy was filled with the Great Name Debate. J loved to scour the internet for Worst Names Ever, and I quickly created the hashtag #NOTYARGLE to add to my request for name suggestions. All our friends and family were in on the search, and even when we narrowed the list to actual possibilities, J and I decided to keep them a secret. We had two names that finally passed, and decided to choose which would be the first name and which would be the middle name once we met him in person. Although I had grown really attached to calling him Smudge, I knew we made a good decision when I saw it written on our door by the nurse: Zane Elliott. Perfect.

baby in a bear suit

I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine. He shall be my Squishy. ❤

Now I have this bundle of chubby cheeks and double chins to spend my days with. He is a fascinating creature, I must say. Every day he’s learned to do something new. Every day is a new experience for him. He makes funny faces and has no control of his flailing limbs and pees on me when I change his diaper. (I’m getting faster!!) Its an indescribable experience that leaves me exhausted and elated and constantly in awe of new life.

I’m even starting to get used to the more undignified aspects of new motherhood, like noticing my entire left side is soaked from leaking breast milk…while standing in line at the grocery store. Or opening the door for a friend who stopped by and realizing I haven’t showered in, well, I don’t even remember. Or finding myself smelling the mystery spot on my shirt to try to decipher it’s possible origin. Or making up song lyrics and wild dance moves to try to placate my screaming cherub at 2 am. And my favorite: changing a diaper only to have liquids start shooting out of one place or another…and catching them in my hand to try to keep the changing pad cover clean because I JUST washed it. Again.

new fatherhood

“Dad Talks” – deep discussions of the mysteries of the universe.

Despite the challenges, my heart bursts to pieces as I watch JBoo cuddling our tiny creation, explaining the world to him, or introducing him to Bob Marley songs. I never doubted for a second he would be a wonderful father, but seeing it in action really gives me all the feels. This new journey has already proven to be quite…an adventure. And its barely begun!!





Earliest Adventures

1 08 2018

I have to admit, I have become very lax in several areas of my life. Blogging for instance. Regular, vigorous exercise. Staying up past 9pm.

But the one that really gets me is the distinct lack of hiking and playing in the woods. I mean, c’mon, it’s my favorite thing, and I’ve lamented on multiple occasions about how great it feels when I get back to nature.

Though it was a pretty tough school year for me, and J and I had a ton of things going on, there is another huge game-changer that made an appearance in early March: a little hazy smudge on a grainy sonogram. We still affectionately refer to him as Smudge.

first sonogram

The doctor says its a baby, so I believe him. Welcome to the party, Smudge!!

So the school year (finally!) ended and my schedule cleared. But instead of mapping out backpacking trips and listing new trails to explore, I was organizing my baby registry and assembling furniture. I sorted through teeny tiny clothes and researched different diapering techniques. I sat on the phone with the insurance company discussing what they would cover and signed up for child birthing classes. And of course, I usually took a nap after each of these activities. But I really, really did want to get outside! I want Smudge to get that fresh mountain air and all the forest goodness as soon as he possibly can!

Memorial Day weekend, several of my besties drove up from Bend to hang out. One is a recent transplant from Texas, so I thought it would be fun to take her and her husband out into the wilds of Washington to demonstrate why I love it so much here. J said he knew of a secret waterfall that was a pretty short hike, so off we went. The hike turned out to be quite treacherously steep, but we somehow survived and the waterfall was definitely worth it.

secret waterfalls of the PNW, Washington Gifford Pinchot NF

Smudge has the best aunties in the world ❤

The last week of June, my parents and Hopey came to visit. My mom just couldn’t take it anymore! I could not WAIT to have my mom’s help getting set up for Baby Smudge and to get some quality time with the family. They decided to road trip the 2500 miles up here, and Hope declared everything was the biggest adventure she had ever had in her life! So, I decided to take them on an adventure of our own! Loaded with snacks and adventurous attitudes, we hiked the mile and a half or so back to Falls Creek Falls in the Gifford Pinchot. It was beautiful and exciting and so very fun. We had a few more adventures out in the woods, exploring the Ice Caves and Natural Bridges near Trout Lake. I’m fairly certain Smudge loved every step, every deep inhale. Gimme more, More, MORE!!

Falls Creek Falls trail, Washington, Gifford Pinchot

Chasing waterfalls

So after all my family goodness, we switched gears and drove down to California to see J’s family. We stopped along the way near the border of Oregon and California to camp one night, at a beautiful little spot with almost no one else around. We were next to a peaceful reservoir full of birds under the shade of big Ponderosas. It was a delightful night and I realized how much I missed camping, even if we were just car camping.

Topsy Campground, Keno Oregon

Edgar, the body pillow, joined us to help me sleep. He’s so sweet. Thankfully, we managed to find room in the tent for J, too.

Then I realized that if I’m truly going to raise a boy of the Pacific Northwest, there’s one more thing he needs to experience. It’s something I’ve not been able to fully embrace and in fact, I can barely do at all: swim in the frigid waters of a glacier-fed body of water.

The weather the last couple weeks seems to have been on my side in this decision, because temperatures have soared well into the 90s and even over 100 degrees several days in a row. By Saturday, I was ready to pack my bags and my dog and move to Antarctica. I DON’T LIKE THE HEAT. It’s uncomfortable enough to be 8 months pregnant, but now I’m also sticky, stinky, and grumpy. So when J suggested a hike and a swimming hole on Sunday, I couldn’t get in the truck fast enough! I even shimmied into my Easter-egg bathing suit that I look SUPER CUTE in and prepped Smudge for the exciting adventure ahead.

We hiked a section of the Salt Creek trail first, and I was a little put off on my body’s response. True, I’ll admit I nap more often than workout these days, and my body has been doing other things recently, like growing a tiny human. But hiking is just walking with a back-pack on! I can do that! But the amount of room Smudge is now taking up constricts my breathing a bit more than I would like and I have 25 extra pounds sticking out in front of me, throwing my center of gravity off. J was super patient with my many rest stops, and he even brought snacks! So by the end of the hike, I was filthy, super sweaty, and oh-so ready for that swimming hole.

We drove to the next spot and parked. J turned to me with a warning: this would be off-trail bush-whacking, and the way down might be a little steep. Did I still want to go? HECK YES – the best spots are always secret and hard to get to! So we grabbed our towels and headed down the slope through forest, prickly wild roses, various bushes and other undergrowth, and finally reached the water we had been listening to for most of the descent. There was a little sandy bank on the other side where we dumped our things, stripped off our outer clothes and dove in!

secret swimming hole, Gifford Pinchot NF Washingtion

Ok, so by “dove in” I really mean we waded in to get our ankles wet then raced back out as fast as our numb feet would take us….

Brrrrrr – even on a hot day that water is too cold. I can only stand it for a few minutes. I thought about sitting down in the stream but never worked up the courage. But I’m convinced Smudge will be able to handle the freezing waters, just like he’s going to be a champ at hiking through the woods and scaling mountains. Right?

I’m convinced we have no choice but to raise a nature-loving, tree-hugging, mountain-climbing, adventure-seeking little explorer, just like his daddy. Hopefully, we’re off to a good start!!





Just A-hiking in the Woods

27 07 2017

It’s no secret how much I love to hike. Outdoor adventures are the usual topic of this blog. And with school out, I have all sorts of time to head out into the woods!

The last month has seen more outdoor time than the previous 6 months combined. Oh, how lovely it’s been! The fresh air, the blood pumping through my legs, the quality time with my wiggly mutt…so good! Here’s a quick peek at some of our recent adventures.

Wyeth

Right before school let out, Simba and I needed some nature time, and J was busy working. We set out with a map and a few suggestions from our housemate to see what we could find. Our first attempt was to climb to Indian Point from the Herman Creek trailhead, but the overflowing parking lot sent us high-tailing to our second choice: Wyeth. Both are right down the Gorge, meaning everything would be gorgeous. We poked around the awesome creek that – of course – tumbled in several rapids and mini waterfalls. Ferns, moss, towering cliffs, swaying trees – a typical gorge hike. We really live in the coolest place.

Emerald Falls, Wyeth Trailhead Oregon Columbia Gorge hikes

Simba “swimming” at Emerald Falls – next time we’re climbing UP STREAM!

Green Point Ridge trail Columbia Gorge hikes Oregon

Lunch break about 3 miles up the trail. Shared a few nibbles with this handsome mutt.

The trail, which is actually called the Green Point Ridge trail, traverses the cliffs and flattens out pretty nicely after the initial climb. It was nice and peaceful once we tuned out the road noise below, and the lack of fellow hikers was a real plus. And since it parallels the Columbia River, the views are outstanding no matter where we looked. So awesome.

Trapper Creek Wilderness

J has been working his rear off this summer, so I’m really thankful I can tag along with him. Its perfect: he gets work done, I get to hike in the woods, and I squeeze in time with my Boo. All the things I want! A couple weeks ago, J invited me along for a trip to the Trapper Creek Wilderness, one of my favorite places. This particular area is unique in that it has old growth forest untouched by the logging industry. Most of the northwest has been logged at some point or another, but not here! The result is gorgeous, old growth forest, complete with monster-huge trees, lack of dense undergrowth, more diverse species of plants and trees, and the presence of old, gnarly snags that provide habitat for cool wildlife. If you’ve never hiked through an old growth forest, I suggest dropping everything and finding one immediately. Go!

Trapper Creek trail, Trapper Creek Wilderness WA GPNF

Simba, charged and ready to go!

Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Trapper Creek Wilderness WA

Don’t forget to pause and look up. The colors of the forest get me every time.

Trapper Creek Wilderness, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Dropped off trail to take a break by this babbling brook. Cold, refreshing, lovely.

saprophytes Trapper Creek in GP Forest WA

Saprophytic plants – just a sample of the awesome flora to be found. These little guys don’t produce chlorophyll!

trail work, Trapper Creek Wilderness WA

My local ranger hard at work fixing some trail tread. ❤

Gifford Pinchot NF, Trapper Creek Wilderness hiking

And of course, #SelfiesWithSimba – the best hiking buddy around!

Cascade Creek

For the 4th of July, we knew we had to get out of town. Far, far out of town. Simba is terrified of fire works and its hard to watch him panic every time one goes off. We headed into the woods with the truck loaded with camping gear and found an awesome spot on the banks of Cascade Creek, right by its joining with the White Salmon River. Since the actual holiday was during the week, we lucked out and had the whole place to ourselves! We didn’t do much actual hiking, but we did a lot of unplugged, kicked-back relaxing and it was amazing. I didn’t take many photos, since I really did turn my phone off, leave it in the truck, and enjoyed time in the woods undisturbed. Glorious.

Cascade Creek, Gifford Pinchot NF WA

Glamping!! Who wouldn’t want a campsite where someone left a giant “Race Base” sign?! (Don’t leave your crap in the forest. K thanks.)

camping in the GP, WA

I can’t help it. Our selfie game is just so ON POINT.
#SelfiesWithSimba is now a thing.

Wyeth (full circle)

And then with JBoo in tow, we hiked Wyeth again. Not quite as far, but more playing in the creek. The hiking experience is totally different for me if I’m with someone, compared to being alone. After all this time, J is still my favorite hiking companion. ❤

Emerald Falls, Wyeth, hiking in the Columbia Gorge

Emerald Falls….again

Wyeth trailhead, Columbia Gorge

He wasn’t even working this time!!

And after a nice long hike, Simba likes to partake in post-hike snuggle time. He’s such a cuddlebug. I love it.

snuggle puddle

I apparently make a pretty good pillow.

This turned into a longer post than I intended…thanks for coming along for the ride! Our other big hike is getting a post all of its own, and of course Simba and I have daily expeditions exploring the neighborhood. More big adventures are in the works, stay tuned!!

Anyone else out enjoying the great outdoors? Suggestions for other places in PNW I should explore? Tell me all about it!!





Just Another Monday Evening

25 07 2017

Mondays get such a bad rap.

Please don’t do that in public…

Every once in a while, Monday tries to redeem itself. Today began as most of my other summer Mondays began: rather insignificantly. I slept in a bit, had a bowl of cereal, took the mutts for a stroll. But then my Monday stopped its ordinary trajectory as I packed a small suitcase and a bag for Simba, loaded the new RAV, and headed south. J had an overnight trip for work, so I hit the road for Bend.

I made it to Casa de Davis, home to my friends MAsh who happen to be traipsing around Peru for the summer. I got Simba settled in and made my way across the west side of town to a little restaurant patio in the Northwest Crossing neighborhood. Several of my gal pals gathered with me for awesome food, drinks, and catching up.

friends for dinner, Washington Dining and Cocktails, Bend OR

You’re right, Monday, these ladies DO make everything better!!

We all used to work together for a tech company in downtown Bend but have since found other pursuits. Strangely enough, the CEO of our previous company was sitting at the table right next to us! He very kindly sent us a round and stopped by our table to say hello. I haven’t lived in Bend for 6 some-odd years and I still bump into old acquaintances every time I visit!

Time with these 3 awesome women would have been enough for me to call Monday my favorite day. Bend, however, had more in store for me. It had apparently teamed up with Monday to really knock my socks off. They really succeeded…

Back at MAsh’s house, I decided to take Simba for a nice long walk. Being in the PNW, I still had daylight despite the hour approaching 9. We walked through the neighborhood and down to the Old Mill District. Trying to keep Simba out of trouble, I didn’t notice the impressive show in the sky right away. I actually noticed the people first – everyone had turned towards the setting sun and everyone was taking pictures. Everyone. Children, dog walkers, cyclists, staff from the restaurants – EVERYONE. I finally realized why.

central Oregon summer sunset Bend OR

Yep, ok, I’ll stop and look, too.

The scene was quite incredible. The fiery colors in the sky were breathtaking, framed by the Three Sisters mountains and reflected in the waters of the Deschutes River. Ducks paddled and dove in the river, though there was an interesting hush over everything. The typical bustle and noise of the Old Mill was still for a moment while we all took in the amazing sight.

sunset over Old Mill, Bend OR

Bend, I really don’t need that much convincing to want to come back….

Continuing on our way, Simba and I finished our walk, circling by way of the Colorado bridge and admiring the changes since our last visit. This tunnel, for instance, didn’t exist when this area was my old haunt:

tunnel under the Colorado bridge, Bend OR

So many colors! (Yes, this is my favorite shirt…)

For such a quick trip, I’m heading home in a reflective, grateful state of mind. Grateful for the amazing people I have in my life, grateful for living in such a cool place, grateful for the ability to travel around, grateful for the mutt snoring on the floor next to me that accompanies me on these adventures.

Touche, Monday – I hereby declare you my favorite.

Let me just leave you with a picture of a snoring Simba. 😀

Boy, o boy, I wonder what adventures await us on Tuesday!








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