Colors of Winter

15 01 2017

Ok fine, I did it. I pulled out my DSLR and my fingerless gloves to give Winter another photoshoot. My first winter in Twisp with J, I did the same thing – I couldn’t NOT take photos of the splendor outside my windows (click to see the post). The icicles intrigued me most and I took hundreds of photos that day.

Time to try again. This time, it wasn’t so much the snow that piqued my curiosity, but rather the hidden color peeking out of it. On my long walks, I’ve been noticing how the world has taken on the look of an old black and white movie. But if you look closer, colors that would normally just blend in with the landscape become happy contrast against the blurred monotony of snow.

The ordinary becomes extraordinary. The bland becomes brilliant. The boring becomes the central focus.

The cobalt of the newspaper boxes pops in the snowbank. The hunter trashcans and royal recycle buckets decorate the curbs. The various greens and browns and grays suddenly all vie for attention. LOOK AT ME! I’M SO PRETTY AGAINST ALL THE BORING WHITE!!! Little things scream at out at me as I start searching – once my focus has been adjusted, color is everywhere!

buried fire hydrant, hood river winter 2017

Peek-a-boo hydrant


recycle hood river oregon winter 2017

Recycling is beautiful

The cold temperatures have kept everything frozen, so it’s still crisply white – no gray sludge to be seen!

rosebushes in winter PNW 2017

Pretty rose hips


snow wagon Hood River OR winter 2017

Primary colors

They obviously don’t have kids or that huge yard wouldn’t be so untouched. (Do you wanna build a snowman..?)

winter leaves PNW 2017

Even the browns are lovely


snow drifts Hood River 2017

50 Shades of Gray….


Rocky Road, Hood River 2017 winter

Side of Rocky Road

And my favorite little splash of color:

snow dog PNW winter 2017

Yesterday the sun peeked out but today is gloomy once more. Snow flakes are dancing and I’m thinking it’s time to venture out of our own neighborhood. I’m sure I can rouse Simba from his fireside rug to head out for one or two more adventures before it’s time for reality to return.

Who knows what magic we’ll find next!!



Snow Wonderings

13 01 2017

This has been one hell of a winter. It’s 9am on a Friday, and instead of greeting my students at my classroom door, I’m sipping cup-o-joe number two in my jammies. Again. Simba is snoring loudly in front of the stove and my car hasn’t moved in 3 days.

We’re buried in snow, yall. Like, a LOT of snow. Feet of snow. And the temperatures aren’t warming up, and the forecasted rain never came.

Hello extended break! School has been canceled almost every day this week. We made the attempt on Tuesday, but they had to delay three hours. That’s a lot.  Nine days off this winter so far. My poor kids are going to be in school through July at this rate…winter wonderland Hood River OR 2017

So I’ve been in a weird place. I haven’t had this much down time in so long I forgot what to do with it. Fear not, it didn’t take long – I dug back into my pre-grad school hobbies and have been pulling all sorts of things out of the closet. I’ve been knitting, writing, cooking, talking to my mom, and takingthe longest tromps through the snow with Simba. I dug out a new knitting pattern and hit YouTube to figure out double-pointed needles. I started making a photo book of trip photos and ordered a super cute fleece jacket for Simba. I sat on my bed staring at my DSLR camera, trying to decide if I should try again at non-Instagram shooting. It hasn’t happened just yet….but I did charge the battery….


It’s the tromps through the snow with Simba that have been the best. I run around in my base layers all day, so when it’s time to tromp, I can throw on my outer layers and off we go! (Ok, 20 minutes later when I finally get ready, off we go…)

Down the driveway, skidding out in the street, stumbling through the piles left from plows and shovels, slipping on hidden ice. Simba spins out on the ice like a cartoon and I clunk along in my huge boots and 15 layers of clothes like the little kid in A Christmas Story.  We head down the hill and turn west. The main street has been for-real plowed, but the sidewalk is buried. The first couple days, we broke trail, wading through knee-deep fluff, Simba following behind so he didn’t have to swim. By now, the path has been packed down by boots and skis and snowshoes and paws.

Sometimes we turn uphill a couple blocks over, up to the trail that winds past the pastures and orchards. Other times we turn downhill, plummeting down the trails through the blackberry thickets towards the big fancy neighborhoods at the bottom. Simba runs back and forth, sticking his whole head in the snow, floundering every time he falls off the path. It’s exhausting and exciting and tons of fun.snowday Hood River OR

The snow is so so quiet. Even in the daytime, we rarely run into anyone else. The frozen world is still and muffled, blurred around the edges and shiny. Night is my favorite. The snow is magical in the glow of streetlights; the sky doesn’t quite get dark and the houses all look warm and inviting.

I wonder as we wander. My mind weaves stories about the people in the glowing windows. My imagination plays with tales of the winter birds twittering around the bare trees. My heart wonders about the folks that don’t have glowing windows or 15 layers. Simba ponders if he can get his leg high enough to pee on that tree.

For some reason, the snow wonderings also make me nostalgic. And make me miss my momma. I talked to Hope for a long time on the phone a few days ago, and yesterday Ijumped online and bought a ticket to go visit. My Texas family balks at the negative temps and piles of frozen precipitation, but I can tolerate 95 degrees in April for 6 days with my folks. I daydream about me and my momma in the houses I pass, wishing she lived closer and could come hang out.

Then we end up back at our own house, with it’s own glowing windows and J waiting inside with steaming mugs of hot cocoa. I emailed the plane ticket to mom so she can block out the week on the calendar, and I curl up on the couch with my JBoo. I might ache for the family I left in Texas, but this snowy wonderland is my home now.

And I love it.



winter layers Hood River OR



Snow in the New Year

4 01 2015

Some people ring in the new year. Some people toast it in, and others sing and dance it in. Not us – oh no. We snow in the new year!

(Dang it, that made more sense in my head…oh well – just go with it.)

We didn’t quite make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve, but J and I were both fine with that. Maybe we’re old and lame, maybe we just value sleep and don’t care about the ball drop. Besides, New Year’s Day held more possibility for celebration – adventure style!

Since we both had the day off work, it was obvious we needed to spend the first day of 2015 in the great outdoors. We packed a whole assortment of gear (snow pants, snow shoes, cross-country skis, back-packs – we were prepared for just about anything) and hit the road. Snow was out there somewhere, and we intended to find it!

And find it we did, up on the lower slopes of my bestie, Mt Adams. He looked so stunning, blinding us with his snowy white shoulders in the bright sunny day. It was a glorious day to go play in the fluff!

smith butte snow park, mt adams wa

Why Adams, you’re looking mighty dashing this fine winter day!

We stopped at Smith Butte snow park and clambered excitedly out of the truck. Simba raced in circles, I fell into the snow drift in the ditch alongside the road, and J paid no attention to either of us. Despite all the gear we brought, we decided to just hike up the road, the snow being neither deep nor groomed for skiing. So off we went!

I’m sure there are folks who will think this was a terrible way to start off the year. No party, no bubbly, no shenanigans. But not to me – quite the opposite. I can’t think of a better way to get the new year off to an excellent start.

I had my two best guys there with me:

snow hiking at Smith Butte, Mt Adams WA

My two handsome fellas – the best adventure buddies around 🙂

I had the most gorgeous day to enjoy out in a gorgeous forest:

smith butte snow park near Trout Lake, Mt Adams WA

Sunshine, blue skies, and stunning scenery – yes please!

And we even had nature’s glitter falling all around us:

snow glitter, Mt Adams WA

Even nature celebrates with a little sparkle….

After all that wonderfulness, we had a warm house to go home to and warm dinner to fill our bellies. Yep, a great start to 2015 if you ask me!

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions – I actually use my birthday for reflection and planning, not the turning of the calendar. But I have a good feeling about this next year, a really good feeling.

I hope all of you had a great New Year’s celebration, whatever kind of celebrating it was for you. Cheers to a wonderful 2015!!


Snow! Hurry, everyone outside!!

4 03 2014

I love when people get all huffy and self-righteous on FaceBook, griping about how much they hate when others post about such-and-such. Especially the weather. “Guess I’ll just check Facebook instead of looking out the window today, since every friend I have is posting pictures of their car’s temperature reading!”

Two things: 1) be grateful you have friends at all and 2) take them out of your newsfeed if you don’t want to see their posts! I, for one, happen to love seeing all the posts about the weather. Yes, we all know I’m a big weirdo, but I also grew up in a ranching/farming family, where the weather was everything. Besides, I have friends and family all over the place, so it’s fun to me to see the snow from my friends in Bend the same day as a shot of sun and shorts from a buddy in Texas.

Isn’t life just grand?!

This winter has been completely nuts for the whole country. Winter was late coming for us here in the northwest, and every time it has snowed here at my house, the rain follows almost immediately and turns my beautiful snow to absolute muck. Yuck.

So when I climbed out of bed Sunday morning and saw the blanket of white with more still falling from the sky, I jumped up and down! Yay! Simba get dressed, let’s go outside!! We took a nice long walk in it – probably 3 inches already covered the ground – and Simba was his goofy, snow-loving self.

finally snow at Mt Adams Ranger District, WA

Yay for new snow!!

J had to spend the morning in town, but he promised we would play in it when he got back. And we did! We grabbed our cross country skis and headed up the road to a snow park for a little exercise.

By this time, the snow had been tumbling down all day without pause – deep, fresh powder on the ground! The snow plows had yet to make it out, so the roads were super sketchy, and J’s little Toyota got a little squirrelly. Man, it was the best kind of snow, too. The dry fluffy stuff that sticks but isn’t so heavy.

We finally made it to a snow park and marveled at the gorgeous forest under it’s new blanket. We zoomed off down the trail, sometimes finding tracks to follow, sometimes busting trail ourselves! Simba floundered around in the deep snow, his short legs not helping. Then he’d find a track and become THE FASTEST DOG IN THE WORLD! He’s just the best ever.

The snow was still coming down like crazy, and the deep freshies were a bit challenging at times, but dude, it was so good! There’s nothing like the forest under that much snow, and breathing the cold air with my boo right there and my mutt having so much fun he could hardly stand it – I just wanted to weep with happiness.

But I didn’t. Tears frozen to my face just sounds awful.

cross country skiing on Big Tree Loop, Trout Lake WA

My human favorite ❤

dog on the Big Tree Loop in new snow, Trout Lake WA

My furry favorite ❤

So I just focused on staying upright, keeping the snow out of my eyes, and having insane amounts of fun. We passed a coupled people near the beginning, but most of the time it was just us. I wanted the trail to last forever.

I think Simba did, too.

dog on the xc ski track, Big Tree Loop Trout Lake WA

“Hurry up, slow pokes!”

We got back to an empty  parking lot, save our truck. Simba was crusty with snow and ice and gladly loaded up.

dog with ice beard, Trout Lake WA

Ice beard!

Such a good time!

And now it’s all ruined. Sunday night and all day yesterday – rain, rain, rain. What’s left of my snow is now slush, and the roads were treacherous with ice this morning. Such a disappointment. This is why every time it snows now, I feel it completely necessary to go out IMMEDIATELY and play in it, roll in it, wallow around in it – make sure I let it know how much I love it and that it should stick around.

Because isn’t this kind of snow just the best?!

a foot of snow, Trout Lake WA 2014

This is our official trashcan/snow gauge – and this is how much snow we got just on Sunday!

Adventures in Road-tripping

24 11 2013

DAY TWO!! Up and at’em, adventure awaits!

Simba and I go out for our morning walk and lo and behold! We’re surrounded by majestic mountains! I’ve only been to Salt Lake City under the cloak of darkness, I had no idea! After a quick (terrible) breakfast and some of the worst coffee I’ve ever had, we loaded up and got on with it. We had places to see and things to DO!!

sunrise over Salt Lake City, UT

Good morning SLC!

SLC is … interesting. Of course, we only see what the interstate shows us, which is mostly industry. Driving through big cities like this just remind me what a materialistic, consumerist society we live in as we pass shopping mall after strip mall after mega-mall. We also passed at least 3 trampoline parks. Trampoline parks? Salt Lake must just love to bounce!As we got a little more out of the city we started passing all the subdivisions and suburbs, each with a couple steeples. We marveled at the snowy peaks to the east towering over the city – such relief!

A quick stop at Starbucks (…NEED.REAL.COFFEE…) and we turned off the Interstate and headed into those marvelous mountains. I just adore going places like this with J because he loves rocks as much as I do. We oogled over the cake-layer rocks, the composition of the rock and soil so different from what we have at home. Look at the junipers! Those rocks are green!! Check out that old homestead!

train along the Price Canyon, UT

Choo choo! And the rocks – so cool!

We stopped at a rest stop to make our game plan and go potty. I realized I’d stopped here before…the terrain is so different when there’s SNOW on the ground!! With a destination in mind, we continue.  I see an arch over a dirt road – a ranch! Let’s buy it! Reds and tans mix with the green of the rocks as a train chugs along next to us. Bluegrass blares from my iPod, the banjos fitting with the scenery. Soon we’re cruising down a canyon with awesome sandstone walls. We see some black stripes and – then bam! a coal mining operation! Ah yes, I remember this. Down we go to the coal mining town of Helper, UT. Looks a bit … rough. The terrain becomes less exciting so I turn to other activities.

Before long, we’re in a bit of a snow storm! The roads are fine despite the falling fluff but I’m disappointed we’re losing views of the cliffs to the snow and fog and clouds. Finally we come to our turn-off and head up a beautiful canyon. The snow stops and we are in awe of these unbelievable surroundings, the wild red cliffs and funky rock formations – I sit, stunned. The dusting of snow somehow makes the landscape look softer, gentler than the alien world I remember seeing during the summer.

snow at Price, UT

Snow and red cliffs – what wild scenery!

We parked and headed up the Corona Arch Trail, Simba zooming all over the place with the joy of being released from confinement. The trail was slush and muck in various shades of oranges and reds, making the trail slippery and gross. But we’re in the cliffs, they’re RIGHT THERE. Suddenly, we see the dark red rock open up to a railroad cut – right through the rock! Simba and I took a jog down the tracks, leaping across the ties. Weeeeeee!

Corona Arch Trail train tracks, Moab UT

Down the train tracks!!

Corona Arch Trail, UT

Nice little resting spot

Water is running everywhere from the melting snow – a weird sight out here in the desert. Sheets of water run over the slickrock, but it’s still better to walk on than the snow. We climb up higher, creeping up the canyons walls. Simba gets the hang of it quickly and tries to help keep us on the trail. We search for rock cairns and foot prints and make it to a nice overlook with great views of the cliffs, the canyon and the Colorado River. The arch is on the other side, but we have to scale a short but really steep rock to get there. A nice cable is bolted in the rock to help us out, but Simba probably won’t make it. I don’t want to risk it. So J goes first to check it out.

Corona Arch, Moab UT

Corona Arch!! Astounding when you’re standing right next to it.

Bowtie Bridge, Moab UT

They call this guy Bowtie Bridge. How cute! And huge.

While he’s busy, Simba and I explore our cliff. There’s a gorgeous waterfall echoing into the little gorge next to us. An impressive natural bridge is just across the way. Faces watch us from the vertical walls. This place is so foreign and incredible and beautiful – I can’t get enough! Then J returns from his scamperings and it’s my turn! I climb the chiseled-out steps, traverse the crazy slanted rock, and climb the slippery ladder. I do some scampering of my own, up close to the cliffs where showers are raining down from above. I had to circle around the gorge to get to the arch, so that’s what I did. The natural bridge was awesome to see up close, and to look up through the hole on the other side. Then the arch was there and I was standing directly under it. Woooo! Too bad I was alone and without a camera….

I shimmied back to my boys and we started down, daylight running out. J and I kept babbling on about the gorgeous place and Simba relentlessly zigzagged the trail. Back at the truck, I toweled the messy pup off and settled him in. We made it to Moab and settled in for the night. Our plan is to play a bit more in the morning and work our way to Denver by tomorrow night.

Bring on the shenanigans en la manana!!


What could possibly be left?!

27 02 2013

Oh man. I did it again. Will I never learn? Someone needs to teach me to take it easy. I’ve had yet another weekend of so much fun I can barely move. That’s good, right?!

Since moving to the northwest, I’ve tried all sorts of new sports, leading me on all sorts of new adventures. The winter sports have been the most … challenging. Snow and cold really change the game. This weekend tested all my abilities and threw me right off the comfort cliff.

Friends of ours rent cabins up at Paulina Lake outside of Bend, OR, every year for an event they’ve dubbed “Cabin Fever”. Paulina Lake is tucked up in Newberry Caldera, on top of what used to be a massive volcano until is blasted and collapsed itself to pieces. Now, just the base remains, filled in with a couple lakes and cinder cones from pretty recent lava activity. The nerd in me rejoiced at getting to spend the weekend in the caldera of a potentially active volcano. The jock in me (whom I’d never met until recent years) slapped the nerd me in the face and took over as soon as we pulled into the snow park and caught glimpse of the weekend toys: snowmobiles.

J had managed to borrow not one, but TWO snowmobiles for us to play with ride, and another Cabin Fever friend agreed to haul them for us. (J needs to buy a truck. Pronto.) We were a little late to the game, but arrived just in time to help load the sleds and journey another 3.5 miles or so up to the cabins.

J and I had one cute little complication: Simba. My adorable mutt was stoked to be out with us, playing in the snow and making friends with another dog, Snacks. Well, he was stoked until the first snowmobile revved to life. Then he was terrified. We had no idea how we were going to get him up to the cabin. Finally, J cut my engine and told me to scoop up Simba and get on behind him. We managed to make it all the way up with that poor dog curled into a ball, squished in my lap between J and I. J and another friend went back down later for the other machine. I’m not sure Simba has forgiven me for that ride yet…

dog on a snowmobile, Newberry Volcano, Oregon

What a little trooper! He managed to curl up in a ball in my lap. But the weekend of playing in the snow with us made it worth it!

Our group of 17 had a duplex cabin and settled in. What an awesome group of people!! That first night, J and I shared dinner duty with our friend Cassidy (everyone had a meal to help with) and we whipped up a couple pots of spaghetti.  Much booze, laughter and hilarious stories accompanied the meal. We played card games, we colored with the kids, we bonded over wine and conversation as one group went for a little night ride. So good.

friends at Paulina Lake cabin, Oregon

That’s not coffee in those coffee mugs. Such a rough way to spend an evening…

Saturday morning kicked off with a walk for Simba with two fabulous little girls accompanying us. Simba really loved the extra attention. After breakfast, we dug out the sleds and turned the hillside next to the cabin into a Wild and Crazy Hill of Speed. The “adults” had just as much fun shooting down the hill as the kids. Several folks caught some nice air, and there might have been an incident with a tree… I haven’t had this much fun on a hunk of plastic since I was a youngster!

sledding Paulina Lake, Newberry OR

Up the sled hill!

Simba thought the sled hill was actually for him, and he raced up with the sledders as fast as he could, then bombed back down at top speed, flying through the air off the bumps and barreling head over heels through drifts. He was in doggy heaven.

dog in snow Paulina Lodge, Newberry OR

OMG this is the best ever! Look, I’m the fastest dog in the world!!

J decided it was finally time for me to try out my sno-mo (that’s what the cool kids call them). We would go on a super mellow ride, he said. We wouldn’t do anything crazy, he said. We wouldn’t even go that fast, he said. Five of us hopped aboard our fun-machines and after a two-second tutorial, we were off! I was a little nervous at first, but I’ve spent lots of time on four-wheelers, and how different could this be? We were just on snow instead of dirt. No big deal. We got to the road and I followed behind J. I got the feel for the throttle, figured out how the turning worked (mostly), and assumed J wouldn’t take me to anything I couldn’t handle. As I relaxed, I found courage. One straight stretch found my speedometer reaching for 60mph!!! Oh yeah, momma like to go FAST! We found a meadow where we played around in the trees, practiced our turns, and sprayed snow all over the place. We finally turned back up the road and I assumed my first ride was almost over.

Then came the detour. A trail had been cut through the trees for the power lines and was just wide enough for sno-mos to fit. We flew up gnarly inclines and launched over rutted-out bumps. Mellow?! Not crazy?!? Slow?!?!?! I know better than to listen to J on this sort of thing. And it was insanely fun. One bump had enough speed behind it to send me and the sno-mo through the air – and I was hooked for good. I was laughing and shrieking the whole time, having the time of my life.

snowmobiling Newberry, Bend, OR

Look out, here I come! VVRROOMM!!

The rest of the day was rather mellow for me. I was exhausted from not much sleep the night before and now from zooming around like a crazy person in the snow. My thighs were on fire from couching with my butt up off the seat for the bumps. My cheeks were super wind-burnt from lack of a bat claw (it’s actually called a balaclava but I can’t pronounce that well) to protect my face. And I ate boo-coos of soup and meatballs for lunch that sent me in a downward spiral of lethargy. So my girl Gail and I cuddled on the couch, me with my knitting, her with a book, while two of the kiddos napped in the bedroom. It was quiet and delightful. Then our girl Carrie came over from the other cabin and we popped open more wine and hit the cards for some ridiculous Nerts. (Best game ever.) Another lovely evening, more delicious food, and we all turned in early. A group had managed to squeeze in another ride up to Paulina Peak and a couple of them even did a little back-country skiing while they were up there. Talk about really getting the most out of a place!

Sunday we had to pack up and leave. J and I left first since we went so slow with Simba, and got loaded up. Then we snuggled Simba down in the car and dashed off for one last ride. I was the only one who hadn’t seen the falls yet, and, well, I have a thing for waterfalls. Then we got there (by way of super-fun trail) and I was even more amazed: my first FROZEN waterfall!! Well, partial frozen. It was absolutely amazing. And my camera was dead so I can’t show it to you.

Back at the parking lot, it was time to go. We were all tired but happy, sad to go but thankful for the fun. We hugged our good-byes and headed off our separate ways.

So now my question is this: what can possibly be next?! What crazy winter activities still await? Surely there isn’t much left… I thought until I asked Google. Apparently, there is plenty I have yet to try. What shall it be: heli-skiing perhaps? Maybe a little ice climbing? How about ice skating down half-frozen rivers?

Who knows. But I’m sure it’ll be awesome.


So Much Fun, It Hurts

24 01 2013

A month and a half in the new house and we finally had visitors. And the visitors where my besties, whom I haven’t seen in almost 5 months due to world travels. Reunion at last!

With the long holiday weekend, we had tons of time so bask in each other. I almost peed myself when I saw them pull in the drive. A flurry of hugs and hellos and more hugs later, I ushered them in to see my new house.

I’ve written you stories of my dear friends Ash and Morgan before, but I’ll just toss in a reminder that these kids are pretty much family. We’ve been apart for too long, and lots has changed. First things first, Simba needed to meet his cousin, Osa.

The shelter told me Simba was great with other dogs, but who knows, they’ll also tell you their dogs are “house broke” and know how to sit. And Osa is no ordinary dog – she’s a beautiful, full-grown St Bernard, out-weighing Simba by about 100 pounds. Literally. So of course I just hauled him out to the car to let them come face to face….or face to knee, I should say.

Let’s pause for a second. Really, there are two parts to this hurts-so-good weekend: us humanoids having fun and the canines having fun. They’re pretty unrelated, so I’ll give you each side. And I think the humans get to go first…

Not long after they arrived, I had my little family-away-from-my-family settled into the guest bedroom. My little heart glowed with happiness as we headed to the brewery for burgers and catching up. I’m sure I looked like a moron at dinner, barely able to stop smiling long enough to stuff my burger in my face. We laughed over our beers for a nice long while, then headed home to see what other trouble we could dig up. J busted out the liquor, I found the cards, and our wild and rowdy game night began.

We finally hauled ourselves to bed, WAY past my bedtime. J had to work Saturday  morning, and Simba had to pee, so I went ahead and got up at our usual 7am. A nice long, cold walk and I was wide awake, so I entertained myself while the others got in some well-earned sleep. Once I heard stirring, I revved up the coffee pot and got breakfast going. I was soon reminded what an amazing housewife team Ash and I are, as we whipped up the most amazing little mini-quiches you’ve ever tasted! We also managed to figure out several alternative, creative ways to brew coffee, since the coffee pot decided to get temperamental. This was a potential day-ruining catastrophe for my darling coffee-fiends, but through our combined efforts, overly-strong coffee was brewed!

Faced with a beautiful day and two hyper dogs, we set out looking for adventure. We headed to a nearby snow park, strapped on our snow shoes, and tromped our way through the crunchy ice/snow to the locally-acclaimed ice caves. We paused for a picnic in the snow with some spiked hot chocolate to warm us from the inside out, then started the return trip.

picnic at ice caves, gifford pinchot forest

Relaxing for our snow picnic. Looks like we’re in the right place!`

All the while, we yammered away, laughing like loons while we navigated the trail on our awkward snow shoes, made worse by the fact that I had forgotten my poles. The dogs zoomed around us, birds chirped above us, the sun shone down on our faces – it was a fantastic day. We made it home giggly and worn out, ready to regale J with tales of our expedition.

After another insanely-executed meal by the crazy domestic duo, we hit the cards again. After discovering some miscalculations in the score keeping from the night before (i.e. J’s a big fat cheater cheater pumpkin eater), the competition became a bit more heated. Spiking our delicious mulled cranberry tea helped amp us up even more. We finally turned in, again past my bedtime, but anticipating the excitement of the next day.

Breakfast eaten and cleaned up Sunday morning, our party once again moved outside, this time to attempt some cross country skiing. We haven’t had much fresh snow since the big dump in December, so I was a little concerned with the conditions, but the day just begged us to come play. We hit the trails ready for some fun.

skiing Lava Loop, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

Besties in the snow, pausing to catch our breath.

The trail we chose was gorgeous, winding through the open forest with views of the mountains. Then came a little surprise: great big hills! My blood starting pumping in anticipation – I love flying downhill, out of control, a maniac on my cross country skis due to my lack of ability to steer. The first hill, however, proved to be quite different from what I’m used to. The ice made it much less fun. The first hill had a big curve at the bottom, so I decided to stop before attempting to turn. Stopping for me means falling over, but I forgot to take into account my landing  surface, and still have the giant bruise to remind me. Several hills and falls later, we were all starting to feel a bit worked. (Ok, all but J. He doesn’t count and is possibly not human.)

Our good buddy Issac Newton was on to something with that “gravity” business…what goes up, must come down! Well, that goes both ways when in the mountains. What goes down, must come up. We had conquered the downhill…so now we had to climb. On skis. And it was brutal…with a capital B! My arms were tired, my hands were tired, my toes were tired…. The sight of the parking lot was like gazing on the pearly gates of heaven – sweet Jesus, we survived!

We were delightfully rewarded for all our hard work with burgers, beers and football. (Go 49ers!) You’re never going to believe this, but we rallied around our card games yet again for another evening of fun. We actually turned in a little earlier this time, all of us tired and sore. The next morning, my fabulous friends had to pack up and leave. It was a sad good-bye but filled with the promise of our next meeting. Even the pups seemed reluctant to part ways.

Best weekend in a long time. A much needed weekend of fun, friends, and more FUN!

And if you think we had a good time, guess what kind of crazy times the mutts had!!

From the moment Simba met Osa (and was reassured she wasn’t going to eat his face), he acted like I had a cow-sized chewtoy delivered to the house for him. Thankfully, Osa is quite playful and rambunctious herself, and tolerated his rowdiness like a champ. When she’d had enough, she would retreat upstairs. Worked great.

Saturday, we took both dogs with us on our snow shoeing adventures. I decided to test Simba off leash, hoping that Osa would help show him how to be a good boy.


I have never seen such exhilaration, such uninhibited joy. He did really well responding to my “come” commands, but he probably covered 4 times the distance as the rest of us. He would run so fast, his legs would get tangled and he would tumble through the snow. He slid on his face time and again as he would fall off trail into snow banks. Down the trail at full steam, back again, several circles around his people, repeat. It was exhausting just watching him. Osa would sometimes join him, mostly she would watch. His relentless energy was nothing less than astounding. By the time we got home that evening, the pup could barely stand. He played so hard he made his toes bleed.

dog playing in snow Gifford Pinchot National Forest

One happy pup!!

After sleeping like the dead, Sunday was a new day to play! He wrestled the morning away, gnawing on Osa’s elbows every chance he got. Soon, his head and much of his body was coated in a nice film of St Bernard slobber. And he seemed to be delighted at his new … accessory? He was not at all delighted when he realized we were going on another adventure without him. But his feet had taken a beating the day before in the snow, and I didn’t want him to hurt them any worse. Oh, but the pathetic look he gave me as we left him behind!

When we got home that evening after watching the game, he went back to wrestling. I had to make him go lie down and leave the poor girl alone. At one point, I caught them curled up together, Osa with her head on Simba’s pillow, Simba’s head using Osa’s tail as a pillow. Besties!

dog friends st bernard

Friends despite all their differences.

Monday was rough. I was sore, tired and happy as a bear in a blueberry patch. I had to run some errands, but still made it to bed pretty early. I should have expected this, really. Ash and I have a history of playing super hard, having as much fun as we can until we’ve completely exhausted ourselves.

But that’s half the fun of it, right?!


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