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!





Housewifing

13 07 2017

I am on summer vacation. Officially. We went all the way through June 23rd, then I had a week of professional development classes, and now I’m done.

Ok, I realize that I’ve actually been free for almost 2 weeks now, but there’s been so much happening! Mostly in my brain, but STILL! It took me at least 2 days to stop waking up at 5:30am. It took a full week to turn my brain off from teacher mode and to stop trying to lesson plan. It was just such a difficult thing for my poor, exhausted, brain fragments to accept.

No, I don’t have to plan anything.
No, I don’t have to prepare anything.
No, I don’t have to pack anything else.
No, I don’t have to decorate anything. Or clean anything. Or call anyone. Or email anyone. Or post anything to parents.

I’m….actually….DONE.

You can imagine the difficulties after being in warp speed for the last 10 months. Especially because I deep-down, truly miss my crazy, hilarious, bright, amazing kiddos……

So we went camping for the 4th of July, to a beautiful spot on the forest where Simba and I roamed free and no fireworks could be heard. (Simba can’t handle the festivities.)

camping Trapper Creek WA

The best mutt in the world

Then we road-tripped to Seattle for a cousin’s gorgeous wedding and a weekend of family.

wedding weekend Seattle WA July 2017

My handsome JBoo

J accompanied me to Portland for a day of car shopping and indecision and test driving. I’ve let my mind start wandering back to things like knitting and painting and blog posts.

And…I’ve been housewiving. According to both Google and Webster, this is not yet a word. But it best describes my new activities. I have been making my best attempts at performing the duties I believe to fall under the job description of a housewife.

I’m quite terrible, but I’m practicing, hoping to get better.

Fact of the matter is, while I’ve been working on my teaching gig this last year, I’ve been an awful wife. I mean the worst. J barely even saw me as I worked 12 and 13 and 14 hour days. House responsibilities fell to him, as did the dog, and dinners, and pretty much everything else. He kept me alive by grocery shopping and cooking and rubbing my back at night. This man made my coffee every single morning and poured it into my to-go mug so I could be human by the time my kids arrived. Even on the weekends I was typically unavailable, mentally if not physically. He even helped grade papers on several occasions! (And the award for best husband of the decade goes toooooooooo…..!)

best husband ever 2017

He so deserves this!

So now I’m trying to give back to my darling husband and use my free time to balance out the relationship. I’m working to deep clean our little house and organize and purge. I meal plan and grocery shop and even baked cupcakes! Simba has been getting an average of 3-4 walks a day and I’ve waged war on the dog hair like my life depends on it.

But yall, this is hard! My mother stayed at home for a few years when I was in high school and I thought she must have had so much fun gardening and playing with the chickens and canning and sewing…. I somehow missed the work behind it all. How we always had a spotless house and clean laundry and delicious food and handmade pjs. For some unbelievable reason, I called her last week to whine about how I didn’t want to vacuum again, and I really wanted someone to come over and play with me. Being the best mother ever, she just laughed and asked if I had swept or dusted the bookcase or washed the curtains. Well, no, actually, I hadn’t even thought of half that list. Ashamed and knowing she taught me better, I hung up and scrubbed my kitchen spotless. And she kept the same standards whether she worked, went back to school, or stayed home – how the hell did she do it??

But it’s so hard not to get distracted! I tried dusting the bookcase and ended up snuggled on the couch reading for 2 hours. I took out the trash and spent a good half hour trimming and arranging my flower boxes outside. I popped onto my laptop to find a recipe for dinner and lost 3 hours to the black hole of the Internet.

The struggle is real.

Then J comes home and a few times, I have had dinner ready. And he exclaims over how spoiled he is and how happy Simba is to have me back home and what an incredible job I did on the house. I kiss his head and clean up the dishes and high-five myself for finding such a gem, even if he is prone to little white lies.

I’m doing my best to swat away the guilt that descends on days like yesterday, where I did nothing more than knit in front of the TV all day long, and made a pathetic excuse for dinner. I have to remember that I am basically in a state of recovery, and a day of nothing is fine – healthy even – and gives me the extra boost to be productive the next day. (And Simba’s sweater is almost done!)

So, I’m back at it today, attacking the tumbleweeds of dog hair and compiling a grocery list. But if anyone does want to come by and distract me, I’d love the company!!

🙂

 





Appointment with the Mother

4 07 2016

This is my mother:

amazing mom mothers day vancouver wa

She is one fabulous woman.

She added purple to her hair and flew half way across the country to watch me walk the stage and get my master’s degree. She has supported me every step of the way my entire life, even though I rudely moved so far away from her. On my list of amazing women, she fills the top slot.

This is my other mother:

mother nature mount adams wilderness wa

She may be your mother, too.

Mother Nature may not have given birth to me, but she does help support me and my mental well-being. As my real mother is in Kansas this weekend with my broski, and celebrating my insanely fabulous niece’s birthday, I didn’t want to bother her. So I turned to my second mother.

The plan was spend several fun days hiking around and playing outside with JBoo. I took a summer job with WSUV, so I still live in Vancouver, but I was able to leave Wednesday night and come home to Hood River early. Five and a half days with JBoo!! We haven’t spent that much time together since winter break!

And I arrived to find him in the fetal position on the couch, buried in blankets, sick as a dog. Poor thing. So I took care of sick J and got other stuff done…but J woke up Sunday feeling like a human being, so we quickly started making plans for a fun-filled day of hiking and swimming and playing outside. Before I even finished getting dressed, our plans came crashing down around us with a single phone call: a climber on Adams fell and broke his leg. J is not only the Wilderness Ranger on Mt. Adams, he’s also on the search and rescue team. He immediately took the lead organizing the rescue, and I silently packed mine and Simba’s gear into my pack.

We hit the road for Trout Lake, making a quick stop for food in White Salmon. With all the rush, I hadn’t had a chance to sneak any food or coffee, and it was almost 10:30. I was hangry and caffeine deficient. And therefore silent. J coordinated all the various pieces of the rescue as we drove, me eating all the while, then gave me a map and a Spot device at his office. He showed me a trail where Simba and I could hike.

“Uh, I’ve been on that trail several times. And it’s like two miles out of town. Give us a real trail.” I was antsy to go hike and might have given a little more sass than was necessary. But J just turned back to the huge map on the wall and pointed again. “Ok, you could hit this section of the PCT at William’s Mine.” He gave some brief directions and several “stay right” and “stay left” instructions that I tried to pay attention to, then Simba and I bolted for the truck.

Even as I drove up the mountain road, my anxiety started to ease. I don’t need J to hike. Simba and I can do just fine on our own. You go save people, we’ll play without you! But as I parked J’s truck at the trailhead, I realized my grumpiness was from missing him, not because I was mad at him. Dang it.

The last of my moody funk melted away as Simba and I stepped into the shade of the old-growth trail. Simba fell in behind me after his initial spaz-tastic run-around, and off we went. I took a deeeeeeeeep breath and sighed. Hello Mother.

Not far in, we came to a little bridge over a creek where three men had stopped for a rest. As I walked by with a smile and hello, one asked me, “Are you out here all on your own?!” They were all a bit older and seemingly innocently surprised by my aloneness, so I gave a simple, “Nope, I’ve got my dog” and kept walking. I could hear their surprised conversation fading behind me. “A young woman out in the woods by herself? That seems dangerous. She didn’t even seem afraid…..” blah blah blah.

Really guys? Where are you from? Three men are about the greatest danger to me in these woods. Why should I not be able to go for a nice hike in the beautiful forest by myself? Sheesh. I put them out of my mind quickly and got straight to business: my appointment with Mother Nature.

This was long overdue. Have you ever had that feeling where you didn’t know how much you missed or needed something until you finally did it again? That was me. As I breathed the pure air and stretched out my legs I felt a familiar calmness setting in. An almost forgotten calmness.

You’ve been gone too long.

I know, I’m sorry. Things happened. Life got in the way. Grad school got in the way.

I could have helped you. You needed me. You should have come anyway. 

You’re right, of course. I should have come. But I’m here now. I missed you.

As my legs settled into a rhythm, my shoulders relaxed. The last lingering tingles of headache faded away. This therapy that I used to rely on had been canceled when I needed it the most. The anxiety that has been waking me in the middle of the night, robbing me of sleep and joy, was no match for the Mother. She took it from me, filling my heart with song and my soul with light. My mind cleared of all the noise clogging my thoughts and opened to the simple purity of the natural miracles all around me.

As I wound my way up the hillside, the old-growth gave way to burn. Mother Nature’s scars seemed harsh at first, in the charred snags and crusty, black, peeling bark. But the clouds gave way to sun as the air sweetened and I noticed that the whole slope was covered in blooming bear grass. I smiled and chatted with Simba about how cool it was to see the forest growing back after the devastation of the unnatural wildfire. The constant panting and occasional tickle of fur against my leg let me know my faithful companion trotted along with me.

bear grass in a burn, mt adams wilderness WA

Bear grass everywhere!!!

J had told me as we scurried out of his office that he expected 4-5 hours to wrap everything up, so I decided to hike 2 hours up and turn around for 2 hours down. My trusty fitbit kept the time for me and conveniently tracked my steps. It was hard to turn around. The trees were getting fewer and the rocks bigger as we approached treeline, and it was one of those perfect days that made me feel like I could hike on forever. Canada here we come! We had set a nice pace and the day was just so perfect. Knowing J would be waiting on me, though, Simba and I snapped a quick selfie with Adams and reluctantly turned around.

mt adams wilderness, PCT trail WA

Selfie time! Simba, Adams, and me 😀

The trip down did have me daydreaming about hiking the entire PCT one day. My imagination ran away on me and I dreamed up all sorts of good schemes. By the time I reached the truck, I had planned out classroom projects and management systems and blog posts. While my brain drifted in a meditative state on the way up, it went into full planning mode on the way down. The optimistic, excited, ready for world domination kind of planning mode.

I felt like I had received a full-body tune-up. My legs had that sweet ache of working after long months of too much sitting. My lungs felt fresh and clear of the city gunk collected from a year away from my mountains. And my brain felt recharged, rebooted, and revived. The anxiety locking up my shoulders was gone and my thoughts clear and unfoggy. Why had I waited so long? Why didn’t I realize that I missed spending time with Mother Nature.

No need to contemplate on bad decisions, I’ve resolved the issue. J was excited to hear about our adventures and we compared my descriptions to the map. Based on time and what I saw when we turned around, he guessed our round-trip to have been 6-7 miles. My fitbit said we took around 24,000 steps!! I felt powerful and strong and super ready to take on whatever comes next!

Mother Nature, I’m sorry I neglected you for so long, but fear not, I’ll be back soon!!!





Song of the Mountain Goat

24 08 2015

Ahhhhh, summer. After 12 intense, demanding, crazy weeks, my first two sessions of grad school are over. DONE. Check and check. Time for three blissful weeks off before the insanity of fall begins.

Oh what to do?!

Since school started back today, I can tell you exactly what I did: relaxed. (That’s a really nice way of saying nothing… I’ve done so much NOTHING and it has been glorious.) Back in Trout Lake, I spent my days catching up on Netflix, taking extra long walks with my furbaby, reading terrible fiction, and knitting. All the things I neglected while school was in. Simba, especially, felt entitled to lots and lots of make-up attention, and most of my leisurely activities were done on the floor with him either in my lap or snuggled as close as he could get.

What about my J, you ask? Well, the man does have to work. And in August, he works a lot. Also, in case you hadn’t heard, the state of Washington is currently up in flames, literally, and he’s been working the Cougar Creek fire complex burning on the slopes of Mt Adams. However, my amazing beau managed to sneak in three full days for me. Three amazing, fun-filled, spectacular days in the mountains. I even managed to survive!

The location: the Mount Margaret Backcountry, which is on the north side of Mt St Helens, in the blast zone from the 1980 eruption. The plan: backpack up to Panhandle Lake, under Mt Whittier, and spend two nights, then hike back out. The participants: myself, JBoo, J’s pal Andy, and Andy’s pal Sara. The trail description on Northwest Hikers is awesome and totally worth reading and tells just what’s like: http://nwhiker.com/GPNFHike84.html

map of mt margaret backcountry whittier trail

We started at the “TH” (trail head) then hiked the #1 to the #211 and camped at Panhandle Lake. (map belongs to nwhiker.com)

We met at the trail head on a Thursday afternoon, shouldered our packs, and set boots to trail. Quick side note: I am obsessed with volcanoes and have a total crush on St Helens. Her last eruption might have been 35 years ago, but that’s recent in geological terms and the evidence is still really obvious. The slopes are covered in trees all laying the same direction regardless of their orientation to the slopes – trees that were blasted over by the eruption. We hiked through soil that is an ashy mix that quickly coated everything and filled our eyes, noses, and lungs. Many of the lakes still hold trees blasted from their roots that fateful day. SO AWESOME!!!

Anyway, so a-hiking we went. The trail is intense, full of ups and downs and brush and cliffs and dust. Grad school has assisted in my out-of-shape-ness and my pack was a bit heavy. My boots are still pretty new and not super broke in. But around every corner, on top of every ridge, behind every patch of brush, the views were incredibly breath-taking and awesome. From some vantage points, we were rewarded with all the Big Boys: Mt Rainier to the north, Mt Adams to the east, Mt Hood to the south, and of course right there in our faces, the open throat of Mt St Helens. It was like a reunion with all my buddies. Wut up, yall!!

mt st helens and spirit lake from bear pass

Oh hey girl heeeeeyyy! (That’s Spirit Lake full of blasted logs and the crater of Helens)

I’m not going to lie, the hike was pretty brutal. I was huffing and puffing, as usual, and pouring sweat, trying to pretend like my pack wasn’t too heavy and my feet didn’t hurt and I wasn’t totally out of shape. I can write up three research papers in one day but the back country kicks my rear all OVER the place. Some places required us to traverse cliff sides that made my toes curl and my stomach knot. J offered to take my pack across the gnarliest of the gnarly, but I wanted to do it on my own. Thankfully, I didn’t die.

Mt Whittier trail Mt St Helens national monument

Hike with a view. So worth it.

 

hiking in Mt Margaret back country, Mt St Helens

Andy reporting on the conditions of the rock. I was not looking forward to my turn.

Every time we caught sight of a lake, I was sure my torture was coming to a close. (If you notice on the map, we actually saw 4 lakes before reaching ours…yep.) There was really only one thing that inspired me to keep going, fueled me to push on, comforted me and assured me it would all be ok….

wild huckleberries Mt St Helens national monument

HUCKLEBERRIES!!! nomnomnomnom

We actually came across lots of kinds of berries, but huckleberries are the best ever. And there were TONS of them!! J finally told me that I couldn’t have any more unless I could pick and eat without breaking stride. Our next breather he turned to me and just laughed. Mission accomplished – my lips, mouth, and hands were a lovely shade of blue. YUM.

Just when I thought I would collapse and never make it, we reached our designated lake. (You have to get a permit to camp out here and only one permit is issued per lake per night.) After some confusion and back tracking, we clambered down a goat trail and haphazardly made it to the lake shores. We dumped our stuff at our designation campsites and bee-lined to the shoreline. Andy and Sara were brave enough to disregard the cooling evening air and jumped in for a swim. J and I ditched our boots and tried to rinse off as much grime as we could. Time to set up camp and get dinner going. Within the first few minutes at the lake, I was head over heels for this beautiful little spot.

Panhandle Lake, Mt Margaret back country, Mt St Helens

Panhandle Lake, our home sweet home for the next couple days. We could do worse.

I set up our tent and Chef JBoo fixed our dinner. We had packed in some ultra-classy boxes of wine and sat with our little crew well into the darkness. A few shooting stars shot over our heads and added to the ambiance. Spectacular.

boxed wine camping Mt Margaret

Undeniably classy. Lovely merlot.

After an amazing night of sleep, I woke up early and explored the area around the lake while the others slumbered. I saw a herd of elk in the brush near the trail we hiked in on, then looked up and spotted two goats nimbly making their way across the sheer cliff. Birds fluttered around in the bushes and a hawk soared above; fish splashed at the surface of the lake having breakfast. Yep, I could live here. I finally gave in to the roar in my belly and got J up. We retrieved our bags from the bear hang and ate breakfast. Near the bear hang, we noticed more huckleberry bushes, and I found my first activity of the day.

Lake Panhandle, Mt St Helens WA

Morning reflection on the still water. Lovely.

huckleberry picking Mt St Helens WA

Fruits of my morning labor. Well, the few I managed not to eat…

This in-between day was the best day ever. As the morning warmed up, we donned our swim wear and lounged like beach bums on the pumice shores of our little lake. J and I played gin rummy while laying in the sand; the boys worked on their fly casting; I poked around the tadpole convention we found; and we basically just relaxed, breathed deep, and enjoyed ourselves. J and I even gathered enough courage for a quick dip. The lake isn’t glacier fed, so it’s not that frigid, but I still barely managed 3 full strokes. I know for next time I just need to stay in long enough to numb my nerves and stay for a real swim.

fly fishing Lake Panhandle WA

The boys “fishing”.

Swimming Lake Panhandle WA

My JBoo, warming me up after our chilly dip in the lake

After lunch, we finally decided to get ambitious and hike the ridge above us. We climbed up and around and over and across and finally, after gawking at all the 360 views and the gazillion goats on the cliffs, made it to a trail sign. It looked to me like a sign you see on ski trails. It had the black diamond with a zigzag line and said “most difficult”.  Whatev, yo, I do what I want.

climbing to Mt Whittier WA

Pffffffth difficult schmifficult

Turns out they weren’t kidding. I never actually saw the top, but J tells me it was lovely. I made it almost to the top of the ridgeline, and was proud of myself for not dying. So I clung to a squat little pine tree and let the mountain goats boys go on ahead. J came back for me and we started down, while Andy pushed on to the peak of Mt Whittier. He later said it was terrifying. #noregrets

trail to Mt Whittier WA

I conquered enough to still feel like a bad ass. Like a little. And no I didn’t kick the sign down, it was already like that!

Back at camp, sweaty and hot with ash highlighting every little sweat trail down my face, I knew what had to be done. The lake was the only answer. Before I could change my mind or remember how cold the water was, I stepped off into the lake and furiously scrubbed the filth from my skin. I have never felt so refreshed in my LIFE!

Another mellow, relaxing evening with our pals and we turned in. Tucked into my sleeping bag, snuggled up against the warm lump of J in his sleeping bag, I passed out pretty fast. I dreamed that night of the goats, the white specks that you don’t even notice until one knocks loose a rock or calls to a baby. How amazing it would be to have that agility and freedom. I think I would be perfectly content as a mountain goat….

mountain goat on the cliffs Mt Whittier WA

Magnificent creatures

We took our time the next morning and finally left our awesome little camp sometime mid-morning. We saw the first people in two days and marveled at our good fortune in finding such solitude. I was sad to leave and hope to make it back someday.

Despite feeling like the entire hike to the lake was uphill, most of the hike out also seemed to be uphill. Funny how the strenuous uphill is all you remember, so hiking in the mountains seems to be all uphill, both ways. (…in the snow, barefoot, … wait, that’s how my dad got to school….) I love how the views change when you’re coming from the other direction, and I somehow managed to eat still more berries found along the trail.

Mt Margaret backcountry WA

Views for days

Bear Pass, Mt Whittier WA

My favorite view of them all ❤

And now I have to settle back into my school routine, tackling my new classes and getting to know new professors. This semester includes the observation portion of my student teaching, and I could not be more excited to jump right in with my mentor teacher and her 5th grade class.

But, more on that later…..

Happy trails!!

😀





Moments of Hope

18 10 2014

Everyone needs a little Hope – it’s how we get through our wild, ridiculous lives. Hope fuels us, drives us, keeps us going. Lucky for me, I have 27 pounds of strawberry-blonde Hope, bundled with lots of sass, a Texas-size bossy streak, and a heart so big I don’t know how it fits in such a little body.

sassy pants in Seaside, OR coast

My Hope is in Texas, so I just get visits, always too short. In September, my mother managed to get Hope on a plane (with the help of my Aunt Mary) and fly her up to me. A whole week with family! The anticipation almost killed me, but I finally made it to the airport and squeezed everyone into my car. Mine all mine!

I did my best to show the grown-ups a good time and simultaneously entertain my Hope (and keep her out of trouble). I really wanted to show my family all the wonderfulness of this awesome place I call home, so I loaded them up in the car each day and hauled them all over the place. Shopping and wine tasting and waterfalls, of course, but I also decided they just HAD to see the Oregon coast, so we went there, too. We hiked in the forest and swam in the Columbia and splashed in the Pacific Ocean, and all the while, my little Hopey was such a trooper. Naps were sometimes skipped, and a few melt-downs did happen, but for a two-year-old used to a solid routine of ruling the house, she really did awesome.

summer swimming in the Columbia River, Hood River OR

She stripped off her dress, kicked off her shoes, and went swimming! (No, I didn’t follow suit.)

Things I learned about this fabulous little girl: she is determined, head-strong, stubborn, willful, and bossy as bossy can be. She is smart, creative, inquisitive, and very imaginative. She prefers the outdoors, loves to collect rocks and sticks, picks flowers, blows all the dandelions, chats with the birds, and wanted to take all the berries from the mountain ash tree home with her. I just love what a wild little child of nature she is, a little free soul already.

child picking wildflowers, White Salmon Wa

Picking wildflowers for Momma

eating taffy in Seaside, OR

All sass, wearing my sunglasses, eating my taffy…(I’m not sure why this picture is so blue)

first time to the Pacific, Seaside OR

SO excited to dip a toe in the ocean!

She was a little cautious about the pounding surf…at first. Then the first wave washed over her little bare toes, and she squealed with delight. And off she went, running and laughing with such abandon, the pure and simple joy of a happy child.

baby of the sea, sunset at Seaside OR

Like a child of the sea, she couldn’t get enough – despite the frigid temperature of that water

playing in the Pacific, Seaside OR

“No Keesta, like THIS”

Due to the distance between us, I always worry that little Hope won’t remember me, that one day I’ll see her and she won’t run up to hug me. Thankfully, that hasn’t happened yet, and she was just as attached to me as I had hoped. My status in life got a boost, and I became WONDERFUL. No one else could unbuckle her carseat, no one else could take her potty, no one else could sing to her before bed. We snuggled each morning when I got her out of bed, we ate breakfast together, we watched My Little Pony together while everyone got ready for the day. I was trying to soak up as much Hope as I could for the short time she was here, and to my great relief, she let me.

sister snuggles, Seaside OR

Morning snuggles and giggles between sisters

The day they arrived, it seemed like we had so much time, but before I knew what happened, we were headed back to the airport and my Hopey was gone. I cried my way home and had a difficult day of work. But then I would find evidence of Hope – rocks she had hid in my pockets when I did laundry, her little froggy toys hiding in random places, teddy grahams in the container of oatmeal, and random items from my make-up drawer tucked into the towels in the bathroom. They’re little reminders of my littlest sister. And they make me smile every time.

I can’t wait for the next visit, and all the visits after. One day, she’ll be able to come spend summers with me, and oh the adventures we’ll have!

I hope you have a little Hope, in some form or another, of your own.  😀





Another Year of Awesome

8 09 2014

This morning was so nice and cool, I had to slip on a sweater while sipping my coffee. Summer is coming to a close! That also means the last couple months of absolute craziness are coming to a close, as well. But the end of summer comes with a super awesome celebration: J and I’s anniversary!

This year, we actually had to celebrate the weekend before Labor Day since J had to work, but it was no less awesome. As is our tradition, we pass on the gifts and opt for adventure instead. (Flip through the archives if you want to read about some of our past anniversaries of adventure…like the time J tried to kill me, or the big, shiny rock I got last year…)  This year, we celebrate the big cuatro, so we planned a whole weekend getaway.

Ok, so “plan” is a bit of a stretch…more like we just threw our camping gear in the car and headed west with a general idea in our heads. Neither of us have been to the Olympics on the west coast of Washington, so we decided this would be a good time to change that. What could be better than coast and beach and rainforest and camping and hiking?

NOTHING, that’s what. We had the best weekend, and it was exactly what we both needed after the crazy summer we’ve been having.

Summary: We took off Friday afternoon, west bound and giddy, car loaded for fun. We finally hit the Olympic National Forest, spent the night in the car after a bit of  a hiccup with campgrounds, and hit Ruby Beach nice and early Saturday morning. If you’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing an early morning on the northwest coast, this a taste of what you’re missing:

IMG_0355

Yes, this is in August. It’s not sunny, it’s not warm, it’s not tropical – it’s magical. We roamed for a few hours, sipping the coffee J boiled for us on our camp stove, enjoying the mystic morning and all the wonders to be discovered.

tide pools Olympic National Forest Ruby Beach

 

IMG_0379

 

Ruby Beach Washington

 

After we spent several hours poking around, we somehow – by some miracle! – managed to snag probably the very last available campsite on the entire Washington coast. And boy was it a terrible spot…..

camping in the Olympics, WAThis pretty much sums up the rest of the day for me. We explored this new section of beach, played in the driftwood, watched some dolphins, collected rocks. It was lazy and relaxing and splendid. We made lunch on the camp stove, drove down to the cute little lodge, stopped at the Big Cedar, and we smack-talked over a rowdy game of gin rummy. Best way to spend a day.

Big Cedar, Olympic National Park WAThis is called the Big Tree. Well, one of them. There’s the Big Cedar and the Big Spruce. There might even be a Big Pine in there somewhere, but we have one of those at home. This guy was made into a tourist attraction with a sign on the side of the rode pointing to it. So I hugged it. We’re friends now.

After a delightful Saturday and the best night of sleep I’ve had in a long time (possibly due to the pounding surf just beyond the tent flap), we woke Sunday not wanting to leave. J took a run down the beach with Simba and I relaxed for just a teeny bit longer. Then we packed up and made one last stop before hitting the open road: the rain forest!

Hiking in the temperate rain forests of western Washington is like being transported to a Jurassic Park movie. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining and we had a gorgeous hike. Massive old growth trees, ferns and flowers, vines and babbling brooks. The trail followed a little creek canyon of sorts and we took a longer loop to see a waterfall. (Sadly, we’re quite spoiled to spectacular waterfalls here in the Gorge, so it wasn’t much…) The second half of the loop followed the shores of the lovely Lake Quinalt, the sun sparkling off the water and inviting us to swim.

Then back in the car to drive home. Now we can check off another place from our list – another Northwest jewel has been explored! I still think we need to make another trip to the north side to see more of the National Park and maybe climb Mt Olympus, but Simba can only go in the National Forest, not in the Park, so that trip may not be anytime soon….

Oh, and I might be a bit biased, but I think I caught myself a keeper. Here’s to many more years of adventures, honey. 🙂

rain forest of Olympic National Forest, WA

 

 

 





Another Face of Adams

15 09 2013

I do not consider Mt Adams my enemy, despite what he did to my body and peace of mind. After all, I did climb all over him.  So when J suggested another day on his slopes, I agreed.

Another beautiful day for hiking, JRock and I loaded up the dog and our day packs and hit the road for the open trail. We weren’t summitting again (nonono, not yet, I’m still recovering from the first time) but instead decided to see what all the hub-bub was about the Other Side.

That’s right, Adams actually has many sides. We climbed the south side, and I see the south edge and the west side every day. But it’s a big da-gum mountain – what about the rest of it? The east side is on the Yakima Reservation so we headed to the remaining portion of the massive hunk of rock: the North Side.

I capitalize that as a proper noun because I feel it is a tangible thing with a name, and we made friends. The North Side and I are now pals, buddies, amigos – more than mere acquaintances though not yet at bestie level. But I am just positive we’re on the right track.

The trip to the trail head was a pretty long one, but the scenery unbeatable. I love how much new territory there is to explore up here! JRock spent a bit of time in that area last winter, but it was all new to him sans snow. Being a Sunday, we were in no hurry and made a few detours to peek at other places we plan to go back to: Takhlakh Lake, trails, waterfalls, portions of the PCT….there’s so much to see! But the mountain beckoned and we continued on.

Finally at the trail head, I was surprised to see cars already partially filling the parking lot. The trail is way out there, and the road not the best, but I guess we aren’t the only ones who like this country. We set out at a good clip, creating little dust clouds with each step in the fine soil of the trail. Simba and I surged ahead, excited to be out, excited to see a new trail, excited for the feeling we get when immersed in the forest at the base of this beast of a mountain.

Before long, J was far behind us. Not because I have suddenly developed super-human hiking abilities to out-pace J (let’s be honest, that will never happen) but because he was working and had to stop to talk to folks. Simba and I were motivated and inspired in the high air and decided not to linger awkwardly. Besides, J would catch up. He really does have super-human hiking powers.

The forest was open enough to allow light and the breeze, but still dense enough to offer heavenly shade. The dust cloud around us had grown and I wondered if J would let me back in his new truck once he saw the amount of filth covering every inch of me. It stuck to my sweaty skin, dusted all my clothing, and settled in my hair. I might have to hose off before going in the house…..

Suddenly and unexpectedly, the trees gave way to open meadows. Beautiful high alpine meadows bursting with late-season wild-flowers, tweety-birds flitting about, insects buzzing through the lazy breeze. It was peaceful and lovely and invited lingering.

alpine meadows of flowers, north side of Mt Adams WA

So inviting.

And BAM! there was Adams! I have to say, he looked a bit tired. It was probably the heat. The sun beat down hot and glaring, and although he waved a lovely cool breeze at us from the massive Adams Glacier, he looked a little….miserable. Adams Glacier was all crumpled and messy, and his peak seemed to droop slightly under the demanding heat of the cloudless sky. Rivulets of glacier sweat dribbled down the rock and cut inconspicuous trails across the meadows. But there he stood, never leaving his post, tall and proud.

north side of Mt Adams WA

Poor Adams can’t WAIT for winter!

J caught up with us as we dawdled about the meadows, chatting with Adams and admiring the flowers. He took Simba’s leash for a while so I could examine the blossoms up close and personal, dip a hand in the sparkling streams and collect a few interesting rocks. The view of my two favorite boys on the trail up ahead of me is one of my favorites. 🙂

trail towards north side of Adams, WA

My man and my fur-baby, bonding. Gets my heart to fluttering!

As you can imagine, we were at a nice high altitude in no time and we decided to stop for a little picnic. We were up in the rock scree by this point and near the tree line, so we found a cluster of stunted pines to rest near, thankful for the shade. Simba plopped in the dirt next to us, snapping like a rabid mutt at all the flies buzzing around him. They drove him absolutely insane while we munched our sandwiches and snacks. He’s quite hilarious to watch.

I had peeked a time or two behind us to glimpse the valleys as we climbed higher. But our picnic spot gave us a ridiculous view of the stunning Mt Rainier! All the smaller peaks in between look like mole-hills compared to the great king of the northwest.  The snow-capped peak shone from across the valleys, hills and forests separating the two mighty volcanoes. I always forget he’s so close!

view of Mt Rainer from north side of Mt Adams, WA

Wowzers, Rainier is enormous!

Time to go home, we began our descent, gaping at the new views spread before us. The Gifford Pinchot never fails to show us the best Mother Nature has to offer. I can’t get over the fact that this area, this side of the mountain, is only open for a couple months in the summer. Otherwise, the snowfall covers it and locks it in. I decided we needed a shot of us together with all this amazingness:

hiking on Adams with Rainier in the background, WA

Photobombed by Rainier!!

Hm, someone should have pushed my glasses up for me….

The way down was as delightful as the way up. Simba walked in the little streams every chance he got and took a little doze in the wildflowers when we stopped to talk with a group of women on horseback. It was an all-around wonderful day. Hot, sweaty, and incredibly filthy, but just buckets of fun. I stopped and turned around to say something to J, and when I turned back, I got the best picture ever:

dog hiking in the flowers, north side of Mt Adams, WA

Takes my breath away

My handsome hound-dog, Mt Adams, wild Lupines – so many of my favorite things all in one picture!! I can’t even tell you how much I love this.

The trip home was pretty quiet, as the heat of the day left us pretty lethargic. We didn’t go as far as we could have and didn’t quite reach the high camp, but we covered enough miles to need a nap. We did make a stop at an impressive waterfall right on the side of the road and paused more than once to admire the gorges and gullies on the side of this fantastic mountain.

waterfall on north side of Mt Admas, WA

This guy was just tumbling down the mountain, happy as could be. I bet he RAGES in the spring!

Yep, North Side and I will be besties in no time!! I just need to visit again!

😀

 








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