Sunday, October 14, 2018

Part 2. Tetons and the Bitterroots Mountains

Part 2.
We made the final stop in Yellowstone and watched old Faithful, with about several hundred people.
Then rolled out and into the Grand Tetons National Park.  We didn't have reservations (again because it wasn't quite peak season) but drove into Colter Bay Campgroud and got a spot. Traveling with the jeep is great because we use tent spots, and in this park those were the really great spots. *I have heard Jenny Lake is phenomenal, however I was worried we weren't early enough for a spot there and didn't want to miss our chance at Colter Bay.
From the campsites it's a short walk (5 minutes) to the lake with impressive views of the Grand Tetons.  We packed a beverage, sat and enjoyed.  The only thing that would've made it better was our paddle boards.  We spent 2 nights here, because we hiked in the Tetons the next day.  Honestly I could've spent several days in the national park exploring.  It was not as busy as Yellowstone, there are so many hikes easily accessible at varying degrees of distance and difficulty.  Alas we were on a road trip and needed to keep going.  A place that had been on a longtime bucket list was Jackson Hole, WY. so out of the national park we went and right into Jackson.  We stayed at the White Bufffalo Club, it was great.  Had a beer and dinner at the Snake River Brewing, also good.  The town itself is easy to see on foot, beautiful and packed with great restaurants. I was glad to stay a night there, but next time would camp in the park and drive in.

We were undecided on our route from here.  We debated heading towards Stanley and camping in the Sawtooth Mountains, however the appeal of the Patagonia Outlet in Dillon, MT lead us to the Bitterroots.
The drive between Jackson and Dillon was beautiful.  We settled on camping at Lake Como. We both agreed coming back next year and exploring the Bitterroots is in order. I instantly fell in love with this area.

I know this was my husbands birthday trip, but I feel like he gave me such a gift on this trip.  Seeing the country in a way I have never seen before.  I can't wait for more!

* one note, while I love to disconnect I had my 21 and 16 year old kids staying at my house.  I have AT&T and rarely had cell service on this trip. Not knowing where we were going I tried to pop into places that had WiFi and message my kids ahead of time our plan, and check in with them.  This definitely made me nervous at times!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Almost a Half Century Road Trip

In June my husband and I embarked on a 10 day road trip. My husband was turning 50 in July and his perfect way to celebrate was a road trip.  Being a gal that absolutely loves flying and often gets motion sick in the car, my initial response was less than excited.  However, as it got closer to leaving we had a few planned stops that I really wanted to see, like Bozeman MT and Jackson WY.  We planned hotels in these places, and the rest if the trip would be unscheduled and go where the jeep took us!
For the road trip we downloaded several audible books.  As an avid reader with little time to read this was downright amazing!

Because my husband is a true gentleman, and even though this was his birthday trip he wanted to ensure I was comfortable and had a good time.  We decided the first day we wouldn't drive more than 6 hours.  We camped the first night along the St. Joe river  (thanks to our nephew for that tip).  Truly beautiful, it did rain but the drive along the St Joe was absolutely breathtaking.

Next few nights, after a quick stop in Missoula we spent falling in love with Bozeman.  Rick's family is from Bozeman and his great-great grandfather started Bozeman Brewing before prohibition.  His family also owned the Lehrkind Mansion so we walked all over visiting all the sights.
I would highly recommend the hotel we stayed at call The Lark. The staff was the friendliest I have ever encounter, location is walking distance to everything in town, and the newly remodeled rooms were great!

Then onto Yellowstone, we entered through the North.  Camped in Yellowstone at Canyon Campground.  Here's the thing about Yellowstone, it's worth seeing, just also not lingering there long.  We were there the first week of June, technically before the busy time....if there is such a thing.  I didn't love the campground.  It was OK for proximity to get up and get a head start on the day and sights which was essential (early am's and evening were less crowded), but you felt like they crammed as many people as possible into the campground.  We had a good laugh as the temps while we were there dropped to 25 degrees.  That evening we ate cheese and smoked salmon on a plate in the jeep while watching a movie on the Ipad, because it was too cold to be outside.  Sleeping in the jeep was fine, I packed appropriately to stay warm, just couldn't hang out outside comfortably!

 This was our inside the jeep date night!  Thank goodness for pre-downloading Netflix movies!
These are some of the highlights.  Like I said it is worth seeing.  I took a ton of photos, but I don't believe any can truly to do the beauty justice.  We also saw bison and a grizzly cub, would love to be there at a time to see the wolves.

Part 2...The Tetons, Jackson and the Bitterroots will be the next post!

Monday, September 24, 2018

The World Keeps Spinning

May...that was the last time I sat down to blog, crazy! 

I am still learning the ropes of my new job, and found that the summers are crazy.  Between summer camps, chamber concerts and music in the meadow, I worked about 60 hours a week.  I took Tuesdays off and entirely unconnected by hitting the mountains with Lo and Doug.  I've been told that all we did put on this summer at work was really great, but truth be told I was just trying to keep my head above water and survive I didn't actually "see" what we were doing!
Not all was lost on work this summer, Rick and I started the summer with a 10 road trip with the jeep, camping on the St. Joe river in Idaho, traveling through Missoula, then staying a couple nights in Bozeman, onto camping in Yellowstone, then the Grand Tetons, Jackson, WY and ending the trip camping in the Bitterroots, an area I hope to return to soon.  My plan is to blog here soon about the trip.  We had such an amazing time, it was the first big trip with the jeep since having the ursa minor (pop up top) added to it.  Maybe I'll blog about that as well, but we are in love with it.

Lo is in her junior year of HS but is doing running start so she didn't start back to school until today.  She and I escaped last week to NYC, where we toured Columbia University, and NYU.  Saw Waitress and Come From Away (this one easily is now in my top 5 musicals).  Went to ground zero on 9/11 shopped Canal Street (this was a first for Lo), visited the MOMA, saw the live taping of the Jimmy Fallon show and just absorbed all the city life we could in 5 full days.  That city always fills something in me, that I am unaware I need.   As we left I was a little sad, like perhaps I was leaving a piece of my heart behind.  However, I realized my heart is not so much divided between the mountains and open space of home and the energy, diversity and culture of NYC as it is just perfectly balanced. 

 People life truly is amazing, and so very very good.  Next month I will be 41, I am so honored to be aging, and getting to live this amazing life.  So much in life hasn't made sense, but all of it has made me a stronger, more patient person.  A better version of myself that I didn't know existed.

Cheers, and I hope to be back blogging soon.  With at least pictures of the recent adventures!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Slowing Down

I got a dog last August from our Humane Society.  Lo and I had taken him on a hike like we have with so many other dogs, but there was something about when I put him back in the kennel I knew he was my dog.  I was going through some serious transition at the time, my business ending and I had already started with Horizon so the timing seemed off, but there was such a strong feeling I couldn't ignore.  The fact that he was clearly part border collie was the saving grace to appeal to my husband who had just lost his border collie mix after 16 years and was certain we did not need another dog.

After losing Kaiser, it was hard being out on the trails without him.  I'd go but it wasn't the same.  The joy and security I felt on our adventures was now missing, and I desperately wanted it back.  I was also unsure about getting a dog, I knew I did not want a puppy.  You can't run with a puppy until they are almost a year old, and my sole purpose for wanting a dog was to run.  I didn't want to do the puppy chewing, digging and getting up in the middle of the night and most importantly I knew I did want a rescue dog.  After having taken so many great ones out, I knew that would be my next dog.  I will say, rescues are not for everyone.  It is hard because you do not know their history or what they have been through.  My kids were older so I wasn't worried about them, and I knew I would take the time and spend the money I needed to on training a dog.  And I did.

Doug is what his name became.  He was a stray that had been adopted out twice and quickly returned (he had and still has separation anxiety).  We came up with some really great names, but walking amongst the douglas firs I called him Doug and it was the first time he responded, so he became Doug.

We run or hike 6 days a week.  We typically go 4-7 miles, and once a week 10-15.  Even though I am running more than I ever have in my life, I am running slower.  I am taking it all in.  I stop and watch Doug run, I stop and watch the birds, we walk up the beautiful places (and there are a lot) so we don't miss them.

I am not signed up for any trail races, for the first time in years.  Not because I don't like them but after losing Kaiser, I regretted the time I didn't spend with him.  The days those races would come I always wished he could be with me.  So this year, I just run with Doug, slowly, taking it in. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Adulting and Aging

I think I must be in that magic window of life.  The one where I really appreciate aging.  I love where I am in life right now.  There is a calm, perhaps it's because my kids are older (one in college and one is 16) and life seems to slow WAY down when you are no longer running all different directions.  Granted I loved that time, but it was exhausting!   It could be my husband, I am crazy in love with this man and our life.  He will retire in less than 10 years, kids will be out of college, our house will be paid off by then.  That's all so soon, when I think of how fast the last 8 crazy years have gone. God willing we will be in good health.  I don't wish for time to go fast, but knowing this is all around the corner, makes you appreciate life in the very moment.  Maybe it's that I am no longer self employed.  As amazing as that almost 15 year run was, I have days off now.  I have paid vacation, I am not running around making trips to the hospital several times a day.  Some days I work from home, I get up early, run my dog, shower put on some comfy clothes and slippers and say to hell with make up.
I know being in good health is certainly a part of it.  I love the wisdom that comes with getting older, the letting go of stress.  That comes from the confidence to eliminate toxic people from your life.
I want to embrace this period, it feels well deserved.
After my ex husband left at the end of 2010, I made a very conscience decision to focus on my kids and myself. I had been with my ex since I was 18, we had been together for 15 years.  I lost the core of who I was.  It was truly the most healing therapeutic time of my life.  To take time to process the shit show of that year, then dive into finding myself.
I truly believe that period of self discovery allowed me the time to be closer than ever with my kids.  It was just us, and I can look back on that and really appreciate our time together.  When I met my husband, he had been on a similar path, together there was a love and calm all in one I had never felt.

As I started writing this two days ago, my friend messaged me.  It was the 8 year anniversary of her very best friend passing away.  This lovely woman was 31 with a 2 year old daughter and infant son.  She died of breast cancer.  It was yet another reminder to live the very best life I can.  Be kind, speak the truth and love with your whole heart. It is an honor to be alive.

Monday, April 16, 2018

In one week my first born turned 21 and I got to go to my first ever Moms weekend at WSU.
My son spent two years out here at the community college getting his AA degree.  Probably the best thing ever.  Not only did we save at least $30,000, but he worked and saved.  I am helping with his tuition but he is paying his living and all expenses associated with it on his own, without loans.  He is there with 4 of his best friends from Wenatchee, having the time of his life and doing really well in school.  He is majoring in a degree he found on his own, that couldn't fit him better and loving his classes.
Personally I feel two years at a University might be enough.  You are excited about this new chapter, you do well, make great friends and move on before any of it gets old.
My son received a quality education out here at the community college.  He learned the ropes in a smaller environment of meeting with advisers, registering for classes, and even how to pay.  He learned the expectations of the professors at a college level.  In the time he was there, a handful of his high school classmates showed up during the summer to retake a class they took at an University to get a better grade.  After paying one semester of his college I cannot imagine having to pay for a class twice.  My son was able to develop great relationships with his teachers at the community college because of the smaller class size.  Now with his AA he moved right into his major in his junior year, and because it is upper level the class sizes aren't so bad.

As for turning 21 and Moms weekend, I am not a big drinker but I loved every minute taking it in.  Seeing his new friends, as well as the amazing bond with his old friends.  Observing him as an adult, navigating life on his own.  It is such a beatiful thing.

I miss him, but I am so happy for where he is in his life.  My advice to parents is spend that money on taking memorable trips with your kids while they are home, take time off work to hang with them, give up going out at nights to stay home and watch movies.  My son and I have traveled the world together.  We've fallen in love with countries together. We've watched Goonies (my favorite movie) probably a dozen times and visited the goonie house. We've hiked all over the Henry M. Jackson Wilderness together.  I do not regret taking any time off or money spent on doing that with my son.  That was our time together, now it's his time.  His time to make new memories, travel with friends, live in different places.  Create his own life.  I would say after spending the weekend with him in his new home, he's off to a good start!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

There is a Reason

I spent the last week following Mandy Harvey as she did outreach in the schools before her performance on Saturday night.  We have a visiting artist series and community outreach is part of bringing the artist in.  I wanted to tag along to see what it's all about.  Let me tell you I felt like I had the best job ever, it was truly inspiring watching her with the kids.
If you don't know who she is here is her AGT Audition.
She has been singing sine she was 4 but lost her hearing at 18.  One of the things she said to the kids that really resonated with me was the worst thing she could imagine happening to her did, yet she now considers it the best thing to have happened to her, because she loves more, values her friends and family more and overall loves her life more now than she did before.  That's pretty powerful coming from someone that lost one of her most vital senses.

I used to believe my marriage ending would be the worst thing to happen. It happened, and I became a stronger independent woman, one that I could respect.  My friendships became deeper.  I cut out the toxic people in my life, and appreciated authentic people so much more.

Then my business ended this last September.  I didn't want it to end, in part for the reasons above.  I truly loved (and still) do the people of the hospital.  Through my divorce they were one of my biggest sources of support.  I will never forget their kindness, and for that reason I never wanted to leave.  However, I wasn't actually profitable.  I paid my employees, most of my bills and lived extremely frugal on my meager salary.  The trade off was my flexibility and to show up each day doing exactly what I loved with my favorite people.  After initiative 1433 passed (raising minimum wage in 2018 to 11.50  and  providing sick pay, with minimum wage going to $13 by 2020) Rick and I had many serious conversations.  I had always paid my long term employees above minimum wage and would no longer be able to do so, or staying open in the evenings only to sell a coffee or two.  We looked over many scenarios and none made sense to keep going, but I am stubborn!  I probably would've kept going until I crawled into a financial hole so deep I couldn't get out.  That last day, I found a buyer to purchase all my equipment.  Everyone wanted me to hold onto it, but that was more of a depressing thought.  I wanted my beautiful machine to live on, and I wanted to pay off my debt.  So that's exactly what I did, sold enough to cover the existing debt on my business, and go forward.

I had always wanted to work at the airport, so that's what I did.  I had a blast, unfortunately it didn't pay enough to cover my gas to get to work.  I did it for 5 months, loved almost every shift and the people I met (plus lifting heavy luggage was an excellent work out).  I also started working at my favorite cafe, and loved it.  Then a job totally not on my radar came up and I took it.  I am learning so much.  One of the things I loved the most about the hospital was how inspired by the staff I always felt.  This new job I am being inspired as well.  We are a non-profit and the generosity of the community in the name of the arts make my heart so full. We have an amazing executive director that I love working for. Then I get to do things like go around and listen to Mandy talk to hundreds of kids, knowing they were inspired by this amazing lady, well it makes me emotional in a good way.  The other bonus not to be taken for granted is now I get paid to do this, and that is really nice!
Life is constantly changing and directing us in directions, we might not think we want to go, but if you can trust it and look for the good rather than dwell on the bad, things will work in your favor.

Peace and love my friends.