Saturday, July 1, 2017

Adventure Moms-Mexico to the Mountains

What can I say? June was the bomb!
Filled with exercise and adventure for Gavin and me with both new and old friends, near and afar. We spent the first two weeks of the month on back to back adventures with two other ambitious Moms and their children. The first journey took us to San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico with friends whom we had originally met at the same location in 2015. The second journey, taken less than 48 hours upon returning from the first, took us to a 9500' Boy Scout Wilderness Camp~Wehinahpay Mountain Camp. Both trips were unforgettable but for distinctly different reasons. 
Boogie Boarding in San Francisco Bay, San Carlos, Sonora, Mexico.
Gavin lounging in the huge "kids" suite.
Bougainvillea Plant on Property
Our first journey brought us back to San Carlos where we found it equally as breathtaking and peaceful as it was in 2015. We lodged and rendezvoused with Janet and Reese in their lovely Tucson home where we would provision our food, say hello to the men in the house and load Janet's ocean kayaks for the trip.  Due to the warmer temperatures in June and the lack of a commercial airport, San Carlos is still a quiet Mexican town, with calm and wildlife-abundant bays and an estuary. The San Francisco Bay was a few feet from of our second floor balcony and the Estuary Of Soldiers just a short walk up the beach. Here was both our morning coffee and early afternoon beer view of Tetakawi Mountain.  
Tetakawi Mountain


Janet and Reese at The Nearly Impossible-High Humidity beach fire!
The San Francisco bay, one of several nearby, is filled with dolphins and pelicans who are happy to come quite close to the shore and your kayak to say "Hola!" We found the sea calm nearly everyday but one, which afforded a sizable yet safe swell, for both kids to boogie board upon for hours! The Estuary was full of sea and even bird life despite the time of the year. The 350 acre coastal gem is a favorite migratory spot for hundreds of bird species during the winter. Since our friends have regularly lodged at the Bahia Delphin Condos, for more than a decade, we were treated to a breathtaking beach-front view, fresh fish from a local businessman and the added bonus of their ability to speak conversational Spanish.   Our two-story condo was enormous but afforded us plenty of room to lounge after a full day in the sun and a fabulous morning paddle with our Coach~Janet! Janet, is an avid ocean kayak hobbyist who kindly coached me through a full week of paddling.

Reese & Janet on the Court Built by Us!


Ness The Novice.
I told her she should offer lessons and towing establishing her own business in the area when her current career concludes. I had a blast, found myself totally exhausted, and loved every stinking minute of it. After a morning of paddling, we often found the beach barely stirring with guests, who like our kids, relished in the warm water of the ocean~jelly fish free. Having visited cities all over Mexico, our lifestyle and the hobbies we enjoy are best suited for San Carlos but having friends who know it like the back of their hands is~priceless!
The kayaks atop Janet's Expedition-unloaded and reloaded gracefully by our fine selves to the chagrin of the bitch at the Border Stop, who implied we were not capable.
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Less than 48 hours later, Gavin and I were on the road again, for the second week of adventure at Camp Wehinahpay! Along with another very ambitious and independent Lady, Dana, who happens to be an old family friend and the Troop #59 Scout Master, we went! I functioned as the second adult and assisted in the escort and supervision of thirteen boys to a Camp filled with 300!

Ironically, Eric attended this same Camp, roughly 30 years ago, as a Scout. I doubt a great deal has changed as BSA prides itself on consistency in their programming, insuring not only the organizations legacy but the trust of literally thousands of families across the world. While the Boys worked on Merit Badges by day, Dana and I dug a French drain to prevent flooding and erosion of our prize camp site latrines, hauled approximately 1500lbs of gravel to fill county road potholes and busied ourselves with tent maintenance, dutch oven cooking, singing for our meals and first Aid, home sickness and severe heat given we were located at 9500' in elevation!

Dana on Saw, Ness on Shovel, Men In Awe.
     
The weather is always a huge factor when you sleep outside for an entire week. To our fortune, we had only one bad thunderstorm and indeed it caused more than one challenge. In the dark, Dana found herself and several Scouts, lashing tents we had not gotten too, driving sleeping bags to the laundry and mopping up mud from a few tent interiors themselves. I enjoyed a hot breakfast in the wettest underwear you can imagine and while maintaining a sense of humor, was thrilled to get my clothing dried and take a hot shower before noon!

Gavin and other First Class Boys lowering colors.
The Boys walked miles a day in fairly steep terrain and by evening were more than happy for lights out. Dana and I were no exception having kept our days filled with one task or another and getting plenty of exercise to boot! She and I participated in the Dutch Oven Leadership Cook Off, her with a butterflied roasted chicken and me with stuffed bell peppers and quinoa. The Gumbo took first prize and it was well deserved. The banana ice cream annihilated both the cobblers presented and was made by the Camp Executive, Drew. The Troop above us from Plano was comprised of a few really good Men, whom we formed a very mutual admiration of while at Camp. They seemed a bit awestruck at our independence, while we admired their dedication to each of their Boys, and the hands on approach taken to insure each was cared for equally.  Dana was happy to help them, given her years of attendance, and they were quite gracious in return. A week filled with memories only made in the mountains with others! 

2017 First Class Participants

Headed to Supper!


First Class Bench Warmers!
I know, the longest Blog ever! So here is my conclusion. June was the BOMB! And now, with my new-to-me SUV and two new kayaks, I will embark with vigor on a 3600 mile road trip to Canada, filled with friends, camping, kayaking and National Parks. Stay tuned!
Ness












Sunday, January 29, 2017

Reflections of 2016

Gavin and Santa at our Polar Express/Mom's Birthday Get Together

2016 was a year of chocolates. As Forrest Gump said, "life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you will get." We bit into a few delicious chocolates and choked down a few bitter ones but at the end of the year realized our family is really fortunate. We have a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, enough work and money and a healthy kid. Many of the families we met this year lacked all or most of these blessings so we are hesitant to complain about any trivialities our own little bubble may have experienced! Life is filled with surprises!
All spiffed up for his Arrow of Light Ceremony

Boy Scouts of America Crossing Over Cake 
My business is growing and Eric's family business seems to plow ahead regardless of the local economy. Gavin Crossed-Over into the Boy Scout Troop and earned his Arrow of Light (fewer than 10% of Cubs receive this award), earned First Place in his schools Speech/Oratorical Contest and turned 11, all in the space of a few weeks. Somewhere in there, we delivered Christmas to more than 300 families, held our own, celebrated my 47th and traveled to Texas to see my Nephew tie the KNOT. December, was indeed a blur!

Rough picture of a very happy KID with his Speech Award!

I am striving to work only part-time so I can still get Gavin to all his activities but February brings his first season of basketball so Eric will become the human Taxi. I am teaching Group Personal Training classes three evenings per week and LOVING IT. In the slices of time between Gavin's band, Scouts and basketball schedule we are still managing to enjoy our own hobbies, eat most of our meals at home and soak in our hot tub under a million stars.

Homes in our subdivision are finally selling, 19 of 25 in 2016. We are hopeful ours will be next when the spring thaw arrives. The weather has been extremely warm and snow has been minimal but oil in Texas is booming so money is flowing into this little tourist town like water. We need more snow to support the community resources but Eric and I have decided, we are no longer fans of winter, as it seems to interfere with our primary hobbies, trail running and golf!

Ness




Sunday, August 21, 2016

Our National Parks, Deliver The Unexpected


Cliff Palace
In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the National Parks System and to answer the call of our personal family Bucket List, we planned an eight-day adventure to three National Parks, across three states in a Class C, 19' Motor-home. 
We expected unparalleled beauty, a journey into history and ancient civilizations, a lesson or two in both geography, geology and the power of Mother Nature. But, honestly, we experienced so MUCH more. During a year of social and political upheaval within the United States, I believe we experienced a reckoning. Truly, an account of all the people, from every walk of life, race, sex and social economic dimension, who worked tirelessly for decades, to insure the preservation of these invaluable places. I came home, reassured, if the National Park System could be established, if we can continue to fight the balance of demands placed upon it, if we can impart their irreplaceable value upon our children, we can accomplish anything, together. With my faith in humanity restored, from such an unlikely source, I can honestly tell you, this trip was life-changing for everyone in our family. I encourage you, to seek out these places, to observe all you expect and so much more, you do not. Gifford Pinchot, a pivotal individual who worked tirelessly along with many others, who were never made famous, once said " it is greater to be a good citizen, than to be a good Republican or a good Democrat." 
Cliff Palace


David Nighteagle, NPS Ranger
Our first stop, Mesa Verde National Park, was 
Balcony House
Overcoming my fear of Heights!
unforgettable. We toured Cliff Palace and Balcony House in total awe. The Ancient Pueblo people were brilliant, innovative and obviously undaunted by heights! Hauling children, game and other heavy items up more than 30` to reach their dwellings. A moment we will never forget started with the man on the left, David NightEagle, Lakota Tribal Member and Internationally known Flute Maker. He has played for the Opening Olympic Ceremonies and for several First Ladies of the United States. The acoustics in Cliff Palace were phenomenal and his music gave us goosebumps. Even more inspiring, he has served as a Ranger for Twenty YEARS! http://davidnighteagle.com/ 
Kiva in Cliff Palace
Mesa Verde, translates to Green Table and boy was it GREEN. We camped in peace overnight at the Morefield Campground and attended a Ranger Led presentation in the evening. Very quiet, highly informative. 

Cliff Palace
Onward HO! We dispatched from Mesa Verde and made our way to Moab, Utah, where we would establish a base-camp at a SWEET RV Site within reach of our remaining two Parks: Arches and Canyon Lands. The RV site was tricked out with a pool, hot tub, showering houses and a very well stocked mercantile. Our first journey into the Colorado River began with PADDLING OURSELVES down 17 miles of Class 1 thru 3 rapids with another eager family, who joined us from So Cal. I have not been that excited or scared in a VERY long time but we had a total blast!
Lunch Spot on the Colorado River
Ogden's and Collins, inside Delicate Arch

We maneuvered the raft and jumped out to float the rapids with Gavin. Needless to say, the bulge of Gavin's eyes told me, it was an experience he was unlikely to forget. He road the nose of the raft, gulping gallons of water with glee! Only one picture to share, for what I hope are obvious reasons! Eric had never paddled a raft in rapids and he is officially HOOKED! Tons of fish as well.
The CREW!

Pioneer Cabin
Delicate Arch
Everything is made better with old friends and this journey was no exception. We were so anxious to see the Ogden's we could have burst! Both Ogden's are natives of Utah, so we knew they could hike us through Arches National Park and take us any place else we could dream up. And, they did. With FIVE adventurous boys in tow we hit the Delicate Arch Trail with amazement.  The drive through the Park itself, is spectacular. We lounged near Delicate Arch and admired all she could offer. 




Petroglyphs
As we left Arches, Jeanna knew the temperature would mandate some swimming and boy did she deliver! You can imagine the excitement of the kids and adults alike when we found the spot below. In the 90 degree temps the water felt incredible. We were transformed into kids again, jumping off what appears to be nothing, is actually quite high. Courage mustered by all, we each leaped, some repeatedly. :)

Hot afternoons were spent in the pool while evenings brought us together with our RV's sitting around watching the meteor shower and eating some BBQ off the grill! Bringing his Eagle Scout merits to bear, Jon and Jeanna made incredible tin-foil dinners and I whooped up a caramel apple cobbler in the dutch oven. We have missed them all so very much! 
Taller than it LOOKS! Cliff Jumping!
No one was prepared to return to New Mexico but the time came to head to Pagosa Springs where more adventure awaited us. We hugged our friends, said our farewells and began to jaunt South. Ending our journey involved a soak in more than one dozen (of 20 available) geothermal hot springs under a starry sky and a long inner tube float down the San Juan river, which Gavin absolutely loved! Full of all the senses only water can engage we returned to New Mexico with incredible memories of rafting, hiking, jumping and soaking. We were enthralled with the heat, the huge river and the very kind people we encountered in Utah. We joked about continuing on in our RV to Zion, Bryce, Capital Reef, Yellowstone, Sequoia and Yosemite. Another round of Parks with all their unexpected offerings await us and we them, as I now understand why John Muir said, "wildness is a necessity." 

In Gratitude,
Ness
"It is an incalculable added pleasure to any one's sum of happiness if he or she grows to know, even slightly and imperfectly, how to read and enjoy the wonder-book of nature." Theodore Roosevelt.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity” 
― John MuirOur National Parks

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Adventuring Mama


Alas, I thought winter would never cease, but here I am enjoying the lovely 80 degree days you can only get in the mountains at 7000`. After a week in Texas, it feels like heaven. May and June had the entire family running between baseball, two companies to manage, a house for sale and five acres to mow and clear.  Oh, and four animals to love on, walk and groom! The listing of our house has kept us hopping as we attempt to dwell within it, while keeping it nice and clean, for the next group of potential buyers. So far, traffic has been very good, but no bites as of yet.

We had not seen my Parents in months so Gavin and I ventured into Texas at the height of their humidity/heat index. Setting State weather records meant Gavin and I were up early to head to the outdoors before it became unbearable. We kayaked Granbury Lake, performed illegal acts of trespassing by utilizing every private dock we could find, sprinting down them and jumping INTO the very warm water. We hit the skate park twice and Gavin had a blast. My Dad and I just took a seat, and sweated heavily, while in awe of Gavin's ability to take the heat.
Mema, Gavin and Papa. 
At the Folks casa
Gaming with Auntie
Fathers Day with The Girls
My Mom kept us stuffed with biscuits, sausage and homemade ice cream along with plenty of beverages to ward of the heat. Both she and my Dad dropped everything while we were there to puzzle, play games and visit. The time always goes by so fast.


We loaded up the Jeep and headed slightly North to Plano to see my Sister and Bro In Law and enjoy their pool. After a few cocktails, I found my mojo and was able to really compete with Gavin on the diving board with no repercussion the next day! Becky and David always let us run the roost while visiting and spoil us with really good food and a visit to one of Gavin's favorite spots, the arcade! Becky is all about the arcades and without her, I would not make it. TOO. MUCH. Stimulation for me! God Bless her!
Downtown Dallas from Ross Perot Science Museum
In route between Granbury and Plano, where I navigated the Metroplex traffic, during which I said only a handful of truly foul words, we hit the Ross Perot Nature & Science Museum and spent the entire afternoon. The dinosaur exhibit was amazing!
We drove every robot, tested every earthquake simulator and tried out every hands-on activity they had in the place. Really, one of the best museums I have ever visited, for the entire family. Timing is everything and we were fortunate not to be in this area during the recent tragedy of five police officers killed in the line of duty by one lunatic. God, help us.
Entrance to Great Wolf Lodge
Of course, no ten hour drive from Plano to Ruidoso would be complete, without a stop at Great Wolf Lodge! Gavin and I tore up the slides, while in the comfort of a nice 80 degree, park. Since I was a good Girl, I was given a wristband, to grant me all my wishes, including adult beverages and really amazing BBQ at one of the in-park restaurants. (No, a Pool Boy was not included.)  I found that waving my wristband and ordering vodka soda's made the slides even better! We made a few friends and joined them on the larger raft-rides. One was a Grandma of 73, whom I found very inspiring. She climbed flights of stairs repeatedly with ease and I had a moment of resonance: if I continue to eat well and workout, someday, I could be her, with my own grandchildren. Of course, I may still require the occasional cocktail! Again, we loaded up the Jeep and began the journey back home without issue. We enjoyed seeing the family and realize the older we get, the more precious the memories become.

In other news, we have taken MY Bahama Mama out of storage and she will be gracing the trails, dirt roads and streets of Lincoln County. You will hear it before you see it, but both are unforgettable! My. 1971. Ford. Bronco. Dream. Come. True.

From the Trails,
Ness