Monday, January 15, 2018

2017-It's A Wrap~Literally!

Happy Belated New Year Blog Post to you All! My last post to this blog was completed in August of 2017 and our lives have changed tremendously since its issuance. We sold our house, finally, downsized tremendously and moved into our Village. I can't recall how many times I filled my SUV with crap we did not need but it was in double digits. We received a very rare cash offer and of course took it!

As you can discern from the pictures, fall itself, not unlike the winter thus far, was freakishly warm and dry, for those of us dwelling at 7000 feet. Even our towering mountain of 11,000` has struggled to maintain the bare minimum of ski runs open. In the midst of all things change, we endeavored to get our family photos taken. We were thrilled with the outcome of the pictures, less thrilled with the prevalence of wrinkles, grey hair and a kid who is almost as tall as I am! We are grateful to be so healthy regardless.

The last three months of 2017 were a three-ringed CIRCUS. Gavin in basketball, Scouts and band plus our involvement in philanthropic projects nearly took us under the bus. Gavin did well in his second year of basketball and finally made a few into the net. He advanced from Scout rank to Tenderfoot in his Troop and pulled straight A's again. Eric and me completed our 10th year of leading the charge at Santa's Helpers, helping to bring a full Christmas to more than 300 local families 700 kids and 60 elderly. Thank God we had an abundance of volunteers and steady donations, which are the two mandatory requirements, to pulling it off each year. Eric managed to make it through a very hectic quarter without a second engineer. He somehow did the same amount of work as two had done previously, although he would not recommend it to anyone! My business slows during the holidays so my volunteering always increases. The Chuckwagons (community pantries) also kept me busy with ongoing public relations, marketing and education. I am so thrilled with their evolution as community resources. People, non-profits and restaurants are each donating food to keep them stocked. I call these people our "cookies", fitting for a chuckwagon theme.

 Keeping food items in these Wagons, is no small task, given the extreme demand. New Mexico has the 2nd highest food insecurity rate among children and most families miss on average, 2 meals per week. Since these Chuckwagons are unregulated and not manged by an "entity," I get the opportunity to answer an abundance of  questions about who or whom is actually using the donated items. My answer is simple.

We will never really know and isn't' that the point? In the absence of knowing the recipients we are unable to judge or really have an opinion about these individuals. I do know one of the Wagons is regularly emptied and re-filled, kids are beginning to understand more about who lives in their town and these little boxes have brought our community a bit of hope in an otherwise fairly grim year for humanity. What more can you ask for in this day and age, in these uncertain times? Despite being spread quite thin, we manage to host Eric's family for Christmas, provide lodging for friends after Christmas and squeak in a trip to Alberta. Over-Achievers, yes indeed.
Evelyn~A spry 102 years of age

I cooked up a storm for two days, we ate and then packed for this very spur of the moment trip to Canada, leaving our house to friends who needed it during this time. The very day after Christmas, sheets were flying, along with trash and towels as we flipped the house from one set of guests to another! And then, with bags under our eyes and in our hands, we headed to Alberta for a week of family, fun and freakishly cold weather (even for Canucks!) Gavin's Great-Grandmother had recently celebrated her 102nd (no it is not a typo) birthday and we chose to surprise her on a whim with help from a flurry of Eric's cousins.

All Cousins
Cousins~Smoking Hot Ones

Despite the -20 and -25 degree temperatures we managed to laugh until our faces hurt on more than one occasion of late night games, late night adult chats and some incredible metropolitan food! We gorged on Indian and Thai, plus some lovely French pastries and cookies from Duchess Bakery (owned by one of Eric's family members.) And, to top it off, we finally made it out for New Years Eve for the first time in years, enjoying a multi-course French inspired meal, paired with divine libations blended and mixed by course. The food was life-changing and so were the drinks, Special thanks to Duane for driving us home this very night and to the Wysynski and Johnson families for letting us lodge in their homes. We always hate to leave Canada as does Gavin, who is surrounded by cousins his own age. I am reminded of an old adage, "don't be sad it is over, be happy it happened." Since our return home and up-teen hours of much needed sleep, we are entirely back to normal. We are all exercising, eating clean and hoping to get rid of the holidays pounds before Girl Scout Cookie Season arrives!!!

Love to All,

Friday, August 18, 2017

Three Weeks In The Crown

Upper Waterton Lake, Watterton National Park, Alberta, Canada

Maybe the old cliche' "a picture is worth a thousand words" begins to depict our summer of 2017. I said, maybe. To chronicle all we observed, all we did and all we felt, just isn't possible. We traveled by car more than 5000 miles, visited two other countries, crossed nearly a dozen rivers, visited three national parks and stayed with a couple of dear friends. We spent one entire morning watching wolves hunt bison on the Yellowstone. Truly, it was like our very own, National Geographic episode. We hiked back-country to hidden lakes where most can't or won't adventure. The Crown of the Continent, named for the jeweled peaks along the northern Rocky mountains, offers unparalleled beauty and adventure!

Mornings started at 5:30 a.m. with coffee, my map, bear spray and the daily plan. If we were energized, it was a big plan! We kayaked to several glaciers on those days. Gavin was in awe of the water. Crystalal clear, freezing cold. 
If we were feeling lazy, a small plan. Visit the visitors centers, hit Old Faithful, watch the stars by campfire. Never the less, always a plan. If you expect to do the parks right, you have to start early. Our tent was home for most of the trip with the exception of respite with friends in Montana and Utah, and one B&B (glorious lodge), two dive bars and a few restaurants. We ate our weight in huckleberry's!

I felt fortunate to see each friend, as time is passing quickly and we are all aging. I hugged them all long and hard making sure they knew it. And, I found, Gavin grew up significantly while traveling alone with his Adventure-Mom.
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After his usual phenomenal week at Vasa Camp, with dozens of cousins and Swedish culture, Gavin was able to sleep in his own bed, for three nights out of the entire month of July, before gallivanting to Denver for a STEM Camp, hosted by his God Mother, Candice. The two of them hit all of his favorites including music with a Zac Brown Band Concert, Sushi and Professional Soccer. In between camp time Candice planned trips out on the paddle board and to parks before cooking him supper and shuffling him off to bed. He loves her dearly and I am so glad they had all this fun together! 

After travelling by car for most of the summer, I found it took awhile to adjust to phones, noise, people, commitments and a clock. I guess these are signs of a remarkable journey! Please continue to scroll down to see more pictures of the wonder that is the Crown of The Continent.
"Keep close to Nature’s heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods." Jon Muir



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.

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!