Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Crazy Canucks in Canada


The Orange Group, Silly Shot, At Vasa Camp
 Alas, we have returned and recovered from more than two weeks of vacation in Alberta. Choosing the word "recovered" explicitly because the Canadian extended family always shows us too much of a good time.

We had not been back in years' and were happy to see the family healthy and growing in numbers. Gavin was astounded at the sheer number of cousins related to him. The Canucks were just as eager as ever to teach us the next drinking/athletic game, take bets on whether we could be successful or embarrassed, subsequently handing us another adult beverage regardless of the outcome. Such friendly people.

Gavin and Cousin Nathan
Alberta is gorgeous this time of year. Lush with evergreens, flowers and raging rivers. We spent several days in the big city, Edmonton, shopping at the 2nd largest mall in the world, which housed an enormous indoor waterpark, a full-size hockey arena and one helleva a western store. (I shot my wad on some lovely boots.) All built to entertain the Canucks during their long winters.The running trails are endless and I enjoyed several runs through the White Mud Nature Preserve, appreciating the lower altitude and the ease of distance. Thanks to Kiri and Duane for letting us stay at their lovely home while in the City. Please send your Nanny our way! 

Boat Baby

Our trip centered around Gavins' attendance to Vasa, a Swedish Camp for children, held each year at Pigeon Lake. The Lake holds a rich history for the Johnson family as Evelyn and her husband were early pioneers in establising the property, bringing in electricity and additional members. Johnson cousins started the first Vasa camp and their relatives continue to volunteer as Directors and in other capacities to this very day. LeAnne and Lincoln, you did a fabulous job and your parents would have been so proud. :)

I volunteered with Kiri, Erics' first cousin, in the Craft Shed. Eric enjoyed the extended daylight hours finding more time to visit and indulge in beer and golf while fulfilling the role of floating Volunteer at Camp. He taught two kids how to ride a bike, delivered water and filled in as needed. In addition, we both coached volleyball. Guess you would call this, a working vacation!

I must say, throughout all of my years attending various camps as a child then serving as Camp Counselor, I have never seen one held with this much organization, cultural education and structure. All of this wrapped up in biking, endless lake swimming, tug a war (in the mud) and a variety of outdoor athletic games. Seriously, it blew Eric and I away, and was a screaming deal at $60.00 for the week, including three hots a day. We devoured our Swedish pancakes, made from scratch meatballs, pea soup and desserts. The family secured us a guest cabin and 5th Wheel so we stayed on the property the entire time but only saw glimpes of a very happy and contented Gavin. Til now, his camp bracelet remains on his wrist, wear he vows to wear it, until camp occurs in 2013. Dare I say, it was the experience of his lifetime, thus far. 

Erics' first stint on a wakeboard


Gavin is now a Cub Scout, I am a Den Leader and Eric a Committee Member. I am the newsletter, agenda, calendar writing fool.

The fire left Ruidoso scarred and continues to affect the local economy due to the loss of recreational activity. Efforts are underway to market the resources that are lesser known and thus far it has not affected the normal invasion of Texans.

Gavin starts school on August 13th, not one day to soon.

Eric is continuing to work on his three-year contract for relocation of the Villages entire sewage system. Sounds nasty but pays well.

I am still working for Candice quarter-time and assisting with training of our distributors and direct hospital sales in NM. Since we licensed the product it has a new name, Medi Hydra Pak, and will be  produced and order fulfilled elsewhere. We closed our site here this week and shipped our entire inventory to the new contractor. Wish us luck!

In closing, we are home the remainder of this year, with the exception of a few weekend jaunts for running races, camping and our (Gavin and I) usual Fall journey to Texas. We spent last weekend at Ute Lake so expect a few pics from that adventure shortly.  I was a fishing machine, but they were all to little to keep.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

She'd Been Everywhere; Esa B. 1997-2012

Five Lakes Basin, NorCal, Circa 2000
After one month of Esa's absence I am finally able to write this post. During these days I have concluded the following; our lives will never be the same, I am a better person for having had her as a companion for nearly 15 years, the knot in my chest is there for a worthwhile reason, and dogs do not make our lives, but loving them truly brings a depth of uncondionality humans are incapable of generating. 

Esa went wherever I went, without hesitation, to work, on every run, through mountain ranges of snow and ice and across many rivers. She really had been everywhere. Here are the highlights;
South Baldy, Magdalena's, New Mexico, Circa 2004

  • Adopted from a Humane Society event in Albuquerque, she was clearly the most unhealthy animal available at present; she was also the most intelligent and alert. I fell in love with her because she had an air of "what you see is what you get, take it or leave it," which I could relate to and admire.
  • Six moves, two across multiple state lines, cruising in my Blazer and crashing in hotels.

Day 1 of Her Arrival, Albuquerque, 1997
  • She and I hiked and/or backpacked more than 12 mountain chains.
  • At the very least, we ran more than 2400 miles together.
  • She reared Gordy and was a valiant protector of Gavins' for more than 6 years.  
    Shasta Lake, NorCal, Circa 2001
  • In pursuit of a squirrel, she could sprint so fast across a flat plane, her momentum would propel her body up a tree in excess of 5'.
  • A collie mix who spent years' teaching us agility training by retrieving and then guiding her ball back to us using her snout and fore-legs; Fetch was for a lesser being.
  • Esa never visited me in the shower, until 2 days before her passing. She was looking for comfort I could not give at present but would commit to giving two days later when she died on my lap in our living room. She knew I always kept my word.
    Red River, New Mexico, 2011
     Thanks to God for bringing this little girl into my life. I pray I will always feel the presence of her shadow nearby.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Finding More Happy"

An insightful friend recently asked me "why do you run?" Sensing it is obviously more than just a fitness fetish for me and many of her running relatives, I replied "it is not about the running." She gave me a thoughtful glance, fraught with more questions, she was not ready to articulate. I simply said, "the running is just a way to get to my happy place." Running, is cathartic; it's about pushing your endurance and gaining clarity and perspective; it's about finding my happy place." During the run you are pushing extremes and for a brief moment the world just seems to align, everything has its place. Afterward, you get to ride those feelings out for hours while your endorphins provide a steady stream of naturally derived chemicals into your bloodstream. So, I am addicted and unashamed of my "habit." At the end of the day, I am just a better person in all the role(s) I fulfill. For these reasons, I run. The fact I am fortunate to have two running partners, whom I consider very cherished friends, to keep me motivated, accept me with all my faults (there are many) and always generate laughter, is just purely magical. Thus, the pursuit of larger challenges and greater adventure temp me and I follow.

My first half-marathon in El Paso was really rewarding. The initial 3 miles of the course included memorable architecture including two beautiful churchs. The remainder lacked glamour but offered the challenge of a decent hill. The company of my running partners, their children and a visiting brother all piled into four hotel rooms for the weekend was the icing on the cake. We hit the zoo, lounged around the hotel like sloths and then bared our legs for nearly 2 hours with a starting outdoor temp of 25 degrees. Talk about T.H.O! All three of us ran sub-2 hour half marathons and our girlfriend Renae (not pictured) rocked in at 4th place in her age group with slightly over 8 minute miles. Kevin also ran 8 minute miles and competed in a very large age/gender category crossing the line at 36 out of 95. I brought up the rear but was happy with 12th out of 71 for my age/gender category. Kevin's' Brother, Jeff competed in the Full Marathon and despite struggles with cramping, Jeff ran 10 minute miles for 26.2!

The kids' played all weekend and loved the zoo. For one kiddo this marked his very first trip to a zoo; doubtful it will be his last. :) Thanks to Eric and Paul for providing childcare so we could run. We missed our friend Amy who was at home caring for kitties. Next time Amy!

PS: "Finding More Happy" is a quoted phrase from a good friend.