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!