Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Rogue Panda

You need a framebag. 

To carry your groceries home.

To haul your beer to the bonfire.

So it can bulge with burritos when you leave Silverton/Buena Vista. Because you will inevitably decide to do the CTR someday...(cough, cough, ahem.....MB)

To empty all over the living room floor as you stress over whether or not to take 3 bandaids or 4 on the TD.

To mail home when you get to the South Rim.

To look really cool.

To make people wonder what the hell people haul around on bikes.

To haul the bottle, not just the flask.

To load with rocks and send your significant other uphill to the store.

To support the little guy from Rogue Panda

Unique, simple and intelligent. I used his framebag and handlebar bag last summer. Nick is very clever and pays close attention to detail. Very small additions/adjustments set his bags apart in the bikepacking world and simplicity and affordability for those who want to haul groceries and beer. 

Everyone has their own personal "what works for me" preferences. The bags I used: they worked. Well. I used another very well-known brand of seatbag that, honestly, I felt like burning at one of my bivvy spots. Capacity sucked. design made it a pain to access things quickly and it didn't compress very well. It was a gift from a dear friend, for which I am very gracious, but my next seatbag will be Rogue Panda made.

He has a great deal on framebags going. Send him a picture of your bike. It arrives in the mail and it fits perfectly. 

You need a framebag.

Custom framebag for my full suspension used on the 2014 AZT 750.
Handlebar bag that took a ride to Canada from Mexico this summer

I like simple and intelligent. I like things that can withstand the abuse of a long journey or the weight of a case of beer headed to the woods. I like giving my money to the little guy. 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Jill. Explained.

For all those who just sit back and scratch their heads and wonder what the hell I am thinking/doing/saying/feeling and what could possibly be coming next. For those who share my DNA. For those who love me, hate me, judge me, criticize me, support me, gain inspiration from me, get a good laugh out of me, resent me or are generally indifferent and bored by me. For those who have dated me or befriended me with or without success. For those who have struggled to or truly do understand me.

I think, possibly,  after three decades, I may have finally opened the cereal box containing the magical decoder ring to myself:

For those who like pictures:

"Blame it or praise it, there is no denying the wild horse in us"
                                                                            -Virginia Woolf

For those who like words:

I am stunned that someone was able to pull the words (that I have been searching for and unable to say) directly out of my soul and put them in print. I aspire to write like this.

Tender of Heart and Wild of Spirit

"I believe that to feel so intensely is, paradoxically, what sets us free. To experience the ecstatic joys and the bitter lows and everything in between is to live from the heart."
                                                                                                                 -Zoe Quiney

Head itchy?

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Day One of the Rest and the Best of My Life

January 2, 2015.

These mountains are again my home.

I have grown tired of floudering around wondering where home is (Denver? Missoula?Eugene?Flagstaff?).

For 26 months and 2 days, the time since I ceased being a resident, I have asked myself so many times which place felt right. Yeah....I never could come up with a satisfying answer. I tried to force each place feel like home. I became one helluva actor. I thought I could love each of these places, but I never was able to shake that empty, barren, unfulfilled feeling.

Sometimes this feeling came to me in a whisper and sometimes it grasped my throat and slammed me up against the wall. I closed my eyes and silently longed for something more. Trying to explain this longing to people close to me was a mixed bag of results. Some truly identified and conversations would flow into the wee hours of the morning. Some identified but are far too scared to change what they have grown into believing or have been told is "comfortable." They actually had more interest in their phone/the weather/[fill in the blank]. My sense of longing increased exponentially after these trainwreck attempts. Some had already found their home and had satiated that deep longing. These conversations fostered hope for my own journey within my soul.

But throughout this time the question I kept asking myself was why I ever left? I came up with many excuses and reasons but they all boiled down to one word:


And we all know what happened to FEAR on New Years Eve:

I asked myself on the last day of 2014:

Why do I ride my bike without fear but fear being in a place where jobs and housing are not abundant?

Why do I fear living in a small town where people are happy and healthy and socially and intellectually engaging?

Why do I fear a place whose mountains bring light into my eyes and soul?

I am not scared to bite off more than I can chew, go big and fall flat on my face/ass on two wheels or two feet or four hooves, so why do I let fear jumble my thoughts and reasoning and send me on a wild search for a home? Especially since my heart knew where home was the first time I drove into the San Juan and La Plata mountains 10 years ago.

I suppose the answers to those questions are an entanglement of relationships, jobs, money, goals, perceived lifestyles, houses, and blah, blah, blah.

Perhaps the best answer came from my brother, Brian. We sat down with a fifth of Crown one rainy night and talked until 4am when I was home in Oregon just before Christmas. He is not a phone talker or a texter and the last ten years have been quick, time-limited phone calls and visits. He is not eloquent with words about emotions and feelings, but he is true, genuine and deep. He is honest and compassionate with his actions, He is also intimidatingly intelligent and talented. If you need it fixed or figured out, he is going to be the one who will do it. He has the heart of a child that is quite refreshing. He gets giddy over Christmas lights and will ramble on about them like I do my bike. He National-Lampooned 20 acres with lights, powered largely by a windmill and a solar panel. And I think my best Christmas gift ever was watching him giggle as he turned them on and off with his cell phone from the couch.

His answer was this:

"You need to master the art of not giving a fuck. Do what you need to do."

And it is that simple. My heart tells me what I need to do. Somehow, in a whirlwind of expectations, worries, stressors, goals reached and unreached, failed relationships, money, traffic, exhaustion, lack of intellectual challenges and a hundred other pieces of debris from this storm, my ears grew deaf to the voice of my heart. Coupled with my horrible, destructive habit of expecting instead of accepting, I lost my smile and my silliness.

I took a picture of myself in the mirror at my low point, just before the 4am Crown-induced sibling solving of all the world's problems:

This is the fake smile of stress, exhaustion and too much "giving a fuck."

Now compare it to my year in Durango:

That smile is real. That silliness is envigorating and contagious. That is Jill.

So is Durango the answer to everything?


Durango is home.

My home.

And the people with whom I am meant to chase down dreams, adventures and all of the beauty waiting to be discovered in these mountains already live here or will find their way here someday. Because this is where Jill lives and who Jill is. The old woman in the mirror is someone I never want to look at again.

Friday, January 2, 2015

One Last Letter...

Hey Mom,

I must tell you of my first day in this strange, new place. By the way, where are you?

I figured you were out riding your bike so when a bearded guy with kinda long hair carrying chest waders and a shotgun let the tailgate down on the truck, I jumped up into the bed and into the porta-kennel. The morning was cold and foggy but my legs are strong and young again. I shook with excitement as I saw him load the decoys.

I scratched the bottom of the kennel with excitement and spun around a couple of times as he opened the door but I waited for the command to release. The power in my back legs shot the kennel backwards as I jumped out of the truck. My nose led me in circles and I never felt fatigue or fell down. My old mossy oak neoprene vest fit around my shoulders and belly and all the lipomas were gone.

I sat as tall and straight like you told me and I could see all the ducks circle above. I couldn't help but wiggle because soon I was going to get to swim out and bring them back. But I held steady like you taught me. You would have been proud too, as I left all the decoys alone when he was setting them out.

Boom! Boom! I heard the gun and saw two mallards fall into Lake Lowell. But I waited like you taught me. I wanted to do my best. I heard my name and then did my best cannonball into the water. I brought them both back with only a little help with hand signals on the second one that got trapped in the bushes. I remembered the wagon wheel drill when he signaled I turned to the left on a left-hand back. (Instead of to the right. That was always hard for me, but I got it!)

We hunted all day, Mom, and I didn't lose any birds. I love bringing birds back. I held on softly and sat quietly at his left knee until he asked for them. I was careful not to put toothmarks in the ducks.

I loved my day. I get to go again tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day.....all I want. I can go all day and not get tired, All I think about is getting those ducks. I love it here. My legs work again and they are strong. Nothing hurts and I never get tired or thirsty. I feel like I am four years old.

I had the best steak dinner ever and curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace where he pet my ears until I fell asleep.

I wonder when you and I get to go hunting again? The bearded man said in about 70 years. So I will see you then. I will know where all the birds are and I will practice all the things I know to do so I can bring back all the ducks for you someday. I only really care about making you proud by bringing back ducks.

I miss you here, but I am happy and young again and I get to go hunting everyday. Everyday. Mom.
Cool, huh?

I love you,


Jesus is a lot better shot than you, so use the next 70 years to practice up and I will be waiting by the fire on the couch!


APRIL 30, 2001-JANUARY 1, 2015

Your soul is full of nothing but love and your heart knows nothing but loyalty and kindness...You never had to know pain. I love you and you will always be with me on every 14er, duck hunt, hike, ride and nap in the grass until I see you again......Be good, little girl.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Because I Am Too Lazy to Write.....

As the year winds down and I find myself wide awake at 1:32am looking through pics, a jolt (mmmmm....maybe more like a slight twitch) of motivation to actually publish a post this month rather than talk myself out of it like usual, produced this list. A list. Yeah. Because lists and bullet- pointed blurbs are about as long as anyone is going to pay attention anyway. And even that is pushing the outer limits of the common attention span. (C'mon, admit it).

So, yeah, anyway, that list thing.

All of these bumper stickers (well, some are bumper stickers) prompted me to fumble with my phone while driving, focus in and take a picture, thus endangering the safety of myself and others. Well, it would have been a danger except I was in Denver and traffic does not move that fast. So, I did not put anyone in danger to create this blog post because my average speed while fumbling with my phone was >5.3mph:

Unnoticed photo bomb to the left...

My opinion of Denver currently....

My Mike's bottle one night...

Could we even wrap our heads around the notion of this?

Shotgun Rider.....


Beards were cool before beards were cool....

I hope you realize this.....

Ha, and this.....

This is an actual store in Prineville, OR. Seriously.

Where it doesn't stop raining for weeks at a time.....

No caption necessary....

Aaaaaaand my all time favorite of 2014.........

Zoomed in for clarity:

Something worth giving more than a split second of attention in 2015....

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Then What?

Much writing goes on in my little world. I am loving the act of handwriting, brainstorming, dreaming in journals. A little of this:

Along with napping on a lazy, sunny Sunday here:

And this constant reminder on my fridge:

Mixes rather splendidly (or....dangerously) and produces this spattering of ideas and goals:

MB from PA, I will get to you with details on the skinny tire expedition very soon...

Wasatch will happen. Cross country ride will happen, 14er finish will happen (4 left). Nolan's---eeek! Unsure when on this one.....late July? Late Sept? Won't happen in 60 hours, or anywhere even close, Crazy, painful, yet slightly enticing RAAM ideas have been planted in my head for 2016.....May and June's adventure will give me a good idea if that silliness will happen....

Sure will be fun to see where this all goes.......

Monday, October 27, 2014

A Winter of Return

My thoughts today took me to the main street of a tiny town. If you look very closely at a state map of Oregon, you will barely see the minute black dot in the small font that represents this little town.

Prairie City, Oregon.

Home of the mighty Panthers that (hopefully still) draw the majority of the town to the football field and the gym on Friday nights, this little-known gateway to the rugged, pristine and relatively untouched Stawberry Mountain Wilderness harbors exactly zero stoplights. The old Chevron station on the east end of main street probably sports its usual "Welcome Hunters" sign by now and I bet either Kelly or Barb would still pump my gas. The grocery store, the bank, the cafe and the mini-mart all lie on the quarter mile of blacktop where I rode old Jazz with my freshly polished boots, pigtails, spurs and cowboy hat in the 4th of July parade in the 80's. I yelled, screamed and cheered with my class on our float, pulled by Reuben's 1960 Chevy in the Homecoming Parade in the late 90's, and then only set foot on it maybe five times after the turn of the century. A few GO PANTHERS banners and window paintings in orange and black and jack-o-laterns, ghosts, skeletons and witches decorate the rest of the window spaces. Friends I graduated with probably work for or own some of the businesses that hope for an influx of western Oregon and out of state elk hunters, followed by a good tourist crowd next summer to keep the lights on. I took my color-book offerings to my great-grandmother and great aunt in the nursing home across from the Chevron when I was very young and then in highschool, cruised up and down the street it faced in Jennifer's white Ford Escort.

Cattle ranches still surround the tiny town in almost every direction, but the sawmill on the west end of town that, at one time, either directly or indirectly fed and clothed every child in the school district sits silent. I would bet heavily that The Hitchin Post still serves the Logger Burger and a caramel Coke, both of which we used to preorder for lunch from the rotary dial phone in the hallway right before Mr. Gerry's class. Well, that is, when we had a few extra bucks that hadn't gone into the gas tank to get out to the woods to stand around the bonfire the night before.

Today, there is an art gallery that sits next to the bank with a copper horse hanging outside. It is filled with hundreds of pieces of creative work representing thousands of hours behind an easel or throwing clay. There are pieces that have hung in Las Vegas at the National Finals Rodeo, there are pieces that have hung in reputable juried art shows, there are pieces that have hung in galleries all over the western United States, there are pieces that have been commissioned by people from everywhere and there is, most recently, gorgeous pottery (one-of-a-kind tooled leather style) sitting on every available flat surface above the floor.

In order to appreciate this gallery, one must have an interest in or appreciation for western and wildlife art.

Passion and talent to create artwork such as this is as foreign to me as riding a mountain bike from border to border is to the artist. I could not imagine finding the time, ability, inspiration or motivation to even begin to draw a stick horse, in the same way the artist would never dream of riding a balloon-tired, heavy, obnoxious looking bike in freezing cold temperatures for miles on snowy roads and trails.

Sooooooo....why do I care about this art gallery in an economically stuggling podunk town with no intersections busy enough to warrant a stoplight? 

Because I actually have much in common with the phenomenal, passionate, brave, compassionate and beautiful soul responsible for the creation of this art and the existence of the Copper Horse Gallery. We both think big and dream bigger. We feel the pull of the words our hearts speak to us. We do not choose to ignore it in favor of being who we are not. We pretty much laugh at the absudities of conventional thinking and doing when it discourages following an innate passion, promotes caring only for oneself and denies any human soul to shine. 

Oh, and she also was kind enough to give me an X chromosome a while ago.

I am returning to help my mom live her dreams, just as she has unconditionally supported mine from the first breath of Oregon air I inhaled. It is time. For two months this winter, before I move back to Durango, I will be giving everything I have to see her gallery built out of sacrifice, hardwork and determination succeed. This gallery and the work it contains needs to be known. This gallery can and will thrive despite its location. 

Mom, Wheels and I will see you in November. I know you have been waiting for this post for a long time. Somewhere deep inside I think all the miles of pedaling this summer helped me to realize how much I needed to write this.....

Oh, and clear a space for my Pugsley. I hear its going to snow in Oregon this winter.

"Home is where the heart can laugh without shyness. Home is where the heart’s tears can dry at their own pace." 
                  ~Vernon Baker