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












Tuesday, October 7, 2014

South Colony

There are moments when it all makes sense. The pondering stops and no words need (or can even be) uttered. There are seemingly no thoughts. yet they do exist. They just don't need clarified.

Because clarity has arrived for a fleeting moment. Perfectly understood in my soul, yet unexplainable with human speech...

A campfire and tent in early October.

The moon rising long before the sun setting.

Rainbow trout cooking, caught less than one thousand feet away.

One of maybe five people in a gigantic basin at 11k'.

I lift my eyes from my trance induced by the patterns the red hot coals make in the ashes.

And see that God's hand left me this on the easel tonight.....


For what more could I ask?

Nothing.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Trees Always Win

I sat just below the trail and gazed at a pristine valley in front of me last weekend in the middle of a lazy fall ride I joined in on after much debate within. I love Kenosha to Breck. It was my first overnight bikepacking trip three years ago. On every previous trip, I have felt alive, inquisitive and free. I imagined wings on my back and reverted to my ten year-old self at some point every time. Why, then, was I just sitting here with a blank semi-stare, clearly NOT present? I am not sure where my mind was, just not there. The trail was like the Cherry Creek mall on the weekend before Christmas. Hoards of people.

I thought of taking a picture of the parking lot and shoulder of 285 that looked (sticking with the mall image here) like, yeah, the parking lot at Cherry Creek. And I thought about taking a picture of the trees. But I had no desire to replicate the 50 or so pictures I had seen posted on Facebook the day before. Yawn. So, instead, I took a picture of the results of my short standoff with an Aspen tree on the descent to the parking lot:


Why did I just post my bruised shoulder? Yes. As humans we want to share, talk and laugh about our triumphs and follies. And it has become kind of fun to show "damn, I was lucky but check this out" pictures. I love it when it involves voice and facial expression but I also know that the world and life and social interaction is different. That I accept and feel fine with.

But my own, personal struggle that bothers me is the ever-lingering (almost annoying) desire to take a picture to let everyone else know what I am doing. Why do I feel this?

Where has this demon been lurking and why do I let it steal the moment from me? If I don't share my view of the yellow trees between Kenosha and Breck, is it not as valuable? Is the current moment not satisfying enough? Am I looking outward for validation that yes, indeed, I am having fun?

I honestly don't even want to take a picture, maybe in this case because I have seen so many already, yet I feel an (urge? habit? duty?) to do just that. Isn't that strangely approaching an addiction-like definition? Is that addictive part of me taking away from what I strive/love/yearn to do--be present and aware? Instead, I am distracted by the part of me that wants to record/share it. Wait, then am I even actually "here"?

Whoa. Slow down, Cowgirl. Calm the brain.

I closed my eyes and looked deep inside. I tuned out the voices, footsteps and noise from all the people passing by, laid back in the grass and took about ten deep breaths. I opened my eyes and watched the white clouds above me and the black mass of clouds approaching from the west. My nostrils felt the slight tingle from the cool air of an approaching thunderstorm. I just lied there for about 20 minutes thinking of, well, nothing really.

Then I sat up and saw so much more than a bunch of yellow trees. I saw intricate details and patterns in scars on the trunks, I saw the color gradients on individual leaves as well as entire stands. I saw and inhaled and felt each second as it passed. I thanked God for the opportunity I had to be exactly where I was at exactly this moment and the light it brought to my soul. It took effort to bring my mind to this place but I was instantly filled with joy that I was still capable. Nature brings me here when I let her. I am fully aware, free of distraction, free of expectations and truly cherish the gift of simply being, living and existing. I want nothing more. There is nothing better.

Nothing.

And that, is the main reason I quit Facebook. My addictive tendencies are stirred enough by social media that they steal the present moment from me. Similar to the way worry, stress and exhaustion functions to do the same thing, I can't deactivate my "worry, stress and exhaustion accounts" (heh, wouldn't that be cool?), I can only manage them and reduce them. They have been part of my existence since I was old enough to worry about an upcoming spelling test in the first grade and they will always be around. Those I know very well, I know their tricks and tendencies. They are old demons. I know the punches that will knock those bastards silly. But this newer demon, ahhhh, he pulls some sneaky shit. He tries to steal my mountains by keeping my brain occupied with recording the moment. Thankfully, I can learn ways to knock him to the ground by hitting 'deactivate account,'

This is not a brand new battle for me. I have been fighting it for almost 4 years but it has grown a lot in 2014 and I have just chosen to write about semi-recently. If you have read my blog for a long time you may remember these as well as many thoughts from the Tour Divide postings:

http://allthingsepicwithjill.blogspot.com/2014/01/project-disconnect.html

http://allthingsepicwithjill.blogspot.com/2013/02/a-break-from-fake.html

The above are just the published version of my struggle. Some who know me personally have engaged in lengthy conversations about it, know the issue weighs on my mind and have watched me swear off it only to gradually slide back. I told my roommate about two weeks ago that I could feel a Facebook hiatus coming on and my target date was October 1st. Yesterday, two days earlier, I socked the demon in the mouth.

I have learned it is in my best interest to not use the word never, but I am pretty sure this will be quite a bit longer than a 30 day hiatus like the three times before. And (all of you reading will applaud this) I am done talking about it. But I need to do some last minute processing, which is the reason for this post.

Again, this is a personal struggle I need to come to terms with. I have some work ahead of me. It is a habit and habits take time to break. I still want to talk about the places I love and I still want to write about them, but I have to make my heart right with it. I need to live/pedal/run/climb/explore/laugh/cry/play for me. Me. Like I used to when the thought of posting something did not even exist. I need to rid thoughts of "Oooooh, that would be a good profile or cover photo" and the term "blog fodder" from my brain. Live first, document second. I am not judging anyone, I am explaining my own issues that plague me. If you relate, you get what I am saying. If you look at it differently, that is fine too. There is no need to agree on this as everyone is completely entitled to their own relationship with social media. The point of this is to reiterate to myself that I need to look within and slowly untangle my grey matter from this habit/addiction/demon--whatever the term is. Maybe someday I will be right with it, but until then, I think I have some internal exploring and realigning to do.

But for now, as humbling and embarrassing (yet cathartic in a way)as it is to admit: I know that it steals my present moment and brings (crappy-to-me feeling) urges to record it, share it and have it acknowledged. And for something that brings such things: I have two words:

Buh-bye.

Especially when it involves the mountains, trees and trails of Colorado.


Oh, here is what Wheels had to say about the whole matter:


















Sunday, September 28, 2014

I Quit

I found this in my unpublished post list tonight. Its not a letter from my dog (yes, I am having fun being silly with this), rather it was one of those that I started, thinking I had something to say and a direction, but it just kind of fizzled out. Tonight, I revived it and wrote the ending:


The early morning sunlight grinned at me as I rounded the turn and started up Marshall Pass. I thought of the previous day's miles and memories, the absolutely shitty, laborious plodding through a sandy stretch leaving Del Norte, I remembered Carnero Pass's beautiful climb and anti-climactic summit. I thought about meeting Bill, my new favorite photographer ever; the heat going over Cochetopa Pass and the fantastic conversation with the good ol' boys from Durango (and their horse!) at the top.

photo credit: Bill Baca
I thought about my previous climbs to Marshall Pass and smiled even bigger when I looked down and saw my feet clipped into the pedals. Ride Foose's Creek to the top and then fly up the 4% grade on the road and you will know just what I mean. 

Winding up around the turns, climbing in the cool morning air, knowing the screaming descent into Salida that awaited my tires--my mind was clear, my legs were being cooperative and amicable partners and my soul floated along through the trees. The Tour Divide elicits these storybook portrayals everyday for at least a few hours, usually in the early mornings and late evenings. My brain leisurely waltzed through today's storytime and began thinking back to the maroon Honda Ridgeline I saw stopped along the river south of Carnero Pass the previous day.

The driver stepped out and pointed a camera with a lens longer than my arm across the river. I glanced over to see nothing really and stopped to inquire as to the subject of the photo.

"That Golden Eagle trying to fly off that rock."

"Ahhh, now I see him...Wow!"

"Where are you headed?"

"Canada."

"Really?'

"Yep."

Questions about my bike, setup, route and the night's destination ensued and I learned that Bill was an avid mountain biker in his day. And a very lucky one as well....

While training for the Leadville 100 MTB race, he decided to go on a 20 mile ride in the area where I was headed over Carnero Pass. Rolling along through some Aspen stands, he stood up off the seat to pedal and an Aspen tree fell, clipping the edge of his seat and completely destroying his rear wheel and tire. 

After Bill completed his story in a much more lively and descriptive manner than my short summary above,  I shook my head, blinked a couple times and felt my jaw dropping in amazement. How many people do you know have survived a tree falling on their bike? How many trees fall on bikes? What are the odds? And had he not stood up at that exact moment, I never would have heard that story or met such a friendly, cool dude who continued to follow my progress throughout the rest of the journey. But more importantly, think how thankful his kids are that he decided to stand up....

Once I summitted Marshall via the lazyman's route, I turned on the afterburners, turned up the tunes and played speedracer all the way into Poncha Springs. Vrrrrrooooooooom! I kept catching myself making moto noises and giggling immediately afterward. I hit 44.3 mph, which wasn't too shabby for my skeletal self, tucked tight onto the aerobars.

Soon I was at Absolute Bikes and found that it was going to be a while before I could head out, so I went in search of food.

"Are you doing the Tour Divide northbound also?" 

A late thirty-something man in a red jersey, cooked by the sun was sitting at an outdoor table at a pizza place in Salida. I did not see his bike anywhere, but noticed he did not look overly happy and sensed the day had been a rough one for him. I wondered how anything but a smile could grace one's face after the descent off Marshall Pass.

"Yep, I am. How is your ride going?"

"Ehhh, it kinda sucks."

"Really? Was Marshall not a good ride for you?"

"Marshall? It looked really steep on the map so I took Monarch Pass to get on some pavement and had to walk my bike for miles. I finally got so tired and pissed off that I slept somewhere near the top. I hate all the cars, I feel like I am putting myself in danger everyday and its just not fun...How long did it take you to get through New Mexico? I was hot and miserable and felt like it would never end."

"Five and a half days."

"Shit. It took me eleven....but I am just touring. I have all summer off, so time doesn't matter."

"That's great that you have all summer, I would love to have the time to spend a day or two at some of the places in northern New Mexico and near Horca. What a surreal, beautuful and magical area, huh?"

"Not really. I just had to push my bike all the time. I mean, it was ok I guess, but I don't really know why I am out here, I planned for so long and am not sure why I am doing this. By the way, is that all the gear you have?"

His voice was rough and I could sense a slight aura of anger in his words. Trying to lighten the mood a little I made myself the butt of a couple of humorous minimalist jokes that did not even elicit a return smile. Whoa, this dude was really in a hole of miserable. A deep one.

"Yeah, I am weighing in around 40-41lbs depending on how much food I have on board."

"Hmmmm, do you ever push your bike?"

"Not much so far."

Silence.

"Well, I don't stay in hotels, I don't shower and I don't even stay in campgrounds. That's my rule."

I had to turn my head away and cover my mouth, pretending to clear my throat so he would not see my smile and so I could stave off laughter. "Hmmmm, I see, but what prompted you to make that rule for yourself?"

"Because I can."

Wow, that was pretty much my cue to wander down the street to another place to eat. This guy didn't want to casually chat, he wanted a sounding board. I opened my mouth and took a breath to form a polite exit excuse and then stopped myself. This was the first cyclist I had encountered since I saw Big Dave in Cuba as he blew by. As unpleasant and gruff as this guy was, something told me that I should accept his offer to sit and eat some lunch. Maybe it was my fascination with understanding the psychological workings of people who choose to ride the GDMBR and their motivations, maybe it was just my intuition telling me to be a kind ear or maybe I needed a good example of a bad attitude to avoid.

I took off my gloves and helmet and sat down. The midmorning sun was beginning to heat up and as rough and dirty as I surely looked even having taken a shower since I started, he looked pretty exhausted, sunburned, windburned and harbored a fulltime half-scowl on his face.

"I wonder if you would enjoy the ride a little more if you took a shower?"

"I don't know, this is just not that great. It's not what everyone says it is. It's really hard and I am tired of pushing my damn bike all the time."

He pointed at my bike.

"Really, Jill, where is all your stuff? And your wheels are bigger than mine. But I am not SPOT-tracking and I don't stay in hotels or shower, not even a campground. I have all summer off to do this, I have a great job."

Whoa, where do I even start in replying? I played the positive/pretty places card. "Wasn't La Manga Pass a beautiful descent? How did you like the views from Brazos Overlook? Did you eat good food in Platoro?"

"I have pushed my bike so many hours. I think it may be too heavy...."

The negativity continued for another ten minutes. I let him vent his doom and gloom, offering only subtle and kind suggestions of ways to be more comfortable and allieviate his misery, getting only anger-filled justifications for responses. Having been in very similar gloom/fatigue holes, I empathized, but was secretly relieved when my food came. I wished him luck and headed for the bike shop with my right hand on the handle bar and my left stuffing my face with food.

I saw Mr. Angry three more times before the Canadian border. Once a few minutes later at the bike shop as he was starting out for the big climb out of Salida. I saw him again about three hours later on the climb pushing his bike. I offered all the genuine encouraging words I could think of and pedaled on, figuring I would never see him again and silently hoping he would lighted up the 85lb menagerie he was pushing (no exaggeration, as I saw it on the scale at the shop in Salida!) and somehow find some happiness in his journey.

A couple weeks later in Whitefish, MT at a street festival, my jaw dropped. How in the world could he have gotten here so quickly? Yes, I had a major mental collapse in Pinedale which put me in a deep, dark, shit-filled gloom hole and lost an entire day, but there was just no way.....

I smiled. "Hey, you are almost there!"

"I finished."

"Holy crap! Did you trade your bike for a motorcycle?" "Or a rocketship?" I tried the make-a-joke approach but the same scowl that I saw back in Salida still prevailed. "Did you have a cold Canadian beer in Banff?"

"No, I am only riding border to border. No sense in going to Canada. I am catching the train outta here in an hour. I took some highway detours. Just wanted to get this over with so I can say I did it."

I stood in the middle of the food vendor trucks and tried to pay attention to the conversation, but I was pretty much done. He was no happier than when I first met him in Salida, so I let him vent all his disappointment of the journey once again. When he finished, I smiled, congratulated and complimented his effort with the friendliest and kindest words I had and just walked away.

To. Say. I. Did. It.

I thought about those four words and wondered to whom he was going to say he did it? To himself? To his family and friends? Students? To Facebook? To his blog? He was clearly miserable the whole trip and would not take a shower or change a bike setup that he disliked having to push up all the hills. This guy was tough as hell. He held strong to what he set out to do but suffered the whole way and took paved roads to make it easier. Not knowing him and going off only what I observed and heard in conversation with him, I kept wondering if he would have finished if no one had known he was riding? If he had no one to tell of his showerless month of riding and camping, would he have finished it? Would he have held fast to his rule or would he have made himself more comfortable and found some enjoyment in what he was seeing along the route?

My thoughts returned to this guy as I pedaled the days away and my mind wandered here and there. I had never encountered such a genuinely unhappy cyclist. It was totally foreign to me. Sure, I have seen many riders in pain and agony from fatigue, but it is all a bit tongue-in-cheek, because in a weird, sick way, we all love the suffering we inflict upon ourselves. Those who truly hate it quit racing. I think that's what puzzled me a great deal as well: the guy was touring, NOT racing, and suffering like a dog. But, as I mentioned before, I do not know him, so my only conclusions are based on inferences.

Running across this guy and his words "To say I did it..." kept haunting me and I chose to elaborate so extensively because it relates directly to a recurring issue I have yet to make right within myself. Miles and miles were spent pedaling and thinking about my ongoing struggle with and social/relational challenges in the

                                             I SHARE THEREFORE I AM

world. I do not have the personality type that will ever see social media as "real life." It does not sit right in my heart the way we connect and communicate. I need words, emotions, facial expressions, laughter that I can hear, not laughter I see written as LOL. Yet I do it. Everyday. Whether I want to or not, I habitually log into Facebook. I get completely bored with the overly-enhanced pictures and wonder about the compulsion to make real life pictures better. I eventually get tired of the constant noise and deactivate my account, but anywhere between two and four weeks I am back. Why?

Time to get real honest.

I, too, feel some sort of compulsion to share. It exists. I share because I want to tell people what I am doing.

I questioned my heart for many miles on that topic. What the hell have I become? Why did this compulsion arise? Why does it feel so wrong yet I do it? Why do I ignore that feeling and do it anyway? I ultimately wished I could find a culture where sharing every aspect of our lives was done through human interaction instead of electronically. Ha, yeah right, Jill. It is 2014, not 2004. I thought about how when I started this blog and joined Facebook, my brain was different. It was not a habitual thing to post and record my life to put on display. I honestly wanted to use them as a memoir of my own and to inspire people to chase big dreams. Because, hey, if a complete no one from nowhere can make a run at some crazy dreams that fuel her inner fire......

But somewhere, somehow, someway life is becoming this:




Yeah, I laughed too. But then it hit home pretty hard.

My quit date is October 1.

The personally negative (addictive) effects I experience and am acutely aware of everyday, yet for some reason choose to basically ignore coupled with the degradation of my friendships and relationships far far far outweigh the good things social medial has brought.

Yes. There are good things. Many.

But not enough anymore.

I checked and I joined Facebook in July of 2009 and I immediately wished I had back just half of the time I have wasted. I don't want to wish for time back ever again. I don't want to struggle with it anymore.

I want it gone from my thoughts. I want to deepen existing relationships with the beautiful, inspiring and genuine people I know the old-fashioned way. I want to continue to do epic shit and not feel a compulsion to post a picture of it. Call me an old soul. Call me overly-sensitive. Call me an over-analyzer. All I know is that my heart is not right with me having a Facebook account.

And I must listen to what it says.
































Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Advice From the Wisest Old Lady I Have Ever Known



From The World According to Wheels (a collection of letters written to me, Jill, by my 13.5 year old black lab as I navigate/pursue a maddeningly beautiful existence):





Ok, what the.....??

I have to experiment, explore and breathe a bit of life into this blog. The fact is, I am really bored with it but want to continue posting. Thus, I am taking a small hiatus from aiming bunch of cliched adjectives and clever one-liners in your direction, opening the lid of my soul and dumping it out through my fingertips and then pasting a buttload of pictures (which I still refuse to enhance with technology) of my bike with hopes of inspiring you to do what you think you can't. 

Don't get me wrong, my utmost hope when I began this blog is exactly that and it has not deviated one bit still today, but I just need to do something a little different for a while. So, let's see where it goes. There probably won't be a ton of explanation as to what I am talking about or the premise behind the randomness, but I am betting you will relate in some way (or you won't). Either way, feel free to laugh at me.






Saturday, September 13, 2014

More from the Journal....Very Random


June 30, 2014

As I look at my bank account. I feel like Harry Dunne: "I spent my life savings turning my van into a dog..."



July 4, 2014


I saw the fireworks over Seeley Lake tonight. I am writing from my "pent(out)house suite" at the Nordic Trails trail head. Sleepy but restless as I mull over the fact this state has taken ahold of my soul a bit. From Red Rocks Pass and the Centennial Valley to Seeley Lake, there has been no part of Montana that I did not feel myself wanting to further explore and stay longer.


Serenity is the concept my brain and heart kept playing with today as I rode. Serenity. The rivers, lakes and mountains exemplify the word like no other. The mountains do not hold my attention and lust like those of the majestic kings of Colorado, but they call with a softer voice--comforting and peaceful.


I ride without lights--in complete daylight--until 10pm. I drink in the cool pockets of air, I smell pine up high and fresh cut hay down low. The people of this land live with a great contentment and reflect a simplicity that is alluring. 


Could a move to Missoula compete with a return to Durango this fall? I think I need to find out.....



July 5, 2014


While waiting for my precious and steaming hot French Toast breakfast at Pop's Place the next morning, I looked out the window, then looked into my heart, grabbed a napkin and my pen. 


Here is what came out:




Note: After I got back to Denver, I did return and spent a week in Missoula. Me being me, I had to see. I had to explore the possibility of moving to Missoula even though I can't see myself calling anywhere but the San Juan mountains my true and permanent home. 


Missoula is an incredible place. Great people, small town feel, good culture, community, fishing, biking, hiking, you name it. And I could live in Missoula. 


If Durango, Colorado did not exist.....



June 24, 2014


Rawlins, WY.


My Wandering Jew died here....I loved that plant. Funny the little things that I remember. Each place I have been to along the TD brings back many, many memories. Mostly good. But not this one.....


Little did I know the plant and my marriage would share the same fate. Looking back, I think I kind of wondered. You know what they say about hindsight.....


Wow, that seems like an eternity of lifetimes ago.....wonder where he lives now? Haven't thought of him in probably 5 or 6 years. It took Rawlins to stir the memory.


Funny life is. sometimes.


(Ok, I will give you the backstory: Rawlins was where we (myself, my ex-husband and his son) stopped to stay the night on our move from Eugene, OR to Denver 9 1/2 years ago. We had a horse trailer packed with our belongings and it was freezing cold. I knew that the plant was going to freeze overnight but there was no way I could get to the tub to bring it into the motel. It did. I tried to save it but no luck. I got a tiny start a couple years ago from a friend in Silverton. It is currently thriving in my kitchen window.)



July 7, 2014


I have no words to write. None. Already written them all in my head and I am too lazy to jot them down. The Canadian Nazi Border Patrol lady is ridiculous. Don't let her get you down. Setting my alarm for 2am and will be climbing Galton Pass to see the sunrise from the top. 


I found this in a magazine at the Grocery Store in Eureka. It speaks to me. I like dares.



Dare to Be


When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.


When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.


When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.


When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.


When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.


When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.


When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.


When times are tough, dare to be tougher.


When love hurts you, dare to love again.


When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.


When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.


When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.


When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.


When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.


When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.


Dare to be the best you can –


At all times, Dare to be!”


― Steve Maraboli