seek and you shall find

My heart is longing for something unknown to my mind.


It began on the Solstice.

Last year at that time, I was celebrating one of my best friends as she married her best friend among other best friends beneath a gorgeous blue sky and among a beautiful Eastern forest. But this year, I embraced a bluebird day of bluegrass in Telluride.

My mind started to roam as I watched a surreal crescent moon rise among far away planets…

Last Tuesday brought the final day of my mother’s first visit to the West – a whirlwind tour of Colorado, Arizona, Utah and a wee bit of New Mexico…

Next Tuesday brings in-laws, sharing more stories about why we love where we are, and hoping to inspire more friends and loved ones to explore with us…

I missed our crazy cattle dogs; locked up tight in a kennel back home…Home. Home?

My mind wandered, trying to define what Home is to me. I was (and am) longing for something that I cannot define. is it the road? Is it a four walled structure back in our new town? Is it something else? As more stars began bursting onto a blue-hued crisp summer night, I thought more.

I realized that in the same way my definition of Love shifts and changes as I grow, Home does the very same. Home used to be a trout stream under a stand of Eastern Hemlocks bordered by black raspberries, wine berries, and maple trees. But like all things in my life – so I am finding – Home changes. For me, now, Home is a week of bluebird days. Home is a cool summer night when a sweatshirt and shorts fits the bill perfectly. Home is a night sky so vast you lose yourself among the stars. Home is even a backcountry powder day. And sometimes, Home is undefinable – it’s a moment or a feeling that I can’t quite articulate when I experience it, but it Is.

For ten days, Home was my mom in the passenger seat and the two of us sharing the open road and big western skies.

Where do you call home?

on the wall in arches
::”Is this the desert? Yes, Mom, this is the desert”, Arches National Park, UT::

holding walls at Arches
::Exploring some red rock at Arches National Park, UT::

mom and collegiates
::Collegiate Peaks, CO::

legs and arches
::Toes on ancient sands, Arches National Park, UT::

sunset walk
::Hinman Park looking into Zirkel Wilderness, CO::

Horseshoe Bend pan 2
::Horseshoe Bend, Page, AZ::

come ride with us

7,800 feet & climbing

Incredible expanse

Seemingly untouched

Free to roam

….


The San Luis Valley is unlike any place I have ever visited or lived. It’s the highest alpine desert in the country, it’s bookended by two of the most impressive mountain ranges and largest wilderness areas in the lower 48 (San Juan’s Weminuche Wilderness & Sangre de Cristo’s Wilderness), it’s sunny (almost all the time), living life like it’s a vacation is the norm, and the locals are, well..you get the picture.

Most of all, getting outside – solo or with a solid crew of folks – is easy.

I’ve decided to initiate weekly Taco Tuesday Single Track Adventures! Each Tuesday, if you’re in the valley and up for some good time mountain biking & tasty after-ride taco treats (and refreshing beverages), you should join us!! A great time will surely be had by all…

rY.

Here are some photos from this weekend’s latest adventure, just in case you have your doubts…

Penitente Loop Ride

::Riding rocks (Penitente Canyon, San Luis Valley, CO)::

Penitente Loop Ride 4

::Gotta get up to get down (Penitente Canyon, San Luis Valley, CO)::

Penitente Loop Ride 2

::Cattle dogs get it, too (Penitente Canyon, San Luis Valley, CO)::

Sam and Emma

::A View of the Sangre de Cristo Range (Penitente Canyon, San Luis Valley, CO)::

Climbers in Penitente

::Our Lady of Guadalupe (Penitente Canyon, San Luis Valley, CO)::

Hiking out Wagon Tracks

::Hiking Wagon Tracks Trail (Penitente Canyon, San Luis Valley, CO)::

going solo

Day 8 on the road.

It’s always a challenge to go out, leave everything behind and embrace the events to come. It’s even harder to keep a blog moving forward when internet access and general access to the plugged-in world are extremely limited. It’s a bitter sweet way of life sometimes, I suppose.

A Recap:

I have spent the last few days in southern and central California – an interesting place to say the least. Day 1 was a late-morning/mid-day drive from Fresno to Riverside. Verdict? Riverside is intense. It felt like I was surrounded by a million individuals, constantly on the move. I would wake up to the sound of street sweepers and fall asleep to the screams of men and women bar-hopping in the distance.

Once the week ended, I headed for this hills – off to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks for a few days prior to Yosemite for another week of training/professional development…

Sequoia was unreal: a rather impressive place with incredibly dynamic weather patterns. Site 13 in Buckeye Flat is where you want to be: River-side in a whole new light. The Middle Fork of the Kaweah River lulled me to sleep – the first sleep I’ve had alone in the forest without some partner in crime and exploration. It was magical. It was a confidence boost and helped me to prove that I am as strong a woman as I thought I was. It was a very empowering evening.

Buckeye Flats River View
::Middle Fork of the Kaweah River at Buckeye Flat Campground, Sequoia NP::

The morning brought semi-torrential downpours, but when in Rome, you better explore – especially if a second visit is not yet in the cards. I headed north with a second-hand rain coat and a positive mind.

The clouds were thick, everything was socked-in worse than I could have imagined. In fact, I had not seen fog like that since spring break 2008 in Great Smoky Mountains NP (now that was a trip and a half! But we’ll save that for reminiscing over a beer some time…). As I drive the General’s Highway, the plan – after deep deliberation with a NPS colleague and his wife at the Ol’ Buckaroo food truck in Three Rivers, CA – was to camp at Azalea Campground on the King’s Canyon NP site of the two parks.

However, this happened:

General Sherman
::General Sherman (Sequoia NP)::

Please excuse the ridiculous look on my face [insert goofy smiley emoticon here], that’s the General Sherman. And while it was raining at 5,000 feet, it was dumping snow at 6,000. Outcome? The park closed the remaining General Sherman highway route through the north end of the park. I turned around to drive the hour+ to the south end of Sequoia and worked on a new plan…

Quick side-note: A realized, after I awoke in my lovely well-drained but sopping wet campsite that I had forgotten a lighter. The Jetboil I brought with me is the newer style, which means: No ignition. ‘What does this mean’, you ask? No coffee. No breakfast. No good. Also, the payphone down the road – oh, did I mention there is no Verizon service from the gateway town (Three Rivers) until you reach the Kings Canyon side? – ate my quarters. Ya. No calls that morning, either…but I digress…

The new plan:

It was Friday morning.

I had no campsite waiting for me in Kings Canyon any longer (the Ranger at the entrance station confirmed my assumptions – Azalea was buried under a few inches of snow).

And I was hungry and in desperate need of the bean juice (that’s coffee for those of you who don’t necessarily know me all that well).

Cue breakfast at the Ol’ Buckaroo.

No joke: You need to go to this place. Phenomenal food, beverage, and service. Seriously. Just go. I had the “Cowboy Breakfast” – 2 friend eggs (eeks, over EASY!), scrumptious potatoes with hard salt, greens (I think they were dandelion, and yes, they were awesome), and what tasted like a freshly-pressed cup of coffee..all mine.

Decadence.

With a full stomach and a new mission in mind, I headed the long way to Yosemite – up the central valley, through the southern entrance & off to Camp 4 for the next few days.

Since it’s late & I’m ready to crash, I think I’ll save the rest of the story for another day… (to be continued)

Camp 4
::Keeping it legal – 6 bucks & you get all you need…(Camp 4, Yosemite NP)::

Four. More. Days.

lost and found

Sometimes I feel lost – – lost in an unknown whirlwind of time and to-do’s; of must happen, should happen, and could happen’s.

This is when I find myself sitting down in the driver’s seat, on the plush hand-me-down/partially inherited sofa, or on the floor of the warmly carpeted loft-ish room in our new home … lost in thought. But even more often, when thought gets the best of me, I naturally progress to images – photos of places I have experienced and explored (by choice and by necessity).

When I looked back into the vault that was 2009, the image above appeared vividly. I saw dragons and fairies. Wandering hearts, lust, loss, darkness, and the light within. I saw the captivating flame of the unknown that I wished to embrace.

Tonight, I’m seeking “found” as I am think of adventure – from six years ago to today. Alaska is fresh in my memory and I can taste the next trip on the tip of my tongue…


celings
::Katmai National Park (March 2015)::

eight hundred feet of ash

::Katmai National Park (March 2015)::Naknek River
::Naknek River in Katmai National Park (March 2015)::

rivers and mountains
::Nearing the Valley of 10,000 Smokes in Katmai National Park (March 2015)::

IMG_3797
::Bison Roadblock in Yellowstone National Park (October 2013)::

YELL GRTE 43
::Seeking Geysers at Yellowstone (October 2013)::

Fishing St Croix
::Fishing St. Croix (May 2014)::

San Juan PR
::Archway into San Juan, PR (May 2014)

PA Flowers
::Unexpected Treasure at Delaware Water Gap (2004)::

Unexpected Finds - Red Eff
::Red Eft (2004)::

Steamboat Springs
::Looking into Wilderness outside of Steamboat Springs (June 2009)::

Valley of 10000 smokes
::Valley of 10,000 Smokes at Katmai National Park, AK (March 2015)::

alaska

Sometimes I struggle with how to start the first sentence of a post. I have so many single words I could list…

Inspired.  Honored.  Grateful.  Challenged.  Brief.

Today, I wanted to share some of my written words from the latest installment of my job: A week in the Alaska bush. But, of course, I am just struggling a bit with how to start…perhaps a date will work?

::24 March 2015::

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Morning in Alaska is not morning in Colorado.


In fact, in late March, one would think – in a warm winter such as this one – morning here was actually early evening in a late Pennsylvania fall. Though, this year is not quite like most…perhaps I should rephrase my thought process here:

In fact, in late March of 2015, one would think this morning in this place feels more like the early fall mornings in Pennsylvania. 

It is dark – sunrise eventually greets you around 8AM.

It is warm – temperatures do not chill you the way one would think this place should.

But, when I am here, I wake refreshed & rejuvenated. For being seventy-three feet above sea level, even the air is welcoming to breath.

I also wake with a desire to fish – to be within the water & among the life blood of the salmon.


::25 March 2015::

Today, I was saddened by the “waste management facility” we toured.

Travesty may be a harsh word to use…so I decided to put a filter on myself, but in my personal opinion (no reflection of any organization or agency that I may work for here…and no that’s not necessarily a disclaimer, but it is certainly getting to the fact that I have my own mind about me) it is in fact a sad place to see.

Here, the landfill is a feeding ground for iconic species: bald eagle, brown bear; national symbol, spiritual figure.

Here, what comes in, stays in…and it would seem that life (human habitation) comes at a cost to the environment.

So the question is: How do we fix it?

How do we sustain ourselves without bing a detriment to the reason we come to this place? 

How do we change a culture?


::26 March 2015::

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Salmon.

A wild life force unto itself. A fish that can draw thousands to one place every year and a food source for the wild life that exists in this place – a resource that which sustains so many: the brown bear, the tourist & the Native.

And finally, an inspirational being (fish being that is).

How is it that this one giant of the AK waters can do so much?

For me, it inspires a return: A return to this place (fly rod in hand) – not just the state, but the greatest salmon fishery in the world.


I think I should also share a few views from ’53 Beaver (and the commercial flight)…

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montana

I hear Montana is Big Sky country.


Now, I’ve only been there twice – last May and last week – and both were work-related trips with limited time to explore. But I am grateful that on the latest of these, we stayed in the Flathead National Forest for two nights and actually experienced the resources in both the national forest and Glacier National Park.

These are some photos from last Wednesday, Thursday, and the drive out on Friday…

GLAC sign
::Glacier National Park Entrance in Polebridge, Montana::

Ryan in Glacier
::Looking into Glacier NP along the Flathead River, Flathead National Forest, Montana::

Ranger Cabin on the Lake
::Kintla Lake Cabin, Glacier National Park::

Peak in Glacier
::Views along the trail to Kintla Lake, Glacier National Park::

Kintla Lake
::Kintla Lake & a view into Canada, Glacier National Park::

Kintla Lake (black and white)
::Lakeside Reflections, Glacier National Park::

River Cross
::Crossing the Middle Fork of the Flathead River::

Wurtz Cabin sign
::Wurtz Homestead, Flathead National Forest::

Wurtz Cabin
::Wurtz Cabin, Flathead National Forest::

rambling across the mountains of colorado seeking adventure and inspiration…