Day 41

Today is the forty-first day of 2015.

It would appear that Monday began the three months of epic, nearly non-stop, events. Workshops, board meetings, meet-and-greets, skiing adventures and more…After two days on the road, my next eleven days will include two at home, three on trail in the San Juan mountains, and six in California’s Yosemite National Park. Amazing.

Tonight, as I rest after a long day of travel, the dogs lay beside me and the husband is my DJ – weaving together Jerry, the original Jack, and…is that Bobby Weir I hear? It’s nice to relax at home for an evening. To read others’ words, reminisce about last weekend, and dream of the next weekend to come.

Here are some images from this last weekend…while the pictures serve as a nice way to share this great place with all of you, the sandy gritty gravel clogging my boots out on the porch will serve as my own personal reminder.

Seeking a heeler
::Elephant-size boulders warn from the dry winds of valley::

::Emma’s treasure::

Moose & Elephants
::The overlook::

::Cacti quickly remind us that we aren’t in east anymore::

CO Pride
::When in Colorado…score epic thrifstore finds::




In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Scale.”

When I moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado, I was reminded of just how big this small world can truly be…For this week’s challenge of scale, I’d like to share a photograph from a few days after we arrived in the San Luis Valley.

Emma on dunes

::Emma at the Dunes (November 2014)::

The dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park appear to be foothills from across the valley. But standing next to these shifting sands make them appear larger than life. Our blue heeler, Emma, didn’t let that stop her from exploring full throttle.

livin’ the life…

This evening I read a blog post on The Big Outside. I always love reading Michael Lanza‘s work…it’s inspiring, informative, and his writing allows the reader to join in the adventure. After finishing posts, I tend to reminisce about past trips and dream of future excursions…but this one was different. As my mind flashed images of parks and trails I’ve visited and ramblings through mountains and along creeks, one trip in particular kept pushing the others to the side.

It was 2009. I was preparing to graduate from my undergraduate program – pending one last assignment: an internship.

Over the previous three years, I had worked each late spring through early fall as a seasonal Park Ranger with the National Park Service. Starting as a lowly fee collector, I landed my “dream job” two summers later in the Interpretation & Education Division. Ranger Ryan
::Ranger’ing about at Delaware Water Gap NRA (Pennsylvania/New Jersey 2008)::

Since this final semester was mandatory for graduation and encouraged challenging yourself and who you wanted to be in life, I took a bold and brave step: I left the place that inspired my passion for an agency, natural history education, and so many other aspects of who I was to to embark on a journey I only dreamt of: Colorado – a place I only imagined visiting not living!

So, I packed my ’98 Jetta and headed west – with ice cream, I’m sure.

::Jetta love (Pennsylvania 2008)::

Colorado welcomed me with open arms, well…more like big skies, tall trees, and more public land than I ever imaged possible. I moved into a 1-room cabin in Summit County, worked long days, long nights, and weekends, but still found time to travel north to points outside Steamboat Springs and eventually a little further west to my first western park: Arches National Park.

::View of Greys from Toreys – the Sister Peaks (Colorado 2009)::

Mad Creek
::Mad Creek (Colorado 2009)::

Routt NF
::Fire-side in Routt NF (Colorado 2009)::

Three penguins at Arches NP
::Three Penguins in Arches NP (Utah 2009)::

Wide Arch at Arches NP
::Unknown Arch (Utah 2009)::

Tall Arch at Arches NP
::Tall Arch (Utah 2009)::

on rapell
::Rapelling Dragonfly Canyon (Utah 2009)::

The job I held was likely one of the most challenging experiences of my young adult life. I moved into a completely foreign environment where was responsible for other people – not just myself, but groups of some of the raddest kids I had met in my life. It was powerful. To say the least.

It was my job to lead this youngsters in outdoor pursuits while teaching them a little bit about the world they were walking, paddling, and climbing through..about the stars they slept beneath, and about the respect and appreciation we owe it all. Stewardship.

Counselor Ry 5 Counselor Ry 3Counselor Ry 1

Counselor Ry 2  my cabinteambuilding
::Summer of Sol (Colorado 2009)::

For a long time, I thought I knew who I was and what I wanted. But after that summer, something changed. I left Colorado reluctantly – as I mentioned in a previous post – and found myself bouncing around Pennsylvania and Maryland for a few years, but each time I watched that eastern sun sink into the western sky, I felt a tug on my soul.

If you have read other posts on this blog, you know what happened five years later

Tonight, my mother-in-law mentioned how we’re “livin’ the life” out here…I think she’s right. We’re living the life we sought, but weren’t quite sure where to find it. Now I’m back with the agency that opened my eyes to so many things back when I was just a kid (a younger kid than I am now, that is). So go out, live that life you want to live, even if you don’t quite know how to do it. My dad always told me life is the longest thing you’ll ever do. We might as well make a good go of it, huh?

With that, I’ll leave you with this:

Adventure On…



I have been following a few “challenge” blogs and I stumbled across The Daily Post the other day. So, in the spirit of participation I’ll share a few shots and thoughts of who I am and how I express myself…


 Each day, I sit down at the old German table my family brought back from years in Europe or the old barn wood table my husband made while we lived in central PA. I turn on my computer, pour a cup of coffee, log in, and start my day. 

I express myself in many ways – this just happens to be the ‘me’ you would see if you walked into our home during my 7 to 5.

Kitchen nights

In addition to who I am every morning, afternoon, and evening of this journey, I believe my family is a critical extension of myself. My husband, our cattle dogs, and the place we call home. I express myself through the love I share with them, the places we explore, and the down time at home.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Express Yourself.”

warm days

With the days as warm as they have been around these parts, I though a late summer-early fall flashback was in order.

::Emma being her photogenic self (November 2014)::


::”Brothers” (July 2014)::


::The Moose napping (November 2014)::

::View along the Midstate Trail overlooking Spruce Creek (September 2014)::

Goodbye Shinglesburg
::Exhausted & saying goodbye to the Shinglesburg Farmstead (October 2014)::

Little Larry
::Little Larry (October 2014)::

Sam at BADL
::Sam in Badlands National Park (November 2014)::

::First night in San Luis Valley (November 2014)::

And with that, tomorrow will be dedicated to Wolf Creek…a day on the slopes. I am looking forward to it.


show me the way to go home

I’m tired & I wanna go to bed

I had a little drink about an hour ago and its gone right to my head

wherever I might roam, on land on see on foam, you can always hear me singing this song

show me the way to go home…

As I skinned my way up a mountain side along Rabbit Ears pass above Steamboat Springs this past Monday, this song flooded my mind. Sometimes, I think my grandfather checks in to remind me he’s still here. Somehow, in spirit, it may be in the backcountry or as as I’m driving along the many long and winding roads I travel, he’s here. And the moment the lyrics filled my mind – for no rhyme or reason – I knew I was in the right place.

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This past weekend I was a bit under the weather, but I was determined to get outside. I spent four long days racking up screen time and I was not about to give into a silly stomach bug when a 4-day weekend lay ahead of me. So I pushed back.

Friday: I cleaned. I cleaned this ancient old dirt-in-every-crack farmhouse until I couldn’t stand. It felt good, I felt refreshed. But I went to bed early…

Saturday: I skied. I felt heavy and achey as we climbed Lobo. But the skies were blue and the day was calling. We even stopped for Mexican food to sooth our tired legs. That, though, was the last straw. For the remainder of the night, I winced in pain, writhed in bed. If it wasn’t the bug, it was the excessive cheddar my body was rejecting.

Sunday: I woke with a mission – don’t let the night before get me down. I still felt sick. I felt foggy and uninspired by the heaviness of my head and body. I figured the only way to get out of it was a road trip. Moab? Toas? Steamboat by way of Denver.

I found that if I didn’t drive and I didn’t stand, I could enjoy myself. We started in the valley and traveled mountain roads hitting restaurants in search of something to ease my discomfort and thrift stores to score vintage Patagonia threads from Salida to Leadville and up over the last pass until we saw the city ahead of us. I popped enzyme pills and drank Jamaican-brewed ginger ale hoping the pain would subside. It came in waves at this point…

We made a quick stop downtown and I had an idea: hot & sour soup is a surefire way to kick any illness that’s got you down. I “googled” nearby Asian cuisine joints and found a hidden gem. With a comforted belly and clearer mind, I took the wheel for the final leg to Steamboat.

The amount of charismatic mega fauna was unreal! The drive from Silverthorne to the pass featured more deer, elk, and hare than anything I ever expected. It was a white knuckled drive to say the least.

Monday: It was as if the day was made just for us. No pain, no discomfort. I awoke inside my sleeping bag in the comfort of Chateau de Subaru craving coffee. My body had not craved anything in 3 days. Today was my day. While Sam ran the pups, I made the two of the most delicious and well-deserved mugs of Aeropress coffee. Steamy, bold, and just the right amount of kick to get us going – it was 7AM and we hit the trail before the hour ran out. We decided to skin in part way, ride the downhills, and adorn the skins one more time to attempt a south-facing slope.

An “attempt” is a good word to describe our descent. We pulled off the skins and Sam went first. What A Show! That guy can keep his balance, but after seeing him struggle (for the first time ever on telemark skis), I was quickly losing faith in myself and my ability to get down this slope vertically.

Short end to a long story: My face met with extensively crusty snow. But! Once I got my ski back on, the snow un-caked from my glasses, and myself upright, I enjoyed the final leg (relatively unscathed).

After some deliberation (not extensive, surprisingly), we decided the pups still had some energy (and my pride wasn’t too badly bruised) and it would be in everyone’s best interest to check out a nice looking east-facing slope. And that’s when it hit me: As I began skinning up yet another slope, I hear my grandfather’s whistled melody in the back of mind. Though the lyrics weren’t as literal in that moment, I sure did feel like I had to be drunk to be continuing on down this unknown path.

I belted the lyrics out loud and pushed on. And luckily so – the run we were about to take was pure butter. Joe knew it, and he knew I could push on to find out for myself. And what I found was worth every snowflake that crammed itself into my pores, teeth, and glasses thirty minutes before.

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The photos we took didn’t come out well. But the images I have in my mind are clear as day – a bluebird day of skiing in the Rockies. Can’t beat it. Thanks for pushing me on and giving me a melody to follow.


rambling across the mountains of colorado seeking adventure and inspiration…