Las Vegas!

In the car on the way back from the airport, a friend texted me, “Vegas? That’s not your style.”

I would counter that a little bit of everything alongside a big helping of adventure is my style, but I digress.

Last weekend, I traveled with some friends and my mom to Vegas to see George Strait in concert (with Lyle Lovett!!! and Robert Earl Keen). While seeing King George was the headlining event of our weekend, we had a lot of fun “doing Vegas.”

Amanda and I caught a flight out of GJ Thursday afternoon and started the party as soon as we got into the terminal. We even bought our tickets months apart and sat next to each other.  Once we landed and checked into our hotel, we immediately set out in search of food and then engaged in heavy duty people watching at the Cosmopolitan.

The next morning, my mom arrived and we headed out for brunch and some sight seeing. My friend Helen and her husband arrived mid afternoon and we had some celebratory “we’re all in Vegas” champagne at the hotel before heading to dinner and some after dinner drinks. While most of the crew headed to bed, Amanda and I went out for some dancing.

Saturday was more sight seeing but the big event was that evening. It was time to see George! There was a lot of “Do you think he’ll play this song?” talk and general excitement as we got ready for the show.

Our dinner before the show was actually one of my favorite moments in Vegas. The food was good (we ate at Tom’s Urban in NY-NY) and we might have discussed Pure Country a lot. Mom ordered ghost pepper wings and basically stared down the waitress when she was warned that they’re the hottest pepper in the world. And then, to top it all off, as we stood up after dinner Mom reminded me she wanted to ride the roller coaster at NY-NY before the concert. So we did. I might have laughed at her the entire time. I’m kind of a pro at laughing at people on roller coasters.

The show definitely did not disappoint. (Okay, well, maybe I could have listed to Lyle Lovett open for another hour and George play all night but reasonable expectations are important.)

I sang along to each and every song. When I grew up, George Strait was in the tape deck on the way to every camping trip (except when the Mariners were on) and the sound track to more than a few family gatherings. On top of that, he’s the best looking 65 year old I’ve ever seen. Anyway.

The next day, everyone other than Amanda and I had to catch early (or really really early) flights so the two of us enjoyed a lazy morning getting out of the hotel, hit up their (free) Sunday bloody mary and mimosa bar, had one last brunch on the Strip and then headed to the airport.

I had been sort of nervous about this trip: it was a motley group of people and the common denominator was … me. In the end, it was fantastic. I even get to tease my mom for the time she forgot to tip the Transformer for the rest of time: “Bumble Bee need tip.”

Thanksgiving in Scottsdale

Maryanne and her husband welcomed me into their home for Thanksgiving again this year. I’m so delighted that this has become a tradition and that I get to be Aunty Beth to their two children in addition to my three nephews. <3

There was lots of Sprocket bossing around by a two year old:

A few baby cuddles, although he really wasn’t too sure about that stranger in his house.

There was lots of food and a sweet sunset hike.

People used to mistake Maryanne and I for sisters, and I suppose with sunglasses on, they still might.

Life

I’ve been back in school for just over a week and I’m still adjusting to it!

Last weekend, my friend Heather came to visit and we drove up to do Democrat, Cameron, and Lincoln (but never Bross  😉 ) with fellow #omniten Heidi and some of her friends. I have photos of that awesomness for you but reentry to real life has been HARD.

Anyway, I’m taking off tonight (hurrayyyyyy for four day school weeks!) for some more adventure and have sworn to get back to blogging. Next week.

In the meantime, you should go listen to “I Didn’t Sign Up For Idaho, or, Kim Kardashian’s Got Nothing On Me”, a story told by my friend Kate. And then you should check out her sizzling hot wedding photos by the ever amazing Amanda Summerlin.

Seattle and Friends: Summer 2015

After a few days in Tacoma, I hopped on the Sounder train and headed for Seattle. I’ve taken the bus between Seattle and Tacoma many many times but this was my first time on the Sounder. I had power outlets and I learned that if I choose my car better I could have wi-fi next time. It only cost me $1.25 more than the bus which was totally worth it.

Once in Seattle, I booked it from King Street Station up to Seattle Coffee Works where I finally got to meet Lauren of Better In Real Life! Lauren and I have been internet pals for a long time but we haven’t ever actually gotten to meet up; she was super supportive of me while I fought against sexism in Idaho. She was absolutely wonderful and we had a great time chatting while waiting for another internet pal, also named Lauren. She had flown in from Boston to spend the weekend with Liz and I and then got to meet the other Lauren as a bonus!

Photo borrowed from Lauren (Better In Real Life‘s Instagram!).

Lauren and I set out in search of food in Pikes Place Market but soon decided that ice cream was what we really wanted. Sadly, we discovered that Bluebird Ice Cream was closed but that Molly Moon’s was open. My vanilla bean and honey lavender scoops were so good that I devoured them before I grabbed a photo. Lauren and I headed to Elliot Bay Book Company to kill some time before wandering over to Taylor Shellfish. I’d been craving oysters so we got a bottle of pinot gris (a bottle that was both affordable and had won awards for pairing well with oysters) while we waited for Liz to get off work.

Once Liz arrived, we ordered a spread of oysters and we toasted to the kick off of a great weekend. Anyone sitting at tables around us would never believe that the three of us had never physically been in the same place at the same time before. As we enjoyed our oysters (a nice selection of Fanny Bay, Kusshi, Kumamoto, Shigoku, and Olympia oysters if you’re curious).

Apres oysters, we bused back to Liz’s place where she made us some scrumptious tacos and then we headed to Percy’s & Co. for some cocktails. My cilantro gimlet was delicious but the highlight was getting to meet Liz’s bestie Siiri who I feel like I know without ever having actually met. Our next stop was Conor Byrne where we watched Liz and Siiri’s friend Tom sing.

Liz had to work the next morning, so after Tom’s set we headed back to her house and bedded down for the night. I’d had such a fun day “meeting” people that I felt like I already knew and I could hardly believe the weekend was going to get better when Liz, Lauren, and I headed for the San Juan Islands.

Vail GoPro Mountain Games

When Columbia Sportswear reached out to the #omniten several months ago to ask if we wanted to participate in the GoPro Mountain Games in Vail, I actually took a pass. It was going to fall closely on the heels of school getting out and I wasn’t really sure what my plans were. After Amanda headed on to Denver and the airport on a Thursday, Sprocket and I found ourselves in Breckenridge with no real plans until Monday in De Beque. As I saw Tweets from Dave and Aleya about how excited they were for the games and realized that Vail really just was on my route, I decided that Sprocket and I needed to go join the fun.

After another quick McDonald’s bathroom cleanup in West Vail, Sprocket and I started checking out the games. I occasionally tortured him with photo opportunities:

I’ve been to dog friendly events but this one really took the cake. Sprocket came everywhere with me. He met other dogs, which isn’t always his favorite as pictured here but is SO GOOD for him since most of the time it was people interaction (his favorite).

We checked out the rafting competition where SP was super sad that I wouldn’t let him swim. (Snowmelt season is a really hard time to be a lab in Colorado!) He made “friends” with this really cute photographer that I swear I wasn’t trying to take a photo of (no, really, I was trying for Sprocket and the water):

After the rafting competition, I met up with Dave and Shay. I’ve never met Shay in real life but we were both Stonewear Ambassadors at the same time and have been online friends for a couple of years. Dave and I were both #omniten Season 4 and have adventured in Park City and Jordan with Columbia plus he was part of the Ouray Ice Fest 3Up Party. Dave had signed up for the Citizen’s Bouldering Competition while Shay was his personal photographer (Check out Dave’s account of the games!). Sprocket and I were pretty much just along for the ride.

Photo: Shay Skinner, Skin Poetry Photography

After we all met up and did a bit of wandering, it was time for dinner. I doubt I’ll find myself in Vail all that often but the truffle oil tots and some super delicious margaritas at Bully Ranch did not disapoint. The restaurant (but mostly Dave and Shay) were super chill about us sitting outside in the rain so Sprocket could join. Then, because I’m an obnoxious dog mom, I kept Sprocket with us as we went to that evening’s concert. Sprocket was completely unconcerned about the commotion as long as he was safely in the circle between the three of us.

Finally, it was bedtime and Sprocket and I headed off to the parking garage to cuddle in the Jeep:

The next day, Sprocket and I were up early so we spent some time at Starbucks taking care of some blog stuff and catching up on Twitter before meeting up with Dave and Shay. We all headed to the climbing competition where we watched for awhile before hunting up breakfast.

Rain threatened but we were all having fun anyway:

A bit later, I met up with Aleya and Tori and we all rendezvoued with Dave and Shay for Happy Hour in the VIP area and then headed off for pizza. That evening, we all headed down to the concert again (I let Sprocket head to sleep that time since I’m not sure he actually liked the experience.) The next day, Sprocket got to live out his dock jumping fantasy:

He wasn’t really sure about that clear pool and didn’t quite live up to the showings he makes at lakes everywhere we go, but he certainly enjoyed himself. He even got so worked up waiting in line that he whined and barked with the best of the pros. Unfortunately, Dave and Shay were over at Dave’s climbing competition so I don’t have any photos of Sprocket and I in action but I really think he had a blast!

Hanging out with great friends is always fun and my #omniten friends are even more special. I can’t believe I almost passed up the chance to hang out and I’m so glad that I made it to hang out with this great crew:

Photo: Aleya Jean
Photo: Aleya Jean[/caption]

GoPro Mountain Games wristband aftermath:

VIP entry was provided to me as part of Columbia’s #omniten program but as always, my experiences and opinions are my own!

Cedar Mesa: Fish and Owl Canyons

I was planning on heading to Utah’s La Sal Mountains for Memorial Day weekend but when I started chatting with a fellow teacher, I discovered that she and her husband were hoping to get out backpacking on Memorial Day so I happily changed my plans a bit and we obtained permits to hike Fish and Owl Canyons off of Cedar Mesa.

Both Meghan and I needed to be at graduation on Friday evening so we set our departure time for very early on Saturday morning. We got a little bit later start than we wanted but still had time to stop and grab breakfast at The Peace Tree in Montecello (I believe it is owned by the same people as The Peace Tree in Moab).

As we approached the Kane Gulch Ranger Station to pick up our permits, I was a little apprehensive about the whole trip. The temperatures were in the upper thirties and it was raining. At the ranger station, we learned about where the water sources were in the canyons (we’d had enough rain that there was pretty much water the entire way except from Fish Canyon about a mile from the confluence to Owl Canyon about two miles up from the confluence). We watched a quick ten minute video about protecting the water and archaeological resources on Cedar Mesa and then we were off.

As we unloaded from the car, it started raining and rained on us for pretty much the next couple of hours as we descended into the canyon. The rain did not dampen the spirits of any of us (dogs included) as we stretched our legs after the long ride.

The mile and half to the edge of Fish Canyon went quickly and before we knew it, we were at the edge of the canyon. Growing up in Washington State, I hated going to the eastern part of the state because it was a boring desert. Now, I have this big place in my heart for deserts (eastern Washington included!) and the views just made my heart happy.

Many trip reports make a big deal about “The Crack” into Fish Canyon and we made quick work of it. My friends’ pup, Wilson, wasn’t so sure about making the descent but Sprocket had quite easily demonstrated the descent into my arms technique and we all made it just fine.

I decided to take you all a rainy selfie while waiting for Meghan and Ethan:

I love wandering through canyon bottoms. The trail was fairly well cairned as it crossed back and forth across the canyon and we covered about eight miles or so from the car before we made camp. After making some meals, trying to keep the dogs out of Fish Creek (I hate wet dog in my tent!), and a little bourbon, we headed to bed. I’m glad that we were choosy about where to pitch our tents because about 1am, it absolutely poured on us!

The next day, we decided to make the push all the way out of the canyon so we tried to keep up a nice steady pace down the rest of Fish Canyon and then up Owl Canyon.

Rocking some serious backpacking style:

Fish Canyon

The hiking in Owl Canyon was a little bit easier than it was in Fish Canyon. (The route finding in upper Owl was a little more difficult though). The rock formations were also a little more diverse.

The dogs were super happy when their three miles without water ended and Owl Creek appeared.

I really enjoyed the route finding on the way out of Owl Canyon (and my curiosity about all the side canyons was totally piqued!). There were some awesome waterfalls, with actual water!, and an exciting ascent out of the canyon.

The pups and I paused at the top of the canyon to wait for Meghan and Ethan. The views were again, incredible.

We’d had a great time in the canyons. There’d been some rain, some fun hiking, beautiful canyons and really good company. Since we’d put in 10 solid miles that day, we decided to head for home to sleep in our own beds. We stopped on the way home at Stateline Bar and Grill near Dove Creek, Colorado for some very needed burgers.

I think we tuckered out the dogs:

The (Few) Happy Valentine’s Days

Valentine’s Day.

I honestly have had, in my 29 Valentine’s Days, two, and perhaps a third, that made me feel like this day of love really is okay.

1.

I was about eight. My family went “camping” (we were in our motorhome) at the ocean. I took my pink Minnie Mouse suitcase and packed it with “books and my stuff” but really, I squirreled away the last few heart shaped sugar cookies my mom had made (no one questioned whether I’d actually eaten them all), made Valentines for my mom, my dad, and my sister (I might have even made one for the dog…). I stole some of the Valentines decorations out of my room (yes, our rooms were always decorated for holidays) so I could decorate the motorhome on Valentines day, and not before.

My family was so delighted that I’d taken the time to make them feel special. I still remember my mom and dad just kind of tilting their heads and laughing a bit at the holiday exuberance of their oldest daughter.

2.

I was a sophomore in high school. Neither my friend or I had Valentines but we had planned an evening to watch Bridget Jones’ Diary and eat pizza. I had already established to my friends and family that I hated Valentine’s Day and that it was a stupid holiday designed to make single people feel dumb. (The prior year I’d wore a Maleficent t-shirt to my friends red-pink-and-white party.) We’d both read the books and in our own sixteen year old way, identified with the thirty-something “singleton” Bridget.

That morning, flowers had been delivered to my house from a “Bellarmine freind” (Bellarmine was my high school and, yes, it was spelled “freind.”) We spent a good chunk of our evening speculating who the “freind” was and giggling. Her mom had bought us pizza and had brought us a Papa Murphy’s heart shaped special. We gleefully tore into it with kitchen shears, ripping the heart apart into pieces we felt symbolized our young, tortured, lonely hearts.

When I got back to my house that evening, my parents had Valentines Day gifts for me. I had gotten a small potted rose, but the part that really made my day was the “necklace” of pickle balls on red curling ribbon. (My dad used to spend hours on spring and summer evenings “pitching” to me in the backyard. I was one lucky kid.)

I went to bed that Valentine’s Day feeling lucky to have a friend I could talk to about anything and a family that loved me and was able to poke fun at a holiday that had made me feel sad.

3.

It was my first Valentine’s Day with F. It was my first Valentine’s Day with a boyfriend ever.

He planned a trip for us to a friend’s beach cabin for the weekend. Weeks before Valentines Day I started shopping for a card and couldn’t find anything that I liked. I ended up making The Best Card Ever and having it printed online. It was the front page of Craigslist on the cover and the text of the personal ad that brought us together inside. I think I bought him a book I thought he’d like to go with it but I’m not really sure.

We spent the weekend hanging out in the Northwest winter damp. I didn’t feel the sense of romance I thought I’d feel but it was mostly nice. We’d get the hang of this, I thought.

We never did have an excellent Valentines Day.

 

 

This year, I’ll be out, hiking, alone for Valentines Day.

Winter Desert Weekend, Part 1

Right after Christmas, Josh contacted me to see if I would be interested in joining Ofa, Prajit, and himself in for some slot canyon adventuring. I decided since it was such a long drive that it might be fun to invite a friend along for the ride especially since I had a long weekend and Josh and his crew had to get back to SLC on Sunday. Fortunately, Kelly decided that she and her pup Petey would join Sprocket and I on our adventure.

We pulled out of Ridgway right after school on Friday and headed out over Lizard Head Pass. Sprocket insisted we stop at the top of the pass for a quick stretch break and photo opportunity. (He actually whined all the way from the Telluride round-about to Lizard Head and just wanted to frolic in the snow.) We pushed through a long dark drive across the Navajo Reservation, experienced some desert fog, and talked about skinwalkers and eventually made camp at Whitehouse Campground between Page, Arizona and Kanab, Utah. We were both exhaused and I hardly registered it when Josh, Prajit and Ofa drove in and were setting up their tents.

The next morning, we made a quick run to Kanab to try for obtain day-of permits for The Wave, however, during the winter all the permits for the weekend are given away on Friday so we settled for breakfast in town before heading out to hike Wire Pass and Buckskin Gulch.

It was a gorgeous winter day for hiking:

After a short ramble through the wash, we dropped into Wire Pass.

I tried to help Sprocket over the following chockstone and he basically decided to jump over my shoulder. This is my Class 3+ doggy:

Eventually we emerged at the junction of Buckskin Gulch and Wire Pass:

Unfortunately, there was a lot of water going both directions. Sprocket was the only one who thought continuing was a good idea. Instead, we enjoyed the views and enjoyed the majestic canyon junction before heading back out of the canyon.

Some of Ofa and Prajit’s friends were headed to the Horseshoe of the Colorado River just south of Paige to watch sunset so Kelly and I hopped in Prajit’s car and joined them. The Horseshoe is majestic but it was so crowded (although it did inspire our trip to the Goosenecks of the San Juan on the way home).

The sunset colors were pretty sweet though:

Back at camp, we had a beer and then headed for our warm sleeping bags. (Well, Prajit and Josh decided to make some awesome art first.) Sprocket had spent a good chunk of Friday night shivering so I decided to cozy him up in my Turbodown. At first, he wasn’t really sure how he felt about it:

I pulled the hood up and he suddenly understood and immediately fell asleep in his cozy coat.

Ouray Ice Festival

Like many Ridgway and Ouray residents, I had a house full of company during Ice Festival weekend. There were no complaints from Sprocket and me: Dave, Aleya, and Jillian were awesome company. There was much merriment, catching up, and laughter but our common ground is adventure so we did our best do get out and enjoy Colorado especially since Jillian was all the way out west from New Hampshire!

Aleya was actually the only ice climber in the bunch but when we met up with some of her friends, us newbies grabbed some demo boots and took our turns being lowered into the Uncompaghre Gorge for our first ice experiences. It’s a little nerve wracking being lowered onto your climb and knowing you need to make it out.

Jason Gebauer Photography
Photo: Jillian of Tenders And Trails
Photo: Jillian of Tenders and Trails

I had a blast trying it out and am so happy that Jason and Jillian grabbed those sweet shots of me on my very first ice climb! On top of climbing, though, it was great to play tourist a bit. The Ice Park’s scenery is definitely not tough on the eyes:

By the end of the day we were tired, a bit cold, and hungry. We grabbed hot chocolates to enjoy while watching the tail end of the mixed climbing competition.

After we refueled with burgers at O’Briens, Dave, Jillian and I lost steam to go to the Prom party up in Ouray but we were re-energized enough to take a drive up to Red Mountain Pass for a short moonlight snowshoe adventure.

The next day, we took the ’77 Cherokee out for her inaugural 3Up cruise and explored Telluride poking into stores, sipping coffee, and enjoying the day.

I hope my guests all had fun, it was a blast to have a houseful for the weekend!!

Seattle Wanderings

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve spent any time in Seattle. I meant to go up and spend time walking around downtown enjoying the holiday season in the stores and Pike Place. Instead, I did a whole bunch of walking. It was awesome:

You know how people that just get you make your life? Yeah.

And then when their roommates bring you coffee in bed?

The next morning, the walking continued:

I met another fabulous internet friends: Mike of Mike Off The Map. We definitely had a conversation that went like this:

B: “Have you heard about the Bells traverse?”
M: “Yeah, I’ve heard it’s pretty sketchy.”
B: “…”
M: “I’m down…let’s do it!”

I love hanging out with people like this. Move to Colorado anytime Mike. Or stay in Seattle and adventure with me whenever I’m here.

I also think I’m part elf and love love love making Christmas surprises happen. I located rullapolse (Norwegian pressed lamb) and my family has been missing it at Christmas for the last two years. I had to throw in a couple of Norwegian cheeses for the gastronomic pleasure of all (well mostly me) as well. My 88 year-old grandmother let out the MOST gleeful Christmas scream of the year (seriously, beat ALL the kids, hands down). Made my Christmas.

I kept on with the walking and wandered south from Ballard to downtown to catch the bus back to Tacoma. 12 miles of walking hither and thither + friends + Christmas Elfing = totally successful trip.