i went to alaska

Happy Travels, I went outside, life

“I shouldn't have been surprised that all I could see of the of the airplane window above the northwest was clouds. But they were beautiful clouds.”

IMG_0137

“Snow capped mountains give way to dark bottomless valleys shadowed from the sun by endless clouds and all I can see are tiny lakes reflecting back at me.”

IMG_3696

“Suddenly the cabin air smelled of coffee and gin and tonic and I was reminded of everything I had come from and felt a little homesick for the familiar. I was headed into the unknown, magnified by the book telling me tales of the Utah desert while knowing I was headed to the Alaskan forest.” 

IMG_3694

These are a few thoughts I recorded while visiting Alaska a couple weekends ago. As it turns out, I am trading in my Utah shorts and sunglasses for Alaksa's fleece jackets and rain boots. And what an adventure it will be. Every day I look forward to it more and more.

IMG_3708

No worries, my hammock and fly rod are coming along for the adventure.

IMG_3700

Weekend Recap

camping, dinosaur national monument, flaming gorge, flaming river gorge, I went outside, life, starvation lake, starvation reservoir

I've been itching to go camping for the last month or so, and when it came up in conversation, Lauren and I jumped at the chance to make it happen.  

She plotted our route to Flaming Gorge, one to Dinosaur National Monument with a finish at Starvation Reservoir. The weather was perfect, camping spots were great and the roads were free and clear. We could not have asked for much more.

IMG_0060

Flaming Gorge 

IMG_0085

Green River leaving Flaming Gorge

IMG_0127

Dinosaur National Monument at The Quarry (that's Lauren)

IMG_0138

The storm we had been leapfrogging with, finally got away from it

IMG_0140

When we found  our campsite we immediately took our dinner and happy hour to the water front to watch the sunset and enjoy the cool breeze.

IMG_0201

And what a beautiful sunset it was!

IMG_0014

And I was glad to be home with running water, flush toilets and this little corn dog.

 

School starts in a week. It's hard to believe that the summer is over already.  It's time to buckle down again and get back to the books.  The summer has been great and I really needed it, but I'm ready to get back down to business.

 

the narrows and dreams 15 years old

backpacking, camping, Happy Travels, hiking, I went outside, photography, Temple of Sinawava, The Narrows, Utah, Wall Street, Zion National Park

Preface: This is way more sentimental than usual but I dedicate this hike to my dear friend Eileen. For dreaming with me when we were teenagers about the adventures we would have, and for introducing me to Zion National Park in the first place.

IMG_0033

I write this as we travel the five hours back to Salt Lake City.  My shoulders, back and hips are tired and sore. So sore. As my body chills out and begins to relax into the seat, other spots on my legs and arms become the focus, finally speaking up to complain about their bumps and scrapes.

I have a distinct memory of standing in the Temple of Sinawava at 13 years old looking down the paved trail to the entrance of The Narrows.

“It's really hard,” I remember Eileen saying. “My dad said you stay overnight and camp. Carry everything with you. That's where you come out,” she said, pointing up the river to the people walking around in the water.

IMG_0040

We were in awe of the challenge of it all.  The thought of trooping through the canyons, seeing the mystery that was held from two teenage girls who just wanted to grow up and have some adventure.

My thoughts continued to flash back 15 years during the 1.5 hour van ride to the trail head.  I was finally doing this.  Five months of planning, 15 years in the making, only hours to go.

IMG_0072

There were so many beautiful sights and I could not take enough pictures. I was constantly coming around a bend or seeing a new beam of light that I wanted a picture of. But I am grateful to have the pictures I did take, knowing that some of the most beautiful sights were not captured on a memory card in a camera, but are reserved for only me to remember.

The first day we hiked 11 miles to our designated camp site. About mile 8 or 9 I had experienced enough and was quite done. But with a few miles to go I switched into putting one foot in front of the other and just going. Trudging along, I realized that I would have followed Lauren and Josh right to the end if they decided to keep going. But I'm glad they didn't, it would have been an additional five miles past the campsite.

There was a specific moment when I was far enough behind them that I would catch a glimpse of them just before they rounded a corner or went behind a rock out of sight. I had a funny thought. Y'know that part in Lord of the Rings when Gollum is following Frodo and Sam-Wise into Mordor and he just close enough to make them feel like they're being followed but far enough away to stay out of sight? Yeah, I was Gollum.  And I was so tired at that moment that I had to stop walking mid-stream so I wouldn't fall down with laughter.

IMG_0075

When we reached camp all 12 of us peeled off wet boots and socks. Everyone moved a bit slower, more deliberately, conserving energy. There wasn't much conversation since everyone was so focused on their reconstituted meals. Exhausted and with food in our bellies we all called it a day before it was dark.

Curled in my tent listening to the river below and the crickets above I slept as sound as I did when I was a teenager and could fall asleep anywhere.

With a slow start in the morning we broke camp and headed out to finish the last five miles.  The trek was long and exhausting. With a tired body and sore feet I finished the 16 miles, walking barefoot for the last stretch on the paved trail. One of the best choices of the whole trip. 

This was my first backpacking trip and I would call it a success.  Not only did I survive, I have minimal bumps and scrapes.  I'm a bit sore but it's the type of sore that I love, a gentle reminder that I used my body, flexed and stretched my muscles and experienced something wonderful. Because of that I feel no pain.

While the trip was amazing, beautiful and totally worth all the planning, anxiety and stress, those won't be the things I will remember the most. I will remember that moment, walking through Wall Street, exhausted, and finally stopping to look around me realizing where I was. Knowing that my 13 year old self was cheering me on because I was actually doing it. Something that I've wanted to do for half my life, I was doing it. And that moment of reconnecting is priceless. That reconnection is what I went to find and I feel lucky that I found it.

IMG_0081

And now I have the urge, as I do at the end of all my adventures, to plan the next one. There are so many wonderful places within a half day's drive that I haven't been to. I look forward to exploring them all while I still have the chance.

thoughts from a saturday

children, creativity, I went outside, imagination, inspirations, kids, life, parenting, parents

A couple Saturdays ago I went with a few friends to The Leonardo, a new museum downtown. It’s a pretty cool place. It’s super interactive and the exhibits are about civil rights, clean air, stop animation, DNA, prosthetics and more. We spent 3 hours there and could have spent more.

Then we went to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. Unbeknownst to us, they were having an event that day, a circus themed party for families. There was an exhibit of circus paintings and the party was to advertise and celebrate the exhibit. I’ve never seen so many children in an arts museum.

Upon leaving the arts museum, I saw two women talking in the parking lot, three kids gathered around them. The two little boys were playing with each other and the little girl was squatting near the woman, busying herself with a pile of sticks and rocks on the ground. It appeared she had collected them and was arranging them in the pile, talking to them, breaking the sticks into smaller pieces.

As the two women finished talking, the woman near the girl reached down and grabbed her arm and pulled her away to the car. The woman didn’t talk to the girl, or even look at her, as she did this, she continued her conversation with the other woman.

I realized I had been seeing this all day with the children at The Leonardo and again at the art museum, parents pulling, tugging and forcing their children one way or another. It really bothered me.

I felt like maybe a better (different?) way would have been to finish the adult conversation, look down at the little girl, and tell her it was time to go. Or even get down to her level and talk to her about what she was doing.

As I talked about my observation with my friend, we wondered what kind of effect actions like that have on children as they grow up. Will she feel as though her parents pushed her around all the time? Or will she feel like the activities she finds interesting are never good enough for their attention?

And at the same time, is there a certain number of children that would be the threshold for the parent’s attention and patience? Can the parents have 2 or 3 but when #4 comes along, there is no longer enough time, energy and patience for them all? Or maybe the number is closer to 1 or 2. Or maybe it matters how many years are between the kids.

Understanding though, that I don’t know this woman, I don’t know the little girl and I don’t know what their day was like. And really, I don’t know if this woman was the little girl’s mother or the nanny or the aunt.

I guess it just makes me hope that when I’m lucky enough to have kids, I am interested in their pile of sticks and rocks, that I ask them questions, talk to them about what they are doing and encourage their creativity. Not tug and pull them around without talking to them.

http://www.theleonardo.org

http://www.umfa.utah.edu

fisher towers

Arches National Park, camping, fisher towers, girls camping, girls' trip, I went outside, Moab, outdoors, photography

After our jont into Arches National Park and lunch, we headed up River Road to Fisher Towers.  The hike was highly suggested so we decided to head out off the beaten path to see what it was all about.  It was 5 miles round trip and we throughly enjoyed it.  With the combination of soft sand, rocks, ice and snow, steep climbes and a ladder down it was quite the hike! 

IMG_0219

IMG_0192

IMG_0230

IMG_0236

IMG_0223

IMG_0209

IMG_0210

IMG_0238

IMG_0249

We met up with Lauren's long time friend Kate at breakfast. Kate and her dog Emma hiked Fisher Towers with us and it was so fun to have them along.

After the hike we waved good bye to Kate and Emma and hopped into the car ourselves.  After a long drive home, we were finally able to shower and sleep in warm cozy beds. I absolutely love being outside and adventuring, but it sure is nice to sleep in a warm bed too.