Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day Hiking with a Kid

Twice during the last few months, I volunteered to watch the child of one of the female veterans I know during a Friday afternoon. The first time we hung out so that he didn't have to attend class with his mom (he had no school that day, she had no other baby sitter), it was rainy so we holed up in a Starbucks and played the most fun game of Yahtzee you can imagine (TWO yahtzees for the kid!).

The next time she needed help with coverage I decided to take him on a day hike in Forest Park and again we had SO.MUCH.FUN! Now you should know that 6-10 year old boys are one of my favorite age groups anyway, cause they're usually so full of adventure and imagination. Since Landon is an active kiddo and apparently hadn't been able to go hiking a lot, he also had a complete blast running across downed logs, hopping across the creek, and trying to find new ways to explore the surroundings. (Totally recognize that I should have kept him on path more than I did :( but trying to manage both dogs was a challenge that day so I picked my battles)

It was so neat seeing the trail through a kiddo's eyes though and being able to expose him to something new. I also realized how many learning opportunities the trek created and that it would have been so easy to turn it into a "lesson" at another date (stream ecology, forest habitat, local varieties of flora/fauna, environmental degradation, survival skills...and the list goes on). (As a high school student, I actually helped lead week long outdoor ed courses for local elementary kids and I so loved it!)

Landon and his mom just relocated back to the east coast since she was able to graduate this term, but I'm a little bummed I didn't get to take the little buddy on a backpacking trip before they skeddaddled out of here. He is the perfect age and energy level for it :)

All around such fun opportunities though and makes me realize again how much fun exploring nature can be with a kiddo in tow!

Monday, March 30, 2015

March Kayaking!

March held two really great kayaking outings. It'd been a while since I'd been out on the water and every time I get back out there I realize just how much I love it. The first trip was probably the best organized tour I've been on. The tour guides were incredible and while the weather was a bit crazy (high wind advisory), the intermediate level required of the group meant that each participant was able to hold their own. This trip was a bit further in length and it was fun to see something new also. 

Warrior Rock Lighthouse Tour:
We banked on Sauvie's Island in the Columbia.

They provided hot cider and a history of the light house while we stretched our legs.

The return trip had some crazy wind and choppy water in some points, but it provided a great work-out! :) SUCH a great tour!

Reg D and I have been wanting to get out in kayaks together for a while. Since we weren't able to take our kayaking trip over spring break, we decided to head up to my favorite waterways on the Friday of Spring Break. The weather was incredible, the boats were as good as always, and we just enjoyed relaxing and exploring many of the various creeks that I've been through on the tours. We were able to see egrets, blue herons, bald eagles, loads of turtles, the beaver's home, and just soak up so much incredible sunshine. I absolutely adore the employees at Scappoose Bay Kayaking and we totally lucked out that when we got back the manager cut me a deal on our rentals. Totally made the three hour rental even more affordable. It's honestly really fun walking into the rental shop and knowing all of the employees at this point also.

Spring Break Day Outing w Reg D:
Heading up the main creek

Reg D had taken a side canal so this was soon after we reconnected via text...and I'd had time for a snack break ;)

Did I mention it was absolutely beautiful this day?

One of the many turtles who was also glad for the sunshine.

Headed to check out the beaver home and bald eagles nest in the flooded pasture area beyond the road.

Absolutely love the various kayaking outings and we're still hoping to get in a kayak camping trip together before the year is out!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Life Less Tired--Spring Break 2015.

Ha, three days to fit in three posts still this month and I've been horrible about keeping up on everyone's blogs again....

But in reflecting upon the last post I wrote...I'm glad to report that I'm finally less tired. Going into spring break I was so incredibly ready for a vacation and a break. The last month I'd definitely been a bit more irritable than some and just generally feeling exhausted. When I couldn't find dog sitters and when it dawned on me that both my outdoor buddy and I were equally stressed and wiped out, we shelved our kayak camping trip for spring break and instead headed to my family's beach cabin on the coast....and honestly in a lot of ways it was just what we both needed. We'd brought our backpacking gear with us but then once the weather was so rainy unpredictable we decided to just hang out at the coast until I had to come back for work.

I ended up experiencing the town way differently than I have before...aka we spent a little too much time at the local bars the first night so most of Sunday was just spent lounging around the cabin. But we had so many great conversations curled up on our separate couches and every day we just re-evaluated the weather and how we were feeling in general to determine how the rest of that day/the week would go...it literally was the perfect, restoring, needed vacation.
We hit up the local dinners for breakfast on three days, ordered pizza at the local spot, and fixed steaks and sweet potatoes for dinner at the cabin another night. We spent one day driving down the coast a bit. The first stop was in Lincoln City where we visited a cute little used bookstore. We both walked out with a couple titles (like I needed more public health books! :)) and had had a great conversation with the quirky book store employee (who was so sweet to offer me chamomile tea for my cough). From there we drove down to Depot Bay which is "the smallest bay in the world" and a spot where my parents used to take us as kids for salt water taffy, wave watching, and kettle corn. Apparently Depot Bay is also a spot where Reg D spent time as a kid. We got caught in some rainshowers and ended up being hungry again, so we grabbed these amazing burgers with saukeraut at this Irish spot in town. From there I wanted to check out something scenic so we kept driving down Hwy 101 to Devil's Churn, where after some funny ill-placed investigation, I finally realized the site was right off the parking lot ;) But rainy days make for some great coastal waves.

The next day after a late breakfast, we headed down to the cape, where Reg D sat on the patio of the local establishment with a book, his camera, and a beer, while the dogs and I climbed up the large sand dune/cape and jogged down the beach some. We'd been wanting to try to do some local kayaking but the shop in town was never open, so we eventually drove down to Devil's Lake near Lincoln City to rent some kayaks for an hour. I had a good time being out on the water but the quality of kayak and the lack of scenery wasn't really up to Reg D's desires. (The entire lake shore here is packed with houses.) This is the night we made steaks and sweet potatoes and sat at the table til 830pm engrossed in conversation. Then since I was still recovering from a cold (and swearing off alcohol for a few days...) I curled up on the couch with a book and Reg D headed down to the locals bar...where he met someone who offered to take us out Dory fishing in the ocean next time we go back.

On Wednesday we spent some time lounging around before I deep cleaned the house for the next family members to enjoy it. I was able to get a good run in this day and also cleaned my own house was I got back to it.

I spent Thursday working in my massage job, giving six massages spread out throughout the day. (I have mixed feelings about this job but it's great experience for a variety of reasons, the extra income is helpful, and the one day a week factor makes it a better fit.) My new term was prepped before I left for vacation, but I allowed myself an hour or so of work on Thursday evening to smooth out details that always appear prior to the start of the term.

Friday, I scooped Reg D up from downtown and we had an incredible afternoon exploring some of my favorite kayaking waterways. Saturday I spent at an amazing continuing education Food as Medicine Symposium. (I hope to write about both of these later :)) I spent the last two nights on the phone talking with my mom and she remarked how great it is to hear me sounding so energized, passionate, and yet relaxed again.

This morning, I'm lounging in bed. Cup of coffee by my side, dogs curled up next to me, sunshine outside, the door open with bird tweets and spring time smells wafting in....trying to decide what the best day hike option might be :) I'd contemplated going to church this morning but am feeling more called to go commune with God in nature instead...it's where we do some of our best bonding.

Even with a cough still holding on, a few other changes in the air, and a bit of uncertainty in other areas, life feels pretty incredible at the moment....and I'm finally no longer totally exhausted. :) So grateful for a restoring and much needed spring vacation!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

The Bi-Monthly Update

Ha--it's probably a good thing that I have that 5x monthly blog goal! :)

Here's the number one thing: I'm tired. I don't even 100% know why I'm staying so incredibly tired, but I am. I feel like I could just stay in bed for a week most the time, and so honestly, I actually have been granting some days to just rest and relax.

I definitely recognize that I just came off of a 15 month push of both going to school full time while still basically teaching a regular load of courses. I also continued to push myself to maintain the house and push myself physically (once my health restabilized). Christmas "break" I spent running around doing a variety of things, then January was literally a stress mess of studying and some housemate stress, and February involved working extra for Tanzania, carrying an extra course beyond normal, and arranging a variety of weekends...so I get why I've been tired. But you know when you're ready to be done being tired? So here's hoping that I'll get some old energy levels back sooner rather than later.

In good news though I've had some awesome stuff come to fruition from my goal list for this year ;)

1) I mentioned the snowboarding lesson. Check.

2) I passed massage boards, got my professional insurance, did a few massages on the side, and then started looking for jobs. I will start a part-time position once a week within walking distance of my house shortly. As much as I originally wanted 2-3x a week, based on the fact that I am so tired...I actually think this will be perfect. But pass exams...check. Secondary employment....check and check.

3) I filed taxes...and thank the dear Lord, I didn't owe anything :) Between that, the extra class I'm teaching this term, and the new part-time job, I should make the goal of 75% on the credit card by mid-summer...and hopefully/potentially pay it off by end of the year (dependent on what happens with housing issues....)

4) Trip to Africa in full motion. DREAM COME TRUE. Fully paid for..and with the potential to lead me into my dream career. So.incredibly.still.in.awe.

5) Still continuing to rent rooms to others. I've REALLY been wanting to live solo lately but I'm also mindful of the fact that it's such a benefit to having others share space with me also. My long term housemate was potentially going to move out sooner rather than later...but at this stage it looks like I'll have both rooms filled until mid-May to June.....

....which is also when I have to make some housing decisions. Rent is going up and I've been feeling the pull to move to a different area of Portland, but with the dogs and the already competitive rental market in Portland, I'm thinking this is not so likely. So that means if I stay, renting both rooms is a definite must through the end of the year....

...also thus far no dog sitters and I'm not thinking I'll be able to find any. It's rare I ever find someone to even be willing to take them for a weekend...so I'm canning my other exciting idea until farther down the road. :)

Other things as of late:

--I hosted a seven hour massage workshop at my house last weekend. A handful of us were not satisfied with one of the courses we had as we really didn't learn much of anything that should have been covered, so we hired our favorite instructor to come teach us solutions to upper body muscle problems.

--My car got an overhaul including a new battery, new tires, new alignment, and a power steering flush. Here's hoping all that work gets me through the next two years with minimal other fixes.

--I've been reading this book that my new boss loaned me on feng shui. I've read several others in the past but this one is pretty entertaining...and so I've been taking notes, cleaning out lots of stuff, and incorporating things as I can into the home.

--I've been doing a Lent Challenge of some sort of physical activity every day...and it's truly been great and has kept me doing something daily even if it's just a set of push-ups. It's also another example of how the dogs and I are slowing down...as we've taken to the evening neighborhood walk, which has never been part of our schedule. It's kind of nice to end the day though with a stroll around the neighborhood. The Challenge also has been diversifying work-outs again.

And I'm sure there are several things that I am missing, but that's been life in a nutshell. Here's hoping that energy starts coming back fully! :)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Fifth Year Up King Mtn Summit

Today the dogs and I made our annual summit up Kings Mtn, which is our nearest "hill" for us to climb with a 2500ft elevation gain in 2.5 miles. This year made the fifth year in a row that we've hauled our beautiful tooshies up this sucker...and so many thoughts flowed as I lugged my legs up.

Such as.....how do I always forget that there are several sections where the incline is flatter? Isn't it much like life where we tend to focus on the challenging uphills or the fun downhills and forget to appreciate & remember the wonderful moments that just let us be? Because truthfully it was mainly on those flatter sections that I realized the birds were singing, the sun was shining, and I stopped to soak in the great colors that surrounded me. Yet throughout the year when I reflect on the hike, I almost never remember that there are flatter sections rather than a straight up and down trek.

I also was reminded of how much nature is truly the best decorator. Case in point, just look at these great color combos on this tree:

And because I took the time to stop and notice.....

....I also realized that there were a few other colorful things surrounding me in that section too:

If I would have kept going, focusing on getting the dogs to a water source...and/or getting Anna home to dig the ginormous tick out of her neck....then I never would have stopped to appreciate the small ways in which nature gifts us with its beauty...

I also thought a lot about prior treks up this "hill" and how much life has passed in the last five years. Seriously, how has it already been five years of climbing this sucker?! :) And I also realized that in a lot of ways during the last few weeks, I've felt myself...settling. Not necessarily settling for less, but more so just settling into myself a little bit better. There's still plenty I'm moving forward toward, but I'm also realizing that I'm getting softer, more tired, and slowing down in general. There's no more anger at the world (well not regarding my own crap...I'll let myself still be mad at KONY, environmental degradation, etc etc) and I don't feel like I need to feel guilty or push myself so hard. 

As I start my 5th year in the same house, in the same job, teaching the same classes, driving the same car, doing many of the same hobbies, with the same dogs and the same cat, etc etc...I realize that I'm becoming somewhat comfortable. As happy as I am for many of the changes on the horizon, change has also become a scarier notion than it once was, as this is the longest I've ever cumulatively lived in one place, the longest I've ever continuously held the same job, and definitely the longest I've ever been the primary caretaker for anything other than myself. Change has always been my comfort zone...thus this territory that I'm entering is new and different in many ways. There are still plenty of areas where I'm hoping to see additional growth in the next few years, and I don't know that Portland will be my continual forever home...but for now, I seem to be content with just trying to be okay with being where and how I am....and this is something different for me. I'm still trying to figure out how this works in fact :) And while I recognize I'm "slowing" down, I'm not so sure that my outdoor buddy is so ready for me to reign in as much as I potentially may. This period also seems to be somewhat about maturity and a bit about trying to move my life into a different dimension that what it has been in years past--all things that I'm ready to be moving toward.

How this settling manifested itself on the hike...is that I didn't fly up the mountain like I have in the last three years. We took our time, we stopped for water pouring in our mouths, if we needed to slow down we did. We also didn't run down the mountain...at all, which we'd done during two of the last five years. We walked down the entire thing. And when I got nervous on the loose rock sections, I let myself crab crawl down when I wanted to without feeling silly or embarrassed. And if I'm totally honest, as I signed my name in the registry and snapped some pictures of the dogs & I at the top, it dawned on me that five years has been a good run...and I honestly don't know that I need a sixth to come. 

Interestingly, each year there's something new to see. Last year it was the beautiful wildflowers on the summit. This year however was the first year that it's ever been so clear that I noticed the mountain off in the distance:

This shot is a pano from the top and in the middle you can see the ridge section that you trek up to get to the registry where you can sign your name:

The rest of the hike, I literally thought about how beautiful of a day it was...and also focused on professional development ideas, which seems to be the primary topic I think about on hikes these days. (I designed a new class outline on the Hebo Mtn hike actually...)

And there ya have it, a beautiful day, an incredible hike, free flowing thoughts, and five years of trekking all rolled into one.

And now we are happily tucked into our individual beds :)