Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Las Vegas, Red Rocks

The drive into Vegas, the towns on the outskirts of Vegas took me by surprise. There is some shady activity going on out there. Mix the dry desolation of the desert with poverty and legal prostitution and people will make a way to get by. I might be making assumptions from the comfort of my car driving by on the interstate, but the area seemed really rough and I had no desire to lurk around the area.

We pulled into Las Vegas mid morning after a good two huge days of riding in Tahoe that were stacked on four days of riding before that. I felt my bits and pieces wearing down and even though the timing was perfect, we parked it in the trail head parking lot, I put my foot down and insisted that we take rest day.  It was turning out to be a scoarcher of a day and riding in the heat of the day isn’t the funnest way to spend time. John used a few hours to disassemble the back of the van to charge the AC and the extra love that a 25 year old German van needs which appently includes replacing fuel lines in the parking lot. John waned about the size of a tool box to pack, and after much consideration he packed a pretty hefty repertoire, including extra fuel lines that came in very handy. I love the Westy but I don't think I would feel as comfortable traveling in it without John and his mechanical savy. After cleaning up the yard sale we drove into the Red Rocks National Park.
Lucy loves the nomadic lifestyle

Neither of us had been into the park even though combined we have been to Vegas more than a dozen times. We enjoyed jumping out and snapping some pictures, saw a wild burro and looked for the alleged wild tortoises. Red Rocks is a major climbing destination (we have yet to climb there). It was fun to watch people gear up in the parking lots, knowing that this is what we must look like.

There didn’t seem to be much free camping in the vicinity so we camped in the one designated camping spot near the park. I think we hit them at a bad time but it felt like an incredible waste of money. There was no running water in the whole spread, it was under construction ( lets hope it was to bring water in) and a mess, no showers, no shade. The place was packed to boot, it would have been great to have been able to find a spot in the the main area and strike up a conversation with most likely other climbers but the place was at capacity. There was a spur for Rvs and we ended up finding a spot there and parked it for the night. It took all the will power we had to fight the urge to indulge in the city. Seriously. We were inches away. I made us a salad, John cracked another beer and we embraced being dirt bags. We invited a Swiss couple to share our site with us. They flew into LA and rented a cargo van and were hitting all the climbing spots in the south west.

The next morning we beat the heat and went for one of our shortest and fastest rides (for me) at Cottonwood and rode up to black velvet canyon. It was nice to be able to pedal hard for 90 minutes after being at elevation. The riding was fun enough but nothing to be blown away by.
I insisted on going to an In and Out burger in down town Vegas. I eat about one hamburger a year and for some reason I thought that today needed to be the day and I was under the impression that I was missing something by never have partaken in the chain. John tells me that I usually like the idea of something more than actually doing it. He knows me too well.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Second Stop: Crater Lake, Oregon

I am going to call this a stop because of the sheer grandness. Not far from Oakridge and on our way south to Downieville I begged John (which took little effort) to detour for a few hours to see Crater Lake. We had both never seen it and knew that it was a must do since we were so close. So worth the afternoon.

That is Wizzard Island in the middle of the lake.

There is  narrow road that circumnavigates the lake with countless pull offs. The whole experience is rather breath taking. We opted for a shorter route that ran along one side of the lake. We have friends that rode biked around the lake earlier this year, seems like a great idea.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Road trip 2014 - First Stop: Oak Ridge, Oregon

After weeks of preparation, countless hours of planning and a couple years dreaming of a fall bike trip in the south west, we are finally on the road. The van, Stella, is decked out and ready for the three of us to call her home for the next four weeks. We are hitting all the classic riding spots along the way, extending the beautiful summer that we have had in Bellingham. John has pulled out all the stops and everything is to the nines.

 The first stop of Oak Ridge, OR, was a days drive from our home base of Bellingham, WA. We had never been there but when we mentioned it to people they insisted that we make the trek. We pulled into town and hit the Oak Ridge bike shop,  picked their brains about riding, conditions, camping and the sorts. From there we headed to what seemed to be the one happening spot in town besides the Burger King for dinner and a pint the local brew pub, Brewers Union Local 180. The beer is a worthy stop on its own, they offer traditional English style beers. We met a lovely couple that were passing through from Bend on their way to Coos Bay to go crabbing with their families for the weekend.

The first ride, The Alpine Trail, of the trip was a shuttle offered by Oregon Adventures. We had never done something commercial like this but figured it was the way to experience the most trail. It was totally worth it. We ended up ridding 20+ miles of alpine downhill. The trail was swooping, fast and fun through meadows, old growth forests and alpine rivers. We took Lucy with us this ride and she did awesome, all 20 miles.  The shuttle was full with about 8 other people. A couple from Whistler on their way to LA. A father and son who meet up each summer and ride together. And a few other guys who all wanted to hear about the riding in our area. We ended up really enjoying and riding with the father and son. When the ride was over we stopped and sat down with them for a bite and ended up talking for hours. The ride ended and spit us out right through the above covered bridge and in the parking lot was a great little bed and breakfast that served beer and sandwiches. We partaken - of course.

 From there we drove further east to Waldo Lake, which is breathtakingly scenic, peaceful and alpine. All of the above photos. We camped here a night and woke at first light to ride to the Twin Peaks trail. Epic trail. Do it.
I toted our favorite local beers and the last cucumbers from the our garden.

The view from the back seat of the van at sunset.

John toted the Uke on the trip and plays while I drive.

We were thoroughly impressed by the fast fun nature of the trail and the amazing view from the top of Twin Peaks. I opted not to summit the peak because it looked like a huge hike a bike over and scree surf on the descent. Hindsight and scoping out the descent it looked totally doable and fun. Next time. 

 There will be a net time, Oak Ridge, Oregon is awesome and totally worth the stop for a few days of great riding.

Just bringing it all back to earth, we are driving an 80's van. Day one the lights for the spedmeter went out. John is good at problem solving in German.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tucked Away

I decided to pipe up after a long silence. I have lost the idealistic charm in thinking that blogging was a secret door into a secret society of the famous and exciting. It is for me these days and not a carrot dangling just outside of reach.

The truth is that it is Spring, there are flowers and I feel inspired. I want to dust off my camera. The love for our house tucked in the woods high on a hill compels me to be there in free time. It is a little messy, colorful, a work in progress.

The other truth is that sometimes I teeter on falling in a black hole, my behavior can be downright embarrassing but then again, I learn best through mistakes made. It takes a few days and I turn around, cheer up, chin up. People say I should journal. I tend to be an open book so here I am, a place I enjoy over sharing. Folks we are not perfect and we only do injustice when we take ourselves too seriously and try to control more than actually possible. Fear can be ruthless and cruel. Cumbersome and debilitating. Fear is something we choose, it is something that I am trying to work around, it is not me or of me. GTFO.

Reminds me of Leonard Cohen lyrics, "Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in."

Monday, January 07, 2013

Less is more for 2013

The thing is we moved. We moved all of four miles, up a hill and into the woods. Deep into the woods. There are evergreen trees that fill the view, replacing the sun drenched hillside that we perched on at our previous location. Moss and ferns are prevalent in this gully that has welcomed us and made us feel at home. It is different here, in the most refreshing way possible. I told John yesterday that this move has changed my life, for the better.

The thing is that things have changed. I went from hours of Internet a day to requesting that we not tempt ourselves with getting a connection here at our home in the woods. Our phones get one bar of service. I have read a half dozen books since we have decided to ditch Internet. I have started to run again, I have spent time alone with myself free from distraction, I am learning to make time for others. In an age where there is more more more, remembering that less is more is liberating.

Things change. Years, seasons, values, people, relationships. With the new year comes renewed vigor, a fresh start of sorts.  The days are getting longer and Spring is around the bend which in this climate brings hope. The future is bright. There is so much that I have planned for the coming years, a smile ignites from inside with the thought of what is in store. As I have learned, things change, they don't always go the way in which we intend.  Holding plans, people and ideals too close often leads to heart ache.  Hearts get broken, people grow apart, some friends are a memory. Finding the balance, managing priorities and being flexible seem to be traits of seasoned people. I am learning. Letting go is hard but I am opening doors as other close.

I hope your holidays were warm and welcomed and the new year holds prosperity. Here on the hill we are settling in and creating an oasis, one in which we can share with friends and family. I would hope only for the best for you and bless you with the ability to be flexible and graceful with the changes that the coming year presents. Let me in on the secrets that you use to manage the waters and I look forward to sharing 2013 with you!

This photo project is inspiring on so many fronts, I was moved and didn't want it to be over.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Lowly the Worm Cake

Remember Richard Scarry's Lowly Worm Storybook? It was a book on our shelves growing up so when a friend asked me to create a birthday around the theme of her daughter's favorite character, I jumped at the opportunity. I am working on my confidence creating decorations using modeling chocolate. I am getting there....


Thursday, September 13, 2012

The birthday week reflection

My birthday week is coming to a close. The skies have been blue, vast and crisp. Saturday marks 29 years.

Turning 29 is no big deal, it is in the bag. So it goes.

I like the process, I enjoy getting older, falling into stride. I have kicked my twenties in the ass. I did everything that I wanted to do and found myself in a place beyond anything I could have imagined. I am blessed in so many ways. I am aware of my surrounds, positive and negative. My future is bright.

I have climbed mountains, had epics, slept on a climbing rope with my feet in a backpack to stay warm while lost and tired, traveled, survived, felt true love, made lifelong friends, got married to a wonderful partner, found the beauty in day to day life, stood on podiums claiming second and third place awards in distance races. I have made dark mistakes, lost good friends, let people down, lost good jobs. I have learned a lot. These days I eat whatever the hell that I want. I drink beer and eat pizza with potatoes on it and find comfort. My early 20 year old self would shiver at the thought of that many carbs even crossing her mind. Bring it on. Life is uncertain, I do eat dessert. It has been a journey. A voyage all my own.

These days I run because I find absolute joy in moving my body and not to burn calories, a bold statement coming from a once gaunt lost girl. I ride my mountain bike as much as I can to escape to a place that is sacred and discover an uninhibited demeanor that is unstoppable. I have fun these days, I do what I want and feel like a force to be recon with even if it is only in my mind. I am softer, curvier than I used to be and feel good about it.  I have only one person to impress and that is myself. I have myself to make happy, everyone else just falls into place.

It is easy to think that you are almost there with just a little more you will be there. That is place I  don't want to be. As the years add up I know that nothing on this world is mine. Anything I find can be gone. We all need something, that something can only be found within.

So far the best present was a few words from my husband earlier this week, go for a bike ride Michelle, you have a brand new bike. The next day I dropped all obligations and for a few hours and rode my bike. All was right in my world again after an afternoon in the forest. A smile from ear to ear, a buzz that is impossible to ignore. Everyday following I have got out for a pedal on the trails. Friday, my present to myself, a day trip to Whistler, to ride as many trails as I can. Boldly, I want to ride by myself, I don't want to stop, I don't want any accountability except to come home in one piece. The weekend is spotted in with friends, rides, precious time with my husband and family.

Here is to the changes that have happened in the last year and to even more changes in the coming year. I promise to to leave nothing but dust in my twenties.

Monday, September 03, 2012

A few good things

Hello September. As Summer comes to a close and Fall changes the trees to all shades of gold, I find comfort in slowing down and preparing for the slower pace that Winter casts on my life. Here is what I have been enjoying...

Making these crackers with my Mama B today.

I have made about a dozen almond cakes in the last couple of months. I can't get enough.

Inspired to run again, swamped by good memories of distance running and can't put this this book down.

A friend said that being sober is like being free. I couldn't agree more. Loved this book.

Dreaming of someday having a little one around. Preparing with this book.

I made these gluten free waffles for the family this morning and replaced the pumpkin with shredded zucchini. Work like a charm.

Came across Shovels and Rope and can't get them off my mind. This video makes me want to pack up and move to the south.

I am part of the 29 inch revolution with my newest mountain bike

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