It’s been a week… My first week back in the office and it has been a week with a huge amount of change. I’m exhausted, and the week is only half over!
I’m definitely dreaming of vacation… Warm weather and sun please!
#HikeYourOwnHike has been floating out there in the world lately. It is meant to be a reminder to not compare yourself to others, and to not minimize yourself or your accomplishments based on what others can do or their opinions of you.
I was asked the other day when I started hiking and it got me thinking. I mean, I went on little hikes when I was a kid, and have walked the trails in my woody Pacific Northwest city my whole life. But when did I start really hiking?
I would say it was when I was dating my ex, in that period before I got married. We started locally, and then did more on trips, when we visited National Parks. It just kind of went from there, and pretty soon, I was a hiker. According to the ex though, I was too slow. He didn’t hike with me; he hiked ahead of me. He complained that I didn’t keep up, and he just couldn’t be bothered with that… He would wait for me somewhere up ahead. The hike was a competitive thing for him, and I couldn’t compete at his level. He made me feel that I would never be up to doing a long hike, or a really strenuous hike. That I wasn’t enough. Of course, that’s nonsense.
I kept hiking after we split. Since that time I have done far more than I ever did with him. I have hiked 10-12 miles at high elevation, with thousands of feet of elevation gain. I have hiked all over the country. I have hiked with friends. I have hiked alone. I have hiked in bear country with bear spray and bells. I have hiked in rattlesnake country. I have hiked in hot weather and cold. I have hiked in the rain, and on snowshoes. I’m not the fastest hiker. I certainly haven’t been in the last year, when I was struggling through some pretty significant pain. But who cares if I’m fast? It isn’t a race. It isn’t a competition.
For me, hiking is about seeing nature, standing at the viewpoint, taking way too many pictures, and spending time with friends. It is about clearing my head, and smelling the mountain air. It is about cracking open that can of wine at the glacial lake at the top, sucking in my breath as I wade into the freezing cold water, skipping rocks at the beach and watching the sun lower over the horizon. It isn’t about miles, or elevation gain, or speed, or remoteness, although those are sometimes factors in the best rewards.
If you put one foot in front of another on a trail, you are a hiker. Don’t let anyone else tell you that your version isn’t good enough. Figure out what speaks to you and makes you happy, and don’t worry about what anyone else thinks. Find people who are on the same page, but if you don’t have that, go anyway. Life is too short and too complicated to burden yourself with comparisons. You do you. #HikeYourOwnHike
You guys! I did a thing! I did two things!
I reached some milestones this week. It has now been a month since my surgery, and on Wednesday for the first time since before surgery, I was back up to my daily walking goal – 11,000 steps! Since then I have hit my 11,000 steps for three days in a row!
It feels good to be getting my stamina back. I’m able to walk longer distances without feeling a lot of discomfort later. Pretty soon I’ll be ready to tackle some hills!
I also reached another milestone on Wednesday… I wore pants! Like actual real jeans with buttons; not yoga pants or leggings! I only wore them for a couple of hours, and they were kinda stretchy, but I’m still calling that progress. My incision is healing, and while my belly still feels pretty numb, I can definitely feel an improvement.
Pants and 11,000 steps – I’m rocking my week! How about you? What were your accomplishments this week?
Day 2, Saturday, May 25, 2019
After visiting Seaside, we decided to head over to the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park. I have visited before, but Jeff and the kids had never been there.
Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery spent the winter 1805-1806 here in this approximate location; they named their camp Fort Clatsop. When the expedition left the West Coast in the spring of 1806, they gave Fort Clatsop’s structures to the local Native Americans and the fort was eventually reclaimed by nature. A replica was built when the site was designated as a National Historical Park in 1958, but sadly it burned in 2006; a replacement was built in 2007. The replica is thought to be historically accurate, having been built from sketches and descriptions that Lewis drew in his journals.
We checked out the museum in the Visitor’s Center, with its artifacts. Beaver hats and pelts, a Coastal tribe canoe, grasses and foods that the Native Americans in the area used, as well as historic muskets and examples of clothing that the expedition members would have worn. It is always interesting to revisit a place. We also checked out Fort Clatsop, and the kids enjoyed exploring it. There wasn’t much space for 30 people to spend a cold, rainy winter! Jeff and I enjoyed wandering and following after the kids, relaxing and reading the signs.
The kids did the Junior Ranger program and got their badges; just in the nick of time too, because it started raining pretty hard! I didn’t really take many photos since I had visited there before, and apparently I was more into taking selfies! For more about the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, see my previous post.
That afternoon we went to the Fort George Brewery for pizza and some beer; while we were waiting for a table we checked out some of the nearby shops in downtown Astoria. The pizza was delicious, and everybody was happy! Jeff and I tried a couple different beers, it was nice to do some sampling and see what we liked.
Nearby to Fort George Brewery is the Reveille Ciderworks; one day I’ll visit there and try their ciders! It just wasn’t in the cards that day because the kids were more interested in pizza than some of the “weird food” they have at food trucks. Traveling with kids is a change of scenery for me! That said, I was still able to get a couple of oyster shooters at Fort George – nobody else wanted any – it was so strange because they are so delicious!
Day 1 & 2, Friday & Saturday, May 24 & 25, 2019
For Memorial Day weekend, Jeff and I had an opportunity to meet in Astoria for the long weekend. It was so much fun!
I left work a little early and drove down to Oregon in heavy, agonizing traffic. Blech. I was expecting it, since it was Memorial Day Weekend, but that part was not fun… I got there about 7:30 and Jeff and the kids were already there, even though they had to drive more miles. There’s a benefit to not having to drive through Seattle! I was excited to see them, so I quickly forgot about the long drive. That evening was pretty quiet; we drove around Astoria a little bit to get our bearings before dark. I have been there before, but Jeff never had. After dark, we got some snacks and had a relaxing evening in the hotel room, catching up.
On Saturday morning we decided to start our day in Seaside, a touristy little beach town on the Oregon Coast about 20 miles south of Astoria. With kids in tow, we made our way to Pig N’ Pancake – a kind of themey IHOP type place that kids love, because of course, they have lots of kid friendly meals. They also have adult friendly meals, including a Kielbasa skillet and a Taco omelette, in addition all sorts of pancakes, crepes and blintzes! Something for everyone and our server was friendly and attentive.
We wandered through downtown Seaside, and saw the historic carousel parked within an odd mall type structure, packed to the gills with touristy shops. We did find t-shirts and sweatshirts for reasonable prices to remember our visit. We saw a man making giant bubbles outside so that kids could play in them, and so parents could buy the kids their own giant bubble wand and bubble recipe. The kids ran through the bubbles for a while, but we didn’t buy the wand.
Right on the beach is the Seaside Aquarium, a small aquarium with over 100 species of fish and marine animals. Interestingly, this little place is one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast, in operation since 1937. The building that houses the aquarium was originally built as a natatorium (that’s a fancy word for a building that houses a swimming pool), and piped water in from the ocean just steps away and then heated it. The pool went belly up during the Great Depression and the aquarium took over the building.
The Seaside Aquarium is small and no frills. You won’t find fancy staff demonstrations or huge, involved habitats, and large pavilions. You will see small tanks, a touch tank and basic laminated cards with information about the animals who live there. And you will find the seals. The aquarium has eleven harbor seals who live there. They have a tank right up front and visitors can feed the seals fish purchased there, but be careful! These seals have learned that the best way to get some treats is to get your attention, and they will stop at nothing. Each seal has its own schtick, including water slaps, belly slaps, twirls, jumps, squeals and even splashing the visitors! Each seal has their own method, and apparently they are all self-taught and have not been formally trained.
The aquarium has bred these seals in captivity and was the first to successfully breed harbor seals; some of them are fifth or sixth generation! The Seaside Aquarium also hold the record for the oldest harbor seal in the world; Clara died in 1979 at the age of 35.
The aquarium also has a tsunami fish; the last surviving specimen of five striped beakfish that lived for more than two years in the partially submerged hull of the Japanese boat Sai-shou-maru , after the boat went adrift during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The boat washed onshore at Long Beach, Washington on March 22, 2013, after traveling more than two years and 4,000 miles from Japan. They could not release the beakfish in northwest waters, due to the threat of it becoming invasive so far from it’s native habitat; it is now on display here.
It was an interesting visit and didn’t take long. We checked out the tanks, fed the seals and managed to not get too wet!
Last weekend at the cabin, I spent a lot of time working on a puzzle. I was able to finish it that weekend with help from Lelani and Laura. It got me thinking about perspective. When you are working on a puzzle, sometimes you just need to step away from it for a bit, or look at it from a different angle. Move around to the other side. Don’t give up; just keep trying, but take a break before getting back to it. It lets you see something you couldn’t see before.
I think my puzzle perspective is applicable in career and life too. I have a few things going on in my life that require patience, and not knowing, and having faith that things will work out for the best. I’ll have to take my own advice, sit back and get a new perspective.
It’s been four weeks since my surgery, and thankfully last week’s snow is gone so I can get out of the house! I’m not ordinarily bothered by walking if there is snow, but snow, ice and my big hill combined were a bit more than I could manage while I’m still healing. Good thing I was able to work from home! I did head out for some short excursions to the bottom of the hill, and definitely felt it on the way back up!
I still get tired if I exert myself too much, so I’m working on stamina. Besides that, it just bothers me when my clothes rub on my incision. Which is pretty much constant, but mostly just an annoyance. I’m still not supposed to lift more than 15 pounds… I can’t carry tubs of yard debris, so I have to make a lot of little trips. No pushing wheelbarrows… No vacuuming or raking… No lifting bags of horse feed… No core exercises… Healing seems to be a lot of don’ts… I can’t wait until I get cleared to do my regular routine!
Healing clearly gives me a lot of time to think!
Day 31, Wednesday, August 15, 2018
I have for so long wanted to visit the site where our sixteenth President, Abraham Lincoln was born. I have seen where he was a young man, where he was a lawyer, where he was President, and where he died… It was so humbling to stand at the place where this great man began his life!
Lincoln was born here at Sinking Spring Farm (named for the water source) on February 12, 1809; he lived here for the first two years of his life. His parents, Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln made their living as farmers, and contrary to the usual story, Lincoln didn’t grow up particularly poor, by the standards of the day. He did move around a lot though, as the family had to leave Sinking Spring Farm after a dispute about the ownership of the land. They moved to nearby Knob Creek Farm in 1811, when Lincoln was two years old.
The birthplace memorial here was completed in 1911, a few years after the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth. A huge marble and granite Memorial Building was built between 1909 and 1911, in Greek and Roman architectural styles. It has 56 steps up to the building, to represent the 56 years that Lincoln was alive. Sixteen windows on the building and sixteen rosettes on the ceiling represent the fact that he was our nation’s 16th President. Inside, a symbolic birth cabin gives visitors an idea of what the cabin where Lincoln was born might have looked like.
The symbolic birth cabin was moved to the site when the Memorial Building was constructed, and had to be made smaller to fit inside the building, and to more accurately represent what Lincoln’s first home probably looked like. At the time the Memorial Building was constructed, many people actually believed that this was the cabin where Lincoln was born. Later technology allowed them to do dendochronology (tree ring analysis) in 2004 to determine that the cabin was not built until the 1840s, so it could not have been Lincoln’s birthplace.
When I first arrived, it had been pouring down rain, so I hurried into the Visitor’s Center and then hurried over to the Memorial Building. When I went back outside, the sun had come back out! I went down the 56 steps of the Memorial Building to check out Sinking Spring, the water feature which gave the farm its name. Sinking Spring is an underground spring, with an outlet to the surface set down into a hole; this was certainly the first water Abraham Lincoln ever drank!
Knob Creek Farm is also part of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park; it is located ten miles away from Sinking Spring Farm. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts, this portion of the park was not staffed, so I didn’t get to see inside this cabin. It was also not original to Lincoln or his family, but belonged to the family of one of the Lincolns’ neighbors. The young boy who lived in this cabin is thought to have once saved young Abe Lincoln’s life when he fell into Knob Creek. The cabin was moved here when the historical park was created. It was peaceful and quiet and interesting to see another place where Lincoln spent time as a child; he lived here from the ages of two to seven. Another land ownership dispute caused the family’s move to Indiana.
There were several signs posted indicating that Copperhead snakes make their home in the area. I didn’t see any, but also didn’t go tromping off through the field to the creek!
After leaving Lincoln behind for the day, I made my way to Lexington, Kentucky, where I would be stopping for the night. I saw a highway sign advertising Wildside Winery and decided to check it out! They had good wines, and a nice selection of both dry and sweet wines. I enjoyed talking with my server – it was his first day working at the winery – but he had lived in Brookings, Oregon for eight years, so we had the Pacific Northwest in common! I purchased four bottles; one was their Wild Duet. Sadly, they are all long gone now – but they were delicious!
That evening I camped at Boonesboro State Park in Lexington; the first of two nights I would spend there!
It’s the weekend! I managed to get through almost a full week of Snowmaggedon 2020; and fortunately I was mostly able to work from home, considering that I’m still recovering from my surgery. I did have to go in for a Board meeting on Monday evening though but that was before the worst of the storm hit…
I’ve been pretty into cider lately, and I’m loving that so many local cideries are making dry ciders! Schilling Cider has this apple and grapefruit cider called Grapefruit and Chill; it is tart and dry and delicious! I love the label design as well!
I hope you all have a great weekend and hopefully you get a three day weekend like I do!
Day 30, Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
I was excited to visit Mammoth Cave National Park! I drove down from Louisville for the day and entered the Park on the Flint Ridge Road. Note: the Park’s website warns visitors to disregard GPS directions, which can take you the wrong way. My GPS took me this alternate way, but still managed to get me to where I needed to go, with a bonus of seeing a section of the park that I probably wouldn’t have seen otherwise!
The drawback was that I either somehow missed the entrance sign or there wasn’t one. I saw a sign on the main road on the way out, but it wasn’t like the typical National Park entrance sign – it left a lot to be desired. I guess that’s just a reason to go back!
The Flint Ridge Road takes you by the Mammoth Cave Baptist Church and Cemetery. The original church was built in 1827; the current building is from 1927. It is in rough shape, with a hole in the back door, no electricity or other conveniences, and a very old, rustic outhouse in back. It was very remote, just a few miles from the main Visitor’s Center for the park. I got out and checked it out; the door to the church is not locked, so anyone can go inside. It was so eerily quiet there, it made me a little nervous…
I wandered the cemetery and read some of the headstones as well. Floyd Collins is buried in the cemetery. He died in 1925 after a rock collapse trapped him in Sand Cave, a newly discovered cave nearby; attempts to rescue him made the national news and kept people waiting for word for over two weeks, but ultimately he had died of starvation by the time rescuers reached him.
Sadly the church was vandalized with orange spray paint in September, about a month after my visit. The trail to go see the entrance to Sand Cave is here too, but I didn’t take the opportunity to hike it. I’m kicking myself now!
When I got to the Visitor’s Center, I chose to do the Historic Tour. It was interesting, and explored the long history of cave use. Mammoth Cave is the largest cave system in the world with over 400 miles of explored cave passages.
Native Americans used the cave for thousands of years and then stopped. In the late 1700s, Americans in the area began to use the cave for saltpeter mining; saltpeter is used in the manufacture of gunpowder. They couldn’t get it anymore from the British due to the Revolutionary War, so local suppliers could make a good profit!
After the war the need for saltpeter dried up so they opened the caves up for commercial tours. They had used slaves to mine the saltpeter; the slaves learned how to navigate in the caves, which was helpful in their later work as tour guides. The tour takes you by some of the old saltpeter mining equipment, which was left in the cave after the commercial viability of the venture dried up.
Mammoth Cave was also used for a brief period as a tuberculosis sanitarium – unfortunately it proved ineffective at helping people with tuberculosis. Total darkness experiments in the cave were also short-lived.
Unfortunately for me, the “Historic” section of the cave isn’t really all that pretty. This section of the cave has the largest rooms, but there aren’t a lot of beautiful “cave features” that you see in other caves. And you will certainly be disappointed in my photos; it is very dim inside and they don’t let you use flash… I did enjoy seeing the “graffiti” from the early 1800s; I saw one signature from 1839!
On my next visit I want to do the “Domes and Dripstones Tour”; this tour shows visitors the stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a huge dripstone section called Frozen Niagara, named because it looks like Niagara Falls when it is frozen in the winter. The Extended Historic Tour is also on my list, because you get to see the stone huts that remain from the period when Mammoth Cave was used as a tuberculosis sanitarium. That would be cool!
I really enjoyed my visit, but would also love to do more hiking there. Temperatures were in the 90s with high humidity the day that I visited so I opted not to hike. It would be fun to stay and camp there too! You can also float the river, or kayak there!
I stayed that night at the Glendale Campground in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, a convenient jumping off point for my explorations the next day! This family owned campground was only $20, and my campsite was right near a pond where a Green Heron was fishing!
Day 3 & 4, Saturday & Sunday, March 16 & 17, 2019
After Mom and I left Chiracahua National Monument, we still had some hours in the day left, so why waste them in a hotel room? I wanted to try some local wines, so we found the Arizona Wine Collective in Tucson. It is a wine bar that features and serves an assortment of Arizona wines.
I chose to taste through a flight of five and told my server what I typically like; crisp, dry whites and lighter, less oakey reds. She explained what she would recommend based on my palate and I went with her recommendations. I enjoyed four of the five wines she selected for me, so I feel like she did pretty well! Sadly, I didn’t end up recording the wines I had, so I’ll just have to go back again! I do wish they had bottles to take with you, but unfortunately, they did not. I see an Arizona wine tour in my future. It has been a while…
The Arizona Wine Collective doesn’t serve food, but there are a couple of restaurants in the complex where they are located and you can get takeout delivered without charge. Mom and I split a delicious order of nachos from the restaurant next door and it was more than enough for dinner for two.
The next morning it was time to head home… We drove over to the Tucson airport and deposited our hamster car (Kia Soul) back at the rental place. Then we sat outside for a while soaking up the Arizona sunshine before it was time to make our way through security. I can never get enough of feeling the warm sun on my face! Especially since as I am writing this I’m looking outside at an inch of snow, a temperature of 19 degrees and a windchill of 6, with a high temperature today of 26 degrees. I need some warm sun!
Until my next escape!