Friday, July 31, 2009

Back in the saddle again...

(Image from here.)

It's been a while since I've taken myself for a good mountain bike ride, and yesterday was the day I got back into the saddle again. Due to a broken bike rack I had to bike to the trail head (quite a little journey in and of itself), do the 10 mile ride, and then bike home. Despite a rather long detoured trip home (I was trying to find an alternative route to avoid traffic), the ride was fantastic, and I can't wait to do it again!

The wildflowers were out in full force--thanks again to the wet summer we've had. The creek was clipping along at a cheerful pace, and the hill itself wasn't quite as steep as I remembered... whew! At the top, I took a little break at a quaint crossing bridge and then headed, full bore, back down the hill. When I wasn't thinking about how to dodge the next rock ahead, I couldn't help but notice how much fun I was having, especially on the downhill that used to terrify me. I guess I've come along way from where I started in the mountain biking scheme of things. Maybe there is something to "getting back on the horse" or "trying something every day that's just a little bit scary". Now I can't wait to find the next trail... Let's just hope I can fix my bike rack!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yellowstone National Park...

(A geyser pool just behind Old Faithful)

(The Yellowstone Falls from the South Rim)

(On top of Mt. Washburn, the volcano that created the Yellowstone Caldera)

Every summer I visit Yellowstone National Park at last once. It's only about 90 miles away from where we live, and I figure if I don't take advantage of it now, I'll kick myself later. So when I looked at the calender after I woke up Tuesday morning and realized I had yet to take my annual trip and that the days of summer vacation were quickly disappearing, I quickly loaded up the car and headed off. Each year I've gone the trip has been great, and this year's solo adventure was no exception.

I saw lots of animals on this trip, more so than usual. From the safety of my car I saw a HUGE bull elk, a bear, quite a few cow & caff elk combos, and a few dear. From the trail I had the chance to see a heard of mountain goats grazing near the top of Mt. Washburn (the volcano that created the famous Yellowstone caldera), a mule deer fawn who looked rather doe-eyed, and an incredibly fat marmot. I of course saw lots of buffalo too, but that's always a given in Yellowstone-- I probably take seeing them for granted.

Outside of seeing lots of animals I saw more wildflowers than I've ever seen in the park this time of year; I'm guessing it's because we've had more rain than usual. I also was able to take in amazing views from the top of Mt. Washburn, Tower Falls, the Yellowstone Falls, Yellowstone Lake, and I of course stopped to see Old Faithful do her thing. I don't know why, but there are just some things, like seeing Old Faithful, that are a must for me-- even despite the hoards of people.

I also try to add at least two new things to my Yellowstone adventure each year. Last year I added watching the sunset over Lake Yellowstone while sipping on a glass of wine from inside the Lake hotel-- truly a magical moment. I also hiked the whole way around the famous Yellowstone falls (the North and South Rims)-- which was also beautiful. This year I added the Mt. Washburn hike and a walking tour of the geysers, springs, and pools behind Old Faithful. I'm glad I got to add them both in, but I think one of the highlights of the trip was actually finding a camping spot (almost impossible on a spontaneous trip to the park this time of year).

All in all, it was a delightful adventure, and it reminded me just how lucky I am to be only a couple of hours from the unique beauty of Yellowstone. Life is good. I feel lucky. Mother Nature is amazing.

What do you do, or have you done, that reminds you your life is good?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Check this out...

I thought I'd treat myself to a video from my local video store today. I haven't visited the store in a while as it seems like I've seen a good chunk of the new titles or that the movies just don't look that appealing to me at the moment. Today's visit to the store started out in that way, but then at the very last minute this independent film, Last Stop for Paul, caught my eye.

I happen to be reading a really good book at the moment based on a similar idea (friends spreading the ashes of another friend), and I love to travel, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I'm so glad I did. It's a little out-there at times, but if you've ever traveled (especially outside of your own country) or have ever had the travel/adventure bug, you should really take a look at this picture. It will take you back to your favorite travel "out-there" adventures and/or make you want to find some new ones.

Another cool thing about this film-- which you can find and read more about under the "about" link on the movie's website-- is that there were really only three people on the entire crew at any given time. They also filmed the entire thing with one camera, a couple of wireless microphones, three batteries, and a rough outline for their story. Who says you can't do more for less in the film industry? It's hard not to be inspired by the creativity and resourcefulness used to create this film.

It really is a treat of a film. Enjoy :)

Saturday, July 25, 2009


A photo I took on a recent hike with The New Chapter

Today was a day

I could smile

and say,

"There is verry little I would change."

I'd love to hear about a day or a moment you wouldn't change, or at least wouldn't change very much...

Friday, July 24, 2009


Photo of a flowery meadow on one of my hikes

As I've mentioned previously, I've had a lot to think about in the past few weeks. After thinking about all of those happenings and as I have tried to capture the beauty around me on film, I have come to an important conclusion and maybe even one that will become a truth for me:

Seldom are things worthy enough to be seen in black and white, and so I must dare
to think in color.

As I think about this idea, the more intrigued I become. Sometimes it's much easier to see things in black and white instead of seeing a situation in all the dimensions color offers. Seeing in black and white makes a complex situation simpler; it makes things more digestible; it tones down the graphics of it all. There are sometimes when seeing things in black and white works well and is the best choice. Sometimes the textures, angles, and shades of the situation are just so vivid, so beautiful, or so horrid that we just can't comprehend them in color, but a black and white filter simplifies it just enough that we can better understand what is at hand. There are very few situations worthy of a black and white filter.

Seeing in black and white limits our understanding. It flattens out those subtle textures, angles, and shades that can only appear in color; it flattens them to the point where those details disappear completely. As those dimensions disappear so does our full understanding of the situation. We don't see the blemishes. We can't tell if we're looking at shades of red, blue, or green. We loose that depth that only a color-filter can detect. As a result, we also miss out on the details that help us feel and think in 3-D. There are very few situations worthy of a black and white filter.

There are also those situations that lie in between-- there are always those situations. These in-between situations are some of the hardest. The full-color details are painfully vivid to the point where we are tempted to ease it with the black and white filter. But, when we try to put them in black and white they are muted just enough that we can't we can't connect with them in the same way we once did. Sure, black and white can take off the edge, but when we take off the edge we often lose a little bit of the truth. There are very few situations worthy of a black and white filter.

When I think about these two filters from behind my camera lens, at my teacher's desk, in my living room, or from behind the newspaper, I feel challenged. There are a lot of situations I'd like to put in black and white. It might make something look cooler; it might make something more acceptable; it might make something easier to deal with or come to a conclusion about. But, are those situations worthy of the black and white filter? Will it lose too much detail and depth. Will it lose too much of the truth? And so I have concluded: seldom are things worthy enough to be seen in black and white, and so I must dare to think in color.

Which filters do you use?

Yesterday's possibility...

Bell flowers overlooking the canyon.

Photo from the trail looking down on the reservoir shown below.

Photo of the reservoir before I took off for the trail.

After a short blog session and a few chores around the house yesterday I went, and I dwelled (in possibility, of course!). This is what I saw. Man, was it a beautiful hike! I especially enjoyed the vistas of the mountains around me and the vibrant green meadows filled with beautiful wild flowers. I'm not quite sure why, but the wild flowers have really caught my eye this season. We've gotten a lot of rain this summer, more so than any other summer I've lived in Montana; perhaps this is why the blooms are more plentiful and colorful than in past years. It is getting hotter though, hence the haze in the pictures above, so I'm sure the days of the wildflowers are numbered.

The hike must have been a bit more strenuous than I thought too-- my legs are still burning a day later. I guess the burning could be a sign that I'm just out of shape, but who wants to dwell in that possibility?? ;)

So what kind of possibilities dwell in your weekend? I'd love to hear about what you have planned or whatever just happens to happen. Happy Friday, and happy adventuring! :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009


A photo I took on my way back from History Rock...

"Dwell in possibility..."
~Emily Dickinson

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Quiet Solitude

(A photo I took on one of my solo hikes.)

It has been a while, okay a long while since I've blogged. I guess I was (and still sort of am) on a bit of sojourn. I don't apologize, though, because it was a much needed rest period. I needed to go home. I needed to process all that went on there. I needed to re-learn how to live alone again (The New Chapter is still away for work). I needed to relax to the point where I could sit at my kitchen table and only hear the hum of the refrigerator and the beat of my heart (This did literally happen. I'm not just being poetic nor was I having a heart attack-- it was just that quiet). I haven't had the chance to relax this deeply and be this quiet since I lived in that barn in that teeny-tiny, middle-of-nowhere-Montana town where I got my start as an adult. This quiet, alone time has been delightful. I feel like me again, and am revisiting the things that make me. It feels good.

In some ways I feel bad because I have let myself slip off the face of my social, every-day world, and some of my friends are worried. I haven't gotten that excited about starting school yet, unlike some of them. I declined an invitation to go with a friend on her family vacation to one of my most favorite places (the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park). I haven't picked up very many phone calls. I haven't invited anyone to go on the many hikes I've tried or invited anyone to do much of anything for that matter. I've just been in the process of being and remembering how to be. I assure you that there is no need for alarm. I'm quite happy and have been doing lots of hiking, organizing around the house, gardening, reading, and the like. I'm far from being depressed. I guess you could say that I'm just getting back to the basics of who I am and will be a much better for taking the time to do it.

I have also been processing a lot of things that have happened in the past year or two, and my best processing happens in solitude and silence. I'm pleased to report that my family is doing really well-- My brother is moved into his new house post-tornado, and my parents should be in theirs by the end of August. In other words, my family is really close to achieving their "new normal" daily routine, which is a HUGE sigh of relief for us all. My family is not alone in finding its new normal. My hometown is also doing really well. The progress I saw on this trip and the general emotional atmosphere is nearly resurrected from the rubble. Although, just as The New Chapter and I were driving home, we received word that our beloved teacher and football coach was shot in the weight room in a drug-related shooting by a former player. The shooting has left all us all feeling a little numb again-- maybe even more numb than after the tornado last May.

In fact, I can honestly say that the passing of Coach Thomas has made me take a hard look at my own life, where I am at, and where I want to be. This self-evaluation has been the subject of much of my musings lately, and I have a feeling it has been on the minds of the many he touched. He was just that kind of guy. He made all of us want to continually strive to be the best we could be. Even in his death we can still hear him coaching us to do the right thing, work hard, give our best, keep pushing through, and to have pride and passion in all that we do. The words are so clear that in some ways his death doesn't even seem real. Although, I wasn't as close to him as many were, I've come to realize that because he helped lay the foundation for much of what my hometown stands for and my pride in Parkersburg, I am more affected by his passing than I thought. That says something about his character and might explain why so many from my hometown are feeling even more numb now than after the tornado hit last May. The whole thing is a lot to process.

But, I can say with confidence that we will all rise up again and be better than we were before; he would expect nothing less of us. The ironic thing is that for a good chunk of us, it will be his mantras, or a variation of them, that will help us through this rough patch just like they helped us in the classroom, on the football field, during those tough times we faced in our adult lives, through the aftermath of the tornado... His mantras helped us then, and they will help us again as long we don't forget what he taught us and remember to pass them on--there truly would be no better memorial for a man who touched so many.

So in my effort to be my best me, and to pay tribute to such a great man and to my Parkersburg roots, I am in quiet solitude thinking about how I can and what i will do to achieve my goal. I'm finding that for some areas in my life, I have to go back quite a ways to find the answer; it's amazing how time has a sneaky way of leading us off track. While in other areas, the answer lies in a hybrid of things from my distant past as well as from my more recent past. I just hope the conclusions I come to will reflect in the way I live, and I hope I can find and embrace the chances I have to pass on some of the mantras that were given to me from my roots and have helped me get to where I am today.