Saturday, August 19, 2017

Happiness quotient

Front porch sitting sometimes happens without Tony home. Earlier this week I sat for the first time since our sanctuary was violated with the timbering. And during that time, I had quite a few realizations. They're my way of processing, integrating, and moving forward in a positive light related to not just what's happened here, but what is happening in our world today. I thought I'd share since I've made my heart so known. I am healing. I appreciate all the prayers and good energy people have been sending. I know your love is what is also contributing to my healing, as well as the others you're praying for!

As I listened to the night noises, I kept looking over my shoulder in the direction of the newly gouged hole in our forest. There was nothing about the night noises that identified it. They sounded the exact same. I thought back to the day we had gone up there. The noises that day were the same as from my front porch. I tell people I live in a log cabin in the woods all the time. Most probably don't realize how literal I'm being. We probably only get 4 hours of direct sunlight each day the sun actually shines. And here on the Blue Ridge, that's not a whole lot with the fog, rain, and snow factored in.

So I started questioning myself as to why exactly I was so torn up about this clear cutting. There are so many other horrors going on in the world. My little piece of heaven being violated seemed petty in relation. I began the difficult process of peeling away the layers of my mind, body, and spirit to get to the root.

In thinking about the origins of the sounds I was hearing, I realized that piece of property is now mostly devoid of those noises. Which in turn means the bugs and tree frogs are homeless. The birds and squirrel nests are now gone. Displacement - all those critters must find a new place to live. And let's just stop and think what will happen next monsoon season if it's anything like the one from this year. The erosion and turmoil in that ecosystem will quickly impact everything downstream from it. It  made me realize how selfish I had been in focusing solely on the eye sore the tree graveyard was. 

When all of that hit me, I started cursing the various parties involved. The original owner for raising children that are so callous that money trumps Mother Earth. I moved on to those children that practically gave the property away. Next was the current owners that in such a short sighted move, created a problem much larger than the financial bind they find themselves in requiring them to sell timber to pay for their investment. Of course I threw the actual loggers under the bus for participating in such a scheme. I took it even further to the companies buying it. And finally I cursed the consumer for using it. 

And in that final curse, I realized the hypocrite that I am!! I went back to my statement - I live in a log cabin in the woods. Hello!! Dumbass, you are a consumer of wood!! Your house and nearly everything in it are made of trees. Your garage with your art studio is the same. Trees had to be taken down on the property you live on to allow for the construction of your home and the roadway to get to it. Sure, I can justify that the clearing of our land was done for the purpose of living here. That the clear cutting that was done was not simply for financial gain. But if I'm being true to my heart, I have contributed to the act of destroying Mother Earth however indirectly.

And in that realization, I was forced to find forgiveness. And acceptance. And peace. Because if any of the wood I consume was cut for money, surely I have reversed the karma by loving it so tenderly as part of my home. And that led me to the concerning times we live in.

The golden rule of do unto others sure seems to be lost in this world. But if I buy into that and allow it to change my behavior, then I'm just adding to that negativity. Instead of responding to hatred and intolerance with kind, maybe I could change the cycle by replying in love and understanding. 

There are numerous people on this planet. Some with good intentions, and some with bad. My heart is only so big. I can allow those with bad intentions to fill my heart with negativity, and join in their bitter picture of the world. Or I can choose to love them and fill my heart with positivity. It truly is all in my perspective. I command it. I decide. 

As you wake to each new day, I hope you'll stop and ponder how you will fill your heart. You hold the key to your own happiness. And I hope you choose kindness, understanding, and love to name a few. I will be.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Roller Coasters

When I was a kid, I LOVED roller coasters. When we lived in Ohio, Cedar Point was my favorite place. In Charlotte, we had Carowinds. Of course we’ve been to Disney World and Busch Gardens. And don’t forget the local fairs with their turning in sickening circle rides and ferris wheels.

As I’ve aged, I’ve found I enjoy the rides in an amusement park less. There was something about the responsibility of being a parent that gave me pause in doing things that could result in my death, however unlikely that outcome seemed. I just didn’t think it was smart of me to hurl my body into mid air when I had two children at home to care for.

I’m realizing with each passing year, that life is enough of a roller coaster in and of itself. The various phases of life keep catching me off guard, and I find myself holding my breath. I know that I’m supposed to breath. I know that I’m strong and capable of enduring whatever is thrown my way. But it’s still extremely difficult at times.

Last night before bed, I found myself in a bad mood. Being a sunny side up person, I don’t like bad moods. I hoped sleep would cure whatever was ailing me. But I awoke to the same feeling. I decided to stop and examine it to determine exactly what is going on.

I don’t take that task lightly. Looking in a mirror can be incredibly painful and gut wrenching. The majority of us find it so unpleasant, we simply avoid it. We live in the world of denial and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality at its finest.

As peri-menopause ravages my mind, body, and spirit, I’ve found myself in this vortex too often. I realize it is hormone imbalances that are playing tricks on me. But even being aware of it, doesn’t keep it from happening or doesn’t influence my rebound rate. Sometimes it simply gives me an excuse to stay in the dark valley and wallow.

When I take these moments to stop and evaluate this journey, I can’t help but feel ashamed for ever being anything but grateful. I have my health of mind/body/spirit, a wonderful husband, two beautiful daughters and now a son-in-law, a gorgeous home filled with the things I love, abundance of the finer things in life, family and friends that fill me, and the ability to pursue anything that my heart desires. Just writing all of those things cheers me up, but yes, there is still some void this morning.

I think of all the recent endeavors that I have been pursuing. There are currently so many doors standing wide open for me to consider. My creative mind is bouncing off the walls. A certain part of me is resentful that I cannot spend every waking moment tending to my creative right brain.

But this morning, I’m forcing myself to go further back. To review who I am at the core. And as I’ve said many times, that is a giver, a nurturer, an empath, a mother hen. I’ve said it a few times in the past couple of weeks, but I’m putting it here in black and white. I went from my parent’s home at 18 directly into marriage, immediately had a child, raised two daughters, and when my nest was empty, I filled it with the hundreds of clients in my work. I think maybe I’ve overdone it, and that is what I’m feeling.

I’m realizing that in all this giving to others, I’ve depleted me. My stubborn, strong, independent self has bulled through this path. If I ever felt tired or spent, I simply told myself to “suck it up buttercup” and plow through it. I found a few outlets here and there, but for the most part, my workaholic tendencies prevailed.

I have put into motion numerous things to give me more space to explore ME. But as we all know, I am not a patient person. I expect everything to flip on a dime. When I decide to go in a direction, the whole world is supposed to go with me. It’s that selfish side of me that still exists – that human side.

So, long story short, this mood this morning is about my impatience at being human. That my desires are not being met immediately, and I’m having a temper tantrum about it. And I’ve decided that is okay. That I am going to rejoice in my humanity and not negatively judge myself. I am who I am. It’s my perspective that decides if this roller coaster is enjoyable or not. Today I’m choosing acceptance – all sickening, spinning, twirling, hurling, gyrating, bumping turns of this roller coaster called me!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Ah Ha Moments

This evening I was sitting on my front porch. I have spent more time on my front porch this summer than I have in the entire 11 years we have been living here full time. As usual when I discover a gem that has been lying under my nose for so long without seeing it, I want to kick myself for being so dense. But again, I remind myself, that with all things, I wasn’t meant to find it before. I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t aware. I wasn’t prepared for the healing that I’d find when the time was ripe.

As I swang to and fro, the gentle breeze it created brushed across my face and through my short hair. The smells of star gazer lilies are thick in the air right now as I have two beautiful plants that generated 10 blooms on one tall skinny stem, and the other 11. I have to stake them to keep them erect. The creek behind the house gurgled in its quest to barrel down the crooked crevice in the hill like a bob sledder on a frozen track in the Olympics. The bugs chirped in the background with their steady rhythmic screeching. The birds sang in full voice, and I swear, one sounded pissed off about something. And then the sun set, and the birds faded away.

I’ve often wondered how birds knew when to go to bed. And where were they in the trees. And how did they keep other critters out of their nests. And just how did they make it all through the night sleeping in branches far over the forest floor. These crazy questions that keep me awake at night if I let them.

But tonight I slowed down enough to really ponder these questions. And it hit me. The whole reason I went out on the porch was the birds had gotten so loud. I wasn’t really sure what was going on. I sat and listened to them. It was as if they were conversing:

Miss Blue bird: Hey everyone, I had quite the day. But I’m home now and all is well. Sleep
Mister Cardinal: Hey Indi, so glad you had a great day. Now could you keep it down, we’re
all trying to settle in for the night.
Wise Owl: Hey Red, do you always have a leaf stuck in your beak?! Night Indi!

All the chatter sounded just like the Waltons – Good night Mary Ellen; Good night Jim-Bob; Good night John Boy! Of course I know I’m being absurd. Birds don’t really communicate the way humans do. But what if the routine is this: they wake up, greet each other, share a flight plan (because really, how do birds avoid hitting each other with as many as there are in the skies?!), go about the work of their day, come back to nest for the night, and off to the same routine tomorrow? What if all the communication is to say “Hey, I’m in my nest, don’t mess with me, and I won’t mess with you”. I’m going to test my theory tomorrow night and see if it happens again just like tonight.

Thinking like a bird. A very difficult thing to do. We’re so very far removed from living in a world of survival of the fittest, we have ZERO ideas on how any of that works. All of that prompted me to yet another thought. (Yes, I do wish there was an off button for the various tortures my brain provides!)

What if we lived in a world where we didn’t measure age? When did that start anyway? What would that world look like? Would we bother with working out, face lifts, breast implants, make up, hair dye, and the like? Would we have words like elderly, retirement, antiquated, or obsolete?
Or perhaps we would segment by usefulness, experience, and wisdom instead. Or by follower or leader. And maybe even we wouldn’t distinguish at all but simply let the transgression of time take its natural course and allow Mother Earth to spin in her natural rhythm complementing each other for the greatness of the whole.
As with the evolution of everything, those times did once exist. Where we didn’t stereotype, place everything in a “box”, or have a word called social conformity. We are far removed from that stratosphere. What a shame. I can only imagine the peace of mind the simplicity afforded.
My take away is to start thinking like a bird more often. When I open my mouth to judge or let my thoughts wander to a darker side, I am going to ask myself what does the segment matter. As long as we communicate our flight plan, surely we can avoid mid air collisions.
Oh my ah ha moments these days. I freaking LOVE being 50! If only I could have had this wisdom to get out of my own stupid way in all those moments of stumbling. But alas, Mother Earth knows best!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


Where to begin? I’ve been contemplating this all day in preparation of sharing this story. In order for you to fully grasp the significance, I have to back track a bit. So for those of you that know me personally, I’ll apologize for the parts that you may already know.

To start, you have to know my personality. I’m a think outside the box person. I’m a problem solver. I’m a 150% or nothing doer. I’m the youngest of five and a complete brat. I’m an “is it broken, nope, well heck, let’s break it just to see what happens” person. I’m also a damn yankee. I was born in Ohio and have lived in the South since I was 10. That’s significant because I annoy the hell out of most Southern people, especially the women, because I rarely take no for an answer, can be extremely blunt, and cuss like a sailor far too much. I’m competitive, type A plus a bazillion, and opinionated. I’m also a mother hen and want to help people.

But about 19 years ago, I met an angel that pointed out that if I’d just get out of my own way, the good intentions that were my motives for the things I do in life could be seen. Of course I fought that diagnosis and kicked and screamed that “why can’t people just understand me”. Thankfully, the divine spirit didn’t give up on me and kept working on me (well, really I’m still a work in progress as I still get in my own way at times!).

I had to go through considerable angst and self evaluation to figure out that Charlotte, my corporate job, and my ego were going to kill me and those around me if I didn’t do something about it. I wasn’t the mother, wife, daughter, employee, co-worker, neighbor, sister, or aunt that I was capable of being. I was too consumed with ME! So, I bellied up to the adult bar and formulated a plan.

I started trying to find ways to spend more time with my family and less time worried about climbing the corporate ladder. I tried to see those around me outside of my judgment of them, but for their true value. I worked on removing ME from my sentences and include more WEs and USs. It was hard. Many times I could not step back far enough to see what was so obvious to others. I became aware of how toxic Charlotte was for my family. It was too late for Jennifer, as she had finished high school, but there was still time to make things better for Cassidi.

Eventually, I came up with the escape plan of getting my massage education and licensure and moving to our cabin in the woods. We had actually bought it a couple of years earlier trying to spend more family time in nature together. We knew it was home as soon as we bought it, but just had no idea it would REALLY become home. I went back to school for massage and added in the yoga certification for good measure. I started talking to the folks at my “day job”, and they gave me the green light to move and continue working for the bank. It was actually the perfect transition to wean myself off the crazy corporate life to the slower country life. We moved up eleven years ago this summer and have never looked back.

I tell you all of that to help you understand the simple fact that I’m a seeker. I’m a chameleon. I’m always transforming. Sometimes it’s big things, sometimes it’s small things. But I’m always looking for the next thing I’m supposed to be doing. The next gift the divine wants to share with me to share with those in my life. I get bored easily, so this is a continual pattern for me. I have the energy for it, but those around me sometimes get a little irritated – namely Tony!

I’ve had three separate businesses in the eleven years we’ve been up here – one a very small massage operation close to our house, the other a very successful spa for six and a half years, and now the wellness center for the last two and a half years. Things are great, and I work with an amazing group of people – both staff and clients. I love what I do and getting to help people day in and day out has filled my heart to the brim.

But as with everything, time and gravity set in. I overdid the physical aspect of the work and it has caught up with me. I cannot see the volume of people at I once did. The aches and pains in my own body have caught up with me. I found an amazing therapist that has stepped in and taken on the majority of the work. It has been so wonderful knowing that my clients are being taken care of by someone that while she isn’t me, she’s darn close. Those of you that have a service provider of any sort, know that once you get used to someone, it’s nearly impossible to ever replace them and not compare them back to the first one you fell in love with. My clients aren’t bodies I throw on a table and rub. They’re my family. They’re my peeps! So, it isn’t easy stepping away – not on my heart nor theirs.

Knowing this was the fate of a massage therapist (the usual career span is 10 to 15 years based on the volume and difficulty of the work) is not a secret. And I didn’t help matters by being older when I started. So, at 50, I’ve done really well to work at the pace I have, put as much of myself in to it from a mind/body/spirit perspective, and still be able to put in about 15 to 20 hours a week with the massage. That doesn’t include all the other hours that are spent actually running the business. Yes, I’m an energizer bunny, but my batteries aren’t as strong as they once were!

Nonetheless, I’ve been contemplating what’s next. I’ve done some training to become a teacher (of what, I’m not entirely sure); I have a full fledged art studio up at the garage ready to start; I want to write books; Granny ‘Cann is ready to be initiated when the time comes; and I’ve been contemplating some specialty focuses in body work that is less physically demanding on my body. So many wonderful options to choose from. And I keep meeting people in each of these fields that are available to help me on my path. Trying to figure out the next step has been very difficult.

In my quest to become less type A and more type B, I’ve embraced the saying “Let go and let God”. I do my best to remove my will and my desires from my wants and actions. I pray for strength to survive whatever will be thrown my way instead of a specific outcome. Recently, I’ve become so complacent in my approach to decisions, I feel like maybe I’m moving in the wrong direction.

So, I’ve been asking for guidance and direction from the divine. I’ve asked for clarity. I’ve asked for “signs”. I said out loud on my front porch last night “Divine spirit, please show me the way! Please give me the clear direction you want me to pursue!”

Afterward, I shook my head and realized how just in my question, I was limiting myself. The whole “I only do it 150% or not at all” thing had gotten me again. I realized that I could do so many of these things at the same time. That if I just stopped expecting a HUGE shift like the forced extraction I gave myself in leaving the corporate world all those years ago, I could pursue many of these things in parallel. I went to bed feeling a little calmer.

This morning when I woke up, I knew I didn’t have to go in until later in the day. I slowly made my way through the morning. A couple of clients had to cancel, so I worked on compacting my schedule if possible. I fed the animals, and put the finishing touches on cleaning the hot tub from the weekend. It took a little longer than I expected, so I didn’t get out the door to start my walk when I intended to. I also needed to hear from one last client on my schedule. I broke protocol and took my phone with me. I wanted to do my large loop, but if she couldn’t come later, I’d have to settle for the shorter route. Not long into the walk, she let me know it was good to do the full circle.

On my walk, there is one stretch right before I turn to start the circle where the pavement turns to gravel. I know that just over the hill and on the right, sets the little cabin that commemorates Orlene Puckett on the Parkway. I fell in love with her story when we first started coming up here. She was a midwife that delivered over 1000 babies even though she didn’t start “catching babies” until she was 50. Because she was born at a time where they didn’t keep birth records, her exact age isn’t known. But she was approximately 100 when she died. The super tragic piece of her story is that she had 24 babies of her own – each and every one dying before the age of one. It’s believed she had RH factor. That means that her first child would survive, but all future pregnancies would terminate. In a cruel twist of fate, typhoid took the life of her first young daughter. All future babies she either miscarried, had a still birth, or they died within months of birth.

No one knew what RH factor was at that time. Her husband was a very hard, mountain man and many believed he abused her causing the deaths. And some people even thought she had abused and killed the children. It was a very hard time in our history – mid 1800s. The mountain people in that time were very uneducated and somewhat anti-social. She became a mid-wife almost by accident. A neighbor was having a difficult delivery, no doctor was available, and the husband sought out Orlene, because he figured after having 24 babies of her own, surely she knew something about it.

A few years back, I found out there was a woman that conducted a performance honoring the memory and legacy of Orlene. She’s actually known as Aunt Orlene. It’s a show the Park Services organizes. We took our lawn chairs on a hot June day and watch Phyllis Stump tell the tragic story of sweet Aunt Orlene. I was moved to tears (yeah, we all know I’m a BIG cry baby!). She had a book she’d written. I bought it and devoured it. I tried to get in touch with her afterward as she said she lives close by, but nothing ever came of it. She has since had health problems and has not been able to do the shows. I’ve often said maybe I should take up the torch and carry her story forward. Nothing has ever come of it, but it’s always been in the back of my mind. When we were on the Parkway a couple of weekends ago, Tony said “When are you going to get going on being Aunt Orlene?” I chuckled.

So, every time I get to that part of my walk, I always hope that I’ll see her spirit up over the horizon. Every time I’ve been disappointed. Until today!

I didn’t see her in that spot, nor did she make herself known in the image I have pictured in my brain. As I was walking, I saw an older woman walking ahead of me. I actually thought she was this sweet little woman that sits on her front porch starting her day on so many occasions on my previous walks. When I first saw her, she was actually looking back in my direction, stopped in the road. I picked up my pace hoping to catch her so we could talk. I saw another couple on their front porch, waved, and spoke a good day greeting to them. When I looked back up the road, she was gone. My heart sank a bit, but I held out hope that she’d be on her front porch so I could say hello.

I picked up my pace yet again. I was really excited that maybe I was going to carry on a conversation with her this time. I’ve seen her, and her husband on other occasions, many times on my walks in the past year. We’ve exchanged pleasantries but that’s all. Something today told me to stop and allow space for more.

When I got to the house, she was there on the porch. I said good morning, and she replied the same. I asked about her walk. She explained where she had been. She mentioned the Puckett cabin, and then further explained that she used to do a performance in her honor. My heart stopped! I nearly started crying right there. But I was able to say “Are you Phyllis Stump?” The surprised look on her face was priceless. She answered, “Why yes, I am.” I think there may have been a hint of pride in knowing that her work was known to this stranger. She got up and walked toward me, and I started walking toward her. I had to do everything in my power not to hug her neck and sob. I explained I was about to get emotional. I asked if I could sit with her. She agreed.

We spent the next hour reviewing the facts of me seeing her performance, trying to find her, and wanting to carry Aunt Orlene’s story forward. I told her all about my feeling of a transformation trying to happen in my life. About how I’ve passed her house and been so drawn to her numerous times in the past year. How I’ve wanted to see Aunt Orlene’s spirit all these years on that road and by the cabin, but today I actually did! I’d explain, cry, compose myself, and explain some more. All the while, she sat in bewilderment. She’d explain some things about Aunt Orlene as if I was a stranger to her story. I’d chirp off the stats and told her I knew - I’d memorized her book. She was flabbergasted.

We had such a wonderful talk. It went in so many directions. At one point, I was talking about this place being her home that I’ve walked by so many times. That I had been looking for her and she was sitting right there. How I was drawn to the street number on her mailbox because it made three 8s when combined (yes, my crazy LOVE of the number 8). And that’s when she floored me again. She told me this wasn’t her house. That she just knew the woman that owned it (the owner is actually a baby that Aunt Orlene delivered), and had stopped for a rest on her walk back home. That’s when I really lost it. The poor thing had no idea what to think of me!

At the summary of our talk there at that house, I asked her if she was ready to pass the torch. She spoke of her illnesses, of her desire to keep performing but the difficulties of finding a location as the Park Services have cut funding, of other places she’s tried to perform that just haven’t panned out, and of her continual aging that has hindered her memory and ability to perform. At one point, I think there may have been recognition that this person sitting in front of her just may be the answer to a prayer that she didn’t even know she had or was ready for.

So many people call all of these occurrences coincidences – ironies. I am a firm believer that everything in our lives happen for a reason. And every happening is an opportunity for learning and growth. All of the happenings that led up to me meeting Phyllis today were perfectly lined up – me starting out later than I expected, me seeing her in the distance, her stopping at this house I’ve been so drawn to, it not even being her house, her being who she was, my heart being what it is, her heart being what it is. Not one single item in that list happened without purpose.

We got up, made our way slowly to her house (which is also on my circle route in which I’ve greeted them on their porch a time or two, also), I met her husband, and she invited me in. She showed me a picture she had commissioned a local artist to draw of Aunt Orlene and what she thinks are her two nephews. She showed me the two big binders she has right there in her living room containing her research on Aunt Orlene. I asked if she wanted me to take some of her books to sell at MAMAW. She gave me four. We exchanged names, phone numbers, and email addresses. We have no idea where this is going, but we’re both to ponder it and get back to each other this coming Monday.

As I was about to leave, she was looking long and hard at me. She told me I didn’t look 50, but then again, she’s been told she doesn’t look her actual age either. She then sized me up, told me I was tall, and was definitely closer to Aunt Orlene’s height than she herself was. It occurred to me that she was “auditioning” me. My heart smiled!

Needless to say, I walked out of her house, made my way home, and have zero idea how I got there. I was on cloud nine at today’s discovery. Again, I have no earthly idea what’s to come of all of this, but am so grateful for this experience. I feel the divine spirit is working magic, and I am beyond excited to see what unfolds!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Bad news bears - August 14, 2015

Well, our good luck streak came to an abrupt halt. Tony got a call around lunch that one of the items for the truck was defective. They were going to search the area and try to find another one, but it would not be until Monday at the earliest before they could get it. We were all deflated pretty much immediately. All of us were wracking our brains to come up with a solution. We all need to get back to reality ASAP. We were so much in denial that everything was going to work out perfectly for us to leave tomorrow morning. It was rather depressing news.

Once it sank it, we realized the only way to remedy the situation was for me and the girls to rent a car and drive back. Tony would have to wait for the truck and drive back alone. It’s not the solution any of us had hoped for, but it is going to work out fairly well considering. All we can hope for is that they’ll get the part quickly and he can get home safely since he’ll have to drive the 22+ hour trip alone.

Once we decided that, we put our minds to enjoying the day. We had already been to Red Rocks Amphitheater and checked out Boulder. We were nearly to Rocky Mountain National Park when he called. There was no sense in letting the bad news ruin our day. We couldn’t do anything to change it anyway.

Just before we got into the park, we saw a group of people crowded alongside the road. We stopped and about 150 feet off the road in a cropping of rocks, a bear was rolling around. He didn’t have a care in the world about all of us gawking at him. A park ranger was there to do crowd control thankfully. We didn’t have any situations like yesterday where someone tried to walk up to it. He threatened some folks with tickets if they didn’t do what he asked. We decided seeing the bear was God’s way of making amends for all the bad luck.

The park is absolutely gorgeous. Of course I took more and more pictures of beautiful mountain tops, trees, and critters. We saw tons of elk, chubby chipmunks, and deer. We were dying to see a moose, but that didn’t happen. When we got to the pinnacle of the park, a rain storm blew it. It then turned to hail. When we left Denver, it was 92 degrees. It got down to 47 on the mountain. Brrr…

The drive down the other side was just as beautiful. We were amazed at all the twists and turns of the road. The little towns we drove through are all quaint and very western-ish. There were also a couple of ski resorts. The roads are very steep and curvy. We had more than a few “hold on to your ass, Fred” moments. Only fans of the movie Smokey and the Bandit will understand that quote, and of course this family is a BIG fan!!

The reality of our situation sunk in when we got back. We emptied out the van that has been our saving grace for the past eleven days. We had to unpack and repack all our suitcases to make sure we had everything we need, but make sure it would fit into the new car. We’re not sure what size it’s going to be, so who knows if some of that repacking will have to happen again.

Tony and I enjoyed the hot tub and pool again for the evening. The girls decided to stay in. Deputy McCann thought she was going to have to serve as back up as there was some altercation across the street. Not entirely sure what was going on there, but the police were looking for someone in an apartment across the road. I shewed them inside to avoid being caught in any gunfire. I guess that’s just some of what I’m going to have to get used to with this career she’s pursuing. UGH!!

We’ve had an amazing vacation, but it’s all about to come to an end. Tomorrow will turn into a job of trying to get home. Cass isn’t allowed to drive, so it will just be me and Jen. I somehow lucked out in the last eleven days and haven’t had to drive much. I’m not looking forward to this drive whatsoever. But home will feel amazing. I’ll keep that in the back of my mind as we hopefully make quick work out of ticking the miles off this 1500+ journey.

Rewind - August 13, 2015

We survived the night at the Snow King in Jackson. We woke up to loud music extremely early. Someone must have complained, because that didn’t last long. Then there was some other buzzing noise that was also short lived (may actually have been Tony snoring now that I think about it). Finally all the folks waking up and moving about forced us to get up. None of us were too eager to get out of bed.

We checked out the town of Jackson for the morning. We had breakfast and then did some window shopping. Jackson has some really cool little shops with very unique (and quite expensive) items. We got to see dead stuffed animals of all the things we had hoped to see in Yellowstone.

The town itself is set up like an old western town. There was a stage coach that rode folks around the main square. The square itself has the four corners marked with an elk horn arch. They are huge! The local boy scouts gather and sell the horns to the town to raise money from the local elk refuge. It’s a very neat idea.

We headed back to Denver and had a fairly long drive ahead of us. None of us were really in the mood to get in the car for such a long journey. But as we drove out, we had the Teton Mountain range on the right side of us and the Rockies on the left. It was a beautiful drive. The wide open spaces of Wyoming are beautiful. We drove nearly the full height and width of it on our return.

The last leg of the trip was the same exact road we had left out on. It was funny how in the short amount of time that we had traveled through there, we already had made funny memories. We passed the McDonald’s that Cass had to eat at. We passed the gas station where we partially filled up because Tony nearly ran us out of gas. We passed the section of land where we argued about plateaus, mesas, and buttes. Good times and good memories.

The thing we kept saying was how impossible it felt that we had accomplished so much in the ten days since we had been on the road going in the other direction. We traveled over 4400 miles, saw 7 national parks, went through seven different states, and saw two major cities. We sea kayaked (but saw no whales), saw quite a lot of different wildlife, and did an Eskimo plunge into a glacier river.  We laughed, ate, drove, and took hundreds of pictures. Fortunately, we also didn’t kill each other.

We made it into Denver and Tony’s sweet Aunt Maxine insisted we stay at her house while she and Uncle Jack went back east for a short trip. We took advantage of their complex’s hot tub and swimming pool after dinner. It felt great to soak in the hot water. We all crashed for the night, knowing we’ll have a busy day tomorrow of more sight seeing.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Disappointment - August 12, 2015

After such a wonderful day yesterday, we were all geared up for animal nation in Yellowstone. As we first drove in the park, we saw a prong horn deer. We just knew it was going to be the day we all hoped for in seeing big game. Boy, were we wrong.

Due to time constraints, we only got to make a backwards S through the park. We went down the side that they said had the most bear activity. We even went down a 6 mile dirt road (don’t tell the rental company) that we just knew was going to produce some animal sightings. It didn’t.

So much of the park has had forest fire activity. It’s really difficult to see through the woods as the younger trees coming in are all about eye level from the car. We managed to see a couple of elk, a white tail deer, a couple of herds of buffalo from a long distance, a ground squirrel, and a robin (Tony wanted me to make sure to include that find!).

We managed to see Old Faithful blow her top without any problems. We probably only spent 4 hours in the park total. I couldn’t seem to get the crew motivated this morning. For one, I turned off the alarm at both 6 and 7 a.m. I just couldn’t drag myself up after such a long day in the car yesterday. It set the tone for the rest of the day.

We made our way through to The Grand Tetons and they were as gorgeous as ever. We got there right at sunset and took some beautiful pictures. Jen decided this was her favorite park. It’s somewhat of a strange park. You don’t actually get to drive over to the mountains. You just ride alongside of them and stare in amazement at their rugged beauty.

As we were headed out of the park, two bull elk were right off the road. There were lots of folks out of their cars taking pictures. There was an Asian woman that walked right up to it and nearly touched it. Of course she scared it away and ruined the pictures for everyone else. We were more than annoyed!

That was sort of the theme for the day. Everywhere we went, there were RUDE people. We didn’t even have to get out of the car to interact with these jerks. As we were doing the speed limit through the park trying to enjoy the beauty, cars were passing us left and right. It really is a shame that folks can’t stop and enjoy the beauty of nature. I think they were just hurrying to the next big attraction to take their selfies to post on FB. UGH!

We’ve somehow managed to get a day ahead in the schedule. We’re heading back to Denver tomorrow. It’s a seven hour drive that I’m sure we’ll manage to turn into at least twelve. Let’s just hope Tony doesn’t find a taxidermist this time with a 50% off going out of business sale. Our goal is to go back to Denver and maybe hit Rocky Mountain National Park Friday. That will make a total of 8 national parks this trip if we can manage it. We had only planned on 6 originally, so we’re ahead of the game!

We tried to not be disappointed in Yellowstone today since it was a bonus park. But not seeing the wildlife that we love sure made it hard not to be. With that and being around all the inconsiderate people, it may have slid down the favorite park list a bit. Maybe we’ll have to come back again to give it another shot. I don’t think that will be difficult. I’m always game for exploring national parks.

We’re staying in a rather shady motel in Jackson WY tonight. Again, not planning ahead, all the hotels were full. We feel lucky that we got what we did. We walked downtown after a very late dinner. It has a little bit of the Gatlinburg feel to it. Not really our kind of town, but it will be short lived. We’ll check it out tomorrow in the daylight and be on our way.

Our vacation is winding down, and so are we. We’ve had a wonderful time seeing all the sights, but we’re not as young as we once were. The girls have even reached the point of dreading getting in the car. They really aren’t looking forward to trading the cushy van in for the truck for that trip home. Speaking of, we got a call that it won’t be ready now until Friday evening. Keep your fingers crossed they can make that happen. Else, it’s going to tighten the schedule and cause some problems. We’ve been so lucky for the remainder of the trip after the bumpy start. We don’t want to go backwards!