Public Service Announcement

It’s a whirlwind kind of day here in vacation prep central so let’s do some Thursday Thoughts, shall we?

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1.  As someone who truly loves TV, it makes me so happy that the last several years has given rise to the “summer season.”  Remember in the olden days (<—insert granny wobbly voice here) when absolutely nothing came on, and those months between mid-May to end of September lasted forever?  Not so now!  We have wonderful things like Rookie Blue and Royal Pains to look forward to every week.  Yes, it’s possible I’m way too into TV.

2.  Speaking of TV, has anyone been watching the new show, The Astronaut Wive’s Club?  I’m a sucker for period shows, and I love Joanna Garcia Swisher so I was really excited about.  So far, it has not disappointed.  The show is actually based on a book by Lily Koppel, and I was able to get it from Tace last weekend.  I’m not too far into yet, but I’m looking forward to diving into during our trip.

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3.  Every year we try to take in at least one play of the Dallas Summer Musical season for Mom’s birthday, and last weekend Mom, Tace, John, Caite, and I took in the stage version of Dirty Dancing.  I was so looking forward to this play because you all know how much I love the movie and Mr. Patrick Swayze, may he rest in peace.  Unfortunately, we were all a little disappointed.  The music was great and the dancing was really impressive, but the acting left a lot to be desired.

4.  I’m not even sure I’ve mentioned it, but this trip is not exclusively backpacking.  Dad and I managed to roll our July half-marathon into vacation so we’ll actually be running in Colorado Springs on July 4th.  It should be a really cool way to kick off the trip!

5.  As relaxing as backpacking is, the prep for it is not.  I’ve been dehydrating food for two weeks, and my house has stuff everywhere!  I can’t wait to get into the car Friday morning, and get to the easy part of vacation!

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6.  Originally, we were going to take Gus with us on this trip, but ultimately decided that this probably isn’t the best trip to start him out on.  I’m really bummed despite knowing it’s the best decisions.  Two whole weeks without both of my boys!

 

maxguscollage7.  Speaking of my pups, I have a public service announcement.  I’ve discussed before how sensitive Max is to loud noises, and that fireworks are just awful for him (and so, of course, us!).  Unfortunately, this is a common problem with dogs.  So many little pups go missing this time of year because they driven out of their safe, comfortable yards by the fear that they are under some kind of sneak attack.  Please be sure to keep an extra eye on your babies this time of year, and put them up in a safe place if you’re heading away from the house.

8. Have you guys read this blog post by Colleen?  If you haven’t, you should.  If you don’t follow her, you should.  I absolutely loved this post, and it’s just further illustrates to me that she is the writer I want to be!

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9.  Ok, I was on a roll, and now I’m suffering writer’s block so I’ll end here.  I have a one or two posts ready to go up while I’m away, but be sure to follow me on Instagram to see all the beautiful sights over the next couple weeks.  I think I post more on Instagram during our two-week vacations in the summer than I do the whole rest of the year combined.  Have a very safe and Happy 4th!!

Guns In The Backcountry: One Backpacker’s Point Of View

Hello, folks!  I hope everyone’s week is off to a really great start.  This is one of the best weeks of the entire year for me because we leave for vacation in just a few days.  Before I know it, I’ll be miles from civilization with everything I need strapped to my back.  It is always my idea of perfection, and I really can’t wait to get there.

Because I’ve got backpacking on the brain, today I want to discuss a topic that has been on my brain for sometime.  John and I live in an area of the country in which backpacking is not one of the most popular activity around.  In fact, whenever we start talking about around people unfamiliar with us, we get one of two reactions.  They either look at us with  unmistakable awe or like we have two heads (more often than not, it’s the look that has me running to the mirror to make sure that I haven’t, in fact, grown two heads).

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And, almost without exception, the next thing out of their mouths is “Don’t you worry about bears?”.  John and I have gotten this question so many times that now I can feel both of our heads exploding from the effort of not rolling our eyes.  We honestly try to answer their questions patiently because we understand that backpacking is a completely foreign concept to most.

However, there is one aspect of all those conversations, that has worn thin over the years.  On the heels of the bear question, comes the question on whether or not we take a gun with us.  Now, you think I get weird looks when I start talking about backpacking?  When I say no guns, I sprout one more head bringing me to a total of three.

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So, let’s talk about the gun issue.  It’s a divisive issue not only in the greater American public (don’t worry-we are NOT debating that today!), but also in the hiking community.  For every backpacker you meet, you might get a slightly different opinion on carrying a gun in the backcountry.  It’s definitely a personal decision for each person, and I’m not here to judge that.  I simply want to add my two cents, and explain why we have never and will (probably) never carry one in the wild.

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First off, one of the most important things to a backpacker is weight.  When you’re strapping on a pack to walk for miles upon miles, it becomes essential that said pack is not the size of a small car.  Backpackers speak in terms of ounces, and every single one of them count.  Guns are heavy!  For many backpackers, that particular weight is necessary.  Not so for the Fords.

Bear spray is the preferred method of protection, and not just because of the weight.  Bear spray creates a wide area of protection against the bear.  The cloud that results from the spray provides a lot more bang for your buck (<—-like that ;) ).  Many experts on the subject consider bear spray to be far more effective during wildlife attacks than firearms.  For us, personally, I know that both John and I would be far too scared and under pressure to fire off a precise shot from a gun during an attack.  The bear spray does not have to hit an exact mark.

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Inevitably, in a discussion like this, the fear of dangerous encounters with other humans comes up.  This is where personal preference plays the biggest role in our decision not to carry a gun.  It, of course, depends on the area that you are hiking in, but, in general, the odds of running into nefarious characters in the backcountry are very, very low, and I have never felt it necessary to have a weapon for protection.  For many people, the only way they could relax and enjoy themselves is to know they have that type of protection.  A very close friend of mine would never venture onto the trail without a gun, and  I definitely respect that point of view.  It’s just not mine.

In fact, full disclosure, I am very skittish and uncomfortable with guns.  I do not like being around them, and I am instantly on edge if I know that someone in my vicinity has one.  I would never be comfortable in the backcountry if someone in my group was carrying, and those attitudes definitely affect the way I view guns in the wild in general.  It’s worth noting, however, that John is entirely comfortable using and being near firearms, and he still prefers not to have one the trail.

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Obviously, these are my views, and informed by my particular life perspective.  Carrying a gun in the wild is a personal choice for each hiker, and I ultimately respect whichever way people choose to go.  It is essential, however, that you consider all the angles and education yourself before making your decision.  That’s the only way that everyone stays safe, and ensures that we all enjoy the wilderness we love!

What do you think?

Backpacking Food: What Works

Hello, friends!  I hope all of you are staying cool.  The rain we’ve experienced for the last two months has left us behind, and some serious heat has taken its place.  I’m planning on spending the afternoon at the pool!

It’s that special time of year in which my crew gets to take off to the mountains for two glorious weeks of backpacking and no civilization.  This year Colorado and Wyoming is on the agenda so this time next month you can look forward to hiking recaps and seriously beautiful photos.

For now, we’re in prep mode so today I wanted to give you guys an overview of the food we’ll be taking on this trip.  I’ve backpacking food posts in the past that you can reference for even more ideas on what to take with you into the backcountry.  Like just about everything, John and I have honed our system over years of hiking.  Some things work and some things don’t with everything from gear to wilderness area, and that is most certainly true when it comes to food.

First things first, about two years ago we jumped into dehydrating our own meals for camp, and that decision is one we’ve never regretted.  A home-dehydrated meal tastes truly special after a hard day on the trail, and I always do at least two when we’re out on a long trip.  However, the process takes a lot of time, and, last week, John bought a new little toy to make it a little easier.

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This is our new 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator, and it is wonderful!  On Sunday, we experimented with some fruit, and in 8 hours we managed to do 5 bananas, 5 apples, an entire pineapple, and a quart of strawberries in about 9 hours.  By comparison, that would’ve taken three days with my old machine!  Having fruit on the trail is a real treat, and this trip we’ll have a ton!  Right now, the dehydrator is working on the ingredients for our two big meals so stay tuned to Instagram to see the results.

So what are we eating the other eight nights we’ll be on the trail?  Well, we’re trying something a little different this time.  In the past, we’ve stuck pretty heavily to things like Mountain House meals.  There will still be a fair amount of those on the trip, but we’re also going to try something that thru-hikers have known for years.  You know those aisles in the middle of the grocery store that all the health gurus tell you to stay away from?  Those aisles actually contain some inexpensive and tasty treats for backpackers.

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Any of those boxed meals that only need water are perfect to take on the trail, and I, for one, am really looking forward to having mac and cheese in the backcountry.  This trip we’re trying mac and cheese, boxed jambalaya, and Hamburger Helper.  Dehydrate a little ground beef, then simply repackage the ingredients into Ziploc bags and write the instructions on the outside in sharpie.  Boom!  Done!

Day time food will be the typical granola bars, peanut butter packets, nuts, our dried fruit, and beef jerky.  No need to reinvent the wheel on this one!  I am, however, really excited about breakfast.  I try to be pretty health conscious in my daily life so, sadly, Pop-Tarts haven’t been a staple part of my diet since college.  All that changes on the trail!  Pop-Tarts are so easy and convenient for a trail breakfast.  There’s no need to break out the stove while you’re trying to pack up camp.  Instead, open that beautiful silver package and enjoy!

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We will have a one or two days that we’re just hanging in camp so I’m packing in FlapJacked so I can enjoy pancakes on the trail.  All you have to do is bring along a little olive oil, scoop your desired amount of FlapJacked in a baggie, and top with peanut butter.  Who said eating on the trail is boring?

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So, as you can see, we’re trying some new things this year, but we will not be lacking in delicious food.  I plan on seriously making up on the calories I’m burning!

What’s your favorite junk food?  What food is a special treat for you?

No Feudin’, Just Runnin’: A Race Recap

After 10 states, thousands of miles, and one half-marathon, I’m back on my couch, and I have no plans to move for at least the next day and a half.  Dad and I wrapped up our six half marathon in our 12 in 12 in 12 quest this past weekend, and (spoiler alert) it was the best one yet.

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Dad got to my house around noon on Thursday, and we headed east.  We spent most of the day in the car with a quick pit stop in Memphis for the best BBQ on the planet, and pitched the tent in Natchez State Park about eighty miles from Nashville.

For whatever reason, I didn’t sleep so great which means I was wide awake for us to get on the road around seven the next morning.  We had about seven hours to our final destination of Belfry, Kentucky, and arrived there for packet pickup about 4:30.

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Belfry, Kentucky is in the heart of the Hatfield and McCoy country, and the entire race was played on that theme.  It was actually the reason why I picked it-you guys know I’m a sucker for history!  Belfry, Kentucky and Williamson, West Virginia are basically the same town, and the race organizers utilized both towns to provide resources to the runners.  One such resource was opening up the two fire departments for runners to crash in since there aren’t many hotels in the area.

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Dad and I thought this would be a neat part of the trip, and we were assigned the Williamson Fire Station along with about seventy other runners.  It worked out well except for someone deciding 4:45 was a great time to turn on the lights on race morning!

We caught a shuttle to the starting line, did a little stretching, and joked that we might have a good shot to place in this race.  We were floored at how few half-marathon bibs we saw.  This race series offered a double half-marathon as well as a full, and most everyone we saw was running one of those.

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The race started promptly at seven, and we took off.  We cruised through the first five or six miles.  I’ve really started to noticed a difference in the effort in takes me run those distances.  Those first miles have started to fly by, and I’m feeling stronger every race.

We knew there was a beast of a hill to look forward to at mile six.  The full name of this half was the Hatfield and McCoy Blackberry Mountain Half Marathon, and Blackberry Mountain awaited us halfway through the course.  It was just about a mile long,  and very, very steep.  Dad and I just concentrated on getting up it however we could.  We knew we’d be greeted by a long downhill on the backside.

We flew down the hill.  I didn’t check, but mile 7 to 8 must have been a 7:30 minute pace!  The rest of the race was fairly flat, and went pretty smoothly.  Right around the time we got to mile 9, the sun rose over the mountains in full force and it got super humid.  I’m just grateful that we made it to mile 9 before it happened.

This was a point to point course, and around mile 12.5 we crossed the bridge into West Virginia.  We’re counting the race as a Kentucky course since most of it was done there, but running in two different states was a special way to mark the halfway point!

We crossed the finish line at 2:11:17.  Certainly not my fastest time, but considering the beast of the hill and the three times we stopped to read some of the historical markers, I’m happy with it.  It was even good enough to get both of us 2nd place in our age groups!

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I really loved this race.  It was fairly small (only about 900 runners), but so well organized and the course was beautiful.  The people were friendly, and I loved the historical element to it.  The course actually goes by several of the famous spots in the Hatfield and McCoy feud which made my little nerd heart happy.

Dad and I headed out of Kentucky after the race headed south.  We decided since we were on the right coast and we had the time, we would check out a few states we’d never been to before.  My family is obsessed with visiting all 50 states, and my total is now up to 26!

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Our little adventure took us all the way to Charleston, South Carolina.  We grabbed dinner there Saturday, spent the night, and did just a little walking around on Sunday morning.  It was a really neat city, and I want to go back to do a proper vacation.  Although it will have to be January-it was so hot!

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From there, we headed back west, arriving mid-day Monday.  It was a fast, long trip, and I’m exhausted but it was really a lot of fun!  And, now, #6 is in the books!  Next up-Colorado followed by our backpacking trip!  I kind of like summer!

How many states have you visited?  

Headed East!

Hey, folks!  I’m popping in today so I can do a little Thinking Out Loud with all of you.  Let’s jump right into it!

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1.  So I need to offer greetings from somewhere in the east!  As you read this, Dad and I are headed to Kentucky for the Hatfield and McCoy Half Marathon which (if you’re counting) makes number six in our 12 in 12 in 12 quest.  Come Saturday we will have hit the halfway mark! I’m really looking forward to this particular race, and I’ll be sure to pop in Tuesday with a full recap.

2.  Did anyone else binge read anything you could find on the Gilmore Girls reunion panel at the ATX festival in Austin last weekend?  I was desperately hoping for an announcement about a reunion movie/Netflix series/5 second Youtube video, but, alas, no luck.  They did leave the door open, however, so hope springs eternal!

3.  I finally got a chance to try the new FlapJacked Carrot Spice flavor, and, guys, believe the hype.  It is so good, and I really think it might have jumped to my new favorite flavor!

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4.Here’s a picture of the kitchen with backsplash completely done!

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I think it looks fantastic.  The kitchen looks so different than it did just weeks ago, and I’m really enjoying it.  The next major project is to get the new flooring installed, and I am really looking forward to it.

5.  Mom and Joel came up to do a training hike up Cavanal again at the beginning of the week, and I snapped this picture of Gus at the top.

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I kind of love him!

6.  Because I love my boys equally, and because it’s such a cute picture, here’s one of Max.

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That face!

7.  I’m a big fan of John Green (the author of The Fault In Our Stars) and another book of his is being made into a movie.  I haven’t read Paper Towns yet so I picked it up this week, and I’m hoping to power through it while we’re on the road.  Anybody else read it?

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8.  I had the pleasure of walking Jedd and Whitney’s pup on Tuesday, and I snapped this picture while I was out.

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Oklahoma really does have its own particular kind of beauty.

9.  Alright, it’s time to fly!  Catch ya next week!

The Song Remembers When

Hey, friends!  We’re currently back in my old stomping grounds celebrating my brother’s high school graduation and hanging with family.  He’s a great kid, and I was really proud to see him walk across the stage last night.  He’s got some really wonderful plans for next year, and, let’s just say, I’m going to have get some Aggie gear for my wardrobe :)

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I thought I’d pop in today to do another installment of the 10 Day You Challenge.  We’re down to picking two songs which is one category that I’ve really been looking forward to despite how hard I knew it was going to be!

I’ve always been a serious music lover, and my taste are pretty varied.  If it sounds good, I’ll listen (some things are off the table-most rap, techno, new country)!  However, my heart belongs to ’70s singer/songwriter genre of music, and my deep and abiding love of James Taylor is well-documented.

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So it comes as no surprise that my two songs hail from that time period.  It is almost impossible for me to say definitively that these are my two favorite songs, but they are definitely up there and I’ll stop and listen to them any time anywhere.

1.  You’ve Got A Friend performed by James Taylor

This song was written by Carole King, another favorite of mine, and, for a real treat, you need to listen to the two of them perform this song together.  It is such a beautiful song, and I relate to it in a myriad of different ways.  There are many people in my life that I can apply this sentiment to.  It took on extra special meaning a few weeks ago when a quartet of senior music students surprised me by dedicating this song to me at the spring concert.  I will never again be able to listen to this song without tearing up.

2.  Rocky Mountain High by John Denver

I LOVE John Denver, and it should be no surprise why this song speaks to me.  The mountains are very special to me, and I understand the language he’s speaking in this song.  There’s a line that says, “Coming home to a place he’s never been before.”  For me, I suppose you’d have to change it to “…a place she’s never lived before.”, but you get the idea.  That’s exactly how I feel every time I go to the mountains.  My John and I have also been guilty of blasting this song as we stand at the top of a particularly stunning mountain pass.  Corny, but necessary.

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I’m sure you guys are familiar with both of these songs, but, even so, go give them a listen.  They’re worth it.  Have a great weekend!

What song/songs speak to you?

A Complete 180

Good mid-week to you!  Oh, and Happy June!  I’m actually not horrified by the turning of the calendar once again because, honest to goodness, I’ve had to remind myself that it hasn’t been June for the last two weeks.  We got out of school about a week earlier than normal this year, and it completely through off my sense of time.  Not complaining!

It’s time, once again, for me to give you guys an update on the status of the house remodel.  What, you thought this was just an outdoor/running blog?  No, sir, we are equal opportunity around here!

Many of you may remember that John and I finally took the plunge and bought some property here in town to build our own little (tiny) house ‘o dreams (anyone know that reference? We’ll be friends forever.)  Construction will be starting in the next few months so we’ve been concentrating heavily on getting our current place ready to sell, and, folks, things are happening!  We’ve really made some serious progress in the last few weeks, and I’m really excited.

Everyone knows that kitchens and bathrooms are serious draws in any home buying adventure, and, when we bought our house, both of those were in serious need of some TLC.  We took care of the master bathroom in the first year of living here, and have just a few finishing touches to put on the guest bathroom.

The kitchen was always a project we were looking forward too, but we knew it would be a huge job so it was put off.  Unfortunately, to sell the house, it could be put off no longer!

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Months ago we trashed the old kitchen cabinet doors and gave the cabinets a fresh coat of white paint.

Before the cabinets were gray.

The holidays hit, and our busy schedule meant the kitchen sat like this for longer than I care to think about.  A few months ago, we decided the cabinets would look great with a white/gray combo.

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That led to repainting the walls which Mom was nice enough to come help out with.

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Last week the new granite countertops were installed, and we were so excited by them that we were motivated to get the new cabinet doors painted and installed over the weekend.

Yesterday, the backsplash was begun, and, as you read this, the grout is being done.  I was going to try to hold off to post until this evening so you could see it, but I was too ready to share!

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We still have a few touch-ups to do and the next big project will be putting new floor in (just about everywhere in the house!), but it has really done a 180.  I was telling Mom just yesterday that I wish we had taken better pictures of the house when we first moved in-you guys wouldn’t believe the difference!

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John posted a picture of the kitchen on Instagram yesterday, and one of our friends commented that we might just decided to “Love it” instead of “List it”.  I’ve actually made that comment myself a few times in the last couple days, and I’m only halfway kidding!

Wilderness Crush Wednesday

Hello, friends!  I hope you guys are enjoying your short week.  I know the school teachers in my family that are actually still plugging away are really glad that they’ve only got four days this week!

We had a really good weekend over here!  Mom and Joel came up Friday night for a quick visit with a very specific purpose.

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We had to climb Cavanal Saturday morning.  Mom and Joel are doing a backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon in August so they want to get as much training in as possible.  I need to make the hike quite a few times too in the next few months because we’re planning on taking Gus on our trip in July, and Little Man needs to get his hiking legs underneath.  So Mom, Joel, Gus, and I took off up the mountain early Saturday morning for a nice little stroll.  John had to bow out, unfortunately, because his knee has been bothering him a bit.  No worries-we picked him up afterwards for pancakes!

The rest of the afternoon consisted of Pitch Perfect 2 and pizza.  We also headed out to the spillway at the dam to check out the massive amounts of water that’s going over.  You may have heard on the news that a good part of the country is underwater at the moment, and our little corner of the world is definitely a part of that.

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The rain we’ve received is historic, and the flooding has been extensive.  Thankfully, our house is situated in an area that hasn’t been affected but the same cannot be said for others.  The good news is we’ve had sunshine for two days, and we’re hopeful that the worst is over.

So, let’s pivot to a new subject.  Is it just me or do ideas for blog posts just pop up randomly sometimes?  This morning I saw someone post on Instagram under the hashtag #WCW-no, my friends, not Woman Crush Wednesday.  We’re talking Wilderness Crush Wednesday! Instantly, an idea was born!

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So today I thought I’d highlight a piece of wilderness that I have a true crush on.  Who knows-perhaps this could become a regular feature!

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If you’ve been reading the blog for any period of time, you know that I’m a true blue lover of Colorado who had the unfortunate luck to be born somewhere else.  Colorado has so many great wilderness areas, and there’s one in particular that I can never get enough of.

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The Weminuche Wilderness is in southern Colorado nestled in the middle of the San Juan Mountains (the best mountains in the world, in case you were wondering).

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The ‘Nuche is the largest wilderness area in the Colorado at just shy of half a million acres of preserved land.

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There’s several ’14ers in the area for you peakbaggers out there, and the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad runs through it.

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We’ve hiked in the area numerous times, and it really is a little slice of heaven.  The pictures speak for themselves, but the area is unequivocally the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.  It is, without a doubt, my biggest wilderness crush!

If I Only Had Talent……

Hello, friends!  I hope everyone is gearing up for a great holiday weekend.  We don’t have big plans around here.  We’ve been experiencing a very, very wet spring, and there’s more rain in the forecast for the next four days.  Which is just as well-John and I have neglected home renovations for the last month so it’s time to get back after it!

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So I thought I’d continue (finally) the 10 Day You Challenge for a fun Friday post today.  When last we left off, I told you about the four books that have made such a big impact on my life.  Today I’m talking about three films that are near and dear to my heart.

Believe it or not, this is almost as hard to narrower down as the books were.  John and I are big TV/movie people, and I absolutely love going to the movies.  There’s a ton of them that I like for various reasons, but I’ve managed to pick three that are particularly special.

1.  When Harry Met Sally

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This one was easy!  I saw this movie for the first time in high school, and I instantly loved it.  I went through a period in college where I watched bits of it every single day.  You know-like an “it’s on in the background” kind of thing.  Needless to say, I can quote the entire movie word for word.  It became even more special when John and I got together because the story of friends falling in love is OUR story.  He even used the closing monologue as part of his proposal!  So this movie has been my number one favorite for fifteen years, and it’s probably not changing!

2.  Dirty Dancing

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I don’t remember when I first watched this, but it has been a favorite for a long time.  Here’s a little secret:  I think I am a born performer without a speck of talent!  Seriously, I desperately want to be able to sing and dance, and I love movies that highlight those talents.  Plus, Patrick Swayze.  Enough said!

3.  Pitch Perfect

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Okay, I know this is a really new movie (especially for me-I only first saw it four months ago!), but, if we base this on movies that I can watch over and over again, this one tops the list.  I’ve seen it countless times in the four months, and, full disclosure, it’s on as I type this.  It appeals to that singer/dancer in me, and I just love it.

So there you go!  I hope you guys have a fabulous holiday weekend, and I’ll catch you next week!

What’s your favorite movie?

The Joys of Humidity: A Race Recap

Well, I did it!  I survived what was probably the busiest teaching year I’ve had yet.  Being a senior sponsor is no joke!

I, along with my co-sponsor and principal, took our senior class on their two-day senior trip Thursday and Friday, and I’m happy to say that everything went well!  As far as I know, nothing untoward happened, everyone had a good time, and we didn’t lose anybody.  Definitely a win in my book!

Sunday was graduation, and it was a little bittersweet for me.  Graduation represented my gateway to summer, but I was sad to see this group go.  They really are a great bunch of kids, and I’ve enjoyed them so much.  It was hard to see them go!

All the roses they gave me at graduation.  I love these kids!

All the roses they gave me at graduation. I love these kids!

Now there was a day in between our senior class adventures and our annual day of freedom, and I ran a little half-marathon!

Dad and I went to Joplin to run the 5th half-marathon in our 12 in 12 in 12 series, and, I gotta say, Friday night I was seriously questioning my sanity in scheduling a race right after a two-day class trip.  Spoiler Alert:  It worked out ok!

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The Joplin Memorial Half is put on every year in memory of the victims who died in the horrific Joplin tornado four years ago.  The funds from the race go toward a different rebuilding project every year, and this year the money is going to build a playground for the autism center in town that was completely destroyed.  Although Joplin has done a lot in the four years since the devastating twister, you can still see evidence of storm damage, and it was really wonderful to be running a race for a cause.

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We had a 6:30 start time, and Dad and I arrived downtown around 6.  As we took care of pre-race stuff, the day was already starting to get muggy, and it was a possibility that we may be swimming thirteen miles instead of running them.

I knew from studying the elevation chart that this race was all hills, and I wasn’t looking forward to that.  Hills are some people’s jam, but that’s never going to be me!  The elevation chart wasn’t lying.  The entire course was up and down, but it actually wasn’t too bad because the downhills were very forgiving.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my Garmin for this race, and that led to a pretty funny incident at the beginning of the race.  For the first four miles, we had a pacer just a little bit in front of us.  We were hanging with him, but he was little too far ahead for me to actually read what his sign said.  For some reason, I got it into my head that he was the 2:10 pacer.  So I’m running all out, starting to hurt, and thinking “I feel like crap and can’t even keep up with the 2:10 guy.  What is happening!??!”.  Finally, we pull a little bit closer, and it’s not the 2:10 guy-it’s the 1:55!  No wonder I felt awful!

We readjusted the pace, and spent most of the next several miles cruising up and down the hills.  By mile 9 the humidity was starting to get to me so I had to employ a little more of the walk/run method than I would’ve liked.

I knew I wasn’t going to be able to beat my 2:05:56 from last race, but we were on track to be just a minute or so off of that.  Until mile 11.5 that is.  All of the sudden, I just felt this intense pain on my right pinky toe.  I didn’t know what was happening, and it hurt so badly that I stopped and ripped off my shoe and sock to see what was happening.  My entire toe was blister!  Of course, there was nothing that could be done about it on the race course so I quickly put my shoe back on and did my best to run.  It was more of this weird run/walk/hobble combination but it was something!

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Dad and I crossed the finish line at 2:09:29 which is now my second best time, and, yes, I was as tired as I look in this picture.  All factors considered, I’m pretty happy with that time!  Now that summer time is here and I have a ton of extra time, I’m planning on adding a bit more speedwork to the schedule.

The next two races are going to be tough for various reasons, but I’m really excited about them.  We’re heading to Kentucky in just a few weeks, and then Colorado in July!  The Colorado race, of course, is going to be followed by our backpacking trip, and I can’t wait to get into the mountains.  Summer is looking good!

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