summer so far

July 2019

It’s definitely been a summer of getting things done.  Here’s the list I made at the start of summer with updates:

  • Make a blanket for the new nephew – working
  • Finish the scrapbook of the 2018 Grand Canyon hike with Dad – working 
  • Write and send a letter and photo to Marselino, the child I sponsor through Save the Children – working
  • More blog posts with more photos – working 
  • Make a camping quilt to use the really cute camping fabric I’ve had for years – working
  • Finish (?) the rag quilt I started years ago – nothing, may turn out to be a winter project
  • Clean out the refrigerator really good – I’ve still got time
  • Scan old photos from before the digital age – almost done
  • Make postcards with my own photos (for swap-bot) – questioning if I really want to do this; wise use of money?
  • Take (and pass) the Microsoft Office Specialist – PowerPoint exam – DONE!
  • Create a website and order business cards for my new side business – business cards designed, ordered and picked up.  Still thinking on the website.
  • Walk 5 miles – trying to do this at least once a month this year.  Didn’t get done in June, but since today was cooler and cloudy, I got July’s done today.
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monday is quote day

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“We must not, in tryingto think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”

~ Marian Wright Edelman

Bonham State Park

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This was our campsite at Bonham State Park.  It’s a small but lovely park – only 21 campsites.  This ended up being one of my favorite camping trips with just Rosie and me.  The weather was PERFECT.  The nights were a little chilly and the daytime had a wonderful breeze.  We didn’t have the best campsite, but we got the last available one for this particular weekend so I’m not complaining – was happy we got one.  Sites 11 and 12, which accommodates RVs and tents, are definitely premium sites right on the water’s edge.

We didn’t get much hiking in for a couple of reasons.  With the recent rains, almost all of the trails were extremely muddy and some were literally under water.  Plus, Rosie has been limping lately on one of her front legs.  Not sure if it’s a minor injury or arthritis setting in, but we’ve been taking it easy on the hiking to give her leg some rest.  We did walk the park road, which circles the small lake, quite a bit, and we were both fine with that for this weekend.

I also made a few sun prints for the first time.  Sun prints are made by laying different things on a chemically treated paper that reacts to the sunshine.  I’ll write more about this in the next week or two and include some scans.  Making sun prints is a lot of fun, easy and fairly inexpensive – about $10 for 12 sheets and a small acrylic overlay.  It makes a great craft project when camping with kids, but adults like it too.

where’s my mojo?

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I’ve become very inconsistent with my workouts, and I can’t figure out how to motivate myself to get better about this.  I worked out Monday and Tuesday … and then absolutely nothing since.  I thought about signing up for a 10k (6 miles) race in November, but at this rate, I’m afraid I’d just be wasting my money.  If I can get in some movement (anything!) today and tomorrow, I will have at least worked out 4 times this week.

summer plans

IMG_5132The Texas heat is really hard for me to deal with in the summer.  Frankly, if it weren’t for almost all of my family (especially my grandson) living in Texas, I’d love to move to the Pacific Northwest – at least for a little while and see how I like it.  It doesn’t help that I also have a 115# dog that is very heat sensitive.  So when the summer rolls around, me and the dog hibernate.  Is there such a thing as summer hibernation?  I bet there is, and if there’s not, Rosie and I are inventing it.  I’m also on a mission to be debt-free at some point in the near future so not only are we hiding out this summer, we’re on a very strict budget and not spending any money that we don’t absolutely need to.  It’s been five whole days (!) and we’ve done really well so far.

The advantage of this summer plan is that I can (hopefully) get a lot of things done around the home that don’t get done when we’re blowing and going during the cooler months.  So without further ado, here are the goals for Summer 2019:

  • Make a blanket for the new nephew
  • Finish the scrapbook of the 2018 Grand Canyon hike with Dad
  • Write and send a letter and photo to Marselino, the child I sponsor through Save the Children
  • More blog posts with more photos
  • Make a camping quilt to use the really cute camping fabric I’ve had for years
  • Finish (?) the rag quilt I started years ago
  • Clean out the refrigerator really good
  • Scan old photos from before the digital age
  • Make postcards with my own photos (for swap-bot)
  • Take (and pass) the Microsoft Office Specialist – PowerPoint exam
  • Create a website and order business cards for my new side business (maybe, still thinking on this)

I’ll check in around the beginning of September and write about the progress I made … or didn’t.

Thanks for stopping by!

 

 

 

training on and on

So the training continues. I’m getting lots of miles in.  I think I’ve said before that training for a major event is like having a part-time job.  Once I get off work, I go home and immediately work out – either walk or strength training.  After that, I have about an hour to eat, shower, and get ready for work the next day.  I use my Saturday or Sunday morning for my long-mile walk.  Last weekend I walked 10 miles on Sunday, which took me just a bit over three hours.  I’m slow but I get it done.  I’m enjoying all the exercise, and it feels great when I’m done each time, but I’m also looking forward to the first 2-3 months of 2018 when I can cut back on my mileage and have a little more free time.  For example, my long-term plan is to do one long walk (six miles) a week on the weekend, and the longest I’ll walk during the week is 3-4 miles about three days a week.  Hopefully that will give me time to sneak in a little more crafting, but also keep me in shape for hikes.

But for now I train seriously. Rosie and I are going camping with other family for Thanksgiving.  So instead of going shopping on Black Friday (which I never do), I’ll be trying to get in a 9-mile hike if Rosie can make it that far.  She is typically only good for about 5 miles, but I’m hoping with the cooler weather, she can last a little longer with me.

I’ve never posted a picture of my campsite so here’s what it looks like when I’ve got everything out and set up.  This is from our last trip which was to Palo Duro in early October.  It’s funny – it kinda looks like a mess to me now, but it didn’t seem that way at the time.

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And if you were to sit in one of those chairs and kick back, this is the view you would have …

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And that is what I love most about camping – being out in nature with a view like this.  Can’t wait to get back out there later this week.  Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

part 2 – the camping trip that almost wasn’t

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On the fourth and last day of our camping trip, the morning started off with very gusty winds – like “wake you up at 5:30 in the morning” winds whipping through the campsite. Just another one of the little challenges that were sprinkled throughout this trip.  I rushed out in my pajamas, in the very cold and gusty wind, to disassemble the awning that had blown over.  (I discovered that one of the legs had broken, but I wasn’t able to take a good look to see if it could be fixed.  I’ll investigate on the next camp-out.)  I hurriedly packed up anything about to be blown away and headed back into the camper to hopefully get a little more sleep.  I can’t really remember if I actually did get more sleep or not, but I got up at some point and started breaking down camp.  Since I already had a head start, it didn’t really take that long to get it all packed up and put in the camper.  Plus, I had the motivation of white powdered donuts and chocolate milk as my reward to be enjoyed as soon as we were headed out.  We hit the road about 9 am, and the donuts were delicious.

It was roughly three hours later that Big Trouble came along. No warning lights came on initially, but I knew right away that this was serious stuff.  As we were headed up a slight incline, the car’s engine started running VERY rough.  Then “check engine” lit up.  I had just seen a sign that said six miles to the next town, Vernon, which is a small town but not tiny.  I eased off the accelerator a little and prayed that we made it to the exit.  We did make it to Vernon, but barely.  As we got to the exit ramp, the car completely died.  Then the oil indicator light came on, and I knew that it was even more serious.  Luckily, I was able to coast to the shoulder of the service road.

I called the roadside assistance company from whom I had purchased coverage. We’ll call the company “Bad Sam.”  I told them I was dead on the side of the road.  The lady was very nice and started arranging a tow service to a local auto repair shop.  I asked her about towing the camper, and she started asking me all kinds of questions.  I explained it was a very small camper, seven feet by 10 feet, built on a utility trailer.  That’s when she came back to tell me that my camper would not be covered because it did not have plumbing.  Huh?  It has electricity – lights, outlets, and air conditioning.  I pay $80 every year to register it with the State of Texas.  The company did not mention anything about the camper needing plumbing to qualify when I originally signed up and they took my money.  Needless to say, I was extremely upset.  Luckily, the tow truck driver had the capability of putting my car on the flatbed trailer and hitching the camper to the back of his trailer.  Whew.

As I waited for the tow truck, I thought about crying. I felt I had every right to cry and no one would blame me.  But I quickly realized I was most likely going to be making some major decisions over the next few hours and I needed to keep my head clear.  So I didn’t cry.  Instead I called my brother.  And we talked about what could possibly be wrong with the car, how Rosie was handling everything, and how the camping trip went.  It made me feel so much better.

The tow truck came along and it didn’t take the driver long to put the car on the trailer and hook up the camper. Rosie and I climbed up in the tow truck and we all headed to the auto repair shop.  (Rosie wasn’t really supposed to ride in the tow truck, but the driver made an exception for her.  Otherwise, I told him that we’d just walk and be at the repair shop in about an hour.)  It took the repair shop about 10 minutes to run diagnostics and tell me my car was totally out of oil and the engine would need to be replaced.  This would be a very expensive repair.  As the car had over 130,000 miles on it, I had already decided that if it ever needed such a major repair, it would be time to seriously think about a new car.  And replacing the engine definitely qualified as a major repair.

So I quickly made the decision that my next course of action needed to be getting home. Out of the two years I’ve been at my current job, that particular week was not the time to be missing work.  We had a major system conversion in the works for a company we had just acquired.  My number one priority at that point was to be at work on Tuesday morning.  But we were four hours out of Dallas in a small town that had no Uber or taxi service.  Wichita Falls is about 45 minutes away and is a much larger city with rental car companies.  How was I going to get there though?  I asked the mechanic if he knew of anyone that would drive me (and that 110 pound dog) to Wichita Falls, and he offered up his wife.  !!  So we piled Rosie, my suitcase and a few other camping things I didn’t want to leave behind into her car and headed to Wichita Falls.  We got to Enterprise Rental, and they fixed me up with a nice Kia Sportage.  Rosie and I were on our way home again.  We got home about 7 pm and I took one of the best showers of my life.

How it all ended: I enjoyed my rental car so much that I bought the very similar Kia Sorento with a V6 engine which was my #1 priority.  So far I’m loving it.  It’s quite a bit bigger than my previous car and is taking a little getting used to, but Rosie and I love the extra space.  I had to have a hitch installed which I did the next weekend so I could get my camper back home.  I signed the broken down car over to the repair shop.  They had gotten me to Wichita Falls to pick up a rental car that let me get home quickly and without missing any work at all.  They had stored my camper until I could come back the next weekend to pick it up.  On top of all the stress of the week, I didn’t want or need the burden of trying to decide what to do with a car that wouldn’t run.  My brother was available many times throughout the days of this adventure to offer advice and also did research on the types of cars I was looking at to buy.  I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done without his support … but mostly his humor.  It feels good to laugh when it feels like everything is going wrong.

the camping trip that almost wasn’t

A9R87quki_13leff6_2ccIt’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve last written, and I have a very good reason.  The dog and I went on a 4-day camping trip the weekend of October 6.  We re-visited Palo Duro Canyon State Park which is near Amarillo, Texas (very West Texas).  We had camped at Palo Duro at the end of last May but the heat index was in the triple digits, so we didn’t get to hike the Lighthouse Trail.  I wanted to hike that trail so much that I decided to return when the temps were much cooler.

Solo camping is hard.  You are responsible for everything – planning, packing, setting up.  I typically set aside the week before a camping trip to prepare and do things such as planning meals, buying groceries, packing for Rosie (food and treats), packing up the backpacks … yada, yada, yada.  Fortunately, my little camper keeps 90% of the camping gear ready to go any time.

We headed out early Friday morning for the 7-hour drive to Palo Duro.  It was a looooooong drive.  I really like to drive only four to five hours at the most in one day.  In fact, on our previous trip to Palo Duro, we stopped about 3.5 hours from home to spend the night at a hotel and split up the drive.   So much easier on me.  But since I had Friday off from work, I decided to drive the whole way.  I will not do that again.  From now on, weekend camping trips will be within four hours of my home, or I will take the time off to split up a longer drive.  Lesson learned.

When we finally arrived at the park headquarters, I noticed several red paper signs posted around.  It wasn’t until I pulled up to the gate to check-in that I could read the signs.  Trail systems closed.  Whaaaat?  That was the primary reason we had gone to that park – to get in some good hiking in the canyon.  Seriously, I thought hard about just turning around and going back home.  But I talked myself out of it and decided that I was going to stick it out and make the best of the situation.  As it turned out, the weekend was great.  There were more little challenges along the way, but as I resolved to do, we made the best of the weekend and had a great time.

On Saturday the trails were still closed, so we headed off to Caprock Canyons State Park, about an hour and a half away.  What a great park!  I actually liked it better than Palo Duro – easier check-in, beautiful visitor center, smaller and a lot less crowded.   A park ranger suggested that we hike the South Prong Trail since that trail has water for the dog.  It was a beautiful 4-mile hike that winds along a river bed with a small running stream of cool, clear water.  Rosie loved being able to walk in the water, drink whenever she wanted, and especially liked laying in the cool water when she got hot.  She’s probably wishing all hikes were like that one.

After the hike, I stopped in a little diner and ordered a ham and cheese sandwich.  While I waited for my sandwich, I munched on tortilla chips and homemade salsa.  Yum.  Chips and salsa is an entire food group for me.  And the ham and cheese?  I expected a cold sandwich which would have been totally acceptable because I was famished after the hike.  But this sandwich was one of those grilled ham and cheese sandwiches with Texas toast and mayo.  It definitely hit the spot!  We had a nice drive back to our campsite at Palo Duro, and after a shower and some relaxing, I fixed chicken sausage and sweet potatoes in the electric skillet.  Another great meal!

I woke up early Sunday morning and again wondered if we shouldn’t just cut our losses and head back home.  I didn’t have to work Monday so I’d have the whole day to do things around the house.  But I also needed to do some caulking on the camper and finish up the screen door I made for the door.  I had been procrastinating getting those tasks done for months.  So I decided that this was the best time and I could finally mark them off my to do list.  I finished my screen door for the camper, so now I can leave the door open to enjoy the scenery while I read before going to sleep.  I caulked around the door handle and several spots on the roof of the camper where I thought the water was leaking in between the walls of the camper.  And like magic, just as I was finishing up about 9:30, the park ranger drove up to let me know that the trails were open.  The trails are open!

I quickly packed up my and Rosie’s backpacks with LOTS of water as is strongly recommended.  I included some turkey jerky and a granola bar for snacks.  We hit the Lighthouse Trail at about 10 am.  That’s a lot later than I typically like to start out on a hike, but the weather was absolutely gorgeous with a cool breeze.  We ended up not needing near as much water as I packed, but I’m a strong believer in carrying much more water than you think you’ll need.  Rosie did great with her backpack that carries her water and bowl.  Everyone gets a kick out of seeing that big dog with her backpack along the trail.  As I like to say to them, “Everyone carries their own water on my hikes.”

That evening we ate pizza in town in Canyon, Texas, at a place called LaBella’s.  It had received really good reviews on Yelp and deservedly so.  I had a healthy side salad (love to get my veggies in!), homemade bread sticks, and a cheese pizza with diced tomatoes.  Not thin crust, not thick crust but in between.  Really good!  I ended up eating half the pizza Sunday night and then eating the rest for lunch the next day while driving home.  I love pizza so much.  And I loved that glass of wine which I so rarely indulge in.

So although there were many little “bumps in the road,” the weekend turned out to be a good one – awesome hiking, good food, beautiful weather.  We even managed to sneak in a new state park to check off on our State Park Quest.  It was on our way home on Monday that things took a particularly nasty turn, and I’ll save that for part 2.