celebrations, challenges, dare to be different

Sidetracked

I got sidetracked today. I was going one place and got stuck in traffic for 2 hours going 7.9 miles. I had enough of not moving. It was kind of shitty but I was riding topless, in my Jeep, making me able to work on my tan while jamming to music and people watching from a slightly perched view.

While waiting patiently, I voiced my frustrations to my co-pilot who clearly didn’t check the map adjustments before we got locked on a highway in gridlock with no exit in sight. I could have continued, but instead of hovering in the annoyed phase my mind drifted to an alternate plan. I got sidetracked. My mind wandered. A new plan was in motion.

A quick picnic in the park. A short hike. A spontaneous visit with grandma. The plan was on a whim but it turned out to be magical. Lots of giggles. A little sweat in the heat. Smiles for hours. Funny photos. Tons of memories.

This is a story of how to turn a lemon of a day into to a sparkling lemonade kind of day. On a whim. On a shoe string budget. All I needed was a little time. A new perspective. A fresh look on the same day. Sometimes U-turns are the best turns to make. 

Sidetracked on a Saturday was one for the record books. It might have been the longest 7.9 miles of my life, in terms of how long it took me to go the distance. It might also be one of my favorite spontaneous excursions mainly because grandma was my co-pilot. The hike was one I have done before but this time I did pushing a wheelchair. I got my exercise for sure but it was a pleasure ride for my sweet passenger.

She smelled the pine trees. She enjoyed the fresh smell of honeysuckle. She saw some deers in the distance. She listened to the stream flow below the embankment. Her change of scenery and enjoyment of nature is one I will remember. Reflecting on how I got sidetracked makes me giggle. I guess I was really meant to go to point b instead point a. It just took a major traffic jam for me to realize this. 2 hours later mind you.

Never underestimate the fun going off course can be. Try the long route some days. If you don’t have a Jeep or a convertible, rent one for a day or a few hours. Riding topless gives you new perspective. The fresh breeze. The smells in the air. The freedom while you move from point a to point b.

I also got ducked in my Jeep today. A little boy ducked me and he was so happy he got to meet me when he ducked me. Another benefit of Jeep life outside of how often I can say I rode topless today.

challenges, dare to be different, Teddie Bear Adventures

RV Life Episode 1

The day finally came. Spring break 2022. The RV was loaded or hopefully loaded with all the essentials for a successful maiden voyage.

It started out shaky when the new driver (me) had about 1.5 hours of traffic due to road construction and accidents on the road. A lot of stop and go was good practice but I won’t lie when I say I was a bit claustrophobic at times trying to stay in my lane when tractor trailers were on each side of me. Nothing like trial by fire.

Although the start was rocky, the vehicle performed well on the road trip. About 7 hours total crossing one time zone and three states total. We did it. So many firsts. New experience for the pups. First time in an RV as a family. First time traveling to this particular state for a trip. The list could go on and on.

Electronics worked such as the wifi, the tv and radio. Although we didn’t use them all the time we had access which was good for many reasons. Weather was in our favor the first two days. Sunbathing and napping seemed be a good fit for me. Having all day to do nothing seemed okay with me for a few days off the grid.

We met some friends. We chatted with people from Wisconsin to California to Michigan and a few other states. We got to see how people traveled. Did they pull a trailer behind a truck or did they tow a tiny car behind an RV? So many options. We saw golf carts, bikes, trikes, motorcyles, jeeps and other side cars toted with each campsite.

Oh and how different each outside campsite was. From neon palm tree decorations to custom flags marking the spot. From simple to elaborate with everything in between. At night you could see the glow of green up high in the trees. The trees were adorned with internet boosters to enhance the WiFi coverage area. An interesting glow of sorts at night.

There were big grills, tabletop grills, and charcoal grills. Fire pits or solo stoves would light the night with the scent of toasted marshmallows. When one dog barked the others joined in. From near to far the barks varied in sound. From tiny schnauzer to the big Great Dane. The golden retrievers seemed to mostly listen but every other dog joined in the symphony of dogs. No cats in sight.

The RV resort was on the bay with beautiful views by day and night. Mid day there was a dolphin or two putting on a show poolside for those who wanted to watch them rise and dive again. Something I don’t see everyday thus I enjoyed it. Sunshine. Relaxation. No have tos. The perfect getaway. 

Meals outside on the picnic table. Movies under the stars. Music jamming at lunch outside. Time with friends and family. This reminded me of our lake days but this time on solid ground instead of by water. 

The first trip has come and gone. Many more states to visit. 900 miles on the odometer to break in the new house on wheels. Next up summer adventures near and far. Until then, I’ll leave you with some could have done without moments:

The water hose broke. Thank goodness for a friend saving the day with a loaner.

The grill connector didn’t fit. Good thing a neighbor let us grill with them.

The creepy gas attendant in Alabama who asked for a hug and kiss upon checkout. Random but I wonder how many takers he gets on a given day?

The winds that rolled in one day that gave me a hint of what it’s like to be rattled in a big storm if I lived full time on a trailer.

family, fitness and nutrition, Uncategorized

A Long Time Coming

The Victory Lap of senior year is marching on.

We are over halfway!

The first big end-of-season celebration recently wrapped. Of course, I’m thinking and looking back at how far she has come.

Over 10 years ago, my little scrapper started flag football in our local church league. The teams were coed. She has always liked playing sports with the boys. She relished the chance to go toe-to-toe with them and loved pulling their flags, dodging their “tackles,” and winning. Football of any kind isn’t usually a girl’s sport, so she may have had one other girl on her teams through those years. When she got to 4th grade or so, that age when bodies and minds start to really realize that girls and boys are different, she was the only girl on those teams. Again, she didn’t care and the boys’ fumbly discomfort around her even made her secretly giggle. She still loved running past them for the touchdown. She just wanted to play.

In high school, things get a little more serious. I remember reading in the paper that flag football would be coming to our county as a grant-funded club sport for girls. How exciting! The transition to high school had been a challenge for her and I thought it would be great. But, the schedule and coaches discouraged her from trying out that first year. She could get injured. She was already playing volleyball. It wouldn’t work.

Thankfully, the sport continued into her sophomore year. Again, a club sport, but after not making the volleyball team, the path was cleared for her to try out for flag football. She made that team and had a ball with a group of (mostly) new friends.

During her junior year, flag football became a varsity-level sport in our state, so she could earn her letter and competition would grow. She was named captain of that team and had a great season (despite COVID quarantine and lots of other ups and downs). And then this year, as a senior captain, she again helped lead her team to the playoffs, and was named to all-county teams on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. She received her 4th scholar athlete award, keeping her grades up all the while.

As she wound down her high school flag football career, she received what is called the Hawk Award from her coaches. Every varsity team at our school has just one of these awards. It is given to the player that excels on and off the field, in the spirit of the Hawks, her school mascot.

Remembering her first year of high school, when I drove her 30 minutes each morning away from home in the icy dark…she would hardly speak. Later she told me she would cry every single day when she arrived at school. I took her from her neighborhood friends, her safe zone, and plopped her into a school that was so different, so huge, so competitive. She had to work hard to achieve. Seek out help when she needed it. It was an honor to be selected for a team, not just a given. But just like my parents had done for me, pulling me from a sinking neighborhood school and taking me across town to a better high school, it has all worked out for the better. She’s grown to appreciate the opportunity and has made the most of it. She’s become a leader, a scholar, and a Hawk. After all those chilly, quiet, traffic-filled mornings, I can look back and know again that the effort was worth it.

And now on to her grande finale, lacrosse season!

adventure

Sin City

I took a trip to sin city with my mom recently. It was a trip for the memory books for sure. Seeing the city and how it’s changed through her eyes was amazing. I can’t include all the highlights as there were too many but I can jot down a few of my favorites. The photo below looks like a postcard. However it’s just a shot from the parking lot we parked in on our first night. 

Let’s start with what’s that smell? From the constant aroma of marijuana in the streets to what seemed like raw sewage seeping through the ground at times on the strip. Then there was the clouds of smoke that casted smells of cigars or cigarettes of all kinds when moving throughout the casinos. I even think she noted the smell of burnt toast each morning going to our condo elevator. However there was a pleasing scent of gingerbread and pine needles in the Bellagio hotel while immersed in their holiday display. Clever use of the HVAC system I’d assume. Too bad the nice smells can’t overpower the gross ones. Oh, the smells that created giggles galore.

We took a trip to old Vegas or Fremont Street which had changed so much since her last visit. This area was revitalized. She was mesmerized with the laser show above her head set to today’s hit music. See photo below. In a corner she also enjoyed a DJ playing upbeat music while dancing and entertaining the crowd with her fancy hula hoop moves. 

Of course there were other sights she wasn’t as fond of, like the barely-dressed young girls dressed with feather plumes bearing their butt cheeks. Some had whips but all were looking for men she said. To hear her recount this was hilarious. She also saw the rougher side of life gone bad. The homelessness of the city. From those asking for money when you left a restaurant to those sleeping in the streets with signs looking for beer money. Very sad to see. I would drift off thinking about what got each person into the state of homelessness.

There is another side to sin city many may not ever visit. Maybe it’s a short car ride to see Seven Magic Mountains. Maybe it’s a unique visit to the Container Park. For this blog I will talk about the day we took a trip to Valley of Fire State Park. The history and experience was impressive. The rock formations were amazing. The colors of the rocks tied in so well with the sky. Pictures are great memories but somehow don’t do the experience justice. We also got a glimpse of some cool wildlife as an added bonus. 

Taking the scenic route always adds value to any trip. The photo ops. The time together. The soaking in of all nature has to offer. These are the priceless moments.
We can’t end this post without a good damn story. Thus we close with the damn experience. The Hoover Dam that is. A short drive from Vegas. You will start in Nevada but end up in Arizona after a short walk. A great little way to say you visited both states. The walking bridge was a hit for us this trip as it was constructed after my mom visited many years ago. She had a new viewpoint. A new experience. It was fun to hear her reminisce on what it looked like before for travelers. For one there wasn’t a security checkpoint similar to the airport or military installation. That was the first wow moment upon arrival. Nonetheless the beauty of the area didn’t disappoint.

Signing off from sin city.

anonymous letters, awareness

Unspeakable

We share a lot on this blog about our lives, our ups and downs, our triumphs and frustrations, our families and friends.

Even with all that we share, there are many experiences and ideas left unspoken for whatever reason. They are too important or too unimportant. Too intimate, too mundane. Too shocking, too boring. To out-of-bounds. Too commonplace.

Then there are those things in a whole different category. The unspeakable. By their very definition, they are beyond words. Beyond understanding. Beyond description. Those jaw-dropping moments that take your breath away. Things that would offend. Things that defy understanding. Things that only happen in the movies or sci fi are suddenly your life or the life of someone close to you.

For the joyful unspeakables, it’s not that hard to tuck them away in my heart. If I didn’t have anyone with me in unspeakable moments, that makes it a bit more challenging…but like that perfect sunset, photos or words do not do it justice. If I am smart I stop trying to capture those unspeakable moments of beauty and joy and just sit in their rarity. But there’s always that urge to share it.

As for the unspeakably gruesome or heartbreaking, the urge to share it is more about having someone to help shoulder it. To process it. To bear witness. This unspeakable weighs on me these days. Gratefully, I do have a few friends who can bear to hear my unspeakable, at least what I can manage to verbalize of it. Those moments can be so challenging. So vulnerable. What will they think of me? Of the person this is happening to? When I really tell the truth about what is happening, who I am, with all my flaws and shortcomings?

More often than not, my dear friends surprise me with connection. With support. With generosity. They often have analogies to their own lives that make me feel less incompetent. Less overwhelmed. Less alone.

Even still, there are things that can only be shared so far. We all still have our lessons and burdens to endure.