Frenetic Fitness

fre·net·ic /frəˈnetɪk/ done very fast and with a lot of energy, often by someone who is in a hurry.

Archive for the category “Travel”

Mesa Verde National Park

This summer we took a whirlwind tour of Colorado via Durango, Pagosa Springs, and Crested Butte. While in Durango we decided to spend a day at Mesa Verde National Park and I am so glad we did. It was incredible. I could easily spend two or three days discovering all the hidden gems this landscape has to offer.

The Ancient Ones

The Ancient Ones

Greeted at the visitor center by a soaring sculpture of a Puebloan scaling a cliff face while carrying his bundles, we were on our way to see for ourselves the cliff faces where these ancient ones carried the necessities of life up and down the bluffs.

Knowing we just had one day in which to see as much as possible, we chose to do just two of the many guided tours that are available. First we went to Balcony House where everyone on the tour had to overcome any fear of tall ladders or tight spaces in order to get under the overhanging precipice to the shelter underneath where our guide imparted his own ideas on the how and why the people who chose to call this home, would build in such a place. Personally, I thought the view was worth millions in real estate value today.

The view from inside Balcony House

The view

We timed our two tours in order to have time between them to take a quick driving tour through some of the park and to eat a quick lunch in one of the picnic areas. The area we chose was infested with stealthy, robust, bold little rodents. I was thoroughly entertained by their tactics to get to leftover people food. They waited in the shadows, as if they knew all the signs of a family finishing a meal. They weren’t watching those of us still tucking into our pic-a-nic baskets, they were eyeballing the moms and dads who were wiping grubby little hands and putting tupperware away. As soon as the soon would be providers of squirrel lunch vacated the table, those little furry darlings scurried up to scavenge any and every crumb left on, under, or near the recently abandoned outdoor restaurant.

If I were a squirrel, I would live here too

If I were a squirrel, I would live here too

Our next stop on the tour was the large Cliff Palace Dwelling. A downward climb on steep steps, obviously CCC work from back in the day, both Joe and I pondered about the safety measures taken and not taken in the park. It seems these days the views are often hindered by fencing, signs, and other necessities to keep people from doing silly things. There seemed to be a noticeable lack of such notifications in the area. The one admonition we were given over an over was “please don’t touch the rocks in the dwellings.” Simple right? It’s a kindergarten level instruction, keep your hands to yourself while you’re here. When you leave you may touch anything you want. Yet over and over I watched as people rubbed, touched, leaned on, and practically caressed the stone. As I stood there with my arms crossed over my chest lest I break the rule, my inner 97 year old woman with a fist shaking in the air was screaming at these people “You Kids, GET OFF MY NATIONAL TREASURE!” Joe managed to take me away and get me out on a trail before I slapped a grown person’s hand and got arrested. I’m ornery like that. The oils on people’s hands turn the stone black. I want this beautiful place that has withstood the test of time and mother nature, to be enjoyed by my great great grandchildren, without the greasy stains please.

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We learned about kivas and discussed theories, of which there are many, on why the Ancestral Pueblo chose to build here and then why they chose to leave after living in the area for 700 years. This people, this tribe lived here more than twice as long as we have been the United States of America. Whether it is true or not, our Park Interpreter shared a story that tradition is that it was time to move on. There is no great story of drought or war, just that the people are in-tune with nature and when it is time to move, it is felt. I kind of like that version, the story of wanderers. I watch as my children are becoming wanderers. I live for their stories and adventures while I keep trying to find ways to wander myself, because I feel it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out

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My own attachment to Red Ryder began long before Ralphie’s mom responded to his Christmas wish, “I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!” with “No, you’ll shoot your eye out.”  When I was a little girl, my dad collected films from the 1940’s and 1950’s. He owned an extensive collection of serial Westerns, like Red Ryder and Little Beaver, Gene Autry, Zorro and Lash LaRue.

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During a trip to Rogers, Arkansas last year, we visited the Daisy Airgun Museum which houses decades of Daisy memorabilia. Displays chronicle the company’s early days of  manufacturing windmill blades in Plymouth, Michigan at the end of the 19th century before switching to making air rifles in 1886. The company enjoyed the success of manufacturing BBs and selling promotional novelties as the age of Hollywood gave them a national audience not to mention their part in  manufacturing for the war effort in the 1940s.  The small museum is located in the lovely downtown square at 114 South First Street, the address the museum has called home since 2000.  The company’s ties to Northwest Arkansas began in 1958 when manufacturing moved from Michigan to a Rogers plant.

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Times, they do not change, even in the 1930’s when movies like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century were popular, kids and adults bought up toys, lunchboxes, books and novelty items based on the movie. That included the Atomic Pistol, made by Daisy. The company continued its close relationship with Hollywood producing the Red Ryder BB gun during the 1940’s, except for the three years when Daisy used their metal and manufacturing expertise for the war effort. In 1949 the company sold more than a million Red Ryder BB guns, a phenomenal sales record for the time. As I walked through the museum’s display of movie posters and models, I was transported back to my own childhood. Ralphie wanted to be like his hero from the big screen. I watched the movies with my dad, wanting to be like his hero from the big screen.

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I went for a run through town the day after we visited the museum. I couldn’t help but stop to snap a photo of the Red Ryder window mural, one more moment of nostalgia, reliving those Saturday nights when we’d set up the retractable projector screen and pop the corn.

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Spring Break is coming up. If you’re planning to be in Northwest Arkansas, perhaps visiting Crystal Bridges, take a couple of hours to visit the historic downtown square in Rogers and the Daisy Airgun Museum. Find more to do on the Visit Rogers Blog. Share your memories with the young ones and build a few new ones.

Corndogs and Beer

I spent the weekend immersed in good music, good food, and mud.

What can I say? The kid lives in her Chacos no matter what.

What can I say? The kid lives in her Chacos no matter what.

The Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival, AKA Memphis in Mud, has become something of a tradition in our family. The youngest kid is a musician and music lover so for her last 4 birthdays, she’s been given tickets to take a friend to BSMF and an all inclusive parental chaperone package of hotel accommodations, transportation and food. Eating well is not always my biggest goal for the weekend, but I have to admit that $6 corndogs and $5 Bud Lights are not part of my plan either. This year the man went to a mountain bike festival (yes I’m a bit jealous) while I took my girl Sarah Smiles and the young ones for the music, food and fun in Memphis where the temperatures were going to set records on the low end, and the forecast called for rain. Shock. It’s a rare year that the weekend goes by with no precipitation but the 40 degree temps were unparalleled. There was much less skin showing this year.

On Friday we treated ourselves to one of our favorite Memphis restaurants, Blues City Cafe. The four of us shared a sausage and cheese appetizer plate, a 3 tamale plate, and a rack of ribs.

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Good Ribs and Good Beer

Good Ribs and Good Beer

It was not a $6 corndog meal. Sarah and I also enjoyed a brew not distributed in Arkansas, Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Ale. Not a $5 Bud Light. I assumed that we would be spending the remainder of the weekend choosing to starve or eating fair food but I was wrong. This year there was a stand with grass fed organic burgers, veggie burgers and locally sourced salads. The longest line in the row of food vendors hawking rubbery pizza, corndogs, and various other fried stuff on a stick was a wood fired wok stand making Soba noodles with fresh veggies.

Soba and Veggies = no guilt fair food

Soba and Veggies = no guilt fair food

We watched them toss whole peppers, squash and baby carrots into those ginormous woks to roast before chopping them and adding to the noodles. The fair food powers that be have heard the voice of the people! If you have healthy options, people will choose them. Okay maybe not everybody, the lines at the Pronto Pup and the SoCo drink stands weren’t empty, but the healthier options were getting their fare share and then some. And I needed those healthier choices because I also chose to eat one meal a day at my favorite Memphis haunts and wouldn’t waste more of my calories to eat corndogs and drink bad beer. I’d much rather have the crawfish eggs benedict and $2.50 Mimosas at Automatic Slim’s brunch!

So come to Memphis and Put Some South in your Mouth!

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A Place to Learn, Hike, Ride and Row

This one’s not about fitness, frenetic or organized or otherwise.  San Francisco Part Trois: Golden Gate Park.

On a day of my conference when the morning was filled with work events and things to do but the afternoon was less hectic, we made our way over to Golden Gate Park hoping to get a short visit to both the California Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden before they closed. We made it to the Museum in time to at least have a cursory go at most of the exhibits. While they were all educational and pretty cool as science museums go, the one that remains at the forefront of my memory is the Galapagos exhibit in the Islands of Evolution area. There is a major focus there on Lonesome George, the only Giant Tortoise of his kind left after whaling and hunting decimated his kind on Galapagos. And then, a few days after our return home, the news broke that Lonesome George had passed away. Now the education area is a bit of an alter I suppose. A tribute to what happens when we do not understand, when we underestimate our impact on the environment.

Not George, but a beauty nonetheless.

Not George, but a beauty nonetheless.

There is a lot of research being conducted all the time behind the scenes at the academy but one of the most interesting areas as far as visible innovative technology goes is the living roof, a “living tapestry” of native plants that also serves as an aide to climate control inside the museum walls.

No, it isn't the Teletubbies house, it's a living roof.

No, it isn’t the Teletubbies house, it’s a living roof.

While we didn’t have a lot of time to linger in the museum, the planetarium and the aquarium exhibits were among the better ones I’ve had the chance to visit.

He's giving me that "this is the last thing you'll ever see" look.

He’s giving me that “this is the last thing you’ll ever see” look.

We practically ran to the Japanese Tea Garden to make it before closing time, dodging and sometimes laughing at the folks who rented 4 person surrey bikes to ride around the park. Newsflash, they don’t handle hills well. It was the coldest day of our trip so we had to keep our coats on while wandering the gardens which seemed odd to me, I don’t wander gardens in the winter time in Arkansas.

The tea house has formal tea ceremonies on certain days of the week, I would have liked to have done that. We settled for just enjoying a hot cup and some sweets to take the chill off.

The Tea House

Sun on the Buddha

In 1949, this Buddha which was originally cast in 1790 in Japan, was gifted to the Japanese Tea Garden. We stopped to appreciate him in the early evening glow at the end of our visit.

We still had  some daylight left after the gardens closed so we walked to Stow Lake for a trip around the lake trail and up Strawberry Hill to see the views of the city. There are two bridges connecting the lake trail to the island in the center: the Rustic Bridge and the Roman Bridge. We crossed over  both bridges but the Rustic was by far my favorite.

The Rustic Bridge 1893

There’s a boat house at Stow Lake where you can rent boats to row out on the lake. We didn’t have time to do that but enjoyed watching a few glide across the water.

Pagoda on Lake Stow

The flowers blooming around the park were beautiful, like this calla lily. As we wandered out of the park toward the street to catch a bus back to our hotel, we saw people at play in the open spaces, a couple of folks even taking naps under the canopy of trees, and lots of people riding bikes. With the museums, the open spaces, the bike infrastructure, the botanical loveliness and the lakes, this is a perfect place to feed mind body and soul.

I estimate we were able to enjoy about 20% of this beautiful park. If the other 80% is as lovely as what we saw, it would be well worth a trip back to a city we enjoyed so much for another visit, maybe we could check off another big chunk of Golden Gate Park.

Dim Sum, Sourdough Gnocchi and Eatin’ Pants

Sourdough Bread from the Boudin Bakery

Man cannot live by bread alone. For my family, food is an integral part of any vacation or trip away from home. I love good food. My daughter began her toddler adventures with solid food immersed in a multicultural family of doctoral students who fed her curried eggs, biryani, latkes, and the best of Northern Italian cuisine which contrary to the American idea, does not rely on pasta. But we married a man who as a child, refused to eat spaghetti sauce on his noodles, balked at most things green, and thought salt and pepper was all the spice the world needs. We’ve converted him. He even eats artichokes now.

Last week I had the chance to attend a conference in San Francisco. Man cannot live by bread alone. Unless it’s sourdough. Joe decided to tag along and entertain himself while I worked so we could spend the evenings together exploring the city. Our hotel was across the street from the Chinatown Gate so as soon as we stored our bags at our hotel, we went in search of souvenirs. No. We went in search of food. Of course there was no shortage of Dim Sum restaurants. I admit, we did no research, didn’t ask our concierge or anyone on the street, we just found a place that looked good and took the stairs to a second floor room and had a seat. Steamed potstickers, har gao (shrimp dumplings) , char siu bao ( steamed bbq pork buns) and my favorite jin deui, sesame balls filled with red bean paste. We left just before having to loosen our belts but not before we had to lean back in our chairs and sigh deeply. We spent the rest of the day and most of the evening walking and exploring, finding a great bookstore and Larry Flint’s Hustler Club by accident. Our energy was just about to peter out when we stopped at the Moscone Center to check in at the convention to attend the opening reception and keynote address. I was passed out on our hotel bed by 9 p.m. local time. My body said it was 11 and I’d been up since 4 a.m.

The walk from our hotel to the convention center sent us through the Yerba Buena Gardens and past La Boulange Bakery. On our first morning in town we stopped for cafe au lait and breakfast. I opted for a vegetable omelet and potatoes while Joe decided on the french toast and fruit. He loved it so much, he had it again the next day for breakfast while I tested their salmon quiche.

“So I Married An Axe Murderer” cup of Cafe au Lait at La Boulange

French Toast so good he ordered it twice!

Later that night we went in search of dinner. We wandered from our hotel to North Beach hoping for Italian. We finally decided on a restaurant but once inside it was so loud we couldn’t hear each other and the tables were so close together it was uncomfortable. So we left. And went to a place we heard was “touristy” but the menu appealed to us. The Stinking Rose specializes in all thing garlic. We indulged ourselves in roasted garlic, garlic encrusted baby back ribs and garlic meatloaf while seated under a roof of hanging chianti bottles and corks. Then we waddled all the way back to our hotel via the long way around, taking us through the late night bars and uh, specialty dance venues.

Chianti bottles cover the ceiling for atmosphere at The Stinking Rose

Garlic. Lots of garlic.

After a morning of lectures, networking and viewing displays of many other people’s research, I met Joe near the convention center to catch a bus trying to get to Golden Gate Park in time to see some of the California Academy of Sciences and the Japanese Tea Garden before they closed. I’m sure our adventure in the park will be part 3 of this story. But since this is about food I have to mention that we sat in the lovely tea house in the Japanese Gardens for a snack. We didn’t make it in time for the tea ceremony demonstration but it was a cold afternoon and there were many patrons enjoying a hot cuppa in the chilly air of the early evening. We loved the gardens and those photos will have to be part of the Golden Gate Park post.

Exhausted from a full day of work and an evening of exploring, we chose to stick close to our hotel and have dinner and drinks at The Irish Bank housed in the alley just behind our hotel. They had our favorite beers on draught, and our favorite pub food: fish and chips for the man and a juicy reuben for me. The chips were perfectly crisp outside and tender inside. My reuben was stacked high with lovely corned beef with housemade dressing.

We had a relaxing evening in a lovely alleyway pub with good food and when one of my colleagues joined us, we had good friends to go with it.

On the day I had the most time to spare from work, we went for a bike ride across Golden Gate Bridge. We cycled well into the evening hours after our late start and as it was our final evening in San Francisco we were looking for a place that would be somewhat quiet, had great food and service and maybe even a view. We found all of it in The Bistro Boudin. We had walked by the bakery and watched the bakers at work earlier in the day. I wish we’d had time to spare, the bakery had a tour and the line just to buy bread was long, the cafe was packed, so we thought their full service restaurant would be a safe bet.

We had a sunset view of the bay, Alcatraz and the sun disappearing behind the Marin Headlands.

We had a lovely waiter named Clark who took very good care of us and had great suggestions for dinner. We started with a lovely crab and artichoke dip and a beautiful bottle of wine. Joe had the wild caught halibut with crispy polenta and tomato broth.

Halibut at Bistro Boudin

I couldn’t resist the bread. I had the sourdough gnocchi al pesto with lobster.

Tender beautiful gnocchi

And we were enjoying ourselves so much we decided to try the bread pudding. Being from the South, I’ve tried a lot of bread pudding. It was a dense pudding and the sauce was more caramel than a Southern rum or whiskey sauce but the taste was magnificent and the presentation was pretty good too.

Sourdough Upside Down Bread Pudding

By this time we were totally relaxed and very full. We should have been wearing our eatin’ pants.

Trip-ing, Riding and The Golden Gate Bridge

Earlier this month I was profiled on Arkansas Women Bloggers Network. I tried to describe my blog so people would understand what it’s about. I described it as a way to chronicle the ways training and fitness fit into life with my family. Last week was a perfect example of using my fitness regimen to make my life easier and more enjoyable even while traveling.

Much like the last several months, the past two weeks have brought a lot of stress, a lot of fun and a whole load of adventure my way. After the big mountain bike race and all the great activities we had a chance to be involved in at the beginning of the month we spent a weekend photographing an early morning triathlon and pre-riding a mountain bike trail that Joe would be racing on two weekends later. Sunday we rode 100 miles around Little Rock participating in Fat Cyclist’s 100 Miles of Nowhere fundraiser for Camp Kasem. All weekend was spent using fitness as a way to connect with and spend time with my husband.

Iron Mountain Bike Trails

I returned to the regular work week exhausted from another busy weekend with no rest in sight. I had to finish preparations for a convention I would be attending beginning Saturday and I was woefully behind. I put all other things, including blogging, on the backburner to finish up my projects. In the inky blackness of predawn Saturday, Joe and I boarded a plane headed for San Francisco. Trying to maximize our time there, I opted for the first flight out which meant with the time difference we would arrive well before lunch time.

Right outside our hotel entrance-how convenient!

Since our hotel was right at the Chinatown Gate, we did not resist the temptation of a second floor walk up to get Dim Sum before we spent several more hours wandering Chinatown, Nob Hill, North Beach, and back down to the Financial District, Union Square and the South of Market area to investigate the Moscone Convention Center where the opening lectures and reception would be that evening. We wandered busy streets and alleyways and tried to get a little bit off the beaten path which isn’t tough in a city as large and urban as San Francisco. Every street seem to hide treasure in an alleyway. A good restaurant, a bar, a little nook boutique, or a fortune cookie factory. I can’t believe how much we walked every single day we were there. We only took a bus once to get several miles away to Golden Gate Park which I’ll have to devote another blog to later.

But to address the fitness part, on the day I had the most time to spare from work, we rented bikes and rode over the Golden Gate Bridge into Sausalito and around to Tiburon. This seems to be an extremely popular way to tour the area as there are bike rental shops all over the city. The distance wasn’t as far as many of the rides we do at home but we took our time and stopped along the way to investigate and enjoy the area and enjoyed a couple of nice little climbs up to the bridge and after we left Sausalito.

What a View

Stopping to take a picture before crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

Riding along the Bay

Our friend Vinny used to be a bike messenger in San Francisco. Throughout our ride we played a facebook game of posting photos and asking “where are we now Vinny?”  He vicariously led us on a route he liked, we stopped at a bike shop he used to frequent when he lived here and we snapped a photo to prove it to him. We stopped to explore Sausalito for a little while, stepping in to a few galleries and stores. It’s a lovely little town and I wish we had planned more time to relax there.

On the way to Tiburon

This is about the time I started wishing out loud that I had my own bike. And my shorts. And my shoes, and helmet and and and…not that there was anything really wrong with the rented one, but it just wasn’t mine. It doesn’t take hours on a strange bike saddle to start  feeling  the difference.

Salted Caramel and Triple Mocha Goodness

When we reached Tiburon we stopped for a well deserved ice cream at The Grass Shack organic ice cream shop. Our bike rental included the option of ferry tickets returning to the Wharf in the early evening so instead of riding our bikes back to either Sausalito or all the way back to our starting point, we rode the ferry from Tiburon which allowed us views of sea lions frolicking in the water, the waterfront, and an up close and personal experience floating by Alcatraz.

I wouldn’t mind living here

I WOULD mind living here.

This would be our last evening in San Francisco so after our long afternoon of riding bikes, we enjoyed a late night dinner at Bistro Boudin with our lovely waiter Clark. A big part of any city exploration for us, and certainly San Francisco was no different, is food. But that will require a blog of its own.

BIKES!

Easter weekend 2009 found our little 3some + one at this park for biking, hiking, fishing and egg hunting. This past weekend, just the 2 of us went down there in an attempt to help out a friend who was putting on an adventure race. So the workout for Friday the 27th and Saturday the 28th involved a little mountain biking and a little hiking each day. And a LOT of driving. So Sunday the 29th we decided to ride the whole 7 miles of trail at Pinnacle that we’ve been working for the last several months. I’ve never ridden the whole thing and honestly- din’t think I could. I did. And then some. We had a great time. Those guys that put that trail out there did a great job! Thanks Daron and Joe. : )  I was really fed up with working on it but after finally getting to ride the whole thing I have a renewed energy about it.

Sunday 22nd: 30 miles of road biking with one ride up the little hill at Ft. Roots.

Monday 23rd: Rest

Tuesday 24th:
warm up jump rope…100 push ups…100 sit ups
superset: dumbbell bench press on ab ball  4 x 10 (25-10lb) and push up w/dumbbell row 4 x 25 x 12lb
superset: single arm push press 4 x 10 x 30lb and single arm snatch 4 x 10 x 30lb
last thing: plank walks with call outs by Chris. Plank position, push ups, up-down, walk in plank. ugh

Wednesday 25th: CORE
5 Rounds of:
max pullups (i used a band, max=10)
200m backward run
plate push 20yd? 35lb plate
20 box jumps 24″

Thursday 26th: CORE
superset: bench press 5 x 10reps:10sec hold:10reps and 30 sec of push ups in between each set
superset: standing military press into push press 3sets x8x8 with feet elevated pushups to fatigue
superset: chair pushups:explosive pushup(clapping):plate raise x 25lb  3 rounds to fatigue(failure)

Monday 30th: Rest

Tuesday 31st: warm up w/ jump rope
Partner work- one partner has a set # of reps, the other partner does the *alternate exercise until the other is finished regardless of time/reps done.
20 x  heavy leg press (100% body wt.)      *overhead squat 33lb bar

400m run holding 25lb plate between partners:  20 squat jumps *mountain climbers:  repeat 1x

20 x romanian dead lift 65lb    *wall balls w/ 15lb med ball

200m partner run backwards: 20 squat jump *mountain climbers : repeat 1x

partner curl- both holding a 33lb bar alternating curls 10rep…9rep…8…7……….1

Wednesday Sept1st: welcome Sept!
warm up 300 jump rope 100 sit ups
superset: 4 x 15 chair pushup:  4 x 15 inverted row
alternating dumbbell bench press on ab ball 2 x 10ea arm x 25lb 3 x 10 x 30lb
6 rounds of :  bench press 2 x 10 x 65lb, 4 x 10 x 70lb and 6 x 10 tire flips

I love tire flips. Don’t judge.

Time Management:

During July we had a wedding. And I had a working trip to Montana. And we spent a weekend driving to and from Oklahoma to help the newly-marrieds move. And on 4 weekends we were either picking up or dropping off the small one at a camp an hour or so up the road each way. And I continued to work my usual 10 hour days throughout. I got a little tired. So I tacked on a camping trip to the first weekend in August. Bright idea, eh? I have a sore throat I can’t shake, I’m constantly exhausted and my resting heart rate is hovering around 40 beats/minute. I may need a rest. But there is no rest for the wicked?!

The wedding: Perfection. The bride was lovely, the groom was dapper and the reception was absolutely capital F-Fun.This probably deserves a full post of pictures which my SIL julia did a great job of taking. But I don’t know where J stored them.

Montana: was spectacular. I can’t wait to find an opportunity or reason to return. On each end of work sessions, which were 3 very intense and long days, my boss and I wrangled a day to enjoy the beauty. Before the meeting started we headed to Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. I think the drive might have been as lovely as the caverns.

We were staying in Bozeman, home of the University of Montana at Bozeman. Apparently a few years back the students decided that a hike close by the U needed a monument of sorts. So this white rock “M” was laid out at the pinnacle of this steep trail that can be seen from several vantage points in town down in the valley. I climbed it, as fast as I could, while the boss stayed in the car to take a phone call about her new house. 35 minutes up and back. Must say I was rather impressed with myself : ) We also managed to find that Bozeman is completely and utterly littered with trails. Bikes and pedestrians everywhere with some sidewalks but not many bike lanes. Goes to disprove my theory that people in Little Rock can’t walk or bike due to lack of safe sidewalks and lanes. Apparently the trick is to teach DRIVERS to share the road. Sigh.The campus is lovely. I even found that I could share an afternoon respite from mind numbing science to sit with Walt Whitman. Nice.

On the day before departure we rented a car for a trip 90 miles South to Yellowstone National Park. Oh. That’s it. Just Oh. Whenever I am in unfamiliar territory I have to wonder, when you grow up looking at this lovliness…do you ever really see it? Do people who grow up here find the same kind of peace and tranquility when they visit the plains, a sandy beach or a flat delta farmland? There is nothing like snow capped mountains or standing at the top of a deep canyon over a waterfall to make one feel small and insignifcant in this world and yet after the initial shock of my own smallness here, I want to climb-scale-run-hop-roll in the snow at the top. That desire is somehow empowering.

Toward the end of an exhausting but sight filled day- we looked out the window of the car as we were driving alongside the Yellowstone River and caught a glimpse of these guys playing in the white caps of the rapids. They are much larger than they appear! We had to stop and take a walk down to see them.

And then out of nowhere, just hanging out on the side of the road as if he was just waiting for some buddies to come by was this fella. Not the biggest bloke we’d seen all day, but one of the mellowest. He just watched as the traffic went by. Don’t you wonder what the animals think? Car after car filled with people, just staring at him and taking pictures. I would like to think he is thinking, “what a bunch of morons…don’t you know there could be millions of us in your own backyard if there weren’t highways and parking lots everywhere?”

July was BUSY. August shows no sign of slowing down. Just this weekend We’ve done hours of trail work, seen a minor league ball game, gone for a bike ride, had a sweet brunch and shopped at the Argenta Market for T-Bones from Creekstone Farms Humane Processing and had the best chocolate milk ever. No, I mean Ever. J says that in Heaven, this milk is available any time, in unlimited quantities. Thanks Seven Doves Creamery. I gotta go get more milk. I’m thirsty. I think the buck would like some too.

What blog?

A weeklong work trip to Montana.  A weekend trip to Oklahoma. A weekend camping trip to DeGray Lake Resort State Park. And somewhere in between was some trail work, a few workouts, and possibly one or two mental meltdowns. Zombies have no need for blogs. But perhaps when this stupor is over, or regains a slow shuffle, I’ll have pictures. Boy do I have pictures.

Blog Hiatus

Toward the end of May I contracted a nasty respiratory virus that kicked my butt for 2 full weeks. By June 4, we were headed on vacation and I was still keeping NyQuil close by. I felt much better while on vacay but since returning, there has been so much to do I feel like a dog whose owner just threw every single ball in the house out at once and screamed “FETCH”  OMG- which way do I go, which way do I go??

I’ll catch up on workout stuff but 3 things we did for exercise while on vacation:  Riding mountain bikes on the beach at low tide. Those knobby tires, despite being somewhat fat, did not like the sand, even packed sand. We did about 8 miles of tough riding one morning with hardly a soul out but us. And that one crab that had both his beady eyes on us, a lot of birds. I thought I saw a sea serpent but it turned out to be a dead sea snake.

Kayaking the intercoastal waterway. Unfortunately we thought a tour group would be a better way to do this. We were oh so wrong. None of the other participants had ever even been in a kayak before so that was interesting. Then, we knew more about the history of the city than our guide. That disappointed. I wanted to learn.

Paddle Boards. Oh my gravy! I wish I had discovered this the first day. I would have done it every single day we were there. Every day. Did I say every day? Maybe twice a day.  : )

For our vacation this summer we tent camped at Anastasia State Park in St. Augustine, Florida.  It is a lovely park and our campsite stayed surprisingly shady most of the day. Big Palms and Live Oaks helped with that. We were within walking distance of the beach but we usually rode bikes. The night we arrived we went down to the beach to walk in the waning sunshine. Lovely.

St. Augustine is touted as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the U.S. There are buildings from the Spanish colonial period and the British “occupation” period that have been wonderfully restore as well as modern wonders like the Ponce de Leon Hotel, that served as a Coast Guard training center in WWII and is now Flagler College.
One of the first historically significant places we visited was Ft. Matanzas, built in 1740-42 to protect the Southern entry route to St. Augustine. We learned that Matanzas is translated as slaughter. Matanzas River and the fort were named for a skirmish between the Spanish soldiers at the fort and some French soldiers sailing down from Ft. Caroline, the French being the slaughtered ones of course. We saw pictures of what the remains of the fort looked like when the NPS took it over, we are so lucky that there are people interested enough to maintain these historical beauties for us. I can only imagine how beautiful this was with white stucco and red trim.

Later in the evening we went into the old city of St. Augustine and walked around. A lot. It was hot. In the evening we took a walking tour of the city that started at the old city gate where parts of the city wall remain and you can see the impressive Castillo de San Marcos standing guard at the water.
Another morning at the beach then led to another visit downtown to an area of boutiques, junktique stores and a shop with the yummiest cupcakes on the planet. Shout out to Luli’s and their Key Lime cupcakes. While in the area we toured around the Mission of Nombre de Dios and the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche. So pretty! One of the items of interest here is a 208 foot steel cross. We caught the sun right overhead, giving the cross a corona.

As it should be. Somehow after the beauty of this church, we still managed to Tourism Cheeseball our way to the Ripley’s Museum. Always a treat but I think we’ve seen them all now. Luckily the small one is not as enamored with Ripley as she once was.
The next morning had us on an early morning bike ride to the local farmer’s market. Oddly enough, our purchases were in order: coffee for the big ones, rice milk for the small one. Turned out the kids running the coffee shop had lived in Fayetteville. Small world. 3 giant juicy breakfast burritos. Oh good gravy!  A skirt of recycled Tshirts for me and a collage for the small one. What we don’t know about art, we make up for in enthusiasm.  We biked back to camp, even though it was only 9 a.m, it was already terribly hot. We headed straight to the city for a guided kayak tour. See above. Disappointing. After lunch we walked up to the Castillo. We had passed by  it, sometimes several times a day but had yet to enter. It was a magnificent structure but I wish we had a live guide or at least a recorded guide. There was too much there and not enough printed info for my taste. Lovely views. Interesting history. A good day. I hope people weren’t too offended by our smell having been active outside the entire day.

We had to make a quick trip to the grocery for supplies then went “home” to have beanie weenies and a game of National Park Monopoly that we bought at the Castillo. Our camp neighbors invited us for S’mores…no one can resist the S’mores!
Next day it was back to the beach with a plan to hit the oldest part of the city for the afternoon. We hit the Alligator Farm first. Driving into St. Augustine the first night, the small one said “Is it like Joe Dirt? Will they wrestle alligators? I don’t want to go there.” But it wasn’t. It was beautiful. One of the highlights of the trip! Besides the lovely reptilians, the birds were incredible. Incredible.

By late lunchtime we were in town searching for sustenance. We happened upon Gaufre’s Goods where they advertised a mash of Mediterranean foods mixed with Polish delicacies. Odd. And intriguing. Of course we had to eat there. Man was it yummy. I’ve forgotten to upload the food pictures the small one snapped throughout our trip,  I must get them from her. I had the best Greek salad, a slice of spanikopita and some coconut soup that was deee- licious. The small one ate a cabbage roll the size of her head and the big one had pierogies. Meat ones. Fried with bacon. Lordy.  We took dessert of baklava, a wedding cookie, and a canoli? with us as we walked to The Oldest House Museum. Then we walked over to the Cathedral. So beautiful.

Afterward, we had very nice meal at The Conch House Restaurant and tiki bar and we were oh so ready for those camp cots. That was a LONG day.
Last full day in the park so instead of the beach, we went to the Salt Run Marsh between the beach and the camp ground to rent paddle boards. I’ve already had my say on this activity. This was the highlight of MY trip.

It was a day for fun in the sun so we hit the beach after this for a last chance swim.  We’d come to the last day of our trip and hadn’t visited one of the iconic St. Augustine locales less than 2 miles from our camp, the St. Augustine Lighthouse. We’d seen it from just about every angle: driving past going to and from town, from our bikes, from kayaks, from paddle boards…but hadn’t been inside. What a surprise it was! They had an audio tour that was very well done with stories and interviews of former caretakers and their families. The old caretakers house had a wonderful WWII exhibit and memorabilia. But the stairs in the lighthouse were my personal favorite. So glad the man has an eye for shots like this one.

I can’t imagine climbing those stairs, every couple of hours, carrying a 60lb bucket of oil for the lamp. Oh my what a workout that would be!
Lovely relaxing day. I was not ready for this vacation to end. Time to start saving money for the next one!!

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