I’ve been busy with grad school (again), “helping” Wade get the nursery done, and finishing up some stuff for work before I go on maternity leave. I haven’t gotten out an explored, nor have I done any book reviews. I’m hoping to change that soon…
I’m to the point in pregnancy where I just want to lay around, keep my feet propped up, and stay cool. I feel so lazy.
But! I’ve been working on some content for my Baby Wipes and Day Hikes page which is now live!
Contrary to my laziness quip above, in the last two weeks Wade and I:
Cleaned up the house
Went through all the baby shower gifts (I hope to get the thank you notes out soon…)
Finally got around to putting the nursery together (99% was Wade… but I helped- someone had to hold stuff…)
Packed our hospital bag
And spent a little time at the river with friends!
It felt great sitting in cold water even though it took a few minutes for me to acclimate to it…
I’m hoping this week on my way down (or back) from the doctor I can swing into the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge. Hopefully I can take a little time and at least wander through some of it- I need to get outside, I’m getting that itch. Even with the swollen feet I need to do some exploring.
I’m finishing up editing on my dad’s book we’re reprinting through Kindle Direct Publishing. I’m now working on redoing the cover art and getting it all uploaded for our Oct 1st deadline. So exciting!
Short post… I’m sorry…
P.S. I want cookies and a nap…
P.S.S. Technically, I’m at week 38 now but when I wrote this Monday night it was 37…
Here goes the first ever book review! I decided to start with the book I just finished; Dances with Marmots: A Pacific Crest Trail Adventure by George Spearing.
“From Mexico to Canada along the Pacific Crest Trail”
“4300 km, 5 months and a lifetime of unforgettable memories…”
For my non-imperial friends, 4300 km is roughly 2,672 miles.
I enjoyed this book immensely. I always like reading books from the point of view of “people from off.” This is a turn of phrase I heard a lot growing up in the Missouri Ozarks; it essentially means anyone that wasn’t from my neck of the woods. Now, that I’m older and have been “out” more I tend to use it for folks from other countries that come to the US for vacation, hiking, and travel.
I love the outsider looking in perspective.
Even if it’s almost twenty years old…
George Spearing’s writing style reminds me a little of Bill Bryson- it might stem from time spent in British countries but it is endearing. So are some of his short quip-like poems in the book.
The book kicks off by how he was influenced to go out and hike… by a book. Citing a book by Stephen Pern and the Continental Divide Trail- I’ve already added it to my extensive reading list.
“He wasn’t reading about it, he’d done it!”
And just like that I’ve been called out by a book.
George picked the PCT for ease of access and food delivery. I did find the international planning interesting- even though it is twenty years old he does provide decent information for international hikers and with better internet services that’s gotten easier!
I wonder if there are similar books about New Zealand… *fondly remembers childhood enjoyment of Xena and Hercules/LOTR and wanting to visit and hike some of the places shown…*
He gives us a rundown of his physical abilities- firemen, but hasn’t hiked extensively. Like many newbie or wannabe hikers…
His high spirits and get it done attitude help him out through the five month journey- plus the friends he makes on the trail.
As for the title… he has some encounters with Marmots along the PCT. He actually had an interesting conversation with them and had several run ins with the little critters throughout the book and liked their company.
I really enjoyed chapters 5 & 6, his adventures with bears, flatulence, and postal employees were funny in hindsight.
He includes several photos (in black and white) of his adventures which gives a richer picture of his journey.
He has a direct- simple and honest- approach in his writing and the humor makes it flow really well.
Like I said, I enjoyed it!
Possible Cons for some folks: Some of the content is now outdated (published in 2005)- park and trail policies have changed a little, the trail is far more popular now, and a thru/section hiker will have a slightly different experience than George’s experiences.
The editing was a little loose- which coming from me, is funny considering I don’t notice a lot of my mistakes until nearly a week after I post something. And I proofread シ…
As a Kiwi (New Zealand) writer, some of his jokes and colloquialisms are hard to follow at times. But a quick Google search (woodland Noddy) or context clues make it easy enough to figure out. Plus, he does explain some of the misunderstandings.
It seems he shortchanges the northern section of the PCT- a lot of the more interesting adventures and learning curve stories happens on the southern section, California. But it would have been nice to see more information and stories from the Oregon and Washington sections.
P.S. I’ll have to come up with a new sign off for the book reviews…
P.S.S. If you want to pick this book up… Just an FYI, as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
P.S.S.S…? Drop a comment for the next book you want reviewed, pick from photo! Otherwise I’ll just go down the stack in order.
I need bigger hiking boots…and flip flops…maybe I’ll just go barefoot. My feet are swelling and right now shoes of any kind are the bane of my existence right now.
Plus, fun fact a lot of women that have babies wind up moving up a shoe size- so, I might need to find bigger hiking boots for the future.
While I’m cranky about the changes, I’m happy to be a mom.
I just hate buying new shoes, jeans, etc. It’s the whole reason I got back into shape several years ago- I didn’t want to buy new clothes.
It was another slow week/weekend for me. I didn’t do a lot of hiking- although, Wade and I checked out the Nature Trail at Cody Park in North Platte after my doctor’s appointment.
Cody Park is a nice little park off Highway 83. It’s not got a lot in the way of hiking trails- the Nature Trail only goes so far before it became to overgrown to comfortably walk in the flip flops and shorts. Plus, at 35 weeks on a hot day I wasn’t feeling too adventurous.
However, it’s great for kids and the plant life is beautiful. I also like the little zoo they have. They even have peafowl… FYI only the males are peacocks, the females are peahens, and when they are together peafowl. There’s your learning lesson for the day!
We then headed to McCook for the night. The next day we had a baby shower for my sister-in-law.
The Roshone siblings are having a banner year- three babies, all boys, within two months of each other, almost.
That’s a lot of blue… or in our case green*… clothes, blankets, and so on.
*I like green…I wear green for work…the bridal party colors were green; we did the accent wall in the nursery in green…. I might have issues.
I just feel so exhausted right now- which is, according to the books, normal. I felt bad at the baby shower because my feet were swollen, and I just sat around a lot- and at one point dozed off in my chair.
I’m now at week 36… I can no longer see my toes and bending over is a chore. Sleep is golden when you can get it and Hunter is using my lungs as a trampoline–the bladder as a speed bag.
Wade finally got to see Hunter moving his feet against my stomach… it reminded him of alien… he said he would see me in 18 years. He’s not as funny as he thinks he is…
We’re in the home stretch though!
We’ve been reviewing the books and prenatal classes.
Learning how to swaddle.
Trying to find cute little baby hiking boots.
In daddies’ case, cute little work boots to match the Carhart overalls he got for him…
One, my sister, P.J. flew up for the weekend- I wish I could have kidnapped her and kept her up here for a few more days… or a month…or a year…
Two, we had to pack a lot of stuff into mainly one day… I need more sleep and my poor feet are swollen- nearly three days later…
But it was worth it!
She is the best big sister in the whole world! Not going to lie I needed a girl’s day with my sister- between the pregnancy, lingering SAD symptoms, and Covid my mental health was blah at best. I wasn’t as bad as I was during the shutdown, but I needed a “break.” She helped break me out of my funk and we had a little fun- plus, she didn’t treat me like glass.
The best thing about living in rural Nebraska is that you’re two-three hours away from everything. The bad thing about living in rural Nebraska is you’re two-three hours away from everything.
PJ’s flight came into Grand Island at 10:30…pm. Three and a half hours away from Valentine.
I had a nice sunset drive going down part of the way. Then I was driving into the dark which night driving never really bothered me. However, with pregnancy I have to stop every five minutes, it felt like, to walk around, wake up, and go to the bathroom.
But we timed it well, I pulled in on the airport road as her flight was landing and was pulling into the airport terminal while they were taxiing. Originally, I was just going to wait for her outside in the idle lane, but Hunter was excited and bouncing on my bladder…
So, after a quick circle and finding a parking spot I ran inside. Well, waddled inside- my eyes zeroing in on the bathrooms. I saw PJ but I was on a beeline. She thought it was funny and met me right at the doors to the bathroom.
We hugged after we got back outside.
Then food! Late night drive throughs are awesome, and we got to chat and catch up in the parking lot of Raising Cane’s. New car didn’t want to eat in it- I’m weird I know…
A late-night drive through the Sandhills was fun- we stayed awake and somehow, I made it without needing a bathroom, lol.
We got to Valentine at 3 a.m.–we stumbled in and went to bed after saying we’re getting up at ten to go exploring.
Surprisingly, we did get up at ten, we had breakfast, and then the exploring began.
Snice it was a short trip I decided to show her the highlights along the Niobrara National Scenic River. We drove out to the Niobrara Valley Preserve to check out the Norden Chute. It’s one of my favorite places and the drive along the river valley kind of reminds me of home.
We hopped out of the car and meandered down to the river and took the trail that leads to the chute. It’s a little steep heading off the parking area down to the river side trail. PJ said to “be careful if you fall and go into labor I don’t know where I am, nor how to deliver a baby.”
So, she did treat me a little like glass, but she didn’t harp on it…
I was there in June- the water has dropped a lot. Which is normal but still noteworthy.
I apparently make people worry- I walked up to the edge to get some photos and my sister is like… “You’re going to die!”
Well, not that dramatic but she still was like move back this way…
I wandered into the water which felt good on my footsies. Yes, I say footsies.
We spent a little while taking photos- even photos of each other…
We hoped in the car and went up River Road- it was fun showing my sister where I usually spend most of my time in the summer. She’s visited before but in the winter and a lot of the locations are inaccessible during that time.
I actually convinced her to come back (hopefully next summer) with the kids for a float trip! I’m happy about that.
We made a bathroom pit stop at Brewer Bridge. Then headed to Smith Falls State Park.
Smith Falls State Park is home to the tallest waterfall in the state of Nebraska and is on the banks of the Niobrara River. We made the one-mile trek to the waterfall. Since it was a Saturday, I warned her that there might be some… inebriated… people around. But we hit it in the late afternoon and the crowds weren’t too crazy.
It was a hot walk.
By the time we hit the slot canyon the temperature decrease felt good. One of the best things about the Niobrara River Valley is the hydrology and geology. Because of the geology, the Ogallala Aquifer is near the surface and there are places where it seeps out creating waterfalls. Since, the water is mainly from underground it stays around 50 degrees- even in the summer. So, the waterfalls and side creeks are gloriously cold!
My hot, cranky, and pregnant self loved that the temperature dropped. I was ecstatic when we got to the waterfall and I could put my poor swollen feet in the water. I just wished I had brought a change of clothes or a towel because I wanted to crawl under the waterfall for a little while and just chill. Best perk of my job during the hotter months.
PJ thought it was cool! And cold…
All too soon we were heading back to the vehicle; luckily, I have awesome a/c.
The original plan was to stop at the Fort Niobrara NWR upper overlook and then head on to the house for dinner–then head back to the lower part of the refuge after dinner. However, the truck ahead of us had some interesting characters… that seemed to be inebriated… or at least the guys in the back seat who was poking his upper body through the back window and digging in the cooler and waving at us while the driver slowed down… they turned off so we decided to head on to town and walk the dog before dinner.
We made a good call.
After the dog was walked, we headed to one of our local restaurants- Peppermill. It was really good, and Wade met us there for dinner.
Afterwards, I dragged him out to the refuge for maternity photos– he hates getting his photo taken but since PJ encouraged him to tickle me, he was a good sport about doing it.
PJ got to do my makeup and hair which made her happy- she does a great job. I think she would make a great makeup artist if she wanted too!
I was so happy to be home- my feet and legs were swollen. I propped them up with a big glass of sweet tea and we decided to break the news to my mom that PJ came up.
My parents are older and don’t travel as much–especially with a pandemic. However, mom wanted to see me pregnant and all, so we felt bad that PJ flew up. It’s easier for PJ to fly out of Dallas since she lives in the metro area, like me the parents live several hours from an airport.
Once she realized who was on the phone… apparently, we sound alike… she wasn’t too upset. An hour later we were finally off the phone and popping popcorn!
We then binged watched Grimm until late in the morning. We also said we’d get up at 8 and hit a few of the last spots before taking her to the airport in Grand Island….
Wade and PJ were up at eight… I was unconscious until like nine…thirty.
So, we had to amend our mornings activities.
We hit up the Cowboy Trail Bridge- I about died. It was weird normally the mile hike out and back doesn’t bother me, but I was sweating, hot, and cranky by the time we got to the middle of the bridge. But it was worth showing it to my sister- she liked it. I wound up getting mad the last little bit of the trail and speed walking to get to the car so I could get tissues and Wet Ones to wipe the sweat out of my eyes and clean up my face. Plus, down a bottle of Gatorade.
Looking back, I think I pushed it the day before and even that morning–I don’t want to hold back but the baby does put a lot of stress on the body and I’m 35 weeks. Hence why it’s three days later and I’m still recovering.
Then it was the long drive to Grand Island- we did stop for lunch which took a little longer than we thought… well the trip out to the bridge and actually stopping for lunch took a little longer than we thought it would.
We also–Wade and I– thought that the drive was only three hours (Wade) and the flight was at 3:15 (me).
PJ was in the back seat…. uhm… my flight is at 3:01…
“It only takes three hours- at this point in Broken Bow we can make it in two, so you’ll have thirty minutes.”
I am checking the driving time on my phone…
“This says we’ll get there as the flight is taking off…”
Que panicked mode.
Wade might have exceeded the speeding limit a time or two, but we made it with twenty minutes for PJ to get through security and board.
I love that Grand Island is a small regional airport with two gates. Plus, the security line isn’t crazy and the one benefit of Covid-19 only “x” number of passengers on the flight.
Because of the panicked running we didn’t have a tearful goodbye- although, after she was through security and waiting to board, we stared at each other through the glass and texted how the weekend was too short and that I should have just kidnapped her.
Ten minutes after getting into the terminal they started boarding- fifteen minutes she was in line and going through the gangway.
Wade and I watched her plane taxi off, get clearance, and hit the sky.
She was home nearly an hour and a half later.
We were still driving.
P.S. I get to see her again in about a month!
P.S.S. We made it home before the sunset and had a nice walk with the dog.
The doctor appointment went well but we didn’t leave as early as we would have liked going to North Platte and then we didn’t leave North Platte until almost six and I had a dog that practically ran me over to get outside when we got home.
So, there was no stopping at Thedford or the Valentine NWR this week. Luckily, the art gallery is going to hold onto my pictures, and they signed me up to sell on commission there… I’ll see if my photography is good enough to sale. Exciting.
This week is going to be work and reading heavy I’m afraid…
Other than when I’m hanging out watching Ultimate Frisbee- then I’ll be taking some photos or falling asleep in my awesome lawn chair!
But my weekend is going to be fun- I have a surprise visitor that is going to do some local adventures with me!
No, it will not be an early delivery lol. Sorry friends and family that keep making cracks about how it’s twins or I’ll be giving birth early- the doctor said I’m on track for a late September date, as expected.
Since it looks like my adventures are coming to a middle for the time being how about we change it up a little more. I showed my stack of books on hiking and adventure last time. How about I toss in a review of the books I’m reading?
At least this way I can feel productive and still talk about hiking (and river adventures)!
I’ll probably do them as a separate post that starts with “Book Review:…”
**Due to some whacky planning, I’m taking a couple of grad classes in history during this time period too… however, I doubt you all want to hear about early colonial America or the Age of Enlightenment so I will try to not to get the book reviews confused…**
Heck, I might even reformat my blog and play around with other themes.
Reinvention is important in this day in age!
In other news, I’m working with my dad to republish a book he wrote in 1970 about a hunting dog in the Ozarks. It’s great to collaborate with him on stuff like this- I’m hoping we can do more things in the future!
I’m also being horrible and putting the Baby Wipes and Day Hikes behind a paywall…
I decided since I probably will be backing off on some of my other jobs, but still need to fund Hunter and I’s hikes, I would just put that page behind a monthly $5 fee.
I was just going to do a tip jar but unless you fork out almost $300 for a business plan you can’t use that plugin… If I get some more traffic/followers and some of my other ideas pan out I might change the format to the tip jar but for now, I’ll just stick with Stripe and the $5 subscription. I might also switch to $15 a year- which puts the monthly price at $1.25.
I might do a poll in a later post to see what people think…
I will be putting highlight or blurb whenever I make a new post on the Baby Wipes and Day Hikes in my “main” blog so you can decide if you want to read more/subscribe.
P.S. Milk gives me heartburn…but Hunter still craves it…
Yeah…after that nine-day work week my weekend consisted of me doing laundry (only productive thing I did) and eating Oreos on the couch…
Oh, and walking the dog.
I’m turning into a boring person.
It’s just not the same as going somewhere for a hike.
However, I did read a wonderful book on hiking… Dances with Marmots- A Pacific Crest Trail Adventure by George Spearing
I have a friend on social media that got out and was hiking some mountains in Japan; now I’m itching to go somewhere and climb a mountain. However, between the Covid-19 restrictions and lung kicking that’s not going to happen- so, I’m drooling over his photos and jealous. Thanks @bnheise
Sadly, the closer I get to the due date the less my doctors seem to want me to do anything- I understand why but it’s sending me into a funk. Plus, with the extra weight and the whole growing a small human the heat of summer is getting to me- it’s making me cranky.
**plan any future children to be carried to term during the winter… the internal heater will be nice.
So, more sitting in the A/C and reading books on other people’s adventures. Some are re-reads. Nothing, wrong with that but there goes my winter reading list… although, this year I will have a new buddy to spend the winter with.
I’m back to my normal grind and have an upcoming weekend- I’m hoping to do something this “weekend.” I do have a doctor’s appointment in North Platte this week and I will be going by the Valentine NWR. I might take a little time and wander there…
This was the week I had my days off moved around. I’m working a nine day stretch and other than walking the dog I haven’t been doing much… I’m on day 7.
So, I’m not sure if my brain is fuzzy because of baby brain or the long work week…
But on the cool and fun front, I now have a weekend day off with the hubby coming up for the rest of the summer season- so maybe we can go do some small adventures together or do a babymoon before Sept. 29th!
I’m hoping we do something involving water because I’ve heard its great way to “feel” weightless while pregnant. Right now, anything thing that will help take the weight, pressure, and relieve the spreading of my pelvis sounds nice. However, we’re probably going to work on all the baby stuff we keep procrastinating on, like the nursery.
Normally, I do the adventures on my own (weekend vs. weekdays off conflict in the summer) but he’s been worried about me going off and doing my own thing at 7 months pregnant… or 5… or 2… he’s cute and a worrywart. Plus, with all the closures with Covid-19 this has been a slow hiking year for me.
So, while it’s been a rough year, I’m hoping to do some stuff before the baby comes because I’ll be in mommy mode in the fall, which I’m excited about. I’m also hoping to do some small momma and baby hikes to check out some gear and introduce my little one to the trail- we might take daddy along too. We’ll see how it goes.
Since my adventures…and time off… will be limited for the next few days. I’ve been reading, watching shows (I feel like tv is rotting my brain), taking photos, and writing. Hopefully, I’ll have some more content for my poetry Instagram soon.
I did talk the husband into taking the dog out to the refuge the night before last for a longer walk- mainly because I’m getting bored walking our normal route. We drove through the refuge looking for “my” badger before heading up to the upper overlook to walk the dog.
Usually, there are only a few people and they stick to the two overlooks that are paved and sort of maintained. Wade worrying about my balance and not wanting me to stress walking on uneven ground (the man thinks I’m made of glass sometimes) decided we’d just stick to walking around the prairie and not walk down the non-existent trail that follows the ridge line to a rocky out cropping that reminds me, kinda, of home. It overlooks a bend in the river- between that, the rocks, and the smell of pine it alleviates the homesickness.
*So, does walking straight up a hill through sumac on a hot day- that was work related (at least they don’t think I’m made of glass) and it was the shortest way back to the truck. I can safely say that little adventure two weeks ago cured some lingering homesickness I had to experiencing an Ozark summer for a while. The view was great though. *
I’ve also spent the last two nights trying to take photos of the moon- I have a long way to go- here are some of the more successful shots. I like a challenge and I will figure out how to stack photos to create a cool landscape with the moon overlooking it all- it just might take me years to figure out, lol.
I’ve also spent some time cleaning up my office- between working from home earlier this year (darn corona) and deciding to reorganize to make it more efficient it turned into a disaster zone. I did find my planning folder and maps for an overnight backpacking trip in Badlands I was working on back in January. Before corona and before finding out I was pregnant I had planned on doing the trip in April. I might adjust it for next spring and see if Wade will be up for solo baby duty for a night…
Maybe by then I will have more knowledge of nighttime photography and I will be able to get some great star shots over Badlands… we’ll see.
P.S. decaffeinated coffee and tea doesn’t make me nice in the mornings, my poor co-workers/husband…
P.S.S. the photo is from 31 weeks, as of 8/4/20 I’m now 32 weeks and I feel as big as a house some days…
After the “big” trip to Wildcat Hills… if you can call two days a big trip. It was back to the normal day to day show; with a few highlights!
The baby shower was a blast! The theme was on point for me- camping/outdoors stuff! I loved the snack table and there was some adorable decorations! I have so many boxes of baby wipes…
The punch and cupcakes were my favorite lol- I’m glad some of my peeps were able to make it in person but the Zoom call with family and friends spread out over the US was awesome too.
Since I’m now at 30 weeks I’ve had to cut back on a lot- my doctors don’t want me spending massive amounts of time out in the heat. Plus, they want me to cut back on carbs… potatoes, pancakes, cake- the good stuff that makes me happy. And due to some questionable swelling with my legs they don’t want me taking super long walks…or hikes…
Which means it’s walks around the neighborhood with the dog and short day hikes…
More on that in a minute. Let’s catch up for a second…
In order to stave off the boredom and still get out and explore I’ve been playing around with photography more. I’ve been working on getting lightning strike photos and nighttime shots- I missed out on the comet though…
It’s a work in progress but I’m liking that I’m keeping busy with something. I haven’t had the “nesting” phase of pregnancy and Wade has been procrastinating with getting the nursery painted and fixed up… we should probably work on that stuff…
However, Princess will be very happy once the thunderstorms stop for the year. She’s not tolerating the sound anymore and we have to hang out in the basement with her… otherwise she dives into Wade’s clean clothes or under my side of the bed. Her Thunder Shirt helpes though!
I’ve also started writing more…on everything except this blog lol… but I’m hoping to fix that. I might branch out to some other topics- including hiking with a baby which I might create a page set of just “Baby Wipes and Day Hikes” posts.
I’ve also binged watched some shows and movies- the Old Guard is amazing!
It’s been a bit of blah couple weeks honestly. I need to get out and do stuff but pretty much any time I sit still for longer than five minutes without something to engage me- I fall asleep. However… I don’t stay asleep not like this crew…
My plan for my days off this week was to head out to Norden Chute and the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge but Monday I woke up ate a bowl of Cheerios and promptly fell asleep again…luckily the cat didn’t knock my coffee over like she did the last time. Tuesday wasn’t much better, but I did get laundry done!
So… it’s been mainly the walks with the dog and a few hikes out at the Fort Niobrara NWR; where I got my lightening photos… this was kind of a boring hiking talk… the dog is happy though.
I’m hoping to have a new adventure or at least something actually hiking related in the coming weeks- even an exciting dog walking adventure would be nice to write about…
Wait…is it a pun? *shakes head in confusion, looks up puns, still unsure, continues to write anyways without finding out for sure if it is a pun*
Honestly, Nebraska gets a bad rap. Before I came here for a job in 2014, I was one of those people that thought it was flat, corn, and interstate. Then I accepted a seasonal job on the Niobrara National Scenic River and learned that I-80 might resemble my preconceived notions, but north central Nebraska shattered the illusion that the whole state was flat cornfields.
Yes, corn is grown throughout the state but it’s not “flat.” Now, as a former ridge runner from the Ozarks there is not enough trees or hills to truly remind me of home, or remove the idea of “flat” totally, but there are places where I can find “wild” country and it makes me happy. By “wild” country I mean bluffs, ridges, hills, etc.
It’s different but there is “wild” country to explore, especially in north central and western Nebraska.
There are Sandhills, sand dunes anchored by Sandhills/mixed grass prairie, the dunes were formed by winds blowing loose sand deposits from retreating glaciers during the last Ice Age. These rolling hills are an ecological wonder leading to north central Nebraska where north, south, east, and west species meet in a crossroads formed by the 100th meridian (w). The Niobrara River is also different from other rivers in Nebraska, at least the section that was deemed scenic in 1991. The geologic history is interesting, deposition began around 98 million years ago, when it was covered by a shallow sea. Overtime the river canyon developed creating microclimates that still exist to this day- although, if conditions continue to change the hybrid aspen and paper birch trees will die out. Other rivers in the area are similar but down south the rivers are “flat” and braid out more- which so does the eastern section of the Niobrara. I might talk more about the Niobrara River Valley and floating at a later date- right now it sounds to much like my day job and I don’t want to think about work.
The same Sandhills also lead you west to a different type of “wild.” Massive bluffs and interesting rock formations rise out of the rolling Sandhills as you travel west on Highway 2 or 20. Let’s see how many people paid attention in history class back in the day? What were the biggest markers on the Oregon Trail in western Nebraska?
*…music to favorite trivia game show…*
Did you guess Chimney Rock and Scott’s Bluff?
You are correct!
I had been out to Scott’s Bluff before but wanted to go again for a more relaxed trip. My first time out there we only had one day; we packed in Scott’s Bluff National Monument, Agate Fossil Beds, and Fort Robinson State Park with some co-workers and friends. It was a whirlwind trip and I might do a flashback post about it at some point.
However, this trip was a camping trip with my awesome husband Wade.
Due to a series of unfortunate events I didn’t get much time off last year, then Covid at the beginning of this year…so I didn’t get any camping done in the last year and a half.
A year and a half.
It was starting to get to me.
Originally, I was planning on doing a last hooray pre-baby trip in September…which is when I’m due…
Wade gave me a look when I mentioned that and said “did you think that through considering…” He then gave me a panicked look because I’ve been carrying “big” for most of the pregnancy and I figured he was going to say something along the lines “you’ll be as big a house…”
He would have said it lovingly- and I really can’t fault him for saying it because I had already said it a couple of times.
“Well, since I work weekends and you work weekdays, we don’t have a lot of cross over and that was when my schedule goes back to weekends off…”
I figured the trip would be shelved again until the little one was old enough for a camping trip next summer. *Need to Google when is appropriate age to take infant camping…
I got the best surprise.
My sweetheart of a hubby decided to take a couple days off during the week in order to make this camping trip happen well before I’m big, “big” and two weeks away from my due date.
I think he knew the lack of nature and camping was starting to get to me.
We decided to stay in the state of Nebraska and narrowed it down to heading up to Gavins Point Dam and doing some kayaking on the Missouri River or head west and explore the western part of the state. We wound up going with Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area so that we would only be a couple of hours (if Wade was driving, less) from my doctor in case anything went wrong.
Missouri National Recreation River, I will one day explore your banks and paddle the Missouri… maybe with a mini-me!
I scoped out the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission page to look for some campgrounds. I looked pretty hard at Chadron and Fort Robinson State Parks because I’ve been interested in exploring them some more but with the Covid-19, and people, I wanted something that wouldn’t be a high tourist destination.
Don’t get me wrong, I like people- whole career is based around liking and talking to people but I’m peopled out by this point in the summer usually…
I found Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area after looking at Chadron SP and from the photos on the state G&P site it seemed… less traveled than other places in the region.
We had our location, we had our days lined up, all that was left was packing up and heading out.
I took off a little early on a Sunday (my Friday) so that we could make the best of the “weekend”- plus get back in time so we could unload, do laundry, and I could attend a EMS training.
Getting loaded and sorting only took a little chunk of the afternoon- most of my camping gear is stored in totes for ease of traveling from when I was a seasonal employee. The rest we keep in our basement closet- again really easy to access. I have a lot of stuff that I’ve accumulated over the years- plus from my Carin box…I need to re-subscribe to that at some point- they have lots of cool stuff… In Wade’s opinion I have way too much gear and I should downsize (I agree a little bit). I think he has to much gaming equipment… I believe we are at a stalemate for the time being.
We checked the cat’s automatic feeder, made sure we had plenty of water, and loaded my original hiking partner- Princess- into the car and headed for the store.
This would also be the maiden voyage of my new Subaru! I needed a new car; my old ride Samson the Ford Focus wasn’t holding up to the Nebraska winters (all wheel drive is a blessing) and it wasn’t really “family friendly.” I refused to get a mini-van (see all wheel drive comment) and we decided on an Ascent- perfect for hauling all the little goblins around or taking the family camping!
I never thought pregnancy brain was a “thing” or if it was it was exaggerated a great deal. After becoming pregnant I’ve hilariously learned differently. I was driving and said we will stop at the store going out of town… go through the stop light just cruising along…
“So…we’re going to get food in Chadron then?”
“OH!” Barely flashes turn signal before making a right turn on the street after the store that has access…
Wade has a cute smile…and now a little whiplash.
I have never been so forgetful in my life.
We picked up what we needed and then headed west!
I probably should have just let Wade drive…but it was my car. We made it about an hour and a half, and I needed a nap. Lmao.
I’ve also never been much of a “hard core napper” but little Hunter takes a lot out of me.
We drove into the sunset…and a small storm… my poor dog was terrified. Wade pointed out the famous Carhenge- apparently a Nebraska staple outside of Alliance. Since the weather might be a problem we didn’t swing in and check it out- but we did decide to hit it up on the way back to Valentine.
Luckily, the storm cleared as we drove into the Gering/Scottsbluff area. Scotts Bluff and the surrounding geology rose out distance.
We drove past Scotts Bluff on the way out to Wildcat Hills SRA and we talked about when we should check it out- since of Covid-19 they have limited hours you can go up on top. Finally, we pulled into the kiosk to register for camping…and my next moment of pregnancy brain became apparent. I only brought big bills… and we needed two bucks to cover the camping and vehicle fee for Nebraska State Parks. Considering I spend most of my day telling folks how much the vehicle fee is for state parks you might have thought I would have remembered that little fact…
I also had to pee like a racehorse. Aww, the joys of pregnancy- I would spend a lot this trip walking to and from the restrooms. They were nice (primitive) bathrooms. Plus wildlife…
We had to run back to Gering to get change, pens, and hopefully find a bathroom before Hunter kicked my bladder again. Luckily, it was less than ten miles.
I was able to find a pen and get change at the gas station, but the bathroom was occupied.
I also forgot to fill out half the form…
We stopped at Family Dollar- the ladies took pity on me and let me use the bathroom after they had already closed it for cleaning. I also bought pens.
Once back at Wildcat Hills SRA I finished the paperwork, paid, and donated a couple of pens to the state park!
Wade was impressed with the shooting range- however, it was closed during the time we were there- I appreciated the quiet but it would be fun to go with the guns and (my) bow sometime and check it out.
We picked a campsite…we could have picked any of them- hooray for working weekends and having weekdays off.
It didn’t take too long to get the camp set up, walk the dog (who was not liking the wind), and get dinner started. Wade is a professional setter upper and packer- it’s awesome. I’m not too shabby but he is awesome. By the time I was done walking the dog he was ready for me to help put the rainfly on. Once we had that done, I started playing pyromaniac in order to get dinner ready. Wade unloaded the air mattress (I didn’t think I needed it, but he was being a sweetie again) and realized he grabbed the full sized…oops. This will come back into play later.
Wade scoped out the outhouses- I’ve used a lot worse. Plus, I had a cute toad to look for when I went to the rest room. He had a prime location on the trail.
We watched a glorious sunset, but the wind was a little high. As we turned into the tent my loveable, terrified, dog dove into the sleeping bag and air mattress. My sweetheart of a husband said, “let her sleep with you tonight, I’ll take the ground- makes me wish I had realized it was the full sized earlier.”
I had a little fun getting her to squeeze over so I could lay flat, but we managed.
The next morning Wade made a delicious campfire breakfast (sausage and hash browns). It was a perfect morning, sunny, cool, and great for a hike!
One little bitty issue… the water taps in the campground were not working.
No, no- it’s a flashback to Badlands.
Hehe, not quite; we had some flavored water and Wade had a full gallon. However, we were a little worried about it for the next few days.
We decided to do the Turkey Run trail- it was the longest trail just under two miles. Wade didn’t want me to get too carried away on the trails… he also asked me if I was okay every five minutes- I decided not to throttle him because he was being sweet.
But it did get annoying.
I did have to cut back on what I normally do- and I couldn’t do Wade’s pace- nor would I want too.
Wade is a “I’m here to get it done- no photos, march,” type of hiker. However, he had to slow down because of the dog and me.
I like to take photos and wander, add in the pregnancy I plodded at best.
Luckily, between the dog and him worrying about me we managed to finish the hike without killing each other.
My feet were a little swollen- normal with pregnancy.
Once we were back in camp, we grabbed some bottled flavor water (I still like plain water), took a seat to relax for a few minutes, and decided the next step of the day. Scotts Bluff…and because I married an electrician, and we were near a larger city, – a home improvement store.
The drive up to Scotts Bluff is always amazing- it rises out of the rolling grassland to a large…bluff…so much for poetic language. I’ll be working on that.
We talked to the ranger in the information booth. Unfortunately, the visitor center was closed so I couldn’t show Wade some of the neat stuff in there. However, the grounds were open, and the trails were calling…other people.
Wade was worried that the Summit Trail would be to much for me pregnant and it was getting later in the day and hotter. He was right but I still grumbled.
It was his first time there- which is surprising since he’s from Nebraska. He had a fun time and we checked out the trail system up on top.
I always liked high places, so this was up my ally. My dog tried to jump up on the rock barrier and almost went over the edge because she wanted to see too. Wade being the big sweetie he is, picked her up so she could see too.
The view…was amazing in certain directions, I’m not a big fan of looking at cities but it was still amazing.
I found some flowers to take pictures of and some nice shots looking along the bluff.
On the drive down, Wade wanted to go zoom, zoom- he thought it would be a good road to race on… I had to remind him what my day job was…
The next stop was a late lunch- Chinese takeout was on the menu…
So fun fact- I don’t like coconut, I don’t mind the milk so much (which was the main ingredient in what I ate) but something about the texture. Anyways- I was craving coconut chicken and I gorged myself on it… I even impressed Wade.
The next stop was for Wade- at this point I was sleepy and needed to get my feet up.
I wound up falling asleep while Wade did his shopping. Luckily, the passenger seat in the Ascent lays flat. Princess got to enjoy the a/c with me and played guard dog…she would lick them to death, but she would whack me with her tail on her way.
I woke up after Wade had us back to Wildcat Hills… he wound up going to Wally World too and got a water tank so we could fill up without having to worrying getting it in the campground.
We spent the rest of the evening relaxing in camp- I read, Wade watched videos on camping trailers, and we enjoyed the breeze. I got some sunset photos and caught a couple mule deer wandering along the hillside. A buck and a doe.
I spent a few minutes trying to get some nice moon shots; I’m trying to learn new things with my camera. I like landscapes and wildlife, but I want to keep learning. So lightening, moon, and videos here I come!
Wade checked the weather while we were getting ready for bed- the dog already burrowing into her spot on the air mattress. Wind would be high, so Wade decided to let her have the bed again- I gave him a backrub when we got home to make up for it.
The wind was ridiculous; we had gusts up to 40 mph. My dog was not liking it and Wade, and I, woke up at different times throughout the night thinking the tent was going to mimic Dorothy Gale’s house. I decided to put off going to the rest room in order to keep my corner of the tent down around 2 am. I really had to go when we got up at 7. I almost ran over the dog and Wade.
Even with the wind- it was a nice morning, luckily it died down enough we were able to get the tent packed away and walk the dog without too much trouble. Again, Wade is amazing at packing a tent back into the package it came in without modifying the tent or the bag.
One last trip to the bathroom and we’re heading into town for a greasy breakfast.
We then headed to Alliance and Carhenge.
Carhenge is not quite what I was expecting. I thought it would be kitschy, but it was charming and not overtly touristy. It’s actually sculptures and artwork. I thought it was just going to be cars stacked to mimic Stonehenge but there was more to it- I really enjoyed the dinosaur. After walking around and Wade gushing over, and saddened, by the old Jeeps used to create the “henge:- I needed a bathroom again.
Sadly, I had to wait till Gordon, NE nearly an hour away.
I was seeing water at one point.
We made it- barely, lol.
All in all, it was a great trip.
P.S. I wish I had my trekking poles for some of the steeper sections of the trail but I managed!
P.P.S. I will be adding more photos… either my internet doesn’t like me or my photo files are to big and I need to render them down…
Well, there wasn’t much to write about as far as hiking goes. This winter I got sucked into my usual seasonal affective disorder (SAD) ‘meh’ phase. I find I love the snow (for the first few days) but I hate the wind and cold- then the snow becomes ridiculous. I’m short, the snow gets deep in places- even walking the dog around the local park- and Wade doesn’t want to be married to “that weird chick that wears snowshoes in town…”
I was about to the point of wearing them anyways this winter.
Overall, I still enjoy winter, but I don’t know a lot about winter weather hiking and Wade doesn’t seem to keen on going out and exploring. So, we spend a lot of time inside and I get bored and start slipping into SAD territory. I might investigate some winter outdoor groups in South Dakota, so I can learn some new skills and get out in the cold- maybe I’ll appreciate it more.
January…same as December, other than walking the dog I didn’t get out much. Although, we did do a fun work related trip at Norden and I got a cool (and cold) sunrise morning photo…
February led to some big news! We’re adding an addition to the family. Little Hunter will be here late September to join us on various adventures. Things were starting to pick up at work, but little did we know…
By March the COVID-19, or as it was then known the novel Coronavirus, became a major thing on our radar and it would curtail any plans I had for spring trips. By April I was teleworking and homebound…it was tough and did not help with the SAD going on. Although, I don’t know if it was because I was home more or I just finally noticed that the cat (Hela) became a psychotic little minion of death, she keeps trying to drown her mouse toys in the dogs water dish- AND I caught her trying to drown the dog but the size difference seems to keep that murderous intention down. Princess seems to not care for the attacks or just think she’s playing with her…
May things started to open, including work so I was busy. I did get out for some local hikes and photography- check out my Instagram, photos seem to be an easier medium for me to post regularly. Plus, learning how to do stuff while pregnant- mainly me learning limitations on doing stuff. On top of that Wade apparently thinks I’m glass now and doesn’t like for me to lift anything over ten pounds if he’s around… I feel lazy and loved 😊.
Found out it’s a little tricky to get out a canoe. Let’s leave it at I mimicked a turtle on it’s back a little bit after doing a rollout onto semi-dry land. My belly is huge and I’m only six months along! My lungs are being squished- the joys of being vertically challenged and pregnant so I sound like a freight train even on easy walks.
With all the stuff going on that was keeping me home I worked on my poetry (Instagram @priarie_river_witch) and other writings- so this blog got neglected again but I didn’t really have any hiking/backpacking/or even camping stuff to talk about. Or really any adventure other than contemplating writers block to speak of- so I didn’t want to bore anyone.
I’m going to post some more about June and a lovely adventure that my husband and I are taking for my “weekend” this coming week! I’ll hopefully have that up in a week or two…. I make no promises, lol.
What I might do, since my well-laid plans seem to get shot to hell, is start writing about the other stuff going on and sprinkle hiking and backpacking stuff in as I go. I just feel bad because the whole point of this blog is that I’m hiking and preparing for a backpacking trip. I guess the unending story of how I cannot seem to get my ducks in a row would make for a better story and make the ‘wannabe’ part more poignant. Besides, I would probably update the blog more…
Because, let’s face it when I don’t go hiking, or prepping for a trip that I don’t get to take due to my weekends being cut short, it discourages me from writing about it. Hence, why the last post was in JUNE!
I also haven’t even been camping this year.
Side note, I was planning a mini-trip last weekend but the weather decided to go nuts in the Black Hills and most of western Nebraska, the two places I planned on checking out my brain too. I should suck it up and go do stuff in the snow but I’m a wimp that doesn’t have decent winter gear.
Therefore, while I’m the Wannabe Backpacker and I wannabe out there, I’m going to change it up a little. I do not want this to turn into my rantings about why things go sideways. I’m going to be positive about it and write about the cool things going on that influence my hiking ways…or lack thereof. On the upside- my new boss is finally on board and hopefully, things get a little more settled.
*Fingers crossed for next summer*
Here is the abridged version of what is going on to get this new theme kicked off:
Summer was work, work, and more work (loved the paychecks)!
September and October have been a bit of a blur. I finally took a week off and literally did nothing but read and sleep. I needed that break far more than I realized. I did plan to go hiking and doing something fun but the couch won that battle.
Finally, I went on a trip that wasn’t work-related! Wade and I went to Omaha, NE to visit some friends; we got to go shopping, eat great food, and visited a pumpkin patch. I forgot how much I love pumpkin patches and cornfield mazes. It is the epitome of fall, plus witches and Halloween of course.
Wade with an apple cannon. It was a BLAST!
Wade of the Corn… he was trying to be creepy…
New, medical problems on the horizon- I’ll keep you’ll posted. I hope that it is something that will not require surgery.
I revisited an old friend, poetry.
As many of you probably noticed there has been an uptick in my poetry on my normal Facebook and Instagram pages. It was my go to writing form for many years and then it sort of stopped. Now, it’s trickling back and I’m having fun with it, I’m going to submit some full-length stuff to a few journals and publications and see how it goes.
I’m still taking photos.
I still plan on wandering onto a hike here soon. Maybe in Iowa… 🙂
Ugh… I did it again. I let the blog go for almost three months. I just lost motivation. I was half way through writing about my honeymoon trip and just lost it. I’ve picked that piece up and hopefully will have it out by the end of the week. I’d like to say that I was just catching up on some “me” time and was out exploring cool sites but I can’t.
I had a round with depression. It was situational, stemming from a couple factors and I’m better now.
Part of it stemmed from the shutdown, as some of you know I work for the federal government, and the scrambling involved. I wound up pulling extra shifts on my local ambulance and picked up a job waiting tables- more out of boredom than anything. I hate sitting still unless I’m trying to get a great shot or reading a good book. Still it’s a little demoralizing when people say you’re non-essential and should go look for another job, etc. etc. I love my job and the term “non-essential” just means the place won’t burn down if I’m not there.
This is one reason I didn’t get out and hike in some of the cooler places around my home- in a show of solidarity I stayed off public lands- I didn’t want to contribute to the extended workload of the poor folks who were deemed essential. I think the staying home gave me cabin fever though and contributed to my bout of depression.
On top of that we had a round with what I deemed sub-arctic weather (at least for my southern Missouri roots), it got bone-chilling cold for several days. Especially with the windchill, we were looking at -20 plus days in a row for a while. I really didn’t want to leave the house on those days. I did mainly to walk the dog but I was wearing lots of layers and I was still cold. One day my sunglasses froze over from the condensation while wearing a baklava.
Now, it’s just snowing on and off with temps above zero but I’m a wimp. Plus when the drifts are up to your thighs in places, well for me most people it might hit there knees/shins, it makes hiking in the snow without snowshoes a pain. (Come on next Christmas).
However, these two main factors mixed in with a few smaller things just messed with me mentally. I’ve always thought of myself as a happy person and thought depression would never be a problem but the stressors really affected me this time around. I didn’t want to slide any further than I did so I talked to some counselors and that helped. My husband is amazing- he let me rant about everything and told me it would be okay.
I also started working out more indoors, I have a treadmill in the basement that I got for winter days and I really put the miles on it- I also invested in a little stair stepper. I started reading all the time- which was always my go too. Or I was torturing my dog with photos. I got a new iPhone and was playing with the camera. I was coming out of my funk when we hit day 35 and I found out I would be going back to work.
“Are we good? Can I lay down now?”
“You got the damn shot, just stop already!”
I’m doing better and I’ve got my motivation back. Well, for writing and planning hikes this summer. I’m still not thrilled with the “feels like 3 degrees” days and I’ll be “patiently” counting down the days till spring. Plus the two nights waiting tables a week will help fund my “winter clothing collection” for next year…
Badlands- the name sparks curiosity. I’ve always been fascinated by the Badlands in South Dakota. The area is in many ways like a desert but its home to the United States largest protected area of mixed grass prairie. It seems devoid of life. Yet it is home to 329 animal species and over 400 plant species. The extreme temperatures, the empty feeling, and how limited water is made it a “bad lands to travel through.” I love French- American trappers, that phrase came from “les mauvais terres pour traverse,” when it comes to naming things though the Lakota had it right: “mako sica,” or “land, bad,” hence the “Badlands.”
In honor of throwback Thursday, here is a story of adventure, trial and error, and companionship.
I decided to go camping in the Badlands to kick off the end of my work season (sort of) in mid-August. Originally, it was only going to be my boyfriend (now husband- I’m working on the honeymoon blog) and myself. However, we invited some additional friends. I should have told them up front I was boring- I wanted to hike, spend time in the visitor center, drool over the paleontology lab, and listen to park rangers give programs. They were expecting more camping activities, campfires, and fun times. I really can’t blame for finding my trip planning lacking. I’m still boring, I’m just not in charge of the trips anymore…
The camping wasn’t too bad but it could have been a little more fun. Especially since you can’t have campfires in Badlands NP. I should have brought some more camping games than just a frisbee and cards. Hindsight is 20/20. We still had a lot of fun the first night- cooking, playing frisbee, and sitting around shooting the breeze. I and one of my friends went to the evening program about astronomy I think…it’s been three years…
After the program and wandering back to the campsite admiring the beautiful night sky- one thing I truly like about rural Nebraska and South Dakota, the night sky is unbelievable. We sat around the lantern playing cards and talking before we climbed into our tents. Tomorrow was going to be a big day!
Little did we know what we would be getting ourselves into…
The morning was glorious, the sun rising over the buttes and pinnacles casting marvelous shadows over the mixed grass prairie. We reconvened at the grill and picnic table to figure out where we were going to hike. Busting out the maps, guides, and other materials that I dragged along with me. We got down to business.
Since, Wade, Kris, and the others had been to various points of interest before and it was still fairly crowded at most of the shorter, more popular trails. The group decided to do the Castle Trail. In hindsight, I wished we had done the Medicine Root Loop- it was only 4 miles round trip. The Castle Trail on the other hand was 10 miles…
We thought we had planned well for it taking extra water, snacks, and other essentials. I made the dreaded mistake every hiker makes at least once- I assumed there would be water at the Fossil Exhibit Trailhead- since it was a popular place and lots of people were coming and going. This assumption would be what made me kick myself; it’s also the reason I go on long tirades about having enough water and carrying more than you need.
The hike started out pleasantly enough. We left the parking area in high spirits, signing the log book, and talking joyfully. Kris made a comparison to Lord of Rings, which got a laugh from me. It was going to be a good day.
We made it to the first grouping of pinnacles and buttes. They were so cool up close and me being drawn to heights led me to climb up to the top of one- I’m pretty sure this waste of water and energy would come back to haunt me later but it was worth it for the view.
Once I returned to the bottom, Wade was relieved- he just knew I was going to fall and break something (he does have a point, my track record with stairs hasn’t been great but I’m good on mountains, buttes, and ledges). The trail meandered around to the back side of the butte we climbed around and broke into mixed grass prairie, highlighted by blue sky.
The trail kind of followed the butte and as we came around the edge we saw Bighorn Sheep- I was in nerd heaven. Mixed grass prairie, geological formations, AND bighorn sheep, what a day! They kept a close eye on us as we made our way past them into Badlands. We would see more throughout the day.
Hiking through the open prairie broken by smaller buttes was fun, we found some cool photo opportunities as we wandering along the trail. The day was starting to heat up and I was drinking more water. As I look back at this I keep kicking myself- literally. I just knew that I would be fine with just two 32oz water bottles. I wasn’t. I should have brought double that on this hike.
Word of advice- you are essentially in a desert in Badlands National Park, it’s a dry heat, and you’re exposed to sun nearly everywhere you go. Wear appropriate clothing, carry more water than you think you will need, try not to hike at midday, and don’t assume that every popular trailhead will have water.
We stopped for lunch and water around noon we were about the trail tie in to the Medicine Root Trail. We actually debated turning around there and heading back to the parking area. We should have- it might not have turned into a trek thru Mordor if we had. We decided to tough it out and put this 10 mile trail under our belts! I will take a lot of the responsibility for this- again I based my vote on there being water at the Fossil Exhibit Trailhead and everyone agreed with me.
It started getting hotter, we were still a ways till the Fossil Exhibit area and I started rationing water- probably the best decision I had made all morning. We were still in awe of the scenery but were getting a little tired.
We came over the hill to the Fossil Exhibit and were so excited, we were halfway done and water lay ahead.
There was no water. Just a bathroom, the fossil exhibit, and a parking lot. We debated again. We decided to take a long break and head back. It would have been shorter to do that than hike the highway back to the parking lot and none of us wanted to give up and hitchhike for a ride.
Once that was established we sat down in a shady spot and relaxed. I got bored after a bit and wondering along the fossil trail reading the waysides and witnessing people trying to get photos of a rattlesnake…while screaming “There is a snake, get it away from me!” *snap, snap, snap*
All too soon we decided to get a leg up and head back. I was doing pretty well until we got the mid-point. It was really hot, we were all tired, and water was getting low. We stopped every 20 minutes or so and found shade and tried to recharge. I was limiting water but after each sip I would feel about ten times better. It was hard rationing it.
Like Kris, I made a remark about how we were now walking through Mordor- I got a tired chuckle from him, a moan and an eye roll from Wade.
Walk. Start to feel bad. Think how adventure novels never talk about how much it sucks to walk through extreme climates. Tough it out till everyone else needed to stop. Stop. Find Shade. Sip. Repeat.
I was slowing down. Wade stayed with me and once he realized I was down to one last sip, gave me his water bottle. Apparently, I was dating a camel. He took maybe three drinks and was fine (once we got back to camp with more water, I did make him drink a whole bottle full to be on the safe side).
After what seemed like forever, we were back in sight of the parking lot. That last little chunk was the worst. I was so tired, out of shape, and thirsty. I was slowing everyone else down and I hated it. I finally told them to go on ahead, get the A/C running and I would drag myself there. Wade rolled his eyes at me, sent the rest ahead, made me drink the last of his water, and walked with me to get back to the truck.
We survived walking through Mordor…
Once in the truck, we wanted water, cool air, and a place to sit for a bit. I still wanted to see the VC. We went to Ben Reifel. It’s a really nice visitor center, A/C, water bottle refill station, chairs. We were in heaven. I bored everyone walking around the exhibits and bookstore.
After an hour or so enjoying the A/C and water, we headed back to camp. I was ready to eat and go to sleep. However, the group was hot, bored, and a little tired of the Badlands. We packed up and went home. I can’t say I wasn’t unhappy about that- I was very happy to get back to my own bed with a/c and water. But I was a little sad that we wouldn’t be hitting the other shorter trails the next day like I had planned.
All in all it was a good trip, besides the lack of planning.
Since, I only live a couple hours from the Badlands I try to make it up there a few times a year. I also take extra water now!
Winter has hit Nebraska; a major winter storm blew through Saturday night. Today I spent most of the day washing laundry, catching up on emails, and finally sitting down to work on my blog. After a week of fun in the sun and a week of Thanksgiving joy, I’m ready to get back to my regular work week. Other than work I have nothing else popping up in the foreseeable future, which I’m excited about honestly.
However, I’m so tired- I think it has to do with the weather. I think nature is telling me to hibernate until winter is over. Shaking off those pessimistic thoughts, I do have some tentative winter plans in mind though; binge-watching all my favorite shows and starting a workout regimen. I need to lose about fifteen pounds if I want to be comfortable backpacking next spring. I’m going to hit Badlands as soon as the weather clears up and the snow melts. Although, I do have it on good authority I will be getting snow pants this Christmas- which means there might be a winter hike in the future…
Anyways, my plan for this post was to catch you all up on what happened during August and September.
Let me backtrack a little before this- I had been having troubles with my stomach off and on for the last two years. I changed my diet, changed it again, and swore off greasy foods. It would get better for a while but it always came back. In June it came back, worse than ever. I went into my regular doctor twice and got referred to a gastroenterologist in July. It was getting to the point I could barely eat, it was bad. I was also just drinking water at that point.
At the end of July, I went to talk to my gastroenterologist after the initial visit and testing- it was during this appointment that my previous two years of diet changes and outright stubbornness failed to change the inevitable. I had to have surgery with general anesthesia. The sooner the better, according to my doctor.
This threw a wrench into my plans, my bachelorette party was coming up right around the same time he was thinking I should have the surgery.
A weekend of friendship and hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park- I had been looking forward to it since early spring. Now, it looked like it would be canceled for the benefit of my health.
I got lucky (or unlucky depending on how you want to view it). The doctor couldn’t get me in until the Tuesday after the weekend getaway. I was still going to the Rockies. I just wouldn’t be able to eat anything tasty or imbibe any spirits- but it would still a blast.
Originally, we had planned on camping- but since I wasn’t sure if everyone would get the time off until about a month before the weekend, I lost out on getting a reserved campsite, much to the happiness of my friends and sister. I got us a lovely cabin in Estes Park. Seriously, the Stone Brook Resort is where it’s at!
After a busy week at work, finding out about the surgery, and getting tired of wedding planning I was so ready for the weekend! The misfortune struck- my sister wouldn’t be able to make it. We still had fun without her (we still love you PJ).
I drove to Denver to pick up my besties, Grace and Liz, and we headed to Estes Park. We got in late. We explored the cabin- highly amused at the Jacuzzi tub in the living room. We turned in around 2, only to get up and head out around 10ish.
After a delightful breakfast at the Mountain Home Café, we headed to Rocky Mountain National Park. It was a ten minute drive. It was beautiful.
*Parkie advice* If you go to any NPS (or other federal lands) site that charges an entrance fee, more than three or four times a year, invest in the annual pass. It’s $80 bucks up front but if you go to a park that charges a $20 entrance fee it will pay for itself fairly quickly. Besides RMNP, I use it at Badlands quite a bit. Want other options besides this pass, there is the Senior Annual Pass $20, Senior Lifetime Pass $80, and Access Pass (free disability). Plus if you are current US Military you can get the annual pass free for you and your dependents. If you like volunteering and are close to a federal site (National Park Service, US Fish and Wildlife Service, etc.) if you contribute 250 or more hours you get one for free (I did that a couple of times!) Finally, if you have a 4th grader, they also get a free annual pass with a valid printed voucher from Every Kid in a Park website. You can buy them at most federal sites or online for an additional handling fee. For more information go to https://store.usgs.gov/pass
We spent a little time at the Fall River Visitor Center, looking over the exhibits, talking to the volunteers and staff, and doing a little shopping- in my case buying books, everyone else water bottles (they forgot to bring one and I’m a stickler for hydration, especially at altitude.
Since we had limited time and various fitness levels we decided to stick with day hikes, we picked the Bear Lake Area. As well drove through the park to get to Bear Lake we were in awe of the mountains. We pulled over and stopped for photos quite a bit before we made it the lower/bus parking area.
Do you see the wolf?
How about now?
Word of advice Bear Lake is super busy- unless you’re planning on being there at 5 am or after 6 pm, use the bus and park away from the actual area. It will still be crowded but at least parking is easier. The bus is free of charge.
We got there around one pm- it was busy. People everywhere…around Bear Lake. We decided to check out the left hand path instead of going to Bear Lake. We only made it to Dream Lake- taking into account our time limit (only drawback to taking the bus) and as previously mentioned skill level.
Hiking up from Bear Lake we passed Nymph Lake- again since it was fairly close to the trailhead it was slightly crowded. Making the elk cow grazing near the water’s edge a commodity that people wanted to be photographed with. Luckily, she didn’t seem to mind until people starting yelling at her to look up- then she wandered into the forest.
Most people didn’t go pass Nymph Lake. For the most part we had the trail heading up to Dream Lake to ourselves. Passing various visitors and rock bouldering enthusiasts carrying their mats. It was after about the third group of bouldering folks passed us and another group that someone asked why they were carrying mats. I grew up bouldering without the mats but now that I’m older and looking at getting back into it the mats look nice. Since I had the background knowledge, I was able to provide an answer and for the next mile I was the other group’s tour guide…
They stopped and turned around at a high point before the trail plateaus off for Dream Lake. We paused for a few moments to take some photos before heading on to Dream Lake. I really enjoyed the area just before we go to the lake, it was a beautiful little area with a babbling brook trickling through.
Dream Lake was memorable, mountain tops in the distance (I believe we were looking at Flattop Mtn.), high ridges surrounding us, and very few people. By this point, the folks passing us were speed hiking to Emerald Lake or heading back down to Bear Lake. We spent a little time taking photos before starting back down ourselves. I wish we had gotten there earlier in the day so I didn’t have sun flare in the photos.
We made it about halfway down before the ravenous hunger set in- we started talking about what we wanted to eat. I about cried a little bit because all I wanted was a cheeseburger, fires, and apple pie but my stomach wouldn’t be able to handle all the greasy goodness.
Before leaving the area we decided to check out Bear Lake- by this point there wasn’t very many people hanging out there. It’s also very pretty.
Although, we had talked about going by the store and getting stuff for dinner- none of us wanted to cook and the closest restaurant was the Trailhead Restaurant.
At this point, I decided to get one last meal regardless of my stomachs ability to handle it- I was having surgery in three days and I didn’t want my (possible) last meal to be a salad with not dressing.
I got the Trailhead Buffalo Burger. It. Was. Amazing. I don’t know if it was the lean meat type, fate smiling on me, or what but I didn’t have any upset stomach problems after the fact and was able to have a glass of wine with my besties!
Relaxing in the cabin
Relaxing in the cabin! I had that class of wine in the Jacuzzi tub (I was wearing a bathing suit).
The next day we headed out to explore Estes Park a little more- having breakfast at the Mountain Home Café again. Then wondering around seeing the sites, did a little shopping, and driving by the epic hotel from the Shining.
Since I have smart friends, we had most of the day to kill and we went to Boulder. Free parking on the weekends, score! Boulder is a lovely town, my favorite store was the Boulder Book Store (who would have guessed?), followed by the Savannah Bee Company. Love me some honey, plus I’m a big fan of their Save the Bees campaign. Check out the Bee Cause Project at http://thebeecause.org/
All too soon we had to head south, Grace and Liz’s flights would be leaving that evening and I needed to head back to prepare for surgery.
After a lot of hugs, we were all on our way. Well I was on my way, Grace and Liz would have some downtime at the airport before their flights would actually leave.
It was a six hour drive for me and when I got home I was exhausted. My fiancée, Wade, was happy to see me and cooked me dinner (and kept it warm for me) making a perfect midnight snack.
It was a wanderful trip!
Lead up to Gallbladder Surgery:
The next day, I cleaned the house up, did all my laundry, made sure my will was up to date and got ready for the surgery.
Now, when I had the appointment to talk about options and we decided on surgery. I asked if I could be awake during the surgery. The doctor thought I was joking. I wasn’t. Hence my making sure the will was up to date. Wade thought I was overthinking it- I was but hey we all have issues with certain things- mines being knocked out and cut open.
Wade and I decided to stay the night in North Platte where my surgery was taking place. I being the overthinking, overachiever showered three times using Dial soap (twice the night before and once the morning of). I went into the hospital at 5:30 am, took me back around 6 to do all the prep. The poor nurse had a hard time getting the IV in and had to call back up. My surgeon came by to check on me and let me know some of the after effects of the surgery would be- mainly air bubbles. Around 7:30 the anesthesiologist came to talk to me and Wade.
After hearing the plan, I told her not to tell me when they gave me the shot.
The nurse came back a little while later with my shot of antibiotics (and the happy shot) the world go a little hazy after that.
Other than hearing the nurse telling Wade he should give me a kiss before they take me back I have no idea what happened until I started waking up in recovery to the worse pain ever.
A darn air bubble in my shoulder of all places.
That kind of surprised the nurse but it wasn’t uncommon; she thought the surgery site would be bothering me more since my gallbladder was twice the normal size and they had to widen the top incision a little more. Really the incisions didn’t bother me until I had to sit up on the couch at home or if I wore pants with a belt (like I have to do for work).
I was still on the gallbladder diet- no grease, no apples or pears (I was so sad), or any tasty food for a few weeks.
My recovery went really well. I’m now able to eat some of my old favorites (apples and pears) and I’m working back up to adding some of the tasty stuff like deep fried chicken back into my diet. I have four scars from the incisions, three on my right side in a diagonal line and one in my belly button. I look like I was in a knife fight with an OCD person.
Since I was laid up for a while I got to looking at dehydrated foods for backpacking. I’m looking at building a menu of foods for backpacking that go along with the gallbladder diet (or the no- gallbladder diet at this point). If you have some recipe ideas let me know!
Two days after my surgery on Friday another exciting event happened. My braces came off! After nearly two years of orthodontic work I now have a fairly straight smile compared to what I use to have. My original plan to celebrate the braces coming off was a big bag of popcorn, due to the surgery I had to settle for soup…
Once I returned to work I found out my boss (the best boss ever) would be leaving for a new job near her fiancee- I can’t blame her but I cried. It got busy at work, since I was going to be taking off a lot of time in October and November. Pretty much all my time was spent in the office or thinking about stuff in the office. It’s finally starting to slow down and kind of return to normal.