I haven’t posted in the last few days– holidays, weddings, and driving through a winter storm had my attention focused elsewhere.
I’ve also been working on finishing up a couple of books for the Pennington Book Project, Perry the Pet Pig and the Barely Revised Edition of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways book. I’m hoping to drop those in January. I originally wanted to get the Barely Revised Edition out on August 27 last year but life happens. I’m happier with the edition but it’s not updated enough in my mind.
Once I have all of Grandma’s books re-published I’ll revisit it. I plan on fully updating it and including some of my favorite spots and float trips. I’m also planning a few canoe trips to get content for the book as well. Now, I have to go update the JP Brand Books site… I might not post for a week because between the Pennington Book Project, content creation for both this blog and JP, working on some other stuff… *side-eye to pen name*, and now the amount of time I spend on computers at my day job I totally wish Y2K had happened.
That’s a joke! Although, all the IT stuff I’m handling does make me long for a sledgehammer sometimes.
I do feel a bit overwhelmed with everything but I’m breaking up my schedule so that I don’t hit a wall and decide not to do anything. Plus, it’s winter time and I’m spending my evenings at home. That means I have time to write, plot, and plan. Unless, I get sucked down a documentary wormhole… I do recommend the Von Dutch documentary on Hulu…
However, I do need to go revisit my Prairie River Witch poetry stuff and make a new series. That’s gone by the wayside– again following that ADHD inspired chaos. I also need to plan out some photography jaunts as well.
I did have an art exhibit with our local art guild for the month of December. I got to combine some of my wandering photos with some of my poetry it was a fun event. I might do a series about winter on the prairie– get out with my snow shoes…
I’ve started getting focused on getting in shape…once all of Wade’s Oreo balls are out of the house.
I missed out on doing a first day hike but I’m thinking this weekend I might get out and about!
I respect those that go out and do it– safely. However, after scrolling various social media channels there are a lot of folks that don’t.
You can do it safely. Hike in pairs or have a detailed plan outlining your stops etc. left with a family member or ranger station, have the appropriate gear (my problem), have back up gear, and a warming system.*
Where I grew up, I hiked more in the winter but most of the time it never dipped below the mid-twenties and all my gear worked well. Side note, it was a “wet” cold because of the humidity so it could get chilly and when you’re wet and chilly you can get miserable.
Now, I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum. “Dry” cold, wind chill, and low numbers. I never thought I would get to a day when I thought 1 degree was warm but after experiencing a couple -20 days in a row, I can say that 1 degree is pleasant.
However, I’m weak and I don’t want to do a multiday trip in such weather. Especially, sleep and then get up and hike in Sub-Zero’s closet. I’ll gladly admit I’m weak. I wannabe warm, drinking hot cocoa, and snuggled into my couch when those numbers dip below 20 degree. But I will canoe in it… go figure that one out…
I do day hikes when possible in the winter. I think it’s beautiful and knowing I’ll be out of the cold before it gets really “cold” makes the trip better.
Yet, I do have the itch to get out for a longer stretch and camp. I’ve been looking at some places nearby where I can do an overnight. But, I do have to coordinate with my better half on when I do this so that little man isn’t neglected. Wade also worries about me doing stuff by myself– it’s almost like I didn’t make it 26 years on my own. He means well though.
I do think it would be cool to get some snowy sunrise shots though. I might do a trip in Badlands (it’s warmer).
Things to remember or blend in with your trip planning for winter hikes:
Ice cleats and trekking poles. This was a life changer, I really used them on my February trip to Indian Gardens in the Grand Canyon. However, since then I love them just booking around the local trails in winter. Even though I live in Nebraska were it’s “somewhat” flat– they are still handy when hiking the river canyon.
Sleeping bag liner— this was the best thing when I hiked the Grand Canyon. It really does aid in heat retention.
Gravity water purification system. It will save your hands. Or use iodine tablets.
Quality mittens, wool snuggly socks, and gaiters– if your hands and feet are cold the trip will suck.
Tent and sleeping pad, make sure you have the tent outfitted for cold weather. If you are hiking in extreme cold, go with a four season tent. Also a good R value on your sleeping pad will assist in retaining heat while you sleep. 3.5, or in my case a 4, will make the night bearable in cold snowy temps.
Have a detailed itinerary– leave it with a family member, ranger, or someone you trust.
Plan on it taking longer than your average summer hike. Shorter days, snow pack, and freak snow squalls can add time. Plan on shorter trips in areas you know.
Pack extra food– you’ll be burning calories just trying to stay warm.
Pack extra clothes in case you wind up soaking due to an unfortunate event or because it drops into colder temps than expected.
Make sure you are drinking water– you can still become dehydrated even in cold conditions. Hot tea is the best.
Finally, check the weather. If a front is moving in, move your plan to the back yard.
Get out and enjoy the cold if that’s your thing but do it safely so us EMS folks don’t have to get out in the weather too– I mean we will because that’s what we do.
I’m now expanding my winter weather hiking equipment and I’m willing to experiment and go hike in my “new” locale. I still don’t want to go when it dips below zero though…
P.S. Pack more snacks than normal– then double it.
Scottsbluff— Chimney Rock, learned about them in 5th grade but it wasn’t until I headed to Nebraska in 2014 I heard about Agate. Even then I didn’t make it over there…
But I planned time to go the next year. A co-worker and I both had a day off together and decided to make a day trip over.
Agate is perfect for folks that love the prairie, paleo, and rivers.
Fun— well for geeky NPS nerds— fact the Niobrara River cuts through three national park sites in Nebraska. Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Niobrara National Scenic River, and the Missouri National Recreational River. It also drastically changes over its journey across the state— at Agate you can almost stand on both sides… if you’re tall enough.
I also didn’t realize in 2015 I didn’t take in photos of the Niobrara proper— I did take some landscapes but it just looks greener—or if I did I must have filed them somewhere differently than normal. I’ll chat about going back with a different set of coworkers in the future with a photo…
But this trip was a fact finding mission. We were searching for paleontology resources!
Yes— we’re geeks but we’re geeks that hike!
I was prepping a program on paleontology in general but I wanted to know more about bone crushing dogs and beardogs and my coworker was working on her horse legs program.
We found a lot of cool stuff and then I found the exhibit on the Lakota.
Agate— has a wonderful collection of Native American artifacts that were given to the Cook family— mainly rancher James Cook— over the years. Due to a friendship between James and Chief Red Cloud.
Cook and his wife after buying the ranch from his in-laws made a discovery, “a beautifully petrified piece of the shaft of some creature’s leg bone.”
By 1905, paleontologist we’re making major finds in mammalian fossil history. I’ve mentioned it before— I think— that dinosaurs were not major finds in Nebraska. A combination of a vast inland sea and acidic soil during that time frame meant there were not a lot of dinosaur remains found in the state.
Large aquatic reptiles (like the mosasaurs), ancient fish, turtles, and sharks have been found. However, Nebraska truly stands out when it comes to mammal fossils. My favorite the giraffe neck camel roamed the area. Barrel bodied rhinos, four tusked elephants, mammoths, mastodons, giant beavers, the Valentine mouse, and the list keeps going.
If you ever get a chance stop into Agate, Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historic Site, Niobrara NSR, Niobrara or Ponca State Parks, and finally Morrill Hall at University of Nebraska—Lincoln.
Agate though is a beautiful place. The visitor center is excellent and the hiking peaceful.
We took a winding path up into the plains and checked out the Daemonelix or “Devil’s Corkscrews” which are the homes of Paleocastor or the ancient beaver. They are smaller than their modern counterparts and minuscule compared to the Giant Beavers.
The day went fast and we had a nice day wandering around the National Monument.
Maybe someday I’ll talk about how in the NPS eyes all sites are national park sites and that the way they are designated determines the big NP or national historic site, national scenic river, or national monument— but not today!
P.S. photos didn’t do it justice especially since I didn’t take my good camera.
We had a snowsquall on December 15– what the heck is a snowsquall you ask? A cold, miserable whiteout with a time limit. Howling wind, blowing snow, and a massive temperature change. It went from almost 48 degrees down to 25 degrees.
While it was a “cool” experience it made me long for warmer days. Luckily, the weather rebounded and we had some semi warm days in the 30-40s. Plus, we did early Christmas with Wade’s sister about three hours south so we had 50 degree weather all weekend!
In other news, my sister and I are tentatively planning a summer hiking trip in the Black Hills. Once we have a actual plan with dates in place I’ll probably post about preparations a little closer.
I’ve started to “lightly” work out, gearing up for the New Year, but I’m really holding off until all the Christmas cookies are out of the house… because I’ve eaten them… before really going “hard” on my workout plans and starting that journey on YouTube.
In other news, I’ve finished another semester of grad classes– I’m currently only taking one course a semester so it’s taking a while but five classes to go! I was going to just take two courses a semester until I got it done but between the work, kid, hobbies, sleep…. I’d rather take the extra time and do it right than half-ass it and tank my GPA. Besides, it’s cheaper this way! But once I’m down to just two courses I might make the time to finish it out in one semester. We’ll see!
I’ve got a few more posts lined up for the end of the year. Mainly, flashback Friday adventures, again had if I hadn’t thought I was boring I could have have had years of content by now… all well– it’s helping me now when I have lulls in hiking trips!
I’m also planning a Christmas hike… either at the Refuge or somewhere nearby.
I have a hard time with my weight—especially after having my baby—who’s now a toddler.
I’m thinking I might YouTube my weight loss journey. I also plan on posting updates on here as well.
I’m going to start documenting my weight loss journey for two reasons—accountability and because I searched for someone like me and weight loss on here and other platforms. It’s either CrossFit like folks or supermodel like women fitness gurus. Maybe I just suck at finding what I want…
I don’t ascribe to either of those—I look like a potato.
Side note, I do like CrossFit and if I wasn’t such an accident prone klutz I probably would go to the “box” if we had one in my little town.
However, I do know how to lose weight. Even though I look like this… It took me seven years and a child to get to this point.
My other problem with most fitness gurus—they make the thirty-day promise…
“In 30 days, you’ll have…” bullshit.
It’s bullshit too. If you’re already in decent shape, then yeah you probably could shred up.
But most people—nah.
And that is depressing, that we can’t just lose 30 pounds in 30 days and keep it off.
Yeah—you might lose it, but it will come back with a vengeance.
I don’t want the 30-day promise I want something viable. And maybe I’m not great at searching YouTube and other places for what I want so I’m making it myself and hopefully help someone else out.
Frankly, we have this bad habit of putting skinny above “healthy” some people need “extra” pounds in order for their body to function. Plus, some people are going to be predisposed to being a fitness model—the rest of us the plump Scottish pleasant running from the British.
I’m not doing this because I want to be skinny—other than I don’t want to buy jeans. I want to get back in shape, so I don’t sound like I’m dying hiking or chasing my toddler. Especially, when I’m hiking for work—park rangers shouldn’t sound like their dying going up a small hill.
That said, I’m glad I’m a river ranger and spend most of my time in a canoe… I don’t get out of breath often paddling.
So, a little background on me.
I used to be in excellent shape pre-2006. I played basketball, softball, volleyball (for one year), and I “ran” cross country. Well, I showed up to cross country. I hated it—I’m built like a quarter horse, great for quick bursts of power but will never beat a Morgan or an Arabian in a long race.
But I was in wonderful shape— and I wasn’t healthy.
This might be TMI for the guys. I weighed in at 110-115 on average. 5’0 so that is “healthy” per BMI. However, I wasn’t having regular periods. Actually, my sophomore/junior years I don’t think I had any periods. I had cysts. Went to the hospital a couple times, had to have a cervix biopsy—which is extremely painful—found out I had POCS and went on the pill to regulate them. I still didn’t have periods.
Senior year I didn’t go as hard. I moved up to the 125-to-135-pound mark, which is borderline “overweight” and I finally started getting periods.
I also felt a lot better. I didn’t have the headaches, body aches, and sore ankles as much anymore.
I also stopped drinking Coke for a while—which might have fixed some of it too.
I finished out my senior year in high school and moved on to college. I no longer had a regiment, a coach to motivate me (like a drill sergeant), or peers to inspire me to keep doing the work. I probably should have joined the Army because I am motivated by a drill sergeant.
Summer kept me busy waiting tables and running my butt off on the ranch. I started college in the fall, and I had a one-hundred-mile drive round trip to my “local” community college.
That did me no favors.
Two and a half years later I went to ASU to finish out my degree.
But I only gained 15 pounds in those two years. Went from 130 to 145.
Then I didn’t have a reason to stay in shape. I puttered around in college and joined intermural leagues and I stayed in semi-decent shape.
Then I got depressed. I binged on horrible foods, late night study sugar snacks, and other unhealthy college food. I stopped going out for intermural sports. I didn’t know what I wanted to do in my life, personally or professionally. It was rough time.
I kept having doubts about what I wanted to do—agriculture or history. I should have just double majored looking back but at the time I didn’t know what I wanted so I added time to my degree…
It was adding to my waistline too.
Now, during this time I was working as a seasonal ranger, where I got to mix all the things I loved, history, outdoors, animals, traditional ranching stuff, the list goes on. Some of my coworkers noticed my weight gain and said some stuff—nothing unkind, just worried about me type stuff.
One of them mentioned how he used the pack test for wildland fire as motivation to get in shape.
As a kid I wanted to be a smoke jumper—I’m not tall enough but I could still do wildland fire. That broke through some of the depression. I needed a change—now important note you can’t change your way out of depression. You can bandage it but eventually the wound will fester again. I went to on campus therapy my senior year. Which helped immensely and luckily, I didn’t have a hormonal imbalance effecting my mental health at that time. Talking it out and creating goals, like pursing my wildfire certification were enough. I had a few goals when I graduated in December of 2012. But I wasn’t even close to being able to carry a forty-five pack in forty-five minutes without running (like I could run that anyway).
I also wasn’t sure where I was going either.
2013 was kind of a bummer year for me career wise—I originally applied to a lot of parks but due to funding and the recession the only place that reached out was my home park, Ozark NSR, which was fine, but I really wanted to go somewhere else.
I also realized how bad my weight got by the end of the summer and how it was affecting me physically.
I hit the 160 mark after seven years. And I really didn’t want to buy new pants.
(I’m also noticing a theme—I slack off for seven years, don’t want to buy new pants, and I wind up hitting my breaking point.)
I need to start thinking every month is seven years in order to keep in shape—considering how 2020 and 2021 went that’s not to far off…
It was during this summer that I also started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. I. Love. That. Show. It also helped with my self esteem and learning to love myself— because how in the hell you gonna love somebody else! It also made me realize I really need to figure out contouring.
In the fall of 2013, I put together a plan. I started it in the winter. Well, since I couldn’t turn down Christmas food—I started in January. New Year’s Resolution.
I walked my ass off. Literally.
I took my dog out and we walked all over my cousin’s farm. Everyday for three months—didn’t matter what the weather was doing. We walked hills.
I cut off soda and drank sweet tea sparingly. I used portion moderation when I was eating and added more veggies to the plate than the “good stuff.” I didn’t change a lot of my diet though.
As long as you’re not eating junk food and fast food for every meal and you use moderation, you will see some weight loss, especially if you are working out. I don’t mess with macros or counting carbs, that only matters if you’re super into fitness. Average person, just adding more veggies and cutting out most of the sugar will do you wonders.
After March I started walking twice daily and going for longer walks. I also had a bit of good news. I was going to a new park for the summer! Niobrara National Scenic River was calling my name. Ozark called me in to train the new people before I left which was nice.
By the time I was ready to go in May I was back down to 135. I wanted to get ten more pounds off. Plus, I wanted to pass the pack test. I had until July for the pack test. I started running, lifting weights, and mixed workouts at this point. By July I was down to 125 and passed the test with a 1 minute and 45 seconds to spare.
I kept up my workouts—mainly because I didn’t get along with my roommate and didn’t have a lot else to do except hike on my off days.
However, when I went to my next job in Kentucky I started to slack off. I still puttered around but it was equivalent to my intermural sports days.
Then, in January 2014 I slipped on some ice and banged my knee and didn’t want to do my “bare minimum” work outs. By March I was back up to 135/140. But I was able to maintain that for a while.
It’s been seven years again and I had a little boy and I’m back at the turning point. However, I clocked in at 170 pounds this time.
Which means I’m losing because after birth I was right at 200 pounds. But I need to lose more.
I’m going to do what I did last time.
Walk my ass off. Only with two dogs and a toddler.
Because walking is low impact, free, and really the best way to start working your way up to doing more rigorous workouts.
It might take six months, but it has better returns in the long run. It might take less time carrying this 25 pound toddler.
I’ll probably make weekly updates because time is a luxury right now. Join me for low impact, moderation friendly, potato fitness model adventures!
Although… I might not start officially until January. Holiday Snacks and all…
Well…I jinxed myself. I shouldn’t have made a crack about the cold on Monday.
Now, I have snow. It’s up to my shins and if there’s a drift my corgi, Freya, becomes submerged.
I don’t dislike snow. I actually really love it and it makes me happy. Until I have to shovel the wet heavy stuff multiple times a day for work and home.
Even then, I still enjoy opening up the blinds, making a cup of tea or cocoa, and reading a book. However, the dogs start whining and I have to suit up to go out.
In all fairness, Wade, clears most of the snow himself either by hand— which is great for me view wise— or with a snowblower. Growing up where barely a dusting of snow was a statewide emergency— I’m slowly adapting to living with snow and not just finding it pretty.
It’s not quite a love hate relationship but it gets close. Negative numbers and windchill, however, I straight up hate and Princess tends to avoid as well.
Wade just runs around in shorts sometimes— Nebraska genes or something… and Freya bounds after him.
Now, Hunter didn’t really get to experience walking in a winter wonderland last year. He thought it was cold and his time could be better spent with me in a rocking chair topping him off with fresh milk.
This year he got to experience the snow, cold, and the wet. Plus, learning how inertia works.
I got an early Christmas present of Arctix snow bibs. Paired with my Columbia snow boots and Marmot puffy the cold wasn’t bothering me— dressing for the weather does make it more enjoyable. I just needed snowshoes but Wade threatened to throw me into a snowdrift if he saw anyone he knew. I left them at home.
It was something about how ridiculous it would be to wear them in town and getting razzed for it at work— the big drama queen.
We bundled Hunter up but couldn’t find his good mittens. We figured if it was just a quick trip down the street to the park he would be okay with his cotton ones.
He was having a blast riding in his little sled. Dad would drift him on the icy pavement to his delight. Once we slide over onto the snow he was patting it and giggling.
Then dad decided to try to drift in the snow.
Hunter found he did not like snow on his face. Or being rudely slammed into a drifting turn.
But after a little cry and daddy snuggles and letting mom pull him he was back to giggling and patting the snow.
Once we got back to the house he got to play in the snow and confirmed that as long as it was on the ground to pat and not on his face life was good.
It’s taken me seven years (almost) to acclimate to the winter weather. I’m not expecting to overcome my misgivings about the weather or keep my yearly run in with SAD from happening but I’m more optimistic this year.
I have better winter gear and I’m trying to make changes for my mental and physical health. I need to lose weight and I find getting out and walking helps. I don’t want to only walk on a treadmill and making the changes to my winter wardrobe will make it better for me to go outside in -20 weather. At least according to the bibs.
P.S. it’s all fun and games until snow goes down your pants or up your nose.
Starting a new thing– Flashback Fridays! I’ll take a few moments to talk about a hike, trip, or adventure. I can think about warmer days and get into a habit of posting every week.
It’s a win, win!
For my first Flashback Friday I’m going to talk about probably my favorite trip ever…so far…
It was my second trip to Smokey Mountain National Park but the first long distance trip with my husband, then boyfriend, Wade. We had a few adventures to Wyoming, South Dakota, and Oklahoma by this point. But this was the first that crossed the Mississippi.
The Smokey’s were a secondary part of the trip and where we’re camping. The main reason was a family reunion in Maryville, Tennessee. While I was working at Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery as a Environmental Education Intern in 2014 I took a weekend trip to visit my uncle and aunt.
I had a fun trip to the national park. Wade and I were talking every night I was living in Kentucky. Gotta love long distance relationships. I told him how beautiful I found the park and how I didn’t get to see any bears.
I like bears. Or wildlife in general. Any place I visit (Yellowstone, Smokey, etc.) I always try to find the wildlife. I usually miss out.
This trip with Wade I saw bears!
He really is my lucky charm.
We had a fun weekend of family, food, and …fun…
I need to work on synonyms.
We camped because I like camping. I had just gotten a tent cot that I really like and it’s handy for car camping. It’s easy to set up and it folds up nice. Even though it was a front country campsite it was surprisingly quiet– which is what I like about National Park Service sites.
We had a plan to do the drive through Cade’s Cove and maybe hike a little bit… but I was enchanted watching bears. It kind of cut into our hiking time.
Plus, Wade had a little surprise for me.
I found this little valley along the Cade’s Cove drive and decided I wanted to get some shots of the trees and a panorama of the area. I had just set up my camera and was working on attaching it to the tripod when my darling boyfriend started poking me on my butt. Well, upper left hip, in his words.
I was getting a little grumpy and said just a second…
I finally turned.
He asked to make him the happiest guy in the world.
Some random car drove by… “OMG! He’s asking her to marry him.”
I said yes.
P.S. If anyone knows the actual name of “engagement valley” I would love to know the name. I’ve either forgotten or never wrote it down. It is probably one of my favorite places and I would like to get the right name.
P.PS. Before we went I told him if he asked me at the actual family reunion I would have a panic attack (I hate being the center of the attention in a large group setting) or my family would have us married before the weekend was over.
I don’t know if it’s the millennial mindset or just the ADHD talking but I keep trying to find new ways to make my hobbies pay for themselves. I like hiking and thought taking photos and writing about it would be fun. Probably not a high paying niche but fun. Once I started doing it, I had some people ask where they could get my photos. My poems got some interest. Then the Pennington Book project popped up. I figured I’d try a few different things, self-publishing, blogging, Redbubble and Etsy stores to gage interest. All have low overhead and no horrible up-front costs.
I’m just out the time in most cases. I keep it very low key.
But every now and then when I self-promote myself I get messages from people I knew in high school. That haven’t really spoken with me since or in some cases at all, even when we went to school together.
“Oh you’re trying a side hustle– why don’t you try out these Essential Oils *or other MLM*? You can be your own boss and hustle! You will make money right away– can you say that with what your doing now?”
They also really pushed the messaging, or I at least noticed it more, when I was home on maternity leave. The amount of messages I got about how I should stay home and how *insert MLM* could be a dream come true for me.
Uh…my side hustle already lets me be my own boss… and I don’t have to pay to join.*
They also don’t understand the words “no,” “thanks any way,” or “that stuff gives me migraines.” They also don’t appreciate when you say, “it didn’t cost me anything other than time and equipment for what I’m doing now.”
They also don’t like it when you ask if it’s an MLM.
Which, it is and somehow even when you’ve said all the above they still try to upsell you into being a downline. Plus, the pitch to spend $45+ on a starter kit… and the need to spend x amount each year to maintain. It’s better than some but nah…
*Other than the camera I already paid off like ten years ago and my blog fees I’m not spending close to the $95 a year minimum to do a business in essential oils or other things with a higher cost. I also don’t want to spend the amount of time running leads and spamming acquaintances on social media.
I share a link every now and then to my Redbubble Store, Etsy page, and my tip jar and that’s about it… I might run an ad on Facebook and Instagram once in a blue moon but I don’t spend more than $30 bucks- $45 a year on that. If I really wanted to make money at this “side hustle” I’d be upping my social media game, running ads at a higher cost, and plugging myself more. And clearly making, uploading, and perfecting my content a lot more.
For me it’s fun and might make me some money. It gives me something to do in my free time.
I have no desire to make a side hustle into a career at this point in time.
No, I don’t want to work from home. I about lost my mind teleworking through a pandemic. It was nice to wear “comfy” clothes and cook a hot lunch some days but no…I couldn’t “turn” work off like I can now.
No, I don’t want to be a #bossbabe or #bossmom.
I currently have a great job and I can grow a hobby into a possible business venture. If that hobby pays for itself great! If not, I’m only out the ad money.
I’m lucky with my job and life, but considering how hard they tried to guilt/upsell me on the beauty of being my own boss so I could stay home– I know why people go for it and then wind up floundering in debt.
While some MLM’s might not be as bad try out these options instead of signing up!
Create a Redbubble shop and sell your art, photography, or sayings.
Create a blog! WordPress has plans for what you’re trying to do. Start a blog and if you make enough of a splash you can upgrade to premium or business and get plugins or widgets to take payments. I currently have the premium which works great for my tip jar! It’s also my biggest expense yearly expense, unless I order a lot of canvas prints.
Start an Instagram page showing off your photography– do business and sell prints off of PayPal or another format like Etsy. (If you hit up local craft fairs/or small business shops there will be more money sunk into this cost. A variety of prints, canvases, or digital markers are good to have on hand as actual inventory. You can find some wholesale printers for a decent base price. You can even have a “private” shop on Redbubble where you print your own items at cost. Decide your prices and sell.)
Start your own house cleaning or home organizing business if that is your thing (this might be a job you wait until kids are older/in school or hire them as employees and do limited hours/weekends).
Start a cooking/home centric YouTube/TikTok channel. Tie it to a blog.
Pick up a part time job– I’d rather wait tables than pay to sell something but that’s just me.
You don’t have to buy special equipment for most of these– some don’t even cost more than $10 to do. If you build it they will come and in the long run these will pay off faster than an MLM.
But I need to get over it. I don’t want fall into the same patterns I do every winter were I binge watch stuff, or read, under a blanket and not go outside.
I want to see if sucking it up and going out will help combat my usual SAD I deal with every year.
Although, using terms like “get over it” and “sucking it up” probably isn’t a great way to look at my wintertime slide. I’m trying to think more positive without falling into the toxic positivity. It’s hard.
However, I want to get back into shape and honestly the best way for me to do that is walking. Other than the long payoff time it’s the best (free) way to jumpstart your weight loss plan. It’s low impact, I’d rather swim but not in this weather, and it works.
I’m working on a YouTube video about that. I’m hoping I can use it for some accountability and help other people, like me, that are not into the fitness model guru/Crossfit mindset. Although, I wish I was in shape to do Crossfit– but I would break something.
I’m also investing in the *appropriate* winter hiking gear and I plan on getting out more. I don’t know if I’ll take Hunter every time because Nebraska gets ridiculously cold and I don’t want to subject him to that.
I got to go home over Thanksgiving. I had a week to show my son around my hometown, hunt, spend time with family, and hike. Hunter has been there back in February but that was a quick trip and we didn’t do a lot of exploring.
I should have planned two weeks. However, we got a lot of things accomplished.
I got my deer. I spent time with mom and dad. Hunter became best buddies with grandpa and got to cuddle with grandma.
We only got to do a short hike.
That was okay though– a perfect Day Hike and Baby Wipes post. Other than my hiking buddy, Hunter, who was bored with me taking photos and wanted me to keep moving. So he pulled my hair until I started hiking again.
It’s a great motivator.
We also took the hike a little later and the day. He was worried we weren’t going to make it back for dinner in time. Even though I brought snacks galore for him.
I originally planned on hitting up the Ozark Trail at Rocky Creek but time got away from me. I wanted to deer hunt while I was home. I hunt for food– I like knowing were it comes from, what it was fed, and using all I can. Plus, I can stock my freezer for a while, even with the two bottomless pits in the house.
I had a cabin, Scenic River Cabins (awesome place to stay), that was right down the road from Big Spring. Ozark National Scenic Riverways keeps a nice trail and frankly I was feeling nostalgic for my early seasonal ranger days.
I worked the Big Spring District as a seasonal ranger from 2008 until 2014. It was my first park! I loved it because it was home and I could work weekends in the late spring and early fall while I was in college at Arkansas State University. It worked out really well. As a summer seasonal, you usually only work 3-5 months (if you’re lucky) or 1,039 hours.
I miss the Current River and Big Spring. I had a lot of firsts at Big Spring. From school events to leading National Park Service events, plus senior photos.
I hiked a lot there. Both as a kid, before I even had an inkling what a park ranger was, and as a park ranger.
The hike I took last week was a little bittersweet. Things have changed but it still seems the same, at least there at the spring. Sure there is a little more erosion than when I was there but that’s normal.
The old heritage cabin was gone, I did a lot of events in that cabin. I gave so many programs at the Big Spring Amphitheater– it’s gone too. Water changes a lot, especially during the spring floods.
Growing up in this part of the Ozarks you learn to respect the power of water. Especially, in creeks and rivers. It probably wouldn’t be bad to fear the water a little too.
We have incredible, and destructive, flash floods. One of the worst hit the town of Van Buren in 2017. While Fremont is my “hometown,” Van Buren is where I went to school, worked, and grew up, plus most people know or have an idea of the town. I had moved to Nebraska by 2017 but I still felt the pain. The river crested at 37 feet, flooding most of the town. It surpassed the previous record flood by eight feet–in 1904 it crested at 29 feet.
I grew up on Pike Creek, it’s a dry creek most of the year but in the spring you see a raging river almost. The water in the narrow draws has enough power to push trees, upright sometimes, down the channel to the Current River.
I gave a lot of talks about how Big Spring puts out a lot of water (286 million gallons a day) and how during flooding conditions it puts out even more. It’s impressive.
So impressive in fact that it’s the largest spring in the state of Missouri and third largest (or largest depending on drought/rain conditions) in the USA. Idaho’s Snake River Spring Complex and Florida’s Silver Spring, being the other two contenders.
The trail system is nice, when the NPS isn’t working on rebuilding bathrooms and pavilions, it connects the spring to the campground, the Big Spring Lodge (currently closed for renovations), and the group campground. It occasionally has trees across the trail, between that and the hills you can get quite the workout.
I miss those hills. I also miss endless trees.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my adopted prairie home. However, I’m a ridge runner and miss where I grew up.
I need to get my act together and go home more. It’s a 13 hour drive, now a little longer with the little man.
It was a tough trip– Wade had to work, so it was a semi-solo adventure. Hunter hated being stuck in his car seat and I couldn’t do the drive in one long jaunt like I normally do. Mainly, because my son can imitate a banshee quite well. I split the drive up and back into two days with lots of stops so little man could be free. I pushed for 7 hours on average the first day (same going back) and then 4-5 the second day. It worked really well.
The first night on the way to Missouri, I made it to the outskirts of Kansas City. Once we stopped at the motel I pulled him out and he was so happy. I got the key and found out it was on the other side of the building from where I parked. I had to put him back in the car seat. He screamed so loud I was worried the cops would be called.
They weren’t but I did get some stares.
He cheered up once I sat him down on the floor in the room and he could go where he wanted.
He did the same thing once we made it to Grandma and Grandpa’s.
I still need to figure out how I’m going to do some hiking trips in Yellowstone and Rocky Mountains with Hunter. While those drives won’t be as long, I still need to plan better.
I’m excited for some more semi-solo adventures with my little dude– we’ll save the long trips for when dad can tag along for the drive though!
And I had to work… and I’m taking a shift on the ambulance so I have to be ready to respond. So no hikes for me…
But if you have a chance, go take a hike!
Well, because I didn’t plan this well we’re doing a #waybackwednesday post. I’m also planning on revisiting this particular hike next week. I’m hoping to get some new photos and maybe see the “wild horses” while I’m there.
This particular section of the Ozark Trail is my favorite. Partly because it’s really close to the old family farm but mainly because it used to be my great grandmother’s family homestead. Up the creek from Klepzig Mill she used to watch bobcats play on the bluff.
We did a family trip and hike over the Thanksgiving Holiday. My aunt on my dad’s side and her family and myself. Mom and Dad didn’t feel up to it from my memory and my sister was working up until Thanksgiving itself. Or I just dreamed all that up and they just didn’t want to hike with us…
Either way we hit up the Current River Section hiking from Klepzig Mill to Rocky Falls and back. Or vice versa… seriously my memory is already going.
The crisp fall air and lingering campfire heartened me. The Ozark hills spoke to me and they still do. I was a transitioning from high school to community college and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do yet. I was going back and forth between agricultural business and history. It would take me two years to figure out history and go on to finish my degree at Arkansas State University.
Honestly, I still don’t know what I want to do with my life…
It wasn’t a long hike by any means but it was full of family stories, traditions, and jocularity.
I’m looking forward to next week. I will get to take Hunter out for a jaunt and hang out with family and friends.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately— inspired by a documentary.
Anyways, I watched Fake Famous. It’s an interesting look at how we view influencing and a social experiment into how to become a mega influencer.
I related the most with Chris but I don’t think I deserve to be famous in the same way he does. However, I do admire his principles about going with the 100 real followers over the thousands of bots. I also agree with not changing myself drastically in order to get famous either.
I have no inclination to be a mega influencer, yeah, the perks are kind of cool. But I don’t really want to do merch advertising for other people or paid partnerships. Collaborations with other posters in my niche would be cool. I’m happy with people buying my designs, photos, and the ad revenue. Maybe write some books.
I don’t plan on getting rich off any of it or being “famous” like most influencers. All I want is a little extra money to fund a college/trade school fund for my kid (maybe kiddos), fund a hiking/rafting trip each year, and the rest into savings.
Lofty goals I know—right now, I’m just starting out in the grand scheme of things and the possibilities are endless.
However, as I watched I realized at all the wasted time I could have been building this blog or my Instagram. I’m late to social media bubble. It honestly doesn’t appeal to me in the way it does most people. Partly because I have luddite tendencies but also, I thought I was boring. I also didn’t think I was pretty enough to cash in on the selfies either. Plus, with the dopamine chasing from ADHD if I didn’t have Facebook, Instagram, or now TikTok actually open I sometimes forget they exist—which was great in college.
But mainly, I’m boring.
I liked to read (still do). Canoe or kayak. Hike. Ride horses. Take photos—basically some of the stuff I still do now but at the time I didn’t realize I could brand any of that, because, to reiterate, I thought I was boring.
Now, that I’ve been messing around trying to find my niche with this wannabe blog I realize had I started back in early days with Instagram I could have cultivated a bookstagram theme and reviewed books on YouTube. Because I am a huge bookworm—although I prefer Ink Drinker, and daydreamed about reviewing and reading books all day.
I could have gotten into cosplay—it would have been mainly Lord of the Rings, but it would have been cool.
I could have become a “horse girl” on there.
Really pushed out canoe and kayak content—photos, videos, and articles on how to handle the gear… (stares at day job media webpage…never mind).
Had I settled into the seasonal park ranger life a little more I could have been a lifestyle guru fulfilling Chris Farley’s inspirational “living in a van down by a river!”
Okay, maybe I wasn’t as boring as I thought I was.
Had I built on any of my interests or hobbies I might have cultivated a larger following and had a totally different brand.
I could have done a lot of cool stuff, but would I have wound up where I am?
Great job, sharing happiness (and a little grumpiness) with the love of my life, the best little man ever, and the cute dogs. The grumpy cat is starting to like me which is nice. Or would I have fame, fortune, and a branding deal? Would I be happier?
Nah, I’m happy were I’m at and who I’m with, plus who I am as a person, but it would be kind of cool to be a micro-influencer. I still don’t plan on chasing the fame. I’ll continue to plod along with my rambles, thoughts, and cute photos. Maybe I’ll turn into a “mommy blogger” for ADHD wannabes that think they lack the mom gene sometimes but try their darndest to make their kiddos happy—maybe by taking a hike.
I really want to go hike on a beach somewhere. It’s been an insane week already. It’s also starting to get cold. I don’t like it. Well, I do but it’s a weird toxic love hate relationship with cold weather. The snow makes it so pretty. Luckily, we only had a little light dusting of snow that didn’t stick but it’s coming.
And because I have a tendency to binge watch YouTube and hide under a blanket this time of year, I fall into my other weird toxic love hate relationship: Anti-MLM videos and in particular Rachel Hollis videos. Or I watch music videos, lately Bo Burnham Inside has been a major focus. All Eyes On Me is hauntingly beautiful.
I love that people are deconstructing these groups and people but at the same time they are giving them attention… it’s cyclic folks. Yet here I am ranting about Rachel Hollis, so I love and hate myself for the same reasons…
But this time as I was listening to Not The Good Girl’s take on Hollis. Not The Good Girl does an awesome job breaking this all down in a documentary style format.
There was two things Hollis said really stuck me:
“We all have the same 24 hours.”
“Sometimes it’s okay if the only thing you did today was breathe,” and Hollis’s ensuing rant video about the Pinterest quote and people not ‘hustling.’
In some ways, yes, she’s right about how we all have the same amount of time and we should hustle to make our goals.
However, I sure as hell don’t have the same quality of 24 hours as Hollis. I don’t have a nanny and maid to assist with my child or housework or a husband (now ex) that could offset what my business costs would be. A ‘team’ to pass the blam…eh assist when something goes wrong or to help put on any speaking engagement.
I’m my own editor, maid, nanny, content creator, graphic designer, cook, bottlewasher, and this list is getting ridiculously long—if I make a mistake, I own it because I’m literally the only one on my ‘team.’ Do I get everything I want to do done? No, because I like sleep and now that I’m not suffering from insomnia as much, I can actually enjoy it and wake up refreshed at 6 am…
It’s really easy to say we all have the same amount of time when you have a safety net. Now, in fairness she didn’t have that all her life—but once she started the self-help guru stuff (and really pushed this messaging) she did. And it’s a bit of a problem that she doesn’t acknowledge that aspect. I mentioned on a previous post about this that she did hustle, she did accomplish a lot, but this type of glamorizing comes off as a bit of a red flag for me. When you make it seem like it was simply your hustle that elevated you but don’t acknowledge that you have someone in your life that added in making those connections and provided a safety net (even if he was a huge walking red flag) it’s a bit disingenuous.
Which opens us up to a lovely discussion about curated authenticity and its relationship to toxic positivity.
Hollis made waves when she posted about her stretch marks which in some ways was groundbreaking but honestly, she’s attractive, had a decent following, and simply capitalized on that. Hollis curated a form of voluble authenticity that highlighted her “flaws” that she totally demolished with her “What is it about me that made you think I want to be relatable?”
I post curated photos to an extent but I don’t highlight my flaws in a funny quirky way– I just don’t post or if I do it’s not a glam shot of me being funny and quirky in a misadventure. I also don’t wax poetic about my overcoming anything. I usually talk about how I wannabe doing something but get sucked into why I didn’t or a rant about something/someone. *scrolls back up post, cringe.*
I also don’t put my family in the center of the blog. I did add in about hiking with Hunter but that’s more because I just can’t leave him at home for a weekend hike… plus he’s adorable. But I don’t claim to be a marriage help guru or post how wonderful we all are. I’d rather have what I have now with my husband—he supports me in what I do (and vice versa) but we work on a budget and we compromise what we do and how to fund that endeavor. He also doesn’t have the same priorities as me, he would rather spend the weekend gaming on his PlayStation while I would rather hike or read a book. We compromise. Some weekends we stay in, some we go hiking. It works for us. He doesn’t make snide comments or inspire me to make passive aggressive jewelry once I have a successful moment. Or totally pigeonhole maid services into the most demeaning part of cleaning your house. If I had a maid—I’d pay her, make her cookies, and hype her up to my friends to support her small business.
Now—I used to be the self-described queen of hustle mainly because my ADHD wouldn’t let me sit still long enough. Before I had Hunter, I worked my forty-hour week, volunteered twelve hour shifts on my local ambulance two-three nights a week, taught CPR/First Aid classes at least once a month if not more, pursued grad, professional, and continuing education classes for education now history, work, and EMS, and for a while waited tables. *
The extra money was great, but I didn’t need it (although, it did pad my emergency account). I did it because I wanted the dopamine hit and I like giving back to my community. I could have taken a lot of that “hustle” and worked on this blog but at the time the dopamine wasn’t there for this—it’s back and I don’t know for how long… *crazy ADHD inspired moments*
Which is probably why I’ll never go very far with my “brand” because if the dopamine isn’t there or I put it on a shelf in the basement (or even in the middle of the living room) I will forget about it for a while. Instagram is the only thing I seem to do regularly and even that I skip a few weeks depending on what’s going on in my life. (I’m on a Bo Burnham kick… don’t judge).
Some would argue that I wasn’t hustling for ‘myself’ since I wasn’t doing a home business. But yeah—that was all for me to keep boredom away.
Now, I have a toddler to keep the boredom at bay. Plus, everyone is retiring at my day job, so I have a slew of collateral duties to tire out my brain. History grad classes that require lots of reading which I can hyper focus on since it’s a topic I like. On top of that, my sleep apnea machine is helping with the insomnia—I sleep which is weird and awesome.
I’m also learning how nice it is to have free time– after talking with some doctors after having Hunter we discovered I have ADHD. I received some strategies to help with (healthy) coping and now I don’t feel a driving need to constantly be doing something. Although, the song is about the Internet, Bo Burnham’s “little bit of everything all of the time,” could have been my theme song for a long time.
The added benefit it is now I can take a little time to write about this and that in the evenings while relaxing on the couch. I don’t write every day—but since it’s National Novel Writing Month (#nanowrimo) I’m trying to hit that 50,000-word count. The other thing is I’m trying to incorporate my wannabe plans into my writing. In fact, I’m going to do some day hikes (maybe an overnight) on the Ozark Trail this November. So, I really am going to take a hike! But a lot of days I read—just to make me happy.
There are also days where all I do is breathe…well in my case sleep/nap/zone out.
Now, the “breathe” rant happened before a lot of this but I caught it back when it was first made and it royally ticked me off. Someone shared it in a depression related group on Facebook. The group was small and we didn’t go jump on her post or page. We just commented on how she missed the point.
Because the original pin poster was talking about dealing with depression. If you’ve never dealt with depression, it’s easy to think—oh just get out of bed and go for a hike! You’re the only one in charge of making yourself happy!
I dislike that mentally. I know they are trying to be helpful and inspiring, but it doesn’t actually help. If anything, once the person tries that and fails it could send them deeper into the pit. In a lot of cases a person’s brain is literally not performing or producing the chemicals to “make” you happy. Or your hormones are totally off the flipping wall and you go from laughing to crying in less than 30 seconds. However, in mild cases of depression going out for a walk might help—it does for me about 90% of the time. The other 10%? I hung on by my mental nails to make it through the day. Once I was home I would shut down.
There’s no hustling yourself out of depression.
There is just a wide empty maw of failure. And because we don’t like to think about mental illnesses as any other type of medical malady, we are ashamed by it. We don’t reach out for help like we should.
I did—it helps. Not everyone that goes to a doctor winds up on meds, sometimes you just need to talk it all out and get therapy. Sometimes because your hormones are so out of whack due to just having a baby you do need to go on a mild anti-depressant but if you stay in communication with your doctor, you’re not on it long. Just long enough to help the hormones level off.
And in all those struggles weather your getting help or not—you accomplished one thing by just breathing. And that’s okay.
But Hollis didn’t see the pin in that context or if she did, she was self-absorbed on her brand that it didn’t matter.
She regulated it to just being “lazy” and not hustling or being positive to get what you want. That’s toxic. This push that if you hustle and appear to be happy about it you will get success is just gross to me. But it is a powerful message and people lap it up…sometimes to their own detriment.
This “breathe” rant was when I kind of realized Hollis was all hype and branding. So, when she had her epic TikTok rant I wasn’t surprised. I wasn’t surprised that she wanted to be privileged or unrelatable. I was surprised by how long it took her to backtrack though. She almost waited a week to respond to the havoc created by her own words.
The apology has been scrutinized in fact a writer, Shannon Ashley, at Medium provided a great commentary on Rachel Hollis. I used her article to get the block quotes.
When Hollis issued an apology—it really was a non-apology. She twisted it back to make it seem like she was the victim. The sad part was had she left it with the first two images it would have been a better apology, not great or really authentic but authentic to her and solely with herself to blame.
“Someday I’ll learn.
Not yet apparently– but someday I’ll learn.
Someday I’ll learn that my intent and my impact can be wildly different things.
I made a post last week that was upsetting to people and even though that was never my intent, I own that it was and I apologize.”
[Should have stopped there! But she didn’t do that—she had to add to it and then spin it as her ‘team’ that ignored or hide comments… however, this to me was the most problematic part of the whole thing]
“Was my post upsetting because I said I have someone who cleans my house twice a week?”
[This is a dog whistle. This is look at how all these people are focusing on me hiring a maid and making that the issue—when it wasn’t.
The issue was how Hollis prefaced the maid as the ‘person who cleans her toilets’ and made it seem like that job was so far beneath her. A lot of people hire maid and cleaning services nobody begrudges people that and it’s a viable small business option for a lot of women who are traditionally homemakers that now have free time for whatever reason. I thought about doing it for a while, but I got a permanent job that I like.
The rest of the image statement apology is equally flippant and shifts the blame from her to her team…again—she’s really good at pushing any criticism of any kind off on her team.]
“I’ve talked a lot about this over the years;
I have a nanny, I have someone who helps with cleaning, I have a team at work who helps to build this business and I think it’s CRUCIAL that I keep talking about it. I could very easily pretend that I don’t have any assistance.
I’m sure it would make my brand more likable and certainly more relatable if I act like I achieve all of these things through hard work and organization, but that’s bullshit. You don’t have to have a clean house or help with your kids or a business with 25 employees — but if you see those things in my life and wonder how they got there, I want you to know it’s a group effort.
A whole village in fact.”
[Hollis kind of does diminish how much they do help her and allow for her to achieve her goals]
“Was my post upsetting because I mentioned some of my favorite women in history?
This one is even harder for me because, those women are the most badass I could think of. Someone on my team said, “I think people believe you’re comparing yourself to them.” Comparing myself to the first woman to win a Nobel Prize? The first — and only — female monarch in the history of China?? To the most inspiring woman in America who freed herself and then risked her life — repeatedly — to lead others out of slavery? There is NO comparison.”
[Holy Batman! That has “that’s not what I said but totally what I meant” vibes. It was a comparison—when you state you are ‘unrelatable’ and then tag a bunch of women in the post that are historically relevant without providing context that you are “inspired by their qualities” you are implying that you are comparable and relatable to them. Therefore, making them unrelatable to the people you’re trying to gaslight with this apology.]
“To believe that because I mentioned them, I am comparing myself to them is ludicrous. Do I aspire to be as brave? As fierce? To live life on my own terms and — hopefully — inspire other women to do the same? Hell yes! But I cannot now, or ever, compare myself to them and I don’t want to. I don’t want to try and be the next fill-in-the-blank, I’d like to try and be the first me.
That was where things started, but, because I still haven’t learned, I didn’t respond to these things on Friday when I heard that people were upset. I listened to my team instead of my gut.”
[*eyeroll* Hollis used the same type of scapegoating when she was caught plagiarizing. Do it once and yeah, it might have been a team error but when it keeps happening and you keep passing it off as your ‘team misguided you’ it’s just your fault.]
“What you find on my social media feed, is me. For better or worse, it’s all me. And because it’s me, what you’re seeing is sometimes great and sometimes the fumbling’s of being human.
Because it’s me and not a perfectly polished statement written by a publicist, I’m going to get it wrong. But I’d rather get it wrong, and learn from it (painfully and publicly) then not show up at all.”
[Which is it? You or your team? Because you keep saying it’s you but then you turn around and blame the really sketchy stuff (plagiarizing, hiding POC comments, etc.) on your team.]
“I’m so disappointed in myself that I let y’all down. I’m so angry that I still haven’t learned this lesson. I’m going to get it at some point and unfortunately, you have a front row seat for how many times I’m going to make shitty mistakes along the way.”
[You’re right you haven’t learned any lessons and you keep making the same mistakes. You pass the blame onto your team and since it saved you the last few times, you’ll keep kicking that horse.]
It’s easy to harp on this stuff and when it’s 18 degrees I get sucked into the videos and drama of it…mainly because Wade doesn’t like it when I watch documentaries. So, I put my AirPods in and binge watch YouTube videos snuggled under a blanket. Soon the dopamine will dry up and I’ll tackle the books on my TBR pile. Maybe take a snow hike…but I doubt it…
I’m a wimp.
*Fun fact: waiting tables isn’t easy, it is a lot of physical labor, smiling, and remembering orders. However, I found it relaxing and during the long shutdown because I was going stir crazy, something to do. I started picking up some shifts and kept with it for most of a year.
Oddly enough, it was a stressful job that brought me stress relief because it was a job I had for nearly nine years—muscle memory is a wonderful thing. Whereas the upheaval over the shutdown plus all the higher-level stuff that I didn’t know how to do that got dropped on me at my day job was a stress I wasn’t as adept to handle. I waited tables because I could “turn my brain off” for a couple hours a night—get a good night’s sleep because I exhausted myself and hit the ground running in order to handle the stuff I didn’t know the next morning.
It wasn’t because I didn’t have experience but I was taking on division lead duties that I never done before. Authorizing projects, determining budget needs, and trying to advocate for more seasonal employees. However, I was martialized and told I wouldn’t need to worry about a lot of that. And because I didn’t know what I didn’t know it bite me in the ass. It was so irritating because it created a short staff issue that led to me working far more than I should and until I approached the department head of my division in the regional capacity about closing our visitor center for two days during the week, so we wouldn’t be stretched so thin, borderline illegal. I asked a lot of questions that summer, got stymied by the person who was “helping me,” and nearly pulled my hair out… Now, I’m older and wiser and have the next person in my chain of command on speed dial if I ever have a boss that tries to pull a fast one again—because what my supervisor that summer did was shady (maybe even illegal) but I was young and naïve..*
*** I haven’t got any cool photos for this post so I made memes…
So… on that last trip I took, that one to Branson, we went because of a timeshare offer. Yeah, yeah, I know…
We were walking through a popular outdoor store and Wade never learned to avoid sales desk people and interacted. Yay…
That will come back up later.
It was great going to my home state of Missouri and do some site seeing and visiting the family. But we had to give up a couple of hours to go to the timeshare pitch and sales meeting. I originally was saying to Wade, “We say no.”
He was on board with that!
While it was a bit of a pain and could be a costly mistake this particular timeshare isn’t as predatory as some and it had options. And that was a problem for me.
Plus, having Hunter provided enough of a distraction for our judgement to be clouded. We had to both take turns with him and missed parts of the talk and didn’t really get a moment to actually talk it through.
Had it been a traditional timeshare where it was one place, one week, and no flexibility I would have stuck to my gut and said no as soon as they ended the tour. Because I’ve looked into time shares in the past and they just barely skirt being a pyramid scheme…although I still think they are…
However, they started it out with a look at the cost benefit analysis of inflation on hotels. They do have a point with inflation continuing to rise—but so will wages and other offsetting factors. They also alluded that inflation was the reason for costs to increase during holidays…it doesn’t. As someone who works in the tourism industry, they left out how demand was a driving factor in pricing during the holidays.
I made a note about it… I took a lot of notes.
Then they explained how they were different—and they are. You can use your membership to go to several different places, your base points can be used anywhere at anytime as long as there is an opening in the schedule. You can also use your membership to pay for trips—with a little cash added—to other international places. They sold it as a way to go anywhere with your family for a decent price.
They really sold the family angle and it’s a great hook…
And in some cases, it would be worth the money and hassle. If we were making $250K a year maybe it would be worth it, but we don’t. They ended the talk with overall cost of the timeshare… it was a lot more than I was willing to pay and at that point, while tempting, I was still in the no category because of the price *before* associated fees.
I also did a little research on the agency and it did have some high points. But I always hate it when they pitch the overall cost but don’t mention what the annual and maintenance fees are. If I had those numbers while they were doing their inflation talk, I could have done the actual math and realized right then that it would be about the same either way… while they aren’t lying about the annual fees being stable—the maintenance fees will grow over time. Even I, the least math inclined person ever, can figure out the fees over time and the cost/benefit ratio.
But they don’t want you to know that until they lay the contract in front of you. And push you to sign before you get a chance to really review it.
Once the pitch was over, we moved on to the tour and hard sale.
Our salesman was nice, but you could tell he was a former auto sales guy—he was a big talker and a little pushy but that was expected.
He noticed my notes on the back and the love bombing began. Now, unlike cults this isn’t the same level but it’s a milder form.
“Oh, these are great questions—you asked about how maintenance fees can be offset by your points—they can. Oh, nice catch on the demand—that is true, but you won’t have to worry about demand costs around holidays with our program. You really know your stuff…”
Which appealing to your vanity makes it easy to ignore red flags. It’s also a red flag. (How many flags is that now? 3-4?)
The grounds and accommodations were nice, and the amenities were great for families. Which was another hook into us.
And he cold read us until he found what could hook us more.
We are both workaholics that feel guilty about taking time off for vacation. But now that we have a little one, we want him to have fun vacation memories.
I was a tad more susceptible to this because I want to take more fun vacations as Hunter gets older and take him to Missouri so he can see my side of the family more. Wade feels guilty for the same reason but he’s more the backyard camper because his family is where we live. Although, he does want to make me happy and thought it might be a good way for me to see my family more. Plus, it might get him more excited to go. Since we would have it and be paying for it…
And the salesman pushed that hard. *
I started to crack.
*Here’s the thing, this is a con—not a huge con but it is one. And you don’t think you will fall for it…until you do. Because you have a flaw in your ego—it’s too good a deal but I deserve it—that type of flaw. *
“It seems like a good deal.”
Wade was surprised by my shift in opinion but rolled with it.
Then the hard sale began.
When I said we couldn’t do the primary cost—they had two other options ready to go—one well in our price range.
I asked if I could talk it over with Wade… they gave us less than five minutes… red flag.
We were excited about the prospect of going to Missouri again, taking a cruise, or even going somewhere else. The fees associated weren’t a deal breaker “because we can pay with our points.”
We, sadly, thought it was a good deal.
Although, once we thought about it with the interest rate it would be horrible. And there was something that changed once we changed from the first offer to the cheaper one…
Even though I was agreeing to it—my gut or conscience was heavily cussing me in the back of my mind and telling me not to do it!
Which led to me asking some questions and I realized after the fact I should have pushed harder on some of them.
I asked repeatedly how to get out of the timeshare if we decided down the line we didn’t want it. They gave me a standard answer and pointed to a partner group (which is a red flag). If they cannot buy it back and send you to a third-party say no.
I should have had them clarify about how our points would pay the maintenance fees. Especially after we got the smaller contract. Had we gone with the larger package they could have—but the one we signed would not. But I didn’t push hard on that question again.
And then they dropped the “this is only good for today…” line and we both said we should do it.
Bottom line we would have lost out on the extra club membership being “free” and the first year paid for—we should have just said we’ll think about it and that’s not important to us. Had we done that we would have been less stressed out.
Luckily, my gut or whatever made me fixate on a few things. I asked about their cancellation terms. They actually hedged a little and tossed two forms at us—one for Nebraska and one for Missouri. They did say we would fall under Missouri’s terms, but I had a feeling after we did all the paperwork that they hoped we would forget that. Mainly because they put Nebraska’s agreement on top and the Missouri section on the bottom…. I might just be paranoid.
In Nebraska, you have three days to rescind the offer in writing and cancel the agreement—Missouri it’s five days. The cancellation has to be postmarked or hand delivered in that time frame.
After we walked out and weren’t being barraged with questions or being distracted with a bored toddler, we finally had the talk we should have had…
We both came to the same conclusion that this wasn’t something we should have done.
But even then, we still questioned it because it would be a great incentive to go on vacations and see my family more.
However, my gut kept pushing me and I went back and did some more googling. Sure, enough I found the answers I needed to remind me that while this particular timeshare does have far better options it’s still predatory. If we tried to get out of it after the five days, it would be very costly.
One positive thing I will say about this agency, they didn’t do hard “hard” sale tactics, they didn’t lie, and finally they did ask, nearly every time I brought it up about selling or cancelling, if we were sure we wanted to do this. It’s still questionable but they are not as predatory as some.
I sent the letter in under five days.
Wade now gets to make fun of me because I gave him crap about smiling and talking to the sales desk folks that got us into this.
He did say we would take more vacations in the future though. We just might feel guilty about short staffing our respective jobs but for Hunter it will be worth it.
Just say no—if you still like it a week later then you can still sign up for it…
If you’ve never sat through a timeshare pitch but you somehow got roped into one here are some things to remember:
*You might think you will never fall for the sale—just remember they find a hook…
*They are salesmen—don’t let the fast-talking fool you—they are there to make a sale.
*They will do a form of love bombing to get you on the hook
*You can still get a deal if you say you want to think about it overnight.
*If even one little part of your brain is saying no—say no.
*In my opinion—timeshares are essentially a pyramid scheme. Well maybe more akin to a Ponzi scheme…