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.
In my quest to be better at posting—here’s what you’re getting. My random musings. Some will be hiking related. Some work related. Maybe a few about life in general. I’ll try to keep the history rants to a minimum. There’s also a chance you’ll get a weird combination of all those elements.
Right now, things are getting shook up at work. We’re seeing some staffing shortages and some of our staff retired or are in the process of retiring. I’ve taken on some more responsibility. It also feels like I’ve been stuck inside most of the year. Which, yeah, I have. There are days I miss being a seasonal and doing all the fun field work. Now, I’m doing the back in things which is fun and I’m growing as aspiring manager. But I still want to just go grab a canoe and not come back for a day or two.
That said, I love my job. I get to talk to people, hike, canoe, try new things and wear different hats. However, I don’t love all the collateral duties I’ve accumulated. I’m getting some new ones, including IT. Which as a millennial isn’t too hard to figure out but I’m not thrilled with it when it’s all said and done. But here’s to new adventures at work!
I’ve taken to making random things, sayings, and stuff into stickers on my Redbubble site– please support my hiking fund 🙂 Redbubble also makes it easy to order framed photography, posters, and so on– I’ll be adding more of my photos there and on Etsy soon.
I’m fixing to head south on a kind of spur of the moment trip. I hope the hiking pans out. I know Wade wants to check out Bass Pro. Which is fun, but I don’t want to shop for hiking, camping, and hunting stuff all day. I want to actually go hike around Table Rock Lake and a few other places.
I’ve been working off and on, on a series of essays, poems, and general musings to maybe turn into a book someday. It’s a toss up between being a hiking book or a river ranger book. I haven’t made up my mind yet.
P.S. Random Historical Fact of the Day:
General Cornwallis signed the surrender of the British forces at 2pm today in 1781, formally ending the Revolutionary War in the U.S. favor.
We had a busy weekend! We took a day trip down to my sister-in-law’s house for a birthday party for my nephew. Did some shopping, spent way to much time in a car– fun times.
It actually was a lot of fun! The cake was amazing. Hunter got to hang out and celebrate with his same day birthday bud.
But I wanted to go hiking. We didn’t make any stops on the way home so yesterday we decided to go to Smith Falls State Park. It’s a little further east of Valentine than my usual stomping grounds at Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge.
It’s a gem– hybrid aspen that only occur at Smith Falls, tallest waterfall in Nebraska, and a pretty campground along the river.
**Side note I just realized I haven’t gone camping this year yet. Dammit.**
It was a late afternoon hike. Hunter had his nap and was ready to explore!
Momma, found out that she really needs to start just walking the dogs while carrying the little man because I was out of breath barely moving.
We didn’t take the full MacAllister Trail which goes up by the aspens but we still had a fun trip. But it was a bit of a trip getting out. Wade and I both were grumpy with each other, not a big fight or anything just general grumpiness. He did get a little mad at Freya because she was so excited to go outside that she kind of pulled him into the door frame. Little puppy, big muscles. Once we were out walking though the grumpiness and stress went away. Freya burned off most of her abundance of energy. Although, I was nice and didn’t take a bunch of pictures of my favorite guy like I would normally do since he doesn’t like it most of the time.
Waterfalls, river, and dogs– plus a few selfies. That’s it.
I’ve talked about Smith Falls before, so I won’t go into great detail about how amazing the location can be for folks. Ecosystems comingle, water and rock come together, and it’s just a relaxing place.
Check it out on your next visit to Valentine or Nebraska!
I have a confession, over the last few months I went down the anti-MLM wormhole on YouTube and stumbled onto a series of videos over the ‘rise’ and fall of Rachel Hollis. Somehow, I missed out on Hollis becoming such a big name– I didn’t know about her books or even her social media presence.
I’m a dabbler in social media *side glance at the large gaps in posting on here, photos, reels, etc.* that’s probably why I missed the drama leading up to the fall. I was also dealing with being pregnant and being a first time mom when it really hit the fan. But I did see the “…what makes you think I’m relatable…” video and yeah, it was something all right.
One of the YouTube commentators did an excellent job of not only reviewing Hollis’s books but of the rise and fall, SAVY Writes Books. Savy also took a look at Rachel Hollis’s self-help RISE conference. Savy did a deep dive and looked at Hollis’s social media and had a field day with the plagiarizing posts Hollis shared as her own; including one of my favorites, “Still I rise,” by Maya Angelou.
This led to Savy uttering one of my most favorite lines ever, “Girl, stop plagiarizing.” Which she made into a totally awesome sticker which you can find at her online store: https://savyleiser.bigcartel.com (support small businesses!).
So… by this point I’m sure you’re wondering what this has to do with hiking or really anything. In an odd turn, I kind of like *some* of Hollis’s ideas– stop apologizing, therapy isn’t bad, and you can do a lot through hustle. However, there are huge red flags to some of the other stuff she mentions. The biggest red flag, that you should cut *any* kind of negativity out of your life–this came up a lot in the MLM speeches she gave. There is something to cutting negativity out of your life but don’t cut off your mom, sister, or friend if they are genuinely asking if you are okay and are concerned when you drop a lot of money to start a business. The other red flag is how she “edits” her story. Hollis didn’t totally pull herself up by her bootstraps. Yes, she was accomplished. Heck, Hollis started out as an indie-author and event planner who hustled to make things work! That is amazing. However, my problem was that she sold her success as a testament to hard work but left out the key detail that as the wife of an executive at Disney she had more access and funds than the average small business owner.
But– you’re still asking what does any of this have to do with hiking?
Hiking is a form of self-help. It is a great way to get into shape, relax (hopefully), gain some mental clarity, and it can be a passion. Anyone can do it– all you really need to go on a hike is a decent pair of shoes and a bottle of water. It can get expensive but unlike some things you don’t have to put a lot of money into it unless it’s your passion.
It can also be a brand *cough*wannabebackpacker*cough.* I have no intention of becoming an influencer like Hollis though. I wouldn’t mind making enough on the ad revenue and swag to fund my hiking soirées. However, I don’t need to make a living off of this blog. I have a great job and one that I love. I started this as a way to work on my writing and share some of the cool places in the world. And document my successes and failures at backpacking. I’m also going to use it as motivation to get back into shape…for like the fifth time.
I’m good with being a wannabe. I wannabe a lot of things. Author, photographer, napping, in shape, backpacker, and so on. I’m now making stickers on RedBubble. Two were inspired by this Anti-MLM deep dive, “Girl, Read a Book,” and “Girl, Take a Hike.”
Well—par for the course I’ve been neglecting this blog for almost a year. I feel guilty about it sometimes but I’m not going to lie. I’m tired. I don’t feel like I have a lot going on other than work, Hunter, and trying to get caught up on all the other little projects and graduate classes I have. But it does build up overall and all I want to do is sleep. Plus, depression factored into most of the early part of the year—postpartum, fall out from the Covid-19 stuff, and just life in general. It happens, talk about it, we go to the doctor to fix physical ailments. Getting your brain checked out is good too. On a positive note, I’m doing a lot better and I’m trying to get out and about as much as possible before the weather gets ridiculous! Although… this might be the year I bite the bullet and invest in good winter gear and get out there.
I have done a few little hikes—nothing major. Mainly, because work tied me up a lot this year. While not as short staffed as we have been, we did have to hustle to get stuff done. I also took on some new duties and now, more than ever, I’m looking at a computer screen more. I don’t know why but I find this more exhausting than doing major events with hundreds of people. I just want to sleep or relax and not think about anything other than Hunter and engaging stuff for him on weekends.
Plus, figuring out how to travel, mitigate exploding diapers, and pack everything I need for a two-day trip is astronomical. But I’m working on it! It’s also a little tricky to juggle the dogs—some public lands they’re allowed but a lot of places *cough NPS sites* are not as dog friendly as others. **Side note, Freya is loving the hiking life.** I get the why but it’s tricky and boarding gets expensive. I’m thinking about doing a video about traveling/hiking/dogs/baby now that I actually have weekends off with Wade again. I’m privileged that I have an awesome husband that helps me work through stuff and is willing to help me with my “little side projects”—once I get a game plan figured out, I bounce it off him and we run through it. He keeps me from getting stubborn, pissy, and flouncing away in anger. I teach him patience, which I have a lot of unless I can’t figure out how to make something work or math’s involved. Wade doesn’t have patience but he’s working on it, lol.
I truly respect single mom’s and dad’s who do all this alone. I also think you’re a witch. Magic is involved somewhere I’m sure 😉
So aside from the doldrums early this year, it has been a wonderful year! Hunter just turned one, we’ve done some hikes, and I’m working on getting my writings out there. Plus, working on my photography, the Pennington Books project, and my little side hustles to fund my hiking passion.
I’m also going to make some more posts on here before the end of the year!
Here is a little catch up/way back Wednesday post of some of this year’s hiking/baby/traveling highlights so far!
We had to go to my hometown in Missouri for a funeral in February which was the first time Hunter got to meet his grandparents on my side of the family. It was a bittersweet trip to say the least, but we did some wanderings on the old family farm.
This spring we checked out the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge—I know I go there a lot… but it was Hunter’s first time! I talked about that in an Instagram/Facebook post, but I didn’t do a little blurb on here. Maybe I should just do a little one paragraph post on here to at least keep it active… I’ll think about that for the future.
Wade did most of the heavy lifting that day—it was spur of the moment trip, so we didn’t have the carrier or even the chest harness. Hunter had a blast and wanted to grab everything; poison ivy worried me, but dad did a good job corralling him while I had the camera.
We came back out a couple of times—we brought the dogs and the baby hiker set up. Which worked out well if we had plenty of snacks.
I had a family reunion in Oklahoma and other than wandering in Bass Pro in Springfield, MO we didn’t really get any hiking done while we were there.
My sister made a return trip to Nebraska with my niece! They arrived to a concerned Hunter giving them a once over and then it was a week of fun and adventure. We checked out the pool, floated the river (sans Hunter), and checked out the Badlands!
Finally, Las Vegas… I still don’t care for cities, but the food was amazing. There were several fun things to do—the Stratosphere was awesome (if you’re not afraid of heights). Wade and I want to go back and do it at night (and do the jump, well I do) and check out some other stuff. Due to timing, scheduled events, and a few other things (Wade…) I didn’t get to check out Red Rocks Canyon NCA or the Hoover Dam. I was a little bummed by that, but Wade was like a kid in a candy shop—or one of those cartoon animals when food is involved, he really enjoyed Guy Ferrari’s burger joint.
Locally, we took Hunter for a nice hike through our local city park– which is amazing!
That’s the short, condensed version of what’s happened so far this year. We have some stuff coming up and I will keep you all posted—even if it’s just a photo and a blurb!
Those of you that follow me on Instagram and Facebook probably know that I’ve been struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety. In great news, I’m finally coming out of the fog and starting to do the things I enjoyed.
Here’s to new content, updates, and maybe some new videos and photos coming soon!
*I wrote this two weeks ago and forgot about it… sleep deprivation strikes again…
It’s been a busy month and a half again! The baby has me in a foggy addled state. We’ve been getting outside on the nicer days but between my recovery from the c-section and Princesses recovery I haven’t felt like getting out much.
Plus we’ve been hit by snow a couple times.
I’m a wannabe sleeper at the moment; there are days I want to hibernate. I have the fat for it… yeah my work out plan has taken a sharp turn off a high cliff. I need to get back on target or soon I will need to buy new pants.
I’m also a little worried about my mental health this year. Normally, I get a bout of seasonal depression during the winter. I’ve written about it before so I won’t bore you with those details. But this year is different. The baby and the normal baby blues is rearing it’s head but I haven’t had any severe postpartum depression. Then there is the elephant in the room: COVID-19.
Due to that, my side of the family didn’t get to come up for the birth of my son nor are they going to get to see him in person anytime soon. I. Hate. It.
It’s made me feel a tad isolated.
However, I’m trying to stay positive and I’ve been calling home a lot more and trying to do video calls. It’s a work in progress.
Enough of the maudlin stuff.
So what’s new you ask? I’m watching documentaries!
Most people don’t like documentaries. My husband barely tolerates when I watch them.
However, I’m living vicariously through real life drama… and as long as I’m feeding Hunter or giving him cuddles he doesn’t care what I watch.
While I’ve watched everything from politics to the two documentaries on Fyre Fest, I’ve decided to stick to ones tied to my blog.
I just recently watched a documentary on the Hayduke Trail called Figure it Out on the Hayduke Trail. 812 miles in the desert criss crossing Arches, Canyonlands, the Grand Canyon, and Zion. It would be a fun hike but I don’t know if I could complete it without figuring out a way of carrying a ladder in Canyonlands…
I’m *ahem* below average height (barely above 4’11) and watching some of the stuff Money Shot (Alex Maier) went through I’d either need the ladder or a partner. I would love to section hike it at some point in time. I would also have to get into much better shape and get more experience backpacking in desert conditions.
My stars, how I miss the Grand Canyon. Only there once and all I want to do is go back. Partly to hike it again but also to raft down the Colorado River.
I wonder how to make it a family hike but I don’t think Hunter’s up for and I don’t think Wade and I could get the time off…
In other news, I’ve about finished all my writings *I decided to set a goal of posting on all my sites at the same time with stuff related to my labor experience and it’s taking time to get everything done.*
I’ll have the post about the weeks leading up to Hunter’s birth and the labor story posted soon- my self imposed deadline is Thursday but I no longer make promises….
I started a TikTok account…please come laugh at my efforts.
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…
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… 🙂
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.