pandemic projects…day 40 of lockdown

No where to go & lots & lots of time on my hands.  UGH!  I haven’t been home this time a year for a long long time. I’ve been walking several times a week as the weather permits & it’s good for my brain & maybe my body but you wouldn’t know it by the large numbers on the scale!  I’ve also been reading & listening to some audio books, but decided I needed some projects.  

Some of these projects I already had on my radar, but planned to do them in the fall when I'm home from traveling…well, the virus killed those plans.  So, here’s what I did during my Covid-19 lockdown:

Project #1:  Felt Garland.  I wanted some string lights around my front window like I have at Christmas.  I don’t have any window coverings on this big window & don’t want any.  This is my morning seat of preference as I drink coffee & look out to the front pond. But, I didn’t want an ugly green string showing either.  I’d seen this on Pinterest & liked it.  I have a crazy huge quantity of felt, so I chose my darker colors & cut out it seemed like a million 1 1/2” by 3” pieces & stitched them together in 4’ lengths using embroidery floss.  It took me most of 1 1/2 days to get it done, but I  love it!  The evening photograph definitely wins the award for worst photo ever…but you get the idea.

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Project #2:  Masks.  This is one I hope I never have to do again, not because I minded making them, I just hope there’s never the need for them again.  The pattern was easy enough, but I didn’t have any elastic & had to make do with what fabric I had (most of it toddler-design).  So I made 4 ties for each mask, each with a pocket for some kind of filter if you want it. This first masks I made were for Sara, Kevin, Claire, Emma & the Nanny. Then I made some for me & Danny.

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Last, I sent some off to Luke, Peter & Leia along with dozens of cookies! 

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Not really a project, but a time sucker for sure:  Danny & I successfully completed a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle…actually it was 999 pieces…the last piece is AWOL.  And, we had some help from Sammy (she probably stole the missing piece just to play with us!)

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Project #3: Directional signs.  So, I have this pole next to  my driveway.  It serves no purpose (it used to have a basket ball goal attached) except to keep a long & ongoing argument going between me & Danny.  I want it gone.  He does not.  He wins.  Everytime.  I had this pole painted with weird & colorful designs for a long time, but it wore off & was looking uglier than just the normal ugly pole.  So, I made these signs pointing to the places I love the most.  It’s colorful. It gives the stupid pole a purpose.  It’s also a constant reminder of exactly how far away I am from those special places. But, it greets me whenever I drive into our driveway & still makes me smile.  PS:  Don’t even get me started on why it’s nice to have an ugly propane tank next your driveway either. (We actually had an old forsythia bush blooming in between the two eyesores, but it got ugly too.  So, Danny obliterated trimmed it.  We’ll probably be dead or hopefully moved! by the time it blooms again.)

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Project #4:  Springrolls.  One of the full time travel couples I know, have ceased their travels, at least for now, just like the rest of us.  Instead, they are making cooking videos & sharing recipes for those things they cook while on the road.  These looked so good when they were eating them.  It’s been in the back, the far recesses of my mind, to try & make these ever since I watched the video.  But, in the forefront of my mind, is the fact that I don’t like to cook.  I’ve been going back & forth & finally, decided I’d try them.  It was a mess!  So much cabbage & not a big enough pot to cook it all in.  Nothing was hard about it…chop, chop, chop, chop!  Once I got two done, I fried them (yes, I know it’s bad for your body…so is starting happy hour at noon, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic!  There are so many other rules to follow…) & they were yummy.  Then I proceeded to roll up the other 50 & placed them in plastic bags to freeze.  My next test to see if these were going to work (a little late now if not) was to thaw then fry a couple & see if they were just as good as fresh.  So, the next morning for breakfast, I thawed two for an hour, then fried them.  It was a success!!!  I changed the recipe just a bit for my own taste preferences, in case I get the crazy idea to ever make these again.  Of course, it will take awhile to eat all the 48 I have in my freezer.  PS:  I have no idea how the travel couple makes these in their little T@B trailer or where the heck they freeze them!

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Project #5:  Flat people.  I’m missing my grand girls so much!  I have no idea when the next time will be that I get to see them.  A friend gave me an idea the other day to make a Flat Grandpa & Flat Gkitaken from the old Flat Stanley.  The idea is send them to Claire & Emma & they would take us on adventures with themmaybe take a few photos or at least give us something else to talk about whenever we get to FaceTime.  I loved the idea & quickly made two paper dollswere not that cute, but its sent with so much love.  I hope the girls have fun with the idea!

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When I told another friend about it, she flipped the idea & had a poster of her nephew made & decided to take him around everywhere.  I stole that idea quickly, although I wouldn’t do the poster, but my own home made Flat Claire & Flat Emma.  So, I’m now taking them around with me, taking photos of them in trees, at the park, on a picnic, etc. so by the time they get Flat us in the mail, I can show them how much fun I’ve had with them. PS:  If this lockdown goes on for a lot longer,  I’ll probably be having conversations with these two Flats!

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Project #6: Fairy furniture.  Around Easter, Claire called me to show me her new fairy garden she was making in her back yard.  Her Dad suggested I "hook her up” with some fairy stuff.  I know I could go on Amazon (but not into a Hobby Lobby or Michaels—closed due to the Pandemic) & buy some really cute, durable, easy, expensive resin things for her garden.  BUT…that’s not how I do things like this.  I’m sort of cheap (we’re currently in the mode of no paycheck) but mostly it’s because….I think fairies like natural things. You read that right…I actually can think like a fairy!  (I hear you laughing but youre not surprised, right?)  Like sticks & moss & acorns (with a few exceptions).  So, I gathered some stuff from outside & a few things from a quick-masked run to Walmart & began to make a huge, gigantic mess 

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that led to burnt fingers (from the hot glue gun), sticky fingers (from the spray I used to weatherize the painted parts) but creativity on the good side & lots of time used up!  As I write this, it’s all packaged in a box & ready to ship.  I hope these sort of fragile pieces make it to Claire’s house still stuck together, if not I’ll call it a kit (each piece is individually bagged) & ask one of her parents to help her put it back together. (Theres a flower garden, two toadstool gardens, a swing, a set of table & chairs, a bed & nightstand, some stepping stones & a bell)

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And, I sent lights for night time fairy fun!  (love those twinkle lights!)

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Project #7:  Pillow.  I love the “state” pillows that are embroidered with tiny pictures of things & places throughout the state.  If I was rich, I do the not-minimalist thing & but two or three of them, but at $196 each, I’m not owning any.  A long time ago, I tried to copy this idea, only instead of a states name, I embroidered ‘friendship’ across the top & made it for a good friend of mine.  We’d traveled a lot together, gone to lunch a lot, & spent a bunch of time doing things together.  Those experiences are what I embroidered as little pictures on her pillow.  It makes me smile everytime I see it at her house.  

This project was a definite October one.  I had already purchased the fabric though & now am grateful I had the foresight to do that.  The other thing required is tons & tons of embroidery floss.  And one of the reasons, I embraced this long project was that I would be using floss from when Sara was about 12 & made friendship bracelets all the time.  She had so much floss!  All wrapped around little cardboard squares & filed neatly in a plastic box.  I have used this floss ever since she quit making those bracelets, & just like my felt, it never seems to decrease in quantity.  (I wish my bank account were the same way.)  

There are a couple of problems though with this project: 1.  You should be able to embroider well; & 2. Each little picture as well as any wording & lettering have to be designed & penciled onto the fabric, so you should be able to draw well.  I am not good at either.  But what I do have going for me is that I am not a perfectionist.  I know what I like & have my own standard for what is good enough (& it’s not a super high standard most of the time.)  So, I have been slowly but steadily, in between all the other projects, books & walking, working on my Crested Butte pillow.  

The wonderful thing about this project, is that while I’m doing the work, I’m not seeing the funny & odd drawings I’m attempting to replicate in thread, but I’m seeing the river, the campsite, the mountains, the animals, the flowers & the trails that I love so much & have spent so much time on.  It’s been the best kind of therapy so far.  

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And, I’m not sure when I’m going to get it finished.  So far, I’ve ‘killed’ a marmot I tried to embroider (interesting fact;  it takes the same amount of time to rip out something as it does to put it there) & as of this writing, I’ve ‘plucked’ the two Columbines (I bet you can’t guess that’s what they are) off the pillow too.  It might take me forever to finish the pillow if I keep ripping out what I’ve already done!

That’s the end of the projects for now.  I hope we get ‘unlocked’ soon, although I’m not sure if thats a good idea either.  For now, I’m just home (Danny is at his mom’s house)-- me, the cats & Flat Emma & Flat Claire!

Hugs to everyone…virtual ones, since the real ones aren’t allowed.  

a world shut down…

On January 15, 2020 the first known case of a virus called the Corona Virus or Covid-19 was found in Washington state.  This virus, that began in China, quickly spread all over the world, silently infecting hundreds of thousands & killing thousands.  The world & life as we knew it, came to a screeching & scary halt.  Lockdowns began all over the world, country by country.  The US was late in getting on the right course, but we began to shut down too.  The first state was California, then county by county, then more entire states. My county lockdown began on March 24th, however a week before that it was recommended that people stay home. Today is day #39. 

Thousands of workers went home to work.  All universities & schools were closed for the rest of the year.  Only essential businesses could stay open…grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, etc.  Most all businesses, including restaurants & bars, shut their doors.  Hospitals were trying to prepare for the onslaught of patients, finding they were dangerously short of gloves & masks to protect themselves.  Peter is able to work from home; Luke is out of work; Sara is working the front lines...testing & facing Covid patients & hoping she does not bring it home to her family; Danny is still working his long hours & having contact with 20 or so new people everyday….not good.  They both get home from work, strip, & shower before having any contact with family.  Danny has been concerned about possibly spreading it to his mother, who was living at our house & it’s a particular deadly virus to the elderly & compromised…which she is both.

And, most all travel has been cancelled.  The National Parks have closed; public lands to camp on is closed in many states & airline travel is down to a bare minimum. Of course, our trip to see the grand daughters & my two month Southwest road trip were all cancelled too. 

This virus doesn’t care if you’re famous, rich, poor, young, old, smart or stupid…it attacks randomly & viciously.

People are stuck at home & spending a lot of time on social media.  It’s both good & bad…there’s funny stuff (believe it or not)…about all the spare time we have now…

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…about what happens when you’re quarantined….

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…about the rules of keeping safe...

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…about stores running out of toilet paper, hand sanitizer & so many random things in short supply…

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….about not traveling…

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…Easter came & went with no restaurants open & no mass egg hunts...

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We now have some protestors in a few cities ‘demanding’ their lives back...

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But, there is so much sadness.  So many people have died quickly from this virus.  Some hospitals are so overpowered by Covid-19 patients & medical staff is still short on supplies, thousands are out of work, the economy is struggling, the stock market has plunged, weddings & funerals are cancelled or limited to just a few people, the nursing homes are in their own lockdowns…not letting families in to visit their loved ones…& the list of heartbreaking repercussions goes on & on….

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My favorite thing to pass the time, especially when I feel like crying or just down & bored, is a Facebook group a friend invited me to.  It’s called “View from my window”.  People from all over the world are now stuck inside their homes, as never before, & they take a simple photo of their view.  There are many gorgeous magnificent scenic shots & some that are not so pretty but it’s still someone’s home, now their safe place.  But the comments are always uplifting, encouraging people to hang in there, that we’re all in this together & we will get through it…together.  It’s been so wonderful to see views from all over & hear from so many people from so many places….all of us struggling but wanting to do what’s right to save the lives of family & strangers.

We had planned a 90th birthday party for Dannys Momthere were 75 people invited & all our kids & grandkids were flying home to celebrate.  They were the first to say ‘no’…worried about being contagious to their beloved grandmother.  Soon after, the family decided to cancel the party for friends.  We ended up having 8 people here…all three of her children, one spouse, 2 grandkids & me.  The highlight of the party was a Zoom meeting where all the family joined in conversation via my laptop.  Not like being there in person, but we are so grateful for the technology to connect us over miles & in dark times.


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It’s been interesting to see that during this shut down, the environment has gotten better.  Animals venturing into the National Parks because they are empty of people; pollution down in places like LA, India & China.  I hope we can learn a lesson for our planet through all of this….may be we are a virus to our planet.

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Some good things are happening ONLINE during this crisis:  Musicians, famous & not so, are giving free concerts from their homes; museums & tourist destinations are giving free virtual tours; late night talk show comedians are having their wives tape their shows & having their kids involved; there are all kinds of free classes available through universities, art centers, etc.  A whole lot of people are trying to make the best of this bizarre & scary situation.

As time went by, the opinion flip flopped on wearing masks…at first we were told it wasn’t a good idea & those who needed them were having difficulty obtaining masks.  Then someone shared a pattern to make a home made mask….they said it would be better than nothing.  And at once, people drug out their sewing machines & made masks by the thousands.  Companies that are currently closed down but were able to make masks, began to do so.  

Sara asked if I’d make some for her family & I did.  When she sent me this photo, her text was “both adorable & heartbreaking”.  I know…I had tears in my eyes the whole time I was making these tiny masks for Claire & Emma & trying not to worry about Sara or any of her family, being exposed & catching the virus.

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At the time of this writing, Covid-19 has infected more than 2.7 million & killed at least 197,000 people world wide.  More than 51,000 have died in the US. (A note on numbers, data & experts:  You can find about whatever you want to out there.  Everyone seems to be an expert, no one wants to listen to the real experts & even they struggle to understand this new killer & everyone has their own opinion about everything to do with this virus.  It has been a political war within our country…people are scared, some are broke, many are sick, many are lonely & tempers are at an all time high & blame is going round & round with no end in sight.)  There is so much anger between people right now, but there is also kindness & goodness & wonderful surprise if you’re heart is open. 

But, for most people, life goes on & most of us are still in our homes most of the time. We are encouraged to get outside to exercise but using “social distance”…staying at least 6'-10’  away from anyone you don’t live with.  So, I am walking 4-7 miles at a time,  about 4 or 5 times a week.  

There is talk about opening the world back up.  Some ideas are methodical & some are not.  Some people want to stay in lockdown, some want to get out there now & whoever gets sick, just gets sick & who dies, dies.  

It’s a strange & scary world right now.  Stay safe, sane & healthy.

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new gear!

Last year & now it seems again this year, I have added several items to my pack list for traveling…specifically camping.  While I try not to be a constant shopper--upgrading to the latest, greatest & lightest, some things need replaced, sometimes you get an awesome gift & some items just work well & are worth duplicating.  So, here’s the new ‘stuff’ I’ll be trying this year.

the gift….Sara chose this birthday gift that’s been on my Amazon wish list (unbeknown to her) for a few years.  It’s two different types of water filters.  With the bottle, the insert & lid fit on any Nalgene bottle, of which I have several.  I’ll be able to dunk the bottle in a stream or river, shake it up, then drink it…pure water on the go!

With the Lifestraw, I can lean over the river or stream & just suck it out.  This is a great light weight option to carry in my day pack, in case I run out of water as I hike…which I have done before.  Thank you Sara….I’m excited to try these out!

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replacing the old…Danny & I have had the same set of pots of pans since we started backpacking 25 years ago.  Last summer at camp, when I scrambled some eggs, the teflon coating came off making a gray unappetizing & probably super-bad-for-you-breakfast.  

This year, I bought a new set of GSI pots & pan.  I like the way they simply nest inside of each of other & the container doubles as a sink. It also stores a little round cutting board & the lids have ’strainer’ holes for convenience.  The pans are triple teflon coated, but I was most picky about the handle.  I have a small flip-type handle on a tiny stainless steel pot I use on my solo travels, which has popped up more than once making a mess.  So, I wanted a gripper handle that locked on to the pot.  Many campers don’t want to use anything teflon & just go with pure stainless steel.  But, I wanted the ease of cleaning up the mess while out in the wilderness & without using much water.  Generally, I’ll only use these pots when Danny is with me when I tend to cook a bit more—both in time & quantity.  But, I sometimes use the frypan when I’m soloing.  So, while I’m not that excited about cooking in camp, I’ll be glad to not be eating the teflon with breakfast. We figure this set will last us for the rest of our camping days…two sets in a lifetime isn’t a bad investment.

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I also bought a pair of rain pants.  The only other pair I've ever owned was a Columbia heavy rubber-type pair (that worked great), but they are also 25 years old.  I never use them anymore. I know I’ll need one for my rafting trip in 2021, but I’m not one to put things off & if I’m going to buy a pair, I might as well use them this year too.  You can tell, since I only rarely buy new things, I’m super picky about the quality, fit & design.  I wanted rain pants with a flat front & some sort of minimal zippered pocket.  I’ve been watching & stalking this North Face pair & they went on sale on Zappos.  I ordered 4 pair…2 different sizes & 2 different lengths, so I ended up with the perfect pants.  I can’t say I’m anxious to hike in the rain, but I’m glad I’ll be prepared when the skies open up. PS:  Rain pants are also great to slip on when you need to go to the laundry mat & wash everything!!!!

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the new…  A couple of years ago, I purchased an overpriced & overly bright (all the colors I don’t love) tankini & short swim shorts to take on a cruise but I didn’t love it once in the water.  I’ve never liked the look or the design, but it didn’t seem like there was a lot of choice in the midwest in winter.   This year, I bought a rash guard from Carve designs.  I’ve never worn one before; they always seem too tight & restrictive & not flattering.  But, I liked the design of this one with the pull-type gathers on the side & the colors…I’m not a turquoise, pink & purple gal.  It’s loose enough to be active in, but tight enough to swim in (I think…haven’t been in the water with it yet).  I also bought a pair of long swim trunks.  I’m more than ready to cover these old thighs & the papery-spotted arms.  I want everything to be comfortable & active.  

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Last year when I was in Texas, in the record heat, I was worried about camping for a week & being inundated with mosquitoes.  At one of the humungous Bucky’s I visited, they sold these Thermacell mosquitos zappers.  I sort of panicked & bought one.  While I learned all about the Texas fire ants, the mosquitos stayed away, & I never even opened this.  But, I intend to take it to camp this year.  Mosquitos are in every state & drive me crazy.  I’d be just as happy if I never had to open it; never encountering another mosquito in my life….that just having it in the box & wasting my money was enough to keep those annoying insects away.  And while I’m a big optimist (I buy lottery tickets every week), I have my doubts, but I now also have my zapper.

the duplicate….I loved my Altra Lone Peaks so much from last year, I bought another pair for this year.  This is actually the Lone Peak 4.5…they changed the laces for the better, but the overall shoe is the same & is just great.  The first time I wore them was on a 8.5 mile walk—on concrete, on gravel, & on dirt…no break in time.  The color is sooooo bright I told Danny if I’m wearing them & fall off the trail, they’ll find me because of my shoes. (I’ve been wearing them on my mountain bike trail to dull them up a bit with trail dirt!)

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the other duplicate I bought was this awesome technical hoody from LL Bean.  It’s a copy cat of Patagonia’s R1.  Last year I bought both & compared them before deciding I liked the fit of the LL Bean one better.  Then after wearing it day after day & loving it last year, when it went on sale this year, I bought a second one.  And, it's in my favorite color!  Between my 2 pair of Columbia shorts, my 2 Duluth Trading travel pants & these two hoodies, I’m set for days.

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I’m still working on a travel plan for my spring road trip to the Southwest.  

In the meantime, Danny & I are planning a 90th birthday party for his mother, who is back from her 3 months of traveling & living with us.  The best part of the party is that all my kids & Claire & Emma are coming home for a long weekend.  So, I’m in party planning mode, menu & food prep mode with a few ideas of fun things to do & play with the girls in the short time they’re here.  I’m soooo excited to have them all together!

Then I’ll be packing up Camper with all my favorite things & ready to hit the road!

2019…a year of Uncertainty

I’m not one to spend a lot of time looking backwards, but this year seemed to scream out for it.  The word that jumped out when reflecting back on the past 365 days was Uncertainty. I learned at an early age how uncertain life can be…in a second, life as you know it can be changed forever.  I think that’s why I’m so adamant about doing things now; knowing tomorrow might not always come easy or at all. My travels all contain a big level of Uncertainty; from where I’ll go each day to where I sleep at night.  So, you would think this feeling would sit comfortable with me; I’d have an ease with it.  This year has proven for sure, that I don’t.  

I’d love to think of myself as super laid back, go-with-the-flow type of woman, but those close to me will shout that I’m anything but that.  I strive to be that, but the older I get, those traits seem harder to achieve.  Danny gently reminded me this year that I’m the type of person who wants the answers now & needs a plan.  True.  I am organized & an Organizer; a list maker; a Do-er; I get a lot of shit done.  I always challenge myself to be the most efficient I can be…from my route while running errands, to my once a month cooking chore & even through a grocery store—my shopping list laid out as the store is.  I get the mundane done as fast as possible & love to chill out afterwards.  It works for me…until I have to cross paths with others who are opposite.  

My mother-in-law’s health has taken many turns this year.  A fall, a return of her cancer, lots of chemo treatments, two trips to the ER & a long stay in the hospital.  Uncertainty.  She’s not been on her own for almost a year.  I made a difficult decision to go ahead with all my planned travels.  My decision was between me & Danny; I’m pretty sure no one else in the family understood or approved.  It’s only what Danny thinks that I care about, & I knew in my heart he’d have preferred me to stay home & take care of his Mother, but I went anywaywas it the right decision? Uncertainty.  I knew this would make it hard on him; he’d never had to deal very much with the Physicians, hospitals, meds, FMLA & all that comes with the medical roller coaster; I always did it.  But, I was hopeful if I left, his retired sister & brother would step up to help out.  That they would all spend needed time with their mother.  I was more than ready to step aside as her medical care-giver  (I had done this for the past five years) & I know she would prefer to spend all that time with her own children.  And, they all did.  The three shared in her care, her appointments, trips back & forth to her home at the lake. 

I worried for Danny leaving so much on his plate while he is still working long hours at what must be the worst job ever.  My home, whether I was there or not, was in a constant state of motion…the brother, the sister & her husband, & a couple of grandchildren coming to stay in & out when necessary.  It all takes a toll on relationships too. But, I held to my decision.  I was constantly checking my “guilt to boundaries” meter.  Uncertainty.  

His family has a fierce & loyal love for their Mother.  She is a very blessed woman.  They are all that I am not…easy going, quiet, slow, take life as it comes….they don’t seem to mind Uncertainty.  I know it’s better to be out of the loop these days…better for me & better for them.  They get tired of my speed, my need to know & my impatience with indecision.

Friends say how much of an adventurous spirit I have.  But I have even begun to question if that’s true or not.  On a recent road trip home from Florida, Danny & I drove through the Land Between the Lakes NRA.  We took off down a narrow, dirt/gravel/mud road to try to see the lake.  I was nervous from the beginning; he was just having fun.  We were about an hour from dark & no one else around & still had to drive 7 more hours to get back home that night.  The road was very muddy.  Some of the places were better than my driveway, so why was I so nervous?  I could see his disappointment in me.  I know it was the Uncertainty of what was ahead of me.  That anticipatory fear my friend Talie says is a waste of time.  As we turned down the last road, I was super uncomfortable.  It was the muddiest of all & I was sitting by a guy with no-fear.  A tree down in one spot, he got out & waved me around the obstacle & through the deep mud.  We drove through shallow streams. As sunset was only minutes away, I questioned the water-filled hole covering the road in front of me. He rolled his eyes at me but I drove through water that was as deep as my running boards. Uncertainty.  I was so mad at myself to have been such a chicken, but had I been alone, I would have turned around without question a long time ago. Where was my adventurous spirit?  Uncertainty. PS:  We never even got to see the lake from this road.

When you think you’ve gotten old enough to know who you are & are comfortable, even happy with who you are, Uncertainty roars it’s mighty self.  On the road.  In my home. Looking into my heart.  Uncertainty.  I’m pretty sure there’s some big lessons in this past year.  Maybe growing older is all about Uncertainty: living & embracing it, but more so being comfortable swimming in it daily.  

But, it’s interesting when you try to change some of your core being.  For years, I tried to “not talk so much” & that didn’t work.  I’ve tried to “not be a worrier” & always trying to “not be a person that sheds tears easily”.  You ask yourself is it me or the people you surround yourself with that make you feel like you're built so wrong or do I need to make a big change from within? Uncertainty.  Can I make that change? Uncertainty.  There’s a quote I love:  “You will always be too much of something for someone.  Be yourself anyway”.  I guess there’s a balance in making changes inside yourself & not losing yourself in the process.  Uncertainty.

So, in 2020 I will grow & make changes that make me a better woman; not necessarily make me like someone else.  I am still setting boundaries.  I am still examining my heart.  I am learning to look for the positive side of Uncertainty.

a million words

I was done with projects, ready for the holidays & going crazy.  I had been on the library’s website & went nuts ordering a ton of books…quite a few using the Inter Library Loan system.  So, here’s a thing about me….once I go pick up a book, I really feel obligated to read it (unless I start it & don’t like it…then it goes back unread). So many people have worked to get me that book…especially the ILL books, that it seems wasteful to me to just turn it back in…unread.

But, the clock was ticking & the stack of books was growing.  I started on a reading adventure like I’d never done before.  

I read 19 books in 20 days.

Pretty much that’s all I did.  I sort of became obsessed to get them all read before we left for Florida.  And I did.

The War on Normal People by Andrew Yang
Breaking Into the Current:  Boatwomen of the Grand Canyon by Louise Teal
A Study in Death by Anna Lee Huber
A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
As Death Draws Near by Anna Lee Huber
Secrets of the Chocolate House by Paula Brockton
The Anthropology of Turquoise: Reflections on Deserts, Sea, Stone & Sky by Ellen Meloy
Five Presidents: My Extraordinary Journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon & Ford by Clint Hill
The Exploration of the Colorado River & It’s Canyons by John Wesley Powell
The Sharp End of Life: A Mothers Story by Diedre Wolownick
Death of Riley by Rhys Bowen
Grand Obsession: Harve Butchart & the Exploration of Grand Canyon by Elias Butler
A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Rayburn
The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny
Theres This River…Grand Canyon Boatman Stories by Christa Sadler
Grand Canyon Women: Lives Shaped by Landscape by Betty Leavengood
A Brush with Shadows by Anna Lee Huber
Between Two Worlds: Lessons From the Other Side by Tyler Henry
A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny

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What a great spring & summer of travel it had been & into the fall with a hot trip to Texas.  

I got back from Texas at 3:30am on a Sunday & at 2pm that afternoon Danny & I took my mother in law to the ER for a non-cancer related problem.  To make a really, really long & boring story short, when she was ready to be released from the hospital, I was voted “Most Available to Be a 24/7 Caregiver”.  (*No one asked me.  I didn’t vote for myself.)  

I’d already had a trip planned to Florida to watch the girls, while Sara & Kevin went on their own trip to Colorado.  Thankfully, so very very thankfully, I was still able to go.  Danny’s sister came up to our house to stay with Phyllis while I was gone.  But, Danny was broken hearted he was not able to go…so broken-hearted.

Phyllis is doing better & eating normally, but much more fragile than she has been. We’ve had PT, OT & Visiting Nurses here.  We have grab bars & a raised toilet seat in the bathroom & a new GPS Lifeline.  She trying to use a walker but leaves it behind frequently. Danny has taken her to the lake a couple of times to get more clothes & more stuff & to check on her property.  

But for me, after practically living outside most of the spring & summer & into the fall, I’m going nuts.  *And, I’m not a great care giver; not even mediocre.  *Being stuck here for 12 or 13 hours a day, 5 days a week…well, I suck at this. *And everyone in the family, including Danny, would probably agree. But on the other hand, Danny is still working 50 hours a week & her other kids haven’t volunteered. *Many nights when Danny gets home from work around 6:30 or 7pm, I dash out the door to go…do…something!  Im trying to embrace walking late at night up & down Mass street in the cold & dark…but thats not going so well.

However, Phyllis has made plans to go visit her son in Arizona & stay for Christmas.  Im sure they will all have a great time. Besides her son & his wife (both retired), she also has two grandkids & two great grandkids there & it will be warm.  And, it will be Christmas! I dont know if shes ever spent Christmas there before. 

Fall is usually the time I tackle projects. I had fewer on my list than normal for this fall, hoping instead to hit my pitiful two trails around here often to keep in shape & maybe kayak more frequently too—to be outside. *That plan is not working with the current set up.  

So, the first thing I did when I could was a big closet project.  I really want a Gear Roombut, thats not happening.  So, I figured out a way to switch some stuff around & put the gear closet in the room I sleep in.  This worked & everything fit well…all the sleeping bags are hung, as well as all the packs.  The tents & rest of the gear are in there too.  When I pack for a trip, I usually stage it in my room, so this will also be super convenient.  And, crazily, it makes me happy to be by all my gear!

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The next project on my list was to make a rag quilt for Emma for her 2nd Christmas.  I took a Saturday & went to buy fabric.  These are the fastest & most forgiving quilts to make.  And, this is the 13th one I’ve made.  I’ve learned to put it together pretty efficiently.    I’m happy with all the colors & fabrics & made her an additional tiny one she can use for her dolls.

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My next super fast project was to re-purpose Mrs. Potato Head into Santa…Potato-Santa Ho Ho Ho!   I dug into my stash (my way too-big stash) of fabric, & spent a couple of hours making the change.  It worked & I like it!  SantaCon will be in about 3 weeks & I’m excited to see my friends (*I’ve haven’t been seeing many of them in the past couple of months) & have a rowdy day out bar hopping in Lawrence.

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I have read sooooo very very many books while at home.  I usually make about 3 trips a week to the library…they’re open at late in the evenings & I love my local library!  So, I’ve been going there to escape.  I spend hours & hours reading.

I’ve bought (Thanks Amazon Prime!  You’re a great way to shop when stuck at home!) all my Christmas.  

I’ve wrapped all my Christmas.

I’ve cleaned & cooked & cleaned & cooked…my to-do list is all checked off.

As I type, it’s Thanksgiving Eve.   It’s usually only the three of us for Thanksgiving…it’s been that way for quite a few years, so nothing new or different there.  While it’s my least favorite holiday, the best part about it is Danny is off work for 5 days. 

But despite all my bitching & whining, I am thankful for so many things.  

I really am.  

I just need to learn to quit bitching & whining.

Happy Holidays.  I hope everyone’s is wonderful!

*denotes bitching & whining 

back home...

I’m trying to tackle re-entry by staying active…it’s not working very well.  I really miss living outside & hiking every day!  Our woods are still infested with ticks…so no hiking there.  I’ve managed to get out & kayak with a friend once & it was nice to catch up with her & be paddling again.   And, I washed off the bike & pumped up the tires after it had be stuck in my garage for almost a year!  So, I’ve ridden the levy trail a couple of times on the bike.  I’ve also started hooping more regularly.  And the books are flying in at a super fast rate!  When I left in April, I put all the books that I was waitlisted for on hold until I returned.  Then I staggered them to come in…so, I’ve been reading a ton!  

Here’s the best of what I’ve been reading:  
The Impossible Climb:  Alex Honnold, El Capitan & the Climbing Life by Mark Synnott
Run Away by Harlan Coben
The Library of Lost & Found by Phaedra Patrick
It’s Great to Suck at Something by Karen Rinaldi

Brown water & corn fields…I’m so underwhelmed with these views (I know…I’m a snarky girl when it comes to the state I live in).

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The other project that has captured my creativity & attention are costumes…4 of them.  Last January, Jill signed us up for a Sisters on the Fly Event that takes place in Gonzales, TX at the end of September.  It’s a 20th anniversary event with around 600 Sisters camping together.  It’s a week long party with tours, themed evenings, kayaking, biking & lots of fun in between!  Since this is my first Sisters-only event, I decided to go all in!  Not sure if I’ll stay in this group or not…most all the events are in campgrounds, there’s event fees, & then costumes (with some events), food, drink, etc, & I’m just not sure I can afford it.  But, for this event, I'm going to “have more fun than anyone” (the SOTF tag line) & see how it goes. The costumes are all done (Im also set for Halloween for a couple of years now) & I liked how they all turned out!

Theres Hippy Night in celebration of Woodstocks 50th year (this one is my favorite!)

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Im participating in the city parade.Ill be dancing for 13 blocks through town.  Ive always wanted to make Steampunk costume & I like how it turned out!

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My least fave is Rosie the Riveter Texas Style”…since I dont own a cowboy hat or boots, I wasnt sure what that looked like.  But, I thought I could use a polka dot skirt in my future, so it lead me to this outfit.

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Then theres prom night.  I already had this giant pumpkin dress Ive worn to a previous gala.  I love the dress & bought it for $5 several years ago at a Goodwill store.  I went through all my Mothers & Grandmothers costume jewelry & picked out pieces for this outfit & also for the steampunk costume.  That was fun going through their jewelryunlike me, they were fashionistas & always dressed nice & in style (as a testament to that fact, Im wearing my Chaco sandals with this dress).  

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I also took some stickers & made the new cooler (the one Sherry Ott gave me) mine!  Now it looks like it fits more with my ‘style’ (ha ha).

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So that about sums up my time back at home.  I was scheduled to be here for the first 3 weeks of September to take my mother in law to some medical appointments, but one of her kids decided to pop into town, so those came off my calendar.  Soooo, I’m looking at leaving a bit earlier & maybe do some exploring along the Gulf…that part of the trip is still undecided.  I also need to figure out a new way to pack my 4Runner since I’m taking the bike with me on this trip.  And the whole food thing will be different too.

And last, on a super exciting note…I was asked to be a Contributing Editor for the Girl Camper website.  Specifically, I’ll be writing an article a month on car camping.  I’m thrilled Janine Pettit is including me in her mission to help women find the confidence, information & support to camp…as she says, “there’s no wrong way to camp!”.

the gangs all here! & I’m on Cloud 9!

It’s been 3.5 years since my kids have all been together & since that time Emma was born & Claire has grown up from a baby to a little girl.  I came home a few weeks early from my trip, so excited to take a time out for this reason.  We had so much fun…played & read & cooked & crafted did all those things we love to do!  Take a peek!

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Luke was the first to arrive on Wednesday & on the same day his good friend Rose & her two boys, Arlo & Henry (Luke is their Godfather) drove in from Minnesota.  It was so much fun having them here.  The boys ended up spending the night, under Luke’s supervision & are two of the sweetest boys ever!  Rose is fantastic & loved loved loved having her here!

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Then Sara, Kevin, Claire & Emma came on Friday & oh, those wonderful little girls!  Emma has changed so much…walking, practically running & her vocabulary is growing everyday.  She says “Gki” & it just makes my heart melt.  Let the super fun begin!

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We have a fantastic independent toy store in Lawrence.  Claire has taken a virtual tour of it with me before, but it was wonderful taking her to see it in person

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Meeting new friends & getting to lick the beaters was an activity they both enjoyed

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The girls love ‘our’ costume closet

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Claire & Grandpa made a garden stone for Phyllis

Playing hair do with all my old hair clips

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Building fun at the Lawrence library!

Blue, Lukes dog, was a big hit with Emma

Claire & Luke spent a lot of time kicking the soccer ball around

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Emma & Caroline are cousins!

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Pete & Leia arrived on Monday night & while we only had one day of overlap, we made the most of it!

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Leia shares her goodies with Emma

Emma discovers the piano!  

We had a family party (Claire didn’t want to be in the photo; I was the photographer).  But I love all the smiles!

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Claire, Caroline, Emma & Kate.  Claire has been so excited to see her cousins for the second time in her life

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Love this pic & really, really, really love these people!

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Pete & Luke are tournament pickle ball players so we took an afternoon to go to Chicken & Pickle in Kansas City

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Claire & I made shrinky dink book marks

A huge soccer fan!

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Phyllis close ‘other’ family, the Neverves.  We went to the Red Lyon in Lawrence (their bar) & watched the Womens World Cup match

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Jill was passing by & stopped! She’s traveling on a solo road to trip to visit her farm & see family in KC.  So glad she stopped by!

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We visited my library…Claire knows how much I treasure this special place & I loved showing it to her!

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These two have stolen my heart…forever & ever!

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What a wonderful time we all had.  I really hope it’s sooner rather than later when we’re all together again, but I’m learning to be grateful for the time & moments I have rather than always focusing on wanting more more more.

And I’m packing.  I’ve been home for nearly 3 weeks & the ‘mountains are calling & I must go”…seriously, I can hardly wait to be back in Colorado.  But, as I start my travels again in a couple of days, I’ll be leaving with a huge happy heart filled with love & memories of my family’s visit!

getting ready

I once read there are three stages to most every trip that give you the opportunity to make your trip ‘bigger’ than just the trip itself….1. being excited about planning the trip & anticipating what you’re going to experience; 2. the actual trip itself; & 3. looking back on the memories you made during the trip.  I know it’s not everyones mindset for their trips, but I love this!

So, for the past week, I’ve been enjoying the process of list making, packing, cleaning, organizing, double checking & most everything involved in getting ready for a trip. This is also the time of year that I take my Mother in law to her semi annual medical appointments.  Since I knew I’d be here to get all that taken care of, I scheduled my own annual check ups with the eye doctor, dentist & my yearly physical.  Grateful…oh so very grateful, everything has come out normal.

The first thing I did one Saturday night while Danny was at the lake, was pour myself a great beer & re-format & revise my oh-so-detailed rather over the top 5 page packing list.  It’s filled with way more stuff than I would take on one trip though, but it’s everything.  The list is divided into several sections: stuff I have to take on all trips;  then a section for flying; for road trips (including pre trip check list for the 4Runner); for camping; for backpacking; clothes for each season; for biking; for kayaking; for running (I’m no longer running, but why trash a perfectly good list…maybe I’ll take it up again); for Colorado; for Florida; for Sisters on the Fly Events; a food list & one for everything I need to charge before I leave.  I started this list about 10 years ago & have fine tuned it with each trip.  When I’m about ready to start packing, I duplicate the list on the computer, then title the list with the trip name, then begin to delete items I won’t need for that particular trip.

I’m stoked right now because I have two lists going…one for my upcoming trip to Florida for 10 days to see Claire & Emma; the other for a super long road trip beginning the third week of April. Yay! Yay! & Yay!!!!!

I finished the ‘dehydration’ project.  I don’t know how many meals or partial meals I ended up with, but it’s a gallon ziplock bag filled with dried vacuum sealed food.  My last attempt was sweet potatoes & black beans.  I’ve had to read & research more about rehydrating…not as quick as I thought it was going to be, but I’m going to give it a try.

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The last two projects I tackled were using a product called Reflectix…which  is an insulating sort of silver bubble wrap.  It’s used to insulate some things in houses & a lot of car campers cut inserts for their windows for privacy but mostly to retain heat.  They also use it to make a ‘cozy’ for their cooler or cook mug….this is why I bought it & what I made.  I’m not crazy about the annoying silver spaceship look of it, so I bought paisley patterned duck tape for the seams for the cooler & polka dot for the cook cup.  We’ll see if it was worth the small investment—both money & time— to save some ice & keep my rehydrating meals hot.  I just couldn’t stand the plain-ness of it all…so I dove into my sticker collection & added my favorite touch to the cooler!

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This year I have the Thule topper as my new addition.  I was able to put it on my old 4Runner, by myself (shortness doesn’t help when trying to attach this large box to the top of your SUV) & proceeded to drive around with it…empty…but trying to see if it felt any different.  It didn’t.  But, I have almost popped into an underground garage once, am taking note of all the  places I can not park, & buzzed under the library drop box without considering the overhang until I was on my way out…then gasped but so grateful it was high enough to accommodate my 7.5’.  Oh brother…this shouldn’t be a big deal to remember while I’m a shortie, my 4Runner + Thule, is not.

Then I started gathering all my gear in my bedroom…Yikes it always looks like way to much!  I will save packing my clothes until I get back from Florida.  So I began by separating my gear from what goes in the Thule (Danny’s camping gear, the tents, my emergency bag, an inner tube, my big backpack, & stuff I won’t need very often) & what goes in the back of the 4Runner.

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Today I cleaned the carpet & upholstery & all the surfaces in Camper with hopes to start loading it this Tuesday.  

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The trip itself is still not totally planned, but I’ve got time at the end of this week to go over maps & research my route.  It always changes anyway, but heres my trip planning process:  I make a note for each state Im planning to visit & list the places I want to try to seehikes, breweries, landmarks, National Parks, restaurants, people——everything gets put on this list.  Bolded if its a must do.  Then I put the list in order of south to north or east to west or in some crazy loop….whatever direction I’m headed so I come to the first thing on the list…then I can delete it once I go there or if I change my mind or whatever.  At least I won’t miss it by not having it on the list.  The state lists also make it easy for me to add new things as I’m traveling…so many times other travelers will suggest things that are not even on my radar…I love that!

Saturday will find me quickly packing a bag for Florida & all the fun stuff I’m taking to the girls & Sunday I board a flight to warm, sunny & green Florida.  I can’t wait to hug those precious girls!!  Excited that Danny will be joining me the following weekend for 4 days!!!

Once back I have 5 days to pack my clothes, get my haircut, a couple of other appointments to take care of, & do a pre check of Camper, then I’ll be road ready & so excited to be traveling again!!


spending money…Yikes!

It’s been a long winter in Kansas & I wasn’t even here for the month of January!  It’s been bitter cold, tons of snow, some crappy ice, now we’re deep in mud & it’s always kind of boring.  Our driveway is an adventure itself!  I’ve been out on a few long walks through the woods, but not many.  

One of the fun holidays I’m home for is Mardi Gras.  What’s it like to celebrate this fun-filled celebration in Kansas?  It’s a tiny celebration, but people come out annually for a little springtime fun.  There’s a very down home band & a rather random group of about 35 people that dress up, parade (on the sidewalk) up Mass Street & in & out of various business’s along the way.  The whole gang ends up at Free State Brewery, with the band perched on the stairs for about 20 minutes of Mardi Gras music.  This year, I had to “Polarize" my costume, so for the first time ever, I tore up an old one to create a new “winter” version, since it was going to be 22 degrees out that morning.  I was trying to not “add more” stuff to my life (& my costume closet), & always trying to not spend money.  I made for about $12 & ransacked everything else I had to make it.  I was happy with it in the end, borrowed Dannys green down coat to wear underneath, covered up my snowman hat (I needed something over my freezing ears!) & was pretty warm throughout the whole parade.

My friend Cheryl has been going with me for the past couple of years…we are both great partiers!  This year was no exception.  We walked in the parade…sneaking out for the last block so we could find seats at the bar & have our Hurricanes in hand for when the band & the rest of the party arrived! 

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(Thats my friend Maize back there pulling off the photobomb (right photo).  We both love to travel & she is a huge beach person!  Whats not showing in the photo is her broken armguess thats why shes not somewhere on a warm, sunny beach with her own pretty drink in hand!)

The only creative thing Ive done since last fall, is work on a salt dough hand print of Emma’s left over from when we made Christmas ornaments. I have one of Claire’s handprints when she was 2, that’s filled with doodles & hung on my wall…it makes me smile everytime I look at it.  So, I wanted to have one of Emma’s too.  It didn’t go as planned, so I tried a few different things each one seeming like a little more of a disaster than the previous try.  I made one last attempt (before I would throw it out) & ended up doodling on paper then using gesso, attached it to the handprint.  I’m good with the finished product.  Neither one of these will last forever, but for now, they make me happy!

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Similar to my pattern the past several winters, my time at home pre-spring is also my pre-travel season (need to fix that someday & find some warm nice fun place to go!)  So, I start to plan & dream & think about equipment, etc.  All those travel things I love to research & talk about.  But, I’m also the person who doesn’t always want the upgrade, more stuff (that’s never me) & I'm forever conscious of the money factor.  And, the space factorhopefully its replacing something I can get rid ofnot add to.  Ive always bought really quality gearwhich is great because it doesnt wear out very easily or very often. 23 year old rather outdated & heavy backpack that was my first & still is my only backpack.  However, some of my stuff is getting worn out & in need of replacing.  Last year I bought a new water bladder (remember mine leaked all last summer), a new day pack, a new rain jacket & a new pair of low hikerseverything replacing something very old. I really dont like spending a bunch of money before I ever leave for my trip!  But, YIKES!  I seem to have done it again this year!  Here goes.

Altra Lone Peak 4.0.  Ive had a little trouble with my feet last year & usually swap out my trail runners & low hikers every other day or so or change them depending on the terrain Im hiking.  But, they are both Salomon's so built pretty much the same.  Ill still take both pair with me, but really wanted to try these out & see if I can avoid any common foot issues hikers experience.  They have a huge big toe box & are a zero drop shoe.  Ive never worn that style before, but Im told I can still swap them with my Salomons, which are not zero drops. Wowthey are super light weight too.  They are one of the top three trail shoes for long distance hikers.  I only wish they had them in bright red! (But, sadly like every other active thing for women, its pink, purple or turquoise….not my taste…so, I went with black.)

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inReach Mini by Garmin.  This is the big purchase & I did a lot of research on it before I made the decision & was a little queasy before I handed over my credit card.  Years ago, Sara gave me SPOT GPS locator for keeping in touch & emergencies when cell phone service is non-existent.  I have used this so much, thank goodness not for any emergency, but it sends a pre programed message to Danny letting him know where I am—the GPS coordinates & the message that I don’t have cell service.  It gives both of us a level of comfort when Im all over the country traveling & camping by myself.  But, last year, for the first time, my SPOT had two failsin two different locations.  Customer Service told me, after the fact, that I was just in a difficult place.  Both times I was using it, all the lights that tell you have GPS & your message has gone through were lit like it all worked rightbut it didnt.  The rest of the trip, it worked fine, but we didnt know if it would.  Anytime I thought Id be out of cell range, Id call Danny, tell him where I was headed & ended all those messages with but if you dont hear from me, dont worry!  my SPOT just may not be working.  It was a little bit of stress neither one of us wanted or should have had.I pay $170 a year subscription to have the confidence the device will work when & wherever I need it to.  

So, ever since, weve been talking about what to do.  This is a fairly new product that came out last summer, but it's gotten really good reviews.  It uses a different satellite network than SPOT.  This tiny lightweight device can do a whole lot--including live texting. Im going to buy the basic package, because I dont need all the electronic bells & whistles, but even the basic package has some other nice options I will use.  And, I can turn the service on & off, so I wont have to pay for the months Im just sitting here at home or when Im traveling somewhere I dont need it.  With all that said, just like with my former SPOT, I hope I never, ever, ever have to hit the SOS button.

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Kathoola Microspikes.  Because it’s been snowing heavily in the mountains since November & record depths in so many places (it hasn’t stopped yet & so many places get their bulk of snow in the springtime), my chances of hiking in the big mountains as much as I did last year & not being on snow are pretty small, so I bought microspikes.   I’ve had these on my ‘wishlist’ for a couple of years, but this was the year to buy them.  I also researched snowshoes, but since I’m not going to be hiking on fresh snow, I went for the spikes to keep me from sliding off the trail.  And, I will be hiking on trails that are already made in the snow….because if I can’t find the trail, I probably won’t be hiking off into the woods & up the mountains by myself.  Now I just have to consider those raging water crossings….ugh!

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One of my other ‘research’ projects to do this winter, was to see if I could figure out a way to eat more at camp & make smaller meals with no fuss & no leftovers.  I’ve mentioned before how I don’t like to cook in camp & I really do like to eat out.  So, I’ve been trying to learn about dehydrating foods so I would eat a few more easy meals in camp & save a little money.  I’ve tried a couple of things that have given me confidence to keep going.  I’m guessing if I can take about 25 meals, & make myself eat them, that’s a great start.  But, I dislike cooking so much, that if this new process is going to be a pain in the butt or expensive, I’ll just eat peanut butter out of a jar.  

I started with dehydrating some homemade chili I’d made recently & a prepared package of Indian food I purchased at Trader Joes for $1.99 for two servings.  That’s way cheaper than the yummy stuff they sell at REI that’s $13 a package that would probably make me 3 or 4 meals, but it’s not dehydrated & I’d have leftovers…something I want to avoid (cooler issue, remember?)  I took two jellyroll pans I had, added parchment paper & then spread out chili on one & the Dal on the other.  Then I put them in my oven on the lowest setting (propped a wooded spoon in the door to leave it open just a bit) & went to bed.  The next morning everything was crunchy dried up & unappetizing looking but successful.  After they both cooled, I tried re-hydrating each one to see if it worked.  It did, but not the tastiest way.  I’ll have to refine that part, but I’m ready to move forward.

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I’d mentioned to my brother earlier in the week, I was going to try to do this.  He, thankfully, mentioned to me he had a vacuum sealer he wasn’t using that I could borrow ….Yay!  that’s was going to be my only purchase for this experiment & now I didn’t need to buy that.  And, boy is it really easy to use.  I hate single use plastic, so that’s an icky part of this process, but I cut the quart bags in half to try to save both plastic & money & they’re the perfect size for single portions. I’m going to pay attention to any leftovers I have…particularly the meatless one & start dehydrating those for variety & it will be something I already have & know I like.  The meat in the chili tasted fine, but I think it might have a better chance of going bad than meatless dishes.  I was a vegetarian for 20 years…I don’t mind meatless sometimes.

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Living in the past...I think it’s hysterical, that I only just realized I marked the dates on these as 2018. Oh well, I’m good at smiling at all the mistakes I make in life.

The one thing I have enjoyed about being at home this winter, is Danny & I have had some awesome weekends together.  Because the weather has been so horrid, he hasn’t been able to do all the stuff he normally feels obligated to do outside.  So, we’ve just been tucked in the house, a warm fire always going, good beer shared & lots of time just talking together.

But, as the temps warm up, the mud dries & the grass starts to grow, spring will arrive.  Danny will start going to the lake more often & working on his never ending to-do lists here & there.  I’m grateful he will get to join me in Florida in April for part of the trip…his grand girls give him more joy than anything else in life!

And, I’ll be heading out soon after we get home.  I’m still in the trip planning stages…but I love this part of the adventure.  Stay tuned…it all starts on April 7th with a 9 day trip to Florida to see the girls, then back to Kansas for 5 days, then my long road trip begins.  I’ll be headed south to Waxahachie, Texas to speak at & have fun at the Girl Campers event.  

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Then I’ll head west…my favorite part of the country!

PS:  This is a quote I came across while reading one of the Camino de Santiago FB groups I follow (I would love to do this hike someday).  The author, Kate Spencer-Millan, is talking about the Camino, but I think the quote spans the magic of any kind of travel.  Thats one of my favorite parts of travel… the people you meet.  And I’ve been so fortunate to meet so many wonderful fellow travelers along the way!

“We’re all guilty of judging someone on first appearance, but the Camino teaches you to be less so.  You meet amazing, inspiring people.  People you don’t expect to be walking, of all ages, sizes & abilities.  
There’s a massive acceptance for all our imperfections, limitations & our quirky personalities."                                                                                                                                                    © Vicki Hill 2020