Monday, May 29, 2017

May 29, 2017 Memorial Day

Please take some time today to honor our veterans past and present. To those who protect our rights for freedom and to other loved ones who are no longer with us. Maybe a minute of silence in your day of barbecues and fun with friends or a prayer offered to those who are away from their families and to those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. That is what we can do to show our support for them as they work hard to defend our country. That is how we hold space for others who are no longer with us here.

Today I have some reflections on being back on a 40 hour a week works schedule. After 3 weeks, I have come to the conclusion that I prefer my yoga teaching schedule, 10 hours a week plus the preparation time. 

After I left my full time job with the city of Bellingham, I was curious as to what a typical day would now include for me. It took me awhile to figure out what to do with all the extra time. I din’t have any trouble filling the time, but I had  may days where I felt like I should have been ‘doing’ something else. What that else was, I didn’t know.

Then I started teaching yoga, just a a few classes to begin with. I would spend time preparing the class sequence, reading articles to enhance my teaching and taking a workshop once in a while. All things to help keep me learning and to improve my teaching skills. 

I had a good rhythm going, some study, some teaching, some relax time, time for crafts and creativity and time to spend with my hubby and friends. Remember back in February I talked about that great article I found about how to prioritize your time and quit procrastinating? It was some of that self doubt, am I doing it right? Am I living my life right? That article encouraged me to look at what I was doing in a new way and to realize that yes, I am doing it right. Right for me. I am being productive with my career. I have enough classes to teach and I know how to turn down work so I don’t become overloaded and burned out. There are many more opportunities for me to teach here than I imagined. This self reflection helped me to identify what I want to do, how much I want to teach and how I want to spend my time. 

Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you. Carl Sandburg

Here I am now, back on a schedule of 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, reporting to work. It’s an easy job, welcoming visitors to the park and giving directions, selling permits. Even though the commute is 30 minutes each way, (16 miles at 35 mph), I don’t mind it. The views are spectacular and the only traffic jams are buffalo, deer, big horn sheep and wild turkeys in the road.

Friday, May 26, 2017

May 26, 2017 a buffalo caravan

Today Jay and I got to ride to work together since he was working at Blue Bell Campground and I work at Blue Bell gate. If we're lucky we'll get this arrangement once a week. At quitting time we decided to take the long way home, out French Creek Rd. and on to the Wildlife Loop Rd. We saw quite a few wild turkeys and some buffalo in the distance. Once we got on the paved road was when we came upon a caravan of buffalo. 

We waited by the side of the road for them to pass by, there are a lot of calves now and I wanted to get some pictures of them, they are pretty cute.
I am so cute!!

Jay reminded me that I have a video function on my camera, so I took a little movie of them walking up the road. At the end, I just caught out of the corner of my eye a little scuffle and one of them slipped on the wet pavement. The last few big guys were getting a little pushy with each other as they got close to the truck and I pulled back, end of video. Not that me pulling back inside my vehicle is going to stop them from rough-housing close to me, but my natural instincts took hold.

Scroll down to get to the link to the movie.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

May 25, 2017 A walk in the woods

I went for a walk this afternoon. I had a plan to follow an old logging road just west of our humble abode. I had looked on Google Earth to see where the road went and I thought I saw it loop to the north and come back south again to create a loop from the base of the meadow on the other side of the hill. So I loaded up my backpack and laced up my hikers and set out, figuring to be gone about an hour.
Two and a half hours later, I made my way home.
"my meadow," he says

I got to the top of the hill on our side and crossed the meadow down the slope, then through a small copse of trees. It was about a mile and then I saw the Y in the road where I would go north-ish to start the loop. I had walked about 200 yards and saw a glimpse of movement off my left part way up the hill. I thought I might see some elk, but it was a very large bull buffalo. He looked right at me and seemed to say, “I’m not in a mood to move”. 
Well, I’m not about to argue with a 2,000 pound buffalo, so I backed down the hill until I was out of his view and thought I would find the other end of the ‘loop’. 

As I was walking up the hill on the other side of the valley I thought about how nice it was to be walking in the woods, alone. Listening to the sounds, the wind through the pine trees, the sound of crickets jumping, birds calling to each other. I was in nature, and having time to just be there. No hurry to get back,  just out exploring and looking for wildlife. I reflected on other times in my life when I’ve been out hiking and always having to be back, always had a time limit,  I couldn’t just spend as much time as I wanted out wherever I was. This time, I could take my time and be in the wilderness, alone with my thoughts.

I had a feeling of fullness, contentment with being. It was similar to what I felt when we went to Baboquivari Peak and Aravaipai Canyon. A sense of completeness and of being in a beautiful, spiritual space. 

I wasn’t able to find the loop, I’m not sure there is one. I did find a fantastic rock outcropping where I could see the meadow I had crossed in the distance. I couldn’t hear the road, only the sound of the wind in the pines, birds and crickets, and listening for the sounds of other creatures in the forest. I had to retrace my steps and go back the way I came. 

my rocky top

On the way down I found a large feather, brown and white stripes about 14”(32 CM) long. I don’t know if it was there on my way up the hill and I didn’t see it, or if it fell there and was waiting for me to see it on my way back. It was in the path of my footsteps I had made on the way up the hill.
I think it's a wild turkey feather

So I had to look up the significance of when a feather appears in your path, and there are many interpretations.

Brown feathers signify grounding, home life and stability. There is an energy of respect, grounded positivity and balance between the physical and spiritual.

Well, I like that meaning but my feather is striped, brown and white, what about that?

Brown and white - happiness, and you will go under the radar from psychic or other harm

That’s good too. Then I found this about feathers in general:

When feathers begin to enter your field/path it is a clear message that angels, spirits or loved ones are not too far away from you. 

I’m not one to turn away an angel or the spirit of a loved one. I would be delighted to have them accompany me on my random wanderings in nature.

Then, I also found this, that gave me much more to thing about, when that feather crosses my path:

Whenever you observe a sign, take note of the following: 
What you were thinking just before it happened?
What is going on in your life lately or at that particular moment in time.
How did it make you feel when you found it?
What were your first thoughts, feelings or impressions? 
What could the sign be telling you? 

The next time you are out walking around, whether it’s in the city, on a country lane or on a trail in the woods and a feather crosses your path, may you have some time to think about these questions.

Monday, May 22, 2017

May 22, 2017 first week under my belt

I managed to get through the first week on the job without any problems. My cash drawer balanced, I helped give directions to a bunch of tourists, served beverages at the pancake breakfast on Saturday and Sunday and did my best to stay warm. The weather has been cool and windy and I am eager for it to turn to Spring so I can shed some of the layers I have been wearing.

This new part of my life is interesting. I’m a seasonal park employee working with other seasonal paid employees and volunteers. There are 5 generations employed here, ranging in age from 19 to 75. Students, teachers, people from many different types of work experience. Some create drama, some can’t see what needs to be done, doing only what they are told to do, and others like to talk. A lot. 

In listening to some of the stories, it appears that people like to cling to their story. Some attachment to the slight that was done, or the missing item. A need to hang on or to pick up something that doesn’t belong to you. I was reminded of one of my favorite stories about a pair of monks and a woman:

One day, two monks set out for a temple in a valley beyond the woods. While cutting a pathway through the woods, they came across a choppy stream they needed to cross. There, stood by the bank of the stream, was a beautiful young maiden dressed in silk. She was clearly at a loss as to how to cross without getting muddy and wet. 
So, without thinking twice, the elder monk gestured to pick her up. Shocked, she obliged. He put her over his shoulder and waded across to the other side. The younger monk, dismayed and uneasy at what he had witnessed, followed in tow. 
Upon reaching the other side of the bank, the elder monk put the maiden down gently. The maiden paid her respects and walked on. The monks then continued on their way to the temple. 
As they navigated through the forest, the younger monk, still troubled by what he’d seen, asked, “How could you do that? We aren’t even supposed to make eye contact with women, let alone pick them up and carry them!” 
Without a thought, the elder monk turned to the younger monk and said, “Oh, are you still carrying her?  I put her down when I reached the other side of the stream”.

It reminds me of the transience of life and to let go. To not carry burdens along my path that are not necessary. This allows me to live more fully in the present moment instead of being stuck in the past

A friend of mine once told me she had the inclination to do things in an effort to help others, or to clean up messes others left behind. Then she came to the realization that she didn’t need to do that. She said, ‘if it doesn’t belong to me, I don’t need to pick it up.’  It is a good metaphor for even the non-physical. It’s like taking a pause before reacting to something and to notice if our actions are going to truly be helpful or necessary, or if what we are doing let’s someone off the hook. In the instance of the monk, he made the decision to help the woman cross the stream, because it was kind, but also then to let go of his transgression to his vows and renew his practice. 

I think if we all make an effort to let go it will help us to live in the present moment.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017 all that worry

Do you have a problem in your life? No. Then don’t worry.

Do you have a problem in your life? Yes. Can you do something about it? No. Then don’t worry.

Do you have a problem in your life? Yes, Can you do something about it? Yes. Then don’t worry.

Get it? No reason to worry in life.

My first day on the job was fun. Who gets to say that about the first day on the job. My first customer came up and I went to greet them and ask them how I could help them and they left happy. 

My office is neat and tidy and has a fantastic view. I got really lucky and have a wonderful coworker to share this opportunity with. I told her we better not let our supervisor know we are having so much fun together or they might split us up.

The rain and cold temperatures they promised us are here for a few days so my hiking explorations will be put on hold. Might be kind of slow at the entrance gate too, even though it is a free weekend. Yep, Open House May 19, 20 and 21. Free entrance into the park, free fishing and free pancake breakfast on Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be there dishing up pancakes so if you’re in the area stop on by!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 17, 2017 Self doubt creeping in

We, Jay and I,  finished our general orientation last Friday afternoon with a visit to the Crazy Horse Monument and Mount Rushmore. I can’t tell you how many times this week I have asked myself, ‘what the hell am I doing?’ Everything I have been learning this week is very interesting, about the park, how the wildlife is managed, how the forest and grasslands are managed, the role of the concessionaire in the park. But I wonder what is my role here? Will I be good at my job? Is this really what I want to be doing? Why is this all taking so long? I remember to be patient and to be present with each new experience

We have done the following in 4 days:

every morning 2-3 hours of talks about our duties in the park, then;
tour of Game Lodge including lunch,
visit the Peter Norbeck Education Center, formerly the Visitor’s Center,
Tatanka Barn,
our home in Volunteer Village
Volunteer Village and Sun City(lodging for work-campers and volunteers),
Grace Coolidge CG (campground),
Maintenance shops, including fire extinguisher demo,
Badger Hole,
Legion Lake CG,
Mt. Coolidge fire watch and lookout, 
Blue Bell Lodge and CG with lunch,
Buffalo corrals, 
French Creek Horse camp,
Stockade Lake and CG’s,
Sylvan Lake and lodge with lunch,
Needles Hwy drive,
Valhalla Lodge,
Black Hills Playhouse,
Center Lake CG,
Custer Chamber of Commerce,
Crazy Horse, with lunch,
Mount Rushmore, with ice cream,
Iron Mountain Road.

No wonder I’m tired.  

My formal training for my job is on Monday and start work on Tuesday. I know in my heart that it will all work out and I’ll enjoy my summer working for the park. 

some of our neighbors

Self doubt. It exists in all of us, even when we are doing what we think we want to be doing. I also am trying to remember that there will always be things that aren’t what I want to be happening. To take a pause and breathe deeply before moving ahead to act on what is presented to me.

Friday, May 12, 2017

May 12, 2017 going back to my birthday

On my birthday, Jay and Mike W. and Bob S. and Steve R. went for a ride up to Aravaipa Canyon north east of Willcox. It was a three hour drive to our drop point with the trailers. It took us about 30 minutes to get to the end of the gravel road to the trail up the canyon. We rode for about 6 hours with breaks for enjoying the views, lunch and for me to take a lot of photos. 

This is some of them and I hope this link works. It's a test of my technical abilities and a way I hope to be able to share more photos.
So if you click on the link below, you should be able to get to an album. If it doesn't work, I would appreciate you letting me know.
Aravaipa canyon photos

Thursday, May 11, 2017

May 10. 2017 Yes, cats can have bad breath

Over the past couple of months, I noticed that Toby has had some really bad breath. Then, over the past couple of days, he’s been behaving a little oddly. He chucked up a hairball the other day, which is nothing out of the ordinary, but later he was moving his head sideways and sticking out his tongue like he had something stuck in his teeth that he couldn’t get out. I tried having a look in his mouth, but he would have nothing to do with that. So I let him be.

The next day while we were all relaxing on the bed I thought I would do some more checking on his mouth. I rubbed the left side, all ok, then rubbed the right side, not all ok. He didn’t want me touching him there. I left him alone and we all got up and had our coffee and breakfast(the cats just had breakfast, no coffee). After he had his breakfast, he went and curled up on the bed. A little while later, Jay came out with a ‘gift’ for me that he found in the bed. Apparently Toby had a rotten tooth and it fell out, in the bed. Good thing it’s laundry day. 

Today,Toby is feeling better, he seems to be back to his old self, eating and sleeping on his regular schedule. His breath isn’t better yet, but maybe that will come later.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

May 9, 2017 Happy Anniversary, a day late!

Happy Anniversary!

What better way to spend our anniversary? Our anniversary was Monday, May 8. And we are doing what we said we wanted to do, work in a park. Not an amusement park with rides and carnival games. A state park, and it happens to be in South Dakota. Custer State Park. Actually, we haven’t done any work for the park yet, we start on Tuesday. 

fish hook creek

We have been here a couple of times, the first time on one of our tent camping trips many moons ago, the second time in 2015 with my Mom and Chuck, us in our 5th wheel, them in Chuck’s Georgetown RV. We often talked about working in a park when we quit our jobs at the city. We thought it might be fun to be camp hosts. You know, the people in the campground who greet you as you pull in to help you find your space, or turn you away because the campground is full,  or the person you come to at 2 a.m. because the people in the next tent are making too much noise. We vetoed that plan and started looking at other opportunities in parks and there are many. There are paid positions and volunteer positions and we chose the paid positions this time. 

The first two summers after leaving our city jobs we spent driving around the countryside, exploring potential places we might want to stay for a few months. There were a few other places around that we thought might be possibilities but when Jay suggested Custer State Park that’s where we focused our attention. It all worked out, we picked our park, made applications, interviewed and were hired. Then we had the road trip to get here.

We made it here last Friday afternoon, May 5. One of the friendly volunteers took us to our parking spot only to find an old trailer and two old jeep tour jeeps covered with tarps in the way. Hmm. Where is Ganesha? Right there in the shape of Jay’s supervisor, Lance. He managed to get the stuff moved out of the way within an hour and we were able to get parked and leveled up. Then took an afternoon drive on the Wildlife Loop Road to see about meeting some of our neighbors, the buffalo.

We spent most of Saturday morning getting set up for a more permanent arrangement inside the trailer and making better use of some of the space. Takes a little getting used to being in 300 square feet. The weather was fine, sunny and warm all weekend and we took advantage of it to explore by bicycle, walking and a ride on the RZR. A great way to start our stay.
one of our new neighbors, a white tail deer

Monday, May 8, 2017

May 5, 2017 5 things you don’t want on a 1200 mile road trip

Remember the article I mentioned about how people like articles that have lists? Here’s my list of what we had happen in 4 days:

2 flat tires, 
Only 1 spare tire,
1 blown fuse,
1 malfunctioning furnace,
200 extra miles of driving.

Like I said, I taught all of my classes right up to April 28. I also had a doctor appointment that afternoon, but we decided we could be ready to go that afternoon, at least get away even if it was only 30 miles. So we finally left our house with the 5th wheel at about 6:30. We had to unhook, go get our 20’ utility trailer and put it back in our storage lot, pick up the 10’ utility trailer, aka ‘the pup’, go get the 5th wheel and hook the pup up behind the 5th wheel and finally get out of Green Valley about 7:00. We headed east and the wide spot we had picked out happened to be on the road to the fairgrounds. It’s fair week, it’s Friday night, and there’s a grandstand show that starts at 8:00 and there is a line of traffic all the way to Tucson. We park, have a light supper and go to bed. Of course at midnight after the grandstand show is over and the fair is closing up for the night, all of those cars that were headed south, are now headed north, past the trailer.

After a fitful nights sleep, we get an early start and head east on I-10. Our rear view camera is working fine, the pup is towing fine, everything is fine. After about 100 miles, we heard the noise you don’t want to hear, a loud pop, like an oversized balloon exploding, only it was a tire on the 5th wheel. Driver’s side. Fortunately, there is a pretty wide shoulder and most of the traffic moves over like they are supposed to. Still not a comfortable place to be. Jay manages to get it changed pretty quick and we are on our way again.

We make it to Elephant Butte Lake State Park in New Mexico. We figure we’ll stay here two nights, get some tires ordered in Albuquerque, and rest. We drop the pup and get the 5th wheel backed in to a nice spot with a view of the lake. As I press the switch for the landing gear I get no response. No power to the switch. After troubleshooting that for about 30 minutes, we figured out it was a blown in-line fuse. Easy fix, thankfully.

It was a bit cooler there, supposed to get down in the 40’s overnight so we thought we would fire up the furnace to take the chill off. That doesn’t work. The furnace doesn’t want to light. Well, we are tired after all the excitement of the day so we decide to wait until morning to try to figure out what’s wrong with that.

We spent about 2 hours troubleshooting and taking apart the furnace, checking the wiring, the power to the relays, the switches etc. Can’t find anything obviously wrong so we put it all back together and try one more time to start it and it fires right off. That’s a good thing, because it’s Sunday and it’s going to take us 3 hours to get to Albuquerque and we already have to stop to get the new tires I didn’t really want to spend most of a day in an RV repair shop getting the furnace fixed. 

We were able to enjoy the rest of Sunday afternoon, took a drive in the RZR around the shoreline and get ready for Monday’s long day.

It took us two hours to get going on Monday. Had to load the RZR and my bike back on the pup, hook up the 5th wheel, hook up the pup, and dump the tanks. We were heading north on I-25 just 30 miles from Truth or Consequences and what do we hear? That horrible popping sound again. I’m driving and I’m already tired from the mornings antics. We are heading down a 6% grade with the potential for gusty winds and now we have another flat tire on the 5th wheel. With Jay’s fine coaching I manage to get the whole works safely to the shoulder and then I melt down. 

Jay holds us together and decides we will call the Big O tire store in Los Lunas to see if they can get the tires for us today. I explain to him what happened and that we don’t have a spare as it is already in use. He assures me that he can get us the tires that afternoon, which is fine because it’s going to take me about 2 hours to get there, which is an hour shorter than going all the way to Albuquerque. So we move down the hill to a more level spot and I take off to get us some tires. I was only in town about an hour, getting the tires, fuel and back on the road. We drove about 30 miles to a nice level rest area and called it a day. I did call the nice guy at the Big O store in Albuquerque and cancel the order. I’m not sure he believed my story, but he was nice about it

We were parked very close to Camino de Suenos, an historic trail from Mexico City to Santa Fe. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for people before cars. The trials we had pale in comparison to what hardships they must have endured on their way. But they are our trials and we managed to find a way to cope and keep going. Ganesha must be with us, he is a Hindu god, the remover of obstacles. This past week has been a good test for me to dig deep within and find the strength I have to overcome difficult situations. Just like what I talk about in my yoga classes and meditation practice, come back to the breath. Take 3 deep breaths and see if there is more ease to be able to move through the challenge. It’s hard, but what else can I do?

We made our way to Trinidad in the hills of southern Colorado. It was cool there, at about 6.000 feet, but we had a working furnace so that was fine. We found a nifty little diner in town, Bob and Earl’s, for dinner. I had chili fries that were absolutely delicious. It was nice not to cook dinner.

I spent the evening looking for other places we might stop along the way. There really isn’t much in the high desert plateau, the narrow highways are surrounded by farmland. It didn’t seem like we would be able to get Crawford, Nebraska, our unplanned delays ate up a lot of our drive time. I found a state recreation area, Wildcat, just south of Scottsbluff, with primitive camping. We made it there by 5:00 and decided it was close enough we could stay a couple of nights instead of moving north to Crawford. It was only 3-1/2 hours south of our final destination.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

May 7, 2017 On the road again


I’m still here. And it is May 7. And we have been on the road for a week.

I still believe in what I wrote back in January. That I really need to focus and set aside time for what is important. It seems as though other things took precedence over writing. So instead of struggling with finding the time to write, I spent time preparing yoga classes, studying, riding in the RZR with Jay, hiking in the hills looking for petroglyphs and being with friends. All worthwhile endeavors.

In February, we decided to apply to work at Custer State Park in South Dakota. We sent in our applications and waited for the job postings to close at the end of the month. The first week in March we were notified that we had been selected for interviews. We scheduled them for the following week, and both thought we did well for a telephone interview. Then we waited. Jay was sure we didn’t get the jobs, because by Thursday the following week we still hadn’t heard anything from them. While I was shopping for groceries that afternoon, my phone rang and it was the supervisor from the park offering us the jobs. I bounced around the store like a ball in a pinball machine, so excited about getting the job. I should have just abandoned my cart, which was empty and gone home to give Jay the good news. 

I finished my shopping, managing to get most of what was on my list, but forgetting to use my coupons, and headed home. Jay had disbelief in his eyes when I told him we got the jobs, me, an entrance gate attendant, and him a campground attendant. Can we be there by May 9? I forgot to mention that the sale of our Montana 5th wheel went through this same week so now here we are with jobs but nothing to live in. Fortune came our way in the form of a 2012 Sundance 3000CK 5th wheel with money left over from the sale of the Montana for us to buy a 10’ utility trailer to tow the RZR. There were also some other things we need to gather for this adventure so the last 6 weeks we have been pretty busy.

As Spring was unfolding, I was waiting with anticipation the opening of the cactus blossoms and have been rewarded with some beautiful photos. The big crested saguaro in the desert behind our house has one arm that is low to the ground. I started visiting it about two weeks ago and saw it had a bunch of buds on it. Last week the first flower opened! Right at eye level so I could get some good pictures. Usually they are so high I can only get the bottom of the flower. This senior specimen also is home to a swarm of bees and a woodpecker nest. 

At the end of March I was blessed with a visit from a dear friend from Bellingham. She was going to Santa Fe and figured since she was going to be so close, a slight detour to see me was in order. I am so happy we were able to spend time together, even if it was short. 

I taught my regular schedule of yoga classes up to April 28 all while getting ready for our summer away from home. We have been on the road for 6 days, I wish I could say it has been uneventful, but that would be a lie. We are both fine and the cats are fine. You’ll have to come back to read the next installment of our adventure.

July 28, 2018 It's been a busy month

It’s been a busy month. Brownie at Black Elk Peak aka Harney Peak After we shipped our grandson back home, we rested a little t...