Extraordinary Montana part 2! Respite and testing bear spray…seriously dudes…lol

 

 

 

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Morning on Lake McDonald 🙂
Goooood Moooorrrrrnning everyone!!!!!!  That is how I felt waking up to this view a few weeks ago.  Excited and hungry for exploration!

Glacier is stuck in time in the most beautiful of ways.  Established as a park in 1910 Glacier has quite the impressive stats.  Here are a few facts about Glacier NP courtesy of the NPS website.

History

  • Established as a park on May 11, 1910
  • Established as Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park in 1932
  • Established as an International Biosphere Reserve in 1974

Water

  • Number of named lakes: 131
  • Total number of lakes: 762
  • Largest lake: Lake McDonald at 9.4 miles long; 1.5 miles wide; 464 feet deep; 6,823 acres
  • Number of streams: 563

Land

  • Elevation at Logan Pass: 6,646 feet / 2,025 m)
  • Number of mountains: 175
  • Highest mountain: Mt. Cleveland at 10,448 ft / 3,190 m)
  • Number of glaciers: 25 named; all shrinking in size
  • Largest glacier: Blackfoot Glacier 0.7 sq. miles

Plants and Animals

  • Number of fish species : 24
  • Number of species of mammals: 71
  • Number of species of birds: 276 documented
  • Number of species of plants: 1,132 vascular and 858 non-vascular

Most impressive my friends…Most impressive!  Lake McDonald is TWICE as deep as the great Lake Erie!  Crazy when you think about that, eh?!  I cannot say enough great things about all the friendly, patient and knowledgeable people who work in this amazing national park!

I arrived in northwestern Montana in the very late hours of the night.  I didn’t want to spend $200 on a hotel room so that night I slept in my car in the cute quiet neighborhood of Whitefish.
(Side note:  I have GOT to find a way to convert my little car into a comfortable place to sleep!)
After I woke up and nabbed a much needed cup of coffee, I headed straight to the west entrance of Glacier.  I was a bit early and if you are the dishonest sort then you can drive right past the self-registration area and into the park.  I however can be honest to a fault so I patiently waited for the park rangers to open the drive-up windows and spent the well worth it $80 for my year-long national park pass.  I get so excited about theses things!  I feel like I have some magical SUPER power that no one else has (except for the thousands of others with same pass… lol) like this is a ticket to my all dreams and adventures!  A national park pass is my ticket, the national parks are what I dream about!

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Dudes I slept in my car…no judgement…lol!
My folks have been here numerous times and told me of a few great places that I absolutely had to check out.  My friends Dingo and El Cap also gave me a few must see places so I did have some idea of where I wanted to go.  This park is so huge and the suggestions were only a fraction of what the park has to offer one’s senses!  I wandered on in and came upon Lake McDonald first and couldn’t believe the size of that sucker!  HUGE!  Surrounded by glacial mountains, big pines and whispy cloads floating above.  I pulled over to snap a few pics and really man I could have stayed there all day!   Seriously people, it would take years to really discover this park on your own.  Not just because there is SOOOOO much to see but also because each place that you stop to see along the way just captivates you and you want to spend a lot of time there.  Spend time to take pics, watch the wildlife, listen to the music of the streams, feel the wind and soak it all in nice and slowly.  Kind of like savoring a great cannoli combined with a delicious cup of coffee…Mmmm!  Well it is breakfast time here and I’m hungry 😉

 

 

I drove around for a little bit and after about an hour was I dying to brush my teeth, shower and rest in a comfy bed.  Sometimes when traveling I just need to lay my head in a bed.  I would never give up camping, hammock or tent, but sometimes you should find respite in a space bigger than a little tent!  I stumbled upon Lake McDonald Lodge.  It is this giant beautiful inn that takes you back in time with all the carved wood work, nooks and crannies that give this place a sense of mystery.  I inquired about vacancy but the cheapest room on short notice was $250.  I was so tired and in of a deep cleaning that I almost said, “Heck why not?”  However,  my practical side took over and convinced me to find some place cheaper.  The lady at the desk gave me a list of all the inns in the park and I called every single one of them.  I finally found a spot at the Village Inn at Apgar.  Now keep in mind I was super tired, in need of a shower and a solid nights sleep and therefore was a bit cranky when I found out a few things the lady didn’t mention on the phone about the hotel.  I checked in and they gave me my card to a first floor room.  It was cute and quaint but it didn’t have a/c (there was a box fan in the closet) nor a telephone in case of an emergency.  The manager actually told me that if I needed help immediately then I should bang on my wall to alert my neighbors.  I was like, really dude?!  You only get cell service if you have Verizon.  I did complain a little because none of this was mentioned when I booked the room via telephone.  (When traveling alone it is always safety first.)  So after a bit of battle they gave me a room on the second floor that was less noisy and a bit more secure.  I didn’t want anyone crawling through my first floor window.  (The windows have flimsy locks.)

After I showered and scrubbed my teeth I was ready for an ice-cold beer and snacks. I was way too tired to put any effort into eating a proper dinner so I moseyed on down to the little market and picked up a six-pack of local IPA brew, some sugar snap peas and cheese.  (I fell of the vegan wagon after an amazing french dessert in Oregon…but I am back on it and my body is happy again!)

 OH. MY. STARS.!  That was exactly what I needed!  I settled into my chair out on the balcony and just zoned out for quite a bit…lol.  How could you not?!  I was also inspired to share a video for the first time.  Yikes!  But here ya go!

 

 

(side note: this guy running the coffee shop this morning as the best playlists.  I don’t even need ear plugs!)

After vlogging (is that even a word for video blogging?..lol), I crawled into a nice big comfy bed with comfy pillows and totally drifted into a deep deep slumber.  HEAVEN dudes, heaven!  I woke up so wide-eyed and refreshed that I did not want to leave my hotel room for the next several days but at $180 a night , I did just that but not before brewing TWO cups of coffee simultaneously!!!  For an obsessed coffee lover like me I was so stoked that I had a cup of coffee in each hand.  I drank those two and then brewed two more!  BLISS!  While drinking my coffees…hahaha, I took a time lapse video.

 

The clouds were sparse but still it was fun to tinker around with time lapse.  I really could have stayed there for days on end.  Oh, to have unlimited funds and live the life of luxury but I don’t want nice hotels and comfy beds all the time.  I want to feel the elements and sleep under the stars, I much prefer that.  After that I packed up my room and crossed the parking lot to a giant wooded area designated for camping.  To pop my tent was only $20 a night.  There weren’t any showers but there were nice bathrooms and potable water.  Hahaha!  I spent that night testing out bear spray.  Note to anyone who has never sprayed bear spray before.  DO NOT spray it toward a tree!  Even if you are good ten feet away because that stuff comes out like a canon, bounces off the tree and right into your eyes and throat!  My eyes burned a little for the next half hour and I swear my throat was going to peel off in layers.  The lessons we learn while out on adventure! 😀

Up next, the alluring beautiful spot I found along the McDonald River.

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

 

 

 

Extraordinary MONTANA!!! (part one)


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Clark Fork River, Montana

Let me take a moment to express my feelings…..

It has taken me way too long to write about Montana but honestly I was totally bummed about being back.  I had this really crappy moment when I was leaving Glacier.  I woke up on a crisp sunlit morning, neatly packed up my tent, loaded the rest of the stuff in my car and started driving to my new found favorite spot along McDonald Creek just north of McDonald Lake.  I was just about there when I felt a strong urge to leave and move on to my next destination.  So I turned the car around and said to myself, “I don’t want to rush my time here.  I don’t want to try and see everything in one fell swoop.”  I knew I’d be coming back Glacier sooner rather than later so I felt that it was a good time to leave.  I drove along Route 2 down the south end of the park and into the east end.  The southeast end of the park is beautiful with rolling landscapes of tall grasses and subtle views (compared to the stark ones of Going To The Sun Road) and way less traveled than other parts of the park.  This long winding quiet road allowed me ample time to get lost in my thoughts and desires about this magical, humbling, nurturing place I just spent the past several days in.  Glacier is a place that resets every part of your being.  It is pure and lovely, towering and intimidating, patient and raw.  Glacier will make you fall in love, threaten you with crazy storms and then it will wrap it’s arms around you with it’s wild, raw and free loving energy.  I fell in love with Glacier…hard…I fell in love fast.  I hated to be leaving but knew it was time to go.  That wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning.

Driving down route 2 to East Glacier I just started crying, sobbing buckets of tears.  Screaming in my head, “I KNOW I AM NOT READY TO STAY BUT I AM NOT READY TO GO HOME EITHER!!!!!!!!!!”   I was just done.  DONE in every sense of the word.  I just wanted to wander off into the woods, follow the rivers, find a great place to take a nap and wake up with all the answers.  I wanted to drive back up to Bowman Lake, dive into it’s crystal clear cold waters and just SCREEEEAAAMMMM.  Scream so loud that the fish scattered and the mountains trembled.   I pulled off the road somewhere in Black Feet Nation and just sat there staring out into nothing, wishing like heck I could fast forward to the place in time where I am ready to be ready.  Five to seven years ago I would have just given my notice to my boss, had someone pack  up my apartment and just stay.  Now I am in a different place.  This place of making a life that I can take on the road.  I don’t want a house, land or permanent address.  I want the country to be my home and the landscape of this wondrous land to be my life’s work….

Now back to the beginning…

Sometimes you experience moments and are happy you are by yourself.  Then there are some moments that are so EXTRAORDINARY that you wish you had someone by your side to share it with because you want someone to feel what you just felt.  Whether that someone be a lover, friend, niece or nephew, anyone to just to soak in that moment with you.  The emotion, the beauty, the chills flowing all over your body!  I had two of those moments on my travels this past month!  TWO!  I also experienced many many other great moments…how lucky am I?!?!?! 😀

Montana:  (facts courtesy of  http://www.50states.com/facts/montana.htm, except #10….that’s mine own fact!)

  1. Montana is the only state with a triple divide allowing water to flow into the Pacific, Atlantic, and Hudson Bay. This phenomenon occurs at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park.
  2. Home to more elk, deer and antelope than people.
  3.  Has the largest grizzly bear population in the lower 48.
  4. It’s river and streams provide water for THREE oceans!!!
  5. Has the largest variety of mammals than any other state.
  6. It has the largest migratory elk herd in the United States.
  7. Montana means mountains in Spanish.
  8. At Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge it is possible to see up to 1,700 nesting pelicans.
  9. 46 out of Montana’s 56 counties are considered “frontier counties” with an average population of 6 or fewer people per square mile.
  10. So far THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STATE I have ever been to.

After I had five wonderful days with my best friend Shannon I was anxious to get on the road and travel to my homeland.  I was born in Great Falls, Montana.  I was a wee baby when we moved away but that is where I drew my first breaths and they have stayed with me all this time.

I never thought that I would be able to live in a state that is land locked.  I learned that the hard way living in Florida for a short time and although Gainesville is nice, it was torture living inland!  Never again.  And that is why when I lived in Venice and San Francisco, CA I had to be with in walking distance to the ocean or no more than a 10 minute drive.  Same goes for here in Ohio.  The country is beautiful for a little Sunday drive with its little farms and back roads but nothing is more beautiful than the wide open waters of the Pacific Ocean and Lake Erie!

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Somewhere outside Butte, MT

Well…until I hit Montana.  Montana with it’s wide rivers, towering mountains, cloud shadows on the rolling hills and glacial lakes!  I cried when I experienced this beauty.  I was driving out of Butte, Montana when I hit a thunderstorm.  The rain was pouring down and dark clouds hovered above but all the while the sun was still shining.  A rainbow that was so bright, arced high above the mountains.  Between the rainbow and the sun the rain looked like crystals flickering to the ground.  That my friends, I have never seen anywhere else.  I cried.  I was soooooo contently happy and overcome with peace that I had to pull over just watch it for a while.  This happened many times while driving through Montana.  It really is one of the last frontier states and it’s vast openness is unsurpassed by any other state in the lower forty eight.

Montana rivers are huge.  I am talking wide, with clear rushing waters that just BEG you to go swimming in them.  One of my goals this trip was to swim in as many bodies of water as possible!  So I did!  I was driving into Montana moseying along down the road when I spotted a nice cool river to take a dip in.  Now Montana has great rivers for fishing and they have fishing access points all along the rivers.  Lots of fly fishing happening up there.  So when I came upon my first access point I pulled off and there was one camper and one car.  The only person I saw was a cute fly fisherman from Vermont (didn’t get his name…shucks!)  So I scurried down to a spot where the water pools and waded over to two giant rocks.  I saw the cute “fly” guy (hahaha) but had to wait until he made his way down stream so I could get in.  Yes, I swam in my t-shirt, bra and underwear that time and it was AWESOME!!!  Clear sparkling waters, tall pines and gorgeous river rock.  Gosh I felt SOOOO free!

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So nice to cool off after driving for several hours!

Look at that technique!  Lol…  I came up with a way to take pictures while traveling solo.  Setting a timer was not conducive to getting a decent candid shot.  I cannot pose for anything and when I try I look ridiculous!  :p  So I set up my flexible tripod ($5 on amazon), hooked my phone up, set the camera to video that way I could record and swim around for as long as I wanted.  This way I wouldn’t have to rush out trying to get in the frame and not look like a dork!    When finished, I just played the video, paused it on a shot I thought was cool and screen shot it.  Wahla!!!  Last time I traveled out west it was with a disposable camera…lol!   But hey dudes I took some great pics without knowing if they were going  to be good or not!  Technology man…it’s a love hate relationship 🙂

But with Montana….it is just pure love!

To be continued…

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

 

 

 

Oregon…We’re going down like the Titanic!…..


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Oh Oregon…I like you but need a better sign!

Dudes I am writing from Glacier National Park in beautiful northern Montana!!!!  I will dedicate like a 1,000 posts to this leg of my trip a little later ;D  First up…wonderful Oregon!

I was so totally stoked to visit one of my super best friends Shannon residing in The Dalles, OR!  Shannon and I have been friends for nearly 20 years and even though we go through spouts of not seeing each other we always pick up right where we left off!

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Oh Oregon…I like you but need a better sign!  Dinner at Southland Whiskey Kitchen, Portland

Shannon moved to Oregon to take a great job and be with her boyfriend Matthew about 3 years ago and it has taken me this long to visit!  (I will not say that she never ONCE came to visit me in California!)  Oh wait… I just did…. >(

Anyways… What didn’t we do while I was in visiting?!  First off let me tell you that Shannon and Matt have a sick view from their backyard!

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Yeah….that’s from Shannon’s backyard!

 

I got to hangout, chat, workout and chill with my friend Shannon 😀  Also her friend Dave was in town for a wedding so it was a Cleveland reunion!  #216love

Here is what I didn’t know about Oregon… the eastern part of the state is dry, dry and dry!  As an Ohio gal, I thought ALL of Oregon was covered in giant towering pines and lush forest ground!  Yeah, no.  As I drove across the country I was able to see how the landscaped changed over the course of beautiful endless miles.  It’s not that I expected each state to be a certain way, I just didn’t realize that drastic of a contrast to what I had in my mind about eastern Washington and Oregon.

With that said The Dalles is beautiful!  Hood River is beautiful!  All in all it is a great chunk of land that offers endless outdoor activities to take part in.  For instance: horseback riding (we didn’t this time but Shannon has horses so it’s on the list for next time), paddleboarding, sailing, hiking Mt. Hood, jogging along the river path and SO MUCH MORE!!!

I went sailing for the first time and whoa dude….crazy cool and crazy scary at times!  Especially when your BFF almost literally slips right into the water and you think, “yep this ship (boat) is totally going to capsize!!!!

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That’s the boat.  Some fun facts that maybe one should know before the going sailing for the first time…MATTHEW!!!!….lol!

  1. Boat’s really do not sink without human error.
  2. You can cut the power of the sail (by dropping it) if crap hits the fan.
  3. There is a 6 foot 1500lb KEEL that is preventing that effing boat from tipping so far over that is goes UNDER water!!!!
  4. Sit facing HIGH side so you’re not turned around looking LOW side and thinking, “Oh POOOOOOOOOP  we’re going to Titanic the S%#T out of this boat!
  5. You can trust some dude named Matthew….because even though he’s only been sailing for a year…he know’s his stuff.
  6. 5-6 knots feels like 100mph!

After I survived sailing…lol, the next day we kept things low key and went for a jog along the Columbia River.  Just beautiful!  Then the next next day we drove to Portland tocheck out that very cool city, hiked Mt. Hood and paddled boarded ALLLLLLLL the way to Washington!  (the Columbia River averages a mile in width so it wasn’t that far.)

Did we do some drinking…yes but it was all because we prefaced it with a great workout!

I had a fabulous time in Oregon but sadly it was time for me to wander on 😀  I said my goodbyes (why does’t that look like goodbye is spelled right? LOL) and moseyed my way to Montana!

Thank you Shannon for being such and amazing, wonderful, adventurous and crazy friend!  I miss ya already!

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

Life (for a couple weeks anyways) on the road :)

 

Do you see that cloud?!  That cloud is a map of the United States, Canada and part of Mexico.  How awesome is that?!  I saw this cloud as I was driving through Montana, the state where I born.  😀  Yes, I was just a baby when we moved but none the less I can claim to be a native!

FINALLY the time has come for me to be on VACATION!!!  You know how you count down the days until your vacation starts but once it arrives it seems like some sort of dream?  That’s what it totally felt like for me.  It didn’t actually hit me that I was on vacation until I was driving out of Ohio.  This trip is taking me through the northern part of the U.S.A.  There are 2 main destinations on this trip. 1.  To see one of my very best friends Shannon and 2. To finally make it up to Glacier National Park!  Shannon lives in Oregon and even when I lived in California I never made it up to Oregon.  Although… I did almost move there post whitewater rafting accident but decided on staying in California.  Good decision?… who knows?!

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Open road and a semi buggy windshield…lol
People kept asking me, “Why don’t you just fly?”  Great question people but the answer leaves a lot of people shaking and scratching their heads in disbelief.  I actually LOVE LOVE LOVE driving across country!  People then asked, “Someone is driving with you, right?”  Nope!  I have driven across country solo a few times before so it isn’t anything new nor is it scary to me.  People say flying is so much quicker, flying is so much cheaper and my personal favorite, driving is so boring.  Okay, okay… the first two are true.  Flying is way quicker and much cheaper but the third is SO not true for me.  Then people ask me if I get lonely out on the road.  It is very seldom that I get lonely while road tripping.  Would I love to have an amazing, adventurous, spontaneous and fun loving boyfriend to travel with?  Um…yeah!  It would be so great to share experience, the cost of everything, the driving, the set up of tents, picture taking and such but I’m sure as heck not going to wait around for Mr. Right to show up just so I can travel the way I love to travel!

Driving across this amazing land is a privilege and I am so lucky to be able live here as a free citizen and experience all the different landscapes these states have to offer!  What other country in the world can you experience all the different types of climate?  Between Friday and today I drove though a temperate humid climate, desert climate and temperate rain forest climate and that took less than 5 days!

So let me start this journey with you…

I woke up Friday the 30th of July and headed out of Ohio.  I packed only what could fit in the hatchback of my car.  I like to keep things neat and tidy when I travel!  Clutter in the car equals clutter in the mind…. and me no like clutter…LOL!  Heading out of Ohio was uneventful as was Indiana and Illinois (both beautiful in their own right.)  Although it took me a while to get through both states due to construction.  I looked at google maps ahead of time and wow…what a difference 10 years makes!  10 years ago there really wasn’t a google maps.  I headed to the west coast (to live) with an actual paper map!  I still love paper maps and almost prefer them because I think paper maps take a skill that is long lost on the newer generations.  Skills such as cardinal directions, legends and topography interpretation.  Now google maps tells ya the quickest route, traffic and construction!

About 12 years ago I drove the northern route out to the Badlands of South Dakota and then up through Wyoming and the lower part of Montana.  I took the almost the same route this time because it was the quickest and I really wanted to get out to Oregon.  I am going to mosey my way back through Washington and Montana once I leave Oregon. Wisconsin and Minnesota are so beautiful!  Rolling farms, views that go on forever and just the simplicity of the land.  Driving though those two states is very calming.

 

Minnesota and Wisconsin

I was SOOOOO excited to see Caribou Coffee that I literally screamed aloud when I saw the sign on the highway!  My girlfriends and I always used to go to Caribou when they were open in Ohio.  Caribou had such a friendly and cabin cozy atmosphere and it has yet to be rivaled by any coffee shop in the Cleveland area.  Erie Island is awesome and my new favorite but definitely not as cozy or friendly as Caribou Coffee… 😦  The giant load on the truck looks like a huge wheel of cheese and since I was stuck in a little bit of traffic in the cheese state capitol of the U.S. I thought I’d snap a funny picture!  lol…  I also love that there is a city somewhere in Minnesota called Blue Earth!  It sounds like it would be a cool place to visit!

I spent the night at a KOA in Minnesota and it was nice to wake up a take a warm shower.  Props to the KOA I stayed at because the shower heads were amazing!!!  I will say that this KOA was next to a highway and it was awfully loud.  I ended up going into my car in the middle of the night just to dampen the noise.  Ever since I started hammock camping I really dislike sleeping on the hard ground.  The car didn’t offer a better nights sleep either.  Oh well…that’s life on the road!

 

South Dakota

 

South Dakota will always be one of the most sacred and beautiful places to me.  12 years ago I traveled to The Badlands in South Dakota on a sort of spiritual pilgrimage.  I was searching for a spiritual practice and started reading a book called Black Elk Speaks.  This book opened my eyes and my heart and was the reason that I traveled to The Badlands.  The rest of that story I will keep to myself for now….I am sure I will share later!

Dudes…when you get to western Minnesota you will see your first sign for Wall Drug.  Then for the next 400 or so miles there will be a crap ton of billboards of all shapes and sizes advertising a free doughnut and a 5⊄ cup of coffee!  5⊄ cup of coffee?????? Heck YES PLEASE!!!!  Well the coffee if 5 cents if you sit down in the restaurant.  I bought mine to go as I have already wandered around Wall Drug before and it is very touristy and very crowded.  Definitely a must see if you have never been out that way!  You almost feel like a jerk if you don’t stop by because they goad you with cute and welcoming signs for 400 hundred miles!  I don’t want to dampen their efforts…so I always stop by when I am in the neighborhood 😀

After I left South Dakota I cut through the upper northeast corner of Wyoming.  Wyoming so much to see and I definitely recommend getting out there to visit but on this trip I took the quickest way to Oregon.

I am going to skip over my drive through Montana as I will be spending a majority of my time there and will write about it at length later.  I am heading out of Oregon tomorrow morning and making my way there!  I cannot wait!!!!

Next up Oregon!  To be continued….

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

 

 

 

Sun and Inspiration


Truth is, I haven’t been inspired to write anything for a while now.  Not sure if it was a lack of adventure in the winter time, endless days of no sun or a combination of both.  Combination of both.  I cannot say that I did a whole lot of adventuring lately.  Anyways today is the first day in a long time that I have felt like writing anything.

I woke up Saturday morning and the sun was shining bright through my apartment warming the floors and my inner sense of peace.   I did my usual routine of dusting the sleep out of my eyes, washing dishes and putting the kettle on to brew coffee in the french press.  I did some yoga while waiting for the kettle to whistle (dudes I am stiff!)  I also flipped through a couple of pages of the latest Patagonia catalog.  Inspiration can always be found in there and this time it lit a little bit of a fire inside of me.  Sometimes I rip out a few pages and put them on my fridge.  When I lose inspiration I have a couple of reminders staring me in the face of what I love about my life and what I aspire to.  😀

 

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I started back rock climbing a couple of months ago.  Starting back out was humbling as all get out.  My arms were like wet noodles and muscles that I had forgotten existed were screaming at me, but over time I have been getting a little stronger and stronger and that has been feeling real good.  Friday my friend Jon and I climbed outside for the first time this year and it was awesome!  The sun was warm, the rock was dry and it was quiet.  I LOVE climbing outside as you get to pick your own route and you can climb the same area a million different ways.  Just now as I type, I checked in with my buddy Dave and he sent me a photo of him and a few others gearing up to climb at the New River Gorge in West Virginia.  I couldn’t make it this weekend due to prior obligations but I am sooooooo jealous right now!  It is cool though because next weekend we are heading down to the Red River Gorge, KY!

By no means am I good climber right now.  I am weak, stiff and I get pumped (pumped is when your forearms burn out) so easy.  Most of all my breathing is total crap as I climb.  I get anxious and my breathing becomes erratic.  Shane the manager at Cleveland Rock Gym was helping me with this one particular bouldering problem a few weeks back and as soon as I got off the wall his advice for me was not foot placement nor hand placement but he said, “You have to breathe Lori.”  Since then I have been trying to do just that.

I miss climbing in California.  The weather is almost always perfect and you can climb outside all year long.  The climbing gyms open up at 6:30am so you can get your climb on before work which I totally love because I am waaaay better in the mornings than in the evenings.  My energy is full throttle when I wake up most mornings and I usually pewter out about 5pm.

You don’t have to climb rocks or backpack through the woods.  Just being out in nature will erase tension and worries.

This weekend in Cleveland was just awesome.  Bright sun, warm temps and endless things to do outside.  I was fortunate enough to hang out with new friend I met through my backpacking group.  🙂  Luda and her husband came to an event a couple of weeks ago and her and I were able to connect and get together for some girl talk and coffee on Sunday.  She is a pretty cool person and I looking forward to hanging out and having new fun workout friend!

Friday my best friend Sara and I went to the listen to the Cleveland Orchestra and hung out again Sunday morning with her 2 girls at the beach and playground!  Saturday my niece Kelly and I went for a bike ride/jog in the park.  We hiked up to a spot where we could watch the planes fly over really low upon landing.  Kelly thought is was super cool and I NEVER EVER get tired of it!  I also hung out with my awesome folks too.  All in all this weekend was pretty darn awesome!

Life seems fuller right now and it feels good.  There are some things on the horizon that are going to be challenging but beneficial.  It feels good to put words on the page again.  Inspiration is blooming!

Life is not black and white.  We have to constantly move forward and explore aspects of our lives that may seem scary.  I believe that is how we set an example of love, adventure and continuous learning.  Sometimes things ARE meant to come to an end.  Not because you didn’t try hard enough, just simply because things have run their course.  I don’t have a desire to be stagnant/complacent.  Not at the expense of myself or the people I love, it wouldn’t do anyone any good in the long run.  Love yourself first… get to know yourself.

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

 

Woke up and drove to New York… :D


 

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View from the upper falls area

 

Duuuudes…  you ever have one of those mornings when you feel an overwhelming desire to get the heck out of town or you may just lose your mind?!?!?!  That is exactly how I felt Saturday morning.  I was suppose to go snowshoeing with friends and was really looking forward to it as I have never been snowshoeing before.  However, when I opened my eyes I knew I had to pack up a few things and hop in my car.  It was a loooong week at work and some personal stuff was just brewing up inside me and that my friends makes for a great “get the heck out of dodge and drive to somewhere beautiful” kind of a much needed day!  So I pack a bunch of warm clothes, a thermos of hot coffee, some snacks, loaded up on gas and hit the highway.  I am not going to lie…. the weather was somewhat crappy but I didn’t care.

I knew exactly where I wanted to go.  I friend had told me about a place called “The Grand Canyon of the East” about a year ago.  I googled it and found it to be located in Letchworth State Park in Castile, NY.  So dudes, I plugged it into the map app on my phone, hit the open road and let my car take me there.

There is something about a road trip that gets me so totally excited and I feel so at peace and free.  I remember when I was moving from Venice Beach, CA up to San Francisco, I felt this feeling of relief knowing that I get to move someplace new and exciting…again!  Having the freedom to travel whenever I want to is so….sacred to me.  Sacred is the only word that I can think of to describe the feeling.  Although Cleveland is my home base for now, I would never rule out moving someplace new again.  😉

First I entered Pennsylvania (very short drive through this part of PA) then onto to New York.  The drive to New York wasn’t that bad.  I hit a few snow squalls heading of out Cleveland and in PA as well but I never thought to turn around.  It turned out to be a pretty decent drive for the most part.  I just took my time and wasn’t in any kind of hurry 🙂

I love driving along long stretches of land and looking out over the farms with really old barns and old houses with high pitched roofs.  Everything looks really pretty when it is snow covered.  Like a moment from a postcard from 60-70 years ago.  The landscapes seem to stand still in time when they are blanketed with snow.

After driving 4.5 hours and plenty of beautiful farms, I finally arrived at Letchworth State Park.

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It. Was. Cold….very cold!  I arrived and checked into the ranger’s station only to find out that that part of the park was closed due to the weather.  A lot of roads in the park were closed because they were not passable.  I also inquired to see if I could get a cabin for the night.  I had this idea in my head that I was going to take a nice warm shower, read, write, relax and meditate until my heart’s content.  That didn’t happen!  I figured no one would be wanting to spend the night in a sub zero temps out in a state park, even if it was in a cabin.  Wellll I forgot that it was Valentine’s Day weekend.  Bummer because there was not single cabin available.  So what’s a lady to do?  I put on my winter gear and went for a hike around that part of the park.  It was breathtaking!  The following description is from the New York State Park website,

“Letchworth State Park, renowned as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern U.S. The Genesee River roars through the gorge over three major waterfalls between cliffs–as high as 600 feet in some places–surrounded by lush forests. Hikers can choose among 66 miles of hiking trails. Trails are also available for horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. Letchworth offers nature, history and performing arts programs, guided walks, tours, a summer lecture series, whitewater rafting, kayaking, a pool for swimming and hot air ballooning.”  It was also named by USA Today,  America’s favorite state park 2015.

 

I cannot wait to go back in the late spring or early summer!  I want to hike for a couple of days and tent camp.  I don’t know if there is much backpacking in the park but I will have to find out for sure.  Wikipedia does a great job of explaining the history and formation of the canals and waterfalls within and around Letchworth State Park.   I tell you guys it’s worth the read 🙂

I hiked around and soaked up the scenery for while before heading back to Ohio.  The skies were so blue with wispy clouds spread out over the horizon.  The sun was bright and I could not have asked for a better day.  Even if it was insanely cold out!  The cool (pun intended!) part was the contrast of the blue sky against the evergreen trees. The trees just POPPED against the blue.  Very cool 🙂  Also the water below that was flowing through the canyon was a greenish blue color.  The color of VERY VERY VERY cold water.  Brrrr….  I had this thought that what if the cliff gave way and I slid hundreds of feet to the bottom of the canyon!?  Morbid I know but seriously…lol!  As I drove out of the park the wind picked just enough to blow some snow of the evergreen branches and they kissed my car gently as if to say, “Thank you for wandering around and see you soon.”

I stopped in a little town (the name of it has slipped my mind) to have dinner which was much needed after eating only a few snacks over the course of 8 hours.  I thought about staying in that little town but I really wanted to be in a cabin surrounded by snow and trees.  A small town hotel would not have had the same effect!

Well folks that is it for now!  I hope you had a good start to the week and I will check in again very soon.  I have to tell you about Sunday’s mini-road trip!

Oh and my friend Pete just posted a trip to the Wind River Range in Wyoming in August!  So stoked!!!

Happy road trippin’ ;D

 

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

 

The Everyday Outdoor Adventurer


Hello!  I just had the most amazing weekend!  I hope you all did as well 🙂  My weekend was full of dancing, the beach and working out times 2!  I want to start a new segment on this blog titled The Everyday Outdoor Adventurer.  I love meeting new and inspiring people in and around my area!  But first let’s talk about Friday night!

Friday night…lol!  Some girls from work and myself headed out Friday night to go see That 80’s Band at Vosh in Lakewood.  This band tours locally around Ohio and will be back in the area soon so you can better believe we will be seeing them again! We walked into a semi-swanky night club to all of our favorite 80’s music blaring from the stage.  This band is GREAT!  They do the most amazing covers from Michael Jackson to The Bangles and they even did a great Journey cover (and that is hard to do!)  It didn’t take us long to order our drinks and head out onto the dance floor!  Now, I am NO great dancer but how did you really dance in the 80’s anyways?!  We danced ALL NIGHT LONG!  They even ended the night with one of my favorite songs, Cheap Trick’s I Want You To Want Me (which was actually released in the 70’s.).  I love dancing around my place when that song comes on!  It is so upbeat and catchy!  I do not have pictures from that night (probably better that way..lol!)  Sadly the last song of the night played and we had to head home.  😦  But I did have a little keepsake from our all night dance session… I woke up Saturday morning and my neck was soooo stiff!  I was dancing and whipping my head around way too much.  Really glad there aren’t any pics or videos 😉

After I was positive that I didn’t throw out my neck, I ventured down to the shore with a hot delicious cup of coffee from Erie Island Coffee Company.  I cannot express to you in words how blissfully happy I am to be living 1 minute from this amazing coffee joint!

Mmmm....
Mmmm….

So after picking up my favorite local brew Saturday morning I headed down to the beach.  I don’t know of anything I love more than sitting on the warm sand, digging my toes in and gazing out at the water with a cup of coffee in hand.  The beach I went to is also my favorite beach to scope out driftwood.  I love the way the sun and water strip away layers and produces a soft weathered beautiful piece of wood.  I always wonder about the journey of the pieces I bring home.  Where did it come from, how long had it been in the water?  Here is one that I would have loved to bring home but it was WAY heavy!

gnarly
gnarly

So I am sitting there sipping my coffee with the warm sun shining down on me just loving life at that moment when this guy comes trotting down the sand with his kayak.  Let me explain the water conditions that morning.  It seemed almost as if the earth had stopped rotating.  The water was as smooth as glass as far as my eyes could see.  I didn’t really see any movement and would have been unaware of any if not for the ever so gentle lapping of the water coming to say hi to the shore.  In other words it was perfect for kayaking.

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The guy who was nice enough to chat with me and let me take his picture is Marty.  We had a nice chat about kayaking and our love for being out on the water.  Him and his wife just launch their boats and go.  How fantastic?!  He also invited me to a drum circle 🙂

“In 1991, during testimony before the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging, Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart stated:

Typically, people gather to drum in drum “circles” with others from the surrounding community. The drum circle offers equality because there is no head or tail. It includes people of all ages. The main objective is to share rhythm and get in tune with each other and themselves. To form a group consciousness. To entrain and resonate. By entrainment, I mean that a new voice, a collective voice, emerges from the group as they drum together.”

~courtesy of Wikipedia

I have not been to a drum circle since Venice Beach.  I do enjoy them but I am not a devotee like most of the people who attend.  But still I will definitely have to check it out and see how ones in Ohio compare to ones in Venice Beach…lol.

I also met Eric!  I was gazing out at the water when this figure came slowly into focus.  I knew right away that I had to talk to this person.

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Eric is a stand up paddle boarder and a Lake Erie surfer.  Two things that I definitely want to try!  We talked for a little while about both sports and how he got involved in them.  I don’t know how much backpacking I will be doing this summer with SO many other cool things to get into!!!!!  Turns out Eric made his own board and paddle.  He doesn’t sell them but did give me a number to a person who does and it turns out the place is right down the street from me!

I love meeting The Everyday Outdoor Adventurer when I am out and about.  I love their stories of how they got involved with whatever it is they are doing at the moment.  That is also how I find out about other cool and different things to do in the Cleveland area.  I love people and find most to be very interesting when you get to chatting.  🙂  With that being said I could probably make friends and hold a conversation with an inanimate object too, that’s how much I love talking!  I find that 10 times out of 10 when I approach someone, they are totally cool with me snapping their pick.  It is all in how you ask 😉

After leaving that beach I went and picked up one nephew and two nieces and headed back down to the beach!  Seriously though, it was the perfect day to be there!

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We had such a good time!  We packed a lunch and some sand toys and were on our way 🙂  It was such a perfect day to be out at the shore.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Juuuust perfect!  I loved that they kept talking about how they love being out in nature and exploring.  They had so much fun out on the rocks and climbing in and out of the ones with little tide pools.  They buried each other.  And they dug holes in the sand so deep that when they went in they were up to their knees!  Of course we covered them in and packed them down so no one would be strolling along and fall into one.  After we packed up the toys and lunch we headed out to a local ice cream shop and topped off our afternoon with dessert.  Dairy Grove in North Ridgeville has some of the best custard I have ever had!

After two days of non stop fun it was time to get in a good sweaty workout on Sunday morning!  I led a small group of people on a cardio session out in Rocky River Reservation.  I have talked about this set of stairs before in a previous post.  Although this time instead of going up and down with 3 different types of stepping, we also included a 1/3 of a mile loop run in between each set of stairs climbing.  It was fun and hard and exhausting but it felt sooo good!  What felt really good was the brief slightly chilly rain that surprised us during our workout!  It was a nice happenstance 🙂

But the workout for me didn’t stop there!  I am starting to run with my niece Molly.  She is in track and asked me to run with her and I so totally gladly said I would!  So after a mile run and 5 sets of 134 stairs I went to pick up my niece and go run another couple of miles!  Hahaha..I am going to feel it over the next few days.  We ran and then did a bunch of running exercises and then concluded our workout with a good 20 minutes of stretching.  Ahhhhh….   Then we headed home to shower and go to my other niece and nephew’s track meet to watch them run and jump!

It was a jam packed friend and family filled weekend and I could not have asked for a better one!

I hope you all had a great weekend too!  Let me know what fun things you did this weekend in the comments section below!

Peace, love and lots of warm sunshine,

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I have the world to myself….


Sunrise on Lake Erie
Sunrise on Lake Erie

I am an early bird!  Ever since I was a young girl I would always be the first of my friends up and about and calling their houses endlessly because I wanted to start hanging out and playing stat!  Now that I am a “little older” I LOVE waking up early and having the world to myself before the rest of the town wakes up.  When I lived in Venice Beach I would wake up and throw on some flip flops, put my hair up and walk down to the ocean with a cup of coffee in hand.  If I woke up early enough I could get down to the shore in time to watch the dolphins surf the waves.  Looking out at the vast Pacific and knowing there is a whole other world beneath those waves is just humbling to me.  Gosh those were some magical times! 

There is something about being with the earth in the morning sunlight with just the sounds of nature that just makes me overflow with happiness.  I have dated men that didn’t like that I was an early riser.  They would complain and say, “Can’t you just sleep in?”  But I love to be up in the morning, pitter pattering around the house making coffee, sweeping the floor or going out to get the paper.  I then would make coffee for the both of us, take it to our room and read the paper in bed while they slept in a little longer.  Now what guy would have a problem with that?!  Apparently I have not met “my guy” yet as I am sure he would appreciate having the house cleaned and coffee brought to him before he even got out of bed to pee!!!  😉  The right guy will be beside me at the lake in the early morning light..

Now I realize I have this luxury because I do not yet have children but when I do one day, I will wake their little sleepy heads and carry them all nestled and warm to the lake to watch the morning sunshine wash across their beautiful faces.

As my thoughts flow from me this morning I am sitting atop the little gem I found yesterday in RRR.  There is a definite chill in the air but I made a hot cup of coffee and brought a warm blanket to keep the chill away.  What I wouldn’t give for a hammock right now tied between 2 pines I saw earlier all warm and cozy in a sleeping bag!  I am listening to the water flow down the river below, watching the big fat robins hunt for worms and feeling the wind rush past me.  I am so in love 🙂

My morning office :)
My morning office 🙂

I hope this day finds you all at peace and happy.  May spring bring new beginnings and lots of love for you!

Peace, love and lots of warm sunshine,

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What do you love most about mornings?

Backpacking, coffee and conversations!


What’s up everyone?!  I am writing today from one of my favorite cafes on the westside of Cleveland, Erie Island Coffee Company.

Best coffee on the westside!
Best coffee on the westside!

There aren’t too many independent coffee shops (or cafes as I mostly call them) on the westside anymore.  It really bummed out my friends and I when a cafe called Caribou Coffee closed down about a year and a half ago.  Caribou Coffee was a great coffee shop that was only found in the midwest and northeast. (not exactly local but regional?)  They had the coziest cabin like feel complete with fireplaces!  I miss Caribou tremendously and their Ho Ho White Mint Mocha that I’d always get at Christmas time!!!  So now when I am out and about in Rocky River I always stop at Erie Island for some great black coffee.  I rarely order a foo foo coffee and don’t like cream or sugar in my cup of joe!  I seriously have a deep affinity for the coffee beans 😀  I swear I should roast my own beans but hey…  I want to take a roasting class just to learn about the different types of beans and the whole process of making a great cup of coffee.  When I lived in San Francisco there were great coffee shops everywhere!  One of my favorites was Blue Bottle.  I’m salivating right now just thinking of their coffee.  😛   Philz Coffee is another great one out there.  At Philz you can choose from a couple of dozen different types of coffee and they single cup brew it for you right on the spot!  It is heavenly.  I would kill for a coffee shop like Philz here in the Cleveland area.  (Westside please!?..haha)

Anyways I want to change the subject for a minute!  I NEVER thought that I could have so much to say on a blog.  I’m sitting here thinking, “Where do I start?”  There are so many things that I want to talk about and get information back on.  My brain is running wild with all sorts of topics.  I get inspired daily when I am at work.  I meet all sorts of people and have great conversations with them.  I also belong to an amazing backpacking group filled with all sorts of characters with crazy stories..The Hopeless Wanderers!

The Hopeless Wanderers!
The Hopeless Wanderers!

Speaking of those characters I am heading out on a fall backing backing trip to Monongahela National Forest in wild and wonderful West Virginia!  I can’t wait to get lost in the woods, cook my meals over a campfire and wake up to a beautiful view outside my tent!  I love being outside, as I have said before, and I jump at the chance to go backpacking whenever I can!  The autumn colors are going to be radiant!

My view atop Mt. Rogers in Virginia...bliss
My view atop Mt. Rogers in Virginia…bliss

I desperately need new hiking shoes, however I am going to try to get one more hike out of my current pair of Moab Mid Waterproof Merrells.  They are a great day hiking shoe but not the best for a multi-day trip.  I also need a new pack.  I bought mine years ago before they made them gender specific.  I am shorty McShortesen and my current pack takes up half my body!  It is a great Mountainsmith pack that has totally stood the test of time.  I have used this pack for over 10 years and it has been all across the country with me.  I will absolutely keep it as a keepsake!  Maybe build a shrine to it…LOL! Just kidding 😉  I’m not a total gear head as it is exspensive!  My dream is to be a field tester for outdoor gear companies.  I not a pro, but hey Jane Goodall wasn’t a pro when she ventured to Africa!

On that note I have to go “get lost” in my favorite park before I head over to my sister’s house for some twin time and of course some “E” time!!! (“E” is my 22 month niece)  My sister and her family are home now and busy nesting with their now family of 5!  Oh my stars…how life grows in love everyday!

~Lori

“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Questions for you…

Do you camp or backpack?

If so what are your favorite spots?

Spas, parks and babies = relaxation and love

Holy awesome Sunday Batman!


Great morning to all you out there!  I am excited to share my Sunday with you so let’s go!  🙂

Yesterday morning I made the decision to start this blog.  I was inspired by an awesome blogger Julie from Peanut Butter Fingers at www.pbfingers.com.  Her blog always puts me in a better mood with her tales from everyday life.  Plus her and her husband have a crazy cute dog named Sadie that she frequents in her blog.  So thanks Julie for being awesome at what you do!

Secondly, nothing in the world makes me happier than to be outside.  But first I went inside…to the hot tub and sauna.  Hmmmm….relaxation.  The place that I work at has an amazing gym that offers everything you’d ever want to do.  I kept telling myself that I should soothe my sore muscles with a soak in the hot tub and a session in the sauna.  My little piece of advice….maaaybe just do one or the other.   😉   I am not capable of being in a hot tub too long for two reasons… 1.  boredom and 2. They can be too hot!  And going from the hot tub to the sauna was tooo much even with the 24 ounces of water I had on hand to stay hydrated.  😦   Normally I can stay in the sauna for a good 30 minutes but today I lasted 3 minutes and got the heck out of there.

Now for the great outdoors!  I went on a hike/jog today with my friend Chris.  The weather was sunny and crisp and the leaves are changing rapidly here in Northern Ohio.  There are these huge set of stairs by the nature center at one of the many local Cleveland Metroparks.  I usually do 10-15 climbs 2-3 times a week.  It hurts but it’s a good hurt I promise!

Around 134 stairs.  Kind of looks like a giant bug coming your way!
Around 134 stairs. Kind of looks like a giant bug coming your way!
Golden leaves :)
Golden leaves 🙂

I basically grew up in these parks and could hike them everyday and never tire of them because there seems to be new trails that I rediscover every so often.  In fact my friend Chris goes here a lot too and I showed him a trail that he’s never been on.  I lived in Southern and Northern California for about 6 years and I really missed the Cleveland Metroparks even though I had access to all the GREAT parks in California.  I missed the big shades trees, watching the sun filter through the canopy, getting rained on by the morning dew that falls from the leaves while I am out running.   I heart Cleveland!!!  So after an amazing hike/jog in the park with a good friend I headed back indoors to….

My niece and nephew...TWINS...so much love!
My niece and nephew…TWINS…so much love!

The TWO newest additions to my plethora of nieces and nephews.  I now have nine of them!  No shortage of kids in this family which means no shortage of love!  My amazing sister and her sweet husband welcomed these two little beautiful humans into the world on 10/3/14.  They are the cutest little buggers and I could not resist holding them for hours on end today 😀  My mom and I were there Sunday while my sister rested and took a nap and her husband spent some quality one on one time with their other adorable child, a  22 month old daughter.  I am a newborn natural.  I nannied in California for a while and newborns were my specialty.  When I have a newborn in my arms it seems as if bombs could drop all around me and I would still be in a complete state of bliss.

What a fun, amazing, beautiful and happy Sunday!  I hope you are all having a great start to your week!

Feel free to comment below and share your happy weekend stories with me!  I’d love to hear them 😀

Live well,

Lori

“Give what  you have.  To someone it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow