Adventures of Life

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Memories are made to be built upon

For the past month I have buried myself in self reflection.  I start my day with stretching both of my body and of my mind.  I have learned much about myself, things I like, things I would alter through self growth and understanding, I am rediscovering me.
Today started off in a spectacular fashion. I climbed out of my tent to see mountains rising above me, mist lingering on the peaks while the sun made an appearance through the light cloud cover.  I woke feeling refreshed, free of negative energy and the sense of foreboding which had been weighing me down the past couple of days.  The morning was an opportunity to deal with chores and to reconnect with the “outside world.”  Oh the glories of Facebook and email.  I shared my latest photo project and caught up with my puppy sitter and that’s when it happened, the email came through from my mother.  My mother who doesn’t share all the information, only what she deems important at the moment (sorry mom).  The email stated “I’ll pick you up in Dover.  Grampa is in the hospital…” for anyone who knows my family hearing that my grandfather is in the hospital is common news, I’m pretty sure he has frequent flyer miles, it was the rest of the sentence that had me pause “he had a hemorrhagic stroke.”  This was not the way my grandfather rolled, he never went in for anything serious.  Needless to say the information was sparse and being on the other side of the country doesn’t make it easy to drop in and see what’s going on.  Instead I did the rational thing, I cried!  I let the fear and the pain flood my senses and run from my eyes. 
There is something so healing about letting your emotions free. For the moment I was on my own with only myself available to process the situation.  All the time spent looking inward became an asset, I let myself truly feel the emotions coursing through me, I didn’t bury them or look to others to provide the support I thought I needed, there would be time for that later. 
Sitting looking at the expansive wilderness in front of me I had decisions to make.  Do I cut my trip short and fly home? Do I stick out the next couple weeks and hope for good news? There were many checks and balances to do. When the life of someone you love has an unknown destiny, one which has a possible time limit, every choice made will impact your life.  I sat looking out at the mountains and the river.  My mind wandered filled with the memories of all the time spent with my grandfather, hikes to his favorite fishing hole, cribbage games, driving my grandmother and him south for the winter (in a 30′ motor home towing a car), his stories of being a WWII POW, and so much more.  His excitement and support of my upcoming adventure to hike the AT.  I am blessed for any and every moment I have with my grandfather.
With much thought behind my decision and knowing what my grandfather would want for me I have decided to finish my current adventure.  Updates on my grandfather say he’s doing well.  I’m looking forward to giving him a great big hug upon my return to NH.


The flood

And an adventure it has been.  Days upon days of rain falling to the point that my tent had to be moved for possible record breaking floods. The river rose over ten feet in two days.  The grass patch is where my tent was.


The before flood river.  See normally there are rocks.

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Passing moments

The world flashed by viewed from the back of a truck, trees, rocks, cows, and mountains. Watching the land roll past I saw new things which should have been laid out ahead of me but were now only passing memories. I could enjoy a life of travel where you look not at where you are going but appreciate where you could have been and know that when the time is right you’ll get there.






In the midst of chaos

I feel like I am caught in the moment just before you know the really bad thing is about to happen. For example as a young child I was chasing after our 150 pound dog who was having a blast chasing after a jogger. I don’t know if you’ve ever been pursued by a 150 pound black dog whose bark is so deep it causes every bone in your body to vibrate. Either way you may know why this jogger wasn’t stopping for my shouts of “he’s friendly!” You really don’t want to take the moment to find out if it’s true. As I peddled furiously down the road my mother drove past me and stopped to grab the dog. I knew before it happened that I was in a dangerous situation. As my front wheel passed the back bumper of her car she opened her door. It was the cartoon moment! My bike collided with the drivers side door catapulting me over the top of it. I remember flying through the air and thinking “oh no this is going to hurt!” as the asphalt came up to meet me.

Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches

Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches

Right now I am running around trying to gather all my stuff up for a weekend adventure to South Carolina where I will attend a wedding and promptly turn around and drive back to New Hampshire have one day to put the last of my stuff in order and hop on a plane to California. I am sure that somewhere in this mix a car door is going to open and launch me in some unexpected direction.
For now I will continue to gather my wits and try to appreciate the small things the world puts before me!

unearthly drips

unearthly drips

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A day in pictures

No matter how far you’ve come you can always go further.
The desire to be out in the mountains camping under the stars sits heavily upon me. To wake in the morning and heat water over a camp stove. To sip coffee while watching the stars fade into the morning light. To know that all I need is right there at the tip of my fingers.

Moonrise and Sunset can cause extreme shifts in gravity so please be cautious when outdoor during these exchanges

Moonrise and Sunset can cause extreme shifts in gravity so please be cautious when outdoors during these exchanges

While I wait for the mountains I will spend my time in the places I can kick back and enjoy the air. Today was all about that bass, ahhh beach, beach that is. Darn that song is all over the radio and creeping into your head when you least expect it.
Star and I spent the late morning walking the sand with our best friends. Running, playing and being goofy. Because in life it’s really all you have.


A common exchange between me and Star


Deer impression 101


Best friends!


Somehow the mustache shifted…


I didn’t know the dog but he was having too much fun not to capture the moment!


Someone gave themself to me

I am reminded again and again to be grateful for what I have! I have a great job which allows me to make positive differences in the lives of others. I am able to share my own knowledge and wisdom or to gain insight into outcomes through others experiences.
Over a year ago my world crashed down on me. I couldn’t find the positives in my life. The pain and frustrations of my knee injury were greater than I could have imagined. I had looked forward to the surgery thinking it would happen and all would be well. It’s never as easy as it seems.


When walking is still challenging water is a great option.

Almost exactly a year ago I was battling through the rigors of PT, fighting for a chance to go car camping in Acadia. This year I’m fighting for clearance to go hike the Appalachian Trail, departing in 7 to 8 months time.  It took my physical therapist reminding me of my journey before I truly realized where I was.  Since my surgery I had been stuck in a negative space which had become my life.  With the acknowledgement of my growth from beginning to present I suddenly found light again.  That despite my battles I had gained much, both in losses and wins.  My job reminds me over and over again, life is never easy but there is a way.

I need to thank a family. I’ve been holding onto the donor card from my surgery waiting for the right time. I want to let the family of the person know they made a difference. I don’t know how to word my appreciation. How can you recognize a family’s loss by sending a letter stating that the little ligament in your knee, which their loss provided for you, is opening new doors? Six years ago the idea to hike a trail spanning more than 10 states and over 2000 miles was nothing but a tiny seed. After my surgery I needed a goal, something to give meaning to my life again. The AT was it. I want to share my amazing journey with this family. I want to show them the bright side of their loss. The beauty of things newly discovered, of limits pushed, and strength gained. I want them to know even the little things made a big difference.


This was my first “hike” after my surgery. I braced up and headed out onto the trail. We took our time and enjoyed the trek.

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Life takes a hiatus

My idea of life and yours may be completely different. When I think about what it means to be alive I picture time spent hiking through the woods, swimming in lakes, and kicking back at the end of a day looking up at the stars. Therefore my life is on hiatus. I was ready. The trails were calling my name and I had places to be. BUT until I get clearance, from my wonderful physical therapist, I am not allowed to do any “serious” hiking.

Sometimes you find the "trail" on the water

Sometimes you find the “trail” on the water

My days are filled with many things. Simple walks through the woods, going to work where I bowl or play on giant water slides, facilitating team building with awesome youth, photographing my best friends wedding, escaping mad wasps, or researching all the cat food in the world. Again, our idea of excitement may vary. As enjoyable as all of these things are they are either a brief blip on my radar or a constant in my life. And for this reason they do not satiate the desire that burns within me to hike to the top of a mountain and lay out to enjoy the wind, watch the clouds and relax knowing my house, for the night, is on my back.
I unexpectedly became a wedding photographer

I unexpectedly became a wedding photographer

The blips in my life usually hold quite a bit of excitement. I rarely walk away from them with regrets. Some blips last longer than others or are intertwined creating rapid fire blips or blips². For example my woods walks are a regular blip in my schedule. I load the car up and head to the woods, grab the Chuck-it and my dog and that’s that. Now let’s create some excitement.
Imagine it’s been a peaceful walk. The weather is perfect, there is a slight breeze rustling the trees and keeping the bugs at bay. If you close your eyes and lift your face toward the sky the rays of the sun peek through the leaves warming you ever so slightly. The latest, and greatest, blip on the radar is swimming for the pup. Star has just learned how to swim so it is a mandatory activity when water is near.
Nothing like a good shake after rescuing your ball

Nothing like a good shake after rescuing your ball

Today, swimming was perfect! We continue on our way enjoying a very lazy walk. There is no rushing today, it is a day of absolute freedom. As we finish up our hour plus meander we round the bend to the last section of trail. Star leads the way, an easy twenty feet ahead. Suddenly the woods are full of screeching! I look up to see where it is coming from to find Star frantically pawing at her face and biting at her legs and belly. Every muscle in my being wants to rush forward to help her. Instead I stand rooted in place calling her name trying to coax her to me. She can’t focus on my kind voice as the angry wasps bury themselves in her. I start yelling, demanding she come to me. My voice must cut through her pain because she starts moving in my direction. I turn and start jogging down the trail, calling over my shoulder, I glance back long enough to see her there then sprint forward trying to stay well in front of her. I usher her down into a stream where she can lay down and cool her body from the angry stings. I become all that drives me crazy. I coo and fawn over her, I use a baby voice and ask her questions she can’t answer.
We call it a day and make our way out of the woods, using a different trail of course. Upon returning home I take some time to turn the cooing into productive hands on investigation of the sting zones. It’s been half an hour and her poor face has started to swell.
A little ice to reduce swelling on her jaw and neck She loved this idea!

A little ice to reduce swelling on her jaw and neck
She loved this idea!

A little research and a vet call later Star is happily dosed up on Benadryl (1mg/lbs). She curls up on the couch and passes out all in good fashion. The swelling on her cheek and jaw have reduced dramatically by bed time and she seems none the worse for the blip in our day. But I know this blip will leave an impression on the radar.

So we sit, we tally, we appreciate what we have and look forward to what we want.

anything is possible given enough time and determination

anything is possible given enough time and determination

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The journey is the destination

There are times when life takes over. I had this awesome plan laid out and suddenly I was pushed off onto a detour. It’s been just over a year since I had my ACL replaced, I had found the trails again and had huge plans ahead of me. But first it seems I need to travel some bumpy ground before I get to my destination.

It's important to enjoy the wildflower that line your path

It’s important to enjoy the wildflower that line your path

Three months ago my leg started bothering me. At first I thought it was all in my head but I realized the pain was consistent, I was allowing the pain to become part of my day to day life. I made a couple calls, one specifically to my surgeon. “My tibia is achy. More specifically, where you put a screw in my leg I am getting a deep throbbing pain in the bone. Any chance the screw is coming out on its own?”

Three weeks later I’m sitting in his office while he pokes my leg and confirms my fears. I’ve got a screw loose. Another three weeks and I’m sitting in a hospital bed waiting to have it removed. Bonus to the surgery, I’m back in physical therapy to continue focused muscle building. Surgery was quick, I walked out of the hospital on crutches and found a nice place on the couch for the next couple days while the throbbing subsided.

Guess being short a loose screw isn't a bad thing

Guess being short a loose screw isn’t a bad thing

Star and I missed the woods. Short walks at the park were all I could handle despite my hopes for more. But true to my style I found myself back in the woods by the end of the week. What would have been an easy 45 min casual walk covering 2 miles became a 2 1/2 hour walk. If it had been flat terrain I’d have had little difficulty but this section of woods housed dips and rises which slowed me drastically. Once again I was humbled by how quickly life can change.

When you've been cooped up for a week with nothing but Chuck-it time at the park it's time to branch out when you hit the woods.

When you’ve been cooped up for a week with nothing but Chuck-it time at the park it’s time to branch out when you hit the woods.

When forced to slow down you start looking at all the things surrounding you. You pause and readjust your angle, the new perspectives are worth it.  Black Eyed Susan's catching rays

When forced to slow down you start looking at all the things surrounding you.
You pause and readjust your angle, the new perspectives are worth it.
Black Eyed Susan’s catching rays

It's the little things you need to stop and take a moment to look at.  Even if it means getting low to the ground. "Corpse Plant or Indian Pipe"

It’s the little things you need to stop and take a moment to look at.
Even if it means getting low to the ground.
“Corpse Plant or Indian Pipe”

My feet were back on the ground and I was moving forward, so why stop? If you’re going to get things done you’re better off doing them all at once. I’d been dreading making a dental appointment. But the wisdom teeth were past due and I wanted them out. A simple evaluation visit turned into multiple appointments getting my teeth cleaned and cavities taken care of (until two weeks ago I’d never had a filling). These trips were just the beginning, little did I know just how much I’d detest the idea of sitting in a dental chair.

X-rays of my mouth showed how very special I am. I not only had wisdom teeth which needed to be taken out but I had FIVE!!! Lucky for me I only needed two extracted. I made an appointment as soon as possible hoping to be done with it. Just as my leg was back on the mend and I was ready to hit the mountains again I found myself only dreaming of them. While the nitrous oxide kicked in I drifted off to the great outdoors. I saw myself hiking down the AT with my pup at my side. Life was awesome! Then I came too. I was in a fog. I couldn’t believe the surgery was already done and the awesomeness of the trail was not real. oh well, I felt GREAT!

All smiles and full of "laughing gas"

All smiles and full of “laughing gas”

Almost a week out from the extraction and life is still on hold. The dry socket I acquired on day four put a bit of a damper on the quick recovery, granted I can’t complain too much since my face didn’t puff up. A bonus and yet slightly disappointing, due to lack of swelling, I had no opportunity to play the role of a chipmunk. I do feel like a holiday special though, full of spice and everything nice. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to appreciate cloves again. Not after 48 hours of having my jaw “packed” with something heavily doused in clove oil (with the likely hood of a couple more days ahead of me).

So this is life at the moment. I am planning, plotting, and bleeding minds dry while I search for information about hiking the AT. The more knowledge I can gain the better off I’ll be. To sit and read someone else’s story about their experience on the trail just makes the prospect ahead of me that much more exciting.

We've done it before and we will do it again!!! Summit of Mt. Chocorua

We’ve done it before and we will do it again!!!
Summit of Mt. Chocorua