I’m a Little Bit Country

IMG_8878I never thought that I would say this, but I do think I am a little bit country. My family and I recently went to a Zac Brown Band concert at the Gorge Amphitheater. In my opinion, The Gorge is by far the best place to see a concert. We tried to see a concert there last year (on the exact same weekend) and it was cancelled due to weather. This year we got lucky. We saw The Zac Brown Band and they played a super fun and amazing show. I never really considered myself a country music fan until recently. Almost two years ago, we got a truck and a camper and have been spending a lot of time on the road. My husband introduced me to Zac Brown and with the amount of hours we have spent in the truck, you really get time to truly listen to the music and the words. The song Quiet Your Mind is one that really hits home for me. In this one song, it talks about everything I need to remember, every single day of my life. Here are the lyrics, take a look and you will understand what I am talking about. These are the lines that hit me:

IMG_8816At the end of the water
A red sun is risin’
And the stars are all goin’ away
And if you’re too busy talkin’
You’re not busy listenin’
To hear what the land has to say

Quiet your mind

I hear the waves
Sun beatin’ down on my shoulders
It’s a near-perfect day
Wishin’ I wouldn’t get any older
They say that it’s gone ‘fore you know it and
Soak it all in
It’s a game you can’t win
Enjoy the ride

The lyrics are simple, but they are right on – the idea that this is the only life we have and we need to enjoy every single day we have. We need to take care of ourselves so that we get more of these amazing days, but we also need to sit back and relax and enjoy the ride.

With that in mind, the other song I love by Zac Brown is this one, Free. It makes me think of my husband and I, and our dream of just living and traveling around the country with our family and enjoying every single second together and not worrying about anything else – because all we need is love. IMG_8844

Thanks for reading – Until next time!

kg

 

The 3-Week Trip

Over the past few months, our family has been talking about our summer trip – which ended up being named “The 3-Week Trip”, Andrew and I had a lot of planning to do, what to bring, where exactly we would be going, what we needed for the camper, etc. Whenever we talked about it we called it “The 3-Week Trip”. After months of talking about it, the time finally came that we got to pull out of our drive way and set out on “The 3-Week Trip”! Our first stop was Bend, Oregon to visit our good friends Tom & Lisa and their dog Ruby. We parked Wolf Creek in the driveway and took the bikes off the front of the truck and got busy in Bend. We rode our bikes everywhere, to dinner, to the park, to the river and all the spots in between. We had a great time paddling and floating down the Deschutes River in the sunshine. It should be noted, this is not a simple ride down the river, you do need to have a little skill and be aware of what is going on around you, at one point on the river you need to exit at the Colorado Ave bridge, if you are not watching the signs you could get into serious trouble and head into the portage. Andrew found this out the hard way, from his paddle board, he skillfully helped a family from disaster and helped them get to safety. We also enjoyed some lovely meals in Bend. While Tom & Lisa were kind enough to make lots of snacks, dinner and breakfast for us, one night we went out and rode to an awesome food truck pavilion called The Lot.This place was great, it had something for everyone, there are about 8-10 food trucks surrounding a covered patio with a bar in the middle! Perfection! We all got what we wanted, didn’t spend too much money, it was lovely.

Walking Ruby

Walking Ruby

Camping in Bend

Camping in Bend

 

 

 

 

 

After 2 nights in Bend we were off to our next stop. We headed to South Lake Tahoe to a place called Camp Richardson, on the California side of the Lake Tahoe. One thing we did realize on this trip is that driving time in the camper is a lot different than driving times provided by Google Maps. We found out that when Google says it will take 7 hours to get somewhere it will really take us about 9-10 hours, as the trip went on we made the adjustments and determined that on our next long road trip driving times will be much shorter and staying times will be longer. When we finally got into Camp Richardson after about 9 hours on the road, we were greeted by a huge thunderstorm (which made getting the paddle board on the roof a little tricky), but we couldn’t let it keep us in, we needed dinner so we set off in our ponchos to the restaurant and had dinner in the historic Beacon Bar & Grill. The next day the sun came out, in the morning we rode our bikes into town to get groceries for dinner and in the afternoon we were able to play on the water. Andrew and the girls rented a jet ski, while I paddled around the lake.  We enjoyed dinner at the campsite that night and the girls made friends with the other kids on their bikes. It was a great sight watching the kids bike around with other girls from Nevada & California, they had fun checking out other kids campers, making plans to meet up and exchanging addresses to be pen pals. One great thing about being away from home for awhile is that the kids learn to break out of their comfort zone and explore new things and meet new people.

Fun on Lake Tahoe

Fun on Lake Tahoe

tahoe bike gang

Lake Tahoe Bike Gang

 

We spent 2 nights at Lake Tahoe and then we were off to the Grand Canyon, another super long drive — seeing a trend yet? After this long trip, we learned no more driving at night. Setting up at night, even in a camper is tricky, but we made it to the North Rim without hitting any wildlife (thank God and super driver Andrew!) and rested up for a great day at the Canyon. In the morning we got up and headed to Point Imperial, the highest point on the North Rim at 8,803 feet (2,683 meters), overlooking the Painted Desert and the eastern end of Grand Canyon. We hiked one of the rim trails for a couple hours and then had lunch in the camper, overlooking the Canyon. For me, this was one of the highlights of the trip and one of the things I love about having our camper. Being able to have all your stuff right there is so convenient and made lunch a great experience. After lunch we explored the North Rim lodge and listened to some great Ranger Talks. The next day we took a tougher hike down into the canyon. We started at the North Kaibab Trail, headed down past the Supai Tunnel into the Roaring Springs Canyon. We turned around at the bridge that was recently built and headed back up, overall we hiked about 6.5 miles – we were super proud of the girls. It took about 2 hours to get down and only 2 hours and 15 minutes to get back up. They were super hikers! After the long day of hiking we had lunch at the North Rim Lodge and then decided to get on the road so that we could break up our 10 hour drive to the cabin in New Mexico into two days of driving – instead of one long day…see we’re learning! We did a little cheat here and ended up in a hotel in Farmington, NM. We were going to find a place to camp but with the camper packed with the paddle board, bikes, a bbq and much more, we couldn’t really boondock it with all our gear. We enjoyed clean sheets, fresh showers and a free breakfast! And were able to get on the road early and were able to see family in Eagle Nest in the early afternoon.

Beautiful Grand Canyon

Beautiful Grand Canyon

The view from the camper for our lunch stop at Imperial Point

The view from the camper for our lunch stop at Point Imperial

Relaxing at the North Rim  lodge.

Relaxing at the North Rim lodge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super hikers made it to the bridge!

Super hikers made it to the bridge!

 

 

 

We stayed in Eagle Nest for five days, this was a great time to visit with our family, do some laundry, sleep in real beds and spread out a bit. The first night we headed into Red River with cousins Jon & Monica and watched the two-steppers at the Motherlode Saloon. Andrew and I learned that we are not two-steppers and probably shouldn’t try again until we take some lessons. We spent a lot of time in Red River and Taos. The highlight of this trip was by far our hot air balloon ride with Eske’s Paradise Balloons. We started the morning by taking off in a hot air balloon at sunrise, touching down into the Rio Grande Canyon and then enjoying a champagne breakfast on the river. Absolutely amazing and breathtaking views. I love hot air balloons and in our past trips to New Mexico we have watched the balloon rallies, and always talked about going up in one, but thought the girls were too young. This trip they were old enough and it was AWESOME!

Girls in the balloon basket.

Girls in the balloon basket.

hot air balloon ride

Our balloon almost in the Rio Grande

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a great week at the cabin but had more of the Western US to see, on this trip we ended up going through all of the Western US states (except for Texas). The next stop was Dinosaur National Monument. This ended up to be the favorite spot for both the girls on the trip. The campground near Green River was great, we were close to the river, there was huge hill for the girls to climb and run down, we played in the water, hiked and explored all the amazing fossils, dinosaur bones and Petroglyphs. The Quarry Exhibit Hall was extraordinary, it was fascinating to see all that has been discovered in this part of the country and it was fun to imagine what it must have been like millions of years ago.

Touching real dinosaur bones!

Touching real dinosaur bones!

Playing in Green River

Playing in Green River

As we started on our second half of the trip, we headed North. Our next destination was Henry’s Lake in Idaho, near the western entrance of Yellowstone. On the way there we stopped in Jackson Hole at one of our favorite spots, Snakeriver Brewery – now you know why it takes us so long to get to each spot. In addition to driving slow (or at least the speed limit) we do like to stop for lunch and try to get out stretch our legs and have something other than gas station snacks and fast food. When we got to Henry’s Lake it was super windy and cold. Which we were very sad about, it was a beautiful campground and an awesome lake, but way too chilly to paddle board. Instead of spending the day on the lake we decided to explore Yellowstone, which was great. We had camped there a few years ago but really didn’t see all the park. This trip we saw geysers, boiling mud pots, tons of bison, elk and the girls finished their third Jr. Ranger program of the trip (they also got Jr. Ranger badges in Grand Canyon & Dinosaur). At a few points we got a little too close to the wildlife. A giant bison ended up galloping in front of us while we were exploring the mud pots.This was a bit frightening as it is a

Bison ready to charge across the boardwalk we were on!

Bison ready to charge across the boardwalk we were on!

huge animal and it was moving very fast. Andrew was not pleased that our family was not all together when the bison was moving, but in my defense, I did not want to get in front of it, so I stayed put (but I may have been taking a few too many photos prior to the running of the bison). Another learning moment. From the bison experience we knew it is safest to stay together, so when we were crowded by tons of elk in Mammoth Hot Springs, we stayed together as a family and let the Park Rangers tell us where to go and how to stay out of their way. And we still got some great photos!

Elk wondering in Mammoth Hot Springs

Elk wondering in Mammoth Hot Springs

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

We left Yellowstone late in the day and headed out for a short drive to Bozeman, MT, where we planned to stay a couple nights with my brother Dan. Since he was working that night we planned on eating at Dave’s Sushi, where he is one the sushi chefs. We sat at the bar and had Dan whip up whatever he felt like for us, with a few requests from the girls. The mango cucumber roll was a favorite! The next day we headed out to the Hyalite Reservoir. This little gem is only a few miles outside of Bozeman and college kids and families come to picnic, hike and play on the water. We had super fun day paddling with Uncle Dan and hanging out on the water. We really wish we had more time to hang out in Montana, but our trip was coming to an end and we had a few more stops on the way home. After a home cooked dinner with Dan and his friends, we hit the road again the next morning.

Girls paddling with Uncle Dan.

Girls paddling with Uncle Dan.

The last leg of our road trip ended in our home state of Washington. We drove most the day and ended up at Alta Lake State Park. This one of the many areas that was devastated by the wild fires at the beginning of the summer and had been closed down for awhile. As a result, a lot of the area was burnt down, houses, camp grounds and tons of trees were all gone. It was very sad to see all the devastation that the fire caused, and also amazing to see how much in such close proximity survived. Luckily the fires have been over for awhile and the park was reopened, and we were able to enjoy it with a few less crowds.The weather was the

Fun playing at Alta Lake

Fun playing at Alta Lake

hottest at Alta Lake than it was anywhere else on our trip, the day we spent on the lake it was almost 90 degrees! Which made it great to sit on the beach, paddle, play in the water and slowly prepare for re-entry. Our last stop on the trip was Lake Chelan. We took a family vote and decided that we wanted to see another new town and park, so we took a gamble and checked to see if anyone may have checked out early at the Lake Chelan’s Lakeshore RV Park – we got lucky!

Signs of the fire in Alta Lake State Park

Signs of the fire in Alta Lake State Park

Although you generally need to book it 9 months in advance, when people go home early, we got a spot! We spent our day in Chelan biking to lunch at Campbell’s Resort and then on to Slide Waters water park – this was the girls choice and we figured they had been such super campers over the whole trip, they got to have their choice of activities that day.

The next day we got up and had to head home, we decided to make one more fun stop in the town of Leavenworth. We had a yummy lunch at Icicle Brewing Company, bought fudge, nuts and fancy olive oil to take home and then we made the super short drive (just 2.5 hours) home. Coming home was bittersweet, we had tons of laundry and gear to put away, but it was great to get back to familiar faces, sleeping in our own rooms and falling back into a normal routine.

The girls are back at school now, which is the only way I would be able to get all these thoughts down in one day. And now its on to thinking about the next big trip. I just bought my wall map of the US & Canada so we can plot out where we will go next!

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed our adventures. We certainly have!

Until Next Time!

kg

Injuries Suck.

As I do with most the issues I struggle with, I write. Today, I am writing about my Facebook-20140605-112522recent injury. I have been dealing with a running injury for over a month now, and I just posted an article about it on BlogHer, you can find it here. I also want to say Thank You, to my husband, my friends and all the specialists that I have been working with for your help getting me through this, I will run again, and I will not beat myself up in the process.

 

Spring Breakers in New York City

central parkThis year for Spring Break, Andrew and I took separate vacations. He has been dying to do an alpine touring trip through France and Switzerland with his brother for years, so I got over my fear of him going to Europe without me and gave him the go ahead. But with one caveat, I was not going to stay at home alone with my girls during spring break. We decided that we would take our airline miles and see the Big Apple. Nadia has been enamored by the city because all the shows she watches on Disney are set in NYC, so why not. My sister, who lives in Virginia was able to take time off from work and take the train up with her daughter. We also got to hang out with other friends visiting the city too. It was great seeing familiar faces in the big city, it could have been a long, tiring trip without some other adult support.

We got in to town on a Sunday evening, instead of a hotel room, my sister and I decided we would be more comfortable with our daughters in an apartment (not to mention the prices of hotels are ridiculous and they would not take more than 4 people). We rented an adorable apartment on the Upper West Side through AirBnB. It was perfect, plenty of space for all of us to spread out, bathroom and laundry and a kitchen so we could have tea and breakfast in the morning before heading out. Most mornings our first stop was the Juice Press across the street, where we filled up on smoothies to get us started on our day.

cake boss

Cake Boss Cafe

fire station

Fire Station at Ground Zero

On our first full day we did an awesome Hop On/Hop off Bus tour through the city. Our first stop we got off at was the 9/11 memorial. We did not go into the Memorial because it was packed and we didn’t have passes. Also, the large sign before heading in reminds visitors to be quiet and respectful. This seemed like it would be challenging for our group of 8 (3 adults, 5 kids). It was still a very surreal experience. Seeing how many people were down there, and going by the fire stations that were most likely the first responders was very intense. I was not ready to go in with my kids and try and process everything that happen, while also trying to tell a 7 year old why a plane would fly into a building. From here we toured around Battery Park and got our tickets to see Lady Liberty for the next day. After Battery Park we got back on the bus and headed uptown, we went by the United Nations, and saw were tons of celebrities lived and where tons of movies and TV shows were filmed. It was fun seeing all these cool places in real life! We finally got off the bus at Rockefeller Center and spent some time in the amazing Lego Store. After our shopping, we decided to have an early dinner so we could make our Night Time Tour of the City and Brooklyn. We ate a quiet little restaurant called Nino’s 46. I imagine it was quiet because most New Yorkers don’t eat dinner at 5:30, but it worked perfect for our crew. We were even able to stop by the Cake Boss Café after dinner for some cupcakes to bring on our tour.

night

NYC Skyline from Brooklyn

ESB

Empire State Building at night

library

NYC Library

The night tour was awesome despite the wind and my amateur photography skills, it is pretty hard taking photos at night on a moving bus, but I tried and got a couple good ones.

SL_2

Lady Liberty

The next day we took our bus tour back downtown and visited the Statue of Liberty. The boat trip and touring the grounds were beautiful. There is so much history here it is truly amazing. I was sad we didn’t make reservations to get into the pedestal or to do Ellis Island, we will have to do that on our next trip. But just seeing the outside of the statue and taking the audio tour, you learn a lot about what went in to erecting the statue and how powerful of a symbol it is and was to people coming to the United States for the first time. We heard this poem on the audio tour, it’s called “The New Colossus” and was written in 1883 by poet Emma Lazarus, who was born in New York City. The poem lines appear on a bronze plaque in the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty.

eiffle

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel – second designer of the internal structural elements of the Statue of Liberty

After our visit to the Statue of Liberty we had to get back quickly to our apartment so that we could change and get ready for our night on Broadway. Before the show we had dinner at Sardi’s, which has been the toast of Broadway for 90 years. The dinner was excellent and the service was great, we were in and out with plenty of time to get to our show (without feeling rushed). We ended up seeing Aladdin at the New Amsterdam Theater. The show was awesome, we had great seats so it was perfect for the girls. Plus it was funny and the music was great. Side note: the guy that played Jafar also did the voice for Jafar in the Disney animated movie, so that was exciting! That night it also snowed! Lots of crazy weather for our week. Sun, rain and snow – all in the first 3 days. The next day the girls, my sister and I, had an impromptu “spa treatment”. This was not our favorite part of the trip, but we are dealing with it. This might be a topic of an upcoming blog, once we are completely over it. I won’t go into the details. After we were done at the spa, the girls got rewarded for being such troopers, so by their request, our next stops were M&M World and American Girl Doll.

horse

Horse Drawn Carriage in the park

friends

Friends Fountain

CP

Promenade in the park

After this crazy day we headed back to our apartment and chilled out for a bit and ended up eating at little place that was around the corner called Pomodoro Rosso and were in bed early. For our last day in the city we decided we were done shopping and fighting the crowds so we spent the day in Central Park. We took a horse drawn carriage tour around the park and saw more sights of movies and shows like, Sex in the City, Elf, Home Alone, Enchanted and Ghost Busters. This was a fun way to see the park and it was a beautiful day too. After lunch, we had to say goodbye to my sister and niece since they had to get to Penn Station to catch their train to DC. We thought we might check out the Museum of Natural History since it was just around the corner from our apartment, great idea – except, everyone else on spring break had that idea and once we walked in apparently all the ticket terminals went down. There was a huge line of people waiting and we were not 100% certain we would get in if we waited in the line. Instead of waiting in line we decided to make our way to the other side of the park to check out the Central Park Zoo. Although it wasn’t exactly like the zoo in Madagascar (high expectations) we did have fun checking out the cool birds, snow leopards and seals. After the zoo we made our way back to our apartment, by way of a super cool playground (one of the 21 playgrounds in Central Park) and Strawberry Fields, where we visited the John Lennon Memorial. We had our last meal in the city at little sushi place called Raku – It’s Japanese 2! (that really is the actual name) and went to bed early to get ready for our 6am car that would take us to the airport.

Strawberry Fields - John Lennon Memorial

Strawberry Fields – John Lennon Memorial

Overall it was great trip! We had a lot of fun seeing the sites, shopping and fighting the crowds. We ate some great food and the girls loved eating giant pretzels and hot dogs from the street vendors (one of Daddy’s favorites from the city too!). It really was comical how many people were packed into the city. But on the flip side, when we hung out in Central Park or in our neighborhood on the Upper West Side, it didn’t feel too crowded. I think it will be a few more years before we go back, maybe when the girls are a little older and can appreciate the museums a bit more and their taste in shopping becomes a little more in line with mine.

Until Next Time, thank for reading.

What A Week – Dealing with Tragedy & Loss

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Mission Ridge Ski Area

I wrote an article for BlogHer today as a way to release some of the stress I have been feeling about the recent tragic events happening in our area. Starting last week with the KOMO 4 helicopter, then the tragic death of a local man at Mission Ridge and the ongoing tragedy of the landslide in Oso. Here is a link to the full article and how I remind myself that I need to be forever grateful for what I have and not live in the What If’s.

Cannon Beach Yoga Festival: My Take Away

cannon beachThis past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Cannon Beach Yoga Festival. The festival was an intimate festival/retreat with amazing yoga teachers from all over. I practiced yoga and meditation with Annie Carpenter, Sarahjoy Marsh, Cyndi Lee and Kelly Ponzi. All amazing teachers who I learned so very much from. My main take away from this weekend was really about connecting with myself and what is around me. What I learned in each class, in different ways, was that our breath is really the most important tool we have. By focusing on our breath in any situation, whether its a difficult yoga position, a conflict with someone, driving in traffic, before you eat, any new situation, positive or negative, when you focus on your breath you are able to be mindful and intentional in what you are doing. And then, after you have taken your breath, the goal is to Be With What Is. No matter what comes up, the good, the bad or the ugly, we need to just accept where we are, because for whatever reason, that is what the universe has brought for you.