Camp Dick adventure

Some pix from our backpacking adventure this weekend in Roosevelt National Forest. It was a beautiful one-hour drive away. We parked at Camp Dick and hiked up Buchanan Pass about two miles. The trail was cool as we were at a pretty high altitude, in the forest, under gathering storm clouds, walking beside a rushing river the whole way.

We pitched our tent at the edge of a grass-filled clearing, not far from a carpenter ant mound as it turned out. Luckily we’re not made of wood, so they gave us no real trouble! The boy showed off his scout skills by putting all our food and anything that could attract bears in a waterproof bag that he hung from a tree about 60 feet away when not in use.

1. Pouting because the boy was being a punk (which is not rare), but he soon apologized and made it up to me

2. Attacked by wild dogs: Duffy the scottie and Baxter the wirehaired pointing griffon

3. Getting snuggly with Baxter in the tent during a very light and soothing afternoon rain shower

4. The boy decided to photograph me in this not-so-flattering position, crouching to fill a water bladder in the stream (we used purification tablets to make it safe)

5. In the morning making breakfast. You can’t see them in this photo, but a swarm of mosquitoes are swirling around the boy’s head (we forgot the little can of Deet!)

6. Goofy self-portrait

7. The clearing we camped in, with mountain covered in pine trees as the backdrop

8. Enjoying some surprisingly good Starbucks instant coffee

9. At a bridge just before returning to our car in the Camp Dick parking lot

10. Snapped this on the way home. Our one-hour drive took us along a two-mile dirt road with jaw-dropping views, including this picturesque clearing, complete with farmhouse and craggy rock outcropping.



I’ve once again fallen down on the job keeping up these blog posts. I had promised to post twice a week, and then life (or, more honestly, distracted self-pitying laziness) struck and I failed. What can I do other than admit my failing and dive back in? Well, one thing I can do is make no more silly promises. Instead I will do my best to post often, and try to be inspired every time I write. Today I am inspired.

Back story

The boy and I have been in a collective funk the last few weeks. It’s been a gorgeous summer. We’re both healthy, in love, have three awesome pets, great supportive families and friends, and, most unusually in these tough times, we are both gainfully employed. But still… we’ve been terribly mopey. The general state of funk in the country is not helping, that’s for sure. We are both dismayed at the widespread hopelessness and uncertainty, and disappointed, perplexed, and, yes, even enraged at the callous and weak response from our leaders. (Okay, that’s my feeling, but when the boy is willing to talk politics with me, which is rare, he seems to agree with all of the above sentiments.) We’re also feeling totally overwhelmed by the work to be done on our fixer-upper house, and yet tired of living in a half-assembled mess. Sigh. Welcome to the pity party.


In fact, less than an hour ago, shortly after the boy left for work, and while I was procrastinating starting my day, I was gurgling in a puddle of self pity. Feeling distracted, bored, and cranky, I wasn’t even looking forward to a little escape we have planned for the weekend — a one-night backpacking adventure with the dogs in the Colorado mountains.

But then, something pulled me out, shook me off, and slapped me in the face with a wonderful saltwater rush of gratitude.

I followed a link to this blog by a woman, Jennie. On the surface, it’s a deliciously engaging food blog, which as an okay cook and avid eater I’m always drawn to. But her recent posts have little to do with food. Jennie very suddenly lost her dear husband, Mikey, just three weeks ago. In a few brief posts, it’s clear that Mikey was the love of Jennie’s life, and while I don’t know her, I can glimpse the depth of her loss. It made me cry. And it made me so terribly grateful.

Not the grateful of the mind — when you tell yourself in that judgmental inner monologue holier-than-thou tone, “You have so much, why are you feeling sorry for yourself?” No, the kind of grateful that fills your heart with bittersweet joy. That’s the kind of grateful I’m feeling right now. I wanted to share that with you.

Of course, it’s very possible that my words aren’t giving you a taste of that feeling, but perhaps this clip from my favorite movie will. Enjoy it. Then breathe. Look out the window. And show someone just how much you love them today. Or just do a little purging in the comments below and tell me what’s been on the menu at your pity party lately? Or, even better, what’s getting you hopeful again?

NPR, Shawshank, and movies that move you


Shawshank Redemption posterI’m a big NPR listener, especially since moving to Colorado. A combination of not wanting to pay for cable, not having a TV antenna, and working from home most days means the voices of Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and a new favorite, Colorado Matters, have become my regular companions.

Sometimes I tune the radio out, and let the voices waft over me like soft breezes. I take that tack most when writing. Other times, typically en route to our temporary sink in the basement, a fragrant word or phrase piques my appetite, and I find myself paralyzed on the stair, a greasy pot or sticky knife perched in my clumsy hands.

This past week, it was a piece about Mansfield, Ohio, that grabbed me — the town with a very impressive state reformatory where Shawshank Redemption was filmed. You see, while it wasn’t a huge box-office success, Shawshank has developed a well-deserved cult following, and pilgrimages to Mansfield have been steady since the late-90s.

I’m captivated by human-interest stories, the hokey ones with characters that Norman Rockwell would paint and Frank Capra would make a movie about, and the characters in Mansfield do not disappoint. There’s café-owner Ed Pickens, who created a Shawshankwich, and LaDonna Secrist, proprietress of the Squirrels Den sweetshop, where you can purchase a candy Prison Bar. However, it was the theme of this story that grabbed me more than anything.

It’s part of a series called “On Location.” As the editors describe it, while exploring “the places where iconic American movies were filmed” they “discovered that often, long after the cameras are packed up and the crew goes home, a film can leave an imprint on a town.”

But to me, the story of Mansfield much more about the imprint a film left on its viewers:

Mansfield has become a mecca… They, of course, want to see Shawshank Prison. But the biggest draw for many of them sits about 15 miles south, in an old farm field. It’s a giant oak tree. As Morgan Freeman’s character struggles to make sense of his life once he’s been paroled, it’s that tree — and a promise he made to visit it — that gives him hope. The tree is at least 100 feet tall and 175 years old. And, for many Shawshank pilgrims, seeing it is a spiritual experience.

Shawshank TreeI’d love to theorize that we all have movies that move us this deeply, but experience tells me that’s not the case. I’ve encountered many people for whom movies are just entertainment, a single option among an ever-expanding library of ways to pass the time. But for some of us, movies (or, at least, the right movie) can be profound and transformational — so deeply touching that you would travel thousands of miles to experience a piece of that movie’s magic in person.

I have always loved movies, and so can name a handful that have spoken to my soul. As a child it was the Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea miniseries, which I watched reverently every time they were shown (usually whenever PBS trotted them out for a pledge drive). They inspired me to read all six “Anne” novels till the bindings were worn, and to dream of one day making a pilgrimage to the picturesque shores and farmlands of Prince Edward Island, Canada.

But perhaps no piece of fiction, written or filmed, has moved me as much as a quirky little movie about an average Joe who agrees to jump into a very big volcano. That movie impacted me so profoundly that it became my unofficial litmus test for finding kindred spirits, and even, arguably, helped me recognize my true love.

Can you think of a movie that has spoken to your soul, or made you feel more connected to the universe, love, or the meaning of life?

An apology

In the days since I did my first post, I’ve been researching the usual best practices for the blogosphere (and coming up with a short list of my own based on the blogs I enjoy most). As you might imagine, one of the top recommendations is to post often and regularly.

I have already missed the dinghy on that one! But from this point forward, my goal is to do two posts per week. And if I fail? Well, I give you full permission do this to me:

Blogosphere, ho!

This blog is likely to be a hodge-podge to start. I’m hoping someday it will be about my love of sailing (hence the title), but as that love is nascent and perhaps a little dormant as I figure out some big life puzzles in land-locked Colorado, it’s gonna be about… well… life. In all it’s clumsy, stop-start, disappointing, joy-inducing glory.

Please forgive me in advance if my posts tend toward the starry-eyed. You see, I moved to Colorado about five months ago from a much more sailing-friendly clime known as the San Francisco Bay Area… for (let the eye rolls and feminist cry-fouls commence) a boy. Even worse, I think he was worth it. But more on that later.

For now, let me just encourage you to read this wonderful blog (actually, a sailing log of her latest round-the-world adventure), by one of my life- and sailing-heroes, Tania Aebi. It was Aebi’s memoir Maiden Voyage that inspired me to learn to sail (or begin to learn), and in an odd foggy way that retreats from me like the proverbial pot of gold, was among a handful of memoirs to inspire me to follow my passions, come to Colorado, and without warning, meet the love of my life.

But again, more on that later…