Perish the thought

kiddosleep

Way too early this morning, my kiddo half woke me to crawl back into bed with me after a nightmare. Trouble with this is that’s my deep, REM sleep time, so today I’m sucking down coffee like there’s no tomorrow because I’ve been stuffing in as much overtime as I can. I eventually drifted into that state of “I know I’m dreaming but it feels so real this sucks” mode, & from my subconscious rose panic. I woke up to my car, my Emerald Queen just gone. Oh, not Tom’s little Scion, but my big green horse hauling badass? Gone, & found by the local cops stripped down for parts near a local park. Not a restful image, so thanks brain for that.

kidsleep

If this had actually happened to any other vehicle I’d owned, I’d pretty much shrug & move on, being not overly attached to any particular one. Also,, when I lived in the city close to work with a bike & solid public transport wouldn’t have affected us too badly. But now I live in car dependent suburbs 20 miles from work, which is perfectly doable…with a car.

But I panicked far beyond that to find the Queen not just gone but totaled, as the insurance would say, destroyed both in utility & as an idea.

queencampbeach

I’ve only had her a few months, but I’ve put on a couple thousand miles, obsessed about keeping her clean (a losing battle with a growing boy), hauled horses several times, filled her to the brim with friends, Ikea, & Costco, helped random strangers in the backwoods, sought & found numerous road trips, camping trips, & assorted other adventures, not to mention making it to work every day without a hitch.

More than any other vehicle, the Queen is freedom for me, freedom to commute comfortably, to seize the weekend & camp anywhere, to tow a horse to seek beautiful places to ride, to bring friends along for the haul.

queenhelp

This weekend I’ll vacuum & clean her out once again, get her a (shudderingly expensive) oil change, & load up to seek a quiet spot in the woods. This time we’ll be grinding low gears to climb Mt. Hood, travel the back way & gravel Forest Service roads to find a cool creek side campground. I won’t have a second of worry that everything will fit, that I’ll be stuck up there, or not be able to escape the hordes of mosquitos.

queensleep

The Queen & I thankfully have miles yet to go.

queencampview

To climb a mountain

I know there are a ton of things on my mind, what with house hunting (and the first of what my grandmother has informed me will probably be about 10 happy couple fights re said house search), the money pressures, Kade’s time in kindergarten looming, job hunting, the massive project at my current job, losing weight/getting fitter (20 pounds down and oh the awesomeness!) plus all the other assorted life debris, like my complete inability to transfer clean laundry from baskets to closets…(in my defense, the internet was down last night and it’s a proven fact that putting laundry away without a TV show is just unusual punishment).

But all this is happily fading into the background even as I type this, as I keep double checking the Evernote (my newest attempt to be a ‘seize it all mom’ type) note labeled “Mt. Adams Ride 2016.” Originally I was just heading up the mountain this week to volunteer, label a few horse butts with grease paint and follow my friends around and eat their food, like I did at Coyote Ridge. I was also hoping that through sheer dint of his cuteness factor and hanging around such a jaw droopingly beautiful ride camp, that the short blonde one would be one step closer to being comfortable with horse lessons next spring.
So why am I obsessing over my packing list more than usual and dropping the kiddo off at school before heading up alone tomorrow? It’s all Jala’s fault, really. She dared me to see if I could find a horse to actually ride on LD. She twisted my arm and just to placate the short, scary woman I posted on the PNER Facebook page…and about 20 minutes later I was offered Andrea’s second horse Shadow to buddy with her on the LD. It will be my first endurance ride since I RO pulled two years ago at Grizzly due to my inability to make peace with such a pesky thing as heat exhaustion (which according to the forecast won’t be a problem at this ride, instead staying dry will be!)

Even though I still have to slog through another 5 hours of work, putting laundry away (I promised!) & packing the Emerald Queen, my mind is already up at 8000 feet with Darlene, settling into yet another unfamiliar saddle to put miles under hooves.
I also feel like I should take a bit to thank everyone like one of those award shows, Adrienne for letting me ride her amazing horses, Jala & Nicole for being awesome friends even though we only see each other a few times a year, & my boss for letting me wiggle out of a whole Friday of work, Andrea for simply offering a horse to lug me around 30 miles of beautiful Washington wilderness…& of course the men of our lives, Tom & Tom, for watching the kids so we could ride!

Time to enjoy

  
While I was standing at my desk this morning, back within the blue fabric walls of my home sweet cube, I was trying to decide what the best part of my weekend was, & mostly failing to choose between two awesome things. 

To describe it shortly isn’t easy for me but I can try: 

On Friday I lit out from work early, scooping up my child & hot footing it east wards again, like any good Portlander desperate for an uncomplicated dose of sun & clear skies. After a short stop at Fred Meyer’s to load up on s’more ingredients & an excellent burger at Big Jim’s in The Dalles, less than three hours later found us (read: Mom) setting up camp on the shores of the Deschutes River. The park there is a green, shady oasis in the scrub hills of the Eastern Columbia River Gorge, & it was perfect despite being packed to the gills.

I’d nabbed a primitive site farthest from the highway & only feet from the river, & Kade was off like a shot & barely seen until past dark, waving his light stick around & playing with all the other kids he could find. This left me to set up the air mattress in the back of the Queen & make a fire with the help of the friendly fishermen from Bend next door, as I’d neglected to find kindling. But I quickly had a roaring fire going to ward off the night’s chill, so I was able to settle down to the serious task of stuffing myself & my randomly appearing child with that gooey campfire staple, read a magazine & let every bit of stress leak out with the blood the few mosquitos managed to score. 
  
I kept adding logs & poking coals to keep the fire bright & toasty, glancing up every so often to assure myself that somewhere I still had a happy, safe, utterly free child, finding myself utterly unable to keep a stupid grin off my face. Even with all the stress of our lives & decisions to be made this year regarding relationships, money, jobs & housing (it’s never just one thing!) for this golden night full of fire & nature & wild child, it was all good. I can handle myself so much better with these regular doses of natured filled routine breaking. 

It only got better after we managed to drag ourselves out of the warm car & into rapidly warming daylight, cozying up to heaping bowls of oatmeal. Camp packed up quickly & we headed down the trail along the river, spying lizards, deer beds, & a hungry hawk swooping in for her morning fish. The views you have to see for yourself, & Kade commandeered the perfect lunch spot on a bluff above the river, the only man made thing in sight the railroad tracks on the other side. We devoured Goldfish & sandwiches while watching seagulls fight over a girl, only three miles from camp but just us beneath that huge blue sky, the likes of which you just can’t get in the forest. 

  
That was the start of the weekend. To finish it I headed north across the Columbia, alone as both boys were huddled in the dark at home with various ailments (Kade too much sun, Tom too many blooming trees). Courtesy of a new friend in the making, I was able to ride two amazing horses, & to break The Emerald Queen’s hauling cherry by hooking up a nice (tiny) two horse trailer & moseying our way over to Whipple Creek with a beautiful Palomino named Jake munching in the back. I managed to piss off countless drivers by maintaining at least 5mph under the speed limit the entire way, but I didn’t clip a single corner so it’s all good. 

  

The first part I was able to ride King, wherein we got lost & talked a teenager off the ledge of whatever cliff she stared down. He’s an angel of a big sorrel gelding, with a “let me eat the world” attitude & the best gaits west of the Mississippi. The trails at Whipple are perhaps Endurance-lite, but they are full of loops with good footing & if you go around & around enough you’ll make yourself dizzy & put a nice wet saddle blanket on your mount.

For the second half of the ride I (mostly gracefully) hopped on the other blondie, Flash, & we became reacquainted to the idea of transitions & doing whatever the silly human asks. It was fun (his slow trot is show level smooth & easy to ride), which was fortunate as I was squeezed into the teenager’s saddle, which felt like being shoved in a jousting saddle for the amount of movement I had (sorry Flash, you are a wonderful & patient golden boy!)

  
So today I’m that lovely kind of sore that reminds me how excellent it feels to move out beneath the sun with friends, put on some road music & let the Emerald Queen take us away for awhile. I got home Sunday night in time to kiss my sweetly sleeping child, hear Tom’s tale of dealing with kid squabbles, enjoy a blissful shower & drop like a stone into sleep!

 

Up and away!

Spring has arrived & with it my driving need to do all the things, every day, all at once.
The longer days also bring with the increased energy to get more done-not all the things, but more than Winter Jamé feels like bothering with.
Riding, hiking, DMV, house cleaning & writing all in the same weekend? Bring it on!

  
However, with springs comes blooming things, & the boyfriend is miserable outside the clean room he works in all day. Which is, really, everywhere for the next few months.

  
I’m also trying to get everything done because ride season has begun, & we set it off with a bang with what will probably be one of our longest road trips this summer. We headed off through the Gorge & up…& down, up, down, & finally up again, for six gorgeous, cloudless hours into Eastern Washington, just south of the Grand Coulee dam. 

  
Despite the fact-or perhaps because of the lack of trees pretty much everywhere but people’s yards, it was one of the most beautiful ride camps I’ve ever been to.  Maybe with the possible exception of Mt Adams, where we’ll be heading to on Memorial Day. As below, the view outside The Emerald Queen where I’d set up an air mattress that ended up being super warm & comfy for the kiddo & I, was breathtaking-yet also relaxing.

    
But the best thing about ride camp wasn’t the drive, the view, or even the food (although that was most excellent!)…it was friends. More specifically, friends I only ever see either on Facebook or at ride camp. Even though I totally am a camp hanger-on, seeing as I showed up with my gear, kid, & no horse, I was able to pitch right into helping without once feeling nosy or useless. 

  
In fact, my kid was far more useful than I was, keeping the teenagers from mischief, general giggly entertainment, & relating mixing electrolytes to chemistry. He’s multipurpose, this child is, & only once did he give me a heart clutching, oh please dear gods don’t kick him Belle! moment (she’s a good girl, she declined).

  
Kade’s other big benchmark this weekend was we drove for six hours both ways to get out there & back home, but thanks to Mommy throwing everything she had into making this a decent road trip-we made it fine. A year ago we couldn’t have gone on a six hour drive without another adult in the back to distract him. But between the iPad, endless snacks, legos & stickers books, ice cream from Dairy Queen, nap time & being able to control his own window, it went off without a hitch. We upgraded him to a belt positioning booster seat now that he’s big enough, & he loves it! He can reach everything, & it’s so much easier to get in & out of, including the fact he can buckle himself in & out!

 Five is shaping up to be a damn good year, & we’re going to make it to as many ride camps as my wiggle off early on Fridays schedule allows!

  

It’s always something

I wasn’t quite sure where to start this post, or more like journal entry, but stream of consciousness has usually been my go to, so here goes…
  

 
This week I turned 27, which compared to most of my coworkers leaves me the baby of the office. And yet I don’t feel like a kid, or even a young adult really. I don’t concert or bar hop or look for the perfect Instagram shoot; I drag my boyfriend through Ikea & worry about my kid’s insurance so he can be seen at the hospital I grew up at (last year it took four nurses to hold him down & draw blood for a lead screening, hopefully we can trim that down to one for his shots this year!)
   
More & more lately, with that teasing, bright south wind blowing & reaching corners of myself I’ve let lay in the winter dark, I’ve been considering my career. If you had cause to glance at my cubicle, you could surmise I’m here for the long haul, plants lovingly set up, a snazzy standing desk, pictures & cards & receipts from adventures outside these basic blue walls. I’ve been promoted & managed to find a bit of a niche here, trying to get myself comfortable with fully employer covered health insurance & utterly reliable hours. As much as anyone has these days, baring the normal life disrupters, I could stay fairly secure at this company for the 20+ years over half the company has been here for, inching my way up some ladder or other.
   
One of the issues that came up with the recent counseling with my parents (yeah, like just saying that out loud doesn’t totally bite ass) was that I don’t want to make the same choices my mother made. She turned away from horses & into corporate life for all her various reasons, spending her life within four walls & weekends hiking with her fluffy huskies. Such is where I’m at now, & the circumstances & choices that led me here, barring one or two, were pretty solid, & all based on getting myself to a place where I could support Kade without panicking about the rent money every month.

  
 
This weekend I’m heading to my first endurance ride in almost two years, & it’s fairly likely I won’t be riding at this point, seeing as how I haven’t been able to ride for months & I’m bringing the kid along to get out of the city for a while. I’ll be surrounded by one of my favorite groups of people, endurance riders (I will be bringing my helmet along, because it’s nearly impossible to go to a ride & not ride, even if it’s just a quick spin around camp, that’s how awesome these people are!) Most of these people (read: 99%) are a decade or more older than me, & made choices & decisions to fight & sweat for lives that allow them horses & three day weekends to come put miles under hooves in beautiful country.
 

  
So I look at my cubicle, commute filled, fighting to lose weight life & ponder how to get from point a to point b, considering such things as soccer camps, school schedules, always bills, & the ever so patient but far more concerned about security boyfriend. This also speaks to the balance between my wants-horses every day or at least a lot more often, not living in a cubicle, doing good work instead of just work; & the more practical needs, like a roof over our heads & not being driven crazy & snappy by stress.
I’ve toyed for several years with the thought of pursing a farrier business, but such requires me to live without or with a tiny income for years while I train, learn, & build a business, not something we’re set up for currently. A newer idea is vet tech, but I’d like to shadow or at least have coffee with one before making that kind of jump.
But for now its time to put these thoughts on hold again, to load up the Emerald Queen for her first road trip through the Gorge and up on the plateau! 

  

Get it out there

  
The world is bursting into crazy spring, cherry blossoms, tulips, rainbows as far as the eye can see. The south wind is blowing hard & of course I’m full tilt crazy. Each spring comes, & that exuberant south wind fairly shouts at me to set loose, make a change, hit the road. This year is no different; I’ve got a long road trip ahead this weekend, the plans & gear & to do list painstakingly obsessed over, the closets are looking a bit bare, & the patient boyfriend has persuaded me not to tear the apartment apart in my quest to make it different.

  
At the same time I’m a little more settled than usual, my job proceeding apace, Kade’s still in preschool though kindergarten looms at the end of the summer, I’m able to work with horses each week & soon, so soon I hope to add riding every week to the list. Included in all this is the writing group I’ve been able to wiggle my way into, & I love every moment of it.

  
The south wind pushed me to do something crazy last week-volunteer a sample of my last NaNo novel I’ve been working on for public consumption & critique. Gulp. Thanks buddy! So now I have to choose what is hopefully a somewhat coherent, sorta polished 10,000 word section of the story I’ve been penning since November…which no one else has read. Well, I’ve read aloud some of it to the five year old, but he thinks everything I do is awesome (unless it involves some form of the word “No.” Then he’s not so keen on it!)

  
Part of me is quietly freaking out over someone reading my writing-well, at least something I’ve put more effort into than, say, my woeful fourth attempt at blogging. The larger part is happily ticking away, mulling over which section to present & what kinds of critique to ask for. 

Between sharing my work, the world’s best (and most patient) boyfriend, my cutest blondie, a short work week and camping in the Horse Haven hills to look forward to, it’s a good time to turn 27 🙂

  

Switch it up

  
I’ve been running a bit intermittently since Turkey Day, even going so far as to acquire two pairs of shoes just for running, plus a Camelbak waist belt, again, just for running. I tried running in high school & frankly sucked at it, but considering my life now it’s a good way to exercise, fairly cheaply, for the time I have available for exercising. I’m even bandying about the idea of another half marathon, only much better prepared this time around.  
Running for me is mostly a solitary endeavor, considering schedules & where I’m at with my training. I’ve started considering what I would like my summer to look like, & while I will keep running, I’d rather spend my money on something which I already love-camping & hiking with Kade. He’s at that utterly awesome age of “old enough” for certain things-he can hike 5-6 easy miles all by himself now- & “young enough” to still think doing everything with mommy is awesome, & fascinated by everything I point out, like this morning’s uplifting sunrise, he was so excited by this.

  
So instead of trying to psych myself up for a daily run, I’m switching my focus to prepping to carry two people’s worth of gear to a pretty campsite up a fairly easy trail. Kade is made insanely happy by maps, so we’ll spread out a few topo maps of Oregon & Washington & try to find a half dozen under 10 mile loop or our & back hikes. We already know he loves to camp, but our first non-car camp trip will be close to home just in case, so one of our lovely, long suffering family members can rescue us if necessary.  

  
I can tell I’m much more excited by the thought of these trips, & not a marathon, because I’ve already compiled an extensive gear & needed gear list, places I want to go, training tips, & trying to remember what’s in a good hiking first aid kit…and reminding myself that wherever we go, so does Laila & Kade’s green blankie!  

I will also be actively bugging people for trip ideas, light weight gear reviews, tips & tricks for making the hike & camp set up easier & as comfy as possible for a tired mommy & kiddo at the end of the day. Most of my hiking experience is with groups, so I’m used to carrying a lot of gear, but setting up camp basically by myself at the end of a day, plus encouraging/keep Kade from jumping off cliffs, will be more an adventure than any marathon could give me!