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Summer Shenanigans

Holy hell, what a whirlwind this summer was. From traveling, to trying to dodge triple digit heat, to family visits, to attempting to keep up with the homestead, I’m actually a bit relieved to find myself back at work so I can just sit back, soak up someone else’s AC and relax. I mean, if anyone from work ever reads this, I am, of course, always working extremely hard and definitely not writing this from my desk… Lies and disclaimers aside, I am fortunate enough to have two months off in the summer which allowed for some awesomeness. My job’s perks are not lost on me – I am extremely grateful for the leisure time allotted and tried my best to make the most of it.

A Wallowa Lake camping trip with Bryce and the dogs kicked off our summer. I wasn’t technically off work yet, but had arranged to have a couple days off for this trip, which was a gift from Bryce as a “congrats, you finally fuckin’ graduated college” sort of thing. I love this place. My dad would take me hiking in the Eagle Caps growing up, so this area, the mountain ranges,  and the lake feel like home, even after all this time. The Wallowa Lake area, for those who’ve never been, is a real gem not just with amazing views of the Wallowa-Whitman forest, Eagle Cap wilderness areas, and the bitchin’ lake, but has some really interesting Nez Perce legends, lore, and history associated with the location.  For those interested in such information, one story about the Wallowa Lake Monster is particularly interesting to read about. The legend was said to involve the Nez Perce and Blackfeet tribes, particularly Wahluna and Tlesca, two young lovers from the opposing tribes who were, despite all odds, allowed to marry after falling for each other, bringing peace between the two tribes. However, their story was marred and short-lived. They took a canoe out onto the lake during the wedding celebration, where a serpent, the Wallowa Lake Monster, rose from the lake, killing them both; their bodies never found again. Legend has it that the Nez Perce, fearing additional punishment, vowed to never go out on Wallowa Lake again. If Native American lore and history interest you, the Wallowa Lake area is an amazing place to research and visit. Nearly every time we visit, we will hike the Iwetemlaykin State Heritage Site area, which is a stone’s throw from Old Chief Joseph’s gravesite. Snow or sun, this area is gorgeous, rich with geological marvels and interesting historical links.

Nerd rambling aside, the Wallowa trip was wonderful. To shamelessly plug my favorite restaurant in the area, grab a table on the dog friendly patio of Embers Brew Pub and order a delicious local beer (or blackberry cider) and the Mountain Climber calzone. It is amazing. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Not long after that Wallowa trip, we went camping with my dad in the Eagle Caps for Father’s Day and hiked up the Tenderfoot Trail to some awesome alpine lakes. Upper and Lower Bonny Lakes are about 4 miles in and gorgeous. We went a bit early in the year so there was some snow pack which led to a bit of trail-finding and scrambling over logs to avoid getting in the freezing water on multiple creek crossings, but it was fun for everyone, especially considering we decided we’d freeze our asses off staying over night up there by the lakes, so the daypacks were lightweight and the comfort of a warmer basecamp at the trailhead was much appreciated after what turned out to be nearly 12 miles of hiking.

After this trip we had some downtime back in Clarkston. For an introverted homebody like myself, coming home is always fun and a much anticipated, completely necessary way of recharging my batteries. We have an old house, built in 1912, so project lists tend to be never-ending, but I wouldn’t trade our place for anything. As always, I planted way too many things in the garden, including a big squash patch by the driveway, so weeding ends up on my to-do list all the freakin’ time…Not that I’m very good at crossing that task off the list, but hey – I’ll get it right one of these years! We tried a couple new methods for gardening this year, one being a straw bale garden for tomatoes and peppers, which has worked out really well and I plan on repeating it again next spring. We also built some planters out of pallets but didn’t have a lot of success there. First and foremost, the design didn’t quite work, so they sagged, looked pretty shabby, and dried out pretty quickly. While I do plan on doing the straw bale thing again, we have totally demolished the failed pallet project at the end of the growing season and plan on coming up with something different next year. We saved mostly all of the old materials, so it was not a total loss. I’m going to try to remember to take pictures next year for this blog (and posterity) to show what worked, what didn’t, and how we adapted to make the process more functional. In addition to keeping busy with the garden and things around the house, we walked the bridges (which is around 4.5 miles all told), took the kayaks out to Chief Timothy, visited family, camped at the land near Dworshak, drank a lot of beer, and made a lot of pizzas. Time well spent overall, although I did get stupidly, shamelessly addicted to a game called Bingo Pop on my phone, so, you know, I wasn’t always a productive human.

The tail end of summer vacation was really were things seemed to get insanely busy, at least in terms of non-stop recreating. It’s a rough life, you know, but someone has to do it. We spent a week at Priest Lake State Park with, oh, 15 or so of Bryce’s family. Luckily for me, they’re amazingly fun people whom I love dearly, so the “in-law” camping extravaganza was relaxing and you really can’t beat a week of glamping at one of the prettiest lakes ever. Swimming, kayaking, goofing around with Bryce’s nieces, and trying to get our dogs to enjoy water were the highlights of that trip for me. The simple things end up sticking with me just as much as the adventures though. Just being able to find a spot in the shade where I can slow down and enjoy things is my happy place. Be it at Priest Lake or home in the hammock, paradise is where you make it. I often have to remind myself of this and take stock. The trip to Priest was an excellent one. 10/10 would go again. 🙂 We had a solid week there and headed home to recover for a few days before we packed up again to go to Montana.

The last leg of the summer vacation was spent in big sky country. We tent camped at Emery Bay campground a few miles away from Glacier National Park and would head out early in the morning (except for when I got drunk one night and forgot I was charging a device in the car and had left the overhead light on, which was *ahem* not my best moment nor was it for the car battery) but all low points aside, Glacier was pretty cool. There were a TON of people visiting the park, which we had anticipated having gone to Yosemite a couple years prior, but not much in terms of parking, fast shuttle service, or personal space. Through sheer force of will, patience, and positive attitudes, we were able to hitch a ride on the shuttle to see some glaciers, epic waterfalls, tucked away lakes, ancient trees, and all together expansive, bitchin’ views. So, all in all, it was worth it, but plan ahead, catch the express shuttle super early in the morning, and don’t kill your car battery because you want to watch Kung Fu Panda on your tablet in the tent. Consider those free words of wisdom from a complete dumbass.

To be honest, one of my favorite things about that trip was when Bryce and I would get off at a random stop, grab some wine, and find a place to have lunch and relax by a creek. That, to me, is 100% better than trying to keep up with people, or just legitimately feeling like I’m in their way on a super busy trail somewhere. I do appreciate those trails and I absolutely know why they are so popular, it can just be a bit much for my anxiety-ridden self. I prefer a little slower pace and time to soak it all in.

All in all, I’d say that the summer of 2018 was a success in so many ways. Being able to visit family, experience incredible areas in nature, try new homesteading projects, and just getting to be with my fella and the dogs; it was one for the books.  Can’t wait for what the fall brings. Spoiler alert, a Washington coast trip to Cape Disappointment is in three days (woah!) as well as a new project of converting a van into a camper. With any luck, I’ll be posting regularly about the Jean-Claude Damn Van project. Forgive us in advance for the name. We’re dumb and can’t help it.

Happy Trails,

Julie

*Please forgive this late posting. It helps to publish a post when you’re done writing it, instead of waiting until mid-November. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

 

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Graduation

At long last, I’m done with my degrees. Today I can finally click the ‘bachelor’s degree’ box on online forms and soon will have two pretty expensive pieces of paper to put in my “office” at home where I mostly play video games and hang out with my dogs.

After years and years of screwing up, dropping out, crawling back, and fighting my way back to the top (okay, maybe the middle), goddamn it, I’m done! I may not do much with my two English degrees in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts, but I finished the damn things and can not only move on academically if I want to, but I can finally pat myself on the back for giving a damn, finishing something I started, and overall just proving to myself that I’m capable of getting shit done.

I started college in 2005 as a completely different person. Hell, to be honest, I didn’t know who I was, what I was doing, or what I wanted for the first, oh, 10 years of my adult life. Especially those lost years where I discovered alcohol, stupid dudes, and didn’t realize extreme anxiety and mild to moderate depression were ruling my life with an unforgiving iron fist. It took time to figure myself out. I guess I’m a late bloomer, but I finally feel, at 30 years old, like I’m myself. For better or worse, but then again, there are worse things. And although I’ve gotten in my own way so many goddamn times, I’ve also done myself a great service by getting the hell out of my own way from time to time too. It feels so much better to move on and look forward rather than hovering over the past where I’ve raked myself over the same dumb old coals. Going back to school really helped me figure myself out. I had a goal, I kept my head down, and I worked hard to make it happen.

Crossing the finish line today feels pretty good. Even if I’m not participating in the actual graduation ceremony and just sitting here at work writing a silly blog post, it feels awesome. Friends and family are coming to my little corner of Washington to celebrate tomorrow with good food, drinks, games, and company. [Side note: I hope I can get my grandma to play beer pong.]

I can finally say, without too much hesitation or saltiness, that I’m proud of myself for doing the damn thing, and am incredibly thankful for everyone who helped me achieve this goal. My dude, his family, my family, friends, myself, and even those damn dogs…Life is good and I’m finally a college graduate.

Bring on the tacos, cervezas, and celebratory high fives.

 

The Great Outdoors!

Nisqually John Canyon

Last weekend we went from trying to camp in this: IMG_20180217_123853469_HDR

To turning around, stopping in Juliaetta, ID for beer and food, and hiking here:

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If you ask me, calling it quits on that hellish snowscape was well worth it, not just because of the aforementioned beer, but because it opened up the weekend for some much needed hiking on the Nisqually John Canyon trail. This trail is a habitat management unit where hunting is allowed, but it benefits from being tucked away along Idaho 128 just past the Nisqually John boat launch. The day we went hiking it was cold but clear, bright, and totally necessary. Both dogs and humans needed to get the lead out and this trail did just that. I’ve only been on this trail one other time and it can be kind of treacherous with mud or ice in steep, shady spots, but on the whole, it’s a damn good hike with an incline going in that gets the blood pumping, and a nice downhill coast back to the car. I’ve only gone a mile or so up, but I’ve read that the trail peters out at about 2.5 miles.

Here are a few more pictures of an hour well spent on the Nisqually John Canyon trail.

Happy trails!

-Julie

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I think I’m too old for Tumblr…

Clocking in at what feels like a real rusty 30 years old, I logged in to Tumblr today and thought, “Wow, what the hell am I doing here? I’m way too old for this noise,” and quickly retreated from the scrolling abyss I once found comforting.

While I suppose I’ll still partake in it from time to time, it’s not really a place I feel comfortable writing. But, to be fair, I haven’t written a damn thing in quite a while. This blog is my attempt to revive something in myself, that old itch to write something just because it’s fun. Not because I have to, like the ten billion emails I send every day at work, or the crappy, ill-crafted Spanish assignments for the last lingering class to finish my degrees. Just something fun that is centered around what I consider paradise: A simple life with dogs, a loving dude, and how we get to spend our free time together, wherever that may be.

So, for now, that is what I’m rolling with. There are a lot of fun trips coming down the pike, an ever-growing list of house, cooking, garden, landscaping, and yard projects in the mix, and my two dogs (Zeek and Diego) who help find paradise where we make it, every damn day.

Cheers,

Julie

Dogs, Uncategorized

Zeek and Diego

This dingus is Zeek. He’s a 10-11ish year old shepherd/chow chow mix who originally hailed from Kennewick, Washington. He’s a proud and noble wanderer, the leader on the trail, and a true aficionado of rawhide bones.
Hates: Being picked up and sharing treats. Would shiv someone for: Any bone ya got!12534088_1015440395196475_451336444_n(1)

 

This doofus is Diego. He’s a 4-5ish year old black lab mix. He’s a fierce and loyal protector with a rough and tumble background. He’s a lover of fetch, going for runs, staying directly behind his person (me, yay!) on the trail, scarfing any and all food he comes across, and hunting mice.
Hates: Loud, scary noises and sometimes dudes.  Would shiv someone for: Butt scratches, ball, or getting to rub his face on the rug.

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