Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Journey

Bee…still my heart

I captured this shot during my recent ocean visit and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. I wasn’t even aiming for the bee and she merely flew into the shot. Yet she is in focus and sharp as if she was meant to be the main subject, casting her surroundings in a softer focus and stealing the show.

Like a busy bee, I have been running around the past month since I returned from Germany. Not the same responsibilities as Germany, yet there’s no shortage of tasks it seems. But it hasn’t been all work and I would lie if I said that I don’t hardly have time for anything these days. Not if I am the one picking with what I want to fill my time with.

My heart has been beating just a little faster since the Land purchase. Can I blame myself!!! Plans are made or are on the way to creating an amazing space that I’ll be proud to call my home. Yesterday was the first initial walk with the water and sewer company to see where the easiest and most cost effective way would be to run water and sewer lines, as well as to hook up. It was a little bit like hitting the lottery and we discovered that the property already has sewer. Chances are that there is water as well and our fingers are tightly crossed. We should know more in a few days after the water company searches the lot per metal detector for a water pipe in the ground.

Although I have posted every day, I haven’t worked on the blog much. Most of my free time has been allocated to designing my dream home and several plans are in progress. All great, but not quite it. The latest idea is me to the core. Unconventional and unique, one of a kind and my heart is leaning towards this idea. I am sure there is more to be shared when the time is right and this idea is set in stone. If anyone wants to follow this adventure on instagram, you can find us at aspendell_retreat.

Anyways, back to the blog and what I wanted to say. It’s been slightly over a month I have not interacted and answered comments. Yikes. Please be assured that I read each and every one of them and appreciated them with all my heart. My non-response and interaction is changing as of today and I will go back and answer where I can if it is still relevant. However, I know you understand that my dedication and time requirements will be on building my new future. Thank you for sharing it with me and for coming along for yet another adventure. We have come a long ways haven’t we!!!

Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Travel

A little “Down time”

I am on my way to some much needed down time. I am heading to the ocean for a few days to listen to the whisper of the waves, to be sun kissed by the sun and to feel the surf between my toes.

I arrived back in the states Wednesday night and I am still recovering from a strenuous journey back. Plus I lost my voice the day before my travel and I am still not a 100% and can only talk for limited times. In addition my body struggles with post symptoms from the time I was so terribly ill in Germany. Perhaps I did have covid, or perhaps the universe is telling me to be still for awhile. I am planning to do exactly that. Eventually I get back into the swing of things, forging a plan of what’s next and how to go about it. Eventually I will also get back to your much appreciated comments and I will respond once more. Thank you for your patience and for sticking with me. What a journey it has been and continues to be. I am looking forward to the next couple of days and no stress. It will be Cinnamons first time seeing the ocean and I am sure she will love it.

Posted in Adventure, Journey, Life

Travel day to the Wild West

It’s travel day for me and I am returning to the Wild West once more. It’s hard to believe how quickly 2 1/2 months passed by, and while I am glad that it’s over I’m done aspects, I can’t help but also feel sad in some others. There is still much to process and to write about. I believe it will spill out here and there, over time. I know that I am returning a changed woman, one who has found many answers, one that found closure to many things that were undone, and one who has closed a few doors while looking forward to open a few new ones. I am excited to see what spirit animal is stepping forward to support us in June. And with said and it being travel day, this segment will be slightly delayed.

Posted in Adventure, Love, Motorcycle

My first Motorcycle

The passion for motorcycles runs in my family, and from little on I would wait at the end of the driveway to catch a ride on the Gastank when my Dad came home from work. Many family members ride still today, but I have always been the only woman in our family licensed and with an actual motorcycle.

Pictured above was my first bike and what a show stopper it was at the time. Belt driven and liquid cooled, a big deal back then and so was the according price tag. It was the most expensive in its class, and it wasn’t a matter of that, but I simply didn’t like the other models. This was the one and I paid the price for it by financing it, working only part time and having to say no to many fun activities with my friends due to my obligations of paying off the loan. I would do it again, in a heartbeat. It’s a passion, a feeling you carry inside that is hard to explain. It’s something you feel, something that elates your heart and I am planning to be well enough to ride again. Soon, very soon.

Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Journey

In the meantime

Hello everyone, I hope everyone is having a great weekend. It’s rainy in my corner of the world, but my heart is filled with sunshine from just recent days.

I have interrupted my scheduled posts to stop the flow of distractions coming in. I am taking a break this weekend to catch up on your comments and do some reading of your own blogs. In the meantime I leave you with another picture of “The Wave.” Never would I have imagined how much this place was needed at a pivotal point in my journey. What significance it would hold for me and what a turning point it would mark for me. No ordinary moments…ever.

Posted in Adventure, Challenges, Hiking, Mother nature

I made it…(with support and help)…and I’m here to tell my story

2021 has been a year of many different endeavors and adventures, but when it comes to hiking this is my biggest and my only one to report this year. It still seems surreal that I got to experience this place and that I made it. This is my story of what it was like.

If you follow this blog regularly, then you know that on the physical front and health wise 2021 has been a huge challenge for me. I have encountered one of the most powerful RA flare ups, which had rendered me unable to hike and accomplish normal daily tasks. For months, days were filled with pain of different levels and just walking on slightly uneven ground presented a huge challenge for me. Walking was hard, period, and I felt stiff and uncoordinated. And then came a break and I managed 2 miles and then 3 miles before the trip. Two days before the “Wave” hike I made it to 4.2 miles and 4 Miles the next trying to build up my endurance. My feet felt like they had gone through a meat grinder which didn’t help ease the anxiety I had about the hike. From the beginning on after learning that we had won the lottery and permits to hike the wave, my excitement was muffled about this rare and at times NEVER in a lifetime opportunity that I was presented with. I had my doubts that I make it, that I would be physically able to do it. I was nervous all the way up to the trailhead and beyond. 4.2 miles was the furthest I had managed so far and what was ahead of me was a 6.4 miles round trip, another 2.2 miles. I should be able to make it if I take my time I convinced myself. Too late to turn back now and I knew it was now or NEVER.

The trail started out in a wash, a dried up riverbed that can flood quickly and at any time during flash floods. These floods can occur rapidly and suddenly, carrying a wall of water, 12 ft high from storms that often occur far away. Challenge #1 keeping an eye out to not be taken by surprise or off guard should such a thing happen today. This was not the way I planned on being swept away today.

A half mile later, following the wash, a trail was leaving the riverbed, leading into a short but steep rocky climb to higher elevation. I took my time, huffed a little and thought that just recently I would have not been able to made this climb. Overall I was glad to be at higher elevations as this 12ft wall of rushing water was still in the back of my mind. What followed next was a good stretch of sandy path that was actually easy on the feet. Cinnamon loved it and pranced around with temps still on the cool side and an overcast sky. Partly cloudy was the forecast in the mid 60’s. By the end of that stretch my phone said that I had gone nearly 1.5 miles already and I felt confident that I’d make it. After all I was halfway there already while assessing my energy levels and current condition.

The sandy, soft on your feet section ended across another wash that appeared wet and just recently flooded. In front of me was a moderately to steep rock wall. “What, we have to climb this wall” is what I recall myself saying and it was in that very moment that what was described to me as an easy trail taking on a different meaning. Easy? Apparently your type of easy and mine are a lottttt different I thought. You got to be kidding me. Slow and steady does it and I climbed the wall, feeling then already that a few times I was hitting my physical limitation. Yeah it was cooler which is better for me to hike, but going from 0-100 in practically no time of adjustment was something else. This would push my limits at the end of a major RA flare. Pure adrenaline pushed me on, but this was only one way and I would have to make it back again as well. I remember fearing that I’d exhaust all of my energy, that I’d run my tank on empty, but that 6.4 miles round trip number still brought some comfort. Hopefully some time of rest would be enough to recover for the way back.

What goes up must come down and on the other side of the rock wall that I had just climbed was waiting the descend. Worse than going up for me with the arthritic knees and having to step sideways down the steep “Paul Bunyan” steps. And of course I made that as well. Further hilly stretches of ups and downs, with sand and slippery rock followed where you either follow the footsteps of others who came before you in the sand or the pictures on a map you are giving that shows landmarks along this mainly unmarked trail to the wave. 4 miles had passed, aren’t we close yet? I should have arrived already. “See the people (the tiny dots) ahead of us….that’s where we are going. “You got to be kidding” made a reappearance and by now I started to feel anger, frustration, fear, worry and doubt, all rushing in at the same time. An encouraging “I am proud of you and you are doing great” was shot down by me saying that being proud had nothing to do with this. That this was borderline stupidity, that I felt in danger, at risk of getting hurt, of doing more damage to my joints, that I had no health insurance if something did happen, and that it might was a bit much for Cinnamon to manage as well, since she had never gone this far in her little short life. Again, just like before I called for higher protection to be able to make it and to keep me safe throughout it all. This was not what I had signed up for and I felt that the decision of whether to be able to attempt that hike was taken from me and had never been mine to make. How foolish, I thought, feeling misunderstood with no clue of what I endured with this relentless disease so far this year. It’s so much more than just a little arthritis pain. It’s excruciating, debilitating to the point of that it is deforming your joints and bones. Not to mention the fatigue and all the other side affects it brings along with itself. Honestly, had I known, I most likely would have not gone, and I’m sure it was no secret even though the words were never spoken. But like always anger always passes, and in all my big achievements it was better for me not to know what was ahead of me. Perhaps I would have doubted myself, not believed in myself enough to make it, stressed myself out prematurely or what have you, despite of my strong believe that we can achieve anything if we put our mind to it.

The tiny dots ahead of us were scaling another rock wall. Steeper and more daunting yet, than the initial one and prior ones I had climbed. Between us a sand dune with deep sandy parts and another descend. Wet sand, wet and dry rock and sheer cliffs caused extra need for caution. It was slow going with one step forward and two steps back in the sandy, climbing parts. Having reached the rock wall we took a break and it was suggested that we don’t have to go any further. I was still fuming at that point, but frustration was turning into desperation, fear and another prayer. How could I have lived with that decision and the only way I would have stopped, denying myself and everyone the view of the destination would have been if I felt Cinnamon was at risk. We were so close, stopping or turning around was not optional, I would have never lived this one down. On we went to the final stretch, the final climb, dousing Cinnamon once more with water along her backside to keep her cool. The overcast sky had cleared to partly cloudy and it seemed like the temps had shot up by 20 degrees which caused part of the difficulty. Unbelievable, in November, and I can’t imagine hiking this in 100+ degrees that it easily reaches in the summer month.

The final ascend was the hardest, steep and slippery. Here I was in my new shoes, men’s walking shoes to accommodate my wider foot now that had spread out over the summer, courtesy of the RA. In my opinion the sole and profile of my shoes seemed non sufficient for such a task, too flat with not enough profile and it wasn’t proven as secure yet that they could handle such terrain. Not to mention my own ankles and agility. I don’t know how many times I thought that any minute I would roll my ankle over the uneven ground and having to walk sideways, over the angled rock. All while keeping my eyes peeled for rattlesnakes, tarantulas and scorpions.

And then we had finally made it. We had arrived at a (for me) once in a lifetime opportunity and stood at the entrance to the wave. I knew this would be my only time seeing it and that I most likely would never make it back here again. Here I was 5+ miles later with another 5+ to make it back to the trailhead, grateful and overcome by this natural beauty. How many times had I been in this position before, cursing, on the brink of wanting to give up, on the edge of tears and anger, somehow finding the courage and strength to push on and be rewarded with something that is always worthwhile in the end. You just can’t drive up to a location like this and the most stunning views require hard work to get there. Before the hike I knew and thought to myself that this adventure would definitely show me what I am made off, although deep down I already knew the answer to that. It’s amazing what we can achieve by sheer willpower, when we don’t set our own limitations and believe that anything is possible. There truly is no guts and glory in the passive, in waiting, but it is in the daily choices we make for ourselves and we are always one choice away from a completely different life.

We were able to stay a few hours and take as many pictures while enjoying as many angles of the wave as possible. In the end we had it all to ourselves which was my favorite part. Listening to the silence and feeling the magic of this place that definitely holds a healing vortex, I sat in stillness, grounding and replenishing myself for what was ahead. Eventually leaving, we allowed ourselves plenty of time to make it back with breaks and before darkness would hit. Getting back took actually a bit longer and I chalk it up to just being tired from having walked so far already. I was extra cautious to not make mistakes and get careless because of fatigue. Surprisingly my feet felt decent with the extra cushioning of the metatarsal pads I was wearing inside my roomy shoes, but they were tired to say the least. Back at the trailhead and 10+ miles later, it felt surreal that I got to see and experience this magnificent wonder. That I had made it and could mark this off of my bucket list, being given that second chance after missing my first one as I left for Germany to care for my sick mother in 2018. That I could share this adventure with someone special and that I had help and support through the sketchy parts. Surely I would have made it on my own if I had to, but it would have been far scarier, with additional time requirements shortening my stay. It will be an experience that stays with me forever and a testimony of the human spirit and making not even the sky your limit.

Now a few days later, I made two posts on social media in hiking with dogs and another group, with this very picture and a much much shortened version, basically just expressing gratefulness of being able to hike it after my major RA flare up this year. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring and support and the comments I have received. I am humbled by how many people have been touched by this story, how many still have this as a lifelong goal on their bucket list and how extremely lucky I have been to have seen it. The responses have shown me that we all are in need of a good story to motivate us and to keep us going. That we all carry each other home and that we are the co creators of our own such story. Keep shooting for the stars my friend, you have just witnessed that anything is possible.

Posted in Adventure, Mother nature, Snow

Tons of snow and an allergic reaction :(

We woke up to the first significant winter storm. Yesterday’s rain turned into snow late in the evening and this morning we were greeted by a winter wonderland. At least a foot (12”) of snow has fallen overnight and it’s the fluffy heavy kind, perfect for building a snowman or to go sledding and get the toboggan out. Yeah, we will see about that later, but in the meantime it’s nice and cozy on the inside. Still in bed I was looking at heavy covered pine trees this morning, and the views were sheer bliss, although the trees limbs were hanging low under the heavy weight of the snow. I felt a gratitude and gratefulness to be surrounded by warmth and not having to go out in this world that looked beautiful and peaceful. Seeing and enjoying it from the inside while it’s still snowing is one thing, going out and driving in it, is another. I bet there have been accidents galore this morning on the freeways and I know that some interstates along with mountain passes have been closed due to weather. We did had a rock / landslide near the burn scars from this summer and it will take awhile to unbury the road again. This time of year and just learning about the forecast and that snow was on the way used to stress me out, especially if I had to be to work early in the morning. Now I’m blessed to enjoy the serenity of being snowed in and not having to worry about all the other less experienced drivers who speed passed me, only to end up in the ditch down the road because of going too fast.

Cinnamon however, loves it and leaped out this morning, jumping like a little goat through the snow that is belly high for her. She always did love the snow and to her it was a welcome surprise to open the door this morning and discover the white, fluffy stuff. She has tons of energy in the cooler temperatures which don’t bother her one bit and snow brings out her feisty side, which in actuality is seen daily. Snow or not, she is a happy dog with a slight identity crises believing she is human. I noticed what is probably an allergic reaction to her vaccine this morning and she has a blood filled, irritated looking bump / growth on the bottom of her chin. Of course, worried Mom, me, calls the vet right away but no appointment is available and is instructed to call again Wednesday morning for standby openings. In the meantime research suggests that it is not that uncommon for dogs to have a allergic reaction with vomiting, diarrhea, hives, rashes and face swelling to a vaccine and God knows that this little girl is super sensitive. As a home remedy I have given her some Antihistamine and hope that this blood filled zit looking nastiness will clear up and subside as nothing more than a reaction to her shots. She is eating her treats and is active which is a good thing since the article also mentions that in severe cases although rare in dogs, a anaphylactic response and even fatality can occur if not treated. You bet that my eyes are peeled to monitor this little human fur-child. In the meantime all is well and our fingers are crossed it stays this way.

Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Life

I’m not done yet

“I’m not done yet. In fact I’m just getting started. I had goals, I had ideas, I had so many plans for my life, and they all changed, over and over again. Sometimes that’s difficult and sometimes that’s a challenge, but most of the time it’s a gift, because sometimes the place you really needed to go in life was somewhere you would have never planned on your own.”

~Topher

How many of you relate? How many agree and can say “my story isn’t over yet?” Boy it takes hard work to get here doesn’t it, and even harder work to keep going. Chance accompanies us along the way and in fact changes us. We constantly reinvent ourselves, shedding old beliefs and values while adapting to new ones. Life is no picnic that’s for sure, but it is a journey and then again, everything worthwhile requires effort and a traveler willing of not arriving at a set destination.

Posted in Adventure, Inspiration, Life

Getting lost

I remember the first time “getting lost” came up in a conversation. My words were taken literally, as if a horrible fate had happened to me. As if sympathy and understanding was called for. Yet for me it was merely a way of describing “to get away from it all.” Over the years “getting lost” has become an essential part of my life. I have come to enjoy my own company while leaving the noise behind. For me “getting lost” doesn’t always mean that I have to be myself and it’s wonderful if you can share the experience with a like minded soul, but I do enjoy my solace, no matter how compatible someone is. It packs a powerful meaning and I believe that sometimes we have to get lost in order to find what we are really seeking. To allow ourselves a chance to become completely still, without interruptions. Consciously or not.

Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are seeking, that something is missing, that something needs to be filled and replenished. But you will definitely feel it inside when you find it. When you are away from it all, and when you engage in activities that fuel your soul. You might feel a deep sigh, a tickle in your belly and lightness flooding through your veins. It’s like a coming home, a relief, something that has lifted the heaviness we often feel from day to day life.

Getting lost is a way of detoxing, of taking a break, a breather, a time out, a much needed rest from it all. You can find it in numerous ways, each unique to you and your own preferences. Perhaps you are getting lost in reading a book, taking a bath, a stroll in nature, watching a movie, in music, the performing arts and the creation process. It doesn’t require a full day commitment and even small doses per day, as much you can set aside for yourself will show significant benefits in your mood and overall well being.

Getting lost requires self love, awareness, commitment and prioritization, knowing and believing that you are worth it to take that time out from your hectic day. That it is essential for your well being, and that it is a priority. Sometimes we have to get lost to find ourselves. At least it was the case for me. It makes me smile now and sometimes all it takes is a couple of minutes, chilling in the hammock, watching the clouds go by and taking a deep breath of appreciation and gratitude. I am addicted to the feeling as if it was a potent drug that keeps calling me back for another high. Here is another perspective from Jay Woodman on the topic of getting lost.

“Life is a repeated cycle of getting lost and then finding yourself again. There are smaller cycles within that cycle where you get lost to a smaller degree and then remember yourself again. Sometimes you do it to yourself on purpose, consciously or unconsciously. Every time you get lost, it is so that you can learn something or experience something from a different perspective.”

And by doing so your life is enriched, setting yourself up with the tools and trades, the knowledge, wisdom and understanding, recognizing you have to stay flexible and sway with the ever changing challenges of life. Only then can you become unbreakable and bend in the storms. So see, in my book, “getting lost” voluntarily or involuntarily is an essential part of life and not that bad at all, even if it sounds a bit scary. Trust and have faith that all will be well and that it is a lesson you need to learn in your journey as a lifelong learner.