Friday, June 29, 2012

30 lbs. Down

The good news first, I'm officially down 30 lbs from my beginning weight! I can tell too, because my pants are spending a lot of time getting yanked up these days. I am determined to use up my wardrobe before I shop though, it's silly, but dammit, I hate shopping. I especially hate shopping for pants! I have plenty to tide me over anyway. I was this size once before, many moons ago and apparently I don't get rid of clothes that don't fit. Although, I think I'm going to donate my stack of jeans that is ridiculously big before I find some excuse to grow back into them. I saw a friend last night I haven't seen in a while and she was just overflowing with praise and said she was so proud of me. It made me feel really good to hear that, I wasn't even sure that anyone (except my lovely blog readers and a few coworkers) had noticed I've lost weight.

I've been in a funk the past few days. Just feeling really down. I don't even have a good reason, I just feel anxious and mopey. I took my daughter on a trip to visit her college and that was super fun, but the minute I got back it hit me like a ton of bricks. Also, the a/c in our office is out, that isn't helping. We have some wall units and fans going, but it's not the same as central a/c. I don't know if you've noticed or not, but the midwest in experiencing a bit of a heat wave right now. The expected high today is 102. Yes, one hundred and two degrees! You can fry eggs on black top right now. That's actually a better projection that the one I heard this morning which was 108. UGH. The air is stagnant and feels like a heavy blanket. I'm going to enjoy the cool of a/c inside my bff's condo tonight and I'm only leaving if there's froyo on the agenda.

I really need to get some exercise in. I know that definitely affects my mood. It's not on the agenda tonight since I'll be out at A's, but tomorrow I'm hitting the gym for sure. Working out always improves my mood. I'd love to be outside, but if you'll note on the image above, it's going to be up to 104! HOLY CRAP! I'm pretty sure that kind of heat might actually cause me to melt into a puddle of sweat in mere seconds. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I had a rough start to my day today, I woke up with a bit of a headache that just grew over the course of the day and I was feeling stressed too. No big reason, really, just letting my mind wander too far away from center a.k.a. sanity. I always get a little squirrelly when I start dating someone new, even if they are saintly, it just stirs up anxiety. I wish I naturally stayed in the moment instead of running through every "what if" scenario and of course, my charming brain manufactures catastrophe by the boat load. Somebody get me a fainting couch. It never helps when I don't feel well. By mid afternoon my head was pounding and I just needed to take my sorry butt home. So, off I went and I quickly passed out cold and slept for a few hours. When I woke, my head was still hurty, but better. I think my allergies are just really kicking my rear the past few days and whatever is floating around in the air today was the final straw. Anyway, a Zyrtec later and a big nap and I'm feeling much better.

After dinner, I walked to my gym doing more interval training, 60 seconds slow, 30 seconds fast, and did a quick workout on the elliptical and that always makes me feel better.
I heart my gym. Only .9 miles from my house, too!
 I talked to one of the trainers there and he said I could do a mini 3-session package for $99 that would set me in the direction I want to go to prep for the Ultra Hike in October. Did I tell you about that? I go to the information session in a couple weeks, but the bottom line is that it's a fundraiser for children's cancer research and a 30 or 15 mile hike. I might be overly ambitious, but I want to try for 30. Anyway, trainer guy seems to think he can get me in shape in time. I'm terrified and intrigued. I'm going to make an appointment with him in the next couple weeks.

Before I went to the gym, I took some pictures. I don't love them, but I need to document this journey somehow and I'm definitely noticing a difference in the way my clothes are fitting. For instance, the shirt I'm wearing in these pics was too small not long ago. I'm glad to have it back in my workout wear rotation since it's moisture wicking. At Marisol's suggestion, I popped into Old Navy to check out their stuff and did buy a sleeveless workout shirt, but after trying it on again at home, I think it's too snug for me to feel comfortable in public. I can't decide if I'm going to hang on to it for a while or return it.

These crops make me look like I have super short legs, but they are way comfy.
I'm starting to notice a difference in my middle.
Again, not sure theses pants are doing anything for me,
but I feel like I'm looking more proportionate in general. 
You can still set a drink on my "onion" but things are starting to trim down.
 Pay no attention to the unmade bed in the background.
So that's the scoop, peeps. I hope you're having a great week and all is right in your world.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


The past few days have been especially jam-packed with activity. On Friday, I met some folks from my hiking club at the Missouri Botanical Gardens for a walk through the special exhibit Chinese Lantern Festival display. We arrived before dark, had dinner, then did a tour of the sculptures before dark, then looped back around for a second look once it got dark. STUNNING. It was so beautiful. Well, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. Fitness related, I was really happy to observe that I didn't feel tired at all after the walk, which was about 2 miles or so. I remember a time, not long ago, when I would have been dragging. In fact, I've noticed quite a bit recently that exercise is getting more enjoyable and less torturous. I have been having a lot of problems with leg cramps and I can't quite figure that out. Just my calves. I wasn't eating bananas for a while because of the high sugar content, but I started eating them again because it's supposed to help with cramps, but I'm not sure I can tell a difference. They are by no means excruciating, but it does get uncomfortable. Any suggestions?

One of my favorite displays at the heart of the garden.
Another favorite. The four-headed Buddha. He is HUGE!
On Saturday during the day, I had a craft show at the farmer's market in Soulard. It's an outdoor show and I'm always a little bit worn out after because it's so hot. This time wasn't too terrible, but it was definitely still pretty hot. If only I could figure out how to make my tent air conditioned. :) 

Some of the map jewelry I make. I couldn't find my usual white table cloth,
so I looked a bit Christmasy with the bright red!

Later that evening, me and the new guy, J, met briefly for a quick bite late in the evening. He helped his best friend move all day (actually five days in a row) and the poor thing was tuckered out. It was nice to catch up for a bit though and we planned a proper date for Sunday.

Sunday I got up early and attacked my overgrown lawn, front and back, then tore apart the house like a madwoman doing some long overdue spring cleaning.

First there was chicken snuggling. My girl, Rontaco. She's a cuddler. We were sleepy, but lovey.
It felt good to tackle some of clutter and restore order. If only I could figure out how to keep it this way all the time! I think I burned some major calories though, I was super sore by afternoon. 

For my date, I packed a picnic for us to take to the park. J is also allergic to wheat, which made planning super easy. I chopped up some peppers and, my newest favorite produce item from Trader Joe's, Persian cucumbers. They are so tiny and cute and don't need to be peeled. I packed hummus and  also made chicken salad and cut up a bunch of fresh fruit. Yum! 

We had a really good time and stayed at the park until it got dark. Time flew by so fast! I'm a smitten kitten.

Yesterday was back to the grind, but I decided to liven up the day by taking a walk to the Loop, a shopping district near my work, on my lunch break. There's a pedestrian path from campus directly to the Loop, which makes for a really nice peaceful walk. There are often cyclists and other walkers, but it's by no means crowded. 

About half way there...
Almost there! 
I popped into the smoothie place, my motivation to get out in the heat and walk, and got a chocolate smoothie. Yum. I have to say though, I was really disappointed, for a "healthy" place, it was hard to find something on the menu that didn't have obscene amounts of sugar. I got a "skinny" smoothie and one of the few that wasn't loaded with sugar and it was still more than I would have liked it to be. Next time, if I'm going to frivolously spend calories, I'm just going to Froyo. It's cheaper, less fattening, and delicious.

Today I was draggin' my behind. I went to J's last night and we hung out and visited until later than we should have on a school night and I was feeling it this morning. Ugh. I took a much needed nap in the campus library at lunch and I was pretty much useless this evening. I had big plans to go to belly dancing class (a couple years ago I went regularly and a friend has renewed my interest), got dressed for it and ended up taking a "little" nap that lasted three hours. Whoops. At least I'm rested now! 

How has your week been? Also, anyone have a suggestion for a place to get moisture-wicking shirts at a reasonable price? I want a couple for working out and I'm having a hard time finding them in a XL that isn't skin tight. I'm not sure why they are cut so much smaller than a regular shirt, but I think I might need to go with a 1X instead and I don't want to spend a fortune. 

Oh! I almost forgot - I'm down 3 more pounds. YAY! I have a big pile of stuff accumulating that is too big now and it feels great to be shrinking. People are starting to really notice and have said some sweet things lately. Double-yay for supportive friends!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Adventures, Berries, Shrinking, and More...

It's been a whirlwind of a few days. On Sunday, me, the bestie, and my favorite travelling companion, little H (A's baby) went on an adventure to Calhoun County in search of fresh berries and peaches. It's a fun ride that involves a ferry and lots of beautiful pasture. It's almost like driving through a painting. 

Little H. Ready for adventure! She has the sweetest rosiest cheeks ever!
We stopped here for snacks and a potty break.
Mmm. Berries! When they were good, they were GOOD. When they weren't, they were TART!
The rest of the week has been a mixture of snuggling my chickens, scratching my various bug bites, work, and bad tv. I'm ashamed to admit, that while I don't watch much tv, when I do, it's often totally mindless crap. I'm too embarrassed to even say what they are, they're that bad.
My girl, Daphne.
Really effective for just a few minutes.
I took a few days off of working out since I did so much last week -- 15 miles of hiking and 6 miles of walking!!! My knees were really bothering me quite a bit and I needed some recovery time. I did do one easy one mile walk on Monday with the dog, but nothing that made me sweat.

I have noticed in the past week or so that I'm really feeling a change in the way my clothes fit. In fact, today, I put on my favorite pair of pants and with a few minutes they were stretched out and sagging to my hips. I remember not long ago when I was busting out of these. I've noticed with a few other things too including underwear. I'm going to have to do some shopping soon! This is a really nice problem to have. 

Today, I decided it was time to get my butt back in gear and get a good sweat going before I forgot what it felt like. After dinner I walked to the gym, which is about a mile from my house, worked out, then walked back. (David, if you're reading this, I tried the stair climber and nearly killed myself. I can't figure out how that sumbitch works! Do I have clown feet? I really felt like my feet were way too big and it was strangely slow. Bravo to you my friend). The walk home is mostly uphill, but I took it slow and enjoyed the breeze. It felt good to sweat! 
This part of the neighborhood actually has good sidewalks, which I REALLY appreciate! 
So that's my week in a nutshell so far. Well...almost. I've also had a couple really great dates this week. I'm not ready to share much of the juicy details just yet, but it's certainly been a bright spot. :) To be continued... 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Eating the Rainbow and The McCully Heritage Project

It's been a busy couple days. Yesterday I was back in the office after a couple days out for training so there was a big pile of stuff to tackle as soon as I got there. I take thyroid medication which requires that I wait at least 30 minutes to eat after I take it, so I always eat breakfast at work. I was short on time and walking out the door I grabbed a box of blueberries and some peanut butter out of the fridge. I figured it was a weirdo combo, but I could probably make it work somehow. As I popped open the carton of blueberries I thought about that campaign to eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables everyday and figured that would be a fun challenge to focus on for the day. Roy G. Biv - I knocked out B right away with the blueberries. At lunch I had a naked burrito that included lots of squash and zucchini taking care of Y and G. Along with my burrito I had a peach and apricot smoothie - O for orange. For a snack, I had a red apple - R. That left for dinner indigo and violet. Hmmm. Blue and purple... I went out for dinner and had a burger and veggies for dinner which included a purple onion. Score! But I still had I for indigo. After dinner we went to a coffee house in the neighborhood and the barista was kind enough to help me with my game and suggested a berry smoothie to knock out I. YAY! I did it! I also discovered I love the bottled smoothies - no sugar added and fairly low calorie. It's not something I would get every day, but it's a nice treat. So, in the end I had a two smoothie day, but it was fun to try to challenge myself.

Today was a busy day, too. I got up at the crack of dawn, literally. I have two chickens and one of them had unroosted herself which caused the other hen to go bananas calling for her buddy. (Fun fact: chickens are essentially blind in low light). They normally are cooped, but we forgot to put them "to bed" Friday night and they roosted on the bbq pit outside my window. As soon as Daphne jumped down and started wandering the yard, Ronnie lost her feathery head and started sqwaking like crazy, "Where are you?!" After several minutes I realized the only way I was going to get some sleep was to go reunite the dingbats, so I crawled out of bed at 5 a.m. and stumbled out to the yard to life Ronnie off the bbq pit and deliver her to Daphne. One of my cats also followed me outside and I thought, fine dude, just let me sleep. Of course, the second I got back under the covers I heard mewing and carrying on, Bad Cat wanted back in. UGH! Needless to say, I had a very lousy night's sleep. I also planned to go hiking early today so I had to be up at 6 anyway. I don't think I ever really fell back asleep.

At 6:30 my buddy Kim picked me up and we drove just a short distance to a strip mall near our house to pick up some car pool buddies. I hike with a Meet Up group and we had a couple new people, which is always fun. Meet Ups tend to attract a lot of transplants to St. Louis, so it's fun to find out what brought people here and what it's like where they're from. Today, we had two people originally hailing from Iowa and one from Wisconsin. Super duper nice folks! We also caught up with another guy at the trail head who is active military and is originally from Maine. The place we went to was about an hour from the city in a beautiful rural area near Alton, IL. The McCully Heritage Project is 940 acres of land for hiking, mountain biking, and camping. It was a really beautiful area but what we didn't anticipate was the unbelievable hills that we would have to hike up. Normally on a hike, there's "switch backs" when there's a big elevations to climb and the trail will zig zag so you never really have to climb vertically, but for whatever reason this trail was designed to hike straight up. Oy! With the backpacking trip last weekend and all the extra walking I did this week, I'm not sure I would have gone today if I had known that in advance. My knees are pretty unhappy with me at the moment. However, I'm proud to say I walked 6 miles today making my total for the week...20 miles!!! 

In the beginning, it was flat. That didn't last long at all!

There were two loops, a north and south trail, this was the south, the shorter of the two. It started really beautifully with a small lake and lots of green. 

I wish this picture showed how steep it was, somehow here it looks flat. I can assure you, it's not! 

Things changed quickly and in no time we were going up, up, up. And up. Mercifully, it wasn't too terribly hot yet, although you couldn't tell by the significant amount of sweating I was doing. Seriously, buckets.

The start of trail #2, the yellow in the distance is a field full of brown eyed susans. So pretty!
Oh lookie, more hills!
The second loop, with the spurs, we walked about 4.5 miles up and down. Again, somehow it felt mostly up!

Floppy waves of amber grain
We walked through a huge field of this stuff, but nobody seemed 100% positive if it was hay, straw, or wheat. Either way, it was like walking in snow, it required marching steps to keep moving forward and the whole time, while I was fascinated by the texture and patterns it made, I kept thinking that I really hoped I wouldn't step on a snake. No snakes, but I did pick up a few ticks. Jerks.

The end! 

Overall,  I really enjoyed the hike but by the end I was EXHAUSTED! After I got home, I showered and took a 3 hour nap. In fact, YAWN, I might just go to bed now! I hope you're having a great weekend, anything exciting going on with you?                                                                                                                                                

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Breaking the Sound Barrier

Okay, so maybe I'm exaggerating a little when I say I went faster than speed of sound...but I did go pretty fast, for me! Today I started interval training based on a schedule I found in a book. Essentially, you walk at an easy pace for 60 seconds, then full steam for 20 and you keep repeating for a total of 20 minutes. I read all the stuff that explained the science behind interval training, but I can't regurgitate the details, bottom line -- it's a worker smarter, not harder plan and it is supposed to burn more efficiently over time. My average walking pace when I'm exercising is 3.0 - 3.2 and I can sustain that for a while. My easy pace is probably 2.5-2.8. Today I was walking 2.7 with intervals of up to 4.5! HOLY CRAP! I seriously didn't think I could go that fast. It definitely spiced up my routine and made things more interesting.

A few words about my work out buddy. He's pretty much the best dog ever. When he sees me going for my workout clothes, he gets so excited I think his fuzzy little head might explode. 

Before I take him on our exercise walk, I take him to the field behind the bank across the street from my house to let him run a bit off leash. The area is fenced on 3 sides and far enough off the main road I don't have to worry about him getting hurt. He LOVES it. The first thing he does as soon as he hears the clip on the leash click is bolt across the field as fast as he can. It's pretty impressive for a couch potato doggy. He's some sort of Border Collie mix, but whatever he's mixed with must be super lazy because he's all about his naps. 
Exploring the field. This is a bit of an oddity since I live just minutes
from downtown, but it's so nice to have green space close to home!
After Mackie got a good run in (sorry bunnies that got chased) we headed to the park for a nice walk. I only did about 1.5 miles today, but with the interval training it certainly seemed more challenging.

Almost home. His tongue was waggin'!
I wasn't sure what I would think about interval training, but it was actually pretty enjoyable. Although, I'm sure it looks a little funny like I have ants in my pants every minute or so. I really like listening to Florence and the Machine to work out. Do you have any favorite bands or tunes for workout time? 

Today was a good day overall. I had my second and last day of Access training. I got up early and went by my community garden and picked some kale and chard for a salad. I also got a good handful of peas to add to the mix. It was super yummy!

Isn't that pea the cutest? (Yes, I eat with a Kermit the Frog toddler fork!) 
 I've been having some tummy issues the past couple days and I'm wondering if my super green salad might not be the culprit. I know darker greens can be harder to digest and I'm thinking it might be why I'm getting rumbles in my belly. Maybe I need to mix in some romaine or something?

At lunch since I was right around the corner from the mall and I had a $15 coupon burning a hole in my pocked I popped into Lane Bryant. I tried on a couple things and was please to see that the 18/20 fit and for the most part was roomy. However, proportionately, something is just off about the length of most of their garments for me. I'm 5'8 and they almost always are too long. I did find a cute purple maxi skirt on clearance that I picked up and I got a cute wristlet that I've been dreaming about so I can be hands-free when I take walks at lunch and still have my id and phone on me. Mostly I tuck my phone into my bra, but I'm terrified that I'm going to get it too sweaty and either short it out or electrocute myself. Anyhoo, problem solved! All in all my big shopping trip cost a whopping $21 dollars after the coupon. YAY!

I love the color and it's just the right size to carry the essentials and will slip into my big purse without adding a lot of bulk. 

This afternoon on the way home from training I stopped to pop into TJ Maxx and got sidelined by a crisis. When I pulled into the parking spot I noticed there was a little girl in the back seat by herself in the car next to me and all the windows were rolled up. The car was off. The door was cracked, but you could tell she was reluctant to open it all the way. She was pretty small and I'm guessing somewhere between 7 and 8. I got out of my car and looked around hoping to see someone that looked like a mom nearby, but there was no one. I didn't want to scare her and she didn't seem in immediate danger, but it was hot and I know it only takes minutes to get dangerously hot in a car in the summer. I stepped a few yards away and called the police, but kept a watch on her. Long story short, the police were there in a matter of just a few minutes and they rounded up the mom who tried to say that she had just sent her daughter out to get her purse. Um, no. That kid was parked in the backseat. She was not getting anything. Then I overheard the lady tell the police that her daughter was 11. I very nearly lost my cool. I'm not a carnie or anything, but I'm a mom and I've been around a ton of kids in my time and that kid was not a young-looking 11, she was simply younger. It took everything in my being to not start screaming at the woman. Regardless, 7 or 8 or 11, it was nearly 90 degrees in the shade. She seemed so unconcerned and not in the least bit surprised to see the police, like it was old hat. I turned to her and said, "It's HOT, she's wearing JEANS!" and she wasn't even phased. That just makes my heart hurt. I left before the police had resolved the situation completely, partly because I didn't want to risk a confrontation and partly because I was furious. When I got home I conducted my own experiment to see how long it took to get uncomfortable in a car with no a/c and the door cracked. 2 minutes. By 4 minutes I was sweating. The whole thing just breaks my heart and I seem to have an eye for that kind of thing. Some other day I'll tell you all about the kitchen knife-wielding toddler at the department store. Ugh. Anyway, I'm glad the police were so quick to respond and I hope that the irresponsible mom takes this as a wake up call and doesn't endanger her kid like that again. A metal box sitting in the sun is no place for a person or an animal.

Tomorrow I'm back to the regular routine and I'll be in my office all day. I'm super glad it's Friday, but dreading the regular grind. My friend issue I mentioned yesterday is still not resolved and that's got me tossing and turning and making it difficult to focus. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better on that front.
On Saturday I'm hiking again (only 7 miles this time) and I'm excited to explore a new area and get some quiet time in the forest again. Sunday is podcast/craft day and I'm heading out to A's for bonding and handmade. 

What are you doing this weekend?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

City Hiker

Passion Flower
It's been a busy couple days! Yesterday I went for a walk after work with some folks from a Meet Up group in  Forest Park. Forest Park is one of the largest city parks in the country, it's about 6 miles around the perimeter if you walk the whole path. We went from the planetarium to the zoo and back, which was about 3 miles round trip. I still can't seem to push much past 3 miles an hour no matter how hard I try, it's driving me crazy! I can't quite figure out why I can't go just a bit faster. I mean being heavy is going to slow me down of course, but I have seen some folks who are by no means tiny and they are bookin' it. I really want to pick up a little speed, my goal is to walk a half marathon this fall and from what I have heard, most of the time they want you to be able to do a mile in 18 minutes. Right now I'm consistently 20ish. Of course, my legs still feel a bit sore and heavy from the hiking trip, but honestly, right now all the gosh darn bug bites are far more annoying. I have been bathing myself in anti-itch cream when I'm not scratching like a mad woman. 

Anyway, I enjoyed the walk in the park, the people were super nice and I especially enjoyed the company of a lovely little lady from Taiwan, Kang (sounds like kong). She was so excited every time we saw a berry or a pretty flower. She spotted the gorgeous passion flower above right outside the zoo. I really appreciated her positive attitude and grateful demeanor. People like that are so enjoyable to spend time with. This week I had a conflict with a friend and it's been weighing heavy on my mind. I really dislike being out of harmony, it's like it throws my balance off. I'm not sure that this issue will be resolved anytime soon, so I need to find some peace with it. Perhaps in the mean time I will do my best to emulate Kang and get excited about the small stuff through out the day. 

Today was a long day of training off-site at an extension office for the University of Missouri. I'm taking an intermediate Access course and it's a bit of a snooze fest. Informative, but not the most thrilling topic. Fortunately, they are generous with breaks and there's free coffee. After work I went and got my hair trimmed for the first time in 6 months. Nothing new style-wise really, just freshened up! I like it, it's almost exactly the same as before minus 2 inches of severely split ends! 
Tonight was a fun time, I belong to a crafters professional organization and we had a meet and greet for the new members. We met at a gelato place near my house and I got to have dinner with my bestie beforehand (who makes awesome sewn goods for the whole family, go check her out We went to a fabulous Vietnamese place and I had a chicken dish in a most delicious brown garlic sauce that was so good I wanted to lick my plate. I seriously considered it, but it was a full house. Afterwards at the gelato place I was really tempted to chow down on some gelato, but I ordered a sugar-free latte instead. I had rice noodles with dinner, which is pretty carby and I also had some dark chocolate so I'd pretty much maxed out on "treats" for the day. The get together was really fun, it was nice to sit around and gab with friends old and new. 

Instead of boring you with the list of crap I ate today, how about I just give it a grade. I'd say today was a C+. Not awful, but there was certainly room for improvement. No exercise for today, I'm in recovery mode. Tomorrow I'll hit the elliptical at the gym. 

Yaaaaaaaaaawwwwn... time for this girl to head to bed. I have another full day of training tomorrow and I should probably attempt to stay awake the whole time! I hope you had a great day today and an even better one tomorrow!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Adventures in Hiking

Gathering Supplies. With water and food the pack is about 30 l
Greetings! By Friday of this week I was so excited about my camping trip, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to fall asleep. Mostly I obsessed about how to pack as light as possible without sacrificing comfort and safety. The funny thing that looks like an IV bag is where I kept 3 liters of water. I also had a sports bottle full of water, too. I drank every last bit of it! 

My carpool buddies, Cara and Julie, met at my house at 8:00 and we were on our way. Next stop commuter lot to catch up with the remaining group members, then on to the park. A couple members had some snags and we didn't end up getting to the park until about 10:00 or so and it was already getting hot. We ended up with 9 ladies total including our hiking host, Denise. 

We doubled back over a couple spots, so we figured we went about 10 miles total.
Before hiking at the visitors center. My last chance at a flush toilet for a day and a half. Appreciate your potties! I don't look too beat up in this picture. By the end, I was covered in bruises and scratches. Also note, I'm shaped just like an Anjou pear! :)

Here's an idea of what the trail looked like.
The trail was heavily wooded and very narrow. The park is absolutely beautiful and the terrain really varied quite a bit. Some parts were really rocky and others were soft with pine needles. All of it was gorgeous, there were tons of beautiful plants and flowers. Jennifer was the sweep (aka last person in line) and since I was the slow one, she was directly behind me, keeping me company. So sweet, I'm glad we got to hike together. Most of the hikers were either experienced long-distance hikers or experienced backpackers, so even though it was a "beginner's" hike, I was still a bit intimidated and going about .5 miles an hour slower. Everyone was great though and really helped me feel comfortable even though they had to wait for us to catch up several times. 

I'm not sure I've ever sweat that much in my life. Even though I drank a liter and a half of water, I didn't have to tinkle once. I don't think any fluids had the chance to get to my bladder, they were all exiting via my pores.  
Really tall trees!
The scenery was so beautiful. The hike was really challenging, I could feel my calves and thighs burning just about the whole time. Not to mention the constant sweating. In my head I spent a lot of time repeating, "Your body will do what your mind tells it to. YOU CAN DO THIS." It's amazing, every time I would start to feel overwhelmed or defeated I would repeat this to myself and suddenly my feet felt a little lighter. I probably repeated that mantra a couple hundred times over the course of the hike. 

At the top of the hill/mini mountain, we stopped to enjoy the view. So beautiful! At this point we were about half way. Don't be fooled by Shannon's long sleeves, it was hot! 

Not sure what the squiggly stuff is. Glad it's not snakes.

This stream was the first water we saw on the whole trip and it turned out to be the only available water source. Fortunately, we crossed it twice and a bit further down the trail, we had closer access to it from our camp. After about 6 hours and many, many steps, we arrived at our camp!

It's as tiny as it looks. 

Once we got set up in camp, I had a couple sandwiches on my uber expensive gluten-free bread, which was delicious, and I was in bed by 7:30. I really wanted to chat with the girls, but I was so exhausted! I meant to lay down for a minute, but ended up just going to bed for good instead. This is the view from inside my teeny tent. :) 

My tent neighbor Barb said I did a lot of thrashing around in the night. I couldn't quite get comfortable and even though I was wearing a big fleece jacket, pants, and wool socks, my nylon poncho was not cutting it as a blanket. Who knew I'd need a sleeping bag in June? 

Once it got good and dark, the coyotes started to howl. It sounded a bit like a track from a horror movie. There must have been a fairly large pack of them because it sounded like a chorus of howls. There was also a very noisy whippoorwill that had a whole lot to say. Think the forest is quiet? Think again! If you've never heard one, you can listen here

Morning came pretty quickly and in no time we were all up and pitter pattering around the camp fire. Shannon, being a complete saint, brought instant coffee to share. Add an early morning campfire and it was heavenly. Ahhh...

Unfortunately, Saint Shannon wasn't feeling too hot and got really sick, like flu sick. Poor kid! So on the way back to the Visitors Center, Denise, Shannon, and I split off from the group to hack a couple miles off the return and hiked to the nearest road. When we got there we copped a squat by the road where we stayed until the rest of them finished the hike and came to pick us up. All in all, we still did about 10 miles over the two days. For a former couch potato, that's a big victory. :)

After all the goodbyes, Cara, Julie, and I headed back to the Lou. I was famished and filthy! We made a pit stop at Hardees so I could get some caffeine and a delicious turkey burger. Mmmm, turkey. After making the rounds and dropping the ladies off I finally got home for a shower and a tick check. Two of those squirmy bastards made their way on to my thigh. 

After clean up I did one last trip to REI to drop off my gear that I rented and boy was I pooped. I love that store so much and bumped in to Besty, who should be employee of the year, and got a high-five! Every little bit of encouragement means so much!

On the way home I temporarily lifted the sugar ban and treated myself to a small vanilla cone at McDonald's.  It was delish and since sugar makes me uber sleepy and I was tired anyway, I went home and took a nice nap aftewards. I'm pretty sure this trip will take a few days to recover from. I'm not too sore yet, but I'm not exactly feeling aches and pain-free either. 

I hope you had a wonderful weekend! What did you do?

Friday, June 1, 2012


Yesterday my baby girl graduated from high school. I am so proud of her, that's a huge victory! It's especially meaningful to me since I didn't graduate. I had a really rocky start in high school and after I cleaned up my act it was a little too late. Eventually, I dropped out and got my GED, and went to community college early. I'm in graduate school now, but I certainly didn't pick the easy path and I've always been a little envious of people who pushed all the way through. Anyway, it's always been extra important to me that my girl finish and enjoy some of the perks of sticking with it for four years like prom and pep rallies. Plus, I wanted better for her. I didn't want her to have to struggle like I did to have to fill in all the blanks because she didn't finish. I was a few years behind in math when I started college and I had to take math as electives for 2 years before I got to the one that "counts". I hate math! Anyway, I am just pleased and so proud of my girl. She didn't have an easy time in high school either and there were quite a few struggles, but she persevered and she did it! GO ALLI! You sure do make your mama proud! I'm so glad to have such a wonderful girl.

Everything else kinda pales in comparison, ya know? I've been waiting EIGHTEEN years for this day! I almost can't believe it. She's really excited and even more excited to be starting college. *sniff* my baby isn't a baby anymore!

Here's a quickie update on fitness and food...

Wednesday I attempted to go for a bike ride. I say attempt because there were multiple issues with my bicycle that only became evident as I was on the way to my destination. 1) The seat moved, a lot. 2) The tires are apparently as air tight as a block of Swiss cheese. 3) The seat height was too low so I felt like my knees were in my chest. 4) The gears were kinda working. See the problem(s)? Fortunately, I had only planned to use my bike to ride to the store to satisfy a cucumber emergency (I picked fresh dill) so I was only going about 1.5 miles round trip. I ended up walking probably half of it. The last .25 miles was all down hill, so I just coasted the whole way and it was awesome to feel the wind in my hair! The bottom line: I need a new bicycle. I'm doing some research, but it's on the list for purchases in the near future along with a bicycle helmet. 

Food has been fine. Yesterday, I had an apple and peanut butter for breakfast, my latest favorite and lunch was a yum yum salad made from garden goodies. Dinner was chicken and lots of squash. Everything was in a little bit of a hurry since I had to rush from work to home to the graduation ceremony, but it all worked out just fine. I still need to drink a lot more water. 

Tomorrow is the big hike! I'm so excited and have lots of prep to do tonight. After work I'm headed to REI to pick up the gear I rented, then home to pack! 

I hope you all have a LOVELY weekend with lots of sunshine and good times.