I’m sure we all know that there are never enough dollars, hours in the day, miles hiked, glasses of rosé consumed, and cuddle piles with friends in life.
Since there’s not enough dollars in my teaching contract to make up some ground on debt and move towards a house, it’s necessitated spending a ton of my hours working instead of playing outside. There’s not enough housing in this town and I need a nice stable place to call mine. It’s been a long time since I had that. Sprocket and I have managed okay although we both have missed our time in the mountains. He’s still oblivious to what’s coming down the pipe, although I’m really psyched about my progress this summer towards the big financial goals in my life.
On the other hand, it has been a summer that has reaffirmed my choice of place. Although work has limited them, there have been a few glorious nights spent watching the mountains turn to alpenglow crowded on outdoor couches with great people and amazing conversation. There have been Thursdays at concerts in the park with picnic dinners and dancing. My shed has been complemented with a patio and garden beds. I’ve woken up in my cozy shed bed to the sun rising behind the Cimarrons.
I go back to school tomorrow and my students will join me next week. It hasn’t been a #summitsummer but it’s been an important summer all the same: it’s been one that is making me incredibly excited for my next steps.
You might think you’re a loyal reader and that you’ve been checking things out for awhile. You know about my goals and my adventures and that’s awesome.
But today is my very best, most loyal readers’ 90th Birthday.
Happy birthday, Nons.
You never fail to make my day when you talk about how much you love reading my blog posts and tell me about how beautiful my photos are. I couldn’t ask for anyone to be more supportive of my dreams: I’m pretty sure there is no one else in this world as invested as me in seeing a home built in Ridgway and you never fail to ask when I’m going to have more travels to post about (I’m sorry there have been so few lately!). I don’t know many 90 year olds that are avid blog readers; at least of their granddaughter’s blog!
Thank you for always being interested in what I’m doing, teaching me the art of Norwegian Cookie making, feeding me, and being one of my biggest fans. Chatting on the phone every other week or so is a poor substitute for being back in town but I look forward to it.
I’m sorry I can’t be there with you in Tacoma to celebrate today. I love you so much.
I’ve been working like a madwoman lately which has made for a quiet summer here on the blog but I did recently make time for an interview with Kam of Campfire Chic. Kam isn’t a dog owner herself but wanted some of my thoughts about traveling with a pup. Basically I preach my views on putting your dog first: go check it out!
Kam describes herself as a “crafty micro-adventurer and chronic beginner;” not so shocking that we’d be internet pals, huh?
Um. Hi? How is it already more than a week into June? The last few weeks have passed in a blur of washing dishes, waiting tables, mowing lawns, and working around the shed. While this isn’t quite a crazy adventurous live-in-the-Jeep-and-climb-mountains-all-the-time summer, so far I’m happy as a clam being home in little old Ridgway and Making Stuff Happen.
#shedlife is treating me quite well. Summer in Colorado has arrived which means upper 40s and low 50s sleeping temperatures in Ridgway; with a big old cuddly dog that’s about perfect! Friends have been super kind about offering up showers and laundry. Thanks to my #vanlife background whipping up a meal on the two burner is no big deal (plus I eat at the restaurant when I work a lot). Between work, the library, and the park, bathrooms have been no big deal.
Mostly, it’s good to feel like I’m home.
I’m going to have to splurge on a lantern of some kind for evening reading. After a long day of working and on rare occasion, hiking, after a half hour or so I’m usually nodding off but it’d probably be helpful to not be propping my flashlight up on my shoulder. I’m eyeing either Goal Zero’s Lighthouse or Lighthouse Mini… I’ll probably be pulling the trigger on something in the next couple of days so if you have thoughts about these two or something else, give me a shout soon!
In addition to everything else, I’ve been moving some dirt around and making things happen in the garden; update on that coming really soon. Sprocket has really taken to his property he stays but sits and intently observes anyone walking past us.
One step at a time, things are happening and I feel really great about what’s happening. Just please, remind me of this in October when I am very sad about my low hiking level this summer. Sprocket tries to guilt me everyday.
A few weeks ago, I had a comment on the blog that asked me why I don’t find a job that includes my passions. The commenter seemed to think that I was set to miss out on something by settling into a more “normal” life with property and a future house. A little offended, I almost didn’t publish the comment. It seemed to imply somehow that I was a “faker” and not a into outdoor stuff as I claim to be. It kinda got under my skin. I’m not a pro-athlete. I’m not even a cool amateur living in my van chasing the dream. I’m a teacher who’s biggest dream right now is saddling myself with a mortgage.
I lived the #vanlife (or camper life, etc. as I detailed yesterday). It was amazing in so many ways but I honestly found it really isolating. Since we paid for a Jetpack, I had some internet connection to friends and family but mostly, it was just me and my ex-partner (and Sprocket).
The travel was exciting but after awhile, I needed a friend to share a glass of wine with and talk about our lives. It isn’t even a comfort thing, I spent last summer living out of my FSJ and this summer I’m living out of the XJ (and the shed). I needed a place that was mine where I had roots. I needed that place where I could go for a walk and find myself waving to nearly every car going down the road. I needed more independence to do things on my own. I also am a planner and a goal setter: I needed more stability than a cobbled together job on the road.
Is travel in my make up? Absolutely. I love my weekends and summers wandering around Colorado and the larger West. I am growing my life so that I can do this. The alternation between home and travel is sustaining to me. Teaching fits me for many reasons, one of which is the summer and vacation schedule. Spring Break in Mexico? Sounds great! Roadtrips? ALWAYS.
I actually feel a little bit bad that I was bothered by that comment. I adventure a lot. Not always as much as I like but I think I do a pretty good job prioritizing it! In fact, I am writing this blog post from a Starbucks while out on a multi-day adventure.
To those of you hoping to live the vanlife soon: cheers. If you take a hard-pass on mobile living all together: just don’t forget to adventure and you’ll be just fine. To those of you who have tried it and gone back to “the real world” because of money: it is still there. To those, who like me, tried it and found it lacking: it’s okay; you’re still an adventurer in my eyes.
It’s finally summer and I could not be more ready. Last summer, I made Francis (my FSJ) my home while I explored all over Colorado feeling free (and saving a bit of rent money in the process!). Since I’m moving again this year, I’ll be rocking a similar low-budget, high-adventure sort of lifestyle utilizing Ruth XJ and my storage shed.
This year, I’ve made the shed a bit more comfortable with an actual mattress, more consistent cooking area and better thought out storage of the things that I might want during the summer. It’s definitely not set up the way I would have it if I were living it full time since it is also doubling as a storage shed for someone who is eventually planning on having a house (albeit a smallish one).
Ruth is also a huge gas mileage upgrade from Francis (although I have sacrificed a bit in the space department) which will be great for chasing some more county highpoints this summer.
This summer is going to be one filled with working (yay, Provisions!), peakbagging, friends, adventures, gardening, dreaming, and long drives.
Sometimes it feels like life is really just out to kick you when you’re down. Last school year was that time for me; I went through a divorce, I was starting a new career, had to change schools, and didn’t do myself a lot of favors in terms of staying active and being positive. That is not how I mean to live my life.
Fortunately, when school got out last year, I launched myself into my county highpoint project driving a lot of miles around Colorado with Francis the FSJ. For me, a road trip is almost always a mood lifter and a time for thinking about life. (Lissie’s cover of “Pursuit of Happiness” was the soundtrack to many a long dark mile last summer and excellent reading for this post.) I landed in a great school for this year and made some real strides as a teacher. I tried to embrace my situation to make the most of this year.
My heart, however, remained nestled in Ridgway, my little town at the base of the San Juan Mountains. Out loud, I told my family and friends that I was resigned to a couple of years of being away but I knew that I had to try to move back sooner rather than later. It was getting harder and harder to keep my focus in the present than on how and when I could find myself back home. I only became more convinced as time went on that I was doing the right thing by working towards a forever home here.
Fortunately, I was recently hired for the 2016-2017 school year at a district much closer to Ridgway. In fact,it’s within not-insane commuting distance meaning that things are back on track for eventually building a home on my property. I want to see how things go at my new school year and continue to improve my financial situation before I build but the wheels are definitely turning.
Next week is my last week in De Beque. I’ve had fun exploring and being located on I-70 was convenient but I’m overjoyed to be going back home.
This summer is definitely one of transition. I’ve acquired a summer job (that I’ve been working hard at over the last month already!) at a restaurant in Ridgway working towards some of those aforementioned financial goals. I’ll be splitting my time between my property, a friend’s place in Montrose, and the road (of course!).
Because I’m tied to Ridgway quite a bit with a job (no complaints here!) most of my adventures will be tied to Colorado which is just fine since my main summer goal is more progress towards (finishing? maybe?) the Colorado County Highpoint list (I’m currently at 70.3% and itching to get out and do more)!
School is almost out and I’m busily wrapping up my life in De Beque. I had a lovely year there but I miss home in Ridgway. I’ve been going down quite frequently this spring, working on some projects and I’ve also taken on a side job in a restaurant. In between everything, I’ve squeezed in a few runs that just make me smile SO MUCH.
A couple of weeks ago, we got to the property just as town was going into shadow but the Cimarrons were starting to get that gorgeous low angle light.
Sprocket even mostly forgave me for running past the river since I promised him he could climb Mt. Sneffles this summer (pictured just over his shoulder).
I mean, really:
And then the moon rose over the Cimarrons. The photo does not do any sort of justice to how gorgeous the full moon was coming over some of my favorite peaks.
Just as it started to get dark, we finished our run at Colorado Boy where no one seemed to think it was the least bit odd that I’d get to town on a Thursday, run, have a beer, and then go back to my little shed home.
I cannot wait for this summer. I’ve missed you so much, Ridgway.
April is sort of insane for teachers. As crazy as May is with the end of school fast approaching, I’ve always found April to be that kind of end of the year grind where you always seem to be behind and it seems like it’s never going to end. However, it doesn’t feel as dark and desperate as last year. It seems more like a temporary thing to push through and then the world opens up into the next thing instead of just being a whole bunch more question marks.
So in short, April has been busy, just like I knew it would, but I’m making it. I’m only a couple of weeks away from finishing my teaching program and only another couple of weeks away from school being over. It hasn’t been a particularly adventurous time for me but everything ebbs and flows I guess.
Basically, dear blog readers, I’m telling you that I haven’t forgotten about this blog. Life has just been busy in other areas and I’ve had to prioritize that lately. Summer will soon be here and although it doesn’t look to be as footloose as last year, there will be plenty of mountains coming your way soon.
It feels like I’m talking about running a lot but it’s something that I’ve been doing a significant amount of in the last month. Conditions in the hills are totally drying out and snow in the high peaks is consolidating so hopefully there will be less in between season frustrating hiking and more summiting in March. Even so, I didn’t sit idle in February!
Consistency wasn’t quite as on point in February as it was in January but I’m still pretty pleased with my efforts. My runs continued to grow in length and my weekly mileage was pretty solid other than one week (I don’t even remember what happened there…).
Running: 14 runs, 60 miles, 10.4 hours. This is about the same number of miles as January but in fewer runs and in less time! I think I’m making progress!
Cross-country skiing: Yikes! I didn’t get out to do this at all in February. I let a bit of summit fever get in the way. I’ve set a goal to go at least twice more before the snow is gone and I’m also reminding myself that my investment in the skis was long term not just for this year.
Yoga: 11 Yoga Camp sessions, 4.8 hours. This was a little lower than last month and I’d like to remedy it in March but when I find myself in a time crunch I’m going to side with cardio to get ready for mountains so we’ll see.
I’m so excited for #summitsummer 2016 to start. I think I’m ready this time.