Mom Came To Visit!

My mom decided that she wanted to see my house at the very beginning before coming back to see the finished product! I picked her up on a Tuesday afternoon and we had a lovely day shopping in Ouray, having lunch at Timberline Deli, and then taking a little jaunt up Yankee Boy Basin.

The next day, we drove up over Red Mountain Pass to Silverton. We made a stop at Ironton ghost town, at the pass and then at Mineral Creek on the way back north.

Back in Ridgway, we hung out at the shed for a bit before going to Colorado Boy for dinner. Mom got to meet so many Ridgway people!

The next day, we had to go up to Montrose to look at window colors and make a few other house like decisions. Once we got back, we relaxed for a bit, had dinner at Provisions, and then went to Ouray for the concert. The main band was awesome and we danced a lot. It was a great way to wrap up Mom’s trip to Ouray County!

When Parents Are There: My Dad & Baseball

Scrolling through my reader this morning, I clicked on a post titled “Sasha DiGiulian’s Mom on Why You Should Let Your Kids Take Big Risks”to see what sage advice Sasha DiGiulian‘s mom could share with moms like mine that worry about their daughters in the outdoors. (Plus, you all know I’m a sucker for posts about women kicking ass outdoors.) The article was great and Sasha’s mom was really cute. Then I read a quote that made me burst in to tears:

“Then, when you started lead climbing, I took the course so I could lead belay, and honestly, I loved it. I loved spending time with you, and I loved going to the climbing competitions with you.”

It’s early spring. This is the time of year I used to spend hanging out with my dad at the batting cages, going to take ground balls on any dry day, and staying up too late talking about the possibilities for my team (and probably the Seattle Mariners too).

Starting just after Christmas, a few days a week, I’d come home from school and my dad would take me to the batting cages. As my teammates would point out to me, I could drive and he would have given me money so I didn’t have to go with him but I liked to. I loved spending that time with my dad. Sometimes my sister would come, which was mostly great because we could rotate in and out of the cage with each other. It certainly wasn’t rare, though, she didn’t want to come choosing friends or television over some extra practice.

I remember a lot of him providing me feedback on my swing but I also remember riding down the hill from our house in his red pickup just talking.

I’m pretty sure more than once we made people laugh at Rainiers games when I was in high school. He’d almost always sit on my right and when we witnessed a gorgeous swing that resulted in a home run or a double we’d turn to each other—a righty and a lefty—and make our best impressions of that swing, exclaiming about how the contact was just right.

My dad and I: blue circle. Where the 3-run HR landed: Red circle. Dad always regretted not using his long arms to catch it for me. ♥

There were late April games at Cheney stadium that were so cold I wore snowpants and we carried blankets in; often with a beer or two rolled up in them.I remember Game 4 of the 1995 ALDS, standing on the left field bleachers so that 10 year old me could try to talk to my dad over the rock concert roar of the Kingdome as Edgar Martinez, my favorite player, proved to be the hero

Macklemore’s song “My Oh My” makes me cry each and every time from the moment that he sings

Bottom of the 11th inning got the whole town listening,
Swung on and belted the words that started, Joey Cora rounds third
Here comes Griffey the throw to the plate’s not in time
My oh my the Mariners win it

and I picture my dad chanting, “They’re never going to get Griffey, they’re never going to get Griffey.” 1995 is seared in my memory and family lore, it comes up at family holidays and events because we all have shared, intersecting memories because my Aunt Lori bought two seats that we shared and whoever wasn’t at the games would watch them at our house.

Mostly though, the line “And if mom wasn’t trippin’ come on dad please I swear just one more inning,” is what rings true along with the batting cages, ground balls, and thousands of whiffle ball pitches in the back yard.

Today is a gorgeous early spring day in Colorado. The sky is so so blue that it’s almost heartbreaking. It’s cold and there’s some snow on the ground but my time in Maine made me associate that with the start of softball. It won’t be long before baseball season starts here in Western Colorado for my high school students. The Mariners are down in Arizona getting ready for Opening Day. It’s been almost six years since I got to watch a baseball game with my dad and it’s days like today I miss them most of all.

Mt. Rainier National Park: Reflection Lake and Pinnacle Peak Trail

My sister and I had been scheming to get the boys out hiking during my trip home for months. When the day finally came around we had two of the three boys and got a much later start than we’d hoped but the webcams were showing absolutely gorgeous bluebird skies at Mount Rainier National Park so off we went.

Once we drove into the park, I woke up both boys from their naps so we could start looking at the views as we drove up to Reflection Lake. Will, the youngest, continually exclaimed “Look at the huge mountain!” This was not reserved for the grand dame, Rainier, but also bestowed on craggy Tatoosh Range peaks, and wooded unnamed peaks. His excitement was adorable and we all happily spilled out of the car and ate our sandwiches looking at Reflection Lake.

Reflection lake

Reflection lake

After a few photo opportunities, we headed up the Pinnacle Peak Trail. I never dreamed we’d make it to the saddle (okay, I dreamed about getting there and then ditching Emily and Kevin with the kids while I summited) but I was so impressed with the boys for making it almost a mile up the trail. 3 year old Will lead the charge up the hill on his first hike ever!

Heading up the trail

Will on the trail

Trail

Rainier mostly was out of the clouds for us and it was pretty hard to not just stare instead of climbing. Thankfully, our whole (tired) way down, she was in our faces.

Lady Rainier

I waved at Pinnacle putting it aside for another day with different goals. Today was about being outside with family.

Pinnacle Peak

Hiking with my nephew

Kevin Jr. and I even got in some bonus “scrambling” while we waited for his younger brother to descend the trail.

Beth and Junior

After the hike, we headed to Paradise for a quick swing through the visitor center and gift shop. Settled back in the car, it was clear that all five of us had enjoyed our day. There was hand holding hiking, exclamations of joy, and laughter disproportionate to our less than two miles traveled.

Hiking with nephews

 

Happy Birthday, Nons

Dear readers,

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.

Nons and Beth

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.

-Beth

On The Page: A is For Adventure

If there is anything I want to come to mind for my nephews when they think of Aunty Beth is adventure followed by books and baseball. The oldest, Andrew, is definitely on that track—I’m pretty sure he’s agree the best Aunty-Drew Boo day is driving in the jeep to go hiking, getting ice cream on the way home and snuggling with Sprocket while reading a book. (Is that kid the best or what???) The younger two, Junior and Will, are still feeling out what it means to hang out with Aunty Beth but I think we got a good start over Christmas when we went sledding.

A is For Adventure

While at OR Show in January, I met Jan Sebastian LaPierre and Chris Surette. Jan and Chris’s company, A is For Adventure, is a media company that aims to get people outside. Jan is also the author of the company’s flagship book A Is For Adventure

A is For Adventure

Fortunately, the guys were happy to provide me with a review copy of this charming alphabet book. I read it and was delighted at each page, the illustrations by Christopher Hoyt were engaging and I loved their letter choices! After that though, I packaged it up and sent it off to my children’s goods product testers up in Washington.

Junior and Will
And they’re cuddled under the quilt I made!

My sister was kind enough to take some notes and pass them along to me. The boys really liked the book and it made them curious about a bunch of new activities (I wish I was there to take them to try some of them!). She did mention that it gets a little bit long and that it taxes the attention span of Junior (kindergarten) although he makes it through. With Will (3 1/2) she just shortens it to “A is for Adventure, B is for …”

A is for Adventure

It’d be a fun challenge for a family to make a list or chart of the activities in the book and to start trying some different ones so kids could get a feel for what interests them. Hiking is my go-to with the boys because it’s pretty low investment but it would be fun, especially as they get a little older to branch out into some other activities with them. I also think it’s really fun that some of the letters (A is for Adventure, G is for Going, E is for Exploring, G is for Going) aren’t activities so much as frames of mind.

A Is For Adventure
I kind of want a print of this for me. And for every little kid I know.

I loved A Is For Adventure and fortunately Will and Junior concurred, mostly by wanting to get out and try new things! I loved the illustrations and can’t wait to go visit the boys so we can pick an new activity to try together.

A Is For Adventure was provided to 3Up Adventures for review (and sharing with my nephew). All opinions about the book are mine and my sisters’s.

Tacoma at Christmas: Sledding at Snoqualmie Pass

The day after Christmas, my sister and I decided to take all three of the boys up to Snoqualimie Pass to play in the snow. She said that Will and Kevin (the middle one and the little) didn’t really remember snow so we figured they’d like some sledding and playing in the fluffy white stuff.

They were a little rambunctious on the ride up (Will’s face just says it all about his older brothers…) but they were super excited when we hit snowline just outside of North Bend.

Nephews

Kevin (aka Junior)’s excited face selfie:

Junior

I kind of sent the two older boys to the first pile of snow I saw and they promptly lost gloves and got buried in waste deep powder. Fortunately, Junior was wearing my GoPro and captured some of the carnage.

GoPro

Will and Aunty Beth

The sledding hill that was going on was a little bit intense. There was a giant bump in the middle that none of the adults appeared interested in addressing. Andrew and Junior both tried it a couple of times and then they were pretty done with it.

Digging

Andrew made friends with another little boy who had a shovel and he proceeded to spend the rest of his time in the snow making tunnels and forts.

Junior and Andrew

Will

Junior mostly belly crawled around in the powdery snow.

Brothers

Digging

Will wasn’t totally sure about this whole snow thing but eventually he figured out that being pulled around in the sled was kind of fun.

Aunty Beth and Will

Eating snow

Sledding

Junior

We left with a very tired crew of boys who wrapped up the fun with some “Mick and Donalds” and headed back to Tacoma!

Tacoma at Christmas: Ice Skating

I landed in Seattle late on Tuesday night and got up on Wednesday morning and immediately launched into holiday festivities! My oldest nephew, Andrew, my mom, and I went to downtown Tacoma with my aunt and my cousin’s daughters. I had fun snapping photos of everyone (although a few turned out blurry they’re here anyway for fun), accepting my mom’s challenge to skate backwards, and scooping Andrew up off the ice.

Andrew ice skating

Eight year old boys will stick out their tongues in EVERY PHOTO if you’re not fast with the candid…

Andrew ice skating

Andrew missed the memo to wear pink:

Cousin ice skating

My mother, aka “Suzie Snowflake,” even got into the fun:

Mom and Beth

Aunty Beth and Andrew

After ice skating, we grabbed pizza at Elemental Pizza before heading home.

Cousins

364 Days To Go

I am lucky to have a large extended family that still gathers each and every Christmas. Christmas in Tacoma, for me, spans two full days. Christmas Eve kicks off with me heading to pick up oysters for our appetizers that night (I took over this role after my dad died) and then that afternoon and evening are spent at my mom’s mother’s house celebrating with Norwegian Christmas cookies, appetizers, board games, performances, a Santa visit, and more presents. The next morning, it’s time for Christmas morning. The past two years, Mom and I have done stockings and then my sister and her family have joined us for exchanging gifts. After that, the fun is still not over and it’s time to head to my dad’s brother’s house for the Lakin edition of Christmas: more food, cards (mostly 500!), and another gift exchange.

When I was growing up, we’d get home from our Christmas Day celebration and my dad would lay out all the presents on the couches in our living room: mine would be on one couch, Emily’s on the other, Mom’s and Dad’s under the tree. As a family we’d sit, exhaling a bit after the busy two days, and each and every year, Dad would remark, “We’re all so lucky to have such a loving family. I think this was the best Christmas ever.”

This song, Brad Paisley’s 364 Days To Go, always makes me think of this moment and more often than not, it makes me cry.

I’m so lucky to have such a loving family.

Opt Out, or At Least #OptOutside

I love Christmas. I love Christmas gifts When I was about eight years old, I’d start making my Christmas list right around Halloween and it included every single one of my family members—not just my parents and my sister but my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and all my cousins. I know I made a wish list for myself but the focus of my holiday excitement was largely on giving gifts to people. My mom, in contrast to me, hates Christmas shopping. She taught me how to make gingerbread houses, the importance of hiding cords to make decorations look polished, and that it’s okay to proudly sing Christmas songs with a less than perfect singing voice. This leads her to procrastinate on her shopping and all of my best efforts to explain that waiting makes it worse have never helped. Perhaps that’s because I think my dad secretly liked going to the mall in the final days before Christmas; he was always adding silly Santa gifts for his siblings to the shopping list and used to take my sister and I out on a shopping trip specifically to pick things out for mom that included lunch.

Will with coat

 

In this way, living in a van was really hard for me. It wasn’t particularly feasible to be in the northwest for Christmas when the southwest was where the warm weather was. I didn’t have a shipping address and bowed out of family gift exchanges. Although I decorated the best I could, it wasn’t the same as having a Christmas tree and baking cookies, and checking all the nice people off my list one by one. I missed putting thought into the perfect gift for people.

But, despite the fact that I really do love Christmas shopping, I don’t shop on Black Friday. When I was growing up, Black Friday was for singing “Bringing in the Boxes” as I trekked back and forth between the house and the garage carrying box after box of Christmas decorations in. (As embarrassing as this sounds, I embraced it and even had a friend join me a year or two in high school and made her sing the song. Maryanne was such a good sport.) I spent most of the day outside with my dad learning “everything I know about exterior illumination.” In the evening, we’d decorate the pieces of our gingerbread houses. Getting up early for Black Friday sales to miss out on that fun? No way. Besides, we usually stayed up until midnight watching It’s A Wonderful Life as a family once we got back from Thanksgiving celebrations.

Honestly, usually, I’m close to done with my Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving. I like to spread out my spending and take the time to pick out really great things for my family and friends. (Ahem, Lakin family? I’m still waiting for a 4th of July name draw…) Since I’m not part of the Black Friday culture it’s always been easy to look at the stampedes and the rampant commercialism and think, “Really? That’s what our holidays are about?”

This week REI announced that they would be closing their stores on Black Friday. Employees (who are recieving paid vacation) and would-be customers are instead encouraged to spend time with their families and opt out of the buying frenzy hopefully by choosing to #OptOutside.

IMG_6524

This BLEW UP in the outdoor social media world. I couldn’t get on Facebook or Twitter without seeing #OptOutside. I joined the chorus, my plans already included exploring and being outside with Sprocket on Black Friday.*  And yesterday, the announcement came from Outdoor Research that they too would be closing its retail store and distribution centers the day after Thanksgiving piggybacking on REI’s announcement.

This warms my outside loving, anti-consumerism, gift giving heart. Because, let’s be real, most people aren’t hankering for a door buster on a cashmere sweater for Christmas. A generic gift determined by what’s on sale on Black Friday is unlikely to brighten anyone’s holiday. A simpler, less extravagant gift that builds on a hobby, passion, or dream of your loved one is much more likely to tell that person what you’re really say with the gift: “I care about you.”

Training for the New Alpinism

Choosing to shift from a mad buying frenzy on Black Friday to more reasoned, thoughtful gift-giving opens up time for being with your family. Maybe you’d like to spend that time decorating for Christmas like I did when I was growing up (or use it to go get a Christmas tree outside!). Maybe you’ll be like Sprocket and I this year exploring a new place. Maybe you’ll grab your partner or children or a cousin and get outside like my cousin and I did the day after Christmas last year or like Andrew and I did a couple of days later. Creating memories with your family gives you time to get to know them which makes for more satisfying gift giving (and receiving!).

Hiking with Andrew

How are you keeping up the holiday cheer by opting out (or at least controlling!) the amount of commercialism involved?

 

 

*Last year, I ran all over Connecticut and New York being outside before a wedding! Clearly this is normal for me…

Tacoma: Summer 2015

My trip to Tacoma was pretty brief but I managed to cram a whole lot in to a few days! After spending Sunday at the Rainiers, hiking in the Olympics on Monday, and a quiet Tuesday working on some projects at my mom’s house, Mom and I headed out Wednesday morning for an adventure: kayaking on the Thea Foss Waterway!

We’d gone kayaking a couple of times when I was a little kid and my mom wanted to share that experience with my nephew Andrew. She was a little worried about how much she’d be able to handle paddling the kayak so she recruited me for a practice run in a two man kayak. My job was to be a lazy paddler and see how it was for her to handle it for both of us and then to step up and paddle us back when she got tired. I was definitely up for some fun on the water in the sun and we headed down to the waterfront.

Murray Morgan Bridge

It’s been a long time since I was in a kayak and it took some time to figure out how to make it go in a straight line. Fortunately, the waterway was pretty quiet that morning so we didn’t have too much to dodge or worry about. This is my skeptical face about Mom powering the kayak on her own:

Kayaking with mom

I got a little wet but I was pretty impressed with how quickly my PFG pants dried out (review!).

Columbia Sportswear PFG

It really was a glorious day on the water. It’s not very often that I get a chance to look back on cities from the water and it really is the best. Tacoma has done so much work in the last 15 years to clean up downtown and it fairly sparkles from the water.

Murray Morgan Bridge

Beth and Mom

After our adventure, we had lunch at The Fish Peddler before taking a walk down at Point Ruston.

Lunch

Point Ruston

Our next stop was picking Andrew up at school! The one thing he asks for every time he sees me (and sometimes he calls me in Colorado) is to ask if we can go hiking. His excitement means that I make a very specific effort to get him outside when we’re together.

Hiking with Andrew

Hiking with Andrew

I think he’s learned that he can ask Aunty Beth all sorts of questions about how the canyon is made, what ants eat, and why there were no fish this time. We talked about what erosion is, what homo sapiens are, and how the decimals on the GPS watch I let him wear are just like dollars and cents (I guess that’s the only way that third graders see decimals!).

Wildflowers

Hiking Andrew

Hiking Andrew

Hiking Andrew

For the very first time, we reached the end of the trail. Instead of hiking out and calling my mom to pick us up, we continued up the canyon off trail. Andrew was totally tickled that we were able to scramble up to a road and then walk the rest of the way to Nana’s house to surprise her!

Hiking Andrew

Hiking Andrew

It might not be a high peak, but hiking with this little boy always makes me super happy:

Hiking Andrew

Sunset Tacoma