Spring Break 2017: Moab, Utah

2017 has been more of the crazy busy that 2016 was. I did take off some time recently to hike Mt. Peale and Black Mesa but other than that, I’ve been head down working hard on making a house happen (and on that front, I’m waiting around on an “as built” appraisal right now…).

Last fall, my friend Kelly moved to California and left her van at my place until she could figure out how to get it moved out there with her. I volunteered to drive it out over Spring Break. My roommate, Katherine, was starting her break in Moab so I joined her and her friends for a couple of days.

On my way out to Moab from Ridgway, I discovered, when I was pulled over in Norwood, that the tags on the van were expired. This lead to some handwringing between Kelly and I as we tried to figure out what our best course of action was. Since the courthouse in Ouray was closed on Fridays, we decided I should just go for it and we’d deal with potential tickets when and if they came. Because of this delay, I reached Moab a little bit later than I’d hoped but it was Thursday night and I had more than a week of freedom ahead of me.

We’d hoped to get permits to hike Arches National Park‘s Fiery Furnace on Friday morning but alas, all of the permits were gone until Sunday but I’d need to head west before that. Since Katherine’s friend Brittney had never been to the park we hiked to Delicate Arch and then out to Sand Dune Arch. The weather was windy and cold so it wasn’t until we got out to Sand Dune Arch that I finally started to feel like it was break. Scrambling around sandstone makes me grin like a fool and that really helped kick off some vacation!

 

I mentioned that I really wanted to go to Back of Beyond Books and Katherine wanted to go to Gear Trader. Out of character for all of us, we went shopping. Much to Katherine’s surprise, I spent money: I bought books, a (super sweet) hat, and a new MSR pot since mine seems to have disappeared. The sun came out and the weather warmed up so walking around town felt awesome. Once we were done shopping, we started floating ideas about where to go next. I suggested Cable Arch but that wasn’t getting much response. Katherine suggested visiting Castle Valley so I suggested that we go out there and taste wine at Castle Creek. We caravaned out of town, pausing to get water at Matrimony Spring, and headed for the winery.

Tasting at Castle Creek is only $1 for 4 tastes (thanks Utah law, you can only do 4 tastes but if you plan with your friends you can taste them all). Since we’d stopped at Red Rocks, we visited the Utah Museum of Film and Western Heritage. I’d never stopped before but was pretty fascinated with all of the movies and commercials that had been filmed out there! I knew about a lot of them but there were several that were total surprises!

Back in Moab, we grabbed dinner at The Spoke and then headed to the brewery to pick up some beer and have a pint before heading back to camp. The blustery weather had returned so we were happy to not have to return to camp yet. It seemed to be outdoors social media weekend in Moab so I was able to finally meet Dave W. and catch up with Mike R.

After a couple of beers we headed back to camp, where much wine and beer were drunk and campfire smoke inhaled and we all headed off to sleep. It poured overnight making getting the van out of our sandy camp spot somewhat interesting but it was time for me to be heading off towards California!

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.

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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…

Grocery Outlet Madness

Yesterday after work F and I headed over to Spokane to do some shopping. The basic mission was to grab as much non-perishable/deep cold resistant food as we could so we don’t have to snowmobile/hike it in this winter. (Also, if the heavy canned stuff is already there we have more room for bread, butter, and other yummies.) And we decided we should also buy some more for the house since we were there.

I am sad I didn’t have my camera in Grocery Outlet. We filled two carts. It was absolutely ridiculous. We also followed up with a Walmart run for things that weren’t a great deal at Grocery Outlet (mostly instant oatmeal).

Then we went to Petco and bought Sprocket 5 bags of food. The spoiled pup gets Purina Pro Plan and we can’t find that in the Silver Valley so we try to stock up. (He used to get even fancier grain free food…but it didn’t agree very well with his digestive tract.) The end result of this being that Sprocket is prepared for winter too.

This picture does not fully represent the amount of FOOD we hauled into the house.

P.S. SP also got a Santa hat at Petco. SO CUTE.