Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Some pictures for your enjoyment

After my run (yes, if you read my previous entry, it DID happen!) I grabbed my camera and walked out to the Roosevelt Arch to take some pictures.

I encountered some "friends" along the way:

the second shot is a little hard to see, but in order - there is a chipmunk, and elk, and a rabbit.

Sunset was supposed to be at 9 PM, but with the mountains framing the sun I knew I needed to get there earlier.

There was a little blurb about Electric Peak, which is where a few of the webcams I've been watching all spring are located - (How is my position?)

Another camera faces the Roosevelt Arch

...and here are my many shots of the Arch...
Front side:

From the Arch - sunset and my running path:

Sunset through the Arch:

The entrance where the webcams are located:

Inside the Arch:

My Acadiana and ICT flag pins๐Ÿ’•:

Where the Buffalo Roam... really

I made it to Gardiner, MT this morning.  I hopped aboard a manual transmission bus that looked straight out of the 70's...

Really -

With a little flag action included!

I tried to get a shot of the flags in front of the YNP sign too, but i'm still a novice and I don't have a manual adjustment camera...
So here's my result -

Oh well!

Right behind that sign is Roosevelt tower.  I decided on a running path that would take me by there, but by the time I was all ready to run the rain had started!  Boo.  Tried again a few hours later, only to be rained out AGAIN!  Sunset is soon upon the town, so I may try one last time.  If I can't get it in tonight, I'll have to wake up crazy early and run it tomorrow.  Ug.  I JUST LOVE RUNNING. (sarcasm) It's currently just past 7:00 PM, sunset is 9:00 PM.  Here's hoping!

I started a physical journal today too.  Since internet access will most likely be sparse in the park, I'm going to try to write in that daily.  I've never been good at it, but if I can manage to write daily then my online blog will most likely get loooong as it covers multiple days!

Catch you on the flip side!

one more step

I'm here.  Sort of.  After over 36 hours of riding/waiting, I'm here in Bozeman, MT for the night.  Tomorrow morning I catch a shuttle to Gardiner, MT, and Wednesday morning I officially check in and start my new job.

Have you ever traveled via Greyhound? This has been my third long distance "move" via this form of transportation, and overall the best experience yet.

Aside from having to start my journey at 1:45 am from downtown Wichita - just in time to catch the dregs of saturday night society - and having to sit with my 30 lb backpack on my lap from Salina, KS to Denver, CO (which, to be completely honest wasn't THAT bad), this trip was lovely.  My seat buddy headed to Denver livened up just as we pulled into the city.  He was headed just past there to pick peaches in Palisade, CO.  He has been picking peaches and cherries in Colorado for around 30 years!  He told me that he took a small break to work in the oil industry, but ultimately the money in migratory farming is much better.  Crazy, huh?

From there on out, I always had a row to myself.  This meant sleep, however sporadic it may have been.  The buses are usually outfitted with wifi, but it's not strong enough for streaming.  I discovered this as I rode for over 3 days from Connecticut to Kansas last summer.  This time around I was equipped with a thumb drive containing 3 movies and a musical.  The combination of movie and vehicular movement proved too much for me... I know each time I put on a movie I got at least an hour, if not nearly 2, of sleep!

In Buffalo, WY I transferred what seems to be a subcontracted line to Greyhound - Jefferson line.  Holy cow these people are nice!  My trip was scheduled for a 12 hour layover in Billings, MT.  I was deposited at around 1:00 AM, and my next connector was scheduled to leave at 1:00 PM.  What in the world was I supposed to do? Sleep.  Yep, the station (as I found out from the employee the next day) stays open if their customers need a place to crash due to the schedule.  They had a carpeted "kid's zone" so I headed over there and used my purse for a pillow.  Shortly after I started to fall asleep, my body temp started to lower, as it does during slumber, and I started shivering.  Next thing I know, there's a blanket on me!  Another layover buddy who couldn't sleep had noticed me shaking and let me borrow his blanket.  Three or four hours later, I woke up to Fox news and a room full of people.  my buddy was gone, I guess he had gone adventuring, so I folded up his blanket and set it by his bags.  I set up a little area by a plug in and tried to figure out how I would spend my remaining 7 hours.

I decided to finish watching the movies I had previously fallen asleep during.  Aided by coffee of course.  I brushed my teeth.  I bought a cookie from the vending machine.  I chatted with the employee.  Soon, my buddy - who's name is Jesse - comes back and hands me a Burger King bag.  He had bought me breakfast!  I honestly hadn't even thought about hunger, but it was definitely wanted!  He said something about good deeds and paying it forward, and I was grateful.  Belly full, I continued watching my thumb drive movies.  Around 11:00, just before a drop off, Jesse came over to me and offered me a stuffed animal that he had one in one of those silly grab machines that just steals money.  He was going to wander around again while waiting for his 9:00 PM bus.  This was the last I saw of my Billings buddy, but I've got a neat plush dino to remind me of him!

Last bus included a kid wearing a K-State beanie.  I finally had a chance to mention that I was from there as well as we were dropped off.  Who knows if I'll see him again.  I have a feeling he's working in the park, but since there are so many locations and we didn't talk much, I may never know!

So, I got to my hotel just before 4 PM.  Got myself all checked in and went to explore the hotel.  It's a nice one!  Thought about going for a run, but decided to shower instead.  Three days of stank kind of made that choice the obvious one.  The bar in the hotel opened while I was cleaning up, so afterward I headed down for a local brew and dinner.  Good stuff!  However, after 1 1/2 beers and a giant burger, fatigue set in and I passed out for a serious moment.  And then of course woke up around midnight.

And now here I am.

I really am nervous for tomorrow, for Wednesday, for the rest of the week.  We'll see.  I hope to update again after I get into the park and settled in my dorm, but I'm not certain of the internet service yet.

Wish me luck!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Something from here, something from there.

A few quick thoughts on packing, packing lite, what to pack, what not to pack, and what I just can't live without.

I've learned to live with a little.  And if I have a lot, most of it will end up being left behind anyway.  Now, sometimes this is a good thing -
~Old clothes that I left behind because they didn't fit, only to find years later that they fit again.
~Music, in various forms, long forgotten that lead to 'lost' days sitting around listening and remembering.
~Old bags left when a new one was purchased, and then loved and used again a decade later.
~An old camera found with old images stored that evoked sad emotion, but now useful for it's size and capability.

As I may have mentioned, I'm travelling via Greyhound Bus from my current hometown in Wichita, KS up to Yellowstone National Park for work this summer.  I've decided that I will be taking a large military style duffel, a backpack, and my ukulele.  I had similar baggage for my bus trip last summer from CT to KS, so this should work out fine.  I have lists, and have packed, re-packed, and re-packed again.  I keep trying to imagine what the 12 hour layover from midnight to noon toward the end of my trip will be like if I have a heavy load, and which is more important: bringing stuff, or walking with that stuff comfortably throughout the evening/morning.

There are some things I know I can get there if I need - camping gear mostly - but the frivolous things I can do without aren't that heavy!  I know I need MY running shoes, and my good hiking shoes, and my Tevas.  My running shoes can double as work shoes, unless I'll be handling a lot of food, in which case, I'll need different work shoes.  Which I can get elsewhere... I hope! That's mostly what is taking up the space.  Dang shoes!

And then there are things I want to take that I don't need, but also don't take up space.  I'll be taking a small digital camera with me for hiking pictures and two pins: one Acadiana flag and one Wichita flag.

I hope to have the chance to place these in photographs for the purpose of size/perspective shots and for representation.  I wanted to bring along something that represented Lafayette/Acadiana as well as Wichita, since I've spent most of my adult life there.  It's like I have dual city citizenship!

Thankfully, a dear friend volunteered to mail me the Louisiana pin, and sent me an actual flag as well!  Luckily, it packs well.  It'll be flying proudly over my dorm room in YNP this summer.

I leave in 8 days.

Can you guess how nervous/excited I am getting every single day?!?!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The reality of age

This week I've had some... shall we say "extra"... time at work.  When I have this time, my mind tends to wander and I become completely involved in a daydream. When I finally snap out of it I can never remember what in the world could have been so fanciful that made me waste so much time, then I proceed to look up the same things I always do on the computer.  (Right now it's mostly Yellowstone related stuff.)  However, this week is a bit different.  I have a lot of this type of time on my hands and I am finally starting to feel creative again.  It has been a good minute or two since I've written anything original.  I started a song last summer after I was kicked off of the Whaler, but depression set in, blah blah blah, I never finished it.

Today I decided to look up some writing prompts.  Part of me hopes that wherever I'm placed at in YNP doesn't have good wifi so that I can remember to read instead of watch Netflix or HBO, or use these prompts to write, or actually follow through on my plan to keep a nature journal.  I have always indicated that I am not a visual artist in any sense of the word, (I can barely draw stick people,) but it turns out that I don't need to be.  I can attempt to sketch whatever it is I'm observing, but I can also use the skills I do possess of words to paint my picture.  Guess I'll need to brush up on my descriptive words!

With all this said, one particular writing prompt from this site I chose today is called "the Vessel."

"3. The Vessel:Write about a ship or other vehicle that can take you somewhere different from where you are now."

Well, maybe this one kind of jumped out at me.  

You see, one of the things that terrifies me is losing the memory of things I've done.  I already know that it's becoming difficult for me to remember all the knots I learned last summer.  So following this prompt would hopefully ignite those memories and possibly create a happier ending than the one that happened in real life.

And what is more, a dear couple to me has decided to up and sell their possessions - house, furniture, 90% of their belongings - and buy a boat to live/work on.  So all my nautical memories are coming back when thinking of their future.

My mind is swimming with book ideas.

Oh the possibilites of time.

I titled this entry the way I did, because the truth is that it IS difficult for me to write in fantasy anymore.  My writing tends to be realistic and very depressing.  I do not want that.  I am here and now setting a goal to write more positively.  Particularly for this prompt.  Maybe my scary nautical story will come, but my first nautical story will be a pleasant one.

If you would like some prompts...

Monday, May 8, 2017

The best HIGH in the Universe... (so far)

All of the talking, training, mental toughness, sickness, injuries, and more would mean nothing if I didn't run - and finish - my marathon.


That look right there is the culmination of months of trying, a little failing, a little flailing, and a lot of pushing myself to do something that I never imagined I would be able to.  When they told me I couldn't run after my knee surgery, I did.  When I thought I wouldn't be able to get out of bed, I did.  When I wasn't able to run even 2 miles, I did.  

And here I am now, crossing the finish line after steadily running for 26.2 MILES.  That's like running across the city of Wichita!  Sort of.  

It was a tough day.  The wind was cold, and we were battling intermittent rain/sleet and jumping puddles and debris that had accumulated the evening before.  I found a buddy to run with, and we stayed together the entire run.  We were able to push each other, and keep each other from pushing too hard as well.  

You see, distance running is not about going as fast as you can, it's about never stopping, keeping up a steady pace, so that when you get to the end you still have enough muscle use and energy to cross.  I knew, thanks to my training, that I did have that.  What I did not count on, was my mental status.  At mile 20 I could feel the tears coming.  It was getting more difficult to think of anything that did not make me cry.  The difficulty level of 2016.  Learning to accept my challenges and work WITH them, not AGAINST them.  Losing my best friend.  I just had to remind myself that I needed to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

And I did just that.

At mile 23/24, somewhere around there, my mother (who had just finished her half marathon) showed up to give me a last leg boost.  While it worked, it also triggered that last string of sanity I had been holding on to.  When I rounded the last turn and saw the finish line, I kicked in for my sprint and the tears came freely.  As I raised my hands in victory, crossing the finish line, I was sobbing.  Every emotion I had in every inch of my aching body was unleashed upon the unsuspecting bystanders and organizers.  

So that is why my finisher picture is important to me.

I got some nice hardware for my efforts too. ๐Ÿ˜

Even though I could barely walk the next day and didn't go to work, I definately wore that "finisher" shirt with as much pride as I have ever had.  The euphoric feeling lasted nearly all week!!  All that from just a runner's high!

Here's my Mama and me at the race expo the day before our runs...

There's no way in the world I would have been able to do this alone.  A week after my run, the bulk of my training friends were running in our hometown race series half marathon.  I was thrilled to be able to be there to cheer them on!

The last few weeks leading up to the race have been pretty action packed too.  My attempt at breaking into the Wichita theatre scene, while unsuccessful at getting onstage, have been fruitful in getting my name in with a company as a reliable person.  

I was asked to help out with some props for the Forum Theatre Wichita's production of "Boeing! Boeing!"  The show was hilarious, AND I was able to make some really great connections through this show!

Here are some bags I spiffed up a bit:
I'm not always the best at straight lines, so I'm pretty proud of that work!

And so, the conclusion of April and the beginning of May have brought some pretty amazing accomplishments for me.  Getting stronger mentally, physically, and realizing that being strong emotionally doesn't mean NOT being weak.

This is now the last week of school for me and my tutoring students.  I'm not sure that I will be working with this program again, but it has been a good year for me at this job.  

This coming weekend is the big show my band has been prepping for.  We have two more practices and then boom!  Make it or break it!  I know that we have the ability, but I tend to be a perfectionist.  Maybe I'll try to do some extra relaxing things to clear my mind before the show.  No time like the present to practice mindfulness!