Adventure Awaits!

When the rep walked up to the house we were about to turn back over to the military housing company, I bristled at her container of Lysol wipes. The wipes wouldn’t have been a big deal, but paired with her attitude, I got a little defensive. I get that they have to make sure the homes are properly cleaned, but….seriously? We’ve spent the last three days cleaning behind the movers that were not only late, but short handed. (She had also done a pre-move inspection so she already knew our house was in great shape.)

Through the process, she test cleaned various spots through the kitchen, re-wiping down the inside of the dishwasher, refrigerator and every drawer in the kitchen. She checked every window, every blind, every sill. In all of our base housing experiences – we’ve never had someone this persnickety. We passed with flying colors, but I did have to have a mental chat with myself to not say something through the process. (For the record, the house was cleaner now than it was when we moved in. I resisted the urge to comment on that out loud.)

With that done and keys handed over, we drove away from our very last base house. This was the last chapter of active duty military life left to close. I exhaled as we drove away, the reality sinking in. Eric and I did a little giddy car dance/high five as we drove back to the kids to pack up.

We. are. done.

No more moving every three years (unless we want to), no more being told where to move, and no more short(er) term planning. We can stay put for as long as we want!

THIS IS EXCITING!

It was a stunning day in the PNW. Definitely another one of those sunny days that fool people into moving there just in time to experience months of Fall/Winter/2nd Winter/Almost Spring. After a visit and hugs with the parentals, we hit the road to Seattle so we didn’t have to get up as early for their flight. Eric took the 2-legged minions to SoCal, and I am on the road with the 4-legged ones! I love road trips and it’s been nearly 3 years since we’ve been anywhere – mostly due to Covid. Seattle traffic was great practice for the 8 lanes of I-5 in my future! Have I mentioned that I am alone? For the first time in about 6 or maybe 7 years?! Mind blowing. I have been looking forward to this trip for weeks! I definitely crave alone time; to read, to listen to music, to write, to think, and to just be.

After getting them all set for their flight, the doggos and I headed south with the tunes playing and yes, lots of singing all the things, stops for coffee and eats (when it was finally open), and even a DOG PARK!

Hello Oregon!

About 5 minutes after arriving in Portland, I missed the turn to stay on I5, and took a scenic detour over another giant bridge in Portland that made my tummy squeemy. (I’m not so great with heights + freeway speeds. For some reason I will visualize driving off the bridge and falling to my doom. Yes, I do in fact have an overactive imagination.) I later learned Squeemy Bridge’s actual name is Fremont Bridge. I would post a pic, but I couldn’t take one for the white knuckles and aforementioned imaginings of plummeting to my death. You can google it. (And likely be unimpressed as the photos do not do the height justice. At all.)

Back on the correct freeway, we moseyed our way down to look for the Starbucks’ Oregon mug that was out of stock at every location on our move up from San Diego in 2019. It only took 3 stops to find the coveted mug – mission accomplished!

We made it to Grant’s Pass the first day, and it was HOT. Heat advisory 100 degrees hot. It’s been a minute since we’ve been in this kind of heat. We are now comfortably tucked into our well-air conditioned hotel room for the night and ready for tomorrow’s adventures!

I can’t wait!

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Rejuvenation

“There is magic in the presence of trees,” I mused, inhaling the damp freshness surrounding us. Walking in our rain boots through the lush forest, my daughter happily chatting to her art teacher, I took as many mental images as my senses could hold. I left my phone back in the car when we pulled up (silly me).

This teacher is more than a teacher to Hannah – she’s her FAVORITE. “Mom! Mrs. O’Connor has a real studio!” she exclaimed at the beginning of her first art class last year. “She’s a teacher AND a REAL artist!” We were able to see her work in a local art show last fall and she graciously invited Hannah to come see her studio. To say that Hannah was excited was an understatement.

After the studio tour, Mrs. O’Connor took us all around her lovely space, surrounded by acres of forest land. (Half way through our walk, we stopped and grabbed our cameras!) Having lived here for a few decades, she can imagine living no where else – and it’s clear to see why! It really was a slice of heaven – and a rejuvenating day spent captivated by Mother Nature’s spell.

Teachers: never doubt the impact you have on your students. Read that again: Please do not doubt that you are impacting your students in ways you may never know. (Seriously the last couple of years – whew!) From this mama to one very special art teacher – I thank you especially for taking the time and sharing your gifts. You are a treasure!

Deep Images….with Jack Handy

You know that SNL sketch where the verbiage of a “deep thought” with the Jack Handy voice over lays out a bunch of nonsense? That plays out in my brain in real life whenever I am on a solo bike ride or run or walk with the dogs. I think my best deep thoughts while in my head doing physical activity – a sort of moving mediation. More often than not much of it is gibberish and/or forgotten once off the trail.

In an effort to recapture some of the thoughts, I brought my phone along and captured some images. I took about a bazillion photos and since this isn’t an amateur photography blog nor a living room where people are subjected to torturous hours of viewing Aunt Linda’s vacation slides, I will spare you all of them. Still, there are a lot of photos, so you are forewarned. Just know that I did make an effort to not include them all to bore you endlessly. **(Although, if you are reading this within a week or two of it being published, you have nothing better to do because you are quarantined with your family and need an escape. You. are. welcome.)

To change up our routine, I walked with Hippo solo today while the hubby took care of the littles. If you are new the blog – we have three dogs. (Correction: we have two dogs and a Hippo (the middle photo) and if you knew him you’d understand.)

The Hippo is a giant goober. I love him to pieces. Today was the first time he’d walked a long walk with me since his 2 knee replacement surgeries over a year ago. (He’s now Titanium Hippo!) We took it nice and slow and sniffed all the things and ate lots of clumps of freshly mown grass despite the fact that I told him not to. He pretended not to hear me.

“What? Did you say something? I was busy sniffing.” Uh. huh.

Walking or running around this area one must always be on the lookout for deer (there are tons!) or eagles (they fly all around and low!) and even whales have been spotted in our little inlet (haven’t seen them myself but I keep trying)! We didn’t see any eagles, but did see tons of seagulls and this guy:

He flew right over our heads and it was AMAZING. After looking it up (because president of the Audubon society I am not) I learned that he is a Great Blue Heron. Super common apparently. What is not common is to be ready with the camera at the same time as the launch of a flyover. Nature and wild life are amazing and I always come away grateful for the universe winks.

We saw (and smelled) loads of evidence of spring. The colors were vibrant and gorgeous and the cloudy day made for nice photography. I love seeing little flowers and daffodils and the Indian paintbrush native to this area bloom. Spring is always the season of hope, and this year the need for it is amplified.

Maylor Point trail is stunning and a quick escape from my house while ensuring social distancing. From my doorstep, down the trail and back was 4.5 miles of nature and solitude for which my heart and head were in desperate need.

Dog photography is not for the faint of heart. I don’t carry treats much (mostly because I forget) so I have to be quick when the shot presents itself! Luckily today Hippo was (mostly) cooperative. Except for that one selfie, which made me giggle because SQUIRREL.

I love playing with filters, color, and black and white photography. Partly because of the COVID19 quarantine, and due to the weather, it is eerily quiet. The old buildings, rundown tennis court, and not-oft used recreation areas on the military base make for great apocolyptic-esque subjects.

What an accurate photo for our current slower pace of life. We actually have SO. MUCH. TIME. Quarantine or not, it’s the same 24 hours each day. What we do with those hours makes all the difference.

There is a large number of deer that roam this little peninsula. The come out like clockwork and while not tame, are very used to people. They nibble and watch us take photos of them, probably wondering why we are so odd. Hippo still thinks they smell weird and would love to investigate further, but they are bigger than him so he is secretly glad I make him stay on leash.

For the folks who have never been to the Puget Sound, this would constitute a “beach”, albeit somewhat loosely defined. The white things stuck all over the rock on the left are barnacles. Barnacles are little arthropods (related to crustaceans) and they are abundant here! They also hurt bare feet so no kicking off the flip flops. (Not that you’d want to wear flips because brrr cold.) The thing you won’t see in abundance here is sand. Rocks are however everywhere and really, aren’t they just larger grains of sand? Technically I guess we can let it be called a beach even though you won’t find many people in bathing suits rushing to take a dip.

The Lord replied, “The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.”

Author disputed, but credited to Mary Stevenson 1939

There is no question that a dog can carry us through hard times. It is often said that it’s no coincidence that dog is God spelled backward. While I don’t worship my dogs, they are exquisite examples of unconditional love and acceptance, patience, and understanding. This is my visual take on the poem, Footprints in the Sand. (You can read it in its entirely here: https://wallpapersafari.com/footprints-poem-wallpaper/).

This concludes the tour of random deep (and not so) thoughts. Thank you for coming. Please gather your belongings and watch your step as you exit.

And don’t forget to wash your hands. ❤️

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