Rejuvenating Spring

Spring is making her appearance here in the Columbia Gorge. It has been welcomed gratefully by the anxious, extreme athletes awaiting the warmer weather, high winds, flowing rivers, and clear trails. Watching this place transform from a snow-covered valley, into lush, green hillsides covered with wildflowers of all colors has been so magical and REJUVENATING!

Flyers are flying high, kayakers are tackling the highest of flows, bikers are shredding down clear trails, and hikers are enjoying the endless hikes, minus the snow-shoes. The Columbia River Gorge has seen a huge influx of adventurers seeking beautiful places and adrenaline rushes. We’ve seen sunny, hot days, warm rains, and incredible thunderstorms. The best part: spring is just the beginning of an epic summer here. Grateful to call this place home for the time being. With Mt. Hood towering to the south and Mt. Adams bellowing to the north, rivers and waterfalls raging everywhere, and the vibes brought in by the good people drawn to this special place provide for endless energy and souls to explore this magical place.

The Gorge is the biggest break along the Cascade Range creating gusts up to 50 mph, making it the most ideal spot for wind sports from flying above the Columbia to kite-boarding in the Columbia. The endless rivers and creeks make it a mecca for whitewater kayaking, especially for those looking to run some drops.  The Gorge is full of waterfalls, finding their way into the Columbia River. Hikers and bikers could spend weeks exploring new trails, and still have plenty to find. Adventure is never far when you are in the Gorge.  Cheers to a new season, more sunshine, and lots of adventures! Go enjoy the spring time lovin’!

Photos: Tulip; Canyon Creek, WA; N.M. sending a NesterLap; Sunset Falls, East Fork of Lewis, WA


2016: A Year to Remember

2016 will always be a special year to me. It will always be the year I kayaked my first river-South Fork of the American. The year I learned how to grow a plentiful garden. The year I moved to California. The year I learned to surf. The year I celebrated my Golden Birthday with some of the greatest people I know. The year I took a step back from everything I had known and made the decision to seek out a new way of life. The year I felt the most alive, as if I had been reborn, making a year full of firsts. New places, new people, and an abundance of new challenges. With every challenge came a new perspective.

New perspectives have created a whole new outlook on life for me. Both seeing and being the highest of the high to the lowest of the low, each experience humbling in it’s own way. Compassion for the world and all it’s inhabintants grows each time a new perspective is understood.

Hopes are high for 2017 and I look forward to the new challenges, moments of joy, and moments of stillness. 2017 offers more rivers to be run, friends to connect with, places to be seen, and compassion to be shared. 2017 begins with a move to Washington, one of the most beautiful places I could imagine, as soon as the weather gives so we can begin our journey back.

Cheers to another trip around the sun!

10 years from now…

A few months before I left for college, my dad asked me to write down where I think I’ll be in 10 years.  Because I had no idea what I was going to be doing and the idea of thinking about it made me cringe, I gave a poor, sarcastic, joke for an answer that he was not impressed with.  So to give a better answer, I’ll just tell a story about the night we decided to go to Pretty Lights.

A perfect example of how plans never seem to matter is the Pretty Lights adventure. A few friends and I made plans to go see Pretty Lights in the Bay Area.  With one of our buddies flying out of San Francisco the following day, it all seemed too good.  We began our road trip south, jamming to music, getting stoked for the show when impromptu, the Range (our new-to-us car) decided we would go no further.  Broke down on the side of the 101, we were unsure of what the next move was. We scrambled up hills to reach service, hitched a ride to town for any kind of help. Turned out, our car was going nowhere, unless on a tow truck.  The next day we would have to figure out how to get our dear friend to the airport so he could begin his own adventures in Chile. We were pretty bummed, and totally unsure of how we were going to get our buddy to the airport but somehow ended up making the best of the situation.

We had planned on an epic night of Pretty Lights in the Bay Area in our nice hotel when in reality, we ended up sleeping in tents, stranded in a redwood forest.  The show went on, our hotel room sat empty, as we huddled and giggled around a campfire, underneath towering redwoods, hiding from the rain. The next day, another good friend came to the rescue and continued the journey south to get our friend to the airport while Cody and I dealt with the Range.

This adventure showed me that my plans mean so little; therefore, it would be so silly of me to think I could even have the slightest clue as to where I will be in 10 years.  But this adventure also showed me that even when plans do not go accordingly, that does not mean the day is ruined. Most of the time, the greatest of adventures are not planned. The happiest of moments are not planned. I do know that what comes of a situation is based on your outlook and the people you are surrounded by.  Luckily, in the case of Pretty Lights, I was with some awesome people and it turned out to be a pretty memorable night. This adventure mishap, along with so many other mishaps that occurred in the past several months have always prevailed in working themselves out, no matter how astray from the original plan things got.

I cannot tell you where I will be because in most cases I’m not even sure where I will be next week or tomorrow for that matter. Nor what exactly I will be doing because I’m sure opportunities will arise that I do not even know exist.

What I can say with confidence, is that in 10 years I plan to be happy.  I plan to be surrounded by people I love.  I plan to be doing the things that bring joy to my life.



Overwhelmingly Beautiful

A little over two weeks has flown by.  Two weeks full of adventure, learning, new people, new experiences, new skills, new foods.  New is a sensation I have been in desperate need of.  I had become accustomed to a continuous, detrimental routine and now I am dancing in freedom and change.

This new found freedom has come with frustrations including why writing has been difficult and freedom has shed light on my need for routine.    I find myself constantly planning or asking what the plan is.  Freedom means less planning, more living which is something I am enjoying more and more everyday.  My need for plans is slowing and I realize the more in the now I am, the more enjoyable life has been.  My frustration with writing has been lurking in the back of my mind and I have sat down to write almost everyday and every time results in the same feeling of disappointment and defeat while I hopelessly stare at my blank screen.  I thought of a million reasons why my writing has come to an abrupt halt but until today none of my reasons seemed good enough.  Today, as I drove through a forest of towering Redwoods, saw flashes through the thick trees along the road of the beautiful mountains and deep valleys of the King Range, served coffee to the wild people of Humboldt County, and drove home on the rough, windy path to the farm tucked deep in the rolling hills, I realized why I have been struggling with my writing.  I fear my writing will not  rightfully illustrate this overwhelmingly beautiful place I now call home.

I find myself speechless everyday driving to work, learning a new skill in the garden, gaining knowledge from people who have years of experience, or meeting new people.  My mind is overflowing of new knowledge that my brain is too busy digesting that it cannot possibly hold onto a single idea long enough to get it down to paper.  When I did begin to write, my thoughts were still scrambling through my mind, jumping from this to that, never focused.  My mind is in full sponge mode and is struggling to slow down.  In a weird way, my problem is that I have too much to write about.  Too much to write about is an issue because I want to properly render the magic of my new home.

Today, I reflected and focused on my frustrations which has allowed me to slow down enough to finally process my thoughts.   Take a step back, slow down, breathe, reflect and let everything evolve and you too shall follow.

Great change brings great chaos

Beginning with a hectic week of finals, packing, and good-byes; to a 3 day road trip through the mountains of Colorado, the towers of red rocks in Utah, the desert of Nevada; to finally reaching the promise land of Northern California.  The land that is full of life, rivers, creeks, winding roads through dense, green forests and the monsterous Red Woods .  The place my soul has been wandering, lost, awaiting my return.  Tonight, after a long week, exhausted after a long road trip filled with incredible experiences, and with no time wasted; day of work, I can finally relax.  I can let my mind settle and digest the chaos.  Chaotic as it has been, the feeling of freedom and happiness has pushed the feeling of chaos aside.

As Cody plays guitar and I put my thoughts down into words, I think of the feeling as I drove away from the place I have called home for my life in search of freedom.  The feeling of freedom I have felt since that moment.  I think back to the morning in Utah, waking to the unknown world of the night to find us in the middle of monuments of stacked red rocks on the outskirt of Moab.  The rocks that are stacked so perfectly and stand strong like castles.  I think of kayaking my first river in my own boat.  I can feel how it felt when I successfully rolled up-right after my first flip.  How the last stretch before reaching my new home felt.  The overwhelming feeling of freedom, happiness, and the unknown.  The day didn’t slow as we worked while the sun beat down on our exhausted bodies.  The farm has been hard at work nourishing the plants that have grown tall and strong that were once the babies that I had transplanted.  The apple trees, that just a few short weeks ago were covered with beautiful blossoms, are now covered in baby apples.  The baby chickens have grown from the puffy balls they once were.  The greenhouse continues to get greener and full of life.  Everything has changed but the feeling of this magical place has not.  I am exhausted but look forward to the new day ahead tomorrow.

But now, it is time to relax.  It is time to enjoy where I am right this moment.  This great change has indeed brought great chaos but I am confident the overflow of happiness and excitement will continue to mask the feeling of chaos.

PC: Kaylan Miller

The baby apples and the growing tomato plants

One week until freedom

One week.  One week until we begin our life unbound together.  One week until we start road tripping to Cali.  One week until I make the biggest move of my life.

I never felt this day would come.  I have been dreaming of this for months now.  I have imagined it over and over again.  It felt like the time would never pass, now I am only one week away.  I am overflowing with emotions.  To say I’m not a little nervous would be a lie.  Of course I am nervous.  My life will be completely different in only 7 days.  I will say good-bye to my parents for who knows how long.  I will leave the state I have called home for almost 19 years.  I will part from a friend who I have been inseparable from since pre-school, who I also shared my freshman year of college as my roommate.  I will leave behind everything I have known for 18 years.

But more than nervous I am bursting with joy and excitement.  I feel as if I am being reborn, like my life is just about to begin.  I can taste freedom.  I will be spending everyday with the man I love most.  I will see places and do things I never would have done without taking this leap.  I will meet people and build relationships that will bring opportunities I could not imagine now.  I will learn more than I ever have in any classroom.  I will find myself.  I will grow as a person and expand my consciousness more than ever.  I will give up all I have ever known for adventure.  I will trade structure for freedom.  My soul will be free to roam.

I am ready for this adventure.  Ready for change.  I only have one more week until the biggest, most exciting change of my life.

So, how I am supposed to study for finals?

Distance makes the heart grow fonder

Let’s be blunt.  Distance between you and the person you love most sucks.  But, it is undeniable that distance makes the heart grow fonder if there is a true connection.

Shortly after meeting the man I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, we had to go our separate ways.  I headed off to fulfill my commitment to college basketball in Lamar, CO and he headed to the west coast in search of freedom.  The first good-bye was the morning I left for school.  We sat by the river, drank coffee, and I laid my head on his chest as soft tears fell.  Weeks were long as I waited to spend the weekends meeting up with him, or sneaking home to see him.  The real good-bye, as he headed off to California, was in the parking lot of a Mexican restaurant.  Endless tears rolled down my face as I pressed my face into his chest.  As I drove east, back to school, and he drove west, the tears didn’t stop.  I began the countdown until I was back in his arms.

The days between were filled with phone calls, video calls, a ridiculous amount of pictures, and still, plenty of tears.  Every night was spent on the phone, just to be there if one of us woke up.  Days seemed to drag on, until finally it was December.  I flew out to San Francisco and our adventures to the farm, Burney Falls, and Tahoe began.  That was the happiest I had been in months, even though those months were spent doing something I had dreamed about my whole life, nothing compared to being in the arms of the man I love.  We rushed to the airport, convinced I was going to miss my flight.  To our surprise, the flight was delayed.  We spent hours sitting in a corner, crying, holding each other, expressing our love to each other in hopes it would fill the emptiness we knew was coming.

I flew back, spent Christmas with my family, but I felt so empty.  I had left the man I love most.  I began the new countdown to spring break.  The days were even harder this time.  I am not the type of person who feels hopeless without a phone, but that’s exactly how I felt.  We talked constantly.  The day to pick Cody up from the airport finally came.  As soon as I spotted that big beard with his big sack on his back, I sprinted through the crowd to be in his arms.  We spent a month in Colorado, seeing each other on the weekends.  When my spring break came, we spent time with our families.  The week after my spring break, we flew out to California together.  One week in California turned into two due to a nasty kidney infection.  As sick as I was, I was happy to spend another week with him.  After over a month together I didn’t think I could leave him.  The day finally came and we headed to the airport, eating sushi in a beautiful little town.  As I got on the bus, it just didn’t feel right.  I got off the bus and ran back to him, hysterically crying.  I heard, “The bus is leaving!” gave Cody one last kiss and ran back to the bus.  I couldn’t control my tears all the way to the airport.  I felt so empty.  There was only 1 month left until I was free from all commitment and we would be off to California together.  But this month has been the hardest of them all.  This last week we had our first full day without talking to each other because he has been kayaking.

Finally, he is on his way, as I type this.  On his way here to Colorado to pick me up from school and we will road trip out to California and begin this life unbound together.  I felt like this time would never come, but here it is.  And I couldn’t be happier.  I look back on the past several months and think about all I have learned by loving from a distance.

It was never easy.  The bad days I wished we were together for comfort.  The good days I wished we were together to share them.  I appreciate technology like I never had before.  Without the technology to keep in contact with Cody through these months is unimaginable.  I also learned about myself.  I spent a lot of time alone because I just couldn’t connect with anyone here like I could Cody.  It felt almost a dis-service to myself to fake relationships after knowing a true, genuine friendship.  Talking to Cody through the phone was more fulfilling than exhausting my energy with people who I could not connect with.  I understand the importance of communication.  I also have seen vulnerability at it’s finest.  Trusting and loving from a 1,000 miles away is the most trust I had ever put into someone.  Cody put that trust into me as well.  The trust and communication paid off.  I fell in love with him more everyday, and I look forward to falling in love with him even more everyday while I spend everyday with him.  Most importantly, I know, after spending this time loving Cody from a distance that he is the man I want to love for all my days.

Distance relationships are tough, but well worth it when the your partner is well worth it.  Sharing our experience I hope will encourage couples faced with this challenge to work if they believe your relationship is worth it.  Some things that may help that we found have helped us are to never underestimate the little things.  Random heart-felt messages brought light into my life.  Tell each other everything.  We sent pictures of our meals, what we were wearing, the weather, anything.  We talked about anything and everything.  If you are going to make this work, your partner is your number one priority, even over the phone.  I would leave events if Cody called.  Distance between two people in a relationship does not change how a relationship works.  On the other side of that, you must understand if your partner is busy.  There were days I would get so upset because Cody had so much work to do.  This was hard on me until I realized that he has work to do, and if he could talk to me while doing it, he would.  Busy does not mean they love you any less.  Always remember some days are harder than others.  And those days may have no particular reason for being harder, they just are.  In those days, remember the love you have for one another, and remember you love each other more than you miss each other.  Cody and I also have bracelets on our left wrists that remind us of each other.  The colors represent something important in our relationship.  The bracelets are tied on to where they cannot come off without cutting them off.  On good days and bad days, a glance of my bracelet always puts a smile on my face.  It is not easy, but with trust, communication, appreciation, and pure love, it is possible, and it feels so amazing when the ultimate countdown is finally over.

“Absence diminishes small loves and increases great ones, as the wind blows out the candle and blows up a bonfire.” -Francois de la Rouchefoucauld

PC: Cody Connell        20151006951651181