Wednesday, February 28, 2007

My Daughter Wants this Horse

It's a nice animal no doubt and I would love for her to have it, but of course boarding a horse is expensive. So my solution is to help Caitlin network so she can find steady work to support the cost of a horse. I doubt it will be this horse, but there are others out there that are equally as fine.

It is one of Caitlin's dreams to find a good horse that she can train to barrel race on. she wants to use the training methods of an Australian trainer named Clinton Anderson, who is a well known, well respected horse whisperer. She wants to start out on a young horse and is convinced that she can earn decent money if she has a decent horse. I've heard of crazier ideas. It's true that good barrel racers can make money, but how much of those big bucks go back into the upkeep of the horse, equipment, and racing fees? I'm sure Caitlin will find out and she should have the opportunity to try and make a dream come true.

I know I have a few readers, so if you can help us network that would be great!

A Bad Idea

My daughter's friend, who lives around the corner from us is the lead singer in a Punk Rock band named "A Bad Idea". I heard them for the first time and am actually impressed. They have an old school punk sound that is what I think makes Punk Rock pretty great. The whole sound to me is real and unfiltered. These kids are true rockers and they aren't any older than 15 or 16. I love discovering good music and it does the heart good to know there are so many talented young people in our world.

The recording was done in another friend's home recording studio, which isn't a high end one, but very cool none the less from what has been described to me. There are vivid guitars painted all over the walls, and the equipment gets the job done. That's classic.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Pictures from Sunday

Just a couple of chicks freestyle climbing.

Amber in the Entrance of Airmen's cave

Monday, February 26, 2007

Yesterday's Hike

I took my friend Amber for a short walk yesterday. She had never been to the Barton Creek Greenbelt and wanted to check it out. Quick and easy is what we needed because I was pressed for time and we got a late start.

The greenbelt is pretty but often too crowded. Fortunately we found a few isolated spots that made us feel like we were away from it all. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Amber likes to climb as much as I do and we found a few places to perch up in the cliffs to quietly observe passer by. This was more of a climbing outing than a walking outing.

I was able to take some decent photos, and Amber snapped a few shots of me climbing. I'm on a new machine now, so it may take a little time before I post the photos.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

What's for Dinner

Tonight I made beef stroganoff , which I always hated the name of, but it's a fun dish to make that tastes awesome.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Cool geeks out there will appreciate it most I think

Russell showed this to me tonight and I think it's pretty fantastic. In fact, so much so I'm going to go through the trouble of figuring out how to hyperlink it here. Ah, well it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. But anyway, check it out.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Mysterious Forest and the LST

This weekend's hike was like being in bizarro land. We went to the Sam Houston National Forest and hiked a small section of the LST. The weather was cold and overcast, which lent an unmistakable air of mystery to the pine forest surroundings. It's quiet beauty unfolded the deeper in we walked, and left an undeniable impression on me. I'm privileged to have another amazing outdoor experience that I can write about and reflect upon.

I took a whole memory card of pictures that I'll have the pleasure of sifting through later on. This trip report will hopefully mark the first of many involving the LST. We were only on it for five miles, but the small section of wilderness we went through was mesmerizing. There was a marked difference between it and the Sand Branch Trail, which we also hiked.

The first day we covered six miles before setting up camp. The trail guide we brought along helped us navigate and proved to be a useful bit of information to have. Thomas brought quads along and we used two of them to navigate our hike along with the maps I downloaded off the internet. My GPS wasn't as useful as it could have been but that was because of heavy tree cover and not getting reliable signals.

Our camp site was a little unkempt because of someone using it and not carrying their trash out, which was a bit disheartening, but the place served it's purpose well enough and I was happy to stop. My backpack wasn't well balanced because I didn't pack it properly and I ended up with some noticeable discomfort. I also pulled my left calf muscle a slight bit from leaping over small streams with a 40lb load on my back.

After Thomas and I settled into camp we ate and talked about how the place felt and we both agreed it was really weird. There were occasional bird calls and the far off knocking of a woodpecker. The atmospheric hues went from grayish to lavender as the sun was going down and it all seemed more surreal to me than I can describe. The quiet was peaceful but definitely of a quality bordering on creepy.

Soon it was dark and cold. I was happy to retreat to my bag and read a little from Backpacker magazine out loud to Thomas. It wasn't long before he was sleeping and I turned my attention to my ipod to let waves of soulful music carry me into sleep. I slumbered in absolute comfort last night. The forest floor was loamy and spongy and the air smelled nice.

Getting up this morning felt like ages ago as I write this. I feel an urgency in writing it all down before I lose the finer details, although I'm sure more will come to me once I look at all the pictures. On a side note, wonderful smells of lasagna are wafting up to the second floor of my loft because my husband is cooking dinner for me. Somehow he always seems to know what I need and when. There were also pretty flowers and a bottle of wine with my name on it :). I think I will pour a glass of wine, take a hot soak, and come back to write the rest of this before I go to bed tonight...

Let's see...where was I...ah yes.

This morning Thomas presented me with a choice of either completing an 11 mile hike, or sticking with the six mile loop we previously discussed. I was very tempted to undertake the 11 miler, but weenied out and opted for the six miler instead. At the time it seemed sensible, but in hindsight I could have easily gone the 11 miles and in some respects wish I had. But of course I wouldn't be sipping wine right now and I am happy to be relaxing, so I guess things have a way of working out.

We hopped over many fallen trees today that littered our path and jumped over stream after stream, some of which were a bit tricky to get across. Amazingly my feet stayed dry . This hike was a slog in some areas, meaning wet and gushy. It felt utterly swamp like and I lost my footing a couple of times from slipping in the mud. However, I'm proud to say I never went down in the stuff. Thank goodness...that would have been quite messy and uncomfortable. Winter is the time to walk in this forest, because in the summer time the mosquitoes will eat any human brave enough to enter, ALIVE.

This trip had it's own surreal charm of which I'll think back on with fond recollection and I look forward to future adventure in the wilds of the Sam Houston National Forest. I'm a lucky girl to be able to experience all that I do. Special thanks goes to Thomas for being such an awesome hiking partner and making these trips possible.

Day One

First Pond where we stopped for lunch

Our packs at first pond

My tent looks huge compared to Thomas's

Day Two

Some color

Pine Cones were everywhere

Stream with tannin laden water. When I stepped onto the sand it was like quicksand!

Layers upon Layers of Fungus on a tree trunk

Deep Color

Green Fungus

White Fungus

Orange Fungus

Fallen Giant

Dense Forest



More fallen

Looking up into eerie silence

Fungus taking over

Friday, February 09, 2007

In Case Anyone was Wondering

The tenderloin was a tremendous hit with my family. I have to admit it was pretty amazing.


Catalog mind how do you do it
Scan the files and find what I need
Catalog mind take me through it
Damn you're good man yes indeed

Thoughts of Self

When I was a kid around the age of 8, I day dreamed about living out in the wild somewhere in my own hand built log cabin. It would be close to a river in the tree line and I would have rich fertile land to grow my food. I would hunt as well and use the skins to warm myself in the winter or for bedding and clothing. I created every detail in my mind about how my cabin would look and what all the things in it would be like. I would have a wolf or two for protection and birds, racoons, rabbits, and all kinds of other animals as companions. Hey I was 8, what can you expect?

The funny thing is, while I was busy planning my future life of adventure in the wild, my girlfriends' minds were filled with images of living in a Barbie Mansion with servants and closets full of glamorous clothes. While they were playing with their dolls and chatting about their silly girly things, I was either watching Grizzly Adams(probably too much of it), exploring a creek, or climbing trees. The life of the tomboy was for me and it was grand.

Thankfully I haven't outgrown it. I still want to romp around in the woods(and do) and would love to own a cabin on some beautiful property out in the wilderness someday. I want to climb mountains and meet fellow adventurers who are as committed to their natural world as I am, or at least as desperate to connect to it the way I am. But it goes beyond that.

I should explain what this inner tomboy thing means to me. It's part of who I am, but not entirely what one might think when they hear the word tomboy. It doesn't necessarily mean getting my hands dirty or wanting to go out four wheeling. It doesn't mean I don't like being feminine and using my beguiling womanly charms when necessary. Nor is it entirely about craving nature and earthy experience, or being one of the guys, but rather it's about an inner spark that gives me an edge. It makes me the independent thinker I am. It gives me the ability to speak up and let my voice be heard. It gives me the ability to be tough when I need it. It sets the tone for my non-conventional ways and makes my life richer. And I must say it's something I feel extremely fortunate to have.

Life's events brought me to the place where I am now. I'm happily married, have a great family, awesome friends, etc...but my inner tomboy is restless and it's difficult to ignore. I feel like I've been too sedentary and haven't lived up to my full potential. I need something more and have to do something about it while I still have time. I always wanted to accomplish personal greatness to the best of my ability and I have yet to live up to that. But I'm a work in progress and some things I want to achieve will have to wait until my children are older.

Some women would read this and think I am being selfish and that I should be completely fulfilled by the sheer fact that I got married and had kids. They would chide me for wanting and needing more and probably call me ungrateful. But screw all goes back to that tomboy thing. Some of us lucky gals got it, and some of us didn't. I'm not done and want to squeeze every drop of happiness and excitement out of life I can. It's the only one I have and I don't want to waste it.

What's for Dinner?

Pork Tenderloin with an apricot, mango, and wasabi glaze. Serving with wild rice and a tossed salad on the side.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I'm officially going to begin the LST!

This weekend I'm heading out for another backpacking trip and I'm excited to say I'm finally headed to the LST. Wow, I'll be able to get an official trail journal going now!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

What's for Dinner?

Homemade crab cakes with a mixed green salad on the side. I make the dressing from scratch using lemons, olive oil, spices, balsamic vinegar, garlic, a little brown mustard, and some honey. For the crab cakes I'll make a lemon dill sauce.Crab being mixed in the bowl with other ingredients
Making Salad

Dinner is served!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Bumble Bar, Bee, Bell Trail, and Blogs(Garner SP)

This weekend's hiking destination was Garner State Park and it delivered! I'm excited to be writing up this trip report and hope I can remember the small details that made the trip so sweet. Because it's such a long drive...over three hours each was necessary to overnight it. Thomas and I got lucky it wasn't crowded considering Garner gets something like half a million visitors each year. I find that to be a staggering number!

We got to the park Saturday afternoon and made camp fairly quickly. Actually I think I've never been more happy to be out of a car than that day. I was quite hung over because of my drinking stunt the night before. I went out with a couple of buddies of mine and partied all night Friday. At the time I figured it wouldn't be a big deal because I knew I wouldn't be hiking until Sunday, and would have plenty of time to rest up. But yeah, the car ride was a bitch. It didn't help that we were in hill country and I felt like I was on the roller coaster from hell.

After setting up camp we went on a small walk and I was starting to get a better idea of how pretty that place was, despite all the man made structures everywhere in the camp ground. But this was car camping and man made structures are part of it. Car camping has it's perks though, such as watching dvds on laptops and having a real bathroom! Anyway, the short walk Friday afternoon had me feeling much better and set the tone for the rest of the trip which was glorious.

Saturday night got down into the 30's but I stayed nice and warm in my bag especially with the liner I bought for it. I even got hot a couple of times and had to unzip. Though the bag performed well, I'm thinking about getting a different kind for next winter. I like goose down because it's lightweight and it's insulating ability is excellent, but on the downside(no pun intended) if the down gets're out of luck. Down takes FOREVER to dry. So I'm thinking about going synthetic next winter. It will be heavier to carry, but could be well worth it.

At dusk about 14 deer came trotting into camp and we were able to get some pictures, although I doubt mine came out very well in such low light and won't post them. I love deer and am always happy to see them. A couple of bucks sparred a little which was a visual treat and I could hear their horns clacking together. I also saw a skunk that night! I think it's the first one I've seen outdoors that wasn't road kill, and I felt pretty lucky to catch a good glimpse as it scampered along the ground only feet away. Thomas saw what we think was the same skunk under his truck the next morning before the sun came up. Skunks are cool. Sunday morning we broke camp and set out on what turned out to be one of the best hikes for me yet. The weather couldn't have been more perfect either.

I think the trails at Garner are amongst my favorites now because they are quite technical and FUN. I couldn't help but laugh out loud several times as I was trekking really was that fun and it felt so great having natural ground under my feet again. The place is full of rocky outcroppings(I love those)with plenty of steep ascents and joint jarring descents. We had beautiful views through out much of the hike as we traversed giant hills, hugged contours, and topped out on ridges. Several areas of the trail were in fact dangerous due to loose rock under foot. One false step is all it would take to go sliding down a steep rocky slope, or falling off an edge. It was great, but proper footwear is a definite must! ;)

I finally had the realization during this trip that I'd rather go up hill than down. I never thought I would take that stance, but I truly understand it now. Going down is in fact harder. It puts great demand on the joints, feet, and muscles in order to control the descent. Our first climb of the day felt incredibly easy and I was able to practice a gait mountaineers use which turned out to be very helpful in conserving energy and saving muscle strength. I used the gait several times and was surprised I climbed so many hills without feeling like I wanted to die. That's progress! I also paced myself better and felt I could have gone on for several more miles.

Sunday morning we broke camp and set out on what turned out to be a totally sweet trek. Texas Hill Country is so beautiful and pictures never do it justice. Garner has a ton of wildlife and on the list of sightings this time were tons of deer, a skunk, a Mexican Jay, some kind of dark colored hawk, and several other species of birds. At one point while being high up top standing at a place called Diana's Patio, a large buzzard practically grazed Thomas's head as it flew over. That was kinda least from my point of view! On the drive home a Great Blue Heron(I think it was a GBH) flew across the road and was silhouetted in a most lovely sunset.

One of the greatest things about this trip was how much I learned. I was able to find out what my gear will do for me, I was able to practice more navigation, I had the realization that going up is better than going down, I learned to pace myself better, and I mastered the art of putting on clothes and taking them off which sounds funny, but in hiker speak that's a very important skill.

Now to explain the strange title of my post. Thomas and I decided to hang out at a pretty spot near a trail junction and grab a snack. I pulled out a Bumble Bar, which is packaged in a bright orange wrap with a graphic of a bee on it. Shortly after pulling out my bumble bar, a bee showed up and started buzzing around me and landed on my arm. Thomas and I couldn't help but laugh at the sheer folly of it. Then of course I noticed that the trail junction we were at had "Bell" trail as one of the choices. Then I stated how I couldn't wait to BLOG about it, and was amused even further. It was probably one of those you had to be there moments.

In closing I must say I was sad leaving the outdoors and parting company with my friend who gets it the same way I do. These outings are never long enough but always cherished. Enjoy the pics!

Day One: The photos taken on the first day are from the stroll we took around the camping area next to the Frio River. Such a beautiful place.

The water was rushing and it sounded amazing
Close up of the cliffs towering over the camping grounds. We would see several different angles of this through out the hike the next day.

The above two photos are a different view of the cliffs from the campground.

Cypress Roots were sprawled out all over the ground. I love Cypress trees!

The water was crystal clear and like glass in places

Bent Cypress
Reflection of sky, tree, and boulder in the glass like water

Day Two:Some kind of Yucca reaching into the path to harass

Cactus filled slope. The next several shots are of the many views seen along the hike...

Me on the Bell trail. This was a very nice part of the hike I thought. Thomas on Bell can't see him if you aren't looking carefully. Click on the photo

Diana's Patio. These rock formations were fun to navigate.

Close up of Plant growing up through rock at Diana's Patio

George's Patio
The hill in front towards the left of the shot is the back side of the cliffs over looking the campground. It looks so small in this shot. Here is the same hill only closer.

Great view...of the hills even.