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December 3, 2013
Hey guys! It’s been a little quiet on the blog here so I thought I’d share some highlights of an incredible weekend away. We flew down Friday to celebrate my cousin Tim’s wedding to the gorgeous Tracie down in Santa Cruz and it was a wonderful long weekend south of the border. We came back to a blizzard…but that’s another story. On to the sun!
Flying into San Francisco, being picked up by my happy parents, and spending the night hanging out with brother, catching up on life, wrestling and hearing him jam was a blast.
(Sorry bro – best one I got since I love selfies and you don’t! Ha!)
The following morning included coffee (of COURSE! strong and black, just like we love it), conversation (always if you know my family; I love it!) and meeting up with my mom’s twin and my uncle and cousins for a carpool down to Santa Cruz for the wedding. It was great to see everyone again, meet my cousin’s boyfriend whom we all enjoy so much and cruise down the coast. I even saw a whale jumping from Highway 101! What an absolute treat!
And then…I squinted. Ahh, the sun! The warmth! The heat! The sand.
It was a great first day! Soaking up the sun, strolling in the sand, enjoying good company from family and reconnecting with so many people we haven’t seen in ages. What a perfect California day! …besides the motel, which was sketchy and not functioning very well but added to the memories of the trip.
That night we met in a big lodge tucked away in a gorgeous, wooded setting for the rehearsal dinner. This is where the reunions really started. Hugging people you’re pretty sure are cousins but there are so many and we’ve all grown up so much that you introduce yourself just in case. Big hugs, especially to the bride and groom, and lots of time spent laughing at the 20+ kids running around amidst pizza eating and story sharing.
All the aunts and their spouses shared wisdom from their combined 200+ years of marriage! That’s just between 5 couples! What a gift to sit and listen and to hear more about different people’s perspectives and encouragements when it comes to making a marriage last. We indulged in some great family traditions after dessert, like clapping, circling around the room and chanting the Jewish song we always used to sing at our New Year’s Eve Extravaganza festivities, “Torah Orah” – those for whom this was new were either confused or entertained and those who remembered it from “days of old” loved it! And afterwards? Some of the cousins went bowling. It was a great night!
Coffee out, walking the pier, seeing the monarch butterflies, enjoying the sea lions…day 2 was just as great as day 1!
Me, my aunt Mindy (mom’s twin-o), my mom and Mindy’s daughter/my cousin Carly Blue, always ready to pose like me.
Since the wedding wasn’t until 4 pm, we went our separate ways and for Mikey and I, that meant paddle boarding! We had a last on the water and were cruising around the bay for over an hour.
The rest of the day? Well, we rode a ride, we walked on the beach, we celebrated at the wedding that we’ve ALL been waiting for – at LAST! – Tim, my favorite cousin to hug, is married. These guys have a neat story and it was a joy and honor to be present at their wedding.
All in all it was an incredible weekend away. So thankful for family, warm sunshine and meaningful celebrations! It was great to see everyone and have a bit of a break from routine. Here’s a short video with some fun scenes of the wedding weekend in Santa Cruz!
What a weekend. Thanks for allowing me to share the joys and the celebrations with you all and a huge congrats to Tim and Tracie! You guys and Rachel and Christian make the BEST little family…love you guys! Have a great start to the week; I’m back to busy days in the gym and blizzards outside. Here we go!
Live well & be well,
November 4, 2013
When Mikey originally told me that I had been invited to speak at the Friends of Mel “The Art of Living Life Beyond Cancer” Conference last year, I was floored. He had just come back from the conference where he spoke and the next time I would be there too! When you live a story and learn from so many people, you gain so much experience from the journeys shared; I was going to get the chance to share from my story.
One of mine and Mikey’s favorite quotes is:
“Facts bring us to knowledge, but stories lead to wisdom.” – Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen
Cancer survivors and their care givers get so bombarded with facts as they dive into a new world of hospital visits, doctor appointments and procedures, but no one gives you a guide book on how to navigate the psychosocial aspects of the journey. I loved this conference because there were a lot of helpful facts presented as well as many stories shared, and sharing stories reminds us that we’re human, that others are going through the same things and helps make sense of the facts that we’re learning along the way.
I have so much information to share with you guys from the 2 sessions I attended, I almost don’t know where to start! The day kicked off with a remarkable keynote presentation by Mitch Golant, a name I have heard in the cancer community for a while even though I don’t live and breathe it like my husband does. Not only is Mitch a kind, engaging and active (he’s training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro with his son-in-law this year!) man, he’s also a supporter to his wife who is a survivor of breast cancer for 2 years. Furthermore, Mitch is a leading researcher in the area of psychosocial cancer care for cancer survivors and has more recently been focusing on how feeling of distress impact people who have a cancer diagnosis or in whose lives cancer has made a dent. The talk was great as he discussed what distress actually means and looks like, the repercussions is can have in our lives and touched on post-traumatic growth. What a way to start the day!
After that, we broke for individual sessions. There were so many great ones but I chose to go to those that were most directly applicable to my work as a personal trainer who often works with cancer survivors. The first session I attended was entitled, “A Fitness Plan for Cancer Survivors,” by the very experienced, well-researched and real-life 67 year old inspiring trainer, Josie Gardiner. Among the other things I learned about program planning for breast cancer survivors (because this cancer leaves the most physiological trauma to the body and survivors of other cancer can base their fitness plans off this one), I learned a few interesting facts.
For one, did you know that after chemo, you can lose as much bone density because of the treatments as you can in 10 YEARS? Wow…it sure reiterated the value of strength training to me as a personal trainer telling people to keep lifting weights to stop their bone density from diminishing!
On another strength training note, although I knew that lifting boosted your metabolism for hours longer than a cardio workout, I didn’t know that post-cardio your BMR (basal metabolic rate, or how many calories you burn while at rest) went back to normal only 15 minutes after your workout as compared to up to 24 hours later with a strength workout! Ladies – another reminder to leave your fear and initimidation at the door and lift some weights!
I loved that the people in attendance were ranging in their abilities and age – there were some very small, elderly women hunched over but still moving and getting tips about their fitness and others who were trainers from a local YMCA. There are some outstanding programs offered for free for members and non-members alike of the YMCA for cancer survivors (even 20 years post-diagnosis!) and breast cancer survivors specifically in the area. Some great resources out there to be discovered, and I love the philosophy not only of the program but of Josie herself – it’s about real movements and listening to your body and not punishing or depriving yourself to see change.
One of my biggest takeaways was that, for cancer survivors specifically, you should “start low [weight-wise] and go slow [intensity-wise].” Josie mentioned the odd trend in fitness right now, the one in which so many people say “OH MAN! I am SO sore today…that workout ROCKED!” We don’t come home from the dentist and the next day, hand wrapped around a sore mouth, say, “OH MAN! I’m in so much pain from that root canal. That’s the best dentist in town!” No! Pain is your body telling you something and we need to listen to our bodies – they are out best indicator of how we’re doing.
What a great workshop! It only primed the pump for the next breakout session I attended, “Eat Well Everyday: Simple Ways to Maintain a Healthy Weight During and After Cancer Treatment to Promote Survivorship.” The extremely handsome and fit couple, Stacy and Russell Kennedy, put the session on in an engaging, tag-team presentation that left me wanting to talk with them more. Stacy was the nutritionist in the documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” (highly recommended!) and both Stacy, Russ and their kids will be in the sequel! Although I didn’t learn anything earth-shattering new about how or what to eat, I learned a lot about the psychology of why and how we eat from Russ’ expertise as a personal trainer and psychologist. The two of them have impressive resumes and I couldn’t take enough notes during their session.
One of the most fascinating things I learned was about a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin is essentially the opposite of testosterone in that it doesn’t bring out competition and, possibly later, anger. Let me explain: oxytocin increases connection felt between people (and even as it’s present in animals) and, among other positive side effects, decreases one’s food intake, essentially because they’re happy and are not isolated. Biomechanically, isolation makes you eat more (think: less serotonin and dopamine and therefore more eating as an outlet to release those hormones and be happy).
Long ago, this hormone was discovered but found to only be present during breast feeding and giving birth (isn’t that fascinating?!), so researchers deemed it not worth exploring. Later, they found it was present during orgasms and eventually found that the difficult-to-measure hormone:
- increased with sex, dance, massage, prayer and even social media involvement (score!)
- boosted as a result of generosity and charitable donations
- was present when shared emotions with a group experience caused increased connection within the group, and
- that the perfect amount of contact for this hormone to be fully released was 8 hugs a day.
Russ joked that if every time you drank your glass of water you hugged someone, you’d be set!
I LOVED learning this because it shows how valuable community is, even when it comes to how we eat. We eat less in a group setting when there is connection and community because we aren’t fighting over it – there’s less testosterone present and the drive for competition is not as strong. Again, so fascinating! So if we are connected to people around us and our relationships are strong, we’re less likely to worry about food and other things like being on a diet (which over half of Americans are on at any given moment).
We learned about different studies involving the way Americans and Europeans view food (knowing when you’re done eating) and the main reasons people overeat, and looking at the psychology behind why and how we eat made me think that understanding this is the root to understanding my clients (and people in general) more. I would love to do what Russ does and learn more on that end of things; combined with his nutritionist wife, he and Stacy are a dynamite combo.
I ducked out during the question/answer portion to connect with Mikey, who was setting up for his keynote presentation over lunch. He was just the right amount of nervous – not so much that it overtook him but enough because he was sharing his story in front of 200 people. Just as I knew he would (I am a wife confident in her husband!), he did an incredible job speaking and inspiring others with his (and, consequently, our) story. He was composed, funny, engaging and had the woman who introduced him and finished after him in tears before and after his presentation. With a standing ovation, he finished speaking and I was amazed at God’s faithfulness in our story upon reflecting on all that he had brought us through as a couple. To see where Mikey is now, post-treatment in his survivorship journey, he truly is not only surviving but thriving, and I am so proud of him and respect him so much.
* I must also mention that my husband was nominated and chosen for one of the “Top 40 Under 40” in Calgary for 2013, with his photo and write up appearing last week! Unfortunately we were in Boston and missed the gala and awards ceremony, but click the link above to check out the neat things he’s doing for cancer survivorship in Alberta! *
After lunch we each headed off to present our individual sessions, he on telling your story and me on a workshop for caregivers using clips of our most recent film webseries, “Valleys.” The session went really well and there were 2 survivors and the rest caregivers in attendance, some, like Mitch, with some incredible background and insight into the caregivers’ journey who added much to my presentation, and others like a man I met who had supported his now-adult child through 6 cancer recurrences over many years and, with tears in his eyes, said he had never once been asked how he was faring through it all. There were many, many stories that we could have shared and I think would have been shared if there was more time, but that concluded the session and then the conference ended with the closing ceremonies.
I am extremely grateful to Pauline and Luci from the Friends of Mel Foundation for their generosity to Mike and I, for the chance for me to share and to the incredible Heather Palmer for suggesting me to Pauline to speak on behalf of caregivers – thank you. There were many things I took away from this conference both personally and professionally, and it was with a joyful heart that I said goodbye to Mikey as he left with Mitch and Heather in a cab to the airport the night before me, headed solo to Rotterdam for his next whirlwind week of presentations.
“His grace is sufficient for me.”
I hit up the free shuttle to the mall again after the conference, wandered around Target for nostalgia’s sake, bought my first frozen yogurt of the trip at PinkBerry and headed back to read my book, take a bath, sleep and finish “Forrest Gump” on TV.
5 rounds of 1 min sprints at 10 MPH & 1 min walking at 4 MPH for 20 minutes total
5 rounds of 5 strict chin/pull ups & 20 weighted walking lunges/squats (I alternated between the different exercises)
After that, I boarded the T, took a ride to the underground bus, hopped aboard and made it to the airport. I think you guys know the rest of the story.
(sporting my Friends of Mel bracelet!)
Back in Calgary and welcomed by snow, I had a lovely Indian dinner out with my in-laws who picked me up and had a great chat with my mom at home about the week.
Thanks for wading through all my information! I had so much to share and decided to go for it. As I mentioned in yesterday’s Boston adventures post, I will update you on my Holiday Hustle results, thoughts and before & after pics (because everyone likes to see those!)…just beware my very not-Californian body with some white skin. Live well & be well, friends – snow or sun and wherever you’re at!
November 3, 2013
Hello from the Chicago Airport! Hard to believe that my time in Boston has already come to a close…it’s been an incredible trip. I thought that I would break up our experiences into 2 posts: one with the touring we did around this amazing city and one of the conference which was incredible! Wow…so much to share – it’s hard to know where to start!
After we arrived in Boston, so happy to have a break and be traveling together again, Mikey and I dropped our luggage off and went straight to the mall. The mall? Yeah – we were about 40 minutes on the T (their subway/train system) away from downtown Boston and there was nothing within walking distance of our hotel, so we hopped on the free shuttle to get a few supplies for the week from Target.
I loved seeing all the fun seasonal Halloween candies and things that are only in the great US of A – it was good to be home.
We headed back to the Marriott Quincy and read our books in the hot tub, which was right next to the gym and in full view of the weight room. I could only take it for about 10 minutes before I just HAD to go MOVE! So I did a great 20 minute workout, showered and gathered my pruny husband from the hot tub and we hit the hay.
The next day, we took the T downtown and bought a pass for the Duck Boat Tour – a chance to see all the history of Boston, to get out and walk and explore, with museum fees included sounded perfect to us. We started by seeing some famous statutes, loved hearing about history along the way and had fun getting off at our first stop: Fenway Park.
The Boston Strong and Red Sox fever was everywhere! …what a great time to be in this city.
Fenway Park was amazing…so much rich history and being in the first ballpark in the US made me really proud to be an American. We were there taking a tour on the afternoon before the Red Sox won the World Series – so we even got to hear DropKick Murphy’s warming up! Big time bonus.
After the tour and loving the excitement for the Red Sox that you could feel sweeping the city, we hopped back on the tour, explored by walking around a little more and stopped for an important visitor who zoomed by in his motorcade – President Obama! We didn’t see him, but we did see his car go by and the American flags on the side. So cool! We hoped we’d see him in speak at Fenuiel Hall in Quincy Market but, after waiting for about a half hour, we lef the area and gave up a shot for a glimpse at the President – but I don’t think he ended up surfacing there in view of where we were anyway. Still a neat, crowd experience!
Eventually, after another museum stop in the Old South Meeting House, we ended up eating our first “real” meal of the day in the oldest pub in Boston – the Bell in Hand. Mikey especially loves the architecture of the old buildings, which are older than the life of the city of Calgary! The Bell in Hand was wedge-shaped, and we took up residence at a high table in the skinny part of the wedge. When in Boston, eat fish, right? I had the Baja Tacos, which were delicious, and Mikey ate the fisherman’s platter which he couldn’t even finish! I had my first sip of alcohol since the 24 day Holiday Hustle, a half pint pumpkin beer with a tasty sugar and cinnamon rim but didn’t even drink half of it! That ended up being my only alcohol of the week; I chose to go with more candy options coming off my food challenge. Maybe some of these habits will actually stick!
We also helped each other with our presentations for the upcoming conference; it was fun brainstorming together on a napkin in the oldest pub in America.
We took a long walk after that, around Little Italy which was beautiful, safe and full of great looking Italian restaurants – wish we could have stayed for some gelato or a coffee! We were actively staying away from sweets after a “lightly battered,” as the menu said, meal of fish, so we passed, but we did walk by the Thinking Cup coffee shop that Janetha told me to go to – can’t believe we didn’t have room for a canoli!
We continued meandering down the Freedom Trail to Old North Church (where Paul Revere lit the lamps signalling the British were coming!) and Paul Revere’s house. Although I didn’t get a good picture of it in the darkness, I loved the statue of Paul Revere on a horse rearing up, proudly wearing a Red Sox jersey.
We finally got back on the T and rode home, walking back up to the hotel and flopping down, switching on the Red Sox game until the end, cheering them on even though we wouldn’t really call ourselves baseball fans. Being at Fenway Park earlier in the day made for an exciting game and we loved watching that game-winning strike-out and the thrill that was so obvious in the stadium! Boston needed this, and I was so happy that after the Boston Marathon bombing that this happened; it was an emotional and powerful week in this city.
Day 2 of our explorations began as day 1 ended for me: with a short workout!
I came back, woke the boy and we enjoyed with some oatmeal, a banana and some baby oranges in our hotel room bought from our Target trip. We also got some carrot pack, cherry tomatoes and raw nut trail mix to help with snacks during the day, some buns with individual peanut and almond butter packs for quick sandwiches so we never purchased lunch out and some mint tea for the evenings. A cheap and easy way to travel!
Back on the tour (we bought the multi-day pass), we started off with a stop at the USS Constitution, the world’s oldest wartime boat still afloat. We got there right in time before a big group and enjoyed a free 20 minute tour from one of the active-duty navy men and learned a lot about the fascinating history of the boat and the battles “Old Ironsides” engaged in against the British.
We were also able to pop over to the nearby museum and strolled around, reading more about the history of the boat and the era. It was a great start to the day!
After the boat tour, we hopped into the harbor on a different kind of boat – a Duck Boat! As with every tour guide we had, the drivers were hilarious, disarming and charming. I think I’d be intimidated by younger Boston men but I sure think the older ones are fun! I love the people out here…similar feel to San Francisco but a little brashness to the friendliness of Bostonians – cool city and cool people.
On the way to our first destination, I also had my first coffee in 24 days! It was simple, like I always have it – a short, dark roast with 1 shot, this time from Starbucks. It was perfect sipping a coffee with Mikey as we made our way to the next destination on the double decker bus.
The rest of the day was dedicated to being in Harvard Square, where we checked out some great exhibits at the Museum of Natural History (tough call between that and the MIT museum, but we only had time for one!) and then just strolled the campus.
It must be incredible studying in a place with so much history! Although the day was gray, it was warmer than the day before and we loved walking through the old brick buildings, steeped in history and so beautiful.
That evening was all about hockey – we made it to Boston Gardens and took in a hockey game! It wasn’t the greatest game (although former Flame Jerome Iginla won the game for the Bruins in a shoot out! That’s our boy!), but it was fun to be in a famous arena and the steep seats provided great views even from our place in the upper balcony.
This is also, to be noted, the night I had candy corn – on Halloween! YUM! I bought a bag, ate half and threw the rest away – that’s how I portion control and help myself with will power.
Friday brought a day to stick around the hotel, visit with a super amazing friend, Jaime, from our Grand Canyon trip this summer (who drove for 2 hours from Connecticut to have lunch with us tired folk! SO thankful to have seen her face to face) and a day of working on our presentations. Can’t believe we failed to snap a pic with Jaime, but we went into Quincy (which is actually about 25 years older than Boston!) for Mexican food and had a great time catching up and chatting.
And…for the rest of the trip, the full day conference on Saturday, you’ll have to tune in later this week! I’ll also pop back with a glimpse at my before and after photos of the Holiday Hustle challenge and my wrap up thoughts on the experience. I think for coming off such a challenge I did fairly well throughout the week away! I definitely allowed candy indulgences and did have 1 donut (pumpkin pie) from Dunkin Donuts (first time ever there!) on our first day of exploring Boston, but we hadn’t eaten much all day and I figure pumpkin’s already on it’s way out up in Canada, so I might as well enjoy it. More on that later, but I just wanted to share the fun time we had in Boston. We crammed a ton in (hence why we were so tired when we connected with Jaime on our “day off” to study and work!) but it was worth it. If you love history, friendly people and a beautiful area, take a trip to Boston! We had a blast.
Talk to you guys soon! I’m back for a full week of work while Mikey is in Rotterdam in the Netherlands for his first international conference – so proud of him. God has been so faithful to us in our story and I’m grateful for this trip to remind of that. Live well & be well, friends!
October 14, 2013
Hey friends! It’s a beautiful day in Brandon, Manitoba and I just enjoyed a weekend filled with family and friends to celebrate my husband’s grandma’s life as she passed away a few weeks ago and to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. North of the border, this holiday is celebrated earlier than it’s counterpart in the States and has a few differences:
- Parliament called for a “general day of thankfulness” rather than the holiday representing a specific event in time (like with the pilgrims being thankful for food from the Indians in the U.S.) – I think that’s neat that it’s just a moment to pause and be thankful!
- Canadian Thanksgiving is a holiday on the Monday, not Thursday.
- In the States, you know that EVERYone will be eating turkey on the last Thursday in November each year, and most meals are quite traditional and involve family. In Canada, you might go to one meal on Friday night, one Sunday and even meet with friends on Monday too! It’s less structured and many families don’t get together or necessarily “do” the whole shebang. In Canada, the big time to get together is definitely over Christmas, so it’s a bit different than the family-centered time that Thanksgiving is in America.
Just a few differences. Celebrating Thanksgiving is something that I miss terribly by not being in the U.S. – especially the family time. We always get together with American friends in Calgary and have a fun feast that has come to feel like family, but this year it was fun to be with more family because of the event going on in Manitoba. Although we got together for hard reasons, there was still an element of celebrating all weekend, which finished with a fun meal and lots of us all together.
On Thursday night my sister- and bother-in-law, Catherine and Dave, flew in from Vancouver and spent the night with us. We picked them up after I had time for a quick shower at home post-Train the Team, a fundraiser at our gym for the village we support in Ethiopia, Belo.
For 10 minutes, members can pay a fee to train a trainer or member of the staff and make them do whatever they want! Lots of revenge going on here. The event was great – we raised over $11,000! Many people donate without training someone, but most of the trainers who participated were full for four 10 minute slots with a short break in between each one.
I LOVED this event! I was worried about the 11 hour drive the next day, but I wasn’t sore at all until the FOLLOWING day when I tried to do some push ups and felt like my chest was ripping. All my clients did some creative and challenging things, although they had a harder job than most as they ALL told me they weren’t sure what to make me do since everyone except me hates burpees.
One of my clients even googled “exercises worse than burpees.” Love it!
That was my only activity all weekend long. Friday was a deserved rest day (and 11 hour drive to Manitoba!) and the rest of the weekend was focused on people – and the road trip (both ways) was so good with Dave and Cath.
We were up until midnight every night and the days were full of planning and prepping, concerts by our cousin, Dylan, and his band (and often his sister Katie too – a talented family!) and moments sharing memories. We all went for a beautiful fall walk in the leaves on a fun trail, had a graveside service, went out to eat several times and had a wonderful memorial service and Thanksgiving meal at the end of the weekend.
One thing that was in the back of my mind before we left was my Holiday Hustle via Janetha from Advocare’s 24 Day Challenge. I knew we’d be spending time on the road, eating a few meals out and sharing a Thanksgiving meal together. I was nervous to have to say “no” to stuffing and pumpkin pie! But everyone was VERY accommodating. I didn’t miss my supplements, kept drinking my daily water and had tea instead of sweets when everyone else was having dessert. I passed on coffee every day (going strong on no coffee for 8 days now!) and opted for hot water with lemon instead and there was no stuffing or pumpkin pie (Saskatoon berry and apple pies instead) for me to have to turn down!
I grabbed salad before dressing and cheese was added, snacked on veggie/bean quinoa chilli and kept it honest every day. I feel great and it’s wonderful to actually exercise willpower!
(Didn’t indulge in any of the Tim Bits, brought my own food for the drive and even filled my honey container (harvested by my aunt & uncle in CA from their home!) with Angela’s pink power detox smoothie!)
And you know what? I didn’t miss out on the food or extras at all! I’ve learned that I am able to stick with something, have discipline and not eat mindlessly just because I’m with people and hanging out. I was also reminded that moments with family and holidays are not about the food (although tradition certainly does center around celebrating together with food, which is great!) but about the time with people.
I’m looking forward to getting back into my fitness routine again, and although I often workout while on vacation and traveling, this weekend was different. It was great to not wear workout clothes for once (said every personal trainer ever!) and to get good sleep and just be present with others. Eating well with help with weight loss and maintenance, but not burning calories, so I can’t wait to add that back into the occasion – mainly because I love to sweat! Above all, I cherished the time with family and was truly reminded of the brevity of life and that mine must be lived all for Jesus, loving people well while I’m here on earth in this temporary home.
Anyone else celebrate this weekend? What did you do on both sides of the border, and how are YOU doing with your discipline with food right now? Remember, it’s just where I am right now – consistency is the most key for your health, and there are times to indulge and times to scale back. RIght now I’m enjoying the discipline and structure of this program and eating well to fuel right and feel amazing!
Happy Canadian Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians and have a great week to everyone. Live well * be well, friends,
August 20, 2013
From a helicopter to a small plane to a bus to a rental car, Mikey and I hit the highway ready for a road trip after our Grand Canyon rafting experience and many goodbyes.
Every year, my extended family goes camping for about 5 days at Loon Lake, a beautiful reservoir in deep granite valleys high above where we’d just come from deep in the center of the earth!
Although my family’s camped there for several summers, this was the first we could join and we were so glad we did. A week of lounging on granite rocks, hiking on granite slabs, jumping off rocks into water, kayaking, group dinners and s’mores… Count us in!
It sounds cliche, but the older I get, the more I realize the value of family. I love my family so much and seeing them a few times a year is tough – leaving is even tougher. But the times we do have mean so much. In our family, we talk – a lot. We sit with black coffee and talk from the time the sun’s up, sit on rocks and talk around the lake, talk while we’re swimming, talk at the lunch break and then during the cliff jumping, talk during dinner prep and as we eat s’mores.
This trip was especially amazing because we had a few great additions to our family recently – my cousin, Tim, is getting married to his beautiful fiancee, Tracie, in December. Mikey and I are crazy-bummed we can’t make the wedding (we’d already booked tickets two weeks later for Christmas before we knew the date) but getting to spend 5 days with Tim, Tracie, and Tracie (now Tim’s!) absolutely adorable kids (Christian and Rachel) was incredible. They are the most engaging, smart, fun kids I’ve ever met and I am so thrilled that they are now a part of Tim’s and our larger family!
(“Big Bonnie” – I’m “Little Bonnie” – my mom and Rachel)
A few fun highlights of the week include Mikey making a sail, lashing a double and two single kayaks together and my parents and us sailing (successfully!) down to the other end of Loon Lake! We weren’t able to sail back as successfully so we paddled back but had such a blast together! It was awesome. Unfortunately, we lost our GoPro somewhere on the trip (we’re pretty sure it was stolen from our campsite which was near the road while we weren’t there) with the fun footage! Oh well – we have the memories.
I also loved connecting with my uncle Curt on a hike with Mikey. We had a rough map and an idea to climb Brown Mountain but weren’t sure exactly what we’d encounter. It ended up being a gorgeous, through-bushes, up slabs, in trees, over peeks kind of hike and it was such a great way to spend 8.5 miles.
Of course I also loved spending time with my like-a-sister-cousin, Becky. Although we missed time with her husband, Gerardo, who had to work, it was great to catch up with Beck. Can’t wait for more fun with her (and him) at Christmas!
All in all it was a great week. So thankful to my parents for the camp site, to the Gonzales for the tent and gear and to everyone for sharing food and company!
We left Friday and drove to Reno with my parents for our flight but stopped at the Patagonia factory store along the way. We even hit the store (which is already discounted) on a 40% off sale! Needless to say, we left with some much needed snow pants (Mikey’s had his for 15 years!), a shell for me, a down coat as a layer and two cute dresses (I don’t count those because they were SUPER cheap and “extras”). Very thankful for that provision and for gear that we will use for another 15+ years to come!
(my new blue soft shell and Peet’s Coffee in the airport – my FAVORITE!)
I’m grateful for this trip and looking forward to more time with everyone at Christmas. Family really is what matters most and I value our family that shares, communicates, encourages, laughs, and supports one another. Here’s to valuing the times we do have together!
Do you have any summer family traditions? Any fellow campers out there?
Back to the week at hand. Have a great rest of the day, you guys!