Once I wandered

my wanderings from here to there.

Month: April, 2012

Unexpected. Montana.

I realize my blog is dedicated to travel, but i realized today that I’m not ALWAYS going to be in the action of travelling and then I realized, in I way, I actually am. All adventures start with an idea, a place in your mind that you are curious about. I’m not sure who is like me, in that when I think I may like a place I go Google happy. I learn all the details and paint a picture in my mind. So in a sense, I am travelling, even when I’m not.

I’ve been thinking lately about just taking a stroll/ride/drive etc around my very own place and learning about the people in each place, maybe sooth my wanderlust a bit and share the images with my friends and fellow bloggers.

Montana is not really what most may think, whatever your perceived ideas, they are wrong, or you have completely understated them. I showed up in this town (Great Falls) on a hot August evening in 1989, August 2nd to be exact, my older sisters birthday was 2 days after. I had come from the Los Angeles area. I stepped out of the truck in almost sheer disbelief of what I was seeing, the first was the absence of people. As if to mock my disbelief  a  plastic bag caught a wind current and took on the form of a tumbleweed flying down the “main road” Oh Hell!  It was a Wednesday evening and in those days they shops closed at 5, and it was 8 pm with the sky painted pink.

In the 23 years of living here I have come to realize that the beauty of Montana is not in her bustling streets (and yes they do exist, NOW!) but in her dusty country roads, in her regal mountains and miles upon miles of untouched forests. And yes even in the diversity of her people. From Butte with a rich Irish tradition and personality, to Missoula with their college fun and ecologically friendly innovative ideas, Bozeman has trend setting sophistication with a wild fun side for the outdoors, can anyone say skiing?!, Billings with her big city mentality, but small town feel and Great Fall touching her agricultural and exploration history. But in between each of these towns lie tiny, sleepy undiscovered communities just waiting for someone to wander back into the past with them and see life lived as it was almost a hundred years ago. Montana is truly a surprise and a secret. I really can’t wait to make a plan!

Until that time…Here are some past images of my beautiful state…Be aware some are shot on cell phones and ipods, or were taken off of facebook because I’m on my newer computer and was not willing to walk all the way out to my PC.


Sunrise over The Great Northern and Hungry Horse reservoir near Columbia Falls 2007.

The Last Stack, Anaconda Montana 2009

Butte’s, Our Lady of the Rockies

Dillons, beautiful farm land and mountain views

Invenergy farm, Judith Basin, Montana.

View of the Bridgers, North of Bozeman.Wibaux, Montana.

Lightening And a sunset over the great falls of the Missouri, Great Falls, Montana

Wild Daisies in Glacier National Park.

A mountain stream near Neihart Montana



Refreshing rain! Getting back on the horse.

You know what’s awesome? Rain, yes, rain.  That term right as rain has quite a bit of truth to it.  it’s been going on 3 days of rain and since it started I have felt fantastic and productive! It actually started off as a pretty nasty thunderstorm (see images) But that didn’t stop me from going out and playing (photographing) it! I’ve decided to stop worrying and just keep on living life. I KNOW in October I will be getting on a plane and heading to the Highlands of Guatemala!
In the meantime here are some images from a cold front that slammed into a nice warm air pattern we had this week. For almost 5 days we had temps in the high 70 to high 80’s then it dropped into the 40’s and 50’s..heres the result!




Fundraising is an absolute nightmare, I’m not really the kind to break down and cry, but this week has definitely been an emotional one. I’ve done several fundraisers in the past, never for myself and they have been somewhat successful and always beneficial . Probably because I have never done one for myself. I completely believe my cause is worthy, I mean teaching a skill to people that can be gainful for employment, building a school and helping in general, yeah in my eyes that is completely worthy. I’ve been putting money aside, and my hope is to be able to match funds with money I raise. I think I’m a bit empathic, which is great for a volunteer, but probably not so great when your raising money, I keep internalizing it to my own self worth, though my logical mind knows better then that. What a struggle indeed! But this is me, when the world says no ride, I say, Fine then, I’ll walk!  And lord knows if that’s what I have to do, I might, ok I’ll probably find someone on lonely planet to share costs with and not walk, but none the less, I won’t give up. There is too much in this world lost to giving up and I won’t be one to do the same.

I think this is my first “venting” session, and I’ve still over 5.5 months left before I am to depart…I probably panicking for no reason lol!


Fernweh. The other day A friend had posted that she felt an ache at the thought of traveling,  I’ve always called it wanderlust, but a friend of hers announced with exuberance “Fernweh!” it sounded much more explanatory then Wanderlust.

I’ve never been your traditional traveler. As a kid we wandered around the USA mostly the west, my mother was never one for fancy hotel rooms or even cheap ones for that matter, we would drive to remote locations and set up camp sometimes for days sometimes for weeks, depending on the season. But along those unbeaten paths were towns,some dried up and long forgotten, reminiscent of some fictional ghost town in a Steven King novel. Others more modern but usually sleepy, pictures of days gone by, old men with cards on a sidewalk table smoking and talking, voices echoing down the main street in the hot afternoon sun.  Other places had been rich with culture parts of the very state we finally landed in filled a childs mind with proud bronzed faces and colorful feathers. I remember going to a pow wow, we had driven for an entire day across rolling green and gold plains, staring out the window at an almost striped landscape of winter and spring wheat.
We followed an old dirt road in my moms poo colored Datsun, that car had absolutely no excuse for running as well and as long as it did. We came over a hill and almost before I could see the sea of teepees and tents before me, I could here the drumming and the sounds of many voices ringing clearly into a sweet cool air, I didn’t feel like I belonged there at first, like I was an intruder, an observer of something sacred and old, I might have been but 9 years old but  I could still sense the importance of that moment. There was a girl, big hazel brown eyes and perfect pouty lips that upturned into a sweet smile. She had traditional clothing on and bells around her ankles and feathers in her hair. She said hello, took my hand and said, this is how we dance, this is how we say thank you and this is how we remember. I danced with her, I don’t think I did anything right, but she humored me and the whole day we spent giggling and dancing and even singing. I think that was the first moment that I realized there was more then just the things we see in these 4 walls of our traditional homes. When that ache in my heart grows, it’s not just the forests that rush through my mind, or snow covered peaks, not just the curiosity of what is there, it’s who is there, who are they and like that small, strange girl that exists, now only somewhere between memory and sleep, I want to show others kindness and compassion without bias and with few words needed. I want to know that in someway I helped someone else or I brought something to someone to make a difference. There is no time like the present to start.





Just thought I would share.

I’m not sure I’ve ever gotten down to the nitty gritty about who I am. Haha, I guess most of us are asking ourselves that question, but here is a little about me.
I am a mom of 4 boys (yes, all boys, revert to football team jokes, lol) , I have a husband, named Rodney, and he is exactly what every woman wishes for in a partner, Funny, caring, talented and most of all, encouraging.

One of the most defining things in my life is Photography, not only is it my choice of careers, it is also my hobby (nature and environment) my passion, my love and my drive. Every day I eat sleep and dream photography. So to be able to use photography as a way to help others just makes the prospect of Guatemala sound amazing.

Here are some photographs I thought I would share perhaps they can help make this blog a bit more visual. 🙂

Learning curve and Photos.

Spanish, it’s the second most spoken language in the USA and yet, I can’t!  Growing up on the west coast I am no stranger to the language, in fact I can usually understand about 60-80% of what is being said to me in Spanish, but when it comes to replying, I stand there with a completely stupid look on my face like someone had just slapped me about the head. *sigh* This is going to be painful.

Then I decided, I want to immerse myself in Guatemala, I don’t want to be the tourist who relies on others to translate, I want to understand the jokes and the people speaking to each other in the background of a crowded street. So the obvious conclusion..Get a tutor, right?! Yeah, not so easy in a town of 54k that is landlocked and has a very low spanish speaking population. So I’ve began taking lessons on a website called Busuu.com after 6 days I can speak some sentences and basic “getting around” phrases. So there may be hope for me yet, if I could just figure out adjectives!

It’s been a fairly busy last few weeks. But I did manage to stay up extremely late last night and work on a few images, so I thought I would share.  Since I have no images of Guatemala yet. Here are some from some of my previous adventures and just life.

*luggage truck for Delta airlines moves across the tarmac while a wait for an arrival.

*Beneath the Space Needle in Seattle Washington.

*Cat prepping for a meal in Tacoma Washington

*Scene looking south on Gearhart Beach in Seaside Oregon

6 months out.

Tomorrow will be 6 months until the possible big day, I’m still worried to say it’s really going to happen, as I don’t want to be let down if  I don’t raise enough to go. I’ve decided to pick up an additional job to help save for the trip, between that and my business and fundraising, I think I can do it!  I have my first interview tomorrow, which is no little thing for me as I’ve been working for a long time for myself to build my photography business, being employed with a boss again may just be a good change!

Sadly, my dad can’t go with me on the trip due to time constraints. It’s a bummer for sure, but as much as I will miss him not being there, I am keeping my eyes on my goal which is to serve the Mayan People and help make a difference in their lives. To be honest I’m half scared and half excited. But the experience will be worth every emotion I’m bound to go through, and lord knows that will be many.
I did receive an email from Patti today, letting me know about discounted apartments for volunteers, each email I receive lets me know that I am that much closer to actually going . I haven’t left the country (Besides to get to Alaska in 1999) since I was 2 or 3 coming from Germany. I guess it makes the world feel that much bigger.

I like the idea of being able to tell my grandkids one day that I went somewhere and I did something that is bigger then me, then us. And when my youngest son is old enough, I hope that I will have told him enough about what it’s like to give to others, that he will join me.
Because to me it doesn’t seem like there is enough people in the world giving, there are so many needing and doing without, I would much rather work hard everyday and live simplistically knowing I am helping another then work little and be adorned with riches, when we all really are adorned with riches galore if we’d just look inside. None the less, i should get back to work. Have an excellent evening!

Toys= History and children inspired.

I was initially go to write about what inspired me to go to Guatemala, and forthcoming I will. But, as I was writing, my youngest son came in layed down next to me and I asked what I was doing. I typically am multi tasking , work and while work is loading, up loading or downloading or rendering, I am blogging, advertising or sharing time with my family. So I anwered. “Multi-tasking”. Jeron, is not the type to be dissuaded by a simple answer and began to read my blog as I typed it. “Mom?”, “where is Guacamole?”, I realized quickly he meant Guatemala and explained it’s location showed him a map and began to show him pictures. Of course he had two more questions, the first Why am I going and the second, will you bring me a toy. I explained to him the situation in Guatemala and we looked at images and stories of the people, I told him one of the first forms of basketball was played in Mayan cities (I did omit that instead of a ball they used the decapitated heads of enemies) . As for the toy he would like me to bring him a whistle or flute.  After an hour of learning about what I am doing there, he stood up and prepared to leave the area, but first asked. “Mom?” “Can I help them too?” , I smiled and said, you already are.By simply understanding why mom is going and not being mad at me for going you are helping. . I think my children are amazing creatures, During our time he said one day he wants to go too. I think someday we will go do good together. I hope I can inspire my son to be the best person he can. That is simply the best Legacy a parent can leave to their child.

Good deeds in Guatemala.

Most of my life I’ve wanted to travel, I had only to get the bravery to do it on my own. On one of my last trips, my travel companion Lisa and I experienced a moment where, traveling and doing good happened simultaneously. My annual trip this year or “wander abouts” as I call them, had me guessing for what I could do where “I” could go…And then I realized “I” was the continual focus.

I guess maybe there comes a time in life when you begin to realize, there sure are a lot of I’s and it’s time to do something for someone else. So how do you go about doing so? Well I spent 36 hours researching Volunteer abroad charities, And there are many to choose from! Ecotourism, down and dirty hard work, emergency help and so on, and all the places to go!

I had it narrowed down to 4, and I begin removing charities (this actually feels bad, if only there were 4 of me!) And one kept coming out in my mind. A group called Mayan families. Like any history geek, the Mayan culture has always been profoundly beautiful, I find their history intriguing and  creative hands amazing! So when I saw that the group needed a photographer to document their work in panajachel Guatemala. It became the obvious choice. I can definitely take pictures, and I feel confident about my ability to teach a class of native peoples basic photography. Which will in turn help the group expand it’s information to the world.

So the next step was to email them with intent and availability.  Right now, we are just discussing the expectations and such. But I am incredibly hopeful this trip will come to fruition. I have asked my dad to join me, we share the same passion for photography and I think it would be an amazing experience to share with such an amazing man.

I’ve learned so much in these early stages of planning, everything from the United embassy’s Step Program, to the fact that I really should have been using travel insurance all along. I am eager to start fundraising and to meet the people of the Mayan tribes, to know their stories and to share them with you! Our goal is October. I’ll share each step of this journey leading up to the trip, as I’m sure it’s not going to be an easy one just to start the ball rolling!

6 months 6 days to possible departure.

Go west. (because it seems to be a trend)

I love the Pacific Northwest, I always have and always will. Call me crazy, but there is something about the rain that just makes me giggle inside, and something about the endless green forests that stirs my heart to no end. So when we decide as a family to take a mini-vacation the choice (though repetitive ), was obvious.

We left early on a very cold crisp February morning and loaded up into our not trip tested , new to us Jeep. Our three boys in the backseat and my best friend (my husband) and myself in the front. Freedom of the open road.
The best thing about my kids is that they only said “are we there yet?” in jest and other then the occasional tear over not being allowed to watch the laptop during the scenic parts of the drive, they behaved pretty well! AND, They did not continually ask to pee every ten minutes! That being said Seattle came fast. But first Snoqualmie and Road sickness.

Once on the road it didn’t take long to realize the weather was sharply turning, The sprinkle turned to a torrent and a torrent turned into near white out. 4 wheel drive and a careful speed, we are all right…Then someone turned off the sun, it was instant, like the tree’s and the clouds had absolutely no need for any kind of light. I soon realized that we were were looking over a cliff onto a lake to my left, and since we could barely see ahead of us, our family was hushed into an awkward worried silence. We made the pass without too much trouble and came down to near the Issaquah exit, when the eldest yells, pull over I have to puke! It’s here that I should inform you, Vomit scares the crap out of me, put me on a plane 35000 feet up I worry a bit (now) but Im alright, horror movies, nope nothing, but vomit…OH , MY, GOD! I’m a baby! I fearfully speed up as if being chased by some madman that I can’t shake cut across 3 lanes of traffic and shoot off onto an exit that clearly marked……GAS <———…Obvious conclusion, follow the arrows, right? I am forced onto a 2 lane road where, now that the snow has turned to a downpour, the road is a high gloss black shining mirror, packed with high speed traffic going uphill, no, not uphill, up mountain…no emergency lanes nothing I am forced to keep driving. Meanwhile the backseat is filled with OOOOOOH and AHHHHH and oh please Jon don’t puke commentary from the two smaller kids. I feel like I have driven for miles when all of a sudden there is absolutely no traffic, no signs and a fork in the road.

Someone, once told me if your lost in a maze only make right turns..I’m not sure if that works in mazes, but it did get me to the town of Issaquah and a gas station! After several minutes of air we all felt better and my son thankfully did not vomit.  We found our way back to the freeway and made the remainder of the trip to Tacoma, just fine…….Until we pull off the freeway and I’m two lanes away from the side of the road when my son screams, mooooooom! I tell him to use the bag that the snacks we bought came in, he instead uses our luggage meant for electronics…at least he dumped it out first!

Tacoma was great, First I was able to see my family and that is a real big deal to me. Also, I’ve never had a bit of time to check the place out. We headed to the port area with the kids and as always, my favorite way to see a place is to get lost in it. We meandered around some bends and found ourselves at a small park on the water..It was a nice time and the kids skipped rocks.

That evening , I had the chance to have a chat with a friend from Seattle, at Katy Downs in Tacoma, It overlooks the water and I bet had it not been dark out the view would be amazing. Danielle, is someone who will always be on my list of people to see while in Washington, she’s funny, witty and instantly comfortable to talk to, The other is Rob, a college buddy of my husbands who, I will never miss an opportunity to hang out with, and thus the next day we did!


You absolutely cannot head to Seattle without taking in at least one of their museums or venues, from morning coffee to night life (no matter what your tastes) there is always somewhere to immerse yourself. Well, this is a family friendly adventure so we decided on the Pacific Science center, and Asked Rob to join us..I only hope my kids learned as much as I did!

After the PSC we headed to the “old spaghetti factory” for lunch and then back to west Seattle to meet Robs new family members (a pair of comical and adorable cats) and then to my favorite spot (thank you Rob) in W.Seattle, Lincoln park, we walked the shoreline while Rob informed us of the names of each island that could be viewed, then we headed up to the park proper for a little zip line action on the parks mini zip line! A perfect end to the day!

I cannot move on with this blog, until I mention more about my cousin Jennifer.
The girl can cook! And not only that she is a wonderful hostess as well. She made us feel so welcome and her Husband Jeff is off the wall funny. It was great to see everyone while I was there, My aunt Sheila, cousin Tim and all the kids! And before I move on to Portland..I just have to say you will never taste the worlds best quiche, because it’s made in the Kitchen of my cousin Jennifers home!

We had initially planned on staying in Washington for our whole mini vacation, but Snoqualmie was experiencing Avalanche warnings and bad weather warnings so we decided to meander south for awhile and see my hearts home. Oregon. I will always, choke on my emotions as I cross the border into Oregon. It always seems to flood my mind with childhood memories and they come back complete with the smells and sounds of those moments. This was no exception, but this time a new memory was created, with my own children. We headed down 5 and decided to cross over into Oregon via highway 30 and over to Astoria. My youngest son, Jeron, is an old soul, he may only be 9 but his wisdom seems lifetimes old, as does his taste in music. He’s an enormous “Journey” fan. On the trip we had made a game of counting down to state lines. We saw the sign, my heart began to fill with those same familiar emotions and joy, when we reached 2 (in the countdown) Jeron, yells, MOM!! My favorite song turn it up, my husband jacks up the radio and “Don’t stop believin’ is playing and then my whole family is singing along, word for word, and I am crying… This was the start to what could be one of the most perfect days my family has ever had together.

We pulled into Seaside, excited to see Trenton, another of Rods college buddies, and pick up Ice cream for all the kids (Trenton has two very well mannered, beautiful little ones) and Trenton suggests Gearhart Beach. We are totally great with that. We drove the Jeep a couple miles on and down the beach, the temperatures had warmed and my kids for the first time in their lives viewed the majestic beauty of the Pacific coast.  I could roll on and on about our time there, but it can be summed up in one word. Perfect.

We spent only a short time on the beach, Rod caught up with Trenton and then we needed to start the trek home…The rest of the journey uneventful except for leaving my phone in a hotel in Hood River. But man, it was good to be in my own bed again!