Once I wandered

my wanderings from here to there.

Category: Spirituality

Coming Closer!

Ok so my goal this year is to hike a one trip total of almost 37 miles on the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) and spend 7 days cooking for a totally generous group of people who come in from all over to volunteer to build a network of trails that connect with other states. When completely finished this trail will span from Canada to Mexico. But it’s already being used so it’s important the CDT shine, Just like The Pacific Northwest trail and the Appalachian Trail. It will take work, but this trail has AMAZING potential.

Anyway, Since April I have been hiking/backpacking and photographing to get in shape and raise the items I need to join this group. And while I have a month and 2 weeks left before the hike, Today I woke up near the Bob Marshall and I took my first hike on the Continental Divide Trail. Oddly, enough while I was intending on getting some hiking in, I wasn’t planning on going up to Benchmark for that purpose. I had known that my Thru-hiker, Train and the other Southbounders (These hikers are all walking to Mexico from Canada, consider that 3500 miles and 6 months of walking!) were to be at the guest ranch yesterday, I was hoping to catch them and hand out some goodies they could enjoy and pack out the waste for them and maybe even take their excess weight ahead for them so they could enjoy the next few days…I missed them by a few hours, but Crystal and I stayed and enjoyed the woods.

When I got up this morning the birds were singing and the sun greeted me as I slipped out of my sleeping bag. I pulled a bear Grylls and used 1 smoldering coal to build a fire (For real!) and then I started shooting (photo and video) the sounds of a morning in the woods. Crystal and I drove out to the South Fork Sun Campground and there it was, the CDT. We loaded up the tri-pod and cameras and of course the backpack and headed out. It was a bright shining hour for me, I was so excited to be on it. Not because I was going far, we had a long way back to the city and other stops to hike at. But because, it finally felt real! I’m going to be hiking it this year. And one day I’ll be hiking ALL of it!

Thanks to some Amazing people and their donations and through some hard work, I’ve managed to wrangle up my camping seat, backpack, some wicking shirts, sleeping bag, headlamp and a few other supplies. I still need a few trail items badly and am working towards those goals!

If you would like to own a print from my gallery you can purchase one here
The price goes towards printing fees, shipping and helping me toward my goal off volunteering. If you would prefer to just donate an item, I have a wishlist at Amazon! We are getting closer!










Pacific Northwest PT1, Getting There.

This blog is long overdue, I have written three false starts and decided I didn’t like the way the posts flow. I, perhaps, should work on being so anal. None the less. Portland had it’s ups and downs, and much like my adventure back in 2011, Oregon tried it’s hardest to keep me there.

The whole trip was dotted with randomness, from car troubles, frustration and of course friends and laughter.

We set out on our journey on a warm sunny morning, the first after a long bout of rain that left us aching for the road beneath our tires. We had traveled about a hundred miles before things started going wonky. The car we (My longtime friend Heather and I + her kids) drove was a 90 Honda Accord started make a odd noise from the power steering area. I called my Father who lives about 35 miles from where we were and he sent his friend Tom to take a peek. Tom found that there was a mysterious leak in the power steering area, though could not find the leak itself (this was echoed by other mechanics) We put some stop leak in and since there was an oil leak as well we babied the car for the rest of the journey. The kids of course needed breaks as well. Typically, I make the drive to Portland in a day. Though we had fun conversations in between, we had lost the Stereo outside of Pasco and had learned to occupy our own minds and even cheered at each state line, we limped into Kennewick, WA. Road worn and mentally exhausted at 10 pm that night. Taking well over 13 hours to arrive. We took a room in an econolodge and all of us slept soundly. The next morning was warm and we got on good, until we stopped in the Dalles. Where the car had trouble starting. After a few minutes of fussing with it, we were on the road again. Next stop Multnomah Falls.


Multnomah Falls, oregon

Multnomah holds a precious spot in my heart and always will. So constant yet ever changing, Wanting to stay but always reaching for a distant place, she is a mirror of how I see myself. Though I must say, that is not where I encounter my fondness. That comes in from a tender memory at a very early age. My dad holding my tiny hand in his as we stood on the side of the high bridge in front of the falls. I was so frightened, the bridge was so high, and all my doubts keeping me from going on it with my dad. It would take decades for me to cross that bridge on my own, but eventually I did. Heather, the kids and I traversed the trail beyond the bridge a ways, stopping and taking pictures at popular points. We meandered back to the car after an hour or so and took the Road to Portland………

Around 5:30 Pm we arrived at Champoeg (Pronounced Shampooie) State Park, to verify out yurt reservation and hoped we could get a camp space for the night. it was getting late and we were tired. Our reservation was good, but there was no space this evening and we were forced to go get some dinner at popeyes and look for a hotel room. while the kids finished eating and used the restroom, I decided to go out and check the car for fluids and leaks. While I hovered over the engine a transient woman approached me asking for a handout, none of which I had to spare on this trip. I’m usually not the nervous sort, but she struck me as one who has flirted with a certain drug and when her counterpart approached, I decided to shut up the vehicle and finish when I came back out with Heather. I however didn’t finish, totally forgetting about resuming my work I just started the car and drove away. About 10 minutes later we had an offer from a friend/family of Heathers to stay with them in Oregon City. We pulled into town around 7 pm, and when I shut the car off, smoke started coming from under the hood. Heather and I popped the hood (me admittedly a little more then nervous) to find I had forgotten to put the cap on correctly in my hurry to distance myself from the users back at Popeyes.  Thankfully, no further damage was done to the engine and we were able to get to the house by following Mr. Rothi.

The Rothi family, was such a delight to meet. I always like to post about the people I encounter on trips, whether they be a planned meeting or a chance encounter. The Rothi’s are no exception. I was able to watch members of the family compose a song on the piano and guitar, listen to Heathers daughter play piano pieces and of course managed to lose the keys in plain sight.  I felt very welcomed and though I personally knew none of them, you would not know it by talking with them.  It reminds you that kindness comes from so many different avenues in this world. And where there is kindness inspiration follows. …………..Thank you to the Rothi Family for having us in your home and opening your hearts with such grace and kindness! I now wish I had taken a picture of you to post here!

A special Thank you to Janie and Shawn, Mom and Dad, Tom and ALL of the Rothi Family! Without your time and kindness we would have not had such an interesting yet wonderful experience!


The car that tried to leave us in Oregon.


Multnomah Falls, OR, Bridge view


View from a highpoint on the trail above Multnomah.


View from the lookout

Thunderstorms, rainbows and tiny shoes.


ahhhhh, almost to the end of the trail.

I’m one of those people that tend to do that graceful people would have a hard time understanding. You would think that being 5 foot tall and oh, so close to the ground that I would have maybe a little better balance. But I don’t and I roll with it, sometimes literally. Thankfully, I didn’t trip once on today’s hike. I did get a little wet, but I won’t put the cart before the horse.

I had completely intended on getting out of the house by noon today and being home by 6. This did not in any way, shape or form occur.  I packed my backpack with 20 pounds today and 2 liters of water in my water bladder. Added a little more weight by adding my wallet, cell phone, and a few trail snacks. went to go grab my old hiking boots, I was so not going to do the whole running shoe thing again. And low and behold my boots somehow have rid themselves of their laces. Now it’s a known fact hiking boots do not have arms, but it’s also a known fact I have 3 children of the boy variety. I didn’t even bother asking. Off to the shoe store for some new laces. At this moment, I am incredibly thankful that the shoe laces found their way off of my boots, because when we pulled into the trail head and I slipped on my boots, I realize one feels tight. In fact one is a different shade of brown, wait…..One is a total different boot! AGH. Same brand, same style, wrong size! I decide in all my wisdom that I will just try the trail, I mean they are technically the same shoes right? So I shove my old fur lined slip ons into my pack adding roughly 1 pound more.

About a mile into the hike, a storm that looked like it would stay over the mountains, decided to take a sharp left and headed right for us. Thankfully I had my rain fly for my pack with me and covered it up. We took shelter under  the edge of an Alder stand and talked while the storm passed. By this point, I was losing feeling in my second toe from the toe box on the wrong boot squeezing on my foot. So I decided to crack & stretch the leather a bit. This seemed to work for the next half mile but I could feel a blister rubbing on the back of my foot. I finally had to give in and admit I would have to make the rest of this 5 mile  in slip ons. Agh!

I do have to give giant kudos to Osprey, the people who made my backpack and to Bighorn Supplies in Great Falls, for talking me into it. The more weight I added the more comfortable it was, because I flung an additional  2 pounds in with those shoes.

At the end of the trail, we watched the thunderstorm move to the north and a vivid rainbow appeared at it’s base. The air again full of whatever fragrant flower that was in bloom. We walked carefully back to the Jeep, taking in the beauty of the area around us. On the way out and back in we noticed a Heron hanging out in a farmers field that is adjacent to the trail, he kept calling out loudly for whoever it is Herons call out to.  We spied a few White tails in the woodlands, standing like statues hoping not to be seen and then bounding away tails like flags as their cover was blown. We heard a chorus of frogs in the low areas singing joyfully for the rain that had fallen and again spied bald eagles circling high over it’s next meal.

A soft golden light had begin to cover the land in the suns evening descent, Rod found a lovely tree in a green meadow, by now the sky was a shade of vivid blue. I spread a blanket from my pack and we sat and ate a snack and rehydrating and laughing. I do feel lucky to have such an encouraging person in my life. He really is the light in my life.  We chose a new path to take back to the Jeep, one closer to the woodlands and it was a lovely view in general.
I love the fact that even the days that begin badly, can be changed with just a few hours on a trail. Everyday I feel fuller and more enriched. I feel closer to nature and I feel a sense of adventure reawakening in my soul. Thank God for that. I though I had begun to lose sight of the amazing life I actually do live.


A bright place


The guy who encourages me to keep going when I feel like quitting. The guy who taught me to open my heart and spread my wings.


on blustery shore


Storm moving off.


beauty in the beast,


Missouri River @ Ulm, MT


over the rainbow





All I wanted was a cactus {Montana- Arizona}

I’m not a morning person, so of course as the fates would deem it , the only flight I could find was at 7 am. You know the drill, be at the airport 1-2 hours early and then wait for a man/woman with rubber gloves to go through your current worldly possessions, only to realize a dime has wedged it’s way down into the deepest recess’s of your pocket, turn around do it again. Thank God I had grabbed a little caffeine (with an obligatory immodium) before the flight.

I had figured I’d best be on the ball, so I had checked in via the internet the night before my flight, where I was able to print out my ticket, along with a tree killing amount of ad’s, weather forecasts and games. The next morning I’m standing in line and I begin to feel inferior about my ticket, it’s folded and not near as classy as the ones printed out at the station, it looks like a child left to play in mud puddles after rolling in dirt, compared to all the other tickets. But it’s legit and after some ho-hum security stuff, I’m walking down the Jetway to my plane. AND, coincidentally my father who somehow ended up on the same flight as me on his way from Helena to LAX. Nothing like an early breakfast with your dad 30000 feet up, While the peaks it’s morning rays over the horizon.

I had a 3 hour layover in Seattle, the weather was…..Well. it was Seattle, I decided to step outside after my dad made his way to his connection. I needed air. There is only so much a person can take at 9AM and 20 screaming children, 5 angry passengers and 2 gossip queens speaking into their phones like it was a loudspeaker isn’t on that list. I made my way to the terminal doors and out onto the street. Ahhh Rain, hello! After a awhile I got caught up in a conversation with a airport personnel and the next thing I knew it was time to go in. The guy I was talking to walked with me as our conversation was pretty interesting and when I got to security I almost screamed. There were at least 100 people in that line. I was sooo going to miss my flight. My new found friend, however, had other plans and beckoned for me to follow him around the edge of the line to a sign that said premiere passengers. Alright, Aunt Tawny here we are he said with a wink, and asked if I could go in. The security guard did his thing and I was through security in 5 minutes! YES!!!

After about 2 hours in the sky I was treated to a wonderful sight. The Grand Canyon from the air. Now I have been to the Grand Canyon before and I have seen it’s splendor, but to see as you are descending from the sky, is magnificent, like the earth made a heavy sight and exposing her ribs and that moment was frozen. The plane descended into Phoenix and As always I was nervous, the pilot did an exceptionally sloppy job of landing to the point where the older lady next to me grabbed my hand with both of hers. And there you are caught in a moment that was somehow comforting and frightening and not in the least bit awkward, though it should have been.

I found myself stripping off layers as I crossed the Jetway into the terminal and down into the baggage area, 85 degrees and desert air got me before I ever hit the doors. I saw my sisters smiling face and that was it! ROAD TRIP! Since the flight ran out of food before me, I was famished, we bought up as much junk food as possible and hit the highway. All I expected out of the Arizona desert was a picture of me with a cactus, that’s it. I don’t think that was too much to ask being as there were only a billion of them lining the highway. Every rest area we stopped at seemed to be void of this Arizona icon. I found myself giving a mental “finger” to the ones that lined the highway later. Just one damn cactus close enough to the road where we can stop.Just one…….Nope, not going to happen!


The closest I could get to a cactus in Arizona….Across the rest area fence line…grrrr




Where were you?

It’s hard not to get caught up in the emotion of a memory. Especially when you share that same moment with millions of people. As adults or even older teens, we can remember that day 11 years ago, without opening up a youtube window. We can say, “I was at so and so’s” or “I remember I was at work” and inevitably we all spent the next day or even more glued to our televisions as hour after hour new scenes filled our brains with terror, sadness and such a confusion that left us in a state of shock.
We watched as the towers collapsed, we heard the voice of a man on a plane yell “Let’s Roll” as the passengers took back the plane and faced their own mortality. Our hearts were filled as Hero’s were made, history was created and children cried for their parents who would never come home.

Here is a blog I wrote in 2008 (4 years ago) remembering the moment, as my memory of that day has not changed.


“It was dark in my room as I laid there and considered rolling out of bed and taking a shower. The basement bedroom kept me in sort of a perpetual sleep until I was motivated enough to go upstairs..This was not a motivated moment. 

  • I heard Rod make his way down the stairs, I closed my eyes and rolled over, pulling the blankets up to my chin. Rod sat on the bed. “Honey, you have to get up. They just flew a plane into the pentagon.” I sat up straight and looked at him. “No Way!” he nodded and a look of panic crossed his face. It hadn’t sunk in yet to the fullest and he headed out to work as I sat down on the sofa and watched the smoke pour from the pentagon building via ABC. It was then that they switched back to New York and then the plane cruising right through one of the towers.

    The images, were not yet real, how could something so terrible ever be real? I could not wrap my brain around, how such monstrosities could be played outside of a movie.
    My heart sunk, and the pit of my stomach lifted. Images pulled from some sort of hell, rolled before my eyes. My spine rigid and pin pricks upon my arms, I began to cry. What other emotion is appropriate?

    I couldn’t stand to sit alone in my house any longer, so I wandered over to my Best friend who lived next door. Her husband sat watching a fishing show on cable TV. “did you hear about the twin towers?” Yeah, he said, but I think it was the pentagon” ” Yeah, that was hit too, Both towers, the pentagon and a plane somewhere else.” I said, he turned the Tv to the local station and we all watched as “the world” came crashing down.

    Later, when the monotony of the images played in our minds, I went outside to smoke a cigarette. The air seemed thick, like everyone was breathing a little bit harder and worry clung to it, pulling all the sounds closer to the ground. What sounds that there were , which was not many. A silence had crept beneath the thick air. Shock has an awful way of traveling to the smallest cracks in the tiniest places and that is what this was, pure shock. I saw the people, they came forth from their homes looking to the sky, maybe for an answer, maybe for hope, whatever reason was answered by 2 jets speeding across the sky. Back and forth they went and the people watched like their steel bodies were the hands of god, protecting them in their hour of need, truly they were.

    And yet, though “the gods” graced our skies the silence still held even on to the blare of the jets always, under everything, was the silence. So we returned to our television sets, watching the images, craving more so that we might know more, we might know that our loved ones were ok, that our friends made it out and that a complete stranger was rescued. But we were met only by death and sorrow. Still we watched, television with out happy commercials, people speaking to each other only to break up the silence.

    But then little by little, hope emerged, slowly at first, they appeared as earthly angels, some in rags, some in suits, uniforms and laymen’s clothing and then hope became prevalent, they emerged from nowhere, carrying with them on their shoulders, hope, love, pride and determination. It would be these men and women who would bring us from the silence, who would again teach us to speak from their sorrows, and would teach us to sing from the tragedies.

    September 11th 2008 dawned much like September 11th 2001. The sky was a blue that would rival that of only the oceans, the people hurried about their days. But still the silence could be felt under the normal hustle bustle. Here and there, you could find reminders that we still live that day. Flags Half Mast and today 600 motorcyclists drove down the main thoroughfare to honor the memories of those who were lost.
    We were wounded that day, but like any scar that is ours to bare, we wear it with pride and with a somber bravery, that IF there is ever a next time it will be so much different.

    I hope that everyone took a moment to remember today. Much love to you my friends. “





I think the way that I have been feeling the last few weeks can be defined as stir crazy. Mentally, I’m ready for Guatemala, I’m ready to make that trip and to help where I am needed. Monetarily, well I’ve fallen short, October is right around the bend, I’ve only made/collected 10% of my goal. But it’s no way out of the equation, I just need to give it time and keep saving, I’ll get there.
In the meantime, I’m here, and to be honest this summer is just slugging by (I’m sure my kids would disagree). I’ve made suggestions to my family about camping and going for drives and what not, but their hearts are not in it. So, I’ve settled by the wayside watching the sun race across the sky and signalling the close to so many days that could have been doing something. I’m happiest when in motion.
I watched a film the other day about 2 men who, like me, had the determination but not too much of the hiking skills, and they walked the Pacific crest trail. I thought they were crazy, I still do. But it inspired me. Why am I sitting here? Because my husband likes his Ipod and the kids are scared of bears? That’s silly. Just because they don’t want to come doesn’t mean I can’t do it. Well, not the PCT………yet.
There is another trail, shorter (by half) 1200 miles. That extends from Glacier to the Olympic mountains. It’s called the Pacific Northwest Trail. I’m by no means ready to hike something so long but I can be by July of next year, I might not make the whole journey, but I can try! And Maybe I’ll have done Guatemala by that time to.
Big dreams and big goals, I know, I know. But if I don’t have those then there is nothing to try for and I’d rather fail at big goals then never have anything at all.
So, I have one year. Here is to day 1 , I believe my first step should be just taking a nice fast paced walk. Water anyone?


Of all the stars and all the planets, of all the forms and shapes I could have been when I was put here, I sometimes wonder why it was this one I was put in. Sometimes, dreaming can be so challenging. I feel like I could just give up, I think of how simple it would be to lie there, letting the grass tickle my legs watching the world from a bugs angle, watching as the sky spins by relentlessly on it’s simple task of turning dark to light. I wish I had that ability, I wish I could just take all that is wrong and make it right, create myself a dawn that I could sit under peacefully and just not think.

Something is missing here, I don’t know what or where I will find it, but I can sense now that a clock is ticking somewhere in the back of my mind it clicks relentlessly, counting down the days, hours, minutes until whatever it is, finds me. In my mind, I remember a moment from my childhood and there is giggles and laughter from the two of us (my sister and I), I still taste the sea spray as it lingers as a fog over the shore. I can feel the sand, each fine grain scraping against the next between my toes, I can feel the temperature as the gentle breeze kisses my skin. High in the air above me there is a kite, Red with a yellow band, it twists and turns excitedly, out of control but kept up there by some unseen force. And my sister, tiny fingers grasping the air as she ran across the Oregon beach, the rocks in the distance, the sunlight, the green cast of the trees, everything…I was happy there. It is my place, my place of hope, my place of tranquility when the world around me cannot be. When I cannot force my camera to think for me. I close my eyes, let the tears come, tears for a past I didn’t choose but I lived, tears for each moment I can’t change but learned from and tears for moving on and not looking back, and as my eyes slip shut to make this reality go away, I see that moment.

My heart is filled with sorrow, I feel like I keep reaching with a warmth that will not be returned. I feel myself more and more reaching for that place to get me through each ache. When I was a kid, I was always the last to the metaphoric parade, As an adult I think I was just late growing up. Some of that was intentional, I loved the thought and the feeling at looking at the world through new eyes, If I could look each day and see the world as a different place, then all the hurts of the day before are cleansed, all the wrongs forgiven and forgotten, and that is how you move on. You just see with the love, the trust and the honesty of a child. Reality comes hard, it’s not like a scrapped knee or cut finger. It’s like a paper cut on the space between your finger and your thumb. It burns and it lingers, you wonder if it will ever heal, no reassuring scab to know it’s healing and it’s just there stinging and glaring and not letting you forget. And it’s those moments when it’s the hardest to see through to the other side.

Tonight I’m missing the people in my life who have been my glue and are not here anymore to hold me together. I feel needy, not a typical trait for me and that feels even worse. Ick! But I know it’s a moment. Tomorrow the dawn will come and I will greet it with the same vivaciousness I have in the past, the dark hours will be forgotten when the sweet amber glow climbs above the horizon and gives the warmth I was needy for. But as it does that clock still ticks. I wonder what it is I am waiting for.

The Light in My Life.

I think I am most like a few people when I say storms scare the crap out of me, but it also stirs a curiosity in me, I love the wildness of a storm and the pure untamed beauty that goes with it. Lightning and storms are, after all, my favorite natural subject.

A Moment.

A moment, can be defined in time, or emotion. It can be a memory or a dream or it can be your reality. It can be frightening or it can be bliss. Yet it can never last forever, but it can be delayed, through images and footage. It can be brought back in a voice, a smell, a song or a poem.

Tonight, I shared a walk with my family , to a high point in our town. A top the hill stood a gazebo and there an “older” couple sat watching the sun traverse to it’s goodbyes. I wondered what they spoke of, did they speak of dreams? Did they speak of their own moments or did they let their emotions pass through fingertips that were hidden from view. I took a few shots of their moment and stood pondering, will this be me and my love? Will we sit patiently awaiting the sunset basking in the glow of our memories? As I wondered, another couple walked by, they were young and new, they held hands in the open and she giggled as he spoke, but she looked at him with the newness of a love just discovered. I took a few more shots and wondered again, was that my sweetheart and I when we were new? Did we shine, even in the shadows of a July evening? All of it was so personal, but so freely given to the viewer. I walked away believing that it was an exceptional moment with the elderly moment in the shining sun and the young couple silhouetted. And then I realized, My husband and I were very much a part of the moment, though we were not in the pictures. We stood between the two couples holding hands, taking in the moment, the couple who has beautiful memories, yet still enjoy the newness of our love, we are secure in our life together but we have yet to “do it all” . I wished then that I could have been a photographer, standing behind all of us, to reach out and capture the passing of not only a moment, but the passing of time.


I am, Life is.

I am….
But a leaf on a breeze on a crisp autumn day, I rise in a breath of bravado and tumble down in a slow wistful decline.  Falling from my heights to become one of the many. I am the answer to my own questions, the knowledge of my own mysteries and only I can control who I am and what I feel. Though, at the same time I am the sum of my history, tiny pieces of a world that has brushed against my essence over 34 years.

Nighttime, it is my thinking time, I turn on a song that begs for my spirit to soar with it. I think about each of those tiny pieces, I turn them about, fitting them next to each other, a collage of colors, of smells, tastes and emotions. I think, about what defines me, what eludes me and what becomes me. And I think, that I am so small in such a large world. I watch as others, strike out on some journey for the answer to life, (which of course is 42….). When I (we) lost Steven, I had often wondered the same thing, losing someone so suddenly and tragically often makes one have a need for more, a need to have control, a need to know the stuff of which they are made. I did too, I clawed angrily at walls that seemed confining and then I screamed and cried and I seemed to go nowhere but down.  It has been 3 years since that day and I have learned in that time, that I do not want to know the answer, I am content with the question. I am happy to see the light before the dawn as it paces itself slowly above the hills in the east. To watch the little pieces of wheat in the rays of the golden sunset slowly move across golden fields.  There is a pulse to this life, which when ignored can become a race. It’s beat slow and steady, it breathes in and exhales to each quiet thump. It is nighttime, when I think, but that is when I can hear it, the pulse that runs through not only these veins but through each thing around me. I believe, I have been sleeping, and I am waking now to find this simple, yet amazing world in front of me.
Everyday a new adventure  a chance to start again.

The other day, I sat on a park bench before a session, I watched as the ducks floated on ripples across the river, as sandpipers yelled at each other on a sand bank, as I took it in, I noticed an interesting plant as I came closer I saw an ant rushing across a leaf  in his hurry to procure food, I watched as he rushed by a couple lady bugs and disappeared into a leaf fold. My attention turning to the Lady bug as it turtle paced up the stem, my eyes drawn to the small aphids and larvae on the leaf and stem, one place, so much life! And all living with the same rhythm, the same pulse. I was awed and reminded that this is what , Life IS.