Once I wandered

my wanderings from here to there.

Category: Uncategorized

Why go south, when you can go North…GIANT changes in my direction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I’ve been MIA for about 9 months now, but I promise I have a legitimate excuse. I’ve been employed, took a trip around the Pacific Northwest and Highway 101, I was in a car accident , The cat ate my homework. Ok so only 1 of those isn’t the truth, 
 Ok the cat didn’t eat my homework, in truth I really was and am employed. I initially jumped into a career as an advertising Exec, with a local newspaper. Which was an awesome gig. So awesome that I realized my calling was in advertising, just not in print, so when I was offered a position as a Social Media Manager, well I couldn’t resist. Sadly, this position doesn’t come with solid weekends off, but split days off, a bummer but traveling costs money, so work it is!  However, working for some great companies has allowed me some cool things like taking a 1 week trip with two of my closest friends up Highway 101, that trip is for another day, but I also was able to buy myself a very conservative car with very conservative gas mileage and I love it…well until I was hit by a one ton flatbed pickup at a stop sign and wiped out the back of it. But all for a reason.  None, the less life is going well here are some images of some of our journies the last 9 months. 

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35 years, now where do I go.

I am really not sure how I have floated through life thus far without feeling so incredibly hard about what I am doing and who I am. I’m one of those people who falls and just figures, oh well, get back up and do it again. And hey, that’s worked thus far. I have a self made career that has allowed me to be with my kids and add income to my home. I enjoy what I do. But I think it’s time to move forward. I’m ready to do something with my life before I’m old and grey. I’m ready to feel needed in a work environment. I’m simply not getting that right now.  I think my husband is too. 15 years for the same company at the same job, he has a BA and still only makes a pittance and unless something changes, we are pretty much done for. Not being the types to rely on others to make changes for us we are ready to come to terms with this part of life. We have only 8 years until our last one jumps the roost.
But I have a problem, nothing out of the ordinary for students I guess. But I have decided to go back to school, I actually decided last year and thus began the issue of deciding what I wanted to do. I’ve this long list of possibilities. On one half I want to travel after retirement, maybe I can get a teaching degree and do TEFL when I’m ready. But I love nature, not just a little but almost to the point where in a misplaced state I could theoretically live off the land. I have an innate understanding of ecology and have considered this immensely. However 8 years in college will make me 43 at graduation and the 5 more years to get experience.  48? That might be a tough age for a newbie in the workforce. And finally Graphic design, I don’t really love it, but I don’t hate it. I understand it, it’s like clock work for the basic stuff right now. I can already do layouts and logos, create spreads and so on and so forth. I really wish my brain would let me decide, so I can get on with it already! 🙂
35, it’s like being halfway across a bridge with a forest fire on the side you just left. You really want to go back, or hell , enjoy the view from the middle, but inevitably you have to go forward.

Family Vacation, How to get an experience without the price tag. Pacific Northwest.

Admittedly, I am a discount queen. I utilize coupons when shopping, coupons when traveling. I love local auctions (you’re TV station or radio station may have them) and yeah, I use ebay, amazon and groupon where I can.  I also LOVE to travel. I mean really, really love to travel. But with 3 kids, a spouse and a pretty tight budget, I don’t tend to do so outside of work.
After an incredibly emotional year of ups and downs , I really wanted to get my family the heck out of dodge. Our favorite place is the Pacific Northwest, Hands down. From the pristine Cascade Range, The sleepy fishing villages on the islands and peninsula to the diversity of the Seattle and surrounding areas, our family never finds a shortage of adventures here. And this year was no different. We arrived back home in Montana from our 9 day adventure to Seattle and we had more then a fantastic time on less then 1300.00 dollars (our original budget was 1700.00) On that budget we managed to take the kids to theme entertainment locations, museums, we went Kayaking, still stayed in hotels took in villages and and the Puget Sound, stayed in a vacation home and manged to have guests to dinner two times! This amount includes gas and taxes and food as well! This budget was stretched out over 4 months.

So how did we manage so much on a budget?
The first thing is to plan. While I do enjoy flights of fancy, planning will be your biggest money saver. End of story.

Places to stay 
I started planning our trip in November with places to stay and a plan started to emerge and take shape. I learned that there are many affordable if not cheaper alternatives to traditional hotels.

Yurts and Cabins.
The Forest service in the Pacific Northwest offers a unique and down to earth lodging option that falls between camping and hotel stays, and they do it for an awesome price.  I’ve linked Washingtons list Here. (Many states besides the ones in the PNW offer cabins at incredibly low costs some from as low as 28.00 a night, check your local National forest page!)
running between 54-74.00 a night, but with breathtaking views your hotel could never offer.

Vacation Rentals.
With a family of 5 (4 went on this trip) we found hotels not only expensive but limiting and restrictive with two young ones in tow. We really did not want to spend our evenings hushing the boys when they recounted their exciting day. Instead, we opted for a vacation home in Lynnwood Washington as our home base.
Many can be found Here, But if you are in the Seattle or Olympic Pen. Areas, I highly recommend Martha Vaughan Vacation Rentals, as all the proceeds go to her Animal rescue farm and her hospitality and accommodations are far beyond any I have experienced previously, you will enjoy every moment of your stay in her homes.

We obviously opted for Martha Vaughans home.

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The home ran us a total of 798.00 for our stay (with taxes and deposits) A hotel of similar comforts but with no privacy and kitchen would run about 792.00. Plus we didn’t have to eat “out” every night. we were refunded a nights stay + tax for the electrician coming in to hook up the hot tub. 698.00 .

When it cam to the vacation home, I saved up over 3 months and put the money down the month before we departed, making this a cost we did not have to worry about out of our vacation spending money. To that end PREPAY!! It will take the stress off of seeing it coming out of your vacation budget while you are on your trip and sometimes you are offered a discount for it.

Now we did have to stay in hotels on the way there since we opted to drive, but even that can be done in an affordable manner. I know everyone is all about travelocity and expedia these days (Hey, I am too, I even have the apps) but don’t discount traditional coupons either! We picked up a coupon book in the entrance of a Mcdonalds and there were hotel discount coupons.  with these coupons we managed to get a “stayable ” not the nicest but far from the worst hotel for 42.00.

For the sake of keeping this short “ish” I will list some more tips to an affordable vacation here.

1. Vacation in the off months. October to March tends to be much more affordable for stays. and entrance fees and fuel.
2. Buy ahead. Utilize Groupon, living social, local auctions and so forth to buy your entertainment in advance, you can usually do it over a year, so if you plan ahead, this makes the cost cheaper and spread out.

3. Don’t discount the free things an area has to offer. For example. Oregon has pristine beaches such as Ecola, Nehalem and Cannon Beach. All along the coast of both Oregon and Washington you will find parks, lighthouses, beaches, old forts and museums, fishing villages with tours and so forth. In Seattle the list is unending  from the Fremont Troll to Pikes Place Market (unless you must buy something you see it’s free!)  Gas works park and the Ballard locks and Golden Gardens beach.  Use these things as fillers to main events.

4. Buy a city pass, which allows you a full 1,2 or 3 days of museum entrance and entertainment. Buy them when they are at their lowest price (December- February)  typically.  Or if you have several in your group who want to do one thing and the others want to do something else, don’t waste your money on things you don’t like, split your group up for the morning or afternoon!

5. Skip the popular do something different. Instead of taking our kids to pricey amusement parks, we opted for Triple play in Coeur ‘D Alene Idaho which can be found here. We skipped on the package deal at the Holiday inn express, booked the La Quinta with a pool and opted out of raptor reef. The kids played in the hotel pool but had hours of fun for the 4 of us for 50.00. Win/win!

6. Get back to nature. I think that’s self explanatory.

7. If you’ve opted for a vacation house or cabin/yurt. Cook or grill at home. The benefits not only economically are endless.

8. If you have rewards cards from smiths/krogers/albertsons etc…Use them on your fuel ups. In Montana we filled up for 2.72 per gallon and in Washington 3.50 (Down from 3.83)  you’ll save tons doing it!

9. If at all possible, squeeze some time in for work, so you can make at least some of your time tax deductible!

 

I’ll be back soon with a blog more focused on Things to do and what we did! 🙂

Happy independence day, My camera gear was liberated by a thief. :(

Ahhhh Independence day, where we all celebrate our freedoms and liberties, with patriotic parades and fireworks. It was at one such celebration, that someone felt that my camera gear and most of the electronics in my vehicle should be liberated and celebrate their own freedoms. So I am reduced to 1 lens and a camera body, no flashes, no other lens, nothing and they stole my laptop charger too. So this is how my very patriotic day began, with the liberation of over 800.00 worth of gear. Thank you dear freedom rebel who believed even electronics need to be freed. 😦

On top of the world.

The job I had been working to save extra money for my trip ended a few weeks ago. It had been a lot of fun despite the intensive work needed. I was walking between 5-9 miles a day carrying at least 25 pounds. I was losing weight as well, which was a side perk of the job. But all good things come to an end and me and my group of co workers finished the job. 
 Needless to say, while my first career as a photographer is beginning to boom, in my free time I find myself wanting to get out and about. So I’ve taken to finding back roads to explore and hiking trails I haven’t used yet. 

I live in Montana, there are no shortage of dusty roads and hidden meadows to explore. I thought I would share just a few of the beautiful sights I have stumbled upon in the last few weeks. Most of the images are in black and white, but sometimes the view calls for color. I have also posted a few random photos I’ve captured , here and there as well. 

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Walking between heaven and Angels

This month was incredibly intense, from the spark of life to the sorrow of loss, every moment was accounted for. But for now, I will stick to two topics. Heaven and Angels.

I live in Montana, the open plains often experience severe weather throughout the year, it often seems the very first few weeks in autumn is our respite from it. The winter Brings blizzards and freezing (or below) from the Rocky mountains while, the spring brings heavy snow, rain and winds. This is not a climate for the feint of heart. But me, I love the summer thunderstorms, how they roll in, clouds boiling up and over in a frenzy. chaotic winds followed by 1 perfect moment of silence and stillness before the rains slam to the dusty ground and lightning pierces the sky. That moment when thunder rumbles across the echoing plains reminiscent of an explosion, you hold your breath and then laugh at your moment of weakness.

One thing we normally do NOT have is Tornado season. This year has already changed that fact rapidly. On June 4th our second thunderstorm of the season (not counting the thunder snow in February) was watched by national eyes as a system flowing Northward slammed into a system heading east near Missoula, Montana, causing rapid rotation, and for the first time in the years since I have been here, I heard the radio go silent and then the music replaced by the National emergency services warning system. it should be known, I live in a modular home on an acre of property in a semi rural area, surrounded by open plains…I’m kind of asking for a Tornado if one were to occur. True to form, I looked Southwest to see the biggest Supercell (Mothership) formation heading right towards where my home is located. I grabbed my gear and headed to the “hill” where my home is located. And this is what I captured.

While this supercell ended up not spinning out Tornadoes the one the next day did, due to circumstances I was unable to capture that one, but being under the storm was pretty darn impressive!

A few days earlier I was able to witness another awesomely amazing moment in life. The birth of my “niece” my life long friends daughter. She’s absolutely the most precious little thing and I can’t stop talking about her! To capture the moment that life begins is truly the most heart rendering thing a person can document. I can’t express how emotional it was.

While the total of 2 possibly 3 tornadoes that occurred on June 5th did much damage, none took a toll on life, however one little life began and that is possibly the best things a blogger can ever say!

 

 

Frustration.

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!

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

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:
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!

SEATTLE, PACIFIC SCIENCE CENTER and LINCOLN PARK.

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!

SEASIDE OREGON.
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!