Once I wandered

my wanderings from here to there.

Category: Weather

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






Slowly now.

The last weeks worth of rain may have not allowed me to be out on the trail as much as I like, but I have set to procuring some gear. Sleeping bag, as I will need that in Portland. Heather and I have decided to stay in a state park where she has rented a yurt. (I love yurts!) But they don’t come with blankets or utensils so you have to bring your own.  I found a head light for night hiking for pretty cheap, oddly it had the best reviews and it was less then 5 bucks. And a pack cover and extra buckles for my pack in case anything gives on mine while on the hike. And a water bladder for my pack. It’s slowly coming together.

One of the things that works in my favor is my height. I’m 5 foot tall, so I can buy JR. Sleeping bags, pads and even tents. Keeping everything substantially more affordable then if I was super tall. Recently, I cut my hair from mid-back length to just under my ears. I’m happy I did, it keeps it out of my eyes when it’s windy like today is.

In other news, Portland is a go and we’ll be leaving on the 7th. I always love going back to Portland. Even after all these years, I still call it home, I almost always break down into tears when crossing the border from Washington and then back again. In general the pacific Northwest has my heart, but so many important things that made me who I am happened in Oregon. I guess that is probably why I have such a draw to the area.

Anyway, it’s homework time for me, then a hike! Tomorrow, i intend on spending completely out of doors, Maybe a picnic mid-hike? I can’t wait!

First day out. flat on my face.

It has been a few days since I have been able to really get out and put on a little distance. The rain has been falling since Friday. I don’t mind the rain at all. I actually am one of those who look forward to it. I love the closed in comfort  (odd for someone who dislikes small spaces) , the sound of the rain beating on my roof and chugging down the gutters. I enjoy watching the sand pipers play in the puddles when it stops for a few minutes. It threw me back a bit this week though as I have not purchased rain gear yet. Needless to say I was chomping at the bit to get out. I’ve been eyeing the Osprey propped up in the corner, knowing this was the week I was going to start putting on the weight and going for it.

Despite the wind this evening I was ready. I had chosen a trail south of here and hoped to do the whole 2.5 one way and 2.5 back. It started off good, I weighed the pack with about 15 pounds, since this was the first time wearing it. I could have taken an additional 15 easily, the pack was completely comfortable and not at all bothersome. The trail however, ugh. Now I must say this is my own fault, I wore running shoes instead of hiking shoes and to top it off I wore the ones that were a tad too big without layering socks. Bad idea!

We got about a mile in, when most suddenly I end up face to face with a grass spider, he of course, is exactly where he should be. I, however am vertical, not sure how to stand up with a pack on my back. It didn’t take much time to figure it out and we are off again, taking in the scenery of the moon rising, deer pausing to listen to our voices on the wind, when again I go down. This time slipping on a large tuft of rotten grass from the floods a few years back. I laugh and get back up. We walked a bit further made it to a lush clearing where the river sparkled blue, contrasting the hills of the plains that surrounded it, the air around us pungent with the smell of wildflowers, we scared a pheasant into flight and it was very inspiring.  I was happy I hadn’t fallen for the span of this mile and was content to make it to the 1.7 mile marker, the sun was drawing closer to the horizon and I sped up in hopes to finish up the trail. The scenery had changed to a more recognizable tundra/ plains look and we were about to descend a hill when Bam! down again.  I’d had enough and at this speed we were not going to make it back to the Jeep by dark.  I took off the pack, only then realizing I had been carrying any weight at all. Gave my husband a sweater and turned around and started back. We made ok time for the first mile and I was enjoying the fragrant smells, when again I tripped, slightly twisting my ankle. I’m aggravated now and my husband is making cracks like…”Just walk it off” and “when I’m mad I go for a walk!”. His humor was probably the only thing keeping me from kicking a deer at this point.


river side woodlands, still have not come into spring yet.


Still have not face planted by this point.


See, I’m still happy enough to take a self image!


Quintessential North Central Montana


River views


With injured pride, the walk back


The last half mile.

 The light had almost faded from the horizon when the truck came into sight, still about half a mile off, I trip one more time and let out a yell that would have probably scared small children had there been any nearby. This seriously was getting out of control. I’d never been so happy to see the truck. On the plus side, besides the animals listed above, we got lovely views of owls, hawks, ducks, geese and eagles!
I’m feeling better now that I’ve sorted out what the issue was. I’m still ready to get out there again with more weight tomorrow. It’s a new day and My ankles aren’t swollen so I’m totally up for it!

A great start to a new year of adventures!

It’s been a wonderful start to the year! And I want to say thank you to those who have participated with such love and kindness thus far! Already we have  visited Washington and Idaho and I’ve been out with one of my closest friends discovering the back roads of Montana. There will be a lot of Back Country Photography this year as I am volunteering with the Montana Wilderness Association which requires hiking 18-20 miles to get to our destination. I will also be training for other hiking endeavors as the season wears on to get into tip top shape for that hike as well as a possible 2 day on the CDT.  So let’s get started with some of this seasons images already!  Please remember some of these images can be purchased to help me continue with my travels and Volunteer work. I will no be accepting cash donations but I would love it if  you took at the link above to see ways you can help me continue on! Thank you! Now, on with the show!

In March we (my family and I) decided to take a break from the stresses of real life and visit my favorite place. Washington! But since I had my kids I wanted to take a look at the more educational side of the journey. So we traveled all the way from the agricultural state of Montana, to a tiny little farm on Bainbridge Island in Washington. This may seem counter productive, but this wasn’t about educating the brain, this was about educating the heart.


Blakely Hill Farms.

I think I can safely compare this farm to Montana as in saying, it’s a “Last Best Place”. You see, Blakely Hill Farms is not your typical farm. Sure, it’s got horses, goats , cats , dogs, pigs and Llamas. But it’s the one thing these animals have in common that really make it such. They are all rescues. Martha and Shelby Vaughan are truly a new inspiration in my life. While it’s unlikely I will be taking in more rescues then the cats that we have taken in from the fields. They inspire me in many other ways as well. It is their compassion and true love of these animals and the caring way they treated us (who were complete strangers to them) that had me thinking, there really are still amazing people in this world.


My Son Matthew meets with one of the farm residents , both seem just as curious as the other,


The horse name “Jake” peaks around the corner of the farm house. Jake is a Slaughter house rescue.


A resident of the feline variety peers out into the light. Shelby and Martha located this little guy in a forest when they found him they realized that his tail had been split in two.


Love can heal in so many ways, the one thing I did not see a lack of here was love, so much healing!


Ioka is another slaughter house rescue, who before coming to the farm could barely stand. The inside of her hooves had collapsed causing it to be very very painful for her to walk. On the day she came to rescue, she shook as she took her steps into the trailer. Now, while still in some pain she is able to walk slowly about the property!


Cactus:: Sometimes, opening your heart to animals in need, means that you will experience loss as well. Cactus passed on shortly after this image was taken. Shelby and Martha not only invest time and finances into the rescue of these amazing animals but the heart and emotions to keep going.

I will be posting a full photography blog on the goings on at Blakely Hill Farms as soon as my schedule allows, I have already been delayed and I do so want to tell the whole story of this amazing place. !




Blossoms opening in Meadowdale park, Lynnwood Wa.


2 of my favorite things about Washington, Rain and Moss. Sure it’s probably the locals annoyance, but to me it’s memories of my childhood. I love it!


One of the new additions to the Pier in Seattle is a Millenium Wheel! Kinda awesome!


Pikes Place Market


Pikes place Market , a must if you’re on a tourist styled agenda!


We have to thank Rob for taking us down to Golden Gardens Beach in Ballard. My kids LOVED the water and the boats and of course the sand. I’m sure it will take forever to go through all the images!


A tribute to our friend Rob! 🙂 Froggy!





Back Country Montana


The Rocky Mountains Near Augusta Montana


Nilan Reservoir


Sweet Montana sunsets


I’m ppositive I have seen the gates to heaven and this is it. Near Augusta Montana

Welcome to California “Such a Lovely Place”. (California Desert)

When I think of California, My mind doesn’t drift off into some lovely desert scene of palm trees meeting a crystal blue ocean shoreline. usually it’s of sand and pigeons. Well, and The Loma Prieta quake AKA The quake of ’89.  That could be for several reasons, I was young when I moved there and we left rather quickly. Or well, some stories are left better in the mind of the writer.

What I do know is driving through the desert at night a hundred miles from anything, does very much become like the lyrics of an Eagles song. Minus the “Colitas” and well all the interesting things that occur in “Hotel California”. However, your mind will travel and the road will go on and on. It’s inevitable.  The very first thing I saw when arriving in Southern California ( Besides the border check) was the gas prices. There may have been a moment where my spleen jumped through a hula hoop and did the Twist, when I saw the sign….Really!? I have very suddenly, if not forcefully come to the realization of WHY the smart car was invented.

Because a hundred miles of desert and sand and nothing wasn't enough.

Because a hundred miles of desert and sand and nothing wasn’t enough.


And so the road went on and on, it had been since July since I had seen my sister who I was riding with at that moment and our conversation (as well as my exceedingly terrific knowledge of google directions reading *sarcasm*) carried us through to Lancaster, California. It was the day after Thanksgiving and the roads were surprisingly quiet and easily navigable, for those who were driving of course.
It should be known, that when I am with family or close friends in cars, I am the worlds WORST side seat driver. I come equip with passenger brake, gas ,  “oh shit bar” and short term GPS. As in, Turn here, you’re not going to park here?, Why are you so close to the middle or alternatively, why are you so close to the shoulder. If you ever want to take a trip with me, save yourself the headache, let me drive.

Being a small town girl, I guess there are things that are simple that still blow your mind, from time to time. Like the Dollar Tree has a freezer section. THAT really blew my mind. I mean what could be sold at the dollar tree that is perishable but still edible!? I know my store here in Great Falls is chock full of items you will probably never need, or if you do count it broken or gone in less then a week.



I’m discounting the desert far too much. We spent an afternoon in the downtown area of Lancaster called the Boulevard, a lovely street packed with little trendy shops and antique stores. And while I did not buy much, I did find many things at reasonable prices that I had considered purchasing and shipping home. But alas, I’m too lazy for all of that and passed by the items. I do wish my town could have a little place like the Boulevard, I believe I would spend much of my time getting lost among the trifles of yesteryear.






On our little stroll someone had suggested we eat at the Chinese place on The Boulevard, but we decided to pick up another relative and head over to another place. While the sushi was good (Except for the ones with roe, I hate roe) I believe I can speak for all 6 of us when I say at least each of us found something bad on their plate. YUCK!



Once in awhile, you try to find where you came from you search your soul, your memories and your heart for that place where you, the person you are now, stemmed from. I can’t say how many times I have done so. I rode through the warm California air, even in November it was in the 60’s at night and we drove past the places that had somehow been locked away in our memories. I’m not sure I never knew what being haunted by memories meant until that moment. Surrounded by stagnant air as the headlights focused on an empty lot that was once the home of a friend. To know that while we lived in our own despair she was living in a nightmare. I guess you never really know and when you do, you tuck those secrets away in to some secret spot, that even you forget about.  The moment passes, but you’ll never forget that air, that empty space and the sudden realization of it all coming back.

The next evening, My father and I drove the same old road, Joshua tree’s zipping by in the purple sunset. In distance the sand was whipping up and clouds began to boil over the mountains. Just one shot is all I wanted of the old church, another connection to a place within myself , a more real, physical place that very much aligned with the emotional.  My feet crunched down on the sand, I tip toed past scorpion holes and other desert worries , it takes moments to remember my footing, to become more graceful about watching my feet and I stand there before this place and stare at it like I am taking down an old foe.

Sometimes, travel is about the experience of the moment, but sometimes it’s bringing the experience to the moment.




All for a reason.

We are often told that everything happens for a reason, and while sometimes it is unclear as to why or what that reason is while it’s happening, it can become abundantly clear later.

For example; Spring of the year I had been looking forward to fund raising for a volunteer stay in Guatemala, where I would be able to teach and share a new skill with the indigenous people of a western region there. I had set my goal arrival date from October 21st-November 15 th of this year , if I had arrived in Guatemala on time, I  would have been volunteering the time of this weeks big quake, within that same region.

It’s been a VERY  intense month with my family, My son turned 16 and well, he turned 16, I think that’s enough said. Meanwhile, I learned that a family member has an illness which will require surgery and to that end my family is traveling to be with her during that time. My father lives in another “metro” area to the southwest of here and my sister is driving from El Paso to California. I decided to fly halfway and then ride with my sister the other half of the way. Last night I learned I will actually be flying with my dad to Seattle, so I will spend my morning with my dad, my afternoon/evening with my sister! Sounds good to me!


I am especially looking forward to the drive across the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. I’m one who is more for the trees and mountains and cold air, but there are times when even the desolate space becomes a curiosity.

I’m knee deep in training for a walk across the Pacific Northwest trail in July and maybe this respite from the cold Montana “almost” Winter season that replaces Autumn for us will be a good thing!






1200 miles update, getting lost and more!

it has been an interesting last few weeks to say the least.

The first of my updates, was what I announced in my last post, but with some refreshing steps to making it a reality! . First the introduction on my trail mate/ Hiking partner Krista. Krista and I have known each other for about 7 years, she lives in a community about 116 miles from me, but we keep in touch via facebook. Krista and I are “Birthday twins” as in we share the same birthday, if you want to go by horoscopes that pretty much means we enjoy and dislike a lot of the same things. Ironically, while I have been considering a long distance plan of walking the “triple Crown’s (three of the longest trails in the USA) Pacific Crest trail, Krista’s long term goal is the appalachain trail. So, both of us are definitely in the same mind set. I’ll have a link to Krista’s blog up in the near future.

This last week I’ve spent trying on hiking shoes and packs, and while you’d think this a simple feat, I beg to differ. How many different shoes can there be!? And why can’t I find one I like? I’m closer then I was in finding a pair, but still! Backpacks are a whole ‘nother ball game. I’ve tried on womens and mens and universal and ironically so far I find I like the Kelty Scheels classic the most. I guess I’ll keep looking though.
Tomorrow, I pick up a food dehydrator, I intend on making a lot of the meals we plan on taking with us, by dehydrating them so they are light weight. I have a feeling this will take some practice, so I hope I’ll have it down in a year!

Well, Hiking across the Pacific Northwest, isn’t the only thing happening in my life right now, I’m also waiting on prep for Guatemala, October isn’t looking like when I’m going but WHEN I go is not the big deal so long as I do go. I’m still chugging away at donations and funding for the trip including doing extra work to add my own money to the cause.

My husband and I planned a nice evening at a really awesome venue in southern Montana this weekend and while the show ended up amazing, the trip there was a little, erm, uhhh, time consuming. We ended up getting lost in southern Montana. Which is funny because Montana’s state motto is “GET LOST!!…………In Montana” alrighty, check! done and done! LOL! The venue we went to is called Rockin’ the Rivers. and the night we went (it’s a three day event) Candlebox, Sick Puppies and Edward Kowalczyk (of the band Live) played, and the weather behaved appropriately as in at the finish of the song lightning crashes, A thunderstorm began. None the less it was a great break from the 90-100 degree temps we have been having and a beautiful area to watch some great musicians!

On a side note: If you would like to be a sponsor or a trail angel (picking us up from the trail, taking us to town, letting us sleep at your home or just be an encouraging factor) for our hike next year let us know! Sponsors will receive dedicated posts with links and will be featured here and on our Facebook page!

Also, see the fundraising tab if you would like to help me on my own personal journey to volunteer in Guatemala!

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.


Montana Ablaze.

I’m not sure what it’s like to have a summer without wildfires, for as long as I can remember in my time in Montana, there has always been “fire season”, It has always created the hallmark amber evenings of August, kissing the golden grass with a deeper honey colored stain.  Every now and again, The season comes early, the land becomes dry , the late days of Spring feel like those of a hot summer and it is on the wind. You can feel it, smell it even. The people will chatter about their predictions and then a silence falls upon the land, the earth takes a shuttering breath and everyone waits. It’s the first big one breaks out and there are camps of volunteers and firefighters along back country roads, each camp bustling with activity. Nearby ranchers move their herds and the helicopters fly low for a water pick up.  It’s not unfamiliar in our Montana.

What is frustrating is the lack of respect, from humans. Believing that they are exempt from the laws mother nature has imposed,  They are careless with flame and sparks, fireworks and cigarettes, In our town alone on the 4th of July we had 24 fires. That is in an area of a 10 mile circumference. It’s worrisome to say the least.

But still when it comes to the nature cause fires, one must think, this is about renewal not destruction, that after the earth takes a breath, she looks about and sees cluttering underbrush and dead trees, she uses fire to renew them.

As I blogged from Townsend last week, the afternoon sky turned the color of sunset and in the distance I began to heat the tell tale thuds of choppers. I walked to the end of the block and there not 2 miles at most away was a wild fire.  The indian creek fire only surmounted to 500 acres before mother nature sighed and opened up a rare heavy thunderstorm (for the area) and left the air heavy with the smell of damp smoke and yet, the whole place felt refreshed.

The image with the helicopter is a story of it’s own, but in brief it of a rancher moving his herd to a safer location while the helicopter dips water for the fire from a nearby river.

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