The Great American Eclipse Trip Part 2

We were off on our adventure…. The eclipse our goal—full totality. But for us, well, we like to pack as much as we can into the little time we have and this trip would be no different.

As I wrote in part one, my husband was already planning on traveling to the path of totality for the solar eclipse a year out. My husband likes to plan trips. He likes to explore. So, I knew when he said we were headed to Idaho that it would be an adventure….. and he made sure it was!

We left home Saturday morning and flew to Salt Lake City on a flight filled with others migrating north for the eclipse.

We arrived in Salt Lake City in the afternoon and headed straight to the rental car agency. We needed to be on the road as quickly as we could….there was lots to do and see on our drive north to Idaho.

The line at the rental car agency was long! I was surprised, despite the warnings, that so many people were doing the same thing as us….off on the great adventure to see a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon. Okay, so maybe the hype wasn’t too far off…. maybe we really did need to be prepared for anything! With hundreds of thousands heading toward totality, maybe the media hype and the dire warnings warranted paying attention to.

Finally, we were in our car and headed to our first stop, the store. We needed to stock up on water and snacks and get a gas can, just in case the predictions came true and gas stations ran out of gas. After all, we did need to make it back to Salt Lake City in two days to catch our flight home.

With supplies purchased and lunch eaten, we were finally on the road, driving north toward Burley, ID, where we were staying.

But first a slight detour on the way….

Yes, my husband likes to explore and often finds off-the-beaten-path, out-of-the-way, you-REALLY-want-to-go-there places to see. And I LOVE that about him. It makes our life interesting, traveling adventurous and gives us views of the world, specifically this wonderful country we live in, that we would not otherwise see. (Thankfully this trip did not involve any river fords!!)

We left the interstate before crossing into Idaho and headed west on a 2-lane highway. We were now amongst fields….ranches….farmland……all dotted with tiny towns that had no stores, no gas stations and no stop lights. We were in rural America and we loved the beauty and serenity.

As we drove down the road we wondered what life was like for these families, wishing we could just sit and talk and learn about this life that was so vastly different than where we lived… our life where there is a store or gas station on almost every corner, and restaurants to satisfy any desire. Out here, in the middle of fields and mountains there were homes that were surrounded by trees, islands in the midst of enormous fields and the nearest neighbor miles away. Strange to me to imagine life this way, yet the beauty and peace of this wide-open space invited me in. This life so foreign to me was just as strange and foreign as my life in a city was to those who lived here.

We enjoyed the drive, taking in the scenery and talking. And then we noticed a historical marker on the side of the road, causing us to make an impromptu stop…. History draws us both in, fascinated by the stories of life all across this great country. Here we learned that the road we were traveling and the valley along it were part of the California Trail, once traveled by pioneers and wagon trains….ahhhh….a happy place for me! I love the old west, the stories of the pioneers, the stories of traveling across the country in a wagon—setting out on a new adventure and traveling to a new place, unknown to them. I have longed thought I was born in the wrong century and often dreamt about living in the 1800’s and traveling in a wagon….life on the prairie…..life of a pioneer and explorer. It would have been so cool!

Now as we continued on to our destination, I began to wonder what it was like for those early pioneers, how strange this world must have seemed to them and how BRAVE they were!

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And then just a few miles short of our next stop we saw a Visitors Center, with wagons in the field, replicas of those used to travel the California Trail.

Heaven!

Now I could see the wagon in person and visualize what it must have been like traveling in that wagon across the rugged land.

Then I looked in the back of the wagon…….boy, those wagons looked much bigger inside when I saw t2hem on old westerns, or on Little House on the Prairie, or imagined them as I read books about the old west….hmmm….

I looked into the back of the wagon, looked at my husband and told him- “No! It’s too small. I wouldn’t have made it!”

He laughed!

 

I am so happy I could entertain him.

And then we continued on to our planned stop, City of Rocks National Reserve, a place you really HAVE to want to go to.

City of Rocks National Reserve is now a mecca for rock climbers….a place filled with massive rocks jutting up out of the ground. Beautiful. Huge. A paradise for those who seek the thrill of climbing….of heights. We enjoyed the drive through the reserve, stopping to take photos, explore and to watch those brave souls high on the rocks.

But City of Rocks National Reserve also has a history. Here the California Trail crossed and in the valley those early pioneers rested, setting up camp and carving their names in what is now known as Camp Rock. I stood with my husband overlooking the vast valley, dotted with huge boulders and surrounded by massive rock formations now used for climbing and wondered what it was like to travel this route in that wagon, the visual of the size now fading….I was once again transported to a time I had longed to live. After traveling across the flat plains, what did those travelers think about this rugged land? Did they fall in love with the beauty or did they fear what was ahead and the dangers of the ruggedness? Oh, how I wanted to sit there in that valley and be a part of those days…..

I loved City of Rocks National Reserve and our time exploring. My husband knows how to make our travels an adventure. I also enjoyed my time imagining a life long ago, one I could only dream about, a world I wished I had been born into….

And then the next day on our trip I had an opportunity to learn more about those early pioneers, their life and to see a part of the Oregon trail. And I learned that the reality of those wagon trains was VERY different than I had imagined….those wagons were more for the supplies and those very BRAVE souls WALKED….they didn’t ride….they WALKED most of the time. And a woman’s work was never done…at the end of a long day of travel, she would cook the dinner, clean, do laundry, take care of the chores and then go to bed, long after the rest of her family…..hmmm….walking long days and then long hours of chores…..hmmmm

I again looked at my husband, who was smiling at me as I read the information and I said “THAT would have been REALLY difficult! Nope! I wouldn’t have made it..”

He laughed even harder!

How I admire the strength and courage of those pioneers paving the way for those who would come after them. And I will continue to read the stories and dream of that life and what it was like for them, what it would have been like for me had I been born in that era.

And though, today, in this moment in my life…one filled with comfort and conveniences, I know that I would not have been able to live the way they did in the 1800’s, I also realize that this realization is not about me, but about what I know today. When I look back in time with the knowledge and context of 2017, of course I wouldn’t be able to live the way the pioneers did! I know different. I live different. So, with this context, no, I couldn’t have done it….

But….

Had I been born in that time it would have been different. In looking back on history it really is about context, the knowledge and the world at THAT time. Realizing that I needed to put it into the context of those days, that time, the knowledge and way of life then, well, THAT changed things. By looking at the past in the context of the past, the knowledge and the way of life, it changed my belief in my ability to do it. This epiphany meant that had I been born in the 1800’s, then those wagon trains, the traveling, the hard work would have been normal, it would have been doable. By putting it into the right context, I realized that I WOULD have been able to DO IT! Despite my doubts in my abilities, I am strong and brave and what gets me through my days now….my family, my friends, my faith….ALL would have gotten me through those days, those travels, those times.

As I shared this new thought process with my husband, he smiled and laughed.

And I once again began to dream about living in the 1800’s and traveling by wagon.

If I had been born in the 1800’s, I have NO DOUBT that I would have taken the leap……and trusted as I set out with my family to travel the unknown in search of a new life!

 

 

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The Great American Eclipse Trip Part 1

I thought my husband was just slightly crazy when he told me over a year ago that we WERE going to go to Oregon or Idaho to be in the path of totality for the Eclipse. He was excited. He explained it was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and he didn’t want us to miss it….

Except, it wasn’t just a once-in-a-lifetime event…. I was in the 8th grade in Portland, OR, in 1979 and my science class was preparing to view the total eclipse that would be happening right there in Portland on February 26th. I was excited back then. We built our boxes and prepared to see what we were told would be the only time in our lives we would get to see the phenomenon.

The morning of February 26 1979 arrived and……. the darkness I was told to expect did not arrive……I was not impressed……and so when my husband told me about this next eclipse and his plans, well, I wasn’t sure it would be worth it. I figured it would just be all hype with no substance.

I should let you know that on the morning of February 26th, 1979, I was missing my mom and we were preparing for her funeral, having lost her just 2 days prior……perhaps that was the real reason the eclipse that day did not impress me. I really don’t remember much about that morning other than we did not plunge into sudden darkness. (though in my research looking back on it, Portland did experience 2 minutes of totality and darkness on that morning, I just didn’t notice).

So to be fair, I decided to go along for the ride with my husband, thrilled at seeing his excitement.

He planned the trip.

He chose where we would see it.

And then he planned more for us to do in the quick 2-night trip.

My husband was in heaven planning this trip to see the total eclipse.

The day arrived and we left Arizona bound for Idaho. The eclipse was the last day of our trip and then we would drive back to Salt Lake City to catch our evening flight home……making the flight concerned us because of the hundreds of thousands said to be flocking to the area of totality….and the warnings to have extra water, cash, gas, emergency rations, just in case we lost cell service and gas stations ran out of gas…. hmmm…. the hype was making it sound as if the apocalypse was coming.

The morning of the eclipse we left our hotel room before the sun came up for the 2-hour drive to Idaho Falls and the city park we had chosen for our viewing spot. We were prepared just in case traffic was as crazy as predicted, giving ourselves plenty of time to arrive before the start of the eclipse.IMG_0302 copy

Once again, my husband’s planning paid off and we arrived at the city park on the south side of Idaho Falls and there were still a few parking spots. Woohoo! We were going to get to see the eclipse.

We walked around the small pond, made small talk with strangers in the line for the bathrooms, and talked with each other to fill the couple of hours before the eclipse would start. Anticipation building as the time grew nearer.

We were ready.20170821_082930 copy

The time arrived for the start of the phenomenon where the moon would come between the sun and the earth and cast us into total darkness……

It was exciting to be standing there with so many others who were just as excited. As the eclipse started and I watched my husband put his special glasses on and look up at the sun, I couldn’t help but smile……he was checking off a bucket list item and he was happy, and THAT made me happy.

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It took some time for the moon to move across the sun and as it moved the light became dimmer, and the air cooler.

 

 

IMG_0306 copyAt one point when the moon covered more than 2/3 of the sun, we noticed that the edges of our shadows were less defined… blurred…. strange…..

We kept watching the moon moving over the sun, amazed at how much light still emanated from the giant star. And then the time came……the moon covered the sun!

 

 

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Totality!

Everyone cheered!

And it WAS dark! We could see some stars! The light emanating from the corona of the sun was like that of a full moon night. Wow!

I was IMPRESSED!

We took our special viewing glasses off and for 1 minute and 48 seconds we could look at the sun without them. This was AMAZING!

And then the edge of the sun began to emerge…. time to put those glasses on again.

The total eclipse was amazing and surreal. Day became night, warmth turned cool, and shadows blurred with undefined edges. The biggest star in our universe was suddenly obscured and we were thrilled!

I couldn’t help but think about all those early pioneers and what they must have thought as day became night for just a brief couple of minutes, how strange that must have been.

And I couldn’t help but think about the 1979 eclipse and how it reflected my life at the time, my own personal darkness had come upon me and made the actual eclipse seem uneventful……

This time, despite the worry and storm for us now, I was able to enjoy this eclipse…to see the awesomeness and beauty created by God! I was able to step back for a time and be present, mindful and aware of the greater universe around me. How mighty God is and how amazing this life is!

The total eclipse gave me a wink from God…. that even on the sunniest days, day can become night, but the day will return and everything will be alright.

I am so thankful for my crazy husband who asked me to take a leap and trust him and his planning. This was AMAZING!

And I am so very happy to have taken the leap into the total eclipse…… (go ahead and sing, you know you want to…. total eclipse of the….)

Much Needed Me Time

I almost didn’t go this morning…..I have so much to do for work and around the house and things to get ready for what we will face, what my son will face these next few weeks. Lots to do, so how could I be selfish and take a little time for me?

But I went anyway.

I realized that I have not left the house these past couple of weeks, other than to go to work, to go grocery shopping or to go to court with my son. I have not done anything just for me……

And not taking care of me, leaves me drained and unable to take care of others.

These past couple of weeks have been tough and emotionally draining, leaving me with little left for anything else.

So, I did something for me today. Something that would help me reenergize my body and my soul and yes, even my heart.

I went to the Zoo and Botanical Garden this morning.

Alone.

I needed the time to escape my life, to see beauty and to breathe.

And I did!

I find peace and serenity when I visit the Zoo and the Botanical Garden. I walk at my pace, stop and view what I want and sometimes just sit in the quiet. Today I did all of that. I find real joy in watching the animals, finding unexpected flowers and walking through the garden.

And though I found joy in my time at both the Zoo and Botanical Garden this morning, I also found that some of the joy was hidden under the shadow of this current storm.

And under that shadow I did find some peace……rejuvenating my soul a little……

I needed this morning.

I needed to find me again, amidst the wreckage left by the storm.

I needed to just…..breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

Anchors

When thinking about Anchors, one usually conjures up images of anchors used by ships and boats to keep them from drifting in the current of the river, sea, bay, etc. Those anchors keep them from moving……forward, sideways or backwards. I grew up with a dad who loved boating. We would take his boat out in the summers for days, sometimes weeks, exploring the Washington and Canadian islands. And we used the anchor to keep us in place in quiet inlets, near isolated islands that we would row our dingy too so we could explore them. The anchor kept us from drifting and kept us safely in protected areas…..safe from rough open waters, and safe from getting lost at sea while sleeping the night away.

Yes, anchors were necessary.

And anchors in our personal lives are just as necessary.

I spent this past week leading my Weight Watchers members in discussions about our “whys” and about anchors.

An anchor is something that grounds us to our “why”, our motivation. An anchor is a reminder of where we want to go, how far we have come, the things we have accomplished and what is important to us. An anchor can be a strong motivator.

Anchors come in many forms…..Things we can see, touch, feel, smell…..Things that we say to ourselves…..The people in our lives……Things we visualize in our minds. These anchors are important in reminding us just how much we CAN do, HAVE done and what we WILL do.

I shared in my meetings some of the anchors that I used on my journey to reach my goal weight and some anchors I still use to keep me from going back to where I started, going back to my before….something that I could easily do if I did not have the tools, skills, motivation and anchors that keep me grounded to, or anchored to, why I started this journey, what I have learned and where I want to be in the future.

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During my weight loss journey, my anchors kept me moving forward, especially after I discovered the POWER that an anchor has in keeping me motivated. My first REAL anchor on this journey with Weight Watchers was given to me by my leader—a popsicle stick to remind me to “Stick to it”. THAT popsicle stick was instrumental in leading me to my “aha” moment…the moment that changed the course of my journey….when I realized that I didn’t think I was worth the effort. And that realization led to another anchor—a phrase said every morning while looking in the mirror….”I am Worth It”. Both of those anchors play a role in my life today.

Other anchors came into play throughout my journey to my goal weight—my Weight Watcher “bling”—kept where I can see it and bling that I continue to add to today as I continue attending meetings as a member, a reminder of how far I have come. And my before picture…..a POWERFUL reminder of just how far I have come, physically and mentally. After reaching my goal, a special necklace given to me by my husband many years earlier, became a strong, emotional anchor….I had never been able to wear the necklace….I was far too big…….and then I put it on. It FIT. It was perfect! I cried……tears of joy, pride and tears for the girl who had been so lost before. This necklace still inspires me and motivates me.

I have anchors that remind this once exercise phobic girl, that I CAN accomplish an activity goal—my 5K medal from my first Disney World 5k race, a strong reminder of the HUGE sense of accomplishment and the incredible PRIDE in doing so. And a Half-Marathon medal that I have not yet earned, that is kept safely set aside as a reminder of the commitment I made to my family and to myself and that I WILL accomplish this goal and EARN this medal when I am healthy enough to do so.

And this week as I talked, listened to the members and reflected on my motivation and anchors, I realized just how important it was for me to continue to set goals, to challenge myself and to remember why I started this journey in the first place. Sometimes we forget why. Sometimes we lose our motivation. Sometimes we think that since we have reached our goal we are done…..but we are not. This is a lifelong journey and one that needs anchors.

I also found this week while contemplating and getting back in touch with my anchors that mine are not just about my journey with Weight Watchers. I have powerful anchors that remind me of what is important in my life, that remind me joy can be found even in the darkest moments….something that keeps me going and keeps me finding the pleasures in this life. Anchors that remind me that I have the strength to get through anything thrown at me……even when I doubt. And anchors that remind me how important my family, my friends and my faith are in sustaining me and bringing me joy.

A bracelet I wear often to remind me of my faith and family…….two bracelets too remind me to never give up and that anything is possible…..necklaces that remind me of hope and that I am worth it……t-shirts with positive, uplifting phrases, bought to inspire my exercise and worn to inspire my day and remind me just how strong I am…..a framed phrase on the wall to reminds me to trust my faith and to hold onto God’s hand when I am feeling weak…..a stone etched with my favorite bible verse reminding me that I CAN do anything, as long as I do it with God by my side…..Instagram photos taken by a dear friend and given to me, remind me of the beauty in the world around me and remind me to appreciate what is here, in this moment right now. There is always something beautiful!……..photos of my family to remind me just how very blessed I am to love them and be loved by them…….. and so many more reminders…anchors.

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Anchors that keep me grounded and connected to what is REALLY important to me and anchors that keep me grounded and connected to my support, my faith, my family and to just how much I CAN accomplish in this life.

Anchors give me the courage to take the leap and help me to just breathe when I am facing challenges.

 

A Promise of a New Day

I am a west coast girl. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest.

We have lived all over the United States—the Midwest, the northern tier, the south, the east coast, the southwest and the west coast. No matter where we lived, my heart was always out west.

Being a west coast girl, I have always preferred sunsets to the sunrises. And everywhere we have lived and visited, I have watched the sun set. The sky is beautiful as the sun sets on my day, reminding me of the beauty in the world even on the days that were difficult. The sunset was a reminder that I survived the day.

I have seen the sunset over the Aegean Sea, over Europe, over the English Channel from France, and all over the U.S. But my favorite place to see the sun set is over the Pacific Ocean. There is nothing more calming for me than to sit on a beach and watch the sun slowly dip into the ocean, disappearing in a fiery horizon. I LOVE the sunset on the west coast!

When we lived on the east coast and would visit the beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, I would rise before the sun and walk the beach as it rose above the water. The sunrise was beautiful and the morning alone on the beach was so serene. But….I still preferred my sunsets and missed the west coast.

I guess I just wasn’t ready for what the sunrise would come to represent for me.

Now, living here in Arizona, I get to see spectacular, colorful sunsets. The blue sky is painted in shades of reds and purple as the sun disappears on the horizon.

But the sunrises are just as spectacular.

And I am discovering that I LOVE the sunrise.

I am up early, often on my way to work when the sun awakens and the glow of the sun illuminates the sky in hues of yellow, orange and red.

The sunrise has come to represent a promise of a new day…..a chance for change……a promise that today is going to be better. And that is what I need.

The sunrise brings a smile to my face and more importantly it brings hope to my heart.

This longtime, west coast girl who preferred sunsets to sunrises is falling in love with the morning sunrise….the beauty and peace found in the promise of a new day and the hope that it brings.

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Watching the sun rise gives me a moment when I can step back and just breathe.

I Took the Leap, Kept Breathing and I Made It!

I made it!

Today is my 52nd birthday and I am so relieved to have reached this milestone birthday.

A year ago, on my 51st birthday, I woke holding my breath, dreading the year. This morning I woke, thrilled and excited to celebrate my birthday.

I made it to the birthday my mom did not get to see. I miss her every day and today I know she is celebrating with me. Mom made such a big deal over our birthdays, always making the day extra special.

Today I am celebrating my birthday and so much more.

This year has truly been a year of taking the leap and just breathing. And in the process I have experienced things my mother only dreamed about, gone to places I have dreamed about and met people who have truly enriched my life. I have traveled roads I never imagined nor wanted to…..journeys that showed me just how strong I can be.

This year has been a journey of discovery, of really trusting and letting go.

And as I look forward to this next year, I am excited for all that it will bring. I am going to continue to live in the moment, challenge myself and yes, step outside my comfort zone.

Each day, week and month from this moment forward is one my mother didn’t get to experience. And I am going to enjoy each minute……the good and the bad, the easy and the difficult, the joyful and the sad, and those times that challenge me to step outside that box and push myself just a little more…….while sharing all of these life moments with mom.

And I am going to continue to take the leap and just breathe!

My First Half Marathon, it’s About More Than the Distance

The morning had finally arrived….the morning I was supposed to complete my first half marathon.

But life happened…….detours occurred……..and life stepped in the way in unexpected ways to keep me from starting and thus completing my first half marathon.

This past week I had to make a difficult decision about the race. 3 weeks ago, on my long training walk, the arch of my foot “popped” at mile 7. I was in immense pain and completing the 1.87 miles of that walk was difficult and long. But I made it home…….I really had no choice in the matter since I was 1.87 miles from home. My doctor ordered an x-ray, which showed that there was no fracture, so I took it easy on my foot. I rested, iced and taped my foot, hoping that something would make it better.

But nothing seemed to help.

After long conversations with my husband, I knew I needed to make a decision or risk a serious, long-term injury to my foot.

But my heart was not ready to do what my head knew I should do.

You see, the half marathon was about more than 13.1 miles. It was about more than crossing the finish line and receiving a medal.

Over the course of this past year, the half marathon became a symbol for me……a symbol of all that I have experienced this year………of the all the moments where I stepped outside my comfort zone…….of all the moments that I had to be stronger than I thought I could ever be…….of all that I cried about, laughed about and prayed about……..of all that I survived this year……..of all that I overcame and the personal growth that resulted………about all of those “life” moments that my mother never had the chance to experience…….and crossing the finish line of the half marathon would prove I was alive, that I survived and that I am thriving.

So, for me, not completing the half marathon was not a choice. I NEEDED to complete this race. And having to make the decision was ripping my heart out. EVERY time that I thought about not racing had my tears flowing. The emotions were hard to get past and the emotions were what I was basing my decision on………

Until……..

The day we left for Florida, walking through the airport, the pain shooting through my foot…..I knew then that I would not be able to complete the 13.1 miles. I could hardly walk to my gate. So, I made the decision while sitting in the airport that I would be there to support my husband and soon–to-be daughter-in-law, while they ran the half marathon and I would be there to support my son and his fiancé’s sister as they ran the full marathon. I was sad. I felt that I had given in to defeat.

But then my husband asked me what I had accomplished this year and what my mother would say to me. I have come a long way this year…..I stepped outside my comfort zone a number of times and I said “yes” more than I said “no” to experiences that sometimes brought fear to me and tested me. And this year I discovered just how strong I can be. I also had a HUGE shift in my mindset when it comes to exercise. This year I saw my son get engaged, something my mother never got to do. And I went Wedding Dress shopping, something mom and I looked forward to when I grew up. I LIVED this year instead of just existing and I learned to take better care of me. My mom would be so proud of me and of all the changes I have made and how I challenged myself to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.

So, I was not going to walk the half marathon that I had committed to almost a year ago. But that didn’t mean I wouldn’t do it. And as I picked up my race bib and t-shirt from the expo, with tears in my eyes, I told my husband that I WILL complete this half marathon when my foot heals and then he could give me my shirt. I wouldn’t have my medal, so the race shirt would be my reward……..

And then mother nature stepped in and in a twist, the half marathon was canceled because of lightening. This meant that all of those registered to run the half marathon would get their medals at the expo. And my husband and I spent time this morning when he should have been running and I should have been supporting him, at the expo.

When the young lady handed me my medal she sweetly asked if I wanted to wear it and I said “No thanks, I am not wearing it until I finish my 13.1 miles, when I will have earned it.”

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And finish it, I WILL! And mom will be right there smiling proudly.