The Mighty Outdoors

We are Family

There has been no running in my life for the past five weeks and though painful, I have been staying occupied. My childhood friend, my cousin, and her daughter (my niece) trekked from sunny Florida to the Pacific NW and we made it a point to show off the mighty northwest.

A walking bridge is like pixie dust, it makes surroundings so magical.

Miami, Florida is a mega-tropolis and though I appreciated growing up in a such a rich and culturally diverse environment, there are definitely some drawbacks. With a population of 3,000,000 people – Oregon has a combined population of 4,000,000 – you can imagine what commuting looks like. Furthermore, because of it’s flat terrain, you don’t get to experience mountains or the views one would gain from climbing a mountain. Thus, it was critical for us to ensure my family experienced elevation and the rewards of the huffing and puffing that come from the climb.

The white patch shaped like a heart is what remains of Winter Snow.

Hosting and playing tour-guide was rather exhausting, but we felt great pride showing off the beauty the state of Oregon has to offer. What was most refreshing was the detachment to materialistic possessions. Hiking to the top of a mountain, pausing to enjoy a waterfall, sitting around a campfire to roast marshmallows, and the lack of reception made us feel not only connected to nature, but to one another. We were able to give each other our undivided attention and participate in the give and take of an organic conversation. The only status updates pertained to food, the beauty of our surroundings, and the magic of a campfire under the scintillating stars.

The rewards of stepping outside and setting one foot in front of the other.


I still have another three more weeks before I can even attempt to run a single mile, but as long as I have the mighty outdoors, I have enough to be grateful for. With two more months left of Summer, I reckon there will be plenty of adventures that will give me the opportunity to count my blessings.

Jake The Explorer. I swear our dog is 1/4 mountain goat.


 

 

Roughing It

On Friday night, my husband, my daughters, the dog, and I, drove up to the mountains to spend quality time with the outdoors. In all frankness, I was dragged to the mountains, but it was because the forecast read rain from 11pm Friday until 8 am Saturday with the possibility of floods.

This is what the skies looked like when we headed on our camping trip.

While the spring temperatures are no longer below freezing, the weather for the Holiday weekend was supposed to be too cold for my liking. Cold anything is just not my cup of tea; cold weather, cold wind, cold rain, cold floors, and colds in general. If the temperature is not above 70 during camping, then I feel like the experience is more like survival. Since the whole family, including the dog, seemed excited for the excursion, I swallowed my selfishness and put on a happy face.

Traveling in style like the Beverly Hillbillies. Good thing our dog does not mind small spaces.

It was wet, cold, and breezy when we arrived to our campsite. A large group of my husband’s co-workers who had arrived to the campsite a couple of ours before us had already started a much needed fire for my cold bones. There were also quadrupedal species frolicking around like small children who came to greet us upon our arrival.

The dogs were like small children and they wanted to play all weekend long. Except for the beagle who was sunbathing. He wanted to sniff the ground and catch some sun all weekend long. The dog on the bottom right is a labrador pup, and he never seemed to tire no matter how many times I tossed him the ball.


As much as I wanted to relish and enjoy the outdoors, my mind was still stuck on the gray, wet, and cold weather. When I looked around the camp fire to observe whether anybody else seemed perturbed by the weather conditions, it dawned on me I was all alone in the “negative nancy” category. The cool wind and the scent of rain falling from the skies didn’t faze my two-year-old, who was running around with chocolate on her face and gooey marshmallow all over her hair. My ten-year-old had muddy legs and shoes after riding on an OHV (Off-Highway Vehicle) with my husband, who was smoking a cigar and exhaling like Sean Connery on a James Bond film. Even Jake, my dog seemed to be enjoying the night as he was sitting cuddled under his fleece blanket next to the warm fire.Their happiness made up for my funk and the tempestuous nature of the dark clouds. Perhaps it wasn’t only the weather that was impacting me, given I had not worked out that morning. At approximately 9 pm, I decided to call it a night and told myself I would attempt to run the next morning so that I could create some positive energy.

 

Our humble abode.

 
Saturday was a much better day! Even though I had to get up at 2 in the morning while it was raining cats and dogs to do my business, and subsequently could not go back to sleep after doing my business due howling winds scratching the perimeters of our tent, I was still looking forward to the day. The rain continued until at least 10:00 am in the morning, but a breakfast filled with delicious eggs, hash browns, and pancakes further fueled my desires to go for a run. 

Rabbit Hole Warning: I know I have not made any updates pertaining to my running injury, but it’s mostly due to the fact that there has not  been much to update. There was an attempt on my behalf to shake out my legs around the track two weeks ago, which was around the fifth week of recovery, and while I managed to make it around the track four times, my foot hurt, so I decided not to push it. That one mile felt great in terms of being able to physically perform what I had easily been able to do eight weeks ago, but mentally, it was frustrating to accept the physical limitations.

Nonetheless, on Saturday, May 23rd, I accepted the strength of my body, and embraced the outdoors. Not only did I manage to pull out a 5k on a gravel/dirt hilly trail, the sun came out and warmed my body!! There was mild discomfort on my foot while, but not a painful kind of discomfort, just a cautious discomfort of not pushing it too far.  The pace was slow, but my legs and lungs were getting a good workout and there was a surge of endorphins that made the trip, the rain, and the mud worthwhile. Most importantly though, my run was full of gratitude towards all the service men and women who never made it back. Men and women who did not say good-bye to their spouse and children. Men and women who were children themselves and did not say good-bye to their parents. It was a reminder Freedom comes at a price that few are willing to pay but many advantageously enjoy; the price of one’s life.

 

Gravel, hills, wooden fences, and evergreens help shake off the funk.

 
For the first time, I also got to play in the mud (don’t like mud) and ride the trails in one of the OHV’s with my husband. In all honesty, I am not an adventurous person when it comes to new experiences. In fact, I tend to be apprehensive about experiences that I feel may lead to bodily harm and or drowning (bungee jumping, motorcycles rides, diving, snorkeling), so when my husband asked me to ride with him, I went with reservations. Once again, I was grateful I did not allow the voices of fear inside my head to seize the day and enjoyed a nice ride with my main man!

 

Riding, Rolling, and Spinning!

 
On our ride back home on Sunday afternoon, I noticed the mud on the side of our vehicle, the girls with knotted hair and dirty clothes, the dirt between my nails, the scent of burning wood wafting off my clothes, a tired beagle, and a handsome husband who seemed content to have spent time with his family in the outdoors. An enlightened smile was immediately planted on my face for not allowing my selfishness that overcame me on Friday afternoon to get in the way of the beautiful memories that we created as a family during the weekend. It was a good lesson for me to experience and learn on Memorial Day weekend.

 

The sun will come out tomorrow. And it did!

 
How was your Memorial Day Weekend? What are you most grateful for?