This is not a post about successfully keeping house while married. That is, however, an excellent idea for a blog post, now that I think about it. Or maybe the most redundant post on marriage imaginable.
Actually, I—Christina—have re-birthed a new blog that I’ll use to post more me-specific things. If you’d like to follow my trip into Japan and Thailand in July, you can do so at Consorting with Angels.
Also, for those that don’t live in North America, there’s a major heat wave on. When it’s close to 100 degrees in your house, the best we can do is camp out on the bed, watch Mike root his new Google phone, and wait for the first evening breeze.
Getting ready for one month away from home, a husband, and all familiar language…oh how times change. When I was still in my early twenties, taking an extended trip abroad came relatively easy. And now, as I start to prep for what may be the last international adventure of my twenties (only four and a half months left), things don’t feel so carefree. Well, they still are in the sense that I’m excited and nervous all at once, but I’m also sad. I’ll be without Mike for one month, our longest separation in five years. I will have my first real language barrier, since all the languages I speak are useless when faced with rapid-fire Thai, kanji, and karagana.
And I have to leave this little monkey behind.
So much happiness to come home to. I am so grateful.
The year-long silence on this blog—a blog devoted to blissful living—is a bit reflective of our lives over the last twelve months. Blissful isn’t a word I’d use to describe them. But the lack of bliss has become a surprising catalyst, like all that pressure compressed down into a new energy source. There is no only-love, no only-smiles, at least not in a life that truly feels gratitude deep down in its soul. Because how grateful can we feel without knowing what the other end looks like? And I’m very grateful I saw that end—yes, grateful. As in, I would do it again. There are things I’d have never known until I spent some time living in the deep end of the mud puddle.
But the most important part is keeping that feeling close, so close that new choices are based on which path keeps me away from the muck. Those choices don’t even have to move me forward. Moving backward (or sideways, or inside out) is fine if you’re doing it to stay in harmony with yourself. What good are the “impressive” choices when you’re miserable?
When people congratulate me on being a relatively recent newlywed, I like to joke with them that all the married people who shouted “congratulations!” when Mike proposed conveniently forgot to mention that the first year of marriage can be a major doozy, and that they owe me for their silence (my dad is the exception). But now that I think about it, it wouldn’t have made any difference if they had; I wouldn’t have understood and wouldn’t have listened anyway. And anyway, falling down a lot in life just means we’ve mastered a hell of a lot more than we would have had we not tried in the first place.
I’ve got a lot of amazing, inspiring, proactive, generous, and beautiful friends, and sometimes I just have to brag on their behalf! My maid of honor, Angela Fojtik, lives in Portland, Oregon, and last year she co-founded an outdoor group for young kids to get them outdoors and exploring. Muddy Boots (what an awesome name!) was recently featured on Oregon Public Broadcast (she was on TV!) and I loved everything about it.
Check it out below!
I had to show you guys just how different the mountains are this year.
Our 2011 New Year’s Day hike was glorious—bright blue sky, luscious warm sunshine, frozen creeks and lakes to play on, and no car chains to fuss with to get to the trailhead. We had an awesome day, as evidenced my Mike’s super enthusiastic post, but the ski areas weren’t as pleased. With less than one foot of man-made snow on the ground, they were having one of the worst holiday ski seasons in years. And compared to last year, it must have been a really hard pill to swallow.
But exactly one year before, we did a New Year’s Eve hike in the same place, just a few miles down the mountain. We couldn’t even get the car to the trailhead we used in 2011, since the highway was literally closed five miles down the road, and it would stay that way for the rest of the winter until the snow melted.
Temperatures were in the teens, the snow was six feet thick along the highway when we set off, and it was utter silence for all the snow dampening every sound—except when the snow mobiles tore by.
The mountains are amazing any time of year, no doubt, and I guess nothing is certain. Sometimes we get snow on Thanksgiving, sometimes we don’t get it until the end of January.
Cape Horn is the beautiful, beautiful overlook point right off highway 4 where Christina and I were originally planning on getting married, before thunderstorms and hail dissuaded us. It sits above Lake Alpine at about 8,00ft above sea level (Map), swathed in a forest of pines and enormous old Junipers, with a breathtaking view of Utica and Union Reservoirs to the south-east and the Dardanelle Range to the East. It is truly spectacular, and what’s more it has a nicely maintained looking trail (with a big sign that exclaims ‘Trail’! to any passers-by) that winds off into that wilderness in the most enticing way. As we were so cruelly thwarted by Thor in 2011, we decided to seize 2012 by the gonads and head back out there on January 1st, 2012. So we packed up some food (cheese sandwiches and a bag of beans), water, and the all-important Thermos of good British tea and headed out into the terrifying Californian winter – bright sunshine, mild temperatures, and virtually no snow.
It takes about 40 minutes to get up to Cape Horn from Arnold, so we sat back and enjoyed the lovely views of old pines, valleys, and mountains, and watched as the snow gradually started appearing and thickening by the side of the road as we climbed ever higher, maybe it was going to be more wintry after all? Alas no, there was only minor snow, but we did get quite a surprise as we passed Lake Alpine and saw that the whole lake was frozen solid!! This is no small lake and the site was quite amazing, so we eagerly headed further up the mountain to see what else we could find.
The trail was easy to find, and parking should have been easy, except that I am apparently a terrible driver and had all sorts of difficulty, but we made it safe and sound, with a miraculously un-punctured gas tank and set out happily. The trail bifurcated almost immediately and heads either south to Lake Alpine, or north to Stanislaus Meadow. We went north. The trail was thickly forested and had a few inches of snow in the more shaded places, and while it seemed very well-marked to begin with, it became quickly obvious that it was not very will used at all and we were soon very engaged in the hike and actively searching for the trail. The forest was beautiful and the views from the nearby ridge-line were quite lovely, I would highly recommend this trail to anyone – plus it would be fantastic to snowshoe if it ever snows properly this year. Even with the low snow-fall, or actually, because of it, we found a totally awesome little frozen creek:
So of course, the first thing we did was go skating.
Christina was vastly better at it than me!
We ended up spending altogether far to long at that little stream, and didn’t even get close to Stanislaus Meadow, but we didn’t care as it was a beautiful day and we were alone together and happy. We went a little further down the trail, which was quite an adventure as the snow became thicker and it became harder and harder to see. Thankfully Christina proved herself to be an excellent navigator and some nice people had left little pink ribbons in the trees and bushes to help us out, so we did ok – it was actually loads of fun searching around trying to figure out where the trail was, much more fun than just following an easy route. After a little while we went of trail in search of the nearby ridge-line and found a gorgeous little spot to hang out together and relax. It was wonderful 🙂
After hanging out there for a while we quickly made our way back up the short distance we had come, and found the most magnificent old Juniper tree:
It was such a lovely, lovely tree, I wonder how old it could be? I am pretty sure it is a Juniperus occidentalis, some of which can apparently reach 3,000 years old!
After spending quite a while with the Juniper, we made our way back to the car, and as it was still light, headed down to Lake Alpine to check out the ice. We had quite a surprise when we got there, the lake was frozen solid at the banks! We could walk out on it! I went out and was stamping as hard as I could and it was a good 20ft from the shore before I could hear the boom of water beneath me, it was extraordinary! So of course, the two of us were quite silly and had a fantastic time playing on the ice and enjoying the beautiful Sierra sunset – plus nice warm cups of tea.
And of course, skating was essential!
This one is very hard to see, but I tried it anyway, we were playing Ice Football with big chunks of ice, it was SO much fun, but we were a little late in taking the video so it got a little dark.
All in all, it was a fantastic day, really, really wonderful 🙂 After we got too cold to handle the lake anymore, we headed back down the mountains to find a nice warm cabin and a delicious meal. It was heavenly. I truly love the mountains.
That’s all for now, see you soon!!
I, personally, am glad 2011 is over and done with. I makes it easier for me to really conceptualize the “starting something new” and really going within, this time. SO many things happened in 2011. In order of incidence… my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. I started splitting my time between San Diego and San Francisco (two weeks here, two weeks there). Mike and I decided to get married. Mike was offered a new job at Stanford University in Palo Alto. My mom’s MRIs showed strong progress. Mike and I got married! Honeymoon in Montana! My business hit some major government-orchestrated financial roadblocks. I turned 28. Mike and I moved away from San Diego and to the Bay Area. We were adopted by a lovely little kitty, who we named Cioppino. A 36 hour trip to Seattle with girlfriends became the catalyst for me to really change my focus and direction in life.
So yes, I am very much looking forward to 2012. I know that my life has been permanently altered by 2011, and it was pretty horrible at times, but I can honestly say I am feeling really excited about the possibilities to come this year. I plan on spending a lot of time thinking about myself. I shall reference Ayn Rand’s “In Defense of Selfishness” if I start feeling guilty.
On that note — Happy New Year all! You’ll be hearing from me more this year! As always, wishing everyone love, health, and gratitude.
(This is Christina again. Mike has declared he’s too antsy to write, as he’s itching to get on the road to start our first awesome hike of 2012. I love that; it shows so much about what Mike loves. He promises to write his bit when we get back!)
So much has happened this year and in the last month that I lavished in all the Christmas joys of the season. The songs, the beautiful lights put up around town, the decorated trees and shop windows, the spirit of giving and togetherness. It was a very welcome Christmas season. I’ll take any reason to get the family together, make and eat delicious food, and generally spread the love around and around! Plus, this year we have a live redwood tree — we’re really celebrating the spirit of being alive and naturally beautiful!
The trimmings were set, the presents laid out…
…and we had those gorgeous, warm moments of festive anticipation, joy, and delicious things, everywhere you looked (these are my grandfather’s Czech Christmas cookies, which he makes every year).
Something about Christmas Eve that turns even grouchy old Murphy into a hyper little kid!
Although, truth be told, his enthusiasm for ripping apart his gifts has waned a bit over the years! He needed a little help this time.
The new kitty cat (who adopted us this month) didn’t necessarily fit into the mood of the day, but we had her anyway. The more the merrier!
The end of endless sunny, 80 degree days has come. Moving out of San Diego to San Francisco is absolutely bittersweet. I’ve come to love living in San Diego. I love all the unique neighborhoods, all the amazing places to eat (fish tacos! Pizza Port! Convoy St.! Crazee Burger!), being walking distance to almost everything, and—of course—the amazing beer culture here. There are so many unique and brave microbreweries here, and Arrogant Bastard (Stone Brewery in Escondido) is almost considered mainstream here. I came to appreciate and slowly love the desert, discovered mountain biking here, and loved swimming with the leopard sharks in the Marine Room every spring. But the Bay Area has things that San Diego never will—namely, my family. So, onward!
And the really awesome part? Dolphins coming to say goodbye!
The last piece of cake — a testament to my self-control. Mike baked a chocolate layer cake for my 28th birthday, and I didn’t eat it all in one night, or even two days. I can enjoy the last piece, and Mike’s awesomeness, one more time.