Thursday, September 23, 2010

Highlights from Summer 2010

Well, now that summer is nearly over and I’m seeing a light at the end of the tunnel, I can play a little catch-up with my blog.

Probably starting in January, I started to fill in those two little blocks in my calendar that land in the “Saturday” and “Sunday” columns… in every month through September. Before I knew it spring was over (those weekends were full, too), and summer was here, full blast. While making the decision that 2010 was going to be the year I run a full road marathon (so I can finally check it off my bucket list), I kept myself so busy that I don’t know where I found the time to run.

After all is said and done, I look back and see that I didn’t spend as much quality time with Adam as I should have, which is bad… but every weekend was stuffed-full of funness, which is good… and I’m now finding myself feeling exhausted… which is good and bad. I have no regrets from this summer, but I have to admit that I’m looking forward to the second half of October through the end of the year. I don’t know what’s next, and right now – in all honesty – I don’t care! I love that!

I don’t have enough precious time to write in detail about all my summer adventures, so I thought I’d do a little rundown of it with a picture popped in here and there to illustrate it all. First of all, I need to point out that training for a 26.2-mile marathon is REALLY hard and time-consuming. I didn’t get backpacking nearly as much as I normally would because it just didn’t work with my running schedule – and an even more honest reasonI simply had too many things already planned. But I decided that if I could make it through my and Adam’s 2-week road trip vacation in June, the marathon was ON. No excuses at that point. Long story short, I stuck with it – I’m now 2 weeks away from that marathon, and I’m not quite sure I’m 100% ready, but I’m 100% sure I’m as ready as I can be… if that makes any sense at all.

In May we did our annual Canoe Trip. That was fun as always. We paddled, partied, enjoyed campfire, family, friends and had an overall good time. I always love spending time up north doing stuff outdoors. There’s so much! Rivers, woods, paths, roads, fire pits, gardens, lakes… it’s never ending!

Mom and Dad in their canoe.

Towards the end of June Adam and I went to Country USA again. It was fun and crazy as always! It’s nice to have those five days for us to spend together, and at that time we’d both just gotten back from our awesome vacation to Montana. We were kind of “out-of-sorts” I suppose you could say. We were coming off of a vacation high and some other things he and I were working through at the time. So it was kind of a whirlwind.

Before Country USA and before our vacation, Adam and I started talking about all kinds of things and learned some new things about each other… some good, some bad, some scary… and we both knew we had some things to work on. What better time to get into a rental car and drive together for two weeks? A lot of friends and coworkers thought that we were crazy, most of them saying, “I wouldn’t last a day cooped up in a car with my spouse!” But Adam and I are a little different that way, and very different from each other -- the list of activities that we both enjoy is a short one. But one thing we both have always enjoyed -- and enjoyed doing together -- is road-tripping. So that's the trip we planned and it was perfect for us.

One random day before we left, I told Adam, “We need to give our vacation some sort of name…” for which he replied, “How about Gus?” I laughed and that’s what stuck. So GUS became the theme name for our trip.

We got a rental car, dropped our kitties off at Adam’s mom’s house (she was kitty-sitting for us while we were away), and we hit the road. We drove through South Dakota, hitting the Corn Palace, Wall Drug, the Badlands and Mount Rushmore. From there we drove into Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park. We stayed there a couple of days and toured as much as we could. We stayed in the canyon area, so we hiked to upper and lower falls, then on our way out toured around the loops to see buffalo, a grizzly bear, some bighorn sheep, Old Faithful, Mammoth Hot Springs, among some other awesome scenery!

Adam and I at the bottom of Lower Falls, Yellowstone

On our way out of Yellowstone, we took the famous Beartooth Pass. We left in the afternoon, and the roads were nearly empty of all traffic. There was still 10-20 foot snow banks along the side of the roads in some places, and it was kind of scary riding around the hairpin turns. Adam did most of the driving, and he did an awesome job. The best part of Beartooth pass was the sunset. It was incredible. I won’t even try to explain it because it wouldn’t do it any justice at all. Please, if you go anywhere near Yellowstone, this you – must – go – and – see.

Beartooth Pass at sunset. Not even close to how gorgeous it actually looked!

From Yellowstone, we drove up to Bozeman, Montana, which we both immediately fell in love with. We dreamed of what life would be like living there (and still do). Maybe one day we can call it home, who knows! We spent some time at museums and relaxing, then took off again, but this time north towards Glacier National Park. On the way to Glacier we hit Skulkaho Pass and its amazing waterfall, the Sapphire mines at Philipsburg, and a cool little place to get huckleberry shakes. We tent-camped one night in West Glacier, but the second night we upgraded to a small, one-room cabin. We took road tours as far as we could go on the Going to the Sun Road – it was still closed at the top. But we went as far as we could on both sides and saw some great scenery.

Adam and I at Eagle’s Falls, Glacier National Park

From the East side of the park, we took the Going to the Sun Road to St. Mary’s Lake and pulled over at a famous photo-taking spot. There’s this tiny little island in the middle of the lake with about 3 little pine trees on it. As I had my back to the island, and Adam about to snap my picture, he suddenly got this look on his face like something was behind me. His jaw dropped open and his eyes got HUGE. I turned around and there stood this teeny little spotted fawn! I grabbed the camera and took a quick picture, then continued to take some video. He wanted to walk straight up to me, and almost did before realizing I wasn’t his kind, then he turned and ran off. It was definitely one of the highlights of our entire trip!

Little fawn that surprised us, Glacier National Park

After Glacier, we hit the road heading back home. We hit a winery and a BBQ festival on the way home, landed at a family gathering in Wisconsin, then back to Phillips to get the kitties… and home to Oshkosh. It was a great two weeks. Adam and I never got sick of each other, I kept up my running, we ate fairly healthy and inexpensive (Jetboiling meals in the hotel rooms), we talked a TON about all kinds of things, and came back feeling refreshed. It was a real vacation, and it was our first.

July rolled around pretty quickly. Adam and I went to Green Bay and saw Star Wars in Concert. It was really cool. The orchestra played a bunch of Star Wars theme music and a huge screen behind it played scenes from the movie. It was hard to remember sometimes that the music you were hearing was actually live. I had to keep looking down at the orchestra to remind myself. It was amazing with all the lights and fog, too!

My running training picked up pretty heavy in July, but I just kept at it. We had time for an 80’s party with friends Anne, Craig, Shannon and Kevin in Sheboygan. It was fun getting all dressed up in 80’s attire and getting together with friends for a fun-filled night.

Adam and I at 80’s night in Sheboygan

In late July Adam and I started making secret plans of a crazy future. He was going to go back over-the-road truck driving. We were nervous about the change, but excited for just that reason – change. But we wanted to start something different, and we thought maybe this would be a fun new adventure… and if things were going well, I’d eventually join him on the road. So a lot of the first part of August was planning things and getting Adam set up with a trucking company and orientation. I dropped him off in Chicago for a 3-day packed orientation, and on my way home, alone in the car I cried. The thought of not seeing him for 3 weeks was really making the change hard. I knew it would be difficult, and so did Adam… but neither of us know how close we’d actually become in the past few years. We both struggled, but Adam finally got officially hired and hit the road. After only a few days, and a LOT of patience, Adam started to realize that this company wasn’t just dragging him through the dirt because he was new… they were dragging him through the dirt because that was they way they ran. Needless to say, it didn’t work out, he quit, and he came home. We both privately prayed to God that He give us some sort of sign if it was the right decision or not… I think we got our answer loud and clear. We are both glad he tried it, though… or we’d both still be wondering “what if?”

So on to the next chapter! What that is, I have no idea!

While Adam was working out a way to get home from his trucking run (he was stuck in Springfield, Ohio), I had plane tickets, along with 2 of my girlfriends, to visit our friend Sarah in Colorado. She was on vacation there with her boyfriend for 7 weeks and invited us to come out for an extended weekend. At first I wasn’t going to go. I thought of a bunch of different reason why I shouldn’t (like money and time and blah, blah, blah...), but after Heidi and Becky both bought tickets, I decided to just jump. The tickets were really cheap, and after a conversation with Adam when he said, “Quit stressing about it... just go and have a nice time,” I got online and put in my credit card information. Before I knew it, I had a confirmation email from the airline.

We flew out to Colorado the last weekend in August and stayed with Sarah and Michael for a few days. We dayhiked one day, visited Rocky Mountain National Park the next, shopped the day after that and just chilled out and relaxed the rest of the time. It was a really nice way to spend some quality time with friends.

Heidi, me, Becky and Sarah at Rocky Mountain National Park, CO

A couple of other things that happened in August were Manly Man Movie night, which was an event Adam put on. It was originally for guys only. They were going to go to Prime Quarter to grill their own steaks, then hit the movie theater to see “The Expendables.” I wanted to go, but felt I’d have to “be a guy,” so the rule was in place – women could go if they wore a fake moustache… facial hair was required. So the guys all grew out their beards and moustaches and goatees, and I sported a fake fu manchu. It was a great idea, and a lot of fun!

Me sportin’ the fu manchu

The day after Manly Man Movie Night, Adam and I joined friends Jamie and Eric for the Green Bay Tall Ships Festival. We enjoyed the day looking at all the ships, all the people, eating, and freaking roasting in 100-degree weather! It was so hot that day, but we managed to pull off a fun day. We went and went and went until the heat took everything out of us. We did enjoy a sail-tour on the Appledore boat, though. That was really fun. Once on the water and out in the bay, the captain even let us steer the boat for a little bit… which is fun for kids, but adults, too!
Adam and I steering the ship at the Tall Ships Festival, Green Bay

Over Labor Day weekend I went on our backpacking group’s annual backpacking trip at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Upper Michigan. I was stoked because it was going to be my first (and biggest) trip of the summer and fall. And boy oh boy, was it a trip to remember! The first two days were crazy with weather! We survived 40-60 mph winds along the shores of Lake Superior, which had 20-23 foot waves! We called it Lake Superior’s first hurricane: Hurricane Aardvark! It rained, the wind whipped, the waves crashed, and on the actual shoreline, sand and spray from the waves would sting us in the face. The first night we were all tucked away in our tents at 7:30pm! That’s early! But after the weather calmed down the third day, we really enjoy the scenery that this place has. It feels like you’re in a whole other world with how clear and colorful the water is. I really enjoy time in the woods, and the crew we had was awesome. Everyone that came along was loads of fun, and we all really weathered the storms together!

The backpacking crew at the Grand Sable Visitor’s Center at the start of our hike.

Me standing on a cliff edge overlooking Pictured Rocks.

The weekend after Pictured Rocks was our annual “Our Hike” for Bone Marrow Disease fundraiser. I will be posting a separate blog entry about that, but we had a fun time, as we do every year! Below is a photo of a bunch of us packed into the little tent my mom and I used while we hiked the ADT. Oh, the good times!

A bunch of us crammed into the little tent

On September 19 (which also happens to be my mom’s birthday – Happy Birthday, MOM!), I ran in the Fox Cities Half Marathon. According to my marathon training, I was supposed to run 10 miles that weekend, so I opted to make some fun of it and join a race. I felt great, the weather was perfect, and I ended up making a personal record! I was so excited to cross that finish line that I nearly teared up! My fastest half marathon had been 1:51, and I finished this one in 1:49:53. Close, but still faster!

After the Fox Cities Half Marathon with my finisher’s medal

One other thing I want to share that’s really awesome (but not directly my adventure) is that my brother and his wife had a new baby boy on May 5th! So that’s really cool!

So many little things in between all these fun and good things happened, too… most are small, but some bigger… some bad, some good -- but there’s just not space, time or energy to share it all… and besides, some things are best left to tuck away into the ol’ memory bank… or what I’ve got of one (my memory it terrible and that’s another HUGE reason I blog!).

Coming up is the Oshkosh Dragon Boat Festival this weekend. Our 4imprint team is once again competing, and I’m looking forward to that full day of fun! I’m also running the event’s 5K run in the morning – so it’ll be a tiring one for sure! Here’s hoping we don’t tip the boat!!

The first weekend in October our backpacking group is heading to the Porkies in Upper Michigan for a fall colors hike. We got POURED on last year, and for the first time I was actually a little miserable while hiking… I’m hoping the weather is a little nicer to us this year. But I’m going rain or shine, and I know I’ll have a blast either way (despite the misery last year, we still came out with smiles and great stories… so it’s always worth it!)

October 9 is a big day for me – that’s the day of the Ashland Whistlestop Marathon. I’m signed up to run the whole 26.2 miles, and I’m freakin’ nervous as can be! I’ve run 20 miles during my training – that’s the farthest I’ve run, and it was H-A-R-D. During the last 3 miles I wanted to curl up in the ditch and cry, but my dang stubbornness pushed me. I can only hope my body and my mind can hold up to do the other 6.2 on race day! But more on that later….

I should give a prize to anyone that read all of that! But I don’t have much to give… I just know it was a long freaking entry with playing so much catch-up. I always say I’m going to write more often, but I know better than to make any promises. So everyone enjoy the rest of what’s left of summer (if any), enjoy the fall, and look forward to winter, because there really is a lot to do when the flakes start to fall!

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