On Birthdays, Camp Mighty, and Charity:Water…

Water at Glacier National Park

One week from today, I’ll turn 44 years old. I have a favor to ask of all of you.

Wow, wait. Did I really just write that? 44? That means I turned 31 the year I started this blog. Unreal. Seems like only yesterday, and yet so very long ago! So much has changed. I watched the Internet grow up, and my son grow up, and I grew up with it all.

This summer, on the most epic road trip EVER, I’ve been so fortunate to see so many of my friends and family along the way. People I otherwise only see online.

When Stephanie & I wrapped up the launch of Vivid & Brave here in Calgary, Mike & I started to talk about where I would go next. Should I turn south and head home and fly to Camp Mighty in mid-October? Or should I go big or go home and drive to ALASKA for my birthday, then down the Pacific Coast, eventually turning inland to head to Camp Mighty?

Well, it wouldn’t really be the most epic road trip ever if I didn’t drive to ALASKA now, would it?

So I am. I am driving from Calgary, through Banff and Jasper, and on to Alaska. I plan to see Mt McKinley on my birthday next Friday.

Then the icing on the proverbial birthday cake? Mike surprised me and used some of the airline miles he has earned this year with all of his work travel and bought a plane ticket to meet me in Alaska! WHOO HOOOOOO!!! It has only been a week or two since he left Calgary, but it will still be great to see him!

Now I have a favor to ask from all of YOU.

Camp Mighty does a fundraiser every year for Charity:Water, and as part of our registration we are tasked with helping raise money. Charity:Water is a non-profit organization that brings clean, safe drinking water to people in developing nations. I would love it if you could help me raise $200 for Charity:Water by my birthday next week on September 27th. Really, I’d like to raise even MORE for them. $4400. $100 for every year I’ve been alive.

That is where YOU come in. If everyone reading this donates $10-20, we can make it happen! If there is one thing I’ve learned on this trip, it is that you can do anything you set your mind to doing.

Want to help? Visit the Camp Mighty Charity:Water donation page. Make a donation. Be sure to note that your donation to add a note that the funds are being donated in my name – Christine Tremoulet. That way they know to credit me & Team 4 at Camp Mighty.

As awesome as it will be to start my birthday off next week in Alaska, it will be even more incredible to know that I kicked off the next year by banding together with all of you to do good for those that truly need our help. Charity:Water is a charity I’ve donated several times to in the past, and what they are doing to get clean water to people who need it most is amazing. Chip in and change a life.

PS – I have photo session times available now in Alaska (Anchorage & Fairbanks), Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and San Jose! Let me know if you would like to set up a session!

The above photo was taken at Glacier National Park in Montana. The water was so blue, so clear – and the mountains so mighty. I can’t wait to see what is on the road ahead!

Look Over the Edge… Beartooth Highway, Montana & Wyoming

Beartooth Highway Lakes - Over the Edge

This photo sums up what is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned while driving on this road trip. Matter of fact, taking this photo was the moment that it all hit home.

Slow down.
Don’t fly past everything.
Look around.
Pull over.
Walk.
Look over the edge.

I drove the Beartooth Highway on Friday (and again on Saturday on my way to Big Sky), and it was a thrilling drive. A little crazy, as it is full of crazy curves as you climb up the mountains to the highest elevation highway in Wyoming (10,947 feet) and Montana (10,350 feet), and is the highest elevation highway in the Northern Rockies.

It was overcast. Raining. 54 degrees, versus the 100 degrees in Billings when I left. I didn’t have a jacket on. I wanted to get to the campsite before dark. Storms were starting in the distance, and minutes later I saw lightening.

I had EVERY reason to not stop.

But I did. I stopped to photograph the mountains. 20 peaks reaching over 12,000 feet in elevation in the area, the skyline is amazing. I stood next to the car, planning to hop right back in because I was cold. I was getting the railing in my posts, so I decided to walk to the edge to get it out of the shot.

Once I did, I looked down. There were lakes down there that I would have never seen if I didn’t stop and look.

It is so tempting in life to just fly by everything. To not look at the other points of view. I’ve learned over and over on this trip that when you do stop & look, you’re rewarded with a lot of new discoveries. I knew that before, logically, but the moment I stepped to the edge and saw those lakes, it hit me hard.

Off today now to drive from Big Sky to Glacier National Park, here in Montana. I can’t wait to see what lessons are ahead!

Taking It On The Road…

Seattle Mt. Rainer

It all started with plans to go to Portland for the World Domination Summit. I mean, seriously, HOW could I resist going to something with a name like that??? I wanted to go the past two years, but always had weddings scheduled that conflicted with it. I was thrilled when I snagged a ticket for the 2013 event.

Mike & I talked about it, and we realized that that would be the perfect time to visit his aunt & uncle in Portland, and then to head up to Seattle to see his brother & sister-in-law and to meet our new nephew who was born earlier this year.

You know, since we are going to be on the West Coast already, we really should visit my aunt & uncle plus our friends in San Francisco too…

From there, it is easy to see how the idea of a road trip started. I mapped things out. We will drive from Houston to Marfa, then on to Arizona, all the way to Los Angeles. Turn north for San Francisco. Make our way up to Portland, then on to Seattle. Possibly Bellingham & Vancouver to see friends there as well.

Every person that we visit as a stop along the way, Mike wants to cook for — more food adventures for Spoon & Knife!

Then I will turn and start to head east. I can finally see Idaho, Montana (Glacier!), and visit my parents who will be traveling in North Dakota. I have to be in Chicago at the end of July where I am speaking at ViewFinder Day at BlogHer, and immediately following that I am helping to coach at the Team-X Fight Club in Denver. (There will be a flight between Chicago and Denver, because I can not bend the time-space continuum and get from one place to the other in 12 hours.)

Summer 2013 is going to be one BIG road trip. The Avenger of Sexiness North America Tour!

As I became more introspective on this road trip plan, I realized that this past spring was really hard on me, and it isn’t over yet. I had pneumonia, I was diagnosed with asthma. I have a node on my thyroid and a reactive lymph node that causes partial numbness in my face. Dealing with the MRI, the ultrasound, the biopsy, the asthma testing, this thing and then that — well, it started to consume me. It was overwhelming. I still have endocrinologist and possibly rheumatologist visits coming up. More testing will take place, I am sure.

All of the medical drama forced me to stop and consider where I am, what goals I have, what I want to achieve. Life is short. I don’t want to look back and have a long list of “I should have…” regrets, so I am making them happen. I refuse to let this health drama get me down – instead, I want to CELEBRATE! What better way to do that than to take my Mini Cooper out on the road! (Complete with the WHEEEE license plate!)

I want to go where the city lights don’t block out the stars from shining bright. I want to see the Milky Way. I want to visit the mountains – both the Cascades and the Rockies. Dip my toes in the Pacific Ocean. See the Great Plains. Look out across Lake Michigan.

What about my business? Well, glad you asked. I’ve had countless requests for sessions along a lot of this route, so I am scheduling those in to this trip. July is normally a very quiet time for boudoir photography, so it is perfect. I’ll be taking files with me in case I need them, and I’ll have internet access at various times throughout the trip to upload albums and things like that, and I’ll have email access on my phone. Shaking the cobwebs out and getting out on the highway will give me a lot of writing time. I need that. It all works out. I’ll be back home just in time for the beginning of the boudoir holiday season. Between fall anniversaries and then Christmas gifts, things will kick up right as I return.

Have you ever done a big, cross-country road trip? Any advice or suggestions for us along the way? Tips on what I should pack? I have to keep it minimal, we will be in a Mini Cooper!