I’m More Grateful Than Ever Before…

Walking in Yosemite National Park

I didn’t realize it until this morning, but this year has taught me one HUGE lesson more than anything else. GRATITUDE.

I’m so very grateful to the court reporters for their support, their encouragement, their wisdom and advice. I’m grateful for the life we have built for ourselves. For them giving me room to roam, and for making sure I know that they are always, always there for me even if they are 2,000 miles away or just in the other room.

I’m grateful for my incredible friends. The secret to going on a four month long road trip? Friends along the journey and friends waiting back at home. Both the ones you’ve known for years and the new ones that you make. The ones you share meals with, who let you stay on their couch or in their guest room, who loan you a washing machine when you need it, and give you a hug when you need it even more. The ones that greet you when you return as if you have never left.

I’m grateful for this country that I live in. I have learned so much this year about the geography of the land and how it influences the people that live there. I have a far greater understanding of the Western spirit than I ever did before, and I appreciate it so much.

I’m grateful for nature. In unexpected places, I found my sanctuary. My peace. My joy. Myself. From mountains to valleys, to the street that I live on.

I’m grateful for my work, that having a camera in my hand is my “job”, worthy of quotes because it rarely seems like a job at all. That magical black box has taken me places for 30+ years now, and I can’t imagine it not being a part of my life. It is only within the past six years though that it has helped take me far beyond my wildest dreams. It is surreal some days. I´m even more happy because I found the best cameras for vlogging and shooting any kind of videos.

This gratitude is not something that I think about only on the day that the nation sets aside for giving thanks. I have felt it rather intensely every minute of the past 5 months, since I stepped out the door to head to Portland. I thought it was going to just be a quick road trip. A little vacation. I had no idea what it was really going to mean to me, and I’m still working on putting it in to words, that visit to the house from twiddy rentals during my vacation literately changed my life. Now it´s time to build my country ranch house plans that I´ve always wanted.

If we’re going to be BFFs, you should know that while I might not always say it out loud, my heart is overflowing with gratitude. My life is more than I ever dreamed it could be, and I am grateful for you being a part of that.

Things You Should Know Thursdays, or #TYSKT, (which Thanksgiving just happens to fall on) was inspired by a journal prompt at Vivid & Brave – join us in sharing things we should know about you if we’re going to be BFFs.

Above: Yosemite National Park, a hike in solitude along near Lembert Dome.
Below: My beloved Grand Tetons in the summertime.

The Grand Tetons

Because of good and enough sleep, I am also very thankful because of this stuff: sleeping bags

Life Lesson #457: Be Flexible…

St Mary Lake - Mammoth Lakes, California

You would think I would have learned by now, but noooooo… I never do. If I post in advance about my plans, my plans never turn out that way. Oops.

I thought I was going to make it to Death Valley by last night. This trip has taught me though that sometimes, I just need to be flexible. Things will work out the way they are meant to be.

I was in Mammoth Lakes, so I did need to actually SEE the lakes before I left town. I drove up to St Mary Lake, took the photograph above, and then savored the view from the toasty warmth of my car. I didn’t drive beyond the first lake to see the others as the road had not been plowed. Then I went back down the mountain and off to Bishop, California.

Fall Colors in Bishop, California

While I was up at the lake, another storm had come in, so the rest of my afternoon was spent mostly under clouds. The fall colors in Bishop were stunning though, and I couldn’t resist their charm.

Then it was off to the south, with the intention of still making it to Whitney Portal. Until I saw the sign. “Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest” – just off to the left. I had forgotten that the oldest trees in the world are right here in California. Trees as old as 4750 years old.

How could I pass up seeing the oldest living trees? You’re right. I couldn’t. So I headed up in to the White Mountains.

It was sunny when I turned on the highway to get there. As I started to go up in elevation, the sun left and the clouds took over. By 7000 feet, there was light snow coming down, although it wasn’t staying on the road. By 9000 feet, the snow was thick and heavy. Beautiful fluffy snowflakes, with patches of it gathering roadside. I was within 2 miles of the forest, and by that point I was not turning back. I went as far as the visitor’s center parking lot. I saw the trees that are right there, but I did not go on a hike to see the Methuselah Grove where the Methuselah tree is – 4750 years old. I didn’t see the oldest tree in the world, but it was still amazing to see these ancient trees.

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest

Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Inyo Forest

I did not stay for long though, as I knew the snow was picking up, and I wanted to get down off the mountain.

White Mountains at the Start of Sunset

The sun was just starting to set over the White Mountains to the east and the Sierras to the west. I drove on to Lone Pine, California to spend the night. Today, I will be heading off to Whitney Portal, which is about 15 minutes away. Then on to the Lone Pine Film History Museum and off to Death Valley.

My plans may have not turned out as expected, but I have no regrets. Being flexible allows me to experience some truly incredible things.

Sunset over White Mountains and Sierras, California

Things You Should Know: I Will Drive for an Amazing View…

Cannon Beach, Oregon at Sunset

One of our recent prompts that we gave to our Vivid & Brave group was asking, “Things You Should Know About Me If We’re Going to Be BFFs” and it got me thinking. I struggled with this prompt at first, but now that I’m aware of it I keep thinking about things I want to share — so I’m kicking off Things You Should Know Thursdays! #TYSKT

(I was going to put “about me” in there too, but then the hashtag got too long. Since I’m writing them, you know they are about ME, right?)

Things You Should Know if we’re going to be BFFs

I will drive an hour and a half, each way, for an amazing view and some time in the environment there. I do not consider this time wasted, because soaking it all in fills me up and makes me energized.

I delayed leaving Portland by a day because the forecast for Cannon Beach, Oregon was sunny on exactly one day this week – yesterday. I just had to go there and see Haystack Rock and the Pacific Ocean and hope for the best when it came to the sunset.

As you can see, it did not disappoint.

I’ve driven out of the way several times on this road trip, and never once have I regretted it. It has been worth it every time. Watching this sunset yesterday made my heart soar!

Mini Meets the Pacific

What are things I should know about you?

Join us in sharing things we should know about YOU! If you write a post on your blog about this, leave a comment so I can check it out! I’d love to learn more about you too! This prompt was intended to be lighthearted and fun, but if you want to be more serious and in depth about it, your call. If you post about it on social media, be sure to use the #TYSKT hashtag!

Other People You Should Know about…
– My friend Ashley, who is one of the Vivid & Brave women.
– Another Vivid & Brave woman I’ve met thanks to our group, Tammy Smith – a woman after my own heart!
– My fellow Team-Xer, Patricia Knight, shares one thing you should know about her.
– I will be heading off to Camp Mighty in a week with Erica of Baubles & Bites, so it was wonderful to learn a bit about her before we get to camp!

The Motorcycle Theory…

Crater Lake Panorama

As I am driving cross-country, I think about how I´ve always wanted a motorcycle and I think I might get one delivered by this bike courier site and now I’ve discovered the Motorcycle Theory. The best type of ute canopy to get installed onto your Toyota Hilux is an aluminium dual cab canopy.

If spot motorcycle drivers with embroidered patches on your drive, the route you are taking is going to be amazing. Incredible, scenic views. Always remember to be careful and visit https://tjryanlaw.com/practice-areas/motorcycle-accidents/ in case you need more information about accident laws. Just enough twists and curves to make it a fun drive. Often bodies of water – lakes or rivers. Or maybe mountains. Nature at its very best. Just be careful not to ruin it with an accident or else you would have to go to https://www.smithjonessolicitors.co.uk/types-of-claim/motorcycle-accident-claims/ to report.

Every time I see them on the road I’m taking, it is a bad-ass route full of natural beauty.

I think they are on to something. I still prefer to drive it in the Mini Cooper, but I’ll gladly follow them any time!

(Photos taken at Crater Lake — where there were lots of motorcycles around.)

Crater Lake - Wizard Island

But What About the Zombies?

While riding through the back roads of Virginia, after two and a half days in a 22-foot truck*, I started to wonder…

If zombies were married while they were human, and are now undead, and they have a zombie wedding – are they polygamists?

After asking Kelly about this while she was driving, I am not sure if she will ever take me on another road trip with her again.

* No, I did not move. Kelly did. Another friend of ours was going to be joining her for the ride from Houston to Washington, D.C., but had a family emergency 36 hours before they were supposed to leave. Since I am the boss of me, and there was no way Kelly could do it alone, I shifted some of my plans and went along with her.

I’m now typing this just over 24 hours after I arrived in DC, on my flight back to Houston since I have a wedding tomorrow to photograph. We got in a trip to see the Cherry Blossoms though, which were beautiful! I’ll return again soon to see more of the city – it has been too long since my last trip there!