Snow days for educators mean work a little, sleep a little, watch something brainless, shovel, drink hot chocolate, and if you can, get out into your neighborhood for some kick-and-glide with a good friend. Three miles around Sloan’s Lake for some bonding, meditation, exercise, and quiet beauty.
In June of 2015 I was diagnosed with adenomyosis, the evil, more painful cousin and alter ego of endometriosis. For six months I was experiencing bloating, debilitating menstrual cycles, and different levels of pain–shooting pain, consistent acute pain, and dull aches. I attributed the pain to my decade of mountain biking only, not stretching enough, a car accident or two or three, and other body trauma from a life lived.
But after months of sitting in meetings with sharp pain, doubling over while teaching, and stomach-grabbing during snowboard breaks, I headed off to the ob-gyn for some answers. The dumb nurse at the first place ascertained from my enlarged, hardened uterus that I had probably had ovarian cancer and should have an ultrasound ASAP. CThe ob-gyn I finally saw allayed my cancer fears and after weeks of appointments and speculation and waiting, I was put on progestin to stop the benign enlargement. I went to pelvic physical therapy for three months to strengthen my pelvic floor so I could handle the cantaloupe that my uterus had become.
Walking was difficult. Getting out of bed required problem-solving and Chinese acrobatics. There was, during June of 2015, so much crying. From pain, from the hormonal adjustment to the progestin, from a terrible break-up of a terrible relationship, and from fear, mostly, that my life of adventure was coming to an end.
I had planned, casually and a few months before June 2015, an adventure trip to Nevada, along Highway 50. Nevada is not known as the most mountainous of the contiguous lower 48, and that’s why adventuring among its mountain island oases, as John McPhee calls them in Basin and Range, is such a treat. There’s lots of there there but there is almost no one there.
Lotsa nature and chance for swimming, hiking, biking, and camping adventures and no lines and few fees and just lots of panoramas.
A few days before takeoff, I somberly told my adventure partner: “I can barely walk. I don’t know if I can go to Nevada.” He responded cheerfully, “That’s ok. We’ll just take it easy.” Easy for me meant loading up on Tylenol and codeine for the twelve-hour drive and doing dishes. My traveling partner set up the tents and did all the literal heavy lifting while I swam, hiked, biked, camped, and natured myself better through the high desert of eastern Nevada.
The memories function on Facebook made me realize recently that snowboarding on Thanksgiving Day had become somewhat of an unofficial annual outing for me. Back in the aughts it was one of the few days the restaurant I worked at was closed, so we all headed up to Loveland Ski Area or Copper Mountain for some early season no frills fun. There were always between half to a full dozen of us, casually swishing about the mountain, grabbing a bloody at lunch, then heading down the mountain for Turkey dinner or a long nap. Continue reading “Thanksgiving Snowboarding”
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.
I would typically call New Year’s Eve amateur night. Lots of fussing over just another night. One of the best parts of any New Year’s Eve worth its volume in champagne is the viewing of puegos pyrotechnicos. To wind down our ten days in Cabo San Lucas, I and my traveling partners hit Medano Beach around 11:30Pm to catch the fireworks and ring in the New Year.
The all-inclusive resorts that front Medano Beach were roped off, having their own party with live music, fancy, lit-up dance floors, and folks with their dancing shoes on.
We went a little more low key, opting instead of ooing and aahing between the two sets of fireworks going off, with the banda soundtrack in the background!
After a three-year hiatus from Mexico and surfing, it was time to get back on the ocean-horse and see if I can still paddle. We spent three hours at Zippers, a fast, mushy point break between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
Above is the highlight of the day, a full ride into shore on a 10-footer. Excellent day.
Read more about SheSpoke’s surfing adventures.
Day 1 of spring break meant waking up in the fair city of Grand Junction, affectionately located along the Western Slope. For outdoor enthusiasts, Grand Junction offers easy access to snowboarding, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, and road and mountain biking. I find myself stopping in Grand Junction whenever I’m on my way to a mountain bike tryst in Moab or Fruita, when I’m road biking at Colorado National Monument, or when I’m riding the locals’ favorite, Lunch Loop Trails.
Because of the timing of my trip (the last week of March) and because of the lackluster snow season this winter, I pared down my available sports to four instead of the usual six or eight. This trip would be centered around mountain biking first, hiking second, golf third, and I brought along the snowshoes, just in case. I thoroughly researched the trails along the 50 most western miles in Colorado, which quite closely resemble Utah. I had planned for rides from the most southwesterly town in Colorado, Cortez, which also has some killer mountain biking, especially east of town at a little shooting range called Phil’s World.
As before all solo road trips, I studied my maps carefully, and this time I was including some serious BLM time on my trip. BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management, and BLM land is characterized by primitive camping that is usually free. BLM land would be less populated by bipeds this time of year, I surmised, and I was right. The tricky part would be finding appropriate and accessible camping sites for a low clearance 4WD vehicle.
The BLM office in Grand Junction is staffed by friendly folks who know their land and can talk to hunters, mountain bikers, and miners with equal ease. This BLM office has realized the need to educate folks on the proper ways to enjoy the natural beauty contained within its boundaries that it has produced quality maps for each of its areas, including highlighted hiking and biking trails. It was at the BLM office that I discovered the Uncompaghre Plateau was still snow-covered and/or muddy, and that recreating or even camping there at this time of year was not going to be fun. So I picked up a few brochures, one on camping sites in BLM land, and a much-coveted map of the Y-11 Fiasco trail, a mere 45 miles to the south of Grand Junction in a tiny little town called Gateway.
The road from Grand Junction to Gateway takes about an hour and a half. I had been on this road only once or twice before, but I remember the scenery quite well. In fact, when I have pleasant dreams I imaging myself driving alongside topography that looks just like that which abuts the Unaweep-Tabaguache Byway. Tabaguache is pronounced TAB-uh-watch.
Gateway is a town with no services save for the Gateway Canyons Resort, a new spa-gold course-hideaway whose scenery is incomparable. The following day I would ride the aptly named Y-11 Fiasco Trail. But I first had a date with the stars and scenery and solitude of John Brown Canyon.
Longer posts will follow but I just wanted to share my newfound love affair with BLM lands. I toyed with the idea of Moab again but all I
could hear was the obnoxious errr errr of dirt bikes and 4 x 4s. For spring break I needed something a little more serene and pristine. So I did my homework, located some killer mountain biking trails on the verge of Moab but still in Colorado. I spent a couple days luxuriating in the solitude, hitting wiffle golf balls with my 7 iron, and riding the Y-11 Fiasco trail in Gateway.
More pix to follow, but here’s a late afternoon easterly look into John Brown canyon, a staple of the hut-to-hut trips of the summer.