The end of the road for now

My wackadoo husband decided to drive through the night to make the return journey home. So, the trip that we took three days to do going up, we accomplished in a day and a half coming home. Can you tell we missed our bed?

The mid-west has been on our bucket list for a while, and it delivered in spades. The Black Hills drew me like no other mountains ever have, and I think the explanation lies in the vastness of them. The wide open feel and the bluest skies I’ve ever seen. Coming back to Mississippi’s piney woods would almost make me feel claustrophobic if I didn’t love them so much. We enjoyed exploring some of the touristy landmarks, as well as jumping off the beaten path a little. We will assuredly return, as there are many trails we want to hike. Also, I didn’t get to see a mountain lion or an eagle, so a return trip is necessary. If I could see it from a safe vantage point, I wouldn’t even mind seeing one of those rattlesnakes that all those signs warned us about. Well, maybe.

There were only a couple of things that I didn’t care for. I think I’m on record about the lack of grits available for this southern girl. I mean, seriously. All that corn, and they couldn’t have grits on a single menu? That was a little thing, though, and we stopped for grits this morning as soon as we got into Mississippi (at 5 am). The only other thing was the lack of night time. It gets light before 4 am and doesn’t get dark til after 9. Official sunrise/sunset times were 5:05 and 8:31. It really taxed this old girl’s sleep cycles to get a sunset/sunrise shot in the Badlands, as we were only there for one night. But, it was worth it. And, I can sleep when I’m home.

Deadwood, South Dakota is a really cool town if you’re into old west history. The entire town is an historic landmark, with it’s biggest claim to fame being that it’s the place that Wild Bill Hickok was killed. He, as well as Calamity Jane, and other historic Deadwood figures, such as Seth Bullock are buried in Mount Moriah cemetery. A must see, but be sure to wear good walking shoes and be aware that the cemetery is almost completely vertical. The only thing I wasn’t crazy about in Deadwood was the overabundance of casinos. Not being gamblers, these don’t interest us, but as I toured some of the museums and read the history, I came to realize that the gambling tax base is the money that was used to restore the town. And it is the Wild West, right?

And, Mount Rushmore. I haven’t had a chance to process those images, hope I’ll get to work on them this week. I’ll have a post about that mountain later.

So, we’re home for a couple of days to sort through mail and keep the wolves from the door. Then, off to Boston for the weekend to see our beloved Braves playing at Fenway Park. Another bucket list item.

By the end of the trip, I was referring to Gary’s white panel van that I’ve made such fun of as “our” van, instead of “your creepy white van.” It’s great for hauling gear, and provided a fairly comfortable rest during the long hours of the drive last night. We’re already thinking about another road trip in it for the fall. We have a really long bucket list.

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Follow your heart

I realized something yesterday. Something kind of amazing. I have the heart of an athlete. I’m not talking about VO2max, or endurance strength. I’m talking about a spirit of adventure. The desire to push my body to see what it’s capable of, to constantly challenge myself and reach for new highs. That’s new for me. Even when I ran when I was in my 30’s, that desire wasn’t there. Running was a means to an end then, it was about weight management and stress relief. It was never about challenging myself.

I made this realization on a trail hike at Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. It was not a challenging hike at all, in fact it was really easy. But, as I looked up that sheer rock face, it dawned on my that I would like to try my hand at scaling that wall. Now, if you read my last post, or if you were looking at the Badlands from a satellite position somewhere above the atmosphere on Thursday, and you saw me crab walking down that crumbly, sheer faced rock, you’re probably laughing out loud about now. I know that I’m not physically up to the challenge of climbing Devil’s Tower, but I also know that I could be. And, that will be something I work toward over the next year. Wow, never thought I would say that.

The last two days have been filled with fun adventures. Gary & I are early risers and we hit the major tourist attractions in and around Deadwood. Mount Rushmore was on Friday, after a really early start in order to get a sunrise shot in the Badlands. Mount Rushmore deserves its own post, though, so that will probably be tomorrow’s blogpost as we begin the journey back home. Gary went back to Upton, Wyoming today to compete in a motorcycle race, and I’m left to my own devices. The first order of business was a really nice long run on George S Mickelson Trail, a rails to trails project that begins in Deadwood and ends over a 100 miles up the track. I only ran the first 3.5 so that I could get in a 6 miler, but it was truly a beautiful, worship filled run. It was just me, the deer, lots of rabbits, and God. I stopped often and made pictures, so it wasn’t a particularly fast run, but I made up for it on the last 3 miles. I’m only including one of those images here.

There may come a day that I can no longer run, no longer dream of the ability to scale a sheer rock face. But, praise God, today is not that day.

The real reason I run

We finally arrived at our first destination, rump sprung (a word I learned from my Daddy) and a little on the snarky side with each other. But, we’re here.  In the Badlands.  Two and a half very long days of travel had us ready for some movement. We got checked in to our lodging, then immediately changed into our running clothes. After over a week of no running, then 20 odd hours of confinement, putting on my running gear felt as good as coffee with an old friend.

After some discussion, we decided we would do some of the hikes the Badlands National Park offers, rather than run along the narrow, fairly heavily trafficked road. We only have tonight here, so we wanted to see as much as possible.  Maps, water, cameras, and we were off. We decided on Notch trail, it offered about a 3 mile round trip, and we knew we would head off some side journeys. It’s late, and we have a really early morning tomorrow, so I won’t bore you with all the details. It was an awesome hike, we saw deer, birds nesting in the rock face, very playful chipmunks (we disturbed one who was having a mud bath), bats, and lots of flora and fauna. The trail was labeled as moderate to strenuous, but it wasn’t too bad. At least until we veered off it in search of a great sunset shot. The rock face was fairly sheer, the footing was precarious and slippery, and turns out, my hiking shoes are a half size too small. Anyway, there was no major incident, only one small slip, although, I’ll admit sitting on the top of the rock, I was not my usual calm, unruffled self. I may have even been a little on the other side of snarky by then. Gary took it in stride though, even though I wouldn’t have blamed him had he tossed me over & claimed I fell. It sounds like something that I would do, particularly if you’ve ever seen me hike up a sheer rock face lined with gravel. Regardless, the sunset was magnificent (as Gary promised it would be) and we made it down the mountain.

This is the real reason that I run. I do love running for so many reasons, but when it comes down to brass tacks, I want to be able to live life. To look at a sheer rock face and think, that may be daunting, but I know I can do it. The Jayne of four years ago could never have done what I did today. And, that’s reason enough for me.

Enjoy the images. These are my IPhone pics, we have a really long day tomorrow, so I’ll have to share the others later.



Savoring the journey

There’s a moment when you’re traveling and you look inside your cooler full of goodies, only to find that it’s filled with Joint Juice and liquid vitamins. That’s when you think to yourself, “Wow, we really are getting older.” Age is only a number though, and we’re trying to live each day to capacity.

I remember being a kid and not being able to stand the endless car ride to the beach or the park, or wherever the destination might be. On our way to Destin the other day, I was reminded of trips to Mobile and the USS Alabama, and how I thought we would never get there(it’s only about an hour and a half drive). If running has taught me nothing else, it has taught me that life is not really about the destination, it’s all about the journey. So, I’ve learned to savor the journey, to enjoy every single moment as I try to live my days to capacity. I know my destination, but I’m not afraid to take a few detours to get there.

Today’s travels started before dawn and led us through Memphis, a short dart into Arkansas, then the rest of the day was spent traveling the highways of Missouri. We crossed the “Mighty Mo” river several times (not sure how that happens), and have been treated to idyllic countryside dotted with cows, barns, and cornfields. Whoever was in charge of barn design in Missouri got it exactly right. Old, weathered sides, some painted red, some with just a hint of red still showing, huge haylofts with doors that swing wide, silos waiting to be filled with corn. He (or she) should be the only one allowed to design barns anywhere. They look just like what a barn should look like, and the cows seem to be a little more content because of it. I bet the milk tastes better here, too. Unfortunately, no barn images yet.

I love the countryside of America. We usually travel back roads to get a better flavor of the community, but, this journey already being a 22 hour one, we’re traveling highways to make the best use of our time. Fortunately, these highways have afforded beautiful glimpses into the countryside and even offered a couple of breathtaking vistas from the summit of a bridge. And, we took a detour that led us down some winding country roads.

When we first started planning this trip, just a few short weeks ago, I became more focused on getting everything ready to be away for a couple of weeks. As usual, I let Gary do the heavy lifting, the planning, the reservations, the mapping. He’s really good at it & seems to enjoy it, so who am I to deny him? Anyway, I didn’t realize until today how close we would be traveling to my Missouri relatives – my sister & brother-in-law, her youngest son & his wife, and most importantly, my 21 month old great nephew and as yet unmet 5 week old great niece. After some quick recalculations and a few short texts, we altered our journey slightly to include a quick visit to introduce Kristianna Chichester to her Aunt Jayne. Of course, an impromptu photo session was called, and we made quick work of it.

Savoring the journey indeed.

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ROAD TRIP!!!!

Just 1,470 miles to go! The bags are packed, the house sitter has her instructions, e-mails are answered, work is put on hold for a couple of weeks, and we’re off.

We’re traveling in Gary’s newest acquisition, a white Ford panel van. We’ve all taken a shot or two at him about it, and it still makes me laugh when I look at it. My nephew, Nick, & I laughed about it so hard when Gary brought it home that my sides ached & I think Nick had an asthma attack. But I have to admit, I love having the ability to take everything we need – and apparently we need quite a lot. In true Gary fashion, we have all the cool toys we need to get us there: the latest GPS tools, brand new Sirius satellite system, his Father’s day present from me – a new Ipod downloaded with ALL his cd’s (my weekend project), two laptop computers, an Ipad, and his motorcycle. He’s even built me a great little desk so that I can write while we travel. We also have lots of low tech accessories. An atlas, a great book on the national parks of the American west, a cooler full of snacks, a few hardcover books, and the piece de resistance for any hippy van – a scented turquoise and wood carved turtle to hang from the rearview mirror . Not to mention all my camera gear. We are truly “the Complete Travelers”.

We are headed on a 22 hour trip to Deadwood, South Dakota. I can’t express how excited I am, this will be my first trip westward, and I know it will be the first of many. We’re taking several days along the journey, stopping at various locations to sightsee and run, and hopefully I’ll have some images to share along with my posts.

When I told my niece (who has two small children) that the trip was going to take 22 hours, she was horrified. What she doesn’t realize yet is that being empty nesters brings back all that joy of exploration that you had as a young couple, without all the effort you have to go to when you take small children along. Although, looking at the back of the van, I think we’ve packed as much as if we had two toddlers going.

This is my view for the next few days. I’ll update as the view improves.

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Now that I think of it, a white panel van full of camera & computer equipment on a long road trip might cause some eyebrows to raise. Hmmm… good thing I have a nice smile. 😉