Other Drivel

So There We Were, Camping with a Cat

Here is a sad attempt at segueing a prolonged blogging absence into mad excuses and rapid-fire blogs from a new neighborhood.

I don’t even know where to begin.

The last time I posted something I think Clinton was in office.  Many changes have transpired in Life since then turning what was supposed to be the Gardiner Summer of the Backpack (remember that whole Wonderland Trail thing we had a permit to do in early August and the whole basis for this Blog?  Yeah, neither do I)  into the Gardiner Summer of Todd Taking a New Job, Selling a House Very Fast, Frantic House Hunting in 100 Degree Heat, Two Weeks of Homelessness, Moving a Shit-Ton of Stupid Crap Two Hours North, and at long last, Unpacking It All in a New Mountain Town (with a sprinkling of Dread That We’ll Have to do this All Over Again in Seven Months).

Perhaps needless to say, not much backpacking happened in there.  But there WAS a lot of house scrubbing, crap sorting, hand-wringing oh and a dump truck of stress sandwiches for everyone to enjoy as we sent Todd off to start his new job and I wondered what was to become of my own career.

We somehow navigated it all and finally found ourselves handing over the keys to our house and contemplating the two-week abyss between where homelessness began and the moment when we could get into our hard-fought rental (it’s a small town).  We could have chosen to get a pricey vacation rental or holed up in a hotel.  But please, that’s not how we roll.  So into the pop-up camper we went, cat and all.

The girls and I took the opportunity to pretty much immediately escape to New York for a week (facilitated generously by my dad who could hear the panic in my voice about the ramifications of me spending 24/7-type time with my children, the house-less situation notwithstanding) leaving poor Todd to try and manage a new job, a cat in a cage and a dog who decided to claw her way out of the camper the one (and only) day he decided to try and leave her in it while he went to work.  She has this thing about lightning (even if it’s three states away) that leads to holes in campers.  It just so happens that she also hates wind and clouds.  And low pressure systems in general.

Escaping the realities of Litter Boxes in Confined Spaces – spending a week of homelessness at Home.

All of that (and many more lost blog-worthy moments) is behind us now and we only have the one small hurdle of having to move again into a house (should we ever find one in this tiny town) that we’ll call our own.  By random and fun chance, friends from our old town made the same move with their kids within a week of our exodus.  Never underestimate the comfort of a familiar face in a new town.

And now, having gotten this bit of mandatory explanation out of the way, let us return to the fun Hiking with Unwilling Children-type blogs that we all signed up for.

Not such a bad view from our new abode.

Categories: Hiking with Kids, Other Drivel | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

The Best of Us

I watch Maisy march to the back acre, shovel in hand and marvel at the child.  My kids are no strangers to death, as it manifests itself too often in the animals that we call family.  We have been lucky with the humans in our lives, having lost very few people that are close (knocking on wood) but with pets we’ve had a string of sad luck.

Last night one of Maisy’s Christmas kittens, Gus, died as she and Todd and, intermittently, his sister cat, sat with him.  It was gut-wrenching, having watched what was a vibrant terror of a kitten (who, along with his sister, textured my leather couch in claw marks…*sigh*) wither before our eyes in the course of a week.  FIP is an incurable virus that takes one cat in 100.

Gus and Star

Before Gus there were a passel of chickens and three dogs: Hank, Abby and Rex.  We’re not sure how Hank died; we think he died of being an over-curious  heeler and got into something he shouldn’t have.  Because we were on vacation it’s hard to know.  Hank had a highly effective defense mechanism – we got him when he was 2 and have no idea what went on before he came to live with us but any time you got the tiniest bit grumpy with him, he’d lay on his back and pee straight at you.  VERY effective in adjusting our behavior, I’ll tell you.

Rex and Hank the Cowdog

Abby, another overly curious Heeler mix found some coyote poison while we were hiking in Utah.  It was wretched, watching her die a painful death, and just when we’d gotten her out of the naughty puppy stage.  She was a great little girl.

Abby the Great

And Rex, That Dog that holds your heart forever, The dog.


Ranchers and rancher kids have a different view of life and death amongst animals than city kids.  While certain animals bring the same sadness in both, I believe that rancher kids have a very fundamental understanding of the circle of life, early in life.  We fall somewhere in the middle and I’m proud of Maisy for having what seems to be a healthy dose of big-hearted love and practical understanding of it all.

Our animals somehow help make us more human, both the good human and the bad human that we all are.  The bottomless forgiveness they offer up, the pure joy they have in seeing the same people that are too quick to neglect them after the tail-pulling human children come along.  They are the best of us, the patient, silent, watchful creatures that keep us grounded and remind us what it is to be Good.

Categories: Other Drivel, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

A Brilliant Sort of Different


a lovely change in the status quo

While brilliant blue skies are nothing to complain about, those of us that have been under nothing but take great pleasure in a change of scenery.  Till a big grey one bearing much-needed rain comes over, this lovely bit of sky art will do quite nicely.

Categories: Other Drivel, Photos To Share | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Bringing Crazy Back to the Backcountry

While Travelblog is a wonderful home for our international travels we needed a new place for the next chapter of Crazy we think we’re entering into. We noticed last fall that our 3-year-old was suddenly willing and able to hike 5 miles. Somewhere in there we talked about doing the John Muir Trail some day and that quickly became a desperate need to get back into our backpacks ASAP. The Wonderland Trail jumped out as something that maybe, with a lot of medication and deep breathing, we might be able to bribe the kids around. I mean really, it’s only 93 miles.

We dove head-first into our 1200 square foot gear emporium and started digging out the old backpacking gear which, since our 8-year-old was born, has largely become a spider-infested compost pile.  She and I had been out on two overnight trips in the past two summers which were awesome reminders of What I Love and led to tiny discoveries about backpacking with a child. It was also a reminder that my gear is old, smelly, and in the case of my beloved ancient Whisperlite, a bomb waiting to go off.

This blog will be dedicated to the tales of taking our kids Out There, not only on family backpacking death-marches but also documenting the rafting and hiking that we have done with them for years and what we have learned from those experiences.  There will be gratuitous jumping pictures.  Who knows, maybe Someone out there will find it marginally useful or inspiring as they too decide their once-mobile and adventurous lives don’t have to be re-explored only when the kids bounce off to college.  More likely, if I’m writing it honestly, it may serve as a dire warning to just stay home and vacuum.

We are not uber-adventurers, just semi-rad parents that don’t feel like retiring the idea of doing what WE love to do because we happen to have kids that (occasionally) don’t always have the same Idea for their weekends.  We’ll admit our failures, carry on about our successes, put in disclaimers when there was lots of crying and yelling, and review gear that sucks or doesn’t suck.

And it will evolve from there.

Categories: Backpacking with Kids, Other Drivel, Rafting with Kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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