LivsnDesigns Ecotrek Pant

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I first tried on a pair of Ecotrek Pants while on a trip to Glorietta, New Mexico. I instantly fell in love with the fit and color. The caramel color is a neutral tone, with a classic outdoorsy vibe. The fabric is light weight and not at all restrictive, but still hugs my body in all the right places. I love pairing them with a bold colored top for a feminine look.

While in New Mexico they were perfect for hikes in the dessert tundra. We went bouldering and my legs were protected from the scrub brush, while allowing me to freely move up the rock. The fabric seems to do well at shedding dirt and moisture.

Due to their weight, the Ecotrek pants make a perfect option for packing light. I rolled these pants up into my Revelate bike frame bag for my Bikepacking trips this past fall. I wore them around the campfire and brisk early mornings, they were also my backup rain gear though I never had to test them.

I joined a group of guys for their “First Saturday Ops” Airsoft game in Joplin Missouri. We ran, crawled and hid out in a field in freezing temps with snow. I choose to wore my Ecotrek pants with base layer thermals underneath. By the end of the day, my husband had a wet bottom in his fleece lined pants while I remained completely dry. I had a few field burrs but they easily brushed off. These pants have been my go-to for most of our recent outdoor adventures. Camping, climbing, biking, hiking and I imagine so many other adventures can be done in these pants. I love the strong color options as well as the sizing. I look forward to a design more tailored to women!

Climbing photography by PattyVPhotography.

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LandLocked

Riding down a smooth paved road in the heat of the summer, my heels and toes 1796560_10202674526520394_814960383_ngently guiding the board from one side of the road to the other.The heat dancing off the portentous road, challenging my board. Picking up speed every second, a connection is formed with my board. Giving a gentle push with my heels, the bamboo echos softly; responding with a nudge of its own. The wind teasing my hair and images began to blur as my eyes water, but it doesn’t matter, its that moment of freedom. The road winds up ahead and I brace for the turn. Gracefully carving into the turn my mind lets go to another place. I can hear waves crashing behind me and I bend my knees fully immersing my body into the pull of the carve. That bead of salt coming off my face could be easily mistaken for the cool ocean water. As quickly as it all began, it ended.  Reaching the bottom o
f the hill I feel exhilarated, for just a moment in this chaotic world, I was alone and exactly where I wanted to be.

 

Defeat or Not Defeat?

Reaching for another hold almost to the top, my forearms are on the brink of exploding out of my skin, my legs shaking as if out of their own uncontrollable fear. My fingers are begging me to let go, this hold is too small they say. I argue, the chains are just around tblog
that lip, stopping now we would fall. Taking a deep breath and shaking out one hand at a time I soothe my body, neglecting to observe those feelings of fear and doubt. Digging in with my rubber toes, I explode up and around the rock, my tips searching for anything good. Eureka! The course stone is round but enough to hold with one hand. Grabbing my gear and frantically grasping for my rope, I clip in to the chains. Immediately, my body relaxes, looking out behind me I look in awe at the beautiful blue skies of Arkansas.

Cat and Mouse

The trail is only visible for 10 feet ahead, it winds and twists in directions I do not know yet. Catching only a glimpse of his back tire as he disappears, swallowed by the trees. Lightly tapping the brakes, I feel the back tire slide for just a moment around the corner before I dig into my pedals blasting forward. Eager to play in this game of chase, I give my 12002183_10206624171299045_6927782464853784364_nbike the freedom it needs to sail over the rocks, the suspension taking the impact as I land and keep pedaling. Three deer stop and watch as I blast out of their world as quickly as I came into it. In my mind everything is silent, my eyes are scanning the leaf covered trail for the next obstacle. Cresting the hill, my legs are pulsing with heat, and my arms are exhausted from trying to control this iron mount. Eyeing my prey I sail down gaining speed. I am suddenly approaching the turn way too quickly, pleading with my brakes and then losing my line, I am thrown into a tree. My world slows down and I sit there for a moment doing a quick scan over my body, processing what just happened. Looking over at my bike, I reset the chain and everything seems to be working. I grin ear to ear, I got away unscathed this time. Its never a matter of if I am going to fall, it is only a matter of when and how hard. Riding with that truth gives me the confidence to hop back on and pedal down the trail for another challenge.

BAO Buns with Hoisin veggies

BAO buns

  • 2 cups + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup warm soy milk
  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp instant dry yeast
  • 2 tbsp avocado oil for brushing

  • Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  • Place the soy milk in a small pot on the stove. Set to medium for a few minutes. It should be warm to the touch but will not burn you. Remove from heat.
  • Mix in the sugar and yeast into the warm milk. Leave to sit for 10-15 minutes until it foams up. When it’s foamy, mix in the oil.
  • Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. While mixing, pour in the yeast and milk mixture.
  • Keep mixing until a dough is formed. Knead (or mixer on low speed) for 5-10 minutes until dough becomes a smooth ball.
  • Place it back in the bowl. Cover it with a damp towel and let it rest for at least 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  • Once the dough has risen, transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Punch your thumb into the center to create a hole. Slowly pinch and form the sides to create a larger hole before slowly pulling apart the sides to create a large ring.
  • Slice the ring of dough into 12 pieces and then place the pieces in a bowl and cover with a damp towel to prevent them from drying out while you work on each piece.
  • Roll a piece of dough into a ball and then lightly flatten on a floured surface. With a rolling pin or any round rollable object (I used a cup) roll the dough until you have an oval that’s about 3 by 4.
  • Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Brush the dough with some oil then fold into half on wax paper (see picture). Cover the dough and leave to proof for another 15-20 minutes.
  • Add three buns to the steamer basket (I used rice cooker/steamer and placed a cloth on top so no moisture drips down on the buns).
  • Steam 8-10 minutes then quickly transfer to an oven safe bowl and put in oven for 10mns. (The quick temperature change could make them deflate).
  • Continue this process, removing the buns from the oven add laying on a sheet to cool.
After rolling out the dough we folded them in half with the parchment paper like so.
Use whatever you have to steam your buns, just try to keep actual water from dripping on them!

Hoisin sauce veggies

  • Your choice of veggies and protein (I used tempeh)
  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 8 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice
  • -1/4 tsp garlic paste (if you want any heat)
We steamed our tempeh first and then added it to our veggie stir fry blend. Green beans, mushroom, and garlic!

1. Cook protein source. Stir fry your veggies, however you prefer. Once cooked, turn off heat and add protein and sauce. 2. Top BAO buns with hoisin fry. We also topped with kimchi and quick pickled carrots, whatever you have on hand! Let me know how your meal turned out below!

“Feel Jamaica,⁣Taste Jamaica, Talk Jamaica, ⁣Walk Jamaica”

Our last full day in Jamaica, we decided to rent a dirt bike and head towards the mountains. It was a spontaneous trip, not really knowing what to expect or where we would end up. ⁣

Laughing we followed the locals lead and zoomed through city traffic. We kept our eyes set on the mountains and drove over an hour to a jungle paradise. Roaring River is home to an underground spring and a local hot spot (we were the only tourist for miles). Lots of 100 year old trees, fruit trees, and some small caves. I found myself drawn to a group of young boys giggling and jumping into the water. Their energy and smiles were contagious and I could’ve spent all day racing them in the river current. ⁣

We saw local sugar cane farms and the day to day life culture of the locals in town. A guide picked and passed me fruit and herbs as we walked, truly allowing us to experience this place with every sense.

This doesn’t even begin to encompass our experience that day. If I could, I would have bottled up this pictured moment. The smell of the cool spring water and earth, the laughter of the boys, the warm sun on my face and the mutual contentment Ty and I shared. ⁣

Growth only happens when you venture out of your comfort zone and take the path unknown. ⁣

(This is an old article from a trip taken February 2019)

A Beautiful Birth Story

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They say every pregnancy is different and those words could not be more true for my two children. We were ready for Eileen when I became pregnant. I led a very active and enjoyable pregnancy. Labor (while never easy) was natural and safe, and our breastfeeding journey lasted her whole first year of life. 
Eileen was only 9 months old, still nursing, and I was taking birth control when I became pregnant with our second child.  Surprise, despair, confusion, and guilty emotions followed. How in the world did this happen? “I just got my body back. I’m not ready to share me again! It’s not fair to Eileen to give up her baby status already!” All of this followed up with guilt. “Why do I feel so sad and how can I think those thoughts? Does that make me a bad Mom?” 
I’m accepting that I am, in fact, human and these thoughts are pretty normal but most people choose not to voice them.  A lot of women are also afraid to share their story if they don’t have the birth they intended or their experience doesn’t quite have the pleasantries and positivity that they believe other women want to hear. I can completely understand why women don’t want to share their stories when their experience has left them emotionally and physically depleted. After Hank was born, I didn’t even want to announce that he had arrived for fear of people congratulating me and asking how I was doing. I felt like a failure and I was not “ok”.  Someone close to me, however, encouraged me to share my story because of what I went through. That my struggles and imperfection could be uplifting to other Moms. I’ve always desired to be a strong and positive woman, however, my birth story is raw and broken. But what I feared most was allowing others to know that I was not ok and that I struggled and am still struggling with my birth experience. I don’t want sympathy but I do want to connect with other people (Moms and Dads), who are hurting from a difficult birth.
The day I went into labor, I kept the contractions to myself as we had, had several false alarms in the past month and my husband was attentively watching my every move. I spent the day bouncing on my yoga ball and chasing Eileen around outside. That evening, as I watched my family giggling and dancing around the living room to Reel Big Fish, I remember thinking, “yes this is it and what an awesome and loving family  this baby is about to be born into”.  
My contractions intensified around 8:30 pm as we laid down for bed. As I laid awake, my body started shaking and I felt cold. I stepped into a hot shower and worked through some stronger contractions that started getting 5-8 minutes apart consistently. I walked into the bedroom and said, “babe get up, it’s time to go, the baby is coming.” He looked up at me disoriented and trying to process what I had just said.  I called my midwife and we discussed my contraction times and my prior birth experience. As I calmly explained to my midwife that I was coming in (we have a 55 minute drive to the center) the reality of what was going on hit my husband and he began pacing around as if he was in labor, frantically trying to decide what to do. I confidently laughed at him as if I had done this a hundred times before. 
Arriving at the birth center a little before 11 pm, I was ready to get to business. After confirming my dilation of 5cm and that my water had broken, I requested to labor in a hot shower as this was really comforting to me before leaving home. Time escapes me now but looking back I had labored in the shower for what felt like 30 minutes and then sat in a warm tub. Ty massaged my scalp and whispered amazing and encouraging words. The melodies of my birth playlists from my first labor were playing. It was beautiful.  My contractions were intense but compared to my first labor, I felt ready and controlled. But not in control, see that’s the thing about labor. To be in control mentally you have to relinquish control physically. I embraced this knowledge and with each contraction and opened my legs and sighed out a big “OOOOOPPPEEENNN”. I remember reading about that mantra in one of the many birthing books I came across. surrendering to these words,  I could feel my body gearing up and preparing to push. My midwife took this time to discuss the pushing phase. During my first birth, Eileen had shoulder dystocia which was resolved quickly, but there was a small chance that it could happen again. We talked about the different positions (hands and knees) we would try so to prevent the baby getting stuck and what would happen if I did indeed have trouble. This was reassuring, but in my head I thought there was no way, my body felt so ready this time. 
Transition labor hit me hard and I was sick for 20 minutes or so. My midwife helped ease my discomfort with peppermint oil and I was able to drink a little water. I was ready to move to the bed and get my dilation progress checked. I was dilated to an eight and my excitement grew as I knew my labor was moving quickly and I would soon be meeting my baby. Movement brought me the most relief and I found myself swaying back and forth while my midwife squeezed my hips. Within 30 minutes I was on my hands and knees and feeling the need to push. I vocalized this to my small team of three. 
I began pushing and quickly remembered the “ring of fire” sensation and slowed myself, allowing my body to stretch. I felt my baby’s head and then I felt the midwife doing something to the baby while mumbling a code word to the nurse. I asked if everything was alright and she mentioned something about the cord being wrapped but resolving the issue. I felt ready to push again and with the next contraction and the following one I pushed with everything I had. I felt like I had hit a brick wall. No amount of pushing was making any progress. My husband’s cheers turned to  pleas to keep pushing. That’s when I knew something was wrong. I was completely exhausted and felt like I’d given everything I had. Why wasn’t my baby coming out? I tried pushing several more times, while moving my legs into extreme lunging positions. Then I heard the midwife tell the nurse to call the ambulance. I started to get scared realizing the actual danger my baby was in. The midwife had her hands in me trying to maneuver the baby’s shoulders. I’d never been in so much pain but honestly my mind couldn’t even settle on how I felt. All my instincts were focused on getting my body to find the energy to keep pushing. Finally, I felt and heard some loud popping and then a gush as my baby came out. 
My husband pulled me towards his chest and held my head, begging me not to turn around. Panicked I scrambled across the bed as the midwife was doing chest compression’s and the nurse was setting up the oxygen tank. My baby was a boy, but I had no time to rejoice as he was blue all over and not making any noise. Mary, the owner and midwife from my first birth, ran into the room and took over. We both began praying out loud to God that he would heal this little baby. I was rubbing his body vigorously and kissing his fingers and toes. Tears were streaming down my face and I selfishly thought, “Lord, how can I possibly cope with the loss of a child? How can I move on from this ? I am not going to make it.”
Three firemen entered the room and stood back as the midwives were doing the only thing that could be done at that time. What seemed like hours was actually just minutes but they were able to get him breathing and some small cries followed. Soon, three or four paramedics rushed in and began to evaluate the situation and make arrangements to take my baby to the NICU. I desperately wanted to snatch my baby away and hold him to my chest but rationally I knew he need to be assessed. His oxygen saturation levels had stayed at 100% as he was still connected to the placenta inside me. 
I vocalized my need to push and it was then I realized I was surrounded by an additional seven or so people, many of whom were men. I felt violated and exposed as I laid back to push out the placenta. Looking back at this now, I know I was surrounded by professionals who have seen it all and were just doing their job. But for someone like me who wanted only my husband and midwife present, it was a nightmare. A stretcher rolled in and after a few minutes I was ready to get up and transport my baby to the hospital. I stood up and took a step but as I did, blood began gushing out of me and I almost slipped. Easing me back on the bed, the midwives and my husband suggested that I may not be ready yet. I tried but I wasn’t able to evaluate my physical injuries and decided to follow the advice. My husband looked torn as he turned from his wife to his new son. I can only imagine the heartbreak of having to make that decision so I begged him to go and promised I would be shortly behind them. He got on to the stretcher and was handed our son. I looked at them together and wished with every part of my being that it was me holding that baby. That the three of us could be sitting in the bed together with nothing to do but to be gazing lovingly at our baby. But that wasn’t my story this time. 
As they wheeled out and the room emptied, I felt myself crumble. Loneliness, emptiness, and pain began to set in. The nurse assistant walked in as I started shaking and sobbing. Wrapping her arms around me in a full body embrace, she cried with me. Mother to mother she knew my heartbreak. She too was part of the birth and (I believe) it was an emotionally difficult experience for her. In that moment, there was nothing else she could do but to me it meant everything. To be loved, held, understood and to mourn the situation with me.  I didn’t need to express my feelings with words, as a Mom she knew. I also reached out for support from my best friend and Mom at this point. It was 3 am, but they immediately both sent encouragement and the loving words that nourished my heart
Over the course of the next hour, I had to be given Pitocin and catheterized due to my inability to pee which is something I had to do before I could load up and head to the hospital. My husband called and reported that by the time they reached the hospital they had deemed him “perfect” and NICU wasn’t necessary. But due to his size at 9lbs 10oz, they wanted to observe him for 24 hours to watch his blood sugar levels.  Despite this good report, I wasn’t going to be relieved until I could hold him and see for myself. 
I arrived almost three hours later and sprinted straight for my baby upon entering the room. Swaddled in a thick layer of blankets, I peered down at the  little face. As he nursed and we laid in the hospital bed, tears streamed down my face as I kissed his fingers and heard his cries. I praised the Lord for keeping us both safe and for giving me the strength to bring Hank Russel Cloud into this world. 
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Our Birth Story

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I gave up on sleep and walked out to my front porch swing around 5:30 AM; just as the sun was rising. As I listened to the rain against our metal roof top, I felt completely at peace and eager to meet our baby. I had been training for 9 months for this day and I felt so ready in every capacity.

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Last day with my bump!

Around 7:00 AM, I ran out of the bathroom and triumphantly announced to my husband the loss of my mucus plug. He was torn on whether to go to work or accompany me through my day. I assured him I wouldn’t be laboring anytime soon and encouraged him to commute to work.

I went to my acupuncture appointment at 10:00 AM and felt more severe cramping within 5 minutes of the hour long process. Afterwards, I drove myself home as nothing seemed to have escalated.

I spent the day reading, napping, and took a bath around 4:00 PM. By the time my husband returned home from work around 5:30 PM, I had begun experiencing contractions about every 15 minutes but nothing consistent. We walked around outside and worked in the garden until my contractions became closer; about every 10-12 minutes.

I remember questioning myself “Is this really a contraction or am I just unable to endure small amounts of pain?” I imagine many first time moms feel this way; the inability to understand your body at this point and trying to determine what real labor feels like.

I prepared dinner and we lounged in front of the TV for a couple of hours. At this point, I had my contraction app open on my phone and was tracking inconsistent times between contractions; every 7 minutes, then 12, then 5, then 15. I feared calling my midwife because I didn’t want to stall my labor by leaving my home too soon.

By 9:00 PM I had to stand up, move my hips and breathe through each contraction. I called my midwife and she suggested going to bed as labor was going to require a lot of energy and that the baby would most likely come tomorrow. I attempted to lie down but had to work through each contraction; standing up and moving. I can remember thinking “There is no way I can sleep through this.” so I gritted my teeth and forced myself to be still so maybe I’d fall asleep and the contractions would carry on without me.

Shortly after 11:30 PM, I felt a gush and realized my water broke. My midwife suggested taking a shower (best suggestion ever!) and lying back down. I spent 30 minutes in the shower, put on a Depends (yes an adult diaper and it was glorious) and as I went to lie down on the couch I felt the urge to get sick. I began getting sick and working through more intense contractions until finally at 1:30 AM, I called my midwife and we made arrangements for us to come to the birth center immediately since we had a 45 minute drive.

When people ask me about the pain during labor, I tell them that the worst part was the drive. Living in the country lends itself to windy bumpy roads and I’m pretty sure we hit every bump that night. My poor husband patiently dealt with me harassing his driving the whole way there. At this point I was still getting sick and everything was becoming pretty hazy. I felt as though I was returning from a long night of drinking.

We arrived at the birth center and as the nurses encouraged me on to the bed in the blue birthing room, I immediately detoured to the bathroom.

They suggested I try taking a bath and began running the water. In the tub, I tried managing my contractions with breathing and deep primal groans. I turned from my back, to my side, and then my other side but I couldn’t find a comfortable position. It felt as though I was riding contractions back-to-back. My husband later assured me that I had a minute or two of rest in between each contraction. The midwives later told me that I looked in control, but in my head I felt like I was flailing and trapped in this uncomfortable place forever.

My husband turned on my playlist and I found this soothing as I faded in and out between songs. As he encouraged me to drink some juice he would also whisper in my ear; letting me know I was beautiful and repeating one of my favorites quotes “She may be little but she is fierce”. My husband was a source of encouragement and happiness for me throughout the entire process.

Around 4:00 AM I was feeling a desperate need to push; but my midwife said not to as I was only dilated to 4 cm an hour before. She suggested sitting on the toilet backwards as this may help to dilate me further. I sat on the toilet for 40 minutes or so until I couldn’t handle it anymore. I told my husband to get the midwife because I WAS going to push. The midwife checked me and was surprised to already feel the head; I began pushing.

The movies always depicted this part to be the most agonizing, I beg to differ. It was tiring, don’t get me wrong, but to be able to push and feel progress was empowering. I felt as each push helped descend my baby farther and as her head emerged I understood what other women have described as “The Ring of Fire“. Fire!!

Once her head was out, my pushing no longer seemed to bring about any progress and the midwife suggested I move from my back to my hands and knees. She stated the shoulders were stuck and I needed to really push. She assisted getting the shoulders out and this was the most uncomfortable part of active labor. As I felt my baby slide out of me, I couldn’t roll over fast enough to lie down and hold my baby.

I didn’t even bother to check the gender; I counted the fingers and gazed down at the most perfect little being ever. Those beautiful eyes looked up at me and I knew we were in love. The cries were a melody that moved my soul and I couldn’t get enough. My husband stood behind me with wet cheeks; telling us how good of a job we both did. Finally, I broke eye contact long enough to check that our baby was a girl and we announced her name was Eileen Adele Cloud.

She was born at 6:00 AM, weighed 7 pounds 9 ounces, and measured 20 inches long. Dad proudly cut the cord about 30 minutes later.20160725_151314

I was disappointed when Mary said I was going to have to give a few more pushes to get the placenta out. I felt completely drained and only wanted to focus on our baby. However, within a few minutes the placenta was out and Mary confirmed I had no tearing.

Eileen was born tongue-tied and was having trouble nursing. Feeling a bit let down, I hand expressed her first feeding. After discussing our options, we felt confident that Mary could perform the cut that morning. Without a sound, the snip was made and Eileen began sticking her tongue in and out of her mouth. We were able to nurse and went home just a few hours later.

I had a very enjoyable birth experience and felt loved and secure with my labor team. I was overjoyed that I could return to the comfort of our home within hours of bringing our baby girl into this world.

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“The fear of de…

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The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.     E. Abbey

Thinking back on yesterday I suppose we could have avoided this traumatic situation, but the words from my friend days earlier deterred me “you can’t let tornado’s control your life”. There was a  throbbing headache behind my eyes and I was aware of my irritable mood, but I chalked it up as being wimpy due to the obvious pressure changes. Besides, just that morning several people said that the chance of a tornado was really low. Putting our three-year old monster tornado fears away we went out for a mountain boarding/kiting adventure! We began our journey out to the Schiffendecker Park, a field downtown about twenty minutes away from home, our car packed with our board and two kites.

The wind was whipping around as we walked out unto the field, the kite was like a wild horse bucking around in the wind as I tried to settle the material and straighten the strings. Flinging itself wildly around me I found myself several times becoming its prey as it strangled my neck in the strings. Once I was able to release the beast it took off into the sky with its wings full of wind, with a jerk it began to tow Ty on the mountain board. He attempted to control the kite, carving back and forth as they raced across the field leaving a cloud of dust. I could faintly hear his howls of joy and fear as he jumped and caught almost four feet of air! Again and again we relaunched and sprinted across the field, until the wind began to calm and he could no longer
hold his arms up.IMG_0570

As we began to untie the strings from the kite and fold it up, Ty looked into the sky noticing the low clouds and orange tint. With fear in his voice he ordered we work quicker, we still had to get back to the car a mile across the field. The air around us had a strange but familiar energy, it was the kind of complete stillness that makes one’s hairs stand up on end. As I grabbed the bar to reel in the strings, he spoke again but this time with urgency ” forget it, just carry it and RUN”! The force and desperation of his request made my stomach flip, I grabbed my pack and the bar, whistled for my dog and charged across the field towards our car. The humidity made my jeans cling to legs making it difficult to open my stride, the air was heavy creating it hard to breathe, my backpack felt heavy and the long strings were trailing behind me. All of a sudden I was living out a nightmare I’ve had so many times growing up. Being chased by a storm but not being able to get away because it felt like I was running in quicksand. The realization made me sick and I slowed to a walk and looked behind. He was just about caught up and yelled “faster”! Jumping back into my sprint I whistled again for my little dog to keep up and then set my sights on the car, it felt like miles away. Suddenly I hear the sad wailing of tornado sirens and both my body and mind goes numb. As we approach the car I yell for him to get out the keys as I unsuccessfully try to wind up the string. We all clamber in, with me in the backseat tangled in string and Ty and the dog up front. We spin out on the gravel road and charge for the main black top. The cars were moving too slow and our hearts were racing in panic as we approached an intersection and blared our horn. Dont they see the skies?! Dont they remember what happened three years ago? We get out to the main road and speed off towards a shelter that we had scouted out earlier that day. Looking out the back window towards the orange skies, I see a grey/purple funnel. A long skinny tail that quickly becoming longer and wider, gasping I yell for him to drive faster and forget the shelter. We would get cut off if we IMG_0576tried to go there. Our phones were loud and consistent with texts from worried friends and alerts from the weather radar to take shelter. It began to rain as we picked up speed, laying on the horn, going through red lights and weaving through traffic. Were we actually trying to outrun this thing? Eyes glued on the road and knuckles white on the steering wheel, he skillfully maneuvers us through town. We get into our neighborhood and there is state patrol on the roadsides and we can see people scurrying to their home or shelters. One woman is holding open her cellar door yelling in a panicked voice for her dog. As we approach our home I grab our phones and dog, I bolt to the door and we both make it inside hysterically running for the basement as the sirens are still blaring. Grabbing our boulder pads we huddle under our climbing wall, awaiting for impact. Sitting there in silence I feel the fear come out of me in the form of a sob and uncontrollable tears, the amount of emotion locked inside me could not be restrained. I cried out of fear, for destruction, for the loss of life and for once again escaping the wrath of a tornado. The sirens persist for another hour as we sit numbly on the cold basement floor responding to loved ones that yes indeed we were ok. The sirens subsided and as we walked outside into the sunshine, we saw a beautiful rainbow. I took it as a sign a promise from God that we were going to be ok. We praised the Lord for life and protecting our family once again.IMG_0577

Half Dome

yosemtireHis voice is barely audible over the howling of the wind and the rustling of my jacket and gear on my back. I am watching as the rope slowly slithers up the side of the mountain, giving me an idea of what he is doing. The wind seems angry, threatening to tear us from our position on the glossy smooth granite. My heart is pounding with fear and excitement as the clouds are rolling in and the valley is no longer visible from where we are clipped in. Stories of people dying on granite from electrocution come to the forefront of my thoughts and I glance at my three partners wondering if we would meet the same fate. Trying to shake these dark feelings I gaze over at my partner. We have been tied about 5 feet apart on the same rope. As our eyes meet she flashes a brave smile and if she has any fear she hid it well. We had just climbed 3 pitches like this, talking each other through the moves, if one of us slipped the other one would be pulled off as well. It wouldn’t have been a death fall but it sure wasn’t something I was ready to experience. Jamming our fingers in the under cling of a flake and smearing our toes on the slippery granite; we moved fluidly together always keeping the 5 feet consistent. We would grunt encouragements to each other and when fear took over she knew how to keep me going. In my opinion there are two types of adventure junkies. There are those like me who crave the rush and raw simplicity of these outdoor pursuits, despite being completely terrified 80 percent of the time. Most of us have to train and push ourselves physically and mentally far out of our limit, while other people seem to have a natural knack for being graceful and extraordinarily good at everything they pursue. I also like to believe that these “other people” do not feel fear or maybe they embrace that feeling more naturally as it allows them to feel fully alive. Our leader and the climber on the end of my rope belong to that “other people” group, while me and our 4th climber struggle to contain our anxiety.

The clouds have completely covered our views of the Sierras and appeared to be rapidly moving in on us. Feeling the temperature drop I zip my jacket up over my mouth and The rope stops and I hear him yell “slack”. Quickly feeding the rope out I talk myself up for the next pitch. It was supposed to be the most difficult pitch with its slick long traverse bringing you around to the start of the dyke. Taking a deep breath, I begin moving up the granite. The first couple of feet was easy but as I approached the bolt and started to move left I eyed black marks on the rock that I could only assume to be rubber from previous travelers. Bracing my palms on the face,  I leaned in on the balls of my feet and pressed my hips close to the rock, I could feel each foot slipping just slightly as my weight moved from side to side. Moving as fluidly and quickly as possible across the several feet of shiny rock, I made my way to the next available slopey hold, leaving just enough slack for my partner to begin the traverse. She begins confidently and makes it several moves in before her leading foot slips and she slides just inches down the rock. My heart drops and feeling desperate I begin cheering and begging her on, assuredly she continues and makes it across. As she nears me I start climbing again and start up the dyke. The dyke is an interesting feature that runs up about 4 pitches in a kind of spine-like formation with small round holds close together. We start up the next obstacle like a ladder, finding fun and reflecting on the adventure so far I cant hide the smile spreading across my face. We made it though the hardest of the pitches and we were all going to get to the top of Snake Dyke! Then we hear thunder and realize the clouds that were once in the distance,  have moved in all around us. Our leader looks down at us two girls, our fourth still at the chains and out of sight below. I can see the doubt in his eyes, pleading for someone else to make the call. I look over at my partner, she is tense I can tell, with our fourth having limited experience and moving slowly we could not out climb the pace of the storm. What took minutes felt like hours as I evaluated our options.