Thursday, July 31, 2008

shipping out

i'm off this afternoon to work as law enforcement for the fire burning 70 miles from our place. we are hoping that brandon gets in on fighting the fire soon also, but that will have to be after the boy scouts depart.

i am sure to all you blog readers, it is a funny thought that i will be law enforcement, but indeed that is part of my job. i have even written my first ticket (not to a person so much as an improperly parked car, but who's keeping track?).

in other big news, i finally kayaked the canyon. it is sad that i waited until 2 month of working here to conquer it, but alas the initial run is behind me and went well. i even managed a stern squirt (a basic-level play move i have never done before) and had a combat roll in the largest rapid on the run. all-in-all, a good run on the snake!

just wanted everyone to know we are happy and healthy and enjoying life in the wild west.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

say hello to my new friend...

that's right folks, this girl finally learned how to drive a manual. finally being the imperative term there. i have been painfully ashamed of myself for the past 9 years that this has not been something i have mastered. i like to pride myself on being a good driver (a fast one admittedly, but a safe one none-the-less). since i began driving i have had many people try to teach me: papa, old boyfriends, friends, brandon, step-dads, bosses... the list goes on. i just never could master it without the enjoyable bucking effect or speed-racer-style backing.

what, you say, was the trick this time? a man from the czech republic whose limited english included the critical word: slowly. one boring afternoon at work i turned to ondra and sheepishly said, "would you teach me how to drive a manual?" "not a problem. it is perfect," was his reply. and a perfect match of teacher and pupil it was.

so we set off down a long, winding, hilly gravel road where he calmly encouraged me to practice many un-fun things (i.e., starting on a hill, downshifting, braking suddenly, etc.). i got it though and since then i have been a shifting machine. i can't get enough of it-- i am driving all over the place!

this right of passage has liberated me. i feel like a more independent, capable woman now and i am so happy to shake off those feelings of shame that have been haunting me over this for the past 9 years.

next goal on the list: learning how to back a trailer. i'll keep you posted on the progress with this task.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

back to the original

i had to do it. i had to go back to the original layout of our blog. the green just wasn't working for me, perhaps because that color seems to have taken over my life (the truck i drive at work, the uniform i have to wear). it is just too much, even for this green-loving girl. so this is how i chose to spend my limited time at the library. :)

a large slew of boy scouts will be working on the forest in the coming weeks (we are talking hundreds here) so brandon has to work on his days off in order to prepare for the trails the eager boys will be cutting in. this means no major camping trips or the like for us this week, but i am enjoying a couple of days to get the stuff done that i need to.

however, brandon had to take the car to town this morning, leaving me at our place 16 miles out of town. so i rode my bike. currently i am feeling a little sore, a lot tired, and grossly sweaty. it was wonderful though and definitely made me feel like i conquered my day. always a good feeling.

the offer for visitors has been extended to all and so far only papa has taken us up on it. to the rest of you, get on it! we want to show you this beautiful place that we are temporarily calling home.

Friday, July 11, 2008

essence of a season

here it is folks... the epitome of summer:

for those of you who will not be viewing this site in person, you will not know the true contrast of my sandal-laden feet. to me, this chaco tan, the many mosquito bites that dot my shins, and my favorite pair of long shorts equal the necessary ingredients for a great summer. (as do huckleberry ice cream, bike rides, & campfires, of which we have also had our fair share.)

another requirement of summer (& life of course!) is great friends, which we have quickly acquired a heaping handful of. this photo is of megan and i after we forded the river behind us. see the utter glee we managed to summon despite our frozen feet and soggy socks? true, enduring friendship seems to be made up of such feelings. megan is on my crew and is someone i can be silly with one moment and profoundly deep with the next. she is simply wonderful.

now this photo is a little dated, but necessary for telling the story of our summer. this fuzzy, brown creature is our old friend grizz! megan (see above) is who i was hiking with when we came across the little guy--perhaps that is when we solidified a great friendship as we "conquered" our first bear encounter together. this photo is from the trail and was taken without engaging the zoom. that's right, we were altogether too close, but fortunately our encounter was with a fully-satiated bear.
and this is me fully ready with bear spray in hand as we by-passed the i look back over this blog, i notice the photos of brandon have been few and far between lately. i'll try to work on that. he either seems to be working or behind the camera. don't be fooled however, he is having the time of his life! of the 30+ days we have been here, he has kayaked all but 8. yeah, rough life for him, isn't it?

we have also been doing a lot of reading, and for some reason the books i keep picking up are about afghanistan. i am totally caught up in learning about this country right now, although i am unsure of why that is exactly. the most recent book i am reading, west of kabul, east of new york, is simple and intriguing. here is a quote i took a liking to:

all of human history can be seen, can it not, as an argument between those who
try to explode the existing forms and those who try to freeze things as they
are. the second impulse always wins in the end, except it's never the
end. the cosmic winner is always change, except change can never settle in
as the permanent state. history is a river, except people can only live in
lakes, so they dam the current and build villages by still waters--but the dam
always breaks. and always, some folks ride the flood, screaming slogans
and exulting. ultimately those folks disappear in the foam and tumult, and
when the waves die down, you always find the bureaucrats in charge again,
saying, "okay, we've slipped downstream, but this is where we should build our
permanent home. "

permanent home, the impossible dream.

so now that i reread this quote before posting, i realize why this resonated with me--it is our mission to live in the current, the deep desire brandon and i have for the life we create. this passage expresses why this is mission of ours is so challenging and why it doesn't always seem possible. this year we are certainly letting go of the need for the permanent home. it doesn't exist for us here.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

back from the void

"finally!" you all say. i know we have been seriously lacking in the blog post department, and especially in the photo department. hopefully this will redeem us a bit!

we have had a lot happening in the past few weeks. i went to the river ranger rendezvous in salmon, idaho. we got to go on a day-long raft trip on the upper section of the salmon which was awesome. i have spent so much time on the lower section, down near riggins, it was a nice change to see a different part of this river.

after that we went to pocatello for a week for forest protection officer (fpo) training, completion of which allows us to write tickets. so now we are unarmed and not all that dangerous, but we can write tickets of up to $5,000!

while we were at fpo training we celebrated our 3rd anniversary. it wasn't the most special, but we won't forget it. pocatello doesn't have a lot of nice places to eat so after driving for a couple of hours (and both of us edging on food-deprived crankiness) we settled on texas road house. if it is ever your anniversary and you find yourself walking to anything with the words "road house" in the name, return to your car and go anywhere else.

this photo is from when papa came to visit--it is such a treasure of a picture! we had a wonderful time rafting and it was certainly a memorable father's day. i work with two guys from the czech republic, ondra and jirka. we took them on a hike last week and accidentally mentioned our hopes of reaching a mountain lake. i say accidentally because when these two set their mind to something there is no chance of stopping them. the map we had wasn't detailed enough and therefore we weren't on the correct trail for reaching the lake. after a couple of hours in the heat brandon and i had to insist on turning back. ondra and jirka were terribly disappointed, but we could have hiked all night and never found this elusive body of water.
this photo sums up our life: brandon hitting something big and me tentatively going along side him. i swam shortly thereafter on this shallow creek, banging up my chin, nose, helmet, and legs. i think this trip solidified my discomfort with "creeking". for now, i'll just stick to deep rivers--ironically they are much safer.

and this photo is from the (steep) hill behind our house. this is also the hillside where the local elk herd are spending their summer. we live in a little compound of sorts and are having nightly bonfire gatherings with our neighbors. the river is about 300 yards past the yellow house, so we are within walking distance, which brandon has been taking advantage of daily.