Blonde Moments, humor, Kvetching, PSAs

The Mountains are Calling and I Must…NO.

Go Jules Go Title Graphic The Mountains Are Calling and I Must NO_10JUL2019

I glanced at the clock. 1:15pm PST.

No matter! I’ve still got eight hours of daylight left here in beautiful central Oregon!

00100sportrait_00100_burst20190628204309608_cover
It’s 10:00pm in Oregon. Do you know where your local hard cider is?

I checked Google maps and my guidebook. Gack. Seven miles too far. I turned the car around.

When I eventually pulled into my target destination, the Green Lakes trailhead parking lot off of the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway, I inspected the tags hanging from other cars’ rearview mirrors.

That kid at R.E.I. better have sold me the right one.

America the Beautiful Park Pass
Don’t be fooled. Apparently there are 47 different kinds of national/state/city park tags you’ll need to purchase if you want to (spoiler alert) suffer wildly.

On top of the colorful car tags, I also spotted a lot of these:

Mountains-For-Auto-Car-Bumper-Window-Vinyl-Decal-Sticker-Decals

The trailhead parking lot was nearly full, but I found an empty spot – thanks to someone who probably started their day before noon unlike some jobless hobos. I filled out a “day use voucher” (a.k.a. Evidence I Was Here Should Things Go Horribly, Horribly Awry), stuck one half in the slot beneath the signage and the other half in my backpack.

Since quitting my corporate job in March, I’d been hiking constantly. In New Jersey. Now, three weeks into my new Oregon life, I was seriously upping the ante.

img_20190707_135103-1
That’s how we do(odle).

The first five miles to Green Lakes, though mostly uphill, were breathtakingly scenic and only slightly buggy, with a well-marked, moderately trafficked trail.

 

By the time Uncle Jesse and I hit the lake and stopped to enjoy some peanuts and cherries, we were feeling bold.

 

“Once you’ve taken in the glory of the area, continue along the shoreline toward the east, where you’ll wrap slightly around the lake before noticing a number of side trails…” my trusty new guidebook read.

That sounds…confusing. I shook off any niggling doubts and headed east. At least, I was pretty sure it was east. Soon I found what was certainly the proper path. I persisted onward, but the lingering snow made it almost impossible to tell if I was still on a trail, let alone the right trail. I wonder what cougar tracks look like…

Every now and then we’d hit an open area and I’d gaze around hopefully. There is seriously no trail. Uncle Jesse and I bushwhacked for another seemingly endless stretch before I finally gave up. That’s it. Broken Top [mountain] is behind me, that means the water is in front of me. We’re going west (f%@&, it’s west, right?) until we hit the damn water.

The next thirty minutes felt like twelve hours, until at long last, I heard the familiar sound of rushing water.

00000img_00000_burst20190708135519802_cover
My Jersey self never fails to think it’s the din of ever-present highway traffic.

I spotted people on a wide, luxurious trail…on the other side of the creek. F%#&. We walked south along the water’s edge, constantly being forced back uphill to more level ground, stomping over fallen trees and coarse, woody debris. In spots where it might have been safe, if highly unpleasant, to cross, the bank on the other side was so steep, we’d never make it up to the trail.

Eventually I succumbed to our less than ideal Fate. Uncle Jesse, always eager to show off, sensed my resignation and bounded towards the water.

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190708135426932_cover
It ain’t no thang!

“WAIT,” I said in my sternest Mom voice. “COME.” The water was rushing with the force of Donald Trump’s combover. Uncle Jesse stopped in his tracks, just inches from the crashing falls, and ran towards me.

I said a prayer and put both feet in. It was deeper than I thought, almost thigh-high. Okay. This is fine. It’s not so bad.

Uncle Jesse followed and immediately got scooped up by the raging current. I grabbed his collar, shocked by the water’s might. This won’t work. With not a second to spare, I gathered him in my arms, above the roaring waves, struggling to keep my balance. I made it nearly to the other side when my shin collided with something hard. A rock? A log? Holy s&#% it’s cold!

Uncle Jesse sprung out of my arms, and after a heart-attack inducing second or two, scrambled onto solid ground and up a steep hill. One more step, two, three… my head spun and my heart pounded. There. I clung to soil and suddenly realized my phone -secured in a race belt (all right, fanny pack) around my waist- had been completely submerged.

I freed it from its pouch as I crawled uphill, utterly amazed by my own stupidity.

00000portrait_00000_burst20190708183002566
I suspect this will look more impressive over the coming days.

When I made it to the top, finally back on the proper trail, I looked for a place to sit down. I sucked in a few deep breaths, adrenaline coursing through my veins. You’re lucky no one is here to witness your fool self.

I decided to keep walking, glancing down at the rushing rapids. If I hadn’t caught Uncle Jesse… I tried not to think about what might have happened; the next half mile was even more treacherous than where we’d crossed.

00000portrait_00000_burst20190708135418191
Quick question. Why are you so dumb, Mom?

We trudged the final, endless mile back to the car, swatting away hundreds of blood thirsty mosquitos, the pain in my left leg growing.

 

107…108…I did not know it was possible to sustain this many mosquito bites
and live to tell about it.

When we reached the parking lot, I peeled off my soaked, mud-covered socks and collapsed in the driver’s seat. Thirty minutes later, a dripping wet, bug-bitten, bleeding blonde could be seen purchasing several bottles of wine from the local Fred Meyer.

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190709101906160_cover
And this souvenir was spotted in my trusty guidebook. (Vegan disclaimer: Many, many bugs were harmed in the making of this post, but not on purpose.)

~*~*~*~*~*~

Had any fun run-ins with Mother Nature lately??

~*~*~*~*~*~

Giveaway Junkie, humor, Summer is Hot, Wipe the Drool

In the Middle of the Woods…NAKED.

***Winner of my latest blog contest announced below!***

Go Jules Go title graphic In the Middle of the Woods Naked_3JUL2019

“Just past the two topless women circling the labyrinth…”

I sat in a large Adirondack chair, my chin tilted skyward. It was only 70 degrees, but the sun was determined to make an impression and I took full advantage.

“…Keep going until you hit the river, then turn left….”

I flexed my feet in the sandy grass, my calve muscles twinging.

Still with me? Okay, now keeping going until you see a yurt on your left. HI!”

I snorted, entertaining myself by imagining how I’d describe my location to friends back in New Jersey. Fleshy, human-shaped blurs passed in my peripheral vision every 10-15 seconds. Hey! Maybe my Duolingo app works off-grid…

00100sportrait_00100_burst20190624150855742_cover
Me. Relaxing Taking blog notes (and selfies).

Don’t get me wrong. I know how to chill.

img_1412
See? CHILL.

But there was a lot going on here.

00000img_00000_burst20190623163507826_cover
By here I mean Breitenbush Hot Springs.

Never heard of it? Allow me. Breitenbush Hot Springs is a place in the middle of the Oregon woods where people go when they decide they’ve had far too much caffeine and/or clothing.

“I help coach a running and yoga retreat [there] in June! It’s right up your alley! As ‘Oregon’ as it gets! Blog fodder for days!” The Byronic Man, my oldest bloggy friend, marketed it to me late last year.

gojulesgo-byronicman-BFFs
Remember the good ol’ bloggy days?

That’s right. The Byronic Man! After eight years, we decided to meet in person for the first time under the most mundane circumstances imaginable.

77fa8374-
Oh. I slay me.

When the running-yoga-hot-springs-retreat topic was broached, I was prettttty sure I was calling Byronic Man’s bluff by saying, “I’m in!”

“The hot springs are ‘clothing optional,’ so we’ll be going from 0 to 60 in the getting to know you department,” he cautioned.

“Sounds like I can pack light!” I replied. “Just promise to ship my ashes back to New Jersey if there’s another cougar this year.”

Byronic Man cougar.png
I may have had some fun with this.

It was on. I was brave now, after all. I did things like quit my job and sell all of my stuff. In fact, by the time I got to Breitenbush, I was already moved out of New Jersey and unpacked at my new apartment in Bend, Oregon – a plan that magically came together just before this intriguing hot springs retreat.

So, three days in the middle of the woods filled with nudity, shared showers, running uphill in front of strangers, and no cell service, wine or caffeine? BRING IT.

After descending a long (and I mean long) gravel driveway that gave me Maine road trip flashbacks, I checked into my Breitenbush cabin, heart in my throat. Thankfully, The Byronic Man and I had had an opportunity to meet for a beer just before the retreat, so that left only 10,327 things to worry about.

img_20190619_171027
I’m just going to say it. My hands were shaking.

The first evening kicked off with an “easy” 3-mile run.

I approached the group -ultimately 13 women and 4 men- with a big smile, hoping to make some new friends.

And you know what?

I TOTALLY DID.

I fully intended to turn this experience into a fabulous, ongoing series about how awkward and awful the whole thing was, but… it was… kinda… AWESOME. I mean, I was the only person there who wore a bathing suit, and I’m pretty sure the retreat coach has several videos of me running uphill, but… I LIKED IT. No wine or cell service in 72 hours and I’D GO BACK.

And I’m not just saying that because I lost five pounds.

I’m really sorry. I’m disappointed for both of us. But hey! I’m sure I’ll be mortified again soon!

~*~*~*~*~*~

And the winner of THE WORLD’S BEST BEER KOOZIE AND DECK OF CARDS IS…

Encounter Soul!

Her entry begins…

The minivan was packed. Travel games galore were in easy reach of our 10, 8 & 4 year old boys. My meticulously planned itinerary was a glance away as we began our 3,000 mile, 55+ hour adventure from San Diego, CA to see my sister in Seattle, WA…”

For the rest of the tale, click here!

Encounter Soul, CONGRATS! I’ll be in touch via e-mail, and soon, this will alllll be yours:

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190618103220109_cover

~*~*~*~*~*~

Blogging

The Long View: My First Cross-Country Road Trip

Go Jules Go The Log View My First Cross Country Road Trip title graphic 12JUN2019

Colorado Rocky Mountain hi-igh…” I belted at the top of my lungs, cranking up the volume. Sorry, Uncle Jesse, but this has to happen.

00000portrait_00000_burst20190608171035272
S’okay. I’m used to your sh*t by now, Mom.

All right, so maybe I wasn’t actually driving through Colorado, but close-a-freaking-’nuff.

mvimg_20190611_092457
Somewheresville, Wyoming, as seen from I-80W.

“I can’t believe you’re already in Wyoming!” Jenn texted.

“My ass can,” I fired back.

After leaving my home state, New Jersey, last Friday to embark on my very first (…and last?) cross-country road trip, I was starting to feel the burn. I was also starting to feel like I was living on borrowed time, having survived three extremely questionable roadside motels and one AirBNB in a town where Uncle Jesse and I bumped the population to 750 for the night.

Elmwood, Nebraska. …Wow, you’ve never heard of it. Huh. …What? No. I didn’t say anything. …Wait’ll Kristen at the post office hears about THIS.

As part of my latest Grand Caper -which involved quitting a very stable job and selling all of my stuff- I decided to move to central Oregon because I heard they had good beer and I still wouldn’t have to pump my own gas. Unfortunately, since they haven’t perfected teleportation and don’t ship Labradoodles who only drink ice water and hide in bathrooms because they’re scared of the dark, I was forced to drive myself.

Maybe if someone around here could pull his weight…

All in all, though, I’ve hit the jackpot. Sunny weather, friendly people, working car. I hit a few snags in Cheyenne, but my Maine road trip in April prepared me for all of that and more.

Go Jules Go car stuck in mud
Maine mud or quicksand: you be the judge.

Things I’ve learned so far, having covered New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and (partially) Utah:

The (giant, giant) bugs on I-80 all have a death wish.

img_20190611_180200
I’ve been on a lot of highways, and I’ve never had to actually use the gas station squeegee until this trip. …Every time.

Some stereotypes are…well…

mvimg_20190609_180904-1
Nebraska: Um… Yup. (Okay, in fairness, I did a quick pass through of Omaha and Lincoln, and both looked pretty great.)

Gary, Indiana is NOT what The Music Man will have you believe.

mvimg_20190608_190832
Sorry I couldn’t get a better picture. Stopping my car would have been a baaaaad idea.

You can fit way more into a 4-door sedan than you might think.

00000img_00000_burst20190611180228502_cover

Photos of Cheyenne, Wyoming are invisible until an old-timey filter gets applied.

00000img_00000_burst20190610190734611_cover

Three days on the road turns me into a person who wears socks with sandals.

mvimg_20190609_195216
And also a person who will tempt her dog to keep her company by giving him his own pillow.

The world is as big or small as you make it.

mvimg_20190608_184335
OH MY GOD I HAVE A GREAT IDEA LET’S FACETIME GRAMMY!!!!!!!

As I hit the scan button on my radio for the thousandth time and massage my neck, the same thought I’d been having for days pops back up: Holy sh*t. I’m DOING THIS. I’m DRIVING -AND MOVING!- ACROSS THE COUNTRY. I remember all of the winding roads that led me to this moment and laugh. Jiggling my right leg and checking my odometer, I suddenly feel like I earned every mile and every view.

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190611184936560_cover00000portrait_00000_burst20190611183802126img_20190611_18320900100lportrait_00100_burst20190608182827968_cover00000portrait_00000_burst2019060817304399100000img_00000_burst20190608150400154_covermvimg_20190608_180917_1

~*~*~*~*~*~

Just For Fun, Wipe the Drool

Who Knew Connecticut Had it All

Go Jules Go I Never Knew Connecticut Had it All Title Graphic 29MAY2019Before I make the big move out west next week, two of my closest friends and I decided to spend Memorial Day weekend in one giant love fest.

We picked New Milford, Connecticut because Jenn told us to and everyone should listen to Jenn. Apparently I’ve never actually spent any time in the place just two hours from my home state, New Jersey. With Mother Nature on our side, I was shocked to discover Connecticut had it all.

WINE FOR DAYS.

NATURE FOR WEEKS.

SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES TO IMPRESS MY FRIENDS WITH MY VEGAN CULINARY PROWESS.

SO MANY OPPORTUNITIES FOR UNCLE JESSE TO IMPRESS US WITH HIMSELF (THEY LET HIM IN *EVERYWHERE*).

CHILDREN I ACTUALLY LIKED.

mvimg_20190526_164146
“Your dog is older than me!”

GROWN-UP CHILDREN I ACTUALLY LIKED.

GOOGLE PIXEL 3 CAMERA PORN.

STORES I COULDN’T AFFORD EVEN IF I SOLD MY GOOGLE PIXEL 3.

00100lportrait_00100_burst20190526124159498_cover
By the way, this photo is for sale.

FLEA MARKETS I COULD AFFORD BUT WASN’T SURE I WANTED TO.

AND LAST, BUT CERTAINLY NOT LEAST: THE MOST GLORIOUS HANDLEBAR MUSTACHE I’VE EVER SEEN.

Go Jules Go Elephants Trunk handlebar mustache 26MAY2019
The only thing wider than my smile – this beauty.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Where have you traveled and found unexpected treasures?

~*~*~*~*~*~

Blogging, humor, New Jersey is breathtaking

Home is Where the Start Is

Home is where the start is Go Jules Go title graphic_22MAY2019

“I haven’t gotten to bed at a reasonable hour in at least a week,” my sister, Lori, said, sliding into the driver’s seat of my car.

She pressed the “2” button on the armrest of my car door. After picking her up and explaining the floppiness of my sandals, she offered to drive the rest of the way to dinner where we were meeting a couple of friends.

My certified preowned Acura had proved worth its weight in gold over the past four years. Lori enjoyed the extra leg room her button press provided, using my car’s pre-programable driver’s seat position feature. It only allowed for two pre-programmed seat positions, and, well, I haven’t dated anyone in over two years shut up she was my number two.

img_20181208_215751325
Although Jackson was definitely in the running.

Earlier in the week, one of Lori’s two indoor cats had taken off on an impromptu rumspringa, and between that, raising teenage twins, working as a 6th grade teacher, and recently cutting sugar from her diet, things were looking bleak.

“Well…I still don’t have anything to blog about for tomorrow…,” I offered meekly. “I was thinking about doing something about gratitude… Mostly since Grayson [your spoiled, jerk, OMG-I-love-him-so-much cat] is back!”

Go Jules Go Grayson the cat
“Oh that’s right. A warm bed and regularly timed meals appeal to me.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about all that I’m thankful for because many of those things I’m about to leave behind. I haven’t made any splashy announcements, but in two weeks, I leave the only state I’ve ever really called home.

img_20190324_000147
Me earlier this year, drunk thrilled to have caught the final train home to New Jersey after a New York City trip to visit a bloggy friend.

At first, signing a lease on an apartment 3,000 miles away felt amazing. I knew that feeling wouldn’t last. Because I love my life. I love my friends. I love my family. I love stupid New Jersey property taxes and stupid good bagels and the stupid feeling that I’m only ever seconds away from SOMETHING.

dear evan hansen
Today’s plans: this Broadway show. I AM SO SPOILED.

Yet at the same time I know -in that way you just DO- that moving cross-country is perfectly, exactly right. Goodbye a-hole adorable cats, goodbye #2 seat, goodbye everything bagels.

Except not really.

If quitting my corporate job in March and traveling for the past three months has taught me anything, it’s this: the world is a small place. And you’ll always have a home in it.

fullsizer_01
Also apparently when you tell your friends you’re moving cross-country they just start buying you wine.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Have you ever made a big move? How did it go?

~*~*~*~*~*~

humor, Just For Fun

Duluth, Dogs & Drag Queens

Go Jules Go title graphic Duluth Dogs and Drag Queens_7MAY2019

“Excuse me,” a tall, voluptuous woman with bleached blonde dreadlocks beckoned the uniformed man over with her elaborately manicured finger.

Her voice was playful and husky and I noticed an Adam’s apple. She held up the slip of paper in her hand.

“It says my boarding group is ‘basic.’ I ain’t basic.”

MVIMG_20190502_054005.jpg
Mine says the same thing and I’m pretty sure I am.

“No no no,” the Delta employee laughed. “Don’t worry, ma’am. You’re not basic.”

They joked around for a few minutes while I thanked my lucky stars that I’d managed to score a window seat, where I planned to use my winter jacket as a pillow.

img_20190502_053343
When you decide to fly to northern Minnesota in May.

I knew I’d need to stockpile Zzz’s before five days of Duluth’s Homegrown Festival. A friend* I’d met during my Master’s degree residency had invited me to get out of Jersey and attend the festival, and I suspected she wasn’t on my same post-leaving-Corporate-America schedule.

*f&%@#$-amazing-and-deserves-her-own-post friend

img_1412
Hang on, Shawna. You don’t get 12 hours of sleep a day?

In between seeing fantastic local musicians, we subjected her three-legged, one-eyed dog to all kinds of unbidden “fun”…

…saw the sights…

img_1376
Don’t you love the endless sea and sky vista behind us? Apparently your mind would have been blown had we arrived exactly 13 minutes earlier. Also, I’d just like to point out that you’re looking at not one, not two, but THREE left-handed vegans.

…ate so much plant-based foodie goodness…

…and of course, went on oodles of hikes.

The best part of the Duluth Homegrown Festival -a 20 year-strong, nonprofit tradition that features local musicians performing all over town for an entire week- was the close-knit community vibe. For eight straight days, like-minded music lovers united to support their fellow Duluthians, shouting, “Happy Homegrown!” and sharing smiles at every turn.

Besides the bargain booze, highlights included:

img_20190503_203907
Gaelynn Lea and her insane fiddle skills, playing in a church-cum-concert-hall.
img_20190504_204429
Fire, using equipment made by a local female welder.
mvimg_20190504_210915
Jamesg, a white male rapper who dedicated an entire song to fanny packs.
mvimg_20190504_220555
Major road construction + week-long concert series = free seats! Yay!
img_20190504_225801
The Elusive “Poncho Man.” I’m told he does amazing things with his hands while dancing, but this is as close as I got.
mvimg_20190504_232121
This guy. This gal.
mvimg_20190505_002514
And the grand finale – The Latelys. Phenomenal.

And now I’m back in New Jersey.

Sort of.

I may have just signed a year-long lease on an apartment in a city 3,000 miles away that I’ve never been to.

Duluth tarot cards May 2019 Go Jules Go
The Duluth cards told me to.

~*~*~*~*~*~

 

humor, Lists, Project Management

What I Wish I’d Known BEFORE My Month-Long Road Trip

I shift in my seat, lifting a hand to massage the knots in my neck. I glance at my notepad.

148 miles on this highway. Great. At least it’s not snowing. 

mvimg_20190417_120907
Ha. Just kidding. Happy spring.

It’s been almost three weeks since I packed my car, left New Jersey, and headed north. Resigning from corporate America in March, I had had a one track mind:

mvimg_20190318_141356_1
ALL THE TRAVEL!!!!!

It sounds like a dream come true, right? Freedom, adventure, new friends… What could go wrong?

Go Jules Go Title Graphic What I wish Id Known Before My Month Long Road Trip_24APR2019

Unlimited Cell Service? Psssshhh.

After discovering that the middle of Maine was a dead zone (at least for me), I took to hand writing my directions before entering unknown territory. Luckily, the impressively eclectic radio stations provided the perfect soundtrack for my 90s-style, Google maps-less travel. (Rant for another day: Why does New York City radio have the most monochromatic music on the face of the planet?)

directions to Canada
148 miles doesn’t look so bad when you’re singing Beastie Boys at the top of your lungs.

“Fully Equipped Kitchen” Means Very Different Things to Different People

If you’re planning to do any cooking on the road, and assuming your lodging (mostly AirBnbs, in my case) will come equipped with certain basics as described — think again. Here are some common items missing in one or all of my AirBnb kitchens: Ice cube trays, wine opener, strainer (colander), dishwasher soap/cleaner, pot large enough for boiling pasta, curtains (ahem), and spatula.

Curtain-less window
Thankfully, this looks right in through to the bathroom. On a busy highway.

Sitting All Day is Exhausting

Even with my lead foot, I couldn’t turn the drive from Nova Scotia to mid-coast Maine into anything less than a 10-hour trek. After 5-6 hours, everything starts to hurt, and even cycling in frigid, rainy headwind starts to sound appealing.

Jules-collapsed-on-floor
On second thought…

You’re Going to Spend More Money Than You Think You Are

As a [former] project manager, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t fully acknowledge the ‘over deadline, over budget’ mantra that accompanies so many projects – including road trip ones. Besides ALL THE GASOLINE, unplanned expenditures are bound to crop up almost daily. Like, oh, I don’t know, duty charges on your case of wine, forgetting your dog’s kibble and discovering he’ll accept no substitutions apart from homemade people food, and ice cube trays/spatulas/THINGS ANY NORMAL KITCHEN SHOULD HAVE.

img_20190421_180107
%*&*@. He’s never eating kibble again.

But lest you think road travel is all a pile of tears…

Most People Are Mostly Nice. Really Nice.

By far the best part of traveling alone is forcing yourself to rely on the kindness of others. Rarely did I find anyone who wasn’t more than willing to offer the insider scoop, their washer/dryer, or just a general helping hand. I’m headed back to New Jersey with friendships and experiences I never would have had were I to stay inside my comfort zone.

img_20190416_121458
Comfort zone? What comfort zone?

And isn’t that the whole point?

Next time, though? I’m bringing my $%&*@! colander.

~*~*~*~*~*~

Have you ever road tripped? Was it what you expected?

~*~*~*~*~*~