Friday, December 31, 2010

The Beginning of a New Year -or- A Recipe for Disappointment

It's the end of 2010. The beginning of 2011. New Years. Reflection of what has occurred, and anticipation of what is to come. It is when we are able to turn over a new leaf, wipe the slate, and begin to further better ourselves and our surroundings........blah. blah. blah.

Yeah, I'm a New Year's humbug. I've never really enjoyed it. Making resolutions I've never had any real intention of keeping (and it's always the same ones.....pick up after myself. exercise more. etc.) It's a nice thought, but after the first two weeks, it's just not going to happen.

The actual eve of New Year's isn't much better either. I think it's all the hype that ruins it. The pressure to have epic plans at some raging, completely private A-list party.....Whether you go out or stay in, it's all just a setup for disappointment.

If you stay in, you start to think "Gosh! What am I missing! I should be out celebrating and having a grand ol' time with everyone else!" And then you can't enjoy the rest of the night because you are thinking that if you had gone out you'd be having so much more fun.

If you go out, you are just surrounded by people you don't know and could care less about ringing in the new year with, and either you are too drunk to know you are having fun (in which case you wake up with a terrible headache and can't, for the life of you, remember why you wanted to go out in the first place), or you are not drunk enough and can only focus on the fact that you don't know a single drunken idiot that is around you. Your favorite watering-hole is packed full with every hermit in a 50 mile radius who has decided that New Year's Eve is the one night a year they will venture from their cave, so not only do you not recognize a single face, you also can't even shoulder your way up to order a drink.

Either way, you aren't enjoying the moment of celebrating the things that are to come, but are instead far more concerned that you aren't having the fun you think you ought to be having, which, in turn, makes your night even less fun, so then you start to concentrate on the fact that it's New Year's Eve and you aren't having any fun. Then something happens which causes you to miss the count down, and then not only are you not having fun, but you've also  completely missed the beginning of the New Year! Now, your night is ruined, the end of your year is ruined, and the beginning of the new year is already off to a bad start. It's a terribly vicious cycle, and it happens every year.

So if you are wondering if there is something wrong with you because you can't even enjoy a simple night, like New Year's Eve, the answer is no. Everybody is disappointed on New Years. It's the way it works.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Living the Dream

Big Sky, Montana, in an apartment the size of a shoebox (maybe 400 sq ft), less than 10 minutes (walking) to the lifts, and skiing every day. I really don't think it gets much better than waking up to this every day. Ok, maybe waking up to this and 15" new powder would be better.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Fall in Review

So here it is, mid-November, two weeks away from Thanksgiving. I've spent the majority of the Autumn feeling essentially homeless; all of my belongings strewn about between three different locations and not having a place to call my very own. My computer kicked the bucket, I had a dog for a week (which is a slightly short story for another time), I went on a hike or two, and I've traveled between Whitefish and Edmonds to Eugene and back to Edmonds to Whitefish to Bozeman and Big Sky and then back to Whitefish and down to Portland, back to Edmonds to Whitefish, and finally I have been able to settle down in the little shoe box I can now call home at Big Sky (ski resort), Montana.

Since arriving at Big Sky, I have done twice as much hiking as I was able to do this summer, got a new computer (well, technically it isn't mine, but I get to use it), the snow has started to fall, and I was able to cross a few things off The List:

#45: make an earring holder
# 46: knit a sweater #55: finish knitting my pink blanket

#58: learn to knit socks

and, most importantly

#89: see a moose

Monday, October 11, 2010


The lids sealed, the jam set, and it's delicious (but, what wouldn't be with six cups of sugar in it?).

Saturday, October 9, 2010

#7: Learn to Can Foods

Status: in progress

I don’t have a canner. I don’t have access to one either. Nor do I currently have the funds to go out and purchase one. However, I am now out of the woods and I do have access to a kitchen. So naturally I thought today would be a good day to attempt to make and can some huckleberry jam.

In theory, canning seems to be quite easy. All you need is the fruit, some jars, and pectin (oh, a canner too, but that’s just a minor detail). I followed the directions in the pamphlet from the pectin box; mashed up my berries, added the lemon juice and water, boiled everything, and added the six cups of sugar (yes. six.), boiled again, then jarred and lidded. (I was told, from a trusted source, that it isn’t completely necessary to do the water bath with jam) Now…..I’m waiting. In less than 24 hours I may (or may not) have some deliciously sweet, sweet huckleberry jam. I may also be able to cross an item off of my list.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Huckleberry pancakes,
Huckleberry pie.
Huckleberries in jam,
My, oh my.

Huckleberry milkshakes,
Huckleberry tarts.
Huckleberry cobbler,
Where do we start?

Huckleberry muffins,
A huckleberry sauce.
Huckleberry smoothies,
And huckleberries for your boss.

Huckleberry ice cream,
Huckleberry wine.
Huckleberries in my mouth,
They taste oh so fine.

Huckleberry cheesecake,
Huckleberry crisp.
With huckleberries in everything
You just can’t miss.

Huckleberries on cereal,
Huckleberries in beer.
With huckleberries in the freezer,
You can have huckleberries any time of the year!

Friday, July 30, 2010

My Project

Some time ago I received an email from a friend who was doing a “Mission.” The mission was to do 101 different things in 1001 days. Kind of like a “Bucket List.” I thought the idea was nice, so I filled out my own mission. I had a range listed from things I’d always wanted to do to things that would improve my health to things I wanted to learn. However, after writing it down, I mostly I forgot about it. Every now and then I would come across it and cross off the few things that I had done, but I never really set out to actually complete the list (plus I think I had put down a few things that were slightly unobtainable at the time).

Fast forward a few years……..I still think the idea is a good one, and, with the very recent and extremely tragic and unfortunate loss of one of my best friends, I feel that now, more than ever, I should be enjoying the novelties of life and completing the things I have always wanted to do, before it is too late.

So here is my new project. 101 things to do. All to be completed by the time I turn 30 (which is less than four years away……**shudder**). There is no specific order in which they need to be done, and I will comment as I complete each task. It will be a journey and an adventure with challenges and obstacles, and a sweet sense of satisfaction and self-worth when I am done…..and hopefully, maybe, someone else will be inspired as well.

101 Things to do before I turn 30

1. Read “BBC’s 100 books to read
2. Memorize my favorite poem
3. Learn about mushrooms
4. Learn about bees & how to harvest honey
5. Apply/enroll in school for Masters degree
6. Learn a language
7. Learn to can foods
8. Learn to tie different knots
9. Be able to identify 30 types of different birds
10. Be able to point out over 30 different wildflowers
11. Learn the different arts of bonsai
12. Run a half marathon
13. Have a body fat % of 20-25
14. Enroll in yoga class
15. Have cholesterol in lower end of healthy range
16. Omit anything with partially-hydrogenated oils/corn syrup/MSG/artificial ingredients from diet
17. Don’t drink soda for over a month
18. XC ski for exercise in winter
19. Hike the Pacific Northwest Trail
20. Go sky diving
21. Visit (at least) 2 new countries
22. Go shed hunting (and find some)
23. Go mushroom hunting
24. Visit 30 out of 50 states
25. Hike 100 miles in Glacier
26. Start an annual “girls only” trip
27. Ski 10 different mountains
28. Visit 10 different National Parks
29. Organize camping box
30. Be able to fly fish on my own
31. Donate hair
32. Volunteer 300 hours
33. Purge clothes closet
34. Learn to make the bed everyday
35. Learn to put my clothes away after I take them off
36. Move/organize everything out of parents house
37. Begin writing again
38. Buy my own car
39. Buy a house
40. Save $5,000 in my savings account
41. Donate blood
42. Send a letter to everyone I love
43. Learn to paint
44. Learn to draw
45. Make earring holder (10.25.10)
46. Knit a sweater (10.18.10)
47. Learn to sew
48. Sew a dress
49. Make scrapbook for Costa Rica
50. Make scrapbook for Iceland
51. Learn to quilt
52. Make a quilt
53. Learn to make stained glass
54. Knit a skirt
55. Finish pink baby blanket (10.7.10)
56. Finish wildflower notebook
57. Work on full-meal recipe book (30 pages)
58. Learn to knit socks (9.28.10)
59. Make a t-shirt quilt
60. Put India pictures together on a CD
61. Organize all arts & crafts stuff
62. Buy a panoramic lens
63. Buy a wide angle lens
64. Buy a telescopic lens
65. Photograph another wedding
66. Buy clear sleeves for cards
67. Set up stock of photographs (cards, prints, etc)
68. Sell photographs
69. Get a new computer
70. Get an external drive for all my pictures
71. Organize pictures on said drive
72. Learn to use photo editing program on computer
73. Set up a website for my photos
74. Subscribe to an art/photo magazine
75. Submit photos to the RMSP monthly newsletter assignment
76. Write an artists statement
77. Brew my own beer
78. Go wine tasting
79. Cook 30 meals I’ve never cooked before
80. Send out Christmas cards
81. Have a real, hard-copy address book
82. Watch top 10 most influential movies of all time
83. See Shakespeare in the Park
84. Get a dog
85. Learn to whistle
86. Grow a garden
87. Get a new tattoo (sorry, mom)
88. See the northern lights in full color
89. See a moose (11.2.10)
90. Own 5 bras (at once) that (actually) fit
91. Work in a book store
92. Work in a yarn shop
93. Mend all holey jeans
94. Own 3 pairs of jeans (at once) without holes
95. Get all broken watches/jewelry fixed or get rid of it
96. Ride a rail snowboarding
97. Learn switch snowboarding
98. Be equally proficient at both skiing and snowboarding
99. Watch a meteor shower
100. Subscribe to National Geographic
101. Wake up early just to watch a sunrise

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shine on Amy Grace

Yet another reminder to teach us the value of life, how precious it is, and how easily it can be extinguished. Alive today, gone tomorrow. Sometimes we can see it coming and prepare, sometimes it is unexpected and catches us off guard.

Amy Grace, you had a way of filling every room you entered with your light, your love, and your laugh. I admired your enthusiasm and your spunk and sparkle for everything. You were vivacious, full of energy, and you lived and loved life to the fullest. The world seems a little emptier with out you in it, and there is an obvious void where you use to be.

I am going to miss craft time, and dressing up. Dance parties and midnight sledding. Adventures, bowling, drinking beer, and your infectious laugh. Most of all I'm going to miss you.R.I.P. lady. Hope heaven is one big dance party waiting for your arrival.

peace & love


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My Day Off: The Tale of an Epic Adventure

Note: I am not at liberty to disclose the exact location of where the following events took place. All you need to know is that we are in Montana, in and/ or near the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.

Saturday marked my first full day off since we arrived to work at Spotted Bear Ranch on June 5th (or somewhere around there). Up until just a few days ago I have been doing the job of two people…..that’s when one of the guides decided to get married (ok, I’m sure they had been planning for quite a bit longer than that) and bring his new bride up for a few weeks and put her to work. Which has worked out very well for me because not only do I have another female counterpart, but I also finally got a day off. So did Cory.

I wanted a tough hike. You know, a steep leg-burning-I’m-so-tired-when-I’m-done-I-can-barely-make-it-to- my-pillow type of hike…..with maybe a little wading and fishing thrown in there too, for good measure. I guess, in the end, I got exactly what I asked for.

The plan was to go up to (creek #1), a hike we have already done before but know the fishing is good. However, when we got to the trailhead for (creek #1) there was already a car parked there, marking that someone had beat us to it (maybe not our final destination….but close enough). Slightly disappointed, but still undaunted, we turned around, looked at a map, and chose a different trail, deciding to go somewhere we haven’t been instead.

We chose a loop, one that would take us up (mountain name) then down to (creek #2) where we would follow (creek #2) out right back to the car. Shouldn’t take more than 6 or 7 hours. We’d be back in time for dinner.

The hike up the mountain was fairly strenuous (though I have not yet looked to see how much altitude we gained), but once we reached the top the view was absolutely spectacular. You could see the river, the bridge, and (almost) all the way down the reservoir. We took a few pictures, found a few wildflowers, and continued on our way. We got to the river just about two – two and a half hours after we started and ate our lunch of left over BBQ.

Next up was walking down the creek to get back to the car. Now when I say “walking down the creek” what I literally mean is in the creek, wading from bank to bank depending on which side looked the flattest and safest to walk on. The creek was quite canyony (which sometimes made walking/wading difficult, although, luckily, the deepest the water got was just a little below the waist), and since I’m kind of a wuss the water was cold on my feet (I did eventually get use to it). However, it was a very beautiful day, and at the first waterhole we came to I pulled out a nice little (15-16”) fish. The first 4 hours of the wading portion were quite enjoyable; we talked, we joked, we fished, we waded on.

Then it was getting close to dinner time (7:00pm), at this point we should have been getting back to the car in order to be at the ranch so as to not be late. No biggie though, so what if we won’t be eating with everyone else, it’s pizza night, cold pizza is just as good, right? We won’t be that late, the canyon appears to be opening up just after this next bend. We’ve already been walking in the water for over 6 hours now, another half an hour to the car, tops. Unfortunately that was not the case......

Bend after bend after bend appears before us. I slip on multiple rocks trying to hurry through the water. One cuts into my ankle giving leaving a gash just above the anklebone. I don’t pay attention to it and ignore the pain. Another bend in the river. The sun has slipped below the canyon walls. Another bend. And another. I feel panic starting to rising in my chest, all I can think about is that we are going to be the next episode on “I Shouldn’t Be Alive.” I don’t want to be caught in the dark trying to wade through a canyon creek. We didn’t tell anyone where were going, they think we are at (creek #1), Cory tells me “go slow, one step at a time, don’t worry, we’ll make it.”

**Note: Mom, before you start to freak out we were prepared; extra clothes, enough food, a water-filter. We’re not total idiots.**

We tried to find game trails that ran parallel with the creek, sometimes it worked and we cut off a bend, sometimes it didn’t and we’d go right back into the water. Finally after about nine hours of wading we found the trail leading back to the road, and though the sun had dipped below the mountains it wasn’t yet quite dusk yet. 11 hours after we had started our adventure we were at the car. Cut, scraped, tired, bruised, and a little chilled, we were finally on our way back home, with cold pizza waiting for us in the fridge.

The. End.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A lesson in Fly-fishing

In the summertime, as I am sure I have mentioned before, Spotted Bear Ranch is a fishing in people pay lots of money to come stay in one of our "rustic" cabins and have professional, Orvis endorsed fly-fishing guides take them to some of the most beautiful, semi-remote fishing holes in Montana.

I, however, have absolutely no idea how to fish, let alone even hold a fly rod - which is almost sacrilegious when you are surrounded by people who practically live and breathe fly-fishing. In fact, the only time I have ever really even tried to fish was the summer after fourth grade when we took a road trip up to Alaska. I think we tried 2 or 3 times, and the only person to catch a fish was my brother. I never got so much as a nibble. So, in order to try to lessen the friendly banter that I receive on a daily basis (I am greatly out numbered here 1:13 on the female:male ratio) I had my fist lesson on fly fishing.

Cory took me to "the falls" (I have been told, upon pain of death and/or exile, I am not to tell exactly where we fish). He tied my flies on, showed me a little hole where the fish hang out, and gave me a mini-lesson on casting, mending, and setting. Right away I catch a fish. It's just a little guy, hardly worth even a picture (though I wanted one anyway) and was released before I even had time to protest. I try again. Another fish! Unfortunately, this one gets away because I didn't "set" hard enough. The next one gets away because I "set" too hard. I don't understand how to set.

Next hole: Cory shows me more on casting and mending. I can see where the fish are but none will bite my fly. I practice casting and mending while Cory jumps across to a rock island and fishes from there (catching fish on about every other cast while I, instead, instantly get everything tangled). By the end of the afternoon I did catch (and reel in) a few fish, but I'm pretty sure that I caught more trees and shrubs.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How to Set an Outhouse on Fire

In attempt, with the new owner of Spotted Bear Ranch, to clean up the grounds out here we have been taking everything that is not going to be used here and has just been sitting in various cabins for the past 3, 5, 10 years and either creating giant burn piles or making trips to the dump. Included in these burn piles are the outhouses that 1) do not get used anymore and 2) are leaning so badly that if you did use it you actually do run the risk of falling in (one of my greatest fears as a child when we would go camping and have nothing to use but outhouses).

Of course, being that we are out in the woods with not much in the way of entertainment (save the fishing and hiking and all that nature crap) we had to find a clever way of creating some sort of exciting explosion in order to burn down the outhouse.

Attempt #1:

We stood the outhouse on top of one of the smaller burn piles, placed fire starter paste around the rims of the toilet seats (it was a double crapper), hung a glass jar full of gasoline from the ceiling, lit said starter paste, then (somehow) broke the gasoline filled jar. Jar exploded sending the gasoline spewing everywhere inside, the shitter up in flames in a glorious orange fireball, cheers from the eight of us who were watching the pyrotechnics show........and then, slowly, the fire petered out.


Attempt #2:

After much deliberation on how to, once again, set the outhouse on fire (send in a flaming arrow? already been done, plus no bow and arrow. Toss a gas filled bottle with a flaming rag into the air, shoot it with a shot gun and have it rain down fire onto the structure? Nope. a) can’t shoot a shot gun on the premises and b) last time some one attempted that a tree was almost set on fire) Finally it was decided that we would just douse the outhouse in gasoline (careful that it wouldn’t blow up from the first attempt), and then create a fire trail. So gas was trailed from the gas sodden building and lit on fire. The fire raced towards the outhouse, and, for the second time, up in flames it went. However, the damp, green grass deemed more flammable than the old dried out building, because, like the last time, the fire lasted only long enough to burn off the gas before going out, though the grass continued to smolder.

Now it was starting to get annoying. I mean, how hard can it be to burn down a building? People’s homes catch on fire all the time, so it shouldn’t be that hard for seven wilderness men and one girl to do it to a little old, crooked shitter, right?

Attempt #3:

In the end it was filling the outhouse with logs and newspaper that we finally able to reach our goal of burning the thing down. Nothing fancy. No explosion. No ball of fire. Just the slow lick of flames creeping up from the newspaper to the kindling to the logs to, finally, the building.
The conclusion:

Newspaper is the number one contributing factor to buildings catching on fire. Accidental fires in homes occur because people have too many old newspapers lying around, so in order to protect your home from fire you should probably stop reading the newspaper.

Also: none of us would be very proficient arsonists.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spotted Bear Ranch

".......where the adventure begins......."

This is my new home (at least for the summer). Two hours from Whitefish (about 50+ miles down a dirt, pot-hole-filled road), out in the woods, pretty much in the middle of no where. There is electricity, when the generator is on, and, in the main lodge, there is access to internet. But no cell phone service.

Cory and I live in a little cabin (though it's really not much more than a glorified tent). It's a little tippy, pretty dark inside, there are a few leaks (though, I think we may have patched those up), and no running water......but it's still home.....and I still like it.

Spotted Bear Ranch is a wilderness ranch where they do guided (fly) fishing and hunting tours (bear and elk). I'll be working as the housekeeper/server. Cory is a guide. And in our off time we'll be hiking and fishing and taking pictures.

So far (we've only been out here 2 weeks) I really enjoy living in the woods (minus the bugs -ie: mosquitoes- and limited access to showers -but I should get use to that soon). I have no concept of what day it is, and, unless I try really hard to think about it, I could completely forget about life back in the "city" and be totally content living out least for the moment.

wildlife count: 3 bears, 4 rabbits, 2 snakes, countless deer, 1 elk, and numerous moose or mountain lion......yet.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Now what?

We have been home for just about a week and a half now. It took us a few days to get acclimated to the time change, as well as just being back in the states in general (for the first few days I was waking up around 5:30am, and then when I would see cumulus clouds I'd think "volcano!").

As glad as we are to be back (real beds, real showers, fresh fruits and vegetables, good beer) we are definitely missing Iceland already. Our trip, to sum it up in one word, was epic. I don't believe I have ever been on a trip where I have seen so many amazing sights, met so many friendly people, or come away from a trip and instantly wished I could go I was epic. (*more pictures have been posted. it's most certainly not all of them, but it's Iceland in a very small nutshell*)

The time has come now (after almost two full months off) to go back to work (if it can be called that). We have made it back to Whitefish, MT and are in the midst unpacking from Iceland and repacking to head out to the woods. Spotted Bear Ranch (in the Bob Marshall Wilderness) will be our new home for the next few months.......and I'm sure it, too, will be an adventure filled summer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I'm in the process of editing down my pictures (I think I had a little over 1,000 that I downloaded onto my computer.....though most were repeats that needed to be deleted). It's been demanded that I start posting, so I've put few pictures up. Keep checking back for more.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Home Again

Four weeks is a long time to be living out of a backpack in a country where you don't understand the language (and don't even have any comprehension of it at all because once you think you've figured out how to say one simple word and then say it in front of a local you find that you still have it totally wrong).

Four weeks is a long time to be constantly one the move, afraid that by staying in one place for too long means you will have to forfeit seeing something else (and that just can't happen in a place where everything you see is pretty much the coolest thing you have ever seen in your life).

Four weeks, however, was not long enough to see everything I wanted to see. This trip has been one of the best, most amazing experiences I have ever had, and, though I'm ready to be back home, I'm truly going to miss that little island of ice and fire.

.........though, I can't say I'm not excited for showers with real towels and beds with real sheets.........Good bye Iceland. Hello's good to be back.

My Birthday in Reykjavik

I can't say that it was the most wildly exciting birthday I've every had, and by "wildly exciting" I mean it wasn't spent in a drunken haze with shots and beers and absolutely no recollection of the happenings when I woke up this morning (though, some of that had to do with the fact that there wasn't that much money left over in my travel fund, and piss-beer for $7 isn't really what I wanted to drink on my birthday).......but I did have fun, I did spend it in Iceland, I did have a couple celebratory beers, and I did spend it exactly they way I wanted to; walking around the city on the last full day of the trip with friends.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Westman Islands

History Lesson: The Westman Islands (or Vestmannaeyjar in Icelandic) were created from volcanic activity, the most recent being Surtsey in 1965. The largest, and only inhabited Island, is Heimaey, to which we made an impromptu, and very last minute, visit. (We had met a couple of French-Canadian girls in a hostel the day before who said they were going to visit the islands and how cheap it was, so, of course, we then had to look into it and go as well) In 1973 an unknown volcano (Eldafell) erupted, burying part of the town in lava and enlarging the island. Afraid that the lava was going to close off access to the port, the people brought in giant water guns and sprayed the oncoming lava flow with sea water to slow it down, and hopefully stop it. Luckily it worked, nobody died, and the port was saved.

Fast-forward 37 years. Eyjafjallajökull is now the erupting volcano, and the only way to get to Heimaey is to take a three hour ferry (since air traffic is most likely going to be canceled).

We arrived on Heimaey) often called ''the pearls of Iceland'' in may travel and guide books) in the midst of an ash storm. It was like landing in a war zone. Ash and dust filled the air, coating everything in a blanket of grey. The streets were practically deserted, and those that were out (walking or driving) donned dust masks, and the police that were patrolling the streets were handing out masks to those who didn´t have any.

The four of us bee-lined it for the hostel and stayed indoors until things calmed down. The two girls were only staying one night, so they lost part of a day of exploring, but Cory and I have decided to stay two nights and were able to see pretty much everything we wanted. We climbed to the top of both volcanoes (Helgafell and Eldafell), see the town after the ash settled and cleared a bit, we walked to the very end of the island, and (the highlight of the excursion....and possibly the entire trip) saw some puffins! (which are probably the cutest birds on the planet)It was the perfect (almost) end to a practically perfect trip.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Ways of the Icelandic Nightlife

Let me just preface this by saying that the Icelanders sure know how to have a good time. They are, by far, the craziest partiers I have ever encountered.

At home, we tend to begin our fun (and debauchery, if one is so inclined) around 8 or 9 (maybe 11 at the very latest) and generally only go until about 1 or 2. But not here. No. The party doesn´t even start until 2 and continues well into the early hours of the morning. Sure you´ll see people out drinking before that, but trust me, they´re just getting ready to begin. The stumble out of the bars and clubs around 5 or 6, donning sunglasses, and head off to work......actually, that last part may not be entirely true, as things often don´t open around here until 11 or 12, which is probably because they are still trying to sleep off the booze they had imbibed the night (morning?) before.

I have a couple of theories for this outlandish behavior.

Theory #1: Since there is so little sun in the winter time, the Icelandic people spend almost all of their time inside sleeping and staying warm. In doing so, they begin to store up (what we will call) ''energy units.'' These ''energy units'' accumulate until there is no more room for them, and if not soon released will explode, sending the poor Icelander into oblivion. Luckily, though, it is just about this time (when they don´t think they can hold any more in) that summer arrives and though the sun does set below the horizon, it never gets much darker than dusk. And because it never gets dark, there is nothing to indicate that it is actual night time and, perhaps, one should think about going to bed. Thus, the Icelanders stay up all day and ''night'' (only taking naps when absolutely necessary) until all of their ''energy units'' have been completely depleted..........and when they have run out and don´t think they can go on for another minute, winter hits, and they go into hibernation mode and this crazy circle of the two day\night extremes begins again.

Theory #2: Because things (most of all alcohol) are so expensive here, the Icelanders can only afford to go out once a week. So, in order to make the most of it, they choose to either go out Friday or Saturday night (which ever has the most going on that particular weekend) and make the most of it by staying out with their friends as long as they can last.

Whatever the reason, the nightlife here doesn´t compare to any I have seen anywhere else, and though I have found it slightly difficult to keep up, it´s been an experience to try. So grab a beer and party on.


Thursday, May 13, 2010 say that three times fast

Our adventure (for this particular leg in our trip) started in a little hostel in Hvol (which is about three hours to the east of the volcano) We were debating on what to go see for the day.....more waterfalls and rivers or the volcano. We were debating, that is until we looked west and saw that giant mushroom cloud of mayhem that has been disrupting so much of the world. There was no way we could drive away from that site.....I mean, you see an active volcano with ash spewing into the air, and the only rational thing you can do is drive toward it, right?

Although our main mission was to get to the volcano, we did have to make a few mandatory stops at two of the major waterfall attractions in the south. However, there was nothing could have distracted us from our goal, including the cloud cover that began to form after passing under the big, black, threatening ash cloud that blocked out some of the sun.


Hoping that the cloud cover would dissipate on the back side of the mountain we headed towards a hostel made up of turf homes. It was at the end of a very long half paved/half gravel dead-end road. Unfortunately the clouds were still hanging low and the road up to the actual hostel appeared to be closed. Disappointed, frustrated, and hungry we turned back to Hvolsvollur (not to be confused with Hvol because they are two totally different towns), which was the last place we had seen any sort of establishment.

We never found a payphone there, but we were able to sustain ourselves on some less-than-satisfying burgers and fries. The sun started to break through at this point and we could, once again, start seeing that ominous cloud. With food in our bellies and slightly lifted spirits we went back the way we had just come from until we found a church on a hill that had promise of a better vantage point in which we could view this spectacle. It payed out.

We sat on the hill taking pictures and just watching the ash rise until the clouds started creeping back in and we realized it was getting a little late. Toying with the ideas of going back to the end of the road and sleeping in the car or chancing it and driving to the next hostel (where who knows if they would have even been open at that hour.....which, by the way was only about 8:00pm), but unable to decide, we left it to chance and flipped a coin. The coin said to sleep at the end of the road. And that's what we did......hoping that the morning would be clear.


holy shit!!
me: response...........
cory: caitlin! you have to look at this!
me: what?
cory: the volcano!!At this point I came out of my slightly sleep-deprived daze and realized where we were. I swung open the car door and to my awe-struck eyes saw clear skies, the sun not quite up and over the horizon, and a massive, pink pluming cloud of ash billowing out of the mountain side. It was one of the most mesmerizing sights I have ever seen. You can see the ash come up as the cloud gets bigger and bigger, and you are just unable to look away. We stood there for I don't know how long, it might have been 20 minutes, it might have been close to an hour......and every now and then we could hear the faint sounds of earth and ice breaking and crashing.

WWOOFing on Vallanes

PART TWO: the work.....US vs The Cursed Cous-Cous

The work on the farm wasn't actually all that hard. We would be woken up around 8/8:30am and have some breakfast, which was always "Gabriel's Breakfast" (I think it consisted of barley grain, apples, dried cherries, cinnamon, and maybe some other sweet spices) and bread. It was delicious the first day or two we had it....but it quickly got old.

Work began at 9:00am, and, like I said, wasn't extremely difficult or exhausting. Lunch, which always happened to be some sort of barley soup, was around noon, and then we were back to work by 1:00pm. The work day ended at 5:00pm and we had the rest of the day (which, since it pretty much doesn't get really dark anymore, was until about midnight or 1:00am when you realized you should probably go to bed soon) to do what we wanted, only having to be back at the monster house around 6:30ish if you wanted to eat dinner with the rest of the group.

Our job for during our stay ended up being to sow the carrots in the carrot field. Normally, I think, this was a task that took maybe a full day (and that's if you were taking your sweet-ass time with it). However, that was not true if our case. Eymundur decided to do an experiment and mix the carrot seeds with cous-cous instead of sesame seeds (he does this to ensure that the carrot seeds are evenly dispersed when they are planted). The problem with this though is that the seeder we were using (a two wheeled apparatus that basically drops and sows the seeds for you) didn't like the cous-cous. It was like putting kitty litter into a record player. We would take two steps and the wheel would clog up. We spent more time de-jamming this stupid contraption than actually sowing seeds, and after one afternoon, a whole day, and part of another morning I was about ready to hammer-throw the f*cking thing across the field. We decided that the cous-cous had won, and, defeated, we walked back to the Monster House to find Eymundur. Luckily (I guess more for him than for us) he knew of a farmer that had a different type of seeder we were able to borrow, and newly equipped for battle we returned to the field. This time, in the span of a little over two hours we were able to complete what had originally taken us almost two days. Victory was finally ours.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

WWOOFing at Vallanes

Week #3, which included an introduction to organic farming, new people, and vegetarian meals, is coming to a close much sooner than I was expecting (though, I can´t say that I´m sad about the vegetarian meals part.....I like my meat).

We have spent the past week WWOOFing on a farm near Egilsstaðir. For anyone who doesn´t know, WWOOF is an organization where you work worldwide on organic farms. So basically there are farms all over the world that you can travel to, and in exchange for room and board you do a bit of work........probably one of the hippiest things I will ever do, but it was extremely interesting, and just one week was not quite enough time.

I suppose that I will probably go into a bit too more detail about the farm than I would like for one post, so I will be breaking it down into parts. (Mostly because it´s kind of a nice day, and I´d rather go outside, plus, no one reads long blog posts anyway).

PART ONE: the farm.

The first farm we chose is mainly a barley farm, however, Eymunder (the farmer) also produces a lot of other products like massage oils, beet chutney, some sort of organic crackers, and a few other things (so basically he doesn´t grow just barley). We didn´t choose it for any specific reason other than he was the first one to respond to any of our emails.

It´s a nice looking farm, quite large in fact (by large, I mean a LOT of different fields) and it even has it´s own ''forest'' which Eymundur planted himself (it´s puny, the trees are. but it is rude to snicker at the trees). To the East are beautiful, snow-covered mountains, and to the west there is a giant lake about a 15-20 minute walk from here (where, apparently, a like monster resides), On the property is a little white church with a red roof (I think I read some where the at one time farmers owned their own chuch......but I´ll read up on it later and explain).

We live in what is called ''The Monster House.'' It is the equivilant of two trailer homes put together (perpendicularly <----new word?) and the outside is graffiti-painted (well, I guess maybe more mural-like). It can house up to about 14 people, I think, and currently we have about 10 or 11 right now. It´s very peaceful here, but unless you hitchhike into town there isn´t a whole lot to do in your free time....other than go to the lake or the forest. The weather has been beautiful (sunny), but in the early afternoon the wind picks up and it´s much nicer to sit and read on the sofa and just look outside than actually BE outside.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Seyðisfjörður: quite possibly the makings of the best horror film ever

Seyðisfjörður is such a unique little town I thought it deserved a post of its own. It is a little fishing town at the end of a fjord on the very east side of Iceland, surrounded on three sides by giant, snowcapped mountains. The only way to describe it is as a town that lives on the brink of a blissful existance and complete insanity. It sucks you in with its quaint peacefulness, and just when you are getting ready to leave, the mountains close in like teeth until you are trapped. Unable to leave, every day is spent exactly as the last until they all run together and you can´t tell yesterday apart from tomorrow. (very much like ''Groundhog Day'')

It was completely random that we even found our way there. We were heading east towards Egilsstaðir and, flipping through the travel book, randomly found a town (just a little further east of Egilsstaðir that had a hostel) described as ''a writer and artist´s hub with a bohemian flair.'' That should have been our first clue as to what we were in for.....because everyone knows artists and writers are just a tad bit crazy in the head. But we went. We drove up, and up, and up into the mountains, over this pass, the snow gradually piling up higher and higher on the sides of the road. Then we descended into one of the most beautiful valleys I have ever seen. (words can not do it justice, so you will just have to wait until i insert the picture once i am home. but it will go here)

Upon arrival we were directed to the old hospital-turned-hostel where we were to stay for the next night or two. We were greeted by Richard, and American man with a Brittish accent trying to get his residency in Iceland. He was slight of frame, and his thought process was so inconsistant he could could not string together more than two or three sentences before changing the subject he was talking about (generally mid-sentence). It was quite obvious that he, at one point, had drank a few too many cups of mushroom tea or maybe a few too many hits of LSD.

It was at this moment that I was convinced that we were in the midst of a horror movie gone terribly wrong......Four travelers coss over a trecherous mountain pass, though blowing winds and snow (it was actually quite nice as we came over the pass, the sun was out and we stopped quite a bit to take pictures) and find themselves in a sleepy fishing village at the end of a fjord. Late in the night (it was actually mid-afternoon), with no other place to go (I´m sure we could have turned back if we had really wanted to) the only refuge they can find is at a converted hospital run by an old, drug-dazed American.........

We survived the night, however (no ghost hauntings, and Richard didn´t have any crazy hallucinations and try to kill us in our sleep), and the night after that. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay, climbed (most of the way) up a mountain, saw the town, drank lots of beer, and had some very interesting conversations with Richard (he´s crazy, but he grows on you).

We hardly saw a soul in town, but it is apparently quite busy in the summertime, and I can hardly imagine what it must be like in the summer time with the hustle and bustle of the artists and writers and tourists who flock there.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Highlights from Week Two

As the (somewhat cliché) saying goes, '' time flies when you are having fun,'' and week #2 has ended. While in Akureyri we met two Americans (who happen to be from Bellingham, of all places) who had rented a car. So we jumped in with them and traveled together for the week. We went from Akureyri to Lake Mývatn (staying in a little cabin in Reykjahlið). From Reykjahlið to Húsavík. From Húsavík to Seyðisfjörður. And from Seyðisfjörður to Egilsstaðir.

We´ve seen\done:
- the waterfall Goðafoss
- Stakhólstjörn (a psuedocrater filled marshland)
- lava formations at Kálfastrandarland & Dimmuborgir
- The Námafall Hverarönd mud pots
- Volcano Kraftla & the crater Viti (though it was a bit snow-filled)
- swam in the Mývatn Nature Baths (considered the ''Blue Lagoon of the North'')
- climbed up a volcano-crater and walked around the rim
- climbed (almost most of the way up a mountain side)
- partied with the locals

And now we are beginning week #3 (also known as the second half of our trip) where we are staying and working at an organic farm just south of Egilsstaðir. There are quite a number of other kids that are here as well, so I am predicting that it will be just as interesting as the first half of the trip has been.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Icelandic Hot Baths

I´ve come to learn that the way you survive the chilling winds in Iceland is to take a dip in the numerous hot baths that are in virtually every city you come to. We´ve been to the standard city swimming pools (which are heated to about 29 degrees C and have hot tubs at about 40+ degrees C). We´ve been to some natural hot springs that were kind of out in the middle of no where, and were pretty much just holes in the ground. And (most recently) the nature baths up in Mývatn, which are also known as the ''Blue Lagoon of the North.''

Standard procedure of entering these hot baths goes as follows (except the one that was in the middle of no where):

- pay at the desk (usually somewhere around 300-500 kroners)
- go into the changing rooms. undress. shower (without your swimsuit on), making sure to wash every part of you (and just in case you´re not sure if you´ve gotten everything, there is a sign with red shading that indicates the ''hot spots'' you should be washing)
- then you run as fast as you can from the door of the changing room to the pool (because it´s really cold)
- then you just relax and sit until you can´t sit in the heat and water anymore.Once you get out of the hot tubs, have gotten dressed and are wandering around in what was, just a few hours prior, a chill-to-the-bone-freezing-cold wind in what was already a fairly cold city, isn´t quite as bad. The wind isn´t as noticeable, and the nip in the air hardly feels like its there. Needless to say, every town we come to we look for the hot baths, and we are good to go.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Week One Highlights

Today marks the end of our first week in Iceland. We have gone from Seattle to Reykjavik, Reykjavik to Grundarfjörður, Grundarfjörður to Blönduós (via Borgarnes), hitch hiked from Blönduós to Varmahlið to Sauðákrókur, then Sauðákrókur back to Varmahlið, hitch hiked (again) from Varmahlið to Akureyri.......and that brings us to where we are now. Akureyri.

Highlights of the week:
- bird´s eye view of Reykjavik from atop Hallgrímskirkja
- our first waterfall in Grundarfjörður
- an icelandic sunset over the Westfjörds in Blönduós
- the natural hot baths just north of Sauðákrókur
- stayed up to witness the aurora borealis with our hosts (also in Sauðákrókur)
- met some americans in the hostel and drank rum & cokes in Akureyri

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Icelandic Landscape

The Icelandic landscape is like nothing I´ve quite seen before. In one sense it reminds me a little bit of Eastern Washington, though mostly just in the sense of color. You have those golden wheat fields in E. Washington, and here there is that same golden color, only instead of wheat, it´s the tundra. Flat, flat tundra. No rolling hills. There is also the occasional river and waterfall that have cut their way through the land, their banks looking more canyon like than the gentle slopes you see back at home. Sheep and Icelandic horses dot the country side as well (though, I have seen many more horses than sheep) And like I´s flat. Very flat. Flat, that is, until the snow covered mountain that has (literally, I´m sure) exploded from the ground. Like if you took a pen, drew a straight line, then at the end of the line made an upside-down 'V'. Thats what it looks like. No gradual rise, no foothills.......just *BAM* mountain! It awes me everytime I look outside.
Unfortunately, I happen to be slightly (ok. maybe more than just slightly) prone to motion sickness. So I have spend a good amount of time missing all of this beautiful scenery because after looking out the window for a good 10 minutes, I have to try to sleep so as not to puke on the nice looking Icelandic gentleman that is sitting in front of me.

did I mention there are virtually no trees in Iceland?

Friday, April 23, 2010

An Icelandic (volcano) Update

First, I am told that I need to report on all this volcano brew-ha-ha, and what its like to be in ''the midst'' of it all. The only problem with that is, to be perfectly honest, I have no idea what is going on. The volcano has had, with from what I can tell, very little impact actually on Iceland (other than those poor tourists who came to vacation on the island and then couldn´t get back home because they were from Europe). We have just been touring up in the north, with very little connection to the outside world (meaning, we haven´t seen a tv pretty much since we got here), and since it hasn´t affected anything up here, we haven´t heard much about it. Plus I don´t think the Icelanders are all that phazed about it, I mean, heck......their island was MADE from volcanic eruptions. Big deal.

Anyway, disappointingly, I have no exciting news about it to report. I realize now that we probably should have done everything in our power and resources to try to get to the volcano when we were in Reykjavik. However, being that we were completely sleep\food deprived and were (for whatever reason) more worried about how we were going to get around the island......we failed to look into the lava-spewing, ash-cloud fuming volcano. (stupid. stupid. stupid) But, the last time it erupted, it lasted for, like, a year or we´ve got pleanty of time, right????

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Phase Three: make it to iceland

status: completed

We are on our second day in Iceland. We stayed in the City Hostel in Reykjavik and had the pleasant expierence of waking up at 6:30 this morning to a big beer-bellied American shouting ''I´ll kill you! I´ll kill you, you f*cking french f*ck!'' to a little elfen ginger, who was (obviously) French, no more than four feet from where we were sleeping. They started to get into it with each other, I´m not sure why or how it actually started (the beer-bellied American said the French ginger was hitting him in the head with his sneakers and was all very early), but we decided it must be time to get up and start our day.

Welcome to Iceland.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Meet Cory.

<----- This is Cory.

Cory is traveling to Iceland with me.

Cory and I worked together (my first winter) at the front desk at Whitefish Mountain Resort (aka: Big Mountain, where I've been hiding out the past two winters......I mean working.)

Cory Facts:

1. He's a true Montanan (read: small town, hunter, fisher, skier, outdoors-man). Born and raised, he'll probably die there too..........someday.

2. His summer job: fly fishing guide. His winter job: ski bum.......yeah, life's rough.

3. Although he's been to Mexico, he's never done much traveling outside of the country (because Canada totally doesn't count) Stick with me, kid. I'll take you places.

4. Favorite animal: Wapiti. (go look it up.)

5. He likes photography, folf, cooking, music, the snow.......and me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Phase Two: play in seattle

Status: in progress

Being from Whitefish, MT, Cory has never really been to the Pacific North West for much of an extended stay. Thus far this is what we have done:

1. An "Urban Hike" in Seattle's Pike Place Market.
Flying fish whizzing over our heads, nibbling on the free samples of fresh fruits, vegetables, and chocolate spaghetti, and walking along the waterfront and up the alleyway of the infamous "gum wall."

2. A Movie.
"Alice in Wonderland" at the 3D. 3D is awesome. Tim Burton is awesome.

3. The butterfly exhibit.

4. An Edmonds Sunset.
"It's an Edmonds kind of Day"

5. Dug up weeds in the yard.

6. A hair cut.
Cory. Not me. I did the cutting


7. The Zoo.
Lions, & Tigers, & Bears.....and elephants and zebras - Oh My!
But the Red Panda was my favorite

And so far that has just been the first week. We still have one more adventure filled week to go before we head out to Iceland.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Phase One: move out of apartment.

Status: completed.

Though, not without a few tears of frustration on my part. Moving is always stressful, but when you move your entire (albeit studio) apartment into one 5x10 storage unit in one day, it's entirely too overwhelming. Doubts that everything is going to fit are pure torturing at about one in the morning, but somehow fit everything did.

Items deemed "lost forever" (but were found during the move):
1. Sunglasses (brand new in November)
2. Watch (the only one I own that still works)
3. Liners for my ski gloves (would have helped about a month ago, though)
4. Necklace (don't actually wear it, but it has sentimental value)
5. Keys (you know, helps to start the car)
6. A thing of makeup
7. Passport (technically this was found during the first move in December....but I thought appropriate to include because finding it is the entire reason we are going to Iceland in the first place)

All items were found in the most obscure spot I could have thought to put them (or, didn't think, because, obviously, I had no idea where any of them were beforehand)

Items that I now have no idea where they are:
1. Ipod (damn.)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Plan.........sort of.

The plan is only tentative (as with most travel plans, all is apt to change). The only things that are fact are: Cory will be my travel partner. We leave Seattle on April 18 (arrive in Iceland April 19). Will be WWOOFing (working worldwide on organic farms) on two farms in May. We depart May 19th. The up in the air part is where we will travel before the farms. So far we are going up to the W. Fjords, then to Sau∂krokur, a couple of nights in Akureyri, and maybe check out the whaling town of Húsavik before heading to Eglissta∂ir and Selfoss (where the two farms we will be WWOOFing on are), making our final stop in Reykjavik.

I want to do some hiking. Cory wants to go fly fishing. We want to see some whales and some puffins. Some waterfalls and some hot springs. I want to take lots of pictures, and meet new people, and try something new everyday.

So thats the outline. How we are going to get from place to place is unknown.......but I guess that's just going to be all a part of the adventure.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Next up: Iceland

Lately I've been feeling the urge for a new adventure. I've been in this town for just about a year and a half now, the snow hasn't been that great this winter, and I have gotten bored with going out to the bars every night. It's been almost two years since I left the country (Canada doesn't count) and I thought a little jaunt in an aeroplane would do me some good (even though I greatly dislike flying). I'm sure a nice long road trip around the country would have sufficed.........but probably not for long (the need to be immersed in a different culture is almost overpowering). So, instead, I chose: Iceland. (plus the tickets were really cheap)

"Iceland? Why Iceland?" is generally the response I get from people around here. (said almost in a "why-would-anyone-want-to-go-there" tone)
"Why not?" is usually my reply.

But seriously, why not? There is so much to see and do there, and that question can really be asked about anywhere anyone visits. It perplexes me that this is the reaction I get when I say I'm going to Iceland. Maybe it's because they're just jealous. I would be, too, if I wasn't already going.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not all who wander are lost

An aimless wanderer. That's how (for the moment) I have described myself. Now I don't say "aimless" because I don't have have any direction of where I want to go in life. I know where I want to go, and I'm pretty sure I know how to get's just that, currently I don't really want to. So I appear (more or less) to be aimless. Bouncing around from place to place (Portland, Seattle, Whitefish.....) doing jobs that aren't really getting me to where I want to be (which is something to do with photography). But they're fun jobs (or at least, if the job isn't, the perks are). And I am having fun......and that's what matters to me right now.

Maybe one of these days I'll get back on the path to Career Town, but until then you can read about my adventures as I amble around on some other trails.