Monday, June 2, 2014

Bahamarama Part Deux

Remember my Bahamarama posts from two years ago? Well, I was fortunate enough to get to do it all over again, this time in a whole new chain of islands that I'd never been to. While we stuck to the Abacos last time, which we love and have visited a few times,  this time we ventured to the Exumas a little further south and a lot more uninhabited. I had a truly unbelievable time and have all kinds of fun photos to share from the past week, but unfortunately I got sick right when I got back from my trip and my head is pounding too much to create any kind of coherent post here right now. So sit tight while I get to feeling better, and take a look at the Abacos trip from two years ago if you like: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Walk It Out

This post is a bit old now, as it's almost full-fledged summer in Florida already (though I know I'll be kicking myself for saying that once August rolls around and I turn into a sweat-drenched fiend, my brain fried from the sun, constantly seeking out water or air conditioning at all times as if they were crack), but I realize I didn't hike this year nearly as much as I usually do in the "cold" months. And so I decided to remedy that on one random last overcast, chilly day by taking the pups and the boyfriend for a walk in the woods, to be followed with hammocking. Lately I've been trying to slow down more, and be able to just stop and be in one spot and actually enjoy it, so a travel hammock is basically a necessity.

This was the first day in a long time I decided I'd take my camera outside with me, rather than just my cell phone, with the intention of posting photos here once again. In fact, my Costa Rica photos from over a year ago (that I never ended up posting here) were the last images on my SD card. So really this post should have come first as the hiatus-breaker, but the one I posted from the cabin weekend just seemed like a grander re-entry. 

But even if this wasn't a grand adventure, I still enjoy having actual photos again that aren't tiny and grainy and on my phone. I have a hard time focusing on the moment so I need these snapshots of my life to refer back to and be able to focus on at a later time.

If it's not entirely apparent (it probably is), despite my efforts, I'm still not doing a fantastic job at relaxing. I am totally making baby steps, and it's slowly but surely getting better, but I still have to move and see and do quite a bit to be able to feel like I'm "allowed" to relax.

While James would be content going into the woods and hanging a hammock up and just laying there all day, I just can't, so hiking followed by hammocking is the perfect combo. I almost wrote "the perfect compromise", but it's not a compromise, it's an addition to my normal routine and and a welcomed one at that. I so value having this living, breathing Xanax in my life to remind me why it's so important to slow down. Even if I'm terrible at it.

I'll get there, it will just take time. And hopefully it will happen before my cortisol levels kill me despite all the hot yoga and kale juice I force into my life (which is an actual worry of mine; I get anxiety over how my anxiety is going to eventually kill me, which is probably not the best strategy to avoid that likelihood). And maybe when that happens, for your sake and mine, I can start writing about something other than my eternal quest for relaxation. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


When I stopped writing here last year, it was strange how naturally and quickly this blog ceased to be a part of me considering how important it had been in the past. But what started as a much-needed outlet, and gradually turned into a fun diary, eventually felt more like a burden and left me feeling blocked. So when I stepped away, the little hole it left in my day-to-day life was a welcomed lightness. For a long time I didn’t think about it much at all, but lately I've caught myself scrolling back through random bits of it and becoming engrossed by the memories it contains. Reminiscing here makes me remember why I enjoyed this little space so much, because, at its center, it was never really intended for an audience. It existed solely for me to document the parts of my life that I wanted most to remember, and somewhere along the way I must have lost sight of that.

I’m understanding more and more how tightly I latch onto memories, and how I almost live through them in a way. When I step back and think about it, my entire life seems like a pattern of memories and anticipation, as I’ve never really been able to fully grasp the concept of the present moment. It just doesn’t seem to exist. Anything I’m enjoying in the present is already in the past, if that makes sense, and that notion actually gives me anxiety. It makes me anxious to know I'm having fun in the present, because it's already gone. But the memories these moments generate can last for so long and be revisited at any time, which makes them valuable and which makes me sometimes neurotically try to capture them. Just today I’ve caught myself looking at a photo taken last weekend over again. I was swimming in a spring, which I only did for about 45 minutes on and off, but this one photo captures the feeling of the day so well, and makes me happy just looking at it.

When I scroll back through this blog or my Instagram, I get the same feeling of happiness. My dad, who loves to joke and give me shit, calls this “Kodachrome”, as in the Paul Simon song that alludes to the way everything tends to look better in photographs than in real life. But isn’t that ok? Through my photos and writing, I can remember everything exactly how I want to, and I honestly appreciate that, especially considering how I in my perpetual cynicism tend to only see the negative in every situation. But the highlights of life--those rare and beautiful and achingly ephemeral parts--are all that really matter in the end, even if they’re not representative of and don’t entirely encapsulate the reality surrounding them. I can never seem to hold on to them while they're happening, but I can live them over and over again in my memories. And in my memories, my life looks vibrant and fun, and any of the negative that happened along the way just seems to fizzle in comparison.

It’s a shame thinking about all of this now, though, because so much has happened in the past year or so that I’ve been away, and I wish I could scroll back through it all here. So, maybe I’ll give this whole thing another go. If it doesn’t happen naturally, I’m not going to force it, but I actually have a desire to see it continue which has been lacking for the past year. 

I suppose I should share the photo I keep looking at, which sort of spawned this entire post. I don't know why this is the one that kept demanding attention. Maybe it was the deep blues, the amazing rocks, or the feeling of just floating weightless in water. Either way, this was it. 

This was taken last weekend when my boyfriend and I took a mini trip that we had hoped to take for our anniversary last month, but the scheduling didn't work out. (And as I write that, I realize how hard it is to pick up where I left off here, because unless you know me or at least follow me on Instagram, a lot has changed in the past year!) We wanted to do something that neither of us had done before, so we rented a cabin a few hours away on the river.

The cabin itself was idyllic. I've always been enamored with small living spaces, like boats and recreational vehicles and treehouses and yurts and adorable little cabins in the woods like this one. Small spaces force you to simplify and focus more on necessities than wants. I love it, and I know it's in my future somewhere. So the second I saw this little cabin, I knew I wouldn't want to leave at the end of the weekend. And when the lightning bugs came out and I started running around like a giddy child, it just further solidified my sentiments. Add to that a small spring 100 feet away and it was perfect.

We planned (or, I planned, because my boyfriend is a walking Xanax who is too laid back to ever be bothered to plan, and I am a neurotic to-do list junky who enjoys torturing myself) a weekend of kayaking and visiting the numerous springs within paddling distances. I had everything planned out to a T, as per usual.

Due to flooding, many of the springs with short runs had backed up with river water and were tannic, so we had to skip them anyway. When I got to this run, though, and was suddenly paddling through crystal clear water and bright red Ludwigia repens, I knew I was in for a treat. 

It may only be April, but the heat was stifling and swimming in a spring was heaven.. as opposed to the freezing cold I'm used to since I tend to only visit springs in winter to avoid crowds. I knew there would be a crowd at this spring, but it was my only opportunity to finally visit it, and since my boyfriend is not a curmudgeonly misanthrope like I am and doesn't mind other people, I just mentally prepared myself for a crowd and dealt with it. It actually wasn't as bad as I expected, and we swam and swam and had so much fun. Maybe he's right and I really am "the fun police". Maybe it's ok to share recreation with others and not always set myself up for disappointment, or forgo fun things altogether, by demanding solitude. 

Lol I'm just kidding, I hate rednecks.

After awhile, we headed back. The other springs we had wanted to visit were flooded out, so we just went back to the cabin and hung out. It was so perfect and relaxing that I didn't mind the slight change to my plans that usually leaving me feeling anxious since I always need to be occupied. I actually relaxed. Crazy, I know.
And as I laid in the hammock and busied myself with absolutely nothing, James was playing on his slackline, which is so much harder than it looks. The roles were a bit reversed.

The next day I was hoping to visit a local legend I had read about ages ago and knew I needed to eventually meet. An old nudist hermit who is the unofficial guardian of a spring? Why would I ever not meet him? He was every bit as interesting/eccentric as I expected, and we had so much fun hanging out with him that we ended up blowing off our other springs visit so we could stay longer. We swam and listened to stories and drank beer and listened to stories and tried to leave but listened to more stories. Jesus there were so many stories. 

I love that my boyfriend will spend all afternoon drinking beers with a naked old man at my behest. What a guy.

As always I had to catch turtles while swimming. For an animal lover, I sure do harass turtles an awful lot. But I figure, all I do is take a photo and let them go, and for the many, many turtle rescues I perform, some of which are incredibly dangerous and foolish, I can annoy them for a couple of minutes. Above is a loggerhead musk turtle and below is a tiny yellow-bellied turtled hatchling (I think, but it could be a peninsular cooter).

After leaving this spring, we packed up our wonderful little oasis and headed home, having accomplished so much less and somehow so much more than anticipated.

They give us those nice bright colors
They give us the greens of summers

Makes you think all the world's a sunny day"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Holas Amigos

Contrary to popular belief, I am not dead, nor have I intended to take any kind of hiatus from blogging. Sometimes I feel like I'm overflowing with words, while other times I don't realize that a month has gone by since my last post until I sit down to write a new one. Part of that is of course due to always being busy, but part of that is also because I was gone all last week playing in Costa Rica! If you follow me on Instagram, you've already gotten a nice sneak peek into my adventures via cell phone photos, but if not, don't fret because I have plenty more to share here. When and if I can find the time to edit photos and write a post, we'll be set, but at the moment I haven't even unpacked yet, so let me begrudgingly get back into this horrible, awful, no-good routine we so euphemistically call "real life" and I'll get back to you soon. 

Now if only someone could just get me a damned green coconut...

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fat Penguins and Florida Mermaids

Back when I lived in Gunnison, a 19 degree day during the all-too-long and all-too-cold winter would be downright balmy. In fact, any temperature in the double digits was considered a positive. But when I spent 2 days in Chicago last week, the 19 degree weather cut right through my clothes and chilled me to the bone. Hell, I'll even go so far as to say 30 degrees in Florida is more painful than 19 degrees in Colorado, and it's funny how different temperatures can feel in different climates. But regardless of the location, I was reminded again last week that I'm definitely a Florida girl and I definitely don't miss cold weather. 

Sure, it's fun to cozy up in fuzzy mittens and scarves and play in snow and imbibe gallons of piping hot liquids, but maybe a of that is good enough for me. Six months? No thanks, been there done that. On the whole, winter weather just makes me feel uncomfortable and out of place, and waddling around like a fat penguin in 20 layers of clothing makes me feel incredibly claustrophobic (not to mention that you then have to take those 20 layers on and off numerous times a day and lug them around with you like a damn sherpa). I know winter is a dream for some people and summer is a burden, and I know from experience that I can tolerate months of bitter cold and blinding snow if I have to (and that I will even willingly go ice fishing in -34 degree weather at 9,400 feet elevation!)... 

 ...but I'll take paddleboarding in a bikini all day and swimming in springs in January over that any day.

I think Jordan may be inclined to agree.

 As much as I love winters in Florida, this winter in particular has been exceptionally warm. While paddleboarding the other weekend, I noticed so many blooming aquatic plants that aren't in season, like the above alligator lily (Hymenocallis palmeri) and cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). Even around town azaleas are blooming like crazy, months before they're supposed to. So while the weather feels nice, I do worry and wonder about the effect it's having.

In the moment, while I worry about the declining state of things I love so dearly, I do try to focus on the positive. 

 Even when the negative seems so palpable and ubiquitious. There are so many things I worry about so often, they sometimes feel as though they're surrounding me on all sides and swallowing up the positive. But I still try.

But on with the adventure, which I'll largely relay with photos because I can't seem to find the words to accurately describe how I feel at times doing some of the things I do. The ups and downs, the extreme elation and gratitude, and likewise the accompanying worry and solemnity that comes with an understanding of ephemerality. 

I will jump in here to explain this photo, but first I need to mention a fun aspect of paddleboarding Florida rivers: snagging your fin on one of the many submerged logs and thus catapulting yourself into the water unexpectedly. Jordan did this twice during the day and it was wonderful entertainment for me. She was a little chilly the second time after we had already been swimming for awhile and the sun was going down, which is when I snapped this gem. I felt bad laughing at her, but in typical Jordan fashion, she was laughing before even hitting the water. And that is one of the many reasons I love her.

Worries aside, it was a truly beautiful day and one that made me genuinely happy to be alive, and I think that's really all that needs to be said. Moments like these are too rare in the hustle and bustle of life, and should always be recognized for what they are and greeted with gratitude.

Now, if anyone's wondering why I was in Chicago of all earthly places for two days last week, it was to see Wait Wait.. Don't Tell Me live, which for those unacquainted (you should be ashamed) is a weekly news quiz on NPR that I absolutely adore. It's been on my bucket list to see it for ages now, but I never thought I'd actually go until Steven booked me a trip to do just that as my Christmas present this year. I thought just seeing it live would be so amazing, but when they called Carl Hiaasen to talk about the python hunts in Florida, I literally jumped out of my seat!

 What a dream! If you've never listened to this show (again, you should be ashamed), you can listen on NPR on Saturdays, stream it from their website, or download a podcast.
(Excuse the iPhone photos, they don't blow up too well.)

 All-in-all, my only interest in Chicago was to see Wait Wait. If I had any expectations of the city beforehand, it was that I'd despise it. I'm not a big city girl and I hate the wind, but I was honestly quite pleasantly surprised. Not anywhere I'd ever want to live, no sir, but much better than I ever expected.

 The only other thing I did in my very, very brief visit was go to the Field Museum of Natural History. Of course. Do you know me at all? It was a dream as well and I truly wish I had way more time to spend there. This is Sue, the largest and most intact T-Rex specimen anywhere, named after the woman who discovered her. It's mind-blowing just to stand in front of something like this and take in the reality of what it is.

 Oh so cold! It was a fun little 30 hour mini-vacation, but I do think this suits me better: