Friday, December 12, 2008

This Is The End My Friend

Well, it's about god damn time I put some closure on this blog. After a grueling finish to our road trip Angie and I arrived back in Maine late night on Thursday, November 13, 2008. I am currently collecting unemployment, living with my Mom, in Milo, Maine. I think that about sums up my life right now. The unanswered question is, "Did she slay any sasquatch?" This can be answered by the famous mountainier Lou Whitaker, "They don't exist." I was crushed by his answer to my inquiring question but I believe in Santa Claus so I guess I'll always look over my shoulder for the illusive Big Foot. My Adventure out West is finished but life is full of journeys. Blessed Be!!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Cow Shit Smells Sweeter in California

We have made it to Holbrook, Arizona. It smells nasty in this town. The strength of the smell is comparable to Westbrook with a different aroma like a musty wet rug which compliments my frozen dinner at the Motel 6 to perfection. I'm going to work backwards to catch up on our journey because honestly it is hard to remember where we woke up this morning. We visited the Grand Canyon today. It is so vast that it just doesn't look real. It's like god dropped a painted tapestry down from heaven just to put a smile on your face. However, it wasn't the vastness of the Grand Canyon was so impressive but the full blown snow storm we drove through as we left the park. We woke up this morning in Kingsman, Az, a favorite stop along the historic Route 66, after an extremely long day of driving yesterday. Yesterday was Saturday. We drove through the California Golden Valley, hundreds of miles of farms, windmills, orange orchards and happy cows. The sweet smell of cow manure filled the warm California air. We are convinced that cow shit smells sweeter in California because the cows are happier. They seemed to be full of energy playing games with each other like cow tipping is a game the cows actually play together. We woke up Saturday morning in San Francisco. We did the whole tourist thing at Fisherman's Wharf and ate some fine pasta in North Beach which is SF's littte Italy on Friday. We are now on a direct route back to Maine.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Rain or Shine

Let's Chant: Rain, Rain, Go Away, Come again, just go away. Angie and I have been driving in the rain for four days now. Out of Seattle, out of Washington, into Portland, down the Oregon Coast and into California. The dreary gray is so oppressive we are continuously singing to the sun gods to encourage Sunny California to live up to it's name. We have been attributing description words to the cities we have been visiting. Seattle wins the most conscientious award. These people actually stop for people in the cross walks and the pedestrians wait for the walk signal. They compost their coffee cups and have electric public transportation. Portland, Oregon wins the award for best vintage clothing. Even the men are all decked out in bell bottoms and swaggy jackets. Hawthorne Street is lined with fantastic free trade coffee shops, global gift stores and lots of second hand clothing shops. Although the backdrop of our trip is smeared in grey dullness and pelting rain, the Oregon coast does it's best not to be out done. The storm creates massive waves crashing against magnificent rock formations that jet out of the beach down the entire coast line. We stopped at the World Largest Sea Cave which was pretty spectacular. This cave is the home to the Steller Sea Lions. There weren't any sea lions in the caves today but we did see two groups playing in the surf just along the rocks outside the cave. Tonight we crashed in Santa Rosa, CA. We went to the Russian River Brewery on Fourth Street for wine and pizza. Fantabulous!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Night of the Living Dead

Angie and I have made it safely to the West Coast. We are up early this morning due to the time zone change and day light savings time. So I'm taking advantage by catching up on our Halloween adventrue. Friday night we arrived in Salem, MA dressed as punk rock vampires. Well, Allie and I were vampires and Angie was our victim. Check out the vampire bite on Angie's back. Nasty!!

It was a mass of controlled frenzy to the tune of 100,000 zombies. We couldn't get into any bar so we walked to my favorite haunted liquor store, The Bunghole. We had to wait in line outside for twenty minutes just to buy a bottle of champange. To escape the madness we wandered out to one of the oldest and creepiest cemetery's in Salem. Also, a favorite haunt of mine. There the mushroom magic peak'd. We howled at the moon and hissed at ghosts while smokin' cloves and drink'n champange out of the bag. True to the old world. Eventually, we motivated to go dance with the mob but to our outrage and disbelief the whole city was shut down by a police parade wearing full riot gear; helmets, shields, batons, atv's, dogs marching through the center of town square demanding that everyone leave. THIS WAS AT 11:30!! It was full of intimidation and threat. It was so surreal given our state of mind. The crazy thing is that by midnight 90% of the mob cleared out leaving an erie feeling of loss like in the Shining where there is a 1920's ballroom full of dancing ghosts and only pale apparitions were wandering the street. Due to the this mass exodus it took us 2hours to get a cab and we didn't get home until 3am. It was a crazy night indeed. Saturday night we toned down the madness down and just slit our throats for

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dark Side of the Moon

The fight between summer and winter begins.

Me on Eagle's peak with Mount Adams far in the background.

On Sunday, listening to Pink Floyd's album "Dark Side of the Moon" playing as my theme music, I hiked up Eagle's Peak one final time. The first time I tried to climb to the top of Eagle's Peak there was so much snow I only made it half way. The second time I peaked the mountain but couldn't see three feet in front of my face. Third times a charm. It was a beautiful autumn day, cool and pleasant. Rainier was in all her glory on the west side with Paradise nestled into her valley and Mount Adams and St. Helen's bordered to the south. The sun was shining in the east and a waning, half Blood Moon hung low dimly in the southwest. I sunned myself like a lazy marmot on the rocks gathering the mid-afternoon heat. I will definately miss the beauty, the moments alone with the mountain. My spirit has gathered strength here but I am anxious to go home and hang with my homies!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Circle of Life

I plan to use this post for my own catharsis so if you don't wanna hear me bitch feel free to move on. This week has been a whirlwind of change as the mountain closes down. Winter is making major threats of breaking autumn's spirit. I have woken up to a dusting of snow cover for the past five days. It is not the snow or the thought of winter that is breaking my spirit. Actually the snow is beautiful and the mountain looks like it put on a new dress for her Snow King. And I am using this time to acclimate to the cold weather since I am heading back to Maine for the winter. My beef is with my employer who is a god damn inconsiderate, inefficient corporate blockhead. I hate inefficency!! I have had to move twice in the last three days b/c the ass doesn't know what it's head it doing. And, where do I end up. Right back where I started-in the same apartment, room and bed. To refresh your memory see post in May entitled, "Home Sweet Home" or home of the moldy strawberries. Tell me that life isn't a circle. I, of course, begged not to be put back into this situation but of course "there are no other place to put (me)". And, don't get me started on the food situation during the past week, let alone this whole summer. I can not wait to get home to cook healthy, non-fried, meals that include vegetables. Here french fries are considered a vegetable and served at every meal including breakfast. This week my work project has been opening the gift shop for the new visitor center. I will proudly say that I personally put 3/4 of the gift shop together. My boss, of the week, is a paranoid, ADHD, backstabbing hag who doesn't have a funny bone in her body completed one display to my seven in two days because she can't complete a thought without stopping to gab with whoever is handy. Not that I'm bitter about it. As I come full circle a quote from Alice in Wonderland is deemed appropriate: Alice says, "It was much pleasanter at home, when one wasn't always growing larger and smaller, and being ordered about by mice and rabbits." The official countdown has begun. My last day of work here is in 14 days.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Global Mala

Thursday I brought Zara and Christine to the Puyallup Fair. Supposedly it's like the 3rd largest fair in the nation but it was just like every country fair I've ever been to so I'm not sure I believe the hype. I had to bully the girls into going on the roller coaster. Not surprisingly we waited 45 minutes in line for a ride that lasted 45 seconds. Luckily my orange straw cowboy hat did not fly off my head as we barreled down the loop-de-loops. After all the fried dough and mongolian stir fry I'm not sure it was the best idea but we endured. On Saturday, I participated in Global Mala, an international yoga event in support of international peace day. We performed 108 sun salutations (basically 108 upward facing and downward facing dogs) in an hour. Our small yoga class of 10 individuals, in Ashford, Wa, nestled at the bottom of Mt. Rainier, connected with the collective conscious for world peace. I like feeling that with simple movement and meditation I made a small difference toward changing the negative thought processes that are destroying our existence (even if it means I ripped my hamstrings to shreds, it's a small price to pay for world peace). The event appropriately aligned with the fall equinox. Happy Moban! It's Harvest time. Let us reap the rewards of our efforts this year!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Picture Update

See the twins in the background?

Thieving Munks!!

Happy B-day to Me!!

Paradise on my B-day

Comet Falls- 10 mile hike to Longmire

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sunset at Sunrise

(pic from by Kevin Ebi)
Why is it that when you see the most spectacular sunset of your life you don't have a camera? I'm convinced that there is a cosmic rule that in order to see wonderous sights you must forget your camera at home. Last week I saw a bear about 20 yards away from me when I was hiking from Longmire to Paradise. Did I have a camera? Of course not. Because that's the rule. So, I am borrowing the above pic so you can see a glimmer of the inspiring sunset I saw.
The sunset I saw was even better than the picture. There where no clouds and so much more purple. It was fantastic. I shared this wonderful sight with Bogdon, a Romanian, I met at 6 o'clock that morning, who of course forgot his camera as well. We headed to Sunrise on the east side of the mountain, early last Monday morning, to help close the gift shop for the season. After work we hiked 4 miles to sit atop a ridge just below Mt. Rainier. So picture a 14,000 foot snow covered mountain (there's a lot more snow on the mtn on the east side at Sunrise) just to the left of the picture and to the right a wide lush valley, with the Cascade Mountains a silouette beyond the valley. The bright, perfect half moon pinned up behind us. We agreed that even from opposites sides of the world it was the most beautiful, natural sight either of us had ever seen. Believe it or not, it gets better. Just minutes after a skitish, little field mouse reveals itself from under a rock next to our feet, a preditor bird begins to circle above our heads then disappears. Moments later, the bird returns with it's mate and we realize they are OWLS!! We must have been sitting in a favorite and prosperous hunting spot. They continued to circle above our heads waiting for us to leave so they could engage in their idea of fine dining. That poor mouse was probably digested before we hiked to the bottom of the ridge. Of course, this beautiful experience had it's downfall. We had to hike the 4 miles back to Sunrise in the blackness of night. Everytime the flashlight caught a shadow I jumped thinking it was a bear. Bogdon didn't help matter because we started talking about how Dracula was from Romania and I was convienced that he was going to turn into a werewolf even though it was only a half moon. Then I was really hoping he would turn into anything carnivous when the bear attacked. Actually, I was laughing so hard at the idea of this slight youth turning into a bat or wolf that we were back at Sunrise safe and sound before I knew it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Party like it's 1999

Yeman, Vicky and Steph

Me and Zara-I'm going to adopt Zara to get her to stay in the country.

Steph and Me- If I were a lesbian I would run off to California and marry her!

Steph getting a tip from John. Rich looks like he's enjoying the show.

The Longmire Gang singing karaoke

The Highlander is the local watering hole here in Ashford. This weekend I made my first appearance, but not last, at this typical redneck bar. It was a bon voyage party for Yeman, a hottie turk, who buses tables at Longmire and is leaving to go back to Turkey on Friday. Stephanie and I fell on our asses because we were laughing so hard at a couple of our co-worker singing karaoke. We all had a blast singing karaoke and groping each other in a drunken stupor. We closed the bar down and I got home at 3am. I haven't had so much fun in months as the pics will confirm. Of course, prior to the party I hiked six miles up to Paradise so my legs were like butter, add a couple glasses of wine and dancing was like that jello commercial. Wiggle wabble.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mom and Me At Sunrise

Lupine Meadows at Sunrise

Mom and Me at Mount St. Helens

Valley Below Mount Saint Helens

Snow Lake at Mt. Rainier

I Blew My Top at Mount St. Helens

Mom and I went up to Sunrise last Wednesday. Sunrise is on the east side of the park and sits at 6400 feet. It is a 2 hour drive from Longmire. It was a sweltering hot day. We hiked up to Frozen Lake which was a mild 3 mile round trip hike. We saw a five point buck standing in the lupine meadows with the mountain in the background. It was a national geographic moment that was completely missed by my camera. On Thursday, we drove 3 hours to Mount St. Helens. It was devastatingly beautiful. The valley is a wide barren river of ash surrounded by slopes of fallen trees and new families of evergreens. The blue lupine were the first flower to regenerate the area after the explosion and dot the landscape. Our living planet reminds us that life can change abruptly but time slowly creates new hope. Saturday, we visited the Grove of the Patriarch, the site of my previous encounter with the Frog Prince, and then hiked to Snow Lake, a 2 1/2 mile hike to a beautiful glacier fed lake. It was another oppressively hot day that made us melt and ultimately ended with Longmire's infamous blackberry cobbler topped with vanilla ice cream.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Trans Canada

Mama Grillo flew into Seattle late, very late, Tuesday night. We made a mad dash for the Canadian border on Wednesday to go visit Matt and Christine. It was a relatively easy 7 1/2 hour drive to Vernon, British Columbia especially with the new toy Mom brought, the TomTom. Vernon is located in the Okangogan Valley which is now refered to as the Canadian Riveria. It was a blistering 95 degrees which I guess is how it always is with almost no rain fall. I was so excited to go swimming which has been a much missed summer activity. There are several large lakes with lots of motor boats zooming around in the Valley. The lakes are nestled into dry, yellow-brown hillsides dotted with modular homes hanging on for dear life. We had a wonderful time hanging out with them and will miss them as they are heading to Japan at the end of the month. Our trip back over the USA border was uneventful. Thank God! b/c I forgot I had my bow and arrow in the back window of my car under a blanket! Of course, I had my excuse ready if they found them and inquired why I had my bow and arrows. I AM THE Sasquatch Hunter!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Lakes Trail Hike Pics

Reflection Lake

Tina's first tumble in the snow

Warrior Snow Bunnies

Evil Dive Bombing Gray Jay

Tina looking down at Louise Lake from
Faraway Rock

Warrior Snow Bunnies

So today I inducted two new recruits into my hiking adventures. Zara and Tina are from Taiwan and work with me at Longmire. Today was their first hiking experience ever. We hiked the Lakes Trail to Reflection Lake around to Faraway Rock, over the river and through the woods, back to Paradise, for a good 5 mile hike. That totals me up to 75 miles of hiking so far this summer. I dubbed the girls the Taiwanese Warrior Snow Bunnies. We did battle with 5 ariel soldier Gray Jays who were dive bombing us to get our pb&j sandwiches. They would slam on the brakes mid flight, wings extended out, about six inches from my face, twisting their feathered bodies back to the pine tree where we were sitting, only to have their wing man perform the same maneuver. I encouraged Tina and Zara to take my hiking poles and swing them wildly at the birds to ward of the attacks. The girls took on this task with vigor. Actually, Tina came within inches of knocking one right out of the sky. We finally had to retreat from the relentless attacks. Our journey continued through what I like to refer to as the Desert of Snow. We marched over a blanket of snow for a good two miles, losing the trail, finding the trail, losing the trail. Tina fell about a dozen times and we had a good laugh each time. I stopped to make a snow angel. Just to remind you it is July 31.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Road to Paradise isn't always a Road

"The Road to Paradise isn't always a Road" is printed on the back of one of the T-shirts I sell at the gift shop. Saturday afternoon, after a long day of catering to the tourists, I opted for the road less traveled and hiked my way home from Longmire to Paradise. It is a lazy 6 mile hike UP the infamous Wonderland trail with a gain of 2,800 feet. The last 1/2 mile was steep and through snow. Aaahhh snow, it seems I will be enjoying a 12 month run of snow this year. However, the flowers are in bloom along the roadside and throughout patches of green that are starting to finally appear in the Paradise meadows. Last Wednesday I went to Seattle for a break from the monotony of the mountain with my roommate Christine. We meandered through Pike's Place Market buying fresh Spicy Thai Linguine, pesto bagels and drinking Seattle's java. We camped out that night at a cute, little state park called Dash Point on the Puget Sound about 20 miles south of Seattle. Another satisfying week!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Camp Muir Hike Pics

Camp Muir 2.7 Mile

My chipmunk friend at Pebble Creek

Overnight sleep structure at Camp Muir

Mt. St. Helen's in far background from Camp Muir.

Cougar Rock Cammpground Pics

Infamous Girl Scout Banana Boat-Roast Banana, Chocolate and Marshmellow
in a campfire and Enjoy!

Is it me or is Tina's butt the focus of this pic?

Relax'n after my hike to Muir


I AM A ROCK STAR!!! On Wednesday, July 10, 2008, I made my solo hike to Camp Muir at about 10,000 feet. It took about 5 1/2 hours to ascend 4600 feet starting from Paradise. I hiked 2.3 miles to Pebble Creek where I met a nice little chipmunk who was looking for a handout. The last 2.2 miles is a strenuous climb up the Muir snowfield for a 2800 elevation gain. I was very consciously putting one foot in front of the other, toe to heal, practicing the rest step for 3 hours. At about 8600 feet my body just wanted to quit moving but was motivated by a guardian angel and lone hiker, who pointed to a point just beyond and above Anvil Rock (9000 ft). "Camp Muir is just 750 feet over that lip." "Really?" I reply regaining my hope that I may make it after all. Then he qualifies the distance, "750 vertical feet." "Oh, ah damn, I want the bragging rights." My guardian angel promised to keep prodding me along and I left him behind to rest while I, rejuvenated with the promise of an end, continued the steady climb up. The last 750 feet were torturous as Camp Muir came into view. You want to just run to it but you have to continue the slow climb. You look at your feet moving one foot in front of the other to take your mind off how close yet how far away the oasis of Muir is, then you look up hoping that it's closer but when you see the camp, it just looms far away and you are convinced you haven't made any progress at all. Step, rest, step, rest, step, breathe. Don't forget to breathe. Oh my god, I can't breathe. I'm suffocating from the lack of oxygen. My breath is not entering my lungs when I inhale. There is a pain in the center of my chest. I'm going to have a heart attack. Calm down. Breathe, slow inhale, breathe, step, rest, step, rest, step, rest. It was a crazy journey of woman verses the elements and her own sanity. There were moments that I had conscious 3 person internal conversations with Me, Myself and I that struggled between propelling me forward, telling myself to turn around and singing "Follow the Yellowbrick Road" to trick my other two selves into keeping one foot in front of the other. The great thing is that I do get bragging rights because I kicked the mountain's ass. Actually, it was a mutual ass kicking. I am still waiting for my certificate of completion which I guess I don't really get but feel that I should. Of course, I really need to add another 4,410 feet before I can officially claim to conquer the mountain. But, I still deserve props for getting up to 10,000 feet. I ROCK! Definitely the hardest hike I have ever completed! It was another 2 1/2 hours decent. I looked like a drunk, flailing monkey coming down the mountain, slipping and sliding on the snow. I really just wanted to throw myself down onto the snow and roll the whole way down the mountain. That night all my friends and I camped out at Cougar Rock, teaching the girls from Taiwan how to make smore's, singing campfire songs and drinking a well deserved bottle of wine.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Is it your Half Birthday?

I learned about a new holiday when looking for a reason to party. When is your half birthday? Yesterday was my roommate Christine's 22nd birthday. We celebrated with blackberry cobbler and Mt. Rainier Chardonnay. On the left in front is our next door neighbor, Andy. On the left center is Christine, birthday girl. On the left in the back is Jenny, my second roommate. On the right in front is Evan, my co-conspiritor at the gift shop. Chris, Evan's roommate, is in the middle on the right and then me. My third roommate just arrived 20 minutes before our festive party. Her name is Treya. She is from Taiwan.

The Grove of the Patriarch

Ohanapacosh River

Avalanch Lilies

Official Tree Hugger

The Frog Prince

Wednesday's hike is brought to you by 1000 year old, 200 foot tall redwood cedars and Douglas firs. They stand tall saluting the sky like soldiers of time. The Ohanapacosh River charges beside them in a spectrum of sea glass green and cold glacier blue. There is an ancient energy in this forest that pulsates. There is magic here. I will tell you the story of the Frog Prince to prove it. I sat beneath a trio of mammoth cedars for a long while pondering the wonderment of endless time and the geological history that these trees have survived; mudslides, floods, fires. Scarred by natural disasters but still clinging to life reaching for the sky. It's pretty amazing. Anyway, I got tired of watching tourist after tourist take 30 seconds to snap a picture before moving on to the next tourist destination so I headed off the beaten trail to a more remote area of the Grove. I diverted up the Eastside trail about a 1/2 mile, with my Canon powershot in one pocket and a mini bottle of Bella Sera Pinot Grigio in the other pocket, and was delightfully surprised when a big green frog jumped across the trail towards a babbling creek that flooded across the trail. As if invited I sat beside the creek, telling the frog it was a wonderful surprise see him in the forest today. No joke, the frog turned his bulging eyes toward me and hopped a little closer as if in greeting. I settled in, laying down between the brook and the trail, propped my head on my backpack and we proceeded to lay in quiet companionship as I wondered about the frog's philosophy of life. I watched the puffy white clouds roll by the crisp blue sky through the thick canopy. We continued like this, my human need to hear myself talk and his silent contemplation, for at least 40 minutes. Pine needles fell around me like fairy dust and I must have dozed off for a few moments. Upon opening my eyes, I was startled to see the frog literally right under my nose. He was totally still except for the expansion and contraction of his little throat. Could he be a true frog prince trying to sneak a kiss from a sleeping beauty? Human curiosity, innate and uncontrollable, had me reaching out to touch his green leather skin. It was dry and startled him into three giant leaps landing him six feet away. He blended into the moss covered rocks just beside the cascading water so I could hardly see him. I had obviously hurt his feelings and lost his trust. I cursed my stupid humanness for interrupting nature at it's most fascinating moment. It was time for me to go. I had overstayed my welcome. But as I crossed over the brook I just couldn't leave. Pulled back by an unknown power I turned around to look for the frog one last time but he had disappeared. It dawned on me that I was in an enchanted forest where the faeries live. I am convinced the frog must be an elite member of the sentry guarding this part of the ancient forest. I had been granted passage into this magical part of the forest in respect for our quiet revere. It was a most magical experience that might have been wine induced.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Home at Paradise/ Work at Longmire Pictures

View from my bedroom window-Awesome!

Guide House-Girls Dormitory at Paradise

General Store where I work

Turn Around-This is the view from my job!

Hike to Pebble Creek Pictures

Above the Clouds at 6000 feet

One of the rocks is a marmot, see him?

Paradise to Longmire Hike Pictures

Deer Crossing the Nisqually River

Narada Falls

Mad Cap Falls

Carter Falls

Can you see the snake?