Georgia On My Mind

I've been traveling a lot lately. Just after Christmas, I went "home" for the first time in thee years to visit with family and friends in Georgia, where I grew up. Like the majority of holiday/family vacations, this one consisted mostly of toddler/food/family/visiting craziness.

Toddler. Sand. Nuff said.

Cuteness alert

In the midst of all of it, I managed to carve a few hours out for some solitude, taking half a day for myself to revisit old haunts on Kennesaw Mountain.

At 1,808 feet in elevation, the boulder-strewn, woodsy slopes of Kennesaw Mountain are in my childhood backyard. I wasn't much of a hiker growing up (really at all, if I'm being completely honest), and I fondly remember the trails of Kennesaw being tortuously steep as a fifth grade kid forced to climb them on various Girl Scout outings.

Weird to think that the area, newly surrounded by half-million dollar homes with backyards directly adjacent to many trails, is now a national park.

Starting at the visitor center, I carved out a roughly ten mile jaunt down to Cheatham Hill, finishing the hike with a climb up Pigeon Hill, Little Kennesaw, and finally the summit itself before completing the loop. Surrounded by red Georgia clay and barren woods, I felt like I was in Walking Dead territory most of the day.

the final leg of my day, up Pigeon Hill to the summit

I took away an appreciation for the area I didn't have before...the history of the Civil War battles, complete with preserved earthworks and cannons still evident on the hillsides. The park itself also affords wonderful trail-running and hiking opportunities in an area otherwise horribly overrun by suburban sprawl. It was a nice change of pace and a new outlook on the area I grew up in.

deep woods, deep trail past Burnt Hickory. Walking Dead territory.

Pigeon Hill. This place holds both fond & torturous memories for me

winter woods, nearing the summit of Kennesaw

Completely different from my somewhat-solitary-day-in-the-woods, Mom and I took an afternoon to visit the massive Georgia Aquarium before I returned to Portland. Between elbowing the crowds, watching a dolphin show and oggling exhibits, it took us about five hours to walk through the place.

It was like a Hollywood viewing of Finding Nemo. Plus whale sharks.

school o' fish

I speak whale

swimmin' with the jellies


Year in Review

2013: the year of getting back out there. My circadian rhythm going-to-hell-in-a-hand basket. Still short on miles but long on life changes. Trail friends, old and new. A glorious fall, my favorite time of the year. Welcoming home new pups. Loving life.

Passing my RN board examinations. Snowshoeing. Getting-back-out-there.

bluebird doesn't get much better than this 

An incredible ski-vacation with dear friends. Losing one of my best trail friends.

Rocky, sun-snoozing on the trail

Few trail miles. Busy with work. It's still winter, hunting leprechauns in the Gorge.

I <3 the Gorge when it looks like this

(I may have been a little grumpy these trail time...a new job, transition, and night shift begins....)

Coastal adventures. My circadian rhythm is sooooo screwed...

Netarts Bay, one of my favorite places on the Oregon Coast

A wonderful visit from family. My circadian rhythm HATES me. Kayaking and overall being grumpy- discovering I am NOT a night person.

a family member's dream to pinch Goonies Rock

Coming to peace with the fact that night shift means you will never-feel-normal. "Discovering" jump shots. My only two backpacking trips of the year, both hilarious, both with good friends.

Yahooo! on McNeil Point

Checking Hurricane Ridge off the bucket list...sixteen years with my best friend and soulmate. <3 <3 <3

the clouds played for us on our anniversary (ONP, Washington)

Playing in the Mount Margaret backcountry. No goats, no elk. Stalking larch trees. One of the most glorious falls I can remember. Getting dayshift. SCORE.

me, loving the Mount Margaret backcountry, serenaded by Hood & Helens

Returning to the Gorge, my winter playground. Welcoming a new, flat-faced addition to the house.

new snuggle-pug

Going east to escape the rains. No snow. Georgia on my mind. Big fish.

Eastside. No rain. Mount Hood from Hood River Mountain.

Look What The Pug Factory Turned Out

So that major case of dog envy sorta snowballed.

Andy and I lost both of our dogs this last year within nine months of each other; to say the experience sucked is an understatement. Rocky was so ill for the last months of his life though that we needed time to take a break, to grieve and to not have any responsibilities for a while. Combine the reprieve with adjusting (or not adjusting to) night shift, and a new dog just wasn't on the radar.

Well, with a permanent dayshift position and feeling human and being back out on the trails, I found myself really missing our dogs. I love hiking alone, but something about being out on the trail, just exploring the woods in the company of four footed friends is a pleasure. J.B.'s little Shenzi sort of kicked the dog envy into overdrive.

Meet Pepper (previously Maisey), a wee, but extremely feisty, pug rescue from Second Chance Salem. When I first saw her on Petfinder, I was drawn to her because her expression reminded me so much of our Yobo.

first hike: Pioneer Bridle Trail on Hood

She's been with us for a little over two weeks, comical, loving and my permanent stuck-to-leg shadow.


major love

first animal I've had to seatbelt to the car, lol