The Backroads

We decide to load up our mountain bikes Saturday afternoon and explore a gravel road that David found near Lake Wedington, a lake just twenty minutes from our house. The lake and the recreational area surrounding it has been around since at least the time that my parents went to school here, my dad taking my mom on a picnic back when they were dating, my mom telling me just a few months ago that he only brought bread and cheese, thinking that would be enough for the both of them. Lake Wedington was host to many an outing when I was in school here as well, both my dormitory and David’s holding games and cookouts together, all of us gathered along the lake shore. Today, it’s still a popular place for hikers, fishermen and families to explore and play, with the added feature of mountain bike trails.

But I’m actually not a big fan . . . yet . . . of mountain biking. Those narrow little dirt trails that wind around bluffs with steep drop offs right next to them make me a little nervous. Add in the speed you can pick up going downhill and it can be little hair raising.

Thus the safe, wide gravel road that David picked out for us to ride along.

To use a Joe Quote from when he was learning to talk: “That’s much more better.”

We splashed through streams and climbed long stretches of road. We came to forks in the road, each of taking turns determining which way to go. We had to stop a couple times to climb over huge fallen trees, lifting our bikes up and over. The wild plum trees scented our way, their fragrance our reward for the pedaling we were doing. I had to stop a few times (well, more than a few) to walk my bike up hill, my runner legs not used to biking. I spotted violets, bluets and Johnny-Jump-Ups growing next to the abandoned dirt road we were traveling. Looking out across the little valleys, the taller trees sported the finest of green lace along their branches.

We talked along the way, discussing various podcasts, fitness, the difference between single track and double track trails, our trip to Wisconsin and the beautiful trails that we used. We talked about the upcoming storms that we were expecting overnight. We rode in silence, too, each of us lost in our own thoughts.

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Maybe David will make a true mountain biker out of me yet, but as long as there is good wide dirt to ride on and a creek to splash through, I’ll ride my little red bike with him anywhere he goes.

Makes Me Happy

Thinking back to our Utah adventure in 2016 and yearning to return.

Last night, Dave and I finished watching a two-part series on grizzly bears in Alaska, in particular a young mother and her cub, Pushki. One scene showed Parsnip, the momma bear, stop at the water’s edge, plop down in the sand and stare at the sun, slowly rising over the water. Pushki plopped down beside her and did the same thing. The sunrise was, indeed, glorious to behold, but what made me happy, and still makes me happy today, was what the commentator said. He said that bears are mesmerized by sunrises and sunsets, that they stop whatever it is that they’re doing and will watch as the sun greets the day or bids it farewell.

I can’t find any scientific study to back this up, and maybe the commentator was just projecting his wishful thinking onto the television audience, but what if it were true? And not just about grizzly bears? Langley has been grunting a lot lately, and I thought maybe her arthritis has been getting worse. I Googled why dogs grunt, and much to my happiness, it’s quite the opposite, that dogs grunt and groan to show contentment and that they’re relaxed and happy. Langley has been telling us the best way she knows how that she’s very happy. It’s just that we misinterpreted her words.

What if animals truly appreciated beauty the way humans do and understood the world better than we thought? What a marvelous idea that would be!

On Life, Podcasts and List Making

I’ve recently taken up listening to podcasts as I run and while driving around town doing errands. I’ve never been one to enjoy listening to others talk, preferring music to listen to as I pound the pavement in the mornings, but these last few months, I’ve found that podcast help take my mind off the task I’m doing at the moment, whether that be running seven miles or running to the cleaners.

I’ve got about eight podcasts in my music library, but the three that I listen to the most are The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show, The Make Light Show by Karen Walrond, and The Candid Frame by Ibarionex Perello. They’re all full of creativity, uplifting your life and photography. Jarvis and Perello regularly have various creatives and photographers on their shows talking about how they got their start in their own personal field and/or personal projects. It’s fascinating to hear other artists talk about what brings them joy and satisfaction.

Walrond often has shorter shows, but she has interviewed other artists and entrepreneurs, too. It was during one of her podcasts that I was listening to on my way to the dentist Tuesday morning that really got me thinking. She was talking about following your curiosity and about list making, something that I spend far too much of my time doing. The first list she talked about was called a “Love List”. A Love List is a list where you write down every single thing you love:

if you love to plant flowers, write that down

if you love to paint, write that down

if you love texting, write that down

if you love eating, singing in the shower or watching Netflix, all those get written down.

The Love List should consist of everything you love, be it silly or serious. Some of the things on my Love List include daydreaming, baking, bumblebees, running, horse racing, coffee houses, making a mess, naps, paddle boarding, Civil War battlefields, traveling, a tidy house, throwing rocks in the water, laughing, cooking shows, exploring, hiking, list making, kayaking, thrifting, the Flint Hills of Kansas, being curious, new notebooks and campfires. I’ve got tons more, but those are just a few of the things I absolutely love right now. I know I’ll add more, but this is a start.

The other list Walrond discussed is something called a Life List, somewhat of a Bucket List, and I’ve been going to town on this one and having a ball. On your Life List, write down things you hope to do during your life. She suggested to dream big, but also to dream small to keep you from feeling overwhelmed by your Big Dreams. These are meant to be fun activities to do during your life time, and it’s okay to go overboard in your dreaming . . . that’s why you have smaller, achievable dreams coinciding alongside the larger ones.

I sat down Friday afternoon with a notebook and a pen and began dreaming. Some of the things on my Life List are:

  1. learn how to tap dance

  2. run the Pikes Peak Half Marathon in 2020

  3. master making a home made pie crust

  4. travel to Mongolia

  5. take a cake decorating class

  6. ride an elephant

  7. visit Legoland in Denmark

  8. take a hot air balloon ride

  9. meet Donna Hopkins & Cathy Sly in person

  10. photograph ballet dancers

I’ve added the “complete” list (because I know I’ll be adding more items in the coming days) to my “About” page if you want to see everything else I hope to do.

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The point of both these lists is one, find out what it is that makes you curious (the Love List) and two, what is it that inspires your curiosity (the Life List) and then . . . just begin.

* * * I’ve since created a tab under the “about” button in the navigation bar that has my on-going Life List if you’d like to keep up. * * *