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lisa & the kitties

VOBS Dog Sledding Series: Thursday, 3/19/15, Day 6

This morning was probably the coldest I’ve been.  It was so hard to get outta the sleeping bag.  Like usual we got up, packed up our sleeping bags, tore down the sleeping area, and headed into the wall tent for breakfast.  Once again we had some amazing food!  Dre made us breakfast so we had a frittata with spinach and hashbrowns.  Yummy.  After breakfast we tore down the wall tent and cleaned up the camp site.  I scooped dog poop for the first time this trip.  It was nice because it was frozen from the night before.

We packed up the sleds and Adam, Dre, and I were the only people who were not traveling by sled.  This time the sleds took 3 people.  I didn’t wear skis this time which was also nice.  Dre skied so I was able to wear her microspikes and then we hit the lake.  The spikes were great!   There wasn’t really any snow on the trail, mainly ice, so the spikes worked perfectly.  It was like regular walking.  Dre skied and Adam wore snow shoes.  Both of them had a pulk behind them.  Another bonus was we didn’t have to help the sleds through the portages since they had 3 people.  A little after the first portage we had to take Polaris because she started fighting with the other dogs while they were traveling.  Adam tied her around his waist and I ended up taking the pulk.  That was my first time pulling the pulk.  We got to a pretty crazy portage where the sleds needed to descend down a steep rock shelf so I took Polaris and volunteered to take photos while Adam and Dre helped.

After the sleds were down Adam took the pulk and I walked with Polaris.  She was pulling me the whole time which made me work a little harder.  Luckily I had those spikes on!  After roughly 5 miles of travel we made it to the final site.  This wasn’t like the places we stayed at before.  There were no actual campsites so we picked a flat spot on the lake/snow that was sheltered from the wind and set up camp.  I was part of the shelter crew so me and a few of the other guys set up the tarps.  Adam taught me how to make a clove hitch so we could use the ski poles to stand up the tarp.  We had ice screws to anchor the tarps down to but in the back area the snow was too deep so Adam taught us how to make a deadman anchor.  We dug a hole in the snow and wrapped the cord around  a piece of wood and then covered it back up.  The snow on the wood served as the anchor and then we were able to use our trucker’s hitches to secure the tarps.  Pretty cool stuff!  I did end up using the ice screws for the front of the tarps and they were pretty amazing also!  So many fun things.

 

VOBS Dog Sledding Series: Wednesday, 3/18/15, Day 5

We are over half way done!  I’m excited about taking a shower and using a real bathroom.  This morning my body odor reminded me of Jackie Morgan’s house.  I woke up feeling really swollen.  My eyes and my lips were puffy and it took me a while to focus.  I got up and took real good care of myself today.  I found a small stick to clean out under my fingernails and I put some deodorant on.  I flossed my teeth, ate some squirrel bag food, and took an Ibuprofen and Acyclovir.  Afterwards I brushed my teeth and I’m just going to hang out until they come get us.

I saw a squirrel on the tree this morning, first non-dog animal I’ve seen since we’ve been out here.

I was wondering what the rest of my world was doing on this Wednesday.  Did anyone miss me?  Did anyone try to get a hold of me?  Was anyone thinking about me?  Life is a crazy game, isn’t it?

I’m kind of chilly and a fire would be nice this morning but I burned all of my wood yesterday and I really don’t feel like gathering and processing more.  It’s a lot of work to make and sustain a fire.

Dre came by with squirrel bag refills (yay pepper jack cheese!) and some micro spikes.  They’d be nice to wear.  She said we might snowshoe tomorrow so I’m looking forward to that.  She did say that the sounds I heard last night were the sounds of ice forming.  Pretty cool!

Maybe I will make a small fire.  Some hot drink would be really nice right now.  Dre said they’ll come get us today around 3 or 4PM and we’ll head back to camp.  I’m excited about it because I know I’ll get a really good meal in!  I wonder what they have planned.  Tomorrow night will be our last night out too so that’ll be nice.  Friday we head back to homeplace so someone will pick us up and then we’ll clean all of our gear, take a hot shower, wear normal clothes, and sleep inside in the warmth.  I can’t wait to sleep on a somewhat real bed too!

10:30AM ish:  You know what would be great right now?  A book!  I guess now would be a great time to write my own.  THINKING!  I’m kind of working on a poop too…

1:40PM ish:  I enhanced my lounge rock with my sleeping pads and it’s really comfy.  I’ve been sitting here all morning.  I even fell asleep at one point.  It’s nice and relaxing in the sun.  Still a few more hours until they come and get us.  I was thinking about Eric and I still can’t believe all of the lies he told.  How he kept it all a secret.  I don’t know how he feels or whether he is thinking of me but as of right now I never want to speak with him or see him again.  So many lies.  He talked about Gone Girl and how sneaky Nick was having an affair.  He did the same thing shortly after.  Tsk tsk.  When I told him about a friend’s husband asking her for a blow job meanwhile he was speaking to a divorce attorney.  Tsk tsk.  Such a deceitful being.  Such  a liar.  I wonder what it feels like.  Being the person you despised the most.  I hope it feels good…

THINKING.

The sun is so warm and feels so good.  I think I need to poop again too but I don’t have any toilet paper left.  When we get back to camp I will keep using my secret bathroom.  I like it here.

It’s funny.  I didn’t know every detail of my life before but there was this false sense of direction. I knew I was going to be in a relationship and I knew I’d figure the rest out wherever we went.  Boy was that wrong.  Here I am and the only thing I know is that I don’t know.  I can see out 179 days.  That’s how far out my life is planned.  I know I’ll be working for the guard and living in that apartment for the next 6 months.  I know I’ll be going to Disney with Mark and Morocco in May.  I know I’ll go to Malta in July.  But that’s about it.  What happens past that is all a mystery to me.  Kind of crazy, especially since I’ve always been someone who wants or thought I needed control.

2:50PM :  Rescued at last!

It was nice to be back with everyone else.  When we got back to camp there were chores that needed to be done.  We needed to set up our sleeping area and feed the dogs.  I set my bed up under the trees where I did the other night.  Luckily there was already enough wood so we didn’t need to process anymore.  We hung out around the camp fire for a bit and had some hot drink.  Ed asked us to share information about ourselves and what we got from solo so I used that as an opportunity to share my story with everyone.  I told them I had found out that a little less than 4 weeks ago I walked in my home to find my husband of 10 years was having an affair.  I told them I was nervous about the trip, especially solo, since I didn’t know if I could be alone with my thoughts that long, but I was having an amazing time and learning to accept all of the changes in my life.  Additionally, we had to say 5 things about ourselves:  what are we good at, where are we headed, what do we hate, what are we committed to, and what’s something unique about us.  I shared that I was good at organizing things and details.  I wasn’t sure where I was headed and what I had recently learned was that I wasn’t going to make plans far out anymore.  I said I hated my husband and that I was committed to change.  The only constant in life is change.  Lastly I shared that I am a dual citizen and speak another language.  While we were on solo Dre and Ed set up the wall tent with the camp stove inside and when it got close to dinner time we all got inside.  It was pretty warm.  We had a pretty good meal too – complete with dessert!  Ed and Dre made us cinnamon rolls, chocolate cake with a cookie dough crust, and potato chowder.  Yum!

VOBS Dog Sledding Series: Tuesday, 3/17/15, Day 4

We got to sleep in again which was nice.  Like usual, we packed up our gear and sleeping areas and got ready for breakfast.  We had skillet fried English Muffins which were really good.  I skipped the granola this morning.  I also had a cup of hot chocolate.  So yummy.  While we were having breakfast Ed and Dre called back to homeplace.  Bimble Bear’s eye was looking funky yesterday and didn’t improve today so he was going to get picked up.  Instead of traveling like we originally planned, we started “solo.”  We cut down some downed trees and brought them back to camp for processing.  After that we learned how to build fire.  You start with a base layer of downed birch since the inside is waterlogged and hard to burn.  Birch bark is very flammable so you use that to start burning kindling and then you add some medium sticks.  After that gets going you can add the logs and cook and boil water.

We went back to camp to receive our individual supplies (tarp, matches, twine, pot, food, saw), and packed our bags and went to our individual sites.

When I got to my site I picked a spot that had good wood as well as a flat, clear place to sleep.  I gathered all of my wood and then separated it into piles.  After that I set up my tarp and sleeping bag.  Today was also the first day I pooped!  I found a hole next to a large rock and used that as a toilet.  I used birch bark to burn my toilet paper.

Tonight I had to make my own fire to cook my food and boil my water (snow).  I was a little disappointed since one of my pots fell over and I had to boil a whole new pot.  Oh well.  Keeping a fire going is pretty hard and I managed to burn all of my food in the foil pack.  It was still somewhat good despite all of the charred, crunchy pieces.

I used up all of my wood in order to cook my food and boil my water.  I did make myself a cup of hot chocolate which was really yummy.  That reminds me of “I Love You Man” and “Chocolat.”  LOL

My mind has wandered from time to time but I say “thinking” out loud and that usually brings me back.  :)  I don’t have a watch so the only way I can tell time is to take a photo and look at the time stamp LOL.  Once my fire burns out I’ll call it quits for the night.  I have no idea what I’m going to do tomorrow by myself.  I did take a walk around the island twice earlier to get some exercise in and to explore a little.  Killed some time too🙂

It’s so quiet…

It’s around 8:30PM and my fire is out so I’m going to get ready for bed.  There are weird bassy noises out here.  I never realized it before because we are always in a large group.  Maybe it’s the water under the ice?  That makes me feel better thinking that.  LOL  You don’t realize how scary it is out here until you’re all alone.

 

VOBS Dog Sledding Series: Monday, 3/16/15, Day 3

It was raining this morning so the instructors let us sleep in.  We got up and got the sleeping areas torn down and packed away.  I took an Ibuprofen and Acyclovir.  My body, mainly my lower body, was pretty sore.  For breakfast we had sausages and granola.  Not too bad.  Last night I had to pee so it was my first bathroom experience outside on this trip.

We packed up the sleds and this trip Dre and Juan (who was vomiting) were on Sled 1 and Adam and I were on Sled 2.  We headed out around 11AM and had a blast!  We went through 3 portages and they were challenging yet so much fun.  Dog sledding is better than skiing hands down!!!  We only traveled about 4 miles today but it was all great!  At camp we set up, processed wood (sawed and chopped) and I helped feed the dogs,  Each dog got a pan with warm water and then dog food (dry) in it.

Dinner was super good!  We had ground beef, onions, rice, and beans.  Added some salsa.  Yum!!!  I also tried some of Dre’s chai mix for my hot drink.  So good.

I set up my sleeping area outside of the tarp since it wasn’t forecasted to rain and it was really nice.  We sat by the fire and shot the shit for a while before heading to bed,  It was much colder than it was the day before.

Before bed I gave each of the dogs a fat cube.  I also peed again!

VOBS Dog Sledding Series: Sunday, 3/15/15, Day 2

We were woken up at 6AM.  Ed showed us how to pack our bags so we got up and put our gear away.  We grabbed our duffels and headed to the cabin to have breakfast.  We used our camping bowls and spoons and had sausages and grits.  After breakfast we headed out front and learned how to pack our sleds.  The sleds are made by students who are there for the 60-day courses.  Our sleds are “The Daddy Kay” and “The Weeze.”  We packed up the sleds and then packed up 3 pulks for 3 of the 5 skiers.    We walked down to the dog area and Ed showed us how to “two-wheel” a dog and harness her.  Once the mushing group came they took over and the ski group headed out.  Me, Ed, Fil, Adam, and Juan were the first ski group.  Ed gave us a crash course on cross-country skiing and we hit the trails.

I fell.  A lot.  At times we had to take our gear off and give it to the mushers so that we could help them get their sleds through the portages.  We traveled on the lake and used portages to get from one to another.  Some of the portages didn’t have much snow so we had to help a lot.

Sled commands are “ready dogs, let’s go,” H-O-G or “Hah” (left), “on-by” (straight), “Gee” (right), and “whoa” to stop the sled.  There are also 3 braking methods.  The sled brake, drag brake, and a chain that wraps around the sled foot.  Skiing was tough.  We traveled roughly 5 miles and by the end of the day I was beat and my left knee was sore.  Oh, and I skied with a pack on my back.  No pulk.

At camp we learned how to set things up.  I learned how to make a knot called a trucker’s hitch.  We set up tarps for cover and got our beds ready.

Dre got the fire ready and we enjoyed a “hot drink” (hot chocolate for me) and dinner.  Dinner was an odd version of spaghetti carbonara which was made with powdered milk, bacon, onions, and spaghetti.  Not too bad.  After dinner we got ready for bed.

Oh yeah, before dinner someone reads a quote from the quote book and then says “peace and chow” and we echo it.

The dogs were all passed out once we got to camp too.  It was pretty adorable.  I’m pretty fond of Growly Bear and Tiberius.

Sled 1 dogs:  Isabella, Growly Bear, Tiberius, Sila, Buckwheat, and Mikkl.

Sled 2 dogs:  Tamarack, Bimble Bear, Marten, Yukon, and Polaris.

“Squirrel bags” are snack bags filled with sesame sticks, M&M’s, gold fish, dried fruit, and nuts to eat throughout the day.

Gear:  mouse boots, gaiters, leather mittens (chompers), beanie, neck warmer, liner gloves, liner socks, wool socks, long underwear, underwear, sports bra, wind pants, t-shirt, fleece top, down jacket, anorak.  Adjust layers as necessary.

Started travel around 9:30-10Am and arrived at camp around 5PM.

VOBS Dog Sledding Series: Saturday, 3/14/15, Day 1

Today’s been a long day.  I got up at 4AM and left for the airport at 4:30AM.  The flight into Minneapolis was nice and I just had enough time on my layover to get to my next gate.  I got into Duluth at 11:15Am and waited for the driver.

Sam (10/16/16 edit:  who looks like Charlie Hunnam) showed up a little before 1PM and we took the van to a local gas station for wait for the other 6 guys who were coming in by shuttle.  We got to Outward Bound around 6PM and got our gear packed and situated.  We’re waiting around now for everyone to finish up before we do some training and then we’ll sleep out on the porch.  I’m excited but wondering if I’m ready for this.

We had to do ice rescue training and they needed a volunteer to go into the water so I went ahead and volunteered.  They gave me some clothes to put on to jump into the water along with a rope, helmet, and life jacket.  We went down to the ice hole and I jumped in.  It wasn’t even waist high but I kneeled down to try and get as wet as possible.  It was pretty friggin cold.  The guys had all the stuff set up – a tarp and blanket, plus a dry set of clothes.  They took my shoes, pants, and top off and put me in dry clothes and then wrapped me in the blanket and tarp.  It was pretty neat.  After I got to go change and dry off in the 150F sauna.  It was nice.  Our instructors are Dre (Andrea) and Ed.  My classmates are Fil (Navy), Tony (Army), Adam (Army), Kevin (Army), Johnny (Navy), and Juan (Army).  It’s not bad being the only girl.  After the ice rescue training we put our headlamps on and went to the dog yard to visit with the dogs.  It was hard to see them all but there are over 70 dogs there.

I visited with  as many dogs as I could before we had to leave.  The musher’s cabin was pretty cool and had names of all the dogs that had been at Outward Bound.  They even adopt out the older dogs!  We turned our headlamps off at one point and just looked at the sky.  All of the stars were beautiful.  We headed back to homeplace (name of Outward Bound HQ) and got ready for our night on the porch.  Ed showed us his sleep setup.  We have 1 full pad and 1 half pad for under our torso area (extra insulation) and then we have 2 sleeping bags.  An outer synthetic bag and an inner down bag for warmth.  He showed us where to keep our gaiters and boots when we take them off for the night (in between the two pads about the hip area).  When he was done we hopped in our bags and went to sleep.

VOBS Dog Sledding Series: Intro

Last year I went on an 8-day dog sledding adventure in Minnesota with Voyageur Outward Bound (VOBS).  I took a notebook with me to journal my daily thoughts and adventures.  This trip happened not even one month after my life fell apart.  Over the next few weeks I will be posting those journal entries.

#myob

Do this, not that.  Wear this, not that.  Eat this, not that.  Say this, not that.

Mind. Your. Own. Business. I am so tired of being told what I should be doing according to someone else’s ideals.  What ever happened to living an authentic life for yourself?  Nowadays we are so concerned with what we should be doing that we don’t simply do things that make us happier.

A couple of years ago I was in Georgia visiting my [ex] mother-in-law.  I asked one of her daughters what she thought about a hairstyle I was thinking about getting.  I asked her if she thought it would be appropriate and she said, “Who cares?  If you like it, do it.”  Ever since then I try to live my life how I want.  I also try to withhold judgment of others based on what they look like, what their hair looks like, what they’re wearing, etc.  It’s none of my business.  If it makes them happy, rock on!  Isn’t that what life is about?

In my opinion, it seems as though everything we do needs to be categorized somehow.  Right or wrong, cool or uncool, sexy or ugly.  Why?  I just read an article about being single and while I agreed with some of the points I strongly disagreed with others.  The writer, in my opinion, was trying to justify being single and at times, putting down those in relationships.  There is no need.  No way is more right or wrong than the other.  Do you and just #myob.  Why is it so hard to just live life and not try to justify why you or your way is better than someone else’s?

My personal philosophy is simple.  Do, wear, say, and think whatever it is that makes you happy as long as it doesn’t harm anyone or anything else.  Simple.  Who cares what the retailers tell you you should be wearing it?  If it makes you feel like a goddamn rock star, wear it!  To me, there’s nothing more bad ass than feeling like your best self and living authentically for you.

 

Lone wolf

I went on a hike yesterday.  I brought my headphones but didn’t use them at all.  For 6.3 miles and almost 2 hours it was just me, nature, and my thoughts.  My mind was all over the place.  Sometimes I was replaying song lyrics in my head, and at other times I thought about the instability of career and some of the not so nice things people have said.  At one point I had an epiphany.  I realized that I truly love being alone.

“Now I’m me without you, and things are ’bout to get real good.”Gwen Stefani

As I was walking that trail I was content with my own company and didn’t once wish there was someone there with me.  Thinking back, I have always been an extremely independent person; my parents would attest to that. When I was 4 I fell down a flight of stairs and got pretty fucked up.  To the best of my recollection, I stepped inside a laundry basket in order to reach a light switch, and accidentally ended up sliding down the stairs to the basement and getting pretty banged up.  According to my mom, I limped my way outside where they were and didn’t say anything about what had happened or the fact that I was hurt.  My knee had swelled up pretty bad and they eventually noticed and took me to the hospital.  I didn’t break anything but I was rocking a walker and full leg cast for a while.  Anyway, the point of this little trip down memory lane was to prove that I have always done things for myself and kept to myself.

It wasn’t too long ago that I would go through periods where I worried about being single for the rest of my life.  A recent experience helped me narrow down what it is I want out of life and relationships, both romantic and platonic, at least right now anyway.  Furthermore, it helped me realize there is nothing to worry about.  At this point in life I am exactly where I should be and with whom I should be – me.

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