Constant State of Transition – A Quick Note

I am on a plane yet again flying north back to Alaska (River too). Work – the doggies are in need of me. While I am not thrilled to be leaving Shaun, I am ready to see mountains, my ‘Alaska family’ as I refer to the Gardners and a couple of other very close people I am lucky enough to have in my life. This year started off in a state of transition and shows no signs of stopping that trend. My name as a ‘Dog Trainer’ has spread and I continue to be able to make travel and work..well, work. In only a few weeks, I will be flying back to the East Coast for more dogs and to spend time with Shaun.

My time is rather largely shared between Alaska and the East Coast. This is both awesome and exhausting depending on how much sleep I’ve had. I continue to find people in all sorts of places to share things like rock climbing, a festival or just a cup of coffee. Occasionally the stars (I mean schedules here..) align for people whom are very dear to me and we can get together. Recently I had a very short but still sweet visit with Lorien. Sadly my siblings and I have been unable to make it work – but I am hoping in the coming months that will be rectified.

The main thing I’ve come to realize is the difficulty of writing on the blog, returning phone calls, emails and such when one is in a constant state of transition. If I haven’t been quick to respond or you feel ignored, I am sorry and hope that one might understand that is it quite unlikely a personal thing. I will say for those who may need to get a hold of me for whatever reason – a text saying ‘Need to talk’ will get you a callback faster than an email or voicemail will.

The constant change of time zones, climate, driving style (east coast verses Alaska is a VERY different set of challenges), personalities of the people I’m around (in the Gardner house I can say fuck anytime of the day, in my relatives space not so much), and even worse – food option challenges, tends to leave me a little discombobulated. I wouldn’t trade it for staying in one place in the least, but I cannot say it is easy or leaves energy for other things at times. All in the trials of being a Wanderer.

I hope to add more content soon (but I’ve said that a few times before..).



2015 ~ A Quick Note

Now that I’ve let the Blog sit in silence for months…I figured it was at least time for a quick short update of sorts. The Holiday season of 14′ was pretty busy & I spent most of it laid up in bed sick as a dog! Not my favorite way to kick back. I spent my sick Holidays in Alaska with Shaun & my Alaska people. Other than being essentially deathly ill, it was a pretty good time.

Mid January found me headed to Asheville NC to be part of a higher level WildernessFusion class – they needed people with immune system problems to use as teaching. River & Shaun went with me for support. Lorien & her wonderful Mother Barbara stopped by for the night to get a quick visit in. It was short but very sweet!

I spent some time in Ocean City with Shaun and his newly acquired Blue Heeler ~ Dusty. River is officially getting a pack on each coast. I’ve also started getting some dog training clients outside of Anchorage – which is quite helpful for the travel budget. Mid February River and I flew back to Alaska for dog work and friends that were visiting. It was an action packed – social extravaganza  – adventure filled 10 days with great people!

As I write this now, I’m flying back to the East Coast for a week for my quarterly WildernessFusion class. Shaun picks me up from the airport in DC and I get a couple of days before I drive to NY. Due to work in Anchorage, I literally only stay a week on the Eastern Seaboard before flying back to Alaska – where I also will only stay a week (its spring break in AK which means doggie care is in high demand) since I have commitments back on the East Coast! Whew. River is riding out the week in Alaska since it is so much bouncing around. She is not thrilled.

That’s all I can hash out while on a Plane flying over the states at the moment.

~ J

Back From Europe – A Quick Update

I have been stateside for a few days now – I can finally get my brain settled enough to do an update tonight! I (obviously) survived my trip to Europe with the Gardners. No fevers or muggings were had. A train or two may have been missed but not the planes! I did get patted down in the France airport (like searched – hands in uncool places) while Kathy & Dave just waltz through..I clearly looking threatening here with the freckles and pants that used to fit and now are just über baggy…

The trip was AMAZING. I am so, so beyond THANKFUL to Kathy & Dave for taking me with them and making this possible. I also very grateful to Kathy’s Sister and her Husband for allowing to stay and showing us around.

We arrived in Paris – and then on to London after a subway and then train through the Chunnel just in time for ‘Dinner’. We  had left Chicago around 8pm the day before! I fell asleep before dinner and then woke up at 1am (London time). I finally figured out that the strange bird calls I was hearing were the Jackdaws (within the Corvidae family – looks similar to a crow) and the wild Ringneck Pheasant. We stayed in England for about 8 days. During that time pubs were visited, the Stonehenge was experienced, a Castle strolled around, the Highlands explored with the help of Kathy & Dave’s Nephew and lets not forget London.. Tink’s a Disney whore – that place is intense! Pictures and details are coming…at some point in the future. Monday Morning after a rather packed weekend found the 3 of us dashing with our luggage in the London Underground on our way back to Paris. Once checked into the Hotel (not as easy when all the signs are in French) we strolled out into the French night to check out the Louvre (weird triangle building that the De Vinci Code talks about). It was pretty cool. The next morning had us up early and on the cobblestones hunting breakfast out. The entire day was spent on foot (and occasionally subway) touring about in the older part of Paris. Notre Damn was visit – well worth it I might add. Crepes consumed and plenty of coffee to fuel the weary. Before dinner, we did the Eiffel Tower during a rain/wind the dark… Was quite exciting. Dinner was wolfed down. Desert followed later at another vendor with Irish Coffees (really strong ones I might add). It was late upon return to the hotel – I was unable to fall asleep so I started the journey back to the states in traditional Joannie Miller style – totally sleep deprived. 6am came quickly (I just simply got up – was already awake) and the trials of travel started anew. Almost 12 hours of flying (I barely slept) had us in Sunny San Francisco – it was disgustingly hot. Customs and then a packed flight to Seattle – an hours worth of down time and back on the plane again finally landing in Anchorage around 10:30pm. 28 since the flight from Paris officially took off. It was a tad surreal!

The trials of travel were well worth it. I cannot say I wanted to come back…I was ready to set out backpacking and see more! I think my body was grateful to be in a less crowded place with cleaner air though…

Since being back, I’ve only begun to realized how ‘peopled out’ I am. As a fairly introverted person who really likes her quiet and ‘alone’ time – Europe is a fucking populated place! Other than some texts and as minimal phone conversations as possible – I’ve been hiding from Humanity. Dave had to go on a work trip and then Kathy left two days later – so I even have had the whole place to myself the past 2 days. I interacted with dogs and their people only!

Hopefully I will sort through all the pictures in a timely fashion (one can dream anyway) and post them with the details of the adventures!


Leaving for the U.K

I leave for Europe with Kathy & Dave G today (Saturday). Over 24 hours of flying, layovers, trains and such before we arrive in London. We’ll spend a few days in and around the London area, a visit or two to the countryside – maybe even the coast! Then it’s off to Paris for a few days before we come back into the states. I’ll be gone until the 22nd. All the dogs will be boarded (much to their chagrin) during the travels. River has been alternating between super clingy and pissed. Explaining to a demanding dachshund that overseas travel isn’t something she can just ‘come along for’ is not going particularly well. I can probably expect the silent treatment upon my return…

I’m excited for the trip (maybe not the large amount of time sitting in uncomfortable seats) and feel pretty damned humbled that I get to join Kathy and Dave. In some ways I feel rather undeserving (okay, most ways), that would just be one of the ‘images’ that I am working on. I expect I’ll take entirely too many pictures, sample more beers than maybe I need and try to bring more rocks than my pockets can carry back with me. Since this is a short trip – I just plan on soaking in what I can and plotting my next extended visit. No rushing about and trying to fit 1000 things into a few days.

I wish I could say I’m all ‘packed’ and ready to go..but that would be a lie. At this point in the game, I do have clean clothes at least to pack with! Stocked my e-reader up with books (this is infinitely more important than clean clothes) and have my cameras ready go. Packing for trips is all about priorities. Reading material should always be high on the list!

Here’s to the next adventure along the journey ~ J

End of Summer Schedule

Mid July has already arrived. The Fireweed is blooming here in Anchorage and throughout Alaska – a possible sign that our Summer may end early. The days blur together – as my life tends towards – and the moments are marked in experiences and feelings rather dates and times. Nevertheless, dates help keep thing from being too hectic! So here are the next couple of months to the best of my knowledge.

For the rest of July into August I’ll be in Anchorage. August 8th is the current date I fly east, there is still a small possibility that it could change, but not likely. River stays in Alaska with Gardners. From the 8th of August until Sept 9th I will be in various locations along the east coast, Maryland, New Jersey and New York for sure. By Sept 10th I will be working my way back to Alaska for work. Around mid October I’ll be flying to Europe with Kathy & Dave for a bit of adventure, visit Kathy’s family there and even some dog training!

The dates are as follows:

August 8th – current fly to DC date.

August 8th – 15th Ocean City MD – hopefully see some of my TN family before they start school.

Possible classes in NY from the 16th till the 25th of August.

August 25th – Sept 5th Maryland/New Jersey.

Sept 5th – 9th WildernessFusion class in NY.

Around Sept 10-12th fly back to Alaska for work and such.

October 11th – 22nd ish – Europe!

As always, things shift. If it works to meet up with me – get in touch and we’ll try to make it happen.  ~J




Late Spring Schedule

My ‘down’ time in Alaska is about to come to an end. Not that I’ve been quiet and still exactly – plenty of adventuring and chaos to attend to in my ‘slower’ portion of life. Dogs are often the forefront, walking, training, hiking and of course just caring for them. As many dog owners can attest to, it’s the morning your running late that someone has gotten sick on the rug and ‘couldn’t hold it’. Messes aplenty. Particularly when one Beagle who already has the world’s most sensitive stomach gets a hold of a Curry dish that was left out when no one was in the room.

I leave for DC to pickup my car in a few days. River will be staying with her Alaska family for safe keeping. Once I retrieve my car and visit with my Aunt Cathie and family, I’ll head to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, to see Shaun, my Aunt Terry and of course my Cousin Lucy along with many other family members. I will also be seeing one of my favorite friends before she heads back to St. Croy with her husband! I haven’t seen Carmen in a few years and am beyond excited that it worked out for me to leave for the East Coast early.

The following weekend I will be in New York State – South Salem for my 4th WildernessFusion class. I am both looking forward to and anxious about class – seeing as how we are turning in homework this time. By this point we are well into June – and I head back to Maryland for the rest of the week before departing to Alaska so I can prepare (all 24 hours) before my wonderful friends and Earth Sister Carl and Tracy arrive! I love having people visit and sharing some of the things I love about Alaska with them. I will have a little over 2 weeks to try to pack in as much as possible with Tracy and her homebody husband Carl.

By the time Tracy and Carl depart back to Maine, it will be July – damn this Summer isn’t even here yet and I’m already saying its half over! I have some dog stuff to take care of, a diving course to get through so I can get certified when I go to Guam (which may be as soon as this October!!!) and a few possible trips in the works. Hopefully my best friend Lorien will visit me at some point later this Summer and maybe even a Brother if I can get one of their asses up here.

The timeline is:

May 28th – Depart Alaska to DCA. I’ll arrive VERY late in the evening/early Thurs in OC.

May 29th – June 6th — Maryland.

June 6th – 9th — NY State for WildernessFusion Class.

June 10th – 15th — Maryland & hopefully will see Dad & everyone if they visit OC during this time.

June 16th – Back in Alaska!

June 18th – Tracy & Carl Arrive!!!

July 3rd – Tracy & Carl back to Maine.

I’m sure I’ll have to update a thing or two between now and July – but if you’re in the area and want to try to meet up with me – send me an email/text.

Early Spring Sunset

Early Spring Sunset

Here’s to a busy Spring and an even busy Summer! ~ J


Trip to Montreal CAN ~ Element Sisters

As many of you know, I have a group of 3 women whom I often call my ‘Element Sisters’ (but am not related to them in any fashion) that I met at my Philosophy 1 Tracker class in 2012. Between the 4 of us, we live all over North America. Linda (Water Sister) lives in Quebec Canada. She has a beautiful home on Mohawk lands that we converged at for some much-needed Sister time!

I drove to Maine the end of March in the Black Dragon with the River Rat where I stayed with Tracy (Earth Sister) and her husband Carl along with their animals. River charmed everyone – even the Gizzy the stand-offish little cat. After resting for a day or two, Tracy and I repacked the Black Dragon, did everything we could to ensure that River would make it across the Canadian border and off we went! The drive should have only been about 7 hours. We managed to make it well over 10…Our intense conversation kept taking us down the wrong roads – even though Tracy knew the area well. We found Jesus Christ on a very hilly back road in Maine. Scared many a logger and managed to not attract the police. The border took awhile, River passed with flying colors though. My Dragon was taken apart because clearly we are drug dealers… The border guards finally dismissed us and shook their heads with many a french word about our characters.

We made it to Linda’s house late in the night after entirely too much coffee and sugar. The first 24 hours was spent catching up and unwinding. Linda’s impressive man of a son brought us dinner even! River charmed the girls who had yet to meet her and one of Linda’s dogs. The other was not interested in making friends and just glared like a cute gremlin at her.

Moon Hidden in the Blue

Moon Hidden in the Blue

Even though Linda lives outside of Montreal, woods and wetlands surround her with beauty. We headed out for an afternoon walk the next day (or was it day 2..I cannot remember) – fresh air and some actual movement were needed after hours upon hours of talking, laughing, crying, cooking and just plain enjoying each others company.

Linda showing us her Sit Spot

Linda showing us her backyard

Afsoon & Tracy carefully examining a special place in Linda’s woods with much seriousness.

Tracy  & Afsoon in careful consideration of Sit Spot

Tracy & Afsoon in careful consideration of Sit Spot

Walking around enjoying the beautiful day – it was a crisp and bright day. The temperature was perfect for moving around in the snow with the sun shining down. Afsoon was bundled up to keep her California blood warm and more importantly the baby that will be joining us later this summer! The rest of us were dressed similarly to ward off the colds we were fighting.

Tracy, Afsoon & Linda wandering the old railroad trail.

Tracy, Afsoon & Linda wandering the old railroad trail.

Sumac – the Rhus typhina variety – also known as Staghorn Sumac grows everywhere on the land! Many people think of it as a scrub bush – good for nothing. But you can do many tasty and even medicinal things with it. Obviously be sure you know which type of Sumac you have before eating it though – there are a few poisonous types in places.

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Closeup of Sumac Berries. Personally I find it a very pretty plant and would like to try some of many drinks made from it someday. I’ve bought it as a ‘spice’ which is used in many ethnic dishes around the world (though the type of Sumac varies) and even salads.

Closeup of Sumac

Closeup of Sumac Berries

Linda has much knowledge of her local botany and shared much of it – which I think most of us have forgotten as no one had a notebook! Though plenty of information was shared over the weekend, the main goal was to relax, soak in each others company and discuss the important parts of our lives and futures.

Tracy and Linda discussing the botany

Tracy and Linda discussing the botany

Ask anyone who has had the misfortune of being in the 4’s presence – we LAUGH. A lot. Like as in most of the students at the classes the 4 of us have attended with, don’t know our names, just ‘the loud laughing women’ – particularly Tracy. In fact I just say ‘the one with the loudest laugh’ and people who cannot pick her out of line up instantly ‘know’ who I am talking about..(We love you Tracy). Linda likes to say she is the ‘quiet’ one…But actually not. In fact, she is more often the instigator… If someone is actually ‘quiet’ in the group, it’s probably me. Afsoon..well she gets shit done. She makes it happen. And gods help you if you think your going to stand in her way (she is a Lawyer after all..). I think I can speak for the group on this one; we love it when Afsoon decides to take matters into her own hands and marches her cute little butt up to the poor unsuspecting soul who is about to have a serious reality check. It’s as Trace would say ‘FREAKING AWESOME MAN’!

As someone who never really had the whole ‘girl’ time thing – most of my female friends are pretty tomboy like myself – I am beyond grateful for these 3 wonderful women in my life. It is as much a mystery to us as it is to the rest of the Tracker community that we meet and how such a powerfully intense, deep and loving friendship sprung from such radically different people. But is exactly what we need.

Carhartt colors! Afsoon borrowed a pair of Carhartts as she hasn’t learned where to find such things in LA – but the rest of us proudly sport the very comfortable and useful pants – the men’s ones no less! We had the rainbow of Carhartt colors almost complete – clearly we should be getting free pants with our advertisements here!

Carhartt Color Wheel

Carhartt Color Wheel

Spring ‘breakup’ was only days away. But for this walk things were still fairly frozen and picturesque.

Frozen Marshland

Frozen Marshland

Nothing like trying to take ‘selfies’ of 4 people at once…It was pretty painful, and many less than ideal shots had. This was one of the ‘better’ ones. All of us were sporting Smartwool hats! Another place we should be getting free gear from me thinks…

Four Elements!

Four Elements!

Air, Water & Earth! Looking adorable together.

Afsoon, Linda & Tracy

Afsoon, Linda & Tracy

Beautiful even with the goofy grins!

Air & Earth (Afsoon & Tracy)

Air & Earth (Afsoon & Tracy)

Tracy was the photographer here – she said something rather funny and got this ridiculous shot!

Water & Fire in Hysterics

Water & Fire in Hysterics

Without even trying, Linda and I had the opposite color combo going on.

Water & Fire (Linda & Joannie)

Water & Fire (Linda & Joannie)

Probably my favorite shot of the landscape. The whimsical Phragmites in the breeze against the ever-blue sky.

Beautiful Phragmites

Beautiful Phragmites

We had towel fights in the kitchen. Revelations over pancakes. Shopping spree in Montreal at the Market. Amazing Chocolate at Coaco 70 – also in Montreal. Tea 2 and 3 times a day. Delicious food that we all whipped up. And of course, much laughter.

I wrote this post for you 3 – Tracy, Linda & Afsoon! Hope you enjoy ♥

You find your people on the Journey ~ J