Close to a Year

“Time Flies When You’re Having Fun” is an often quoted statement. In a way, I completely agree. Life has been chaotic, amazing, trying, exciting and sometimes just plain busy. It’s been almost an entire year since I’ve last written. Even just a mediocre sparse update about how I’m ‘busy’ but good overall. I think there is probably a multitude of reasons for this sabbatical. Some of which are; I got even busier with less down time during 2015.

My class homework with WildernessFusion became even more time-consuming than previous.

Shaun moving to Alaska and living together meant I was naturally busier with more outside social things and have had less drive to write.

Time sped up. My days have been constantly fuller be it work, people or just trying to catch up. Time seems to be moving quickly and often at a rate that I sometimes find hard to stay present with. Working multiple jobs often feels like this to me.

Some days there simply isn’t enough time for all the things. The phone calls that have to be made by 1pm because of the time differences, the bank/business/store errands that have to be done before they all close – but working later into the day means there is only a couple of hours to get to everywhere at the most traffic dense time of the day.

In addition to all the practical reasons, I’ve also been struggling with ‘what’ to write. Often I simply don’t want to share what’s been on my mind because it’s not always happy or nice – and/or I don’t have the energy to create an ‘adventure’ and ‘fun’ post with all the details and all the cool pictures (which takes hours to sift through, reduced the top choices to a more reasonable number that I can again try to trim so I don’t spend just 24 hours alone uploading large picture files) that while I love when I can crank one of those out for all that want to know what I’m up too – sometimes the mental energy just isn’t there (which has been a lot in the last 2 years). I often have the image that I’m pathetic and shallow if I openly discuss whatever challenges and trials are happening in my life when I also have all these amazing things going on.

Simply stating this feels a little gross, I’m sharing the stuff that I dislike about myself and are my ‘reasons’ for not writing or posting picture adventure posts. But Alas I want to work on my writing and this is one of the few avenues that I can seem to find some words in.

It’s 5:30am here and I’ve yet to sleep much. Shaun and I both have today off and there is a list of things to be done, hikes to be had, dogs to be walked and our lives to be lived. Something I actually enjoy more often than not these days.

~ J

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..).

~J

Back from Belize – an update

To say that I have been busy is, well… an understatement to say the least. I arrived back to the states from Belize a week ago today (Fri 21st). In many ways it feels like the Belize trip itself was much longer than a week, and that I am still ‘adjusting’ to being stateside. I surprised even myself with how quickly I adjusted to ‘not being in the states’. It was almost too easy. I no sooner hit American turf than I was already plotting another overseas trips this Fall. Don’t get me wrong, I love being back and with some of my people… but a part of me seems to be ceaselessly wanting to wander, never satisfied unless another adventure is on the horizon.

squinting in the Belize brightness

Squinting in the Belize brightness

Belize was amazing. The class with WildernessFusion was amazing. The People are simply beyond amazing (both many locals I met and my classmates). I can’t say I ever thought I would visit Belize; it’s not that I didn’t want to, it simply wasn’t on the top 10 list, or even top 20. But man did I have a great time. I’m ready to go back and explore all the things I didn’t get to see. We stayed at a wonderful eco-lodge called Cotton Tree Lodge: what a great way to rest between adventures, and for those who are a little less inclined to ‘just go’ on their own, a fun and safe way to see the sights and experience some of the local flavor. I’m not going to get into the details of the trip, class or even attempt pictures of everything yet – I have 980 to sort through first…! I’m not purposely being a tease, I just want to update and forewarn. I only have bad iPhone photos for this post!

After my serene trip to Belize, I arrived in DC late in the evening, Shaun picked me up from the airport and we headed to the hotel where Kathy & Dave Gardner were waiting along with my River!

River waiting for me at the hotel...

River waiting for me at the hotel…

Kathy & Dave were in town for some work related things, and to join in on the fun of the ‘Shamrock Festival’. We had no idea what to expect, but it looked fun! River got to come last-minute since her and I were missing each other terribly. Saturday we dropped River off (much to her chagrin) at a Petsmart to day-board – possibly overnight so she was safe and cared for while the 4 of us were at Shamrock Fest.

To say the festival was… interesting is probably not doing it justice. It was a little more party and a little less festival than I was hoping for. But we still had fun. The noise and crowds were a little over stimulating after Belize, but I managed well enough! The 4 of us wandered about, often splitting up and then finding each other. It was very cool to be share the crazy with Kathy and Dave and see them have fun regardless of the years that separate us.

Kathy, Dave & I at Shamrock Fest

Kathy, Dave & I at Shamrock Fest!

They even had an EDM dance tent which is where Shaun and I spent most of our time after the draw of the bands wore off (and Shaun had enough to drink to tell the “tall people” to get in the back’ so he could see…)

Shaun & I in front of the EDM tent

Shaun & I in front of the EDM tent

Shaun headed back to Ocean City, MD on Sunday, while River and I stayed with Kathy and Dave that evening. The next day Dave, River and I toured around DC while Kathy took care of some work stuff. It was a lot of fun to walk around Monument Mall with Dave, talking about history of the various sites, the government system (which I will readily admit, I know very little about even though I’ve been told/read books about it). River earned many an ‘ohhh!’ and ‘look at the cute puppy!’ For the areas posted ‘no dogs’ I put her in my backpack (this is after all the best view point for her to see the various national parks I take her to).

She was also really into the squirrels…I made this image macro of the picture I took of her in the car right after yet another furry tailed-rat had dashed right in front of her (but due to her being leashed – no chase ensured). She wore this grin for quite a while!

River Meme

River Meme

For a late lunch/early dinner we met at McCormick’s which is just a damn tasty place to eat! After much-needed catching up, it was time for me to do last-minute car stuff with Dave’s help before hitting the road with River in the Black Dragon.

Dinner at McCormick's!

Dinner at McCormick’s with my Alaska family!

As you can see from our color pallet and choice of patterns..we look rather family like here. Kathy LOVES teal (I do too, maybe just not quite as much as she) and Dave often sports a plaid shirt (they are undeniably comfortable and dashing), so me in plaid teal pretty much tied everyone together in this picture (clearly I should have been in the middle to get the optimum effect). I always have a great time with these guys, and for some reason they do with me as well ♥

River totally zonked

River totally zonked

The last few days River and I have been chilling in Ocean City MD at my family’s rental. Shaun hangs out with us after work and often feeds me and buys me coffee (coffee is the important detail here..). I am mostly just adjusting to not being on ‘Belize Time’ which is something that doesn’t exist in this country. Also the weather changes from hot and humid Belize jungle to blustery Northeasters on the coastline has been a couple of days of uncomfortable. A few days from now I head north to Maine to meet up with Tracy and then we head to Quebec, Canada to Linda’s place where Afsoon will meet us. Element Sisters reunited! The plan is that River goes with me every step of the way.

I head back towards DC with a few stops along the way in early April, and then back to Alaska by April 14th. River too. Once back in AK we stay put for a while as I have work to attended to, Dogs to train, money to be made if I think I want to go on another trip any time soon.

Dave took this great pic with his phone of River & I in DC right outside the Lincoln Memorial! It was a windy and chilly day – my leather cap is all I could find instead of my warm wool knit, so I kept my hair down to help keep me warm (which is why the rather dramatic style going on there..). But it made for a very photogenic picture with my black leather jacket and little black & tan dog – whose ‘tan’ markings are such a shade of red that they just about match my red hair 😉

River & I in DC

River & I in DC

~ Always on a Journey  – Joannie & River.

 

Late Winter Schedule – Where I will be at

Wow. 31 days of January over and done with, now into February and I don’t have much to show for it with writing yet. I did take pictures though. Many pictures… In Short, I was busy with work, dogs, cooking, showing Shaun around Alaska – during possibly the worst stretch of weather in a while..more dogs and travel plans.

*detailed date by date events are at the end*

As many know, I have been in Alaska since Dec 31st, I am due to fly out to DC in a couple of days. Originally I was supposed to go to Utah for a few days to visit with a fellow classmate and friend – but sadly that fell through. Once in DC, I will pickup my car (Black Dragon!) from my wonderful Aunt Cathy and family, who have been amazing with letting me park my car, drop me off and pick me up when possible at the airport – and has even extended that kindness to a few close friends in need. After some rest, I drive south to Tennessee with a stop off in Johnson City to see my long time bestie Lorien! Then on to the Farm to see the family. River will stay in Alaska with Kathy & Dave and the Beagles. She will probably sulk and give me the paw of ‘screw you’ for a while, but I will have the peace of mind that she is very well cared for.

After about week in Tennessee, I will start heading north – hopefully see a few friends along the way and end up in Maine to see two of my Element Sisters Linda & Tracy (Tracy’s husband Carl too). I have an overdue promise to get together with everyone that I am quite excited about. * I will NOT be on the Eastern Shore of Maryland along the drive North. Which brings us to – the end of March, where I’ll be in New York with my Wilderness Fusion Healing 1 class! Early March has me making my way back down to Maryland, see my favorite snarky cousin Lucy, family and Shaun; before heading back into DC to fly out to Belize!!! I’m going to Belize with Wilderness Fusion – a last-minute class I was able to get into, that will be almost a week in Punta Gorda. Very excited. Once back from Belize, I will be in DC for a few days for fun stuff like the Shamrock festival with Shaun, Kathy & Dave, probably some museums and who knows what else! Sometime after that I will head back to Alaska since I will need to see my Rivers (and make more money..).

I know, I’ve left a LOT out. But this is the overview. Actual dates of everything as best as I can estimate are as follows:

Feb 11th – Arrive DC.

Feb 12th – Arrive Johnson City TN, with Lorien.

Feb 13th – Arrive in TN at Farm.

Feb 20th ish – Begin driving North to Maine. Hopefully with a stop in NJ for sleeping & visit.

Feb 22nd to 27th – Maine.

Feb 28th – Drive to New York for Class.

March 1st through 3rd – Healing 1 Class in New York.

March 4th  till the 14th – Maryland.

March 14th – DC to fly out early the 15th for Belize.

March 16th till 21st – Belize with Wilderness Fusion class.

March 21st to 23rd – DC Fun.

End of March – tentative back to Alaska.

Going to be a great and rather hectic next couple of months. On the off chance that the East Coast has a wicked snow storm or two, I am hoping many of my Jersey Peeps will allow me to park my car should it come to that (New York too!). I have in my driving ability and the Black Dragon to make it to Maine, even in snow – but other drivers on the damned East Coast – I do not have so much faith in…

Home is the Journey ~ J

December Fun

Arrghh! Once again I look up and time has gotten away from me. December 20th!? WHAT. November was a great month, Thanksgiving nice with Kathy, Dave & friends! I spent about 10 days in Maryland visiting with family & friends before flying out to Alaska for work and the Holiday.

Early December found me in Seattle for a lay over with Reuben. We had a great time seeing some of our old haunts and taking in Seattle’s sushi & coffee. Early the next morning I was supposed to be off to D.C to meet up with a classmate from WildernessFusion and to pickup my car, but I was delayed getting checked in and missed my flight. 8 hours later of sitting at the airport I was *finally* on my way. DC was shockingly warm compared to Alaska and even Seattle. My wonderful Aunt Cathie picked me up along with classmate B, and we stayed the night in Arlington, VA before heading out for NY state. The drive was an adventure itself, but we made it in one piece to another classmate’s house near the park where the class is held. Quite a few people from the class were already there staying the night as well, so much fun was had.

My class itself was an intense – but amazing – and also freaking cold (and damp) time. Wouldn’t have changed a thing. The last night of the class the snow turned to ‘freezing rain’ (my favorite…) and everything was covered in ice. Breakfast was late that morning. By midday, things had warmed up but the skies were not promising to play nice. A few of us met back at J’s house (classmate we stayed with before class) where B was staying till his flight the next morning. Being tired, it wasn’t hard for them to convince me to stay the night (I had planned on staying with Amy in NJ). By the next morning snow was everywhere and no one was leaving… I ended up being snowed in for 2 nights, during which we all had a blast of archery (with hand-made bows), snow tracking while wandering through the storm, venison steaks, even a bit of dog training, and great conversation. Best ‘stuck in NY’ yet!

Snow on the Lake in NY

Snow on the Lake in NY

Once the roads cleared I made it back to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Took some time to myself, hung out with Shaun and basically let my brain stop for a day or two (class was very intense, it needed a break). Food, movies, the rest of the Walking Dead episodes that I hadn’t seen yet; I enjoyed being lazy and Shaun was happy to partake. Then the dreaded Christmas shopping began. Everyone to whom I have sent gifts (or will, since I’m always late with this sort of thing) I love dearly, and even like giving them things. But I HATE HOLIDAY SHOPPING. People are crazy. The music is horrid. The lines ridiculous. And the children… Don’t even get me started on the freaking brats in the store. Crying. Wailing. WHINING. Ugh. And I’m not even done…

This weekend I am going to get to see the semi-famous Baltimore Aquarium and go dancing with Shaun. I just hope I don’t kill anyway who is out shopping with their kids…

I then fly out to Seattle to stay with Reuben, where Linda (Element Sister from Tracker) will meet me and we will be adventuring around the West Coast (literally) for the Holiday. The plan is to see the Redwoods in CA, drive along the Oregon coast, hit up the Olympic Peninsula in WA and see a show in Vancouver, BC, Canada. While in Seattle, I will also get to see my Aunt Michele and Uncle Dave!

On the 31st I will be back in Alaska to kick off the New Year with Kathy, Dave and of course – River. I’ve plenty of work to keep me busy for most of January in Anchorage.

Hope your Holidays are fun!

~ Joannie

Fall Adventures in the Mix & Joannie’s Birthday

Autumn is near, the Equinox today and the winds of change are ever upon us. Fall used to be my favorite time of the year. Slowly I am getting some of my passion for it back. I still struggle with the memories of happier times and the last birthday that Mom was here for – I wrote about it in 2011 Here: https://lifeofjourney.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/my-belated-birthday/

For the second time this year, I will be at Tracker School in the company of my Element Sisters – Tracy, Linda & Afsoon – for a difficult time period. I feel there is significance in this timing. The other class took place this past March on the anniversary of Mom’s death.

My very first class with my ‘Element Sisters’ – where it all began – a year ago  I wrote about Here: https://lifeofjourney.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/philosophy-vision-quest-life-changing-times-at-tracker-school-august-2012/

What I’m up to:

I had a great weekend (Sept 7th -9th) in New York camping on the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation – a large and beautiful park where my Wilderness Fusion classes take place.

Words do not come readily to describe my weekend with Wilderness Fusion, other than it was extremely challenging and I found much-needed cognizance of my self.

The following two weeks after Wilderness Fusion, I spent in Maryland – predominately Ocean City, visiting with family and friends. I enjoyed the Ocean, visiting Assateague Island and taking a bit of down time in between appointments online, errands and planning my next adventures.

Most will know that for the end of September (Sept 22nd – Oct 1st) I will be at Tracker School integrating myself deeply (and probably getting my ass kicked) into Philosophy 2 & 3 with my wonderful Element Sisters and many other friends and class mates!

What is next?

I’ve had a few ‘possible’ trips in the mix, Hawaii being one of them. In addition to Hawaii though, I’ve had an even grander adventure possibility that I have been working on for the last couple of months that I am now officially doing (I will get to Hawaii one of these days..). A much desired destination of New Zealand! Yes, NEW ZEALAND!!! Australia is a possibility if the plane tickets are cheap enough – but New Zealand is for sure!

Details to come, for now I am going with my good friend Carleigh in December to backpack both Islands till the end of January, which brings me to the reason for this quick and rather lacking post of mine: I am asking all family and friends who planned on sending me a card or a small gift (Starbucks card, etc.) for my birthday next week, to instead please add whatever amount (hey I’m not picky – take that 5 bucks that you would have given me for a nice coffee) to my Travel Fund. I need some gear (frame backpack that will work for my rather messed up back.. etc) and of course the plane tickets aren’t cheap. I’m going to just go ahead and add here that Christmas gifts can be funneled in the same direction since I will actually be in New Zealand over Christmas.

Normally when people ask me ‘what do you want for your Birthday’ (Christmas too) I say ‘Nothing’ – or a bookstore gift card at the most. Holidays are pretty bittersweet for me and with my piss poor attitude about them in the last few years most people get me nothing nowadays (Except Lorien, because she doesn’t give a shit that I told her she cannot get me anything anymore). As I have changed in the last year, I’ve realized that while it doesn’t matter much if I still get nothing since this is my normal expectation, if people would like to ‘gift’ me – I can accept it and point them in the direction of what would be meaningful/useful for myself. So here I am, trying on a new hat (Yep that is a nod to you Barbara Myerson).

I hope your Autumn is filled with exciting prospects as mine has been thus far. I hope to write more about my adventures and maybe even edit some of this blog of mine… For now, I hit the road to New Jersey in 5 hours!

Open Roads ~ J

Alaska for the week & River

Back in Alaska for about a week this time, just a quick trip. I Came back for a doctors appointment (went well) and more importantly – to be with my RIVER. Ohh how I have missed her. My little River Rat. Also my Super Rat. And my better half… I am enjoying the cloudy and cool weather here. The fresh air (no nasty chicken houses or gross fertilizers here) and the ability to soak in the bathtub once more!

River is thrilled to have me back! I took the picture below of us today while I worked on the computer 😉

River Happy

River Happy

She has been in most excellent care of Kathy & Dave G. Playing with their Beagles and all in all, making herself quite at home. She sleeps on their bed (with the rest of the dogs) and even has a set of stairs so that she can come and go off the bed, since its a tad too high for her short legs! Kathy even handled the dental work River needed (originally I was going to wait till I had a chunk of time to arrange it myself). Kathy & Dave are AMAZING!!!

River & toy

River & toy

I took these picture of her a few months back at Kathy & Dave’s house – seemed like a good time to show them off! And yes some of them are in Black & White – I rather like the effect.

River Sitting-Pretty

River Sitting Pretty

River – while not thrilled at being apart from me, was living it up doggie style and is no worse for the wear. Clearly I am the one with separation anxiety here…

Warning: Worlds cutest Dachshund below (If I may say so myself here..).

Portrait of River

Portrait of River

I sadly will be returning alone on Sept 3rd, due to my classes on the East Coast – but have complete faith that I will see my River again in the same health and spirits as she is now – which can you really ask for more? ~ J