Friday, August 31, 2012

Where there's smoke...

...there always seems to be fire. West of us, there are currently 4 fires in Yellowstone, and three more fires surrounding Yellowstone. Since the wind blows in from the West here, we have had four days of extreme smoke here in the Valley. We would kill for a little bit of that Hurricane Isaac rain to come in here and put out the fires and clean the air. We are supposed to (finally) get a little rain in the next few days, but it's coming with Thunderstorms which are scaring. Lightning has been the cause of all the fires that are burning West of us, and because it has been SO dry up here this year, the possibility of more fires is pretty high. Anyhow, we're hoping the smoke will blow out of the valley soon so we can be more active and breathe easier. Literally.

We have the entire weekend off for Labor Day! Starting today and going through Monday, we are OFF! It's truly amazing. :) Of course, this is also the opening weekend of College Football, and we have big plans for camping out in the movie theatre and watching a ton of games. We actually got started last night, with the South Carolina/Vanderbilt game. Jason has been counting down the days to football since the last season ended with the Super Bowl. He's not too picky - College or NFL as long as it's football. I tend to prefer college. When the college season's over, my football season is pretty much over. Anyhow, Jason's Gators kick off against Bowling Green at 1:30pm our time on Saturday, and my #8 ranked Wolverines take on last year's National Champs, Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Texas at 6pm our time. Super nervous about my game - just hoping that they make a good showing and that everyone walks away from the game without injuries. If they can do that, they stand the chance of having an AWESOME rest of the season! As the late, great Bo Schembechler once said, "Keep Believing". I am, Bo. I am.

I wish I could credit this image appropriately. But I can't. If you know who owns it, let me know so I can credit them! I just love it, though!

We're almost finished here on the ranch. One more month, and one more group of guests arriving on September 14. We're going to blink and it will be time to go. So, so crazy. Because we have this long weekend, we're hoping the smoke will clear out and we can go on a nice long hike Sunday up the river into the Wyoming wilderness.

Did you know that the ranch actually borders the largest wilderness area in the lower 48? No wonder we have grizzlies and wolves and moose and elk and big horn sheep. :) Oh my.

On Monday, smoke permitting, we're planning to hop in the hummer and take off on a photo expedition. Maybe into Yellowstone and Teton. Maybe somewhere else. Who knows? But again, the air needs to be clear.

Anyhow, I hope you have an incredible, beautiful Labor Day weekend, wherever you're at. Happy Opening Weekend of Football! And Go Blue!

Photo courtesy of MGoBlog

Thursday, August 23, 2012

In Training

I did it. I convinced the ranch trainer, Caleb, to train me. I'm working with him twice a week right now, building an exercise program that I can take with me when we leave.

I've always been active, and I've been fit. More fit at some times than others. But I have never felt confident about my body, especially my stomach. So this training is not about losing weight, but more about getting on a program, making a commitment to my body and tightening everything up.

And since I'll be 30 on October 16, it's the perfect time to build new habits - before a milestone birthday.

So here's where I'm at - I am a size 4, and I think I weigh on any given day somewhere between 130 and 135 pounds. (Stop rolling your eyes at me - we can all use to be fitter, no matter our size.) I could care less about how much I weigh exactly - it's about health - but my best guess is in that range based on the last time I went to the doctor's office.

At the end of six weeks of training with Caleb, I will have a tighter tummy, a stronger body, and a plan for continuing to change my exercise habits.

I already feel so much better, just for being proactive.

When I find my camera, I'll post my "before" belly photo and a weekly update. Some accountability will help me to continue!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Facing Forward

We're getting so close to the end of our time here in Wyoming. It's crazy to say that, but it's so true. We're officially done and on our way on October 1 this year. That's 7 weeks from tomorrow. And judging by how fast this summer has been flying by, I'll blink and it will be time to go. Strange.

Because the time is coming, Jason and I have been looking forward, thinking about what's next and trying to plan. I know... best laid plans and all, but here's what we think is up next for us:

We're going to book it from here to Orlando to spend a little bit of time with Jason's parents before they make the big move to China. More on that in a moment.

I turn 30 on October 16 - that's right, the big 3-0. Still trying to wrap my head around it, but confident that my thirties will be amazing. To celebrate my birthday in style, Jason and I are taking a twelve day Mediterranean Cruise that leaves from Barcelona on October 13 (one of my favorite cities), hits France, Italy, Greece and Turkey before heading back to Italy where it ends in Venice. Kind of a European sampler platter, and a great way to visit a lot of cities for a low cost. Because we're managing costs by cruise ship, we can afford to tack on a couple of days in Barcelona at the beginning and a couple more in Paris at the end. I'm super excited and already working on getting my Gluten Free resources together in several different languages. I can communicate my needs in English and Spanish, (and one Italian phrase - io sono celiaco) but that's about it.

Okay... back to China. Because Jason's parents are moving to China with Disney for a few years, we're moving into the family home in Florida. Incidentally, we're looking for jobs as well - so if you have any photography or performing arts connections in Orlando, please send them my way.

The adventure is by no means over - we're committing to getting out of Orlando one weekend a month and doing something - booking a cheap trip to an island in the Caribbean, hopping up to Atlanta, going to the Keys. Something.

And I think we're both really looking forward to not living out of suitcases anymore. For the past year and a half I've been calling us turtles - hauling our homes around with us on our backs. It will be nice to know that we don't have to pack everything up again in two months to drive across the country.

But will we miss Wyoming? Certainly. Will me miss this kind of freedom and simple lifestyle? Heck, yes. And will we always be grateful for this time together, out in wilds of Wyoming, just us and the dog? Absolutely. We wouldn't trade it for anything.

We certainly haven't checked out of our time here - we're living each day and enjoying as much as we can. But the time has come to start to face forward, and that's what we're doing.

Getting ready for the next adventure.

Because that's what it is - a great adventure.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Into the Nuthouse

This ranch has been a nuthouse.

We have had nonstop guests since just after the 4th of July. I'm not kidding, folks. Our guests have come in early (surprise!) and stayed late (surprise again!) making this 24 hour period I'm in right now the first guest free time we've had in more than a month.

As a staff, we're exhausted. There's been so much happening around here. 2 1/2 weeks ago, our chef got fired. For a week, we traded off cooking meals for staff and guests alike while they looked for a new one. Jason and I took on the major bulk of cooking (since we make such a good team), but let me tell you... I was so excited to see our new Chef arrive.

She's awesome. Yes... she. Totally down to earth, hard worker, makes great food that Jason swears has crack in it it's so addictive, and doesn't have any of the ego issues that you find in many (generalization here - don't jump down my back!) male chefs. Also, she's been feeding rockstars on tour forever (her first personal chef gig was for Ozzy Osbourne) so she's used to demands and interesting personalities. It's tough to ruffle her feathers. Which is GREAT around here. So... THANK YOU for joining us at the Hawkeye, Chef Ashley! I am so grateful you're here!

What else? After every 14 hour workday, Jason and I have been joining the guests in the movie theatre for Olympics viewing. Which has made us even more exhausted. But... the Summer Olympics only come every four years, so we are fighting through the exhaustion to cheer on Team USA. And of course, we were rooting for Michael Phelps and Misty and Kerry - whom it seems we've been cheering on forever!

Our next group comes in tomorrow - a couple of really nice guys who were here last summer and will be joining Jason on the pack trip that leaves on Monday morning.

Super excited for the men to leave on the pack trip - it means three days of peace and quiet and sleep and reading and time off here on the ranch. I'm booking a massage. :) I'll miss Jason, but man.... I'm so ready for some downtime. And besides - he'll be way deep in the back country, shooting some new amazing photographs. Can't wait to see what he comes home with.

So now you know why I'm tired and this blog has been so quiet. A guest flooded the laundry room yesterday and told me there was only a little water on the floor. When I walked in and found the flood, I cursed like a sailor and then started sobbing. Eventually I got it together and cleaned it up. But not until my emotional tide had ebbed. First time I've cried all summer - a major improvement over last year.

Still... this is an amazing place to live and work. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that several times a day. Especially when it's a nuthouse.

I can't wait for a whole day off!