Turning 50 was a bit of a surprise. As in, “Baby, pack a bag!”

I still have trouble believing this happened to me.

On March 4, we had just pulled into our RV site near Marrietta, GA — where I thought we’d be spending my birthday week — when Tim handed me a card.

I did as I was told, and packed the suggested items into my suitcase.
And it took me about an hour to make the attitude shift from control freak clenchy, “Oh shit. I am not in charge of this trip,” to realizing that I’d been given the gift of a burden lifted.
I was not in charge of this trip!

Our first stop was a hotel near the Atlanta airport, so I kind of knew we were flying somewhere the next morning, but he wouldn’t tell me where — or actually even admit that we were flying, not driving, to our destination.

My suspicions were confirmed. As we waited to board our 5:00 a.m. shuttle bus to ATL, Tim handed me my passport. The plot seriously thickened.

We checked in at the domestic terminal, and I obediently used my passport as ID, even though I thought we probably should have gone to International Departures. But remember, I was not in charge.

Then we headed to security, and Tim (who rarely bothers to read directional signs) got in the line designated for Sky Priority passengers. The hell???

“Um… Honey? We don’t even qualify as priority travelers on the road. This is not our line.”

“It is this time,” he said. “We’re flying first class.”

I made a squealing noise that I’m pretty sure only dogs could hear. I’d never flown first class! And that may have come up a time or two over the course of our marriage. Cough cough.

Spill it, sister. WHERE TO?

It was only when we checked in at the priority lounge that I learned that the passports were but a ruse. “Pre-boarding for your flight begins in about 30 minutes,” the attendant said. “Enjoy your trip to Hawaii.”

OMG. Hawaii??? We’re going to Hawaii???

I didn’t make the squealing noise again. I couldn’t. I’d lost my breath.

Hawaii had been a running joke between us for decades, each and every time we were asked if we’d been there. Tim had visited dozens of times — once as a child on a family vacation, and several times in his years of active duty as a Navy officer. But I’d never been there. He’d even spent our anniversary there once. But I’d never been there.

So this. was. huge.

We were in the priority lounge, it was not quite 6 a.m., and I’d just learned where we were going.
The details he managed to keep secret!
The multiple little white lies and deceptions it took to keep me in the dark!

But… hasn’t he done this before?

Yep. Some of our friends and family might remember that Tim also pulled off big surprises on my 30th and 40th birthdays, and are now wondering why I didn’t detect the pattern and see this one coming.

Short answer: I no longer needed the escape. 

In 1999, I was a stay-at-home mommy to a toddler and a preschooler. I needed an escape. So the man hired a limo — which he’d secretly won at a silent auction we’d both attended — to take us around the Baltimore-Annapolis area for a grand evening out. I was so clueless, that when it pulled up, I said, “Oooh, the people across the street must be going somewhere fancy tonight!” Duh.

In 2009, I was juggling two part-time jobs in Norfolk, VA, while also wrangling the needs of a tween and a teenager. I needed an escape. So the man flew my mother in (I thought that was the surprise), threw a dinner party in our home (then I thought that was the surprise), and presented me with two tickets for a weeklong trip to The Bahamas. That was the surprise and the reason my mother was there. She kept the boys! 

But now, in 2019, we live simply, we travel where we want to, we work when we want to, and the boys are grown and flown. I really didn’t need an escape from this reality, nor was I expecting one. At all. Especially not one this freakin’ big!

And when you got there?

Here’s one of my favorite parts: When Tim planned this 10-day trip, the only arrangements he booked in advance were our round trip airfare between the mainland and Honolulu, and our first two nights of lodging. That’s it.

He wanted me to be able to point at a map or guidebook and say, “Let’s go there!,” even if that meant flying to another island. Which we did.

There were times when we didn’t know where we’d be sleeping that night, where our next meal was coming from, or where we could do a load of laundry.

Luckily, the thrill of uncertainty has a way of nourishing my spirit, so I was okay with all of that. Our lodging ended up spanning a wide variety of options: 2 airport hotels, 1 luxury military resort, 1 no-frills military campground, and 1 Airbnb.

And that is how “Emily’s Hawaii 5-0” happened. Here are a few of the pics, in roughly chronological order.

First stop, the island of Oahu, where we stayed at the Hale Koa resort, visited the USS Arizona Memorial
… climbed to the top of the Diamond Head Crater
… enjoyed poke in several forms …
… and attended a luau, at which Glen Madeiros was the host (yes, the “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You” guy from the 80’s).
He asked all those celebrating March birthdays to stand, and that is how that Glenn Madeiros ended up singing Happy Birthday to me this year.

On the 4th day, we flew to the Big Island, where we rented a car so that we could see as much of it as possible.

We spent two nights at the Kiluea Military Camp, inside Volcanoes National Park
… and we spent a full day exploring it.
Parts of the park are still closed (or just gone) after last year’s eruption and earthquakes. We were told that this view of the Kilauea crater is vastly different than it was prior to May of 2018.
At the time of our visit, there was no moving (molten) lava on the island. The solidified stuff is still pretty cool, though. No pun intended.
We stared at this marvel too.
We then headed southward toward the tip of the island, and took in a tour of a coffee plantation
… admired the sea turtles on the black sand beach at Punalu’u …
Bloop!
… and made the unpleasant 5-mile round trip hike in high winds and blasting sand just to set foot on …
… one of only four green sand beaches in the world.
Oh, and Tim stood at what his GPS indicated was the southernmost point of the island, which makes it the southernmost point in the US. It’s unmarked, but a short hike from the end of the aptly named South Point Road will get you there.
From there, we went to our Airbnb rental in Kona. It came with a dog!
We later hiked down to the Pololu Valley and beach
And also spent some time just lying on a beach and playing in the waves. A sea turtle swam with us. I may need a new tattoo…
And then there were the sunsets. Ooooh, the sunsets.

And now for the bad news: Honey, I’ve found where I want to live. Mahalo!


Author’s note: This is my first post using the newly and extensively upgraded version of our blogging platform, so things might not work like they used to for you, any more than they did for me. If you take the time to let me know of any issues, I promise I’ll do my part to figure out how to fix them.

WheRVe we been? Our travels, 4th quarter 2018

Well, we certainly didn’t put on the miles like we did in the 3rd quarter, but I’m writing this post from an entirely different 5th wheel than the one we started in, and there were lots of cows and puppies!

Due to commitments both expected (medical appointments, construction work on a friend’s ranch) and unexpected (buying a new RV!), we mostly made Texas triangles between San Antonio, Houston and Palestine, with a quick zip across I-10 during the final week of 2018.

We arrived in Texas in mid-September and stayed there, which, combined with our first quarter of the year, makes 2018 The Year We Spent More Than Half our Time in the Lone Star State In Spite of Ourselves.

Here’s a summary of our 4th quarter travels, mapped with a little help from Google.

RV miles traveled this quarter: about 2590.

We went from San Antonio to Houston to Palestine, and around again twice more, with brief side trips to Kerrville, Medina Lake, and Granger Lake.
Then we took off two days after Christmas to ring in the new year with friends in Florida.

San Antonio, Sept 16 – Oct 29: A funny thing happened while we sat at Lackland Air Force Base, juggling medical appointments. Enough things finally went wrong with The Toad that we decided to throw in the towel and start shopping in earnest for a new RV — a process that was neither quick nor painless. We spent hours talking, agonizing, losing sleep and making lists of pros & cons before pulling the trigger.

It sort of started with a moisture leak that caused a mushroom to grow out of a corner in our living room.
Tim fixed the leak, then gutted and replaced the wall. And since we too had begun to feel gutted, by the never-ending repairs to our 10-year-old 5th wheel, we chose to move on.
And speaking of moving, I took up running in 2018, and completed my first 10K in September. My daddy and my husband ran it with me. That made me smile.

We ended up making three trips over six weeks to the Houston area, braving its infuriating spaghetti mix of highway interchanges, to buy the RV.
First look – 10/10
Thorough inspection – 10/30
Gotcha Day – 11/29
You’ll find more details about our 2018 Mobile Suites 38KSSB in this post.

Some upgrades we’re enjoying in the new RV
– a cozy electric fireplace
– an automatic dishwasher
– a residential fridge (no more 8 cubic feet of refrigerator tetris!)
– a hall closet for Tim’s computer command & control center
That closet was intended to be a laundry room, and you can just see the washer hookups there behind our printer. We opted against installing a W/D. Why would I want to give up my regular opportunities to collect Tales From The Laundromat?

One of the benefits of being in central Texas when we need muscle, is that we can usually convince our younger son (left) to make a trip from Austin to help out.
For this job, swapping out our pin box, he brought a friend.
And those boys were quite willing to cooperate, especially knowing that gas money and a BBQ lunch were part of their compensation package.

November & December: Palestine, Castroville, Medina Lake, and Granger Lake, TX; Mandeville, LA; Pensacola, FL

In November, we added a new experience to our RV lifestyle: ranchdocking.
It’s like moochdocking, but on a friend’s ranch.
We can plug ourselves into a 50-amp outlet in the garage, and fill our fresh water tank from a spigot on the ranch house, but we’ve got no sewer hookup. Stays are limited to 7-8 days before we need to go dump, but the rent is free and the views are fantastic!

We were at the ranch because back in the spring, Tim helped take down the owner’s historic log barn at its old site in Boerne, and move it in pieces to its new home in Palestine. This past fall, it was time to start putting things back together.
The original barn was built in the mid-1800’s. That’s it in the top left photo, prior to its disassembly in March.
While Tim reassembled the Lincoln Logs, I got to know some of the furrier residents of the ranch. A litter of puppies was born in November, and I snuck in daily snuggles.

People We Love!
– Lunch in Castroville with Dan & Lisa of Always on Liberty and Sean & Julie of Chickery’s Travels
– Early December shenanigans at Medina Lake with David & Cheryl of Landmark Adventures, hyping the book written by our mutual friends, Marc & Julie of RVLove.
– A quiet Christmas with our younger son at a Corps of Engineers park just outside Austin
– A wine infused overnight with old Navy friends in Louisiana, on our way to Florida. I was over-served!

We watched the sun set on 2018 in Pensacola, and spent the first few days of 2019 there.
Our friends, Jay & Kris, have a home just northwest of town, and we moochdocked in their driveway in return for some sweat equity on household projects.
And it’s one of Jay’s cousins who owns the ranch, so we’ve definitely felt like part of the family this year!

Right now: We’re back on the ranch for our third stay. This time, Tim’s leading the charge on installing the tin roof.

Barn progress as of January 9, 2019

And look who was waiting to play with me when we returned!

Where to next? By mid-January, we’ll start making our way northward to Indiana, for our February warranty appointment at the DRV manufacturing facility in Howe. After that, we’ve got the annual RVE Summit on the calendar for March, and we’ll be back in Texas by late April. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go!


We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

3Q 2018    2Q 2018    1Q 2018    4Q 2017    3Q 2017    2Q 2017    1Q2017   2016

WheRVe we been? Our travels, 3rd quarter 2018

It was summertime, and the living was busy, and holy hell did we put on some miles. We really need to stop saying things like, “Sure! We can be there by Tuesday.” Somebody please slap the truck keys out of our hands next time we do.

Here’s a summary of our 3rd quarter travels, mapped with a little help from Google.

RV miles traveled this quarter: about 5711.

Our starting point in July was Coeur d’Alene, ID.
From there, we headed east across MT and ND to MN, then back to Coeur d’Alene via SD.
After that, we spent a little over a month traveling around western WA, and concluded with a cannonball run back to Texas.
(Actual route varied. Source: maps.google.com)

Coeur d’Alene, ID, June 22 – July 7, and July 22-31: The third quarter began where the second ended, and was interrupted by a two-week jaunt to Minnesota and back (coming up next). While in CDA, which is where Tim’s family lived for a few years in the 1980’s, we spent a lot of time doing outdoorsy stuff with family and friends, to take advantage of the area’s lakes, mountains and rivers. One of Tim’s old high school buddies owns all the best toys, and he treated us to both 4-wheeling and kayaking!

– Biking the 15-mile Route of the Hiawatha
– That day one 4-wheeler, 1 dune buggy, and 3 adults got covered in what felt like all the dirt in Idaho
– A much cleaner day, renting a pontoon on Lake CDA (photo by Tim’s dad)
– And another day on the lake, this time in kayaks

Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota & Wisconsin, July 7-22: Tim’s got a cousin in the Minneapolis area. We’d made tentative plans to visit last year, but for one reason or another, we didn’t follow through. So this year, we committed to making it happen. Granted, MN isn’t really right around the corner from ID, but at 1300 miles, it was as close as we were going to get in 2018, so off we went on Mad Dash 1. Cousin David made it well worth the time and expense by taking a few days off from work to serve as our tour guide, and even helped Tim fix… ugh, I’ve already forgotten, so… whatever the hell was broken on the RV or truck that week.

We covered a lot of ground.
– Went down the WI side of the Mississippi River, and back up the MN side, stopping to explore along the way
– Visited another one of Tim’s old hometowns, the charming Prescott, WI
– Drove up to Duluth and took in Gooseberry Falls and the historic Split Rock Light House

On the way to MN and back, we
– Ran under a rainbow in North Dakota
– Dropped in on the cabin Tim built as a teenager in Montana
– Paid our respects at Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument in MT
– Spent our 26th anniversary hiking at Custer State Park in SD, including a trail that offered a distant view of the backside of Mt. Rushmore. (No butts. I was disappointed.)

Western WA, Aug. 1 – Sept. 1: Despite having spent most of April, May and June in Washington, there were still more things we wanted to do and people we wanted to see there, so we went back! Ahhh, freedom. We started with a show of Tim’s father’s photography at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op in Mount Vernon, then skipped from fairgrounds parking in Enumclaw, to golf course parking in Chehalis, to a private RV park in Hoquiam, and managed to squeeze in not one, not two, but three backpacking trips — one from each location. Wild blackberries were at their peak, and I could not turn down all that free dessert, so do not judge the amount I’ve still got stashed in my freezer. Come on over, and I’ll make you a cobbler. Maybe two.

– The work of Doug Rohrer, photographer, and co-op artist of the month for August 2018
– I only picked 7 or 8 quarts, but only because our freezer is so damn small
– Stared in awe at Mount Saint Helens, and we highly recommend a trip through the exhibits at the Johnston Ridge Observatory (photo by kind stranger who said we looked very picturesque sitting there)

One of the reasons I decided to give backpacking a try was to be able to see places that can be accessed only by long-distance hiking.
We hiked 13.5 miles to get to this scene: the Enchanted Valley Chalet in Olympic National Park.
Worth it.

Port Townsend, WA, Sept. 1-8: A big draw for Tim, the annual wooden boat festival, opened on Sept. 7. But we needed to be in Austin, TX — 2200 miles away — by Sept. 13. Our older son and his girl live in Port Townsend, so we’d get to hug them again, and we’d also gain the chance to see some Navy friends who’d just moved back from Germany, if we could just. make it. work. To make a long story very short: where there are wheels, there’s a way. We just had to spend some really long days on the road.

– The Steamer Virginia V, photographed because we once lived in VA, and because our son, who is a licensed captain and festival volunteer, got to drive her!
– Father, son, and sailboat bonding
– Please note that my headband, by Tavel Designs, has little sailboats on it. I’m so nauti!
– Our boy and his girl
– Military family friendships endure through miles and years of separation. The last time all of us were together, the three “kids” in front were a second grader, a preschooler, and a toddler.
Heart: full

And then we made Mad Dash 2, from WA to TX in four days.
Although I don’t recommend it, and I hope we never again make choices that would cause us to repeat it, I will say that we prepared well, and that enabled us to handle the trip well.
And by prepared, I mean we stocked up on healthy, easy-to-grab road foods; we were honest about when we needed to stop for breaks; we treated ourselves to one restaurant meal per day; we shared the driving, and set reasonable limits; and we steeled ourselves mentally and emotionally beforehand for 4 days that just wouldn’t be much fun.
(Source: Apple Maps)

But we’ve had a lot of fun since our arrival!
– Snarfed more than the recommended daily allowance of breakfast tacos.
– Made a trip to the beach, where we met my brother’s family‘s newest kitten
– Put our arms around our younger son and took the “starving” college student out to dinner
– enjoyed a happy hour that turned into six hours of food and fun with our friends, Marc & Julie of RV Love (photo by my mom)
Also, we’ve both been poked, prodded and prescribed during our twice annual round of medical visits here in San Antonio. All is well, and we are grateful.

We just don’t get views like this here, though. Washington’s waterways win.

Where to next? Ummmm, not sure yet! The roads are as wide open as our calendar, from late October until next spring, when we’ll return to Texas for more family time, more medical appointments, and two big graduations. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter for updates as we go!


We started full-timing in August of 2015, but I didn’t think to do an annual review until the end of 2016, and it was just a listing on Facebook of places we’d visited. After that, I started using a quarterly format.

2Q 2018     1Q 2018      4Q 2017        3Q 2017        2Q 2017        1Q2017        2016

I was not bare in bed, but a bear sure came *near* my bed!

“Remember now. What’s the first thing you do if you see a bear on the trail?”

“Take its picture!”

It’s a silly little ha-ha routine we do each time one of us goes hiking without the other, and it never gets old, because we are total derps.

But when it finally happened, we were on a backpacking trip together, and the photo came second. Maybe even third.

I’d just crawled into the tent and zipped myself snugly into my sleeping bag, while Tim was still outside buttoning down our campsite for the night.

Thump. Whump.

The noise came from the brush about 40 feet from our tent, and Tim walked toward it to investigate.

The perpetrator had gone at a large tree stump, probably in search of grubs.  Tim locked eyes with him for a hot second, then turned toward me and said, “It’s a bear!” And that was enough commotion to make the bear rethink his position, so he started moving away at a pretty good clip, which is when Tim finally followed directions, and took a picture.

A bear!
For real, y’all.

No, we do not know for sure that the bear was male. We based our assumption on information we were given at the ranger’s station when we registered for our camping permit that morning. There’d been reports of a mama bear and two cubs in the area, as well as a lone juvenile male. Guessing ours was the latter.

So that’s the introduction to our most recent backpacking trip, August 27-29, in Olympic National Park. Of the three we’ve completed this month, this one offered the most jaw-dropping scenery, and the most wildlife sightings too!

Let’s go.

(Source: Google Maps)

Day 1: Orange path from Graves Creek Trailhead (A) to Enchanted Valley (B)
Day 2: Pink path from B to C and back
Day 3: Green path from B to A
Total mileage: about 40 (As usual, Tim’s app differed from my app, and the trail map gave us yet a third total, so we’ve guesstimated. Next time, maybe we’ll go old school and use our pedometers.) 
Read this for a thorough description of the trail between A & B.

There are camping areas along the way to Enchanted Valley, but we chose to hike it all in one go, and even went beyond the 13.5-mile mark to find our home for the next two nights.

Along the way, we saw a herd of elk…

… and several Sooty Grouse.
Wow, it’s a wonder these birds have survived. They are slow and they seem kind of dumb, and I think a person with a quick arm could probably just reach out and grab one.
Anyone who brags about hunting them really has nothing to brag about!

If a tree falls in the forest, and your husband stands in front of it, does it still… OMG look at the size of that tree!

We’d hiked more than 13 miles, I was exhausted and hungry and had lost faith that we were ever going get there.
And then we stepped out of the thickest part of the forest and realized immediately why it’s called Enchanted Valley.

This chalet was built in the 1930’s, and has served as a travelers’ hostel, a WWII aircraft warning station, a ranger’s station, and a hikers’ shelter. In 2014 the chalet was moved 100 feet from the rapidly encroaching Quinault River as an effort to save it from destruction, and it has been closed to the public. Its future is in doubt.
The most recent official document I could find on the subject is here.

We set up camp here. See our green tent there on the left? And Tim sitting against a rock, wearing his black jacket?

Our water source, the Quinault River

My peaceful view, just before bedtime. Which was bear time!

On Day 2, we hiked out of the valley and up toward O’Neill Pass.
That’s the face I make when there’s a lot of up.

But lots of up usually pays off in views like this…

… and this. The feet are mine. The snow patch is what remains of Anderson Glacier.

And look at me rocking the crossings this time!
(I had to crawl across one last time.)

 

We put in almost as many miles in two days as we’d put in over three days on our prior trips, and we still had about 15 miles to go the next day, so I spent some time with my feet up.
Way up.

Tried to work a little Ansel Adams magic with the trees.
Guessing my way’s easier than his was.
Click. Tap. Done.

Sunrise on our final morning, as we were breaking camp

As we were heading out, this team of pack mules was heading in.
The ranger was on her way to help a field crew of 5 Washington Conservation Corps workers pack out of the Valley.
We’d spoken to one of those kids the day before; they’d been doing trail maintenance for 6 months as part of their AmeriCorps service.

One last look back, hoping that someday we’ll go back.


Descriptions of our other two Washington backpacking adventures:

Where there’s fire, there’s smoke. A *lot* of smoke.

This week it was time for my second backpacking trip, another 2-night 3-day adventure.

Did you miss the first one? It had a regrettable ending, but hey, the photos were great!

Despite knowing that Western Washington would be congested with wildfire smoke during our outing, and that it would worsen each day, we opted to go anyway, knowing that if we waited for the perfect circumstances, we’d miss our window entirely. In only two more weeks, we’ve got to head back to Texas for our usual autumn round of visits.

We were hoping that we’d have cleaner air and better visibility once we got some elevation beneath us in the Mount Adams Wilderness, but as you’ll see below, that was not the case.

Mount Adams is right there. Get yourself about halfway between Portland and Seattle, then head east.

Day 1: Orange path from A to B
Day 2: Pink path from B to a point just west of The Hump, then back up to C
Day 3: Green path from C to A
Total mileage: 28.5

Point A: Killen Creek Trailhead, which we found after winding our way over a ridiculous number of bumpy forest service roads. The road that provided the most direct route was closed for construction, so we had to take a very elaborate detour.

The 12,280-foot peak of Mount Adams is right behind us, I swear.
The trail we were on was at about 6,000 feet, so it should have been imposingly visible.
Damn wildfire smoke.

Oh, there it is!
The air cleared just enough for a shadowy glimpse on our first evening.
The following two days? Not so much.

Campsite #1

Sunrise through the smoke, on Day 2

We filter our drinking and cooking water from clear, running streams.
Remember this for comparison.

This is a rushing river of glacial run-off, and you can see that it’s full of dirt particles and who knows what-all else that makes it murky. We could filter it and drink it if we had to, but… ew.

And after the river, an immense boulder field.
Wow, Mother Nature.

Evidence of death; evidence of new life

A hiking hippie chick showed me that wild blueberries were growing right next to the trail.
I ate about a dozen, and they were the blueberriest blueberries I’ve ever tasted!
Also? I have a feeling that hiking hippie chick could have shown me many other things I’ve never tried.

At the end of Day 2, I needed a rinse.
(OK, what I really needed was a hot bath with lots and lots of soap.)
This was yet another creek full of glacial runoff, but truth be told it was cleaner than I was, so I gave myself a quick splash-n-suds to the most offensive bits, and called it good enough.

And then I hung my clothes up to get some fresh air, convincing myself that the pines loved this chance to feel like Christmas trees.

A tale of two river crossings:
On Day 2, heading south, I crossed slowly, but upright until the very end, when I had to lean forward and brace myself with my hands for a few steps.
On Day 3, heading back northward, I lost my mojo. I knew I had to get across. I also knew that my confidence in my ability to maintain my balance was low.
So I got low.
And Tim — the only person around who could have helped me if I’d gone in the drink — made sure there was evidence. My hero.

We met this guy, trail name “Lost,” on Day 2. He’d been hiking the Pacific Crest Trail northbound since the end of March, from its start at the CA-Mexico border.
And he’d had enough of walking in smoke, which has been horrible for PCT hikers this season, ruining their views and clogging their lungs from northern California, all the way through Oregon and Washington. That’s about 1500 trail miles of misery, y’all.
In fact, parts of the trail have been closed, including the final stretch to the northern terminus.
We encountered many dejected northbound thru-hikers, trudging onward, knowing they will likely not be able to complete their journey the way they’d hoped.
“Lost” — who has also thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail and Camino de Santiago — was looking for a way to get off the trail and re-evaluate his options.
We told him we’d be heading back toward civilization the next day, and would happily give him a lift if he wanted to meet us at the trailhead where we’d parked the BFT.
He took us up on the offer, and even beat us to the parking lot the next morning!
And that’s when we learned that he’s also an Army veteran, wounded twice in combat (legs shattered by a suicide bomber; shot in the head) and medically retired after 10 years of service. #Hero
We know he’ll be just fine, and we’ll be following his Instagram just to make sure.

That would have been a perfect place to close… but then I rediscovered this hilarious evidence of my own hiking history.

Come with me back to 1979, for a rainy hike along the C&O canal with my Girl Scout troop in Frostburg, MD. My mom thought to take before and after photos, and look at my face.

The quality of my outdoor gear and attire has definitely changed for the better, but I still make that hopeful “Off we go” face when we set off, and the “Poor, pitiful me” one after a long or stressful venture.

Ah, the 1970’s.
That track suit was pure polyester, the canteen made whatever was in it taste like metal, and let’s not even speculate about my backpack and shoes. I’ve got way better gear now!

Coming up next: We’re relocating to the Olympic Peninsula today, and we hope to squeeze in one more (less smoky) backpacking trip in Olympic National Park before we point our nose back to Texas.


Descriptions of our other two Washington backpacking adventures: