Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend "Trail Mix"

The T-shirt that my sister recently gave me recently effectively sums up Memorial Day weekend for the Teton Lanes: "Trail Mix." Some friends' wedding and uncertain weather kept us close to Jackson, but we made the most of it! 

When summer comes along, life gets hard. For instance, what are you going to do after work? Go fishing or climbing? What are you going to do this weekend? Go running, backpacking, mountain biking, or camping? Tough decisions to be made, for sure.* 

So what do you do when the weather turns out nice and you have a 3 day weekend to get out and enjoy it all? You do it all of course! A proverbial Trail Mix, as I am going to call it from now on. Here's a rundown of the weekend along with pictures to prove it.

After work Friday we enjoyed a nice leisurely hike up Adam's Canyon, a very steep trail system that rises up the hills just to the east of our house. Takes us about 5 minutes to pile in the car with the dog and arrive at the trailhead. This hike's bonus: spotting a chocolate lily near the bottom!

Saturday morning we rode our bikes into town for the Memorial Day Parade. After enjoying the usual allotment of firetrucks, sled dogs, old-timey cars, and Shriners clowns we moseyed down the street for our "once in a blue moon" downtown Jackson shopping trip. We found ourselves in the Browse n'Buy Thrift store where we scored a gem: an unopened package containing a door-frame pull-bar for $5! With some modifications, it will find new life as an indoor hang-board (for climbing training). Trucking it home was an adventure! 

To keep the activity levels up, we got out for a run at a local trail system not far from our house.  Back in time to clean up for the wedding...

I love weddings and the one on Saturday night was a real treat. A great ceremony, great food, awesome friends, and exciting dancing all to celebrate a pretty awesome couple. Wait, I hope you knew I meant our friends who got married, not us…
The weather on Sunday was glorious and we took advantage of the sunshine to ride our bikes north of town into Grand Teton National Park. My watch said our out-and-back adventure was 31 miles: more than either of us have ridden in a really long time. Needless to say, we needed some DQ nourishment post-ride.**
We packed up the camper van (a work in progress that I shall write about in the future) and headed for the hills on Sunday night. We had mountain bikes, climbing gear, and guns. Yes, we might have gotten a little red-neck on Monday morning… 

Mountain biking at the Munger trail system was pristine and the trails are in really great shape now. Later in the year we've found the grasses get over grown enough that it is difficult to see the trail. We rode a quick loop up Poison Creek and down Squaw Creek (Alli thought the descent down Tusky Ridge was a great alternative, though there are plenty of roots to avoid). 

And we polished off the day with some climbs at the Rodeo: Rodeo Queen (5.8) and Louise (5.9+), both on Snake River Canyon limestone formations above Highway 89.

All in all an awesome weekend that brought rest and recharged us for the work week to come. And the best thing about 3 day weekends: 4 day work weeks to follow!

*I may enjoy winter more than summer if only for this reason: the question is not, "Do we go skiing today?" it's "Where are we going skiing today?" Life is much simpler in some respects when snow covers everything… :)
**Blizzards at DQ will forever hold a place in my heart. My best friend in college and I would stop and grab blizzards after rock climbing to bask in the glow of the day's earlier events. That's easy when you are climbing in west Texas and the definition of a town in Texas seems to be a Post Office, a Church of Christ, and a DQ! Thankfully they are prevalent enough that we get to enjoy them in Wyoming as well. 

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Garage Facelift

We like our house here in Jackson. Other than being able to afford it (our monthly rent is very reasonable by Jackson standards), it's all about location, location, location: quiet neighborhood, a walking path to spend time with our dog, removed from the hustle and bustle of town*, and a bike path from our house all the way into town (about 3-4 miles). It's the second house that we have lived in since moving from Montana and we plan to stay here a long time. We feel very blessed to be here.

Again, we like our house. But we LOVE our garage! This is the crown jewel our our little unit and it's where a lot of the "magic" of our lives happens. Our garage is part-work out facility, part-ski shop, part-bike shop, part-wood shop, part-… well, you get the picture. We love spending time in our garage tinkering and building and prepping for all our outdoor adventures.

Left side "before picture". 
Right side "before picture". Alli is just starting to demo the wall.
This spring we had a mission to make overhaul it to make it even better!** The goal was to take out a wall that created a sort of large storage closet, essentially opening up the whole area. We knew that we would lose some wall space to hang stuff, but would also get rid of some awkward areas. Overall an upgrade. We finally got it done a couple weeks ago and thought we would share some pictures of the process.
Final step after the overhaul: cleaning with our
new shop-vac. 
Two thumbs way, way up for being finished! 
This is where most of the "magic" happens: the Work Bench. 
Skis and bikes and fishing gear: Oh my!
We had a ton of fun building shelves and thinking through how best to store our gear/tools. The process sort of has to happen organically since we didn't really to have the ability to map it all out in advance. We just had to get done as quick as we could make it happen. It's stressful having all of you stuff in a pile in the middle of the garage floor!  But I think we found a really good balance between having things out of the way and yet still accessible and ready to grab for the next adventure.

So, go out there and do some of your own tinkering. Here's to many more hours spent in garages!

*I know, I know. "Hustle and bustle" in small-town Jackson is nothing compared to where most people in the US live but you get comfortable with a certain norm. NYC would probably give me an anxiety attack. This might be the genesis for a future blog post about people complaining about traffic in Jackson...

**This comment is for my mom who, when hearing that we were going to reorganize/rearrange our garage, said something like, "Why? Your garage is so nice already. How could you ever change it to make it better?"

Sunday, May 22, 2016

To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question…?

The blogging world and I have not gotten along so well in the recent past and it's now been a year since I posted anything. Blogging has been on my list of goals for 2016, but took a proverbial "back seat" while I focussed on other things, including passing the PE exam. BUT never fear, we're going to dust the cobwebs off the keyboard, roll up our sleeves, and dive back in. Why? Because I got a little kick in the pants by a recent podcast.

Michael Hyatt, the voice on platform building and intentional leadership, recently published a podcast episode entitled "10 Reasons Every Leader Needs a Blog". Although I'd encourage you to listen to the podcast or read the transcript because the list is very thorough, it doesn't directly apply to this blog as it's not really a platform that I wish to necessarily influence people or lead an industry. However, several of the list including "Improve Your Communication Skills" and "Create a Repository for your Best Ideas" do apply and got me thinking about why I blog.

The list below is a brief brainstorm on the reasons this blog exists in ascending order of importance:

  1. Provide a place to share photos and stories of our life in Jackson Hole with family and friends
  2. Synthesize my thoughts and reactions to the "inputs" of life (podcasts, books, movies, etc.) into coherent "output"
  3. Improve my communication skills (thanks Michael)
  4. Publish creative thoughts and ideas for building things or "life hacks"
  5. Discuss "life philosophy" on topics such as faith, money, politics, and science

Certainly not an exhaustive list, but enough to get this thing started. Perhaps the biggest reason for throwing this out on the web is for motivational purposes, to remind me why typing up trip reports and writing down ideas is worth the time and effort it takes to put them from my head down on "paper."