lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

The Power of OZ May 23, 2016

The Wizard of Oz has been a strangely important part of my theatrical career. I know, there’s a yellow brick road; it’s not exactly Shakespeare, but still. The Wizard of Oz was the very first show that I was ever in. I was the tiniest munchkin in OZ. At the ripe old age of four-and-a-half, I was still mature enough to be the head munchkin behind my plywood bush. It was my job to make sure the other munchkins popped their little heads up when Glinda sang. That show affirmed that I really did want to be a professional performer. A career goal that never once wavered.

The second time I did the show, I was the tallest munchkin in OZ. Yep, I was twenty-five, and I spent my time skipping in a circle. I was grateful for the job, believe me! But it wasn’t enough to hold my full attention. So, I began writing in earnest, working on a story of a boy waiting in a window that would eventually become The Tethering.

This summer I am returning to OZ, this time as the Wicked Witch of the West! I am super excited to scare small children into peeing their pants. But there are a few things I’m worried about. (more…)

 

A Mewing in the Night March 12, 2016

I want a kitten. I know I’ve said it a million times before, but damn I want a kitten. I want a kitten who will run up and greet me when I come home, snuggle with me when content edits become too much, and do funny things that will provide blog material for years to come.

Every time I get to the part where I want my cat to run up and greet me, I always get confused stares and, “I think you mean you want a dog. Dogs run up to greet you.”

But I had three cats when I was growing up. Three amazing cats we bottle-fed as kittens. They were indoor/outdoor cats, and when they heard the distinctive rattle of my mother’s car, they would come running to the driveway, weave in and of our legs as we tried to get to the door, and stare at us until we either sat down to cuddle them or fed them.

They would come when we called them, and always wanted attention. They were the best cats ever. And I know finding a cat as loving and amazing as those three were would be neigh on impossible. But that doesn’t stop me from wanting to try.

I’ve been known to ugly cry over cute kittens. Open-mouth ugly cry over Facebook videos of kittens.

But I think I hit a new low a few nights ago. (more…)

 

Stuck Between a Bear and Some Sharp Teeth August 20, 2015

So… Megan and I (yeah, she’s letting me write this one. She’s afraid it’ll get blown even more out of proportion by her than it was by the fact that it actually freakin’ happened!) took a hike in the park yesterday. We went early, which is why we’re posting today as opposed to the regularly scheduled Wednesday post. Anyway, we decided that we wanted to hike Cathedral Mountain again. Do you remember that one? That’s where I half-ran after the retreating caribou last year, trying to capture the perfect shot, which eluded me despite my attempts. Have we not told you that story? We’ll save that for another time.

Well, this time, the creek that you have to cross before you get to the actual social trail around the mountain was too high to cross without submerging our hiking boots in freezing cold water (keep in mind that most rivers and streams in Denali are glacially fed, so I mean freezing). We tried for about an hour to find a way to cross, but it was to no avail. So, dejected, we decided to head up to Park Road and decide what to do from there. We had heard that hiking along the actual Park Road was supposed to be lovely, so we chose to hike back towards the park entrance along the narrow dirt road.

We were actually having a lovely time for a while. Seeing the park from that perspective was fascinating. We heard the rumbling of a bus far behind us and turned to see it, stopped with its flashers on, in the spot we had been not five minutes ago.

“What are they looking at?” Megan asked.

We both searched for a few seconds before she spotted this:

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You may have to click on the image and zoom in to see what we were seeing.

I took that photo and zoomed in to see a four-legged canine-looking creature. We were certain that a wolf had just wandered onto the road, and it was walking toward us. We decided it was time to keep heading east toward the park entrance.

We walked along for another ten minutes or so, looking behind frequently to see where the wolf had gone, and then we saw more buses stopped, this time ahead of us.

“What now?” I asked, feeling more than a little apprehensive.

And then we saw it. Less than 200 yards away from us, a grizzly was foraging for berries on the mountain that we had just tried to circumnavigate.

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We didn’t know what to do. There was a wolf behind and a bear in front. We walked back the way we had come, hoping that the bear hadn’t spotted us and hoping that the wolf wasn’t too close. We anxiously awaited a green bus to pull up. We didn’t care which direction it was going, we just needed to get out of the open.

A driver going into the park pulled up, and I flagged him down, telling him that I knew it wasn’t the practice of the park buses to pick up people going into the park but that there was a wolf behind us and a bear in front and we needed on now!

We got on, and not ten seconds later, this came gallivanting around the corner:

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So, it wasn’t a wolf. It was a coyote. Of course we should have known that, because, as one of the incredibly astute passengers next to Megan said, “Wolves never travel alone.” *insert facepalm here* I didn’t care what the hell it was, to be frank. I’m just glad we got on the bus in time to avoid contact with it.

We took the bus up just a little bit and then hitched a ride back to the park entrance on an outbound bus. Upon our exit of the park, we discovered that had we somehow made it past the first bear, there would have been a second grizzly awaiting us just a half-a-mile down the road, so I guess our predicament could have been much worse.

Here’s to the next hike being a bit less eventful. Cheers!

 

Fjords for Me August 15, 2015

My husband is the best! My amazing surprise birthday trip was actually amazing! He took me to Seward, Alaska to see the Kenai Fjords! I didn’t even know what a fjord actually was. I had to Google it! Then we went on an all day cruise to see glaciers up close and saw wonderful wildlife to boot!

But since I seem incapable of staying away from exclamation points and I don’t want to write a 20,000 word blog post to tell you have fantastic the day was, I’ll just leave these pictures here.

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It was just breathtaking and perfect.

Best Birthday Ever!

 

A Monumental Moose July 29, 2015

Filed under: Animal Antics — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
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Remember that time my husband got a bunch of strangers chased by a moose? Oh you don’t? That’s fine, I do. ‘Cause it was yesterday.

There was a big storm predicted for the area, so rather than go on one of our epic adventures we decided to stay closer to home. It’ll be fine, we thought. Much safer, we thought.

We did a little hike where we found a cute little pika and were turned back by a closure for bear activity. And then we went down to the good old lake trail. The one where the elderly tourist go because it’s safe. On our way down, the people going up kept telling us excitedly about how there was a moose at the bottom. We kept responding with how we would be very careful, trying to emphasize to the tourists that moose can be cool, but they can also kill you. A mama moose is the most dangerous animal in Denali Park after all.

We were almost to the bottom when we saw the little moose cross the trail. We backed off to a respectable distance and waited for the mama to follow so we could continue on our way. We kept hiking around the loop. We saw two beavers pulling trees through the lake and then, low and behold, we saw that same mama moose in the water, just chompin’ away at the weird grass at the bottom of the lake.

We had to keep circling the lake to get out, and the plan was to pass quickly and quietly behind the mama and the baby.

But when we got to the other side of the lake, there was a lady videoing the mama and the baby. So then my husband had to get a better picture. This picture: (more…)

 

Waiting for the Wolf July 18, 2015

Guys! I saw a wolf! After three seasons in Denali constantly looking for a wolf, I found one! And by I found one I really mean the car in front of my shuttle bus found one and the people were nice enough to point for us.

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And there he was just lying in th  e empty creek bed. And he didn’t even seem to mind an entire bus of people taking pictures of him. He just sat, moving his head occasionally, enjoying the sunshine. Until one butter butt in a truck behind us decided to get out to take pictures of the wolf! Sir, you don’t stand fifteen feet from a predator! Our bus driver had to tell the guy to leave, and then the wolf was like, “Tourists,” and walked slowly away.

Then we got to see our first marmot! I never even knew they existed in Denali until like an hour before we found this cute little dude. I mean look at that face? Isn’t that adorable?

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Add to that a really great hike, two bull moose a new friendship with a caribou and a bear jaunting through the riverbed, and I call that a solid win!

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It was worth the three seasons’ wait to see my Denali wolf. There’s probably some huge lesson in here about good things coming to those who wait. Or when the time is right, it will happen. But those are lesson I doubt I will ever learn. So, yay for my wolf friend! And now, I want to see a wolverine!

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Can you find Denali in the background?

 

Dreams of Dinos July 4, 2015

Filed under: Animal Antics — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I knocked a huge item off my Denali bucket list! The husband and I found the fabled dinosaur footprints!

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It was like fate had decided that we needed to visit the fossil.

For two years, I have heard about the fossil, but no one would tell me where it was! All the locals and guides would confirm that there was a footprint, but in an (understandable) attempt to preserve the integrity of the site, wouldn’t tell you where to go.

I was so afraid that I would never be able to find the secret location.

But then, at a bar last week, my luck changed. While my husband played with a jazz combo, I overheard two people talking about how they had found the prints, complete with what creek they had hiked up!

As soon as I knew the creek name, it was like knowing the secret handshake. By implying I already knew how to find the footprints, people told me how to do it! (more…)