lifebeyondexaggeration

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stranger

A Giant’s Bridge December 8, 2017

I have lived/visited many windy places. None of them were as lovely as the Giant’s Causeway.

The coast of Northern Ireland is one of the most beautiful (quite possibly the most beautiful) places I have ever visited. The combination of rugged mountains and beautiful seascapes are breathtaking.

IMG_1446 (more…)

 

Well… That Happened (Or A Night at Casa Bonita) September 13, 2016

 

I’ve had the amazing opportunity, along with camping this summer, to go and visit my mother in her new western home. It was a great trip.

We saw huge and beautiful mountains.

img_3479

Found some great animals

img_3567

img_3524

Drank tea, saw flowers, and… went to Casa Bonita.

Yep, that’s right, the Casa Bonita of South Park fame and home of “eatertainment.” It was an experience. (more…)

 

Missing the Mountains April 30, 2016

It’s that time of year again. The seasonal workers are heading back up north to Alaska. But this time I’m not going with them. With two important weddings to attend on the east coast, going back to the land of the Midnight Sun just wasn’t a possibility.

My first summer in Denali, people talked about how the mountains got into your blood. How the fresh air is addictive and everything else feels suffocating. I didn’t really believe them. I missed getting to go to the mall when I needed new boots and running to Walmart when I ran out of snacks. You can’t do that in Denali. The nearest city is about three hours IF you don’t hit the roadwork that seems to never end. I wanted to go to the new movies and go to a real grocery store.

But the next summer I knew what was coming. I knew better how to hike in the mountains with the braided rivers as my landmarks. I had learned to love weekly poker at a local establishment as a time to check in with friends. And the Midnight Sun wasn’t a nuisance that kept me awake all night; it was a time to savor midnight hikes while awaiting the northern lights. I had learned the wonders of Amazon free super saver shipping. I knew what to buy on my few trips to the city.

Last year, I was brave enough to hike further off the beaten path with a topographical map and compass. We found brilliant hikes and even a way to have fresh organic produce delivered to us. We went to Seward and saw whales and camped by the bay. And it was brilliant.

Now my friends are posting pictures of the mountains, and it hurts my heart. It hurts that I’m not in the fresh, clean air worrying about if the rain or snow will get me. It hurts that I’m not making a list of hikes I want to do this season, knowing that it would take a miracle for time and weather to permit them all.

I love my job. I love my friends. I love my Disney annual pass.

But seeing the smiling faces surrounded by snowy peaks, I feel the pull of the mountains. It’s in my blood.

 

Long-tails in the Night February 8, 2016

I feel like with all the blogs I’ve posted about the great Thailand adventure so far, you’re all going to get the impression that Thailand is just one big city. It’s not, not even a little bit. In fact, my favorite parts of the trip were far outside of Bangkok.

The husband and I were lucky enough to stay on a private beach in Ko Phangan for a few days.

IMG_1267

The views were absolutely breathtaking, and I spent a fair amount of time reading and plotting out new stories while lying in this hammock.

IMG_2438

The days were long, the naps epic, and the shower freezing. If I were ever to be lucky enough to be the sort of full time writer that had publishers breathing down her neck to complete the next bestseller, I would run away to Bottle Beach and write in a ridiculously inexpensive paradise. Seriously, breakfast was less than two bucks, and the room was $17 a night.

But getting to paradise was not quite so easy. (more…)

 

The End of Denali as We Know It August 8, 2015

It’s the Denali apocalypse! No, really, I think it truly might be!

I went hiking in Denali National Park on Wednesday, and we summited Mount Margaret. It was glorious! Most hikes around here you spend hours busting your butt to climb to the top of something, which really turns out to be a sketchy ridge that’s overrun with bugs. You stay long enough to take a triumphant picture and get a cliff bar out of your pack, then skirt your butt back down the mountain before you’re eaten alive or fall to your death.

IMG_1479

But on top of Margaret was a beautiful field! There were neat rock formations, Dall sheep, ptarmigan, and ice that never thaws.

IMG_1471                                                                            IMG_1489

We walked through flowers, found a cave. It was fantastic. Then we crossed the ridge line, frolicking through the field to hike down the other side of the mountain. I looked back and saw something funny off in the distance. At first, I thought it was a part of the outline of Mount McKinley (Denali), which is often covered in clouds. But then I looked back a minute later, and it had moved.

IMG_1494

Funnel Cloud on Top of Mountain (Look really closely)

“Hey, that cloud looks like a tornado!” I said, pointing at the pretty thing. Luckily, I was with two people from Tennessee, who both immediately recognized it as a funnel cloud! A funnel cloud in the middle of Denali, touching a mountain ridge in the distance. And it was like a really, really far way away, so naturally, I sat down and had a snack while watching the cloud until it disappeared.

Then I stood up, saying what a neat hike it was. Then thunder shook everything. So the nice walk on the mountain became a game of get off the mountain as quickly as possible pretty darn quick. It involved bushwhacking and a lot of rain. My face bled a little, but we made it to the bus out of the park. We got on the bus, and an emergency radio call came in.

There had been a landslide on park road. Now, for those of you who don’t know, there is only one ninety-two-mile-long road that goes into Denali park. It that road is blocked, it’s either a helicopter or walking to get out of the park.

Luckily, we were far away from the landslide and really close to the park entrance, so our bus was unaffected. But still, I’ll give it a modest estimate that hundreds of park visitors were stuck on the far side of the landslide. I would have hated to be one of their bus drivers, trying to entertain bored tourists, but I’m sure everyone was fine.

I thought the strangeness in Denali was over until I woke up Thursday morning to smoke everywhere. There was a fire on the other side of the park entrance from us. You couldn’t see anything outside. At this point, we are just some raining frogs away from the end of Denali as we know it, people.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

 

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.

11700577_866195615563_1860677794480008908_o

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?

11731853_866195690413_1432854222156315904_o

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!

11722174_866195630533_5411697161016847834_o

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!

IMG_9248

Can you find Denali in the background?

 

Flat Top Folly June 28, 2014

Filed under: Marriage Mayhem,What Doesn't Kill You — meganorussell @ 10:00 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I love hiking. I love climbing mountains. Not the crazy oxygen tank kind, but the “wow mom, look what I can do” kind. My husband has a theory that our need to climb mountains is the same want to have the high ground that sends felines on top of bookshelves. There’s something about seeing everything from above that makes you feel big and little all at the same time. Or in a cat’s case, makes you feel able to pounce at any moment. (more…)