Life Cycles

I’ve always wanted to witness the metamorphosis of a butterfly, and thankfully I came across a company that makes it possible,Insect Lore.  I’d planned to order them last year, but as we all know too well, life has it’s own plans. Thankfully this Spring things worked out, I ordered the kit, note: the larva are not included and inside the kit is a free voucher for the larva, but there is a shipping fee. When I went online to redeem my voucher I really wanted to include Nettie in the experience so I ordered another container of larva and decided to create my own enclosure.

just taken out of the box,        March 17th 2018

Who knew that while we watched the life cycles of our butterflies, I myself would be experiencing a life cycle change. I couldn’t tell you exactly when things started to drastically change, but I’m going to blame it on my 44th birthday this past February. Having had a hysterectomy, my body doesn’t give me the tale tale signs of when my hormones are changing, but my emotional state was out of control. Over the last few years I can see now that I’d become progressively more withdrawn, wanting to do things, but not having the desire to want to do them, probably a functional mild depression, but I was still managing.

March 19th 2018

Looking back before this fog rolled in, I remember the way I once was, hungry for all that life had to offer, wanting to try new things and go places I hadn’t before. I used to be the girl excited to wake up in the morning, ready for what the day would bring, looking forward to the littlest things and seeing the glass of life as half full. I remember vividly the feelings of being happy and the thankfulness for life I so joyfully possesed. This new person I’d become struggles to do the smallest thing; making conversation with people and the act of forming words to come from my mouth was daunting. Human interaction was draining, as if the love and joy that I once exuded was now drowning in a vat of mud, and what was left was this heavy hearted, very burdened, emotional mess.

March 24th 2018

These last few months out of the blue I would experience a surge of great sorrow, my chest would feel as if an invisible 20 lb weight had been placed on me and a lump filled my throat, then I would begin crying. This happened so many times during my day, no matter where i was, I’d begun making jokes about how, “at least I’m not crying” or if I talked about how much I was crying, I would literally start crying!  Onto the other extreme was my inability to contain my frustration in certain situations and instead of handling them with a calm logical approach, I would say everything I was feeling in the moment without forethought. I ended up ruining a friendship, yell-crying at a postal inspector and quiting my job because I was in a such a downward spiral of mental dispair, (not to mention a still undetermined chronic debilitating back pain).

March 26th 2018

Yep, the girl’s got depression and to top it off, I’m perimenoposal!  I’ve been taking an antidepressant for a couple weeks now and am starting to notice a change. The heaviness has begun to lift, human interactions seem less frustrating, no more irrational thoughts in my bouts of frustation of driving my car off a cliff, and the crying has been less fequent… funny as is life, my eyes are welling up with tears as I am typing this.

March 29th 2018

Oh the stimgma of depression, I’d never really understood depression, it just didn’t make sense to me. I mean there’s so much in life to enjoy, why can’t people just choose to be happy? Now I totally get it….. I am so sorry to anyone who has struggled with this, it is real, it is debilitating, and definately not the way anyone would choose to be! Thankfully there is help.  If you are feeling any of the things that I’ve shared, please go get help now.  I waited a much longer time that I should’ve, I just kept thinking I could manage it on my own, but that’s the thing, I couldn’t. Last year when I had the flu, all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and sink into myself, beyond exhausted with a fever and there was nothing more my body wanted to do than to sleep for eternity. For me, my depression has been like my emotions have the flu, unable to escape the all encompasing mirk of my mental state of being.

Crystalides March 29th 2018

Unfortunately it’s not like a physcial wound that I could put a band-aid on and let time heal, it just kept getting worse, not only for me, but for my dear husband who had seemingly lost his best friend. His partner in crime, who was always up for planning things, going places and making a bad situation an opportunity to create an unforgetable memory was for all intents and purposes gone. Since I was nothing like I once was, he was would look at me so confused and say things like, “who are you?, I miss my wife. What can I do, and are we going to be okay?” All I could say is that I am trying my very best, and I hope so. Now, I’d wished I’d gotten help sooner! I didn’t realize how hard it’s been on him as well, I just couldn’t see the forest (my man) through the trees (my depression)!

Our First Butterfly April 4th 2018

Today is better than yesterday and I have hope for tomorrow. I feel as if I too now have wings, soon I’ll be able to fly back into the world with a true smile that comes from within.

April 14th 2018 Waited for a day of 55 degree to release them

Thank you Lord for good doctors and medicine to fix the disconnect in my brain. Thank you for making me realize that it’s a chemical problem, a true medical condition, not a character flaw or that I’m a weak person that lacks resiliance.

Love doesn’t cure our illnesses, but it sure makes them worth fighting!

To all who have endured my struggles with me

Thank you for LOVE

Click here if you’d like to watch the video of us releasing the butterflies. 

Copyrights srz-2018 All rights reserved

Once in a Blue Moon

We’d heard on the news about a rare lunar trifecta (lunar eclipse, blood moon and super moon) happening about an hour before heading to bed last Tuesday.

The moon the night before

Wednesday,  January 31st 2018 at 4:30 am we got to witness the most beautiful lunar experience, a super blue blood moon.  Thankfully the clouds cleared the way allowing me to capture all its splendor.

Lunar eclipse in progress..Here comes the Earth’s shadow

why so super? The moon is at its closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit and is a full moon

This cosmic event hasn’t been seen in the western hemisphere in 152 years!

blood moon appears reddish as it’s illuminated by sunlight filtered and refracted by the Earth’s atmosphere (note…thank you google for making me sound like I know stuff!)

As the moon moved and fell behind a pine tree, I was super exciting to capture these photos.

I waited a few days to look at the pictures I’d taken, I wanted to soak up the fact that I was lucky enough to have that experience, standing out in the cold with Mitch and Nettie using my super cool camera, snapping away, I just felt so blessed.  And to be honest I wasn’t ready to see the pictures, I wanted to daydream and pray that I’d gotten at least one good one, before facing reality. Happy to say, prayers answered 🙂 yay!

Copyrights srz-2018 All rights reserved

The Greatest Gift

Ever since high school I’ve loved the idea of being a photographer, having one of those fancy camera’s with the removable lenses.  Day dreams of traveling the world while taking pictures of waterfalls and capturing something worth a thousand words peppered my thoughts throughout the years.

Finally, at the age of 43 fate has found favor on me and now I can take all the pictures I want.  Thanks to a co-workers wife who was willing to part with her first DSLR, a Nikon D5100.  She gave me a few tips and has been advising me on things I may need and what to look for as I embark into this new world of photography.

our first outing, we came along some wild turkeys

She suggested I get a 150-300 lens, because it’s the most used and versatile and good for a starter.  Work my way up? nah, that’s too logical, I wanted get the big zoom, the super-duper zoom. Thankfully she talked me out of getting an 800 mm manual, eeeeks, but I just couldn’t let go of getting that zoom… and Mitch my love helped me to achieve it! So now I have a 150-600 mm with auto focus and I don’t know what the heck I am doing. There is so much to learn, and it’s overwhelming, frustrating and intimidating. I know learning it will take time, but to be honest with you I’m impatient when it comes to the time it takes to learn this, I want to just know it, for it to miraculously happen, I mean can’t I just be a “natural” at it? So far, all the things I’ve read and watched are not sticking…nothing.. big fat blank brain. Ok, I exaggerate, I do know there’s ISO, aperture, ..and another one, but still I can’t understand what they do and I even watched a video about water being the light and the measurement of it. It just seems too science like, the text book world of stuff I just don’t get.

It brings me back to when I was a child and wanted to learn how to crochet from my mom. I only wanted to learn when I was sick and stuck on the couch, because I couldn’t go outside and play.  I would try, and try and after what seemed like forever, without any real success, I would  breakdown crying from frustration. The next time I wanted to learn was….yep, when I was sick and stuck on the couch. My mom finally taught me how to crochet when I was in my 20’s, her breast cancer had returned and we knew it was now or never. I stood behind her with a video camera, she crocheted with her left hand while I taped her teaching me and she got me a book for left handed people. Then it finally clicked.

Today, Christmas eve 2017,  Mitch took me with him to deliver some packages, and it was try number two with my new lens.  It was a beautiful freezing day and the hawks were out ready for me to capture some great pictures.

Maybe I should start with my tripod because capturing them in the sky, not as easy as it looks. Shoot, even when they’re sitting on the post, the pictures are a bit fuzzy.

So of course, I managed my frustration in all the child like ways I did when I was trying to learn how to crochet, I pouted, I complained, I had a little pity party for myself making a sad comment about how dreams are meant to stay that way because the reality of them sucks! and then of course I topped it off with tears. After my ten minute fit, I thanked Mitch for just listening, letting me vent and we decided to stop by the Veterans Cemetery to take a few pictures.

I swapped out the monster lens for a little fella and as we pulled up near where we had the service for Pops I felt a surge of sad.  I miss my dad, and it’s my first Christmas without him.  As I looked around at the sparkling beauty of the day, I realized that each of the headstones have a wreath.

What a special tribute to our veterans, the stoic uniformity of loved ones passed, adorned with a holiday remembrance. I felt compelled to capture that moment, so I took a few photos.

As I was walking back to the car, I looked at my last photo and instantly I knew my dad was saying,” hi baby girl, I love you!”

The one name that is legible right out front is “RAYMOND”  papa’s name!

What a great gift he gave me, to envelope me with the his unconditional love,  giving me a sign, just when I needed it most.  I thank the good Lord for always knowing my heart, and making sure I see what really matters in life.

Its Christmas time

 stuff is swell

but

God is GREAT !

Thank you for

your greatest gift,

your son!

Happy Birthday Jesus!

 

 

So Much to Share, Summer 2017

I’ve had idea after idea about what to post next, but to actually get my fingertips to the keyboard just wasn’t happening. Today I say, “self, stop using up all your brain power thinking and just starting typing!” Here goes….

Waterfall wonderland was our summertime fun.

Mitch found this fountain free here in town, it just needed a little fix and now it works great

I got this fountain at the dollars for scholars here in medical lake last year. The birds love it!

Mitch made a tree stump waterfall that ‘s just beyond beautiful. He worked on it for days, and it couldn’t be any more amazing. He’d tried to find ideas and suggestions on Pinterest without much luck, so maybe now he’ll be able to help others.

He started with drilling the outer shape

Drilling took way to long, so he brought out the big guns… his chainsaw

Hours later

Painted out perimeter for stone blocks

Its starting to take shape

He used retaining wall stone blocks he’d found on Craigslist, and just chipped off the lip of the stone with a hammer to make it work

Pump is set, power cord ran underground, pond liner finished, now to add water

Ahhhh, the sound of flowing water

He has the lights on a timer so they go off in the morning and on at night, and even though its August there has just got to be some color.

Starting to look real nice now, but he just insists on more color

Out watering every morning or evening

nighttime look

I’ve read that cats like to drink from moving water and so I looked into one of those cat water fountains, but just couldn’t bring myself to spend that kind of money so I decided to make my own.

Zoey trying to send me a mental messages saying, “mama, make my world wonderful…… you will pamper me!”

My first round was probably a year ago, I got a small water pump, put it in a dog dish and cut out a flower from an aluminum can. After cutting myself trying to shape it, and noticing all the sharp edges I decided that it just wouldn’t be safe for Zoey to drink from.

my first try with the water pump and soda can

Trashed that prototype, and 6 months later I was ready to try again. This time I’d found a bowl and pitcher at a yard sale for $15,

bowl and pitcher with water pump before we cut off the  bottom half to make it fit better

bought a ceramic tile cutter for our Dremel and after some trial and error, tada!

Dremel diamond wheel cut super smooth and worked great

the pitcher bottom after we used the Dremel, just leaving the last little cut

Zoey using the final product! wahoo

Now to be honest, after the first couple days she rarely drank from it and it was a pain to clean, so after about 5 months I gave up the ghost.

now I use it as a candy dish

Zoey hanging with her best buddy

We still have a pet water filter in her dish, but even with cleaning it daily she’d rather just drink out of the dogs water. Can’t say we didn’t try, that’s for sure.

this little window bird feeder is  awesome, great treat to see the birds from inside the house! got it used from amazon, only cost about $12

Lake Wenatchee State Park near Leavenworth is where we were when the eclipse took place, spending time with the kids.

Nettie riding in style and Charlie trying to get settled in for the drive

using our selfie stick for the first time capturing a family photo and Harvy the RV as a backdrop

As the eclipse was happening it made some really cool sun rays

capturing all the colors in the sun rays

Chef Marcus cooking it up

DELICIOUS!  Great job Marcus! thanks for making it a glamping experience! (note, never never again will we have shrimp in the rv fridge! Peweee, that was some work getting the smell out)

Sunset at the campsite

the sunset colors hitting the trees

our new friend Oreo, named after the snack he first went for when we set up camp. He’s stocking up on some dog food here in the picture

Mitch made me a homemade air conditioner this summer for my Four Lakes Post Office because it was so HOT in my office

fan on the top, PVC pipe coming out the side and ice inside the cooler

It definatley gave me some relief from the heat in the office

I had my hair gal cut my hair and I donated it to Children with Hair Loss (only place that accepts dyed and grey hair!)

measuring my hair to make sure I had enough to donate

we were able to send about 10 inches

About a month after my initial cut, my hair still felt heavy and just too much, so I asked my hair gal if she would shave off some of it and she said, “no, your hair’s too thick, I just don’t think it’d look good.” I was a bit taken aback, and needless to say; not ok with the resistance in doing whatever I wanted with my own hair so I thanked her for looking out for me and told her I understood. Then with a tone of joking but with truth I said, ” gosh, I don’t know, I think I’m going to have to break up with you… maybe we should just be friends ” Later that night I got the hubby to give er a little shavin! It worked out the way it was supposed to, it made for memorable quality time with my love, and I’m happy to say I stayed friends with my hair gal because I spoke my peace so I could keep the peace.

Mitch prepping to shave my head

all up top will stay, down below will go

trying to get the line just right

just like it, she gone

now, when my hair’s down you can’t tell it’s shaved and it feels so much lighter and manageable

Found a puppy left in a car this summer and was about to report it to the authorities when I was lucky enough to encounter the female owner and her two male companions, who’d just finished their lunch at the Texas Road House in Cour d’Alene. It was at least 85 degrees outside, and the female who said it was her dog was probably 8 months pregnant! She defended her choice by stating that she cracked the windows and left water for the dog. It took every ounce of self-control I had not to grab that puppy and lock them in that hot car for an hour while I went and ate my lunch! I tried to get a picture of their license plate so I could still call and report the incident, but by that time the situation had escalated to, “mind your own bleeping business, and bleep off !” So of course by then I was screaming at the top of my lungs, asking her if next time she’d be leaving her child in the car like that! Oh boy! It was not good, there was a moment when I had to decide, just walk away or sucker punch those punks in the throat, take the dog and run. Realizing it was 3 against 1, as Mitch, not knowing what was happening and was non-the wiser enjoying his warm rolls and cinnamon butter inside the restaurant, I walked away, using some of my own choice words, while taking a picture of one of the guys who was trying to block the license plate. Seriously, what is wrong with people?! Ugh!

yes, he’s blocking the license plate

Charlie boy our Golden Retriever was getting a much-needed pampering session this summer when I noticed a big ol lump near his poo shoot.

found this bobble head at a yard sale, and yup it looks just like our Charlie boy

Figured it was his anal glands that just needed expressed so we headed to the vet the very next day. Never thinking it’d be anything else, imagine our surprise when the vet gave us the news that it was cancer.

peanut butter heaven

Of course she told us what to look for when it starts getting worse, and that there are things that they can do to help him when he starts showing symptoms. We were so sad initially, but then also grateful, because now he’s getting super spoiled, no more diet and we’ve been giving him things he’s never had before, like ice cream, a hamburger and other kinds of people food! I’m not too much on giving our dogs people food very often, only as a treat, but now for Charlie, everyday is treat day!

first time having ice cream

In Nettie news, it’s not good news either! Don’t know if you remember, but she’s living with us now, back in pops cottage. Story goes, Nettie’s been having back pain for the past few months and it’s progressively gotten worse. This summer she went and spent a month with the sis’s in California, before that she’d had some discomfort but it was manageable. After returning home she was really struggling and we thought it was sciatic pain so she’d made an appointment to see the doctor.  The doctor said “well, I’m going to send you to physical therapy and they’ll probably just send you back to me and then I’ll refer you to get an MRI.” Well they didn’t, they started giving her physical therapy. We assumed a bulging disk, pinched nerve, sciatic pain…. Week after week Nettie’s pain got worse and I suggested she try acupuncture because that’s what’d helped pops when his sciatica was so bad. She tried it and still no relief. Every now and then I’d check in with her, ask if she’d done her exercises to see if she was doing what she was supposed to. Sometimes she hadn’t, and I would give her the good ol’ talkin to about being consistant with her exercises. After going back to physical therapy the 3rd time and just being in too much pain she saw the doctor and they finally sent her down to get an MRI. The next day she got a call from the doctors office and they said she needs to get to Deaconess emergency, get admitted and get a biopsy that day! She ended up spending 5 days in the hospital, two other biopsies and a surgery to remove a huge tumor on her spine that was pinching all her nerves.

getting briefed by the surgeon before surgery to remove the tumor

The surgeon was surprised she could even walk! Talk about  having a high tollerance for pain!

off she goes

That poor girl, after ALL that time of suffering! With all the test result in they’ve diagnosed her with high risk multiple myeloma.

before her first chemo shot she’s contemplating if she should’ve brought in her coffee

Nettie’s endured months of pain unneccessarily, and there I am giving her a hard time about not doing her exercises! I called her crying uncontrollably after finding out what it was and couldn’t apologize enough about pressuring her to do her stretches. We got to bring her home Sunday the 5th of November, and you can tell she is feeling so much better and ready to fight the good fight with this cancer. Nettie has got the best disposition and attitude of gratitude of anyone I’ve ever known, I admire her so much.

beautiful birthday girl (we celebrated on Thanksgiving since her birthday was the day after), free of that horrible nerve pain

Happy to report, she’s responding well to the treatment and  just started her second cycle of treatment this Friday the 8th of December. Please keep our Nettie Noodle in your thoughts and prayers.

Tips for Dementia Cargiving

I can’t believe Papa’s been gone for almost 6 months now.  Most of the time I don’t feel as if he’s really gone, it’s more like he’s just with me in a different way.  The unconditional love he gave me knows no death, and I feel his spirit  all the time. I often think back to the times when I would kiss him on his forehead, he would lean into me smelling of old spice and syrup as I would take a deep breath through my nose and pause an extra second to soak in the moment so I could dog-ear it for the years to come. It makes my heart surged with pure love and bliss just thinking about it.

Thankfully I have videos of him as well, so when I’m missing him I’ll just look through my phone and watch a couple and it always lifts my spirits.  I decided to make a montage of my favorite videos of him to share with you.

 

I’ve wanted to share the things we’d learned while caring for Papa in the hopes that it may help someone else going through a similar situation. Most of the things we tried, worked for a while and then they didn’t.  It’s a trial and error situation and you have to keep adapting because their disease is constantly progressing making things more challenging.

HOMEMADE BIBS

Cut a hole in an old towel and use as bib.

We had 5 or 6 old towels we cut holes in and they worked wonderful!

ARROWS ON THE FLOOR

When pops could still understand directions we put electrical tape on the floor with arrows to help guide him to the restroom. Sometimes it worked, other times it didn’t.

We tried glow in the dark tape too, but it didn’t stay glowing through the night

REUSEABLE UNDER PADS

There will be a time when furniture needs to be covered, we tried the plastic covers and they worked for a while.  Unfortunately they tear and aren’t comfortable for anyone, especially the elderly.

sitting in this chair with the plastic cover felt like we were in the 1950’s!

In the end we found that reusable underpads were the way to go. I’d recommend the standard light blue, it definately did the job and when we used the dark blue super waterproof they seemed to make him sweat, and not let his skin breath causing other problems.

MONITORS

Monitors will make life so much easier. In the beginning we had this fella (pictured below) given to us by a friend and then Mitch went all out getting a surveillance system 2 camera set up making life so much easier.  It alerted us when he was moving, and him having horrible balance gave us just enough time to look at the monitor to see if he was standing up, or he would just be brushing his hair and was moving around.  Either way, it was worth it a million times over.  We still used the little guy shown here in the picture, we put it on the back of the bathroom toilet, so when he was able to take himself into the restroom we weren’t invading his space, but if he was standing and we didn’t see his face, we knew to run in and help.

Monitors will come in super handy

 

LIGHTING UP THE TOILET BOWL

The motion activated toilet bowl night-light (bowl glow) worked wonderfully for us for a long time, long after he forgot what things were used for, he would still head straight for the light in the middle of the night.

we also put a towel underneath just in case he was close, but not close enough

 

It had lots of different colors to choose from

 

it seemed the green and blue he would go to more, the red color didn’t really work for him. Maybe because he was color blind?

 

ROOM DIVIDERS

We found that if there wasn’t anything for him to see, he was less likely to get wrapped up in it.  At night we would take three room dividers and place them in a half circle pattern around his bed with only the portable potty with the toilet bowl night-light in the middle.  It worked really well for us, most of the time.

 

TOOLS TO KEEP HIM OCCUPIED

I took construction paper, made shapes and put magnets inside each one

then I took another magnet, wrapped fishing line from an ice fishing pole around it and then wrapped it all with electrical tape

Pops catching one of the shapes

I created a pillow cover with string and buttons, a zipper, some foreign coins, a crocheted dish cloth I made and put coins between it with the hopes he would want to try and get the coins out to look at.

He fiddled with it for about 20 minutes, and had no interest in it EVER again, but at least I tried.

He spent hours pulling apart paper towels

The best one was a nut and bolt set given to us by a friend who’d worked with dementia patients. It’s different size bolts and nuts on a block of wood. After papa passed we re-gifted it to a dementia care facility.

TAKING THE BLAME

Having to see Dad struggle with the confusion and frustration of dementia was so hard, so any time he thought he was right about something, we just let him be right. The struggle is real! The best way to manage situations is to help them feel like they are making choices (giving two options worked best for us) and their feelings about certain things are justified. Also, know it’s ok to feel your own feelings, just give yourself a break from them during that time to remind yourself that it’s the disease, it’s not them. Sometimes they may hurt your feelings, be combative or even inappropriate and it’s in those times that you have a real opportunity to better yourself because of their disease. Taking time to separate yourself from them while you process your own emotions is vital! We went into each day with compassion for his situation, unconditional love and mindset of forgiveness of whatever transgressions are to come.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE

I watched video’s, read books and search for insight online that reminded me that this isn’t just our journey, there are so many out there going through the same thing.  Also, if you don’t have a group of people to rely on, get one, the sooner the better. This is definitely not a one person job, not even a two person, it takes a team and the sooner you can build that team the better.  God Bless, and as sissy Annette says, “Do your best, and forget the rest.”

 

Glacier National Park

We finally made it to Glacier, it’s been a few years since we found out about a national park near us.  We first heard about Glacier watching 20/20 In An Instant on ABC about a father and daughter being attacked by a bear.  It was a riveting story and thankfully they survived and we were amazed to find out there was such a beautiful place nearby.

 

Mitch at the wheel while I try to be the best co-pilot and picture taker I can


This is the sign at St. Mary’s Campground, which is located on the eastern side of the park


There were fields covered with these strange  white flowers

Come to find out it’s called bear grass


We’d reserved A site at St. Mary Campground just to make sure we had a spot the first night.

When I first got out of the RV and stopped to smell the flowers this guy was staring me in the face!

The campground itself was just ok, not much of a view and I felt a bit claustrophobic.

IMG_6042

But… the surrounding areas and views were amazing!

We made plans to hike to St. Mary Falls the next day and wanted to capture the sunrise so we decided we’d get up around 4 a.m. After driving for 8 hours it wasn’t a problem falling asleep while the sun was still shining, we were spent.

Bright yellow patch along our drive that you just cant miss

We headed west up on the Going to the Sun Road and saw a moose who stayed long enough for us to get a quick grainy picture.

The morning was so peaceful, there was a slight breeze and on occasion the scent of wildflowers would ecompass my senses.

hello sunrise, see you soon moon


on our way up the Going to The Sun Road

 

Yes, the water really is that blue

The hike was a mile long and we did our best to make sure if there were any bears around they heard us coming.  Hey bear, hey bear, hey bear was our hiking mantra.

the trail towards St. Mary Waterfall


All the burnt trees stand stoic defying the fire from 2015


The vibrancy of the colors are mezmerizing, it’s amazing

We did encounter a deer that was more than happy to keep us company along our walk.

looks like we aren’t the only one who uses the trails



Sunrise on St. Mary Falls


Taking in the scenery


Wildflower with the waterfall


View from opposite the falls


the charred remains remind of the past as the beauty holds the promise of tomorrow


Wild flowers everywhere


just breathe


St. Mary Lake

This area is quite famous, Forest Gump “was running” through this area.

Wild Goose Island

Wild Goose Island is featured in the beginning of the Shining as is Going to The Sun Road.

Two Medicine Lake campground

Wonderful campsite, highly recommend.  we rode our bikes to the visitor center, had a snack, looked at the souvenirs and skipped some rocks in the lake.

Note the bench, it’ll soon be the epiphany bench


There’s a storm a brewing


A quick easy hike


we got a ways up the mountain


We were able to get a great view of the campsite and spotted Harvy


Now it’s really starting to rain


Now it’s pouring and we direct our attention to some fun out of the sun


We played multiple games while waiting for the storm to pass


Yes, we played all those games


So we didn’t see any bears, but what do you know, there’s a tiger!

After the storm passes we take a walk to the epiphany bench and have a real heart to heart. Although we paid to stay the night at Two Medicine Campground we were both restless and ready to head home. Neither one of us wanted to just stay and relax. It was as if we were trying to do the norm of the camping world and we’ve never been the norm.  So, we said, so what, lets go! It was around 4pm and on our way out we stopped to see another fall.

This is Running Eagle Falls right near Two medicine campground


More wildflowers

We drove for a couple of hours to make it to Lake McDonald on the West side of the park just in time to capture the sun setting.

West Glacier, Lake McDonald


These are the amazing colorful rocks seen on the shore of Lake McDonald

We decided that we’d drive for a few more hours towards home until we made it to the 50,000 silver dollar store and just sleep in the lot like old times with the semi trucks. Mitch finds something soothing about sleeping with the sounds of the semi trucks running through the night, and I love to get some gas station coffee bright and early in the morning. It’s a win-win.

So we learned that we don’t really want to stay at the campsites, we want to see the sights. 

Also, we realized that just because we can make food in Harvy, we don’t really want to. We are on vacation! We want to eat the gas station nacho cheese, get iced coffees, try out the local food and just enjoy the journey.

Glacier is a hikers paradise, a picture-takin haven and a place you just gotta see to see!

The Doctor Deficiency

For years I’ve struggled with muscle aches and pains, feeling overly tired and completely drained of a desire to do much of anything. I’d seen my doctor about it and she’d referred me to a rheumatologist. The specialist was, to say the least… lacking in his profession, he was completely indifferent and dismissive of my ailments. I decided to let it go and just get on with life. A couple of years later, still feeling “off” my new doctor sent me back to the same specialist.  When I entered the room he remembered me quite clearly and joked about what could be wrong with me, stating, “You again, what could be wrong with you, you’re young and healthy. Why are you here?” I quickly replied back, “well ok then, I don’t know, guess I’ll be on my way.”  He said something to the effect of since I was there lets see what’s “wrong” with me. He did an assessment and said he couldn’t really say, I had some symptoms similar to that of fibromyalgia and some hypermobility in my joints but nothing that is definitive.  He then stated it could just be the body getting older and that I’d gained some weight over the last couple years (20 lbs in 3 years) and that could be the problem. Feeling defeated and helpless about my situation tears began welling up in my eyes.  When he noticed my emotional state, he said, “We also have mental health available if you need someone to talk to.”  I was beside myself with disbelief.

I know what you’re saying to yourself, you’re saying, “No he didn’t!” but yes, yes he did! crazy right! I headed straight down to the patient advocate and addressed the situation. First time shame on you, second time shame on you and I’m sayin somethin!

Another couple of years pass and I’m taking anti-inflamitories, muscle relaxers and a couple other things just to help me manage my discomfort of the “fibromyalgia”. Taking care of Pops was my priority, so when I was feeling completely drained, loopy in the head and numb to all of life’s experiences I assumed it was from taking care of my dad and knowing soon he wouldn’t be with us anymore.

About a month after Pops had passed I decided it was about time that I start to take care of myself and get things addressed that I’d been putting off.  I recall so vividly the moment I’d made the decision to get things checked out, I was walking into the front bathroom thinking how enough is enough, and it has to be addressed and I felt a poke in my backside. Seriously, just a little poke, plain as day.  I looked behind me, I was alone…I knew in that moment my Mom and Dad’s spirits were telling me to just do it already.

I emailed my doctor that day, stating I wanted a second opinion about my fibromyalgia. Since it’s the VA, they wouldn’t pay for a visit to an outside provider if their doctor was available. I said schedule it anyway because he would be booked too far out and I would be able to use the Choice Program to get my second opinion outside of the VA.  To my surprise I was called the next day and they could get me in next week. My heart sank and I asked, “whom will the appointment be with?”  and from his mouth came the most beautiful words, “We have a new Rheumatologist, her name is Dr. Woe” I  said with great joy and relief, “Woe? Really? Wahoo! Wonderful news!”

Short end to a long story…. I had a vitamin D deficiency! It wasn’t fibromyalgia. All this time, all that time, all along… are you kidding me! All those years and it was a vitamin, one little blood test and there was the answer. Sigh, big long sigh. I’m grateful for an answer, and to know that it’s an easy fix, what a relief.  But also, I’m sad for the me in the past that struggled for all those years and felt like a hypochondriac because of a doctor who didn’t care enough to even try figuring out what was wrong.

My vitamin D level was at 17; the acceptable range is between 30-70.  My Doctor said that 50 is the ideal number. I would like to share all the symptoms I experienced, just in case you or someone you know may be experiencing the same things.

  • tired when I woke up, and never felt rested, constant fatigue
  • everything seemed challenging physically, even having conversations
  • felt as if I couldn’t really focus, like in a dream state (thought it was fibro fog)
  • muscle weakness and aches
  • random joint pain
  • horrible awful night sweats
  • feeling mentally numb and emotionally detached

So many times over the years my friends would ask me if I wanted to do things with them and I wanted to want to… but I just didn’t want to. My  body  didn’t want to do anything either and when we would get together I felt unable to engage in meaningful conversation. I was confused about my own self, not having a desire to all the things I used to enjoy, but I made myself accept that my life was just going to be like this.  Until I finally decided to be my own advocate, and fight to get some real answers.

I’m now on 10,000 D3 IU a day for a couple of months to get my levels up to where they need to be before reducing the amount. I’m feeling better, I wake up rested, no more night sweats, I can think more clearly, the aches and weakness are dissipating, but am still waiting for the tiredness to subside. Overall though I’m starting to feel like the old me, up for doing more things, and being able to actually enjoy my life again.

I sincerely hope that this story inspires you to be your own best friend. It’s your body and you know it best. If something feels wrong, go seek help and if that doctor doesn’t help you, or there’s just something that is still nagging at you about it, get a second opinion. Please don’t go through years of blah like I did because of someone else’s inadequacies.