Mighty Myra

Miso

Myyyyyyyso

Myra-Bear

Myra-Bell

Palmyra

Mighty Myra

Myra

Turbo mode. Sad eyes. Tail-thumping, trail-running, snow-rolling. Loyal, loving, constant, gentle soul.

Myra began her life in the shady dirt yard of an old, run-down house on the side of Highway 50, en route to the Black Canyon. Just across from the Old West Museum.

It was the spring of 2010 in Montrose, Colorado.

As I was walking out of Murdoch’s, the local farm store (not sure what I was doing at Murdoch’s), I saw an advertisement for Labrador Retriever puppies; I remember it caught my eye as I breezed past. I thought about it for one second, then stopped, turned around, tore off one of the paper nubs with the address and stuffed it in my shorts pocket.

A teenage boy brought me into the yard where I was surrounded by a tangle of small yellow and black labs. They were all sharp teeth and claws, soft ears, and little puppy growls as they played with and climbed over each other. One caught my eye and I grabbed her and set her aside to play with. I wanted to be sure she was the one, so I asked the boy if I could bring a friend back…but if we return her to her litter, how would we know which one she is? The boy ran into the house and brought out his sister’s nail polish. He painted one of my puppy’s tiny, sharp nails a bright pink. That’s how we would know her.

I brought my friend Jon back with me for an expert opinion (he said yes), handed the boy some cash, and took the puppy with the pink nail home to South 6th Street.

First picture of Myra. Springtime 2010. Montrose, CO (backyard of 6th Street).

And that is the story of how Myra came to be my dog.

Myra came into my life in the Springtime. Ten years and many trails, mountains, rivers, road trips, snowfields, and climbing trips later, she took her leave, also in the Springtime.

August 2010
Pumpkin patch with Myra
October 2010
Creede, CO
Fall 2012
Myra with Uncle Mark
Summer 2010

Myra was my work companion, my trail-running partner, my shadow. The first few years she topped mountains with me, logged endless miles on the trails with me, followed me on camping trips and lounged in the 6th Street living room on the purple carpet. It was always me and Myra.

Lounging at The Medium House, 10/2013.
Indian Creek. 10/2013.
Buck Trail. 6/2011.
Miner’s Creek. Creede. 9/2013.
Elephant Skin Road (Peach Valley) run. 10/2012
Winter trail run. 2010
Post-run, Peach Valley. 10/2012.
Trail run. Shavano Valley.
Kiski Trails

And then this Swiss guy came into my life.

Myra decided that he could join the pack.

Richmond Pass
July 2013
Wedding Day
6-7-2014
Dedham, ME
April 2016
Indian Creek

From that day on, she became more and more Stephane’s dog. He shaved her in the summers to keep her cool, trimmed her nails, poured over dog food ingredients to ensure she had the best ratio of fats to proteins; always made sure she was clean, fed, and happy.

And Myra loved him. Dearly.

Stephane & Myra – Beartooth Pass.
October 2015
Richmond Pass
July 2013
The Little House
Winter 2012?
Escalante
March 2014
Dedham, ME
October 2016
Phillips Lake. Dedham, ME
April 2016
Maine
March 2016

Myra was the best-mannered, sweetest, gentlest soul. As she accepted and loved Stephane, so she did with Hugo, although it took her a little bit to figure out just what he was when we brought him home one afternoon.

And just like that, there were four of us.

Backyard at Hurd House. Dedhame, ME. Christmastime, 2016. Our first Christmas tree.

Easy-going and long-suffering, Myra took her new role of bodyguard and canine baby-companion in stride, as she took everything else.

Tastes good…
May 2017
Hugo’s bodyguard
Thanksgiving 2017.
Red Rock Arroyo
March 2018.
The Promised Land
October 2018
Diablo Canyon
November 2017
Dolores River
Last family photo
May 2020

Myra-girl, you left us abruptly one morning at camp. We weren’t ready for you to go, my sweet girl. You still had some more miles left to go on those trails, and Hugo hadn’t snuck nearly enough food your way.

Mighty Myra, our hearts are so heavy. My feet are like lead on the trails and sometimes I still look back to see if you’re there. I still wait for the thump-thump-thump of your tail as you greet me in the early mornings. I still listen for your eager cry as we pack the camper (you could never be patient on those days, waiting and hoping to “make the cut” into the truck; you always did).

Myra-Bear, Thank you for being our sweet, gentle, turbo, silly girl all these years. Thank you for following us endlessly, tirelessly, and uncomplainingly: all over the country, up mountains, down canyons, through rivers; for navigating new parts of life with us. Thank you for waiting patiently for us to return from long trips. Thank you for all of the wonderful memories.

I’m finding less and less of your hair around the house these days, sweet girl.

I used to cringe at the endless piles of yellow hair floating around.

Now all I want is to have them back.

Winter fun in Pagosa Springs

Thursday afternoon we hit the road north for Pagosa Springs, CO. Our friends the Regeles have a condo in PS and invited us up for the weekend for some adventures in the snow.

Stéphane and Jonathan met up with Tom in Silverton for a day of ice climbing.
Tom & Jonathan.
Snowy footprints mark the morning’s hike to the climb.
The boys play in the San Juans. A beautiful (cold) day.
In the mountains.
Stéphane on lead.
All smiles 🙂
On the sharp end.
Stéphane bringing up Tom & Jonathan.
All smiles: my mountain man in his happy place.
Beautiful sunset drive home to Pagosa.
Adventure de-brief (note bloody knee).
The next day Tom and I look for some ice to climb (to no avail, so we skied with the gang instead).
First turns in eight or so years!
The next day we headed up to Wolf Creek Pass for a day of skiing – and Hugo’s very first day on the slopes!
Ready to go! Point me to the magic carpet!
Stéphane working with Hugo in the bunny slope.
Fun time with Uncle Tom.
Hugo had a great first day on skis! I enjoyed getting back on my skis after…seven, eight years?! Just like riding a bike 😉
Lunch at Wolf Creek Pass with 3/5 of the Regeles (Laura & Alexander were still ripping it up).
Fun day @ Wolf Creek.
A great day!
A wonderful weekend with the Regeles – thank you for sharing your lovely condo with us! We had a great winter wonderland adventure weekend with you!! Here’s a cool shot of the view from the back of the condo – Pagosa Peak in all her glory.

Turkey + Tree

Happy Thanksgiving from the Heftis!

This year we celebrated a day early, on Wednesday, so Jess and Bradley could join us. Stéphane prepared a feast! Turkey with stuffing; mashed potatoes, gravy, yams, macaroni and cheese, green beans- it was amazing! Our neighbors and good friends Tom and Pam also joined us; we all had a lovely day together.

Posing with the yummy grub.
Diggin’ in.

The following week, it was time to search for this year’s Christmas tree. Stéphane picked up the tree tag + map in town and we headed out of town to search for the perfect tree.

Which one will it be?
Hugo carried the saw and helped Daddy cut our tree.
This year we found our tree close to town, just up the road going to Pajarito ski hill.
Let the decorating begin!
All gussied up.

After hauling our treasure home, we spent the evening untangling lights while Christmas tunes crooned through the speakers, sipping on mulled wine from heavy ceramic mugs, searching for ornament hooks, and laughing as Hugo places yet another ornament on the same branch.

Merry Christmas to all! Enjoy this lovely, wintery month; smile to strangers (they most always smile back), stress less (who cares if you burned the pie), and put yourself on pause to really be in the moment with those you love.

The Promised Land

For this trip, it was a toss-up between ice climbing in Silverton or rock climbing at The Promised Land. Since we have the rest of the winter ahead of us and the warm days of Fall are dwindling, we were excited that the gang was up for rock.

Meeting up with friends for some fun in the sun at The Promised Land.
Stéphane at the crux.
Getting on the sharp end of things.
Hugo enjoys “the swing”
Hugo and Uncle Tom.
Hugo enjoying some Aunt Melisa time.
Hugo working his mountain biking skills.
Water beers at the end of the day.
We love Alan!
Hugo rode his bike around camp, ran around with the dogs, played harmonica around the campfire at night, and enjoyed way too much hot chocolate before bed one evening (and proceeded to wet the bed the next morning – doh, rookie move). Regardless, good times.
Great weekend, great friends.
It got C-O-L-D when the sun went down. We burned a lot of wood to keep warm.
Off to climb again! Hugo leads the way.
Me halfway up “Blood Sweat, and Cleavage” – Melisa put this one up when we were here last year – one of the few trad routes on the crag. This year Tom brought his bolt kit and added a proper anchor at the top.
Tom!
Hanging out in between climbs.
The boys on a wood-gathering mission for night #2.
Hugo found a stage and performed “Itsy-Bitsy Spider”, ‘Ba Ba Black Sheep”, and “The Muffin Man” to the crowd below.
Stéphane belays me on Muffin Mountain, two fun little routes just down the road from camp.
Pizza and brew at Three Barrel Brewery on the way home. Another wonderful weekend in the books! Looking forward to winter and Hugo’s first experiences skiing!

Escaping the snow

The Gruffalo is packed and I’m madly tying up loose ends at work so we can get on the road and escape south, away from the snow. A half an inch of the powdery stuff fell in Los Alamos Thursday morning, so we were more than enthusiastic about driving down the hill and heading south to warmer weather and our favorite climbing spot, Red Rock Arroyo.

On the way down, a stop at the Owl Cafe, home of the infamous green chille burger, which absolutely lived up to its reputation.
Additionally, this damn place in the middle of nowhere, which was all about owls, happened to have hanging on its dingy walls, the very same painting that I grew up with in the den at home. And we just so happened to sit at the table just below where it hung (table 13). What are the odds of that?
The green chille burger!

With full bellies, we finished our drive south. Forgetting to top off with gas in Socorro, we discovered a hole-in-the-wall “truck stop” to fuel up and made it to our beloved Red Rock Arroyo just before sunset. It’s such a good feeling pulling into Luna Park Campground: we are always the only ones and get to set up camp in our regular spot, kick back, and enjoythe quiet and solitude.

The Gruffalo hiding in the trees.
Short but steep hike up from camp to our photo spot – a fun tradition!
This year’s photo…kind of a hot mess, but imperfect photographs tend to tell more memorable stories.
Our home away from home.
It was so enjoyable with Hugo this time around! He played with his toys, “read” his books, and took an interest in climbing. He helped us by telling us where we should put our feet while we were climbing, brought us water when we lowered down, and even pulled the rope for us after each climb.
I love this place because it has so many moderate climbs that I can attempt to lead. It’s such a great spot to gain some confidence while lead climbing.
Hugo enjoying “the night book” while mommy and daddy climb.
Gathering wood for the campfire.
A round of bocce ball before the sun sets.
Hugo took this!
Playing with shadows around the campfire.
Enjoying an icy cold popsicle at the end of the day.
Another day and more climbing. Our little helper pulls the rope after the climb.
Campfire scene. Good times had by all at our Red Rock Arroyo. Can’t wait to go back.

Happy Fall

A happy fall to you from the Heftis! I am WAY behind on eeeeeep but promise to play catch-up soon.

Five Years

Here’s to the man who always makes everything happen – even when the babysitter is 20 minutes out and you need another bike tube to make the epic five-year anniversary bike-to-dinner date happen. There is no obstacle too big, no problem too small for this guy. Love you to the moon and back, Bug!


An awesome ride into town for dinner at The Blue Window. Only in Los Alamos can you hop on some super fun trails just minutes from your house and ride some sweet single track to dinner.
Five years!

Every Eleven Days

Every eleven days, the closets of Casa Uva spew forth cams, climbing ropes and quick draws; Nalgene bottles of every color are rounded up, cleaned, and filled. Crusty campfire jackets re-emerge from the depths and canvas bags are haphazardly stuffed with non-frigo essentials like spaghetti, pretzels, dried fruit, and bars.

Stéphane parks The Gruffalo out front the day before so we can outfit her with fresh sheets, stock up the TP, stuff the gear and clothes, fill the fridge, and top off the H2O and propane.

Thursday morning – the eleventh day of being home – is a flurry of activity of different kinds. Hugo is out and about with his babysitter, Anna, tromping around on one of the local in-town trails, singing a song at the library or looking at scorpions at the nature center; Stéphane is “closing up” the house and I’ve been up since Five cranking out some work for clients before I shut down for the day and we hit the road.

Eleventh-Day-Thursdays crescendo at noon at which point Stéphane pulls us away from the curb; I kick my feet up on the dash and Hugo’s in the back with Richard Scarry.

Our last two trips were polar opposites: the first a snowy, loud, extrovert extravaganza of a trip north to the San Juan mountains; the second a warm, quiet, adventure south for some climbing at one of our favorite spots.

Part I (snow):

We head north to the Western Slope (CO) to meet up with Tom & Melisa for a weekend of snow, machines, lots of friends, and, unfortunately, three ER visits. Hugo and I make the five-mile snowmobile ride down Little Cimmaron to The Chamberlain Cabin.

 

A beautiful ride in. Sheep Mountain in the center, and fresh tracks beyond.

Melisa, Tom, Hugo, and myself. A pause on the ride in to make sure the trailers are secure.

 

About forty minutes later, we make it to the cabin, which is absolutely buried.

The long process of digging out the cabin begins with digging out the shed so we can get to more shovels.

Digging out.

We moved a lot of snow.

Time to play in the snow!

Sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow-mobiling were the activities for the weekend.

Stéphane catching some air on the snow bike.

 

Snow cave.

The next day the Front-Rangers arrive at the trailhead. Lots of littles, gear, food, clothes, and supplies are shuttled into the cabin.

Hugo enjoyed playing with the other little people.

Long story short, there was some mayhem, some blood, and three of the group ended up at the ER. A broken nose and handful of stitches later, all is well and we have more photos for Tom’s Wall of Pain and some good stories to swap around the campfire.

Family shot in front of the cabin.

I drive the girls and Hugo back out (SLOWLY).

“The Survivors”

 

Part II (sun):

We just returned from our favorite climbing spot in New Mexico: Red Rock Arroyo. Warm temps, lots of climbing and relaxing and family time.

 

The short hike to “The Harry Potter Climbs”

Taking a break from climbing for a reading session with the Hug-ster.

I’ve been able to lead a number of climbs here, which is awesome!

 

Harmonica session in “the cave”.

Baby Swiss on a Triscuit. Hugo making it look like it’s filet mignon.

Stéphane putting up a burly route on the “second tier”

Books at camp.

Dinner prep

Dinner around the campfire.

 

Goofing off.

Jamb session with daddy.

Stéphane rapping down from “the second tier” climb.

Shot from “the second tier”. Apache Kid Wilderness and beyond.

Hugo surprised us by power hiking / running up the super steep hill near camp – all the way to the top!

Family photo!

Stinky, grubby, and rested. Back to home and work and responsibilities…until The Eleventh Day comes again…

Lake City Ice


We do this drive a lot- cruising through the dry, desert landscape of northern New Mexico heading north to go play. Sometimes we stray only as far as Tres Piedras, camping amongst the pines and climbing towards the sky. Sometimes we cross the border to enjoy the solitude and smorgasbord of routes that Colorado’s San Luis Valley offers up. More often than not we keep going until we cut the engine at Hotel Chamberlain in Montrose. But today we are taking a new direction: heading west into the San Juan Mountains, past my favorite little mining town of Creede, and onwards to the lovely little town of Lake City, Colorado.

It’s a four and-a-half hour drive through some beautiful country complete with craggy rock formations and trails zig-zagging up and up forever, making me just itch to go run them and see what’s on the other side. Hugo’s happily alternating between his truck sticker book and staring outside at the cows and countryside, and alerting us of the occasional “digger” (i.e., anything with big wheels that is yellow).

Desert turns to alpine turns to snow and ice, and we find ourselves at Lake City and decide to check out the ice park first thing.

 

So an ice park is “farmed ice”, meaning it is created in the winter by spraying water in the right conditions on the right kind of terrain so that ice forms.

 

As opposed to “wild” or “backcountry ice”, pictured here, which is basically just waterfalls that freeze in the winter. Here’s Stéphane at Horsetail Falls outside Ouray back in 2012.

One of the rare times we are adventuring sans camper: our cute little cabin rental for the weekend.

Brother Alan, Tom, and Stéphane at the ice park. Beautiful, crisp day for some ice climbing!

Playing in the snow. The green IKEA bucket proves itself to be worth its weight in gold yet again.

Stéphane leading upwards on a beautiful ramp of ice.

Hugo hangs for hours, enjoying the snow and his red car.

This is what it looks like after someone leads a route on ice – there are ice screws that the climber screws into the ice on his way up. He clips the rope into the screw/beaner combo in order to keep himself safe if he falls.

One of the nights we have cheese fondue evening with freshly-baked bread and some yummy fondue cheese. It was really good to catch up with our friends Rene and Belinda- Swiss natives who left their country many moons ago to settle in Lake City.

Hugo practicing his technical fondue skills.

Hugo gets his first guitar lesson from Uncle Tom.

Rene and Belinda teach us how to dance to Swiss folk music.

 

Another blue sky sunshine day! Today was much warmer and less windy than the first day.

 

Fun in the tub.

Man, I haven’t done this in a while and I am already pumped!!

It is super rare for Stéphane and I to get to climb together these days, so this was pretty special!

Hugo goofing off while mommy and daddy climb.

 

Amazing ice formations. Stéphane calls this one “the beard”.

T-Rex wants to swing the ice axe!

 

Beers, gourmet brats and deviled eggs at the Lake City Brewery. The brewery is right next to the ice park (GREAT placement) and has tasty beers and grub.

 

He only wears sunglasses inside.

Shenanigans back at the cabin.

It was really great to catch up with Rene and Belinda again. We hope to see them again soon.

Aunt Melisa shows Hugo how.

Love birds 🙂

An awesomely fun trip to Lake City! We’ll be back soon! (and yes, I know that Hugo needs sunglasses) 🙂

To Internet Outages

By five-fifteen Hugo’s morning milk has been warmed and set quietly at the top of the stairs – just outside his bedroom door – ready for  the six-thirty wake-up-pee-and-back-to-sleep call.  By five-twenty the office is warm and cozy, lit softly by the glow from the paper IKEA lamp, and buzzing with the soothing hum of the heater. Tea is piping hot, computer is awoken, screens burst to life, and work begins.  At least three solid hours of blissful quiet- the most productive of my day.

 

Except not today. Today the internet goes down. So today there will be no work.

And today just so happens to be babysitter day.

So today, Stéphane and I climb some ice. Long overdue and not epic in any way, but wonderful in the way first dates are because it is awkward (total rookie rope tangle), new (it has been so long since we’ve climbed ice together), giddy (just the two of us!), and just plain freakin’ fantastic. 

So here’s to internet outages: may they occur more often and when we least expect, and may they allow us moments to reconnect to ourselves, each other, and to those things that give real meaning to our lives.


2018 in 12 Photos

Browsing through our photos from this past year, I am amazed by all of the things we have been able to do! From hosting family and friends at home base Casa Uva to traveling to Switzerland and Detroit to see family; this year we’ve tackled major (and minor) home improvements, sneaked away for countless climbing trips, and logged some quality time running in the mountains (me). At home we juggled time between working, playing cars with Hugo, and crashing in the den at night, just Stéphane and I, catching up on our favorite shows.

I would also like to mention that we spent six months of this year potty training Hugo. I am VERY proud to say that our little guy is fully potty trained as of 2 years old (this past October).

We are thankful to have careers that we are passionate about and that those careers allow us the time and flexibility to play in the outdoors as much as we do. We work really hard so that we can play really hard. Life is good. Cheers to another year of adventures, family/friend times, climbing trips, and hard work. We are blessed to have our amazing families and circle of friends in our lives. Bring it on, 2019!

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

December Re-Cap


December was a busy month for the Heftis! In between working, house projects, and fun card nights with Tom and Pam (our super fun Cocktail Generation* neighbors down the street), we managed to sneak away for a week to Detroit, chop down our first family Christmas Tree up in the Jemez Mountains, and find time for a short climbing trip to one of our favorite New Mexico hideouts.

We started the month out with a short but wonderful trip back to my homeland, Detroit, MI, to catch up with familia. This was Hugo’s first set of flights where he got his very own seat (and we had to pay for him this time around – wallet says “ouch”).

Santa Fe > Denver > Detroit. We have made a habit of stopping at the New Belgium pub in Denver on our way to and from wherever we are to-ing and from-ing. It’s a great pit-stop and BONUS: high chairs (Hugo tends to actually sit in his chair when he’s up high) and a couch (also for Hugo). Easy button when traveling.

It doesn’t get any better than being home for the holidays. We laughed, drank, and chatted the afternoon away at Founder’s Brewery downtown, just behind the Masonic Temple. Such a fun spot and the best company ever.

Posing outside.

Good times.

 

Bud Light, Euchre, and Grams is my partner – life is good! Oh, and there’s a Bud Light tower on the table. This is most definitely a Trombley gathering.

 

Just the best memories ever at this table in this little kitchen.

 

A visit to the Newmans to meet Sebastien!!! Such a sweet little guy and we enjoyed the afternoon and evening chatting it up and eating some amazing Italian food Chez Newman. Merci beaucoup, Newmans!

 

Hugo got to try his hand at bowling for the very first time while mom, Betty, and Grams were at their weekly bowling league. Hugo’s very first bowling score (with bumpers and help from the dragon ramp) was a 55!

 

Post-bowling gifts, drinks, good catching-up time, food, and laughter @ The Boat Works. Hugo enjoying some “Kristal snuggles” from Aunt Kristal.

 

A week of work, some travel south and we find ourselves back at our favorite hideaway, Red Rock Arroyo, for three days of some awesome climbs and very summery temps (in the 60s!).

 

Getting ready for my first of 3 full and 2 half leads of the trip. This was the most I’ve lead ever! Getting more comfortable in my head on the sharp end. It was also a pleasure to see how well Hugo hung out on his own, playing with Myra and his toys while we climbed.

Topped out on my third lead of the trip. Feeling strong!!

 

Stéphane, of course, leads all the hard routes and is super strong, comfortable, and confident on the rock. I’m always so proud of him.

 

Climbing our butts off while Hugo takes a nap in the camper. This photo illustrates why we love this place: we are climbing right above where I am standing and look how close the camper is – easy button when it comes to climbing and kiddos.

 

Belay shadow.

 

Lots of textures.

Hugo wants to spend the night with Myra. Except Hugo’s a little too big for Myra’s digs. He loves his “Mya” dog.

Full moon at camp

 

On the way back home, we stopped in Albuquerque at the Bio Park for the River Of Lights.

 

I’m cold and there’s too many people 🙂

Joyeux Anniversaire, Papi!!!!

 

$10 gets you an orange tree sticker and a map! We head out into the Jemez Mountains to find our very special first Hefti family Christmas tree!

 

And we found it!! Except you can’t really see it – it’s behind us. But it’s perfect and we love it. Big thanks to Tom and Pam for coming out with us and helping us track down the perfect tree!

Here’s a better picture of it – our tree!

 

She’s all dressed up for the holidays.

 

Opening presents on Christmas Eve. This is a special one because it’s from our V. We love our V.

 

Hugo received a workstation from Tante Silvia et Nani et Nani – merci beaucoup!! Now he can work on projects right next to daddy.

 

T-Rex puppet from Aunt Lorry and Uncle Kev. His favorite gift of all. We went for a Christmas afternoon hike and who came along? T-Rex, of course. Who’s he napping with right now? Give you one guess…

 

Hefti family tradition – Fondue Chinoise!

Baking cookies with daddy.

 

So now you are caught up on all things Hefti in December. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope you have been able to relax and enjoy time with your families this holiday season. Cheers to closing out 2018 and to lots of adventures, hard work and play in 2019. We are looking forward to all of the guests we will have next year, to all of the place we’ll go, to spending time snuggling together in the den, to playing cards in the living room, to regular, boring workdays, to exciting, fun travel days – to it all.

Life is good.

Much Love & Merry Christmas,

Stéphane, Sara, Hugo & Myra-dog

 

 

 

*Cocktail Generation – those who lived in the era when cocktails had a minimum of three ingredients (i.e., NO  gin and tonic, vodka / OJ, etc.).

Stéphane vs. Casa Uva

Stéphane is the Home Improvement Warrior at Casa Uva! The past few months he has been on over-drive: new floor for master bathroom (major project), and 3/a lot of rooms painted fresh, clean, modern WHITE.

 

Project #1: Master Bath Fixer-Upper

The “Before” picture of our master bathroom floor. A month after we purchased Casa Uva, we started to hear popping sounds when we walked into the bathroom. We realized the grout was cracking out from in between the tile.

The exploratory digging begins.

Soft, weak sub-floor removed. Confirmation that supporting joists are still solid (phew).

A layer of dry, clean 2″ x 6″ tongue and groove.

Layer #2: OSB. Creating a STRONG sub-floor!

Layer #3: rubberized waterproofing paint. Goes on PINK, dries red.

Layer #4: cement board is cut to size and laid.

Bonus layer: in-floor heating! This added a bit to the overall budget, BUT warm tile on bare feet on a chilly December morning is aaaaahhhhhhhmazing.

 

Final layer: each tile cut to size and fitted perfectly.

And finally, many layers later, the AFTER picture.

AFTER pic, different angle. OH, in addition to the new, strong, warm, beautiful tile floor, Stéphane also painted the walls and ceiling white: fresh and clean.

 

Project #2: Transforming the den from cave to modern family room

 

BEFORE pic: our den is the darkest room in the house and has only one window. The brown walls (AND ceiling) really make this room feel like a cave. This is a semi-before as Stéphane had already painted the ceiling white.

 

AFTER: white, clean, and modern-feeling. Yes, the walls are a little bare, but we’ll find some fun art. Next stage in this room’s transformation, Stéphane will create a built-in with storage for climbing gear, additional shelving, and a little desk (all on the far wall).

AFTER: different angle.

 

Project #3: Half bath from dingy to bright

Our downstairs half-bath is so small it’s hard to even get a decent picture of it, but here is the BEFORE. Like all the other rooms in Casa Uva, walls and ceiling are brown.

AFTER: bright and happy.

“Creeksgiving” 2018

Our tribe used to gather in Indian Creek, Utah to celebrate Thanksgiving in the time before the secret of this amazing place became widespread knowledge among climbers. Before the trailheads of The Creek were choked with Sprinter vans and its quiet nights shattered by generators to power all-night parties, we enjoyed a quieter kind of celebration here.

It was called “Creeksgiving”.

Mid-November every year, Tom would start the digital conversation with talk of weather and logistics, food lists and time frames. Some of us would head out earlier, climbing towers on our way out; others later, just in time for the food and company. Regardless of when we’d show up at camp, we all made that turn onto UT-211: the turn that took us out of cell service and into The Creek; and we’d all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that we’d entered the world of real-life, face-to-face conversations, beautiful sandstone cracks for days, music around the campfire, dirt under our fingernails, grease on our faces, and smoke in our hair.

These days the secret is out and Indian Creek is overrun. And so these days our tribe meets elsewhere: a place equally beautiful but still quiet and serene. We still get dirt in our fingernails and smoke in our hair. We still get our face-to-face conversations and music around the campfire and amazing climbing. Ray brings the meat and size-six cams; the rest of us fill the gaps with pies and side dishes. Tom brings the spiced cider and jalapeño poppers (there’s usually always a day-wrecker in the bunch). There’s a bottle or three of tequila to pass around the fire at night, a musical ensemble including guitars, banjos, harmonicas, and the flute. Evan wears his safety glasses around the fire and someone inevitably falls in the fire while pallet-dancing.

Our tribe is architects, engineers, pilots, programmers, lawyers, children, a rowdy toddler (guess who); our tribe is athletes, mothers, friends, brothers, sisters, fathers, uncles, aunts (Hugo has so many uncles and aunts, and we love it).

Our tribe is strong.

Our tribe is love.

We are thankful.

 

Driving into camp we passed many cows. Needless to say, Hugo was enthralled.

The gang up at Mangy Crag. This photo taken just before Hugo fell into a cactus and screamed bloody murder. (!!)

 

 

The kiddie section of the crag – we were able to find a nice, fairly flat spot for Hugo and Anna.

A cloudy, colorful sunset.

Digging into the Thanksgiving feast.

Daddy and son relaxing around the campfire.

Stéphane showing off his new Army of Darkness tee (and his fabulous muscles) – back off ladies, he’s all mine!!!!

Giving Hugo a joy-ride around camp.

The tribe around the fire at night.

The many side dishes warming up in the coals.

Hugo enjoyed clambering around on the low rocks surrounding our camp.

He LOVES his yellow car (and rolling his eyes; I did not teach him that one, neither did Stéphane…)

Jamming with daddy.

Melisa cruising Brown Sugar

He loves making faces.

Me starting up Pelvic Floor.

 

A musical evening. Hugo is enchanted by Sarah’s flute.

The gang at the base of Brown Sugar.

Tom cracks a smile belaying Stéphane. The weather finally warmed enough for us to clamber up to Brown Sugar for a quick lap.

Melisa goofing off.

A cool panorama from Brown Sugar.

Susan & Melisa.

The beautiful sandstone crags of Escalante.

Another unreal sunset.

Chords around the campfire.

Pallet fire dancing. It’s a thing with our tribe.

Camp art.










 

Happy Friday from St. George, UT

This week we took a quick road trip to St. George, Utah so Stéphane could attend his company’s safety conference. We were able to multi-task and squeeze in some nice (albeit hot) trad climbs, enjoyed a  couple of cush days at a hotel, and explored a bit of SW Utah.

As I write this, Hugo is napping on the bottom bunk of the Gruffalo. I’ve got my feet up, drinking a Rogue Honey Kolsh and being rocked ever-so-slightly by the multitude of passing HOV’s at Sand Hollow State Park (there’s an ATV rally here today). Stéphane’s across the lake back up in the hills somewhere learning about wilderness survival (while I’m surviving just fine in our luxurious little box on wheels).

This afternoon Hugo and I enjoyed the feeling of red Utah sand between our toes, waved our wands towards the unbrokenly-blue sky, and indulged in some mac n cheese.

Happy Friday to all.

Life is good ❤️

Stéphane leads a beautiful crack climb. Short approach and overlooking the city of St. George. And a super fun climb 🙂

Little Hugo at the crag.

No, those are not sea shells. They are yogurt-covered raisins.

Diggin daddy’s old BD hat.

We were able to get two climbs for the price of one lead! So nice to tape up and climb some crack again!!

Expelliamus!

Toes (and wand) in the sand.

Two

On October Third, our curious, loving, free-spirited little boy turned two.

Sporting a grouse(?) feather he found while on a camping trip up in The Jemez with daddy.

We have all had quite the year together: moving into our first REAL home (like, actually ours and not rented by the month), potty training, lots of climbing trips, a big international trip to Switzerland, and all the little things in between.

Walking Myra around the ‘hood.

 

“Reading” Mr. Paint Pig’s Alphabet in the camper before bed (thanks for the recommendation, Aunt Chris!)

Each passing month we have found our climbing trips a little easier. The game-changer was turning the car seat around to face forward: immediately we noticed how much quieter he became; now able to stare out the window at the landscape, animals, and cars go by.

“Reading” and playing with his cars on his orange blanket next to our climbing spot.

 

No, he’s not at the dentist getting a root canal – it’s Hugo’s first push-up popsicle!

Every time we drive by the hospital (behind which sits the helicopter), Hugo waves and shouts. He loves helping daddy wash the helicopter and is always looking up to the sky when he hears any sky noise.

 

Family climbing trips are becoming much easier and way more enjoyable now that Hugo is able to be a little more independent at the crag.

 

The MVP for this particular trip was the John Deere tractor and trailer.

 

Hugo loves hiking on trails with us, and trail running with momma.

 

Tooth brushing is fun when I can do it with daddy!

 

Veggies at 11,000 feet (Molas Pass). Hug has become a seasoned camper and road tripper.

On his very first international flight this past August, to Switzerland.

Hanging at the crag, munching on a cracker while mommy and daddy get some climbs in.

Happy birthday, sweet little Hugo! We love you to the moon and back!

Climbing and Hiking and Cows – Oh My! (Switzerland 2018)

After bending you over and shaking all the money out of your pockets, the airlines so graciously allow you two checked bags, 50 pounds or less. One of our two bags was filled completely with climbing gear and the other we managed to stuff three weeks’ worth of clothes for Stéphane, Hugo and myself AND a drone that we’d purchased as a present for our nephews, Anthony and Thierry.

Determined to get good use out of the gear, we took the Missanas climbing one afternoon soon after we’d arrived in Switzerland. Stéphane ordered two really great climbing books on the local area and so we had many options to choose from. We decided upon La Tuffières, just a short drive from Neyruz and a short approach. We assemble at the trailhead and hike in together, excited to show Anthony and Thierry how to climb and enjoying just being together. Well, no sooner had Stéphane made it to the top of the anchors but the sky opened up and let LOOSE. I lowered Stéphane and we gathered our gear as quickly as we could, scooped up Hugo, and high-tailed it back to the car. We were all absolutely drenched and completely giddy about it. No climbing on this day but smiles all around nonetheless. It’s good to be with family.

 

One afternoon we went to the local ski hill, La Berra, with Matthieu and his son, Adrien. The lift runs all summer for hikers to access the backcountry and for downhill bikers.

View from the lift: Lake Gruyères in the background. The Missanas live just on the other side of the lake.

Nearing the top of the lift- getting good views of the surrounding mountains.

At the top of the lift, one is met with many options for trails and directions in which to head off. We chose to go to the top of La Bera for the spectacular 360 view. Hugo leads the way!

Matthieu and Adrien pose with some of The Happiest Cows on Earth near the top of La Berra.

The boys throwing rocks at the summit.

Mountains for days.

I take off for a little trail run and meet the boys at a mountain hut for some lunch.

If you are hiking a long distance through the mountains, you can stay at huts like these, in rooms like this.

Hugo outside the hut.

 

Climbing in a magical forest filled with fairies just outside Charmey.

Lots of stuff to climb in the forest.

Hitting up the playground in Charmey on our way back home.

 

Trails and hiking paths are so accessible and prevalent in Switzerland. A short walk down the road from Mami and Papi’s house is a little forest trail which then leads into fields and loops you back into town. It’s a great route for an after-dinner stroll.

Hugo loves his apples.

Corn fields and rolling hills.

Early evening hike.

Hiding in the corn.

 

More happy cows with sweet-sounding bells jangling around their necks.

Stéphane and Hugo spent the day on Île des Osseous with Anthony and Thierry, Silvia, Stéphane (Silvia’s husband’s name is Stéphane also), and the Barts – Gaïlle, Laurent and Loïc.

Lake Gruyères.

 

 

Stéphane celebrated his 38th birthday while we were there.

Happy birthday, my love-bug! Finally the same age as me (for a little bit, at least).

Birthday dinner under the weeping willow with a very good wine from Stéphane’s (and my) birth year.

Raise a glass!

It’s All About the Backyard (Switzerland 2018)

We had an amazing three-week trip to Switzerland this summer! Taking advantage of “kids fly free ’til two”, we booked our tickets for a summer trip The Land of Cheese and Happy Cows before Hugo’s second birthday (this October).

We flew out of the sweet, tiny airport in Santa Fe (smaller even than Montrose!) – an hour closer than Albuquerque and just way easier to deal with. Small airports are THE BEST.

While this was not Hugo’s first plane ride, it was his debut on the International Scene.

 

 

Flights out consisted of: Santa Fe > Denver (1 hour) Denver > Frankfurt, Germany (8.5 hours) Frankfurt > Geneva (1.5 hours)

We left Santa Fe at one o’clock in the afternoon and arrived in Switzerland around ten in the morning the next day. It was a LONG day of flying but Hugo did great sleeping on the floor, wrapped in “blankie” for most of the long flight (during which time we enjoyed the nice meals, drinks, and service of Lufthansa (WAY better than any American airline I’ve ever flown on).

Why pay for a seat on the plane when there’s plenty of room on the floor?

Sané! Kick back and enjoy Maria and Jürg’s lush, colorful backyard and warm hospitality. It’s a bluebird sky, the pre-alps are beckoning in the distance, and the local beer (Cardinal) is tasty and cold. Life is good.

The Hefti’s yard is such a wonderful space to relax and visit. Over the years they have cultivated it to fit their needs: fruit trees, veggie garden, grill, pizza oven, pool. Not sure why Stéphane ever left home!! 🙂

The pizza oven.

 

Cooling down in the pool. Hugo LOVED the pool and was drawn to it every day. His favorite activity was throwing three plastic balls into it and then grunting to one of us to fetch them so he could throw them in again. He then graduated to throwing rocks in, which we had to terminate asap.

The biggest geraniums I’ve ever seen. I noticed a TON of red geraniums hanging out in window boxes (along side vinca vines) all over Switzerland. It seems to be the go-to flower, at least for window boxes.

Cooking up pizzas in the pizza oven!!

One of many meals out on the patio.

Papi serving up some yummy meat that he’d roasted on the grill.

Our backyard domain for three glorious weeks. We did ACTUALLY leave the yard and had many adventures around The CH, but we had equally wonderful times basking in the sun and in each other’s company.

Casa Uva gets a Face Lift


Our home, Casa Uva, has been stripped of her weathered, rotting scales; she is now sporting a more edgy, modern look: we call it gypsy boho. It’s not quite the look we were going for (or paid for, for that matter), but at least she is protected from the elements.

When all is said and done, Casa Uva will flaunt her new curves, color, and style. That is, if the project ever crosses the finish line.

Swaying many feet off the ground on unstable, creaky scaffolding, the crew begins the process of removing the cedar shakes.

Shakes for days.

Weathered, yellow tar paper moves in the wind (and so does the scaffolding).

The crew takes off for the day, trailer heavily-laden with the old cedar shakes.

 

After many false-promises and two weeks of no-shows, a new crew shows up to begin wrapping our girl in Tyvek (waterproofing).

 

Noel and his dad (day 1) and Noel, his wife, and Stéphane (day 2) complete the waterproofing Casa Uva.

 

As I write this it is June 5th.  This project began May 15th and we were told would be completed by the end of the month of May (LOL!).

 

In The Eleventh Hour, just days before leaving for Switzerland, the house is *finally* finished.

 

We love the way it turned out – the style and the color.

View from the rooftop deck. Hooray!!

 

The Telephone Trail

I like looking at maps and running to random places on them.

Recently, I found a paper written about the Jemez Forest Telephone Line, a telephone system that played an integral part in the Forest Service’s campaign against fire in the Jemez Forest from 1906 to the 1940s.

The Jemez Mountains/Forest rise over the town of Los Alamos to the north and west (we lived in the Jemez Mountains for the first six months of or time here in New Mexico). The Jemez Forest Reserve was created in 1905 – an area reserved “for the use and benefit of the people…”. A year later, in 1906, work began on the telephone system that would help protect the area from fire. The telephone system was basically one single, bare telephone wire hung on trees, going from tree to tree to connect the ranger stations and lookouts across the Jemez Reserve. You can still see some remains of the wire and the insulators that were hammered into the ponderosa trees to hold the line.

Hanging the Telephone Line, 1933. Men used climbing spurs to attach telephone insulators twenty feet up in tall, straight ponderosas.

 

Because part of this new telephone line followed the Pajarito Trail (an old trail which existed in the area before the telephones and the government), homesteaders and area locals began nicknaming the Pajarito Trail The Telephone Trail. At the very northern end of The Telephone Trail is the Pine Spring ranger station which served as the forest district’s headquarters from 1918-1940s. Every year the Pine Spring station hosted an annual ranger meeting.

 

What is so special about Pine Spring? What’s it look like there? It sure seems like it’s in the middle of nowhere – which is where I like to go. So, I started researching the area and found a research paper on the telephone line of the Jemez Mountains (the photos and history of which I am sharing in this post).

And decided my next trail run needed to be an exploration of this area and to check out the remains of the Pine Spring ranger station.

 

Myra and I head out for the ten mile run, hitting the trail mid-morning.

 

Desert flower just off the trail.

 

Heading down into Guaje Canyon and then back up the other side.

 

Soaking up the sun and pounding the dirt.

I was surprised by how lush and green it is! These hardy flora and fauna still grow and bloom even in this driest of climates.

Sections of the Telephone Trail were old forest / logging roads.

 

After getting a bit turned around, we finally reach Pine Spring Ranger Station. I was a bit disappointed with the remains. I guess I thought it would be a little more well-preserved. Regardless, an excellent day of exploring on our local trails!

Myra soaking her tired and very sore paws in a little stream that ran through Guaje Canyon. She had a rough final two miles out but she made it back to the car.

Sections of Myra’s paws tore off during the run. I felt horrible! She healed up after a few days though, and joins me on shorter runs now 🙂

Thank you, Telephone Trail, you did not disappoint! A challenging run, beautiful vistas, a few scares on the trail (those pesky free-rangin’ bulls), and a little history made for an excellent excursion and a very memorable Mother’s Day (the rest of which I enjoyed with my  boys upon my return).

 

Reference:

http://permalink.lanl.gov/object/tr?what=info:lanl-repo/lareport/LA-UR-06-3549

 

My Friend Carley

I lost my dear friend Carley this past March. Her favorite color was purple. She loved researching her Swedish genealogy and was passionate about writing. She had an adopted granddaughter named Lizzy who was her world and she loved going to the casino. She was a loyal, loving friend.

We worked together for five years and shared a lot of laughs, stress, and venting sessions. After I moved on from our shared workplace, we stayed in touch: checking in with each other, sharing the ups and downs of life, and rooting each other on.

I was looking everywhere for this poem and finally found it.

Fair winds and following seas, my friend.

 

Hi Sara! Every so often I get inspired to write a little poem for someone special – today it’s your turn and I hope you like it!

Stephane and Sara’s Big Adventure

Stephane and Sara travel far
To land on different shores
Their adventurous spirit carries them
It opens many doors.
Sailing seas, pigs in bays,
Mountain trails, Alps for days
Climbing, exploring, swimming and biking
Meeting new family, friends and hiking.
As the story unfolds they share their joy
It makes me happy to see
It reminds me of the love and life and youth
And of all that, that should be.
God’s speed my friends,
Enjoy the ride!
You are so truly blessed!
Thanks for sharing all you do,
Can’t wait to see the rest!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Love – Carley

(Dec 19, 2015)

Six Days in the Desert

Easing The Gruffalo away from the curb of Casa Uva late Tuesday morning, we felt both the anticipation that the beginning of an adventure brings and that light, floating feeling you get when leaving civilization (and work and email and cell reception) behind (is that freedom?).

We’ve only had her a few short weeks but in that time, Stéphane has worked his everyday magic customizing The Gruffalo inside and out, top to bottom. Some things you can see, like hooks and a special platform insert in the tub to accommodate Myra; some you can’t (which of course are always the most important and functional): securing our new AGM batteries safely to the camper tongue, fixing a water leak, tightening and/or replacing every last loose screw, and, the BIGGIE, which we are super excited about: the installation of two solar panels which provide us with self-sufficiency, as long as we follow the sun.

Not the best picture but you can just barely see the two solar panels that Stéphane mounted to the roof.

Energy from the sun is collected by the panels and then sent to “the brain”: this charge controller is what sends the power into our batteries when they need it, and stops sending the power once they are fully charged.

The solar panel wires feed inside from the roof through the a/c. From there, into the solar controller, and then down into the batteries. Look at the beautiful work Stéphane did to make the wires disappear.

A few shots of the interior of The Gruffalo. She has way more storage than the Baby Bison, lots of natural light, two bunks, and a queen bed (and she’s smaller, lighter, and has better clearance – yay!).

Hugo sleeps on the bottom bunk and we use the top for storage of blankets, books, and toys.

We’ve found that adding different-sized hooks in strategic places really helps with organization and to keep all the little odds and ends in their places when we’re out camping. We have hooks for headlamps, hats, kitchen utensils, camper keys, bottle opener, jackets, etc. The black magazine rack is home base for the essentials: radios, climbing books, maps, camera.

 

The dinette folds down into our bed. It requires a little more work around bedtime but we’d much rather have a smaller, lighter camper so the extra work is no biggie.

 

Plywood platform perfectly shaped by Stéphane to slide onto the bath. Myra’s bed fits on top.

Our first stop was Dolores Canyon, just north of Dove Creek in SW Colorado. We thought we had our directions wrong as we drove past flat farmland down dusty county road 10, then we took a slight left and switched back down, down DOWN into the canyon. Beautiful!

The Dolores River runs through Dolores Canyon. We spent one night here and did some exploratory hiking to check out the climbs.

Lots of pretty lines, and anchors shining in the sun.

Hugo enjoyed the hike, slowly shedding the hat, then the mittens, then the winter onesie as the sun entered the canyon and warmed things up.

He was very interested in the river.

 

Little man cruising down the road.

Dolores Canyon has some great-looking climbs, very reminiscent of Escalante. Unfortunately, not easy-button climbing with Hugo so we’ll be back with the group to climb.

 

Next stop, Indian Creek: where red mesas meet bluebird skies; where friends meet up to climb in the sun all day, straggle back to camp, gather around the fire and exchange stories all night. Below is our camp (Cobbler Camp) – you can just barely see our campers and cars lined up along the end of the dirt road in the foreground.

 

Scraps of paper flutter in the breeze at the Beef Basin Message Board. There is no cell service at The Creek, so this is how people find each other.

 

Golden Hour at Cobbler Camp.

One by one friends and friends-of-friends roll into camp.

 

Annie & Fred, Alissa & Colton, Melisa, Stéphane at the base of Bunny Slope (Critic’s Choice Wall). The steep and slippery hike up combined with the exposed areas below the climbs make it hard-button climbing with Hugo. So we switch it up – Stéphane climbs for part of the day while I hike around with Hugo near camp. Then we trade places.

 

Brian takes a rest.

Gear.

Meanwhile, back at camp…

Tired climbers return from the crag. Light the fire, crack a brew.

 

Evening at The Creek.

Ray grills some amazing meats in our oblong-shaped firepit: perfectly-shaped to accommodate both a blazing fire and a bed of coals for grilling.

Cheers!

 

Those up past their bedtime and alcohol tolerance participate in Stupid Human Tricks.

Wake up, hydrate, and get up that crack! Ray is our off-width (super wide crack) specialist.

 

Large gear. Heavy rack. Big smile.

 

Stéphane had some great days on the rock, putting up some gnarly leads.

 

Up he goes!

 

And up another…

 

Nice work!!

 

Meanwhile, back at camp…

Hugo and I went on some exploratory hikes, Hugo learned about cactus and knows to avoid it, and is proving himself to be a little free-range trailblazer.

And he loves his girl Myra (THE most patient, gentle dog in the world).

Tom and Melisa in their happy place. Good to catch up with them and get some T&M (and P&K) time. We miss our Montrose peeps but we are so fortunate to be able to get together with them in places such as this.

Another wonderful desert adventure in the books. Can’t wait to get out there and do it again soon. Come visit so you can do it with us!

Hugo-stones

“Hugo-stones”: Those milestones that Hugo reaches that are worthy of sharing (the fun, more quirky ones – because do you really care when he first ate with a spoon?)

Two fun ones yesterday:

March 22, 2018:

Hugo’s first attempt at climbing a fence. I demonstrated the proper technique and he was way interested in trying it out. Need to work on foot placement but a good first effort!

Hugo’s first “trail run” – maybe 100 feet, but he was on a trail (Kwage Mesa Trail) and he was MOVING!! I would almost call it a trail sprint. The little guy is fast.

I suppose this one is worthy of sharing too:

December 7, 2017- took first steps.

April 26, 2018 (dad’s birthday!): started potty training.

Look mom- no diapers (ever again)!!!!

Day 3 of TT: first pee in the potty! There is hope…

May 28, 2018: he finally climbed out of his crib. Stéphane removed the front so Hugo is now sleeping in a “big boy” bed.

I’ll add more here as they occur.

Meet The Gruffalo

We would like to introduce the newest addition to The Hefti family: The Gruffalo!

She’s one foot shorter and one foot narrower than The Baby Bison. Way lighter (read: easier towing and better gas mileage), higher clearance, more storage, and better interior layout (bunks! And a dinette that folds down to a queen bed for us).

 

We just returned from taking The Gruffalo out on her maiden voyage with the Heftis. I’m not sure she ever met a dirt road with her previous owners, so we definitely put her through the paces the last few days.

 

We spent a few days at Diablo Canyon – one of our favorite places to climb. Hugo did great sleeping in his bunk bed (we had to add a baby gate + blanket over top to keep him from falling out and to keep his space dark) and our bed – which is actually the dinette folded down into a queen bed – was super comfy thanks to an added foam mattress.

 

We were surprised with how easily we were able to fit the climbing gear, clothing, camping stuff, bedding, etc., into The Gruffalo! Lots of storage for such a little camper! And Stéphane absolutely loves the electric awning.

 

The other day someone asked us why we had a camper versus a tent. Yes, we know we are “glamping” (glamorous camping) but here’s the thing: would we go out and camp/climb/play outdoors with Hugo if we all had to sleep in a tent? Maybe (if we were hard core), but you can bet we wouldn’t do it half as often as we would with a camper. So yes, we know we are “fancy” when we go camp but the point is that we get outside and we get after it and it is something we love to do as a family. Glamp, camp: do whatever you do that you love to do together and that makes you happy!

 

This trip was super enjoyable with Hugo – he is walking so well and is very independent – going on little walks around the campground and around the climbing area while we climb. He is very curious and loves exploring, climbing up on smaller rocks (and of course Myra).

 

Scrambling up our rock at the base of our climbs.

 

The Tilley Hat. Yes, they make them for kids! We found it used for $3. Best. Hat. Ever. Not sure Hugo would agree…

 

Climbing at Styx Wall again. There are many awesome areas to climb here at Diablo Canyon but we come here to the Styx Wall because it is the easy button with Hugo: short hike in and the base of the climb is a sandy wash – basically a giant sandbox for the Hug-ster.

 

A rather large sand box.

 

Fun in the sun.

 

I need to keep a copy of this one in every room in the house, so when Hugo is acting up I can remember his awesome-sweetness potential and not give up hope.

 

Can you believe he still bums rides? The Time of the Pack is nearing its end… (little dude is heavy).

 

We had a great time testing out The Gruffalo and climbing in Diablo Canyon!

The Story of The Baby Bison

We moved to Maine in January of 2016. By March of 2016, the realization that Vacation Land was not our cup of tea was in full effect. But you can’t just leave a job after a month because you don’t like the bugs/weather/indifferent neighbors/suffocating trees. Reluctantly pulling on our grown-up pants, we committed to making the best of Maine for one year and started planning our exit strategy. Part of that strategy involved logistics: how do we get our stuff from A to B? While the “B” was at the time unknown to us, we DID know that it would be somewhere Out West.

Do you know how much it costs to rent a U-Hail to go from A to “B”? Two thousand dollars! Yup, I was shocked as well. You know what you can buy for $2K? Eight hundred dozen eggs (organic, cage free)! Twenty-five pairs of Salomon trail running shoes! Thirteen and one-third 60m climbing ropes OR…one third of a toy hauler.

Instead of throwing all those dollars at U-Haul, we threw them (x3) at a nice man from Virginia. VA Man posted his little toy hauler on Craigslist; and one snowy day in December, after searching and searching for the right RV for us, Stephane finds it. The only problem? Virginia is 15 hours away (and 15 hours back), we are both exhausted from Hugo (two months old), and Stephane’s shift begins in three days. You would think these things would deter Stephane, but let’s be honest: nothing deters Stephane when he’s made up his mind.

Two days later, road-wearied, but excited, Stephane returns with The Baby Bison / Escape Pod (yes, we name our “homes” – I suppose it is because we’ve had so many over the years it helps us keep track). The reason behind the name? Our new camper is a mini version of The Great White Buffalo + the means to helping us escape Maine.

 

Baby Bison takes a break from its travels @ Hurd House.

 

So, what’s a toy hauler? I really didn’t have a clue until we started researching campers. A toy hauler is basically a camper with an interior “garage” space. This allows you to haul your ATVs, dirt bikes, mountain bikes, motorcycles; whatever your toy of choice may be. Regular campers have beds and dinettes and immovable walls that make it hard to pack large things. PLUS, regular campers have one small door in which to enter while a toy hauler has a side door AND a giant ramp that opens up in the back making loading all your toys (or belongings) a breeze.

 

The ramp! Queen bed up top, couch folds out to bed below.

 

Everything we own packed in tight, made the trip across the country to “B” (New Mexico).

 

When you aren’t using the “garage”, queen bed lowers down and couch folds out and garage space becomes sleeping space.

Our little Baby Bison also came with a kitchen and bathroom! Not bad for an 18 foot RV.

 

The bathroom. Believe it or not, there’s a full-size shower in there. We used it as a closet/extra storage space (who showers when they’re camping anyways?)

 

The BB made it possible for us to move all of our things across the country AND have a home-away-from-home while on climbing trips.

We’ve explored Tres Piedras, Comales Canyon (pictured here), El Rito, Diablo Canyon, and our local County Road 376 up in the Jemez with The Baby Bison.

BB has taken us on Colorado adventures up in Creede, Escalante, and Montrose.

 

And it’s housed us for simple day trips just to get out, enjoy the sunshine, climb (or work), and be together.

 

It’s been a giant playpen for Hugo,

(working on his pull-ups here)

a shelter from the elements,

our home base,

 

and our home away from home.

Thank you for giving us cool memories like this,

and for enabling us to get to places like this.

 

Thank you, dear little Baby Bison, for all the miles and all the fun! We hope you will be well-cared for with your new owners!

 

Apache Kid Wilderness

So back in the day, mid-late 1800s, lives this Apache guy named Haskay-bay-nay-ntayl (the Apache Kid, for short). He’s kidnapped by the Yuma Indians as a child and is later freed by the U.S. Army, after which he lives as a beggar-boy orphan, running feral around the army camp. A teenage Kid enlists with the U.S. Cavalry as an Indian Scout and shows mad skills on the job; does so well over the years that he climbs the ladder all the way up to sergeant. Then things go south: drunken fights, some people get killed, the Kid does some time in Alcatraz, in and out of prison; eventually escapes. From there it’s spotty and legend-ish: some say he was killed in 1894 by angry ranchers who caught him stealing their cattle in the San Mateo Mountains (present day Apache Kid Wilderness). Some report seeing him down in mountains of Chihuahua in Mexico, others say they saw him living amongst the Apache of the Sierra Madre Occidental (W. Mexico) as late as the 1930s. There are many stories and sightings. Here is the man himself:

 

The Apache Kid, namesake of The Apache Kid Wilderness.

 

Stéphane, Hugo and I spent five days in The Apache Kid Wilderness, a four hour drive south of Los Alamos Base Camp. We read of a scenic, isolated rock face filled with climbs just steps from camp: this combination is music to our ears (read: easy button with Hugo).

 

Expressive rocks here at our camp.

Our home for nearly a week. We saw not one soul until the day we left, five days later!

 

Perfect pairing: crackling campfire + brisk, moon-filled night.

 

Luna Campground is an ACTUAL campground – like with fire pits and picnic tables – VERY fancy. We typically do not stay in such places but Camp Luna is free and central to so many climbs it wouldn’t make sense to crash anywhere else.

 

Taking advantage of the many nooks and crannies to hide out from the wind one night. And play Yahtzee.

 

So many stars.

 

Hugo tries out a headlamp.

The evenings get cold pretty quickly so we log some camper time with Hugo before he hits the hay.

 

Perfect pairing #2: warm milk + Mr. Snuggles.

 

Smokey says: “Let’s climb!”

 

Perspective on just how close the climbs are to camp. While Hugo naps, we get in as many laps as we can.

 

Climbing with Hugo has always been hit or miss and lately, as he grows more mobile, we’ve been posting more losses than wins. Yet here at Red Rock Arroyo, we post a “W” as Hugo comes into his own: exploring the area while we climb, he stumbles around in the sand, pushing the stroller, helping daddy with the rope, and showing interest in what his parents are doing fifty feet up in the air.

 

Rocking the winter onesie and his new “real” shoes (they have soles).

 

Myra: patience ad infinitum.

 

Cool shot looking down on camp and out into the Apache Kid Wilderness.

 

Pushed myself to the top of this sandbagged route. The climbing here is mostly sport; very enjoyable, different routes. I even got another lead under my belt, thanks to Stéphane’s encouragement.

 

This one’s for our climbing Team Ducktape friends, The Lunas 🙂

Fun in the sun.

 

Hugo scrambling around at The Box. Day five we head north, towards home, to check out the climbing near Socorro, NM (“The Box”).

 

Love the font they used for this BLM sign-in kiosk: old school. Placed atop the box: an arrowhead, some kind of animal tooth / nail, and a conglomerate-type rock.

 

Top rope climbing area just beyond the camper. We enjoyed a fun morning of climbing with a really nice group and Hugo got to play with some kiddos.

 

The Apache Kid Wilderness spoke to us and we will be back!

 

The Apache Kid Wilderness is quiet, vast, and riddled with Wild West history. In iteration #102 of how the Apache Kid (center) met his death, the Kid is captured by ranchers (the Anderson posse) who lived in the very area where we explored. Angry at the Kid for stealing their cattle, the posse kill him. Today, one mile from the Apache Kid Peak high in the San Mateo mountains, a marker stands as The Apache Kid’s grave (no, I haven’t found it yet, but I will).

Fifteen Months

My name is Hugo Jürg Hefti and I am fifteen months old.

 

There are tons of playgrounds in our new town. Mommy and Daddy found one that has the perfect-sized steps and slide for me. I go down head-first all the time. Because if it isn’t dangerous, it isn’t worth doing!

My first words were: “blah blah, blah blah, blah blah” in a very sing-song, sarcastic tone, JUST LIKE momma when daddy talks shop…(mom says “oops”)…

 

Words I can say in addition to blah blah: mama, buh-bye, and *sometimes* dadddda

My favorite things are my books. I pick the one I want to read and bring it to mom or dad. Baby Farm Animals, My First Counting Book (Little Golden Books from Grammie) and Polk-A-Dot (thank you Krugmans) are my current preferred reading material.

 

Baby Farm Animals is the best!

 

I also enjoy my Hello! (Highlights) magazine that Dr. & Mrs. B send me every month.

I took my first steps on my Nani’s birthday – December 7th. Also pictured here are Mr. Snuggles and Mrs. Hedgehog (before her dryer accident, now we call her Grandma Hedge).

 

Toilet paper was sooooo three months ago.

 

The new thing is ladders.

 

Mom takes me hiking all over the place. I really like being in my pack, except for when mom tries to “run” – it gets a little bouncy. Now that we live near pavement, she runs with me in the stroller – WAY smoother.

I also get rides in “the chariot”. This thing is pretty slick. Now that it’s winter, mom puts the plastic covers down to keep out the cold and a blanket over me and we cruise around town.

Mom and dad like to climb up rocks. They take me with them on their climbing trips – we get to sleep in the camper and hike around all over the place. When I’m bigger, I’ll climb with them too.

 

For now, I just practice on the low rocks. Mom and dad even bought me a climbing harness and a helmet! I’ll be big enough to fit into them soon.

 

When we go on climbing trips, I get to sleep in my cool little tent.

 

I like scrambling around on rocks and being outside. It’s the best.

 

I can eat with a fork and spoon now (sort of). Yogurt and oats is the easiest to eat. Applesauce is a bit runny and I usually get more on myself than in my mouth.

Daddy’s my favorite. Mom’s okay too, but daddy is just so cool.

 

I helped daddy wash his helicopter the other day.

I have my own helicopter too! It’s from Nanni and Ninni. It’s a magnetic puzzle. Sometimes I can get the main roter on but mom has to help me with the other pieces.

 

I like to steal mom and dad’s phones – these phones are very interesting to me. It seems that they are supposed to be for talking but I see people stare at them more than talk to them. Mom always takes her phone away from me when I find it – ugh! That makes me scream.

I have eight teeth now and I just started brushing them! I really like the apple-flavored training toothpaste. I ask mommy to put it on my toothbrush and then I suck it off. She tries to brush my teeth but I run away!

 

 

I share the floor with this other creature – her name is Myra. She has stinky breath and likes to lick my face. Whenever I eat, Myra stays REALLY close to me. Sometimes I throw food on the floor not because I don’t want it, but because I know Myra REALLY wants it. It tastes WAY better than her food (I know because I ate some back when I was a baby, and it did not taste right).

 

I try my best to help out at home. Here’s me helping with the laundry.

 

And I help in the kitchen too! Mostly I pull all of items out of my special drawer and lay them on the floor so mom can see what’s available.

 

Just last night I started playing hide and seek with daddy! I go into the cupboard and close the door. Then I wait for a second, open the door, and scream! You wouldn’t believe it, but mommy and daddy are SO surprised EVERY time – it’s like they forget where I am or something. They’re a little weird when they pander to me like that.

 

I made my mark in the basement! Mommy and daddy are going to keep track of my height on the basement pole, just like Grammie and Grampie did for mommy and Uncle Pete & Dan when they were little. Fifteen months!

 

 

Life in Los Alamos & photo catch-up

A photo catch-up of our life in northern New Mexico (since the last post was so wordy)

We bought a house! I like to call it the Ugly Duckling because even though real estate is so hot in Los Alamos, no one wanted to touch this one with a ten foot pole (except us). Projects have begun.

And I won’t bore with you with all of them, but here’s a few of the fun ones:

The entryway: Stéphane build a storage bench + mirror. The seat flips up for shoe storage beneath.

 

The living room: the previous owner took his wood-burning stove. Stéphane installed this super cool natural gas fireplace.

“Light Among The Ruins” in Jemez Springs, NM – farolitos (brown paper bags with a little sand for weight and a candle inside) line the old pueblo ruins. An annual event around Christmas-time.

 

 

The photos don’t capture the beauty of this evening!

 

Inside the ruins of the old church.

 

Work-wise, Stéphane and the crew of Classic 1 Los Alamos have been working hard taking good care of the injured people in our community. The scenery of northern New Mexico is beautiful, particularly where we are in Los Alamos and the Jemez Mountains.

 

Helping daddy wash the helicopter!

 

Hugo is in constant motion these days: walking, running, dancing, climbing, “swimming”, and falling.

Jammin’ out to Buffalo Soldier. Already he has better moves than mommy and daddy (sigh).

 

First time at the pool! Thank you Cindy & Sally for the life jacket!!

 

Clambering around in the dirt (and eating some of it).

 

Hanging out with his girl, Myra.

 

Pulling his little wagon around the living room.

 

*Almost* big enough for his little hand-me-down trike (from cousin Jack – thank you Jack!).

 

Rocking the yellow puffy.

 

Since I don’t fly a shiny helicopter, posts about my job are not nearly as exciting. So instead of that pretty bird, here’s my face – grinning because I’m on one of a PLETHORA of awesome trails in the area – and I’ll tell you that my business is growing and doing very well! I’ve added another client this past year and am enjoying both the challenge of working for myself and of mommy-ing. We are blessed that we get to keep Hugo home with us all the time and still both work. Some days are more trying than others but our little family rocks and makes it happen.

 

Myra will be eight years old this year. She is still out pounding the dirt with me, running her tail off.

 

This week we took a little trip to check out “the best bouldering in New Mexico” (Ponderosa). We had never bouldered before but thought it might be something fun to try, especially with Hugo running around now.

 

Stéphane scampers up the routes.

Me: what now???

Digging the crash pad.

Assessment of bouldering after trying it for the first time: glad we BORROWED the crash pad and didn’t invest in one 😉 We’re climbers – give us a rope and some vertical rock and let us go that-a-way.

 

We SO look forward to having visitors! Thank you to all of our family and friends who have come down to The Land of Enchantment to stay and play with us. You ALL have an open invitation!!! Please come!!

 

Mom & Dad!

 

Tom & Melisa came out for the Fourth of July – our first visitors!

We had a blast checking out the local climbing area.

 

Stéphane’s parents, Maria and Jürg, came out for a visit from Switzerland! We enjoyed showing them the trails, local hot springs, and they even came out on a camping/climbing trip with us.

Maria and I jamming around the campfire.

A fun climbing trip to Tres Piedras.

Hugo’s Auntie V came out to visit us from chilly Maine.

Albuquerque Hot Air Ballon Festival was amazing. We went to “the glow” in the evening where the balloons are inflated but stay tethered to the ground.

 

Magical

Had to get a photo of that one 😉

Brother Dan and his girlfriend Jess came to visit (twice now, yeah!).

 

You are now caught up on all things Hefti! Come visit us in Los Alamos! It is a beautiful area and we will show you a good time 🙂 To all our friends and family, Happy New Year! Here’s to a fabulous 2018 for you all. We are so blessed to have each and every one of you in our lives!


Camino Uva

 

Buying a home in Los Alamos – at least in the current market – is a daunting enterprise. The scenario plays out something like this:

  1. Asbestos-ridden, lead paint-filled, temporarily-built-barrack-for-the-Manhattan-Project house goes on the market with professional photographs of professionally-staged rooms. Sellers list the deadline for which they will accept all offers (yes, offerS- plural: because there will be many).
  2. Potential buyers tour said house and have anywhere from a week to ten days to put in an offer. Buyers may choose to write a Letter To Seller – anything to help sway the cause in their favor. (I know this sounds ridiculous but in places where homes are few and buyers are many, buyers need an edge: you play the sympathy card or the empathy card or the chummy card or whatever card you have in order to get your hands on some real estate).
  3. Sellers get multiple offers for their house, many of which are OVER the already-inflated asking price (because there are way more buyers than homes), and pick the highest offer (unless the Letter To Seller hits a chord and they are such saps that they decide to sell their house based on their emotions on not their bank account).
  4. The rejected buyers hang their heads, go back to the drawing board (Zillow) and sit and wait for the next over-priced death-trap of a home to pop onto the market.

And that, in a nut-shell, is how you buy a home in Los Alamos. *

 

* Unless you’re a Hefti.

 

We’d hoped to buy a home that we could afford to pay off in fifteen years. That is, until we realized what homes were going for, after which, expectations were quickly adjusted. We toured a few of the previously-described asbestos-ridden, low-ceilinged, low-light homes with little-to-no love on our end. The problem with Los Alamos, for us, is that the homes are packed in, tight as sardines – not much privacy, not much land.

Here’s what Los Alamos looks like:

The town spreads out over several finger-shaped mesas (flat mountains) with canyons in between. Limited land to build on means houses don’t have much breathing room. And many of the homes were built in the era of asbestos and lead and were all of a very similar shape (rectangular) and style (dark, galley kitchens, “cubby” rooms – i.e., NOT open floor plan). Our plan to combat these issues was to find a home that backed up to a canyon (most don’t), one that was built within the last forty or so years (many aren’t), and one that had some CHARACTER, one that spoke to us (none had yet).

 

Enter The Ugly Duckling a.k.a. The House on Camino Uva:

Yes, she’s a little rough and that is why no one wanted her. Because of this, we were able to negotiate a For Sale By Owner, saving quite a bit in realtor fees.

 

And there you go – the money shot. View from the rooftop deck to the canyon beyond. Natural beauty, peace, solitude, and privacy.

 

View from the back of the house. We fell in love with all of the south-facing windows, natural light, and uniqueness.

 

Wall of windows (living room, below), rooftop deck (above).

 

The story of how Camino Uva came to be ours spans many months, phone calls and emails to the owners. It also includes a six-hour drive to visit with Roy & Jane at their Colorado home and beaucoup hours spent on the internet researching how one purchases a home in New Mexico.


But in the end, on November 16th, 2017, we sat down at the title company, signed our names twenty-five or so times, drained a ridiculous amount of money from our savings, and then drove to our very first home together. We’ve owned – and called home – a sailboat and a camper but never an actual house. We are stoked!

A sneak peek at a few of our first (of many) projects:

Before: the owner heated the first floor of the house with this wood stove. He wanted to take it with him when he sold, and that was fine with us. Our plan was to put in a gas fireplace in the chimney, thus freeing up more space in the living room.

 

Two grinders, ten masonry blades, and hours of manual chiseling later, Stéphane gets a nice, clean opening in the chimney for our fireplace.

 

Supporting structure inside chimney built out and ready for the fireplace.

After: the fireplace! We love it – modern, quiet, and low-maintenance.

The amount of work Stéphane put into this project is indescribable. You see the end result, a beautiful fireplace, but what you don’t see is the hours of labor, sweat, trouble-shooting, measuring, and cutting. You don’t see all of the piping that had to be re-done inside the chimney and all of the internal guts of the chimney that had to be rearranged in order to make this sucker fit. Stéphane is a genius. And he’s in his element, just like we’re back on the Free Range again except way more square footage and tons more projects (heaven).

 

Project #2: Here’s our entryway – the front door is to the left of where the two-by-fours are leaning. It’s kind of an odd space, right? Not very big but kind of a waste of space – what do you even DO in this room?

Looking out towards the back of the house from the weird, empty entryway space.

After: Stéphane built a gorgeous storage bench for the entryway AND made this super fun mirror happen. The top of the bench opens up and we have storage for shoes beneath.

I absolutely love this! Next step is to paint the walls a very light, neutral gray.

 

Brother Dan and Jess came to spend Christmas with us! Jess brought the turkey but forgot the pan (doh!). The boys are improvising with some tin foil.

 

Dishin’ up. We had a feast! Turkey, green beans, and Stéphane’s homemade stuffing.

 

Enjoying “Christmosas” in the living room.

 

Merry Christmas!

It wouldn’t be a Trombley gathering without a little euchre!!

 

Annnnnnd…back to projects! This is the downstairs guest bedroom / office. We’ve primed over all of the stain drips, painted the trim, and the walls are now ready for a fresh coat of paint.

 

Here’s Hugo at 15 months. Nothing to do with the post other than the fact that I know mom and grams are trolling the site hoping for some photos of this little guy – there will be lots more coming on the next post, I promise! xo

 

Thanksgiving in Escalante

It’s been an annual tradition going on twenty years now. Some folks, like Tom, are solid fixtures – showing up to the campsite (and in most cases claiming it) like clockwork every year. Others make more spotty appearances, their attendance affected by the demands of their lives: children, careers, relationships, health, finances, travel.

 

Since we started joining in the annual Thanksgiving celebration, Stéphane and I missed a few consecutive years due to our sailing adventure and our Maine misadventure. So this year we were determined to go – no matter that we had just bought a house two days before or the seven-hour drive – these things are small potatoes and well worth the effort to overcome in exchange for a few days of camaraderie, climbing, and cavorting in the desert.

Hanging out in camp surrounded by the beautiful red walls of Escalante Canyon. Some folks hang with the kiddos, while the rest head out to climb up at the crags.

 

Hugo and daddy at camp.

 

The Logans come in with slick camper AND potato gun.

 

Starting the campfire early – well before sunset – to generate coals upon which to cook food and to keep the general population warm and toasty.

Kim splits some wood for the fire.

 

 

Hugo layers up with puffy, hat, and mittens.

 

I noticed a new green tab in Tom’s binder of campfire songs: “Songs for Kids” (Uncle Tom rocks).

 

Hugo has his own little camp chair, compliments of John Bass & Tom (thanks, guys!) and is absolutely entranced by the other little people at camp.

Pre-Thanksgiving prep: practicing our pallet dance moves before the big night. (Ray, Matt, Andy, me, Charlie, and Sage).

 

 

Bath time in the Escape Pod. Hugo fits in the little sink just perfectly (for now).

 

Thanksgiving morning! Let’s make some coals, prep the protein, and go earn our turkey dinner!

 

Me on Honey Badger at Green Machine wall. Climbing is not as easy as it used to be, pre-Hugo. Stéphane and I split our time between the wall and hanging with “Huges” at camp. Today we brought him up to Green Machine and he hung in his pack ‘n’ play with one of us while the other climbed. It worked well until nap time.

 

Hanging with Hugo at the crag. Looking forward to when he’s a little older and can clamber around safely outside the confines of the pack n play.

My turn to climb again. Working my way up Stick Up.

Camp yoga.

 

Camp kids playing with Hugo in the Escape Pod.

 

The climbers make their way back to camp late afternoon and the prep for Thanksgiving dinner begins. Lots of side dishes in tin foil cooking away on the giant pile of coals.

 

Ray brought is smoker and his skills! Delicious, juicy turkey, Ray!!

 

It’s wine time!

 

Dish up!

 

Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family around the campfire.

 

Patrick and Matt bask in the golden glow.

 

Doug and Heather show up and we are treated to some folksy, bluesy, harmonies.

 

Check out that bass.

 

A little more wine, please!

 

Rocking out to Tom’s newest addition to the campfire songs – Top Rope Hero.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

Time to hit the road and head south for our new home in Los Alamos. Hugo munches on tomatoes.

 

Another wonderful Thanksgiving is in the books: perfect weather, a wonderful assembly of friends and family, good food, drink, and music. We turn our heads south and head to our new home (we bought a house, people!!!) and prep for the next adventure!

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