Wherein the Heftis share lots of yummy meals with Trombleys & Co., celebrate the holidays, explore the area, and find the rhythm in the everyday.
Buying a house, sight-unseen in a place you do not know can have its challenges. But Stéphane and I had the best group of house rustlers we could ever ask for.
Team Trombley performed daring trespassing maneuvers and random “cold knocks” on front doors; they took countless video walk-throughs and perfected the “slow creep” drive-by. Fearless leader/real estate agent Crystal, who weathered our wishy-washiness like the true professional that she is, guided the pack to victory.
We’d been sending Dan and Jess, mom and dad out on countless real estate excursions. We were searching for the right place but had no idea what we were really searching for. Initially, the criteria was: no HOA (so we could keep our camper), some land, somewhere quiet, but close enough to Dan and Jess. As we progressed through the search, we decided we wanted to be on the water with a dock in the backyard. We fell in love with a few homes but lost them because the real estate market out here is pretty crazy and competitive.
Home after home was crossed off the list: beautiful but too far away; too expensive; floors too creaky; too much road traffic; too small; no water; not enough land. But mostly, the words we heard on a daily basis were “under contract”, “under contract”, “under contract”.
It was early October and Casa Uva was about to go on the market for the week. In preparation, we tiptoed the fine line between sterile house (because we need to pack our stuff) and nicely staged home (so people can imagine themselves living in it). Boxes slowly filled, received a Sharpie label, and were then stacked neatly in the basement. Stéphane was getting ready for his epic week-long bike journey through the mountains of Colorado and Utah. And we were sending our Virginia Real Estate Crew on what felt like a daily wild goose chase.
Wednesday, October 7th, I was poking around on Google Maps in satellite mode, as I tend to do. I enjoy looking at the world as a bird would; searching for new trails to run on and wild lands to explore and camp. I zoomed in on Dan and Jess’s oddly-shaped neighborhood – it’s so easily-identifiable from above: the saggy little dipper hovering over a swath of green forest.
I looked at the homes in “the dipper” and noticed one with a pretty blue pool in the backyard. And I texted our group (Dan, Jess, and Stéphane):
The next day, Thursday, October 8th, the house with the pretty blue pool in the saggy dipper neighborhood five doors down from Dan comes on the market.
I kid you not.
On Friday, October 9th, we had a home.
When we started the Virginia house hunt, we had no clue what we wanted. When we finished it, we still didn’t know what we wanted. But The Big Man Upstairs, he knew what we needed.
We’ve been in our sweet little home for nearly two months now. Hugo loves having Uncle Dan and Aunt Jess just down the street (as do we) :). The neighborhood is quiet and filled with children, playgrounds and good people. There’s a Lidl down the street that sells Raclette cheese and a local brewery with the best Hazy IPA. Stéphane’s picking up a shift in Wyoming this week while Hugo and I hold down the fort.
Merry Christmas to all, wherever you may be this year!
Good night grippy rocks of Las Conchas, rising above the chattering East Fork creek. Thank you for all the fun climbs and social times; cold water rushing over bare feet, sweaty fingertips sliding off polished rock; flip flops clacking down the easy ramblin’ trail. One-armed push-ups on the footbridge; first leads.
Sleep tight, Las Conchas.
Good night San Antonio Hot Springs. I have lost count of the times we’ve hiked, biked, run, and driven that final, bumpy five-mile stretch to come see you. We will miss your warm pools, hail storms, quiet solitude (on a rare occasion) and (more often) camaraderie amongst fellow spring-visitors. Your hot waters soothed and views of the rock faces opposite you stoked curiosity and desire to explore; I swear we could have climbed them.
Sleep tight, San Antonio Hot Springs.
Good night Red Rock Arroyo. I will miss you more than any other place. You saw Hugo grow from a baby to a boy. You were witness to me leading way outside of my comfort zone; the giant rattlesnake, the making of many shadow creatures against our nightly cave campfire, night-time Yahtzee games; a Vick’s Peak attempt on Pete’s birthday (thwarted by the deep snow); the time Myra found the half-decomposed deer head and chewed on it nonstop (and the next time; we tried to hide it but she found it again). Every day filled with climbing in the sun (and sometimes wind) and enjoying the solitude of the New Mexican wilderness. Of all the places I’d like to go to “one last time” in New Mexico, it’d be here.
Sleep tight, Red Rock Arroyo.
Good night my sweet local trails. Thank you for providing me instant solitude, for always challenging, and for giving me the feeling of wildness, even while in town. What a pleasure to spend time sweating, falling, hurting, smiling, and pushing myself on your steepness. I even did it on a bike once or twice 🙂 Stéphane transformed himself on your trails, in more ways than one. Hugo learned to ride a bike during our time here, and came to love and hate your turns and climbs.
Sleep tight, Three Bears, and you too Cabra. Don’t let the bed bug bite, Pajarito Trail and Guaje Ridge.
Good Night Casa Uva, our Los Alamos gem of a home. You were a diamond in the rough, but Stéphane was able to polish you up. We leave you shiny, fresh, and ready for your new owners. You were a lot of work but you were fun. Thank you for the amazing views, for providing us a place to make memories, make laughter; to work hard, to play hard, and to raise our son for a few years.
Sleep tight, Casa Uva. Thank you for keeping us safe and warm and surrounding us with such natural beauty; for letting us transform you, for all of the enjoyment you provided. May your new owners enjoy your odd spaces and quirkiness just as much as we did.
Good night Erin & Randy and little Caylynn. Erin, I will miss our playground and wine dates, and Cowboy Breakfasts; I will miss your impromptu drive-bys on Sunday mornings; Sammies and brews at Boese, pizza and chill time at Casa Uva; games and chill time at your place.
Sleep tight Warrens. Enjoy your new digs, keep each other close, and know we are only ever just a phone call away. We love you.
Good night, Regeles. Here’s to our fun getaways- ice climbs in Lake City, and skiing and snow fun in Pagosa Springs; dinners and a few date nights! Laura, thank you for welcoming Hugo into your home and giving him fun-filled days with you and your boys. Oh, and that damned, beloved drift bike – it’s got about 1000 more miles on it since you gifted it to him; the hit of the neighborhood here :).
Sleep tight, Regeles. We’ll be seeing ya down the road, I do not doubt. Take good care in the meantime. Much love.
Good night, my dear Holmses. Such a short but sweet time we had together. We were so engrossed with sharing stories of our sailing adventures and mishaps that we never paused to take a photo together! So I’ll leave a blank space below and fill it in with a photograph from the first adventure we will take together – will it be a Caribbean charter? An adventure in the Swiss Alps? Let’s find out …!
Sleep tight, dear friends.
Good Night Tom and Pam. Who would have thought that a saucy Cajun and his pretty redhead wife would end up our Los Alamos besties? Countless games of euchre; Tomahawk steaks, Clyde Maes, muffulettas, fondues, and many other wonderful meals shared together. Bike rides, travel slide shows, morning window-waves, endless conversations and stories.
Sleep tight, friends. We look forward to our next meal shared together, wherever that may be. And Tom, I do believe that you and I left the stage as the Reigning Euchre Champions.
Good Night Classic Family: Keith, Rachel, Nikki, Kevin. Good Night Ivan, Geoff, Danielle. Good Night Jason – keep them safe. Good night Patrick. Keep working hard, staying safe, and being the good people that we know and love.
Sleep tight, crew. May our paths meet again one day.
Good Night Los Alamos, parting is such sweet sorrow. For now, we head off to the next adventure and close the chapter on our time in northern New Mexico. We will forever hold dear our friends, memories, and times spent in this special place.
At the shrill little “ding” which was Stéphane’s night pilot texting to let him know he was officially off for the day, I hopped on my mountain biked and zoomed off for a quick ride on the trails before dark descended. Up Camino Uva, across the open space by the baseball fields, through the stables (go slow so you don’t spook the horses), and on to one of my favorite fast, flowy trails – all the way to the end of Kwage Mesa. I was able to catch the sun setting on the Sangre de Cristos at the overlook: oranges, purples and greens mixing with the growing shadows.
My heart was heavy this evening and my thoughts were filled with my Aunt Sheryl who was in the hospital. My childhood memories of her include a boisterous, lively, short, spiky-haired woman and Randy (“Randawg”), her husband – a quiet, mellow, craft beer-loving hippie type. They lived on the west side of the state so we didn’t see them or their two daughters, my cousins Genna and April, all that often. My phone rang showing “Home” calling – perhaps mom has some news to share about Aunt Sheryl. But the battery on the phone died before I could answer so my questions had to be stowed away for the ride home.
That evening as I rode home, I said a prayer for Aunt Sheryl and Randy and Genna and April. It made me sad that I couldn’t even remember the names of Genna’s children. I had never met them. It was getting dark as I passed the baseball fields. Every ten feet or so, the sidewalk was lit up by small concrete lanterns. It brought up a memory of when we first moved to Los Alamos and were looking for a home. We’d driven up onto North Mesa and by the house that would eventually be ours; it was evening, the little concrete lanterns shone cheerily and I thought, “I want to live here”.
And now we are leaving our small mountain community for the next adventure.
Hello and goodbye, little concrete lanterns.
That was yesterday evening.
This afternoon, “Home” lights up on my cell phone and I think I already know what I’m going to hear. It’s mom and she tells me Aunt Sheryl passed away just an hour ago. Just an hour ago Hugo and I were playing with his stuffed animals on his “big boy bed”. Just an hour ago Stéphane was out on a flight – his last in Los Alamos. Just an hour ago Dan and Jess were at the gym. So much can change in so short a time.
My heart hurts for Randy, Genna, and April. It hurts for Aunt Sheryl’s siblings: my dad, Uncle Mike, Aunt Sharon, and Aunt Shelley.
Siblings can be a mixed bag. Maybe you grow up together but you grow apart as adults. Maybe you never liked each other as children and the sentiment continues on through life. I don’t know the relationship Aunt Sheryl had with her siblings but I know the relationship I have with mine. I would do anything for Dan or Pete. Not even a question.
So as we pack boxes and make plans for our move to Virginia, I am happy and hopeful and excited about the time that we will get to spend with my brother Dan and with Jess. We’re going to grill meats and swim and laugh and play cards and workout; I’m going to make Dan babysit Hugo and teach him the rules of football. We’re going to work hard, study hard (Stéphane), play hard (Hugo), and adventure all around Virginia. It’s a new backyard and we’ve got some fun playmates to explore with.
So here’s to siblings: may you have them and may you love them. Give yours a call tonight, just ’cause.
Both Stéphane and my little brother Dan share the same birthday, August 20th. I love that these two amazing men in my life share this day but also that they share a wonderful friendship. It makes my heart glad. So here’s to my sweet Bug-Zilla and Daniel-son- happy birthday!!
Chama, New Mexico is a tiny little town in Northern New Mexico that we had never really seen until this past trip. We always drove just up to Chama, then turned left, stopped at the gas station for gasoline fill-up and propane top-off, and continued on to Colorado.
This time, we turned right.
And we discovered a quaint, train-themed downtown (Chama’s claim to fame is the Cumbres & Toltec scenic train tour), and beyond, absolutely stunning low mountain, cliff bands, aspens, and lush green everywhere. What a beautiful area!
The goal for this trip was to ride with our neighbor Lee and his girlfriend Kiersten on different sections of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Lee’s “Covid Project” is to ride the entire length of the CDT in Northern New Mexico, one section at a time, from where the trail crosses into New Mexico from Colorado on down to our home town of Los Alamos.
We also met a father-son duo on the trail. On day two they stopped by camp and to chat and we discovered that Chris (dad) and son (Bowe) lived in Marly, Switzerland – twenty minutes from where Stéphane grew up!! They now live in Taos and we hope to meet up with them again for some climbing adventures soon. What a small world.
A photo catch-up of life so far in 2020. Camping, climbing, trail running; more mountain biking than usual as Stéphane is preparing for a seven-day mountain biking trip through the mountains from Durango, CO to Moab, UT this September. Hugo has been spending lots of time on his bike and in his book nook (we are drowning in books, but that is one thing on which I will always spoil him). Happy Data continues happily and busily, as do Casa Uva projects and other future plans. Life is good!
The plan was to do something a little out-of-the-box (for us) for my fortieth birthday. January 30th this year just so happened to fall on Stéphane’s week off, and so we were exploring options further afield and different from the norm to ring in the big 4-0. Options were Copper Canyon, Mexico and Cochese, AZ for a longer-than-normal climbing trip. After discovering that Copper Canyon might not be the safest and Cochese is a pretty long drive and pretty similar experience to what we do every other week, we decided on an all-inclusive resort down in Mexico because … why not?
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.
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.
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.
And then this Swiss guy came into my life.
Myra decided that he could join the pack.
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.
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.
Easy-going and long-suffering, Myra took her new role of bodyguard and canine baby-companion in stride, as she took everything else.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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):
Part II (sun):
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).
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.
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!
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.
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.).
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.
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 ❤️
On October Third, our curious, loving, free-spirited little boy turned two.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Stéphane celebrated his 38th birthday while we were there.
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 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).
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.
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!).
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.
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.
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).
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)
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.
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.
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.