First Goodbye

Wish his little blonde head peeping out between the two curtains that enclose his elevated nest in The Grizz, Hugo exclaims (twenty minutes prior to his morning alarm clock’s eruption), “Hurry we have to get ready for school!”

It’s Hugo’s first day of school, ever. The first of many firsts for him. The first of many goodbyes for us.

Thanks to our strategic camp at Lander’s City Park, we have a short and very scenic five-minute walk to school: we pass a sweet little property with bucolic creek and small foot bridge on one side and on the other, a real deal class A rockstar-style camper (diesel pusher) proudly displaying “Life is a Highway” on its backside.

 Hugo has on his “special” school clothes (special because they are store-bought, not hand-me-downs, and they are stain-free- for now). He wears his special new “outdoor school shoes”- blue Stride-Rite velcros, wide to accommodate the Hefti hobbit feet. On his back he sports the gray “bug” pack we have used all these years. It’s been used for hiking, climbing, and even at some point, I believe sweet Bug pack was a diaper bag. Now it is Hugo’s school bag. Full circle.

Hugo has been talking about school for a very long time now. We’ve done our own school at home in New Mexico and Virginia but this is what he’s really been yearning for. And he is ready and full of hope and excitement for his world to grow a little bit. Today I think it grew a lot. 

The morning sky was a little fuzzy as I looked up at it through my tears. A quick kiss goodbye and he’s off into his new world. 

Our first goodbye. 

Stéphane and I stand together, holding hands outside for a few moments. I can see Hugo’s little head through the classroom window, bobbing along with such confidence towards his coat hanger; getting himself ready for the school day like he’s been doing this his whole life. 

After five years of just the three of us, every day, all day, today there was just two for a little bit.

Today was our first goodbye. 

Where the Rails End and the Trails Begin

The Heftis have landed in Lander, Wyoming! After much deliberation, soul-searching, school / town research, and early morning coffee chats poolside Chez Porthole Place (VA), we decided that this little town at the foot of the Wind River Mountains will be the best place for us. The fact that we have never been here does not deter us; we’ve moved to many places before sight-unseen, I guess it’s kind of our MO. But this move feels different, like it will be a more permanent one – we hope it will be. We are looking forward to setting down some roots.

Giddy up! Let’s do this, Lander!

Things we notice right away that make us feel at home:

  1. Free RV dump / water fill-up for campers.
  2. Local brewery.
  3. The majestic Wind River mountains rising up just beyond the edge of town.
  4. “The wave” from nearly every driver.
  5. Tevas, cowboys boots, messy hair, trucker hats, raggedy clothes, bikes, backpacks, dirty trucks, and lots of smiles.
  6. Cliffs for climbing, trails for biking and running.
  7. Deer meandering down main street.

The Grizz gets a well-deserved bath after carrying us safely across the country.
On Saturday we volunteer at Hugo’s school, helping to put classroom furniture together. We are so impressed with the bright, modern, and lovely schoolhouse, the ample school grounds, and the warm, friendly, freedom-loving people who we meet.
Checking out the bead cabinet.
Lander’s city park allows for three days of camping (tent or camper) and is a lovely spot. It boasts a sprawling “wild west” playground, lush grass shaded by towering cottonwoods, and a chattering river to lull you to sleep at night.
Lander city park – campers to the left, tenters to the right.
Wild-western-themed playground.
After our three days at the park, we head out of town for some more wild camping. Thirty minutes south is Wild Iris – beautiful white cliffs for climbing and some great camping spots. The Grizz got her first taste of off-roading.
Trying out some climbs at the OK Corral wall.
Hugo is rarin’ to go! He did great and climbed each route that Stephane put up.
Hike with daddy while mommy does a little work.
Building blocks.
Curious camp squirrel.
Those views.
Smiles all around. So far so good. We love it here.

A few summer weeks in The Mitten

Carrying the physical contents of our lives, each carefully wrapped, strapped, and boxed, the UHaul growls to life, takes a final slow roll down Porthole Place, a left onto Mainsail, and from there West to Wyoming.

Stephane leaves in the early hours of the morning to begin ticking off the 2,000+ miles between Suffolk and Lander. Hugo and I stay behind to wrap up the loose ends – cleaning and loading down the truck with items for our transitional time: a few weeks in Michigan followed by the Wyoming Question Mark (can we find a house before we get to Wyoming? Will we get a rental? Live in a camper? What will it be like there? Do I pack warm or cold clothes or both? And most importantly, where are my cowboy boots?)

A few days later, also in those wee morning hours, I snug Hugo up in his nest in the backseat, give Dan and Jess tight hugs goodbye (see you soon hugs, not goodbye hugs), fire up the truck and point her North to Trombley Headquarters.

And just like that, our short but intense time in Virginia is done. This brief chapter brought us so much joy, camaraderie, excitement and hope for the future with our best friends.

We’ll be seeing you soon D&J!! xo

After twelve hours on the road, Hugo the road-trip-warrior and I pull onto Lange Street and call it day. What a pleasure to be home after all this time.

We enjoyed many evenings on the deck out back @ Trombley Headquarters. Euchre, sparklers, and firepit fun.
Trying out Keith’s pasties @ Urbanrest. Keith’s and his business partner have been running their food truck, Motor City Pasty Co., for five year now!
Woody’s Hot Dogs! Woody sells hot dogs on a busy corner in downtown Saginaw during the week and comes out to sell his goodies on Lake St. Helen on the weekends. A great day at Sadie’s Landing (Lake Two).
Enjoying the campfire, company, and fabulous views from Pete & Ryan’s vacation rental – what a beautiful spot! Right between Lake One and Lake Two.
Good to be back at the cottage after being away for too long! That view never gets old.
Thumbs up! Happy to be home for a visit and to catch up with family.
Meanwhile, out West…

Stephane successfully delivers our belongings to Wyoming and meets us in Michigan where we purchase our new home:

The Grizz! Home is where we park her.

After many fun family gatherings, and a few projects completed on the Grizz and truck, we are ready to hit the road and discover what Wyoming is all about! A few more goodies from our visit to Michigan:

Dinner at Jeff & Carrie’s.
Hugo’s first putt-putt (he LOVED it).
Uncle Pete teaching Hugo how to drive the pontoon boat.
Enjoying some books on the front porch.
Canoeing around Lake One
Thank you mom and dad! For housing us, feeding us, and for all the fun evenings, euchre games, and chats. We can’t wait for you to come visit!! We love you.

Rad Dad

Dearest Stephane,

Here’s to YOU on Father’s Day.

Yes, you do countless craft projects with Hugo, teach him how to climb, bike and swim, and show him the difference between a Phillips and a flat head. You tell him No more often than Yes. You hold him to a higher standard and you always back me up.

These things alone make you a fabulous father.

But on this Father’s Day, I want to shine a light on some of the things that you do for our family that might not be direct lessons for Hugo, but lessons nonetheless. You teach by your actions and he is watching you every step of the way.

You are a role model in so many ways for Hugo. Your passion for the outdoors has instilled in Hugo a love for climbing, mountain biking, swimming, and all things outdoors.

Durango to Moab!
Scoping out the climb.
All laughs on the trail.

That time you backed the truck onto a field in the middle of urban Virginia so we could eat our subs on the tailgate and pretend we were out in the country. Because you knew I was missing that.

Subs on the tailgate!

Hugo’s sweet-naturedness with the animal world is directly related to you. He watches with those big, silent eyes as you gently scoop up the latest spider that has lost its way inside, and he follows you out the door and watches as you send daddy longlegs on his way.

How many frogs has he helped you save from a watery grave, excitedly netting them from the pool and freeing them in the grass after a thunderstorm?

Bug @ Love Gap crag.

Just last September, after my brother Dan’s diagnosis.

You said, “let’s go”.

And you left your job and you packed us up, all of our things (all of those stairs).

You put Hugo and I on a plane and you drove our lives across the country.

Because you knew I needed to be there.

Somewhere between New Mexico and Virginia

That time my “little” project turned into your enormous task and the most epic deck transformation of all time.

Plus the benches that open up so we could store pillows (because I asked).

All of those measurements.

All of those cuts.

All of the effort done UNDERNEATH that no one will see – all done right and beyond solid. Because you do it right. Always. Regardless if any is looking or not. It’s not for the praise. It’s for a job done to the best of your ability and done always with integrity.

Our rooftop deck in Los Alamos post transformation. Our oasis.

Note the l-shaped corner bench – the side pops open for storage.

Are these green-and-red squares burned into your eyes for the rest of time?

These Christmas-colored cubes represent to me all of your efforts to ensure the very best life for Hugo. They show your willingness to step out of your comfort zone, to sequester away for countless hours to study; to travel, to quarantine, to test; to do it all again and again.

And again.

And you did it all for what we thought was going to be the best life for Hugo. And when the world changed and we changed trajectory, you took it all in stride, in good grace, and in love. You are the strongest, most steadfast man I have ever known.

Train @ the zoo!!

You are an impeccable professional. Your work ethic, whether it be painting the backyard patio or stepping through your daily helicopter pre-flight, is unmatched.

You are Hugo’s shining light: showing him how to be a man, how to treat others and how to stand up for what is right. All you do, every day, he watches and soaks up like the little sponge that he is. I am so proud of the little boy that he is and excited to see the man he will become. You have made it all possible by just being you.

Happy Father’s Day to the raddest dad around.

We love you.


Happy Father’s Day!! We love you!


One of my pet peeves is when words are not spelled properly. My cousin Anthony always called me “cuz” and, to my horror, he SPELLED it that way too. After a while, when texting him or sending him notes, I would write it “cuz”, too. But only for him. I guess it was our special thing.

When Pete, Dan and I were children, Anthony spent many a day with us on Lange Street – eating pizza bagels, tumbling down the Slip ‘N Slide in the backyard, running around the neighborhood, and tagging along with mom on never-ending errands to Nino’s or whatnot. We’d build forts in the basement and sing along to The Little Mermaid. Anthony even got roped into Thanksgiving skits because the Trombley kids did skits. And Anthony grew up part Trombley.

Thanksgiving 1986(?) @ Grandma & Grandpa’s.

Anthony loved family and always posted sweet old photos of us cousins and family. He always wanted to be one of the ones who got to break the wishbone at Thanksgiving. Anthony loved family gatherings – playing cards, Trivial Pursuit, watching the Tigers.

Aunt Chris & Anthony … Carrie & Jeff’s wedding (2005??)

Summer 2015

The cousins. November 2012

Anthony, damn Cuz.

You are gone now.

I still have the cover letter and resume that we worked on for the job opportunity with OnStar back in 2015. I read through them just this morning.

And that time, remember when you were so close to getting your life arranged in a way that you were excited about?! I remember, very vividly, pacing around Stephane’s and my little cabin in Maine and talking excitedly with you on the phone about a new chapter! You were working towards getting your driver’s license back, tying up legal loose ends, taking a class and getting licensed to sell real estate – you were focused and serious and I remember thinking, “is it going to happen this time??” I was so excited and hopeful for you.

The cousins with Grams. December 2012


Remember the day I got to spend with you at your mom’s when we were little? It stands out in my mind because we never went over to your place growing up – you always came to us.

Your house had an UPSTAIRS! I remember the sun coming through the window and lighting up the walls of your bedroom; all the toys you had in your closet; the colorful wooden toy chest. I remember climbing up on your bed and peering out the window to wonder at the little kingdom below: so many different squares of grass framed by the network of small sidewalks that went between the townhomes. Each townhouse had its own little square; some were tidier than others. There were clotheslines and those funny fabric bags that held the clothespins; plaid-woven lawn chairs and plastic tables. Each assigned to their own green square.

You had the micro machines garage – the one with the elevator and the twisty slide that the cars could go down. We played with our micro machines in your sun-dappled bedroom all day. Just next to the bathroom where you left this world. Just yesterday you left us.

Dear Anthony,

I’m sorry your path in life made us strangers these last years. I always wished the best for you and hoped for you, even from afar.

When Hugo’s old enough to watch The Little Mermaid, I will smile and think of you and those golden years at 20817 Lange when life was just about forts, Disney songs, and micro machines.

Me and Anthony circa…1985?

Rest well, my wayward cousin – cuz – and be at peace.

With love,

your cuz,


Three-Sport Weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains

After Stephane’s returned from a week-long shift at our old stomping grounds in Los Alamos, we packed up The Hungry Hippo (a.k.a our new pop-up camper) and took off for some outdoor family time.

On the drive out- super cute!! I can only imagine how heavy it is though. But cute, nonetheless.

We drove straight to Love Gap, a small crag in the Blue Ridge Mountains, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. A very nice little guide, available here for those interested in checking it out:

Super easy approach but the climbing was not my favorite.

Thanks to the locals for compiling this great guide!
On the very short approach trail to Love Gap crag.
Cool bugs
Hanging out while mama climbs
More cool bugs with many legs.
Practicing my swing
Hugo’s turn! There was a lot of rope drag so we had to attach a second rope to him so we could help pull him down.
Nice form!
Pulling up!
Stephane finished the afternoon leading this monstrosity – “undercling slab” – line 14. Yikes.
There’s a beautiful mountain home at the access point for Love Gap crag. The owners put up this sign to welcome people to park on their land in order to access the climbing area and trails for hiking/birding. Thank you owners!
Blue Ridge Mountains!
Wild camping is hard to find out on the east coast, apparently. At least where we were, there was none to be found. We stayed two nights at Devil’s Backbone campground, quite the compound: complete with brewery, distillery, outdoor stage, and a cidery across the street.
Gian pretzel and tasty brews @ Devil’s Backbone Brewery.
All aboard the Blue Toad Express!
Corn hole and playground @ Blue Toad
The next day was a two-sport day: I ran up Humpback Rocks, pictured here (I grabbed this image from the internet as I don’t run with a phone). 1000 mile up in 0.7 miles! Then a more gradual, longer switch-backy descent to complete the loop. A nice climb and fun run. My legs were sore and it was SO nice.
After my run, Hugo and I dropped Stephane off for a 12 mile, 2000 + ascent along the Whetstone Ridge in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Hugo and I found a small waterfall and played along the Irish Creek while we looked for Stephane’s exit point and waited for his arrival.
There were so many of these trees with purple buds – beautiful!
Meanwhile, up on Whetstone Ridge…
Temps mid-fifties, great for a ride.
Amongst the mountains
Sampling Blue Toad ciders
Back at Devil’s Backbone. We scrounged up some wood for the campfire and the boys rode their bikes to the brewery to pick up beer, fries, and a giant pretzel. The definition of glamping.
Marshmallow goodness.
The next day we checked out the climbing at Wintergreen, just up the road from our campground. The hike down the trial to get to the climbs was fun and had some steeper sections with ropes to help lower safely.
Our fearless leader putting up some fun routes for us to enjoy!
Nearing the top of Happy Cracks.
Hugo starting up The Crack. He did a great job on this climb, although he lost his shoe at one point.
Go Hugo!
Oops! Shoe off. Time to buy this kiddo some climbing shoes!
En route home: very tasty pizza @ Lampo Neapolitan Pizza in Charlottsville.

A fun escape to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Next time we’re hoping we can find some more peaceful camping but overall a great three-sport weekend and we’re always happy to find some mountain time, wherever we can.

Spring in Virginia

The homes of Harbour Breeze Estates Phase I slowly dissolve behind the new green growth of Spring out back. Spiky-haired cardinals blaze red against leaves and grass; frogs and crickets sound off in the evenings and the mornings are filled with chirpy chatter. It’s Spring in Virginia.

The pool is unmasked, free to show her lovely, clear blueness. The boys picked out some flowers to add a color pop to the backyard: yellow African marigolds and pink azaleas. We’re recycling the tired umbrellas that were left with the house – the teal fabric is faded and thin and may not last the season, but working well enough for now.

Sunny flowers from my sweet, sunny boy.
The Hefti Oasis

Stephane dug up some teak treasures from the bowels of the CraigsList. As the umbrella, they too, were sun-worn and in need of some TLC. But Stephane worked his magic and voila!

A few rounds of sanding and some teak oil can do wonders.
Applying the teak oil.
One down, one to go.

My pet project has dragged on but I finally finished it today. It took some time to complete as I needed rain-soaked soil to get the work done. There’s rock beds around our entire home and encircling the pool area. At some point there was a dirt barrier between the rocks and grass that had over the years been overgrown with grass and weeds.

Working my way around the back of the pool.
Left side done.
Hugo helped me by bringing me the larger rocks that I then used to create a border.

And then this thing called Easter happened…

Stephane’s beautiful handiwork.
Tradition at Harbour Breeze Phase II – the yearly Easter bunny prints around the entire neighborhood, done under cover of night prior to Easter Sunday. (I threw partly-chewed carrot as an added touch).
Very excited to hunt for the eggs that we had painted the evening before 🙂 We left the eggs outside on the porch so the Easter bunny could find and hide them.
This Easter bunny’s one generous animal! He even dropped off a few fun toys and some candy for Hugo.
Enjoying Easter Sunday with Dan and Jess. Euchre, lamb, potatoes, salad, and neighbors playing raunchy music way too loud the entire afternoon into the night. Not. Cool.
In between studying for EASA, covering shifts at random bases out West, taking EASA exams in Switzerland, running about with Hugo and fixing things that I break, Stephane found time to paint the garage floor! Here’s the before pic.
And the after. Very, very nice.

In other news: the ice cream truck came to our neighborhood, Sephane and I were able to sneak away for a very fun mountain bike ride, and Hugo started gymnastics up again (he was going in Los Alamos and missed it so we found a local spot for him to attend).

Hugo’s first ice cream truck experience!
A super fun ride at Lake Maury. If you can’t tell by my super red face, we were riding hard!
Ready for gymnastics class!
A special treat at The Branches wine bar while Hugo attends his gymnastics class. I think this needs to be our regular date night if only Hugo’s class were just a wee bit longer 😉

Life is rolling along out here in Virginia.

Happy Spring to all!

Elizabeth Furnace

When a warm and sunny mid-week weather window presented itself this past week, we did the obvious thing which was to pack up the camper and head for the hills (of Virginia). Actually mountains. We headed for the mountains of Virginia – specifically the Allegheny.

I’m still learning about the mountains out here. I know there’s the Blue Ridge and Shenendoah and Allegheny and Appalachian. I’m not sure if they are all part of the same system or their own thing or what, but I’ll figure it all out and report to you as I do.

What I can tell you about this trip is that we went to Elizabeth Furnace in the very tippy-top north of Virginia in the Allegheny Mountains. Here we were able to get in two very nice days of climbing, a little biking around camp, some hiking, and a killer (not-in-a-good-way) mountain bike ride (Stéphane).

Full service here at the Mr. Fuel
The very short but treacherous walk to the first crag, Talking Heads wall. This crag was right off the road but you had to park a bit down road from it and walk in on the road. I was surprised by how busy this road was and how fast people took the curve.
Hugo surprised us and showed great excitement and interest in wanting to climb (not just swing).
All smiles
Go Hugo!
Unfazed by the very different rock out here, Stéphane led the charge, setting up our climbs with minimal effort.
Happy place
Books, beer, and campfire.
Although Elizabeth Furnace is in the George Washington National Forest, there was no dispersed camping allowed so we snugged up amongst the other campers in the local campground. Definitely not my style of camping but Hugo enjoyed playing with the other children in the campground.
Day Two: Two mile 700+ feet elevation gain hike up to Buzzard Rock. We fueled Hugo with mini marshmallows and promises of fun climbs at the top.
Overlook on the hike up.
We made it to Buzzard Rocks. Three cheers for cool, helpful locals! Thanks to Mark for taking the time to show us where to begin our climbing day and for all the beta.
Our fearless leader tops out on another one.
The climbs at Buzzard Rock were more slabby and fun than the ones at Talking Heads wall.
Looking down the Shenandoah Valley from the top of a climb
Listening to stories while waiting for his turn to climb.
Snack time
First peek into our new camper, a pop-up. Less storage which is a GOOD thing – this means we bring less- only what we need. Makes for easier prep and break-down when we get home.
A few rounds of Yahtzee before dinner
Stéphane went on a ridiculous 12.2 mile 2600 feet gain ride on some Virginia GNAR.
Yuck. Just yuck. No thanks. Glad I hung out at camp with Hugo!
Major faux pas: driving home on a Friday afternoon past DC traffic. Never again. Lesson learned. We stopped at Six Bears and A Goat brewery to wait it out. Great beers!
Tasty brews and cool outdoor area
A very nice initial exploration of our Virginia mountains! Excited and ready for more!

First Days in Virginia

Wherein the Heftis share lots of yummy meals with Trombleys & Co., celebrate the holidays, explore the area, and find the rhythm in the everyday.

Mountain bike ride in Smithfield; Hugo did a great job on the trail!
The trail was completely covered in slippery leaves and roots – a fun trail – wish it were longer! Smithfield is a very quaint little town; Victorian mansions line the narrow road leading into town and a calm river peeks out in between the colorful homes.
We found a trail!
It’s official. Go Team Trombley!
Thankful at Thanksgiving.
The annual Christmas Tree hunt. This time we did it a tree farm instead of national forest (tree farm was much closer)
We found her! She reminded us of a Dr. Seuss tree, or the Grinch’s head.
We had so much fun with Bradley!! Hugo misses him and can’t wait for his next visit.
Trail run at the Nolan Trail. Lots of people and signs, but very happy to have this nearby!
I found this very interesting – every root was spray painted (I guess to keep you from tripping?)
Lots of pretty lakes and trees around the Nolan Trail.
Little Chef Hefi helps bigger Chef hefti grade the mozzarella for homemade pizzas.
Hugo’s letter to Santa (he asked for a bubble maker).
Farmhouse Brewery was awesome. Great beers, tasty food available to be sampled from a variety of food trucks, and lots of kids running around in the yard surrounding the farmhouse.
Cheers! T-shirts in mid-December!
There aren’t a lot of trails nearby, so Stephane gave in and is giving road biking a shot.
Working on writing, math, shapes, etc. Workbooks rock!
We learned about the differences between stinging nettles and dead nettles. The next time we went on a hike, Hugo pointed to a little bush and asked if it was stinging nettles. Love the curiosity and the memory
‘Tis the season for my favorite meal (raclette).
Gingerbread house precariously held up by q-tip shafts (toothpicks were nowhere to be found).
Hugo helps Stephane make his yummy lemon cookies.
We discovered a flat and fast trail just down the road. Hugo flies!
We read a lot of books each day.
The most recent “Kiwi Crate” project – a claw!
The claw, completed.
Discovering a new trail in Ragged Island
The was an interesting “trail” – part dirt, part boardwalk, part sand / beach. We only made it one mile out; I look forward to running this on my own and seeing what kind of distance can be looped together between the marshes and streams in this area.
At the Norfolk Zoo.
Bamboo maze at the Norfolk Zoo. The afternoon we spent there was so odd – we saw only two other families the entire time! We had the entire zoo to ourselves and enjoyed front row seats to the giraffes, lions, rhinos, and tigers.
Settling in to Virginia and wishing you all a Happy New Year!!

He Listens.

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!

Parting is such sweet sorrow

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.

Hugo’s first “climb”. Our first visit to Las Conchas (July 2017)
Sara on Pumping Huecos.
Hugo pulling through the crux.
October 2017
Dan at Garden Wall
An afternoon at Las Conchas, showing Mami and Papi “the ropes” (the even climbed!) (October 2017)
Mama gives it a shot
Building cairns and damns in the East Fork with Hugo & Bradley. (June 2020)
Hugo impresses Aunt Jess with his one-armed push ups. (June 2020)

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.

Getting ready for a day of climbing
Hugo hangin’ out.
Camper from above.
A boy and his dog.
Hiking up for a view.
The cave
Nice climb!
The annual Red Rock Arroyo photo. No one’s cooperating.

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.

Tour de Sewer
Chile Line Express – a big day of biking with Sean. 50+ miles from Pajarito to Abiquiu.
Stéphane’s big mountain bike adventure, from Durango to Moab in six days. What an epic.
Biking with my honey up in the Jemez
The infamous Chile Line Express; in search of “the meadow”
Hiking in Bayo Canyon
Completing the Three Bears > Cabra route. Well done!
At Kwage Overlook

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.

So many wonderful dinners with family and friends.
We painted, and painted and painted.
Air time.
Joyeux Premier Aôut!
Stéphane working on one of many, many Casa Uva project.
Hugo in his “big boy bed”
So many wonderful views from the living room – winter snow, deer snacking on grass in the early morning, countless sunrises from my office desk.
The amazing deck after all of Stéphane’s hard work.

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 :).

Lake City, post ice climbing
Wolf Creek Pass

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.

Just an hour ago

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.

Sunset on the Sangre de Cristos

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.

Full circle.

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.

At Brian and Sarah’s wedding. December 2011.
With Sadie-dog.
Backyard @ Trombley Headquarters many moons ago.
Stéphane and his sister Silvia.
Stéphane and his sister Yvonne

Happy Birthday to Bug-Zilla & Daniel-son!

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!!

To my bike mechanic, tech consultant, belay bear (“keep me tight!”), roofer, tiler, deck-maker, chef extraordinaire, boat-heli-plane-Gruffalo captain; patient, loving father; supportive, sweet husband. From your first mate, trail partner and number one cheerleader: happy birthday! I may not be as fast, strong, or crafty as you, but I will always be, well, there. Here’s to another year of hard work and hard play. Let’s do this!! I love you.
Brother – Happy Birthday!
From battling Pete when we were little to the silly pre-navy hippie years; look at you now! A successful career, an amazing woman at your side – life looks good on you bro! I’m proud of all of your accomplishments but I’m most proud that you are who you are: a good man. You did good, brotha. See you soon and next time it’s my turn to push a bike with you at 12,000 feet! Start trainin’!
p.s. “A” word …
@ Red Rock Arroyo before “the crazy climb”
Giving Hugo a lift @ Pat & Kim’s compound – Uncomphagre Plateau
Hike-a-bike w/Dan – Creede, CO
Bayo Canyon overlook
Chef extraordinaire.
Winter 2019/2020. Looking for ice.
Just chillin’
After putting up a super fun route in Dolores Canyon.
He rides hard.
Hike on local Los Alamos trail. We like our colors 🙂
They like to ride 🙂
Last full Hefti family photo! Switzerland, August 2018.
Dirtbiking: it’s all Hugo wants to do now.
I leave him along for only one hour to go on a trail run – and look at what happens!
Rides are always free.
Teaching Hugo to ski – first time on skis @ Wolf Creek, CO. December 2019.
He works hard.
He plays hard. Silverton backcountry. December 2019
Epic ride with Dan. Creede, CO. November (?) 2019
Haka race in Santa Fe.
Giant cairn
A brief moment of us time. Playa del Carmen, Mexico – January 2020. (Hugo was on the dock looking at fish, I swear we only took our eyes off him for three seconds).
Fun times adventuring with the Missanas! Albuquerque
Missanas in Mine. Silverton, CO
Stéphane had the awesome opportunity to fly WITH his sister while she was visiting the states! Silvia is a cardiac nurse in Switzerland.
Joyeux Anniversaire, Stéphane!!!
Joyeux Premier Août!
Happy birthday to my number one. I love you always. Here’s to more adventures, hard work, and hard play in the upcoming year. Let’s make it a great year!!

Right @ Chama

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.

Following a forest road to “the pin” that Lee gave us for camp, we discovered our way was blocked by a gate. Oddly enough, the forest road ended at a very large, private ranch.
Time to turn around and figure out Plan B.
Don’t know what the original camp spot would have been like had we been able to access it, but our Plan B spot was absolutely spectacular! Up on a little hill overlooking a lush valley below dotted with little islands of pine trees, camp offered amazing views and made us feel like royalty for the weekend.
Lee & Kiersten arrive shortly and camp is secured. Couldn’t ask for a more scenic happy hour spot.
Our typical set-up: camp blanket, Matchbox cars, many books, etch-a-sketch, and the good old outdoors. During this trip Hugo really started reading!! So exciting! I wrote works on the etch-a-sketch and he would tell me each letter and then sound them out: P-I-G, B-I-R-D, C-A-R, C-A-T, etc. He would also spell out words that I would say (without seeing the word, just by be saying the word and then each letter slowly). So proud of him!
CDT Day 1: let’s ride! I take the first lap with Lee and Kiersten. We head south from camp and enjoy an 18-mile 1,200 foot elevation gain ride complete with lightning, rain, and one giant elk.
This section of the CDT was extremely rideable and fun! Technical in spots due to blocky rocks, but overall very enjoyable and doable!
At the rocky ridge line section
Almost back to camp, we ran into a flock of sheep..oh where, oh where are the sheep dogs?
There they are. Two Great Pyrenees (the typical mountain sheep guard dogs) show themselves and carefully take measure of us. We were deemed “ok” and were escorted past the sheep. We got off of our bikes and walked slowly past the sheep. The dogs walked behind us, making sure all was well.
A wonderful welcome back to camp after a long ride.
Lee shows some mad wheelie skills upon returning to camp. Great first day!
Day two: Lee, Kiersten and Stéphane take on the CDT north from camp, all the way to the Colorado border and back. Today’s route includes 20+ miles and 3,000+ feet of elevation gain. A big day.
Beautiful trail.
All along the Continental Divide Trail these little blue signs are posted. This is so you can ensure you’re still ON the right trail.
Exploring down the hill from camp – looking for fish in the creek.
Hugo helping me break down camp – here he is cranking up the camper legs. I just had to get them “started” and he cranked the rest of the way up – all four! Nice work Hugster!

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.

2020 Photo Catch-Up

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!

And always, fun times on the deck!
The “before” picture: Sean and Stéphane tackle The Chile Line Express: 50 miles from Los Alamos (Pajarito) to Abiquiu
Camping near Hopewell Lake and riding some sections of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT).
An unexpected ride up a mountain in Red River, NM.
Biking a part of The Chile Line Express w/Hugo.
Chile Line Express- snack break.
Sunset scene
Great camping in the North Jemez
Local hike to the Los Alamos reservoir.
Taking break on The Chile Line Express.
Trying out the guitar.
Our one and only Tom.
Camp scene @ Cochetopa Pass
Fun at The East Fork w/Bradley
He’s putting in the miles this summer.
Stéphane made this amazing robot outfit for Hugo out of cardboard boxes, duct tape, and an old visor from a helmet.
The dynamic duo.
Wine in the street.
Guaje Ridge ride
The gang.
Beautiful views @ Turkey Springs
Gearing up @ Piedra River
Climbing above the Piedra River (CO).
Biking and climbing fun @ Turkey Springs
Climbing fun at the local spot.
Local in-town ride.
Barefoot fun.
Swinging around @ The Sponge
Pumping Huecos @ The Sponge
Hugo makes it to the top. “Pull, Aunt Melisa! Pull!”
Fish tacos at camp!
Still baking our signature bread. Stephane has perfected the bread-shaping.
Stephane put up this super hard but fun route in Dolores.
Family photo in the Dolores River. Last family shot with our Myra girl.
Fishing for crawdads
Camp scene
Afternoon bike ride in Durango with Ivan & Ryder.
Dirty river hands.
Checking out potential climbing on Piedra River.
Snowy ride @ Glorieta
Little hiker
Cave of The Winds
The boys made home-made pasta using the pasta flour and pasta maker gifted to us by Tom & Pam.
Camp @ Red Rock Arroyo
Climbing at Red Rock Arroyo.
Earning his keep!
Work hard. Play hard.
Evening fun on the deck.
Hike to a neat spot overlooking the Rio Grande.
We like our colorful clothing 🙂
Learning about cairns.
Family hike
For Christmas 2019, Hugo received the “little kitchen” he’d been asking for.
Work hard. Play hard. Night scene.
Using the rock to help start on his too-tall bike.

Mexico for 4-0

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?

Met up with Jess and Bradley at Bombs Away Beer Co. in Albuquerque the night before our departure.
Good beer, free old-school arcade games (that’s Hugo playing Centipede in the background there), funky decor, lots of green plants hanging from the rafters, and cool people. This is a great local brewery with a chill vibe – highly recommend!
Albuquerque > Houston > Cancun. Easy flights and Hugo’s a seasoned traveler now, so he carries his own pack 🙂
After landing in Cancun and a crazy monsoon downpour, we grabbed our rental car and made the hour drive south to Playa del Carmen and our home away from home on the beach, The Reef at Cocoa Beach. First pic with palm trees! Hugo’s exhausted.
Birthday morning! Stéphane had arranged for lots of special things on my birthday, starting with breakfast “in bed”.
Excited to get in the water and really excited about his “shark shirt”.
Toes in the sand
Another birthday surprise! Coming back to our room in the afternoon to discover festive decorations, cake, and champagne!
Stéphane even thought to pack my special birthday card #2 from 20817 Lange Headquarters 🙂
At The Reef, you have four choices for dinner: the excellent and ever-changing buffet downstairs, or one of three “speciality” restaurants upstairs featuring: Mexican, Italian, or Japanese. Tonight we dined in Italy.
The next day, time for a little water aerobics!
Drinks at the poolside bar.
Fun with Miss Maya at the “Kids Club”.
We borrowed some bikes from the resort and cruised around the local area.
A very different vibe outside of the gated resort.
The first few blocks featured lush, tree-lined streets and posh little bars and restaurants. And an ATM with a $20 ATM fee! Definitely for the tourists.
Back poolside. There was one afternoon where Hugo ran and jumped in about fifty (not kidding) times. Run, jump, surface, swim back to the ledge, climb out, repeat. He slept particularly well night.
Hugo enjoying a “grenadine” drink.
Relaxing on the fancy poolside couches.
The boys get a little putt-putt action while I got a massage.
Checking out the sand art on the beach at twilight. Other piece included a ziggurat and turtle.
Date Night! Just the two of us (Miss Maya watched Hugo) @ the Japanese Restaurant.
This was a completely out-in-left-field, a-typical Hefti-style vacation but it was so much fun! What a wonderful way to ring in my 40th birthday with my two sweet boys.

Mighty Myra






Mighty 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
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?
March 2014
Dedham, ME
October 2016
Phillips Lake. Dedham, ME
April 2016
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.
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!













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.).

“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!!


Toes (and wand) in the sand.

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