Happy Friday from St. George, UT

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

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

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

Happy Friday to all.

Life is good ❤️

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

Little Hugo at the crag.

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

Diggin daddy’s old BD hat.

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

Expelliamus!

Toes (and wand) in the sand.

Two

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

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

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

Walking Myra around the ‘hood.

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

The boys throwing rocks at the summit.

Mountains for days.

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

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

Hugo outside the hut.

 

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

Lots of stuff to climb in the forest.

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

 

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

Hugo loves his apples.

Corn fields and rolling hills.

Early evening hike.

Hiding in the corn.

 

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

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

Lake Gruyères.

 

 

Stéphane celebrated his 38th birthday while we were there.

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

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

Raise a glass!

It’s All About the Backyard (Switzerland 2018)

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

The pizza oven.

 

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

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

Cooking up pizzas in the pizza oven!!

One of many meals out on the patio.

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

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

Casa Uva gets a Face Lift


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

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

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

Shakes for days.

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

View from the rooftop deck. Hooray!!

 

The Telephone Trail

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Desert flower just off the trail.

 

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

 

Soaking up the sun and pounding the dirt.

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

Reference:

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

 

My Friend Carley

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

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

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

Fair winds and following seas, my friend.

 

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

Stephane and Sara’s Big Adventure

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

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

Love – Carley

(Dec 19, 2015)

Six Days in the Desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

He was very interested in the river.

 

Little man cruising down the road.

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

 

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

 

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

 

Golden Hour at Cobbler Camp.

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

 

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

 

Brian takes a rest.

Gear.

Meanwhile, back at camp…

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

 

Evening at The Creek.

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

Cheers!

 

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

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

 

Large gear. Heavy rack. Big smile.

 

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

 

Up he goes!

 

And up another…

 

Nice work!!

 

Meanwhile, back at camp…

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

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

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

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

Hugo-stones

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

Two fun ones yesterday:

March 22, 2018:

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

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

I suppose this one is worthy of sharing too:

December 7, 2017- took first steps.

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

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

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

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

I’ll add more here as they occur.

Meet The Gruffalo

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Scrambling up our rock at the base of our climbs.

 

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

 

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

 

A rather large sand box.

 

Fun in the sun.

 

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

 

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

 

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

The Story of The Baby Bison

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

It’s been a giant playpen for Hugo,

(working on his pull-ups here)

a shelter from the elements,

our home base,

 

and our home away from home.

Thank you for giving us cool memories like this,

and for enabling us to get to places like this.

 

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

 

Apache Kid Wilderness

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

 

The Apache Kid, namesake of The Apache Kid Wilderness.

 

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

 

Expressive rocks here at our camp.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

So many stars.

 

Hugo tries out a headlamp.

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

 

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

 

Smokey says: “Let’s climb!”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Myra: patience ad infinitum.

 

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

 

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

 

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

Fun in the sun.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Fifteen Months

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

Baby Farm Animals is the best!

 

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

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

 

Toilet paper was sooooo three months ago.

 

The new thing is ladders.

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

I helped daddy wash his helicopter the other day.

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

Life in Los Alamos & photo catch-up

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

Inside the ruins of the old church.

 

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

 

Helping daddy wash the helicopter!

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Hanging out with his girl, Myra.

 

Pulling his little wagon around the living room.

 

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

 

Rocking the yellow puffy.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Stéphane scampers up the routes.

Me: what now???

Digging the crash pad.

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

 

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

 

Mom & Dad!

 

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

We had a blast checking out the local climbing area.

 

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

Maria and I jamming around the campfire.

A fun climbing trip to Tres Piedras.

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

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

 

Magical

Had to get a photo of that one 😉

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

 

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


Camino Uva

 

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

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

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

 

* Unless you’re a Hefti.

 

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

Here’s what Los Alamos looks like:

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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


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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Enjoying “Christmosas” in the living room.

 

Merry Christmas!

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

 

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

 

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

 

Thanksgiving in Escalante

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

 

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

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

 

Hugo and daddy at camp.

 

The Logans come in with slick camper AND potato gun.

 

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

Kim splits some wood for the fire.

 

 

Hugo layers up with puffy, hat, and mittens.

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

Camp yoga.

 

Camp kids playing with Hugo in the Escape Pod.

 

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

 

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

 

It’s wine time!

 

Dish up!

 

Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family around the campfire.

 

Patrick and Matt bask in the golden glow.

 

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

 

Check out that bass.

 

A little more wine, please!

 

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

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

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

 

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

Exploring The Jemez (adventures closer to home)

Right now we live in the Jemez National Recreation Area, forty minutes west of Los Alamos, up in the Jemez Mountains. While we love the quiet and the ease of access to the outdoors, our goal is to buy a home in Los Alamos (gasp! I know, that does not sound like us at all, does it? Moving INTO not AWAY FROM town AND buying a house? That means settling down, right? Maybe…? Just goes to show you how much Hugo has changed our perspectives and lives!).

Stéphane taking Hugo out for a spin in “the chariot” at Fenton Lake State Park.

 

Hike up in the Jemez.

Guess who came to see us and meet his nephew for the first time?!?!?!

We had so much fun with Dan! He tried out rock climbing for the first time and surpassed all expectations! Led his very first climb on his second day of climbing!! What!?!?!

 

Dan figuring out the moves.

 

Hanging with Uncle Dan.

 

A soak at the San Antonio Hot Springs post-climbing does a body good.

 

Hugo loves the hot springs.

 

Exploring some new routes at Comales Canyon, a great little climbing area near Taos.

He has all the toys in the world but the best “toys” of all are grubby climbing gear: belay devices, cams, and beaners.

 

Messing around with the camera, waiting for my turn to climb. It was really nice climbing with an extra person – much easier to herd Hugo and everyone enjoyed more time on the wall.

 

After sending Dan on his way home, we check out our local forest road 376 for some possible new climbs.

This crag is of particular interest because it has some nice lines AND great camping spots right across the road. Now that Hugo is in the picture, it’s all about easily-accessible climbs and close-by camping. This spot would be ideal.

Seventeen miles in on FR 376, The Gilman Tunnels. During the 1920s, the Santa Fe North Western Railroad decided to build a line through this area to provide access for logging and mining companies. But the Guadalupe Box Canyon stood in the way. The rock here was extremely hard and the gushing river complicated the project. Still, this was not a sufficient deterrent. Workers forged ahead with the plan, using dynamite to create the two railway tunnels. They were dubbed the Gilman Tunnels after William H. Gilman, the company’s vice president of operations. This railroad was primarily used for hauling timber down from the mountains.

 

There is excellent camping along our FR 376! We tried out a couple different spots, spending a few nights out in the Escape Pod.

The Escape Pod is slowly coming together! Each time we go out, we make note of how to make things better and keep tweaking. So far, the layout of the Escape Pod is great for our needs. Hugo sleeps below in his Pack n Play and we are above in the bed. The toy hauler setup is perfect for our current camping needs.

 

No bottle warmer in The Escape Pod, we do it old school when we camp 😉

 

Even though it is a small area, Hugo loves exploring in the Escape Pod. So many different things to touch and discover! On this particular day, the fire extinguisher was the bee’s knees.

 

Fun with daddy! On a side note: baby food pouches are a life saver; total no-brainer easy button when we are out hiking or climbing.

Me working my way up a climb @ Los Conchas (our local climbing area, 15 minutes away).

Another no-brainer easy button: The Pea Pod. This little baby tent has allowed us to keep climbing with Hugo. Set him up safely away from the wall with blanket and toys, and he is a happy camper (most of the time) and we are able to get in a couple of climbs. Win-win!

Smiling faces all around! Enjoying our local outdoors in norther New Mexico!

Catching up in Creede

Creede, Colorado is a teeny little town tucked up in the San Juan mountains. Over the years it has morphed from its silver mining roots into a quaint, clean, funky little town catering to travelers, dirt bikers, hunters, campers, and explorers. It’s traded silver mining for tourism as its economy but has still managed to keep its historic vibe and quaintness. Trendy restaurants, an amazing outdoor store, funky art gallery, tequila bar and other fun shops line main street in historic buildings backed by sharp, craggy cliffs. I love this town and I love this particular corner of Colorado.

 

Creede, CO

Welcome to Creede.

 

Cute little garden on Main Street. I dig the polka-dot wheelbarrow.

 

We stopped by a very unique art gallery. The artist to the right (“War Machine” – skull/metal) caught all of our attention. Tom fell in love with a super cool sculpture except Melisa was not too keen on adding yet another skull to the Hotel Chamberlain art collection.

 

Same artist – flying horse skull on tricycle.

The local outdoor store – how is it that a town this small can have an outdoor store this amazing? Los Alamos needs to take page out of Creede’s book, that is for sure.

We set up camp at our traditional spot right on the banks of Miner’s Creek: access to great trails just down the road and a short drive into town = perfection.

 

Myra is in her glory. She is her old self again (and so are we) – shaking off the dust that settled while in Maine.

 

We crossed the river to gather some firewood, chucking it across piece by piece.

 

Hugo enjoying watching the adults in evening camp mode (gathering fire wood, grilling appetizers)

Hugo’s first Colorado camp fire! Appropriate that it’s in Creede, my absolute favorite spot.

 

Tom and Stéphane get out on the trails. I settle Hugo into his pack and he, Dan Q., Myra and I get a nice hike in and explore a few old mines.

 

Vibrant flowers from Stéphane’s ride.

 

Into town for some lunch and poking around.

Garden honoring the different branches of the US Military.

 

Hugo is very hands-on today.

The Mac Mine: AMAZING gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese truck. Owner lives in a wee home next door.

 

You can get your mac ‘n’ cheese with bacon, jalapeños, spinach, and mushrooms, just to name a few. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.

Creede also has a very special music store featuring unique items such as the hammered dulcimer.

A fun rendezvous with part of The Village (just Tom and Dan could make it out). On our way back to Los Alamos, we stop at Three Barrel Brewery in Del Norte, CO. Pretty decent wood-fire oven pizza- thumbs up!

Digging the beer label art.

A great first trip back to our beloved Colorado to visit the gang! First of many! Now back to The Land of Enchantment to catch up on work so we can get back out and play.

First days in New Mexico



Hidden House is snugged up high among the ponderosa pines- one of a handful of homes scattered around the hills in the Jemez Mountains forty minutes west of Los Alamos. Our neighborhood is called “La Cueva” (the cave; not sure why but I will find out and report back). Our street, a red sandy road, leads to a lightly-traveled two-lane highway; at the corner a fishing shop where we sometimes sit and get wi-fi. The owners, La Cueva locals Jim and Nancy, park their shiny, cherry red ’68 Camaro out front and sell maps, fishing gear, guns and ammo, snacks and coffee to the weekend tourists.

 

Hidden House!

 

There are miles and miles of trails and forest roads to explore, countless camp spots to discover, and fifteen minutes down the road, a wonderfully accessible climbing area (easy button with Hugo is key). Natural hot springs are another sweet little feature of the area.

Tom and Melisa came out to visit and we had such a wonderful time together. We missed these two so much while we were in Maine!! I can’t describe how wonderful it is to have these guys back in our lives again.

 

 

I was eight months pregnant when Stephane and I last climbed. Feels so good to be back at it again! Las Conchas was the perfect place to get back on the rock – there is a great mix of hard and easy climbs with zero approach (approach meaning the hike in to access the climbs).

Back in action together! Love it!!

 

Easy does it.

 

My very first lead! Melisa talked me into it, and I’m glad she did 😉

 

Stephane leading a “ridiculously sandbagged 5.9+++++++”, as Tom says it. (Sandbagged means the climb is actually much harder than what the rating would have you expect).

 

Clipping the anchors. Like he’s never taken a break from climbing – no problemo!

 

Hugo testing out some holds on the rock.

Hugo did great at the crag! For the most part he enjoyed rolling around in his Pea Pod (baby tent) while we got in a few laps on the rock.

 

Stephane gives Melisa a boost at the start of a really tough route.

Testing out The Chariot – a fabulous gift from Pat & Kim. The Chariot gives us freedom to mountain bike together as a family! The first time out didn’t go quite so well – the trail we picked was a bit bumpy and Hugo was in the red as far as daily napping quota. We’ll be trying it again soon on a more mellow surface.

 

A sweet trail in a picturesque valley along a tiny, meandering creek.

 

 

Day two (or three?) of climbing. Hugo loves his Osprey backpack (and so do we). Such a great way to carry the little guy into the outdoors on extended hikes. Lesson learned: cut the diaper bag from the inventory for hikes.

 

Afternoon nap in the pack.

Tom climbing “carefully” – pushing the limits of the LEG to see what it can do post-surgery.

Cheers! Hydrating with a Moscow Mule at the local watering hole, Los Ojos. The mint makes it.

Stephane passes by herds of elk on his daily commute into Los Alamos.

 

Mom and dad make the epic road trip from Detroit to New Mexico with our second car + trailer and Myra. Thank mom and dad for operating outside of the box and your comfort zones and making this happen!!

 

Caught in a hail storm on the hike up to San Antonio hot springs.

 

Our little nature boy, all smiles.

 

Ahhhhhh, the hot springs. A steamy soak in the hot water felt great after the cold hail storm on the hike up. (Dad photobombing in the back).

 

Hugo loves soaking in the hot springs, especially with daddy 🙂

 

Sunset elk herd at the Valles Caldera.

Breaking out the tricycle a little too soon but fun to play around with the Little Cricket.

 

Our first few days in New Mexico have been filled with adventure, exploration, and learning how to maneuver in the outdoors with Hugo in tow. I think we are really going to love it here! Come visit!!

Stopover in Montrose

The wheels sqwaked as they met the pavement and the San Juan Mountains, still snowy at their tips, peeked at me through the window of the little regional jet. Hugo and I had arrived at our almost final destination: Montrose! A short stopover here to see our friends and then off south to our new home in Los Alamos (Jemez Springs), New Mexico.

We had to pull over to pose with our San Juans in the background.

It was an emotional reunion at the Montrose Regional Airport: Stephane, Hugo and I had been separated for more than two weeks and The Village and I for a year and a half. And no one had yet met Hugo! Many hugs, a few tears, and one poopy diaper later, we are off to enjoy some precious time with our most special friends.

Hugo’s first taste of a little “camping” – a day camp up on the Uncompahgre Plateau at Aspen Loop with friends and dogs.

 

In one weekend, Hugo experienced his first Jimmy Buffett party, first day camp, and introductions to all of his aunts and uncles: new faces, smells, sounds, and time zone for the Little Cricket. He is soaking it all in and doing so well with adapting to all the new – we are so proud of him.

 

Trying out the hammock with daddy.

 

A thirty minute drive up 2500 feet to escape the heat in town – 96 degrees in Montrose and a comfortable 75 up at the Aspen Loop.

 

Little cricket working on some moves.

Making new dog friends.

Plenty of room in Vicki’s REALLY BIG camp chair for Maggie.

Taking a morning lap around The Village

 

All smiles; cruising in style!

 

Teaching Hugo some moves at the Jimmy Buffett party.

 

We filled The Little House with friends, great food and drinks, and lots of laughter. Hugo was a real hit with the ladies 😉

 

Brandon plays ball with Hugo.

Hugo having a blast with his new gal pal Aubrey.

 

Hugo relaxing and taking it all in, from the safety of Uncle Tom’s lap.

 

Big hands, little hands.

 

Such a whirlwind trip! We did not get to reconnect with everyone while we were in town – but we will be back to Montrose to visit soon, and often. SO glad we are finally back west and close to our community. Now, it is time to head south to our new home in New Mexico!! Woop Woop!! Here we go!!!

 

Dear Daddy

Dear Daddy,

Today is your very first Fathers Day!

Thank you for holding me all those nights (and days) and for dressing me in the kung-fu onesie as often as you did. It really was the most comfortable and fashion-forward wardrobe option at two months (and thank you for the kung-fu onesie, Aunt Melisa!)

 

Thank you for keeping the home filled with music. Sometimes your song choices on Pandora are questionable but your piano skills are top notch!

 

Thank you for keeping me cozy and warm, especially my hands when they sometimes get cold.

 

I know I have a super sweet face, but thanks in advance for keeping me in line when I get rowdy.

 

Thank you for taking me to the climbing gym and showing me the ropes. I can’t wait to climb with you and momma once I get bigger!

 

Thank you for letting me tag along with you when you work on projects. And thanks for looking out for my hearing.

 

You fed me my very first food (I think it was bananas; I didn’t like it very much but sweet potatoes are awesome).

 

Thank you for working so, so hard and for making sacrifices for the sake of our family.

 

Thanks for keeping me squeaky clean and for making bath time so much fun!

 

Thanks for wearing me as much as you did. It was so nice, comfy, and warm cuddled up next to you.

 

Thanks for being the funnest daddy ever.

 

Happy Fathers Day, daddy.

 

I wish we could be together today but I know that you are working hard out west to make way for mommy and I to come out. We’ll be there soon and we miss you so much.

I love you to the moon and back.

Your son,

Hugo

El Cajete Fire

The Cajete Fire started in the Jemez Springs area just yesterday. 700+ acres on fire. Homes evacuated. Dropped pin is Hidden House; blue pins are road closures.

 

 

Our neighborhood is an At Risk area but has not yet been evacuated…

 

 

6/18/2017 update:

The Cajete Fire is 0% contained but still pretty far from Hidden House – about 8 miles.

In Limbo (I mean, Michigan)

After seven hours of packing the “schnick schnack” (the last little odds and ends that we thought would take only a half hour to square away), multiple trips down the driveway to add to the growing pile of trash bags and recycleables, and a final walk through, we finally loaded up Hugo and Myra and set off on our new adventure!

Stephane found the cutest hotel, Publick House – somewhere in Massachusets. Dog friendly, quiet, and clean. Score!

 

A compound of a hotel, Publick House is comprised of multiple buildings of various ages and a lush grounds crisscrossed with walkways; it all looked so very homey from the window of the Tig as I drove through it in the morning, on the road out. No time to explore – gotta keep to the road and the schedule!

 

Day Two: in between the bad service plaza food (chicken McNuggets, etc.), funny looks from truckers while pumping and driving, and car seat breaks for Hugo, we receive news that we have scored a short-term rental in Los Alamos! (well, Jemez Springs, a half hour west, but beggars can’t be choosers). Yes!!!! A big relief for us and now Stephane can head directly to New Mexico instead of crashing at The Little House in Montrose.

Cleveland, rolling out the red carpet.

 

Day Three, heard through the static of my walkie-talkie: “I love you! Happy anniversary!”

 

We celebrate our #3 in true Hefti fashion: nomads on the road, homeless with all of our belongings in tow. Parting ways in the parking lot of the Cleveland Red Roof Inn, Hugo, Myra and I, Tig + trailer are off to Michigan while Stephane heads down US Route 66, truck + Baby Bison in tow, en route to our final destination. I am a little jealous as I click off the walkie-talkie for the last time. Road trips are fun, made particularly more exciting when you are driving to your new home for the first time. Except we aren’t too keen on giving Hugo car seat-related PTSD.  So to Michigan we go, to relax, enjoy some family time, and take a breath before the next step.

 

 

Having a blast with grammy and his new toy.

 

Stephane made it to the land of brilliant blue skies and red rocks.

Our new base camp. We call it “Hidden House”.

 

Meanwhile, back in Michigan, THIS is happening. Yes folks, he is sitting up now!

 

And he has WAY too much fun with grampie.

 

So much fun, in fact, that bed time is now a struggle. And the routine is out the window. But whatevs. We’re having a good old time in Michigan.

 

Bath time with grammie is SO much more fun and interesting than bath time with mommy.

 

This is what bath time looks like in New Mexico. Hot springs just fifteen minutes from Hidden House!

 

And a cool little cowboy saloon. Yes, please!

 

Stephane scouted out some great little climbing spots just off the road. Easy access to climbing will be nice with Hugo. We still haven’t figured out how we are actually going to be able to climb with Hugo in tow, but we have some ideas brewing…

 

Trails and climbing galore, bright blue sky, no bugs, dry heat, wide, open space. It’s looking good so far, people! I am so excited to get there and see for myself! Next week Montrose, and then we’ll head down to our new home in New Mexico.

Good Night, Maine

I’m sitting on the guest mattress (our last piece of furniture left in Hurd House) tipping back the final few drops of an Allagash White – brewed in Portland, ME –  in honor of our last night in Maine. Stéphane’s covering night shift for one of the pilots so yes, I am drinking alone. But it’s a nostalgic-excited-nervous-celebratory kind of drinking alone so no need to call social services, people.

Tomorrow, after we pack up our last few items, we will endure the teeth-chattering, shock-destroying drive out of Hurd Point one final time. We will turn right on Upper Dedham and left on 1A. We might stop at “the little store” to grab an over-priced snack or some water (they can charge what they want, they’re the only show in town and they know it). Then we’ll take 395 south. We’ll cross the bridge over the Penobscot River one last time – and I know Stéphane will turn his head up river and look for the helipad at Eastern Maine Med, straining his eyes to see Echo Mike (his heli) one last time.

Then we’ll merge onto 95 south (ignoring the yield sign as we rightly should) and we will set our eyes to the wide open west, and the next big adventure.

We bought a book for Hugo at BJ’s (Maine’s equivalent of Costco) called “Good Night Maine”. When reading it to him we’d joke and read it as “goodbye Maine” because we’d hoped we’d get to say goodbye one day. Well, that day has come. So for tonight, this last night, I’ll say goodnight Maine. And tomorrow, goodbye.

Here we go, Hugo!

The master packer.

A visit during one of Stéphane’s final shifts at Life Flight of Maine.

To the Land of Enchantment

Sayonara, Vacationland: in less than two weeks, The Heftis hit the road for the Land of Enchantment!

 

So what do we know about New Mexico? Admittedly, not much. Wikipedia tells me that the roadrunner is the state bird (who knew?! Not me- I thought roadrunners lived only in the desert landscapes of Wile E. Coyote cartoons).

Mountain Project tells me there is some great rock climbing around the area, and, after some further research, I am excited to report there are miles and miles of mountain trails just waiting to be biked / ran / hiked.

There’s a lot of sunny, dry days; views for miles, open spaces, and public land. There’s not a lot of traffic, people, bugs, humidity, and trees.

Los Alamos, NM.

 

We will set up base camp at 7,300 feet in Los Alamos – a smallish mountain town spread out across several mesas with the Jemez Mountains uplifting to the west and the terminus of the Rocky Mountains a bit to the east.

It’s not Montrose and it’s not Colorado. But it’s close enough and Stephane and I are excited about what we have learned about the area. And we’ll be close enough to meet up with our Colorado crew, so we’re calling it a day for now. We’re headed back west and that is good enough for us!

 

While we are escaping the land of black flies, humidity, and endless trees, we must also part ways with our generous, caring, and fiercely supportive tribe. Our “girls”, V and Nicole; Kevin & Lorry, Kathy & Charlie, and “The Helges” (as we so lovingly call them). And Stephane must leave behind the most professional, tight-knit, and badass group of co-workers he has had the pleasure to fly with to date. So yeah, it’s sweet, but it’s a little bitter too.

 

For myself, professionally, Maine has allowed my business to grow and I am happy that I will be able to continue my work – remotely – with my newest client.

 

So, here’s to the road ahead: adventures with old and new friends and maybe, one day, a place to hang our hat for good.

And here’s to the road behind: we’d never be where or who we are now without traveling the windy, buggy, and bumpy road through Maine – picking up some awesome friends along the way and adding a little bug named Hugo to our family.

 

I’ll leave you with some images I stole from the internet. Trust me, we’ll be posting some of our own REAL soon!

 

 

A Day in the Life (4 months)

For some reason I can’t seem to remember much these days. Like, what were our days like when Hugo was one month? Three? No clue. I’m thinking this memory failure is a side effect of sleep deprivation. Or hormones, perhaps? Some cruel trick played on mothers so that they forget how hard this all is and decide to do it again…?

 

So to help me remember, here’s a little evidence of life at four months:

 

Hugo dictates when we wake up (unfortunately). And it’s usually somewhere between six and seven. I guess it could be worse so I’ll take it. After a breakfast bottle, the little man lounges on his psychedelic play mat – batting at flowers, clutching mr. frog to his mouth, and pulling relentlessly on his blue musical elephant.

 

He adores his flowers, which are actually a mobile but they are so much more interesting and interactive at two inches above the face than two feet. So they sit on top of the play mat, smiling down at Hugo each morning.

 

 

 

Speaking of the little man, here he is at four months. In a nine month onesie (they tell me this is normal- four month olds wear nine month clothing, six months wear 12, etc. Why can’t they make it easy on us poor sleep-deprived parents and make the clothing sizes match the actual age?!?!).

 

 

Hugo lives in a very musical home. Mommy practices guitar off and on throughout the day; daddy jams on the piano. And when neither of us are on a instrument, Stéphane makes sure the Bose is spitting out some good tunes (today it was the John Denver station on Pandora- Rocky Mountain High!!).

 

I have been putting in some solid practice time on the guitar these last few months. Hugo seems to enjoy it (even when I play the same five chords over and over and over again). Tom’s been bugging me for years to get a pick and I finally gave in- what a difference! So much more volume!

 

Dad bought me this guitar before I left for college. I’ve taken it with me everywhere I have roamed ever since (even on Free Range). Songs I am currently working on: Blackbird (Beatles), Teach Your Children (CSNY), and a few Amos Lee tunes that Stéphane likes.

 

Hugo and I read books as much as we can (and as much as Hugo tolerates). His current favorite is “Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb” (go figure it’s a musical book about drumming on drums).

This post on our daily life would not be complete (or honest) without mentioning my daily – and nightly – routine of pumping. I am currently down to five pumps a day (2am, 7am, noon, four, and seven P) averaging 35 ounces- WELL DONE mammary glands! Hugo’s triple chins thank you.

 

This is a thing of beauty and makes me oh-so-satisfied. We have four glass bottles that we use to feed Hugo each day. I am constantly feeding, washing, pumping, and refilling these four little bottles. In the early months, it was a rare occurrence to have more than one or two filled in advance and there were times we had to fall back on formula for a bottle or two while I caught up. But those days are over! I milk supply is consistent and plentiful. To date, I have pumped over 4,500 ounces (that’s 180 bottles of wine, in case you were wondering). ??

Oh, Dapple. How many of you have we gone through? I have lost count. I have to say I do enjoy your graphic- well done.

 

Our colorful bottle brush sees much action.

Isn’t he handsome?

One of my favorite books to read with Hugo – a French book from his Tante (Aunt) Yvonne and Oncle Fabio.

This chair has never been so empty as in these past four months. My business is still going well but it has been a struggle to make it fit properly and proportionately in our new lives.

 

The patterns, colors, and fabrics used for baby clothes and changing pad covers (this), play mats, diaper bags, etc., are whimsical, soft, vibrant, fun, and colorful. I wish they made adult clothing out of some of these funky fabrics. I would not think twice about rocking a pair of these whale pants.

 

Case in point – the boppy: fun and functional. I ❤ baby fabrics.

Myra spends her day shuttling between her three dog beds, anticipating the sounds of breakfast and dinner (spit out by auto feeder), and contorting herself into ridiculously yogic positions.

It’s a lady bug. I love this thing. When Hugo outgrows it, I’ll keep it around for my enjoyment.

Colorful, textured rings of plastic.

With his favorite toy of all time (all time being four months). We’ll see how he’s feeling about it at five months.

 

Ans there you have it- images of what Four Hefti Months looks like. Stay tuned for month five- which is now (I’m behind, go figure).

Snowmageddon

We finally got a taste of what a real Maine winter can look like after experiencing our first Nor’easter. All said and done, two feet of snow blanketed Hurd House. That’s a lot of snow to remove, particularly when the engine of the snowblower you just purchased on Craigslist decides to seize.

The beginning of the Nor’easter. Snow and crazy blizzards for hours.

Now, we have sold and purchased many items on Craigslist over the years and have, for the most part, always had positive experiences. I guess it was only a matter of time before we got screwed. It was just really, really bad timing. So, to the seventy-year-old man in Winterport who sold us the lemon machine, I say to you: what you put out into the world will come back to you in one way or another. Karma’s a b$%!#.

Digging out the truck so we an go get snowblower #2. This time around, we were fortunate enough to purchase from an honest seller.

Almost all of our neighbors have their own plows or intense-looking snow removal machines like this bad boy. Das Haus (yes, they named their house- and you would too if you saw this house) pushes snow in style and comfort.

 

Big snow drift built itself up against the side door.

 

That’s a lot of snow!

 

Myra’s in chest-deep.

 

Not only does Stéphane have the best ideas, but he can execute them like none other! Prototype #1 of the Hefti “Skoller” a stroller on skis.

 

The Skoller’s maiden voyage.

 

The storm and the snow was actually a fun and welcomed distraction from our daily routine.

Is it possible to have an eeeeep post without a ppicture of our sweet Hugo? No, it is not. Here you go:

All bundled up in his bear suit from Naeha Maussi

 

 

 

 

 

 

The whole night through

February 19th: Happy birthday Grams!!! Except I get the present today:

This is the face of a boy that just slept the whole night through.

 

For

the

first

time.

 

Smiles all around this morning!

 

 

 

Hugo flies!

Hugo’s four months and babies fly free ’til their two – so let’s fly home to Michigan and introduce him to his family!

At Bangor Airport waiting for our flight.

 

Unfortunately, a vacation to Michigan does not mean a vacation from pumping.

 

Hugo’s very first flight on a plane. He did great all things considering – we were stuck on the plane for TWO hours before it finally took off (waiting to get de-iced).

 

Channeling Princess Leia with his ear protection.

 

Here we go!

 

Hugo with Grammie. After a rough first day in Michigan – NO naps – Hugo settled in and got used to all of the attention and my very loud family. He was a champ and took it all in stride.

 

Hugo got to meet BOTH of his great grandmas – how cool is that? Here he is with Great-Grandma Wilma.

 

With Aunt Shelley

 

Grammie taught Hugo the patty cake song (now I do it all the time with him).

 

Daddy’s the best place to take a nap.

 

Grampie is fun!!

The flights back to Bangor were SO much better than the ones flying out. Note to self: fly early in the morning and get a direct flight if at all possible.

A good time was had by all and many lessons were learned in regards to travel with Hugo. He is proving to be a resilient and mellow little dude. He does cry – but guess what? He’s a freakin’ baby! Air travel was really not as overwhelming and scary as I thought it would be. Nice to have this first one under our belts – the next big trip will be to Switzerland at some point – hopefully this summer.

Irish Breakfast of Champions

It’s the morning of our last day in Michigan before flying home to Maine. We’d spent the past four days showing off Hugo to friends and family, playing euchre, and drinking Pete’s latest beer fave: Founder’s Rubais Ale (a raspberry-infused brew).

Dad says the same thing he’s being saying since he and mom were out to meet a two-week-old Hugo: “Hey you two, why don’t you go out on a date? We got Hugo.” Three and a half months ago, a date seemed like such a frivolous way to spend free time (with a two week old baby, any free time is best spent sleeping). Today, however, is a different story and we can’t get out of the house fast enough.

It’s 10:30 in the morning and we are on a mission to find a Bloody Mary. Driving down the Nautical Mile, all the restaurants are either closed for the season or closed until lunchtime. I’m ready to throw in the towel but Stéphane steps up and saves the day, finding Butter Run on Yelp.

I’ve driven by this place a million times growing up; over the years it’s had different names-  Mar Dee’s, Blue Star, etc. Today it is Butter Run. And today we strike gold in our choice of bar AND table – right next to two quality gents, Matt and John: hockey coaches in their free time and regulars at Butter Run.

Now I thought we were being a little crazy ordering a Bloody Mary at 10:30 on a Sunday morning, but these two made us look like saints in comparison, chasing their flights of whiskey down with shots of beer. We tell them it’s our first date since having Hugo and John says, “Well then, we need to celebrate with a round of Irish Breakfasts!” For those of you who do not know (I had no clue), an Irish Breakfast is a shot of Jameson followed by a shot of OJ topped off with a piece of crunch bacon. A little odd-sounding but quite a pleasant combination of flavors. Together we raise our glasses of Jameson and cheers, “to Hugo!”.

We could not have had a more enjoyable date spent in the fine company of Matt and John – who also picked up the tab on our breakfast! Thank you boys!!! We look forward to catching up with you again next time we are in town and breakfast is ON US then!!

With Matt and John, our Butter Run buddies.

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