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#adventuresinmarriage

If you follow me on Instagram, #adventuresinmarriage is a hashtag you’ll see me use often. Aaron and I are constantly going on adventures, trying new things, and navigating life in general not just as a couple, but as best friends and family members. I mention this because while we were plant shopping over the weekend at Lowe’s Home Improvement, I had an intriguing conversation with the young man who rang up our purchase. He had previously addressed me as “miss” when he found me loitering near the register and offered his assistance; and when I informed him that I was just waiting for my husband so we could check out, he seemed a bit surprised. I assumed he had misjudged my age (just trying to be polite) which is a fairly common occurrence. He himself looked in his late teens/early twenties. But while he was scanning our various flowering plants he asked me some questions that, upon reflection, are quite amusing to me.

“If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?” He said this with particular inflection on the are.

“Twenty-six,” I replied.

“And you’re already married?” He had an astonished look on his face. “Shouldn’t you be out having fun and living your life?”

I couldn’t help but laugh. This isn’t the first time I’ve been subjected to this line of questioning and I’m sure it won’t be the last. I was barely 21 when I met my husband and was 23 when we were married.

“I’m having more fun with my husband than I ever did when I was young and single,” I explained. I eagerly tried to impress this upon him, despite his obvious skepticism. “We get to have fun and try new things and live happily ever after, like built-in BFF’s. What could be better than that?”

He immediately assumed that there had been some ulterior motive behind our partnership.

“Do you have a baby together?”

“We didn’t have to get married because I was pregnant, if that’s what you’re asking,” I said, a little more defensively than I had intended. The cashier started to backpedal in a confused panic.

“No, no, that’s not what I meant – I was just wondering if…” and I interrupted him before he felt any guiltier about what he’d implied.

“We’re planning on having kids, just not yet. We just moved here and we’re still settling in.” Then I tried to wrap up the topic on a positive note. “Getting married was the best decision of my life. I’m happier every day knowing that I have a partner now and for the rest of my days. Real, true love is liberating, not limiting.”

And with that, Aaron rejoined us and the conversation dropped off. But even after we left and were driving home I couldn’t shake my disappointment in the popular opinion that marriage or conventional family practices are something to be ashamed of. It’s a phenomenon I’ve encountered multiple times this year on social media and frankly, it’s pretty disheartening to think that the upcoming generation doesn’t think of traditional values as respectable or attainable.

Less recently I took part in a conversation (read: roast) about a related subject on Instagram. A woman had posted a picture of herself putting up her ring finger like she was flipping the bird, and with it a long, venomous caption chastising a financial institution for printing her marital status on her debit card. What the six-inch-long caption boiled down to was that she was pissed that her bank had printed “Mrs.” before her name on her debit card. Granted, I’ve never seen this put into practice in the US (she was from Britain, I believe – there’s no way for me to confirm this because she has since blocked me on Instagram) but even if it had happened to me, i wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I am, in fact, the “Mrs.” to my “Mr.”, a fact that I am immensely proud of.

Apparently not all women wear their titles as a badge of honor, as I do.

Hundreds of estrogen-fueled rants about gender inequality and discriminatory labels flooded into the comments. Dozens of women raged that as wives, we shouldn’t have to sport a title so degrading as “Mrs.” as if we are “property of our husbands.” Statements such as “Marriage doesn’t define me, I’m still my own person” surfaced along with testimonials of women retaining their maiden names because “marriage doesn’t change who I am.” Although these are all opinions, and everyone is entitled to one, I couldn’t disagree with their statements more.

Marriage HAS changed me, but for the better; I am more complete and content than I ever was on my own. I AM defined by my spouse, as he is defined by me – we are partners in this life, and prefer to live it side by side, working as a team, instead of independently (and apparently disdainfully.) And I find it disappointing and distasteful for these women to whip themselves into a patriarchy-bashing riot which accomplished nothing but unreasonably encouraged animosity towards their spouses and the male gender as a whole. Being only one of a handful of people who were brave enough to disagree with the feminist harpies, and after being bullied, threatened, and ridiculed for my differing beliefs, I closed with this statement:

“I hope none of your husbands read this post. How awful would that be for them to see what you all have said about the ones you vowed to love and to cherish? Shame on you.”

Take it or leave it, girls, because when it comes right down to it, my hubby comes first – and so should yours.

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Almost Heaven

My husband and I have both been working full time (plus overtime) as well as traveling to central Idaho on the weekends to help my parents renovate their second home, so in lieu of a normal update I’d like to share a few photos of our adventures where the land meets the sky.

The house is situated on 10 oblong acres above the Clearwater river in an area that residents are proud to call “almost heaven,” and the expansive views, tranquil silence and 360-degree mile-long views are a testament to its title.

Aaron and I have really enjoyed spending our weekends here with my parents. One of the only downsides of our relocation to Idaho is that we’re further away from family than ever before, so the opportunity to work, share meals, and visit with them again has been more than welcome.

 

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Easter Bunnies and Bulldogs

Aaron and I spent Easter in Washington with his family and visiting his grandmother. It’s the first trip we’ve taken since moving to Idaho and boy, was it a long weekend. We left after work on Friday night, and we collapsed into bed when we finally arrived in White Salmon after the 6 & 1/2 hour trip. To top off a restless night I awoke Saturday morning to the dog whining at the back door. Cookie is not a very vocal animal, and she never makes any noise when she wants or needs to go outside (we had to purchase “doggie bells” to hang on the door for this reason) so my intrigue outweighed my annoyance at the early hour.

Another thing about Cookie that everyone knows is that she is a lover. She adores people, especially children, and absolutely loves other animals – dogs, cats, cows and horses alike. So when I found her sitting in front of the sliding glass door whining to be let out, I couldn’t help but smile at the reason. There on Grandma’s porch sat a statue of an English bulldog complete with collar, name tag, and classic canine scowl. Apparently Cookie had mistaken it for a real dog and was literally begging to go outside so she could play with it!

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After I let her out onto the porch she quickly realized that the statue wasn’t a real puppy, and with a look on her face that could have been disappointment (or just my own anthropomorphic interpretation) she wandered off to explore the rest of the yard. Oh, the life of a dog!

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Valentine’s Day 2018

Being our first wedding anniversary that Aaron hasn’t been working out of town as well as our first holiday as residents of Idaho, I knew I wanted this Valentine’s Day to be special. While we visited Coeur d’Alene over the New Year we unfortunately missed the opportunity to take the famed Eagle Cruise, a birdwatching cruise hosted by CDA Resort during the winter migration of Bald Eagles through Northern Idaho. But the resort didn’t let me down this time!IMG_20180214_214144256.jpgIMG_20180214_214102491.jpgIMG_20180214_213954038.jpg

We boarded a double-decker ferry at the Resort docks, were seated at a table for two, clothed in white and set with champagne glasses, and patiently waited for our voyage to begin. The decor, the drinks, the food, and even the lighting was perfectly romantic! And running only $50 a person, a three-course dinner with complimentary toast aboard a ferry boat on the beautiful lake was an experience worth paying for. We enjoyed a good quality buffet-style meal and subsequently enjoyed our glasses of bubbly on deck, admiring the view from the top level and marveling at the engines through viewing windows on the bottom level. The staff was even kind enough to snap a photo of us on the bow of the “Kootenai” as she gracefully glided back to port.

Alas, I couldn’t let the night get away without a good story! As we took the photo together standing at the front of the boat, what you can’t see is the giant mountain of hard-packed snow that we’re standing on! We walk on snow all day long now that we live in Idaho, but what I didn’t think about while we were traipsing around the freezing deck was that my high heels had felt pads on the soles, which promptly froze solid after stepping off of Glacier Mountain to return to the heated dining room.

While I thought I’d wiped my shoes thoroughly on the door mat, we quickly discovered I was oh so very wrong. The second my feet hit the polished wood floor of the main hall I went into an instant (and incredibly unrefined) moonwalk across the entryway, As I slid from toe to toe for about ten feet I heard the whole room suck in their breath and wait for me to fall – but my loving and ever-attentive husband grasped my elbow and held me steady until we made it to our table, where I was able to pick the ice off the bottom of my shoes as I reveled in the safety and security of my bottom in my chair!

I also managed to make three dozen cake truffles and took them to work. Needless to say they were gone before the day was over!

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A very happy Valentine’s Day indeed.

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We Made It!

After many car troubles, potty breaks, and general FUBAR’s, we have finally made it to our new home! I start work Monday and Aaron is set to begin his new job at a moment’s notice. I’m sure the next few months will be nothing but hard work (unpacking, settling in, etc.) but I am so glad to be out of California it’s unreal! Idaho is affordable, quiet, friendly, and absolutely gorgeous. As I’m writing this I’m propped against the kitchen counter watching the midnight snow falling on the quiet neighborhood street. Over the top of our neighbors’ houses I can see what would appear to be a greenbelt but it in fact is national forest that stretches all the way to Montana. Such beauty and tranquility has me absolutely buzzing with excitement at what adventures our new home state will hold for us!

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Idaho: The Abridged Version

Aaron and I are relocating from northern California to the great state of Idaho. We’re not sure where exactly yet, but we know we no longer wish to reside in Redding, or anywhere else in California. After everything we’ve been subjected to in this state (skyrocketing crime, a broken penal system, financial hardship, among other things) we’ve decided there is no reason not to relocate now, when we don’t have anything preventing us from doing so. Because we are leaving my entire family behind, it was an incredibly hard decision to make, but we feel it’s what is best for us and our future as a couple and future family.

That being said, we could not have had more fun in the Gem State. Boise was quirky and hip; from there we traveled through forest after forest, only stopping for good food and the occasional excursion to stretch our legs. We left pins in Riggins, Lewiston, Lake Cascade, and St. Maries before finally driving up the east lide of Lake Coeur d’Alene, our predicted landing spot. We spend almost a week in the “City on the Lake,” met with a wonderfully warm community, boundless opportunities for recreation, a thriving job market, and affordable living costs. This is exactly why we came here, we decided. This is what we were looking for and it’s what we found easily throughout most of the state, although CDA was our definite favorite town, not in the least for its resemblance to Lake Tahoe, a magical and meaningful place for my husband and I.

So we’ve returned to Redding with a renewed thrill for what the future holds for us, and an overwhelming sense of wanderlust. We cannot wait to get out of Commie-fornia and begin this new chapter in our lives. The next step is to take another trip upstate to secure housing, and then it’s all moving from there!

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Sunken Road, Whiskeytown Lake


Duration: Day Trip, 2-4 hours

Distance: 0.7 miles, 0ft elevation gain

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Region: Shasta County, CA

Nearby Cities: Redding

Traffic: Moderate-High

Day Use/Parking Pass: Day Use or Annual Park Pass Required

Dogs Allowed: Yes

Restrictions: Dogs must be leashed on trails

Many locals know the history of Whiskeytown Lake Reservoir. Parallel to countless other mountainous areas of Northern California, a small boomtown was erected in the 1840s following the discovery of gold in ‘dem hills, and faded just as quickly following the exhaust of local resources and human spirit. Construction of the dam on the southwest side of the canyon began in 1960 and between then and its dedication by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, buildings and residents were moved out of the area or to higher ground. Anything left behind was flooded and lost beneath the waves not unlike the fabled City of Atlantis. Although most of the ruins were demolished or have been taken over by the underwater elements, some remnants can be seen by scuba divers who take the plunge into the murky freshwater depths, reaching over a hundred feet deep in some places. A piece of this history, however, is accessible to those who possess even the most limited watercraft.

Southeast of Oak Bottom Marina (point your nose toward New York Gulch) at 40°38’34.2″N 122°34’42.5″W is the remnant of Hwy 299 that runs on the north side of the lake. Just a foot below the water level at the end of summer, the pavement and even some slimy yellow and white lines are visible beneath the silt that has settled on top of the asphalt.

Just a healthy paddle from the marina (if you’re looking for a good workout via kayak) and accessible by boat, this hidden gem is a corridor for visitors and wildlife alike.

For residents as well as tourists this is a unique stop during on-water activities and is a marvel for children to behold. Although we didn’t take Cookie along for this trip I’m sure she would have loved to splash around on the pavement beside our boats, and it would certainly mean more stability during her usual mounting and dismounting of my kayak. The narrow passageway that signifies the former byway is bordered by groves of fresh blackberries ripe for the picking. I gathered enough while paddling around to make a double cobbler. If you haven’t picked blackberries via kayak, I highly recommend it! We found immense outcroppings growing on the edges of the lake that are only accessible via boat, and given that they’re away from greedy fingers and close to fresh water and direct sunlight, it’s no surprise these are the best berries on the lake.

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Ready to Run

Aaron and I have been housesitting for family for the past two weeks, so while our adventures have taken a back burner to chores and pet watching, I wanted to revisit a few of my favorite foot trails here in Redding. Cookie loves to run and play so we are out jogging every chance we get, but finding safe, dog-friendly places to go can be difficult. Check out these spots if you’re looking for a great workout and you’d like to bring your pup along.

Redding River Trail

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The Sacramento River Trail has been a local favorite for many decades. Boasting over 20 miles of hiking, biking, and walking trails, it borders many of Shasta County’s most scenic areas, including the 44 Bridge to Downtown Redding, the Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay, Redding River Park, Keswick Dam and Reservoir, and even reaching all the way to Shasta Dam via the Sacramento Ditch Trail.

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In more recent years however these trails have become a point of contingency for local activists and trailgoers. The increasing frequency of littering, squatting and even assault and battery have deterred many cyclists and joggers from attending the trails closer to Downtown. 

We prefer to run on Hornbeck Trail, accessible from Quartz Hill Road just a ten-minute drive from anywhere in central or West Redding. While a bit rocky in some places, the trail is mostly clear of brush and debris, poison oak is sparse, and traffic is usually light or nonexistent, and it even features benches and a vault toilet restroom close to the parking area. Cookie loves to play in the reservoir or frolic in the adjacent creek on a hot day. 

Clear Creek/Swasey Trail System

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Because habitual joggers are being forced out of town and onto more rural trails, Clear Creek Gorge and the Swasey Trail System have become increasingly popular destinations. The well maintained paths aren’t as scenic as the River Trail but have unique upgrades such as a gazebo area with picnic tables, plyometric equipment, and even a monument standing at Horsetown containing a bit of local history even I was unaware of. Clear Creek is also great for swimming in summer, but be cautious of areas with rapid water, as the creek is known to be a rafting/tubing destination and a few unfortunate accidents have occurred in the Gorge over the years.

WARNING: The trail crosses Clear Creek Road multiple times over the duration of the full hike, so always keep pups leashed and be careful of oncoming traffic while crossing the road. This is a winding country road and many drivers go faster than what allows for safe stopping distance. Stop, look, and listen for traffic (remove headphones if you’re playing music) before resuming your run.

The Swasey trail continues on to Whiskeytown Lake’s southern trail system, and for those who enjoy long-distance running, hiking or backpacking, this is a fabulous gateway to all that the National Park has to offer.
Whiskeytown Lake Trails

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Whiskeytown Lake has over 50 miles of walking, hiking, biking, horseback and backpacking trails to be utilized right at Redding’s backdoor. The year-round trails are constantly maintained, frequently visited, and well illustrated through many trail maps and guides available online and in print. Cookie and I have personally hiked nearly every trail in the NRA, but our favorite trails are the four on the Waterfall Passport, which can be printed off the park’s website or picked up at the Visitor Center. At each waterfall there is a plate which can be rubbed (with chalk or colored pencil) and when all four have been completed, turned in for a reward – a colorful bandana stating “I Walked The Falls.” 

Almost every time we finish a hike or jog in the park, we stop on the shoreline along the highway and have a dip and a game of fetch at one of the many sandy beaches on the lake.

Remember:

ALL the listed trails require dogs to be leashed and preferably well-behaved. Please remember to bring doggie bags as well. Nobody likes to dodge land mines on their walk or jog!

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Faery Falls/Ney Springs

Duration: Day Trip, 2-4 hours

Distance: 1.2 miles, 300ft elevation gain

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Region: Siskiyou County, CA

Nearby Cities: Mt. Shasta hi

Traffic: Low-Moderate

Day Use/Parking Pass: None

Dogs Allowed: Yes

Restrictions: Dirt access road is not maintained, low clearance vehicles not recommended

Being a lifelong resident of Shasta County, I relish any opportunity to venture somewhere I haven’t already heard of or been to. As it turns out, Faery Falls/Ney Springs was one of those opportunities that was right under my nose! We love to visit Siskiyou/Castle/Heart Lakes, and the falls and preceding ruins are tucked into Ney Springs Canyon just before the turn onto Castle Lake Road.

The hike is a fairly easy one leading gently uphill on even ground(with the exception of one 100ft uphill slope), although in early July there was quite a bit of mud on the trail, purportedly due to the extended snowpack here in Northern California from the heavy winter we had this year. There were a few things I really appreciated along this trail: we had no company for the duration of the hike and about an hour at the waterfall; the majority of the trail is nicely shaded and well-traveled; it is dog-friendly and although Cookie didn’t accompany us this trip, the pool below the falls is perfect for fetching or paddling pups, large or small; and finally, the bit of local history that comes with this trip is as intriguing as it is elusive.

John Ney discovered the springs in 1887 and the resort was erected shortly after, boasting a hotel, a bathhouse, and various other outbuildings that drew visitors for many years. Presently the remains of the resort are few and far between, consisting of a few stone walls, a fountain, and a cistern that have all been reclaimed by creeping foliage. These ruins are an interesting feature, so if you’re planning on taking the hike to Faery Falls, stay for an extra daylight hour and take some time to explore the ruins, which can be seen from the trail and followed to the major remains. There are ruins of the carriage house foundation as well as a moderately well-preserved cistern.

At the end of the trail, standing only 40 feet tall, the falls were quaint and refreshing. Even in July the water was cold enough to hurt your bare feet! 

Wildlife was scarce this trip, but we were lucky enough to spot a garter snake swimming through the pool, and various songbirds could be spotted in the trees, as well as the occasional chipmunk.

All in all I would definitely revisit Faery Falls and bring the dog along for the hike. This was a great little excursion for family and out-of-town visitors.

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Ahjumawi State Park

Duration: Day Trip, 4-6hrs or overnight

Distance: 3+ miles

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Region: Eastern Shasta County, CA

Nearby Cities: Fall River Mills, Burney

Traffic: Low-Moderate

Day Use/Parking Pass: Permit required for overnight camping only – $15.00

Dogs Allowed: Yes

Restrictions: Only access is by boat; no motorized watercraft allowed

Over the weekend, Aaron and I went with my parents and two of our closest friends to kayak at Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park, one of the most unique areas I’ve seen in Northern California. The park, in its entirety, is only accessible to the public by boat, and while moderately remote in its far eastern corner of Shasta county, was a geographic wonder and ecological treat to behold.

The area was home to a tribe of the Pit River Indians who were called Achumawi, meaning “where the waters come together,” paying homage to the abundance of crystal clear freshwater springs that funnel directly into various ponds, lakes, and rivers that conglomerate within the park. The only entry point is a boat ramp at what is called the Rat Farm, a Pacific Gas and Electric access road that dead ends at a canal which formerly bordered a muskrat farm (the farm closed in 1930 but still shows its effect on the ecosystem through the abundance of large rodents inhabiting the park.)

The trip begins with a paddle: after a half mile of kayaking through the stagnant (and frog-laden) canal we reached an open area which is considered Big Lake and crossed its  southern arm before reaching our first destination: Horr Pond Campsite #8, which is located at the northernmost point of the pond and boasts a multitude of amenities including a quality boat dock, restroom facilities, a large campsite, enclosed trash cans, a bear box and an upgraded fire pit. But the first campsite along the shoreline was not what we were ultimately seeking. The water here, in mid-July, was thick with sun-tanned cakes of pond scum and barely passable in our 10ft boats, so we pressed onward to Crystal Springs campground and were pleasantly surprised to find a group of shady campsites situated around one of the park’s main inlets.​

This side of the pond lacks any upgraded docks or ramps, so as long as you don’t mind getting your feet wet, there are plenty of places to pull up and disembark. We chose to take lunch at the campsite, which has the same upgrades as the first on the pond, but with a few additional landmarks. Northeast of the picnic area there stands a degrading boathouse, an interesting remnant of the park’s early improvements, and just up the shoreline trail on the south side is the namesake of the campsite – Crystal Springs.

Here the water is sparkling clear, crisp, and refreshing. We didn’t drink from the spring not knowing its potability, but the dogs enjoyed themselves the most here, basking in the icy cold volcanic snowmelt and swimming along the fish traps, originally erected by the tribes that inhabited the wetlands hundreds of years ago. This primitive hatchery is considered to be one of the first exhibits of fishery on the continent, encouraging spawning and limiting fishing seasons in order to preserve populations for annual harvesting.

Another 2 miles up the trail are a few lava tubes which left us unimpressed. The entry caves were barely 5ft tall and were full of bats (a.k.a. not ideal for dogs), the tubes barely big enough to belly crawl through, and couldn’t be further explored without special equipment. 

After a quick resting – and cooling down, thanks to the air-conditioned quality of the underground air – in the antechamber of the largest cave, we trudged back to the campsite in the sweltering afternoon heat. This excursion, while short and gently sloping, was not worth the effort in my opinion; the trail is poorly marked, overgrown, and in direct sunlight in its entirety.

After (another) quick rest back at Crystal Springs, we decided to take the short walk west along the shoreline to Ja She Creek, a shady stroll well worth the extra steps, in contrast to the lava tube hike. The creek is wide and flat on the north side, making for fantastic swimming, before it funnels beneath a footbridge at such a rate it creates a visible current as it enters the main pond.

Overall, Ahjumawi Park was a treat for all who attended, and we will definitely be returning someday for an overnight trip.

Elizabeth’s Trip Tips:

  • Pack plenty of drinking water for human consumption. We brought what we initially thought was too much but were overzealous in our drinking due to the heat and humidity. And while there is plenty of clean water access for dogs, be careful not to let your pets drink too much pond water. Stagnant water isn’t good for anything in large amounts, and even canines can contract parasites like giardia, coccidia, or worse.
  • Bring your tackle gear! While we didn’t get any bites midday, Horr Pond and the surrounding waterways are renowned for their remarkable catfish, largemouth bass, and native rainbow trout.
  • Even for the most experienced paddlers and especially for beginners or infrequent kayakers, moleskin or athletic tape would be handy to prevent blisters. I kayak frequently but still sustained some pretty serious thumb blisters from the extended paddle.
  • If you make it to Ja She Creek, press on to the abandoned farmhouse west of Ja She campground. While we didn’t get to it this  time, my parents have visited the area before and said it was an intriguing feature to be explored.
  • Be prepared for possible wildlife encounters – bear, coyote, and raccoon scat were fresh and abundant. Whistles and bear spray are good investments if you don’t already carry them, especially with dogs around. The last thing your pup needs during their adventure is a fight with a wild animal!