A Great Deal Of Good

Two Septembers ago my family spent a few weeks in South Dakota. It wasn’t a vacation; it was a working trip. My husband tucked us away in the hills and commuted every morning into Rapid City. The kids and I did schoolwork and read and whiled away the remains of the day until he came back home. What we did not do was spend much time outdoors. At least, we did not spend much time outdoors without him, thanks to the overzealously detailed Beware of the Mountain Lion literature prominently displayed in the home we rented. Two pages of tiny-typed description featured six photographs of poses a {Continue Reading}

What’s a Little Rain?

Dad and I went to Yellowstone about a year ago—just the two of us, to the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, for a nature writing class—and we did some hiking and camping along the way. Most of the time, the end-of-August days delighted us with warm sun and cool air, but the forecast and cotton candy clouds foreboded rain. The clouds delivered a couple of afternoon spurts worth dragging out our yellow ponchos for. And once, while we walked the boardwalk to Echinus geyser, they brought hail. And every night for three nights, while we cooked our dinner, the sky sprinkled. Every {Continue Reading}

On Trials Shared

Gary Smalley, founder of the Smalley Relationship Center, says that the secret to a “close-knit relationship is shared experiences that turn into shared trials.” He mentions camping as one source for shared trials and a potential relationship-building activity. Makes sense. Camping is fraught with potential for trial. There’s the weather. The bugs. The work. The hard ground. He grants that you don’t have to camp to invite such trials. I agree. A picnic will do nicely. The year of the October heatwave that turned to snow, we adapted to the rain with less time on the trail and more time on the road. Lunchtime {Continue Reading}

Sometimes the Road is Dark

We don’t always get it right out on the trail. We knew it would be close. Still, we hopped out at the picnic area, grabbed a late lunch, and prepared to hit the trail to Harney Peak, the highest point in the Black Hills. My husband filled our camel paks while I reached into our well-stocked supply of nutritious and frivolous trail food. And then, at 3:00 in the afternoon, after an evening and part of a long day in the vehicle, we set out for Harney Peak. It was a six-mile loop, estimated to take four to five hours.  {Continue Reading}

The Quiet Walk

There is more to a hike than a pair of boots, a granola bar, and the trail. There’s technique. At least that’s what they taught in the hiking class I took to satisfy a  college P.E. requirement. I was slow to come to a love of hiking and didn’t yet have it when my roommate and I drove to the Wisconsin Dells to learn everything we needed to know about hiking. Twenty-five years later, of that everything, two stuck. First–and because we hike in the mountains, most useful–how to hike up a hill: Tackle it like you would a staircase, {Continue Reading}

Yeah, Little Girl, It Is

This is a revised version of one of my first and favorite posts. I’m revisiting it today because when it originally posted, Along This Road had all of five subscribers. (Thank you, by the way.) It’s different from the original because I’ve learned that no matter what the blogging experts say, bullet points are not my style. When my oldest daughter was four, we loaded our life and our stuff into a semi and moved across the state. One morning, while I unpacked, my dad took her out to explore the neighborhood. As they investigated the curved and convoluted sidewalk system {Continue Reading}

After the Rain

It was hot when we arrived in Montana. Ninety degrees hot. In October. After sweltering for a couple of days, we drove toward Yellowstone over the Beartooth Highway, where the balmy morning temperatures plummeted into winter, one degree at a time. By the time we made it to Mammoth, the front had chased away the heat. Second-summer had been usurped by cold and a grey, sunless sky. With our eyes fixed more on our plans than on the forecast, we began our journey to the summit of Mount Washburn. Questionable clouds morphed ominously and delivered a biting wind that blew {Continue Reading}

Falling Down In Denver

Occasionally my husband’s job requires him to travel. Once in a while, I tag along. He works while I spend silent hours with books. Our trip to Denver was different. He worked and I discovered HGTV. Forlorn and neglected, my books sat in a tidy stack on the bedside stand rather than spread across the desk. My attention was fixed on the transformation on the TV screen as I watched room after room go from dull and dysfunctional to lively and livable. What were books compared to the interesting ideas I could apply to our recently moved into home? After two {Continue Reading}

The Wrong Things

In their quest to unearth my son’s Star Wars chess set, my kids discovered a bundle of cards and letters I’d saved–drawings and cards they had given me, cards from my husband, and a letter from my dad. It was twenty-five years old, written during the early days of the summer I worked in Yellowstone National Park. Graduation was on Saturday afternoon and the party that evening. By midnight we were in the car, not just with what a family needs to travel 1,000 miles across the country, but with everything I thought I needed to live away from home {Continue Reading}