Flower Power Trip: Book Review📚

flower power

by

James J. Cudney

5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Kellan Ayrwick and his quirky family are all back for this third installment in the Braxton Campus Mystery Series.  Kellan, now professor Ayrwick, is assisting the Braxton College President, Ursula Power, who is receiving threatening messages. Ursula is worried that her dark family secret will be revealed, when a visiting professor is found stabbed to death during a college fundraising event. Kellan stumbles across the murder scene just as a family friend is discovered standing over the dead body. Unwilling to believe that this friend is a murderer, he now takes on the challenge of solving the crime, all the while continuing to assist Ursula to uncover her tormentor. Are the two incidents linked somehow?

Balancing his penchant for stumbling into crime scenes, along with teaching duties and single parenting his young daughter, is all the more difficult with his continuing battle with his former in-laws, the Castiglianos. How will he resolve his own marital problems, while helping his cantankerous Nana D win the mayoral election and keep her, and her friends out of trouble!

murder series

I am really enjoying this cozy mystery series as each story is entertaining, light-hearted (if you can label murder light 😉) and full of humorous personalities. I truly don’t know where the next twist will come from or how the resolution will play out. As any good series, each book could be read as a stand alone, but I strongly recommend starting from the beginning, as the characters become more vibrant, endearing and relatable as they navigate new challenges. I will be pre ordering Jay’s next book in this series, Mistaken Identity Crisis, ASAP!

On a personal note….I feel blessed to call Jay a friend. He is an outstanding person who I have enjoyed getting to know, and had the great chance to meet in person. Because I stalk him with regularity, it was fun to see a number of “easter eggs” in this last novel. For those who read his blog regularly you will also catch a few of these gems woven throughout the narrative. So fun, thanks for the treasure hunt my friend💕

IMG_2523

About the Author 

James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

Purchase Jay’s  current series here!

Academic Curveball

Broken Heart Attack

Flower Power

Author Links

Blog:https://thisismytruthnow.com

Author Website:https://jamesjcudney.com

Social Media Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/James-J.-Cudney/e/B076B6PB3M/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

 

Advertisements

Climbing and Hiking in Red Rock Canyon, Vegas Baby! 🧗‍♀️❤️

Meet the climbers😊

1548128077745

Climbing trips are a fluid affair. So many factors have to come together to make these happen. Weather changes, people pop in and out, skin rips and muscle aches can get in the way…. You get the idea.

I tried to remember all this, and temper my excitement for this adventure. But how can you not get excited? Look at the beauty of this place! 😊

The genesis for this trip began months earlier, when our son, Ryan, told us he would be joining us in Tucson for the winter months. Of course, we would be climbing in Arizona, but what else could we do? Ryan had the answer to that! Red Rock Canyon is only a six-hour drive away, and just outside of Las Vegas, so plenty of campsites, hotels and restaurants in the nearby area. So, the planning began…..

 

While Dennis and I drove from Redmond, WA to the Rose bowl in Pasadena, Ryan and his buddy, Elle, would head directly to Arizona (with our cat in their car 😼), and we would all meet up at our house, in Tucson.

Ryan and Elle spent a couple of days at our house, recuperating from the 22+ hour, marathon drive, with Monti. By the way, the cat did great in the car 😲. We were all shocked by that! Which gave the three of us an opportunity to do a little climbing at MT Lemmon.

The following day, Ryan and Elle set out for Red Rocks. Dennis and I would not leave for another couple of days, this gave Ryan and Elle an opportunity to climb without us slowing them down! They are both very strong, and fast climbers!

Finally, we packed our car and set out, I was getting very excited🤩

img_0630

We arrived later in the day, as the sun was beginning to lower. Ryan wanted to send his project, a route called “Yin and Yang“, which turned out to be a 5.11a trad, crack climb found in Gateway Canyon.

img_0656

Look at this monster!

The hike to get there was rather steep, but Dennis and I welcomed the chance to move around, after the 6 hour drive. But, when we saw this….😳 gulp!  Ryan asked me to film his attempt.

The hike into Gateway Canyon was quite pretty.

img_0651

And Dennis found a great spot to watch Ryan climb

img_0661

As the light was fading, it was time for his best shot 🤞

 

img_0650

Ryan preparing to climb

Here are a few shots of him sending this!

img_0680

img_0681

img_0663

img_0666

And the full video, which is 4 minutes long

The rest of us hiked to the top to check out the anchor Ryan had to build.

img_0671

img_0669

That’s my foot at the top, looking back down to the start of the climb

Pretty cool, huh?! This will never be me 😂 We all hiked out and had a good dinner!

The next day, it was our turn to lay hands on the sandstone, for the first time! We went to Cannibal Crag in the Calico Basin area. The route I am on is “A Man in Every Pot”. It is only a 5.8, but my first lead on this rock. I would eventually repeat this climb again on the last day of the trip, and was much more efficient on it 😊

img_1097

I set the rope for Dennis so he could top rope it.

img_2522

img_2525

Elle took a turn on one of the nearby 5.11 routes

img_0695

img_0699

Dennis and I climbed another of the lower rated routes

Then we went around the corner, to the sunny side of the rock-it was a cool day with plenty of wind.😬

These routes on this side were harder, so Ryan and Elle had projects to work on.

img_0706

img_1121

This was also Elle’s last day 😔 Ryan took her to the airport while Dennis and I played around on Caustic, a 5.11b route that we could top rope. We gave it a couple tries but did not send it. Next time!!

Since Dennis and I were on our own for the afternoon, we went back for lunch and then decided some hiking would be in order.

You do not have to be into climbing to enjoy this park. There are tons of hikes, from very easy to quite difficult, to give you an amazing experience😄

img_0741

As you can see by the clouds building up behind us, weather in the Las Vegas area was preparing to change. We would stay dry through this hike, but forecasters were calling for rain, pretty much any day now.

We made our way to the visitor center, which was basically empty at this time of week and day. We did get our first wild burro sighting!

We toured around the visitor center, but got bored, fast!

img_0085

We needed to get out and hike!

img_0768

panoramic shot from the visitor’s center

We chose, what we would later come to understand, as the least attractive hike from the visior center. Still, not too shabby!

The next day was “arrival day”, Andy Nelson would be joining us in the afternoon. Since we needed to pick him up from the airport, and the threat of rain was in the air, we opted for another hike, which is faster than a day of climbing. We did a few miles in Pine Creek Canyon.

fullsizerender

img_0799

img_0804

We split up here. Ryan and Andy went out to climb for the second half of the day, Dennis and I decided to give them some space. We did want to climb however, so we went to a nearby, indoor gym.

Red Rocks Climbing Center

This is an old school gym, taped routes, but lots of them! We concentrated on bouldering and treated it as a training day. We met up with Andy and Ryan for dinner and said good-bye to Dennis, as he was driving home, to Tucson, early the next day😔.

The following morning, I was on my own. Andy and Ryan were off to do a long, multi pitch route, and I would meet them later in the afternoon to climb (if the weather held out 🤞). I went for a run, which turned out to be a good cross training moment!

After a late lunch, the three of us returned to Cannibal Crag for some sport climbing.

I really only had time for one lead climb, but I was happy to get out there!

img_0910

img_0908

I was surprised by this run out at the top! The route, “Caliban”, had three bolts and then quite a bit of unprotected climbing to the anchor. It was only a 5.8,  but still. A fall here would have been a decent drop, and a fair pendulum swing 😲, but I sent it.

img_0906

Ryan pretty much took the rest of the daylight working on his project, “Fear This Sport”, a 5.12b/c climb. Andy was there for him!

img_0874

img_0876

img_0881

img_0884

img_0886

img_0889

Ryan did not get this one. And, we were running out of daylight!

img_0898

It was actually quite dark, and cold at this point

We hiked out with head lamps and crashed early that night.😂

The following, and last full day, was difficult as the weather was really unpredictable and we were all feeling a little sore from all the activity of the last few days. We started out with a multi pitch in mind, but then aborted when we saw the massive drainage ditches that would control any flash flooding that may occur.

img_2594

img_2595

Andy checking out our options!

This ended up being another hike, but with full gear😬

Off to another, safer area, at least from a weather perspective! Dog Wall had several, not simple routes. Andy started off looking for something easy, but we never found it😂

Then Ryan dove in!

img_0922

As did Andy!

img_2601

I was just a cold belay bitch at this point!!😂😂😂

fullsizerender-2

And photographer,

img_0917

This is nearby, Circus Wall. I would like to come back to this one!

We ate lunch and went back to Cannibal Crag for a few last pitches, just as the rain drops began falling.

That’s when the rain hit, hard! Ryan and I decided to end our trip early because sandstone requires a full 24 hours to dry out before you can resume climbing. And, the forecast was for several days of rain.

We had one last half day, so Andy, Ryan and I went back to Red Rocks Climbing Center for the rainy morning.

img_0944

img_0948

img_0950

img_0952

While the guys lead, I bouldered and traversed. Another good training session for me😊

Even though it rained, we did get a special treat! Alex Honnold and Brad Gobright were both there, training!!! 🤩 So cool to see climbing celebrities. And, no I did not get pictures of them, I would never bother them that way. I guess you will just have to believe me💕

Our last official order of business, before driving away, was to have lunch at one of Andy’s favorite restaurants.

img_0959

Momofuku is a Japanese restaurant in The Cosmopolitan Casino, located on the strip. It was my first time eating authentic ramen. Wow, pretty good stuff 😋

img_0966

We all ordered the same dish! I really liked it, and would definitely go again😄

Same with Red Rocks! There are so many climbs, and so little time! Thank you Ryan, Dennis, Elle and Andy, for sharing this adventure with me! Love you all❤️

My Blog is Two Years Old, So Now What?🤷‍♀️

image_560617522005481

Invisible-no-more turned two in the month of November, 2018. With that milestone, and the New Year beginning, I got to thinking. How is my blog doing? Is it the same after two years of personal growth, and all the changes that have happened since I began this journey?

Honestly, there have been many times, particularly over the last 6 months, when I have felt guilty about my blog. I have not posted regularly, or been prompt reading other blog posts. I am slow to respond to comments and feel terrible when bloggers, who I truly care about, have waited for me to “get around” to acknowledging them.

I want to be clear here, no one has made me feel this way! Not one harsh word or comment has ever been communicated to me-this is my guilt, my issue. So, I need to either close down the blog, or figure out a better balance with my new, more active (and fun) life!

I don’t want to end my blog, it has brought too much into my life. I have met amazing people, learned too many new lessons and it has enriched my existence beyond words. Instead, I want to analyze my current situation and attempt to bring a clarity to this process. My goal is to write content that is truly engaging, as well as meaningful to me personally.

I got an idea from Amy at Bedlam and Daisies. She took a look at her top blog posts from last year. And, I thought this might be a great place for me to start this analysis. I am looking for trends in what spoke to readers. So, without further ado:

The top ten posts of 2018, ranked by “likes”

  1. Yoga Retreat, One more time –

    2. The Final Family Climb in Tucson

    3. I Am So Touched and Humbled By This!growning self blogger award

4. Leftover Ham? No Problem

IMG_4089

5. Great Article From a Like Minded Blogger

img_4631

6. King Cake for Mardi Gras

7. A Precious Gift

8. Standard Route on MT. Lemmon

9. Eating and Drinking Our Way Through The Tucson Botanical Gardens, Savor Tucson!

10. Sally’s Baking Addiction, January Challenge: Conquering Yeast

So, what have I learned from this exercise? For one thing, I have had an amazing year! And, all 10 of these posts are from Jan and Feb 😳 Clearly I started off strong, posting more often, and then let too much time pass between entries.

Variety seems to be key as well. Travel posts did as well as adventure and baking. That seemed to be true as I expanded this list to the top 20 blog posts.

If this is true, then people like the variety but don’t know when to look at my blog, because I am too inconsistent.

Other posts that did well, by this limited metric, included my fellow bloggers. Both posts from my trip to Montreal, where I visited with 3CStyle, ArtyPlantsman and Mainepaperpusher (aka, Dominique💕 ,Darren💐 and Linda🐉) did well. As did my book reviews for James (Jay) Cudney, author extraordinaire 📚 and I have two other books of his in the hopper to post!

What did not do so great? Some of you may remember that I participated in the April “Blogging from A to Z” Challenge in 2018. This was a great challenge for me as I posted daily in the month of April. The posts were pretty detailed and time-consuming, but I was happy that I did it! But, since they were not well received, and took an immense about of my resources, I will not join this year.

Sally’s Baking Addiction challenges are hit and miss. Generally, they are well liked and, because I truly enjoy them, I will continue this through 2019. I have been doing these challenges since their inception by Sally, and although I am often at the absolute deadline, I have made each and every one. I have also learned a few new skills along the way, which makes this worth it for me 😊

So, with this cursory look at my blog stats, here is what I am planning. I would like to set the personal goal of a minimum of two posts per month. One will be related to an activity or travel experience and the other will by Sally’s monthly challenge. I envision that the personal write up would be at the beginning of the month, and the baking post near the end (as that seems to be my default pattern 😉). There may be the rare occassion that I might get three posts in for a month, and I am ok with that!

The point here is that I am going to challenge myself to be a better blog buddy, participate regularly with the blogging community and hold myself more accountable to the overarching goal of my blog maintenance.

happy-new-year-2019-png_145039

 

Learning From a Pro: Food Photography & Food Styling Workshop 📸

FullSizeRender

I was blessed to have such an amazing summer! So many wonderful trips and fantastic experiences 😊. Here we are in November, about a week from Thanksgiving, and I am still playing catchup with my blog!!😳

This food photography workshop, which I attended in early October,  is just one of those amazing experiences. I first learned of Clare Barboza from a friend in Seattle.  Leslie, my friend of many years, knew about my passion for baking and had seen many of my photos on Instagram. Probably why she recommended Clare’s workshop to me 🤣😂🤣! I’m kidding! Leslie has always been very supportive of my crazy Insta adventures.

When I first began researching this opportunity, Clare was splitting her time between her two studios, one in downtown Seattle and the other in Vermont. She has since chosen to focus her business at the Vermont location, which better supports her family. I instantly fell in love with her photography style and decided, rather quickly, that I wanted to attend her weekend workshop where she would educate us on lighting, composition, and use of props in food styling. I had never been to Vermont, and it would be in the fall when everyone says it is gorgeous, so I signed up!

FullSizeRender-2

Brattelboro is a cute, little town that I really did not explore 😔 I did not leave myself enough time to poke around! I flew in late Friday and out early Monday, leaving two full days to absorb as much photography knowledge as possible (and hit a local climbing gym 😉, priorities you know).

Clare’s studio is beautiful, bright and full of fantastic props for her photography.

IMG_7144

The left side of the studio is all windows, allowing the natural light to stream in during a large portion of the day.

Clare prefers natural light and the large set of windows allows her to alter the directionality as the day progresses.

IMG_7152

It helps to have a fully functional kitchen when specializing in food photography

Clare’s husband helped her remodel the kitchen area, which is airy and bright. Pretty handy guy to have around!! And, check out the view from the kitchen window.🌳

She wanted to divide this large space, and used these vintage window frames. I loved the look of these, and had to snap a pic.

IMG_7148

The other half of the studio was full of props! I was so jealous😂. I had a ball picking out surfaces of various colors and textures.

IMG_7155

Clare’s husband made these boards, again, a handy dude!

She also had vinyl surfaces of various colors and textures to choose from for backgrounds.

IMG_7159

Her collection of place settings!! Anything you could think of was available to enhance our scenes. Dishes, cups, silverware, bowls ….. I was in heaven💕

IMG_7157

This is only a portion of the full collection

We would begin each day with a short lecture/discussion about a certain topic. If you have ever attended a photography class, you will have heard of many of these same themes.

IMG_7160

The class getting ready to learn

Clare mixes concepts with actual hands on practice. I loved this! We had many opportunities to hone our skills. We began with a discussion on light and how to redirect it when needed. We also talked about composition, leading lines and depth of field. Many of these are topics covered in any photography class, but Clare gave us tips and ideas specific to food. And, she shared many of her gorgeous pictures and how she set them up.

Throughout the two days, we would be given five assignments. We could take as many pictures as we wanted, but had to choose one or two, from each task, for a critique on the last day. This was harder than it sounded! Sometimes I had many pictures I liked and others I couldn’t find one😲!

Our first assignment was to shoot a drink with backlighting. She provided us with different colored drink mixes, garnishes and sent us to work! At first I was not very comfortable just grabbing her supplies, and I was overwhelmed by so many options to choose from! I took over a hundred pictures and kept only 10! A theme that I would repeat many times over the course of the weekend.

I tried to challenge myself to create two different looks with this assignment.

10766576896_IMG_4193

This was a backlit, fresh and airy feel

 

10766318688_IMG_4209

Here I used the same drink but went for a more holiday, evening look.

Our next assignment was to photograph a charcuterie display. Clare set out a huge array of meats, cheeses, crackers and assorted goodies. This is my heaven!🥖🧀🍎

IMG_7165

She demonstrated her thought process, how she would approach this shoot.

IMG_7164

She told us the mood, or feel she was trying to create

She arranged, and then rearranged the components until she liked the composition.

IMG_7171

She added props to tell the story.

IMG_7177

And took test shots at various angles.

FullSizeRender

Now it was our turn, yikes!

10766306112_IMG_4212

This is just one of my many attempts

 

10766641088_IMG_4223

I decided to add some height by rolling the salami and placing it upright.

I don’t know if I succeeded in this assignment, but I was full, as we were encouraged to eat the cheeses 😋

Lunch was included in the price of the workshop, and I thought it was the charcuterie ingredients, but Clare made us a delicious, and much healthier option. Her soup was wonderful, and really topped me off! She also offered us a tasty dessert, chocolate!🍫

IMG_7161

Our afternoon assignment was pasta! Clare provided us with the makings of an excellent pasta bar: several different shapes of noodles, two different sauces (red, and white), several garnishes, even bread for the pictures.

Our task was to put together an attractive dish and shoot it from above and at a 3/4 angle. Again, I took so many shots, and chose these three for the critique.

10765734832_IMG_4242

 

10765732480_IMG_4259

 

10766112912_IMG_4228

It was so fun to see what the class came up with! We were all very different from one another.

Day 1 had come to a close, and I know I was kinda beat. Being creative on demand is mentally taxing for this science based person 😊. We had also been rather passive all day and I was in desperate need of some physical activity!

I had researched climbing gyms nearby and found one in Hadley Massachusetts, only and hour away😳 Central Rock Climbing Gym was just what I needed that night!

IMG_7205

Unfortunately they did not have auto belays, so I only bouldered. But I did send an inverted V4 😁 Very happy about that!

IMG_7207

I will definitely spend more time here, if I get the chance!

The next day was to be the “tough” day. I didn’t really know what Clare meant by that, but found out fast! She meant that we would be photographing food that is notoriously hard to make pretty.

This second day highlighted the food styling portion of the class. We discussed choosing a mood or vibe, and how to select props that enhance, but not overshadow the food.

And, we went over the dreaded color wheel 😫 I say dreaded because I just struggle with that thing!

Our first assignment was salad photography and I decided to face my color wheel issue head on! That meant trying to figure out the complementary color thing. I have seen many green salads paired with blue backgrounds, and everyone else loves it.

So…

10795337408_IMG_4283

And I hate it! A number of other students liked this. I did like the choice I made with the linen, as it has the red stripe that I liked with the strawberries, but the rest…. oh well, I will keep working with the wheel.

The last assignment for the workshop, Clare called “the canned soup challenge”. And this was tough! We were to take a can of soup and make it look appealing, somehow.  If you have not opened a can of soup lately, give it a go, it may shock you how horrible it looks! All the “green” vegetables (like peas and beans) are a mucky shade of brown/green 🤢 One of the students chose a lentil soup and, I am not joking, it looked like dog food!

One advantage here is that I do make a lot of soups and stews and have photographed them for this blog. So I have practiced a bit already. Still, this was a tough one!

10795590272_IMG_4307

We were allowed to use some fresh garnishes like herbs or sour cream. I tied a bundle of peppers together to add some color too and chose a monochromatic palette in the hopes that the colors would appear more vibrant. At least I liked it more than my salad🤣

The last portion of the class was a group critique of the photos we selected. This is always helpful! It is also tough because it is so subjective, one person will like what another finds distasteful. My goal is to take it all in and improve as best I can💕

With that, the workshop came to an end! I loved it and would happily join another of Clare’s classes!! I learned so much and had fun. Her teaching style is so approachable, there was nothing you couldn’t ask her😊

I finally had some time to look at that legendary Vermont Fall Foliage that everyone raves about! I went for a quick walk in the town.

IMG_7321

IMG_7324

And another shot in downtown

IMG_7337-2

I met up with two of the ladies from the class for one final dinner together.

 

We drank, we ate and we talked about how ugly canned soup looks!!😂😂😂

A big thank you to Clare Barboza for all the great lessons learned! 📸🥗😉

Climbing in Squamish BC 🏔🧗‍♀️⛺️ Mom’s Take Away!

IMG_3094

One of the best perks, for me, as a mature climber, is that I get to climb with my adult children 😊 Both our daughter and son are excellent climbers. Our daughter, Alex, began just two years ago, but as a former, nationally ranked gymnast, it did not take long for her to pass her parents in both ability and passion for the sport. Ryan, our son, began as a little boy. He joined the climbing team for a few years, and now is working on his AMGA Rock Guide certifications.

What this means is that I have this amazing situation where my son guides the family on all the best routes, in a variety of beautiful climbing areas. Smith Rocks in Oregon, Mazama in Washington, and The Cochise Stronghold in Arizona, are just a few of the sites we have climbed together.

But my favorite, from this season, was the weekend we spent in Squamish, B.C. The plan was simple. Ryan and I drove up from Washington, on Friday and secured a campsite at the Squamish Municipal Campground. Alex and her boyfriend were driving separately to meet up with us. What can I say about this campsite? It was definitely cheap, but far from quiet!! The reality is that we did not sleep much those two nights, thanks to some extremely rude campers😩 However, the nearby showers made it a favorite choice for Alex and I. Seems the guys didn’t care too much about that 😂. Next time, mom needs a hotel😉!

Ryan and I had some daylight left that Friday evening, and didn’t want to squander a minute of climbing time! We set out to climb Star Chek

IMG_3096

Ryan gearing up on the first pitch of Star Chek

This is a pretty easy, straight forward climb. And the views of the Cheakamus gorge are phenomenal! Another unique feature of this climb is that you first descend into the gorge to find the base of the route. It is steep, but there are fixed ropes to help, we did not find it too difficult.

This first pitch (5.8) is 4 bolts leading out to the arete. Pitch 2 (5.7) is longer with 8 bolts and follows the arete to an excellent ledge. Definitely a picture moment📸

IMG_3095

IMG_3105

Pitch 3 (5.9) is 4 bolts, which takes you to the top

IMG_3106

IMG_3108

IMG_3100

Ryan took some pictures and video of me on the way up! You can really hear the roar of the river in the video 🌊

image

As I said in the video “I love this climb”! We need to return so that hubby and Alex can send it as well. Just beautiful! And, the rock quality is excellent. 😊

Now that we were back at the top, we walked over to the road, and our car. Just enough time to get dinner in downtown Squamish, which has many dining options! This is one camping trip where we did not need to pack a ton of food, or a cooler. It was easier to make the short trip into town. Lots of Tim Horton’s to choose from, because you know, I had to have my coffee ☕️😳!

The next morning, now that Alex and Joe (boyfriend) had arrived, we all set out for the Thighmaster bouldering area. I should mention that Alex and Joe prefer bouldering where Ryan favors multi-pitch climbing. As a result, I get to do both!

We made our way (very short approach) to the Black Mark boulder

IMG_3124

The route you see here is Black Mark (V4, 10 ft) and beyond my abilities at this time! But not a problem for Alex!

IMG_3128

IMG_3129

IMG_3130

IMG_3132

She crushed it! Ryan and I were still warming up.

Then it was my turn 😬 I set my sites on Adam’s Apple (V1, 8ft). My history with bouldering is that I tend to get a move, or two, from the mantle and then struggle.  This route is on the same rock, to the left in the picture above.

With the kids cheering me on, here I go!

IMG_3157

Getting to the lip was fairly easy

IMG_3160

I head right looking for a place to throw the heel, nothing here😳

IMG_3156

Head back to the left, and starting to get tired

IMG_3161

I throw it left, and the fight begins!! I have no idea how long I spent trying to haul over this mantel

The view from above was so sweet!💕

IMG_3148

The boys seem bored😊

And, only minor scrapings to show for it😂

IMG_3155

This was my last send for the that day, I was ready for more coffee☕️. Apparently Ryan was done too, so we went to downtown to shop for gear while Alex and Joe went onto harder climbs 🧗‍♀️

After lunch, and some retail therapy, Ryan and I decided to do a little hiking. Squamish has plenty to do for the non climbers in your party as well! We found a trail that lead out of the downtown area and paralleled the estuary. The Oceanfront Interpretive Trail lead out from Cleveland Street in downtown and ended at the Howe Sound.

IMG_3172

IMG_1969

I do recommend this easy hike/walk, as the view really is beautiful. Unfortunately, Ryan and I had to turn back to meet Alex and Joe for dinner. Next time, we will make it to the beach!

After another fine meal, and zero sleep 🤬 we decided on how best to spend the last few hours in this beautiful place. I did some campground yoga, while the kids poured over the climbing books.

It was decided that Alex and Joe would head over to another bouldering area, while Ryan and I set out to do some trad climbing on the apron, located on “the chief“.  Officially known as the Stawamas Chief, it is a giant (over 700m) granite dome. It’s just gorgeous🏔

FullSizeRender

IMG_3212

We settled on two routes that would get us to the top of the apron (red arrow). This was a slab climbing day, to be sure!

IMG_3171

We started out on Rambles, a 5.8- with 4 pitches. The approach was very short from the parking lot (love that!😊) The pitches can be easily combined to 2 total. We did do the 10b variation on pitch 4.

Great view at the top of rambles!

IMG_3203

Rambles will get you to base of several other climbs. We chose Banana Peel, (5.7, 8 pitches). The first three pitches were pretty straightforward, pitch 4 had an interesting finger crack traverse, but quite easy. The rest of the route was just a lot of smearing along  various flake lines.

I don’t have a lot of pictures as we were moving pretty quickly. We still had a decent drive after this! Ryan had told me we would walk off, but I didn’t realize this meant we would walk off down the front of the apron! 😬 I thought we would hike down the back, like most walk offs. He enjoyed videotaping me while I mentaling worked through this!

Obviously, we made it back to the car just fine! I can’t say that it was as easy crossing the border back into Washington 😜 such long delays!!

So, what did I learn on this trip?

  1. My kids are awesome, I am constantly in awe of their abilities and I am lucky they let me tag along 💕
  2. Squamish is gorgeous! And the climbing there is magnificent🏔
  3. Campgrounds⛺️ are still awful, I need a bed, shower and a good night’s sleep. Hotel next time for sure😊
  4. Tim Horton’s makes pretty good coffee☕️👍🏻
  5. There are many more climbs here that I want to send in the future, and I am strong enough to do some harder grades
  6. I want to learn to place trad gear 🧗‍♀️
  7. I want to do more leading, if Ryan will let me!😉
  8. Crossing the Blaine border in the summer sucks! Nexus card perhaps?

Let me know your thoughts on this amazing, beautiful climbing area!

Meeting my Blog Buddies in Montreal!🇨🇦Part Un!

 

1537002457844

It has been almost one month since I went to Montreal to meet up with some of my BBBs (best blog buddies). Why has it taken me so long to blog about the trip? Is it because I had a rotten time? NO!! Is it because we didn’t do anything fun? NO!!! Is it because I took so many pictures of all the places we visited that I could not figure out how to start this post? BINGO😊

I was only there for three days, so how could I have a billion photos? I think this phenomenon has something to do with getting bloggers together. As individuals we tend to take more pics than the average human, but combine us! I can’t begin to imagine how many storage sticks Darren had to buy for his 10 day trip🤣 Not only was this my first time meeting Darren, Dominique, Linda and Bill, it was my first trip to Montreal. Another reason for my snap happy camera finger.

I decided that the best way to approach this retelling of the first annual BBB meeting, would be chronologically, and in two posts. Is my boring science background coming through loud and clear? 😂

I flew in on Tuesday, about 3 hours late (thank you Air Canada). Darren and Dominique waited to have dinner with me! I felt so bad for starving them all day. We had a lovely dinner, not that the food was scrumptious, it wasn’t. But, meeting these two wonderful souls was a blast! I could tell this was going to be a fun trip😊!  It was getting late, so we called it a night and wound are way through the maze of construction that is downtown Montreal. Seriously, every street was in some state of reconfiguration! 😳

Dominique chose the perfect hotel for our stay, the Hotel Terrasse Royale (not my photo!). As she put it, it is clean, comfortable, affordable and central to everything. She was right on all counts!

104925394

I would definitely stay here again and recommend it to everyone.

There was one more surprise when I checked in.

1539022787533

As if being the best host in all of North America was not enough for her, she and Darren put together a gift basket for me❤️ This would be very important in a couple days!

The next morning, I was still on West Coast time, so I was up kinda early. I needed coffee so I ate at the hotel restaurant. Of course, being a food blogger too, I wanted to capture my gorgeous and tasty breakfast!

IMG_5128

This oatmeal with fresh fruit was so good, I had it the second morning as well.😋 I did my morning yoga and met Darren at the pastry shop across the street, for more coffee! ☕️☕️Montreal is so much like Paris! I couldn’t resist taking some photos of the breads and pastries.

I didn’t sample any, but did have a fantastic cappuccino (or two 😉)

IMG_5555

Wednesday was to be our Botanical Garden day🌳 so off we went to Le Jardin Botanique de Montreal.

colorful-chinese-gardens_2527-2450

I did not take this picture, I swiped it from the internet. I like it for a couple reasons. Firstly, the garden was presenting their Chinese Lantern Exhibit, and some of that is depicted here. Secondly, see that tower in the background? I was in love with this structure! I believe Dominique told us that it was part of a venue built for the Montreal Olympic village.

We began our tour inside, with the tropical flowers and plants. You can imagine how many pictures Darren, The Arty Plantsman, took😆 He was a botanist/blogger/photographer on a mission!

As he is far more talented at plant photography, I will only share a couple of shoots and blooms that caught my eye. See Darren’s post for the real good pics!🌸

IMG_5139

I love these giant, prehistoric looking leaves🌿

 

IMG_5162

 

IMG_5147

I couldn’t resist taking a pic of Dom, taking a pic of the pathway. Can we just appreciate how she is dressed right now! She always looks fabulous🤩

IMG_5148

This waterfall was located at the end of the pathway. I took a couple long exposure shots from the front….

FullSizeRender

and the back.

IMG_5156

 

The ceiling of the inner building had these beautiful botanical drawings.

IMG_5172I could totally envision Darren’s artwork hanging up here one day 💕!

Eventually, we made our way outside!

IMG_5184

I loved the reflection in this shallow pool

IMG_5170

the one dark berry caught my eye

IMG_5179

This picture just says “fall” to me and made me think of Lisa! She could do so much with this💚

There were a few critters out too! I did my best to channel my inner Roda, who along with Lisa, we missed on this trip😞

And speaking of Roda, I can’t see a sunflower, without picturing her! Anyone else remember that post of her carrying 300 pounds of sunflower heads?🌻

IMG_5223

There were some structures in the garden as well.

IMG_5197

This little potting shed caught my attention

 

IMG_5231

Dominique took this picture of me, as Darren took a picture of her. I haven’t seen it yet! Dom does pretty well behind the camera too. Not just a a model my friends! 

Of course, while I am taking these pictures, Darren is capturing images of flowers the size of a pea and Dom is on her second wardrobe change! I can’t wait to see how those shots turned out😊!

We continued meandering our way through the Chinese lantern display.

IMG_5216

I am determined to get this Silver Chinese Grass in one of my yards, maybe both of them!

IMG_5241

Another view of my favorite structure in Montreal!

 

IMG_5242

A beautiful bench for a cup of coffee ☕️

IMG_5243

One of the rare moments when Darren isn’t smiling! He is deep in thought, looking for his next shot 💕

We posed in the corn for one last picture! We had a great time, but needed nutrients, well, caffeine! Darren and I opted for, yet another, cup of coffee and Dom would have passed out if she didn’t have that Diet Coke in the car 😂 it was hot and flat but she downed it like a pro!

IMG_5230

What a doof I am! Look at these two European gems and I am the dopey American with the white shoes on! I have got to read Dom’s blog more often🤣🤣😂

Off we went to an Indian Restaurant, my first! I have no idea what I ate that night as Darren ordered for me (thank God!). It was delicious!! Seriously, I will have to try that again, whatever it was 😋. I slept well that night, after all that walking and laughing😂 Little did we know that our trip to Mount Tremblant the next day would require even more effort 🏔.

I will save that story for the next post, but let me just warn you…..Dominique almost didn’t make it off the mountain. 😱!

You may be asking “where was Linda and Bill”? They won’t be in Montreal for another day, but they should have started driving by now😉💕