All Posts tagged grand tetons

Good Choice, Bad Choice: There’s no Escape

We can all remember our first car. Not the family station wagon. Not the hand-me-down from big brother that smelled like musky gym clothes. I’m talking about the first car that was entirely yours, even if it was used or “pre-owned” as car dealerships like to say.

"1984-1985 Honda Civic hatchback -- 01-07-2012" by IFCAR - Own work. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1984-1985_Honda_Civic_hatchback_--_01-07-2012.jpg#/media/File:1984-1985_Honda_Civic_hatchback_--_01-07-2012.jpg

A mid-1980s Honda Civic via WikiCommons

I was 26 when I purchased my very own brand new car. It was a 1986 Honda Civic wagon and I loved it. No air conditioner, no frills, vinyl seats and 48 mpg. Those were the days. I would drive from Salt Lake to Jackson Hole and back on one tank of gas. I would drive to San Diego, stopping every 40 miles to douse myself at the rest-stop water fountains during those 102-degree desert stretches, then drive soaked from head to foot with the windows down. Now that was air conditioning.

Imagine my excitement when I bought a new Ford Escape Limited in 2004. It was the second time in my life I’d bought a brand new car rather than used pre-owned. I knew the saying that once you drive it off the showroom floor, the car’s value drops 99%. I didn’t care. I was in fact overly proud of the purchase. As the old saying goes, pride goeth before a fall.

Ann's Ford Escape

The Ford Escape AKA Mouse Mobile

The Escape was only two days old when I drove my two toddlers to the grocery store. Somehow, an entire jug of milk was spilled between the seats during a backseat conspiracy to search the grocery bags for cookies. I spent 2 hours scrubbing, spraying, rubbing and generally assaulting the area with cleansers. The smell of sour milk never left the vehicle. It was an omen.

One after another, horrible things happened in the Escape. A completely potty-trained child thoroughly wet his pants. Dogs threw up. A cat leaped onto my lap and peed while I was driving. Moldering carrots were found under the passenger seat. A slice of pizza worked its way into the spare tire well and grew fabulous green feathers.

Just before the Plague of Rodents commenced, I had what I thought was the capper to all of this evil. While driving my son’s friend home from a playdate, the cherub told me from the backseat that he needed to go number two. I asked him if I should pull over or if he could hold it until the upcoming gas station. He felt that he could wait. Two seconds later, he said “oh no” and then the fun began. My son caught a whiff and immediately vomited. Twice. I rolled down the windows. I opened the sunroof. I looked back to assess the damage and was struck by a force stronger than a tidal wave. We drove the rest of the way with our heads out the windows, tears streaming down our cheeks. I was triple charged for the car detailing.

Then came the Plague. It started with a few tiny droppings here and there on the car mats. I’d set a trap inside my car, catch a mouse and go on about my business. Then I noticed more droppings. I worked up to 4 traps placed at night and 4 mice in traps in the morning. I detailed. I vacuumed. I squirted VO5 hairspray. I tried sonic sound waves. I put bars of Irish Spring under the seats. The mice ate them.

Finally, I removed all of the interior side panels, trying to find the rodent welcome mat. Caches of seeds, dog kibble and fluffy mouse nests poured from every possible crevice. Entire generations of field mice had wandered about, given birth, raised families and died in my car. I admitted defeat and felt grateful that no one in our family had been struck with Hantavirus.  Accursed vehicle. Stephen King could write a book about it.

The Mousemobile found a new home with a family that apparently does not have a battalion of mice seeking a motel on wheels. I gave full disclosure prior to handing over the keys. Buh bye.

Guess what I’m driving now? A used Honda Civic wagon. With air conditioning.

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Good Choice, Bad Choice: The Siren Song of String Lake

 

Ann Loyola

Ann Loyola

It was 10 a.m. October 19 Sunday morning when my daughter Hanna and I decided to fulfill our shared goal of kayaking at String Lake. Our family has visited String Lake many times for short hikes and picnics and we’ve always been envious of people who were out on canoes, SUPs, or kayaks on this translucent fairy-tale of a lake.

Only a couple months ago Hanna had said to me “Mom, are we really going to let another summer go by without kayaking on String Lake?”  That put a burr under my saddle that finally resulted in action, though by now we were firmly into pre-winter season.

I announced our intentions to the male side of our family and my husband, who already had a tee time at Targhee Village, responded less than enthusiastically as he went out the door with his golf bag though he did promise to be back by 1 p.m. to head over Teton Pass. My teenage son assured me that we’d have fun without him and that he intended to remain glued to his laptop playing an addictive monster vs. monster game rather than go outside on a crystal clear day in the Tetons.

Using my best mother skills, I cajoled him into coming with us by being alternately threatening and heart-broken. Just as I was about to remind him that I could die at any moment from any number of horrific medical crises, he closed his laptop and pledged his participation.

I had the rental kayaks, lunch bags, beverages and kids all ready to go when my husband came back early (early!) from golfing and off we went, toward adventure, beauty and timeless family moments. Ten minutes into the drive, no one was speaking to each other due to a few snippy remarks about what a wet, rotten, freezing cold time we were all going to have. In other words, someone really wanted to finish his golf game.

In silence, we finished the 90-minute drive arriving at the beach at 2:30 p.m. Suddenly, it became clear that we were not driving to our doom. The Cathedral Peaks were reflected like etchings on the water which sparkled and beckoned us to float upon it.  So we did.

Early morning panorama of String Lake, Grand Teton National Park - Northwestern Wyoming, USA

By Tony Hochstetler from Fort Collins (String Lake Panorama – Explored)

 

Some people toss around adjectives like popcorn and we all become tired of the hyperbole. Was that bologna sandwich really fabulous? Does her salon hair color really look absolutely incredible?

I’m here to tell you that String Lake was magical that afternoon. Depths of different shades of green.  Shadows of fish bursting under us. The hush of the mountains and crackle of red-gold autumn leaves in the breeze. The sound of our teenagers laughing as they rowed their double seated kayak together.

My husband and I floated upstream, taking in the views and occasionally dipping an oar to swing us to another perspective of the range or the beach or the kids. The word “lucky” was said a few times.

I believe that everyone needs these moments out in nature. There’s a power in wild waters, mountains and greenery that heals and redefines us. The Palmer family drove home that day feeling closer, content, and lucky.

Disclaimer: This blog discusses my personal wellness goals and is in no way a soapbox to tell anyone else how to eat, exercise and/or live their lives.

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Ode to the Sheep Trail

Ode to the Sheep Trail

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two-aspens-sheep_Web

Ode to the Sheep Trail

The sheep trail is a lovely path
That skims the side of Teton Creek
And although I’ve never done the math
The miles are gentle for strong and weak.

Bring your dogs and bring some bags
Cuz dogs have fun but they also poop
They’ll smile and give you tail wags
But they sure won’t help you bend and scoop.

You’ll cross a bridge over Teton Creek
That leads you on your way
Through aspens, pines, views of the peak
Flowers, birds; all on display.

Hike until the very end
Where streams meet and make a fork
Or picnic at the sandy beach
And maybe pop a cork.

Head back home with a sense of peace
And memories of what you saw
Although it’s just a simple walk
You’ll feel a humbled awe.

– By Ann Loyola, (author of the Good Choice, Bad Choice blog).

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