Mr Wonderful jr.

For my birthday I have a tradition I have decided to uphold . I run a half marathon on the weekend closest to my birthday. I invite my friends to come run or walk or just hang out at the finish line, then we go and eat!

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As I run I think about the previous year, all the people and things I am so thankful for. It is a great practice that I want to include more in my daily life of living beautifully exhausted. Each year I have unique events that form my memories and people that play recurring parts, exit the stage or make their debut. Each person plays such an important role.

In the past few years, I have had significant cast change in my life. Not the least was two years ago on my birthday. Mr. Wonderful and I had been dating for nearly 6 months. Our lives were increasingly intertwining, So it seemed the right time for me to meet Mr. Wonderful Jr. Following a sunny day with my cherubs at school, I commuted home to my lovely roommates. We chatted and celebrated my birthday with a simple dinner. Mr. Wonderful and I had arranged for me to meet he and junior at a local bohemian ice cream shop in our downtown area after dinner.

I was incredibly nervous. Mr. Wonderful Jr. is the pride and joy of Mr. Wonderful. This young man had been the center of his universe and we were moving toward blending our lives together. My beautiful boy (who is now an incredible man) had been my pride and joy, so I had a deep understanding of the gravity of this meeting. I love kids and I knew the minute I meet Mr Wonderful Jr., it would be a metaphorical point of no return. It was so important to me that we hit it off or at least he didn’t hate me.

I walked across the parking lot to the ice cream shop as Mr. Wonderful and Mr. Wonderful Jr. walked along the sidewalk. It was a moment I will never forget. A handsome, shy, blonde boy meekly looked up at me and I could feel the gravity of the moment. We ordered our uniquely flavored ice creams, then awkwardly sat at a nearby table. in my usually form I asked a lot of questions and attempted to engage this quiet child in conversation about school, sports, and other activities. He was painfully shy and seemed to be challenged by every question. It was quickly evident to me how different Mr. Wonderful’s sweet boy was from my boisterous Beautiful Boy. I left feeling so cherished and valued, that Mr. Wonderful would share with me his most important relationship.

In the years since that birthday meeting, I have grown to really love Mr Wonderful Jr. as I continue to fall deeply in love with his dad. I am constantly asking myself how I can love them both well everyday.

Lately, with the Beautiful Boy off adulting across the state and Mr. Wonderful Jr. navigating the middle school world, I daydream about how they will hopefully meet someday. I wonder what tales they would tell each other as they get to know one another. Maybe someday I will get to watch that unfold.

This is all very tricky business! There is so much love to go around in this house and yet I am so sensitive to sharing these amazing young men together. I want to love big and enjoy them both for the uniqueness they bring to our evolving family. It is an endeavor of great love that takes all of our focus. A true act of beautiful exhaustion!

What tricky relationships do you have in your family? What can you do to blend them well? How do you love each other well in your family, even when it is awkward?

great expectations

Today is the last day of summer break for me.  I can remember as a kid the last day of summer break meant chores and a reinstated early bedtime.  The clothes we had purchased weeks before from JC  Penney had been sequestered into a separate location in the closet preparing for their debut would finally make their way into my dresser.  Sorting through the bags, carefully choosing a first day outfit and laying it out before bed was a ritual of sorts that just increased my excitement for the impending school year.  In the late summer heat, I can remember not sleeping with anticipation of all that would come in the next nine months. I had a longing for the return to routine while equally lamenting the loss of lazy summer days and being outside.  Not much has changed.  I sit this morning on my porch sipping coffee and thinking about all the things I still wanted to accomplish this summer and distracted by the long list of tasks I need to complete before the cherubs return to the halls of our fine school.

A new school year provides a new beginning, a fresh start.  New school clothes, shiny shoes, and fresh lunchboxes usher in a hopefulness that this year can be the best yet. It is a time to set the stage for reaching new goals and measuring growth.  It feels as though anything is possible.  Hope is abundant at times like these and we all need more hope.  It seems that hope is a commodity of great value that gets swallowed up by the pace of our lives.  The overwhelming stream of information that surrounds us is like drinking from a firehose. This leaves us with no mental space to process it all, let alone to pause and take notice of transitions. The endings and beginnings seems to blend together, if we do not take a moment to block out the noise of the continuous flow of communications.

Rituals can help us to push pause on the noise.  Most people have rituals around holidays, birthdays or even sports event. Rituals can enrich our time spent with friends and family.  Creating rituals or traditions creates margin for connection with each other if done properly.  Rituals can get out of hand or become empty and obligatory.  That is not what I am advocating.  The first day of school ritual of a pancake breakfast or a pizza dinner with the family can be a rich time to connect and mark time.  It is the way we can block out the noise of our culture and love one another intentionally.  We can reminisce and dream together. I had these kinds of rituals with my son as he grew up and now as I forge an encore life with Mr. Wonderful and Mr Wonderful Jr. I am searching to create a new blend of rituals.

So today, I search for a new outfit for the first day, set my alarm and pack my lunch for tomorrow. Happy school year everyone!

When are the natural pauses or transitions in your calendar?  What rituals keep you connected in your family? 

*I am still collecting your ideas to live beautifully exhausted for an upcoming post.  Email them to me at beautifulexhaustionblog@gmail.com

 

margin- get some!

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Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

Sitting in the school auditorium on a Sunday morning, coffee in hand, I was exhausted.  Not beautifully exhausted.  The kind of exhaustion that comes from accepting busyness as a kind of badge of honor in our culture.  I worked full time in the non-profit sector, taught as an adjunct professor at a small college, a mom of a preteen, wife, friend, sister, daughter, and active community member.  I was committed to being all things to all people and to physical fitness.  I was married to a man with a less than strong work ethic, that had big dreams and no drive. I did the lion’s share of the household management, yardwork and daily chores.  I was a hands on mom, involved in music boosters and any other activity my kiddo found fanciful that week. I worked 60-80 hours a week and was desperately trying to hold on to any relationships with my girlfriends to keep what little sanity I had left.  As a good Christian woman, I even quoted scripture trying to make it all ok. (“I have come that you may have abundant life” John 10:10) This was my life, sound familiar?

It was that morning that I began to question whether all of the activity was really worth it. As my pastor got up to share his weekly message, my brain was already moving to the list in my purse containing the all the tasks necessary in the next 24 hours to just make it through to tomorrow.  He began as usual, but quickly I realized this message was

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different. As he shared about his life, the busyness our culture values and the toll it took on his life, marriage and even health, my heart sank.  I was achieving all the culture valued, and was killing myself in the process. He spoke of the need for margin.  We tend to live our lives right up to the boundaries with no space left. Many books are written on how to do this well, the be “more effective” with our time, how to fit more into your day, to focus for more success. I had read them all, practiced them and what I came up with was a life with no margin.

Margin is the space on the edges. It is our room to breathe, a resting spot.  It is not the place to reorganize and launch back in, it is the space for nothing.  When we write in the margins, our life flows off the page. We need the space of nothing to be healthy.

img_20190816_195800_239A lot has happened since that day so many years ago and I still find myself learning how to practice margin.  My life is shrinking to a reasonable place with margin all around. With more margin, I have more opportunity to love deeply, to exhaustion;  to love with depth not more activity.  Beautiful exhaustion does not come from a life of increased activity, it may actually be quite the opposite.  It is a life with less in it, with deeper roots.  Physical and mental exhaustion are not the measures of a life well lived, it is in the beauty of exhausting ourselves in pouring into others, but not into everyone. With our world so vastly connected it seems counter-intuitive to intentionally shrink my life, but it is the only way to create more margin in our finite time and space. I have to say no often, to say yes when it matters.

How much margin have you created? How can you create more margin?  What do you need to shrink in your life to have more margin?

****In a future post I will be listing the top ten ways to live beautifully exhausted.  Do you have a great idea or example?  Email it to me at beautifulexhaustionblog@gmail.com it just might make the list!

Anniversary Day

fb_img_15342559843906284497445523147565.jpgToday marks the one year anniversary of my arrival home to Anacortes, WA  after pedaling across country. While epic and life changing, it was just the beginning. I have said to people that the journey on my bike was not to prove anything, but it really ended a book (not a chapter) for me.  Like most people I have had many chapters, but this was different.  My life has so dramatically changed in the last couple of years, that I have put that old book to rest and have begun an entirely new book.

As I rode across the Northern Tier,  I experienced amazing generosity and kindness.  People are genuinely thoughtful and kind, quite the opposite of what we are led to believe on social media and traditional media.  People love their communities!  I am no different.  As people poured out pride about their community, the little voices in my head were saying, “Well, you’ve never been to the Pacific Northwest, it’s the best place to live!”.

At the finish line last year, I was given a very special honor of a day named after me in Anacortes, WA. As the mayor declared the day mine, I couldn’t help but think that I needed to really make it special.  So, I will!  This year, I am simply asking people to give to CHOW or your local food program for school children.  You can usually find one through your local United Way, a food bank or even a school.  Give so that children can be fed and ready to learn!  I have plans in the works to organize a short day ride in the coming years to benefit CHOW.  I encourage you to remember August 12 as the day to support feeding programs for kids in your community!  If you are in Skagit County please make a donation to Skagit United Way- CHOW today!  click here to give to CHOW

get out of my own way

He works nights, so most days this summer I get up and busily work on my to do list until he wakes in the mid afternoon. Teacher summers are great! Yesterday was no exception. I try to be focused on

dropping everything and sitting with him while he wakes up, eats and gets ready to head off for another 12 hour shift. I make him some breakfast and pack a lunch so he can ease into his long day. I happily send him out the door imploring him to be safe and keep the bad guys locked up.

Except yesterday I didn’t. I was working on an important email to my brother about some pressing family business. Then, I got side tracked searching for gear on the facebook marketplace for our upcoming backpacking trip and our every evolving garage gym. I shuffled through my to do list and set my plans in motion. All the while he was searching the cupboards groggily for some breakfast. A swarm of locust, I mean four preteen boys, had ravenously consumed all the food at a sleepover the previous couple of days and I had not yet finished compiling our click list for groceries (warning tangent… I hate the grocery store, so online groceries with curbside pick has changed my life. I have not been in side a grocery store to grocery shop in months…) So he was left in his sleepy state

to make breakfast and pack a lunch with little more than rice cakes, frozen brats and tortillas.And I didn’t move an inch off the couch. My focus was on myself, on my list. Those who know me well, know that I am a list maker. My friends and I joke that we make lists of the lists me need to make. I have been known to complete a task not on the list, just to write it on the list and immediately cross it off. It is so satisfying! Going to bed with a completed list is a little victory for me. Yet my focus is in the wrong place. Lists just for the satisfaction of completion is selfish and that is exactly what happened yesterday. I was so focused on my list, that I did not take one hour of my day to love Mr. Wonderful well. He deserves to be loved well. He loves me so well, I should at least make him a sandwich.

So, today I woke to a piece of paper ready for a list and refocus. My list still has tasks, but I am asking myself what needs to go on this list that leads me to love well, to love deeply; to pause from pragmatism and pour out generosity of spirit, love for another and gratitude for those in my life. I want to get out of my own way to embody love.The lists will be increasing as we renovate our home to prepare for sale and embark on building our own home as owner-builders. There are a million little details, but I want each day to be filled with intention to love well. So my lists will be a practice to love well. It is an opportunity to build a new home founded on intentional acts of love.

When do you find that you are the biggest barrier to loving well? How do you overcome it? What practices do you use to be intentional about loving those around you?

What you focus on

I have not spent much time writing in the last few months. I found that my journal has been empty and my desire to record my thoughts, feelings and ideas has been absent. It has bothered me that my blog has sat idle, looming out in cyberspace. Yet, I have felt I have nothing to say. Perhaps I have used all my important words and exhausted all of my ideas last summer on my epic journey. The mundane life has been ambling along and I am focused on tasks and dreams that are seemingly far less important to the world at large, but are really meaningful to me.

I knew that the journey last summer was in so many ways a culmination of so may chapters in my life. So much has happened in the past five years, that it is as though I am not just writing a new chapter, but a whole new book. All that I have known and staked my life to has been shaken and shifted. It sounds ominous, but really it had been more of a rebirth. I have let go of so much. I am beginning to find the things that are anchoring my new life.

Living beautifully exhausted, looks very different these days. My world and influence seems to be shrinking. Not shriveling or dying, but far more focused. I have taken on new roles that are keeping my world small, and focused. I have become more intentional in many ways and I am learning daily what it means to live an abundant life free of mindless selfishness.

This year I have been listening to podcasts. This new world of information and inspiration is intriguing to me. My podcast subscriptions range from Dave Ramsey, Build Your Own House University, Spartan Up, the Liturgists, the Blue Wife Life, The Stepmom Club and the Cult of Pedagogy. Every part of my crazy life has a podcast. It keeps my long commutes from being mundane for sure. As I have listened to this vast menu of topics one theme continues to emerge in every context – Be intentional!

Intentionality requires focus. It seems everyone agrees that the things you give your time, money and thoughts to grow and flourish. If you want to make changes and improve your finances, create a budget focus every dollar that you have. If you want to be successful, persevere, get up early, decide to follow the plan that leads to the finish line. If you want to build a house, create a strong foundation, use the right tools, focus your time and energy on being an expert on your house designs. To be a supportive law enforcement spouse, understand the law enforcement community, be flexible and create community among other law enforcement families. To be a good stepmom, focus on being patient, learn when to stand in the gap and when to be in the background. For success in teaching, really understand students, culture, psychology and brain development. Every podcast when boiled down is screaming to me ; what you focus on is what will be true, successful and robust. How do I focus when all of the above is my life?

Think about your car. I drive a Nissan Versa Note. It is not a glamorous car by any stretch of the imagination. However, everyday I see a handful of these cars on my commute. I bet you see your make and model as you motor about too. I see Versa Notes, because it is the focus of my car life.

This year I have been focusing on not being able to write, having nothing to say and not having a strong purpose to convey to the world. It was the wrong focus. My real focus is what I started this blog all about. So you could say, I am refocusing. How can I live each day beautifully exhausted? What does that mean in my much smaller life these days? How do I love so deeply the people in my constricted circles that those relationships thrive and significantly deepen? What does it mean to love myself well? How will that spill over into a focus of living life with intention?

What do you need to focus on? Where do you need to renew your intentionality?

Sacred spaces

I entered the room with an anxious spirit. I haven’t played guitar in years. By play guitar, I don’t really mean creating beautiful music like my very talented friends Mark Clawson, Beth Bishop, or the members of Old Town Tonic. It is not meant that I can actually play music at all. I really just play enough chords to sing along and to lead children in simple tunes. While the mere presence of my guitar awes most every first grader, real musicians know that I am not one of them. My chord sheet downloaded from the internet, I enter the room hoping my hands are recovered enough to hold the neck of the guitar and pick, that my fingers have regain enough dexterity to press the strings to create sounds of the G, D and A chords.

Singing is foriegn to so many children at my school. They seem to have the idea that somehow singing skills are given to some people at birth while others are skipped over of this skill. It seems having red hair or being tall is just like singing to them. It seems they have not had a lullaby sung to them, sat at the dinner table to sing grace or celebrated life events with song. They have missed the sacred space that song creates. Yet, here I come inviting them in with a simple tune and gusto as I strum in mediocrity. I invite them to consider that singing can be learned and developed.

I get to enter sacred spaces with children everyday. I roll my cart of wonder into classrooms all over my school. I get to sit and watch as the lightbulbs go on, as kids explore the world for the first time in new ways considering all the wonder the world has for the first time. I get to carry simple instruments into spaces and march with children as they discover that making sound can be a glorious adventure as we create a marching band transforming a bland blacktop into a grand parade. I get to work in the classrooms of educators that do seemingly impossible things everyday, all in a day’s work. The sacred space of learning is a mystery and precious joy. My colleagues create this space each day!

My sunmer bicycle adventures were filled with a sacredness that I carry through my days. It has helped me view the seemingly mundane and routine with new light. I cherish in my heart the people I met along my way and the joy of having my world opened up in much the same way my colleagues and I open the world for our littlest students.

To be sacred, is to be set apart, but it does not have to be extraordinary. Sacred can be plain, but given the space and authority to be sacred. Can all of life be sacred? Can I live a sacred life that embraces gratitude, mercy, and grace?

My cousin Joseph gave me a great gift a few weeks ago. He sets his alarm for a certain time each evening. As the alarm sounds, he pauses and he invites whoever he is with to share three gratitudes. Dinner was over and my cousins, boyfriend and I were having dessert when the alarm sounded. Each in turn we entered the sacred space of sharing gratitude. This moment shifted each of us to refocus as we contemplated our gifts, shared our thankfulness and embraced gratitude.

Sacredness is not reserved for the religious. Sacredness is a pause to recognize the fragile nature of life and relationships, the wonder of innocence, the joy of intentional living and the embracing of suffering.

Do you have sacred spaces in your day? Where can you pause to create a sacred space? Who can you invite into sacred space with you?

Back to Ordinary Time

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Re-entering ordinary life is a curious business. I have not really had the words to describe it and still may not be able to fully communicate the experience fully. It has not been as I had expected or hoped. It has given me an opportunity to retool, and rethink, to reprioritize and to reevaluate my decisions.

The local media has been kind and lovely. Keeping up with my schedule in the days following my return was a bit of a blur for me. There were so many interviews (some links posted below). I was not ready to multitask and coordinate all the pieces of my life. I found myself longing for the simplicity of being on bike tour and yet so happy to be home. I found myself hungry to connect with all my people and searching for the solitude that I had grown accustom. I had found a rhythm on the road, and was eager to reestablish a rhythm at home, but still had a couple of weeks of the whimsy of summer. I was a bit lost, and yet settled as I reconnected in my community.

Eggs podcast with DJ Ontic

Skagit Valley Herald

Anacortes American

I have experienced some shifts in my relationships closest to me as a result and now have the opportunity to hone my skills as a listener, to re-examine my boundaries and to practice patience as healing continues and brings new life. My new job has started and I am feeling like I am right where I am supposed to be at work. It is stretching me professionally as I learn to teach tiny cherubs and how to collaborate with an excellent partner teacher. My life remains full, growing and full of hope.

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It is now close to month from my return home and I am beginning to take a deep breath and reflect on the beauty of the summer. So often I am asked, what was your favorite part? The beauty of my summer could be summed up in the places I visited, the Appalachian Mountains, the Adirondacks, Niagara Falls, the Badlands, Glacier, Sandpoint, and the North Cascades. However, this only tells a small part of the story and not the most important part. For me, the most beautiful part was the chance encounters with beautiful people along the way. It is the lovely faces that fill my brain as I reflect on this adventure that is shaping me even still. My favorite part was the conversations at picnic tables in a park or campground, at dinner tables in welcoming homes, or even outside gas stations along the highway.

The next question I get asked often is, what’s next? This question is even harder. This adventure was not merely a bucket list item, nor was it an adventure as a step to another adventure. It was a need deep in me to adventure out, to be transformed and to transform. Dreaming of this adventure was a distraction to me as I lived in the ordinary, engaging with the people in front of me. I needed to go, so I could return and love more deeply. I needed to gain more compassion and passion for the lonely. So now comes the hard work of taking an honest look at the ordinary time, allowing all that I learned and experienced to transform my thinking and reorder my priorities. It is time to set my boundaries in order to love those around me well. The time has come to dig deeply into my community and offer myself with love and gratitude. I need to reconnect to people I care about with fervor.

My next adventure is yet to be defined, come along with me as I explore where this transformational summer will lead me next!

What is transforming you? What values, boundaries, ideas, etc. do you need to revisit? What adventure is distracting you from ordinary life?

A Strong Finish

It was a lazy morning, probably the most relaxed of my entire tour. Since we have made it to Concrete, WA the day before, we only had about 45 miles to go. Emotionally charged, I was awake early as usual and took a walk in the damp morning while my friends slept in. We had a rigorous schedule, but not many miles and I was ending this epic journey. My dear friends had put a ton of work into making my homecoming a beautiful dream come true. So I took these few moments to reflect and enjoy some silence. I would be joined by many people that day, the media would be there and my friends, family and community ready to receive me.

Packed up and bellies full, Katie and I mounted our bikes and headed for the first stop of the day, my school. Central Elementary in Sedro-Woolley, WA was 24 miles away. There I would be greeted by some of the staff and a couple cyclist friends that would ride with me into Anacortes. I rounded the corner and was overwhelmed by the wonderful little crowd holding signs and cheering as I pulled up. I was finally home! This Art Deco building built in the late twenties greets the beautiful little cherubs that I was raising money for every school day. It is where the amazing people I work with pour out their lives for a better future for these children. I was standing in front of the place I spend my time each day hoping to impact students by opening a world to them that they did not know was possible. Hope is a powerful motivator!

At a loss for words with tears just below the surface, I greeted my colleagues and friends. A few of them would ride the 25 miles to my next stop. It was glorious to ride with people, to enjoy conversation and the scenery together. A few miles out from the stop, my family lined the side of the road holding signs. My parents had driven up from near Vancouver, WA and my brother had flown in from Bend, OR. He was on vacation with his family and flew in from their vacation to see my finish. It was amazing. Stopping for a few quick hugs, I hopped back on my bike and pedaled hard to get to the next stop.

Awaiting me at the park and ride was a group of more cycling friends! These people had been encouraging me all summer and I was so honored to have them ride with me the final few miles. It was a beautiful embodiment of my words. The community was beginning to physically surround me, in the same way they had emotionally surrounded me for the past 55 days. I was once again speechless.

The parade of cyclists was captured by my friend, Eddie Murdock, with his drone. We pedaled along the Tommy Thompson trail in Anacortes. It would be just a few more minutes until I dipped my front tire in the Pacific and headed to the finish line event. As I led the parade many familiar local faces passed me on this trail in my sleepy island hometown. The flat paved trail winds along the stunning shoreline that leads to the center of Anacortes. At the four mile mark we turned right to make our way to Seafarer’s Memorial Park.

I dismounted my bike and pushed the 82 pound loaded frame toward the water.

I plunged the front wheel into the sea and with that my journey had ended. I had done it! This epic journey that started as a crazy, bucket list ride was complete. My heart was full and I was ready to celebrate with my friends.

Waiting for me several blocks away in the heart of downtown Anacortes was my community; friends, family, colleagues and the man I have been missing for 55 days! I crossed Commercial Ave at 6th St. The Rockfish Grill and Anacortes Brewery was hosting the event and the sidewalk was completely full.

Tears streamed behind my sunglasses as a slowed my roll approaching the outdoor garden behind the restaurant. I parked my bike and caught the eye of my beau. Before I knew it, I had sprinted to him and he was embracing me as I attempted to pull myself together.

My dear friend Marlo and her amazing band, Old Town Tonic was playing and I was surrounded by the people I love! I was home!

That would have been a fabulous ending to this story, but my community was not done with me. Rich Riddell, the town crier, dressed in his traditional garb made an official proclamation from the city of Anacortes welcoming me home. Laurie Gere, Mayor of Anacortes, declared August 12 as Elizabeth Jenkins day from now on.

Rick Star, owner of Anacortes Brewery donated the proceeds of the event to CHOW and renamed their IPA Beautiful Exhaustion IPA. For the next week the proceeds of the sales of that beer would also benefit CHOW.

Old Town Tonic played followed by DJ Ontic to keep the party going. Skagit United Way and Skagit Publishing represented Skagit CHOW. It was a full event with incredible people. I am not sure I could ever really absorb all that was happening. Most importantly we raised more money for this crucial program.

My heart is exploding! All the loneliness of the road and long gruelling days melted away as I was held tight by the ones I love. I am not sure how I will fully comprehend and assimilate the outpouring of love in this place. It was an incredible day and a strong finish!

The familiar comes into view…

Tears rolled down my face. My eyes leaked uncontrollably as I read the sign. North Cascades Highway, Burlington.

Climbing a pass, crying is not really possible. I had to stop and pull myself together as I began my 18 mile ascent up Loup Loup pass. On the other side would be a familiar face and the beginning of my homecoming. A few miles in I pulled myself together and was passed by the women I had only heard rumors of days before. This group of 5 Seattle teachers had left Bar Harbor on June 3rd and like me they were ready to be home. Their support vehicle was driven by the father of one rider. I had met him at breakfast that morning. Beaming with pride he told me to look for his group of cyclists that day.

Cresting the pass, the smoke grew more intense and the temperature was beginning to rise. I was happy to snap a quick photo, eat a snack and chat with a friendly cycling tour group coming up the opposite way on the pass. The forecast for the next three days was in the 100’s with intense amounts of smoke from the wildfires burning just 16 miles outside of Twisp.

The descent was quick and I found myself in Twisp a few hours before scheduled. I was camping with Melinda that night at her friend’s property on the river. She is a paraprofessional at my school and the first person I would see from my daily life in 51 days. So I grabbed an iced tea at the local coffee shop and rested before meeting Melinda.

It was pure joy to see her. One more sign that I was almost home. We got settled in, cooled off in the river and had a lovely Mexican dinner in town. Emma Lou, Melinda’s granddaughter and a student at our school joined us as I rested and prepared for the coming days when I would climb my final mountian passes and head into Skagit. It was a sweet time.

At first light, I said good bye to Melinda and Emma Lou and pedalled off to go as far as I could before the heat of the day would be too much. The forecast was for over 100 degrees for the next couple days. The plan was to pedal part of the way to Washington Pass, then head back to Winthrop to meet another friend Katie for a true rest day the next day. She planned to pedal over the mountians with me and her friend Kathy would drive support for her (and carry my panniers over the passes).

It all went as planned! I made it to Klipchuck campground, 12 miles from Washington Pass. That meant Kathy would drive us to that point on Saturday for our ride over the passes. I pedalled back to Winthrop and rested at Katie’s cabin until she and Kathy arrived. Then we got to the business of resting. We ate good food, relaxed and floated the river. With the thermometer reading 104, we were happy to be resting.

Saturday morning came with no fanfare. We loaded the car pre-sunrise and began to drive to our starting point. The rumble of thunder followed by dramatic lightening concerned us as we drove toward the mountains. We watched carefully as the lightening moved to the north and the sun began to rise in the east. We decided the storm was moving away from us, so we unloaded the bikes and began the ascent to Washington Pass.

I hate climbing. Katie heard this repeatedly from me, and I was just glad to have some company in this misery.

The views were spectacular, but two mountain passes seemed ridiculous.

We reached Washington Pass with adequate pain and suffering, but I was more worried about the next pass. Five miles away, but the map showed a descent and then a gain of 1500 feet with in five miles. That seemed like it would be steep. Yet when we reached the summit, I was surprised that we were there. It was not nearly as challenging as I thought it would be.

A couple photos snapped, we pedalled onward with beautiful views and not much to report other than Katie getting a flat at our lunch stop in Newhalem.

It seemed like minutes later and she and I were in Concrete, at the 5 B’S bakery, where we met our host for the evening.

Jody has been my good friend for many years and has been to many of my crazy adventures. My first triathlon 13 years ago, she was there. We raised our kids together. Even though in recent years we have not been in close contact, we pick up our friendship on occasion like no time has passed. She graciously hosted the three of us at her little place at Lake Tyee. This was just the respite we needed for my last day. It was going to be an emotional day filled with so much love and joy.

Things I Learned

  • 104° weather is tolerable if you can river float and eat ice cream.
  • Cyclist friends can make mountain passes seem almost like flat land. Riding with a friend is so lovely.
  • A friendly face after 51 days will cure any loneliness plaguing me.

Roadkill Count (Omak, WA to Concrete, WA)

  • 3 snakes
  • 3 skunks
  • 2 deer
  • 2 birds