Thursday, March 9, 2017

An Open Letter to Utah Representatives

Escalante
A few months ago in my American Heritage class (yes, I had to take American Heritage to be a nurse.....who knew!) we had an assignment to write a letter to one of our representatives about a current issue. Normally this would have been an assignment I rushed through with no thought or energy--just hurried to get it done. But that was the week that our Utah officials met with the Trump Administration to discuss shrinking down the Escalante National Monument (along with dissolving the newly created Bears Ears Monument), making the land vulnerable for corporate interest. While I am usually not a political person, this is a topic that has literally left me feeling sick to my stomach. I feel so strongly about public lands and the protection of these sacred spaces, so the thought of politicians who are willing to trade our land for dollars, is something that keeps me up at night. 

I was recently talking to a friend about using our platforms for good. For the most part, social media is pretty superficial and narcissistic, but if we can occasionally use it to share a positive message or stand up for something we care about, let's do! My platform is small, I realize, but at least it's a platform, right? I rarely get over here to the blog anymore, but when I do, it's always funny to me when I look back at how it's morphed over the years. From babies, to cupcakes, to our adventures--it's easy to see what phase of life I was in and what my passions were at that time. And as much as I love looking back at the records I've kept, I feel that now--in this season of my life--I'm not using this space to keep a record, but more to raise my voice about things that I find important, and want to share with my small audience.

I encourage you to share this message--whether using some of my words or your own, let's get it out there. The sand and the rock and the rivers have no voice, let's speak up for them. 

Here is my letter.
Escalante

Dear Governor Herbert, Senator Hatch, Senator Lee, Congressman Bishop and Congressman Chaffetz.


My name is Sheena Jibson, and I live in the mountains of Utah with my husband, two children, and a few too many animals. I'm reaching out to you today because you are my elected representatives, but I don't feel like you are currently representing what I stand for. Many people I know feel the same way, so I hope you listen--listen to the people you are supposed to be the voice for; let me explain. Our family enjoys spending as much time as we can outside, and we find ourselves down in Escalante a couple times a year, soaking in the desert sunshine and finding peace from a fast and furious world. 

I want to describe for you some of the things you may see down in this area, as I’m guessing you haven’t ventured very far out of the comfort of your air conditioned car. I’m assuming you have at least driven on Highway 12—one of the most scenic roads in the country—wouldn’t you agree? Mounds of red and white sandstone, stretched out as far as the eye can see; it’s otherworldly. Have you dipped your toes in Calf Creek? Felt the contrast of the icy cold water against your desert parched skin? Have you hiked down the creek to where the water spills over the rocks from the sky above? Have you heard it? Felt the spray on your face?

Representatives, have you driven down Hole in the Rock Road? Have you climbed into the cracks of the earth and crawled into corners of the world that sunlight will never reach? Have you stood on high ground while a desert thunderstorm rolled through and filled these cracks with raging waters? It’s equally terrifying, and exhilarating. Have you then watched as the thirsty earth drank up every last drop of rain in just minutes?  

Have you traced the footsteps of the pioneers that founded this great state and stood where they stood on Dance Hall Rock? Tried to imagine their joys, sorrows, celebrations, and pain as they gathered with their families in this God-created amphitheater? Have you stood beneath the walls that have a history written in pictures from those who walked the earth hundreds of years ago? Have you felt the sacredness, and peacefulness of their ancient burial grounds that you step lightly across?

Have you gone to the desert with a worry, a problem, a struggle that haunts your mind, and let the heat, the wind, and the sand strip those worries away and polish you down until your soul is renewed? Have you felt this power of the desert Representatives? Have you?

I’m guessing the answer to all of these questions is NO. No you have not. I know this, because had you experienced any of these things, you would not be trying to unravel the Escalante National Monument. You would recognize the sacredness of this space, and it’s need for protection from those who want to sell off this corner of Utah to the highest bidder, so they can dig and blast, ruin the landscape, and disrupt the peace. 

I encourage you to take a break from your desks and your paperwork, forget for just a moment about the dollar signs that occupy your minds, and take a trip to the desert. Loosen your ties, take off your shoes and let the earth stain your skin red and burn you right down to your soul. Find the peace and  the excitement in the exact same moment that only the desert can offer. 

You can enter the desert with a jumbled mind, and I promise, you will leave a small piece of you buried in the sand, and take with you a clear vision of what is important--protecting this space that is now a part of you. Please try to see that value and worth are sometimes more than monetary wealth.

I appreciate your time, and hope this is an issue you can come to care as deeply about as I do, since you are representing my family.

Sincerely,
Sheena
Escalante


* * * * *


Utah friends! If you feel this way, PLEASE reach out to these men and tell them how you feel. Climb up on my tiny soapbox with me--I will make room!

Governor Herbert
PO Box 142220
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-2220
 801-538-1000

@governorherbert

Email Senator Hatch HERE
Email Senator Lee HERE or @senmikelee
Email Congressman Bishop HERE
Email Congressman Chaffetz HERE or reach out to him on IG--he seems to be pretty active on there @jasoninthehouse
Escalante

Escalante
Escalante




Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The things we learn.

first day of my third semester of nursing school
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I did it! WE did it! I am happy to scream from the mountain tops that I’m DONE with my third semester of nursing school! (I’ll be a real live nurse in May!) I'm not going to lie, this was the semester that almost broke me….I took on a little bit more than I should have with 15 credits and I just about crumbled under the weight of care plans and tests and hundreds of millions of  pages of books I was supposed to be reading. I spent every week in the hospital--I took care of teeny tiny babies in the NICU, watched newborns enter the world, spent nights on med/surg floors, learned about critical care in the ICU, and worked my first shift in the ER (my favorite!) 

on top of Timp in August
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But the best thing I learned, was how absolutely amazing my kiddos are. Counting all my pre-reqs, this was my third year of school since I went back (where does the time go?!) My mama heart has been holding on to some guilt--worries about all of the things I “should” be doing with and for these two. It has been a real struggle for me, and for some reason hit especially hard this fall. I continually questioned if I was doing the right thing--not for myself--I knew I was. But was I doing the right thing for them? And then I looked up one day, and realized how much they have grown. They cook! They clean! (don’t worry, they still put up a good fight on this one) They make me cookies any time I ask. They excel in school and their climbing and soccer. They look out for one another, they look out for me. Jonah is the first to ask "what did you learn in school today mom?" I find notes on my pillow before I go to bed at night from my Lu. They are my teammates and my best cheerleaders, and if I felt like breaking into song, they are sunshine on my cloudy days. Maybe this whole going-back-to-school thing hasn't been as hard on them as my imagination lead me to believe.

And as long as I'm here giving my Oscar speech, I'd also like to thank this guy. 
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If he was a cliche' he'd be things like my glue and my rock, and my blah blah blah. More importantly, he was the guy who brought me Lola's when I was starving. He forced me out on my bike when I'd been sitting too long. He drove me to the desert and hiked me out into the middle of nowhere so I could unbury my sanity. He played guitar every night while I sat at my computer and pounded out letters to form words to form papers with no end. He made me laugh, like he's always done, and he promised me I'd be just fine, and assured me I wouldn't crumble.
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And......I didn't. 
I met every deadline. Passed every test. I did have to learn to let go of some perfectionism and realize I just.can't.do.everything all the time, which is a great thing to learn, let me tell you. I learned that my kids are excelling, and I am just fine. And although it's hard to admit, I should probably listen to my husband because he is usually often sometimes right. 
I learned something new, imagine that.
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Sunday, August 14, 2016

August Favorites!

just hangin out....
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I have received such great feedback on my "essentials" page the past few years, and haven't updated since last winter (whoops!). I will put a new one together for fall, but for now here are just a few of my current MUST HAVES that I am loving.
(everything on my list is tested and truly loved by my family--this isn't a sponsored post :)

HEALTH
Natural Calm. It's August. I'm not going to lie, this month is not my favorite. The whole back-to-school season stresses me out and I just haven't been sleeping at night--at ALL. A friend recommended this--it's a magnesium supplement--and the last three nights I have fallen asleep right away, and then STAYED sleeping all night (a miracle!). I've just been mixing a tiny bit (1/2tsp) into some warm water at bedtime and it works like a charm.
Doterra Triease softgels.  I'm the only one in my family who doesn't suffer from some kind of seasonal allergy (go me!), and right now everyone else is pretty miserable--runny noses, watery eyes--it's the worst. I don't know how these work or why, or maybe it's all placebo, but they seem to be taking the edge off for Robby and the kids--Jonah's sneezing has been cut down from ten in a row to just one :)
Hydro Flasks . For a while I kinda made fun of anyone who bought an expensive water bottle when you can pick up an indestructible Nalgene for under $10....and then I got super tired of drinking warm water all summer. I finally bit the bullet and tested one of these out and it has CHANGED MY LIFE! I can actually leave my water in the car while I go in a store or on a run, and when I come back THERE IS STILL ICE IN MY WATER!  I've been drinking so much more water, now that it's not burning my mouth every time I take a sip. I highly recommend the splurge.

me and my beet bouquet, cheesin it up.
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SNACKS
Beets! Ok beets aren't exactly a grab-n-go snack, but we are eating them constantly! I love them roasted, but since it's too hot to turn on the oven right now, I've been slicing them, boiling them, and then adding to salads, or mixing them with some olive oil, red wine vinegar, chives and goat cheese! How do you eat your beets?
Orgain Protein Powder. I've been really trying to up my protein intake the last six months. I've never been a huge fan of protein shakes but lately I'm really liking this one. I've found that for me, I do better with the plant protein over whey (my gut doesn't always agree with so much dairy)--and this has been my favorite so far--it's not full of weird ingredients and sweetened with stevia instead of sucralose. I have a shake after every workout.
Epic Bars . Always a favorite--I've mentioned these before. I'm not a fan of just having them for a snack on a regular day--but when we are out hiking they taste SO good--I crave them. I like their new Epic bites too.

CLOTHING
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I've lived in my Birkenstocks all summer long--so comfy!
Brixton Hats  (above photo) I'm a huge fan of hats....then I don't have to do my hair! 
Prana's Kara Jeans I LIVE in these jeans. The fit is just right, lots of colors to chose from (the green is my fav), and they are super comfortable--I even climb in them.

KIDDOS
Merrell Hiking Boots . The kids have put some major miles on these boots this summer--they tell me their feet feel great (they did 13 miles right out of the box) and they've been through puddles, mud, and small creek crossings and their feet have stayed dry. Pair them with a good sock--we like Smartwool .
Kids Camelbaks . This is a great size day pack for kids--the bladder holds 1.5 liters of water and it's big enough to carry a fleece, rain jacket, and snacks (and whatever rocks they pick up along the way.)
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www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
RUNNING
Patagonia running shorts . Hands down my favorite running shorts--three years in a row! So light and comfortable-I won't buy any other shorts to run in.
Houdini . This jacket (pictured below) is my new favorite running piece. It rolls up tiny so I can put it in my running pack, and it really keeps the wind away when you get high up in the mountains--click the link and you can read my full review.
Resistance Bands. I used to be all "cardio! cardio! cardio!" But since I've added weight training in, I feel so much better when I run, ride, and climb. These bands are a great way to mix it up with weights--and they all fit in a little bag so you can take them wherever.
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 HELP!
Now I need some help from you guys! I'm looking for some new recipes....I definitely not going paleo--you know I'm a firm believer in good balance, but what I've found is working great for me right now is what I've decided to call "conscious carbs", meaning I eat more carbs the days I'm more active--running or biking-- (yogurt and oats for breakfast, a wrap for lunch) and less carbs when I'm less active (eggs for breakfast, salad and lean protein for lunch, etc). So I'm wondering if you have any great resources, favorite recipes, or instagram accounts that feature low carb meal ideas-some meatless dishes would be FANTASTIC! Mostly just good dinners and snack ideas (always looking for snacks for my long school days!) 

And speaking of food--I've been posting a few super easy meal ideas on Instagram Stories (@_sheenarae). Why are there Instagram stories? Who knows....still trying to understand it myself, but I'll post quick ugly food shots every now and then--check them out!



Sunday, August 7, 2016

these days

watching the "show
lu said animal heaven is in the sunset
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We live for summer evenings. We lay low during the day, the heat slowwwwwly melting us into sticky, lifeless, human puddles, and then emerge back in to real life as the sun begins to sink behind the mountain. The breeze starts to blow, we open windows, doors, and always hope for rain (we got our first storm in weeks!) We head out to the garden--it's being overtaken oh-so-slowly by weeds--and pull some veggies for dinner. Our feet are stained--we never wear shoes, our fingernails have a constant layer of dirt. We don't mind. We check the squash--little pumpkins, smooth spaghetti squash coming right along, the zucchini plant that frosted (twice!) is coming back to life with teeny tiny zucchinis. The branches on the plum tree are getting heavier by the day--tired from the weight of their almost-purple treasures--we constantly check to see when they'll be ready to pick--any day now. We prepare for our battle with the magpies who are patiently waiting as well. The backyard is overgrown with flowers and thistles as tall as me--they reach out and grab our legs as we pass. We start to count the ladybugs we find--(don't forget the two on her, and the one in my hair)--but we lose track. If we sit out there long enough, we sometimes see the two young bucks that wander through every now and then. We see the lightening in the distance, and sit to watch the show that Mother Nature prepared--just for us, I'm sure of it.  As the sun melts away, the clouds change from grey, to orange, to pink.....and fade out slowly back to silver.
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We head back into the house, and finish cleaning up from dinner. I replay the evening in my head and remind myself that it's these moments--these little tiny moments that are, in fact, the big moments. These are the days, aren't they.

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A Summer Supper
Not really a "recipe"....but boy did it taste good. I feel like we eat like kings in the summer time!
-grilled hamburger patties--fresh beef from the farmer's market (mixed with rosemary and topped
with blue cheese and pickled jalapenos from the garden)
-farmer's market beans sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts
-beets from the garden, boiled and tossed with butter, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper (wishing I had some goat cheese too!)
-garden tomato

serve with a side of shade and cool outdoor breeze!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

stuff

wake up, sleepy head.
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We spent fourteen nights away from home in July--on the road to California, back to Utah, on to Montana. Each time we had a few days in between, but I never really felt like we were "home"--we were constantly going and the month just FLEW by. Our time away was spent camping, so we brought only necessities. A few shirts, shorts, swimsuits. Food, jackets, a couple pairs of shoes. Ok we DID bring fun stuff like bikes, kayaks, fishing gear and all the makings of a good s'more, but for the most part, it was only what we needed. 
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www.inthelittleredhouse.blogspot.com
We've been home these last few days, and I've spent all my time catching up around the house-- doing mounds of laundry, unpacking gear, trying to finish projects I started in June (whoops). I can't help but look around our house and think.....why do we have so much STUFF?

I feel like the world right now tells us we need MORE. And everything must be BIGGER. More clothes. Bigger house. More "likes". Bigger cars. 
More things = more happiness, right?

No!
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Over the last few years we have downsized, and downsized again. Our house is twelve hundred something square feet--my kids' bedrooms are so close I can hear them snoring at night. Robby and I share a closet that I can touch both ends of at once, which is fine I guess--I hate shopping anyway. Don't get me started on our bathroom--big enough for only one person at a time--and it's still tight (and we are small people!) 

I'm not the most organized person, but I'm learning to keep what we need, and get rid of what we don't. (It's a process! I'd love to hear how you do it!) I'd rather fill my home with books to read and rocks we tripped over in the desert, than things that have no meaning or serve no purpose. 


And for now, it works for us. But occasionally, I crack. I hear the world screaming "more!" "bigger!", and I start to feel a little lesser....and smaller. And it slowly chips away at my confidence in how we live, and what we prioritize....and I feel like I NEED more...and bigger.

But then we head out in our little camper, and I cook in the same pot for every meal, and hang our towels to dry between the trees. I'm again reminded that it's not the "stuff" that makes me happy, but the people I'm with, and the world that I am experiencing--and I really don't need much to do that, do I?
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I think, I have everything I need.



Wednesday, July 27, 2016

a date with the desert

Alternate titles: 
The Whole Enchilada with a Side of Nachos
In Over my Head
Baptism by Fire
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We threw the last duffle in the car around seven. It was ninety something degrees and I had sweat seeping out of every pore.....and we were headed south. What were we thinking?

Our weekend adventure was a last minute plan--the kids were at grandma’s, we had a few days to cram in some fun. By the time we gassed up, filled the cooler, and did all the other un-glamorous tasks that are part of road tripping, we got a late start and didn't roll into Moab until midnight. We slept--kinda-- flat on our backs, spread out, "don't touch me!", because it was exactly one million degrees. 

Our shuttle up the mountain left at 6:30 a.m. I piled in with eight guys; the van smelled like a locker room and stayed fairly quiet on the hour drive. The guy in front of us had gotten into the van with a Salted Caramel Talenti container half full of a lightish brown liquid. Melted ice cream? No—that would be weird at this hour (or any hour), so I assumed it was his coffee. But then he finished it up and pulled out a raspberry Talenti container full of a very melted, very raspberry colored thick liquid. He nursed it all the way up the mountain. Between watching him sip away at two pints of melted ice cream for breakfast, the smell of the van, the windy mountain road, something sticky on my seat, and my enormous case of nerves….. I felt sick. 
Yeah, I was nervous. I’ve been out on my bike quite a bit this summer, but our trails are nowhere near as technical as what I was about to ride. Our trails are smooth, fast, and flowy. There’s an occasional rock, some roots, and I know them all pretty well, both on foot and two wheels. But Robby assured me (repeatedly), that I’d be fine….he’s usually more confident in me than I am in myself. So I trusted him….I think.
Click. Click. I was in my pedals. Started my watch. The Whole Enchilada…..let’s do this! The air was crisp, the forest floor was wet from the previous night’s rain, and we settled in to our seats. Ice cream guy was GONE. Just as I began to shake my nerves out, we began to climb. And climb. And climb. I was trying to focus on the view—the flowers were like fireworks, the smell was intoxicating, but all I could think about was my legs. And my lungs. They were on FIRE. We were somewhere above ten thousand feet and I was feeeeeeeling it. I looked up the trail, and one by one riders were hopping off their bikes, pushing them up the mountainside. Pedal, peddddal, pedddaaaalllll, they just wouldn’t rotate anymore. I was off. Push, push, push. I passed a few riders in my hustle to the top, all making comments like “nice day for a hike”, and "this is the worst",  and then topped out at 11,150ft on Burrow Pass. I should have taken a picture, but digging my phone out of my pack would have taken a few extra breaths that I just didn’t have at the moment, so instead we headed down. 
And then I wished we were climbing again. The trail wasn’t dirt--it was slippery, broken up pieces of rock, and it was STEEP. The switchbacks were just about as close to a complete 180* degree turn as you could get—I had to unclip to get around most of them, and even that was hard. We were three or four miles into the ride at this point—and I called ahead to Robby—“am I in over my head?” 
“You’re fine.” 
I trusted him. I think.
The trail leveled out, we wound through aspens, cows, bushes and flowers that completely covered the trail. I was relieved to have a bit more climbing to give my legs a rest from standing on the pedals. We crossed creeks that soaked our feet, and eventually made our way out of the forest to a wide open view of the desert below. 
WOW. This is why I signed up for this ride! The green meadow in front of us seemed to drop off into nothing, as red desert towers rose up into the blue sky. It looked fake. Was this real?! I wanted to spend the day taking it all in, but we had miles to cover.
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We began our descent, the green fading away and slowly turning to red stone and sand. We had a few miles of relief on a smooth(ish) jeep road where we were able to make up some time, and let the wind whip around us as the desert air began to heat up. 
The next twelvish miles or so all blurred together. When I think back, I imagine rock. After rock. After rocky rock. The sections of smooth broken slickrock were my favorite. Choosing a line up and over this rock—around that rock. Robby would holler “stay right!”—I’d keep right and sit all the way back over my seat as my tires dropped over edges and landed with ease. This was FUN! I was finally getting it. Choosing my own lines—it was like a playground—which way should I go?! Weeeeeeee!
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And then there were the sections I didn't love--no lines to choose—no way to go around. Up and over, up and over, times where I was like, “yeah, I’m not riding that”, so I’d hop down and carry my bike around, over, through. But then times where I was like “yeah, I’m not riding that”, but I could not for the life of me get unclipped in time, so I just held on tight and tried not to close my eyes. And yes I screamed a little lot.
And I surprised myself so many times. I still don’t really consider myself a mountain biker—I’ve been on my bike quite a bit this summer, but there is so much about the sport I'm still figuring out. As I learned to trust myself and my bike, I think I earned my mountain biking badge this trip. At one point in those impossibly rocky sections, I had a thought—it quickly became my cheesy motto for the remainder of the ride. I remember thinking I was so wise--like Ghandi or something--or maybe it was on a No Fear shirt I saw in middle school, but I just kept thinking: 
“You can’t DO, what you don’t TRY.”
It’s making me laugh so hard right now—does that even make sense? Not really. It sounded a lot more profound and inspiring when I was on the verge of dehydration and ridiculously exhausted, but I repeated this to myself over and over as my wheels rolled over drops and boulders. And as I kept trying, and trying--I continued to surprise myself with what I could do with each turn of my pedals.
I ran out of water with two miles of trail to go. It was 104* and I could see the river ahead, taunting me. My brain was done—I kept shifting the wrong direction and I swear the rocks were moving. The trail spit us out on the road—we had 5ish miles back to town on the hot asphalt. We stopped at a little spring dripping out of the rock and drank until our bellies were bloated and full. And then we filled up our bottles and dumped them over our heads—again and again. We were soaked and I’ve never felt so good. I got my second wind—“let’s do it again!!” We laughed, deliriously high on endorphins. 
We went and showered at the rec center in town. I think I may have fallen asleep while the cool water ran over my sore muscles. I took inventory: three new bruises on my legs, some skin off my legs and an elbow, a blister from gripping my handlebars so tight, and a baseball size goose egg on my arm from a hard spill onto the rocks. 
All worth it.
We ate our fill of Mexican food (nachos for me, and the very appropriate choice of enchiladas for Robby), and drove towards our next destination: Capitol Reef.

this picture says it all. absolute, complete exhaustion. 
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The rest of our adventure was fairly easy going. We threw up our tent and crawled into our sleeping bags, not even noticing how uncomfortable our air pads were. We crashed.
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We woke up with the sun, and headed out for our next ride. My legs were toast from the previous thirty four miles, but our second ride would be fairly gentle in comparison. We had cloud cover, a few rain drops even, and an oasis to dip in halfway through our ride. As we peddled our way across the desert, I wondered why I love this so much? My body was tired, my brain was mush, and for some reason, I still couldn't get enough. There’s just something about physical suffering that I crave, and I love doing it together. Robby pushed and I followed—trying not to question if I could do it—if he says I can, then I will. We pedaled on and ended our ride right under twenty one miles. It felt good.

our secret oasis
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done! 55 desert miles in two days.
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We checked in to our cabin for the night, showered in the outdoor shower surrounded by willows, and went to eat. And eat and EAT. Burr Trail Grill is hands down one of my favorite restaurants on the planet. We had fried green tomatoes, wings, burgers with potatoes, and their famous pie. We sat on our little porch as the sun set, and talked about our last fourteen years together, and what the years to come may bring…..fingers crossed, they bring more bike rides.

mmmm.....peach pie
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....the end....