Saturday, October 31, 2020

October Books

I can't believe my goal of reading 17 books in 2017 (ha, I ended up with 88 in 201777 in 2018 and 67 in 2019!) has morphed into this passion for books. As you can see, my reading has slowed a bit, but my love for books has not! In the past couple years I've added longer distance races (which means more time running/ training and less time reading), we've remodeled our condo (I think it legit took us six months to finish the whole thing... DIY seems to take twice as long {and cost twice as much} as you originally think it will), and I'm now working full time at our local running store (which cuts down on my reading time). Even still, I love getting my read on whenever I can.

Truth be told, I was never much of a reader when I was younger (CliffsNotes were my best friend when it came to books), but recently I fell in love. Although I may not read at the same speed as I previously did when I first caught the reading bug, I still want to keep the hobby going (and what better form of accountability than to post a list of the books I finished at the end of the month?!). I don't have any set number of books I am shooting to read this year, but hopefully a lack of goal doesn't mean a lack of books completed. So, without further ado, let's jump into everything I read in October!

  • With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo - This book was one I grabbed from my little free library. I didn't know anything about it, but the cover drew me in. The story was about a teenage mother doing her best to navigate school while taking care of her daughter and following her passion - cooking. I flew through the book and really enjoyed it. Even though this is technically considered a YA book, I totally think anyone would get wrapped up in the storyline and invested in the characters. It's a sweet story and a tribute to young, single mothers. Oh yeah, and it made me want to get better at cooking (and sort of wish this book had a scratch-n-sniff option because the food Emoni made sounded amazeballs!). I would give it a 9 out of 10. 

  • Beyond Trans by Heath Fogg Davis - I downloaded this book on my Hoopla app to listen to on my walks to work. I didn't know much about the book, but want to learn more about the trans community (and how I can be better at supporting them). The author questions the gender and sex-classifications attached to different areas of life (for example - birth certificates and driver's licenses, gender specific bathrooms, sex segregated sports, etc). As the author mentioned, many of these situations are ones I have never had to think twice about because I am a cisgender female. This book was very eye opening and probably only scratches the surface of what transgendered or gender non-conforming people encounter on a daily basis. I appreciate all of the work the author (and others) have done on this front. Although the book may go to an extreme with suggestions on how we as a society should adjust, it also brings up the conversations about our gender binary approach to life and questions why we are doing things the current way. I would give it an 8 out of 10.

  • Race Everything by Bart Yasso - I had 'favorited' this book in my Hoopla app a while ago but hadn't gotten around to listening to it before now. Bart is such a wealth of knowledge when it comes to running and racing, so I knew this one was going to be good. Although I am not currently in the "racing" mentality (partially due to all of my races for 2020 being cancelled due to COVID and partial due to the fact that training to run fast is HARD and lately I have been enjoying the "journey" rather than the outcome), it was fun to hear him walk through the main distances (5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon, Ultra Marathon, Non-Conventional Races, Relays, etc). Not only does he give you tips on how to train for the said distance, but he also shares his favorite race(s) in that distance. Some of his recommendations (like the Carlsbad 5000 and the Big Sur Marathon) were ones I have already done, while others were ones I am considering putting on my "must do" list. Definitely got me itching to be back with the running community in a race setting! I'd say this book is more for a "beginner" (I didn't really walk away with anything I didn't know before), but it's still awesome to hear from one of the greats in the running world. I would give it an 8 out of 10. 

  • Anxious People by Fredrik Backman - A few weeks ago a friend of mine had this book on her IG stories and was raving about it. I had read a few of this author's previous books (and really liked them) so checked with the library and they happened to have a large print version available. I was totally fine with a little thicker book, so had them drop it off at the house (due to COVID, our library has had to change their procedures a bit, but I am stoked they are allowing home delivery by the BookMobile!). I have to confess, seeing as I grew up on constant diet of Law & Order, I am pretty decent at figuring out a story before the plot is officially revealed. I loved that this novel kept me guessing (probably because it jumped around a lot - not in a bad way, but just that I didn't have time to really sit still and ponder what was coming next). I will be honest, it is a bit complex and the set-up takes a while, but I promise it is worth sticking with. I appreciated seeing the backstories behind the characters (which reminded me of the quote "be kind because you never know what sort of battles people are facing") and it left me really pulling for all of them! I would give it a 9 out of 10.

With that, October has come to a close. My reading may not be going gang-busters like it has in the past, but I hope it never completely stops. If you have any suggestions, let me know! I'm always willing to add them to my library wait list!

PS I created an Amazon list that includes all of the books I've read and would recommend to others. Check it out!

What was the best book you read this year?

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Monday, October 26, 2020

Mammoth Monday

Two weekends ago the hubby, pup and I jumped in the AdventureMobile and pointed it north towards Mammoth Lakes. And, yes, if you're counting, it was THREE DAYS after we got home from our Truckee/ Tahoe trip. The turnaround was tight (especially when I'm gone from 8:45am till 7:15pm for work, plus the time I'm running) and I don’t know if I'd do it again, but we made it work because who knows what natural disaster is on the horizon or when we'll be able to go again...

Similar to our previous camping trip, we had everything packed and ready to go so that we could hit the road when I got off work Thursday evening. Although I'm totally an early bird, the hubby is definitely a night owl and prefers to leave for trips in the evening to avoid driving through the warmest part of the day... If he's willing to drive, I'm willing to ride ;)

We left Carlsbad by about 7:15 PM and made great time. We decided to stay in Alabama Hills on BLM land Thursday night. The area was a bit crowded already, but we were able to find a spot after a few minutes of looking and set up camp. I think we got into our sleeping bags shortly before midnight, once all was said and done. Even if I would have preferred extra shut eye, I set my alarm so it'd wake me up prior to dawn because I love watching the world wake up in Lone Pine.

Usually we like to pack everything we plan to eat on our adventures with us (tends to be more economical and saves time, not to mention more self sufficient with less outside contact during a pandemic), but the hubby really loves the Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery and raves about it whenever we're in the area so we made an exception for breakfast Friday morning.

After filling our tummies with some scrum-didly-umptious food, it was time to hit the road again. Like the last trip, the hubby was "on the clock" and needed to get some work done, so I drove while the hubby got his design on. #teamwork


Originally when we were planning this trip I was working Monday through Friday, but recently they had to cut some of our hours due to the slowing of the economy. With that said, I'm now off on Fridays. This is perfect for trips when we can leave Thursday night and make it a long weekend. Because we technically added Friday to the trip after we had already booked our original accommodations, we had to snag a site at a different campground for Friday night {Oh Ridge Campground}.

We got to the campground fairly early and weren't sure if we'd be able to check in or not, but did a little "drive-by" of our spot and saw it was empty. While getting the lay of the land we saw a camp host who said we could check in - SCORE!

Similar to the previous weekend, I figured I'd get in a little running while the hubby finished up the work he had to do. The hubby checked out AllTrails and Google Maps and said I should be able to run around June Lake and get in about 6 or so miles. I figured I'd do the loop and then check back with him to see what his work status was (and whether I had time to head out for another lap or if he could pack up his computer and we could go so some exploring around the area). 

And, if you know me, you know that although I may be great at some things (okay, maybe not great, but at least mediocre), directions are NOT a strong suit of mine... The hubby is awesome at them. We can be out in an area for the first time and he remembers a specific tree or a certain trail. I, on the other hand, could get lost inside of a paper bag... So, as I'm sure you can imagine, although the hubby went over the exact route with me before I left, I still missed a turn!

One positive about the extra mileage was that when I got back to the campground the hubby had just finished everything he needed to get done and was able to pack up his work goodies so we could head out for a family hike. #PerfectTiming

We decided to hike around Gull Lake. The loop around the lake is about 2 miles, which was perfect to keep our "Walt Walk Streak" intact. We figured it'd be a great way for the hubby and pup to stretch their legs after working for the morning (ha, of course Walt hadn't been "working"... unless you consider barking at chipmunks and digging in the dirt work).

The fall colors were awesome (mostly greens and yellows, but more "fall" than we're used to in SoCal... because palm trees don't change colors for the seasons ;)). We also were able to check out the campground on the lake for a future trip.

When we got back to the campground the hubby went to the lake to throw in his fishing line and I laid down. (TMI, but 95% of the time I eat completely plant-based {eating cheese every week or two when we go to our favorite Mexican spot}, but had a breakfast burrito that morning and the eggs/ cheese did NOT sit well with me... I may have had to pull over for an emergency jump-in-the-woods potty break on my run earlier in the day and things were still feeling a bit "off".)

Eventually it was time to make some dinner and call it a night. The hubby had picked up a book from our community "library" before we left, so after enjoying our ramen we both pulled out our books and got our read on. 

Since we were changing campgrounds on Saturday, the game plan was to wake up, go for a run, pack up camp, get in a hike and then meet up with some friends who were coming up to Mammoth. After breakfast the hubby and I were able to get in a little over 4 miles on fire roads and trails near the campground before we had to pack up the AdventureMobile.

Once we got everything ready (it literally takes like 2 minutes), we checked out some of the trails near us on AllTrails and decided on Fern Lake Trail. Originally we were thinking we would look for a hike the pup could do with us, but eventually opted for something the two of us could hike/ run (while Walt hung in the truck since the temps were still plenty cool).

Let's just say it's a good thing Walt hung out in the truck because the trail was TOUGH! It was legit straight up for a mile and a half. We climbed about 1,500 feet in the 1.5 miles. Don't get me wrong, the views were AMAZING and the lake itself you hike to is AWESOME, but you definitely have to earn every step! A quad and lung burner FOR SURE!

Surprisingly we were actually able to run some of the downhill (originally I thought it would be too steep and rocky, but we were able to find a decent amount of the trail that we could pick up speed and chug along on). On the way up we only saw maybe 4 or 5 people, but once we started heading back down we started seeing a few more folks. Everyone was respectful to maintain social distance, but I was glad we started earlier when we had less hikers to contend with.

When we got back to the truck we walked the pup for a quick second, made our banana and nut butter wraps and jumped in the truck to head towards Mammoth Lakes and our campground {New Shady Rest Campground} for the evening (where we were planning to check in and meet up with our friends before making an afternoon adventure plan). 

The weather in the June Lake area (about 12 miles north of Mammoth Lakes) was gorgeous while we were there. You could see a little of the smoke from the wildfires here or there, but it was 90% clear skies with a low AQI {air quality index}. Well, let's just say that driving towards Mammoth was totally a different story. It legit looked like the apocalypse. We knew as we were driving in that hanging out around the campground for the afternoon would not be in our best interest. 

After consulting with our friends, we decided to try and get out of dodge (that's the saying, right?!). We figured an afternoon out and about would be much preferred than sitting in the ash and soot in the air at the campground.

As you can see from the pictures, the air quality at the hot and cold springs still wasn't amazing, but it was actually much better than what it was at the campground! Around 5pm we started to pack up our stuff and the pups to head to camp. The hubby and I made chick'n pasta while our friends went out to dinner. We also enjoyed Fireball and Cider (my fave fall drink), then made s'mores over the burner (with all the fire restrictions, this is the only way to make my go-to camp treat!).

When our friends got back we went over to their trailer to play a mean game of Skip*Bo (okay, it wasn't mean at all, but isn't that a phrase the kids are saying these days?!). One of the things I have missed the most during COVID and all of the social distancing is interaction with our friends, so even if this was very limited, it still made my heart smile!


Sunday morning came and the air quality actually didn't seem too bad near the campground so before everyone else got up and moving I decided I would go out for a run. The hubby and I looked up a route for me to take and decided on the Town Loop. I took a bunch of screenshots of critical intersections and turns (it was very well marked but I still always second guess myself, so better safe than sorry, right?!), then put on my shoes, filled my handheld and away I went.

The loop is pretty awesome. Think of it as a bicycle trail/ path around the outside of the town of Mammoth Lakes (duh, like the name suggests ;)). There is a bit of elevation, but everything was paved and nicely maintained.

I'm sure you could have guessed, but even with all the preparation, I still missed a turn... I even pulled out my phone to triple check, but I swear the sign was pointing straight instead of right, so I thought maybe they had added a new connector trail... Obviously I was wrong, but found an awesome back road that connected me with the main trail. 

Even after refinding the trail, I lost it again when I got into town and ended up just running a route I knew would get me to the campground. With all the detouring I ended up getting a little over 9 miles (the trail is supposed to be 7.3...).

Once I got back we packed up and decided to head to June Lake (since the air had been clear when we were there). I had a call I needed to be on from 10:30-11:30am, but thankfully we had plenty of service and I could log in remote.

After I got my "work" done I was able to hang out for a bit. Walt and his doggy friend chased ducks away from the shore, we all took turns taking the paddleboards out on the lake and just hung out - soaking in the sun and the company.

Originally the trip was booked through Monday, but the hubby made a boo-boo and cancelled the campground for Sunday night (he thought he had booked it incorrectly and without asking me first, he cancelled it...). He forgot the trip was supposed to be Saturday - Monday {but when my hours got cut we added Friday}. It turned out okay, especially with the less than stellar air quality at the campground. We packed up the AdventureMobile after lunch and away we went. 

The drive home went fine, even with Google having us take the 395 to the 5 and going through Hell.A. L.A. And seeing as I already had taken Monday off I was able to have the following morning to do laundry, clean out the AdventureMobile, get in a run while taking care of some errands and just take a couple deep breaths before starting the week back up. As with all of our trips, we were grateful to have had the time together to unplug {my phone is normally on airplane mode as soon as we leave San Diego County}, reset {especially with the craziness of the election coming} and enjoy nature. 

And, before I close, I obviously need to send a huge THANKS and a ton of LOVE to the firefighters and first responders out battling the blazes in California and elsewhere! You all ROCK OUR SOCKS! We don't have the words to truly express our appreciation, but please know we are forever grateful for you and all of your life-saving efforts!

Have you ever been to Mammoth Lakes before?