Airboat in the Everglades. 

I think for me the best part of the airboat trip in Everglades national park was when I was on dry land. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good boat ride. I loved the slow parts where we talked about the Mangrove trees and where I was like two feet from an Alligator. That was all cool – I just am not a fan of trying to make a boat fly. I don’t like feeling as if we are out of control because we are going so fast – and I do not like doing 180s in a boat either.

I spent a lot of time trying to be brave – my glass of wine buzz that I got at lunch in preparation for a fast ride on a boat was well worn off as the wait was so long for our number to be called letting us know it was our time for our flight/ride through the Everglades.

I tried to be brave. Fast boats are not my thing and I hoped an airboat would feel different when going fast. And it does. It’s real smooth. You feel like you are gliding on top of the shiny briny water because you are -flying on top of it. It’s smooth not choppy and bumpy like a regular boat but is still freaking fast and it’s the fast – it turns out – that I dislike.

I even shot some photos while we were flying through the canals that were flanked by mangroves – I tried to just let go and enjoy.  I even once had my hands in the air like I just did not care – yay me. But I spent much of the fast parts trip tucked with my head down. When Kevin caught on that I was scared he put his arm around me. Nice man.

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You can’t tell but we were going very fast here!

Turns out our guide was a lead foot and we did a lot of fast moving. Maybe BC there were only two areas that had gators out that day. Maybe he wanted to give us our money’s worth.  But we went fast!

Incoming airboat as we were heading out.

Incoming airboat as we were heading out.

In between the going super fast part our tour guide did stop and teach us a few things about the area.

There are three types of Mangrove trees in the area – the red, the black and the white. It is illegal to cut down the mangroves and I read on the park website for Florida that if a person needs to cut back the mangroves for some reason there are many rules and approvals that one needs to get to do that. A person can be fined for cutting down mangroves willy nilly. Mangroves are part of a delicate ecosystem in the everglades so I can see why there might be regulations. The driver felt that the mangroves were overtaking the everglades – and to him it was a problem. Maybe it makes getting their boats around more difficult. Each airboat company operator only can travel in specific areas in the everglades so it is probably not uncommon that they need to cut back the trees to allow their boats to be able to get in and out.  I found the mangroves to be very interesting and beautiful.

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Mangrove roots

Mangrove Trees

Mangrove Trees

 

An early blooming Mangrove tree.

An early blooming Mangrove tree.

We also learned about a big problem that is messing with the delicate ecosystem in the everglades- the Burmese Python. This snake is not a natural animal in the everglades. They were put there by people who got them as pets but could no longer care for them. The python population has grown over the years in the everglades and they are eating everything in sight. They can even take on an alligator – the other big eater in the glades. The snakes pose a threat to endangered species in the everglades. I noticed a big lack of birds when we were on the tour. I was hoping to see more seabirds but there were very few. I suspect some reasons for this are the snakes who will eat the eggs (and a bird if they snag one). There are python hunts now yearly which may hopefully help slow the growth of the python population.

What I wanted to see in the wild were Gators! We were able to see two in the habitat. It is thrilling to see these prehistoric looking beings in their natural habitat.  We had seen some in the “zoo” that was attached to this tour company -but seeing them in the wild is even cooler. When we arrived to buy our tickets we also saw one in the water adjacent to the ticket booth. He was a big one. I tried to get pictures of him through the fence but seeing them from the boat with no fencing separating us from them was really awesome. One smaller gator was about two feet from our boat and she swam away as we approached but I was able to get some good shots as she was on my side of the boat. I made sure I dove for an end seat on the boat when our number was finally called – I wasn’t going to like the speed but I was going to get a prime picture taking seat. It occurred to me later that many people actually go on the trip for the airboat ride not for photo ops – I was one of only a couple of people that carried a DSLR camera. I was not there for the thrill ride but I did get to see some gators and that made the trip worth it-even the 180s. _ well maybe.

This is the guy we saw when we were getting our tickets.

This is the guy we saw when we were getting our tickets.

Another shot of the guy we met at the ticket booth.

Another shot of the guy we met at the ticket booth.

This is the gator that was close to my side of the boat on our tour.

This is the gator that was close to my side of the boat on our tour.

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She said – “see ya!”

My dad – who was also on this ride with us- said- “It was my first and last airboat ride” – yes Dad it is a one and done for me too. But it was worth the scariness and the discomfort I think.

I wanted to chat a bit about the “zoo” that was part of the tour companies property. We got free tickets because there was a long wait for our turn on the airboat. The zoo was an enclosed area of maybe an acre or two that housed some pretty amazing animals. I am not a big fan of these types of zoos – the enclosures are not big enough for the animals that are in them. There were even signs all over saying they knew that the enclosures did not meet USDA requirements and they were in the process of building more. I didn’t see any evidence of that on the premises so I had to have faith that these signs weren’t just up to appease the masses. I will say that all the enclosures were clean and all of the animals looked healthy.

I enjoyed taking pictures of the animals there. They had a room of reptiles that were examples of what lives wild in the area- and there was a burmese python along with a rattle snake and some lizards. My camera did not take a good shot in that room – but the python was scary big and I was told that was a medium sized guy.

I was floored to see a panther,and even lions and tigers in this zoo. They were all sleeping or sunning themselves- none seemed particularly stressed in any way. Of course there were tons of gators and they had some crocodiles too. In one enclosure we saw some birds – egrets – I think- and vultures. As I mentioned before there was a lack of birds out in the glades- but plenty that flew in and out of the enclosures. I also fell in love with some otters. How can you not love an otter?

Overall I think the trip was really fun. Most people don’t hate fast boats as much as I do.  If you go have lunch in Everglades City first. They have a few restaurants that are pretty good. We ate at one that was changing management and they were in the middle of a huge remodel and there wasn’t even a name on the place but my dad’s wife ate there before so we trusted her – it was a mess inside but the back deck was open. And we had a nice lunch. I may or may not have tried and liked gator bites- but I am not saying. The gators might find out and they bite…!


  
  

A night in Orlando

I’m not a party animal anymore. Yes- a long time ago I liked to have a few drinks and let loose with the best of them. But age and the hatred of feeling crummy the next day has slowed me down. Now I’m up late if it’s 10pm. 

So how did I did I find myself out at a party the other night  that didn’t begin until 9pm?  Well I wa he played out in Orlando with two of my kids and Kevin my husband who is here on business. He is working the biggest fitness trade show in the US. His company hosted a VIP party last night and we got tickets. I guess because we are important(not because it was  mandatory for employees to at least show up-enjoy wink.) So I had to go right? 

Well I wanted to go in theory but it was going to cut into my bedtime. So I wasn’t sure. Kevin could go alone except he doesn’t like doing the party scene alone and he really hoped I’d go.  Stick him in front of 5000 people and ask him to talk business and he’s your man. But some social situations make him quiver and he doesn’t drink to calm his nerves. 

Since his precense at least for some of the evening was mandatory, I was feeling like I should go -plus it would be a reason to dress up some and I had just the dress in mind to wear. One that I bought 2 years ago and loved on me but never wore.  It was one of those dresses that could go dressy or go more casual. Perfecto.  It still had tags. It needed a debut. And I had just the shoes. I didn’t care a lick about the party but I wanted to dress up some!

Was Cinderella into going to the ball to find a guy or for the awesome ball gown? I am guessing the duds. Maybe im wrong. She is nearby- in Disney -maybe I should ask her. I’m sure she’d say the clothes. 

So after a busy day walking around the trade show as hubby worked and then spent some time at the pool (so tiring laying in paradise) I was hoping to get a second wind so I could enjoy said party. After I got myself ready I was feeling pretty good. I looked ok -not as in shape as I was when I got the dress but I was looking ok and Kevin thought I looked awesome so that was the point -right? 

We had the teens to contend with. Our two sons are with us here and our daughter joins us on the next leg of our trip in Marco Island.  So we took the boys to dinner. I was a little over dressed for Johhny Rockets but that place is great for the boys. And it was right near the restaurant where the party was being held. And near a movie theater where the boys would be going while we got our groove on. 

Once we disposed of the boys (and I mean that in the nicest way) we strutted our stuff over to the Partay!!  I was kind of excited – which surprised me. 

  The restaurant/bar Cuba Libre was impressive. Kevin’s company pulled out all the stops. Outside they had  two women that were like ten feet tall dressed in gold sequin dresses  standing sentry at the door. They were a sight to see and many people were taking photos.   Inside the restaurant looked like a little town in Cuba. Well I haven’t been to Cuba but I’m thinking that was the effect they were trying to go for. It had beautiful dyed concrete floors and the walls were all fronts of buildings so you felt like you were out in the streets. 

  
Kevin’s company had rented the entire place for the VIP party for the night. Very private and posh We got there early hoping to make the rounds and then make a quick exit. But there weren’t many people there yet so we’d have to wait a while to make our precense known.  So we may as well make the best of it I thought. 

We migrated to the upper level via a very lovely and long stairway. I got a drink. I said hubby doesn’t drink. I do occasionally and usually no more than one or two. I’m a lightweight. 

We began to see folks Kevin knew arrive and we said some hellos. I was kind of bored and chilly upstairs and I wanted to bail and go back to the hotel room and watch hgtv. But we pressed our way back downstairs and thats where the real action was. The dance floor was packed and the DJ played EDM (electronic dance music) which I didn’t know much about (and still don’t really) until my almost 18 year old daughter got into it. I was ways poo pooing her love of EDM and told her all the kids do at those EDM events are drugs-I’m a harpy sometimes.  And maybe that’s true but I was sort of digging the music at this event. I couldn’t do that nightly my brain would be mush from the intense bass. But I could see why my daughter might like it! Hopefully drug free. 

The dancing was infectious I kind of wanted to jump in. Kevin isn’t a dancer at all and he said I should jump in the fray if I wanted to but I had only one drink in me and it was a small one. I needed more alcohol to fuel my dance legs-so I opted to stay on the edge of the floor and dance some and take photos. And it turned out that I got some kinda cool photos.

     

  
A hired photographer was walking around and taking photos of groups and we got in a photo thus cataloging our attendance at the party-(later I would photo bomb another group -it was too much right in my face not to do it – a little of the party Anne is still inside me!) So –hey -after being in an official corporate picture and a photo bomb we could go now there was proof of our attendance -except we didn’t leave. We were kind of having fun watching the dancing .  It wasn’t a place to hold any conversation so I just said hello and smiled a lot. Which was fine with me. I don’t like screaming over blaring music. 

The bummer of the night for me was that the place was getting smoky – they had a cigar making bar set up outside on a terrace. (Cuban bar thing I guess). There are still smoking areas at bars in Florida -outside- but the smoke wafted inside as the doors opened and closed.  And I am super sensitive to smoke. I can’t believe I ever smoked years ago. It boggles me how I did it. But it was getting bad so we went back upstairs hoping for a respite from the pungent cigar smoke – but the smoke was up there too. 

We sat for a bit watching the dancing and I felt myself getting sleepy and a little sick from the smoke . Ugh I’m so not a party girl. I needed a coffee to wake up except I don’t drink caffeine anymore. I know – I feel bad for me to! 

I think Kevin was just waiting for me to say we could go so he had an excuse if anyone from work asked why he left early. 

It was a good party. And the fun was in the watching I think. Though I would have danced maybe if I had another drink. Maybe. 

The company tried to make it a nice night for clients with the dancing and drinks and finger foods. They even had artists doing caricatures -on iPads -my have things changed. I had to take a pictures of that. 

  
We took a turn in the photo booth they had in a corner and even donned some kooky hats – I still have our photo booth pictures from 18 years ago. Back then you didn’t see them at parties or weddings like you do now.  I wonder if any over indulged parties took photos in there later in the evening. 

Alas I wouldn’t find out as the smoke forced us to have to take leave. No more watching the dancing from the floor of the balconies. We had to squeeze our way  out the door to head home. 

I am not a party girl. This event was so out of my element but it was good I went. And with people of all ages dancing I didn’t feel too old. I think I’ve been feeling old lately for some reason. It was kind of fun really and we realized as we left it was after midnight. 

Way past Cinderellas bedtime and mine-and I didn’t lose a slipper. 

But I already had the handsome prince.  

that last shot i wasnt ready for!

 

Gallery

Colonial Williamsburg

Recently we took our kids down to Williamsburg, VA to visit Busch Gardens and the Water Park there. Hubby- Kevin- had some business in Richmond and in Williamsburg so tagging along with him was a no brainer. With the kids (teens can go it alone at the parks!) dropped off at Busch Gardens we checked into the hotel and then met some good friends for dinner. We enjoyed a few drinks and Tapa’s(small plates) at Triangle across from The College of William and Mary. The food was great and they had live music as well. The prices were great too.

Williamsburg in general is clean! The entire town is so cute and beautiful. There are so many trees that it is not easy to get your bearings when there so I was glad to have GPS..I suspect a few more days there and we may have had a better sense of direction!  Our hotel- The Governors Inn- was basic but clean and only 3 blocks to town and 15 minutes(drive) to the parks.

On Day 2 we took the kids to the water park and we headed off to see historic Colonial Williamsburg. We didn’t buy tickets for the tours this time as we were pressed for time and it was hot! I wasn’t sure how well I’d do in that heat. Turns out I did ok..I got hot but thanks to some nice wind and a wet towel I was able to walk the village.

I loved Colonial Williamsburg and got some good picture with only my IPhone in tow. I left the big cameras at home this time and decided to opt for the camera on the phone. It was a hot day but sunny and clear so the photos came out pretty well.

At first I thought it might be weird to be hanging with people in costume and character but it was very cool. They were kind of in and out. (I did have one guy tell Kevin and I all about his view of Civil War history and Slavery as a southerner – He was from Charleston and a teacher. He was working in the park for the summer- yes he was not in character for that convo! Probably a no no but he was interesting.)

I definitely want to go back in cooler weather to take in Colonial Williamsburg more fully. I would like to see Jamestown too. We only gave ourselves 4 hours and it was not enough to get around the village and the market place (the stores in a walking mall just outside the Village on the Duke of Gloucester Street – I love that name), have lunch, and take a quick dip in the hotel pool before we left. We didn’t even make it to the Governors Palace area. By the way, after check out are you allowed to swim in the pool? We didn’t know but when we arrived early the day before the hotel staff said we could use the facilities while we waited for our rooms to be cleaned -so we assumed that after checkout they would not be too upset that two middle aged people jumped into their pool. We are rogue aren’t we? We did have to change in the car which is not fun when you are wet!

There are many golf resorts in the area and a vineyard and Anheuser- Busch brewery and the stables. So much to do and see. Virginia Beach is less than an hour away as well.

This was a quick get-a-way but very enjoyable. If you have a chance to see Williamsburg, Va I would say go for it – there is something to do for all ages.

Thanks for reading….

http://www.visitwilliamsburg.com/attractions/things-to-do/

http://www.colonialwilliamsburg.com/

Time away- James Farm Ecological  Preserve. 

Last week we went on our summer beach vacation to our favorite destination- Bethany Beach, DE.  I went on this trek with my hubby, 3 teens, 2 dogs, and my mom.  I decided before we went I wanted to spend the week driving around Bethany and surrounding area – Millville- Ocean View – Frankford – and others – so we could get a feel of where we might want to live one day (hopefully sooner than later) and I just wanted to really see the area. There is a lot to it.

I have been coming to vacation in Bethany Beach for 45 years but I didn’t really know the area very well.  When you have just a short week at the beach it is usually spent sitting for hours by the ocean reading and then hitting a great eating spot for dinner. The area has grown enormously over the years as many people took advantage of Delaware’s low taxes and cost of living. I had not spent a lot of time seeing what was really around bc I was trying to soak up as much beach as I could. This time it was different bc my husband and I really want to live in that area and it is important while visiting to tool around in the car and see what the different areas offer.

So on Tuesday my mom, and husband – Kevin, and I took off in the car and drove and drove for a couple hours. The area isn’t huge so we saw a lot. Armed with GPS and Google maps I navigated(I love to do this so much) us around through different neighborhoods. At one point we came across a park -called the James Farm Ecological Preserve -that I had never seen before. I got out to take a look at the trail maps- I love maps- and I saw that the trails led through some forest to a beach on the Indian River Bay. It seemed like a cool place to hangout so after more neighborhood exploring,  we headed back home to drop my mom off- get some kids and a dog and go back to this park to explore.

The Bethany Beach area (inc. areas to the west of Route 1) has Ocean to the East and two bays to the north and south. Indian River Bay is to the north this bay feeds into the Rehoboth Bay further north and Little Assawoman Bay is to the south near Fenwick, DE. Another great town just north of Ocean City Md. Here is a map link of the Delaware shore so you can get a better feel of the area. The Delaware shore is also home to incredible shoreline state parks(Fenwick Island State Park, Delaware Seashore State Park and Cape Henlopen State Park). These parks have great beaches, fishing and much more. Here is a link to the Delaware state park info.

When we got back to the park it was later afternoon. We picked a trail that was more woodsy. Fifty feet in we were enveloped in trees and the peace of the place was palpable. It was hard to believe that this trail would lead to a sandy beach on the bay!  The walk was lovely and though it seemed like we might be in the woods forever soon enough we came upon the end of the trail and to a boardwalk that had an arrow that pointed to the beach. I think the walk to the beach took less than 15 minutes from the parking lot.  When we walked out to the beach we were met with very shallow water. There were some people just standing way out in less than waist deep water talking…some were collecting oysters. It was pretty cool. With the tide out the shallow area lasted for 50 yards or so. The water was clear so you could see the seaweed floating below along with small fish that jumped in and out of the water. It was peaceful.

I am not sure this is a well know place by visitors to the beach. It was very quiet and empty. A vast difference to the July beach scene on the ocean in Bethany! The best part dogs are allowed anytime. Bethany has a strict no dog rule on the beach from mid-may to end of September. The state parks allow dogs and some of the other Delaware beaches have less stringent rules allowing dogs on the beach before and after main beach hours. So to find this quiet place that allows dogs was great.

We spent about 30 minutes on the beach and then headed back to the car via another more direct trail. All trails were easy flat walks. I plan to visit again but next time with a beach chair, a book, sunscreen, and my dog….

Thanks for reading…..

More about the preserve: http://www.inlandbays.org/visit-us-james-farm-ecological-preserve/

The water was so shallow and you could walk out quite far…I think the deeper water is visible in the photo where the water line is darker.

Looking at the beach from the water. I hope to kayak next time we head to the beach.

The top of the shorter trail that leads to the bay.

The boardwalk trail that leads out to the beach…

Trying to catch the peace of the place…

 

Yurt kidding me! 

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What is a yurt? I have been asked that question a lot since I told friends and family that I booked a yurt for a recent weekend event in upstate New York.

If I was to explain what a yurt is in my language  I would say it’s a big round tent like structure. It is portable. It has accordion walls and a heavy canvas (more circus tent than pup tent).  It’s pretty darn cool!

Yurts hail from Central Asia. They date back to 400 bc and have been were used by nomads as the moved around the country. More here on the history of Yurts. And here is one more blog on the history of yurts.

Yurts of the past

I’m not sure how I came to know what a yurt was. Maybe while reading a book. Maybe in photos. I was always intrigued by them but they aren’t something you see often. So when I came across the opportunity to stay in a yurt I jumped right on it. Well I had to ask the family first bc this would be their dwelling for a couple nights as well. Good news! They were in!  There were 4 yurts available at The Grist Mill campground in Granville, NY. I chose the 24 ft size plenty of room for the five of us – 2 adults- 3 teens. It had two sets of bunks a queen bed and a futon. There was a large table and small fridge and microwave. There was a hutch  that held eating utensils, plates and cups. Oh and the most needed appliance- a coffee maker. Yes the yurt was equipped with electricity. This allowed the availability of a ceiling fan as well. I’m not sure the nomads would recognize the glamorous yurt we stayed in!

Our yurt also had windows. Much like a tent the windows zipped open and closed. The roof has a hole covered by a plastic dome which cranks open and closed. The windows allowed for ventilation as does the dome and in our case having windows was great as the yurt sat by a stream. The sounds of water at night were very soothing ESP for someone like me who wakes up often.

When you look for yurts to stay in in the US you will find many under the “Glamping” category of camping. Especially when you see how some of them are decked out. The only thing missing in our yurt was an attached bath. Hilary – the owner of the campground- said they were considering attaching a bathroom to each yurt. Their bath house was very nice and not far away but when some of us wake at night multiple times and need to go for a bathroom visit it would be nice to just have one steps away! But the yurt at Grist Mill was really great.

I will say a little about this camping area – Grist Mill Campground. If you are looking for a nice place to camp – you can rent a yurt or pitch a tent – you will be very happy with this location. There is a wonderful stream running behind each yurt which provides soothing sounds. Each yurt has a grill and fire pit and a number of chairs to sit outside. In addition, there is a large outdoor picnic table. The grounds contain a big barn they are now using for weddings and other events. The old mill is really cool and there is a large pond for fishing(there is a small camp store that sells bamboo fishing rods among other sundries) and trails along the pond and into the fields for nice hikes. Hilary- the owner- is wonderful and laid back. She makes you feel so welcomed right from the start. If you want a nice camping experience in a yurt or tent in the upstate New York area give Hilary a call at Grist Mill.

I have now fallen in love with yurts. I love the simplicity of them. I wonder if I could ever simplify that much that I could live in one for my home. When you have your entire family in one there is a lot of opportunity for closeness. After a couple days maybe it might even be just a bit too close for those used to a little more space! But we did great and nobody seemed to mind Kevin’s snoring!

Even if I could not make a yurt my permanent home at this point in my life, I would like to have one in my backyard. I am thinking of a writing place- a mom cave- a getaway from the craziness a house with three teens can dole out. Ahh the solitude. It will be something on my wish list and sometimes those wish list items become reality!

Yurts can be purchased online. Hilary told me you create the base (decking) and the yurts come as kits that can be put up on the decking. Probably, our nomads of the past did not create a beautiful deck with wonderful wide planked hardwood floors like our yurt floor had and you may not need an official floor if you want a yurt to tote to different places. But a solid non-dirt floor is preferable to dirt for us less adventurous campers. (I used to be a backpacker so i know rustic- I have just graduated to an easier camping experience! Yes Glamping…I know icky word to diehard campers). I will post more yurt info links below.

I am hoping that I will be able to stay in yurts more often. They are a really wonderful experience. There is such beauty in the simplicity and that is something I strive to find in my life. And when you find it you know you’ve found a gem… and just maybe one day I will be looking at one in my backyard!

Thanks for reading….

http://www.yurts.com/

http://www.rainier.com/yurts/

http://www.whitemountainyurts.com/

http://www.yurtinfo.org/

http://www.yurtforum.com/classifieds/

http://www.campingyurts.com/yurt-to-go.shtml

Ends and Beginnings…

On Sunday as I walked down the drive way of Bedlam Farm to my car I began to cry…

But that was the last day of the Bedlam Farm Open House in Upstate new York hosted by Author Jon Katz – that was the end. So much happened in between – and to think up until the minute I left home on my trek I thought I might not go. I do that. Its my opt out mechanism. The opt out comes from a long dance with an anxiety disorder. As an event approaches – an event like the Open House that I was looking so forward to  going to – I will become increasingly anxious and I will think of reasons not to go…or I will feel so bad physically I will cancel. But as much as those thoughts came into my head the more I willed myself to push them out. I was going to Bedlam.

I have had enough of my dance with anxiety and the fact that it has limited me. It still wins sometimes. There is still part of me trained by the beast but I am getting better at ignoring it. After I had cancer last year I realized that life is now. None of us have the promise of tomorrow and decided that I better get living. For me that sometimes comes harder than it needs to be – but it is my reality. Over the years I have learned a a lot about dealing with anxiety and much was from the man I hoped to meet on my journey to Bedlam Farm – Author Jon Katz.  Jon has dealt with his own fears and I learned from Jon that fear is a space to cross – a chasm to jump over. Get through it and there is love and accomplishment on the other side. I had to jump that chasm to get to meet the person who has inspired me so much over the last few years. I wanted to meet the people in the Facebook group he created (The Creative Group At Bedlam Farm)and I joined a few years ago. A group of incredible creative people that i am lucky to have come to know online- I wanted to meet them in person. (read the bloggers posts here).

I had cancelled the trip to the other Open Houses two times prior.  I was pretty tired for a while after radiation and I had nerve damage and then I got frozen shoulder and traveling in the car was a bear. It seemed like I might never feel good enough to trek to upstate New York to attend and Open House. Of course anxiety played a roll in canceling the trips and finally I realized maybe I wont ever feel 100%.  I realized that though my mindset was to get busy living i was still limiting myself waiting to feel a certain way.  I might be waiting for a long time and i might be missing out on a lot of life. So this past winter I decided to get on with it. I began doing more things and I realized the more I got out the better I felt. So I booked a Yurt at Grist Mill Campground and decided to head to Bedlam in June. And even know that demon anxiety tried to thwart my trip – I faced it -and off we went – my entire family on my journey to my Mecca.

The car trip on Friday was a little rough but entering Upstate New York and its beauty made it so worth it. We checked into our Yurt -which I will write more about later- and headed out for a bite to eat. I hardly slept that night and was thankful for the sounds of the stream that ran just behind the yurt.

I am not going to lie–heading down south from our campground to Bedlam Farm I felt the anxiety build as the GPS counted down the miles to our destination. Kevin pulled into a restaurant just up the road from the farm to get some bottled water. I sat in the car praying that the Holy Spirit would calm me down..and I alternated between the prayer and  rationalization that we could drive right on by. There was no pressure…I did not have to go. Kevin came out and joked that he tried to score me a little wine but they didn’t sell it to go. Actually I think he really wasn’t kidding. But I told him that I was going into this head on and I was going to enjoy myself. I knew that the big fear cloud in front of me was thin and I could just step right through it. And I did.

When I saw the farm for the first time it was like a dream but also there was so much comfort in it. I barely recall walking up the driveway to the house (except I told Kevin I knew the boy in the ATV was Tyler- a young man who has been a huge help to Jon and Maria- he has become quite the celebrity). I looked up the driveway hoping to recognize someone. I laughed to myself bc I had never met anyone (except Janell Tomas that morning at our campground- and I thought they hadn’t arrived yet)- so who was I really looking for? I know anyone from the Creative Group reading this will know who I might have been looking for- a beacon in the forest – a light that always shines…Lisa Dingle. (No it wasn’t Jon Katz bc I would be too nervous to just run up to him and hug him- which I wanted to do!) Lisa is an Admin for the creative groups Facebook world but she is also everyones friend.  She is an incredible writer and a warm person..How did I know this having never met her? Her writing exudes it..her encouragement to others in our group shines of caring and love. And lo and behold there she was there to greet me! A big hug and introductions the first 30 minutes are a blur. I got that hug with Jon and was touched by his attention on a busy day with many people coming and going. Ok I was a little starstruck– it might be Brad Pitt for you but for me it was Jon Katz.

I was engulfed in love from all the farmies (members of the Creative Group)that were there. So many hugs and smiles. I knew right away that I was meant to come – it was something that had been waiting for me – this visit. The first 30 minutes were surreal- I was in a dream bc I was on Bedlam Farm- the farm I had seen in pictures thousands of times. I am not sure why – maybe it was the fact I had seen the photos of the farm so often- but I felt so at home in the space. But more oddly I felt like I had known many of these people already -and perhaps I did- you can create connections online.

I listened to poetry, visited with the animals, watched herding – all incredible. But I wanted to meet the matriarch (I had to use that word lol) of Bedlam..Maria Wulf , Jon’s wife. Maria has been an inspiration to me. I have seen her grow creatively over the years and I have always admired her quiet strength.  Kevin didn’t get to chat with Maria as I did and wondered if she was shy. I told him I didn’t find her shy at all…she was easy to talk with. She may not have realized that I was a bit starstruck with her too – and when I get nervous I talk a lot (sorry Maria if I blabbed). Most people don’t realize I have anxiety bc I compensate by talking! Meeting Maria was sure a highlight for me.

I wanted to take in the weekend and I really tried to focus on absorbing it all. I tried to talk less-hard for me- and listen and observe more. I didn’t take a ton of pictures the first day. I left that up to my daughter Kamilla. I just tried to soak it all in. It was overwhelming for the first hour – meeting so many new people. I wanted to embed their faces and names in my brain – but don’t test me.

I was enamored with the animals and Red is amazing! I can see that Fate is going to be some dog- I look forward to watching her grow. The great things about the end of Saturdays Open House is that there is another one on Sunday. So it really isn’t over.  On Saturday we decided to follow others to the Bog (nickname for Foggy Notions Restaurant in Cambridge Mass.). How unlike me to just meet strangers out for a bite…but not strange bc these people weren’t strangers. I had met them all before just not in the flesh. It was familiar and comfortable and good. I sat near the Deborah’s (Glessner and Rahalski) I chatted with Doug Anderson. During the meal, I never felt weird or tongue tied (maybe that was the wine spritzers). My husband was right there and as always he was chatting away and enjoying himself. His support is really what helps me face my fears. He is truly the partner I was meant to have on this life’s journey.

On Saturday night the rain began. So no campfire and I was worried what that might do for the open house the next day. In the morning we all headed down to the Roundhouse Cafe and enjoyed a meal and fellowship with other farmies and Jon and Maria and some other folks from Blue Star Equiculture a draft horse rescue in Mass. The food was great and it was really cool to spend time in a place that Jon has shared on his blog for many years. The town of Cambridge, NY is very nice and I can see why one would be drawn to this community. I hope to explore the town more when we head back in October for the next Open House.

After we packed our car we headed back to Cambridge to see if the Open House was going to happen and sure enough it was. I was glad bc I was not ready for it to end. The rain held off and it was a great day. There were fewer people and that was nice as we could spend a bit more time chatting with Jon. I was able to buy some more wonderful things from Maria’s shop. I love Maria’s fiber arts and had to have another potholder.  I was taken by the batik work of Carol Law Conklin.  Rachel Barlow’s cartoons on magnets were a hit as was her Hoga necklaces (i bought two)I loved all of the artists showcased – there was so much talent there.

For me the weekend was about many things. Overcoming fear…living in the moment and connecting with people. Meeting all of the farmies was just wonderful and I want them to know that I so appreciate the way they welcomed me. I want to thank each of you by name but if I left anyone out I would feel bad…you know who you are and I send you a cyber hug of thanks and love. I look forward to meeting more farmies on my future trips to the Open Houses. I am not sure I can really ever put into words what the weekend meant to me. I know those that have made the journey for the fist time know the feeling.

Jon and Maria thank you for opening your home for this event. Jon I probably will never be able to really tell you how you have inspired me and made me think about things. Your open writing has helped me (and many others a lot). See I don’t have the proper words so I will just leave it there.

I will see you all in October – I will probably have to fight the anxiety demon some but he won’t win….

On Sunday as I walked down the drive way of Bedlam Farm to my car I began to cry….

These weren’t tears of sadness – they were tears of gratitude. It was the end….but it was also the beginning of something new and special. Making friends is not easy for me…but I feel like I made some new friendships and connections and I think this is just the beginning of more joys to come…

Thanks for reading…