I’m allllliiiivvvvveeeee!

Oh, well hello there. You are still there aren’t you? I’m impressed. I haven’t been very good to you, have I? I’m sorry. I guess you are probably wondering where the heck I have wondered off to. Well the answer is Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

What?

Okay here it goes. Phew.

Well my graduate position lost its funding and about two weeks before classes were scheduled to start, I found out that I will not be attending Frostburg. Well, damn. Now what? Megan and I drove back to Maryland, stopping overnight in Wisconsin to visit my “big sister” Abby again and after 28 hours spent drive across the country in Rick, we made it home. I spent the next two days helping the family out at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair and got to watch my nephew show his pigs as his first year as a 4-Her, that was very exciting for me! He did a very good job too! 🙂

Isn’t he the cutest thing?

And then I packed a small bag, commandeered my dad’s Prius (aka Turd on Wheels), and drove 18 hours southwest to Missouri. Why? Because I am an awesome and loving girlfriend. My boyfriend, J, has been at Fort Leonard Wood for MP BOLC (yay Army acronyms, this one means military police basic officer leader course), which is a five month long training for officers, he has been here since early July and is graduating in 2 ½ weeks. The original plan was to come visit him for a few days and then head off to my new life as a graduate student. Well as life goes, plans change. I ended up absolutely loving Missouri. Yes, yes, I know it’s Missouri (pronounced misery), but have you ever been here? It’s beautiful! So many trees and rock faces, cliffs, caves… Yeah, you’re thinking I must just be sooooo tree deprived from North Dakota. Maybe that’s true. But whatever it is, I enjoy it here at lot. So I ended up deciding to stay here until J graduates in November.

That’s him. J and I at the MP ball 🙂

“Didn’t your last post say something about running Tough Mudder in Maryland?” Oh good, you’re keeping up! Yes, well I drove back to Maryland in September; I mean, my dad kinda did need his car back since I had stolen it from him. I was all stoked to run in Tough Mudder, my buddies from Pittsburgh came down to run with me, we cook an awesome high protein, pre-race dinner of Red Pepper Glazed Salmon over whole wheat pasta (recipe can be found here –http://allrecipes.com/recipe/red-pepper-salmon-pasta/ absolutely delicious I might add), and even managed to go to bed early. We were scheduled to run the Sunday race and had been keeping up-to-date the event’s Facebook page. They were having major issues with traffic from the Saturday event blocking up the entire city of Frederick, not to mention a very intense storm came through causing them to shut down the course for the afternoon. All seemed good to go for Sunday when we went to bed, that had even posted photos from the runners that ran on Saturday and that just pumped us up even more!! We had planned to try and beat traffic by waking up at 4am and heading out as soon as we wiped the sleep from our eyes. Guess what? Shit happens. Yep, we received text messages around 1:30am from Tough Mudder saying they completely cancelled the event for Sunday.

WTF. Grumble. Not postponed. Cancelled. Awesome. (See it’s over a month later and I am still getting mad about this). You have to understand “the toughest event on the planet,” a 10 mile insane obstacle course takes a lot of training and prep to get ready for it. I had been training for MONTHS. And the next event that I can run? NEXT YEAR…

Glass half full, glass half full… breath. Okay thinking positive, I now have a full year to train for the event. This means I can try to run in the top 5% and be eligible for The World’s Toughest Mudder. I am always up for a challenge. Why not?

Yeah, I realize I am composing a novel for one blog entry. Well you wanted to know what happened to me. And I am skipping over many details, so this is the brief of the past few months. If you’re still there reading then keep on going… I’m almost to today.

I spent the rest of my time in the east with some good friends in Pittsburgh. Alex, Jacobi, and I had a girls night out in downtown Pittsburgh and that ended up turning into a story of its own. (Trying to keep it brief..)  We ended up meeting and hanging out with Sydney Crosby, James Neal, and a few of the other Pittsburgh Penguins (hockey players for those of you who are sports illiterate). Yeah that was a fun night, and if requested I can go into detail and tell y’all about it, but if not then I won’t bore you with the details. Just know –IT WAS AWESOME!

Boom. Today. It is October 23, 2012. In case you did not know.

Holy cow – that was loud. So one of the things about living on an Army instillation is you get to hear lots of fun booms, for example somewhere on post they are currently exploding something. Its loud and it shakes the entire apartment complex. Crazy. But I love it. That and the bugle horns that play at 6:30am, noon, 5:00pm, and 9:00pm. It’s all pretty cool to experience. I have been occupying my time here in various ways while J is away at class. Margo (my new BFF here, a marine in J’s class’ wife) and I have picked up some new hobbies. We have learned how to make survival strap bracelets, crochet – I started a scarf… and it’s somewhere, half finished, and have indulged in the “house wife” activities of laundry, cooking, cleaning. Yeah if you know me you might have to go pick up your jaw from the ground now. I’ll wait.

You okay now? I know I know. It’s not my usual character, but I am still here, I go hiking and running when it’s nice out. I told you Missouri is beautiful, there is a cave on post that is absolutely STUNNING and I love hiking down to it. There’s this running trail called the engineer trail which is 2 ¾ miles of straight HELL. Yeah I can run 8miles straight no problem. Add in massive hills, points where you stop and perform various tasks such as pull-ups, sit-ups, parallel bars, etc, and it becomes enough to kick anyone’s ass thoroughly. Also they offer spouse classes (no, I am not married, but they still accept me anyways) such as FRG (Family Readiness Group) leadership courses, military etiquette classes, etc.  So I have been keeping busy. And when I am not doing all that, there’s always Pinterest. I saw that eye roll. Yes, I am addicted to it.

 

So what does that mean for this blog? I have no idea, honestly. Only time will tell. I could just change it into just a life blog and tell you about my days, if you are even interested in that. Or I could post fun recipes that I like to cook. Hmm.. there are a lot of those already. I don’t know. We’ll just wait and see what happens.

You excited? …. Maybe?

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

 

Counting down the days…

Yeah that’s right, eleven days left in Bismarck for me. It has gone by wayyyy to fast. I swear we were just pulling into the Walmart parking lot to rest for the night last week, not two months ago! I definitely could stay out here for a few more months, that’s for sure. I have fallen in love with this place. And the people are all still completely amazing.

Megan and I volunteered at the North Dakota State Fair last Thursday-Sunday to help out in the Game and Fish’s shooting booth. It was so much fun! First of all, growing up as a 4-Her I absolutely LOVE fair life and all that’s associated with it. I was like a kid in a candy shop walking through the livestock barns the moment we got there, and everyday afterwards. The fair took place in Minot, about two hours north of Bismarck. Meg and I were both assigned to teaching kids (and adults, but mainly kids) how to safely and properly hold, aim, and shoot little Crossman pellet long rifles. We had kids as young as 2 years old and all the way up to senior citizens in the shooting booth, some with tons of hunting and shooting experience and others who have never even seen a gun before in their lives. Like, I said it was a great time! And probably one of the best parts is we had to spend 7+ straight hours with the other Game and Fish people (including all the guys from Bismarck who never said more than “good morning” to us before), which forced conversation, which then lead to great new friendships. Unfortunately all this happened at the end of the summer. I wish we had had fair at the beginning so then we would have had all these great people to hang out with for the whole summer. But this week has been fun now that everyone is friends and I know our last week next week will be even better. I guess this just means I have to come back and visit again real soon. Darn, that really sucks (note the sarcasm).  One of the guys from another NDGF location who was helping in the shooting booth and I started talking about where we were both from. Turns out he grew up about 20 minutes away from where I grew up in a part of Maryland that I use to hang out in all the time. In fact, we shared many of the same friend groups and have probably hung out before. Talk about a small world, eh? Crazy. He is currently back in Maryland to visit and we plan on meeting up when I head back that way.

  

We’d also get a tad on the bored side, especially during the hottest part of the day… well that’s when we discovered that the Trapping booth had water guns! Oh yeah. It was on. Boredom doesn’t seem to have a place when there is an epic water gun war on the very edge of breaking out at any minute. Even the kids visiting the booth would get involved and were more than happy (hmm, maybe a little too excited actually) to soak their instructors. Or kids that would pass by and try to sneak a peak of the shooting area prior to taking the required firearm safety class that was mandatory before being allowed to enter the range area and pick up a pellet gun (yes, even the experienced hunters still had to sit through these classes). Needless to say – we had a great time.

Meg and I even went on the 250 foot, 100 mpg bungee ride. It was so cool! We did it at night so went it shot you up you felt like an astronaut heading towards the stars, and then as you peak at 250 feet you turn and get a beautiful view of the fair all lit up before plummeting to the ground before the bungee lines catch you. Amazing. From the rooftop of the shooting building we got to watch Blake Shelton put on one heck of a show! Seriously, if you ever get the opportunity to see him live, I highly recommend it. He is an extraordinary entertainer and is just so full of energy. Every night we got to enjoy fair life as we grilled out by the exhibits and watched as the fair emptied and eventually closed before we headed back to the hotel right across the street. Sigh. I miss being a 4-Her. This little tease of fair made me make sure I calculate at least a few nights in at our county fair back home before I hit the road to Missouri and then onto Pittsburgh and then finally Frostburg where I’ll be for the next few months. Plus it is my nephew, Christopher’s first official year as a 4-Her and I have to watch him show!!

As far as work has been going, we’ve been finishing up and have spent the majority of this week in the office recording and analyzing data. We are still getting in a TON of mail-out surveys from the waterfowl community and are always excited to see what new data they bring in. Dr. Serfass should be here within the next few hours to meet up with us and see how things have been going. I probably write again soon to give you the “official” update as to the ending of our summer season. Oh and Dr. Dan just sent me a note that they will be doing a moose necropsy tomorrow morning and I am hoping I will be able to jump in on that! I am still just in complete shock that it’s already the end of the season. I can say that over and over but I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. It probably won’t until after I am settled in my house at Frostburg and missing everyone back here.

Well I will get back on here soon to let y’all know how this weekend is going to play out!

Oh wait, one more thing. I am not sure if I have mentioned this yet or not but I have registered to run in Tough Mudder on September 9th in Frederick, Maryland. It’s a 12 mile INTENSE obstacle course that supports the Wounded Warrior Project. I am helping to raise money for the WWP until my run date. If you are interested in donating in this incredible organization you can donate at this link – https://register.toughmudder.com/fundraising/donate.aspx?event=9389&fundraiser=r5670129 (my personal goal is to raise at least $150). Thanks guys! Also go to www.toughmudder.com to learn more about how crazy I actually am.

Holy cow… this past weekend. I can pretty much sum it up in one word: awesome! And believe it or not we actually got a fair amount of surveys done while we were at Devil’s Lake. Sweet deal all around.

Friday evening we got to Devil’s Lake at Graham’s Island State Park and set up camp. We got lucky and got a perfect location right on the water and pretty far from the neighboring tent sites. As soon as the tent was set up and food unloaded we got Ryan’s boat out on the water headed out to a secret spot of his and got to fishing. Wow! I have never fished like that before. I could hardly even take a sip of my beer before I got a fish on the line. We were just catching walleye left and right with the occasional northern pike and I caught one white bass. Talk about fun! It is completely different than Maryland fishing, that’s for sure. I was doing such a good job catching fish that I even caught myself. Actually that was pretty scary. As I was trying to get the bass off the hook one of the treble hooks decided to hook into the front of my shorts – not a location where I would like to have a hook AT ALL. Ryan to the rescue! He helped me get unhooked so I could pose for the camera with my white bass.

  

We didn’t end up coming off the water until about 9:30-10 that night and Ryan taught Megan and I how to filet our fish, we did a pretty decent job if I say so myself. Cooked up some delicious jalapeño and cheddar brats over the fire then met up with some other Game and Fish guys who were also camping at the park and make a good night out of it to say the least. Woke up pretty early the next morning (I don’t know how this was accomplished), and hit the water again. The fishing was quite as fast and furious as it was the evening before, but it was still great! I caught a good sized, 21 inch walleye and Megan caught a 33 inch northern. We were both pretty dang proud of those catches.

   
Not too shabby.

Around lunchtime we headed back to shore to eat some mountain pies and so Ryan could take a nap while Meg and I actually got some work done. Have I mentioned how much I love the anglers here? I think the angler surveys even though are probably the dullest of our work, are actually becoming one of my favorites to conduct. Those fishermen just crack me up! I think the best beaver joke of the day was – Me: “have you ever seen a beaver?” Wisconsin fisherman: “shhhhhh, there’s kids around!” We had a good time just BSing with them and even jumped in to help clean some fish. I got to use an electric fileting knife for the first time. It’s easier than a regular one, but I feel like I have more control of the regular knife. After some good conversations and promises to share in some brewskis later at different camp sites, we hit the water once again. This time nothing. Same spot, same time of day as before but nothing. Well I guess not quite nothing, it was more like Maryland style fishing. I just got spoiled the night and morning before. But after a while it started picking up again. Still such a blast! I think I know what I am going to do with all my free time from now on. I am sure I will have to really twist Ryan’s arm to take two pretty girls out fishing on his boat. Ha! We cooked up our walleye over the open camp fire along with peppers and taters and some asparagus for dinner – dang I never eat this good! Went over to the other campsite but they were all KOed from the night before followed by being in the sun all day. So we met up with the Wisconsin boys from the fish cleaning station and had another good night. I’d say it was quite a successful weekend.

Well yesterday was Megan’s 21st birthday and boy did we do it big! We went to Tutti Frutti for ice cream for lunch, then HuHot which is a (delicious) Mongolian restaurant where she was surprised with a cake I made..


The cake is a strawberry lemon drop (with vanilla vodka) cake with a dark chocolate Baileys icing complete with dark chocolate covered strawberries. Yum.

We went to a country bar after dinner to listen to a live band and hit up the town. It was a fun time and she seemed to have a good birthday. Happy birthday, Megan!