rob roberts and brianna randall - camping with a baby

The Secret to Getting the Best Compliment Ever

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Outdoor Adventures, Traveling

Traveling without internet is a recipe for one happy family. 

Yesterday, a friend hugged me and said, “You look well-rested, Bri.”

I almost jumped with glee. “That’s the best compliment I’ve gotten in years!”

Because you know what well-rested means? Sanity. It means I don’t look like a cat dragged through the gutter after waking up every few hours to soothe a crying baby. And it means I don’t feel like a hummingbird dipping ever-so-briefly from one person, job, chore, event directly to the next.

The view from the top of the Eureka sand dunes.
The view from the top of the Eureka sand dunes in Death Valley.

The secret to my success at resting? Vacation. Actually, several of them. We were lucky enough to close out 2015 with a suite of trips, hitting the adventure trail with a vengeance during the holiday season. All told, we spent more than 3 of the past 5 weeks in a cabin, cabana, or tent. Most of those trips did not include wifi, a laptop, or even cell service, and all of them fell during the darkest days of the year. We went to bed early and stayed there late, connecting to each other instead of screens.

The Thanksgiving week crew exploring the Wallowas in Oregon.
This crew spent Thanksgiving week exploring the Wallowas in Oregon.

First up, we drove to northern Oregon to meet friends for the week of Thanksgiving, hiking in the Wallowa Mountains, saying hi to the Columbia River, and playing sort-of-in-tune music. A few days after returning home, Talon and Cassidy and I flew to Puerto Vallarta to explore a couple of remote villages in the southern stretch of Banderas Bay while Rob went on a fishing trip in the Everglades with old friends. And a week after that, we flew to Las Vegas, rented a car, and spent a week camping in Death Valley National Park with Mark and Katie.

Checking out the waves in Boca de Tomatlan, perfect for babies and mamas.
Checking out the waves in Boca de Tomatlan, perfect for babies and mamas.

As most parents know, traveling with a kiddo–especially an energetic, irrational toddler–isn’t exactly restful in and of itself. Just the opposite, in fact. We schlepped suitcases and sleeping bags, backpacks and carseats through jungles, deserts, oceans, and mountains. We endured way-below-freezing temperatures in a drafty tent, muddy river crossings after tropical rains washed out bridges, and shitty winter driving conditions over several mountain passes.

And was our personal sherpa when crossing the river in Yelapa, too!
And was our personal sherpa when crossing the river in Yelapa, too!

We consoled Talon when he woke up (often) in the middle of the night, uncomfortable because 10 people were crammed into a noisy cabin, mosquitoes were biting his head in Mexico, or an icy wind was howling across the desert.

Dirt abounds, especially when camping in the desert for a week -- the boys didnt mind.
Dirt abounds, especially when camping in the desert for a week — the boys did not mind.

But in the end, the challenges of navigating new places brought us closer as a family. It was well worth the work to watch Talon’s eyes light up at the sight of the sea, to hear his squeals of delight at the birds flying overhead, and to see his pride in climbing a sand dune all alone.

Throwing sand down the 700-foot-tall Eureka Dunes in Death Valley National Park.
Throwing sand down the 700-foot-tall Eureka Dunes in Death Valley National Park.

Moving beyond our daily Missoula routine gave me the space to breathe more deeply, and to focus inward long enough to rest easily while awake and asleep. I finally feel like my head and my heart are back in the same groove. Now, the trick is keeping them humming along in unified tempo back in the world of internet and errands. I’ll know I succeed if more people give me that ultimate compliment: that I look well-rested.

How’s that for a New Year’s Resolution? Happy 2016, friends!

Talon went on a rock climbing expedition to find the only waterfall in Death Valley.
Talon went on a rock climbing expedition to find the only waterfall in Death Valley.
A rare bloom of the desert sunflower above the lowest point in the U.S. ... 220 feet BELOW sea level!
A rare bloom of the desert sunflower above the lowest point in the U.S. … 220 feet BELOW sea level!
Aunt Cassidy carried Talon all over the beaches in Mexico.
Aunt Cassidy carried Talon all over the beaches in Mexico.
We spent plenty of time in PJs the past few weeks.
We spent plenty of time in PJs the past few weeks.

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Talon Randall Roberts in a hammock in MexicoBeach in Yelapa

IMG_2922 - Copy t and rob. waterfallrob roberts and brianna randall - camping with a babyt in crackIMG_2972-Copy1-e1451866868715-1024x852P1020601

 

on the horizon line travel and sailling blog - gringo in baja california - feet

My Body is a Shellfish

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Outdoor Adventures, Reflections on Life

on the horizon line travel and sailling blog - gringo in baja california - feet

My whole body feels a like the inside of a shellfish. My skin is like an oyster, tender and supple, elastic and thin. My feet are as soft and smooshy as a snail, while my hands are as delicate and smooth as a scallop.

My shell has been pulled off, exposing me to a harsh new world. After being sheltered by walls and roofs for so many years, the buffer of buildings is suddenly gone. I have no office or house to protect me from the elements. My soft shellfish body is laid bare to sun, and uncovered for wind and sand to scour.

Rather than being swallowed whole like an oyster, I will metamorphose. My tender skin is toasting slowly in the desert sun, stretching tighter over my bones and ligaments. My soft feet, abraded daily by sand and stickers, are growing their own impenetrable barrier to protect my roots. My delicate hands are getting stronger, forming calluses that allow me to lift, carry, sift and pull.

This transformation is not a painless process. But the discomfort is a fair price to pay to make my body my new shelter.

on the horizon line travel and sailling blog - gringo in baja california

katie and brianna on the beach in baja california - on the horizon line travel blog - gringo shades

Shades of Gringo

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Community and Culture, Traveling

katie and brianna on the beach in baja california - on the horizon line travel blog - gringo shades

The most noticeable thing about Baja (besides, of course, the stark beauty of the desert, the vast blue seas on either side of the mountains, the friendly people, awesome tacos and colorful culture) is the different shades of gringo.

On the light end of the gringo spectrum, you’ve got your rosy-cheeked young families on vacation, your fresh-off-the-plane northern retirees, and your honeymooners hiding under wide-brimmed hats. The darker varieties include the snowbirds who live here half the year, the college spring-breakers dedicated to tanning (and beer), and the ex-pats and mountain-cum-surfer vagabonds who are now Mexicans at heart. The shades of gringo hair vary inversely to the color of the skin: bleached and sun-streaked locks differentiate the long-timers from the Mexican newbies, with their darker and well-tamed hairdos.

Along with the amount of time spent in the country, the shade of the gringo can also indicate that particular foreigner’s willingness to meld with the culture, sink into Mexico’s rhythms, and embrace a new way of life. Or maybe the darker shade simply indicates the gringo’s willingness to shun the traditional 9-to-5-plus-2-weeks-vacation lifestyle favored by their lighter counterparts to the north.

katie and brianna on the beach in baja california - on the horizon line travel blog - gringo shades

Rob and me?  I like to think we’re at the darker end of the gringo spectrum. We tend to embrace new customs quickly. We happily quit our 9-to-5 lifestyle. We are officially vagabonds. Unfortunately, our literal skin shade doesn’t match up … yet. It’s straight up white. Pasty, creamy, pale, translucent. Ghostly. Almost see-through.

I keep forgetting how white we are until I look down at my feet next to Katie’s, or see Rob standing next to our friends, Aldo and Bequia. In my mind, we’ve already transitioned into beach people, and the type of gringos who mingle with locals while throwing out Mexican slang. But in reality, we are the same shade as the tourists who sit under cabanas in Cabo.

I’m trying to be patient while my true shade of gringo slowly emerges. Sure, I want the bleached hair and tan skin that clearly define my place in the gringo spectrum. But I also don’t want skin cancer, and won’t roast myself on the sand like a turkey on a spit. We have the luxury of time, so I know it won’t be long before our bodies reflect the true nature of our vagabond souls.

rob with pole spear and dog

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