Sunday, September 28, 2014

life list #29a: see a mountain goat in the wild

mount evans, colorado
Are you mocking me, Goat?

It's been a long time since I wrote a Life List post, but as I was scrolling through my list of all the things I wanted (or thought I wanted) to do with my life since 2006, I realized I've checked off quite a few items in the last year. (I also realized it's time to revisit that list - there is some hilarious stuff on there and it might be time for an update!)

Anyway, I've been on the quest to see a mountain goat or a bighorn sheep in the wild since Larry and I first visited Colorado together in 2005. We've been to numerous national parks together and time after time, these creatures have evaded me. FOR NINE YEARS. It's become almost comical.
mount evans, colorado
On my fourth trip to Colorado in July, I finally saw and photographed the elusive mountain goat on Mount Evans. With a summit at over 14,000 feet, Mount Evans is the highest paved road in North America, and my friend Sarah, who lives in Denver, assured me that every time she's been up Mount Evans she has seen mountain goats. Ah, but you haven't tried to see mountain goats with me, Sarah. Something *will* go wrong...
(Told you so!)
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
Looking for goats? Pondering the meaning of the universe? Appreciating the awesome beauty of the natural world? 
Nope, she was intrigued by that drainage culvert.

Our expedition to see the goats actually took two attempts over a span of two days. There were originally six of us who started out on this adventure, but due to flat tires and other mishaps, only three of us made it to the top. (The girls, obviously!)
mount evans, colorado
It was worth it. Mount Evans was beautiful. And I FINALLY saw a goat. Not just one goat, but LOTS of goats, including the jerk who stuck his tongue out at me. Also, BABY GOATS.
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
mount evans, colorado
My nine year quest to see a mountain goat is finally over. Life List #29: Finally see an elusive mountain goat or bighorn sheep in the wild. Take its picture. Check...

But I'm still searching for that blasted bighorn sheep!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

collections | summer souvenirs 2014

collections | summer souvenirs
Today is the first day of Fall. Summer 2014 is officially over. I'm so sad to see it go, but man, it was one for the books! We had so many amazing travel opportunities and took more trips this summer than we ever have. (We typically prefer to travel during the off-season to avoid crowds and save money, so we rarely travel during the summer months.) But this summer was jam-packed with repeatedly packing our suitcases, sitting on airplanes, and outdoor activities in multiple states. It flew by, but it was awesome.

A couple weeks ago, Veronika posted a picture of her souvenirs of summer and I knew I had to copy the idea since it fits in perfectly with my Collections series. You really should just go read her post because she perfectly sums up my own desire to hoard travel ephemera and various pieces of useless crap that I collect as I go. I've mostly trained myself to accept that photos are the best souvenirs (they're free and don't take up space), but I still end up with tens of thousands of digital pictures that I can't seem to sort through. And even though I've learned to limit myself when buying souvenirs (I usually only allow myself to spend money on postcards and Christmas ornaments), I return from every vacation with a pile of maps, receipts, lists, tickets, brochures, and boarding passes. Most of it is garbage, but I just can't seem to throw away my memories!

Anyway, I thought Veronika's idea to photograph her collection of souvenirs was genius and would allow me to document the stuff I collected and then get rid of the useless bits of paper that clutter up my house. So here is the story of my summer, as told by the crap I collected along the way...
collections | summer souvenirs
 1   Park Maps - Mount Evans, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Acadia
 2   Toiletries Kit provided by United Airlines after losing our luggage
 3   Map of Jackson, WY
 4   DC VegFest Program
 5   Bison Sketchbook purchased at the Jackson Airport
 6   Bike Maps
 7   Trail Map - Cascade Canyon, Grand Teton National Park
 8   Bear Warning Flyer - Grand Teton National Park (we carried bear spray on our WY hikes)
 9   Books - I discovered I can buy paperbacks at the library, 3 for $1
10  National Parks Annual Pass - The best $80 we spend each year
11  Balsam Pillow - Acadia National Park (Smells like my Nana's house!)
12  SD Cards with 25 GB of digital photos
13  Bottle Cap - Moxie soda from ME
14  Museum Tickets - Museum of Natural History butterfly pavilion and Lemurs 3D IMAX movie
15  Concert Tickets - John Eddie at The Stone Pony, NJ
16  Flip Flops - Purchased at Jackson, WY Kmart after airline lost our luggage
17  Boarding Passes - Flew on 8 flights, but booked on twice as many due to delays/cancellations
18  Belvoir Farms Lemonade Label - my favorite non-alcoholic summer beverage
19  Vegetables from Bull Run Mountain Farm CSA
20  List of things to look forward to in Fall
21  Reasons This Summer Was Awesome (Notepads available in my shop.)
22  Camelbak Water Bottle for my new bike
23  Business Card - Little Notch Bakery, Southwest Harbor, ME
24  Map Pins to track our summer travels on our travel map
25  Sailboat Christmas Ornament from Acadia National Park
26  Coaster - Bluejacket Brewery, DC
27  Moose Sticker from WY
28  Bike Taillight
29  Matches from Matchbox Chinatown, where we celebrated our 11th anniversary (and first date)
30  Cork from a bottle of Carnivor Cabernet Sauvignon, which we drank at our cabin in ME
31  Beach Badges from Belmar, NJ
32  Brochures - Clyfford Still Museum, Denver Art Museum, Chihuly at Denver Botanic Gardens
33  Headlamp for dark nights in campgrounds and cabins
34  Packing Lists
35  Homemade Salsa and Pesto - The freezer is full!
36  Parking Pass - Acadia National Park
37  Hike Sticker - I think this came with a pair of shoes
38  List of things to do in Denver, written on hotel stationery
39  Trail List - Grand Teton National Park
40  Vehicle Pass - Mount Evans, CO
41  Bobo's Oat Bar - our favorite trail snack
42  List - 2 pages of bike research. My bike was the best "souvenir", but it wouldn't fit in the photo.
43  Postcards for my travel journal

And maybe someday (is the year 2020 a reasonable goal?), I'll find the time to sort through my vacation photos from 2014 and blog about our amazing summer trips to Colorado, Wyoming, and Maine...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

postcard travel journals

postcard albums
Almost four years ago, I wrote a blog post about my lifelong postcard collection. A few weeks afterwards, I organized my postcards into albums, but true to disorganized Rachel form, I failed to post an update as to how I ended up organizing my collection. Today, my friend Sarah asked what kind of albums I use for my postcards since she wants to create an album for her four year old daughter, Anna, who has a growing collection of postcards. So I was spurred to action and I grabbed my camera and took some photos of my current albums.

What I wanted to share today was how I document our travels. While I have a compulsion to document the shit out of everything (much to Larry's annoyance), I am not at all interested in scrapbooking and post-sixth grade, I've never successfully kept a journal for more than a few days. My blog is definitely my most successful means of documenting my life. I am obsessed with photography and have a hard drive with probably a hundred thousand photos on it. I have the best intentions of creating albums for all the vacations that Larry and I have taken together, but making photo books is a somewhat gargantuan task. (Someday...)
postcard albums
I have, however, been writing postcards about all our travels since Larry and I took our first vacation together in St. Thomas in 2004. I've written a daily postcard for every vacation Larry and I have taken over the past ten years and now have amassed several volumes of travel journals - all written on the backs of postcards and stored in simple 4x6 albums.
postcard albums
I love this method - it's simple and doesn't take much time as your journal entry is limited to what you can fit on the back of a postcard. (I don't actually mail the postcards, so I can write two columns of text on each one.) It helps to write each night while our day's adventures are still fresh in my mind - and that way, I've still documented our vacation even if I don't get around to blogging about it until months later.
postcard albums
I have postcards from our adventures in national parks, road trips with friends, and our wedding in Hawaii. Here are the cards from our most recent trip to Wyoming a few weeks ago:
postcard albums
postcard albums
I created a simple title page for each book. The back of the title page is a map where I can write the dates we traveled to each location:
postcard albums
The goal here is to keep it simple or I'd never be able to keep up with this project. 4x6 postcards in 4x6 albums, done.
postcard albums
postcard albums
As for Sarah's question about the albums, I use 4x6 SEI Preservation Albums. I'm sure there are fancier albums out there (my choices were limited when I bought these four years ago), but I like these because unlike a lot of the mini albums that only hold 10-20 photos each, you can add extra plastic sleeves to these albums with SEI refills. (I have about 50 postcards per album.) These albums also allow the front and the back of the postcard to be visible and display only one postcard per page - both important criteria for making my album feel like a book and read like a page-a-day journal. They aren't fancy, but they do the trick and only cost a few bucks each at ShopSEI or

I used the same method for organizing the postcards I've been collecting since childhood, starting with the first postcard I got from my dad in 1983:
postcard album
Now I've got my postcard collection organized and a nice little stack of memories to flip though.

And I'll be sure to send little Anna some more postcards for her collection, just as friends and family did for me when I was little.