Thursday, December 20, 2012

our christmas letter

every year my family always wrote a christmas letter and sent it out. when I moved out and got a husband I continued the tradition.


our christmas picture.

Happy Halloween! Wait…its Christmas time already? I guess time really does fly by when you’re having fun. Aron would add in the air quotes… “fun,” if we’re talking my kind of fun.

This year has been filled with fun and “fun!”

We all started off the year happy and healthy (no knee surgeries like in years past…knock on wood). We became even healthier when I became a certified personal trainer in February. By March we were running half marathons! It seems to be a family tradition now that we visit Moab every year (at least once, this year it was 3 times) to run 13.1 miles. It’s just not as fun to run that far in Wyoming apparently. We all survived, and we’re all headed back in 2013 to do the same thing over! I started working as a personal trainer and am still employed with the gym today. I have slowly built my client base and it keeps me busy when I’m not working one of my other million jobs (right now I only have 1 other one; and no its not Maurices. It’s the shoe store in town. I have been very good and haven’t bought one of every shoe, yet. It’s the holidays, I’ve got gifts to buy, but after the first of the year I can’t promise there won’t be a few new pairs of shoes in my closet).

This summer brought on more adventure and “fun” than I think Aron was ready for. I was once again employed at the Forest Service, but this summer I was in charge of building a database that included road/stream crossings on the forest. Most of my time was spent in the office, but occasionally I did get to go play in the field. I was also fire girl on some days. Even got to IA (initial attack) a fire in early September. We rolled to the fire Wednesday around 3ish and I came home Thursday night. Before I could even get all the way in the door Aron says, “woah you’re dirty!” Well…what did you think I was doing when I told you I was going to a fire? Painting my nails and getting my hair done?!

In July we bought a house! Our very own place. Now we don’t have to worry about clearing it with our landlords about having another pet…not that we ever did in the first place, but we’ll keep that hush hush. It’s a very cute little 3 bedroom, 1.5 bath. Nice big yard for the dogs and a very quiet neighborhood. When we let the pups in the yard for the first time after the house was officially ours I felt like I could literally see their smiles! I had tears come to my eyes I was so happy they were happy. So now, even more reason to visit. We have plenty of room to sleep!

I finally convinced Aron to let me take him on a “fun” backpacking trip. We took a 3 day/2 night trip to Bomber Mountain in the Cloud Peak Wilderness. It was a 6 mile hike into base camp the first day. I may have forgot to mention to Aron how much “fun” it was going to be to hike uphill roughly 5.5 of those 6 miles. We made base camp with plenty of time to spare though. Mother Nature had it out for us and we weren’t able to summit Bomber and make it to see the bomber that is crashed on it (google Bomber Mountain and you can see the story. It’s really cool). We already have plans in the works for a trip in 2013, but this time 5 days and summit Bomber and Cloud Peak (highest peak in the Bighorns).

We have our rookie backpacking trip under our belts that didn’t end in divorce. Remember our honeymoon trip kayaking the Napali Coast? This was a walk in the park compared to that.

We were back in Moab in October and earlier this month again for more races, a half marathon and a 10k, respectively. Once again we all survived! I’m telling you…try running in Moab, it will be the most fun (or maybe “fun”) had by all. One of these trips we’re going to take longer than 3 days and spend some time backpacking around the National Parks. Aron has agreed to this “fun.”

Aron is still working his tail off in the Sheridan County Detention Center. This past summer he was back at the academy getting certified to become a FTO (Field Training Officer). He gets to train the new officers that are hired in the jail. He enjoys being able to teach and is really good at what he does. He tried his hand at bow hunting this fall and had his chance to shoot a nice bull elk, but was frozen in the moment. He did end up filling the freezer with a couple of deer (one with his bow even), so don’t worry about us starving this winter. Even if he hadn’t got any big game I think we would be okay with the amount of birds he brings home every couple days. He takes the dogs and off he goes. Occasionally I go with them. If Aron misses a bird, I don’t have to say anything; Jaggar usually does a pretty good job with “the look.” If he could talk he would say, “seriously dad? That bird was right in front of you. How do you miss that?” Jaggar and Twogwotee both work hard for Aron no matter the outcome.

Speaking of animals, we were given another horse. His name is Easy. He’s a big ole paint gelding. Super sweet boy. Very easy to ride. I’ve laid my claim to him, but Aron thinks he can use him for his roping horse…he usually asks my permission though. We also added a little feline friend for Remi. His name is Mopup (some days we call him Demon Kitty). He’s a little Siamese kitty with a black face, black ears and black paws…looks like he’s been mopping up a fire for days. Snuggling little bugger. Mopup and the pups get along great. Remi doesn’t care for Mopup one bit, so the whole “friend for Remi” idea totally back fired.

We can’t wait to see what 2013 brings (if we make it past December 21st …pesky Mayans)!

We hope this letter finds you healthy this holiday season. Wishing you the best for 2013!

Aron and Ashley
(and the rest of our little zoo of a family!)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

the other half

hubby, dad and I all went into the beginning of this year with one goal in mind. obtain the triple crown award in moab, ut.

we started out by racing the canyonlands half marathon in march.

the next race on the list was the other half in october.

summer got busy. my training plan fell apart.

hubby and I went into this race with little to no training, but I was just totally going to have fun with it.



dad ran too. this was race 2 of 3 that need to be completed for the triple crown award.

after a little discussion…our faces changed from smiles to “what the hell are we thinking?”


temps were a little cool at the start.


as long as you found a fire pit and could stay close enough to it you were good.

hubby and I made sure to wear our recovery socks. with us…the idea “the more obnoxious, the better.”


before we knew it, it was time to toe the line.


I felt like I was dressed perfectly…for the race AFTER the first five miles. the first five miles were in all canyon, in shadows at 830 in the morning. it was a little chilly. my hands became numb at one point and I remember wishing I had worn gloves.

I thought at this point everything was going to be ok. aron and I were planning on shooting for a 9 minute/mile pace…still trying to get aron a half in sub 2 hours.

the race was on sunday…on friday night I had this weird stomach ache (I get them every other month or so…haven’t figured out the deal yet). basically I can maybe compare it to what contractions feel like (although I’ve never experienced them!). the pain builds and builds and builds and then releases for a few minutes and then it happens again. I usually take some zantac and within 30 minutes the pain is gone enough I can at least sleep. I woke up saturday morning still not feeling 100% and felt a little twinge in my stomach. I drank some sprite saturday night and took some more medicine to try to get it better by morning. sunday morning I was able to eat my normal pre-race breakfast with no issues and I was feeling good at the start.


we had gorgeous weather and gorgeous views.

aron took off on me about mile 3. and mile 4ish is where I lost my entire breakfast…literally. at that point I knew I just wanted to finish.

I took a gel shortly after…breakfast resurfacing…just to get something in my stomach and it didn’t stay down long. I saw the ambulance at mile 6 and gave great consideration to just get a ride to the finish, but I felt so many people up above screaming at me to finish the race on my own two feet.

I was able to keep water down at mile 6 and 8. tried a little more of a gel at mile 8 and was able to keep it down.


I decided to enjoy the views I was surrounded by. do what I could to finish the race and stay strong.

when I hit the top of the last hill I knew I was home free and was going to finish the race.


there was no amazing PR to be had. but finishing was enough for me…with everything that was against me.



they had a beer garden. I was really not wanting a beer, but I wanted the glass.


we tried a sip, but knew there was no way we were going to finish them.


hard earned medals. and race 2 of 3 complete!

winter sun 10K here we come!

Friday, December 7, 2012

always sending the girl to save the forest

fire season had been fairly quiet throughout the year…at least in our part of the world. the boys would get sent out all over the country but for the most part sheridan was all quiet…until september. then things got a little crazy.

my normal job for the forest service during the summer is working for the aquatics shop doing all sorts of fun fish and stream work. I am qualified to fight fires if things ever get crazy and the fire crew needs an extra body. I had been asked a couple of times throughout the summer if I could commit to two weeks, but with my commitment to the gym I wasn’t able to.

we had a fire on the south end of the forest that had been in some nasty country and it wasn’t safe to get people into it so they just let it burn.

all of the seasonals had left for the year. they typically leave at the end of august to go back to school and there are only 2-3 people left to cover specific parts of the forest. the fire management officer was down to the bare minimums when it came to people fire qualified. most of the permanent people that were fire qualified had responded to a fire in the county to help a few days earlier. he came to me on a wednesday morning and asked if I was available to roll to a fire if they needed someone. they only had one fire guy left out of the sheridan office to cover the north end of the forest. “sure” I remember saying. thinking to myself…”there hasn’t been lightening for more than week and none in the forecast. there is no chance that we’re going to get a fire.”

I went home at lunch to grab my fire gear just in case.

I was working in my little cubicle and before I knew it I heard people talking in the hall about a smoke report up by one of the lodges on the north end of the forest. I went to find the fire boy I would be going with and he had heard about as much as I had.

that same day…the fire that was being monitored to burn on the south end of the forest had taken off and was putting up a fair amount of smoke. so we thought maybe these people were looking at that fire since it seemed to be right in line. shortly after that we got a 2nd report of smoke up by twin buttes on the north end. I quickly changed into my fire gear and we hopped in the truck and rolled up the mountain. we actually had a real fire!

I wanted to have all my bases covered, so I quickly called my bosses at the gym and asked if they could possibly cover for my classes on thursday since I wasn’t certain that I would be back in time. they were super understanding and very supportive. and even managed to have a firefighter themed workout.

I’ve been on prescribed fires before, but never got to initial attack a fire. I have been on the other end of the radio in dispatch for IA fires, but never on the ground. I was excited.

we got on the fire and there were two other fire guys from the other side of the forest doing their best to catch this fire. we were anticipating working through the night to get this fire under control. as we got on scene we checked the perimeter and eventually found the origin…it was obvious it was an abandoned, illegal campfire. the forest was under pretty strict fire restrictions. the fire ended up making a run up the hill, torching trees and anything else in its path. we pulled off the fire at dark and went to the ranger station and pitched our tents…well I pitched my tent, the boys slept under the stars.

we woke up early the next morning, grabbed some breakfast and lunches for later in the day and headed back to the fire. we worked through the day on getting it lined and putting out the spots fires. I feel like I chased spot fires all day long.  I got home late friday night. I walked in the door and immediately hubby said, “woah, you’re dirty.” that I was. my face and hands were black. I smelled like sweat and smoke. I hadn’t showered or washed up since wednesday morning. it brought me back to exactly how it was when my dad would come home from fires. I remember him bringing in all his fire gear and it would fill the house with the smoky smell. I loved it. I took a shower thursday night, crawled into bed and slept pretty good. I woke up the next morning and could smell the smoke coming off all of my fire gear that was spread out in the kitchen. I rehabbed my bag and was ready for the next call.

I had to be in town friday morning for an appointment. but after that appointment I was right back to being a fire girl for the weekend.

we took some supplies up to the fire friday afternoon and then went back to town. we were available for initial attack. saturday morning we were back at the fire mopping up all the hot spots. we did a grid through the fire looking for spots. after that loop I was again dirty as could be.



we sat down for a bite to eat and kept checking the fire throughout the heat of the day to make sure it wasn’t going to flare up again.


we all spent the night on the mountain on saturday night. thankfully we were able to stay inside the ranger station because a storm had rolled through dumping a lot of rain and some serious lightening.

sunday and monday were met with patrolling the area for fires.

hunting season was upon us at this point and a lot of hunters were wanting to get fires going, but with the restrictions were not allowed so we were hoping for no more human starts through the holiday weekend.


sunday night as we were leaving we got a call about a fire on the mountain. we loaded up and headed up the hill but were cancelled before we made it very far so we were able to go home and sleep in our beds that night.

my holiday weekend rounded out with just patrolling. I was happy to be a fire girl for the weekend, but back to a fish girl on tuesday.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

black mountain 2012

every year since we have lived in sheridan I have made a yearly trip to black mountain lookout.


2010. 2011. 2012

my mom was able to finally make the trip. she had been dying to join me.


jaggar was much bigger this year and had no problems making the mile trek up and down.


we had pretty awesome weather. once we hit the top it was a little windy, but overall very nice day. once again we had the whole trail to ourselves.

very rarely have we had to share the trail.

it was late season and we were happy to see some snow in the wilderness. I was in love with the idea of winter right around the corner.


these pictures were so much easier with my mom there to take the pictures for me…

remember the last time I took pictures??


I can’t wait to make the trek in the years to come!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

day 2 bomber mountain 2012

a storm rolled through late that first night. the dogs would bark and growl every time it thundered. I started to get a little nervous when the light flashed and immediately after the thunder would shake the ground under us. I just had this vision of a boulder rolling down the hill and crushing us…we were camped right below a boulder field. it passed quickly though and we never got struck by lightening or crushed by a boulder. we slept pretty well the rest of the night. at first light I got out to check the skies. I wanted to get going fairly early to beat any threat of the afternoon thunderstorms that typically happen in late august.

when I crawled out of the tent I wasn’t excited to see the skies.


overcast. with a light mist. we both brought rain gear. it was a little chilly too. luckily we both had enough clothes to keep warm and dry. the clouds were moving fast across the sky. I was hoping it would break and the sun would come out and it would be fine. there were a couple of “sucker holes.” a sucker hole is where you can see clear blue sky and the sun beaming on the other side of the clouds and you’re a sucker and think its going to break…a sucker hole. Winking smile 


we bundled up and decided to try to make the push.

then it started raining harder. I told hubby I wanted to wait. see if it was going to blow over. so we climbed back in the tent at just the right time. it decided to hail. and not just a little. we had to keep pushing the tent out so it didn’t collapse on us there was so much hail.


but once the hail stopped the skies cleared and it was gorgeous. not a single freaking cloud in the sky. I was so excited! it was going to be a great day…(apparently it was just a giant sucker hole!)

so we pushed to summit. I thought there was no way it was going to go back to how it was. we were still in our rain gear since all the foliage was wet. we wanted to stay as dry as possible.


we knew there were lakes we had to pass. so at least something to keep our minds busy on the hike. the majority of this hike was much more relaxed.


the last picture is looking back at all the lakes, fortress and gunboat lakes.  we are almost to the base of bomber mountain. the weather still looks great in this picture.


bomber mountain. the second picture is basically were we had to hike up. we lost the sun at this point. the wind picked up. it began to rain on us.


we questioned what we should do. wait out the clouds and storm. push for the summit, or just go back to camp?

we hunkered under a giant rock. made some warm food and hot cocoa to warm up a bit….


the weather shortly decided our fate after this picture was taken.


the mountain became completely socked in and I just felt like we shouldn’t be heading to the top to try to find this bomber with wet boulders. it tried to snow on us, but mostly just rained. it was cold and windy. I was ready to get off the ridge as we dipped back into the valley heading for camp.


we got down into the valley and hubby wanted to try some fishing at the lakes. even though it was still windy he got his rod and reel out and started fishing. within the first few casts he had a fish on.


golden trout. another one I can cross off my “only seen in a jar” list. the picture doesn’t do it justice. these fish were so pretty. I wish the sun had been out to bounce off their colors.

hubby fished his way back to camp catching fish left and right. nothing worth keeping…not that we would have had anywhere to cook it. the forest was under fire restrictions at this time and plus we were above tree line and no fires are allowed.


the boys were so stinky cute fishing together.


the girls just found a rock to sit on and watch the boys fish.

we got back to camp and snuggled in to warm up just a little bit. naps were taken. the puppies were pooped. but they did so good this whole trip. I couldn’t have asked for better behavior from them.


around dinner time mother nature decided we had enough rain and wind and gave us gorgeous blue skies for the evening.


going to bed with those clear skies made for a little chilly night.


thankfully we had puppies that enjoy the snuggle and need it to stay warm (at least our little girl, Twogwotee).

we thought about trying to make a push for bomber on the morning of day 3. but we decided against it. that would have put us at at least 10 miles for the day.

the bomber will be there next year.

we loaded up on the morning of day 3. again woke up to gorgeous weather!


we had a little frost on the tent, but nothing major. loaded up all of our stuff and headed downhill for the 6 miles. hubby fished a couple of the lakes on our way out. we were so excited when we finally reached the car.

so. sorry to disappoint. we didn’t get to summit the bomber. but sometimes the safety of your own well being is more important.

we are already wanting to return next year…and maybe even summit cloud peak in the same trip.