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I am feeling a little philosophical as I write this, so please bear with me.

If you had to put it into words, how would you describe who you are? Do you define yourself in terms of family and career? Is your lifestyle worthy of mention? Would you describe your most recent adventures? Would being a runner even enter into it?

For a social media profile, I had this description of myself:

general lover-of-life, including ultra-running, teaching, enjoying craft brews, being outdoors and living simply

I thought it seemed like a fairly accurate glimpse of where I put my energy these days. But, looking back on it, this little blurb concerns me.

There is no mention of the love of my life or my family. It mentions teaching, but in my current state of limbo that is hardly worth mentioning. And ultra-running is something I do, but does it define who I am? If I didn’t do it any more, would it change who I am?

I think that being a runner and a lover of ‘all things outdoors’ is an important part of being me, but it does not define me. There is more to me than my current pursuits. Living without adventure would truly be a hard pill to swallow but it is important to keep all things in perspective. Love, health and the ability to make choices is probably a better way to describe what is truly important to me.

I think my life would be better described as:

Endlessly pursuing the better life together.

Can you put your values into a sentence 10 words or less?

Endlessly pursuing the better life together

Endlessly pursuing the better life together

How long has it been since you had to hand in an assignment for a course?  A decade, perhaps?  Maybe more?  It has been just over 10 years for me.  I remember thinking, at the time, that I would never be a student again; that this was the end of higher education for me; that I had finally reached the pinnacle of my education.  I have 2 bachelor degrees and a diploma hanging on my wall. (Actually they are collecting dust in a box in the attic, but I digress).  What more could I ever need?  I am more specialized than necessary.  But now I see that I was wrong.  I was so young then, ten years ago, in my early my thirties.  How could I have known what lay ahead for me?

I know that my job as a Kindergarten teacher is wildly important and, on a daily basis, I can see the results of my efforts as students grow and become more independent.  I hear from amazed parents who can’t believe the learning that takes place in my classroom.  Yet, occasionally, I catch myself thinking that there has to be more to my career than this.  I have tried to imagine what else I could do, yet I find that I am too specialized to do anything else.  How could I transfer these skills?  Sometimes I put the nagging voices out of my mind and I simply enjoy the abundant life of endless possibilities that my job provides.  Why change anything when you have everything?

Yet I have settled onto the idea of passing on these skills to the young, new teachers who are coming up the ranks.  A faculty advisor with a department of education?  An instructor at the college or university level?  Yes, that is my path.  But in choosing this path, I determine that I will need to go back to school again.  Both SFU and UBC recommend that you have a master degree in education to take on this role.  So, here I am, having hit the ‘submit application’ button on the UBC website.  What have I done?

I checked out the race calendar for December and saw that we had a gap between Dec 5 and Jan 8 with no pre-planned running events.  So I decided to plan a brew tour for B and me that would take us through some of the finest micro-breweries in the PNW.

Besides being coffee snobs and running enthusiasts, B and I are also micro-brew connoisseurs.  Without a doubt, our preferred beverage is beer and we have a cold cellar (aka the crawl space) at home filled with deliciously malty and hoppy beer.  Not a Friday night goes by without sampling some brewery’s latest concoction.

With some careful pre-planning, I mapped out a skeleton plan for a week of indulgence.  Here is the brew tour review of beers:

craft brewery Mukilteo WashingtonDec 26 – Mukilteo, WADiamond Knot Brewing – Full marks for this tiny brewery at the ferry dock!  The highlight of this stop was a photo that B took in the men’s room.  They had converted an old empty Budweiser keg into the urinal!

  • B – HefeWeizen
  • M – Industrial IPA

Winthrop, WAOld Schoolhouse Brewery – We arrived in the sleepy town of Winthrop and walked over to the Old Schoolhouse, expecting it to be empty or perhaps closed on a Sunday night.  Instead, this place was hopping, full of outdoor enthusiasts of all sorts.  There were beers aplenty on tap so we ordered up a taster set.  After dinner, Winthrop Washington craft beerwe began a Yahtzee tournament which carried us well into the night.

  • B – Ruud Awakening IPA; Imperial IPA
  • M – Ruud Awakening IPA; Backcountry Stout, brewed with locally roasted coffee.

Dec 27 – Winthrop, WA – Old Schoolhouse Brewery – After an adventurous day on snowshoes (which I’ll recount in a different blog post), we found ourselves back at the Old Schoolhouse around 4:30 pm, desperately in need of lunch.  We grabbed a table and ordered up a huge meal, then made ourselves comfortable for a continuation of the Yahtzee tournament.  The brewmaster’s brother was the server on shift and we discovered that a new beer had been tapped that day.  The Imperial Stout was a higher alcohol, specialty beer which was jet-black and roasty, but had too much of that alcoholly taste for me.  I eventually admitted defeat in the Yahtzee tournament and decided that it was time to hit the hot tub back at the inn.

Dec 28 – Twisp, WATwisp River Pub – After another day of breaking trail in snowshoes, we sat down for a well-earned dinner at this nearby pub.  Again, we ordered the taster set as we were determined to expand our tastes from our known favourites.

  • Taster – Cherry Hefe, Christmas Ale, ESB, Sachwarz Bier and Winter Ale.
  • B – Christmas Ale
  • M – Sachwarz Bier (dark lager)

Dec 29 – Sunnyside, WASnipes Mountain Brewery – In the middle of eastern WA, there lies a town of car repair shops and one of the finest breweries in the Pacific NorthWest.  We started out with the taster set which disappointingly only let us sample the beers they brew for non-beer snobs like ourselves.  We got a growler of their IPA to go and will enjoy it once we get home again.craft beer Sunnyside Washington

  • B – 2 Fresh 2 IPA – a double IPA brewed with fresh hops); Zombie Killer (double IPA)
  • M – IPA; Zombie Killer IPA

If you ever happen to be in Yakima, head a bit further East to indulge in some great beer!

Dec 30 – Hood River, ORFull Sail Brewing – We stopped in here as a lunch stop, after debating whether to try this or Double Mtn Brewing. It may have been a mistake, in hindsight, as we had a chance to try some exciting craft beer Hood River OregonDbl Mtn beers later on.  We had the taster set, which again offered a set selection of their most popular beers but none really appealed to our extreme tastes.

  • B – nitro-cask Powder Face Pale Ale
  • M – Wreck the Halls IPA

Portland, OR – We arrived at Beer-Meca in the late afternoon and realized that our hotel was within walking distance of about 8 breweries and taprooms. I will warn you now that we visited as many as we could.

Bailey’s Taproom – A one-barman show with 21 taps to choose from!

Rogue Ales – It is incredible to have 25 house-brewed choices in front of you.  We spent a number of hours here over dinner.

  • B – Taster including Juniper Ale, Cafe Frog, Chatoe Rogue Creek Ale, ?
  • B – Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale; Chatoe Rogue Creek Ale
  • M – Taster including Mom’s Hefe, Chatoe Rogue Dirtoir, Candy Cap Ale, Brutal IPA
  • M – Santa’s Private Reserve; Mogul MadnessPortland Oregon craft beer

Deschutes Brewery – We tried to come here for dinner but the place was over-filled with beautiful people, so we left and returned for a night-cap.

  • B – Hop Henge IPA
  • M – Headwater’s HefeWeizen

Dec 31 – Portland, OR – Oh yes, the madness continues!craft beer Portland Oregon

Rock Bottom Brewery – This place was ramping up for a big New Year’s Eve party so we had a happy hour drink and got the heck out!

  • B – Blitzen  – a Belgian style ale
  • M – SunnyDay IPA

Henry’s Taproom – 101 beers on tap and many of them local creations.  We spent the entire New Year’s Eve here!taproom craft beer Portland Oregon

Jan 1 – Seattle, WA – We are almost home and we are almost tired of beer.

Elliot Bay Brewery – This is a favourite stop when we are in Seattle.  After dinner, we stayed on and had a shuffleboard tournament which lasted well into the night!  Needless to say, B won, but I played with more panache.Burien Seattle Washington craft beer

  • B – Diamond Knot cask-conditioned IPA; Demolition IPA; Barrel-Aged Merlot Stout
  • M – Highline IPA; No Doubt Stout

Jan 2 – Home – With one last lunch stop before we get home…

Boundary Bay Brewery – Well-worth the border-wait every time, this brewery is where I first discovered how beer should really taste!

  • B&M – IPA

Big Ridge Brewery – It was extremely difficult to wrap our brains around cooking dinner, Surrey BC craft beerso we headed out one more time to our local craft brewery for cheap pizza and beer night.

  • B&M – Clover Ale

Although we didn’t quite make it an official resolution, we did decide to lay off the beer for a while.

And so end the Brew Tour 2010.  It was a great week of over-indulgence and a celebration of craft brewing!

Today, I am staring blankly out at my front yard, still dressed in my warm jammies and robe.  I have a cold.  I am exhausted by simply going up stairs.  I stayed home from work.

It’s funny that when I am feeling well, I am able to consider things in the future:

What races should I do next summer?

Where will I run this weekend?

Should I do the regular loop in the park or should I look for that new trail?

Who is going to join me?  Do I need a day of solitude on the trails?

Let’s have pasta for dinner.

But when sickness comes, I can’t think past now.  

Who cares what’s for dinner?

Why would I even consider running?

I can’t even get up the strength to get another cup of tea.

Sickness reduces my thoughts to “Right now I feel …..”.  I remember having that feeling for a long time after getting whiplash in a car accident.  For months, I couldn’t get motivated to do anything.  I was completely content to sit and watch the world go by.  I went to work, but I was in survival-mode.  Even going to the grocery store required enormous effort. It is a terrible state to be in.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to have a serious illness or a health issue that had no end.  I truly appreciate being healthy and living well.

But today as I sit here, I know that I am almost better.  I’m looking out at the snow falling thickly and swirling around my maple tree and I catch myself thinking about the future.

Will I be able to get some fresh tracks in before the rain comes?

I must be on the mend.  Although I am sick, I am still healthy.

The Happy Wanderer

My Paths on Strava

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