Refreshed… ESR2

My trip to Wyoming was well timed: fall has started in some areas of the US but not where I live.

I’m about DONE with Texas heat. Four and a half years here has done me in. I am perfectly fine with the fact that so many people love and adore the warmth that this state has to offer because that leaves me with much more room in the colder locations to experience the peace and quiet that is found in the gorgeous mountains. Let the crowds stay behind in the center of the earth. Take me away to the thin, crisp air, high in the mountains of, well… anywhere!

This particular location was intended to be remote. One of Taya Kyle’s goals with the Empowered Spouses Retreats was to get the wives of military members and first responders away from home, disconnected from electronic responsibilities (temptations?), and to teach them how to shoot a bow and arrow and a shotgun.

You read that right.

And I have the bruises to prove it. But more on that in the post titled “Empowered.”  This one is titled, “Refreshed” because that is one of the three words I can use to describe how I felt returning home. What refreshed me? Well, let me tell you…

First, the scenery.  I adored the view from every spot I stepped my foot. I simply couldn’t find a spot that didn’t take my breath away (and no, that wasn’t because of the altitude 7012 ft.).

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Second, the time alone.

We were encouraged to spend any time alone that we needed. On the first full day there I decided to take a walk with my “real camera” as opposed to just taking my phone. I took both lenses, something that has become more of a rarity these days. I took the wrong path at one point but got some gorgeous shots that were worth the detour.

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While on my solo walk I saw a herd of horses. I’m not generally afraid of horses and have enjoyed riding them every time I’ve had the chance. But I’ve never been around them alone, without the horses’ master. Without someone to save me if they stampeded. Without the person who could tell me which ones to stay away from. And these horses saw me coming and started right for me. Lazily, thankfully. No stampeding. I said over and over, “I’m brave. Don’t let them smell fear.” One nuzzled my bear spray and I had to snatch it before he walked off with it. (Never have I ever said, “nuzzled my bear spray.”) They were very close, almost close enough to step on my feet but luckily they managed to avoid that. We walked side-by-side for what felt like a mile (but was probably more like 500 feet)  and I managed to escape the herd by the blessed cattle guard at the edge of the property. I may have taken a nanana-booboo picture as I walked away.

When I took this shot I was thinking, “Awe! Horses.”

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When I took this one I was thinking, “Huh. Some are looking at me and some are walking my way. At least they’re not stampeding.”

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When I took this one I was thinking, “Some look like they’re not really all that interested in me and they look calm enough, that’s good, right?”

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When I took this one I was saying, “Breathe slowly. Keep moving forward. They don’t bite unless they smell blood.”

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This one had me thinking, “Oh CRAP. If a horse eats a can of bear spray the owner will probably make me pay for him.” And from that point on I carried the spray in my hand, which fortunately, had gloves on it so they couldn’t nick my skin as I was holding the can.

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When I took this one I thought, “I’ll take one over my shoulder in case I’m lost forever – then people can get my camera and see what my final moments entailed.”

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And when I took this one I had begun to regulate my breathing since they had stepped back (probably when they realized I had no food, wasn’t food, and was not about to let them have the bear spray).

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More came from every angle to check out the stranger in their territory._JEN2631

Some weren’t even horses!

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I was surrounded 360*.

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As I began approaching the cattle guard they started to give up the chase._JEN2661

And as promised, the nanana-booboo picture.

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Walking on from there I did some serious self-talk telling myself that I was brave! I knew Joanna from back home would be LAUGHING her head off at me were she sitting on the fence post watching the entire thing go down. In fact, Joanna’s image was the only thing that kept me going forward! I would not have considered this experience “therapeutic” by any stretch of the imagination, but I did walk through it by myself, and I came out on the other side unscathed and quite proud of my accomplishment. (And, with the bear spray intact, thank you very much.)

Once my heart rate resumed a semi-normal rate (which was slightly elevated all week thanks to the altitude) I began to, once again, notice the extreme beauty all around me.

The third way this retreat left me refreshed is in that I got to do something for me. Photography is something that I enjoy, and I wasn’t rushed in a stolen moment alone. I got to take my time and experience this beauty on my own pace, and it was for me.

Crossing the bridge…

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You can see the bridge just on the other side of the huge puddle, and my newfound friends, the horses and mules, in the field.

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I stopped to change lenses, something that honestly has been too much work for me lately. I haven’t wanted to mess with it. The joy of photography has waned a bit and I wanted to have fun doing something for me again.

The fourth of many reasons I felt refreshed as a result of this trip was the temperature. Fall was there. In the coolness of the air and the warmth of the colors.

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In this image you can see  the cabins dotted around the property and the lodge, the red building the spouses stayed in. The smoke was from the fireplace in the dining room and I knew several of my new spouse-friends were sitting by that fire, enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book. _JEN2686

When I got a bit closer to the lodge I took another shot of it.

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I kid you not, there was a moose there outside of our lodge several times throughout the week. A pair of moose interrupted one of Corie’s sessions and we herded noisily to to the window to get pictures. #moosePopUp became the slogan for the week and fit in perfectly with what Corie was talking on. (Later in the week a mouse ran up the chimney and we declared that it was a #mousePopUp which gave us little more than a brief pause. Ultimately do we let things interrupt our lives BIG TIME (like the moose did, though we were thrilled by that interruption) or do we let them roll on by (like with the mouse)?  There were many different takes on this and we explored several of them over the time spent in the mountains.)

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Like my clever picture?  Clever but not original. Another of the women there took a similar picture and posted it on Facebook. (That’s a Moose Crossing sign.) This was a picture I took of the moose while out on my walk.  The pictures from the lodge dining room were quite blurry. Fortunately, the moose stuck around much of the week and we saw him and a female several times. _JEN2701_JEN2706

The gorgeous scenery, being alone, doing something for me, and the crispness of the air refreshed me to the core. It requires vulnerability from me to write this, but I had actually worried that Texas had taken away my thick skin: that once I was back in a cold climate I’d be miserable and unable to handle it. I can honestly say that this is not the case. I was in heaven. In light of my question: “Who will I find under all of my titles” one part of my identity has remained. It may seem silly to you, but my love of the mountains, cold, snow, and all things fall has been with me my entire life. I was afraid I had lost some of that and this trip revealed to me that “I” am still “me.”

That is refreshing.

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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