Tag Archives: adventure

Windmills, Æbleskiver, and My Uncle Erick

23 Sep

A ride along the coast through windy roads and mountain tops, through heavy clouds and mist, I found the small town that sparked the sunshine and gave us smiles good enough to be sealed in by the Jar of Awesome.




With all the wineries and quaint feel good vibes of this small town, I had a flashback of Miles from the movie Sideways and his wine-tasting montage, without the comedic angry outbursts, of course. I was out and about on a quick getaway to find out what this Danish Days Festival was all about, and in the process I discovered the awesomeness of Æbleskiver.



Now I couldn’t even pronounce it. But they knew what I wanted when I got there and this was the place to get them. I was lucky to come before the lunch time rush and I only had to wait about ten minutes in line. But after I got my order, the people behind me weren’t so lucky. The line got pretty crazy and they were there at least 30 minutes.

Yeah. They were that good. Flaky, fluffy, sweet, tasty treats sprinkled with powered sugar and hitting the spot.

Now normally I wouldn’t drive about three hours anywhere for food I could probably buy in the melting pot of our culinary city, but this little town was a place my Uncle Erick liked to go to when family visited from out of town. He enjoyed the drive along the coast, the vibe of the place, the peace of a small town, the wineries, pastry and coffee shops on every corner. He enjoyed feeling like a tourist as he walked around admiring the architecture and enjoying the food. He smiled when he was there. It probably reminded him of his trip to Europe, and he liked the quick three-hour getaway down memory lane. I felt it would be a good excuse to go, Danish Days Festival, I mean come on … Viking stuff, Legos, woodcarving, music, dancing, kids jamboree, parades, and tiny wooden shoes.

This spoke of adventure. As soon as I told my kids Legos and food with powered sugar was involved they were on board.



And so we toured the place and felt the vibe. I could see what my Uncle Erick enjoyed about it, but most of all I remembered my Uncle Erick and his willingness for three-hour road trips just to get the family together, just to try something new. I remembered my uncle as I watched the woodcarver make art from blocks of Redwood, I remembered my Uncle Erick as we watched the parade, I remembered my Uncle Erick as I saw the windmills and the city sign, I remembered my Uncle Erick as I sat to eat the Æbleskiver,  I remembered my Uncle Erick, the dreamer who always wanted something better and never stopped looking for it, the one who loved his daughter above all else, the one I looked up to as a kid, and the one my kids never met because he died before they were born, but I know he would loved to hang out with them.

I remembered my Uncle Erick and told stories about him all day.

Buen Camino my friends.





Finding Our Own Adventure on Day One and Two

2 Jan

Signs from the universe are usually incognito for me, and I have to be a secret agent in order to discover a clue or what’s in store.

But not today.

When I saw this … I knew I had found my theme for 2016.


Yup…Big Magic happening this year.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m still on the quest for The Juice, finding pockets of it, keeping it, defending it, relishing in it, and maintaining it. This just added another level.

Whether I’m in the Great Outdoors, reading a book, watching a movie, writing my stories, parenting the crap out of parenthood, or hanging out with friends, I’m gonna find Big Magic, My Juice, Adventure in the year of Guat Flawsomeness, with stubbornness, humor, and gratitude. It’s gonna happen.

Now being that New Year’s Eve was the mark of endings and new beginnings I set out on a quest for all these things, not even knowing I had begun the journey. And even if New Year’s wasn’t filled millions of people, rock stars, and Times Square it was filled with an electric vibe and  adventure energy. I set a date with the most important people in my life … my kids. And we rang in the New Year with love, great food, and memories.

But it didn’t just stop there, it continued onto Day Two. And that surprised the hell out of me. Usually good vibes only last 24 hours before someone tries to take my juice away, but it was all good.

The Juice and The Adventure Seeking stayed in tact.

I was on a Buen Camino … Here’s hoping you are too.



We started off with an amazing light show, with disco balls and music under the moonlight.



Electric snowflakes in the Southern California sky.



We watched magic storytellers illuminate the sky.



This one was my favorite … made me feel like I had The Juice, and the adventures were unlimited.



Feeling some love and strength in 2016.



Loving the Easy Rider vibe.



This looked like a guy who had found his adventures and loved them. I want me some patches like that.



Star Wars was everywhere. This one was out of this world … and my son’s favorite..



This one reminded me of my beloved Pinta … definitely missing my puppy.



Brought out the history buff in me.



Los Angeles sports fans definitely enjoyed this spectacular float. Swoosh!



Then we headed home, like this Fearless Flyer, ready for another adventure.





The Guat Makes It To 40 … Smiling

27 Jul

I knew I’d be scared. I knew I’d be nervous.

But it was going to happen anyway.


It had to, there was no turning back. My life had taken a step forward and I had to follow, whether I was ready to or not. Just had to be done. So I thought I’d do something scarier than turning 40 on my 40th birthday. Something to start off this decade in a way that would change my perspective on life moving forward.

You see I wasn’t having a big party, and I wasn’t taking a great vacation somewhere. I wasn’t doing any of the awesome things that people do when they turn 40. I wasn’t able to, but I told myself I still needed to do something, something just for me, something to make me forget that I had a really tough month. Something that was bigger than 40, but something I’d always remember doing when I turned 40. Something I’d be grateful for and something that would change me. Something off The Bucket List.

And so … I went skydiving.

I didn’t tell too many people my plans, wasn’t sure if things were going to pan out, considering the personal drama I was undergoing that week and the fact that I had a vacancy in the best friend department that left me having many conversations with myself in an attempt to make sense of it all. And even though the week, or the month, didn’t go as I imagined it to be, this day did.

This day turned out exactly the way it was supposed to … and that made me smile, that made my heart feel good, the kind of good you get when someone who loves you gives you a strong hug, and holds you a little bit longer. That’s the kind of feeling I got. I had a moment that lasted the whole day. I had a Super Soul Sunday moment myself and it happened at 10,000 feet.

Perspective, passion, happiness, gratitude, inner peace, strength, vitality, amazement, and reaching Zen happens all at once.

It doesn’t hit you when you’re approaching the Pacific Coast Skydiving hanger, or when they’re strapping on the harness and belts. It doesn’t hit you when you get into the plane, or when you’re flying over the California coast and can see the Pacific Ocean. No. It happens after you face the scariest part.

The door opens and he says scoot over.


I felt my heart drop.

There I was, my legs dangling over the edge and an inch of my butt barely touching the door frame of the plane.


There I am the most scared I’d ever been in a long time and there’s Tom, skydiving master extraordinaire … smiling.

Holy crap.

This is it. I mean I know it’s it. That’s why I flew up here. For the “it” moment. My heart started beating faster, and the nervousness was building into anxiety and fear.

This is it.

This is really it.

“Ready? I’m gonna say one, two, three,” Tom said smiling.

One … I closed my eyes.

Two … I took a deep breath.

Thr–You know, I don’t remember him saying three, I just remember opening my eyes as he pushed us forward and out of the plane.


I hate taking selfies and usually want no part in them, but having Tom take one at this point in the adventure was an awesome exception.

I screamed.

I laughed.

And then I screamed and laughed some more.

I couldn’t believe I was actually doing it.

The feeling made me forget about everything crappy that happened during the week. It made me forget about cold feet before 40, made me forget about losing a friend, made me forget about my writer’s block, made me forget gray hairs and anti-aging creams, made me forget the stress in my life and the wrongs that were in it.

It made me present in the moment, the most present I’d probably ever been.

I don’t know how long I was free-falling, I just remember how it made me feel and how glad I was for feeling it.

Then the parachute deployed, the straps tightened, and I eased my way down to the field below, but not before Tom, my skydiving partner who was keeping me alive, did some stuntman swirlee-twirlee tricks reminding me why I don’t get on the Scrambler Zero Gravity carnival rides. I laughed and screamed through that and then we landed safely.

I high-fived Tom and smiled.


I made it. I had done it and it was an awesome way to start the morning of my 40th Birthday.

40 felt good then.



Just-Do-It Character Even With Saucony Shoes

29 Jun

Even though the miles were the same and the landscape didn’t change, running through it, biking through it, and swimming through it made me different every time.

I don’t do it to lose weight, to work on my non-existent six-pack, or to post pictures with you-should-be-doing-this type of headlines in order shame or guilt moms with kids who are barely trying to survive ’till 7 p.m. I do it because it makes me feel good. It’s become part of my lifestyle, part of the routine that makes me feel like me, like that 2.0 version of yourself that’s always been there, the kind that comes out in a Just Do It commercial, the one that you produced.

Although I wish I didn’t have to recover with Alleve and BenGay the next day. But that’s what happens. You can’t fool your bones. They know you’re 39. They know it and they’re passing the message along to your muscles.

But regardless of how much menthol-smelling cream I need for my aches and pains the awesomeness I feel when I cross the finish line at the TinMan Triathlon keeps me going for at least a week or two. Even though I didn’t finish first, second, third, or even in the top 10, I still felt like a champion.

The hills were tough, but I kept going. Biking Devil’s Canyon was brutal, but I kept climbing. It kicked my ass, most definitely but I kept pedaling. And the swimming … well the swimming was so much better this time. Can’t say anything about the swimming, I felt like Michael Phelps. But no matter how challenging the other parts of the race were I kept going. I got the Just Do It vibe in me, even though I was sporting my Saucony running shoes.

And the thing I realized is that I passed that on to my son.

I was super proud of that fact. Proud of the fact that my son kept going after the lady handing out water during the running leg tripped him. Proud of the fact that after he fell hard, really hard on gravely road, he still got up. He scraped up his knee and the elbow was in need of some Neosporin and Band-Aids, but he didn’t give up. He needed a minute, but then he kept going, on to the biking phase, the swimming leg, and finally sprinting, not jogging or walking, but pumping his little arms and sprinting the last 20 yards to the finish line.

And I was there to watch him do it.

He raised his hands up in victory as they gave him his TinMan medal.

I was proud of his athletic accomplishment, but even prouder of his character, because he had Just Do It Character. Gatorade-commercial worthy character.

Yeah, this year the miles and scenery were the same, just like last year, and the year before that. But when we finished the race, we both had something different. I’m holding onto that for a while. I’m hoping he does too.




Bring Some Zest To Your Mondays…Or Anyday

4 May




The Stay-Cationers

1 Sep

I don’t know how it happened. But it’s been three years in a row.




It’s been six years in a row.

That burns me out.

I didn’t plan on becoming one, it just happened and it has nothing to do with parenthood. It’s just what happened.

I knew it was on the calendar, been on the calendar for years. It’s been set in stone since the late 1800s. I looked it up. It’s historic, people look forward to these things for months. Months!  Counting down the days until this particular weekend happens.

It’s the weekend where you get extra time, but not just an hour, you get a whole 24 hours to do whatever you want. There’s no one expecting you to clock in. You get three … three days to yourself … to celebrate, relax, unwind in some place that’s not your home. Anywhere but home. It’s your opportunity to sit in traffic or deal with airport personnel on your way to some great destination.

It’s the three-day weekend.

It’s Labor Day Weekend.

In some parts of the world they even call it a holiday. Not vacation, holiday.

A time to live labor-free and celebrate.

And here I was … working my ass off as a parent and letting the weekend pass me by without a boarding pass, or filling up the tank.


It happened to me.

I was one of them.

I’d come to the realization that I’d become one. Didn’t expect to, thought I’d have a timeshare or something, but no … nothing. Not even a huge backyard where I could set up tents and pretend to go camping. No pretending.

I’d become one.

I’d become a Stay-Cationer.

I didn’t mean for it to happen, but looks like once you hit the five years in a row mark, it’s official. You get a card. You’re in the club. You’re in the try to make a vacation for yourself in your own city club. Try to escape your hustle and bustle without boarding a plane or train group.

Normally things of this nature don’t burn me out, but for some reason it did this year.

And it’s probably because it wasn’t a conscious choice. I didn’t say “Hey, Guat why don’t you just stay in this weekend and explore the city.”

No. In fact, I don’t think I said that to myself at all the last five years, I think that’s what dawned on me.

So after a I’m-burned-out-I-can’t-believe-this-whoa-as-me session I came to grips with reality.

I an accidental tourist in my own city.


That was me.

But considering my location, I guess it wasn’t that bad. I was at a place where Coppertone 45 and flip-flops were an essential part of life. There was Framboise.  There was chocolate. There was laughter. And then there was more chocolate. And the fact that my kids weren’t having any meltdowns along the way gave this in-town retreat a five-star rating.

I’d have to admit that it was pretty good after all, even if I’d become a three-day weekend Stay-Cationer, it wasn’t too bad of a place to get stuck in.

Exhibit A

The Beach.

A good starting point for your stay-cation is a visit to the Pacific Ocean.

A good starting point for your stay-cation is a visit to the Pacific Ocean.


Exhibit B


Actually having fun at the beach before we hit some boogie board action, followed by a swim in the pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Actually having fun at the beach before we hit some boogie board action, followed by a swim in the pool overlooking the Pacific Ocean.


Exhibit C

Good Food.

After all that fun in the sun we hit the food truck nation, over 30 trucks lined the streets of our neighborhood this weekend where there were so many tasty dishes tempting us.

After all that fun in the sun we hit the food truck nation, over 30 trucks lined the streets of our neighborhood this weekend where there were so many tasty dishes tempting us.


Exhibit D

The Best Truck Ever = The Best Smile Ever.

We found the truck that we'd been searching for ... The Grilled Cheese Truck. We had the Cheesy Mac and Ribs Grilled Cheese. I can't even begin to tell you how awesome ... dude ... I can't even.

We found the truck that we’d been searching for … The Grilled Cheese Truck. We had the Cheesy Mac and Ribs Grilled Cheese. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome … dude … I can’t even.


Exhibit E.

There’s no picture for Exhibit E … it’s just my soft Bed, Bath & Beyond pillow that will assist me in a long restful sleep after my supreme you-do-with-what-you’ve-got-because-what-you’ve-got-is-enough stay-cation.

Shine on.




Where It All Began

11 Oct

Why not … it all started with these two little words. Why not?

Flipping through the channels I saw it … flying high, legs hanging out in the wind, and parachute catching air. The Travel Channel. I saw it, briefly. It was on one of those top beaches shows. They managed to catch somebody parasailing in the background. And it took me back … Labor Day Weekend circa 1993.

On a spur of the moment decision my Dad hijacked Labor Day and decided that the Guat Family should head north to Santa Barbara. I don’t remember why my sister didn’t share this blessed two-hour traffic jammed hostile back-seat driver journey up north, but for some reason she was absent.

In any case we made it without pushing anyone out of the car while it was moving. Once we got there the relaxed laid-back atmosphere sort of washed over us and we forgot about the dysfunctional relationships linking us together. Our stay-cation had begun.

We strolled through town checking out the botanical gardens, churches, and cool artists’ festival they had that weekend. Before this I had no idea how awesome chalk on sidewalk could be, but it was pretty amazing to see all the colorful portraits and landscapes.

And then we headed to the beach … and that’s where we saw it. I had never seen anything like it. I had seen jet skiing , water skiing, and surfing. But I had never seen parasailing. We didn’t have the Travel Channel back then and if we did I wasn’t aware of it.

In any case I was in awe by the whole experience. When my dad asked me what I was looking at I pointed at the person flying high above the water and the boat pulling him away.

And then that’s when it started … my premature bucket list. I had no idea it was a bucket list at the time. It was more of the I-Wish-I-Could-Do-That-One-Day List. The list that remained unwritten, mostly a bunch of adventures and thoughts in my head, but this …this was the first one to be crossed off and I didn’t even know it at the time.

Film poster for The Bucket List - Copyright 20...

 Photo credit: Wikipedia


“That looks cool. I think I’d like to do that one day.”

“Are you crazy?” My Dad asked.

“Yes. Yes I am.”

“Then I think we should do it,” my Dad said.


“Why not?”

And then there it was … the why not. This is where it all began.

Now it surprised me that he said “we.” Reason 1) He did not know how to swim, neither did I at the time.  Reason 2) He was scared of heights, not deathly scared but pretty much freaking him out kind of scared.

But that didn’t stop him. He was an adventurer that day and so was I. My mom even came along for the ride, just to witness our crazy adventure, see our expressions and join in on the laughter.

For this adventure my Dad went first. He was eager to check this off the list. I think if he would have waited he might not have gone through with it. So when they asked, who’s first, he jumped up and strapped on that harness. When he was high up in the sky, he seemed to be enjoying the view. However when he was being pulled down into the boat he appeared to have a little anxiety and nervousness going on. It might have been the Pacific Ocean hanging out beneath him. But he smiled and laughed his way through it.


I did the whole woo-hoo! on the way up and on the way down. And even though this happened almost twenty years ago I can still remember saying ‘holy crap!’ when I was way up high.

Blue skies and white sandy beaches. We had plenty of those down in Southern California but from this perspective everything looked different.

After that stay-cation I had a lot more ideas rumbling around in my head … in my I-Wish-I-Could-Do-That-One-Day thoughts.




Weekly Photo Challenge: Down

21 Feb

Are you down?


I dare you.


I dare you!

I’m down. Are you down?

Well, I’m down, if you’re down.

I’m down, if she’s down.

If she’s down, he’s down.

I’m down. We’re down! Let’s go. Let’s get in line. We’re down.



My Warrior Update #3

6 Feb

Feeling The Warrior take shape within my Guatemalan body, regardless of the chaos, it envelopes me … inch by inch.

I’m on about four hours sleep a night because the baby is teething and my son has the flu. I feel like the Un-Bionic Woman when I wake up.  I can find every excuse not to train, not to run, not to build muscle. There are plenty, including my son’s old Chicco Travel System Stroller that the baby currently uses. It’s not a racing, high-tech Ironman running stroller with an extra absorbent suspension system that provides a smooth lightweight ride. It’s clunky, you feel every pebble, and the front-right wheel desperately needs WD-40 every time I hit the track. But it holds babies up to 30 pounds, not that my kid is 30 pounds yet. But it works fine for walking the dog, not so much for running and keeping the baby asleep at the same time.

Every excuse crosses my mind, but then I think of the obstacles awaiting me on this 3.1 mile extravaganza, and I just grab the WD-40, my New Balance,  and hit the track. Conditioning and upper-body strength is a big part of this race, however they do throw a curve ball at you with a few obstacles that you can’t really prepare for, unless you watch the  Fear Factor or something.

Slithering Swamp. This little encounter says I am to “venture into unknown murky waters.” That’s it. I not a big fan of gloomy or obscure water. I think of the movie Stand By Me every time and I don’t want to end up like Gordie. Leeches suck, literally and figuratively. I think this will be the sprinting portion of the race for me. Flo Jo here I come.

Deadweight Drifter appears to be similar to Slithering Swamp, however they’ve decided to have me “trudge through waist-deep water and over logs.” Over logs being the key words here. This will be a challenge. I don’t think I can do this on land, let alone water. So I’ve taken to practice this hurdle and adding ankle weights, perhaps that will help my quads bust out of the water like an Navy SEAL.

Whatever the results, all I want to do is not eat it more than once in these murky waters. I don’t care about dirt under my fingernails, I was an athlete, a jock…but the George McFly in me just isn’t a fan of murky.

Giddy Up!

This Gray Hair Belongs to Tim McGraw

20 Jan

From what I can tell, I’ve got 19 gray hairs. I’m sure I’ve got more in the back of my fro hiding away some where, making store clerks call me ma’am. Some of these grays were contributed by mom, dad, and sister. An acre of it claimed by the husband, for sure. Some by my son, others by the baby. And you know childbirth sprouted a few. No doubt. No doubt!

And I’m not a vain person, but these silver badges trolling through the locks of my hair look like spooky tree branches from a Twilight Movie. Not cool man. Not cool.

But then I see the one. I use Dove, Pantene Pro-V crap, fruit mist ionizer, and organic balm. This hair is fortified.

It’s the one that made it’s debut during my Bucket-List adventure. And I love it. I wish the rest of my grays came out that way, because at least I’d enjoy them. Now I just look at them and they age me. But this one…this one is a badge of adventure. Makes me smile every time I see it in the mirror, trying to blend in with the rest of my curly locks, knowing full well that it won’t.

But it wasn’t my idea. This gray hair belongs to Tim McGraw and his “I-went-skydiving-I-went-Rocky-Mountain-climbing-I-went-2.7-seconds-on-a-bull-named-Blue-Man-Chu” song.

Because of this song I decided ‘hey you need to go bungy jumping. Get an adventure.’  And so I signed up. What better place to do that than Down Under, right? I mean bungy jumping at the state fair…well…eh it’s o.k., but bungy jumping in Cairns, Australia. Damn! What up! G’Day Mate! Guatemala in the house!

Bungy jumping in general is not funny. Not at all, but dude. Talking yourself into it as you’re climbing a thousand steps on your way to be strung up by a rubber band. Dude. Classic! I thought the faster I do the paper work the less likely I’ll back out. In retrospect, you don’t want to rush through safety procedures. But after signing away my life, I walked the wooden bridge and passed all the slow pokes hearing the screamers jumping off. I thought … yeah…you’re going to scream your ass off.

As I climb up the steps… I tell myself  keep going…faster…you’ll be the first one at the top and just get it over with. Just get there and jump off. I work those steps like the Stairmaster at the gym. Let me tell you. Not smooth or fluid. Wood. You know how I feel about wood. It’s not soft when you fall on it. I reach the top, out of breath with no one behind me. They’re still chugging along the third staircase. But when I get there, three other people are waiting to be harnessed, and one just jumped off the ledge backwards. Duuuuuuuude. I was glad I skipped breakfast. As I waited for my turn I listened to each of them with their nerves and then the screams. This scene did not help my bravery. Pinche Tim McGraw.

I was a little shaky as the AJ Hackett Bungee dude slipped me into the harness and smiled.

“Gonna put this extra tight, don’t want you slip out, now.”

Not funny dude. Mate. Whatever. Not.

I grabbed hold of the before-you-jump-off-dumbass rope and held tight. Fibers crunching between my fingers. Shit. No turning back. My mom would freak. My dad would laugh.

Countdown, mate. 5-4-3-2-1!

Anxiety. Heart palpatations. Gray hair emerges. Adrenaline.  Jump. Profanity. Scream. Laughter. More screaming. Splash.

Gotta love that gray hair.