Day 3: Becoming an Outdoors Woman 2013

Somehow, I stumbled into Sunday morning with no caffeine and no Aleve. I felt it, too. I was excited for my last class, but my back and knee were starting to give me some serious grief. I still made it to breakfast where Jami gifted me with a cool BOW pin to congratulate me on completing the walk. Once again…amazing people.

We only had the one class on the last day, which was probably good because everyone else seemed just as tired. My class was geocaching, with the same couple who taught my GPS class. We split into groups and walked around the camp finding geocaches that they’d hid, some difficult, some easy. I’d been excited for the class, and I had fun, but I held back to let the others find the caches, at least for the most part. I was the only one who did it regularly, and some of the others had never even tried it, so I wanted them to experience how fun it was.

At the end of the session, we got to find a real one that’s hidden out by Rock Springs. I was the first to find it in our group, but I didn’t let the others know. It’s fun when Jon and I compete, but the group dynamic there was a little different. Either way, I got to log it, and I did so within like five minutes of the find.

Lunch was served before the day ended, and I won a magazine subscription to the Kansas Wildlife publication in the silent auction.  I walked back to the cabin where I was one of the last ones to leave. I hadn’t done any packing that morning since I’d woken up late, so I was on my own for packing and hauling stuff to the car, but it wasn’t a big deal. I didn’t have that much, and after the craziness of the weekend, I was okay with a little downtime on my way out.  I filled out some thank you notes for the instructors and headed home.

I’m so happy I was clued into this program. The days leading up to it brought some anxiety, the same kind I experience every time I’m getting ready to do something new.  Maybe that makes it even more worth it, to push through that fear to do new things.  The actual classes weren’t all challenging (with the exception of fishing), but they were a learning experience and the instructors were great. The people were friendly and  welcoming, and everyone had a different story and personality.

I highly recommend that anyone with a BOW program in their area give it a try. Here in Kansas, there is a spring session and a fall session, with the spring session being much smaller. If I can, I’m going to go to it, and my plans are to make sure I get back for next year’s fall session.


Day 2: Becoming an Outdoors Woman 2013

I was awake at 5:30 on Saturday morning, but after getting dressed I laid back down for awhile. They brought coffee to the camp at 6:15, so I got down and dirty with some caffeine and Aleve to give myself a little extra pain protection.

My first class was GPS for beginners. Even though Jon and I geocache, we use our phones to find the coordinates. I was curious about the actual GPS handhelds and how they differed from what we used and from our auto GPS. We walked around and played with the devices for a bit. I really liked it and am hoping to get one soon. I’ll probably start out cheap and move up later. For now, I’m good with something basic.

Need to get me one of these bad boys...
Need to get me one of these bad boys…

After lunch, my afternoon class was nature journaling. The class talked a little about what it was and what we were hoping to get out of it. Most of the others wanted something physical to keep. I wanted to know how I could do a better job at conveying my outdoors experiences online.

To put the whole nature journaling thing into practice, we went to one of the picnic areas to observe and take notes for awhile. We had tools to draw or collect things, but I took pictures and wrote, and the note taking ended up being mostly a free writing experience. The exercise was really relaxing, almost meditative. Even if I don’t start doing it on a regular basis, I’ll definitely be posting a journal blog from that session.

This little stream was one of my favorite journaling spots. So relaxing...
This little stream was one of my favorite journaling spots. So relaxing…

I chilled at the dining hall lounge for a little bit, using the Wi-Fi to do some updates and visiting with another attendee of both the weekend event and the nature journaling class. I’d been going back and forth about doing the mini Race for the Cure that BOW was holding to support the Susan G. Komen foundation. I was going to support it with a donation, but I couldn’t decide if I was up for the walk yet. It was 1.25 miles, which isn’t a lot, but more than I’ve done all at once in several years.

I finally decided to do it, figuring I’d be late for dinner, probably, but really wanting to push myself. So I committed. Jami, the BOW coordinator, offered to walk with me. I warned her we might miss dinner but she came anyway. I’m glad she did. The company and motivation were great. I don’t know if I would have given up if she hasn’t been there. Maybe, but maybe not.

The walk was hard, mostly because of the hills I think. But each hill was a small accomplishment inside the big accomplishment of the walk itself.  In the last stretch, two sisters, older women who’d finished their walk, joined us to finish the lap. The support and friendliness was overwhelming and totally worth the hills.  We made it right as dinner was starting. As we got closer to the end, I warned the others I was going to collapse on a bench the minute we got back. But when we got there, I stayed upright. Here’s the thing…once the walk itself was over, my recovery was really quick. Yeah, I was fatigued and hot, but I don’t think it even took 30 seconds for my breathing and heart rate to go back to normal, and I was nowhere near as exhausted as I’d expected to be.

After dinner, I went to another mini session. This one was about photo editing in Picasa. I’ve had Picasa for awhile now, but haven’t done anything with it, so it was nice to see some of the nifty little things I could do.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to the campfire. By that time I was exhausted and a little unsure about walking that long stretch to the fire and then back to cabin in the dark. However, some of the volunteers gave me a ride to the fire, and Jami gave me a ride to the cabin later. I got to experience the campfire and even had a s’more.

The second night’s shower was much better thanks to the learning curve. I was in bed a little later than the night before, but I slept through the night and actually ended up sleeping in on Sunday morning.


Day 1: Becoming an Outdoors Woman 2013

What a weekend! I’m tired and a little bit sunburnt, but the BOW experience was definitely worth it.  Like I did with Gen Con, I’m going to break these down into day posts because it seems like a lot to put into one long blog post.

I got to Rock Springs a little before 10 on Friday morning, after dropping Jon off to work and grabbing a quick breakfast sandwich. I had a little trouble finding check in, but eventually found parking.

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Almost everyone else in my cabin was there, but thankfully I scored a bottom bunk. The ladies were so nice and welcoming. They helped me bring my stuff in and gave me some newbie pointers.

We had lunch (the food was great all weekend, and there was a lot of it), then the welcome meeting, then our first class. Mine was Intro to Fishing. We started out learning about the more popular fish native to Kansas. Then we learned about different poles and how to tie a hook, lead, and bobber. I caught on to making the knot fairly quickly, so now I kind of want to go fishing so I can show off.

Learning about fish!
Learning about fish!

Once we had our poles ready, we headed down to a small fishing hole and stream. The area was beautiful, but I was feeling tired and a little shaky. Standing on the edge was making me nervous. I still caught several fish, including the only large mouth bass of the day.

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The anglers in my family should also take note that I put a nightcrawler on the hook by myself and didn’t get too grossed out. And I unhooked my own fish. Next year, I might even take the advanced course or the course where I learn to filet and cook a fish.

The mini Walk for the Cure was originally scheduled for that night, but they switched it up since we were getting a visit from Theresa Vail, also known as Miss Kansas 2013. Instead, we did a Chuck-A-Duck (I didn’t win), and later I went and visited with Theresa for a little bit.  She was genuinely sweet, and in case anyone was unsure if her love of the outdoors was genuine or not, it is.

After dinner, I attended a mini session called Kansas Critters that was taught by the same instructor who taught my fishing class. The session went long, but it was really interesting, and I actually learned and retained several outdoor facts. I debated going to the campfire afterwards, but I ended up just heading back to the cabin instead. I was tired, and the walk back itself was even more exhausting. It was uphill, over several rocky, uneven steps. I made that trek many times over the weekend, and it never got easier.

Not gonna lie, that night I felt a little homesick. My shower experience might have had something to do with that. I’d been given a pair of shower shoes by my friend, but I hadn’t tried them on first, and they ended up hurting my feet. The showers themselves weren’t horrible, but they had the hard rubber mats inside the stalls, and those hurt my feet even more. Because I’ve never actually showered in a camp setting (at least that I can remember), I was ill prepared all around, and so by the time I got back to bed, I was hurting and exhausted, and even though I’d had a great day, I still missed Jon and my own bed.

However, I slept fairly well, and when I woke up the next morning, I was refreshed and feeling good and optimistic.

To be continued…