Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Ringing in New Years

With my first moose sighting, an incredible sponsorship from Klim and my Mom flying in from Florida, my 20s were certainly going out with a great big brilliant BANG!!!

Grateful to be in a car for a change.
We picked my Mom up from the airport in Idaho Falls as snow flurries fell. This is a woman who moved from Vermont to Florida to escape the cold, so her willingness to visit me in chilly Idaho Falls spoke heaps to her dedication as my mother and my best friend. 

We couldn't resist sharing the beauty of Yellowstone with my Mom, so we headed off the next day to catch Old Faithful erupting and hoped to see some more wildlife. Upon arriving at Old Faithful, we were slightly disappointed to hear that this geyser had just erupted and so we would have to wait for over an hour for the next "show." With days that are growing shorter and shorter, this was not good. But over the loudspeaker, moments later, one of the park rangers announced that the Castle Geyser was erupting, which is a far rarer occurrence than an Old Faithful eruption (it may only happen 1x/day) so we ran over to check out this stunning display of boiling water, steam and rainbows. 
Castle Geyser
Castle Geyser's steamy double rainbow

Never too old/big... :)
Shortly thereafter, Old Faithful erupted, amazing as always, and then we were on our way to the mid-Eastern part of the Park that Roel and I hadn't been able to visit during our first time around Yellowstone. 

Old Faithful

On the way to Canyon, we spotted some bison and while Roel and I were busy hanging out the window snapping shots of them, my Mom spotted a little coyote crossing the road. Deeming us harmless, she even stopped next to the car to take a wee!
We saw more cars pulled off the road shortly up ahead, and my Mom got to see her first wolves - laying down in the prairie grass, apparently sleepy from giving chase to a Grizzly a few hours earlier!

Yellowstone Canyon

We spent the rest of that afternoon and most of the following day in Yellowstone, enjoying new sights and bringing my Mom to see some of our favorites from our previous visit. 

Anita and Rajiv had invited us to join them for a Diwali celebration in Pocatello that is put on by the University there, so we headed back to their home and prepared for the evening. Anita dressed my Mom and I in salwar kameez, a beautiful ensemble I grew used to wearing in college, as Anita's daughter, my best friend, Rujuta, would do the same for me when I attended Indian celebrations with her, but it was quite new for my Mom. As you can see, she looked lovely. Thank you, Anita!
Roel, me, Mama O'Neil, Mama Bhatt and Papa Rajiv
Rajiv, did the same for Roel, so we were all set to celebrate the Gujarati New Year and the triumph of Light over darkness. The event that was put on by the university in Pocatello offered an excellent array of Indian food, including Mango Lassis, (Roel may or may not have finished a bowl by himself), entertainment in the form of dancing, singing, flute playing AND a fashion show at the end, where I was honored to escort one of the timid young models onto the stage.
Getting some help blowing out the candles... Happy Diwali!
Afterwards, we joined Rajiv and Anita's friends at their home in Pocatello, where we enjoyed some delicious Indian sweets and I was surprised with an equally yummy cake. 

The next day, my 30th birthday, we took it easy and just spent quality time together, which for me, is the best way a birthday can be spent... relaxing with loved ones, reflecting on the past and looking forward to the future. Roel had decorated my door with a "Happy Birthday" banner and had a surprise waiting for me in the garage: 30 roses in my top box! 
When one lives out of her top box, I can't imagine a more appropriate place to display such a beautiful bouquet ;)

Happy Birthday to meeeeee!
That evening, we went out to dinner (something Roel and I hardly ever do on our own) and brought along a couple of bottles of wine that weren't quite birth-year bottles, but were nicely aged, nonetheless. A 2005 Two Hands Branson Coach House Shiraz and a 2006 Rymill Shiraz. Both bottles that I brought back from Australia and which my Mom had kindly (and carefully!) packed in her luggage from Florida. 

Some of you may be curious to know what a girl traveling on her motorbike would get for her birthday (besides roses in her top box)... It's not like my parents/friends could get me some statement piece of furniture for my first home, or some tickets for a vacation somewhere. But what I received was far more fulfilling and bespoke of thoughtfulness and Love. And that is Support. It came in many forms... things as simple as shout-outs on Facebook from friends who I haven't been able to adequately keep up with due to this hectic traveling lifestyle, but who still remember me and send me Love and well-wishes on my birthday. Anita, Rajiv, and their friends sharing such a special holiday with us, and making us feel so welcome. The awesome riding suit my Dad got for me as an early birthday present back in August when we left Vermont - would he prefer that I be settled somewhere "safe," or at the very least, be traveling via car rather than motorcycle? sure - but that doesn't mean he won't support how I am choosing to live my life, and so thanks to him, I have been protected and comfortable. And my Mom, who probably feels the same, has learned to make the most of my wanderlust... Joining me whenever and wherever she can... In this case, flying to Idaho Falls, Idaho to help me celebrate AND she brought me an incredibly apropos gift... A Compass Rose necklace... It is an image that we are all familiar with as it has appeared illustrated on maps since the 1300s, but the compass rose is meant to remind us that "we are not merely travelers, but are the navigators of our destiny." 

I turned 30... I AM 30... I embrace 30...grateful for all of the blessings in my life, for the opportunities I have enjoyed and will enjoy, and for the people and relationships that make me so unbelievably rich. 

Happy Diwali to you all!

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