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  • Writer's pictureKatja

Catching Up: WA->OR->NV->UT

“Where are you?!” Yes, I got that a lot this week. Sorry! Great question from those of you trying to track my whereabouts and getting more and more confused by my delay in updates and random Instagram posts. I’ll do my best to catch you up.


As of Wednesday evening, September 1st (when I’m writing this), I am in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have been here for a week, attending three days of practicals for the Master Trainer course I am currently enrolled in (here’s a piece on what makes a trainer a Master Trainer, for those who are dying with curiosity). It’s an eight-week program and three days in the middle of it require intensive classroom sessions where candidates put all their skills into practice and are evaluated on their facilitation skills. I am proud of my teaching abilities but I have to admit, this program is challenging me on all levels. I did “great” in my practical exam and scored the minimum amount required to pass—yikes! Now with four weeks left (remote/online work) and a final project (a video of my teaching/facilitating), I’m ecstatic to be nearing the end and also nervous at how much work there is left to do. If I succeed, I will know that I’ve worked my butt off and can proceed with more confidence towards the professional goal I’m working towards: Certified Professional in Talent Development (CPTD) (i.e. the ultimate credential of awesomeness in the training/facilitation field). Right now, though, it’s enough to have made it through the practicals and now be in the Master Trainer homestretch. Woohoo!

So, that is why I am in Salt Lake City and it is also why I’ve been off the radar for a hot minute. The class took every ounce of energy and then when it wrapped up, I attended the first live training conference in two years that is being held in conjunction with the practicals and several other certification courses. It’s been a surreal experience—attending a conference in a convention center far below capacity with everyone masked, staff entering rooms mid-session to stay on a rigorous sanitizing schedule, gift-bags of sani-wipes, hand sanitizer, and disposable masks… even meeting new people is strange because no one shakes hands and we all try to find each other on sites like LinkedIn rather than exchanging business cards. It’s been quite the experience!


Now, to backtrack and share where I have been since my last entry about the Deschutes and here. My apologies for the long delay!


August 15-20


After playing on the Deschutes, I picked up the dogs and drove to an AirB&B in Long Beach, WA. This became my day-time base of operations as I had to work my normal 40-hours. The location was chosen because my sister was staying with her boyfriend and his family at a lovely beach house (more like beach mansion, very reminiscent of the gorgeous homes in Charleston, SC and surrounding areas). I was invited to join them for a few days, so I asked my mountain-wife to join me and the dogs as our plus one for a few days of beach-time. Outside of work hours, we hung out with my sister et al, wandered around the charming towns, and even caught a few glimpses of the early days of the International Kite Festival.

As the week progressed, everyone departed to head back home—except for me and the dogs. We made some evening trips around the area to see what life on the coast is like, from lonely hiking trails to a sunset in Astoria, it was a fun way to conclude the week and prepare for the next part of the trip.

After the workday ended on Thursday (I’m working a 4x10 schedule right now), I loaded up the car and me and the dogs headed the opposite direction our family and friends had gone. Well, we sort of went east and then south as the route I had planned to take via Mt. Shasta and Lassen to Reno, NV (our weekend destination) was on fire. Drat!


The alternate route was lovely and brought us through a very remote area I have never been through in Southeast Oregon, where service stations are few and there’s a tricky little patch of Mountain Time Zone that comes out of nowhere and screws with your sense of time for a couple of hours. We car-camped near Mt. Hood, stopped at a fantastic dog-park in Bend, OR, and basically just pulled off wherever we pleased to site-see and sniff-and-pee. You can decide who was responsible for which actions.

August 20-23


A jam-packed weekend in Nevada! First stop was Winnemucc, NV, where Max and Logan and their family live. I was stoked to see the guys so soon after leaving the Grand Canyon and even more excited to meet the rest of the family. Zoë decided that she approved of Max and I’m sure would have stayed behind with them if she could have. I have never had a dog who loved so many humans as much as she does.

They helped us find a campground in town for the night and suggested a few spots around the area to check out. The smoke from the nearby wildfires was pretty thick so I ruled out a lot of hiking options, but I did take a suggested detour to Lovelock Cave (a small but awesome detour off of I-80). The dogs impatiently waited for me as I hiked the short nature trail and visited the cave. This is a stop I definitely recommend for those in the area.


We arrived in Reno and met up with a ski patrol friend, Alex, who had offered to play tour-guide to me and the dogs for the afternoon (he was in Reno for the weekend to see his family and the timing was too good to pass up the coordinated visit). Even though the views were limited by the increasingly awful smoke, he took us to hike the snow-shed tunnels in Donner Pass and up to Lake Tahoe, a place that would soon be under extreme fire danger and mandatory evacuations, though we did not know this at the time.

The next day I took the dogs out for some more solo adventuring as our tour-guide was otherwise engaged. The day before, Alex had taken us to where the Truckee River begins at Lake Tahoe and informed me that it was a contained system where the river began in one lake and ended in another (Pyramid Lake). I set a goal of seeing the beginning and end of the Truckee in one day so we headed out to Pyramid Lake then looped back up to Lake Tahoe. Lots of driving but totally worth it for the story and the views.

The smoke made it difficult to stay around Tahoe for long, so I bailed and went back to Donner Pass to look around some more and to try and locate the infamous swing Alex told me about (mission accomplished). It was a fun day of driving and stopping wherever seemed worth visiting. The dogs enjoyed a break midway along the Truckee River adventure, and they tolerated my detour up to Squaw Valley to see the location of the 1960 Olympic Games.

Too soon, it was time to get back on the road and head towards Utah. I considered driving the whole way on Hwy 50, the “loniest Highway in America” but opted to head back north to the bigger interstate. That'll be another adventure for next time! We made a quick stop back in Winnemucca and Brenda and the kids took us up to some amazing sand dunes for the kids and dogs (alright, yes and the adults) to play. It was just the right temperature that we could run around barefoot so I knew the dogs were ok, but humans and doggos alike had to take some cool-down breaks in pits we quickly dug to access the cooler sand down below.

All the adventuring finally wore out the pups and they slept soundly for the next several hours, which gave me a chance to relax and listen to an audiobook without Harley’s constant demands for scratches and potty breaks (he is the most vocal dog, I swear he’s trying to speak to me half the time).

Many places I thought about stopping ended up being closed due to the pandemic, so I pushed on and on. At one point, everyone needed a stretch break, so we parked at the gate and hiked the two miles of road to the California Trail center and enjoyed the outdoor exhibits. For the record, this is on BLM land which is generally public access and there were no “no trespassing”

signs. We noticed other walkers/bikers in the area and were very respectful of the property.

The next several days included a mix of travel, working-from-camp, checking out local sites, and finally making our way into Salt Lake City, Utah.


We went out to see the famous salt flats (dogs stayed in the car for that one to keep their paws safe).

I made a quick stop at the historic Wendover Airbase where the Enola Gay was stationed pre-Hiroshima and bomber training was conducted during WWII (note: the picture of me is in another old plane, not the E.G.).

We took a drive into the Ruby Mountains to escape the heat at Angel Lake.

I even got to see where Morton Salt comes from!

Finally, on August 25th, we checked-in to our charming AirB&B in the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City, our new home for the next week. It was an amazing adventure, but being settled in one place again was a much appreciated change of pace.

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