Let’s Go Camping: 5 Tips for your Next Camping Trip!

Camping season is almost upon us and I am starting to finalize my yearly retreats to the woods. While I like to think of myself as a seasoned camper I often find myself learning from each trip I take. 

I have been camping since I was born. To clarify, when I say I have been camping since I was born, I mean that my parents had a permanent campsite in Door County about 20 minutes from our house, since I was born. My parents started with a pop-up and then eventually upgraded to a pull behind that never left our campsite. We spent every weekend growing up making side pork and corn over the fire, many miles of riding bikes, and making new friends. While it was camping, I grew up spending my summers in a mini home not far from a pool, game room, and ice cream stand. So yes it was camping, but not “camping.” Not the type of camping where you pack everything and everybody in the car for an hour drive to unpack it all and pray you didn’t forget anything. Also hope that the campground has at least one shower with hot water and it’s even better if you don’t have to pay to use those showers. 

Listen to the blog post by going to our Podcast page.

As I got older camping changed drastically. I purchased my first tent while I was in college from Menards and thought all I needed was an air mattress, sleeping bag, flashlight, dry wood, and lighter to enjoy a weekend in the woods. Oh, boy was I wrong. I have compiled a list of the five most helpful tips and tricks for new campers, that I wish I would have known.

Tip Number 1: You can never have too many tarps!

I love camping and yet it seems that every time we head out to the woods at least one big storm comes through the campground. We always think the two tarps we have will be enough to go under the tent, but we still have a puddle that magically shows up. And we should have brought a tarp to cover the wood because we always end up with wet wood along with our wet clothes. Another tarp is nice to string up in the tree to create a canopy to keep us and our stuff dry while it is drizzling. We currently have three tarps but we will be increasing our tarp supply before we venture out into the woods this year. Luckily they can be folded up nice and small.

Tip Number 2: Pack Light 

A few years ago I went camping with my best friend, April, on Rock Island State Park in Door County. To get to the campground you have to take the ferry to Washington Island and then you have to catch another ferry that will take you and your camping supplies to Rock Island. When you arrive at the little dock, the two ferry workers take everyone’s things out of the boat and onto the dock. You then have to gather all of your supplies and walk to your site. Not a short walk either. We had about a half-mile walk, while other sites were all the way across the island. The island only has rustic campsites too, so no running water or electricity. April and I had never rustic camped before so it was a new experience for us and we learned a lot. We learned that if you have to walk to your site don’t bring a tent that weighs 40 pounds plus all of our other gear. We also learned to leave the two kayaks and folding chairs at home. I believe the only thing that we did pack lightly on was our clothes and food. For food, April ate grilled hot dogs, and at the time I was a vegetarian, so I ate a cold black bean, corn, and rice mixture. It was not good. But I had to eat it because we couldn’t drive or walk to a restaurant or grocery store to pick up something else. We still joke about our Rock Island camping trip and about how much we overpacked and my horrible food. We learned a lot about rustic camping that weekend. The next time we take a trip to Rock Island, we will be bringing our hammocks and leaving the kayaks at home.

Tip Number 3: Save your dryer lint

Starting a fire is almost an art. Well, when you don’t use lighter fluid. You need to stack your wood just right. I believe I have perfected the log cabin wood stacking technique. Then you need to make sure you have enough small sticks, leaves, dry grass, or pine cones to help the fire startup. However, you don’t need to buy a special campfire fire starter or save your newspapers to get our kindling burning. We use dryer lint. That’s right, don’t toss away your dryer crumbs, save them and bring them camping. The lint catches fast and can be shoved into all of the nooks and crannies of the wood and bark. Don’t spend your money, just repurpose what you already have plenty of, dryer lint!

Tip Number 4: Plan Early

Campgrounds fill up fast! Every year I say I’m going to start planning a camping trip at the start of the new year, but of course, I wait until March after we have received all of the weddings save the dates. By that time all of the state parks and popular campgrounds are full. State park camping is my favorite because one, the sites are normally more reasonable, and two they have more hiking trails, bike trails, and I feel like I’m escaping from my everyday life. State parks though, fill up the fastest. In fact, I am trying to plan a camping trip to Munising Michigan this summer for the end of August, and we are having a hard time finding a site. I have spent over two hours looking for campsites in the area and I still don’t have a reservation. So next year, I am going to make it my New Year resolution to plan all of my camping trips in January. Where is your favorite campground? Let me know in the comments below, I will add it to my must-camp spots. 

Tip Number 5: Multi-Use Wins! 

The best multi-use find we have is a handheld lantern that has a fan and can be hung from the ceiling or propped up on a table. It’s battery-operated and lasts for hours. This lantern+fan has been a lifesaver when we are camping. The light is bright and lights up the tent while the fan keeps us cool on those hot nights.

Another great multi-use camping product is a compact solar power light and phone charger. Yes, another lantern. When I go camping, it’s normally a nonelectric tent site, because those are all the sites left when we finally pick a weekend, so the more lighting options we have the better and the bathroom is always a short walk from our site. This compact solar-powered light is perfect for camping because it deflates to fit into any bag and it has a USB port so we can charge our phones, the only electronic you really need when your camping, well except flashlights.  

And of course, you can’t forget your multi-tool or swiss army knife. Our multi-tool has saved our butts so many times. Especially when we pick up craft beers and sodas that aren’t twist-offs. The little knife is perfect for sharpening sticks for roasting marshmallows and making hotdogs. 

Now that you know about my favorite camping accessories, tips, and tricks, I hope you can take an adventure to the great outdoors this summer, even if you are just pitching your tent in your backyard.

Sharing Their Stories

In this article, I am taking a different approach. I would like to share some of the creators I follow and enjoy. I will also give you a little insight into why I connect with their content.

Let’s begin.

Listen to the blog post by going to our Podcast page.

#1 American Indian Fine Arts by Daniel Kasza

Their bio in Instagram states that they are “Celebrating the diverse breadth and beauty of Native American painting and art.” That, they do.

American Indian Fine Arts showcases artwork by various native creators. Each piece is highlighted by the artists name, their birth year (and year of passing if now here in spirit), and their tribal affiliation. In each caption, it provides more information on the artist and the piece in the photo.

A quick note on why I have recently taken more interest in native traditions. I am currently in the process, a very slow process, of tracking my ancestory. My paternal grandmother, Elsie (Tiger) Coyle, is a full blood Muscogee (Creek) citizen and this is a part of the family tree I am very interested in discovering more about, yet may be the hardest. Records don’t seem to be the best for tribal families. She had mentioned her parents names, Thomas Tiger and Bertha (Bruner) Tiger, and records so far only provide incomplete lineage beyond them. I might be on a trail though with Bertha’s family. However, part of our lineage, as my grandmother had told us, is our distant relationship to the Tiger family that has created beautiful artwork over the years. Jon, cousin to Jerome and Johnny Tiger Jr., is highlighted in the Instagram post below. Pieces from each of the three are shared throughout this profiles feed, along with wonderful creations from artists across many, many tribes. The profile is available on Instagram and Facebook. If you check it out, please let me know what you think.

#2 Project 562 by Matika Wilbur

“Matika Wilbur, one of the Pacific Northwest’s leading photographers, has exhibited extensively in regional, national, and international venues such as the Seattle Art Museum, the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, The Tacoma Art Museum, the Royal British Columbia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts in France. She studied photography at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography in Montana and received a bachelor’s degree from Brooks Institute of Photography in California. Her work led her to becoming a certified teacher at Tulalip Heritage High School, providing inspiration for the youth of her own indigenous community.

Matika, a Native American woman of the Swinomish and Tulalip Tribes (Washington), is unique as an artist and social documentarian in Indian Country- The insight, depth, and passion with which she explores the contemporary Native identity and experience are communicated through the impeccable artistry of each of her silver gelating photographs.”

Matika’s description here, from the Project 562 Facebook page explains a lot. Yet, it understates the impact of her photography and storytelling. I had the privilege to hear Matika speak, and honestly, I could have listened to her talk all day about the stories she has experienced. As you have an opportunity, look through the photos and videos. Start with the website and blog, then work through the social channel of your choice. Also, maybe listen to her podcast, All My Relations. I will be starting on episode 1 soon.

It is projects like this that makes me wish I had captured more stories from my family when I was younger.

#3 The Profile Trifecta

It seemed fitting that for number three that I provide three profiles. So, as a bonus, I would like to provide a few quick hit accounts for you. Enjoy!

Peter McKinnon

Photographer. Vlogger. Canadian. All around cool guy. I don’t miss any of his YouTube videos.

American Bison

They are amazing creatures, don’t you think? P.S. they are not buffalo. More facts here.

By the way, if you know a good profile for hawks, the actual bird and not the team, let me know. The hawk is my spirit animal, which I have a deep connection with and I love seeing them in the wild.

James Jones – notoriouscree

“Indigenous (Nehîyaw). Dancer. Influencer.” He has built quite a following on TikTok, and for that reason, I break the cycle and share his TikTok account. Always fun to watch his dances and I am noticing a lot more activity around social causes.

@notoriouscree

Men’s fancy style @patrickmitsuing @darrellbrerttonjr #native #indigenous #dance

♬ original sound – Tia Wood

Alright. Thank you for reading, listening, and watching what I have shared in this post. I hope you follow, or keep an eye, on these creators and profiles. They bring me joy, and information, to become a better creator myself…and person.

Do you have a favorite follow? Share the account in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Please subscribe on the homepage to receive email updates when we publish. Also follow The Start of the Trail on Facebook.

Until next time, take care, and be safe! This is Ronnie Coyle. Mvto.

Our Top TV Shows, Audiobooks, and Movies.

Our post this month is worth binge-reading! Literally. Our three authors are bringing you our ‘current’ favorites to binge-watch…and listen. The selections are so gripping, you might feel like you are up against the ropes, trying to survive the end of the world, and escaping to space. Every month, Molly, myself, and Jessica will bring you a collaborative blog post. We will brainstorm ideas we each can write about. Then we will bring those stories together for our fourth post of the month. Enjoy!

Listen to the blog post by going to our Podcast page.

We start with Molly.

Molly Schroeder

I have to admit that I don’t spend a lot of time watching TV or movies. Mostly because I have a hard time sitting still. It drives my boyfriend, Jason, crazy. When I do sit down and watch a show, I’m coloring or trying to fit in a workout at the same time. For that reason, I listen to a lot of audiobooks. I can pop in my headphone and wash the dishes, do yard work, or go for a walk. I feel like I’m reading a book while being productive. The series that I am currently binge listening to is A Court of Thrones & Roses  by Sarah J. Mass. I’m finishing up the novella right now and have already put myself on the waiting list for the next book in the series, A Court of Silver Flames. I was introduced to this series through one of my book clubs that consists of my college friends. Most of the books in this series are all over 500 pages so listening instead of reading has helped to make sure that I am staying on track with my book club goals. The Court of Thrones & Roses Series follows the journey of mortal-born Feyra and she breaks curses and fights evil that has fallen on the land of the Fae. Think Game of Thrones meets Narnia, with teenage Twilight love stories. However, this is not a series for teenagers. I was NOT expecting or ready for how steaming some portions of the books were. This series is definitely for those 18 and older. With the risky sections aside, I really do enjoy all of the drama and adventures. The character development not only of Fyre but all of those in the Court of Dreamers has been kept my attention along with the many plot twists. Check out the Court of Thrones & Roses series, you might be binge-reading or listening to this series too. If you have any great book recommendations, please share them with me. I’m always on the hunt for great books to read or listen to. 

When the weather doesn’t cooperate for me to get outside or it’s too dark to get in a run, I grab my stationary bike out of the closet and turn on Schitt’s Creek. I know I am very late to the party as the series has wrapped up already after 6 seasons. But remember it’s better to be late than to not show up at all and I love this show. I have been watching two to three 22 minute episodes per workout and I’m at the tail end of the second season. I need to know how Alexis’s job and love life are going to wrap up for the season. Also, I’m getting impatient to find out who wins the city council seat, I have a feeling it’s not Moira, but heck I have been wrong before. I’m hooked now but it did take me a few episodes to get over how spoiled and over the top all of the characters are. For most of the first season, I couldn’t stand David but now he has grown to be my favorite character. I think his sense of humor is the best. Plus, I feel like we would be best friends in real life. Has anyone else subconsciously started wearing more black and white outfits like David and Moira? But seriously, Eww David. 

The one thing everyone needs to know about Jason is that he loves watching wrestling. But like I said before I have a hard time sitting still long enough to really watch anything. So Jason and I have found a happy medium of watching old wrestling shows while I am doing other things. This way I am able to accomplish whatever I need to get done but I can stop and watch a five-minute match before heading off to my next task. So when we first started dating five years ago we purchased the WWE Network to watch one Wrestlemania and we just kept watching. Last year when we were spending more and more time at home, our WWE Network watching was taken to a whole new level. We watched all the specials we could and in March of 2020, we started watching WCW (World Champion Wrestling) shows all the way back to 1997. We started as close to the beginning as we could and have been making our way to the end. Jason has been reliving his childhood by watching all of these matches and I’m finally learning more about the greatest matches and wrestlers. I now know who and why Diamond Dallas Paige is considered a legend. I have also learned the different members and walk-out songs of the nWo Wolf Pack and the nWo Hollywood. In fact, every time I hear the nWo Wolf Pack walk-out song, I’m the first one to make the wolf pack sign with my hands. I have also watched all of Hulk Hogan’s iconic matches and have seen the many sides of Rick Flair (wooo). We are nearing the end of the WCW era and have about 28 episodes left. The timing works out great for us, as the WWE Network is going to transition their content to NBC’s Peacock and we are hoping to finish watching all of WCW shows before the switch. Especially because once the switch is made to Peacock, we won’t be able to watch all the old shows in order. I think we’ll make it, but I have no idea what we are going to watch together that won’t require my full attention once we finish WCW. I might have to start biking more or pick up a few more coloring books for the next series Jason and I watch together.

Ronnie Coyle

Wow, that was a trip down memory lane, Molly. I remember watching wrestling with my dad and enjoying the likes of Junkyard Dog, ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan, Ted “Million Dollar Man” DiBiase, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, The Ultimate Warrior, and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Awesome. So, this was really hard to narrow down. I thought I would look at it from three different points of view. What movie(s) should you watch again? What series takes a look at how we navigate our current world with COVID-19? And, what series is getting good again?

First one. Who knows where this quote came from? “One does not simply walk into Mordor.” Yes, I know, it is one of the most well-known memes. However, it also comes from one the best trilogies known to humans and orcs. The Lord of the Rings. The full quote from Boromir goes like this, “”One does not simply walk into Mordor. Its black gates are guarded by more than just orcs. There is evil there that does not sleep. The great eye is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with fire, ash, and dust. The very air you breathe is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand men could you do this. It is folly.”

One of the downfalls to the Lord of the Rings is when they released The Hobbit trilogy. The Hobbit trilogy is a prequel series to the LotR trilogy, but was released after the LotR trilogy. Sound familiar, Star Wars fans? Harry Potter fans?

I am happy to say that watching the trilogies again, in the correct order, was not only gratifying but also very enjoyable. Also, our two boys had not watched them before, so they took part in our six movie binge-athon. 1031 minutes, or 17.2 hours, of Middle Earth destruction and victories. A long journey, and one we will surely take again with the Baggins of Hobbiton. 

Here is one of my favorite parts.

Next quote for you. “Don’t let fear keep you quiet. You have a voice so use it. Speak up. Raise your hands. Shout your answers. Make yourself heard. Whatever it takes, just find your voice, and when you do, fill the damn silence.” This was one of many I wanted to select, from a plethora of different characters that has been on this show over the years. This show started on March 27, 2005. My wife and I haven’t missed an episode, 371 episodes over 17 seasons. A lot of main characters have come and gone during that time. Some have taken on their own shows with success, and several have been in spin-offs and crossovers.

Have you guessed it yet?

Grey’s Anatomy. If you never started this series, or you stopped, or you haven’t stayed current…it is time. This is your binge-worthy series. Currently, the series explores the early stages of COVID-19. It attempts to give you a glimpse into what hospitals, medical staff, and families are going through. There is also an interesting twist, a touch of the afterlife…or that stage before? It will make you curious, while also connecting to the characters. It is easy to do. 

On that note, I would also suggest New Amsterdam. With Grey’s Anatomy, you begin to compare every new medical show to it. And…that makes it hard to enjoy a new one. Some may say that about ER. However, New Amsterdam fits the bill. It is a refreshing new look. New situations. New relationships. A diverse group of personalities. And, they too are showcasing the early stages of COVID-19…in New York City. Put this one on your list too.

Okay, one more. Well, kind of. This one comes from a frequent conversation with family and friends. In those conversations, I hear it every time. It goes something like this. “I liked it more in the beginning. The first 5 or so seasons were good. Then it became human versus human. I didn’t really care for that.” Those that made it even further were also tired of the same scenarios happening over and over. We, however, stuck it out and have since enjoyed the resurrection of the series, as well as, have enjoyed the two spin-offs. It has come back from the dead, so to speak. 

Any ideas?

Yeah, The Walking Dead. We also really like Fear the Walking Dead, and have enjoyed the start of The Walking Dead: World Beyond. There have been moments here and there with all three that it gets sleepy. Or feels like the same. Yet, the moments they get it right, they get it right. The Walking Dead is now in Season 10. Fear the Walking Dead is in season 6. The Walking Dead: World Beyond is filming for season 2. 

One of the things I find very intriguing about the Walking Dead shows is how much the world changes in the stories, yet the more they stay the same. A lot like our real world. Not to be confused with The Real World Homecoming: New York reunion show. If you like to see character development, where they struggle, find enlightenment, and continue to follow that path of peaks and valleys, the Walking Dead shows are very much worth watching, or catching back up again. I see some interesting things coming into play soon, which are developments I think we all wanted to see in the original Walking Dead several seasons ago. 

Alright, that’s it for me. Now, to check out what Jessica has in store for us. As a side note, she makes a reference to one of my favorite quotes that I still often use. Can you figure it out?

Jessica Norwood

I’m certainly taking notes from Ronnie and Molly’s favorite streams and adding them to my watchlist/audiolist! Now I need to catch up on Grey’s. Molly, when you finish Schitt$ Creek let me know!

You have no idea how much time I spent choosing three streams for this post. There are way too many to choose from! Streaming in our house falls into a few different categories:

  • What the kids want to watch
  • What we want to watch that is kid friendly 
  • What we watch when the kids are in bed

I’m sure many of you can relate to this! Many nights, after the kids are in bed, we find ourselves turning on shows we have watched to the point of memorization. It is great for those days when we want our brains to let go of the day. We don’t have to fully pay attention, yet we know what is going on. “I don’t want to think days” are for Friends, Big Bang Theory, and Schitt$ Creek. The other days were for rediscovering or exploring.

Spending more time at home has allowed us to rediscover shows we have not watched in a long time. Hulu recently added Blossom. Remember Mayim Bialik in the 90s? The hats, the spontaneous dancing, “Whoa!” It’s quirky in many ways. I’m having too much fun re-watching this show. Honestly, I don’t remember much from when it originally aired in the 90s. I know I was always jealous of how fast Six could talk (video below). There are some episodes that didn’t age well, but others that were ahead of their time and still relevant today. For some reason I thought it was longer than five seasons, but I’m discovering that with a lot of shows I’m rewatching. When I’m done with Blossom, I’m going back another decade to one of my all-time favorites, Punky Brewster! I’ll have to go old school and pull out DVDs for that one.

Our whole family loves watching animal shows, even though half the time my husband, Rob, and I find it’s just us watching them as the kids have disappeared. Secrets of the Zoo on Nat Geo is a favorite. There continues to be so much conversation around zoos, but this show has revived my love for them with their animal conservation. We enjoy learning the “behind the scenes” work that goes into saving an endangered species and the care that is needed for the animals. These zoos are also about rehabilitation, or rebuilding the population and releasing animals back into their natural habitat. Some animals would not exist if it weren’t for these zoos. There are three “versions” of the show that take place in Columbus, Tampa, and North Carolina. Several seasons are streaming on Disney+ and we’ve enjoyed watching them multiple times. There is so much to learn about animal conservation!

I wanted to share one of our favorite streaming channels before I talk about my last stream (Here comes my unpaid plug). I heard about Curiosity Stream in one of my favorite podcasts, The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe. It’s a documentary series channel, and I can’t say enough good things about it! We enjoy documentaries. It is well worth the $20/year…you should check it out! I was going to talk about our favorite series, Spy in the Wild, but sadly that is no longer available. Animatronic animals placed on a spy mission, anyone? It was so cool! A close second is the Destination series. Destination: Pluto and Destination: Jupiter taught us so much about the spacecrafts flown out to the planets to gather pictures and data. The science of it all is so intriguing. Did you know the New Horizons spacecraft took over nine years to reach Pluto? We geek out over science and space.

I hope you enjoy all the streams we have listed. I also hope we have given you some new things to add to your watchlist. What should we add to ours?

Absolutely Jessica, please leave us your top picks on our Facebook page or in the comments of this blog post. We love hearing from you. 

If you enjoy our blog posts, could you follow us? You can subscribe to our email reminders on the Home page. Also, consider clicking the ‘Like’ on our The Start of the Trail Facebook page for updates and additional stories from Jessica, Molly, and Ronnie. Social links are at the top of the blog page.

Until next time, don’t let a DDT or orc blade slow your day. Look to the skies and dream what might be. Take care everyone, and be safe.

Straw Bales…The 8th Wonder of Gardening

Planning and planting season is among us! Snow is starting to give way to mud that will soon be green grass and warmer temperatures. I look out my window and see rows of straw bales in the back corner of our yard with a dusting of March snow on them. They are calling out to me…and they want plants.

Listen to the blog post by going to our Podcast page.

I love to garden. My grandpa and my dad had/have gardens. Flowers, vegetables, you name it. Grandpa’s yard was like a massive oasis in the middle of a city. Flowers everywhere. A creek running through the middle of the yard with a bridge to cross. The back part of the yard had the vegetables and a swing set. The tulips in spring and sneaking peas and cherry tomatoes when he wasn’t looking was my favorite part. My life goal is to have a garden like his. I have so much to learn.

Honestly, I didn’t start loving gardening until I was in my late 20s. Pulling weeds from the flower beds and watering the vegetables are now relaxing. It’s a joke in our house. “I’m going in the back to water the garden,” translates into “I’ll start in the garden and as I bring the watering cans to the front I’ll see some weeds and pull them, slowly working my way around the whole house. See you when the sun sets.” It’s a space where I can let my wander and disappear from the craziness of daily life. 

I love flowers, but let’s talk about vegetables. My favorite question to be asked is, “Your garden grows in what?”

Straw bales. 

I’m telling you it is the best way to grow plants! We have gardened this way since 2014 and it’s almost fool-proof.

Top 10 reasons why I love straw bale gardening:

(listen to the podcast for extra info on each)

  1. It’s easy and cheap.
  2. No digging or tilling.
  3. It’s a biodegradable raised garden.
  4. They usually last two growing seasons.
  5. Almost no soil borne diseases.
  6. Plant directly into the bales…no dirt!
  7. Straw bales retain heat often allowing for longer growing season and (in my experience) larger plants.
  8. Can’t over water (shout out to all the over-waters).
  9. NO WEEDS! Though once I had a couple bales that sprouted a couple weeds. They pulled right out!
  10. Compost!!!

This gardening idea was suggested to me by a coworker. Basically, you get bales, begin the composting process over the course of a few weeks, and then plant. Not going to lie, the first few weeks are the hardest and easiest all at once. It’s a series of water and nutrients to break down the bales. If you don’t stay on top of the composting the first two weeks, the garden may not be a success. I found this out last year in the craziness of the pandemic. Tip: Don’t assume because you used the bales the year before, you don’t need to start the compost process again!

At first the thought of setting up and maintaining this was intimidating. Thank goodness for the Straw Bale Gardens book! It walks you through every step and even gives you layout and companion plant suggestions. I can’t say enough good things about this book.

We’ve grown our garden from six bales the first year to 18 bales the third year. This year we will have 12-15 bales. We always have great intentions for planting seeds indoors, but that is often a crazy time for us and we end up buying plants from a small local organic farm (former student of mine) and seeding the rest directly in the bales. We’ve had great success with just about everything we planted. Carrots are the one thing I can’t get to grow in bales. The greens are tall, but the carrots are only two inches long. I was shocked that sweet potatoes worked so well, though a little thinner than I would like. Tomatoes, peppers, and green beans are always winners. One year our cherry tomato plant got 7ft tall!

There’s still so much to learn about gardening. Each year it evolves. Look for garden updates throughout the year as I love to share and learn from you. What do you think we should plant this year?

Learn more about straw bale gardening:

Dear Old Friends

Here's to Dads! Start of the Trail

By Jessica Norwood, Molly Schroeder, and Ronnie Coyle Dads. They're great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it's a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father's Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father's Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently. Enjoy our Father's Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast. https://startofthetrail.com/2021/06/29/heres-to-dads/ — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/startofthetrail/message
  1. Here's to Dads!
  2. What is on Your Summer Playlist?
  3. Me-er than Me
  4. How To Be The Perfect Wedding Guest
  5. Thank You, Mom!

I have always been a social butterfly. Put me in a room with people and within 15 minutes I will walk out with a new friend. Now that we have hit the one-year mark since the pandemic started, I started thinking about all of the people in my life. I’ve been thinking about the different friendships that have endured the pandemic and those that ended long before COVID was a thing. My thoughts then evolved to my journey through life, it wouldn’t be the same without the friendships of my past and present. While I am very fortunate to have amazing people in my friend circle, I was starting to mourn the losses of my old friends. These old friendships used to be almost effortlessly intertwined into my everyday life; daily texts, weekly dinner dates, group chats, you name it. Now we are lucky if our lives align again for just a few moments while we are shopping or we happen to be invited to the same special event. However, most of my old friends will not cross my path again. I will not see them at the grocery store or at an upcoming wedding.  So to those old friends, this is for you. 

Dear Old Friends, 

We had great times together. We can’t forget our middle school basketball tournaments and my dad snoring so loud that you didn’t sleep all weekend. Remember when we used to play hide and seek in Wal-Mart because we wanted to get out of the house but had nowhere else to go. How about those late nights in college trying to finish our homework, or meeting up in the morning after a party to talk about everything that happened the night before. I’ll never forget the time you made me a cake to cheer me up after my high school boyfriend broke up with me, thank you. You were there after each major life event to either cheer me up or celebrate with me. 

It has been years since we have seen each other. It has been years since we went out for dinner, talked on the phone, or sent a text. These days we do our catching up looking at the photos we post on our social accounts. And yes, I did creep on ALL of your wedding photos and family photos when you posted them. I hope you do the same. My heart smiled when I heard through the grapevine that your dreams came true. When you bought that big house in the woods you wanted, moved to that city you always talked about, and landed the career and title you deserved. I  was jumping for joy when you announced the pregnancies of each of your children. I was ecstatic when you married the love of your life. 

I look back to how our lives have evolved. I envy how simple it was to be friends back then. Back when a 3-hour drive across the state only felt like an hour or we were both able to hang out any time of the day or night. At one time we never thought we would go through a major life event without each other. We always thought our paths would be side by side, but at one point we hit a fork in the road and our paths drifted further and further apart. Sometimes, I’m extremely sad that we drifted apart or outgrew each other, but I remind myself we wouldn’t be where we are or who we are without each other.  

Old friends, I appreciate all the times you stood up for me, for hugging me so tight after my mom passed away, for the care package after my heart attack, and for not judging me on how off-key I was when we drive around town jamming in high school. I cherish every memory we have made and hope that as your children grow you share some of our crazy stories. Well, only the ones that make us look really cool. Don’t ever forget that I will always be cheering you on from afar and if you need me I will be there. While I accept the fact that our paths will probably never cross again, I always hope that they will. And if they do I know it will feel like it has only been months and not years since we saw each other and we will have a lot of catching up to do. Until then, I will continue to cherish our crazy adventures. ~Mollz

Finding My Voice

Listen to the blog post by going to our Podcast page.

Hello my friends.

I have a very real topic this week. A topic that can be uncomfortable for many to discuss. A topic that can be hard to reflect on their own personal knowledge and skills. The topic, racial equity. 

Before I go further, I want to be transparent. I will be providing you with my personal experiences, and my actions to become a better listener and co-conspirator. More on that to follow. I will also provide resources and tools that I have been and will continue to use for my personal and professional growth. 

I identify as a person of color. I check the box that is labeled American Indian/Alaska Native. If the box existed, I would instead check Muscogee (Creek) citizen. 

“Race is the child of racism, not the father.”

Ta-Nehisi Coates

from Between the World and Me

To help me recollect and reflect for my post this week, I just finished a 21-Day Racial Equity Habit Building Challenge. An amazing experience with many of my colleagues to better ourselves and our community. We read about, watched videos on, and discussed many topics such as, and not limited to:

  • Stereotyping
  • Blindspot Bias
  • Racism
  • Race Equity
  • Structural Discrimination
  • Whiteness
  • Racial Division
  • Intersectionality
  • Equality and Equity
  • Non-racist and Anti-racist
  • Ally and Co-conspirator
  • Detours
  • Color Blind and Color Brave

It’s a lot. I learned many things. I have many questions. What I do know is what I have learned to this point and what I will work on right away. The challenge was part of a 30 day course of self-guided daily activities that challenged us to reflect on our awareness about race, communication skills about race, and conflict management around issues of race. We also had 3 virtual meetings to share insights and create dialogue with other peers in a safe space. With Engagement Guidelines (page 3) established by Dr. Kathy Obear, we had open and respectful conversations.

First, I was asked to analyze how race has impacted my life experience and how has it impacted our community? While this is not an exhaustive list, here are some stories that come to mind.

Living in small town Oklahoma, it was not unusual for my friends to joke with me about taking my land. We knew a lot about one side of the story when it came to the history of the Oklahoma Land Rush. While most times I just ignored them, a few of my friends knew my triggers. For some reason they liked to get me agitated. Ugh.

Talking about Oklahoma History. In my high school Oklahoma History class, which was either fall of 1991 or fall 1992, the Atlanta Braves were in the Major League Baseball World Series. My classmates thought it would be clever to do the tomahawk chop and chant during class time for the whole school to hear. Unfortunately, I probably joined in due to peer pressure. Plus, I liked the team. 

Examples like these make me wish I knew more when I was younger. At least I know now. 

I still have a bit to explore to understand how race has impacted my community. So moving on with the reflection.

Next was to determine knowledge or areas of practice about racial equity (i.e. bias, historical narratives, Whiteness, interrupting dynamics of oppression, allyship, etc.) for me to learn more about.

During the past few years I have learned to reflect more on my experiences to understand my past. I have run into roadblocks, while also finding my voice. Personally, I want to use my stories to teach, and help, others with racial equity. I believe learning more about being a co-conspirator is my path.

Professionally, there are many opportunities. From our Professionals of Color to the Intertribal Employee Involvement Group I will learn much from my peers. I also believe we, as faculty, need to look at the industry(ies) and topics we teach to discover and showcase more diversity. Ethics and diversity is more than just a chapter, or section of a chapter, it needs to be a foundation for all we teach. 

Lastly, I was asked to name two specific actions I can take to address those areas I identified. Easy!

The first action is to continue listening and never stop learning. 

Then, to build on the first action, I will continue to speak up and share my stories. By educating others on my experiences and what I have learned, they will have the opportunity to listen and learn from a different perspective.

As I continue this work, I will be sharing more here in future blog posts. 

I am curious, what actions have you taken, or plan to take, for continued awareness and engagement about the dynamics of race, power, privilege, and equity?

To make sure you don’t miss a new article, could you do us a favor? 

First, go to the bottom of the Home page and Subscribe to receive email updates when we publish.

Next, follow The Start of the Trail on Facebook, as well as, Jessica, Molly, and me on Instagram. Links are at the top of the blog page.

Also, consider leaving comments on the blog posts. We would love to hear what you think and if you have any questions. 

Thank you for listening in. Be sure to check out the article for any photos and links we shared to continue this journey with us. 

Until next time, take care, and be safe! This is Ronnie Coyle

What Does Mississippi Avenue, Fort Master, and The Game Have in Common? Some of Our Fondest Snow Memories

Here's to Dads! Start of the Trail

By Jessica Norwood, Molly Schroeder, and Ronnie Coyle Dads. They're great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it's a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father's Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father's Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently. Enjoy our Father's Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast. https://startofthetrail.com/2021/06/29/heres-to-dads/ — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/startofthetrail/message
  1. Here's to Dads!
  2. What is on Your Summer Playlist?
  3. Me-er than Me
  4. How To Be The Perfect Wedding Guest
  5. Thank You, Mom!

Every month, Jessica, Molly, and I will bring you a collaborative blog post. We will brainstorm ideas we each can write about. Then we will bring those stories together for our fourth post of the month. Our post this month is ‘snow’ much fun! Yes, as the title alludes to, we share some of our fondest snow memories. It’s snow joke. Okay, enough snow puns, it’s snow laughing matter. Ahh, it continues to snowball.

Jessica, take us away with your story.

Jessica Norwood

As an adult, I love the first snowfall that sticks to the ground. After that I am over it! But as a kid every snowfall is a new adventure. Fresh snow covers the tracks of our previous adventures, allowing us to start again.

We had a long narrow backyard in our little town. Just outside the backdoor was our swingset. A large pine tree stood in the middle of the yard with a smaller maple toward the back. For years my brother, sister and I saw it as our own city. Every snowfall we would create roads that spanned from the front yard to the back. Decked out in snow gear, we would crawl to carve out the paths. The backside of the swing set had our only two-laned road. Building each road required a train of the three of us to pack down the snow and create our city. Year after year we created these roads and they all had names (you have to have an address to send party invites!). The only name I remember now is Mississippi Avenue. It spanned from the back door, around the side of the house to the sidewalk in the front, finally looping back and connecting with our two-laned road. Mississippi Avenue was always the first one built. Like any city, we had businesses and houses. It was always an argument on who got to build under the pine tree. It was the only sheltered spot sure to withstand any future storms. Everything about creating something in the snow fascinated me.

This past weekend we virtually celebrated my mother’s birthday. I asked how much they remember about our snow city. They didn’t remember as much detail as I did, but we all had memories of it. They remembered carving out beds and pillows in their snow home. I am the oldest and was nine-ish when we started our annual snow city. That’s probably why I have more memory of it than they do. Heck it was most likely my idea forced upon my siblings, as I am your stereotypical oldest child.

They remembered one of my other favorite memories…Dad building a sledding hill in the yard. He would pack the snow with a metal shovel and carve steps in the back so we could walk up to the top. We then hopped on our sleds, and flew across the yard toward the house. I remember the time it took him to pack down the snow and level the steps. Each trip down the slide would get us closer to the house. After a few days the hill had a nice glaze over it and we would FLY! So many fun times in the snow, and the memories are so vivid.

While I’m not as fond of snow as I once was, the memories come flooding back the moment I step foot in the snow with my own kids. Last year I tried to explain to my then nine-year-old the fun we had building a city. He looked at me and ran to get a shovel. “Why crawl when you have a shovel, Mom?” He thought I was crazy. It’s fun to watch them play and have their own creative adventures in the snow. I hope one day they reminisce of their memories in the snow.

So much fun, Jessica. Thanks for going frost, I mean first. Alright Molly, your next.

Molly Schroeder

Snow is magical. The fresh glittery powder covering everything transports me to a winter wonderland from long ago. I remember bundling up in my bulky snow pants, jacket, and heavy boots before I was allowed to venture outside to play in the snow. After a fresh snowfall, my brother and I would create our own snow castles. While he would make his castle out of snow chunks and giant snowballs, I went with the resourceful option of hiding under the weighted down snow-covered tree limbs. The limbs were so heavy with snow, they touched the ground. A natural lean-to. I only had to create a small fortress wall in front of me, while my back was blocked by the tree. After our snow castle masterpieces were finished, we would run inside to gather our “paint,” which was simply food coloring and water. We would use old ketchup bottles or syrup containers to squeeze the colors onto the snow. I was always deep in decorating when the first snowball would fly. I normally lost the snowball fight with my castle being destroyed or gave up by surrendering the title of “fort master” to my brother.  After my defeat, my brother would go inside to play games or watch TV. 

Being left alone in the snow was my favorite. I would go back to my wintery castle after my defeat and do a little rearranging to be comfortable enough to lay down and listen to the magic. I would hear the swaying of the trees, birds calling to one another, the wind rustling the snow, and just enjoy the silence. I let nature consume me. Linger in my ears and whisper to my young soul. I would always lose track of time and snap out of it when I just couldn’t feel my toes anymore or my mom called me inside. 

Those small childhood moments with my brother and nature have left an impression on me. When I drive past kids playing in the snow, it’s not hard to remember those days. I have a hard time sitting still these days and don’t spend enough time laying in the snow and letting the snow magic consume me. Instead, I’m hiking the state park trails with my boyfriend and our dog. Being outside is my natural medication meditation and leaves me feeling centered and refreshed. 

When I watch the snowfall I can transport back to my magical snowy castle under the trees. In a world where we are always in front of a screen, the quiet moments outside are appreciated even more. 

What great memories, Molly. Even if you didn’t get fort master, I would have given you ‘Best in Snow’. I have puns for days and the snuggle is real. Ah, there is snow way out. Ok, on to my snow stories.

Ronnie Coyle

I didn’t grow up in Wisconsin, yet living in this beautiful state the past 18 years has given me plenty to enjoy…and moan about…when it comes to snow. The wintery snow memories during this time have been about my family and the enjoyment my boys have had playing in it. Watching them make forts, throw snowballs, and the occasional wipeout while running around. We are not much for winter activities, but we love the first snowfall and as Molly mentioned, the magical transformation our home undergoes. For the memories I want to share though, I go back to my late teen years. Two stories. One my junior year in high school. The other my sophomore or junior year in college.

The first memory came at a time when smartphones didn’t exist. The bummer, of course, is you couldn’t capture every moment like we do now. We don’t have selfies from every occasion. While my memory doesn’t always serve me well, some things are unforgettable such as the Snow Game. 

My first snow story occurred in the fall of 1993. I remember the day well because it was the first and only football game I played in the snow. It didn’t snow during football season in Oklahoma. The game, Skiatook Bulldogs versus the Bristow Pirates. Our mediocre Dawgs against a 4A top 5 opponent. We had our work cut out for us, not to mention playing in snow and wondering if I had enough warm clothes. I remember scrambling to find clothes that would work under my football gear. Did I have any long spandex? Nope. Did I have a warm athletic top? No. Did I have hand warmers? No way. Off to our local stores. And by local stores, I mean Walmart. Our small town of 5,000 residents didn’t have much and there wasn’t enough time to run to Owasso or Tulsa. I did end up finding gloves, spandex leggings, hand warmers, and a long shirt that would suffice. Check, check, check, and check. Let’s play some football. Time to take on the #4 team in the state. We played, we had fun, we stayed warm enough. Oh, and the other reason I remember this day, we won. We beat the #4 team 35 to 34. That was a huge confidence boost. It also set a precedent for our team going into the following year when we finished the season ranked #2 in state.

My other memory happened during college. A short and quick story, but it was a fun memory. As I mentioned before, we didn’t get a lot of snow in Oklahoma. There are other states that don’t even get snow, or it is rare. At the time I was living in a fraternity house at Oklahoma State University with my Brothers. They came from different towns in Oklahoma, as well as different states. One in particular, my Brother Jake, came from California. One of our days in the house we got a decent snow, likely a couple of inches. Jake had never been in the snow before. You would have thought he was a 6 year old. He played and played, made snow angels, and threw snowballs. It was such a fun moment to see someone enjoy snow so much. And we were college students. An enjoyable moment for sure.

Ronnie Coyle during a rare snow day in Oklahoma (January, 2000). Theta Pond is in the background, located on Oklahoma State University’s campus in Stillwater, OK.

This concludes our snow stories. If you have your own, or remember one of these, please share your story too. We would love to hear about them.

To make sure you don’t miss a new article, could you do us a favor? 

First, go to the bottom of the Home page and Subscribe to receive email updates when we publish.

Next, follow The Start of the Trail on Facebook, as well as, Jessica, Molly, and me on Instagram. Links are at the top of the blog page.

Also, consider leaving comments on the blog posts. We would love to hear what you think and if you have any questions. 

Until next time, take care, be safe and have an ice day! This is Ronnie Coyle

Finding My Confidence

Here's to Dads! Start of the Trail

By Jessica Norwood, Molly Schroeder, and Ronnie Coyle Dads. They're great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it's a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father's Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father's Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently. Enjoy our Father's Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast. https://startofthetrail.com/2021/06/29/heres-to-dads/ — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/startofthetrail/message
  1. Here's to Dads!
  2. What is on Your Summer Playlist?
  3. Me-er than Me
  4. How To Be The Perfect Wedding Guest
  5. Thank You, Mom!

If you know me now, you would never believe me when I say I had a fear of talking in front of people. I make a living talking; I teach at a college and am a photographer. Many would agree that I talk too much. Yet, until I was 20, I could not speak in front of people.

I’m not talking about the kind of scared where you are shaking with note cards in your hands. My fear was so bad that I had to get permission from my teacher to record video of my speeches and have her play them in class. I wasn’t even there when she played it. Even the video camera with my “second mother” behind it was terrifying.

I knew someone was going to hear my voice (and pick up on its shakiness). Someone was going to judge the words I said. What if I misquoted something? What if someone knows more about the information I am giving? What if I am too monotone and everyone tunes me out? The fear was real, and I was nauseous.

You may be reading this and feeling the same way. I hear you.

Remember those assessments in high school that tell you what you should be when you grow up? I remember sitting in this long narrow room with glass windows facing the library. I took the assessment with excitement. I knew it would tell me what I wanted to hear. Then it told me I should be a college instructor. HA! Needless to say I changed my answers (three times) so that the computer spit out “architect”…that’s what I had my heart set on. Side note: After all that, I only lasted a year in architecture.

Talking in front of people for a living? Nope. Never going to happen. So glad it said I should be an architect (wink).

Fast forward to my second year of college. I was in a communications class that required prepared speeches. This wasn’t high school, and I had no choice but to talk. I remember the first speech I had to give. Note cards in hand I waited until I was the only one left. There wasn’t enough deodorant in the world to save me as I waited my turn. Why was I worried? I knew this topic so well. It was a long walk from the back right corner of the room to the front. I looked at my notecards and started talking. Shaking of course, but I kept talking. The fear started to melt away.

I did it. I spoke. In front of people. And they listened. No one gave me dirty looks. And you know what? I didn’t need the speech written word for word on my note cards. That moment changed everything for me.

Everything you read tells you to prepare, practice, and don’t be threatened. That didn’t work for me. Here’s what did work:

  • I went first. Got it over with. I couldn’t work myself into a state of panic that way.
  • I stopped worrying about myself and thought of it as helping others. I was giving information.
  • I connected with individuals. The group isn’t so scary then.
  • I don’t over-prepare. Too much planning makes me fearful of messing up.
  • I learned to be confident about what I was talking about.

When I realized that I had a purpose and was helping someone, much of that fear went away. Do I still get nervous? Yes! Especially when I’m talking in front of peers. They are so much smarter than I am which is intimidating, ha ha. But the time between the first and last sentence…that is now my comfort zone.

Turns out that high school assessment was right. I am supposed to be a college instructor. It is funny how things have a way of working out. My 17-year-old self never would have guessed.

On camera AND talking in front of people ?? I never would have imaged.

I share this because my fear almost prevented me from becoming who I am meant to be. I can’t imagine doing anything else. Fears are rough, even debilitating. Sometimes a different perspective is what it takes. I still have plenty of fears to work out. I guess I will keep looking for another perspective.

“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

The Path My Heart Chose

Here's to Dads! Start of the Trail

By Jessica Norwood, Molly Schroeder, and Ronnie Coyle Dads. They're great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it's a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father's Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father's Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently. Enjoy our Father's Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast. https://startofthetrail.com/2021/06/29/heres-to-dads/ — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/startofthetrail/message
  1. Here's to Dads!
  2. What is on Your Summer Playlist?
  3. Me-er than Me
  4. How To Be The Perfect Wedding Guest
  5. Thank You, Mom!

The journey started long ago but the fork in the road occurred on Friday, September 14, 2012.

Senior year at St. Norbert College was going great. I had new roommates, my own room, and a supportive soccer team helping to keep my head up after losing my mom six weeks prior to a blood clot. 

I was spending the afternoon with my three roommates, snacking, relaxing, and goofing around in our apartment. I had a few hours before soccer practice so of course I was eating Oreos and leaping around like a not so elegant ballerina. It was after I landed during one of those leaps that I started to feel weird.

Suddenly I was extremely lightheaded and pain started to develop in my chest. I started sweating but I was so cold. That sleeve of Oreos I just ate, was threatening to come back up. As I sat and assessed my body, my arms started to feel like they were asleep. What was going on with me?

Minutes later I was laying on the tile bathroom floor trying to cool myself off. I checked my heart rate, that seemed fine, but that feeling in my chest and arms wouldn’t go away no matter how I position my body or how big of a breath I took in. I thought, “This was an anxiety or panic attack must feel like.” That made sense, it hadn’t been that long since my mom passed away and I was stressed out with balancing school, soccer, and making sure my Dad was okay. What would my Dad do in this situation? He used to be a first responder. So I called him. The words that he said saved my life. “Have your roommates take you to the hospital. If it is an anxiety attack, the doctors will help you figure out what to do if it happens again.”

The 10-minute ride to the urgent care in De Pere was dreadful. Upon arrival, I half slumped over and stumbled into the waiting room. When it was my turn to be examed the nurses did their thing and started asking about my symptoms, family history, and ran an echocardiogram. After the echo was completed the nurse said, “If I didn’t know better, it says you are having a heart attack, but the chances of that are one in one hundred thousand.” A heart attack? WHAT? Why would she even say that? That doesn’t happen to athletes. Heart attacks only happen to overweight older men. Right?

I was then transported by ambulance to the hospital where more tests were done and more questions were asked. I hadn’t been in the hospital since my mom passed away. I was suddenly terrified that I wasn’t going to make out of there alive. What would my dad do? Our family couldn’t take another hit. This couldn’t be it.

I was alone for a half-hour in the ER when my dad walked arrived. The look of fear on his face. The look of pain, of loss, but most off all LOVE was what I needed. I was suddenly a little kid again just wanting a hug from my dad to make all of go away. He has always been my hero. I had to make it through this. I had to fight for him, for my brother and sister, my niece and nephews, for my family. We are fighters! I choose the path of fighting. No matter what happened, I wasn’t going to give up.

After three hours in the ER, I was transferred to the ICU. They still couldn’t figure out what was going on with me at that time. They knew it was something with my heart but didn’t know exactly what. After 16 hours and countless tests, they decided it was time to physically go in and look at my heart via a heart cath. They discovered that I was in fact having a heart attack. At 21 years old, a senior in college, a college athlete, my superhero shield was dented. I had a 90% blockage in my left circumflex coronary artery. Because it was “only” 90% blocked I was given medication to dissolve the clot. My heart received a little bit of damage, but I was okay. I survived.

I am a survivor. My life is much different than it was 9 years ago. I am not longer able to play contact sports and when exercising it is suggested that I keep my heart under 170 beats per minute. Only a few years ago they believe my heart attack was caused by SCAD (Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection). It is an uncommon emergency condition that occurs when a tear forms in the blood vessel in the heart. The scary thing about SCAD is that it could happen again at any moment. They also discovered that I have a hole in my heart from when I was born that could have aided in my cardiac episode and may need to be closed in the coming years. The theories are out there, but the fact is, I was lucky. Heart disease is the number one killer among men and women. Claiming more lives every year than all forms of cancer combined. In fact, every 80 seconds a women’s life is claimed by this silent killer.

9 years ago I found out I”m not a superhero, but I am a fighter. I am strong and fearless just like the powerful women that surround me every day and inspire me to keep going with a positive attitude. This is why I choose to share my story. I have chosen the path of resilience and education. I will continue to spread the message about heart disease for as long as I am able. In fact, 80% of all heart disease is preventable and we all need to start taking better care of ourselves to stop this silent killer. I hope my story has inspired you to talk to your doctor and start the conversation with the ones you love about heart disease and stroke. 

To learn more about heart disease and stroke visit heart.org


The Start of the Trail Begins

Here's to Dads! Start of the Trail

By Jessica Norwood, Molly Schroeder, and Ronnie Coyle Dads. They're great for laughs, learning, and often puns. June is wrapping up and it's a great month to celebrate all father figures! All three authors at Start of the Trail were busy celebrating Father's Day a few weeks ago. We thought it would great to share the memories we have of the dads in our lives. Did you know that Father's Day was not a nationwide holiday until 1972? I did not know this until recently. Enjoy our Father's Day edition of the blog with some special guest contributors on the podcast. https://startofthetrail.com/2021/06/29/heres-to-dads/ — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/startofthetrail/message
  1. Here's to Dads!
  2. What is on Your Summer Playlist?
  3. Me-er than Me
  4. How To Be The Perfect Wedding Guest
  5. Thank You, Mom!

To begin, the Start of the Trail is a collaborative blogging space for three authors. We will share how past experiences have shaped who we are. We will provide insights into what we are doing now. Topics such as being a heart health advocate. Promoting healthy organic eating. Learning more about our ancestry. As the title alludes to, we will share the paths we are embarking on. This includes ourselves, our families, and the causes close to us. We are at the core of this blogging project. Yet, we invite our family, friends, and new acquaintances to join us in discovery and discussion. 

I mentioned the connection to the title, let me actually define it by explaining the end. Our hopes for this blog. 

First, our purpose. “Start of the Trail is a shared Story venue for the authors to voice their thoughts and experiences. Our hope is to motivate compassion and instill a sense of connectedness. We open ourselves to bring you opportunities of reflection.” This statement is important to us. We hope you will join us in thought, also through discussion, and sharing. Sharing our collective stories.

You may also ask, “how did you come up with the title?” For me, this is a connection I have to a famous and iconic statue called The End of the Trail. The sculptor of this statue is James Earle Fraser. When I brainstormed a blog name and its purpose, I recalled a story. The story James told about why he created the sculptor. 

End of the Trail, by James Earle Fraser. Internet Archive Book Images, No restrictions, via Wikimedia Commons

James Earle Fraser’s End of the Trail is one of the most iconic works featured in The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925. First modeled in 1894, the sculpture is based on Fraser’s experiences growing up in Dakota Territory; as he wrote in his memoirs, “as a boy, I remembered an old Dakota trapper saying, ‘The Indians will someday be pushed into the Pacific Ocean.'” The artist later said that, “the idea occurred to me of making an Indian which represented his race reaching the end of the trail, at the edge of the Pacific.” In 1915, Fraser displayed a monumental plaster version of the work at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, earning popular acclaim and a gold medal.

This story shared by The Met.


It clicked.

For my ancestors. For me. For each of us, it is the start, ALWAYS. As we begin new days and new adventures, we take many journeys in our lives. We, the authors, will be sharing our journeys of obstacles, reflection, and growth. 

We encourage you to follow along. Join us as we experience many emotions. Amusement. Fear. Interest. Joy. Nostalgia. Sadness. Triumph. To name a few.

We look forward to this new project. We hope you do too.

To make sure you don’t miss a new article, could you do us a favor? 

First, go to the bottom of the Home page and Subscribe to receive email updates when we publish.

Next, follow Jessica, Molly, and me on Instagram. Links at the top of the page.

Also, consider leaving comments on the blog posts at the bottom. We would love to hear what you think and if you have any questions. 

Take care, and be safe.