What I Did on My Summer Vacation

Contributed by Karen O’Connor
(Past President, Central Office Manager, 2017 Conference Chair)

How was your summer?  Do you ever think of the old school assignment as we go back to fall classes, “What I did on My Summer Vacation?”.  I wish this were part of my homework right now, and maybe it is, since I’ve just started a course about classroom blogging through Fresno Pacific self- paced professional development division.

This was a busy summer for me, as I completed a 12 week five-unit class on the state rubric for online standards and practices, taught six online courses totaling eight units all together (over eight weeks), prepared for your upcoming annual conference, and travelled a mini Western Business Education Association (geographically speaking) seven-week eight state/province tour with my husband on our Goldwing.  In addition, I lost 27 pounds and he 35, due in part to a low carb diet we launched around the time I last wrote for your Bulletin.  That’s pretty much the tip of the ice berg.  We also logged a good 200 miles of hiking under our belts (which is a lot smaller these days) hiking in the hills around my home in Ridgecrest bolstering the healthy weight loss since mid-March and the CBEA board leadership meeting which was also held at my home this past year to help save CBEA $ we could not afford to spend otherwise.

First of all, as you know I have written before about diet and health in previous articles, and I just want you to know that it IS possible to keep a balance of work and health and that sometimes we can get the recipe just right for all of our goals to come to fruition at the same time.  You may remember that the year after I was president the first time around (2012) I had breast cancer. I was a lucky duck, as it was caught early and I did not need chemo or radiation, just an eight-hour surgery to get things on track, and everything got better from there.  This has made our family even more appreciative of special time together and even more assertive about pursuing future health in a day-to-day deliberate way.  I have long thought, teachers give so much to others every day, what do you give to your own health, every day. Because it does need every day attention.  You deserve every day attention to your health and when the old container body gets that, for me anyway, it really responds.

For James and I, the ketogenic diet has been a great choice and one we made based on our DNA since we know certain things from having that information through 23andme.  It’s basically a low carb plan, and we try to stick to 20 net carbs a day, maybe 25 on the road.  We use the kitchen scale a lot for weighing portions.  Some of the food has made us laugh, since it is so not like a normal diet.  Google these recipes to see what I mean:

  • Keto Lava Cake
  • The Only Keto Pancake Recipe You Ever Need
  • Keto 1-minute Breakfast Muffins
  • Fat Head Keto Pizza Crust or Fat Head Keto Crackers
  • Three ingredient Keto Chocolate Mouse

Tying this into our travels, we left a swath of friends and relatives that proved they would “rather join than fight us” on our menu choices, and if this diet were a pyramid scheme we’d be rich for all the pounds lost behind us on our travels as I can think of at least a hundred pounds of reports of weight lost while and after we visited folks, and at least a dozen people who are continuing with our same plan.

Now, even students in James’ class can barely recognize him in his size 32 pants when he could barely fit the 38’s last March.  One welding student who had a heart transplant and needs to lose 35 pounds has reported this week a two-pound loss in two days as he was impressed by example and has been converted without anyone trying.

What does this have to do with teaching?  Well we are examples for our students, so that is a good start. We also need energy to do what we do, and that is no small thing. The first couple to three weeks of “adapting” to the keto diet made me a bit sleepy, but now that I’ve been at this for nearly six months now, the extra energy phase has found me in full.   This was a summer where all of the work really paid off, as we hadn’t travelled for two years due to having moved in 2015 and my office being built in 2016.

We started our touring early in June with a quick week trip to Tuscon Arizona, the first of my WBEA state tour.  During this week before my classes began, I was well into my 12-week course I was taking and it turned out to be the heaviest technology week (wouldn’t you know) for me to achieve on my travelling laptop. Here is where my first ever instructional welcome video was created in a room at the Marriott Starr Pass Resort.  Here is where I learned to caption on YouTube, only mildly grumpy that one whole day of my vacation did not see the spa, while I focused on my homework.  Did you ever notice how good it is to be a student when you are a teacher? It reminds us of student perspective like nothing else!

Our motorcycle didn’t mind us having collectively lost over 50 pounds as I took my teaching summer on the road.  Our travels took us from east to west on America’s loneliest highway to another new National Park and a cavern tour in Great Basin National Park Nevada.  From Ely we then travelled through Utah to a night in Provo and from Provo we really got out of the heat as we headed through beautiful Wyoming and I was able to make a snowball up at 11,000 feet on the pass that led us to Afton Wyoming. From there we headed up to Bozeman, Montana, the site of last year’s WBEA conference so I could take James to Bridger Brewing Co. which we toured for WBEA. YES we had a bit of a day off from too low carbs as we tasted the best flight of beer I have ever experienced and a nice chat with the brew master that had served us back on that snowy February day.  The next leg brought us to Missoula by backroads where we couldn’t avoid Interstate 90 through Idaho to Dry Falls Washington.  Here we landed for a couple of weeks while I finished my OESP 12-week class and presented my online course sample to the reviewers to earn an additional 2.0 units. (Courses were all through @ One and I highly recommend.) We managed a breathtaking hike up the “great blade notch” which you can find by Google as well, and shimmied up a couple more cracks in the rocks to get even higher up over the coolie.  James got some great drone pictures from his BeeBop 2 by Parrot.

The last leg north on HWY 97 took us to Kaleden/Penticton British Columbia and the home of four grandkids, two sons, one whom is also a teacher as is his wife.  Grandkids grow a lot in a year at ages 4, 8 and 10!  I was able to call this place home for three weeks and finished up my eight weeks of teaching in one spot.  The return trip home provided sweet days in Idaho, with rests in Sandpoint, Salmon, and Twin Falls.  Elko Nevada was next, and then Sparks.  We left Sparks at 3:30 am on the last day so we could avoid the heat and found ourselves nearly freezing at 10,000 feet through Mono Lake area, in the super early morning hours.  It was good to use all that warming gear we had hauled so many miles, even though it was on the last day. When we were about 50 miles out, James said, how far do you think we have travelled this summer? I said, let me think about it and for the next five minutes mentally added up the legs of the journey we had so enjoyed.  After about five minutes I said, “maybe 3800 miles, but that might be a bit over”.  We rolled down the eastern Sierra through Cerro Coso’s beautiful service area all the way to Ridgecrest by 10:30 am and said hello to our home after a seven-week absence!  James checked the final mileage:  3715 miles.  I guess I noticed every single mile of our long-awaited journey.

So, in case you were wondering, things haven’t calmed down much since we got home August 5, though the online classes have ended.  Not only have the fall classes started, now I have switched into high gear to get your annual conference in order.  I’ve also started one last class I need on the topic of Classroom Blogging.  I’ve started a blog myself finally where you can read about our travels and see pictures at ttps://notesfromkaren.wordpress.com/.  My latest course quest through Fresno Pacific should prove valuable as I want to integrate blogging with my Office gateway class and get the students writing their way through their studies to the capstone. I’m interested in whether YOU use blogging in the classroom, so next time please write about it okay?

Thanks for reading my example of James and I blend health, work, and play, pre-retirement! We can’t save everything for later.  Cheers to adventure and productivity mixed!

Look for more on the topic of health/balance/work/happiness from our Saturday keynote luncheon speaker, Michael Kane (CTE Dean Cerro Coso Community College), author of Appalachian Trail Happiness.


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