Category Archives: Musings

You can’t take my bag away from me

My first hormonal moment of pregnancy (at least recognized) happened at the counter at an R.E.I. in Missoula, Mont., this summer. My sleeping bag’s zipper had broken and they said they couldn’t repair it, only replace it with a different bag. The new version of the bag did not have the same features as my original, and paled in comparison in every aspect imaginable. But how useful is a zero-degree sleeping bag that won’t zip?

While the employee found the original transaction, entered information in for the exchange and rang up the new bag, a lump grew in my throat. “That will be $14 difference,” the man said. “Actually,” I said, my voice getting progressively higher, “I think I’m OK with this one.” I ran out the store hugging my bag, tears streaming down my face. My husband could only shrug apologetically and follow me out the door.

The R.E.I. in Portland, Ore., by the way, does such repairs for free. So the story has a happy ending.



Filed under Poignantly Pathetic Moments

Aggrieved hormonal pregnant lady

It has been a while since I’ve added — well, anything to this blog — but I have especially neglected my “Poignantly Pathetic Moments” series. I believe the following letter I sent this morning explains it all.

Hello Costco corporate,
I’m writing to let you know that I will never ever ask for another Costco Cash Card as a gift again.

Two months ago my brother-in-law gave us a card, which I tried to activate at the store after a long shopping trip. Little did I know that I would need the shipping-to phone number. It was a gift. Why would anyone buy one for him or herself? After trying several times with phone numbers I thought would work, I called the help center in India (I presume) where after finally reaching a human who said he’d transfer me to someone who could help, the line disconnected after I waited on hold for a bit.

Finally by the grace of your wonderful front floor manager, Jason, of the Arvada, Colo., store, we activated the card. He spent some time on hold as well with the phone representatives. All in all it was a 45-minute ordeal.

I should tell you here that I am a hormonal pregnant lady. Living an hour away, I had my cart filled to the brim and I just wanted to go home after a long day in Denver. I was quite the pathetic picture, crying out of frustration and frayed nerves while the Kirkland chicken breasts slowly reached room temperature in my basket.

Please stop selling Costco Cash cards, as they only bring tears and angst.

Thank you,
Emily Mulica


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Overheard in Victoria’s Secret

A while back I was shopping in a Victoria’s Secret outside of Portland, Ore., when a man came in to buy a present for his wife. He was a dusty mustached type wearing double denim and best framed by his pickup truck and faithful dog. When the saleswoman asked about the measurements of the man’s wife, he replied, “Well, she’s about your size, but boy does she have hips.” Hand gestures included.

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Alone with my principles

Last week I snuck up the hill to do some mid-week skiing. Driving from Golden to A-Basin over Loveland Pass means encountering skiers & boarders hitching their way back up after a run down the main gully. Loveland Pass is a very popular and accessible backcountry route. All good stuff.

Here lies the rub: Not one hitchhiker we’ve ever given a ride to at Loveland Pass has any avalanche gear. It’s always the same reasoning, “Well here you don’t need it.” (As long as you stay on the main trail, some add.)

Courtesy of

A 2009 avalanche at Loveland Pass. The slide visible in the picture broke close to 4-feet at its deepest and ran several hundred vertical feet. Photo courtesy of Bob Berwyn,

While that may be true (if one stays on the main trail; those without gear that decide to hike up are playing burial roulette), I have two qualms surrounding that argument. First, we’re in a major avalanche cycle, with the possibility of seeing avalanches bigger than we’ve seen in decades. (Check out these crazy pics!)

My bigger bugaboo with people riding & skiing Loveland Pass sans gear is the norm we’re supporting. A culture of “no big deal” in the backcountry. With more and more folks venturing out to earn their turns than ever before, I feel that picking up hitchhikers without proper gear tacitly supports that ethos.

These days we’ll only give rides to people with at least the basic gear.

So it went, when last week I scurried up for a morning of looping Pali before responsibilities brought me back to the foothills. There were two snowboarders and one one skier with their thumbs out. With limited time and icy road conditions, I decided to thin slice.

If there are no friends on a powder day, there are definitely no new snowboarder hitchhiking friends. Stopping to see if they had gear, then giving them the, “Sorry, I’d really like to give you a ride, but …” would suck up precious ski time and 6 new inches called my name. So I drove on by. The lone miser in her warm Subaru.

No friends on a powder day.

Surprise, surprise, they sent me knife-blade hate glares loaded with “WTF?”

I suppose I should have given them the benefit of the doubt and stopped. What if they each did have a beacon, probe and shovel? But as aforementioned, I was dangerously close to spending more time driving than skiing that morning.

Still, I felt badly about it. So my question is, did I do the right thing? And, what is my karmic balance from such a move?


Filed under Musings, Outdoor & Adventure

Turn! Turn! Turn! My season of Little Green

Whenever I see a late-nineties Ford Ranger, I can’t help but gaze wistfully in its direction and think of my own, Little Green. If the driver fits the description of the most common owner of this vehicle (don’t know why, when or how, but I did come across this fact a while back), he is a middle-aged man … who now thinks I am checking him out.

Yesterday while driving home to Golden from Denver I saw one and shed a tear. Sometimes that happens. While I loved Little Green, she just wasn’t practical in Colorado with her rear-wheel drive. But I sure enjoyed the 6+ years she took me from point A to point B and beyond.

Little Green represents a forgone time in my life. A time when all I owned fit in her bed. When I would toss a backpack and large Tupperware tub in the back and be off to whatever whim of an adventure fit my fancy.

Everything about her spelled out independence.

The used-car dealer didn’t view me as a serious customer when I walked on the lot to check out vehicles. A 20-year-old college coed with no cosigner or assets, just a favor from a roommate to give me a ride to used car lots. After the first test drive I fell in love and not so savvily said, “And I could name her Little Green!” The only negotiation tick in my favor was the unbelievability I’d find a way to pay.

After a go-ahead from a mechanic and a successful trip to the local credit union, I walked back in the sales office ready to wheel and deal. To this day I’ve never seen a more pronounced jaw-drop. “You got financed?” the salesman asked, and by the time he agreed to new tires he grumbled, “I still need to make some money on the deal.”

From then on out it was Little Green and me. She moved me from the college I attended at the time in Illinois to Buena Vista, Colo, where I taught outdoor school. Then east for a newspaper internship in Boston (where I used only one tank of gas during the entire summer because I was used to roads with signs & drivers who stopped at yellow lights, from growing up driving in Oregon and California).

From Boston I packed Little Green up with my worldly belongings to move back west to Boulder, Colo., then to Portland to finish up my undergraduate degree. Though she stayed home during my postgraduate internship at the newspaper in Skagway, Alaska, I knew she waited faithfully for me in my folks’ garage in Oregon.

Sure enough Little Green heeded the call after I scored a reporter job in the Tetons. A year or so later, from Teton Valley, Idaho, she took me back to Portland, and then east to Aspen and then she finally landed in Golden, Colo.

Eventually with regular wintertime trips up to the mountains from Colorado’s Front Range, and lack of passenger ability, I realized it was time to find a new home for Little Green. I sold her to a former mechanic. Music to my ears and tantamount to giving your dog to a ranch where he can run and play all day. (Though the latter to me is tantamount to giving away your child.)

Little Green represents an innocent time. Filled with road trips to Southern California to visit family. A solo overnight backpack in Joshua Tree. From Newport Beach to the Collegiate Peaks, she was my adventure mobile. She was that time in between childhood and adulthood.

The author waving goodbye before heading off in the wee hours of the morning for another of many roadtrips.

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Nom de maiden de plume de who?

Ramping up my freelance writing career coincided with getting married, leaving all kinds of fun decision when it comes to my name. My plan was to keep Palm as a second middle name (who says one must be restricted to one?) as well as maintaining “Emily Palm” as my pen name. Then, when it comes to “normal” goings on, I’m “Emily Mulica” or “Emily Allison Palm Mulica,” if you’re not into the whole brevity thing.

Turns out my clean little plan isn’t so straightforward. For example, when requesting press passes, am I Emily Palm or Emily Mulica? Furthermore, when I introduce myself to sources I interview for articles, I’m sure it lends to my credibility when I begin bumbling, “You see, Palm is my maiden name, but now I’m using it …” blah, blah, blah.

Another wrench I’m monkeying with began when I wrote my ski column last year as “Emily Mulica,” before I developed my fail-proof name situation. Today I turn in my first ski column for this season, for the three people that might remember, will they wonder why “Steep Shots” was written by “Emily Mulica” last year and now it’s “Emily Palm”?

I have a hunch that people don’t think about me that often, so the segue will be a non-issue. However, it certainly begs the question, who the hell do I think I am?


Filed under Musings

Random bit of writing I just found…

In an old 3″x5″ notepad I found something I wrote years ago. I don’t know why. Neither do I really know why I’m posting it now. Enjoy 🙂

Despite the fact Ali was an overweight midget, he never had a problem finding a lady friend. Perhaps it was his utmost loyalty, for he believed life’s worth lied in serving others. Maybe it was the tender care he gave his widowed mother and two younger sisters.

Most likely it was the fact he arguably was the most romantic midget to walk the face of the earth. But with his penchant for passion came a crux, while he considered himself to be a serial monogamist, none of his romantic relationships exceeded two years.

Maybe his love was too great, he had to share it. Maybe he idealized his lady loves too much in the beginning. Either way, he set off one morning from his home along the Niger River to find a love that would last.

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