GNO: Elizabeth Anderson’s Favorite Things

11255403_10204161661189127_8663793590824035785_o (1)My name is Elizabeth Anderson. I am the proud mother of two incredible sons, Tom and Sam, and we have a lovely Labradoodle named Regan. We live in Brentwood, and have some of the most amazing friends. I love reading, hiking, and being in wide-open spaces and wilderness areas.

I earned two degrees in natural resources management and fire ecology. I spent 15 years fighting fires and lighting prescribed burns for the US Forest Service and National Park Service. I am currently the Chief Operating Officer of Wildland Fire Associates, a company I helped found in 2001.

Recently, I pressed “Publish” for the first time on my brand new blog, “Out of the Desert“. Hope to see you there! 

When I started to think about my favorite things, I realized that they have three things in common. The first is that I love to travel to beautiful places, and these places have become the spaces that I mentally return to when I need to relax and breathe. The second thing that they have in common is that some of my favorite people were often present with me. And as you will see, military history appears to be an unexpected third common thread…

My Favorite Place to Travel: A little over a year ago my sons and I travelled to Hawaii. I was drawn to Hawaii because I love the ocean and wanted to find a place where the demands of everyday life would be left far behind. We did some sightseeing – Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach and Waimea Canyon. But the best part of the trip, and the place that has become one of my favorite places in the world was a strip of beach on Kauai near our hotel. There were large wooden swings situated so that you could watch the sunset as you listened to the surf roll in. I spent several evening sitting here with my sons, wonderfully lost to the world at large.

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My Favorite Song/Musician: During a particularly rough patch in my life I saw a Facebook post from a FB friend — someone I have never met, but who is a cousin of a very good friend, and someone I hope to meet someday. She posted a YouTube video of the U2 Song “Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”. I do not remember hearing the song before, but the lyrics hit me like a much-needed splash of cold water. The song pointed me to a set of memories that needed to be excised from the Greatest Hits reel of failures, hard times, and yet-to-be-determined failures and embarrassments that I was sure were looming on the near horizon, but hadn’t yet happened.

The song allowed that “moment” to pass, and I finally saw the truth about what had happened and how much better my life turned out as a result. Since their debut album, U2 has always been one of my favorite music groups, but this song has put them near the top of the list.


My Favorite Drink: This summer I traveled with my family to northwestern Wyoming and western Montana. We hiked in and toured Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks, visited Montana State University (on a short list for my older son), Glacier National Park, and the trip ended with a visit to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. Montana is known for several excellent microbreweries, and I found what has become my favorite beer – the Porter from Cold Smoke Brewery in Missoula.

Although I had the Porter a few times on the trip, I had a glass with dinner at the St. Mary’s Lodge on the east side of Glacier National Park at a restaurant with a stunning view of the mountains with the setting sun reflecting gorgeous pink, purple and gold colors on receding storm clouds. My current favorite coffee also came from this trip, Montana Coffee Traders Grizzly Blend.

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My Favorite Quote: My brother lived close to the World War II Desert Training Center in the Southern California Desert where General George S. Patton trained troops for the invasion of Northern Africa and later of Europe. After touring the museum I became interested in Patton and started reading about his life and military exploits. I found that he has a unique, often crass, but laser-like understanding of human nature that is reflected in many of his quotes and observations. My favorite quote reflects how I approach most things in my life, and is: “If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn’t thinking.” – Patton


My Favorite Childhood Friend:  My favorite adult friend turns out to be my favorite childhood friend. Connie is the first person I call with the good news of the day and with the tragedies. I met Connie when I had to transfer to another elementary school when mine closed after my second grade year. She was most often the first person I looked for upon arriving at school, and most definitely one that I sought out at lunch during the junior high years. We did however have to avoid each other at one Homecoming because we hadn’t had the “what are you wearing” conversation and arrived wearing the same dress — same color, but her skirt was pleated and mine was not. Pretty horrifying at the time, definitely funny now.

Connie’s parents moved away the summer before 11th grade, and my last two years of high school – especially field hockey and cheerleading — were not as colorful. Although we drifted apart during college and early career years, we always reconnected at some point. Connie joined my sons and I on a vacation in San Diego. She was my navigator and graciously took the boys into the USS Midway conning tower when the tour guide said “seriously, if you are claustrophobic, don’t take this tour,” and I decided that touring the flight deck was a better fit for me – wide open spaces and all…

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(USS Midway image courtesy of Times of San Diego)

Your friend,
Elizabeth


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