Monday, August 27, 2012

Context Clues

I am a big fan of collecting quotes of the day. I just love looking back on them and laughing until I snort/cry/drool all over again. Sometimes it takes me a minute to remember the context and it makes them even more bizarre and hilarious. I thought I would flick through my notebook and share a few with you. (You can highlight between the brackets below the quotes to get the context - I know I always read ahead when I'm curious so I'm hiding it for cheating readers like me). WARNING: it's heavy on Nepal my travel journals are the ones I currently have with me. One day I will stop talking about it. Not soon though. ;)

"It was painful, but it was surprisingly acceptable."
[Markus referring to having his foot run over by a car.]

"There is dog cheese?!"
[My niece misunderstanding something my brother said. Still not sure what he actually did say.]

"Why does it always hurt when I'm with you?"
[Me referring to Alex and the fact that I always get a sideache from laughing so damn hard with him. I have been mocked ever since lol]

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fun with Collages

On my trip I took a series of photo collages to put together at a future date.  With our internet being down the last few days, I have had some offline computer time to work on them.  Here are a few for your viewing pleasure. *they should open into a new window to let you look at the big versions up close*

River in Soppong
I will probably redo this collage a bit as it was my first attempt and I learned a lot from the following two.  I love the colors though!  Yafit and I played in this waterfall for quite a while our last day in Soppong.  It's got a natural, mini water slide at the bottom and a few bathing pools up top.  Pretty much perfect.

Rae of Light

After participating in two and a half months of what I can only describe as felony-grade nacho abuse, I have recently been immensely pleased to discover that I am, in fact, much more fit now than I was six months ago.  Apparently the progress made over three months of carrying a backpack, walking, hiking, climbing, swimming, playing, jumping, diving, cartwheeling and being indoors only while sleeping cannot be entirely undone by two months of binge eating, bonding with Morpheus*, binge drinking, road-tripping or the consumption of SIX seasons of How I Met Your Mother.

I fixed up Rae this weekend (changing a flat and giving her a much needed scrub down to remove the cobwebs, dirt and slugs that built up in my absence) and I have been amazed at how much easier riding is now compared to February.  When I arrived in Utah, freshly back from a month of all-day-every-day hiking, I noticed a significant difference in my fitness.  Suddenly I found myself on my bike at the tops of hills I never would have even thought about going up before.  And not only at the top of them but at the top of them without being out of breath or wanting to die.  In fact, I felt more energized and excited to keep going.

What I did not expect, however, was that after a not-so-brief stint of laziness and excess in the States I would find the same thing happening in London.  I am currently staying at the top of a big hill but it's been noticeably easier to get back here after a long night out than it ever was before.  For the last two years I have had several markers along Shoot Up Hill to see if my abilities were improving - willing myself to just get to the first tree, the bus stop, the street sign.  Now I get to the top without having to coach myself at all.  I'm riding faster and stronger than I ever did before, all as a result of no purposeful training whatsoever.  The only change in my life was going from a desk job and studying to walking around all day every day - often while carrying a backpack....or a pina colada.  I guess it just goes to show that being even a little more active every single day does really add up after all.

*for the uninitiated, Morpheus is the obscenely seductive sofa who lives at my parents' house.  He will suck you down the rabbit hole faster than you can say, "why oh why didn't I take the blue pill."

Monday, August 20, 2012

Computer Says "1877"

In the first installment of random image search based story-telling, I shall tell you about this photo:

This may not seem like a photo worth a lot of words but it certainly is!  A great start for our trip down memory lane.

Attached to this as-yet-unidentified grey blob of animal/vegetable/mineral is the key that unlocked the door to our room on nights 19 and 21 of the Annapurna trek (April 30 and May 2).  More specifically to Room 6 of the Namaste Bamboo Guest House and Restaurant in Bamboo.  We scored this quad-room at a bargain the first night after I used my feminine charms to barter with the hotel owner.  Okay okay, it was probably because she pitied my feeble negotiation attempts and more likely the result of her agreeing to my terms quickly so as to get me and my offensive hiking odor out of her kitchen as quickly as possible.  When we returned from Annapurna Base Camp two nights later she handed us the key as if we come every week.  She was a lovely lady indeed and we were all terrified of her.

Highlights of our two nights here included cat showers, hot chocolate, and some serious bridge playing.  Let's take it one at a time:

Friday, August 17, 2012

An Experiment

In preparing to review my travels, I found myself organizing thousands of photos across four memory cards. That's a lot of pictures!! In what will seem a non-sequitor, I recently attended a ukulele flash mob at Trafalgar Square, followed by the weekly ukulele rock session at a nearby pub. The group of devoted players recently found a way (aided by my lovely friend Tanja) to shake up their routine and try some new songs: a random number generator. Instead of playing a fairly regular set list, they now challenge themselves to play whatever comes up next on the screen. I would like to do the same. From time to time I will use a generator to determine which photo I pull up and write a little about it. Let’s see where this takes us!

Six Months

Crazy as it may seem, today marks the six month anniversary of the beginning of my big adventure.
In that time I:

  • circumnavigated the globe
  • rode camels in India
  • explored canyons in Thailand 
  • crossed one of the highest passes in Nepal / the world
  • sent dozens of postcards around the world 
  • explored tent rocks in New Mexico
  • floated the Bitterroot in Montana
  • road tripped across Utah
  • hiked through ruins in Colorado 
  • saw everyone in my immediate family 
  • saw very nearly everyone in my extended family 
  • celebrated
    • two 1st birthdays
    • one 90th birthday
    • one 100 1/2 birthday
    • three graduations - representing four master's degrees
    • more July birthdays than I can count
  • ate disgusting amounts of curry, noodle soup, and nachos
  • learned all kinds of new card games - and a new favorite game night game (watch out, I have been known to break it out pretty regularly recently!)
  • cheered on teams USA and GB with equal gusto in rooms/parks full of screaming people 
  • and happily settled back into a life with a little more routine and down time - though we all know that can't last for long ;) 
It's been a pretty incredible ride.  It hasn't always been fun and it hasn't always been easy.  Some of the challenges I have faced in the last six months have been the hardest in my life.  Travel really is a crazy and unpredictable beast.  I can honestly say it pushed my physical, emotional, and mental boundaries in ways I never could have expected.  At times I hated it and wanted to go home.  At times I loved it and was overwhelmed with how incredibly blessed I am and how beautiful this world is.  It broke me down, it got me dirty, it scared me, it made me sick.  It strengthened my confidence, my resolve, and my understanding of the world.  It took me away from people and places I love.  It brought me new friends and opened room in my heart for wonderful new destinations.  

I've been lucky enough to share some of my experiences with many of you in person but there are still so many stories to tell.  My ability to post was severely limited by technology (particularly in Nepal - hard to do anything without power) and the fact that I was constantly on the go.  Looking back, I see that I did post more than I remember but not nearly as much as I wanted to.  In reading my posts I see hidden elements of other stories I didn't have time to share and allusions to post that never came.  So over the next few weeks I am going to fill in some of the gaps on some stories both small and large.  I look forward to reliving the memories with you :)