Back on the Trail – Eyes toward Stok Kangri

It may be seven months off, but when you’re headed towards the ripe old age of 57, and there is a  20,000 foot mountain  called Stok Kangri beckoning you, you have to respond to its call with a training regime. Unfortunately I was just gearing up my program when all hell broke loose at work, which has wreaked havoc with my workout plans, but I’m doing my best.

One place J and I re-visited a couple of weekends ago was our old favorite, the Cady Way Trail. We started to hike it back in 2011 when we were preparing for Kilimanjaro and I’ve been meaning to write about it since day 1 of this blog. In fact, there’s still a partially written post in the drafts folder.

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Over the last six years we’ve watched this urban/suburban trail change – almost a microcosm of the larger world around it. Case in point – there was a little rundown house we always used to look at with a slight sense of incredulity. The windows were cracked, the washer and dryer resided in a strange outdoor closet, and my personal favorite was the trough for feeding the owners’ collection of pit bulls. Six years later – the house was gutted, windows replaced, the outdoor washer and dryer vanished, and landscaping has substituted for  the dog feeding trough.

Cady Way is long and hot and winds between the backs of houses, past a little used golf course (or so it seems), by a high school and culminates in a high pedestrian bridge that passes over one of Orlando’s long wide boulevards, studded on either side with Mexican restaurants and car lots. Oh – at the far end of the trail there is a beautiful little memorial area to remind hikers of a couple of brutal murders that occurred there a few years back.

Aside from the normal prurient interest in getting to see everyone’s backyards abutting the trail – the most interesting place is an odd building that was part of the old Naval Training Center. J and I are convinced it’s a listening center for the military – that location that’s monitoring cell phone traffic. All we know is there are never any people present, there’s a loud hum, there’s an odd asphalt track that he runs around a field for no apparent reason, lots of gas canisters and double barbed wire fences. There’s no telling what it really is – but it certainly lends itself to speculation on what can otherwise be a brutally boring hike. (In face, we’ve never photographed it for fear of being observed!)

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Cady Way has no spectacular sites, no vistas, and only a few spots that even qualify as “natural.” But it’s long (10 plus miles round trip), it’s really hot (and hence meets my theory about stressing your body for high altitude), and the little changes that you see year by year create just enough interest. By now it’s like an old friend that’s giving an “atta girl” to help me get up that mountain.

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Hurricanes, Tornadoes and Surge, Oh My

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I wanted to start posting about our next summit plan – which is still in a nascent stage – but events in my home state of Florida have preempted that.  We were here for Charlie’s visit in 2004, followed by his pals, Jeanne, Frances, and Ivan Jr. Last year, Matthew decided to call, but he was shy and hugged the coast, never getting up the nerve to come in.

Not so with Irma. One of the stylists at the salon where I got my hair cut the Saturday before the storm (if one is going to go, go out in style) described Irma as a “mean old church lady – the type who stands at the door and makes you spit out your gum.” They were actually boarding up the windows as the last snips were being taken on their clients’ hair.

Well, Irma certainly displayed those characteristics and more. My office closed after work Thursday and remained closed through Tuesday. This was all to allow lawyers and staff to engage in that great Florida tradition of preparing for the storm, living through the storm, and then undoing all the preparations you’ve made. For those of you newbies to hurricane land, this involves things like: Moving all the porch furniture in. We lined our 4 front porch rocking chairs up in front of the front windows – a little slice of porch in the living room. Carrying the canoe from a far corner of the yard and balancing it atop two ladders in the garage where it presently hangs over all the other junk we store in the garage. Bringing at least 25 potted plants inside for temporary shelter in the home office. You get the picture. And let’s not forget making ice and worrying about all the frozen food you just bought at Trader Joe’s.

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After days of anticipation the stress level here in Orlando was so thick it could be cut with a knife. And Saturday into Sunday no one could believe it when Charlie’s story repeated itself and Irma decided she wasn’t interested in the Gulf Coast vibe of Tampa and instead would go due north, making almost a beeline for an area just west of Orlando. I awakened about 4 am or so, having heard wind howling and trees crashing for hours. Based on Facebook posts, more people were awake than asleep the entire night.

The wind lasted well into Monday.

We fared well. Believe it or not, we did not lose power. We either paid our dues during our 8 day loss with Charlie and karma was with us this time – or the replacement poles and wires were stronger. We do have a tabebuia tree leaning 30 degrees toward our house and no tree people anywhere in sight to help. And portions of fence are down with not a single 4×4 fencepost to be found. The neighborhood lost multiple hundred plus year old live oaks. But compared to those who still don’t have electricity or whose houses were wrecked by flooding – we were very lucky.

We have just planned a last minute spur of the moment trip to visit daughter A and boyfriend N in New Bedford, Massachusetts. I’m looking forward to some hurricaneless weather. Oh, wait, there’s another guy possibly looking for a place to stay in the Northeast. His name is Hurricane Jose.

Lake Apopka Loop Trail, Florida – Amid the Alligators

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We were supposed to start at 9:30. Which still wasn’t early enough given the projected mid-90s temperature – but would certainly have been preferable to 10:30 when we finally set off on the Lake Apopka Loop Trail. I had heard great things about the trail from someone who hiked parts of it in the fall. Her account omitted two facts. 1. It’s not a loop. 2. There is absolutely no shade.

The trailhead (it turns out there are two, since, as mentioned, it’s not a loop), is fifteen miles from downtown Orlando.  It starts in a park in some lightly populated areas.  For years Lake Apopka was one of the filthiest lakes in Florida. Victim to agricultural runoff, the lake was basically dead. But a few years back the state started buying up the surrounding farmland, and recreated the wetlands that had previously existed.

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The birds have come back – I’m not sure about the fish, but the alligators have definitely returned. More in that below.  And there are more dragonflies, grasshoppers, moths, butterflies, and of course mosquitoes than one can count.

The trail goes around the northern part of the lake, and is approximately 14.5 miles in each direction. The part we hiked is compressed gravel and dirt. It follows the top of a narrow levee a few feet high that separates wetlands from the lake. In a few places the water can flow under the levee. In a hurricane, it would be wiped out.

The levee had more significance after we spoke with a couple at the beginning of the trail. They pointed out an alligator head poking out of the green algae and remarked how many they had heard further down the trail. A few feet of elevation was a good thing.

Although you might not technically be in the middle of nowhere, Lake Apopka Loop Trail feels like it. As we walked along the endlessly flat path, the palms and rushes cleared on one side to reveal an enormous vista of the lake. There were hardly any boats – I think we saw one all day.

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Looking up from our boots and the white grey trail provided some variety . Ospreys, hawks, falcons, herons, and anhingas drying their wings. And although we couldn’t see them, to our sides we could hear a remarkable amount of life in the swampy water. Ducks and frogs, but most startling of all were the grunts of alligators. I started to have fantasies about what we’d do if we encountered one sprawled across the path in front of us. And then suppose we turned around, only to find one lying across the trail in that direction also.

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Such thoughts were getting me nowhere. We finally saw an informational billboard with a trail map – and realized the trail did  not in fact go around the whole lake. If we’d planned to hike 14.5 miles, as we had originally planned in the cool of our air conditioned house, we were going to have to hike 14.5 miles back also. Despite the hot noonday sun, common sense kicked in and we decided to hike 5 miles out and 5 back. We stopped at mile 4 at what appears to be the only historic landmark – an old pump house with a shelter where there was at least a vestige of shade. There’s a marshy lake nearby where we counted at least 15 alligators. My Kind bar had completely melted.

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The next mile is open to vehicles for a wild life drive and we finally saw some other humans, most of whom looked at us as though we had lost our minds. By that point we might have.

At mile 5 we turned around and tried an even brisker paced for our return. By now we were completely drenched and the heat index was well over 100. Even the alligators had gone to sleep, and  now the spookiness of the trail came from the eerie silence.

After a couple of miles, we saw a black shadow down the trail, about the size of a bear.  I saw no way that a bear could possibly reside in this environment but J pointed out they habituate easily….as we drew closer, we found ourselves face to face with an older English gentlemen on a motorized scooter. He was hooked up to an oxygen tank, and was apparently just out for a sightseeing ride. He was by himself, which didn’t seem like a good idea in the best of circumstances given the warnings at the beginning that you were to buddy up before starting the hike. In any event, we had a nice conversation- although I couldn’t resist a quip about mad dogs and Englishmen. After he’d had a rest he trundled along, soon overtaking us.

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We finally made it back to the old faithful minivan. J suddenly had a complete dehydration or heat stroke experience that started with nausea and then left him with an enormous leg cramp. I’d moved over to the drivers seat but even in the passenger seat he couldn’t stretch out the cramp. It began to pour on  the 15 mile drive back – one of those blinding Florida rains where you can only see six feet in front of you. But all I could keep thinking was that at least I wasn’t trapped between two alligators! That put everything else in perspective.

Climber the Cat – A Tale of Orlando

Granted, the story of my cat hardly seems thematically appropriate for a blog centered around swamps and summits with some stops in between. But Edmund Hillary Climber arrived in our lives 15 years or so ago from about 70 feet up a tree. I figure that qualifies.

Way back – when the girls were young and the dogs a year old, if that – we became aware that a scrawny dehydrated orange tabby cat had taken up residence in a very tall laurel oak tree that resided on the no man’s land between us and the back yards of two of our neighbors.

We tried to ignore his plaintive meows, presuming he’d find his way down. But he didn’t. That particular tree – which is no longer, having taken a massive hit during Hurricane Charlie -leaned at an odd angle, and  the reams of Spanish moss that coated its trunk deterred any creature of normal intelligence from trying to make its way down.

It was probably a Sunday when we first became aware of him. Monday he was still in the tree, despite the repeated attempts of the girls to lure him down with tins of tuna.  I found myself driving back home at lunch to  see if there had been a breakthrough. Suit and high heels on, I climbed up on a stool, waving about a can of cat food, in the vain hope this would cause a descent.

By Wednesday I’d had enough. Didn’t fire departments assist with cat tree extraction? My assistant at the time was married to a firefighter and gave me the non emergency fire number. Sure enough, that morning they met us at our house, got their ladders out, scaled the tree and tried to lure the cat down, but to no avail.

Thursday he was still in the tree. By now I was worried. How long could an animal  actually live in an oak tree 70 feet above ground with access only to condensation for water. Friday rolled around. It seemed to me there was no choice but another call to the fire department. J looked at me incredulously. “You cannot just keep calling the fire department to rescue a cat. There could be real fires.” He let it go that time but I truly belie

ve a third call to the fire department would have resulted in divorce.

The second set of fire department guys showed up. They told me they would try to get him down by spraying him with the fire hose and reminded me of the old fire fighters’ adage that you don’t find dead cats in trees.  I asked about the ladders and they assured me they were not allowed to use ladders for cat rescues. I could hardly say that the first set of fire department cat rescuers had indeed put up the ladders!

Finally, by the next weekend, hunger and thirst must have become too much. Climber, as he became known, with the girls, I and a neighbor child watching, swung himself down the awkward facing trunk, through the banks of Spanish moss, and emerged on the ground, all in one piece.

After quickly christening him Edmund Hillary Climber H****,  we kept him in the garage one night and took him off to the vet for shots the very next day.

He proceeded to live a full and I hope happy life for another 15 or so years. He was the smartest cat I’ve ever had. He could open any levered door. My favorite story involves an evening when – before we knew of his door opening propensities – we had gone to the Shakespeare festival one night with friends – without double locking the door. We returned home to find the dogs sitting on the porch, the front door wide open, a dead mole on our bedroom floor, and no sign of of Climber. After his night of partying, he appeared meowing at the front door, about 3 a.m.

He was a legend in the neighborhood. He thought he was more dog than cat. He went out with the dogs on their early morning walks, and if he felt they were being victimized he was more than willing to attack any dog in the neighborhood on  behalf of his little pack.

The dogs and he would sniff around together, looking for some common prey. But Climber was frequently highly disappointed with their hunting skills and would swat them with his paws as they failed to live up to his expectations.

Mr. Climber, the stories are legion. We miss you. God speed. 

Orlando, June 12, 2016 – Swamps and Summits

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It’s a thinly veiled secret on From Swamp to Summit that I’m from Orlando. That Central Florida city where one looks in vain for a hill to train on and ends up resorting to staircases. Staircases have been good to me. I’ve made it up Kilimanjaro, Mt. Elbrus, Illiniza Norte and Cotopaxi. And more to come. I hope.

I may not have grown up here, but Orlando and Florida reach out to you with their sticky sweaty humid hands and hold you close to their hearts. I moved here in the middle of 1989. Sight unseen.  True story.  It was a snowy night in New York and husband J, who was finishing his Ph.D.  at NYU received a tenure track offer at a small liberal arts college here. I’d never even been to Florida on spring break but after J interviewed in Orlando and described the smell of orange blossom, I was sold.

So after a brief diversion through Greece and Turkey (another blog post in and of itself) we found ourselves, our one room of furniture, and our cat Chelsea in this city we’ve called home for over 25 years.

A swamp does describe life in Orlando this week.  But not the life giving jungle green of the Everglades wetlands.  More the  brown slough of  despond. Exactly one week ago I awakened early, despite having been out in downtown Orlando the night before at a concert. And across my phone came word that at least 20 had been killed at the Pulse nightclub, not far from where we had been and a few blocks from my office. By mid morning the number had increased to 50. 49 victims and the gunman.

This massacre was framed by the Friday night shooting of a singer from the Voice, followed by the suicide of the killer, and the tragedy a day after the Pulse shootings of the drowning of a two year old by an alligator at a theme park lagoon.

The City Beautiful, as Orlando likes to call itself, didn’t look so beautiful anymore. On Monday evening I found myself at one of many vigils around the city at a makeshift memorial that has sprung up in front of the Performing Arts Center. There’s not enough public space in Orlando and what has happened there shows why people need to have a place to come together. There are candles, ribbons, photos, posters, notes written on paper chains. People standing are reverent. Nearly everyone I know has made a trip there.

On Thursday, President Obama and Vice President Biden arrived. I watched the motorcade from my office window, together with some of my partners. I’ve seen many grown men cry in the last few days.

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That night, J and I went back to the memorial. A motorcycle club had its bikes lined up, illuminated in rainbow colors. They revved their engines, and a speaker for the club stepped forward and asked the several hundred assembled there to hold hands and observe a moment of silence. Everyone did.

Rainbow flags are flying all over the city and practically every public building has been illuminated in the now familiar red, yellow, orange and blue colors. Tonight is a city wide commemoration that is supposed to be non religious, non political, and non branded. Just a time for people to be together. We’re going to walk down there.

Perhaps after today, and the symbolism of one week later, healing will start.

It’s a long way up any mountain. And it’s going to take Orlando a while to slog up this one. But I know that Orlando and its people have what it takes.

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A New York Minute – in Orlando

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Downtown Orlando

So the leaping and springing forward of the last two weeks took their toll, and left me unable to complete the post I’d planned yesterday. Blame it on that extra day and one less hour. Funny how the extra day didn’t compensate for the one less hour.

This week we’re taking a brief detour from treks and summits to explore urban hiking combined with public transportation in downtown Orlando – a city not renowned for its pedestrian friendly nature.

Being fortunate enough to to live a mere 2 1/2 miles from work, walking is always a option for me. And on Friday, as is frequently my wont, I went ahead and took the 45 minute stroll into the office. See Urban Hiking in Orlando – Art in Odd Places. (There’s actually another post somewhere in this blog about urban hiking that I couldn’t even find – the risks of writing almost every week.)

But this time I’d planned a transportation challenge for the way back. Yes, I could have taken Sunrail – our new uber light rail that goes from my office to Florida Hospital, just a 20 minute walk from my house.

Or I could take the Lymmo.

I still remember a client looking at me aghast when I said I would take a lymmo to the courthouse.

Here in Orlando the lymmo is our free circulating bus.  Several routes have just been added, one of which goes almost to the edge of the lake I live by. So at just past 6 on Friday I ventured out, dodging the Orlando City soccer fans who were all taking express lymmo buses to the soccer stadium, to wait for about 8 minutes for my bus up to the courthouse, the site to change for bus number 2. The bus on the first leg of my journey was fairly crowded. Most prominent was a young woman with a toddler carrying a bag smelling decidedly of seafood. The woman carried the bag,  not the toddler. After she and said toddler (in stroller) plopped themselved down she pulled out a crab leg from her plastic bag. “No eating on the bus,” boomed the driver. Back went the crab leg. She unstrapped said toddler from the stroller and hoisted her up onto her lap, swishing away the milky stains from said toddler’s face, neck and arms. The smell of seafood started to dissipate.

By the time we reached the courthouse, the location to pick up bus number 2, pretty much everyone was off. One poor soul was still trying to figure out how to get to the soccer game. That left me and two others. As I studied my map for the next leg of my journey, up to the senior center in Marks Street, which would leave me a more 20 minutes walk from my house, one of my fellow travelers asked me if I needed help.

I love traveling incognito. At this point I was just one of the weary trying to get home on free transportation – little resemblance to the lawyer I spend my days disguised as.

I explained where I was headed and she told me to make sure to watch for the bus swinging around the corner, because that would be the one I needed.  The other gentlemen on the bus was quite talkative – he was headed up to Park Lake to meet friends, carrying a plastic bag filled with what appeared to a liquid and potato chip picnic. We all commiserated on the sad state of Orlando’s roads, wrought by the Ultimate I4 construction project, and enjoyed one of those moments of kinship that crosses all racial, economic and educational bounds.

I disembarked in front of the Senior Center, the only passenger left before the bus made its next loop back to the courthouse. The driver had another two or three hours to go. The already warm evening made a little warmer by the warmth generated by the shared community of free bus riders. Like one of those fleeting moments in New York – when people on the subway all make eye contact.  Not always clear why – just a moment everyone’s worlds and perceptions collide.

Reflections on the Swamp – An Orlando Loop

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City Reflections

The swamp was especially wet this week as a very beautiful morning morphed into a grey day of drizzle, thanks to El Niño. Yes, this post is a detour from adventures in Mexico, the conclusion of which will be forthcoming. A few twists are always needed here and there.

Orlando’s Dinky Line Urban Trail is part of my running routine. But I’d always wondered about the part of the trail that on the map consisted mostly of orange dots, which is apparently code for sidewalk as opposed to trail. In any event, the cool weather proved tempting and instead of a run followed by Bikram, husband J and I found ourselves on what turned out to be an 11 mile loop to and around Orlando’s in-the-process-of-being-renovated and turned into something else entirely Fashion Square Mall.

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We started off accompanied by one of Lake Ivanhoe’s many resident and, to me, unidentifiable water birds. He looked a lot more enthusiastic about the drizzle than we were.  Shortly after, still on the part of the trail I knew, we passed what I am convinced is a haunted radio station. It’s been empty since we’ve lived here, yet it’s right next to a popular hotel. Just one of those urban ruins. A few other urban ruins in our journey – an abandoned sushi restaurant and a bank that looked as though it had never recovered from a heist.

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Finally we reach d the orange dot part of the trail and we were off! First up was a tour of in-fill development in an area called Colonialtown.  Small townhouses and fourplexes, built in the style of the original small houses.  Surprisingly attractive, even in the rain that started to fall more heavily.

To my surprise, we then discovered that what I had always thought was the beginning of the Cady Way Trail wasn’t. The trail head is actually located at Lake Druid Park – a lake and a park I’d never heard of despite 25 plus years in Orlando. Shortly after, we finally reached the mall and it was time for a lunch break at Noodle Co. – a first for us. At least it rained hardest while we were inside.

The Executive Airport is across the street from the mall, and after some difficulty with urban route finding, we got ourselves back on the orange dots. Next to the airport is a party supply store selling themed party goods for any type of celebration you could imagine. Who knew there were so many types of princess tiaras. Not to mention sizes and shapes of plastic trays or colors of napkins. And there was even a room filled with nothing but janitorial supplies.

A little bit of FaceTime with daughter S entertained us for the next mile or so. Nothing like getting to watch a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade in real time. That was followed up by the Orlando Chili Cook Off – if we’d known we wouldn’t have had lunch!

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After passing the landmark Colonial Lanes Bowling alley – what could be better than cocktails and bowling – we finally made our way back toward downtown and along what I can only describe as Memory Lane. There was the girls’ daycare center. And the orthodontist’s office, where I spent many an hour in the waiting room.

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Mile 11 of our loop brought us back to Lake Ivanhoe. We bookended our hike with another bird – a serious grey heron who looked as though he might charge us admission for passage around the lake.

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There was no snow, no ice, and no altitude. But there were a lot of things and places I’d never noticed before in the few miles right around my house – and that’s an exploration in itself.

 

 

Shifting Gears – A New Year and A Gear Check: Orizaba Here We Come

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So we leave in two days and I’ve managed to do an unbelievably good job of procrastination with the gear check. It started off as – oh, we did this six months ago, how much more can there be to do – to, well, maybe I need to go to Trak Shack and by more gu’s tomorrow because I’m down to five.

But procrastination – i.e., let’s do anything besides the gear check – enabled me to do just a tiny bit of work this morning to welcome in the new year in appropriate lawyer like fashion. It also helped me take down all the Christmas decorations, mop the kitchen floor, communicate with daughters A and S, and go for one last leisurely walk with pack on. Oh, and there was time for the martini on the porch while watching the sunset.

But while on the porch, I did find myself black thread and needle in hand as I mended my Thermasilk glove liners, which clearly could not be replaced within the next 24 hours of globally warmed Florida. Just before sundowner hour we did venture into our guest room, which is where we do gear assembly, to start the preliminary review. What I hadn’t realized about a gear check after having climbed a number of mountains is that you wear out your equipment. As I pulled out the glove liners and saw each index finger was completely ripped, I suddenly recalled that I’d climbed Illiniza Norte in Ecuador with only my liners – they kept my fingers warm but I could feel the rock, unlike my heavily lined gloves or my even heavier mittens. (But I was very happy to have those mittens on Cotopaxi when I realized my fingers were going numb.)

There’s still an overwhelming amount of stuff to go through in what used to be called the guest room. And only 72 (or is it 48) hours to sort it out.  Are the lithium batteries still good? Is there a leak in my Thermorest pad and does it really make a difference anyway? And will gorilla tape actually work to repair our very ripped up duffel bags?
Any answers to these questions or other tips for climbing Orizaba are more than welcome!

I’m excited. Next post – from Mexico, at altitude.

Topsy Turvy Days of Christmas

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Anticipation.

That’s a watch word of the holidays. And as true this year as any other. But this year the beacon of Pico de Orizaba is looming ahead of us – our first January climb – and the first time we’ve climbed a big mountain only six months after another (Cotopaxi).

The path to the summit has been anything but straight this last few weeks. It’s been a bit like one of the children’s fairy tales I used to read where the young girl and boy suddenly find themselves in upside down land.

We’ve gone from the perils of party giving (only a few broken wine glasses) to the hurrahs of house guests. I’ve turned my normal cooking routine into a small scale catering operation. And we’ve had and are having a round of visits from both daughters 1 and 2 (now known as A and S), and boyfriends N and P, respectively, not to mention my parents and uncle.

In the midst of it all I keep thinking that in a week we are off to Mexico. And in another ten days or so we will be wending our way up 18,500 feet. I checked the weather and it actually doesn’t look too cold. Probably good, given that we are now acclimatized to 85 degree Orlando Christmases. I celebrated Boxing Day today by deciding to run a 5K in intervals. I probably should have started this particular training endeavor more than a week before the trip. Interesting – even with eight minute runs followed by a walk my times were the same or quicker than my regular long distance training runs. I’m just hoping a little of this will give me that final push that I need for the inevitably and always incredibly steep push up to the crater rim.

Christmas and family and friends. There’s a never ending flow of shared memories. But new ones are created each holiday. Like a river picking up flotsam and jetsam – they form new land – a big muddled complicated island somewhere near the ocean. I wouldn’t change a thing.

Holiday Mountain Part 2

 

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Last year at this time, I wrote a post called  “journey up holiday mountain,” not anticipating there’d be a part two. Yet, here I am. And not just at a part two of a blog – a fairly innocuous activity -but also just over 30 days before our next attempt to scale an 18,000 foot moutain. Some may wonder why I do this. Oh, and did I mention that in addition to an extremely busy work schedule I am giving a party for probably close to 100 people next weekend and I am apparently inherently incapable of using a caterer? Somehow I feel it doesn’t count if you (and Costco) haven’t made all the food yourself. Sometimes I feel if you didn’t have to sleep life would be much easier.

No mind. Each time we are preparing for a high altitude climb I feel I must hike at least a few miles in my mountaineering boots just so I remember what they feel like. Today was that day. Just a three mile walk back from the Y following yoga – the day, hot, steamy and sticky. Anyone want to question global warming who lives in Florida? And, as readers of his blog know, I observe coincidences. Last time I did this walk with mountaineering boots, I slipped on the sidewalk, fell,  and cracked my iPhone screen. Today, exiting the Y, the phone slipped from my hand and I did the same thing. At least I had a screen guard and I might be able to glean a few more months of use out of it.

I think that cracked screen is a reminder – we do occasionally need put our iPhones down and just enjoy some of the bright lights around us. Happy Holidays, y’all!