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!

West Orange Trail Redux

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We are two months out from Pico de Orizaba, so it’s time for…the 20 mile hike on the West Orange Trail!

For those of you who’ve read this blog before, you know this isn’t the first time we’ve embarked on this somewhat odd urban hike through the wilds of Orlando’s suburbs. But this time we decided to start from the Apopka end and finish at the Killarney Station, just five miles beyond Winter Garden. (Sorry, Apopka – you just don’t compete with Winter Garden’s breweries and brasseries.)

Themes of the day were butterflies, bugs, and bruises. The butterflies you’ll see in the photos below. The bugs are not pictured, but it turns out that every beautifully shaded bench is equally viewed as such by Florida’s massive mosquitos. And the bruises are from the last two miles where I decided my boots were laced too loosely, tied them up tightly – and hugely over compensated.

So here’s the blow by blow –

It’s 6:55 a.m. We violated all of our vows to prepare sensibly by not going to sleep early enough.  Instead we followed dinner with our friends M and S (see “travel with friends – the Iceland series” https://fromswamptosummit.com/2015/03/15/iceland-part-1-a-day-in-reykjavik/) with a visit to an Irish pub, Fiddlers Green, to hear The Windbreakers. We’ve been listening to this Irish music duo since all of our kids were knee high to a grasshopper. But it wasn’t conducive to an early morning rising.

Nonetheless, by 8:15 or so we contacted Uber to take us up to the trailhead. It was way too early to get any of our nearest and dearest to drive 30 minutes on a Saturday morning. I’m sure I typed in the right address on the Uber app – to Park Avenue in Apopka – but somehow our driver thought he’d picked up a trip to Park Avenue in Hollywood, Florida. Now that would have been a worthy affair.

Mile 2 – after exiting our Uber ride (surely no more stylish way to arrive), by the Apopka Middle School, we suddenly found ourselves in a throng of a couple hundred middle school students, some with parents, walking a walk to raise money for either breast cancer or cystic fibrosis. Whatever the worthy cause, I’m embarrassed to say we walked as fast as possible to get ourselves out of the throng.

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Here are  the snippets from my contemporaneously recorded notes.

Scraps of middle school conversation. “She blew up in the middle of class” (I really wanted to know how that happened). Very few boyfriend/girlfriends hand holding. I’m sure there was more of that in my day in the ’70s.

Downtown Apopka. The Catfish Place restaurant amidst a sea of fast food establishments.  Dunkin Donuts taken to an art form.  Right next to the BBQ place. Turns out BBQ was a theme for the day.

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Mile 3.  Shaded woods, winding trail, lots of churches. As before, I’m baffled by St. Elizabeth, Church of God by Faith next to the Freedom Missionary church.  More BBQ smokers smoking away by modest and well kept homes. Moving on – we pass what must be a borrow pit for the interstate construction project.

Mile 4. Two people pass us, riding what look like elliptical bikes. Never seen them before. All of a sudden I realize my iPhone email isn’t working and it wipes out and then re-downloads my messages since August. Not a big deal – except I’m already fielding work calls on this Saturday morning.

The remnants of Florida’s fern industry – right next to Nelson’s Florida roses and Hippy’s Junk Auto Parts. That’s really the name.

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At Mile 5 we take a break – where we encounter the first of the mosquito swarms.  I also inadvertently hit my Fitbit watch face and it starts counting miles all over again on the GPS. For the remainder of the hike, I’m adding 5.23 miles to what the current  mileage shows. That’s a challenge to your math after about six hours or so.

Mile 6. We’ve made our way to the Buddhist temple,which was such a surprise the first time around.
A service is going on. I could hear voices but  couldn’t make out any words. Through the open door at the back I could see the monks in their yellow robes.

Immediately after we pass a home decorated with great concrete statues – next to one of several town homes abutting the trail where birthday celebrations seemed to have started hard and early. “Go Jerry” – whoever you are.

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Mile  7.  We’re back on a sidewalk by a main road. Housing complex to our  left, clear cutting and a seemingly abandoned housing development on our right. It’s really hot. We’ll see a long stretch of unshaded asphalt ahead of us and just think – go for it.

Mile 8.  Off the streets again onto a trail.  But it’s a stereotypical Florida image. A golf course on the left, a memorial garden on the right, and a filled in swimming pool by some outbuildings. Golf, then die?

Mile 9. We stop for lunch under an overpass.  There are golf courses on either side, but there are no bugs because there are no trees. And we forgot the bug spray anyway. All of a sudden, we realize what we had thought were some sort of exotic trash cans are really water coolers. Who knew.

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Mile 10.  Tiger swallowtail butterflies; beautiful light brown and lavender moths, Florida’s version of monarchs.. Caterpillars. I spend a lot of time thinking about shape shifters.

Mile 11. Time for blister and foot repair. Get a call from daughter #2. She sounds good. Way away from golf courses now and back into that odd cacophony of semi rural and suburbs. There’s an old warehouse on the right, and a band practicing.

Mile 12. We see a huge tortoise.  We pass Ocoee High School. There’s an ag program, and the three cows and donkey make  lot of noises as we pass. Reach another rest stop – the “Chapin station.” Lots more housing developments. A bathroom break. I see a flame bush over the top of the white vinyl fence lining the trail.

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Mile 13. I’m getting tired.  After some beautiful wooded and agricultural sections, we pass a truck storage spot. Guys are hanging out by their big flatbeds. A smoker is going. Looks like a good time on a Saturday afternoon if you have to hang out by your work truck.

There are old abandoned orange groves and a few packing buildings. There’s a concrete plant.   Seven  more miles to go and my discipline of a sentence or two each mile breaks down. Here’s what we saw – in retrospect – moving into Winter Garden. An absolutely perfect small town restoration, with a lively downtown and lots of people, enjoying a November Saturday. The last five miles are a park-like trail from Winter Garden to the Killarney Station with oh so eco friendly housing developments – but they are still housing developments. The odd farm opposite on the other side of the trail houses zebras and ostriches. There’s a parking lot for mega party buses. And a covered bridge going over the interstate that we were sure was swaying beneath our feet. Or that could just have been the fact it was mile 19. Nothing beats Florida for iconoclasm. Suburbs. Spanish moss. Greenness that just doesn’t quit. Even the golf courses can’t eradicate it. And peering down at it all this great blue flat sky.

After we reached Killarney Station and met up with friends A and T – and enjoyed beer and pizza at Winter Garden’s Crooked Can craft brewery (the thought of an ice cold beer definitely helped motivate those last five miles) – we wended our way back to College Park. But on the way we passed by the Citrus Bowl where the Electronic Daisy electronic dance music festival,  replete with ferris wheels, carnival rides and neon sound, was going on. Even in my house late at night, some miles away, I could hear the bass.

It wasn’t iconoclastic, somehow. It was just another way of finding the same sort of engagement I felt out there on the trail. It’s Florida.

Summits for Some – Special Olympics

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Some of my colleagues and I were invited to be guests at a Special Olympics black tie event last night. Now it’s been a while since I last attended such an affair, and it necessitated the husband, J, extracting his tuxedo from his closet – where it is surrounded by all the other suits he similarly doesn’t wear – to make sure said tuxedo still fit. When I told him that the theme for the gala was supposed to be “vintage” and “retro” he pointed out that his tux had been bought in the ’80s and was vintage in its own right.

I had a similar battle of my own finding something to wear that fit the description. But I ultimately settled on a rather Mad Men-esque looking dress last worn about ten years ago. It seemed to work. Especially when accompanied by a martini in one hand. A cigarette would have been perfect, but I don’t smoke.

All this has been while nursing some sore knees this week, topped off with a bizarre injury on Saturday that involved cutting some greenery in my yard in bare feet – pressing the side of my right foot hard into the edge of a paver as I leaned forward to pick up the clipping that had fallen – and ending up with a large purple swollen bruise all over the bottom of my foot.

But all these aches and pains that seem like such cause for concern simply take on a whole new light when you think about those involved in Special Olympics. We sat at a table last night with Central Florida’s Special Olympics’ equestrienne of the year. She’s 36 years old, has two older sisters, and attended with her mother. She’s got Downs’ syndrome. She’s also been a coach and inspiration to others in Special Olympics. The history of Special Olympics – created by Eunice Kennedy Shriver – and in honor of her sister Rosemary Kennedy – should remind us all of those who suffer from intellectual disabilities and how we can help.

Lots of time people don’t want to talk about these issues. It’s easier to talk about those who have physical problems. Somehow that doesn’t challenge us as much. But intellectual challenges are equally significant and we can’t and shouldn’t ignore them.

There are a lot of different summits. I need to remember they don’t all have to be over 18,000 feet.

Urban Hiking in Orlando – Art in Odd Places

Art in Odd Places
Art in Odd Places

My neighbor, known as A, and I share a fence at home and a wall at work. It’s a long story as to how we became both work and residence neighbors. Suffice it to say that this past Thursday we agreed we would walk the 2 1/2 miles to work, all so that the two husbands could drive one car downtown to meet us for the Art in Odd Places event – and, since it was Friday, happy hour.

It was a grey day, as they nearly all have been this summer, but at least the humidity didn’t coalesce and rain all over us. By now urban hiking in downtown involves a lot of looking at cranes and bulldozers that form the backdrop for the Ultimate I4 construction project – which the developers already admit will never solve Central Florida’s traffic problems.

But those cranes are second only to the cranes from the multitude of apartments springing up throughout the city like mushrooms. Nearly every vacant lot in the downtown area has now been filled with 3 to 5 story buildings, usually with retail on the bottom and residences in top. Where the heck are the people going to come from to live in them? It’s a mystery. We’ve in-filled practically the whole city – it has swelled up so much that one good prick and the entire bubble will burst. We’ll see.

Mushrooms by the Performing Arts Center
Mushrooms by the Performing Arts Center

An urban hike, of course, can’t be complete without an adventure on the stairs with a backpack in an office building. Although A was eager to accompany me on a walk to work, strangely enough I’ve never succeeded in getting anyone to join me in the stair climbing/backpack toting portion of urban hiking. But I dutifully did my 108 flights up and 108 down (according to my FitBit, of course).

By now I’d managed to wear three different outfits at work – the morning walk to work clothes, the Friday casual ensemble, and the stair climbing gear. People in my office were presumably wondering if I’d done anything all day besides get ready for the next work out event.

As the end of the day rolled around it was time for outfit number 4 – the going out Friday night look. The two husbands successfully navigated their way through downtown to our building with one car and we embarked on the next stage of our urban hike – Art in Odd Places.

This was a curated collection of interactive visual, performance and sound pieces by artists from around the world, along several blocks of Magnolia Avenue.  Although we’d expected a cluster of events and installations, the works were scattered throughout the area – and some of them were indeed lurking behind walls or on fences. You did have to look, and just occasionally, would catch a glimpse of art in some everyday object that was not part of the show but that suddenly had taken on new meaning.  Orlando’s large homeless population, many of whom spend time at the History Center park where there were a number of installations, seemed to be enjoying the event as much as the expected hipster crowd.

Cemetery Flowers
Cemetery Flowers

A series of hands emerged from drain pipes at various odd points on the city streets. A field of paper bag mushrooms dotted the grounds of the performing arts center. A collage of silk flowers from cemeteries was designed to raise awareness of policing in America (yes, I also wondered how the artist came to have other people’s memorial flowers). A bed of nails, also covered in pages from the Bible with all the text covered in gold paint except the parts about women. Live status updates from silent human mannequins. And those are only snippets.

Status Updates
Status Updates

Where else could you go from such an erudite event but to the TexMex restaurant on Wall Street. Half price appetizers and $3 margaritas. After that, The Celt, an Irish pub, was the only natural next stop. Steak and mushroom pie for the husband (the whole night did seem to have a mushroom theme) and mussels for me.

Bed of Nails
Bed of Nails

As we departed The Celt, we were greeted by a human cat in a cage – with a small black and white kitten on a leash standing guard nearby.

Who's in the cage? Photo - A. Luby
Who’s in the cage? Photo – A. Luby

To top the evening off, I had given daughter #1 carte blanche to book a place in Portland, Maine for our upcoming trip. Next thing I knew we had rented an AirBnB that seems to include chickens. It was one of those nights.

Labor Day – Take a Deep Breath

Taking a deep breath - Mt. Washington 2014
Taking a deep breath – Mt. Washington 2014

Many things just seem to stop on Labor Day. Including my 24 year old refrigerator that has occupied a convenient niche in our garage for the last several years.

Since I started this blog back in May or so of 2014 I have tried to publish posts once a week – I’m old enough that I tend to regard blogs as the digital equivalent of a weekly print magazine. But occasionally those periods occur where labor (aka work) takes over, becomes all consuming, and unfortunately, training, this blog, and yoga all take a back seat.

But all things pass, and it’s appropriate that they do so in time for Labor Day. It’s time to take a deep breath, and look forward to the fall and next adventures. Just like that first gust of cool wind on a fall day. After a summer of Florida heat and humidity, there’s no describing how refreshing that is. Unfortunately, I know from 25 years here that September isn’t much better than August.

So what is upcoming after the excitement of this summer’s trip to Ecuador? Most immediately, a trip to Maine with daughter #1 and the boyfriend N, and a hike up Puzzle Mountain. And after that….God willing and the creek don’t rise – we are seriously considering a trip to Pico de Orizaba in Mexico the first week of January 2016. It’s the third highest mountain in North America at 18,491 feet. And of course, it’s a volcano. Has anyone out there done this trip? We can certainly use all the help we can get.

In the meantime, this year’s Labor Day has involved refrigerator replacement, re-planting the vegetable garden, and a four mile run. I’ve taken a deep breath. Now it’s time to set our sights on the next summit.