Mt. Everest Base Camp Trek Part I of III

In January, it was brought to my attention I was going to lose a lot of my vacation time I had saved if I did not use it by the end of the year. I was not about to let that happen.  A few months earlier, my friend Micaela and Anne had invited me on a trek and I didn’t think it would be possible.  Given my new discovery of potentially losing vacation time,   I immediately contacted my friend Micaela to see if it was too late to join the trek. I didn’t ask for details about the trip or do any research.  I just blindly signed up in order to avoid losing the vacation days.  I knew we were trekking to Mt. Everest Base Camp.  I had no idea I would go 14 days without showering.  I didn’t realize I would not be able to eat meat for 20 days.  I didn’t consider the fact I don’t tolerate cold weather.  I hadn’t thought about not having cell phone connection or internet connection.  I didn’t think about the physical expectations or the impact of altitude.  And most of all …. I had no idea I would fall in love with the Nepali people.


Our adventure started with three girls flying from NYC to Doha Qatar to Kathmandu Nepal. Twenty-four hours of traveling later we arrived in Kathmandu.  We were told we would be picked up from the airport by a guide who would have a sign with our names and would be wearing a red polo with the company’s “Experience the Himalayas” logo on it.  Upon arriving in Kathmandu, we were picked up from the airport by a man with our names on a sign but with a navy polo and no logo.  This didn’t seem like a big deal until about 15 Nepali men swarmed us with instructions on where to go, wanting to take our bags and demanding tips.  We immediately began to freak out and turned on our crisis mode instincts.  I began interrogating the gentleman with the navy blue polo about what company he was with and where we were going.  Anne immediately pulled out her GPS to verify we were in route to the hotel address previously provided.  Micaela turned on her phone to notify her husband of what was going on.  Come to find out, this is the common deceptive practice used at the airport on tourists.  Our guide was not able to say anything to the men because it could induce a fight coming from another Nepali.

After safely arriving at our hotel in Kathmandu, we spent the following day exploring. Walking around Kathmandu was an experience of its own.  I cannot even begin to describe the chaos on the streets of Kathmandu.  Sidewalks are not existent.  You walk on the same road as the cars, motorcycles, and bicycles all while getting swarmed with Nepalis trying to sell their goods.  I am still baffled by the madness and pollution.  People wore masks while walking around because the air quality was so poor.


We visited Swayambhunath or Monkey Temple, which is a Buddhist complex with temples and shrines and real live monkeys running around everywhere.


After our day of exploring, we were taken out to eat by the trekking company and introduced to our first taste of Nepalese cuisine. The most common dish is Dal Bhat, which is staple that consists of rice, a lentil soup, pickled vegetables, and curried potatoes.  Nepalis eat this dish for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  A common saying is “Dal Bhat Power 24 Hour”.  I was pleasantly surprised with how much I enjoyed the meal.


After dinner we returned to the hotel and prepped our bags for trekking. Each passenger’s luggage is limited to 15 kg (33 pounds) for domestic flights.  Our goal was to get our rucksacks to 12 kg and backs to 3 kg and leave the rest at the hotel in Kathmandu.  After getting our bags all prepped we weighed them on a scale right outside the hotel.  Of course, we had to make multiple trips upstairs to remove items and adjust and back down to the scale.  We had been given advice of wearing our heaviest clothes on the flight and wearing multiple pairs of pants if needed.  Luckily, we didn’t need to go to those extremes.  We did shove some small but heavy items in our pockets to shed the last couple of kgs.


The following morning we set out for our adventure. Almost all trekkers going to Everest Base Camp fly from Kathmandu to the infamous Lukla airport (it is worth a Google search).  October begins one of the two primary seasons for trekking.  However, this year the monsoon season had lasted longer than normal.  Our flight along with all others were delayed due to weather.  Our guide instructed us to sit and we did as we were told.  We had no information about which airline or flight we were on or what was happening in general.  The announcements weren’t helpful either as they were in Nepalese.  We just sat clueless and overwhelmed with anticipation while our guide stood near the various airline booths and lines.  The airport was a mad house with trekkers everywhere.   Many people had been waiting three days to get out.  Suddenly, our guide gestured to go over to him.  He was throwing our bags on a scale and handing us tickets.  He rushed us through security (if you can call it security) and the next thing you know we were waiting on the runway for our plane.  When we asked our guide if he bribed them to let us on the flight, he smiled his huge smile and said “yes”.  Luckily he did because we later learned it would be another three days before flights began routinely making it out.

The minute I stepped off of the plane in Lukla I took a deep breath of the mountain air and was in aww of the views. I walked to the baggage area where are rucksacks had been dumped in a pile and a Nepali man tried to help with my rucksack.  You can’t fool me twice!  I refused his help but he persisted and tried to get my bag off my back.  Finally, my guide came over and told me to give it to him.  Turns out he was one of our porters legitimately trying to help.  Whoops!


The only thing in between us and trekking through the Himalayas was breakfast.

Spain

In response to specific requests, I am resurrecting the blog to write about our recent trip to Spain and my upcoming trip to Nepal.

I really had no desire to visit Spain … and then I met Keith and he began talking nonstop about wanting to visit … and I gave in. After the trip, I can’t say I hate him for forcing me to go.


When planning the trip, we couldn’t decide which city we wanted to visit so we narrowed it down to Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba and Madrid. Each city had unique characteristics and will be remembered for specific things but our daily routine was relatively stable.  We walked until our feet hurt (averaged over 9 miles a day).  We ate A LOT of cured meet, cheese and tapas.  Manchego cheese happens to be my favorite cheese and coincidentally it’s a Spanish cheese so I was a happy camper.  Looking back I think we ate squid or octopus at every meal.  We also drank A LOT of sangria and wine.  I slept more than I recall ever sleeping in my life.  I slept in until about 10:00 am and took a nap from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm almost every day.  I was also forced to stay up later than my normal 9:00 pm bedtime.  Dinner in Spain is typically 9:00 pm to 12:00 am and I had no option but to oblige since restaurants (and everything else) close for siesta from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm. Continue reading

Workout Evolution

After graduating college, I told myself I would form a habit of working out on a frequent basis. And almost 6 years later, I can say I have actually stuck with it … for the most part.  My work out habits have definitely evolved over time.

Post college, I immediately began a routine of running outside. At first I hated and dreaded running but I learned to enjoy it most of the time.  I refused to run on a treadmill.

Then in graduate school, my roommate introduced me to a Jillian Michaels DVD. I was sooo sore the next day, I knew I either got a crazy good workout or I was severely out of shape.  The videos were added to my regular routine as an alternative to running.

When I was training for my recently completed half marathon, I was working in a town that didn’t have sidewalks. Not wanting to kill my training, I broke down and began running on a treadmill.  There is something to be said for the reliability and consistency of a treadmill.

Recently I ran into a dilemma. Continue reading

New Year’s Resolutions

I was going to create the usual cliché post about the New Year but didn’t get around to it by the 1st and gave up on the entire idea. And then I saw a photo with the caption “it will still be 2016 tomorrow” and brought the idea back to life.

Typically, the New Year approaches and my life continues as it was before. I don’t resolve to lose weight, spend less, or read more.  This year is a little bit different.  I have recently spent a good amount of time reflecting back on the many major changes I made in the last year.  Some of the changes were easy, others not so easy, a few were hard as hell, and many more I am still adjusting to.

When reflecting, I recognize there are small things I can do to make the adjusting easier and life in general more enjoyable.

Stay busy and do more –  Most people know I can only sit on the couch for about 10 minutes before I find myself suddenly getting up to do something or finding something to read.  However, lately I find myself sitting and doing nothing more and more.  In addition, I regretfully must say I have not taken advantage of the many opportunities living in the city presents.  I am aware staying busy helps my attitude tremendously and let’s be honest my attitude can always use a little help.

Meet people – I might be the most introverted person ever.  I typically welcome the idea of being alone. But everyone needs a little bit of social activity in their life SOMETIMES.  Meeting people in New York has been one tough task for many reasons.  First, the typical “lets meet for drinks” does not attract me.  Second, between June and November I was traveling each and every week for work.  The travel restricted me from joining any weekday groups or activities.  Keith has done his part to “make friends for us” but when I am home for the weekend, I just want to enjoy being home when not preparing for hitting the road again Monday. I still don’t like bars but this year I no longer have the traveling excuse since I won’t be out of town as much.  I am not sure how yet but somehow someway I will make friends.  My not so introverted husband has big ideas for this … we will see how they work out.

Judge less – Attempting to judge less has been a continuous battle for me.  I am aware the dark negative cloud is lifted when you are not focused on how others dress, what others do, or what others say.  In addition, when I care less about others, I am not near as worried about what others think of me.  I have made strides on this since moving to New York.  Judging is much more difficult in a city where there is one of every kind.  However, I will probably always have room to improve in this category.

I can only hope 2016 is full of as many great memories as 2015.

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Spontaneous Toronto Trip

Mid-afternoon on Friday, Keith and I decided to head into NYC to shop for bedroom furniture. We were on the subway somewhere under the Hudson River when Keith turned to me and asked “Want to go to Toronto?” I am sure he expected me to come up with a gazillion reasons why I couldn’t or we shouldn’t go but I surprised him and said “sure”. I have never been to Toronto but it is Keith’s favorite city. He has been trying to finagle a trip for a while now. 

We hopped off the subway at the first stop and hopped back on to head right back home. We each packed a small bag, grabbed our passports and hit the road. I booked the hotels while Keith drove. Thank gosh for our hotel point accumulating job. It sure makes trips a lot cheaper.

Our first stop Saturday morning was a Canadian furniture store we had visited in Montreal during a trip we made last year. We were more successful than planned and left the furniture store with bedroom furniture ordered. Not only did we accomplish our initial mission and reason we were heading into NYC but we also got the furniture at 50% off. Score! And if that wasn’t enough, we later realized the purchase price was in Canadian Dollars and thanks to the recent devalue of the Canadian Dollar we realized we got even more of a steal.

We then headed to downtown Toronto where we ate brunch at Momofuku Daisho.  We shared whitefish buns and hanger steak.  The hanger steak was amazing.  Typically, I like simple dishes and this was quite the opposite.  However, the number of flavors in this dish amazed me in a good way.

  
We spent the day walking around the city and popping in stores when we felt like it. It was a brisk day at 45⁰ but I managed. We found one art gallery and happened to find a piece we liked at a decent price. After debating, we decided to snap a picture and mull over the purchase while we continued to explore. On our way out of the store, we snapped a picture of another piece catching our eye.    We finished our day with dinner at DaiLo.  The restaurant puts a modern flair on “reimagined dim sum type” dishes.  I don’t think anything I write can do these creative dishes justice.

Sunday morning we explored the Ontario lakefront area of the city. Of course we had to walk by the CN tower.  I learned it is the tallest structure in the western hemisphere, which I find pretty impressive because I am continuously amazed by how massive the Freedom Tower stands.  You can’t even look up at the CN tower without getting dizzy.  Finally, we returned to the art gallery with plans to offer a lowball price for each piece in hopes they would meet in the middle. I let Keith do the negotiating while I stood back trying not to listen. I think Keith was okay with this only because he knows I am useless when it comes to decisions. I was pleased when he informed me we were purchasing both pieces at the price we planned to offer for one.

We clearly had a pretty successful trip. Without any intentions, we made a lot of progress on furnishing our home.

Currently

I have seen this survey on Carrot’s N’ Cake blog in the past, and I thought it would be a fun post.

Current Celebration: Weekends at home. I have been all over the place lately and really miss my couch. This past weekend both Keith and I spent the weekend at home and it was amazing. I only left the house for church and to run.

Current Confession: I went to bed before or at 8:30 p.m. each night last week. I just couldn’t stay up no matter how hard I tried.

Current Product Find: Coconut Banana Cashew Butter.  Keith saw me eyeing a little jar of this at Chelsea Market a couple weekends back and in typical Keith fashion surprised me with it.  I opened up the cabinet one day and there it sat with a note affixed to it.  I already ate the ENTIRE jar … and wish I had more.

Current Plan: I start a new position in the middle of November. I am not changing employers just the line of work. My life after beginning the position is in limbo because I don’t know many details about the position. With the change fast approaching, my planning mind can’t help but wonder and want answers.

Current Book: I’m not reading “books” right now. Instead, I have been studying for a test I have to take at work in the upcoming months. I am currently reading a lot of laws and regulations. Don’t worry; I won’t bore you with the details.    Current Purchase: I just purchased a new SPIbelt. My mom gave me this little gem several years ago for Christmas and I rarely run without it now. Mine went missing recently during a trip to Washington D.C. I called the hotel but of course they didn’t find it. After beating myself up, I finally purchased a new one. The new one is larger and fits my phone better. The old one also had a hole. Maybe it was for the best.

Current Drink: There is nothing current about anything I drink. I have always been a water girl and nothing is new. I supplement my water with coffee.

Current Holy Moly: Lamb. Up until a couple month ago I would have swore I didn’t like lamb and it smelt like wool. And then …. Keith bought lamp chomps when I wasn’t looking. He fixed them and I felt obligated to at least try them. I have definitely bought more lamb since.   Current Show: The Affair. A new season just started, and anytime Keith and I have a free moment together we indulge.

Current Want: If I must narrow it down to one item … this is tough …. I would say … winter boots. The cold weather is definitely here and it is only going to get worse. I am trying to convince myself if I have the appropriate attire it will be more bearable.

Current Obsession: Grapes! I have been eating multiple pounds of grapes for a couple months now. No I am not exaggerating.    

New England with the Family

My mom and cousin made a trip to the Northeast last weekend and we road tripped around New England.  My mom has been talking about seeing the fall foliage and Maine coast for quite some time and I am always looking for an excuse to go to Maine.  Fitting foliage and the coast into one weekend meant A LOT of quality time spent in our tiny little car but I think it was worth it.

Keith and I picked the two up from the airport Friday afternoon and we immediately hit the road.  We took the scenic route from Newark, New Jersey to Manchester, New Hampshire to see the best foliage possible.  The trees were absolutely beautiful.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t get very good pictures from the car.

Saturday, we hopped back in the car to drive to Portland Maine.  On the way we made a quick stop to see the ocean.  I don’t think the car was parked before mom jumped out and darted to the beach.  She “needed” to put her toes in the sand.  She is like a little kid when it comes to the ocean.  I didn’t get this gene.  I want nothing to do with the sand.  The closest I need to get is to take a picture of her.


Keith and I can’t go to Maine without stopping at our favorite lobster truck.  We both prefer the Connecticut style lobster roll with butter as opposed the Maine style with mayonnaise.

The lobster truck just happens to be located at the beautiful Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, which is home to Portland Head Light.  This lighthouse is the oldest in Maine.


Brylee did a little off trail exploring.  If you look very very closely she is the little speck out on the edge of the rock.


We finished the day with a brief tour of Providence, Rhode Island led by Keith.  He went to college in Providence and still gets a little excited anytime Providence is mentioned.

Sunday we headed back to Hoboken.  Along the way we stopped in Windsor, Connecticut for “Chowdafest”.

Chowdafest is a chowder and soup competition with 40 restaurants from all over New England.  Upon entrance we were give a wrist band, spoon and ballot.  We were tasked with voting on the best 1. New England Chowder, 2. Manhattan Chowder, 3. Creative Chowder and 4. Lobster Bisque.


We started strong and fast tasting each chowder.  Brylee, Keith and I didn’t hassle with voting.  All we cared about was sampling.  Mom on the other hand attempted to make notes about specific spices and unique flavors.

About 10 chowders in, we needed a break to reset our pallets.  Of course, mom found the ocean.

Keith used this opportunity to work on his photography skills.  He doesn’t quite understand the rule of thirds.

We attempted to finish the tasting but just couldn’t.  We sampled 22 chowders  before we all started to feel sick and threw in the towel.  It will be a miracle if any of us eat chowder all winter.


We ended the adventure with a tour of Hoboken.


Even if we spent most of our time in the car it doesn’t diminish the amazingness of having family visit.

I Ran a Half Marathon!

I did it! I finally ran a half marathon!

Leading up to the race, I received numerous texts asking if I was ready and wishing me luck.  Normally, I appreciate nice thoughts but this occasion was different. I was doing everything I could to not even think about the race.

Micaela and I prepared for the race by eating a carb loaded dinner the night before the race.  Both Micaela and I struggled ordering. We knew we needed carbs before the race for energy and protein after the race to rebuild muscle but we weren’t sure about protein before the run. We are clearly amateurs. I played it safe and got both.

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We arrived at the race site bright and early.  I became suddenly nervous as I observed all the other participants. They all looked so professional.

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My bad habit is unconsciously biting my cheeks when I nervous or concentrating.  I was clearly nervous in this picture above.

The race started downhill and extra fast.  I was overwhelmed by the little room I had to move (I knew I would be). Luckily, the full marathon and 10k runners split at about 1 mile, giving me a little room to breathe. Continue reading

Second Trip Ever to Nebraska

It is crazy that I lived in a bordering state to Nebraska almost my entire life but had never stepped foot in the cornhusker state.  This changed in May when I made my first trip to Nebraska to be in a wedding.  On this trip, I fell in love with bride’s family.  I assume I enjoyed her family because they remind me of my own family.  Specifically, I loved the four sisters.  Did I say they remind me of my own family? Each sister is fabulous on their own but observing the way they interact with each other makes them a million times better.  Being around them really makes me reflect on my sisters and I’s relationship.  Needless to say I knew the May trip would not be my last trip to Nebraska.

Over Labor Day weekend I made my second trip ever to Nebraska.  Micaela (the bride referred to above) picked me up from the airport Thursday evening and we drove to her home in Lindsay to get my country fix.

Friday morning we took Micaela’s new puppy to the vet.  I personally don’t care for dogs (don’t judge!) but how can you not laugh at the little conundrum he got himself into.

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After the vet we spent time with Micaela’s grandma.  I love observing how invested she is in each grandkids’ life and in turn how each grandkid adores her.  Another reminder of my own family!  Of course the visit only made me miss own grandparents more.

We then headed to Omaha for a wedding.   Continue reading

Half Marathon Update

I finally signed up for a half marathon after wanting to run one forever.  The race is in Omaha Nebraska on Sunday September 6th.  Accompanying me we will be a good friend and coworker, Micaela.

I am amazed at how well training has gone.  I attribute most of this to my need for structure.  Following a schedule is right up my alley.  I have had to make some changes to the schedule including deleting a full week once I finally nailed down a race date.  The others have been more minor changes based on my daily schedule.

I should admit training hasn’t been all roses.  One week I was unable to achieve the 9 mile goal I set out for.  I was extremely frustrated and felt defeated.  I had signed up for the race prior to heading out for that run and immediately started thinking that was a mistake.  I guess it just wasn’t my week because the following week I ran 10 miles just fine.  The feeling of accomplishment was back.

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This morning, I will run my last long run prior to the race.  If I can run 12 miles today, surely I can run 13.1 miles the following weekend right?!?!