• Adventure,  Travel,  Writing

    Cuba! An Introduction

    I wish I could tell you all about Cuba. But I don’t know enough. I wish I could tell you all about the history of Cuba, but I am unqualified. I wish I could tell you all about Cuba today, but there are too many things I didn’t even see. Cuba seems to change on a daily basis, a world shifting and changing to suit its own needs. I say that only as a tourist. I don’t know what it is like to be Cuban, or to live on an island nation governed by a unique set of principles. There seems to be a purposeful divide between the local daily…

  • Romanian Rib
    Adventure,  Travel,  Writing

    Romanian Rib – Red Rocks

    There are many sports metaphors that equate to struggle. Marathons, extra innings, overtime: all of these immediately conjure up the physical struggle of a human being. But perhaps we need a sports metaphor for the less demanding endurance trail. Romanian Rib could be just such a metaphor for patience. Romanian Rib is a specific route near Red Rocks National Park. The climb itself is about 1000 feet of vertical. There is a parking lot on the side of the road, and a marked, maintained trail for about half of the 1.5 mile hike-in to the base of Romanian Rib. That morning we got started a little later than usual, despite our promises…

  • Red Rocks
    Adventure,  Lifestyle,  Travel

    Red Rocks

    Red Rocks is an incredible formation of sandstone 15 miles outside of Las Vegas. One of the best things about a trip to Red Rocks is that all of the gambling and drinking of Vegas tourists subsidize the inevitably less expensive food and lodging of a climbing trip. We stayed at an AirBnB on the West side of Vegas, near Red Rocks, big enough to have plenty of room for four people. Though only 15-20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, we were also 15 minutes from the garage to touching sandstone rock. The first day we arrived, Andy ran up Mount Wilson (I do not use the word “run” in…

  • hiking and camping
    Adventure,  Lifestyle,  Travel,  Writing

    3 Sisters: Day 6

    I had not slept well. The first few nights of sleeping on the ground were great, straightening out my back in ways I didn’t know it was crooked, but the last night was painful. My side of the tent was on a gentle slope, so I tended to slide to the edge of the tent, waking every few hours, pressed against the canvas. My right shoulder hurt from my fall, so I couldn’t put my arm over my head if I laid on my stomach, and I certainly couldn’t lay on my right side. Andy got out of his bag first that day. The next water wasn’t for another two and…

  • Obsidian Limited Use Area
    Adventure,  Lifestyle,  Travel,  Writing

    Three Sisters: Day Five-Part The SECOND

    ***Continued from yesterday’s blog, where Katie and Andy had made it through the Wickiup Plains, Katie had fallen with her pack on, and they had encountered a pixie-ish couple from Seattle who had lost some clogs… Leaving Team Seattle behind us, we continued our slow but steady pace outstripping a few other hiking teams. I was proud of us, even though I know it wasn’t a competition. There was a small, unnamed lake that we were on the lookout for, a site we had thought to camp yesterday if we had energy after summiting South Sister (no.). So far, my knee was holding steady. We blew past the lake, small and filled with debris. Satchel…

  • Wickiup Plains
    Adventure,  Lifestyle,  Travel,  Writing

    Three Sisters: Day Five

    For the first time, we slept in. I had doctored my knee as best I could the night before, using anti-inflammatory cream and sleeping in a compression sleeve lined with voodoo. As usual, I was out of my bag first, sweating on the backs of my knees and on my scalp, while Andy looked snugly content in a beanie cap and light fleece tucked into his bag. I made a cup of tea on our camp stove, looking out over Moraine Lake. I watched as a few hikers made their way up to South Sister. After replenishing calories the day before, having a long talk over a card game about…

  • South Sister
    Writing

    3 Sisters: Day Four

    We woke early, this time on purpose. The campsite would remain intact, as we would only summit South Sister and return that same day. Full of hubris from our previous days, we discussed the possibility of striking camp after the summit and continuing on another five miles until the next available water. But we would wait to see how it felt when we returned to camp. Of the Three Sisters, South Sister is the tallest at 10,358 feet. Nicknamed Charity, it is the most climbed of the three volcanoes, probably because it has the least amount of erosion and the most glaciation. The Middle Sister is noted to be “unremarkable,” both…

  • Lake Moraine
    Adventure,  Lifestyle,  Travel,  Writing

    Three Sisters: Day Three

    Again we woke at dawn, the dim light visible through the tent’s screened panels. The wilderness area averaged less than half an inch of rain in the month of August, so we weren’t worried about again leaving the fly off the tent. My sleeping bag was rated to 40 below, and we referred to it as the Thermal Nuclear Blanket because it doesn’t matter the temperature outside, the person inside remained warm. The nights weren’t getting that cold, dropping to temperatures in the fifties, I think. But by the time morning came around, the Thermal Nuclear Blanket had done its work, and I was ready to get out of there. Andy…

  • The Burn
    Adventure,  Lifestyle,  Travel,  Writing

    Three Sisters: Day Two

    Purple twists of light tinted the sky. The sun hadn’t risen yet. In the distance, there was a faint but strange, honking sound. I turned my head to see Andy’s eyes wide open. He was lying still, listening. “Elk,” he whispered. I strained my ears, trying to hear them. The call sounds like the vuvuzela, the South African instrument we all grew to love during the 2010 World Cup. The rest of our morning was silent, birds still quiet. When the sky grew pink with shades of yellow, I got out of my sleeping bag. The ground was soft with black ash and my flip flops were near useless, but I slipped them on…

  • Three Sisters hiking loop
    Adventure,  Lifestyle,  Travel,  Writing

    3 Sisters: Day One

    Hey, let’s go for a hike. We’re a hiking sort, me and Andy. Every year we try to spend at least a week in some mountains, walking around. That’s what they call it in other languages: walking. It takes some of the magic out of it, I think. Hiking is more than walking–it implies at least a small amount of challenge, an ample dose of isolation, and a great deal of scenery. We picked The Three Sisters Wilderness area in central Oregon, west of Bend. The highlight of the area, you may have guessed, are three volcanoes called The Three Sisters. Nicknamed Faith, Charity, and Hope, these three volcanoes have been recently…

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