After basically not running all winter, I ran three races in four weeks and hit some exciting personal bests. But doing well makes me want to do even better, so I’ve signed up for the 14 mile Devil on the Divide race on September 7. It features 3,300 ft of elevation gain with a summit at 13,200 feet. Every summer weekend I’m not hiking a 14er (which is never going to happen because they’re all still covered in snow!), I’ll be running up Flagstaff, Sunshine, Four Mile, Magnolia, and all the other Boulder roads that head straight up from the canyon floor into the foothills. But why get ahead of myself? That race is many months away, so right now I should be celebrating this year’s early wins!
Back on April 28th, Trotsky and I hiked up to the Eagle’s View in Reynold’s Park. When we got to the 250 degree view at the top with a sea of green trees below and unique rock formations poking through and the snow-capped Rockies way out in the distance, I must have gotten a little dirt in my eyes because they got red and watery. Okay, okay, fine. I confess. I teared up. I had waited so, so, so long for this winter to be over, to be able to linger in the sunshine at the top of a trail and not hurriedly push through, shoulders hunched against the cold. To inhale the scent of the pine needles with every step and listen to the birds singing about the arrival of spring. To find a dry spot to sit down and share a picnic with my old dog. I was unbelievably happy in that moment and got a little carried away.
For my 40th birthday, I was toying around with the idea of a long weekend with friends somewhere like Nashville, Asheville, or New Orleans. But when tickets came up to Belize for $350 round trip, well, plans changed. Melissa (who turns 40 just six weeks after me) and I snapped up that deal and started planning caving expeditions, hikes, beach time, and snorkeling. It was a magnificent trip! Everyone should go. Belize is beautiful, safe, exciting, uncrowded, and filled with some of the most genuine and friendly people in the world. Here are seven highlights from my seven days. Continue reading →
My two year unofficial hiking project is complete. Yeah, I missed my mark by a few weeks (February 19, 2017 to March 9, 2019) but close enough. In just about two years, I’ve completed 100 distinct hikes. I use word “hike” loosely in this context to mean anything from a two mile stroll up a wide, well-maintained, packed dirt road at sea level with no elevation gain to a nine mile, 4,000 ft + elevation gain, nine-hour slog that sometimes required my hands to pull myself up the steepest spots. Some of these were trail runs, some were on snowshoes, and one was completely through water that was waist high at some points. What they all have in common is that they were in nature, not on any kind of pavement. Sure, I put hundreds of additional miles on my feet in this time, roaming around Zurich, Venice, Milan, Madrid, Beijing, Shanghai, Portland, Kansas City, and so many other great urban areas, and I completed countless recreational runs on pavement and duplicated many hikes, but this post only counts unique wilderness missions. Continue reading →
Holy moly was China ever cold. So, so cold. My first day there, my tour guide looked at what I was wearing and said she didn’t think I’d be warm enough. I was wearing all the usual winter clothes: knit hat, scarf, gloves, boots, and heavy wool coat. I laughed it off. I was born in Buffalo and I live in Colorado. I walk my dog twice a day, year round on zero degree days and in ice storms. I snowshoe. I went camping on a night that got down into the 20s this year. I can handle the cold. Continue reading →
I’m going to start this post by saying that I was blown away by all my tour guides’ English abilities. Seriously blown away. As tour guides, I expected their English to be good, but they all had vocabularies far beyond what I expected. They understood everything I and the other guests asked, they understood all the different accents and levels of English skill of my fellow travelers, and they could talk at length about any subject we threw at them. They spoke fluidly and easily and rarely struggled for the right words. And this from people, with only one exception, who had never spent time in an English speaking country. Continue reading →
One thing I noticed fairly early on in my trip is that the Chinese use the word “new” to talk about anything from the Qing dynasty onward. The Qing dynasty started in 1636, just moments after the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock. The thousands of years of dynasties before that are the real history to the Chinese. They’ll talk about sections of the Great Wall or ancient palaces and gardens that are “new” because the Qing restored them…300 years ago. Or even the Mings, who ruled from 1368-1636! This different frame of reference fascinates me. I realize that the land of the United States was not vacant prior to 1620, but the history of me as an American, the history I can identify with, is only as old as what is “new” to the Chinese.
When I lived in Russia, I felt incredibly safe as an average citizen (that is, someone not involved in politics or oil or big business or journalism). The sheer volume of people in places I lived and the large police presence made me feel more secure than I generally do in cities in the United States. The lack of vagrants and the knowledge that most people do not have handguns probably contributed to that feeling as well. The final contributing factor is the dark history these countries have of pitting people against each other as “thought police” to rat out enemies of the state. You get the sense that someone is always watching and would jump in when someone acts out of line. Continue reading →
Prior to my trip, I learned a bit of Mandarin, including the essentials like basic food and drink. So I knew how to read and say different kinds of meat, noodles, water, beer, and a few other key words. But what I didn’t know were the words for the hundreds of different types of vegetables that the Chinese have. So many vegetables! It was wonderful. Too often when I travel, I find I’m fiending for vegetables when I get back home. Most countries seem to either not have as many available as we do in the United States, or only served them boiled or pickled or otherwise altered. But not China. China has all the vegetables your body could possibly crave, and then some. And fruits and sauces and other meats I couldn’t identify. And dumplings! I ate so many dumplings and rarely knew what was in them. I really don’t know how people with dietary restrictions travel. I figure it’s best not to ask too many questions – just let go of your cultural limitations of what is okay to eat, try everything, and enjoy! Well, maybe. Hold that thought until my last bullet point below. Continue reading →
With 1.4 billion people and 15 cities with over 10 million people each, transportation in China needs to be a well-oiled machine. And it is! All those people are on the move every day with bicycles, scooters (many of them electric), cars (many of them also electric because China has understood that you have to build the infrastructure first (i.e. charging stations) if you want people to buy electric cars), buses, ridiculously cheap taxis (but no Uber), the metro, planes, and the fantastic bullet train. The bullet train was very much part of my “must-do” list for this trip. It’s a bizarre thing to look out the window of something that is moving so fast that a plane coming in for a landing appears to be suspended, motionless in the sky. Continue reading →