Saturday, March 14, 2009

Yurt Expedition in March

An Experience in Backpacking,
Yurting, & Cross Country Skiing....

Well, it was with no set of small hesitation that I started this adventure. I mean the last time I went backpacking; the result was three grownups, and a dog in a borrowed two man tent. I figured that I wouldn't be far from civilization being at the top of Millcreek Canyon. So I thought things can't get too bad. So what the HELL?!?

We left on Monday morning from Bee's house about 10am-ish. I have to tell you that 4.5 miles, my fourth time being on cross country skis, and a 30lb. backpack on your back is quite a workout indeed! Polly (sled in tow)quickly left us in the dust. And the "Mighty Dog" Bingo with his 4"legs really put the rest of us to shame. (Above Photo at right: The "Mighty" Bingo) I think that Henry's male ego really had an issue that a dog beat him to the top.

(Above Photo: Henry showing some attitude!)

(Above Photo: Henry and Bee laden with backpacks with Astra moving up the canyon road.)
I quickly felt I was way over my head as Bee and Henry often ended up waiting for me. (Thanks guys!) I, also, discovered that I had put my sleeping bag in the wrong place on the backpack. They were able to get me fixed up on the way up, as we pressed on towards the top. About 3/4 of the way up, the snow really started to come down. I was glad that I had packed everything in plastic bags. About this time I started to experience my feet hurting. The nearest that I could describe the feeling---"hot foot"; which some of my bicycling friends could understand. The last 40 yards to the yurt I was almost in tears. I ended up taking the cross country skis off and walking the rest of the way. Amazing Polly had the yurt nice and warm. They had me sit down take my boots off and elevating my feet. My feet were all swollen. Strange!

(Above Photos: Polly-face hidden, and Henry with Bee in background at the table in yurt. And me reading about a light stick to Henry with the wood burning stove in background.)
It was all nice and comfy in the yurt, and I was surprised at how large it was inside. It sleeps eight. There was enough bunk bed areas for 6 and I guess the other two were supposed to sleep on the floor? You cook on the flat top surface of the wood burning stove. The first night, Henry and I were in charge of dinner. We made Potato Soup, Backpacker's Pad Thai, and my Homemade Oatmeal Butterscotch Cookie Bars for dessert. Food never tastes as good as after a 4.5 mile workout up a canyon with a 30lb. weight on your back. Why is that?

The whole night it snowed and it was still going when I got up at 5:30am. We were melting snow for water so while everyone else was asleep in the morning, I re stoked the fire and started getting water for our morning meals. It seemed only fair since I slept like a log through the night and everyone else got up through the night to re stoke the fire. Oh the view from the yurt was simply beautiful with all of the fresh snow!
(Photo: THEE view from the yurt on Tuesday morning!)

(Above Photos: The happier skiers and myself and "Mighty" Bingo keeping warm in the yurt. AND Below Photos: Bee enjoying the day on skis, and Polly in a self portrait shot--silly gal!)

The next day after breakfast we ventured out to do some Cross Country Skiing. Everyone one but me had three opportunities but I was a "woosh" the first time. My hands were not getting warm in my gloves. The second time I did venture out only to reach my limit of three falls! One of which I was flat on my back with the skis pointing straight up. They told me I made a cute Snow Angel, but I didn't really believe them. Thank goodness I had the camera, or you really would have seen what kind of fool I CAN really look like. The third time of venturing out for some more skiing, I stayed indoors with the "Mighty" Bingo. We were really nice and toasty in the yurt while the others were out.

The second night, Polly and Bee were responsible for the dinner. We started off with grilled vegetables that had been marinated in a vinaigrette served with crackers and cheese. The main course was a pesto with sun dried tomatoes with pasta. Homemade espresso truffles were made for dessert. Well, I did break my Lent and have one of the espresso truffles. It was delicious! When we weren't making meals in the yurt we were reading, or chatting about all kinds of things. It really was a most relaxing time away from the electronics of the world.(Above Photo at right--Astra wiped out from a day of playing in the snow. The poor gal!)

On the way down, Polly offered to take my backpack in the sled behind here. The wonderful gal! Then, Bee, the other wonderful gal, offered to take my skis down until the road leveled out. Did I mention that I have a terrible time with going downhill on cross country skis? Bee, and I left a little earlier than Polly and Henry who stayed to do the final cleaning of the yurt. (Such Troopers!) Bee and I started down. About a half mile down we started seeing fresh moose tracks with another smaller tracks. It looked like there was a Mom and her little one. Made me a little nervous, but we continued down, keeping our eyes peeled. We got to a flat area, and I put on the skis. Another mile down the road off to the side of the road we saw HUGE Mama Moose! She was probably 1400lbs! We backed up the road and decided to wait and see what happened. Eventually, there were other skiers, and snowshoe rs that came up the road and the Moose went up the Mountain away form the road. Meanwhile, both Henry and Polly had caught up with us. (Photo at right: Momma Moose as close as I could get a shot.)

Well, needless to say I made it out alive! On the way home I ran by a fast food place and grabbed a cheeseburger. Then after that the priority was a nice LONG hot shower! But I will admit I did have a great deal of fun! Thanks to Bee, Polly, and Henry!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Lenten Journey---

Giving up the 3 C’s
(An Experiment in Suffering

--at least for one Catholic)

Well, I survived about a week and half of the Lenten Journey. It all starts with Ash Wednesday, and ends with Easter. Lent? What’s Lent? Well, it something that us Catholics suffer thru with our HUGE load of guilt in tote for 40 days every year. Most times we decide to give up something; and some of us are successful, and some not . Those that are not too successful we end up putting change in a paper bowl to help ease some of that terrible guilt. Not all of us give something up either. Some will donate their time to charities or be more thoughtful to their fellow man in some form. But I like to think of it as being a cleansing period, and through that cleansing being conscious of myself and my relationship with God.

This year I decided to give up the 3 C’s. I know what you’re thinking; the three C’s? What are the three C’s? And before your imagination has been all sorts of worked up and you have checked out the C section of the Webster, let me answer that question. The 3 C’s that I’m talking about are--- Coffee, Chocolate, and Caffeine. Not an easy task for someone like me who drinks almost a whole pot of coffee a day. I LOVE the smell, the taste, and just in general feel that nothing can compete with a good cup of Joe after a nice dinner. Believe me it’s not something easy to give up. The chocolate is easier for me to give up, and the caffeine, well, that’s just so I don’t substitute something else for the coffee with another caffeinated beverage which feels like cheating to me.

DAY 1---
I feel as though I’m sleepwalking. In fact, I can’t remember most of the day; other than it did pass. Somehow, I managed to get to work, and thru the rest of my day. I just can’t remember how. But in the process I think I figured out what they did to all those extras that worked on the set of “The Night of the Living Dead”. They obviously denied them access to caffeine 8 hours before they came on the set. How else could they have gotten those sluggish vacant looks? So at the end of the day, I look like the living dead with a huge ashes cross on my forehead after leaving the Ash Wednesday Mass.

DAY 2 ---
I’m dragging BIG TIME! It’s like I’m moving in slow motion and everyone is on regular time. Try as I may I just can’t catch up, and I keep on yawning and yawning. I really am starting to question why I did this, and my sanity for that matter, too! Am I a little bit masochistic? I definitely avoided using any freeway or faster traffic routes in my car. I actually wanted to go to bed at 8PM; haven’t done that since I was 11 years old when that was my bedtime.

DAY 3 ---
BIG YAWN!! I just can’t seem to stop yawning, and I’m not sure if my mental processing is working. I’m still dragging but not in as much slow motion as yesterday. Oh, did I mention I feel like I’m always starving. I also gave up snacking between meals. Oh, and today is Fish Friday. So I got to watch fellow workers devour big juicy hamburgers while I ate my tuna fish sandwich. This is past fun; it’s the thrill of the challenge or something like that. I also had to run to the grocery store to purchase some herbal tea. Why are most of them fruits? Can we please make them more interesting than just fruits, please?

DAY 4---
HUGE headache!!!!!! Ouch! And double ouch! I was wondering when this would hit or maybe it was there all along and I was so dazed and sleepy that I didn’t notice it. I opted to go for a bike ride hoping the endorphins from exercising will make all of the difference. Well, it did for about an hour and a half or so then they wore off and I found myself dehydrated and with a headache. Kind of like a hangover only without the fun of drinking.

DAY 5---
I’m still yawning quite a bit, and really having issues with trying to wake up and get going in the morning. I made it church WAY later than normal. No practicing the songs before Mass for me. Thank God for captive audiences!

DAY 6 – 10---
I’m getting better at not yawning, and I think that my mental processes seem to be back but the days seem to be dragging still a little. I managed to catch a Spin class at the fitness center, and for some reason the rest of the night I felt like I was on overdrive! Strange. Oh, and did I happen to mention it seems like everywhere I go they are offering me chocolate. I feel like it’s a conspiracy!

DAY 11--- Skip the Saturday early morning Spin class, all I want to do is SLEEP in. I do till almost 10AM which is unusual for me. Most mornings I’m lucky to sleep past 8AM. I’m getting ready to go on a yurt excursion, and trying to figure out to make my backpack light as possible. Just when I get it all packed I notice that I forgot something. This is the fourth time this has happened to me; maybe my mental abilities aren’t back yet?

Day 12---
Thank the Lord that Jean VanD texted me this morning, or I would have missed church completely with the “Spring Ahead” time change. Day Light Savings---talk about an experiment in masochism or I guess i Should more aptly say is," Who was the sadistic person to come up with it! But I will say that I feel the most normal ( give me some latitude here on this ) today that I have felt since the night before Ash Wednesday.

Now I only have 5 more weeks of this Lenten Journey left. Well, it should be a piece of cake, but I’ll keep you posted.