Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Just Because I Could

I made myself pancakes this morning. Whole wheat, oat pancakes rolled up with strawberry jam filling. Ever since was a little girl I have preferred jam in my pancakes. There is no love loss when I am out of maple syrup. Its the jam and preserves that take over the door of my fridge not the sticky golden nectar.

With a stack of the hot, golden wonders I push aside a tower of the books and note books that litter the coffee table. Putting my ever present cup of Earl Gray down on a coaster I slide the plate out of the other and it steams next to my key board. NPR is streaming through my lap top telling me about today's good, bad and ugly as I take a pancake and smear a generous amount of strawberry jam down the middle. I roll it up in my fingers and eat every one just the same.

With a pancake in one hand and Earl Gray in the other I wonder silently to myself, "Why is it that I have never made pancakes for just me until now?" Well the fact of it is, this is my first pancake morning alone and since I make the best pancakes I have ever had I don't think this is going to be the last.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Letter, To Chiuaua Owner

(I run into a few characters while I am out and about in sunny California and this man and his dog caught my attention.)

Dear Chiuaua Puppy Owner,

Your Chiuaua is the cutest puppy I have seen in years. (I should know as I regularly check a website called I was taken by our brief glance. Your puppies bright, black eyes meeting mine, in the double left hand turn lane off of Fremont. Its little damp nose streaking your minivans window as you struggle to keep it from jumping on the dash was a heart warming moment I will not soon forget.

You also looked over for a moment and I have to say that I was taken by you too. Your clean shaved head in concert with your long, dark brown beard that swept at the collar of your rock'n'roll t-shirt that was in turn engulfed by a black leather vest was something to behold. As if you could not have planned your look any better the tattooed sleeves that so colourfully covered your arms must have extended up your neck because more of it was dangerously close to your left ear. Ah! That left ear that held the gold earring that just made the look complete.

The wonderful contrast of one of the largest, most menacing looking men I could ever begin to describe. With the tiniest, cutest Chiuaua puppy squirming in your overly large tattooed arms. While franticly licking your face as you drove will make not only my night, but perhaps my week.

Kind Regards,

Monday, August 24, 2009

Adventures in Hiking: Half Dome

I am a novice hiker. I do about eight miles on average each hike and I find that to be more than enough challenge and fun for me. Last summer was my summer of hiking. It was epic and unforgettable. However, this year with so much moving and travel my hiking has gone by the way side for adventures of a different kind. There was one hike that toped my mile list last summer; it was 11 miles of beauty. Legging Half Dome at 16 plus miles puts them all to shame.

To start, the drive was four hours to the hike itself. We all met at 8pm, drove into the night, and started the epic hike at midnight after joining some fellow hikers. The moon being just past full meaning we could go without using our head lamps for much of the way. This was part of the beauty I was looking for. Seeing a mountain landscape by the light of the moon is hauntingly beautiful. The full moon also meant our little party of seven was joined at the trail head by over 25 more eager hikers. By the end of the night we will have seen more than 50 hikers populating the trail and peppering it with their bobbing head lamps above and below.

The plan was to make it to the top before sunrise and have a breakfast befitting such an epic struggle as the sun peaked over the valley. I was by far the slowest in the group, but that did not matter much after the first two gruelling miles of pavement (yes, the first leg of the trail was paved) up to The Stairs. Much like Gollum leading the hobbits into Mordor we climbed huge carved chunks of blasted rock made into the steepest stir way I have ever experienced. By this time it was just Tim and I, the others having gone ahead long ago. The beauty of the Mist Trail is in the falls that almost constantly soak the stairs in a fine mist. With the light of the moon on the huge gulf below and the sound of the water rushing by it was the experience of a life time.

After the stairs was a long stretch of flat sand with a slow moving stretch of river next to it and then more steep up. By this time I was no longer paying attention to my surroundings. The temperature was clod enough for a jacket, but too hot to hike in. The last two miles were the hardest thing I have ever done. I have hiked one 14ner (that's a mountain over 14,000 feet high) and this was much more of a struggle. Every step was the greatest effort and I did not want to stop till we got to the Cable Route. I knew I would not get to the top when told what the Cable Route was. You see I am afraid of heights, but I was going to get as close as possible.

I made it to my summit at 6:00am. It was just 3/4 of a mile from the top, but the 3/4 of a mile that was strait up. I laid on my rock, had a small snack with Tim and sent him off to the Cable Route. I took sunrise photos of the valley below and slept for almost two and a half hours laying on my pack, bundled into my coat and gloves as the sun warmed everything it touched. It was glorious. The guys came back down and we cooked breakfast, ate, rested, and talked of the beauty surrounding us. Instant coffee never tasted so good.

Coming back down we were four once again and played on the rocks, looked at the landscape in the morning light and chatted. We stopped by the over look to the falls and I rinsed my face and neck in the icy cold water as a rock squirrel tried to eat Tim's pack for breakfast leftovers. Seeing the trail in the light of day is like hiking a different trail altogether. The world opens wide and you can see now what you only heard before.

We got back to the car exhausted, dirty, hot, and triumphant. We stopped at a roadside diner and had a great meal of burgers and milk shakes. The drive home was long, but quite as the passengers were dozing. Again coffee never tasted so good. I pulled Andrew's car in front of his place and Tim and I packed up our car, said our good bye's and drove home to much deserved showers. All told it was 24 hours of adventure and thought at some points I struggled it was worth every step.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sweet, Swirling, Steaming Sensation.

I bought a new mug. Its the most expensive mug I have ever bought. A gift card was given to Tim for a referral and he in turn gave it to me. $20 won't buy you much from Starbucks, but it will get you two very expensive overly large (clearance) mugs, one pastry, and one small frozen all too sweet beverage. I have also just bought a new tin of lose Earl Gray and have reveled in each morning sip since opening it a few days ago.

My poetry will not be making me any money, but I liked this one and thought I would share...


Tea is Comfort.
Steaming in my favourite mug,
every morning, waiting for me.
Swirls of dark perfume,
wisping sweetness of beauty.
Speaking of the day to come,
longing for the mornings.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Glass Is Half Full

After a hard day touring Liechtenstein, what with all the beautiful mountains and cool stuff to see, we were exhausted. I was in need of a beer. My brother and I decided to split one because the bottles are full pints. Its not that neither of us could drink a whole pint, its that we didn't really want to have a beer, but its the done thing when one is on holiday in the Alps. We order at random, my MO when traveling, then that first sip tells me that this is the best beer I have ever had. My brother grins across the table at me and we order another.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Going Home

I am heading home in less than 24 hours. I will miss this wonderful place and all the adventures that have been had, but those will have to wait until I get home. I will be posting more of my time here in the Alps from home, but as I have no pictures I want to have those when I post some of the things I have seen.

Until then.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Not In Kansas Any More

I am looking out at another beautiful day here and am reminded of the storm we had a few days ago. This is an excerpt from my journal...

"Right now there is so much wind raging outside it feels like a tornado is coming down the valley! The dark clouds are gathering over the mountains and foothills and a violent wind is crashing against everything! Its crazy. The trees are half bent over and things are creaking, snapping, and flying all around.

I have not seen anything like it in a very long time. The sky looks almost like its boiling. The open windows are slamming in protest to the wind's assaults and Jen is securing the last of them in the living room. Batten down the hatches!"

Ever since that day on every outing Jen and I have there are signs of the storm everywhere. Down trees ripped out of hill sides with roots as tall as me twice over. I see crews of men cutting off branches that are dangling awkwardly and removing large old trees that fell victim to this great wind.

Today, however, is beautiful and I have already been to the Saturday market here in Lustenau. I think another great bike ride today is in order and perhaps some swimming in the river.