Sunday, November 9, 2008

Speed Blogging!!!

So I have a lot to say and I don't want to bore you. Combining a few posts should do the trick. I'll do my best to write key details and leave out the fluff.

Grand Canyon was grand indeed. We hiked down from the North Rim to the bottom and then back up. three nights inside the canyon and a fourth night on the Rim at a sweet campsite called/on Cape Final. We both had a really good experience and want to go back and explore some more next time. At the bottom we camped on a plateau bordering the Colorado River (not at the massive campsite/lodge they've been so nice to place at the bottom of the canyon...it was full). We had to haul water up, but we were the only ones up there and it was my favorite night. A rodent also stole our sponge in the middle of the night. I would've gone for the snickers bars myself.




















More Pictures Not Coming Soon


After the GC, we met up with Jason and Heather again...this time to celebrate Halloween. Great night. It took us about 3/4 of the night to figure out that all you have to do to partake in the dieschity of Vegas on Halloween is to blurt out as loudly as possible what someone's costume is that is walking by.

"GHOST BUSTERS!!! BEETLEJUICE! BUBBLE WRAP!!"

Like that.

Jeremiah brought the camera, but I have a few of his pictures from the night. Costumes were as follows:

Mary - box of Kleenex (great costume for dancing in a crowded area)
Eric - Adam Morrison (recognized only by men in their 20's and early 30's)


Jason - Bubble Wrap
Heather - Caribou Barbie (aka, Sarah Palin)


Jeremiah - A Mexican
Citlali - An American

Friday, November 7, 2008

I Stand Before You...

...with mustache and scenery and nothing else. It's been a long, awkward fight to get where I am today, but I made it.

To the doubters out there: I told you I could grow it, bare chin and all. And to the children, the next generation, my inspiration: anything is possible. Anything.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Shame On Me

You know the saying "Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!"? Well, we enacted that saying last night in a not-very-ideal location.

It went like this.

We're on our way to Utah right now. We were staying in Sacramento Wednesday night and planned to make it to the Grand Canyon by Friday, splitting up the 12-13 hours of driving by camping in the Mojave desert. We didn't have a detailed map on hand of the Mojave, but we had a road map and a general idea of where to camp based on the nps.gov website. There are a few car campsites for $12 but the website also tempts you with free roadside camping on any dirt road in the park, at least 1/4 mile from any paved roads. I should also mention that 4-wheel drive being necessary was not exactly highlighted on their camping page either.

We arrived in the park around sunset and we wanted to find a spot to camp before it got too dark. First dirt road we came too we took. As soon as my truck pulled off the pavement I knew something bad was going to happen. It was soft, slow sand (definitely not what I would call dirt) and I didn't dare stop. We kept bouncing along until I saw an opening to turn and I whipped around. There were definitely some scary moments, but we eventually made it back onto the pavement. Barely. Whew! Close call.

So we kept going further down the paved road looking for a more substantial side road this time. A mile or two later we see a little hyundai looking thing parked just off the road (definitely not past 1/4 mile as supposedly required by the nps). Mary suggested we do the same and stick close to the road. I agreed (if a hyundai can do, then my truck sure can) and soon enough we were on another small dirt road. Fool me twice! I could feel the tires spinning and losing traction, so naturally I did the same thing as last time. I didn't stop. I figured at some point the dirt road would reconnect with the pavement and I had good reason to since the dirt road we were on paralleled the pavement, almost like it was the shoulder. The only problem was that I was wrong. The sand started slowely descending away from the level of the main road, until it was more like a ditch than a shoulder. Then, a few moments later, I was officially stuck. Shame on me.

We had roadside assitance, but we still tried to free the truck ourselves before giving in. Two hours went by with no luck (we'd move a few feet and then hit a soft spot again and a tire would dig in) so we gave in and called Progressive. Within an hour they had someone come and winch me out of the ditch. Really great guy. When we were filling out the paperwork afterwards, he asked for my mileage. 61616.1! Crazy huh? I'm pretty sure that's why we got stuck, stupid odometer.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cheaters!

My lack of recent posting can mean only one thing: we're cheating! We've inched our way back into society! We've gotten soft! Okay, that's really three things but I can't deny any of them.

See, we landed in Northern California which happens to have a high concentration of family and friends. So it's not really out of any weakness or lack of desire to "find ourselves" amongst the wind and trees. It's more out of a desire for familiar human contact, which was nice. Thank you to all who have housed us over the last 15 days or so...it means a lot.

So after a little over two weeks of not-camping we're off to Utah again to camp. I think the Grand Canyon is going to be our next stop on our way to Moab to finish off the season. Time has gone by so fast! I feel like we just started...

Monday, October 6, 2008

12 Hours Of Hiking

On Wednesday Mary and I hiked Mt. Whitney and we both agree that this was definitely the most challenging hike we’ve ever done. Yes, the 22 roundtrip miles were a lot to hike in a day. Yes, the 6,000 feet of elevation gain was difficult. However, the most challenging part of the hike was the altitude.

Mt. Whitney tops out at 14,497 feet according to the handout the ranger station gave us but the pain of oxygen deprivation started much sooner than that. For Mary, it hit around 11,000 feet; for me, around 13,000 feet. Appetites were lost, headaches were formed and our pace slowed considerably...but we made it! The funny thing is that once you get up there all you can think about is how you want to get down. The immediate view was spectacular, although the CA smog limited it considerably which was too bad.

We started at 6:30am (sun was just rising when we hit the trail) and ended a little after 6:30pm. 12 hours of hiking is too much for me but I’m glad Mary twisted my arm on this one. Here are some other random notes from our day on Mt. Whitney:

  • Met a 66 yo woman named Joan on our way down. She had hiked 11 miles that day...in Keds. I liked Joan.
  • I think I’d consider doing this again if I did it in three days, camping close to the summit so it wasn’t such a slog to get up there. That would also give more time to get used to the altitude.
  • Never eat Spam above 12,000 feet.
  • We didn’t reserve a permit like they say you have to. Just go mid-week when it isn’t peak season (with good weather of course) and get one from the Ranger Station. I can’t stand the fact that you are supposed to reserve a spot to hike.
  • Be prepared for a raging headache. We didn’t lose them until the following morning.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

After leaving Zion we made a quick pit-stop in Vegas. Our good friends Jason and Heather live there and they offered to board us for a couple nights. Hard to turn down a free shower and some good company.

We got to catch up, watch some football and tour the Channel 13 news station!! Heather’s a reporter there who also happens to be an excellent cornerback for their flag football team. It was great to be around friends again. Oh, and they have a pug. I’m sold.



Thanks Jason and Heather for letting us stay with you and for feeding us burritos!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mountain Spring Water

In hopes of dodging the snow, Mary and I decided to travel southward and landed in Zion National Park. We planned on hiking the West Rim Trail for two nights/three days. Most people pay for a shuttle to drop them off at one end of the trail and then proceed to hike (downhill) to the other end that’s in the heart of the park. Well, that option was $70 and we decided that was just a little too much to splurge on a backpacking trip. Instead, we went against conventional wisdom and planned to hike up the trail and then back down again. Woops. The six miles up to our campsite on the first night were absolutely brutal. It was hot, steep, and heavy since we had to carry more water than usual (given the whole desert thing).

We were told by the ranger that there should be a water source near our campsite. A spring. Well, there definitely was a water source. A spring. A festering pool/puddle of stale water complete with flies and yellow jackets. THANK YOU DESERT!!





The water wasn’t bad tasting and we didn’t get sick (some other people we ran into said they filtered from the other spring on the trail and felt ill). Needless to say, we only made it one night on this one. On the second day, we day hiked up the trail a bit further for some views and then made our way down. Two things played a role in our wussing out early. The "fresh" spring water and a nearby In-N-Out burger. Best decision of the trip thus far.


Click Here for More Pictures

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pam's Hot Sauce

Pam, your hot sauce rocks. In this barren land of bland, carbohydrate-filled food we're living in, your hot sauce is an oasis of spice, flavor and hope. I can't even tell you how much more enjoyable camping is because of it, but it is. Thank you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dear Wyoming,

I feel like we've known each other for years, and to think, we just met! Your beauty was mesmerizing when I first saw you. Remember when we enjoyed the sunset together at Lily Lake and the long stroll we took in Grand Teton National Park? I saw my first Moose with you! What great memories. Things were going so well.

Then you rained on me that morning. I guess those 300+ days of sunshine per year were meant for someone else. And what about the chili we made our last night together. Maybe if you had told me what a bad idea that was I could have avoided the next 16 hours.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I think it's time for me to move on. The time we spent together was memorable, yes, but I'm just not ready to be tied down at the moment. Please understand that it's not you, you're great. You're the best. I'm just not ready for that type of commitment yet.

Well, I guess this is it then. So long. And please, don't change.

-Eric

CLICK HERE FOR WY PICTURES

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yay Tetons!

ERIC!


MARY!


BETHANY!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Idaho Is Too Great...

It's official. Idaho has a special place in my heart. The preconceived notion that Idaho was only good for potatoes has been replaced, in my head, with the following slogan:

IDAHO - POTATOES AND SECRETLY BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAIN COMMUNITIES

We all know (or should know) about Sun Valley. But tucked away an hour and a half to the north is a small town (pop. 100) called Stanley that I fell in love with. Mary worked at a summer camp close to Stanley a few years back and couldn't wait to show it to me...and I'm glad she did.



The town survives on tourism in the summer (mostly rafting tours) but after labor day slowed way down. Not too good for Stanley I suppose, although I'm sure the locals would argue that, but it was great for us. It seemed like we had the place to ourselves. We camped, did some day hikes to mountain lakes, and stopped by Mary's summer camp to say hi.

Idaho was a very good week for us, outside of Stanley even. As such, I'd like to lay out the top five reasons why Idaho is too great...

5. WinCo Foods
We stumbled upon this gem of a grocery store during a gas stop in Meridian, ID. It had a Costco feel to it (warehouse layout with food stored on pallets) but you didn't buy in bulk. Just normal grocery store quantities, which is good when you are storing everything in a small cooler. The best part was how cheap it was! $0.42 mac-n-cheese, $0.82 for an eight-pack of chicken hot dogs, $0.30 for a can of tomato paste and $3.75/lb for Turkey sliced at the deli counter (to name a few...I saved the receipt I was so excited). We spent $59 and we still have more food after 10 days and only eating out once. If only there were more (we only came across one of them).


4. Free Camping
No one lives in central Idaho. Lots of land + no people = endless free campsites for Mary and Eric to stay at. Of course, the free campsites tend to have a slight deliverance feel to them, so we paid $5 to camp at the sites with some amenities, aka pit toilets. Still the large supply of freebs makes me like Idaho more. This is a picture from one of our campsites:


3. 75 mph Speed Limits
Apparently the government in Idaho understands that their citizens and visitors don't want to spend a lot of time near any metropolitan part of their state (except, of course, to shop at WinCo Foods). To facilitate this, they upped the speed limit on their interstates to a respectable 75 mph. Thank you Idaho for getting me away from Boise quicker than most other states would (legally) allow.

2. Great Mountains

You don't hear a lot of chatter about the Sawtooths or the White-Clouds, but they are some seriously cool mountains. The Sawtooths are very rugged and powerful, and the White-Clouds definitely win the award for most unique. I can't wait to get deep in there on a future trip.


1. Road Signs
Most of the time, road signs are used to display useful information to drivers. Now, I've driven a fair amount and Idaho definitely felt like it had a higher concentration of quality road signage (I'll have to discuss this with Mary's dad before stating it as fact). This makes me happy as a driver since hours on the road can get monotonous and there's nothing better to break up monotony than a quality road sign. The winners of Idaho road sign contest are best displayed visually (honorable mentions: Chuck-a-rama all you can eat buffet and the Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID):



You're right. Idaho is too great to litter.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE PICTURES

Clean Ratio

We're averaging one shower every five days so far.

My mustache still smells like campfire.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Idaho

Just finished a three day backpacking trip in Olympic National Park. Saw some bears and heard Elk bugling, which was a first for me and very, very cool. We were on a ridge and we could hear them in the valley below, echoing throughout the mountains. Very loud. Here is what it sounds like...this is not my video, just an example for those of you unfamiliar with it. We had a quick stop in Seattle to see family and watch an 80's movie, and now we're headed out to Idaho for some Sawtooth action. We'll end up in Grand Teton National Park by this weekend to meet up with Mary's friend Bethany who also happens to be on a road trip.

A short post, I know, but the road calls.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Living Out Of A Bag

Right now we're living out of a bag, which wouldn't be all that bad except for the fact that I don't have a coffee routine anymore. I used to be fully caffeinated by 9am and now I'm just a lost soul every morning, stumbling around with 50% of my potential brain function available to me. My friend Jeremiah would say, "Well my brain works 100% without coffee" and I would say to him "Well, Jer, mine does too." The distinction I'm making here is that it runs at 50% of my brain's potential without being caffeinated. Running the numbers real quick reveals that coffee squeezes out another 100% of brain power (that's 200% caffeinated and 100% non-caffeinated). That's a pretty big gap Jer. You're missing out on some serious brain potensh here.

It's 9am and in an hour we're going to be meeting a husband and wife to sell the Civic. We met the wife yesterday (she test drove it) and Mary and I feel good about selling the car to them. So, Seattle, it appears that this is it. This was the last thing holding us back so I guess this is goodbye. Tomorrow we're planning on heading to the Olympic Mountains for a 3-day backpacking trip in the Sol Duc River area . The trail gets up pretty high, so hopefully I'll get some good pictures.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fun Sandwich

Mary and I just got back from a 4-day backpacking trip down the coast of Vancouver Island, BC with our friends from MN, Erica and Josh. The trip was incredibly fun, but it was sandwiched between two slices of pain.

Let me explain.

Last Monday we moved out of our apartment. On our way down to Tacoma (where we're storing everything) my truck started to sputter out. Yay! I was thrilled. So we took Mary's car and made arrangements to have my truck picked up when Firestone was through figuring out and fixing the problem. Luckily, they figured out what was wrong while I still had a cell phone signal and I was able to ok the service. $488 of pain is not the best way to start off six-months of salary-free living, although the situation could have been much, much worse I guess.

That pain quickly faded though once we actually made it to the trail. The hike was simply great. Good exercise, Great company and whales! The trail hugged to coast the entire time (rising and falling in between beach access points). The north half of the trail had kelp beds paralleling the coast line, and feeding in the kelp were gray whales (some apparently live off the coast of Vancouver Island all summer; most migrate all the way to AK). It must drop off quickly because they were pretty close to the shore.



It's tough to explain how exhilarating it is to be hiking in a forest and then to all of a sudden hear a 50-foot whale take a deep breath, but you hear it and it makes your skin tingle and your heart race. At our lunch break on the first day we saw at least five whales cruise past us within a hundred feet from shore, some closer, and we'd see many more over the next three days. There weren't any spectacular jumps or tail displays, but a whale coming up for air was enough to widen your eyes and slap a huge grin on your face.



The hike was by no means easy, but completing it over 4 days left plenty of time to lounge around and enjoy the scenery. There was beach camping complete with camp fires, suspension bridges, bear sightings, and mushrooms. All very exciting! Besides the whales, the image that's burned into my head right now is a misty, morning sea scattered with cargo ships talking to each other in bellowing fog horns.



Now we're back in Washington and we're trying to get on our way. We still need to sell Mary's car and finish storing our stuff (we were in such a hurry with the truck mess that we had to dump most of it in a friend's garage). So there's still some more pain to deal with before we're truly free, but if this trip was an indicator of what's to come, then it'll be worth it.

Click Here To See More Pictures

Saturday, August 30, 2008

What's With The Mustache?

I suppose I have some explaining to do. See, I've seen your eyes rolling when I talk about growing out my mustache and I'm tired of it. You just don't get it, do you?

I think the best way to deal with this is with a fake Q&A session. I'll ask the questions and I'll give the answers. Here we go.

Q: What's with The Mustache, man? I mean, it's 2008 not 1908.
A: 1908 was a great year, man. The Grand Canyon was first set aside as a National Monument (later into a National Park), Teddy Roosevelt was still President of the U.S., and Mothers Day was first (publicly) celebrated in 1908 (Very Official Source: wikipedia). I might add that TR sported a mustache as well...I bet you wouldn't be making fun of him to his face.



Q: But don't you think it looks a little ridiculous?
A: Perhaps, but don't you think that wearing gloves filled with toxic, stinging ants for 10 minutes is ridiculous as well? My point here is that growing a mustache is a rite of passage for the modern man. Rites of passage have been an important part of human civilization for a long, long time and should be embraced, not ridiculed.

Q: So are you admitting that you haven't entered manhood yet? I'm not stating an opinion here, just following your logic.
A: I quit.

Q: So when can we expect to get our first glimpse of this thing?
A: When the time is right, a picture will be posted. In the meantime, you'll just have to be patient (and judging by the rate of growth so far, patience will be very, very important).

Q: Last question: Are you guys ever going to travel? You've been posting about mustaches for two weeks. This isn't what I signed up for.
A: Funny. We're leaving tomorrow to hike the Juan de Fuca Trail on the southwestern side of Vancouver Island, BC. We'll be leisurely hiking for five days with our friends from MN, Erica and Josh. We're very excited to officially be moving out of our apartment and beginning our travels.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What Else?

Did we remember to pack the yo-yo so we don't get bored? Did we remember to pack the travel ice-cream maker so that we can have ice-cream on the road? What?? You didn't pack either? Oh, you packed both!

Note: we do NOT have a travel ice cream maker...or a yo-yo

I think we've got just about everything we need, but there's still something missing. Something huge. Something that will lead us when our focus begins to waiver. That something is a motto. A mantra. A guiding light for me, Mary, and my mustache, transcribed into a single sentence of purpose.

Fortunately, I had a three hour plane ride yesterday to brainstorm. Unfortunately, I came up with too many and I can't decide which one to choose. Please help me choose our motto by voting on the poll on the right-hand side of the page:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

In The Spirit of The Olympic Games

I admit it. I'm mad at the 2008 Olympic Games. I'm angry that there are 10 year olds competing on the Chinese gymnastics team. I'm upset that I haven't slept for more than 5 and a half hours in a single night over the past week...Thanks NBC! I'm annoyed that I have more important things to do than watch the Olympics, like packing for the next year of my life.

So what am I going to do about it? I'm gonna get pumped about growing a mustache! To accomplish this (and in the spirit of the Olympic Games), I'd like to salute some of my favorite mustaches that the summer games have given us:


#5
Zdeslav Vrdoljak - Croatia

On a team loaded with talent (they are ranked #1 in this year's Olympics), Vrdoljak is their captain. The Croatian water polo team's decision to sport mustaches throughout the games to boost team unity is, in my opinion, the greatest idea in Olympic history. Better than Kerri Strug's decision to vault on a hurt leg to win a team gold; better than forming a bobsled team from Jamaica.

Some day, I will travel to Croatia where I am sure to annoy even the most hospitable Croats with my incessant mustache praise. I will be looking for a team photo at the end of the Olympics, when the growth will be at its best.


#4
Bela Karolyi - Romania/USA

Legendary gymnastics coach for both Romania and the USA, in his later years, who also happens to have a very thick mustache. Among the notable gymnasts he has trained at some point are Nadia Comaneci (Romania), Mary Lou Retton (USA), Kerri Strug (USA) and Dominique Moceanu (USA).

Karolyi is a character though. I can't imagine thinking about US Gymnastics without thinking of him.


#3
Daley Thompson - Great Britain

Decathletes really impress me. Decathletes with mustaches REALLY impress me. Daley Thompson was a world record holder in the Decathlon for most of 1980-1992, before Dan O'Brien finally broke Thompson's world record score of 8,847 points that had stood for eight years. He is very highly regarded and is one of the best decathletes of all time.

On top of his domination in the 80's, Daley had a rivalry with a monster West German, J├╝rgen Hingsen (who ALSO happened to have an incredible mustache). Great storyline; better 'staches.


#2
Steve Prefontaine - USA

He didn't medal in the 1972 5k and his career and life were cut short after a tragic accident. He did, however, have a great passion for running and a beautiful mustache.







#1
Mark Spitz - USA

Kudos to Michael Phelps for breaking his record this year. But the best part of the whole Phelps saga isn't that he beat the record, it's the thrusting of Mark Spitz back into the popular eye.





I'll end with a quote to inspire my future mustache growing, from the #1, Mark Spitz, himself:
"When I went to the Olympics, I had every intention of shaving the mustache off, but I realized I was getting so many comments about it - and everybody was talking about it - that I decided to keep it. "
-Mark Spitz

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Chair

Today I sold my green recliner.



As I mentioned in my last post, we're trying to downsize so we don't have to store a lot of stuff, but man I wasn't prepared for what happened after I sold it. I cried. Seriously?! Yes. Does that make me less of a man? Maybe, but at least I cried about a recliner instead of, say, the ending of Atonement. Ok, I might have cried at the ending of Atonement too. You have to understand though! Me and that chair go way back, back to high school when it was in my mom's house, then onto college with me at UCLA, and then onto Seattle with me. Now it's in someone else's house with someone else's feet on it. That hits deep.

Oh, I failed to mention that the guy I sold it to was named Eric too. Weird huh?! I did like him during the 3 minutes we exchanged pleasantries and cash, so at least I can feel like it went to a good home. Plus, the whole Eric thing makes me feel like I'm still connected in a way.

Back to my feelings.

As Eric's truck pulled away, the memories started pouring through my head. Fisher, asleep on the recliner. Myself, asleep on the recliner. Mike, asleep on the recliner. Alex, asleep on the recliner. It was powerful. So many memories I just couldn't take it. I think part of it was that it symbolized that we're actually moving on. It was the first big item to leave the apartment and it started to sink in that this is actually happening. We're really going to travel...and I guess it wasn't as easy as I thought it'd be.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Preparaish

Preparations are officially underway for our travels around the west. We've been going through our stuff and sorting, wrapping, packing, selling, giving away...and even buying a few things. Ultimately, our goal is to be light and nimble travelers so that we don't have to worry about anything being lost, stolen, underused or redundant. We do want to be prepared though, so a lot of thought has gone into what we need and don't need.

Take the case of our underpants. A vital garment by anyone's standards, but how many pairs should we bring so that our light and nimble goal reconciles with what we've actually brought with us? The solution: Ex Officio underpants.


Product Details:

* Air-dries within hours so you can wash as you go and pack fewer pairs
* Extremely breathable, moisture-wicking, odor resistant finish keeps you comfortable
* Terry elastic back and functional fly for ease

Wash as you go, pack fewer pairs, odor resistant, easy...that's what I'm talking about! We each have two pairs for the hundreds of miles of hiking and gallons of sweating that awaits us.

light and nimble?

I think so.