Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Far Away Adventures

This has been going on for a year now. If you have followed along for awhile, we are an adventure family. In fact if you look through the archives you'll see that this was started when we lived in Germany or just shortly before we moved there. We are extremely patriotic for our country and at the same time we have a thirst for the world.

Almost exactly a year ago we shipped our son off to the Marines. It was a proud moment for all three of us and we knew he was in good hands. Mary came to me with an idea she had been working on. Thursday marks the "end" or actually the beginning. Let's go back.

In August of last year to make extra money Mary started tutoring. Imagine you need help in a language and there is a Dr. Jewell with a Doctorate in Language Aquisition on line willing to do some tutoring. She got so busy she had to turn people away. She worked 6 days a week. The only night off was Friday. All the while she was still teaching high school students full time. Her school salary went to the family. Her tutoring money went into the bank.
At the same time we both worked on cutting our expenses. We stopped going out to eat. We stopped going for coffee. We cut back on movies and other stuff. We sold stuff on eBay. Lot's of stuff.

Thursday she flies to Kazakhstan. There she will spend a few days adjusting to the time change and touring the country. He main goal is to visit a Gulag. Then she flys to Mongolia. She'll be there for almost 8 weeks. Her first 2-3 weeks will be teaching English on an organic farm where tourists go to work on the farm. The actual farm workers need to learn English to better communicate with the tourists. Then she heads to the Gobi Desert for 3-4 weeks. There she is teaching English at a school.

This starts a year of adventure for her as she takes a year sabbatical from her real job. More than likely there trip in my future with her for a time.

People ask me all the time, "what will you do when Mary is gone". There is lot's to do to get ready for the next round of research on races. Berlin, Chicago, Kona and NYC are on the horizon. There is also another project I'm working on that I'll announce soon. It's something I've been doing for years now and it's time to actually put it to the test instead of simply word of mouth.

If you have questions on how we saved for this adventure or any of the many adventures we go on hit me up in the comments. I'd be happy to share how we go through the budgeting process.

It's a good life.....

Monday, July 17, 2017

It's an Option to Make it Up, It's Required to Make it Down

That's the big learning from this past weekend on Mt. Whitney. It's the highest mountain in the lower 48 and it's not a joke of a climb. If you do it the way we did it's 22 miles round trip. The really important thing is that it's 22 miles and not 11 miles.

Roughly 10 days or so before the date we climbed, I was invited to climb. My climbing partner had the pass for the mountain and his planned climbing buddy had backed out. He had climbed Mt. Raineer and Mt Shasta previously. I had climbed nothing but easy day hikes over the years.  The only thing going for me was my fitness and my thirst for knowledge. I've read so many climbing books that I feel a kinship to climbers.

We started in the dark and the day opened to some of the most beautiful natural colors. 

Mirror Lake sits at 10,000 feet and is 4 miles into the climb. 

The next section began the more technical climbing. There are 12 total water crossings. You can't see it but the water is above my ankles. Yes, I chose to wear the Altra Superior. I had no foot issues so I consider it a success. 

There is of course beauty all along. The hard parts of this section were the 5 snow fields we had to cross. Those snow fields got us to 13,000 feet. 

There are two ways to get to the turn to the summit. They both take some work. The way we went was the wall called switchbacks. It's 99 switchbacks that go straight up the wall. There were also 3 precarious snow crossings. 

At the turn it's 1.9 miles to the summit. It's the longest 1.9 miles I've ever had. 2 hours long to be exact. The payoff was spectacular. 

On the way up, my climbing partner and I stayed together for the first 5 hours. This got us to roughly 1/2 way up the switchbacks. He started to feel the effects of the altitude and the effort and we agreed that I go ahead. By this time I had drunk 3.5 liters of water or electrolytes and I'm sure he had 10 ounces. I made it to the top of the switch backs and waited. I caught glimpse of him and realized he was an hour behind me. I had a decision to make. There were lots of climbers on the route below and based on our discussions, he would turn around or stop and wait if he felt the need. I went for the summit. 

At the summit I had some food, changed into dry socks and felt great. I headed down soon after meeting the mom and son who took the picture and the young woman hiking the PCT. The way down was much easier and much faster. In fact a young woman we met at 13,000 feet was spot on with her time prediction. We met her at 8:00am. She said it would take us 4 hours to climb up and 2 hours to climb down. I hit the summit at exactly 12:00pm. 

At 30 minutes into the descent I ran into my climbing buddy. I was surprised he had made it that far. I gave him as much encouragement I could to make the top. I told him it was only 1 hour away and that I would wait right where we were standing for him to come back. He asked me to summit with him and that was out of the question. He asked for some water which I gave him. I settled into the shade and he started moving. 2 minutes later he was back and done. He basically said "I have no energy left, let's head down" 

I had him lead so I could watch. It took us 2 hours to get to the top of the switchbacks. I would have been there 90 minutes before we arrived. In the nicest way I could I told him to stop and eat. Then I said "We have one goal and only one option and that is to make it down off this mountain" 

Down the switch backs it was more of the same but a little better. The food was kicking in to him and he was able to somewhat follow my pace. I kept the pace very slow. It took us 2.5 hours to get off the switchbacks. It took me 2 hours to climb them. 

From the the 13,000 foot camp I made some poor decisions that cost us some time. Once we found our way I put him in on front and followed his pace. You are only as fast as the slowest in a case like this and it was the safest way to go down. It was slow going. 

We made it down at 9:30pm a full 17.5 hours after we started. Although it was a very tough day it was totally worth it. My buddy went through all of the emotions of failure and by the bottom was in good spirits. We didn't talk much the last 4 hours of the hike but we did have some laughs in the car going back to the hotel. 

There were times on the way up that I sensed we were in for a day like this. The pace early seemed too fast. I was worried about his lack of water consumption. I ate about 3,000 calories he probably had 500. Boiled eggs are not calorie dense. Most of all though I think he just has a tough time in thin air. I don't. In fact the higher I went the better I felt. There is some fitness in there buy my Dad always said "You were born at 8,000 feet and it's in there when you need it". 

My suggestion for anyone that wants to climb. Take your time. Climb to the camp at 13,000 feet. Spend the night or two nights there. Then go for the summit. It gives you time to get used the thin air. It's simply beautiful up there and your hike to the summit is only 4 hours up and 2 hours down. Much easier then 8 hours up and 9.5 hours down.

The best comment came from a woman I met in the park across the street from home. She said after meeting her "You look like a climber!"

It's a good life.....

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dear Mr. President

I won't put your name anywhere in this post. Your name shows up 30 or more times a day in everyone's life around the world. Don't let this fact cloud your brain. It's not your name causing the influx of media it's the office you sit in. Sure you were popular before becoming president but not as popular as the chair itself.

It is probably now too late. The recent email debacle with your son probably seals this possibility out but maybe not. There are two things you may still be able to do,  to save the office you sit in. Notice I'm not saying save your skin. The office is bigger than you,  remember.

  1. Admit whole heartedly that our #1 adversary in the world played havoc in our election. That's not admitting that they got you elected. It's simply denouncing the attack on our system. 
  2. Welcome a complete and full investigation into their actions. Put the full force of the DOJ on this issue and make sure it doesn't ever happen again. 
That's it. That's all you had to do. The entire country would (have) support you. Your mistake was thinking about yourself first. It's always been about you and that's your failing. It's not about you at all. 

It's a good life.....

Monday, July 10, 2017

Mountaineering Skills

I'm a huge fan of mountain climbing stories. Stories from famous climbers fill my book shelf. When I saw on the latest Mt. Whitney hiking update that this week you'll need crampons, an ice ax and mountaineering skills to make the top I was a little dismayed. I may love to read about high mountain adventures buy I'm in no way prepared to climb in high mountain conditions. Whitney is rated as a fairly easy climb. Not this year. Heavy snow fall this past winter has left a heavy snow pack and a slow melt.

The goal has changed. On Saturday we will hike as high as we can safely go.

It's a good life....

Thursday, July 6, 2017

First Vacation in Almost 3 Years

Never again will I go this long without taking real time off with the family to have fun and reflect. It was way too long and the stress that built up over that time became "normal" and that's not good. Everyone needs down time from everything. Down time from "training", down time from work and just plain old down time from the day to day grind that can be living at home.

Mary and I headed to Oahu, Hawaii to visit our USMC son Marco. It was so good to see him, it's hard to put into words. For the last year when I felt like I was having a tough day I tried to remember that my days are not tough. A tough day is being a US Marine Infantryman. PT is at 05:30 and then the training get's hard. Most days finish at 19:00 but there are times like an upcoming training block that will be 24 hours a day for 6 weeks. No bed, no showers and average of 3 hours of sleep a night.

Back to the vacation. I generally don't run or do much of any typical exercise when we vacation. The main reason is we walk almost everywhere. For instance on the 4th of July we walked 10 miles with 2 of those miles in deep sand on the beach. I do have one rule especially if vacation is on a tropical island. I must get wet every day. The only reason I'll usually run is if one or both family members runs with me.

We stayed in Kailua, Oahu and there are some similarities with Kailua, Kona. There is one main road along the beach that stretches for miles. This was our run course for our family run the day after we arrived. It always feels great to feel that Hawaiian heat building on your body as you run. You sweat so much trying to cool your body down and it's really difficult. As you can tell we had a great run. 

 Cockroach Cove

 Cockroach Cove

Cockroach Cove

 North Shore

The best day by far and the best 4th of July we've ever been a part of was Tuesday. We started day with the parade. There probably isn't a better parade on 4th of July than one in a military town. It was really fun. Then we went to the best beach in Oahu which was only 4 blocks from our house. Kailua Beach is a must see if you have time. White sand, warm water and not the crazy crowds and traffic of Waikiki. At 6 or 18:00 we were back at the beach for the fireworks celebration. We knew the Marine Corps Band was playing and wanted to see them. What they showed us was the best part of the entire day. It was a 7 member jazz band, dressed in full Marine dress walking down the beach playing their music. Think Mardi Gras Jazz band on the beach. They were outstanding and having a blast. The beach is narrow and it was packed with spectators. The band came down the beach in the white water of the waves. So much fun. 

The sad part of the 4th was at the end after the fireworks show. We had to drop our son off on base and say goodbye. He had to work a 06:00 to 06:00 duty shift. 

Mary and I went hiking on the 5th. We hiked up to Maunawili Falls. The maps said "Easy Hike" and advertised 1.5 miles. I didn't wear my GPS but it sure seemed longer than 1.5 miles and if this is what Hawaii calls easy I'd love to do one that was difficult. The falls were not the big falls you typically see on Hawaii promo videos. They were decent size but not the big ones. What made them fun was jumping off the rock face into the pool below the falls. There were two jumping off points. One was 10ft and the other 15ft over an outcropping on the rock face. Really fun and the water was really refreshing after the hike. 

No, Mary didn't hike barefoot. She took her shoes off to cross the river. I of course didn't care about my shoes so I just went right through. No harm done to the shoes or my feet. 

A great 5 days with the family. It wasn't all smiles and hugs like most vacations but we sure made it as fun as we possibly could. So good to have the little family together again even it it was for such a short time. 

It's a good life.....