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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Labor Day Weekend

The moment of truth has come. I have no more time to train for my backpacking trip to Bryce Canyon. Hopefully all of that uphill/downhill business has helped even a wee bit to make the ensuing hike less difficult. I'm looking forward to getting out of Phoenix, & I'm definitely excited to see Bryce again. I hope I can keep up with my hiking companions.

Tune in next week for the results.

Hearing Imparied

After a week of vitamin A & garlic ear drops, I still haven't seen any improvement in my ability to hear. My students are beginning to get a complex about their Spanish skills because I keep asking them to repeat what they say.

I went for a checkup at the Southwest Medical Center to see how the vitamins & ear drops were working. This visit was much shorter. They looked through the ear-o-scope & found that my inner ear is not so inflamed as before, but I still have the infection. So they referred me to a specialist, whom I will see next week.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Have Compassion, I Am Blind

Click here for a 5-minute short on seeing things differently.

Then scroll down & read the comment by BALDAPO.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Need Your Junk!

Yard Sale #2 is set for Sunday, Sept. 28th, from 8:00am to 12:00pm.

I need your junk to add to my junk in order to make this sale a huge attraction for shoppers - the bigger the pile of crap on my front lawn, the more people will stop to buy said crap, & that will translate to dollars for all!

Go through your closets, your garage, look under your bed, clean out your kitchen cabinets. Don't pass things up because you think people won't buy them. If it's usable or fixable, it's sell-able. Trust me, people will buy anything. I once sold half a box of Q-Tips at a yard sale. During this past yard sale, I sold a used stick of deodorant. One person's trash...

I also need your folding tables to display the wares. If you have an extra one, bring it on over!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sleeping In

I'm tired. All of this mountain hopping has worn me out. I thought this was supposed to get easier the more I did it, but yesterday morning my legs were like lead as I climbed Camelback at 6:30am. It could have something to do with the insanely early hour that I've been wrenching myself out of bed in the mornings.

So I decided to give myself a little break. I was planning on sleeping in this morning with little hope that I would actually be able to do it since I've gotten up so early all week long. But, happy day! I was able to sleep until 9:00am. I guess I really did need the break.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Book Worm

I've been trying really hard to pare down my belongings so that I can go off into the wild blue yonder with only a vehicle & possibly a camper. With very little cargo room, I won't be able to carry along all of those useless items that seem to have wormed their way into my closet space. So far, it hasn't been very difficult to find things to put in the "yard sale" pile.

But books do not fall into the "useless" category for me, so I'm still holding onto a good many of them. I'll probably go through several books before I hit the road in my itty-bitty living space, so it's okay, right? Raaaight.

Even so, I went through my bookshelves & came up with two full boxes to take over to Bookmans, the second-hand book shop in Mesa. I left my books with the buyer & headed to the stacks to look for new books to read.

I already had $64 in trade credit from the last time that I schlepped a ton of books over there, but I wasn't too hopeful for this current load of books since it was only two boxes worth. I spent a couple of hours among the shelves, looking for specific titles, as well as just perusing what was there. I wound up with just a little bit over $60 in books to take home with me.

When I returned to the buying counter, I noticed that they had taken less than half of the books that I had brought in, so I figured I had done well with the $60 stack that I was planning on taking home. However, the man behind the counter said with a very straight face, " We can give you $69 in trade for these."

Holy moley! $69?! That gives me a total of $133 in trade to spend! Well, then I'm taking that $12 book that I passed up for being too expensive. Yay!

Here is a list of my booty:

Herbivore, Travel Issue
Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
Seven Years in Tibet, Heinrich Harrer
Lost on Planet China, J. Maarten Troost
A Man Without a Country, Kurt Vonnegut
Welcome to the Monkey House, Kurt Vonnegut
Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson & David Oliver Relin
A Wolf at the Table, Augusten Burroughs
The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, Bill Bryson
El Cristo Rojo, Alain Ammar (about Che Guevarra)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What's That You Say, Sonny?

I missed my date with the mountain today because I had a doctor's appointment. I've been having problems hearing lately & wanted to get it checked out. I was thinking it was just a huge ball of wax that they could remove with a flick of their magic wand.

I went to the Southwest Naturopathic Medical Center on McDowell & Hayden in Scottsdale. It's a school as well as a clinic, so your appointment is with a student under the supervision of a real-live doctor. You know, like at the massage school or the cosmetology school. It's cheaper this way, & since I don't have insurance, I took the discount route.

Not only did I get one student to observe & poke & prod, I got THREE! They must be short on patients. Anyway, they spent an hour asking all kinds of questions, including ones that had nothing to do with my hearing, like whether I suffered any rectal bleeding. I guess those naturopaths really like to treat the whole person, not just the symptom.

After a two-hour interview, & a peek through the ear-o-scope, I was diagnosed with an ear infection, which has swollen up my ear canal so that I can't hear properly. No one said anything about any wax. They have me on anti-bacterial pills, ear drops, & some anti-mucus stuff. I'm supposed to go back in a week to see if any of that helps.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

3rd Ascent

Start: 6:30am
Finish: 8:15am

Yes! I made it up the mountain three days in a row! I must be a crazed lunatic. But not so much as some other people out there.

I'm amazed at life in Phoenix at 6:00am. There are A LOT of people out & about at that hour. Unbelievable. The construction workers looked like they had already been at it for a while. The highway on-ramp traffic signals were already blinking red & green, one car at a time. There was an anxious crowd waiting at the bus stop. It's a world I never dreamed existed.

But the most amazing thing to me was that at 6:30am, when I started my hike this morning, there were already people coming off the mountain. That means they got up at, what?, 4:00am? Astounding.

If you're not familiar with Camelback, this blog post gives you a pretty good idea what this hike is like.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I'd like to think that I'm a pretty active person; I love hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, yoga etc. But every summer I become a ball of mush because I just can't convince myself to go out in the heat to do anything but go to the grocery store. So I sit for months waiting for the temperature to dip below melting, which is generally at the end of September.

This year, however, the hiking season has started early for me. My motivation: over Labor Day weekend, I'm going backpacking in Bryce Canyon with a group of avid hikers. We'll go down into the canyon about 10 miles, stay overnight down below, & then we'll hike the 10 miles back out. It's the hiking out part that worries me. I'll have a 30-pound pack on my back (if I can consolidate my gear enough) , & I'm miserably out of shape. I have two weeks to try to restore the spring in my step.

So yesterday morning, I started my training regimen by hiking Camelback with my friend Michael. We started our hike at 7:45am. It was already hot (thus my aversion to hiking in the summer time). He, of course, hiked circles around me, but we made it to the top in about an hour. At the summit, the visibility was excellent. We spent about 20 minutes just enjoying the view & discussing landmarks. The hike down was better, but it was still pretty hot. We rested in the shade about halfway down. At 10:00am, we made it back to the car, where I finished off the last of my 100 ounces of water that I had with me. When I got home, I took a cool shower & then I took a nap. I was tired from the hike, but I think I was also suffering a bit from heat exhaustion.

But I need to train for the big trip, so I vowed to get up & do it again today, & every day until we leave for Bryce on August 29th. This time, though, I decided to try to get up earlier. I set the alarm for 6:00am (I can hear you gasping in shock), & I actually got up & was on the mountain by 6:30am (impressive, no?). The hike was much nicer today. I had shade for most of the way up & for about half the way down. It was still hot, but there was a nice breeze for most of the hike, & I only wound up drinking half of my water. What a difference an hour makes! I made it back to the car by 8:15am.

Can I do it three days in a row?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Alaska Photos

I Heart Yoga!

I've been taking yoga classes at SWIHA in Tempe. My favorite class is the Friday class with Barb because it's hard. The other classes are a good workout, but they're not particularly hard. This class has us doing moves I never even knew existed. I love it!

I'm hoping that I will be able to find yoga classes while I'm on the road. I came across the Yoga Finder website, which will hopefully help me keep up my yoga practice no matter where I am in the world.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Several years ago I dated a guy who really liked the idea of hiking the Appalachian Trail in one push. I wasn't a backpacker then, & was barely even a day hiker, so the idea of walking through mountains & valleys for six months without contact with civilization did not appeal to me in the least.

Years passed & I became an avid Camelbacker, as well as a dabbler in backpacking. I began to see the appeal of hiking over 2000 miles in the back country. I started to seriously consider doing the Arizona Trail, which bisects Arizona from Mexico to Utah (or from Utah to Mexico if you prefer), for a total of 800 miles. At a leisurely pace of 10 miles per day, this would take almost three months to complete. That sounded like fun.

Then I started reading "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson. He makes months of communing with nature sound utterly insupportable, questionably unhealthy, & at times downright dangerous. Perhaps I'll have to revise my plan.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Back in Phoenix

I'm back in Phoenix after an awesome vacation. Photos coming soon!

I spent last weekend in Seattle with Mike & Charlene, two very cool people. We shopped at a farmer's market where Charlene bought berries to make vegan scones (YUM!), & I bought a bluegrass CD from The Tallboys. We also shopped at Sidecar, a great vegan store, ate calzones at Pizza Pi, saw a Korean horror flick at Central Cinema, & bought crazy pop culture tidbits at Archie McPhee.

The rest of the week I was in Alaska with Michelle & JD, two more really cool people. In Anchorage, we stayed with Michelle's friends, the Reins. We had beer at the Bear Tooth, pizza at the Moose's Tooth, & shopped at Title Wave Books, where I discovered the book "Work your way around the world" by Susan Griffith. I'll definitely be reading that one! One afternoon, we saw a mama moose & a baby moose just strolling down the street in the Rein's neighborhood. Animal anarchy!

On Tuesday we headed south along Turnagain Arm, stopping in Girdwood to spend the night at Michelle's friend Rich's house. We ate dinner at Maxines, a cafe with a delicious fusion menu. The next day, we had breakfast at the Bake Shop, where the table had a sign that said "stammstisch", which basically means "the table where the regulars sit".

Then we continued along Turnagain Arm, where we saw a huge pod of beluga whales. We ended the day in Homer, where we stayed at the Seaside Farm, a great little hostel/camping spot on the water with awesome views of the mountains & a glacier across the bay. I had a yummy veggie sandwich & cup of black bean chili in town at the Mermaid Cafe, went to the Homer Public Library for an email check, & had great vegan muffins at Two Sisters Bakery.

We returned to Anchorage for the rest of the week. On Friday we took a day trip through Hatcher Pass, where we hiked up to a beautiful secret mountain lake formed from snow melt. A seven-year-old Alaska native was wading around in the ice-cold water, barefoot & bare-chested. I, on the other hand, was wearing gloves & a scarf.

On Saturday it was time to go home. I spent most of the day flying or in airports. When the flight attendant announced, "Welcome to Phoenix" my shoulders slumped slightly. At 8:30pm, when I stepped out into the desert heat, I winced.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Alaska, Here I Come

In a couple of hours I hope to be on a plane to Seattle. I'm flying standby, so I'm not sure if I'll make it on the flight that I want, but I'm hoping for the 6:20am flight. I'll stay in Seattle for the weekend visiting my friends there. Then I'm flying to Anchorage for a week of fun in the... rain.

My first night without a bed will only last a few hours. I'll be back August 9th to try sleeping on the floor for real.