Status

Yesterday: First day of skiing for the year! Did a full day at Timberline with Ned, Leah’s dad. He’s a ski patroller, and it was a fun day tagging along to see what that’s like. 21k feet of vertical over 17 runs.

Today: Hiked Dog Mountain with Spittle. Gorge-ous day in the Gorge, but bitterly cold. Saw a few other brave souls.

Now: Just about the perfect time for a hot bath.

Once upon a time in Maui

IMG_3786

At the first fundraiser auction I ever go to, one for FACES Foundation last October, I end up with a week’s vacation at condo in Maui. I remember the setup clearly: a strong Pisco Sour to kick off the evening, red wine flowing throughout dinner, and the discomfort coming from being the youngest, and least formally dressed, person in the room. So, when the first item went up on the block, I ended up in a bidding war with the couple sitting beside me. And won.

We got to look forward to the trip for months. Spittle and Leah would be joining us for eight days at the end of March; a good ol’ fashioned, computer-free spring break in between lives of craziness. We had no plans other than plenty of sun, bananagrams, reading, and hanging out.

Considering we managed to hike and snorkel too, I think we were successful. Highlights include:

  • Hiking Haleakala’s crater, particularly the walk out on fog-shrouded cliffs.
  • Winning that one time at bananagrams.
  • Touring every fro-yo shop on the island.
  • Dinner on the last night at Star Noodle. Delicious.

Pro tip: groceries are unreasonably expensive unless you end up at Costco, where they seem to be the same price as stateside.

Hill walking in New Zealandia

wellington

To truly know a place, you have to walk its hills. And New Zealandia has some pretty nice hills.

Nah, that’s too profound. Really, after two weeks living in hotels, I was just jonesin’ to get outside. To commemorate a beautiful day yesterday, Dan, Nikki, and I trekked the hillside above Eastbourne, directly across the water from Wellington.

It took us forever to get to a decent vantage point though. The trail picked up at the edge of town where it wound up and up to get to the ridge line. New Zealandia is densely forested and the forest doesn’t let up at the top of the hills. If it was possible, I think it gets denser. So we bumped over hillock after hillock, some offering little openings that made us optimistic. Ultimately, I snagged the shot above at an overlook about half way down.

A good hike deserves good food. After the trek, we enjoyed a late lunch at a neat beach-side cafe. I had a panini-esque sandwich they call a “toastie.” Oh capers, it was delicious. Capers may be the new ingredient I sneak into everything.

An aside: if there was a difficult thing about traveling in New Zealand, it would be the use of comical words for everyday things. A cooler is a “chilly bin.” The baggage claim is the “baggage reclaim.” Oh, and most cars are imported from Japan so all dashboard buttons are in Kanji. Maybe that leads to it.

At the end of the day, I parted ways with Dan and Nikki, became amazed that New Zealandia doesn’t have security checkpoints for domestic flights, and flew down to Christchurch.

christchurch

This morning, once I was fueled with a delicious scramble, I took off on hike number two of the weekend. Parts of Christchurch, including my Airbnb spot, are conveniently located next to Lake District-esque hills. If you aren’t paying attention to where you’re going, as I wasn’t, you can easily end up lost in a neighborhood. Fortunately, after three false starts, I found a path leading above the houses.

It took about an hour and a half to get to the top of Mount Vernon, where I took the photo above. Along the way, I became reacquainted with my love of podcasts. Podcasts are a great way to expand your worldview, and I need to get back into them.

I’ll be in Christchurch for a couple more days, hopefully finding a good place to cowork. Then it’s back to Portland, Leah, and a tasty East African cooking course at the end of the week.

View from the top

Spittle and I climbed Table Mountain today – this was our view from the top. Fun, challenging walk up Heartbreak Ridge had me essentially front-pointing the entire time. And my calves are a bit sore. The ridge we took down was so windy we had to squat a few times to keep from getting blown off our feet.

Now we’re at East Wind Drive-In getting soft serve. Pretty sweet way to spend the day.

IMG_0863
Gallery

Trekking the Cordillera Blanca, July 2012

One thing I learned: altitude sickness can be a tough mother. Our foray through Punta Union at 15,300 is the highest I’ve ever been. For a great narrative, read Leah’s two part series.

180 degrees south

It’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture in the smog of every day busyness. Constant emails and things to do can point you in a direction you simply assume is progress.

Project shipped — on to the next one. Always working towards more, better, faster. Busy, busy Baxton.

In some senses, I think connectedness makes us a surrogate for the goals of the network. We lose our individuality. I have always been a wanderer, and even I have been subsumed.

Tonight, I’m flying down to Peru to meet up with Leah and do some good old fashioned trekking. She’s been in-country since last week, working up a storm. I hear Belen Hospital may even soon have a website on WordPress.com. We’ll meet in Lima and take a bus to Huaraz.

Huaraz is known as one of the best launch points in South America for outdoor adventure. It sits at 10,000 feet in a valley nestled between two of the tallest mountain ranges in the world. We’ll spend a day or so getting our gear together and adjusting to the altitude. Once we’re ready, a three or four day trek on the Santa Cruz trail awaits.

For reading material, I have William Hertling’s AI Apocalypse (sequel to the epic Avogadro Corp.), Vikram Chandra’s Sacred Games, and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. To occupy the hours of walking and dinners made over a camp stove, I have the best traveling companion in the world.

The unexamined life may not be worth living, but I find it harder and harder every day to put aside time to examine it. Fortunately, there are still many adventures to be had. In those adventures I can find the opportunity to wander.

¡Hasta luego! See you all on the 29th.

Gallery

4th of July at the beach

Nothing says freedom from British tyranny better than a beautiful day at the coast. Check out Leah’s report for the full narrative.

IMG_0615
Gallery

Walking in the Lake District

‘Twas the best of times, ’twas the worst of times. We had beautiful weather, we got a flat tyre 300 miles from home.

On June 9th and 10th, I fulfilled a life-long dream of walking in the Lake District, originally inspired by Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island. My friend DJ, who’s been doing good work at Cambridge this past year, invited me to join his walking club for a weekend in Northern England. We had a great feast Friday night at Trinity College, an unexpected delight, and woke up early Saturday morning to drive six hours.

Our destination was the hills around Ennerdale Water. Once we arrived, we quickly put on our hiking shoes and walked several kilometers up the valley to the Black Sail hikers lodge. The weather was reasonble, but an uncertain barometer for the next day (the Lake Distict is known for cold rain and howling wind).

Fortunately, we lucked out. Sunday started out nice and only got nicer. We walked up Steeple Peak to access jaw-dropping views towards the Isle of Man. What amazed me were the well-maintained stone fences threading up, down, and all around the hills. The area around wasn’t desolate but it certainly wasn’t well-populated.

After a wonderful day on the trail, we returned to an extremely, screw-through-the-treads flat tyre. That misery isn’t a story worth repeating.