His name is Man Bahadur Bisworkarma. We call him Mani or Mane. He has worked this trekking season as a Sherpa for Mountain Madness, a trekking company out of Seattle. He lives in a village called Khorya in the Solokhumbu District of Nepal. I met him in Lukla when he was introduced to us among the other Sherpa that would be assisting us on our Everest Base Camp Trek.
One night we had the opportunity to spend time with the entire Mountain Madness staff. They introduced themselves and told us bits about their lives. By this time I had spent a lot of time with Mane. From the second day of the trek on, he assisted me to get to base camp. Carrying my pack. Encouraging me and always smiling that big smile. During this time of getting to know the staff, we learned that Mane is a member of a caste. That Caste is The Untouchables. Wikipedia tells us this about the Untouchables:
The Harijans or untouchables, the people outside the caste system, traditionally had the lowest social status. The untouchables lived in the periphery of the society, and handled what were seen as unpleasant or polluting jobs. They suffered from social segregation and restrictions, in addition to being poor generally. They were not allowed to worship in temples with others, nor draw water from the same wells as others. Persons of other castes would not interact with them. If somehow a member of another caste came into physical or social contact with an untouchable, he was defiled and had to bathe thoroughly to purge himself of the contagion. Social discrimination developed even among the untouchables; sub-castes among them, such as the Dhobi would not interact with lower-order Bhangis, who handled night-soil and were described as “outcastes even among outcastes.”
As a result, his family and five others were not included in receiving electrical power when power was brought to his village of Khorya.
Social norms are changing some in the region and now he and other untouchables are getting better treatment. But there are harsh consequences to having been shunned so long. One is that he and the other families would have to pay a premium to get the power company to bring them power now that it has already been brought to the village. In order to get it there will cost what is insurmountable for poor Nepalis villagers who are not educated and still struggle in the work force to get jobs.
Mane was with me every step of my trek. One day I tripped and as I was falling, he dove to catch me. Another he kept stopping me to get me to try to eat and drink. He smiled all the time and tried hard to speak as much English as he could to me. Those were longer days for him than any of the others because once I did get to our destination, he still had to jump in and assist with serving us our meals. He never got the afternoon rest and tea the others did because he was with me. Keeping me safe and walking.
Mane is a hard worker in a place where there is no shortage of hard work for low pay. We enjoy so much here and it is easy to take that for granted. He will go home at the end of trekking season and work the rest of the year trying to farm a few crops on his land, though there had been a difficult time over the last years getting much to grow. He will try to have enough money to go to Kathmandu and take an English course so that he will be able to advance in his Sherpa work. You see, he speaks very little English. In order to advance he will have to improve his English skills. That costs money.
Because of all Mani did for me, I would like to try to see what I can do to help him. We have had hard years here in the US with the economy as well. But If you have anything extra and are of a mind to help Mani and the other 5 families get the electricity they need just to do the basics, please consider donating. I have set up a donation site and anyone who wishes to donate can do so easily with just a
click. It is a secure site. Once we have the money in, it will go directly to Nepal so that the installation of the power to the Untouchables can be achieved. They will be more like the others in the village and will do the things we take for granted after dark…perhaps read, or stay up and talk without burning fuel for a light. The Donor page is right here.
Here is a picture of Mane’s house:
Today we got up early and prepared to depart base camp. I was feeling ok and had achieved a dream…but there is a long way to go. My feet were tingling and my right hand was real cold. It had escaped my sleeping bag during the night and my arm had gotten a bit icy. Nothing really more than like when you are a kid and play outside too long in the snow. But uncomfortable none the less.
Mani was already gone from camp, so Nadja and Kadji left with me ahead of the bunch. The plan for the trek today was to head for Peroche. But the Heli Pad was finished and we were all headed there first because we were told a Heli was coming in. Big excitement for Base Camp at 17,500 feet up! As we all
gathered and were told how far to stay back, I took a perch on Kadji’s back pack and was just right for the view. It was cold but as the sun came up over the high Himalaya‘s warmth immediately took over that feeling and it was quite comfortable sitting out on the glacier.
Soon we could hear the wafting of the Heli blades from far down the canyon. Everyone began to chatter to one another. The Heli came in, circled and went off. Then You could hear someone say..”no…..cannot go that fast….cannot go that fast…..”. Then the Heli came over again and made another circle and touched down. Everyone was covering their faces from the wash of the blades. The men jumped out and
took off some supplies and then gave a signal. Suddenly, Kadji grabbed one of my arms and Deana the other and lifted me from my comfortable spot. Mani had my duffel and my pack and they were both tossed into the Heli just ahead of me. Just that fast the door was closed behind me and I was lifting off in what was the first Medi-lift of the 2012 Everest Climbing Season. My whole team was below me waving as I was taken from my beloved Glacier.
You see, what I did not tell you was that I was so exhausted and so low on O2 when I had arrived the night before that Deana, my Mountain Madness Guide, had serious concerns about me. She gave me options about walking out much slower, as our pace was to pick up over the coming days, and I had no extra energy as it was. That would leave me alone in the mountains with a Sherpaat Tea Houses as my energy allowed. I would miss my international flight
and have little support going out. That seemed like a far less safe way home than to be shipped out via Heli. Very serious stuff up here in the Khumbu. I borrowed a phone and we called my Brother, Joe, to let him know what was going on. I ate soup. lots of soup. But still was not able to really eat anything else. The food was so good, too!
My roommate had laid out my bag and pad and pretty much everything was done for me. I spent the night listening to the ice crack and the avalanches and knowing tat in the morning I was leaving on a heli and would never see or feel any of this again. I fought the feeling of failure and knowing that some would look at this trip in that way. But they didn’t have boots on the ground, up and down the mountains. They did not have my dream so they cannot end my dream. I was cold at times and could not get real comfortable, but that did not dampen the truth. I DID IT!
As I looked at my team mates below and lifted off into the morning sky, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. I had not got to know them the way I would have liked. I was never with them during the long days to chat and joke and build the kind of camaraderie that they built together. And I could see it. I was not left out, it was just the way it was.
Soon I was at Lukla, where we had all been what seemed eons ago, though was only 8 days. I was confused since we were supposed to be going to Katmandu. But things are never that easy in Nepal. So I stood, feeling tired and weak, aside the heli pads at Lukla watching the planes come in and out of the scariest airport ever. No real protection between me and the planes and copters wondering what would happen next.
About two hours went by and the same copter that had brought me from the glacier whisked me up again and by gosh it was the ride of a lifetime! That copter hugged hills, buzzed roof tops and dodged weather over every hill and dale between Lukla and Katmandu. It was the longest roller coaster ride of my life and thrill does not begin to define it. After and hour or more of that I was at the big airport again in Katmandu and a tiny ambulance awaited my
arrival. Along with my Mountain Madness man who rode with me to the clinic. We headed through the crowded streets of Kathmandu and the tiny siren tweeting atop the capsule was barley even audible in the loud and busy city.
But alas, we arrived at the clinic and inside I went to undergo a barrage of testing. Blood samples were drawn and and ECG performed. Funny thing that ECG. Giant Frankenstein like clamps were attached to each ankle and wrist. Then funny little suction cups around my chest. The paper feeding through the machine sounded loud as a chain saw. I felt like the machinery was right out of the 50’s. (But I also felt awful and dirty having had no shower since Namche Bazaar.) The doctor ordered IV and some juice! So I lie in the bed in a funny little room that seemed to house two such beds with a separator curtain along with odds and ends of furniture from other parts of the facility. But it was clean and comfortable.
A nurse came to talk to me. She was a Sherpa woman. She went to school with Babu Chiri Sherpa‘s second eldest daughter. Her own father had died some years earlier leading men up Everest. It is common here if you are of the Sherpa people to have family on that mountain.
I spent the day sleeping the sleep you have when you are in a car. When the IV’s had run all of their healing juices into my veins they turned me loose. Sagar came and got me and followed my cab to the Yak and Yeti. I showered. Boy did I shower. I went and ate and came up to my room and went to bed. It was raining hard. There was lightning in the very skies I had just cone through a few hours before. I though of my friends in the mountains coming down and I was sad not to be with them. The rain beat down on the windows. and I smiled. I had done it. I had made it to Base Camp. I do not know all that it means to me yet, but I do know it means more than I can articulate here. Oh, and yeah. I am getting pictures in again. More later!
Today is a day of rest. That means a HIKE! I got better layers set out and hoped for the best for the morning acclimatization hike. The tea houses are getting more rustic as we go. Rooms are very small, which is good because it keeps the heat in. The wind is fierce and the Yak Dung burning stoves take some time to project the heat. Last night I slept in my Big Agnes sleeping bag with a thick fleece, polortec pants, and my Fits Roy Down Hoodie. OH, and a light comforter provided by the lodge. I also threw a boiling hot bottle of water in the bottom of the bag. It was very comfortable. The Sherpas all slept outside in tents.
Our kitchen travels with us. It is part of the service provided by Mountain Madness. I see the staff throughout the day on the trail, portering the goods and utensils needed to cook three meals a day and afternoon tea. All of our meals are prepared outside. The staff rings it in to us and we get as much as we want of a good variety of food. Have had Water Buffalo, sardines, pizza, lots of wonderful tasting potatoes, soups,……it goes on and on. I am having trouble eating enough, however, and I am not sure why. When a plate is handed t me I am excited to get some food but quickly feel full and simply cannot eat more than a very little off my plate. Up we were this morning and I ate some cereal and a couple bites of egg and hot chocolate. Then we headed out to our rest day hike. Deana told us where she wanted us all to go to achieve the needed work of the day. Some would continue on to an even higher point. The trail was steep and we headed up to 15,000 feet. I rested there, took some pictures with the Sherpa and then headed back down. I felt good. So good that I picked up my pace and thought I would give Mani a treat by getting back quicker. Then it happened.
I took a step and the heel of my right boot caught a rock. I went tumbling face first, in what seemed in my minds eye was thousands of feet down the side of a mountain. In reality, it was about a three step, face first fall. Mani dove to grab me like a super hero. He quickly assisted me to my feet. I made sure everything was working the way it should and we went on. I slowed down and remembered that every step has to count. No more over walking myself.
So back here in the village, I was happy to get the daily hot cup of Tang. We get it every afternoon before lunch. It is good and warms up a core that is getting increasingly colder by the day. Anther wonderful treat is the head cook, Ramkaji (sp) hands each of us a towel that is piping hot and has menthol in it. We inhale it and wash our hands and face with it and it is a pure delight.
Yesterday, Deana told me that the head of the Sherpas told her that I was know to them as BIG SISTER. It is a term of endearment. She told me that Dawah had reported Kahji, my Sherpa of the day, had said I was a very good walker. It seems sped is nothing to them, distance without rest is. I made the cut. I’ll take BIG SISTER to the bank!
On the very last bit back into Dingboche today, I overheard some other trekkers stating they had a signal. I quickly dashed off a text to Kathlene and hope she got it since she had last only heard that I was trudging through the Himalayas like a Yeti in a snow storm.
After the Namche Rest day, we got up and headed for Tengboche. This is where there is a great monastery. The group set out and I, as usual, am in the back. I am always with Sherpa, and like every day, he took my pack after about the first 45 minutes. I am slow. Real slow. I remember In Junior High Track, Mrs. Campbell always said that my run was more of a glorified walk. It was true. And when Kathy and I were picking strawberry’s one summer…I never made progress down the long, seemingly ever longer rows. I think of some of that on my long walks in the Himalayas all by myself. The Hike in to Tengboche seemed innocuous on the map. We would end up a t relatively the same altitude that we left in Namche. But hikes here are not like walking across a ridge to the next village. It walking down the river, crossing on a hanging bridge and walking up again to the ridge…and then maybe back down and up. This is nothing like I thought it would be. I am expending every bit of energy every day. It is wondrously beautiful. I have never had this much solitude in my life. I am by myself with the Sherpa of the day assigned to me. He is really not assigned to me except that my slowness makes him “my” Sherpa by default. I have hours and hours to my own thoughts. I hear the sounds of traffic, which consist of the slow moving dong of the yak bell and the fast, high pitched chaos of the jingle bells that are around the horses necks. As I pass groups of porters resting aside the road with the baskets heavily laden with all sorts of necessities of life and trekking I do feel transported to another world. But it isn’t another world. It is just different. It is a mixture of worlds that are coming together and the people seem quite happy. Though it may seem odd to me that a young man trekking a basket up thousands of feet on his back reaches for his cell phone when it rings it is life as he knows it. Far be it from me to require that my trekking experience be more rustic because it fits my imagination. At the end of each part of the day, I find myself so exhausted by the up and down work that I seem to have to have a good crying moment. Not sad, not hurt, just emotional to be able to be doing this and to be with the people I am with. Every one to the last one are kind to me and to each other. The Mountain Madness staff is beyond reproach. They are helpful and happy and they love to interact with the group. Some speak pretty good English too!. So arriving in Tengbouche for me, was difficult. I set out the Spot Connect, ate a little bit of dinner and went to bed. No real interaction with the group. The next day was coming.
So we left Katmandu and boarded a plane for Lukla. Lukla is the location of the Number 1 most dangerous airport in the world. The flight is in a 15 seater and Feels loud a rickety. It takes about an hour to get there and the flight went well. Getting close, though, he was threading a needle through the mountain. I would say getting as close as 500 feet at times! The landing was pretty uneventful, but I can say I landed at the most dangerous airport in the world!
We took off from thee and headed for Phak Ding. It was going to be about a four hour hike. Supposed to be the easy day before the hard one. For me? Not so much. It was hard. While you lose altitude you go up a lot to do it. And I had way over packed my day pack Late in the hike, the Mani, my Sherpa of the day, took my pack and I continued on without it. It was tough going. Lots of stairs that go uphill and lots of very steep near-scrambling. At least that is my memory. I arrived at Phak Ding 10 or 15 minutes after my fellow trekkers. They are great, by the way. Every last one of them. The hike itself rambled through villages and fields and was really breath taking. But we ain’t seen nothing yet. Sorry no pics again, but the upload eats up all my time for blogging. I buy it by the usage. [edited in pictures]
This is supposed to be the tough day. I didn’t sleep at all during the night. Our accommodations were very nice, though cold. But I kept warm enough. my roommate is great and does not snore, but I was Sleepless in Phak Ding. I have not been able to eat a lot, though I feel great. I was worried about the hike to Namche. How hard it is touted to be and how difficult the easy day was for me. We got our wake-up tea at 6:30. The Sherpa brings tea to your room and wake you up. An hour later you are to be at breakfast. I ate lots of mush and an egg for breakfast and we headed out. I was very scared. I had learned that all the elevation gain was in the end of the hike. We meandered back and forth across steel bridges across the river and each time there were steep rock steps to climb on both sides. Up, down, up down and then after crossing the last bridge, a huge down followed by steady, extremely steep hiking all the way in and gaining over 2k in around 3 miles. I was again assigned a Sherpa who again took my pack once we crossed that last bridge. I pressed on. I fought with myself about why I thought I could do this. But here I was so stop it and keep going! It was ugly. Real ugly. But on I went, all the time being treated extra nice by a man who could have run up the hill! I was passed time and time again by porters carrying 100 pound loads in sandals. I drank 4 liters of water as told by the Dawa, the boss of the Sherpa. Finally, we get to the very edge of the town of Namche andI have to take another of the many rests I had taken. Suddenly I was sick. I just started throwing up off the edge of the cliff. Nothing there though so I simply sounded like a barking dog. One of the Sherpas early in the day had told me that I can trek my only problem is that I am FAT! He said it smiling and there was no negative meant by it, just the facts ma’am! Another point in the day an old hippie passed me on the trail and spit out. “Just go slow!”. several hours later he passed me again and said “you are still here! I am F!*$in’ impressed! I figured you would have quit a long time ago! That is GREAT!” All I could muster was “there is no quit.” That along with a bucket of spit like a distempered horse!
The Sherpa suggested we stop at the Irish Pub and have tea before the last leg. I did and we had two milk teas as I looked around at the big mountains around me. I am here. In Namche. I did it. I did not quit. I am well…the tea hit the spot. Now I am simply going to take a shower after having a dinner of Shrimp chips, pasta with sauce, mashed potatoes, fruit, tea and Soup. I will write more later, but the shower and Big Agnes the sleeping bag beckon. Maybe next time I can introduce you all to Elvis the Yak!
Kathy swept me off to the airport in San Francisco so that I could depart the homeland for the big adventure. It was an easy check in. But oddly, the lady at Cathay Pacific looked at my Ping Rolling carry on and said it was too heavy to go on the plain. She asked if I could move some of the items over to the tow other checked bags. But I told her I feared they would burst if one more item were put inside them. She said it was not going in the cabin and began to check it. I asked her what cost that would be to which she replied “I will do it for a courtesy.” I thanked her and thought to myself that was nicer because now I wouldn’t have to worry about it while I was in Hong Kong.
I went to the gate and before you know it, I was settling in to my seat: 44A. That meant I was on the bulkhead and would have oodles of legroom. The down side was the constant stream of people to the bathroom within 5 feet of me. But so far so good and the big leg of the flight was shaping up good. My row mates were Dawn and Steve Gregory. They are a fine couple that runs a café in Pasa Robles, California. They were on their way to china for a several day trek themselves. Steve has climbed Whitney a couple of times before as well. It was a great set up there in the 44th row of the Boeing 747. Now I just had to get some rest over the 14-hour flight that was ahead. I have to say that I was impressed with the flight in general. Though there were over 400 people on the plane, the kids were doing well and despite non-stop use of the bulkhead restroom, the air quality remained tolerable.
I did manage to get a good amount of sleep and soon found myself grabbing my bag and heading for customs to venture out to the streets of Hong King to meet up with my cousin, Leonard Nichols at the Holiday Inn. I paid my $90.00 Hong Kong Dollars for a ticket for the train to Kowloon and settled in. We passed the Port of Hong Kong where there were literally THOUSANDS of trucking containers in various stages of loading and unloading. It reminded me of Dad driving container trucks to the port to be shipped overseas. As we hit the Kowloon Station, I quickly scoped out the taxi stand and headed for there, jumped into a little Toyota cab and called out HOLIDAY INN! And off we went…on the wrong side of the Road…ahhh the Brits and their crazy idea that one should drive on the left! We went on a wild ride though the streets of the city and came to a very sudden
stop in front of the Holiday in. Which is not so far from Shakey’s Pizza….yes, the same Shakey’s company that owned the pizza parlor all of us used to go to after Games at Glacier High School.
I fired up the Spot Connect so that I could check in….no bueno. It seemed to try hard for 15 minutes, but to no avail. I had been able to get free wireless at the airport so checked in with family and facebook, but Hong Kong was having none of the coolest piece of gear I got for this trip.
At last I was going to see Leo and we were to make a day of it. He called me and met me in the lobby but because he had indulged in Yak Steak the night before to honor me and because the Yak meat he ate had some sort of malady, he had spent the entire night praying to the porcelain gods and was not entirely done with that pilgrimage upon my arrival. None the less, we set out for the tram to the top of Hong Kong, taking a ferry across the harbor and beginning an uphill walk to the tram. But it did him in, poor guy. So we turned back, stopping for rests and for him to get some liquids. Then back to his hotel and the hotel doctor! I went out for a short walk while he treated with the doctor and got to encounter the hawkers trying to get me to buy hand bags and quality tailored goods.
After the doc left and Leo had gotten a shot and some other medicine, we went out again and ran some errands for him after which we had a coffee (he had a gator aid for the electrolytes) at Starbucks!
I had arrived at about 8:00 AM local time and it was now approaching 2. We decided to go our separate ways, Leo back to Mainland China and me back to the airport. It was so nice to see him. Sort of like a pilgrimage of Nichols visit…first his parents, (my God Parents) back in Fremont California a few days ago and now him in Hong Kong. My efforts to travel there to see him have catapulted me into the favorite cousin position. I just know it!
So onward I went, heading to check in and try to get another one of those swell seats like on the last flight. I walked up with my big smile and was excited for the next leg. But remember that really nice gesture back in San Francisco? The one where the lady put that rolling carry on in with my other checked baggage? That as about to come back and slap me right in the face. The lad y said in pretty good English “You have three bags checked and ticket only for 2.” So, I tried to explain what happened in San Francisco. But that was not relevant to her. For her, all that mattered was I had a ticket for two checked bags, but three had been checked and the math did not add up. Her solution? The first one was for me to pay 120 US dollars for the bag for each leg of my flight. I Told her that didn’t seem fair since they had checked it through in San Francisco and had never said that it WOULD have cost that kind of money. Her second solution? Take the bag number three from under the plane and put it in the overhead with me. Well, that seemed reasonable. Not what I expected but better than shelling out hundreds of dollars for what WAS supposed to be a carry on in the first place. So they sent me to Terminal 1, Section H, Isle
H19 to get the bag. The problem was, they had no clue. Now they wanted me to go get the bag since there was a problem with it….I told them there was no problem. At least not one they didn’t create all on their own. So the young man helping the woman advised me to take a seat and when the bag was available in the Customs Hall, they would take me there. That sounded ok, though there were no seats. I walked a few paces away and simply stood. And waited. And waited. And got hungry. And waited.
I went back to T1, H, H19 and asked how long it would be. The lady (same one) told me that since I had lost my bag…WAIT! I never lost my bag! Now I could feel some anger roiling up inside me. I kept telling myself in my quiet, inside voice…NO INTERNATIONAL INCIDENTS! Especially when you haven’t even started the activities that have brought you over 6,000 miles from home so far. After stern words of urgency to the young lady that I had a plane to catch and the bag she was trying to take off it had to be back on it with me PDQ! An hour and a half had already passed. She brought another young man out and told me to go with him. So off we went. And went. And went. Into the bowels of the Hong Kong
airport. He kept showing different ID’s of his and waiving me on with him. Then we came to an official looking chap with a stamp. You know there could be trouble when they have a stamp and an ink pad at the ready. Was I to be Locked Up Abroad? He asked me for my boarding pass……SERENITY NOW I yelled inside! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR you guys never GAVE me a boarding pass. Then I stared straight into his eyes with my best Robo-Cop impression and no joy to detect on my face. Thought of my father at Chosin reservoir all surrounded by the Chinese. I knew how he felt now. I was sure I did. I was not about to walk the 250 miles back to T1, H, H19 to get the boarding pass. I broke eyes with stamp-man and burned a whole through the young man’s eyes and he slinked off. I stayed put and did not move. Not an inch either way. Just stood and robo-copped the stamp man. About 15 minutes later young guys shows up with a freshly minted boarding pass and we pass thought a gauntlet of flailing, ink lathered rubber stamps and gates and now we are in front of a baggage claim carousel.
Each bag that passed, the young man asked if that was it. No. It wasn’t. Time was now speeding passed. I ask young man where all these bags on the carousel came from. He said they are lost from their owners…..MINE IS NOT LOST! He gets nervous again…or maybe afraid that my big round blue eyes have now turned red and laser like. He moves off to a coworker and they speak. He comes back and says “Your Bags should be coming now.” BAGS??? I told him that the all the bags were checked through and for whatever reason they decided the third bag could no longer be under the plane and had to be in it but what was he doing with my other two bags! He said they all had to come off. And it happened.
At last, it happened. They had broken me. All at once I realized that in 20 minutes my plane was leaving. I had not gone through security or customs. And now all three of my bags had been exorcized from the plane….the one about to leave….with or without me or them. I looked at the man and said “I spent thousands of dollars on this trip and now it is about to be ruined if me and those bags do not make it to Katmandu tonight. And with that big tears rolled down my cheeks and I was through, I took the rebel bag that had been the source of all the trouble, they took the other two and we went our separate ways. I headed for customs. I got through customs after a thorough tear down of THE BAG and hurried through security and then scurried for the gate. I got there just as final boarding was being called.
So here I sit, in Dragon Air’s plane…in Seat 22A, a bulkhead seat with no isle mates, at 38,000 feet in the air, eating Indian rice and writing this blog entry. I do not know if my gear is on the plane with me. I will not know for another 3 hours. Adventure, it’s what’s for dinner.
Today is the day. Have been working, waiting, fretting for it. When I set out for this adventure, I am not sure even I believed I would follow through with going. But here it is, March 24, 2012 and I HAVE set out on the biggest adventure of my life.
Along the way, I have learned a lot about myself. That the Karen I always was was inside waiting to get out. I learned that the biggest obstacle to success in anything I set out for is not the physical environment around me. Though many of those things are huge challenges, the actual obstacle is myself and the mental battle I fight with myself.
So here I am at the beginning. I was all packed up and ready to roll and Jim and Maggie arrived to transport me to McCarren Airport in Las Vegas. They came in and met my digs and we chatted and all of a sudden I was out the door. The dogs were behind the door while we were headed off to the car and I would not be seeing them for 22 days. Just that fast, I was leaving.
I got a comment on a post a while back from a person who is also doing this trek. We have been communicating about it ever since. He has a reason for going. Seems that is common…..exorcising some demon or another by putting ones self through some physical challenge far off from home. He phoned last night to give me a pep talk and encourage me. He is a few weeks after me. I’ll have been home a few days when he starts. It is somehow comforting knowing that somebody I have spoken with will be putting his feet where mine once were in a land far away and as high as you can get into the heavens. It also motivates me to work hard against the voices that chirp and bleat about when the going gets tough. He wants me to finish it for him. So that he can know that he can finish it too. I think he already knows he can.
So we sped down the 215 to McCarren, chit chatting with each other along the way. Jim and Maggie are stand up folks who I have come to know most recently and feel like I have known forever. Maggie came climbing in the gym with me Wednesday and she has now caught the bug. Guaranteeing more fun together. Jim works with me at Red Rock Search and Rescue. They are sporting their own WhelanTrek shirts and toting my baggage! What great friends they are to come clear across the valley and pick me up and cart me off on my journey!
In a flash, they, too were gone. So off I went, checked in and paid the extra $60.00 for my duffel and back pack, got my boarding pass and headed in to the gate. But first I tested out the Spot Connect and checked in from McCarren. I wanted to be sure to get used to using it and understanding it. I also wanted to be sure I get the trip from door jam to door jam. I was excited when I was sitting in the plain and got a text from another friend, Kristen, who had gotten the email Spot Connect sent out to her. So. It is working!
Airport security wasn’t too bad. Boarding went well too. And to my delight, nobody was sitting next to me. It is always a nice flight in coach when you have a seat between you the next person.
I was thinking as we flew along and I could see the Sierra Nevada Mountains out my window that those will see so very small in a few days when I see the big peaks of the Himalayas. And how this short flight to Frisco will seem like bliss compared to what flights lie ahead.
Just as I completed that thought, the flight attendant came over the loud speaker to say that we were about to descend to San Francisco International Airport. She wanted us to know, too, that she was about to take one last run down the isle of the plane to take all of our plastic cups from us for fear that they could be projectiles should the landing be a bit too assertive. At least that was what I heard her say. So here she came and I launched my cup her way as she blew past my seat
28A. Just like that I was at another airport. Only difference was, now there was all this rain coming down.
It was nice to get out of the plane and enter the airport and smell the wonderful bread! Moisture in the air always makes food smell so good! I headed out to the curb after collecting my bags and headed out shopping for some final things with my sister. Then back to her house for a piping hot bowl of Clam Chowder with fresh sourdough to dip! What a wonderful dinner on a cold San Francisco day.
Now my sister and I are done for the evening and we are drinking tea and petting her schipps. Makes me miss Cappy Jack and Katie Scarlet already!
So I’ll sign off now, from this my first dispatch of the journey. I will finish by thanking Jim and Maggie for their gracious assistance, and for the Trekkies for supporting me on this excellent adventure!