My time of final preps in the SF Bay area is drawing to a close. It has been a nice visit with my sister, a great time with my God Parents, and a delightful meeting with new friends that I got to know at Trail Space.
This morning started out with a final trip to my favorite REI location in downtown San Francisco. It is where I first purchased my pack two years ago, after which I walked the couple of miles back to the hotel where I was attending a prosecutor’s conference on Evidence. Today I picked up another bladder for water and some other odds and ends. Then it was off to Radio Shack to get a power converter and some flash drives for photo storage.
Then I picked up a bowl of soup and sourdough for lunch because that was sooo good Saturday that I had to do it again! Finally, I headed off to Mad House Coffee to meet Bill Heiser and BillS from trail Space. I had such a great time with Bill H., Bill S., and his wife Barb. Though I always enjoy
them on the Trail Space Forums, they now have human bodies, voices and laughs! It was such fun. OGBO (BillS) said it all when he said that it is nice to get out from behind a computer screen to interact with each other.
So now it is time to lock up the duffel and the back pack and get ready for a 14 hour trip to Hong Kong where I will meet up with Leo Nichols, my cousin, and do a whirlwind tour.
I am trying to get real tired so I can sleep on the plane and be ready for all the fun Hong Kong can offer.
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!
The home stretch to the trek is here. Two months from today I will board a plane and leave for what has been a two year plan. I find myself exhilarated and anxious at the same time. Since I made the decision to do this trek, so much has happened. I am so glad I told myself early on to enjoy the journey. Along the way I have made great friends at Crossfit Max Effort. I have made great friends at the climbing gym and kayaking. I have enjoyed hiking and going to climbing walls in Red Rock and at Mt Charleston. I have learned and gained more friends at www.trailspace.com. As a matter of fact, one of the great mountaineers there made it possible for me to get a free pair of yak trax to try out on the trek!
During this time my father’s health has been declining. We have been in the hospital with him twice in the last month. This raises obvious worries with regard to what may happen while I am gone. The rules have been placed: I will not receive any information regarding my father while on this trek. The family believes that there is nothing I could do if something happened but worry, so finish my trek and come home, hopefully to regale my father with adventurous stories of the Himalayas.
I have added biking into my fitness activities. It is something I used to do regularly all through college. I got a new road bike at Christmas and hope to continue to gain back my health and fitness and do some organized rides.
Another benefit of this two year preparation is that I am not done when the trek is over. In July or August I plan to climb Mount Shasta:
Then Mount Baker:
So, as you can see, this has changed my life. This is going to be what I do with the time I have here on this orb and I cannot tell you how much more enriching it is to be out there amongst the greatest creation in history, THE PLANET!
I recently attended a conference with the Nevada Justice Association in San Francisco. One of the events you could choose to participate in was a 5k. I signed up and one of my big motivators was was that any 5k in San Francisco would have to have some big dang hills. That would be a good progress test for me leading up to the Everest Base Camp Trek in March. The race was pretty informal and we got a turn by turn hand out to keep us on the trail. So off everyone went….except me. I was apparently the only walker. But that was ok. It was a good morning and the fog was with us making it a very different 5k than I usually do.
I felt good and quickly set up my GPS to track the route. I always like to do that. As I was moving along from Union Square to the Embarcadero, I enjoyed the sights
and sounds of a city waking up. Traffic was light and there was no wind. So I snapped some pics as I went along and really was enjoying the air, moving quickly, feeling strong. So, there couldn’t be a better day. Soon I was up on the water in front of the Ferry building and looking out into the fog that socked in the Bay Bridge. On up the road I trudged, iPod accompanying each of my steps. I knew that a turn was coming up so I was paying attention to the street signs. I didn’t want to be late for breakfast, after all. But after passing the cable car turn around on Powell, I thought for sure that something had gone awry. Rather than
cut up from there, though, I just kept on my path. I began thinking about the fact that I had not yet had a single hill and was disappointed. That disappointment would not endure, however. A quick look at the GPS revealed that I, indeed, had gone astray and now I needed to map a rout back. Time was a wasting and not only was breakfast in peril, but being to the seminar on time was also iffy. By now I was on Bay Street, having turned left off the Embarcadero. My destination was not really that far. But to get there would take a trip up Hyde. To the top of Lombard Street. That is the squiggly be-flowered street so steep and famous on the post cards. That was wha an only be described as a “butt buster”. And the real weird thing about it is that I LOVED the challenge and the push. UP, UP, UP. STEEP, STEEP, STEEP! I went on past Lombard and was at the top of Nob Hill at the “Mark”. I remembered having sung there while attending Simpson College back in the
early 80’s. Itwas a warm feeling of deja vu…..until I saw that what goes up, must come down and now I had to go down the steepness of one of San Francisco’s most famous of its seven hills. No knee braces and time was a ticking! I took another look at the GPS and flew down that hill into the fog below, arriving back at the Marriott, Union Square with 10 minutes to spare. I grabbed an orange juice and headed to my room to clean up and rush back down for the Nevada Supreme Court Justice’s panel. In the end, my deviation from the route aded 1.4 miles on to the 5k, logging in 4.6 instead of 3.2 miles. It also gave me the hill I so wanted to have in this 5k. An added bonus was that the knees withstood it with little residual pain, and even that dissipated pretty quickly.
I am having some shirts made to commemorate the big trek. If you are interested in purchasing a shirt just for the fun of it, I will add that to my order. The shirts are Hanes Beefy T’s and all you need to pay is the cost of the shirt plus tax. That comes out to about $12.25. I will need to know what size you would like to have and we can arrange money changing hands. The graphics are pretty dang good and for that reason alone any serious t-shirt afficianado would need to add it to their collection. Great for climbing, hiking, kayaking, polishing cars and drying off the dog. You can wear it to work on casual Friday and give them as gifts to well deserving friends. President Bush and President Obama are in a bidding war over the first one off the press. Don’t be left out. Once I have a good idea how many are needed the order will go in. I want to have it by early October so I can have them before the holidays…OH yet another way to complete your holiday shopping! Now. Thre is also a graphic on the FRONT of the shirt making it ever so much cooler. (huh?) But I am still trying to figure out why it is not letting me post it in here. Maybe it is JUST THAT COOOOOL! Email me or leave a comment here and we will get the ball rolling!