29 Jul

Monday Moment: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Lake Miniques, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

It’s hot here in Calgary this week. I’m feeling like the dog days of summer have a firm hold on me.

Looking through my pics I’m reminded of our trip to Lake Mineques near San Pedro de Atacama in Chile…also in July. It was NOT hot!

We knew it would be chilly (no pun intended…okay, maybe!) in this region but had no idea just how close to the snow and ice we would get on this day. I think I was wearing everything I could think of!!

This image, and an icy cocktail, might just get me through the week!

25 Jul

Flying High

I’ve said that I don’t have a bucket list, but I can honestly say that I never, in a million years, thought I would find myself in a glider high above the earth. It wasn’t even on my not-a-bucket-list!

In the past I have been very fearful of flying. In fact, I relied on small prescription pills and liberal doses of gin in order to get off the ground. Anxiety and fear ruined travel days, leaving me an exhausted mess in the arrivals area.I have always hated that I hated flying and so have been working on it for the past while. And quite successfully, I might add.

Auto-piloting home from work late last week I perked up on hearing that the Cu Nim Gliding Club just south of the city was holding a ‘Chicks Take Flight’ day on Saturday. A chance to mingle with flying types, learn a thing or two about aviation, and an opportunity to co-pilot a glider.

Could I do it?

Would I have the balls?

Did I want to?

How could I not?

So I did what we all should do when we really want to do something but are afraid we won’t…I publicly pronounced I was going to do it. I told my friends, slapped it up on my Facebook page, sent out tweets and generally made sure that if I didn’t do it I would have to spend some time explaining why.

I headed out to the airfield bright and early on Saturday morning to ensure that, if there was to be a crowd, I would get a flight. I wasn’t about to pump myself up for this and be let down due to bad timing and logistics!

Glider Hangar

As one of the first to arrive at the clubhouse I quickly sign up for a flight, get weighed in (one of the first times in my life where it’s possible I am underweight for an activity!), and head to the hangar for ‘ground school’.

I’m a little bit nervous so I listen intently and take copious notes during the ‘Airmanship’, ‘Meteorology’, and ‘Flight Theory’ classes as though the learning I’m doing is absolutely critical to the aircraft staying in the air. A quick trip to the flight simulator and I’m ready to go!

Glider Flight Simulator

Shuttling out to the airstrip from the hangar I realize I’m not as nervous as I thought I’d be. I’m more excited than nervous; feeling daring, and brave, and oh-so-proud of myself. Although I do notice that the breeze is picking up and wonder how that will affect the flight. Soon I am greeted by some of the other women returning from their flights; their huge smiles clear evidence that I am in for a great ride. Unanimously they tell me how fabulous it is up there, how they can’t wait to do it again, and (most important to me) how competent and kind the pilots are.

Soon enough Alan comes over, introduces himself, and escorts me to the glider. Strapping a parachute on, I climb into the front pilot seat, my nerves climbing just a little bit also. Alan takes the time to describe all the instruments – altimeter, air speed indicator,  control stick, tow rope release, rudder paddles – but it all blurs together and sounds like the teacher in Charlie Brown to me. I’m not paying attention as I’m thinking about what I’m about to do and remembering back to all the fear I used to bring with me.

Glider Pilot

Jumping in behind me Alan quickly secures the canopy, radios to the tow plane, and we’re off! Within a few seconds we’re airborne, being pulled behind the still grounded tow plane like a kite running behind a four year old. I watch as the small plane ahead also gains air and we start the dance up to 2000 ft; he dipping and swaying in the wind as he coaxes us up to the next level; we follow along like a good dance partner, staying steady and waiting for our turn.

 

The radio crackles and Alan tells me he’s going to release the tow rope. I realize I’m holding my breath as the rope flies free and the tow plane banks sharply to the left. My breath is stuck inside me released only in small squeaks as we bank sharply to the right at the same time.

And then.

Nothing but the sound of the air rushing by the cockpit. I am transfixed by the feel of it under me. I watch as the wings flex their way through it. I can see forever; mountains, city, hills and towns.

I relax into it, grab the control stick, and pay attention as Alan teaches me how to glide through the air. It’s touchy, and responsive, and scary. When he asks if I want to take it on my own all my bravado falls to the earth and I tell him ‘not this time’. I don’t want to ruin the moment by being anxious. I want to enjoy every second and feel comfortable.

We swoop and twirl a few more times before I can hear the last song being played and realize we must heed the call of gravity and return to the airstrip. And then I’m one of those women with a huge smile on my face encouraging others to give it a try.

In the end I was as impressed by the club members as I was by the flight. Over and over I witnessed members introduce themselves, get everyone all the information they wanted, and generally  make sure everyone had a great time. This community-focused, all-volunteer club takes care of all the business of flying; tending the aircraft, mowing the airstrip, caring for the hangar, maintaining the club-house, barbecuing the hotdogs, and watching out for each other…all for the love of gliding and soaring.

Thanks to all of you that made sure I had such a great day!

******

Cu Nim Gliding Club didn’t pay me to say all these fabulous things. In fact, they didn’t pay me at all, nor did they know I was going to write about them. They really were just that fabulous. If you’re in the Southern Albera area, and are interested in gliding, I encourage you to check out their website – they do introductory flights all the time.

******

Announcing the winners of the  The$100 Startup  book giveaway!

Congratulations to Ali in Germany and Arti in India – I’m not sure that two readers who live farther away could have won!! I’ll contact each of you by email and get your mailing addresses. I’m interested to hear what you think and how $100 could change your lives.

22 Jul

Monday Moment: Ubud Oasis

Ubud Bungalows, BaliI found Bali to be such a contrast sometimes.

The island is stunningly beautiful; tropical rainforest and jungle serve up a menu of green not seen elsewhere, the heat becomes just about unbearable before a tropical storm moves in and breaks it throwing down an alarming amount of rain and leaving nothing but freshness behind, and the people are some of the most gracious, graceful I have seen anywhere.

However, the traffic can be a nightmare with scooters and cars competing for roads built long ago, tourists (of which I recognize I am one!) crowd in everywhere, and touts fill in the spaces becoming overbearing and unbearable all at the same time.

Our guesthouse in Ubud was a beautiful oasis. It contained all the beauty of Bali and none of the ugly. The traditional architecture lent a soothing calm; I would sit on the veranda in the evening taking in the frangipani scented air and listen to the sounds of traditional music waft over the wall from the restaurant across the rice field. It truly was heavenly.

*****

There’s still time to enter the giveaway!!

It’s time to share the wealth!! I have TWO copies of Chris Guillebeau’s new book The$100 Startup to give away.  I have already read it (and loved it!) and will be reading it again and taking notes as I determine how best to put my World Domination Summit $100 investment to great use.

Just leave a comment on this post letting me know you’re interested – I’ll draw TWO names on July 25th and announce the winners the following day.


18 Jul

Struck From My Not-A-Bucket List: Hiking In Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

I’ve never really had a bucket list. You know, one of those lists of things that you absolutely must do before you die? I guess I don’t want to be hemmed in to only those experiences and would rather experience whatever tickles my fancy at the time.

There are a couple of things, though, that I would really like to do. Am I contradicting myself here? Can I not have a bucket list and then also have a list of things I want to do? I mean these are BIG wants – like big enough for me to really work at making them happen. Is this, in fact, a bucket list despite my not wanting to have one? Bummer.

  1. Live somewhere else. We’re working on this and today I feel like we’re closer than ever before.
  2. Be able to speak another language. I think this will be linked to #1 – we’ll see where we end up.
  3. Do a multi-day, back country, high alpine hike. I just think it’s cool and I admire those I know that have done it.

Two weeks ago I managed to cross #3 off my not-a-bucket-list as we headed to Wyoming and went hiking in Grand Teton National Park.

We took four days to hike the Teton Crest Trail. It was everything I wanted it to be.

It was just hard enough. I had thought it would be much harder and that I would, in fact, be in tears more than once due to exhaustion and frustration. It was hard, don’t get me wrong, but it was totally doable. In fact I was amazed that I could strap on a 40ish pound pack and hike 13 km (8 miles) a day at an average of 2900 meters (9500 feet) day after day after day. It’s amazing what your body will get used to.

It was more beautiful than I had imagined. I don’t like to look at pictures of places before I go as I like to see them fresh for myself and, really, I’m not sure that any pictures could have done justice to the beauty of the mountains in person. “It’s just sooo beautiful” I would exclaim time after time as though it were impossible that such beauty existed hidden from most of the world.

There were no bears. This is grizzly country and I was very fearful of seeing one, or worse, running into one on the trail. This is one of the reasons why I have never done this before. Hiking in grizzly country meant that I had to swallow the fear and trust that it was going to be okay. Trust only goes so far though, let me tell you! We were super conscientious of being ‘bear aware’:

  • We always hiked together and we each carried bear spray.
  • We kept all food in bear canisters and hung whatever wouldn’t fit in a tree.
  • Our ‘kitchen’ was far from our tents so there would be no food smells near our sleeping area.
  • There was to be NO nice smelling items in the tenting area. We didn’t even brush our teeth before bed!

For those of you thinking of doing this here is roughly the route we followed – drop me a line if you’re interested in more detail.

Day 1. Most people start the Teton Crest Trail at the top of the gondola out of Teton village but, due to snow conditions on the trail, we opted to enter in through Death Canyon…ominous, no? We hiked all the way up the canyon and camped about halfway along the valley under the Death Canyon Shelf. It took us about 5 hours to hike the 11 km (7 miles) and was mostly up as we gained elevation into the mountains.

Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Our motley crew prepares to leave the parking lot.

Death Canyon Trailhead, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

At the Death Canyon trailhead.

Death Canyon, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

It’s not long before we can see the mountains through the trees.

Death Canyon Shelf, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

First glimpse of Death Canyon Shelf.

Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Heading up to the ‘kitchen’ which is no where near the tent area.

Day 2. Apparently we’re not an early rising bunch as we didn’t leave camp until 10:30 on this morning. We headed to the end of Death Canyon and climbed up to the Death Canyon Shelf meeting up with Fox Creek pass. This was my ‘must see’ moment – I was excited to be on the shelf and to see the views – it did not disappoint. Traversing the shelf we then climbed up over Mt Meaks pass and hiked down the Sheep Steps into Alaska Basin. This was steep and snowy at times which made for some great ‘ski walking’ and  ‘bum sledding’ on the way down. We made camp around 5:30 pm on the rocky outcrops next to a small lake about 13 km (8 miles) from where we started in the morning.

Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

The plan is to hike up to the end of Death Canyon and then climb up onto the shelf.

Death Canyon, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Start of the climb up to Death Canyon Shelf.

Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The snow along the way made it more difficult.
Death Canyon Shelf, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Oh so happy at the top. THIS is the view I’ve been waiting for!

Death Canyon, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

A view down into Death Canyon where we came from.

Mt Meaks Pass, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Seriously? More climbing? Up over Mt Meaks Pass.

Mt Meaks Pass, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park

More snow. I think this is where we brought the tequila out for a little pick-me-up!
Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Down is way more fun!

Alaska Basin, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Camp on night #2.

Day 3. We climbed almost right out of the gate on this morning. After reaching the end of the Alaska Basin we headed up through Hurricane Pass. This was not a trivial undertaking; at just over 3000 meters (10,000 feet) the oxygen level is a little lower than my beating heart would have liked. Mother Nature tried to make up for it by hurtling wind at us at an amazing rate (I guess that’s why it’s called Hurricane Pass – I would not like to see it in inclement conditions!) but all that managed to do was to make it harder to stay upright. The views at the top, though, of the Grand Tetons themselves were the best of the trip and worth every oxygen deprived step. We dropped into the upper portion of South Cascade Canyon and then dropped, quite steeply (and snowily) again before setting up camp for the night in the trees of the South Cascade Canyon camping area. It was another 13 km (8 miles) on this day and took us about 7 hours with quite a lengthy lunch break.

Hurricane Pass, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Killer climb the next morning.

Alaska Basin, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Worth it though. Looking back down into Alaska Basin.

Hurricane Pass, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Hurricane Pass is a toughy…can you see the others almost at the top already?

Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Peek-a-boo mountain.

Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

And then BAM! There they are!

Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

On the tippy top – steep valley on either side.

Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park

Some steeper, snowy, down.

Day 4. This day was all about hiking out. With the dramatic views and tough hiking behind us we just put our heads down to hike out. A downhill hike the whole way through Cascade Canyon, the hardest part was meeting up with the day trippers coming from the Jenny Lake boat. It’s weird to come across people after having been just the five of us for four days. They all smelled so fresh and clean (believe me, we did NOT smell good!). The ladies were wearing makeup and the kids were all whining it was too hard. We quickly deked off the main trail to a secondary trail to avoid it all as much as possible. We ended up alongside Jenny Lake and made our way to Spray Lake where the car was parked. Fastest day yet – 11 km (7 miles) in three hours!! Time for beer!

South Cascade Canyon, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park

Down into the trees again.

South Cascade Canyon, Teton Crest Trail, Grand Teton National Park

One last look at the mountains before we head out.

Snake River Brewing Company, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

What a great crew!!

Thank you so much to Eric, for outfitting us with all the hiking gear we needed and for guiding us safely through the mountains, and to Kim and Brian, for allowing us to be part of their dream.

*****

Have you entered the giveaway?!

It’s time to share the wealth!! I have TWO copies of Chris Guillebeau’s new book The$100 Startup to give away.  I have already read it (and loved it!) and will be reading it again and taking notes as I determine how best to put my World Domination Summit $100 investment to great use.

Just leave a comment on this post letting me know you’re interested – I’ll draw TWO names on July 25th and announce the winners the following day.


15 Jul

Monday Moment: Luang Prabang, Laos

Riding Home From School, Near Luang Prabang

We had so much fun on this day. I don’t even know where we were, other than somewhere outside of Luang Prabang in Laos. Sometimes we just rent a scooter to get out of town and see what we can find.

A school was just letting out as we passed by and suddenly we were surrounded by dozens of kids on their bikes as they made their way home. We had a great time with them, laughing and waving, slowing down and speeding up. I love the smile on this guys face as we raced him down the hill.

11 Jul

Would $100 Change Your Life?

World Domination Summit 2012It’s a small sum, right?

Seriously, we spent that on dinner and drinks last night.

And yet it is what will propel me through the next Giant Step.

It’s not the sum, but the investment. The investment in me; that I can be more, do more, reach more.

Not the amount, but the responsibility. My responsibility to live up to the expectation of what is possible.

Not the number, but the trust. Trust that I will use it wisely, thoughtfully, and respectfully.

Not the dollars and cents, but the example. Of being remarkable. Kind. Generous. Trusting. Reaching. Successful.

I may have left for the weekend filled with angst, self pity and doubt; worrying we aren’t getting anywhere quickly and that opportunities existed outside of my reach.

But I return realizing that I’m just not reaching far enough. That I need to make an investment in myself, take hold of the responsibilitytrust that I have what it takes, and be an example to myself of what I am capable of.

Hold on people, we’re on the runway…

How do you live a remarkable life in a conventional world?

*****

It’s time to share the wealth!! I have TWO copies of Chris Guillebeau’s new book The $100 Startup to give away.  I have already read it (and loved it!) and will be reading it again and taking notes as I determine how best to put my $100 investment to great use.

Just leave a comment below letting me know you’re interested – I’ll draw TWO names on July 25th and announce the winners the following day.

04 Jul

One Foot Here, One Foot…

Know what this is?

Unhung Pictures

Or this?

UnOpened Boxes

It’s undone stuff. Unhung pictures. Still packed boxes.

We’ve been here in Calgary over a year now and just haven’t bothered to completely unpack or settle in.

I realized this last week when friends moved into a new house and then declared just a few short days later that everything was unpacked; the dishes were all put away, the pictures hung on the wall, and the boxes all recycled.

Wow‘, I said, ‘we still have pictures that are not hung and boxes that are still packed.

It’s because you’re not all here’, Peter said to me. ‘You have one foot here and one foot somewhere else.’

And I suddenly realized just how right he is.

I’m ready to go, but it’s not time yet. We have a summer full of plans (including our trip to Japan!) – so full that it’s impossible, at this point, to find time to plan for anything beyond summer.

I’ve been struggling lately. I find it difficult to concentrate on my job, mostly because I just don’t care. I see opportunities float by just out of reach because there is no way I can even plant a seed with no time to water it, and nurture it, and see what it can become. I imagine what it will be like when I’m out there, doing something different…and then I wonder if I’m just crazy. I don’t even know where out there is never mind what something different is going to look like.

And yet I feel compelled. Compelled to keep reaching. Compelled to try something different. Compelled to keep taking Giant Steps. Even if I feel uncomfortable. Even if I don’t know why. Even if I don’t know where it’s going to end up.

I am, as you read this, in the Grand Teton Mountains of Wyoming. I am sure that the fine mountain air, the conversation with old friends, and the exhausting hiking will bring me some clarity.

Tomorrow I fly to Portland for this years World Domination Summit which, I hope, will propel me forward with passion, hope, and confidence.

Our plan is to return and start finding some seeds to plant.

01 Jul

Monday Moment: Potato Ladies, Near Colca Canyon, Peru

Potato Ladies, Colca Canyon

Sitting in the square of the small town Cabanaconde, we waited for the start of our Colca Canyon trek. It was a quiet, hot day and we longed to get started so we could reach the much cooler bottom of the canyon.

Across the way a potato market was underway. Traditionally dressed women sold their potatoes and then loaded them into all manner of vehicles.

The woman on the right is carrying a baby in the red patterned bundle on her back. I have no idea how they tie the fabric so that the baby doesn’t fall!