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    Loop Beginning at Herman Creek

    This hike really felt like a spring hike despite the snow and ice that caked the uppermost Ridge cutoff trail. It felt spring because we saw Trillium blooming and  the first false morels.

    A spring Trillium

    It took us 4.5 hours to hike 9.3 miles where we gained 2700 feet in elevation. Besides the great workout, this hike offers amazing views or the surrounding mountains: Mt Adams, Mt St. Helens, and Mt Hood.

    Mt Adams Mt St Helens Mt Hood

    Our day started with a chilly morning but ended with a warm, sunny afternoon. We left early and ate our lunch standing up in the snow because we forgot to eat breakfast and I kept getting dizzy and falling. Bugbee informed me later that most people die hiking because they don’t eat. We’ll eat before this weekend’s hike for sure.

    I can’t wait until this weekend because we are going with Robin and Bryan to hunt for wild asparagus!

    Summiting Elk Moutnain

    Mike and I  hiked Elk Mountain where we gained about 2000 feet in elevation in about 2 miles. The top .5 mile was covered with snow, which made the steep uphill a little treacherous for this clumsy girl. Mike showed me a new technique for uphill treks in mud or snow that kept me from sliding too much. The downhill was much much more difficult. We went further than the summit, but soon lost the trail in the snow and had to turn around. It was 4 miles and took us 3.5 hours. When we did this hike in July without the snow it took us 1.25 hours to summit, and yesterday it was about 2 hours to summit. We picnicked on the way down.

    It was a beautiful day, but too bad we couldn’t do the loop.You really notice the highway on the way down.

    Thank God for the  Appolloni Vineyards visit  after our hike. If you hadn’t noticed there’s quite the post-hike trend.

    Fanatic About Food

    I’m becoming slightly fanatic about food these days. I realized this as I was switching my minestrone soup from a plastic bowl into a glass bowl so I can use the glass in the microwave. It makes sense to me, but it still might be a little crazy.

    Wait, there’s more.

    I have decided to completely avoid trans fatty acids (hydrogenated oils), and high fructose corn syrup, and other over-processed foods. I don’t care what the agro-businesses have to say about how it’s natural, it tastes like shit!And just because something starts out as natural (although according to king corn, you can’t actually eat the corn that they use to make high-fructose corn syrup) doesn’t mean it can’t be poisonous. arsenic: natural, mercury: natural.

    For a long time I have been avoiding purchasing these types of items, but I’ve taken it a step further. I am avoiding all foods that I can’t read their label or buy as a whole food and make myself. This means when my co-worker has a birthday, I will not eat the cake unless it’s homemade (not Betty Crocker), or from a bakery that I know does not use these ingredients. You do have to be careful because a lot of bakeries use high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. They’ll buy premixed cake powders. They don’t taste nearly as good.

    This started a while ago when I became more interested in being healthy. I exercise just about every day and we cook at home most nights. Then I watched King Corn and it really hit me how horrible these chemicals are for the environment and my own health. The acres of corn are ruining our natural resources and stripping the ground of nutrients forever. One of the problems is that people want cheap food, but should food really be cheap? The more we use this cheap method, the worse off we will be.  The same person who bargain shops their food, turns around and buys several meals out a week. Why not cook better stuff at home, and eat out only on special occasions?

    Who has the time to cook at home, we say. But, who doesn’t have the time? Think about it as a time investment. 5 hours a week now buys you many, many hours that wold be spent being sick later. What are we cutting out of our lives when we cook more? A few TV programs? Will they matter in 5 years?

    Other problems are that we don’t want to spend money on food and we want what we want, when we want it. Maybe we should skip the new cell phone, the new outfit, the hair cut, and spend our money on food. Agro-business is making money because we are all bargain hunting food. And they are making money because no one is noticing quality anymore. They tell us that the shiny red apple tastes good. But, they’re actually mealy and gross. We want a strawberry in December, so they make it so. But why do we want that damn pale tasteless strawberry? Is it really necessary? What do you do with it anyway that makes it so important?

    Pacific Crest Trail from Bonneville Dam

    On Sunday, we hiked the Pacific Crest Trail from the Bonneville Dam Trail head. It was about 7.5 miles and it took us around 3.75 hours. This hike was incredibly disappointing at first, not only because we weren’t coming across much fungi, but also because the trail took us through some nasty clear cut forest.

    Finally after some time, we crossed a road, and then saw Gillette Lake, which is a crystal blue lake formed by the mountain snow melt. This changed our attitudes completely. Suddenly the rainy day didn’t even matter.We passed three lakes total and a few bridge stretched streams. Mike decided he thinks we should do the PCT in its entirety.

    The bridges were slick with moss and I nearly sent my head splat on the wood. More than once. Maybe my feet are deformed in a away the naked eye can’t see.

    It wasn’t until we turned around at the Two Chiefs trail that we realized our bodies had been working.  Then the real rain began. We thought we’d gotten through an entire early spring hike without getting drenched, but, in the PNW, that is impossible. By the end, my pants were falling off heavy with water.

    So, we completed our fourth hike this year: Vernonia trail, Forest Park, Harris Ranch Trail- Drift Creek Wilderness # 1347.

    Then we went and got beer and pizza at 360 Degrees near Camus, Wa. They have a pretty rad happy hour form 4-6 and the place is damn good despite its cold strip mall exterior and middle of nowhere location.

    Campeche, un pueblo colonial

    We spent most of the last week in a resort. It was a huge change from the places we visited in Belize and a far cry from the hotel in Tulum (El Crucero which was kind of a junk show). But, alas, traveling in the resort world is  not for me. We made the mistake of going to a sales presentation. They offered us money and food, then when we told them we didn{t want to buy into their b.s. pyramid scheme, they berated us and told us that we were dumb for not knowing how to invest money. Ha!

    The most fun we’ve had has been taking dips in the cenotes and drinking with the local old dudes. Last night the locals in campeche were all trying to buy us cuaguamas, which are like half gallon sized beers. we had to tell the bartender that we didn’t want anymore and slip out when everyone was heated in conversation.  Campeche is a beautiful colonial town. It is quite picturesque with its brightly colored, freshly painted buildings. The people are super friendly. Last night we saw an awesome outdoor play about the spanish conquering of the mayans here in campeche. It was hilarious how they said over  and over how the mayans and the spanish had love in common and that’s how they live peacefully together today. Then the pirates came and they defeated them and lived happily ever after.

    The cenotes are amazing underground water tunnels that you can swim, snorkel or dive through. They kind of freak me out because some have an unknown depth. UnKNOWN. That means way to deep. Mike coerced me to swim through this one and we went under stalagtite or stalagmites following only a loosely bound rope. Of course, he also finds the ones that noone else goes to, so we were the only ones there. Super. I had to talk myself down from hyperventillating. Some of them are like underwater pools, with lots of light, but others are dark. super dark. You can see fish pretty far beneath you, and you can tell the water is crystal clear. But if you let yourself get lost it what lies further beneath the fish you can see, you’re in trouble.  Next time, I want to use snorkeling gear.

    We are going to explore campech´s culture and museums and beer halls (that have th eold school swinging doors) for two more days, then we are off to rio largartos and san felipe to see pink flamingos and crocodiles in a nature preserve. Hopefully we will evade rain and sickness for the home stretch of our trip.

    Rain, rain go away

    Okay, so we did visit the jungle, but it’s not supposed to be raining like it does in the rainy season. Dana from Val’s backpacking hostel in Dangriga told us that this is how it rains when it’s the worst of the two weeks in the rainy season. The river is higher than it should be. It’s insane. I still really do enjoy the people here in Dangriga. The garufuna influence is quite interesting.

    Dana is playing this really nice music called Umalalie. It sounds like a mis between caribbean and African music without drums. It’s is several Garafuna women singing in chorus. Dana is juts about the nicest, most caring person I have ever met. She is helpful, knowledgable, and familiar. When she knocks on the door, she opens it. Which may not sound like somehting that would be okay in the US, but with her, it’s more matronly, and really great.


    We have been traveling for days with interrupted, choppy rest until yesterday when we finally are letting ourselves warm up to one place and relax. We went on an impromptu 12 hour tour yesterday. The host at the hotel wanted to take a trip to the local characoal ruins and to several waterfall spots for swimming, then to a local bad that serves infused rum.  We woke up at 630 am and Marcos piles 9 people in his pickup truck and we headed tot he market to buy some snacks to tide us over all day. I loved being in the bed of the pick up, but it was really hard being someone who gets car sick to bum around on the local dirt and “paved” roads of Belize. By paved they just mean some gravel has been mashed down into it. We are not too far from Guatamala, and if we were to do it all again, I think we’d check out Guatamala after San Ignacio. But, we only have a month, so we will stick to our original itinerary.

    We had such an amazing day yesterday becoming chummy with the new people we met at the hotel, and the others that we picked up along the way. I think the one defining moment was whent he Mike (from Poland) and Leah (from LA) wanted to set up a group shot in front of the largest pyramid in Caracoal. At that point everyone was pretty well acquainted and enjoyed laughed at the comedy of setting up two cameras to auto-snap the photos. I even got a picture of the two dashing away form their cameras and into the shot.

    My New Years Resolutions

    I’m mulling over my resolutions. They work for me, so it’s worth it for me to think of some, but the key is not taking on too many, and to formulate them in a way that I’m adding something to my life and not taking something away (chocolate..ahem). So I’m listening to the Heartless Bastards and drinking some homemade apple wine that my neighbor gave us and it brings me to my first one. I want to be feel more compassionate towards my neighbors whom I don’t have a lot in common with. Maybe I don’t care so much about the mullet guy who had a McCain/Palin sign on his lawn. He’s an ass anyway and doesn’t even say “hi” to me when I ride my bike past him on my way home from work. I’m talking about the hypothetical neighbors too. The people in my life who are in my life by no choice of my own and I need to deal with them even though I don’t understand them. It would make my life a lot easier if I just find some damn common ground. Okay, so I’ll try.

    My next resolution is not so easy. I want to write more. It’s like saying to dream more or be happy. It’s something that happens. I guess I could give myself more deadlines and blog more. But, I want to start my next book. It gets me excited to think about it. I don’t want to start it because I haven’t tried to publish the first one. But maybe the first one was just to whet my pen. It needed to be written. I finished it 5 years ago and I really just realized why I needed to write it. Today I realized it because I became reacquainted with one of the main characters. But now that the cobwebs from that book have cleared my head, maybe I can write the next one. And the one that Mike and i want to write. Our egos clashed when we wrote our last article. I swore I’d never date –let alone marry– a writer, and now he is writing. I don’t remember exactly why I was under the impression that two writers together was a terrible idea. Maybe we just need to drink more. Which would be my next resolution, but that and #2 are inversely related. My next one is a typical one.

    Because last year we were so good about hiking every weekend, I want a new fitness one. This time I will not only continue with hiking every damn weekend, but also include 1 day of yoga, and 2 days of weight training. It’s lame, I know, but I can’t have one about drinking more or being a terrible person. Although it probably wouldn’t be such a bad idea to have one about being more of a bitch.

    Two Types

    The snow has derailed Portland. In a good way and a bad way. People are funny when their routine is shaken up.  The snow has made some friendlier and some crankier here in Portland. It’s similar to how some people like to travel because they thrive on their routine being shaken up and others need routine, requiring a certain type of vacation, one with a strict itinerary.

    This is a place where snow happens year round at the mountain (at least on the glacier), but never happens in the City of Portland. When it does happen in Portland, everyone is caught off guard and unprepared. I grew up having to shovel snow every winter, but I still don’t own a snow shovel now that I live in Portland. It rarely snows and any sane person would rather their taxes go to schools than several snow plows to dig us out of being snowed in once every 5 years. So instead we venture out and use public transportation in its limited capacity. The Tri Met bus driver I met this morning was quite happy to be getting around with chains on his bus. He was laid back enough to roll with the disrupted city. He was being extra careful because his bus driver buddy was stuck for 15 hours waiting to get road assistance when he got stuck because his chains broke off.

    When routine is disrupted people do out of the ordinary things. People are starting conversations on the train with strangers. They are paying attention to others and asking if they need help. They are stopping to lend a hand. Maybe it’s because suddenly we are not in any hurry and we are forced to be slow and careful with our movements from our feet to the wheels of our car. We have time to look around.

    A walk from one snow route bus stop to another on 82nd avenue revealed the cranky bastard out in the snow who is just frustrated and not going to keep his mouth shut about it. I ran into two of them this morning. They are “sick of the snow” and wishing the snow would let them “at least get into the door of work” (a sex shop on 82nd). The cranky people are shoveling their driveway and swearing it’s “the last time.”

    Why are some still enchanted with the snow and others just miserable? Is it something deeper? Are some people more positive and able to see the positive in a messy situation? Or maybe some of us like to wallow and bitch, while others just want to enjoy the strange, the ordinary, and the world in its entirety.

    I’m done!

    I am finally done with my writing assignments. Right on time. I sure hope the magazine prints them. I’m not sure what I think about all of the work involved in writing two articles. I mean, I write for a living, but taking time to interview people, gather your thoughts, and come up with a nicely flowing and informative piece of work, is not easy. Why is it so romanticized? Perhaps it’s the two bottle of champagne that Mike and I shared while we were in the process of writing last night? But I recently watched the Bukowski documenary and THAT does not seem romantic. I just hope people read my articles and are inspired or learn something from them. I will post my articles after they get edited and printed for the January/February issue.