Monday, October 29, 2007

Sentimental Value

Do you believe in sentimental value? Keeping an object for the sole purpose of having it, even though it provides no use? Here is what usually happens for me. I keep it because I can't bare to throw it out. Then I have to move and all of the sudden, my attachment to said object becomes non existent. Like old tee shirts from high school. Totally tossed them in my last move. Or that ugly stuffed animal from that one Valentine's Day... gone. And what do you do with the millions of cards you get every year on your birthday? You keep them for a bit, then toss them while trying to ignore your guilt. I basically feel that if I am going to keep something forever, it better be exciting to someone some day, like my future children.

So when it comes to wedding dresses, most people carefully store them in a box and never pull them out again. They have delusions of their children wearing the dress someday in their own wedding or some nonsense like that. It will never happen because your spoiled child is not going to want to wear a dress from 20 years ago that they didn't get to pick out. I picked out a simple but elegant dress. It was not custom embroidered by Mark Jacobs and did not cost me a fortune. So when I was speaking to my wedding photographer / amazingly talented photographic artist Megan Resch, and we started talking about cool places to take pictures in your wedding dress, I was interested. I wanted a wedding photo with a cactus. I enjoy cactus. And I love pictures. What better sentimental keepsake from the wedding than pictures of my dress in interesting pictures.

And "Trash the Dress Photo Shoot" was born.

Saturday, we explored various locales while I wore my dress and it was really cool. I got a lot of weird looks, and it was a bit hot hiking around in the desert in the middle of a 90 degree day but it was definitely an adventure. The desert photos are from Lost Dutchman's State Park and the fair shots are from the Arizona State Fair in Phoenix.

Megan blogged about the adventure here, but I will throw a couple of pictures up on this site as well.

The fair may have been the dirtiest place that I could have gone to trash my dress but it was awesome watching people do double takes. I may not throw my dress out completely, but I think the ridiculous black smoot all over the bottom adds character. I love this photo. I rest my case.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Today is better.

Hello people.

I am much happier to be at work today... cause it's Friday! YEAH! And its Halloween! We are going to a costume party tonight. And doing a trash the dress session tomorrow.

If you don't know what it is, then check it out here: Trash The Dress.

Gonna run! Later kids.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

House 4 Sale

Wanna buy a house in Phoenix?

They say weddings are one of the most stressful times of ones life, along with child birth & death in the family. So true. At least for the ones that I have experienced. But I think you can add buying/selling a house to that list as well. Since Tom and I own two houses, it seems like we are always doing something to one of them. Fixing, upgrading, cleaning, etc consume our weekends. Well now that the wedding is over, we have decided to re-stress our life by attempting to sell Tom's house and buy a new & better house in it's place. It will be my third house to decorate/fix up before I turn 27, yippee me. Such is the real estate game in Phoenix.

In addition, since my roomie just moved out and I am no longer living in my house I need to ready my 2 bedroom townhouse to rent. This involves ripping out my carpet in my living room [which is bad to say the least] and replacing it with wood flooring. I also need to completely clean the whole place out as I still have a lot of junk there. Then I need to find suitable renters, which is always a challenge.

So Tom and I have spent the last couple of weekends of married life (besides when I am paddling around in inflatable torture devices) readying both houses for these activities. Our house is now officially on the market and the MLS listing can be found here [edit: I deleted the link because I realized I don't want any stalkers coming to my house. Even though I am not nearly interesting enough for stalkers. Email me if you want to see my house for sale.]. Please buy it. Tom has also spent the last two days ripping up my carpet and putting in wood flooring in my living room. Thanks honey! I love it when he uses power tools.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

We are special.

Hello blog friends! How was your weekend? Did you do anything fun? How was the weather?

Now that I have gotten the courtesy chit chat out of the way, we can get down to the valuable lesson that I learned this weekend:

Inflatable kayaks are the devil. If I was stranded on a desert island and was offered the choice between a cheeseburger and an inflatable kayak, I would take the cheeseburger and devour every delicious fatty morsel.

This weekend was the big debut of Team ODP, adventure racing dames out to destroy the competition in glorious fashion. Our delusions of grandeur lasted approximately 27 seconds when in the first event [which happened to be kayaking across a lake to get a checkpoint at the opposite side], we realized that our two person inflatable kayak filled with three people wasn't going to work. It went something like paddle left, paddle right, quick paddle right again, no now left, why do our paddles keep hitting each other, why are we going in circles, is there supposed to be a foot of water in the boat..ahhhh help. We were approximately .5 miles into the 1.5 mile kayak when boats started passing us going the other way. As each team would pass in their spiffy long plastic kayaks with actual rudders, they would exclaim something like "ahh, look at the poor girls in the pool float who are sinking and going in circles". And then they would cheer for us like we were in the Special Olympics. So. Very. Frustrating. Pretty soon we just started laughing because it was either that or cry and start swimming for shore. We finally made it off the water in dead last place by a mile and just memory dumped that last hour of our lives.

The next five checkpoints (3 -7) were biking legs and we were given UTM coordinates to plot on our topographical map to find them. We set about plotting and were onto our bikes pretty quickly. Finally, a part our team could rock on. We located the area of the map for the first check point and started looking for it. Hmm, it should be right here...where is it? We scoured the area, replotted, road back and forth along this path, certain that we were in the right place. Finally, we had to move on, afraid someone had removed the flag or something was dreadfully wrong and at this point, we were just wasting time. We biked about 15 miles to four more checkpoints and each time had no problem locating the little flags. We even caught a couple of slow teams in this time, mostly by cutting off large amounts of distance by going straight down the side of a the mountain on the way back. We finally realized after discussing with another team that we had plotted the first checkpoint as 7.9 rather than .79 [the coordinate is given as 4380079]. Total rookie mistake, but to be expected in your first AR with plotting and we eventually went to the right place and picked up the checkpoint.

Checkpoints 9 & 10 were kayaking legs once again and unfortunately CP9 might as well have been in Australia. It was about a 5 or 6 mile kayak away and with our "special boat" and a strong breeze blowing against the lake at that point, there was no way we would going to make it. The race director instructed us to skip it (and a few other teams towards the back) and just hit CP 10 which was a much more doable paddle. Unfortunately even a 2 mile paddle in our boat was going to be tough, so we decided to do a little trick called portaging. This is where you physically carry your boat on land rather than in the water to save time. The ended up being our saving grace as the lake was u shaped and we could just paddle across the two ends and carry our boat over the little mountain in the middle and voila, at the checkpoint. It ended up being a very quick maneuver and we even inspired another team to follow our lead. The best part about the whole kayaking debacle was the fact that we killed a fish. Yes, you heard me. When we got to our boats to begin the second part of the kayaking, there was a dead 4 inch long fish in our boat. I think it entered in the beginning of the race while we were half submerged and then commit suicide rather than stay one more minute in our crappy boat. I wish I had though to take a picture.

After finished the kayaking portion, the last five checkpoints were on foot. Yeah! Never thought I would be so happy to be running but who knew. They of course were on the top of several small and not so small mountains (think scrambing straight up a nearly vertical side of a mt) surrounding Lake Hodges. We plotted the points and had a nearly perfect navigation to all of the CPs. We even caught more teams during this time and finished in a large pack. It doesn't really count however since we didn't do CP 9, but overall, we felt like we learned a ton and were able to get from point A to point B quickly as long as it wasn't on water.

Funny thing is, physically, although I was tired at the end, I definitely could have kept going. The race was plotted at 30 miles (although we may have done more) and took us a little over 7 hours. We kept our humors up, learned to work as a team and really enjoyed the day and the absolutely gorgorous landscape.

Take a good look at this picture of Lake Hodges from Saturday, because I hear a lot of San Diego (including this area) is under attack from nine major wild fires and its all in danger of going up in smoke.

The next race is November 10th at Needle Rock just northeast of Phoenix. There is no kayaking part so we intend to be much more competitive this time. The moral of the story, spend the $ to rent a real kayak.

Oh and I forget to mention, we did win the all women's division this weekend at the race... course we were the only all women's team there, but that doesn't need to be mentioned.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


As you grow older, past high school, past college, even past your immediate release from college into the real world, you change. You grow up, you get a real job, maybe even a "career" and you tend to leave your fun & games behind. Most people move into the comfort zone were work, errands, daily television show and a possible quick yoga workout makes up your schedule. Things get left behind, things like rugby & competition & dreams. We grow up. Some of us.

But not all of us. Not me. I just can't let my competitive drive go. It's not even totally about competing against others. I still feel a inner drive to be continuously better than I was before. I think I will always be looking for the next big adventure. It's in my soul and it makes it sing. So when I kick off my newest competitive endeavor this weekend, I feel so very happy inside. I really can't keep the excitement inside, it radiates out. It will probably be painful. Most likely I will ask myself why I do this to myself at least a couple of time during it. We will probably be frustrated by at least one decision we make and it will cost us. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

My new adventure racing team code named TEAM ODP is kicking off their inauragural break into the adventure racing world of the great Southwest this weekend. We are traveling to San Diego to compete in our first race of the Desert Rage series. It is a 35+ mile race of mountain biking, trekking, and kayaking. It also will most likely have UTM plotting on the fly during the race. Last year it also had something called remote orienteering where the checkpoint information was given to one team member who had to relay it by radio to their teammates. Although this is all very new to us, we are fit, we are competitive, we are mentally tough, and most importantly, we do this type of thing for fun and usually have a blast while doing it. We are three very tough and kick ass ladies.

I am not worried about the physical. There will always be teams of men that are better athletes than us. I am not worried about the mental. We have a plan to keep our spirits up. We all refuse to quit and we all are gluttons for pain & suffering. Simply I am mostly worried about the stupid mistakes and navigational errors that newbies make. And luck. Because lets face it, in the world of long treacherous events where there are multiple mechanical devices that can fail, many places to crash or injure oneself, and the ever present mother nature, we just have to go out there and do our best. And hope to be proud of ourselves when we cross the finish.

I already am. Operation Destroy Panda's Commences!

Kidding. Try again.

Oh and btw, check out our very own ODP member Sarah on tv this weekend discussing her upcoming amazing rowing race across the Atlantic here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Hawaii Part VI - Waimea & Na Pali: Reasons to Return.

So we are finally at the sixth and final installment of the great Hawaiian saga. It's about time because I am sure you are ready to hear about the more exciting things that are happening in the newly married life. Like how the hubby is slow at work right so things are actually getting done at the house while I am GONE at WORK! It's so exciting really. He cleaned the garage a couple of days ago. He is trying to bank extra points I am sure.

So anyway, back to our final day on Kaua'i along the Na Pali Coast. We scheduled a tour to take a Zodiac raft along the coast out of Waimea, a western town. It was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. A zodiac raft, is a hard bottomed boat where you just sit perched precariously on the side and hold onto ropes for dear life. They are good for going fast in big waves, thus the NAVY Seal boat of choice. We took off out up the western coast of Kaua'i and were immediately swallowed up in some giant waves. It was so exhilarating. You had to hold on with all your might and giant waves would splash over you. People were screaming like they were on a ride at Cedar Point roller coaster (if you don't know, you should).

We finally stopped for a minute because we were surrounded by a dolphin pod. They were were so adorable and a very friendly dolphin showed off by doing a spinning jump for us right beside the boat. I had my waterproof camera around my neck but it was incredibility hard to take a picture while moving. We probably saw around 50 dolphins and several large sea turtles swimming beside the raft. We also got to jump in the water and swim some.

After awhile, we hit the Na Pali coastline and the sites became much more beautiful and the waves much bigger. Our destination was a beach only accessible by boat where we would be served lunch and be able to take a short hike and snorkel. Right as we neared the shore, our starboard motor started stalling out. This would become a problem later.

We saw a monk seal sunning itself on the beach along with some large crabs. The snorkeling was okay but the visibility was murky and we definitely had done better. We took a nature hike and out tour guide explained how the site was a very famous native Hawaiian community and how they have survived for many years there.

After lunch, we reboarded the boat to try to continue up the Na Pali coast hoping the motor would work. As we went further north, the waves became huge and the coastline became staggeringly beautiful. It was like a rugged green monster towering over us with no accessibility to it at all. The terrain was not hikable. We eventually came to the beach that is the end of the Kalalua Trail. Any access beyond this is by helicopter but is usually only done for filming the many many movies that are made there.

At one point, our Captain maneuvered the boat into a tiny opening in the rock which opened up into a sea cave. It was amazing, totally unable to be captured by camera. Apparently several people have gotten married there by kayak and Laird Hamilton (pro surfer) broke both legs jumping off the cliff into the cave while filming a Mountain Dew commercial.

About when we were the furthest away from the harbor, our second motor stopped working completely. We were in view of the end of the Kalalua Trail, and I was ready to swim for it. With only one motor, the waves were winning the battle with raft. After creeping along for awhile, it finally caught and we went flying again. Our Captain was worried about slowing down or stopping so he drove like a maniac back. I am not sure how the older people along on our trip handled it honestly. Overall, a great way to see the coast while doubling as a heart attack mini train wreck. The next day, I felt a bit like I had played a rugby game the day before.

After this, since we were already in Waimea, we decided to check out the Waimea Canyon. It is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It was like a green version of the Grand Canyon. We didn't get to do any hiking because we didn't have time (boo) but it was very compelling and another reason to return to Kaua'i. We did see a bunch of mountain goats here. It was quite the day for wildlife.

We finished up our trip by seeing one of the famous bright Kaua'i rainbows. Perfect way to end a perfect trip.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hawaii Part 5 - Na Pali Coast = Beyond Beautiful.

So our last two days of moon-en with the honey were spent along the Na Pali shore of Kaua'i. Ever since I read that this area is only accessible by boat or hiking, I was sold. One of the best ways to experience the Na Pali Coast is by the Kalalua Trail. This is an 11 mile cliff trail that run along the ocean's edge. It is beautiful, rugged, dirty, wet, rocky and really fun. The whole hike is rated as an expert level due to the condition of the trail and the fact that it must be backpacked to reach the end. Unfortunately, we did not bring out camping gear on the honeymoon, but we planned to do an out and back 8 mile hike to Hanakapai Beach and Falls. The first two miles followed the Kalalua Trail and ended at a Hanakapai Beach which is a no swimming or surfing beach due to the high number of deaths there over the years. This part of the trail wasn't too bad, just a little muddy and slippery but the views were excellent. The color of the ocean was amazing.
By the time we reached the beach, it had started to rain. We spent a little time there marveling at the size of the waves. Really giant. Due to the rain, most people headed back the the trail head at this point, but since the rain was fairly warm and didn't bother us, we quickly kept hiking leaving the Kalalua Trail.

We took a side trail back into the jungle for two miles with the destination of the 400 foot Hanakapai Falls. The trail was considered 'unmaintained' and we immediately saw this as it was much narrower and immediately put you deep into jungle thicket. We had to cross a river several times, which normally wouldn't be a big deal, but with the heavy down pore the water was raging and I did have thoughts of flash flooding. The trail soon became a river, and every once in a while we would pass people going the other way (most were turning around as the rain continued). After awhile we didn't see anyone else for a long time. We finally ran into one other couple right before we hit the falls and had to help the girl across several river crossing as she didn't seem to have much balance and fell several times. "Welcome to the jungle, we've got fun n games..."

The falls were crazy. The feeling of being out in the middle of nowhere was overwhelming. I think there was a movie filmed here, as the water spilled into a big half circle of deep rock and blocked out a lot of the light. Very cool, but we didn't stay for long as we could only keep warm by continuing to hike. It rained almost the entire way back so I think we did about 2 miles of dry hiking and 6 miles of wet. But being from Phoenix, I couldn't help but appreciate how some places get the same amount of rain in one day that we get in a whole summer. I now have a very strong desire to return to Kaua'i to backpack the entire Kalalua Trail.

After reaching the trail head, we went and took a nap on the beach seen below from the trail. We were coated in mud, water and sweat so the ocean never felt so good.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hawaii Part 4 - Kaua'i: Land of green & water.

We finally touched down in Kaua'i after a missed connection in Honolulu forced two unsuccessful standby attempts. We finally got our rental car, a luxury Chevy Aveo. This has to be the smallest crappiest car ever made. But it was cheap and brand new and we got to see how much we could destroy it in less than four days. We stopped at the Opaeka'a Falls on the way to our lodging at the Princeville B&B. At this point, Tom was pretty waterfalled out, but I love me some falling H2O.

Our B&B was located along the north shore of the island, also known as the unpopulated gorgeous, wet and isolated part. There was a lot of natural wetland there which made for good taro farming as seen here.

Our B&B was very cute but the best part by far was the personal chef we had each morning. Saturday morning we got up and went for a walk to the ocean to watch the sun rise.

When we returned, a young women around 30ish was cooking in the kitchen. She asked us if we like banana macadamia nut pancakes and said that breakfast was almost ready. Umm yeah. Sounds good. So the basic story is that she runs a restaurant in Philly but was getting paid to run the B&B and take a vacation for one month in Hawaii. I want this job. She would cook us amazing breakfasts each morning with fruit, a main dish, smoothies, coffee, and other assorted amazing things like little mango bars. Let's see, personal chef of free food...chalk another one up for B&Bs.

So Saturday morning, we decided to do a kayaking trip up the Wailua River. A river tributary led to a hike through the jungle to Secret Falls (which isn't really that big of a secret). It was a beautiful day, the river was smooth and glossy and the hike was very informative with our very own ethno-biologist major tour guide.

Not the most impressive falls we had seen on this trip, but it was still great to cool off in never less. How often do u get a kiss from u'r honey under a waterfall anyway? Group awwwww......

On the hike out, we took a small detour to something called "The Green House" which was very aptly named. Very cool enclosed room of green vines and plants. We then kayaked back to the harbor to complete the day.

We finished in just enough time to make it to a sports bar in Kapa'a and catch the second half of the OSU Buckeyes game against Minnesota. They had the game well in hand by then so we also enjoyed watching Florida lose to Auburn and about 5 other top 10 teams that get upset. It felt weird to get a thread back of reality after so much vacation. On the way home, we stopped to watch some surfers. It was funny because it was an absolutely gorgeous beach but there were big signs everywhere saying No Swimming. I guess surfing doesn't count as swimming. I don't think the north shore of Kaua'i is the place to learn to surf as the waves were huge the entire time.
Sunday's adventures proved that we needed to be rested so we enjoyed a very relaxing night just watching the sun set over the north shore.

Stayed tuned for part 5...

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Some points.

I interrupt my Hawaii adventures to bring you random blog about life.

1. Married life still consists of going to work every day. I was so lied to. I thought I got a ticket to instant housewife.
2. I don't believe that the bug that camped out in my ear for awhile the other night laid any eggs in there, so that is good.
3. Now that I am no longer engaged, does this mean I can pawn the engagement ring for a hot tub? I'm serious. Maybe I should start a rent-a-ring business for logical ladies who don't want to spend tons of $ on a ring. People only ask to see the ring before u get married anyway.
4. Jonny Wilkinson is back and trying to lead England to a second straight World Cup of Rugby title. As my very British bro-in-law knows since he brought me a calendar of JW for a gift in Christmas of 2003, Jonny makes me swoon. Seriously, ladies, I am not lying, JW makes me say David Beckham who? Google images will tell the tale. Plus he is gooo-oood... at rugby.

Oh wait, I forgot, I am married now, I no longer find him at all attractive. Don't worry honey.

5. Next weekend is Team OPD's first big event, the Desert Rage San Diego. It is a 30+ mile adventure race located at Lake Hodges just north of San Diego. It consists of trekking, mountain biking and kayaking. Since we have never kayaked as a team it should be interesting. We are still working on borrowing kayaks and figuring out how not to die and/or get last place. Angel 'poco uno' and Sarah 'crazy rower' will be my teammates for the activities so we hope to try to make the all women's podium. Since 2 of my 3 teammates haven't ever plotted UTM points, it should be interesting.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Hawaii Part III - Haleakala to Sea

We woke up early on Thursday morning for our next big adventure. Okay, it was earlier than early at 2:30 am so I not even sure if qualifies as morning. We had to meet at the Haleakala Bike Shop at 3:30 to catch our sunrise tour. The bike shop would fit you to a Gary Fisher mountain bike, give you rain proof gear and drive you in a van with all your stuff to the top of Haleakala to watch the sun rise. Haleakala is a dormant volcano that rises some 10,200 feet above sea level and boasts a large moon like crater at the top that could fit the city of Manhattan in it. It is considered one of the best places to watch the sun rise and I can say that it didn't really disappoint. Strangely enough, it is cold cold cold up there (which doesn't make that much sense to me since 12k ft mountains in Arizona aren't that cold) but the temps were probably in the 30 with a lot of wind. The sun rise was beautiful for a short time and before disappearing above the second cloud level.

I promise I did not edit this picture at all.

Tom standing on the moon.

After we watched the sun rise, we loaded back into the van to go to the park entrance where we would start our bike ride. We got to do a self guided bike back to the shop down 7000 ft. It was awesome to fly downhill since this is NOT something we ever get to do in Phoenix. We quickly left our group in the dust (amateurs) and started stripping off the clothes as we got lower in elevation and the temperature rose. My bike, although awesome compared to my K2 at home, had squeaky brakes, so I tried not to use them to much ;)
Hang Loose! We are locked and loaded.

View while biking while still high on the mountain.

Back down into the large tree level.

We stopped for breakfast about an hour down and ate at a table overlooking all of Maui. After this, we had directions back to the bike shop and were supposed to take a right about 2000 ft still above sea level to the bike shop where our car was. We were having a blast and I knew that the company allocated extra time to shop and eat in some of the towns on the way down the mountain so we decided to keep going until we hit the sea. It was an extra 30 minutes flying downhill until we came to the town of Paia. We found an alternative route back to the bike shop which allowed us to bike 4 miles along the ocean before embarking on a long steep climb back up to the bike shop. I will admit the extra 8 mile climb up the mountain kicked both our butts. We ended gasping for air and sweating a lot but I think it was totally worth it! How often do you get to bike from the top of a mountain all the way to the sea. AWESOME!

Tom biking along the Hana Highway.

We stopped to rest at the wind surfing beach we had stopped at before.

The day didn't end there. The whole biking trip only took till about 10:45 am for us because we started so early so we decided to head to the west side of Maui for the afternoon since we hadn't been there yet. We went to a place called Black Rock Beach which was known to be a good snorkeling spot. This spot had deeper water with more fish and some cool fish schools. There were also these long skinny fish that swam at the surface which was a bit unnerving when they swam right at me. I also started to get the hang of snorkeling here and tried some dives under the water level. You just have to remember not to breath in while under water and to blow out the water when you come back up. It was fun when I forgot this periodically.

Notice the long skinny fish at the surface level.

I followed this guy under and tried to learn from him how to dive deep.

This may have been the most packed day of our vacation. We had our B&B book us a luau and this was the only night available, so we went home, got cleaned up and drove back to the west side for our Feast at Lele luau. I didn't have many expectations for this as I knew that they can sometimes be sort of cheesy, but lets just say this one was anything but. Five separate courses of food and and unlimited drinks made for a great night. The food and dance were in four parts consisting of Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, and New Zealand. The New Zealand portion even performed the Haka which is a famous dance of the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby Team. It seriously gave me chills. Overall an awesome day. I had to keep punching Tom (at his request) on the drive home to keep us both awake. Whatever you want honey. We had been up for some 23 hours before crashing. Definitely one of my favorite days on the hmoon.

Friday morning we woke late and lounged until it was time to back up and hit our flight to Kauai. Good bye Maui, I enjoyed you.

To be continued...