Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hola from Lima Peru!

Hola amigos. We are having a wonderful time on our vacay. We have completed the Incan trek to Machu Picchu and are back in Lima for a day before heading back to Ecuador. It was truly an amazing hike. We had a personalized tour for just us four with a guide, a cook, and thee young porters to carry our stuff. We found out that we are all super fast hikers especially at the high altitude stuff as we would pass all the other groups on the trail each day and arrive at our camp site first. For whatever reason, altitude was not a problem even at 14k feet. We sometimes even passed the porters on the uphill but then they would run past us on the wet rocky downhill and beat us to camp. It was a truly tough hike with a ton of stairs made of rock (original trail created by the Incans used the peasants who pilgrimaged to the holy Machu Picchu) and straight ups and downs. You pass over 10 amazing incan ruins on the trail before arriving at Machu Picchu and which is great because you have them to yourself versus the crowds at Machu Picchu. We had great weather with only a little rain at night. The views along the way were breathtaking and beautiful, I have taken many pictures.
Overall, Peru is one of the most interesting places I have been. The bus ride to start the trek took us through many little farming communitites where it looked like time had stopped. Their houses are made out of dirt from the ground they live on and they plow or plant by hand. Our porters were all young men from these communities. They speak Kechewn and are the indigenous people of the Andes. Our guide was a young guy from Cusco who we all loved. He was very knowledgable about the Incans and really gave us the real experience of hiking the trail. We taught him to play Eucre (cards) and he spoke very good English so we were able to question him the whole time about Peruvian history, culture, etc.

Today we flew to Lima and expored El Museo de Natcianal. There was a photographic essay on the history of the internal conflict between the Shining Path rebel group and the military that occurred inside of Peru from 1985 to 2000 where 69,000 people died. Very powerful stuff that somehow I had never heard about. Lima is very huge and metropolitan (10 million people) but we have found it very interesting people watching. Tomorrow we head to the beach in Ecuador for a little R&R. We have hiked a lot and all of our pants are feeling loose.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Getting Pumped!!

I am in a ridiculously good mood. I will leave it up to you to decipher the reason for this. Here is a hint: something about packing for a 16 day adventure along with saying adios to something that resembles a small gray box which I normally sit in for 8 hours a day. Don't tax your brain too hard if you can't figure it out.

I also got some other really good news this morning that more deals with my future life plans. I now have an interview for a PA program in Phoenix for January. This is a huge necessary step towards actually getting accepted into a program. With the economy the way it is, my alternatives if I don't get into school are really not looking very appealing so I really really hope this works out for me. I plan to dazzle those poor interviewers into sub admission.

Maybe I will get a chance to post from Peru or Ecuador and maybe I won't. But internet, you have fun in my absence.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

South Mountain at Night

Angel and I took a night hike up the Morman Trail on South Mountain last night. It was a perfect night: 70s with a gentle breeze in a quiet that seemed unreal as the trail overlooked the busy bustling city most of the time. I have never done this trail in the day and it seemed very nice with lots of cactus surrounding (my fav).

I tried to get some good night pics with the simple settings on my camera, but I rate them about a C+. They look okay in small sizes but the lights tend to get blurred on the long ISO settings.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dropping Weight.

I spent most of the weekend studying for Organic Chem and doing all of my assignments for the next two weeks and getting ready for the big trip. I got a raincoat and some warm socks from the ole REI in order to complete my cold/rainy hiking wardrobe. I am getting pretty excited about hiking in the Peruvian Andes. The pictures I have seen are awesome.

In order to prepare for four days of hiking at elevation, I have starting doing the stair climber at the gym. Is there any piece of equipment or workout that makes you sweat so quickly? I am dripping in sweat by the end of 10 minutes...quite gross. I did 125 stories last night, whatever that means.

I am trying to pack light for this trip because carrying extraneous weight at 14,000 feet above sea level seems to seem like a bad idea. I know when backpacking, by about midday or mile 5 whichever comes first you really start to regret every piece of clean underwear you brought...really, who needs to be clean,. By day 2 your are pretty irritated that you thought you needed that stupid tent and by day 3 you start eating all your food just to drop weight. "Next time I am just bringing butter for my calories", you shout. Less really is more in this situation.

Also, a shout out to my buddy Jack who is racing the Baha 1000 solo on a motorcycle this Friday morning. He is one tough dude which is why I always want to cry when I ride mountain bikes with him. He doesn't ever want to stop to rest. It is around a 30 hour race with continuous speeds of 90 mph on desert stopping. Rip it up Jacko. Apparently you can follow along in real time here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gittin Ready to Fly South

So we are getting our last minute preparations for Ecuador/Peru done this weekend. We leave next Saturday...woohooo!! Which means I need to break in the new Solomons because I realized that my old ones were falling apart and had holes in them and that might be a bad things in the rainy season of the Inca Trail while hiking for four days.

Lately I have been single handedly trying to get our economy going again. Nice rain & hike gear costs moolah ya know. I am pretty much ready to go except I still need a rain coat and some nice non desert socks. I am getting nervous about the elevation we will be experiencing during the four day hike to Manu Pichu. Several passes well over 13K and camping one night that high as well with only 1 day of acclimization. Ah well, bring it on. Just gimme some coca leaves.

While I am gone, you will get a nice two week hiatus for this site. Appreciate it because I am sure that I will have tons of pics that I will lather on you once back.

The only crappy part of taking off is the amount of studying I need to do either before the trip or during the trip (yeah right...). I have an exam over 4 chapters the day I get back. So this week/ chem will be my adventure.

Have a good weekend kids.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

24 Hour of Fury MTB Report

Bad bad blogger. I am up in Portland for work right now and guess what...its raining!! Shocker I know. I am about to head downstairs for a conference dinner which is scheduled to last four hours. Please, someone... anyone... shoot me now. So I will have to keep this race report short much to your benefit I am sure.

This past weekend was the 24 Hour of Fury at McDowell Mountain Park. My team of four consisting of Jack, Todd, Sarah and I finished a scant 9 minutes ahead of 4th place to claim our moment of 3rd place plaque glory. We finished with 21 laps of 10 miles each. Each lap was a chock full full out hour of high heart rate, lots of steeps ups and downs, rocks and curves...pretty damn fun actually.

It was overall a really fun race. My best lap was my first one at 1:03 which I think I could improve on, but I was happy with. I loved the night laps, even the one where my main light broke within 5 minutes of the start and I had to ride with just a small headlight. There are so many tough loose steep hills of this course that each lap it is like a competition to see how many of these you can make it up without jumping off your bike.

As for our accomodations, my teammate Todd owns DragonFire Racing Co. and brought one of his Baha chase trailers used to transport race cars. It was pretty sweet because we had an 80 foot trailer to chill in during the off hours. I love the relaxed pace of four person teams with the nice break in between rides, but truly my second fastest lap was my last lap done in the morning so I wasn't starting to slow down yet. I still want to do one of these races solo or duo at some point...we'll see.

Here are some pics from the race.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Day in History

What can I say. What can anyone say. Watching history be made is never something to take for granted. I am trying to soak it all in.

America has been so apathetic about politics since I came of voting age in the past decade mostly because when you don't have hope of making a difference, you stop caring. That apathy is now gone. There is an energy that ran through our country, regardless of who you were supporting which I have never before seen. The collective sigh of relief that rippled through this country from all Obama supporters is tangible. We had done it. We had elected a man who beat the old establishment to give us hope, to take away our apathy, to make us believe again that anything is possible, that we can accomplish the impossible.

I am grateful to President-Elect Barack Obama. For bring a new direction to Washington. For allowing me to hold my head up high as I travel abroad. For not running a campaign based on negativity but on promise. For taking on a job with ridiculous inherited obstacles that anyone in their right mind would run from. For being a man of reserve, patience, calm, peace, intelligence, hope and quiet energy... who just happens to be an African American. And most of all, for inspiring America to believe that the circumstances of one's birth does not dictate the path their lives have to take.

God Bless America.

And to my old stomping grounds of Ohio... woot woot!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day is Here!

U. S. A.!!! U. S. A!!!

I am totally excited to go vote today. I don't care if the lines are long or if the person if front of me will smell like a rotten banana, today excites me. I might have to go to a bar to watch the election results roll in (after I race in the Tuesday night short track MTB race of course). A change is brewing, no matter who wins, and we can finally take out some old garbage. That said... GOBAMA!

This past Friday night, I went to a Halloween party near Mill Ave in Tempe. We took a stroll down Mill later in the night and let me say, the costume watching was top notch. One of my friends was dressed as Michael Phelps (just like 25 other people), but the fact that he is 6'6" tall made him look really authentic. People kept chanting U.S.A, U.S.A every time he did the arm flap, which looked damn authentic. I was a #2 pencil (don't ask) and Tom was SpongeBob. I will post some pics later when I get them off my camera.

Saturday, we went riding at McDowell Mountain park to preride for the 24 Hours of Fury coming up this weekend. Yup, last minute 24 hour race...nice... I am doing it with a 4 person team though so it shouldn't be too bad. I am excited because I love the course (10 miles through amazing desert terrain) and we have a kicken RV to stay in from my friends racing team. Should be good times, being the slowest link.

Anyway, I have to go cast my vote. It is high of 76 and sunny today which is why I live in this big sand pit.

I went to vote and once again ran into the crap that is known as Arizona's Muddled Election Process. I was sent an early mail in ballot even though I never asked for it and it got lost in the muddle of fake mail and other crap. I only opened it last week, figured it was too late to send back and just decided I would go to the polls to vote. I honestly saw it as an alternative way to vote if I so chose. So when I show up at my polling station, they tell me that I can not vote since I already was sent a ballot and can't vote twice. I was invited to fill out a provisional ballot. F that. I had to do that last time and I am not doing it again. So I had to get the early ballot which I luckily had not thrown out, and fill it out and put it in a Tupperware container (unlocked of course) to cast my vote. I swear, this shouldn't be this hard. Why are they sending ballots to people who don't request them and then turning them away then they show up in person at a polling station. It just gives people ammunition for accusations of voter fraud. Anyway, I did cast my vote and now I feel better if not annoyed. Can we please enter the 21st century with voting at some time in my lifetime?