Thursday, November 30, 2006

Is being Maximus a good thing?

I took the "What Action Hero Would You Be" quiz, and here are my results. I had to do a "tie-breaker" 'cause I'm very close to 3: Maximus, Captain Jack Sparrow and El Zorro. I chose family over rum...

You scored as Maximus. After his family was murdered by the evil
emperor Commodus, the great Roman general Maximus went into
hiding to avoid Commodus's assassins. He became a gladiator,
hoping to dominate the colosseum in order to one day get the chance
of killing Commodus. Maximus is valiant, courageous, and dedicated.
He wants nothing more than the chance to avenge his family, but
his temper often gets the better of him.

Captain Jack Sparrow




El Zorro


William Wallace


Neo, the "One"


Batman, the Dark Knight


Lara Croft


The Amazing Spider-Man


Indiana Jones


The Terminator


James Bond, Agent 007


Which Action Hero Would You Be? v. 2.0
created with

And as for what Goddess I am...

You Are Artemis!

Brave, and a natural born leader.
You're willing to fight for what you believe in...
And willing to make tough decisions.
Don't forget - the people around you have ideas too!

I can live with that! :)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Love my new skates!

Got my new skates for roller derby last night and man! Wow, they're fast! :) I love them, they're great. Make all the difference in the world. Only problem is I didn't have toe stops. They didn't com in on time, so I had to skate without. I learned how to do a t-stop very quickly last night. Now I'm just waiting for my helmet (and toe stops). Only fell down a couple times last night...but I have bruises in odd places. Gave myself quite a nice one on my shin. Not nearly as beautiful as April's though! And yes, if you feel you have to, I'll let you poke it! :) You just have to ask first...

The hard part now is picking a name. I've got a big list...but it's a decision you have to really think about. It sticks with you, and it needs to describe you. We'll see what we come up with for me.

I can't wait 'til Cathy's back at work so I can get back into a regular swim schedule. I've been missing the water. Oh well. Off to do story time, then I'm taking the rest of the day off, in lieu of working Saturday. Hope you're all staying warm in this frigid weather. I actually woke up last night and put on my housecoat, llama socks and long johns. The cats crawled under the covers to sleep too! :)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Peru, day 13 (Sept 21)

This was the one day I felt like the elevation had affected me, but only in the morning. I didn't sleep well the previous night (too cold and a nasty cough!) so woke up feeling a Just before breakfast I started feeling nauseous and I couldn't even stay in the meal tent. I had to walk around breathing deeply to stop myself from throwing up. Ok, if you have a sensitive stomach, STOP READING NOW!!!! :)

I take daily medications, so I'd already taken them with some hot coca tea. I wandered around trying to stop the nausea, but eventually lost that battle. As I was throwing up I noticed the most beautiful flower hanging over the nearby stream. Here comes the icky part....I HAVE to take my I had to look through what I'd thrown up to find them. Then wash them and take them again. Ugh. I don't know how I did it...except I had to! Seen Maria Full of Grace? Yea, kinda like that...but easier. Someone finally gave me a gravol, and that helped. Within in hour I was feeling great! Here's that flower I saw (I went and got the camera after and took a picture). It doesn't look as amazing in the picture as it did in real life...but the colours were so vibrant and the reflection of the sky and mountains in the water...well, it almost made puking worth it. Almost.

Here's mom in our tent packing up our stuff. The early morning started off foggy, as usual, but cleared up as we were finishing eating. Or at least, some people were finishing eating. I knew it was a mistake to not eat, since today was our big climb...but I just could not keep anything down. I had plenty of power bars and electrolytes with me.

Here's a view of the valley we stayed in. The clouds are covering the beautiful glacier right above us. Today we were going to ascend to 16,000 feet (about 5,000 meters)! I was scared. As were most people. That's high, and some of the members of our group were already suffering. But I was also excited. This was going to be a great accomplishment. The blue tent in the foreground is the cook tent, the large brown one is the meal tent and then of course all the rest of our tents. The smaller blue tent in the back is the "bad one" that mom and I got out of the way the first night out! :) You can also see the horses in the background.

One thing we learned very quickly is that at this altitude the air is COLD and it hurts to breath it in. It was suggested to us to put our bandannas over our mouths and breath that. It helps keep the air warmer, and also helps you with your O2 and CO2 levels (not sure that's actually true, but we did as we were told!). It did help, but after a while it just felt too claustrophobic to walk with the bandanna over my mouth, so I pulled it down. That's Roberto off to our right. He was about 45 years old, but looked 70! But man, could he hike!!! He was very funny. Spoke almost no English, but communicated very well with hand gestures. He was always telling us to go a different trail than Wilbur...Roberto is Wilbur's uncle. Sometimes his trails were better ... sometimes not! :)

Now you can see the glacier! It was fabulous! It looked so close, like you could reach out and touch it. Of course, the reality is that it was far away...but look at it! That's mom. She struggled, but made it. I was amazed, but I was out front with only a couple others. Mom was farther back with the rest of the pack.

We hiked for about 4 hours and then stopped for lunch. At that point we were still about 1,000 feet from the summit of the pass. After lunch we continued on our way. Up this high the vegetation was...odd. Very few trees, and those that were there were twisted and really dark. There also started to be a lot of moss. The air was full of moisture and the fog seemed to be here to stay.

Most of the day I hiked with Clasina, Jean, Maureen, Carol and Toni with the rest of the group much farther behind. We just fell into this fabulous rhythm...not thinking, just placing one foot in front of the other. It is amazing how difficult everything is, even just walking, when you're up this high. Even the porters, native Peruvians were huffing and puffing. Made us feel better. We finally reached the summit...or what we thought was the summit. But it in fact turned out to be one of three summits! The first group had been here awhile when the other group caught up. Ken, Kim and Anne had been riding most of the day. Kim and Anne were really really sick. We knew they were...but just not HOW sick. So here is everyone taking a break.

After that first peak we went up and down for the next two hours crossing over the other two summits. Here we are descending into the first high valley after the first peak. We passed several lakes. They were beautiful and pristine, and looked bloody cold! :) These pictures really don't show how beautiful it was. Take my word for it, it was amazing.

Since we didn't talk much this day, I had a lot of time to think. And reflect. This was one of those days that...was hopefully life-changing. I was able to think about the pain in my life, what I wanted out of life and how I was going to get there. I can't explain it, but this day changed me in some ways.

Here I am at 16,000 feet. The trail actually only went to about 15,850. I looked up and there was a cairn up on a ridge about 200 feet above us. I was I scrambled all the way up, took the rock I'd brought with me from Bend and put it on the cairn. I put all my pain and loss into it...and then put it away. Then I sat there and cried for a couple minutes. Sigh. It was good though. I can't always retain that feeling of freedom, but if I close my eyes and think... I can get back there. Have I said sigh? :)

Then something terrifying happened! Really truly. It still makes my heart beat faster to think about it. Kim was very sick, and had been riding all day. We were coming up to one of the summits ... I think it was the last one... and her horse stumbled! He fell to his knees, almost rolled over, and threw Kim off. Now, if this was flat land that would be one thing. This was on the side of a very steep mountain with huge drop-offs close by! It was terrifying! I was impressed with the horse handler. He went straight for Kim and tried to break her fall. Thank all that is holy, is was in a spot that was grassy with these grass hillocks. 100 feet back and she would have been thrown in a rock section! Man, it was scary. Kim handled it well...but we all knew she was just in shock. That lasted until we got into Aguas Calientes and then it caught up to her, and she lost I for a few minutes. It was really scary. Needless to say, she walked for a long time after that. So did Ken. The poor horse felt really bad, you could tell. He tried very hard to stay on his feet, but just couldn't

Here is that later group after passing the last summit. Standing from left to right is: Anne, Carla waving, Ken and Rudy. Kneeling are Kim and my mom. As you can see, the fog stayed with us most of the day.

However, it cleared up for about 3 minutes...just enough time to get this picture.

After crossing over the three summits, we started descending very steeply. It was tricky, technical terrain. Again, I was amazed at how well I was doing, how good I felt! Having eaten nothing for breakfast, and feeling as rough as I had, I thought I was going to hit the wall. i never did. In fact, I was consistently in the first pack...and wasn't pushing myself. We came down, down, down and eventually camped at about 14,000 feet. It was again, a pretty high campsite, but we couldn't go any farther. We camped right next to an old abandoned farm. Pretty cool. Literally and figuratively. The next day was going to be a long day of descending down to the valley...

Monday, November 27, 2006

Snow, snow and more snow!

It's been snowing here in Sunriver all day! Which is great...but I'm not looking forward to the drive home. I don't have my studs on the car. I'd decided to not put them on. So many people I've talked to never use them...they do damage the roads, and studies have shown that they don't really help prevent accidents. Of course, that may be 'cause people get studs on, then think they're invincible and drive like the road is clear! Sheesh. That and when I thought about last year, there were only about 5 or 6 times I really needed them.

Like tonight. I'll just go slow. Any hey, for all I know the highway is cleared! Lava Butte is just not a fun part of the highway. Fewer fatalities since they put in the middle divider, but still...

But the snow is beautiful! Had roller derby practice again yesterday. Fun fun fun. April has the sweetest bruise! I thought that she was holding something on her lap...but no, it's just this glorious purple, green, yellow and red bruise. Now, I'm a bruise poker (hee hee), but that one looked waaaaay to ouchy!!! I should by getting my skates on Tuesday, thank god. The ones I've been using SUCK! I'm getting better on I should be much better on "real" skates.

Now just waiting for 6:00...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Food coma

Despite having eaten too much, probably...and pretty much being turkey'd and thanksgiving'd out ... thought I'd share a few of my favourite Thanksgiving (or any winter holiday) recipes. Had a great Thanksgiving yesterday ... today wasn't quite so fun. But all is well, and it's only upward and onward, right?

Oh well, if nothing else, I bought myself three pairs of shoes! :) (Bass Outlet had an amazing sale! I got these $80 red boots for $17!!!)

Lynne’s famous corn casserole
1 canned creamed corn
1 can whole corn with juice
1 stick margarine
1 cup sour cream
1 egg, beaten
8 oz box corn muffin mix (Jiffy)

Mix all ingredients together and put in greased 2 qt baking dish. Bake one hour (or more) @ 350 degrees. Sprinkle with grated cheese.

My favourite sweet potato and pear soup
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
¼ cup celery, chopped
¼ cup carrot, chopped
3 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 pears, peeled and diced (I use Bartlett pears, but Bosc work as well)
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp paprika
5 cups chicken broth
½ cup whipping or heavy cream (optional)
2 tsp maple syrup, or to taste
2 tsp lime juice, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

In a pot, heat butter on medium heat. Add onion, carrot and celery. Saute for 1 minute. Add sweet potatoes, pears and thyme. Saute for another 2 minutes. Add chicken broth and paprika. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes or until sweet potato is soft.

Puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Return to pot.

Add cream, maple syrup and lime juice. Simmer for 5 minutes. If soup is too thick add a little extra broth. Season with salt and pepper, adding more syrup or lime juice as needed.

Can be made up to 2 days ahead of time. Garnish soup with a swirl of sour cream when serving.

Stuffin’ muffins
This is a Rachel Ray recipe. Everyone fights over who gets the crispy bits of the stuffing. Here’s a way to let everyone have the crispy part!

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 stick butter, softened
1 fresh bay leaf (available in produce department)
4 celery ribs and greens, from the heart, chopped
3 McIntosh apples, quartered and chopped
1 medium to large yellow onion, chopped
2 tbsp poultry seasoning
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
8 cups cubed stuffing mix (recommend: Pepperidge Farm)
to 3 cups chicken stock
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Preheat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil and 4 tbsp butter. When butter melts, add bay leaf and add the vegetables as you chop them, celery, onions then apples. Sprinkle the vegetables with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Cook 5 to 6 minutes to begin to soften vegetables and apples, then add parsley and stuffing cubes to pan and combine. Moisten the stuffing with chicken broth until all of the bread is soft, but not wet.

Butter 12 muffin cups liberally with remaining butter. Use an ice cream scoop to fill and mound up the stuffing in muffin tins. Remove the bay leaf as you scoop the stuffing when you come upon it. Bake until set and crisp on top, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove stuffin’ muffins to a platter, and serve hot or room temperature.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Turkey Day!

Hope everyone has a fabulous Thanksgiving. It's nice to have choices about where to go, and I got quite a few invitations this year. Nice to know you're wanted! :) This year I'll be hanging out with a bunch of librarians (and a few other assorted people). Looking forward to some great food and drink. Then it's game time! I'm not really good at poker, and some of those librarians get really know who you are! :)

I have to work Saturday, but at least I have Thursday and Friday off. I'm going to try and get up to the mountain on Friday...but I'm not sure I can afford it. It's not necessary, and is kinda frivolous when you're trying to be frugal...but I miss skiing!!!! Than Sunday it's roller derby again. Hooray!

I took a picture of Loki last week...she really got fat during her confinement after her surgery! She is actually sitting in a cat bed, which you can barely see under all that flab! Dread lost some weight, Loki gained what he lost...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Peru days 11 & 12 (Sept 19 & 20)

Sept 19
These were our trekking days. We did not do the classic "Inca Trail" because that has about 500 people per day on it! Insane. We wanted something more...rugged, so that's what we got. When we finally arrived in Agaus Calientes other guides were amazed at the route we did. Nice to astonish others.

So here we are starting out from Vilcabamba at 7:30 a.m.. This is actually the main street. Small town! :) We headed up past Nusta H'ispana again, but this time kept going. In the morning it had rained hard before we got up, but by the time we left it was warming up.

See, I'm already down to shirt and shorts. Man, convertible pants are the best! This day we did some ups and downs, but it wasn't terribly difficult. Here I am looking down into one of the beautiful valleys we passed.

We hiked for about 5 hours or so, waiting for the pack horses to catch up to us. They were carrying our tents etc, but also our lunch! We finally stopped here and took a good long 2 hour break. We weren't supposed to, but the horses were SO far behind us we eventually just had to stop and wait for them.

Turns out one of the horses was not working out, and they had to go back to Vilcabamba and exchange him for another one. They must have really pushed the horses to catch up with us. Took about another hour for lunch to be ready, but it all worked out in the end. During lunch they also repacked the horses, as their loads had shifted. Made me feel so guilty seeing them with all our crap!

We were incredibly lucky with the weather our entire trek. It threatened rain several times, sprinkled a bit once or twice, but never really truly rained. At least, not so us Vancouverites would notice! :) But every time the clouds came out we prepared ourselves. It was the start of the rainy season, so you can never tell. Each day followed the same weather pattern pretty much. Cold foggy morning, hot clear late morning/early afternoon, clouds rolling in late afternoon, usually clear cold evenings/nights.

Because of our really long "lunch break" we were way behind schedule. We were supposed to get into camp at about 5:30. Here's mom and I on the the pass before descending into camp. The pass was about 3,900 meters called Ja Jutiua.

Sept 20
This is our cook Dante in the cook-tent. He was pretty frickin' amazing with what he could conjure up.

Mom and I had spent our night in the "bad tent" to get it out of the way. There was one of the tents that was not as good as the others. It wasn't a tent for cold weather, and one of the poles was missing. They'd rigged up a branch to use as a pole, but it kept sliding. So each pair took one night in the bad tent. I'm so glad we got it out of the way at the lower elevations. Oh yea, and I discovered that while I thought my bag was to -15 degrees ....NOPE!!! It was a +15 degrees bag! I was ok in Vilcabamba and our first night out on the trek, but there were two nights when I was very cold. Me, cold!

Here are Carla and myself starting out our second day, at about 8:00 by the time we got everything packed up. The start of the day was a nice firm trail descending into a valley and following the river to the other end of the valley.
Along the way we met a local farmer and his family. We stopped to chat. Behind us you can see their farm. They're out in the middle of nowhere! These were one of the only people we saw during our trek. Wilbur had suggested we buy some pencils to give to the kids we'd meet along the way, so we gave away a couple of ours here. The kids loved them. Carla was really smart, she brought a bunch of toothbrushes and old clothes from home. They really really like those things!

After we reached the end of the valley we had to ascend for about 2 hours. Both Kim and Ken were really starting to suffer, so they rode for a large portion of this day.

We got into camp nice and early after descending a bit. The valley we camped in that night was just beautiful! It was also the highest we were going to camp at 4,100 meters (about 13,450 feet). This was the night I felt really cold, and was affected by the altitude the next morning. We camped right at the base of these huge glaciers that felt like you could reach out and touch them! They were called Suruquaca Double Massif. Can you see our tents? Those tiny white dots off in the distance...
But to get there we had to cross over a river that ran through the valley. Ken was still riding at this point, so he had it easier. It was the most incredible, beautiful valley. When we got in to camp, we had a GREAT surprise for us. Tea, handmade nachos and guacamole! OMG, I'm not sure anything has tasted as good as that did. Mmm, my mouth is watering remembering it. Man, it was really really good.

That night we had...not sure what it's called...lightning without thunder? Not dry lightning, that's just without rain. Anyway, it was lightning without the sound. Amazing! Started after we were in bed, and is evidently very common. I was out going pee and it kept going off. I wanted to stay out and watch it, but it was VERY cold up this high...and with no clouds to keep in the warmth... this was the night I really suffered. I'd gotten a cough and sore throat back in Cuzco, and by this time it was preventing me from sleeping. Luckily Toni had some great cough drops that really helped. In retrospect, I think my cough and sore throat were actually the start of High Altitude Sickness.

We tried to get good sleep and rest that night, because the next day was going to be our "big" day. The day we ascended to 16,000 feet!!!!!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Ouch I hurt!

Friday I went to the unveiling of DPL's Novel Idea for this year, Bowerman and the Men of Oregon . Should be good. It's a thick book, so you might want to get started now! :) We had dinner at Merenda's first...and I gotta tell ya, it's such a crap shoot there. Your meal is either fabulous, or terrible. I had a fabulous meal, poor April had a horrible one. But then we had free drinks at the library. Not too shabby. Oh yea, and I won the raffle!!!! I never win anything! We then wound up at the D and I didn't get home 'til....way late. Fun, fun, fun! :)

So Sunday I went with April to roller derby. I'm going to join...but first I have to get my feet and legs used to roller skates again! I used to skate all the time when I was younger, and it seemed SO much easier when I was 10. I only fell once, which evidently is pretty good. I did however have major shin cramps. Ouch, ouch, ouch! So bad I had to get off. Eventually I got back out there. I have to get my own skates though. The skates at the rink are terrible terrible terrible! I used ice and heat on my legs last night, which I think helped. Today though, it's my hips, shoulders and the sides of my chest under my arms that hurt.

And they really hurt!!!! :)

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Yummy, best soup ever!

Well, ok. Maybe not ever...but it's damn good! I made it tonight, and it's as great as I remembered. I got the recipe from Sheila, who made it for me last time. It may seem like an odd thing to blog, but it's so good I want to pass it on. So, here it is:

Green Chili Chicken Soup

½ cup butter
¾ cup flour
2 cups milk (or 1 cup milk, 1 cup heavy cream)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked diced chicken
7 oz can diced green chilies (mild) or to taste
10-20 slices hot jalapeño peppers (since you can only get mild green chilies. I used canned to save time)
pinch of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Over medium heat melt butter. Add flour and mix to make a roux. Add milk/cream and chicken broth stirring until there are no lumps.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Stir occasionally.

MMMMMMMM! Try it, it's fabulous! :)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Peru, day 9 & 10 (Sept 17 & 18)

Sept 17 we were off to start our trek. It was a loooong bus ride, 10 hours. Basically, from Cusco we drove around Machu Picchu to Vilcabamba and from there we'd be hiking back to Machu Picchu. On the drive we had to go over a 4,200 meter (almost 14,000 feet) high pass. We could all feel it. Gave us headaches. The road over the pass was very scary! It was barely two lanes wide, and it was terrifying when we had to pass another vehicle. Even our most unflappable member was finding it difficult. I had to literally shield my eyes from even looking in that direction.

Here's a view looking back on the road we'd been coming up. One switchback after another...

And here's a picture of what it looked like when we passed another vehicle. Insane!!! There was NO room for error! Towards the top it started getting really foggy, which just made me more nervous. And then, the paved road ended and it was gravel the rest of the way. I tell ya, when we reached the lower elevations, I wanted to get out and kiss the ground!

We finally arrived in Vilcabamba, a very small town in the high jungle, about 3,200 meters. From there we were a five day hike from Machu Picchu. We arrived just in time to set up our tents before the rain rolled in. So far, we'd been very lucky with the weather. This was the start of the rainy season, but it could go either way. We were all hoping this wasn't a omen of weather to come! :) Here's mom in our tent set up at Vilcabamba.
Here we are having dinner that first night. The plan was to stay in Vilcabamba for two nights: the day we got there, do a moderate hike the next day, stay that night and then head out for the trek early the next morning. So, in the below picture from left to right we have: Carla, Toni hidden behind Carla, Ida half hidden by the pole, Anne (she's the one who arranged the whole trip), Carol, Jean, me, Clasina, Maureen and her husband Ken. Missing are my mom, Kim and Rudolph. Ida is Anne's sister, and came all the way from Germany for this!

Sept 18 ~Here we are the next morning heading out for our hike. We were going to hike for about 4-5 hours, stretch our legs. This was Wilbur's chance to really gauge our fitness level. We took our "starting" picture today, so that we wouldn't have to worry about it tomorrow. The rain had also cleared up for our hike. It had rained cats and dogs (or since I was in Peru guess I should say... llamas and alpacas?) all night long, but cleared up right before we got out of our tents.

Shortly after the above picture was taken we had to step to the side of the trail to let a herd of horses run past us. While we did so, Toni, Anne and Kim were way at the back. They unfortunately took the wrong turn and would up on the wrong side of a ravine. It was rather interesting to lose people from our group on the first day! :) Eventually we got them back and continued on towards the Vilcabamba ruins, Nusta H'ispana and Vitkos. Here is mom going up some Inca steps. Again...whew! They tuckered us out.

Here's Nusta H'ispana. It was a sacred site used by the priests. It was only partially completed because the Inca didn't have time to complete it before the Spanish found them again. Vilcabamba and Vitkos were the last strongholds of the Inca. They had fled to this area to try and get away from the Spanish. It worked for a while, but they were eventually found. You can see me sitting facing the camera. The other side of this was all terraced. You can see that on my Flickr gallery.

And this is Vitkos. The last Inca king, Tupac Amaru was here in the last Inca stronghold for... I think it was about 10 years. He was tricked by the Spanish to come to Cusco, where, they told him, he would be honored. Instead he was tortured and murdered. And so ended the Inca rule. War is always sad. Sad, sad, sad. Here we are coming into Vitkos. It's high up on a hill that has almost 360 degree view, good for defending. It's being rebuilt/restored, so doesn't look as much like a ruin as some of the other archaeological sites.
We made our way back to camp, had dinner and went to bed early. The next morning the horses would be packed up with all our stuff...and we were leaving! :)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Peru, day 7 & 8 (Sept 15 & 16)

Mmmm, I'm sitting here drinking some left-over mulled wine. Had some friends over last night and made it for them. It's so tasty!!! Would it be bad to make a whole batch just for myself? And it makes the house smell really good too! :)

Ok, back to Peru...

Sept 15 was our rest day in Cusco. Spent the day bumming around the city and a little bit of shopping. Bought my fabulous blanket that day. It took me about four hours and a ton of walking to find the one I really liked...but it's worth it. So nice and warm. We also had our briefing for the trek. All day I'd been thinking about taking a "day off" from the group and going on a mt bike ride. I was a bit nervous, 'cause if I got hurt right before the trek...I would have been in such trouble! Also, after looking at the shops that did the mt bike tours, I didn't have much confidence in the equipment etc. Finally decided that I would regret it if I didn't. You know what they say, we only regret the things we don't do. So I decided to go for it!

Sept 16 I woke up really early and headed out to meet my fellow bikers. I was supposed to be going with four other women, but when the tour guide finally showed up, it turned out it was just me and one other guy, Olaf. It was fine, just not what I'd been expecting. The bike they had for me was small enough...but it was a piece of crap! I didn't expect high quality bikes, but I did expect that they'd work. I only had 3 gears! And my helmet had to be tied on! Sheesh. It kept slipping back on my head, or down over my eyes. I finally gave up and just decided to not fall! :) The route was about 27 miles with elevation gain of only about 800-1,000 feet, which here would not cause me difficulty. But there...! Wow! When you're at 13,000 feet ANY hill feels huge. Especially when you only have a couple of the middle gears.

So this is about 30 feet into our ride and already the fourth fix! Not a good sign. Our guide Gilbert totally reminded me of a Hawaii surfer dude. Very funny. But he was great.

Here I am a little bit into our ride. The wind was pretty strong and was making it even worse. This was the first time in Peru that I had to use my inhaler. The view was just beautiful, and the riding would have been a LOT more fun at a lower elevation...or if I'd been on my Titus.

We rode for about 2 hours and finally got to one of the archaeological sites we were going to visit, the Maras Moray. Maras is the nearest town. The moray was an Inca experimental farm. They planted different types of plants on each terrace and experimented with water, light etc. Fascinating. In this complex there are three morays, but the one below was the most impressive. Can you see the people down in the bottom? It's a lot farther down than it looks.

Took us a while to walk down, but it was fun. Hot at the bottom too! Here I am going down the "steps" that are on all the terraces. You can't see it here, but on each terrace the stairs reverse it's like going down flights of stairs. We spent a bit of time resting at the bottom, then had to slowly work our way back up.

Walking up was exhausting, so we took a brief break back at the top. A very cute puppy was trying to sleep in my helmet, but then his mom came and took him off. There are a ton of dogs in Peru, and they're not like ours...pets. But it's not as bad as in Belize, where they were obviously in much worse health and more wild. These ones are tame..just not pampered.

After we left the Moray, we biked towards the town of Maras. Now the fun started! From here it was almost all downhill. Here's one of the hills we came down...and then did have to go up on the other side. This was the last hill up. At the top of that hill the headwind was so strong that it actually blew me backwards into a cactus patch.

After Maras we started descending into the Urubamba valley passing by the Salinas salt mines. They were pretty cool too. The descent was very hairy in spots. I didn't have to get off... but to be honest, I think there are several spots where I should have. Well, guess not 'cause I did ride them, but they were scary. I did fall once badly, but thankfully didn't land on the nearby rocks. Or off the huge drop-off on the other side! Olaf took quite the tumble, so here's Gilbert fixing his bike...again!
And while we were fixing his bike, we were passed by some donkeys. The farmer with them laughed at us. We finally made it down to Urubamba, where the bus was waiting to take us home. The wind was blowing so hard at that point it felt....I don't know, but it was super windy! This is a view back up the valley towards the salt mines.

So I had a great day, and am so glad that I did take the opportunity to go biking. I don't regret it. Once I got back to the hotel I had to pack for the trek, since we'd be leaving at the crack of dawn. We were going to leave all of our luggage at the hotel in Cusco, just take what we needed for the trek. Then it was off to bed, 'cause the next day we were going to be on our way!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Roller derby!

Friday night I went with some friends to 80's night at the Grove. It was fun...but I was a bit disappointed with the music. The first DJ was....ok, but not great. He played 80's stuff, but none of the really good ones. More the cheesy songs. Oh well, it was still fun. The second DJ was better, but his was a mix of 80's and 2000's, which again was great but not really what we'd been hoping for. Better than the last 80's night I went to where Sheila, Terra and myself had our drinks spiked by this creepy little man. Good thing the three of us left together that time! Anyway, a good time was had by all! :)

I was dog sitting again, so I spent some time with the puppies on Saturday. They're so funny. I'm really not a little dog person...but these guys have definitely grown on me.

Sat night we went to see April at her roller derby bout. Yes, Bend does have a roller derby league! If you have not been, you should go to a bout. It's a total blast and those ladies skate hard!!! Their league is called the Lava City Roller Dolls and April skates on the 12 Gauge Rage team. They were great. They "lost" by 4 point... lost is in quotes 'cause they fought like hell and skated their asses off.

My throat was so sore Sunday. From all the yelling and screaming! :) Way to go April! 12 Gauge Rage may not play in the championship bout, but April may be skating 'cause they're down a couple skaters. I'll be there with bells on. Hmm, maybe real bells this time! Cow bells for cheering. Saturday Dec 9th. I should have pics from the bout really soon...

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mt biking in the snow!

Today I took my "little brother" (through the COPY program, see my links) out for a mt bike ride. We'd been wanting to go the last couple times we hung out, but last week it was raining...and I can't remember why before that. But today was supposed to be the day! He forgot his bike in Sunriver though (I pick him up from his grandmothers here in town), so he rode his sisters bike. I was proud of him for not being scared to be seen on a "girls bike"...and it sure was a girl's bike!!!! :) Bright pink, tassles and all.

We went up to Phils and did the lower flat loop. He did really well. A couple minutes out I asked him if it started to precipitate, would it be rain or snow. He guessed rain, I guessed snow. About five minutes later it started to snow!!! :) It was great. We stopped at the chicken roundabout for pictures. By the time we got back to the car it was snowing so hard we could barely see, and we were both soaked.

It was a lot of fun though!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Peru, day 6 (Sept 14)

Today we saw Pisac, Ollantaytambo and Chinchero. Another hot day once we got started. We drove from Cuzco to Pisac, a colonial town where we stopped at the "renouned" market. That's in quotes ' be honest, all the markets start to look like each other after a while. We spent some time here shoping for gifts. Got some good deals though. We then went to the nearby Inca ruins which has the largest Inca cemetary. We had to hike along a very narrow trail, which mom really didn't like at points. It was good to get out again and really stretch our legs. Going out wasn't too hard, but coming back had a few hills and sets of stairs that were challenging.

We had lunch in Urubamba at a "tourist restaurant." There are tons of these all over! What it is, is a set lunch where you choose from several appetizers, a main course and dessert all for a set price. Or a buffet. Some places were great, others only ok. This one was...ok I guess. From there we continued on to Ollantaytambo, a very well-preserved Inca site. The town of Ollantaytambo itself was beautiful and incredibly clean. It had these amazing water canals in the middle of the streets. They were built by the Inca and are still used today!

(Jean and Anne in the market at the base of the Ollantaytambo fortress)

The fortress of Ollantaytambo is a formidable stone structure that climbs these massive terraces to the top of a peak. It was the site of the Inca's greatest victory against the Spanish during the wars of conquest. It was incredibly windy there! After having our emplanation, Wilbur left us to climb up and explore the site. Now, standing at the bottom, I really wasn't sure I was going to go up. It was very steep with a ton of steps...however, he thought it would only take us 40 minutes to go up, accross and back down. After some hemming and hawing we decided to go ahead and try it. Took us 20 minutes! :) It was great though. Beautiful views...and to be honest it made us all feel better about our upcoming trek!!!! We were all finding the altitude difficult, so the fact that we could do Ollantaytambo with such ease made us feel much better.

(Mom and I crossing Ollantaytambo)

(One of the walls facing down into the Sacred Valley and the Urubamba River)
(Me coming down some of the steps)

By the time we got back in the bus, we were all pretty tired...and shopped out. There was a market in EVERY place we stopped. We wer planning on stoping in Chinchero on our way back to visit that market, but decided to just stop there briefly. Chinchero was evidently one of the valley's majoy Inca cities, and has a collonial church that was built on top of the remains of an Inca palace. It aslo had imense agricultural terraces.

We got back to Cuzco at about 7:00 pm after a beautiful drive where we saw San Juan Mountain which is approx 5,900 meters (about 19,500 feet). We were all tired, but we knew we had the next day "off." A day to rest, shop and explore in Cuzco and get ready for our trek.

Thursday, November 09, 2006


This was the Sunriver library this morning. Snow in the ground, and I don't think you can see it, but it's snowing lightly here too. Not sure if I'm super happy...or sad! :) I love skiing, but with Peru and all, I don't know that I'll be able to afford much skiing this year. Oh well, this may be a good year to learn how to cross country. 'Course, I don't have xc skis though!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile!

Look! The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile was in Bend yesterday! :) April and I saw it when we were driving down Bond. It made us laugh. So we had to go around the block again to take this picture. Hee hee.

My class went well. I enjoy teaching, I always have. It's always a lot of work, but it's fun. It's funny...I am actually really shy (stop laughing, really, I am!) except when it comes to public speaking about something I know about. Half of my job is public speaking, which has also helped. But if I know what I'm talking about...I don't have any fear. So most people who know me, see only that. But truly...I am very shy! :)

I'm dogsitting for Lisa and Yvonne this weekend again. Hooray, more time with the puppies.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Multicultural children's literature

I'm teaching a class up at OSU (on the COCC campus) today. It's for the Masters of Education program, and it's a class on multicultural children's literature. They don't really have anyone up there who can teach it, so they'd asked the library if any of the children's librarians would consider teaching the entire course (Sept-Dec). I seriously thought about it, but with my trip, it just wasn't going to work. So instead, five of the children's librarians are each teaching one class, and the education teacher is doing the other three or four.

My class today is on fiction and folklore with a focus on Native Americans. Wow. Daunting task!!! There is so much.....bad literature featuring Native Americans...and some of them are "classics." For example Little House on the Prairie (which I never liked...Loved the TV show, but not the books), The Matchlock Gun or The Courage of Sarah Noble. I don't think these books should be used in the classroom! They're so....bad! Go back and read them if you don't believe me. Others are just bad...but with good intentions. Sometimes the writer meant well, but misrepresents so much about history and culture. Then there is The Indian in the Cupboard and My Heart is On the Ground (a Dear America book)...I do think those writers meant well...but their books just perpetuate stereotypes and My Heart is on the Ground is historically innacurate (suggesting that the boarding schools Native American children were forced into were good!!!)

It's a huge controversy, and one I'm not sure which side I'm on. Can people, not from that culture, write about it? Can whites write from a Native American perspective? Can an African-American writer write about an Asian child??? I'm not sure. I think yes, if it is well (and I mean WELL) researched...but mistakes are still made. I don't know. It's a difficult topic.

And one that has been consuming me since the conference was over! But by tonight I'll be free and clear! Hooray!!!!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Peru, day 5 (Sept 13)

This day was a little....tense in the morning. Several people on the trip were very unhappy with how the trip was shaping up. The veeeery long bus ride, feeling like they were being "lied to" about things, feeling like the hotel we were staying at was not up to par...the list goes on. They wanted to have a group meeting and get everything out on the table, and "nip the problems in the but." (or is that "bud"?) I did not take part in the meeting. I didn't feel that anything was wrong, and didn't want to spend several hours of my day talking about it! So I read, wrote in my travel diary, checked email...kept myself busy. Evidently it went ok, and everything was fine, but gotta tell ya, it did put a damper on my day.

Once all that was over, we had lunch and then took a longer hike. I think Wilbur wanted to see how we were acclimating, and see if he was going to have to change anything about the trip. We walked up to Sacsayhuaman (pronounced sexy woman). I don't seem to have any pictures of that day though! :( I know I took a ton, but I cannot find them. Oh well. Mom didn't come with us today...she was having her elevation sickness day. Not fun for her. Or us really. She also got a really bad nosebleed from the elevation and dryness. Kim, our roommate at this hotel, had been really sick the day before, but did come with us to Sacsayhuaman. She got worse that evening though. What we didn't know until we got back to North America is that she had the beginnings of high altitude edema! Ick.

Sacsayhuaman (since I don't have pics) means "satisfied falcon" and is at the head of what the Incas thought of as the puma-shaped city of Cuzco. The fortress itself is designed to look like a puma, with these jagged walls forming the teeth of the puma. It was a long hard walk up. Again, a walk that at home would have been exercise, but not like this! :) Had to stop several times to catch my breath, but all in all was feeling really good about my conditioning.

Back at home I'd been experiencing a LOT of leg pain when hiking, and issues with my asthma. I had NO leg cramps, the entire time in Peru. I did have to use my inhaler several times, but nothing like I thought I might. I was really worried about my health before I went, but it turns out I did better than most people! The rest of the group were all taking Diamox, a medication used to treat or prevent high altitude sickness. I, however, can't take it. It's a sulfa drug, so I'm allergic to it. Everyone was amazed that I was doing as well as I was without it. Not sure why I had none of the problems other did...but it was nice! :)

We also saw Puca Pucara ("red fort") which was a garrison close by, Tambo Machay (a ceremonial spring reported to extend life) and Q'Enko (a shrine, literally meaning "zigzag") which was used for divination. Lots to see this day, but it was great to get out, stretch our legs and get a little exercise. It felt like all we'd done up to this point was eat! I figured I'd be coming back from Peru with extra pounds instead of fit! :)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Peru, day 3 & 4 (Sept 11 & 12)

September 11 was completely 9/11 free. Which was really good for me. I forgot until about 1/2 way through the day, that it was 9/11. Not that the Peruvian people didn't care, but it didn't affect them like it did most North Americans.

Anyway, we spent our third day in Peru visiting the Uros islands, the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. Titicaca means grey puma (titi=puma, caca=grey). The Uros people have been living on the lake for hundreds of years on islands made from totora, or cattail-type rushes or reeds. One of the islands even pre dates the Incan civilization. As parts of the islands degrade, they're replaced. There are about 40 islands in all, with most having about 7-10 families each. The island we visited was called Kontiki (which means "god travelers"). Here we are heading out into Lake Titicaca. To the right of us was Bolivia. It was about a 1 1/2 hour ride out there. The weather started out chilly, but warmed up nicely. I could have worn one of my tanks! The sky was clear blue.

This is a really small island, but it gives you a good idea about how they look. Here they are demonstrating how they build the islands. In the above picture you can see two of the reed boats they build. They said it takes 8 men about 6 weeks to build one, and they last about a year. Pretty good. Here are some of the Uros women cooking. When we asked the men what happens if the cooking fire is tipped over, they just shrugged and said that was "their" problem, pointing to the women. Nice.They made us some traditional fried quinoa, which was fabulous! We bought some weaving and some reed boats from the families, then took a reed boat ride to another island, and then it was back to the mainland. There are a lot more pictures of the islands in my Peru gallery. It was a fascinating culture to observe. I'd been so excited about seeing the floating islands, and they were as great as I thought they'd be.

We then went back to the hotel, ate a late lunch and took a nap. We were all still acclimating to the altitude. Most people were doing ok, but there were still one or two who were not doing well. I took this opportunity (after a short nap...even me!) to go to one of the MANY internet cafes and write home. It was just nice to have that contact, and be able to share some of my experiences up to that point.

At about 4:30 we did the same walk my mom had done the day before. Now, back home I would not have even considered this walk an "outing," but at 13,000 feet or literally took my breath away! We walked up to the statue of "The Hero" that sits on a knoll above Puno. Gorgeous view of the town and lake from there. What the rest of the group did was just not quite long enough, so me, my mom and Jean walked a bit farther along. And we saw this: Sheep, on the roof. Right in the middle of a "residential section" if you can really say that of any Peruvian town! it was just a very funny sight. Not sure you can see him in the picture, but there was a sheepdog up there too.

The next day September 12, we drove from Puno to Cusco. Initially we were told it was going to be a six hour drive. Pbththth! We left Puno at about 7:40 and arrived in Cusco at 6:15-ish. You know, I'm not sure Wilbur has a really good grasp on the passage of time. I just don't think it's something important in his culture! This is our can all loaded up with our luggage.

We visited Sillustani, an Inca ruin/cemetery. The funnary towers care called chullpas. Most of them were destroyed, but one still has the side the the door still standing. I decided to crawl inside...I was the only one.

Sillustani sits right on the edge of Lake Umayo. Again, just beautiful. And hot enough for a tank top too! :)
We did cross over the "Great Divide," a4,335 meter pass where all the rivers start flowing to the Amazon. We stopped for some more shopping.

We finally arrived in Cusco, our home for the next four days. Cusco is a bigger city, over 500,000. Beautiful. Our hotel was...older, but it's location was amazing. We were about 1/2 a block from the main Cusco square