Monday, June 13, 2016

My Peak Challenge 2016: What happens when you fail

So what do you do when you fail at something? Cry? Eat junk food? Stay in bed all day? Drink copious amounts of alcohol? What do you do when you fail at something big?

If you have read this blog before then you know I participated in something called My Peak Challenge last year. I wrote about it a few times. If you don't know what it was or need a refresher, click here for the beginning and here for the end result from last year. This year was of course bigger, better, and more bad-assery. It kicked off in January and culminated for the entire month of May. There was a facebook group formed for all the participants and a two month long prep program that ran from February through the end of March that included meal prep, menu's, and an exercise program with videos and tutorials. We were to pick our challenge and had the entire month of May to complete it. And of course all the while we were raising money for cancer research. I signed up for it all. I was so excited to do it again. I got my MPC 2016 t-shirt, bought the prep program and followed it every day for the entire two months. I even found and bought a rowing machine from craig's list. All the while I was trying to decide what my May challenge would be. I decided that this year it wouldn't be a physical challenge but a professional one. I kept quiet about the whole challenge this year. No weekly blog posts about good running music or embarrassing work-out mishaps. I didn't want to blurt out what my challenge was going to be. I wanted it to be a surprise.

When I left archaeology originally, it was to pursue opening a small business. My dream was to own and operate a used bookstore and gelato shop. So I started to pursue it. I wrote a business plan, started collecting books, went to classes sponsored by the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and my local Chamber of Commerce. Learned how to make gelato from a real Italian. I put it on hold when I realized I needed money I didn't have and then my mom got sick. Well then she died, and I started My Peak Challenge 2015 last year. My sister bought me out of our house, I moved into dad's house, and I cashed out my archaeology 401k. All of a sudden, I now had money. So let's do this. Time to get this dream out of the clouds and a reality. That was going to be my May challenge. To find a building in downtown for my shop and get the necessary loans needed to get it up and running. So that's what I did. I rewrote my business plan, found the building I wanted, got my real estate agent on it, and went to a local non-profit that specializes in small businesses and their funding and the bank with my applications.

The non-profit said, "sorry, we won't fund you at this time, too high risk". The bank said the same thing. This wasn't just some normal big bank. Big banks won't even look you in the eye without coming to them with a multi-million dollar deal. I was just asking for $400,000. The bank I went to is one of the local community banks that specialize in small businesses. I tried SBA loans which are government backed and got no answers. I then asked my sister and brother-in-law to go in on it with me thinking they have collateral that I don't have and have incomes that I don't so surely the bank would like them better. Nope. The way that banks and any other financial institutions work these days are not for the common person. They work for huge conglomerates and the big money makers. They will not invest in small businesses. They just won't. They make it so hard. You have to front up to 50%, have already been in business for 3-5 years, etc. So how is someone suppose to start up, when no one will lend? You don't.

I failed. There are a ton of articles about how the current U.S. economy has killed small businesses and entrepreneurs. Google it. Read this article from Time magazine. Could I get investors? Sure, but then I have to do what they say, pay them back at their interest rate, on their terms. It wouldn't be my business, it would be theirs until I payed them off. Could I crowd fund? Sure. Could I get $300-400,000 that I need? No.

I failed. The U.S. economy failed. The only way to be an entrepreneur now is to be a 1%-er trust fund kid. And that, I am not. You have to do it outside of the traditional route. And even then you are taking a big risk. I was willing to take the risk. No one else was.

So what do you do when you fail? When your dream is dead in the water? Well, you keep getting up in the morning. You keep putting your clothes on. You keep going to that job you hate. You keep eating food. And you run. Run till you can't go any farther. You run till your tears stop flowing. You run with the music so loud you drown out the negative voice in your head telling you that you suck and you're a looser. You run. And you keep running. And get up the next day and do it all over again. Because sometimes, that's all you can do.

I did not succeed at this years My Peak Challenge. Not everyone did. Some people had to have surgeries. Others had to stop because they are on chemo treatments. Some got injured. Did these people give up because they failed to reach their peak this year? Hell no. They get up every day and go to physical therapy or to their chemo treatments. They keep going. And so will I. I will keep getting up every day. I will run because that is all I can do.

I failed. My dream of being a proud small business owner may be over, but I'm still here. And for now, I'll keep running.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

I'm still an archaeologist... sometimes

So besides my barista job at the coffee shop, I have another job. I write cultural resource reports for a friend/former co-worker/now boss who got a big-wig job. I get to write these little ditties at 3am if I choose, and clothing is not a requirement either. This all means, I work from home, remotely. Well, I actually got to do a little survey earlier this week for them. I haven't done any field work for well over a year. So when a writer of these reports or agency says a survey should be done before work can commence (hence writing the report in the first place), one of us remote writers gets to go play in the outdoors.

I got to go to Wishon Reservoir. Where's that, you say?
It's like driving to LA, only the destination is much prettier and a hell of a lot less people. Now way back in the day, I did this drive a lot. I think the last time I was in the southern sierra's was over 3 years ago when I got to play at the bottom of Shaver Lake. I've talked about the Sierra's quite a bit here on the blog. See here for one example. Well, I'm impressed I remembered how to get through Madera, and that my little putt putt made it up The Grade on Hwy 168. There are so many dead trees. So, so many. The drought and bark beetles have done a severe number on this forest. If a wildfire happens here this summer, it will be completely devastating. It will char this mountain to the core. So anyway, you drive up to Shaver Lake and then hang a right and head to Dinky Creek. I've been to Dinky Creek before, but have never actually been as far out as Wishon. The farthest I had been was Camp Fresno, and I thought as I drove past it, that from here on out will be new. What an adventure. And I saw little bits of snow still on the ground. Probably not there anymore, since we're in a heat wave. I think my ears actually screamed when they finally popped. Oh, the pressure release was amazeballs!

Well, I made it to the campground where I was going to camp. Pulled into a site I liked, and got the tent out. It took me a minute to remember how to set it up, but I got it. Man, I forgot about the bugs. I finished setting up camp, ate what constituted as my dinner at the picnic table and went straight back into my car because it was the only safe place from the Jurassic sized mosquitoes. I got bored waiting for the sun to set. So I bundled up (to keep the mosquitoes from draining me dry) and walked around a bit, but I mostly played games on the ipad.

my little campsite

if we weren't in a drought, this would all be water
So, I went to get in my tent for the night, and apparently I put it on the lovely home of the FIRE ANTS! My little tent was covered in them. Oh, hell no! So I didn't sleep in my tent. I slept in my car. It was very uncomfortable, and too hot because I couldn't roll the windows down for fear of Jurassic mosquitoes. Miserable night.

Woke up the next morning to sunshine and less mosquitoes. I ate breakfast (a crappy Starbucks frappacino thingy, applesauce, and a granola bar) and got ready to go find my survey location, a random distribution pole. Found it. Surveyed around it. Took lots of pictures of it. Was impressed that I remembered the names of the vegetation around it (trees, shrubs, and even wildflowers). I gave myself a pat on the back for that one. And I filled out my survey notes.
It was all done and over within 30 minutes. Well, shoot, now what? I'm all the way out here and it isn't even 9am. Well, I'll regret not seeing the reservoir. So I went over to the boat launch and stared at the water for a while.
Hello, Wishon
And so my little turn as archaeologist was over. But the adventure wasn't quite done yet. I got everything packed back up into my car, including the tent with FIRE ANTS, and started the drive back down the mountain. I had missed it on the way up, but drove passed this famed spot.
you have bars? no, you?
I do, if I stand on the truck.

I texted a good friend, not at this spot though, even today, my phone did not have any bars, and asked her if she wanted to have lunch. And so I turned little putt putt to Fresno. I rolled into her driveway just before noon. I got a tour of her awesome house. And spent a few hours with her and her awesome little human. Her husband, who was once upon a time, my work-husband, and in a round-about-way now I work for, had to be all responsible and go to some important work meeting thing or whatever and missed out on my presence. To bad for him. I got his wife and daughter all to myself.

I then drove the rest of the way home. Unpacked the car, including the tent with FIRE ANTS. I put the tent back up in the backyard. The hot trunk killed the FIRE ANTS (yea) and only carcasses remained (double yea). But I still needed to air out and dry the tent. I did laundry, showered, picked spinach for my sisters chickens, and uploaded my notes and pictures to the company server.

I sat around and thought, I still got this. I still know how to do this. That was fun. And oh man, did I have the best sleep in my comfy big girl bed that night!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

To My Mom Part VIII: So How Are You Doing

I've been working on this one for a while now. Little by little, it gets written. Why is this one so hard? I don't know. Perhaps it is because I am not in the mood to do this, but feel like I have to get this out. These past few months (summer) have not been hard or difficult, but they haven't been easy either. And so to answer the question in the title: I fucking bloody miss her, and I'm still pissed off that she died. That's how I'm doing.

I keep getting asked this question. How are you doing? I'm fine, I say. That is all I ever say. My answer never changes. Quit asking how I'm doing. If I want to tell you how I'm really doing, I will tell you. I won't need a prompt. I know this is a common question, even to people not mourning a death, so I get it. It's just one of those conversation starter questions in general. It gets asked two to three times a day at work at least. But when asked by people "in the know" a lot, it gets annoying. Quit it. In an effort to quell this question a bit, here is my true and honest response.

How am I doing? I got up this morning. I put clothes on. And if I worked out or had to work today, then I actually left the house as well. Congratulations! I keep getting up.  I keep moving. I get out of bed everyday. Keep moving. This song is on my running playlist on the ipod nano. First song I hear after it gets charged or the playlist starts over. I keep moving.

Working out and running has been the one thing that has helped me through this so far. Not the only thing, but the one thing that I have found, that I do, where I find joy, happiness, and motivation to keep going in life. Life goes on, and we can chose to keep going with it or stay stagnate. I was stagnate after her death. It was a shock. It all happened so fast. We were suppose to have more time. She was suppose to come home. I was stagnate and didn't do or feel or anything for two months. I think that that was okay. We all sat around and stared at walls for a bit. It's a lot to process. But then you have to pick yourself up. You can't stay in that space forever. Working on my physical body with exercise and eating better got me out of my stagnate phase. And once I started on this new direction (because there are many directions one can take), I found that I really enjoy it. I find myself smiling and doing mental high fives and fist bumps after good runs. Sometimes they aren't mental and I quickly look around to see if anyone out mowing their lawn or walking their dog just saw me fist bump my imaginary friend. Some runs aren't so fun. They're painful from burning lungs, side stitches, or the inhalation of bugs, lethargy, too hot, too muggy, or some other random ugh. At the end of those runs, I shrug them off and say to myself that I still got out the door today, and I did it anyway.

So how are you doing?

I don't want to be stagnate anymore. When you or a sibling, parent, spouse, BFF is on a cancer  journey, your own life gets put on hold. You're focused on that person. You're going to chemo appointments, and Doctor visits. You're doing things that the other person wants to do. Everything is about them. I was on hold. So after mom passed away, I didn't need to be on hold anymore. Of course it takes a bit to get going again. Putting yourself back into drive after being in neutral for so long, takes a bit of trial and error and procrastination. But I'm doing it. I said earlier that this year (2015) is all about not settling. Well, I'm keeping myself to it. I've gotten myself into a physical shape that I have never been in before, not even when I was in High School playing 3 different sports at the same time, going from one practice to the next practice to the next. And I feel pretty awesome. I have body issues, as does probably 99% of the female of our species. I have come to a point now that I am almost... almost actually happy with my body. I'm doing little things that are pushing me to get out of ruts and fixing things. Little things like finally moving my 401k from a former employer to an IRA, that I will actually control and not some crazy wack-a-doodle former co-worker/cake nazi. Little things like cutting all my hair off. Little things like joining new groups and meeting new people. Actually buying new clothes. These are big things to me. Yes, even the clothes thing. I still have/wear things I've had since high school. That was 20 years ago!

 This running thing I'm doing now is something my mom was never able to do. She struggled with weight her entire adult life. I find it ironic that when she was at her best (pre-cancer), which was 2010, she had lost 80 pounds and was really excited, I was at my worst, 30 pounds overweight and miserable. When I started running again after her death, I thought I would do it "for her" because she couldn't. But by thinking that way, I was never going to succeed. Do I run "in her honor" then? No, that's not right either. I run for me. That may be seen as selfish, but it's the truth, and it is the right framework for my continued success. Mom is gone, but I'm still here. I have to do things for me now.

this song is also on the running playlist. A bit more "happy" and something I strive for.

Here's another thing, July sucks. I'm glad it's over. Why does July suck now? Well, mom and dad's anniversary was July 1st. Mom's birthday was July 9th. About four of my parents favorite couples also have wedding anniversaries within 2 weeks of theirs. And they had trips planned with some of these favorite couples. Mom always had something big planned in July. She did this past July. It was to be another epic road trip across the country. She loved the 4th! Making dad BBQ and having people over all month long... if they were home. I think, next to Christmas, July (summer) was her favorite time of year.

It's hard. We sit around sometimes while playing cards or something and think, "she's not here to share this". We miss her not being able to experience things and events with us anymore. No more high school graduations for her grandsons. No more input, design ideas, or help with home renovation projects. Doing our kitchen without mom was hard. She would have loved it. Picking out the cabinet stain, back splash, granite counter top color, etc. We had to do that on our own, for the first time. Sis and I would stand in the middle of the kitchen in the drywall dust cloud and say, "damn, she would have loved this".

I'm not sure this really answers the "how are you doing" question. I'm still angry. I'm still sad. I'm still depressed. I'm lethargic. I'm apathetic. I'm confused. I'm also happy, energetic, glad, and optimistic sometimes. It depends on the day, the weather, TV show or movie I recently watched, book I just finished, interactions with other humans, and all sorts of other things I cannot control like the spinning of our planet through the universe. Sometimes I need to be around people. Sometimes I need to be at the ocean. Sometimes I need trees. And sometimes I need to be alone. And sometimes I just want my mom.

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

To My Mom Part VII: The (almost) Golden One

Today would have been mom and dad's 50th wedding anniversary. I didn't have to work today and wanted out of the house. Dad wanted to stay in the air conditioning. So he stayed and I went to the coast to escape the 100+ degrees and residual smoke from a 70+ acre fire south of town.

I drove south past Monterey to Garrapata Beach in Big Sur. Jack Johnson music got me there. I walked around, picked my spot in the sand and set up camp. Ate my PB&J sandwich, snapped a few pics, and got down to reading. Not an hour later, rain drops. Rain? Seriously? "It will pass", I say. Nope, going to rain harder now. I put my hood up on my sweatshirt, packed up, and went back up the cliffs to the car.

I was at a good part in the book, so kept reading in the safety of my dry car. Looked up a few chapters later and couldn't even see the ocean anymore. Marine layer was in for the day. Drove back up the coast to Imagine Dragons music, with a small pit stop in Marina to pee. Thought I got stuck in the bathroom stall in the Target, but only a frantic jiggling of the stall door and a few swear words, and I was free! Walked over the to REI store. They were having a clearance sale. Sorry but still paying $30.00+ for a t-shirt is not a clearance! Left empty handed.

Rolled back into Gilroy and it wasn't in the 100's anymore. Stopped at Goodwill and rummaged through the clothes and got 2 pairs of new to me jeans for a whopping $16 bucks. I now have 2 pairs of jeans that fit my new running legs. Woot woot.

I survived the rainy beach, and dad survived the air conditioning. All is well. Sucks that mom didn't make it to the "golden" anniversary. She had made plans. But such is life. We all survived a big milestone day today. Tomorrow will be just another day. Next week will have another big milestone day without mom. But that's another post.

Some may think that driving 50+ miles and through traffic only to spend an hour or so at a beach... in the rain a crappy day. But I don't. I find it quite funny actually. Ironic. I did escape the heat. And don't worry, I'm sure mom is still laughing at my misadventure.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The end of the Bikini 100 Challenge

If you don't know what the heck I'm about to talk about, go and read this first. Then come back. It will make more sense.

I'm an overachiever. The Peak Posse's May challenge was to challenge ourselves to 100 something. It could be fitness related like walk 100km or be able to do 100 sit-ups by months end. Or it could be something completely different. One gal did 100 random acts of kindness. I challenged myself to run 100 miles in the month. That's 31 days to run 100 miles. I broke it up into the 4 weeks in the month. Week 1 had 2 extra days, and week 4 had 1 extra day. I logged my miles by day and week and totaled up at the end of each week and put money in the jar at the end of each week. (part of the challenge is raising money for Caitriona Balfe's charity, World Child Cancer)

At the beginning I wasn't sure I would be able to pull it off. During the months of My Peak Challenge, I would run between 2-4 miles, three days a week. And those 4 mile days were hard. In order to get rest days, I would have to run 5 miles, 5 days a week. Thank god for the extra 2 days that first week. I ran 7 of the 9 days that first week, and only 2 of those days, I was able to run 5 or more miles. But because it was a longer week, I was able to exceed my weekly goals of 25 miles and ran 30.42 miles. So I had a 5 mile lead going into week 2.

Week 2 wasn't bad, but it wasn't great either. I ran 5 days and had 2 rest days, and only 1 of those days did I go over 5 miles. I did a total of 22.38 that week, which cut my lead buffer down to just under 3 miles.

I challenged myself in week 3 to run 5+ miles each day. No short runs. (I know, a challenge in a challenge. Just a glutton for punishment) I noticed two things during this week. One was that I was starting to feel the impact of running this much in my feet. My lungs and legs were fine. No soreness, but my feet were starting to ache and thought I'd better do as much as I can now while I still can, before I give out. And two, it was getting easier to go farther and farther. I would chose to turn here instead of there or continue this way instead of that way which would lengthen the route by half a mile or mile. I ran 5 days that week and each run was 5+ miles, the shortest being 5.19 and the longest being 8.07. I did 29.66 miles in week 3 which put me in a good lead going into the last week.

Week 4, the last week. I ran Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday came up and for some reason I had a hard time getting myself out the door. I only needed 6 more miles to reach my 100 goal. So I told myself I could just do two shorter runs Thursday and Friday and it would be complete, ahead of schedule even. So off I go. I got to a point where I needed to make the first turn decision which would either shorten or lengthen the route. I chose to lengthen it. I kept choosing to lengthen it. I thought, hey, let's see if I can do 10 miles... like right now. I mean, that's just 2 miles short of a half-marathon. A freaking bloody half-marathon! I can totally do this. Well... I was tired at mile 5, and stopped in my front yard and watered myself with the hose. But I kept going. I stopped again at the park at mile 7.5 for the drinking fountain. I kept going. When the time came to make that last decision of turning to lengthen, I chose to go home instead. I was tired and was running like an old frumpy woman. On the home stretch I said to myself, "you fucking did it! These last few miles are icing on the cake." Oh cake...
Sorry, in dream land for a bit there. I managed 8.84 miles. Still my longest run ever to date. I collapsed as gracefully as one can in the backyard.

I ran 102.83 miles. Boom. My heels and hip bursitis tell me that yes, I can do this, but please for the love of all that is holy and covered in chocolate, don't ever do it again. Okay. Because my dad said he would match, $103 dollars (I'm rounding up) is getting donated to World Child Cancer (this link is to the just giving page where you too can donate if you wish) on behalf of The Peak Posse and $103 dollars is going to help me get new and awesome hiking boots for trekking up and down volcanoes with Balls. If you don't know who Balls is, read this.

So I did it. It was a challenge, but it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. I thought, I'd have a hard time getting in the distance needed each day. I thought I might get sick or hurt myself in some way and not be able to finish it. Or I thought I'd just dive into a depression and just not do it. But the opposite happened. The running saved me from the dive I was on into depression. I ate lots of protein and took vitamins. I have no idea if they helped, but I knew they wouldn't hurt. I also ate my fruits and veggies. I knew I needed to keep my energy up.

I've noticed that I am leaner now. I've slimmed down. And by the time I hit mile 3, I am in the groove and just go go go, like I can just keep going forever. I do get quite parched though by mile 6. When I get home after a 6+ miler, I practically inhale my water bottle.

I bought a new hat to run in. Bought it off cafe press. It's a piece of crap. I had to restitch the patch on it, but I wanted a new hat and this is what I wanted it to say, so I fixed it and wear it.

 Even if you run on sidewalks, like I do, you must pay attention to your surroundings. No zoning out. You never know when a little yip yip will come plunging out of a bush to "chase you". And press pause on your music while waiting at a stop light. Even when you get your little flashing walking dude, wait. Make eye contact and stare those mother fuckers down! Had I not done that on one occasion I would be a blood splatter on the asphalt right now. Not one but two cars ran the red light on me.
You can stop reading now if you want, but I'm going to continue blabbing on for just a bit more. I have to share just one more thing. Some of the Posse Lassies are just starting on their health and fitness journeys and some have been discouraged by their lack of progress or success. I've been running off and on with varying success going on 5 years now. And only in this last year, starting with My Peak Challenge have I been truly successful in meeting my goals. I was never unrealistic before, but I lacked the proper motivation, I think. It takes time. I'm not the same person I was 5 years ago. I decided in January when I decided to participate in My Peak Challenge that this year was going to be all about Not Settling. Not settling for just okay. Not settling for just finishing, but to finish on fire! I'm not going to settle for not doing something or going somewhere because I don't have the money or vacation time. I'll find a way. And so, don't beat yourself up for not being able to run a mile. I couldn't even do that 5 years ago. Just starting out was torture. My entire body hurt. My lungs burned. I had an asthma attack, and I don't have asthma. When I first started, I had to walk at least half of each mile.

I will leave you with my only "fat" picture I could find from 5 years ago...
And today with $103 dollars in a jar!
and yes, that is my awesome "strong is the new skinny" tank
I did it with 3 days to spare. Next week, I'm not going to do anything. Except rest my poor feet. Then it's time to change it up again and start doing some new strength training, and if I can find a rower on craigslist or ebay, I'll give my feet some more "rest" by changing up my cardio as well.

And I think I need new running shoes too, och aye.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Trekking Volcanoes: Wright Peak of Mount Konocti

While idling after My Peak Challenge ended this past March, I was searching the internet for something to do physically. I didn't want all that work to go to waste. And I was coming down off of a high and sitting on my ass instead of working out. I needed a new goal to reach. Something to commit to that would keep me focused and working out. A few things happened. I found that climbing California's 14ers (peaks over 14,000 ft) scared the crap out of me, especially when people started mentioning ice axes and ropes. Summiting California's volcanoes (20 of them) sounded much more doable, and only one of them, Mt. Shasta, is also a 14er. And a Facebook/twitter group that I joined during My Peak Challenge decided to do a new "challenge" for May.

So, it is mid May now, and I am almost half way done with the May challenge. I'm on track! And this past Sunday I and my cohort completed our first volcano summit. Our adventure is as follows:

Balls! After mentioning on facebook my idea of climbing all of California's volcanoes, only one person said she was totally down with doing it with me. Crazy, I know, only one. I asked if she was serious, and low and behold, she was. She is fascinated by profanity and uses the word balls as a swear word. Although her favorite word at the moment is dick, I will stick to calling her Balls. Balls lives in Santa Rosa. For those of you not from California, it is north of San Francisco by about 55 miles. While researching which volcano to do first, I decided we'd best go for the closest one first. That happens to be Mount Konocti on the shore of Clear Lake in Lake County.
Red Arrow=where I live, Blue Arrow=where Balls lives, Black Arrow=Clear Lake/Mt. Konocti
Here's a quick blurb from the USGS: Clear Lake Volcanic Field is located about 90 miles north of San Francisco, California. The town of Clear Lake lies within the volcanic field as does much of the 43,000-acre fresh water lake of its namesake. The Geysers steam field, which sits at the southwest margin of the volcanic region, is host to one of the world’s most productive geothermal power plants, producing enough electricity for 850,000 homes. The heat driving the geothermal system emanates from a zone of partially molten rock (magma) deep below the greater Clear Lake volcanic system. The most prominent volcanic feature is 300,000 year-old Mount Konocti, rising about 975 m (3,200 ft) above the southwestern shore of the lake. The most recent eruptions occurred about 11,000 years ago around Mount Konocti. Although Clear Lake volcanic field has not erupted for several millennia, sporadic volcanic-type earthquakes do occur, and the numerous hot springs and volcanic gas seeps in the area point to its potential to erupt again. Monitoring in the Clear Lake region by the USGS and a collaborative effort with Calpine Corporation in the Geysers Steam Field, provides real-time tracking of earthquake activity. In addition, the USGS periodically analyzes volcanic gases and hot springs in the region.

I drove up to Balls' house Saturday night, forgot my phone, left it charging in the wall, and slept on Balls' couch. Woke up with her roommates dogs face in my face. Sunday morning we drink coffee. Coffee is important. We go to Whole Foods for snacks, and then leave for Kelseyville, where Mt. Konocti awaits us. We drive into town and turn down a road that turns to dirt. There is no signage telling you that there is a county park at the end of the road, let alone a freaking VOLCANO! Lake County is severely lacking on proper signage. This you will note is a frequent subject while Balls and I were on the trail. Balls was also somewhat shocked that I had an actual camera. Even if I hadn't forgotten my phone, it isn't a "smart" phone. So yes, I'm old school and carry an actual camera.

Look, we can take double selfies at the same time. We are awesome.
Mount Konocti is made up of five peaks (Howard Peak 4,286 ft, South Peak 4,286 ft, Buckingham Peak 3,967 ft, Clark Peak 2,880 ft, and Wright Peak 4,2999 ft). There are no trails to Clark or South peaks. Much of the area is private property. We hiked to the top of Wright Peak, which is the highest. There was a sign for the fork to Buckingham Peak, but there was absolutely no sign, post, or marker telling you that the road on the left would take you to Howard Peak. We saw it just fine from the top of Wright Peak anyway. Apparently Lake County decided having bathrooms, picnic tables, and benches everywhere was way more important than say a water spigot or proper signage telling you where the hell you are. Thank the spirits both of us printed out the crappy trail map and I had my pilfered GPS unit. Someone left it where I work and never came back to claim it. It sat in our backroom for a year. So, I'm sorry, I'm going to take it and use it. Balls was getting worried that she may not be able to make it up to the top, so we stopped at some of the many random benches for some breathers.

We finally made it to Mary Downen's cabin. Who? And why did she build a homestead on the side of a volcano? Well, once again, the signage wasn't great here. Apparently in 1903, a year after her husband died, her son-in-law Euvelle Howard (as in Howard Peak) took her up Mount Konocti on horseback and she fell in love... with the mountain. She staked a claim and paid a whooping $600. A cabin was built and she began homesteading... alone. There is no streams on the mountain and eventually she had a cistern built and her son-in-law Euvelle planted her orchard. Apparently her son-in-law moved up there. Balls and I debated why her daughter didn't move with him and talked endlessly about them most likely having an affair, but that kind of wigged us out. Ew. Euvelle is apparently buried near the homestead. The crappy signs say he is buried 500 ft from the cabin with a large "obvious" boulder with his name and dates carved in it. They even provide waypoints. But there is no path. So we plug in the waypoints into my pilfered gps and off I go uphill, off trail, looking for the "obvious" boulder. I never found him. Why the hell tell people he's up here and all and then not provide a way to actually get to him?? I don't get it. And why is he buried here and not Mary? What ever happened to her? We have no idea. We had to look her up on the internet during dinner. Found where she is buried. She's in Lakeport and shares her husbands marker. So she was buried on top of him, or next to him. I don't know. There is hardly anything about Mary on the internet. It's all the same little bit on every site we could find. She seemed like a very interesting person. Who decides to homestead on a volcano as a widower in her 50's in 1903? She sounds awesome. I want to know what happened to her. How long was she on the mountain? Where's her privy? How did she die? There is nothing! Now, there is obviously some archaeological records out there on her homestead. They fenced off her cabin and dump and there are pin flags everywhere. So those of you who still have access to CHRIS can maybe help a girl out?? Yes?
Mary Downen's Orchard
Anyway, we walked through Mary's orchard debating what kind of trees they are. Again, no signage saying anything about that. I said fruits, Balls said nuts. Of course she did. I think we were both right. We got eaten by mosquitoes, so dicided to get back up on the trail to our summit... after a pit stop at a random bathroom and picnic table.

We made it to the summit of Wright Peak! Great views. Top of the world... or Lake County anyway. While I was taking this pic of Balls, she took this one.

There is a fire lookout and cell tower on the top. The fire lookout was closed in 2005, technology and all that made it useless to stick a person up there 24/7 during fire season. There are some interesting stories about this mountain/volcano but I will spare you. I will say that I'm impressed that the Pomo name for the mountain remains. As with most of the history of white settlers, army, and Indians, things did not go well for the Pomo and Wapo that call this area home.

Clear Lake from Wright Peak
View of Howard Peak from Wright Peak
Balls' best Capt. Morgan pose

Our summit selfie

Our experience of Mt. Konocti has only wetted our appetite for more volcanoes, despite us being in Lake County and their lack of trail signage. We realized that both of us have forgotten much of our botany skills and need to brush up on them, not that we had any to begin with. And we need to do more pre-field research and learning before our next volcanic adventure. So 1 down, 19 to go.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Next Fitness Challenge, lord help me

As you can see by the picture on the left, I've decided to do a new "challenge". During the #MyPeakChallenge I did starting in January and culminating on March 14-15, I joined a Facebook group called The Peak Posse. It's a group of mostly women who did My Peak Challenge where we give support, offer advice, and tell each other our horror stories about getting healthy and fit, etc. The group also fundraises for the actors in Outlander (tv show) chosen charities. My Peak Challenge raised money for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research which was Sam Heughan's chosen charity. The Peak Posse has decided to continue on and do a new challenge for Caitriona Balfe's chosen charity which is World Child Cancer.

The new challenge starts May 1, and lasts just this month. The 100 part can be anything you want. Write 100 letters, walk 100 miles, be able to do 100 push-ups by the end of the month, etc. Here's the scoop from The Peak Posse: Hope you don't mind me posting it here.

Dear Peak Posse Lassies,
In request to a new "challenge" we have come up with "Cait's Bikini 100 Challenge to Knock Out Childhood Cancer". (I know a mouthful right?) So for short lets just tag it as the "Bikini 100 Challenge".

As the title suggests, this challenge will help the lovely Caitriona's charity as WE prepare for bikini season. Just as we did with My Peak Challenge, each person will set their own individual challenge and their own donation rate.
The challenge will start May 1 and end on May 31st. That's right lassies, you have 30 days to complete your challenge.
Now you ask, "Why the 100?" Right?
Well YOU will chose what 100 physical or mental challenge you want to complete. For example, I want to walk 100 miles in May, or complete 100 sit-ups or squats in May, or knit 100 items for charity. Are you still with me here? GOOD!

Now for each #1 of the #100 you complete you will make your donation into Cait's jar. So if I'm going to donate $1 for every mile I walked, then I would place that amount in Cait's jar as I complete it (you can donate whatever you are able to do. More or less is fine).
Now what the heck is Cait's jar you're thinking! Am I right ? Haha Each person should take a jar or box or whatever you have and decorate it for the challenge. We will include a way for you to print off a pic of our bikini logo and ask that if you feel moved to, please change your profile pic or avi on twitter to the logo...

...On June 1 we will all donate our funds...
One more thing we are asking you to use the hashtag ‪#‎PPBikiniChallenge‬ on twitter.
I hope this is relatively simple to understand. We wanted to make it a short challenge that would be fun and would support Caitriona's wonderful charity as well.
Good Luck You Lovely Lassies! You know we are all here for support so post away on the goal you set and your progress.

I've chosen to run 100 miles the month of May. That's 31 days, 100 miles. I'm scared I won't be able to do it, but that's the point of a challenge isn't it? Since My Peak Challenge ended, I've had a hard time keeping up with the exercising. I've been kind of lost, with no goals to achieve, etc. The Posse Sisters want those of us doing the challenge to have a jar and decorate it however we like to put the money we raise in. So since I am running 100 miles, every mile = $1.00 in the jar. At the end, I plan on donating half to World Child Cancer and the other half goes to my funds for new hiking boots. I can't remember how I killed my last pair of boots. Back when I was still an archaeologist full-time, I went through a pair a boots a year. They are expensive. And I will need a good pair of boots for my upcoming adventures that I haven't told you all about yet... but I will, soon, I promise.

So, wish me luck, or have me committed to the looney bin, which ever works best. This will certainly be a challenge.

Almost forgot, I stopped weighing myself last year. I honestly don't know how much I weight. I came to terms and accepted that the amount I weigh is not important. How I feel and look is. So during the My Peak Challenge I exercised my ass off. And I started noticing muscle and such. Anyway, the other night, a regular customer came in where I work and commented that he noticed I had lost weight, and he wanted to commend me. I was shocked that anyone even noticed anything. The changes I saw in myself were, I thought, small. He made my night. I have shrunk a size in jeans I think, since I now need a belt. So woo hoo. Off to go run my ass off some more!