It's high time I come out with the details of my trip (well what I know of them anyway). I leave this Saturday from Phoenix and will travel all the way to...Tel Aviv, Israel. When we get to Israel we plan to take a bus right away to Jerusalem where we will stay for a few days visiting the holy sites and touring the Dead Sea. It's hard to imagine that the places of the Bible are still around, and that I'll be seeing them. I know it's a short trip but from there it gets even better as we travel from Israel to Jordan. We plan to spend most of our time in Jordan at the ancient carved city of Petra with a side trip to the Wadi Rum desert and a visit with some Bedouins. But why visit just two countries when we could throw in a third? That's exactly what we had in mind when we added Egypt to the trip. From Aqaba, Jordan we will board a ferry and spend the last few days of our trip in Sinai and Cairo.
I can't wait to report on the real details of the trip and share some photos. It's going to be an amazing adventure and I guarantee a few great stories.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I heard something about couch surfing a long time ago but never looked into it. Working this past week at a drag racing event (yes, you read that correctly. Drag race!) however, I got to know a few people who, like myself, are going on trips soon and plan to surf along the way. I immediately became interested and looked further into it. The concept is to basically shrink the world a little and open your couch to a stranger looking to explore your city. The official mission is as follows: "CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance, and facilitate cultural understanding." Cool huh?
This is the new plan, if we have to we will stay in hostels, but if we are able to find hosts in the cities we have planned we will definitely take them up on the offer. Sure it could be a little sketchy but I'm willing to take a risk and will hopefully meet some interesting people in doing so.
Check it out for yourself. www.couchsurfing.com
Monday, February 23, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Another goal I set for 2009 is to read all the Newberry Medal winning books for children, or at least get a good start on them - it might be a shame to go through them so fast. I've read so far in the past couple months, "Island of the Blue Dolphins" (adventurous), "The Giver" (amaaazing), "Out of the Dust" (tragic), "Kira, Kira" (sad) and "Bridge to Terabithia" (inspiring), as well as a few Newberry Honors books. I love them all. What should I read next?
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars-must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation."
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
While hiking the other day a giant owl popped out from under a desert shrub. A friend tells me this is a bad omen according to some Native American groups but I think it was magic.
Monday, February 9, 2009
I camped in Cottonwood, about 25 minutes outside of Sedona, the night before the race. It was cold, I think I slept for an hour, I woke up at 1:30 with a sore throat and coyote's sniffed at our heads and ate some of our food. It didn't seem like I was off to a good start but I was optimistic and eager to get out of my tiny sleeping bag at 5:05 a.m. I ate oatmeal and a banana with peanut butter by the fire and downed more water than has fallen in Arizona since I've been here. We left camp and headed to Sedona. Still cold, even more anxious. Rain was predicted but we were happy to find it sunny and slightly breezy. The race began at 8:05, I hesitantly stripped out of my sweats and squeezed into the intimidating herd of runners at the start line and off we went. The air was noticeably thinner at the high elevation but I felt strong and quite possibly even smirked a little as I passed a few people. The smirk didn't last long. After feebly scaling the first ungodly hill (perhaps mountain better describes it) I could have sworn that I was near the halfway mark. At this point gray-haired grandmothers were passing me, steadily trotting by, making sure the smirk I wore earlier was replaced by the look of torture and defeat, and then I saw the mileage sign proudly announcing the three mile mark, 10.1 to go. I could have died. I wanted to die. I think a part of me did. But I kept running. Hill after hill I kept running and running.
Sedona is magical, it's red rocks are sweeping, deserving of the "most beautiful destination in the country" title it has proudly adopted. It's a shame I hardly cared to even glance at the scenery as I was too busy trying not to keel over. I peed at mile nine, swallowed some gel chews at 10 and tackled Big Bertha, the steepest and longest hill of them all at 10.5. The run was difficult but I eventually made it to the finish line, one step closer to completing my goal of 2009! My hips may have felt shattered and my lungs burnt up (and still do), but I made it up all those hills and it was worth it, every step.
Luckily I was able to drive the course afterward and appreciate how incredible a place I was in. I recharged with some pizza, hobbled about town for a couple hours, headed back to Cottonwood to pack up camp, then drove back to Phoenix, happy as a clam and sorer than imaginable!
I finished the run and that's all I really care about but if you must know my official time was 2 hours 25 seconds, a pace of 9:12/mile. Overall I finished 140th out of 573 participants.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Wednesday, February 4, 2009
You may recall that my fitness goal of the year includes two half marathons and one full. This Saturday I am registered and set to run the Sedona, AZ Half Marathon. I'm nervous, anxious and hopefully ready! Sedona has been called the most beautiful spot in the United States, it should be pleasant to run through and I'll let you know if the sights stand up to their title. Wish me luck.