Monday, December 31, 2007

We Must Dream with our Feet Moving

May the coming year be a joyful and courageous journey for you and your loved ones!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Traveling Solo with Wise Eyes

After much planning and anticipation, I took my
first-ever solo trip to Europe! The first leg of the trip was spent studying French for 2 weeks in a little village in Loire Valley called Sancerre. It was such an exhilirating experience. Having taken many years of French in school, I found that the language came back quickly. I got really good at telling everyone Je suis etudiante en Francaise, parlez lentement s'il vous plait' (I think it means I am a student of French, please speak slowly...)

When I wasn't in the classroom studying, I was running through vineyards to train for the upcoming Berlin marathon. I also loved walking around the village, meeting the locals and giving directions to the tourists (in French no less...)

Here are several of my new friends. Guilliame is the local Boulanger (baker). I bought the best poppy seed baguette every morning so we got to be close pals! I also took a field trip to Le Chevrerie (goat farm) where I tried my hand at milking.

Sancerre is in the middle of wine country. Even though I don't drink wine I certainly appreciate the effort and intricate process it takes to turn grapes to cabernet
season after season. My fellow students and I had a rousing night out (every night actually) to celebrate our new friendship and toast another grand bottle of Sancerre's best offerings! I ate the rice, pasta and bread since I was carbo loading for my race.

On my way to Germany I made a couple of stops. I stayed with a lovely family in the north of France for several days. I continued to practice my French though the household also spoke German and English. I was continuosly delighted by the hospitality I experienced every step of the way.
I visited grad school pal Willem, who lives in Rotterdam. We took a jaunt to Amsterdam one afternoon.

I joined the hospitality organization called SERVAS and had the pleasure of meeting Luzy. Her family lives outside of Berlin and they opened their home-in-the-woods to me. I had a relaxing few days walking Jasper, their Golden Retriever and playing duplo blocks on the floor.

The day prior to the marathon I suspended my race rule (stay off my feet, drink water and relax). I am in Berlin after all so I spent the morning sight seeing. What an interesting city this is. I looked forward to covering many of the same spots during the race tomorrow!

Berlin marathon is my 24th time running 26.2 miles. I am often astonished by that fact myself! What thrills me is having the opportunity to combine my love

of running with travel and meeting new people everywhere I go. The world becomes a much smaller and friendly place with each kilometer I run.

Next stop was Zurich. I took my tired yet ever eager marathon legs to Switzerland for the last few days of the trip. After a day of making my way around the city, my SERVAS host and I went took the train to Lucerne for an exhilarating hike in the Alps.

Breathtaking, isn't it? The view of Lake Lucerne was indescribable. Bettina is a student and speaks 4 languages in addition to English. I thought this was a grand way to end my trip!

Oh one more thing...Matt and David were also in Lucerne! The RxBandits gave a show, David traveled along to sell the band merchandise and Megan flew to Germany to support Matt and travel herself. My last night in Europe was spent listening to the Bandits play music and showing off my digital photos.... :)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Montana in July

I am certain that Montana in the summer is as close to heaven as I've seen so far. I came here to visit my best friend Janis while she spends a month on retreat in her pal Lou's cabin above White Fish Lake. We both reveled in the fresh pine scent, clean mountain air and animal creatures who call this home.

Glacier National Park defies description. Every turn of the road produced another gasp of astonishment.

Critters, sweet critters everywhere. They seems completely oblivious to all the humans walking the trails and snapping their photos. We also spotted several big horn sheep on a distant mountain top, a squirrel brother and sister chasing each other through the grassy knoll and what I think was a marmot sunning himself. Could have been a woodchuck....

Every evening we'd cool off in White Fish Lake. Gracie re-learned to swim (don't all dogs know how to swim, they forget they know??). I had a blast coaxing her off the dock to join me as I floated in my inner tube. This is TRULY the life.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Bonnaroo Here We Come!

How can I begin to describe this particular journey? Suffice to say that I wanted to go to Woodstock in the summer of 1969. That I didn't is another story, one that is waiting to be told. Mom Goes to Woodstock(38 years later) or something along those lines :)

When Matt announced that his band - the RxBandits - was slated to play the biggest music festival in the United States (does The Police and The White Stripes ring a bell yet?), I AM THERE! Imagine the scene...driving an RV big enough to house 8 of us, the Seal Beach/Long Beach Kids' contingent, Tennessee hospitality, camping with the musicians and Music 24 hours a day. That I am in the minority age-wise is irrelevant. We all had our own fun, in our own way and I even stayed up past 9PM!

Megan and I are in front of our Home-Away-From-Home. We flew to Savannah, GA and drove over 400 miles to Manchester, Tennessee. What an adventure. I learned many new highway rules thanks to the friendly Southern law enforcement gentlemen I met along the way...

We spent the morning hiking and exploring the Old Fort Archeological Site in Manchester. What an example of the wonder of nature it is.

It was a typical hot summer day so this was a relief to

find such an idyllic spot to lounge in. The girls reminded me of wood nymphs from a mythical novel.

The crowd awaits their favorite Orange County, CA band...
the RxBandits. I am the Band Mom extraordinaire, jumping out of my skin with excitement to be backstage!

We really had alot of fun. I had quite a few star sightings (Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead, Ziggy Marley and even Laura Dern with husband Ben Harper). Oh and I had lunch next to Dennis, The Police's sound technician. That is as close to Sting as I managed to get unless you count 10th row center on the field during his Saturday night show!

We did not want our fun to end. Alas, the campers went home, the musicians took off to do another show and we ate our last breakfast at the Huddle House. I guess we're the lucky ones though since music the never ends...the RxBandits practice in my garage!

RxBandits are my favorite band and so what if I am a little biased....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Maui No Ka Oi

Ah Maui. Swaying palm trees, fresh ocean breezes, the scent of plumeria wafting through the airport. My nervous system slows down a few notches at the very idea of Maui.

Janis and I have had these plans since August 2006! This is Janis’ first trip here whereas I lost count at 12. My good college friends John and Susan Guard own The Pet Shop in the Maui Mall and have played host to many of my trips here. In fact they met me at the airport and we lunched and then saw Miss Potter at the Cultural Center to pass the time waiting for Janis’ plane to arrive.

So for 5 days I actually got to play tour guide! We ventured to the south end of Maui and visited Makena Beach and Kihei, both of which have changed and grown. No trip to Maui is complete without the drive to Hana. We had perfect weather, oogled at all the breathtaking summits, stopped every chance we could for photos and snacked at Hana Beach Park. The Seven Sacred Pools (Ohe’o Gulch) was a blissful site with one waterfall pouring into another all the way to the ocean.

Our adventure to Haleakala Crater was equally fulfilling. The jacaranda trees were in full bloom on the drive up the mountain, their purple color so contrasting to the green fields surrounding them. The summit of Haleakala resembles the moon no doubt and it takes my breath away – and not only because we are 10,000 feet above sea level!

We met my dear old friends for lunch in Kula not far from their beautiful home. It was a blast to catch up and relive some of our funny past experiences too.

I took a stroll along the hotel complex beach path one morning while Janis was off exploring with her newfound plane friend from the East Coast. Here is the story that came forward from the experience.

I paused at the planter as the man in the wheelchair prepared for his snorkeling outing. He pulled himself out of the chair, legs limp, thin yet not quite lifeless. He grabbed the hand pads that would later serve as flippers of sorts.
I watched as he turned away from the ocean, readying his body to drag,
regroup all the way to the water’s edge.

I sat staring in what I hope was a non-obtrusive manner, tears flowing down my cheeks. Awe, gratitude for health and strength in my limbs and inspired by his guts.

I yearned to sit with him surfside, questions not too nosy but shoot, I just wanted to know: How did this happen to you? What is that huge scar on your back from some well-meaning doctor with knife in hand determined to mend that broken spine? Were you sad, pissed off or just plain flabbergasted? What changed that transformed a self-pitying what’s-the-use kind of day into a snorkeling adventure? Instead I probably would have started with the usual tourist-speak:Where are you from, how long are you here
for, have you tried the Hula Grill yet?

Would I be as determined as he if my legs were rendered motionless? I hoped I’d determine and persevere my way to the ocean too, under similar circumstances. So focused and strong with intention that my participation in the Ironman Triathlon might even be cause for celebration one day.

Thank you sir. As your lone chair sits under the shady macadamia nut tree, the sandy trail evident and is perfectly memorialized. You may never know how your courage touched this marathoner. The surrender of a lifetime that even a maxed out Visa card couldn’t fix. I am blessed and numbly open with thankful awe.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Big Sur 21 Miler

My intention for the Big Sur 21 Miler was to have fun, experience the beauty and majesty of the scenery and nature that this course is famous for.

I woke up at the ungodly hour of 3:50AM (anything with a 3 in it is sleepy time in my opinion…). All the race participants – marathoners, 21 mile power walkers, 10 milers alike – prepared to board the bus and take the hour long ride to the start line. The course hugs the California coast with its 2 lane highway introducing us to expansive ocean views, cliffs with neighboring flower fields and fog-filled head winds. The wind did whip and a few fog banks descended but considering that one year it hailed, I found the weather to be quite pleasant.

The Big Sur marathon is rated in the top 10 of the most scenic races in the U.S. Can we add HILLY to that description? Despite the challenging terrain, I found myself enamored with the beauty and enjoyed the camaraderie with my fellow participants. I walked the up-hills, ran the down-hills and stretched my hamstring cramp any time it talked to me J. In addition to the crashing waves and steep craggy shoreline, nature’s animal kingdom abounded. I saw a pack of llamas and herd of sheep, heard boisterous cattle, shrieking quail and neighing horses, even a very resourceful gopher made his way across Pacific Coat Highway. He needn’t have worried, I sure wasn’t running fast enough to trip over him!

Though many marathons have entertainment on the course, Big Sur matched its out-of-the-box reputation with the performers. Reggae bands crooning Bob Marley hits, high school bands up at the crack of dawn playing Hello Dolly renditions, drum corps and even a solo electric keyboardist provided musical power when our legs wanted to quit. Belly dancers were a welcome sight as was the “Hugger” giving service to all who wanted it. I think I may have cried on his shoulder, I can’t quite remember.

At the end of the famous Bixby Bridge, a concert pianist performed and greeted each runner with familiar tunes. “Linus and Lucy” of Charlie Brown Thanksgiving fame was the song I was entertained with. As I huffed passed the pianist. That song put a skip in my step (hey, it was only mile 4 or so…).

I also sang to myself which manages to propel me forward and soothe me all at once. If I can’t remember the words I just make them up. Or I’ll repeat a song over and over (“High Hopes” comes to mind). I guess I am my own little iPod.

My friends Susan and Therese and her boyfriend Randy finished the marathon as I was chowing down on Doles fruit cup and hot soup. We all were a bit blurry-eyed and weary yet so proud and inspired by the accomplishment. I especially felt encouraged with the completion of such a challenging run meant my training for Berlin marathon (Sept. 30) was do-able. I’ll brush up on my Beatles songs by then.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me

I ran La Jolla Half marathon on my 56th birthday. This course runs along Torrey Pines Park past Del Mar and into the village of La Jolla. Many people saw my birthday race shirt (Today is my 56th Birthday. Cool, huh?) and wished me a Happy Birthday which made the celebration even more special.

I took a nice long bath at my friend Cathy’s house and was later surprised by the gathering of my buddies waiting to wish me good cheer! Yummy food, great friends, blessings all around!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Trip to the Ranch

My dog Callie, a Shepherd, Lab, Cattle-dog mixture really loves our family ranch the very best. It is located in San Diego county, nearest the town of San Ysabel and Julian. Ever heard of Dudley’s bakery? They have the BEST bread ever. Anyway, my Sierra Club pals and I went to the ranch for a weekend of rest, relaxation and Mexican Train! That is an absorbing dominoes game that can take hours to finish. In between eating, taking pictures and hiking, we played. The sunsets are amazing there. Callie likes the hikes the very best. She is a true Cattle dog.