CAT | hiking
It’s been a frantic month with tons of work and travel for us. This weekend is the first time I’ve had a chance to catch y’all up. Here’s a short synopsis, because there are lots of Cynthia-captioned pics.
- Hong Kong (Apr 3 weekend) – we forgot the camera, so no pictures for you. Hong Kong was definitely the most expat friendly of any city we’ve visited. Cynthia, not normally known for shopping, was quite fond of H&M in particular. We ate Dim Sum, but actually stuck mostly to non-Chinese food (Gyros, Indian, Steak, Mexican!) because we no longer feel guilty about it on a trip.
- Beijing (Apr 10 weekend) – Cold, a bit strange. We were staying at a government hotel at the Olympic Green because it was connected to the convention center – the whole area was brand new but virtually deserted. We climbed the Great Wall, crashed the Forbidden City, tried not to arouse suspicion at Tiananmen Square (along with pervasive uniformed and plain clothes security) and saw a genuinely amazing acrobat show.
- Shanghai (Apr 15-16) – Just one night for a meeting – stayed at the Renaissance this time which superior to the Hilton
- Penghu Islands (Apr 17 weekend)- Bev and James came to visit is and we caught a flight from the local airport across the street to some of Taiwan’s southern islands, which we explored via scooter. Cynthia crashed once ( low speed) and was luckily unhurt. Bev and James also make an appearance in a lot of our other pics this month.
- Hualien (Apr 24th weekend) – went with a group to explore Taroko’s “Golden Canyon” which involved rappelling UP a small, frigid waterfall and having rocks thrown at us by monkeys. The next day we did some light whitewater rafting on the Hsiukuluan River. Richard posted some pics on Flickr, and there are more here in the monthly pics.
- On Wednesday I felt 3 separate earthquakes. Next up: Typhoon season.
I emptied a huge backlog on the camera here, including Shanghai and hiking pics
We ate at an awesome place near our house this weekend: “Stone BBQ”. There’s a big hole in the table that they fill with coals, then cover with a marble slab. Then, you char all you can eat meat, seafood and vegetables, and eat it. They also have all you can drink beer. All of this costs less than $20 a person.
All the restaurants and shops play Christmas music in the background, which seems completely out of place but has me “in the spirit”. I can’t wait to get back to the US next week, unwind and see the fam.
Usually a long weekend in the great outdoors, roughing it under the big blue yonder can return the previously forgotten joy of small comforts…like pillows or hot water… but that’s another post. Lately I’ve turned into, well…my own preschool teacher, I guess. Who dances a jig when I dial the phone and order 4 bottles of water to be delivered on Monday? Yay! You did it! Who sings a victory song when the water actually comes on Monday? High five, Super job! Who claps their hands in delight when I know it’s the water guy because he said it? Awesome! You’re doing great! I get so excited when I ask the shopkeeper what particular variety of fruit this is, and I can understand their answer! Or when I finally understand the telephone number that the radio DJ repeats 10 times per hour! Yes, I’m a full grown adult with the proficiency of a 4 year old. Only their language skills are better. 再見, 我們愛你們! See! I’m doing a happy dance right now!
The pics from Tetons and Yellowstone are up, including altitude and GPS plots.
The trip rocked overall . . . a great culmination to our summer of hiking. My worries about altitude sickness proved unfounded – as long as I took it easy it was not a factor. Also, I pooped in a bag – no different from any other time pooping in the woods. I laugh in the face of others (ahem . . . Ben, Melissa) who so feared the wag bag to the extent that they used Immodium for a non-FDA approved indication.
We drove down on Saturday with Mike and Michelle – and discovered we could tolerate six hours in the car with each other. I was blown away by the scenery of the Owens Valley, a huge part of California I had never experienced before. I’ll be pressuring Kristi and Eric for reasons to hang out in Bishop going forward. After picking up our permits and setting up camp at Whitney Portal, the group went to the Pizza Factory in Lone Pine for a great dinner. We left the next morning on the seven mile/3700ft climb to Trail Camp. I was feeling the altitude a bit and needed a nap, but was ready for dinner afterward. The temperature dropped a couple of hours before dark as the sun tucked behind the mountains, and we retreated to our tents a bit early because we really hadn’t brought the proper gear to be comfortable out in the open wind. I think it got down to about 25F or so that night, but our new tent and sleeping bags did great. The next morning I stuck with Mike and Michelle through the pleasant climb up 97 Switchbacks. The scenery was better on the other side of Trail Crest, but with the higher altitude the climb got tougher. After 4.5 miles or so, we finally reached the summit, enjoyed the view, took pictures, Mike puked, etc. The hike down was much easier than the way up. We returned to trail camp, drank some celebratory everclear, and powered through another cold night. We were up at 6:45 the next morning, reached the cars at the Portal by 11:45, and drove home.