30 September 2014

bucket list

somewhere, once upon a time, i wrote a post about things i wanted to do before i was thirty.  unfortunately, i think that list was written during my freshman year of college, on a xanga blog that i kept.  during my sophomore year, i ditched xanga, having decided i was too cool or something, and that post has gone the way of cyber-space trash... which is to say, into nothingness, or into something. 

so i thought - after the things i managed to tick off this month - to rewrite my bucket list.  i'm sure it's changed since ten years ago (yes, ten years.  i've come to terms with it) but some things are still the same.  some are stupid, trivial.  others are big, crazy things.  some have to do with travel.  some have to do with life.  with love.  friends.  family.

travel the world - set foot on every continent, including antarctica
  backpack through new zealand
  visit the congo
  visit kenya
  drive the coast of south africa
  live in a foreign country
  spend christmas on a beach
  travel the silk road
  do the mongol rally
run a marathon
hike the pct
hike the west highland way
see a shooting star
see stonehenge
see skara brae
scuba dive
hike a mountain
get a masters degree
read the classics
read all of shakespeare
write my own book AND publish it
fall head over heels in love, irrevocably in love
get married
have kids
have a "notebook" inspired kiss in the rain
own my own business
learn to make macarons
learn to play the guitar, at least one song
learn italian fluently
spend a week on a sailboat
design my own house
renovate an old house, and live in it
live in new york city, if only for a year
work on a vineyard
be able to converse in spanish, turkish and german
hike the great wall of china
walk among the great pyramids
visit machu picchu
ride an elephant
do yoga in india
see a kangaroo in the wild
dance in the moonlight
rekindle old friendships
have a pen pal
live long enough to see my children get married
know my grandchildren
be able to tell my grandchildren stories of my life
grow old with the person that i love

countries that are on my "must-see" list
new zealand
south africa
the congo

related posts:
isla san francisco

28 September 2014

for you

"we lead strange lives, chasing our dreams around from place to place"

"i see, ... it seems a very big decision to me, deciding whether or not to run away and join the circus.  perhaps he did not have enough time to properly consider it."

20 September 2014

to all my traveling friends

you know who you are.  and i am so LUCKY to have you.

we met in a bar.  in a hostel.  on the train.  in a plane.  in the airport.  through a friend of a friend of a friend.  on the trail.  we went to school together.  we lived, briefly, in the same place.  we studied in the same place.  or nearby.  or maybe we work together.  or did. 

we had three magical days in some random city somewhere.  we drank wine.  we painted the town red.  multiple nights in a row.  we took shots with old scottish men.  we let old scottish men buy us drinks.  we took advice on what to do from everybody.  we crawled up mountains together.  slid down gravel trails after getting led in the wrong direction.  got soaked to the bone and dried out in front of a fire.  tasted whisky.  danced the night away to house music.  ran through the streets of paris to catch the last bus.  the last train.  road tripped.  found a cache of porcelain plates and smashed them on the rocks.  took shadow pictures.  laughed.  cried.  crowded four in a bed to watch a movie.  laid on the beach.  soaked up the spanish sun and got burnt doing it.  the turkish sun. the italian sun.  the mexican sun and the costa rican sun.  we ran through the rain in glasgow.  in edinburgh.  in london.  we took the tube.  we took the clockwork orange.  we subcrawled.  we had graffiti parties.  you drew on my shirt.  a house.  with red striped socks poking out from under it.  you jokingly called me dorothy.  you asked me if i had a dog named toto.  everyone does.  i laughed.  you laughed.  we posed with stuffed nessies.  we went out on the loch in hopes of catching a glimpse of the real nessie.  we took the train to the end of the tracks and kept walking.  slogged through the highlands.  gaped at the fairy chimneys.  at the cathedrals.  at the mosques.  climbed to new heights.  saw rome from the top of st peters and from the bottom of the mausoleum.  at three am.  saw barcelona from the top of sagrada familia.  from the beach.  walked the banks of the river.  walked across the swinging bridges in cinque terre.

let people take our picture.  multiple ones.  because with the advent of digital cameras, we could finally see if it was the "right" picture.  and soon, if it was the right profile picture.  we added each other on facebook.  tagged each other in pub crawl pictures.  labeled it "best night ever."  we had so many of those.  we made t-shirts.  with nicknames.  joked about "same ship, different day."  we never made those.  we still have time. 

rode horses down the beach.  crowded into a bar as fireworks shot through the streets of valencia.  slept til two pm and did it again.  copious amounts of coffee.  strange foods.  warm beer.  cold beer.  weak drinks.  strong drinks.  cute guys.  ugly guys.  we explored foreign cities.  wandered through the streets.  got lost.  kept walking.  took pictures.  took selfies.  camped.  in the rain.  drank homemade wine.  in italy.  laughed at "nice jugs."  we found cafes in alleyways.  some of the best places we've ever eaten.  we invited others to join us.  made new friends.  slept with new guys.  watched them walk off with someone else.  cried into each others shoulders.  found new ones.  let them kiss us.  let them walk away.  promises of another night.

we pushed our limits.  thought we'd never make it.  wondered what it's like to have a "real" job.  tried so hard not to be a "tourist."  we thought "tourist" was a bad thing.  we tried it.  group tours.  organised trips.  organised pub crawls.  let someone else do the work.  it's not so bad.  but we'd rather do it on our own.  we jumped off cliffs.  swam in crystal clear waters.  drank beers on the beach.  in the sunset.  margaritas.  saw the panama canal.  eight times.  wore jeans in hot weather to avoid the stares.  they stare anyway.  tried to speak french.  spanish.  turkish.  german.  italian.  they'll speak english back anyway.  farmers markets.  craft fairs.  you bought me a bracelet.  i gave you a kiss.  we've seen olympic stadiums.  slums.  homeless people.  rich kids.  ridden in limos.  in the back of trucks.  buses.  trains.  slept in airports.  slept on trains.  more accurately, didn't sleep.  watched our stuff.  waited on check-in times.  dealt with ryanair.  easyjet.  splurged on food.  watched parades.  joined parades.  held hands.  linked arms.  danced down the street.  twirled around light poles.

we jumped into frigid waters.  just to say we'd done it.  did it again.  and again.  watched killer whales at sunset.  watched humpbacks at sunset.  snorkeled with sea lions.  seen breaching whales 30 feet away.  or less.  monkeys in the trees.  crocodiles circling, waiting for one of us to fall in.  soccer games in the sand.  volleyballs in the sand.  sea turtles.  reef sharks.  coral reefs.  more margaritas. 

we have pictures.  and prior to facebook, we had emails.  phone numbers.  promises to meet in another time, in another place.  i still have those pictures.  they're so old, some of them.  but when i come across them, they remind me of you.  of the time we shared, whether that time was an hour, a day, a week, or more.

like i said above, i am so LUCKY to have you.  to have met you.  to have known you, if only for a brief minute of my life.  maybe you're still in it.  somehow.  maybe we live in the same city.  maybe we grab a drink when i'm in town.  maybe we see each other every few years.  every five years.  every ten years.  we laugh about the old days.  we laugh that we're too young to call them "the old days."  are we?  it's been ten years. 

but maybe we don't.  we wish each other happy birthday, "like" wedding pictures.  baby pictures.  travel pictures.  but as the years go on, they're more the former.  because we've grown up and we've moved on.  i still think of you.  certain songs remind me of you.  and sometimes, when i'm somewhere, i see a person on the street that - for a second - looks like you.  and i am thrown - catapulted - backwards in time.  i see your smile, hear your laugh.  i feel your arm across my shoulders as we weave down the street.  feel your hair brush my cheek as we dance in the lamplight.  feel you bump my hip as you - joking i hoped - tried to push me into a snowbank.  feel your hand in mine.  your arm around my waist.  for a minute, it's you.

and then, you're gone.  you're a mirage in this beautiful world. 

i can't imagine the person i would be without you.  without having met you.  without the shared experiences that we've made.  we took the minute and we ran with it.  we took one giant leap of faith in meeting.  in saying that one fatal word: hi.  in becoming - for maybe just the briefest of seconds - friends.  you have made me a better person.

whenever i want to sigh at the person in front of me in line, the person who cut in front of me, who walks slowly down the entire sidewalk.  i slow down, and i think of you.  i think of what you would say, how you would make me laugh.

names are flowing through my mind as i write this, and there is no way i can ever write them all down.  because they are names for an eternity.  for my eternity.  whenever i hear your name - your first name, so it might not even be you - i will think of YOU.  of our moments.  and maybe i didn't know your name.  maybe we were two people sharing a smile on the train.  you helped me grab my bag.  and then you were gone.  but i paid it forward, and i helped someone else.  you had an impact.  and when i see someone wearing that shirt from that band, like the one you had on with your just-perfect-fit jeans and your scruffy beard, you'll be the face in my mind.  and just like that... i'm back in time.  to your smile.  your laugh.  that one knee-slapping joke you told at that one bar in that one city. 

so - to all of my friends, my traveling ones, from every corner of this mad, mad world, thank you for making me a better human.  thank you for the memories.  thank you for being you.  for letting me be me.  with you. 

19 September 2014

paragliding queenstown

so, first i conquered by height fears by hiking solo up a steep, snow-covered mountain side, and then the next day, i jumped off a mountain, praying that a) my tandem instructor knew what he was doing and b) the paraglide would catch the wind.  i wasn't allowed to use my own gopro, but i did get pictures from his.  here they are.  and before you ask why my left leg was out in every single shot --- i have no idea.

{slighty excited at the prospect of jumping}

{me with my jumper, thomas}

{and we're off!}

18 September 2014

hiking ben lomond

two days ago, i hiked my first ever mountain.  sure, i've hiked some mountains, some hills.  but this was a 1400m high mountain.  legit mountain.  i was stoked.

i started around 10:30 am, from queenstown, and took the tiki trail up with a girl from the hostel.  i think she might have originally been totally into doing the whole hike, but she backed out at the top of the tiki trail, which stopped at the skyline/gondola/paragliding centre.  the tiki was brutal.  i'm talking a 600m practically vertical with few stops.  brutal.  the view from the skyline was pretty sweet, but i knew that i would be getting better views as i went up.  i just didn't know HOW COOL. 

let me start out by saying that i was pretty sure i wanted to do it, but i was also half convincing myself that i could back out at any time - no big deal - if i felt unsafe.  so, leaving k at the paragliding centre, i headed up the skyline track to the ben lomond track.  my first views were on this immense mountain to my left, and a gentler snow-covered slope to my right.  i wasn't sure which slope it was, but based on my time references, i assumed it was the one to my right, which admittedly sort of freaked me out, because it was seriously snow covered. 

along i went, stopping every ten feet or so to catch my breath.  final consensus? either kiwis are crazy fit, or i am totally UNFIT.  because i was damn near out of breath.  i took a ten minute break at the start of the saddle, which would lead me along up to the ridge walk to the summit.  i could see the airport, and frankton, and some of the lake.  i wrapped up my trash and kept on.  about twenty minutes later, i ran into some girls coming down the mountain.  they were in snow pants and hiking shoes.  i was in leggings and hiking shoes.  i asked them where they had come from, and they pointed up to the left, where the craggy summit was shrouded in mist.  there, they said happily.  okay, i said, and we exchanged pleasantries and off they went.  they told me they had been the first to the top, and that there were two boys up there also.  they had trailblazed, so all i had to do was follow their footsteps through the snow, which was over a foot deep in places. 

about twenty-thirty minutes later, i came upon the sign that labeled the summit path.  off to the right, 1 hour.  i looked at the summit, back at the sign, and figured, well, why the hell not.. i'm already here. 

the trail was wet, muddy, rocky, and it was more ridge than trail.  soon enough, i saw two figures slipping and sliding down the trail.  we stopped and chatted briefly, but i was less than an hour from the summit and had about an hour left on my timer (i set an alarm so i knew what my absolute latest time i could turn around would be) so i wanted to move along.  off i went, striding quickly, stopping to take panos every so often.  and then i hit the rocks.  i'm not talking small things i needed to step over, i'm talking rocks that i crawled over so that i didn't fall thirty feet.  up and up, i couldn't even see a trail, just rocks.  just a vertical summit above my head that i knew i needed to get to, since i was already practically there.  i came to a spot where i could sit, and sit i did.  perched on a slanted rock, looking down at the ridge and the saddle, the lake in the distance, and the town, tinier than i'd seen it.  to my left, the southern alp range.  i was well above the snow line, and i was well on par with any of the other mountains.  1400 meters ain't short, people.  i sighed, looked behind me at the final slog, and stood up, careful not to jostle any of the rocks, for my fear of avalanche was, well, there.  one foot in front of the other.  one hand steadying myself on the snow-covered gorse that lined the path.  i could see only the footsteps of the 4 people that had gone ahead of me.  thirty, forty feet up, i hit icicles and fresh powder.  the trail wended around to the left as it approached the summit and the views of the lake and the mountains were beyond stunning.  these pictures don't do it justice.

i reveled in the mist that surrounded me and looked across at the sun glinting off of the mountains, and then i took a deep breath and turned around, heading back down.  the path down, once i got through the snow and the rocky bits, was muddy and slippery.  i could see now why the two boys had been sliding down, because there were definite points where i balanced on my hand and let my legs slide a few feet down.  just past the lower summit, i ran into two more people heading up.  they asked how it was, i said it was good, and i kept moving.  i wanted to be back in town by 5 or 6 at the latest, and i wasn't sure if i'd want to stop at any point.  in the end, i just kind of booked it back. my legs hurt, and the downhill put a lot of stress on my knee, which was painful. 

anyway, here are the pictures!

16 September 2014

some alaska panos

{gustavus dock}

{low tide at lake eva during the super moon}

{south sawyer glacier}

{inain islands}

{all forms of alaskan weather in one shot}

{sunset cruising}

{south sawyer glacier}

oz and nz

hello friends!  it's been AGES since i've posted and i know that.  i'm slowly working on a long post about my summer in southeast, but right now, the more pressing exciting news is that i am currently in new zealand!  yup -- and until this morning, i was in australia!  melbourne to be exact. 

i've waited my whole life to go to australia.  i'm not sure why it took me until NOW to do it, since i am an old lady, but i finally made it.  i didn't do a lot - i have a good friend in melbourne, so i went specifically to see her and hang out/catch up - but i packed a LOT into three days.  markets, wine tasting, sunny sunny days, boating along the yarra, afternoon drinks with a million people, and one seriously stinkin' cute pup.  it was a great weekend.  and then i wandered several kilometers down the beach on monday, taking in the sights of st kilda.  so amazing. 

my flight from melbourne to queenstown took me RIGHT OVER the southern alps.  the snow-covered (it's still winterish) peaks came through the clouds and the sun glinted off the bright white powder.  then we banked over milford sound and through the fjords of fjordland (ish) and into queenstown.  i got settled into my hostel and did a yoga class (longest shivasana of my LIFE) before grabbing dinner and wandering through town for a bit.  it's chilly here - yep, totally still winter - and misty, so i didn't want to be out for too long... but i wanted to pick up groceries.  the perks of hostel life. 

and now... i am going to go get ready for my day long hike tomorrow - the summit and moonlight track of ben lomond.  pictures WILL get posted -- swear it.