Friday, August 28, 2009

On the Road Again

Side Mirror

I hate commuting... but I do love driving.

On the Road Again

I didn't realize just how much I would miss the exploration and the freedom, until I was without a car for the last couple years.

It feels so luxurious using all that gasoline to do whatever I feel like doing, just me.

On the Road Again

Middle class, non-urban living Americans are so lucky! I hope you have a great weekend driving wherever you go!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Yellowstone Experience

The Yellowstone Experience

I took Sunday and Monday off to visit Carrie in Yellowstone. She had ridden her motorcycle from Whidbey Island. We had a great time, but didn't make it into the backcountry much since it was such a short amount of time.

The Yellowstone Experience

That meant we saw plenty of buffalo.

The Yellowstone Experience

Plenty of Old Faithful.

The Yellowstone Experience

And plenty of traffic.

I know Yellowstone is fantastic... if you can make it there for more than two days!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Time Difference

Bare Moon

It's amazing how the same thing can look so different depending on how much time you give it.

Moon

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Women Build II

About 50 women came to build last Saturday!

Women Build

First Morning Shift

Women Build

Cutting Siding

Women Build

For some reason, traffic slows on Women Build days.

Women Build

Some came to learn, some came to teach, all came to give and all had a great time!

Women Build

It went fantastic as always.

Women Build

Monday, August 24, 2009

Marcos Moreno

Acadamia de Atletismo

The story of Marcos Moreno as told by Academia de Atletismo head trainer, Roberto Delgadillo.

He was born in Nicaragua in the state of Rivas.

Marcos is only nine years old, but at this early age he is sure of what he wants when he grows up. He says he wants to be a good runner because that would allow him to travel to other countries and meet different people and see different places.

Marcos is a very smart boy. His mother, Ana Carolina, is a single mother and the only person he has to rely on. And the one who knows very well how much he loved running since he was four years old. “Running for him is like an obsession” she said.

As many thousands of children in Nicaragua, Marcos' worst enemy and biggest obstacle to success is the poverty in which he and his family live. Both mom and son together live in a very precarious situation, but this has not taken away their hope for better days ahead.

They have learned to see each day as a challenge to be conquered and also have learned to live with what they receive.

For this reason he believes he will do well in his training sessions. His goal is to become an excellent athlete, for life itself has taught him to be strong.

Marcos does not complain about life instead he is thankful to God for the mother he has been blessed with since she has always been there for him, loving him, supporting him in every way including providing for their daily needs.

She encourages him to go to school. It is very difficult for her to afford uniforms, running shoes and vitamins for Marcos to continue being a part of a track team.

In spite of the circumstances she has allowed Marcos to attend to the afternoon training sessions and when she has time she comes to the stadium to support her son.

Marcos y Mama - Acadamia de Atletismo

Marcos' mother works 12 hour shifts in a factory sewing clothing to be exported to countries like the US. She makes approximately $120 per month and supports her son, herself and helps her mother on that salary.

For more information on the Academia de Atletismo please click here.

Friday, August 21, 2009

For Your Weekend

Hint of Rainbow

A little bit of rainbow for your weekend.

It's on the road to Ucross. Aren't Wyoming town names great!


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Way We Used To

View from Peggy Lake

I love camping. I love getting up in the mountains, having everything I need on my back. Feeling part of something so beautiful, so permanent and still so temporary.

But, I also love my new double wall, 30 ounce Big Agnes tent, my 10 ounce Sierra Design rain jacket, my 3 ounce MSR Pocket Rocket stove, and my thermarest.

In other words, I like being spoiled while I'm in the middle of nowhere. Maybe not spoiled in the 'in-hotel spa' sort of way, but spoiled in the 'dry and warm or at least will dry out quickly' sort of way.

That may also help explain why I have 3 tents, 3 backpacks, 3 systems of water purification, 4 rain jackets (oh, no, I think that's because I lived in Seattle).

With a multitude of outdoors sports stores and even more brands of equipment to choose from we are truly spoiled in a way never before known.

Here in Wyoming, we're a little closer to those days before gortex, some of the most authoritative writing on the wilderness here hasn't changed in a very long time. So one of the most helpful books for unofficial trails is the Field Book: The Bighorn Range.

Originally copyrighted in 1960, the version I have is from 1977. Some things haven't changed, like their advice on how to get where you want in the Bighorns. But others, well, take a look at the camping list.

Camping List

On the left side you'll see evidence of life before the internet (you have to write people to get information on actual paper!) and on the right side, surprisingly optional equipment includes maps (well, I suppose if you don't have GoogleEarth!).

It makes me want to hug my synthetic fabrics (comfortable, quick drying AND light).

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Whole Lot More

A Hundred Suns

When you depend on volunteers like we do, one little delay can cause a whole lot more.

Last Saturday we were supposed to finish half of the roof of the duplex, but instead it rained, and rained and rained. Not hard, just enough to make the ground really muddy, the wood all soggy and the roof slightly dangerous.

So no big deal, right? Just one day, right?

Actually, I'm not sure when I'm going to be able to get a roof crew again. The soonest would be this Saturday (and that would be in Awesomeworld where everything goes right).

And that means the windows and doors can't go in this week, and the siding can't go on next Saturday. Which means we actually have too many volunteers next Saturday and we'll need to bump some of them to another weekend (but not the following weekend because they're already busy that day).

And meanwhile I have a duplex with less than half a roof, no doors, no windows and no siding.

Sigh.

It'll get done, I'm just not quite sure how yet.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Most Important

Water Erosion
Water makes an impression over the years in South Africa.

Life has been very full, I'm trying to accomplish a fair amount in a short time. Want to help?

Of course it's easy! Have I ever asked you to do something difficult? Ok, don't answer that.

I'm writing an essay for one of my grad school applications.

What is most important to you and why.

So.... what is most important to you? (and why if you feel like it)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Stress

night panorama
Night setting on the Bighorns


I don't think this is the first time I've admitted it, but sometimes I have a few perfectionistic tendencies. Spelling or using words that are officially English is not one of those tendencies.

These tendencies sometimes cause me a little stress, a little constant stream of stress.

For example, right now, I have 15 volunteers coming on Friday to help out, but no one to lead them. If I weren't a perfectionist, I'd say, great! Let's see what we can do! But instead I say, holy crap! How in the world am I going to give these volunteers a great experience so that they'll want to be volunteers in the future, donors and potential board members all while accomplishing as much as possible on the houses?!

Sigh.

I've been indulging my Type A self because it is good at getting a lot done (building four houses with volunteers, studying for the GMAT and applying to grad schools all at the same time). But it isn't good at maintaining sanity.

But I tell myself two things.

First, this teeth grinding, too much happening too fast stress is way better than that stomach churning, nothing is happening and I can't get it moving without offending the people I need to move stress.

Second, I can sleep in January. Things will be slower in January... I hope!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Academia de Atletismo

Looking for another way to help poor Nicaraguan children? I know you can never get enough of it!

Academia de Atletismo
This is the afternoon session (kids go to school in the morning or in the afternoon and so Roberto holds training sessions twice a day). Not smiling is still the status quo for most photos here.

The Academia de Atletismo is a running club recently started for impoverished children in Rivas, Nicaragua. It teaches the techniques of running as well as the values that go along with it: discipline, work ethic, health, nutrition, self respect and many others.

The founder and lead trainer, Roberto Delgadillo (yep, the friend who helped me through two years at the orphanage), was able to graduate from college because of his running scholarship and now volunteers hours every weekday planning activities and training children from his and surrounding neighborhoods.

They are able to use the local track (along with all other sports teams at the same time) and are looking to cover only the most basic costs. Shoes are more important than starting blocks at this point.

Operational costs for one year are estimated to be the following for 15 children:


Total
Per Unit

Register the club with NAF $ 25

Running shoes $ 750 $ 25 pair
Spikes for synthetic tracks
$ 450 $ 30 pair
Travel Expenses on a public minibus $1,200 $ 120 trip
Athlete registration
$ 225 $ 1.50 child
Competition uniforms (shorts and shirt) $ 210 $ 14 child
Nutrition, doctor visit, vitamins every three
months and anti-parasitic every 6 months
$ 400 $ 6.67 child
Food during competitions $ 900 $ 2 meal

Currently the organization is 100% local volunteer run which is nearly unheard of there. We do eventually hope, however, to add equipment, trainer continuing education and staff compensation at a later date.

If you would like to contribute to meeting the financial needs of this program, please click on the donate button located at the upper right corner of the blog.

Additional important information if you wish to donate -

1. Paypal receives your donation, takes approximately 2.9% (if paying by plastic) and sends the rest to me.

2. I receive the money and send it in a check to Roberto. The bank in Nicaragua charges him $20 to cash a check (it is by far the least expensive method we've found). So I send checks no more frequently than once a month.

3. The Academia de Atletismo is not a certified non-profit in Nicaragua and it may never be (educational programs are not necessarily non-profits there). It is not a registered non-profit here in the US either. Therefore your donations are not tax deductible at this time.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Morning Entertainment

One morning in the Bighorns I got up early to take advantage of the good light for photos. I spotted some animals in a grove about 100 yards away.

I stood as still as I could thinking back to those articles in 'Bugle' (it's an elk hunting magazine Dave sometimes leaves on the table and I read at breakfast instead of the cereal box).

I felt a little uneasy because I'm certainly not accustomed to being in the wild with elk, but I didn't see any antlers, so I figured they wouldn't be too territorial.

Warning about the following video - it is six minutes of elk feeding, making faces at each other and eventually running away. While it was an incredible special moment, this footage is only for the easily entertained.

video

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Little Jaunt in the Mountains

The trip didn't go exactly to plan... really, what does these days.

Nine days turned into four when my hiking partner hurt his back. And four days turned into three when reality set in.

In the end, it was a wonderful trip. I'm so glad I got to spend some time up in the mountains after keeping my nose dutifully in study books for the last few months (and before it gets stuck back there again).

Bright and Shiny Beginning

Matt and Mandy are first time backpackers (and friends) who had planned a trip for the same time as mine. So I just tagged along with them.

Their plan was to climb Blacktooth. Mandy laughs pretty hard at this idea now.

While it doesn't necessarily take technical climbing skills, there are plenty of mountain men in these parts who've never made it up there because of the necessary congruence of weather, season and time for a successful summit.

I never had the heart to tell them they definitely wouldn't make it, I love people who dream big. And besides, miracles do happen. Just not on this trip!

I went along for the ride. While I was sure we weren't going to summit, I wasn't sure how far we'd get. The Bighorns have a number of trails which are neither designated nor maintained, so it all depended on our luck (which didn't end up being very good in this respect).

GoLite in the Bighorns

Originally we had planned to spend Friday night at the trailhead, but Mandy and Matt weren't ready to go until Saturday morning (again, first time is always the toughest!). So we only made it to the pass before Highland Park before we needed to camp Saturday evening.

It was a tough trip up and up and up. And Matt must have been carrying close to 70 pounds! I like to keep my pack around 40, although it was really closer to 45.

T-Bone Backpacking

One advantage to going with novices, however, is that they overestimate what they can comfortably carry. And so these lovelies carried up massive T-Bone steaks for all! Mmmm! I could hardly eat any of the instant mashed sweet potatoes that I had brought!

The night went a little rough. I moved my tent at midnight because the wind was too harsh and my tent was so low the side would hit me with a particularly stiff gust. Additionally, going from Sheridan at 3,743 ft above sea level to the pass at 10,350 ft was apparently a little too much.

A slight headache, a little nausea and a heartbeat that wouldn't go below 100 bpm all night kept me company (although I was super awake to move my tent because of it!). I let Matt and Mandy know how I was feeling, just in case the altitude sickness worsened.

We all had visions of packing up in complete darkness and moving to a lower elevation at 3 AM, but fortunately, I ended up feeling pretty good. So we decided the following morning to continue on, but only to go as far as Peggy Lake since that would drop us below 10,000 feet for the next night.

Highland Park Trail Sign

Trail markers that change direction with the wind and vague trails made the hike a little difficult (we actually didn't end up following the official trail at all beyond this point).

Monkshood in the Bighorns

Monkshood is one flower I recognize from my childhood hiking the Wasatch in Utah. It was nice to be in a place so wild and yet so familiar.

Squeaky Pika

The pikas chatted through the evening and started up again in the morning. They're one of many sub-alpine species most directly affected by climate change.

Destination... the one lake you can't see

We followed trails to the lake where we were going to camp, but they weren't official trails. They didn't always go where we wanted and they didn't always continue.

We got to the campsite after going the long way around another lake and some serious boulder hopping (east, west, left, right, what's the difference!).

Indian Paintbrush

Indian Paintbrush, another childhood memory.

Lake Reeds

I occupied myself with photography while Matt kindly pumped water from Highland Lake. I think he felt it was his penance since I had carried water up the mountain that he and Mandy ended up needing (I don't think I estimated how much I needed very well the first time out either).

Peggy Lake Camping

Other than hiking, I also filled my time with NOTHING! I literally sat on rocks and looked at the view (rocks plural because I had to move every few minutes because of the mosquitos). It was sooooo luxurious!

Blacktooth and Woolsey

I knew I moved here for a good reason!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Down from the Mountain

Me and Mr. Cairn (and the Mountains)

And it was good.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Funnest Job Ever!

Happy Family Home
Kat, Chloe and Ethan, soon to be homeowners at the duplex.

I am seriously lucky to do what I do (you know, random coordinator of all things my boss doesn't do).

In my construction coordinator hat, I got a call from soon to be homeowner Carisa last week. She's got MS and we're finishing up her house in the next couple months (it was started before I got here).

She had just gone up to her house to grab a paint brush and see what may have happened over the week. When she found the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, toilet and hot water heater installed and trim around the windows and doors started she had to call me.

It was a conversation filled with 'oh my gosh!' and 'wow!' and the most self satisfying one 'thank you!!!'

I like my job.

Monday, August 3, 2009

August Fields

August Fields

It's amazing how the summer has flown by! It feels like it was just a month and half ago I was posting pictures of snow. Oh wait, that was a month and a half ago!

The fields are drying out to golden now as we begin August. Rain is more sparse even though it may come with more noise.

The year is passing in a familiar way.

Often in Nicaragua I would become seasonally disoriented. It would take a moment or two to remember what month I was in because the countryside lacked all familiar indications of time of year.

But here, I am intrinsically accustomed to the subtle changes.

The fawns are becoming more bold. I startled one on the road this morning. It's butt was towards me as it was playing and it wasn't until it's friend started running away that it turned, jumped (literally four hoofs off the pavement an inch) and scampered away. I was pretty much stopped a few feet away by that time.

The creek I cross every morning and afternoon shows more rocks above it's surface.

I don't worry about rain on construction days because even if there's a sprinkle, it won't last more than an hour or so.

They're lovely days while they last!

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