Thursday, December 31, 2009

December "To Do" List

  • SAVE!!! - Done
  • Make lots of extra passport photos for visas - Done
  • Sew stuff sacks (this was a fun project; I love to sew!) - Done
  • Sew compression straps onto backpack  - Done
  • Draft and sign will - Done
  • Draft and notarize financial power of attorney for Pops - Done
  • Pay for storage space for 2010 and arrange "local contacts" - Done
Days until departure:  59
Months until departure:  2

    Monday, December 28, 2009

    The Year in Soundwaves

    Do you remember the songs you listened to on the radio while driving to high school?  Do you remember the songs you listened to while hanging out in your college dormitory?  Do you remember the song playing during your first dance with your new wife?

    Humanity has invented a time machine:  music.

    It takes you back, reminds you of who and where you were, what you were doing, how you were feeling.  A song is like a little time capsule:  play the song; open the time capsule.

    Some time after the end of college, I started making year-end playlists with the intent of summarizing the previous year with music, instead of words.  I put the finishing touches on the 2009 playlist last night.  This was my year, in soundwaves.

    1. Everything is Borrowed - The Streets
    2. Life Less Ordinary - Carbon Leaf
    3. Smiling Underneath - Ani DiFranco
    4. Old Dan Tucker - Bruce Springsteen
    5. Mi Amor, Mi Amante - Grupo 5
    6. Te Regalo Amores - Rakim y Ken Y
    7. Wagon Wheel - Old Crow Medicine Show
    8. Lisztomania - Phoenix
    9. Daylight - Matt and Kim
    10. Skinny Love - Bon Iver
    11. Roll Away Your Stone - Mumford and Stones
    12. The World at Large - Modest Mouse
    For you stalkers out there, click the link below to see 2008 and 2007.

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    Giant of the Valley

    This past weekend, Kate, Tim, Greg, Dave, and I went up to the Adirondacks for some winter hiking. We arrived late on Friday night and decided on a 7 mile round-trip hike up and down Giant Mountain, a.k.a. Giant of the Valley.

    View Larger Map

    I woke up on Saturday morning and I was TIRED. Like, "I want to DESTROY the alarm clock that just woke me up" tired.

    Nonetheless, I (unwisely?) set out with the guys.

    I have barely any pictures from the trip, since I was focused on breathing and not dying. We took the approach up Roaring Brook, which isn't that long (3.5 miles one way) and isn't really that steep.

    Still, when we got to the top of the ridge at mile 2-point-something and I saw the summit of Giant another 700+ feet above me, I wanted to faint.

    We made it to the top.

    Took a few pictures.

    And started the descent.

    Coming down was fast and fun.  We invented two new sports:  extreme snowshoeing and the butt luge.  It took half the time from the summit to the car as it took from the car to the summit, probably because we practically fell down the side of the mountain.

    my favorite photo from the trip

    Next day we played on the ice on Silver Lake.  Of course, this necessitated power tools.  (Mom, don't look.)

    Five inches thick.  Apparently it had been -25 Fahrenheit (-32 Celcius) the week previous.

    Even though the ice was 5'' thick, it was so clear one could see to the bottom of the lake.

    Overall, it was a lovely weekend with a great group of people.  I wish I hadn't been so tired during Saturday's hike, but I'm proud that I made it to the top and back. 

    Thanks to Tim, Greg, and Dave for their patience with me during the hike. Special thanks to Tim for the moleskin, and a very special thanks to Kate who cooked us a delicious dinner on Saturday night!

    Friday, December 18, 2009

    Flying South for the Winter

    I thought geese flew south for the winter?!?

    Yes, they do--they fly from Canada down to the Finger Lakes, where they hang out on the south end of Cayuga Lake.

    Right off the end of our dock.

    Where they HONK and HONK and HONK all night long.

    All.  Night.  Long.

    Let me repeat that again:  All.  Night.  Long.

    Their loudest birdie screams happen at night, when they realize that they're slowly being pushed away from the lakeshore by the encroaching ice, while they could be hanging out in the sunshine in Charleston or Atlanta or wherever snowbirds go for the winter (Florida?).

    The cacophony ebbs and flows like the noise level at a party.  The talking/ honking starts quietly, but as someone laughs/ honks loudly, all the other party attendees/ geese have to start talking/ honking more loudly to be heard over the din, which quickly escalates into a shouting/ honking free-for-all.  Eventually, everyone/ everybird realizes that there is no reason to be yelling/ honking so loudly, and the noise level slowly fades.  Until the next laugh/ honk.

    Fly south, birdies, fly south!

    Sunday, December 13, 2009

    Winter Wonderland

    We visited Taughannock Falls State Park and walked up the creek to the falls.

    The water in the creek froze into amazing patterns.

    Ice is cool.

    No pun intended.

    As always, the waterfalls were beautiful.  The constant flowing of water is mesmerizing.

    Exposure desensitizes, but I'm glad I haven't taken this for granted...

    ...because it's beautiful, no matter how many times I see it.

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Watkins Glen

    On Sunday, I went out to Watkins Glen with Dave, Kate, and Tim.  We started up the rim trail on the south side of the gorge and arrived at the railroad crossing (~1 mile) before we had realized we had been moving.  (That's the beauty of doing longer and longer distance hikes--short "hikes" literally become a walk in the park.)

    I remembered the railroad bridge being pretty scary due to the exposure and its poor maintenance.  This time, it was meh.

    Now, I'm not saying that we somehow ended up on the closed-for-winter gorge trail on the northern side.

    But!  I will point out that our approach did not lead us past any signs that said we couldn't go the way we were going.

    There were icicles hanging off the sides of the shale in haphazard patterns.  The gorge was chilly and wet from the constant drip-drip-drip of the melting.  Even though I was wearing long underwear, a wool sweater, wool socks, and a wool hat, I was still cold in the gorge. 

    The waterfalls were beautiful, and became more beautiful as the trail progressed.

    Even though the "hike" was really short (perhaps 2.5 miles), it was so relaxing to spend the afternoon outside.

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    Full Moon on the Lake

    Tuesday evening, there was a full moon. The moonlight reflected off the surface of Cayuga Lake and looked like the tail of a comet projecting to the east--beautiful and memorable, especially with the ripples of the lake creating a glittering effect.

    I'll miss nights like these during my upcoming years of endless summer.  I'll miss that type of air, clear and cold, that type of air that nails your sinuses like a dart on a bull's eye.  It's the type of air that makes you take notice, three exclamation points smacking you right in the face, that THIS MOMENT IS IMPORTANT.