Friday, August 28, 2015

Vacay 2015

Where has the summer gone??  It seems like last week, I was celebrating surviving another school year, but here we are, starting the another one already. UGH!!  I didn't think that I could hate the first day of school any more than I did when I was just 8 years old, but this one is the most dreaded. New location with 2 districts, one of which is very high maintenance.  bring on the Ibuprofen!

In spite of dreading this since we got out on June 5th, I managed to have some good times over the last few months. Sure, there was racing and riding bikes, but there were also cookouts, bonfires, weekend excursions, and of course, VACATION!

As  I usually do, I headed to Maine for another week hanging out on the shores of Penobscot Bay in the Midcoast region of Maine.  To say I love it there would be an understatement.  I always look forward to the next trip because I know I can always count on having my batteries recharged while I am up there and this year was no different. And I really needed recharged this year too.

72 hour prior to our departure, I was racing in the ACA Masters field when another rider made a dumb mistake, crashed, and took me out in the process. As I was hurdling towards the earth, so many thoughts raced through my mind, including how it was going to affect my trip North. Among other things, I said a quick prayer to not hear the sound of bones crunching.  I hit the pavement with my left sidae and thankfully didn't hear THAT dreaded sound.  I wasn't injury free, but no known bone breaks... just bumps, bruises and road rash.
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The elbow turned out to be the worst of it all. Still, it aches a little from prolonged use or if I bump it wrong. But other than needing to change the bandages a few times through out the drive, had very little impact on our trip. We left at 3:30 in the afternoon on the last day of July and arrived in Licolnville Beach, Maine at a few minutes past 4AM, just in time to watch the sun come up over the Atlantic Ocean. 

The elbow kept me from my goal of 400 miles (I actually only road 25 because I was sore) but we still managed to find something new to take on every day.  The first full day, we hiked up the Maiden Cliff Trail on Mount Megunticook and got to enjoy the breath taking view of Lake Megunticook below.  When I used to spend the whole summer in Maine, I don't think I ever went more than a week or two without making the trip up. 

We also took a drive up to Bar Harbor and visited Acadia National Park.  We got up on top of Cadillac Mountain early, but still had to park in one of the lower lots and hike to the top because there were so many people visiting that day. And while the view is spectacular, I only visit every few years, because battling the traffic and tourists just isn't worth the headache.  Everyone HAS to visit it once in their life and Amber and Mackenzie can officially check it off their bucket list.
Cadillac looking towards Bald Hill

One of my favorite things to do while we were in Maine was to go to Thomaston and shop at the Maine State Prison Showroom. This is where the inmates who work in the woodshop, get to sell the crafts, furniture, and artwork and make a few dollars to buy the incidentals that help make prison life bearable. I don't know that I have ever come back home empty handed either.

We also stopped by the nearby Owls Head light.  Its very short when compared with other lighthouse people are familiar with from the coast of the Carolina's, but that's because its sits high about the water on a prominent bluff.

And of course, we ate AMPLE amounts of seafood.
Cappy's Chowder House Crab Roll
Fresh lobster on the back deck of The Whitecap
Another lobster, this time accompanied with fresh steamers and mussels
And LOBSTER ROLLS with a can of Moxie. Nothing says Maine like this meal.
We've only been home for 3 weeks now and I am already dying to head back up. I can't wait for JR to put out the new road race schedule so I can start planning.  Let me know if you want to take it all in with us!


It was a long 6 weeks. The first earthquake in Nepal gave me a feeling in my stomach I will never forget. I don't remember ever feeling quit so helpless. It was probably nothing compared to the feeling of the climbers stuck in Khumbu unable to assist the tragedy on Mt. Everest but regardless I own the feelings.

Helplessness without the desire and act would be a tragedy. I knew that I had no choice but to end up on the ground in Nepal as soon as possible. My wife and I spent days sending inquiries to support groups such as the red cross, All Hands, the UNITED Nations, and the Ambassadors to Nepal both in the US and Nepal. I even contacted the US military to try and get on a flight with them(no joke). It seemed that no US support groups were heading to Nepal for immediate relief.

 My adrenaline never stopped and I could hardly sleep. I knew that I had to be there. There was a natural flow and fight against the door closing options in front of me. It was much like the 2014 Hilly Billy Roubaix. Around every turn there was an obstacle that gave an option to quit. I never did and never would have. I wasn't going to stop this fight either.

Days turned to a week and I felt the time for my useful skills was fading so my wife and I decided that it was up  us to make it happen. I approach my current managers the following day with the news that I planned to leave for Nepal so we needed to "work it out." I sent this message to the head of nursing also. I also sent a message to our friends at global links. This is an organization that takes discarded medical supplies and repackages the supplies for the needy. They committed to donate all the supplies I could physically carry! It seemed like things were falling into place so I purchased my own ticket to Nepal and notified my job that I was going to be gone. They weren't happy but they agreed  personal leave.  Ill leave it at that.

The next week was a blur while working normal hours and gathering supplies and packing personal things. I contacted my friends in Nepal and informed I will be arriving. I was not prepared for what was to come.

Arrival in Kathmandu

Meeting a few itrekNepal team and New Hope Society members

Working with great people at the Bhaktapur Community Health Clinic

Supplies and Tents for Urban Health Medical Clinic and Community Health

After 2.5 weeks working at the clinic and then spending extra time helping to break down houses my friend and coordinator of New Hope Society presented me with an option I could not refuse. They needed someone to go into the high mountains to deliver medical supplies, tents and assess the damages to plan future relief. How could I say no to some hard days in the Khumbu mountains. I left the next morning without questioning.

Tea house destruction

Thame village

Thame medical tents

I've tried to explain how special of a country Nepal is but it never seems to sound as wonderful as I feel it is. I'll leave it at this - the countryside is beautiful, the culture is spiritual and the people are warm and welcoming. It's not the people but the souls of the people of Nepal that will change you forever. It is like nowhere else on earth. I'm not even sure it is on earth...

Thursday, July 30, 2015

White Park MTB Race

I did the White Park MTB Race last weekend, it was really fun. Although going into it I was a little worried because 1. At last year's race I dropped my chain at least 10 times. and 2. I hadn't ridden my mountain bike since last year's race because of that.  I should have actually tried to fix my mountain bike before the morning of the race, but oh well.  So I stopped by Pathfinder of WV on the way to the race, but to drop off my road bike since the bottom bracket had been making some really bad sounds (all of my racing friends from Kansas can attest to that because I tortured them with it for all of The Tour of Lawrence race weekend).  While I was there I mentioned the problems I had with my mountain bike at last year's race and Andy told me I should go get it they can work on it now!  So Merv worked some magic adjusting the clutch on my derailleur much faster than I ever could.

Now time to put the bike to the test. With little to no warm up since it was really hot and I didn't want to ride my bike in the sun the race started.  Going into the woods I was just behind the other girls and then the year off of mountain biking kicked in as I slowly fell behind trying to remember the right lines to take.  After a little I got comfortable on the bike I was off trying to push myself and get better since at this point I was unsure if I would be able to catch anyone in my race but now the goal was to see how long I could push off the inevitable of Gunner lapping me.  So I would ride along distracted by the party I had to go to later that day and what I was going to wear.  The other distraction was the song I was singing to myself while no one was around the high lights (or maybe embarrassing low lights) were "The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round..."  and "There are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 wheels on a big rig and they're rolling rolling rolling rolling rolling rolling!" And then all of a sudden a skinny bridge ahhhhhhh I hate those.  I always think I'm going to fall off, but so far I haven't (knock on a tree).  Now that interrupted my thoughts where was I, oh yeah "There are 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 wheels on a big rig!" ahhhhh another bridge there are way too many of those on this trail, but at least I haven't dropped my chain yet.  Oh well I spoke too soon, after trying to take a bumpy section faster than normal my chain fell off.  Well I guess it wasn't the derailleur, sounds like I will need to order a new chain ring from Pathfinder of WV.

Then after barely making it through the finish line the second time here comes Gunner, hmmm I wonder how far behind JR is.  Then a few minutes later JR comes to pass me and he's in 4th overall!!! Go JR, you're looking so skinny!!!  Then a bit later Merv came riding by and at this point we were chain dropping twins since we both dropped our chain once, however I ended the race with 3 chain drops and he ended the race with only 2.  So then back to the song that entertained me for a lot of the race, I felt very smart because I also counted in threes, roman numerals, Spanish, Spanish by twos, and spanish by threes.  And I learned that counting in another language is really hard when not just normally counting.

So then after a while I finished the race, I came in 4th! We took a lovely podium shot and then I rushed off to Pittsburgh to go to the party I mentioned earlier.  And most importantly JR brought me my road bike on Tuesday even though I haven't gotten a chance to ride it yet I'm very excited for it to finally not make awful noises.  So in conclusion, thank you Pathfinder for everything!

P.S. I'm looking forward to moving here (see below), but I will miss Pittsburgh and Morgantown at the same time.