Monday, February 17, 2014

Taking Flight

In about 27 hours, I leave for London!! and in exactly 10 days, I will (hopefully) be on the summit of Kilimanjaro, waving to the world. Our wonderful outfitters have provided us with all the information, and our "cruise director" for London, Danna, has set everything up for us so beautifully, that I'm not even worried that it's supposed to be raining the entire time we're there.

I'm a bit like Bilbo, heading off into the unknown, with only a map and a wizard to guide him and his hairy little feet. Okay so not exactly like that, but I do feel the same. I'm also reading The Hobbit right now, in case you couldn't tell.

There are so many details to sort out for a big trip: passport and visa, packing the right things, getting shots, calling credit card and phone companies, and generally making sure you have all your ducks in a row while you're gone.. But after everything is ready, after all the late-night trips to Walgreens and drives to Backwoods in Fort Worth, the only thing that's left is the delicious anticipation of what's going to happen, who I will meet, and how I will be changed up there. That's how I'm feeling today...I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't super super nervous. But that usually goes away after the first glass of wine on the plane.

As is usually the case with events where months of preparation are required for only a few hours of enjoyment (think weddings, 5k races), I want to relish every moment I am there, because I know it will be over quicker than I can say "Jambo." Preparation for this has led me to some great moments, personal accomplishments, etc, and that was only the training! It's time to see what the actual event has for me. In one of the many guides I read about climbing Kili, and they said to write down or say aloud to your tent mates five "miracles" that you witness every day on the mountain, without repeating one miracle. I am promising myself that I will look for those miracles, be it an African sunset, spotting a random bird I've never seen before, or simply making it through another hour of hiking.

Next time I write, I'll be in the middle of an adventure, with the world either on my shoulders or below my feet. Let's get this thing started.

“There are no safe paths in this part of the world. Remember you are over the Edge of the Wild now, and in for all sorts of fun wherever you go.”  --The Hobbit

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Happy Day After Valentine's Day!! When the world goes back to normal and I don't have to dwell on the fact that my only real lasting relationship has been with my dog. Which is meaningful, of course, but he won't call me back.

He knows he has my love. Louis Badger don't care.

I hope you had a wonderful Valentine's day with the person or animal (or both!) you love. Only three days until I'm reunited with another one of my loves: travel.

Have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Training for Kilimanjaro

Back in December, when I lost my mind and abandoned all mental rational, I signed up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro at the end of February. After the initial shock wore off that I was going to be on top of a live volcano that also happens to be the fourth largest peak in the world, I realized that I had to get in shape.  I was going to be in more than five climate zones in less than a week, not to mention walking uphill for almost five days straight.

After reading a lot online about training for this particular climb, but never really finding a regimen or schedule to follow, I decided that a lot of running, climbing stairs, and spin classes would be the best way to prepare for something this grueling. That, and breaking in my hiking boots.


I don't think I realized how much this mountain was going to demand of my time, my energy, my money, and my thoughts. It has completely taken over. I spend most of my Sundays planning my exercise schedule for the week. I wake up in the morning thinking about my work out (or two) for the day. I get through work thinking about the 2 mile run I'm going to go on when I get off, or still on a high from a run or exercise class. I think about my calf muscles that are sore pretty much 24/7. I think about it all. the. time.  I've walked up and down Steamboat Mountain a few times, one of the only hill-y areas around, just south of Abilene, which has done wonders for breaking in those boots. My goal in all of this was to simply be prepared to climb a mountain, but the residual effects are quite pleasing. I feel better than I have in a long time, my clothes fit better (if not loosely), and I'm starting to see muscles I haven't seen since high school.

Although I was never this happy while working out. How is she even smiling right now? 

From this point on, I need to keep the steady pace of working out every day, cross training between dance and spin classes, running and the stairmaster. My plan is to have my last workout on Monday, February 17th before we leave on Tuesday. That way, I'll have a good five days of rest before the climb!


The other day, I was at a spin class and contemplated quitting halfway through. I could have done it. No one would have stopped me or made me keep going; I wasn't there to receive points or a grade. It would have been so easy for me to just stop pedaling, swung a leg over and walked out. But then the instructor said something like "this is your mountain, and this is where you get stronger." MY mountain. My choice to push through the pain or to let myself quit.

In addition to that, constantly in the back of my head is the paralyzing fear that I will have terrible altitude sickness once I'm up there. Apparently, it doesn't matter how good of shape a person is in. The fittest person in the world could have horrible altitude sickness and have to go back down the mountain. It cannot be helped or prevented, and each person reacts differently. Luckily, I know that my dad didn't really have it too terribly when he summited, so that gives me hope. The only thing he complained about was an awful headache, which sounds like most of my Saturday mornings...

The better shape you're in, the more enjoyable the climb will be. And mental preparedness is just as important as the physical preparation. I am probably going to want to turn back multiple times during our trek because it will be too hard. But I'm training myself to ban any thoughts of quitting. I've learned that your body is stronger than you think, and as soon as you can exile any thoughts of quitting, to get your mind out of that pool of doubt, you can push yourself to do more than you ever thought possible.


Regardless of all of that, I am determined not to let the altitude or mental exhaustion drag me down. As I've said before, this will most likely be the hardest thing I've ever done. But every time I get scared that I won't make it to the top, I grit my teeth and push just a little harder, thinking of that snowy summit, and the relief and joy I'll feel when I get there.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Goodbye, Part 2

It's a tough thing to say goodbye, especially to someone who I've literally known all my life. I called this post "Part 2" because this feels like an actual extension of my last "Goodbye" post, where I said goodbye to my grandfather about 13 months ago. My grandmother passed away on Saturday morning, but I don't think she ever really learned to live without him. Her heart was broken, and it never mended until she was in Heaven, when she saw him again.

The way I like to remember her: In a huge hat at Pebble Beach, surrounded by us. (And yes, that's me on the right.) 

So I've been watching family come and go, food and flowers being brought over by friends, and wondering how Abilene is going to go on without Patty Taliaferro. Everyone has been so sweet and kind, remembering stories of my grandmother and her antics -- of which she had plenty -- and I will miss her. She was always looking for her next adventure, and besides wearing huge hats, her favorite thing was to travel. I think I get that from her, and I thank her for teaching me to appreciate the value that travel and learning about other cultures can bring to a life.

Hoping to continue her legacy, I am still training for my next adventure. With less than 2 weeks to go until we leave for Kili, it's crunch time. My plan is to be at the gym every spare moment I have.

Life just keeps moving, doesn't it? And I must be sure not to miss one single moment.