Friday, October 31, 2008

Rattle snakes in Minnesota? Yup.

Because of serious decline in this species, the timber rattlesnake is listed
as a Threatened species in Minnesota.

This is a large, venomous Minnesota species that is very heavy bodied and
measures from 36 to 60 inches in length. Timber rattlesnakes have a diamond shaped head
which is set off from their relatively thin neck. The pupils of the eyes are elliptical in bright light and there is a heat-sensitive pit between the eye and nostral on both sides of the head.
Ground color may be variable, but a banded pattern is almost always present. Ground color may be yellow, with or without a rusty orange stripe down the center of the back, or gray or brown. There are black bands (not spots) that run across the back for the entire length of the snake.

This species is found throughout most of the southeastern United States and ranges northward from Iowa into Minnesota and Wisconsin via a narrow band along the Mississippi River. In Minnesota, they are recorded from eight southeastern counties, but only six of these may hold breeding populations at this time .

Timber rattlesnakes live in the same habitat as milk snakes and prairie ringneck snakes in Minnesota, steep bluffs with rocky outcroppings. These snakes favor south and southwest sides of the bluffs and spend most of their time in the sunny open areas surrounded by forest. They hibernate in dens that travel into the sides of the bluff. They hibernate communally with other timber rattlesnakes.

This information was paraphrased by me from the Minnesota Herpetology website. Sounds like Barnes Bluff might be a suitable habitat for rattlers and Jenna Chimney, a dandy place to winter with your friends. I can feel myself getting ready to hibernate myself, somebody, please yank me out of the den if you think this has happened to me. Hey! reader in Denver! Leave a comment and let us know who you are!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Red Wing on Thursday

There was a morning shift and an afternoon shift today. Nora worked both shifts. Her report on the afternoon, is below. (A rattlesnake at Red Wing? Wow! And I thought the wasps were bad enough.)

The morning shift had some new personal bests. Nora climbed "Too Low for Zero." The first time she'd been on that climb. Ron led "3 Fat Chicks on a World Tour" the first time he'd ever led that climb. Johnny Mack led "Vertical Vice" for the first time since Spring. I celebrated the First Anniversary of hurting my elbow at RW. Great weather, great group.

Barn Bluff

Hey! That was an AWESOME DAY today on the bluff! We didn't do too much on Jenna's Chimney toinght due to a rattlesnake encounter half way up. So we upped our game and went to what I think is called Dealer's Choice and had a great evening! Beautiful day! Photo is of Todd's first outdoor lead and the location of the Snake Crack.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Video/Photos of Our Copper Canyon Trip

I posted three video slide shows of our trip - Biking, hiking and riding the train. They are here.

Building Strength

Here's one way to  build strength. Carry heavy loads to Everest base camp. Buncha short stories here about climbs in the Himalaya.


Or you can use this technique.



This is my preferred way to carry heavy loads:


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Got Big Feet?

imageThen you'd empathize with the poor Yeti.

 "A Japanese expedition claims to have photographed footprints of the Yeti on Dhaulagiri IV."

From the Exum Mountain Guides Website

Risk at the end of Wall Street

Climbers ascend Wall Street, Grand Teton. Photo: Exum CollectionGiven the incessant news surrounding Wall Street’s imploding financial markets, it is comforting to recall that the Grand Teton has its own Wall Street, that it remains remarkably stable, and that it was first climbed at the height of the Great Depression when the financier’s Wall Street had—history repeats itself—crashed.

The Grand Teton’s Wall Street is a large ledge that leads almost to the Exum Ridge, Exum Mountain Guide’s signature route on the south side of the mountain. Unfortunately, as one traverses it the ledge narrows and then abruptly ends about five feet short of the ridge. On the first ascent, which he climbed solo on July 15, 1932, Glenn Exum famously jumped across the slot separating the end of Wall Street from the route that now bears his name. Glenn’s risky jump remains one of the boldest acts in the history of the Grand Teton, one that would no doubt fail to conform to the present emphasis on risk management.

Although most climbers have forgotten the fact, Paul Petzoldt soloed the route later that same day after climbing to the summit of the Grand with two clients via the Owen-Spalding route. Evidently, Paul climbed across the slot on small holds—the way we go today. Somewhat later, while guiding a client on the Exum Ridge who was a Wall Street banker by profession, Paul named the ledge “Wall Street”–thus forever entwining boldness, risk, glory, banking, and the Grand Teton.

Climbing at Red Wing on Thursday

We're planning on getting to Red Wing 12ish this Thursday. Join us if you can. Lisa can't get there until after 1:30.

CORRECTION I need to leave RW at 2:30 so at least 2 of us will get to RW at 10AM.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Newest Natural Wonders

imageHere's a photo of a place in China which has lots of granite spires.

 Full story here with slide show.

Good Safety Lessons In This Video

A climbing video with good lessons. Such as:
  • Have the right tool for the job
  • Be cautious of your partner's experience
  • Know the risks before you start
  • Know your knots

The Perfect Weekend (for me) (you..maybe)

Yoga Rocks!

A special weekend adventure of

Yoga & Mountaineering

Immerse Yourself in the Grandeur of the Tetons:
For the very first time in its rich, 75-year-plus history, Exum Mountain Guides is offering this unique experience of blending the exhilaration of Mountaineering with the depths of Yoga. You will be led by Bhava Ram & Laura Plumb, Master Teachers and owners of Deep Yoga, teaming with Senior Exum Mountain Guide Christian Santelices. This remarkable weekend includes an overnight stay in the Rocks Springs Backcountry Yurt above Teton Village.

Some Possible Climbs in Copper Canyon

This is a long way to go to climb but... The first two photos are of rocks in an area called "Valley of the Monks." Which is on the rim of the Copper Canyon at about 7500 feet. Looks muy similar to the Needles in the Black Hills. Basically, this is the private climbing area of our guide. He has put several bolts on top of the pinnacles and has taught some classes. A few years ago, some French boulderers came thru and made some boulder routes here. But, really, no one climbs here.
The last photo is of unclimbed routes looking down into the Copper Canyon from the rim.

Photos of Our Trip to Copper Canyon

Here's a slideshow of part of our photos.

This Is The Premier Sport Climbing Area in Mexico

I know I had a posting about this before. The guide we had on our bicycle trip to the Copper Canyon is also a climber. He has been to this area and knows some of the climbers who developed it. He thinks it is great.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

New Rag!

I picked up a free copy of the first issue of a new magazine at VE today. It's called
Dead Point magazine. I read it to Mel-lo all the way home, it's pretty good, worth a peek. They have an online version too. Click here and I will take you there. There are lots of great photos.
The website is fun, they are having a t-shirt design contest. You can win a pair of evolve shoes in a drawing. There is music you can download. I don't think I fit the profile of who they think there readership is, or maybe I DO! I don''t care, I LIKE it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What to wear...what to wear....

All my climbing friends know that I prefer yoga pants in the gym and my Arborware pants outside. Mel prefers her Outdoor Goddess pants. Amy is downright famous for her Dr. Seuss duds but has recently been spotted in the buffalo jams that we bought her for her birthday in Custer. Mike always wears PrAna. And if you haven't heard my mumblings on the crag, guys, I like the Carharts, you look good in them, 'nuf said.
Aside from style these choices are important to technique. Last week I wore jeans one day and lost my feet on a route because I could keep my knee in my ear. Then the next day I couldn't hold my knee wedging maneuver because I was sporting my slippery REI hiking slacks.
What brought this on? This article that covers climbing fashion from neon spandex to trusty denim. Finally, a guide to cool.

Where is the Climbing Love?

The following Article is featured in Alpinist Magazine. I enjoyed the first paragraph which is copied here. For the rest of the article, go here but it gets pretty whiny in subsequent paragraphs. It is an interesting addition to QD's FAQ "Are climbers unfriendly"? I say, Heck, NO! Climbers are incredibly friendly because as the article says "A climber needs to socialize with someone that understands his madness"

Where is the Climbing Love? by Stanley Livingstone
've always considered one of the finest aspects of climbing to be meeting diverse people and sharing a common bond—a common disposition. This is not to say that all climbers think alike. In fact, climbers are mostly independent thinkers and usually avoid "group mentality" because this lifestyle attracts the autonomous, or at least forces autonomy on you. Yet many of us are gregarious, not in the traditional "flock" sense, but in our willingness to socialize with, and aid, the fellow climber. Climbing is full of great contradictions—the brute savagery and delicate finesse required for ice climbing, for example. This is certainly one of them. Even though he might be roped together with another person, the climber meticulously placing RP's up the headwall of El Cap is alone, confined to the walls of his skull. But something dormant inside him is lurking, waiting to compel him later when he is done with his objective. He seeks community. He desperately needs to socialize with someone who can understand him and relate to his madness.

Rockslide threatens Curry Village at Yosemite

by Peter Fimrite, Steve Rubenstein, Chronicle Staff Writers

Thursday, October 9, 2008(10-09) 04:00 PDT Yosemite National Park --

A large slab of granite cracked loose from a cliff in Yosemite National Park early Wednesday and crashed into the Curry Village resort with a thunderous roar, flattening tents and forcing hundreds of campers to run for their lives.

Dozens of schoolchildren fled the scene screaming and crying as broken rock rained down, snapping trees, smashing through the walls of cabins and sending a plume of dust hundreds of feet in the air.

"It sounded enormous, like the earthquakes I've been in in Los Angeles," said Tom Voelpel, a lighting technician from Valencia who was sharing a tent at Curry Village with his twin brother, Dave, in celebration of their 50th birthday. "You could hear trees snapping and rocks crunching and cracking against each other."

Click here to see the rest of the article. Why wasn't this on the news? They were too busy telling us about (insert annoying overdone news storty here) Souns like it was really scary. I just goes to prove my greates fear as a climber "rocks can move".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Crack Climbing

It just seems that I have been hearing a lot about crack climbing lately. As you know I have a certain fondness for crack, as well as his brother, flake. I have heard "offwidth" thrown around as well. So I looked it up. I happened upon a chapter from Basic Rock Craft by Royal Robbins. Hey! I own that book, I bought it in Jackson Wyoming in 1975 on my first climbing trip. It's probably a collector's item. Yep, so I am I....

Wow! I would love to make this floor a wall!

Scientists have identified an amazing collection of dinosaur footprints on the Arizona-Utah border in the US.

There are so many prints - more than 1,000 - that geologists have dubbed the site "a dinosaur dance floor".

Located within the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, the marks were long thought simply to be potholes gouged out of the rock by years of erosion.

A paper describing the 190-million-year-old footprints is published in the palaeontology journal Palaios.

"Get out there and try stepping in their footsteps, and you feel like you are playing the game 'Dance Dance Revolution' that teenagers dance on," says Professor Marjorie Chan from the University of Utah."This kind of reminded me of that - a dinosaur dance floor - because there are so many tracks and a variety of different tracks."

"There must have been more than one kind of dinosaur there," she adds. "It was a place that attracted a crowd, kind of like a dance floor."

Dance on it? Naw, I wanna climb it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Julianne checks in with Boulder Comp Results

It was fun but advanced climbs were super hard!!! I came in third out of four women in advanced -- but two of us only completed one advanced problem, one gal (Jess, who came in first) finally completed a second advanced climb right before the end of the comp after about 12 attempts, and we all ended up moving to the intermediate climbs so we could at least climb something! =)
We discovered we're all smack dab in the middle of intermediate and advanced categories. We could flash the hardest intermediate problems but then could hardly do any of the advanced probs! A little frustrating. I think it was hard for the route setters to keep the advanced probs hard but not in the "open" category! A think I will be able to eventually do at least 4 of the other advanced probs though. After the comp, Trinh and I climbed for another hour and discovered that A10 -- which should have been the HARDEST of the advanced, is actually do-able. I got to two moves from the end on my first attempt! The last two moves, OF COURSE, are huge reaches (aka dynos for me) moving off slopers. Gotta love it!


can mean different things for different people.

If you've ever thought of Mountain Recuse Guide as a career... check out this episode of America's Toughest Jobs. These guys experienced some quick thinking, self arrest and knot tying skills on Mt McKinley. BTW a first year guide only makes 15k...I would want the person in charge of my life to get paid a bit more!

Reel Rock Film Festival
A free screening of Reel Rock Film Festival will show at Carleton College - Boliou Hall on Tues 10/21 at 7:30.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Big Event for our BHCC Pals, we should go help!

Black Hills Climbing Coalition
October 2008

The next meeting of the BHCC will be 7 pm Tuesday, October 21, at the Gaslight in Rockerville.

Rick Emerson will be giving a powerpoint/DVD presentation at the meeting on the Primal Quest Adventure Race—the World Series of Adventure Racing--that will be held in the Black Hills and Badlands next year August 15-24, 2009 . The event will feature mountain biking, paddling, spelunking, trekking, ultra marathon hiking, running, orienteering, and rock climbing over a 600-mile course. The climbing section will be held in Custer State Park. As course director, and assistant race director, Rick has already had meetings with officials at Custer State Park, Wind Cave, Badlands Park, the Rapid City Sports Council, the Dept of Tourism, and even the Govenor. Rick wants to make sure all area climbers know about the upcoming event. If you have any questions about how the event will run, the possible impact of 400 competitors plus 300 volunteers running the event, and a huge crew filming the event, now is the time to educate yourself about what will be happening, and to give your feedback if you have any concerns. Rick says event organizers are very concerned about being both environmentally friendly, and local friendly, and in that vein Rick is also hoping to get local climbers as volunteers (the 2008 race had 300 volunteers from 27 countries!!) If you have any questions, but can't make the meeting, Rick can be reached at 381-5372, or

Other dates for next years calendar—
Pinfest will be held on Saturday, July 18, 2009.
Beans and Biners will not be on Labor Day weekend next year, instead it will be on Saturday, September 12, 2009.

There is a possibility that super ranger Todd Van Alstyne can lead a group of coalition members up to the Hall of Records behind Mount Rushmore for a BHCC Holiday get together in early December. Stay tuned for details. We will let you know if it is going to happen in the November newsletter.

Congratulations to former Black Hills local Dawn Glanc who was featured in the Players sections of the October 2008 edition of climbing magazine. Who would have known that Dawn had a thing for "The Price is Right." Check it out and grin.

Climb Hard and Climb Safe

Bruce Junek—Newsletter Editor

Bruce B. Junek, Chairperson 605-348-3432
Lyle Clapp, Vice Chairperson 662-7764/440-0718
Becky Wood, Secretary
Jim Slichter, Treasurer
Aaron Costello, Publicist
Ron Yahne, Member @ Large
Peter Lev, Member @ Large

Well that's their newsletter. Here is the link to the Primal Quest Adventure Race Website.

Hola from Richard

Buenos Dias, this week finds our intrepid travelers, Richard and Barb in Mexico. Here is a message.

This morning we are in the small town of Los Mochis near the Sea of Cortez. It's 90-90 here (90 degrees, 90% humidity.)
We spent all of yesterday flying out of the way to get here. We went from Mpls, east to Detroit, then west and south to Mexico City. Then north and west to Los Mochis. Which is a small city mostly built on agriculture. So far, it seems it's just like the US here. All of the restaurant workers and janitorial workers are Hispanic. Muy interesante, no?
This afternoon we're headed for El Fuerte to get on the train which eventually will take us to the rim of the Copper Canyon.

They are taking an REI trip here is the link I should have shared this a couple of weeks ago and we all could have gone along. Pero esta muy caliente para mi!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Beautiful October Climbing Day

I went to Taylor's with Eric today, the sun came and went enough to keep us mostly warm. We set up on the column. We climbed Column direct, Column on the right and to the left of the column. I know they have names, too lazy to look them up right now. The hornets and boxelder bugs are gone and the rock isn't too cold yet.
Eric did some trad leading and I was left to clean up after another man, I don't mind, that's how I roll. Not many climbers were around but a fair share of tourists and kayakers. We had a little chili and a little fudge and a beautiful drive home through the country side awash with autumn splendor. I hope all of you get at least one more climb outside. Aaahhhhh.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm going to follow this Blog

I'll keep fit this winter training with this crazy maniac guy. He seems very deliberate about it, like Mike and I like his "Spoga" Routine.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

VE On Wednesday

IMG_7312See if you can recognize these celebrity climbers. 


They're trying out some of Trees' new

"desperate" routes. IMG_7277

Tour Of A Rope Factory

A report with photos of the Sterling Rope factory in Maine.

Climb For A Cure

You can climb for a cure of just about anything (here they are climbing for ovarian cancer research and awareness.) But how about climbing for a cure for something actually related to climbing? Like Tendinitis? Or osteochondral cysts or osteophytes? I can see it now:

"Join us for 24 hours of climbing to raise awareness of sore tendons caused by overtraining."
Think it will work?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I'm Not The Only One Thinking of Ice!


This is where Mike is climbing today. hmmm they have yoga classes. Go figure.
Richard is still in Moab.
Mel and I will be at VE at 1:00.
Where are YOU?
Here is a photo of "Rockcreation" in LA

Saturday, October 11, 2008

As Easy As Riding a Bike

Although he was spotted briefly at VE, Richard is now biking with his bro's in Moab. Looks easy, up cliffs, down cliffs. Maybe they should have brought a rope! Don't be alarmed, it's just cross training.

ok, hers's more about climbing and yoga

Yoga can improve your climbing
Body Awareness

Practicing yoga regularly may increase your mental and physical awareness. Yoga practices extending your awareness into all parts of your body, while harmonizing the body with the breath. This serves to strengthen your concentration, and mental focus. Yoga also teaches the concept of being mindful, and present with each movement and position.

Being a mindful and focused climber means you have the ability to direct and redirect pin point focus on the specific finger or foot placement most critical with each movement. Yoga can help open your awareness to new elements that play a part in your climbing performance. For example, while holding a strenuous balancing yoga asana (position) you learn to use your breath to calm your mind and find your center strength and balance. This skill of breath control and mental concentration can be applied while climbing to help prevent shakiness (ex. That uncontrollable elvis leg) anxiety, tightness, and lack of focus, ultimately dooming your performance.

Breath Control

In both climbing and yoga, we often hold our breath during a crux move or when we are gripped which creates muscle tension. Muscles need oxygen to replenish their energy state. Practicing pranayama, (breath control) during yoga practice, teaches you to breath smoothly and evenly. This practice of breath control can be applied while on the rock. Being in control of your breath while climbing will prevent muscular fatigue, lactic acid accumulation in the muscles and symptoms of anxiety (ex. Rapid heart beat, hyperventilation, overheating ect.).

Mental Strength

Climbing exercises your mental strength just as much as your physical strength. Yoga does the same. It is critical in both climbing and yoga to understand the relationship between the breath, mind and body. By learning to control your breath, you can learn to calm the mind, sooth the body and remain in a relaxed, present and focused state of thought. What does this do for your climbing? It helps you conquer those mental challenges, face your fears, and expand your physical limits. Climb on!

Yoga can enhance your physical performance.

It is obvious that yoga improves balance and flexibility. Like climbing, yoga also requires core strength, static movements, and muscle tension control. Many movements in yoga are similar to those on the rock. For example, during “Half Moon” pose, you must shift your center of gravity over one leg and use one arm for balance. Keeping your weight over your feet, and moving in a slow, controlled fashion is essential for success in this pose. Similar movements are used often while climbing, such as keeping your weight over your feet and using your hands for balance, while shifting your weight from one leg to the other.

Many climbers experience overly tight hips, hamstrings and shoulders. Keeping these areas stretched and warm are essential for injury prevention, muscle balance, and optimal performance. A good yoga session will give you a complete body stretch, wringing out all tension and tightness. You will be left with free flowing joints, a mental cleanse an emotional uplift. What better way to prepare yourself for the rock!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yoga for Mountaineers!

'nuf said. and yes that is Grand Teton in the backround. It's almost like being there.

Indoor Training

When you can't make it to VE, here's an answer for building your endurance. It's cheaper than a new car too.

"Skywall is the only fully motorized climbing wall with preset courses that change speed and incline (10 different speed/pace levels)."

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A New Hike For Carl & Lisa


Now you can hike the Via Alpina, a trail system connecting 8 countries from Monaco to Slovenia. It has huts/refugios along the way for shelter and food. Via con Dios.

Gadgets to Have

This might be fun - everyone can list some  gadgets/tools/devices they want to have within the next year.

I think this altimeter/knife on the left is pretty cool but, for me, the gadget below is a must have 'cuz it's got windspeed, barometric pressure, altimeter, temperature - and it will even wipe your nose.


I Hope the New VE Looks Like This



Since this is a new climbing gym in Italy, my hunch is, it won't.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Here's An Odd Duck

Chongo, the "king of the Yosemite lifers" has given up climbing. Never heard of him? He's got quite a story.

Safari Video

"Oh no," you're thinking, "not another video by that guy." Yep. And this is only part 1. You poor babies.

Monday, October 6, 2008

This Looks like a Fun Trip to Me!

Mel-lo found this website that has some good looking trips... for women, sorry guys.

We could do it for a lot less money and bring our man friends. We have the skills, multi-pitch skills, yoga teaching skills, campfire cooking skills. Has anyone climbed in Joshua Tree? You get to be the guide.

Yoga and climbing are the perfect combination. Yogi's you know what I talking about.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Some Of Our Photos

Photos like this of the animal viewing part of our trip to Tanzania are at this link.




"Hydrate or Die"

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Upcoming Events at Midwest Mountaineering

In case Richard feels any withdrawl from his trip...this talk is at Midwest Mountaineering next week....
Adventuring and Giving Back in Tanzania
October 8th
7:00 p.m
Immerse yourself in the culture and landscape of Tanzania. Lend a helping hand to women and children while exploring the wonders of Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti. Jodi Nelson of Play it Forward Adventures will show you how you can give back, explore and connect with locals during the same trip.
Being active and giving back is the all-encompassing way to experience the beauty of Tanzania. Play it Forward.
This also sounds interesting...I'm hoping to spend a lot of time at the Expo this year...
Dr. John Francis to Speak at Winter Outdoor Adventure Expo

The Winter Outdoor Adventure Expo featured speaker is Dr. John Francis. Dr. John is amazing he has dedicated his life to changing the world by changing himself. John has travelled extensively by foot after giving up automobiles, and even gave up talking for 17 years! Fortunately for us he has broken his vow of silence and he will be speaking at the Winter Expo (for FREE). Spread the word go ahead, it's ok, really it is . . . you may even speak if you must!!!
Dr. John got you thinking? Find out more about his life's journey at
Come and see Dr. John Francis on Sunday, November 23rd from 3:00 to 4:30 at Willey Hall (just across the street on the U of MN's West Bank). Tickets are FREE plus you will receive a $5 coupon on the back of your ticket. Stop in to the store to get your free ticket(s)! Tickets will available Saturday, October 18th at 10:00 am. Other featured presenters include Lonnie Dupre, John Huston & Tyler Fish, Rod and Sharon Johnson, Dan Mazur, Claire Porter, Stephen Regenold, and Dave Watson. Jan is hard at work building the schedule of Expo programs - stay tuned for more details. We'll see you at the Outdoor Adventure Expo!
This post is from Mel-lo

Back On The Grid

Update from Zanzibar

We arrived in ZZ (as I call it) Tuesday afternoon and stayed at a hotel on the beach in Stone Town. Stone Town was the first city on the island of ZZ. Used by Arabs, Portuguese and then Brits as a trading post for slaves and spices. The next day we toured Stone Town to see the market and the old slave trading grounds - now filled up with a church built in the 1860s. My understanding of what our guide was saying was spotty; apparently slaving was bad and then there were some fights over how to stop it. Now it’s pretty much over. Except in the Middle East. According to our guide. Who didn’t seem very enthused about the whole guiding thing. It was about 90 degrees and very humid so we weren’t too enthused about the process either. Especially about the open air meat market where guys were taking big hatchets to heads of bulls. Ole!

Surprisingly quickly, we decided to jump into our air-conditioned car to drive about an hour to the north east side of ZZ where there are miles of beaches. And many resorts. Which are filled with tourists wanting to get good views of the ocean. Which, when you think about it, is likely to be spotted when you go to a beach.

Driving to our resort, reminded me of a story told by an ex-neighbor of ours. When his family drove to a fancy resort in the Dominican Republic, they went past miles of shacks. And their 13 year old daughter cried because she thought they’d be staying in a place similar to what she saw the people living in. Getting to our resort was kinda like that. Only I didn’t cry. (About that. Now, the pitifully slow connection to the internet at our resort was worth crying about. To me.)

The beaches here all have a fringing reef out about a mile from the shore. Where the ocean swells break. So the inner lagoon is quite peaceful. But the beaches have a lot of old coral rock so you have to step carefully on your way out to swim. And the water was about 80 degrees. But at least the sun was hot.

We went snorkeling out to a tiny coral atoll. And there were lots of colorful fish underwater. Which, when you think about it, is probably the best place for fish to be. And we got the backs of our legs very sunburned.

The next day, Friday, we took a spice tour on a farm near the airport. Saw clove bushes and iodine trees, kapok trees, nutmeg trees, durian trees (fruit that "smells like a toilet and tastes like paradise" according to our guide.) Cinnamon trees, ginger plants (Our guide told us ginger is used by the males to help with "horizontal refreshment." If I'm lying, I'm dying.) and stuff I can't remember. Jackfruit trees with the fruit growing right out of the trunk.


We left Zanzibar at 9AM MN time and got back home at 1PM Saturday. So a little more than 17 hours actual flying time and about 9 hours of waiting in airports. A lot of that time was spent straining to hear some sort of flight announcement. Which was either non-existent or sounded like:

Crackle, crackle, crackle. Clearing my throat now. Cough, cough. "Flight to Unintelligible City will be or not be boarding either over there or right here. Boarding might start soon or maybe you've already missed it."

Some of the first things I appreciate seeing back home:

Paved roads with stop signs and traffic signals that are obeyed

Water that's drinkable from the faucet

There's no way to say this in polite company but... toilets that actually flush without having to throw a bucket of water in to, ahem, clean them fully

Being able to get into the passenger side of a car on the right side. Usually, in Tanzania, when I climbed into the front seat passenger side, there was a driver already sitting there. Holding onto a steering wheel. The nerve!

Friday, October 3, 2008

What a Ride!

It seems since the day we met A1 has been trying to get me to go flying with him. Well, after a little bit of bullying and wooing, today was the day. It was a perfect flying day, low winds, clear skies, nervous woman tightly strapped into the back seat. I tried to find a video that would show you what it was like. I think I did, only we weren't in France. Ironically we fly over Valley Fair. I am too afraid of the rides there. It looked tiny from a mile up. We saw a corn maze too. Then we tried some maneuvers like this.

WoW It was fun! And I must say Aaron is a good pilot and a perfect gentleman about it. He said he would cut the engine, dropped the nose and we would spin down toward the ground, if it was ok with me. It was ok, it's nice to be asked. Then he said we would pull 4 G's and head straight up and go all the way over. I said oh, I don't think that sounds like a good idea, but OK! By this time in the evening I have grasped what I have done and I a loss for words. That's different.

Some gas money $75
drammamine 4.99
the bag the drammamine came in- priceless

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Richard and Barb spotted on the Nothern Beach

Tamara, Mel & I had a great day at VE. I came home to find this email, thought I would share.

Tomorrow we go snorkeling. Then leave the next morning. Lots of Europeans here. So we eat at 8PM - only time they serve dinner. And wehave 14 utensils (approx) per meal. Don't know why - it seems to usemore water to wash them. But I guess Euro-fancies like all those utensils. Was it that way when you were in France?You would have loved all the sailboats we saw sailing into port this morning. All of them were the old-fashioned dhows. Hope climbing is going well. I'm writing this at 9:30 PM Wed so I assume it's about 2:30 PM where you are and you're probably at the gym right now.

These are the dhows, I thought it was a typo but it's not that's what they are called.

Wednesdays Rock!

Yep, that is how this all started. Remember we all met...the fun we have had with rocks, real and artificial. Mel-lo, Trigirl and I will be at VE about noon today. We hope to see Amy too. And who ever else that has priorities in line with "Wednesdays Rock" philosophies. It's a walk on a slippery rock, my friends. A Happy Wednesday to all of you.