Alaska-bound and Other Adventures

Alaska

In a few days the Shacky, Vanessa, Ginger, and Momma caravan will be leaving the familiarity of San Diego to slowly start moving North—Alaska-bound.

This will be the longest Shacky has been outside of California since his Navy days, and for both pets their longest trip outside of California ever. For me, it will be my longest road trip and my very first time through the West coast.

There were mixed emotions for me yesterday when I realized that we probably won’t be back in San Diego until next fall, or possibly later. I’ve been here less than two years, but it very much feels like home. Our friends here feel like family.

Still, we are excited about the prospect of a new adventure. We have good friends yet to meet and favorite trails yet to discover. I’m very nervous about bears, having never seen one in the wild. I’m concerned about Ginger and the cat and the RV—there’s just so much that can go wrong and so many unknowns. We also don’t know what the hell we’re doing. But I suppose that’s the best way to learn!

Soon I’ll be running around with things like bear bells, pepper spray and/or knife…all of which are so foreign to me. I love animals but I’m also a little of scared of them in the wild. This trip should take me way out of my comfort zone.

Speaking of animals, our first few weeks in Alaska will be spent helping out at Steve Krochel’s Wildlife Sanctuary where he adopts and rehabs countless wild animals. On their Facebook page, they show a bear named Kitty and a huge moose you have to climb on a ladder to feed. There’s one more photo that saddens me: a beautiful but dying owl. The caption warns to not use rat poison as a form of pest control. This owl ate a mouse that was poisoned, and it took her life.

We’d like to head to Seward after the animal sanctuary for 4th of July celebrations, then run the Crow Pass marathon in Girdwood in July. After that we’re playing with the idea of running the Resurrection Pass 100. It’s been described as a mostly self-supported race right through bear contry. Gah!

Other things we’re looking forward to is the fishing and possibly hunting, both of which I have zero experience with. The hunting I feel really weird about, which makes me think that I should try it. Although I’ve been sticking to vegan for about six months, I’ve heard you can get bear bacon in Alaska, and I’m not above trying that. I’m also excited to try elk and moose for the first time.

For me this trip will be all about new experiences, new discoveries, and lots of firsts. I’m hoping to do as many things that make me scared or uncomfortable, which so far has been a good theme for my 2013.

Shacky and I will be taking our sweet time driving north, and keeping detailed notes. We’ll start with some runs in Arizona to train for Zion 100 in Utah. After Zion, we’ll keep driving north. I’m particularly excited about driving through (and running) British Colombia. I’ve never seen those rugged parts of Canada, and I suspect I’ll feel right at home.

In other news, I’m a few days away from publishing my first book, a series a memoirs about running. It’s titled The Summit Seeker: Memoirs of a Trail Running Nomad. And I’m 1,000 words into my second book, a close look at ultrarunning from a female perspective. This next one will take much longer to write. I plan on conducting hundreds of interviews and some heavy research. I think it’s going to be a ground-breaking book for this niche topic, and I’m already excited by the responses I’m getting from women at all levels of ultrarunning.

A couple of other new twists have been my little foray into the world of yoga. I have been doing yoga every morning for a few days now, and loving it. A couple of weeks ago I spent some time with my dear friends Caity and Pat, and that was the start of my yoga habit.

I started doing yoga with Caity every morning, also inspired by Angie Bee’s yoga progress. I continued doing it on my own and I’m pleased with the feeling of building my strength. Now that I’ve trained for and completed four 100-milers, I feel comfortable with running high-mileage weeks. But I’m not yet comfortable with a high-yoga week.

SONY DSC

These days I’m trying to keep my running more focused to climbing and descents, while spending more of my time building a stronger core and upper body. I think in the long run, this will go a long way to improve my 100-mile times. Zion should be a good test.

Another morning habit I have is reaching into my bag of peace rocks. My friend Caity took us to Harmony, California when we were visiting her, and I saw they were selling “word rocks”—basically just rocks with words like LOVE and PEACE written on them. I wanted some, but they were pricey, so I decided to make them myself. Here’s what I came up with:

Word Rocks

word rocks 2

Every morning before yoga, I reach into a bag and grab a rock at random. Then I spend my yoga session and the rest of the day thinking about ways to positively reflect that word, and let it seep into my behavior. If I can’t master it, I stick with that word for the next day as well until I feel comfortable with it. The only word I’ve had to repeat so far has been PRESENT. As in, staying in the present.

If I haven’t bored you yet, there’s another little project that has been taking up my time. I have an unofficial 2013 resolution to master as many useless skills as I possibly can in 12 months. It’s a play on the idea that you have to set a resolution to improve your life and really make a positive difference. What if I just want to hang out and learn useless crap? I’m hoping to prove that’s a worthy goal as well.

On the list are things like:

  • Learn to juggle
  • Learn to skip stones
  • Learn to be ambidextrous

But in the end the joke is on me because I’m finding that these “useless” skills are actually quite beneficial.

I bought a Rubik’s cube because I thought solving one could be a useless skill. Then I realized that they have championships and records for the Rubik’s cube. I saw a freaking 20x20x20 Rubik’s cube that took five hours to solve on youtube. I watched in awe. The Rubik’s is just one small example, but I learned that it helps my mind work in a different way, forces me to practice patience, and brings people together (everyone wants to try it). Not useless at all, but pretty cool.

I love the nerd convention here:

Direct YouTube link HERE

Then I started trying to do a handstand, thinking THAT might be a useless skill. But my core is improving, I’m getting stronger, and it’s pushing me into yoga. I feel great. So again, actually quite useful.

At the end of the year, I’d like to put these projects together, record videos, or even write something up about what each of these useless skills have taught me, and how important it is to acquire a new cool skill every so often… just because.

On top of that, we’ve been doing RV renovations to our Rialta. We got a great heater put in, converted our microwave into a storage area, and converted our old TV into a kitty playground. We still have a few final touches to make, then I hope to be posting photos/video soon.

These are exciting times and busy days. Stay tuned for more!

Direct YouTube link HERE

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