Monday, March 30, 2009

The Big China Trip

I leave for my big solo trip to China tomorrow morning. I'm either about to have the best time ever or I'm a complete lunatic. (and/or) I should have access to the internet some times and will try to update this blog or Facebook as possible. Some websites get blocked sometimes. I've heard Facebook is intermittent.

I have some goals/missions for my trip
1. Make new friends
2. Spread happiness to those around me
3. Read the Book of Mormon all the way through
4. Learn new truths about the world/people in general or about myself
5. Eat some great Chinese food
6. See some amazing places

Bonus items would be
1. See David Archuletta on my flight or around Hong Kong (apparently he has a concert there on April 6th, but I doubt he's leaving the same time as me, but that would be cool if he did)
2. Asian mullet sighting (Asian mullets are very rare)

If anyone wants to follow my travels via Google Earth, there are some nice pictures linked there for some of these places.
Guangzhou (1-2 days) (visiting friends and checking out where I lived when I taught English there [Clifford Estates])
Yangshou and Longsheng rice Terraces (4 days)(biking, hiking, kayaking, visiting minority villages)
Chengdu (1 day) (checking out the city)
Emei Shan (3 days) (may be called Mt. Emei on Google Earth) (hiking Mount Emei, staying in various monasteries on the mountain, avoiding monkey attacks)
Xian (4 days)(Terra Cotta Warriors, Helen Foster Snow gallery, stuff)
Beijing (5 days)(Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Great Wall [Jinshanling to Simatai], more stuff)


This is what I'm taking, plus some flip flops and the clothes on my back.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Krishna Color Festival

Before


Me, a few friends, and 15,000 other people turned out to the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple to bring in spring with the Color Festival. Someone there said it was the largest gathering in the US this year. I can't quantify that statement though.

There's an article in the SL Trib about the event. http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_12021504
Pretty good youtube coverage. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8EUDMRvRaE
Or you can read up on the festival on Wiki. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holi

For the Spanish Fork festival, there were musicians and dancers to start. The temple is a very beautiful structure. Most people who see it call it a little Taj Mahal. I got separated from most of my group right before the color throwing started because it was a sea of bodies and I'm so short all I could see were chests.

Apparently at about 5:45ish they burned the demon effigy. I didn't see it but all of a sudden there was an explosion of colored chalk in the air. It was actually really pretty once you got used to breathing the chalk dust. There were pink clouds and purple clouds and green clouds. More like colored fog.

It had a faint aromatic scent so the experience was multi-sensory. Everyone was just throwing the colors into the air and at each other. At first I felt a little naughty throwing colored chalk on people but then you just let go and get into it and it's so fun.





After

I did find my peoples again. We stood up by the elephant and threw chalk on new people that were clean. Hahaha. So fun. If you don't want to get dirty, don't go to this festival.

Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare

The chalk actually came of for the most part with some thorough patting and shaking. Apparently my trying to shake it out of my hair caused a great deal of amusement for my friends and many of the carloads of people driving past us. Your all welcome for the show.

"Harder, shake it harder" (as heard from the passing white sedan)

It's a day later and I'm still cleaning pink, orange, and purple colors out of my ears. One of the fun things about the festival was how it brought people together. Not just physical proximity, but everyone is throwing colors and each other even if you don't know each other. Also there is something very equalizing in all being covered in colors. You can't really judge anyone on appearances anymore so you don't. We were just judging people by how awesome their color covering was. People were even being mostly nice to each other as about 10,000 tried to pull out of Spanish Fork at the same time. Lots of good Karma going round.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Moab 1/2 Marathon recap




Had a great weekend in Moab. Started the trip as usual with a stop at the race expo then over to Pasta Jay's for dinner. Had the veggie cannelloni. It was ok. I like the cheesy garlic bread and Kelly's salad was yummy. There aren't really any "great" places to eat in Moab. The thing there is, you're in the middle of no where so you have to take what you get. I've tried most of the places there now. The two places I want to try out still are Edie McStiff's and the pizza place on the other end of the block from Pasta Jay's.

We stayed in a hotel in Moab this year. There were 90 people in our group. Yikes. Eight people per room. It was a little tricky trying to not step on people as we got ready in the morning, but it worked out alright. The race started at 10:00 which is quite late for most races.

This year was much warmer than last year. I just wore my shorts and running tank to the shuttle buses and up at the starting line. It was a little chilly when the wind blowed, but not too bad. On a normal year I would have needed warmer clothing for sure. I saw a couple of ladies in bathrobes. I think if I make it in next year, I'll go get a bathrobe from the DI and use that pre-race.
The race course is amazing. It follows the Green River through a canyon for 11 miles. The last two follow the road into Moab, with a few blocks of residential. The start was nice but miles 4-6 were in the sun and I got hot fast. All I could think about was how much I wanted to shave my head. I could feel the sun beat down on my head. I drank at every aid station and took a second cup of water just to pour on my body each time.

As I recall now, miles 7 through 11 had intermittent shade from the canyon or if not, sometimes slight cloud coverage. I could tell the difference in my performance every time I got out of the sun.

My personal favorite part of the race is the drummers at about mile 11 1/2. There's the last nasty hill before you get there and you're all tired and done from that then you can hear the drums reverberating through the canyon and it gives you that last adrenaline push.

Then you leave the canyon. The last two miles are definitely the hardest. The sun beats down on you and until you turn into the residential area, there's a slight head wind. Last year the wind was stronger, so I did appreciate that it was less windy this time. In the residential zone, there are a few people that turn their sprinklers onto the road for anyone who wants to run through. Love it, love it, love it.
The last two miles were where I lost a lot of time. I stopped to walk a bunch of times. With the heat, the cold I had a week earlier, and my poor training this year, I knew I wasn't going to do great. Also, my lower back started aching which told me I was haunching too much. I'll have to work on my core more. It was actually my longest 1/2 marathon time ever, 2:21:56. I was pretty sad about that, but not really surprised. The good thing is I'm so disappointed with myself that I am going to take that and do better next race. I don't know which 1/2 marathon I'll do next this year, but I am determined to break my 1/2 marathon PR this year (2:08:something). Stretch goal is to run a sub 2 hour 1/2M.

The other thing about not training well is recovery time. I was a bit more sore and stiff than after some other races. Of course you can run 13 miles without good training but you'll make up for not training in the recovery.

Just a few more tidbits from the weekend. The big sand hill across from the arches entrance--excellent. I can't jump very far apparently, but it was still fun. However I would note, if you drive done in there with a non-4wheel drive vehicle, be careful. The Saab got stuck as we (I was driving) tried to get back out.

We got up way early the next morning and hiked to Delicate Arch. It's actually almost cooler at sunrise than at sunset, having done both options now. Not so much the arch but the whole area. The colors are amazing, and the scenery changes constantly. Shadows change, colors brighten. It's like the desert is alive. Beautiful.


Another culinary note, we can't recommend Milt's too much. I just had soft serve ice cream that was good, but it would seem the shakes are not that great. I liked my mushroom swiss burger but the bun was saturated with grease.

Lastly, one of the highlights of the trip as always is the park in Wilmington. I hate to give out this secret but the giant slide and the swings are super. The giant slide doesn't look so bad until you get to the top then it's actually pretty high. I like to do the smaller one first as a warm up.


Jury Duty

I had jury duty this week and was called in for today. I had jury duty in Brigham back when I was attending USU. I was actually picked of that jury and it went to trial. All over in one day. It is really interesting and you learn a lot about our judicial system.

I took trax downtown. Lovely ride. I was going to go to the temple afterwards, so I wore a dress and my knee high boots. I wasn't prepared for the partial strip search when the metal detector went off. I think it was my barrette, but they made me take my boots off and put them through the x-ray machine. Horror, I was Nike exercise socks under the boots. They're warm. So, then I'm hopping down the hall trying to get my boots back on cause there's no where to sit and I'm late now.

We waited in the jury assembly room for a couple of hours. Saw a really awesome jury video copyrighted 1996. Personally I think they should show Law and Order reruns, but whatever. Actually the law TV shows are pretty unrealistic compared to my experiences, but very entertaining. Two groups were excused, but I was in the third group. Eventually we were informed that the defendant to a plea deal and we were free to go.

All I know about the case was it was for child abuse so it probably would have been depressing to hear all that goes on in these things. No loss. I get my $18 for the day either way. Wahoo. Now how to spend it all. :)

Two words you do not want to hear from a homeless person--TB testing. Yikes. I don't think the lady had TB she was just telling me how she has to wait for her test results to be admitted to the homeless shelter. Here's $5 now stand over there til those results are in. Just kidding, I didn't say that. I did think it though. Hopefully she's not just going to blow it on drugs. I gave her my granola bar too so if she does, hopefully she'll at least give the food to her baby. Why do we assume the worst from beggars?

It is still too cold to be out on the streets. I'm just grateful for (and fully realize) how well off I still am compared to a lot of people. I think I can make it at least to Christmas if I don't get a job before I'm homeless. At which time I will be hitting up all friends and family for $5 to stay away from them until I get my TB test results back. :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why I love David Archuletta

The number one reason I love David Archuletta is because his music and his personality and all news about him makes my mom happy. Yesterday was probably the happiest and carefree I've seen my mom in a long time. By the time we were at the concert venue, I'd say giddy was a better describer.

Also I like the little guy cause he's kind of nerdy and awkward. Not as awkward as he used to be, he's definitely coming into the whole showbiz thing. He even admits that he has to remember not to ramble on stage. Bless his heart. I totally get that.

So here's the dish on the concert. We left BC a little early because it had been snowing, and I hate driving in Idaho when they have snow. I've actually sworn I would never drive in Idaho if there is snow, but I had to take that back for one day. The drive was actually just fine and clear there and back. So we went to eat and got to the concert hall like third. I mean we were the third car of people there. Everyone stayed in their cars cause they weren't letting anyone in until 6:30 (it was 5:30). We didn't have anywhere else to go so I played Sudoku and mom made friends with the other "Archies".

Well, we were so lucky as to catch a glimpse of Mr. Archuletta walking from his tour bus to a van. We think they took him to dinner or something. Everyone in the parking lot would have missed it except my mom got out of the car and pointed and yelled that's David. I got a distant pic of it. A few brave girls without coats (it was freezing and windy) started to break for David, but he was gone before they got very far. So then we sat in the car and waited (stalked?) for him to return. We never did see him come back though. Also, I used up the rest of my batteries waiting to paparazzi the kid, so we didn't get pics of the concert. Hahaha.

The concert consisted of 85% girls under the age of 17, 12% women over the age of 25, and the rest were dads and husbands probably dragged there. Bless their hearts. Mom of course made friends with everyone, mom's, teenagers, the works. Some of the older ladies did point and stare a bit when she was jumping with all the teenagers to Gravity, but I say point and stare away you bunch of sticks in the mud. My mama knows how to have a good time. I was still sore from the 1/2 marathon so my quads weren't interested in jumping but I did bounce to the beat.

Fashion note: I discovered the Cindy Lauper net skirt look is on it's way back. So precious.

David is a talented guy. He's so precious though. There is just this sweetness about him. Not the make me sick kind. Like the eat him up like a pastry kind. I like him better live. Overall we give the concert the thumbs up. Was it so good I would go again?..............da da dunnnnnn.............

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Race updates

For all my planning, I did not sign up in time for the Ogden Marathon. I am actually very sad about that. I'm looking for a good Fall marathon instead. I'm considering Portland or St. George. Or another option would be an ultra. An ultra marathon is anything longer than a marathon. Could be 27 miles could be 100 miles. There's an ultra in Goblin Valley. It's 31 miles. It's like I can't remember how hard 26.2 were or something. They also have a half distance.

Current races:

Moab 1/2 marathon (this Saturday)

Wasatch Back Relay (June)

Spudman Tri (pending drawing)

Peach Day's 10k (This will be my 5th straight year. If I can cut about 4 mins off my time I can place for my age division. Hahaha.)

We have a Wasatch Back Relay team together. It's a different team from last year. Everyone is single and everyone's in the late 20's early 30's range. Based on our first team meeting it is going to be fun. We have some crazy fun ladies. The gentlemen runners are all very excited and involved which is awesome. I loved my team last year, so I'm not trying to compare. I'm just really glad the chemistry appears to be working. When you are on your 30th hour into the race in a van full of sweaty, tired people, you want to like them as much as possible. 180 miles is a long way to go if you don't get along. It's amazing what people can do when they work together.

It's a lot fewer races than last year, but with the three weeks in China, that puts my training behind schedule a bit. I'm actually a little more focused on hiking this year too. Besides at least one mountain in China (Emeishan), I plan to hike Timp again and finish the Mount Nebo hike.

Here's a little flashback to 2007:


video

Monday, March 16, 2009

Why not

Jobs are not plentiful. They do not pay well right now. They get hundreds of applicants. That being the case, I've decided to pack my backpack and take off for China for three weeks. I don't have to really worry about the job thing until at least May. Then I can panic.

So, my general plan is land in Hong Kong head to Yangshou/Guilin. Hike, bike, kayak, see some minority villages. Then it's off to Chengdu. I plan to spend three days hiking the Budhist holy mountain Emei Shan. Then catch a train to Xian and see the sights--Terra Cotta warriors, etc. I also want to see the Museum that has the Helen Foster Snow collection. I worked on her manuscript collection when I worked at the BYU Special Collections and got to help host the International Symposium when we finished. Finally, I will go to Beijing where I'm staying with my family's Swedish exchange student from high school. I would really like to hike the Great Wall and stay overnight, but that's pending finding someone to do it with.

Hahaha, let's see what I really am all able to do the 23 days I'm out and about.