Sunday, January 31, 2010

Baby Steps

Today I played soccer in the cold. I forgot how much running in that weather hurts my lungs. I am going to need to invest in a stronger inhaler.

Pulled a muscle in my calf. Low intensity cardio this week.

Was shown some fun practice hiking trails for my trip to North Carolina in May:
Grandfather Mountain
Graveyard Fields Hike
Roan Mountain
Cold Mountain Summit

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.
-Chinese Proverb

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pausing to reflect

Today I bought the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die because I thought it might offer an interesting list of places that I could explore in my future endeavors. However, as I sat down with it I was utterly perturbed to find that, not only had I not been to a significant number of interesting places (23/1000), I had not even been to half of the 13 places mentioned in the state I've lived in for 20 years (4/13).

How have I been living my life? Of course I know that there are other exciting places to see and things to do, but if I have not even seen things that have been within my reach for the past 20 years how can I ever hope to exceed that and reach the rest of the world?

So I am reassessing this blog. This weekend should offer some serious thinking time in which I can reflect on how exactly I can achieve what I want to, and that is literally seeing anything and everything this world has to offer, in the short 80 years it has given me to do so (of which I have already wasted 20).

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the places and moments that take our breath away."

I just keep discovering

more places I want to go

Thursday, January 28, 2010

the most beautiful water I've ever seen

So while paroozing my new favorite website, I came upon the most beautiful water I'd ever seen. It looked a little something like this:

This is Plitvice Lakes National Parks, Croatia. A few years back, my mom told me that Croatia was becoming a new tourist hot spot and I honestly laughed at her. Besides the appeal of it being in eastern Europe, what could Croatia possibly have to attract me? Well, with water like that I would fly over in an instant. There is something about blue that I can't say no to. And this is honestly the most perfect blue I have ever seen. But to be honest, instead of talking about the subject, I'm going to let you read a firsthand account.

Croatia has more than 1,000 islands on the Adriatic Seas
Some of the world's best preserved medieval cities are in Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Parks is the most beautiful park in Europe
A common greeting of the Croats is BOG which is used for hi and bye, but literally means God
Plitvice Lakes has 16 lakes in the national park

“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

Day 2

Strength Training:
Quads: 30 lbs--2 reps of 8
Hamstrings: 30 lbs--3 reps of 10
Squats: 20 lbs--3 reps of 8
Side bends with 6 lb ball--3 reps of 15
Some stupid crunch thing that almost killed me
Cherry pickers with 4 lb ball--25
Intervals-30 minutes
1 mile walk

Tomorrow should be fun

“I am here for a purpose and that purpose is to grow into a mountain, not to shrink to a grain of sand. Henceforth will I apply ALL my efforts to become the highest mountain of all and I will strain my potential until it cries for mercy.”
-Og Mandino

my new favorite website

Everything you might need for traveling

If only my parents were this supportive

this could've been me

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Don't be afraid to try again Everyone goes south Every now and then.

Of all states in the southeast I never expected to enjoy one as much as I did South Carolina. But somewhere in between heat and hicks there happens to be this most beautiful place:

Greenville, South Carolina holds more than just this natural beauty for attraction. It also held a lovely downtown shopping center with a local flavor much like that of any southern college town (like Gainesville). Though the university it holds is far from the large state school located in Columbia, Furman students are lucky enough to enjoy natural parks, plenty of food choices and a nice community feel. Greenville's location in the state (more north than south) keeps it cooler than many places in the middle of the state, and seems to be a little less touristy than Charleston on the coast. It was one of the most enjoyable days of my short summer vacation and I would gladly return for the great atmosphere and the good food.

Greenville is the main shopping destination in the northern part of South Carolina
3 Sister Cities - Bergamo, Italy; Kortrijk Belgium; and Tianjin Free Trade Zone, People's Republic of China.
Textile Capital of the World
Began as part of the Cherokee nation reservation

Not all those who wander are lost - J. R. R. Tolkien

It occurred to me that tracking my progression might be easier if I put actual weights on here.

Arms: 10 lb weights; 3 sets of 10 on biceps, triceps
Intervals: Level 1

Today: Dead

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Strength Training: Arms and Core
Cardio: Intervals for 30 minutes

Truth be told I almost died. I am terrible at staying hydrated, terrible at eating the proper foods, and have terrible stamina. So these are all problems that I recognize and need to work on.

I haven't given much thought to the $5,000 part. I feel like that could be the easiest part. Which worries me. Because what if it doesn't happen and I do all this work for nothing. I think I may need to delay my trip to make sure that I have a clean slate with everyone I usually ask for money. And have time to find people I have never asked before.

Overall not an extremely productive day.

“You cannot see the mountain near”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, January 24, 2010

climb for cancer

Have just been informed of Climb for Cancer. Can think of no better way to invest my three day mountain climbing adventure, than to give back at the same time. Working on scheduling, but looks like it may be August 7-9, 2010. It is amazing how things can work out.

Tomorrow begins Day 1 of workout with cardio. Drinking lots of water tonight.

“Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.”

Welcome to the Caribbean, love.

I am extremely ignorant of the geography about 90 miles south of the state I live in, but upon investigation of the many islands I had to choose from this one really made an impression on me today.

There are a lot of things I am apprehensive about. One thing that truly scares me and fascinates me at the same time is the ocean. Its beauty is nearly unparalleled, in my opinion. The fact that all life emerged from it, that it still holds more life than any other place on earth, and that it is more of the world than anything else, is overwhelming in ways that I cannot even articulate. But the idea that the water, which holds life in its own way, is crushing and capable of consuming a human in a single wave, is what makes this landscape scarier than anything else on this earth to me. I was reading a story about this island earlier, and the author was an avid diver. Diving is something that I have always thought would be amazing, but never something that I have easily been able to say, I would do that. I am perfectly content in the ocean on a boat and out of the water, but something about looking down into an abyss and not being able to see the whole way down...I just can't imagine being on the bottom of that and looking up at the water without a view of the sky.

But if I were ever to be able to dive, I would want to do it in the Caribbean.

Second largest island in the Netherlands Antilles
Dutch is the official language, but another common language is Papiamento (a combination of Portuguese, African, Spanish, Dutch and English)
The island has NO traffic lights
Known for beaches and diving--huge wreck dive off the north
Reputation for some of the best restaurants in the caribbean

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. - Seneca

when life hands you lemons...make them into mountains

Currently to substitute for all forms of working out I don't know how to do or fake, I have come up with the following ideas of how I am going to physically prepare myself for this:
Running stadiums (it's kind of like climbing to the top of a mountain, and on one side the exercises you do are called Gator MOUNTAINS)
Walking anywhere and everywhere I can (it suggests the ability to walk 4-8 hours a day, I'm not sure how I could test if I could walk 8 hours a day but I figure if I am just walking a lot that will eventually equal 8 hours)
Rock climbing at the rock gym
Using the interval setting on the elliptical at the gym
Training with free weights/weight machines
Taking every core class offered between Sunday and Saturday

There are many paths to the top of the mountain, but the view is always the same

Long-term goal: Climb Mt. Everest and scale the Seven Summits (Denali, Mount Kilaminjaro, Mount Everest, Acongua, Mount Vinson, Cartensz Pyramid)
Short-term goal: Mt. Ranier
Location: Seattle, Washington
Cost Breakdown: $800 for the trip; $250 round trip plane ticket; ???? for equipment
Physical conditioning for high altitude climbing: aerobic training, strength conditioning, hiking with a pack
Cardiovascular conditioning: walking on an inclined treadmill, stair stepping, trail running, elliptical, walking up and down hills, step aerobic classes. Suggested to begin with three workouts of 30 minutes and gradually increase to 4-5 at 45-60 minutes.
Strength conditioning: free weights, bands, backpacks, and gym machines. It's important to increase strength especially in the core and legs for climbing while carrying a pack. Start with two full-body strength workouts at 30-45 minutes a week.
Climbing conditioning: Hiking steep outdoor trails with a backpack, increasing the weight as you go. Do interval training to increase your THR to the higher levels for a short period of time and then let it rest. Try to reach about 1500' elevation and then increase to 3500' with a 40 lb pack.
Height: 14,411 ft.

Potential Problems:
Money: $0
Parental support: minimal
Current location: Florida, 151 ft above sea level
Core strength: minimal
Leg strength: moderate
Arm strength: smaller than minimal
Gear: ski goggles
Health problems: altitude sickness, exercise-induced asthma, left-knee problems
Motivation: a strong will and an inability to quit

Here I will track my progress on this trip. It all starts tomorrow when I will call Alpine Ascents and talk to them about when and how I should go about this. If you follow me far enough, maybe I will see you on the mountain.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

We look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation. -Voltaire

There is something magical about walking through a place and knowing that people have walked through the same place for centuries. But I will admit, that I am also somewhat attracted to places with something unusual, and today Dingwall, Scotland wins that award.

Tracing my family lineage back to Mary Queen of Scots I have always been drawn to the castles in Scotland and Wales (of course assuming they would hand me the key to one). But since the last time I went to Europe I spent the entire trip on the tourist map. And while that was a good starting point, I have wanted to return since then to see what life is really like when there aren't millions of cameras clicking and flashing around you on the subway. Scotland has a unique beauty. Its rolling green hills and astonishing historical architecture draws me in every time. It is also only partially a tourist attraction for Americans traveling overseas. The appeal also lies in a country with a coastline as well as a beautiful landscape, something I feel severely cut off from living at the bottom of this large country.

Population ~5,000
Dingwall dates its history back to Norwegian Viking Settlers
It is speculated that Macbeth was born here
It once boasted one of the largest castles in its area
It came under Scottish rule in the 1200s
Called the Viking Capital of Scotland

All of life is a foreign country. -Jack Kerouac

Friday, January 22, 2010

It's hard to imagine a bigger desert oasis than Las Vegas.

Let's be honest, it's Friday afternoon, and for someone born at the end of the school year, my birthday might as well be as much of a dream as this is.

This is one of those places I mentioned earlier that other tourists have been to and I haven't as an American. Of course, as a non-21 year old, it is something I can justify not having visited. But really, I would be perfectly happy being here for a significant amount of time (2 years maybe, after graduation, while I'm still kickin') and being "that friend" who can always put you up in Vegas.

And really, as much as I enjoy nature and the beauty of the mountains and desert, I really flourish in busy places. Sometimes I crave serenity, but I have never felt quite as home as I did in New York City. The constant action, the huge crowds, the lights and insanity; this is how I would live if given the opportunity. Always on. Have a great Friday afternoon and drink one for Las Vegas!

Las Vegas has more than 35 wedding chapels
Year first casino was licensed 1931
Average cost of filing for divorce in Nevada, in dollars 450
Percent of visitors who end up gambling during their stay 87
Annual visitors to Las Vegas, in millions 36.7
The famous Las Vegas Strip is not located in the city of Las Vegas
There is one operating slot machine in Las Vegas for every 8 residents.
Historically, on the average, approximately 230 marriage licenses are issued per day in Las Vegas
More than 5,000 people move into the Las Vegas valley on a monthly basis.

Travel is only glamorous in retrospect. - Paul Theroux

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Difficulties are just things to overcome, after all.

Years ago my teacher forced me to read a book that not only did I not appreciate, but actually hated with every fiber of my being. As a child I was permanently scarred to the point where people talking about Antarctica brought up bad memories. It was only within the last year and a half, when my younger sister read the same book for the same teacher, that I really appreciated the magnitude of what I had read. During the years of Antarctic exploration, Ernest Shackleton will be remembered for his heroic story when he endured an entire winter as his ship become packed in ice and crushed. The miraculous part of his story is that every member of his crew lived to tell about it.

Yesterday, after extensive research on my future trip to Everest, I discovered that one popular adventure trek is around South Georgia Island and the Antarctic peninsula. I couldn't believe this name had popped up in my life again. But this time, instead of bringing dread and anxiety, it brought about a sense of adventure that I have recently been unable to squash. It's amazing to think of a time of exploration, when we really had no idea what lay outside of our immediate surroundings. I feel like personal discovery is becoming rare because anything we want to know we can look up on the internet. But as I embark on this project I find myself feeling as though the internet is inadequate: simply put I want more. I want these experiences. And even if I am not the first the land has seen, it will be the first time I have seen it.

Antarctica is the coldest, windiest, and driest place on earth.
Antarctica is 10% of the earth's land area
The center of Antarctica is the largest desert in the world.
No permanent human residents are known to have ever lived on the continent and even today only temporary scientific communities exist.
The continent has no government and is not owned by any country. Many countries have claimed the continent at one time or another. Currently, a treaty exists that grants the continent its independence from any such claims.
The polar bear does not live anywhere near Antarctica.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference. - Robert Frost

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I must admit, I've never been a fan of the mountains. But I'm not sure who could not be a fan of this...

The highest point on earth. I will admit that not that I've hit the lowest point, it only seems natural to want to achieve it's opposite. And by that I of course mean just seeing it, because with my altitude sickness I will never make it to the top of that.

That's the view from space. I'm still a little bit in awe.

Geographically this earth does some phenomenal things. I don't pretend to be an expert on plate tectonics or the formation of any great natural beauties of this earth, but I think it is fair to say that this can humble a person in much the same way that the Ramon Crater did to me in Israel. One thing that has always been breathtaking about mountains to me is how the same mountain can experience such different climates. Mountains come in every form from snow covered, green, black, glacial, or combinations of those. And they come in ranges. Very rarely do you see a single mountain standing in a landscape, yet so often when we are children that is how we depict them in our imagination. The Everest summit is not anything like I imagined it to be because it is the continuation of another mountain. Which, to put more of our gorgeous earth into perspective, unites us. Mount Everest was discovered by a trek through range after range measuring mountains. They had to cross countries, cultures and landscapes of all sorts to find this mountain that is part of a greater range that physically spans beyond our imagination.

Formed about 60 million years ago
Elevation: 29,035 feet (8850 m)
Fastest ascent: around 16 hours
The mountain is known as the Third Goddess to the TIbetans who believe that the mountains in that area are goddesses who are protecting the earth from devils that destroyed the earth and the third goddess was the bravest, thus rendering her the tallest mountain.

I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list. - Susan Sontag

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A desert is a place without expectation.

I have spent my entire life in a state surrounded on three sides by water. Mountains, plains and snow all turn me off. So imagine my surprise when I entered into a place with fewer than 200 millimeters of rain per year, and not a beach to be found. I suppose you could argue that both places have a lot of sand, but either way all were shocked when I called back and said "My favorite place in Israel is the desert!" My mom said, "ok..." and I promptly responded with, "Did you know there's water and green in the desert?" Perhaps not my brightest moment, but I can honestly say that when I return to Israel this will be the first stop on my trip, and perhaps the last stop when I settle down in life.

When we visited the desert, our tour guide had us sit at one spot and just reflect on everything. She pointed out that the desert is the place where every major character in western religion has had a life changing moment. Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammed all had religious experiences in the desert. Monks used to live in the desert to bring themselves closer to these prophets as well as God. And whether or not you believe in a higher power, there is something very humbling about a place where nothing can live but perpetually survives itself. It is simply a place where you can be, without the distractions you find in other places.

And, as previously mentioned, there are waterfalls and streams in the desert.

Facts about the Negev
There are three craters in the Negev that look as though they were created by a meteor. They were created by the movement of the oceans in the area eroding mountains and hills in the area.
The main city in the Negev desert is that of Beersheva
85% of the desert is used by the IDF as training ground
The canyon of Ein Avdat houses much flora and fauna in the Negev and holds natural springs and waterfalls

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be. - Douglas Adams

Monday, January 18, 2010

it all begins here...

So granted, this may defeat the entire purpose of my travel blog, but I feel like it would be wrong to start with anything other than the most special place on earth to me...exactly where I am.

Of the three places that have more importance to me than any other on this earth, I can honestly say that Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida brings about a spiritual, emotional, mental and life-changing experience more than any other place I have ever been. Yes, I will admit I am a diehard Gator fan. But in this place more than any other, I can just sit and be. Every time I give this tour stop I find myself tearing up. I study there, I run there, I just exist there, and most importantly, I celebrate the best Saturday afternoons of my life there every week of fall semesters. Ok, so it's corny, but if you get the chance, I'd highly recommend visiting one of top stadiums in college football sometime if you get the chance.

Gainesville itself is of course a place very dear to me as well. It is more of a community than anything else, and I am beyond proud to have grown up here.

Fun Facts:
Home to Florida's oldest and largest university
Home to Gatorade-invented at the University of Florida
Famous Residents: (past and present): Bo Didley, Tom Petty, Don Felder, Bernie Leadon, River Phoenix, Malcolm Gets, Harry Crews, Marty Liquori, Gabriel Schwartzman, Peter Taylor, Mary McCauley, Joe Haldeman, Bob Vila, Maya Rudolph, the members of Sister Hazel (Tom Petty went to my high school...Go Canes!)
Sister Cities: Novorossiisk, Russia (since 1982), Kfar Saba, Israel (since 1998), Qalqilya, Palestinian Territories (since 1998), Duhok, Kurdistan, Iraq (since 2006)
Was originally named Hogtowne

So I'm going home, back to the place where I belong, and where your love has always been enough for me. -Daughtry

Don't listen to what they say. Go see.

I am not going to lie, I am not a traveler. I am more like a stayer. I would love to travel, but there are always things standing in my way. Money, fear of flying (fear=phobia), fear of the unknown, inability to leave things behind, etc. I have traveled a little bit, around the states, Canada, Brazil, some of Europe and recently Israel, but unfortunately it has been very sparse and limited. I was excited to figure out that I had been to four continents, but unexcited to realize that I had been nowhere on the tourist map of the USA (besides Miami to fly in and out).

So I decided every day this semester I will highlight somewhere I would like to go. Maybe by doing so, I will find out enough information to actually make it to these places and eventually become the world traveler I hope to be.

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. -Saint Augustine