Tag Archives: Summer

Tour de Fat does bad things to good people

This title is a quote thanks to Jessica and her Facebook status. Tour de Fat is a magical bicycle parade, which occurs but once every year. It is an event created by New Belgium Brewing Company in order to celebrate bike culture in cities across the U.S. There is music and other forms of entertainment, food from local restaurants and, of course, beer. It is one of those affairs in which pictures speak much louder than words.

The parade started at 10am on September 1, here in Fort Collins, CO.

This is me with a store-brand Otter Pop (and yes that is a small child’s Disney’s Cinderella dress)

We biked and I took pictures (sorry for the blurriness/hair/angles, like I said I was taking pictures and biking at the same time)

We then encountered THE MOB! (Run! Don’t walk! From the mob…)

And this puppy in a backpack…

And this really awesome bike…

And Spongebob Squarepants, Patrick Star and Sheldon Plankton blowing bubbles…

And The Addams Family

And this sign: “$3-$5 to pee in the trees on Hitler/Stalin“…

Really it was a pretty awesome collection of people.

*Begin Part 2* The cast of characters switches at this point as I changed friends, (except that guy on the end with the pink boa… he is a photo bomber and definitely not my friend).

This is Jenna, she wins best costume of the century…

We went to Ben & Jerry’s

Then we sat in the shade and people watched

We met Tinky Winky

Listened to the port-a-potty karaoke

And my man thong quota for my whole life was filled (I am deeply sorry for having to expose you to this)…

And that my friends, is what Tour de Fat is all about (well not the directly above ^^^ but the collection of ALL of the above).

And after all this fun guess what I got to do?! If you said, “You went to Old Chicago, ate awesome pizza, and watched CSU beat CU in football,” then you are correct. The prize is I will remove the man thong image from your view. You’re welcome.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

Have you ever participated in Tour de Fat?

Heart Friendship Bracelet

When I was an adorable, little, red-headed girl, with fat cheeks, and freckles in numbers rivaling stars in the sky (okay I still look like that 😉 ) I was a Girl Scout. I went to Girl Scout day camp and Girl Scout overnight camp and Girl Scout meetings (and I sold Girl Scout cookies!). While I learned many the great things they teach you in Girl Scouts, one thing I will probably never be able to forget is how to make friendship bracelets. That muscle memory stuff is great isn’t it, especially considering friendship bracelets are now sold in store (what?) for $15 (what?!).

So, since we all know just how much I love making things myself I will go through the mantra again:

  1. you get to choose your own preference…
  2. you spend less money… and
  3. you form a deeper connection with the things you own because you crafted it with your own two hands.

This tutorial walks you through the steps of making a friendship bracelet with a heart pattern. Enjoy!

To start you need to cut your strings. Pick two colors. Hold your arms straight out perpendicular to your body, from fingertip to fingertip is how long your string should be. Cut four strands, two for each color. Fold the string in half take the fold and make a knot close to the end. This loop will be used to clasp the bracelet, so make it small but big enough that a knot can go through.

Tape your strings down to a flat surface (or if your old school  safety pin then to your jeans), so that it is tightly secured. Order your strings the same as in the image above. Whichever color is on the outside will be the color of your hearts. Number the position of the strings from left to right 1-8.

Now, I would like to explain the knot… There is the going left knot and the going right knot.

*Tip: The illustrations below show on top both knots going forward and below that one knot going forward and one going backward. I noticed that two of my heart strings got more use than the other two. When you are knotting one pink around another, you can switch the dominant strings using the bottom illustration knot.

To go right take the string in the number one position, lay it over the second string take it back under the second string and pull it through the loop.

Going left is the same process as going right; only you wrap the eighth string around the seventh string in the opposite direction.

Each time you make a knot you will do this knot twice.

  1. Like I said you will have your string laid out in the order shown.
  2. Take string 1 and knot it twice around string 2 then string 3 and finally 4. Then, take string 8 and knot it around string 7, string 6 and finally string 5. Finally knot the middle strings together (going left or right, it doesn’t matter)
  3. Follow the same steps as above for the next row with the second color.
  4. Now take the second string and knot it going left around the first string and the seventh string going right around the eighth.
  5. Fill in the space by taking the second string and knotting it (going right) around strings 3 and 4 and the seventh string (going left) around strings 6 and 5.
  6. Now again take the second string and knot it going left around the first string and the seventh string going right around the eighth.
  7. Fill in the space again by taking the second string and knotting it (going right) around strings 3 and 4 and the seventh string (going left) around strings 6 and 5.
  8. Knot string 1 and 2-4 (going right) and string 8 around 7-5 (going left). This is step 1 again completing the heart.
  9. Repeat step 2-8 until the bracelet is the length you like (I usually do about 52 rows).

Now that you know the basic know you can do many patterns. Try one on the friendship bracelet website.

“Make new Friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold. A circle’s round, it has no end. That’s how long I want to be your friend.”

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade

As you probably know by now I love summertime and I have a lot of favorite things about summer. It’ll be at least four more posts before I stop saying THIS is my favorite thing about summer so bear with me. I love going to Starbucks in the summer for a grande passion tea lemonade with one pump; it’s a guilty pleasure. But I don’t love the price that could very easily empty my bank account.

SO I asked them what tea they use in their passion tea lemonade and they told me (It’s Tazo the Starbucks tea brand and they actually sell it at the store).

You can get this kind that’s iced tea ready (make a bunch at once and store it in the pitcher in the fridge). Or they sell a box of individual servings (make it one cup at a time). At Target it was $4.95 (same as a box at Starbucks) but in an online search I found it for a little cheaper.

After drinking it a little I realized it was very similar to the Celestial Seasonings tea I bought at the factory for $2.85.

The Celestial Seasonings version is already sweetened using Stevia, which I’m still not completely sold on but my research tells me that the claims are true. I’ll let you make up your own mind about it.

Anyway, to make the Starbucks version of the delicious pink drink is quite simple. Make the tea according to the package, juice some lemons, add a little of your preferred sweetener (if you like it sweetened), chill in the fridge, enjoy!

 

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

The Hobbit

I think there is rather a lot of hobbit in each of us. I don’t mean in appearance as the race of hobbits are half as tall as men, are round and plump, and have fuzzy, leathery feet, which help them to disappear quietly and quickly when trouble comes along. I really mean the ordinariness of them. Bilbo Baggins, lives very comfortably in his quiet hobbit hole, burrowed into a hill: The Hill, Hobbiton, The Shire. He likes to take at least two breakfasts every day, an early and a late one, and smoke a pipe of tobacco sitting at ease on the doorstep by his own round, green, front door.

Actually, that is exactly what he is doing a the beginning of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Bilbo is smoking his pipe when his ordinary day at his ordinary home is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of an old family friend: the wizard Gandalf the Grey. Bilbo is persuaded to accomplany 12 dwarves (Thorin Oakenshiled, Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Dwalin, Balin, Dori, Nori, Ori, Bifur, Bofur and Bombur) on a quest to reclaim stolen treasure from Smaug, the marauding dragon. Bilbo’s role is to be as “burglar,” a role that neither dwarves nor Bilbo himself believe him capable of. Only Gandalf, and his claim that there is more to the little hobbit than meets the eye, reassures the party.

Bilbo, who has lived in happy ignorance of the happenings in the rest of the world, is about to discover the evils and marvels that occupy the Wild. He encounters trolls, obtains a magic blade, which he later calls Sting, rests with the high elves in Rivendell, escapes goblins in the Misty Mountains, outwits Gollum, a vile, hissing creature, and comes across a magic ring.

You see, this ring can make the wearer invisible and Bilbo uses it (not fully understanding the power) to escape Gollum, the goblins and the underground tunnels through the mountains. This is the first time Bilbo doesn’t rely on Gandalf for rescue; though he still views himself as ordinary, Bilbo the Ring Finder has a very special part to play yet in the great events which shape his world.

He rejoins Gandalf and the dwarves. Evil wolves called Wargs pursue them, but Bilbo and his comrades are helped to safety by a group of great eagles. They visit Beorn, a creature who can shift his shape from man to bear, at his home before beginning their journey through the dark forest of Mirkwood.

Gandalf leaves the party to see to some other business involving the Necromancer just before they enter Mirkwood. Bilbo rescues the dwarves from many dangers in the forest. The dwarves call it luck but I believe that as Bilbo’s adventures unfold he become a rather different kind of hobbit. He learns to rely on himself and stops hoping for outside help. Gandalf, always seeming to know more than he reveals, was right: Bilbo was the right hobbit for the job. As his self-confidence and keen judgement increase he plays an increasingly significant part in the great events, which unfold on the journey to the Lonely Mountain, to Smaug, and to his hoard.

This is a tale that seems to grow in the telling. The characters, while seemingly lifted from fairy tales, have real motives and emotions, which are entirely compelling. Bilbo began as a somewhat unlikeable homebody and grows into the most lovable, courageous, and decent character in the story. And while, Bilbo again and again daydreams of being home by his quiet fire, smoking his pipe on the front step, or preparing a grand meal, his return home turns out to be bittersweet.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

Who’s excited for the movie this December?

Every Book In the Entire World

Many of you might know that my first project this summer was my patio garden and the hanging gutter garden. Now that my only responsibility in the garden is to water once or twice a day and harvest what comes up, I’ve been working on my next project: reading.

I was inspired to read ALL the books after reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (***UPDATE*** read the review here) to read because she has a goal to read all the book in her library starting with A and ending with Z. I’m taking the opportunity to start now.

Over the years (since high school or maybe earlier) I’ve kept lists of books I want to read. Some can be found on odd bits of paper, other on my Pinterest board and still more in notebooks. I finally compiled all of these lists into one massive list, and I mean MASSIVE. It’s an excel spread sheet with tabs for which list the books came from and is conditionally formatted so that once I’ve read the book the box will change color (I have a lot of time on my hands).

Some of the books are classics, some are modern, there are fiction and non-fiction, poetry and history and everything else you can think of and I will be reading, quite literally, until I die.

I don’t just want to read the books; I want to analyze them as well. The way I did in high school, which is why I am also planning to write reviews for each book as I finish it and post it here, on my blog. The first one was Life of Pi (read it here). I also wrote a bit about Harry Potter (read it here). So that’s the plan.

 If you’re interested in my books lists…

Books that were recommended to me by friends, family, professors and/or my own bookshelf:

Websites with other booklists:

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

What’s on your book list? What is your favorite book?

Summer Lovin’

I was riding my bike over to CSU campus. My mission was to deliver my boyfriends Kindle Fire to him at work. It’s about a 15-minute bike ride from our house along a bike path. I was suddenly struck by inspiration on this ride, like lightening… it was electrifying. My discovery was that I love summer. I mean I already knew that I love summer but I never knew exactly what it was about summer that I love.

I love riding my bike. There is nothing as freeing as riding a bike. The wind in my hair, my own two legs propelling me forward, a quick smile or a wave to those I pass along the way. Summer is the best time for bike rides, no ice, no rain, no gloves, no coat; only warm temperatures and sun on skin.

I love riding my bike close to the edge of the grass, where the sprinklers miss their target and droplets land on the sidewalk. It’s a refreshing burst in the heat of the afternoon when those droplets hit bare legs and arms. There’s nothing quite like that feeling.

I love the smell of a black as night, freshly re-paved parking lot baking in the sun. To me it smells slightly minty; I can’t describe it in any other way. Not the mint you smell in chewing gum or tea leaves, but it’s own unique kind of minty. And it’s so black you can almost see your reflection shining in it. The heat waves rise up from the tar, making everything look hazy. Some might say it’s so hot you could cook an egg on it. The air temperature above the pavement is noticeably warmer than anywhere else around you, and you let it embrace you as you race across.

I love the greenness of the environment. Everything seems to be pulsing with life, growing and changing. I stretch out over grass in the shade of a big elm tree staring up through the leaves at the patches of a blue sky. Fluffy white clouds pass overhead creating shapes and telling stories.

I love having an open schedule with full days I can devote to reading a book. Not a book required for my college education but one I choose to read for a different kind of education.

Pinterest (original source lost)

I love the heat bouncing off the sidewalk, the sweat running down my back, the tank tops and shorts, the sandals, the nighttime bonfires, the chilly showers after lunch, the pool days, my garden, picnics in the mountains, the smell of sunscreen, the frappuccinos, the flowers, the swim suits, etc. etc. etc.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

Ah, the joys of summer. What’s your favorite season?

Life of Pi

I’ve never been shipwrecked, or out at sea for that matter. But author Yann Matel has written a story that made me experience the hunger, and the thirst, the cold, and the heat, the dryness, and the wetness, the fear, and the joy, the disgust, and the beauty of being lost at sea in his novel Life of Pi. The story, which is centered around antagonist, Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel is broken into three parts all told through the eyes of a middle-aged Pi Patel: Pi’s childhood, Pi’s experience in the open sea, and Pi’s conversation with Japanese officials.

I love this book because all the events throughout the story, set in 1977, are so unbelievable that you can’t help but want to believe them. The story-telling is so fantastic that even in the face of doubt you trust his story. I feel what Pi feels, see what Pi sees, smell what Pi smells, and I believe it to be true.

In a question and answer session with Yann Martel, he says that he loves the idea of the name Pi as a nickname for Piscine. Pi tells us the story of his name: his uncle was a lover of swimming and talked of the pools in France, one called “Piscine Molitar“. Martel says, “I liked the irony of a boy named after a rational volume of water being adrift in an uncontrollable volume of water, the Pacific.” Pi spends years of his childhood teased about this name, (sounds like “pissing”) so that when he switches schools he decides to call himself Pi, after the Greek letter used by mathematicians to stand in for an irrational number. Martel says it stuck him that a number used to bring understanding could be called irrational, which is how he sees religion as well: something irrational that helps make sense of things.

Pi was born Hindu, but at 14 he was introduced to Christianity and Islam. He follows all three of these religions because he just “wants to love God.” Pi is searching for meaning in the world and he looks through the lenses of these three religions to help him find perspective on this journey. He sees a portion of truth and a portion of error with each religion but all have similar messages for him.

Pi’s father owns a zoo in Pondicerry, which has provided Pi with a gateway into animal psychology during his youth. When his family decides to sell their animals and move to Canada due to political concerns in India, they board a small Japanese freighter carrying some of their animals. So begins part two of the story.

A few days after leaving India the ship sinks. Pi ends up in a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker, A spotted hyena, an injured zebra and an orangutan: the only survivors.

During the first few days of Pi’s voyage in open seas he witnesses heinous violence from the hyena, which eats the still living zebra bit-by-bit. The hyena also kills the orangutan in a vicious manner. Then Richard Parker kills the hyena, leaving Pi alone with a 400-pound tiger.

Pi finds food, water and supplies in the lifeboat; steadily the supplies run out and he begins fishing. Pi feeds himself and Richard Parker, he wants to keep Richard Parker alive to avoid complete solitude, but he also know that he cannot outlast Richard Parker and he wants to avoid being eaten. Pi refers to his knowledge of animal psychology and decides he must make sure Richard Parker knows that Pi is the alpha and Richard Parker the omega animal, this way he can keep his territory and hopefully stay alive. He goes through many training sessions with Richard Parker using a whistle, treats, and seasickness to drive the point home.

The story gets very bleak when both Pi and Richard Parker become blind. I believe this was due to bad nutrition and excessive exposure to sun. During his blindness Pi encounters another blind seafarer, a French man with an obsession for meat. Pi naïvely welcomes the man into his boat where the man reveals his cannibalistic nature and becomes a snack for dear old Richard Parker. Two days, and much rinsing with salt water, bring back Pi’s sight.

Then comes the strangest part yet. The pair encounter a mysterious island, seemingly constructed of edible algae supporting a forest and a large population of meercats. Each day Richard Parker and Pi venture onto the island and each night they return to their lifeboat. One night Pi decides to stay on the island at night and sleeps in a tree, which is quickly over run by meercats who also sleep in the trees. When Pi discovers a “fruit” in the tree with a single human molar at the center he discovers the carnivorous nature of the algae and becomes frightened of it. Richard Parker and Pi return to their lifeboat and continue on their way.

Finally the lifeboat reaches the coast of Mexico where Richard Parker escapes into the jungle without so much as a goodbye. Pi is disappointed by this unceremonious departure but is quickly found by his rescuers.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

*****Read on at your own risk*****

***You’ve been warned!***

Part three of the story is written like a transcript of an interview (because that is what it is). Two official from the Japanese maritime department question Pi about the sinking of the ship. Pi tells them his story, which they do not believe. In hopes of having his suffering validated, he tells them a second story without the animals. He recounts a story of human brutality, being adrift on a lifeboat with his mother, a sailor with a broken leg, and the ship’s French cook, who killed the sailor and Pi’s mother and cut them up to use as bait and food. Parallels to Pi’s first story lead the Japanese officials to believe that the orangutan represents his mother, the zebra represents the sailor, the hyena represents the cook, and Richard Parker is Pi himself.

After revealing that neither version of Pi’s story ascertains why the ship sank, and that no one can really know the truth, Pi asks which version the officers prefer. They both prefer the version with the animals to the version without animals. Pi thanks them and says, “and so it goes with God.”

Martel shares that he wrote the story to become more and more unbelievable as it goes on. He says that he understands readers will have doubts but hopes they will choose the first story as the better story. For that reason he included something unbelievable in the story we choose to believe.

To me it is interesting that Martel included a cannibalistic Frenchman in both versions of the story. If you interpret his appearance in the first story, when Pi is blind, he might appear to be a ghost of the French cook Pi killed in the second story. Just a thought.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

Have you read Life of Pi? What are your interpretations? 

Small Space Gardening on a Budget

My Grandpa bought me a book called In a Japanese Garden by Charmaine Aserappa with original woodcuts by Akiko Maomura for my birthday. It is full of short phrases about each component of a Japanese garden and a corresponding image (woodcut).  At the end there is a description of Japanese gardens and what they mean, “not merely decorative, but meticulously designed and maintained as meditative spaces for contemplation, refreshment and reflection.” I hope I can find both refreshment and order in my garden space.

If you’ve read my other posts you may know that this summer my biggest project has been my balcony garden. It all began with the Hanging Gutter Garden Part 1 and Part 2. While the gutter garden was certainly the most intensive of my projects this summer, it was not the only one.  You may remember this flower tower mentioned in this post; let me tell you how I made my version.

My Version

Materials:

  • Decreasing sizes of pots – you can use any number of pots I used four (they should have holes in the bottom).  I got the three terra cotta pots from Michael’s for fairly cheap (sale + coupons) and the big plastic pot from WalMart for about $7 bucks and I didn’t need to buy a water collection dish because it has it’s own draining mechanism built it.
  • Long metal rod – I used one of those threaded rods they have at Home Depot. I will be the first to admit that I have no idea what it’s actually for but it was cheaper than buying rebar (and I didn’t have to cut it).
  • Plants – I lucked out because the King Soopers had a big sale on flowers (10 4-packs for $10) I also bought the potato vines for about $2.50 because I love the way they look. Any annuals will do, you could even plant edible plants or herbs.
  • Soil – I used some with water beads since it’s been so dry, but any kind will do.

You start by filling the base pot half-full with soil. Stick the rod in the center, slide the next pot down the rod.  Fill that pot halfway with soil and repeat the process with the remaining pots. If the rod sticks out the top, simply add more soil between pots. Then plant your flowers or what have you as you normally would. Simple right?

“Be the bud. Prepare to blossom.”

The remaining flowers are planted in flowerpots around the railings.

“Be the gardener. Create order.”

I also mentioned that I wanted to plant tomatoes and peppers in pots. I used water walls to increase their growing season. Here are my results.

I used fallen branches as support (free vs. not free… I choose free)

This is the third ripe tomato so far

My First Pepper

My strawberry plant is in a hanging basket. It’s been doing well, only the birds keep getting the fruit before I do. I would mind more if they weren’t so dang cute and didn’t sing such pretty songs to me while I drink my tea in the morning.

I also ended up planting peas from seed using this tutorial. They started out growing like mad; I harvested two bowls of peas in their peak. However, it turns out container gardening is quite difficult.  I think I over-watered them causing their roots to run out of oxygen and rot, finally they started dying off. I’m too embarrassed to share the picture. On the bright side there is some re-growth now that the soil has dried out a bit.

The final addition to my farm was sort of last minute. I had an extra pot and some carrot seeds so I planted them in the pot. I’ve never heard of this being done and this is crazy (but here’s my number, so call me maybe). Anyway we’ll see how it turns out; all I have at the moment is greens. I did a thinning last week so hopefully the carrots start being carrots.

My watering can is in the front (isn’t it cute?). The carrots are in the terra cotta pot just behind the watering can.

As for this project, I couldn’t figure out a way to stabilize it. I think the best way would be to drive the rebar deep into the ground.  Well I don’t have ground, I have concrete and a wooden railing.  I scratched that project but my grandmother found these cute colorful pots at the dollar store.  She bought a bunch and I am using them for herbs (I realize now this is better because I can bring them inside this winter). P.S. Notice the tomato on the window sill through the window. 🙂

“Be the seasons. Welcome change.”
From left to right: dill, cilantro (used to be cilantro), spearmint, lemon balm, oregano, basil, spring onions
They sit on my air conditioner

Rosemary Bush

I wanted a way to enjoy my space so I have been keeping my eyes open for a small-ish patio set.  This bistro set caught my eye at Home Depot. At that point I told my parents about it and guess what I got for my birthday? Well see for yourself.

It didn’t come with the cushions, those were a separate gift from my grandparents

You can see the grill in the background; Reid has wanted a grill since, as long as I’ve known him (and we just celebrated our 3 year anniversary last week). We found this charcoal grill at a flea market in south (SOUTH) Fort Collins for $12.  One night he was grilling as the sun was setting and it started getting too dark for him to see. He used his camping headlamp that night but the next day he went out and got a strand of lights to hang from the ceiling. Now it feels like an outdoor café.

“Be the moth. Seek the light.
Be the lantern. Guide the lost.”

We also found two wind chimes (and I made a third)

“Be the wind chime. Let the breeze blow through you. Turn the storms into song.”

Now that all the hard work is done I have had the chance to relax in and enjoy the space. We eat dinner at our café, I read books in the morning with my breakfast and tea, and I tend and water the plants (the best part of container gardening is that there are no weeds, only insect pests). Though it took most of my savings to set it up I have no regrets about the rewarding outcome. My first real experience with gardening has overall been successful, maybe not bountiful, but successful none-the-less.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

Leave a comment; I need all the advice I can get. What are your best gardening tips?

15 Things I Learned From Harry Potter

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling has been a big part of my life ever since I read the first books in third grade. I have devoured the series more times than I can count, soaked in the movies (which I love however disappointed I was in most of them), and researched every drop of information I can sponge up. You can imagine that something that I can still honestly say I adore, more than 13 years later must have given something to my soul. Harry, Ron and Hermione are my family, Dumbledore, Ginny, Luna, Neville, Snape, McGonagall, Hagrid, Dobby, Fang, Sirius, Lupin, Fred, George, Seamus, Dean, Lavender, Parvati, Molly, Arthur, Bill, Charlie, Percy, Fleur, Victor, Lee, Cedric, Tonks, Mad-Eye, Angelina, Katie, Alicia, etc. etc. etc. They’re all are my friends. They will live in my heart. After all this time. Always.

So the list begins…

1. Don’t Fear the Reaper

Death is a theme, particularly emphasized in the Harry Potter books. Harry, who was orphaned as a baby, has led a life that has been considerably influenced by Death. Gradually as Harry grows and evolves into a man his journey takes him to a place where death is not something to be feared. After all, a fear of death is what led to the Hogwarts ghosts, something Harry realizes when Sirius Black dies.

Source: Book Chapter Art

In the great words of Albus Dumbledore, two quotes:
“To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.”
“Do not pity the dead, Harry. Pity the living, and, above all, those who live without love.”

2. Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Severus Snape, the Potions Master at Hogwarts is the best example of this; he is presented as the sneering, bullying villain with a vendetta against Harry. When his motivations are revealed in the Deathly Hallows we learn that his actions were born out of love rather than hate (or mostly love).

Dumbledore: “After all this time?” (Referring to his love for Lily Evans, later Lily Potter)
“Always.” said Snape.

3. Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

After six books of bickering, pining, sulking and pretending to be indifferent toward each other, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger finally share a passionate kiss in the Deathly Hallows.

There was a clatter as the basilisk fangs cascaded out of Hermione’s arms. Running at Ron, she flung them around his neck and kissed him full on the mouth. Ron threw away the fangs and broomstick he was holding and responded with such enthusiasm that he lifted Hermione off her feet.
“Is this the moment?” Harry asked weakly, and when nothing happened except that Ron and Hermione gripped each other still more firmly and swayed on the spot, he raised his voice. “OI! There’s a war going on here!”
Ron and Hermione broke apart, their arms still around each other.
“I know, mate,” said Ron… “so it’s now or never, isn’t it?”

4. Sometimes You Can’t Make it On Your Own

Harry, throughout the series, continually feels (sometimes aggravatingly) that he must face his destiny alone, only to have his friends prove invaluable. In the Sorceror’s Stone, Ron and Hermione use their respective abilities of chess-playing and logic to help Harry through to the stone. And how can we forget Ron and Hermione’s defiance about helping Harry collect and destroy Horcruxes?

Source: Book Chapter Art

“We’ll be there, Harry,” said Ron…
“No—“ said Harry quickly…he was undertaking this dangerous journey alone.
“You said to us once before,” said Hermione quietly, “that there was a time to turn back if we wanted to. We’ve had time, haven’t we?”
“We’re with you whatever happens,” said Ron.

5. Decisions, Decisions

Harry and Tom Riddle, both extraordinarily proficient wizards, led different lives not based on their skills but rather on the various choices they made along the way. Harry makes the choice to become a Gryffindor (rather than a Slytherin) when he puts on the sorting hat because he trusts his new friendship with Ron. Tom uses the Slytherin house, his irresistible charm, and his desire for power, which led him down a dark path.

Source: Book Chapter Art

Harry gripped the edges of the stool and thought, Not Slytherin, not Slytherin.
“Not Slytherin, eh?” said the small voice. “Are you sure? You could be great, you know, it’s all here in your head, and Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, no doubt about that— no? Well if you’re sure—better be GRYFFINDOR!”
Also a quote from Dumbledore: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”

6. The Power of Love

His inability either to love or to fathom its power is what prevents Voldemort from killing Harry from the beginning. Harry’s father, James, died in a fight while his mother, Lily, died protecting baby Harry.

Yet another quote from our favorite wizard, Dumbledore: “If there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didn’t realize that love as powerful as your mother’s for you leaves its own mark.”

7. The Easy Way Out

Choices are an integral part of any good story. In Harry Potter we find that the more difficult choice are inevitably the right choice, which must be made. Voldemort’s rise to power is the result of those facing him choosing the easy option (to live under his rule, rather than fight or perish). Cornelius Fudge’s refusal to admit the return of Voldemort was easier than preparing for the first stages of war.

Another wise Dumbledore quote “We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

8. Hell Hath No Fury, Like a Woman Scorned

This is made perfectly evident by the reaction Hermione has to Lavender Brown and Ron’s (short-lived) romance.

The door behind them burst open. To Harry’s horror, Ron came in, laughing, pulling Lavender by the hand…
“Oops!” said Lavender, and she backed out of the room, giggling…
Hermione slid off the desk. The little flock of golden birds continued to twitter in circles around her head…
“You shouldn’t leave Lavender waiting outside,” she said quietly…
She walked very slowly and erectly toward the door. Harry glanced at Ron who looked relieved that nothing worse had happened.
“Oppugno!” came a shriek from the doorway.
Harry spun around to see Hermione pointing her wand at Ron, her expression wild: The little flock of bird speeding like a hail of fat golden bullets toward Ron, who yelped and covered his face with his hands, but the birds attacked, pecking and clawing at every bit of flesh they could reach.

9. Heart’s Desire

The Mirror of Erised shows those who look upon it the “deepest and most desperate desires of one’s heart. It is presented as a device with a destructive, almost maddening influence on the beholder. While when Harry’s sees his parents at first it is a comfort to him, he begins to become obsessed with the mirror, until Dumbledore is forced to step in.

One more quote from Dumbledore, that sage old wizard: “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember, that.”

10. Money Can’t Buy Me Love

The Weasley family has hardly two knuts to rub together, and yet Rowling presents them as the happiest and most loving of all her characters. The Malfoys on the other hand are rolling in galleons, and yet they spend much of the saga wracked with guilt, worry and anxiety.

“…my name is Malfoy, Draco Malfoy.”
Ron gave a slight cough, which might have been hiding a snigger. Draco Malfoy looked at him.
“Think my name’s funny, do you? No need to ask who you are. My father told me all the Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children than they can afford.”

11. Fear Can Be Conquered

During Remus Lupin’s time as Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, he explains that the reason Harry suffers so much in the presence of the Dementors is because of his fear of fear. In time, Harry masters his fear, and the art of the Patronus charm, using focus and determination (and a memory he isn’t even sure is real).

“I assumed that if the Boggart faced you, it would assume the shape of Lord Voldemort.”
Harry stared…
“Clearly, I was wrong,” said Lupin, still frowning at Harry. “But I didn’t think it a good idea for Lord Voldemort to materialise in the staff room. I imagined that people would panic.”
“I did think of Voldemort first,” said Harry honestly. “But then I – I remembered those Dementors.”
“I see,” said Lupin thoughtfully. “Well, well… I’m impressed.” He smiled slightly at the look of surprise on Harry’s face. “That suggests that what you fear most of all is – fear. Very wise, Harry.”

12. Protect the Nest

Even with her evil reputation, Bellatrix Lestrange makes a critical error when she threatens to kill Ginny Weasley. Molly Weasley might have seen one child die at the battle of Hogwarts, but when threatened again she proves that she won’t let ANYONE repeat that trick.

“NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!”…”OUT OF MY WAY!” Shouted Mrs. Weasley… “No!!” Mrs. Weasley cried as a few students ran forward, trying to come to her aid. “Get back! Get back! She is mine!”
“What will happen to your children when I’ve killed you?” taunted Bellatrix… capering as Molly’s curses danced around her. “When Mummy’s gone the same way as Freddie?”
“You — will — never — touch — our — children — again!” screamed Mrs. Weasley…
Molly’s curse soared beneath Bellatrix’s outstretched arm and hit her squarely in the chest, directly over her heart… and then she toppled…

13. Diversity is Might

Where Voldemort might tell you “Magic is Might,” I say “Diversity is Might.” Throughout the saga, Harry finds himself befriending society’s outcasts, again and again. There’s Rubeus Hagrid the half-giant, Dobby a house-elf, Firenze a centaur, and “Loony” Luna Lovegood who lives by her own rules. Even Griphook, a goblin who might not be considered a friend, helps Harry because of his reputation for loving all beings. These are the characters who often dig Harry and his friends out of the tightest situations.

Source: Book Chapter Art

“You dirty little monkey!” bawled Bellatrix. “How dare you take a witch’s wand, how dare you defy your masters?”
“Dobby has no master!” squealed the elf. “Dobby is a free elf, and Dobby has come to save Harry Potter and his friends!”

14. Treat All With Kindness

Along the same lines as number thirteen, Harry treated every being he met with the same kindness no matter their social standing, when they deserved it. (Dolores Umbridge, and Draco Malfoy are notable exceptions, also, Voldemort, of course). Kreacher, the Black family house elf, helps Harry because Harry was kind to him, Sirius’s mistreatment of Kreacher led ultimately to his death.

Source: Book Chapter Art

“I warned Sirius when we adopted twelve Grimmauld Place as our headquarters that Kreacher must be treated with kindness and respect. I also told him that Kreacher could be dangerous to us. I do not think that Sirius took me very seriously, or that he ever saw Kreacher as a being with feelings as acute as a human’s.” (One last Dumbledore quote)

15. When You Believe

Self-confidence is presented as a key component in magical prophecy. We watch Neville Longbottom’s journey from the very first book, in which he is a hopeless wizard due to low self-esteem brought on from his grandmother. As he grows older and begins to be self-assured he matures into one of the most important figures in the story.

Couldn’t resist using this photo 😉
Source: http://leverredelamode.tumblr.com/

Voldemort: “You show spirit and bravery, and you come of noble stock. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Neville Longbottom.”
“I’ll join you when hell freezes over,” said Neville. “Dumbledore’s Army!” he shouted, and there was an answering cheer from the crowd…

Adapted from 50 Things We Learned From Harry Potter by Total Film

My favorite Harry Potter sites:

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

How has Harry Potter changed your life? What themes that I didn’t share are important to you?

Hanging Gutter Garden Part 2: Putting it Together

I know it has been over 3 months since Hanging Gutter Garden Part 1: Adventures in Home Depot. But I do have excuses. One excuse is that I lost my camera battery charger and I could not take pictures of my progress, another is that I’m lazy. But, just before the backpacking extravaganza (and after losing Reid’s camera in the Canyonlands) I broke down and purchased a new (expensive) charger (with LED charging screen and European outlet adapter).

Now that I have the means to take picture I figured it was about time to share my patio garden with you lovely people.

As I said in this post, I wanted to create the hanging gutter garden like this one.

For mine I didn’t have the fancy pants hardware (or the fancy pants bank account). I used the gutter given to me by the gutter guys (A story told here). I also purchased a plastic gutter for $5 at Resource 2000, where they sell salvaged construction materials.

The finished product – metal gutter

Bottom Level = Lettuce

Middle Level = Radishes (recently harvested and replanted)

Top Level = Spinach (recently replanted due to struggling first crop)

The finished product – plastic gutter

All Levels = salad mix (sprouting)

The materials:

  • 1 gutter cut into three equal parts (process is almost identical no matter the material, I tried with both plastic and metal gutters)
  • 6 gutter caps – the plastic ones are quite nice and can be purchased at Home Depot, Metal are also nice but mine had to be bent to fit the gutter, which was quite a process.
  • 2 hooks – I chose some that screw into a drilled hole
  • 16’ of 1/8” steel cable cut into 6 equal lengths (or as much as you’ll need to fill your space, gutters should be at least 18” apart to allow adequate sun exposure and plant growth) – I bought this kit at walmart because I was there buying pots and it was the only cable they had. The kit actually came in handy as the clips (though not exactly what I was looking for) worked perfectly. As I worked I realized I needed 32” of cable for both my gutter gardens so I ended up having to go to Home Depot for a yard of steel cable.
  • 12 clips – 6 came in the kit mentioned above and there was another pack nearby without 3 clips (no cable) so I bought two of these packs
  • 2 thimbles – these came in the kit mentioned above but they are also sold alone

Above = clips, Below = thimble,
Source

  • Wire Cutters – sharpened
  • Electric drill – with attachments for drilling holes large enough for the steel wire to go through and for tightening nuts on the clips

Step 1. Cut the gutters
The gutter man who gave it to me cut the metal gutter in uneven thirds; my dad then cut into equal length pieces. I sawed the plastic gutter into (almost) equal thirds (I did it all by myself thank you).

Step 2. Drill holes
My dad helped me drill two holes, large enough for the steel cable to fit through, across from each other on each end, and one hole at the center of the base on each end (6 holes per gutter section).

Step 3. Fit the end caps
This part was quite complicated for the metal gutter. The plastic gutter was simple, the caps fit perfectly. My Metal Gutter was not the exact shape of the cap. My dad used pliers to shape the end of the gutter to fit into the cap and a rubber mallet to force it in where it wasn’t exactly perfect. He did this for each of the 6 end caps and I am so grateful for that. If you buy your gutter where you buy your end cap this shouldn’t be a problem for you, mine came from different sources.

Step 4. Cut steel cable into 6 36” sections
We definitely over estimated the amount of steel cable to use. My dad and I were not at my apartment during the building process so we wanted to give ourselves some extra. You might not need so much extra slack when building your gutter garden. Be careful when cutting the wire, it tend to fray; very sharp wire cutters can help prevent fraying.

Step 5. Thread the steel cable
With one end shorter than the other thread the cable through the two holes at the top of the gutter. This can be quite difficult if the cable has frayed. Also be prepared to be poked with sharp metal; gloves are probably a good idea at this point.

Step 6. Secure the cable
Loosen the nuts on the clip and thread both ends of the cable through the clip. Pull the clip down on the cable where its not pulling to much but is tight. Finagle the cable so the short end only pokes out of the clip about an inch and tighten the nuts on the clip, a little on each nut so it tightens evenly. Repeat this process (step 5 and 6) for each gutter on each end (a total of 6 times)

The Metal Gutter

The Plastic Gutter

Step 7. Connect the pieces
Starting with the gutter section you want at the base of your garden thread the long end of the cable through the hole in the base of the middle gutter section. Attach a clip around this single end of cable and tighten. Make sure the clip is at the length you want. Do this on both ends, keeping the gutter level. Do the same thing with the middle gutter and the top gutter. Leave the top gutter for now.

The Metal Gutter

The Plastic Gutter

Step 8. Hanging the dang thing
This was another complicated step. The whole contraption is very heavy, awkward and dynamic. This stage was obviously done at my apartment with my boyfriends help to replace my dad. There is most definitely a better way than how we did this but I am the queen of doing things in the most complicated way. We measured the distance between cables, drilled holes for the screw hook and screwed them in. Then we hauled the apparatus up a step stool and one of our kitchen chairs between the two of us. I stabilized my end as he threaded a clip onto the cable then a thimble around the hook and tightened it. We kept the thing slightly above the railing so that when we screwed it down it would be tight. Mind you this took many, many, many, many, MANY tries because there were so many pieces to hold steady at a precise place, but we finally got it and 3 months later it looks fantastic.

Side note: The method above details how we hung the metal gutters. For the plastic gutters we screwed the bottom gutter onto the railing first, but we couldn’t get it tight enough at the top and it looks like it’s leaning forward since the hooks at the top and the screws at the base are not directly vertical. Therefore we developed the method above, which was also difficult but returned better results.

The Hook in the Ceiling

These gutters dry out VERY fast, especially in an arid climate like Colorado. I have struggled with wilting, browning, and flat out dying plants in these gutters since planting. I have discovered that on hot days I must water them twice: once in the morning and once in the evening, in order to keep them healthy. Someone in a more humid environment might not experience these problems.

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

How did you like this post? Are you interested in making a gutter garden? Do you have questions about my process? Leave a comment.

Backpacking for Dummies: A Dummy’s Guide to Backpacking

This past weekend my family and I went on a backpacking trip.  The members of our travel party would include, myself, my father Charles, my boyfriend Reid, my sister Erica, my brother-in-law Dustin, Dustin’s brother AJ, and my Australian cousin Steven, all of us at varying levels of expertise.

My dad has been backpacking passionately for as long as I can remember and plays a bit of a game with his buddy Tim: they try to pack the lightest pack with only the necessities. Erica, Dustin and AJ had never been backpacking before, but were interested in trying it out, Steven has gone a number of times both in the U.S. and in Australia, Reid, whose dad is also a passionate backpacker, has gone backpacking since he was very young, and I have gone a few of times, always with my dad, inheriting the gear he replaced with a lighter option. This is our story.

From left to right: Dustin, Erica, AJ, Reid, Maggie, Steven
Missing: Charles the photographer

Backpacking for Dummies: A Dummy’s Guide to Backpacking

Preparation:

As any backpacker would know, a backpacking trip doesn’t start at the trailhead. It begins at home with the preparation.

Choosing a date for a backpacking trip can be a very complicated process. Factors to consider:

  • Is there a wedding?
  • When will your cousin be visiting from Australia?
  • Will your uncle be celebrating his 70th birthday?
  • Do you have work or school?
  • Are you also planning a trip along the Continental Divide?
  • What will you have to reschedule?

In addition to scheduling conflicts, especially when travelling in a large group, backpacking is a sport best enjoyed in warm, dry conditions. It is important to follow the weather reports and choose dates that will ensure a happy company.

The weather in Colorado has been consistently dry and hot for the entire summer thus far, hence the wildfires up and down the state and the creation of this photo. Source: Facebook friend’s wall

However, sometimes you will find that the warm and dry dates fall during conflicting events and you are left with the single cold and wet weekend for probably the entire summer.

After deciding on a date you must gather all of your gear.

  • Tent
  • Backpack
  • Stove and fuel
  • Lighter
  • Cooking pot and skillet (depending on what you plan to cook)
  • Utensils (don’t use your hands, we aren’t barbarians)
  • Bowl and/or plate (again… barbarians)
  • Mug (hot things are hot)
  • Water filter (unless you enjoy the effects of giardia)
  • Water holding device (bottle or bladder)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Camp chair (much nicer than the ground)
  • Sleeping pad (cuz the ground is hard and rocks are lumpy)
  • Hiking socks (prevent blisters)
  • Underwear (I really shouldn’t have to explaint this one)
  • Lightweight hiking shorts (move easily)
  • Non-cotton lightweight shirts (cotton tends to stay wet once it gets wet from sweat or rain)
  • Long underwear pants and shirt (cozy pajamas)
  • Fleece (for warmth, dries quickly)
  • Rain coat and pants (keeps you dry)
  • Hiking boots (broken in)
  • Lightweight camp shoes (to relax your feet in after hiking all day)
  • Hat (1 to protect against sun, another against cold)
  • Headlamp (it gets DARK at night and when nature calls you don’t want to stumble into the lake)
  • Trekking poles (nice for steep slopes)
  • Toothbrush and paste (for fresh minty breath)
  • Hair bands (to tie back your wild tresses)
  • Chapstick (cuz chapped lips sucks)
  • Sanitation wipes (such as Wet Ones)
  • Toilet paper (again with the explaining)
  • Sunscreen (sun burns and sleeping outside don’t mix)
  • Deep woods bugspray (bugs are annoying)
  • First-aid kit (in case of the worst happening)
  • Fishing pole and license (cuz it’s fun to catch your own dinner, but don’t count on it)
  • Camera with a charged battery (it sucks to get to 11,000 feet carrying your camera the whole way just to find that you can’t take any pictures of the beautiful wildflowers)
  • Rope and caribiner (for hanging food in the trees away from camp: bears)

Some things you might already have, you might have to borrow things from friends and family. The important thing is to make sure you have your basic needs covered, shelter and warmth. Sustenance, of course, is another basic need. You have everything you need to store water and to filter it for safe drinking. You also have food preparation and consuming equipment. Now you must decide what food items to bring.

This depends on how many days you will be backpacking, weight and comfort. It is best to go for light items that are filling for their weight. Some good options that I like to bring include:

  • Instant oatmeal packets
  • Applesauce
  • Granola bars
  • Ramen, macaroni and cheese, cous cous (anything with a dry grain that you just add water and flavoring)
  • Cashews, almonds, pistachios, etc.
  • Dried fruit such as raisins, or craisins
  • Dehydrated veggies
  • Candy bars especially chocolate
  • Trail mix
  • Instant coffee
  • Tea bags
  • Chicken or tuna in a foil pouch
  • Tortillas can be used to make PB&J roll-ups or quesadillas
  • Alcohol

There are many things you can bring and it takes practice to decide what you like best. These are just my personal favorites.

Communication:

It is very important to stay in contact with those who will be travelling with you. They are your support system and prior to the trip everyone should be on the same page as to where you are going, for how long, the hike distance, elevation etc. This can easily be done through email so long as you send emails to the correct address.

Finally all your preparation will be rewarded; the day of the trek has arrived. Have a big breakfast at IHOP and drive to your trailhead, because things are about to get real.

“Up up up up the stairs we go, until we come to the tunnel. And when they go in, there’s no coming out… all she gets is filthy orcses and they doesn’t taste very nice does they precious? No, not very nice at all my love.”
(Not really sure what’s with all the LOTR references, just go with it)
Source: http://www.councilofelrond.com/imagegallery/stairs-of-cirith-ungol/

The Climb:

It’s been said that your brain will quit a hundred times before your body will have to. The thing to remember with backpacking is that you must trick your brain. Encouraging it with phrases like, “We’re almost to the top,” or “You can carry yourself and 40 extra pounds up this steep section,” will help. Another thing to remember is that you can’t stop too often or for too long, your muscles will have to warm up every time you stop and it’s best to just keep going.

Finding Nemo reference, instead of LOTR, 🙂
Source: http://howimetyourfatherblog.blogspot.com/2010/10/keep-calm-and.html

I find that after about 20 minutes I get into the zone: the weight and constant pounding of my feet keeps me centered. Other may experience different findings. Whatever works for you, channel it. (Also make sure to eat snacks and drink LOTS of water)

A quick rest

Camping:

When you find an area that looks nice to camp (with a water source nearby), it’s best to set-up camp before doing anything else (except maybe following nature’s call, which I will not be getting into in this post. If you would like information on using the world as your toilet and leaving no trace please read the 5th subheading in this article.

Our campsite, set up just before the rain fell, lucky we brought that big heavy tarpaulin

To set up camp first, set up your tent (and a rain tarp, since the clouds will be rolling in at this point). After setting up the tent, pull out your sleeping pad and bag inside the tent to get fluffy and cozy before bed. Then as the first drops begin to fall on your head, put on your raincoat and pants and set up your camp chair. Duck under your rain tarp, hunker down, and try to laugh away the misfortune: play games, drink alcohol, DON’T check the time, and hope for some sun.

When the rain calms a bit and it’s safe to walk around in the tall wet grass snap a few pictures of the beauty that surrounds you.

It’s good to have some activities prepared between meals, to pass the time: day hikes, reading, drawing, photography, fishing, writing, talking, laughing, card playing, and sledding are all good ideas.

As the sun sets, find a good place to hike up to (careful of the slippery wet rocks) and enjoy the view.

When the tarp begins to collect water, engineering must come into play.

The Moose Destroyer

When all else fails and you are feeling lost in the wetness, make new friends.

Hemingway the Caterpillar (if he can survive the cold and wet, so can you)

After cooking and eating dinner, playing a few silly games about what you can take to the moon, and passing around a few communal beers it’s time for bed. Brush your teeth (with a bottle of Jack), strip off your wet clothing and snuggle into your sleeping bag as you listen to the creeks flowing all around you (don’t forget to use the natural toilet before getting in bed, it is the absolute worst thing to have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night on a camping trip, especially when there are streams flowing in every directions and marshes just beyond the streams and tall wet grass everywhere you step).

In the morning you will wake up to the babbling brooks and songs of the birds (and your urgent need to urinate). You will hope that the sun is shining and poke your head out of the tent warily. You see that it is and your heart will flood with joy. You get dressed and let yourself fully out of the tent, joining your party under the big blue tarp. You start preparing your breakfast just as the sun shyly hides its face again behind the clouds.

You resign yourself to another chilly and cloudy day and the company decides to finish breakfast, pack up and head back down the mountain.

Hiking down:

Hopefully you remembered to clip your toenails before the trip because the constant jamming of your toenails into the front of your boots can be quite painful. Just ask those who have decided to have their toenails removed completely. Lacing your boots tightly around your ankles can help with the downhill hike.

Some people say hiking down is the hardest part, yes hiking up is more strenuous and breathing is much harder, but hiking down takes finesse and concentration. Constantly trying to stop your body’s potential energy from turning into kinetic energy is tough work, but still usually takes less time.

Then the whole trip is over. You can load your gear into the car, get in yourself and drive home (or to get some bagels and Taco Bell).

That is, of course, unless your boyfriend is chased down the mountain by a mountain line, which he fights off by punching it in the face, which is seen by pirates who think he is bad ass and want him in their troop, but first they have to initiate him by locking him in a mine in Idaho Springs, which he only escapes because Gandalf (LOTR reference again) shows up blinding them with his staff, and he crawls to safety through a tunnel which leads to the basement of Beaujo’s where he is picked up by his girlfriend and her dad, or so the story has been told.

Further (more practical) information on backpacking:

(***Update 09/05/12: Although I loved my time at WordPress, I found it was my time to move on. I am now at Blogger; I believe it to be a better fit for me personally. If you subscribe, or want to subscribe, to this blog, please be sure to subscribe to the new one. Here’s the link.)

What do you think of our experience? Do you like to backpack? Tell me about your past trips.