Years ago I read Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer and I couldn’t put it down. It’s about the 1996 tragedy on Mt. Everest when eight climbers died on the Nepal side and several others almost did. Krakauer was there and his firsthand account was riveting. Little did I know that someday we would hike to Everest’s Nepalese base camp and would go over Thukla Pass, a stunningly beautiful plateau filled with large rock memorials for those who lost their lives on Nepal’s mountains. As I mentioned in a previous post, I walked around and read the names on every memorial. It was surreal when I came to those of Scott Fischer and Rob Hall, two young, strong guides who had been killed in the 1996 storm, and to whom I had been introduced years before in Krakauer’s book.
When we returned from Nepal, I got five more books about Everest: three more about the tragedy of ’96 and two about the 2006 season on the Tibet side which was quite controversial. When one attempts something as dangerous as climbing Mt. Everest, is it that person’s responsibility to make it out alive or do other people have an obligation to risk their own lives to try to save someone in trouble? There are strong feelings on both sides of the argument, but it’s mostly the armchair quarterbacks that feel others should help at all costs. Read More
Planning your Everest Base Camp trek can feel daunting at times. There are so many unknowns and as I mentioned in my last post, I became obsessed with reading blogs by people who had done it. But I was getting so much conflicting info and some of the tips were just plain weird, so I stopped reading them. Now being on the other side of a super successful trip, I’d like to share with you some of the things that contributed to our success. If you’re younger than 40, these tips may come across as “momish” and that’s because they are. These are the things your mom would tell you to do. Ignore them at your own risk. 🙂
We just got back from a three week trip to Nepal where we did the 12 day Everest Base Camp Trek. As soon as I signed us up for this trip, I immediately got a stomach ache. I was so nervous and it was a year and a half away! Could we do it?! Had I made a huge mistake?! It was a long way to go and a lot of money to spend to fail. It felt so overwhelming! I had never hiked more than 14 miles in one day and this was going to be 12 straight days going a total of 87 miles. I adopted the very effective coping technique of denial. I just wouldn’t think about it.
Being a planner, it wasn’t that I wouldn’t think about the trip…I thought a lot about what things we would need, the training regimen I would need to adopt, all the logistical stuff. What I wouldn’t think about was the actual hiking and that we would be going many miles a day for many days at a time at a very high altitude. When those thoughts crept in the stomach ache came back so I got very good at ignoring what it was that we were going to be doing.
I began reading blogs like crazy, taking notes feverishly: don’t eat any meat!, bring a hot water bottle!, you’re going to need Theraflu!, Tang! Tang is VITAL! My appetite for hearing firsthand accounts was insatiable. But something started to happen. While I did get many good tips, lots of the info I was reading was contradictory and I don’t even like Tang. I stopped reading blogs. They had become more hurtful than helpful and I needed to be as Zen as possible if I was going to get through this. There were weeks at a time that I didn’t even think about the trip. Read More
Hello again! I hope you’ve all been well. I can’t believe it’s mid-June! I’ve recently started a new project that has been keeping me very busy and I’m super excited to tell you about it, but first a short story.
When my sons were little, my older son, Gray was terrified of shots. He would be in absolute hysterics whenever it was vaccination time, and one day I sat him down and explained to him that although getting a shot hurt for a second, there are children who are very sick and they have to get shots everyday and live in the hospital. I told him that they are the bravest of children, and that when he had to go to the doctor I wanted him to think of these children and be thankful for his good health.
This conversation had a deep impact on Gray, and he said he wanted to help these kids. Every year for his birthday he would ask his friends to donate to Make-A-Wish in lieu of giving him presents, and then my younger son, Holden started doing the same. A few years later we bought a gumball machine and Gray called all around our city trying to find a place to put it, explaining that he and his brother were using it to raise money for Make-A-Wish. It has been in a few different locations over the years, each with it’s own challenges. It was covered with sauce from greasy fingers at the hot wings restaurant, the children at the indoor pool would try to break it regularly to get free candy (they were quite successful), and now it is at a bar where we have to pry the lid off each time because it is sealed shut with dried, spilled beer. I also had to spend about 15 minutes the other day scraping off an obscene sticker that at first made me laugh, but then I just thought, “really people?!” We are still donating with that machine and to date have given $1,266. That is a lot of quarters.
Donating to Make-A-Wish has been an important part of our lives for the last 14 years, and now that I am in this new phase of life, I have much more time on my hands. I decided that I want to use my time to try to make a difference as well. I love being creative and decided that I would start a business making charms that can be used on chandeliers, ceiling fans, and lamp shades with magnets and other places with hooks. Every purchase supports Make-A-Wish. I am excited to announce that my Etsy store is now open at www.enestorproducts.com and I will be adding more products soon. Please check it out! Instagram @e_nestor_products We are doing a giveaway at the end of June for a free set of charms (Make-A-Wish donation included) so please consider following our Instagram account.
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I know we’re just beginning summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, however our friends in the Southern Hemisphere are just beginning my favorite season of winter. I’m in love with these wooden snowflakes! ❄️ #winterinjune * * * #charms #homedecor #homeaccents #woodencutouts #chandeliercharms #newbusiness #followus #makeawish #enestorproducts
I get emails frequently from Make-A-Wish and I love the one I received this morning.
It was 1980 when a small group of people came together to make something special happen for a 7-year-old boy. Chris Greicius was fighting leukemia and more than anything, he wanted “to catch bad guys.” Thanks to his mother, some friends and the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Chris’ wish came true.
For the people who made Chris’ wish happen, this was the beginning of something. They emptied their pockets, and with $37.76, funded the start of Make-A-Wish®.
Since 1980, we’ve learned what a wish can do. It’s more than a moment in time. A wish can empower children to fight harder against their illnesses. It can restore families and unite entire communities.
Today, more than 415,000 children across the world have experienced their greatest wish because of supporters like you.
Thank you for being part of this story.
I’ve been MIA in the blogosphere lately, and that’s because all my time and energy have been spent on a couple of home improvement projects that I’m excited to share because they are finally done!
Have you ever had a place in your house that was downright ugly, but it had been that way so long that you just went into denial and didn’t notice anymore? That’s the situation I was in with our downstairs bathroom, aka the bathroom that all guests use. I am mortified thinking of all the parties we’ve thrown over the years, and all of the people that saw the hideousness. I can only hope that our friends were using the bathroom because they had had a lot to drink, thereby in a state of mind to not notice or at least not remember the epitome of tacky bathrooms they found themselves in. I can sum it up in one word…gold. I had always hated all that gold (faucet, light fixture, shower enclosure, TP holder…) but when our boys were little, my priorities were elsewhere and I just ignored it. A couple of months ago my blinders were removed and I attacked that bathroom with a vengeance, taking great pleasure in removing all that atrocious gold.
I was so anxious to get the gold faucet out that I didn’t even take a before photo, but I’m sure you can imagine it. Getting the new matte black faucet in was quite exciting, especially when it worked and didn’t leak.
After changing out the light fixture, towel racks, TP holder, and toilet lever, the last thing was the shower door. I was dreading it. The instructions were 16 pages long and I had to add a hack saw to my tool repertoire. Two hundred pounds of glass and metal sat in my garage for 3 weeks before I gathered up the courage to attempt the install. Everything was going well at first and then things took a turn. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say that after a very painful injury that resulted in a lot of blood, I cried out of frustration for almost an hour. It wasn’t pretty. I can’t imagine Bob Vila has ever sobbed on the couch when experiencing a home improvement setback, but what can I say? I was so frustrated! And bleeding! And in pain! Read More
After the chaos and heat of Marrakesh, we were looking forward to getting back into our element. Being mountain people, trekking in the High Atlas Mountains and staying in a Berber village was something we were really looking forward to and we became more and more at home as we left the desert behind and the scenery changed from sand to lush greenery. Our driver chattered away, telling us all kinds of things, of which we only understood about 50%, but we did understand when we drove by this gigantic estate and he explained that it was Richard Branson’s Kasbah and rooms start at $700 a night in the slow season.
Getting higher and higher into the mountains, we were suddenly on the very steep “main street” of the village. Our driver dropped us off at a small cafe where we met Mohamed, the man whom I had booked this adventure with. He gave us a piping hot pot of mint tea, a staple in Morocco, and we had some time to sit on the porch watching the unique sights around us. Cars can only get to the outskirts of the Berber villages, so mules abound. It felt like we had been transported back in time, and after the craziness of the Marrakesh medina, it was nice to be back in a slow paced, peaceful environment.
After having had some time to unwind, Mohamed introduced us to Omar, who would be our guide for the next couple of days. I liked him immediately. He told us that our luggage would be taken to the Berber guest house where we would be staying the night and that our trek was starting. I was raring to go! As we made our way through the village, I had tons of questions and Omar had tons of answers. There are eight Berber villages and they haven’t changed much in thousands of years. It was only in 1991 that electricity was brought into the area, but many homes still don’t have it. Read More
When I was little, I looked up who shared a birthday with me and it was quite a disappointing list. It was a bunch of people I had never heard of, and Alexander Hamilton. While some of my friends had really cool birthday twins (Abraham Lincoln!), I had a second rate founding father who was never even president. My how perspective can change with age and a little knowledge!
When the musical Hamilton came to Denver, Holden and I were interested in seeing it. I spent 6 hours in the virtual waiting room until my lottery number came up. Have you ever been in a ticket lottery? It is one of the most stressful things ever. Let’s just say that after sitting captive at my computer the entire day, my blood pressure skyrocketing, and unleashing a steady stream of profanity, I didn’t get tickets.
Knowing the musical was based on the Ron Chernow biography, I decided to do the next best thing, and read the book. Perhaps saying it was a life changing experience is a stretch, however I am no longer disappointed in having Hamilton for a birthday twin. In fact, I feel like he rates right up there with Lincoln and Washington. The man was a genius, but like Charles Dickens (read about my devastating discovery here), he sure got himself into trouble. Not only was Hamilton a founding father of a nation, he was the founding father of the American sex scandal. Read More
Riding a camel is no joke. We were about 15 minutes into our hour long trek out to the Berber camp and it was becoming clear that this was going to be an uncomfortable experience. Perhaps it’s like the monkey bars; they rip your hands raw, but if you can build up calluses you’re golden. I would never get the opportunity to build up those camel riding calluses, but knowing that this was probably the only time I would be on a camel in the Sahara, I focused my attention on the surroundings and tried to ignore the discomfort in my nether regions.
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It’s hard work riding a camel. The hump really gets in the way. I don’t know how those guys made it 52 days to Timbuktu. I thought my trace amount of North African blood might have made me a natural. Nope. #desertlife * * * #morocco #camel #sahara #northafrica #adventures #seetheworld #travel #world #africahot #cameltrek #timbuktu #silkroad #tripofalifetime #doshitseeshitmeetpeople #theunknowninfluencer #emptynestadventures
It was late in the afternoon, and it was easy to envision Clark Griswold stumbling along with his pants strapped to his head. We were a caravan of three; Salim, our guide, leading us on foot. My camel was an obedient plodder, following on Salim’s heels, never looking left or right. Brett’s camel however, was a very curious guy. He had a hard time staying in line, and was always looking around. It’s a good thing he was tethered to us as I’m convinced he would have bolted.
We were in the medina of Essaouira, having just learned that Rachid, our guide, was an Alice in Chains fan (read Part One here), when he pointed out two doors next to each other and said, “I was born in one of those homes.”
“Well, I’d better get a picture of you in front of each one, then,” I told him. Personally, it would drive me nuts not knowing which one it was, but it wasn’t an issue for him.
As I mentioned in Part One, we were there during the annual Jewish pilgrimage to the last remaining synagogue in Essaouira, the Chaim Pinto, named for the leading rabbi of the city who lived from 1748-1845. This pilgrimage brings thousands of Jews to the coastal town, and is a four day celebration coinciding with the anniversary of Pinto’s death, which happens to be the week before Rosh Shoshana.
One of my best friends is Jewish, and I asked Rachid if we would be able to see the synagogue. I wanted to take pictures for her and I was very interested in seeing it myself. He led us through the alleys, and when we reached a particular door, he said we had arrived. (A quick side note; if you have never been in a medina, imagine a maze with walls that are several stories high. In these walls are doors that may be ornate or plain, but either way, it’s like magic when the doors are opened. It reminded me of the tents in Harry Potter that look like normal, tiny little tents from the outside, but inside they are deluxe accommodations, with multiple rooms and every luxury imaginable.)
The coastal town of Essaouira (pronounced esso-wear-a) is a not-to-be-missed stop when visiting Morocco. It has a very rich history dating back to prehistoric times. The Romans had a large presence here, and interestingly, around the end of the first century BC, a factory was established to make purple dye from murex and purpura shells found in the tide pools, which was used for the purple stripe on the togas of Roman Senators. This factory was started by the Berber king Juba II, who was married to the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. (I think that is so awesome!)
A few hundred years later the Portuguese seized and then lost control to a local Berber tribe. Then Spain, England, the Netherlands and France all tried in vain to conquer this tribe, although eventually France did sign a treaty with the sultan. That’s several hundreds years worth of history in two sentences. You’re welcome.
The present city was built by the Moroccan king, Mohamed III in the mid-eighteenth century. He hired a French engineer to design the city, which was originally called Souira meaning “small fortress” but the name changed to Es-Saouira meaning “beautifully designed”. This was our first experience in a medina, so I didn’t fully appreciate how organized, methodical, and yes, beautifully designed, it was. With its straight byways and alleys, large square and calm atmosphere, you feel completely at ease, unlike in the medinas of Marrakesh and Fez, which we had yet to experience.
Another interesting fact is that 200 years ago, the majority of Essaouira was Jewish, and there were as many as 40 synagogues. Due to economic reasons, they have all moved away, however there is one synagogue left, the Chaim Pinto that Jews still pilgrimage to each year the week before Rosh Shoshana. Guess when we happened to be there? We were fortunate enough to visit it, and it figured prominently in the surrealism of the day. Read More