It always feels so easy to get on a plane and go to a new destination and forget all about the amazing places in your own backyard. I daydream about climbing Aconcagua and walking miles on the desolate terrain in Iceland but the reality is that the state of Colorado has a very diverse geography, ranging from majestic mountains, deep canyons, deserts with enormous sand dunes to lush forests. So last summer, instead of trying to get away to far flung places we decided to spend some time discovering our state. For Dan’s birthday in July, we drove down to Telluride (about 6 hrs from Denver), a ski town nestled in San Juan mountains in south west Colorado. We did an overnight stop in Montrose and mastered the art of car camping.
I love hiking and being outdoors but I admit, I am also a total wuss when I am too exposed to elements in the wild. My heart starts throbbing if I am hiking through deep woods and don’t see a hiker for miles. I get startled when I hear leaves rustling and start to imagine bears and mountain lions coming out of the woodwork. The moment I see a dark cloud above us, I imagine lightning bolts coming down to strike us. My mind runs through the steps recommended by wilderness experts if one encounters bears. Safety steps such as making yourself look big or making loud noises. Although, in reality I know that I am more likely to execute perfect Darwin Award winning moves like trying to outrun the bear or taking shelter under the biggest tree in case of a lightning strike.
When we decided to travel around the world, we had a lot of ideas on how we wanted to travel. Though we were successful in certain areas like traveling ultra-light, avoiding big hotels, visiting local farmer markets, hiking where ever possible, effectively communicating with each other under life-threatening situations (well, almost!) , we weren’t very successful when it came to our desire to work and live on farms or pick up new skills (like learning new language). The desire to pick up new skills stemmed after reading 4 hour workweek by Timothy Ferriss and from the realization that apart from doing “office work”, we didn’t really have a lot of “life skills”.
I know I have been away for a while. It was hard to focus on words and writing. I was lost in my own head a lot of the days. Life took a strange and unexpected turn early this year. It beat us down. And every time we tried to get up and move again, it dragged and crushed us further until we couldn’t breathe anymore. Long dreary winters added to the misery. I always wanted my blog to be about happy things in life – travel, food, hiking, fun experiences – so I felt that I really couldn’t say or express much except for talking about the lingering and never ending sadness. I was naive enough to think that life is a bed of roses at all times and that nothing can ever go wrong with you and your family. And then IT does. Maybe in future I would be courageous enough to talk about the bad stuff.
After spending our holidays gorging on cookies and chips and a *few* drinks here and there, it was time to leave home and brave the cold in order to shun some of the love around our waists. We did the first hike of 2014 in the beautiful but very windy Rocky Mountain National Park (35 miles NW of Boulder) this past weekend. The 40 mph gusts made for some interesting hiking conditions in the drifting snow. I had done the same trail 2 months ago and the deep snow made it feel like a different trail altogether. The lakes were completely frozen over. The trail and the signs was buried under snow so it was hard to follow the actual trail.
Gone are the days when I used to have white-collar IT hands, soft like a baby’s butt, only capable of typing away on a computer. Now, I have “worker” hands — tough and callus-stricken — capable of chopping, beating, kneading and butchering.
When the headless chicken and I first locked eyes, I thought that there was no way I was going to survive the culinary program. It was only the second week in the kitchen. I knew when I signed up for the program what I was getting myself into. I figured I would be able to handle the dead meat. When the moment actually arrived, I was squeamish and disgusted. The blood dripped off the poor chicken’s dead body. I was so shook up for a second that I couldn’t tell where the legs were and where the wings were. Random thoughts raced through my mind like, “How would I feel if someone did this to me?” Weird, I know.
After having to strip down to backpacks for our round the world trip, we realized that we didn’t need a lot of stuff to survive or have fun. Decisions are a lot more simpler when you only have two pair of pants, three shirts and a pair of shoes to choose from. Even after we got back, we had no interest in shopping or accumulating random stuff. It seemed like such a waste. A year later, we still find ourselves wearing the same clothes we wore on the trip despite having a lot of other options. Weird!
It was exactly one year ago on March 4th, 2012 when our friend Doug dropped us to the Newark Airport early in the morning. It is one of those moments I will never forget. We had been busy wrapping work, packing our apartment, renting the place and stuffing everything we would own for 5 months in our backpacks. For weeks, it hadn’t hit us that we were leaving our jobs, our home, our friends, and our lives behind. We had been talking for almost one year about travelling around the world. The idea seemed silly. We joked and laughed about it. It was something that would never ever happen. Who would leave their good jobs, their home, to live out of a backpack for months? We weren’t ready to do the planning that went into something monumental like this.