When I went to Nepal last October I ran into many traveling nomads. Many people hopped around from place to place doing and seeing amazing things. Somewhere inside my brain I envied them and thought, “Wow. That’s amazing.” Then I sort of snapped-to and realized I had my own awesome stories to share with them, stories that I have not thought about in 10 years, at least. Many of those moments were when I was in my young, teenage years, active in both Girl Scouts AND Boy Scouts.
Reclaiming sobriety as an adult has brought me back to life’s simple pleasures. I recount those today not to say, “Look at all my badass adventures,” even though they do feel mighty badass, but because I don’t want to forget I lived these adventures.
I just talked with my good friend Sarah and she said this about returning home and remembering our Peace Corps service, “You know, looking back on it will be crazy. I’m sure there will be days when we have to look at photos and videos just to make it seem like it happened.” To which I replied, I’m positive of it. We’ll think wait, did I really do that?? HOW in the hell did I do that?
Here are some of my “One Time…” and “When I was young…” moments I sometimes cannot believe I did. It’s about to get reallll interesting.
**REMEMBER, JUST CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO SEE IT IN ITS ENLARGED GLORY**
Did you know that I went camping in a hand-made igloo at the age of 15 in 3 feet of snow in Michigan? That’s means I slept inside a house of ice and snow for the night that I built with my bare hands. Rugged. Then, I proceeded to do real-life ice-luging and spent the night inside one of the only WWII submarine still in existence, USS Silversides SS-236 in Muskegon, Michigan.
When I was 13 years old I went white water rafting on The New River in West Virginia with 15 other hopeful girls who were really good at selling cookies. The water was high and dangerous that year, bumping the normally class IV rapid up to a V+. In raft talk, that means, “Dummy, do not go on that rapid or you might die.” In young, invincible teenage speak that means, “Woooo!” Long story short, I popped out of the raft, got sucked into an undertow and had to be rescued by an emergency kayak. (Ask for the long story, it’s even better). So what did I do? I went again the next year.
One time when I was 14 years old I went on a 50-mile canoe trip in Grayling, Michigan down the Au Sable River. We canoed about 10 miles per day and camped at night, tying our drybags into the trees so the bears didn’t eat them (or us). On the last day we portaged our canoes and its contents over a large man-made dam. For those who may have dozed off in history class, portage means carry yo’ belongings from one pool of water to another pool of water to keep on keeping on.
Horseback camp riding. I did actually do this. It’s like some sacred rite of Girl Scouts to have equestrian talent and love for all things with manes. I don’t know. But I stayed at a farm in Kentucky for a long weekend. They assigned me a horse, we’ll call him Mr. Ed. He was the strongest horse of them all and I brushed him, cleaned his horseshoes and we rode merrily around the fields together for days. Seriously, who am I? This is real life, people.
When I was, oh, let’s say 12, I went spelunking inside Merengo Caves in Indiana. This is like caving on speed. Basically, they put you through a large, wooden box crafted to simulate the tight spaces you’ll encounter in the pitch black and this isn’t even the good part yet. Then, if you emerge from the box without a panic attack you’re all clear to enter the cave with old clothes, a head lamp, and in my case, my mother (along with previously mentioned cookie seller’s mothers). Remember the part where they have you turn off all the lights, listen to the squeaks of bats then you crawl through crevices in mud only large enough to wiggle through? I do. When that lengthy journey was over and we survived, we quenched our thirst by jumping off a high platform and zip-lining several hundred feet through the air. I won’t lie, I thoroughly enjoyed watching my mother panic, squeal and go weeeeee down that line. Up for another one, Mom?
Once upon a time I lived in Mexico. Morelia, Michoacán, to be specific. I fell in love with a girl, my first, then embarked a plane to live in the land of quesadillas. Now I like the quesadillas better than the girl. It was a 5-week Study Abroad course through KIIS (Kentucky Institute of International Studies) and I focused on a nursing course about Traditional Women’s Medicine in Mexico and Spanish, obviously. Here, I traveled to poor copper-making towns and lived with a host family, a Chihuahua named Daisy, and a little seven-year old girl so hyper she could have been a Chihuahua, too. Her name was Andrea. Actually we played Barbies together, spoke Spanish, and played house. Side note, her Barbie always violently attacked mine. What gives? Anyway, on weekends, I took trips with other students to ancient Aztec pyramids such as Teotihuacan, volcanoes that engulfed cathedrals, and towns where we watched villagers mold copper by hand. As part of my courses, I was able to witness live surgeries of gallstone removal (oh the
horror stench), a rhinoplasty, and a pediatric metatarsus varus surgery (aka correction of pigeon-toe or false clubfoot). *brushes shoulder off* That was pretty wicked.
Then, I’ll surely want to remember that one time that I climbed a Himalayan mountain in Nepal. It’s called Poon Hill and I did this in October 2013 over a period of 5 days, sleeping in tea houses on the mountainside at night. Hell, I mean people, I went to Nepal. I watched the sun rise over Mount Everest. Sometimes when I climb a flight of stairs I’m taken back. As a matter of fact, I turned all difficult tasks into the verb Poon Hill. “Oh, I do not want to Poon Hill up 3 flights of stairs right now.” “Oh, I’m not down with Poon Hilling with Thai teachers right now.” It was literally the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done in my life. 3,210 meters is no joke. I probably took my tiresome days out on our Nepali trekking guide. Guess he got more than he bargained for. Afterward, I stayed with a Nepali host family (our guide) for 5 days and partook in a goat sacrificing, blood eating frenzy. True story. A lengthier version soon to come. You can read about my initial adventures here and here. For now, a picture, because pictures are fun.
Alright, double doozy here so I don’t make a novel post about my secret travel life. Too late? Damn. While in Nepal I jumped off a mountain over 1,000 meters high and flew through the air with a paragliding guide. For those math and science teachers out there, why yes, that is 1 kilometer *raises pinky to mouth a la Austin Powers*
And finally, it ain’t no thang, but I’m a certified Advanced Open Water and Rescue Scuba diver. So basically, I save lives. No really, though. I swam with sharks, jellyfish, turtles, stingrays, and plenty salty-smelling surfboard hippies who scuttle through Thailand. I prefer the marine life, but hey. I’ve also made it to a couple of wrecked ships and done night diving with phosphorescent plankton. Wave your hands in the air. It’s a rave! Just kidding. It’s just the plankton.
Oh, right, did I mention I lived in Thailand for two years and served as a Peace Corps Volunteer? Life has been really really sweet to me at the ripe age of 25 years old. I’m looking forward to coming home, settling down, falling in love and starting the rest of my life. Surely, life will bring me other adventures along the way, too. Those adventures might involve spit-up and dealing with poop other than my own, but that’s okay, too. Sounds mighty adventurous to me.
How about you? What are some of yours?
Did you dig how traveltastic this post was? Rad. Check out my other similar posts here:
- My Underwater Oasis: Adventures in Scuba Diving
- The Majestic Angkor Wat and Cambodian Ruins
- Songkran: A Thai New Year Festival
- Arriving in Nepal: A First Glance