Monday, January 16, 2012

7 Days in Sedona

We had a fun week playing in/on the Red Rocks of Sedona.  Broke up the drive by spending a night camping in Joshua Tree National Park.  Stayed in a sweet cabin, cooked some good food, and got lots of sleep--sun rises late in these parts this time of year.  Got in some good running and hiking miles but must admit to skepticism re the vortex phenomena:  no particular surge of energy or clarity of thought.  Hmm... 

1/7:  Wilson Peak, 9 miles
1/8:  Coxcomb Loop, 8 miles
1/9:  Tuzigoot, Montezuma's Castle and Well.  Bear Mountain for sunset and full moon, 6 1/2 miles
1/10:  Airport Mesa for sunrise, then Chimney Rock, 7 1/2 miles
1/11:  Sedona Circumnavigation on trails, 50k'ish
1/12:  Cathedral Rock, 2 miles
1/13:  Fear and Loathing Loop w/Sedona Running Co. locals, 8 miles

Broke up the drive home as well--spent some time playing with the burros in Oatman and the night camping in Mohave National Preserve near Kelso Sand Dunes.  Wicked fun. 
Your guess is as good as mine.

Montezuma's Well

First full moon hike of 2012, from Bear Mountain

Sedona Circumnavigation on Trail

Looking up near Cathedral Rock, a Vortex

Hero shot

On the way home

Oatman Welcoming Committee

Are these cute, or what?

Ooh, that feels gooood...

Kelso Sand Dunes...
That's a person on the summit for sunrise.

A very cool place

We climbed the tallest one and a couple adjacent...

Mojave Desert was C-O-L-D

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Time flies

They say time flies when you’re having fun. I agree and will add that time also flies when you’re trying to keep up with Chris Scott   …as I sit here staring at my computer screen, trying to remember all that has transpired since my last blog post almost two months ago.  However, since the reason for keeping this blog is that of a personal journal, I put no pressure on myself for being a bad blogger.

Cajun Coyote was a success, and it will be fun to watch the event grow in the coming years. As with some other events--Bull Run Run and the VHTRC Women’s Half Marathon to name just a couple--Chris’s creative brain conceives of--along with Mark in Cajun’s case--and realizes that conception through to reality before turning over the reigns and moving on. Pretty though not “spectacular” in a Hardrock/UTMB sense, the Cajun course is stellar, appealing especially to those looking for a runner's course as opposed to the more difficult events where one ends up walking much more than actually running. Like Rocky Racoon but a little bit slower perhaps, the entire 20-mile loop is run-able, and being a 20-mile loop, a crew is unnecessary. It would also make for a nice intro to the 100 mile distance. As I said, it’ll be fun to watch this event evolve.  Given the opportunity (as in two extra days) to get in my 50 trail miles in Mississippi, I opted not to run Cajun this year.
(Tetsuro resting up for Cajun)

Fifty trail miles in Mississippi??  Yep, on the Black Creek and Tuxachanie Trails in DeSoto National Forest which lies between the Gulf Coast and Hattiesburg. The Black Creek Trail is 41 miles point-to-point, so I made up the 9-mile difference on the Tuxachanie, a lovely converted rail-trail just a few miles down the road. The Black Creek is one of the oddest trails I’ve ever traversed.  The Trail suffered extensive damage during Hurricane Katrina back in 2005--and in light of that fact, it’s amazing that it was ever reopened (thank you, thank you!). However, in reopening the Trail the Forest Service apparently drove a bulldozer over many, many miles of the pathway, and they regularly bush-hog most of the trail.  The upside of this is that the trail was very run-able and I could spend a lot of time looking around.  Except for a few miles that go through Designated Wilderness, where the trail was somewhat of a meandering obstacle course of blowdowns (but fun), the Black Creek Trail reminded me of a Nordic ski trail in the off season, the irony of course being that this was Mississippi where it never snows enough to ski. While following the grassy/piney "hiking trail" throughout the day, I found myself repeatedly laughing at the irony. This is not to say the Trail was boring or visually unappealing. There were a surprising number of up-and-down roller coasters, and the trees--especially the long leaf pine and palmettos--were stunningly unique for me. Not surprisingly, I encountered not a soul on either of the Trails. There were quite a few road crossings which enabled Chris and our friend Tetsuro to crew me and run short sections (Tetsuro went on to win the inaugural Cajun 100 in 18:38!).  I was extremely grateful for their help.  So, Mississippi is done… which leaves 15 more States and DC to go in my 50 Project (see sidebar). This has been a lot of fun.
(It was hunting season, hence the red & orange.)

We wanted Tetsuro to get the full, er, "flavor" of the Deep South, so we visited Cracker Barrel, Piggly Wiggly, and Waffle House before hightailing it to Cajun Country.

(Cooking potatoes and burritoes for Cajun Coyote with Wild Bill.)

After Louisiana we had an unusual lull in travel and were actually home for a whole month.  Kind of novel to get into a regular routine for a change: YMCA Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings for spinning, elliptical, and yoga, trail runs in the Santa Monica Mountains most of the other days. (Yes, I love my life.)  I also did some mountain biking at Point Mugu State Park and finally rode--down the moderately technical Guadalasca and Multi-Purpose and up the very, very steep Hell Hill--clean, i.e. no dabbing, stopping, or falling!   We also tackled some home improvement projects including painting the dining room a vibrant red (we love it--no boring white/beige walls in our house!), getting some new window blinds in the kitchen and dining room (yay, the neighbors can no longer watch us walking around in our skivvies!), and deck furniture (finally--the deck was built over the summer of 2010 and has been sitting empty all that time), and finally--hopefully you are sitting down--a new vacuum cleaner.  Exciting, huh?!  Understand that, other than the XX chromosomes, Martha Stewart and I have absolutely nothing in common--home decorating not being of even remote interest to me--so I see these projects as major accomplishments.

The year ended with the Winter Solstice, my Birthday, Christmas, and our Anniversary (four years already!) falling within a week, shortly followed by New Year’s and a little Fat-Ass “24 Hours of Ray” running event (above photo). This was my brainchild--or, more accurately, one of my many flippant “Hey, we should do THIS for an event…”remarks--that Chris made happen. The idea was to see how many 7.3 mile La Jolla-Ray Miller loops one could do in a 24-hour period, from 8 a.m. on 12/31 to 8 a.m. on 1/1. Surprisingly, we had almost 40 crazies show up to run but probably half of them did just one or two loops. Wild Bill collected the most loops at 11; I’d had enough after 7 but then walked a final loop with Chris and Manley in order to be at “the Loge” at midnight for a bad rendition of Auld Lang Syne. Almost 60 miles, not a bad way to close out 2011.

That almost brings this little journal up to date, but the last week deserves its own posting.