Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Truchas Peak 2008

Last week, my dad and I (with Team/Crew 201 of the Cherry Hills Ward) went on a week long backpacking trip in the Pecos Wilderness. It was awesome! I'll try to get some of the highlights here in my blog.

Jessica looks pretty excited in my 65 lbs backpack! She'll have to come next time...

There are a lot of dangers while backpacking. You can fall off a makeshift bridge into a stream, you can get stuck in a lightening storm on the top of a ridge (with a metal frame on your back, nonetheless), you can fall into a pile of horse poop, or you can even sit on a decaying log and have it roll onto and almost break your leg. All of which has happened here in the Pecos while backpacking.

I love the Pecos Wilderness. It is such a magnificent place where many of the beauties that God has created are manifest! Look at the views:

Like always, we saw our share of wildlife. We saw cows, horses, elk, deer, big horn sheep, marmots, squirrels, chipmunks, and wild mountain hamsters.

Lunch time!

If you know me, you will know that whenever I see an awesome mountain lake like the one below, I get an irresistible urge to take a dip. So that's what I do. The Truchas Lakes are among the coldest I have ever been in. They are fed by glaciers on the side of the mountain.

Can you believe that, after literally freezing my butt off to swim across, these guys would sneak up behind me and throw snowballs? I mean, how cruel can you get?

We made it! (even though Baby Dillon had to use a floaty...)

After three attempts at summiting Truchas Peak (NM's 2nd highest peak at 13,106 feet), we finally did it! And boy was the view spectacular!

After some fun on Truchas Peak, we headed over to Middle Truchas (which was a longer hike than we expected) for some more great views and boulder rolling. And, to get down from the mountain, we decided to take the "short" route. Straight down. Gosh, we must be crazy.

Here we are walking on the ridge and heading towards Pecos Baldy. We had a good time hiking, hunting marmots/Baby Dillon, and playing cards (like always).

We decided we needed to summit Pecos Baldy, so we started to climb straight up the mountain. Little did we know our summit would soon turn into an amazing rock climbing/bouldering experience with lots of loose rocks. We almost died. No joke. But it was worth it for the view and for the story.

We also decided to take the short route down from Pecos Baldy by sliding down a snow drift. Sean Naegle slid down the snow about 15 feet but gained enough momentum to continue another 25 feet after the snow stopped. Intense. Okay, fine: borderline stupid.

And after a week of hiking, our trip has ended! It was loads of fun; hopefully the young guys learned a lot (and not just how to almost kill themselves).

As tradition mandated, we stopped in Santa Fe at Blake's Lotaburger to have our first dinner all week that wasn't freeze-dried. It was delicious! I'm sure that I gained back all the weight I lost (and then some). But it was worth it. Notice the Blake's Lotaburger shirt that I am wearing to commemorate the successful completion of another backpacking trip. Yay!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Europe 2008!

Hello World! This is Sam, here to report the adventures of the Albuquerque Hobbs for the past 2 and 1/2 weeks! To start out, let me say that I took a lot of pictures (1585, to be exact). I'll try to condense this posting for a more convenient read, but I may fail. Please pardon my infirmities.

June 28th - June 29th

On June 28th, we left for the Albuquerque International Airport with plenty of time to spare. Our flight was delayed about an hour because of construction or low clouds or something in Denver. The nightmare started when we arrived too late to catch our next flight to Philadelphia. We couldn't even catch a standby flight all day because United Airlines overbooked. We don't recommend flying United... After 10 hours in the airport, we finally left to Philly (I gave a first discussion in the plane!) and arrived at around 2 in the morning. We missed our international flight, putting us 24 hours behind.

June 30th - July 3rd

We stayed on the beautiful island of Lido in a quaint, comfortable hotel. It was decorated with collections from around the world and amazing flowers and greenery.

After spending lots of money on some lousy food, my parents and I decided that Italian food is better in the states. For example, here is my Dad's Italian Salad:

Here is our private water taxi to the island of Murano, famous for its glass factories. The glass making was really awesome! It was here my parents bought lots of souvenirs. It was also here that my parents were royally ripped off. It turns out that you can buy glass in Venice for about a third of the price they charge at the factory on Murano. Don't even ask me why...

Venice is amazing! The only problem is that it is overcrowded with tourists; I actually enjoyed Lido and Burano more. Here are some shots in the touristy areas:

Saint Mark's Square:

Burano was unreal! You may have seen pictures of this place famous for its colorful houses. It was great just walking around.

We had a nice time hanging out in the Adriatic Sea on the coast of Lido. However, after my dad and I swam along the border of the island, and after laying out for a few hours, my parents and I were badly burned. We had some nice redness/burning/peeling/itching for the rest of our trip.

Here's one of the contraband pictures I took while touring the Doge's Palace. I say that if we pay the money to go in, we should be able to take some sweet shots, especially if we don't use flash. But whatever. Both me and my mom were chewed out a lot on this trip, in 4 or 5 different languages.

July 4th - July 7th

Beef, anyone?

How about Swordfish?

In the Vatican City, we were lucky to have a great tour guide. The Vatican is the richest place I've ever been! Everything is in marble and gold. Every room is elaborately painted. It is quite incredible.

I won't post too much Michelangelo because of his naked, buff caricature fetish (even the women are grossly masculine), but here's some Rafael (I like his paintings better):

Some Di Vinci:

The greatest number of naked statues. Ever. Luckily the religious authorities in the Vatican stuck fig leaves on most of their privates.

The Sistine Chapel was incredible! Sadly, I only took one contraband picture before being yelled at, and it turned out super blurry. The chapel was also crammed with people, it was a little annoying. Here's a picture from Google so you can see how much Michelangelo loved buff naked people.

Inside Saint Peter's Basilica:

Here's some shots of the Colosseum. It's quite big. And old. And cool.

The Pantheon is quite large also. Look how small the people look next to those columns!

My mom and dad threw a coin over their shoulder into the Trevi Fountain (the largest and greatest fountain in the world) to ensure a future return to Rome:

Here are some more things we saw around Rome. We did lots of wandering on foot because we got caught in the middle of a public transportation strike. Just our luck...

Sweet pyramid! This is a real Egyptian pyramid sitting in the middle of the Rome. Back in the day, the Roman's stole this from Egypt and brought it back to Rome. Pretty intense, eh?

July 8th - July 11th

Our next stop was Maribor, Slovenia where my dad spoke at another conference. The drive through Austria is amazing! The rolling hills, the grape vineyards, the scattered cottages and castles...

Here's the health spa that we had free access to through our hotel. I had fun working out with a bunch of big Slovenian guys while listening to American rap. Good times...

Through my dad's conference, we actually had some great food! I liked one dinner in particular with sausages, salads, soups, veal, venison, etc, etc. Sure beats the McDonald's that became my dad's favorite restaurant (probably because it was so cheap).

After the conclusion of my dad's conference, a tour of a turbine facility with a sweet super computer, and a 3 hour drive through the rolling hills, we stayed in Vienna for an evening before an early morning flight. We walked around downtown to take pictures. It was beautiful! I think this was one of my favorite places -- I definitely need to go back someday, if only to see an opera.

July 12th - July 16th

Our next destination was Athens, Greece. Wow! What an old place! Our hotel was very nice -- there was a swimming pool on the roof overlooking the city with a great view of the Acropolis. Sweet!

Our hotel even had this refreshing Grecian foot basin next to the toilet! Isn't it great?

My parents still ate at McDonald's more than any authentic Greek restaurant. It did help in saving money, although it didn't quite make up for the souvenirs purchased on Murano.

The Acropolis was pretty neat, even though it was undergoing some major restoration. The sad thing is to see how pillaged these awesome structures are. I'm pretty sure that the Romans stole all the statues for their collections, just like they stole the pyramid from the Egyptians.

The rock that my parents are standing on below is supposedly the same one on which Paul stood to preach Christianity to the Athenians. Cool, eh?

Some more cool things in Athens:

We all agreed that Greek restaurants are much better than Italian restaurants -- more food, less expensive, and better taste (I love lamb!). What more could we ask for?

This is one of the top 10 museums in the world -- the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. It was huge! Here are some pictures I took:

For my 19th birthday, July 15th (our last full day in Europe), we started our day looking at the Temple of the Olympian Zeus and the original Olympic Stadium. Then, we swam in the Mediterranean and soaked in sun on a private beach off the coast of the Greece. We ended with a nice Italian dinner with pizza and salad, and my parents surprised me with a delicious chocolate birthday cake!

July 16th

Our journey ended after 22 hours of travel. There was a national public transportation strike in Greece the day we left, if you can believe it. Luckily, we left early and found a bus to the airport that wasn't part of the strike. And guess what? I had a date in the airport! Here is a picture of me and Tresann. She's probably going to marry my brother when he gets home from his mission if SOMEBODY doesn't get his act together soon... And change the date to September 20th (or earlier)...

Sorry for the super long post, everybody! But I hope you enjoyed!