Happiness & My Favorite Holiday: Dias de los Muertos

Happiness & My Favorite Holiday: Dias de los Muertos

happiness, dias de los muertos

Proud to say this painting by Heather Calderon hangs in my home

 

Dias de los Muertos and Thanksgiving are pretty much in a dead heat for my favorite holiday so as you can guess, November is a big month for me.  So tonight some stuff related to the holiday to give you a little background and show you some great stuff.  Take a look and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

First a little history on the Day of the Dead

happinessHow to make sugar skulls

 

A link to one of my favorite artists, Heather Calderon, her work is fantastic and I especially love her Day of the Dead work.  Here are some examples:

1

My favorite piece, the reason I bought it.

2

Another piece of Heather’s work that I own

1 3 4

Finally tonight a few of my own images from my photo site, ZD Blue Images – Tasting Life with our Eyes.

 

 

 

 

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Himalayan Travelogue, Part 9 – Lobuche, David Breashears and a surprise

Himalayan Travelogue Part 9Lobuche, David Breashears and a surprise

happiness, everest

If you wait for the perfect moment when all is safe and assured, it may never arrive. Mountains will not be climbed, races won, or lasting happiness achieved. ~ Maurice Chevalier

I was feeling better this day as evidenced by my appetite returning with a vengeance, I ate a big breakfast, a big lunch and snacked constantly all day until dinner where I ate well. The walk was long and beautiful, down through Dingboche again lunch at Thugla and then up a really tremendously large hill behind the lodge. At the top we were in a field full of markers that commemorate lost climbers, it was a truly somber and beautiful place. We stopped there and took some time to recover from the hill and take in the monuments.
We proceeded up the valley to Lobuche(16,190 ft) and got settled in for the night. We had noticed that David Breashears was also staying at the lodge and it created quite a little buzz in our group.

The group got even more excited when Breashears came to join our group, turns out he had previously met with one of the people in our group. David was kind enough to sit and talk with us for quite a while and tell us about his glacier project. David is taking comparative photographs of glaciers, essentially taking the same picture that was taken decades before and comparing them to determine how much the glaciers have retreated. It is an interesting project and I was fortunate enough to meet with David again this fall and they are really making a lot of progress with the photography and the development of the website should be pretty amazing.

The next day was a hard walk, it was windy and cold and we moved slowly up the mountain along the valley containing the Khumbu Icefall.

happiness, everest

The Khumbu Ice Fall, a river of ice

These were my exact thoughts when I hit Gorak Shep (16,975):

“This place (Gorak Shep) is stark. It’s a climber’s place, lots of reminders of past expeditions and treks. Seeing some familiar faces from the trail, met a beautiful Spanish girl who is heading for base camp at Island Peak. It’s cold here, and going to be a cold night’s sleep.”

The day was also my friend Mark’s birthday, Mark is an incredible hiker and even with a pretty severe chest infection led our group most days. He’s pictured here below:

happiness, everest
We had put together a little bit of a celebration for Mark scrounging together some candy, chocolates, cheeses etc… and a couple of us who knew in advance were carrying small presents for him. The manager of the lodge even put together a little present for him. Unfortunately as I went back to my room I got the sudden urge to go to the bathroom, I say unfortunately because the urge trailed the action. I moved as quickly as I could under the circumstances and spent the next couple of hours squatting in the lodge’s bathroom.

My lack of energy two days previous now made sense, it was when the intestinal infection I had picked up took hold and zapped my energy. That I had picked up the infection was not a shock, it’s common in fact and I came prepared with ciprofloxacin and that little miracle antibiotic would cure me in less than 24 hours. The real issue was my soiled long-johns, it was cold, and base-camp was in two days, and there wasn’t a lot of heat in the lodge. The solution was to do some impromptu tailoring by cutting the soiled portion of my long-johns away with a knife. It wasn’t pretty and surely not to become a fashion (sorry I called you Shirley), but it was a necessary to stay warm in the mountains.

The second surprise of the evening was that the snow that had started as we reached Gorak Shep was picking up. The reason this is surprising is that November is typically a pretty dry time in the Himalayas and one of the reasons the treks run at that time of year. I slept hard that night and let the medication work its magic. The one thing I really liked about Gorak Shep was the view at sunset.

happiness, sunset

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Himalayan Travelogue, Part 8 – The Everest Marathon, skirts and up and down days

Himalayan Travelogue, Part 8The Everest Marathon, skirts and up and down days

happinesss, nepal

Nature teaches more than she preaches. There are no sermons in stones. It is easier to get a spark out of a stone than a moral. ~John Burroughs

We had a couple of people in the group who haven’t been feeling well, a number of people in the group had a chest infection. We hiked up to the Periche Aid station today to get people checked out, happily everyone turned out to be ok. Also in Periche I saw my favorite sign in the Himalayas, here it is:

happiness, everest

In all fairness English is a tough language and you see a lot of funny signs overseas when people translate, I was just happy to be someplace where they try. After leaving the clinic we popped over a little 600 foot hill and dropped down into Dingboche(14,105 ft) for the night. Before going over the hill, we were getting our gear together and we hear a bell ringing and we look up to see someone actually running down the hill we are about to climb, and then another, and another. We were actually witnessing training for the Everest Marathon, yes folks for some runners a marathon at sea level isn’t enough they have to go run one in the Himalayas.

We started out the next morning walking up the Chhukhung Valley heading to Chhukhung at 15,580 ft. The valley is a wide gently sloping valley with a small river running through it with amazing peaks rising up on either side of the valley, truly spectacular and even the skies that day were amazing.

happiness, everest
At one point on the way up the valley I saw a woman hiking in a skirt, I really thought I was mistaken until we met again later that day at our lodge and I confirmed she really was hiking in a skirt. She also turned out to be an amazingly beautiful and cool woman and we would run into her and her boyfriend a number of times on the trail, this is them below:

happiness, everest

It also turned out to be by far my worst day on the trail, I had no energy, absolutely none and I was walking like an 80 year old man. It was amazing, no matter how hard I tried I could not force my feet to move any faster. It was a day to learn how great my hiking companions and my guides were, people took turns hiking back with me and Lhakpa and Kim were absolutely amazing.  That day as the sun set we were treated to one of the most amazing sunsets I’d ever seen.

happiness, everest

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Himalayan Travelogue Part 7 – Higher than I’ve ever been

Himalayan Travelogue, Part 7 – Higher than I’ve ever been

I’m re-posting my Himalayan Travelogue posts from one of my other blogs, given my upcoming adventure, hiking the Appalachian Trail, I thought these might be an interesting look back as I prepare ~ Rev Kane

happiness, everest
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~Lao Tzu

We headed out of Namche on what passes for flat in the Himalayas, this then led to a climb, a very long climb up to Mong La on the top of a mountain for lunch (12,795 ft) this was the highest elevation I’d ever achieved and it felt great. I needed the rest at that point and we had a leisurely lunch. Then it was down, down, down to the river and then up a really magnificent hill to Phortse at 12,400 ft and a really great lodge. My favorite part of the lodge was the owner’s grandson who was a bit of an urchin and who was utterly fascinated by my beard which he proceeded to try and pull off of my face.

happiness, everest

Also had my first experience with an Asian squat toilet, they’re hell on the legs, must be one of the reasons the locals have such strong legs.

happiness, everest
The next morning I made the mistake of running up the stairs and suddenly felt lightheaded, so I grabbed my back and went outside to try and get my breath back and feel a bit better. About 10 minutes later one of our guides, Lhakpa, comes jogging around the back of the lodge to get me, the group was already well up the mountain ahead of us. The adrenaline burst took my mind off how I felt and I slowly climbed my way back to the group.

We spent the rest of the day on exposed trails heading to Pangboche, a really difficult day hiking for me as I started out feeling off and running late. Plus exposed trails really wear me out mentally, not to mention that we ended the day at Pangboche (13,040 ft), and during the day on the hike we hit (13,500 ft) my new highest point, a recurring theme for the next couple of weeks.

We’ve been passing a peak form different angles over the last couple of days and it is quickly becoming my favorite, it’s called, Khan Tega and it is pictured below:

khan tiega mist fix
Took a very cold shower in Pangboche and then walked out to take some shots of some truly magnificent vistas behind the lodge, an example below.

pangboche 2 fix pangboche 1 fix
We would be doing an acclimatization day in Pangboche and the optional hike was to go to base camp for Ama Dablam, the mountain shown below. The peak of Ama Dablam is over 22,000 ft and features a huge ice climb.

happiness, everest
Upper base camp at Ama Dablam which we visited is at 14,800 ft, which is higher than any mountain in the continental United States, so I decided to go and here I was only a few days into my Himalayan experience standing at a point higher than anything in the continental US. It was an accomplishment that hit me at the time, one I was proud of and also hit me because I was feeling the effects of the altitude and was happy to drop back down the 1500 ft back to Pangboche.

My actual notes for the day:

“It was cool to see base camp at Ama Dablam today with all of the tents set up. Walking through the valleys it was amazing clouds, snow and 6-8000 meter peaks (20-26,000 ft) and so quiet, except for the sound of the occasional far off avalanche.”

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Happiness is Poetry: Adrian Manning

Happiness is Poetry: Adrian Manning

happiness, poetry

I’m starting to the think Adrian and Hosho have a mutual admiration society in the works

Another recommendation tonight from our friend Hosho McCreesh, I really like Adrian Manning’s work and particular this first piece.  Check out Concrete Meat Press as well, fabulous stuff.  Have a read, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

 

AT THIS MOMENT

Darkness envelops this house,

rain has begun to fall.

Air is heavy and ominous here.

I see your face in the window

and the tears

of the centuries

run from your reflected eyes,

slow at first they gain

on each other.

I have done some bad

and useless things.

When the rain

and darkness are gone

they will still be

bad and useless things.

Silence will remain

to remind me,

building a wall

between us

as unavoidable

as history.

************************

SHARP

walking the streets

of san Francisco .

see that apartment up there?

that’s where Buk stayed

when he read here once

A.D. tells me.

the wild party, the broken window.

it’s legendary, I’ve read of it.

looking down, I see a

broken shard, like the old guy

himself, still sharp after

all these years

*******************************

RELIGION

by Adrian Manning

they come to the door

peddling their manifestos

and offering their reading

material.

I am not interested.

I tell them I worship at the 

Church of Bukowski

and I have plenty to read.

they look confused.

they don’t understand.

but you do

don’t you? 

**************************

You might like these as well…

Happiness is Poetry: Bukowski Again

Happiness is Poetry: Doug Draime

Happiness is Poetry: Suzanne Burns

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Himalayan Travelogue Part 6 – Moonlight Lodge and the Yeti Skull

Himalayan Travelogue Part 6 – Moonlight Lodge and the Yeti Skull

I’m re-posting my Himalayan Travelogue posts from one of my other blogs, given my upcoming adventure, hiking the Appalachian Trail, I thought these might be an interesting look back as I prepare ~ Rev Kane

happiness, everest
Today we start to go uphill, after doing some walking and crossing several suspension bridges we really started to climb, and at the two and a half hour mark we stopped at what I started calling a Himalaya Rest Stop, where several local women were selling fruit to the trekkers. I was excited to make friends with one of the ladies and buy the “last banana” at least the last one until we were up the trail I’m sure. The stop had a much bigger significance however, it was the first spot where we had a view of Mt. Everest.

happiness, everest

happiness, everest
As the day closed we arrived at Namche Bazaar (11,315 ft) essentially a giant swap meet in the middle of the mountains. Namche is the place where Tibetans who have walked over the mountains, often in sneakers, come to sell their wares. The village also has internet shops, bakeries and most importantly hot showers and the last sit down toilets on the trail.
Getting to Namche was great and I was thankful for an acclimatization day the next day as I wasn’t feeling great, but then again, 11,000 feet, a tough day walking and a bit of sunburn will do that to you.

The next morning has me very excited, I’m a big believer in Bigfoot and its Himalayan cousin the Yeti, to the point that my brother and I produce a website related to this and related topics, www.dystopiantimes.com. I’m excited because today we will visit a Gompa in Khumjung where they monks have a purported Yeti Skull.

happiness, bigfoot, yeti

Me and Stretch on the way to the Yeti Skull

Acclimatization day does not mean rest day, in fact the goal is to go up a thousand feet or so and then come back down to sleep lower than you climbed. We climbed up above Namche with amazing views in the clear November skies including Ama Dablam, Everest and Lhotse. The crazy thing is way up here on the mountain at 12,000 feet we came across a dirt airstrip and actually got to see a plane take off, it was wild.

happiness 307
We walked to Khunde for lunch and visited one of the mountain health clinics and then the big attraction for the day, the Khumjung Gompa and the Yeti Skull. Arriving at the Gompa we had to make a donation to get the caretaker to open the case with the skull in it, but once he did we got to get up close to the small glass container that contained the skull. Unfortunately the glass and the lack of light made getting a good shot almost impossible so here’s my best one below:

happiness, bigfoot, yeti

I’m a big fan of cryptids like the Yeti, but I’m also a scientist and the fact is the Khumjung skull is not a Yeti skull, it has been previously investigated and it turned out to not be the real deal, the link below can give you more information.  The history of the skull,  and a link to a picture of Sir Edmund Hillary with the scalp and it’s debunking.  All in all it was still a thrill to be in the land of the Yeti and be talking to people who truly believe in its existence.

On the way back to Namche we stopped and took some photos including my favorite one of me in the Himalayas and here it is.

happiness, everest

Rev Kane and a hiking friend

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Himalayan Travelogue Part 5 – Going To Lukla

Himalayan Travelogue Part 5 – Going To Lukla

I’m re-posting my Himalayan Travelogue posts from one of my other blogs, given my upcoming adventure, hiking the Appalachian Trail, I thought these might be an interesting look back as I prepare ~ Rev Kane

happiness, everest

Mount Everest

We landed at the Kathmandu Airport (elevation – 4300 ft) with all of the associated crowds and insanity, standing in line to get our visas, customs, changing over money and then trying to find our connection and ride to the Kathmandu Guest House (KGH). We did find our connection and a large crowd of gentlemen happy to help us with our bags for a tip of course. The other thing that happened, of course, was we had to wait for another flight and other guests before going to the Kathmandu Guest House. While waiting we got familiar with all of the operations at the airport including the taxi line, and it became obvious that gas prices are high in Nepal.

happiness, nepal

Gas is expensive, taxi drivers manually moving in the airport line

During the ride from the airport we would find out there was a general strike on, we saw marching crowds in the street and the traffic was unbelievable. At one point our van driver actually leaned out of the window and tried to push the vehicle next to us out-of-the-way. Then suddenly traffic would part for a cow in the middle of the road, it is a Hindu country after all. Finally we made it to the KGH, checked in and met our guide briefly, we were told when dinner would be and were left to relax and nap. Eventually we crawled out to the dining area and met a couple of folks from our trek and sat down for a beer and a snack. It felt good after traveling for two days to finally just sit and relax with nothing to do. We had dinner at a place called the Road House, met the whole gang and got instructions for the next morning, a very early morning call for our flight to Lukla. We did a quick bit of last-minute shopping, had a beer and crashed for the evening.

Up and out pre-dawn we piled our bags and ourselves barely into the van and made our way to the airport. The airport was already bustling with other trekkers and we hustled through the ordinary madness of the airport morning to finally find ourselves waiting on the tarmac for our Yeti Airline’s twin engine otter to be ready to go. It was a spectacular morning as the sun came up and gave us our first clear views of the big hills.

happiness, everest arpt 2
We boarded the plane, listened to the props start to fire up and a lovely tiny flight attendant in full uniform came through the cabin, I believe she actually sat on some of our luggage in the back the plane was so full. She came through the cabin with a tray that contained cotton for earplugs and Japanese Melon candies, actually one of my favorite candies. We rolled down the runway with the engines roaring and took off, flying the route to Lukla with the Himalayas out my window, it was truly spectacular and Lukla loomed in the distance.

Now let me tell you a little something about the Lukla airport, it is the exact minimum length an airport can be. When you are landing in Lukla the runway ends with the vertical rock face of a mountain. When you take off from Lukla, you take off downhill and the runway ends in a 1000 foot vertical drop off. About 10 month before our journey a plane full of German trekkers had not quite made the take off and crashed in the valley. We had been warned, this would be the most intense part of our trek and this is what I was thinking about, looking up through the aisle and out the window past our pilots to see the runway below us. When you land in Lukla you come down to the runway at a desperate angle and can see the runway screaming at the windshield at what seems like an impossible speed. You hit the ground violently and then you see the pilot literally jump on the breaks as the co-pilot drops the throttle and you start swerving back and forth as you fly up the runway. Just as you think you are about to hit the face of the mountain the pilot whips a right turn and drives into the unloading zone. If you don’t like to fly, don’t go trekking in the Himalayas, this was as intense flying experience.

The link below has a perfect set of images of what the trip looks like:

http://delaheaven.blogspot.com/2010/07/tenzing-hillary-airport-lukla-adventure.html

And here is a video of landing at Lukla, you can hear the release of tension at the landing.
It was both a joy and a relief to make it to Lukla (9350 ft), we ate a quick breakfast and hit the trail, our first day walking would effectively take us downhill with our first day ending in Monjo at (9300 ft). We hiked for 5 hours at a calm pace and arrived at Kailash Lodge, a really nice place, albeit with a cranky hiker on his way back down, the lodge even included in-room hot showers. One of the things that you hear before you trek is how horrible the conditions are going to be, smoky lodges with bad beds, no chance to shower, human fecal matter on the trail and terrifying wooden bridges across the gorges. It’s not true for the most part, over my 22 days I saw only one small wooden bridge, only one slightly smoky lodge, enough showers to feel comfortable and absolutely no human waste on the trails. The beds, well hell, you can complain about anything that can reasonably be called a bed, even if it is a wooden frame with a piece of foam for a mattress.

Here below are my exact thoughts that I wrote that afternoon as I made it to Kailash Lodge:

“It was beautiful all along the trail, big mountains, crazy blue rivers, yaks, shrines, paintings, the bridges are all steel cable so not nearly as terrifying as I expected. Sherpas carrying insane loads, happy, dirty, crying and playing children, smiling people greet us, Namaste.”

A good meal, a shower, a snoring roommate and a surprisingly good night of sleep made for a fantastic first day in the Himalayas.

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Happiness is Halloween: Cool Stuff

Happiness is Halloween: Cool Stuff

happiness, halloween

Halloween is a fun time of year and I think we all have happy memories of trick or treating as children, so some cool stuff to check out tonight, enjoy and have a happy day my friends ~ Rev Kane

3o Great Carved Pumpkins

happiness, halloween

And for good measure, 100 More Pumpkin Ideas

happiness, halloween

Great recipes for a creepy Halloween Party

happiness, halloween

Pork Dumplings with Chile-Sesame sauce

21 Creepy Food Recipes

happiness, halloween13 To Die For Halloween Cocktails

happiness, Halloween

You might like these as well …

Happiness is Halloween

Fun Friday: Halloween Edition

The scariest true Halloween tale ever!

Halloween, the Devil’s Holiday?

 

 

 

 

 

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Himalayan Travelogue – Part 4, I’m goin to Kathmandu

Himalayan Travelogue – Part 4, I’m goin to Kathmandu

I’m re-posting my Himalayan Travelogue posts from one of my other blogs, given my upcoming adventure, hiking the Appalachian Trail, I thought these might be an interesting look back as I prepare ~ Rev Kane

happiness, nepal

As I was planning my time off I mentioned to a buddy at work that I was thinking about Everest and he said, “I’m in.” A lot of people say these sorts of things, hell there were at least 6 people who had hoped to join us on the trek, but in fact, he was in. We began the planning process shortly thereafter, reading, researching, looking at all of the trekking companies and guides available was a bit of a daunting task. Some of the things that became important to us were that the guide had some flexibility built into the schedule, that the company was more concerned with the experience but kept the goal in mind, and finally that they had some sensitivity to the local people. We had narrowed the search down to a few companies when my buddy saw a picture of one of the guides and boom; he decided we were going with them. Now to her credit, our guide Kim is a beautiful woman, but even more importantly the group she works with met all of our criteria and then some. Let me save you a ton of research, if you are thinking about trekking in the Himalayas, then you want to go with Kim and Lahkpa of Project Himalaya

happiness, Nepal

Lahkpa and Kim

The Project Himalaya team takes great care of their clients and the locals they hire, they pay them well and treat them with respect. It was a pleasure trekking with them and I’ve recommended them too many friends. Now in planning this trip one thing was apparent, I was goin to Kathmandu, and of course for the full year before this trip Bob Seger echoed through my mind, so listen to Bob sing I’m goin to Kathmandu

The day finally came, after all of the training, gear purchasing and planning we were heading to the airport in San Francisco to leave it was the end of October, 2009. Now you get your Nepal Visa at the airport in Kathmandu unfortunately my ticket agent for Singapore Air at the counter didn’t know this, nor did she believe me. Neither did her supervisor and finally after a 5 minute discussion the clerk from the next window, who had processed my friend in like 30 seconds came over and took the responsibility. So a piece of advice, have your visa forms and pics accessible when you check in to avoid any issues. I will say this, that one glitch was the only negative thing I have to say about Singapore Air they were awesome.

One of the nice surprises that came about in the planning was that we had to overnight in Singapore on the way to Kathmandu, I’d never been there before and had a great time doing the one-day Singapore tour. I really recommend the botanical gardens and a heads up, Singapore is a crowded and interesting big city I had a blast there and plan to go back. Of course we got caught in a horrible thunderstorm at the gardens but 3 lovely lady Brits helped the time and the storm pass with us under an overhang. Below are a couple of pics from Singapore

happiness, travel

Christmas in Singapore

happiness, travel

New friend at the Botanical Gardens

Finally we boarded the plane and flew into Kathmandu, God how I love the insanity of airports in the developing world. It was great to be on the ground after 22 hours of flying and we were ready to start our journey.

happiness, nepal

Gas is expensive, taxi drivers manually moving in the airport line

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Himalayan Travelogue – Part 3, Welcome to Utah

Himalayan Travelogue – Part 3, Welcome to Utah

I’m re-posting my Himalayan Travelogue posts from one of my other blogs, given my upcoming adventure, hiking the Appalachian Trail, I thought these might be an interesting look back as I prepare ~ Rev Kane

happiness

My family’s cabin in Utah

Truly it may be said that the outside of a mountain is good for the inside of a man. ~ George Wherry, Alpine Notes and the Climbing Foot, 1896

I was fortunate enough during my time off to have access to my aunt’s cabin in Utah. The beauty of that place is almost impossible to put into words, the sage brush, the clear air and the amazing sunsets with a flock of turkeys as my constant company. There is a peace that pervades you out there that is hard to find anywhere else, I was blessed to have that for three months. My schedule for the time there was perfect, get up, eat breakfast and drive over to Bryce Canyon National Park, spend four or five hours hiking and come home. Eat, take a nice little nap, do some reading or work around the cabin, shoot the sunset, eat and the do some writing before bed. Life the way it should be moving exactly at the correct pace. I could spend time in this space today writing about all of the magnificent hiking trails and experiences I had there, but that isn’t the point of this piece, we’re on our way to the Himalayas and it’s time to get there. So instead, from my three months in Utah, today I’ll give you nothing but images to tell the tale, enjoy.

happiness bryce 4 598 bryce 4 631 bryce three 062 bryce three 100 bryce three 514 bryce three 949 navajo queen 108 navajo queen 125 navajo queen 153 navajo queen 155 navajo queen 187

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