Thanks Jim & Jamie Dutcher for permission to use photo of Lakota.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Raven - and other stories NOT by Edgar Allen Poe

Ravens are the new rooster! Forget about alarm clocks. These magical birds can raise the dead. And, they have - each morning since arriving at the Grand Canyon. They caw and squawk beside my tent like lovers in a heated, passionate argument about something ridiculous, I'm sure.

Raven magic gives courage to visit the darker places of one's consciousness and shed light and change.  Native American practices teach us NOT to try and figure it out - therefore, I won’t.

Aside from ravens there have been multiple sightings of horses, elk, mule deer, prairie dogs, Asses, ostriches and several birds of various colors and sizes. Mountain lions are lurking somewhere but the saying goes something like this, “You’ll never see a mountain lion - and if you do, it’ll be too late!” They also say not to hike alone but until I meet someone willing to trek with me, I’m not willing to sit back on my haunches and allow splendid vistas, landscapes, waterways, and whatever other explorations can be experienced, pass me by.

The last awesome hike I did was the Narrows in Zion National Park, UT. However, it turns out I made one small mistake. The hike is normally 16 miles traversing in and out of water, up and down rocks - the first 3 miles running along a dirt road before actually hitting the river. I somehow managed to get immediately into a river (which fortunately dumped me into the right place), adding extra mileage and time to my hike – on private property nonetheless. There were no 
other people but there were others to speak of - cows - and lots of them.

A couple of days prior to the Narrows I combined two hikes to round out the day - Angels Landing and Emerald Pools. I think I wrote about this earlier – how the heat of the sun drained me but it was still quite spectacular. It wasn’t nearly as narrow as written about in pamphlets and online but I suppose it would be scary if you were afraid of heights.


Since completing the Narrows I took a short hike in the morning before work staying at Bryce Canyon, UT – clockwise around Queens Landing and Navajo Loop. It was strenuous only on the way up, once again in the sun and heat, and way overcrowded - well beyond my liking. Therefore, on my day off in Bryce I decided to venture off to Cedar Breaks for two short hikes totaling 9 miles, making for a lovely day. One hike was along the rim - the other, to admire wildflowers. After which, a splendid dip in Navajo Lake.

Round up…

Moab (Arches National Park) – met lots of wonderful people, enjoyed plenty of laughter, one incredible hike with no one around, rock scrambling, rollerblading, and yummy yummy foods.

Virgin (Zion National Park) – more wonderful people, the Wild West, OSCARS (Hungry? Don’t blame Oscars!), body surfing on the river (a few bruises), and an animal refuge.

Bryce Canyon – whoa Nelly! This was the least interesting of places although the hoodoos are impressive and this is more like the Wild Wild West. Everyone raves about Bryce and while I do understand why – it is way overpriced and way overcrowded. That said, I met some of the most awesome people while camping. Andreas and Peter – essentially, Gonzo (
Fear and Loathing)! They picked me up along with some cyclists crossing the country (Joe, Jocelyn, and Daylin) to enjoy a glorious sunset all together. Check out Joe’s blog There were also Joe and James – camping neighbors who allowed me to borrow their rubber cobra to play a joke on Bridget and Kate (I didn’t think Abe would be frightened). The jokes didn’t produce the results I was seeking but I wasn’t entirely disappointed. Morning coffee and nighttime stories were also shared with this duo while they remained neighbors. Of course, I cannot neglect to mention Mulee Pete! He’s a quick draw McGraw-type demonstrating the ways in which some of Hollywood’s finest gunslingers reached for their guns! He also taught me how to crack a whip.

The Grand Canyon is immense and the name quite fitting. It is monsoon season and it has rained everyday since our arrival. I LOVE IT! My tent did procure a few leaks – nothing major and I have fixed them since (I hope) – it’s been raining since I’ve been typing this and I have yet to see if the latest adjustments held mother nature at bay. I am optimistic. Thanks for helping me pull the fly taught, Abe.

Last night was Kate and Abe’s 9th wedding anniversary. I ordered a beautiful moon for the two of them. If they told me a week ago – I would have produced a full moon but they only informed me yesterday morning. On such short notice, what’s a gal to do? ☺ Bridget downloaded a sick song. ☺ The lovebirds and Bridge called it a night while I tended the fire until it died down and out. A little night reading – and out go the lights. 

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Peak Bagging Junkie & Utah Rocks

It's been a challenge to keep up on the blogging due to EXTREME fun! :) Oh, and work too. But, seriously - it is a challenge due to exploring places.

I suppose I should backtrack a little bit...

Spent a week camping in the Rockies. The best sleep I've had this entire trip! Nothing like waking and lighting my whisperlite stove to make the morning brew while all is silent and still. The first cup is an eye opening experience, inspirational and delicious, as the sun rises above snowy peaks and the moon lingers lazily. I am home. Evenings are equally inviting. Some nights a fire, some nights not, all while listening to the sounds of settling down or stirring. Closing with a chapter or two or three of whatever the current book may be by headlamp while tucked inside my sleeping bag cozy as an Eskimo. Zzzzzzzzzz.
Two awesome hikes in Colorado:

The first was 13 miles, 6 ponds, 2 or 3 waterfalls and 10,900 feet of elevation. The second was only 9 miles but with an elevation gain of 2800 feet over 4.4 miles and 360 degrees of panoramic views at 12,332 feet. Coming from Vermont I was expecting altitude sickness BUT it never happened, thank goodness. Had it once in my life and NEVER want to repeat the experience. I can live without the thundering heartbeats pounding out of my chest from every step taken or from every quarter turn made while rolling over in my sleeping bag. You can keep the headaches and nausea and the general ill feeling from everything swelling – including your brain (in this case, mine). It's wise to trek back down to where your body feels 
right again but stubbornness and fatigue reigned over me – this one time I speak of. Now it comes as no surprise - I was unable to bag a fourteener as planned, wished for, fill in the blank. Not possible without proper gear - ice axe, crampons, ropes, etc. I was informed by the rangers that some of the peaks and trails I desired to climb had regular avalanches and no one, thus far, had been able to make it end-to-end - so, save it for a rainy day - rather, another day and another time whenever time presents a new opportunity. :( I know - it breaks your heart, doesn’t it? :)
Berklee School of Music friend & family – reunited & introduced:

Jacques Aramand! It’s difficult to say his first name without saying his sir name. I had a wonderful visit with my friend Jacques Aramand and his beautiful wife, Lisa, whom I met once 10 years ago for all of 10 minutes. That is how long it's been since we last saw one another. AND, I met for the very first time (although, it feels as if I’ve known her ALL of her life) the lovely, Isabella. I watched Isabella growing up through Lisa's photographs. Lisa is a brilliant photographer. Check out her work – Dog Daze Photo. You know the saying, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree?” Well, it doesn’t! Isabella is natural both in front of as well as behind the camera. Also, Jacques (without sir name) is an awesome bass player and both he and Isabella rocked it out – he on the bass and she on the guitar – Led Zeppelin-style. I kid you not, her fingers moved fast. Oh! Did I mention Isabella is eight?
Movin’ on down the line: 

Utah bound – singing out loud to tunes on the XM - dancin’ and boppin’ and groovin’ and stompin’ and a little toe tappin’ too. Much of which was caught on videotape (Eeks!). The landscape changed as dramatically as a heartbroken Romeo. Did I say eek? I meant to say, geek! ☺ But it was AWESOME!!!
Moab madness: 

LOVE MUFFIN – I miss you! They make the best breakfast burritos and while we (Bridget and I) managed to have breakfast the morning we arrived, they closed the same day – for the next month. Drats!

HOT! HOT! HOT!!! We opted to stay in cabins in Moab in order to maintain regulated body temperature and our sanity - although I never wavered from my morning coffee ritual and cooking outdoors on the whisperlite at night.

Cindy took myself, Bridget and Alex (one of our boss') to look at petroglyphs and pictographs throughout parts of Moab. You can view some of the pics. Alex and I scrambled up rocks to take closeup pictures. Thanks for lending a hand when needed.

Arches National Park has phenomenal, picturesque sunsets! I took a drive and a sunset hike. The desert does bring out ones desire to journey on a vision quest. Driving back to Moab – sunroof open, windows down, Pink Floyd cranking - Whoa! There’s a deer standing next to the car door suddenly.

Took a drive to La Salle for a hike. Something was off. I couldn’t hike a mile. Not sure what or why. I decided to drive the La Salle loop and Route 128 along the Colorado River instead. A storm of strong winds whipped up and I looked out to see a ducky (a small boat) flipping downriver with no one in it. I pulled over and tried to open the car door but found I couldn’t [open the door]. The wind was THAT strong! When I could get out I was almost knocked down. All of the rafters WERE fine - lots of guides out there paddling for safety. Arrived back at the cabin to find a large tree DOWN in our parking space and next to our cabin. Had I NOT been out and about, the car would have been crushed. Poor tree. ☹ There were several others down in places too.

My favorite place to cool off in the desert was North Creek. I found it by chance and the locals were surprised I learned of it. It’s a short hike to a few swimming holes. I trekked on until I came to one with no one around – swam for a while, climbed the rocks, sat on one in particular in the middle of the river. I tried to find this place a few days earlier but was unsuccessful. There are several river crossings to get there and it’s easy to miss the first important turn.

Virgin, Utah! HOTTER than HOT! And, I know nothing about the virgins here but blessed be the virgins. Zion National Park known and named by the Mormons. Look it up! Opted for cabins again.

Went on a strenuous hike to Angels Landing and then looped around the different Emerald Pools. The SUN is what made it strenuous. I started at noon (I know, I should’ve started in the AM) and was exposed to the heat and rays most of the way. It was worth it although I didn’t find it scary as described – steep, strenuous, cliffs and drop offs, not for those wary of heights, the last ½ mile scramble has chains due to the narrow steep climb.

Last night I found another local swimming hole. Loads of fun! Kate and Abe and I trudged through the river. I think I must have LOVED slides as a kid because I repeatedly body surfed down the river, got out, ran back up and did it again - over and over and over and over about ten times. It was a BLAST! I did hit a rock twice – one downriver, one while swimming upriver. Minor. Today, I picked up a tube and I have every intention of abusing it! ☺ Did I mention my fear of water? Gotta kick it!

I MAY do the Narrows on Sunday. It’s 16 miles of hiking in the river but you MUST have a permit and arrange for a shuttle to the trailhead. This is proving to be a bit challenging due to time restraints and fees. 

Monday, June 28, 2010

Mammoth Cave to Rocky Mountain NP

Mammoth Cave, KY - Camped for two nights. Went roller blading. Abe compared me to an airplane when making my turns. I do not know how to stop but I have mastered a "California stop" which translates into slowing down - looking both ways - and proceeding with some caution and/or expecting others to stop. When temps reached 105 we packed it into a motel. B & I enjoyed margaritas and Mexican food. Later, a dip in the pool. It was empty for a few minutes until three awesome kids joined us - Genesis, Journey and Anthony. They climbed and clamored over us jockeying for position to jump off of our shoulders. Within moments there must have been 20 other kids leaping into the pool. Well, it only took a few seconds to imagine how much urine was building up in the pool so, we opted out.

Later we met a three-pack of hungry cats. One in particular - B referred to as Little Bit and I referred to as Little Little - was emaciated. We fed these cats while there and donated food to the motel before leaving. The manager and cleaning lady feed them daily. Hopefully they survive and find some quality of life. Turns out there were about a dozen cats there. Very sad.

Hit the road for Colorado. Took some crazy driving videos. Lots of singing to tunes and dancing in our seats UNTIL... Kansas! BORING! The same old, same old for endless hours. UNTIL... 
Colorado! Stayed overnight in Denver with B's friends. Awesome people(s) and simply a good time. Next morning, Boulder for a quick trip to Dot's Diner. I had to revisit for their biscuits. Once it was a hole in the wall at a gas station. Now, it seems to be a small chain operation.

Glacier Basin - camping for 8 or 9 nights and the best sleeping I've had this entire trip thus far.

Lots of elk!!! A total of 25 black bears in the park lands and an even lower number of mountain lions. Sadly, grizzlies and wolves are non-existent these days. They were once predators but due to their disappearance, elk have bred to overpopulation and are wreaking havoc. Additionally, they no longer migrate in winter and eat willows all year long stripping the area of this food for beavers and other wildlife. The NPS has installed several elk fences to prevent them from eating the willows allowing openings near the ground for beavers, coyotes and other small animals to retain access. Their hopes, elk will migrate again. Also, they are using birth control - collaring elk to reduce the numbers. They cannot reintroduce wolves and grizzlies to these parts due to the surrounding cities of Denver and Boulder, etc. because of the obvious - the park is not as large as Yellowstone and bears and wolves know no boundaries. Hence, a two-way danger.

Tomorrow is either a day of hiking, rafting or kayaking. Hmmm. Possibly a combination if there's enough time. Off to try to squeeze in a short hike tonight after I finish uploading more pics and drafting this note.

Oh! As far as work on this trip is concerned - the stories are coming in and are very interesting. BUT - I really want to get some rock climbing and hardcore backwoods stories. Need some locals to come out and submit their tales.

Next up - Moab (Arches National Park). 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Writing History On Mother's Day

The Honeymooners, the birth control pill, and Mother’s Day – sounds like the opening line to a bad joke but all three have at least one definitive thing in common - May 9th.  

On May 9th 1971 The Honeymmooners aired its final episode – a rebroadcast episode by Jackie Gleason.  Who can forget The Honeymooners with characters, Ralph and Alice Kramden and Ed and Trixie Norton, establishing some of the finer comedic moments in U.S. Television history with fabulous dialogue such as “One of these days – POW!  Right in the kisser! and... One of these days Alice, straight to the Moon!"

Also on this day - May 9th 1960 - the FDA approved the sale of the ever-controversial birth control pill.  To this day the battle wages between the sexes, the churches, and the government.

Mothers Day stands apart from these other two historical aspects as the date fluctuates yearly.  Celebrated the second Sunday in May, this year – in 2010 – the second Sunday happens to fall on May 9th.  While your own mother may not make history in the grandeur sense – she is one of the founding partners of your existence and perhaps as a result you’ll remember her with flowers, brunch, The Honeymooners box set, or some other gift of appreciation.  What memory will you create for your mother this Mother's Day, May 9th 2010?  

Copyright © 2010 Alyssa Polacsek & Latté News

Thursday, February 11, 2010

1800flowers VS. Valentines Day

I'm not a hopeless romantic but suddenly the idea of the Twilight series and 1800flowers joining forces is almost too tempting for even me to resist.  Suddenly, without mercy, Valentines Day is knocking at my door, chomping at the bit, biting at my neck, draining me dry, kicking, screaming, clawing, scraping - apply whatever cliche - it all effects one rapidly beating heart.  And, seeing how MSNBC recently singled out 1800flowers for their greater pricing transparency and more honest pricing polices than their competition - if you're thirsting for blood-red long stem roses, perhaps some chocolates, a couple of movies and the very sexy, penetrating stare of one young, handsome vampire - than you won't want to miss Twilight flowers DVD offer.  Of course, if you're in a relationship, you may want to make sure your significant other is not the jealous type - or he has the wherewithal to transform himself into your very own personal, soul-quenching vampire!

image by stock.xchange

Copyright © 2010 Alyssa Polacsek & Latté News

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name

Shall I compare thee to a summers day?  Thou art more lovely and more temperate.  William Shakespeare
Love can be insanely wonderful, joyous, with cause to celebrate - oozing out of your pores and touching all who come in contact with you.  You emit a warmth or sour taste to them depending upon whether they too are in love, they love love, or if they have been shunned by love, or they are simply out of practice in love.  Love can be rueful, full of heartache and tears when not met with it's reflection.  But, when it IS - it is magical.

Regardless of your state of love, flowers have the medicinal powers to increase or ease the sensations present.  Valentine's Day is a very good excuse to give flowers to someone you care about - even if that someone is yourself!  Look love in the eye today!  Your own reflection is love - the love you send and receive to yourself or others.  Why wait until February 14th?  Celebrate love today and everyday!

Copyright © 2010 Alyssa Polacsek & Latté News

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Parco San Marco - Star Studded Resort

With the entire buzz surrounding the Golden Globes and contenders like George Clooney aiding Haiti in relief efforts, it may be difficult to imagine taking a vacation right now.  However, if you are considering taking one, a Lake Lugano Vacation is worth contemplating.  And, who knows, you may very well run into one A.K.A. George Clooney, since he has a second home in the surrounding area.

This Spa Hotel in Italy rates as one of the top 10 beach resorts in Switzerland and one of the top 50 SPA resorts in Europe.  Beaches, pools, wellness spas, playgrounds, incredible vistas, and Lake Como Golf course located within 10 miles of the hotel translates into - pack your bags.  It's time to fly "Up In the Air" and treat yourself and your family to a fun-filled adventure or a peaceful break from work, news, celebrity gossip, and all things understood to be, "the norm."

Copyright © 2010 Alyssa Polacsek & Latté News
Photo by