The Latest and Greatest, including a Mexican Standoff with an ornery Rattlesnake.

Otis, the Hippo. San Diego Zoo.

I’ve started and stopped this post on numerous occasions. Sometimes, I think that’s just how life works. So… here we go – again. And maybe again.

In the past two weeks since the LJ Half, life has just fast forwarded. I rested HARD – meaning that in spite of an itch to work out and run combined with my fear of spontaneously looking like Otis – I took a week off from all running. I may have snuck in a run on the Thursday after my race…. but even though it hurt the legs, it was more of a run for my heart.


Recovery week fun !

Again, sometimes that’s just how life works.

I did other things, though. There were lots of evening coffee or hot tea walks to downtown Carlsbad. And I enjoyed date nights with N after he returned from Yuma – so naturally, we went to Pizza Port.


Portzel love with my man. Love!

And then C and I hiked to Wild Horse Peak (3277′), a lower peak in the Agua Tibia Wilderness just outside of Temecula, CA. I’ve been lucky enough to visit more prominent peaks in the area, including Eagle Crag and Agua Tibia itself, but Wild Horse has never been in the cards… until the weekend before last. It was a hot day, as SoCal was experiencing pretty serious Santa Anas and in spite of our early start, by the middle of our hike, it was as though we were in a furnace.


Adventures in the Agua Tibia Wilderness and Wild Horse Peak.

At one point when we were bushwhacking up towards the peak, we encountered some pretty serious underbrush. Like…. tear-your-clothes-and-pack thorny underbrush. I was less concerned about potential blood loss, and more concerned about snakes. It just felt like a snake day. I don’t often think about stuff like this. Usually it’s the I hope I don’t get eaten by a mountain lion kind of day. But it felt like a snake day.


C descending Wild Horse, looking towards the East and some of Temecula’s vineyards. Snakes not included (yet)

After reaching the peak, we made our way cautiously back to the Wild Horse trail and rather than turning around and hiking 6 miles to the car like smart hikers would have, we pressed on. A few hundred feet from our turn-around point of a random dirt road half-way up to the Cutca Saddle on the Palomar Divide, we heard a LOUD rattle. C kept walking forward and I made a very controlled U-turn, while spying a MONSTER sized rattlesnake with the largest tail I had ever seen.


And then were stuck. Mexican-Stand-Off style with C on one side of the snake and me on the other. Double Fuck. It was only five or so minutes of waiting. But it was a tense five minutes, until the snake unwound itself and slithered through the underbrush behind a manzanita tree, tail rattling. Lucky for me, it was rattling in my direction. C made a quick bee-line towards me and before the snake could decide it was REALLY angry, we were rapidly retracing our steps back to the car. The 2.5 hour hike back was slightly, ah, tense and I don’t think we spoke for the first 30 minutes, as we were both spooked.

Thankfully the cooler full of PB eggs and Diet Wild Cherry Pepsi was worth the exertion. I mean – if we’re going to survive a rattlesnake encounter, we might as well have the Good Shit cold and waiting for us in the car.

Post-rattlesnake encounter, there was also a symphony concert. Playing the Prokofiev 5 was one of the most memorable experiences that I’ve had with the La Jolla Symphony. Everything just went right and there was an incredible connection on stage. The hour-long performance felt like five minutes. I was so happy that N was in the audience and we got to share it together.

Our review from the UT:

And finally, my folks came into town for a whirlwind five days.


My parents! Fresh off the Coaster in Encinitas! Hooray!

I tell you – even though they are retired, keeping up with them was hard. Between the late nights and over-consumption of Templeton Rye (Dad and N) and vino (Mom and me) – frankly, I’m detoxing my liver.


Relm date with Mom!

In reality, my parents are pretty awesome and I loved being able to spend time with them. Living far apart from family is tough – so the times we get to be tougher are always extra special. When my Dad mentioned that the only place he really wanted to visit was the San Diego Zoo because they, “have a hippo and I love hippos!” , I figured that on Friday – my day off from work – we would make it happen. We got to meet lots of cute animals. And some not-so-cute ones, too. Otis was the big hit, though.


Otis, Mom & Dad

And because my parents are super cool and totally awesome, they are also willing to do silly things, too.


Never underestimate your child, armed with a camera phone and photoshop skills.

In the end, I decided that I love Koala Bears, even as N says they are fake bears. And the Sun Bear was pretty cute, too. This one though, takes the cake…..icing and all.

sink_monsterSo that’s pretty much it.

Life is just humming along. My academic work year is wrapping up and I’m looking forward to quality time with N before he deploys. We have an idea about where we want to travel to “get away” – but no firm plans have yet been made. I’ve opted out of the final LJSO concert of the year, just because spending time with him is more important and I can’t even say with certainty that I’ll be in town for the final concert series. Instead we’re enjoying date nights and watching episodes of Modern Family. Or heading to Pizza Port or random craft brew places. Hiking and doing Summits On The Air work. And there’s another 1,000 piece puzzle waiting on the kitchen table. My running is slowly returning and I’ve been able to crank out a few 10 or 11-ish mile runs before my left lateral quad/IT band barks at me; I think I’ll ramp up my training for the AFC Half in late June. Hikes with C are still planned and I’m looking forward to some intense traveling and peak bagging with her. And of course – Bainbridge Island is singing her siren song, as always.

And above all, let’s hope for no more snake days. And while I’m at it, let’s avoid those mountain lion, cow, and bear days as well.

Yes, cows. Because they are large, will occasionally charge, and are naturally curious. But that’s another post all together.


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