The new year began with snow. Snow and freezing temperatures. Awesome. That has to be an omen for something, right? Welcome to the year I turn 30.
Actually, the one-two punch of Christmas and my birthday takes on a whole new meaning this year as I approach the big 3-0. Let's be honest here... birthdays stop being a big deal when you reach the age of, oh....seven. I mean, you might have a party when you turn 16 and can drive, you go out and celebrate when you turn 21, you might have a little private celebration when you turn 25 and have (much) lower car insurance....but after that, there's a dry spell of about 5 years. But the 30th birthday....well, you have to celebrate that, right?
The thirtieth birthday is a dubious distinction. The end of youth? The official end of your twenties. The last time you have anything in common with college kids. I, personally, think the best is yet to come and I wanted to have a birthday this year that celebrates life, not getting older.
So I'm spending money I don't have and taking time I can't take to head to Peru for a trip of visiting relatives, and hiking up to Machu Picchu.
The boyfriend is NOT coming with me, but a good girlfriend from high school days (who also turned 30) is. This is due to a variety of reasons, but mostly due to the fact that the boyfriend's company's national sales meeting is from January 14th - 17th, and I refused to move my trip. It's only partly due to the fact that said boyfriend is actually smarter at saving money and not going into credit card debt over travel than I am. I'll be gone from January 16th - 26th.
All this means two weeks with no boyfriend.
Blessing, or curse?
Weeeeelllll... Right now I'm thinking curse. I know, surprise right? But the boyfriend has been incredibly supportive of my upcoming jaunt. It's not like I know how to hike. I mean, I know HOW to hike, but what clothing to wear? Shoes? Water purification tablets? WTF? I have to carry all this stuff myself? ON MY BACK? All of those questions (and more) have been answered patiently and repeatedly by the experienced hiker that is my boyfriend.
And for bonus points, he has not once expressed any doubt that I can handle this hike. Not once. I mean, even I have deep down secret doubts.*
Which brings me to the "life is good part." This past Sunday, when the weather freakishly rose to about 55 degrees and rainy (pretty much the exact conditions I will face on the hike that will live in infamy) the boyfriend and I loaded up the dogs (numbering three with the re-addition of Azul) and headed to Turkey Run State Park to hike. I wore all of my hiking gear and at least felt like I looked the part. After my first fall in the mud, I felt even more like I looked like an experienced hiker. It's okay. I can handle this!
After my third fall, I was getting a little angry at this "hiking in the mud" garbage.
On the bright side, my shoes are definitely water and mud proof, my waterproof jacket is awesome and also definitely waterproof, and I found out that a sock hat is definitely the way to go, even though it means I'll have to put my hair into a ponytail while hiking. I also found out that yoga pants that aren't cotten are a suitable replacement for fancy-schmancy hiking pants with lots of pockets, the option to zip off the legs to make shorts, and that cost more than I would consider paying for pants that I'll wear approximately....once.
Casey and Azul spent much of the hike off leash and rolling around in the mud. I eventually realized that I fell three times while attempting to walk two dogs in the mud and fell zero times when left on my own. Since I will not be walking dogs in Cuzco, I feel better about my ability to not fall off a mountain.** Besides, it was really fun to watch Casey and Azul play. I think that watching dogs frolic should be part of any anti-stress, anti-depressant, anti-anything regime.
Tyson really WANTED to be off leash and frolicking with the others. Unfortunately, Tyson is not to be trusted. After our previous off leash experience with Tyson (where he basically took off running and never looked back...well, until it was too late to find us any longer) we have learned that the switch that is in Casey's head (and Azul's head) that makes them stay within at least 50 yards of us at all times is malfunctioning in Tyson's head. Apparently he just gets SO EXCITED!!!!
I hate that dog.
Still, even walking Tyson, the boyfriend had no trouble remaining on his feet. He stayed much less muddy. I wonder if that has to do with the "experienced hiker" part? Nah. Must be my new shoes, you think? They're just not broken in yet.
I especially loved coming upon the other (batshit) crazy people that we saw at the park. (I mean, who else would be out in the rain and why?) There was a moment of terror on their face when they saw our pack (where pit bulls outnumbered humans) coming towards them. Of course, once Azul almost knocked himself over with the momentum of his wagging tail, they realized that our dogs are only harmful to your health if you live with Tyson.
So after about three hours, we loaded our muddy selves back into our car and drove home. After showers and rubdowns, we found ourselves falling asleep on the couch around 8:30pm. All of us. Two humans and three dogs (one tipping the scales at over 80lbs) on one couch. If there was ever a time that I wanted to have a camera and photographer handy...
Of course, the next morning, the dogs were ready for another three hour hike and my muscles were...well... It must be because I'm turning 30.
*I'm CONVINCED that I will be that girl on CNN. You know the one. "Hiker plunges to death on birthday trip." Rindee swears she won't let this happen, but I'm convinced. Pray for me.
**That's a complete lie.