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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Entries Tagged as 'General'

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Snowshoes to Brainard Lake‏

December 19th, 2009 · No Comments

Ever since Tuesday I have been unaccountably happy. Maybe it’s because I’ve been getting out regularly or because I’ve getting a lot more long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from fish (and a lot less omega-6) or because of the 10,000 IU of vitamin D I take every day. They each are supposed to counteract depression.

My greater happiness has become a virtuous circle. Because I’m happier, I listen to my favorite music much more. When I’m home, iTunes is on almost all the time. When I’ve driving, I listen to my iPod connected to my SUV’s speakers.

Being happier, I meditate more, which makes me happier still. Months ago I bought Shinzen Young’s recording of his “Five Classic Meditations: Mantra, Vipassana, Karma Yoga, Loving Kindness, Kabbalah.” He teaches Vipassana meditation, the path that I have been following this year. But with my present good cheer I naturally gravitated this week to his teaching of Loving-Kindness or Metta meditation. As Shinzen describes it, a way to start is to envision myself smiling not only with my mouth and face but also with my whole body and smiling at everyone I see. That may bring a little happiness to them, and it certainly brings a lot of it to me.

Years ago I discovered that meditation and walking or hiking work well together. Today I discovered that meditation pairs just as well with snowshoeing. [Read more →]

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Southwestern Colorado: Straightening Out the Twists‏

October 7th, 2009 · 3 Comments

My 12-day trip to Southwestern Colorado took a strange twist a week ago when I had an emergency operation in Durango, 500 miles from home. The operation went well and the hospital discharged me on Sunday.

But I was stranded in Durango. Traveling alone, I checked into a motel as I tried to figure out a way to return home.

The surgeon strongly recommended against my driving back. The main reason was that if I had to hit the brake hard, I could tear open the six inch incision in my stomach.

But the surgeon offered an inspired suggestion. “You can probably find someone on Craig’s List who wants to share a ride from Durango to the Denver area,” he told me.

In fact, I found two parties who wanted a ride from Durango to within 20 miles of my home. One of the parties was a couple, Jason and Christine, who wrote on Craig’s List that “2 of us (1 guy, 1 girl) are finishing a hike of the co trail 10/05 and need a ride from durango to denver. We each have 1 large backpack to take, willing to share all ride expenses of course. Cell 720-352-4029. Pls leave a msg, we don’t have cell or internet while hiking so we won’t be able to respond till the 5th.” [Read more →]

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Posted in: General

Southwestern Colorado: Twisted Plans in Durango‏

October 3rd, 2009 · 2 Comments

My photography and hiking vacation in Southwestern Colorado took an  acute twist last night. I ended up in Durango’s Mercy Regional Medical  Center for an emergency operation.

After two and one-half great days in Mesa Verde National Park, I drove  30 miles to Durango. My plan had been to finish my vacation with a 90- mile round trip from Durango to Silverton on the Durango & Silverton  Narrow Gauge Railroad. The train has been in continuous operation for  127 years through spectacular mountain scenery.

I even bought a ticket to go Deluxe Class from 9 this morning to 6 this evening. I also got a room in a Durango motel for last night and  tonight.

But about 7 p.m. yesterday I got a stomach ache that just wouldn’t go away. At midnight I rather sheepishly I drove to the emergency room in  Durango’s Animas Surgical Hospital. [Read more →]

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Alaska: Nome‏

September 1st, 2009 · 2 Comments

A few days ago when John mentiond that he knew a Methodist missionary couple in Nome, I said that I wanted to visit them. Today he set up the trip.

Since he needed to deal with some pressing issues at his church in Anchorage, I flew without him to Nome. This morning John suggested that I make the reservations in hopes that later in the day he could reach the pastors in Nome, Julie and David Elmore. He did contact them today, and they immediately said that they could put me up on an air mattress in the church and loan me a car. Because of the death of one of their congregation, they already had a lot on their plate, but they gave me a great welcome.

John asked me to write up and photograph what Julie and David are doing because John’s congregation provides some of the support for the Nome church. He also got his church to pay about half of my plane ticket on Alaska Airlines from Anchorage to Nome.

Eskimo Family Leaving Anchorage for Nome

Eskimo Family Leaving Anchorage for Nome

Booking a flight at the last moment didn’t give me the choice of a non-stop flight. Instead, I flew through Kotzebue. And that was just fine with me, because Kotzebue is even further north than Nome. In fact, it’s north of the Arctic Circle and is the second largest Eskimo village. [Read more →]

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Posted in: Alaska, General

Alaska: Moose‏

August 29th, 2009 · No Comments

About lunch time today I looked out the kitchen window of John’s condo. Just across the road I saw a mother moose and her two calves feeding on the neighbor’s trees. Of course, I went right out to shoot them.

 Neighboring Moose

Neighboring Moose

I am beginning to understand why people here in Anchorage aren’t as fond of moose as I am. Except for dinner. John cooked moose steaks for us last night. Delicious and low fat.

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Posted in: Alaska, General

Alaska: After the Rain

August 27th, 2009 · No Comments

Yesterday’s rain cleared the atmosphere in Anchorage so much today that we had a rare view of Denali. At 20,320 feet, Denali or Mount McKinley is the highest mountain in North America. It is 158 miles from Anchorage.

John heard from a friend that we could get a great view of the mountain from a hilltop park at the edge of the city. So we dropped our other plans and drove right there, getting this special view:

Denali After the Rain

Denali After the Rain

[Read more →]

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Posted in: Alaska, General

My Three Yellowstone Wishes‏

August 21st, 2009 · 3 Comments

Late last night after a 14-hour drive I returned home from Yellowstone National Park, which I had never experienced before. The world’s first national park, Yellowstone is in the northwest corner of Wyoming and a couple of strips of Montana and Idaho.

My month-long trip took me 3,600 miles to experience three wilderness areas and three national parks. On my way back from my High Sierra trek I stopped once in each of the four states en route, Nevada, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming.

My stop in Wyoming was the greatest en route back from California. It fulfilled the three wishes for experiences I hoped to have in Yellowstone.

The easiest wish to fulfill was to be able to stay and eat at Old Faithful Inn, a historic rustic-style lodge right next to the world famous Old Faithful Geyser. Completed in 1904, the Inn is either the largest or second largest log building in the world and uses lodgepole pine and rhyolite stone. Architect Robert Reamer designed the hotel asymmetrically to reflect the chaos of nature.

Main Entrance to Old Faithful Inn

Main Entrance to Old Faithful Inn

Ever since I saw the 2002 PBS series on the “Great Lodges of the National Parks” and bought the companion book of the same name, I wanted to experience the Inn. The book shows Old Faithful Inn on its cover and opens with an extensive description of it. [Read more →]

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Posted in: General

National Automobile Museum‏

July 31st, 2009 · No Comments

Until this afternoon I thought that I had already seen essentially all of the world’s great museums. Like the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, the Louvre in Paris, and the British Museum in London.

That’s why after spending hours in these museum giants I seldom visit museums any more. I am sure glad that I made an exception this afternoon by visiting the Harrah collection at the National Automobile Museum in Reno.

All the famous nameplates of yesterday and today are here — and a lot more. I saw dozens of makes that I never heard of before.

Like this 1892 Philion manufactured in Akron, Ohio. This was the only vehicle that company produced.

Like this 1892 Philion manufactured in Akron, Ohio. This was the only vehicle that company produced.

One of the First Horseless Carriages -- 1892

The museum has another vehicles made in 1892: [Read more →]

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Bonneville Speedway‏

July 29th, 2009 · No Comments

Who would have imagined that sedate old David Mendosa would some day race at the Bonneville Speedway! Well, he did, and that day was today.

He didn’t challenge the Bonneville Salt Flats record of 630.389 miles per hour that Gary Gabelich set in October 1970. But he did achieve a personal best of 101 miles per hour in his unmodified 2003 Toyota Highlander SUV “Susie.” Actually, Susie could have gone even faster. But David chickened out, remembering when at age 16 he got his first car, a 1941 Buick. The first time he ever raced it he blew a rod.

This newly minted speed demon would have never even considered racing on the speedway at the Bonneville Salt Flats if he hadn’t encountered a family from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, at the Bonneville Salt Flats rest stop off Interstate 80. The young father told him that at the very next highway exit he could drive right out onto the speedway.

Toddler Twins and Father from Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Toddler Twins and Father from Glenwood Springs, Colorado

“It’s a lot of fun,” the father of the twins told David, “but I got turned around on the way back.” David thought that with his good sense of direction that couldn’t happen to him.

But it did. [Read more →]

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Posted in: General

Strawberry Park Hot Springs‏

July 28th, 2009 · No Comments

When I wrote my friend Barry from Steamboat Springs on Saturday night, he wrote right back.

“Steamboat is beautiful,” he replied. “Are you going to Strawberry Park Hot Springs? Clothing optional at night! That’s my favorite outdoor hot springs.”

I told him that I had intended to go that night, but I was too tired after hosting our diabetes support group that morning and driving 270 miles from Boulder that afternoon.

But I woke up refreshed in a nice Steamboat Springs suite and decided to soak my bones at the hot springs a few miles from that classy resort town on Sunday morning. Even though I prefer soaking without a bathing suit, I’m glad that I waited for daylight, because it let me photograph this lovely natural setting:

Four of the Pools at Strawberry Park Hot Springs

I counted at least six pools. The pool temperature ranges from about 50 degrees to 104 degrees. Most people soaked in the two hottest pools, which is where I stayed most of the time. But the coolest pool is great for cooling off.

Strawberry Hot Springs is the best combination of natural and developed I’ve ever seen, and I pride myself on being something of a connoisseur of hot springs. With constantly fresh flowing water and no chlorine, I didn’t need a shower afterwards. The bottoms of the pools are clean sand, and steps with railings got me in and out safely.

The Hottest Pools are Closer

Soaking in these hot springs was one of the main reasons why I took this route through northwest Colorado rather than the faster but boring route through Wyoming that I had intended to drive until a couple of days before I left. I am en route to California where I plan on a two-week hike through the high Sierras with a small Sierra Club group. Aside from the location, a big attraction of that hike is that we will have mules to carry our loads except what we will need on the trail each day.

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Posted in: General