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Published: October 31st 2014
Blog Entry 14
As most of you know, we have retuned to the United States. We are safe and sound
This will be the first of two final blog entries.
Now that we have bandwidth available ... later this weekend we will post a final blog entry containing a load of photos and some final thoughts on the trip.
This blog entry is Observations From The Top Of The World (Part 3), our continuing effort to share the fun little tidbits of daily life that turn routine travel into an adventure.
In no particular order ...
Thirty pounds of trail mix ... The group would like to thank Scott and Karen Lockard for the preparation and daily distribution of their most excellent trail mix. We all took advantage and we all appreciate your generosity. The Lockard's generosity was even more "generous" when you consider how much valuable weight the trail mix "fixins" took up. Thanks again.
Children's games ... the Nepali version of the game "Red Rover" is called "Go Monkey."
Taking hydration to the extreme ... As you know, at high elevations it is very important that drink a lot of water and stay hydrated. To that end, Jeff took to sleeping with a liter bottle of water ... which seemed like a good idea until one night ... after having a drink ... Jeff failed to properly reseal the cap ... and soon found himself soaking wet in a freezing cold tea house. He has had better nights.
Kathmandu vs. The Himalaya ... We have to admit that Kathmandu was a disappointment. We stayed at the lovely Hotel Shanker, but the city itself struggles from a lack of infrastructure and poverty that remain all to common on our planet. The Sherpa people of the Himalaya seem far removed struggles of Kathmandu. While none of us envy the porters who have to tote large loads from one village to the next, as a whole the Sherpa seem a bright, capable and generally happy bunch. Their communities (while rustic by western standards) are much cleaner and more organized than the capital. And the modern economy, which is largely based on western tourism, seems fit well with the Sherpa's traditional terrace farming.
Carolyn Griffin ... Adam's mom Carolyn quickly became one of our favorite commentators. We do not know what was more fun ... reading her effusive praise for her darling son Adam ... or ... watching Adam squirm uncomfortably as motherly praise was heaped upon him. We also had some of our own fun. One night we were disappointed to find that we did not have a comment from Carolyn ... but we pretended we did. We made up an outrageous comment where each sentence was more obscenely complimentary than the one before it ... the funny thing .... we were six or seven sentences in before Adam realized that EVEN HIS MUM would not that craven. When he finally questioned "did she really say that?" we all lost it and had a good laugh. All that being said, Carolyn may gush a bit, but she raised a Hell of a good son.
Speaking of Adam and Susie (who we love). They left us to continue their 6 week honeymoon ... riding motorcycles in northern Nepal. From there it is on to India.
The Good Wife ... Some of you have heard this tale, but it is worth repeating. Back in March, Matt's wonderful wife Sue requested a copy of the "gear list" for the Nepal trip. She wanted to the list so that she could organize her children to get Matt some "required gear" for Father's Day. Now for the record, Father's Day is in June ... three months after Sue requested the "gear list." And this is where genders differ. There is not a man on the planet who is thinking about Mother's Day in February (frankly ... in February ... guys are proud of themselves if they pick up a Valentine's Day card at Walgreens ... Mother's Day???? ... are you kidding?) but Sue was (i) thinking about Father's Day, (ii) identifying the location of the list and (iii) organizing the Ninos for gift giving ... and for that we give Sue the special Nepal Group Good Wife Award.
Yak Trails ... We came to learn that Yaks only know how to get to one place. If a yak is a "Gokyo yak" it only goes to Gokyo. It never goes to Everest Base Camp. If its a Base Camp yak, it only goes to Base Camp. Apparently if you try to take a yak to some place new, they just get confused. Good to know.
Computers That Do Not Work After Midnight ... If you recall from an earlier blog, when we flew through Qatar, we had a small Kerfuffle with our overnight hotel rooms. When we flew home we had the same kerfuffle, only this time it was exacerbated by that fact that the airline was unable to print a Visa/hotel voucher for us. The stated reason for this inability? ... it was after midnight (we are not making that up). For reasons that remain totally unclear to us, Qatar Airlines is unable to produce a Visa/hotel voucher if it is after midnight. Go figure.
57% ... The oxygen level at Gokyo was 57% of the oxygen level in Madison. While we thought we handled it pretty well, we did notice that our card play was not exemplary. While none of us made a "Jim Level Mistake" of calling a loner in clubs, when a loner in spades was called for, we all made really bone headed plays ... we are chalking it up to the altitude.
Speaking of Cards ... Apparently our Sherpa guides are big gamblers, so they took special interest in watching and learning the new game of Euchre. The "bowers" threw them for a bit, but what they found really frustrating was when the outcome of a hand was established before play was completed and everyone tossed their cards in (e.g. when a team got three tricks, but was not going to get five). We had to learn to play out each and every hand so that our "observers" could see and understand the outcome. We suspect there are some brutal Euchre games going on right now in the tea houses of Nepal.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished ... So on the way home, Jeff tried to help a guy out, and ended up stealing his Passport. Yep ... it really happened. On the fight from Doha to Chicago, Jeff was sitting next to a 22 year old college student from Saudi Arabia (he has finished his degree in Riyadh and is now going to attend the University of Oklahoma for graduate work ... so does anyone else think graduate work for a Saudi, in Oklahoma has something to do with petroleum? ... just a thought). Anyway, the young man's knowledge of English was suspect (he came to the USA early to live with his brother and improve his English by the time classes start for him next fall). He was struggling with the US Customs and Immigration Form. Jeff (with the assistance of a Jordanian cab driver from Chicago ... you cannot make this stuff up) was helping the young student with the form, using his own Passport and Customs and Immigration Form as a model. When everything was completed, Jeff scooped up his own Passport and form, as well as the Saudi Passport and shoved them in his pocket. When the student discovered his Passport was missing, we went on a hard target search, including getting down on our hands and knees with flashlights and looking under seats ... to no avail ... I mean really .... we are on a Boeing 777, 40,000 feet above the arctic ... the Passport is here somewhere. And so it was. After nearly creating an international incident, and embarrassed Jeff found the missing document and returned to a much relieved Saudi student.
There will be one more blog with a load of photos ... stay tuned.
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