Friday, May 23, 2014

The New Mrs Kucera

We headed to California to celebrate us gaining an new sister-in-law.
Along with all the other family and friends of the Gavin-Kucera clan.

So we made it a complete wedding and marriage weekend. Including staying with our friends John and Marissa who just got married in April. I wrote about their wedding here.

Remember the Jorissa's?

This is the about 3 houses down from their house on their street.
Where Thomas proposed to me in Aug 2006.
Only this was day and there was a white van there as opposed to night with Thomas' green little Saturn.
Rehearsal and Dinner
I only have pictures from the rehearsal and the reception because there was a no camera's rule during the ceremony. Which was actually nice to just watch it and not try to take pictures of every little event.
Thomas walking his mom down the aisle.

Christian waiting at the alter with John the pastor who did their marital counseling and then married them. The neat thing is, he also did our marital counseling. Only he did not marry us due to scheduling and location conflicts.

View from the rehearsal dinner.
Lisa and Christian found a beautiful Bed and Breakfast that really provided a beautiful packaged deal. There were 5 rooms, a beautiful place to have a ceremony, and a beautiful place to have the reception all on the grounds.

The grounds were exquisite.
You always have to show food when you stay at a Bed and Breakfast, right?
This what the morning of their wedding after quite some laughter.
There were 5 rooms that were occupied by us! The bride, groom, maid of honor, bridesmaid, 2 best man, groomsman, and 2 significant others.
It was such a relaxing morning of breakfast, a game of farkle, and then hours of getting ready before the big afternoon.
Ready and waiting for the first look.
The wedding happened here.
And then there were tons of pictures.
Including this selfie with Thomas' parents.

My nice picture.

Thomas' prom picture. Because that's how we roll.
Lisa did such a beautiful job planning this. I would have gladly had my wedding be this one. Loved every detail she thought of.
She had fabric for each guest to write on so a quilt could be made for them.

All of their tables were named after hikes they have been on or that they want to go on. We were at the Rainier table. Fitting.

She even included the parents and grandparents wedding photos.This is her parents wedding photo.
** Not Thomas' Mom's list stated previously!

This is my in-law's Keith and Maria's wedding photo.

The new Mr. and Mrs. Christian and Lisa Kucera.

My favorite Mr. Kucera. Sorry Grandpa, Keith, and Christian!

The wedding food. I got to eat a flower!

I absolutely loved to see all the Kucera family, meet all the Gavin family, and catch up with all of the fake family.

So excited to have you in the family Lisa!

1 Mile - The Difference Between Lena Lake and Upper Lena Lake

Let me tell you a little story about my first experience camping in the rain. With my crazy adventure of climbing Kilimanjaro, I have pushed myself more than normal to keep hiking in the elements. I have officially become a Washingtonian in that I go out hiking and camping even though it is raining. 
Sometimes I wonder about these people here. But when I pushed through, it wasn’t all that bad.
It ended up my friends Sarah, Craig, their dog Goose, and I. Thomas had to hold down the fort at home and keep the house from floating away. It was a crazy rainy weekend.

So we finally made it out and drove out to the Olympic peninsula to Lena Lake Trailhead where we set up camp on a Friday night. When I think back on it, it was perfectly dry when we set up the tents in the dark with our head lamps. I definitely need a new headlamp, mine was pretty sad compared to Sarah and Craig’s.

So we headed to bed in bear country. As I laid there by myself I realized it was the first time I have ever slept in a tent by myself. Weird. And then I got to thinking that the bear spray was in the tent with Sarah and Craig. And if a bear came to eat me and tore through the tent, there is no way I can unzip the 2 layers of the tent to get out!!!  Yelling for them was my only option. And with that thought I fell asleep.

We woke up leisurely and made a delicious bacon, egg, and zucchini breakfast with King Kong muffins. They are my new favorite thing that I nabbed from my new sister-in-law Lisa.

Ok, this is getting wordy…
Now for the hike info.
This is my view of Sarah most trips we go on. Taking pictures and trespassing. Ok, not really. Only kinda.

My first time ever staying in a tent alone. It was cold. But beautiful.
Look at us ready to hike in the rain!

Do you see these colors?!?!?
And there my friends, is Lena Lake. In the rain.

This is me in focus and the Dempsters not in focus. Clearly I had the wrong settings on my camera.

And their dog Marley Goose. This sucker gets white hair every where! But she's cute.

Moose print.

We rested here and took in the beauty. And realized that there are many people in the world who will never experience this view. Kind of humbling to think about.

Again with the colors.

I seriously cannot get over how vivid these colors were!
The 3 mile hike to Lena Lake was beautiful! All the trees are blooming and the spring flowers are out. There are not fields of flowers, but they were definitely all over. The hike itself was good. Not flat, but not too challenging. Definitely a place I will bring my kiddos later on.

Once we got to the lake and took a break, we started to get cold because we were wet and had stopped moving. So Craig headed back to the camp with the Goose and Sarah and I took the trail to Upper Lena Lake. 

A friend of mine warned me that it was steep! The look on her face when I said Lena Lake was priceless. But as we started up, it was definitely harder than the hike to Lena Lake, but I didn’t think it was all that bad. But at about two thirds of the way up, we rounded a corner and just looked up. And then I knew exactly what she was talking about. Wow. Switchbacks that went straight up. We started up, but a couple came down and said you couldn’t get through to the lake because of the sketchy snow. That was all we needed to hear to head back down!

We made it to camp at 3:30 and decided to head on back home because we had nothing to do for the next 5 hours until bed, and we were possibly not going to dry out or get warm! And thank goodness we did because seconds later the heavens opened and we all just laughed. We shoved the soaking wet gear including the tents into the bin on the top of their car and high tailed it home to the warmth.
Overall we did about 12 miles and it was beautiful. I would definitely recommend it even in the pouring rain, as long as you have good rain gear. 

Confession: I did go buy a rain jacket. I know we are in our no buying things year, but with my Kilimanjaro trip, I am making a few exceptions. And I am giving away 2 pieces of clothing in place of buying 1 piece for all of the items I have to buy for the trip. There is my justification.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Rampart Ridge Trail Hike/Snowshoe Trip

This winter with 2 of my 4 sisters living close to me in the Pacific Northwest, I really wanted them to experience snowshoeing with me.

And it turned into a hike half way up the trail and then snowshoeing the rest of the way with our buddies Kathryn and Montana. Did not expect to be hiking at all.

Next time sisters, next time.

Love Rainier for snowshoeing!
6 mile trail there and back. We attempted to hike the loop, but ended up coming back the way we came in.
 We are always up for a little snowshoeing adventure! 
If we can fit you in our schedule naturally. :)

Come visit us and we will go!
And enjoy these snow pictures as the temperature is now in the 80's for us up here!
I know most of my family is roasting down in So Cal in 100 degree weather.

Monday, May 12, 2014

I am Climbing a Mountain... in Africa

This crazy adventure started last December when I inquired about a friend’s address and it took off from there. Long story short…. She decided to hike Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa this June and I decided to join her. Thank you Andi for letting me crash your party. Hope you know what you are getting us into.
This is where Tanzania is in Africa
Mt Kilimanjaro is the top right of this picture.
The decision was not easy considering we have been trying to get pregnant for some time, but when we discovered we would have to do InVitro and we could not start until June Thomas graciously agree that I could push it off 1 month longer and go on this crazy adventure.
So here are the details of my adventure…
I am climbing a crazy tall mountain.

19,340 feet high. NINETEEN THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED AND FORTY MILES HIGH. Oh Crap. Sometimes it just hits be all over again. What on earth am I thinking?

Oh and by the way, we are going in June. To the other side of the equator. Where it is their coldest week of the year. Brilliant Mica, just brilliant.
Random side note. Did you know Kilimanjaro means Shining Mountain in Swahili?

There are 5 different zones we will be hiking through. Bushland/Moorland, Rain forest, Heath, Alpine Desert, and Arctic Glacier. I think that this website gives an awesome description of these zones.
The company we chose to go with is Climb Kili. So far it has been fantastic working with them. Look them up

When Andi was telling me about this craziness, before I committed, I asked about the training that needed to be done. Basically if you work out 5-6 days a week for an hour was the consensus. And then we also decided to do the longer route to better counterbalance the altitude.
Here is a video if you are interested. -
But essentially, these are the important details for our trip.
Day 1 - Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa begin at 7742 ft, 3 miles, 3-4 hrs, rain forest zone
Day 2 - Mti Mkubwa to Shira Camp 11500 ft, 4.5 miles, 6-8 hrs, rain forest to Heath. First views of Kilimanjaro.
Day 3 - Shira Camp to Moir Camp 13650, 5.7 miles, 6-8 hrs, Heath to Alpine Desert
Day 4 - Moir Camp to Barranco Camp, up to 15,000 end at 13,000, 4.6 miles, 5-7 hrs, Alpine Desert
Day 5 -  Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp, 13,200 up a 500 ft wall, 2.2 miles, 3-5 hrs, Alpine Desert
Day 6 - Karanga Camp to Barafu Camp, 15,200, 2.2 miles, 3-5 hrs, Alpine Desert
Day 7 - Barafu to Summit to Mweka Camp, 19,340, 13 miles, 12-14 hrs twilight start with a sunrise and summit, then back to camp. Alpine Desert to Arctic Glacier
Day 8 - Mweka Camp to Mweka Exit, 5400, 3.7 miles, 3-4 hrs, Arctic Glacier back through Alpine Desert, Heath, Rain Forest, and into the Bushland.

Oh my. Seriously a crazy adventure. And honestly, I am not sure why I am doing this. I think 35% of me wants the challenge. I have already been to Tanzania back in 2006, so I do not even get to check a new place off of my bucket list. But I think the other 65% of me loves adventure and loves quality time spent with friends. And boy is Andi going to get quality time with me!

So training to climb a mountain has also been why I have been so super busy. Every extra moment has been taken up with exercising or cramming a hike in on the weekends. Yes, that is why I crammed in 2 hikes that we did in the rain and in the snow!

And yes I did have to break my no buying things hiatus for this. I am borrowing most items from my climber friend Sarah, but things like unmentionables I choose to obtain on my own. Sorry friend, we aren't that close.

And Thomas will be posting the updates here that the company sends. So if you want to follow along, make sure you sign up for my email updates in the top right corner!