Sunday, January 31, 2010

Where Mussoorie is!!:)

I borrowed this from the Endo's blog!! THANKS!! I don't think I ever showed you guys a map of where Mussoorie is located in India!! Well HERE we are, right above Dehradun!!!:) Click on the picture to make it bigger!!;)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

WHAT A WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!:) Can't believe it's Finnished already!!!;)

HEI (hello in Finnish)!! If you'll notice the predominant theme for this blog already is FINNISH!!! Not only my last name BUT a destination I am trying to get to this summer to run the Paavo Nurmi Marathon in Turku, Finland!!!!! After the entire night and early this morning of researching prices, flights, hostel availabilities, and my budget........YEAH IT'S LOOKING LIKE A GO AT THIS POINT!!!!:) The flight is half the price it would be from the states to Finland, which better do it now cause I can't count on my dream job in Scandinavia after Woodstock!!! AND Finland will be amazing!!!! SO THAT BIG NEWS OUT OF THE WAY!!!!! What an AWESOME week at Woodstock!!! Went to the gym EVERY morning and worked out, played some soccer with the staff, and saw the amusement little children and big children can have in the gymnastics room once again!!!!! 8 weeks is a LONG time without any children around!!! It's TIME TO GET BACK AT IT!!!!! Heck that's the PRIORITY why we're here right, for the students!!! Wouldn't be here without them and the love to teach them PE!!!!! Like anyone who teach's PE knows, it's by far the GREATEST job in the world!! And it's only been my 4th month doing it!!! YAY!!!! For all you runners out there who is looking for a marathon this summer and want to do an international one LET ME KNOW!!! We can totally hostel it up together in Finland!! That would be AWESOME!!!:) Well that's about it for this blog, a nice short one but with giant news!!!! The only way to do it!!!;) HAVE A FANTASTIC WEEKEND EVERYONE!!!!!:)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Post a comment!!!:)

No real point in this post except for ONE thing!! POSTING A COMMENT!!! It can be one word, heck a . or ! if you're crunched on time, it doesn't matter!! I bet Nicole my baked bread for her cookies that I could get 10 comments by tomorrow night (India time), if 10 do not appear by then I have to bake her bread, BUT if I get 10 then she has to bake me cookies!! DO YOU SEE THE URGENCY PEOPLE!! Okay there's actually no bet, but Nicole has been laughing at all my non-comments that my blogs get, while she's raking in the comments on hers!!! It saddens my blog, and a sad blog means.......well absolutely nothing, BUT let's do it for the sake of the children!! OH PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN IN THIS!!!!

Do you want this?!?! Then please comment, again think of the children!!!:)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

All I can say is...........


SKOL VIKES!!!!!!!!!!


Next stop.........Miami or Minnesota???

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Axe, sweat and heritage!!!!:)

I don't know if it's all this talk about Vikings, or having heritage from Scandinavia but I've been thinking more and more lately about the future after Woodstock, after Europe if I get a job there and what my dream is looking like!!! For some reason I've always had this sensation for the simple life, which is a big reason I moved to India, can't get any simpler than that!! Well you can, but compared to the states it's simpleton!! There's something about chopping your own wood, being away from technology (as I type on my computer), building your own fire for heat in the winter, growing a beard and no one judging your professionalism with it, and being miles and miles away from civilization!!! I think another big reason I've been really thinking about the simple life is I recently watched the movie Inglourious Basterds with Brad Pitt and directed by Tarantino!! Anyways, the opening scene is a French man (dairy farmer) chopping wood in a WIDE open green field that you can see in the distance for miles upon miles!! He lives in a simple double room wooden house, with 3 daughters, and he's got the typical farmer's outfit on, well at least what they wore back in the 1940's during WWII, suspenders, wool pants, and white cotton shirt!!! The thought of having the manual labor chores everyday, getting up at 6am with a hard days work ahead is such a fulfilling thought!! Then either biking or running 4-5 miles to school everyday to get my teaching on!!! I think this might be a possibility if I ever got a job in a small country town in Sweden, Norway or Finland!! Granted I'll have to learn and become fluent in their language, which I'm not complaining over here!!:) That'd be awesome!! Jeg er sa glad to do that!!!:) Ja sure ya betcha it'd be swell to have such a simple life!! And the best part about the simple life, IT'S HARD WORK!!!! Don't have machines doing all the labor for you, you gots to go and do it yourself!! Chopping wood in the middle of the winter to stay warm, in the SNOW!!!!! Well those are my thoughts right now, thought I'd share them!!!:) HAPPY DREAMING!!!!!!!!:)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Live life to the fullest......everyday

 It's been 12 days since the death of a dear dear friend Mark Johnson.  He considered me a brother in his eyes and I reciprocated similar feelings back.  I don't know why it took me so long to finally talk about it fully; maybe the grieving I thought was over was still down deep inside and needed a little longer, or it was how he died and the ugly truth that was there I didn't want to face and move on.  Either way I think it's time to finally get it out there and officially express my feelings about his death, who he was in my eyes and what powerful influences he will always have. How's that for a thesis statement all you English majors, haven't written one of those in about 2 years it seems.  Anyways, let's get the ugly truth out there so we can end on more positive notes.  Mark Johnson, for those who didn't know him, was Shakopee Tennis' Director of Tennis for 2 years ('07 and '08), a well known tennis pro in the cities, and friends to everyone he met! Prior to him being my boss for summer tennis, I took club lessons from him and Ron York my senior year of high school at Northwest Athletic Club in Burnsville.  Won't lie, preferred Ron's coaching style to Mark's!:) And when I heard he was going to be director of tennis at Shakopee I had mixed emotions. All of those mixed emotions changed the very first day I re-met him. After our coach's meeting he sat down with me privately and we talked about the upcoming summer and him knowing about my involvement with Shakopee Tennis the past 17 years, and his assumptions about my feelings about him being there and the fears I would have.  What he said next would change any thoughts I had about him immediately.  He said (word for word): "Steve, I know you probably don't think to highly of me right now coming into Shakopee as the new director and your new boss thinking I'm going to change everything, but please don't think of me as a "boss," but as a partner.  I know you're the big head honcho around here, I'm just here to make sure you stay on the right track and give advice when needed.  The last thing I want is to change things and piss you off.  You are the soul of Shakopee Tennis, I know this, the students know this, and the coaches know this.  I'm here to help you man, so let's keep things out on the table, in the open.  You got a problem, something pissing you off, you tell me, you say hey Mark I hate what you're doing man, let's change this.  I'm a very open person, and I'm really looking forward to working with you this summer." Mark had this 6th sense of knowing what needs work and what should just be left alone and tweaked a little.  Shakopee Tennis was Mark's tweaking!! With that being said it brings me to how he died and the frustrations we all have been dealing with since. Monday January 11, 2010 Mark committed suicide. Unfortunately that is my 4th suicide in my life I've had to deal with, 3 classmates and now Mark.  However, none have been so close to me like Mark was.  Which made how I dealt with it that much harder, but knew it had to be dealt with.  I don't give respect to death by suicide, it's a selfish death, and makes all loved ones around them filled with anger and "what if's." What if I talked to them more, what if I called them before they did it, etc.  I lose respect for that person, they become more distant to me, and cold as it may be, I grieve over their death a lot quicker.  My opinion for grieving with suicide is 1 day and move on.  He was a grown man and knew if he needed help he should have searched for it. What he did was unforgettable and HURT everyone around him.  I love Mark like a brother and always will, but the respect I had for him will die more and more each day.  You just don't do it, no matter what life throws at you.  Life is hard, we all know this by now, you gotta push through it and if you struggle seek help.  From family, friends, God, whoever you find comfort with you go there. I don't see the point in suicide, I don't see what good comes from it (NONE), and it hurts a heck of a lot more for those around you then a natural death.  If you want to give up on life and end it, then why should loved ones sit around in the after math grieving for you, you should be grieving for us, doing that to everyone who's shown you nothing but love. Sounds cold but that's how I feel and deal with it.  There's no one method in dealing with suicide, you just do what YOU feel you need to do to show what respect they deserve in the after life.  I believe 1 day is enough, then move on. If you feel they deserve more, more power to you and your beliefs.  I will not go into the issue of forgiveness with God, that belief will stay inside of me. Mark will be greatly missed.  When he was on this Earth he brought smiles to everyone.  The energy he possessed on and off the court was contagious.  He was such an easy-going guy and one of the best mentor's I have had so far in life.  Suicide will not change those feelings about him...ever! Tennis world has lost one heck of a coach and instructor, but most importantly we have lost one amazing friend. I will miss him greatly, along with everyone who knew him. Rest in peace Mark Johnson and your presence will forever surround the court.

"Take it easy, love you brother" -Mark Johnson

Binog Tibba Hike!!!!:) Part Deux!!!

Making it to the bottom of the river valley took us a LITTLE longer than we were planning on!! It was now 2:30pm, when we expected to be on Binog by now!!!:) On our way to the base of Binog we passed this small little village and asked for a path to get us there, they pointed us in the correct direction and within 15 minutes we were on the base of Binog!! As seen in the picture on the base was this resort with a SWIMMING POOL!! It was cool to see such a random swimming pool, a NEATO one at that!!!:) I don't know how clean the water was, but definitely wanted to jump right in!! Even though it was around 50 degrees!! We reached the base of Binog at 2:45pm and asked one of the locals around how long it'd take to reach the peak!! He said about an hour, so that was nice to hear it was doable within an hour or so!! Now there were several paths that looked like it would take us to the top, again we asked the villagers which one was the best, they pointed to one and BAM we began our ascent!! The first half of the hike up was along goat paths and basically heading upward, so no real "official" path to follow!! Again, what do you expect with us by now!! Who needs nice and easy paths!!!:) At the first "fake" peak we find a real path for once, one with ARROWS guiding us in the wrong direction!! Well they point in the correct direction if we're heading down, but needless to see them told us we're good to go!! The last 300 feet up was through thick weeds and grass with no real path once again!! At this point we're at about 7,000ft, so similar to that of Mt. Hermon!! It was only a 7,400ft peak, BUT with a 350 degree view!! It would have been 350, but there were stupid trees for 10 degrees of it!!! We made it to the top and waiting for us was a lookout tower and a temple!! The time was 3:50pm!! Only 3 hours late of our hopeful arrival time!!:) Now our biggest concern was heading to civilization with SOME daylight still!! I say civilization meaning paved roads, if we got to that point with darkness just kicking in that'd be fine!! To travel on goat paths in the dark = not classy/good!!:) We spend about 15 minutes on the top eating linner (lunch/early dinner) and then begin our decent to the valley!! What took us 1hr 15 minutes to reach the top took maybe 30 to reach the valley!! So that was a plus, AND there was still a wee bit of sun left to guide our way to our original path to the little village!! Arriving at the village with almost no sun left anymore, we ask the locals what their path is to reach Happy Valley, cause as all experienced hikers know, where there is a village there is a path!! They have to walk on something!! So one of the villagers tells Suman where the path is and wouldn't you know it, it's the FREAKIN PATH WE SAW ON GOOGLE EARTH!!! And it's paved!! It was about a 1,000ft hike up the paved road and when we reached the top we were SOOOO annoyed!! When we descended earlier that day through the jungle, if we would have kept walking on that road maybe 50 more meters we would have hit that paved path, INSTEAD of bushwacking it down!! That easily would have saved us an hour or so!!! BUT what's a hike without some bushwacking and adventure!! I mean that would have been too easy I say!!;) Well it's about 7:30pm now, we stop at the Staff Mess one more time for some drinks (soda/pop) and then head back to Mussoorie!! On our way home we ate dinner at Clock Tower Cafe and showed Leroy some good CTC food!!! Walked through the buz and got home at 9:13pm!!! A nice 13 hour hike day!!!! AWESOME!!!!:) And that is how babies are born!!! Hope you enjoyed!!!!!;)

Binog Tibba Hike!!!!:)

YOU KNOW IT BLOGGING WORLD!!! YOU KNOW THIS IS THE FINAL HIKE OF THE TRIFECTA OF TIBBA'S!!!!! COUNT IT!! Top Tibba (CHECK), Nag Tibba (CHECK) and now Binog Tibba (CHECK!!!)!!! Needless to say one of my goals for this break was to complete the trifecta!! HA, in your face all you non-believers!! Yeah I know who you are......TROY!!! *If there is a Troy out there who is reading this, know that I just made that name up and in no way are you a non-believer!! **If there is a Troy out there who IS a non-believer then that name stays true!!! So apparently the plan was to leave for Binog at 7:30am, yeah, never received that memo and Dave and Leroy showed up to my door at 7:45am asking "ready?!?"!! Mind you I set my alarm for 8am and was planning to leave at 8:30am, so my answer was "ummmm nooooooo!!" What a great start to the day!!! Then when we were ready to go we headed to pick up Suman who was also coming along!! However, he KNEW about the 7:30 departure and when he came to the door he was definitely in his boxers and just woke up!! Again, GREAT start!!:) FINALLY at 9:30am we were ALL ready and heading for Binog Tibba!!!:) Only 2 hours late, no big whoop!! Our plan was to hike through the bazaar, through Happy Valley and just drop off the hillside....literally!! We google earthed Binog Tibba and noticed through the valley between Binog and Happy is the quickest by far, AND we even saw a path so that was our plan!! Basically a b-line shot to Binog from Mt. Hermon!! Is the phrase b-line?!? That doesn't sound right or make sense!! Maybe I-line cause that's more straight! I don't know, whatever line we were going straight at it!! Well we make it to Happy Valley; quick sidenote Happy Valley is a Tibetan refugee camp where 95% of the population is Tibetan and they have AMAZING momo's at the Staff Mess Hall!!, and eat at the Staff Mess for lunch!! After lunch we head South towards the path we saw on Google Earth!! But, as all hikes go, we couldn't find the path that was so obvious on google!! We asked some locals (when I say we I mean Suman) about the jungle path down to the valley and they said "just go down the jungle"!! So we took that as make our own path down!!;) Typical hike for us!! Who needs real paths, it's all about improvision!! We head down the Tibetan village until it became jungle and from there kinda just followed goat paths and did some major bushwacking!! I thought it'd be easiest to follow a dry stream downward while everyone else followed paths North down the valley via steep grass slopes and rocks!! Well turns out my option took a LOT longer!!:) To get to the stream I literally had to hang on to trees while the slope is at an 85 degree angle and walk from tree to tree, hanging like a monkey with one arm!!:) It was awesome!! Oh not to mention the MASSIVE amount of stinging nettles around!! Yeah, arms and legs were definitely victims there!!;) FINALLY made it to the stream and of course that wasn't easy!! Oh forgot to mention, I just HAD to have my rucksack on that weighed about 35lbs that day, and was SO easy to carry around doing this monkey stuff!!:) While everyone else had their day backpacks which had a couple bottles of water and a sandwich, weighing at most 10lbs!!:) So get to the stream and it's all rocky and covered in moss, two points going down stream I literally threw my rucksack down so I had more agility in climbing down the 7-15ft drops!! That rucksack is pretty tough won't lie!!:) One thing that kinda stalled my decent was during minute 15 I heard this "UGH" in the distance and then "you okay?!?" haha apparently Suman had fallen!! It kinda made me smile a little, ONLY BECAUSE he is our rock climbing specialist and of all people he falls!!:) Bad luck he has on our hikes!! Our last one he tripped over a rock and banged his knee pretty bad!! But always did it with a smile on his face!! Love it!! Okay so here this UGH in the distance I yell "YOU GUYS OKAY!??" they respond, "yeah Suman just fell a little!!"  I pause........laugh a little......then continue!!:) At about the 20th minute of my decent I hear Dave yell where am I, and I respond STILL DESCENDING!! They already have made the 500ft decent to the bottom of the valley, I still had about another 100ft or so, CHOSE THE RIGHT PATH IT SEEMS!!:) I get past the steep decent and reach a more level walking ground, but of course there is garbage ALL around!! AWESOME!! Hike through that, descend a little more, and FINALLY after the 30th minute at the bottom and regrouped with the rest of the crew!!:) Binog Tibba hike CONTINUED.........

Winter Break coming to an END!!! Say it aint so Joe!!!

Well as winter break comes to an end it's always nice to review all the events that have happened in case you missed all 47 posts!!! Okay maybe not that many, BUT they were long, so it's understandable if you skipped over some!!!! Don't worry the review will be in bullet point so it's easy to read and not so wordy!!! We're taking the classy way in the year 2010 baby!!!!:) Oh and for those wondering WHERE is the Dodital Hike posts!! Well that is one adventure I am saving for my return to Minnesota and tell you myself!! HA!!!:) Cause I won't lie, there are some EXCITING things in that story that will literally blow your mind to pieces!!! I mean a billion pieces all over your newly washed floor, it'll be quite gross, but worth it!!! OKAY let's begin this review!!! All people who get jealous easy please close this!! Especially any teachers out there who only get 1 1/2 weeks of winter break and not 8, HA!!!! OKAY beginning:

2009/2010 Winter Break in Review:
-Dodital Lake 5-day Adventure
-Nag Tibba 2-Day Hike
-Top Tibba Day Hike
-Binog Tibba Day Hike (13 hours, so literally "DAY" hike)
-Christmas Dinner (WITH LEFSE)
-Failed Chadar Trek :)
-3 straight All Day Hikes during All Day Hike Week
-Pepper Pot Hike
-New Years Eve FlagHill Hike (spent the New Year on a hill under the moon)
-Bear Hill Peak Run
-Reaching peaks of 12,500ft, 10,105ft, 9,915ft!!
-Completing ALL major local peaks (Flag, Bear, Witch's, Pepper Pot, Cloud's End, Everest House (Camel's Humps), Top Tibba, Binog Tibba, Nag Tibba!!)
-Pony tail in my goatee (if you're a woman you won't understand the awesomeness and success that is!!)
-Rajpur Hike
-Won Settler's of Catan TWICE in one night!! And not just won, dominated!! (WHEAT AND ORE BABY!!)

I think that's it for now!!! Overall an AMAZING winter break!! So active and full of hike's up the wazoo!! Now for technicalities, Everest House and Cloud's End weren't during break, they were just as reference of hikes completed!!! I hope for all those who had 8 weeks had just as many adventures!!! Full of stories and amazing memories!! AND PICTURES!! Where are the pictures people, COME ON!!!!! Have an EXCELLENT rest of break Woodstockians!! For all those who didn't get 8 weeks off, hopefully your winter has been going wonderfully......WORKING or STUDYING!!!!!:)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

What 2010 and the next decade will bring!!!:)

Well it's that time of year to think, hmmmmm what kind of goals in 2010 do you want to achieve, and NOW since it's the turn of the decade what goals do you want to achieve in the next 10 years!!! Since we do it small then progress to large in India, we'll do: 2010 goals, what I achieved the past 10 years, and THEN the next 10 years!!!:) Hopefully all can be accomplished!!!

2010 Goals:
-Trek in Himalayas!!!!! (IN SNOW!!)
-Complete the TTC Challenge!!
*TTC- Tri-Tibba Challenege: basically we have 3 major hills around Mussoorie (Nag, Benog and Top Tibba) The challenge will be running to the peak of all 3 within 30 hours!! Doesn't matter order, just that I leave home and return home having been on all 3 peaks within 30 hours!!!:)
-Set the Woodstock record for hiking Nag Tibba!!
*current record hiking from Woodstock to Nag Tibba Peak back to Woodstock is 11 1/2 hours back in the 90's by Ralph Kliener!! My goal: 10 1/2 hrs.!! Show him what Generation Y is all about!!;)
-Run an Indian marathon!! (record a PB time)
-Run a Woodstock charity half/full marathon!!
-Memorize ALL of my student's names!!!
-Work-out 20/30 days and 2+ hours in each month!!
-100 consecutive push-ups!!
-25 consecutive pull-ups!!
-Send 50 things in the mail!! (mostly letters/postcards)
-See friends, family, anyone and everyone in the states when returning!!!!:)
-Have a New Years Eve date for the first time!!!
-Teach the CRAP out of PE this semester!! (can't really judge that, but hey it's a goal!!)
-Trek somewhere over summer!!
-more to come I'm sure...

Accomplishments the past 10 years:
-Graduated Shakopee Senior High School June 3rd, 2004!!
-Graduated THE University of Minnesota Duluth on May 16th with a degree in Physical Education!!
-Started my first job ever as Shakopee Tennis Coach in 2002!!
-Hired at Woodstock School in Mussoorie, India on January 31st, 2009 for PE Teacher AND first ever teaching JOB!!
-Ran my FIRST ever half marathon (Grandma's Half: June 17th, 2006; time: 2:02:03) and marathon (Grandma's Full: June 16th, 2007; time: 3:48:32) along with 4 others (Grandma's (3), TC Marathon (1), Minneapolis Marathon (1)!!
-Completed 15 5k's!!
-Hosted 5 straight Christmas Breakfast's!! Each year increasing in size both tree and people!!;)
-Had my first kiss/first date!!:)
-Was awarded Shakopee High School's 1st ever "Superfan Award" for being SHS's #1 Superfan!!! (Don't even know if they continued that!!)
-Received my driver's license (passed on the 1st try)!!
-Was accepted into the University of Minnesota Duluth March 26th, 2004!! (A day before they played the Gophers in the Frozen Four, that's how I'll always remember that date!! Quickly changed who I was rooting for!! GO BULLDOGS!! Who won by the way!!)
-Left Shakopee Summer Tennis (July 14th, 2009) as the longest member/working staff there!! (member: 17 years; coach: 8 years)!!
-Captain of Shakopee Tennis my senior year of tennis!! BRING HOME THE BACON TOMMY!!
-Moved to INDIA!!!:)

Goals for the NEXT 10 years of this journey called: "Life: A Steve Luukkonen Story ~ How will it go?/Who will be in it; will I ever eat a twinky again + do Snapple caps really know all?: By Steve Luukkonen Inc."
-GET MARRIED!! (Now granted if it's December 28th, 2019 and I'm not married probably not going to order one of those Russian Mail Order Brides!! Will wait for the next 10 years!!)
-Teach in Europe 2+ years!! (hopefully Sweden/Norway/Finland)
-Have kid(s)!! (Again if it's December 25th, 2019 and I don't have any, not gonna steal one!!)
-Get married on top of a mountain!!
-Visit 10+ countries!!
-Run marathons in 10 different countries!!! (hmmmm that may or may not go along with that last one!!)
-Settle down in the states in the final part of this decade!!
-Backpack Europe!!
-Compete in an Ironman Triathlon!!
-Learn REAL yoga and become fully spiritual with my inner self or something like that!!:)
-Hike mountain ranges in the states!!
-Get a Master's in PE!!
-Go to Shakopee High School 10 year reunion (2014) with the biggest and best beard known to man!!:)
-Run the Steamtown Marathon in SCRANTON, PA!!:)
-Participate in the 20 in 24 in Philadelphia!!! (A race seeing how many miles can you do in 24 hours?!?)
-Establish myself  with a summer tennis program once again (Shako OR brand new one!!)
-more to come....

Well that's about it for this years goals!!!:) We'll see how many more I add for the decade!! I'm hoping there will be more, for both decade and this year!! HAVE AN AMAZING 2010 EVERYONE!! AND A FANTASTIC NEXT DECADE!!!!!

"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves" -James Barrie

Chadar Trek headed North but turned South REAL fast!!!:) Part 2!!

Their response was, "Leh?? haha We can't drive to Leh, the road is closed!! It's closed 6 months of the year, from Oct-May!!" Now their are 2 major ways to drive to Leh, one from the South (Manali) and the other coming in from the West, and the West would have taken an extra 2-3 days of driving to do if we constantly road buses and not checked into hotels or anything!! We found out later (when we got home that the West route is also closed from Oct-May)!! SO BASICALLY we hear this news and get this gut feeling that this isn't gonna happen! Well we were tired and thought, hey these are only 2 guys, let's check into a room for a couple hours, get some sleep and then wake up with an optimistic attitude and ask other taxi drivers around town!! Coincidentally the taxi driver we asked about Leh was ALSO the hotel owner we got a room from!! Soooo at this point I was thinking, oh yeah he just said that so we would book a room from him, lame!! We check into the Kashyap Hotel and reserve a room until 9:30am!! Immediately we are out and don't wake up again until my alarm goes off at 9am!! Checked out and began our mission to find a taxi driver that would drive us to Leh!! We saw these group of taxi drivers and asked them if any of them would drive us to Leh?!!? A group response this time of: "HAHA Leh, that road is closed!! It's closed for 6 months!!" Now that gut feeling of this trek is not happening is a REALITY!! We ask if there is any way to rent a helicopter from here and fly to Leh, cause we heard a helicopter earlier fly by!! They said, no, but you can bus to a town about 10 hours West and fly out of their airport to Leh!! So at this point we're like okay, Manali isn't an option and decided to check the bus schedule back to Mandi, the main bus transfer point if we're going anywhere West!! Before we leave I decide to check out the flight schedule of this airport and make sure we can fly out when we arrive there!! So we head to one of the billions of travel agents there and ask about this flight!! Yeah, his exact words were "There's no direct flight from there to Leh, you'll have to go to Delhi and fly out from there." Now we're like OKAY CRAP!! This trek is definitely out of the question, can't drive there, and flying there would take another 2-3 days to arrange!! This was at 10:30am the decision of Chadar Trek was eliminated!!! I pull out the map and think of another trek we could do, which would be bus West to Pathankot or Nurpur and from there bus North to Tissa and do our own little trek to the Chandra River Valley!! It was doable!!:) Well we hop on the bus to Kullu at 1pm and arrive in Kullu around 3pm!!! There this is the time to make our decision about doing the Chandra River trek or not!! Well the decision was made for us, because we asked around and apparently ALL the roads were closed North of Pathankot ANYWAYS, soooo we couldn't even get to Tissa!! Not surprising seeing this is the theme of the trek up to this point!! Well we cancel out any trek's in Ladakh and decide to bus home!! To be THIS close to the Himalayas and have to pull out and head back South was sooooo disappointing/ANGERING!!! EVERYTIME we talked we could see our breathe, the air was SO fresh, JUST LIKE A MINNESOTA WINTER!!!!;) This is where I'm really missing Minnesota plows and the efficiency of them!! HEY you may think they do a bad job, but move to India and you'll appreciate them a LOT more!!;) We leave from Kullu at 3pm to ride to Mandi to transfer over to another bus that will take us back to Shimla!! Before leaving Kullu, Titu and I talk about other treks closer to Mussoorie that we could do leaving from Dehra Dun!! We come up with a couple and NOW our plan is to arrive in Dehra Dun and from there immediately start another trek a lot closer to Mussoorie!!:) Arrived at Mandi at 5pm, grabbed a quick dinner of bun omellete and chai then hooked up with the Shimla bus at 5:30pm!! (Total bus riding = 23 hours/36 total hrs.) At least the travel weather heading back was a LOT warmer then heading to Manali!! So that was pleasant!! It was 1am when we arrived in Shimla and found out the next bus to Dehra Dun was of course at 5am!!! NO other buses were available until then!! Thus, we put on some extra layers and literally camped out at the bus stop for 4 hours!!:) Met some interesting people while doing so!! There was this group of Indian labor workers that looked the same: long, tan potato sack coat, black trimmed beard, short black hair, and all looked they could break out in song at anytime!! But sadly no song!!:( Then I met William Cooker, assuming he was drunk cause there is no way an Indian native in Shimla would be named William Cooker!! But Bill and I talked for a while!! So that was nice!! We didn't sleep at all while at the bus station due to the fact all of our stuff was laying out and not that I don't trust Shimlaians, I just don't trust Indians!! NOR would I trust Americans if I was at a US bus stop, therefore not racist!! Just not trustworthy of bus people folk!!:) 5am comes around and we board, what is to be our FINAL bus ride!! Yeah during the time at the bus stop we talked about starting another trek right away, THAT to us was CRAZY!! Instead we plan on going to Dehra Dun and from there HOME!! Then start another trek next week sometime after getting some much needed rest!!:) During the trip home it was very clear so we saw some wonderful views of the hills at about 10,000ft!! Definitely above the clouds still!! Shimla to Dehra Dun went quickly LUCKILY!! We got dropped off near the Mussoorie bus stop at 3pm, where we planned on walking to the bus stop and find a taxi to drive us!!! Cause in NO WAY are we busing back up to Mussoorie!! Found a taxi to drive us, and on the way up, of course we couldn't drive up and arrive home and be done without anything else to slow us down, there was an accident!! Two cars collided when coming around a bend!! 2 were injured, NONE killed, and 2 cars in the middle of the road as a nice little road block!! Well knowing Mussoorie response time, this could be a 3-4 hour delay, aint happening!! One car could still drive so it drove off to the side, the other car was in no condition to drive, BUT was small and mini so 10 Indians and myself pushed that car off to the side of the road!! Don't worry it wasn't on fire, or gasoline leaking, it was simply demolished!! Accident out of the way, we finish up our trip home and arrive home at 5pm!!! THAT is how the Chadar Trek went!!:) No matter what I guess I was coming home with some stories!!;) This is Mussoorie from Mt. Hermon at sunset!! Looks like Lake Superior in the winter time when it's covered with fog/mist from the cold frozen ice chunks!!!:) That is Witch's Hill off to the far right!! It was completely cloudy and hazy in Dehra Dun!! Half way up to Mussoorie we broke through the clouds and had a beautiful sunny day!! The advantages of 7,000ft above sea level!!!:)

Final Numbers from the "Chadar Trek"

-35 out of a 52 hours on a bus/taxi!!!

-4 bus transfers

-200+ minor bus stops

-5 hours of decent sleep! (decent sleep = in a bed/sleeping bag)

-2 hours walking!!:) (an hour to the bus stop on Sunday, and an hour walking around the various towns)

-Stories from this trip = priceles!!! (Sorry couldn't resist!!:))

Chadar Trek headed North but turned South REAL fast!!!:)

WELL for those that knew about my trek and the dates I would be gone, you would know that RIGHT NOW I should be on my Chadar trek in the Zanskar River Valley!!! HERE is my story on how that is not happening right now!!!:) As you can see in the picture this is ALL the food I am bringing for the 2 week trek (18-20 day total adventure)!!! It's a lot at first, but that's 14 days without any civilization except a couple villages along the way!!! So YEAH that's a LOT of bags of trail mix!! We planned on leaving Jan 3 (Sunday) at 4:30am from Hanifl Centre and walk from there to Picture Palace bus stop where there we would hook up with the bus going down to Dehra Dun (left at 5:30am)!! Surprisingly at 5:30am a LOT of people need to get to Dehra Dun, cause that bus was PACKED!! Every seat taken, plus some standing!!! We arrived at Dehra Dun bus station around 6:45am and had to wait for our connecting bus to Shimla, which departed at 8am!!! 8am comes and we board the Shimla bus, making 2 major stops (and I say MAJOR stops, cause we took about 30-40 minor stops to let people off and on)!! Oh yeah, in India when you bus somewhere, unless you take the expensive Greyhound type (which we didn't, PUBLIC all the way) you stop to pick up anyone or let anyone off who needs it!!! In NO way is that frustrating when trying to get to a destination!!:) That's like taking an elevator in the Empire State Building, and pressing EVERY floor button before reaching the top!!! Anyways, we reach Shimla around 5pm and check the bus schedule for Manali (our last bus stop before transferring to jeep to Leh, our trek depart city)!!! So unless we wanted to wait until morning to leave for Manali it had to be an overnight ride, WHICH it was!! We left Shimla at 7:15pm with a full bus once again!! Two things about Indian public buses you should know!! One: space in between seats is very limited!! Two: NO HEATING!! So put those two together and add our 60lb rucksacks (hiking backpack) and 20 degree traveling weather, makes a GREAT combination!!:) Oh and I guess you could add a 3rd and that's my 6' 2" height, can't really adjust that variable though!!!;) Sleeping on the bus though wasn't too bad, we luckily had the ENTIRE back seat to ourselves for most of the trip so we could spread out on that!! However, it was BUMPY!! Holy schnikee!! You know how back in elementary school you always sat in the BACK of the bus, so when you went over speed bumps your butt would go FLYING in the air!! WELL, we sat in the back and it was elementary school all over again, and it was NOT intentional!!! Very un-intentional!! Trying to sleep when half the time we're FLYING up out of our spot cause we go over meteor type pot holes or anaconda size speed bumps is a freakin hard thing to do!! Not to mention 4 or 5 people on the bus were always PUKING out the window due to motion sickness, so we had a cold breeze flowing through the bus every 5 minutes or so!!!:) A great experience, none-the-less!! We only had 3 major stops (20-25 minor), and the last major stop was in Kulu where we transferred buses!! Of course the bus we WERE riding was empty, and the one we were transferring too was FULL!! AWESOME!!:) However, it was only a 1 1/2 hr. bus ride from there to Manali, so not too bad!! Arrived in Manali at 4am (total hours in bus so far = 19 hours!! Out of 23 total hours of trip)!! Not 2 minutes there the entire attitude of the trip changed!! There were 2 guys (taxi drivers) asking Titu and I for rides and we asked what time is the earliest can we leave in a taxi for Leh?!? Their response...................

What's up doc?!?! The Past 2 months: SUMMARY STYLE!!:)

HEY GUYS AND GIRLS!!!!! Sooooooooo it hasn't been too long since my last blog post!!! Only since November 27th, was my last post!! SO COOL IT!!!!:) For those who AREN'T teachers, here's a clue on what the last month of school is like before the end of a semester: HECTIC!!!!! You have grades, finals (for those who don't teach PE:)), comments, AND still try and teach a little before they completely tune out for winter/summer break!!!!!:) Month before summer break will be ridiculous!!! OKAY SO quick filler of the past 2 months that you've missed since I've been busy!! I found my dream job!!! That's announcing at any major sporting event!! We had Inter House Box Soccer and I got to be PA announcer for ALL the games!!! YEAH it was AMAZING!!!:) Think Harry Carey (Will Ferrell version) combined with THE Chris Farley's energy level!! A lot of DUMB comments but with lots of energy!!! MR. DANG NEEDS HIS TANG!! IF YOU FIND SOME TANG, PLEASE GIVE IT TO MR. DANG ASAP!!! Stuff like that!!:) So that was back in November!! After that things really quieted down with major sporting events and we could focus primarily on grading!! YAY!!! Every teacher's first LOVE!! That was pretty much until the end of the semester!! Once semester came to an end, we had banquet after banquet!!! First was Middle School Banquet Friday night before going down (when they travel down the hill to Dehra Dun and Delhi), then Elementary Banquet Saturday morning, THEN our final Staff Banquet that Tuesday!! Oh yeah you better belive the Tuba Quartet played AND the Staff Choir sang!!!:) If you have gmail and are NOT on my e-mail list to share pictures with, PLEASE let me know your address ASAP so you can be included in that, otherwise the albums will be LOCKED for you!! After all the banquets pretty much HALF the staff left that Wednesday or Thursday to begin their travels either home (most back to the states) or other countries to visit!!! Thus, for Christmas the hillside was very bare with barely anyone around!!!:) CHRISTMAS DINNER: at Mt. Hermon, at the Weibe's, amazing FOOD!!! OH AND YOU BEST BELIEVE LEFSE WAS THERE!!! The night before at Laura/Nan's we attemped Lefse for the FIRST time!! It turned out okay that night, BUT as any true Scandanavian knows, lefse is ALWAYS served at room temp/cold!! SO when we tried the lefse that night it was still somewhat hot!!! Not true lefse form!! WELL come Christmas dinner I left those babies out in a ziplock over night and when it came to eat them they were DELICIOUS!! Team Lefse NAILED IT!!!!:) And this was lefse made from the bare cooking materials!! No fancy lefse pan, blender to really get those potatoes smooth, AND even no patter masher!! Just a fork, and roller!!! Also, I made about 10 pounds of mashed potatoes that morning (30 potatoes) (both can be seen in above picture!!)!!!! Those turned out pretty good too, but more pleased with the lefse!! Grandma would be proud I think!!!;) No meatballs though, THAT will strictly be saved for the states!! Some things are just meant to be in the US!!! 12 Day Layer Countdown, Meatballs, AND goofy 5k's!!:) I'd say marathons but that one is definitely going to be open to countries!! A marathon in 26 different countries baby!! Why 26, ummm HELLO a marathon is 26.2 miles, I can't find .2 countries!!!:) Of course I could go metric and say 40 marathons (40km)!!!:) We'll see how the knees hold out!! ANYWAYS so Christmas went awesome!!! Oh before Christmas, all that week was the Hike To Christmas Countdown (this will strictly be India)!!! It's a day Hike starting the Monday before Christmas, and every day that week a day hike before Christmas Day!! We did 3 hikes!! With our longest hike to Nag Tibba 2 days after Christmas!!!:) It would have been 4 hikes, but come on we need that day before to make food!! ESPECIALLY LEFSE!! If you haven't noticed, we were VERY VERY excited about lefse!!;) Like jumping up and down when we finished the first one that had that lefse taste, okay maybe I was the only one jumping, BUT others were DEFINITELY jumping on the inside!!!:) So after Christmas week it was PLANNING/FINISH UP TRAINING FOR CHADAR TREK!!!:) We were leaving for the Chadar Trek January 3rd (Sunday)!!! Could NOT BE MORE EXCITED FOR THAT TREK!!!! A trek I've been training/looking forward to for 2 months and it's FINALLY HERE!!! (and yes we're going to pretend that I still haven't left for the trek yet!!) PLUS THERE'S GOING TO BE SNOW AND ICE!!! More ice really, but STILL, white ground, and 2 weeks of it!!! Also, at an altitude of 11,000ft in the valley, and peaks around us that are 18-20,000ft above sea level!!!:) AWESOME!! However, before I get to that trek, we had New Years as well!! Around 5pm we had a mini New Years Eve party at the Weibe's, playing Settler's of Catan and eating popcorn!!! THEN around 11pm we left for our First Annual New Year's Eve-New Year's Day Night Hike!! This time it was to FlagHill!! AND it was a full moon!! Talk about perfect!! The hike itself was only 30 minutes, so we had plenty of time to get there!! We hiked pretty much under moonlight the entire way, only a couple times did we have to turn on our head torches!! Made it to the top of Flaghill at 11:58pm!!! THEN COUNTED DOWN TO THE NEW YEAR AND DECADE!!! Started at 43 seconds!! HEY, India's unique like that!!:) The Wiebe's kissed, Darren and Cindy kissed, I thought about kissing Suman, but he probably wouldn't have liked that, so instead I kissed a rock!! It was a lovely rock, full of minerals and moss!!!!! I think I may have developed gingivitis from it!!!! WORTH IT THOUGH!!! And it's funny to think, STILL have not had a New Year's date/kiss yet!! I guess we'll save that for next year in the states, WHO WANTS TO BE IT?!?!:) Well I suppose what you've all been waiting for THE CHADAR TREK!!! Read that in the next post!!! Oh so fun!!:) IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK BLOGGING AGAIN!!!:)